Ancient America: Fremont Culture

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In the Great Basin area of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado, the Fremont culture began to develop about 400 CE and lasted until about 1350 CE. During this period, desert foragers were replaced by more or less sedentary horticulturalists. Fremont originated on the northern frontier of the Anasazi culture, but developed independently of it. It seems to have grown out of Mogollon stimuli.

The Fremont were a farming people who supplemented their agricultural crops with some hunting and gathering. The Fremont raised at least three kinds of corn, including Fremont dent which was resistant to drought, cold, and climatic extremes. Fremont dent also matures in a short growing season. The Fremont dry-farmed corn. They took advantage of arroyo flooding and sheetwash during summer rains. They helped water their crops through the construction of small check-dams and there is some evidence that they may have irrigated their crops.

Unlike their other Southwestern neighbors, such as the Anasazi, the Femont did not build elaborate pueblos or cliff dwellings. They lived in small, unassuming houses which were often grouped into villages. They sometimes utilized caves and/or rockshelters. Plateau Fremont villages included storage structures and a few pit houses, sometimes lined with rock slabs. The pit houses were covered with poles and brush. In some areas they also constructed above ground houses and storerooms. For masonry structures, the Fremont used uncut stone, often laid up without mortar. They also used jacal-mud covered poles-and adobe blocks.

Freemont granaries were often built on the sides of sheer cliffs. The granaries were often round and made of wet-laid masonry and adobe brick. Above-ground adobe granaries were about 4 feet by 6 feet and 3-4 feet high. They were sometimes divided into chambers.  Subterranean storage pits were also used.

Two of the most distinguishing characteristics of Fremont culture are their rock art and their pottery. The principal archaeological trait of the Fremont culture is a thin-walled, plain gray pottery. Variations of this pottery have been found at Fremont sites throughout most of Utah, the eastern part of Nevada, and the western edge of Colorado. The Fremont people also produced clay figurines.

The second characteristic of Fremont culture is their rock art, both pictographs (rock paintings) and petroglyphs (rock carvings). Both their rock art and their clay figurines can be grouped into a number of motifs which center on various animals (bighorn sheep are the most common) and plants. One of their characteristic trademarks is human figures with trapezoidal or triangular bodies. These figures frequently have elaborate headdresses and necklaces. They occasionally have shields.

The Parowan branch of Fremont began about 450 CE in southwestern Utah. It is distinguished from other Fremont cultures in that the villages were relatively large (10-20 structures) and were made up of closely spaced pit houses with adobe storage structures. The pit houses were semi-subterranean structures, about 2 feet deep, with a brush superstructure which was covered with plaster. They often had a ventilator shaft to the outside to provide air for the hearth.

About 650 CE, the Uinta branch of the Fremont was established in Utah and Colorado. Sites were located at high elevations, often on ridges or isolated hills above floodplains. The Uinta are unique among the Fremont for not making anthropomorphic figures. At this same time, Fremont people were living in what is now the Dinosaur National Monument. These Fremont people were doing some farming while continuing to rely heavily on hunting and the gathering of wild plants.

About 800 CE, the Uinta branch began to undergo some significant changes. These changes include larger villages with substantial structures of adobe or stone masonry built into shallow circular pits. Villages with up to 20 structures were constructed near large valleys with abundant farmland.

The San Raphael branch of the Fremont culture was established in Utah and Colorado about 700 CE. The villages had both pit houses and above-ground masonry rooms which often contained multiple rooms. The pit houses were often slab-lined. There were often dome-shaped adobe granaries.

One of the outstanding features of the San Raphael branch was the emphasis on anthropomorphic figures in both the rock art and clay figurines. The figures had detailed facial features, necklaces and jewelry, elaborate hairstyles, and skirts. The anatomical detail was sufficient to distinguish between male and female figures.

About 780 CE, the Fremont people moved into the Sevier River area of Utah and Nevada. They lived in small hamlets which were usually situated on an alluvial fan at a canyon mouth near a permanent water supply. In addition to these small farming villages, the Fremont in this area also used temporary camps. These temporary camps-termed resource extraction sites by archaeologists-were used for hunting and gathering wild plants. They show that the Fremont people in this area at this time still relied heavily upon hunting and gathering to supplement their agricultural output.

In Utah, the Fremont people in the Range Creek area began making figurines from unfired gray clay about 1000 CE. These clay figurines were broad-shouldered dolls about six inches tall and shaped like a trapezoid with a head on top. The dolls suggest that the women wore aprons and styled their hair in bobs, while the men wore loincloths. The dolls also suggest that both men and women may have worn face paint.

The Fremont people in the Range Creek area at this time were storing their corn in granaries which were built into the sides of cliffs more than 100 feet above ground. The red clay used for making the granaries served as camouflage to hide the granaries.

In the Range Creek area, Fremont pit houses were also built high in the canyon walls. In building these houses, a pit was dug about two feet deep. Then four posts of either cedar or juniper were used to form a square frame in the center of the pit. Horizontal logs were then fastened to the top of this frame and numerous logs leaned against these crosspieces. Branches and brush were then added to the walls and roof and finally the roof was covered with a thick layer of dirt. The typical Fremont house in the Range Creek area was roughly conical or like a pyramid with a flat top. The typical house stood about 12 feet across and 6 feet high. People entered the house by ladder through a hole in the roof. The roof hole also let the smoke out.

About 1200 CE, the Fremont established a densely populated pit house village at Five Finger Ridge in Utah. The pit house shapes ranged from round to nearly square. They also created hundreds of rock art panels in the area

In Utah, the Fremont people began using Mantle Cave, a huge, vaulted, north-facing alcove, about 1250 CE. Within the cave the Fremont built about four dozen storage chambers, including masonry granaries, large slab-lined pits, and bell-shaped cache pits with stone lids. They left behind a ceremonial headdress made of 370 flicker feathers.

About 1250 CE, Fremont culture began to disappear in the Range Creek area. At this time there was some sort of global climate shift, sometimes called the Little Ice Age. This climate change most likely manifested itself at Range Creek as a drought that made farming more difficult and increased competition for resources. While people continued to live in the area, hunting and gathering became more important than farming. The archaeological record-ceramics, projectile points, and basketry styles-began to appear which resemble those of the Numic-speaking Ute, Paiute, and Shoshone people who have migrated into the area from the west. By 1350 the Fremont had totally disappeared from the Range Creek area.

In Colorado, the Fremont began to be replaced by the Ute about 1300 CE. The Ute moved into Colorado from the Great Basin area and they displaced and/or absorbed the marginal agriculturalists.

Freemont 1

Fremont 2

Ancient America: Hohokam

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More than 2,500 years ago, American Indians brought agricultural prosperity to the Arizona desert with the construction of complex irrigation systems. About 425 BCE these Indians, the ancestors of today’s O’odham nations who are often called Hohokam by archaeologists, began construction of the city of Skoaquik which means the “place of snakes.” Archaeologists call this place Snaketown.

For more than 12 centuries the Hohokam prospered peacefully in the Arizona desert. In the Hohokam communities of Casa Grande and Pueblo de los Muertos, irrigation systems brought water to the agricultural fields from the river which was six miles away. These hand-dug canals were often ten feet deep and up to fifty feet wide. In order to prevent water loss through seepage, the Hohokam plastered the sides of the canals. These large canals fed hundreds of small ditches that brought water to thousands of acres of croplands.  

In the Salt River Valley, the area currently occupied by the city of Phoenix, the Hohokam constructed more than 500 miles of fairly complex canal systems. These well-designed irrigation systems allowed the Hohokam to produce two harvests each year.

Hohokam agriculture included corn, beans, squash, agave, cotton, and tobacco. The Hohokam wove their cotton into textiles which were often used as a trade item. The Hohokam traded with the Indian nations of California as well as with those in Mexico. They also traded with adjacent Southwestern civilizations, such as the Hohokam and Mogollon.

The Hohokam towns and villages were often constructed at regular intervals along their main canals. In the Hohokam towns, such as Snaketown, most of the dwellings were built by digging a shallow pit about a foot below the surface of the desert. Vertical posts were then placed in the bottom of the pit to support slanting side poles which were covered with clay.  

The Hohokam built some of their houses using adobe which is formed by piling up stiff mud by hand. Some of the structures, such as those at Casa Grande, rise to a height of four stories. In some of the upper rooms, there are openings which are aligned to show the positions of the sun (solstices) and there are other openings to record lunar cycles. Like other agricultural people, the Hohokam used astronomy to be able to tell the coming of the seasons and thus to plant at the right times.

At about 600 CE the contact between the Hohokam and the civilizations of Mexico intensified. During this time, the Hohokam houses became much larger and many artifacts became “mass produced”. During this time, Snaketown grew to cover nearly 400 acres.

One of the interesting features of Hohokam towns is the ball court. Similar to the ball courts found in Mexico, the ball courts have floors excavated about 20 inches below the desert floor with soil piled up on either side. There were two basic sizes of ball courts: one which was about 50 by 80 feet and one which was about 110 by 200 feet.

The game was played with a rubbery ball which players tried to knock through rings on the walls with their hips, knees, or elbows. Players were not allowed to throw or kick the ball. The game was a microcosm of the cosmos which symbolized spiritual beings trying to make the world more harmonious for humans.

Hohokam towns also had platform mounds. At Snaketown, the mound is about 50 feet across and only 3 feet high. The mound, made from clean desert soil, served as a platform for ceremonial dances and religious rituals. Over 50 Hohokam villages had large, earthen platform mounds at the center of the villages. These towns were probably religious and/or civic centers.

Like other agricultural people in North America, the Hohokam made pottery. Originally, the first settlers of Snaketown made a plain, thin-walled ware from clay coils which were pounded into shape with a flat paddle.

About 1000 CE, the Hohokam began producing etched artifacts. The artists first created a design of pitch on a sea shell obtained in trade with the tribes on the Gulf of California. It was then soaked in an acid from fermented cactus juice. The artifact was then removed from the acid, the pitch scraped off, and the result was an etched design.

Unlike other Indian people in the Southwest, the Hohokam cremated their dead. Items which were placed in the grave – such as pottery – were ritually killed by breaking them.

Sometime between 1100 and 1200 CE Snaketown ceased functioning as a village. But this doesn’t mean that the Hohokam people mysteriously vanished. The people continued to live in smaller villages along the river and continued to water their fields with irrigation ditches. The decline was created by two environmental factors: (1) a flash flood on the Salt River destroyed their diversion weir and carved the river lower, and (2) the agricultural land around the villages became saline from the irrigation and crop production fell.

Around 1300, people related to the Pueblos in New Mexico – called Salado by the archaeologists – crossed the mountains and moved into the valley. This was not a violent invasion, but a peaceful melding of the two cultures which resulted in the construction of the four-story pueblo at Casa Grande.

Today the ancestors of the Hohokam continue to live in Arizona. They are known as the O’odham.

Map:

Anasazi map

Flora Sombrero Lind 1923 – 2010

My mother passed away on June 25, 2010 at her home in Richfield, Utah. She was 86. My brother, sister and I were by her side when she breathed her last breath.

This is the tribute I gave at her funeral:

Another elder in our Navajo Nation has left us. It is significant for our tribe to lose those who are fluent in our language and remember the traditional and ancient way of Navajo living. My husband Jeff called my mom a National Treasure. All elders of all American Indian tribes are National Treasures.

Julius Sombrero and family

From L-R: My grandfather Julius Sombrero, Uncle Delbert, Aunt Bessie, Aunt Nellie holding one of her children, my mom Flora with two of Nellie’s children standing in front of her. One of those children, the one on the far right came to the funeral, her name is Sallie.

My mom was born in Inscription House, Arizona on the Navajo reservation, it is estimated in 1923. She was number 5 of 11 children born naturally in a hogan. My mother’s father was a medicine man, a very prominent position in any tribe. We visited him, my grandmother and all our relations every summer. I love the reservation. I love to recall the sensory experience of it, the scent of sage brush, cedar beams inside the hogans, the smoke of the juniper fires burning in little pot belly stoves, coffee brewing, potatoes frying, the smell of a thunderstorm as it hit the hot red sand. It was a beautiful tranquil place, a spiritual place for me.

