Native Village 

Youth and Education News

October 1, 2006 Issue 172  Volume 4

"The use of American Indian mascots as symbols in school and university athletic programs is particularly troubling. Schools and universities are places of learning. These mascots are teaching stereotypical, misleading and, too often, insulting images of American Indians. And these negative lessons are not just affecting American Indian students; they are sending the wrong message to all students.”    Ronald F. Levant, President, American Psychological Association
Earth Headed for Warmest Temps in a Million Years
NASA's James Hansen and colleagues are signaling the approach of temperatures that humans have never experienced. In about 45 years, temperatures on Earth will average about 59 degrees Farenheit, believed to be earth's temperature 1,000,000 years ago. "Humans are now in control of the Earth's climate, for better or worse," Hansen said.  Hansen warned we can't wait that long to cut greenhouse gas pollution, because it takes decades for our climate to respond to changes. "We need to get started now," he says. "We can't wait another decade or two to take this seriously."  And in a highly unusual move for a scientific paper, the authors rip apart assertions from science fiction writer Michael Crichton that Hansen's climate change calculations were "wrong by 300 percent."  Hansen says Crichton distorted his scientific work in public, in testimony before Congress, and in a meeting with President Bush -- even though he is not a climate expert.  The report was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mayans Occupy Canadian-Owned Mine In Campaign For Farming Land
Guatemala:  About 2,000 Q'eqchi Indians have moved into a large, Canadian-owned, mining complex. They  have set up camps and are demanding their lands be returned for subsistence farms. In 1996, the UN-sponsored Truth Commission determined that indigenous communities have the right to oversee their historical lands.  The demand was part of a peace agreement that ended Guatemala's brutal civil war.   But a recent report by Oxfam about the El Estor Mayan community said:  "Rigorous strip mining has already degraded the fragile ecosystem, eroding the thin top-soil in mountain passes inhabited by Mayan communities.  The mountainsides have been deforested, causing landslides and a litany of environmental hazards.  In addition to the environmental threat, there is a long history of political violence between the mining companies and the indigenous communities who resist."
H-Amindian Listserve

N.W.T. caribou herd drops by 60,000 since 2003
Northwest Territories: The largest caribou herd in the Northwest Territories has shrunk to less than a third of the size it was 20 years ago. There are 128,000 barren ground caribou in the Bathurst herd now, compared to 186,000 in 2003 and 472,000 in 1986.  The herd lives between Yellowknife and Bathurst Inlet where roads and diamonds mines have sprung up in the last couple of decades. The Bathurst herd does not include the Cape Bathurst herd which lives in the Beaufort Delta region and is also suffering a decline.
Animated map of caribou historic and current range:
H-Amindian Listserve
National Eagle Center Receives $500,000 Donation
Minnesota: The Prairie Island Indian Community recently presented a $500,000 check to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. The NEC is the first nationally-recognized center dedicated to honoring and preserving the eagle.  With close spiritual ties to the eagle, the Prairie Island Indian Community hopes its support will help ensure that future generations can learn about and appreciate this important piece of their culture.  "The eagle and its feathers are sacred and highly revered in our traditions, culture and religion," said Audrey Bennett from the Prairie Island Indian Community.  "They represent balance, truth and strength as well as courage, wisdom and freedom."  The tribe's donation nearly completes the National Eagle Center's fund-raising goal of $4,300,000.  The center, which has a 2007 completion date, will feature an observation deck overlooking the  Mississippi River.  It will also offer exhibits and educational programs about the importance of the eagle to Naive American culture.
Indian Country Today

Wild mustangs in South Dakota are in danger of starving
South Dakota: South Dakota is experiencing the worst drought in its history. This year's rainfall has been only  4" instead of the normal 17."  And the drought is worse where the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros has its headquarters. The horses there usually receive food supplements beginning in November. But because of the drought, the ISPMB began feeding horses in July. Now they are out of money and need cash donations or hay delivered to the ranch.  Each truckload of hay now costs $2,500.00. Sixty truckloads are needed.  “We are down to the bare bones,” said Karen Sussman, president of ISPMB. “We will run out of hay by next week, and the price has gone up.”  Like many Native people, Sussman believe horses are sacred. Another believer is Harry Charger from the Sand Arch Band of Lakota.  While archaeologists say horses were extinct from North American until they returned with Spanish invaders,  Charger says they have always been here.  “As long as there were thunderstorms on this continent, the Thunderbeings were mounted on ‘The dog that was mysterious' [referring to horses].”   The Lakota people are close to the horse. Many tribes even had “medicine” for their horses.  “I remember seeing a horse get hurt when I was three years old,” said Charger. “A truck ran into it. You could hear that horse scream a mile away. My grandfather was a visionary (medicine man) ... [He] got some herbs and weeds and put it in his mouth ...and chewed it up. He said something to Someone up there and put [the medicine] on the horse and said ‘Grandson, stand up.’ The horse stood up. The horse was perfect yet there was blood all over him. The Creator gave my grandfather the vision or the authority to use the gift.”
Learn more about  International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros and help save the horses:

