Native Village 

Youth and Education News

July 1, 2006 Issue 169  Volume 1

"The Canada-U.S. border is not the creation of the First Peoples of this land.  Historically, our people moved freely throughout our territory and across what is now the border. We recognize that border security is a key concern for all North Americans, and [we must] address those concerns while ensuring that the rights of First Nations on both sides of the border are respected and protected."  Phil Fontaine, Assembly of First Nations National Chief

Keeping the flame alive


North Carolina: Cherokee youth runners recently carried flaming torches through the tribe's historic homelands and a reunion between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians from Oklahoma.  Nearly two centuries ago, the Cherokees were forcibly removed from the southeastern homelands. Those who stayed behind and hid in the mountains are today's Eastern Cherokee. The Keetoowah are among those who left on the trail. This joint council between leaders was the first such meeting between the branches. The meeting was held  next to a mound that is all that remains of Keetoowah (gih-doo-WAH). "It's our original site," said George Wickliffe, chief of the Keetoowah Cherokee. "This is where we all come from, all of us. The original fire still exists."  Tribal elder Tom Belt prayed in the Cherokee language and remembered that long ago, the Cherokee were told that their tribe would one day be separated and later made whole again.  "In our life, we rarely get that chance when we're able to do one thing for our people," Belt said. "This is that time.  (Carrying the flame) is not a small thing. [Such ceremonies] are markers that tell us we are still one people."  The runners included 10-year-old Isaac Teasdale who carried a torch carved in the shape of eagle talons.  Isaac was asked to run because of his dedication to learning the Cherokee language.

Huge 1,500-year-old pyramid discovered in Mexico City
Mexico: Archeologists have discovered a huge 1,500-year-old pre-Hispanic pyramid in Mexico City.  The pyramid has the same sized base as the giant Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan, also known as the "City of the Gods,"  is Mexico's biggest ancient city.  Built between A.D. 400 and 500, this newest temple was built by the same people who built Teotihuacan. Evidence suggests it was used for ceremonial purposes.  Buried beneath two feet of dirt, the hill is now used each Easter to reenact the crucifixion of Christ. The find is one more example of important sites that became Catholic places of worship after Spanish invaders imposed their beliefs on indigenous life.
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An integral part of daily life until 1820, hula was restricted for 76 years
Hawaii: Prior to the Protestant missionaries' arrival in 1820, hula was an integral part of Hawaiian's everyday life. Some dances were sacred and could be performed only by selected individuals, while others were enjoyed by the population at large. Hula was one of the primary forms of Hawaiian artistic and religious expression.  But Christian  missionaries were shaken by the sight of "half-naked heathens" engaging in "lewd and lascivious" dances.  Many Hawaiians listened to the missionaries and stopped dancing.  In 1830, co-ruler Kuhina Nui Ka'ahumanu, who was an early convert to Christianity, issued an oral edict forbidding hula, chants, songs of pleasure, and "foul speech and bathing by women in public places." The edict carried the full measure of traditional Hawaiian law which could include banishment or death. But after Kuhina died in 1832, her edict was largely ignored, and the people cautiously indulged in hula once more.  1858, the Hawaiian Evangelical Society -- composed entirely of missionaries --  pleaded for an outright ban on the activities.  By 1859, Hawaiians had to have a permit to practice hula or face $500 fines and up to 6 months in prison. In 1896, three years after the United States overthrew Hawaiian leaders, the law was repealed. New leaders wanted to open Hawaii to more tourism, and they saw commercial hula as one means to do that. Today, hula is practiced freely and openly throughout the world.
Photo: Copyright © Molokai Plumerias

Native Hawaiians Plan for Self-Rule
Hawaii: Native Hawaiians are forming a sovereign government which could someday control the lands and money lost when the U.S. took over the islands. The state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs supports a nation-building proposal that calls for Hawaiian registration, new districts, elections and a constitutional convention.  The new government would work with the state and federal governments to absorb Hawaiian programs, revenues and former crown land held in trust by the state.  "It's about reconciling history," said Haunani Apoliona. "As Native Hawaiians move into more leadership roles in this process of self-determination and oversight over our assets, it also will bring health and healing to the community."  This new plan comes after a bill recognizing Native Hawaiians in a way similar to American Indians failed in the U.S. Senate. The new proposed government could take effect as early as July, 2007.
H-Amindian Listserv

