Native Village Youth and Education News
November 1, 2008 Issue 191 Volume 4

“Turtle,” 1981
Randy Chitto,

 "In our story of Creation, we talk about each one of us having our own path to travel, and our own gift to give and to share. You see, what we say is that the Creator gave us all special gifts; each one of us is special. And each one of us is a special gift to each other because we've got something to share." 
                                                                          John Peters (Slow Turtle), Wampanoag   



Pay-to-protect plan for Ecuadorian rainforest on the brink
Ecuador: Ecuador has passed a strongly supported constitution granting its tropical forests, islands, rivers and air legal rights similar to those granted humans. But Ecuador's President, Rafael Correa, faces a harsh economic reality:  70% of Ecuador's income comes from oil and 38% of its people live below the poverty line. A large oil field exists under Yasuni National Park and oil companies are looking to buy.  The Ecuadorian government is prepared to protect Yasuni, one of the world's most biodiverse places, but it needs financial help from the world: $350,000,000 a year for ten years.  Spain, Germany and Norway support the plan but have yet to show much hard cash.  Environmentalists support the idea and say the innovative proposal could:
Become a model for how developing countries manage their environments;
Support the global fight against climate change;
Prevent the release of
200,000,000,000 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere

Yasuni National Park lies where the Amazon, Andes and the equator meet.  It spans almost a million hectares of primary rainforest and is home to indigenous tribes who wish to remain isolated. Yasuni also contains an extraordinary array of wildlife and plants, much of it endangered. Nelson Torres, an Ecuadorian ambassador, describes the proposal as a "third way of management of climate change" and would "lay the groundwork for energy transformation globally."  Anita Rivas, the indigenous mayor of Orellana, where Yasuni is located said: "It's a brave proposal, a unique proposal." The world's decision deadline -- already postponed twice – is in December.

Illegal eagles; Powwow popularity fuels a bird black market
Saskatchewan:  For Native people, to be given an eagle feather is a great honour. Eagles are highly revered and considered sacred. Many consider them a messenger between people and the Creator, a native deity.  Eagle feathers are awarded for great deeds. They are also worn on dancers' regalia.  Many dances require eagle feathers for headdresses or for bustles, which can require 20-30 feathers. The feather are a means to honor the spirits when dancing.  But the reputations of most dancers - who view the eagle as sacred - are being tarnished. Legally, the feathers and body parts from protected birds such as hawks and eagles must be obtained from a federally run eagle repository. These repositories collect and preserve those birds who have died from natural or accidental causes.  It can take years for Aboriginal and Native people on long waiting lists to receive these sacred items. Because the number of eagles is not enough to meet the demand, poachers kill the birds, then sell the parts on the black market.  There have been several busts:
In 2006, 11 men were charged after investigators discovered 50 eagle carcasses on Vancouver's north shore
In 2007, a man was fined $5,000 for buying baby-eagle wings from an undercover officer at a Calgary-area powwow.
This year, an undercover agent arrested a woman who offered to sell him contraband feathers. The bust netted eagle parts worth thousands of dollars, including claws, wings and feathers. The woman was arrested, pleaded guilty to trafficking wildlife, and was fined $25,000. 
But conservation experts say these cases only scratch the surface and more must  be done. In the meantime, Native people are distraught by the killings. "We hold the eagle in such high esteem, that governs you socially about taking their life," said Amos Key Jr., co-chair of Canada's largest indoor powwow.
Eagle Feather Laws, U.S.:

More info:

Doubt, Anger Over Brazil Dams
Brazil: Construction has begun on one of two massive hydroelectric dams that will span the Madeira River. Maderia is a main tributary of the Amazon River. It's also a major waterway  leading from the Andes through the rain forests of South America.  Damming the Madeira  is widely criticized by social and environmental groups. They say it will cause damage to the environment, river residents and nearby indigenous tribes.
"I don't know what's going to happen," said fisherman Francisco Evangelista de Abreu as two river dolphins crested and submerged nearby.
"I don't have any experience outside of this." 
Once the waters rise, Jose da Silva Machado, 45, will no longer ferry schoolchildren across the river, nor fish in its rapids, nor live on its banks.
Leonel Pereira de Souza, 61, knows the vegetable farm where he was born, raised his children and grandchildren will dissolve in the flood." We are peasants. We live off the soil," he said. "They are offering houses in the village. There is no place to plant or fish."

