News Stories Native Related
These stories come from different newspapers and magazines. When possible I will include a link for the source. Spiritwalker
Indigenous Peoples Day proclaimed.
Posted: April 02, 2005
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today
PHOENIX - United Nations Rapporteur J. Wilton Littlechild, Cree Nation of
Canada, received a proclamation of Indigenous Peoples Day from Phoenix Mayor
Phil Gordon, a premiere move for worldwide recognition of the term representing
global indigenous self-sufficiency.
Littlechild is part of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, an advisory
body to the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council.
Tupac Enrique Acosta, coordinator of Tonatierra community action
organization in Phoenix, said Gordon's recognition of the term ''indigenous peoples''
and what it represents sends a signal to the governments of the world.
''The United States government has been blocking acceptance of the term
'indigenous peoples' in the efforts of the draft declaration of the rights of
indigenous peoples at the United Nations,'' Enrique told Indian Country Today.
During a week-long celebration, Gordon, for the second consecutive year,
issued a declaration proclaiming Indigenous Peoples Day in Phoenix on March 12.
The gathering at the Embassy of Indigenous Peoples in downtown Phoenix
reflected a precedent-setting event in an area with the nation's second-largest
population of urban Indians, following Los Angeles.
Enrique said the action by Littlechild and Gordon, organized by local
indigenous, reveals that grassroots-level action is the basis for global change.
''It builds from the bottom up to the global level, resulting first in
recognition, then opening the doors to respect and finally to implementation of
policies that will recognize indigenous self-sufficiency,'' Enrique told ICT.
With O'odham, Navajo and Gwich'in pressing for sacred sites protection in a
time of increasing attacks by corporations, indigenous from as far away as
Peru and Central America participated in presentations at the Traditional
Gathering of Indigenous Nations in Phoenix.
Gordon listened to O'odham leaders who spoke of the ancestral significance
of South Mountain Park in Phoenix. He made a commitment to work with local
indigenous to bring recognition and respect to the sacred site, an altar for
O'odham, and agreed to work to create access for traditional purposes.
Protecting San Francisco Peaks in northern Arizona was among the workshop
presentations by indigenous youth. American Indians are fighting a U.S. Forest
Service plan to use wastewater to make snow for tourism at the Snowbowl on
the Peaks, sacred to 14 American Indian tribes and a place of ceremonies and
herb-gathering. Navajo and Hopi youth, joined by medicine men and tribal
leaders, are leading the struggle to protect the sacred Peaks.
Littlechild spoke to the gathering's working groups on the importance of
economic development and self-determination in indigenous communities and
addressed international treaty obligations, which bind the government states to
recognize and protect the rights of indigenous people within the global context
of migratory workers' human rights.
With the goal of strengthening Native Nations' regional economic presence
through development of a Continental Center of Indigenous Trade and Commerce,
the Tiankizco began consultations with indigenous throughout the Western
Hemisphere to identify initial trade items such as Maya coffee and organic
Dec 27, 2001
Lithia Springs Dig Unearths Ancient Indian Artifacts
By SUSAN M. GREEN
Photo by: Southeastern Archaeological Research
Some of the artifacts found at Lithia Springs Park will be on display at the guardhouse scheduled to be installed in the next few weeks.
LITHIA SPRINGS -
Littering and loitering have long been off-limits in county parks, but nobody worried about that in 5000 B.C.
Prehistoric people, probably camping at what is now Lithia Springs Park, left their calling cards in the form of stone fragments and tools.
Archaeologists unearthed them, first last summer and then in a more extensive dig in October. The discovery came as part of research required before Tampa Bay Water could lay a 30-inch diameter water pipe through the park.
Workers collected artifacts from the excavation site and gave them to Hillsborough's Parks & Recreation Department. Phil Evans, who oversees the park for the county, said he hopes to find a way to display them, possibly in a new guardhouse scheduled to be installed in the next few weeks.
The tools and stone fragments used to make or repair tools corroborate data pieced together at the 100-plus other identified archaeological sites scattered across eastern Hillsborough County, said Robert Austin, an archaeologist with Southeastern Archaeological Research.
But the October excavation determined that the pipeline corridor probably would not yield any more artifacts that would add significantly to what is already known about early cultures in the Tampa Bay area, he said.
Using state and national criteria, Austin decided to recommend against listing the pipeline corridor as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, which could lead to preservation safeguards.
Even so, further exploration of the Lithia Springs area may offer keys to important information, such as what ancient tribes ate, how they cooked it and their seasonal habits.
``I do think we only scratched the surface of this site,'' Austin said.
He said it would be up to the parks department and land owner Cargill Fertilizer to decide whether to pursue further exploration that could lead to a National Register designation.
Evans said last week the parks department had just received Austin's report and had not decided how to proceed.
Officials are sure they don't want any amateur archaeologists digging up the park, which would be against state and county laws and subject to prosecution, Evans warned.
He said he was not surprised to learn that Lithia Springs was a popular camp site for early American Indian tribes.
``It makes sense,'' he said. ``If I were an Indian, I would want to hang out there.''
According to the archeology report, the Lithia Springs area probably was a base camp for nomadic tribes, likely spanning several centuries. It dates to 5000 B.C. or earlier, Austin said.
Base camps typically were used for tool maintenance activities, the report says.
Investigators found stone flake knives, scrapers, drills, carving tools and other pointed objects at the site.
The springs would have provided a source of drinking water, the report notes.
``People were no doubt attracted to the spring and perhaps used the [Alafia] river as a transportation route between the coast and the interior,'' it says.
Excavation turned up items made from different types of rock typically found near Tampa Bay, at Cow House and Flint creeks in northeast Hillsborough and some from the Withlacoochee River area of Pasco County.
Although some of the nonlocal rock items could have been acquired through trade, the report notes, it is more likely their owners had traveled to the other areas and obtained the raw materials there.
Austin said his crew was looking for evidence of hearths, trash pits, bones or post holes that provide information about what times of the year the camp was used. What little was found in the pipeline corridor was too degraded to be useful, he said. Even so, the park is a valuable archaeological find, and that recognition provides some protection should new land alteration plans crop up, he said.
``The site is now recorded in the Florida site files,'' he said.
The section studied for Tampa Bay Water is part of a 6-mile pipeline planned to link water facilities in the Lithia area with the supplier's Brandon Urban Dispersed Wells network. Work on the $10 million pipeline is expected to begin in May or June, though officials don't know where on the route construction might begin.
Reporter Susan M. Green can be reached at (813) 657-4529.
January 19, 2002
Native speakers helping preserve Indian languages
By KARA BRIGGS and STEVEN CARTER The Oregonian
Recommend this story to others. SIMNASHO - Michael and Cecelia Collins watch closely as Suzie Slockish writes on a marker board the words - kusi, kusi kusi, lakas, pinaq'inut'awas. Horse, dog, mouse, window.
The Sahaptin words are the gateway to a language of their ancestors - a language that could die out in a generation if young people don't begin speaking it in their everyday lives.
``It was our children who got us motivated to trying the classes,'' said Michael Collins, an accountant who lives with his wife and family on the sprawling sage and juniper-dotted Warm Springs Reservation. ``Our little daughter at 2 1/2 knew more of the language than we did.''
Michael, 31, grew up in Seattle hearing his grandmother, Alice Charley, speaking Yakama, a Sahaptin dialect. Cecelia, 25, heard her late grandfather, Delbert Frank Sr., a Warm Springs elder, speaking Sahaptin.
So for a year, Michael and Cecelia Collins have taken Sahaptin in night classes in the long house in Simnasho taught by Slockish, 56, who knew the language before she knew English. The Collins' five children are learning Sahaptin at Warm Springs Elementary School.
Sahaptin is the language of tribes along the Columbia River east of The Dalles. It is one of 25 languages that were spoken by people in the area that is now Oregon before it was a state. Today, only seven of those languages are still spoken.
The Oregon Legislature passed a law in June patterned after Nebraska legislation that enables tribal language speakers such as Slockish to become certified to teach native languages in Oregon's public schools. They don't need college degrees or specific teacher training - only credentials from their tribe.
Nationally, American Indian leaders say the law is one of the most far-reaching and practical gestures of support from a state government to tribes. It takes effect as Oregon tribes gear up for their most critical effort to pass on these remaining languages before the last elder speakers die.
``Losing a language,'' said Inee Slaughter, executive director of the Indigenous Language Institute in Santa Fe, N.M., ``is like burning down a library that is the repository of a people's entire culture, geography and historic knowledge.''
The original languages of America were dealt a nearly fatal blow in the late 1800s and early 1900s when the United States forced generations of tribal children to attend boarding schools where they were isolated from their families and threatened with beatings and other violence for speaking their languages.
A 1950s government policy disbanded tribes by terminating their governments, including many in Western Oregon, and selling reservation lands. A related policy enticed Indians to relocate to big cities far from home. The government's efforts broke up families, where language and culture were traditionally taught.
But in the 1970s, a new generation of Indian educators started pushing for reforms of U.S. policy, insisting that tribal culture was key to the healthy upbringing of Indian children. They looked to the Maoris of New Zealand and Hawaiians for models of how native languages could be restored. Those groups developed what they called language nests - immersion day care programs, preschools and, in time, schools run by fluent speakers.
In 1990, Congress - pushed by native Hawaiians and Alaskans - took the first step in repudiating old government policies by passing the Indian Languages Act. Two years later, Congress provided money to begin helping some tribal language programs. Some 560 U.S. tribes, representing 175 surviving languages, compete for limited federal grants.
The prospects for saving some of Oregon's native languages are mixed. More than half of Indians today live in cities where there is little chance to hear their languages spoken. Language programs are based in rural tribal communities, near elderly speakers. Some languages, such as Chetco and Tututni, have only one or two elderly speakers still alive.
The only languages in Oregon with more than a handful of fluent speakers are Northern Paiute and Sahaptin, said Scott DeLancey, director of the Northwest Indian Language Institute at the University of Oregon.
Six Oregon tribes have started language programs. Each is as unique as its language, and each is in a different stage of development. They are tied together, though, by the reliance on the long memories of elders to bring the languages back to life.
The Confederated Tribes of Umatilla have more speakers of their languages, Sahaptin and Nez Perce, than many Oregon tribes. But they are trying to preserve several dialects of Sahaptin with only four to 15 fluent speakers of each. A linguist works with elders to write dictionaries for all.
The language office is set up like a living room with a pot of coffee always brewing. Every day, elder speakers meet and converse in their dialects, which are close enough that they often understand one another. Younger people stop by, asking how to say words and trying to say sentences. Each exchange brings up more words for the linguist to document and inspires the elders to remember older expressions.
``We don't talk it enough'' said program director Mildred Quempts, 48, who was raised by her grandmother, who was born in the 1880s. Quempts, who spoke only Sahaptin until she started first grade, knows that school and popular culture will teach her children English. But only she and her brothers can pass down the Umatilla dialect of Sahaptin to their children, cousins and friends, and they do so at family dinners once a week.
In Grand Ronde, where remnants of about 25 bands and tribes were brought together in a reservation, Tony Johnson has been building a language program based on Chinuk-Wawa, the hybrid language that coastal peoples developed to communicate with English- and French-speaking fur traders - and to one another. The young Chinook became fluent by studying the written record of the language and learning from elders.
The tribe now offers before- and after-school language instruction and adult education classes that carry university credit. The tribe hopes to launch a preschool language immersion program next year. Johnson is developing a Chinuk-Wawa dictionary.
Language restoration is less advanced among the Siletz, but culture director Robert Kentta has dreams. The tribe is producing a language videotape, audio tapes and workbooks that students can use at home or in informal language groups. Eventually, the tribe hopes to have fluent speakers of Southwest Coast Athabaskan who can teach at the tribal headquarters and the tribe's field offices in Portland and other cities.
``Many people simply want to know words,'' said Myrtle Peck, a Burns Paiute elder and teacher. ``That's the way I started speaking, by learning the names of things.''
The native language program at Warm Springs Elementary is the most extensive in Oregon. About 300 children are learning Kiksht, Sahaptin or Northern Paiute four days a week, a half-hour a day. The fourth-graders have been taking language lessons since kindergarten.
In the steps of Lewis and Clark
BY JODI RAVE LEE Lincoln Journal Star
"Down by the river, where the water flows cold and clear, I'll whisper sweet words to you, honey, words you want to hear."-Hidatsa courting song
KNIFE RIVER INDIAN VILLAGES, N.D. - The renowned Mandan-Hidatsa flute player shared his people's songs and stories as listeners huddled around a glowing fire in the earth-covered lodge.
"A young lady might hear a song similar to this along the river," explained Keith Bear, as he began to play the flute, pausing midway to sing the words from a courtship song before ending the soulful melody with one last breath.
Bear, of the Three Affiliated Tribes, on Saturday welcomed adventurers to the Knife River villages, a national historic site of the Hidatsa. Nearly 200 years ago, as Lewis and Clark made their landmark expedition to the Pacific Coast, they wintered in the five-village area of the Mandan and Hidatsa people.
Today, many are trying to recapture the moment.
On Saturday and Sunday, a limited group of 20 people - half from North Dakota, the rest trekking from as far as Idaho, Minnesota, South Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania - were allowed to camp one night near the Lower Hidatsa village. A group led by the North Dakota State Historical Society helped create the opportunity for others to experience what life might have been like when Lewis and Clark spent the 1804-1805 winter at Fort Mandan near the Mandan and Hidatsa earth lodge villages where 5,000 people lived.
In addition to learning about the five villages and hearing the Native perspective from half a dozen members of the Three Affiliated Tribes, winter camp participants also had the chance to explore trails along the river, discover Fort Mandan, don snowshoes and visit the interpretive center in Washburn.
David Borlaug, president of the North Dakota Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Foundation, had been at Fort Mandan - where Lewis and Clark had built a winter fort - when the winter tour group arrived. He pointed to the wide range of Lewis and Clark-related accommodations that were within a 30- to 60-mile drive north of Bismarck.
"When you can walk out here under the canopy of cottonwoods and look out on the Missouri River, the way the river looked 200 years ago, that's what visitors can really enjoy here."
For some, sharing the Lewis and Clark winter experience meant roughing it in the cold. Participants in the winter camp were given two choices Saturday night - they knew this when they signed up for the camp - that they could sleep under the stars or inside a tent.
"I felt like to really understand what Lewis and Clark went through I needed to visit Fort Mandan and the Knife River Indian Villages in the wintertime," said Julie Fanselow of Twin Falls, Idaho, author of "Traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail." "That was my motivation."
She said she also was motivated to sleep under the stars but woke up at about 1:30 a.m. and moved into a tent, where it was warmer.
"It wasn't that bad," said Joel Bickford a junior high history teacher in Wahpeton who also chose to sleep outdoors, letting the snow fall on his face as nighttime temperatures hit about 20 degrees. Bickford said he would leave with more than memories of sleeping outside. He said he has a lot more experience to draw upon when he goes back to the classroom.
"It's important the kids realize the size of the villages. At the time they were bigger than St. Louis," he said. "The population was amazing. Most people think an Indian village is 12 people out there living independently in a small forest, when in fact this was a civilization, it was pretty advanced."
Said Lyle Gwinn, a Mandan-Hidatsa storyteller: "This area of Knife River and here at Fort Mandan, we kind of coined the phrase, 'the first international mall.' This is where all the trade came from all over the country, from the Arctic down to the Gulf. Everybody traded here. As long as they came in peace, they were welcomed here."
Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation speakers from the Fort Berthold Reservation say they are doing their part to help shake down stereotypes while teaching others about the history of their tribe.
"We want to make sure the contributions of our people are recognized," said Calvin Grinnell, cultural specialist at the Three Affiliated Tribes Museum. "They were overshadowed by the legend of Sacagawea. We gave them maps and food supplies. They took about 90 bushels of corn when they left here up river that helped keep them alive."
While Bear had similar stories to share, he had one simple message. He expressed the shared humanity that crosses generations, time and race, like the story of blossoming love between a man and woman.
As the adventure group sat around the fire in the earth lodge, Bear explained how young people might avoid the earth lodge, leaving the old ones there to sit, laugh and talk. He told of how flute music was often used during the courtship process. He spoke of how a young man might have a "heartbeat that speaks strong" for a girl, "so he'll come around and say maybe you can go get some wood, maybe I'll be in the area."
Reach Jodi Rave Lee at 473-7240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Environment [ENS -- Environment News Service]
Eagle Smuggler Will Spend Two Years on Ice
By Cat Lazaroff
WASHINGTON, DC, January 22, 2002 (ENS) - A Canadian man has been sentenced to 24 months in prison for paying people to shoot eagles, and selling eagle parts to Native American tribes.
Leonard Fridall Terry Antoine of Duncan, British Columbia was convicted of four violations of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) and one count of wildlife smuggling by a federal jury in Seattle. In addition to two years in jail, Antoine was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release, and to pay a total of $147,000 in restitution - $3,000 for each of the 49 bald eagles involved.
Antoine, a member of the Cowichan tribe, claimed that he was distributing eagle parts to Native Americans in the U.S. for use in religious ceremonies. That defense was specifically rejected by the jury last October, in large part because Antoine was illegally receiving payment for these parts.
At sentencing, the court noted the case had nothing to do with the defendant's right to exercise religion, but rather had to do with Antoine paying other people to kill eagles and making money from selling eagle parts. The court also noted that the defendant's conduct warranted the highest sentence possible under federal sentencing guidelines.
"It is absolutely right that this defendant serve time for such an outright violation of our nation's environmental laws," said Tom Sansonetti, assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice's environmental and natural resources division. "The outcome will serve as a deterrent to others who would harm protected species."
During 1997 and 1998, Antoine bought eagles from at least three individuals on Vancouver Island, Canada. After paying between $20 and $50 per eagle, Antoine would butcher the eagles, remove their wings, tails, feet and feathers, and smuggle the parts into the U.S. for sale to willing buyers.
A set of wing feathers would sell for at least $150, tail feathers for at least $250, and other feathers and bones for various amounts, court testimony shows.
The case began with an investigation by the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment, Lands and Parks and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A search warrant of Antoine's home uncovered bird parts later determined to have come from 124 bald eagles and a golden eagle, among other protected birds.
Canadian law enforcement officers learned that Antoine had a self storage locker in Washington state. A search by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found parts from a minimum of 29 additional bald eagles and another golden eagle.
Evidence was found that Antoine smuggled a substantial number of other bald eagles into the U.S. in June 1998, and sold their parts in Washington, Montana and Arizona.
Eagle parts and feathers play an important role in the traditional religion of Native American people throughout Canada and the United States, including the Cowichan band of the Coast Salish, of which Antoine is a member. Eagle parts and feathers may be legally possessed for traditional religious and cultural purposes by First Nations people within Canada, but may not be sold.
U.S. and Canada have both developed programs for distributing eagles that are found dead to native people for traditional uses. Antoine had not applied for, nor obtained, any federal permits.
The power of the earth
By Jennifer Baldwin
Special to the Times
Only in magazines had I seen the rocks - giant, red formations that climb out
of the ground and toward the sky. They look so ominous and other-worldly in
the pictures, especially when the sky is dark with huge storm clouds and the
setting sun peers through the rocks' crevasses in bursts of light.
So in the mid-afternoon on a clear day in March, when Navajo environmental
activist Nicole Horseherder drove with me into Kayenta at the north base of
Black Mesa to meet with a mine worker, I did not recognize the rocks in the
"Do those large rocks have names?" I asked Nicole.
"That's Monument Valley," she said, looking at me quizzically. I felt her
eyes implore further as if silently asking me, "Don't all white people know
about the tourist spots?"
But I was not in Navajo Nation as a tourist. I was there to report on water
issues for the Navajo Times with my journalism class from the University of
California at Berkeley. I was there to experience the traditional way of life
of the Navajo people, to sleep on the floors of hogans and wash with water
heated on wood-burning stoves, not worry about flushing in outhouses, and
watch the sun rise in the east from hogan doorways.
This is not the tourist way.
When a classmate asked Katherine Smith, a Navajo forever connected to her
home on Hopi Partition Land, what water meant to her, she answered, "Water
means you take a shower every five minutes." I showered twice in a seven-day
period during my time in the Navajo Nation.
The roads to Nicole and Katherine's hogans in Big Mountain are made of soft
red clay that whisks across the landscape when the wind picks up, turns into
slippery paths when the rain comes down, and descends into deep washes as
they cross the landscape. Nicole doesn't need signs to know where she is. She
has the rocks, the washes, the cedar and juniper trees, the mesas, the
occasional tires, and the sun.
And, at night, there are the stars. Never have I seen so many stars filling
the sky, reminding me that Earth is part of an infinite universe. Standing
outside of Nicole's hogan late one night, I came the closest I've ever been
to touching outer space.
A magazine with photos and words cannot explain the interconnectedness of
land, life and religion for the Navajo people. Nor can I fully realize it in
a 10-day trip through the reservation. But as the land surrounded me in Big
Mountain, I felt its power under my feet and over my head.
We did visit one tourist spot in Arizona, after attending the Governor's
Summit on Indian Issues: Water and Education. We drove to the Grand Canyon
and photographed each other standing at the rocky edge of the giant crevasse
in the earth. It was there that I began to realize the power of the earth.
You see, along the California coast we have hills and mountains which rise
out of the ground along fault lines that have pushed the earth upward over
the centuries. But in Arizona, the rocks do not climb out of the earth as I
once perceived from photos. Instead, the earth has been cut away from the
rocks, leaving vast valleys and deep gorges between sandstone mesas and
I finally understood this as we flew over the land westward from Farmington.
Near what I learned was Shiprock, N.M., I saw five gorges come together like
legs of a starfish, and meet in the middle in a deep hole. In the center of
the hole stood a tall, slender rock that reminded me of the torch-laden arm
of the Statue of Liberty.
I turned in my seat to ask our teacher, Marley Shebala, a Navajo Times
reporter, if that rock in the center had a name.
"That's Spider Rock," she said.
"Three Noted Chiefs of the Sioux."
Harper's Weekly 34, 20 Oct. 1890: 995.
THE delusion of the coming of the Messiah among the Indians of the Northwest, with the resulting ceremony known as the ghost dance, is indicative of greater danger of an Indian war in that region than has existed since 1876. Never before have diverse Indian tribes been so generally united upon a single idea. The conspiracy of Pontiac and the arrayment of savage forces by Tecumseh are insignificant by comparison. The conditions do not exist that ordinarily have led to wars upon the Western frontier. The peril of the situation lies in the fanaticism which may carry the superstitious and excitable Indian to the point of hostilities in defiance of all hope of ultimate success; and the uncertainty of this element baffles the judgment of the oldest frontiersman, in the effort to determine the extent of the danger. A single spark in the tinder of excited religious gatherings may precipitate an Indian war more sanguinary than any similar war that has ever occurred. The hope of peace lies in the judicious display of force, united with conciliation, by the United States authorities, helped by the coming of severely cold weather, which would make an outbreak obviously hopeless, and allow time for the delusion to dissipate.
In the present state of affairs the noted Sioux chief Sitting Bull, who has already been the source of so much trouble in the course of Indian affairs, appears once more as a prominent figure. This time he does not have the fair pretext under which he incited the war in 1876, which led to the defeat and massacre of General Custer's command on Little Big Horn River, and terminated with the escape of Sitting Bull and his immediate followers into British territory. Since his surrender through the mediation of the Dominion officials in 1880, and his return to the Standing Rock Reservation in 1883, he has found his authority greatly diminished among the Dakota Sioux. This authority he has endeavored to regain by identifying himself with every element of hostility to the whites and opposition to the innovations of civilization, and has been so far successful that at the conference at Standing Rock, Dakota, in July and August, 1888, he influenced his tribe to refuse to relinqui sh their lands by purchase.
Contrary to the general estimate concerning him, this famous chief is a man of mediocre ability, not noted for bravery as a warrior, and inferior as a commander and an intelligence to some of his lieutenants. Sheer obstinacy, stubborn tenacity of purpose, and low cunning, with an aptitude for theatrical effect and for working on the superstitions of his people, are the attributes by which he has acquired and retained influence among the Northwest tribes. Personally he is pompous, vain, boastful, licentious, and untrustworthy. He has constantly been a disturbing element at the agency since his return from confinement as a military prisoner seven years ago, and has grown worse in this respect as he has felt his authority and importance departing.
The dangerous elements that this chief has called around him do not represent the most noted Indians who fought under his leadership in the Sioux war fourteen years ago and followed him in his exile across the British frontier. Those warriors have realized the futility of warfare with the whites, and are sincerely desirous not to incur its evils again. The Indians of whom Sitting Bull is the representative comprise the irreconcilables -- warriors who adhere to the old aboriginal usages and chiefs jealous of their authority, which wanes in proportion as their followers advance in civilization. This small but dangerous faction are ready at any time for war. In sympathy with their desire are many young men ambitious for a chance to distinguish themselves as warriors.
The chiefs of the greatest influence among the majority of the Indians are men of strong will and good sense, who have accepted the situation, and are willing to adapt themselves to the new condition of things. They could control their people by their own influence unaided if the scene of the gatherings was not so near exposed settlements, which tempt lawless Indians to make trouble in hope of booty. The present excitement is fanned to some extent by unscrupulous white persons desirous of a war with the hope that it shall bring them emolument, and end in throwing open the reservation lands for settlement.
Foremost among the Indians who have taken the side of peace and safety, and have made every effort to break up the delusion which finds expression in the ghost dances, are chiefs Gall and John Grass, both warriors held in great respect for wisdom and bravery, who took a prominent part as followers of Sitting Bull in the war that brought about the massacre at the Little Big Horn. The change in them in the fourteen years since both these chiefs were on the war-path in the equipments of savagery -- the war bonnets, the braided hair pieced out with buffalo tails, and the array of weapons -- is remarkable. The difference between the good and the bad Indian is indicated in the countenance even more obviously than among the civilized whites. The strong faces of these two chiefs indicate their character, which, unlike that of Sitting Bull, is fearless, upright, bright, and progressive.
The foremost leader among the Sioux is Chief Gall, who stands above all other chiefs in their estimation. Many persons familiar with the situation say that he planned the campaign of 1876, which made Sitting Bull famous as a commander and strategist, and affirm that no serious outbreak among the Northwest tribes will occur so long as he remains friendly to the government.
This famous war chief is one of the best farmers at the Standing Rock Agency. His family are all members of the Episcopalian Church. He takes no part in the ghost dance, nor does he lend his sanction to it. He feels that the Indians fail to appreciate the benefits of their present surroundings, and want old times, which have been magnified in their imagination by tradition, to return. "I think it better," he said, at the conclusion of a conference he and John Grass had with Major James McLaughlin, the United States agent at Standing Rock, "for us to live as we are living rather than create trouble, not knowing how it will end."
An element of great value in the preservation of order upon the reservation, and conspicuously useful in the present disturbed condition of affairs at the agency, is the Indian police. At Standing Rock the force is thirty in number, commanded by a captain and a lieutenant. For the adjudication of affairs occurring upon the reservation an Indian court has been established at the agency. Two of the judges are members of the police force, and the third one is John Grass, who speaks English. The impartiality and excellent judgment displayed in the conduct of this court have been noteworthy, and its decisions have almost invariably been accepted without complaint.
