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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Breakthrough: US Senate Confirms First-Ever Native American Woman As Federal Judge

Last Wednesday, the US Senate quietly confirmed Diane Humetewa as the first-ever Native American man federal judge.

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Breakthrough: US Senate Confirms First-Ever Native American Woman As Federal Judge

Sunday, September 20, 2015


I remember learning about Ishi in primary school. I remember crying and feeling devastated. It was the beginning of my learning the horrifying truth of what happened to my race. I was never able to escape the thoughts of the decimation of my race after learning about Ishi. I was to be haunted for decades to come and didn't know it. I didn't understand what was happening to me. The slaughter of my race became a fuel that lit a fire in me that would take me decades to control.
It took me decades to work through the pain of the public's mass apathy. The temporary "white guilt" people felt about what happen to my race, gave me a sense of power. It was all false. White guilt is not my power, it was my spirit's sickness tricking me.

Truthfully, I trusted those who felt guilty and gravitated towards them. I believed they understood my pain. The problem always became, non-native people didn't want to hear about the horror and would shut themselves off to it. I felt traumatized all over again. I wasn't able to turn anything off. Finally, I realized I needed to grow.
I am not to feel pleasure about another one's pain or guilt.
Thus began my journey to find my voice. A soft, truthful voice to bridge the gap between the unknowing and the knowing, and sometimes I am the unknowing. I am a student and a teacher.
I believed and still do, the key to protecting the remnants of our culture is to educate non-Indigenous people the truth of our experience. It is the very reason I encourage dialogue on my page. The minute we unite, the stronger we are as a collective voice.

Last of the Yahi tribe
Born: 1860?
In August 1911, a silent “wild man” was found walking down from the northeastern California hills. He was brought to the local sheriff, and a member of the nearby Yana Indians determined that he belonged to the Yahi tribe, a branch of the Yanas. He was called “Ishi,” which means “man” in Yahi. His real name was never known—it was a Yahi tradition that a person's name not be revealed casually.
Three years earlier, a power company survey party had come upon an encampment with four people. Three of them fled, one of whom was Ishi, and the surveyors raided the settlement, stealing food and supplies, and then left an old woman who had been unable to flee. Evidence pointed that Ishi was the last surviving member of the Yahi, a tribe that may have had as many as 20,000 people in the previous century.
Ishi was taken in by Alfred Kroeber and Thomas Waterman, two anthropologists at the University of California, who learned to communicate with him and eagerly extracted the details of Yahi life, language, and culture from him. Ishi lived at the university's San Francisco anthropology museum and gave demonstrations of his tribal crafts. Ishi's entrance into the “civilized” world was also the cause of his death, as he contracted tuberculosis and died in 1916.

How Dogs Came To The Indians

An Ojibwa story

Two Ojibwa Indians in a canoe had been blown far from shore by a great wind. They had gone far and were hungry and lost. They had little strength left to paddle, so they drifted before the wind.

At last their canoe was blown onto a beach and they were glad, but not for long. Looking for the tracks of animals, they saw some huge footprints that they knew must be those of a giant. They were afraid and hid in the bushes. As they crouched low, a big arrow thudded into the ground close beside them. Then a huge giant came toward them. A caribou hung from his belt, but the man was so big that it looked like a rabbit. He told them that he did not hurt people and he like to be a friend to little people, who seemed to the giant to be so helpless. He asked the two lost Indians to come home with him, and since they had no food and their weapons had been lost in the storm at sea, they were glad to go with him.

An evil Windigo spirit came to the lodge of the giant and told the two men that the giant had other men hidden away in the forest because he like to eat them. The Windigo pretended to be a friend, but he was the one who wanted the men because he was an eater of people. The Windigo became very angry when the giant would not give him the two men, and finally the giant became angry too. He took a big stick and turned over a big bowl with it.

A strange animal which the Indians had never seen before lay on the floor, looking up at them. It looked like a wolf to them, but the giant called the animal 'Dog.' The giant told him to kill the evil Windigo spirit. The beast sprang to its feet, shook himself, and started to grow, and grow, and grow. The more he shook himself, the more he grew and the fiercer he became. He sprang at the Windigo and killed him; then the dog grew smaller and smaller and crept under the bowl.

The giant saw that the Indians were much surprised and pleased with Dog and said that he would give it to them, though it was his pet. He told the men that he would command Dog to take them home. They had no idea how this could be done, though they had seen that the giant was a maker of magic, but they thanked the friendly giant for his great gift.

