Native Village 

Youth and Education News

June 29, 2005 Issue 155 Volume 1

"We can learn from each other, but researchers need to recognize they are students of our culture; we are the teachers, not the other way around.  I think we need to speak for ourselves.''   Karenne Wood, Monacan

Ball State studies Native American site
Indiana: Ball State University researchers are studying what remains of a prehistoric Native American site. The property formerly contained a burial mound surrounded by a 31-acre rectangle made of earthen walls reaching 9 feet high — the largest Indian enclosure ever found in the state. The discovery will enable a better understanding of the prehistoric Indian cultures known as Adena-Hopewell. “Archaeology is all around us, not just in Egypt or South America,” said BSU archaeologist Donald Cochran.  “This site is part of the puzzle of what these people were doing here in east-central Indiana right about 2,000 years ago." Cochran said the site could have been a major tourist draw if it had been saved.  “A lot of sites like this have been preserved as state and national parks,” he said.

Did Ancient Polynesians Visit California?
WASHINGTON: Linguist Kathryn A. Klar and archaeologist Terry L. Jones believe Polynesians sailed to Southern California 1,000 years before Columbus landed on the East Coast. The two have had trouble finding a scientific magazine to publish their thesis about ancient contact between the Polynesians and Chumash. But thanks to new evidence,  their report will be published in American Antiquity this July. Klar and Jones' new evidence comes from two directions:
New research suggests that the Chumash word for sewn-plank canoe is derived from a Polynesian word for the wood used to construct the same boat. The Chumash and their neighbors, the Gabrielino, were the only tribes who built sewn-plank boats, a technique used on the Polynesian Islands. The Chumash word for sewn-plank canoe is tomolo'o, while the Hawaiian word for useful tree (the type used for building the boat) is kumulaa'au. The Polynesians colonized Hawaii before the year 1,000 AD,  and their language evolved into the Hawaiian language. Many Hawaiian words that start with "k" originally began with "t."   Replace the "k" in kumulaa'au with a "t" and the similarity is so great, Klar says, that it is highly unlikely to be a coincidence;
Revised carbon-dating of an ancient Chumash headdress has been dated to 400 years eariler than originally thought. The headdress is fashioned from abalone shells and the skull of a swordfish--a deep sea fish. Earlier carbon-dating placed it at 2,000 years old. That date implied the Chumash were fishing in deep-sea waters 400 years earlier than the Polynesian-Chumash contact that Klar and Jones believed. As it turns out, the original carbon-14 date was wrong, and new testing places the headdress at 600 AD--in the same time period Klar and Jones believe ancient Polynesians sailed to Southern California;
Another piece of evidence was found more than a decade ago when archaeological evidence proved that ancient Polynesians ate sweet potatoes, which are native to South America. Presumably, Polynesian sailors ventured to South America, obtained sweet potatoes and brought them back to their home islands.  Still, direct evidence for Polynesian contact with North America has been scarce. Until now.
The San Francisco Chronicle

DNA Links Native American to Prehistoric Ancestor
California: DNA from a California Native American who died 800 -1,000 years ago matches that of a woman now living in the same region as her early ancestor. The finding bolsters the theory that many modern Native American populations have direct ties to prehistoric North American inhabitants. It also suggests that the Vanyume tribe, to which the modern woman belongs, has occupied the same region continuously for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. Anthropologist Phillip Walker began the research after a construction crew found a Native American burial site while developing property near Palmdale. The remains of six people were found buried at the site.  Researchers extracted and sequenced mitochondrial DNA from a tooth taken from one set of remains and compared it to a databank of modern Native Americans. One woman, Donna Yocum, was found to have mtDNA that perfectly matches that of the ancient remains. The DNA from Yocum's great aunt, Lyda Manriquez, also matched the early Californian's. "It is highly significant that prehistoric burials found in the same general region ­ the Western Mojave Desert ­ match those from Donna and her great aunt because it shows the connection between the contemporary population and those who lived in the region in the past," said Walker. The Vanyume -­ also called "Desert Serrano" because they once spoke the Serrano language -- have probably occupied the Western Mojave Desert region for more than 1,000 years. Yocum, a member of the Mojave Desert Vanyume tribe, was thrilled by the discovery, but also saddened that a Native American burial site had been disturbed.