Harper's Weekly 34, 20 Oct. 1890: 995.
Salish Indians follow tradition of butchering, drying buffalo
By JOHN STROMNES
ST. IGNATIUS – On Sept. 4, 1805, a band of the Salish Indians camped at one
of the traditional gathering places in the Bitterroot Valley, a place called K’
tid Xsulex’ in their language, meaning Great Clearing, which we now know as
On that day, members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition came into view,
looking ragged, hungry, bone tired and, because of their pale complexions, quite
cold, or at least so it seemed from the Salish Indian perspective. Tribal leaders
took one look at these men and ordered up a square meal.
According to an oral history by Pierre Pichette, as related to Ella Clark in
1953 and compiled by the Salish Pend Orielle Culture Committee, “The chief (of
the Salish) looked through their (visitors’) packs and then began to explain
to the people: ‘These men must be very hungry, perhaps starving. And see how
poor and torn their clothes are.’ The chief ordered food to be brought to them –
dried buffalo meat and dried roots. ...”
If you’re looking for a square meal this Fourth of July weekend, you’re
invited to the annual Arlee Fourth of July celebration, also known as the Arlee
Powwow, where you will be able to sample the freshest dried buffalo meat north
of the Great Clearing, and probably anywhere else in Montana. (Dried roots are
optional, and not supplied by the buffalo meat vendors).
In preparation for the powwow, tribal members of the Nk(w)usm (One Fire)
Salish Language Immersion School of Arlee, aided by Outward Bound students from
the Salish-Kootenai College teen-activities program and numerous other
volunteers all the way from Arlee to Dog Lake near Hot Springs, slaughtered two
1,000-pound buffalo cows Monday morning at a ranch near Ronan.
The buffalo (zoologists prefer to call them American bison) were dispatched
with one shot each to the skull, gutted and taken immediately by truck to the
Longhouse in St. Ignatius where a cottonwood tree previously sawed up and
seasoned, was waiting patiently to become fire.
The carcasses were hoisted up in the shade of two large trees. A fire was
built and folks from all around came out with skinning knives and hatchets made
short work of the bison carcasses.
They separated the meat into slabs – using the hatchets when required on the
joints, ribs and bones – and piled the fresh meat on a table loaded with ice
to keep it cool.
Some lucky bystanders carted away the tongues – a great delicacy for bison
epicures. The hide and skull, laid out to dry in the sun, and the intestinal
sacks were reserved for tanning, taxidermy and other uses.
By noon, the meat had been trimmed of fat and carefully sliced into thin
slabs. Some helpers placed the meat on drying frames; others raked the coals to
keep the fire low and the smoky.
By evening, the meat was done – no blood inside, but not so dry that it
became tough like overdone jerky. It will be measured out in ounces, placed in
paper sacks, and sold at the powwow – about as authentic an American food this
Fourth of July as you could get anywhere.
In the Salish language, dried meat is called “esxmip squeltc.” (Don’t try to
pronounce this at home. A dot under the “x” and a check above the “c” are
typographical marks that aid in pronunciation, but cannot be reproduced in the
typeface inventory in this newspaper. For Microsoft Windows XP users, a
complete set of fonts of both the Kootenai and Salish languages is available from
“When I was a kid, we dried all our meat and fish in the fall. A lot of our
foods were air-dried, but the meat and fish was smoked like we are doing here,”
said Pat Pierre, a tribal elder who grew up in Camas Prairie between Perma
and Hot Springs on the Flathead Reservation.
“We didn’t have electricity. No refrigerators or freezers. So we dried the
meat. This is good experience for these kids. It gives them a chance for
hands-on,” Pierre said as he watched all the activity near the butchering trees.
This is the second year of the language school’s existence, and the second
year of its major fund-raiser – the making and selling of dried buffalo meat at
the powwow, said 27-year-old Joshua Brown of St. Ignatius. Last year, one
buffalo was butchered, and the meat sold out the first day. So this year they
Brown is a teacher and founder of the language school, Nk(w)usm (One Fire),
which he said is a word that connotes the family unit in Salish.
He also serves as the school’s fund-raising organizer.
The goal, he said, is to make the school self-supporting. Right now the
full-time school, which teaches preschool children to become fluent in Salish,
relies on a $184,000 annual grant for the academic year, plus $68,000 for the
summer program, all from Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes revenue.
“We’re trying to be self-sufficient and build community,” he said of the
dried-buffalo meat activities.
As for the members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, they tried the Indian
tobacco – dried leaves of the plant called kinnickinnick – but it made them
choke and cough. Once burned, twice shy. When offered dried buffalo meat, hungry
as they were, they refused it.
According to another oral history by Cix’mx’msna – Sophie Moise – as told
to Louie Pierre and Ella Clark and compiled by the Culture Committee, “When
dried meat was brought to the men, they just looked at it and put it back. It was
really good to eat, but they seemed to think it was bark or wood. ...”
Reporter John Stromnes can be reached at 1-800-366-7186
Tuesday, July 1, 2003
Cobell v. Norton: The Cobell Lawsuit and Your Individual Trust
A lot has been happening in recent weeks with our lawsuit over the government’
s mishandling of your trust accounts. The case is once again at a crucial
stage and I want you to be aware of the latest developments in Washington.
In April we had two significant developments in the case. Alan Balaran, who
had served as the court-appointed special master in our case since 1999,
resigned on April 5. In a letter made public by the court, Mr. Balaran said he
could not continue to be effective because of the continuing interference he
encountered from the Interior Department.
During his nearly 5 years as special master, Mr. Balaran documented many of
the allegations we had made about the department’s mishandling of its trust
responsibility. He did much to move the case to resolution.
Although it is important to note that we did not seek the appointment of a
special master, we do owe a lot to Mr. Balaran’s diligent work. Perhaps that’
s why Interior officials were so disturbed by his resignation. What he proved
time and time again was that the department itself was responsible for its “
systemic failure to properly monitor” the trust system.
That’s what we have repeatedly told the courts. It was good to have an
independent voice support those charges. Regardless of what the Interior officials
say, the special master made clear to the courts that the department was
incapable of handling the trust and reforming its operations on its own.
The much more promising news from Washington is that we and the government
have agreed on the appointment of two mediators who might be able to help
resolve this dispute. The individuals we have selected are Charles Byron Renfrew,
a former federal judge and deputy U.S. attorney general, and John G.
Bickerman, a lawyer experienced in handling mediation.
Judge Renfrew, in particular, has established a reputation for fairness and
equity that is beyond reproach. He has experience in the oil industry, which
should be crucial because so much of the money that was mishandled by the
government became from the oil and gas leases of Indian lands in the West. Judge
Renfrew also has excellent bipartisan credentials. A Republican appointed him
to the federal bench and a Democrat, Jimmy Carter, appointed him to one of the
highest jobs in the Justice Department.
This step is but the first step in what we believe is likely to be the long
process of mediation. Be assured that we will continue to be as vigilant in
monitoring the mediation talks, as we have been aggressive in the courts. Our
court case will continue while the mediators attempt to bring resolution to the
trust issues that prompted our litigation.
As you may know we have tried on at least five occasions to settle this
lawsuit out of court. Each time the government has blocked those settlement and
made progress impossible outside of the courtroom.
So why did we do agree to mediation? Our many friends in Congress have urged
mediation as the way to resolve the issues in our lawsuit. Since it has
become is clear that Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Attorney General John
Ashcroft will not settle the case without pressure, perhaps congressional
involvement will provide the necessary element to achieve a fair settlement of the
It is worth a try, we believe. We are, of course, concerned that Congress
might try to impose a legislative settlement without the agreement of the
beneficiaries that could undermine our rights and court victories if we do not at
least try mediation. That’s why we have begun these talks.
We still have much to talk about before mediation can begin. We need to set
the ground rules for the mediators, for example. It’s not just the shape of
the mediation table but what issues we will discuss that must be decided.
I must tell you that I am not overly optimistic. After nearly 8 years in the
courts, I believe that the government has done little but delay everything.
The Bush administration is determined to appeal every decision of the
district court, even when it knows that its conduct harms you and other Native
people. Secretary Norton said in an April 6 letter to the Sen. Ben Nighthorse
Campbell, chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, that the administration
wants to end all supervision of our lawsuit by the district court. That’s just
the latest effort by the government to deny us our fundamental rights.
As I told the Navajo people during an April visit, I sometimes fear is that
our lawsuit is becoming something that the Native people know all too well. It
seems like our lawsuit has become yet another long walk that the federal
government – the Interior Department, the Justice Department and the White House
-- is demanding Indian people take.
Just as the Navajo were tested in the 1860s by the famous long walk that
decimated that nation, the government is bringing its enormous legal resources in
an attempt to destroy our rights and our ability to enforce those rights
through this lawsuit. As the government has done so often in controversies with
Native people, it wants to divide us and make us so tired of fighting in court
that we will be forced to settle for far less than we deserve – pennies on the
The government has thought that it could simply outnumber us with scores of
lawyers, baseless motions and bad faith appeals, all paid with an endless
supply of our tax dollars. The government has spent more than $100 million in
defending their failure to honor the obligations it owes to you and other Native
people. It has attempted to undermine our will to fight this terrible
injustice by dividing and splitting Indian people whose money and land is at stake.
Fortunately, for all the years of this difficult litigation, the government has
As Indian people have shown, when Indian people are united they can do great
things. We must not allow the government to divide us, especially now when we
have won all the court battles on the merits. Justice is on our side, and we
will prevail if we remain united and do not allow the government to
intimidate us or compel us into settlements and compromises that undermine everything
that we have fought so hard to protect.
What we have sought from the outset is a full and complete accounting of what
the federal government did with our monies and our lands from the inception
of the Individual Indian Trust in 1887. This is the basic, absolute legal
right every trust beneficiary has in America – whether Indian or non-Indian. All
trustees, including the government, the smallest trust company in Montana, and
the largest trust company on Wall Street, are governed by the same standard.
The Secretary of the Interior, who is responsible for the management of the
Indian trust, is not free to continue to behave badly and otherwise act against
your interests as a trust beneficiary. We have asked for a full accounting
of our trust funds and trust lands. That right has been confirmed by federal
courts. We have asked that the government fix its broken trust management system
– something every trust beneficiary has a right to expect.
We know from numerous studies dating back to the inception of the trust that
the government did not handle our trust monies and our trust lands properly.
The government has admitted this in court. Not once, but repeatedly. And the
courts have agreed with us.
Court orders from both U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who has presided
over our lawsuit, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
have backed our positions. Those decisions state clearly and firmly that we have
a right to a full and complete accounting of our monies.
Do not be fooled by some of the government’s claims that a court decision
that protects the Secretary from any punishment for lying to a federal judge in
our case or that the courts have erased in any way the government’s obligation
to conduct a complete accounting and to fix the broken trust management
system. Those victories remain intact and cannot be challenged.
Having won those victories, we should not settle for less that we are
entitled to. That would make us second class citizens and would deny us
constitutional right that every other American has.
As the lead plaintiff in the Cobell vs. Norton lawsuit, I want to renew the
pledge I made when I filed the lawsuit in 1996. We said then and we say again
today we will not accept a settlement that is unfair and unjust to Indian
We are continuing our difficult fight in court until final judgment or until
a fair settlement is reached. However, no one knows how long this will take.
Yet, we must not ever surrender or the government’s abuse of us, our
families, our neighbors, and our friends will never end.
Let me tell you about the recent cutoff of the Internet. Judge Lamberth
ordered it because the Interior Department refused to protect our trust records
and trust funds are from computer hackers. For years, the Court and the
government have known that our trust records have been destroyed and corrupted by
hackers, making it impossible to do an accurate accounting of our trust funds and
putting our trust assets at great jeopardy of loss.
We need security for our trust records and our trust funds– not a system like
the one that exits where any high school kid with access to the Internet
could hack into the system and destroy our trust records and steal our trust funds
– without any trail. Unfortunately, an appeals court ended the Internet
disconnection before adequate safeguards were put in place. But, we will continue
to address this vital issue in the courts.
Don’t think for a moment think that means our lawyers are not determined to
win this case. We are absolutely right on the law and the facts. We believe
that the only way to end this nightmare is to place the Individual Indian Trust
in the hands of a receiver under the supervision of Judge Lamberth. The judge
has said he has the authority to do this if the Interior Secretary will not
act like a fit trustee. Receivership would not harm you; it would not affect
your regular checks or reduce the amount of funds in your account. It would just
mean that someone under the direct supervision of Judge Lamberth would
oversee the trust reform, management and administration while reform was taking
After 8 years of litigation, I think most people in Indian Country have come
to realize that Judge Lamberth cares much more about our interests than
Secretary Norton. We will, of course, be fighting the government’s efforts to end
Judge Lamberth’s supervision of the case.
Based on the court record, we have said repeatedly she does not deserve to be
allowed to continue to control our money. Our court file is thick with
details of the government’s lying, misleading and deceiving the judge about what
has happened to trust records and trust funds. Critical documents have been
lost destroyed intentionally; yet no one has been punished personally for this
It’s no wonder that two Interior secretaries have been held in contempt by
the courts. Interior Secretary Norton got an appeals court panel to remove her
contempt conviction, but the evidence of her continuing abuse is clear and
established. It seems that the court of appeals is willing to protect Norton,
even when the law demands that she be punished for lying to a federal judge.
My friends, we will not allow our trust assets to be handled with such a
callous attitude and flagrant disregard for the rights of Indian people as
Secretary Norton has displayed. We will continue the fight to see that Secretary
Norton and other Interior officials are punished for their continuing abuses even
after they leave office, if necessary. The appeals court recently suggested
that criminal contempt may be appropriate. We agree.
You can help us continue this fight. Urge your members of Congress to tell
the Bush administration to negotiate in good faith with us, especially since we
have agreed on two highly-qualified mediators. Tell them not to continue to
harm Native people by attempting to break up the class by peeling off small
groups of Indians for settlements of pennies on the dollar.
There is another important point. Do not fall for the argument that some are
making that any settlement will force the government to curtail spending on
existing Indian programs. Judge Lamberth has made it pointedly clear that the
government must not do that. Most members of Congress from Indian Country also
agree that Indian people should not be punished because they want only what is
theirs -- their trust money!
The government has a special fund that can fund any final settlement of our
lawsuit. It is the “judgment fund.” It was created to fund the payment of
money that a court has decided the government owes, including trust funds.
Therefore, no money must be taken from Indian programs to settle our case.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona has said many times that if this were any other
group other than American Indians, the national government would have resolved
this issue years ago. That’s why we must be united, why we must stand together
to have this issue resolve for the good of all Indian people and the good of
Thank you for your continued support. You can follow the latest details of
Remember, we are doing this for our ancestors, our children, our
grandchildren and us.
It is our money, after all. The government has stolen it long enough.
To view the latest information concerning this case, go to
Chief Joseph honored
By Christina Cosby/Reporter
April 14, 2004
Over 50 students, faculty members and guests attended the opening ceremony of Indian Awareness Week April 12 in the EWU campus mall.
Audrey Bincint, president of the Native American Student Association, opened the ceremony, thanking the audience for their support and welcomed guest speakers which included representatives from the Nez Perce tribe, Frank Halfmoon, Albert Redstar and EWU Board of Trustees member Joanne Kaufman.
Halfmoon and Redstar each shared stories memorializing Chief Joseph (1804-1904), recounting numerous legends of bravery and courage. One sentiment was emphasized by Halfmoon, quoting Chief Joseph, “We can endure. We can live through it. We have lived through it.”
Both Halfmoon and Redstar also gave the audience a traditional prayer of welcome.
Justin Grant, NASA member, said that the week of awareness will bring to light some important issues for students regarding ethnic diversity.
Kaufman, after reading a letter from Gov. Gary Locke, said that the students at EWU are part of a “cultural crossroads, meeting up with one another as we find direction and significance for our future lives.”
Kaufman said, “The more awareness, the better.”
White Mountain Tribe's forests called 'well managed'
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 15, 2004 12:00 AM
The White Mountain Apache Tribe's forests have been certified as "well managed," a distinction similar to the "dolphin-safe" tuna designation adopted in the 1990s to honor good fishing practices.
The designation, celebrated by the tribe and endorsed by environmentalists, frustrates Bob Dyson, a forester for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, just over the fence from the 1.68 million acres certified on the Fort Apache Reservation.
Dyson said he is stymied from actively managing the forest by resistance and lawsuits from the same environmentalists who praise the tactics when used on tribal land.
"The end result is the tribe's land is healthier over much of the forest," he said. "We're the whipping boy."
The certification was granted by Scientific Certification Systems, one of two companies designated to grant the status.
SCS has certified nearly 15 million acres of forestland throughout the world. The Fort Apache Reservation is the first to receive the designation in Arizona.
The certification process uses an independent audit team consisting of a forest ecologist, a sociologist and a forester, to analyze forestry practices according to rules of the internationally recognized Forest Stewardship Council.
Dave Wager, the ecologist on the team, said the group was impressed by many things the tribe was doing, including selective logging, or thinning, rather than clear cutting; prescribed burning to clear out undergrowth and reduce fire risk; and establishing special protection areas for sensitive wilderness, wildlife, or archaeological value.
"They are at the top of the class of tribal forestry operations," Wager said.
The certification is applauded by the Southwest Forest Alliance, a coalition of 63 conservation groups working on forest issues in Arizona and New Mexico.
"It is an honest, third-party certification," said Roxane George, outreach director for Southwest. "They do good work in establishing standards and monitoring sustainable harvesting practices.
"It's good news that the White Mountain Apache Tribe is looking at long-term sustainability."
Dyson said the National Forest operates under the same rules as Bureau of Indian Affairs foresters.
But he said resistance and lawsuits from environmentalists prevents him from "actively" managing the forest, limiting the amount of thinning and prescribed burns he can conduct.
Rob Smith, Southwest director of the Sierra Club, said Dyson is correct about the "hands-off" situation with tribal lands.
"Tribes are not public agencies," Smith said. "They're sovereign nations, legally off limits. Forest Service land is supposed to serve everybody's needs."
Smith said the Forest Service says it is pushing proposals for forest health, but environmentalists aren't convinced.
"The proposed plans that they say are for forest health look like a typical timber sale," Smith said.
He cited the East Rim timber sale north of the Grand Canyon, which the group has filed suit to stop.
"That's 1,700 acres of old-growth trees," Smith said. "It's not about forest health, it's about money for the timber sale."
Smith said the Sierra Club has never challenged a "legitimate" thinning proposal.
In granting the certification, the evaluation team found that the tribe "practices exemplary forest management, manages forestlands for high conservation values and meets the strict guidelines for certification."
"All loggers go through archaeological site recognition training," Wager said. "They have sound protocols for identifying and preserving any archaeological resources."
The tribe also had good practices to protect waterways, Wager said.
The tribe has designated some areas wilderness, which will not be logged, and others for protection of sensitive plants or animals, like the Apache trout and the Mexican wolf.
The tribal forest was audited twice before gaining the "well managed" designation because the first audit came one week before the devastating "Rodeo-Chediski" fire in June 2002.
A second team sent in
A second audit team was sent to evaluate the forest after the Rodeo-Chediski fire, which destroyed more than 468,000 acres of forest, more than half of it on the tribe's lands.
"The tribe conducted a very responsible salvage logging operation, using helicopter logging to lessen disturbance to slopes," Wager said. "They did a lot for stream protection and to minimize erosion, including straw mulching."
One area of concern, which the tribe already was addressing, was depletion of their overall stock, Wager said.
The tribe already has moved away from harvesting the largest trees and is working to retool their White River Mill to better process smaller diameter trees.
George, of the Southwest Forest Alliance, said harvesting smaller trees and allowing larger trees to remain is critical to the Southwest's forests.
She predicted that, as consumers become aware of the "well managed" designation the tribe's forest received, they will pay attention with their pocketbooks.
"People do not want to shop where they are selling old-growth or rain-forest products," George said. "There is an incentive to buy products from places trying to do sustainable harvesting."
Posted on Sat, Apr. 10, 2004
DORREEN YELLOW BIRD COLUMN: Powwow may want to rethink drum policy
The 35th Annual Time Out and Wacipi is completed, and getting ready
for the 36th program probably is far from the thoughts of UND Indian
After all is said and done, I can say I believe the powwow was a
success. There are, however, some issues that remain open.
The issue that made this powwow different was its use of "invited
drums only." When word of that policy reached the newsroom, I was
asked about it, as it seemed to be confusing to some Native and
certainly non-Native people. I told the reporters who asked that I
thought they'd misunderstood. We don't exclude anyone. Everyone is
invited, I told them.
To my chagrin, I was wrong. Only nine drums were invited to the
Wacipi. The cutoff excluded many of the North Dakota, Minnesota and
South Dakota drums.
I tried to reach Melissa Street, the contact person for the powwow,
for explanation. She wasn't at home when I called. Her husband,
Richard, answered. I explained to him I was looking for confirmation
about the invited drums issue.
Richard Street told me that yes, they did indeed limit the powwow to
nine invited drums. Here was his reasoning: The higher caliber of
drums would bring in more people and possibly lift UND's Wacipi to
the status of a national powwow. The criteria for selecting the
drums, he said, was evidence that the drum group had produced a tape
or CD. The powwow committee also considered a drum group if it had
won a championship.
Those drums will bring more dancers to the Wacipi, Street said.
When the powwow is open to any drum group, drums come from all over
the region, he said. At times, there have been as many or more than
20 drums at the Wacipi in the past, I recall. Sometimes, those drums
have inexperienced drummers, or they come without a full team and
borrow from other drums, Street said. And some of those drums aren't
very good. That, he said, isn't fair to the dancers, who are
competing for prize money.
He has a point, and the students at UND deserve a chance to explore
new ideas and avenues for their powwow. If you're creative and try
new things, sometimes great things can come out of these
I attended the powwow Saturday. The dancers seemed fewer than usual
and heavy on younger dancers. It also seemed the crowd numbers were
down. I don't, however, have attendance figures.
Yet, as elders of many of the tribes will tell you, when you are
young and a student, it always is good to ask for advice - perhaps
from the people who have been doing powwows for many years. Ask what
the traditions are and be respectful of those traditions.
I have had my ear bent about the issue from many people in the
community and from reservations. There are people at both Spirit
Lake and Turtle Mountain reservations who were offended by the
exclusion of their drums. I didn't search out these comments,
either. Because I am from Grand Forks, people automatically think
that I am aware of all that is happening with the powwow. Untrue; I
am a spectator.
I agree with these people. At most powwows, it isn't traditional to
The powwow organizers are students and young people who are
learning. I hope that they will look at what happened at the powwow,
seek advice from experts who know powwows and learn from the
situation. Perhaps, that means developing some way of weeding out
drummers who don't meet a certain criteria, but giving everyone a
chance to participate.
I will add that I have been involved in putting together powwows
both on the Three Affiliated Tribes reservation in White Shield,
N.D., and at North Dakota State University in Fargo. It is a
daunting task. It takes a tremendous amount of time to raise money,
guide a large group of students toward working together and still
get class work done. So, from that aspect, the students did well.
Finally, it is important that this event take place. It is important
that the American Indian culture is expressed for the Indian
students at UND and for educating the community about Indian people.
Yellow Bird writes columns Tuesday and Saturday.
Reach her by phone
at 780-1228 or (800) 477-6572, extension 228,
or by e-mail at
Saving the Peaks Medicine men speak out
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK — Saying their spiritual sovereignty is as important as their
legal sovereignty, the Diné (Navajo Nation) Medicine Men Association this week
called for protection of the San Francisco Peaks from expansion of the Arizona
Snowbowl and artificial snow-making with reclaimed water.
During a press conference Thursday at the Education Center auditorium in
Window Rock, the group also requested a 120-day extension of the public comment
period that ends Monday on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which calls
for using up to 552 acre feet of treated effluent to make artificial snow.
"The San Francisco Peaks are as sacred to us as any church and we, the
spiritual leaders of tribes, will fight to protect them," said Anthony Lee,
president of the association. The medicine men are particularly concerned that the
Forest Service has failed in its government-to-government relationship.
Hearings on the Snowbowl project have not been accessible to tribal members
throughout the southwest region that hold the Peaks sacred, the medicine men
said. The also took issue with the fact that the Forest Service sent the various
proposed development options to tribal members on CD-ROM, saying that many
tribal members cannot use and do not have computers. Also, no translations of
the various proposals were made available and the Forest Service had few hard
"Too many chapters and tribes don't know that the Forest Service wants to use
reclaimed water on the Peaks,"said Robert Tohe, spokesman for Save the Peaks
Coalition."That's because the proposals are only in English and the hearings
are too far for most people to get to. Our grandmas and grandpas deserve to
know what is going on."
The San Francisco Peaks are sacred to over 13 southwestern tribes. The
leaders of those tribes worry that reclaimed water contaminated with pharmaceuticals
and other organic waste compounds will do permanent and irreversible damage
to the Peaks. Coalition leaders say no further action should be taken until the
Peaks are reviewed for designation as a Traditional Cultural Property and
that the EIS should specifically address the use of reclaimed water on a sacred
Vincent Randall, tribal councilman and Apache historian, in a letter of
support to the medicine men on behalf of the Western Apache NAGPRA Working Group,
which consists of traditional elders from White River, San Carlos, Payson, Camp
Verde, and the Yavapai Apache Nation, wrote:
"For the Western Apache people, the Peaks, known to us as Dzil Cho, are
extremely important. ... Dzil Cho marks our place in this world and is the home of
the Mountain Spirits (Gan) who bless our lives and anchor our understanding of
what it means to be Apache. The Mountain supplies us with important medicines
and other plants for our use. ...
"For the people who own and control what happens on Dzil Cho the most sacred
thing is money. We know money is important. We cannot raise our families in
this world without it, but there is a line we cannot cross. The Sacred is not
for sale,"he said."I would like to ask the Forest Service how they can ignore
the convictions of over a quarter of a million Indian people for the benefit of
a few skiers and businesses."
The Diné Medicine Men Association (DMMA) approved a resolution in opposition
to the Snowbowl expansion project and supporting the DEIS' "No Action
Alternative," stating that the development infringes and violates the First Amendment
rights of the U.S. Constitution, American Indian Religious Freedom Act of
1978, and Executive Order 13007, Indian Sacred Sites.
DMMA's Lee said the May 20, 1983, court decision, Wilson vs. Block, indicated
that Navajo, Apache and other indigenous nations had not been denied access
to the Peaks,"but instead it permitted free entry onto the Peaks and did not
interfere with the ceremonies. Therefore the Plaintiffs have not proven that
expansion of the ski area will prevent them from performing ceremonies or
collecting objects that can be performed or collected in the Snowbowl but nowhere
But Lee disagreed. "They say we have no proof that the development of the ski
area resort does in any way infringe upon our belief system. There is a
language that is missing and this language is the sacred mountain bundles that all
Din medicine man practitioners have. That is our burden of proof. We weren't
given the Bible. We weren't given money. We were given these two energy
sources. And today we are talking about this serious desecration of the San Francisco
Peaks," which is an insult to the Din people, he said.
