Youth and Education News
March 17, 2004, Issue 130 Volume 1
"Please do not touch the forest, because it gives us life. Please stop the bulldozers." Ayoreo Indians, Paraguay
First view of grandfather will be at Smithsonian Museum
Evelyn Trumbly Taylor never thought she would get to see her grandfather -- he died more than twenty years before she was born. But in June, she and family members will visit the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC a to see a bronze bust of her grandfather, Albert Penn. "It's just something I never thought would happen," Evelyn Taylor said. Penn was a n Osage tribal member who traveled to Washington to discuss mineral rights. His bust, along with a face mask and other items, have recently been taken from the Smithsonian's archives, where they had been stored since the 1960s.
Bringing Native history home
When Harold Jacobs, Tlingit, saw a Native headband made of braided hair in a Philadelphia museum, he knew whose hair it was and sang its song. It was made by Jacobs' great-great-great-great-great grandmother who cut her hair, made it into a headband and gave it to her husband to be remembered by. The woman's father then wrote a song about the headband to mark her marriage. "We still do that song today. She made that hairpiece for her husband using her own hair," Jacobs said. In February, John organized a visit of clan leaders to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. The Natives consulted with museum officials about the possible return of tribal objects. "The significance of bringing these artifacts back home is very powerful," John said. "There's healing that flows. It's very exciting." Steve Henrikson from the Alaska State Museum in Juneau agrees. "Those artifacts are like chapters out of the Tlingit history book," he said. "If you have some of the chapters missing, it's very difficult to teach the history from one generation to the next."
Businessman Aims To Preserve Shaman Culture in Amazon
Carlos Fierro is a 56-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant who moved to Santa Fe more than 30 years ago. He has a large real estate business, two successful sons, a deep religious faith and a knack for making his dreams come true. Carlos's latest vision is an ecological project on 250 acres of land deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle. The project, called Amada Encarnación, aims to help preserve the culture and medicinal traditions of the Amazonian shamans, or medicine men. "Ever since I was a little boy, my father would take me on trips into the jungle," Fierro said. "I wanted to know about these healers, the shaman. Why do they not live in the city? Why do they wear feathers on their head? Why don't they wear shoes? What kind of language do they speak? Why are they so strong? " Launched in January 2003, Amada Encarnación has attained nonprofit tax status in the United States and earned the blessing of government health officials in Ecuador. The project is also supported by powerful people in the financial industry. "I am truly blessed," Fierro said. "I feel like God has sent me to this Earth for a purpose -- to help some of the most needy people in the world."
Learn more: www.amadaencarnacion.com.
Tribe Revives Traditional Naming Ceremony
As a child, Grand Ronde OR tribal member Jim Holmes loved being read to. One of his favorite stories was from a rabbit-shaped book, so his family began calling him "rabbit." The name stuck. Recently Jim's father, a descendant of Chief Joseph Shangretta, honored him with a traditional tribal naming. "I've been a member of the Medicine Society for about 12 years," Merle Holmes said. "Someone said I should give my son the formal name of Rabbit. When I told him I was going to give him his name, the Medicine Society supported me." Recently, a two day naming ceremony took place on the reservation. Tribal members, some from as far away as Idaho, attended. One guest was Nora Kimsey, the oldest living Grand Ronde Tribal elder at 95, who doesn't remember a naming ceremony ever taking place in her lifetime. Jim was given the name Rabbit in both tribal dialects: Il-la-lik in the Warm Springs tribal dialect and Wa-la-lik in Wasco tribal language.
A group of uncontacted Ayoreo Indians has emerged from Paraguay's forests because of the deforestation all around them. The 17 people (five men, seven women and five children) are in excellent health, but acutely short of water. Colonists who have settled in their territory have taken possession of all water holes for cattle ranching, leaving the Indians unable to get water in the dry season. The Ayoreo's have requested access to water and a halt to the invasion of their territory. 'Please do not touch the forest, because it gives us life," they said in a message. "Please stop the bulldozers." Under national and international law, Paraguay's government should have titled the area (some 550,000 hectares) to the Indians. But after ten years, only 25% has been titled.
For more information, visit: http://www.survival-international.org/ayoreo.htm
Sacred dance essay prompts tribal banishment
Tito Naranjo, a professor of Native American studies at the University of New Mexico, has been banned from Taos Pueblo by his Indian community. Naranjo had written an essay about the sacred "Deer Dance," which was published on December 21, 200. Taos Pueblo leaders accused Naranjo of using tribal religious activity "for self promotion by writing an essay of a sensitive activity for publication." But Naranjo disagreed, saying the only way to preserve the tribe's oral traditions is to write them down and record the sounds of the dance. "Young tribal members are watching television instead of doing community work," he said. "CD-ROM will record the entire language of the elders and preserve precise intonations and authenticity of the language for future generations." The banishment means Naranjo, 66, could be arrested if he enters Taos Pueblo near the city of Taos, New Mexico.
New row over who discovered America
Welsh historians Alan Wilson and Baram Blackett are claiming the Welsh were the first whites to arrive in America. The historians mention ancient Caucasian-like skeletons discovered around the Ohio area. They also state that Native American history tells of a race of white men arriving in America around that time. "There are old-style Welsh hill forts around the Ohio River Valley that are patterned as they are in Britain," Wilson said. "They have a lot of inscriptions out there, carved in caves and on artifacts which are in coelbren, the old Welsh alphabet mainly recorded in Southeast Wales." Wilson and Blackett believe Prince Madoc Morfran sailed from Wales in 562 AD after famine and disease ravished homelands. Madoc sailed across the Atlantic, down the East coast from Newfoundland, and around Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. The Welsh then sailed up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River and eventually settled in Kentucky. "Madoc came back after 10 years; he then describes in well-known poetry this place he discovered," Wilson said. "It is no good dismissing it as fairy tales; [researching] must be done as clinically and honestly as we can."
As native languages are lost in droves, ideas go with them
Roughly 40% of the world's estimated 6,800 languages may disappear within the next century. "Human languages are vanishing as we speak," says K. David Harrison from Swarthmore College, PA.. The rate of loss, he adds, "makes the extinction of species look trivial by comparison." Several linguistic and other groups are documenting as many of the world's vanishing languages as possible. But working against them is the fact that nobody knows exactly how many languages exist. The Ethnologue database from SIL International lists 6,809 languages worldwide. That number is simply an estimation. "What is lost when a language is lost is a world." said Stephen Anderson from Yale.
Cree Children Grew Up Strangers in Algonquin Land:r
Annie-Irene Trapper-Weistche, Cree, grew up in the Algonquin town of Pikogan, about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal. She remembers being teased by Algonquin children and adults. "They were always like that. Some of those people were against the Cree," she said. "While some Cree youth spoke four languages - Cree, Algonquin, French and English - others never learned Cree or anything about their culture." Annie said her grandfather started talking about forming a separate community for the Washaw Sibi Cree in the 1970s. When her own father died in 1996, he said, "We need our culture back. Our children are losing their language. We need to teach them our ways. Don't let go of this. " Today, Annie works in the newly opened office of the Washaw Sibi Cree, located in Amos. "We want to have our own Cree community," Trapper-Weistche said. "People want to come home now."
Ottawa commits money for language protection
Canada is renewing funding for grassroots programming to keep Aboriginal languages alive in the Northwest territory. Janet Moodie, Yukon's deputy minister, says the government is committed to protecting Aboriginal languages. "An important principle of this particular program, one that has been referred to as the Yukon model, is that Yukon Aboriginal people are the stewards of their languages," she said.
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