NEWS STORIES, NATIVE RELATED PG. 2
The spirits of warriors
By Ed Brock
Stooping to sight the trail of his enemy, 15-year-old Jake Chappell dances the ancient dance of his ancestors.
Chappell, of McDonough, is a member of the Medicine Boyz Drum & Dance Troup who along with other members of the troup performed for a crowd of soldiers and civilians at Army Garrison Fort McPherson Friday in a celebration of Native American month. He is part Comanche and has been dancing since he was 4 years old.
"It's fun. You can feel it, it's like, spiritual," Chappell said.
Native American month is one of the Army's regular celebrations of the diverse ethnic groups that make up its ranks. Along with the dancing by the Medicine Boyz, the crowd that gathered in Jacobs Park got a taste of Native American foods like fried bread and buffalo stew. They also learned a little about the history of Native Americans in the military who have given their lives in combat from World War II to Iraq where 23-year-old Spc. Lori Piestewa, a Hopi Indian, died in an ambush near Nasiriyah.
The members of the Medicine Boyz represent several Native American nations, including Cherokee, Comanche, Apache and Lakota Sioux, and they have traveled around the United States, having been most recently in Mobile, Ala.
On Friday they performed the Buffalo Dance, Men's and Women's Traditional Dances, the Grass Dance, the Straight Dance and, along with members of the audience, the Round Dance. They came bedecked traditional regalia from headpieces to moccasins.
Eagle feathers are a precious part of the regalia worn by Chappell and the other dancers. Only people with a special permit can own them, Medicine Boyz member R.C. Mowatt told the crowd when describing the dance being performed, and the dancers are taught about the spirit of the eagle.
"Each time an eagle feather has touched the Earth we believe one of our veterans has passed into the spirit world," Mowatt said.
Chappell said Mowatt gave him the eagle feathers that adorn his bustle, a piece of the regalia that hangs from the lower back. It took him a month to make the bustle, Chappell said.
His favorite dance is the Men's Traditional, Chappell said. In the old days the dances were performed after a great hunt or battle.
"We would tell everybody what we did in battle without saying a word," Chappell said.
Chappell's 7-year-old brother Evih Ward is the grandson of another, more modern Native American warrior, said the boy's mother Cheryl Hopkins. The grandfather, Forest Kassanavoid, was a Comanche Code Talker during World War II.
The Comanche Code Talkers were used to pass radio messages in their native tongue that could not be translated by enemy eavesdroppers.
Hopkins said her own interest in dancing and powwows started 12 or 15 years ago when she became involved in a battle to preserve some Native American burial grounds in Georgia. Though her tribe doesn't traditionally hold powwows, at that time the practice was becoming more popular and she met some people involved in powwow groups during her campaign to save the burial sites.
"It was just natural and it felt good and it was a way for me to get involved in my culture that has been suppressed," Hopkins said. "I always give my children the choice to dance or not dance."
Chappell and Ward have embraced the tradition and Hopkins 3-year-old daughter Isabella Diaz joined her mother for a dance or two on Friday.
Friday's event was very enlightening, said Marion Monroe of College Park who works at Fort McPherson.
I think all our children need to be aware of their heritage," Monroe said, adding that most Americans are a mixture of ethnic backgrounds. "We need to be proud of that."
Navajo creation story brought to life
By Laura Banish/The Associated Press
Nov 23, 2003, 08:19 am
FARMINGTON — With winter being the traditional season for Diné storytelling,
nature seemed to be signaling the OK by contributing snow Saturday to the
dramatic reading of the Navajo creation story “River of Separation” at the
Farmington Public Library.
The story, adapted from Paul Zolbrod’s book “Diné bahané,” explains balance
and conflict between males and females through sacred beings First Woman and
First Man. Following a dinner argument between First Woman and First Man, the
Navajo men and women separate to resolve the question: Can one sex exist
without the other?
The men and women are tested during their time apart, and in the end learn
that they need each other and also gain appreciation for one another.
Rose Nez, who made a 75-mile trip from Sheep Springs to hear the story, said
she found it enlightening.
“I came out here through the snow just for this. I know the rest, but I never
knew about this part of the emergence stories,” Nez said.
Pauline P. Begay, whose family took up the entire third row, said it was just
a coincidence that they were at the library during the storytelling, but was
glad to be there.
“This interests me because it has something to do with our people,” Begay
said. “I myself was brought up with this a little bit, but a lot of these
stories are not being told like when I was growing up. We’re outgrowing that. Now it’
s not being told anymore and we’re getting away from it. Things like this
Begay’s daughter, Tamara Pioche-Lee agreed.
“That’s how the older generation was raised — by stories. It’s important to
do this,” she said. “I try to share as much as I know with my children. I
want them to know where they came from and be proud of who they are. Being
Navajo, it’s important to me that my kids know they are special because they are
Navajo ... The Diné teachings and stories do that.”
Saturday was the first time “Diné bahané” had been read aloud in script
format. Zolbrod, the author, said this is something he has wanted to have done
since the book was published in 1983.
“As it materialized, I kept dreaming someday it would make a nice dramatic
production. This is very gratifying,” he said.
Zolbrod, who began working on the book in 1970 while teaching at Allegheny
College in Pennsylvania, said his fascination with storytelling is what led him
to write the book. When Zolbrod visited New Mexico as a tourist in the late
60s, he knew he could make his dream of translating an oral tradition into print
come true. After 12 years of diligently studying Navajo language and culture,
talking to countless Diné people and numerous trips to New Mexico, Zolbrod
published his book.
“The challenge was to put it in English in a kind of English that did justice
to the sound of Navajo. Others have written Navajo stories as data, not as
poetry. I see it as poetry,” he said.
Zolbrod believes he has accomplished that feat.
The author retired from Allegheny 13 years ago and has since moved to
Albuquerque. He is currently a teacher at the Diné College in Crownpoint.
“I’ve gotten so much from the Navajo community that I now have to spend the
rest of my life repaying them,” he said.
Plans are in the works to develop Zolbrod’s story into a play. The book “
Diné bahané” can be checked out at the Farmington Public Library.
Tribes seek federal lands access to keep threats off reservations
WASHINGTON (AP) -- California Indian leaders told lawmakers Wednesday that they want the authority to cut trees, shore up hillsides and undertake other projects on nearby federal lands in order to keep disasters like wildfires and mudslides off their reservations.
Legislation introduced after last fall's devastating Southern California wildfires, which burned parts of 11 Indian reservations, would allow tribes nationwide to do that. The Tribal Forest Protection Act, which has bipartisan support in the House and the Senate, would let tribes apply to the federal government for contracts to work on U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management property near their reservations.
The tribes could obtain a contract from the interior or agriculture secretary only if they could show a threat to their reservation from the nearby land, whether fire, disease or something else. The primary focus of work would have to be to mitigate that threat, although tribes could also conduct secondary projects such as building trails or clearing streams.
Deron Marquez, chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in San Bernardino County, told the House Resources Committee's forest subcommittee that his tribe's 820-acre reservation lost nearly all its vegetation in the fall fires and remains at risk of mudslides from scorched federal land.
