Native Village 

Youth and Education News

June 15, 2005 Issue 154 Volume 1

“I have my community. Not to say that it is a developed community, but it is true that we all live like the five fingers in a hand, which know how to join with each other.”
— Panchito Ramírez

Indigenous grandmothers pray for the world
New Mexico: The International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers gathered for prayers at sacred Pueblo sites. The Elders from the Takelma, Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Hopi and Yupik tribes along with grandmothers from Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Tibet and Nepal sent a message to the world to protect Mother Earth and honor the sacred ways for peace. The grandmothers message is that there must be better medicine and a new awareness of the pollution around us.
Among their comments:
''The grandmothers of the world want to go forward and not only talk to the women of the world, but the president of the United States and the world leaders. We want them to hear our voice. There has got to be a better way of taking care of our Mother Earth,'' ''Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, 80, Takelma.
''We need to enlighten people and tell the world leaders there has to be a better way. If we allow the animal kingdom to disappear, at the rapid rate it is disappearing, then we are killing ourselves faster than we think." Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, Takelma
''We are the natural nurturers of the Earth Mother. The Earth Mother needs our help, she needs our prayers. We need to educate the women of the world that prayer works." Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, Takelma
"We want to preserve the beauty we walk in for the seventh generation, for the unborn to be able to walk in beauty and have clean air and good water." Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, Takelma
''Now the government wants our reservation land, our First Nations land, for garbage dumps. Years ago, smallpox blankets were given to my people to kill them off. Now they are sending garbage and toxic waste to be dumped on our reservations." Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, Takelma
''Many of the grandmothers are practitioners of their earth-based medicines, keepers of [the] medicines of their people. Many are involved with struggles involving multi-national corporations coming into their homelands to take their natural resources; they oppress them for the practice of their religious indigenous ways. We are able to support one another through prayers and our ceremonies. '' Mona Polacca, Hopi/Tewa/Havasupai
''This is a prayer from the grandmothers of the world, from the four directions of the world. We are not leaving anyone out. We are praying for our existence and our generation. Everyone, no matter what color our skin is, is part of this prayer. Mona Polacca, Hopi/Tewa/Havasupai
"We all have sacred places within ourselves and wherever we might be.'' Mona Polacca, Hopi/Tewa/Havasupai
''[I am] praying for freedom, that [my] people may reclaim their country and the Dalai Lama will be able to return home." Tsering Dolma Gyalthong, Tibet
Indian Country Today

Rare white buffalo born at ranch
Kentucky: When a rare white buffalo was recently born in Shelby County, the owners thought the baby part of a prophecy. This white calf is a granddaughter of Chief Joseph, the ranch's award-winning, 3,000-pound bull that was struck by lightning on Sept. 11, 2001, and died two weeks later. "It's just unbelievable," owner Bob Allen said. For those who follow American Indian Plains spirituality, the appearance of a white buffalo is compared to the Christian idea of the second coming of Christ, said researcher Bob Pickering. As the story goes, Lakota Sioux rituals and beliefs were brought to the tribe by a spiritual being known as the White Buffalo Calf Woman. A white buffalo calf is interpreted as the sacred reincarnation of the woman, Pickering said, adding that the incidence of white buffalo births is about 1 per 16,000,000.

  Dakotans purchase Sitting Bull gravesite
South Dakota: Near Mobridge sits a bust of Sitting Bull, marking the famous American Indian leader's burial site. Broken beer bottles and trash litter the area. The nose is chipped; so is the inscription on the granite pillar supporting it: "Tatanka Iyotake, Sitting Bull, 1831-1890."  Thanks to Bryan Defender and Rhett Albers, who recently purchased the property, the destruction is about to change.  "This is a site that deserves national and international attention. It is being used as a dumping grounds," Albers said. "We've always thought that something needed to be done." Albers said he and Defender plan to provide 24-hour security and clean up the area by summer.  Eventually, they hope to develop a visitor or cultural center.  Sitting Bull helped lead the Indian resistance against the U.S. Army in the 1870s, which culminated in the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn. He and some of his Sioux followers fled to Canada after the battle, but he returned after five years and surrendered. Sitting Bull was killed in 1890 on the Standing Rock reservation while being arrested by Indian police.