Dr. David Begay, who also spoke at the press conference, said,"The federal
government through the U.S. Forest Service is claiming that the Native Americans
are currently given access to the San Francisco Peaks and therefore their
religious rights under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution are
"From a Native American traditional perspective, access isn't the underlying
concern here. Rather the concerns are over the extreme desecration of the
physical and spiritual integrity of the San Francisco Peaks. Development of the
San Francisco Peaks with reclaimed sewer water would be considered a grossly
profane act. It is an affront to spiritual Navajo beings and a violation of
traditional Navajo beliefs."
Begay said that Navajo traditional people believe that use of the four sacred
mountains is indispensable and central to their way of life."The government
or any one of us simply can't change their ancient beliefs, nor can we ask them
to take out one of the four sacred mountains from their ancient belief
Jones Benally, a traditional health practitioner and medicine man who works
with the Winslow Indian Medical Center, waved a medicine bundle in the air,
telling the group that the medicine bundle contained all of the herbs from the
foot of the mountain all the way near the top of the San Francisco Peaks.
Benally said that if the reclaimed water is used and sprayed on the mountain, it
will affect his ability to practice his traditional medicine along with Western
medical doctors, because all of those herbs are there to help heal his
patients. "That is why he strongly objects to using reclaimed water in any of the
developments on the San Francisco Peaks," Tohe translated.
Many of those in attendance questioned Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley
Jr.'s stance on the Snowbowl issue. Cora Phillips of the president's office said
Shirley could not attend the press conference due to a prior commitment.
However, she said, the president has established a position on the San Francisco
"The Navajo Nation is very concerned that our sacred beliefs are continually
being ignored once again through this new effort, which is using reclaimed
water for recreational purposes on the Peaks. We pray that our words will be
heard in a most respectful way. All Native Americans must stand together to hold
sacred our beliefs and to continue to honor our beliefs and traditions. That is
the statement of the Navajo Nation president," Phillips said.
Norman Brown of Diné Bidziil, who was unable to attend the press conference,
said afterward that the first immigrants fled Europe to pursue their religion
of choice. "How is our right to practice our way of life any different from
the first immigrants' right to freedom of worship? ... Any defacement of what's
sacred to Native people is a defacement of indigenous notions of humanity. Any
act to exploit and deface sacred sites is an act of dehumanization and
therefore a violation of our human rights," he said.
Artifacts reflect life of native Americans
DAYS OF OLD BY JEFF BREKAS
A large Native American stone bowl marked in bold black “Silverton 1897”
rests hidden in storage among a significant collection of artifacts atop what was
Tapalamahoh (Mount of Communion) at Mt. Angel Abbey Museum in Mt. Angel. Most
of the stone items labeled from the Abiqua and Silver creek areas were
obtained or found by longtime Silverton Country photographer and historian June
Drake, who was born at Marquam July 11, 1880 and died in 1969 just short of his
Drake, a naturalist who through his pictures launched a successful one-man
crusade during spring 1900 to create a federal or state park at Silver Creek
Falls, had what he and many considered a museum inside his third Drake Brothers
Studio building which existed from 1911-61 at 303 N. Water St. On file he had
thousands of negatives of all descriptions of the Silverton Country and scores
of interesting objects from the community’s history that he made available to
the public during the 1954 Silverton Centennial Celebration.
Silvertonians were not yet in the mindset to establish a museum in the 1960s,
thus his negatives were donated to the Oregon Historical Society in Portland
where they remain with public access to reprints. Drake had his collection of
stone Indian artifacts taken to Mount Angel Abbey, where a museum had existed
since at least the mid 1940s.
The Drake collection at Mt. Angel currently resides in storage. It includes
an axe, other bowls, a hand digger, grinding stones, a knife, hammers, mortars,
pestles and a shot put once used for sport. Prominent in the collection is a
weighty 18-inch oblong stone called a war club or a slave killer, once used in
battle or to end the suffering of dying slaves.
One pestle is marked “Loe, Evens Valley.” Roger Loe of the Loe Century Farm
in the valley said the pestle was probably found by his grandfather Ole A. Loe
who had come with his wife Ragnild to the valley from Minnesota in 1902. The
item was from the Silverton Country, but not necessarily from the valley.
The younger Loe said he learned while growing up that his grandfather kept a
pile of local Native American artifacts at the front gate including an Indian
plow the Native Americans once had laced to a stick for cultivation. He said
Drake once “borrowed” the artifacts and the plow may have been sold with other
artifacts by Drake during The Great Depression. Loe said the pestle was once
displayed in the front window of Drake’s studio.
Loe said in his many years of farming he knows of no Native American
artifacts found in Evens Valley.
Another pestle at the Mount Angel Abbey Museum was donated by Archie Krupicka
of Molalla in 1959.
Possible but undocumented local Indian artifacts on display currently in the
museum include doughnut stones or money stones once used for hoop and pole
games, and trade. The showcase also contains other mortars, pestles and stone
On display are undocumented items from other Pacific Northwest tribes who
resided as far north as British Columbia, Canada, including burial urns and
charred human bones from such urns. Other objects include canoe carving tools,
canoe bailers, fishing net menders, stone dishes, a leather holder, stone mallet
heads, pottery, rock slings, a strainer and stone utensils.
Examples of metal spear points here demonstrate how coastal Indians salvaged
Since September 2002 Father Kenneth Jacques has served as curator. The museum
also focuses on natural history, the Catholic community and Mt. Angel’s
German and Swiss heritage. He has worked and resided on the hill since 1963.
The museum is open daily 10 - 11:30 a.m. and 1 - 5 p.m. A black donation box
is mounted near the main door.
Native American items are considered as valuable in the marketplace. Thus at
least one Silverton area man would prefer to keep his noteworthy local
His collection contains many items he found in fields immediately south of
Tapalamahoh where he believed tribes and bands camped. Because local Indians
utilized the bow and arrow, he owns many small and large bird points chipped from
a variety of materials including agate, flint, jasper and obsidian. He and
his family have also unearthed doughnut stones, scrapers, spearheads, an
obsidian knife and a rock with a curious indention used as a stick sharpener.
The collector also located a number of arrowheads in a briar patch at Scotts
Mills, concluding fowl such as quail and grouse probably took cover in the
same patch during much earlier times. Years ago he obtained the arrowhead
collection of the late Howard Myers of Silverton, all examples from the Waldo Hills.
He said many artifacts have been found by farmers such as Richard Krenz along
This Silverton collector said a concentration of items usually constituted a
campsite, most commonly found near a stream or ancient lake where water and
hunting game was convenient. He said cultivation since white settlement resulted
in many broken stone bowls that where turned over in the fields or shoved
into burn piles before discovery.
Because the Silverton Country was common to the Molalla, Kalapuya and Klamath
tribes, determining the precise origin of artifacts found here is a difficult
science, he indicated. Because tribes were nomadic, many Pacific Northwest
tribes shared common hunting practices.
Paul Clute of Silverton holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Southern
Oregon University in Ashland. He believes he and his sons David, Chris and Mark
unearthed a Klamath campsite while excavating for a garden fishpond in their
backyard at 218 Fairview St. during the 1960s. The house where the Clutes
resided from 1965-85 once served as the original Silverton Episcopal Church.
Clute said he and his sons found two that were one-half inch thick, as well
as several partially completed bowls, evidence the items were being worked on
in a campsite. He said the fine and cinderlike basic cellular lava called
scoria the bowls were comprised of led him to believe the material was from shallow
volcanic eruptions in the Columbia Lava Plateau east of the Cascade Mountain
No such material is found west of the mountains, Clute said.
He said in his study of the Molalla Tribe he learned the women wove
longwearing basket hats and garments from the fibers of beaten cedar bark to shed the
rain. These items, as well as tools such as awls crafted from wood or bone, did
not survive the damp climate in the Willamette Valley to be found by amateur,
accidental or scientific archeologists.
Native American items in the Silverton Country were revealed in 1995 when
Silverton muralist Lori Lee Webb made an intensive study of the Klamath, Modoc
and Molalla tribes to accurately depict the appearance of members in her mural “
The Old Oak” on what became the West wall of Silver Falls Bank.
“The Indians used dogs with travois hooked up for carrying,” Webb said. “
When they first saw horses, they called them ‘mystery dogs.’ I tried to display
the furs and cedar woven garments along with the leather...”
Webb noted the tightly woven basket hats doubled as a means of boiling water
utilizing fire-hot river rocks, as were multi-use stone bowls found by Drake
and others in the areas of Abiqua and Silver creeks.
“The tattoo on the woman’s chin meant she was old enough to marry,” she
continued. “The girls could not wait to have this mark. It was common from Alaskan
territory to New Mexico. She has fur wraps on her head in the mural.
“The men usually just had the mark a bit more than an inch to measure the
shell money,” Webb said. “The dentilium shell is also what you see in the
necklace on the mural, with the medallion at the bottom and through the nose of the
man in the front on the left. His choker has an abalone shell in the middle.”
From 1924-64 George E. Tompkins and his wife Jessie I. Tompkins of Stayton
collected thousands of artifacts at campsites of the Kalapuya Tribe that includ
ed the Santiam Band. In a wash on the Pudding River near Pratum they found
medium-sized arrowheads of “good” quality. An unusually high flood in the Lake
Labish area furnished a rare experience for the couple when on one of the
Zielinski farms near the Hazelgreen district soil was washed from a 30-foot strip
for about 200 feet, revealing broken mortars and pestles, chippings from
arrowheads and scrapers.
Robert Horace Down wrote of three burial mounds with several graves west of
Tapalamahoh in his 1926 book “A History of the Silverton Country.” The current
status of the site is a matter of investigation by this writer and others.
Headline: Yellowstone bison: To shoot or not to shoot?
Byline: Todd Wilkinson Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
(WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONT.)Mike Mease calls himself a "bison shepherd." And on the
sagebrush-covered flats of Horse Butte, he and others from the Buffalo
Field Campaign (BFC) are bracing for their biggest confrontation of the
Armed with video cameras and walky-talkies to coordinate strategy
across hundreds of square miles, this ragtag group of environmentalists
is on a mission: Usher Yellowstone bison out of harm's way when the
rangy animals leave the national park and cross into Montana.
"We don't know how many bison will be slaughtered in the next few
weeks, but all indications are that it could be a lot," says Mr. Mease
in his stocking-cap beret. "We've already lost too many animals."
This winter, nearly 270 bison have been captured in Montana and sent to
slaughter. Any day, hundreds more are expected to leave the park's
snowy confines, searching for spring grass and a quiet place to birth
Waiting at Horse Butte is the Montana Department of Livestock, watching
for the wild behemoths - the last major reservoir of buffalo known to
carry brucellosis, a disease that causes nearby cows and buffalo to
abort their fetuses.
Concern over possible transmission and its economic repercussions has
only grown in recent months. Wyoming lost its "disease free" status for
cattle when cows there were infected, allegedly after contact with
contaminated wild elk. Nationwide, the livestock industry is still
reeling from the nation's first verified case of "mad cow" disease in
December. And in Montana, where there are more domestic cows than
people, the loss of disease-free status could send the industry reeling.
Agricultural experts say the cost of an outbreak - quarantines,
testing, and lost markets - would reach the tens of millions. "We have
not had a case of brucellosis transmission here because agencies have
been vigilant," says state Livestock Department spokeswoman Karen
Cooper. "Part of that is lethal control."
For the Buffalo Field Campaign, the 2,700 Yellowstone bison killed here
since the late 1980s are a rallying cry. Environmentalists suggest the
threat is overblown, saying there's never been a documented case of
brucellosis passed from bison to cattle in the wild. And Yellowstone's
buffalo population is its own success story, with roughly 4,000
descended from a few dozen that survived a 19th century annihilation
that erased tens of millions from the Great Plains.
Not all bison wandering into Montana are shot. Instead, Ms. Cooper
says, "We're trying to be tolerant where we can." If park officials
can't herd wandering bison back into the park, they steer them into
pens for testing and, if results are positive, send them to slaughter.
In the last three years, state and federal agencies have spent millions
guiding buffalo back into the park - a tactic Mease calls a pricey
attempt to stop migration.
Mease founded BFC seven years ago, after a winter when nearly 1,100
bison were killed. He found that marksmen typically wouldn't kill
buffalo when he was present. When they did, he sent videotapes of the
incidents to TV stations nationwide, outraging thousands. Ultimately,
the state shifted to sending bison to slaughter.
"Slowly, we've been making progress," says Mease. Legislation drafted
in Congress would impose a three-year moratorium on the killing.
Residents' support for non-lethal management has grown; studies on a
vaccine program are in the works; and ranchers are growing more
tolerant of the diseased buffalo.
Initially, critics said BFC's vigilance would never last. But while
tree sitters in old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest have come
and gone, BFC is anchoring one of the longest continuous environmental
protests in U.S. history.
Over 1,700 people - from corporate executives to street people - have
come from all states and several nations, says Mease. One is Anja
Seddie, a librarian from Germany who heard of BFC's efforts on
television. "Passion for buffalo is what inspired me to get involved,"
she says. "Discovering that I can make a difference is what brought me
back a second time."
The BFC headquarters outside of West Yellowstone is run like a military
camp - one in which many volunteers resemble young hippies at a Phish
concert. Alcohol and drugs are forbidden. A log cabin is the nerve
center, and tepees provide sleeping quarters for volunteers.
Rising daily at 4 a.m. and patrolling until sundown, the activists
monitor both bison and agents' activities. They've "been bearing
witness on behalf of bison every day" and had "a profound influence in
changing the way government agencies treat these creatures," says Will
Patric, coordinator of the Greater Yellowstone Wildlife Alliance. He
acknowledges the controversy: Activists have been arrested for alleged
civil disobedience, ignored police barriers in their filming, and
erected roadblocks to prevent trucks from shipping bison to
slaughterhouses. Cooper would not comment on such behavior, saying
only: "As long as their actions are legal they have a right to be
there." Others in law enforcement have called them "ecoterrorists."
Mease calls that slander, saying BFC condemns violence. "To see animals
that you've come to know rounded up and slaughtered - it ... gets into
your heart," he says. Among those in West Yellowstone, response is
mixed. BFC offers a 24-hour service for residents to call for help in
moving bison off their land and offers free labor to fix fences broken
by bison. Volunteers along highways ask motorists to slow down when
bison are present and have made signs for residents to post on their
land telling the Livestock Department that animals are welcome.
"We're not here to create enemies," Mease says. "We're doing this to
win friends for wild buffalo."
Such words resonate with Susan Dexter of Durham, Maine. rather than
joining her daughter on a spring break, she headed to Horse Butte.
"What [the workers] are doing," she says, "is a selfless act."
(c) Copyright 2004 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.
The Christian Science Monitor-- an independent daily newspaper providing context and clarity on national and international news, peoples and cultures, and social trends. Online at http://www.csmonitor.com
Century later, 'Indian slayer' memorial again sparks controversy
Apr. 6, 2004 02:00 PM
MILFORD, Pa. - In this picturesque town of 1,100 people in northeastern Pennsylvania, an unlikely memorial exists to a man who was, by even conservative accounts, a mass murderer.
But though you'd be hard pressed to find anyone willing to defend 18th century American Indian slayer Tom Quick as a good guy, it's not hard to find people who want the monument bearing his name back where it stood for 108 years.
The 9-foot-tall zinc obelisk was vandalized with a sledgehammer in 1997, and installation plans were halted in 1999 after 200 Indians and others protested in front of the county courthouse.
The monument was repaired, however, and Milford officials decided last fall to return it to its longtime spot on a quiet street in this town near the New York and New Jersey borders.
"This is Mayberry," Town Council President Matthew Osterberg said. "In no way have we ever intended to offend anyone. That's the last thing we want."
The obelisk features a spire adorned with a crossed tomahawk and peace pipe, a plowshare and wreath, and a furled flag. Accounts from the 1889 dedication state that Quick's remains were unearthed, his bones placed in a jar and buried under the monument bearing his name.
Supporters of re-erecting the marker contend that it is part of the town's and the nation's past, and that erasing history for the sake of political correctness is irresponsible.
"We're being portrayed as Indian haters, which is completely wrong," said Lori Strelecki, curator of the Pike County Historical Society's The Columns Museum. "As a historian, I don't want someone's sanitized version of history. I want to decide for myself."
Opponents call the obelisk a glorification of a man who, according to legend, slaughtered 99 American Indian men, women and children - and lamented on his death bed in 1796 that he didn't get to make it an even hundred.
In one gruesome story in which Quick supposedly killed an unarmed Indian family, he remarked that the children "squawked like young crows" as he buried a hatchet in their heads, and he defended killing a baby by saying that "nits make lice."
"Lynchings in the South were part of history, too, so are we going to start putting up monuments to the grand wizards of the KKK?" said Chuck Gentle Moon Demund, interim chief of the Lenape Nation, the region's native people. "This is a monument to a serial killer, a guy who wanted to wipe out a whole race of people."
Demund said he and other Lenape leaders spoke with Milford officials in 2001 about their opposition to restoring the monument. They also contend that they were not invited to a 2003 symposium, where a local father and son with Cree heritage spoke in favor of reinstalling it. Plans then moved forward to do so.
Lenape leaders believe they were excluded from the debate once Milford found Indians who would agree with them, and they bristle that Cree - a tribe based in Canada - had a say at all. The town says that the Lenape, until only recently, seemed uninterested in the discussion.
"We felt good about the efforts we made to ensure everyone was heard," Osterberg said. "There's nothing going on behind closed doors."
The murkiness of the Tom Quick legend adds to the problem.
According to most reports, Quick swore revenge on the entire Indian nation after he saw Indians kill and scalp his father in 1756.
Accounts over the years alternately draw him as a psychopath who bragged about his sadistic exploits, a vigilante frontiersman who spent his life avenging his dead father, or a nasty drunk who exaggerated his crimes to impress people.
Newspaper accounts from the 1930s refer to Quick as the 6-foot-9 "Avenger of the Delaware" and call his story a "thrilling epic." A newspaper article from 1964 proclaims him the "Number-one Son of Milford," and includes an artist's rendition of Quick as a coonskin-capped, fringe-jacketed Davy Crockett type.
"It is possible he killed maybe six Indians, which of course is bad enough," said Pike County's official historian, George Fluhr. "But there's no proof that he killed anywhere near 99. It's ridiculous."
Fluhr said that nothing was written about Quick's life until more than 50 years after he died, making embellishment likely.
"Whether he killed one person, a dozen, 99, or more, he was honored with this memorial because of those deeds," said Perry Gower of the Tri-State Unity Coalition, a local human rights group that with Lenape leaders has formed a group to fight the monument called Lenape Voices.
Newspapers from 1889 chronicle unease about Quick's memorial even then - with one editorial asking why a "monster of a man" should be so honored. However, historians and town officials point out that it also was a time when the United States and the Indians were engaged in bitter conflict and Manifest Destiny was in full force.
One year after Milford's fanfare-filled monument dedication, soldiers massacred some 300 Lakota Sioux, including women and children, at Wounded Knee, S.D., ending the last of the country's Indian wars.
The Town Council met with Lenape leaders on Monday night and planned to have one more meeting with them before announcing its decision. However, concerns for the monument have already been raised.
"That's been the question over the last five years: Will it be vandalized again if we put it back up?" Osterberg said. "I'd hate to see that. It's a part of our town."
On the Net:
Group of Goshutes could be too late to save sacred sites
By Judy Fahys The Salt Lake Tribune
Several Skull Valley Goshutes fear the federal government is about to allow a
landfill to be built on sacred religious sites.
Indians hope memorial site will ease the pain of Sand Creek
By DAVID KELLY
Los Angeles Times
EADS, Colo. - Silence and emptiness abound on this great sea of
grass stretching to the pale blue horizon. Tumbleweed spins past;
hawks gaze from rusted fence posts.
American Indian pilgrims sometimes walk along the crooked course of
Sand Creek and listen. They say they can hear screams and sobs.
"There is a small group of us who hear spirits all the time," said
Laird Cometsevah, a Cheyenne chief who comes here every year. "Some
hear women; I hear children."
Cheyennes and Arapaho have long journeyed to this lonesome prairie
to remember the 163 Indians shot and hacked to death by Colorado
cavalrymen during the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. The slaughter,
initially hailed as a great military victory, set off a dozen years
of bloody warfare across the Great Plains.
Investigations later revealed that two-thirds of those killed were
women, children and infants. Eyewitness accounts tell of fingers and
ears lopped off as trophies, babies left to die in freezing fields
and women clinging to soldiers' legs begging in vain for mercy.
"You would think it impossible for white men to butcher and mutilate
human beings as they did there," wrote Capt. Silas Soule, a soldier
who saw the massacre. "But every word I have told you is the truth
that they do not deny."
The Indians have long tried to gain possession of the site and
soothe the restless souls they say still wander it. About 20 years
ago, the descendants of Sand Creek victims organized and sought ways
to buy the land.
In December, a businessman with casino ties to the tribes bought the
massacre site and donated it to them. They, in turn, leased it to
the National Park Service, which is creating the first national
historic site in the United States dedicated solely to a massacre.
"We are making history here," said Alexa Roberts, superintendent of
the site. "This has been one of the most controversial episodes in
the history of the West. It's like Little Big Horn, and among Indian
tribal peoples, it's never been forgotten."
Park officials expect 30,000 visitors a year to the site, which they
say will encompass 12,500 acres, including an interpretive center
and markers detailing the sequence of events. It is expected to open
within three years.
Sitting about 12 miles from the small ranching town of Eads in
southeast Colorado, Sand Creek has changed little since the
massacre. A few cottonwood trees have grown up in the past century,
but the sharp bends in the dry creek and swaying grasslands remain
largely as they were.
Life has changed, though. A place once teeming with cowboys and
Indians has just cowboys now, and they're fading fast. The bison are
gone, the saloons nearly gone and, of course, the Indians are gone.
Atop a bluff overlooking the creek, a small monument reads, "Sand
Creek Battle Ground. Nov. 28 & 29. 1864."
Historians say it was no battle, it was a slaughter.
"The soldiers split into two columns and came up on the tepees,"
said Roberts, pointing toward the creek. "It was a running
engagement. The people fled up the creek, and the killing took place
over a five-mile area."
In the months preceding the massacre, tensions between Indians and
whites in the Colorado territory were running high. Soldiers and
Indians clashed repeatedly. There were raids, atrocities and
Many confrontations were between the U.S. military and renegade
Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, highly skilled warriors and horse thieves
operating outside tribal law.
The most notorious incident involved a group of Arapaho who killed a
white ranching family near Denver. The father, Ward Hungate, was
shot and scalped, the mother raped and repeatedly stabbed, and their
4-year-old daughter and baby nearly decapitated. All were mutilated.
The Hungate Massacre inflamed public opinion against all Indians,
warlike or not.
Into this chaotic world rode Col. John M. Chivington, a tall, burly
man running for Congress while simultaneously chasing Indians across
The Indian men were off hunting bison, leaving mostly women,
children and the elderly behind. Most were Cheyennes, mixed with
Lt. Joseph Cramer said he was threatened with death for failing to
"I told the colonel that I thought it murder to jump them friendly
Indians," Cramer wrote. "He says in reply, "Damn any man who are in
sympathy with them.' "
Chivington, who led the assault, was hailed as a hero in Denver.
Indian body parts were displayed in a local theater. But a few
months later, as news of the slaughter spread, Congress launched an
investigation. In a rare act of contrition, the U.S. government
described the killings as a massacre and promised reparations. The
Indians were never paid.
"The massacre was a turning point, people began to understand why
white people were here, and that was to take everything," said Steve
Brady, president of the Northern Cheyenne Sand Creek Descendants in
Lame Deer, Mont.
The Cheyenne allied themselves with the Lakota, Kiowa, Arapaho and
Comanche. They attacked on a 100-mile front, knocking out every
ranch, wagon train and telegraph station they found, said David
Halaas, a former Colorado state historian and massacre expert.
Years of war culminated in the 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn in
southeastern Montana, where Col. George Armstrong Custer and his 197
men were wiped out by a coalition of Indians - Cheyenne, Lakota
Sioux and Arapaho.
The glory and freedom were fleeting. In the early 1880s, the
Cheyenne and Arapaho were moved to reservations in Montana, Wyoming
For many, Sand Creek is part of the landscape, something they rarely
think about. "I'm surprised by all the attention it's getting," said
Thomas Davis, 52, a local pharmacist. "Maybe it's some kind of
closure for the Indians."
Cometsevah believes it is, one long overdue.
"Now we will take care of the spirits there so they can no longer be
disturbed," he said. "Now they can rest."
FROM THE SIDELINES
Thorpe's local legacy
March 29, 2004
From one angle or another, the life of the great American Indian
athlete Jim Thorpe has touched the lives of several harbor area
figures over the years.
Mel Smalley, a Newport Harbor High halfback in 1948-50, once came to
meet Thorpe in the Wilmington area in 1942. Smalley's uncle drove
young Smalley to Thorpe's residence and introduced his nephew,
thinking the lad would be impressed.
Although Smalley appreciated his uncle's efforts, he had never heard
of Thorpe and was a bit speechless, but took the time to shake his
hand. Chances are that the prized Newport fullback Bob Berry, a
superb gridder from 1947-49, crossed paths with Thorpe more than he
knew since his family had first settled in Wilmington before
shifting to Costa Mesa in the mid-1940s.
An outstanding Newport football coach from the early '70s named Don
Lent enjoyed one lofty tribute to the late Indian athlete by
dedicating a modern Cypress College structure in the mid-'70s called
the Jim Thorpe House, which became the athletic department's main
The event drew considerable attention because Thorpe's marvelous
daughter, Grace, had traveled a great distance to participate in the
And this corner, classified administrator at Cypress, was present to
interview Miss Thorpe and take her photograph at the facility while
a crowd of people welcomed her visit.
In his time, Thorpe was nicknamed "Indian Jim" because of his Sac
and Fox ancestry. He was born and raised in Oklahoma, but made his
collegiate name under a famed coach named "Pop" Warner at Carlisle
Indian School in Pennsylvania.
It has been said that Thorpe followed the athletic prowess of his
great-great grandfather, Black Hawk, who was deemed the best athlete
of his tribe.
Thorpe once said, "I am no more proud of my career as an athlete
than I am of the fact that I am a direct descendant of that noble
Thorpe's Indian name was Wa-Tho-Huck, which means Bright Path.
The Associated Press voted Thorpe the greatest male athlete of the
first half of the 20th century. Babe Ruth, the ace baseball hitter,
was voted second.
Old records indicate Thorpe was superior in most sports and a super
talent in track and field.
Thorpe died in 1953. He was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Grace Thorpe told this corner in the mid-'70s that her personal
battle continued with the International Olympic officials to return
the two gold medals from the 1912 Olympics they had taken away from
him her father. He had won the pentathlon and decathlon.
One report said Jim Thorpe had taken money for playing semi-pro
baseball before the 1912 Olympics and violated his amateur status.
Thorpe had claimed that the money merely served his need for room
and board to play baseball. In time, many agreed with Thorpe's
Grace Thorpe kept her verbal combat going until 1982 when the
Olympic officials finally agreed to return his medals to her and the
family. They also erased the 1912 charges to clear his name.
One recalls his impressive days playing football against the rugged
Army team that featured a future president at halfback by the name
of Dwight Eisenhower. Thorpe led the Carlisle Indians to a big upset
victory, averaging more than 10 yards per carry.
