Alaska Natives Watch Traditions Melting Away
Inupiat Homelands, Alaska: Hunting walrus is an age-old tradition
for the Inupiat Eskimo Native people of King Island on the Bering
Sea off Alaska. The walrus provides meat for the long, dark, frigid
winters, and its tusks, skin, blubber, and other body parts are
used for watertight parka, "pokes" to store berries, and others.
But the effects of climate change have wreaked havoc with Arctic
weather which, for centuries, Arctic Natives could read like a book.
Now, indigenous people can no longer predict important climactic
changes and events like they used to, causing some to freeze to
death when caught in storms or stranded on ice. Some starve as their
traditional hunts are interrupted."All living things are going to be
affected by global warming," said long-time hunter Sylvester AyekI.
" don’t see it getting any better in our lifetime. We’ve got to stop
this fossil fuel burning frenzy, instead of going to war for it."
Widely used models predict Arctic temperatures could rise 7 to 14
degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. This year's summer sea
ice reached record lows. IT's predicted the Arctic could be free of
summer sea ice within a decade or less. Data released by NASA this
spring showed that while in the past more than half the ice in the
Arctic had survived multiple years, this spring more than 70% of
Arctic sea ice was "young" ice less than a year old. "We’ve lost our
air conditioner in the north, because we don’t have all that white
ice," said Brenda Ekwurzel, a geochemist with the Union of Concerned
Scientists. She noted that in March 1987 sea ice was three meters
thick over most of the Arctic, whereas in March 2007 only a quarter
of the ice was that thick.
Along the Louisiana coast, indigenous cultures and communities
remain in peril
Louisiana: Storms, flooding, and erosion threatens many communities
across coastal Louisiana as the land sinks into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Isle of de Jean Charles, home of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw
Indians, used to be 4 miles wide. Now it's only 1/4 mile wide. One
week after Hurricane Gustav flooded much of Jean Charles, Hurricane
Ike brought a 9-foot storm surge that swamped homes once again.
Native American residents can't afford to keep rebuilding, so Albert
Naquin, chief of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, says his tribe must
surrender their way of life and move farther inland. Other state
coastal people -- the Cajun, Creole, and others --risk losing their
unique cultures. This land and culture loss is disastrous to the
State. “These communities are cultural and historical assets,” Joel
Waltzer, tribal attorney for the Pointe-aux-Chenes Indian. Losing
the communities “would mean the end of an entire lifestyle and, in
this case, the end of an entire people.”
Native environmental hero: Jesus Leon Santos
Oaxaca, Mexico: Jesus Leon Santos of Nochixtlan, an indigenous
farmer, has been awarded the 2008 Goldman Environmental Prize for
sustainable development. The Goldman prize is awarded to grass-roots
heroes who protect and enhance the natural environment, often at
great personal risk. Leon, 42, has united the area's small farmers
in CEDICAM [Center for Integral Small Farmer Development in the
Mixteca]. Together, they have planted more than 1,000,000 native
trees, built hundreds of miles of ditches that hold water and
prevent erosion, and adapted ancient indigenous practices to restore
their ecosystem. Santos says Oaxaca looked very different before
the Spaniards arrived. Some areas had been home to oak forests and
shrub lands as well as large fields of corn, beans, squash, chiles,
tomatoes, potatoes and fruit trees. By the time Santos was born,
huge goat farms, farm chemicals, and industry turned the area into
"a desert with no water, nor plants, nor trees, nor anything, ''
Santos said. The loss of arable topsoil and nutrients had eroded by
83%; 1,235,000 acres were considered severely eroded. ''The
indigenous people have so much to share with this planet," Santos
said. " We are an important part of this earth. We have been the
guardians, and it is an important role with which we must continue.
... We cannot let this responsibility fall into other hands. We
must not let the corporations take these resources because this is
the legacy for all people, not just a few."
Slideshow of Mr. Santos efforts:
american_indian_news_source_tulanappes_list] Digest Number 1869
Freshwater fish in N. America in peril, study says
A major study by scientists from the U.S. and Canada says about
of freshwater fish species in North America are in peril. The
crisis over fish populations has raised extreme concern among
scientists. One biologist called it "silent
" Others say:
Howard Jelks, U.S. Geological Survey: The number of species in
trouble was nearly double to what he expected. People should be
Larry Crowder, Marine biologist from Duke University: Fish "live in
a freshwater habitat that's pretty much under assault by people.
Things are tanking all around us. When does it have to be bad enough
to get people's attention?"
