Youth and Education News
September 1, 2006 Issue 171 Volume 4
""Popular culture seems to represent Native Americans as these mythical beings of the past, and the Heritage month activities are trying to break down those stereotypes. People should know that we aren't a monolithic group of people. We are comedians, authors, singers, and our cultures are very much alive today." Nickole Fox
Fry bread: two sides of a powwow staple
Maryland: Fry bread is a simple comfort food with a complicated past. Fry Bread is a staple powwows where several vendors offer the food. "It's become an icon," said George P. Horse Capture, a retired adviser at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Frybread is a basic dough usually made from flour, water and a leavening agent (yeast or baking powder.) The dough is rolled into balls and stretched out on flat, greased surfaces. A hole is often poked in the center, then the dough is dropped into a deep cast-iron skillet of hot vegetable oil. (The hole allows the top of the bread to cook at the same time as the bottom.) Some say frybread is a gift. Horse-Capture wrote that fry bread is a divine gift in exchange for the hardships faced by native people. But others remind us that the deep-fry bread, created from government food rations at impoverished reservations, contributes to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes among native people. "Fry bread is emblematic of the long trails from home and freedom to confinement and rations. It's the connecting dot between healthy children and obesity, hypertension, diabetes, dialysis, blindness, amputations and slow death," wrote Suzan Shown Harjo from Indian Country Today newspaper. But Fernando Divina, a man who spent ten years researching Native foods, says frybread is like all food: best enjoyed in moderation. "It could be a lovely adjunct and one that shouldn't go away. It's something that should be celebrated," he said. Frybread has grown beyond the festival food. It's South Dakota's official state bread . The Cheesecake Factory restaurant offers a Navajo sandwich on warm fry bread. Frybread is used for Indian tacos ( ground beef, lettuce and tomato,) Some serve it at powwows with powdered sugar or pie filling.
Fry Bread Recipe
Ancient war paint in fight against breast cancer
Italy: A study by Stefania Galletti and her team at the University of Bologna shares exciting news about the fight against breast cancer. A plant that gave ancient Britons and Celts their blue war paint is a rich source of glucobrassicin. The blue war paint is obtained from Woad. Woad contains 20 times more cancer-fighting glucobrassicin than its relative, broccoli. Researchers found that woad leaves, when damaged by insects, release glucobrassicin that can kill some plant pests. It also appears to have anti-tumoral properties. Glucobrassicin, the study shows, is highly effective in flushing out cancer-causing chemicals, including some forms of estrogen. Women with higher levels of this estrogen hormone have more risk of developing breast cancer.
Stained-glass windows help artists, viewers connect with faith
Vermont: Debora Coombs is a British-born stained-glass artist and was commissioned to create more than 1,000 feet of stained-glass art for St. Mary Cathedral in Portland, Ore. Those depicted on the window include the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Kateri, a Mohawk who converted to Catholicism in the mid 1670s, devoted her life to her new religion. To learn more about Blessed Kateri, Coombs attended two Native American conferences where she asked participants for advice. It was an elderly Sioux man who gave her the profound advice that had a deep impact on her life: "You pray," he said. When Coombs asked him how to pray, he answered, "... pray the Indian way. You give thanks." From that day on she woke up every day and gave thanks for everything she had: her husband, children, hands, eyes, intelligence, opportunities, sunshine. "If you spend time thanking God for what you have, the thankfulness vastly outweighs the difficulties," she said. In 1980 - Kateri Tekakwitha was beatified by Pope John Paul II. In 2002, she was patroness of World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada. Many are hoping Kateri will be declared a Saint sometime in the future.
Enlarged photo and more information: : Portrait of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha by Debora Coombs
Guinness World Record Holder Encourages Native Youth To Pursue Dream
Oklahoma: Brian Jackson, Cherokee/Seminole/Creek, is in the Guinness Book of World Records for blowing up four hot water bottles in four minutes and 28 seconds. Last April at Tahlequah High School, he also broke a world record by blowing up one hot water bottle in 51.98 seconds. If you don't think that's such a big deal, think again -- it takes 170 pounds of pressure per square inch to blow just one up! Now a motivational speaker, Jackson has quite a story to tell. "I almost went to prison because of drugs and alcohol," said the single father of two daughters. "Kids think there's no hope. but just because you've abused alcohol and drugs, doesn't mean it's the end of your life." Jackson created the "I Believe" program in 1992 and has presented it to more than 1,000,000 people at schools, churches, camps, rallies and community events.
I Believe Program: http://www.ibelieveguy.com/
American Indian students focus on nutrition in USDA research
North Dakota: Six American Indian students from the University of Arizona and United Tribes Technical College spent their summer at the University of North Dakota . The students served as interns in the federally funded Human Nutrition Research Center. Along with scientists, students studied:
Native American exercise and eating habits;
Nutritional values of traditional American Indian foods like cattails and milkweed soup;
Vitamin and mineral consumption;
Government food programs;
Chronic health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Ivy Thunderhawk, a United Tribes student, monitored the physical activity and food habits of 10 volunteers. "I want to educate more Native Americans on the effects that exercise and the foods they eat have on their health," Thunderhawk said. "This program gets you thinking about your career and looking into the different opportunities you may have." Sheena Curtis, a UA student, is hoping to open a laboratory in a building once used as a tribal hospital in Arizona. "That's where my roots are. That's where my family is. That's where I come from," she said. "I want to be a role model for future Indian women to get their independence." The Human Nutrition Research Center is the only one of it's kind in the country. "What the agency would like to do is increase the number of bright American Indians that we hire," said one scientist. "We're establishing the presence that would allow them to consider career possibilities."
