Native Village 

Youth and Education News

January 25, 2006 Issue 163  Volume 1

"We're still here. We still speak our language. We still hear the drum. We still dance."   Melvin Francis, Passamaquoddy

Ancient Kitchen Unearthed in Indiana Park
Indiana: The apparent remains of a 4000 year old "kitchen" have been uncovered at Charlestown State Park.  Archaeologist Bob McCullough says the site was probably used by nomadic tribes of hunters and gatherers to prepare their winter food supply. The tribes appear to have collected hickory nuts while using rock slabs to crush them. The people then made fires to boil the nuts for both eating and extracting fatty oils they consumed during the lean winter months.
The Associated Press

Symbols on the Wall Push Maya Writing Back by Years
Guatemala: A writing script discovered at San Bartolo last year is clear evidence that the Mayans were writing more than 2,300 years ago. The newly discovered script--a vertical column of 10 glyphic words--was written 600 years earlier than any currently deciphered writings.  Archaeologist Boris Beltrá was exploring deep in the ruins of a pyramid below a mural chamber. There he came on the Maya glyphs painted in black on white plaster. A scribe apparently drew the characters along a pale pinkish-orange stripe as a guideline. Radiocarbon analysis dated the words to as early as 300 B.C.  Dr. William Saturno said the glyphs might be referring to nearby art which includes a painted image of the maize god. But only one symbol, meaning "ruler," "lord." or noble person, has been deciphered.

China map lays claim to Americas
A map due to be unveiled in Beijing and London lends weight to the theory a Chinese admiral arrived in America before Christopher Columbus. The map, which shows North and South America, states that it is a 1763 copy of another map made in 1418. Chinese characters written beside the map say it was drawn by Mo Yi Tong and copied from a map made in the 16th year of the Emperor Yongle, or 1418.  The map is now being tested to check the age of its paper and ink. Even if it does prove to have been drawn in 1763, skeptics will point out that we still only have the mapmaker's word that he copied if from a 1418 map.

New archaeological look at early Georgia evangelists

Georgia:   When Spanish explorers first arrived in the New World in 1513, they established outposts and missions in today's southeastern United States. Mission Santa Catalina de Guale, believed to be the oldest church in Georgia, existed from the 1570s to 1680.  In the 1980s, archaeologists excavated the once-lost mission on St. Catherine's Island. They found evidence that the Guale Tribe ( pronounced Wally by the Spanish,)  held onto cherished tribal traditions some even after converting to Christianity. "The Catholics believed that you can't take it with you, but the Indians believed otherwise," said archaeologist Dennis Blanton, speaking about artifacts buried with 400 Indians in separate graves under the mission. "These artifacts talk to us about a compromise."  Catholic mission life was far more wide-spread on America's eastern coast than in California or the Southwest, but the southeast's warm, moist climate has dissolved most mission history.  As a curator for Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Blanton is creating a permanent exhibit that gives  Georgians a better understanding of the Native American history in their state.

Sacagawea's son might be buried in corner of Oregon
Oregon:  About 400 miles from Salem, off a rural gravel road, lies the grave of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. Charbonneau was the son of Sacagawea, the Lemhi Shoshone woman who traveled with the Lewis and Clark expedition 200 years ago. During that trip, she carried Charbonneau, named "Pomp" by William Clark, on her back.  Pomp's burial site has gained attention in recent years because of the bicentennial commemoration of the expedition. Bob Skinner, Jr., who owns a nearby ranch, can tell when there have been visitors. "You'd be surprised how many people come and leave some token or put a little money on top of the gravestone," he said. "It's usually less than a dollar."  Rose Ann Abrahamson,  the great-great-great-grandniece of Sacagawea, left a recent dedication at Charbonneau's burial site. "We felt him. We know that he is buried there," Abrahamson said, describing how they stood in a circle and sprinkled tobacco and cedar on the grave. "When we stood back, one of the older people felt an arm go around them. He was grateful that we had come.

Celebrating life of a true leader
Maine: Passamaquoddy tribal governor Melvin Francis was killed in a car accident as he returned from a meeting. Francis was part of a generation of Maine Indians whorevived their traditional culture in the 1960s. Later, they advocated for economic development projects that would improve their people's lives.  Francis was described as a peacemaker with the ability to bring  people together.  Mourners included leaders of all of Maine's American Indian groups, as well as state political leaders led by Gov. John  Baldacci. The Democratic and Republican leaders of the state House and Senate also attended. State flags were ordered to be flown at half staff.  "This is the first time ever that we've had the Maine congressional  people (attend a service) when a native person dies," said Francis's friend, Bob Newell. "The governor of the state of Maine has never been here when a native person dies.  It's a great honor to have these people here."   Recently, Francis had told Newell that when he died, he would try to find his ancestors. "[Francis] said he would tell them, 'We're still here,'" Newell said.  " We still speak our language. We still hear the drum. We still dance.' "

