Native Village 

Youth and Education News

Sept 21, 2005 Issue 157 Volume 1

"You cannot give away what you don't have. You need to give away what you have in order to keep it. Our Elders have lived their lives with a lot of trial and error. They have experienced how to do things good and they have experienced what didn't work for them as they grew old. They know things about living that we don't know. So, through the years the Elders have gained wisdom. They usually have a whole different point of view because of all their experiences. There are two ways to learn: someone tells us what they did and we do the same thing, or someone tells us what they did and we choose not to do it. Both of these paths will help us to live."  Shared by Usti Yona, Cherokee

DNA links 10,000-year-old man to tribal descendants
Alaska: DNA tests on a 10,000-year-old man link him to 47 tribal descendants in North and South America. "On Your Knees Cave Man" was found in Alaska's Tongass National Forest  in 1996.  Paleontologist Timothy Heaton compared DNA from "On Your Knees Cave Man" to a database of Native people. He found 47 descendants belonging to tribes as diverse as the Chumash in California, the Zapotec in Mexico and the Quechua of Peru.  The U.S. Forest Service worked with the Klawock and Craig tribal member who participated and observed the dig.  They agreed to the DNA test, which was restricted to two teeth.

Southern Indiana farm an archaeological hotbed
Indiana: When T. Harold Martin bought his farm near Jeffersonville in the late 1960s, he had no idea the property's gentle slopes were part of a 900-year-old American Indian village. He soon realized their importance when students from places like Harvard University knocked on his door and asked to see the four mounds. Since then, two archaeology digs have found portions of a wall, numerous pieces of pottery, and nearly 18,000 artifacts in a 25-acre section of the farm. Cheryl Ann Munson, a researcher from Indiana University, said the land was not a burial site. Instead, it was probably used to elevate the homes of community leaders, or for spiritual temples.  Now a federal grant of $49,025 will allow more studies at Martin’s farm — known by experts as the “Prather site.”  Martin’s farm has been called “the best preserved” of the small number of known sites from the Mississippian period — roughly 1000 to 1700 — in the Louisville, KY, area.

In Petition to Government, Tribe Hopes for Return to Whaling Past
Washington: The Makah, who today face serious poverty and unemployment, are a fishing tribe guaranteed the right to hunt whales in an 1855 treaty with the U.S.  Whaling had been their mainstay for thousands of years, and the tribe of 1,500 still see themselves as whalers and spiritually identify with whales. But the Makah stopped hunting whales early in the 20th century when commercial harvesting had depleted the species. International whaling restrictions helped gray whales rebound, and the whales were removed from the endangered species list in 1994.  Several years later, the Makah won permission to hunt again. Their first hunt came in 1999. They killed one whale. "My mother said she never thought she'd see a whale hunt in her lifetime," said Arnie Hunter "And I never thought I'd see a whale hunt in my lifetime. Everybody was joyously crying; we never thought it would happen."  But animal-rights protests and the television cameras "took a lot of the spirituality out of it," said Dave Sones, vice chairman of the tribal council. By 2002, an appeals court declared the hunting illegal, saying that studies had not addressed the impact of Makah hunting on the survival of the whale species. Last February, the tribe asked the agency for a waiver granting them permanent rights to kill up to 20 gray whales in any five-year period --a right guaranteed under their 1855 treaty. Some groups which oppose the commercial harvesting of whales remain neutral on the Makah's quest.  "No indigenous hunt has ever destroyed whale populations," said John Hocevar of Greenpeace. "And looking at the enormous other threats to whales and putting the Makah whaling in context, it's pretty different."
Read the Native Village Article: Five Years After the Makah Historical Whale Hunt
blue whale graphic: enchanted learning

Evacuated Creoles vow to maintain culture
California: Hurricane Katrina has dealt New Orleans and its Creole people a severe blow. The center of their culture has been destroyed, and now Creoles who live thousands of miles from Louisiana have become uncertain ambassadors for a city -- and a way of life -- that is endangered.  "I look at the devastation and cry because New Orleans is a very special place to all of us. We are losing the culture and we need to get people back together," said Marion Ferreria, 79.  Louisiana Creoles are a people of mixed African, French and American Indian heritage who contributed much to the distinctive flavor of New Orleans.  Thousands of Creoles left Louisiana after World War II to escape racism and find better jobs. Some estimate 15,000 settled in Los Angeles; other significant pockets are in Chicago and Detroit.  Many remain hopeful the culture will continue. "The parents who moved here have all passed on, and the kids of these families did not keep up the traditions," said B.J. Deculus, who learned Creole before he learned English. "But there are a whole lot of people living here from Louisiana who have a connection to Creole culture. Katrina will have an impact on bringing those people closer together."