In one professional grid clash, Thorpe encountered a couple impacts
by a name that would later become famous at Notre Dame. The name was
Rockne was determined to stop the sensational Thorpe, but after the
second effective tackle, Thorpe was leaning toward Rockne's way to
state, "Let, Jim run. The people pay to see Jim run."
Rockne ignored the comment, only to find Thorpe rumbling right over
him and running for a touchdown the next play.
AP: AIM Tape Puts Accused Killer at Scene
Sun Mar 28, 2:11 PM ET
By CARSON WALKER, Associated Press Writer
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A Canadian man charged with killing a former
American Indian Movement member in 1975 acknowledged on an audiotape
that he was with her moments before she was shot and left for dead
in a ravine, according to a transcript obtained by The Associated
John Graham is charged with first-degree murder in the kidnapping
and slaying of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, who prosecutors say was
killed because AIM leaders suspected she was a government informant.
Prosecutors say Graham shot her in the back of the head as she
begged for her life.
Graham, a former AIM member who remains free on bond in Canada, has
denied killing Aquash. Former AIM member Arlo Looking Cloud was
convicted of murder last month in Aquash's death, and is to be
sentenced to life in prison next month.
The 2001 conversation on the tape was arranged by a senior AIM
leader, according to people familiar with the tape who spoke on the
condition of anonymity. They said the interview was intended to
provide Graham an opportunity to present an explanation for his
whereabouts during the final moments of Aquash's life.
Prosecutors would not comment on the tape. During a telephone
interview this week with the AP, Graham also refused to discuss it.
"If they have me on tape saying all this stuff, bring it on. I'm
going to keep my comments to the courts," said Graham, who was due
in court Monday for a hearing involving his extradition.
Paul DeMain of Hayward, Wis., an Indian journalist who has
researched Aquash's death and also has the transcript, said the tape
contains important details about the slaying.
"It's Graham in his own voice qualifying certain facts about the
last hours and literally minutes of Anna Mae's life. He's not
admitting to a lot of things other than being there. But he's
qualifying who's driving, when they went certain places," said
DeMain, who did not conduct the interview.
Aquash was among the Indian militants who occupied the village of
Wounded Knee for 71 days in 1973 ? a standoff that became a symbol
of 1970s Indian conflicts.
Her slaying occurred amid a series of violent clashes in the 1970s
between federal agents and American Indian Movement leaders, who
were fighting for treaty rights and self-determination for Indians.
Authorities said they only recently found enough evidence to
prosecute the case. A break came when the former common-law life of
one-time AIM leader Dennis Banks came forward.
The tape focuses on a Denver-to-South Dakota trip in 1975 that
included Aquash, Graham, Looking Cloud and fellow AIM member Theda
Witnesses at Looking Cloud's trial testified that Looking Cloud and
Graham walked Aquash to the edge of a ravine in South Dakota's
Badlands, where Graham allegedly shot her.
On the tape, Graham places himself on the trip from Denver and to
the spot where she was killed, according to the transcript.
He does not directly acknowledge killing Aquash, but he never said
Looking Cloud killed her either, according to the transcript.
At Looking Cloud's trial, John Trudell, AIM chairman at the time,
testified he believes Graham, Looking Cloud and Clarke were ordered
to kill Aquash during a stop at the home of AIM member Bill Means.
On the tape transcript, Graham said he was there.
"I don't remember going into (Means') house. I stayed in the car
(with Aquash), I know that. Theda went in. And I don't know if Arlo
went in or not, I can't really remember that too clear," he said.
Asked if Clarke took over the driving when they left Means' house
for Wanblee, where Aquash was killed, Graham said: "Yeah. I do
remember that. Theda did some driving. Theda drove from Bill
Clarke has not been charged in the case. She is in her 80s and lives
in a nursing home in Nebraska.
One of Aquash's daughters, Denise Maloney Pictou, now is executive
director of the group Indigenous Women for Justice, which has a copy
of the tape. Its members challenged Graham to take a lie-detector
test or respond to its contents.
Graham refused and instead challenged the group to make the tape
A Graham supporter questions the credibility of the interview.
"We have not heard the tape, so we don't have much to say," said
Matthew Lien of the John Graham Defense Committee. "What you are
alleging this apparent tape says is the first time I have ever heard
any deviation or any expressing of knowledge."
Lien questions the significance of the tape, pointing to the fact
that it has yet to surface as evidence in the case. He said that,
according to Graham, Aquash asked him to accompany her from Denver
to a safe house on the Pine Ridge reservation, which he did.
"They were very close, very close friends and traveled together
during those days, during sometimes intense circumstances," Lien
said in a telephone interview.
Maloney Pictou denied that her mother and Graham were close, and
said that she has never heard from him.
"When you are someone's friend and your friend goes missing or your
friend is found murdered, don't you think you'd want to contact your
friend's children?" she said.
On the Net:
Indian woman praised for trust fund fight; Government still hasn't
fixed accounting system
By MIKE STARK
Of The Gazette Staff
After four trials, contempt of court charges against top government
officials and years of frustration, American Indians are still
waiting for the U.S. government to fix the accounting systems that
have made a mess of Indian trust funds, a key figure in the case
Elouise Cobell, a Blackfeet Indian who sued the government in 1996,
said fundamental changes in how the federal government manages
billions of dollars in Indian accounts and assets have not been made
even though tribal plaintiffs have had victories in court.
"We're winning every step of the way," Cobell said.
Cobell was the keynote speaker for the three-day Montana Wyoming
Tribal Economic Development Summit in Billings this week.
Kennard Real Bird, who introduced Cobell on Wednesday morning, said
Cobell should be viewed with the same distinction as Sitting Bull,
Crazy Horse, Geronimo and others who have stood up to the
"Today, Elouise joins that elite band of people that have defended
their people," Real Bird said. "She's a lady who's going to go down
in history forever."
Cobell never expected to become a national figure. But when she
worked as treasurer for the Blackfeet Tribe, she said, she couldn't
ignore the problems and confusion in financial Indian trust
statements provided by the government.
Over the course of months and years, she asked questions, wrote
letters and knocked on doors. It wasn't hard to see that the system
was broken, she said. Generations of Indian people had known it for
years, she said, but now the paper work showed the system's faults.
"I didn't discover this," Cobell said. "We all knew."
The issue stems from federal policies that started in the late
1880s, when thousands of Indians were allotted ownership of land
with the federal government acting as trustee. In that role, the
government was supposed to keep track of revenue generated from
mining, oil and gas development on the land and disperse it.
As Cobell looked into the Indian trust fund, she had a hard time
convincing top government officials to take seriously her claims of
malfeasance and mismanagement. She recalled a meeting with federal
lawyers, one of whom opened the discussion by saying: "Don't come in
here with any false expectations," Cobell said. "I told him, 'You
should be ashamed of yourself. People are dying without justice.'"
After finding frustration with politicians and government officials,
Cobell decided to file a lawsuit. She and others raised $10 million
to get it going.
In 1996, Cobell filed a class-action lawsuit against the government
on behalf of an estimated half-million American Indians and their
heirs. The lawsuit alleged that the government needs to conduct a
full accounting of money owed to Indian account holders, which is
probably in the billions of dollars, and to reform the trust fund
The lawsuit, which involves the Bureau of Indian Affairs along with
the Interior and Treasury departments, may seem complicated, Cobell
said. But at its core, the case is about making the government
accountable and responsible for handling Indian trust money.
"It's like the United States government is running a bank that's
totally out of control," Cobell said, adding that one government
official testified that Indian money was used to pay down the
federal deficit. "This was happening as our people die with poor
healthcare ? not having the basics of life."
Despite court trials and several victories, the system still hasn't
been overhauled. So, with eight years and little resolution, members
of Congress agreed in February to take the case through a formal
Cobell said her experience is evidence that tribal groups can stand
up to the government and effect change. It takes persistence, she
said, and a willingness to fight for what's right.
"Make them be accountable to you," she said, and don't stop
pressing. "That money belong to us."
Lénape tribe keeps traditions alive
By PIERRICK VIZADE
Penn Contibuting Writer
March 22, 2004
Though they are not officially recognized as a tribe by
Pennsylvania, there are American Indians living a few miles from
Since the Revolutionary War and the late 18th century, several clans
of the Lénape tribe have been living in the area, mainly in
Nawrytown and Kittaning.
After what they call "first contact," when the first Europeans came
to America, they started to move west, from the East Coast, where
they were living a sedentary life, into Ohio and even Oaklahoma,
said one Lénape clan leader.
Several clans settled in the Indiana area because the Lénapes were
settlers not nomads. They raised cattle instead of hunting as some
tribes used to do, following the migrations of buffalo.
The Lénape Tribe of the Thunder Mountain is made of 13 families that
belong to three clans: the Clan of the Turtle, the Clan of the
Turkey and the Clan of the Wolf, which are all sacred animals of the
Mother of the Clan of the Turtle Pat Selmger and her friend Eugene
Strong, who is not L�nape but was raised by his American Indian
grandfather from the Tribe of the Potwatami in the area of Sault
Sainte Marie, Mich., said Lénape means "the people." Every American
Indian tribe named itself after the word that means "the people" in
its respective language.
But the Lénapes are often referred to as "the grandfather people"
because they are one of few American Indian tribes to have kept
records through stories of what they call "the walk" -- the time
when their forefathers came from the East through the Bering Strait
to the land that was not yet called America. What parts of these
stories are facts and what are tribal tradition, is hard for even
the American Indians to separate.
"It's a mixture of both," Selmger said.
The time when the Lénape were living in their wigwams is far past,
but the tribe keeps its cultural heritage and traditions alive.
Selmger, Strong and other members of the tribe work together on
initiatives and events to share their stories and culture with other
"We are all people," Strong said.
One of such initiatives is a festival of dances and storytelling
that takes place every August in the Nawrytown area.
A Web site is also being developed by members of the tribe with the
help of Krish Krishnan from the Marketing Department of the Eberly
College of Business.
The goal is to help promote the American Indian culture and the
Lénape tribe in particular.
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Adoptions: Navajo Brothers Need to Retain Cultural Ties
The children featured in this weekly column are in foster care and are
available for adoption. About 200 children in New Mexico are waiting to be placed
permanently with a family. They range in age from newborns to 17. Many were
placed in state custody because of abuse or neglect and may require medication or
therapy. For information, call the state Children, Youth and Families
Department at (800) 432-2075.
Joshua and Josiah, 13 and 11 respectively, love playing basketball and
Joshua likes everything; Josiah is partial to Chinese food.
The boys are of Native American heritage and are to be placed together.
They are freed for adoption and were recently disrupted from their relative
The Navajo Nation is open to placement with a non-Native American family,
but the children need to maintain their cultural ties as well as contact with
their other siblings who are in a relative adoptive placement.
Joshua is in the seventh grade and attends regular education classes. He
is a very good student, a diligent and hard worker. His favorite subject is
art and his least favorite is language arts.
He is extremely responsible and in fact cared for his five younger
siblings for a long time before they came into CYFD custody. He seems to have a
calmness and maturity beyond his years.
Joshua would best be described as shy, quiet and reserved. He is well
liked by his peers, but relates better to adults. It is difficult for Joshua to
let go and be a kid. He does well around pets.
Josiah is in the sixth grade and also attends regular education classes.
He could be a good student, but he doesn't turn in his homework sometimes.
He likes math, but like his brother, does not like language arts.
Josiah has a quirky sense of humor and is kind and considerate. He, too,
is quiet and reserved. He gets along well with his peers, although he relates
better to adults.
One of Josiah's strengths is that he is able to laugh at himself. There
are no concerns regarding pets with this child.
Joshua and Josiah could do well in a two-parent household, though they
might do just as well in an alternative family, such as a same-sex household or
They would get along particularly well with older kids in the home. They
have had very difficult childhoods, thus they are slow to trust and engage,
but with trust, they can be quick to laugh and let down their guard a bit.
State Decries Removal of Remains
Playa Vista officials refuse to comply with the heritage panel's request that
excavation be halted at site of an Indian cemetery.
By Sara Lin
Times Staff Writer
March 21, 2004
The state's Native American Heritage Commission is asking developers at Playa
Vista to stop excavating land near Centinela Creek, where workers uncovered a
200-year-old Indian cemetery containing the remains of at least 160 people.
Playa Vista officials have refused to stop work, saying an agreement with
tribal representatives allows the removal of the bodies and provides guidelines
on handling of the remains.
Workers discovered the burial ground of the Gabrieliño-Tongva tribe in
October while removing dirt to create a waterway — Playa Vista calls it a "stream,"
critics call it a "drainage ditch" — to catch water runoff from Playa Vista
and neighboring housing developments near Marina del Rey.
The state commission, responsible for identifying Native American cultural
resources, has sent Playa Vista officials six letters since December, asking
them to stop removing the remains, which workers continue to find almost every
In a Feb. 19 letter, Larry Myers, the board's executive secretary, wrote: "It
is vexing that these activities can continue in what can be interpreted as an
ethnocentric disregard of Native American cultural concerns."
Playa Vista officials say that they had expected to find Indian remains, and
that excavations were permitted under an agreement crafted by state and local
regulators 13 years ago and signed by Playa Vista and three representatives of
the Gabrieliño-Tongva. The pact included detailed procedures for handling
cultural artifacts or bodies found during construction. The agreement was
extended in 2001 for 10 years.
"We are doing a comprehensive and respectful job here in accordance with a
long-standing agreement with Native American stakeholders," said Steve Soboroff,
president of Playa Vista, the giant residential and commercial complex near
Marina del Rey. The agreement was "signed by Native American parties and they
included instructions for dealing with issues exactly like this. Nothing new
has come up," he said.
But the Native American Heritage Commission says the agreement needs
revision, given the significant number of remains uncovered.
"We didn't know they would find a cemetery," said Rob Wood, the board's
Southern California program manager. "Neither the agreement, nor the environmental
documents, anticipated such a big find. They should consult with the Native
American community and look at alternatives."
Playa Vista officials say the documents still apply, regardless of the number
of remains found.
The state board has no law enforcement powers. It can ask, but not compel,
Playa Vista to stop work. It is looking at possible legal action, Wood said. A
commission representative visited the site for the first time March 4.
"We'll keep writing letters, trying to get the developer to stop and look at
preservation," Wood said.
Among those opposing the excavation is Robert Dorame, a Bellflower resident
who has been designated by the Native American Heritage Commission as the "most
likely descendant" of the Indians buried at the site. That designation gives
Dorame authority to recommend how the remains should be handled. Though his
comments carry weight, they are just recommendations and may be ignored by the
Dorame has asked that the remains be left where they were found. On a visit
to the construction site, he clutched a stack of more than 100 letters from the
Indian community expressing concerns about the treatment of human remains at
One major concern is that moving the remains will damage them.
"There's human remains in buckets that they're going to shake through
sifters," said Jordan David, who works on the site as a Native American monitor.
"Even using a brush breaks the bone. There's no way to remove these burials
without causing destruction."
Archeologists overseeing the excavation say all of the work is done by hand.
Bones and burial objects, such as beads and baskets, are drawn and mapped so
they can be reinterred as they were found. Dorame himself approved these
detailed procedures for handling remains and identifying funerary objects.
"He requested maps; we created maps," said Donn Grenda, director of
Statistical Research Inc.'s California office, which was hired to remove the remains.
"The human remains, the funerary objects, the soil — all that goes back into
the ground. We're trying to comply and put people back with the right stuff;
that's the goal of doing this."
But Dorame says those procedures were not meant to apply to a large burial
"If there's two or three remains … yes, you may follow those
recommendations," he said. "But we're talking about a cemetery. Every Indian knows it's a
cemetery. The protocols can change."
Archeologists have known the site contained Native American remains since the
mid-1940s, when artifacts were unearthed for the Southwest Museum.
So far, the remains are confined to an area approximately 100 feet by 65
feet. To excavate and catalog all of the remains, Playa Vista has hired more than
45 archeologists from Statistical Research, a well-known firm that has done
work throughout the western United States.
California law requires that the remains be reinterred somewhere on the
property, and Dorame will recommend a new burial site.
Groups protesting the development say Playa Vista should look at alternative
plans, such as redesigning the waterway to avoid the cemetery.
Playa Vista also plans to build a cultural center near the stream that will
celebrate the history and traditions of Native Americans — in particular the
Gabrieliño-Tongva. Developers have been working alongside the Gabrieliño-Tongva
to develop those exhibits.
Environmentalists have long tried to block construction of the Playa Vista
project. In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up a legal dispute over
a federal permit for creating the waterway, letting stand a lower court
ruling favoring the development.
"The people who are making the ruckus here are long-standing opponents of
Playa Vista who have always done the same thing: to say and do anything to hurt
the project," Soboroff said.
Among the Gabrieliño-Tongva, divisions have emerged, with some supporting
Playa Vista and others denouncing it. Each side has gone out of its way to
criticize the other.
Dorame said he represents the viewpoints of most tribe members.
Not so, said Martin Alcala, a member of the Santa Monica branch of
Gabrieliño-Tongva, who has been monitoring the excavation. He believes the remains are
being treated with respect.
"In a perfect world, I would love for my ancestors to just stay there,"
Alcala said. "But it's not a perfect world; they have to move in this case."
Tonatierra celebrates sacredness of land
Honoring reverence through action
Posted: March 18, 2004 - 9:59am EST
by: Brenda Norrell / Southwest Staff Reporter / Indian Country Today
Maya Aguirre protested during the Tonatierra Human Rights Conference in Phoenix in September 2003, giving support to farmers protesting the World Trade Organization in Cancun. The victorious fight to save Zuni Salt Lake is memoralized in the background. Tonatierra launched a weeklong indigenous rights campaign in Phoenix on March 7. (Photo courtesy Brenda Norrell)
PHOENIX - Mayan, Lakota and Hopi women representing the strength and resolution of indigenous women everywhere, launched Tonatierra?s human rights campaign as they called for governments in the Americas to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples.
Ixtz?ulu? Elsa Son, activist from Guatemala, said the governments in the Americas have never respected any agreements entered into with Indian people, whether it is in Guatemala, Chiapas or elsewhere.
"The governments do not recognize indigenous people as people with rights," Son said. Pointing out that Mayans in Guatemala have formed strong bonds with Mayans in Belize and Honduras, Son said, "The movement continues."
Rosalie Little Thunder, Lakota, and Cindy Naha, Hopi, joined Son on March 7, as Tonatierra ignited a weeklong series of prayers, panel discussions, films, a spirit run and sacred lands concert to honor the rights of indigenous peoples.
Little Thunder said, "We cannot just dwell on our own problems, we have to help outside of ourselves if we are to ever realize help for ourselves."
Naha, among the organizers of the Black Mesa Water Coalition, said Hopi and Navajo youths formed the coalition to protect the land and water, and bring to a halt the pumping of pristine aquifer water on Black Mesa to transport coal for energy production.
Tupac Enrique Acosta said it is better to go through the door to the spirit world with the power of truth than to live on this side in a world of lies.
After screening a Mayan-made video of the history of Zapatista resistance in Chiapas, Enrique pointed out that there is a collective assassination going on in the Americas; an assassination of indigenous peoples based on corruption, greed, fear, lies and ignorance.
"We must act in the spirit of truth - without exception!" Enrique, coordinator of Tonatierra, told the gathering at the Nahuacalli, Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples.
Enrique said Zapatista community leaders are being assassinated by paramilitaries supported by landowners and municipal authorities in Chiapas; on a broader scale, there is the psychological assassination of indigenous people.
"We had better be fighting for the truth," he said, adding that those with traditional minds can easily detect manipulations.
At the Nahuacalli, there is a prayer altar in the center of the room and the posters, news clippings, photographs and banners on the walls tell the story of lives and movements, heroes and passages. From the portrait of Cesar Chavez to the banner of the Peace and Dignity runners through the Americas, the Nahuacalli is living history. News articles of border rights and campaigns to help day laborers are posted; in the corner are coffee and cake.
As Native people arrived from distant states and countries, Enrique took out a cloth and exposed what he found 10 years ago in Chiapas - pieces of bomb and rifle bullets, paid for with U.S. taxpayer dollars under the guise of the war on drugs. These were the fragments of bombs and high-powered rifle bullets used to kill Mayans in Chiapas.
At the Nahuacalli, the night began with the screening of "In the Light of Reverence," produced by Christopher McLeod and narrated by Peter Coyote and Tantoo Cardinal. The film documents the struggle for protection of sacred sites of the Lakota in South Dakota, Hopi in Arizona and Wintu in northern California.
Author and professor Vine Deloria Jr. pointed out that people can go out on the land to strip mine, but they can not go out on the land to pray. Places have power, and one of those powerful places is Devil?s Tower in Wyoming, near the South Dakota border.
Johnson Holy Rock, Lakota, is among the spiritual leaders that tell of the sacredness of the Black Hills. By treaty, the Black Hills and Devil?s Tower belong to the Sioux. Yet, the gold rush was followed by the longest legal battle in U.S. history as Sioux struggled for their treaty rights to the Black Hills.
Elaine Quiver, Lakota, said everything comes back to life in the month of June, and this is the place for this "re-creation."
It is however, "recreation," specifically rock climbing, that led climbers and the Mountain States Legal Foundation to challenge the National Park Service?s request for climbers to voluntary abstain from climbing during ceremonies in June. Now, rock climbers have the legal right to climb Devil?s Tower, even when the sweatlodge ceremony is under way.
Meanwhile, it is a federal crime to climb the faces of Mount Rushmore.
Thomas Banyacya, who passed to the Spirit World after the film was produced, describes the Hopi emergence in the Grand Canyon. Some Hopi shrines and places of pilgrimage are now on private land, including Woodruff Butte. On Black Mesa, the sacred places on Hopi land are strip-mined for coal. On San Francisco Peaks, where the Kachina spirits live and bring the rain, a pumice mining company, White Vulcan Mine, destroyed the mountain?s face until the government paid the company $1 million to cease operations.
On Woodruff Butte, bulldozers scraping rock for federal highway gravel bulldozed a Hopi shrine as Hopi watched, unable to take any action to stop private landowner Dale McKinnon. McKinnon said he sees nothing sacred about the butte and calls it a "barren piece of rock in a barren piece of land."
Remembering the destroyed shrine and the highest peak of the butte now demolished, Hopi elder Dalton Taylor asks, "What can I do to replace it?"
In the fragile ecosystem of northern California, a fragile language and culture is held in the balance. Florence Jones fought a proposed ski resort and New Agers on Mt. Shasta as she carried on the prayers and ceremonies of the Wintu people. She is one of the few Wintu who survived the government?s attempts to exterminate them. The government paid bounty hunters $5 a piece to kill Indians. The Wintu that did survive were never given reservation land.
Wintu elder Leona Barnes speaks of the importance of maintaining the spiritual ways on the pristine Mt. Shasta. "I don?t want to see it die out."
"In the Light of Reverence," offered a foundation for Tonatierra?s human rights campaign, in preparation for the celebration of Nican Tlacah Ilhuitl, Dawn of Indigenous Peoples Day, on March 11.
Greeting those arriving, Son urged great respect for Mother Earth and the entire cosmos surrounding humanity, the land, water, plants and animals.
"We as indigenous people are the hope of Mother Earth. "We can?t rely on anyone else to do it for us."
Brazil's Indians Trying to Keep Culture Alive
Fourteen tribes in the Xingu reserve live much as their ancestors
did -- except for faucets, steel pots, satellite dishes and such.
Isolation is history.
By Michael Astor
Associated Press Writer
March 14, 2004
XINGU NATIONAL PARK, Brazil ? Naked children are leaping from mango
trees and tumbling into the mild water of the Xingu River without a
But up by the grass-roofed long houses, the village elders fret that
their way of life may soon end.
"We're worried for our children and grandchildren," said Rea, a
Kayabi Indian woman. "Our Xingu is an island, and if the white man
enters with his machines, he'll break it all down in no time."
Xingu is Brazil's oldest and probably most successful Indian
reservation ? 10,800 square miles of pristine rainforest where 14
tribes live much as their people have for thousands of years.
The reserve was established in 1961, just a few years after many
tribes in the area had their first contact with white civilization.
It sat in the middle of a vast undeveloped stretch in the state of
Mato Grosso ? or "thick forest" in English. Today, it is surrounded
by fields and pasture in the center of Brazil's fastest-developing
The Indians, whose numbers have nearly doubled to about 5,000 since
1961, say they are feeling the pressure.
"In 20 years, there won't be enough land for all of us. If you look
at the park, it's just a triangle with a little rectangle on top,"
said Awata, the schoolteacher at Capivara, one of several Kayabi
villages that line the river.
In the villages, life goes on much as it always has, but there are
signs of the encroachment of civilization all around.
Shiny metal faucets are now a fixture in most villages, thanks to a
well-digging project that aims to protect the Indians from polluted
headwaters outside the park. Once-crystalline rivers are muddied
from erosion from farming and logging upriver.
"We can no longer fish with bows and arrows, so we need to buy fish
hooks from the white man," said Mairawe Kayabi, president of the
Xingu Indian Land Assn., who like many Indians uses his tribe's name
as a last name.
The sound of Indians stomping and chanting is still heard in the
villages, but now it is as likely to emerge from a cheap tape
recorder as from a live ceremony.
In Ngojhwere village, the cooking grill is a bicycle wheel with its
spokes hammered down. Three metal car wheels turned on their sides
raise the grill over the wood fire on the dirt floor.
Breakfast is piraucu, a freshly caught river fish. The Indians stew
it in water and, when it's ready, wrap it in pieces of a big gummy
manioc pancake called beiju, with hot pepper and store-bought salt
Women now use steel pots instead of clay to fetch water and cook.
Satellite dishes sit outside many long houses, feeding a handful of
Brazilian channels to generator-powered televisions.
"All the stuff on the television puts stuff in the young people's
heads," Mairawe said. "They are attracted to whatever comes from
outside. This is a cause for a lot of disagreement among the
For ceremonies, the Indians still strip naked and paint their bodies
with red powder from ground urucum seeds and the black ink of the
jenipapo fruit. But most days, they wear Western clothing ? the
women preferring long, cotton dresses, the men shorts and T-shirts.
Kuiussi, the Suya Indians' chief, warns visitors not to take
pictures of Indians wearing Western clothes.
"If people see the pictures, they'll say we're not Indians ? that
we're mixed [race], and that's not true," he said. "We are all
While Kuiussi worries about outside influences, his son, Wetanti,
25, sees no problem keeping a foot in both worlds. He displays a
small album that begins with photos of him naked, painted and
feathered, and ends with him looking disco-ready in white slacks, a
black T-shirt and wraparound sunglasses.
The Suya had their first contact with white men in 1959. Today, the
village sits on the edge of the Xingu reservation ? face to face
with white civilization.
"Right now, we have to fight to maintain our traditions. The world
won't be the same for our children and grandchildren, so we have to
hold on to what we have as long as we can," Kuiussi said. "Maybe in
the future, they'll want to farm or do something with the land to
make money, but not in my lifetime."
The park owes its existence to the Villas Boas brothers. During a
1940s' government expedition to Brazil's hinterlands, the pioneering
Indian defenders saw the devastating effect contact with white
civilization was having on Indians and their culture.