Grand Canyon tribe working on flood-recovery plan

Havasupai Reservation, Arizona: The Havasupai Reservation lies deep in a gorge off the Grand Canyon. It is entirely dependent on tourism, from the lodge, the cafe, the store and to the people who pack camping gear on mules headed up and down the trail.  In August, a dam breach cause major flooding, and Havasupai tribal member had to be evacuated by helicopter. Since then, nearly 1,000 tribal members have been clearing  flood debris from a campground and the miles-long trail leading to blue-green waterfalls and a nearby village.  The Havasupai thought the reservation wouldn't reopen until next spring. But thanks to a $1,000,000 donation from California's San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, it could be sooner.  "We feel very good about helping our brothers and sisters, the Supai people," said San Manuel Chairman, James Ramos. "We believe this needs to happen. Who knows when we might be on the other side of the fence?"  Other tribes have chipped in, as well. The Hualapai Tribe, which took in evacuees after the flooding, donated 10% of its proceeds over four weekends to the Havasupai.

Beluga numbers unchanged
Alaska: Only 375 beluga whales live in Cook Inlet. Those numbers have not increased in the last year when  scientists wanted them placed on the endangered species list. However, Governor Sarah Palin opposed the idea, saying such a listing would harm the local economy. "  Now, scientists are once again calling for belugas to be listed as an endangered species. "This species should have been protected years ago,"  said Brendan Cummings from the Center for Biological Diversity.  "Probably something more needs to be done for this species to recover.  The question is what," said Rod Hobbs from the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle.  At one time 1,300 Cook Inlet belugas existed. When their numbers sharply declined, Native subsistence hunters were blamed, so  he hunt was curtailed. That was almost 10 years ago.  Between 1999 - 2007, subsistence hunters only harvested five whales. None were harvested since. Yet the belugas are not recovering.   Cook Inlet belugas are considered genetically distinct. They are one of five groups of beluga whales in U.S. waters. The others are in Bristol Bay, the eastern Bering Sea, the eastern Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea. Federal scientists say Cook Inlet whales have a 26% chance of becoming extinct in the next 100 years.
[Editor's note: Following this write-up, the U.S. Government added the Cook Inlet Belugas to the Endangered Species List, overriding Governor Sarah Palin's stand.]

Supervisors briefed on salmon plague

Oregon: Young salmon are struggling against a epidemic disease in the Klamath River. Pathologist Scott Foott with the U.S.  Fish and Wildlife Service' briefed county supervisors about the abnormal rate of salmon infection caused by parasites.  The parasites live in a 60-mile stretch of river downstream of Iron Gate Dam. This year, 54% percent of juvenile salmon have the parasite called Ceratomyxa shasta.  Infected fish are dying at extraordinarily high rates  Biologists are trying to figure out how to control the epidemic.

Future Of Native American Traditions In Doubt
Maryland: When 9-year-old Tyler Richardson isn't playing sports, he's dancing at a powwow. "I just can't stop because it's so fun and it's my culture," he says.  Tyler doesn't dance for attention; he does it to honor traditions and family.  "My grandma, she was gone for a real long time and I had to go to a powwow that she couldn't go to," he says. "Then I danced in a competition and thought of her and I danced really good." Each year, thousands of Native Americans travel hundreds of miles to participate in powwows. The events bring tribes together and keep culture strong.  But lately, with gas prices rising and the economy slowing, it has been a struggle to maintain this tradition.  Tyler's family are members of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe from North Carolina. The trip to Baltimore's annual powwow cost a lot of money.  Tyler's father, Jesse Richardson, used to drive his family to dozens of other powwows where he sang with a drum group.  But this year he must sacrifice culture to pay bills. "We've stayed at home more now than we've ever done before because of gas and hotels," he says. ""If we decided to go, we were in the hole for a while because of it. It's kind of hard to stay away from powwows because this is what we do; this is what we're about."  The economy has also been rough on powwow vendors like Yellow Two Horse, who drives his jewelry and art to about 30 powwows a year. He used to make decent money. Not this year -- his business is down between 30%-50%.
View videos and listen to the st

Nature meets culture
Alaska: The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra has premiered a culturally and historically rich piece of theater and classical music called "Echoes."  Echoes blends sea chanteys and multimedia imagery with indigenous song and dance from Alaska, Hawaii and New England. Composed by ASO conductor Randall Craig Fleisher, "Echoes" centers on the ties between 19th century cultures when traders and whalers sailed from Massachusetts and around Cape Horn to Hawaii and Alaska. "My mission was to make an utterly mind-blowing musical, theatrical, cultural experience," Fleisher said, "so that people would be so stirred by the human power of this Native music with all the expressive capabilities of the symphony."   Echoes was commissioned by ECHO  (Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations].  ECHO's mission to is reach children, teachers and other adults through art and other curriculums. As such, the piece reflects ECHO partners in Alaska, Hawaii and Massachusetts.

