Youth and Education News
November 2, 2005 Issue 160 Volume 1
"The old people must start talking, and
the young people must start listening."
Thomas Banyacya, Hopi
An Unburied Treasure
New York: Recent storms have uncovered an important early American Indian burial site in Riverhead. The site appeared after the Peconic River bank was eroded by heavy rains and high waves. It contained bones from at least two people buried from 800 BC- 800 AD and artifacts including bowl fragments and a pipe. "There was an exquisite ceramic pipe that was nearly perfect and had very interesting geometric detail on it, " said archaeologist David Thompson. "It was obviously used; it had burn marks on it. It was about four inches long." The bones have been turned over to a forensic anthropologist for examination.
What is the origin of democracy?
New York: Ask a non-Indian historian where American democracy was born and you'll hear answers like Philadelphia, Boston or the Mayflower. Ask Oren Lyons and he'll direct you to the Haudenosaunee (also called 'Iroquois'' or 'Six Nations''). ''Columbus and the conquistadors didn't bring democracy; neither did the Mayflower,'' Lyons said. ''Democracy was here in America. Freedom, democracy, women's rights, suffrage and peace were all here.'' The Haudenosaunee revere a prophet called the Peacemaker. Centuries ago, he gathered their ancestors together on the shores of Onondaga Lake to halt the warfare between them and create the world's first democratic government. The resulting "Great Law of Peace" bound the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca nations (and later the Tuscarora) into a powerful and prosperous confederacy. ''The Six Nations were involved in all land-based meetings in the Northeast during colonial times,'' Lyons said. ''We set the protocol and showed the Europeans how to have a meeting -- no interruptions, listen to each other, define the issues, one speaker at a time.'' Lyons cited a 1744 meeting in Lancaster, Penn. involving four colonial governors and the leaders of the six Haudenosaunee nations. At that gathering an Onondaga chief told the governors that their colonies ''would never amount to much'' if they did not unite as the Haudenosaunee had done. Notes of the meeting were sent to Philadelphia where Benjamin Franklin published them, and many of the Haudenosaunee ways became part of the U.S. Constitution. In October 1988, both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives passed resolutions that: ''acknowledge[d] the contribution made by the Iroquois Confederacy and other Indian nations to the formation and development of the United States'' and ''reaffirm[ed] the constitutionally recognized government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes.''
Read: The Constitution of the Iroquois Nation
Old-world wars brought death, slavery into Florida
Florida: The Colonial American Southeast, especially Georgia and Florida, had something Europeans couldn't live without; deerskins for the European middle class. Deerskin was used for work pants and aprons, shoes, saddles, saddlebags, tackle, harness, bookbinding, and coverings for seats and luggage. Ships leaving Charleston in the early 1700s were ferrying 54,000 deerskins a year to Europe. By the 1740s and 1760s, the annual cargoes topped 152,000 skins. Historian James Axtell writes, "The best hunters were the Muskogee or Creeks of Alabama and Georgia." It was during this period that the Seminoles of Florida evolved. The American Revolution between the British and American colonists made refugees of many of the natives and resulted in "community creation," especially in Florida. Refugees built new lives and new towns, often creating one large community composed of several villages. The Seminoles would surface in the open land of Florida, one of the sanctuaries -- or "renegade strongholds -- for Indians, loyal British citizens, and escaped African slaves. Seminoles practiced a form of slavery and adoption that replaced warriors killed in battles with captured enemies. In this way, Seminoles accepted Africans and natives from many tribes.
Evidence Grows that Trail of Tears Extends into Western Counties
North Carolina: In 1838, the United States evicted 3,000 Cherokees from southwestern North Carolina. Thousands of men, women and children were ordered to leave for unknown lands to the West. Many people died along the way. That dark chapter in U.S. history came to be known as the Trail of Tears. Today, using shovels and aged government ledgers, a U. NC-Chapel Hill archaeologist, Brett Riggs, has unearthed remains of 30 Cherokee farms in Clay, Cherokee and Graham counties and located remnants of roads the Cherokees followed on their Trail of Tears. His work is evidence that old North Carolina roads should be included on the official Trail of Tears map, the commemorative route being established by the National Park Service. Currently, the roads extend only as far east as Tennessee. To Riggs, his discoveries more importantly restore a displaced people -- at least on paper -- to their land, a place where their ancestors lived and died for at least 1,000 years. "We have to be realistic about the history," Riggs said. "This was ethnic cleansing, in America."
findings not accepted by Inuit leader
Arctic: For years the Inuit have accused the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] and the federal government of killing more than 20,000 sled dogs between 1950-80. The killings were meant to keep Inuit off the land, thus destroying their traditional way of life. But a recent report by the RCMP denies the slaughter happened. They say they have found no evidence of a sanctioned slaughter of Inuit sled dogs in the Eastern Arctic, and that the only dogs killed were sick or a danger to the community. But the Qikiqtani Inuit Organization says the report is one-sided because the RCMP is doing an investigation on itself. "I'm not really surprised on the content," says Terry Audla, the group's executive director. "We were more or less expecting the type of information that was within the report " Audla says the QIA wants a judicial inquiry into the alleged dog killings. "What that would do from both sides, gather all the information and make sense of it all," he says.