Seneca Nation Celebrates Return Of 51-acre Plot Of Land
New York: Federal judge John Curtin settled a land claim agreement giving the Seneca Nation a 51.3-acre piece of land in Cuba Lake. The land had been part of the Seneca's Oil Spring Reservation. The state condemned it in 1858 for the purpose of serving the Erie and Genessee canals.   "It's a historic day,'" said Seneca council chairman Richard Nephew. 'It's evidence to us that there are people in the federal government and state government that are interested in seeing justice for the Seneca Nation."  Under the agreement reached last October, the state will pay the Senecas $500,000. It also cost the state and federal governments $3,900,000 to appropriate the land -- which included 19 cottages -- from its previous leaseholders.
Associated Press

Roots draw Kanza back

Kansas: In the early 1800s, the Kanza claimed a territory that covered roughly two-fifths of modern-day Kansas. In 1873, Kanza tribal member were forced by the federal government to leave the state and move to Indian Territory. Recently the Kanza Tribe, also known as Kaw, opened Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park near Council Grove. The Park's 150 acres were purchased
by the Kaw in 2000.  "[The Park] is an opportunity to help our own tribal members relearn their heritage and culture," said Guy Munroe, chairman of the Kaw Nation. "Kansas kicked us out 133 years ago.... And (now) it is going to give us a chance to share with all visitors the story of the Kaw Nation and history."  The two-mile Kanza Heritage trail winds through a timbered valley and follows Little John Creek. In the trees are the remains a few limestone huts built for the Kanza when the government tried turning them into farmers. The park is also the site where Chief Allegawaho pleaded with officials to let his people remain in Kansas.  "Great Father, you whites treat us Kanza like a flock of turkeys," he told them. "You chase us to one stream, then you chase us to another stream. Soon you will chase us over the mountains and into the ocean."

The Wichita Eagle

Tribe Pays Tribute to a Savior
Washington: On a grassy knoll near Satus is the grave of Kis-'am-xay, a woman many say once saved the Yakama Nation. Kis-'am-xay, (pronounced Ki-sum-hi), was 5 years old when she watched her elders sign the Treaty of 1855 in Walla Walla. A century later, at the age of about 105, she was called on to testify before members of Congress who were considering a request to buy the reservation and offer job relocation in return. Yakama tribal officials maintained that losing the reservation would undermine everything the treaty stands for, so they began calling on Kis-'am-xay, the only living witness to the treaty's signing.  Kis-'am-xay was persuaded to talk, but only on one condition: "They're coming here or I'm not going to speak." On a winter day in 1954, a fleet of large black cars arrived at the two-bedroom home in Satus. Men wearing suits and carrying briefcases gathered in her living room. Although blind, the frail, wrinkled elder could still give vivid accounts of the tribe's oral history and sacred teachings. She said, "I'm going to speak from my heart, and I can't speak until I give thanks to the Creator through Washat songs and prayer."  After seven songs, Kis-'am-xay began speaking through a translator about the Grandfather Sky, Father Sun and Mother Earth. She told them of her traditional teachings about creation. "She spoke on everything: territories, treaty signers, food, religion," said her granddaughter, Delores George. "Everything concerning our culture she spoke on." Especially about the tribe's desire to keep its culture alive for future generations. Kis-'am-xay often spoke of the unborn, "those yet to come," George said. "She'd say, 'the children are laughing, I can hear them. They are coming and we have to have something for them."' Her words confirmed that tribal members were still living by traditional practices and belief, and federal officials realize that dissolving the Yakama Nation would be a crime.  Kis-'am-xay died six years later at about 110 years old
Yakima Herald-Republic

Northern Cheyenne break vow of silence

Montana: Northern Cheyenne storytellers are compiling an oral history of the Cheyenne's version of Battle of Little Bighorn. "The chiefs said to keep a vow of silence for 100 summers,"  said Frank Rowland. "One-hundred summers have now passed, and we're breaking our silence."  In June 1876, George Custer led 647 men with the 7th Cavalry into the valley of the Little Bighorn River. The Cavalry and their Indian allies attacked the Cheyenne village of 8,000 to 10,000 people. After the battle, 263 U.S. soldiers had perished, including Custer. Rowland said the Northern Cheyenne, fearing retribution, never shared their version of the battle. Now that the century of silence is over, the Northern Cheyenne hope to make their oral accounts public later this year. "This is just a platform to build on.  We have a moral responsibility to tell the truth. This is the Cheyenne truth," Rowland said. Eugene Little Coyote agrees. "We've been told we were the villains of history," he said.  "No more. It's important for our young Cheyenne to know the truth. We want to share our history now."

