Youth and Education News
March 1, 2007 Issue 176 Volume 1
woman lives so close to our first mother, the Earth, she emanates the strength
nature of all things."
Larry P. Aitken, Chippewa
Hopi Runners to Carry the Gift of Water Communities
Arizona: In April, runners from the Hopi villages atop Black Mesa will run from the "center of the universe" to Sedona, Arizona. The 130-mile, three-day journey is to raise awareness of human impact on the earth's very limited supply of fresh water. The athletes, who range in age from 12-85, will be "Carrying the Gift of Water" in a traditional Hopi gourd, the ancestral water vessel. The water was gathered from sources on tribal lands. Vernon Masayesva, Hopi, recently described a Hopi view of water:
"Within this living system, water from each of the four terrestrial directions-from rivers and springs, from great aquifers and tiny seeps-bring life, give life, sustain life among all life. And when its work is done, the waters are re-gathered in the celestial sea, the home of the cloud ancestors. There it is renewed and rejuvenated, and then transformed again into water, into rain and snow, sleet and hail, mists and fogs. It falls toward the earth, toward the depths of the great sea, and rises again to nourish the lakes, the ponds, and the streams upon which all beings, all brothers and sisters, depend. It returns and the great cycle of water is renewed bringing new energy to the universe."
Before the run, elementary-school students from Sedona and the Hopi Tribe will visit each other's communities as part of a "Student Exchange." The overnight event gives the children an opportunity to learn about each other through educational activities, art and family experiences.
Learn more: www.ioet.org
New Mexico Indian village receives historic designation
New Mexico: Acoma Sky City sits atop a mesa 60 miles west of Albuquerque. As the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America, Acoma Sky City has become a National Trust Historic Site. The adobe village was built by the Acoma people and dates from at least 1150 A.D. It includes a Spanish mission completed around 1640. About 15 families live year-round in the community, which is owned by the Pueblo of Acoma. About 3,000 other Acomas live in nearby village.
Burial mound put on auction block
Florida: Fourteen hundred years ago, an indigenous people lived at the mouth of the Manatee River. They settled in a small village where they fished, harvested, lived and worshipped. They built inland huts a sacred temple where the bodies of tribal leaders were buried. Today, this temple is a white sand mound in Bradenton, and it's being eyed by developers. The owners, the South Florida Museum, has put the property on the market because it needs money for new exhibits. The museum says it also has trouble maintaining the 20-foot mound. "I'm astonished that they're selling it," said archaeologist Bill Burger. "They have said that the mound doesn't 'fit their mission.' What is their mission if it's not this" The property is valued at $147,500 and the museum's board is looking for $200,000 or more. The site is known as the Pillsbury Temple Mound, after famed landowner Asa Pillsbury. If it's not sold, the Pillsbury Temple Mound could be eligible for a 2007 preservation grant.
Many on Easter Island Prefer to Leave Stones Unturned
Easter Island: Easter Island contains an estimated 20,000 archaeological sites. The mysterious giant statues that stand along the rocky coast are the greatest treasure of this remote place, but about 40% have been destroyed or damaged. While many outsiders would like to restore more--or all--of the moai, as the statues are known, local people regard this idea with a mixture of suspicion and dread. "Our elders ask what possible reason there can be to restore more moai, when we can see that those that have been restored are deteriorating more rapidly than those that are broken and still lying on the ground,” said Pedro Edmunds Paoa, the mayor of Hanga Roa. “By exposing them to rain, salt, lichens and chemicals, you merely make things worse.” Elders and locals also complain that many researchers fail to explain what they are doing or to include them in their projects. “As Rapanui, we are tired of people coming here, investigating us and then going away with a ‘Ciao!’ and not giving anything back,” said island resident, Arévalo Pakarat. There are fewer than 50 repaired and re-erected moai on display to visitors, Estimates of the island's total moai are more than 900.
Rayonier donates dugout canoe to Fernbank Museum
Georgia: Recently, a 17-foot long wooden dugout canoe submerged in sand and shallow water near the Satilla River. Rayonier Southeast Forest Resources removed it from the muck. Now they have donated it to the Fernbank Museum in Atlanta. The historic find is believed to be the first such canoe documented in Georgia. "We can't understand local Indian lifeways without considering the role of dugout canoes, any more than we can think about our own society without taking cars into account," said Dennis Blanton from the Fernbank Museum. "Dugout canoes were the only transportation alternative available to local Indians beyond foot travel, and they were especially important on Georgia's coast and in the wetlands of South Georgia." The Fernbank Museum is waiting for a Carbon-14 date on a piece of wood from the canoe. The canoe will be place on exhibit after conservation, a process expected to take several months.
After 153 years, Treaty Tree lost to winter storm
Washington: After surviving earthquakes and more than 153 years of history, the Treaty Tree finally fell during a winter windstorm. The Treaty Tree was a widely known and beloved landmark, said Billy Frank, a Nisqually tribal member. "People love this tree, not only the Indian people, but the people who know the history," he said. The weathered Douglas fir in Thurston County was witness to the signing of the Treaty of Medicine Creek, the first Indian treaty in Western Washington. The council took place in a grove of firs which included the Treaty Tree. George Gibbs recorded the proceedings of the treaty council:
"The Indians took their quarters on a forested bench a short distance away. The scene was lively. Thin temporary huts of mats with the smoke of their numerous camp fires, the prows of the canoes hauled up on the bank and protruding from among the huts, the horses grazing on the marsh, the gloom of the firs and the cedars ... and the scattered and moving groups of Indians in all kinds of odd and fantastic dresses present a curious picture."
