The Tuscarora and the Iroquois League

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Long before the arrival of the English and French colonists in North America, five autonomous tribes had come together to form an alliance known as the League of Five Nations, or the Iroquois Confederacy. The five member nations were the Onondaga, the Cayuga, the Oneida, the Mohawk, and the Seneca. The purpose of the League was to renounce warfare among the member nations and to present a unified front against other nations. The League was created because of the spiritual vision of one man-Deganawida-and the speaking ability of another-Hiawatha. With the arrival of the French and English colonists in the American Northeast, the League became an important trading partner and power broker.

In 1722 the League of Five Nations became the League of Six Nations when the Tuscarora were admitted to membership. The expansion of the League to include the Tuscarora was brought about by conflicts with the English settlers.  

In 1710, the Tuscarora had the Susquahannock tribe carry a formal petition of peace to the English Provincial Government of Pennsylvania. As a result, two peace commissioners from Pennsylvania met with the Tuscarora chiefs as well as Opessa, the Shawnee head chief at Conestoga. The Tuscarora chiefs delivered eight wampum belts to the English. The first belt was from the women who asked that they might be able to fetch wood and water without danger. The second belt was from the children, including those not yet born, asking for room to play without the fear of death or slavery. The third belt was from the young men who ask to be able to hunt without the fear of death or slavery. The rest of the belts asked for a lasting peace and for a way of communicating with Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania commissioners did not give the requests a favorable reception. At this time, the English did not see the Tuscaroras as presenting any sort of threat. There was no war between the Tuscarora and the English colonists; there had been no massacre by the Tuscarora.  The English felt that there was no reason to agree to peace.

A year later, British traders from North Carolina encouraged the Yamasee and the Creek to attack the Tuscarora. In addition, the British traders supplied guns to the Cherokee with the understanding that these guns would be used against the Tuscarora.  

It was not just the English colonists who were creating problems for the Tuscarora. In 1711, Swiss Baron Christoph von Graffenried founded the colony of New Bern on Tuscarora land in North Carolina without obtaining Tuscarora consent or paying them for it. The Tuscarora, angered by the European land developers who paid little attention to Tuscarora land and to their treaties, captured a surveying party who were laying out the new colony. The captured men were taken to the Tuscarora town of Catechna and tried before a council of chiefs. One of the men, the provincial surveyor-general, was condemned to death and executed.

The Tuscarora attacked the Swiss settlement, killing nearly 200, including 80 children. Concerned about slave-raids from English traders, the Tuscarora expanded the war by raiding frontier farms.  A number of other tribes joined with the Tuscarora in their war against the European invaders.

By 1712, the Tuscarora were involved in a full-scale war against the Europeans colonists in Virginia and the Carolinas. The colonists were regularly attacking Tuscarora villages, killing hundreds, and capturing many Indians who were sold into slavery. The colonists also recruited the Catawba and other tribes in their war of Tuscarora extermination. The English were motivated by their greed for Tuscarora land as well as the profits which could be made through the sale of Tuscarora slaves. The newly captured slaves were generally shipped to the Caribbean slave markets.

The Tuscarora sent wampum belts north to the Iroquois Five Nations asking for help in their fight against the colonists. When the governor of New York heard of this request, he warned the Iroquois not to get involved. The Iroquois promised to ask the Tuscarora to stop fighting if the governor would ask the colonists to put down their arms.

In 1713, a unified force of 800 Creek, Cherokee, and Catawba, together with 100 colonial volunteers from South Carolina, attacked the Tuscarora fortified town of Noeheroka. The attacking force took 192 scalps and 392 slaves.

By 1713, the colonists had defeated the Tuscarora, and settlers began taking not only Tuscarora lands, but also the lands of tribes which had aided the colonists in their war against the Tuscarora. As a result, many Tuscarora families begin to move north and seek shelter in Iroquois communities in Pennsylvania. The following year, a group of about 500 Tuscarora families, fleeing from North Carolina and Virginia, sought refuge among the Iroquois in New York.

When the Iroquois met with the colonial governor of New York in 1718 to renew the Covenant Chain (a trading agreement), the Iroquois expressed their concern that the English were planning to take over their lands as they had done with the Tuscarora. The English explained that the Tuscarora lost their land because they attacked the colonists in the Carolinas. To ease Iroquois fears, the governor gave the Iroquois a quantity of gun powder as a gift.

In 1722, the Tuscarora formally joined the Iroquois and the League of Five Nations becomes the League of Six Nations. As a member of the League, the Tuscarora are considered the younger brothers of the Cayuga. Their chiefs were not sachem chiefs within the league and thus the number of chiefs who sat in council did not change. In New York, the Tuscarora maintained their village between the Oneida and Onondaga villages.  

Sand Hill Case Judges Under Fire

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For any info or questions regarding this story, please email runstream@aol.com

crossposted at Daily Kos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/…

On June 30, 2010 Judge Katherine Hayden ruled that she will NOT allow the last Lenape tribe in NJ to use most of the evidence, facts and data that proves their case.  Things like Title VI, the 14th Amendment, the Ku Klux Klan Act, the Non-Intercourse Act, State contract law, Federal laws protecting burial grounds & artifacts, and enforcement of treaties. Essentially EVERYTHING – laws, facts, precedent, that would result in the oldest Indian Tribe in NJ winning their case.

Before the tribe was represented by legal counsel, Chairman Ronald Holloway, Red Chief in a long line stemming from the original Lenape Blood Chiefs, addressed his tribe’s right to water rights, natural resources, hunting rights and the over 3000 acres of land that from 1758 to 1802 was known as Brotherton Reservation. Chairman Holloway did this in nearly 100 pages of documents that referenced Indian cases from across the nation and long accepted and understood Federal law.  

Believing that he could represent his tribe in an official capacity as the head of a sovereign nation, Ron Holloway, an expert in Treaty law and Sovereignty, hit a brick wall when dealing with the Federal judges in Newark. Apparently there are two kinds of laws – one that applies to the plaintiffs in this case, and one that applies to the defendants. An obvious failure of Equal Protection under the law is going on in this case. And it always seems to favor the defendants rather than the Tribe.

The timeline of the case gives you a good glimpse of the travesty of justice that is unfolding in the Federal Court in Newark.

Even when a plaintiff is not schooled in the myriad technicalities of legalese, they are still entitled to justice, and when a person represents themselves in court, it is hoped that justice will still prevail. Most folks who represent themselves in court are given the benefit of the doubt and not treated as if they were asking to be cheated of a fair outcome just because they did not cross every” t” or dot every “I”.

Unfortunately, at the very same time that Ron Holloway was given strict deadlines and his motions were being swiftly denied, his opponents were given such leeway over missing deadlines, filing motions, AND filing answers that it strains credulity. Ordinarily, the way our legal system is supposed to work is: You completely ignore a complaint, you earn a default judgment against you – You basically lose by default. You are implicitly acknowledging the plaintiff has a case and you can’t answer the complaint because you have no excuse. You are admitting guilt by default.

The way the judge let the defendants miss important deadlines by MONTHS while requesting incredibly difficult hoops for Holloway to jump through appears to be reminiscent of a courtroom prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1963. Incredibly the court informed Holloway that he could not bring anyone with him to the first hearing held by the court. He was bothered by this because he felt as if he was walking into an ambush – which turned out to be exactly the case. Upon entering the Courtroom, there seated in a chair was a Star Ledger reporter with alleged ties to the defendants in Trenton. Obviously violating the order that no one unconnected to the case be present , why didn’t the Judge demand the removal of the reporter as Chief Holloway was not permitted to bring to his own to guarantee that all sides would be made public?

The Judge then denied Holloway’s motions for default judgments against the defendants who had so cavalierly disregarded court-ordered deadlines. It appeared that in matters routine and consequential, the bare minimum standards of court rules for the defendants were sloppily applied – if at all. Not only did the court allow the defendants to miss deadlines for months, they allowed those defendants who had answered the complaint to ALSO jump onto other defendants motion to dismiss, which the court took a FULL NINE MONTHS to consider. At the same time, the State and County defendants disingenuously claimed that they didn’t know what the tribe wanted and that the tribe failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, the defendants were able to write detailed motions to dismiss in which they specifically countered each and every claim made by the tribe, which at that time did not have an attorney.

By the time that the defendants filed their motions to dismiss, the tribe had retained legal Counsel. Their attorney wrote the opposition to the motions. The tribe’s attorney, in the tribe’s opposition to the motions, was able to successfully counter each argument made by the defendants. In addition, their attorney was able to add legal language that addressed some grave injustices that were mentioned in the complaint. Judge Hayden states in her decision that she relied solely upon what the untrained plaintiffs wrote in the complaint and did not consider the more accurate arguments made by their attorney in the opposition. (Remember, it took Judge Hayden 9 months to arrive at this decision, and she had a lot of help from the State defendants, the Indian Commission, and a lone self-proclaimed “Sand Hill” Indian named Clare Garland). The Judge had more than enough time to consider the newly introduced opposition to the motions that was submitted by the Tribe’s Attorney. The Judge chose to ignore it.

According to the rumor mill, representatives from the U.S. came into New Jersey to conduct an investigation in an effort to “do away with” this case, and allegedly Judge Hayden and Judge Schwartz were working closely with them. Meanwhile, State officials and members of the Indian Commission were establishing a close relationship with Ms. Claire Garland, a lone “Sand Hill” Indian who claimed that Mr. Holloway and other members of the tribe were fake and not really members of the original Richardson-Revey Sand Hill family. In actuality, more than 70% of the current membership of Holloway’s tribe are direct descendants of the Richardson-Revey family, making Garland’s argument absurd and the 70% of the family members belonging to the tribe that has filed this lawsuit mighty unhappy with her.

Apparently, the State of New Jersey had decided it was in their best interest to place a representative of the Sand Hill Indians on the Indian Commission (after all, the Sand Hill tribe is the oldest tribe in the State of New Jersey and the only legitimate descendants of the Lenape Indians of New Jersey). Ms. Garland was allegedly promised a seat on the Indian Commission pending the outcome of this case, even though she is NOT a member of the Sand Hill tribe. Being that she is not a member of the tribe, how can she be appointed as a representative of that tribe?

After some pressure from the tribe asking for a ruling on the motion, Judge Hayden (in what seems to have been a final desperate effort to get rid of the case) silently permitted Ms. Garland to file a single letter with the court in which she states that Mr. Holloway is not a legitimate Sand Hill Indian. In the letter to the court, Garland accuses him of trying to steal the Sand Hill history. Remember: Mr. Holloway, who is a legitimate member of the tribe and an officer is just acting as a representative for the Sand Hill Indians (the plaintiffs) who will ultimately benefit from a favorable decision in this case, including the 70% of the tribe’s members are who are directly/indirectly related to Ms. Garland.

Judge Hayden used her judicial discretion (over the clearly stated federal rules) and strongly considered this letter submitted by a supposedly anonymous individual, who herself was not required to prove her own ancestry to the Sand Hill Indians. The federal rules require a nonparty individual to file a formal motion and to make some kind of official appearance to the Judge explaining who she is. Then the Sand Hill Indians should have gotten a chance to respond to these allegations. This was NEVER done.

Judge Hayden just quietly let this letter be filed and did not say anything, then she blasted the tribe in her final decision, saying they were not a legitimate tribe and relying solely on what Ms. Garland said without any discovery or cross examination.

Consequently, the entire second amended complaint was dismissed. However, for whatever reason, at the very end of the decision, Judge Hayden again used her judicial discretion in a strange and bizarre twist. It stated that the tribe would be allowed to file a third amended complaint.  Strange, considering she just obliterated the second amended complaint – leaving nothing left to amend.

It took nine months for the Judge to do the above. Meanwhile the tribe’s attorney twice filed motions to amend the complaint based on new information showing that the Treaty of Easton was a fraud, because the British didn’t even negotiate the treaty with the New Jersey Lenape Indians.  In fact, the New Jersey Lenape Indians did not even attend the negotiations.

The first motion (filed in November 2009) was immediately terminated by Judge Schwartz, who used her discretionary power to squash the motion to amend until after the motion to dismiss was decided. The tribe continued to wait several more months but did not stop their investigation and gathering of evidence, much to what would turn out to be the chagrin of the courts. During the course of the nine month hiatus that the court gave to the Tribe, the tribe came across the documentation that the State of New York swindled the Lenape Indians out of what is now called Manhattan in exchange for a copper kettle and some beads; as well as the State of Pennsylvania having swindled the Lenape Indians out of land now called Bucks County by tricking them into a fraudulent agreement.

Once again, during the nine month hiatus, the tribe’s attorney filed a motion to amend the complaint so they could add these new parties (NY and PA). Judge Schwartz had twice before Ordered that the tribe would be allowed to amend in order to join additional parties, but decided again to use her discretion and terminated this motion. Judge Hayden knew that what Judge Schwartz did was wrong, so she left a tiny door open for the tribe to file a third amended complaint. But, there were a few conditions. . . .

Judge Schwartz then issued an Order of explanation on 7/1/10 in which she says that the tribe can file a third amended complaint, but they cannot use any of the federal or state claims that they initially used (i.e. Non-Intercourse Act, Title VI, 14th Amendment, etc.) and they could not just state new facts without coming up with some different law to support the facts. In addition, the tribe could not use any State law claims because the court decided it would not bother looking at them. Judge Schwartz also said that the defendants would have the option to file one big joint motion to dismiss or file separate Answers denying everything. These conditions were made because it seemed like the tribe had exhausted every possible federal claim that had ever been made by any other Indian tribe throughout legal history. The Court thought it had the plaintiffs up against the wall with nowhere to turn by denying them the ability to use the evidence that they had spent years acquiring.

The tribe’s attorney who had never experienced this type of arrangement before, wrote a letter to the court asking for clarification on the 7/1/10 Order. To further restrict the plaintiffs’ rights, Judge Schwartz clarified her decision and took the opportunity to add that if the tribe filed a third amended complaint, they were essentially agreeing not to appeal the second amended complaint. This tactic would ensure that the tribe would be denied their right to appeal to the third circuit court.

According to the underground rumor mill, the third circuit court of appeals did not want to have anything to do with this unfair decision and the district court judges had to force this deal upon the tribe to keep it from going to the third circuit.  Ironically, this is similar to what happened to the tribe’s ancestors, who were forced to take reservation land that they did not ask for- meaning- it’s non-negotiable. Even more confusing was the fact that both Judge Schwartz and Judge Hayden said (in different Orders) that the tribe’s attorney had voluntarily dismissed all of the counties in her opposition to the massive motion to dismiss. The tribe’s attorney attempted to rectify the matter long before the final decision was made on 6/30/10. The Judge refused to consider any explanation from the tribe’s attorney and Judge Hayden ruled that the voluntary dismissal was final. This is in spite of the rules that say that a voluntary dismissal is not final until after the plaintiffs’ attorney signs an affidavit and gets all of the defendants to sign it and they all agree that this decision is final. This was not done.

When the tribe’s attorney filed the third amended complaint based upon different and unexplored federal and international law that had not previously been raised in the second amended complaint (not an easy task), she only named the States (NJ, NY, PA) and also added the United States as the defendants. She believed that the voluntary dismissal was separate and apart from the court’s order of 6/30/10, which dismissed every claim based on federal law. (This keeps getting more and more confusing and complicated, but hang in there).

