Youth and Education News
June 1, 2006 Issue 168 Volume 1
''The only non-immigrants are Native Americans.'' Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz.
Celestial Find at Ancient Andes Site
Peru: Archeologists working high in the Peruvian Andes have discovered the oldest known celestial observatory in the Americas. The observatory was built on top of a 33-foot-tall pyramid. Precise alignments mark the summer and winter solstices and features sightlines used as an astronomical calendar for agriculture. Built by an unknown people 3,000 years before the Incas, the 4,200-year-old observatory is as old as the stone pillars of Stonehenge. The 20-acre site, called Buena Vista, is just north of Lima.
Excavation of Huron village site under fire
Ontario: The Huron-Wendat Nation is asking Ontario to stop archaeologists from excavating an area in Vaughan. The Huron-Wendat says the site, which is now slated for housing, is on a nationally significant 15th-century Huron village. "I want people to have respect for our ancestors and our culture and heritage," said John Sioui, a grandson of the Huron-Wendat Bear Clan family of chiefs. The village site, called Skandatut, was home to as many as 2,000 Huron and could contain remnants of some 100 longhouses, said archaeologist Andrew Stewart. The tribe's attorney, David Donnelly, said the Huron-Wendat are concerned that irreplaceable historical, cultural and spiritual artifacts will be destroyed if the excavation proceeds. The Natural Resources Ministry said his office is looking into the matter.
DNA test debunks Indian Chief Blue Jacket myth
Ohio: Legend says the Shawnee Chief, Blue Jacket, was a white man named Marmaduke (Van) Swearingen who had been captured, then adopted, by the Shawnee. Thanks to Robert Van Trees, new DNA evidence proves that Blue Jacket was an American Indian and not white. In 1944, the historian served with Sgt. Eugene Donald Bluejacket in the Army Aircorp. Bluejacket told Van Trees that the stories he had heard were not true. Twenty years later, he met Bluejacket again, and decided to search for the truth. A team collected DNA from Blue Jacket's male descendants and four direct relatives of Swearingen. "Barring any questions of the paternity of the Chief's single son who lived to produce male heirs, the 'Blue Jacket-with-Caucasian-roots' legend is not based on reality," the team wrote. The Blue Jacket myth may have begun with a 1877 letter printed in the Daily Ohio State Journal. A 1969 biography of Blue Jacket furthered the tale, and a summer play in Xenia, Ohio, keeps the legend alive.
Clan helps search for site of last stand against Russians
Alaska: Archaeologists at Sitka National Historical Park have unearthed musket shot and cannonballs where they believe Tlingit Indians built a wooden palisade fort. In October, 1804, the Kiks.Dadi clan held off Russian attackers for six days until their ammunition was spent. On the sixth night, the story goes, the Russians heard a mournful ceremonial song rising from the fort. By morning, 800 women, children, elders and warriors had departed for the far side of their island home and to an island beyond. That retreat ended open Tlingit resistance to the Russians and ushered in what some call the Russian America period in Alaska. Irene Jimmy, a Tlingit elder from Sitka and a descendant of the warring Kiks.Dadi clan, remembers hearing about the Battle of Sitka as a child. But she learned less about the details and more about the powerful emotions inside her people. "I got little bits of information from my mother, but it was such a sad, sad thing for her to repeat it," she said. "She would get tearful when she talked about it." Though clan members have been long silent about the events, Jimmy and others are now cooperating with the National Park Service to pinpoint the location of the fort.
Geronimo Descendant Will Ask Bushes to Help Return Warrior's Remains
Connecticut: Harlyn Geronimo is the great grandson of the Chiricahua Apache warrior, Geronimo. Geronimo's remains had supposedly been buried in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His skull was stolen, many claim, by Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W. Bush and member of Yale's Skull and Bones Society. After Yale Alumni Magazine wrote that the Skull and Bones has Geronimo's remains in a secret tomb, Harlyn received hundreds of phone calls about the his grandfather's grave. He now wants to provide Yale historians a sample of his DNA to compare with the remains. If Harlyn's DNA does match Yale's skull, the Skull and Bones Society did indeed steal the great warrior's skull. "I would like the Bushes to look into this and return what was stolen," he says.
Nukak tribe - "We are being wiped out"
Columbia: The nomadic Nukak live in small family groups deep in the rainforests of Colombia and Brazil. They move from camp to camp every few days depending on the availability of fruits, vegetables, fishing and hunting. Since their first close contact with non-Indians in 1988, more than 50% of the Nukak have died, mainly from flu and malaria transmitted by outsiders. Now, the 400 remaining tribal members are displaced because of civil war among guerrillas and the Colombian army. "We are few now; hardly any Nukak remain. The outsiders are many, and have big houses. They don't care that the Nukak are being wiped out,' says Nukak man Chorebe Colombia's left-wing guerilla army, FARC is warring the right-wing paramilitary army, AUC, to control the coca crops. In addition, the army is spraying poison on coca plantations owned by colonists on the Nukak's land. The remaining tribal members run a huge risk of being killed in crossfire if they return to their Amazon forest home. "If the authorities do not act swiftly to protect the Nukak and their land, Colombia's last nomads face extinction," said Survival International director, Stephen Corry.
