Youth and Education News
June 29, 2005 Issue 155 Volume 4
"We can learn from each other, but researchers need to recognize they are students of our culture; we are the teachers, not the other way around. I think we need to speak for ourselves.'' Karenne Wood, Monacan
Sacred site is reborn as city sanctuary
Minnesota: It was a brewery site, a rail yard and a dumping ground for rejected home furnishings. Through it all, the exhausted wedge of land in St. Paul has been a sacred site to the Dakota Indian people. Now those 27 acres in the Mississippi floodplain are seeing their dignity restored as the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, the largest and most natural downtown-area park in St. Paul. A public celebration recently honored the efforts of about 25 private and public entities who pulled buckthorn, hauled trash and helped raise $5,700,000 to rescue the land. The unfinished sanctuary opened to the public this spring after more than eight years of grassroots activism. "It's never been a forgotten site for us," said Jim Rock, a Dakota tribe member who is happy to see the land come nearly full circle. "It's been a site of struggle. When it had toxic waste dripping from the trains, it was hard to watch." Rock remembers exploring the area near the site's "Wakan Tipi" cave, later named Carver's Cave, for the rock drawings. Later in life, Rock's elders told him they believed Wakan Tipi is where the Dakota people originated.
Learn more: www.mepartnership.org/sites/LOWERPHALENCREE
Create a medicine wheel garden
North Dakota: ''Medicine wheel gardens build on the radiating energy of circles -- ever on the move,'' said E. Barrie Kavasch, ethnobotanist, herbalist and author. Kavasch, who has Cherokee, Creek and Powhatan ancestry, has visited ancient medicine wheels around the world and has made medicine wheel gardens for more than a decade. Designing the plot is a personal matter. ''When you lay one out, think about what's on your mind,'' said Kavasch. ''What do you need? What does the land need?'' A medicine wheel garden can be large or very simple. One of the most effortless designs requires making a small circular rock outline in a place special to you. Divide the circle into quadrants with rows of stones and wait to see which plants show up. Herbalists in many traditions believe that those you need the most are the ones that will appear. Kavasch tried the latter approach with her first medicine wheel garden in a woodland clearing near her house and soon found strawberries, cinquefoil and sweetgrass sprouting in it. ''What a wonderful sign!'' she thought. She returned to the spot again and again for solace and prayer.
Planting the garden
If you decide to plant a garden rather than simply wait to see what Mother Earth provides, here's how to proceed:
Decide if you are planting seeds or plants. Medicine plants can be fussy, so beginners should go to a garden center, where they'll find many ready to pop into the ground.
Pick a spot: Whether the location is sunny or shady will determine what plants can grow there.
Determine the bed's size. Five-10 feet across is good for beginner. Stick a stake in the ground, and tie a string to it that is half the diameter. Keeping the string taut, walk in a circle while marking spots along the circumference with small sticks.
Mark the cardinal directions -- north, south, east and west -- with larger sticks.
Clear the surface of grass or other plant matter within the circle. Don't use herbicides; that defeats the purpose of growing healing plants.
Fertilize the soil by using shovel to work in organic compost or composted manure.
Use cobble-sized rocks to mark the circle and the quadrants. If the garden is large enough for paths, cover them with gravel or river stones.
Assign the colors to the four directions (see plant list below).
Plant and mulch seeds or transplants. Conserve moisture and prevent weeds by placing straw or bark around the bases of the plants.
Scatter rocks within the quadrants to soak up heat during the day and release it at night to keep the plants at an even temperature.
Perennials or shrubs or are self-seeding, so they will be in your garden year after year. Tuck in a few annuals such as nasturtiums, chilis and tomatoes around them.
Desert Southwest and prairie gardens require five to six hours of sun per day; the Northeast woodland garden is for a semi-shaded spot with three to four hours of sun daily.
Water during dry spells.