At the same time, the tribe’s attorney filed a motion to reinstate the second amended complaint against the county defendants because this seemed to be the only way to undo the voluntary dismissal and, according to the court rules, the voluntary dismissal was not final anyway. As it turns out, she could have added the counties onto the third amended complaint and filing this motion to reinstate just confused matters further. Ultimately, the tribe’s attorney did withdraw the motion to reinstate and advised the court that she would seek to amend a fourth time in order to add the counties, which she is permitted to do under the court rules. Of course, Judge Schwartz is hinting that this should have been done in the first place and the tribe’s attorney might have to come up with a darn good explanation as to why she did not just add the counties onto the third amended complaint in the first place (see above for reason why – they weren’t allowed to use anything from previous motions). In the third amended complaint, the tribe alleged that the 3 states and the United States had entered into fraudulent treaties with the Lenape Indians (or in some cases no treaty was ever signed) because the Lenape Indians did not understand what was going on and they were cheated out of thousands and thousands of acres of land in exchange for some booze, trinkets, beads, and some supplies.

As it turns out, there is an international law that says all treaties are governed by international law, and according to U.S. federal law, all groups of Indians were treated as sovereign nations. Therefore agreements made with Indians are treaties and not contracts. Also, according to international law, if a treaty is entered into fraudulently, it is considered to be null and void.

Under the U.S. Supremacy Clause, a federal court can review a claim regarding the violation of a treaty, and it does not have to be filed with the World Court in the Netherlands. Therefore, the judges seem to have jurisdiction over these matters, which they don’t allegedly want to exercise. The Sand Hills are using an entirely different approach than what was addressed in the second amended complaint and the defendants have to come up with a whole new strategy to try and get the third amended complaint dismissed. If the tribe can’t rely on the same federal law claims it made before, the defendants can’t either . . . or can they????? Hopefully it won’t be another nine months.

As of this writing, each State defendant has already filed their motion to dismiss. The U.S. has not yet filed its response as of the writing of this diary.

The tribe has until 9/7/10 to file oppositions, then the states get another crack at it and they can submit a reply. Anyway, the whole thing is supposed to be decided by the Court on 9/20/10. The tribe filed a motion to enter default judgment against the U.S. since they did not comply with the court’s 7-1-10 Order and they missed the deadline.

The tribe’s attorney also filed a motion asking both Judge Shwartz and Judge Hayden to recuse (disqualify) themselves from this case since neither one of them can seem to maintain an unbiased, fair, and just position in their rulings. That motion was supposed to be decided on August 16, 2010. The tribe is still waiting . . . . and will probably continue to wait because, like this entire case, the complaint of bias has MERIT.

After 400 years, the tribe is STILL waiting for justice. Outside the Court in Newark is a large statue of blind justice. Inside, however, there appear to be a couple of blind judges. Blind to truth, justice, decency, historical evidence, and the rights of all plaintiffs to Equal Protection under the law. Let’s see what happens next. They can’t continue this way. International law is on the Tribe’s side on this one. The more the judges stall the case, the bigger it gets. It is now literally epic in scope. It is now the largest land case ever brought by a Native American tribe against the United States. Before it gets bigger, these two judges should recuse themselves from this case, because it is dubious that they can actually explain how on earth their actions and rulings can in any sense be called impartial.

It might behoove the United States to come to the negotiation table and remove this from the courts, because nine more months granted by this the Federal Court in Newark, will enable the Sand Hill to find even more concrete iron-clad evidence to add to their case and hand two Judges in Newark even more rope to entangle themselves in.

Ancient America: The Grand Canyon

About 17 million years ago, the Colorado River began to create the Grand Canyon. In terms of geology, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long; it is up to 18 miles wide; and in some places it is more than a mile deep. It first enters European history in 1540 when Spanish explorers with Hopi guides travelled to the South Rim. Since parts of the Grand Canyon are sacred to the Hopi, the Hopi guides did not show the Spanish the trails to the bottom. The Spanish were not the first non-Indians to see the wonders of the Grand Canyon: In 485 CE, a group of Buddhist monks under the leadership of Hwui Shan were shown the Grand Canyon by the Hopi. When they returned to China, they recorded their observations in the state records.

Grand Canyon ancestors

While both the Spanish and the Buddhists left written records, American Indians have known about, visited, and lived in the Grand Canyon for thousands of years. Our evidence of this comes from the archaeological record as well as oral traditions.

By 5000 BCE, Indian people were creating anthropomorphic rock art images in the White River drainage area. These rock art sites, called the Barrier Canyon Style by archaeologists, served as religious shrines or ceremonial places. They are located in remote places and depict large, shamanistic figures. Many of the figures appear to be ghostly and may represent trance-state experiences. At some sites the rock paintings appear to have been the work of one person or a limited number of people. This suggests that they were probably made by a select few artists or shamans.

Hunting and gathering people, known to archaeologists as the Desert Archaic Peoples, were living in the Grand Canyon by 3000 BCE,

By 2390 BCE, Indian people were creating shrine caves high in the walls of the Grand Canyon. In these caves there were rows of rock cairns. Some of the cairns were made of only piles of rock. Others were made of combinations of rocks and pieces of late Pleistocene packrat midden that had been dug out of larger middens in the cave. Some of the cairns incorporated horn sheaths from the extinct Harrington’s mountain goat as well as split-twig figures. The use of the mountain goat remains suggest that the people considered the mountain goat fossils unusual.

Indian people continued to use the Grand Canyon for spiritual or ceremonial purposes. Archaeologists found that by 2000 BCE, Indian people were placing miniature figures in caves in the walls of the Grand Canyon. The caves were difficult to reach because of the sheer precipices and lack handholds and footholds. These figures were made by bending and folding a single willow twig. Most of these figures are thought to represent deer or bighorn sheep, while others may represent antelope. The figures may have been made for use in hunting medicine. The objects were placed under flat rocks or small cairns, and no accompanying relics have ever been found.

There is evidence that by 700 CE Indian people had established farming on both the North and South rims of the Grand Canyon. With the increase in precipitation in the area about 1000 CE, there was an increase in the number of people who were living in the Grand Canyon. At this time, the Indian farmers were constructing terraced fields for their corn, beans, squash, and cotton. These terraces covered the rich deltas where side canyons meet the Colorado. The Grand Canyon farmers built cliff granaries to hold excess seeds and hunters stalked deer at higher elevations.

At this time (1000 CE) the Havasupai moved from the Coconino Plateau into Cataract Creek Canyon, a side canyon of the Grand Canyon. Their living site on the canyon floor could be reached only by a narrow trail which snaked down from the plateau. Here they began to call themselves “the people of the blue water.” Within 50 years, the Havasupai were cultivating lands on the floor of the Grand Canyon on a permanent basis. This was the beginning of the characteristic Havasupai economic pattern based on summer irrigation agriculture in the canyon and winter hunting-gathering on the plateau.

http://www.havasupai-nsn.gov/

Havasu Falls

By 1050 BCE, ancestral Puebloans had communities on the floor of the Grand Canyon near arable deltas and on the rim of the canyon. They would alternate their residences seasonally between these two areas. With a 5,600-foot elevation differential, this gave these farmers the advantage of a long growing season. There were now several hundred pueblos along the base of the canyon.

At this same time, a small, single family dwelling was constructed at Walhalla Glades on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Indians at Walhalla Glades probably moved into the inner canyon in winter to avoid the frigid temperatures and deep snows of the North Rim’s eight-thousand-foot elevation.

Within the Grand Canyon, Indian people built a pithouse at Bright Angel (a popular tourist spot today) about 1050 CE. Fifteen years later they abandoned this pithouse. Fifty years later, Indian people built a small pueblo at Bright Angel. They were farming a small garden. This pueblo was occupied for about 90 years.

A major regional drought started in 1225 and as a result, most of the Grand Canyon was deserted with regard to permanent occupation. Indian people continued to use it for ceremonial purposes, and the Havasupai still live there year-round.  

Grand Canyon Skywalk

Ancient America: The Medicine Wheels

( – promoted by navajo)

Throughout the Northern Plains of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Montana, the Dakotas, and Wyoming there are 135 archaeological features commonly called Medicine Wheels. While the best-known of these features is found in Wyoming, they are most frequently found in Alberta and Montana. Most of these medicine wheels were constructed and used for unknown reasons long before the first Europeans entered the region.

The medicine wheel is a pattern of boulders found atop high hills and river plateaus. Medicine wheels may include cairns (piles of boulders), rings (circles of boulders), and spokes (lines of boulders). These are all arranged in a radial configuration. In some instances the central cairn may contain up to 100 tons of rock.

Big Horn Medicine Wheel 2

In spite of the fact that medicine wheels are common features associated with ancient American Indian populations, there has been almost no archaeological investigation of these sites. Consequently, there has been a lot of speculation, particularly by people with no understanding of either American Indian cultures or contemporary archaeology, about the meaning of these sites.

Some of the possible interpretations of the medicine wheel features are discussed below:

Burial Monument: In a couple of cases, the central mound of the medicine wheel seems to be a burial site and hence the speculation that medicine wheels are burials, perhaps for high status individuals. However, there is little actual evidence to back up this hypothesis and the fact that North Plains Indian cultures tended to be egalitarian seems to work against this idea.

Commemorative Monument: There are some who feel that the medicine wheels were constructed to commemorate events or individuals, either historic or mythical. In other parts of North America, Indian people did construct stone cairns as commemorative monuments. This is a hypothesis that can’t be ruled out, but there seems to be little oral tradition which supports it.

Ceremonial Structure: Many contemporary Indians have pointed out the similarities between the medicine wheels and the ceremonial structures used in the thirsty dance, renewal dance, and sun dance. Therefore they feel that the medicine wheels are ceremonial structures which may have been linked to these ceremonies.

Shown below is a Sun Dance structure showing how the poles connect to the center.

Sun Dance

In some cases there are tipi rings-rings of rocks which were once used to hold down tipi covers-in the area of the medicine circles. These may be the camps which people used when visiting the medicine wheel for ceremonial purposes.

Vision Quest Structure: Some of the medicine wheels, including the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, have U-shaped stone features that are associated with the vision quest. In a vision quest, the person seeking the vision would lay within this feature to await the vision. In addition, a number of the Plains tribes have traditions involving the Little People. During the vision question, stones are arranged in lines as living symbols of the Little People. During the quest, these stones are fed offerings. The Little People are often associated with the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars.

According to the Crow, the little people live under the ground and pass between their home and the upper air through a deep pit or cave, formed by a great crack in the limestone to the west of the Medicine Wheel. During the vision quest at this site, the little people come from the cave. The forest service has filled in the clefts and caves and thus destroyed the home of the little people.

Vision Quest 1

Buffalo Cult Structure: Some people feel that the medicine wheels were used in conjunction with ceremonies to call in the buffalo for the communal buffalo hunts. In some cases, the medicine wheel feature may have an association with a buffalo jump, but in most cases there is no direct connection between the site of the medicine wheel and known hunting sites.

Petroform: Throughout the Northern Plains, there are rock arts sites, such as the one at Writing on Stone in Alberta. Many of the pictographs (art painted on stone) and petroglyphs (art carved in stone) seem to resemble the medicine wheels. Are the medicine wheels simply another manifestation of this symbol?

Astronomical Observatory: About six medicine wheels seem to be purposefully oriented to enable observation of rising and setting of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars for calendric or ceremonial purposes. Marking specific astronomical events, such as the solstice, are important in many Indian cultures. In some of the medicine wheels, the spokes seem to point within two degrees of the summer solstice sunrise. While marking the summer solstice tends to be common among sedentary agricultural tribes, such as the Hopi, hunting and gathering people such as the Plains tribes also needed to be aware of the passage of the seasons.

Some people have pointed out that the Big Horn Medicine Wheel has 28 spokes-the number of days in a lunar month and thus it has a calendric function. However, other people have suggested that this represents the coming together of 28 different tribes.

Traveler’s Signpost: While there are some who feel that the medicine wheels were signposts, or possibly maps, they are often located away from known trails.

Gnomon Projection: Some archaeologists have suggested that a central pole or tipi within the Medicine Wheels acted essentially as a gnomon (a device to cast shadows and direct light from above). This may have been used in marking the seasons, as well as events such as the solstice.

Beneath the central cairn at the Big Horn Medicine Wheel is a conical hole in the bedrock about 1 meter deep, which could have held a vertical pole. The central cairn appears to have been built first and then the spokes added later.

Conclusion:

The medicine wheels are intriguing archaeological features relating not only to the American Indian heritage of North America, but also to its spirituality. For Native Americans these are symbolic structures reflecting ancient spiritual traditions. With regard to understanding the symbolic meaning of the medicine wheels, they have been subject to far more wishful thinking than to a realistic appraisal of their actual purpose(s). I suspect that they were used for many different things, possibly at different time periods and by different groups. In the meantime, it’s fun to speculate.  

Arizona, Indians, and Elections

( – promoted by Aji)

Arizona has a checkered history when it comes to American Indians in the electoral process. From the time Indians were granted citizenship in 1924 and until after World War II, Arizona took the position that Indians were “wards of the government” and therefore “under guardianship.” Under the state’s constitution, and persons “under guardianship” were prohibited from voting.

In 1944, Arizona Attorney General’s office ruled that Indians who were living outside the reservation and who were subject to state laws and state taxation were not eligible to vote. In 1948, however, Frank Harrison and Harry Austin, both Mohave-Apache at the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation, attempted to register to vote and were not allowed to register. In Harrison v. Laveen the Arizona Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs that their Arizona and United States constitutional rights had been violated. With this decision, Indians were granted the right to vote in the state.  

Having the right to vote is only one part of the picture in politics. Getting Indian candidates elected is the other. In 2010, Arizonans have the opportunity to elect an American Indian as the Secretary of State (second in line to the governor). Freshman lawmaker Chris Deschene (Navajo) has won the Democratic nomination for the office. In the general election Dechene will face Republican Ken Bennett who assumed the position when Jan Brewer was elevated to governor.

Deschene, an enrolled Navajo tribal member, currently serves as State Representative in Arizona’s 2nd Legislative District. Showing that Indians still face election discrimination in Arizona, his biography notes:

During his campaign for the Arizona House of Representatives, Chris faced a challenge to his nominating petitions that sought to take advantage of contradictions within Arizona’s election laws in order to disenfranchise rural PO Box voters by taking away their right to select and nominate their own candidates. The Secretary of State had the jurisdiction to step in and provide a solution for the discrepancy, but chose not to get involved. Chris didn’t hesitate to take the fight to court and won, protecting the rights of rural voters to participate and nominate their own candidates, regardless of their PO Box addresses.

American Indians in Arizona, and in many other western states, still face a battle in getting their votes to count and Indian candidates usually face an uphill battle to get elected. The Indigenous Democratic Network, INDN’s List, is the only grassroots political organization devoted to recruiting and electing American Indian candidates and mobilizing the Indian Vote throughout America on behalf of those candidates. INDN’s list has endorsed Deschene.

Chris’s website: http://www.descheneforarizona….

INDN’s list website: http://indnslist.org/

First Indian and Steelworker Wins Statewide in Arizona

First Indian and Steelworker Wins Statewide in Arizona

( – promoted by navajo)

For the first time in Arizona history, an American Indian candidate has become a major party nominee for statewide office!  INDN’s List endorsed candidate Chris Deschene, a Navajo and former member of the United Steelworkers, won the Democratic Party’s nomination for Secretary of State in a hotly contested race where he was outspent by over $30,000.  