[more below]

I have a long diary entry from 2006 that I wrote about my mother’s older brother Robert Sombrero who inherited the medicine man knowledge from my grandfather. I want to read a short excerpt that features my mom.


The stories about Robert Sombrero were legendary in our home as I was growing up. My mother spoke with tremendous pride when recalling memories of her older brother. She would tell us that he was the “nicest, kindest man”. He would take care of his younger brothers and sisters like they were “little chickens.” My mom was a toddler when she saw her first white man. She was walking around the Inscription House trading post when she heard someone loudly enter. When she spotted the man she was so frightened that she ran to Robert. He scooped her up in his arms and she felt safe and protected. Through out the years whenever Uncle Robert’s name came up she just simply repeats “he held me when I saw my first white man…he could out run a horse…he was so nice to us…” since we’ve all heard the details for decades now.
My Relations

From L-R: Unidentified trader, my Aunt Mary, (who attended the funeral, she’s 81 now) my Grandfather Julius Sombrero, my Grandmother Elsie Littleman and my Uncle Robert Sombrero Sr.

My mother and several of her siblings were forcefully taken away to the government’s boarding school in Tuba City, Arizona in the late 1930s. My mother ALWAYS recalls this episode with pain and tears. She describes her mother sobbing as she watched her little 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 didn’t stop crying for months at the school. 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 inhumanely punished if they did. Her 8 year old sister Zonnie died there, crushed and trampled in a crowd. Her older sister Nellie ran away from the school so many times that they took her shoes away. Without shoes she still ran away and only made it to the 3rd grade when she finally was able to stay home. My grandfather, Julius Sombrero missed his children so much that he would ride his horse the 60 miles to visit them when he could.

The other half of the children, including my Uncle Robert were hidden in Inscription House canyon. These kids never went to school nor learned much 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. The women wove rugs and baskets to trade at the local trading posts.

The siblings who went to boarding school mostly left the reservation and became assimilated into cities, as was the government’s plan. My mother and Caucasian father, Rulon Lind settled in central Utah where we 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 pressed her and when we heard her speaking to our relatives on the rez.

The history of all the American Indian tribes is tragic. It is estimated that there were 8 million American Indians in 1492. They reached a low point of less than 250,000 in the late 1800s after enduring the government’s extermination order which was later changed to an assimilation project as a solution to the Indian problem. Our American Indian cultures are still endangered today and losing elders like my mom is one of the reasons. To give you a little more insight into my mother’s background, the entire Navajo tribe was forcefully removed from their lands in 1864, they were force walked almost 300 miles away to Fort Sumner in New Mexico. Fortunately, they were able to return but the tribe was devastated by this trauma. However, my mother told me that our family was lucky, they were able to hide deep in the canyons and high on top of Navajo Mountain and did not go on The Long Walk. But it was still difficult for them to endure this wartime atmosphere and overcome it. In order for the Navajo to return to their lands they had to sign a treaty with many demands, one was that all the children would be given up to the government boarding schools to be assimilated. They were still enforcing this when my mom was of school age.

Flora in polka dots

My mom survived boarding school. She married Harry Butler Sr., a Navajo man in 1945 and had two sons, Harry Jr. and Tommy Ray. Harry Jr. died as an infant from pneumonia and Harry Sr. was killed when Tom was a baby. Mom was left with a 3 year old son.  She soon joined the LDS Church and served a Southwest Indian Mission among the Zuni people from 1951-53 while Tommy was being taken care of by mom’s dear friends Lynn and Myrle Fowler.

Wedding Flora Sombrero & Rulon Lind

After she successfully completed her mission her future husband, my dad Rulon Lind read about her mission in a newspaper. He was so impressed with her devotion to the church that he wrote to her and asked to meet her. She accepted the invitation and met him at the Lyric Theater here in Richfield for a first date in 1953. They were married Jan. 14, 1954 in the St. George Temple.

Dad adopted Tommy and then he and mom had four more children; myself, Spencer, Nathan and Naomi. I was born in dad’s hometown of Vernal, Utah and my brothers and sister were born here in Richfield.

Mom was best known for her sense of humor. Her broad smile and laugh will never be forgotten. She loved fresh water fishing, camping and arrowhead hunting.  She used her Navajo cooking skills she learned while growing up on the reservation to char whole corn on embers and roast meats at our campsites. She was often asked to make fry bread for large church gatherings. She loved to entertain onlookers with her dough handling skills and joking conversation. Flora loved looking for rocks for her beloved rock garden and transplanting plant snippings from her many friends. She also loved to visit her relatives on the reservation as often as possible. She loved to travel and has made many road trips around the nation.

Recent painful milestones for her and us were losing her husband, my dad Rulon in 1999, her sons Tom in 2005 and Spence in 2006.

When I saw my mother for the last time I was reminded of something an elder in the Ponca tribe said about her after seeing her photo from last year:


Our elders seem to begin to take on the look of Mother Earth as they age, with the cracks and crevices of character and living making maps across their faces.

We are going to miss our mom very much.

I would like to thank publicly my brother Nate and my sister Naomi.  I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and it was difficult for me to be physically helpful to my mom. Nate and Naomi took complete care of her after our dad passed. Naomi drove back and forth between Richfield and Vernal to check on mom and attend to her emergencies. We finally moved her to Richfield to make it easier for Naomi.  In fact, when she got to the point of needing constant care Nate moved in with her 11 months ago. I’m so appreciative to him for being devoted to her every need. I didn’t worry as much knowing that she was being cared for 24/7.

I also want to thank you all for being with us today to give us strength. It’s so nice to see your faces and know that you care.

We love our mother very much and today we honor her special heritage that is a huge part of our identity. We will do what we can to keep the Navajo culture alive.

Obituary in The Richfield Reaper


IMG_1454

Neeta, Nathan and Naomi Lind

Funeral Program Cover

Shinnecock Indians Obtain Federal Recognition

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After a legal struggle that has lasted more than three decades the Shinnecock Indian Nation, whose aboriginal homeland is in Long Island, N.Y., has received federal recognition. Their current petition for federal recognition was filed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1999. The tribe has 1,292 enrolled members and an 800-acre reservation in Southampton. With tribal recognition, the tribe can build a casino, though tribal leaders indicate that this is a secondary consideration at the present time. I would like to use this event to describe the process of obtaining federal recognition.  

The Supreme Court has interpreted the reference to Indian tribes in the Constitution to mean that tribes are “domestic dependent nations” and as such they have limited sovereignty and a special relationship with the federal government. However, not all Indian tribes in the United States have this special relationship: some tribes have federal recognition, and some do not.

During the Treaty Era of 1776 to 1871, the United States negotiated many different treaties with Indian nations. Many of the recognized tribes today have recognition because they signed a treaty with the United States. In theory, signing a treaty with the United States is an indication that the federal government has recognizes the tribe. On the other hand, there are a number of tribes which have federal recognition which have never signed a treaty. In other words, having federal recognition is not necessarily a straight-forward thing.  

For those Indian tribes without federal recognition, federal recognition can currently be obtained in one of three ways: (1) take action in court to force the United States to recognize its trust responsibilities, (2) apply to Congress, or (3) follow a process established by the Department of the Interior. The Shinnecock obtained their recognition by going through the Department of the Interior recognition process. This is a process which is long, costly, political, and has resulted in relatively few recognitions. Testifying before Congress in 1992 regarding the Federal Acknowledge Project, Sioux scholar Vine Deloria said:

“The current FAP shows no sign of intelligence whatsoever; it is certainly unjust to require these Indian nations to perform documentary acrobatics for a slothful bureaucracy”

In 1994, the Bureau of Indian Affairs revised its regulations regarding the federal recognition of Indian tribes. The new rules require groups to show that they have been identified as Indian only since 1900 which reduced the burden of proof which the tribes are required to present. In addition, groups have to prove their existence since the last clear and unambiguous acknowledgment of their people in treaties or administrative actions. The new rules are intended to streamline the recognition process.

In order for an unrecognized tribe to obtain federal recognition the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has established several basic criteria which the tribe must meet. First, the tribe must show that it has been identified as an Indian tribe historically and continuously.  The Shinnecock reservation pre-dates the establishment of the United States: it was formally created and recognized in 1666.

One of the difficulties in establishing this history for some tribes deals with confusion over names. Historical documents may contain references to the tribe under several different names.

Under the BIA criteria, a substantial portion of the group must live in a community identified as an Indian community, distinct from other communities. Its members must be descendants of an Indian tribe that historically inhabited the area. This means, in part, that the tribal members must not have participated in the rural-urban migration which has characterized much of the American population during the past century. Among the Shinnecock, more than half of their members do not live in the area.

The tribe must show that it has maintained historical and continuous tribal political influence over its members. In addition, the tribe must furnish a copy of the tribe’s current governing document.  In other words, while the BIA guidelines require the tribe to be “traditional” in some ways, when it comes to government it must conform to modern concepts. Traditionally, Indian tribes did not have written constitutions and bylaws.

The tribe must have a membership list of people who can establish descent from a tribe which existed historically.  While this is a genealogical list, it has an underlying racial component of “blood quantum.” Tribal members cannot be members of another Indian tribe. While it is possible today to have dual citizenship, this is not a freedom allowed for Indian nations.

The tribe must not be subject to congressional legislation that has terminated or forbidden the federal relationship. During the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government terminated a number of tribes and for these tribes to regain their federal recognition they must apply to Congress.  

Sand Hill Lawsuit – Legal Timeline

Following is the legal timeline regarding the lawsuit of the oldest indigenous Native American tribe still found in New Jersey – the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians vs. the State of New Jersey.  The Tribe has appealed to the UN to try this case in the World Court.  The territory involved now includes Manhattan, Delaware, and Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey.

Legal documents discussed in the timeline can be found here.

February 17, 2009 – The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians files the first Complaint in a lawsuit against the State of NJ for genocide, treaty violations, and civil rights violations. #2:09-cv-683. The initial filing was for a three judge court in Philadelphia.

March 25, 2009 and April 7, 2009 – Judge Patty Schwartz in Federal District Court in Newark issued scheduling orders to meet on April 21, 2009 about a discovery plan prior to a Rule 16 conference.

April 21, 2009, Imagine Chief Holloway’s surprise when he walked into Courtroom No 10 on April 21 into what WAS a Rule 16 hearing. Not only that, but all the defendants were told to bring counsel. Not all of them did. The State Attorney General was actually permitted to argue even though the State of NJ had not even answered the complaint yet.

Chief Holloway was not permitted to bring anyone into the Court room with him for this meeting that actually turned into a Rule 16 hearing. The defendants brought in a reporter from the Star Ledger who is friendly with Trenton, after which a story dismissive of Chief Holloway’s case was published. Believe me, if I was allowed in – I would have been there. But the Plaintiff was specifically instructed by the court not to bring anyone with him. Why exactly?

April 23, 2009 The Court orders the Sand Hill to retain legal counsel and will not permit Chief Holloway to represent his own tribe. The court only gives Chief Holloway 2 weeks to comply and retain an attorney and just two weeks after that to file their complaint.

“It is further ordered that no discovery may take place unless the motion to dismiss is denied and until the Court enters a scheduling order”

“No further amendments will be permitted, except to permit the petitioners to ask to join additional parties.”

Italics mine.

May 8 – Deadline given to Sand Hill tribe to retain an attorney in the April 23 Court Order.

May 22 – Deadline given to Sand Hill for their newly retained attorney (if they are able to somehow quickly procure one) to file their complete complaint as ordered by the court on April 23.

Chief Holloway was asked to do the near impossible – retain an attorney and have the entire complaint submitted in mere DAYS, (which he did.) In contrast, the Court allowed defendants who did not answer the complaint in a timely way or at all, until June 26 to file a motion to dismiss. Some were given until July 2, 2009. Monmouth County was given till OCTOBER. Chief Holloway requested default judgments against the defendants who had not bothered to even answer the complaint, but the judge denied the request.

June 26 – Deadline for the Defendants to file motion to dismiss.

July 2 – Deadline for the defendants to jump onto the Motion to dismiss.

July 20, 2009 – Deadline for Chief Holloway to file opposition to the motion to dismiss.

August 3, 2009 – New Court date scheduled – never happened. Oral arguments were NOT granted although both sides requested them.

October 2009 – Monmouth County FINALLY answers the complaint. The Judge lets them join the motion to dismiss.

