Native Village Youth and Education News

"Could I once see the day that whites and reds were all friends, it would be like getting new eye-sight."
   Piamingo, Chickasaw

May 1, 2008   Issue 188   Volume 1

Lummi Nation, Dalai Lama share vision of peace
Washington: When the Dalai Lama visited Seattle, a Lummi delegation presented His Holiness and his delegation with a sash, necklace, and Cedar Bark Hat.  The gifts were created by Lummi youth who worked for weeks on the items.   “We wanted to show him how we do it through our youth," said Doralee Sanchez from the Lummi's Cultural Learning Center.  "I think he really did get an up-close look at who we are and what we do.”  After His Holiness donned the gifts, he urged Native Americans to safeguard their culture.  He was also curious about how Native Americans preserved their traditions because he, too, had been forced from his Tibetan homelands after Chinese invasion in 1959.  Sanchez said the Dalai Lama’s message of compassion is a natural fit with traditional Lummi ways. “You have very little but you share what you have,” Sanchez said. “That’s how we were raised.” The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetans and head of that land's government-in-exile.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
Slideshow of the Dalai Lama's visit with the Lummi:
Bellingham Herald

An Olympic opportunity for Declaration
Canada: Facing international and internal pressure, the Canadian Parliament has voted to endorse the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. While Indigenous peoples and human rights groups celebrated the decision, the federal government remains firmly opposed. ''Canada's reputation as a human rights advocate continues to suffer as a result of its ongoing opposition to the Declaration,'' said Tl'azt'en Nation Grand Chief Edward John. "Despite the government's opposition, this vote ... is an important step in the implementation of the Declaration.''  In these days before the Olympics, the world's focus is already on human rights, justice, and the Olympic tradition of fellowship.  ''I came to the conclusion after that that people throughout the world are the same,'' said a swimmer on the 1980 U.S. team.  Canada is one of only four countries which oppose the declaration adopted by U.N. member states in 2007.  The other countries are Australia, China, and the United States.

Buffalo Requiem: Indian ceremony honors slaughtered bison

South Dakota: Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse visited Yellowstone National park to pray for the spirits of more than 1,600 bison shipped to slaughter this winter by the U.S. government.  "We're here to do something very special," said Looking Horse. "We're here to do what we can to preserve the buffalo and the Earth."  Nearly 33% of Yellowstone's wild bison have been killed through the Interagency Bison Management Plan run by Montana and the federal government. The BMP plan is supposed to protect cattle from the brucellosis virus.  However, there are no documented cases of wild bison passing on the disease. A report by Congress's Accountability Office criticizes the plan as lacking "clearly defined, measurable objectives."  Since the report's release, bison advocates have stepped up their call for a change. "I think everyone is starting to see there's a better solution," said Mike Mease, co founder of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "We're ready for change." Tens of million of buffalo used to roam the Americas.  Now, only a few thousand remain. They live in Yellowstone.  Since 2000, when BMP was put into place, almost 3,000 bison have been killed, mostly through slaughter.
Video of Releasing of the Spirits Ceremony:

Photo credit: Darrell Geist Note: Buffalo hazed in this photo were slaughtered

Ancient stone tools found on Australia mine site
Martidja Banyjima Lands, Australia: A large cache of ancient stone tools has been discovered at the site of Hope Downs iron ore mine. The tools, mostly makeshift blades and cutting implements, were found in a rock overhang.  "The oldest-dated stone artifacts are a core, and associated flakes have a radiocarbon age estimate of 35,000 years," said archaeologist W. Boone. Slim Parker, a senior elder of the local Martidja Banyjima people, has known all along that his ancestors lived there. "Our stories and songs tells us this," he said.  "It is a good feeling to know archaeologists have proved what we say is true. It makes us feel strong. Now we want this place preserved. It is part of our heritage and our culture." Aboriginal culture and mining sometimes clash in Australia  -- a project near Burrup Peninsula was stalled due to 30,000-year-old rock carvings, and a uranium mine project near Coronation Hill was shut down because the area was home to Bula, a mythical creation beast sacred to the Jawoyn people. At Hope Downs, mine companies and Aboriginals are working together to preserve the area.