Symbols on Skin Connect Hearts to History Alaska
Alaska: Traditional Inupiat tattoos are part of the ongoing effort by Alaska Natives to revive their language, dancing and art. Tattoos were common throughout Alaska until the practice faded out in the 20th century due, in part, to rejection by Christian missionaries.  The practice nearly died out when children were forced to attend boarding schools during the times they would have received their first tattoos.  Now some Barrow residents are honoring their ancestors by returning to the tattooing traditions.   Some women have chin markings of family and ancient traditions.  One whaler plans a  tattooed whale-tail necklace to commemorate his whale kills.  Lars Krutak has studied the Alaskan customs and says traditional tattooes were made using bird-bone needles, sinew thread and soot to decorate human canvasses.  For women who bore elaborate designs across faces and necks to enhance beauty or fertility, it was a painful rite of passage.  For hunters, the etchings - usually dark blue - boosted bravery and could ward off evil spirits.   While skin-stitched tattoos are extremely rare today -- perhaps possessed by only a few elders -- some people are embracing the old designs.  "We need to be proud of what we are,"  said educator Jana Harcharek, who wears a discreet blue stripe on her chin.
Mask: Carved walrus tusk with tattoo designs.
Anchorage Daily News

Never forget SuAnne Big Crow!

The gym where SuAnne scored  67 points in one game.

South Dakota: In the fall of 1988, the Pine Ridge Lady Thorpes traveled to Lead for a basketball game. Freshman player SuAnne Big Crow and her teammates could hear the Lead fans yelling fake-indian war cries and words like "squaw" and "gut-eater." Some were waving food stamps, referring to the reservation's federal food aid. The Lead high school band played fake-Indian drumming and a fake-Indian tune. SuAnne quickly offered to enter the gymnasium first.  "Don't embarrass us," said one teammate.  When SuAnne led the team onto the court, she didn't run the usual full lap but instead stopped in center court.  Then she stepped into the jump-ball circle, draped her warm-up jacket over her shoulders,  and began to do the Lakota shawl dance.  "I couldn't believe it -- she was powwowin', like, 'get down!'"  Doni De Cory recalled.  Then SuAnne began to sing in Lakota, and the crowd went completely silent.  "All that stuff the Lead fans were yelling it was like she reversed it somehow," a teammate said.  In the sudden quiet, all you could hear was her Lakota song.  When SuAnne finished, she took the ball from Doni and ran a lap around the court dribbling expertly and fast. The fans began to cheer and applaud. She sprinted to the basket for a lay-up, and the fans cheered even louder.  Pine Ridge went on to win the game. "It was funny," De Cory says, "but after that game the relationship between Lead and us was tremendous. When we played Lead again ... and we got to know some of the girls on the team. Later, when we went to a tournament and Lead was there, we were hanging out with the Lead girls and eating pizza with them ... What SuAnne did made a lasting impression and changed the whole situation with us and Lead.  We found out there are some really good people in Lead."   SuAnne Big Crow was 17 years old when she died Feb. 9, 1992.
SuAnne Big Crow Girls and Boys Club:

Golfers control ancient lunar observatory
Ohio: Newark's earthworks were built 2,000 years ago by  indigenous people.  Today, Moundbuilders Country Club golf course sits on these earthworks -- the world's largest mound complex.  This ancient site includes grass covered sculpted earthen walls and freestanding mounds. Portions of the vast area align with important lunar events - including the most northern and southern sunrises and sunsets of our moon's 18.6-year cycle. Walled roads as long as 60 miles connect it with other central Ohio mound complexes. Denison College professor Michael Mickelson called Newark Earthworks site ''an ancient solid-state lunar computer,'' and a British publication places it among the wonders of the ancient world. The Ohio Historical Society owns the tract and has leased it to the country club for nearly 100 years. The first leases required that the earthworks be ''restored and preserved'' and that non-club members be allowed entry. These requirements disappeared in later leases. The country club dug into the mounds to install tees, putting greens, sidewalks, a sprinkler system, memorial plaques and more. ''The first clubhouse destroyed 100 feet of the circle,'' said Richard Shiels, OSU-Newark history professor. ''Who knows what was lost when the pool went in.'' And now people who are not members of the country club are refused access to the mounds. In 2002, Barbara Crandell, a Cherokee elder, was praying at the site. She was arrested for refusing to leave and was convicted of criminal trespass.   This year, on Oct. 14, the OSU-Newark campus will hold  Newark Earthworks Day to draw attention to indigenous people's concerns about use of the site.  "Seeing the treatment Native people are subjected to has shocked non-Native people who've gotten involved,'' said Marti Chaatsmith, Comanche/Choctaw. ''Ohio is a state where removals occurred, so a lot of Native history has not been told, and Native voices have not been heard.''   Mark Welsh agrees. "Native people in Ohio are trying to talk sense into the general population - to help them understand what a gift we have here and how it honors God," he said.  "Someday we'll take it back, and the golf course will go away.''
[Editor's note;  Octagon Mound, Ohio was named among 2007's most endangered sacred sites.]