The rub for the court is that if the motion to dismiss is denied, the case can go to discovery where Chief Holloway will finally be permitted to prove his ancestry, which he was prepared to do when he filed the lawsuit. Consequently, the Judge is put in a Catch 22. Deny the claim to avoid discovery, have it appealed and moved to Philadelphia, where discovery would happen anyway, or deny the motion to dismiss, and allow the trial to go to discovery which would allow the Sand Hills to get a fair and impartial hearing which allegedly would ruin a promising law career with the political power brokers in Trenton.

What to do, what to do…. What would save a Judge from a dilemma like this? Well, to never, ever, rule on the motion to dismiss, or to simply take early retirement. Which allegedly appears to be the fork taken here. Allegedly Judge Hayden took early retirement leaving the case to Judge Patty Schwartz who does not appear as if she will ever rule on that motion to dismiss. It appears the court is trying to avoid discovery.

However, despite the glacial approach to the motion to dismiss, it took Judge Schwartz less than 24 HOURS to dismiss the third amended complaint which was amended to add parties to the lawsuit – the very thing allowed, according to the court order of April 23, 2009. It also appears that Judge Hayden and Judge Schwartz had ex parte verbal requests from defendants’ counsel and issued Orders as if the docket had actually been reviewed.

And so to recap – the original motion to dismiss was filed by the defendants at the Rule 16 hearing, even though there was not supposed to be ANY motions filed that day. Chief Holloway then filed opposition in time, even though he surprised the court by doing so. Most of the defendants had replied by August when they were supposed to have replied by June 26.

November 23, 2010 – The court orders no more motions until a “conference” takes place. That conference still has not happened as of this writing.

January, 2010, MONTHS later, Sand Hill Counsel asked WHEN the court would finally rule on the motion to dismiss and was told the court was in no particular hurry to ever schedule it.

June 4, 2010 – The Sand Hill legal counsel filed a complaint with the Third District Court of Appeals in Philadelphia regarding what appears to be violations of the Judicial Misconduct Act Section 3(h)(1), and 3(h)(3)(B).

June 16, 2010 – the Sand Hill file the Third Amended Complaint that adds parties to the lawsuit – which is specifically allowed by the Court Order of April 23, 2009. New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania are now involved in addition to New Jersey.

June 16, 2010 Assistant Essex County Counsel arrogantly requests that the 3rd Amended Complaint is dismissed and tells Judge Patty Schwartz about using sanctions against the Sand Hill for having the temerity to file an amended complaint which was actually allowed under the April 23 Court Order.

June 17, 2010 ONE DAY after the 3rd amended complaint is filed that joins other parties to the lawsuit, the Judge DENIES the 3rd Amended complaint without prejudice. She basically punts so that the Sand Hill can bring it up again later, and she doesn’t have to deal with it now. She has effectively “tabled” it.

June 17, 2010, Sand Hill legal Counsel Arleen Richards requests that the Judge deny Essex County’s request to strike the 3rd Amended Complaint as an improper request because the April 23, 2009 court order allows it.

June 22, 2010 – Based on the Court’s summary denial of the 3rd Amended Complaint before the “ink was even dry”, and the appearance of purposely avoiding discovery for months by not ruling on the motion to dismiss, the Sand Hill have formally requested of the UN Special Rappateur that the case go to the World Court.

The case at this moment has not been dismissed and the motion to dismiss has not been denied. Which is why the Tribe has appealed to the UN for a genocide case that allegedly appears to be stalled purposely, where there allegedly appears to be a double standard for how the defendants and the plaintiffs are treated by the Federal District Court in Newark.

The reason why the motion to dismiss is such a problem for the defendants is that they are basing their argument on state law, whereas any case involving Native Americans is clearly FEDERAL in nature. The defendants have no legal basis for their motion to dismiss because the motion to dismiss is based on NJ law. The plaintiff argues that the complaint is a violation of the Non-Intercourse Act which is written and enforced by CONGRESS. The Judge has also failed to issue an order regarding the request for a declaratory judgment that would declare once and for all if FEDERAL law applies or STATE law.

The interesting thing is, the UN has the documentation, and evidence, and has already done investigations of its own validating his claims BEFORE meeting with Chief Holloway. In stark contrast, the Federal government has NO IDEA what evidence the Sand Hill tribe has, because the action of one Judge in Newark is preventing discovery. The Federal government is at a clear disadvantage should this go to the World Court.

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Sand Hill Lawsuit – Legal Timeline

( – promoted by navajo)

Following is the legal timeline regarding the lawsuit of the oldest indigenous Native American tribe still found in New Jersey – the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians vs. the State of New Jersey.  The Tribe has appealed to the UN to try this case in the World Court.  The territory involved now includes Manhattan, Delaware, and Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey.

Legal documents discussed in the timeline can be found here.

February 17, 2009 – The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians files the first Complaint in a lawsuit against the State of NJ for genocide, treaty violations, and civil rights violations. #2:09-cv-683. The initial filing was for a three judge court in Philadelphia.

March 25, 2009 and April 7, 2009 – Judge Patty Schwartz in Federal District Court in Newark issued scheduling orders to meet on April 21, 2009 about a discovery plan prior to a Rule 16 conference.

April 21, 2009, Imagine Chief Holloway’s surprise when he walked into Courtroom No 10 on April 21 into what WAS a Rule 16 hearing. Not only that, but all the defendants were told to bring counsel. Not all of them did. The State Attorney General was actually permitted to argue even though the State of NJ had not even answered the complaint yet.

Chief Holloway was not permitted to bring anyone into the Court room with him for this meeting that actually turned into a Rule 16 hearing. The defendants brought in a reporter from the Star Ledger who is friendly with Trenton, after which a story dismissive of Chief Holloway’s case was published. Believe me, if I was allowed in – I would have been there. But the Plaintiff was specifically instructed by the court not to bring anyone with him. Why exactly?

April 23, 2009 The Court orders the Sand Hill to retain legal counsel and will not permit Chief Holloway to represent his own tribe. The court only gives Chief Holloway 2 weeks to comply and retain an attorney and just two weeks after that to file their complaint.

“It is further ordered that no discovery may take place unless the motion to dismiss is denied and until the Court enters a scheduling order”

“No further amendments will be permitted, except to permit the petitioners to ask to join additional parties.”

Italics mine.

May 8 – Deadline given to Sand Hill tribe to retain an attorney in the April 23 Court Order.

May 22 – Deadline given to Sand Hill for their newly retained attorney (if they are able to somehow quickly procure one) to file their complete complaint as ordered by the court on April 23.

Chief Holloway was asked to do the near impossible – retain an attorney and have the entire complaint submitted in mere DAYS, (which he did.) In contrast, the Court allowed defendants who did not answer the complaint in a timely way or at all, until June 26 to file a motion to dismiss. Some were given until July 2, 2009. Monmouth County was given till OCTOBER. Chief Holloway requested default judgments against the defendants who had not bothered to even answer the complaint, but the judge denied the request.

June 26 – Deadline for the Defendants to file motion to dismiss.

July 2 – Deadline for the defendants to jump onto the Motion to dismiss.

July 20, 2009 – Deadline for Chief Holloway to file opposition to the motion to dismiss.

August 3, 2009 – New Court date scheduled – never happened. Oral arguments were NOT granted although both sides requested them.

October 2009 – Monmouth County FINALLY answers the complaint. The Judge lets them join the motion to dismiss.

The rub for the court is that if the motion to dismiss is denied, the case can go to discovery where Chief Holloway will finally be permitted to prove his ancestry, which he was prepared to do when he filed the lawsuit. Consequently, the Judge is put in a Catch 22. Deny the claim to avoid discovery, have it appealed and moved to Philadelphia, where discovery would happen anyway, or deny the motion to dismiss, and allow the trial to go to discovery which would allow the Sand Hills to get a fair and impartial hearing which allegedly would ruin a promising law career with the political power brokers in Trenton.

What to do, what to do…. What would save a Judge from a dilemma like this? Well, to never, ever, rule on the motion to dismiss, or to simply take early retirement. Which allegedly appears to be the fork taken here. Allegedly Judge Hayden took early retirement leaving the case to Judge Patty Schwartz who does not appear as if she will ever rule on that motion to dismiss. It appears the court is trying to avoid discovery.

However, despite the glacial approach to the motion to dismiss, it took Judge Schwartz less than 24 HOURS to dismiss the third amended complaint which was amended to add parties to the lawsuit – the very thing allowed, according to the court order of April 23, 2009. It also appears that Judge Hayden and Judge Schwartz had ex parte verbal requests from defendants’ counsel and issued Orders as if the docket had actually been reviewed.

And so to recap – the original motion to dismiss was filed by the defendants at the Rule 16 hearing, even though there was not supposed to be ANY motions filed that day. Chief Holloway then filed opposition in time, even though he surprised the court by doing so. Most of the defendants had replied by August when they were supposed to have replied by June 26.

November 23, 2010 – The court orders no more motions until a “conference” takes place. That conference still has not happened as of this writing.

January, 2010, MONTHS later, Sand Hill Counsel asked WHEN the court would finally rule on the motion to dismiss and was told the court was in no particular hurry to ever schedule it.

June 4, 2010 – The Sand Hill legal counsel filed a complaint with the Third District Court of Appeals in Philadelphia regarding what appears to be violations of the Judicial Misconduct Act Section 3(h)(1), and 3(h)(3)(B).

June 16, 2010 – the Sand Hill file the Third Amended Complaint that adds parties to the lawsuit – which is specifically allowed by the Court Order of April 23, 2009. New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania are now involved in addition to New Jersey.

June 16, 2010 Assistant Essex County Counsel arrogantly requests that the 3rd Amended Complaint is dismissed and tells Judge Patty Schwartz about using sanctions against the Sand Hill for having the temerity to file an amended complaint which was actually allowed under the April 23 Court Order.

June 17, 2010 ONE DAY after the 3rd amended complaint is filed that joins other parties to the lawsuit, the Judge DENIES the 3rd Amended complaint without prejudice. She basically punts so that the Sand Hill can bring it up again later, and she doesn’t have to deal with it now. She has effectively “tabled” it.

June 17, 2010, Sand Hill legal Counsel Arleen Richards requests that the Judge deny Essex County’s request to strike the 3rd Amended Complaint as an improper request because the April 23, 2009 court order allows it.

June 22, 2010 – Based on the Court’s summary denial of the 3rd Amended Complaint before the “ink was even dry”, and the appearance of purposely avoiding discovery for months by not ruling on the motion to dismiss, the Sand Hill have formally requested of the UN Special Rappateur that the case go to the World Court.

The case at this moment has not been dismissed and the motion to dismiss has not been denied. Which is why the Tribe has appealed to the UN for a genocide case that allegedly appears to be stalled purposely, where there allegedly appears to be a double standard for how the defendants and the plaintiffs are treated by the Federal District Court in Newark.

The reason why the motion to dismiss is such a problem for the defendants is that they are basing their argument on state law, whereas any case involving Native Americans is clearly FEDERAL in nature. The defendants have no legal basis for their motion to dismiss because the motion to dismiss is based on NJ law. The plaintiff argues that the complaint is a violation of the Non-Intercourse Act which is written and enforced by CONGRESS. The Judge has also failed to issue an order regarding the request for a declaratory judgment that would declare once and for all if FEDERAL law applies or STATE law.

The interesting thing is, the UN has the documentation, and evidence, and has already done investigations of its own validating his claims BEFORE meeting with Chief Holloway. In stark contrast, the Federal government has NO IDEA what evidence the Sand Hill tribe has, because the action of one Judge in Newark is preventing discovery. The Federal government is at a clear disadvantage should this go to the World Court.

Some Cherokee Visions

( – promoted by navajo)

When cultures are undergoing rapid change, the people are often unsure, and sometimes afraid, of the future. At these times, people are more likely to turn to religion as a well of prediction about the future. Divination, often in the form of prophecy, is an important part of many religious traditions. In ancient Babylon divination was based on looking at the skies, in many African cultures it involves an examination of the entrails of a sacrificed ox, and in many Christian cultures it many involve an interpretation of Biblical passages.

