Indian Nations of the Southern Plains

( – promoted by navajo)


photo credit: Aaron Huey

The Southern Plains is the area of the Great Plains that lies south of the Arkansas River valley. It is an area of rolling prairie grasslands with some timbered areas in the stream valley. It includes Oklahoma, Arkansas, portions of Texas, the eastern foothills of New Mexico, and portions of Louisiana. By the time the European, and later American, explorers and settlers began moving into the area, it had a long history of occupation by Indian nations such as the Caddo, Comanche, Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache and Lipan Apache.  


The term “Caddo” originates from one particular tribe, the Kadohadacho who occupied the area around the Great Bend of the Red River in Texas. The term is also applied to a number of other tribes in the region who have a similar language and culture. Today, the Caddo Nation consists of the descendants of approximately 25 once-independent tribes that inhabited the area.

At the time of the first contact with the French and Spanish explorers, the Caddo were associated in three or four loose confederations. The largest of these was the Hasinai, which the Spanish called Texas, who occupied a territory which includes the present-day Texas counties of Nacogdoches, Rusk, Cherokee, and Houston. The Kadohadacho, also called the Caddo proper, were located at the bend of the Red River in southwestern Arkansas and northeastern Texas. The Natchitoches occupied an area near the present-day Louisiana city which bears their name. The least known of these early confederacies is the Yatasi which soon after initial European contact divided into two groups which affiliated with other Caddoan confederacies.

The Caddo were farmers who raised corn, about six kinds of beans, pumpkins, sunflowers, gourds, and melons (including watermelons). Their fields were tilled with wooden or bone-tipped hoes. The Caddo planted two kinds of corn. One would mature in about six weeks and the other in about three months. The fast maturing corn would be planted at the end of April, about the time when the rains cease. This corn would grow to less than 3 feet in height, but would be covered with many small ears. Following the harvest of this corn, they would clear the fields and plant what they called the “big seed” (the longer-maturing corn).

After the Caddo acquired the horse in the seventeenth century, buffalo hunting increased in its importance.


Linguistically, the Comanche are closely related to the Shoshone who are from the Great Basin culture area. According to Crow oral tradition, the Comanche once lived in the Snake River area of Idaho. Comanche oral tradition says that they once lived in the Rocky Mountain area north of the headwaters of the Arkansas River. The Comanche split off from the Shoshone because of a dispute over the distribution of a bear killed by a Comanche hunter. At the time, the two groups were in the Fountain Creek area north of the present-day city of Pueblo, Colorado. As a result of this split, the Comanche migrated south while the Shoshone gradually migrated to the north and west. By 1700 the Comanche had moved into the Southern Plains.

Linguistic data suggests that the Comanche began to move onto the plains about 1500 AD. At this time, there was a period of increased precipitation, which led to a parallel increase in the buffalo population. Consequently, there was also an increase in the size, number, and duration of the Indian nations who could exploit the herds.

The Comanche had a form of pictorial writing. Using a thin piece of birch bark which can be folded, the Comanche would write notes to tell others where they were going and what they were doing.


The Kiowa speak a language which linguists classify as a part of the Tanoan language family and is thus related to the Pueblos of Taos, Jemez, Isleta, and San Ildefonso in New Mexico. Yet the oral traditions of several tribes place the homeland of the Kiowa not in New Mexico, but much farther north in what is now Montana. It was here that they made the transition from elk and deer hunting to buffalo hunting. It was on the plains of Montana that they acquired the horse and many elements of Northern Plains culture, including the Sun Dance. It was in the north that the Kiowa made close and lasting friendships with the Sarsi, the Crow, and the Arikara. It was here that they first encountered the Plains Apache (also known as the Kiowa-Apache).

Kiowa oral tradition tells of a time when they lived far to the north, beyond the territory of the Crow and the Lakota in the Northern Plains. It was a country that was very cold most of the year. This was a time when they used dogs to carry their burdens as they did not know of the horse. One of their warriors went far to the south where he was captured by the Comanche. The Comanche treated him well and gave him a horse so that he might return home with honor. Upon returning home, he told of the tribe of a land stocked with game where the summer lasted nearly all of the year. The council decided to follow the man back to the country he had seen and the following spring they began their migration south. They traveled south until they were attacked by the Comanche.

The Kiowa maintained a tribal history or chronology which was painted on hides and later on paper. The chronology was arranged in a continuous spiral starting in the lower right and ending near the center. Winter was symbolized by a black bar and summer by a drawing of the Sun Dance lodge.


The homeland for the Kiowa-Apache and the Plains Apache was on the Northern Plains of Alberta, Canada, where they were most likely associated with the Sarsi on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. On the Northern Plains, probably in the Yellowstone River area of Montana, they became associated with the Kiowa and became culturally similar to the Kiowa except for language.  The Kiowa-Apache then accompanied the Kiowa on their migration to the Black Hills and then south on the Southern Plains.

Lipan Apache:

The Apache are an Athapaskan-speaking group who once lived on the Northern Plains in Alberta and migrated into the Southern Plains of Texas. Linguistically, the Lipan Apache separated from the Kiowa-Apache more than 400 years ago, and they separated from the Jicarilla Apache about 227 years ago. The Lipan Apache were firmly entrenched in South Texas by the second half of the seventeenth century.


While the Tonkawa are often considered to be a Texas group, in the early 1600s they were actually living in northern Oklahoma near the confluence of the Medicine Lodge and Salt Fork Rivers. They then migrated south to the area around Dallas and Texas, then farther south to the Austin and San Antonio areas. Finally, in the reservation era, they accepted a reservation in northern Oklahoma near their 1600s homeland.  

146th Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre of Nov. 29th, 1864

( – promoted by navajo)

Chief Black Kettle:

I want you to give all these chiefs of the soldiers here to understand that we are for peace, and that we have made peace, that we may not be mistaken by them for enemies.

A Cheyenne cemetery is in the same direction as where my mother told me she watched gypsies camp through her west window as a girl, about ½ mile from that house. I have reverently walked though that Cheyenne cemetery as early as ten, looking at the headstones and wondering who they were and where they came from. I did not know then, that in that cemetery were descendants from the Sand Creek Massacre.

The Approaching Genocide Towards Sand Creek

Simultaneously, Roman Nose led the Dog Soldiers in battle while Black Kettle strove for peace.


“…Roman Nose made his record against the whites, in defense of territory embracing the Republican and Arickaree rivers. He was killed on the latter river in 1868, in the celebrated battle with General Forsythe.

Roman Nose always rode an uncommonly fine, spirited horse, and with his war bonnet and other paraphernalia gave a wonderful exhibition. The Indians used to say that the soldiers must gaze at him rather than aim at him, as they so seldom hit him even when running the gantlet before a firing line…”

Why did Roman Nose and the Hotamitanio (Dog Soldier Society) feel the need to defend their sovereignty and way of life? The answers to that one question rest in at least the following: the Great Horse Creek Treaty (1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie), volunteer soldiers, John Chivington, white encroachment with the Pike’s Peak gold rush of 1858, the “renegotiation” of the “Great Horse Creek Treaty” at Fort Wise, the Civil War soldiers who encroached on promised land, and the murder of Lean Bear.

The first core point is that hunting rights and land claims were not surrendered in the Great Horse Creek Treaty (1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie).


The following are facts with regard to the 1851 TREATY OF FORT LARAMIE, known as the “Treaty of Long Meadows” to the N/DN/D/Lakota and the “Great Horse Creek Treaty” to the Cheyenne;

1. It is a sacred document, unanimously agreed upon by each camp of each band, of each of the seven signatory nations. During the three week long 1851 Treaty gathering, the sacred White Buffalo Calf Canunpa (misnomer “Peace pipe”) of the N/DN/D/Lakota, the Four Sacred Arrows of the Cheyenne, as well as the most sacred items of each of the other nations were present during the historic signing.

2. It is a unifying document among the seven allied nations to forever protect their sacred homelands.

Second of all, the Pike’s Peak gold rush of 1858 brought white encroachment by ways of pony express riders, telegraph wires, stagecoaches, and more and more military forts whose soldiers (at least in the Sand Creek Massacre) included volunteer soldiers under the command of Col. John Chivington.(1)

To illustrate, here is a poster from 1864 that portrays the recruitment of volunteer soldiers, which helped to result in the California terrorist attacks. That was the same year as the Sand Creek Massacre.





The 1849 agreement between California territorial and federal governments provided $1,000,000 for the arming and supply of persons who would seek out and destroy Native American families.

I don’t know if such posters were in or near Colorado, but John Chivington who led the “Bloody Third” scorned Indian children.


COL. JOHN CHIVINGTON: Ex-Methodist Minister, Heroic Indian Fighter, 1864

“Nits make lice,”
he was fond of saying, and of course, since Indians were lice, their children were nits. Clearly, Chivington was a man ahead of his time: it would be almost a century later before another man would think of describing the extermination of a people “the same thing as delousing”: Heinrich Himmler. [LN477]

Clearly, Roman Nose had a more than sufficient reason to defend his people.

Matters continued becoming worse for the Cheyenne and Arapaho as the white encroachment increased dramatically with the Pike’s Peak gold rush of 1858, despite the land being promised them in the Great Horse Creek Treaty (1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie). The Territory of Colorado was then “declared” a decade after that treaty, and politicians wanted to “renegotiate” the Great Horse Creek Treaty at Fort Wise. It was far from a compromise, it was theft.



The said chiefs and delegates
of said Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes of Indians do hereby cede and relinquish to the United States all lands now owned, possessed, or claimed by them, wherever situated, except a tract to be reserved for the use of said tribes located within the following described boundaries, to wit:…”

Some “negotiation…” 38 of the 44 Cheyenne chiefs did not sign it.

Dee Brown. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.” p. 69:

“…When the Cheyennes pointed out that only six of their forty-four chiefs were present, the United States officials replied that the others could sign it later…”(1)

Adding still more misery, were facts that hunting was scarce on this land tract, nor was it suited well to farming. Also, the white encroachment from the Pike’s Peak gold rush escalated, while Civil War soldiers roamed onto their grounds. Then, Chivington, the butcher of Sand Creek, began his campaign of extermination and genocide.


In the spring of 1864, while the Civil War raged in the east, Chivington launched a campaign of violence against the Cheyenne and their allies, his troops attacking any and all Indians and razing their villages. The Cheyennes, joined by neighboring Arapahos, Sioux, Comanches, and Kiowas in both Colorado and Kansas, went on the defensive warpath.

Chief Black Kettle was promised complete safety by Colonel Greenwood as long as he rose the U.S flag above him.(1) Black Kettle persisted in his calls for peace in spite of the continuing exterminations and the shooting of Lean Bear.

(All bold mine)


Lean Bear, a leading peacemaker who had previously met with President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., was shot from his horse without warning by U.S. troops during a Kansas buffalo hunt.
The troops were acting under orders from Colonel John M. Chivington who commanded the military district of Colorado: “Find Indians wherever you can and kill them” (The War of the Rebellion, 1880-1881, pp. 403-404).

Perplexed by the continuing genocide, Black Kettle sent for Little White Man, known as William Bent.Almost prophetic, both agreed in their meeting that a war was about to be born if nothing changed. Black Kettle’s peaceful attempts tragically failed, even though he took his people to Sand Creek, fully expecting peace.His last effort for peace was raising the U.S. flag just prior to the massacre.


“…Though no treaties were signed, the Indians believed that by reporting and camping near army posts, they would be declaring peace and accepting sanctuary.

However on the day of the “peace talks” Chivington received a telegram from General Samuel Curtis (his superior officer) informing him that “I want no peace till the Indians suffer more…No peace must be made without my directions.”

Chivington, the Butcher of the Sand Creek Massacre:

COL. JOHN CHIVINGTON: Ex-Methodist Minister

“Nits make lice,”

he was fond of saying, and of course, since Indians were lice, their children were nits. Clearly, Chivington was a man ahead of his time: it would be almost a century later before another man would think of describing the extermination of a people “the same thing as delousing”: Heinrich Himmler. [LN477]



“the Cheyennes will have to be roundly whipped — or completely wiped out — before they will be quiet. I say that if any of them are caught in your vicinity, the only thing to do is kill them.” A month later, while addressing a gathering of church deacons, he dismissed the possibility of making a treaty with the Cheyenne: “It simply is not possible for Indians to obey or even understand any treaty. I am fully satisfied, gentlemen, that to kill them is the only way we will ever have peace and quiet in Colorado.”

(It is worth noting also that the Fuhrer from time to time expressed admiration for the “efficiency” of the American genocide campaign against the Indians, viewing it as a forerunner for his own plans and programs.)

Unaware of Curtis’s telegram, Black Kettle and some 550 Cheyennes and Arapahos, having made their peace, traveled south to set up camp on Sand Creek under the promised protection of Fort Lyon. Those who remained opposed to the agreement headed North to join the Sioux.

The Sand Creek Massacre of November 29, 1864

Black Kettle and his people had every reason to expect complete safety from their bloodshed after agreements for peace were made and the Dog Soldiers left to join the Sioux. Nonetheless, Chivington’s troops advanced on the Cheyenne and Arapaho near dawn. The sound of those approaching hooves must have sounded ominous.

U.S. soldiers inevitably chased the defenseless Cheyenne and Arapaho by horse and foot with knives and guns in hand. Their victims had to be positioned before ripping off their scalps, cutting off their ears, smashing out their brains, butchering their children, tearing their breastfeeding infants away from their mother’s breasts, and then murdering those infants. The “Bloody Third” soldiers necessarily had to kill the infants before cutting out their mother’s genitals.

The one question I never saw asked in the congressional hearings was, “Didn’t you disgraceful soldiers realize they were family?”

Kurt Kaltreider, PH.D. “American Indian Prophecies.” pp. 58-59:

-The report of witnesses at Sand Creek:

“I saw some Indians that had been scalped, and the ears cut off the body of White Antelope,” said Captain L. Wilson of the first Colorado Cavalry. “One Indian who had been scalped had also his skull smashed in, and I heard that the privates of White Antelope had been cut off to make a tobacco bag of. I heard some of the men say that the privates of one of the squaws had been cut out and put on a stick…”

John S. Smith…

All manner of depredations were inflicted on their persons; they were scalped, their brains knocked out; the men used their knives, ripped open women, clubbed little children, knocked them in the heads with their guns, beat their brains out, mutilated their bodies in every sense of the word…worse mutilation that I ever saw before, the women all cut to pieces…children two or three months old; all ages lying there.

From sucking infants up to warriors.

Sand Creek being a deliberate massacre is not contested, especially since the “Bloody Third” set the village in flames and took all the evidence back to Washington to hide it.