Scientist Anthony Ricciardi: "A lot of silent extinctions are
happening. What we're doing is widespread, it's pervasive and it's
While they are unaware, humans are the main cause of the problem
because we pollute and dam freshwater habitats. We endangered other
fish through recreational fishing for sport or food.
Invasive species crowding out native fish is also to blame,
Among the study's results:
Fish in Canada facing extinction
(All fish listed are endangered unless otherwise noted)
Atlantic whitefish and Atlantic salmon (Bay of Fundy,
Gulf of Maine population),
Shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic salmon (Bay of
Fundy, Gulf of Maine population)
Striped bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population; possibly
extinct) and Copper redhorse
Deepwater cisco (extinct), Atlantic salmon (Great Lakes
population; extinct), Arctic grayling (Great Lakes population;
extinct), Blue pike (extinct); Lake Ontario kiyi (possibly extinct);
Blackfin cisco (possibly extinct); Shortnose cisco (possibly
extinct) and Aurora trout
Alberta: Banff longnose dace (extinct)
Western brook lamprey (Morrison Creek, Vancouver
Island pop.); Coho salmon (Interior Fraser River population);
Sockeye salmon (Cultus Lake, Saginaw Lake populations); White
sturgeon; Nooksack dace; Salish sucker ; Benthic Enos Lake
stickleback; Benthic Hadley Lake stickleback (possibly extinct)
Benthic Paxton Lake stickleback; Benthic Vananda Creek sticklebac;
Limnetic Enos Lake stickleback; limnetic Hadley Lake stickleback
(possibly extinct); Limnetic Paxton Lake stickleback; Limnetic
Vananda Creek stickleback; Misty Lake lentic stickleback; Misty lake
lotic stickleback ;
N.L., P.E.I., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, N.W.T., Nunavut:
listed as endangered or extinct
New to the Imperiled List
Striped bass, snail bullhead, flat bullhead and spotted bullhead
catfish living in the Gulf of Mexico, Bay of Fundy and southern
Gulf of St. Lawrence, Sockeye, Chinook, coho, chum and Atlantic
entire species are in trouble or already extinct
Fish species and subspecies in North America which
became extinct rose from 40
61 since 1989.
subspecies are vulnerable, threatened, or endangered.
That's up from
of the fish that were in trouble in
are worse off
of fish in Mexico are endangered.
33% of fish in the United States are in peril.
10% of Canada's fish are dwindling.
two dozen trout populations are in trouble.
Many endangered fish species are
small minnows and darters
whose absence is little noticed, but they play a vital
role in the
The most vulnerable fish in the U.S. are in the
of fish populations that were in peril in
have made a comeback
Read the report "Conservation Status of Imperiled
North American Freshwater and Dladromous Fishes":
An interactive map showing fish populations in 80 different regions
of North America:
Deal to aid endangered sturgeon
Oregon: After 6 years, environmentalists and government agencies
have agreed to help save the endangered Kootenai River white
sturgeon spawn, The sturgeon, which can grow to 19 feet, are North
America's largest freshwater fish. They are found only in northern
Idaho, northwest Montana and southeast British Columbia. Kootenai
sturgeon have not successfully spawned since Libby Dam was completed
in the 1970s. In 1994, they were listed as endangered because dam
operations polluted and blocked their water flow and ruined the
shallow waters needed to spawn. The new plan calls for Libby Dam's
flow to mimic ideal conditions for sturgeon spawning. "We hope this
leads to recovery," said Noah Greenwal from the Center for
Biological Diversity. "This historic agreement helps give the
sturgeon a shot at survival." Only 500 Kootenai sturgeon survive
today. Of the world's 24 species of sturgeon, most are threatened
with extinction. The local Kootenai population has been decreasing
by 9% per year.
Tlingit helmet sells at auction for nearly $2.2 million
Connecticut: A private collector recently purchased a rare Tlingit
warrior’s helmet $2,185,000 at an East Coast Auction “[The buyer]
didn’t even understand it to be Native American necessarily,” said
Jack DeStories, auction house owner. “She didn’t know; she just
thought it was an interesting curiosity.” Only 90-95 Tlingit warrior
helmets are known to exist. Little is known about this helmet's
history except that the seller had received it as a gift in 1984.
Experts believe this helmet dates to the late 18th or early 19th
century. Its existence came as a shock to Tlingit people. "The
significance of the helmet to us is it’s not just an art piece, but
it represents a tie to our ancestors, a tie to the spirit of our
ancestors," said Rosita Worl, a Tlingit of eagle moiety and
president of Sealaska Heritage Institute. "So it’s really sad to
think of the possibility that it will never come home - unless of
course the collector has a soul and heart and knows that the spirit
of that helmet wants to come home.” Items from private collections
do not fall under the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act.