Now Chris moves on to the November 2nd General Election where he faces Ken Bennett, who was appointed to the office in 2009.  If Chris wins in November, he will become the first Indian to serve statewide in Arizona.  Furthermore, in Arizona, the Secretary of State is the state’s second highest executive officer.  Since 1977, Arizona’s Secretary of State moved on to become Governor four times.  Thus, Chris Deschene will be perfectly poised to become the country’s only sitting American Indian Governor!

Chris needs our help to win in November!  Please make a contribution now to help us support Chris in this historic race!

Chris Deschene is living proof that the INDN’s List system of recruiting, training, funding and providing strategic guidance to Indian candidates works!  He attended our “From the Table to the Ticket” training in 2006 where he impressed all of our staff as well as Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), the Vice Chair of the DNC, who is also supporting Chris.  He won election to the State House in 2008 and is now the Arizona Democratic Party’s first statewide American Indian nominee.

INDN’s List would also like to congratulate endorsed candidates Jack Jackson, Jr. who won his race for Arizona State Senate and Albert Hale who won his race for Arizona State House.

Correcting Popular History: Poker Joe & the Nez Perce War

( – promoted by navajo)

Often, people have an unrealistic understanding of the past, one which is often perpetuated by the popular media. One of the popular misconceptions about Indian history involves Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War.  

Most people are aware of the Nez Perce War in 1877 in which the non-treaty bands led the United States Army on a chase which started in Oregon, then into Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The Army finally caught up with the Nez Perce a few miles from the Canadian border in Montana. While the popular media has credited Chief Joseph as the primary Nez Perce leader, he had relatively little to do with leading the Nez Perce flight.  

Each of the non-treaty Nez Perce bands had their own leaders. During the flight from the Army, the Nez Perce warriors would listen to the wisdom of the war leaders and one of these war leaders would usually lead the entire group. For much of the Nez Perce war the primary war leader was Looking Glass.

One of the interesting Nez Perce leaders during the 1877 war was Poker Joe (Lean Elk), who took his name from his fondness for the game. Poker Joe was from one of a number of families from the Nez Perce band of Eagle from the Light who had left the Clearwater area of Idaho a few years earlier and had resettled among the Flathead in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. He was a buffalo hunter and a warrior with some understanding of English.

Following the Battle of the Big Hole in which the Army surprised the Nez Perce and killed several important Nez Perce warriors, Poker Joe replaced Looking Glass as the primary leader. All who knew him reported that he had no fear and that he knew not only the location of the buffalo country, but also the locations of the soldiers. In addition, he was lucky in gambling and this meant that he had strong ties to spiritual power.

Poker Joe led the Nez Perce with a strong hand. Each morning he would get the camp moving early, shouting orders with a voice as loud as a bull buffalo’s. He pushed the people to cover as much ground as possible each day. He had them split into several groups, hoping to confuse the soldiers who were following them.

Poker Joe led the Nez Perce south into Idaho and then into Yellowstone National Park. While in Yellowstone, they encountered a group of 9 tourists from Montana. Afraid that the tourists might tell the Army where they were, the Nez Perce took the tourists captive. Poker Joe advised the tourists to escape at the first opportunity. It would seem from this action that the chiefs did not wish to harm the tourists and that chiefs had little control over the warriors.

Coming out of the Park, Nez Perce scouts found an American army waiting for them. Poker Joe devised a strategy in which the Nez Perce made a highly visible move toward the Shoshone River, and then doubled back to the Clarks Fork. The American scouts saw the move toward the Shoshone and moved to block the Nez Perce. By the time the Americans discovered their mistake, the Nez Perce had escaped.  

The Nez Perce felt that they could find refuge among their old allies and friends, the Crow. However, they found that the Crow warriors were now working for the Army. The Nez Perce chiefs decided that their only hope lay in moving north to join Sitting Bull’s Sioux in Canada.

Once the Nez Perce bands had passed through the rugged terrain of Yellowstone National Park and had turned northward on the Great Plains, the chiefs decided that leadership should again be turned over to Looking Glass. Looking Glass berated Poker Joe for driving the people too hard. He argued that Canada-the Old Woman Country-was only a few days ahead and that the people needed short days and long camps to build their strength. Poker Joe argued that this was not the time to rest, but the other chiefs were convinced that there was no longer a reason to hurry. So Poker Joe relinquished his leadership position. He was not happy with the decision, but he respected the decision of the council. Poker Joe told Looking Glass:

“You can lead. I am trying to save the people, doing my best to cross into the Old Woman Country before the soldiers find us. You can take control, but I think we will all be caught and killed.”

A few miles from Canada, in the Bear Paw Mountains, the bands stopped to rest. Seeing American troops coming, the Nez Perce began to hurriedly pack. Looking Glass told them that there was no hurry, that there was plenty of time. Once again, Looking Glass was wrong. In the initial charge, 53 of the 115 men in the Seventh Cavalry were killed as the Nez Perce gunfire was extremely accurate. At the end of the day, however, 22 Nez Perce were dead, including Poker Joe.

The Wellbriety Medicine Wheel

( – promoted by navajo)

Alcoholism and drug abuse are major Indian problems both on the reservations and in the urban Indian communities. The most traditional non-Indian approaches to dealing with these diseases-Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous-are spiritually based in the European Protestant Christian tradition. While these approaches do work, they often do not correspond well with Native cultures and Native-based spirituality.

Wellbriety is a movement which seeks to break the cycle of hurt caused by alcoholism with an emphasis on Native spiritual traditions. Wellbriety has incorporated parts of the approaches of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous into a kind of pan-Indian spirituality based largely on modern Lakota spirituality. They state:

“The good healing ways of the 12 Steps can be blended with our traditions in many different activities.”

Wellbriety views the Medicine Wheel as a circle of teaching that explains that anything growing is a system of circles and cycles. One of these is the cycle of seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Another is the cycle of life: baby, youth, adult, elder. On a personal level, the four directions of human growth are emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual.

East:

The Wellbriety Medicine Wheel begins by facing the East: Finding the Creator. The East, the direction of the rising sun, involves three steps:

Step One: Honesty. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that we had lost control of our lives.

Step Two: Hope. We came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could help us regain control.

Step Three: Faith. We made a decision to ask for help from a Higher Power and others who understand.

South:

This is followed by facing South: Finding Ourselves. South is the direction when the sun is spreading its warmth and powers to help each plant and bird to personally grow. The steps which come from the South are:  

Step Four: Courage. We stopped and thought about our strengths and our weaknesses and thought about ourselves.

Step Five: Integrity. We admitted to the Great Spirit, to ourselves, and to another person the things we thought were wrong about ourselves.

Step Six: Willingness. We were ready, with the help of the Great Spirit, to change.

West:

Next is facing West: Finding our Relatives. West is the direction of the setting sun and the direction of forgiveness. The steps which come from the West are:

Step 7: Humility. We humbly asked a Higher Power and our friends to help us to change.

Step 8: Forgiveness. We made a list of people who were hurt by our drinking and want to make up for these hurts.

Step 9: Justice. We are making up to those people whenever we can, except when to do so would hurt them more.

North:

Last is facing North: Finding the Elders’ Wisdom. The powers and gifts from the North are the words and actions which are needed to interface with people of all types. The steps which come from the North are:

Step 10: Perseverance. We continue to think about our strengths and weaknesses and when we are wrong we say so.

Step 11: Spiritual Awareness. We pray and think about ourselves, praying only for the strength to do what is right.

Step 12: Service. We try to help other alcoholics and to practice these principles in everything we do.

Putting It Together:

According to the Wellbriety movement:

“Placing the 12 steps in a circle also helps us to realize that all 12 of these great principles for recovery are interrelated and interconnected. Think of the 12 steps placed around the outside circle of a dream catcher.”

Wellbriety summarizes the Medicine Wheel with the cycle of healing:

East: Recognize means I finally accept the fact that I am powerless or helpless over my addiction and my life is unmanageable.

South: Acknowledge means I am ready to do the hard personal work to allow what I recognized to actually come in and change me.

West: Forgive means to finally take off the backpack full of harms and hurts that I have been carrying around.

North: Change means that I stop doing all the negative behaviors that were associated with my drinking and drugging.

News from Native American Netroots and American Indian Caucus Transcripts

Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Daily Kos

Welcome to News from Native American Netroots, a Sunday evening series 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.

Eagle Feather



At the end of the body of this diary I have included a transcript of  Meteor Blade’s, and navajo’s, speech. They were presented at the NN ’10 American Indian Caucus

Trafficking our children

This was the first in a series by Valerie Taliman that we posted in News from NAN. The rest of the series has now been published.

h/t Aji

Part 2 of 4

Children dying while predators roam free

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Convicted sexual predator Martin Tremblay is still roaming free after two teenage girls died in March – one at his home – after being given a lethal mix of alcohol and drugs within hours of their deaths.

Friends of Martha Hernandez, 17, and Kayla LaLonde, 16, said the two First Nations teens had been hanging out with a man named “Martin” who supplied them with free drugs and alcohol at parties he held for teens at his Richmond home.

Angela LaLonde, whose daughter was found collapsed on a road with bruises on her body, said police told her they were close to an arrest in her daughter’s death, but then they stopped returning calls.

Part 3 of 4

Turning anger into action

Through their work at the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network and a local rape crisis center, Cherry Smiley and Laura Holland are on the frontlines of helping girls and women escape the horrors of forced prostitution.

On a daily basis, they witness the despair and destruction of women targeted by pimps and johns who earn profits from their bodies. They see the gaping wounds and scars of women bruised and battered. They hear the stories of those trying to escape, and they help to provide hope and resources that can change a young girl’s life.

“Why is society not horrified by what is happening here? This is not child labor, it’s child rape, yet the authorities have done little to deal with the pimps and perpetrators,” said Smiley, an activist and artist who is part of AWAN’s collective of women volunteers and advocates.

Part 4 of 4

Canada’s racist policies to blame for national tragedy

SAGKEENG FIRST NATION, Manitoba – At a gathering of traditional healers and spiritual leaders in the Turtle Lodge earlier this summer, the national tragedy of more than 582 murdered and missing First Nations women became a focus for discussion and prayers.

Several people spoke of relatives missing in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton, and along the Highway of Tears. It seems to be happening everywhere.

Chief Donovan Fontaine said at least four women from the local community were missing – one six months pregnant – and later found murdered, some dumped along highways.

Lancaster Sound: A seismic victory for the Inuit

By Josh Wingrove

With little to show for three months of meetings and letter-writing, Inuit leader Okalik Eegeesiak called a lawyer she knew: Could the courts stop scientific tests that might scare away animals her people rely on?

She was referred to Davis LLP, a firm versed in aboriginal law, and two lawyers in its Toronto office, David Crocker and Peter Jervis, agreed to take the case. Neither had ever been to Nunavut.

Center for American Indian Community Health to be Created at KU Medical Center

Researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center and the American Indian Health Research and Education Alliance  have joined forces to create the Center for American Indian Community Health, according to a press release issued by KU on July 30.

The initiative, which is being funded by a $7.5 million grant from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, will set up a pipeline to attract American Indian high school and college students to the KU School of Medicine’s master’s of public health degree program and other graduate programs to increase the number of Native people entering the health professions and conducting health research. Medical center faculty are already working with Haskell Indian Nations University to identify potential students for the master’s of public health program.

Dental work reaches Native Americans in Nebraska

A Morman man, a couple of Catholics and an agnostic went to volunteer at a Native American reservation in Nebraska – and it’s no joke.

In fact, the team has volunteered at a dental clinic on the Omaha Reservation for about five years.

“It’s good to help,” said Joe Bly, who works in the dentistry lab at Mayo Clinic. “It’s good to roll up your sleeves and just dive in. I think that if you’re blessed with more than what you need, you should help others.”

Ecuadorian government cracks down on Native leaders

An acrimonious relationship between Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa and Native leaders took a turn for the worse in July when the government charged Delfin Tenesaca, Puruha Kichwa and Marlon Santi, Shaur, the presidents of the country’s largest indigenous organizations, with terrorism and sabotage. The charges were filed following a protest outside a summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas June 25 in the Ecuadorian town of Otavalo.

The summit, which was presided by Presidents Correa, Evo Morales, of Bolivia and Hugo Chavez, of Venezuela, was dedicated to the region’s Native and African-American peoples and was attended by many members of those ethnic groups. However, the government declined to invite representatives of the country’s principal Native organizations – the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and the Kichwa confederation ECUARUNARI – both of which once supported Correa, but have grown critical of him over the past two years. Their leaders consequently organized a protest outside the summit and attempted to deliver a letter to Morales, but were prevented from entering the summit by the police, which resulted in a shoving match.

Local volunteers answer tribe’s prayer

Tina Hagedorn is thrilled to help answer a prayer from an Indian tribe in the poorest of the 3,143 counties in the United States.

The Gig Harbor woman and other South Sound volunteers leave Thursday to deliver three fully equipped ambulances and 16 pallets of toys to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.

As a consultant who has visited many Indian reservations across the country, Hagedorn was deeply touched by the overwhelming poverty suffered by the Lakota people of this tribe.

Pilot prosecuting program comes to Pine Ridge

Gregg Peterman has helped Russia develop a better criminal justice system, so the assistant U.S. attorney is a logical choice to do the same thing for another sovereign nation closer to Rapid City: Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Peterman went to Russia as part of the Department of Justice’s Overseas Professional Development Assistance and Training program. OPDAT lends federal prosecutors to developing democracies all over the world — including Iraq and Afghanistan — to help them develop more effective, efficient criminal justice systems.

“I remember thinking 10 years ago we should do a detail in Indian Country,” Peterman said. “If we can do that overseas, I thought, why are we not helping communities in this country who need assistance improving the function of their tribal justice system?”

Yurok Tribe challenges California Marine Act

The Yurok Tribe’s message to the state Marine Life Protection Act’s Blue Ribbon Task Force may have done some good.

“For the first time, I got a sense that the task force group was paying attention to the tribe’s concerns,” Thomas O’Rourke Sr., Yurok Tribe chairman, said after task force meetings.

“They were listening. We had their ear. Our major message is tribal rights are non-negotiable. Whether they will act or not that is something else that we’ll have to wait to see.”

McCain launches ‘broad based attack’ on Indian gaming regulation

If Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gets his way, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will be revving up for a jurisdictional clash with tribal leaders over the National Indian Gaming Commission’s authority to regulate Class III gaming.

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing on Indian gaming on July 29 to “examine priorities established by the new leadership of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) in areas including the NIGC’s regulatory role, staffing, budget, plans for consultation and training and technical assistance to tribes.”

Tracie Stevens, the new chair of the NIGC, testified in front of the committee for the first time exactly one month after her confirmation by the Senate. Other witnesses included Philip Hogen, the former NIGC chairman; Ernie Steven Jr., the chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association; and Mark Brnovich, director of the Arizona Department of Gaming.

Native American Graduates Headed Out to Teach

More than 1,000 University of Oregon students earned their degrees Saturday during the summer commencement ceremony.

Sixteen of those students will now use their degrees to educate kids in struggling Native American communities.

The 16 students are Native Americans themselves, and they understand the troubles facing young Native students.

As graduates of the Sapsik’wala Project, they now have Master’s degrees in Education and the passion to help struggling Native schools.

Ohlones want a voice on Hunters Point project

An Indian tribe held a sunrise ceremony at Yosemite Slough on Tuesday in an attempt to show just how important the sacred sites around the proposed Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point redevelopment project are to the Ohlone people.