Museum displays Pocahontas' earrings
England: In their first public showing since 1907, a pair of mussel shell earrings believed to belong to Pocahontas went on display at a London museum. Each earring is formed of a rare, white, double mussel-shell found on the eastern shore of the Berings Strait. They are set in silver rims, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and are worth approximately $500,000. Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan of the Algonquin Nation, gained fame for serving as an "ambassador" between American Indians and British settlers. She may have received the earrings during a 1616 trip to England with her English husband, John Rolfe, to obtain funds for a school for American Indian children.  She died in 1617 and was buried at St. George's Church in Gravesend, near London. The earrings were handed down through the Rolfe family and now belong to the Association for Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. The earrings are on loan until July 10, when they will be moved back to Jamestown.

Some say decision was missed opportunity
Nebraska: Donna Wendzillo Ponca, inherited the story of Chief Standing Bear from her grandmother.  In 1879, Standing Bear left Indian Territory with the body of his 12-year-old son to bury him in Ponca homelands along the Niobrara River. After he was arrested, Standing Bear won a legal challenge in Nebraska that said Native people were indeed people and citizens under the U.S. law. Now 78, Wendzillo felt a rush of emotion when she learned that Nebraska's governor, Dave Heineman, chose not to place Standing Bear's image on the quarter dollar. "My heart is broken," she said as she wept. Other Standing Bear supporters shared reactions from disappointment to anger with Heineman's choice of a covered wagon rolling past Chimney Rock. "I think politics was a part of the decision and I regret that it entered the picture," said John Wunder, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor who has taught students about Standing Bear.  Judy Morgan Gaiashibos from the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs called the governor's decision "unconscionable ... an insult to Nebraska's first citizens. I think all of us can identify with wanting to keep your word to your son, wanting to bury your child in your state, wanting to return home."  She also found it ironic that the Heineman selected a Euro-migration symbol that brought an end to traditional Native life. "I think this would have given an opportunity to make amends for the Manifest Destiny tragedies that befell our people," she said.

Indigenous In The Border Zone
Arizona: The Tohono O'odham Nation is protesting militarization along the U.S. border in the Tohono homelands. The O'odham claim they are intimidated and harassed by Homeland Security when attending ceremonies on ancestral land in the U.S. and Mexico.  "We were resisting the destruction of the O'odham way of life on O'odham sacred lands, including animal life, plant life, mountains, water and waterways," said Ofelia Rivas.   Rivas, founder of the "O'odham Voice Against the Wall,"  is fighting a proposed U.S. border wall that would dissect O'odham communities and bar passage on traditional ceremonial routes between Arizona and Mexico.   O'odham demonstrators said they have the right to protect the Him'dag (O'odham way of life) and self-governance.

Freedmen's descendants discover past

Oklahoma: Intrigued by Oklahoma's black Indians, Rick Kittles tested his hypothesis that today's descendants of Oklahoma Freedmen would average about 20% Native American.  DNA samples were taken from more than 100 Freedmen descendants, and when the results came back, the results were surprising: Native American bloodlines averaged 6%. "It was shocking to see it was so low," said the Ohio State geneticist.  "That's how science is. When you start looking into things like this, you should be aware and be ready to deal with the unexpected."  Another surprise was the percentage of European genes -- about 20% -- in the study participants. "That was much higher than I thought," Kittles said, "but in talking with some of the anthropologists, they say many of the Native Americans in that area were already mixed with whites."  The Freedmen's battle has its roots before the Civil War.  Most Eastern tribes had adopted and intermarried with blacks over generations of contact. In addition, when then Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek were removed from their southern homelands to Oklahoma, they brought African slaves with them.  Post - Civil War treaties required tribes to free their slaves and either adopt them into their tribes or send them off for relocation.  By the 1900s, more than 20,000 Africans had been adopted into the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole. The Chickasaws refused to adopt blacks, but the slaves were not relocated.  Today's Freedmen descendants said the findings will not stop them from seeking citizenship and equal rights.  "We're not wannabe people who are pretending to be Indian people or pretending to have Indian rights," said Marilyn Vann, president of the descendants' group.  "We have documents to prove who we are and we know who we are."