"There are millions of cubic yards of debris and sediment that are vulnerable to rainstorms on lands above us," Marquez said. "These unmanaged federal lands continue to threaten both our reservation and the local community south of us."
Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees forest issues, also testified in support of the legislation, which was introduced in the House by Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., and in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
California Rep. Joe Baca, a San Bernardino Democrat, was one of several lawmakers who spoke in favor.
"If you look at wildfires and then also if you look at mudslides in the immediate area, most of the burden or cost has been picked up by the tribes in the immediate area. They've not gotten assistance or priority from the Forest Service," he said later. The bill would help correct that problem, he said later.
Funding for projects under the legislation would work in the same way as the Forest Service's new "stewardship contracts" that allow private entities, including tribes, to bid on contracts to thin trees or restore forests in exchange for payment in money or in goods, namely commercially valuable trees.
The bill would set up a similar process, except that tribes would not have to submit competitive bids and the land involved is limited to areas adjacent to or abutting reservations.
Stewardship contracts have been criticized by environmentalists who say they can allow too much logging with too little oversight.
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is expected to vote on the bill next week; a House Resources Committee vote could come next month.
Copyright 2004 Arizona Daily Sun
Tulsa Lands "The American," worlds tallest bronze sculpture
Site to be selected by April for statue of 17 story Indian
Jennifer Tedlock 3/26/2004
"How exciting is this?” Tulsa mayor Bill LaFortune asked the crowd at the press conference Thursday afternoon. He announced that Tulsa has been selected to be the home of “The American”, a 21-story monument expected to draw millions of tourists and hundreds of millions of greenbacks to the city. Aaronson Auditorium erupted in applause. "This is not just a great day for Tulsans. It is a great day for all Oklahomans and all Americans. This will be the world's tallest freestanding bronze statue. This'll be the first built in this century with the latest technology and engineering that is available. This will be a symbol of unity at a time when we always are in need of unity and, perhaps, have never been in need of unity as much today as we've ever been,” LaFortune explained. “Unity of all peoples, of all races, of all colors, of all creeds. And to have this statue which symbolizes what we all are when you put the adjectives aside -- we all are Americans.”
LaFortune emphasized that the important thing was not only landing the statue in Tulsa, but achieving Shan Gray's vision for his work. He remarked that Tulsa is the city with the greatest Native American roots to his knowledge and has the greatest Native American population of any city in the country.
Osage artist Shan Gray spoke to the packed house. "As the mayor has stated I have decided to begin work with the city of Tulsa to locate "The American" monument in the Tulsa area. There are many factors that must be worked through in order to ensure "The American" finds the appropriate home. I've committed to negotiate to the city of Tulsa to find the site and the appropriate infrastructure and partner with the community to support its vision for the future,” he said.
Gray quoted an e-mail he received in favor of “The American Project” in Tulsa, then added, “Indeed, I am confident Tulsans will be respectful and vigilant custodians of 'The American' project. I look forward to starting this journey with you.”
A site is expected to be selected by Gray's self-imposed deadline of April 1, and though the artist lost one investor in the decision to build the monument in Tulsa, he said he has enough to begin work and is confident that the project will be privately-funded in full, including an endowment for upkeep - which some Tulsans were reportedly worried about. “The projections are that this project from the beginning can stand on its own.” Gray explained that one of his team's goals is to “make sure that it has endowments set up and the trust that will maintain it so it will not be a burden on anyone.”
NTN Article#: 4153
Shan Gray, artist of the The American Project postpones site decision for two weeks
Engineers need more time to study potential sites
Press Release 4/1/2004
Shan Gray, artist for The American has announced that his team will
postpone the final decision on a site in the Tulsa area for the 17-story statue for two weeks to give their engineers more time to study the sites.
Expected to make a decision by April 1, Gray said his engineers have
requested more time to study the proposed sites. The sites Gray is
looking at include Holmes Peak near the planned Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden in Osage County, Pioneer Plaza on a hill north of the Oklahoma State University-Tulsa campus, and the River West Festival Park area.
"The American Project team has requested an extension of time from
leaders here in Tulsa," Gray said. "Having chosen Tulsa as the host city, we now need to be absolutely sure that this collaborative venture moves
forward in a logical manner that can be beneficial to both the city and our
organization. It is in this spirit that we ask that citizens of Tulsa
give us a little more time to make the studies needed to be sure that, once
started, construction of this monument is undertaken without delays. Our
engineers tell us that further tests must be done to be really sure the
site will support this massive structure."
Tulsa city leaders have been in discussions with Gray and his team for
several weeks in reviewing potential sites for the monument, which would
become the tallest freestanding bronze sculpture in the nation. Tulsa
Mayor Bill LaFortune, staff, and the Tulsa City Council are agreeable to the
extension of discussions to include the needed engineering evaluations
required to make the final decision on a monument site.
The American Project team visited several potential sites in and around
Tulsa, Sand Springs and Broken Arrow in the initial site selection
NTN Article#: 4205
From Farmington Daily Times
By Valerie Gritton/The Daily Times
Apr 28, 2004, 12:18 am
BLOOMFIELD — It will take four to six weeks to restore Pork Chop Pass, an
ancient pueblito found in Largo Canyon which is comprised of two or possibly
It is in “pretty good condition,” said Larry Baker, San Juan County Museum
Association executive director.
For the past several years, Baker has been working in tandem with the State
Land Office to restore several deteriorating pueblitos found in the Largo
Canyon and Dinetah region, in San Juan County.
The ancient dwellings date as far back as A.D. 1696 and several are listed on
the state Register of Cultural Properties and on the National Register of
Already, the two organizations have worked together to restore pueblitos in
the county that were once on the most endangered list of cultural properties.
“Most of these sites have been known about for many years because they are so
spectacular,” Baker said.
Many of the sites have been vandalized and looted because they are so
well-known, he added.
Because the sites are so spectacular, Baker said it is important to preserve
the structures as soon as possible.
“Some sites are very well-preserved and that’s why it’s so important to do
this work now,” he said.
Using adobe mortar, Baker said it is his goal to restore the pueblitos so it
looks like no work has been done on the structures.
He would also like the State Land Office to help keep vandalism down by
placing signs around the structures. Without a proper permit, the public is not
allowed on state trust properties, however, people visit the sites anyway.
“This is our national heritage,” Baker said. “I don’t think we can
emphasize that enough.”
Williams Energy funded a grant to restore another pueblito in Largo Canyon,
The pueblito was two-stories tall and remnants of both stories still exist.
Around the pueblito, State Land Architect David Eck has found remnants of The
Citadel’s midden, or trash dump, and tree stumps, all that remain of trees
once used for roofing for the dwelling.
All but one tree branch used in the pueblito dwellings were chopped down
using metal-blade axes, Baker said.
Eck said of The Citadel, “It seems like people were living here for longer
periods of time, or more people.”
Scattered throughout the dwelling were ancient piles of ash, speckled with
bits of charcoal.
Even though State Land Office has been around for more than a century, Field
Operation Division Director David Coss said only in the past 10 years has the
agency been working to protect the cultural resources located on the office’s
13 million acres.
