Youth and Education News
October 1, 2007 Issue 180 Volume 1
"My Creator, Let me live today with an open heart. Let me realize to be vulnerable is a strength, not a weakness. Let me realize the power of an open heart. Let me be available to truth. If I get into trouble, let me hear the whisper of your guidance. Let me make heart decisions and let my head catch up to that decision." Audrey Shenandoah, Onondaga
JUBILATION AS UN APPROVES INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DECLARATION
The world's Indigenous people are celebrating the UN General Assembly's approval of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. After 22 years of debate and negotiation, it was approved by a huge majority: 143 nations. Only 11 nations abstained, and 4 nations voted no: Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Among the comments:
"We would like to say that we are really very happy and thrilled to hear about the adoption of the declaration. It recognises that governments can no longer treat us as second-class citizens, and it gives protection to tribal peoples so that they will not be thrown off their lands like we were."
"With the adoption of the declaration, the lives of indigenous peoples will be improved on an equal footing with the rest of world citizens." Kiplangat Cheruiyot, Ogiek tribe, Kenya.
"The declaration on indigenous peoples, with its recognition of collective rights, will raise international standards in the same way as the universal declaration on human rights did nearly 60 years ago. It sets a benchmark by which the treatment of tribal and indigenous peoples can be judged, and we hope it will usher in an era in which abuse of their rights is no longer tolerated." Stephen Corry, Survival International.
Read the Declaration: Resolution of the Declarations of Indigenous Peoples
The Longest Walk II
California: In February, 2008, marchers will leave Alcatraz in San Francisco to walk thousands of miles to Washington, DC. The event, called The Longest Walk II, commemorates The Longest Walk of 1978. Participants are walking for peace, justice, the Seventh Generation, and the healing of Mother Earth and Native people. Friends are welcome to join in the march during any point along the trail.
Learn more: www.longestwalk.org
Interest Grows In Saving Nation's Indian Mounds
Ohio: Since the arrival of Europeans, Ohio's American Indian mounds have been vanishing. Once thought to number 5,000, there might only be 1,000 left. Few are undamaged -- most have been plundered by looters, excavated by archaeologists, or erased from memory by farmers or developers. The Archaeological Conservancy is dedicated to preserving these sites. Recently, Missouri volunteers came up with a remarkable solution: the Missouri Mound Adoption Project. MMAP gives volunteers the responsibility to be advocates for particular mounds.
Poll: Majority Support Federal Recognition of Hawaiians
Most Hawaiian residents support federal recognition of Native Hawaiians. A recent poll says 70% of residents favor the Akaka Bill, and nearly 66% belief race should not be a reason to deny federal recognition to Hawaiians. Federal recognition would give Native Hawaiians status similar to federally-recognized American Indian and Native Alaskan tribes. www.khnl.com/Global/story.asp?S=7026109
Alutiiq anthropologist honored as a MacArthur 'genius'
Alaska: Sven Haakanson, an Aleut anthropologist from Kodiak Island, has received one of the most prestigious achievement awards in America: a MacArthur Fellows. Also called a "Genius Award", the MacArthur Fellow comes with a prize of $500,000. The MacArthur Foundation calls Haakanson "the driving force behind the revitalization of indigenous language, culture and customs in an isolated region of North America." It also mentioned his artistic accomplishments as a mask carver and photographer. It was a complete surprise to Sven because the awards process is secret; most candidates don't know they are being considered. "They woke me up at 6:30 in the morning," Haakanson said. "Anybody calling you that early, you think: Is this a joke?" When he realized the caller was serious, he felt humbled, he said. "To have someone even nominate me is wonderful." Haakanson is director of Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak. Through the museum, Haakanson has led efforts to acquire and exhibit Alutiiq items scattered in collections around the world. He's also identifying a trove of petroglyphs and other stone carvings. Working with villagers, he has located 800 such carvings in recent years.
Poarch Creek woman crowned Miss Indian World
Alabama: Megan Young, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, was crowned Miss Indian World during the Gathering of Nations Powwow. Young was one of 22 contestants for the pageant. "We are pleased to have her represent Indian communities throughout the nation but especially PCI," Chairman Buford L. Rolin said. Young plans to travel extensively while she works towards a degree in human resource management.
Ancient Chewing Gum Yields DNA
Massachusetts: One day, Harvard archaeologist Steven LeBlanc was staring at drawers full of quids--wads of plant material chewed by ancient Native Americans--when he realized, "Quid ... saliva ... DNA ... DING! Since that brainstorm, LeBlanc and others have recovered DNA from 2000-year-old quidsfrom a vanished tribe called the Western Basketmakers. They lived from 500 B.C.E.- 500 C.E. in caves and rock shelters in today's Utah and Arizona. Nearly 14% of their DNA samples contained haplogroup A, which is extremely rare in the Southwest,. However, it occurs in about half of the population of Central America. This fits with the idea that Western Basketmakers migrated from central Mexico, bringing agriculture into the turf of foragers. The results were confirmed by a second laboratory.