Letters written by those at Sand Creek From Lt. Silas Soule to Maj. Edward Wynkoop, Dec. 14, 1864:

“The massacre lasted six or eight hours…I tell you Ned it was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized….They were all scalped, and as high as a half a dozen [scalps] taken from one head. They were all horribly mutilated…You could think it impossible for white men to butcher and mutilate human beings as they did there, but every word I have told you is the truth, which they do not deny…I expect we will have a hell of a time with Indians this winter.”


Before departing, the command, now the “Bloody Third”, ransacked and burned the village.
The surviving Indians, some 300 people, fled north towards other Cheyenne camps.

Medicine Calf Beckwourth sought Black Kettle to ask him if peace was yet possible, but Black Kettle had moved out to be with relatives. Leg-in-the-Water replaced him as the primary chief; so, Beckwourth asked Leg-in-the-Water if there could be peace. Principle chief Leg-in-the-Water responded with these powerful words.

Dee Brown. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.” p. 94:

“The white man has taken our country, killed all of our children. Now no peace. We want to go meet our families in the spirit land. We loved the whites until we found out they lied to us, and robbed us of what we had. We have raised the battle ax until death.”(1)


…despite broken promises and attacks on his own life, speak of him as a great leader with an almost unique vision of the possibility for coexistence between white society and the culture of the plains…

“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown. p. 92.

Chivington and his soldiers destroyed the lives or the power of every Cheyenne and Arapaho chief who had held out for peace with the white men.

Thanks to Meteor Blades from a previous post of this diary

Here are some of the names of those reputed to have been killed at Sand Creek, according to various sources:

Vo-ke-cha/White Hat

Na-ko-ne-tum/Bear Skin or Robe

Na-ko-yu-sus/Wounded Bear

O-ko-che-voh-i-tan/Crow Necklace

No-ko-a-mine/Bear Feathers

Ne-sko-mo-ne/Two Lances

O-ne-mok-tan/Black Wolf

Vo-ki-ve-cum-se-mos-ta/White Antelope

E-se-ma-ki/One Eye

Ne-so-min-ni/Tall Bear

Co-kah-you-son-ne/Feather Head

On-ne-ma(hito)/Tall or Big Wolf

O-ka-cha-his-ta/Heap of Crows –

killed were both a father and son

of the same name,

and the sons wife and children.

O-ko-che-vo-voi-se/Spotted Crow

Ma-pa-vin-iste/Standing Water

Make-ti-he/Big Head

Mah-she-ne-(ve)/Red Arm

No-ko-ist/Sitting Bear


Mak-o-wah/Big Shell

O-ne-ah-tah/Wolf Mule

Ve-hoe/White Man

Oh-to-mai-ha/Tall Bull

Mok-tow/Black Horse

Oh-co-mo-on-est/Yellow Wolf

No-veh-yah/Loser in the Race


Ta-ik-ha-seh/Cut Nose


No-ko-nis-seh/Lame Bear

Oh-tam-i-mi-neh/Dog Coming Up

Why-mih-est/Foot Tracks

One-vah-kies/Bob-Tail Wolf

Mo-ke-kah/Blue Crane


Ni-het/Mound Of Rocks

Vos-ti-o-kist/White Calf

Oh-e-vil/(Morning Star or Dull Knife,

   listed as Black Kettles brother)

Min-ne-no-ah/Whirlwind or Standing Bear

   Mi-hah-min-est/Spirit Walking

Wost-sa-sa-mi/White Crane

Wi-can-noh/Forked Stick


Mah-hite/(Iron ?)

Mah-ki-mish-yov/Big Child

Man-i-tan/Red Paint

To-ha-voh-yest/White Faced Bull

No-ko-ny-u-/Kills Bear

No-ko-nih-tyes/Big Louse

O-ha-ni-no/Man On Hill

Mah-voh-ca-mist/White Beaver

Mah-in-ne-est/Turtle Following His Wife

Mak-iv-veya-tah/Wooden Leg

O-ma-ish-po/Big Smoke

Ne-o-mi-ve-yuh/Sand Hill

Mo-ha-yah/Elk AKA Cohoe

Van-nit-tah/Spanish Woman

O-tat-ta-wah/Blue Horse


Cut Lip Bear

Smoke or Big Smoke

One Eye

Big Man

Cheyenne Chief Left Hand.

Kah-makt/ Stick or Wood;

Oh-no-mis-ta/Wolf That Hears;

Co-se-to/Painted or Pointed Tomahawk;

Ta-na-ha-ta/One Leg;

O-tah-nis-to(te)/Bull That Hears;

O-tah-nis-ta-to-ve/Seven Bulls

Mis-ti-mah/Big Owl

No-ko-i-yan/Bear Shield

Vo-ki-mok-tan/Black Antelope

O-to-a-yest-yet/Bull Neck


Non-ne/Lame Man, White Bear or Curious Horn

O-ne-na-vist/Wolf Horn

Com-sev-vah/Shriveled Leg

O-ne-i-nis-to/Wolf That Speaks or

   Howling Wolf

No-ko-i-kat/Little Bear

O-ne-mi-yesp/Flying Bird

Moh-sehna-vo-voit/Spotted Horse

Ish-ho-me-ne/Rising Sun

Wip-puh-tah/Empty Belly

Mah-oist/Red Sheath


Meh-on-ne/Making Road

O-ko-oh-tu-eh/Bull Pup,

Male Crow O-ye-kis/Man Who Peeps Over The Hill

O-ne-i-kit/Little wolf


Mok-tok-kah/Wolf Road

O-ha-va-man/Scabby Man


A-st-yet/Bushy Head

Ca-sum-mi/Wolf Grey

Kah-i-nist-teh/Standing Skunk

Kast-yah/Lean Belly

No-ko-mi-kis/Old bear

Tah-vo-tuveh/Mad Bull

Vo-tou-yah/Tall Bird

No-ko-se-vist/? Bear

Es-toh/Stuffed Gut

Oh-mah/Little Beaver

Mah-hi-vist/Red Bird

Ve-hoe/White Man

O-ko-che-ut-tan-yuh/Male Crow

E-yo-vah-hi-heh/Yellow Woman

Min-hit-it-tan-yeh/Male Cherry

A-ya-ma-na-kuh/Bear Above

O-kin-neh/Smooth Face

No-ku-hist/(Possibly White Bear)

A Massachusetts Christian Indian Community

( – promoted by navajo)


photo credit: Aaron Huey

In Massachusetts, the Puritan approach to bringing Christianity to the Indians focused on segregation. Indians would be segregated into their own Christian villages, known as praying towns, where they would acquire both Christian faith and English culture. One of the first praying towns was Natick.  

In 1651, Puritan missionary John Eliot received 2,000 acres of land so that Christian Indians could build an English-style town. The site straddled the Charles River 18 miles upriver from Boston. Waban, the leader of the Massachusett village of Nonantum, made the request for the creation of the Christian village.  

The new town was to replicate an English cultural landscape and included an English-style meetinghouse, fort, and arched footbridge across the river. While the Indians had traditionally lived in extended family units, the lots for houses were laid out for nuclear families. In spite of the design, most of the Indians erected traditional wigwams rather than English clapboard.

The Christian Indian converts in Natick had to wear their hair in the English style which meant that the men had to have their traditional braids shorn. In order to demonstrate their ability to walk the Christian path, the Indian converts had to give up such things as body greasing and participation in traditional community ceremonies. The Natick Indians adopted a legal code based on a biblical prototype which outlawed many traditional practices, including premarital sex, long hair, and cracking lice between the teeth. In general the great personal freedom which had been enjoyed by the Indians had to be surrendered for new standards of piety that stipulated fines and flogging if they broke the rules.  

Natick, whose name means “the place of seeking,” was a sacred place and had been used for vision quests and dances. The location for this praying town was probably not chosen by the Puritans who were most likely unaware of its traditional sacredness, but rather it was chosen by the pauwaus (traditional spiritual leaders) who wanted to incorporate some of the Christian power into the Indian ways.

Waban, the Massachusetts leader who had requested the foundation of Natick, was less than enthusiastic about Christianity. However, he was afraid that the English would kill him if he didn’t pretend to embrace their religion. In addition, the English provided him with good food.

The Puritan approach to converting the Indians focused on their learning the Gospel. Thus, the missionary John Elliot translated the Bible and other religious works into the Massachusett language. He then distributed these to his converts. By 1660, Elliot claimed that 100 of his converts in Natick were literate.  

While the Indians in the praying towns were doing their best to shed their Indian-ness and to become English, the English colonists did not trust them. When King Philip’s War broke out in 1675, the praying villages declared their neutrality. The English colonists confined all of the “friendly” Indians to a few of the eastern praying towns, The colonists then confiscated the crops and tools in the praying towns of Wamesit, Hassanamisset, Magunkaquag, and Chabanakongkomun. The Indians were confined to the village limits on penalty of death.  

In spite of the pledges of neutrality and declarations of their friendly feelings toward the English, the colonists continued to accuse the Christian Indians of supporting King Philip. The residents of Okommakamesit were arrested and marched to jail in Boston. The Natick were forced from their homes and interred on Deer Island in Boston Harbor. Deer Island was a windswept rock with little fuel and little shelter from the cold sea wind. In spite of the English hostility, the Christian Indians continued to declare their loyalty to the English and about 100 Indian men enlisted in the colonial army as scouts.

In 1677, the General Court ordered that all Indians be settled in four praying towns: Natick, Punkapoag, Hassanamesit, and Wamesit. The Indians in these towns were prohibited from entertaining “stranger” Indians and the Court ordered that a list of all inhabitants of the praying towns be made annually. When leaving the towns, the Indians were required to have a magistrate’s certificate proving their loyalty. When approached by an English person, the Indians were to lay their guns on the ground until the English had examined their papers.

The English obsession with private land ownership created a number of conflicts with the Indians in the praying towns. In 1680, for example, an English farmer bought 50 acres from two Indians in the Christian Indian village of Natick. The sale was without the consent of the town council and in violation of colonial law. The Englishman then altered the deed to 500 acres. The village then sued, won, and recovered 400 acres. Keep in mind, however, that the farmer only bought 50 acres originally and therefore managed to cheat the Indians out of an additional 50 acres.

In 1698, the English town of Dedham stole 1,400 acres from the bordering Christian Indian town of Natick. The stolen land included orchards and corn fields.

In 1715, the New England Company asked the Natick to sell them the apparently abandoned praying town of Magunkaquog. The Company proposed to rent out the land to English settlers and share the rent money with the Natick families. The Natick, however, were still growing crops in the area and have deep emotional feelings about the area. Magunkaquog means the “place of the giant trees” in reference to the great trees – oak and chestnut – which were found in abundance in the area.

After initially rejecting the offer, the Natick agreed to the deal. After signing the deed, one of the signatories, Isaac Nehemiah, committed suicide by hanging himself with his belt. This suicide highlighted how some Indians ‘passively’ resisted the sale of their lands to colonists. It also showed the emotional attachment that many Natick Indians still held to Magunkaquog.

In 1719, the Natick created a proprietorship – a corporate entity to govern land allotments. The 20 proprietors – 19 men and one woman – were the heads of long established families. The proprietorship provided secure land titles and boundaries under colonial law which were seen as useful in meeting outside pressures. This change in administration, however, severed landholding from the town political system. It brought the Native community closer to the form of the English legal and economic systems.

During the Revolutionary War, Christian Indian soldiers served in the Continental Army and saw service in the Battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. Following the Revolutionary War and the creation of the United States, the covenants between the Indians in the praying towns, such as Natick, and the colonists was dissolved. Natick was incorporated in 1781, thus losing its special status as an Indian town. By 1785 most of the Indians had left Natick. Many of the praying Indians in New England migrated west, hoping to find a place where they could be both Christian and Indian.  

The Iroquois False Face Society

( – promoted by navajo)


photo credit: Aaron Huey

Among many cultures around the world there are two kinds of illness. First are those which have a clear physical cause, such as a broken arm. Then there are those for which the cause is less readily apparent. Curing these illnesses often involves ceremonies and spirituality.  

The Iroquois tribes have a number of different medicine societies which can perform different curing rites. The Little Water Society, for example, dealt with general illness and was usually called in when the patient had had a vision of the dwarf spirits (that is, the Little People). The healing rite would begin by placing tobacco on the fire and calling for the spirits of the dwarfs.

In cases of an illness which modern physicians call dementia, the Bear Society would be called in. In their healing rites, the members would dance counter clockwise around the patient.

There were times when the patient would not improve after the ceremony from the healing society. In cases of serious illness when other medicine societies have failed to bring about a cure the Wooden False Face Society would be called in. This society dates back to a time during creation when the world was ruled by mythical beings.

The wooden False Face masks are made from white pine, maple, basswood, and poplar. To make a mask, the features are first carved in a living tree. During the process of carving the mask and cutting it free, a prayer is addressed to the evolving mask and to the spirit forces which it represents. The mask is then painted and adorned with horse hair. The new mask is consecrated to human service by placing it in the hot coals and ashes of the longhouse fire.

All of the masks are characterized with distorted features and deep-set eyes. The noses are bent and crooked. The masks are generally painted red and black and have pouches of tobacco tied onto the hair above their foreheads. With regard to the symbolism of the masks, they portray the Great Doctor, dwelling at the world’s rim, whose broken nose and twisted mouth derive from a mythical struggle with the Creator for control of the world. The masks also symbolize the forest-dwelling ‘Common-faces’ seen in dreams. In addition, some of the masks are beggar masks which caricature neighbors and strangers alike.

The masks are not artifacts, but living representations of a spirit. One of the rules governing the care of the masks is the need to periodically anoint them with a mixture of sunflower seed oil and animal grease. At the same time the masks are fed white corn mush. In payment for their services tobacco is burned for them and small bags of tobacco are tied to them.

Members of the Wooden False Face Society might be called at any time of day or night to perform ceremonies for those who are ill. Upon recovery, the patient is expected to join the False Face Society. The actual curing ceremony is sacred and is not to be shared with those outside of the society.

Traditionally, the Wooden False Face Society would perform two community rituals each year. During this ceremony, the story of the False Faces is told. The members of the society, wearing their masks, then go through the community, entering the houses and driving out all sickness, disease, and evil.

At the present time, there are several concerns about the False Face masks. First, there are a number of non-Iroquois artists who are making what they call False Face masks and selling them to the general public. Second, a number of False Face masks are in the hands of private collectors who do not care for them in the traditional manner. The Iroquois have called for collectors and museums to return the masks to the tribes so that they can be cared for in a respectful manner. The National Museum of the American Indian has returned a number of these items. The Iroquois Traditionalists Society opposes the sale of False Face masks to private collectors and museums.

