Native Village 

Youth and Education News

February 23, 2005 Issue 147 Volume 1

"I could not turn back the time for the political change, but there is still time to save our heritage. You must remember never to cease to act because you fear you may fail." Queen Lili'uokalani, Native Hawaiian

Documenting Genocide
South Dakota: According to Floyd Red Crow Westerman, America had concentration camps long before Adolf Hitler's Germany. "Reservations were concentration camps, and we couldn't leave them, so they were concentration camps," he told an audience at South Dakota State University.  He also said the federal government had tried to exterminate Indians through two tools: the bullet and smallpox-infected blankets.  Westerman, an actor, musician and Native activist, is sharing his message through a documentary he is writing and producing. Titled "Exterminate Them! America's War on Indian Nations," the series will look at the Indian holocaust region by region, starting with California Indian history. Westerman, who was born in 1936 on the Sisseton-Wahpeton reservation, says the documentary will utilize historical resources, tribal elders, historians and community leaders.
Other insights by Westerman:
About international law to restore the wealth of holocaust victims: "I tell a lot of young people that we should go back to the old ways to heal.  Americans will heal too, once they realize their wrongs."
About the theory that America was populated by Eurasians traveling across a land mass over the Bering Straits: "We call it the 'BS theory'  that allows others to take Indian lands by stating America's Natives were not the original inhabitants. "
On the environment: "Pollution has thrown everything out of balance -- the evidence is in frogs with six heads and in children with cancer. Everybody is so distracted by things for the self.  They don't care about their relatives anymore.  The SUV shows how we feel about the environment. To turn this around, we need to go back to the earth and live with the earth spiritually."
The nation's political shortcomings: Westerman suggested the House and the Senate should be divided equally between men and women, and that the women should have the final word. "The clan mothers ran everything and had the last word.  I think that's the answer"
Learn more from Mr. Westerman:

Tlicho delegates return to "whole new world"
Canada: Canada and the Tlicho Nation signed an agreement giving the tribe 35,000 square kilometers of lands, mineral and resource rights, and governing power in areas like culture, education, and health care.  The next step for the Tlicho is transferring the powers from territorial and federal government. After that, an election will be held to form the Tlicho government.
CBC News

Music For The Elders
The University of North Dakota will host four concerts on college campuses across North Dakota. The concerts, performed by classical pianists, will help raise awareness and money to support programs for American Indian elders.  Peter Klein, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer on the Turtle Mountain reservation, came up with the idea. He says proceeds will go to the National Society for the Native American Elderly.  NSNAS offers support services for American Indian elders, including assistance for nutrition and transportation services.
Grand Forks Herald

Students re-enact bus ride to Indigenous freedom
Australia: In 1965, a busload of Sydney University students led by Aboriginal activist Charlie Perkins spent two weeks traveling through New South Wales to expose discrimination against Aborigines. This year, a group of students is retracing the Freedom Ride in a bid for further reconciliation. "I think they want to do something to challenge continuing problems that Aboriginal people face," said Ann Curthoys, who was an original Freedom Rider. "So whether it's racism or whether it's access to education or whatever it might be,  I think they're wanting to say while the original freedom ride did change things, there's still a long way to go,"

Tribes acquire land around sacred rock in Jefferson County

Washington: The Jamestown S'Klallam and Port Gamble S'Klallam tribes acquired about 100 acres adjacent to Tamanowas Rock, a sacred Native American site. Tribal leaders envision a sanctuary and habitat preserve on the property. The massive Tamanowas Rock towers well above the surrounding trees and was used in the past for religious and traditional passages. The rock itself is on privately owned land. "The site was used historically by people of the tribe, and now we are working to purchase all of the land for preservation purposes," said Ron Allen, Jamestown S'Klallam tribal chairman.

Tamanowas Rock graphic: newsletter.html
Horvitz Newspapers, Inc.

Tribe sues to preserve orphan cemetery
Oklahoma: Cherokee tribal officials are going to court in an attempt to locate and preserve an Indian orphan cemetery. The land, which is owned by Oil Marketing Co., had been used to house Indian orphans and mentally disabled people. A cemetery, memorialized in September 2001, holds the bodies of unclaimed Native students who died at the residence, along with some civil war veterans.  The Cherokee Nation alleges in the suit it has sought permission to enter the property to search for the cemetery site, using ground-penetrating radar to identify graves and other underground phenomena. The defendants flatly rejected the requests, stating the existence of a cemetery on their property would be "bad for business."

Skokomish Tribal Elder Bruce (Subiyay) Miller: 1944-2005
Washington: Hundreds of people recently gathered to honor Bruce Miller, a Skokomish spiritual leader who died February 5.  Miller was recognized for his artistic talents and his work as an educato who passed on knowledge of tribal culture to younger generations. Denny Hurtado, former chairman of the Skokomish Tribal Council, said Miller should be remembered among the ranks of Chief Crazy Horse, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cesar Chavez. "That's how great of a man he was," said Hurtado, who also heads the state's Indian Education program. He described Miller as a true elder, who "spoke from the heart and with great thought behind it. His legacy is our beginning to carry on the traditions and the knowledge."