The giant took the men and the dog to the seashore and gave the dog a command. At once it began to grow bigger and bigger, until it was nearly as big as a horse. The giant put the two men onto the back of the dog and told them to hold on very tightly. As Dog ran into the sea, he grew still bigger and when the water was deep enough he started to swim strongly away from the shore.

After a very long time, the two Ojibwa began to see a part of the seacoast that they knew, and soon the dog headed for shore. As he neared the beach, he became smaller and smaller so that the Indians had to swim for the last part of their journey. The dog left them close to their lodges and disappeared into the forest. When the men told their tribe of their adventure, the people though that the men were speaking falsely. "Show us even the little mystery animal, Dog, and we shall believe you," a chief said.

A few moons came and went and then, one morning while the tribe slept, the dog returned to the two men. It allowed them to pet it and took food from their hands. The tribe was very much surprised to see this new creature. It stayed with the tribe.

That, as the Indians tell, was how the first dog came to the earth.

Origin of Dolphins


According to legend, Chumash who fell into the ocean while crossing the rainbow to the mainland were turned into dolphins.
Channel Islands National Park Hutash, the Earth Mother, created the first Chumash people on the island of Limuw, now known as Santa Cruz Island. They were made from the seeds of a Magic Plant.

Hutash was married to the Alchupo’osh, Sky Snake, the Milky Way, who could make lightning bolts with his tongue. One day he decided to make a gift to the Chumash people. He sent down a bolt of lightning that started a fire. After this, people kept fires burning so that they could keep warm and cook their food.

In those days, the Condor was a white bird. The Condor was very curious about the fire he saw burning in the Chumash village. He wanted to find out what it was. He flew very low over the fire to get a better look, but he flew too close; he got his feathers scorched, and they turned black. Now the Condor is a black bird, with just a little white left under the wings where they did not get burned.

After Alchupo’osh gave them fire, the Chumash people lived more comfortably. More people were born each year and their villages got bigger and bigger. Limuw was getting crowded. And the noise people made was starting to annoy Hutash. It kept her awake at night. So, finally, she decided that some of the Chumash people had to move off the island. They would have to go to the mainland, where there weren’t any people living in those days.

But how were the people going to get across the water to the mainland? Finally, Hutash had the idea of making a bridge out of a wishtoyo (rainbow). She made a very long, very high rainbow that stretched from the tallest mountain on Limuw all the way to Tzchimoos, the tall mountain near Mishopshno (Carpinteria).

Hutash told the people to go across the rainbow bridge and to fill the whole world with people. So the Chumash people started to go across the bridge. Some of them got across safely, but some people made the mistake of looking down. It was a long way down to the water, and the fog was swirling around. They became so dizzy that some of them fell off the rainbow bridge, down through the fog, into the ocean. Hutash felt very badly about this because she told them to cross the bridge. She did not want them to drown. To save them, she turned them into dolphins. Now the Chumash call the dolphins their brothers and sisters.

Excerpted from:
The Chumash People: Materials for Teachers and Students. Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 1991.

Story in English and Cree


Story in English and Cree
Mrs. Philomene Corrigal
Canoe Lake First Nation
Cree (Nêhiyawêwin)