No photos of the False Face masks are shown in this diary as public display of the masks and photographs of them is considered improper by the Iroquois people.  

Help buy propane for Lakota families in South Dakota:


Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2

11 AM – 6 PM MST

Ask for Sherry or her mom Patsy. Normally a minimum order is $150, but they have an account to accumulate small donations to a minimum order. Credit Cards welcome and they are the only Native owned fuel company on Rosebud.  Rosebud is next to Pine Ridge Reservation and in the same economically depressed condition.

If you’d like to mail a check:

Attn: Sherry Cornelius

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

[make check payable to: St. Francis Energy Co.]

NOT tax deductible

You can also call Sherry’s cell phone: 605.208.8888


More donation links below:


The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday 8-4:30pm MST

Ask for Crystal to contribute to someone from Autumn’s list. $120 minimum delivery. This company serves Pine Ridge Reservation.

NOT tax deductible

Another way you can help:  The LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Home Assistance) Tribal programs ran out of winter funding in early December last year. You will need to write a check because of no online presence for any tribe.

There is a very long national list of LIHEAP Tribal Grantees here.  You might consider a tribe in your own state. Here is South Dakota and North Dakota.

I’m focusing on the three below because we have Kossacks and their relatives there.

Ms. Eileen Shot

LIHEAP Coordinator

Rosebud Sioux Tribe

P.O. Box 430

Rosebud, South Dakota  57570

Ms. Denise Red Owl


Oglala Sioux Tribe (Pine Ridge)

P.O. Box 1051

Pine Ridge, South Dakota  57770

Ms. Irma Walking Elk

LIHEAP Coordinator

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

P.O. Box D

Fort Yates, North Dakota  58538

Clothing Donation:  (Must be clean and gently worn or it will be thrown away )

Pretty Bird Woman House

211 N. First St

McLaughlin, SD 57642

See website for specific material needs.

White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Inc

291 N. Main

P.O. Box 227

Mission, SD 57555


Paypal link at

Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyape

East Highway 18

IHS Compound, Box 604

Pine Ridge, SD 57770.

See for addresses of other agencies participating in the Winter Warmth Drive for the people of Pine Ridge.

Pass H.R.1385 To Recognize 6 Virginia Tribes

( – promoted by navajo)

Please sign the petition to help 6 Virginia Tribes…

This bill has already passed the House. It’s been received in the Senate and read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs. This petition will target President Obama The Committee on Indian Affairs and a few other Senators.

Please share this petition on Twitter, Facebook, Email and any other way that you are able to. Thank you for signing!

There is a provision in current law that allows unrecognized tribes to gain recognition through appeal to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 has hurt the Virginia tribes in their prior appeals to the BIA, according to the Washington Times. Tribe officials say the Act forced Indians to identify themselves as “colored” and led to the destruction and alteration of genealogical records.

Tribal proponents say the Virginia law amounted to a “paper genocide” and makes the bureau process difficult for the six groups, although there are some genealogical records that do exist and have been submitted to the bureau. Va. Gov. Tim Kaine called the vote “a major step towards reconciling an historic wrong for Virginia and the nation.”

President Barack Obama has reversed from past presidents and pledged to support recognition of the Lumbee Tribe, which has sought federal oversight for more than a century. According to the AP, Obama has not said whether he will support recognition of the Virginia tribes.

142nd Anniversary of the Washita Massacre of Nov. 27, 1868

( – promoted by navajo)

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The intent to commit genocide at Washita is hidden in plain view, unless key elements are brought together. These are: that the Cheyenne were placed on land where they would starve while promises to avert starvation were broken; that George Bent observed how Civil War soldiers did not harm white women and children by a “code of honor,” while Indian women and children were slaughtered; that Sheridan declared “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead;” and that the War Department did not differentiate between peaceful and warring Indians. Hence, the orders “to kill or hang all warriors.” As the consequence, the intent was to kill all men
of a specific race.

We’ll begin with Custer prior to the Washita Massacre along with the fact that the Cheyenne were forced onto land wherein they would starve.

Part 1: The Intent to Commit Genocide

Custer’s tactical errors of rushing ahead of the established military plans and dividing his troops are well known.


On the verge of what seemed to him a certain and glorious victory for both the United States and himself, Custer ordered an immediate attack on the Indian village.

Contemptuous of Indian military prowess, he split his forces into three parts to ensure that fewer Indians would escape. The attack was one the greatest fiascos of the United States Army, as thousands of Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors forced Custer’s unit back onto a long, dusty ridge parallel to the Little Bighorn, surrounded them, and killed all 210 of them.

Yet, what enabled him to get back “on the course” after his court martial in 1867 and his being relieved by President Ulysses S. Grant temporarily in 1876?

The answers to that question are deception, wisely having prevented Washita from being labeled a massacre by halting the slaying of women and children at Washita; thus, sidestepping a full investigation as Sand Creek was (my speculation), and more lies.

Forcing and binding those Native Nations onto land where they could not survive by hunting or agriculture, breaking promises to provide those survival means, and propaganda revolving around the Kansas Raids reset Custer “on the course.” Moxtaveto (Black Kettle) was innocent.

What about the Dog Soldiers, weren’t they somehow to blame? An old Indian joke goes, “When the whites win, it’s a victory; when the Indians win, it’s a massacre.” Let’s look at what occurred amongst the Chiefs after the Sand Creek Massacre and prior to the Kansas Raids to find some answers, in between the “victories” and the “massacres.”

(Bold mine)…

And so, when the Chiefs gathered to decide what the people should do, Black Kettle took his usual place among them. Everyone agreed Sand Creek must be avenged. But there were questions. Why had the soldiers attacked with such viciousness? Why had they killed and mutilated women and children?
It seemed that the conflict with the whites had somehow changed. No longer was it just a war over land and buffalo. Now, the soldiers were destroying everything Cheyenne – the land, the buffalo, and the people themselves.

Why? George thought he knew. He had lived among the whites and had fought in their war. He knew their greed for land and possessions – Their appetite for these things was boundless. But they also obeyed rules of warfare peculiar to them. They waged war on men, and only on recognized fields of battle. In the great life-and-death struggle between North and South even then raging in the East, prisoners were routinely paroled and released or held in guarded camps, where they were fed and cared for. And the whites never warred on women and children who were protected by law and by an unshakable code of honor –

Still Black Kettle counseled peace. A war with the whites, he said, could not be won. The newcomers were too numerous, their weapons too strong. Besides, they had the ability to fight in winter when Cheyenne horses were weak and food was scarce… For Black Kettle, Cheyenne survival depended on peace. War could only bring more Sand Creeks, more deaths, more sorrow – One by one the council Chiefs smoked the red stone war pipe, each recognizing the importance of his decision. When the pipe reached Black Kettle, he passed it on, refusing to smoke. But the others took it up, indicating they would fight.

Hence, the Kansas “Raids” were the only means left available to keep what was promised to them: the ability to survive. The land “given” to them was neither harvestable nor huntable. Those “raids” were the last resort of self defense for survival.

The Last Indian Raid in Kansas


Black Kettle miraculously escaped harm at the Sand Creek Massacre, even when he returned to rescue his seriously injured wife. And perhaps more miraculously, he continued to counsel peace when the Cheyenne attempted to strike back with isolated raids on wagon trains and nearby ranches.
By October 1865, he and other Indian leaders had arranged an uneasy truce on the plains, signing a new treaty that exchanged the Sand Creek reservation for reservations in southwestern Kansas but deprived the Cheyenne of access to most of their coveted Kansas hunting grounds.

Furthermore, General Sheridan never had any intention of peaceful relations with Black Kettle whatsoever.

(Bold mine)

Dee Brown. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.” P. 169.

In his official report over the “savage butchers” and “savage bands of cruel marauders,” General Sheridan rejoiced that he had “wiped out Black Kettle, a worn – out and worthless old cipher.”

He then stated that he had promised Black Kettle sanctuary if he would come into a fort before military operations began. “He refused,” Sheridan lied, “and was killed in the fight.”

In fact, it is owed to General Sheridan himself the “American aphorism,” “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” It started as “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.”

Whether or not Black Kettle strove for peace or the Dog Soldiers fought, they were all as “good as dead.”  The extermination policy set Custer “on the course” to Washita.

(Bold mine)


Given the War Department’s mandate that all Cheyennes were guilty for the sins of the few in regard to the Kansas raids, there is no question that Custer succeeded in this pur­pose by attacking Black Kettle’s village. His instructions from his supe­riors had been “to destroy their villages and ponies; to kill or hang all warriors, and bring back all women and children.”

Part 2: The Approaching Genocide at Washita

Custer was pursuing the snow tracks of Dog Soldiers that would eventually lead to Black Kettle’s village on Thanksgiving Day in a cruel irony. The cruelest irony however, was that Black Kettle and his wife would be slain nearly four years to the day that they both escaped Chivington at the Sand Creek Massacre. Black Kettle’s honesty concerning young men in his village he could not control was of no avail. He and his village were going to be “punished” and broken beyond any immediate or distant recovery.

John Corbin, the messenger from Major Elliot, rode up and informed Custer of two large Indian snow tracks. One was recent. Preparations were then made to pursue the “savages” as covertly as possible. Smoking ceased and weapons were bound to prevent visual or aural detection. In addition, the 7th whispered and paused frequently as they rode slowly towards the future tracks that would lead to Black Kettle’s village. Simultaneously, Black Kettle received dire warnings that he and the others ignored. A Kiowa war party gave the first warning of having seen soldier’s tracks that were heading their direction. It was discounted. Black Kettle’s wife, Medicine Woman, gave another warning that night before the 7th’s arrival of an intuitive nature during the meeting in the Peace Chief’s lodge by firelight. She begged them to move immediately. It too was dismissed. They would move the next day, instead.

Black Kettle had already moved their camp recently, which the returning war party that had helped in the Kansas Raids learned upon their returning. November 25th found this war party dividing into two different directions in order to reach their destinations the quickest. Approximately 139 of them traveled to the big village on the river, while about 11 of them led Custer straight to Black Kettle. A bell around one dog’s neck enabled all the dogs to be located easily by the tribe, and after a Cheyenne baby cried, Custer pinpointed their exact location. He coordinated the attack to begin at dawn from four fronts.

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Thompson’s troops would attack to the North East, Myer’s and Custer’s troops positioned to attack to the East and South East, while Elliot would attack to the South.

Custer knew their mobility was greatly hampered in winter time; consequently, that was an important element in the “campaign.”

Part 3: The Genocide At Washita

The sensory components of the genocide at Washita in now Cheyenne, Oklahoma must be held in mind in order to capture the entire breadth of it. These are sound, smell, and sight. For example, the shrill crying of the noncombatant Cheyenne women and children, and the yelling of the charging 7th Calvary with their knives and guns would have been beyond deafening. And the fog with gunpowder smoke must have been worse than any nightmare, while the red blood – stained snow and the smell of death permeated the ground and air.

The Death & Vision of Moxtaveto ( Black Kettle)

A woman dashed into the village to warn Black Kettle of the coming troopers; he hastily snatched his rifle from his lodge and fired a warning shot for all to awaken and flee. If he had attempted to meet the soldiers and ask for peaceful negotiations, that would have been useless; as a result, he then mounted his horse with his wife, Woman Here After, and tried to escape through the North direction. His horse was shot in the leg before bullets knocked him and his wife off the horse and into the Washita River, where they both died together.


“Both the chief and his wife fell at the river bank riddled with bullets,” one witness reported, “the soldiers rode right over Black Kettle and his wife and their horse as they lay dead on the ground, and their bodies were all splashed with mud by the charging soldiers.” Custer later reported that an Osage guide took Black Kettle’s scalp.

Stan Hiog. “The Peace Chiefs Of The Cheyenne.” p. 174

Moving Behind, a Cheyenne Woman, later stated: “There was a sharp curve in the river where an old road – crossing used to be. Indian men used to go there to water their ponies. Here we saw the bodies of Black Kettle and his wife, lying under the water. The horse they had ridden lay dead beside them. We observed that they had tried to escape across the river when they were shot.”

Location of  Black Kettle’s death

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Warriors, eleven who died, rushed out of their lodges with inferior firepower to defend the village. Simultaneously, the overall noncombatants ran for their lives into the freezing Washita River.

(Taken with permission)

The words of Ben Clark, Custer’s chief of scouts, brought the truth out after Custer distributed propaganda about one white woman and two white boys as having been hostages in Black Kettle’s village. There were no “hostages, a Cheyenne woman committed suicide. Speculating, here is why.

She didn’t want her son mutilated by Custer or a 7th Calvary soldier; she didn’t want her vagina ripped out and put on a stick, worn, or made into a tobacco pouch. So, she killed her son and herself first.

Jerome A. Greene. Washita. Chap.7. pp. 130-131

There, as the people fell at the hands of the troopers, one woman, in a helpless rage, stood up with her baby, held it out in an outstretched arm, and with the other drew a knife and fatally stabbed the infant – erroneously believed by the soldiers to be a white child. She then plunged the blade into her own chest in suicide.

(Location of the genocide at Washita, a few yards from Black Kettle’s death)

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The 7th hunted them down and murdered them. Although the orders were to “hang all warriors;” it was much more convenient to shoot them. All wounded Cheyenne were shot where they laid.

Osage scouts mutilated women and children. They did a “roundup” of their own by using tree limbs to herd the defenseless Cheyenne women and children back to the village, where the mutilations could continue. Custer halted the slaying of women and children at one point, but he raped them later in captivity.

One Osage scout beheaded a Cheyenne.

Jerome A. Greene. Washita. Chap.7. pp120

They (Osages) “shot down the women and mutilated their bodies, cutting off their arms, legs and breasts with knives.”

The 7th captured the Cheyenne and started bonfires. They burned the 51 lodges to the ground. Winter clothing that was depended upon for winter survival was incinerated in the flames, as was food supplies. Weapons and all lodge contents were burned also, including any sacred items.

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Finally, 875 horses were shot, thus stripping away their last means of survival and independence.

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Dee Brown. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.” P.170

Late in December the survivors of Black Kettle’s band began arriving at Fort Cobb –

Little Robe was now the nominal leader of the tribe, and was taken to see Sheridan he told the bearlike soldier chief that his people were starving – they had eaten all their dogs.

Sheridan replied that the Cheyennes would be fed if they all came into Fort Cobb and surrendered unconditionally. “You cannot make peace now and commence killing whites again in the spring.” Sheridan added, “If you are not willing to make a complete peace, you can go back and we will fight this thing out.”