“We want to be shown the respect we deserve as the original people of that land,” Tony Cerda, chairman of the Costanoan Rumsen Carmel Tribe, said. “We need city recognition.”

Peruvian Indians launch political party

Peru’s Amazonian Indians announced Wednesday they are going to launch their own political party with the stated aim of taking the Peruvian presidency next year.

The party is to be called the Alliance for the Alternative of Humanity (APHU), playing on the native Quechua word “apu,” meaning traditional chief, Alberto Pizango, the head of the Aidesep association grouping 65 tribes, told reporters.

Pizango said he is willing to be the candidate for the April 2011 presidential election once the party is formally established in September this year.

Indian scholars gather to share Native perspective on history

By Vince Devlin

On the first day of classes, Myla Vicenti Carpio, an assistant professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University, shakes hands with all her new students and welcomes them to class.

Then she tells them to imagine that she is a frontier-era missionary priest and they are members of an Indian tribe the priest has just met for the first time.

“I have immunity to diseases that you don’t have,” she says. “I just shook every hand and infected all of you. In some cases 90 percent of your tribe will be wiped out.”

American Indian Pre-Apprenticeship Program Prepares for Work Spike

On most of America’s Indian reservations, national percentages measuring economic anguish or progress hold scant meaning. Times have always been tough and have only gotten worse during the most recent recession, with nearly half of the work-age members in some parts of Indian Country jobless.

With $400 billion of dollars of potential construction and significant energy development foreseen on 55 million acres of reservation lands-coupled with significant federal stimulus dollars coming in-the question is:  Who will do the work?…..

…..A recently-concluded six-week, intensive pre-apprenticeship program for 24 Native American Indians  at the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, N.D., holds the promise of building an indigenous, growing work force of IBEW electricians on reservations and in nearby towns from  New York to Oklahoma to California. IBEW’s Dakotas JATC provided opportunities for hands-on electrical work, supplementing classroom time.



International Day of the World’s Indigenous People celebrated


People around the globe marked the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People Aug. 9 as the U.S. State Department continued its review of the federal government’s rejection of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In Malaysia, there was a celebration on the beach with dancing, music and basket weaving. In New Delhi, around 80 tribal people from eight states dressed in traditional attire and came together to speak out about their struggles and ask for their rights as equal citizens.

In Costa Rica, two dozen indigenous protesters staged a sit-in at the Legislative Assembly and called on lawmakers to approve a labor union agreement regarding the autonomy of indigenous people, which was signed by Costa Rica in 1992, but never ratified.

Investors urge unqualified Declaration endorsement

The movement to persuade the federal government to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without qualification has grown beyond American Indian and religious communities to the financial world.

Calvert Investments, a financial services company that holds $14.5 billion in assets, and a coalition of investors have submitted comments to the State Department and White House urging the unconditional endorsement of the Declaration.

“Calvert believes indigenous peoples in the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe deserve the affirmation and recognition of the broad array of rights set forth in the Declaration, including those related to self-determination, culture, land and natural resources, means of subsistence, treaty rights, non-discrimination, health and social services, protection of sacred sites, education and language,” Calvert CEO and president Barbara J. Krumsiek wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton July 14.

IHS Shifting to Private Groups

According to reports, federal health-care reforms will result in more private medical care and for-profit insurance policies for local Americans in the upcoming years.

The Indian health system, on the other hand, is solely controlled by the Government. However, things are now changing and through the Self-Determination Act or Self-Governance compacts, the tribes or authorized organizations manage the budget of the Indian Health Service.

The Indian health system is witnessing the emerging role of private groups. In a 2002 article for the Western Journal of Medicine, Dr. Everett R. Rhodes, an ex-Director of the Indian Health Service, wrote that the Indian health services is now making a move to the private sector, particularly in the western states where most of the American Indians inhabit.

Way of the peaceful warrior: fighting gang violence with Native American traditions

What does it mean to be a warrior? Surrounded by spiritual leaders in a sweat lodge instead of drug dealers in East Oakland, Juan Segura was learning.

He at least knows how urban war looks and feels. It looks like his friend, Eric Toscano, being killed in a drive-by shooting. It looks like that same friend falling, eyes open, blood running down his face. It feels like getting hit in the right foot and calf in that same shooting, then wanting to hide after getting death threats from rival gang members a year after he stopped running the streets.

But Barrios Unidos is trying to teach Segura another way to be a warrior. Over four days, the nonprofit that fights gang violence held its fourth annual Warrior Circle in the woods above Trout Gulch Road. Twenty-one boys and young men, ages 4 to 18, were taught through nature and Native American tradition how to respect others and see life as sacred.

Debra Lookout wins taco title

PAWHUSKA, Okla. – For the second time in four years, Osage Nation citizen Debra Lookout has won the National Indian Taco Championship.

Lookout, a 39-year-old licensed practical nurse with the Osage Nation Diabetes Program, won the title in 2007 and again on May 15 in downtown Pawhuska, beating 13 other contestants.

“I’m just blessed, truly blessed,” she said. “This year I knew that I had competition because everyone was talking about a guy who had salsa, homemade salsa, that was really good. So I decided I had better practice. My oldest daughter had a dream last week that I won. So I had a feeling that I would win, but I really tried different things, adding more flavor to my taco. I worked really hard and I couldn’t have done it without my kids.”

ZTE Joins US Big Leagues With Verizon Handset

Verizon Wireless on Thursday announced the Salute phone from ZTE, the first handset from the big Chinese phone and network supplier on a top-tier U.S. carrier……

…..ZTE’s handset business in the U.S. so far has been limited to smaller mobile operators, including MetroPCS and Pocket Communications. The company also supplies terrestrial EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) infrastructure for the 3G (third-generation) network that links Aircell in-flight Wi-Fi networks with the Internet. It is working with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority on a proposed 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network  that would bring Internet access to thousands of rural residents across the Navajo Nation, which spans large areas of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

Where is America’s outrage?

When New York Mayor Bloomberg asked Gov. Patterson to act like a cowboy to shut down the Seneca tobacco industry, little was heard from mainstream America to condemn such an outrageous statement.

The use of force to subdue, dispossess, disempower and eradicate the Native American is a disgraceful part of American history and Mayor Bloomberg is encouraging its continuation. The image of the cowboys shooting and killing Indians, defending settlers and moving them off their lands is the stuff of American legend. Indians were the villains of American expansionism and it created Manifest Destiny to justify their elimination.

Native Gatherings

h/t translatorpro

This Week on “Native America Calling”




Monday, August 23, 2010-  Gathering Medicine in National Parks:


A group called the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, known as PEER and is based in Washington D.C., is calling out the National Park Service for allowing Native people to gather medicinal plants and roots on park lands. PEER says the practice is against the park’s own rules. But tribal people have fought long and hard to regain access to these vital plants and the NPS director has reportedly said he feels the regulations against Native people having access is wrong. Will the rules be changed? Invited guests include PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch.



Tuesday, August 24, 2010- To Be or Not To Be a Tribal Leader:


Have you ever considered running for a leadership position in your tribal government? Why or why not? Would you be willing to make the call on important decisions that will resonate for several generations? Have current tribal administrations and/or leaders turned you off from ever wanting to add tribal chairman or tribal council member to your resumè? Or, do current leaders make you wish that tribal voting day was just around the corner so you could make your mark? We open up our phone lines to hear your thoughts on being the one leading the tribal charge.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010- Book of the Month: Flood Song:

In his second book, Sherwin Bitsui (Navajo) intones landscapes real and imagined, remaining reverent to his family’s indigenous traditions while simultaneously indebted to European modernism and surrealism. Bitsui is at the forefront of a younger generation of Native writers. His poems are highly imagistic and constantly in motion, drawing as readily upon Diné myths, customs, and medicine songs as they do contemporary language and poetics. His latest work “Flood Song” was recently selected as a winner of the 31st annual American Book Awards for 2010.

Thursday, August 26, 2010- Reducing Back to School Stress:

Elementary, high school and college kids are flocking back to school and into new routines. They’ll have new classmates, new teachers and maybe even a new school to navigate. New surroundings bring with them new expectations and more intense schoolwork. Experts say helping your student understand what changes they’ll face can greatly reduce their back-to-school anxiety and can even help prevent high school and college students from dropping out. How do you alleviate yours and your child’s anxiety? Guests TBA.



Friday, August 27, 2010- Can Indian Girls Do Science?:


There is a glaring within our society misconception that girls don’t do science. And it stretches even further when you include Native girls. The American Indian Science and Engineering Society, or AISES, is determined to lay these tired old myths to rest once and for all. AISES is eager to explain about the many ways that Native Americans in general, and women in particular, are blazing exciting paths in science and technology. Half of AISES’ 2000-strong membership is made up of women. Do Indian contributions to technology extend no further than stargazers and Code Talkers? Guests TBA.

Native America Calling Airs Live

Monday – Friday, 1-2pm Eastern

Tim Lange aka Meteor Blades:

Before I get started on that somewhat sordid history that she wants me to tell I want to reiterate something that she talked about, and that’s the Native American Rights Fund. I’ve been associated with the Native American Rights Fund in a sort of ad hoc years for forty years. This is their fortieth anniversary, and I wrote the first interview with people at the Native American Rights Fund about three months after they got going. Since then, over those forty years they’ve had personal tragedies.  Five of their members were killed in a horrible car accident almost twenty years ago. They have won some mini cases, most of them small that you would never hear of and they have lost many more cases that they have fought. They continue to battle for Indian rights through the law which can be extremely difficult, if there’s anything more complicated than water law in the United States, it’s Indian law. There’s contradiction, there’s state vs. federal, there is contradictory decisions made by federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s a morass. So, if you have extra money at some time and you’d like to contribute to an organization that I think is one of the premier ones in terms of Native

, Native American Rights Fund. They’re in Boulder, Colorado and I’m sure they’d be pleased to receive anything that you’d like to give them.

It’s true, as Neeta says, I have risked my life a number of times and as Land of Enchantment said here; sometimes you don’t know it ahead of time.

You just step into a situation and there it is.

My background is, I was not born in a reservation, I was born in Southern Georgia, and both my parents are Seminole. My mother is what we would say a half-blood, a quantum, and my father was a full blood. We spoke when I was young and we learned both English and a dialect of Creek, which the Seminoles who live in northern Oklahoma and southern Florida speak.

The Seminoles in southern Florida, who are also known as Migsukis speak another language, it’s related. I have lost almost all of that language over the years and there are a couple of reasons for that. One, really only lived as a clan, as I should call it, until I was nine years old. And then we moved to first Nebraska, and then Colorado.

My mother was able to pass white most of the time; she did not want anyone to know that she was an Indian. And she was, as you can see I’m pretty white too, as many Seminoles are and it was the thing for her to do and it complicated my coming to grips with my own heritage. Not only did I loose my language, but I lost a lot of contact with my family. She was estranged from her father and my grandmother died, actually 55 years ago next month. So there was a disconnection from the people who had the real connection on the reservation and to our own heritage. And that, until I was in my early twenties, really disconnected me from, in a way, who I was although I also became somebody else as a result of that disconnection. It was when I was in high school I first caught some discrimination against Indians. It wasn’t directed at me at first; it was directed at the only other American Indian who was in the school that I was going to. That school was Irvana High School in Irvana Colorado and the high school mascot was the Redskins, which today a lot of people would say, “Well that’s horrible, and lots of school have changed that.” And Irvana, in the 1990’s has changed its name as well. But in those days nobody, except us that were redskins thought that that was awful. And our attempt, first of all this other person’s attempt to change that became his and my attempt to change that, and we failed.

And we were ridiculed, widely ridiculed for it, and that was the first taste of anything, it certainly wasn’t a risk to my life, although there were a few fistfights over it. That is where I first got the idea of being different besides the fact that I could pass being white, that being different meant something.

When I was seventeen I heard the speech, the “I Have A Dream” speech  Martin Luther King gave in Washington and that catalyzed me to want to do something about the situation in the South, where I was born and partially raised.  And so I was one of the two youngest people at seventeen to join the Freedom Summer organization, which was in theory both a racial equality, and a student non-violent coordinating committee project to register voters in Mississippi in the summer of 1964.  As I’m sure all of you know, three people were killed very early on that summer. As a matter of fact they had disappeared just four days before the people that people on the bus that I was riding with arrived in Jackson, just four days before.  Everybody knew they were dead, everybody knew they were dead, but nobody was quite saying that openly yet, but we knew it and we knew that we were going to be risking our lives going out from that very moment.  

I was very fortunate in having a man named Charlie Biggers, an African-American who’d been born in Indiana, one of those famous Klan states at one time. His parents had faced down the Klan.  He was about seven or eight years older than me and he had also been on the Freedom Rides earlier. So he took me under his wing and we went door to door, and when we were done at the end of that summer we had registered exactly eleven people.

Overall, the entire state, 1200 people were registered to vote of the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of African Americans in Mississippi that was the total number we could register.  And it was because the people who were killed, two white people and one black person, weren’t the first. During that summer two bodies were found in a swamp. They were both young black men, one of which actually had a SNIC (Student Non-Violent Committee) t-shirt on his body, and it was found that way.

These were people who had killed before and it happened many, many years before. People who had died on their own private property, people who had died on their own private property.   People who’d been taken out and murdered simply because they wanted to enforce a law that had been passed right after the Civil War.  So, that was sort of my first experience, I’ve never had anybody try directly to kill me in that project but you walked up to some doors and people would stand in their doorways and say “no closer.” I mean these were African-Americans who were saying “look you go home when you’re done and we don’t.” Everyday their risk was so much greater than ours even thought there was that little threat against us.

So, over the years I got involved in the anti-war movement, continued in the civil rights movement. Then in 1969 I went to prison because I refused to go to Vietnam. I got my draft notice and I went in and said, “I’m not going.” And then they gave me my induction notice which is “report now,” and I said “no” and within in a few weeks I was on my way to Arizona where I spent thirteen months in a prison camp with many other people who were also resisters, and had other issues, we were separate from the Federal prison system, in a way. It wasn’t like being thrown into a regular prison at all, as a matter of fact we spent most of four days outside cutting brush and doing that hard labor, but a lot better than what any prison then was like and much less like what any prison is now where they’ve become much, much, worse despite all the modernization.

When I came out of prison I almost immediately joined the American Indian Movement. I had been following it for some time and was interested in what they were doing and I liked the Pan-Indian aspect of it, that this was not tribally based, it was something that would unite lots of groups across lots of cultures and languages. Each reservation has similar problems, but yet they are unique and this really appealed to me. So I joined AIM and the first project that occurred then was the “Trail of Broken Treaties march that was a march across the country.  Lots of people marched all the way from California and Oregon all the way to Washington, D.C.

I didn’t join until they reached Cleveland and then marched in. We were there and we were supposed to meet with certain politicians that we had set up ahead of time, but that didn’t happen.  What did happen was we ended up taking over the BIA headquarters for ten days. And in that process, some of you I can tell are old enough to remember, we liberated some files.  Tens of thousands of BIA files, several of which later became lawsuits, including a relatively recent one that was resolved.  That’s forty years ago and some of this stuff is still relevant today.  Essentially, in a nutshell, what those documents showed was that which we all knew but these were the details. The BIA had been screwing the tribes for decades by sweetheart deals with contract people, grazing land, mining trust fund moneys, oil revenues, you name it.  The BIA was giving away one more bit of Indian property, if you will. That’s something that’s been going on with the BIA since 1860, that’s when it started and it still hasn’t ended.