The brothers lobbied the government to set aside land for the
reservation, then persuaded 14 tribes to move into it. At the time,
wildcat miners, loggers and farmers were just starting to make their
way into the region.
"We taught them [the Indians] if they wanted to survive, if they
wanted their children to survive, not to let anyone in. We told them
if anyone came to fight them," Orlando Villas Boas, who died last
year, said in 1998.
Today, the Indians perform joint patrols with the Federal Indian
Bureau and Brazil's environmental protection agency. But when there
are no officials around, the Indians aren't afraid to put on war
paint and pick up bows, arrows and even hunting rifles to expel
There can be problems among the Indians themselves. Many tribes came
from hundreds of miles away, from places where the terrain was
different, and they have had trouble adapting to life in the Xingu.
Kayabi elders complain that the materials needed to make traditional
objects are not available in the park. "The old people didn't like
it when they got here," said Jywapan Kayabi, a chief at
Capivara. "They couldn't find the kind of wood they needed to make
their bows and arrows, or the kind of grass they used to weave their
Communication is another problem. Because each tribe has a distinct
language, they communicate with each other only in Portuguese, a
language that few Indians speak even today.
The Indians in the north still don't have much contact with tribes
in the south, even though they share a more compatible culture and
visit each others' villages occasionally for festivals.
"If we see their dances, we might understand some of what they're
singing, but we can't join in the singing," said Ionaluka, the child
of a rare mixed-marriage between Suya and Kayabi parents.
Native program incorporates cultural beliefs with modern diet
Jennifer Tedlock 3/4/2004
It's all about balance, according to Kibbe Conti, a Registered
Dietician at Pine Ridge, SD. Balance is the key ingredient in Conti's
Four Winds Model for Native Nutrition.
Conti, a member of the Oglala Sioux, told the Native American Times
that the Four Winds model was developed by looking at the Medicine
Wheel. The Medicine Wheel is very important to Northern Plains Indian
culture. It represents the four directions, the four seasons, the
four sacred colors of mankind (red, white, black, and yellow), the
four elements (earth, fire, wind, and water), and the four ages of
the life cycle.
The Four Winds model uses the Medicine Wheel as a guide and
associates the West with water because the rain comes out of the
west. "Traditionally all of our drink was just pure, clear water or
tea," Conti said. Sweet drinks or alcoholic beverages are not
The North is associated with the buffalo because they face that
direction when the cold winds come. "We had buffalo and other game in
abundance," Conti said. They are a good source of protein, which is
essential, she explained. Today we also have chicken, tuna fish, and
The East is associated with Springtime, when the plants return, Conti
told the Native American Times. The gathered plants nourished both as
food and as medicine.
The South is associated with Summertime, the time of the cultivated
crops. Corn, beans, squash, and potatoes were traded by agrarian
tribes to nomadic tribes. These very starchy foods are also important
in the overall balance.
"That's the key," Conti said of the blending of contemporary and
Conti's use of a sacred symbol as a nutritional model is creating a
trend. Different tribes from different regions are looking to tell
their own stories with their own distinct food models. Every region
has unique food attributes, Conti told the Native American Times.
That is why they need to form their own nutritional models.
"I hope we see the trend grow," Conti said.
Conti is helping some of those tribes do just that. Tribes in North
Dakota and California have called upon Conti to help them tell their
stories, to tell about hundreds of years of change in diet and
It is essential to match-up your diet with your lifestyle. America
has become very sedentary, Conti said, but our diets have remained
unchanged from a time when most people had physically demanding jobs.
It comes down to restoring and maintaining balance, Conti explained.
She believes that the Four Winds is a good maintenance model.
Kibbe Conti works at Northern Plains Nutrition Consulting and will be
a featured speaker at the upcoming "Return to Your Roots" conference
May 18-19. For more information about the Four Winds model you can e-
Telling tribal tales
Members of the Tongva Indian tribe share stories from their ancestry
with Newport Coast Elementary students.
March 6, 2004
Newport Coast Elementary School students danced with coyotes on
Members of the Tongva Indian tribe, also known as the Gabrielinos,
visited the third- and fourth-grade classes to share their culture,
music and dance with the students. A special coyote dance proved the
"The coyote represents the trickster," explained Andrew Guiding
Young Cloud Morales. "He plays tricks on people. He is our clown."
Dressed in tribal regalia, Morales put a full coyote skin over his
back and danced around the room as fellow tribe members Cynthia
Guthrie and Matthew Sky Eagle Sings from His Heart Lovio sang. As
the coyote hopped and spun around the room, the students giggled
with delight, especially when he teased them by lifting his leg a
"I liked the coyote dance," 9-year-old Will Lyle said after the
program. "That was cool."
Students saw ? up close and personal ? rabbit skins, shells and
musical instruments the tribe members brought. Hunter Molnar, 10,
even got to give their drum a couple taps.
The Tongva visit came at a perfect time for third-grade teacher
Stacy Rickman's class.
"We are just finishing up studying [the tribe] so this tied in
perfectly," she said. "When they were dancing, the kids turned to me
and said: 'This is so cool.'"
Tongva land used to spread from the San Bernardino Mountains to the
sea and from Malibu south through Newport Beach, Morales told the
students. Because they lived near the coast, their jewelry includes
necklaces made from seashells.
"Our ancestors were very lucky," Lovio told them. "We had beautiful
land in the valley, the mountains and near the ocean."
Lovio, Morales and Guthrie wore deerskins, rabbit fur and turkey-
"This is not a costume," Lovio said. "This is what our ancestors
wore long ago. This was their three-piece suit."
Members of their tribe have passed along their knowledge and stories
to younger generations, Morales said. They visit area schools to
teach students about their culture and ancestors.
"I thought some Indians living today would be more modern," 9-year-
old Crystal Ton-Nu said. "But its good that they've kept their
In 1860 six murderers nearly wiped out the Wiyot Indian tribe -- in
2004 its members have found ways to heal
William S. Kowinski,
Special to The Chronicle
Saturday, February 28, 2004
©2004 San Francisco Chronicle | Feedback | FAQ
Just before dusk, several hundred people are expected to gather, as
they have on the last Saturday of February for 13 years, at the edge
of Humboldt Bay in Eureka, across from a small, tear-shaped island
half a mile away.
Standing under a deepening blue sky flared with reds at the horizon
(as they did last year) or under umbrellas in a North Coast late
winter rain (as they did the year before), they will hold candles
and share songs and prayers.
The forested land they can see across the bay, still called Indian
Island, was the scene of one of the most notorious massacres in
California history. At least 60 and perhaps more than 200 women,
children and elders of the Wiyot tribe were slaughtered with axes
and knives by six white men, known to be landowners and businessmen.
This was one of three simultaneous attacks at different locations
that sent the small tribe spiraling toward extinction 144 years ago.
For a long time, it seemed they were extinct.
But the Wiyot tribe, denied federal recognition in 1953, regained it
in 1990, and moved to a new reservation at Table Bluff, south of
Eureka's city center, where 450 tribal members now live.
"We are still here," said Cheryl Seidner, the Wiyot tribal
chairwoman since 1996 and a direct descendant of an infant survivor
of the Indian Island massacre. "We are still a people. We still cast
a shadow, we are not gone."
By a quirk of the California coastline, Eureka is the westernmost
city in the 48 contiguous United States. Through the fate of
history, it was one of the last places in America where Indians and
European Americans confronted each other. In a sense, it
recapitulated and condensed several hundred years of American
history in a few decades.
In 1860, California had been a state for only a decade, and the city
of Eureka, growing from its docks to push against the redwood
forests around it, had been the seat of the newly formed Humboldt
County for just four years. The Humboldt Bay communities of Eureka
and Arcata began by supplying the gold miners prowling the
northeastern mountains, but by 1860 had opened nine timber mills and
were busily engaged in agriculture and shipbuilding. In 1853 alone,
143 ships left the bay loaded with timber, bound for San Francisco
and other ports.
But far northern California had many small tribal groups of Indians
living in its forests and mountains and along its rivers and coast,
some for 10,000 years.
The village of Tuluwat on Indian Island was the physical and
spiritual center of the Wiyot world, which was made up of 20
villages spread over 40 square miles, with a population of perhaps
3,000. There is evidence of Wiyot presence on the island for at
least 1,000 years. But for many white settlers, Indians were a not-
quite-human barrier to progress. Local newspapers supported a policy
On the last Saturday in February 1860, the Wiyot completed their
weeklong world renewal ceremony at Tuluwat, to bring the world back
into balance and mark the equivalent of their new year. The small
boat arrived late that night, while the Wiyot men were away
The massacre on Indian Island was not the first in the region, nor
would it be the last. It was part of an accelerated pattern of
destruction, beginning with random killings and rapes by miners and
ranchers, and including kidnapping and legal slavery of mostly women
and children under California's 1850 Indian indenture law. Later,
Indians were forced into forts and small reservations under
concentration camp conditions, and finally, those still living on
their lands were subject to organized warfare by local militia while
federal troops fought the Civil War. Together with the ravages of
disease, an estimated 15 local tribes were reduced to five.
But Indian Island became the most infamous massacre in Northern
California probably because of Bret Harte, who before achieving
literary fame reported for a newspaper in Arcata. His account of the
massacre and his editorial condemning its cruelty made him a local
outcast, but anonymous letters to a San Francisco newspaper rumored
to be his work were largely responsible for the national knowledge
of this event. Editorial writers in San Francisco and in New York
began referring to Eureka as Murderville.
Though the names of those responsible for the Indian Island massacre
were apparently widely known, no legal action was ever taken against
them. As Eureka became a prosperous commercial center, and Humboldt
Bay became the busiest port between Seattle and San Francisco, this
part of the past seemed better left forgotten.
But unlike in much of California, the Indian populations indigenous
to the Humboldt County area remained significant. Besides those on
Yurok, Hupa, Karuk and Wiyot lands and several rancherias of mixed
tribal groups, many enrolled members of indigenous tribes live and
work in Humboldt's cities and towns. Though less than 6 percent of
Humboldt's population, Indians are its largest minority group. A
bare majority of the county's population lives in communities
surrounding Humboldt Bay, on land that once belonged to the Wiyot.
"The past is not dead," as William Faulkner wrote. "It's not even
A story that needed telling
Seidner and her sister, Leona Wilkinson, began the vigils in 1992,
together with two non-Indians, Peggy Betsels, former pastor of
Eureka's United Church of Christ, and Marylee Rohde, former
president of the Humboldt County Historical Society.
"I've known about the story of the massacre since I was a little
girl," Rohde said, "so I hadn't realized how deeply it was buried in
Eureka's psyche. Peggy didn't hear of it until her daughter was in
school, from the Native American parent of another student. But in
talking with Cheryl and Leona, we realized that the story needs to
be told. There needs to be healing, but the wound tends to fester if
it's been suppressed."
"It's a healing of two communities," Seidner said. "It's not just us
or them. We need to come together as a community of learning, to
understand each other. That rip in our society needs to be mended,
and hopefully we've been trying to do that for the last 13 years."
Community awareness of the Wiyot story increased dramatically in the
late 1990s when Seidner began to raise money for the purchase of the
1.5 acres of Indian Island where the world renewal ceremonies had
traditionally taken place. At the vigil in 2000, Seidner announced
that as a result of many small contributions from the local
community, together with donations from Indian organizations and
individuals nationally, the tribe had reacquired this land. The
Wiyot would return to Tuluwat.
More money is needed to clear the site of debris left behind by an
abandoned shipyard, to erect the new ceremonial building and perhaps
acquire more of Indian Island. The Wiyot Sacred Sites Fund continues
to raise money, partly through events such as the third annual
benefit concert earlier this month. One source of continuing support
has come from local churches that recognize a special
An anonymous letter about the massacre thought to be from Bret Harte
was sent in 1860 to the San Francisco Bulletin asserting: "The
pulpit is silent, and the preachers say not a word."
"They did nothing, they said nothing," said Clay Ford, current
pastor of the Arcata First Baptist Church. "We realized that we
needed to take responsibility before God and before the Wiyots for
what Christian people did not do, even if we weren't there." After
making a formal proclamation of repentance, Ford handed Seidner the
first of annual checks on behalf of the Humboldt Evangelical
Another group, the Humboldt Interfaith Council, is dedicating its
community fund-raising efforts this year to the Wiyot Sacred Sites
Fund, including the proceeds from its Interreligious Peace Festival,
being held on the Humboldt State University campus today. It will
emphasize the sacred arts -- "especially dance and music," said Ross
Connors-Keith, the group's director, "in keeping with the Wiyots'
world renewal ceremony, which involved dance and singing. We thought
this would be a wonderful way of bringing the community together."
But Rohde believes there's still progress to be made. "It's been a
disappointment to me that I haven't seen more of the white
population of Eureka interested in the vigil," she says. "But we
have seen participation increase over the years from the Wiyots and
other Native Americans. When I look back at the civil rights
movement, I think maybe the healing has to happen with the victims
first, before the perpetrators can acknowledge their own wounds."
Relearning a heritage
"The Wiyot are a people who are beginning to learn about themselves
again, " Seidner says. "Culture gives us our identity. We are not
just a name. We have to learn to live our culture, and try to
incorporate it in our daily life. "
"Cheryl stepped in at a transition point," said Julian Lang, a
language scholar and cultural activist whose ancestry includes Karuk
and Wiyot. "Before Cheryl, the effort was to regain the Wiyot
identity at the political level, to gain recognition and stabilize.
Cheryl was able to begin charting a path of development at the
cultural level, to begin the cultural rejuvenation. She's looking
forward, representing the idea that there is a traditional
ceremonial life ahead for the Wiyot."
About 15 years ago, Seidner, who works full time at Humboldt State
University, persuaded her older sister, Leona Wilkinson, who
recently retired from her job at the college, to take up traditional
basket weaving. The beautifully designed and watertight woven
baskets, caps and other items had both practical and sacred purposes
essential to Wiyot life. Leona had learned it as a girl from their
grandmother. Now she teaches her niece and grandniece, beginning
with the proper gathering of materials.
Basketry was easy compared with reviving the Wiyot language. There
are no fluent Wiyot speakers left -- only some tapes made in the
1950s. Marnie Atkins, Wiyot cultural director, is hoping to attend
the Breath of Life conference at UC Berkeley for the second time in
June, where she will be paired with a linguist to investigate the
Meanwhile, she will be working with these tapes to create usable
lessons that can be disseminated on CDs and over the Internet. Her
goal is to get the language "into our ears, and into our children's
Lang has also studied these tapes, and combined what he learned with
some singing derived from the Karuk culture for some classes he held
for interested Wiyot a few years ago. "There was instant acceptance
of that, and an incredible aptitude," he says. "People learned very
fast. Within a month it was like all the cultural knowledge had
always been there. It was close to the surface of everybody's soul."
Because the Wiyot have not performed it since the massacre on Indian
Island, Seidner acknowledges that they will look to other local
tribes for help in reconstructing their world renewal ceremony.
Several have similar ceremonies, and they have traditionally
participated in each other's dances.
The rest, she says, "will come from our dreams. It's in our DNA."
With what Wiyot words she learned, she created her "coming home"
song, which she sang at the end of a PBS airing of a documentary on
American Indian sacred sites produced by San Francisco's Sacred Land
Sharing among tribes has already begun at the vigils. At last year's
event, as participants gathered around the bonfire in the cold clear
night, Lang looked up and remarked, "In Wiyot, the word for 'stars'
means 'God's eyes. ' " Then he sang a song from the Karuk's world
renewal ceremony, the Jump Dance. Joseph Orozco, a member of the
Hupa tribe who is the station manager of KIDE-FM, the first tribally
owned and operated public radio station in California, sang a
mourning song based on the White Deer Dance.
All of this is also preparation for the future, when the vigil will
be over and there is a ceremony at the end of February again.
"Cheryl recognizes that land is at the heart of the ceremony," Lang
says. "Ceremony needs a place, and there's no more significant place
than Tuluwat on Indian Island."
Seidner talks with enthusiasm about members of other tribes "who
say, 'We can't wait to be back on the island with you. ... It's
getting to the point that they can feel it coming. It's been a real
blessing. We realize we are not standing by ourselves.''
The 13th Annual Indian Island Candlelight Vigil will be held from 6
to 8 p. m. today at the west end of Woodley Island in Eureka. For
more information on the vigil, the Wiyot and their Sacred Sites
Fund, call (800) 388-7633 or (707) 733-5055 or go to www.wiyot.com.
The Humboldt Interrreligious Peace Festival will be from 9 a.m. to
4:30 p.m. today at Humboldt State University's Kate Buchanan and
Nelson Hall East rooms. For information call (707) 444-8764.
©2004 San Francisco Chronicle
Basket weaving offers connection to ancestry
Thursday, February 26, 2004
By Gary W. Morrison
The Grand Rapids Press
MONTEREY TWP. -- Margaret Pearce drove almost two hours from her home
to reconnect with her heritage.
Pearce, a Marshall resident, said she can trace her American Indian
ancestry to the Pottawatomi tribe that was removed from the St. Joseph
area to Kansas in the 1800s.
Her ancestors were again relocated to Oklahoma and became known as the
Citizen Band of Pottawatomi.
She said she always has been interested in her Indian heritage, so she
traveled to Monterey Township to learn the basics of basket weaving
from John Pigeon.
"Basket weaving is a part of my Indian heritage, but it's something I
don't know how to do," Pearce said. "I met John (Pigeon) at an Indian
powwow last year, when he gave a basket-weaving demonstration. When he
told me that he teaches basket-weaving classes, I made up my mind to
Pigeon, a Dorr resident, teaches Indian arts and crafts at educational
institutions, museums and Indian centers. For the past two years, he
has conducted a series of classes in January, February and March,
primarily for people with Indian ancestry.
"This is something you don't keep to yourself," said Pigeon, a Pokagon
Pottawatomi. "You pass it on so the skill does not die."
At the basket-weaving classes at the Monterey Township Hall, Pigeon
starts from scratch. He begins with a black ash tree log and teaches
students how to pound the log and remove the strips used for baskets.
He also explains how to select a log. It needs to be free of knots,
straight and healthy. If the tree is in a stand of less then 10 black
ash trees, he would not harvest it.
"Before we cut a tree, we have a ceremony acknowledging its life,"
Pigeon said. "It has been waiting for us for 20 years, but we want to
acknowledge that it will have a usefulness for years to come."
Jim and Jennie Brown have been making baskets for more than 20 years
but attended Pigeon's latest class to keep their skills intact.
"I don't think we'll ever know everything because there is so much to
doing this," Jim Brown said.
During the winter, Pigeon conducts the classes with Kelly Church, a
local Pottawatomi. Besides basket weaving, they also teach how to make
drums and dream catchers.
"We also teach some of the Pottawatomi language and how to prepare
sweet grass that is used as Indian medicine," Church said.
The classes will run through March at the Monterey Township Hall.
People interested in the classes can contact Pigeon at (616)
"I'm also taking it a step further by showing what else you can do
with a log after you have removed the strips you need for baskets,"
Pigeon said. "There's still enough wood left for Indian bows, spears
and other things."
'Sound business principles' guided Indian affairs
Chretien: Ex-prime minister testifies in Alberta band's suit for up
to $1.5 billion in alleged lost revenue
The Calgary Herald
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
CALGARY -- Former prime minister Jean Chretien testified Monday that
when he was minister of Indian affairs and northern development from
1968 to 1974, Ottawa always strived to get the best return on bands'
"My department, as trustee, was to obtain as high an interest rate
as possible with sound business principles," Chretien told Jim
O'Reilly, lawyer for Samson Cree Nation near Hobbema, Alta. "We had
to act using the best judgment of a responsible person."
The Samson band is suing the federal government for up to $1.5
billion in alleged lost revenues citing breech of treaty and
mismanagement of the band's oil and gas royalties.
Chretien is the first former prime minister to ever testify at such
a hearing and was called by the Samson Nation because of his
involvement in several capacities over the last 41 years.
Marilyn Buffalo, policy adviser for the Samson band, refused to
point the finger directly at Chretien who retired last December
after 10 years as prime minister.
"I can't answer that," Buffalo said when asked if Chretien was
responsible. "The entire government of Canada is responsible. In my
40 years of involvement we've had many ministers [of Indian affairs
and northern development].''
Chretien is the fourth minister to testify in the four-year trial
after Warren Allmand, David Crombie and John Munro. Chretien was
honoured in 1980 by the Samson band as an honorable Chief White Owl.
O'Reilly said outside court that Ottawa set aside money from the
band's oil and gas royalties and paid the band a rate of return that
it fixed unilaterally. That rate remained the same for 35 years.
"They've been Rip Van Winkle. It's still the same as in 1969," said
Chretien said his department proposed in the late 1960s to hand over
more control of self-government to the First Nations by overhauling
the controversial Indian Act, but native leaders resisted. As a
result, he testified, there are still unresolved issues.
"I wanted them to get control over their lands, without the Indian
Affairs. It was rejected," said Chretien.
Government of Canada lawyer Alan Macleod, said outside court Indian
Affairs tells the government how to deal with such funds. The money
is deposited and the bands recover the rate of return determined by
the governor and council.
"That's what the government did," said Macleod.
"Obviously it's our position. There was no breech of treaty or
breech of fiduciary duty under the act. We'll continue to make the
point that policy was to encourage self-government and local control
over affairs and funds and the rate of return was reasonable."
Chretien is expected back on the witness stand again today.
© The Vancouver Sun 2004
Indian law practitioners stress importance of land into trust
Posted: February 23, 2004 - 5:06pm EST
by: Jack McNeel / Correspondent / Indian Country Today
MOSCOW, Idaho - The University of Idaho College of Law hosted a two-
day conference concerning Indian law on Feb. 5 - 6. Attendees
included Indian and Anglo attorneys from throughout Idaho,
Washington and Oregon, plus a few attorneys from elsewhere, all of
whom practice Indian law. Some work for tribes while others work for
a variety of other entities. Several law students at the University
and interested tribal members from the region were also in
The first day was devoted entirely to discussions about fee-to-trust
issues, problems that exist and possible solutions. There is an
increasingly serious movement in Indian country to return lands
within reservation boundaries to Indian control and management. Nash
commented that the process and results vary greatly in different
parts of the country or on different reservations. It works in some
areas and doesn't in others. He also noted that the previous
administration offered help and hope but the current administration
is no longer considering the subject of fee-to-trust lands which
basically creates a moratorium on such transactions. Wording in
Section 465 of the Indian Reorganization Act allows this when it
authorized the Secretary of the Interior to take fee land into
trust "in his discretion."
Doug Nash pointed out that the importance of having land taken into
trust is two-fold. One is a matter of historical justice and the
second is that in trust the federal ownership would negate many
state and local laws such as property tax, zoning laws and others.
There have been some successes. Kevin Bearquiver, a realty
specialist with the BIA in California, said that since December 2000
there have been 67 fee-to-trust applications approved that consist
of 7,440.77 acres in California. That compares to less than 1,000
acres acquired in the 15 years prior to that. In commenting on the
reason for getting lands into trust Bearquiver commented: "It's
sovereignty. It's the restoration of the reservation." Sharon
Redthunder, a Nez Perce with the Realty Department of the Colville
Confederated Tribe, reported they had acquired 13,000 acres into
trust this past year.
On the other hand, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin which funds a land
management staff totaling 28, has had hundreds of applications
returned unprocessed, 226 applications last year alone, with only
the explanation that "it's not a priority for the Bureau."
A discussion revolved around how to reduce local objections to land
being removed from the tax base and placed into trust since counties
normally set tax rates and have become dependent on those monies.
Redthunder said the Colville Confederated Tribe has become a major
employer in the region and pointed out how the tribe impacts
communities both through jobs and purchases off reservation.
In the Skajit Valley of Washington local residents are given
priority for casino jobs. Counties may lose tax monies but gain in a
variety of ways including fire and police departments. Many people
are not sufficiently educated to understand these values and more
effort towards education is needed. As Doug Nash commented,
a large scenario many people miss in regard to fees-to-trust when
you look at the other benefits."
It was decided a more pro-active stance needed to be developed to
get land into trust. What does Indian country want? Theresa Carmody
summed it up by saying: "It's very, very important to us now to
a clear strategy. It's not going to come from the other side. The
outcome of the election might guide what we do in the future more
than anything else. We need to make the Indian voice heard in the
election process. We need to make whatever influence we have work
The morning of Feb. 6 was devoted to discussions about whether
Indian law should be included in state bar exams for the Northwest
states similar to what now exists in New Mexico. Attorneys were
present representing the Idaho, Washington and Oregon States Bar
Indian Law Sections, plus the Northwest Indian Bar Association. The
Idaho Section is only two years old and this meeting marked the
first time that representatives from all four groups had met
Don Burnett, Dean of the University of Idaho College of Law, began
the discussion by observing, "I can't imagine a better time to be
involved with Indian law subjects." There was no disagreement that
attorneys need to be versed in Indian law. Indian businesses are now
some of the largest businesses in a number of counties in this
region and attorneys are becoming increasingly involved with Indian
law. The question became one of how best to educate students in law
schools. Burnett pointed out that a student's time is finite and
that adding a class in Indian law means removing something else to
make time for it. Some argued that Indian law should be incorporated
into classes already being taught rather than making it a separate
class. In limited cases professors likely will object but most would
have no objection.
Oregon has three law schools and all teach Indian law as does
Idaho's one School of Law. Some, if not all, of Washington's
also teach Indian law so it may not require so much an addition as
it will a change in emphasis. This should likely precede the
addition of an Indian law question in the State Bar Exam. Gabriel
Galanda, who chairs the Washington State Bar Association Indian Law
Section, pointed out the need to collectively reach some conclusions
at this meeting so that progress can begin immediately to improve
knowledge of Indian law in the legal community. Julie Repp, Nez
Perce with Columbia Legal Services in Spokane, pointed out there are
29 federally recognized tribes in Washington and said, "I can't
emphasize how much ignorance there is out there about Indian law."
Galanda pointed out that only 3,000 attorneys nationally are
American Indians, yet 35,000 new attorneys passed the bar last year
alone. He felt that Indian law on the exam would encourage Indians
to go into law as it would be more relevant to them. Indian
attorneys get many calls from other attorneys who need help with
Indian law and there simply are not enough who know these laws to
give Indian people proper representation and counsel. Galanda feels
that the growing importance of Indian law in all aspects of the
legal field makes knowledge of such law imperative to
professionalism and accountability, perhaps even to avoid
malpractice, as Indian law effects every aspect of law already
tested on the bar exam. It's an issue that crosses both state
and federal lines.
Following much discussion, a resolution was passed by three of the
four sections in attendance. Oregon State Bar Indian section did not
have enough members present for a quorum and will consider the
resolution at a later date. The resolution urged the state bar
associations to include the topic of Indian law on their respective
bar licensing examinations, so legal counsel through the Pacific
Northwest and their clientele will better understand the sovereign
legal rights of Indian tribes. Assistance was also requested of the
Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors and Board of Bar
Examiners and the Board of Commissioners of the Idaho State Bar to
carry out the provisions of the resolution.
New Mexico led the way in adding the subject of Indian law to its
bar exam. Idaho and Washington have now taken the first step towards
a similar law and Oregon may soon follow. When and precisely how it
might be augmented remains to be determined but this action is a
positive step toward amending an obvious need.