Little Robe knew there was but one answer he could give.

“It is for you to say what we have to do,” he said.

American Holocaust

(It is worth noting also that the Fuhrer from time to time expressed admiration for the “efficiency” of the American genocide campaign against the Indians, viewing it as a forerunner for his own plans and programs.)

The Cheyenne women were “transported” by an officer named Romero to the other officers once they were prisoners at Fort Cobb.


Custer “enjoyed one” every evening in the privacy of his tent. Presumably, he stopped raping the Cheyenne women when his wife arrived.


Custer’s wife, Elizabeth (Bacon), whom he married in 1864, lived to the age of ninety-one. The couple had no children. She was devoted to his memory, wrote three books about him, and when she died in 1933 was buried beside him at West Point. Her Tenting on the Plains (1887) presents a charming picture of their stay in Texas. Custer’s headquarters building in Austin, the Blind Asylum, located on the “Little Campus” of the University of Texas, has been restored.

Jerome A. Greene. “Washita.” Chap. 8, p.169.

Ben Clack told Walter M. Camp: many of the squaws captured at Washita were used by the officers…Romero was put in charge of them and on the march Romero would send squaws around to the officers’ tents every night. [Clark] says Custer picked out a fine looking one and had her in his tent every night.”

This statement is more or less confirmed by Frederick Benteen, who in 1896 asserted that Custer selected Monahseetah/Meotzi from among the women prisoners and cohabited with her “during the winter and spring of 1868 and ’69” until his wife arrived in the summer of 1869. Although Benteen’s assertions regarding Custer are not always to be trusted, his statements nonetheless conform entirely to those of the reliable Ben Clark and thus cannot be ignored.”

Further information regarding accurate numbers of deaths, captives and list of names are in Jerome A. Greene’s wonderful book, “Washita.”


We have been traveling through a cloud. The sky has been dark ever since the war began.

Black Kettle

Native Voices: Black Kettle

I did imagine hearing crying voices when I went to the site of the Washita Massacre and before writing Moxtaveto’s (Black Kettle’s) Extermination on November 27, 1868 & a Request. The elders say it’s haunted, like they said they could hear children cry at the Sand Creek Massacre.

To end this, I will quote former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell from the dedication of the Sand Creek Massacre, “If there were any savages that day, it was not the Indian people.”

American Indian Biography: Masasoit, Wampanoag Leader

( – promoted by navajo)


photo credit: Aaron Huey

During the first part of the seventeenth century, the Wampanoag Confederacy controlled a large portion of what is now New England. Wampanoag territory ranged from Narragansett Bay to Cape Cod. The leader of this confederacy during the first part of the seventeenth century was Massasoit, who is generally described as the Great Sachem. His main village was located near present-day Bristol, Rhode Island.  

The Wampanoag were hit hard by the epidemics which swept through New England in 1616-1619. Prior to the epidemics it is estimated that there were 24,000 people living in Indian communities affiliated with the Wampanoag confederacy led by Massasoit. As a result of the epidemics, 75% of the population died.

With the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1621, Massasoit saw an opportunity to increase the power of the Wampanoag confederacy. By signing a treaty of mutual support and protection with the Pilgrims, Massosoit insured that there would be peaceful relations with these people, but more importantly, this alliance would give the Wampanoag better access to European trade goods. With these goods, particularly firearms, the Wampanoag were able to increase their power among the tribes in the region.

In 1621, Massasoit had two of this people-Hobomok and Squanto-teach the Pilgrims agricultural techniques. Without these lessons and without the food supplied to them by the Indians, it is doubtful that the little colony would have survived. That fall, following the harvest, Massasoit brought 60-100 Wampanoag to Plymouth for a traditional harvest feast and with this action set the pattern for a holiday which Americans would later call Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag brought with them five deer to provide venison for the feast, as well as turkey, geese, ducks, eels, shellfish, cornbread, succotash, squash, berries, wild plums, and maple sugar.

In 1621 there was a rumor that Massasoit had been captured by the Pocasset sachem Corbitant. Squanto, Hobamok, and Tokamahomon, who were living with the Pilgrims, went to Corbitant’s village where they found that the rumor was not true, but Corbitant took them captive. Hobamok managed to escape and told the English who then attacked the village, wounding several Indians and freeing Squanto and Tokamahomon. Massasoit then negotiated a peace between the English and the Pocasset.

In 1623, Massasoit became sick and was treated by English physicians. At this time, he warned the Pilgrims that some of the tribes-Narragansett, Massachuset, and some Wampanoag-were plotting against the settlers. Massasoit’s war chief, Annawan, led a series of raids against the insurgent groups.

Over the years, however, Massasoit found that his alliance with English was not beneficial to his people. With the great English hunger for land, more and more Wampanoag land was taken from them. When the Indians complained, they were punished by the English courts who viewed them as trespassers on their own homelands.

Massasoit died in 1661 and his son Alexander (Wamsutta) became the Grand Sachem briefly. Then his other son Philip (Metacom) became Grand Sachem and led the Wampanoag into the uprising against the English known as King Philip’s War.  

Indian Self-Determination Threatened

( – promoted by navajo)


photo credit: Aaron Huey

During the twentieth century, American Indian government policies with regard to American Indian nations changed radically several times. In the 1970s the government adopted a policy of self-determination which has proven to be the most successful approach for dealing with the wide variety of problems found on Indian reservations. Recently, however, Stephen Cornell and Joseph P. Kalt, in a recent working paper entitled “American Indian Self-Determination: The Political Economy of a Policy that Works,” have concluded:

Analysis of thousands of sponsorships of federal legislation over 1970-present, however, finds the equilibrium under challenge. In particular, since the late 1990s, Republican congressional support for policies of self-determination has fallen off sharply and has not returned. The recent change in the party control of Congress calls into question the sustainability of self-determination through self-governance as a central principle of federal Indian policy.


What Came Before:

For the first century of its existence, the United States Indian policy viewed American Indian tribes as sovereign nations and therefore negotiated treaties with them in order to obtain title to their lands. By the 1880s, American greed caught up to Indian policies. Feeling that the Indians had too much land, federal policies turned toward assimilation. The idea was simple: destroy tribal governments, break up the reservations, and have individual Indians assimilate into the American dream in the same manner as other immigrants. The result of this policy was the creation of massive poverty on Indian reservations.

By the 1920s, its was obvious to many people that federal Indian policy was a failure. With the election of Franklin Roosevelt and the implementation of the New Deal Indian policies again changed. The idea now was to have the tribes reorganize their governments as corporations and to give Indians some say in determining their future.

Following World War II, the United States turned its energies into fighting communism. Indian reservations and policies which would allow Indians to determine their own futures were deemed communistic and the federal government set out once again to destroy (terminate) Indian tribes and to “allow” Indians to assimilate like other immigrants. Indian people and their tribal governments vigorously opposed these policies.


Under the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, American Indian policy began to shift and with the formal renunciation of termination by President Richard Nixon, Indian policy formally moved away from assimilation. In asking Congress to pass a resolution repudiating termination, Nixon told Congress:

“Because termination is morally and legally unacceptable, because it produces bad practical results, and because the mere threat of termination tends to discourage greater self-sufficiency among Indian groups, I am asking the Congress to pass a new Concurrent Resolution which would expressly renounce, repudiate and repeal the termination policy as expressed in House Concurrent Resolution 108 of the 83rd Congress.”

The new Indian policy focused on Self-Determination and government-to-government relations between federal agencies, state governments and the tribes. In some respects this represented a return to the philosophies behind the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act.

The Indian Self-Determination Act was passed by Congress in 1974. The Act stipulates that Indian tribes could contract to take over programs which had previously been handled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. According to the Act, the tribes may, upon request, contract with the agencies to administer programs on their reservations. The agencies have almost no discretion to decline to enter into such contracts. Self-determination was to be a launching platform for tribal advancement and economic development.

Self-determination is ultimately about the concept of sovereignty: the right of a people to govern themselves. Indian tribes are viewed as sovereign nations by the constitution. The Supreme Court has described tribes as domestic, dependent nations, meaning that some of their aboriginal sovereignty has been given to the federal government. The Nez Perce Tribe puts it this way:

“The powers that tribes exercise today are nevertheless the same inherent sovereign powers they possessed and exercised centuries ago. We must and do recognize, however, that some of these powers exist in altered form and that others have been totally extinguished or reduced over the years.”

The era of Self-Determination over the past three decades has meant that Indian tribes have enjoyed sustained support and cooperation from the Congress and the executive branch to engage in meaningful government-to-government relations.

With regard to self-determination and economic development on Indian reservations, Self-Determination has meant that development programs are being designed and directed by Indian tribes instead of the federal government. With the new Congress this may change.  

UN Forum on Indigenous Issues Visits NJ

( – promoted by navajo)

On Wednesday, November 17, representatives from the   UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues came to Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck for an informative lecture and film presentation.  The main speakers were the Chair of the Permanent Forum as well as Ms. Tonya Gonnella Frichner of the Onandaga Nation, a current member of the UNPFII.

The focus was on how the UNPFII is structured to help indigenous peoples all over the world deal with issues ranging from genocide to near-slavery to the theft of natural resources.  It was a clear-eyed look at the power, and the limitations of what the UN can do.  The film shown, is available here.

For example, the UN often is the ONLY recourse for indigenous people who are being oppressed by their own governments. That is the nature of the conflict, the powerful oppressing the powerless.  Usually because the indigenous peoples were shepherding and caring for their environment and living in concert with the land for millennia, that land is now the majority of the land that is now unspoiled by development, and a large natural target for the greedy eye of developing nations and multi-national corporations, who have no allegiance to the countries they exploit.

The dilemma of the indigenous people is dire without the aid and intervention of the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues.  The Forum was made Permanent because of the incredible importance of protecting the human rights of people around the world.  We think of indigenous here as meaning Native Americans, but there are over 70 countries around the world with indigenous populations under similar and constant threats to their very existence.

What the UNPFII gives the indigenous peoples of the world, is an amplified voice.   A voice that while not heard in the halls of power in the countries they inhabit is heard loud and clear in the UN building in New York.  By allowing the representatives of indigenous peoples literally a Forum to tell their story to the rest of the world, they create hope by starting the dialogue.  Often Governments that turned a deaf ear to the urgent complaints of the indigenous peoples at home, are suddenly shamed into listening to those same voices, by having their human rights violations and crimes against humanity exposed to the rest of the world.  Since the UN cannot force a country to do the right thing, the UN can shine a light on a country to expose the truth and the opinion of the rest of the world can be brought to bear.  

An interesting point brought up by the Chairman of the UNPFII was that once world opinion turns on a practice by a country or multi-national, the World Bank, which finances development around the world, can weigh in, and refuse to fund development that destroys indigenous land and resources.   That is one way in which the pressure brought to bear by the UNPFII can have a monetary impact.

There is also the office of the Special Rapporteur.  This office is charged with investigating human rights violations against indigenous peoples and working to formulate solutions among all the agency bodies involved.

As I sat in the audience listening, I was having a flashback to April of this year when the Red Chief of the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape Indians, Dr. Ronald Yonaguska Holloway appeared before the UNPFII and addressed the General Assembly.  Chief Holloway is practically the NJ poster child for exactly how the UN works to help indigenous peoples all over the world.  Being oppressed by the Government of NJ and threatened with being historically wiped out because of the NJ Indian Commission stacked with folks who either aren’t indigenous to NJ or are not even a real Indian Tribe, they are being denied a voice in Government even though the Department of the Interior as well as The Smithsonian, has for years considered the Sand Hill the very last continuously operating indigenous Lenape tribe left in NJ.  Chief Holloway appealed to the UN when the courts in NJ would not let his lawsuit against the state proceed even to discovery – let alone a real trial.  The UN responded and took up his case and allowed him a voice at the Forum in April.  That was the starting point for real dialogue which is now taking place.

The event on the November 17th was an important one.  The room was packed with College students, local residents interested in the issue, professors of political science and history, and only a few Native Americans.  Many in the room were just being introduced to the issues being discussed, which is a major step forward. Too often indigenous issues are not known among the larger community – but the UN and Fairleigh Dickinson hope to change that.

Chief Holloway politely raised a hand to ask just two questions.  Chief Holloway introduced himself and expressed greetings from the other Chiefs who could not attend, upon which Ms. Frichner expressed how pleased she was he was able to be there and that she was honored to be in his presence.  It was very different than how  I observed Chief Holloway being treated at the NJ Indian Commission, which still refuses to recognize his tribe and is the source of his complaint with NJ.

The first question Chief Holloway asked was if the US had reached out to the UN to even start to address the 500 tribes still in the United States that the government has not yet negotiated with to solve the “Indian Problem”.  The answer, sadly was “no”.  The US is now the ONLY country who has NOT signed on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Chief Holloway’s  next question had to do with the fact that although the event that evening was fabulous, he expressed regret that he only learned of it just before he was about to board a plane that day.  He only found out about it because his government liaison read about it in the local paper. Perhaps there could be better communication with the NJ tribes. It all made sense to me just then.  The “Indigenous” person who greeted the crowd was none other than Dwayne Perry, the colorful CEO of the Ramapough Mountain people, who fancies himself a Chief, even though he is CEO of a non-profit corporation.  The Ramapough formed a non-profit corporation in the 1970’s. According to the Smithsonian, up to that point they were a mestizo group of Dutch, African, and mixed Native American blood who lived in a close knit community called the Jackson Whites.  For that reason, the Federal Government does not recognize the Ramapough as a tribe in the legal sense, because they are actually not a tribe. The NJ courts also consider the Ramapough simply a non-profit corporation, not a tribe, and certainly not a “Lenape Nation”.  

Unfortunately, the head of the NJ Indian Commission is a member of the Ramapough.  Therein lies the problem, it appears that a fake Indian tribe is preventing the real one from any representation in government.

I ran into an organizer for the event who came up to Chief Holloway afterward and said that she saw him speak at the UN in April and that she very much wanted to get him for this event only to be stymied at how to contact him.  Ramapough CEO Dwayne Perry knows darn well how to contact Chief Holloway, which may explain why Perry seemed so distracted to see Chief Holloway staring back at him from the second row directly in front of the podium.  Had Perry perhaps been secretly trying to prevent Holloway from coming to an event of this magnitude?  Was Perry perhaps thinking he’d be the only NJ “Indian” in the room besides his Ramapough friend who played a small drum during the opening prayer?  That may explain why, when a real Lenape Indian Chief showed up, CEO Perry instantly became the incredible shrinking man.  His rambling incoherent question during the question and answer session, further gave the appearance that Perry was thrown.  There are enough governmental/organizations who know Chief Holloway and by association must know his story –  that “Chief” Perry is not a real Indian Chief and his tribe is not technically a tribe but a Native American entity, and friends of his who sit on the Indian Commission are at the heart of Chief Holloway’s very complaint.  