In 1973, about ten days after the siege of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation started I slipped in a back way to join the siege.  And there were other people who tried to do it, some of who made it, some of who did not get in, they got blocked because by that time the Federal Marshals and the F.B.I. had surrounded the site and they were heavily armed, they were perfectly willing to use their arms against people. Not many people were killed but lots of people were shot at so this was a major risk. And I stayed for 55 of the 71 days, I stayed there until about five days before it was over when it became clear that the talks that were going on and everything that had been negotiated were going to mean the end of the siege a lot of people left ahead of time rather than wait to what some of us thought, by that time, would be mass arrest. Before that time there were days when we thought, remember this started in February). There were days that we thought we might end up like the original Wounded Knee Massacre where, as I’m sure a lot of you know the story. It’s a horrible story and it’s documented somewhat by photographs that are equally horrible, when in the neighborhood of about three-hundred Minneconjou people were massacred, Massacred, there’s no other word for it, massacred by the 7th Calvary, which some of whom had been at Little Big Horn as well, so this was seen by some as revenge.

I suppose some people would say, “Well, you were romantics to think that you were going to repeat this situation.” But if you’d have been there you’d understand, I mean the amount of racism that we got, not from the reservation, but from the local community there, from the Federal officers who were there, and from a good deal of the media after the initially,   “um, look well they’ve really got some legitimate gripes.” The media eventually turned against us.

Over the years, we turned against ourselves. This is something that I think all Progressives need to ponder at great length. It’s not just what happened to the American Indian Movement, but its what happens to Progressives so much, Dee knows this as well as anyone in the room, I think.

We devour our own so readily, the right wing doesn’t do that. And why that’s the case, why we do that has something to do with the fact that we allow ourselves to disagree with each other. We thrive on disagreement, progress is made by disagreement, but somehow we so often take it beyond that disagreement, and that’s what happened to A.I.M.

A.I.M. took it beyond that; people were killed because of that disagreement. The organization itself now essentially has three divisions, if you will; but basically they’re all phantoms. Essentially the organization doesn’t exist anymore as any kind of political clout at all, which is terrible because it really had the opportunity to really make a big difference at one time. And that opportunity was lost at charges that this or that member was a cop, an F.B.I. agent, was really on the other side. Some of it was personality driven, some of it was driven by different ideologies, that’s always going to be the case, and some of it was really just driven by ignorance I think, and an unwillingness to overcome some of those other things to make progress for us all.

I today see some of that happening despite the fact that here we are, the fifth year now for YearlyKos/Netroots Nation at a flex time let’s say, for the future. The split within the Progressive movement over President Obama I think is something we’ve all seen elements of throughout the blogosphere and through our face-to-face interactions.

I’m not going to take a position on any of that right now but I just think that’s something that’s going on and that’s a message that I really hope everybody ponders carefully, because if we split, if we divide now, if we devour our own now at this time when we could have the greatest impact for future change, we can only blame ourselves for it. And for those of you who are under fifty in the room, there’s at least a few people, it’s not going to affect me so much, it’s going to affect you, because I’ll be dead, a lot of us will be dead, but it’s that change.

Somebody once told me, I can’t remember who it was now, and it was a long time ago; “Being a Progressive is not a destination, it’s a journey.”

We’re never done as Progressives we’re never done.

When every gay person in this country has a right to get married at the Federal level, we won’t be done. When racism is, let’s not say wiped out, far reduced from what it is today; we won’t be done. When sexism is much reduced, when reproductive rights is not a continuing fight, when we actually do have a health reform with single payer; we won’t be done.  There’ll be something else to do, always something else to do and hopefully there’ll be somebody else to fight it. But Progressives in my lifetime have made so many mistakes, that are not a bad thing except for that one mistake; and that one mistake is eating our own.

We’ve got to stop doing that.

That doesn’t mean we should stop disagreeing with each other, that’s not going to happen, and it shouldn’t happen, we need to be disagreeing with each other. But if people in the future are going to risk their lives we owe it to them to strive for some unity within our differences to make them want to risk their lives to make things better in the future.

That’s the message that I hope everybody here takes with them.  




Neeta Lind aka navjo

My name is Neeta Lind, I also blog as “Navajo”. I’m the founder of Native American Netroots, also known as NAN. I lead the Native American caucus every year; I’ve led it every year since 2006.

And this is Tim Lange, also known as the famous “Meteor Blades.”

I’m going to talk a little bit about myself in the beginning here and then give you a summary of our caucus meetings over the last five years and then we’ll hear Tim recount his amazing history of Indian activism, and after that we’ll open it up for questions and comments.

(A few technical updates)

“A little bit about myself, my mother was born on the Navajo Reservation near Inscription House Canyon, northern Arizona. She was forcefully taken away from her family at five or six years of age and sent to the U.S. government boarding school. Their program of assimilation worked, mother moved off the reservation, married a white man, my father, and deliberately didn’t teach us the Navajo language as she was advised at the boarding school. So, I’m an assimilated Indian, I live in the San Francisco Bay area .

Fortunately I have a very strong family on the rez and have maintained close ties with them to immerse my children in the culture and the language.  I’m also fortunate that my grandfather and some uncles were Medicine Men, this is a highly respected position in any tribe and they also strive to maintain the traditional lifestyle as well. I visit once or twice a year and I’m taking Navajo language courses as my way to combat assimilation.

A little bit about how our caucus got started in 2006. Gina Cooper, the original director for YearlyKos,  asked me to host the Native American Caucus at the first convention. After that first caucus I made a blog, “Native American Netroots,” to collect diaries and start to form a group. I linked to many American Indian blogs and news sources that I could find.  I also hosted our caucus in Chicago in 2007, Austin 2008, then and Pittsburgh in 2009. Last year I peeked into the American Indian and Latino caucus room and they were jammed packed, our first year we had six people attend, the following years after that we had about a dozen each time. It says a lot about the obstacles we face when we try to organize as American Indians.  The factors of poverty and remoteness of our reservations contribute to the difficulty of community discussion for American Indians online.  

I’ve been on this quest for five years to to  find Progressive Native voices, to give them a place to write and interact. It has been slow building, our readership at NAN, and finding writers.

February 2010 provided a compelling event that caused many people to rally and join Native American Netroots in a more compelling way. There were terrible ice storms that devastated the reservations in South Dakota. Tribal members were running out of propane, electricity had been cut off for weeks. Chris Road broke the story at Daily Kos one day and I offered to re-post her diary when it rolled off the recent list with only a few comments. Chris gave the story to me, I blogged about it every day because Indians were freezing to death. We did an interesting thing that I’m proud of, we cut out the middleman charity organizations and provided direct phone numbers to the local propane companies. Kossacks bought tanks of same day service propane for deserving families on the list provided by our contacts on the reservation.

We also listed large charity organizations but knew that they’d be slower to respond. Then an extraordinary thing happened, Keith Olbermann took our story and  broadcast it on Countdown. exmearden, whose a member  of our NAN group put up a celebratory diary and Keith commented in it, thanking us for brining this issue to his attention. I nearly had a heart attack. He listed one of the charity groups, donors nation wide raised hundreds of thousands of dollars overnight. Keith reported this the next night, it may have been my finest hour this year. I was so please that one of the national news broadcasters finally picked up the story.

Another great thing happened, I had a large group of bloggers volunteer who wanted to bring attention to poverty and lack of opportunity on the reservation, and most importantly they wanted to be a part of a pro-active work to minimize disasters like this in the future. So may NAN team was created, I was no longer a team of one. We have a great group of twenty people with important fields of expertise who write and contribute behind the scenes with planning. My contributing editors, Aji and oke, have helped set up Twitter and Facebook for us.  They are gathering news and posting regular diaries at Daily Kos and NAN.

I’m sure many of you have read Winter Rabbit and Ojibwa’s diaries. We’re also looking for advisors for our group. Advisors must live on a reservation,  we have three on Rosebud, cacamp, lpggirl, and sarahlee, and two on Pine Ridge, Autumn Two Bulls and Kevin Kellor.

I think American Indians, as a totality, are getting attention at Daily Kos  because of our group of bloggers. The plan going forward is to team with the other American Indian blogs and services to bring attention to our reservations.  We are currently building alliance with IndnsList right now.  Their mission is to get  more Native Americans elected to public office. One of my next little tasks is to add the Native American Rights Fund to our link list. NARF’s practice is concentrated in five key areas: The preservation of tribal existence, the protection of tribal natural resources, the promotion of Native American human rights,  the accountability of our government to Native Americans, and the development of Indian law and educating the public about Indian rights law and issues, so that’s an important one.

The renowned photographer, Aaron Huey, who has been featured in the New York Times and Vanity Fair, sent me an email in June asking for help in sharing his recent T.E.D. talk. I gladly built a diary for him using his video, transcript, and some of his amazing photos to tell the important story of Pine Ridge and their broken treaties. My diary made the Recommended list at Daily Kos early in the evening and stayed on all night. This contact by Mr. Huey shows that we are reaching a large audience and people with interest in benefiting American Indians can come together and take action to help our people.

We are making a difference.

A wonderful recent development is that Sherry Cornelius, who personally delivered propane for us through her mother’s company, St. Francis Energy, on the Rosebud rez during the S. Dakota ice storm is flying to Las Vegas tomorrow. And I quote, “my purpose for this trip is so that I may be able to meet in person some of the DailyKos people and personally to be able to shake your hands and say “thank you.” So, I’m really looking forward to that, I thought that was quite amazing. Sherry now has a user ID at Dkos and NAN, and participates in comments now and then. We’ve made her one of us.

As some of you know I post photo diaries at Netroots Nation every year and I’ll post photos of our visit with Sherry there.

When I was a team of one it was very difficult addressing all the issues of our people, and now it’s much easier with a team, but we need more help. For example, there is the idea of finding financing for wind   farms for the reservations, Land of Enchantment suggested we join forces with Jerome a Paris. This is a fantastic idea but I need someone more knowledgeable about it to head this partnership up. We had a team member who was very interested in the wind farm idea, but he has dropped out of DailyKos and NAN. My point is we need more people on the team to drive theses different issues.  

This past Monday I received an email from a new writer, “abeartracks,” who had just posted a diary at NAN. His issues haven’t received much attention, so he’s been adding this info to any blog he can find and sending it to news site. It’s interesting and I thought I’d mention it here. In 1940 Congress passed the soldiers and sailors civil relief act that barred states from deducting state income taxes from native vets who lived on reservations.  The act was renewed in 2006, however states deducted tax in violation of the 1940 law up until 2001. In 2004 Tom Udall introduced a bill to provide payment to these Vets, it went nowhere and now the policy contains a statute of limitations that prevent recovery. In 2009 New Mexico Legislator, Linda Lovejoy, who is Navajo by the way, introduced a bill to repay, the interest. It was signed into law. So I’m not sure how this is going to turn out now, or how it’s going to be funded, but it’s a good thing that an individual like abeartracks, using new media, can write information about this issue and this is precisely what I want our blog to be about, new voices getting on.

So, please help me grow this blog by inviting people in the comment threads to join,  and if you’d like to be part of the editorial staff at NAN, please email me.

With that I’d like to introduce Tim Lange. Tim has become a very good friend of mine over the years and I read nearly everything he writes. I look for his comments in other people’s diaries and I’ve found some real gems and that’s why I’ve asked him to speak. His personal history of Indian  activism is astonishing and I think inspirational for you to hear his timeline of accomplishment.

How many of you have ever risked your life for political activism, or Indian activism?


red_black_rug_design2

Ancient America: Besh-Ba-Gowah

( – promoted by oke)

One example of a Salado Culture pueblo can be found near the city of Globe, Arizona. South of the city at the confluence of Pinal Creek and Ice House Canyon Wash is the Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park.

Seven hundred years ago, the Salado people built a number of pueblos in this area. At this time, there was a continually flowing spring near this site which provided the people with water. Pinal Creek flowed throughout the year and contained fish. Eventually, the Salado people constructed eight villages along Pinal Creek.  

Besh-Ba-Gowah 2

The largest Salado pueblo along Pinal Creek is the Gila Pueblo which was built around the year 1225. This pueblo included four-story buildings. The pueblo was destroyed by an earthquake in 1340.

The earthquake of 1340 also destroyed the Besh-Ba-Gowah pueblo. The Salado people rebuilt both the Gila pueblo and the Besh-Ba-Gowah in 1345.

The Besh-Ba-Gowah pueblo had about 400 rooms, and of these about 250 were ground floor rooms. As with other pueblos, entrance to the rooms was usually from the top. In other words, people would climb to the roof on ladders and then descend into the room through a ladder from the roof. The roofs were constructed of logs which were then covered with reeds, mats, and a thick coat of mud.

Entrance to the pueblo was via a long, narrow, ground level corridor covered by the second level. The corridor opened onto the main plaza. This may have had had defensive purpose.

The main plaza of Besh-Ba-Gowah was about 12 meters by 27 meters. High status individuals-about 150 in all-were buried under this plaza.

The largest room in the Besh-Ba-Gowah pueblo is designated as a ceremonial room by present-day archaeologists. The room includes a sipapu-a hole in the floor representing the hole in the earth through which the people emerged into the present world-which is filled with turquoise dust and covered with a large quartz crystal. The room also has a series of built-in benches at various levels.

At Besh-Ba-Gowah, the Salado people cultivated corn, squash, pumpkins, and beans.  Water was carried from the creek to their fields through a series of rock lined irrigation ditches.

The growing season for this area was 228 days long. This meant that the Salado people had to harvest their corn prior to the fall equinox.

In addition to growing crops, they also gathered many wild plants from the surrounding countryside. These included Agave, Yucca, Dasylirium, Opuntia, Mammilaria, Prosopis, Acacia, Larrea, Quercus, Simmodsia, Populus, Pinus, Juniperus, Juglens, Celtis, Vitis, Amaranthus, and Phragmites.

Besh-Ba-Gowah  was a part of a major trade route from Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico. This trade route came up the San Pedro River drainage and passed along Pinal Creek en route to the Salado River. The trade route was in use from 1100 to 1450 AD. The largest pueblos on Pinal Creek were cosmopolitan trade centers. The Salado people exported ground pigments, turquoise, beads, and ceramic bowls.

The Besh-Ba-Gowah potters were masters of the craft. The apex of their product is Gila Polychrome. Salado Culture pottery has the largest areal distribution of any Southwest ware.

At Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park today’s visitors can walk through a 700 year old Salado Culture pueblo, climb ladders to second story rooms and view the typical furnishings of the era. Numerous artifacts of this remarkably advanced culture are also displayed in the Besh-Ba-Gowah Museum. Besh-Ba-Gowah has one of the largest single site archaeological collections in the southwest and is one of the most significant finds of Southwest archaeology. It is one of the largest and most complex of the Salado communities.

Inside the museum two models of the ruins are presented. One shows the present condition. The other is a hypothetical reconstruction of the pueblo in 1325. It shows 20 courtyards and 2 three-story sections. One of the displays illustrates the archaeologist’s tool kit.

Stone items on display at the museum include manos and metates, delicate carved stone palettes, stone axes and hoes, obsidian points, turquoise beads, local minerals and a bow drill for bead making. Shell jewelry shows that the trading networks extended to the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Fabric artifacts include woven baskets and mats, sandals woven from yucca leaves, and fine woven cloth.

