Youth and Education News
April 28, 2004, Issue 132 Volume 1
"In Alaska, the beaches are slumping so much, people are having to move houses. In Tuktoyaktuk, the land is starting to go under water. The glaciers are melting and the permafrost is melting. There are new species of birds and fish and insects showing up. The Arctic is a barometer for the health of the world. If you want to know how healthy the world is, come to the Arctic and feel its pulse." Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Inuit
State Honors Meskwaki Code Talkers
The State of Iowa has finally honored the Iowa Native Americans that helped win World War II. Dewey Roberts was among the eight Sac and Fox Tribal members who spoke their native languages in a secret code never broken by the German or Japanese military during World War II. Their heroism was instrumental in winning the war and freeing oppressed people throughout the world. "Our own Meskwakis had the folks that were involved with [code talking] and paid dearly with their health and their lives and in saving countless lives with performing this code talk," said Roberts' nephew, Robin Roberts. Roberts is now working with Iowa's senators to get all of Iowa's Native code talkers medals and national recognition.
On fifth birthday, Nunavut struggles with challenges
On April 1, 1999, the Northwest Territories were separated into two territories and made the dream of the Northwest Territories' Inuit a reality. The new Nation, Nunavut, and it's citizens, the Nunavummiuit, reflect on the challenges ahead:
I 60% of the population is under 25, the birthrate is double the national average, and only 25% of Nunavummiuit students finish high school;
I In some communities, people face a 10 year wait for housing;
I In some communities Inuit unemployment is near 70%, while non-Inuit unemployment is rare;
I Few Inuktitut daycares or school teachers can instruct a class in the Inuit language;
I Crime, drug and alcohol abuse is increasing;
I There are shortages of doctors, nurses, specialists, and other health care workers;
I Suicide rates, especially for young males, remains far higher than the national average.
Former commissioner George Qulaut of Igloolik says despite its shortcomings, there's much to be proud of in the territory. Qulaut says Nunavummiut don't always agree on how things should go, but believes the debate makes for good government. "I think the best part is watching the arguments and making it into a better government. I think that's very healthy and that part I'm very proud of," he says.
Map may show that the Aztecs once lived north of Hopi tribe
16th-19th maps currently on display at UCLA indicate an ancient Mesoamerican presence and their migration routes in today's United States. The exhibit, “Aztlanahuac: Mesoamerica In North America,” also includes chronicles, codices, annals and interviews regarding oral traditions that address ancient connections between peoples of the North and South. “It’s a project that began when a Hopi elder passed a map at a summit in, I believe, 1981,” said Roberto Rodriguez. “For some reason all this information was never made public.” Rodriguez and Patrisia Gonzales spent years exploring the possibilities of the Mesoamerican's living north of the Hopi. After researching archives, rare books, listening to oral histories, and studying diets, the two are convinced of an ancient Mesoamerican presence. Rodriguez will be the first to admit that all this might not hold up to science, but he’s not worried about that. “We couldn't care less what an archaeologist might think,” he said.
For the Maya, the News From Mars Is Not Good
When NASA announced Mars once harbored conditions necessary for life to exist, many Mayans in the Yucatan began fearing another crackpot invasion. Because of Erich Von Daniken's 1968 book, "The Chariots of the Gods," people around the world now believe the Maya descended from ancient space travelers. And so they flock to Mayan ruins looking for telltale signs of alien visitation. The theory offered goes something like this: An advanced Martian civilization destroyed its environment so completely that Mars began to die. Desperate to save themselves, Martians constructed spaceships and fled to the nearest inhabitable planet, Earth. They landed in the Yucatan and built the pyramids with their "extraterrestrial" technology. In 1987, thousands who believed this theory gathered around Mayan pyramids for a "Harmonic Convergence. "I'm not sure what they believed in," said Lupita Cantu, a Mayan housekeeper. "But I know they didn't believe in wearing clean clothes. They smelled bad." Some feel the Martian theory denigrates the intellect and humanity of the more than 1,000,000 Mayan in the Yucatan. "There are some people who can't tell the difference between astronomy and astrology," Alberto Ek Can says. "St. Augustine reminded us that sometimes the greatest truths are the simplest. Some people forget that. Some people get the facts mixed up with their wishful thinking."
Researchers Find Important Mayan Remains
U.S. and Guatemalan archeologists have discovered text covered Mayan monuments at a ceremonial ball court in northern Guatemala. The discovery is providing new information about the final years before the collapse of the ancient Mayan civilization. The ballcourt is at Cancuen Palace which was built between 765 and 790 A.D. along the banks of the Passion River.
Rock art shows Comanches armored horses for battle
Rock art discovered in Kansas by Mark Mitchell shows that about 300 years ago, Comanche warriors layered heavy buffalo hides over their horses and themselves, then rode through enemy lines the same way armored tanks do today. They were unstoppable. "We knew orally from our ancestors about the use of armor on horses, but this confirms our oral traditions," said Jimmy Arterberry, a historic-preservation officer for the Comanche Similar evidence of armor-clad horses in Indian wars have been found in rock art on cave walls and on stones in Alberta, Canada, and in Wyoming.