The history of Chief Holloway’s tribe is being systematically wiped out by a group of folks who appear to be trying to steal it and claim it for their own with the blessing of the government of NJ.  They had almost once again succeeded in keeping the real last Lenape Tribe from being seen or heard from. Once again, fortunately, they had failed.

The Timucua

( – promoted by navajo)


photo credit: Aaron Huey

Prior to the Spanish invasion of Florida in 1513, it is estimated that there may have been as many as 772,000 Timucua. Fifty years later, the Timucua numbered about 150,000 due to epidemic diseases brought to Florida by the Spanish and by Spanish hostilities. By 1682, there were less than 1,000 Timucua.  

Timucua Culture:

The Timucua were skilled farmers who lived in permanent villages in present-day Florida. The Timucua were a powerful centralized chiefdom with an economy based on a combination of agriculture, hunting, and fishing. At the time of initial Spanish contact (1520-1570) there were nine Timucua-speaking chiefdoms in what is now Florida: Yustega, Utina, Potano, Tocobaga, Saturiwa, Aqua Dulce, Acuera, Ocali, and Mocozo.

The early Spanish explorers described the Timucuan houses as looking somewhat like pyramids. They were built by using flexible wall posts which were anchored in the ground. Their tops were then bent together and secured. Smaller branches were then interwoven among the support posts and the structure was covered with palm thatch.

Timucua villages were generally laid out around a central plaza and ballcourt area. The villages often contained a larger communal structure and a chief’s house. Some villages contained as many as 250 houses, but many consisted of only 20-30 houses with a population of 200-300 people.

One of the features of Timucua villages was the communal warehouse. These storehouses contained foods intended to serve the entire chiefdom and were located on or near the banks of steams which could be navigated by canoes. The Timucua dried large quantities of fish, alligators, snakes, deer, and other game on wooden rakes over smoking fires. They also dried maize, beans, and squash as well as amaranth/chenopod seeds, nuts, berries, fruits, such as plums, and other foodstuffs.

The Timucua villages were organized into a series of simple chiefdoms. Each of the estimated 25-30 Timucua chiefdoms was centered on a main village whose chief (utina) received homage from two to ten other villages. Each of these other villages had its own chief (holata). Timucuan chiefs generally belonged to the White Deer clan.

Among the Timucua, the chiefs were aided in their governing by chiefly officials who were usually village elders and/or high status individuals. Village council houses were round buildings which could hold 100 people or more.

It was not uncommon for a Timucua village to have a woman chief. Some villages regularly had women chiefs. Women chiefs had the same powers as male chiefs.

Among the Timucua there were both curers (isucu) and shamans (yaba). Curers were native doctors who used various herbs, while shamans performed rituals associated with gathering food, foretelling the future, finding lost items, and many more activities.

As with other American Indian tribes, the Timucua recognized more than two genders. Some people, known as Two Spirits or berdaches, took on the cultural roles of the opposite gender. Among the Timucua, these individuals were often healers. In addition, they played an important role in funerals by carrying the dead for burial.

The Timucua and the Spanish:

The first reported contact between the Timucua and the Spanish was in 1527. Pánfilio de Narváez, with a reputation for brutality and a strong desire to find gold and wealth, invaded Florida with a force of 600. The Timucua, hearing about Spanish brutality, left their village before the Spanish arrived, hoping to encourage the Spanish to leave by offering no hospitality. The Spanish entered the empty village and reported that it included one building which could hold 300 people. However, the Spanish find a gold rattle that ignited their gold-lust. The Spanish claimed the country for Spain

The Spanish continued their march north to Tampa Bay. At one village the Franciscan priests ordered that the revered remains of the Timucua ancestors be burned. The Spanish marched northward without seeing any natives. The Timucua considered their policy of avoidance to be successful.

In 1528, some Spanish explorers were taken to a Timucua village where they found many European goods. The Timucua explained that the goods had come from a ship which had wrecked in Tampa Bay.

In 1539, Hernando de Soto began his exploration of the southeast. He landed in Tampa Bay, Florida with a force of 200 horsemen (with 223 horses), 400 foot soldiers, some fighting dogs, and a small herd of hogs for food. Like other Spanish explorers, the Spanish Crown gave de Soto a license to plunder. The Spanish would seize local chiefs and hold them for a ransom of bearers, women, and corn. The women were forced to serve the Spanish as sexual slaves.

The Timucua near Tampa Bay were the first to encounter de Soto. The Spanish killed many Timucuans outright, tortured others, or tracked them down to be torn asunder by wolfhounds.

While the Spanish had military superiority with their firearms, horses, and dogs of war, they found that their armor was not very effective. The Timucua warriors used their atlatls (spear throwers) to launch spears which pierced Spanish armor.

The Spanish reported that they passed by many great fields of corn, beans, squash, and other plants. In one instance they reported that the fields ran for two leagues (approximately 4-5 miles) and that they spread out for as far as the eye can see on either side of the roadway. It is estimated that the Timucua had 10,000 acres under cultivation.

The Spanish noted that the Timucua-speaking capital of the Ocali chiefdom had 600 dwellings. It is estimated that the Ocali population was about 60,000 at this time.  

In 1647, the Timucua helped the Spanish to put down a revolt by the Apalachee and Chisca. The revolt was led by traditional Apalachee who burned seven churches and killed three friars. The Spanish force of 31 soldiers and 500 Timucua warriors engaged a large rebel army-perhaps 8,000 warriors-in a day-long battle. In spite of the fact that the Timucua suffered heavy losses, the rebellion was quickly put down.

In 1656, the Spanish governor heard rumors of an impending English raid against St. Augustine. He ordered the Timucua, Apalachee, and Guale to assemble 500 warriors and to march to St. Augustine to help defend it. The governor also commanded the warriors and their chiefs to carry their own supplies, including the corn and food they would need for the overland trek to and from St. Augustine and for a stay of at least one month in town. Since chiefs did not traditionally carry their own burdens, some were insulted by this request. One Timucua chief, Lúcas Menéndez, flatly refused to obey the order. In addition to having to supply their own food for at least six weeks, the Indians were not to be paid for their service to the Spanish.

In rebelling against Spanish authority, Lúcas Menéndez ordered all of the Spaniards in his province, with the exception of the Franciscan friars, to be killed. Their rebellion was not against the church as Catholicism had become the Timucuas’ own religion. Their rebellion was against the military government and its mistreatment of the chiefs and their people. The Timucua rebels initially killed seven people.

The different Timucua chiefs communicated to each other by writing letters in the Timucua language. In one instance, they intercepted a Spanish dispatch written in Spanish which they were able to read.

The Spanish response to the rebellion was to send a detachment of 60 Spanish soldiers and 200 Apalachee warriors into Timucua territory. The rebels took refuge at a fort near Santa Elena de Machava. After extended talks, the Indians in the territory surrendered. The Spanish allowed most to go free, but they arrested the leaders.

Intending to punish the rebel Timucua further, the Spanish sent out a second expedition. They captured about two dozen Indians, including several chiefs, who were then tried. Half were sentenced to death and half to hard labor in St. Augustine. Those who were sentenced to death were hung at various locations in Timucua territory as a reminder of Spanish authority.

A Western Shoshone Perspective on Yucca Mountain

Yucca Mountain in the Great Basin has been selected as the location for disposal of high-level nuclear waste from US commercial nuclear power reactors. The site was approved by President Bush in 2003 and has now entered the licensing phase. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing million of pages from documents in the most complicated regulatory process in human history. However, many questions about the suitability of the Yucca Mountain site are still left unanswered. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing guidelines compel the Department of Energy to prove site ownership of Yucca Mountain.  The Western Shoshone Native American tribe is asking, “How did the US obtain ownership of Yucca Mountain from the Western Shoshone Nation?”  The Western Shoshone people have been asking similar questions of the US since they signed the Treaty of Ruby Valley  in 1863. The Department of Energy pattern of argument in addressing Western Shoshone concerns seeks to minimize any assertion or assumption of existing ongoing rights. To the contrary, historical evidence provides fact of lawful ownership to Yucca Mountain by the Western Shoshone Nation.

Discovery, conquest, abandonment and sale are the lawful methods for the US to acquire land. Treaties of cession are the most common lawful method of transferring land ownership from the original Native American owners to the US in exchange for protection, goods and monetary payments. Treaties are contracts that emanate from International Law and are a formal relationship between one government recognizing another with the intent of preserving the existence of each nation party to the agreement. This is why the US Constitution specifically authorizes that treaties, “shall be the supreme law of the land.”  Relations between the Western Shoshone Nation and the US by treaty have similar provisions yet is different in important ways that have lasting effect.

Westward expansion was booming with the discovery of gold after the signing of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo between the US and Mexico. In Article 11 of the treaty the US solemnly pledged, “…Special care shall then be taken not to place its Indian occupants under the necessity of seeking new homes”. The shortest route to the gold fields of the west was overland through Native American country while the fastest route was by steamship via Panama. During the 1850’s gold from the Sierra Nevada Mountains was transported to Panama, through the jungle by rail and on to the US Treasury in Washington. A steamship carrying tons of gold bullion was lost to the bottom of the sea in 1857 triggering a financial crisis across America that precipitated the need for an overland transportation route. When the Civil War began in 1860 gold was needed to finance the war against the Confederacy requiring a secure overland shipping route.

Congress passed the Nevada Organizing Act  in 1861 allowing for the organization of the Territory of Nevada, “provided, further, that nothing in this Act contained shall be construed to impair the rights of person or property now pertaining to the Indians in said Territory, so long as such rights shall remain unextinguished by treaty between the United States and such Indians, or to include any territory which, by treaty with any Indian tribe is not, without the consent of said tribe, to be included within the territorial limits or jurisdiction of any state or Territory.”  In 1863 the US and the Western Shoshone Nation signed the Treaty of Ruby Valley. Unlike other treaties with Native Americans, the Treaty of Ruby Valley did not have provision ceding land to the US. Rather, the US agreed to pay the Western Shoshone Nation $5,000 a year for twenty years for the specific interests sought including unobstructed travel routes. In 1869 the US Congress ratified the Treaty of Ruby Valley and President Ulysses S. Grant Proclaimed the treaty in recognition of the relationship with the Western Shoshone Nation that helped the US win the Civil War. Three years later the US ended making treaties with Native Americans because all interests across the continent had been secured, “provided, further, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to invalidate or impair the obligation of any treaty heretofore lawfully made and ratified with any such Indian nation or tribe.”  The US failed to make the required payments due under Article 7 of the Treaty of Ruby Valley. The Western Shoshone Nation views the US failure to make payments as an abandonment of the rights and interests sought by treaty and a return to the current state of being before the treaty – status quo ante.

Poor legal interpretations and discrimination are used to undermine Western Shoshone sovereignty and property rights. In 1823 Chief Justice John Marshal for the US Supreme Court held in the case, Johnson & Grahame’s Lessee v. M’Intosh that Native Americans held only occupancy and possession (aboriginal title) to their lands. According to Steve Newcomb, Director of the Indigenous Land Institute, “the ‘discovering’ Christian European government is understood to have dominion over the soil even before physical possession is taken and before any ‘Indian title’ has been extinguished. It became the view of some Europeans commentators that, if the lands in question were not ‘possessed by any Christian prince’ at the time of their supposed ‘discovery’ then, according to the international law customary to Christendom, the Christian sovereign prince was understood, from the perspective of Christendom, to automatically obtain “sovereignty” and ‘dominion’ over the soil inhabited and possessed by non-Christians (or what US Supreme Court Chief Justice Marshall referred to in the Johnson ruling as heathens).”   Chief Justice Marshall violated the supposed separation of church and state, as well as, the First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. The Western Shoshone people are being penalized and persecuted to this day by the US for their lack of belief in Christianity. The Supreme Court ruled and the President and Congress violate the basic human rights of the Western Shoshone people with impunity.  

Other arguments used to justify the occupation of Western Shoshone country is a propaganda claim that Native Americans do not have a concept of land ownership. The Western Shoshone people are a distinct people and, unlike the US, possess a national ethnic identity. Western Shoshone nationals do have a system of property ownership in privity with all other Western Shoshone people. The people of the Western Shoshone Nation did not survey their boundaries though property rights and interests were known among mutual or successive Western Shoshone land users. Boundary points were known, marked and enforced by Western Shoshone chiefs throughout the region. The Nevada Surveyor General authorized under the 1861 Nevada Organizing Act identified the exterior boundaries of the State of Nevada and left the rest to the imagination. Most of the Great Basin was consumed by American imagination with boundaries constructed of the mind. Most of the land that makes up the Western Shoshone Nation was not in fact legally acquired. Incomplete land surveys and deficient maps show errors favoring the US and justify the abuse and oppression of the Western Shoshone Nation. More than 100 years passed without any rectification of the legal doctrine of discovery or any effort by the US to correct the errors in US surveys and deficient maps. Western Shoshone nationals continue to abide by the terms of the Treaty of Ruby Valley while being persecuted on their own property for activities “as hunters or herdsmen” contemplated by the treaty.

Still, more abuse of the Western Shoshone people and land are the result of negligence by the US in the development and testing of weapons of mass destruction. In the 1950’s the US occupied a vast expanse of Western Shoshone lands that now comprise the Nevada Test Site 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas for use as America’s nuclear proving ground. During the period of nuclear weapons testing from 1951-1994, the US detonated 904 full-scale nuclear weapons tests, 24 in collaboration with the United Kingdom.  The Western Shoshone Nation with the help of American supporters engaged in active protest against nuclear weapons testing and the MX inter-continental ballistic missile system planned for the Great Basin. The MX missile system was cancelled and full-scale nuclear weapons testing ended at the Nevada Test Site.

In 1994 the Western Shoshone National Council, traditional government of the Western Shoshone Nation, began questioning the incidents of cancer and other health consequences experienced by the Western Shoshone people known to be plausible from exposure to radiation in fallout from nuclear weapons testing. Reaching out to Southern Paiute neighbors they formed the Nuclear Risk Management for Native Communities Project to understand what happened to them and educate their communities on culturally appropriate protective behavior.