During the first part of the nineteenth century, the Cherokee in the southeast were undergoing a great deal of change. In order to deal with pressure from the American government, they were adopting an American-style government; they were converting to Christianity; and they were changing from an egalitarian agricultural economy to a slave-based plantation economy. During this time of stress, a number of Cherokee prophets emerged who utilized the traditional Native vision or dream as their source of knowledge about the future.  

In the 1810, a fundamentalist religious movement began among the Cherokee. The leading prophet, Charley, told the people that the mother of the nation had abandoned them because they had taken up American agricultural practices and grain mills. Charley told the Cherokee that if they returned to traditional agriculture, if they returned to hunting, if they excluded Americans from their territory, and if they abandoned American clothes and material goods, then the Great Spirit would send them sufficient game. Charley appeared with two black wolves, one on either side of him, which were said to be spirits. As he told the people that Selu (corn) had abandoned them because they are now farming in the European way, the clouds parted in the sky.

Charley predicted that non-believers would be destroyed in a hail storm and that those who gathered with him on a high peak would be safe. The storm failed to appear and Charley’s influence faded.

In 1810, three Cherokee reported that they had been visited by a band of Indians who appeared out of the heavens riding black horses. The visitors told the Cherokee to return to the old ways and to give up their featherbeds, tables, and European dress. Corn was to be ground by hand rather than in the new gristmills.

The visitors reported that the Mother of the Nation was unhappy because the Cherokee had let the wild game be killed off. While the message was to return to the old ways, some of the new ways – reading and writing, for example – were acceptable.

When the vision was reported at the Cherokee National Council, Major Ridge, who would later support the American plan for removal of the Cherokee west of the Mississippi River, angrily declared that the vision was false.

In 1811, several prophets reported a vision which showed the Great Spirit angry with the Cherokee. The prophets told the people to turn their attention to reclaiming the sacred towns of Tugaloo and Chota, to restore traditional dances and ceremonies, and to use traditional medicines. Several of the prophets made predictions about world destruction and when these failed to happen, the prophets lost their credibility.

In 1819, Cherokee peace chief Yonaguska died and came back to life 24 hours later. He announced that he had gone to the spirit world where he talked with dead friends and relatives. In the spirit world, the Creator gave him a message to share with the people. As a result of this experience, Yonaguska organized a temperance society and banished whiskey from this people.

During this decade of rapid change, the Cherokee prophesies took on two different forms: (1) a total rejection of the new ways and a return to the mythical past, and (2) a partial rejection of the new ways while incorporating some of them into the culture. In all instances, when the prophets predicted that specific things would happen and these events failed to happen, their prestige in the community failed.  

Here Before Christ: Transnational Corporations & Indian Nations

( – promoted by navajo)

Transnational corporations are the primary agent of today’s globalized world. While often thought of as something relatively recent-post World War II, according to some writers-transnational corporations have been around since the age of discovery and have been one of the most important vehicles for resource development outside of Europe. One of the earliest examples of the transnational corporation was the Dutch East Indies Company founded in 1602.  

Transnational corporations are changing the shape of the world and the lives of individuals from every walk of life. The top 100 transnational corporations control 33% of the world’s resources and they employ 1% of the world’s workforce. Many transnational corporations are politically and economically more powerful than many countries. As the power of the transnational corporations have increased, the powers of modern states (countries) have decreased.

The First Nations of North America began to be incorporated into the global marketplace with the establishment of the fur trade in the seventeenth century. Very shortly, First Nations began to become intertwined with transnational corporations or at least one corporation in particular: Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC, sometimes called “Here Before Christ”).

The English Crown granted a charter incorporating the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670. They were given by the Crown the right to govern all of the lands which drain into Hudson’s Bay. This area was designated as Rupert’s Land. Under their Crown charter, HBC had the power to: (1) establish laws and impose penalties for the infractions of these laws, (2) erect forts, (3) maintain ships of war, and (4) make peace or war with the Natives. In other words, HBC had all of the powers of a sovereign state.

With regard to their relationship with the Native peoples of North America, HBC viewed them as trading partners rather than as subjects. While not officially encouraged, many of the HBC traders intermarried with the Natives, thus creating kinship networks that enhanced HBC trade. One of the HBC Governors wrote:

“Connubial alliances are the best security we can have of the goodwill of the Natives. I have therefore recommended the Gentlemen to form connections with the principal Families immediately on their arrival.”

The offspring from these marriages provided several generations of employees for the company-employees who knew both the European culture and the indigenous cultures.

While the focus of HBC was on the bottom line, that is, making a profit, one of its byproducts was religious change. As they extended their trading posts and influences in the western Rockies and Columbia basin, HBC employed Iroquois voyageurs who had some knowledge of the Christian religion but loved to sing Catholic hymns, relying on their rhythms to measure the oar strokes of the trade canoes. The Iroquois inspired both the Nez Perce and the Flathead to later send expeditions to St. Louis to request Christian missionaries.

The most famous trade good developed by HBC was the blanket. By 1740, the Hudson’s Bay Company was making a specially designed trade blanket. These blankets were heavier than other trade blankets and were made of pure wool. Each blanket was assigned a certain number of “points” based on its weight and a series of stripes indicating the “points” were woven into the blankets. In this way the trade value of the blanket was easily seen by both trader and the Indian fur trappers.

The other important trade good was alcohol. Alcohol is an ideal trade item as it is easily consumable, it is addictive (meaning that the Natives always want more), and it meant that intoxicated Indians were less aware of what they were doing during trade negotiations. Initially, HBC had a policy against trading alcohol to Indians, but then in 1776, they suddenly had major competition. A group of Canadian traders formed the North West Company. While HBC was headquartered in London, the Nor’westers were out of Montreal.

The Nor’westers supplied the Indians with a concoction called “high wine:” a mixture of brandy, dark rum, sweet sherry, tawny port, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, with water added according to circumstances. Rivalry between fur trade companies led to Hudson’s Bay Company abandoning its policy against providing alcohol to the Indians. Soon alcohol supplanted other goods in desirability and become the most important single item in the trade.

The competition between the two companies led to open warfare, including attacking and capturing forts. In 1816, for example, the Pemmican War began when HBC captured and burned the North West Company’s Fort Gibraltar. In the months that followed both sides fielded armies in a guerrilla war. In 1821, the Crown stepped in and ordered the two companies to merge. With that the North West Company disappeared and alcohol sales to the Indians was reduced.

By 1856, the Canadian Indian Department was under the influence of the Hudson’s Bay Company. In Ontario, the Indian agent delayed annuity payments so that a lack of money over the winter would keep the Natives from purchasing goods from free traders.

In 1870, the Hudson’s Bay Company transferred Rupert’s Land and the Northwestern Territory to Canada. Rupert’s Land was the area drained by Hudson Bay and included northern Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba. The Northwestern Territory included Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Yukon. With this, the reign of HBC as a sovereign state in Canada was over.  

News from Native American Netroots

Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross posted at Daily Kos

Welcome to News from Native American Netroots, a Monday evening series (delayed until Wednesday this week) focused on indigenous tribes primarily in the United States and Canada but inclusive of international peoples also.

A special thanks to our team for contributing the links that have been compiled here. Please provide your news links in the comments below.

INDN’s List Announces First 2010 Endorsement

INDN’s List is excited to announce our first endorsement for the 2010 elections, Washington State Representative John McCoy!  We know the best candidates get an early start, and we can’t wait to build momentum for Democratic successes next year…..

Learn about INDN’s List by viewing this welcome video.

Follow INDN’s List on Twitter

Work, Prayer Bring Back Vandalized Eagle Sculpture

The broken pieces of the Rising Eagle sculpture are finally back together, almost a year after vandals reduced the American Indian art to rubble last July.

Just north of the Pioneer Park sand volleyball courts, the Rising Eagle seating area is fixed but the space for the sculpture is bare. The sculpture, created by United Tribes Technical College students, will be restored within the next couple of weeks.

“It is scary when you think that someone would want to do something like that,” said Paul Quist, president of the Bismarck Park Board, about the vandalism.

Ogechie Lake wild rice restoration moves forward

At one time members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe could harvest wild rice growing on the small Ogechie Lake, one of the three lakes formed along the Rum River after it leaves the impressive 132,516-acre Mille Lacs Lake.

The lake produced tens of thousands of pounds of wild rice – manoomin – a plant of high cultural importance for the Ojibwe people.

Then in the early 1950s, a dam was installed that raised the modest 411-acre lake’s water more than three feet – higher than the rice was able to grow and flooding out an ecological, economic and cultural legacy.

Wyo. Tribes Oppose Amendment on Settlement

Leaders of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes in Wyoming have warned that an amendment proposed by their homestate U.S. senator would derail a $3.4 billion federal settlement with American Indians nationwide.

Sen. John Barrasso’s amendment capping attorney fees at $50 million and making several other changes in the settlement would further delay justice for far too many Indian beneficiaries in the long-running Cobell lawsuit, the leaders wrote to key senators in a letter Wednesday.

The U.S. House has already approved the settlement, including up to $100 million for legal fees in the class-action lawsuit that alleges decades of government mismanagement of funds the federal government held in trust for Indian landowners.

Declaration adoption is ‘a step on the journey of reconciliation’

When Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut-Atleo’s grandmother heard the Canadian government’s Apology for Indian Residential Schools, she said, “It’s like they’re just beginning to see us.”

National Chief Atleo, a hereditary chief from the Ahousaht First Nation, recalled his late grandmother’s comment as he marked the second anniversary of the apology with a teleconference June 11.

Canada’s Indian residential school system began in the mid-1840s – almost 40 years earlier than the Indian residential schools in the United States – and the last one closed in 1996.

Navajo Nation must move away from coal mining

The April 5 disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia that killed 29 coal miners has brought a renewed attention to the issue of mine safety.

The Obama administration has announced a review of existing regulations and Rep. George Miller publicly released a list of the 48 mines with a pattern of serious safety violations. Only one from Arizona made the list.

Arizona being the top copper-producing state in the country, you might think it was one of the numerous copper mines. Or maybe one of the gold or silver mines that dot the state.

In fact, it was the Kayenta Coal Mine, located way up on the Navajo Reservation, just a few miles from where I grew up.

Indian Law Center Receives Human Rights Prize

The Helena-based Indian Law Resource Center is one of three recipients of the 2010 Justice Prize from the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation.

The $500,000 prize honors organizations and individuals for championing the rights of historically oppressed groups through advocacy, legal reform and the development of international law. The center shares this year’s prize with Australian judge Michael Kirby and attorney and author John Dugard, whose writings and teachings challenged apartheid law in South Africa.

Tenth Circuit Rules in Favor of Uranium Resources, Inc. in Indian Country Case


Uranium Resources, a uranium exploration, development and production company, announced today that the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit en banc held today that the Company’s Section 8 property in Churchrock, New Mexico is not Indian Country.

Don Ewigleben, President and CEO of Uranium Resources noted, “This ruling enables us to immediately seek to renew the underground injection control (UIC) permit that we had been granted by the State of New Mexico in 1989. This is the last permit required for us to advance our in situ recovery uranium mining project on our Churchrock property where we hold 13.7 million pounds of in place mineralized uranium material.”

The result of the ruling means the authority to issue a UIC permit to URI falls under the jurisdiction of the State of New Mexico, and not the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The jurisdictional dispute originated among the State of New Mexico, the USEPA and the Navajo Nation and was initially taken to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. In January 2000, the issue was remanded to the USEPA. In February 2007, the USEPA reached a decision that Section 8 is Indian country, and therefore under its jurisdiction to administer the UIC permit. URI appealed the decision to the Tenth Circuit Court in April 2009. By a 2-1 decision the court upheld the EPA’s ruling. In August 2009, URI’s petition for an en banc review was granted and oral arguments were held January 2010. The subject ruling that the Section 8 property is not Indian Country is the result of the en banc review.



Shinnecock Finally Receive Federal Recognition


It took more than 30 years, but the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Long Island, N.Y., has finally received its federal recognition, according to a piece published by the New York Times on June 15.

The 1,292-member Shinnecock, which has an 800-acre reservation in posh Southampton, plans to build a casino. With the federal recognition, it can build a Class II (video slot machines) facility.

Court orders construction halt on Viejas sacred site

A state superior court has issued a restraining order to stop construction on a $20 million water project after human remains were found in an area that the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians says is a sacred burial ground and ceremonial place of their ancestors.

