Native Village 

Youth and Education News

September 1, 2004,  Issue 137 Volume 1

"[Sovereignty is] the nearest and dearest, No. 1 issue in Indian Country. It's not something that was given to us. As tribes, we see sovereignty as something we've always had." Jacqueline Johnson, Executive Director, National Congress of American Indians

Natives Tell Their own Story at Smithsonian
Washington, D.C:  The new National Museum of the American Indian opens on Sept. 21, 2004.  Museum construction began in 1999 when the ground was blessed by Chief Billy Tayac, Piscataway, whose ancestors lived in the area before European invasion. The NMAI, part of the Smithsonian, consulted native people on every aspect of the museum and its exhibitions -- a remarkable act of collaboration. It will become a template for other institutions with aboriginal collections, including Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum and Vancouver's Museum of Anthropology. "There is something so retrospective about the term 'museum' as we have used it," says Richard West, Jr., NMAI's director and Southern Cheyenne. "I wanted to be sure this would be an institution of living cultures rather than dead ethnographic objects, and once the Smithsonian indicated that's what they had in mind, I never wanted a job so much. Most smaller museums who work with first nations or native communities or tribes invoke the native voice in interpretation and representation, but the National Museum of the American Indian is the first institution of this size to take this approach on this scale. Most of the museum's staff boast native ancestry and the story the museum tells is in the first person.”
Join NAME and Native Village in the Smithsonian Procession: NAME/Native Village Smithsonian
H-Amindian Listserve

National Museum of the American Indian Drawn Into Sioux Theological Debate
Washington, D.C.: The new building of the National Museum of the American Indian has been criticized by some Lakota religious leaders because of red pipestone on the atrium floor. The installation was fashioned by Travis Erickson, Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota, noted carver of pipe bowls. The red clay stone, also know as Catlinite, came from a quarry in the Pipestone National Monument Minnesota. Catlinite is held sacred by Sioux nations as the source of the carved bowls for the chanunpa, the sacred pipe.  NMAI Director Rick West decided to remove and replace the flooring.

Mount Graham Sacred Run

Arizona: In late July, indigenous from New Mexico, California, Arizona and Mexico participated in the 15th annual Mount Graham Sacred Run to preserve the sacred mountain and oppose the Mount Graham Telescope Complex.  This year's run was preceded by lightning and forest fires, signs that nature is now the force that astronomers will have to deal with, say Apache runners. "The lightning and fire have taken the natural beauty for a reason. Now what comes next is the cold, the wind, the snow and the rain. These astronomers and the buildings that house the telescopes will witness a force unlike anything ever described, because let us remember that the last fires recorded were 300 years ago," Sacred Run coordinator Wendsler Nosie said. The large binocular telescope and observatory is run by the University of Arizona with its partners from Germany, Italy, the Vatican, and the universities of Ohio State, Notre Dame, Virginia and Minnesota.  In December 1999, the United Nations published an investigative report on the site and operations of the Mount Graham observatory. The report calls the observatory one of the most flagrant examples of inappropriate development and religious intolerance by  governments towards Americans Indians.

Petition against the Mt. Graham telescope:

Hawaiians Speak Out Against Telescope Project Atop Mauna Kea
Hawaii: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration wants to build up to six new telescopes on Mauna Kea, a site of deep spiritual and cultural significance for native Hawaiians. NASA, which has already built the Keck I and II telescopes atop Mauna Kea, says new construction would have little effect on native Hawaiian archaeological sites. But Hawaiian cultural groups oppose further construction atop the 13,769-foot mountain and are demonstrating intense opposition.  "I am repeating what I and other Hawaiians have said before: no further development on Mauna Kea," said Mikahala Roy of Kona.  "Construction has done irreparable damage to our sacred mountain."
Associated Press & Local Wire

"Igniting the Spirit of Native America" one heart at a time
Arizona: United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship and leadership among American Indian youths.  When the National UNITY Conference concluded in June, many young adults walked away inspired by their experience:
" 'From this day forward I have made my choice. I will lead, not follow. I will create, not destroy. I will make a difference. I am a leader.'"  It is to empower youth in our communities and to revitalize our culture." Delinda Pushetonequa, 17, Meskwaki quoting Dave Anderson.
"I’ve been coming here since I was 12. It just  triggers something."  Alisha Kapayou-Carr, Meskwaki.
"It gives you the feeling you can do anything, that the sky is the limit like for everyone else."  Michael Lewis, 20, Gila River  Akimel O’odham.