RCMP: Interim Report: RCMP Review of Allegations - http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ccaps/sled_dogs_e.htm
Nisqually Elder Reflects on 60 years of Fighting for Salmon
Washington: It's been 60 years since Billy Frank's first arrest for catching salmon on the Nisqually River. He was 14 and doing what his father, his grandfather and generations of Nisqually tribal members had done for centuries. Since then, Frank has been fighting for both his people and the salmon. "In my estimation, he's the functional equivalent of Martin Luther King, Jr. for African-American people, or Cesar Chavez for Hispanic people," said David Nicandri, director of the Washington State History Museum. The struggle went on for years as Northwest tribes fought for their traditional fishing rights guaranteed in their treaties. In 1974, U.S. District Judge George Boldt affirmed the nation's obligation to honor the treaties, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Boldt five years later. "One of [Frank's] great lines is about it taking so many talents and pooling of efforts to get things done," Nicandri said. " He'll say, 'You need the policy people, the scientists -- and you need the getting- arrested guy, and I was the getting-arrested guy.’" Today, Billy Frank is chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, a coalition of salmon-treaty tribes. "So here we are today, still trying to implement the Boldt decision, still trying to implement the recovery of salmon," Frank said.
SECWEPEMEC ELDER AND YOUTH HONORED FOR ADDRESSING THE UNITED NATIONS
British Columbia: Indigenous peoples across Canada never gave up their nationhood and their right to self-determination. Recently, elder Irene Billy and Ska7cis Manuel from the Secwepemc Nation returned from Switzerland after speaking to the United Nations about Canada’s human rights records. Both lobbied to recognize indigenous rights and condemn Canada’s policies that undermine those rights. Manuel stated: “Canada is basically saying we are a domesticated peoples. However, I argue that Canada actually is totally disrupting the national unity of indigenous peoples and the territorial integrity of our lands. Canada occupies our territory.” Irene Billy herself has been arrested at Sun Peaks Ski Resort because she refused to leave her Skwelkwek’welt territory to protect it from development. “As indigenous peoples we have the right to decide what happens in our territories, and no development can happen without our prior informed consent," she said. During the discussion, they were addressed by U.N. Committee Member Rajsoomer Lallah, who said: “We know that you are people and have all those rights!”
Leaders of feuding tribes break bread together
Arizona: In an historical appearance, the leaders of two tribes with long-standing disagreements say unity is important for the future. Hopi Tribal Chairman Wayne Taylor joined Navajo leaders, including President Joe Shirley, during the 37th Annual Western Navajo Fair in Arizona. Saying that hundreds of people may have both Hopi and Navajo ancestry, Taylor and Shirley said they would shoulder any criticism for their joint appearance. But no one criticized; instead, both received cheers and applause when they showed up, on horseback, to travel the parade route together. The two tribal leaders also attended a luncheon together and later went to the 4th Annual Tuuvi Gathering in Moencopi Village. The primary source of friction has been the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute. The disagreement began in 1882 when President Chester A. Arthur issued the Executive Order giving 2,400,000 acres to the Hopi "and other such Indians as the Secretary of the Interior may see fit to settle upon.” The Navajo had interpreted the phrase "other such Indians" as including them. But the Hopi believe the phrase dies not specifically mean the Navajo. The recent meeting between Taylor and Shirley was the first time since the early 1980s that Navajo and Hopi leaders spent time together socially.
Indigenous News Digest
Land claimed signed, sealed, and delivered
Yukon: The Carcross-Tagish First Nation has become the 11th in the territory to officially sign a land claim deal. The land claim, which takes effect in January, 2006, gives the Carcross-Tagish more than 1,500 square kilometers of traditional land. The Nation will also receive close to $50,000,000 over the next 15 years. The deal comes after years of negotiations and two separate votes.
Kankuamo celebrating Corpus Christi Festival: www.lasc.ie/activities/ law/law2005.html
Tribes Seek to Return to Lost Roots
Columbia: By returning to their roots, Colombian tribes are receiving hefty government aid to preserve indigenous culture. For those on the impoverished Kankuamo reservation, their reason to save their language and culture is not about money but "survival,'" said Jaime Arias, chief of the 12,000-strong Kankuamo tribe. The Kankuamos, Koguis, Arhuacos and Wiwas live by the world's tallest coastal mountain range, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Three tribes always dwelt high in those remote snow-peaked mountains, but the Kankuamos lived lower down. Their location led to influence by outsiders such as Spanish colonials and former African slaves. By 1900, anthropologists referred to them as a mixed-race tribe. Then, in 1991, a new constitution granted indigenous peoples some autonomy, land rights, their own judicial and administrative systems, and cultural aid packages to help preserve their way of life. This prompted the Kankuamos to dress in tribal garb, revive their language and chewing coca leaves, a tribal custom dating back 5,000 years. Six years later the Kankuamos were officially recognized as an ethnic tribe -- one of 94 groups totaling 800,000 people, or about 2% of Colombia's population. Although no one is fluent in the tribe's ancient language, tribal members are compiling a dictionary based on conversations with tribal elders and books from the days of Spanish rule.
American Indian vs. Native American Which is the proper term?
"Native American" or "American Indian?" Although "Native American" is often called a more sensitive phrase, American Indians remain split on which term is preferable. A 1995 survey found that close to 50% of American Indians were perfectly happy with that label, while 37% preferred to be known as Native Americans. Those who prefer the former often do so because "Native American" sounds like a phrase created by the government. However, those who prefer Native American often think that "Indian" conjures up too many vicious stereotypes from Western serials. And, although either term works when referring to the general population, individuals often prefer to be identified according to their tribal affiliation: Cherokee, Lakota, Seminole, Hopi, etc.
Erasing "Squaw" Names Proceeds Slowly
Oregon: In 5 years, only 10 places in Oregon containing the word “squaw” have been changed, with far more to go. The word is derived from the Algonquin word for “woman” and is now considered derogatory towards American Indian woman. Under a 2001 state law, all of the 150 peaks, rivers, buttes, meadows and other land formations in Oregon containing the word were meant to be changed by 2005. But if this year's 18 recommended changes are accepted and approved, less than 20% of the names will have been changed by the law’s deadline. Oregon is the sixth state to pass a law banning the word from geographical features.
Associated Press & Local Wire
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