Plants for a Desert Southwest garden
Plants for a Prairie garden
Turk's cap lily
Prairie blazing star
Plants for a Northeast woodland shade garden
Controlled burning at LBL helps restore land to its ancient state
Tennessee: Native American cultures practiced basic land management, including tree thinning and clearing to support wildlife and healthier forests. They would set fires that would burn the undergrowth, but spare larger trees. "It's pretty well documented through Native American cultures that fire was used to develop farms and ranchland to create habitats for wildlife," said biologist Jim McCoy. "That shaped the landscape into a combination of open areas called 'barrens' and forests that were park-like by today's standards, where bigger, healthier trees were more widely distributed and more sunlight was therefore able to reach the forest floor." When Europeans settled the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers area, they stopped the burning, and forests grew thick with dense underbrush. Now the U.S. Forest Service has begun prescribed burning on 350 acres at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Out of the post-burn ashes, new native grasses are peeking through, and small sassafras and huckleberry saplings are providing a good food source for wildlife, particularly deer. The U.S. Forest Service, which oversees the area, began prescribed burning in March. Visitors are encouraged to watch and learn about the project.
Solar power gives some Navajos electricity for 1st time
New Mexico: Fifty Navajo Nation homes haveelectricity for the first time thanks to solar power systems. The systems were built and installed by Sacred Power Corp., an American Indian-owned company in Albuquerque. "When the people came out to hook (the electricity) up, I said, 'Thank you. We've been in the dark for a long time,'" said Larry Toledo. The portable systems run on both solar and wind power and are composed of an 800-watt photovoltaic cell, 400-watt wind turbine, 10,000-watt-hour batteries and an AC inverter. Added to the package is a high-efficiency refrigerator and energy-efficient light bulbs. Sacred Power owner Dave Melton, a member of Laguna Pueblo, said he was honored to provide a service that most people in the United States already enjoy. "It's very gratifying to see how happy these people are. It's almost too good to be true," Melton said.
Picuris Pueblo Allowed To Collect Clay for Art, Ceremonies
New Mexico: For five generations, Fern Sanchez's family has been making pots out of the pure clay found in the hills above Picuris Pueblo. Sanchez learned the craft from her mother and grandmother, and she has taught it to both her daughter and her grandson. But for decades the clay has been technically off limits for Sanchez and the Picuris. Until now. After the Oglebay Norton mining company filed for bankruptcy last year, Picuris Pueblo was able to reach a settlement for ownership of the land. "Now we're able to go out there without being harassed and again create the pottery," Sanchez said. The pueblo is taking stock of what had been lost and regained. Clay pits that have fueled Picuris' pottery for generations are scarred by decades of mica mining. "It was devastating to go up there," Sanchez said. "When I first thought about it, I thought it would be just a big hole in the mountain. But it was really bad-like an open wound." Ogelbay mined the glittering smooth rock for construction materials and cosmetics. For the Picuris, the mica-rich clay produces pottery that is easier to fire, more durable, and that adds a unique flavor to food when used for cooking. The plan now is to stabilize the site, protect cultural resources and wildlife habitat, and create a land use other than mining
Interest In Her Project Boomed
Black Ash Tree
|Minnesota: Hope Flanagan is known and respected
among American Indians for her traditional basket-making skills. The Seneca woman shares her art
with high school students at Anishinabe Academy, Minneapolis. But on June 9, Flanagan's art
reached the Minneapolis Police Department's bomb squad. It happened like this: Though Flanagan
prefers birch bark when making make baskets, she wanted her students to learn about another
ancient basket-making resource: strips from black ash trees. To make black ash bark pliable, the
tree trunk portion must be soaked in water for a year before the wood can be used. A year ago,
Flanagan went to a marsh near Lake Mille Lacs and was allowed to cut down a black ash. She
followed Indian rituals -- thanking the creator for the tree, leaving tobacco at the site, etc.
-- in cutting down the tree. But soaking the tree was a challenge. "I don't live near a
lake or on a river," said Flanagan, who lives in the city. She went to a hardware store and
bought PVC plastic pipe that was big enough to hold the 4-inch ash trunk. She put her black ash
in the pipe, capped one end, filled it with water and capped the other end. On June 8, she
brought the log-in-a-pipe to school. Her students opened the pipe to a "rather strong
odor," Flanagan said. She peeled the bark, then the students used mallets to pound
the ash to create strips. At the end of the school day, she put the ash back in the pipe, filled
it with water and, because of the odor, set it in a plastic garbage bag outside the school. At
5:30 a.m. the next morning, the school's head engineer spotted the garbage bag, checked inside
and saw the capped PVC pipe, which can also be used to make bombs. The engineer called police
who called in the bomb squad. "If people suspect something, they should err on the
side of safety," said police spokesman Ron Reier. The school area was cordoned off
and Ka-boom! The bomb techs blew up the pipe and discovered the 3-foot section of black ash.