Ancient Americans believed dogs to be "divine escorts" for next life
New Mexico: New research shows that canines played a key role in the spiritual beliefs of ancient Americans. Throughout the Southwest, hundreds of prehistoric dogs were buried with jewelry, alongside humans, carefully stacked in groups, or in positions that relate to important structure.  "I'm suggesting that the dogs in the New World in the Southwest were used to escort people into the next world, and sometimes they were used in certain rituals in place of people," said Dody Fugate from the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe. "The earlier the human burial, the more likely you are to have dog in it. " Her database indicates that dog burials were most common between 400 B.C. and A.D. 1100.

Scientists find 17 living relatives of 'iceman' discovered in B.C. glacier
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, British Columbia: Scientists have found 17 living relatives of a young aboriginal hunter whose frozen remains were found in a glacier in 1999. The glacier, located in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, is part of the traditional territory of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. DNA testing has now connected the iceman to 17 people from those tribes. Scientists named the man Kwaday Dan Ts'inchi, which means "long-ago person found" in the southern Tutchone language.  They believe Kwaday Dan Ts'inchi was a hunter, who lived roughly 300 years ago — but possibly longer. He appeared to be in good health when he died an accidental death on the glacier.
Among the findings, researchers have determined:

He was in his late teens or early 20s when he died.
He wore a robe, likely made from about 95 gopher or squirrel skins, stitched together with sinew.
He carried a walking stick, an iron-blade knife and a spear thrower.
He had seafood and crab in his digestive system.

Kwaaday Dan's remains were cremated and his ashes scattered over the glacier where he died.  'It was very moving [and] overwhelming.' — Pearl Callaghan, relative of Kwaday Dan Ts'inchi. A memorial potlatch is planned to bring closure from a cultural perspective.

Compromise averts dustup over Native American relics in Ottawa County

Ohio: In 2003, home construction at The Cove on the Bay in Ottawa County was halted after Native American bones were discovered. Now many of the bones have been reburied in the ground, and others will be reburied later this year. Wyandotte leaders will also hold a ceremony to bless the re-burial site.  Ottawa County was occupied at least 5,000 years ago.  It started as a fishing camp, then grew into a large farming village about 4,500 years later. "[It is] a great fishing area," said one archaeologist. "Marshes along the lakeshore were loaded with ducks and geese … This was a great place to live, and I think they must have liked it for a lot of the reasons that people do nowadays."  In addition to the remains, the scientists found pieces of cooking pots, tools, spear points, and food remains.  An unusual find was a necklace with a large shell that came from the Gulf of Mexico. It likely traveled north from trade networks among various tribes.

Back to the earth?
West Virginia: In 1963, West Virginia's first state archaeologist began a two-year excavation along the Kanawha River in Buffalo. Crews unearthed countless artifacts and outlines of homes and a stockade where people had lived 400 - 500 years before. They also dug up more than 500 graves. Those remains passed through several institutions including Ohio State University, where they remained stored for years.  Then a 1990 federal law -- Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act -- ruled that federally recognized tribes can reclaim tribal remains and artifacts from museums and universities.  When OSU gave Putnam County (W.Va.) legal control of the skeletal remains, County Commissioners wanted to rebury them near the original graves. But archaeologists say that reburial could wipe out future discoveries about the Buffalo people, whose remains aren't linked to modern  tribes. "It's crucial to the understanding of the history of West Virginia," said archaeologist Bob Maslowski. "Basically what they want to do is destroy a lot of potential information that can eventually identify these people." Some question the legality and ethics of reburying the remains without DNA testing. That test could determine their cultural identification, said  David Cremeans, president of the Native American Indian Federation in Huntington. He thinks the remains should be housed and preserved at the Grave Creek Mound facility while technology advances.

