Native Village 

Youth and Education News

January 1, 2008 Issue 183  Volume 1

During the first Gulf war a group of native Americans in Oregon wrote an open letter to President George Bush, Sr., ridiculing his pretext for attacking Iraq:
"Dear President Bush," it read. "Please send your assistance in freeing our small nation from occupation. This foreign force occupied our lands to steal our rich resources ... As in your own words, 'The occupation and overthrow of one small nation is one too many.' Yours sincerely,
An American Indian"

U.N. declaration becomes law of the land in Bolivia
Bolivia:  Inside Bolivia's Government Palace, Native leaders and representatives cheered as  president Evo Morales announced the passage of National Law 3760: The Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The legislation is an exact copy of the United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The declaration:
Allows Native peoples the right to preserve their respective political, social, economic, juridical and cultural institutions;
Assures their rights to fully participate in the political, cultural, economic and social spheres of their countries;
Recognizes their rights to self-determination.
Bolivia is the first country in the world to adopt the declaration as national law.  It was only 40 years ago that Quechua, Aymara and other Native people were prohibited from entering the Palace or walking on the sidewalks in certain important cities. ''That is the past for indigenous people in Bolivia and also for Latin America,'' Morales said. ''I feel we have progressed ... we are not only working for the indigenous movement, but for all Bolivian men and Bolivian women.''  Representatives of all 36 different indigenous ethnicities were on hand to celebrate the announcement and support Morales.

 Huge Native Title Win

Australia: 1269 sq km of land in Queensland is now recognized under native law.  Australia's Federal Court knowledge that the Eastern Kuku Yalanji holds title rights to the land between Port Douglas and Cooktown.  The area, called the "jewel in the crown" of the wet tropics region, is the fourth-largest native title determination in the state.
H-Amindian Listserve

New travel rules leave Native Americans in limbo
Tohono O'odham Nation, Arizona:  Elder Ofelia Rivas, 51, has used the same document each time she crosses the border to visit the tribe's ceremonial sites in Mexico.  Soon the document will no longer be valid for international travel.  A new plan, The U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, goes into effect in January. It requires U.S. citizens to present photo IDs and proof of citizenship when they enter the U.S.. by land or sea. This change is causing confusion and anxiety among Native American tribes whose lands straddle U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. "We were all born at home with a midwife, and nobody at the time recorded our births," said Rivas, explaining the difficulty for her and family members who use their tribal enrollment cards for travel.  "I have no birth certificate so how am I supposed to get a passport?"  The National Congress of American Indians says there are around 40 U.S. tribes whose members regularly cross the northern and southern borders to work, visit family, and attend ceremonies at sacred sites. 
 Reuters 2007

Pow Wow princess turned away from voting

Wampanoag Reservation, Massachusetts:  Brailyn “Bright Star” Frye, 19, is as much of a face of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe as the council leaders.  Frye, the tribe’s Pow Wow princess, is the daughter of a tribal council member and appears at events in traditional regalia and headdress.  Recently, however, Brailyn and several relatives were turned away from voting for tribal council seats after being notified of a “pending” status on the tribe rolls. The rolls, which are not available to the public or even other members, are controlled by tribe genealogist,  Patricia Oakley.  “Nobody can get any confirmation as to why certain people are getting on (the rolls) and why certain people aren’t,” said tribe member Darryl Frye.  Once a tribe is federally recognized, the rolls are completely under the tribe’s control.

Oregon Guardian of tribal culture wins Buffett Award
Umatilla Reservation, Oregon: Roberta Conner from the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute on the Umatilla Indian Reservation has won the 2007 Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership.  The cultural center tells the story of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla tribes -- today's Umatilla Confederation -- and the effects of white settlement.  Conner 52,  has led the center since 1998. She says the award recognizes the importance of preserving and sharing tribal cultures.
H-Amindian Listserve

Youth spur on Big Foot Ride

Tribal Lands, South Dakota: In December, 44 riders began the Big Foot Memorial ride, a 300-mile journey dedicated to the Lakota ancestors who died in the Wounded Knee Massacre.  Along the way, other riders joined in until they numbered 200. “Riding for two weeks isn't easy,” said Donaven Yellow, 15. “A lot of my friends made the same commitment. It gets really cold. You've just got to ride it out.  A couple of times, I didn't feel my toes. And my legs were shaking. I had a Gatorade in my pocket. I tried to take a drink, but it was frozen solid after a couple of hours. I was really thirsty that day, and I wasn't warm enough to keep it thawed out.” The Big Foot Memorial Ride began in 1986 after several men from different tribal communities shared a vision to honor the ancestors killed in the December 29, 1890 Wounded Knee massacre. More than 350 unarmed men, women and children following Chief Big Foot from the Cheyenne River Reservation were shot down as they journeyed to safety on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Today, the memories of those killed are honored as horseback riders retrace the trail of the slain Lakota.  “For many youth, it has become a rite of passage," said Ron His Horse is Thunder, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. " It's good that they do. It teaches them fortitude, to go forward without complaining. It's so much a part of who we are.”