Tulalips will paddle to annual Gathering
Washington: An ancient tradition among Pacific Northwest tribes were annual canoe journeys.  In 1989, the late Jerry Jones, a master canoe carver, revived the tradition. Now Tulalip tribal members are practicing for 2006's grueling canoe journey to the Muckleshoot Indian reservation.  "Most journey days are eight, nine, 10 hours out on the water," said canoe skipper, Jason Gobin.  "This year we'll be out on the water for seven or eight days."  Dozens of tribes and up to 100 canoes are expected to travel from the Puget Sound region and arrive July 31 for a five-day festival at  Muckleshoot.  Three of Jone's canoes will make the trip.
Master Carver's brochure:
photo credit:

The Road Back In Louisiana
Louisiana: Three decades ago, Isle de Jean Charles was all trees and farmland where cattle grazed, adults trapped game, and children from the Biloxi-Chitimacha tribe ran barefoot.  But today, the area is a grass skirt of mushy marshland and rippling open waters that lead to the Gulf of Mexico. "Water,"  said tribal chief, Albert Naquin.  "All water." Thirty square miles of South Louisiana wetlands vanish every year into the Gulf. A few years ago, the tribal residents rejected a government relocation proposal. Since then, water and mortality have continued to creep across the land. Naquin fears that if he sues the federal government for not protecting the island with levees, he will jeopardize his tribe's application for federal recognition.  He prefers the government build homes on the mainland, then allow island residents to leave when ready.  But that means losing tribal connection to the land. Yet, he fears that if he does nothing, his tribe may not survive the next colossal hurricane. "It is terrible for me," the chief of the Biloxi-Chitimacha said.  "I thought I could change the world, but the world is changing me." /louisiana/index.html?inline=nyt-geo
Mahogany Imports are Wiping out Peru Tribes
Peru: In the jungles of southern Peru, indigenous tribes face a threat from illegal loggers who move into remote areas to cut down rare mahogany trees.  "Tens of thousands of tons of Peruvian mahogany are imported into the US for luxury dining room tables, household trimmings and automobile dashboards," says Ari Her-showitz from the Natural Resources Defence Council.  "But Americans have no idea that buying mahogany contributes to the destruction of the rainforest and threatens the people who live there. People are dying - it is a crisis right now."  Much of the logging  takes place in the Tahuamanu rainforest, in areas specifically set aside for indigenous Indians and uncontacted peoples. Situated near the border with Brazil and Bolivia, this rainforest area is home to at least four indigenous tribes, including the Yami-nahua and the Amahuaca. The tribes are being destroyed through disease, displacement, and clashes with the invaders.
H-Amindian Listserve

Chickasaw elder’s stories win grandson an award
Oklahoma: A Chickasaw man's story of his ancestors -- handed down to him by one of the original Chickasaw enrollees -- has won a prestigious award.  “Shadow of an Indian Star,” has earned the “Best Regional Fiction in the Midwest” award as part of the 2006 Independent Publisher Book Awards.  Written by Bill and Cindy Paul, the book relates the tale of three generations of Bill's Chickasaw ancestors. The book was created from stories Bill's grandfather told him as a child.  “Shadow of an Indian Star” follows Bill’s ancestors as they intermarry with the Chickasaw tribe and battle to save themselves and the Chickasaw Nation from annihilation. "Our awards judges appreciated how this book brings the history of Western migration to life," said awards director Jim Barnes. "The Pauls' story is a great blend of Indian and white American history, and explains the formation of Oklahoma and the Chickasaw Nation in an entertaining and compelling way."
Native American Times

