Youth and Education News
December 1, 2007 Issue 182 Volume 1
"The hearts of little children are pure, therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss." Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa) Oglala Lakota
Appeals Court Plans Unexpected Review of Native American Religious Freedom Ruling
California: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hold an 11-judge review of a critical decision involving the rights of Native American tribes' sacred lands. The case involves the U.S. Forest Service and Arizona Snowbowl Resort. In March, a three-judge court panel voted to block the resort's plan to extended the skiing season by using reclaimed wastewater to make snow. Several tribes, including the Hopi and Navajo, sued to protect their sacred mountains. While they lost in the district court, they won on the same appeal that will now be reviewed. Oral arguments will take place in Pasadena, Calif., on Dec. 11. Hopi Tribal Chairman Benjamin H. Nuvamsa is disappointed that the federal court would review the case. The Peaks are sacred to Hopi and many of the surrounding tribes. They are home to the Katsinam, spirits of Hopi ancestors.
Native Americans Hold Annual Sunrise Ceremony at Alcatraz
California: Almost 1,000 Native Americans and supporters gathered on Alcatraz Island for their annual Thanksgiving Sunrise Ceremony. The event honors the birth of the modern American Indian civil rights movement. AIM earned national attention when San Francisco State students occupied the abandoned prison site in 1969 and 1970. "We consider it relighting the fire of Indian survival, Indian resistance here in this hemisphere. To remind people that first of all, John Wayne didn't kill us all. That we're still alive, distinct cultures that are thriving here in America,” explained Bill Means, Lakota. Means credits the Alcatraz protest as the first in a world-wide movement that's still alive today. "It started out here as a small spark, a small fire of resistance and survival. It's now become a worldwide movement of indigenous people culminated by the recent declaration that was recently passed at the United Nations."
Listen to an interview with Bill Means: http://www.kcbs.com/Native-Americans-Hold-Annual-Sunrise-Ceremony-at-A/1242263
Watch a previous Thanksgiving at Alcatraz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHkzdRdU7G8
Save Our Oaks... off with the fence
California: The Memorial Grove Tree-Sit is nearly one-year old, the longest ongoing urban tree-sit protest in history. Along with tree-sitters, 50 people held a protest and prayer vigil by the sacred oaks on the UC Berkeley campus. The protestors lit candles, burned sage and demanded that the trees be preserved to honor the Ohlone people and their ancestors. The Memorial Grove is a native California Coast Live Oak ecosystem, a National Historic Site, and a memorial to Californians who died in World War I. UC Berkeley plans a stadium expansion that would destroy the trees, while the stadium itself is built over a Native American burial ground. UCB has erected a chain link fence around the area pending a court case which will determine expansion plans. In the meantime, police arrested three people during the protest.
As Year's End Nears, Disappointment
Virginia: Leaders from Virginia's state-recognized tribes donned their regalia and offered their annual Thanksgiving tribute to the governor. The gift of fish and game honors a 1646 treaty with Britain that gave them their reservation lands. Today only two tribes, the Pamunkey and Mattaponi, have been allowed to keep their lands. None of the tribes have gained federal recognition. "First to greet. Last to be recognized..." is their rallying cry. Federal recognition is difficult, if not impossible, for many tribes. The Bureau of Indian Affairs requires tribes to have piles of documents and genealogies proving they were here when Europeans invaded. That's 400 years for Virginia Indians. "The procedures put in place were so stringent, they were designed to limit the groups that could come in," said historian Mark E. Miller. Federal recognition would provide federal funds for housing, health care and development and enable children to apply for Native scholarships. They could also petition the U.S. to return their ancestors' bones for a respectful burial, something only federally-recognized tribes can do. While Virginia tribes have appealed to Congress, powerful figures such as Sen. John McCain argue that lawmakers do not have the expertise to decide. Congress is nearly unapproachable since the Jack Abramoff scandal sent lobbyists to jail for defrauding Indian tribes. Meanwhile, some are calling the lack of recognition "bureaucratic genocide."
"You're left feeling that this is all kind of superficial, from the Indian point of view. Like we were used one more time. You feel like in 2008, they might just forget about us again." Chief Ann Richardson, Rappahannock
"Broken promises to Indians. The cycle does repeat itself, doesn't it?" Chief Ken Adams, Upper Mattaponi
By the year 2020 there will be no indigenous population in India
India: The world's Indigenous communities and their resources are being exploited by development and governments. Most mega projects have forced people, especially tribal communities, to leave their natural habitats. In India, if indigenous people oppose or resist the intrusions, their actions are viewed as anti-state activity. For example:
Tribal settlements in Chhattisgarh are forced to move into makeshift camps guarded by militia. Those who oppose are booked under an extremely harsh law, the Chhattisgarh Special Security Act, 2006;
Indigenous communities in northeast India also face extermination and forced "civilization". The opposition has been so strong that it has spiraled out of control;
The Narmada dam project submerged the homes of thousands of people, forcing them to relocate to new areas.
Soon, the term "indigenous community" in India might be a misnomer. As things stand now, the fate of India's indigenous people is quite certain. They will be wiped out.