 North by Northeast
Maine:  Tilbury House Publishers have released their new book, “North by Northeast: Wabanaki, Akwesasne Mohawk, and Tuscarora Traditional Arts.”  North by Northeast  showcases artwork and words from dozens of Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Maliseet , Micmac,  Mohawk and Tuscarora artists.  Each practices a  traditional art form such as basketmaking, beadwork, birch-bark canoe making and wood carving.  Created by  Kathleen Mundell, North by Northeast shares over 200 large photos, information, and insights from the artists:

     Haudenosaunee baskets and beadwork designs are culturally and traditionally symbolic.
     Corn-washer baskets have been used for centuries.
     “When we gather to make baskets, we speak our language, share our culture, tell stories of the past, and share ideas for the future.”  Salli Benedict, Akwesasne Mohawk basketmaker.

     Dome design in beadwork symbolizes the sky and sky world from which this world was created.
   From the 1700s on, the communities made and sold baskets, herbal medicines, birch-bark boxes, beadwork and elaborate carvings to places as far away as Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
     “The forests, fish and animals the Wabanaki had depended on for thousands of
years were decimated, and our people found themselves forced to adapt to an economy based on cash. Through these incredibly hard times, the Wabanaki turned within, to their art and creativity in order to survive.” Jennifer Neptune, Penobscot basketmaker
     Beadworkers incorporated ancient designs with silk ribbon and beads to created clothing, moccasins, hats, and more.     
     "Traditional artists became bridges between what had been and what was yet to be.” Jennifer Neptune, Penobscot basketmaker
     White birch tree were used for wigwams, canoes, buckets, cooking utensils and more.  “I’ve actually come across white birch that someone peeled 40 or 50 years earlier. My first thought was, ‘This is my ancestors.’ I’m out here doing what they did and I get a big kick out of that.” Barry Dana,  Penobscot

For more information about “North by Northeast,” visit*VJ6Er1&next=20&ppinc=1kit&product=kit

Film at American Indian Museum Looks at Vanished Brooklyn Community

New York: Six generations of Mohawk Indians have helped shape the New York skyline. Known for their agile ability to work on the extremely high steel beams, they left their reserves for the city and work. During the 1920s-1950s, one entire community of Mohawks ironworkers and their families lived Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. This now-almost-forgotten era is the subject of the film “Little Caughnawaga: From Brooklyn and Back.”  Little Caughnawaga was directed by Reaghan Tarbell. It traces her family of ironworkers from Quebec's Kahnawake Mohawk community to Brooklyn. Her film documents the old community including:
The "Wigwam" a Mohawk bar and grill which hung a sign saying “Through These Doors Walk the Greatest Ironworkers in the World.” In addition to alcohol, the Wigwam served cornmeal cakes and other Native dishes.
A small building which once housed the Cuyler Presbyterian Church. It's leader,  Dr. David Cory, learned the Mohawk-Oneida language to help serve his congregation. Cory also translated the hymn book into the Mohawk language and sponsored pow-wows within the church.
A low-rise building that once served as the Mohawk ironworkers’ union hall.
By the 1970s, new construction techniques made the Mohawks' ironworkers skills less necessary, and many moved away from Boerum Hill.  “Little Caughnawaga: From Brooklyn and Back.” will be shown at Manhattan's Museum of the American Indian on November 6.

Oneidas to join Macy's parade
Oneida Indian Nation, New York: First Hollywood ... then the Cannes Film Festival ... then the Golf Channel.  Now, in the streets of Manhattan, the tiny Oneida Indian Nation faces its biggest stage yet: a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Viewed by over 50,000,000 people, Macy's annual parade is one more media coup for the Oneida Nation, only 1,000 members strong,  While other Indian tribes have appeared in the 82-year-old parade,  the Oneidas are the first to have a float.

Background: Robert Kaufman Fabrics:

Bar: Ted's Graphics

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