As tribal speakers dwindle, a rush to teach their words
Michigan: George Roy, 58, has spent 10 years teaching Ojibwe 101 to students at Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College.  ''The first thing I tell my students at the beginning of each semester is that we're fighting a battle to hold onto our own cultural identity," said the language instructor from the Ottawa tribe.  ''Language is the glue that holds our culture together. . . .  I think most of us who teach Native American languages and culture in the Great Lakes realize that we're fighting an uphill battle to preserve our own heritage."  Most of the 40 Native American languages and dialects used on Midwestern reservations and in Native families are expected to vanish within the next few decades as tribal elders die.  The growing threat to Midwestern Indian languages is only part of a worldwide phenomenon.  Linguists say that, on average, a language becomes extinct every two weeks. Many blame English language television programs and English language software.  ''The scholars tell us there are almost 7,000 languages in the world, and that half of them will probably be lost in the next century, "said Bruce Cole, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He added that 400 world's languages have fewer than 100 fluent speakers each, and that 74 of them are Native American languages in the U.S.  In an effort to rescue some threatened languages, the NEH and the National Science Foundation have announced a $4,400,000 program of grants and fellowships designed to preserve both written and spoken elements of more than 70 threatened languages.
New York Times

Scarce resources hobble Dene language teachers
Northwest Territory: People working to keep aboriginal languages alive say school libraries are full of texts in English or French but often house less than one shelf in Dene.  Dene language instructors recently met in Fort Smith to create more educational resources.  "It's not as easy as opening a book and going to chapter six to read lessons one to three," says Joanie Lafferty.  "You actually have to build it." The books and projects they create will be available to aboriginal language instructors across the Northwest Territories.

   Bid to save nearly lost language
Vancouver Island: Some 300 descendants of a Native American people in west Canada still speak Nuuchahnulth. But almost no young people know the ancient language. Now, after 5,000 years, the Nuuchahnulth language will get its own dictionary. Compiled by Dr. John Stonham, the dictionary was created with help from current speakers and notes from linguist Edward Sapir, taken almost a century ago. The dictionary has 7,500 entries for the complex language. "Entire sentences can be built up into a single word," Dr. Stonham said. "But there are also some concepts that can be encapsulated in a single syllable. A single sound describes the state of remaining in seclusion when the husband goes out to hunt, for example."  Stoneham hopes the text will help the language survive by aiding teachers.
puqee-oh        Always-absent woman
hina?aluk       I look out for what I know is to happen
Simaacyin?ahinnaanuhsim?aki     their whaling spears were poised in the bow
haasulapi-ck'in?i       sing a little louder---

  Volume 2

 Native Village Home Page

Native Village is published with the generous help and support of friends, listserves, and online publications.
Without you, Native Village would not exist.  Megwich to you all.

To join our mailing list and receive news update reminders, send email address to:
To contact Native Village staff, email:

Native Village Linking Policy
Our research, study and resource collections cover a lot of Internet territory! We do our best to screen all links and select only those we designate "kidsafe" and appropriate. However, Native Village does not control the content found on third-party sites, so we are not always aware when content changes. If you discover a link that contains inappropriate information, please contact us immediately.  In addition, please be aware that each linked site maintains its own independent data collection, policies and procedures. If you visit a Web site linked to from Native Village, you should consult that site's privacy policy before providing it with any of your personal information.
For more information about keeping kids safe online, please read about the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Native Village © Gina Boltz

All rights reserved