Coss said the office has been working with state legislators to put money
back into the land and restore some if its cultural resources.
The office formed a land grant permanent fund to help finance restoration and
“The trust is broader than just making money,” Coss said.
Baker said some of the San Juan County pueblitos are interesting because it
seemed there was a line of site communications system between close proximity
He also said many are still used today by the Navajo people for spiritual
Park says 'urgent' bison issue is under review
By LAUREN DONOVAN, Bismarck Tribune
A decision whether the Three Affiliated Tribes can have any more bison from National Park Service land in North Dakota could come this week.
An unannounced inspection of the tribes' bison in late March by a New Town veterinarian found 34 dead bison and much of the herd of between 580 and 660 sick and weakened from malnutrition.
Bison hold a sacred place in the tribes' culture, and allegations of inhumane and cruel treatment have caused concern among tribal members.
Tribal Chairman Tex Hall denies the allegations and said his own inspection found the bison in generally good health and good hands. Also, a Watford City veterinarian inspected the herd and reported it in overall good condition.
The tribes' base herd comes from Theodore Roosevelt National Park's North and South units when bison are culled to prevent overpopulation.
The park will re-examine a five-year bison transfer agreement in light of the allegations, said chief ranger Gary Kiramidjian.
A biannual roundup will be held this fall and the bison would go elsewhere if the agreement were terminated before its scheduled expiration next year.
Kiramidjian said he is still waiting for a report from New Town Police Chief Frank Felix, who accompanied veterinarian Kristi Pennington on her inspection.
Kiramidjian said he has made repeated requests for Felix's report and may have to proceed without it.
Kiramidjian said he knows the bison issue is urgent, but he wants all the information before making a decision.
This is the second year Theodore Roosevelt National Park has been drawn into allegations that the tribe's bison have been starved and mistreated.
This year, tribal authorities asked for a second opinion from veterinarian Bob Nelson, of Watford City. Nelson said he found some problems with bison confinement at the Mandaree site and satisfactory herd health at the Figure 4 Ranch in Dunn County this year.
In the meantime, all the bison have been transferred to the Figure 4 Ranch, because of grazed down pastures at Mandaree.
The tribes own the Figure 4 Ranch, which is nonreservation land purchased by the tribes in the late '90s. The federal Bureau of Land Management owns some 4,000 acres of pasture at the ranch.
The BLM recently inspected range conditions at the ranch. Any action would be taken by the Belle Fouche, S.D., office. However, the range conservationist there was not available for comment.
Tribal councilman Marcus Wells Jr. said the allegations of bison treatment were raised at a council meeting earlier this month and were to be addressed at the end of the month.
Haida ask Smithsonian for last of ancestral remains
The Associated Press
Published: April 26, 2004
PRINCE RUPERT, British Columbia (AP) - A First Nation group
has gone to Washington, D.C., in hopes of bringing home the
last of its ancestors.
The Haida Repatriation Committee will meet with the Smithsonian's
National Museum of Natural History to ask for the return
of ancestral remains in the museum's possession.
The committee made the same request two years ago but was
You can read the full story online at:
Indian writers bring literature to life for students in Pablo
By JOHN STROMNES of the Missoulian
PABLO - Monday was not your typical day at Two Eagle River School, the grades 7-12 alternative tribal school in Pablo.
Right out of the gate, Henry Real Bird, a 55-year-old Indian poet and rancher from the Crow Reservation, closed his eyes tight, thrust his arms toward the sky and shouted out a long, long line from one of his "cowboy" poems to a group of wide-eyed, 11th-grade students.
The silver conchos on Real Bird's belt gleamed in the morning sunlight; his black ponytail reached almost to his waist, and his yellow shirt had the top two buttons open at the throat.
"I'm the feeling morning after yesterday just before the sun a little beyond nothing on this side of everything dreaming of a feeling on a dream ..."
"It's beautiful to daydream," he then told the students. "You've got to have something to say. I'm not really in love with this world as it is, but this world is where I live."
Real Bird's visit was part of Monday's Celebration of Native American Literature at Two Eagle River School.
Right after lunch, right there in the lunchroom, Debra Magpie Earling, 46, the award-winning Salish novelist of "Perma Red," stood erect and stock still, only her lips moving, her voice a clear drone. She read a long, disturbing and violent passage from her second novel (still not published and as yet untitled) involving the stabbing and dismemberment of an Indian warrior woman.
Two students came up to her afterward in tears, so affected were they by the power of the words.
There was, of course, some time for teaching - traditional teaching.
David Moore, a University of Montana associate professor of English who specializes in American Indian literature, presented each of his students with a tidy, four-page study guide. He gathered each group of students in a standing circle, and asked them to read aloud poems of Indian writers. Each student read one line at a time, clockwise around the circle.
The chattering stopped, and you could hear each voice distinctly as the students took turns. First, the students read from Joy Harjo's "Eagle Poem" published as an audiotape and CD.
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun to moon ...
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky,
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings ...
After this initial reading, Moore asked the students questions: "Did you notice when we started reading, the room grew quiet and the poem became more powerful? Did you ever think of the eagle as a model of how to behave? You can open up the self like the eagle opening its wings. There you are, soaring, a circle of motion. We can take (the image) with us into everyday life."
More disturbing was the next selection, an excerpt from the book-length poem, "From Sand Creek." The book is a reflection in verse by Acoma Pueblo poet Simon Ortiz on the unprovoked 1864 Sand Creek, Colo., massacre of a village of Cheyenne Indians by a militia of whites.
has been a burden
of steel and mad
but, look now,
there are flowers
and new grass
and a spring wind
rising from Sand Creek ...
"A terrible moment in American history," Moore concluded. But not an isolated one. He mentioned a less famous, but even bloodier massacre, closer to home - the so-called Baker Massacre on the Marias River in north-central Montana in 1870. About 200 Piegans, most of them either elderly or women and children, were killed by the relentless gunfire of U.S. government soldiers armed with the Army's new Springfield repeating rifles.
It remains one of the least-known and least-told stories of American military history, according to some students of American Indian history.
"How do these images offer different angles on America and history? What does it mean for an American Indian to tell America about America's own heart?" he asked his class.
Many of the students seemed deeply affected by the readings and interaction with American Indian writers.
"I'm getting interested in writing. I'm learning writing is easy," said Allie Burke, 15, of Ronan, after the dramatic lunchroom reading by Earling from her novel in progress.
The daylong event was organized by Trent Atkins, assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the UM. He said it was part of a program called TERRACE, which stands for Two Eagle and Ronan Reading Acceleration for Content Excellence.
The program involves the Ronan School District, Two Eagle River School and the Native American Studies Department and the School of Education at UM. Teachers from the Ronan, Pablo and Two Eagle schools were also welcome at the workshop, and several joined the 60 Two Eagle students in sessions with the writers throughout the day.
Also presenting were Rhea A. Ashmore, professor of literacy studies at UM, and Allison Hedge Coke, author of "Dog Road Woman," which won the American Book Award for poetry in 1998.
