Youth and Education News
October 20, 2004, Issue 140 Volume 4
"It's really important to go and vote and let your voice be heard. If I didn't vote, my voice wouldn't be heard." Irene James, 60, Lummi Nation
Amphibians Threatened Worldwide
Amphibians everywhere are in serious trouble and up to a third of species are threatened with extinction. Scientists say this is an ominous message for other creatures, including humans. They warn that amphibians are the biological ''canaries in the coal mine'' because their skin is highly sensitive to changes in the environment. In short, they die firs,t and others follow.
The Global Amphibian Assessment says:
At least 9 species of frogs, toads and salamanders, have become extinct since 1980;
113 more have not been reported in the wild in recent years and are believed to have vanished;
1,856 amphibian species, or 32%, are threatened with extinction;
43% of all amphibian species are in decline;
Fewer than 1% are rising in population;
27% are stable;
The rest are not known.
Air and water pollution, habitat destruction, climate change, invasive species and consumer demand are the biggest global threats;
Poverty-ridden Haiti has the highest percentage of threatened amphibians: 92% of its species facing extinction;
In the Americas, the Caribbean and Australia, a highly infectious fungal disease called chytridiomycosis is taking a big toll on amphibians.
''Amphibians are one of nature's best indicators of overall environmental health,'' said Russell Mittermeier, president of International World Conservation Union, one of the world's top environment bodies. ''Their catastrophic decline serves as a warning that we are in a period of significant environmental degradation." The study adds to an alarming body of evidence that Earth is facing a sixth wave of ''mass extinctions,'' the first since the dinosaurs perished 65,000,000 years ago. But this round of die-offs is not due to natural causes; it is man-made. More than 500 scientists from over 60 countries contributed to the report.
U.S. to recognize tribe for wetlands efforts today
Washington: Jamestown S'Klallam tribal members have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their wetlands restoration efforts. The wetlands were restored in the Sequim Bay watershed. A wide array of wildlife including an endangered run of summer chum salmon, waterfowl, raptors and amphibians will benefit from the wetland restoration
2 tribes join firm for wind-energy project
CA: Superior Renewable Energy company from Texas plans to erect at least 38 large wind turbines on the Campo and Ewiiaapaayp reservations. Each three-blade turbine would be taller than a 20-story building and generate up to two megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 2,000 homes. Construction could begin next summer, and the turbines could be producing power by December 2005.
Professor pleads for weeds
Indiana: During a recent keynote address at Indiana University titled "Weeds Shall Overcome: Ending Our War on Nature'" Marti Crouch advocated returning to a simple lifestyle of basic necessities, such as eating organic food and coexisting with nature. The former associate professor at IU believe weeds and wildflowers are simply a state of mind. "The first thing I learned about weeds -- weeds are beautiful," Crouch said. "Aesthetics is something we learn. The second lesson I learned: you can eat (certain) weeds. There is food right out there on the edge of the lawn." Crouch believes the self-loathing and hate people often project onto weaker species is problematic for animal and plant life in general. She gained insight into the "war on weeds" while working with migrant strawberry pickers and observed how industrial agriculture used poisons to killed unwanted plants. "We have to kill to eat, but why the chemical weapons?" she asked. "It's warfare of hate when you only have to strike once to kill all your weeds. Various species are suffering ill health and sorrow from feeling alone in the world."
Scientists Learn How Dinosaurs Slept
England: Scientists have unearthed the remains of a perfectly preserved 130,000,000-year-old new species of dinosaur in China. The species was curled up with its head tucked under the forearm similar to how modern birds sleep. ''This is the first report of sleeping behavior in dinosaurs,'' scientist Xing Xu said. ''We've never had any other information about a dinosaur sleeping.'' Dubbed Mei long, which means ''soundly sleeping dragon'' in Chinese, the dinosaur is about 21 inches long and its features indicate its avian origins. ''It is one of the most complete skeletons I have ever seen. It is a perfect preservation. We have almost every bone in the skeleton,'' Xu explained. ''There is no disturbance. The body is arranged in a lifelike posture.'' Unlike other dinosaurs found with their neck extended back in a classic death pose, Mei long seemed to be sleeping contentedly when it died. ''What you can see from the skeleton is that it died peacefully, quickly,'' Xu said. Xu's research appears in the science journal Nature.
Mount St. Helens Volcanic Eruptions: 1980 vs. Now
The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, located 100 miles south of Seattle, Washington, was so powerful it blew off the top of the mountain. Today the volcano is rumbling again. Mount St. Helens, which is a young volcano "has a history of large and very explosive eruptions, which makes it a pretty dangerous volcano," said research scientist Tom Pierson. When it erupted in 1980:
E 5.1 earthquake triggered the powerful blast that destroyed the top 1,300 feet of the volcano;
E Huge waves of fire-hot debris traveled at 200 miles an hour, snapping 150-foot trees like brittle straws and clear-cutting 220 square miles of forest. A photograph from the scene shows what looks like hairs on a dog. On closer inspection, the image shows 6,000 trees blown over in one direction;
E The blast quickly melted the ice on top of the mountain, sending an estimated 46,000,000,000 gallons of water down its side in a combination of mudflow and flooding;
E Within 15 minutes an ash cloud had soared 80,000 feet. The ash turned the morning into darkest night—the day later became known as Black Sunday;
E The ash blanketed 22,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana;
E 57 people were killed, including David Johnston, the USGS geologist who first announced the eruption.