The Nisqually tribe may place a monument or totem pole at the Treaty Tree site. They are also deciding what to do with the remaining pieces. "You can feel the spirit of the tree, the spark of life in this tree," Frank said, touching the bark. "It was a symbol of a place, and of that treaty. You close your eyes; you can still see the canoes right here." But the tree is not completely gone. In 1975, DOT employee, Bill Melton, had gathered seeds and planted a grove of Treaty Tree descendants. Today, those descendants stand some 40 feet tall. A new crop of seedlings from these descendants are also being grown and will be gifted to area tribes. "This old-timer, his day has passed," Frank said of the Treaty Tree. "But as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow and the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, that treaty is alive."
A Struggle For Land: Native Americans Today
Ontario: Last year, kids and adults from the Six Nations near Caledonia climbed over a fence and set up tents on land belonging to their people. This small parcel of reclaimed land is only part of the large tract given to them by the British government in a 1784 treaty. The treaty guaranteed that the Canadian government could not develop or build on that land without permission from Six Nations people. Then, in 1992, the government sold a piece of that land to a company called Henco. Many said the sale was illegal, but in 2005, Henco began building luxury homes on the site. When construction began, Six Nations people blocked the construction and pushed the tractors out. In 2006, the Ontario Provincial Police raided the site and arrested sixteen people, some of whom were teenagers. Many Canadians and Americans support the Six Nations actions. John Fadden, a Mohawk from the Akwesasne reservation, is hoping that others will learn more about the Native tribes and youth who support this cause. “Most kids east of the Mississippi don’t know Indians are here,” John said. He suggested ways youth could learn more. “Go to places where Indians gather and speak with them. Read books.”
Mardi Gras Indians struggle to survive
Louisiana: For more than 250 years, the "black Indians" of New Orleans have sung the ancient chants and donned the regalia of a culture unique in the United States. Dubbed Mardi Gras Indians, they have nurtured the ancient rituals of Africa and the Caribbean while merging them with Native American rites. As early as 1729, African slaves joined Natchez Indians in a revolt against colonial French authorities. Thereafter, black slaves in New Orleans escaped their captors into the swamps and bayous, aided by Native Americans. From these two besieged peoples, experts believe, rose the black Indian culture, which combined the chant, dance, music and costume rituals of Native Americans and African-American slaves. Caribbean emigres who arrived in the 19th Century added to the mix. "It's African, Native American and Caribbean cultures all coming together in one stream," said Joyce Marie Jackson, professor at Louisiana State University. "It's the whole history of New Orleans, really, expressed in the rituals of these people." But the Mardi Gras Indians, who were on the decline through the 20th Century, have been devastated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Like other New Orleanians, the black Indians have been scattered across the country. Now the Indians face a particular challenge: reclaiming not only their homes but also their artistic heritage.
MARY ANN ANDREAS TO BE HONORED MARCH 30TH
California: On March 30, Mary Ann Andreas of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, will be honored for her leadership and contributions at "A Women's Symposium: Honoring American Indian Women of Distinction." Mary Ann grew up on the Morongo Reservation in a house with dirt floors and no running water or electricity. She overcame many obstacles to attend Harvard University and to lead her tribe from poverty to one of the largest tribal employers in the State. Elected as Tribal Chairwoman four times, Mrs. Andreas was named as one of the top ten Native American leaders in the nation. She was honored in 1998 as the Tribal Leader of the Year by the National Indian Gaming Association. Last year, Vice Chairwoman Andreas was instrumental in the return of more than 100 traditional baskets back to their tribal home at Morongo reservation.
Fairbanks professor rewarded for language work
Alaska: Michael Krauss has received the Ken Hale Prize for lifetime achievement by the Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the Americas. The prize is awarded for a lifetime of dedication to the understanding and preservation of native languages. Mr. Krauss, a professor emeritus at UA Fairbanks, is a founder of the Alaska Native Language Center which opened in 1972. Krauss' personal work has centered on Athabascan and Eskimo languages. He is especially focused on the Eyak language, for which only one fluent speaker remains. "When you lose a language and a language goes extinct, it's like dropping a bomb on the Louvre," Krauss said. "Ken Hale said that, 'Of the earth's remaining 6,000 languages, nearly half will completely disappear during this century.' We work to save endangered species, but we don't work to save endangered languages. It's a lot easier to keep them alive than to bring them back."
In Bolivia, Speaking Up For Native Languages
Bolivia: It's believed that 37% of Bolivia's population still speaks a native language used before Spanish invasion in the 1500s. Government officials hope that language-training programs will raise that percentage. President Evo Morales -- the country's first indigenous president -- wants all government employees to have indigenous language training. He also wants public school children to take native language classes. Universities are enrolling more students in indigenous language programs, and the Education Ministry continues to open new language education centers. Many Bolivians, however, have little connection to indigenous communities and are angry about the idea. "Evo wants to make Quechua and Aymara the official languages of Bolivia, instead of Spanish," said a taxi driver from Santa Cruz. "That might be fine for the highlands where they actually speak those languages, but not here." Officials, however, deny the accusation. They argue that promoting native languages should be a priority because more than 50% of Bolivians call themselves Indigenous.
Cap sales to benefit Cherokee programs
Oklahoma: To help preserve and promote its language, the Cherokee Nation has created baseball caps with logos from three Oklahoma universities written in Cherokee. Fans of the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University or Northeastern State University can buy the caps at several Cherokee gift shops. 70 cents of each dollar will go back to the nation for education, job creation, health and social programs, such as Cherokee language immersion classes.
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