Human bones found near Wupatki
By LARRY HENDRICKS
Human bones were uncovered Thursday near Wupatki National Monument, and preliminary findings indicate that the bones might be those of a prehistoric ancestor of the Hopi Tribe.
Ken Frederick, spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, said that a National Park Service ranger found the bones on an area of Forest Service land near the southern edge of Wupatki.
The location of the site is not being divulged, Frederick said, in accordance with an agreement the U.S. Forest Service has with the Hopi Tribe to protect archaeological resources and show sensitivity to Hopi cultural concerns.
Friday morning, Forest Service law enforcement officers and an archaeologist with the Peaks Ranger District went out to the site south of Wupatki.
"It appears to be natural," Frederick said, adding that the bones were likely exposed from erosion, not because the site had been vandalized.
But that is under investigation, said Andy Coriell, Forest Service law enforcement officer.
"We investigate all reports of disturbances of cultural resources as if they're crimes until we prove otherwise, and we have not been able to prove otherwise on this case yet," Coriell said.
Among the bones showing at the surface was a skull, but not all the bones have eroded out of the ground.
Angela Crossley, assistant to the Forest Service district's archaeologist, went out to site Friday.
"I went out just to determine the nature of the remains," she said. "Initial assessment indicates that they are prehistoric."
Coriell said that the site was left untouched Friday.
Additional investigation will be made to determine if there are more remains at the site, Frederick said. A Global Positioning System reading was taken of the site to figure out if the site had been previously been catalogued. It had not.
"It's a new archaeological find," Frederick said.
Crossley said she conducted a "very initial" assessment of the area.
"It appears that the remains are located within an archeological site, so we'll need to further document that site," she said, adding that archaeologists will be looking for other "features," on the site and recording the site as whole.
It also appears the site was cut by an old bulldozer scar -- possibly from road-widening construction.
Crossley said that Forest Service officials will be contacting the Hopi Tribe today to figure out what to do with the remains.
"What we'll want to do if the Hopi claim cultural affiliation to the remains ... we find an area where we can rebury those," Crossley said.
The decision will be mostly up to the tribe, she added.
Archaeologists are scheduled to return to the site today to continue documenting the site.
Copyright 2004 Arizona Daily Sun
The Indian, the girl and a story of stories
In a new book, a Queens woman recalls Rosebud, the storyteller of Jones Beach
BY DAVID BEHRENS
April 26, 2004
Rosebud Yellow Robe could have been a star. Slim and elegant with a talent for dancing, she had a warm and winning style in retelling the legends of her tribe, the Lakota Sioux.
But this was the era before talkies or television, long before talk shows were a way of storytelling or anyone used the phrase "Native American."
Her friends said she was a dead ringer for Dolores Del Rio, the silent film beauty of the 1920s. Once, at the University of South Dakota, she was a runner- up in a campus beauty pageant, but she turned down a film offer from movie producer Cecil B. DeMille, one of the contest judges. So the starring role in "Ramona" went to Del Rio instead.
Tasting the limelight
Rosebud, as she was known since her college days, was born in 1907 on Indian land - on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation - in south-central South Dakota. At 20, she tasted a bit of limelight, appearing in newsreels and in page-one newspaper photos when she placed a feathered war bonnet on the head of President Calvin Coolidge during a tribal induction ceremony.
In late 1927, Rosebud did not return to college, taking the sleek Twentieth Century Limited to New York to pursue a career in show business. For the next 65 years she remained a resident of New York, but she never won fame on Broadway or the silver screen.
Her greatest stage, as it turned out, was at Jones Beach, where she was a beloved celebrity and a genuine star to the thousands of children who visited the long-gone Indian Village every summer from 1930 to 1950.
Rosebud and her years at the Indian Village might have been all but forgotten if not for one of those summer visitors - a 13-year-old girl from Queens - who met her in July of 1947 and never forgot her.
As a teenager, Marjorie Weinberg returned every summer for four years, entranced with Rosebud's beachside tales of the Sioux. And even when she went off to college in Michigan, she maintained pen-pal contact with the storyteller. After graduation and her marriage in 1958, Weinberg settled in Flushing Meadows and later in Great Neck - and her lifelong friendship with Rosebud began.
'The Real Rosebud'
This month - more than a decade after her friend and mentor's death in 1992 - Weinberg has published "The Real Rosebud: The Triumph of a Lakota Woman," (University of Nebraska Press, $19.95), a memoir of Rosebud and the Yellow Robe family.
Every summer, Weinberg recalled, Rosebud would hold court on a grassy knoll just off the boardwalk, surrounded by three traditional Sioux teepees in the shadow of one of Jones Beach's famed water towers.
On those summer weekdays, as many as a hundred children on vacation would show up at the village to listen to spellbinding stories of the Lakota Sioux and to learn the handicrafts of the prairie tribes.
For Weinberg and most of the children, raised on the far-from- authentic portraits in Hollywood westerns, Rosebud was their first and only contact with an American Indian as a human being. She had been hired in 1930 by Jones Beach founder Robert Moses to direct the Indian Village after he heard her lecture on Sioux traditions at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. It was Rosebud's dream to erase the lingering image of the American Indian as an ineducable savage.
"Rosebud was a woman with a beautifully warm speaking voice that children loved," Weinberg recalled in a recent interview. "She had a star-like quality that demanded attention ... but she was so approachable. It was a marvelous combination."
Over the years, Weinberg said, Rosebud became like a second mother to her. "She was about 5-foot-4 but looked much taller with her wonderful posture. She wore her hair in two long dark braids, and she could have been Dolores Del Rio's twin."
During her first year in Manhattan, Rosebud did develop a dance act - performing a program of Lakota dances at local hotels and theaters. But stage aspirations were put aside when she was married and had her first child in 1929. Instead, she began a career as a lecturer and teller of Indian stories - and, in the 1930s, as a broadcaster in the early years of CBS radio.
For five years, she hosted a children's program on CBS, "Aunt Susan," recounting family stories and the Indian legends learned from her father. Some relatives had been massacred at Wounded Knee in 1890. She also was proud to be a great-grandniece of Chief Sitting Bull and the granddaughter of Yellow Robe, a less-celebrated survivor on the winning side at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
During her radio days, Rosebud and Orson Welles shared a studio a few years before Welles made his classic 1941 film, "Citizen Kane." When he chose "Rosebud" as the crucial name in the plot, one theory holds that it was no coincidence, a view Weinberg embraces.
At CBS, radio actors signed a daily log upon arriving and leaving the studio, and Rosebud's signature appears in these logs on the same pages as Welles, Weinberg wrote. Rosebud often was asked if her name came from the film. "Why, no," she'd answer, "the sled was named after me."
Weinberg, who now lives in Kings Point, is a retired clinical speech supervisor at Adelphi University and a member of its board of trustees. In writing the memoir, she recalled many favorite days, like her trip to the University of South Dakota campus in 1989 when Rosebud received an honorary doctorate. "It was 'Rosebud Yellow Robe Day,' with something about her in every store window."
In 1992, just before her death at age 85, Rosebud spoke to film students at New York University at a showing of "The Silent Enemy: An Epic of the American Indian," a 1930 silent film in which her father, Chauncey Yellow Robe, played the role of a chief.