Learn more and sign a petition protecting the Nukak: http://www.survival-international.org/news.php?id=1610
He shed 'too white' and 'too Native' to find himself
Alaska: Quentin Simeon, 29, was born to two half-Native, half-white parents and calls himself a "half-breed." He grew up a depressed and troubled teen without an identity. At one point, he lived in shelters or slept on the streets. Quentin's life changed after winning first place in the 2002 Native Oratory Society contest with a self-reflective speech called "A Glimpse into a Tannish-Brown Soul." Winning that contest sparked Simeon to talk about his culture, said Dan Henry, who founded NOS. "The more he spoke, the more he realized who he was, " Henry said. Simeon soon began speaking at town gatherings. In the middle of one youth and elders conference, Simeon's father walked in. The two hadn't seen each other in a long time, and Simeon talked through his tears while speaking directly to his dad ... "Something to the effect that, 'Dad, I really needed you,'" Henry recalls. Simeon was exposing a topic often taboo, Henry said. "People knew this was going on -- obvious from statistics -- but no one had really talked about it so frankly and so personally," he said, recalling the audience's tears. "He was clear about his father's absence without being harsh about his father. It was a very honorable way to go. There wasn't anger in there." A few weeks ago, Quentin received his bachelor's degree from the University of Alaska/Anchorage honors program while his wife and two children looked on. "I never expected to attend or even graduate from college," he told the audience. Simeon is now a cultural programs manager for the Native Heritage Center, where he has worked for three years. The job is a great fit for where he is in his life -- embracing an endangered Native way of life, he said.
Historic Nunavut flag found in trash can
Nunavut: On April 1, 1999, Nunavut's first legislature held it's first meeting at an Iqaluit school. In all of the excitement of the day, however, no one thought to save the flag flying in front of the school. It was discovered several months later, ripped and crumpled, in a school garbage pail. "When I walked into the staff room, this was literally in a ball in the garbage," said Brian Carey. "I said, 'My God this is a piece of history, I don't want it in the trash heap. " Carey pulled the flag out of the garbage, and took it with him when he moved to Saint John in 2001. Last month, Canadian Heritage employee Wendy Thomas spotted the flag while attending a conference in Saint John. "I think this is an extremely important record of Inuit culture and history," she said. "I hope it finds a home in an archive to be restored." Carey says he'd gladly send the flag to its original home in Nunavut. "I don't know if people believe this, but I never felt I owned it. I felt I rescued it."
See Nunavut's first day: http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/1999/04/01/nuna990401.html
Interviews capture Oneida culture
Wisconsin: L. Gordon McLester and two video producers are interviewing hundreds of Oneida elders to preserve the tribes oral histories. The interviews will be put onto DVDs and shared with schools, libraries, families and others interested in remembering Oneida culture and history. "Our children need to learn our history from our point of view," McLester said. McLester has interviewed 375 Oneida elders and plans to interview more than 100 more. He will share his information on the Internet and cross-reference the material to make research easier. "It's important to do this because the youth today have no idea how things were back then," said Oneida elder Walter Reed, 61, who grew up on the Oneida reservation in a two-room house that had no running water or electricity. "They can see how good they've got it." Both Reed and McLester hope kids will see the larger picture of the Oneida tribe. "My concern is that they understand what it is to be Oneida," McLester said. "They have a heritage."
Powwow a celebration of togetherness
New Mexico: The Gathering of Nations Powwow is the largest event of its kind in North America. It helps American Indians maintain their cultural identity. "It's part of my culture and my heritage," said Maria Russell. "There are so few of us left - although this event would make you believe otherwise - that it's important for us to all get together and keep our culture strong."
This year's Gathering of Nations Powwow included
More than 3000 dancers and singers;
A drumming competition of over 40 drums;
Attendance by members of more than 500 tribes
View almost 7,000 photos: http://www.gatheringofnations.com/native_American_photos/index.htm
Unlocking the secret sounds of language: Life without time or numbers
Amazon Rainforest: In 1977 Professor Dan Everett, then a missionary, decided to teach the 350 members of the Amazon's Pirahã tribe how to count. He would not succeed. Instead, he found a world without numbers, without time, one where people appeared to hum and whistle rather than speak. The Pirahã are a unique people whose language excludes time, numbers, colors, and a shared past. The Pirahã language is simple. Men use only 8 consonants and 3 vowels while Pirahã women have the smallest number of "speech sounds" in the world: 7 consonants and 3 vowels. There is no past tense, no means of saying, for example, "I have eaten." The concept of decorative art is alien; even simple drawings provoke intense frustration. The Pirahã are also believed to be the world's only society without a creation myth; when asked how their ancestors came into existence they say, "The world is created" or "All things are made". The Pirahã language, Professor Everett claims, disproves Noam Chomsky's theory that the human mind has an inborn capacity for language and that all languages share certain basic rules which enable children to understand the meaning of complicated syntax. The Pirahã language has none of these features; every sentence stands alone and refers to a single event. Instead of saying "If it rains, I will not go", the tribe says: "Raining I go not." Professor Everett will return to Amazon this summer with PhD students and W. Tecumseh Fitch, who joined Chomsky and Dr. Marc Hauser in establishing the original theory of universal grammar. Fitch is keen to see whether the tribe does indeed refute their long-established theory.
Dolphins, Like Humans, Recognize Names
Washington DC: A new study says Bottlenose dolphins call each other by whistling names, making them the only animals besides humans known to recognize such identity information. More than that, two dolphins may refer to a third by the third animal's name. "It's a very interesting finding that encourages further research, because they are using whistles as referential signals -- that's what words are," said Laela Sayigh, one of three authors of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "I tend to shy away from using the word 'language' myself, because it's such a loaded term," she added. "I still really feel strongly that there is no evidence for something like our language. (Dolphins) have got the cognitive skills at least to have referential signals."
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