Native Village 

Youth and Education News

January 25, 2006 Issue 163  Volume 4

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

The Chestnut's Comeback
Ohio: At one time the tree known as the King of the Forest ranged from Maine to Georgia and as far west as Indiana — an estimated 4,000,000,000 trees. A mature chestnut tree averaged five feet in diameter and up to 100 feet tall. But in 1904, a Chinese chestnut tree imported from Asia carried with it an Asian fungus blight. By the 1950s, the blight had spread across America, leaving dead chestnut trees in it's wake. And it continues today,  killing pure American chestnut once they reach 8- 10 inches in diameter.  In 1983, The American Chestnut Foundation took up the restoration cause by trying to produce a blight resistant tree. They have now reached their goal: hybrids that are 15/16th American, 1/16th Chinese -- a chestnut tree closely matching the American chestnut but highly blight resistant.   In 2004, scientists planted 300 hybrid chestnut trees at a nursery in Marietta. Some will be replanted this spring at abandoned Ohio strip mines with hopes of a chestnut rebirth.  It will take 5 years before these chestnuts produce nuts. "Chestnut is an extremely rich seed, high in carbohydrates and the fat that large animals need to over-winter adequately," said Brian McCarthy,  professor of forest ecology. "Deer, wild turkey, bear — these critters will pound down chestnuts in winter. It could mean a lot in terms of survival and viability for a whole variety of wildlife."  It will take 5-10 years before the 15/16th American chestnuts are sold commercially, McCarthy said. After pockets of trees are planted throughout Ohio, it will take 100 years for the American chestnut to again have the impact of a forest giant.
Dayton Daily News

Space junk continuing to accumulate
Washington DC: More than 9,000 pieces of space debris are orbiting the Earth, and NASA says the hazard will only get worse in the next few years.   And currently there's no workable and economic way to clean up the mess.  Even if space launches were halted now, pieces of debris would continue growing as items collide with one another and break into more pieces. As orbits decay,  items will fall back to Earth. "...we are not claiming the sky is falling," said J.C. Liou. "We just need to understand what the risks are."  The most debris-crowded area is between 550 - 625 miles above the Earth, Liou said. The international space station operates at about 250 miles altitude and space shuttle flights tend to range between 250 miles and 375 miles, he said.  But the growing collection of junk can pose a risk to commercial and research flights and other space activities.The pieces of space junk measure 4 inches or more, totaling some  5,500 tons.

Researchers find new toxic threat to polar bears
Arctic: Researchers discovered traces of PBDEs in 139 bears captured and tested at 10 locations around the Arctic. The chemicals were widely used as a flame retardant during the 1990s in furniture, computers and other plastic products.   "We don't know exactly what [PBDE] does, but it may contribute overall to their reproductive rate going down or their ability to fight disease,"  said scientist Derek Muir.  Muir says while PBDEs are no longer used in many countries, there's no way to reverse the damage already done to polar bears and other Arctic animals.  He says governments and manufacturers need to continue to look for alternatives that won't have an impact on the environment for years to come.

Montana: The National Park Service has captured more than 650 of America's last wild buffalo since January 12, 2006.  To date, Yellowstone National Park officials have sent nearly 400 wild bison to slaughter.  Included in the slaughter were 41 bison calves and 100 bull bison who both pose 0% risk of transmitting the livestock disease, brucellosis.  "Wild bison migrate and that's a natural fact.  By staunching this phenomenon the Park Service is harming, not protecting them," said Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign.  "The world's first national park should be celebrating and defending bison migration. Instead they are punishing it, even knowing there's never been a transmission of brucellosis from wild bison to cattle."  US Homeland Security agents have been escorting Yellowstone's bison to slaughter facilities up to 500 miles away.
Buffalo Field Campaign (footage available):
photo: Buffalo Field Campaign

Dog Virus May Be Killing Yellowstone Wolves
Montana: According to officials at Yellowstone National Park, 47 of the 69 wolf pups born last year have died. And though there's no official word on the cause,  experts believe a dog disease called parvovirus is responsible. "We won't know for sure until we can trap and test the animals this winter," said biologist Dan Stahler.  Parvovirus is carried by many wild animals, including coyotes, foxes, and some wolves. It is highly contagious and is usually spread through contact with the feces of infected animals.  The reason wolf pups die is because they are weaker. Once they are weaned, they lose the protective elements from their mother's milk and are suddenly susceptible to disease. "It's in the environment like fleas are in the environment," said Carolyn Sime, wolf program director for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "It is just out there and they can pick it up."  Park officials are cautiously optimistic that this will be a temporary setback for the wolves. "We are not alarmed, but definitely concerned," Stahler said. "Our prediction is we will rebound."  In the meantime, Yellowstone officials said they will closely monitor the park's wolves.
Wallpaper photo: gray wolf at Ely:

Cherokees step up to the plate to protect endangered bat
Oklahoma: The Ozark Big-Eared bat is considered the second rarest animal in the U.S., right behind the California Condor.  Now the Cherokee Nation is establishing conservation area to protect the miniature mammal. The move came after a bat colony was discovered on a tribal citizen's property that lie within tribal jurisdiction. “Some wildlife experts have claimed this to be the find of the year,” said Natural Resource Specialist Pat Gwin.  “Some people study these bats their entire careers without ever seeing one in person.”  The colony was discovered by accident. The Cherokee citizen contacted the tribe to appraise his land.   During inspection, officials explored the property's caves and found the bats living inside.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials recommended preserving a portion of land around the caves as a conservation area.  They believe only 2,000 Ozark Big-Eared Bats are  still in existence. 
Native American Times. Copyright © 2005

Southeast Natives Protest Federal Restrictions on Eagle Parts
Alaska:  Almost 3,000 names wait on a federal list to legally obtain eagle feathers for religious observations. But in Juneau, the feathers are easily found on beaches, in yards and in parking lots where thousands of eagle feathers land after the birds' annual molt. The law, which makes it a crime to pick up eagle feathers, is overlooked by many simply because people don't know a permit is needed first.  Only the National Eagle Repository near Denver can legally grant eagle parts for use by Native Americans.  Brad Fluetsch, a Juneau resident and member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, thinks the federal permit program is a disgrace.  Until he realized it was illegal, Fluetsch gave bald eagle feathers to other Natives.  Now the Sealaska Heritage Institute has protested federal laws regarding bald eagles in Alaska.  They ask that Alaska Natives be exempt from the permit requirement because Alaska's eagles are genetically distinct from birds found in the lower 48 states. They are asking for Alaska's eagles to be taken off the endangered species list.
Associated Press

Native Film Festival explores contemporary pressures on indigenous people
If you were Native American, you were dispossessed.  If  you were African-American, you were enslaved.  And if you were a mixed-race descendant of both minorities, it was possible to suffer the worst of both worlds.  So says "Black Indians," a one-hour documentary produced by Steven Heape.  Many distinguished Americans, including Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, Jesse Owens, James Earl Jones, and Tina Turner are of both heritages.  Nearly everyone interviewed in "Black Indians" (named  Best Native American Film of the Year in 2001) expressed pride in both black and  Indian cultures.  "My son was asked by a reporter the other day why he was so good in basketball," said Phil Givens, African-American and Cherokee.  "And he told the reporter, 'If you were black and Indian, you'd be good too.'  ... So we're  unique and special, and my kids understand that."

Creek singer readies for comeback
Oklahoma: For decades, Creek singer Linda Imperial has been recording music in some of music’s most high-energy genres.  Her hits include 1983’s “Die Hard Lover,” as well as "Stranger,” "Fire," and a cover of the Meatloaf classic "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad.” Linda has just released a new single titled “Brand New Day,” and her new album will be out soon.   “My Native American heritage is something I am so proud of,” Linda said. “I am extremely proud of the nobility of the culture. I have lived on reservations and I am familiar with the issues and sensitive to them.”  Imperial is also a breast cancer survivor. “I had to go through chemotherapy and radiation,” the Creek singer said.  Imperial comes from a distinguished family which includes Alexander Lawrence Posey,  the legendary Creek poet and journalist.
Linda Imperial:
Native American Times

Reach The Rez Radio is hosted by well-known actor and rapper Litefoot (Cherokee).  Reach the Rez is a high energy, hip hop, R&B and talk radio program with motivational and Drug and Alcohol Free messages.  The Reach the Rez Tour is headlined by Litefoot who now has speaking engagements and concerts at over 200 reservations across Indian.
Reach the Rez Radio:

Senator finds defense funds for Arctic Games
Alaska: The 2006 Arctic Winter Games will be held this March in Kenai. Game organizers have received a much needed $500,000 from Congress.  Alaskan senator Ted Stevens convinced Congress to allocate the money for security at the Games.  The money will come  from defense funds set aside for international sporting events held in the United States.  Game organizers are also holding fundraisers and searching for donations and state grants to cover the remaining $300,000 shortfall.

2006 Arctic Games:
 Volume 3 

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