Floyd Red Crow Westerman Dies

California: Floyd Red Crow Westerman, 71, has passed away. The actor, singer and political activist reached a mass international audience as the wise, old Sioux chief Ten Bears in Dances with Wolves.  He played recurring roles on The X-Files  and served as Indian chiefs, elders and shamans in dozens of other films and TV programs. Westerman was described by Dennis Banks, founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), as 'the greatest cultural ambassador that Indian America ever had."  Indian Country Today newspaper called him "one of the most recognizable American Indians of the 20th century."  Westerman participated in the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973, when Native Americans took control of the South Dakota town for 71 days, during which they were besieged and shot at by marshals and government agents.
H-Amindian Listserve

Chief Henry, World's Most Photographed Indian; His Spirit Lives On
Cherokee Reservation, North Carolina: Henry Lambert, also known as Chief Henry, passed away in November, 2007.  Henry, 72, was known as the World's Most Photographed Indian. He was seen on the street corners of Cherokee, NC for nearly 60 years and posed for tourist photos , postcards, and other memorabilia. 
photo credit: PBS

We lost a part of our history
Catawba Indian Reservation, South Carolina:  Catawba elder Evelyn Brown George has passed away.  George, 93, was a tiny woman so small that her feet dangled from her chair when she taught Catawba children. Yet, she was a woman so huge in deed that she helped save the pottery and dance, a big part of the Catawbas' souls.  "We lost a part of our history, who we are," said Donald Rodgers, Catawba Indian chief.  "[Evelyn] was crucial to our connection to the past."  George, 93,  lived in the old days when tribal craftspeople sold their items to earn money for food, clothes, and shelter. Her father ran a ferry across Catawba River before there were road bridges. Her mother, Edith, was a master potter before her.  George taught and encouraged Catawbas to learn the pottery, and she sewed regalia so the centuries did not fade away.  " We lost a mother, but her loss is to all the Catawba people," said daughter Susan.

Gwich'in, Cree speakers very low in N.W.
Northwest Territory:  Statistics Canada says at least two northern aboriginal languages are at risk of dying off: Gwich'in and Cree. "It's sad but it's true … that it's actually happening, and that people themselves in the communities have to bring it back into their homes and be proud of it," said William Firth from the Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute. The Gwich'in are among the most northerly aboriginal people in the territory.  Only about 200 people, or 0.5 per cent of residents, reported Gwich'in as their mother tongue.  "One of the things that I constantly try to tell people is that it's got to start within the home, and even though people understand a bit they've got to use it ..." Firth said.  "It's sad  … that it's actually happening, and that people themselves in the communities have to bring it back into their homes and be proud of it." A mother tongue refers to the first language a person learns in childhood and still understands as an adult.   Almost 20% of NWT citizens speak a Mother tongue other than English or French. The Northwest Territories recognizes 11 official languages:

Language Population Fluent Speakers   Language Population Fluent Speakers
English 31,545  76.8% Tagalog  530 1.3  %
 French 970  2.4%  Chipewyan  410 1.0%
Dogrib 2,040  5.0%  Vietnamese 310 0. 8%
South Slavey 1,310  3.2%  Chinese 255  0.6%
North Slavey 860 2.1% Cree 205  0.5% 
Inuktitut 740  1.8%  Gwich'in 200  0.5 %

Professional storytelling is personal for Morningstar
Oneida Indian Nation, Wisconsin:  When Debra Morningstar was 14 and learned she was half Oneida, she searched out the members of her Oneida family. Today, Debra is a professional storyteller. The   experience has enabled her to come "full circle" from her childhood ignorance.  "What really touched me and why I really started telling stories was the day (my father) died," said Morningstar, 53. "He told me 'you have to stop this.' He meant stop the cycle of alcoholism." Debra listened. She earned a social work degree and began collecting the stories and writing her own.  "Being away from my family all those years, finding my roots was like a missing puzzle piece being put in place," Morningstar said. Recently, Morningstar released a CD of collected Native American stories told to music "The stories are ancient, they're so very old, but they're so simple that they still make sense today," she said. "The elders like it, too, because they can hear it.  It is a modern approach. It's still the oral tradition, captured in a different way."
Debra Morningstar:

Disputed Book Pulled From Oprah Web Site
New York: Oprah Winfrey has pulled Forrest Carter's book, "The Education of Little Tree," from her website's recommended book list.  Published in 1976, "The Education of Little Tree" claimed to be the real-life story of an orphaned boy raised by his Cherokee grandparents. Winfrey even discussed "Little Tree" on her TV show, recalling a "loving story about a boy growing up with his grandfather and learning about nature and speaking to the trees.  And it's very spiritual."   Then Winfrey learned the truth about the book's author, Forest Carter.  Carter, a member of the Ku Klux Klan,  wrote Alabama governor George Wallace's famous speech, "Segregation today!  Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!"   Winfrey said,  "I no longer—even though I had been moved by the story—felt the same about this book.  There's a part of me that said, `Well, OK, if a person has two sides of them and can write this wonderful story and also write the segregation forever speech, maybe that's OK.'  But I couldn't—I couldn't live with that."
NativeNews] Digest Number 3504

Native Trailblazers Book Series

Tennessee: Native Voices has launched a campaign called  the Native Trailblazer Series. Two news books, Native Women of Courage and Native Athletes in Action! have been released.  Written by  Kelly Fournel, Native Women features stories about ten women including Suzanne Rochon-Burnett, Sarah Winnemucca, and Maria Tallchief.  Native Athletes includes profiles of Jim Thorpe, Naomi Lang, Delby Powless and was written by Vincent Schilling.  Several new titles are in the works for 2008 including Native Men of Courage.

Learn more:

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