Co-chairs for the conference included Douglas Nash, Associate
Professor at the University of Idaho College of Law in Moscow,
Theresa Carmody, Secretary-Treasurer for the Indian Land Working
Group in Portland, and Gabe Galanda, an Associate with Williams,
Kastner & Gibbs, PLLC in Seattle.
Hope found in Lakota healing
Alan Van Ormer
For the Argus Leader
Book details spiritual guidance daughter received
What started as a story to show grandsons the generosity of a family
when their mother was critically ill has turned out to be a book
that offers readers a powerful understanding of love, diversity and
JoEllen Koerner's book, "Mother, Heal My Self: An Intergenerational
Healing Journey Between Two Worlds," is dedicated to her daughter,
Kristi Welch, who was stricken with serious health problems during
pregnancy and childbirth. Koerner, 56, approached a Native American
man for help in dealing with her daughter's pain.
"I have a profound love and admiration for my mother," Welch
said. "First, for having stood by my side through some very scary
and sacred moments and giving my children the gift of clarity by
sharing her truth.
"Second, for having the courage to write this story and allowing it
to be published, knowing that not everyone who reads it will agree
with the contents."
Koerner, a Freeman native who now lives in Sioux Falls, is a
registered nurse and has worked in hospitals and a nursing school,
for regulatory agencies and in health-care administration. She also
started Koerner Learning, a private business.
Although the book centers on Koerner's life, one of the significant
mother-daughter moments revolves around Welch's pregnancies and the
births of her two children.
"As the book states, our entire female family, for generations, had
death around childbirth," Welch said. "Even in the highly technical
age we live in, I, too, found myself in a near-death experience.
"And the insight we received from the Native American community
helped bring a deep understanding of intergenerational issues that
can be overcome with love, forgiveness and hope. Having the courage
to face suffering, embrace suffering and love suffering were keys to
our own healing."
The events discussed in the book took place in 2001. Welch, now 33,
had gestational diabetes, malignant hypertension, kidney stones,
toxemia and a colicky baby. She required a Caesarean section and
four other surgeries.
While Welch was ill, Wanigi Waci, a Lakota spiritual healer,
arranged for her and her mother to meet a medicine man at a nearby
After a prayer ceremony, the medicine man told Koerner her daughter
would be healed if she chose health. Today, Welch still has one
kidney stone and mild hypertension.
Koerner's ancestors came from Russia in the late 1800s and always
told how the Native Americans living in the area provided them food
and shelter during the first few difficult years, Koerner said.
"When they once again gave to me and my family, I wanted to give
something back," she said. "Sharing with the larger South Dakota
community a true story about their incredible ways and beliefs is an
effort to enhance an understanding and respect between us all."
Koerner and Welch will discuss the book Feb. 29 at Wellspring
Wholistic Care Center in Freeman, and Koerner will be at Barnes &
Noble Booksellers in Sioux Falls on March 6 for a book signing.
Koerner said her daughter's experience has helped her appreciate
more deeply that people hold the power to heal themselves.
"Ultimately, they are the only ones who can," Koerner said. "So my
entire view of nursing has shifted from taking care of people to
being with people as they learn to heal themselves."
Headline: 'Ridin' the Rez': the trials of Indian tourism
Byline: Tim Vanderpool Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
(TUCSON, ARIZ.)The San Xavier del Bac Mission throws long winter shadows across a
broad plaza, where John Fendenheim is tidying his cozy tourist shop.
Rising from flat desert on the 2.8 million-acre Tohono O'odham
Reservation west of Tucson, the Spanish mission has been a pillar of
O'odham life for nearly three centuries. And, along with casinos, it's
become a financial foothold for the reservation's 24,000 residents.
"San Xavier is Tucson's No. 1 tourist destination. I worked hard to get
a shop in here," says Mr. Fendenheim, a tribal member.
This is the second store Fendenheim has opened on the reservation since
obtaining a $60,000 loan from the tribal government in 1999. Today, his
business generates about $1 million a year.
But he says the road to a success can include collisions between
reservation culture and the thousands of visitors drawn to sights such
as San Xavier, Baboquivari Peak, or a national astronomy observatory,
all on tribal land. When new tourism businesses are proposed,
"traditional values are really thought about," Fendenheim says. "Do
O'odham people really want more non-Indians walking around? How do you
That's a huge challenge to Indian nations, says Tohono O'odham Vice
Chairman Ned Norris Jr. "When you look at encouraging tourism ... you
get mixed feelings from tribal members. On one hand, it's good. On the
other hand, the feeling is, 'We don't need people coming out onto the
nation because they don't have the kind of respect that we expect, for
the land, for the people, and for sacred sites.' "
Still, Indian Country tourism "is a growing trend within tribes
nationally, and a significant economic benefit for them," says Gloria
Cobb, a Wisconsin Ojibwe and board member of the American Indian Alaska
Native Tourism Association. Indeed, in the Northeast, the Pequot Tribe
is maximizing tourism profits by steering casino visitors to its
18-hole golf course and country club. And with a reservation skirting
the Grand Canyon, Arizona's Hualapai Tribe is attracting 150,000
visitors annually with helicopter rides and Colorado River pontoon
cruises. Meanwhile, in Washington State, the Makah Tribe is drawing
visitors to an elaborate museum featuring artifacts from an ancient
Makah village, cedar dug-out canoes, fishing gear, and a full-size
The need for such economic development is often dire. While Indian
casinos generate up to $10 billion each year, only about one-third of
the nation's tribes have gaming. Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of
Indian children live in poverty, and unemployment can run as high as 80
Still, even when visitors come to reservations, they often don't leave
much money behind, and usually they don't spend the night. The same
remote beauty and unusual culture that draw travelers often drive them
away when the sun sets, says Mark St. Pierre, executive director of the
Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce, on South Dakota's Pine Ridge
Reservation. "They worry, 'Will I feel welcome? Will I feel safe?'
There's a lot of confusion, and it takes marketing to overcome these
To acquaint visitors with Pine Ridge, Mr. St. Pierre spearheaded an
annual "Ridin' the Rez" motorcycle rally. Like much tourism on
reservations, the event blends recreation with a dose of history. The
ride, covering nearly 200 miles, traverses some the Badlands' most
striking areas as well as historic areas such as Wounded Knee. It has
been a boon to the roughly 40 tourism-related businesses, including
campgrounds and grocery stores, scattered across the reservation.
Reservation entrepreneurs also face financing hurdles. Since tribal
land is collectively owned, it can't used as property collateral for
traditional bank loans. To fill this credit vacuum, many tribes such as
the Tohono O'odham earmark a percentage of gaming proceeds for business
loans. Fendenheim was able to expand only with loans from a $15 million
economic development fund established by the tribe.
Others encourage outside investors to partner with reservation
businesses. But non-Indians can get frustrated with unfamiliar customs
and sensitivities. For example, outsiders who make their pitches too
aggressively can find themselves politely ignored. "It can be difficult
for nontribal members to deliver their message on the reservation,"
says Tia Jones, president of the Arizona American Indian Tourism
Association. Her group acts as an intermediary with potential
investors, shepherding them through "the different cultural norms on
Still, funding means little without teaching reservation entrepreneurs
the ropes of tourism, says Ed Hall, tourism coordinator for the US
Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington. Mr. Hall works with tribes "to
provide technical assistance, arrange workshops, and develop tourism
Realizing the potential tourism revenues for their own coffers, many
states are also getting involved. In Arizona, Gov. Janet Napolitano
recently designated a special liaison to coordinate tourism development
with reservations, and the Arizona Office of Tourism is devoted to
"building closer ties to the tribes," says spokesman James Ahlers.
(c) Copyright 2004 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.
The Christian Science Monitor-- an independent daily newspaper providing context and clarity on national and international news, peoples and cultures, and social trends. Online at http://www.csmonitor.com
A holiday to honor Native Americans
Thursday, February 19, 2004
By Kat Teraji
I am nearly buried in the avalanche of ads this time of year as I open The Dispatch: promises of “Presidential Savings, Savings to Feel Good About!” come raining down on me in honor of Presidents’ Day. I do enjoy having the day off to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s natal anniversaries. However, Americans are still working way too many days compared to employees in other modern industrial nations. We work nine weeks more each year than our colleagues in Western Europe. I’d like to propose that one more much-needed holiday be added to our calendar. Maybe Gilroyans can lead the way. I propose that it’s high time we choose one of the original Americans, a truly “native” American’s birthday to celebrate. And why not? Columbus has his day; Washington and Lincoln have theirs, and now even Martin Luther King has a holiday. But where is a day for honoring even one of the accomplished Native Americans that make up part of this great country’s history and heritage?
I’d like to cast my vote for the electrifying Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh, whose name means “Shooting Star,” an American Braveheart. He traveled from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada, convincing tribe after tribe to set aside their individual differences while uniting them into the Free Indian Confederacy, creating a great coalition of Native Americans larger than the entire Federal Union at the time. A great orator, he negotiated constantly with his white counterparts, driven by a vision of unity and freedom, by diplomacy, if possible-by war, only when necessary.
Now only meriting a small paragraph in “American” history text books, this peacemaker and prophet mastered the tactical strategies of generals of legend, such as Hannibal and Alexander the Great, and was once commissioned a Brigadier General in the British Army. He worked tirelessly caring for the weaker members of his tribe (at the age of 15, he rescued a woman being beaten by her husband). He prayed before every meal, studied Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” and fell in love with a white woman. His warriors were not allowed to harm civilians; this, at a time when white leaders summarily ordered the massacre or torture of every Indian captured, almost without exception.
So admired was Tecumseh in our nation’s past, that a famous Civil War general was named for him: Tecumseh was his true first name. Since his priest refused to baptize the future general as “Tecumseh” without a Christian name, “William” was chosen. Thus, Tecumseh Sherman became William Tecumseh Sherman. His friends and siblings, however, continued to call him “Cump” as was his preference.
In the final battle for his peoples’ freedom, Tecumseh’s voice could be heard soaring above the gunfire, rallying his men, telling them to stand firm and strong. James Knaggs, a soldier in the battle, wrote that Tecumseh “yelled like a tiger.” Tecumseh was wounded over and over, but kept on fighting. With blood pouring from his knife wounds, and a bullet lodged in his chest, he continued to shout encouragement to his men. After 30 years of fighting for freedom, he lost his life for his people at age 45. His body was never found. No other Native American ever did so much with so little against such heavy odds.
I for one hope we haven’t become so superficial that Presidents’ Day has simply become a day about finding the best sale. I hope we haven’t forgotten our past and the amazing caretakers of this place we call home.
How long until we dedicate a day to honor great Native American leaders? Presidents’ Day - sure, great idea. But what about Great Chiefs’ Day?
To see this article from The Dispatch,
Sunday, July 19, 1998
History: Native American burial mounds destroyed by settlers
Last modified at 5:50 a.m. on Sunday, July 19, 1998
LARRY J. WAGENAAR
Special to The Sentinel
It's an often overlooked fact that the Native Americans of West Michigan used mounds as part of their burial practices. This was particularly true in the Hamilton area along the Rabbit River where mounds were evident in the latter part of the 19th century. What follows is an article by H. D. Post of Holland, describing the Rabbit River mounds and circles as they were called. He write about these in June 1878, and even Mr. Post realizes with great sadness the ultimate result and loss of historical information and respect for Native American practices that were evident in the violation and destruction of these burial tombs.
By the kindness of Mr. George S. Harrington, of Fillmore, I was enabled to visit and make careful and complete examination of the circular works and burial mounds near Hamilton, a few days ago.
These works are all within a mile of each other, and of the Rabbit River, in the townships of Fillmore, Manlius and Heath, Allegan County.
The first circle we visited is on the farm of Mrs. Bostwick. An elevated ridge, rising from 15 to 20 feet above the town line road, between Manlius and Fillmore, extends from the north to within 30 rods of the south line, with a gentle slope to the east, south and west; and at the south end of this ridge, commanding a fine view of the whole country southward, we found a circle having a diameter to the outside of its walls of 124 feet from east to west, and 138 feet north and south, composed of a ridge averaging 2 feet high, and 16 feet in width evidently made by throwing up the earth from a surrounding trench or ditch. This remained after years of cultivation and leveling with the plow, which had turned the soil over again but a few days before our visit.
Across the road from Mrs. Bostwick's house we find another circle on land of Mr. Brouwer.
We were informed that when the land was cleared, many years ago the ridge was sharply defined, about 2-and-a-half feet high, 16 feet broad, with a ditch outside, and that beech trees from 24 to 30 inches diameter grew within it, but this was so long since that all the stumps have disappeared.
About 60 rods east of this work is a burial mound, measuring 30 feet in diameter from east to west, and 28 feet north and south, which was, as nearly as can now be estimated, above 5 feet high. This has been dug open and its contents removed, in the last instance with a team and road scraper so that there was very slight basis for an examination. There is the stump of a sugar maple of quite slow growth, twenty two inches in diameter, standing on the east side of it. Mr. Harrington says that about October 1, 1870, he visited this mound with Mr. Woodhouse of Kalamazoo, before the scraper gang had reached there, and carefully opened and examined it. On removing the earth to the depth of 16 or 18 inches, they found a mass of human bones, with little or no earth among them, to a depth of 30 inches, and below them a trace of ash and fire coals, from half an inch to an inch thick; below this, the natural surface soil. The lowest bones showed traces of having been slightly burned. The remains were of all sizes; and did not seem to be arranged in any regular order, but the bones of each body were in their proper relative position, showing that they were entire corpses when buried, and not gathered bones. Mr. McWilliams, and others who say them at the time of the scraper opening, thought that there might have been 150 in that mound. ...
These circular works seem to be alike in character and were probably designed and used for the same purposes. Their age must be from 250 to 300 years at least, and when they were constructed on the high rolling lands north of the Kalamazoo and west of the Rabbit River, must have been a favorite resort of the Indians for hunting and fishing, and if the country was then as well timbered with the sugar maple as now, for making sugar in the spring season.
If you would like to learn more about the history of our area, please stop by the Joint Archives of Holland on the lower level of the Van Wylen Library at 10th and College. Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 pm.
Larry J. Wagenaar is an associate professor at Hope College and director of the Joint Archives of Holland which brings together the archives of the college with those of the Holland Historical Trust and Western Seminary in one research location.
Copyright 1998. The Holland Sentinel.
New book sheds light on Lumbee medical remedies
By MICHAEL JAENICKE / Associated Press
Despite beliefs to the contrary, alternative healing methods do not
involve hocus-pocus, black magic or sorcery.
In Robeson County, healing with home remedies has always been
natural ... not supernatural. And there's a book to prove it.
Arvis Locklear Boughman and Loretta Oxendine co-wrote "Herbal
Remedies of the Lumbee Indians" to demystify the mysticism of home
remedies and capture a slice of history they feel is in danger of
being washed away.
They say it is not about trying to alter modern medicine. Rather, it
is an attempt to understand, relate and record the work of Lumbee
healers, elders, medicine men and herbalists.
"This is for future generations to look at," Locklear said. "There
are a lot of older folks in our Lumbee community. And once they are
gone, I'm afraid some of this will be, too. It is important to
preserve this. We just felt the window of opportunity to do this was
closing rapidly, especially since the younger people don't seem to
be interested in it."
Boughman, 39, and Oxendine, 65, spent seven years working on the
book, which was published in January by McFarland Publishing Co.
For decades in rural Robeson County, many American Indians had
little or no money for doctors, medicine or other "luxuries." For
most, the only care available came from their tribe.
"I was in college the first time I went to a doctor," Oxendine
said. "Arvis came by and it struck me how much we used herbs growing
up. We talked about old remedies and decided we needed to write them
down. This was all about keeping a history record. It's not a
Boughman, a speech pathologist who is a Robeson County native
working in the Swain County Public Schools, studied the master's
theses of Edward Croom ("Medicinal Plants of the Lumbee Indian") and
Margaret Steedly ("Evidence of Things Not Seen: Faith and Tradition
in a Lumbee Healing Practice") before beginning the book.
The authors retell the history of the Lumbees in Robeson as a setup
for a 91-page section that documents herbs and how they were used.
Oxendine said her family and relatives were like most in the area
and used some of the following methods to heal and treat:
_ Putting a brown paper bag soaked in vinegar on the forehead to
_ Rubbing kerosene on the outside of the throat for a sore throat.
_ Eating hot, red peppers to purify the system.
_ Drinking blueberry tea for low blood sugar.
_ Using sage tea as hair conditioner.
_ Boiling the root of sassafras to cure measles.
_ Tying collard leaves around the wrists and ankles to reduce a
_ Applying a salve from tobacco leaves and seeds on a burn.
_ Using spider webs on open cuts.
"Herbs themselves are natural and not many people even knew how to
use them," Boughman said. "Most people within the tribe would have
to contact the family healer. A lot of (modern) medicines treat the
symptoms, but many times herbs go to the root of the illness.
"I take my children to the doctor, but I believe these natural
remedies have their place and time. Go to Wal-Mart and look at 50
medicines or herbs and you'll see many of our ingredients. We were
the fathers and mothers of the herb art."
Boughman said many herbal plants are found in the backyards and
fields of homes. The book explains the texture, size, color and
appearance of plants, trees leaves and shrubs. He also notes that
the same herb can be used for many different problems, while warning
of the dangers if they are improperly used or prepared.
In addition to treating aches, pains and common ailments, the book
also tells which herbs help prevent illness and diseases.
Welton Lowry, for example, lived into his 90s and swore that the use
of bilberry aided his eyesight.
However, the authors say the days of healers touching the body of a
sick person to find out what was wrong are vanishing, partly because
people fail to believe and partly because modern medicine is
becoming a commercial showcase.
Need hair? Take a drug. Need a revived sex life? Take another. Have
stomach problems? Take the en vogue prescription drug of the moment.
Have sinus problems? There's a row of pills in every drugstore.
"One of the problems with modern medicine is most break down one
system to build up another," Boughman. "Drug companies are like oil
companies now, loaded in the money. Every week they come up with
something new and the next week it's something that's banned."
Locklear feels compelled to keep the Lumbee culture alive,
especially with the federal recognition bill waiting to be voted
upon in the U.S. Senate. The Lumbee tribe is the largest Indian
tribe east of the Mississippi and fifth-largest in the U.S. With
about 53,000 members, the Lumbees are the largest non-federally
recognized Indian nation in the country.
"I feel kind of responsible," said Locklear, a school teacher in
Robeson County for 35 years. "Our heritage is important.
"People think we've lost all our native culture and that's just not
so," he said. "We have it in many things, including strong tradition
in plants and faith and healing in a natural way. Hopefully, in some
small way, this will rekindle the fire ... maybe provide a spark to
the younger people."
Daily Lobo - News
AIM chairman denounces University response
By Amanda Jackson
American Indian Movement Chairman Dennis Banks had more than his new
autobiography, Ojibwa Warrior, to address Monday night to a standing-
room only crowd in the SUB's Lobo room.
Banks was aware of the events that transpired at the Duck Pond on
April 1, and saw the videotape of the incident.
"I'm disappointed in the response of the president of the University
to that incident," Banks said. "It's more than just being
insensitive. His letter is what might be more insensitive."
Banks vowed to raise the incident at the next AIM meeting so that
others will speak out about injustices that may be happening in
"If this man continues here as a student, he has a license to commit
another act," he said. "He wasn't unplugging the three men in this
band, he was unplugging a nation."
Banks also said he wouldn't be opposed to a national boycott of UNM.
His daughter, Tasina Banks, is a UNM student. Although he is a
strong supporter of the University's Native American Studies
Department, he would like for people to "point the finger" at the
"To me that was a very direct assault against Native people," Banks
said. "The University's response, as late as it was, I would have to
reject that letter. I cannot speak for the University or the Native
American Studies Program, but I can speak for AIM, and to me an act
of racism is an act of racism, and it has to be dealt with."
Banks's passion about this stems from his concern for the education
of American Indians.
"You who have made it, have run though a gantlet of many kinds of
discrimination whether it's racial, literary or of skin color," he
said. "Instead of getting educated to go to work, I think we should
get educated to create our own jobs, write our own books, create our
own movies - to use our full creative knowledge to create jobs."
Banks said the incident on campus wasn't an isolated event.
"Across the country I see a lot of complacency," he said. "During
the late '60s when I was in prison, I came out and knocked door-to-
door trying to start a movement. I wanted to be part of a movement
that was saying things for Native people."
Banks told stores of his early days in AIM when members of the
movement were sent to prison in droves, and many times beaten by
police. Banks said he witnessed this in the 30 times he was arrested.
Banks not only encouraged students to speak out against
discrimination on campus, but also on the war in Iraq.
"I see little, almost zero, participation," he said. "How many
people have called for peace?"
Although Banks' frustration with the University was evident, he
ended on a positive note.
"I feel good about being here," he said. "I feel good about what the
Native American Studies Program is about."
Trailblazer reveals woman behind the issues
Roberta Jamieson cuts her own path.
It's a quality she comes by honestly, she got it from her parents
while growing up on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory
near Brantford. Jamieson was the first female elected chief of
Canada's most populous reserve in 2001, just another step in a
career that has landed her in some powerful positions.
She was also the first aboriginal woman in Canada to graduate from
law school and the first to serve as ombudsman in Ontario. She
served at the Indian Commission of Ontario, becoming commissioner in
1986. Jamieson was also awarded the Order of Canada in 1994 and has
received at least eight honourary doctorates.
Tonight will mark another first for Jamieson, when she takes the
stage at Roy Thomson Hall as part of the Unique Lives & Experiences
She's never talked about herself, personally, before. It was not a
decision she made lightly, she says.
"I had to think about whether I was going to be very comfortable
talking about (myself), because I am so issue-oriented. Part of who
I am is very much about the things I've spent my life doing. I just
haven't spoken about what's behind the issues, why I've devoted so
much of my time to try and create change, to be driven and
determined," she says.
"I've always taken those things for granted, so it really caused me
to be introspective and to share that much more broadly than I have
There is plenty to share.
Jamieson, a Mohawk who has always called Six Nations home, comes
from strength and creativity.
Jamieson's mother was a young white woman fresh from nursing school
when she took a position at Six Nations and fell in love with a
Mohawk man. The marriage led her family to disown her, and though
they slowly came around over the years, they were not all together
again until Jamieson's own wedding 30 years later.
Jamieson credits her father, who died when he was only 48, for
passing on a sense of vision. He earned a living in the armed forces
and working in a factory, but had endless outside interests,
including being a jazz pianist. He wrote and recorded the first jazz
song by a North American Indian, which is in Washington's
"He was a dreamer in many ways," she says.
"He believed that you could do things. That sense of vision and
being willing to live beyond, defying the odds, is something I have
gotten from him."
Jamieson was in medical school at McGill University in Montreal when
politics came calling, in the form of land claim issues.
They inspired her to change her studies from medicine to law. She
graduated in 1976 from the University of Western Ontario law school,
where she was one of the founders of the Native Law Students
Over the next decade, Jamieson served with the Canadian Indian
Rights Commission and the Indian Commission of Ontario, working on
land claim settlements and rights recognition. In 1989, she began a
10-year stint as Ontario's ombudsman, handling around 30,000
complaints a year regarding government policies or decisions
involving social benefits, health, land use, correctional facilities
and labour and financial institutions.
Last year, she ran for National Chief of the Assembly of First
Nations, losing to Phil Fontaine.
Now a grandmother, her deep commitment to aboriginal issues is
matched by that of her husband, Tom Hill. He is curator of the
Woodland Cultural Centre and an expert in First Nation history and
culture, serving as adviser to institutions like the Smithsonian
Institute and the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa.
The couple was among a small group of parents who 15 years ago
recruited two teachers to an abandoned school and started a native
language school so their children could be educated in their mother
The teachers virtually volunteered at the beginning to teach in
language immersion, she says. Now there are two private schools in
the community, one is fully Mohawk and one Cayuga.
"Our children in many ways now do have access to things that we had
to learn in spite of," she says.
And though more of the basics are in place, "there is much more to
be done here. We still have people who don't have running water and
the running water we do have is contaminated. There are people who
don't have access to jobs, who are not able to go to post secondary
school, because we can't afford to send them.
"The promise is in our young people and I'm proud to say they have
even more tools to work with today than before," Jamieson says.
She has also been vocal about encouraging more women to get involved
in politics and has communicated with women from all major
parties. "I don't see why we are not, given that we are 52 per cent
of the population.
"I believe it is time when we really need to take stock and to
develop new strategies and support one another," she says. "This is
one thing I don't think we do enough of ? women supporting women.
I've seen too many women become men to succeed. I think we need to
support our unique qualities as women, because the world needs our
qualities ? consensus building, the way we resolve conflicts.
"The potential is there, we are the majority," she says. "We just
need to wake up and keep encouraging one another in our successes
and celebrate those successes."
Jamieson believes that all she does is her calling in life.
"I think it's a job to listen to something we call here `The
Instructions.' We believe the creator gives everyone a unique set of
instructions ? things like your talents, your special insights,
whatever you might have ? and your job is to use them to their
maximum advantage. I take that very seriously.
"When I get tired ? and I do ? and I get frustrated ? and I do ? I
have a look at the young faces coming and realize there's more work
to be done here."
The lecture series, which is sponsored in part by the Toronto Star,
will see former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright May 17,
followed by sex educator Dr. Ruth Westheimer on June 1.
Tonight's lecture begins at 7:30 at Roy Thomson Hall. Limited
seating is available in all ticket prices by calling 416-872-4255.
Tribes prepare to go to war over budget cuts
"I welcome the opportunity to tell our story."
Sam Lewin 4/19/2004
Fed up with a continuing pattern of cuts to the Bureau of Indian
Affairs, prominent Indian leaders have come up with their own plan.
BIA Assistant Secretary Dave Anderson said in March that BIA
programs would be slashed 2.4% in the next fiscal year, which is
actually a 3.6 % cut when inflation is factored in. The cuts amount
to $78 million. It is the seventh straight year the BIA has been
earmarked for less money compared to the previous year. Officials
say school construction, scholarships, early childhood education and
tribal colleges take the biggest hit.
Last week two leading organizations, the National Congress of
American Indians and the BIA's Tribal Budget Advisory Council, met
to come up with a better plan. The two-day meeting, attended by BIA
officials and tribal leaders, resulted in an alternative proposal
that increased the budget by seven-percent.
" We asked for this special meeting to develop an appropriations
counter-proposal to the one the administration unveiled last month,"
said NCAI President Tex Hall. "We cannot accept any cuts. Indian
Country is already overwhelmingly underfunded, and cutting more
dollars adversely affects the programs that provide the most basic
needs-education, law enforcement, social services, housing and the
Indian Child Welfare Act."
Many national programs have been placed on the chopping block, as
international security takes on larger significance.
Budget Advisory Council co-chair Jim Gray said he doesn't want to
hamper that effort.
" We have more than our share of men and women in Iraq fighting for
this country," he said. " We don't want to take money away from them
and the War on Terror. But I think the soldiers who are tribal
members would have a hard time seeing that their grandmother's home
doesn't get the work it needs because the BIA has cut their budget."
The Budget Advisory Council recommended funding priorities be
focused on tribal law enforcement and detention centers, education,
economic development and natural resources.