"It was her last and best performance," Weinberg recalled. Six year ago, Weinberg and a dozen of Rosebud's admirers - all childhood visitors to the old Indian Village - returned to Jones Beach to place a memorial plaque at the East Bathhouse museum. It is near the site where they once watched racing turtles, learned to weave baskets and listened to stories about Gray Rabbit and how he lost his tail in a snowstorm.
Copyright (c) 2004, Newsday, Inc.
Leaders join medicine men against Snow Bowl plan
By Jan-Mikael Patterson
The Navajo Times
WINDOW ROCK - President Joe Shirley Jr. made a commitment late Tuesday
evening to do everything in his power to oppose the proposed expansion of the Snow
Bowl Ski Resort and use of reclaimed water Dook'osliid.
"If they expand, that is desecration for our way of life," said an
emotionally charged Shirley. "That's genocide. That's putting us aside. If we're going
to make a point on our sovereign way of life we need to come together. We need
to be together.
"There ought to be all 300,000 of us defending that peak," he said.
Shirley, Speaker Lawrence Morgan (Iyanbito/Pinedale), delegates of the Navajo
Nation Council and the Diné Medicine Men Association on Tuesday formally
joined the Save the Peaks Coalition.
The coalition opposes the U.S. Forest Service's use of reclaimed water to
make artificial snow. They are also urging for an extension for public
commentary. The deadline was April 13.
In a press conference held Tuesday at the Navajo Nation Museum, the Navajo
leaders spoke about their opposition. In the medicine men association's first
press conference April 8, the medicine men announced their opposition to the
The U.S. Forest Service presented a draft Environmental Impact Statement to
the Navajo Nation and Navajo officials requested an extension of 60 days for
public comment. But Delegate Amos Fred Johnson (Black Mesa/Forest Lake/Rough
Rock) reported that the extension was denied.
"(Northern Arizona University) professors found that the reclaimed water has
organic contaminants, pharmaceuticals and non-ions," Cora Max-Phillips,
Shirley's staff assistant, said. "The medicine you swallow flushes out of your
system and that remains in the water."
She said the components found in the water would not only affect the
environment but animals. Max-Phillips said there are hormones in the pharmaceuticals.
"Who puts a price on nature?" Max-Phillips said. "To us that mountain is
Dook'osliid, or the San Francisco Peaks, may be a recreational area for
outdoor enthusiasts but to the Navajo people, along with 13 Southwest tribes, the
mountain is sacred.
Coalition leaders pushed for an extension on public comment because the
Environmental Impact Statement compiled by the Forest Service needs to be
translated into the Navajo language so Navajo people can fully understand what is being
proposed, said Robert Tohe, of the Save the Peaks Coalition.
About 60 people attended the Diné Medicine Men Association press conference
on April 8 in support of their opposition.
"The Diné medicine men have medicine bundles," Anthony Lee, president of the
Diné Medicine Men Association, said in an April 13 telephone interview. "Those
bundles are very significant and sacred like a feather that protrudes the top
of our heads. We use buckskin to wrap the bundles. They are wrapped in a
clockwise direction. That represents water.
"It's like going to church when we go to the mountain," Lee said. "When we go
there we pay the utmost respect when we make our offerings. So when the U.S.
Forest Service proposed to use reclaimed water, that's dumping wastewater on a
shrine. That's sewer water."
He said that for the Forest Service to use reclaimed water on the mountains
would be similar to going to a Pentecostal or Mormon Church and dumping sewer
water on the church and shrine.
"That's not just illegal," he said. "I would be arrested. That would be
breaking the laws that is stipulated in the First Amendment."
Lee said the laws that are listed in the Constitution are viewed as "legal
sovereignty," laws written or documented. He also said "spiritual sovereignty"
are laws that had predated the year 1491 based on Navajo tradition. Both are
important to the Navajo people, he said.
"The important thing that needs to be emphasized is that there's a lot of
historical significance of the San Francisco Peaks. The San Francisco Peaks
represent the Diné home. I think that is the common understanding the Diné people
have," he said.
"The mountains are structures in a way to support one another like a hogan's
structure," said Lee. "There's a connection between the mountains. There's a
direct connection between Mount Blanca and Mount Taylor and vice versa."
Lee said the Four Sacred Mountains encompass the Navajo people like a hogan
or a home encompasses a family.
"(Dook'osliid is) the western quadrant of the Navajo religion," said Lee.
"That's where Changing Woman, Asdzaa' Naadleehí, resides. There are many stories
that relates to the mountain. There are songs and prayers - Hane'.
"What is extremely important to know is turning reclaimed water into snow,
they are violating our inherent laws," Lee said. "Inherent law has been around
before the current laws. That's spiritual sovereignty as opposed to legal
sovereignty. That needs to be revisited.
"If it means going back to the Native American Religion Act, so be it," said
Other speakers at the April 8 medicine men's press conference said the
government to government relationship needs to be revisited so that tribal
governments could be included in any decisions or proposed plans that would involve
"The federal government, the Forest Service are claiming that Native
Americans are given access to the Peaks," Dr. David Begay, a member of the medicine
men's association, said. "Access isn't the main underlying issue here. The issue
is the grossly profane act of using sewer water.
"We can't change the Navajo ancient belief nor can the traditional beliefs be
moderated with one of the mountains taken out," Begay added. "If wastewater
was to be dumped in Bethlehem there would be an outcry. If it was done in Mecca
there would be war. And here we are. Navajo people are very peaceful people."
Storytellers profiled online
Posted: May 03, 2005
by: Ron Selden / Indian Country Today
PORTLAND, Ore. - A Portland-based nonprofit group is launching a new
cultural heritage project that will initially feature profiles of
American Indians from nearly a dozen states.
The Wisdom of the Elders (WOTE) organization was founded in 1992 by
the late Martin High Bear, a Lakota spiritual leader, and Rose High
Bear, an Alaskan Athabascan.
The group, which strives to increase understanding about Indigenous
peoples through radio programs, documentaries and other educational
venues, is primarily funded by the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Park
Service and its Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail program, the
Oregon Arts Commission and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.
WOTE's latest project is the Turtle Island Storytellers Network, which
was unveiled to the public April 24 at
www.turtleislandstorytellers.net. The new network will serve both as
an online educational tool and as a way to contact and interact with
about 80 profiled tribal elders, musicians, cultural leaders and
historians for speaking and concert engagements, training seminars and
According to WOTE tribal liaison Elaine Lanegan, the first round of
profiles will come from Oregon, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska,
North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma and Washington
state. At least two other states will be added later in the year. In
time, the geographic range will likely be expanded even further.
''We're hoping to be adding and adding until we do the whole United
States,'' Lanegan explained.
Stated goals of all WOTE programs - run by a staff of four, various
volunteers, and a board of directors - is to reduce racial tensions
between Indians and non-Indians and promote reconciliation. This year
and next the group will air the radio program ''Native Nations along
the Lewis and Clark Trail,'' aimed at expanding the base of knowledge
about indigenous peoples whom the white explorers Meriwether Lewis and
William Clark encountered during their journeys.