In a June 7 hearing, San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes ordered the Padre Dam Municipal Water District to avoid construction on around two-thirds of the two-and-a-half acre site where it is building a new reservoir and pumping station. The restraining order extends to June 25.

Attorneys for the Viejas Band sought the restraining order against the Padre Dam Municipal Water District to halt construction until the matter is decided by the Native American Heritage Commission.

Drum a way out of addiction, into ‘circle’ National Aboriginal Day chance to share how beat saves lives



The drum is to Jesse Morin what a crucifix is to many Catholics; its mere presence demands that he live a better life.

It calls him to tread lightly and hold native ceremonies with respect, like a gift, he says, and to treat the community around him that same way, to avoid alcohol, drugs and violence, and even the pettiness of gossip and backstabbing on Facebook.

“I’m still learning that,” he says. “Probably learning all of my life.”

Morin, now sober for 22 years, came forward to tell his story for National Aboriginal Day, a series of celebrations across the nation. His group, the River Cree Singers, is playing at the River Cree Casino today at 1 p.m. The rest of “his boys” point to Morin as the best example of how the drum can change lives.

Prairie Band Potawatomi Brings Higher Ed to Its Reservation

Through an agreement with Friends University, members and employees of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation can now obtain a college degree without leaving the reservation.

Beginning this fall, tribal members can enroll in a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Management degree completion program; and in spring 2011, they will be able to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management and Leadership (OML) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Classes for these on-site programs will be taught at the PBPN’s Government Center in Mayetta, Kan., meeting once per week. Depending on the program, degree-completion and graduate coursework can be completed within 13 months to 24 months.

Nearly a century later, a symbol of the Haida returns to its people

Ninety-five years after it was taken from Haida Gwaii to adorn a railway station in Alberta, the Raven totem pole is back in Old Massett.

Restoration experts have spent months trying to remove lead paint – bright white, red and aqua – that had been added to help make the 12-metre-long pole a tourist icon in Jasper. It arrived on a ferry Friday and on Monday, Haida leaders will formally restore the pole’s name, Stihlda.

Traces of paint remain, a reminder of the cedar pole’s travels. “It was painted some grisly colours over the years,” said Vince Collison, the Haida co-ordinator of the event. “So we’re grateful to get it, as close as possible, back to the original condition.”

Keepers of the Peace Powwow

There was a circle, and then another circle, and then another circle as the drummers sang around the drum, the dancers danced around the grassy arena, and the spectators watched in awe, as the beat of the drum echoed upward from Trophy Point overlooking the Hudson River on a sunny day.

The Keepers of the Peace powwow, the first Native American powwow to be held at West Point in its 208-year history had begun on Sunday, May 2. The powwow started with the grand entry of the dancers, entering the dance arena from the east, the direction of the rising sun.

‘Spirits still crying’ of residential-school children who died unknown



The freak accident that killed Joe Harper’s friend Joseph at the Cross Lake residential school was bad enough. But it still rankles Harper, 50 years on, that Joseph died in obscurity.

“There was never a funeral for him,” said Harper, as he stood outside one of the tents Thursday at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s first national event, which is being held in Winnipeg this week.

“I don’t even know how his parents ever found out.”

Besides Joseph, who was injured and died while sliding down a hill onto a frozen lake, Harper said many Cross Lake students, including himself, suffered from chronic tuberculosis, and there were many students who never made it home.

Tribal internship students energize alternative fuel science

Tribal lands make up only five percent of the United States’ total land area, but represent enormous potential for the production of renewable energy. The 55 million acres of land across the nation controlled by Native American tribes can potentially produce an estimated 535 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from wind power and more than 17 trillion kilowatt-hours from solar energy. These projections are equivalent to more than four times the amount of electricity generated annually in the United States, and represent new economic and employment opportunities for many Native American communities.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, together with the U.S. Department of the Interior, are working together to help educate future tribal leaders on energy resource development and environmental evaluations by offering several hands-on learning opportunities such as Tribal Energy Internships and the Indian Education Renewable Energy Challenge.

To recruit and train the next generation of tribal energy and natural resource management professionals, Argonne hosts a unique summer internship program – now in its second year – specifically for American Indian and Alaska Native college students. This year’s program includes interns participating from the following tribes: Quapaw, Navajo, Shoshone Bannock, Seneca Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai, and Eastern Shoshone, Cherokee.

Miskito Women Fight on Nature’s Side

Seven years ago, in the isolated Honduran region of Mosquitia, on the Caribbean coast, a group of women, mostly single mothers, elderly or widowed, overcame their fear and timidity — thanks in part to a waste recycling project.

They decided to break from the “machismo” of the local culture and organised themselves in the Association of Indigenous Miskito Women on the Atlantic coast (MIMAT – Miskito Miskitu Indian Mairinka Asla Takanka, in the Miskito language).

MIMAT took on the clean-up of the largest lagoon in the area and the streets of the six municipalities that make up eastern Mosquitia, a natural region shared with Nicaragua, with the Honduran part covering 16,630 square kilometres.

Cherokee Elder Care Named Outstanding Program for Achievements in Aging

Cherokee Elder Care has been named as the recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Program for the Achievements in Aging Award by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.  The award was presented during the recent Oklahoma Conference on Aging in Tulsa.

“Cherokee Elder Care is extremely honored by this award, especially since we are a relatively new program in Oklahoma.  This award is really a recognition of the dedication and skill of our employees; they are the ones that give life to the PACE (Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) concept and make it become an important part of our participants’ lives,” said Ben Stevens, program director for Cherokee Elder Care.  “We also commend the Cherokee Nation for having the foresight to see the value of PACE for all the elders in our service area.”


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Ancient America: Paquime

( – promoted by oke)

In Northern Mexico, in what is now the state of Chihuahua, the trading town of Paquimé (also known as Casas Grandes) developed and blossomed between 1150 and 1450. The people of Paquimé were more closely affiliated with the Mesoamerican civilizations to their south than to their North American Southwestern neighbors-Mogollon and Hohokam-to the north who occupied the present-day states of Arizona and New Mexico.  

Some archaeologists feel that Paquimé originally began with a Mogollon-like nucleus of people who capitalized on Hohokam precedents for its early community architecture and water control. In the early stages of its development, Paquimé consisted of groups of shallow pithouses which were arranged around a larger community house. Like other Indian cultures at this time (1,500 years ago), they were raising corn, beans, and squash. They supplemented these agricultural foods by hunting wild game and collecting wild plants. They manufactured simple brown pottery.

In the next stage of its development, Paquimé seems to have been influenced by the Hohokam in Arizona. They began to build rectangular surface houses with walls of tightly spaced vertical posts which were plastered with clay. The roofs were constructed of timbers which were covered with brush and grass and then plastered with clay.

Then the town blossomed after an Anasazi infusion of immigrants. At this time (about 1,000 year ago) they began building single-story adobe-walled room blocks. The characteristics of these room blocks are T-shaped doorways (like those of the Anasazi in Chaco Canyon in New Mexico), raised fire hearths, and stairways.

Even with these northern origins and influences from the Mogollon, Hohokam, and Anasazi, Paquimé was more oriented toward Mesoamerica for trade and cultural customs. About 800 years ago, this influence from Mesoamerica brought about a flourishing of Paquimé. They built ceremonial mounds and ballcourts similar to the Mesoamerican cities to the south.

The people of Paquimé built adobe houses that were six and seven stories in height. These apartments offered residents an airy living space. Occupants were using heated sleeping platforms, raised platform cooking hearths, and domestic running water. By 1300, the town had a population of about 2,500 people.

At its height, Paquimé covered 88 acres. Its horseshoe-shaped apartment complex overlooked public areas to the west, south, and north. The apartment complex included a public plaza as well as private courtyards. In addition to living quarters and domestic storage, the complex also had a subterranean well, a sweat bath, nesting boxes for turkeys and macaws, artisan work areas, and ceremonial rooms.

In addition to raising crops in irrigated fields, the people of Paquimé bred and raised turkeys as well as macaws. The scarlet and soldier macaws were highly valued for ceremony, display, and trade.

The public areas at Paquimé included an open market, effigy mounds, ceremonial mounds, and ballcourts. Unlike the Anasazi pueblos to the north, there were no kivas (underground ceremonial chambers).

One of the effigy mounds was shaped like a snake and may have been a symbol of the Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl. Quetzalcoatl was identified with the planet Venus, wind, war, and human sacrifice. The symbol of Quetzalcoatl-a serpent with a feathered plume-was found frequently in the monuments, jewelry, ceramics, and rock art.

Images of another Mesoamerican deity, Tlaloc, were also found at Paquimé. Tlaloc was associated with storms and water, and priests at Paquimé may have sacrificed children to Tlaloc at springs and ponds.

Another effigy mound is shaped like a bird (perhaps a beheaded turkey). There is also a mound structure shaped like a cross which is aligned with the cardinal directions and helps mark the passage of the seasons. One of the truncated pyramidal mounds served as a signal platform and another was used for elite burials and ritual celebrations.

One of the city’s two ballcourts was T-shaped and was attached to one of the most elaborate sections of the apartment complex. This area served as the setting for some of Paquimé’s most important religious ceremonies. Within the area marked by the walls of this ballcourt, the priests re-enacted mythical games.

The town of Paquimé was a major trading center and through this center luxury goods such as shells, copper, macaws, and pottery made their way into Arizona and New Mexico from Mesoamerica. The people of Paquimé were known for making copper bells and ornaments. Artisans used shells imported from the Gulf of California to craft necklaces, pendants, bracelets, rings, and musical instruments. Using quartz crystal pestles, chipped stone gravers, and stone abraders, the artisans produced beads from Olividae and Conidae shells, as well as cut and incised pendants. These items were used in religious rituals and were exported to distant trading partners.

Paquimé potters produced both effigies and painted vessels which showed men, women, macaws, owls, snakes, badgers, fish, lizards, and mountain sheep. The images were detailed enough so that modern scientists can identify the actual animal species.

Itinerant traders connected the community with both the Mesoamerican civilizations to the south and to the North American Southwestern Pueblos to the north. Some archaeologists refer to the trading network as the “Aztlan Mercantile System.” The trading network linked the civilizations in the Valley of Mexico with northern Mexican and the Southwestern United States. The stock in trade for these itinerant traders included fabric, smoking pipes, tobacco, metal objects, turquoise, cacao, and ceramics. They also transported macaws from the rainforests of Central America, across the deserts of northern Mexico, to Paquimé. Somehow, they managed to keep the birds alive during the trip.

Paquimé was destroyed about 1450 by an enemy people who burned the city and killed several hundred men, women, and children. The bodies of the dead were left where they fell. In addition, the precious breeding macaws and turkeys were left in their pens to die of neglect.

Paquime 1

Paquime 4

Paquime 7

Ancient America: Effigy Mounds

Our American and Canadian heritage begins long before Columbus supposedly “discovered” the Americas. For thousands of years people have lived in North America and they built cities and towns which were, and still are, architectural wonders. More than a thousand years ago, Indian people in the Midwest were making earthen structures-often referred to as “mounds”-in a variety of shapes. Many of these structures have geometric shapes: linear, conical, and oval. Others, however, seem to resemble birds and animals, both real and mythical. For this reason, these earthen structures have come to be known as Effigy Mounds. Archaeologists today use the term “Effigy Mound Culture” in referring  to the thousands of effigy mounds that were constructed in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota from 700 AD to 1030 AD.

The construction of an effigy mound would usually begin by digging out a depression, a precise intaglio of the shape of the mound. Then successive layers of differently colored soils-called “ceremonial earths” by the archaeologists-would be laid down. The soils were brought to the mound in baskets. In between the ceremonial earths, the builders would lay down common soils and fire blackened strata. The fire blackened strata are black in color and rich in ash. Some archaeologists feel that the fire blackened strata mark episodes of especially intense ritual activity.

When completed an effigy mound may rise to five feet about the surrounding terrain. With regard to overall size, it is not uncommon to have mounds that are more than 100 feet in length. In Wisconsin, the bird effigy mound on the Mendota State Hospital has a wingspan of 624 feet. One effigy mound, now destroyed but mapped in the nineteenth century, had a wingspan of nearly 1,300 feet.