OU lecturer defends citizenship of Creek Freedmen
Oklahoma: Damario Solomon Simmons, a lawyer and lecturer at Oklahoma University, is representing two black men who want their citizenship reinstated in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Simmons calls it a very important case for people of black and American Indian heritage. “This case is of tremendous importance because it helps thousands of disenfranchised people find justice,” he said.  Since 1979, thousands of Creeks of African descent, also known as Creek Freedmen, have been denied Creek Nation citizenship promised under federal law.  Discrimination against Creek citizens of African descent began after the Civil War. African-American tribal members were educated, had tribal leadership positions, and shared Creek tribal resources. Then, as the government prepared Oklahoma for statehood, the Dawes Commission labeled tribal citizens of African descent as “Freedmen,” with no degree of Indian blood.  “The Dawes Commission was an openly racist and corrupt group, and they are still relying on a policy from a century ago,” Simmons said. “It had nothing to do with their blood, but their appearance.”  Robert Warrior, an Osage tribal member and OU professor, said American Indian people should give serious thought to inclusion in their community.     “I am disappointed when I hear that tribes are erecting barriers to exclude people who have played important roles in their histories,” he said. “Behind the histories in the Freedmen in the five tribes, there’s a story of injustice that everyone needs to know more about.”  The judge is expected to release his opinion next month.

Seminoles become temporary cowboys
Florida: While the Seminole Indian tribe operates the fourth-largest cattle operation in Florida, their Indian cowboys still know their history.  When Ponce De Leon invaded Florida in 1521, he brought the first cattle to the area. The Indians began raising herds. Then, in the 1850s, raids by settlers and the U.S. government forced the Indians to run for their lives, usually leaving the cattle behind. By the Great Depression, the Seminoles were poor, starving and cattle-less. When droughts wiped out herds in Oklahoma, federal officials shipped a 400-head batch to South Florida. "They took cows from the Apache Tribe, half-starved and ready-to-die cattle, and sent them to us," said Richard Bowers. The business blossomed, and today, the Seminole tribe has over 15,000 head. Each summer, tribal cowboys celebrate their history on 60,000 acres of reservation land. Days begin before dawn as they ride into woods and marshes to where they must catch, sort and ship 500calves by nightfall. The noise is haunting as calves cry for their mothers, who remain in pastures.  Once the herd arrives at the corrals, each calf's weight, health and medical history is stored on  computer chips stamped on the left ear. The 6-month-old calves are then shipped to buyers around the country, where they will be raised for 18 months before slaughter. But keeping the history alive among young Seminoles is becoming harder than the roundup.  Flush with gambling cash, more tribal families are sending teens to college.  "It's getting tougher to keep the tradition going among families, and that is sad for the tribe," said Raymond Garza. "I have a son who is 18, and he used to be into it. Now he's into golf."  Ayze Jo Henry, who is also 18,  is a cowgirl and the reigning Rodeo Queen. Better than most her age, she understands the tribe's cattle legacy.  "I think it's very important that we teach people our heritage, and I really try to talk to the younger kids about what it means to be a Seminole," Henry said.  Cowboy Alan Huff agrees. "It's a concern that we are losing touch with our past a bit, because our children don't realize just how much of our history is tied to cattle and ranching," he said. "All of us are proud to see them going on to college and doing well, but we do lose something.",0,912674.story

Tlingits Bring a Story Full Circle with Posts for Burke Museum
Washington:  Four years ago, Seattle's Burke Museum respectfully returned two grizzly bear house posts to their Tlingit owners in Alaska. The posts had been stolen in 1899 by the Harriman Expedition, sponsored by railroad tycoon E.H. Harriman. The grizzly bear house posts ended up at the Burke Museum.  Other precious works, including grave markers and totem poles, wound up at Chicago's Field Museum, Harvard University's Peabody Museum, the Smithsonian and Cornell University and have all been returned. To thank the Burke Museum,  Tlingit carvers Nathan and Stephen Jackson carved two new posts for the Burke. The two new posts are 11 feet tall, nearly 3 feet wide and weigh hundreds of pounds.