The BIA submits it's proposed budget to the Office of Management and
Budget in mid-May. BIA Assistant Secretary Dave Anderson told last
week's gathering that he would worj to reach a budget agreeable to
everyone. He urged tribes to be the "architects of our own destiny."
" We are excited about the idea of taking [the revamped budget] to
Congress and the OMB," Gray said. " I welcome the opportunity to
tell our story about why we need the seven percent increase."
Posted on Mon, Apr. 19, 2004
Supreme Court: U.S. may bring case after tribal trial
By STEPHEN HENDERSON
Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court said Monday that the federal
government doesn't violate constitutional protections against double
jeopardy when it prosecutes Indians for crimes they've already been
convicted of in tribal proceedings.
Billy Jo Lara, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
Indians in North Dakota, pleaded guilty to tribal charges that he
assaulted a federal officer on the Spirit Lake Tribe reservation.
But he challenged his conviction in tribal court after federal
prosecutors charged him.
The justices ruled 7-2 that Congress extended Indian tribes'
sovereignty in 1991 to include the ability to prosecute nonmember
Indians for acts committed on the tribes' reservations. And because
the Indian tribe is acting as a sovereign nation, separate from
federal authority, subsequent federal charges don't create double
The Constitution "authorizes Congress to permit tribes, as an
exercise of their inherent tribal authority, to prosecute non-member
Indians," Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the court.
The decision means Lara's tribal conviction stands and federal
charges can proceed.
Lara's troubles spring from his behavior on the Spirit Lake
reservation, where he lived with his wife, who's a member of that
tribe. Lara had been banned for "serious misconduct" but ignored the
restriction, and was stopped by Bureau of Indian Affairs officers in
2001. He struck one in the process of being detained, and was
charged with assault.
Historically, Indian tribes have had the ability to prosecute their
own members under tribal law. That tradition finds its legal roots
in the tribes' status as "dependent sovereigns" which occupy U.S.
land but are free to govern many of their internal affairs
separately from the federal government.
Lara's case raised a thornier issue: Could a tribe prosecute a
Indian who wasn't a member of that tribe and committed a crime on
its property? If so, does it do so with the same independent
authority with which it would prosecute its own members, or as a
surrogate for federal authority?
The Supreme Court concluded that the bounds of Indian sovereignty
are subject to the "broad general powers" of Congress, largely to
the exclusion of the other branches of government. And in the 1991
law, the justices said, Congress intended to extend tribes'
sovereignty to include authority over nonmember Indians who visit
The case is notable in that it marks a rare instance of the justices
deferring to Congress' authority. The court, in 1990, eliminated
tribes' ability to prosecute nonmembers, and Congress' 1991 law was
a direct assault on that ruling.
Under Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the court has embarked on
some of the most aggressive reviews - and overturnings - of
congressional law in history. But the justices noted Monday that
even its previous opinions on Indian law relied on the history of
congressional action. They said their 1990 opinion was guided by
congressional action up to then; Congress changed its mind in 1991,
and now the court must respect that.
Justice David Souter, joined by Antonin Scalia, dissented from that
idea, saying the Constitution doesn't grant such broad authority to
Congress over Indian affairs.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who agreed with the court's ruling but
disagreed with its logic, said the decision had the effect of making
Indians subject to laws they hadn't consented to follow.
The Constitution, he wrote, is based on the consent of the governed.
People can't be subject to laws they had no ability to help make or
change. So it makes sense to hold Indians accountable to the laws of
their own tribes, he wrote, because they've agreed to be tribe
Justice Clarence Thomas, who also agreed in the decision but
dissented from its supporting logic, said the ruling revealed
inconsistencies in the court's thinking about Indian affairs. If
Congress can regulate so much of tribes' existence, how can they
really be sovereign?
Thomas implored the justices to take on the inconsistencies, rather
than ruling around them.
"In my view, the tribes either are or are not separate sovereigns,"
Thomas wrote, "and our federal Indian law cases untenably hold both
Monday, April 19, 2004
'Indian Country' rulings create jurisdiction questions
The Associated Press
SANTA FE (AP) - Lawmakers will have to solve a legal riddle that has left federal and state law enforcement officials wondering if they have jurisdiction on land that once belonged to Indian pueblos, a top federal lawyer says.
U.S. Attorney David Iglesias said a series of conflicting court decisions have created "prosecution-free zones" on thousands of acres in New Mexico.
In cases from Taos, Pojoaque and Santa Clara pueblos, criminal charges have been dismissed or are stalled as judges wrestle with whether private land that was formerly within pueblo boundaries legally constitutes "Indian Country."
"I consider this to be a code red in terms of federal criminal jurisdiction," Iglesias said. "And by a code red, I mean this is a serious problem. This is the most serious problem in the time that I've been U.S. attorney here. It's got to be fixed and it's got to be fixed quickly."
The dilemma has raised the possibility that someone who commits a serious felony might avoid prosecution if the crime occurs in certain locations.
At issue is whether the federal government or the state has jurisdiction over pueblo territory that passed into private ownership under the Pueblo Lands Act of 1924.
About 70,000 acres within pueblo boundaries in New Mexico went to private owners under the law. Since 1924, some of the land has been repurchased by the pueblos.
While it's generally held that federal authorities have jurisdiction on Indian land, the status of private land within the pueblos is less clear.
New Mexico courts have different opinions on the matter.
In one case, Del Romero of Taos Pueblo was indicted by the state for allegedly battering a fellow pueblo member at a mall in Taos. The pueblo's title to the land where the mall is was extinguished under the 1924 act.
Last year, the state Court of Appeals ruled that the site is no longer Indian Country and, therefore, Romero could face state battery charges. The case was appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Richard Hughes, attorney for Santa Clara Pueblo, has filed briefs on behalf of several New Mexico pueblos in the Del Romero case in support of Taos Pueblo's contention that the state doesn't have jurisdiction over crimes that occur on privately owned lands within pueblo boundaries.
Hughes said there's case law that says the federal government has jurisdiction in such cases.
But in December 2000, U.S. District Judge C. LeRoy Hansen dismissed a criminal sexual contact charge against Jose Gutierrez as precedent for the federal government's lack of jurisdiction in such cases. The alleged crime took place on private land within the boundaries of Santa Clara Pueblo.
"While the land in question may at one time have been Indian Country, the Pueblo Lands Act of 1924 clearly and intentionally quieted title to the land in question against the Pueblo of Santa Clara," the dismissal order reads.
In August 2002, Pojoaque tribal member Matthew Gutierrez was accused of stabbing his brother-in-law five times on land "within the exterior boundaries of the Pueblo of Pojoaque on non-Indian fee land," according to court records.
The Santa Fe district attorney's office tried to prosecute Gutierrez on three criminal counts aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, child abuse and battery against a household member.
A state judge dismissed the case, ruling that even though Pojoaque Pueblo no longer holds the title to the land in question, the land is in fact still "Indian Country."
Iglesias said the ultimate solution for "prosecution-free zones" is for Congress to step in and clarify the question of who has jurisdiction.
"I briefed a couple of our congressional leaders on the seriousness of this issue and they understand that," he said, "and I anticipate they'll probably be putting in legislation to fix this jurisdictional void."
Southern Arizona: epicenter of an epidemic
Twin scourges of obesity and diabetes threaten region's children
more than any others in U.S.
09:33 AM MST on Sunday, April 18, 2004
By Carla McClain / Arizona Daily Star
Americans are in grave danger of undoing the greatest achievement of
medical science - the doubling of the human life span from four
decades just a century ago to nearly 80 years today.
The culprits are the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes, with
some doctors predicting children could lose as much as 20 years off
Nowhere is this more likely to happen than in Southern Arizona,
where an evolutionary collision has left those native to this land
overwhelmed by these twin epidemics, which are maiming and killing
them at the highest rates in the world.
Among Southern Arizona's largest Indian tribe, the Tohono O'odham,
50 percent of adults are battling diabetes, a figure that soars to
85 percent in older adults. They are facing a diabetes risk 10 times
that of the rest of the country. Mexican-Americans in this region
who share Indian blood suffer diabetes at twice the rate of the
population as a whole.
The blame lies squarely on a toxic modern diet and lifestyle -
cheap, high-fat, sugar-packed, processed, supersized foods,
requiring no more energy to get than extending a hand out the car
Because this region sits at the center of the problem, experts here
have developed new and aggressive ways to attack it, successfully
bringing diabetes under control in those most severely sick - and
even starting to prevent it in those most at risk.
But poverty is a barrier, here and elsewhere, between many Americans
and a healthy life.
"Eating healthy costs a lot"
Put a bag of carrots in one hand and a Happy Meal in the other, and
the cost of each is pretty much the same. But in one hand you have a
whole meal, and the other you have only the start of one.
When tests showed that Tucsonan Linda Salomon's 12-year old son,
Gilbert, was developing the first signs of diabetes, she cleaned out
her kitchen. Then she bought whole-wheat breads, fruit, vegetables,
1 percent milk, olive oil and lean cuts of meat, a grocery list
that's breaking the family budget.
"It is much more expensive. Eating healthy costs a lot," Salomon
But Gilbert left her no choice.
"I pretty much ate everything - candy, soda, a lot of fast food, and
extra servings. I loved that food," said Gilbert, a Hispanic/Pascua
Yaqui youngster who is getting with the program by not only
radically changing his diet but also working out regularly in the
new gym at the Pascua Yaqui Health Center.
"But it scared me," he said. "I know if I don't lose weight I'm
going to die in five years."
Although doctors and scientists have poked, prodded and probed
Southern Arizonans for decades trying to gain control of this killer
epidemic, it only grows steadily worse. The same is true throughout
the United States.
Recent data show some areas of the largely Caucasian Midwest are now
developing diabetes at rates rivaling Arizona's, said Dr. Naznin
Dixit, a University of Arizona pediatric endocrinologist and
"It's not just the food," she said. "It's physical activity we are
spending now in front of the TV, on the computer, playing video
games. This is the result of our entire culture, the environment we
live in. It's across the entire nation. It's everywhere."
Even in our children.
Embarrassment and shame
"I felt very scared. It was frightening, and so sad," said Pascua
Yaqui tribal member Stacy Del Cid, describing her reaction to her
diabetes diagnosis - at age 16.
"And I was so embarrassed. I just felt embarrassed and ashamed."
Fear? Yes. Shame? No reason.
What Del Cid has is what used to be called "adult-onset" diabetes,
because it rarely hit before age 40.
But today, with obesity rates doubling in young children and
tripling in teens in the last couple of decades, this disease no
longer waits for adulthood. Recently renamed "diabetes type 2," it
now shows up regularly in kids as young as 4 and 5.
If current trends hold, the future is pure disaster. One-third of
all American children born in 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes,
predicts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When the vital hormone insulin stops working well enough to control
the body's blood sugar, as happens in type 2 diabetes, the long-term
results are devastating: heart disease, kidney failure, nerve
damage, amputations, blindness, failure to heal, to name a few.
Instead of disabling, maiming and killing people in their 60s and
70s, diabetes will wreak its havoc when these children are only in
their 20s and 30s.
"Overall, our life span has increased to near 80 years, but I'm
worried that our current generation of children will end up having
the shortest life span we've seen in a long time. They could lose
20, even 30 years of life because of this," said UMC's Dixit.
One of Dixit's patients is 5 years old, already suffering type 2
diabetes as well as the high blood pressure and signs of kidney
dysfunction that so often go with it.
"At the very least, they will be handicapped for years, for most of
their adult lives. This will be a significant burden to our
country," Dixit said. "This is a catastrophe."
"A lifestyle disease"
Calling for no less than a total American food revolution, an
internationally known alternative medicine and nutrition expert, Dr.
Andrew Weil, put it this way:
"We are indeed in deep trouble. What's going to happen when this
generation of fat kids we're raising hits their 40s and their bodies
Because this form of diabetes is so often called "a lifestyle
disease" - which can presumably be controlled by losing weight,
eating more healthful foods and exercising - the fear of it is
almost always coupled with an unjustified undercurrent of shame.
When Del Cid began dating her now-husband Manuel, she hid her
diabetes from him. After he asked her to marry him, Stacy's mother
had to sit him down and tell him about her daughter's disease.
Tucsonan Sloan Boatman shared Del Cid's shame.
"I was so depressed - I thought I had done something wrong," said
Boatman, who got her bad diabetes news at 15.
"It was really hard. I was fat, so kids made fun of me when they
found out - they called me 'roly poly' and told me to go roll with
the pigs. I couldn't handle it. I actually left high school for a
"It took me a long time to realize so much of this is caused by
genetics. I ate normally. I ate what everyone else ate. It just had
a very different effect on me."
No one is more unfairly stigmatized than the people type 2 diabetes
is hitting the hardest - the American Indians of Arizona, especially
the Tohono O'odham Tribe, and Mexican-Americans who share their
Suffering the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the world,
according to the National Institutes of Health, 50 percent of the
tribal population of 28,000 and 85 percent of older Tohono O'odham
are estimated to have it.
Among Mexican-Americans, adult diabetes rates have hit 24 percent -
nearly triple the Anglo adult rate of 8.4 percent. In the generation
of kids born in 2000, those rates will reach 50 percent among
Mexican-Americans and 75 percent among all AmericanIndianss.
"Thrifty gene" to blame
The more American Indian blood a person has, the higher the risk.
The answer, in a tragic evolutionary twist, is survival of the
What few who live here now realize is that only half a century ago,
the Tohono O'odham - "the people of the desert" - were among the
fittest, leanest people in the world, surviving efficiently on this
harsh, low-yield, drought-plagued land.
Thriving on natural, whole foods they gathered and grew with
irrigation from rivers that are no more - tepary beans, corn,
squash, melons, cholla buds, mesquite pods, saguaro fruit and cactus
pads - the O'odham suffered almost no diabetes. For nearly 2,000
years, the disease was rare.
But in an evolutionary flash, that lifestyle ended. Over a period of
only a few decades of the 20th century, the rivers dried up, world
wars came, farming skills were lost, Phoenix and Tucson grew, and
the modern American too-rich diet and sedentary lifestyle engulfed
the native people.
What scientists believe helped them survive in the desert -
a "thrifty gene" that slows metabolism and rapidly stores food as
fat to get them through frequent drought-caused famine - suddenly
backfired under a flood of high-fat, high-calorie, high-sugar food.
By 1965, Southern Arizona's tribes - the Tohono O'Odham, the closely
related Pima Indians and the Pascua Yaqui - suddenly faced a nearly
tenfold higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes than the rest of the
"Now nobody starves. Calorie-dense foods are too plentiful," said
Betsy Dokken, a nurse practitioner and certified diabetes educator
at University Medical Center.
"So until we take some very tough measures to get rid of our
dependence on this non-nutritious food, people with these genetics
will tend to gain weight more easily and will find it harder to get
it off and keep it off. It's very, very hard on them. Diabetes will
strike earlier and more severely."
Bottom line, Dokken said: "Diabetes is not a character flaw."
Scientists believe there may be several genes - now
called "diabetic" genes - that set people up for obesity and
diabetes, and the hunt for them in the human genome is on.
"I know I'm going to get it," said Marisa Soto, 29, a specially
trained pharmacist who works exclusively with diabetic patients on
the Pascua Yaqui Reservation.
More aware than most of the vital need for good food in modest
portions, more exercise and weight control to keep diabetes at bay,
Soto knows her genetics will get her in the end.
"My grandmother died of diabetes complications, my grandfather died
of complications, my dad is severely diabetic, my aunts and uncles
have it," she said. "It's only a matter of time for me."
Understandably, many native people see this life-threatening change
as an assault from the outside, and there is anger.
"We were truly a sovereign nation before European cultures arrived,"
said Vivian Juan-Saunders, Tohono O'Odham tribal chairwoman. "Before
that, we made our own decisions about our survival - what we ate,
what crops we grew, what religion we practiced.
"With no more control over our lives, we were forced to accept this
unhealthy way of living, and now it's our responsibility to deal
Using recent federal grants and gaming revenues, the Tohono O'odham
have built fitness centers that are free for tribal members and are
stocked with the latest exercise gear in Sells, the capital of the
nation 60 miles southwest of Tucson, and several other villages. The
nation is building a new $21 million kidney dialysis center, and it
operates health fairs, fun runs, walking clubs and healthful-cooking
"There is an unbelievable emphasis on addressing this issue in the
nation," said Matt Smith, spokesman for the Tohono O'odham. "It's
all encompassing. It's the center of their health universe."
Trying to do away with this seemingly never-ending need for new
dialysis centers and costly therapies, a nonprofit group - Tohono
O'odham Community Action - has in recent years brought back the
traditional crops of the desert, trying to get them back into the
On two small farms totaling about 45 acres on the reservation, and
in village gardens and back yards, people are once again growing
tepary beans, corn, squash, sorghum and melons. And they are
gathering cholla buds, mesquite beans and saguaro fruit found wild
in the desert.
It has been a slow and financially strapped process dependent on
grants and donations to keep these farms going. But those involved
think no less than the survival of their people depends on this
"When your family members are dying all around, it's very, very
devastating," said Terrol Dew Johnson, co-founder of Tohono O'odham
Community Action, who himself, at 31, is struggling with type 2
Whether American Indians can embrace the labor-intensive traditional
foods of the desert is uncertain. There are doubters.
"It's not likely to be terribly successful on a population-wide
basis. I don't think most Indians are prepared to go back to the
traditional lifestyle - there's quite a bit of discomfort in it,"
said Dr. Peter H. Bennett, epidemiologist and researcher at the
National Institutes of Health office in Phoenix, who has studied
diabetes in Indians for 40 years.
"But it has caught on in single families and on some small family
farms. It can and has been successful to that degree."
What is certain, Bennett said, is that any foods - traditional or
modern - that are low in fat, free of sugar and high in fiber and
whole grains will protect us from obesity and diabetes.
However, the challenge of breaking old bad habits, and overturning
an entire way of eating and living can prove too difficult.
"Listen, I like tortillas and sweet bread. I like chorizo and
refried beans and rice," said 57-year-old Francisco Muñoz, who has
been in an all-out fight with his type 2 diabetes for nearly 20
years. "I just said, nobody's gonna make me give them up. I just
couldn't do it."
And so, his blood sugar spiraling out of control, Muñoz began to
lose his sight, even his ability to walk.
Tackling this problem now is the El Rio Community Health Center near
Downtown Tucson, whose largely Hispanic patients number no fewer
than 4,000 diabetics - hundreds of them severely ill with organ and
Too far gone to be rescued by diet and exercise, these patients are
responding to a newly aggressive, intensely personal medical therapy
designed by pharmacist Sandra Leal, 29 - the first pharmacist in
Arizona granted a license to prescribe drugs.
"These are very complicated patients who have had diabetes a long
time, but it has never been under control," said Leal. "Before we
can even talk about diet and exercise, we have to start with drugs
to control sugar levels, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, even
° Contact reporter Carla McClain at 806-7754 or
Local inmates in a sweat
By JAKE BACON
Every Wednesday morning the chaplain at the Coconino County Jail leads a dawn escape from the jail. Generally, he takes four or five men from their cells each time.
The prisoners don't go over the razor-wire fences or tunnel under the reinforced concrete walls. Instead, they file into a fenced side yard of the jail and enter a sweat lodge to pray, meditate and seek some inner peace from the daily turmoil of incarceration.
Leaving behind the drab concrete and steel, the men work under an indigo sky to build a huge fire to heat rocks so that they glow orange. Once the task is complete, they step into a sweat lodge built of bent willow and rough green blankets and sit on a floor of fine sand. As the door to the lodge closes and plunges the men into blackness their escape, although only temporary, is complete.
Participating in the lodge is a religious right granted to the Native American inmates incarcerated in Arizona prisons and jails by a federal law passed in 1985.
Recently, Chaplain Mike Hjalmarson allowed me to photograph and participate in the ceremony.
The sweat lodge at the jail in Flagstaff is run by the inmates using materials that have been donated. The chaplain brings in sage that he collects for the inmates to use in the ceremony. The wood to heat the rocks comes from local thinning projects.
The lodge consists of a 10-foot-wide dome made of bent willow branches covered with heavy blankets and canvas. Its door faces east towards the rising sun and at its center is a pit to hold the rocks heated in the fire that is built next to the lodge.
Michael Doss, a member of the Kickapoo tribe from Wisconsin, led the ceremony that I attended recently.
He described the lodge built on the jail grounds as representing Mother Earth's womb. "We go in there and get cleansed and come out reborn." Doss said.
The ceremony consists of four rounds of prayer. Participants enter the lodge and walk clockwise around the center pit before taking a seat on a sheet facing the fire. Heated rocks are carried to the pit and the door is lowered.
The darkness inside the lodge is complete as Doss begins the prayers. Each round is named and serves a different purpose. The first is called the children's blessing round. This is followed by the women's round, the medicine pipe round and finally the warrior round. With each round, more rocks are transferred from the fire pit to the lodge.
As the doorway closed on the children's round there were four rocks in the pit at the center of the lodge. The heat came off in gentle waves, and sitting wearing only shorts it was pleasantly warming compared to the morning chill outside the lodge.
As Doss prayed, a sharp hiss drowned out the sound as he used a sprig of sage brush to throw water onto the rocks. A wave of heat bearing the scent of the sage came out of the pit and surrounded me as I sat wondering what I had gotten into. As the prayers continued more water was thrown on the rocks. The heat was just getting to the unbearable level when the first round ended and the door was pulled open from the outside, letting in a rush of cold air.
After a five-minute break, it was time to re-enter the lodge for Round 2. Another group of rocks was added to the pile in the pit. As the door closed the temperature inside the lodge was close to the level it had been just before the end of the first round and we were only getting started.
At the end of the second round I decided that a third round wasn't an option. By the end of the fourth round the men were on their hands and knees as they crawled out and collapsed on the floor.
As the last wisps of smoke trailed out of the fire pit the men left the lodge, formed a loose line and walked back into the concrete and steel of the jail. After the ceremony, it looked as if there was a slight spring to the men's step as they walked back to their cells -- after all, another escape from the jail was scheduled in two weeks.
Copyright 2004 Arizona Daily Sun
Traditional Iroquois Methods Work for Today's Farmers
Jane Mt. Pleasant, professor of horticulture and director of the
American Indian Program at Cornell University, is mining her
Iroquois heritage for planting and cultivation methods that work for
Newswise ? Most agronomists look to their laboratories,
or research farms for innovative new cropping techniques. But Jane
Mt. Pleasant, professor of horticulture and director of the American
Indian Program at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., has taken a
different path, mining her Iroquois heritage for planting and
cultivation methods that work for today's farmers.
Mt. Pleasant studies what traditionally are known as the "three
sisters": beans, corn and squash. These staples of Iroquois cropping
are traditionally grown together on a single plot, mimicking natural
systems in what agronomists call a polyculture. Though the Iroquois
technique was not developed scientifically, Mt. Pleasant notes that
it is "agronomically sound." The three sisters cropping system
embodies all the things needed to make crops grow in the Northeast,
She presented her work today (Feb. 15) at the annual meeting of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in
Seattle. The talk, "Polycultural Cropping Systems From an Indigenous
Perspective: Using Iroquois Worldview to Understand the Three
Sisters," was part of a symposium on research methods in native
science. This is the second year that such a symposium has been held
at the AAAS.
Corn and beans are used throughout the Western Hemisphere, said Mt.
Pleasant. "Both do better when they are grown together." Corn
provides protection from weeds and insects and acts as a scaffold to
support twining bean plants. The beans, in turn, produce nitrogen,
essential for plant growth. Adding squash to the mix also controls
the growth of weeds, and recycling crop residues (the "leftovers" of
a harvest) back into the soil promotes fertility. A monoculture, in
which only one crop variety is grown on a plot of land, is a
relatively recent agricultural technique, noted Mt. Pleasant. Though
it is suited to high-yield mechanized harvests, it leaves crops
vulnerable to disease and insects. A polyculture reduces the risk of
an entire harvest being wiped out in this way.
The role of the three sisters in the Iroquois diet is mirrored by
the crops' place in Iroquois worldview and culture, where they are
visualized as three siblings with very different personalities. Corn
is austere, standing straight and tall; shy Beans clings to her
legs; Squash is the "wild and impish" troublemaker. In the Iroquois
creation story, they are the seeds that issue life on Earth, and
they are woven into the laws that bind the Iroquois Confederacy. The
three sisters are thanked for the sustenance they provide in the
Thanksgiving Address recited at the beginning and end of ceremonial
Indigenous culture holds broader lessons for our relationship with
our environment as well, said Mt. Pleasant. Iroquois people have
always recognized that they are part of an ecological system, she
observed. "As we watch a lot of the ecological problems coming,"
like global warming and water contamination, "we recognize that we
have a contract" with the Earth, "not domination" over it.
This realization, she said, has fueled an upsurge in interest in
native science. "More and more young native people are ?
conventional science" as tribal colleges include native teachings in
their curriculums, said Mt. Pleasant. She noted, however, that only
a few non-Native American scientists attended last year's AAAS
symposium on the subject.
As scientists begin to recognize the connections between systems
they formerly studied in isolation, Mt. Pleasant hopes they will see
what indigenous peoples have known all along: "We're all in this
web, and when you pull on one part and it breaks, the whole web
This release was prepared by Cornell News Service science writer
intern Kate Becker.
© 2004 Newswise. All Rights Reserved.
Ready to serve
Family with 2 children on way to Kuwait, younger siblings ready to
By Jan-Mikael Patterson
The Navajo Times
OAK SPRINGS, Ariz. - Cecilia Wauneka wishes she could turn back time
so her children would stay home. But that's not the case.
Cecilia and her husband, Edison Wauneka, have two children on the way
Sgt. Jerrick Charles, 26, is in his sixth year of service with the
Marine Corps and Pvt. Michelle Wauneka, 19, completed boot camp for
the Army last summer and is currently working with intelligence.
"She's a bright kid," Edison Wauneka said about Michelle. "She was a
real good role model for the younger kids as far as their study
Jerrick Charles will be in Kuwait for about three months and Michelle
about three weeks.
"I really tried to talk Michelle out of it," Edison Wauneka
said. "But it was both their choices. Even though it's scary at times
but we have to support them.
"Sometimes I think they're safer than we are," he added.
He said they are safer because of the training and survival skills
instilled in them through boot camp.
In response to a threat or terrorism they "would at least know what
to do," Edison Wauneka said.
Now Everson Wauneka, 17, is set to go off to boot camp in July for
the Army. Everson is a student at Window Rock High School and
competes on the wrestling team.
Everson's younger brother, Braunson Wauneka, 14, and sister Lonna
Wauneka, 16, are planning to enlist into the armed forces as well
after they complete high school.
For the parents that's only a few years away.
Their eldest son, Jason Charles, was honorably discharged from the
Marine Corps. He is currently employed with Pepsi Cola.
When the United States started bombing Baghdad in March 2003, Edison
and Cecilia thought Jerrick was in Kuwait because that was what he
had told them. His parents found out later that he was on the front
"It was a surprise," Edison Wauneka said. "He told us that he did
that on purpose. He just kept it to himself."
"Then we found him in the Albuquerque Journal guarding a base in
Baghdad," Cecilia Wauneka said. The photo showed them that Jerrick
had kept his location a secret from his parents.