 Indian culture teaches energy sustainability
 Montana: Winona LaDuke, Anishinabe, recently spoke at the University Montana. Her lecture, “Creating Just Societies: The Environment, the Economy and Human Relations in the Next Millennium,” was part of UM's  President’s Lecture Series. She urged the audience to consider indigenous culture not just as folklore or something of the past. “It has great implications today and can teach us about sustainability,” LaDuke said.  She said Indians think and live according to nature's cycles.  They practice discipline and respect for their lives within nature, something she doesn't see in modern America. Among LaDuke's comments:
 “ We (Americans) don’t take only what we need and leave the rest. We believe we are able to outsmart the oceans and winds.  We are foolish.”
 “[Landfills are] not landfills. They’re land mountains.”
 “The problem now is that we didn’t pay attention to the bees until they’re all gone and can’t pollinate our plants”
 “We all have to drink the water and breathe the air."
 “Do something of consequence.  Don’t be mediocre.”
 [NativeNews] Digest Number 3564

Pow Wow marked by protest
Michigan: Every year the Ann Arbor Powwow at the University of Michigan draws thousands of people from across the U.S. and Canada.  More than 1,000 singers, dancers, musicians and craftspeople participate in the event.  But this year's event also made a statement after protesters roped off 1,390 seats -  the number of human remains they claim UM is withholding from many tribes. Federally funded museums are required by law to return cultural artifacts and human remains to tribal descendants. When Saginaw Chippewa Tribal members asked UM's Board of Regents to return the 1,390 ancestral remains, UM refused, saying the bones cant be identified by tribal culture. "The University is unaware of any documents that would demonstrate cultural affiliation for the sites claimed by the Tribe," said one UM official.  Veronica Pasfield, a Bay Mills tribal member, said local tribes should not be responsible for identifying the remains. "It's not our job to do the scientific research," she said. "The burden is on the institutions to catalogue and provide any information they have about the remains."  Elder George Martin, a Pow Wow coordinator from the  Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe tribe, supported the protest.  "We have lawyers, we have anthropologists and we also have the money," he said. "We want to get our ancestors back." 

French City Vows to Return Maori Head
France:  New Zealand is seeking the return of preserved Maori heads and other human remains. Traditionally, Maori heads were kept as trophies from tribal warfare. However, when Westerners began trading for the heads, some men were killed simply for their tattoos.  For months now, Rouen's city museum has tried to return its Maori head to New Zealand. However, Frances's culture minister and the courts say Rouen has no jurisdiction over the artifact. They want to put the issue before a scientific committee, "to verify that there is no unjustified damage to national heritage," said Christine Albanel, culture minister. Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand, is hopeful the preserved Maori head will be returned home.  "What we're hoping for is the Rouen museum and the French government will discuss this matter further," said Te Herekiekie Herewini. "We're leaving it up to the French government, and we want to have further discussion about it in the near future.

76-year-old Sioux man to run Boston Marathon

Massachusetts: Emmett Eastman, 76, took a break from the The Longest Walk to run in the Boston Marathon. "His Many Lightnings" Eastman ran memory of a Floyd Crow Westerman and to inspire his Dakota Sioux tribe and other American Indians. Before departing, he planned to make a small tobacco offering to the ancestors and spirits. He also tucked sage under each heel for good luck and hoped to wear his bear-claw necklace, a symbol of courage. "It's more than just running," he said. "It's like carrying a message and representing our people." When the race is over,  Emmett will rejoin the Longest Walk II, a group of marchers walking across America asking that sacred American Indian sites be protected.  The Longest Walk II is Emmett's fourth transcontinental journey. Before 1996's Olympics, he marched to promote American Indian health and culture. Another march was to draw attention to national conservation efforts. The third was to have Jim Thorpe's Olympic medals reinstated after he was stripped of his amateurstatus years earlier. "I do it to set an example for other people," Emmett said.  Emmett's great-uncle was Charles "Ohiyesa" Eastman, a Dakota Sioux who graduated from Dartmouth College and Boston University Medical School.

The Government of Canada Supports Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre
Saskatchewan;  Maurice Vellacott, a member of Parliament, has announced government funding for the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Center.  The funding of $737,613 will help the Centre organize key activities that support the preservation of First Nations languages. This includes community-based language projects. "Language revitalization and retention is the responsibility of all First Nations language speakers, and this funding will enable community-driven projects that will focus on language fluency in the home, school, and workplace," said Dorothy Myo, SICC President. "The goal of the SICC Language Strategy is to increase the use and preservation of our Indigenous languages in everyday First Nations' life."


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