Indian Group Blasts Meteorite Sale
Oregon: The Williamette Meteorite is sacred to the Clackamas Indians. The tribe holds an annual religious ceremony with the meteorite, named Tomanowas, in its home at the American Museum of Natural History. The meteorite -- the largest ever discovered in America -- was given in ancient times to the Clackamas people by the Sky People. Now a 30-pound chunk of the 10,000-year-old meteorite is up for auction, and the tribe is denouncing its sale. "We are deeply saddened that any individual or organization would be so insensitive to Native American spirituality and culture as to traffic in the sale of a sacred and historic artifact," said Siobahn Taylor of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Darryl Pitt, who is selling the chunk, recognizes the Grand Ronde's concerns. "While I regret the Grand Ronde has taken offense, the bottom line is that a portion of the meteorite is simply changing hands," he said. Tomanowas was discovered in 1902 in the Willamette Valley by an Oregon miner who removed it from the land. Today, the small chunk of the meteor will be auctioned at Bonhams Auction House in NYC on October 28. Its pre-sale estimate is between $1,100,000 - $1,300,000.
Discovery could bring Peru's 'cloud warriors' to earth
Peru: A massive ruin offers fresh clues about Peru's vanished Chachapoya, the "cloud warriors." "I was shown to what seems likely the biggest free-standing Chachapoya structure in the world, and just about in the last place I would ever expect it," says archaeologist Keith Muscutt. The Chachapoya (cha-cha-POY-ah) once ruled the northern Andes and built mountainous cliffside tombs they filled with bundled mummies. The newly discovered structure was nicknamed "Huaca la Penitenciaria de la Meseta" (The Penitentiary). Its largest platform is 24 feet high, 200 feet long and 100 feet wide. Atop it are the remains of small homes or ceremonial buildings. A second building, 30 by 60 feet, holds the apparent remains of a lookout tower. Below, a plaza, about 200 feet wide and 300 feet long, rests on 12-foot-high walls. Muscutt is working with The Discovery Channel for a featured program for the series, Chasing Mummies, planned for next year.
Dig Casts New Light on Indian Culture
Virginia: When archaeologists found remnants of Werowocomoco, Powhatan's capital city, what they began to unearth was unlike anything they had seen in the region. About 1,000 feet from the river, they found what had been a long, straight ditch. The ditch was so perfectly constructed they figured it was dug by colonists with sophisticated metal tools and axes. But the team found only native artifacts. Then radiocarbon testing showed that the ditch was built in the 13th century, 400 years before Powhatan. More ditches were found. Archaeologist Martin Gallivan thinks the ditches might be monuments, separating the sacred part of the city, where Powhatan lived, from citizens who went about the business of daily life. "The landscape was intentionally structured to reflect the power of the place," Gallivan said. Now they wonder if Powhatan chose to make Werowocomoco his capital once he became paramount chief of over 30 tribes. "This shows that Powhatan was a remarkable politician," said archaeologist Randy Turner. "... And if our hypothesis is correct, he was using the sacred nature of this place to further validate his status not only as a political and military leader, but a spiritual and religious one."
Wereowocomoco Project: http://powhatan.wm.edu
Lost tribe says their culture is still alive
Texas: Thousands of years before European invasion, strong men and women fished the waters, hunted game and walked the forests of Louisiana and Texas. They were the Atakapas, who historians claim vanished in the early 1900s. But their ancestors say the Atakapan culture is alive and well and want their name off the federal government's extinct cultures list. "It will give us our identity back and we can do things for our people and bring back our culture and heritage," said Chief Michael Amos of the Atakapa-Ishak Nation. The Atakapa-Ishak Nation has about 400 active participants who are reviving their language and talking about museums in Texas and Louisiana. They have also filed a letter of intent to become federally recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. "They may say we're extinct, but that's not true," Amos said. "How could people just vanish from the face of the Earth? Think about it. It doesn't make sense."
Language Revitalization's "Race Against Time" Goes High-Tech
The Indigenous Language Institute focuses on revitalizing Native languages. They provide easy-to-use computer technology, work with Native communities and organizations, and raise awareness of the importance of keeping languages alive. ILI teams visited 52 native language programs around the country and found both success stories and challenges. Today, they are rebuilding these languages with help from elders and by transforming oral traditions into the written word.
New Alaska Native language dictionary has been published
Alaska: The "Dena'ina Topical Dictionary has been published by The Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The new Athabascan dictionary is the most complete topical dictionary for any of the 20 Alaska Native languages. Dena'ina is also known as Tanaina and is a language spoken by Alaska's Athabascan Indians.
N.B. woman recording elders speaking Maliseet for posterity
New Brunswick: Imelda Perley has devoted her life to connecting Maliseet people to their culture. Her new Internet project is capturing the voices of elders and others who speak Maliseet as their first language and making it available for youth. "[The Malisett Language] been taught in schools in the community, but it's been taught as a subject and not something you can carry," she said. "I'm really worried that it's going to become extinct."
Learn more form Ms. Perley: http://www.indigenousgeography.si.edu/community.asp?commID=219&lang=eng
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