"I told him, 'Why didn't you tell us you were in Baghdad?'" Cecilia
recalled. "He told me, 'That's exactly why - because I knew you would
Jerrick Charles was with a company that was deployed when the bombing
began. His outfit unloaded equipment and vehicles the United States
used to search for Saddam Hussein.
Edison said when he came home for a furlough in October he told
stories of being on the front line. He was home for three months and
left for Kuwait and Baghdad on Feb. 3.
One of the troubling stories Cecilia Wauneka heard was of a friend.
"Three days into the war his company was ambushed," she said. A
member of his outfit got lost as the rest of the company fled.
"He told his commander that he wanted to go back and find him but was
told 'No,'" she said. "That bothered him. They knew where he was at,
too. But they couldn't do anything about it. They found out later
that he was tortured and then killed by the Iraqis.
"He said, 'If we could have went back we would have saved him,'" she
"When I picked him up and we were driving through Yuma (Ariz.), he
talked about it then he got quiet for a long time," Cecilia Wauneka
"I just changed the subject and talked about things going on at home
and he started talking again after a while."
Other stories had to do with skills he learned on the reservation.
"They butchered one of Saddam's llamas," Cecilia Wauneka said with a
smile. "They tired him out. I guess one the guys he was with had a
shovel, another one had an ax and he was the one who chased it. They
tired out the llama.
"They butchered it like a sheep. He was the expert in butchering,"
"We've always taught the children to set goals for themselves," she
added. "Maybe that's why it was hard to talk them out of going."
"When I knew Michelle was going I told the recruiter 'Can I enlist
too?'" Edison Wauneka laughed. "He said, 'No, you're too old.'
"I really think that's why my son re-enlisted," he added. "Because he
knew that she was going to over there. They serve different branches
but at least they'll be in the same place together.
"I think we need to be patriotic for our country and our kids,"
Edison Wauneka said. "Native Americans have always been warriors.
It's in their blood. All we can do is pray and support them because
that's the best we can do for them."
Edison Wauneka said he disagrees with President Bush's
administration. In the old days when warriors fought, the leader led
his band in battle.
"Instead of leading they're in the back telling them what to do," he
CAHUILLA: Two sisters pass on their knowledge to students
08:03 AM PST on Wednesday, February 11, 2004
By HAN KWAK / The Press-Enterprise
SAN JACINTO - The instructors were about namekwana minutes late.
That's five minutes for those who don't speak Cahuilla.
Sisters Lorina Duro and Virginia Duenaz, who are liaisons with the
Soboba Cultural Center on the Soboba Indian Reservation, are passing
on what they know of the language to students at San Jacinto Valley
Academy."I thought maybe we might not be able to keep their
attention," Duro said of the students, who range from the second to
DeeAnn Bradley / The Press-Enterprise
Xochiquetzal Medina, 10, identifies a fork and plate in Cahuilla with
laughing teacher Virginia Duenaz in back.
But the students are active in class. On a recent day, their hands
shot up when Duro asked for the name of numerous objects used as
Donna Buck, principal of the charter school, said the idea was
pitched by a graduating student last year who wanted to learn
as a second language. Luiseño is spoken by members of the Soboba
of Luiseño Indians.
"We value a second language at our school," Buck said, adding that
Spanish is offered to all students, but that a handful study other
languages as well, such as Hebrew.
However, the school could not locate a fluent Luiseño speaker to
teach the class. So Duenaz, whose grandson Angel Casarez attends the
school, offered to teach the Cahuilla language instead.
"I wanted to try it out, to see what response we get from the
children," Duenaz said.
Interested, Buck offered a 10-week class to the school's students as
an elective. Twenty-one students signed up for the class. About half
are non-Indian students, Buck said.
"A lot of them seemed to pick it up quick," Duro said of the non-
Many of the students have taken Spanish classes, so the pronunciation
of Cahuilla words comes easier because the languages share similar
sounds, Duro said.
Fourth-grader Ryan Reid said he enjoyed learning Spanish and wanted
to take on another language. He said he practices the vocabulary at
home to the confusion of his family.
"They have no clue what I'm talking about," Ryan said.
Duro said she is learning the Cahuilla language herself as a master
apprentice under her mother-in-law, Kathleen Duro.
Although the sisters' mother was from the Cahuilla reservation near
Anza and spoke to the girls with a mix of Spanish, English and
Cahuilla, Duro said they are not fluent speakers.
"I'm definitely not a fluent speaker," Duro said. "But what I've
learned I'm giving it."
Duro said she tries to teach the students as her mother-in-law
teaches her: by using repetition and visual aids.
Sometimes the lessons Duro learns are done in an everyday setting
"We just sat around and had lunch," Duro said of one session she had
with her teacher.
Those lessons are brought to the classroom in the form of song and
games such as Cahuilla bingo, a game that familiarizes students with
the translation of numbers.
Many of the children said they signed up for the class out of
curiosity but a few said they want to continue the studies.
"There's only a few people speaking it and I want to be one of those
people," said sixth-grader Anyssa Baca.
Reach Han Kwak at (909) 763-3456 or email@example.com
2004 marks the 80th anniversary of Indian Citizenship Act
By SHAWN WHITE WOLF
Helena Independent Record
As of now, there aren’t many celebrations planned for the 80th Anniversary of
the Indian Citizenship Act.
Few American Indians became citizens until the General Citizenship Act of
Later, the U.S. Congress awarded citizenship to World War I veterans. All
Indians were granted citizenship under the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.
“This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the ICA, which for the first time
gave most Native Americans the right to vote,” said Tex Hall, president of the
National Conference of American Indians.
Hall said he has taken the anniversary as a chance to mobilize Indian voters
in Arizona, South Dakota, New Mexico, Alaska, Minnesota, Michigan, Oklahoma,
California and Montana. He will have made two stops in Montana by mid-February.
Apache tribe’s ‘Erin Brockovich’ (Part Three)
Courts have no jurisdiction, Lease holders to collect back royalties
Posted: February 02, 2004 - 2:58pm EST
by: Mary Pierpoint / Correspondent / Indian Country Today
APACHE, Okla. - Emily Saupitty, now known as the Apache tribe’s ‘Erin
Brockovich’, has won the battle her mother and two of her cousins began over four
decades ago. Soon after the first of the series of stories about the plight of
the one-woman battle against big oil appeared in Indian Country Today, the
Departments of Energy, Interior and other various federal agencies contacted
Saupitty and her attorney Dennis Chappabitty to let them know that the courts have
no jurisdiction; the oil companies have to pay back royalties to Saupitty and
the landowners or face stiff fines and the possibility of paying three times
the amount currently owed.
"Dennis Chappabitty, our attorney filed papers on Thursday morning, Jan. 29,"
Saupitty said in a telephone interview. "They state that there will be no
deals and no room for negotiation, the oil companies are to pay the full amount
owed or the government will see that they pay three times the amount owed plus
penalties and interest."
Saupitty was scheduled to go to court after having papers filed against her
as the Apache tribe’s Tax Commissioner. But instead of having to show up in
court, federal agencies suddenly began calling she said, after the story of her
fight appeared in ICT.
"They told us what we knew all along," Saupitty said. "That it is the trust
responsibility of the government to protect our rights. This morning I got a
call from the Department of Energy Resources and basically confirmed that their
responsibility is to stand up for the landowner’s rights. They had explained
what each agency’s responsibility was and I asked them to make sure those
agencies knew just that. This is what we have said all along, that the trust
responsibilities to the landowners shouldn’t be controlled by the state or the oil
companies, but protected by the federal government."
Saupitty explained that what she and other landowners wanted was a solution,
not to blame anyone. They were trying to get everyone who has benefited out of
this situation to understand that she was not going to back down on her
stance to look out for the rights of herself and other tribal members who have been
"There is a model now and everybody needs to understand what ‘Trust’ means,"
Saupitty said after the phone call from Washington, D.C. "I believe now we
are all on the same page and everyone understands the situation fully."
Phone calls kept Saupitty busy throughout the day, but the biggest surprise
of all was yet to come. Carl Calkofper, an independent geophysicist, had
studied the documents and production from the area in question. New calculations
from the federal government now put the amount owed to the landowners at over $1
billion. "It was much more than we originally expected," Saupitty said. "In
taxes alone there is over $1 million owed by the oil companies and that is
before interest and penalties."
Another bombshell dropped on the oil companies was a missing document that
appeared. Magnum Hunter Resources, the oil company that was behind filing a
lawsuit against Saupitty as tax commissioner may be facing a lawsuit themselves.
"We found that they hadn’t paid taxes since 1992 through the present time,"
Now armed with the missing parts of the puzzle and new evidence that Saupitty
said she would disclose to ICT as soon as she is legally able to means
landowners may see the full amount owed to them within the next week and a half.
"I wouldn’t be surprised to see payments made to landowners by Monday or
Tuesday of next week," she said. "What it comes down to is that they signed an
agreement and the federal government is going to make sure that they stick to
their word. If they are men of honor then they will honor the agreements they
signed. If they don’t the federal government may ask for three times the amount
owed and we will ask for the stiffest penalties that can be enforced."
Contractually the federal government can ask for up to three times the amount
owed if a contractor, in this case the oil companies, doesn’t uphold their
end of the contract. By taking the issue out of the court system and the State
of Oklahoma and putting it into the hands of the federal government the oil
companies Saupitty said have little recourse and will have to pay immediately or
face even more charges and interest and penalties than they already owe the
small group of landowners.
Magnum Hunter, Texaco and five other oil companies will have to now pay or
face consequences of a much larger scope. "If they don’t honor this agreement,"
Saupitty said. "They are going to find that leases not only in Indian country,
but throughout the world may be in question. If they don’t honor our leases,
who is going to sign new ones with them and won’t the ones who have current
leases begin to question whether these companies are being honest with them?"
In a tearful voice, Saupitty expressed her gratitude to ICT for getting the
story of their battle out to readers. "I know the Lord opened this door to us
and I can’t tell the editors how grateful I am for letting the people know what
was happening here," she said. "And I think of my mother who tried so hard to
leave her children and her children’s children an inheritance and a legacy
for the future. All of us have prayed so hard for so long and those who will be
getting paid want to support churches and orphanages and take care of those
around them. To all of us this proves that if you believe in the Lord and what
is right, you will reap what you sow."
Next in the series: The battle isn’t over with for Saupitty and others living
in the area. Environmental issues now come to the forefront as the group
again takes on big oil and the State of Oklahoma for damage to the land that has
resulted in sickness and deaths among relatives and neighbors. Saupitty also
reveals new evidence in the case exclusively to Indian Country Today.
From Alamogordo News
Keepers of the fire
By Elva K. Österreich, Staff Writer
Jan 31, 2004, 11:39 pm
Fire is not the enemy of the Mescalero Apache people.
“Traditionally, fire is respected and is a gift from our Creator, not an
enemy,” said Naomi Saniz, Mescalero FireWise Program Coordinator.
Saniz said the members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe are the “keepers of the
“We, as the Mescalero Apache Tribe have committed ourselves to efforts that
will help prevent fires and their after-effects such as lives, property and
income lost through fire damage, floods, mud slides and destroyed watersheds,”
Friday, Jan. 30, people of Mescalero joined others in an event celebrating
their ability to protect the Mescalero community from fire.
National FireWise Recognition Program Manager Judith Leraas-Cook visited
Mescalero for the award event. Leraas-Cook told guests at the event Mescalero is
an example for the nation.
Coordinator Thora Padilla said the tribe didn’t always start out as a fire
wise community. She said the tribe managed the forest but not always with an eye
to the community needs.
But, Padilla said, “More than 11,000 acres of projects have been completed
since FY (fiscal year ) 1999.”
“Protecting out homelands,” Padilla said. “It’s not just homes and
properties. It’s our forests.”
Some of the things Mescalero did to earn national recognition include hiring
a wildland urban interface specialist, said Dan Ware of the New Mexico State
Forestry Division. The specialist assessed the danger risk to community and
helped identify things the community can do from basic to involved.
The FireWise Task Force maintains and tracks the program’s progress, Ware
Mescalero held a FireWise Community Day in 2003, Ware said. They did a
community assessment including white tail and elk in the Carrizo and Three Rivers
areas with technical assistance from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Pulling everything together, Mescalero developed a far reaching plan with
assistance from BIA and other surrounding agencies, Ware said.
“One of the biggest thing this community has done as a model for rest of the
state,” Ware said, “is it’s really good at implementing thinning projects and
slash pile burning projects. You can see throughout the area all the
Ware said, “The Mescaleros have been very pro-active. Really the Mescalero
Tribe did a good job in initiating projects, strategic fuel breaks, thinning
projects, hazardous fuels reduction, and are a strong partner in Ruidoso
interface work group.”
BIA/Mescalero liaison Linda Kabealo, takes a Student Conservation Association
Team to houses in the Mescalero area and evaluates homes as to their fire
safety. She can then make recommendations to the residents and FireWise team as
to how to best protect the home.
Kabealo said two new campaigns are in the works for 2004. The “Beware and
Prepare” campaign and the “I’m Concerned” campaign. The FireWise Task Force
also has FireWise videos to share with community members, Kabealo said.
Mescalero and the nation have a long way to go in terms of preventing fire
and managing forests, said BIA Forest Manager Bernie Ryan.
“We are at the beginning of a long path here,” Ryan said. “We have to eat
the elephant one bite at a time.”
Nation-wide fire numbers are increasing dramatically in the size of the fires
and the amount of damage they cause, Ryan said. Reasons for the increase
include changing vegetation patterns, an increasing amount of wildland interface
area and unpredictable drought cycles.
“Thinning does work,” Ryan said. Thinning creates safety blocks and escape
routes, he added.
Lawmakers OK crackdown on fake Indian art
Misrepresentation law will finally get some teeth
SANTA FE — The House Judicial Affairs Committee passed a joint memorial this
week requesting more active enforcement of a federal truth-in-advertising law
prohibiting misrepresentation of Indian art.
The original draft asked that the federal Department of Justice and local
district attorneys offices in New Mexico take responsibility for enforcement of
the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, rather than the Consumer Protection
Division of the state Attorney General's Office, whose job it has been in the
The request was amended by its sponsor, Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, at
the insistence of Attorney General Patricia Madrid to be addressed to the
Consumer Protection Division.
"She's wanting to keep all the control in her office," Lundstrom said.
"Nobody has been willing to take responsibility for this law for 14 years. Now, the
attorney general is stepping up to the plate."
Several artists and art retailers testified to the committee about the
increasing devaluation of authentic Indian art by a constant stream of cheap
imitations on domestic and international markets. Navajo jeweler Tommy Jackson said
he learned that his work and his signature were being copied when an imitation
of his bracelet designs was modeled on the cover of Bazaar Magazine.
"They are passing this work off as their own and there is nothing we can do
about it," Jackson said. "This is taking food out of our kids' mouths."
The wholesale importation of imitation Indian art and jewelry from Asia has
had a devastating effect, not only on artists and retailers, but on whole
Native American communities where art comprises a large part of the local economy,
said Lionel McKinney, owner of a Gallup jewelry design company.
"We've enacted labeling laws to protect us from foreign imports. We've
enacted marketing laws to protect us from fake Indian arts and crafts. But we still
haven't seen any enforcement," McKinney said. "The flood of foreign-made
imitations coming in is beyond belief and beyond our control. It's impossible for
us to compete against this very saturated retail market."
Rep. Ron Godbey, R-Cedar Crest, asked why the state executive agencies were
not addressing the issue yet.
"If we already have the law on the books, why do we have to pass a joint
memorial asking that it be enforced," Godbey asked.
Lundstrom explained that the Attorney General's Office has been under budget
and manpower constraints for some time and that such reports have in the past
been considered lower priorities.
Though local law enforcement agencies have the same resources to address the
issue, policy under current state law requires them to refer violations of the
act to the Attorney General's Office, said Ellis Tanner, owner of the Ellis
Tanner Trading Co. in Gallup.
"The frustrating part of it is that Native American artists don't know who to
complain to," Tanner said.
The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 made it illegal "to sell any art or
craft product in a manner that falsely suggests that it is Indian produced, an
Indian product or the product of a particular Indian, an Indian tribe or an
Indian arts and crafts organization."
It includes a fine of up to $250,000 and a five-year prison term for a
first-time violation by an individual. Businesses could face a fine of up to $1
million for a first-time violation.
Posted on Sat, Jan. 17, 2004
DORREEN YELLOW BIRD COLUMN: Grandmother Philomene always will be with me
When I was a child, I liked to watch my grandmother comb her long, black
hair. It was a ritual she enjoyed because she smiled and sometimes hummed softly
to herself while she stroked her hair with that wide-toothed comb.
That memory of lying on the bed and staring up at her combing her hair is on
my mind today. She seems to be here.
My grandmother, Philomene Little Sioux, was an important part of my life and
the lives of our family. She influenced how I think and live. My memories of
her are snapshots that seem to bring her back. At times, I see her combing her
hair and twisting it in a tight roll on the back of her head. Then, I see her
standing at the wood stove, feeding the fire with chunks of wood or dipping
warm water from the reservoir beside the stove into a basin so we could wash up.
And I even can smell eggs cooking and salt pork frying.
My grandmother always rose with the sun. When it was peeking over the hills
and the red glow of the day was touching the big rocks above the house, she'd
be preparing for the day.
The house stood on a hill below a hill. The deep coulee surrounding the house
looked like a half moon. Three springs converge in the valley filling a creek
bed that runs toward the Missouri River. That's before the lake turned lazy
In the spring, after a hard winter with lots of snow, the melting white
creates waterfalls in every crevice and small ravine. The icy water would race over
jutting rocks and sand to the creek below. These waterfalls emptied
high-ground snow into the coulee, making a sound and sight that resonated throughout
the area. I would stand beside my grandmother and watch the newly created falls.
Philomene was a strong woman. Ritual and culture had to be absolutely
correct. There was no halfway about it when she was teacher. My father would agree.
In fact, he would tell us that if we couldn't do the ceremonies correctly, we
shouldn't do them at all. Those words would come back to haunt us because when
much of the knowledge was buried, we were unsure of our steps.
I remember when we gathered for the last rite for my father. During that
Death Feast, my grandmother told me to prepare my father's food for the journey.
She watched me like a hawk from the sidelines. I remember glancing over at her
as I prepared his dish. I was nervous. With the help of my two brothers, the
ceremony was completed.
My grandmother learned from her father, Little Sioux. In his later years,
when it was difficult for him to take care of himself, she took care of him. His
wife, Helen, died years before him.
He was strict, my mother and grandmother told me. In fact, he constantly
chided his daughter, Philomene, but she learned the ways.
He lived when rituals such as sun dancing, fasting and cleansing sweats were
commonplace. He was a healer and carried a Sacred Pipe.
I don't remember when my grandmother became a healer for the people, but I do
remember this: We were camped in Fort Yates, N.D., at the powwow, and it was
a hot summer day. We went to powwows and ceremonies often in those early
years. As I stepped into our tent that day, she was sitting in a chair with several
older people sitting at her feet, and they were listening to her. I knew they
came for healing.
Some simple things bring me a clear image of my grandmother. Sometimes, when
I hear a Sahnish song, I will hear her singing. Sometimes, when I can't
pronounce a Sahnish word, I listen for my grandmother voice and hear the Sahnish
words. When I see hawks flying with wings extended, I can feel her standing
beside me watching the bird. Combing my hair sometimes reminds me of her. Most
important, when my lips touch the stem of the Pipe, I remember her.
I am thankful that she visits me in my memories and dreams. Nahwah, atika'.
Yellow Bird writes columns Tuesday and Saturday. Reach her by phone at
780-1228 or (800) 477-6572, extension 228, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2004 Grand Forks Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Preserving the Hopi language
By Stan Bindell
Special to the Observer
POLACCA — Anita Poleahla, who has produced CDs and books on the Hopi
language, is the new Hopi language teacher at Hopi Junior/Senior High School.
Poleahla is teaching both junior high and senior high students the Hopi
“I’m excited and optimistic about teaching the Hopi language here,” she
said. “I’m thankful for this opportunity because we’ve lost a lot of the language
over the years, not only the language, but the lifestyles.” Poleahla said
she does not want to see Hopi youth deprived of their language or Hopi lifestyle.
“We used to catch frogs and haul water, but now we have the new conveniences,”
she said. “I hope we share the Hopi ways with our children. Children have a
right to know who we are.”
Poleahla will teach all four Hopi dialects: First Mesa, Second Mesa, Third
Mesa and Mishongnovi.
She previously served as director of Hopi Head Start and made sure that the
Hopi language was part of their curriculum.
“We were utilizing the language curriculum there. I just wanted to take it to
the next level,” she said.
Poleahla and former Hopi Chairman Ferrell Secakuku have a CD out with eight
songs in the Hopi language. It can be purchased through Tsurkashovi, Hopi Fine
Arts or Canyon Records.
Poleahla has written four Hopi language books about rabbits and the mouse.
Limited editions may be available at the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office.
“I selected the rabbit and mice because they are more appropriate as opposed
to other animals that have religious significance,” she said. “I am working
on a new character: The squirrel or chipmunk.”
Poleahla is also developing a Hopi jeopardy game.
“Language is my passion. I enjoy this,” she said.
Poleahla has also become known for giving Hopi language presentations at the
Museum of Northern Arizona and other locations.
Poleahla has been involved with the Hopi Lavayi language project for the past
couple years. The project assessed the status of the Hopi language and has
helped schools with inserting Hopi language into their curriculums.
Poleahla uses rabbit and mice characters in stories to teach students about
the Hopi language. She has worked with various professors and used technology,
such as digital cameras, to come up with Hopi language curriculums that help
Poleahla invites people from the community to contact her so they can become
involved with teaching Hopi to the students.
She has worked with Miguel Vasquez, professor of Southwest Pueblo Ethnology
at Northern Arizona University; Kristen Husinga from the Hopi Cultural
Preservation Office; Dawa Taylor from the Hopi Lavayi Project; Emory Sekaquaptewa,
professor from the University of Arizona; and the Hopi Cultural Resource Advisory
Task Team, which is mostly comprised of elders from the various Hopi villages.
Poleahla is studying to earn her doctorate in educational leadership from
Coastal University in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Born in Keams Canyon, she was raised in Keams Canyon and Polacca. She
graduated from Ganado High School before earning a bachelor of arts degree in
behavioral sciences from NAU.
She earned two master’s from NAU, one in educational leadership and another
in curriculum development.
Poleahla’s mother died when she was 5, so her paternal grandmother, Koyamu
Poleahla, raised her.
Her grandmother taught her the Hopi language and ways.
“She taught me the language. Now, I’m part of the Woman Society. I do my
dances and make the piki,” she said. “You can balance the western ways with Hopi
culture. It takes work and support from your family. I owe so much to my
family and Ferrell Secakuku. I couldn’t do it without them.”
(Stan Bindell is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)
Traditional medicine in Indian country
Posted: December 22, 2003 - 10:43am EST
by: Roberto Dansie / Correspondent / Indian Country Today
Given the wide diversity among the tribes in Indian country, to try to find
the elements in common seems to be an impossible task. This is particularly so
when it comes to health practices and traditional medicine.
This attempt is aggravated when we see the superficial observations of
anthropologists and other external investigators who have been unable to grasp even
the most basic concepts of healing in Indian country. Their limitations have
been not so much in the facts that they have collected, but in their inability
to see the interconnection of such facts with the community, cultural
perspectives and world-view of the indigenous people. The other limitation - and
perhaps the most serious one - has been their inability to see traditional healers
for what they are - extraordinary healers with a millenary knowledge - and
allow them to speak their own word. After all, it has been these traditional
healers who have kept their communities healthy for thousands of years and have
managed to keep this knowledge alive under very difficult circumstances.
A few years ago, I decided to honor our traditional healers by identifying
the common healing elements that I had found among different tribes. I focused
on the common characteristics that I found in the Huichol Indians of Mexico and
some tribes of California. I figured that if there were some common elements
among these tribes; then it was likely that these elements could be found
among other tribes. I came up with 10 characteristics. Today the Indian Health
Services has found these characteristics in more than 300 tribes.
These common elements don’t take away the diversity and uniqueness that we
find in each one of our tribes. What they do, is give us an insight into the
wisdom of Indianhood, the power which has given the indigenous people
10 common healing elements in Indian country:
* Life comes from the Great Spirit, and all healing begins with Him.
* Healing is due to the harmony between body, heart, mind, and soul.
* Our relationships are an essential component of our health.
* Death is not our enemy, but a natural phenomenon of life.
* Disease is not only felt by the individual, but also by the family.
* Spirituality and emotions are just as important as the body and the mind.
* Mother Earth contains numerous remedies for our illnesses.
* Healing practices have been preserved throughout the generations.
* Traditional healers can be either men or women, young or old.
* Illness is an opportunity to purify one’s soul.
It is worth noticing that modern physicians are starting to pay attention to
some of these characteristics. For instance, specialists in cardiology have
concluded that our relations - one of the key areas of ancestral healing - our
sense of love and intimacy, is more relevant than any other factor that medical
researchers have studied or emphasized in their practice. In the words of Dr.
Dean Ornish, leading expert in the field of heart disease:
"I am not aware of any other factor in medicine that has a greater impact on
our survival than the healing power of love and intimacy. Not diet, not
smoking, not exercises, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery."
It seems that the best of our mainstream physicians are wising up. They are
beginning to follow in the footsteps of our Indian healers. Let us hope that
they continue in this direction and rather than being technicians of diseases
become healers of people.
Roberto Dansie is a clinical psychologist. In 1997 he received the golden
medallion from the National Indian Health Board for his contributions to health
in Indian country. He lives in northern California.
Court: Medicine man same as clergy
By The Associated Press
Dec 4, 2003, 12:53 am
DENVER (AP) — A federal judge has found that a Native American medicine man
is a spiritual leader and so has the same clergy privilege as leaders in other
religious faiths, but that won’t make a difference in the case involving
murder suspect Carlos Herrera.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger found this week that federal courts
recognize a common-law clergy-communicant privilege and that a Native American
medicine man or healer can qualify as clergy for the purposes of the privilege.
But she said in the case involving Herrera, the confidences shared with
medicine man Robert Cervantes, 37, were not in pursuit of spiritual guidance and so
were not protected.
Herrera has been accused of the February 2001 beating death of his former
lover, Brenda Chavez of Aztec.
Investigators had sought information from Cervantes about Herrera, and then
Herrera, 40, confessed because of information they had gotten from Cervantes,
according to Durango attorney Robert Duthie.
Herrera then was charged in the woman’s death.
Duthie had been seeking a ruling from the court to suppress Cervantes’
statements and Herrera’s confession.
But Krieger concluded that while federal courts recognize a common-law
clergy-communicant privilege and that a Native American medicine man or healer can
qualify as clergy, those privileges don’t apply in this case.
The judge said for that privilege to apply, the statements to a medicine man
must have been made for the purposes of obtaining spiritual guidance, and that
was not the case with Herrera.
“There is no evidence that the defendant requested a ceremony or blessing,
that he presented Robert Cervantes with tobacco to signify the spiritual nature
of his role, or that a ceremony or blessing addressing the defendant’s misdeed
was ever performed,” Krieger wrote.