25 Years Later; Nez Perce Tribe Marks Anniversary Of Crucial Standing-Off Over Salmon
Idaho: Twenty-five years ago, Nez Perce Tribal fishermen were willing to die for the right to fish.   Recently, 150 people gathered by the Rapid River to remember this pivotal point in the tribe's effort to protect its treaty rights.  "Today we sit here peacefully," said tribal fisherman Elmer Crow. "Twenty-five years ago, that wasn't the situation." Tribal members recalled how, on June 13, 1980, heavily armed state and federal officers tried to enforce a ban on salmon fishing.    In the midst of the tension, six Nez Perce fished anyway, earning them citations and, for some, jail time.  On that day and the weeks to follow, Fish and Game, state, county and National Guard officials surrounded the fishing grounds, handing out citations and seizing fish. "They were armed with sawed-off shotguns and grenade launchers, and snipers lined the hillside," Crow said. "All for a handful of Nez Perces."  In the end, 33 tribal members appeared before Magistrate George R. Reinhardt at the Idaho County Courthouse. They pleaded innocent, claiming their treaty rights superseded state law. The Nez Perce won.
Lewiston Morning Tribune

Recovering Her Roots; After 17 Years, "Baby K" Begins New Life With Navajo Mother
Washington: Allyssa Keetso-Pitts just received her diploma from Fort Vancouver High School. She'll experience another "first" when she returns to the Navajo Nation reservation to make her home. Seventeen years ago, Allyssa made headlines as '"Baby K" who was adopted by a non-Indian couple after her mother, Patricia Keetso, gave birth. The adoption drew criticism from tribal leaders; their efforts led to a federal law giving tribal courts jurisdiction over adoptions in order to preserve tribal heritage. In Allyssa's case, the Navajo tribe granted her adopted parents, Ricardo and Cheryl Pitts, guardianship. Now Allyssa will return to Arizona and live with her mother, stepfather, and their four children. Allyssa said she loves her adopted family but wants to immerse herself in her culture and forge a deeper connection with her birth mother and relatives.  "It sounds crazy, but it's something I have to do," she said. "I just need to be there. It's a hard feeling to explain."  Ricardo Pitts said he has mixed emotions about Allyssa's decision to move to Arizona. "It's hard to see her go, but I am for her," Pitts said. '"If this is what she feels she needs to do to find herself, to be whole, then I support her.'" Pitts and his wife, who have good relations with Patricia Keetso, plan to visit Allyssa.
The Colombian

Families Return A Historic Favor; Pioneer Descendants Helping Duwamish Tribe
Washington: In 1851, Amy Johnson's great-great-grandfather, David Denny, reached Puget Sound after a half-year journey from Illinois. His group, which later founded Seattle, might have perished without help from the Duwamish who offered clam broth to revive a sick baby, shelter and protection from hostile tribes.  Today Johnson wants to thank and honor the tribe that enabled her and other settler descendants to exist.  She has organized Coming Full Circle, an opportunity for Johnson descendants to thank the Duwamish by helping raise $1,500,000 for the tribe's future longhouse and cultural center.  "If it hadn't been for the Duwamish when the first pioneers came, they either wouldn't have survived or they wouldn't have stayed," Johnson said.  "If it hadn't been for the Duwamish, I might not be here today."
H-Amindian Listserve

Tutelo language revitalized
Virginia: Using an old book of Tutelo grammar and word lists, Karenne Wood plans to create language lessons and a useful vocabulary for Monacan people.   Wood has received a Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowship to continue Tutelo language revitalization.  The fellowship provides Wood with three years of support, including one year of tuition, as she pursues her doctorate at the University of Virginia.  ''With the understanding that your value system is embedded in your language, I decided to revitalize our language,'' Wood said.  She said there are Tutelo descendants in Canada, but no one speaks the language. ''The research I'm doing ...  is for our tribe and other related speakers.  It's really not as much about publishing it for scholarship as it is about creating something that's useful for our people.''
Indian Country Today

New Haida Dictionary Is Language's Most Thorough Record
Alaska: The most extensive written record of the Haida language is now available in print. The dictionary contains numerous features, among them word form variations, the class of each word and examples of word usage. The Alaska Native Language Center published the 2,126 pages Haida dictionary in two volumes. They describe it as "a complete a record of the language as is possible."  The books costs $279.
Anchorage Daily News
  Volume 2

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