''Stories and song define us as human beings,'' organizers said. ''Our
project's cultural preservation and language restoration aspect
contribute to the cultural renaissance occurring in today's Indian
country. We are discovering and documenting indigenous storytellers,
oral historians and song carriers whose gifts of wisdom and oral
tradition are rapidly diminishing and could be lost within the next
Audio segments created by the organization are distributed by National
Public Radio, American Indian Radio on Satellite, the National
Federation of Community Broadcasters and the Pacific Radio Network,
among other outlets.
WOTE leaders said they welcome collaboration with tribes and
individual tribal members across the country, and also with
non-Indians and their organizations. To learn more about the group and
Back to Native American roots
Fry bread out, indigenous foods in as old ways prove more healthful
The Arizona Republic
May. 18, 2005 12:00 AM
Elaine Reyes is a modern American woman. She works, is raising four young
daughters and puts food on the table.
But Reyes has one eye on the past.
A member of the Tohono O'odham community in Sells, she and her girls have
just finished the spring cholla bud harvest, plucking fruit from the spiny
cholla plant. They'll eat some, sell some and use some as currency to barter for
goods with other Native American tribes.
"That's a way of life out here that the Tohono O'odham have done for
centuries," Reyes says. "God has blessed us with that."
The traditional Native American diet, mostly plant-based with some wild
meat, is a healthful one, relying on fish, game and a little red meat. It's elk,
rabbit, dove, wild turkey, even prairie dog and porcupine. It's also corn,
squash, tepary beans, mesquite beans and desert plants believed to contain
compounds that help control blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes.
Native Americans who began to stray from that diet decades ago, turning to
processed foods and fast foods like much of the rest of the country, are
recognizing that it's time to return to their roots in the wake of alarming
increases in obesity and diabetes. Non-Indians are embracing the cuisine as well,
much as they have turned to healthful Asian and Mediterranean foods.
"In the non-Native world, it's trendy. In our world, it's survival," says
Terrol Dew Johnson, co-founder and co-director of Tohono O'odham Community
Action, an organization that works toward revitalization and sustainable economic
development on the Tohono O'odham Reservation.
By survival, Johnson means not only physical health but the preservation of
a culture. He believes that food is the way to reconnect young Native
Americans with their heritage.
In the Gila River Indian Community, nutritionist Chaleen Brewer, a Lakota
and Hopi, says the elders are already on board. Brewer is helping the Pima
people embrace better health through cooking classes that stress traditional
foods and the cultivation of home gardens. Now, she says, "It's a matter of
getting young people interested."
Tradition goes trendy
Young people will discover that tradition is trendy. Anton Brunbauer,
executive chef at the tony Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Phoenix, chose Native
American cuisine for one of his three spa menus, along with Asian and
Mediterranean. It's more than a gimmick, Brunbauer says. It's a healthful way of life.
"A lot of us sit around and think we have to eat tofu for the rest of our
lives," he says. "If we went back to eating what Native Americans ate, we'd all
At the upscale Kai restaurant at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa
near Chandler, executive chef Sandy Garcia is giving an ancient cuisine a
Garcia, 40, grew up on the Santa Clara Pueblo reservation of New Mexico.
Like many Native Americans, his family chowed down on mac and cheese and
spaghetti in true American fashion. But on Sundays and feast days, it was all
tradition. Garcia's father would roast buffalo tongue. His aunts baked round loaves
of bread, pies and cookies in an outdoor oven called an horno, made from
adobe and lined with mud.
When Garcia opened Kai in summer 2002, he drew on those memories and put
indigenous American foods on his contemporary menu: buffalo, wild turkey, wild
boar, cholla buds, prickly pear and a ciabatta bread much like the loaves his
aunts once baked.
"We have this vastness in our back yard we haven't investigated," Garcia
says. "It creates a new experience."
There are so many back yards to explore - perhaps not all suited for a fine
dining experience. Though common threads wind through all Native American
kitchens (bread is a staple), each tribe has distinctions, many based on
Ron Carlos, 35, grew up on the Salt River Reservation, a member of the
Piipaash (Maricopa) tribe. He remembers the food he ate as a boy:
"All burned," he says with a laugh. Because most Piipaash food is cooked
over a wood fire, "everything has that smoky taste." His sister makes tortillas
over a coal fire in her back yard - all nicely blackened.
His Salt River neighbors ate chili stew, made with potatoes and carrots.
They hunted, and ate jackrabbit stew and roasted cottontails. Cottontails are
the tastier, he says.
A stew with the consistency of cream of wheat was a staple on the Navajo
Reservation when Ruth Roessel was a girl there about 60 years ago. Roessel is
now director of Navajo Studies at Rough Rock Community School near Canyon de
Her family members would gather wild celery, boil it and add cornmeal, salt
and lard. They would harvest wild onions and prepare them the same way. In
June the Navajos would go into the mountains to pick sumac berries, grind them
into flour, add cornmeal and eat it as a soup or stew. These dishes would be
eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Food is holy, Roessel says.
"The plants come up from the earth and we pray to them. We'd pray for good
health and a good life."
Centuries ago, Navajos also became sheep farmers, adding mutton and lamb to
their menu and using sheep oil for cooking over outdoor wood fires. Navajos
reinvented their culture to include sheep, says Devon Mihesuah, a Choctaw and
professor of applied indigenous studies and history at Northern Arizona
While many Anglos think of Indian fry bread as the quintessential Native
American food, fry bread is "absolutely not" traditional, Mihesuah says. "Fried
bread (or more inaccurately 'fry bread') is something unhealthy created by
Natives after they were introduced to wheat."
Fry bread was born out of the imprisonment of Navajos and Apaches by the
U.S. government in 1863. Their rations consisted of wheat flour and lard, and
they made the best of their rations, says Tristan Reader, co-director of Tohono
O'odham Community Action.
Return to roots
Tohono O'odham Community Action began a decade ago to promote a return to
the tribe's culinary heritage.
The tribe operates a farm in Sells that uses an ancient farming method
called "ak chin." This system of planting crops in flood plains takes advantage of
the short growing season of such foods as tepary beans, which resemble pinto
beans, Reader explains. The crops germinate quickly and can be harvested
before the earth dries up again.
The cultivation of cholla buds is another way the Tohono O'odham link past
and present. In ancient times, the picking was done with dried cactus ribs
lashed together with rawhide thongs. Now Reyes and her daughters use metal
barbecue tongs, and it has become a family outing that begins early each morning
during harvest season.
"It's a family thing," Reyes says. "We get the girls together . . . . They
need to respect what God has given us."
Buying ingredients for traditional Native American dishes can be done online
or by telephone. Tohono O'odham Community Action works with Heritage Foods
USA, an American company that sells indigenous products to the public: meats,
fish, poultry, fruits and grains, all derived from small family farms. By
next year, Heritage will have a product list of 500 items.
Next year, the Tohono O'odham organization also will put its name on a
Native American cookbook with the working title Harvesting the Desert: Traditional
Foods of the Tohono O'odham. Edited by Tucson food writer Mary Paganelli,
the book will contain recipes from such Arizona chefs as Janos Wilder (Janos,
in Tucson), Scott Uehlein (Canyon Ranch Health Resort, in Tucson), John Sharpe
(La Posada, in Winslow) and Garcia, from Kai.