New speakers of ancient tongues
Arizona: Indigenous languages are disappearing at an alarming rate. There are many reasons, including the U.S. government's efforts to assimilate American Indians into mainstream society.  In 1995, the Alaska Native Language Center found that of the 175 indigenous languages still spoken in the United States, 155 were no longer taught to children.   Today, many American Indian tribes are working hard to keep their tribal languages alive. Examples:
Arizona:  Toronto Ooh Nation children and parents learn their ancestral language in special classes.
Nebraska: Ho-Chunk youths absorb an elder's words preserved in 1,500 audiotapes about life on the reservation. 
Montana: Northern Cheyenne mothers immerse their newborns and toddlers in a new language program.
These were among the initiatives presented at this summer's conference, "Gathering Talk: Documenting, Describing and Revitalizing Our Languages, " held by the American Indian Language Development Institute. Since 1979, the residential program has offered indigenous language training to teachers.  This year, fellowships from the National Science Foundation enabled representatives from many Indian Nations to join, including Oneida, Ho-Chunk, Black feet, Couchette, Sakhalin, Southern Ute, Cheyenne, Laguna-Kernels, Kanagawa, Toronto Ooh and Kiel Ooh.  "There's an old legend that says if the language ever dies, the world will cease to exist," said Caroline Frenchmen, Ho-Chunk.   "I don't want it to die."
American Indian Language Institute:

Mandatory Mohawk
Quebec: On Kahnawake streets, new traffic signs read STOP/TESTAN.  The signs are part of Kahnawake's goal to revive their native language and ancestral cultures.  As part of this effort, the band council will require Kahnawake's 900 public employees to enroll in Mohawk language lessons by September 1.  The target is to make 30% of Kahnawake's public employees fluent speakers in five years, 60% in ten years, and 80% in 15 years. Grand Chief Michael Delisle admits some people are resisting the plan, but he insists it's necessary -- only 1,000 of Kahnawake's 8, 000 residents can speak Mohawk. "The value of what this could mean socially and politically is monumental," Delisle said, adding that "so much of who we are is in our language.  We want to re-establish it as part of our heritage."  Rosetta Stone is providing Mohawk language interactive software--the first time it's been used to teach a native language.
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Nanwalek Fighting to Preserve Dying Language
Alaska: In Nanwalek, the last fluent speakers of Sugt'stun want the school district to give academic credit students for studying the dying language.  But Kenai Peninsula school officials point to budget cuts, federal education standards and Nanwalek's low test score and say students must focus on academics such as English and math.  "If we add something somewhere, we have to cut somewhere else," said Norma Holmgaard, a district director. "Personally, I think it's really important, but professionally, I can say, is it the responsibility of the School District, or is it the responsibility of Nanwalek?"  Members of the 230-person community say the Sugt'stun language will disappear if it isn't passed down to their children.  "Kenai Peninsula is the Sugpiaq homeland. We are the last band of survivors of the Sugpiaq people," said  former bilingual aide Sally Ash.  "We consider it an insult that we have no say about how our village school is run."  School officials suggest Nanwalek students wanting language credits could take an online Spanish course.
H-Amindian Listserve

Learn Inuktitut or iqqanaijaaqajjaagunniiqtutit, mandarins told
Nunavut: By 2008, Nunavut's senior government officials must be able to speak Inuktitut or risk losing their jobs.  "... they have to be fluent, they have to work with members and with people within Nunavut," said Premier Paul Okalik, who revealed the policy. "They should understand and be able to communicate with Inuit that may be unilingual."  Inuktitut is the first language of 85% of the territory's population. Okalik believes senior staff can be speaking Inuktitut within 18 months. Education Minister Ed Picco, a non-Inuit, has been increasing his use of Inuktitut and backs the premier's move. "He's not saying that other languages cannot be used," he said. "He wants to have the fully bilingual system in place."
Learning Inuktitut
In English, and in most other European languages, a sentence is a string of beads. Each bead is a tiny little word, and the beads are strung together to make meaning.
"I am happy to be here." = "Je suis content d'être ici." [French] = "Yo estoy contento de estar aquí." [Spanish]
But in Inuktitut the words are like Lego blocks, intricate pieces locked together to produce a nugget of meaning. "Quviasuktungatamaaniinnama" = (happy + I here + in + be + because I)
Another word:
"Pariliarumaniralauqsimanngittunga" =  "I never said I wanted to go to Paris."
These words are produced by a grammatical system that is much more regular than anything in English. The grammar is not only precise, it is complex."

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