Blueberries equal big business in Maine
Maine: For generations, Micmac and Passamaquoddy Indians have harvested blueberries in the hot August sun. As many as 1,000 workers - including about 200 Passamaquoddy, many more Micmac, and a smattering of locals - gather in the so-called blueberry barrens to rake. The rakes - which resemble large dustpans with long teeth -are swept through the plants and gently pulled up, separating the berries from the greenery. Weeds and debris also catch at the rakes, and considerable skill and strength are needed to move swiftly. The work is brutal, but while machines are used in most of Maine's wild blueberry harvest, the two tribes vow never to replace its human rakers with machines. ''I've been raking probably for 40 years,'' said Mary Francis, a Micmac from Eskasoni, Nova Scotia. ''I like it here. I grew up here. My parents brought me here when I was a baby. I brought my children. Now my grandchildren.'' In 1980, the Passamaquoddy bought the 1,800-acre Northeastern Blueberry Company 200 miles south of Portland. This year the company has harvested 3,200,0000 pounds in less than two weeks, bringing $500,000 into the Passamaquoddy's two reservations where poverty is common and unemployment reaches 50%.
Photo: Blueberry camp, 1947
An ancient craft woven onto Web
Oregon: The native people of North America who wove reed and willow into baskets weren't just making the tools of everyday life -- they were writing a history. To help preserve that history, members from the Columbia Basin Basketry Guild recently visited the University of Oregon to go over more than 1,500 baskets collected by school's Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Most baskets are from the 18th and 19th centuries when they became more important as decorative items traded for money after tribal life collapsed due to white invasion. "We've seen some real gems," said Lynn Beard. She said many baskets were often repaired and handed down through the generations. Some were so cherished that their owners would not trade them to Lewis and Clark when the explorers encountered Western tribes. The baskets will be eventually be displayed in a digital artifact library available online for all to see.
Image: adapted from source below
Houma tribe's recovery featured in documentary
Louisiana: A new documentary shares the emotional stories of how Houma Indians dealt with the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Through a series of interviews, "Bayou Landfall: The Houma Nation vs. the Hurricanes" tells how the 16,000-member Untied Houma Nation bonded together to start rebuilding their homes and community. "It's exceptional," said Brenda Dardar Robichaux, United Houma Nation principal chief, about the film. "It's filled with very touching stories. Some tribal members lost everything. With the music and photos it's touching. I got teary eyed while watching it." In the New Orleans area, 4,000 UHN members suffered losses from Katrina; another 4,000 were affected by Rita in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. It's hoped "Bayou Landfall: The Houma Nation vs. the Hurricanes" will spread awareness of the plight of the Houma Nation who were barely mentioned in the media's hurricane coverage. "People watching it had no idea about this tribe," said Leslye Abbey who produced the documentary. "It's a small tribe, and people had never heard of their story." "Bayou Landfall: The Houma Nation vs. the Hurricanes" was shown at the Long Island International Film Expo July 13. It received the festival's humanitarian award.
United Houma Nation slide shows of Hurricane Katrina and Rita: http://www.unitedhoumanation.org/Katrina.htm
buffy Sainte-Marie's censored sounds
Arizona: Almost 20 years ago, Cree singer and songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie released her song, ''Universal Soldier.'' But shipments of her records mysteriously disappeared. Sainte-Marie claimed she was and other American Indians in the Red Power movements were blacklisted by the United States in the 1970s. ''I found out 10 years later, in the 1980s, that [President] Lyndon Johnson had been writing letters on White House stationary praising radio stations for suppressing my music,'' Sainte-Marie said in 1999. ''In the 1970s, not only was the protest movement put out of business, but the Native American movement was attacked.'' Now, in federal court, Charles August Schlund III, a previous covert operative for the United states, supports Sainte-Marie's assertions. In his federal court affidavit, Schlund said he has knowledge of ''the detailed plans for the break-up and destruction of rock n' roll music including the assassinations of many people to achieve their goals." Sainte-Marie said Native people were put out of business for succeeding in Indian country and in the broader community. ''I was just one person put out of business. John Trudell is ... another person whose life was put out of business. Anna Mae Aquash and Leonard Peltier were put out of the living business -- we were made ineffective,'' Sainte-Marie said of slain American Indian Movement activist Aquash and imprisoned Peltier. Sainte-Marie later became a familiar face on ''Sesame Street" and in the 1990s created the Cradleboard Teaching Project to link American Indian students with other students online around the world.
American Indians challenge NFL team’s use of mascot
Oklahoma: American Indians have filed a new legal challenge to the Washington Redskins’ trademark. A petition submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington states that the Redskins trademark should be canceled because it is a “pejorative, derogatory, denigrating, offensive, scandalous, contemptuous, disreputable, disparaging and racist designation for a Native American person." Bob Raskopf, attorney for the NFL and the Washington team, did not comment. [Note: It is the policy at The Kansas City Star not to use the word “Redskins.” An exception was made in this instance.]
Rabbit and Bear Paws
Ontario: Chad Solomon, a member of the Ojibway First Nation, is the creator of the humorous comic strip called "Rabbit and Bear Paws." Published by Little Spirit Bear Productions, Rabbit and Bear Paws is created and drawn with the guidance of community elders in collaboration with writer Christopher Meyer. The first series of comic strips are based upon the teachings of The Seven Grandfathers. As more strips are published, Rabbit and Bear Paws is rapidly gaining fans for its vibrant and entertaining images of Native traditions and oral history. The grandson of Native traditional healer and justice activist Art Solomon, Chad learned from his grandfather, "no matter how old I become, I should always be young-at-heart and that laughter is the greatest medicine."
Rabbit and Bear Paws strip: http://www.nativevillage.org/Messages%20from%20the%20People/rabbit_and_bear_paws.htm
Rabbit and Bear Paws website: http//www.rabbitandbearpaws.com
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