Collaborating with researchers from Marsh Institute at Clarke University, funded by the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Nuclear Risk Management for Native Communities project reviewed the Department of Energy, Off-site Radiation Exposure Review Program. What they found was that the Department of Energy study used a shepherd lifestyle to model Native Americans, but that the shepherd lifestyle did not accurately replicate the Western Shoshone or Southern Paiute people’s lifestyle. Based upon lifestyle differences alone the Nuclear Risk Management for Native Communities project found that Western Shoshone and Southern Paiute people were exposed to radiation through unique exposure pathways that included diet, shelter and mobility. Radiation exposure risk for adults are as much as 15 times greater than non-Native American communities downwind, as much as 30 times greater risk for children, and as much as 60 time greater risk for inutero exposure.  

Politically weak, socially and economically isolated the Western Shoshone people are vulnerable to exploitation. For the Western Shoshone Nation the stakes are mortal. The abuse continues as the Western Shoshone Nation is targeted for the disposal of nuclear waste from 115 nuclear reactors at 75 sites in 30 states. From the Western Shoshone perspective, nuclear waste streams from the reactor communities would become a river as they enter the Western Shoshone country, placing a disproportionate burden of risk upon the land and people of the Western Shoshone Nation.

A key point to know is that the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission worked together to establish guidelines and site selection criterion for a repository prior to 1980. Late in the site selection process the Department of Energy threw in the Yucca Mountain site because contractors at the Nevada Test Site were looking for new programs and realized that a nuclear waste repository would be needed, be very expensive and take a long time. Most of the language has changed and now the site relies almost entirely on engineered barriers rather than natural barriers. The Department of Energy has spent billions of dollars trying to make the Yucca Mountain site not look as bad as it is. The result of those expenditures is the Total Performance System model. The Total Performance System model involves the whole interaction of engineered barriers and natural barriers to achieve the goal of waste isolation.

The important difference between Yucca Mountain and the earlier sites considered is that the planned repository is in the biosphere, 900 feet from the top of Yucca Mountain and 400 feet above the water table, in heavily fractured rock called welded tuff. Though it looks dry, the rock at Yucca Mountain is 90 percent saturated with 10 percent water held within the pores of the rock. When hot nuclear waste is emplaced in the mountain, the rock shatters releasing the water that turns to vapor that can carry radiation to the surface along earthquake faults. Another scenario is that the vapor will condense into water when the waste cools and will flow back into the repository and carry the waste to the water table contaminating the groundwater. Once in the groundwater the radiation will be transported to surface spring locations. A large amount of nuclear waste placed in one location could combine to become a critical mass as it emerges to the surface poisoning the land and people living there in the future.  

To the Western Shoshone people Yucca Mountain is part of a seamless scared landscape known in the Shoshone language as, Newe Sogobia. Newe is what the Western Shoshone call themselves meaning, the people. Sogobia is the name of Mother Earth. Used together, Newe Sogobia is the political, social, cultural and spiritual embodiment of Western Shoshone people and land as a nation. There is no separation of church and state. The Western Shoshone people share a common ethnic identity that accounts for their continued struggle for political, social, economic and environmental justice against the threats, hazards and risks the US forces upon Newe Sogobia. To the Western Shoshone people, culture is the most important aspect for measuring the strength of a nation. Cultural identity is obtained from living in a place that provides a sense of identity binding the Western Shoshone people to the land.

The Western Shoshone Nation is being destroyed through US development of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository. The Western Shoshone people view the world holistically, considering the political, social, cultural, economic impact and moral wisdom of storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Unable to answer questions about safety within the context that Western Shoshone were asking them, the Department of Energy only considered Western Shoshone society through the narrow view of cultural resources studies. The process used by the Department of Energy, “cultural triage” that is defined as, “the forced choice situation in which an ethnic group is faced with the decision to rank in importance equally valued cultural resources that could be affected by a proposed development project.”   So, the Department of Energy researchers reframed the question in a form science could answer, “Is this burial, plant or animal safe from a road, tunnel or building needed for a repository at Yucca Mountain?”  The answer was returned as the answer to the original question being asked by the Western Shoshone people. The Western Shoshone National Council view the use of “cultural triage” and every proximate act, in furtherance of, and as a means to dismantle a living culture for the benefit and profit of the nuclear industry, a violation of International Humanitarian Law, and a crime under the UN Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the US enactments, the Proxmire Act.  

The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe in Death Valley, California petitioned the Secretary of Interior in 1998 to be designated an “affected Indian tribe” under provisions of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.  After 9 years, the Department of the Interior certified the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe as “affected” and eligible for financial assistance to conduct independent oversight, monitoring, impact assessment and to prepare for licensing proceedings at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Yet, another year has passed without funding to the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe while the Department of Energy spends hundreds of millions of dollars at Yucca Mountain, conduct viewed by most Western Shoshone as environmental racism.

The Yucca Mountain project is alive and moving forward in licensing proceeding before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety Licensing Board. However, the process is far from over. The next president of the US will have to set an appropriate budget for nuclear waste storage. The president’s budget may include increased funding for Yucca Mountain site activities, flat funding, or reduced funding. Reduced funding is one way the Yucca Mountain project may be ended if the president deems that the site is not suitable or unsafe. Also, the Congress can amend or repeal the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to consider other options than Yucca Mountain.

Progress is being made as the Western Shoshone Nation endures. The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe continues to press for full meaningful involvement and funding to adequately prepare contentions before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at Yucca Mountain. The Western Shoshone National Council has an obligation to protect Newe Sogobia and formally protests US oppression and abuses in international forums. In 2003 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States found that the US violated the human rights of the Western Shoshone under the American Declaration of the Rights of Man, by denying the right to due process, to equality before the law, the right to a fair trial, and the right to property, in connection with determinations and protection of Western Shoshone property rights in their ancestral lands. At the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2006 urged the US to: a) Freeze any plan to privatize Western Shoshone ancestral lands for transfer to multinational extractive industries and energy developers; b) Desist from all activities planned and/or conducted on the ancestral lands of the Western Shoshone or in relation to their natural resources, which are being carried out without consultation with and despite protests

of the Western Shoshone peoples; c) Stop imposing . . . restrictions on hunting, fishing and gathering, as well as arrests, and rescind all notices already made to that end, inflicted on Western Shoshone people while using their ancestral lands.  

American Indian Heritage Day: 11/26 Let’s Eat!


photo credit: Aaron Huey

This coming Friday, November 26th, the day after Thanksgiving is American Indian Heritage Day.

Below you’ll find a few American Indian recipes and some of my adaptations of them for you to try and celebrate with us.

100_8061IMG_3029Mutton Stew with Blue Corn and Dry Bread

There are a lot of online resources for traditional American Indian recipes. I’d like to share with you my modern adaptation of many traditional ingredients and share my photos of the finished dish.

First I’d like to start with my specialty, Cedar Planked Salmon from our relations in the Northwest.

I make this almost every other evening since it is so healthy.

IMG_3388Start with soaking cedar or alder planks for at least one hour. I prefer cedar over alder for the flavor it gives to the salmon. I prefer the thin planks and use only one time. (I save the charred plank to start the next fire. We have this dish so often that I always have a plank soaking.)

IMG_2933Build a really kick-ass wood fire and don’t use briquets, bleeck.

100_8061Drain water from plank. Salt and pepper the plank and place salmon on top, salt, pepper and sprinkle a thick layer of brown sugar on top of the salmon.

IMG_2936Level out the hot coals

IMG_2938Place the plank with salmon directly on the grill and close the lid, do not peek or the internal temperature won’t rise.  I remove my salmon when the thermometer reaches a little over 500 degrees, takes between 9 and 20 minutes depending on weather factors.

IMG_2939Remove finished charred plank and now lovely smoked salmon from grill, it’s easier to remove from plank after it has rested a short time in a warm place in your kitchen.


I serve over a healthy dark green salad or…


with roasted vegetables

Here is the old school way of smoking salmon, I’ve not tried this yet. ;)

salmon ready for smoking

Photo: John Brouwer 2006



Now that you have a bunch of left over turkey, try my invention.


Pumpkin soup with roasted turkey thigh and fresh sage chiffonade.  

Use any squash or pumpkin.  I prefer butternut squash, cut squash in half and roast until tender. Scoop flesh from shells and set aside. Sauté chopped yellow onions in olive oil, salt and pepper. The more browned the more flavor you’ll get. Add chicken or vegetable stock and the squash. Blend with one of those mini boat motors or I think it’s called a blending stick. Top with turkey and I like a fresh sage chiffonade for garnish.

My proportions are something like this:

1 butternut squash

2 large onions, just enough olive oil to prevent sticking and to brown properly

1 liter of stock



Another adaptation of mine is grass fed lamb tenderloin with fresh rosemary grilled over hardwood coals:


Coat the tenderloins in olive oil and lots of fresh chopped rosemary, salt and pepper and grill


Served with roasted organic red onions and yukon gold potatoes with arugula garnish



Yes, I’m a carnivore… We also enjoy the occasional buffalo strip loin steak:




And finally for my dishes, Navajo Mutton Stew.

Mutton Stew with Blue Corn and Dry Bread

My version uses lean lamb chunks roasted with chopped onions, deglazed with good ole water, seasoned with Tibetan Pink salt and black pepper, dried blue corn that has been soaked overnight.  Simmer for 3 hrs or until corn splits then add Yukon Gold potato chunks and cook for another 20 to 30 mins. Serve with dry bread for soaking up all the broth. YUM.


My last score and haul from visiting my relations on the Navajo rez.

I consulted my Native American Netroots team members and below are their contributions. Aji had many ideas but I decided not to bug her for this diary since she is so busy.




I had to include this comment from Deep Harm:

I’m interested in all Native American cooking, but am most familiar with the

cuisine of the tribes in New Mexico, so a “favorite” would be from that area.  I

love just about any dish made from chiles, blue cornmeal, posole or bison.  But,

stews are my favorite, particularly the green chile stews popular along the Rio

Grande. I love the bread baked in Taos Pueblo’s beehive ovens, too, but I’m

guessing that is hard to replicate in a typical kitchen.  

I don’t have any specific recipes to offer, other than Greg Palast’s Recipe for a Cooked Election, describing how the votes of Native Americans ‘disappeared’ in

the 2004 election.  But, that one’s not very palatable.




didja ever eat wojapi? It’s a favorite around here at all feasts (or ‘feeds’ as the media calls them). It’s a simple pudding best made out of choke cherries but we use any canned commod fruit in a pinch. Frybread dipped in wojapi is the best. But since 3/5’s of all modern food comes from our ancestors native cuisine includes almost everything. CC

Very Basic Wojapi (Makes about 1 pint)

2 cups of dark fruit/berries (Wild Choke Cherry, plum, sand cherry, currant, buffalo berry, or grape. All wild, all found on the Great Plains.)

1/2 cup sugar or honey

1/8 cup water

In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, combine fruit, sugar or honey and water.

Simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Serve immediately or, if using cherries or plums, allow the sauce to cool to room temperature before removing any pits or seeds. Then rewarm to serve with hot frybread.

This fry bread video demo is from the Navajo Nation:

There are a zillion fry bread recipes for you to try.  

I prefer to grill it over hardwood coals to reduce the calorie content. We call it dry bread.


Here’s an idea I stole from the Tuscans, a grill in my fireplace with my dry bread grilling:





Ojibwa has a food dedicated diary entitled: What’s for Dinner: An American Indian Feast

Here is one sample recipe from his diary:


Hidatsa Pumpkin:

   (additional comments and clarification have been added throughout by Ojibwa’s wife, who has used this recipe–)

   1   4- to 5-pound sugar pumpkin

   2 teaspoons salt

   ½ teaspoon dry mustard

   1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or rendered fat

   1 pound ground venison, buffalo, or lean beef

   1 medium onion, chopped

   1 cup wild rice, cooked (or brown and wild rice)

   3 eggs, beaten (or egg beaters or egg whites)

   1 teaspoon crushed dried sage (the cooking kind)

   ¼ teaspoon pepper

   Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut the top from pumpkin (like you would for a jack o’lantern) and remove seeds and strings from cavity. Prick cavity with a fork all over and rub with 1 teaspoon of salt and the dry mustard. Heat oil in large skillet. Add meat and onion and sauté over medium-high heat until browned. Off the heat, stir in wild rice, eggs, remaining salt, sage, and pepper. Stuff pumpkin with this mixture. Place ½ inch of water in the bottom of a shallow baking pan.

   Put pumpkin (and the lid) in the pan and bake for 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Add more water to the pan as necessary to avoid sticking. When done, bring to table with lid askew on top of pumpkin at a jaunty angle-it looks really nice. Cut pumpkin into wedges, giving each person both pumpkin and stuffing. ( The skin is tough and bitter and should not be eaten, but the flesh of the pumpkin will scrape away easily.)

   This would also make a good vegetarian recipe by leaving out the meat. It can be rather bland, however, and you may wish to add additional seasoning and cook your rice in a vegetable broth or stock instead of water.

   The pumpkin seeds you pulled out can be toasted for a snack.




When I was a kid, we used to eat the occasional alligator that my grandfather and his brothers hunted. But I have no recipe. I think my grandma just cooked them in recycled lard the same way she cooked catfish.

Tasty, but rough on the arteries.

Raw alligator meatAlligator meat frying

Fried alligator

Seminole Alligator Wrestlers

Alligator meat for sale
if you don’t

feel like hunting one down.

Seminole Alligator Wrestlers from the 1940s (Randle/Sheffield)

The Winnebago Uprising

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photo credit: Aaron Huey

During the 1820s, American miners began to invade the Galena area near the Illinois-Wisconsin border. When the Ho-Chunk began mining lead and selling it to American traders, the government became concerned that the Indians might feel that their land had economic value and might resist giving it to the United States. Thus, the Indian agents were instructed to prevent the Indians from mining lead and selling it. The government’s position was that the Indians must give up this land, along with the lead that it contained, so that it could be properly and profitably developed by the Americans invaders. Tensions increased between the Indians and the Americans.  

In 1826 several Ho-Chunk warriors attacked and killed members of a French Canadian family at their sugar camp near Prairie du Chien. The following year, American officials arrested two Ho-Chunk warriors and charged them with the murders. Soon there was a false rumor-possibly started by the Sioux in Minnesota-that the Americans had turned the two prisoners over to the Chippewa for execution. In response to the rumor, the Ho-Chunk tribal council designated Red Bird, Wekau, and Chickhonsic to carry out a revenge raid, a traditional response to the killing of a Winnebago. Red Bird and his two warriors killed a farmer and his hired hand. American settlers in the area responded by asking the government for more troops to protect them.