The Gloria Barron Winners for 2005
the Gloria Barron Prize honors outstanding young leaders, ages 8-18, who have made a positive difference to people and our planet. The 2005 Winners are:
Lindsey, age 17, Missouri: Lindsey founded Gardening for Families as a way to donate her garden's abundance of produce to families in need.
Geneva, age 16, New York:  Geneva created Bring It On!, a non-profit youth organization that promotes community service, leadership development, and civic engagement in the northeast Bronx;
Beth, age 18, California: Beth founded the Arcata High School Conservation and Renewable Energy project (C.A.R.E.), which has received large-scale grants to conduct solar energy research;
Ana, age 13, Colorado: Ana founded Peruvian Hearts, a non-profit organization that provides education, food, clothing, and other resources to girls in a remote Peruvian orphanage;
Clayton, age 16, Texas: Clayton is in his sixth year of organizing Clayton's Backyard Crew, a group that has refurbished over 700 bicycles to give as Christmas gifts to children whose parents are in prison;
Ebunoluwa (Ebbie), age 13, Pennsylvania: Ebbie organized a group of Canal Kids that monitors water quality in the Delaware Canal that runs through her hometown;
Claire, age 18, Oklahoma: Claire created a domestic violence prevention program in the Choctaw Nation schools to teach elementary students non-violent ways to handle their emotions;
Washo, age 14, Oregon: Washo has led a group of students in greatly improving the quality of life for primates at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center;
Leah, age 18, Florida  Leah founded smARTies, a non-profit organization that provides weekly art classes to elementary students in the Little Havana section of Miami;
Shannon, age 17, Utah: Shannon has tackled the problems of invasive non-native species and poor water quality in the desert near her hometown.

Project Seeks to Preserve Dying Languages
WASHINGTON -- Every two weeks or so the last elderly man or woman fluent in a particular language dies. At that rate, as many as 2,500 native tongues will disappear forever by 2100. Linguists say languages aren't just words, but a people's way of looking at the world.  Some experts say there are up to 10,000 different languages left in the world. Others say that if we don't count each dialect, that estimate is thousands less.  David W. Lightfoot is leading a preservation effort to save some of these dying languages. "If we are going to lose half the world's languages, that endangers our capacity to understand the genetic basis of language," said Lightfoot, who is from the National Science Foundation. The NSF recently joined the National Endowment for the Humanities in awarding $4,400,000 to 26 institutions and 13 individual scholars to investigate 70 endangered languages and help preserve them. The project is now asking researchers to apply for additional grants, with the expectation that at least $2,000,000 a year will be available. Some insights:
Spoken by people in the Australian state of Queensland, the Guguyimadjir language has not words for "left" or "right."   Instead, the people orient themselves and their world by the points of the compass -- unlike most of us, who see things in relation to ourselves rather than to the world as a whole.
Piratapuy-speaking people in Brazil's Amazon rain forest say "The cake ate John" instead of "John ate the cake."  In other words, they put the object of a verb first and the subject last.
National Endowment for the Humanities:
National Science Foundation:
The Associated Press

College Uses Rap Music to Preserve a Language
South Dakota: "Wicozani Mitawa", or "My Life",  is the first rap song ever recorded in the Dakotah language.  "For a language to flourish it has to be used. That is the bottom line. This song helps bring Dakota into the 21st century as a living language with relevance to our youth," said William Harjo Lone Fight, SWC president. The Dakotah song lyrics were first written in English, then translated into Dakotah and edited by Dakota elders. Tristan Eastman recorded Wiconzani Mitawa, which was produced by SWC and the Association on American Indian Affairs. Everyone is encouraged to copy the CD so the Dakotah language is heard by as many Dakota youth as possible. "The entire concept behind this project is to create a way to have an entire generation of young people actually hear Dakotah being used," saidTammy Decoteau, Director of the Native Language Program for AAIA .

Researchers Think They've Got the Incas' Numbers
Massachusetts: The Incas used khipus -- groups of string and knots -- for record-keeping and perhaps even as a written language. The basic structure of the khipu is simple.

1. A large fiber or string has many smaller strings, or pendants, hanging from it.
2. Knots are tied into the strings to give each string a numerical value using the decimal system. At the bottom of the string, a single figure-eight knot represents one. A longer knot with the string wound around it two to nine times represents the integers two through nine;
3. Higher up the string, one to nine knots represent the number of tens;
4. Higher still, each knot represents 100, and so on;
5. Individual strings may have different colors, but researchers do not know what the colors mean.

Recently, Harvard researchers Gary Urton and Carrie Brezine may have identified the first "word" inscribed in khipus. They believe the word is the name of the city where a group of khipus were found. This may be a first step in deciphering a written language. Unlike all other powerful cultures, the Incas never inscribed a language in stone or wrote one on parchment, paper, bark or other materials.  Archeologists are fascinated by khipus because they believe they hold the clue to recorded language. Only about 700 or so khipus,  typically made of cotton string, are known to exist in museums around the world. The Spanish conquistadors destroyed tens of thousands of them when they forced natives to adopt the Spanish writing system. The oldest of the khipus in museums date to the late 8th century BC, but earlier this year, Peruvian archeologist Ruth Shady said she had discovered a khipu that is at least 4,500 years old in the ancient pre-Incan city of Caral.
Los Angeles Times
Khipus photo: Harvard Magazine
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