Researchers find American Indian artifacts on UT land
Tennessee: Archaeologists have unearthed evidence of a small American Indian village dating to the 1300s on the University of Tennessee's dairy farm in Knoxville. The land--more than 200 acres--is slated to be developed for recreation, research and housing. UT officials plan more archaeological surveys to help determine what to do next. The findings could place the site on the National Register of Historic Places.

For Native Alaskans, Tradition Is Yielding to Modern Customs
Alaska - When Eskimo elders on isolated St. Lawrence Island approved of the marriage, Clifford Apatiki's relatives did what was required: they bought him his bride.  That meant, according to Siberian Yupik custom,  that Mr. Apatiki's family must come up with the payment of sealskins, rifles, bread, a toaster--a house full of gifts. Then Mr. Apatiki had to work for her family for a year, hunting seal, whale and polar bear, and doing chores. The marriage between Mr. Apatiki and the former Jennifer Campbell was formalized five years ago, when traditional marriages were still the norm in traditional villages like Gambell. But now the couple worry whether their children will follow suit as centuries-old traditions slip away in the modern world. "I'm sure people will continue to do it for a while," Mrs. Apatiki said  "If the tradition isn't in effect with some families, they are whispered about. They will say about a girl, 'She was not bought.'"  Still, keeping the traditions are of great concern to the elders. Satellite television, rising rates of alcoholism and a growing rejection by the younger generation of the Yupik language and customs have begun to chip away at traditions and the hunting-and-gathering subsistence lifestyle.

Inuit researchers to give more information to Inuit
Calgary: During the 14th International Inuit Studies Conference, participants from Canada, the U.S., Greenland, Russia and France discussed how knowledge, communication, and  community-based research can cross from one culture to the next.
U Iqaluiq historian Kenn Harper spoke about a syllabic writing system invented for the Cree and introduced to the Inuit in 1855.  Only one copy remains of a small book printed in Inuktitut in 1855;
U Eva Aariak from Nunavut spoke about changes to Nunavut's official languages act;
U Greenlanders spoke about their country's language policy and the need for more Greenlandic terminology for modern words;
U Researchers from ArcticNet shared their experiences using the Internet and modern technology which includes a project called "Healthy Living in Nunavut," a CD-ROM called "People Awakening Project" and "When the Weather is Uggianaqtuq;"
U Members from Igloolik Isuma Productions spoke about community-base filmmaking and its role in communications;
U From Siberia's far east, Nina Belomestnova told how newspaper articles promote the cultures, language and well-being of the small indigenous population of Evenks.

Unprecedented Ice Age Cave Art Discovered in U.K.
England: For many years the total lack of Stone Age cave art in Britain perplexed researchers. Britain had been inhabited, after all, and was linked to mainland Europe by a land bridge.  Last year, a handful of simple bird and animal carvings were found in Northern England. This year, further research reveals that the English caves may hold the most elaborate Ice Age cave-art ceiling ever discovered: up to 80 carvings of animals, dancing women, and geometric patterns.  "This find represents the most richly carved ceiling in the whole of cave art …," said Paul Pettitt, a University of Sheffield archaeologist. "[It] demonstrates that cave art is spread across a much wider geographical area than we originally thought." Animals depicted on the cave ceiling include bison, wild horses, bears, and ibex—species which went extinct in Britain at the end of the Ice Age 10,000 years ago.