1. "The story I am about to tell you happened one time when I, my mother and other family members had been out on a hunting trip. The hunt was successful at that time. It happened by a lake where many treelined islands could be seen.
1. ôma âcimowin kâ-wî-âcimostâtân ê-kî-ispayik; pêyakwâw êkospî, niya, nikâwiy, nohtâwiy mîna nîcisânak ê-mâci-piciyâhk. kî-miyopayiwak êkospî omâcîwak sisonê sâkahikanihk ita ê-ministikoskâk.
2. We were on our way home when we caught sight of some pelicans. This was one of their favorite locations in the area. At the edge of the island where the pelicans had gathered, it was well packed down from use by other animals and birds. The beautiful birds were easily visible as they were silhouetted against the dark green background of the island's treeline. Without really thinking about what he was doing, my uncle began to shoot at them. Being an excellent marksman, he easily hit five of the pelicans killing them instantly.
2. ê-pimi-kîwêyâhk êkwa kâ-wâpamâyâhkik cahcâkiwak pêyakwayak mâna ita ohcitaw ê-tasihkêcik. sisonê ministikohk êkota ôki cahcâkiwak asiyatowak. mitoni kistatahamwak nanâtohk pîyêsîsak mîna kotakak pisiskiwak. katawasisiwak anihi cahcâkiwak ê- asicinâkosicik ministikohk. namôya ahpô mâh-mâmitonêyihtam tânisi ê-itôtahk nohcâwîs, kâ-mâci-pâh-pâskiswât anihi cahcâkiwa. êyikohk ê-nahâskwêt, sêmâk niyânan nipahêw êkota cahcâkiwa anihi.
3. Surprised by my uncle's actions, my mother turned to him and using a firm voice, told him that he had tampered with the law of nature. Needlessly killing pelicans she said, would bring the wind to answer this desecration.
3. koskohik nohcâwîsa awa nikâwiy ê-misi-kanawâpamât. "kwanita ê-mikoskâcihât pîkwac-âya," itwêw. "kwanita êkos îsi kâ-nipahacik cahcâkiwak, âhci ta-misi-yôtin," itêw.
4. Later that afternoon, we could see the clouds gathering in the distance to the west. By time evening arrived, and we were on our way home, the wind really began to blow. At one point, a window of a nearby cabin was blown right off from its casing. Standing trees were blown over by the force of the wind, spread over the ground like a roughly woven blanket. This intense wind also brought rain.
4.ê-akwâci-pôni-âpihtâ-kîsikâk pê-nôkwan ê-pê-misi-yîkwaskwahk pahkisimôtâhk. ispî êkwa ê-otâkosik ê-pimi-kîwêyâhk. âsay êkwa kâ-mâci-yôtihk. pêyakwayak wâsênamân wayawîyâstan wâskahikanisihk ohci. sôskwâc mistikwak ê-kâh-kawâsicik nanâtohk ê-itâskosihkik tâskôc ê-nâh-nâtohkokwâtêk akohp. êkwa mîna êyikohk ê- kimiwahk.
5. We rushed into the house and began to board up the windows with canvas frames. Rain pelted against the house and seeped in from the under the door. During the night, after we had already gone to bed, my father had to leap from his bed to grab a white canvas board so he could nail it quickly against another window blown apart by the continuing fury of the wind. By now, we all awoke to help my father to brace the other windows with yet more canvas frames.
5. nipihtokwêyâmonân wâskahikanihk êkwa ê-mâci-kâh-kiposakahamâhk wâsênamâna apahkwâsonêkin ohci. misi-kimiwan, kwanita kâ-pihtokwêciwahk nipiy sîpâ iskwâhtêmihk ohci. ê-kî-kawisimoyâhk êkwa âsay kêtahtawê nohtâwiy kâ-waniskâpahtât ê-nawacipitahk kotaka pahkwâsonêkin ê-akosakahahk kotakihk wâsênamânihk ê- yohtêyâstaniyik. kahkiyaw êkwa mîna ê-waniskâyâhk ê-wîcihâyâhk ta-sa-sîhtawipitahk kotaka wâsênamâna.
6. When morning arrived the whole area adjacent to our cabin was covered with a thick blanket of grass, sticks, leaves and branches.
6. ê-wâpahk êkwa sôskwâc misiwê cîki wâsakâm ê-pimastêki maskosiya, mistikwa, nîpiya êkwa watihkwana.
7. That was how strong the wind blew
7. êkosi anima êyikohk ê-kî-isi-misi-yôtihk. êyikohk ê-kî-sohkiyôwêk mâna êkospî.
Artist: Artist Dave Kessler
Pelican painted by Artist Dave Kessler, Sculptor unknown.

The first Native American woman to earn a degree from the University of Oxford

Kelsey Leonard

Kelsey Leonard is the first Native American woman to earn a degree from the University of Oxford, which she earned in 2012. She earned a MSc in Water Science.
A newly-graduated student is “proud” to have become the first Native American woman to receive a degree from the University of Oxford.
Kelsey Leonard, a student at St Cross College, graduated on 22nd September after completing a two-year MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management.
She is a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a Native American tribe, whose reservation is located near Southampton in New York State. Leonard was “surprised” when she learned of her historic achievement, calling “the whole thing a bit surreal”.
She said that her time at Oxford was a “unique experience,” which she “really enjoyed, particularly meeting graduate students from around the world and being taught by a faculty at the cutting edge of research in environmental science.”

Friday, September 18, 2015

Did you know?