There are eight different types of effigies which are generally recognized: panther, bear, bird, deer, buffalo, turtle, canine, and beaver. In addition to these animal effigies, about five human figures have been identified. There are some writers who have reported effigies of squirrel, raccoon, mink, lizard, and elephant. However, it must be understood that the current categorization of the effigies is based on the imaginations of people who didn’t build them. There is no guarantee that the name given to an effigy accurately reflects the intentions of the people who constructed it.

Effigy mounds were usually constructed on an elevated area which overlooks streams and lakes. While an area may contain only a single mound,  groups up to 20-30 mounds are fairly common. The Harper’s Ferry Great Group in Iowa includes 895 mounds.

Many of the mounds contain burials. Most frequently there is a single grave. While this grave usually contains only one individual, there are a number of cases with graves containing two or more individuals. In one instance-Mound 1 at Kratz Creek in Wisconsin-there is a mass burial of 45 individuals, and in another instance-Mound 66 at Riasbeck, there is a mass burial of 35 individuals.

Charred human bones are occasionally found in the mounds, and the immense beds of ash at Kratz Creek suggest that cremation may have been common.

The effigy mounds are undoubtedly interesting cultural features on the landscape, but what do we know about the people who built them? Why did they build them? What importance did they have for native culture?

The archaeological record does not tell us a great deal about the Effigy Mound Culture. First, the mounds themselves contain very few artifacts. Unlike the Hopewell mound builders, the Effigy Mound people did not lavish grave goods upon their deceased. Most of the mound fills are sterile with regard to artifacts.

Second, the Effigy Mounds were not constructed as a part of a city, village, or other community. They appear to be located well away from habitation sites and therefore the archaeologists do not have any of the day-to-day refuse which is so important in reconstructing lifestyles of the past.

Third, it is difficult to associate a particular habitation site with the Effigy Mounds.  It would appear that at this time people are living in fairly small groups and so there are few, if any, intensively occupied sites which would provide archaeologists with data about their lives.

What archaeologists do know about the Effigy Mound people includes:

The cultural inventory of the Effigy Mound Culture includes ceramics, projectile points, chipped stone tools, ground stone tools, indigenous copper, and technologies for working bone and antler.

They have cordmarked pottery which archaeologists have categorized as Madison ware.

The fishing gear includes barbed bone harpoon points and notched stone netsinkers. This indicates that fish were a part of their diet.

Woodworking tools include copper wedges/celts and ground stone adzes and celts. This indicates two important things: (1) they were probably good woodworkers, and (2) they were not a “stone-age” culture as they were using copper tools.

Hideworking tools include deer bone beamers and bone and copper awls. This is an indication of the importance of hunting, particularly big-game hunting, in their culture.

They made clay elbow pipes. The pipes have expanding trumpet-like bowls with elbows ranging from as high as 90° to as low as nearly 0°.

There are a number of things missing from their cultural inventory. First, there is the absence of grinding stones, hoes, and other tools normally associated with intensive plant collecting, processing, and/or cultivation. There is some evidence that cultivated plants, including corn, were grown and consumed, but it appears that there was little reliance on this food source. Corn may have been a ritual food rather than a part of the everyday diet.

Second, the habitation sites do not have any storage pits or structures. This suggests that habitation sites were temporary, seasonal sites which would be consistent with hunting and gathering rather than agriculture.

Third, there is an absence of non-local materials, such as marine shells and exotic lithics (such as obsidian). This may be interpreted as a lack of trade with other people.

All of this has led archaeologists to describe the Effigy Mound people as having a foraging subsistence pattern (that is, they were hunters and gatherers) with little dependence on agriculture. The data seems to suggest that they had a nomadic lifestyle. The seasonal cycle of the Effigy Mound Culture people involved:

harvesting nuts and deer in the late fall, winter, and early spring.

fishing and gathering resources from a lowland area in the late spring, summer, and early fall.

Planting gardens in late spring.

Building mounds in the summer.

As a nomadic, foraging people it is therefore assumed that they had an egalitarian society which included a nonhierarchical political system.  

In West-Central Illinois, the effigy mounds may have been the place where members of different groups could meet to exchange information, maintain alliances, and initiate exogamous relationships. While raiding or warfare appears to have been common, interaction and ritual at such sites would have provided opportunities to minimize hostilities.

One traditional view expressed by many archaeologists is that the effigy mound groups served as integrative mechanisms, the institutional means for coordinating and articulating the cultural activities of numerous hunting and gathering societies. By coming together during the summer, different bands would be able to reinforce their social bonds. Burying the dead in the mounds may be one way to reinforce this association and to tie the groups together.

Some archaeologists have suggested that the Effigy Mound people used both mound construction and rock art as a way of sanctifying the land. In other words, these activities were a way of making the land sacred and associating themselves with this sacred land.

While all of the evidence at the present time suggests that these elaborate, artistic structures were built by hunters and gatherers-disproving the commonly held idea that only agricultural people could build great structures which require the coordinated efforts of many people-we don’t really know why they were built, nor do we really know the role which they played in the Effigy Mound Culture.  

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Thank you for your time and your help!  Together, we can help make a real difference for Indian Country!

Why the Sand Hill Indians Went to the UN

( – promoted by navajo)

On February 17, 2009, the oldest indigenous Native American tribe in New Jersey filed a lawsuit against the State of New Jersey, the Governor of New Jersey, the NJ Secretary of State and the NJ Attorney General for, but not limited to, genocide, treaty, and civil rights violations. That lawsuit is still in Federal Court at this moment.  Because of new evidence, the lawsuit has now increased in scope.  The territory involved now includes the Island of Manhattan, the state of Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey.  Holloway’s tribe has now appealed to the UN for assistance, and the case appears as if it may actually move to the World Court.

Unfortunately, in the State Bar Foundation quarterly newsletter Respect, published Spring 2010, the cover story about NJ’s Native Americans repeats the omissions and inaccuracies in the NJ Indian Commission’s Committee report  that prompted the lawsuit in the first place.  It would appear unethical to have a State Bar Association-funded publication, unwittingly or not, publicly take sides in a currently ongoing litigation case and to quote the defendants’ side of the story exclusively.

http://www.njsbf.org/images/co…

The way the article describes only three tribes of Native Americans in New Jersey, makes it obvious why the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians, headed by Chief Yonaguska Holloway, may not get a fair Federal trial in the State of NJ.  Chief Holloway’s tribe, the only indigenous tribe in the state, isn’t even mentioned in the Committee report that the article is based on nor the article itself.    Neither is their ally, the Ani Tsalagi Oneselagi Northeastern Band, the Cherokee tribe formed here in the 1830’s, headed by Principal Chief Darius TwoBears Ross.

The article quotes the flawed NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs Committee report on Indian tribes in New Jersey:  

“It reflects lingering discrimination, ignorance of state history and culture.”

Interesting take, when you consider that our state history includes former Governors honoring the Sand Hill tribe as far back as the 1940’s when even the Smithsonian listed the Sand Hill as the only indigenous tribe left that still practiced their traditions and arts.  The new Committee that came up with those words actually does not acknowledge the Sand Hill at all.  The tribe was known and treated as such by NJ State Government UNTIL THE CREATION OF THE NJ COMMISSION that wrote the report that denies they exist.  

And

“whose descendants have lived here peacefully and productively for more than 350 years”.

 

The actual historical record – archeologically goes back 1500 years to at least the of bones discovered here that are linked by DNA to the current Chief of the Sand Hill tribe.  The tribe that the NJ Indian Commission will not admit is indigenous and appears nowhere in this article.

“Reports estimate approximately 20,000 New Jersey citizens belong to one of the three tribes that are indigenous to the state.  Those tribes include the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape of Cumberland and Salem Counties, the Powhatan Renape of Burlington County, and the Ramapough Lenape of Mahwah and Ringwood.”

The problem is, the Powhatan and Nanticoke only came to NJ in the 1970’s.  These two tribes are NOT indigenous to NJ.  John Norwood – a Tribal Councilman of the Nanticokes states:  

“We have never looked like the southwestern stereotype.  That we never lived in teepees in New Jersey…That Playing Indian by wearing our regalia and misappropriating our cultural and spiritual practices is insulting to many of us.”

 

Of course they wouldn’t have lived in teepees in NJ. The Nanticokes only moved here in the 1970’s. The 1970’s.  It is ironic that the tribe lamenting the misappropriation of their culture moved here in the 1970’s, took the name of Lenape and now appears to be preventing recognition of the Lenape tribe that was already here.  

The interesting thing is – the Ramapough, who had been known by the Smithsonian up till the 1970’s as the Jackson Whites, is closer to what the Commission considers “inter-tribal” people – those not in an official tribe.  They are a 501.c3 with a CEO – not a Chief.  They are a mix of Dutch, African, Lenape, Cherokee, AND Tuscarora.  While the Sand Hill are the Lenape – the very folks who were here for not just 350 years – but THOUSANDS of years, who met Henry Hudson in 1609 and then married the Cherokee who migrated here in 1711 after the Cherokee were displaced from the Southern states.

While it may appear heartening on the surface to see a story raising the issue of discrimination against the Native Americans in NJ, it is painfully ironic that this article, in a publication by lawyers, neglects to mention the most egregious case of discrimination against Native Americans in recent history, the alleged attempt to completely erase from NJ history any mention of the two oldest tribes left in NJ.  The Smithsonian in 1948 listed the Sand Hill tribe as the only indigenous tribe left in the state of NJ still practicing their customs, language and arts.  The Ani Tsalagi are descendents of the Cherokee that migrated here in the early 1700’s as well as those who came to NJ during the Trail of Tears and formed the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band in the 1830’s.  They are not mentioned in the article, while the three “groups” currently represented on the NJ Indian Commission, The Ramapough (not a tribe), Nanticokes (not indigenous), and Powhatan (also not indigenous) are mentioned as though all three are NJ indigenous tribes.

This appears to be an epic case of identity theft. In recent years, the Chief of the Nanticokes – who have attempted to build a casino in Alpine NJ, of all places – accidentally, publicly admitted his tribe only came to NJ only in the 1970’s.  The Nanticokes, in fact, came only at the invitation of Sam Beeler, internationally known and respected former Chief of the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians – and the very man the Nanticokes appear now to deny even knowing.

The Powhatan tribe – which every 4th grader knows as Pocohontas’ tribe – is from Virginia.  But, Pocohontas was not a Jersey girl.  Again, in proof that no good deed goes unpunished, Sam Beeler was the one who extended an invitation to the Powhatans to set up a home here in NJ – in the 1970’s.  They too, now allegedly disavow even knowing the man.  To acknowledge him is to perhaps acknowledge that he is telling the truth and that they are NOT indigenous to NJ.  (Recently it is rumored that the Powhatans are allegedly under investigation by the IRS for disappearing Federal money that should have gone to the indigenous tribes.)

Now, the Ramapough are quite another story, altogether.  The Ramapough were known only as the Jackson Whites until the 1970’s, when Sam Beeler tried to help them also.  The Smithsonian in 1948 identified the “Jackson Whites” as a mestizo people, a group who are not a tribe, but a diverse collection of people (Dutch, African, Lenape, Cherokee, AND Tuscarora) who make a group by living in the same place and intermarrying.   In the 1970’s, Sam Beeler helped them set up a non-profit organization and gave them a new name.  This is when the name Ramapough came to be used to describe the group that had been known as the Jackson Whites even by the Smithsonian, up until the 1970’s.  

It appears that the NJ Indian Commission is not concerned about the actual history of the last two real Indian Tribes of NJ, but only the “history” of the 3 “groups” represented on the Commission – groups that are either not indigenous to NJ or not an actual tribe.  Autumn Wind Scott, the current Chair of the NJ Indian Commission, who claims Ramapough descent, is quoted extensively throughout the Bar Association’s article.  

When I spoke to representatives of the Sand Hill, they said to me “We hope the NJ Indian Commission keeps it up.  They are making our case”.  The Indian Commission appears to be giving actual proof of the pattern of alleged actions by the State of New Jersey designed to rob the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians and Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band of their history, heritage, artifacts, and sovereign rights.