Garcia believes it's time to take these tasty foods and discover the next
great cuisine. Nouvelle Native American could take its place alongside French
"It's a great culture," he says.
» _Pork Carnitas Stuffed Quail_
» _Indian Squash_
Reach the reporter at (602) 444-8597.
The Navajo Enemy Way Ceremony
By Johnson Dennison
Special to The Independent
The Navajo Enemy Way Ceremony is a healing ceremony to treat patients
and is only conducted in the summer months.
This ceremony is almost a week long process for patients who are ill
from any form of illness. It was originally conducted for individuals
who participated in a foreign war and usually for warriors returning
from war. This is why it is called the Nidaa', the Enemy Way Ceremony.
Some people call it a "Squaw dance," but that is derogatory.
The preparation for the Enemy Way Ceremony begins by building a forked
stick hogan. It can also be conducted in any type of traditional hogan
as well. Most of the time, a temporary hogan-shaped brush arbor is
built for the ceremony. The temporary shelter is dismantled as soon as
the ceremony is over. Another small arbor is built in front of the
hogan also for a ceremonial purpose.
A larger arbor is also built about fifty yards from the hogan on the
southwest side. This is to be used as a cook shed where visitors are
received and are fed. The relatives of the patients will help build
the cook shed. The shed is usually divided into two rooms. The room on
the north side is reserved for the main patient and his family to
prepare food for the visitors. The south room is reserved for the wife
of the patient and her family to use for receiving friends and relatives.
The patients will invite their clan relatives and friends to the Enemy
Way ceremony. It is a major Navajo ceremony involving a lot of people
from communities. It is also a public ceremony, so anyone can attend.
There is a meeting night to start the ceremony. Most of the relatives
and friends of the patients will come to the meeting night. It is
usually on a Monday. The visitors and relatives will come into the
hogan and make donations. Because the hogan is small and not everyone
will fit, there will be some people standing outside. The people will
talk about the ceremonial process and at the same time they will
discuss who will receive the ceremonial staff.
A ceremonial staff is a foot and half long cut off cedar juniper
branch decorated with eagle feathers and colorful yarn. The ceremonial
staff is obtain and decorated on the day when it will be carried to
the receiver. The receiver of the staff will eventually be considered
as the person to treat the patients. The patients and visitors will
decide who will receive the staff. The meeting night is concluded in
the late evening while singers sing sacred songs of the Enemy Way
ceremony as they stand in front of the hogan facing east.
Most of the people will leave and go home for the night, except the
patients and their family members, who will camp out for the night.
Throughout the evening, a reception is provided at the cook shed for
the visitors. The main dish is usually mutton stew, roast mutton,
coffee and fry bread.
It is also a time to socialize and exchange stories and greetings.
Most of the people also bring some food with them to help out the
family. The ceremony is well announced through a Navajo radio station
where every one listens daily, so it is not a surprise event for people.
The next morning at dawn, the spokesperson with the patients will
drive over to the staff receiver's house or hogan to make an offering.
Long ago, it was one person to ride a horse a distance to meet the
staff receiver. The person to receive the staff usually does not live
in the same community of the main ceremonial camp.
When they, patients and spokesperson, arrive at the staff receiver's
house, they will offer him the collection of donations, so he will
serve the patients as a medicine man. Generally, he will agree to
receive the staff. Sometime he may refuse to receive the sacred staff
for several reasons. To receive a staff is a huge responsibility.
However, when he agrees, he will set a date to receive the staff. He
will announce by saying when the staff should be brought to him.
The elders tell us that a long time ago people used to announce five
days to seven days. But nobody does that anymore. If more than three
days is announced, the Enemy Way ceremony will last more than a week
or even two weeks. The even number of days are not considered; it has
to be an odd number. Three day agreements are most common in Enemy Way
The Navajo people always predict it will be three days to carry the
staff, so they schedule a planning meeting on Monday night. A proposal
is made on Tuesday morning, and three days after Tuesday is Friday.
The day the staff is carried over is usually on Friday, so it will
become a weekend activity. The day would finally arrive at the
ceremony to fix, decorate, and carry the staff to the staff receiver's
Usually a crowd gathers to participate. A number of people ride their
horses or bring their horses in stock trailers. While waiting for the
afternoon ceremony to start, visitors are received at the cook shed
and meals are served. Inside the hogan, people have already brought
colorful yarn to be used in decorating the staff, horses, and even
vehicles. Another selected medicine man will bring in a straight cut
off juniper branch well prepared to be decorated for a sacred staff.
The medicine man will sing sacred songs while decorating the staff. A
design is inscribed on the staff and colorfully decorated with yarn,
eagle feathers and deer hoofs. The patients and relatives pray while
making the offering of corn pollen. It is a dramatic ritual activity.
When it is done, the main patient takes the staff outside and gets on
a saddled horse. He takes off with the rest of the riders. There would
be a number of horseback riders joining the patient carrying the
staff. The rest of the people that don't have horses will follow the
riders in their vehicles. This is a spectacular sight to see on the
Navajo Reservation roads in the summer: a convoy of trucks and cars
decorated with colorful yarn.
The horseback riders will arrive at the hogan of the person to receive
the decorated staff. The main patient gets off his horse and comes
into the hogan of the staff receiver while carrying the staff. He, the
patient, will hand the staff over to the staff receiver while he is
sitting on a buckskin in the hogan. The staff is well inspected by the
receiver and his helper(s) to see if it was properly prepared. A
medicine man will sing a receiving song. Following this, the
traditional food is served to all people that came from the main camp
of the ceremony. There will be greetings between family members,
relatives, and friends from both camps as well. The family members of
the receiver are the host.
In the late evening, the staff receiver and his helpers will start
singing Enemy Way songs. The dancing starts next. A young girl dressed
in traditional attire will come out of the hogan and initiate the
dances. It is an activity many Navajo people like to participate in.
The next day is when the main patient and his family and relatives are
served breakfast. After breakfast, the main patient and his family
members will come to the front of the hogan and sing more sacred
songs. While they are singing, they will be given gifts. After the
singing is done, the main patient and family members will go home for
the day. They will arrive back at the main camp at mid-morning. There
will be visitors coming through out the day and having a feast at the
Late afternoon, the staff receiver, his family, and relatives will set
up camp to spend the night about three miles from the main ceremonial
camp. This is the time when more people will also join the dancing,
called round dancing. They will camp out along the side of the road.
This type of camp is usually visible from the road. The Navajo people
called it a "camp out" and some called it second night.
The next morning when the sun rises, the campers will move to the main
camp of the ceremony. When they arrive, the horseback riders will ride
back and forth between the main camp hogan and the staff receivers on
horseback. The patients are all sitting in the hogan. As soon as the
staff receiver arrives, the people from the main camp will serve
But the staff receiver and his people still camp about a hundred yards
away from the main camp. After breakfast, the people from the staff
receiver's camp will come to the front of the main hogan and sing more
sacred songs. As they sing, they will be given gifts from the main
patient and his family members. Another medicine man specialized in
the Enemy Way ceremony will conduct a ceremony most of the morning
inside the hogan. The patients will spend most of morning in the hogan.