Ancient Temple Unearthed in Peru
Peru: A 4,000-year-old clay temple has been unearthed on the northern coast of Peru. Located in Lambayeque, the Temple is inside a larger ruin. It includes a staircase that leads up to an altar used for fire worship. The Temple is also filled with murals that are fascinating experts. "What's surprising are the construction methods, the architectural design and most of all the existence of murals that could be the oldest in the Americas," said Walter Alva, who led the dig. Peru is rich in archaeological treasures. Until Spanish invasion in the 1500s, the Incas had ruled an empire for several centuries. That empire stretched from today's Colombia and Ecuador to Peru and Chile. "The discovery of this temple reveals evidence suggesting the region of Lambayeque was one of great cultural exchange between the Pacific coast and the rest of Peru," said Alva. Archaeologists say the temple find is among the oldest finds in the Americas.
Visitors guide puts history in hand
South Carolina: South Carolina is brimming with Native American sites, from shell rings on the coast to Cherokee towns in the mountains. Now a new visitors guide will feature the state’s Native American culture. “It’s time for us to come out of hiding,” said Will Goins from the Eastern Cherokee/Southern Iroquois United Tribe. “We are among the few states that don’t celebrate Native American Indian heritage with something like this." Besides educating others, the tribes hope to benefit from tourism. “This is just the first step to show the potential," Goins said. "It’s something that is helping to create a niche market.” Natives lived in South Carolina at least 13,000 years ago and possibly much earlier. When Europeans invaded, disease and war nearly wiped out some tribes. Others were forced from their homelands. But remnants of many tribes persevered. Today, South Carolina has one federally recognized tribe, the Catawbas, and 11 tribes or groups recognized by the state.
View a map of South Carolina's Native sites: http://maps.google.com/
Argentine Indian Beatified by Catholic Church in Patagonia
South America: Ceferino Namuncura became the first Argentine Indian to be beatified by the Roman Catholic Church. His ceremony took place in Chimpay before 80,000 people including Mapuche Indians in bright ponchos and plumed headdresses. The celebrations included traditional Catholic rites mixed with drumming, cow horns and Mapuche chants. Namuncura, who lived from 1886-1905, is revered for his piety and humility.
Weaving a sacred ceremony
Utah: Adopt-A-Native Elder recently hosted the 18th annual Navajo Rug Show and Sale in Deer Valley. The first rug show was nearly 20 years ago. Now it's become a 3-day event for artists and buyers across the country and requires more than 100 volunteers to run. The program assists Navajo elders by providing food, clothing, heating fuel and medical supplies to the reservation, said Mary Phillips, development director.
Adopt-A-Native Elder Program: www.anelder.org
Code from the Choctaw
Oklahoma: Few Choctaw Indians still speak their ancient tongue after U.S. and church residential schools prohibited native children from speaking it. But few people realize the Choctaw language saved lives. Choctaws were the first "code talkers" in the U.S. military, a full generation before the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II. In World War I, a small band of Choctaw Indians joined the 36th Infantry Division. Their complicated language and codes tricked German eavesdroppers and helped win the war. However, these Choctaw soldiers have not been recognized by the government. Now their descendants believe their ancestors deserve a Congressional Gold Medal, the same as received by the Navajos for their code talking efforts. "The public thinks they know about the code talkers, but they don't know all of the history," said Tewanna Edwards, the great-niece of Choctaw veteran Otis Leader. "These men went forward; they volunteered to fight for their country. And you can't put a number on the lives they might have saved through their code talking." The French government honored the Comanches for their role in liberating France, and the Defense Department honored the Navajos and Comanches in a Pentagon exhibit during the 1990s. But the Choctaws' story remains a one-sentence footnote of history.
Choctaw Codetalker Recognition Act: http://www.choctawnation.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=pages&pageid=66
Tribal language fading away
Oklahoma: Doris Jean Lamar was born in 1927. Her first spoken words were not English but Wichita, taught to her by her grandparents. "I never thought of myself as white; to me, I was Wichita," she said. "The old ladies of our tribe thought it was something to hear this little white girl speak Wichita." Today, Lamar is the last fluent speaker in the Wichita, a language once spoken by thousands of people. However,hope exists for the Wichitas' dying language. Linguist David Rood is working with Lamar and the Wichitas to record the their language into a dictionary. They are also creating a CD about creation stories, verbs, nouns and names. An immersion class for children and language classes for adults have been organized. Now the Wichitas are crossing another obstacle: language retention. "For children, when they have no one at home to speak the language with, there is no one to practice the sounds with and they lose it," said one tribal member. "When you're around the language, you learn it better."
Slideshow: Doris Lamar tells a tribal story in Wichita and English: http://www.tulsaworld.com/webextra/content/2007/slideshows/wichitaspeaker/index.html
Photo and article: www.tulsaworld.com
Tribe's book wins award
Maine: "Wind Bird: Gift of the Mist" has won a Gold Medal Moonbeam Award at the 2007 Children’s Humanities Festival in Chicago. The children's book was a joint project between the Passamaquoddy Tribe and a Maine conservation group. Author Sara Stiles Bright worked closely with Passamaquoddy elders to adapt the tale of " Wind Bird" into book form. The book tells the Passamaquoddy oral history of Gluskop, who learns a harsh but valuable lesson about how his village is inter-connected with the natural world.
Wind Bird: Gift of the Mist: http://www.mlci.org/pdf/WB_Promo.pdf
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