Grasshoppers are disliked in agricultural societies all over the world because fluctuations in their population can cause huge swarms of them to wipe out farmers' crops. This is also true in North America, and in the folklore of tribes that rely more heavily on agriculture, grasshoppers are often portrayed with all manner of character flaws such as greed, carelessness, un-trustworthiness, etc. They are also associated with bad luck and discord, and in the Hopi tribe, they are sometimes said to bite the noses of children who disobey elders or violate taboos.
On the other hand, tribes who primarily made their living as hunter-gatherers were rarely bothered by grasshoppers, and the insects do not have these negative connotations in their traditional stories. In some tribes, it was said that grasshoppers could predict the weather and even had power over changes in the weather (especially drought and rain.) And in Mexico, grasshoppers sometimes make an appearance in legends as... food! (Roasted crickets and grasshoppers were a traditional delicacy in many Mexican tribes, and are still enjoyed by some people there today.)

Outdoor portrait of a Menominee Indian man and two Menominee Indian women. He holds a decorated ceremonial pipe in his right hand.

Grasshopper and the Origin of Tobacco
One day Manabush was walking past a high mountain when he smelled a delightful fragrance which seemed to be coming from a crevice in the cliffs. He went closer and found that the mountain was home to a Giant who was known to be the keeper of tobacco. Manabush found a cavern in the side of the mountain and went inside, following a passage which led into the center of the mountain where the Giant lived. The Giant asked Manabush very sternly what he wanted. Manabush answered that he had come for some tobacco, but the Giant told him that the spirits had just been there for their smoke. Since the ceremony only happened once a year, the Giant told Manabush to come back in a year. Manabush found this difficult to believe, because when he looked around the Giant's cavern, he saw bags and bags of tobacco all around it. So he snatched one of the bags and dashed out of the mountain, closely pursued by the Giant. Manabush reached the top of the mountain and leaped from peak to peak. The Giant followed him closely, and when Manabush reached the edge of a cliff, he fell down flat and the Giant leaped over him and fell over the cliff and into the chasm.
The Giant was badly bruised, but managed to climb up the face of the cliff, where he hung at the top with all of his fingernails torn off. Then Manabush grabbed the giant by the back and threw him to the ground and said, "For your stinginess, you will become the Grasshopper, and everyone will know you by your stained mouth. You will become a pest and bother all those who raise tobacco."
Then Manabush took the tobacco home and divided it among the people and gave them the seed so they could grow it themselves and use it for offerings and blessings.
(Adapted from W.J. Hoffman, 1890, "Mythology of the Menomini Indians," American Anthropologist 3[3]:243-58.)

How Gluskabe Stole Tobacco

Long ago, Gluskabe and his Grandmother Woodchuck, lived alone in a small lodge near the water. One day his Grandmother said to him, "My Grandchild, it is sad that we have no tobacco." "What is tobacco, Grandmother?" Gluskabe asked.
"Ah, Grandson, tobacco is a great gift from Tabaldak, our Maker. If you are sick, you need only tobacco out in the woods, and you will find the medicine plants. Then, when you place some tobacco on the Earth, you can pluck those plants from the root and use them. Tobacco is a great comfort to the old. They can smoke it in their pipes and see all the happy days of their lives in the smoke as it lifts up. When you pray and burn tobacco, that smoke carries your prayer straight up to our Maker. Tobacco is a very good thing indeed, when it is used as Tabaldak intended."
"Then we should have tobacco," Gluskabe said. "Where can I find it, Grandmother?"
"Ah, Grandson," Grandmother Woodchuck said, "it is not easy to get tobacco. It is on a big island far out in the water. A person with great magic lives there. He raises tobacco and will not share it because of selfishness. He is very dangerous. Those who go to steal tobacco never return."
"Huunh!" Gluskabe said. "I will go and get tobacco, and I will share it with everyone."
Then Gluskabe went to the edge of the water. There was a hollow log there, and Gluskabe shaped it into a canoe. He put it in the water.
"Now," he said, "let me see if this canoe will go."