Youth pace tribe's 'spiritual event'

Chief Dull Knife Chief Little Wolf

South Dakota: Something magical happened in the Black Hills during the recent Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run. One young Northern Cheyenne runner accidentally dropped the sacred eagle feather staff that had been carried by hand for hundreds of miles.  Phillip Whiteman Jr., the relay- run's founder, picked it up and said a prayer. When he looked overhead, he saw two eagles circling and screeching.  Not far away, he saw a buffalo.  He took this as a message.  "The Cheyenne are known as the buffalo people," Whiteman said.  This year, a record 120 runners participated in the Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run.  The runners were accompanied by a fleet of  vans, chaperones and supporters who met cheering spectators along the way.  Before the run and along the way, leaders and participants prayed, told their ancestors' story and focused on team-building, communication, unity, discipline  and honor.  "It's planting seeds," Whiteman said. The annual run remembers the Cheyenne who broke out of  their wooden barracks and escaped from Nebraska's Fort Robinson in 1879.  At that time, Dull Knife and Little Wolf decided to lead 300  tribal members from Oklahoma, where they were dying, to their ancestral land in Montana. (Those who remained behind are known today as Southern Cheyenne.) When the marchers reached Nebraska, , they split into two bands.  Little Wolf led the healthy to Montana; Dull Knife took the sick and weak and seek help from the Lakota tribe.  The U.S.  Cavalry caught Dull Knife's band and took them to Fort  Robinson.  That winter, troops locked the Cheyenne's in the barracks without food, water or heat.  After five days, they decided to break out.  On Jan.  9, 1879, the band fled the barracks, and a bloody gun battle ensued.  Most of the band was killed within minutes; many survivors were later killed by U.S.  soldiers.  But Dull Knife and a few others survived and embarked on a long, difficult journey to the north.  Among the comments by this year's Spiritual Runners:
What was the hardest part?   "Running up the hills," said Brandi Nightwalker, 7
"It means a lot to do it for our ancestors,"  said Shann Wolfname, 17

Speak it good and strong
California: By 1950 -- 100 years after settlers began arriving at the North Coast of California -- the Yurok language was all but gone. Yurok children were taken away from their families and sent to boarding schools, where they were beaten for using their native tongue.  People were made to feel ashamed of their language.  As the elders and grandparents died, the Yurok language faded away almost to nothing.  But two years ago, 62-year-old Kathleen Vigil founded the Yurok Elder Wisdom Preservation Project because her mother's generation -- the last generation to experience the old Yurok ways -- would not be around forever. Today, language and traditional classes are held.  In the coming years, the Yurok Elder Wisdom Preservation Project hopes to develop language lesson plans, increase attendance at community language classes,  and institute a summer immersion camp for students in which only Yurok would be spoken.  In the meantime, Yurok leaders will continue recording the speech and stories of the elder generation, while they still have time.
 North Coast Journal

Kodiak residents visit New Zealand Native culture conference
Alaska:  In November, a delegation from Kodiak Island joined over 3,000 people attending  the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in New Zealand. Their goal was to learn how the Maori people have been so successful at maintaining their indigenous language and culture. The Maori language an official language of New Zealand, and Maori children grow up fluent in their tribal tongue.  The Maori tribe is also influential in the government.  ''It seems everything they do, they've got the golden touch,'' said April Counceller.  The Kodiak Island delegates are involved in the Alutiiq language program.  Kodiak Island has only 35 fluent Alutiiq speakers whose average age is 74. That  exceeds the life expectancy for Natives in the region.  Counceller said it was moral boost to see people all over the world fighting the same battles to continue their cultures. ''There's a lot of urgency to what we do,'' Counceller said.

Program seeks to get Indians on the Internet
A recent study, "Falling Through The Net: Defining The Digital Divide,” reveals that too many American Indians and Alaska Natives do not have Internet access, a key tool in language and cultural preservation. “With studies indicating that access to computers among many Native American households lags behind the national average by 15% and access to the Internet by roughly 19%, it’s clear that more has to be done to make Native American families aware of the advantages and opportunities that are associated with bringing technology into their lives,” said Terry Braun, Seneca.  Now, the Native American Family Technology Journey hopes to correct that imbalance. In November it held a series of seminars across Indian Country.  NAFTJ is also establishing a forum to show how the Internet can help preserve languages and traditional customs from one generation to the next.  One of NAFTJ's sponsors, IBM, has established a Language Materials Development Center to help tribes preserve, teach, and share their language.  The company has also developed the Native Keyboard Input Method Editor, which allows a user to switch from English to another language with a simple “hotkey” or command.  
Native American Family Technology Journey:
Native American Times
  Volume 2

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