One wall of the museum is covered with shelves of ancient pottery two pieces deep. A wide and diverse range of pottery includes red and white ware and plain and decorated pots. Besh-Ba-Gowah has a high percentage of decorated ware. The painted wares include Gila, Pinto and Tonto polychromes. Some Gila polychrome have Mimbres-like designs of stylized bird, insect and animal motifs. A unique type of local pottery is the donut-shaped canteen.

Prior to the establishment of the Salado culture pueblos along Pinal Creek, there were a number of Hohokam sites in the area. The earliest Hohokam settlement of the area dates to around 550 and one Hohokam village was occupied continuously from 800 to 1150.

Besh-Ba-Gowah 2

Besh-Ba-Gowah is an Apache word meaning “Place of Metals,” and refers to modern mining activity.

National Parks & American Indians: Glacier National Park

( – promoted by navajo)

Glacier National Park was designated our nation’s 10th national park on May 11, 1910. Half of the new park was formed by the “mineral strip” which had been sold by the Blackfoot to the United States in 1895. The enabling legislation for the park, however, contained no reference to the Blackfoot, nor does it acknowledge their hunting, fishing, and timber rights to the area, rights which they had reserved in their treaty with the government. The tribe was not invited to the congressional hearing about the park.

Lake McDonald

Glacier’s first superintendent was William Richard Logan, the son of an Army captain who made a career out of fighting Indians. He was no friend to Indians, calling them “natural beggars and bummers” and subsequently served as the Indian agent to the Blackfeet and to the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre at the Fort Belknap Reservation. Since he also had little sympathy for conservation, he was made superintendent of Glacier National Park and introduced programs that were developmental rather than environmental.  

Glacier National Park, according to archaeological data and Native American oral tradition, has been used by American Indians for more than 10,000 years. When the first Euroamerican explorers began entering the region about two hundred years ago, the Blackfoot controlled the prairies to the east of the Park and used the mountains in the park for hunting, for ceremonies, and for gathering plants. The Salish-speaking tribes (Pend d’Oreille, Kalispel, Flathead) and the Kootenai lived in the valleys to the west.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the policy of the American government was that all Indians were to become farmers with small, family farms. All other forms of economic development were discouraged. Therefore, when there were rumors about the possibility of gold in the mountains on the western portion of the Blackfoot reservation, there was no consideration given to the possibility that the Indians could mine the gold themselves. All of the Americans agreed that the Indians would have to sell the land so that the gold could be exploited by non-Indian mining interests.

In 1895 representatives from the United States government met with 35 handpicked Blackfoot leaders. The United States wanted to purchase the western mountains, but the Blackfoot were reluctant to sell. Under much pressure, the handpicked leaders agreed to the sale and asked for $3 million, but the government paid them only $1.5 million.

The mountainous area involved in the sale was an area in which the Blackfoot traditionally hunted, fished, gathered plants, cut timber, and conducted religious ceremonies. Indian religions were illegal at this time so the Blackfoot were quiet about the spiritual use of the mountains. However, since the government seemed concerned about minerals, the Blackfoot insisted that they must maintain all non-mineral rights to the area. White Calf told the Americans:

“I would like to have the right to hunt game and fish in the mountains. We will sell you the mountain lands from Birch Creek to the boundary, reserving the timber and grazing land.”

One of the American negotiators was George Bird Grinnell who felt that there would be few minerals found in the area. Grinnell, however, felt that it was important to destroy Indian cultures by breaking up the communal ownership of land. Grinnell also felt that the area had great scenic potential and could be a tourist destination.

Indians and Hunting:

Two years after the creation of Glacier National Park, two Blackfoot hunters were arrested for hunting in their usual areas within the park. Their firearms, traps, and hides were taken from them. The Department of the Interior later instructed the park to return these items, but the Indians were not to be allowed in the park.

At this time, non-Indians were allowed to hunt in the park and government hunters were actively seeking to exterminate coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions within the park. While the Blackfoot felt that the treaty had reserved their right to hunt in the park, the government simply ignored their concerns.

In 1924, Peter Oscar Little Chief began to circulate a petition among the Blackfoot calling for a recognition of their hunting rights in Glacier National Park. He claimed that the Blackfoot retained these rights in their 1895 treaty:

“We sold to the U.S. Government nothing but rocks only. We still control timber, grass, water, and all big or small game or all the animals living in this [sic] mountains”

He submitted his petition to the Bureau of Indian affairs, but received no response.

In 1929, Peter Oscar Little Chief complained to Senator James Walsh that the Bureau of Indian Affairs had not responded to his 1924 petition regarding Blackfoot hunting rights in Glacier National Park. Walsh contacted the Commissioner of Indian Affairs who knew nothing about the petition but informed Walsh that Indians had no hunting rights in the park.

In 1929, assuming that the Blackfoot were subject to state law, the National Park Service attempted to end hunting near the eastern border of the park. Wardens arrested Blackfoot and Cree hunters for killing elk east of the park boundary. The judge, however, released the men and returned the elk to them. State officials were angered by the judge’s decision and demanded further prosecution. The National Park Service then advised the Indian agent in Browning, the capital of the Blackfoot Nation, that the elk in Glacier National Park were not native, but had been imported from Yellowstone National Park and therefore the Indians did not have the right to hunt them. The Indians simply laughed at this tale.

In 1955, the deer and elk herds in Glacier National Park increased beyond the park’s capacity. Rangers killed many animals and drove others onto the adjacent Blackfoot reservation. Blackfoot hunters, however, were not allowed to hunt the animals within the park.

In 1991, Blackfoot tribal chairman Earl Old Person, commenting on Indian rights to hunt, fish, gather, and cut timber in Glacier National Park, said: “We only sold them the rocks.”

In 2000, two Blackfoot tribal members killed two bighorn sheep in Glacier National Park. When the two were charged with violating a federal wildlife protection statute, they argued that the Blackfoot have treaty hunting rights to the area. They pointed out that in the1896 agreement with the United States, the tribe retained its right to hunt, fish, and harvest timber in the area. The federal judge did not agree and one of the two men was found guilty of violating the Lacey Act which prohibits the sale of wildlife parts when the animals are killed illegally.

Indians and Tourists:

Glacier National Park was created in part because of the commercial interests of the Great Northern Railway. The park provided a tourist destination and the Great Northern provided the transportation and also owned the concessions within the park. Great Northern promoted the park as an “Indian” destination and referred to the Blackfoot as “Glacier Park Indians.” Tourists were met by Indians as they got off the train and there were tipis around the park lodges.

As a part of its Glacier National Park promotion, the Great Northern Railway in 1915 produced a movie entitled A Day in the Life of a Glacier Park Indian. In addition, the Great Northern Railway took six Blackfoot to the San Francisco Exhibition where they presented lectures, movies, and transparencies about Glacier National Park.

In 1928, the Great Northern Railway published American Indian Portraits which featured paintings of Blackfoot Indians.

Indian Rights:

The Blackfoot and the Kootenai had explored and used what is now Glacier National Park for thousands of years and during this time they had given names to all of the major geographic features of the area. The United States government, however, ignored the aboriginal names and proceeded to rename these features. Thus the mountain known as Napi (Old Man or Trickster) to the Blackfoot was named Mount Cleveland in 1898 as a way of honoring President Grover Cleveland.  The glacier known as Azina Kokutoi (Gros Ventre Ice) to the Blackfoot was named Dixon Glacier in honor of Senator Joseph M. Dixon, who had helped push through the legislation which established Glacier National Park. Dixon also pushed through a bill which broke up the Flathead Reservation and added greatly to his personal wealth. The list of geographic features named for presidents, wealthy men, politicians, and their friends is fairly long.

In 1915, Blackfoot leaders Curly Bear, Wolf Plume, and Tail Feathers Coming Over The Hill visited Washington, D.C. to complain about the renaming of mountains, lakes, rivers, and glaciers in Glacier National Park. The Indians wanted Blackfoot names used and they were promised that in the future only Indian names or their translations would be used.

In 1925, as a part of a publicity program for the Park,  author J.W. Schultz, known for his autobiographical novel My Life as an Indian, began a program of assigning Blackfoot names to the Park’s features. Working with Eli Guardipee, Curly Bear, and other Blackfoot elders, the plan was to begin at the southeastern corner of the Park and work northward along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. The idea was to assign names of Indians painted by George Catlin and Charles Bodmer rather than reasserting the aboriginal names.

In 1929, the National Park Service proposed to enlarge Glacier National Park by adding more Blackfoot land to the park. Ignoring the Blackfoot, the National Park Service asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs for help in the matter and enlisted the aid of an “Indian expert”. The park was told that the Blackfoot would not give up an additional area to the park for any money consideration.

In 1973, Blackfoot tribal member Woodrow L. Kipp refused to pay the entrance fee to Glacier National Park and was cited. In federal court Kipp was acquitted because of the 1895 agreement which allows the tribe free access to public lands taken from the tribe.

In 1975, the Blackfoot with the aid of the Native American Rights Fund petitioned the Secretary of the Interior claiming that the tribe has retained rights in the ceded “mineral strip” area which became Glacier National Park. Environmentalists condemned the Blackfoot:

“Indians may destroy something of value to both themselves and the rest of the nation.”

The Department of the Interior rejected the petition.

In 1973, Blackfoot tribal member Darrell R. Momberg was arrested for tree cutting inside Glacier National Park. While the 1895 agreement does allow timber harvest, Momberg was convicted because he had not cut the wood for personal use as specified in the agreement.

Dam Indians: Bonneville Dam

( – promoted by navajo)

While the Army Corps of Engineers had proposed a series of dams on the Columbia River in 1929, no action was taken on this proposal until the advent of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Work on the Bonneville Dam, located 40 miles east of Portland, began in 1934 and provided much-needed employment for thousands of people. The dam was completed in 1937 and began generating commercial power in 1938. With the emphasis on the economic gains, there was little or no consideration given to the impact of the dam on the Columbia River Indians.  

Bonneville 1

Construction of the dam destroyed the homes of living Indians as well as those of the dead. The Wasco village of Chief Banaha was used as the north anchor for the dam, and Bradford Island, an ancient Indian burial ground, served as its central anchor. The human remains dug up on the island were reburied by the Army Corps of Engineers in a single grave on the north shore about five miles east of the dam.

The dam is named for army captain Benjamin Bonneville who explored the Columbia River in the 1830s.

In 1937, the superintendent for the Umatilla Reservation wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs expressing concern that Bonneville Dam would flood many fishing places guaranteed to the Indians by treaty. He suggested that the Indians might have a claim to compensation. In response, the acting solicitor for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) wrote a legal analysis of the problem. He concluded that the Indians had a possible claim for compensation of the destruction of their fishing places. He suggested that the BIA negotiate a settlement with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Public Works Administration (the dam’s source of funding). In the report, the solicitor noted that the Supreme Court had ruled that fishing was not a right granted to the Indians, but an aboriginal right which the Indians had specifically retained in their treaties.

In order to document the loss of Indian fishing sites caused by the Bonneville Dam, a BIA attorney toured the Indian fishing sites on the Columbia River.  Elders named the sites and the attorney meticulously marked them on the map. In addition, a BIA photographer took a photo of each site so that the changes to the site could be recorded as the reservoir filled. The Indians pointed out 27 fishing sites. The following year, the BIA returned to photograph the fishing sites which had been flooded by Bonneville Dam. The photographer found only an expanse of calm water. The sites had been flooded.

In 1938, concerned about the loss of Indian fishing sites due to the construction of Bonneville Dam, John Herrick, the assistant to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers division engineer recommending that the Army buy land and construct improvements for Indian fishing stations. He suggested a meeting with the BIA and the Corps and noted:

“Later, or course, it will be necessary to bring representatives of the Indian tribes involved into the discussion….During your talks, you can decide at what point the representatives of the Indians should be brought into the picture”

Col. John C.H. Lee of the Army Corps of Engineers insisted that the War Department take no action until the tribes submitted a claim in writing. The Corps and the BIA basically agreed the claim would place no monetary value on the damage. In addition, the claim should include a request for a conference between the Army and the Indians, with the reservation superintendents included.

The following year representatives from the Warm Springs, Umatilla, and Yakama tribes met with the BIA at The Dalles, Oregon to discuss damages to fishing sites caused by the Bonneville Dam. The tribes then met with the Army Corps of Engineers.   During the day-long meeting, little progress was made toward an agreement. The tribal cultures stressed the need for consensus in reaching a decision rather than a command from the top. On the other hand, the Army Corps officers, bound to the Army’s strict military command structure, could not comprehend the Indians’ way.

Two dozen traditional fishing sites would be destroyed and the Army Corps of Engineers promised to provide the Indians with six sites totaling 400 acres. Over the next 40 years, the Army Corps of Engineers actually provided only five sites and a total of 40 acres.

In 1941, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a four-acre site along the Columbia River as an in-lieu site for the Indian fishing sites lost through the construction of Bonneville Dam. Lt. Col. C. R. Moore of the Army Corps of Engineers indicated that Indians had no say in this arrangement since they were wards of the government.

In 1947, the only in-lieu fishing site provided by the Army Corps of Engineers to make up for two dozen sites lost through the construction of Bonneville Dam was blocked by a non-Indian logger. The logger had constructed a road through the Indian housing area and was dumping logs into the White Salmon River, blocking Indian access. The Corps ordered the logging company to move, but it refused. The Corps then turned the matter over to the United States attorney for Western Washington who filed suit against the company for illegally building on government property and obstructing a navigable stream. The loggers stayed at the site.

In 1952, the Army Corps of Engineers stopped all improvement work on in-lieu fishing sites. The Corps took the position that the $50,000 appropriated by Congress in 1945 for the in-lieu sites was for land purchases only and that no improvements can be made until all of the land is purchased.

The Indians from the Mid-Columbia tribes continued to pressure the Army Corps of Engineers to obtain for them the in-lieu fishing sites which had been promised when Bonneville dam destroyed their traditional fishing sites. In 1953, the Corps found what they felt would be an ideal site at Cascade Locks. There were government buildings on the property which included sanitary facilities and the area was a part of what had been a major tribal fishing area until the construction of the Cascade Locks in the nineteenth century. Opposition to the proposed in-lieu site came from a group calling themselves the Cascade Locks Citizens Committee. The group denied that they were motivated by racial discrimination, but argued that Indians, unlike industry, would bring neither new taxable wealth nor jobs.  They complained that the area selected was man-made and that the Indians had never fished in it. They were apparently unaware that the first full-scale report on Indian fishing listed the Cascade Locks as a major Indian fishing site. Freshman Republican congressman Samuel H. Coon, a staunch advocate of private power, intervened and as a result the Corps sold the land to the Port of Cascade Locks.

In 1954, the director of the Washington state department of Fisheries considered closing all commercial fishing at the Indian in-lieu sites,  He stated that the Indians did not have any special fishing rights at these sites and that the state has the right to control fishing and enforce its regulations against Indian violators.

At the same time, the Oregon Fish Commission conceded that Indians had treaty-protected fishing rights at their usual and accustomed places, but these rights might not apply to other locations, such as in the in-lieu sites. The chairman of the commission states:

“We formally protest the granting of these sites to the tribes for it is our belief that the major use to which they can be put is that of fishing and fishing is a threat to the continuance of the salmon runs.”