He pushed it with his foot, and the hollow log canoe shot out across the water. It went one whole look, as far as a person can see.
"This canoe is not fast enough," Gluskabe said.
The Gluskabe took a big white birch tree. He stripped off the bark and fashioned it into a canoe and put it in the water.
"Now," he said, "let me see if this canoe will go."
He pushed it with his foot, and the birch bark canoe went very swiftly over the water. It went two looks, but Gluskabe was not satisfied.
"This canoe is not fast enough," he said.
Then Gluskabe fashioned a boat with ribs of cedar and the skin of a moose. He put it into the water and pushed it out and it went three looks. But Gluskabe was not happy with the moose hide canoe.
"This canoe," he said, " is not fast enough."
Gluskabe looked around. There at the edge of the water was a great white boulder. Gluskabe turned it over, shaped it into a canoe and put it into the water.
"Now," he said, "let me see if this canoe will go."
He pushed it with his foot, and it shot out across the water with Gluskabe inside. It went four looks almost as quickly as one could think, leaving a great white wave behind it. Gluskabe was very pleased.
"Now I can go and get tobacco."
He went back into the lodge. "Grandmother," he said, "I am going now to steal tobacco. But first you must tell me the name of my enemy, the magician who will not share the tobacco."
Grandmother Woodchuck shook her head. "Who will hunt for me and bring me wood for my fire and water for my cooking if Grasshopper kills you? No, Gluskabe, I cannot tell you his name."
Gluskabe laughed. "Oleoneh[1], Grandmother," he said. "When I return, you will be the first one to smoke tobacco in your pipe."
Then Gluskabe climbed into his white stone canoe. He pushed off from the shore, and the canoe shot over the waves towards the island of the magician, Grasshopper. As the canoe sped along, Gluskabe sang:
Grasshopper, you are going to travel,
Grasshopper, you are going to travel,
You must leave your home now,
Grasshopper, you are going to travel.
He sang his song four times. By the time he was finished, he had reached the island, and, sure enough, just as he had wished in his song, Grasshopper was not there. The cooking pot was still on the fire, and the beautiful clay pipe decorated with bright stones was beside the fire, with smoke still rising from the bowl, but the magician was nowhere to be seen. Gluskabe picked up the pipe.
"Grasshopper," he said, "you are not going to need this anymore." Then he placed the pipe in his own pouch. Inside the lodge on many racks, tobacco bundles were drying. Gluskabe took them all and placed them in his canoe. He took all of the tobacco and did not leave a single seed. All around the fields were the bones of those who had come to steal tobacco and were killed by Grasshopper. Gluskabe gathered all the bones together and then shouted.
"Get up!" Gluskabe yelled. "Your enemy is coming back." Then all of the bones came back together, and all of the people came back to life. They were very happy, even though some of them had been in such a hurry to return to life that they had gotten the wrong bones. Some of them had legs or arms that were too short or too long. The old people say that is why there are crippled people today. Gluskabe shared the tobacco among them. He mended their boats, which had been broken by Grasshopper, and sent them back to their homes.
"Tobacco is for everyone." he said. "You must always share it and give it freely or it will not do you good."
Then Gluskabe climbed back into his white stone canoe. He pushed it with his foot, and it flew back across the waves to the place where his Grandmother Woodchuck waited.
"Grandmother," he said, "I have brought tobacco. Never again will it be scarce."
Grandmother Woodchuck was very happy. She filled her pipe with the tobacco and smoked it and gave thanks to Tabaldak. She began to sing a song in praise of her Grandson, Gluskabe. But as she sang, the magician, Grasshopper, came. He came across the sky in a magical canoe.
"YOU!" he shouted in a loud and terrible voice. "You have stolen my tobacco!"
"That is not so," Gluskabe said. "It was not right for you to keep it all to yourself. Now my children and my children's children will have tobacco to enjoy." Then he rubbed Grasshopper between his hands, and Grasshopper became very small.
"Please," Grasshopper said in a small voice, "give me seeds so I can grow tobacco for myself."
But Gluskabe shook his head. "No longer can you be trusted to grow tobacco. That will be the job of my children and of my children's children. But since you were the first to grow tobacco, I will give you enough to enjoy in your lifetime. Open your mouth."
Grasshopper opened his mouth and Gluskabe filled it with tobacco. Grasshopper was pleased, but he spoke again. "Give me back my canoe so that I can fly across the sky."

But Gluskabe shook his head. "It is not right for you to have such a magical canoe. I will split the back of your coat and give you wings. Now you will be able to fly on your own, but you will no longer be able to frighten the people."
So it is that to this day tobacco is used by the children of Gluskabe and their children's children, and when they use it as Tabaldak intended, always giving it freely to others, it does them no harm. As for Grasshopper, he flies about with the wings Gluskabe gave him and chews his mouthful of tobacco which will last all his life. And he remembers the lesson taught to him by Gluskabe. If you ever pick up any grasshopper it will immediately spit out its tobacco as if to say, "See, I am willing to share."
1"Oleoneh"= This is the Abenaki word for "thank you," spelled woliwoni in the modern Abenaki spelling system.