National museum transfer completed
The transfer of more than 800,000 objects from New York City to the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian is finally complete. Over the four years of transferring items:,
f Each truck leaving New York's George Gustav Heye Center was blessed before and after each trip;
f Special shipping mounts were custom made to protect each item en route, from BB-sized baskets to delicate headdresses, stone thrones and a totem pole, the largest single object;
f Each shipment traveled with a federal marshal on board;
f If lined up side-by-side, the crates the objects came in would extend for more than five miles.
The National Museum of the American Indian’s main building, on the National Mall in Washington, will open its doors to the public in September.
Join Native Village at the Smithsonian in September!: NAME and Native Village at Smithsonian
Dennis Banks speaks out
Dennis Banks, national chairman of the American Indian Movement, recently spoke to a standing-room audience as part of the Native American Lecture Series at the University of New Mexico. Among his observations and comments about the murder of Anna Mae Aquash:
* The FBI’s informant network was responsible for spreading rumors that Aquash was an FBI informant.
* The FBI knew who shot Anna Mae Pictou Aquash at the time it happened 28 years ago.
* Banks linked Aquash’s death with her knowledge of the events surrounding the rape of a Lakota teenager, allegedly by William Janklow.
* John Graham, charged in Vancouver, British Columbia, with first-degree murder in the case, was offered a deal by the FBI three weeks ago. "If he gave up the AIM leadership, they would let him walk on the Anna Mae murder," Banks said. "They are going to point the finger at the American Indian Movement. If they want to point the finger at Dennis Banks, bring it on."
Banks is currently on tour to promote his new book, "Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement."
First Grader. Model Student. Great-Grandfather.
Kimani Nganga Maruge is living proof that an old man, even one who leans heavily on a cane and cannot see or hear too well, can learn new tricks. Maruge, 84, is a great-grandfather who never spent a day in school. His own father had insisted that he look after the family's herd of livestock. But all that changed when the Kenyan government declared a year ago that primary school education would be free through grade 8. Mr. Maruge, with his gray beard and weathered face, was among the first students to enter first grade at Kapkenduiywa Primary School. At first, the other students were amused by Mr. Maruge's presence, but he dismisses his critics with a wave of his cane. "Let them who want to make fun of me do it," he said. "I will continue to learn." Now the children feel honored to having a "Mzee," the Swahili name for respected elders, as a classmate. "We learn a lot from him," said Mr. Chemworem, his teacher. "He's like a history book." Mr. Maruge is also an inspiration to his younger classmates when it comes to study habits, as well. "Be like the old man," Mrs. Mathenge told her class of 6-year-olds. "Some of you come here to sleep. See how he reads his books? You ought to learn like him."
Blackfeet chief honors Bozeman teachers
Earl Old Person, chief of the Blackfeet nation, honored three Bridger Alternative High School, MT teachers by giving them Indian names. Old Person, 75, wore a large eagle-feather war bonnet and banged a traditional hand-held drum as he sang. Students listened respectfully and applauded for the honored teachers.
Richard Galli, history teacher, was named Spi-pita, which means High Eagle.
Jan Benham, English teacher was given the name Bird Woman.
Dave Swingle, assistant principal, was named Leading Star.
Revitalizing Native languages Americorps *VISTA makes a difference
Today many tribes are faced with the possibility of forever losing their culture, customs and language. It is a plight American Indians have been struggling with since contact with Europeans. Jennifer Sutherland, a 22-year-old Gros Ventre/Ojibway at the Fort Belkap Reservation, MT, is fighting to save her culture. Sutherland, also known as Red Elk Woman, is an outreach volunteer for the National Society for American Indian Elderly’s VISTA Reservation Placement Project. She is currently writing grants, recruiting volunteers, and creating programs to revive the culture of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. One of her planned projects is a summer language immersion camp to help revive the Mitchif language. "I want to help my people however I can," Sutherland said. " I think that’s why I’m here today working for our elders. They’re the key to our culture surviving, and have taught me so much. It’s only right that I do what I can to better their lives."
To learn more about NSAIE, visit http://www.nsaie.org
Microsoft to launch Inuktitut language programs
Nunavummiut will be able to use Microsoft windows in the Inuktitut language by the end of the year. The computer company is developing some existing software that will allow the Inuit to click on files and programs labeled in their traditional language.
Oneida Nation Makes Plan To Help Members Learn Oneida
The Oneida Nation has outlined a language immersion plan for tribal members to help revive their declining language. The nation will hire a fluent Oneida speaker to help instruct tribal members, and a teacher certification program will be developed to expand the number of Oneida-speaking teachers. The plan calls for all 15,000 Oneida members around the world to speak Oneida fluently now and for seven generations to come.
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