The actual 1827 Winnebago Uprising really only involved one incident. Two Mississippi keelboats stopped at the Ho-Chunk village above Prairie du Chien after making a delivery to Fort Snelling. One of the boatmen then kidnapped and raped several Ho-Chunk women. In response, Red Bird, as a war chief, organized a war party to rescue the women. Several nights later they caught up with the boats at a narrow stretch of the river near the mouth of the Bad Axe River. The warriors attacked from both shores, from an island, and by canoe. While the Ho-Chunk were unable to capture the boats, the women who were being held captive managed to escape. In the end, four Americans and twelve Ho-Chunk were killed in the battle.

The American settlers were alarmed by the incident and both federal troops and Illinois volunteers were mobilized to put down the “uprising.” They were joined by many miners who simply wanted the Ho-Chunk out of the region so that they could have full access to the lead deposits.

The Ho-Chunk were not unified and a number of prominent Ho-Chunk chiefs sided with the Americans. In the end, and without further battles, Red Bird agreed to give himself up to the military in order to save his people. At the portage between the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, he sang his death song and then surrendered. Carrying a white flag, and accompanied by his relatives, Red Bird entered the American camp. He wore a white buckskin, elaborately fringed, and a two-inch-wide collar of blue which wampum encircled with wildcat claws. Half his face was painted red, the other half green and white, While his surrender was being arranged by the leaders, he mixed tobacco and smoked quietly.

The Americans also arrested six other warriors and charged them with the murders of the farmers and the boatmen.

All of the Ho-Chunk were held in prison. The Ho-Chunk chief Nawkaw went to Washington, D.C. and met with President John Quincy Adams to lobby for Red Bird’s release. While President Adams acquitted Red Bird, the Ho-Chunk war leader died in prison before word of his release reached prison officials. Charges against the four warriors charged in the attack on the keelboats were dropped. Wekau and Chickhonsic were convicted of the murder of the farmer and his hired hand, but were later pardoned.

Red Bird was born near Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin about 1788 and his adult name-Red Bird-came from the red birds that he wore as epaulettes on his shoulders.  

The Massacre For Which Thanksgiving Is Named (Pt.2)

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and out of that heightened violence came the massacre for which Thanksgiving is named.

Thanksgiving Day Celebrates A Massacre

William B. Newell, a Penobscot Indian and former chairman of the Anthropology department at the University of Connecticut, says that the first official Thanksgiving Day celebrated the massacre of 700 Indian men, women and children during one of their religious ceremonies. “Thanksgiving Day” was first proclaimed by the Governor of the then Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 to commemorate the massacre of 700 men, women and children who were celebrating their annual Green Corn Dance…Thanksgiving Day to the, “in their own house”, Newell stated.

– small snip –

—–The very next day the governor declared a Thanksgiving Day…..For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor was in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.”

Without having the book or being able to see it online, the proclamation appears, according to Richard Drinnon, to have come from William Bradford. “‘Thanksgiving Day'” was first proclaimed by the Governor of the then Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637,” as from Newell, which was John Winthrop.

But “William Bradford became the governor of Plymouth after the first governor died in 1621.”

And in “1631, John Winthrop (1588-1649) became the first elected official in America-governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.”

They were both Puritans, they both probably said it.

Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating & Empire Building

The original Thanksgiving was marked by prayer and thanks for the untimely deaths of most of the Wampanoag Tribe due to smallpox contracted from earlier European visitors. Thus when the Pilgrims arrived they found the fields already cleared and planted, and they called them their own.

– snip –

He was inspired to issue a proclamation: “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.” The authentic Thanksgiving Day was born.

The following source cites Drinnon in the next paragraph, so I assume the following came from Drinnon as well.


Jump 129 years to 1621, year of the supposed “first Thanksgiving.” There is not much documentation of that event, but surviving Indians do not trust the myth. Natives were already dying like flies thanks to European-borne diseases. The Pequot tribe reportedly numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had reduced their population to 1,500 by 1637, when the first, officially proclaimed, all-Pilgrim “Thanksgiving” took place. At that feast, the whites of New England celebrated their massacre of the Pequots. “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots,” read Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop’s proclamation. Few Pequots survived.

The first Official Thanksgiving was gratitude for genocide in 1637, and in 1676 – 1677 “a day was set apart for public thanksgiving,” because nearly all of them were exterminated by then.…

3 See Sylvester, op. cit., ii, p. 457, for expedients adopted by Massachusetts to obtain money to defend the frontiers. Yet the number killed and sold, along with those who escaped, practically destroyed the warring Indians. According to the Massachusetts Records of 1676-1677 a day was set apart for public thanksgiving, because, among other things of moment, “there now scarce remains a name or family of them (the Indians) but are either slain, captivated or fled.”…

In their victory, the settlers launched an all-out genocide against the remaining Native people. The Massachusetts government offered 20 shillings bounty for every Indian scalp, and 40 shillings for every prisoner who could be sold into slavery. Soldiers were allowed to enslave any Indian woman or child under 14 they could capture. The “Praying Indians” who had converted to Christianity and fought on the side of the European troops were accused of shooting into the treetops during battles with “hostiles.” They were enslaved or killed. Other “peaceful” Indians of Dartmouth and Dover were invited to negotiate or seek refuge at trading posts – and were sold onto slave ships.

– snip –

After King Philip’s War, there were almost no Indians left free in the northern British colonies. A colonist wrote from Manhattan’s New York colony: “There is now but few Indians upon the island and those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts.” In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a “day of public thanksgiving” in 1676, saying, “there now scarce remains a name or family of them [the Indians] but are either slain, captivated or fled.”

Fifty-five years after the original Thanksgiving Day, the Puritans had destroyed the generous Wampanoag and all other neighboring tribes. The Wampanoag chief King Philip was beheaded. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull still hung on display 24 years later.

Furthermore, the continuing historical context of the Massacre for which Thanksgiving is named was in the context of “slave-producing wars in New England.”

The war consisted of two battles: the Mistick Fight, and the Swamp Fight. In the first of these two events, but seven captives were taken.1 In the second, the Swamp Fight, about one hundred and eighty captives were taken.2 Two of the sachems taken in the Swamp Fight were spared, on promise that they guide the English to the retreat of Sassacus. The other men captives, some twenty or thirty in number, were put to death.3 The remaining captives, consisting of about eighty women and children, were divided. Some were given to the soldiers, whether gratis or for pay does not appear. Thirty were given to the Narraganset who were allies of the English, forty-eight were sent to Massachusetts and the remainder were assigned to Connecticut.4  

During the years 1675 and 1676, one finds mention of the sale of Indians in Plymouth in groups of about a hundred,2 fifty-seven,3 three,4 one hundred and sixty,5 ten,6 and one.7 From June 25, 1675 to September 23, 1676, the records show the sale by the Plymouth colonial authorities of one hundred and eighty-eight Indians.8

    In the Massachusetts Bay colony a similar disposal of captives was accomplished. On one occasion about two hundred were transported and sold.9 There is extant a paper written by Daniel Gookin in 1676, one item of which is as follows: “a list of the Indian children that came in with John of Packachooge.” The list shows twenty-one boys and eleven girls distributed throughout the colony.10

Hence, the continuing historical context of the Massacre for which Thanksgiving is named: “In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a ‘day of public thanksgiving’ in 1676, saying, “there now scarce remains a name or family of them [the Indians] but are either slain, captivated or fled.”

A cold question arises about whether “the sale of Indians in Plymouth” was at least silently appreciated by the colony. Did they? Were they glad “the Indians” were almost exterminated? They never actually said they were far as I know.


It all began when Philip (called Metacom by his own people), the leader of the Wampanoag Indians, led attacks against English towns in the colony of Plymouth. The war spread quickly, pitting a loose confederation of southeastern Algonquians against a coalition of English colonists. While it raged, colonial armies pursued enemy Indians through the swamps and woods of New England, and Indians attacked English farms and towns from Narragansett Bay to the Connecticut River Valley. Both sides, in fact, had pursued the war seemingly without restraint, killing women and children, torturing captives, and mutilating the dead. The fighting ended after Philip was shot, quartered, and beheaded in August 1676.

How many were glad Saddam Hussein was hung? How many would be glad if all the perpetrators of 9-11 were shot? One last question, how many realize that then and now,  colonialism always brings more violence as “a colonizing European nation was asserting political jurisdiction.”  

Puritans, Indians, and Manifest Destiny. p.75 – 76

…But tribal rivalries and wars were relatively infrequent prior to Puritan settlement (compared to the number of wars in Europe)…Neither would have increased if it were not that a colonizing European nation was asserting political jurisdiction, in the name of God, over indigenous New England societies…When thus threatened with the usurpation of their own rights, as native tribes had been threatened years before by them, Puritans came to the defense of a system of government that was similar, in important ways, to the native governments that they had always defined as savage and uncivilized…

Some have lost careers over stating the obvious: the US brings it upon itself.

Howard Zinn. A People’s History Of The United States. p. 682.

We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism.


“And in secret places in our minds, in places we don’t talk about, we can’t handle the truth.”

That is true now, and it was true then. Genocide and slavery “saved lives,” just the lives the dominant culture wanted to live. And for that, the dominant culture (a mind set) is grateful.


William Bradford, in his famous History of the Plymouth Plantation, celebrated the Pequot massacre:

“Those that scraped the fire were slaine with the sword; some hewed to peeces, others rune throw with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatchte, and very few escapted. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fyer, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stincke and sente there of, but the victory seemed a sweete sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to inclose their enemise in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enimie.”

“William Bradford, the author of Of Plymouth Plantation (c. 1630, c. 1646), has been hailed as the father of American history.”– He sure as hell is.


The timeline itself along with basic knowledge of the Pilgrim’s and Puritan’s religious beliefs exposes the fact that historically speaking, Thanksgiving was literally about gratitude for genocide.

The Massacre For Which Thanksgiving Is Named (Update)

My User Name is of the Wampanoag King, Pometacom
(6+ / 0-)

Recommended by:

   Sean Robertson, capelza, i like bbq, Winter Rabbit, mamamedusa, brentbent

Son of Massasoit, brother of the murdered Wamsutta, best friend of Tispaquin, the Black Sachem of Nemasket. All but Massasoit were murdered by the Pilgrims. Wamsutta was murdered in prison (without explanation), Pometacom (King Phillip was shot and beheaded, and his wife and children were sold into slavery to Barbados, Tispaquin was promised that if he surrendered his life and his family’s life would be spared. When he did surrender, he was beheaded and his wife and children were sold into slavery to Barbados.

I was born and grew up a few miles from Plymouth, Mass. These are the historical facts we were deliberately not told when going to school. It’s not so much that our teachers lied to us, they had been lied to, and they were just repeating the lies without even knowing they were lies.

In 2000, I finally wrote a poem to deal with my anger of how much I had been lied to as a young kid growing up in the home of the Wampanoag. It is here:


Below is the story of Tispaquin, the Black Sachem:……

For those not wanting to click through, here is the poem:


By Douglas Watts

I was born on soil soaked with blood

Where the head of King Philip was ground in the mud

By the Pilgrims of Plymouth, and their first born sons.

They put his head on a spike and let it rot in the sun.

Shackled his children and family.

Shipped them to Barbados and sold them into slavery.

Now they taught me in grade school

About the first Thanksgiving

How Massasoit and Squanto kept the Pilgrims living.

But the teachers never told us what happened next.

How the head of King Philip was chopped off at the neck.

The teachers never told us what happened next.

How the head of Pometacom was sawed off at the neck.

The teachers never told us what the Pilgrims did

To Massasoit’s second son.

They put his head on a spike and let it rot in the sun.

The teachers never told us what they did

To kids who swam in the same brooks as me.

They put their legs in iron chains and sold them into slavery.

My name is Douglas Watts.

by Pometacom on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 10:00:02 PM PST

Spanish Missionary Efforts Among Florida Indians

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photo credit: Aaron Huey

When the Spanish exploration of Florida began with Juan Ponce de Leon (the conqueror of Puerto Rico) in 1513 there were an estimated 200,000 Native Americans living in what would later become the state of Florida. European diseases soon reduced this population. The Spanish expeditions which followed were motivated originally by greed and glory. In 1549, the Spanish launched their missionary efforts to convert the heathen natives.  

The first missionary effort was led by Fray Luis Cancer de Barbastro, a Dominican.  Fray Luis was an unusual missionary in that he felt that his primary hope in converting Indians lay in contacting people who had not been antagonized by the earlier Spanish show of force. He felt that Indians could be converted by kindness and good example instead of force.

With him were two other priests, a lay brother, and an Indian woman named Magdalena who was to serve as their interpreter. It is not certain if Magdalena was a Calusa who had been captured by an earlier Spanish expedition or if she was a Native Cuban who had been captured by the Calusa and learned their language. Trading trips to Cuba by the Calusa had been made regularly by fairly large numbers of Indian traders.

The missionary group landed at Tampa Bay where the Indians quickly captured a sailor, the lay brother, and Magdalena. Determined to rescue the captives, Fray Luis sailed to Charlotte Harbor. The three priests went to an Indian village to obtain information about the captives. While they saw Magdalena, they failed to rescue her, but they did rescue a Spanish sailor who had been captured ten years earlier. The sailor told them that the other captives had been killed.

Fray Luis, however, still wanted to save the souls of the Indians. He again went ashore. As he waded ashore he was greeted by Indians who first snatched his hat from his head, and then hit him on the head with a club. They then killed him.  He thus became a martyr to his cause and a victim of Calusa hostility which had been incited by earlier Spanish expeditions.  

While this ended the initial Spanish missionary attempt, there were some unintended consequences of this contact. The Spanish and Magdalena who were captured by the Calusa brought typhus with them. The mortality rate from this epidemic was about 10%.  

Missionary attempts began again in 1566 when the Spanish governor of Florida requested that the Jesuits establish missions among the Indians. Three Spanish Jesuits-Father Juan Rogel, Father Pedro Martínez, and Brother Francisco Villareal-sailed for Florida, but their ship missed St. Augustine and finally anchored off the Georgia coast near St. Simons Island. Father Martínez and some sailors went ashore to ask directions. While they were ashore, a storm blew their ship away from land, marooning them. After ten days, the Spanish built a small boat and attempted to find St. Augustine. Father Martínez and three sailors were killed by Indians.

While this initial attempt did not bode well for the Jesuits, the following year they managed to establish a mission at the town of Calos, the capital of the Calusa nation.

In 1568, a group of 11 Jesuits led by Father Juan Bautista de Segura arrived in St. Augustine. The Jesuits were seeking to establish missions among the Tequesta and Calusa. They made few converts. In general, the chiefs and native religious leaders were openly hostile toward the Jesuits, viewing them as threats to the power of the native elites. The following year, the Jesuits admitted failure and abandoned their mission at Calos. In 1572, the Spanish Jesuits abandoned all of their missionary efforts in Florida.