How did this get so out of hand?  You have to go back at least 10 years.  That was when Chief Lone Bear Revey died.  Lone Bear for many decades had been the well known public face of the Native Americans in NJ and well known to Trenton as well as the force behind getting the Waterloo Village Lenape display up and running.  He was chief of the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians until shortly before his death in 1998 when he named Sam Beeler to succeed him as Chief and as head of the NJ Indian Office. Lone Bear was barely in the ground before Crazy Horse of the Powhatans pushed to create the NJ Indian Commission, even though Lone Bear’s NJ Indian Office had been serving that role for many, many years – and still is.  

In a recent move reminiscent of the battle over schoolbooks in Texas teaching creationism, the NJ Indian Commission appears to be promoting a version of NJ state history to be taught in our schools.  The newsletter with the article in question was found in a pile given out in a school.

“Autumn Wind Scott said that efforts are under way to expand the core curriculum standards in New Jersey to include lessons about the history of New Jersey’s indigenous people – a content area that she said is sorely lacking.”

 

The reason it is sorely lacking is because any version of NJ history that omits the Sand Hill while teaching that the Nanticokes and Powhatan are indigenous to NJ is not history, it is fiction. However, the curriculum Autumn Wind appears to be promoting wipes out the heritage, culture, arts and language of a population of Native American tribal members that still resides in NJ after thousands of years and has never left – the Lenape – as well as our Cherokee tribe whose family members suffered during the Trail of Tears.  Native Americans who, it appears, the Commission doesn’t deem fit to even mention, nor give a voice to.  

The Committee’s report also

“called out statements by uninformed or bigoted teachers who claim that there are no American Indian tribal groups in New Jersey.”

An ironic statement considering the Committee refuses to acknowledge the two OLDEST tribes in the state.

Not only is the re-education happening in the school arena.  The State Archives have also been rumored to be sanitized, and artifacts belonging to the NJ Sand Hill tribe have already been removed from museums.  In addition, pressure has been applied – Chief Holloway has been physically threatened, followed, his home broken into, and his brake lines cut.  It is alleged that attorneys who initially agreed to take on this case have been threatened with blacklisting for representing Chief Holloway’s tribe.  It appears the effort to erase Chief Holloway’s tribe from history extends to the internet as well.  Wikipedia has been edited to include only the “groups” on the Commission, and I and other bloggers have been threatened with lawsuits for simply blogging about this case.  Other bloggers have also been harassed for being sympathetic to Chief Holloway’s tribe, allegedly by members of the NJ Indian Commission. The folks who threatened lawsuits against me had members of the Commission copied on those emails.  I have even found online letters sent to historians around the state that attempt to discredit Chief Holloway’s side of the story.  It appears to be a concerted and ham-fisted effort to erase Chief Holloway’s tribe, deliberate and widespread and with a paper trail for these actions going back ten years.

Most recently, I was informed that the Federal Government notified an oil company interested in drilling off the NJ coastline who wanted to speak with Native American tribes, to speak with the only indigenous tribe left – The Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee.  However, it appears that someone in Trenton allegedly intervened and excluded Chief Holloway and his tribe from that meeting.  (Not surprisingly, a fee of 6 million of dollars was involved.)

According to the article:  

“It is believed that changes sought must begin with legislation that officially recognizes the three Native American tribes indigenous to New Jersey.  A bill is now pending in the New Jersey legislature that provides official state recognition of these tribes  ‘for the limited purpose of assisting these tribes in establishing eligibility for federal education, job training, and housing benefits and federal protection for the sale of artwork and of the right to engage in traditional religious practices and ceremonies.”

The bill mentioned sounds suspiciously like Senator Loretta Weinberg’s bill, which she wrote to give the Sand Hill and the Ani Tsalagi tribes representation on the Commission.  The new bill allegedly states boldly that the Ramapough, Nanticokes and Powhatans are indigenous tribes to NJ.  None of the tribes on the Commission had to prove their background before being appointed to the Commission. It is rumored that because of the recent Federal investigation into millions of dollars missing that were to go to NJ’s indigenous tribes, under scrutiny, the Powhatans and Nanticokes have finally admitted to the Federal government that they are not indigenous to NJ and have only been here since the 1970’s.  What the Commission could not do with the truth or evidence, they appear to be attempting with legislation.  The only problem is, when the three “tribes” on the Commission went to the BIA for Federal Recognition ALL THREE TRIBES were turned down because the Powhatans are from Virginia and the Nanticokes from Delaware, and the Ramapough Indians are a non-profit organization, not a tribe.  

It also appears that Judge Hayden, the Federal judge who has been allegedly stalling this trial since last year, has taken early retirement, though no one involved in the case has been formally notified.  It would appear that the Federal Government has finally stepped in, but they have not reached out directly to Chief Holloway.

As the Federal government appears to play ostrich and while the NJ Indian Commission appears to be re-writing history, the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians are using this time to gather the evidence they need to make their case that much more ironclad. And as the Federal government appears to drag their feet and avoid the inevitable negotiating table, the stakes get bigger.  As members of the NJ Indian Commission continue what appears to be a crazy version of whack-a-mole to eliminate any mention of the two oldest tribes in the state from history as well as the internet (good luck with that one), AND our schools, the case has gone international.  The ridiculousness of the situation is that a simple sit-down with President Obama could go a long way toward resolving what is turning into an epic saga.  I have met these folks and have been trying to tell their story for 2 years now.  They are patient and reasonable people, but everyone has a limit.  Justice delayed is justice denied, and as their rights have been trampled ever since they reached out a hand to Henry Hudson 400 years ago, patience is wearing thin.

Many Americans today regret the horrific way the First Americans were treated throughout our history.  Here is our Federal government’s chance to make a difference.  With the very last Native American tribe left who never subjugated themselves to the Federal Government or signed away their land.  

Last Lakotah code talker dies

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Clarence Wolf Guts, the last Lakotah code talker, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 86, at the South Dakota State Veterans Home in Hot Springs. During World War II, he transmitted vital messages for U.S. forces in a code that the enemy could not break:  his native language.

At the age of 18, he enlisted with the U.S. Army and was assigned to the Pacific theater where he transmitted messages in a Lakota-based code that the enemy could not translate. Lakota and other indigenous languages, long discouraged by educational institutions, would play a critical role in winning the war.

The Story of Clarence Wolf Guts

Much about Clarence Wolf Guts is confusing, beginning with his name. He doesn’t know what he was called when he was born on Feb. 26, 1924 in the Red Leaf community on the Rosebud Reservation of south central South Dakota. His birth certificate lists him as Eagle Elk, but his father and uncles soon decided to give him a more unusual name – Wolf Guts.

Clarence learned Lakota from his grandparents; but, later, boarding school teachers discouraged him from speaking it. His experience was not unique.

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, many American Indian children attended government- or church-operated boarding schools. Families were often forced to send their children to these schools, where they were forbidden to speak their Native languages. Many Code Talkers attended boarding schools. As adults, they found it puzzling that the same government that had tried to take away their languages in schools later gave them a critical role speaking their languages in military service. (Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian)

Clarence served his country enthusiastically and unselfishly. When a general asked Clarence to help with coded communications, he responded, “I don’t want no rank, I don’t want no money. I just want to do what I can to protect America and our way of life.”

Hear Clarence Wolf Guts in an interview (audio recording).

Contributions of the Code Talkers

The website of the National Museum of the American Indian includes a short history of the code talkers.  The Congressional Record of June 18, 2002, includes this acknowledgement of the specific contributions of “Sioux” code talkers.

1. Sioux Indians used their native languages, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota Sioux, as code during World War 11.

2. These people, who manned radio communications networks to advise of enemy actions, became known as the Sioux Code Talkers.

3. Under some of the heaviest combat action, the Code Talkers worked around the clock to provide information which saved the lives of many Americans in the Pacific and Europe, such as the location of enemy troops and the number of enemy guns.

4. The Sioux Code Talkers were so successful that military commanders credit the code with saving the lives of countless American soldiers and being instrumental to the success of the United States in many battles during World War II.

Recognition

For decades, details of the code talkers program were classified. After the program was declassified, Congress passed laws formally recognizing their contributions. Navajo code talkers received medals in 2001.  But, it would be another seven years before Congress passed the “Code Talkers Recognition Act,” authorizing medals for representatives of other tribes that served in World Wars I and II. By then, only two Lakota code talkers were still alive, including Charles Whitepipe and Clarence Wolf Guts.

See the CSPAN video and transcript of June 18, 2003 House Hearing on “Code Talkers Recognition Act.”

Roll of Lakota Code Talkers

Eleven Lakota code talkers mentioned by name in the Congressional Record (2002 Code Talkers Recognition Act). As of last Wednesday, all have passed away.

Eddie Eagle Boy, Simon Brokeleg, Iver Crow Eagle, Sr., Edmund St. John, Walter C. John, John Bear King, Phillip “Stoney” LaBlanc, Baptiste Pumpkinseed, Guy Rondell, Charles Whitepipe, Clarence Wolfguts.

May the world forever remember their courage and patriotism, so long hidden from public awareness.

Tributes

“I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Clarence Wolf Guts. He and his fellow Code Talkers have had a lasting impact on the course of history and helped lead the Allies to success during World War II.  He will be greatly missed, but his contributions to our state and nation will live on.” – Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota)

“Clarence Wolf Guts was an American hero; he was courageous and self-sacrificing. I have a great deal of respect for Clarence and for the extraordinary contributions Mr. Wolf Guts made to our country. The efforts of the Lakota Code Talkers saved the lives of many soldiers, and for too long went unrecognized. Kimberley and I wish to express our sympathy to his family during this difficult time.” – Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota)

Endangered Languages

As with other indigenous languages, fluency in the Lakota language continued to dwindle after the War. In 1969, schools and organizations on the Pine Ridge Reservation began trying to reverse that trend. It has been a struggle, though. Elders, who now make up 60% of the speakers, were punished as children for practicing Lakotah language and culture, which are entwined and inextricable.

Many elders here blame the language’s downfall on Catholic boarding schools, where they were sent as children. Lakota culture and language were forbidden.

Philomine Lakota, now a Red Cloud Indian School language teacher with wide-set shoulders and a commanding presence in the classroom, attended a boarding school, where speaking the language was akin to rebellion and was promptly followed with punishment.

The sting of a ruler slapped against the back of her hand still burns in her memory, as does gagging and choking while they washed her mouth out with soap.

It is no easy task to preserve a language in an environment dominated by another.  But, can the world afford to lose a language in which the word for child, wakahyeja, translates as “sacred being?” A language with no word for hate? I think not.

Hear the Lakota language here and here. Read more about indigenous languages in Indians 101:  American Indian Languages, by Daily Kos diarist Ojibwa.

Precious Legacies

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives in 2002, offered this assessment of the value of native languages.

Without the valiant efforts of these patriotic members from many of our Native American communities, our Armed Forces would not have been able to deceive our enemies as effectively as they did. The rare beauty and intricacy of our Native American languages turned out to be our most secret of weapons, and to our code talkers, America owes a great debt of gratitude.

Our code talkers are an example of how the richness of our American heritage became a strength that no adversary could possibly match or overcome. America’s freedom endures because our military commanders turned the linguistic heritage of our Native American tribes into an unprecedented asset of warfare.

Services for Clarence Wolf Guts

Traditional Lakota services for Clarence Wolf Guts will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 22, at the TNT Center.  Burial with full military honors will take place at Black Hills National Cemetery at 2 p.m.

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Sand Hill Indians now Claim Manhattan

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On February 17, 2009, the oldest indigenous Native American tribe in NJ filed a lawsuit against the State of NJ, Governor Corzine, and his Administration, as well as the NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs. That lawsuit is still in Federal Court at this moment and has NOT been dismissed.

In fact, the scope of the case has expanded exponentially.  As of a new filing on June 16, 2010, the territory now includes the Island of Manhattan & Hudson areas, the State of Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey.

The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape & Cherokee Indians (the Sand Hill) headed by Chief Yonaguska Holloway has appealed to the UN for assistance.  The UN is now representing the tribe and the case may actually move to The Hague if the tribe does not get justice through the American courts and through negotiations with the United States.

Judge Hayden, the Federal Judge who allegedly has been stalling this trial since last year, has taken early retirement, although no one involved in the case has been formally notified.