October 4: Live Broadcast of the Native American Music Awards
New York: The 10th Annual Native American Music Awards will be
broadcast live over the Internet on Saturday, October 4, 2008 via
Single Feather Media, a Native American video and multimedia
company. The three hour program includes over 30 Awards categories
from every genre of music as well live performances and Hall of Fame
inductions. The broadcast can be viewed on October 4th by visiting
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carrying the medicine, sharing a message
Washington DC: In the 1960s, President Lyndon Baines Johnson staked
his reputation on the Vietnam War. Many who "sassed" him were
blacklisted by the federal government and the CIA. Buffy
Sainte-Marie was one. "... When I'd have
a concert and there'd be,
you know, several thousand people at the concert, and they'd all
say, 'Well, how come we can't get your records?'" the Cree singer
recalls. "I'd be blaming it on
the record company. But the record
company always said that they would ship the record, but they
wouldn't get to the
town." Years later, she discovered the
government's ban against her music. "I suppose if I were a business
person I'd say, 'Yeah, it hurt my career.' But what really bugged me
about it is that my voice was silenced, and I think the things that
I was saying and singing in those days was a medicine to help and
support ideas, people, healings that could have been happening. ...
When you carry the medicine, sometimes you have to carry it a long
way.'' Today Sainte-Marie's music is being embraced by all
generations. Recently, at the National Museum of the American
Indian, Sainte-Marie read a poem reflecting on the War in Iraq.
The War Racket
''And that's how it's done.
About every 30 years
The rich fill their coffers.
The poor fill with tears.
The young fill the coffins.
The old will hang a wreath.
The politicians will get photographed
with their names underneath.''
Hannah Duston, Passaconaway bobbleheads criticized
New Hampshire: One employee has quit and another refuses to sell or
handle bobblehead dolls sold by the New Hampshire
Society. One doll depicts an ax-holding Hannah Duston who, in 1697,
escaped from Abenaki
Indians by scalping her captors. The other doll
is Chief Passaconaway who formed the Penacook Confederacy of more
than a dozen tribes. The bobbleheads are considered historically
inaccurate and insensitive to American Indians. "To have the New
Hampshire Historical Society come out with a caricature of an Indian
after all these years of us working on this issue ... is just
staggering," said David Stewart-Smith, historian for the state's
Intertribal Council. Bill Veillette, NHHS director, said that while
the bobbleheads expose people to history, their real purpose is to
raise money for the historical society. "If you want the product to
sell, frankly, you have to use the most iconic image that people are
used to," he said. Veillette also said he has no interest in
consulting with American Indian Groups on such matters. "We wouldn't
and we shouldn't," he said. "For an exhibition we should, absolutely
... but we run our store probably like everyone else ... You don't
run it by the entire staff. You don't go out and consult with a
bunch of people."
Toronto win 'just sinking in' for Nunavut women's film group
Nunavut: Before Tomorrow, an Inuktitut-language movie co-directed by
Marie-Hélčne Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, won best Canadian
first feature at the Toronto Film Festival. Before Tomorrow depicts
the struggles of an Inuk woman and her grandson after they become
trapped on a remote Arctic island. Ivalu, who also stars in Before
Tomorrow, did not expect the film to win, and she is still emotional
every time she watches it. The 76-year-old woman kept things
authentic by recalling her own experiences and incorporating
elements from them into the film. Before Tomorrow was co-produced by
Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc. and Kunuk Cohn Productions, who also
created Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) and The Journals of Knud
Rasmussen. It's expected that Before Tomorrow will be released
across Canada this winter.
Stadium plaza to honor all 11 state tribes
Minnesota: Each of Minnesota's 11 American Indian tribes will be
represented outside of the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank
Stadium. The Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza will lead to the main
gate of the new campus football stadium. It will feature 11 "sky
markers," one for each tribal nation in the state. Tribal Nations
Plaza was made possible by a large private gift from the Shakopee
Mdewakanton Dakota Community to the UM Athletic Department.
Depp and Clooney may star in THE LONE RANGER
Rumors are flying that Walt Disney Pictures has signed Johnny Depp
to star as Tonto in the Jerry Bruckheimer production of The Lone
Ranger. Depp is reported to be of Cherokee and Navajo ancestry.
Flying alongside the Depp rumor is another claiming George Clooney
will play the title character.