In 1955 Congress provided the Army Corps of Engineers with an additional $185,000 for the purchase of in-lieu fishing sites as promised when Bonneville Dam was built. In addition, the money was to be used for building sanitary and other facilities. The additional funding was opposed by the Oregon Fish Commission. As the bill was working its way through Congress, the Army Corps of Engineers turned down a number of offers to obtain land for the in-lieu sites saying it didn’t need any more land. In fact, the Corps still owed the Indians two more sites and an additional 300 acres of land.

In 1959, the Army Corps of Engineers told Congress that it could do no more work on the in-lieu fishing sites. The Corps asked for a release from further efforts. Initially, the Corps had promised the Indians six in-lieu sites totaling 400 acres and in the twenty years since the promise had been made, it had actually provided them with four sites and a total of 40 acres.

In Oregon and Washington, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) issued new rules in 1969 regarding the in-lieu fishing sites along the Columbia River. Under the new rules, permanent dwellings were banned on the sites and only campers, trailers, tents, and tipis were allowed. Any structures left on the sites were to be demolished by the BIA. The Indians protested the new rules and reminded the BIA that they had lived permanently at the sites which had been flooded by Bonneville Dam. In response the BIA asked the solicitor for the Department of the Interior for an opinion on the ban and was informed that the ban was legal. According to the solicitor, the Indians’ off-reservation rights were limited to taking fish and erecting temporary buildings for curing them.

In 1970 the Corps of Engineers proposed raising the level of the Bonneville Dam pool by three feet to help meet the need for more electricity. The proposal would flood many of the Indian in-lieu fishing sites. Two years later, the Columbia River tribes learned about the proposal. The Indians responded with fear and anger. In one meeting, the attorney for the Native American Rights Fund stated:

“The Corps is becoming the cavalry of the twentieth century, driving the Indians literally into the river.”

The Umatilla tribes filed a suit asking that the Corps be barred from raising the pool. Judge Robert C. Belloni granted a temporary injunction and told the Corps and the tribes to negotiate. While the Corps of Engineers was planning a project to destroy the in-lieu fishing sites, the BIA was trying to improve them.

Congress finally stepped in again and in 1988 passed a bill which required the Army Corps of Engineers to provide in-lieu fishing sites on the Columbia River to total 360 acres (thus meeting the original promise made to the Indians.) Under the provisions of the bill, the Corps was to improve all in-lieu fishing sites, both new and old, to National Park Service standards for improved campgrounds. The Corps was to acquire at least six sites adjacent to the Bonneville pool.

The following year, the Columbia River tribes put together a task force composed of leading elders to deal with the Army Corps of Engineers in identifying and obtaining in-lieu fishing sites as mandated by Congress. The Corps, on the other hand, simply assigned a park ranger to the task force. The ranger admitted that he knew nothing about the issue and that he had no authority to speak for the Corps. The tribes asked for the Corps to assign someone with authority to the task force. The Corps then assigned a civilian planner to the force. One tribal attorney would later recall:

“We had to tell them the history of the legislation and the background over and over again.”

One of the concerns of the tribes was the sensitive handling of human remains, funerary objects, and other cultural artifacts. Many Indians were bitter about the way in which state and federal governments treated Indian graves. In 1991, the tribes initiated discussions with the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the management of cultural resources at the proposed in-lieu fishing sites. The following year, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a draft proposal on dealing with cultural resources on the in-lieu fishing sites. The tribes found the proposal unacceptable as it failed to comply with either federal historic preservation requirements or the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

By 1993, the Columbia River tribes were frustrated with the lack of action on the in-lieu fishing sites and so tribal leaders went to Washington, D.C.  Unannounced they arrived at the Army Corps of Engineers headquarters and told the receptionist that they were there to meet with high-ranking officials. They were ushered in to a meeting in progress about other issues. Assuming that they were part of the agenda, they were seated at the table. For an hour and a half the tribal leaders lectured startled Army brass on Indian treaties and the Corps’ responsibilities under those treaties and the law. While the Corps officers were impressed, they did not take any action.

Bonneville 2

Ancient America: Salado

( – promoted by navajo)

Two thousand years ago, the Indian people who were living in the Tonto Basin area of Arizona were sophisticated gathering and hunting people. In addition, they were also raising a few crops, primarily corn with some beans and cotton. Like other hunting and gathering people of this time period, they did not live in isolation, but had wide-spread interactions with the other Indian people of the Southwest.

Salado

Genetically, these early Tonto Basin residents were related to the Sinagua People and the Ancestral Puebloan People to the north.

About 1,300 years ago things began to change in the Tonto Basin. Hohokam colonists from central Arizona-from the area around present-day Phoenix-started to move in.  The indigenous settlement densities at this time are fairly low and so the new Hohokam colonists did not displace any of the indigenous groups nor did it appear to create any conflict with them.

The Hohokam colonists established their own communities with their distinctive architectural style. Unlike the Hohokam in central Arizona, however, they did not build ballcourts-the large sunken playing fields similar to those found farther south in Mexico which are so characteristic of the Hohokam.

The reason for the migration from the Phoenix area into the Tonto Basin can be summarized in a single crop: cotton. The indigenous people living in the Tonto Basin began raising cotton nearly 1,900 years ago. Cotton is strong, lightweight, and durable. It is relatively easy to grow, harvest, and process.

Archaeologists have noted that cotton was an ideal crop for the Tonto Basin farmers and for this reason farmers from other areas, such as the Phoenix Basin, came to the Tonto Basin for the express purpose of growing this crop. The newly arrived farmers focused on cotton even at the expense of growing food crops.

One of the reasons for cotton’s importance to these early farmers was cotton’s role in religious ceremonies. This is still seen today in modern Pueblo groups, such as the Hopi, where cotton is used in all articles of dress associated with ceremonies. This includes kilts, sashes, and belts. At death, unspun cotton is placed across the face of the deceased to represent clouds.

About 1,000 years ago Indian people in the Tonto Basin area had developed an intensive cultivation of cotton and corn. They were also raising a variety of squashes, jack beans, common beans, and possibly growing grain amaranth and little barley. They were also continuing to gather some wild plant foods, including prickly pear fruit and pads, cholla buds, saguaro fruit, cattail, grasses, and sunflowers. They were hunting both cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits as well as some deer.

Between 850 years ago and 650 years ago there was a second major influx of immigrants into the Tonto Basin. These new immigrants were Ancestral Puebloans from the Colorado Plateau to the north. These new immigrants did not establish new communities, but moved into existing communities. Unlike the Hohokam, who moved in community-sized groups, the Ancestral Puebloans appear to have moved in smaller groups such as households.

About 650 years ago there were a number of major changes in the Tonto Basin. This marks the beginning of what archaeologists call the Roosevelt Phase which is characterized by some new architectural forms and some new artifacts. This Phase is considered to be the classic development of what archaeologists call the Salado Culture. The Salado Culture combines many of the elements of other Southwestern Cultures: Ancestral Puebloan, Hohokam, Mogollon.

Using rocks cemented together with mud, the Salado people built apartment-type houses called pueblos. Many of these were two stories high and some were as high as four stories.

In the Southwest, a long period of drought began in the year 1275. As a result of this drought, many areas were abandoned except for spring oases. While some people may have left the area entirely, it seems that the majority gravitated toward the existing settlements along the rivers. It was in these settlements that they would have the strongest kinship ties and best hope for assistance.

Platform mound architecture and the appearance of a type of pottery known as Roosevelt Red Ware began in the Tonto Basin about 1280. The building of platform mounds appears to be related to the beginning of the long drought in the Southwest, a time when people were abandoning the upland areas for settlements along the more reliable river water sources. For people moving from the upland areas devastated by the drought, the availability of dependable water was undoubtedly one factor in choosing to move to the settlements in the Tonto Basin.  

The platform mounds were adapted from the Hohokam model. They are associated with a response to: (1) stress on access to arable land created by displaced uplanders moving into established riverine settlements, (2) production stress on the riverine arable land due to the loss of upland agricultural production, and (3) irrigation expansion, intensification, and management needs arising from the first two factors.

The mounds seemed to have served primarily to manage land tenure and access to water, with irrigation simply a means to that end. The mounds were constructed using the additional labor which was now in the region. The additional labor was also used to expand production to meet increased subsistence needs and to move into trade commodity production with crops such as cotton.

The Salado with their surplus crops and cotton became a part of a regional trading network. They traded with neighboring tribes who, in turn, traded with other tribes, and the resulting trade network extended from Colorado to the Valley of Mexico and to the Pacific Ocean.

The mounds integrated several villages. A multi-village community was created which focused on the ceremonial activities at the. The people who actually lived at the platform mounds scheduled the calendrical rites that were performed at these public architectural facilities. In this way, the people who lived at the mound sites maintained religious control over several villages.

Religious ideology was important in bringing the different villages together so that they could perform ceremonies which would help bring the rain and continue to keep the people in harmony with the world – both physical and spiritual – which was around them. The people who lived at the mound sites, however, were distant from other people both in a physical sense and a social sense. These people served as a kind of religious elite and could focus more of their attention on spiritual matters.

Two types of mounds were built in the Tonto Basin during this time. The Meddler-type mound is approximately 25 meters by 20 meters by about 2 meters high. It was made with a lower level of structural cells that were filled in to support two large rooms on top. It is generally believed that this type of mound functioned as the center of ceremonial activities.

Tower mounds, on the other hand, served important communication purposes. From the tower mound, people could signal using smoke, mirrors, and/or fire that it was time to begin a ceremony. At the Pyramid Point site the tower mound is 5.5 meters by 8 meters by 2 meters high. A single room was constructed on top. The mound was contained within a surrounding 15 room masonry compound. This compound served as a residential area as well as a ceremonial area. The small size suggests that the people who lived at this settlement were there primarily to maintain the mound and its facilities.

The mounds in the Tonto Basin, like the Hohokam mounds in Central Arizona, were associated with irrigation, and their inhabitants probably used irrigation management as part of their leadership mandate. However, they were probably built in response to many different governmental and ceremonial organizational needs as they were not required for the operation of the irrigation system per se.

Another distinctive aspect of Salado culture at this time is their pottery. Salado polychrome pottery was widely traded through the region. Rather than black and white paints applied to a red-slipped base, as in other Anasazi polychromes, Salado polychromes have black paint applied to a white-slipped zone (either the interior of a bowl or a portion of the exterior) with no painting in the red-slipped zones. The red clay is tempered with mica flakes giving the surface of the vessel a glittery aspect.

During this time period (1280-1350) the population of the Tonto Basin area doubled. This population growth was partially from natural internal population growth, but it was augmented by immigration from the highlands below the Mogollon Rim, the Colorado Plateau, and perhaps northern Mexico.

There were also important subsistence and settlement changes. Formerly dispersed populations now tended to cluster around platform mounds to form village-sized habitations.  

The people were making a greater commitment to agriculture and were expanding their irrigation systems. Their goal was the steady production of cotton fiber and various agave products.

Agave-also known as mescal, maguey, or century plant-is native to the area. Agave fiber can be twisted into strong twine and used for cordage, basketry, and woven textiles, agave sap can be made into fermented beverages like pulque and agave hearts can be roasted and preserved as a sweet and nutritious food, with a caloric content equal to corn.

One of the health problems facing the people at this time was tuberculosis. Archaeologists have found a child who was buried at the Schoolhouse Mound who appears to have had tuberculosis. The burial treatment suggests that this child belonged to a ceremonially important family, or one of the wealthier families that inhabited Schoolhouse Point Mound.

About the year 1325 many of the Roosevelt phase settlements were abandoned and the platform mound system fell into disuse. The period which archaeologists call the Gila Phase began about 1350.

During the Gila Phase, corn and cotton continued to be the major cultigens. There was also an increase in cholla, agave, and cheno-ams which suggests the deliberate cultivation and intensification of the use of these native plants.

Following the Gila Phase, the Indian people of the Tonto Basin began to be impacted by the European invasion of the continent: an invasion which brought with it new diseases-smallpox, measles-as well as many new trade goods, and ultimately new forms of government and religion. During the 20th century, the American government built a dam creating Roosevelt Lake which flooded many of the ancient Salado sites.  

American Indian Biography: Vice-President Charles Curtis

( – promoted by navajo)

Charles CurtisIndian citizenship and participation in American politics involves more than just voting: it also involves having Indians elected to public office. One of the first Indians to be elected to national office was Charles Curtis.

Curtis was born in 1860 near present-day North Topeka, Kansas. His mother was a descendent of Kansa (also called Kaw) chief White Plume. White Plume was the son of an Osage chief and had been adopted into the Kansa. Later, Curtis’s tribal affiliation would be listed as Kansa (or Kaw) or as Kansa-Osage.

He was raised in part by his maternal grandmother and attended an Indian mission school on the Kaw Reservation. After the Cheyenne attacked the Kaw at Council Grove in 1868, Curtis was moved to Topeka where he later attended Topeka High School.

In 1881, Curtis was admitted to the bar and soon entered politics as a Republican. In 1885 he was elected county attorney for Shawnee County and his political career began.

In 1892 was elected to Congress and began the first of eight terms in the House of Representatives. Like many others of this era, Curtis felt that Indians had to be assimilated into American culture. Assimilation meant that traditional cultures and languages had to be destroyed.

In 1898, Curtis wrote a bill to extend the provision of the Dawes Act over Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). The Act-known as the Curtis Act-stipulated that tribal governments would continue to exist only to issue allotment deeds to tribal members and to terminate any other tribal business.

One of the tribes for which the Curtis Act would have major impact was the Cherokee. The Cherokee objected to the bill and sent a delegation to Washington to testify but they were not allowed access to the rooms where committees were debating the bill. Corporate representatives, on the other hand, had free access to the committees.

While in the House, Curtis worked on a number of committees, including the Committee on Territories, the Committee on Way and Means, the Committee on Public Lands, and the Committee on Indian Affairs. His work for assimilation, allotment, and detribalization led to opposition by many of the tribal leaders in Indian Territory. Overall, his work set the stage for Oklahoma statehood in 1907.

With the 1902 Kaw Allotment Act, the Kaw Nation was officially dissolved. As enrolled members of the tribe, Curtis and his three children received a total of 1,625 acres in Oklahoma.  

In 1907, Curtis was elected to the United States Senate. He was defeated for re-election, but ran again in 1914 and served in the Senate until 1929.

While in the Senate, he attempted to prohibit the Indian use of peyote (a sacrament used by the Native American Church). His efforts on this matter, however, failed to pass.

In 1928 he made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination. However, he ran as Herbert Hoover’s vice-president and was elected. At the inauguration in 1929, he had an Indian jazz band perform.

When he retired from public elected life in 1934, having been defeated for re-election, he had served longer in Washington, D.C. than any active politician. He was the last vice-president to wear a beard or mustache while in office.

In addition to promotion Indian assimilation, Curtis was also a strong supporter of women’s suffrage and Prohibition. He died in 1936.  

Sac and Fox INDN Candidate Key to Democrats Retaining Chamber in Pennsylvania

( – promoted by navajo)

In 2006 Democrats retook the Pennsylvania State House for the first time since 1994 by one seat. The last and decisive race went to a recount and was won by only 28 votes.This seat was won by INDN’s List endorsed candidate Barbara McIlvaine Smith, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation. She was also the first Indian elected to the Pennsylvania legislature, making her victory vitally important for both the Democratic Party and Indian Country.