The spouse of the main patient will also participate in the ceremony,
but under the small shade especially built for her just outside of the
hogan. This is the time that she will be dressed with shawls, robes,
fabric materials, and buckskin. She will take all these materials back
to her family and relatives and they receive them as gifts from the
main patient. This is considered as a main event of the ceremony.
Following the main events, there will be more round dancing. The final
night of the ceremony is usually quiet, and very few people will stay
as most of the people will be too tired to do anymore singing and
dancing. The staff receiver stays until at dawn the next morning.
There will be some more closing songs sung at this time. The Enemy Way
ceremony is over.
The sun rises, everything is quiet, and everyone gets to live normal
lives again. The total process lasts six days. Again, the Navajo radio
stations will start announcing more up coming Nidaa' ceremonies. This
is a Navajo cultural and ritual healing ceremony. The culture is still
strong out in the Navajo country.
Johnson Dennison is a Navajo medicine man who contributes regularly to
This column is the result of a desire by community members,
representing different faith communities, wishing to share their ideas
about bringing a spiritual perspective into our daily lives and
For information about contributing a guest column, contact Elizabeth
Hardin-Burrola at the Independent: (505) 863-8611, ext. 218 or
The Warrior Spirit
Posted: May 27, 2005
by: Lance Zedric / Special to Today
Honoring Native soldiers
American Indians of the Alamo Scouts
The Alamo Scouts were a top secret reconnaissance and raider unit that
operated in the southwest Pacific during World War II and performed
108 missions without losing a single man, including two POW camp
raids. They are recognized by the Army as a forerunner of the modern
Special Forces. By some accounts as many as one-quarter of the
enlisted graduates of the first Alamo Scouts training class were
American Indian and served on operational teams, while the others
returned to their units to utilize their special training.
Sgt. Byron L. Tsingine, a Navajo from the Deer Water People Clan from
Coppermine, Ariz., and Ssg. Alvin J. Vilcan, a Chitimacha from
Louisiana, graduated from the first training class but returned to
their units despite being selected to operational teams. Tsingine
served another year as a scout in the 158th and was wounded on Luzon
in early 1945.
While with the 158th, Tsingine spoke with Navajo scouts from other
units and passed on vital combat information, just as the more
renowned Navajo code talkers of Marine Corps fame had done.
''Tsingine and other Indians were invaluable,'' said Earl Newman, of
the Service Company of the 158th. ''They would speak Navajo and
confuse the Japanese. A Navajo was placed in each company and Tsingine
communicated using the Navajo language when he did reconnaissance
work. The Japanese never knew what we were doing and we were always a
step ahead of them.''
''I knew Tsingine well from our time in the 158th,'' said Thompson.
''He was an excellent fellow and a fine soldier. I voted for him to be
on my team.''
Other Alamo Scout graduates also served as code talkers. Sgt. Guy F.
Rondell, a Lakota from the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe of South
Dakota, was a graduate of the second Alamo Scouts training class and
returned to the 302nd Recon Squadron of the 1st Cavalry Division. He
was one of only 11 Lakota Sioux B3 code talkers who served during the
war. Six served in the Pacific and five in Europe.
''Pfc. Francis H. LaQuier of my team was a Chippewa from the White
Earth Reservation in Early, Minnesota,'' added team leader Tom
Rounsaville. ''He could draw a map that looked like an engineer
production. His maps were so detailed and exact that they were part of
our mission reports. He was an integral part of the team and was one
of the finest soldiers I've ever served with.''
The unit assumed a central role in organizing large-scale guerrilla
operations, establishing road watch stations, attempting to locate and
capture or kill Japanese flag officers, and performing direct action
missions, such as the Cabanatuan POW Camp liberation where they teamed
with elements of the 6th Ranger Battalion and Filipino guerrilla units
to liberate 513 POWs in a daring night attack. When not on missions,
Alamo Scout teams provided bodyguard duty for Krueger and had specific
instructions to kill the general if capture was imminent.
Near the end of the war, Alamo Scout teams were preparing for the
invasion of Japan, where they were slated to conduct pre-invasion
reconnaissance of Kyushu as part of Operation Downfall, but
fortunately the war ended.
''Our perfect record wouldn't have lasted if we would have had to go
to Japan,'' said Chief Zeke McConnell, a Cherokee from Bunch, Okla.
who performed 13 operational missions in New Guinea and the
Philippines as part of Littlefield Team. ''We would have lost a lot of
men. It would have been near suicide.''
After the war, those scouts with enough service points went home,
while others returned to their parent units or accompanied the 6th
Army to Kyoto, Japan and joined the 6th Ranger Battalion for rations
and quarters. Many former scouts remained in the military and saw
service in Korea and Vietnam, and four went on to attain general
officer rank. Until the mid 1980s, most of the Alamo Scout missions
were classified top secret; the most recent was declassified in 1993.
The contributions of American Indians to the Alamo Scouts and their
warrior spirit were further evidenced by the unit's distinctive
insignia. In late 1944, a contest was held at the Alamo Scout Training
Center on Leyte to design a unique shoulder patch. Krueger approved
the patch for wear in theater, but it was not approved by the
Institute of Heraldry and had to be purchased independently.
The final design featured a fully embroidered blue background with a
red outer border and a wide white inner circle. Within the upper half
of the circle appeared ''Alamo Scouts'' and within the bottom half,
''Sixth Army.'' The letters were fashioned in green, log-type script
and symbolized the trailblazing nature of the unit. A depiction of the
Alamo centered inside a white inner circle symbolized the bravery of
the Alamo's original defenders, and an Indian head superimposed upon
the Alamo represented silent reconnaissance.
Although the true extent of Native participation in the Alamo Scouts
likely will never be known, their legacy of outstanding service, quiet
professionalism and toughness is secure. Their contribution to victory
in the Southwest Pacific and other theaters during World War II has
forever cemented their place among America's elite warriors and set a
high standard for future generations to meet.
''I'm proud to be a Native American and an Alamo Scout,'' said
McConnell. ''But in the Alamo Scouts it didn't matter if you were
Indian, Caucasian, Hispanic or Filipino. Our mission was to accomplish
the mission, and we all did our part just like every other soldier.
The men were tough, the training was tough, and the missions were
tough. But I think our record speaks for itself.''
A record of 108 missions with zero casualties speak volumes.
Identified American Indians who served in the Alamo Scouts:
* Anthony J. Ortiz
* Zeke McConnell
* Virgil F. Howell
* Robert T. Schermerhorn
* Joseph A. Johnson
* Joshua Sunn
* Theodore T. Largo
* Francis H. LaQuier
* David M. Milda
* Byron L. Tsingine
* Alvin J. Vilcan
Lance Q. Zedric is the author of ''Silent Warriors of World War II:
The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines.'' He is a lecturer on military
affairs and special operations forces, historian for the Alamo Scouts
Association and co-founder of www.alamoscouts.org.