World War I vet, said to be nation's oldest Marine, dies at 106
Louisiana:  George Dewey Perkins, said to be the nation's oldest Marine, has died at 106. Perkins served in the Marines from 1917 to 1919. He was about to head to Europe when he and others in his unit came down with the Spanish flu, which was killing millions worldwide. Perkins credited his sergeant, an American Indian, with saving his life by treating him with tribal medications. The World War One veteran would have been 107 in March.

Mexican drug gangs force Indians to drop tradition

Mexico: Armed drug gangs from Sinaloa state are forcing Indians in Sonora and Chihuahua to abandon their traditional crops and grow marijuana and heroin poppies. The tribes--the Tarahumara, Guarijio and Pima--have lived in caves and log cabins in the Western Sierra Madre Mountain range in the area for millennia, surviving on subsistence corn crops.  "While some elders are trying to conserve traditional festivals linked to the maize harvest, the arrival of these groups from Sinaloa brings ... western clothes, cassette recorders, pistols and the consumption of alcohol," said anthropologist Alejandro Aguilar.  Aguilar also said the drug gangs had forced some Indian communities to worship Jesus Malverde, the patron saint of the drug runners. "The elements from Sinaloa are ... asking them to venerate the image of Malverde, the patron saint of the narcos, who is not recognized by the Church."

U.S. snubbed over Indian rights issue
Washington D.C:  Recently, the United States hosted a reception for about 150 indigenous representatives during negotiations on an Inter-American Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration would enshrine the rights of 40,000,000 indigenous people in the Western hemisphere and perhaps set legal precedent for Indians elsewhere. Azelene Kaingaing, a Brazilian indigenous leader, said many  leaders boycotted the reception because the U.S. objected to proposed language that Indians have a ''right to live in harmony with the environment.'' Kaingaing said that is a "defining characteristic that makes our people different.'' The U.S., however, considered the wording vague, and put forward language on harmful contaminants and procedures to correct them.  The U.S. government isn't the only one being difficult, said Juan León, from Guatemala. Many Latin American nations worry that giving indigenous groups too much, such as the right to rule their lands, could open the doors to autonomy or even independence movements.

Study evaluates new model for reviving endangered languages
British Columbia: Of the 50 indigenous languages in Canada, over half are spoken in British Columbia.  None of Canada's three Native languages that are expected to survive--Cree, Ojibwa and Inuktitut--are rooted in B.C.  Now two First Nations communities in B.C. have created a model to save the Lil'wat and Secwepemc languages.  Called "language nests," the programs are based on a Maori language revival initiative from New Zealand. The term refers to childcare programs for pre-school children taught exclusively in a heritage language.  "We know that language and culture are inextricably linked," said graduate student Onowa McIvor. "If the youngest members of a community are not learning the language, then the language will die.  In the Secwepemc community, two kinds of people work in the language nests: elders who are traditional speakers and women with education degrees. However, because the elders don't have teaching certificates, the program is not eligible for funding. "It's quite ridiculous to think about sending either elders or those with bachelor degrees back for a one-year college course to teach them how to raise children," McIvor says. "As one community participant put it, ‘We have been raising our children for thousands of years. We don't need anyone to tell us how to do it.'"

Last few Whulshootseed speakers spread the word
Washington: Ellen Williams, 81, is the last person alive who fluently speaks Whulshootseed, a variant of the Lushootseed language once spoken from Olympia to the Skagit River Valley. When she recently visited the Muckleshoot Tribal College, Williams was tearfully presented with a school T-shirt by Donna Starr, one of the school's two language instructors. Starr became tearful because she feels so strongly about preserving Whulshootseed, which she teaches to high-schoolers four days a week. Whulshootseed is not an easy language to learn--its clicking and popping consonants sounds is vastly different from English.  Whulshootseed was only oral until it was laboriously recorded in the 1960s and 1970s using international phonetic symbols. "[Students] aren't used to making all these sounds together," Starr said. "Nobody's ears have heard the language. We're waking it up, and waking it up carefully."
Read and hear the Whulshootseed language:

Tribe tries to stem loss of native language
On February 19, Murray State College will offer instruction on teaching theory and language curriculum development. These classes are part of a long-term plan to revitalize the Chickasaw language.  "The Chickasaw language is currently spoken by a relatively small number of older persons. The language is in danger of being lost unless steps are taken to revitalize it," wrote linguist Dr. William J. Pulte, one of the instructors. Language facilitators will team with fluent Chickasaw speakers to design and teach classes for two different groups.
Those who understand and speak some Chickasaw and need instruction to become fluent;
Those with no knowledge of the language, including pre-K through adult age ranges.

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