U.S. considered the place 'where languages come to die'
California: Ka`chi Lobo Golden, the ceremonial teacher and "Revealer" of the Acjachemen tribe, is the last living speaker of the Acjachemen language. "I'm the last Mohican," she said, referring to her status. "But I come from the knowledge that nothing is ever lost. It just goes into the belly of Earth Mother for a time."  By the 1980s, as the last native speakers approached their 90s, many tribes launched programs to save what remained of their languages. But without Federal recognition, the Acjachemen do not have the resources to devote to learning their mother tongue.  "So much energy is taken by this tribe trying to define themselves," said Micael Merrifield who is writing a book about the tribe. "They don't have time to organize a whole, structured language learning program." Wick Lobo, 70, has preserved a handwritten vocabulary list compiled by his sister in 1973. He hopes that others will come together to learn the language. "If we can reach a critical mass of speakers, it's conceivable that in the next 20 years our language will rise again," he said.
Orange County Register

Tribal treasures found in man's massive mound of junk 
For over 50 years, John Peabody Harrington crisscrossed California and the West, finding the last speakers of ancient Native American tongues and writing down their words and customs. When Harrington died at age 77, the linguist and anthropologist had stuffed his work into boxes stored in warehouses, attics, basement, even chicken coops.  "There was blank paper, dirty old shirts, half-eaten sandwiches," said Catherine Callaghan from the Smithsonian Institution who searched through the piles of Harrington's work. "The low point came when I found a box of birds stored for 30 years without the benefit of taxidermy …. But mixed in with all of that were these treasures."  Forty-three years later, Harrington's massive legacy is regarded as a Rosetta stone that unlocks dozens of all-but-forgotten California Indian languages, centuries-old ceremonies, medicinal cures, songs, dances, games, family histories--even gossip. Jack Marr, 83, assisted Herrington by hauling a 35-pound, recording machine around the West during the 1930s-40s. "He preached it to me over and over: If we didn't do this, nobody else will, and these languages will be lost forever."  Marr remembers crossing moutains and valleys by horeseback and by car in search of Harrington's quest. "We'd be gone for a month or two at a time, living off cases of dried beef and chili and crackers…. It was quite an adventure for a 17-year-old guy."  Harrington's work is now helping tribes who are trying to establish federal tribal recognition, settle territorial claims and protect sacred sites from development. It is also playing a crucial role in helping tribes revive their languages and cultures.

Using Technology to Preserve Endangered Tribal Languages, Culture
CRIT: Efforts to help preserve native languages through the use of technology can be considered a "matter of life and death." Thanks to the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), the University of Arizona and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, two more languages are closer to preservation: Mojave and Chemehuevi.  Both languages, spoken on the CRIT Reservation, are rapidly becoming extinct. Mojave is spoken by 33 fully fluent speakers, most of whom are 70 or older. Chemehuevi is spoken by 10 fluent speakers who are 60 years or older. As part of the project, six fluent speakers from each language record and preserve language samples using special software installed on laptop computers. One lesson, for example, includes scanning pictures from Mojave and Chemehuevi coloring books into electronic images, then adding the tribal language word in a sound file. "Computers, video cameras and recorders can't save languages; only people can do that," says Susan Penfield from the University of Arizona, "but technology can support  revitalization efforts."

Alutiiq language program gets federal grant
Alaska: A $171,000 federal grant will help expand a master-apprentice language program aimed at preserving the Alutiiq language.  Alutiiq, also called Alutiitstun or Sugt'stun, is the indigenous language of Kodiak Island and parts of the Alaska Peninsula. Only about 50 people still speak the language fluently, but their average age is over 70 years.  The program will match participants with fluent elders for daily lessons and practice. After as little as one year, apprentices may be available for outreach school activities that start bringing the language to younger children and "grow new speakers," said April Laktonen Counceller of the Alutiiq Museum

Code Talker, last one from his tribe, dies

Iowa: Frank Sanache, the last living Code Talker from the Meskwaki Indian tribe, has passed away at age 86. Frank was one of eight tribal members who served as scouts and Code Talkers in North Africa during World War 2.  Sanache never used his language skills because of the limited numbers of Meskwaki code-talkers and the short range of walkie-talkies. He was, however, captured by the Germans and spent 28 months as a prisoner of war. He called the duty in the African desert, "the worst place this side of hell.”  Sanache’s brother, Willard, also served as a Code Talker. The others from the Meskwaki were Dewey Youngbear, Edward Benson, Judie Wayne Wabaunasee, Mike Wayne Wabaunasee, Dewey Roberts, and Melvin Twin.  The Meskawaki Tribe was one of 18 tribes that sent Code Talkers out during the war.

Mt. Graham photo:
Codetalker photo: 2002/07/06/codetalkers.htm

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