Finding Beauty in Usefulness

New York:The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian houses more than 800,000 artifacts in New York and Washington.  The new Diker Pavilion for Native Arts and Cultures recently opened at the George Gustav Heye Center. The 6,000-square foot area can seat 400.  The marble floor was replaced with sprung maple suitable for dance performances. The walls are cherry paneled and slope gently inward. Tall glass exhibit cases are placed in the window niches, and behind the performance area is a curving wall of jade-green translucent glass.  But it was the 77 objects inside the glass cases that grabbed one's attention during a recent exhibition called "Beauty Surrounds Us."  "Beauty" offered insights into the variety and vitality of native life among those in the Western Hemisphere. Cultures throughout the Western hemisphere were represented. Among the items displayed: 
A 1915 dress of a girl from the Crow People.  The dress is black wool and cotton cloth with red borders on the sleeves and hem. It is covered with elks' teeth which symbolizes long life, wealth, status and the hunting skills of the family’s male provider. Only eyeteeth were used; it took influence to cover an entire dress with them. Elk-tooth dresses are still worn today, but the teeth are plastic.
An Aleut sea otter hunter's (1820-1860) wide brimmed hat from Kodiak Island, Alaska.  Made of bright-blue weathered wool cloth with a painted design,
beads and dentalium shells ­ luxury trade items.  Also decorating the hat were sea lion whiskers from past successes. 
Games and sports: 
A Sioux child’s sled made of buffalo ribs with a hide seat.
A huchuwish tray: a flat basket with upturned edges made of woven grass and roots by made
women from California. (Both objects are circa 1900.)  Huchuwish was played with huge dice (or “bones”) made from stones, nuts, beans, sticks, bones, and animal teeth.
Symbols of Respect:
An intricate Tlingit frontlet headdress (circa 1870) from British Columbia. The headdress is made of wood, hide and ermine skins. It's adorned with the image of a beaver (an ancestral crest animal) inlaid with abalone shell. A chief might wear it while hosting a social gathering.
Elements that Move:
A Karuk woman’s two-piece skirt (circa 1890) from California. It's made of hide decorated with clam and abalone shells that clink as a dancer performs.
A pair of Seminole women's leggings made from box turtle shells. It was worn for the Stomp Dance during the Green Corn Ceremony, an important religious and social affair.
Musical instruments: 
A beautifully carved conch shell trumpet (A.D. 900-1500) from the Huastec culture near Vera, Mexico.  To make the trumpet, the snail was removed, and the shell's top was fashioned into a mouthpiece. Tones were achieved by the player's hand position inside the shell’s opening.
View the "Beauty Surrounds Us" online exhibit:
PHOTO: Nuwukmiak Eskimo Football

Inuit Historical Film Opens Toronto Fest
Ontario: A historical film about Canada's Inuit, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, opened this year's Toronto International Film Festival. The Canadian-Danish production was set in Igloolik (in what is now Nunavut) in the 1920s. It tells Inuit history through the eyes of aging shaman Avva (Pakak Innukshuk) and his daughter Apak (Leah Angutimarik). Aboriginal actors speak their native Inuktitut language in the movie. "I think the important thing is that there are some people who told their story in their own words for the first time," said Jakob Cedergren, who plays Therkel Mathiassen.  Tanya Tagaq, an Inuk throat singer who lent her voice to the film, said she hoped the project would dispel some myths about Inuit culture.
H-Amindian Listserve

Cheechoo Gets Set to Defend Trophy
Ontario: Jonathan Cheechoo continues to bring pride to Moose Factory, population 2,700.  The San Jose Sharks star winger and member of the Moose Cree First Nations led the NHL last season with a magical 57-goal season. A few years ago, this probably seemed like an impossible dream for anyone Moose Factory, which didn't even have an indoor arena.  In fact, the community raised $10,000 when Jonathan was 15 years old so he could attend a power-skating school in Toronto.  Ten years later he became a 50-goal scorer in the NHL.  Now the First Nation kids in Moose Factory know dreams can come true.  "It's very positive," said Cheechoo, who interacts with Cree youth when they attend his Canadian games. "I set aside some time usually after our morning skates to talk with them.  They're pretty excited when they meet me, and I take that as an honour.  I must be doing something right if the kids are looking up to you.  In the same vein, you want to do your best in your life, not just in hockey.  You want to live a clean life so they have a positive role model to look up to."
H-Amindian Listserve

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