Northern California Indian Development Council
A large number of Indian artists live in isolated areas. To assist these artists, the Northern California Indian Development Council founded the American Indian Art and Gift Shop at 241 F Street, Eureka, California. The Gift Shop assists Indian artists and crafts people by providing an expanded retail market for their products. The work of over 75 Indian artists is currently represented in the shop, as well as many non-local Indian artists and craftspeople. The shop is also an ideal retail training ground for Indian people needing training and work experience to enter the job market.
Learn more: http://www.ncidc.org/gifthome.htm
Far from home, Oklahoma soldiers hold pow wow in Iraq
Nearly 20% of the Army's 120th Engineer Combat Battalion are Native American. In September, the soldiers held a Native American pow wow to promote cultural understanding of their heritage while gathering together other Native Americans serving in Iraq. To make the event happen by deadline, soldiers were appointed to subcommittees. Native dress, jewelry, and other essential regalia had to be sent from families back home, and dances and events had to be organized and rehearsed. Highlights of the festivities included storytelling, dancing, music, a class on pow wow etiquette, and the chance to sample traditional food. The ceremonies were also accompanied by traditional Native American games, such as the tomahawk throw and stickball.
''I was brought up in a home where the native culture, the native spirit is very, very alive. So being away from it for a long time brings you down when you think about the pow wows back home. Being involved with it makes you feel really good about yourself." Spc. George D. Macdonald, Chickasaw.
''We're brought up with [pow wows]. The beat of the drum is a part of the heartbeat of a Native American. We all joined together; it was just like being at home." Debra K. Mooney, Choctaw
Inuk woman trained hard to win Everest trip
Kuujjuaq: 42-year-old Lisa Qupiqualuk may become the first Inuk to climb to the base of Mount Everest. The Quebec woman earned the opportunity by defeating three other contenders in a 20-kilometre race in Kuujjuaq. Qupiqualuk says one thought kept playing over and over in her mind during the race: "I kept thinking of Nepal, Nepal, I'm going to Nepal," she says. Qupiqualuk believes climbing Mt. Everest means more than just being the first Inuk to climb. "We are capable to taking part in world affairs and this is just one way of doing it," she says. The climb will happen next March. Lisa is being sponsored by the University of Ottawa and the Makivik Corporation.
Back to Back
Wyoming: Wyoming Indian High is located on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Last year the Lady Chiefs of Wyoming Indian High School won the State 2-A Basketball Championship title for the first time. This past March, they did it again and now have back-to-back titles. “It felt good, because the boys always got the attention, even though we have made it to state every year except for three years over the past 15 years,” said head coach Aleta Moss. “The girls work just as hard as the boys, and they deserve to win, too.” The school’s boys team, the Chiefs, gained national attention when a highly acclaimed 2002 documentary, “Chiefs,” focused on the players during the season they won their seventh state championship. Now the Lady Chiefs finally have the respect they, too, deserve. The girls team’s success has resonated across the reservation, which is made up of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes. Player Diana Soundingsides sees the positive effects on the children of the community. “All the kids see us and want to be like us, and they look up to us,” Soundingsides said.
New York: The Walter Payton Award, given to the Division I-AA's best player, rests at Jamaal Branch's home on Cape Cod. He broke the NCAA Division I-AA single-season rushing mark by gaining 2,326 yards. Newspaper clippings prove that his team had perfect season and won the Division I-AA title game. "Still," he says, "it's just like a dream..." Jamaal Branch is Wampanoag Indian on his mother's side and African-American on his father's side. When he left home to play football for Colgate, his grades plummeted. He missed his hometown, with its deep Native American roots and its multitude of family members. So he went home, immersed himself in work, and then woke up one day realizing he wanted to return to Colgate and rejoin the team. Coach Dick Biddle accepted him right away. "He's a gentleman," Biddle said. "I don't know if you can use those words these days the way the world is. But he's well-mannered and he cares about people." Before games Branch often wears a medicine pouch filled with items that symbolize his grandfather, Vernon Pocknett, who was Wampanoag chief until he died in 1999. When he earns his Colgate diploma, Branch, an education major, will be the first in his family to graduate from college, making his grandfather proud. But as for football, Coach Biddle says the things that make Branch special can't be measured by stopwatches or weight room numbers. "I (think) Jamaal Branch is a sure thing," Hansen said. "I really think his chance of making it in the pros is excellent. I would also think he would go in the first three rounds of the pro draft next year."
For this Big Pine resident, shuffle board is top-notch
California: Howard Pierce travels across the country competing in shuffleboard tournaments. Pierce is the only Native American playing in Shuffle Board Federation tournaments, and has traveled as far north as Seattle, as far east as Indiana and as far south as Phoenix. "It's not just a bar game," said Pierce. "The games are hotly contested and emotions run high. There's a lot of strategy involved, and you have to read the tables and your opponent." Shuffle board is played on long rectangular tables (about 21 by three feet) with teams of two sliding metal weights towards the far end. Each player has four weights and the object is to place more of the weights closer to the far edge of the table than the opposing team. Like croquet, players are allowed to knock opposing weights from the table and having the last shot is called "the hammer. "These tournaments are serious. People aren't drinking and partying; it's about winning and about the dinero," said Pierce.
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