( – promoted by navajo)
We met on August 2, 2007 in Chicago at the YearlyKos Convention. Last year I had about 6 people attend, this year there were 14. That’s more than a hundred percent increase IMO. ;)
We started by going around the room and telling our background. I will re-tell mine and then I have asked all the participants to please post all their comments at the caucus here in this blog.
My background below:
My mother is a product of the U.S. Government boarding school system.
My mother was forcefully taken away to a boarding school in Tuba City, Arizona in the late 1930s at the approximate age of 5 or 6. She was one of ten siblings on the Navajo reservation. Five children were hidden in the canyon and the other five were given up to the government.
My mother always recalls this episode with pain and tears. She describes her mother sobbing as she watched her tiny children having their hair cut off, the tiny rolls of hair left at her feet and riding away in the back of a pickup truck. My mother did not stop crying for weeks. They were dusted with lice powder and she resented this because she insists that they were clean, “we were not dirty animals, we were clean!” She said they were not allowed to speak Navajo and they were punished if they did. Her sister Zonnie died at the school, crushed and trampled in a crowd. My grandfather missed his children so much that he would ride his horse the 60 miles to visit them.
The other half of the children were hidden in Inscription House canyon. These kids never went to school nor learned English. They all stayed on the reservation and lived in the traditional manner; in hogans, no electricity nor running water. They tended herds of sheep and goats. They grew corn, squash and melons. They wove rugs and baskets to make a living.
The siblings that went to boarding school all left the reservation and became assimilated into white society, as was the government plan. My mother and Caucasian father settled off the reservation in central Utah where I grew up. My mother did not teach us Navajo deliberately. She wanted us to speak English well and she was advised at the boarding school as she was growing up that the Navajo language would slow her children down. We did learn a few words however when we heard her speaking to our relatives on the rez. I wish I was fluent in Navajo.
My grandfather and my uncle were Medicine Men. Some of my most treasured experiences involve these two men.
I was awarded a Navajo Tribe scholarship in my twenties that put me through college. I have always wanted to give something back in return.
A few years ago I became involved with an immersion school in Flagstaff that is trying to keep the Navajo language and culture alive. I built a
fundraising website for them. Their test scores are excellent so they will continue to receive public school support. Of course that funding is not enough.
Today I see the tremendous effect that the netroots has had on the political landscape. DailyKos has changed the way we receive our news and has provided a way for us to act. We have made a difference. I felt it was important to set up a blog for us. I feel that this blog, Native American Netroots can do the same thing that DailyKos has done to help our ongoing struggle for preservation of identity and cultural history. It will be our forum for the discussion of political, social and economic issues affecting the indigenous peoples of the United States, including our lack of political representation, economic deprivation and health care issues.
I asked for three things of those in attendance at our caucus.
1. Please tell us your ideas.
2. Please spread the word about our blog. Our tribes need a place to get information and they need a place to discuss, plan and act.
3. Please join and visit this blog and write about what you said at our caucus.
I will continue to work on the layout of this blog in my spare time, e.g. create a section for ACTION ALERTS, etc.
I will communicate with some sites that provide news but don’t yet have an RSS feed.
It was suggested to keep the website simple so those peeps on dial-up would be able to access it. Perhaps I need to put the photos on another page. I also made our banner in a hurry. It is not optimized so I will do that soon.
There were many excellent comments. One comment by Rayne in particular made me think and that is that many on the rez don’t have computers but many more have cellphones. I have to study how to create pages for cellphones.
I was warmed and encouraged by the attendance of two young men, Kevin from Oglala Lakota College and Matt from South Dakota. I think Matt was still in high school. It is commendatory that these young guys would be willing to spend their precious youth at a political convention. I am very impressed with that. I hope they will talk to us here. I told them that they are the ones who can help our tribes. They have the tech savvy. They will be the wave that sets this in motion. I asked them to please reach out to their age group and contribute to this information broadcast project.
I was so pleased to meet Cosmic Debris and hear about her cultural artifact preservation work. I was honored to meet Mindoca, ultrageek, Mi Corazon, Imelda, Rayne and to see again Cheryl Contee, Rain, American River Canyon, SallyCat, Mr. Cat and David Boyle again. If I missed mentioning you it is because you didn’t sign my sign in sheet or make it in any photos, apologies.
Other folk at YearlyKos found me and made suggestions. For example Kid Oakland suggested I contact Mary Beth Williams at Wampum which I will do. We all need to work together.
Many thanks to those in attendance and I look forward to growing this site with your help.
Here are my photos:
There are also six photos of our caucus at Mona Brooks website. 3 at the bottom of this page and then 3 on the next page you can navigate to.
Please use this diary to re-tell your comments at our conference.