Not Only a Partner, a Dynamic Interpreter
After 24 years with the New York City Ballet, Jock Soto, a Navajo/Puerto Rican ballet dancer, gave his farewell performance. Mr. Soto, 40, was born in Gallup, N.M. When he was 4, his family moved to California where Mr. Soto studied ballet. The School of American Ballet recruited him with a scholarship for the school when he was 13. Besides being an excellent solo dancer, Soto is best known as a superlative ballet partner. Soto now plans to continue teaching at the school, open a restaurant and give lectures to American Indian children.
The New York Times Company
BBC Film Crew Visits Cherokee Capital
Georgia: Chief John Ross was the only elected principal chief of the
United Cherokee Nation. But John Ross was not all Cherokee--his grandfather, Scottish trader John McDonald,
married a half-Cherokee bride. It is this Scottish heritage that attracted the interest of a British Broadcasting
crew from Glasgow, Scotland. The four-man group spent three weeks in North Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and along
the Trail of Tears filming historic sites for a documentary film about Chief Ross. "You don't expect Scotsmen
to become principal chiefs of Cherokee nations, but he did," said George Rosie, the film's writer and producer.
Chief Ross was elected chief of the Cherokee nation from 1828 until his death in 1866. Although he argued his
nation's plight before the U.S. Supreme Court and won the decision, the Cherokee were still forced from their
homes. Ross, who could have stayed behind, went with his people. "It's a great story," Mr.
Rosie said. Chief Ross' great-great-great-granddaughter, Gayle Ross, is the film's narrator. Ms. Ross,
who lives in Texas, said when she received an e-mail about the film, she jumped at the chance to be part of it.
Sports and life skills camp can challenge, motivate American Indian students
New Mexico: Native Vision is among the largest camps in the United States for American Indian students. This year's annual sports and life skills camp held in Albuquerque attracted 750 American Indian students from 30 tribes across the country. Students in grades 4-12 brushed up on sports skills and participated in health fairs, community service projects, and parenting workshops, among other things. ''We learn how to appreciate ourselves and succeed in our lives and not be ashamed of who we are,'' said Victoria Atencio, who is attending the camp for the second time. Mathuram Santosham from John Hopkin's Center for American Indian Health, says returning campers have greatly improved their lifestyles. The idea is ''to get to the kids early on and try to affect their lifestyle,'' he said. Native Vision has an added incentive: 45 professional, retired and collegiate athletes volunteer time for football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and running clinics.
Salt Lake Tribune
Tribal games events create excitement
Montana: Before there was hockey, there was shinney. Before there was football, there was lacrosse. Before there was horseshoes, there was make-the-stick-jump. Before there was a triathlon, there was horse, foot and canoe racing. Traditional tribal games taught Native peoples the skills they needed to survive: quick thinking, strength, memory, stamina, teamwork, intuition, horsemanship and other qualities necessary to excel in life. Today, thanks to tribal educators, kids, and the memories of elders, these games are staging a comeback. Many will be played during this summer's "Explore the Big Sky" events in Great Fall on June 29 - July 3.
For more information, visit: www.explorethebigsky.org
Yakamas buy professional basketball team
Washington: The Yakama Nation has purchased the minor league Yakima Sun Kings basketball team. "We are embarking on a very significant and very definitive time in the history of the Yakama Nation," said Tribal Council Secretary Davis Washines. "We have communities on our reservation that need more services, and we have to figure out ways to provide those services. By promoting the Yakama Nation and our businesses, we have that opportunity, at the same time we have the opportunity to be better neighbors." The purchase price was $140,000. Net revenue from the team's operations will fund boys and girls clubs and scholarships for young tribal members.
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