It’s rumored that the Federal government has finally stepped in, but they have not reached out directly to Chief Holloway.  As the Federal government appears to drag their feet and avoid the inevitable negotiating table, the stakes are getting bigger.

The Sand Hill are using this time to gather the evidence they need to make their case that much more ironclad.  Just over the past few months they have gathered more evidence of their claim not only to NJ but Manhattan, Delaware, and Eastern PA.

What began as a lawsuit in one state is morphing into the largest land claim ever made by Native Americans and is precedent-setting for the rest of the Indian Nations.  The problem confronting the Federal Government appears to be their inability to figure out how to even begin approaching this matter with the Sand Hills.

The ridiculousness of the situation is that a simple sit-down with President Obama over iced tea and pizza could go a long way towards resolving what is turning into a territorial crisis for the United States.

The Sand Hill are a patient and reasonable people, but everyone has a limit.  Justice delayed is justice denied, and as their rights have been trampled ever since they reached out a hand to Henry Hudson 400 year ago, their patience is now wearing thin.

It appears that the sheer magnitude of the situation is preventing any progress at all.  But like any other overwhelming problem, resolutions often begin with a simple conversation.

So far, only one NJ Congressman’s office (Congressman Steve Rothman) has had the foresight to contact representatives of the Sand Hill after Chief Holloway’s speech at the United Nations.  On three separate occasions thereafter, the Sand Hill Government Liaison contacted Rothman’s office.  The last time was to notify the Congressman of the latest filing and to request a meeting with him.   As of this writing there has been no acknowledgement of receiving either the motion or the request.

It might behoove the Congressman, as this is an election year, to get ahead of the situation, and score a political coup by meeting with Chief Holloway as a first step towards getting the Federal Government to the table without pressure from the United Nations.

I am seriously advising my elected officials to meet with Chief Holloway while his hand is still outstretched.  I have interviewed Chief Holloway about this many times over the past two years.  He has always been and still is willing to discuss this matter with the appropriate Federal officials in order to reach a reasonable conclusion.

Sand Hill Indians now Claim Manhattan

On February 17, 2009, the oldest indigenous Native American tribe in NJ filed a lawsuit against the State of NJ, Governor Corzine, and his Administration, as well as the NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs. That lawsuit is still in Federal Court at this moment and has NOT been dismissed.

In fact, the scope of the case has expanded exponentially.  As of a new filing on June 16, 2010, the territory now includes the Island of Manhattan & Hudson areas, the State of Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey.

The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape & Cherokee Indians (the Sand Hill) headed by Chief Yonaguska Holloway has appealed to the UN for assistance.  The UN is now representing the tribe and the case may actually move to The Hague if the tribe does not get justice through the American courts and through negotiations with the United States.

Judge Hayden, the Federal Judge who allegedly has been stalling this trial since last year, has taken early retirement, although no one involved in the case has been formally notified.

It’s rumored that the Federal government has finally stepped in, but they have not reached out directly to Chief Holloway.  As the Federal government appears to drag their feet and avoid the inevitable negotiating table, the stakes are getting bigger.

The Sand Hill are using this time to gather the evidence they need to make their case that much more ironclad.  Just over the past few months they have gathered more evidence of their claim not only to NJ but Manhattan, Delaware, and Eastern PA.

What began as a lawsuit in one state is morphing into the largest land claim ever made by Native Americans and is precedent-setting for the rest of the Indian Nations.  The problem confronting the Federal Government appears to be their inability to figure out how to even begin approaching this matter with the Sand Hills.

The ridiculousness of the situation is that a simple sit-down with President Obama over iced tea and pizza could go a long way towards resolving what is turning into a territorial crisis for the United States.

The Sand Hill are a patient and reasonable people, but everyone has a limit.  Justice delayed is justice denied, and as their rights have been trampled ever since they reached out a hand to Henry Hudson 400 year ago, their patience is now wearing thin.

It appears that the sheer magnitude of the situation is preventing any progress at all.  But like any other overwhelming problem, resolutions often begin with a simple conversation.

So far, only one NJ Congressman’s office (Congressman Steve Rothman) has had the foresight to contact representatives of the Sand Hill after Chief Holloway’s speech at the United Nations.  On three separate occasions thereafter, the Sand Hill Government Liaison contacted Rothman’s office.  The last time was to notify the Congressman of the latest filing and to request a meeting with him.   As of this writing there has been no acknowledgement of receiving either the motion or the request.

It might behoove the Congressman, as this is an election year, to get ahead of the situation, and score a political coup by meeting with Chief Holloway as a first step towards getting the Federal Government to the table without pressure from the United Nations.

I am seriously advising my elected officials to meet with Chief Holloway while his hand is still outstretched.  I have interviewed Chief Holloway about this many times over the past two years.  He has always been and still is willing to discuss this matter with the appropriate Federal officials in order to reach a reasonable conclusion.

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Sand Hill Indians now Claim Manhattan

On February 17, 2009, the oldest indigenous Native American tribe in NJ filed a lawsuit against the State of NJ, Governor Corzine, and his Administration, as well as the NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs. That lawsuit is still in Federal Court at this moment and has NOT been dismissed.

In fact, the scope of the case has expanded exponentially.  As of a new filing on June 16, 2010, the territory now includes the Island of Manhattan & Hudson areas, the State of Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey.

The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape & Cherokee Indians (the Sand Hill) headed by Chief Yonaguska Holloway has appealed to the UN for assistance.  The UN is now representing the tribe and the case may actually move to The Hague if the tribe does not get justice through the American courts and through negotiations with the United States.

Judge Hayden, the Federal Judge who allegedly has been stalling this trial since last year, has taken early retirement, although no one involved in the case has been formally notified.

It’s rumored that the Federal government has finally stepped in, but they have not reached out directly to Chief Holloway.  As the Federal government appears to drag their feet and avoid the inevitable negotiating table, the stakes are getting bigger.

The Sand Hill are using this time to gather the evidence they need to make their case that much more ironclad.  Just over the past few months they have gathered more evidence of their claim not only to NJ but Manhattan, Delaware, and Eastern PA.

What began as a lawsuit in one state is morphing into the largest land claim ever made by Native Americans and is precedent-setting for the rest of the Indian Nations.  The problem confronting the Federal Government appears to be their inability to figure out how to even begin approaching this matter with the Sand Hills.

The ridiculousness of the situation is that a simple sit-down with President Obama over iced tea and pizza could go a long way towards resolving what is turning into a territorial crisis for the United States.

The Sand Hill are a patient and reasonable people, but everyone has a limit.  Justice delayed is justice denied, and as their rights have been trampled ever since they reached out a hand to Henry Hudson 400 year ago, their patience is now wearing thin.

It appears that the sheer magnitude of the situation is preventing any progress at all.  But like any other overwhelming problem, resolutions often begin with a simple conversation.

So far, only one NJ Congressman’s office (Congressman Steve Rothman) has had the foresight to contact representatives of the Sand Hill after Chief Holloway’s speech at the United Nations.  On three separate occasions thereafter, the Sand Hill Government Liaison contacted Rothman’s office.  The last time was to notify the Congressman of the latest filing and to request a meeting with him.   As of this writing there has been no acknowledgement of receiving either the motion or the request.

It might behoove the Congressman, as this is an election year, to get ahead of the situation, and score a political coup by meeting with Chief Holloway as a first step towards getting the Federal Government to the table without pressure from the United Nations.

I am seriously advising my elected officials to meet with Chief Holloway while his hand is still outstretched.  I have interviewed Chief Holloway about this many times over the past two years.  He has always been and still is willing to discuss this matter with the appropriate Federal officials in order to reach a reasonable conclusion.

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Oklahoma Statehood and Indian Nations

( – promoted by navajo)

When Indians nations were removed to Indian Territory in the 1830s they were promised, both verbally and in writing, that in this new territory their tribal sovereignty would be respected. In 1835, President Andrew Jackson said:

“The pledge of the United States has been given by Congress that the country destined for the residence of this people shall be forever ‘secured and guaranteed to them.’ A country west of Missouri and Arkansas has been assigned to them, into which the white settlements are not to be pushed. No political communities can be formed in that extensive region, except those which are established by the Indians themselves or by the United States for them and with their concurrence”

Little by little, however, their lands were reduced. Soon, the American settlers in what had been Indian Territory were talking about statehood and about the dissolution of tribal sovereignty.  

The first formal step toward statehood was the passage of the Oklahoma Organic Act in 1890.  Under this act, a territorial government was established and all of the Indian reservations in what had been Indian Territory were annexed into the new Oklahoma Territory.

As the Oklahoma Territory moved toward statehood in the late nineteenth century, the Territorial Legislature passed laws which began to superimpose some jurisdiction over the Indian nations within the Territory. In 1899, the Territorial Legislature prohibited the practices of Indian medicine men. Those who practiced the incantations and healing ceremonies of the medicine men were subjected to not only fines, but also imprisonment. In addition, Indians were required to be married under American law rather than Indian custom. In a move against the Native American church, the Legislature also made peyote illegal.

In 1901, all members of the Five Civilized Tribes-Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole-were granted citizenship by an act of Congress. This meant that every Indian adult male was a registered voter. This was an attempt to increase the number of voters in the territory so that it could gain statehood.

Not all Indians were happy about the push toward statehood and some Indian leaders, such as Creek chief Pleasant Porter began to advocate the idea of a separate statehood for the Indians. Porter felt that this was the only way in which Indians could truly have a voice in their own affairs. In 1902, Chief Porter called a meeting of the Five Civilized Tribes to discuss alternatives to statehood. However, only representatives from the Creek and Seminole tribes attended. Porter then called for a second meeting, which also failed.

In 1903, the Five Civilized Tribes Executive Committee passed a resolution asking each tribal council to petition Congress for statehood for Indian Territory. While some of the tribes passed such resolutions, Congress had little interest in separate statehood.

In 1905, representatives from the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw nations held a convention at which they drew up a constitution for the state of Sequoyah, which would be separate and distinct from Oklahoma Territory which was seeking statehood. The call for the convention was issued by W.C. Rogers, the Cherokee Principal Chief, and by Green McCurtain, the Choctaw chief. The issue of whether Oklahoma should be one state or two is summed up by the Muskogee Phoenix:

“There are in Indian Territory some few persons who desire two states made of the two territories and who honestly believe this can be done. There are some persons who desire conditions to remain as they now are and who know that to fight for two states is to fight for no statehood legislation, and this makes them especially active.”

The constitutional convention has been characterized as the most representative body of Indians ever assembled in the United States.

The constitution for the state of Sequoyah was submitted to the voters: the turnout was light, but the vote was strongly in favor of it. The measure was then presented to Congress which simply ignored it. Politically, there was never the slightest chance that Congress would consent to the admission of two Western states-both probably radical and probably Democratic. One state was politically a better solution in the eyes of Congressional politicians.

In order to clear the way for Oklahoma statehood, Congress in 1906 passed an Act to Provide for the Final Disposition of the Affairs of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. In other words, Congress unilaterally dissolved five sovereign tribal governments. The Department of the Interior took over the Indian schools, school funds, and tribal government buildings and furniture. The law provided that the President may appoint a principal chief for any of the tribes. If a chief failed to sign a document presented to him by U.S. authorities, he was either to be replaced or the document could be simply approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

In 1906, Congress passed the Oklahoma Enabling Act as one step in the creation of the state of Oklahoma. With regard to Indians, the Act imposed a condition on the state constitution: Oklahoma cannot limit federal authority over Indians within its boundaries.

The state of Oklahoma was created in 1907. The tribal governments in the area were dissolved. The Indians in an area which had been promised to them as their exclusive home constituted only 5% of the population of the new state.

Unlike other western states which have often ignored their Indian heritage, Oklahoma has strongly embraced its heritage and has acknowledged its Indian population. Upon becoming a state, Robert L. Owen (Cherokee) was elected to the United States Senate. Cherokee tribal attorney and former speaker of the Cherokee House of Representatives James S. Davenport was elected to Congress.

Tribal governments continued to function after Oklahoma became a state. The Seminoles, for example, never ceased to maintain their fourteen band organizations with a chief and two councilmen from each, and these forty-two officers met once a month to discuss tribal affairs, appoint committees, and adopt resolutions. In a similar fashion, the other tribes also continued to meet, even though they no longer had formal recognition by the U.S. government.  

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