Now, Republicans are attempting to retake the House in Pennsylvania and they know they cannot flip the chamber unless they defeat Representative Barbara McIlvaine Smith. So, they’re committed to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars from their special interest friends to beat Barbara.

We need your immediate donation to help us fight back against this onslaught of Republican special interest money!

In the past four years in the legislature, Barbara has fought for a livable wage for all workers, affordable access to healthcare, quality education for all and a healthier, cleaner environment. Additionally, out of 201 legislators, she is one of two who post all legislative expenses online to ensure transparency.

INDN’s List is proud to stand with the first Indian elected to the Pennsylvania legislature and endorses Barbara McIlvaine Smith for reelection.

Barack Obama joins Crow Nation 2008

Does this not make the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne or Arapaho upset?  Now what makes this ironic (if you know the history of the Battle of Little Bighorn) is that the Crow nation served as scouts for General George Custer. And since our president appears to be backing all native Americans, he couldn’t have picked a worse enemy of so many Native American tribes (except for the Arikara who also served Custer as scouts). Barack Obama never ceases to amaze me as to how he is so historically ignorant. What really blows me away is how the Native Americans wouldn’t band together to defeat the “white man”.  If they had, history would have been a lot different.  That is what’s happening now.  Our president is so busy turning us against one another that he can’t possibly be bringing unity!!

Christianity Comes to the Flathead Indians

( – promoted by navajo)

During the 1830s, a major stir occurred among the missionary groups in North America when there reports of the “savage” tribes from the interior who had come to St. Louis seeking Christianity. One of these tribes was the Flathead or Bitterroot Salish, a Salish-speaking tribe whose traditional territory included much of Western Montana. After they acquired the horse during the early 1700s, they began going east of the Rocky Mountains to hunt buffalo.

During the 1800s, this buffalo hunting area east of the Rocky Mountains on the Great Plains was claimed by a number of different tribes and there were often battles between them. The animosity between the Flathead and the Blackfoot was particularly intense and Blackfoot warriors were often successful in their raids on Flathead hunting parties.  

In 1820, a group of about two dozen Christian Iroquois (Catholic Mohawk from Quebec) under the leadership of Old Ignace La Mousse came to live among the Flathead. The Iroquois worked for the Canadian fur traders and were to help establish fur trade and to show the Flathead how to trap.

The Iroquois preached their version of Christianity to the Flathead and taught them a number of Christian prayers and hymns. They told the Flathead about the great power of the Black Robes – the Jesuit Priests of the Catholic Church.

In 1831, some of the Flathead decided that the power of the Black Robes (Jesuits) could help them prevail over their enemies. The American Fur Company transported four Indians, including Silver Eagle and Running Bear, to St. Louis where they met with William Clark. Clark, of  Lewis and Clark fame, had first made contact with the tribe when the Corps of Discovery had passed through their territory. While Clark was sympathetic to their request for missionaries, he was unable to find any Black Robes who were free to go to western Montana. All four of the Flathead men died on their return trip.

In 1835, the Flathead still felt it would be good if they were to have a Black Robe live among them and share with them the great power of the Black Robes. Consequently, a second delegation of Flathead left Western Montana to travel to St. Louis, Missouri.  The journey from Western Montana to Missouri was not an easy one for it meant that they had to pass through territories claimed by other tribes, such as the Crow and Lakota. Even though they were on a peaceful mission, it was easy to be mistaken for a war party and to invite attack by other tribes.

In St. Louis they asked for a Black Robe to be assigned to them. The delegation included Old Ignace, the Iroquois who first introduced the Flatheads to Catholicism. In spite of the request, all available Jesuit manpower was committed to establishing a mission among the Kickapoos on the southern Plains and therefore there was no one available to be assigned to the Flathead.

In 1837, a third Flathead delegation led by the Iroquois Old Ignace began another perilous journey east to seek a Black Robe. However, the delegation was attacked by the Lakota and all were killed.

In 1839, a fourth delegation of Flathead, including Peter Gaucher and Young Ignace, left Western Montana to journey to St. Louis. Upon reaching St. Louis, they met with Bishop Rosati. In their meeting with Bishop Rosati they extracted the promise that a priest would be sent to live with them.  

In 1840 the Jesuits sent Father Pierre-Jean De Smet to live among the tribes of Western Montana. His first contact with them was at the Three Forks of the Missouri River where he was welcomed into a camp of Flathead and Pend d’Oreille.

Upon his arrival in Western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley in 1841, Father De Smet set about constructing St. Mary’s mission, baptizing children, and instructing the people in the ways of Catholic Christianity. He placed a large hand-hewn cross in the center of a circle. Then he gave a short service and all the Indians present, young and old, came forward and solemnly kissed the cross and declared an oath that they would never forsake the religion of the Black Robes. At least this was his interpretation of what happened. DeSmet soon baptized about one-third of the tribe.

The Flathead seemed eager to accept the new religion, but did not see it as a replacement for their old religion. Rather, they saw it as an additional power. Thus the people soon came into conflict with the priests. The people did not want to give up their way of life as the priests demanded.

Five years later, De Smet managed to anger the Flathead. Father De Smet had decided to Christianize the Blackfoot, the mortal enemies of the Flathead. In spite of having lived with the Flathead for five years, De Smet did not understand the fact that the Flathead were not particularly interested in the moral and non-material aspects of Christianity. Instead, they were primarily concerned with its protective powers and its ability to help them overcome their enemies.

When the Flathead had become Christian they had become successful in repelling Blackfoot attacks. This success, according to the Flathead, was due to the superior power of the Black Robes and if this power were to be given to their enemies, they reasoned, they might be exterminated. De Smet’s promiscuous proselytizing – giving the power to their enemies – caused Flathead resentment and hostility toward the priests and toward Christianity.

The Small Robes band of Blackfoot had witnessed a battle in which the Flathead had vanquished the Crow. The Blackfoot felt that the reason for the victory was the great War Medicine of the Black Robes. Consequently, they had their children baptized. Encouraged by this Father De Smet set out to find the main band of the Blackfoot so that he might: (1) establish peace between the Flathead and the Blackfoot, and (2) establish a permanent mission among the Blackfoot.

When DeSmet returned to the Flathead he found that their attitude toward the Black Robes had changed. Now they openly challenged the Black Robes by publically gambling, an activity which the priests discouraged. In some instances, they disrupted the church services and they openly practiced shamanism.

Today many, if not most, of the Flathead are Catholic and participate in Catholic ceremonies. At the same time, many also practice some of the “old ways” and see no conflict between the two. Christianity provides them with additional power.  

Ancient America: The Rise of the Aztec Empire

( – promoted by navajo)

The rise of the Aztec empire really began in 1150 with the fall of the Toltec empire. The Toltecs had established their state in Tula, which was to the north of what would become Tenochtitlan. Their empire spread through most of central Mexico. After a period of droughts and internal factional conflict, the city collapsed and was burned and looted, possibly by the Chichimeca (the “wild” tribes to the north).  

The fall of the Toltec empire was followed by a period in which rival states battled for power. These states included the Zapotecs, centered at Mitla, the Mixtecs, in the northern Oaxaca area, and the Tarascan kingdom, plus the Chichimeca.

By 1200, the Valley of Mexico contained a number of moderately sized city states. The Aztec, who arrived in the Valley about 1248, adopted some of the key organizational and ideological principles which they learned from the refugee Toltecs. These included the ruling elite or pipilitin and the requirement that only a descendant from a royal Toltec dynasty could become the emperor.

In 1300, the Aztec were still a small tribe. In addition to knowing how to cultivate the land, the Aztec were fierce warriors who were inspired by their war god Huitzilopochtli (which means “hummingbird on the left”). The Aztecs were vagrants continually trying to find a territory to occupy. All of the good land in the Valley of Mexico was already occupied by city-states. Thus the Aztec offered their services as mercenaries for these local rulers. They often offended these rulers with their barbarous behavior and their capture of local women for wives.

In 1323, they were working for the Coluacan (also spelled Culhuacan) people. Coluacan, located in the southern portion of the Valley of Mexico, was the city-state to which the Toltec nobility had fled following the collapse of their empire.

The Aztec obtained a princess from their employers by asking the Colhuacan for a noble bride, and the Colhuacan complied as they feared the fierce Aztec mercenaries. The Aztec then killed the princess and the priests donned her skin. When the Colhuacan saw the priest wearing her skin, they were so angered that they attacked the Aztec, killed many of them, and drove them out. From here, the Aztec retreated to a marshy unoccupied Island. It was here that they established Tenochtitlan.

In 1367, the Aztec used their military might to support the nearby kingdom of Tepanec that was expanding on the mainland, then ruled by Tezozomoc.  As the Tepanec expanded their rule over more and more city-states in the Valley of Mexico, the Aztec benefited from their alliance with the Tepanec.  From this alliance, the Aztec learned about the techniques which the Tepanec used to build and rule their empire.

In 1426, the old ruler Tezozomoc died and was replaced by his son Maxlatzin. He was concerned that the Aztecs had been growing too strong under the Tepanec’s protection.   He therefore sought to reduce the Aztec’s power in 1427. At this time, the Aztec’s third king died and was replaced by Itzcoatl, who chose Tlacaelel, a brilliant military strategist, as his chief adviser.  The two of them decided to resist and fight rather than submit to Maxlatzin’s threats and pressure.  Within a year, the Aztecs had crushed the Tepanec and destroyed their imperial city.   So now the Aztec had become the greatest state in Mexico.

With the help of Tlacaelel, Itzcoatl reduced the power of the other nobles, and turned himself into an absolute ruler. He developed a new vision of the Aztec as the “chosen people” who were the “true heirs” to the Toltec. The Aztec rewrote history to link the Aztec to the Toltec and to show that the Aztec were the heirs, the direct descendents, of the Toltec nobility.

The next Aztec emperor, Motechuhzoma Ilhuicamina ruled from 1440-1469. With Tlacaelel’s help, he set up a Triple Alliance between Tenochtitlan and two neighboring states – Texcoco and Tlacopan – to carry out the “Flowery War” – the continual fight against other states to capture victims to sacrifice to the sun god.  

In 1469, Axayacatl became emperor and ruled until 1481. Under his rule, the Aztec empire expanded even further and most of central Mexico came under Aztec domination. Ahuitzotl ruled the Aztec from 1486 until 1502. He was followed by Motecuhezoma Xocoyotzin who ruled until conquered by the Spanish. Under his rule, the Aztec empire faced increasing challenges due to internal resistance and rebellion.  

Christianity Comes to the Nez Perce

( – promoted by navajo)

Christianity came to the Indian nations of the United States in a variety of ways. Sometimes a single non-Indian missionary was the vehicle, and sometimes it came from a variety of sources including Indian missionaries. In 1825, Governor George Simpson of the Hudson’s Bay Company was besieged by Indians in present-day Washington state seeking Christianity. At Fort Okanagon he spoke with a Thompson chief who asked for a missionary. A few days later, a delegation of Flathead, Spokan, and Kootenai asked for a missionary. This delegation was followed by two Nez Perce chiefs who were asking about Christianity.

Inspired by what he saw as an interest in Christianity, Governor Simpson conceived the idea of selecting some Indian boys from the Columbia River tribes and sending them east to be educated. His idea was that these boys could help in “civilizing” the tribes upon their return. Two teenage Indian boys – one from the Spokan in Washington and the other from the Kootenai in Idaho – were sent to the Red River School in Canada. The boys were renamed Kootenai Pelly and Spokan Garry.

In 1829, Spokan Garry and Kootenai Pelly returned to the northwest from the Red River School in Canada. Garry’s father, Illim-Spokanee, died while the boy was at school and so the Spokan greeted him as a leader’s son who should be heard on matters affecting the welfare of this people. Spokan Garry brought with him the Christianity which he learned in school and preached it to the tribes in eastern Washington. Soon after his return, Spokan Garry built a tule mat church and school along the Spokane River. He taught brotherly love, peaceful behavior, and humility.

The Spokan made Spokan Garry a chief and gave him two wives-one a Umatilla and the other a San Poil.

In 1830, the Hudson’s Bay Company sends two Nez Perce boys to the Anglican mission school at Red River, Manitoba for schooling. One of the boys, the son of war chief Red Grizzly, was given the name Ellice (also spell Ellis).

The following year, a group of Nez Perce from Idaho journeyed with an American fur trading party to St. Louis to seek further information about Christianity. The Nez Perce had been inspired by Spokan Garry and wanted to have their own copy of the “book.”  The Nez Perce delegation included Tipyahlanah (Eagle), Kipkip Pahlekin (Man of the Morning), Hi-yuts-to-henim (Rabbit Skin Leggings), and Tawis Geejumnin (No Horns on His Head). The two older Indians – Tipyahlanah and Kipkip Pahlekin – become ill, were baptized, and then were buried in a Catholic cemetery when they died.

On the return trip Tawis Geejumnin became sick and died near the present-day Montana-North Dakota border. Hi-yuts-to-henim returned safely to the Nez Perce.

The Nez Perce oral tradition conflicts with the Christian version of this journey. According to some oral histories, the purpose of the delegation was to acquire American technology and this was misunderstood in St. Louis.

In 1833, two Nez Perce young men-Pitt and Ellice-returned home from the Red River school in Canada. Pitt was the only Indian student from the Columbia River area sent to Red River who was not the son of a powerful chief. He had little impact on the beliefs of his people. Ellice, on the other hand, taught the people a simple form of Anglican beliefs.

In 1836, Marcus Whitman established a Presbyterian mission among the Cayuse in Oregon. The Whitmans were intolerant of Indian culture and beliefs. Like many other missionaries they fanatically demanded total conversion to Presbyterian ways. They tended to divide Indians into only two categories: the devout (meaning Protestant Christian) and the heathen. Tribal affiliation meant little to them.

At the same time, a Presbyterian mission was also established by Henry Spalding among the Nez Perce in Idaho. Spalding believed himself to be the savior to people who had no religion. He saw the Nez Perce as being misled by their spiritual leaders, whom he viewed as sorcerers.  He had little tolerance for the Nez Perce cultural beliefs and habits and often erupted into bursts of anger at them. Nez Perce elder Allen Slickpoo writes:

“Many of our elderly people have related stories about Spalding using Nez Perce labor without any compensation to perform hard chores except being told that they were ‘doing it for the Lord.’ Related stories were also told of Spalding tying a person to a flogging tree and giving him twenty lashes for being disobedient. To many of us this is an act of slavery, whether it was for ‘the Lord’ or not.”

The Presbyterian missionaries violently opposed and condemned the Catholics and most of the non-missionary trappers and traders in the area.

The Presbyterians introduced European medical practices, partially to discredit the Nez Perce medicine people and partially to ingratiate themselves with the people. With regard to religious practices, the missionaries included prayers, hymns, and instructional materials in the Nez Perce language.

There were often conflicts between the Nez Perce and the missionaries. In 1837, one of the missionaries ordered two Nez Perce leaders whipped. One of the leaders, Ellice, simply rode away with his people. The other leader, Blue Cloak, was seized and tied by a young Nez Perce. The missionary then ordered the Nez Perce to whip Blue Cloak saying:

“I stand in the place of God. I command. God does not whip. He commands.”

Two years later, a Nez Perce woman ran away from her American husband. The Protestant missionary ordered the woman to receive 70 lashes. This action upset the Nez Perce as they felt that the woman had the right to divorce her husband if she wanted. From the Nez Perce perspective, it was the husband who should have been whipped since he had abused his wife.