In 1573, the Spanish governor of Florida arranged for the Franciscans to establish missions in the territories under his jurisdiction. Under Royal Orders, 18 Franciscans were to be sent to La Florida. By the end of the year, three Franciscans had arrived and were working with the Guale and Orista. The Franciscans baptized the chief and his wife of the main town of Guale. This was a major victory for the Franciscans as the chief was in line to become the head chief over a number of villages.

In 1575, the Franciscans decided that it was in their best interest to withdraw from the area because of conflicts with the Spanish colonial government.

In 1584, the Franciscans tried again. A group of Franciscans under the leadership of Father Alonso de Reynoso arrived in St. Augustine to establish missions among the Indians. However, the priest was accused of fraud and denounced for excessive card playing. Thus the Franciscans’ missionary effort ended almost before it had begun.

In 1587, Father Alonso de Reynoso brought nine Franciscan friars to help convert and pacify the Indians. Three years later, Father Alonso de Reynoso brought in another group of 12 Franciscan friars to work among the Indians.

In 1595, a group of 12 Franciscan friars under the leadership of Father Juan de Silva began missionary work among the Indians. This marks the beginning of successful Franciscan missionary efforts among the La Florida Indians. The Franciscans’ missionary efforts were carefully carried out within the context of Spanish colonial enterprise and against a backdrop of native depopulation. As a part of this missionary effort, the Franciscan Francisco Pareja began writing down the language of the Timucua.

In 1608, the Apalachee chiefs asked the Spanish to send them priests. The Apalachee have an estimated population of 50,000 living in 107 towns. At this time, the traditional chiefs were finding it difficult to control their people and felt that affiliation with the Spanish would reinforce their leadership through formal recognition of the leadership, gift giving, and military alliances. The Apalachee had been a Mississippian chiefdom in which the chiefs had considerable power. The native leaders in Spanish Florida were willing to abandon some traditional priestly power when it no longer reinforced their chiefly authority.

A Franciscan priest and an entourage of 150 Potano and Timucua traveled to the Apalachee town of Ivitachuco. The Apalachee cleared a wide road for the travelers and an estimated 36,000 Apalachee, including 70 chiefs, greeted the entourage.

In 1610, the Franciscans extended their missionary work to the interior of the Timucua territory. The Franciscan Francisco Pareja published a book in 1613 in Mexico City which contained sections on religious doctrine in both Spanish and Timucua.

In 1633, the Franciscans established a mission-San Lorenzo de Ivitachuco-among the Apalachee. At this time the native population was relatively large and dense. The Apalachee chiefs appeared to be enthusiastic about the Spanish and the Franciscans. Following the demographic and political collapse brought about by disease, the chiefs were scrambling to retain their authority. They saw the alliance with the Spanish Franciscans as a way to retain power.

In 1680, the Spanish Franciscans abandoned the mission at Santa Catalina which served the Guale. Four years later, the Franciscans re-established a mission among the Guale. The new mission was located on Amelia Island and was called Santa María by the Spanish.

In 1697, the Spanish sent a group of Franciscans to the Calusa. The Calusa were less than enthusiastic about the Franciscans. The friars were ridiculed and insulted. Calusa hecklers mooned the friars and sent them fleeing south down the coast toward Cuba in a small boat.

In 1743, the Jesuits returned to Florida and established a mission, Santa Maria, at the mouth of the Miami River. The mission was intended to serve the 200 people who comprised the remnants of the Calusa, Key, and Boca Raton tribes

In 1763, Florida was transferred from Spain to England, thus ending the Spanish missionary efforts.  

Origins Of The Native American Flute

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The clear origins of the Native American Flute date back several thousand millennia to flutes made of bone, to petroglyphs, and oral history. Unclear “origins” involve the Spanish Conquest insofar as the Spanish stealing the bamboo flute from Asia, and then introducing it to the Five Civilized Tribes. A Cheyenne Flute Maker relayed this to me. The idea goes, that the bamboo flute was made out of river cane by the Five Civilized Tribes after the Spanish “brought” the bamboo flute to the “New World.” Subsequently, river cane flutes then proceeded to be constructed out of cedar wood by the Plains Tribes; hence, its origins within this idea being called Asian – Spanish. However, the Cheyenne Flute Maker said that the tribes already possessed the flute prior to the invasion, and the Spanish may have introduced it to a few. That raises some questions, but the ultimate answer we shall see is one of mystery.

What family of trees were flutes being constructed out of then?  What are some woods that they are being made out of now? After answering those questions along with some general knowledge in that area, we will proceed to the clear and unclear origins of the flute. The only clear thing is that it’s a mystery who specifically invented the first flutes world wide as old as approximately 82,000 years ago.

The juniper family of trees, including cedar, was used to make the earliest flutes. To illustrate, flutes were possibly constructed out of the Arizona cypress, the Utah juniper, or the Rocky Mountain juniper, but definitely out of the eastern red cedar. The length of the branch used was crucial in determining the overall pitch desired in the flute being made. To be more specific, the distance between the holes on the flute determined the musical scale that the flute would play, which was a process of trial and error to achieve the desired order of notes. Generally speaking, longer and larger flutes were lower in pitch, while shorter and smaller flutes were higher in pitch.


Currently, other woods that flutes are being made out of today besides cedar are the following: maple, cherry, apple, pear, teak, walnut, purpleheart, ash, and spruce. This includes making them out of tree branches as opposed to buying a block of the relevant wood at a hardware store. There were cultural uses of the flute.

According to the guide at the Cherokee National Museum, the flute was used in courting. Furthermore, when the man was successful with the flute in his courting purposes in the matriarchal society of the Cherokee Nation, the woman whom he had successfully courted broke the flute in half. She did so to prevent him from playing it for anyone else. For the Cheyenne, it is historically for courting and personal expression. While some tribes have used the flute in ceremony, it’s crucial to state that some have not – all the tribes are different.


What does all this have to do with the fact that soldiers who became sleepy accused the Cheyenne of performing witchcraft when they heard Cheyenne flute music in the Cheyenne  camps? According to the Cheyenne Flute Maker, when the soldiers were in the camps and heard the flute music being played, the soldiers got sleepy and fell asleep. The Doctrine of Discovery states, “to find, discover and investigate whatsoever islands, countries, regions or provinces of heathens and infidels, in whatsoever part of the world placed, which before this time were unknown to all Christians;” and, Henry VII authorized Cabot to “conquer, occupy and possess” any discovered land whatsoever. Let’s think of the question again. What does this have to do with the fact that the soldiers accused the Cheyenne of performing witchcraft? It wouldn’t be the first time in history that fundamentalists associated music virtuosity, originality, and excellence with evil. For example, some thought Paganini played the violin so fast and furious that he was possessed by demons, and some believed Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil in order to play the blues. It’s a very broad answer to answer why the soldiers accused the Cheyenne of witchcraft.

Regardless of the grain of truth that may exist in Spain introducing the Bamboo Flute to very few tribes, Spain wished to conquer the world. Ceremonies, languages, Indigenous musical styles, and ways of life were all affected by the invaders. Ceremonies? Hidden or now lost, yet survived in cases. Languages? Pronunciation or now lost, yet survived in cases. Indigenous musical styles? Musical influence from the “Church” modes. Ways of life? Gone as entire tribal entities when comparing past and present in the United States and in Canada; furthermore, try imagining what the above would now be if the invaders had never come. Indigenous population(s) who have been unmolested worldwide would be an exception, but the former and the latter previously mentioned affected cultural aspects and most likely unaffected cultures would require a dissertation. “Columbus was a disease” I heard it once said, as the speaker related how an entire uncommunicating network of different Indigenous tribes no longer do ceremonies to care for Mother Earth because of the genocide. But I digress even further as I add my thoughts in agreement with this (emphasis mine).


Whether it’s pentatonic mode plus a note, or Dorian mode minus a note, or the six note Raga Mahohari mode, such labels are attempts to contemporize the Native American Flute.

The flute was used for courting within relevant tribal customs before and during the time of being actively hunted; it was used for personal expression; it was used for ceremonial purposes. Why is it that today some want to interpret the notes the earliest flutes may have played in terms of a sliver of music theory – the major scale of which at least 80% of Western music is based?


…most Western music is played in a major key: 97 percent of popular American songs, and 73 percent of classical music is in a major key.

Tunnel vision is being applied to universal sound which is owed to the vibrations of the harmonic series and crosses cultural boundaries as a universal language, but little minds always like things much smaller, don’t they? The scissor tail sings the Lydian dominant scale, except just prior to mating. Then he sings the blues scale.  Witchcraft indeed.


The brains behind Dreams Kaimin is Dr Takuro Endo, a neurologist who has made a science, and a lucrative CD business, out of selecting the right music to induce sleep. He divides it into three categories: melodies that fire the imagination; those that are calming and relaxing; and music that should, within ten minutes, slow the brain down to the point of unconsciousness.

But a fictitious flute spell is not what needs to be broken. How is it that all these different cultures worldwide developed the flute?


Symbols of the American Indian come down to us in many forms.  Some are beaded on elaborate wampum belts, others are found on strips of buffalo hide and more are seen chiseled on stone.  Probably the most reliable, in terms of graphic interpretation, are those found in the Southwest commonly called ‘rock art’. According to some estimates there are over 50,000 “known” stone petroglyphs and pictographs in the Southwest and West alone. Many more probably exist in remote areas or covered by modern civilization.  Certainly, more existed prior to the European invasion.  


Flutes are the earliest known musical instruments. A number of flutes dating to about 40,000 to 35,000 years ago have been found in the Swabian Alb region of Germany. These flutes demonstrate that a developed musical tradition existed from the earliest period of modern human presence in Europe.[1]


Kokopelli, ancient humpbacked flute player, is the Southwest’s most popular icon. Presented here are more than 300 flute player images, including a great many that have never been published. Along with new information about the meaning and origin of Kokopelli, some of it challenges our current understanding of this unmistakable character. Explore the range of the flute player and see how it extends south into Mexico, north into Canada, west into Nevada, and east into the plains of Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma.


Flutes made of bamboo are found in many musical traditions.The Gamelan in Indonesia use them.

Some bamboo flutes include:


The Indian flute, one of the oldest instruments of Indian classical music, appears to have developed independently of the western flute. The Hindu god Krishna is said to be a master of the instrument.

How is it that all those different cultures worldwide developed the flute without communicating? My best and only guess, is they “recognized their tune.”


Shortly after this research, Maman met French physicist Joel Sternheimer, who discovered the vibratory frequency of elementary particles. Long before the “string theory”, Sternheimer was transposing certain molecular structures into musical patterns, creating “the music of the molecules.”

Like Maman’s cellular research, Sternheimer found that if there was a problem in an organic structure, the molecules of that structure did not vibrate, but if they heard the string of notes they recognized as their tune, they began to vibrate again.

There are no clear specific origins of the flute of any culture, except for the stories sacred to that culture and the obvious elements of the instrument’s construction with its cultural usages. What is clear is that each is a unique stylistic interpretation of a universal language, but let the mystery remain of who created it first individually –


or collectively in its birth across the globe.


Some likely have made false claims, but let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken – while maintaining the individual integrity of all.


…The earliest possible evidence of Shamanic activity in the Americas comes from the recently excavated Jones-Miller site in Colorado (Stanford 1979). At this Plano kill site, dating to about 8,000 B.C., bison herds were slaughtered, apparently by driving them between ice-glazed snow banks. A post hole was discerned by the excavator, and near it were found an antler flute, a miniature point, and other objects that might have belonged to a Shaman…

Indians 101: The Totem Pole

( – promoted by navajo)


photo credit: Aaron Huey

The totem pole has become the symbol of the Northwest Coast tribes. The totem pole is an art form unique to the First Nations who live along the Pacific coast in British Columbia, Alaska, and Washington. The totem pole is characterized by its tall, columnar form bearing images of humans, birds, and other animals of the sea and forest.  This is a precise art form which embodies a statement of beliefs about important social realities, including descent, inheritance, power, privilege, and social worth. It is one of the outstanding art forms of the people who inhabited the Northwest Coast long before the arrival of European explorers and settlers.


Shown above are totem poles at the University of British Columbia.  



Prior to the coming of the Europeans, totem poles were found primarily among the Tlingit, Haida, Tshimshian, and Kwakiutl. After iron tools were introduced to the area by the Europeans, the carving of totem poles spread to other nations along the coast. Not all totem poles are the same, in either meaning or structure: there are several basic kinds of totem poles.  

Totem poles are not worshipped, nor are they a part of religious ceremonies. The totem pole is often a family crest. The frontal totem pole is erected against the front of the family house displaying the family crest. This is the totem pole which in historic times was most visible to non-Indian visitors. Inside the house there are interior house poles supporting the beams of the house. Originally the house totem poles were within the house, and when steel tools made it possible to increase their size, were they moved outside in front of the house.


Among the Northwest Coast tribes each house had a specific name. This name was handed down through successive generations and the name reflects the major crests associated with the lineage (family group) associated with the house. These crests, shown in the totem poles, were public displays of the heritage of the house.

Traditionally, the houses were more than simply living space for the members of lineage: they were also the repository of lineage treasures; they served as meeting places; and they were ceremonial spaces. The houses were viewed as living things.

The memorial pole is erected when a high-ranking person dies and it displays the crest figures which are pertinent to his family. Mortuary poles among the Haida contain boxes which hold the remains of the deceased while in other nations the mortuary poles simply mark the location of the grave. With regard to the Tlingit, the totem pole was used for keeping the ashes of the dead. It was often a single figure mounted upon an undecorated pole.

The carvings on the totem poles serve as family lineage crests and illustrate family legends. The figures on the pole represent both characters and events of the mythological age as well as the experiences and accomplishments of known ancestors and living persons.

There are three aspects to the meaning of a totem pole. First, it is a visible, symbolic representation of family history. Second, the family history is publicly recounted and witnessed. When the pole is erected, a respected orator using ceremonial language traces the names of the family and gives the details of the events which are embodied in the images. In some instances the narrative is presented in dramatic form in which clan members in elaborate costumes dance, sing, and act out the events. Finally, the erection of a totem pole is surrounded by appropriate rituals.

The raising of a totem pole is always accompanied by a potlatch with the guests acting as witnesses that the family has the right to erect the pole. The social significance of the totem pole occurred at the time when the pole was dedicated and its story recited. Once the totem pole had been raised and formally dedicated, there was little recognition obtained from efforts to preserve them. Over time, the totem poles were allowed to disintegrate.


It is not possible for a person who is ignorant of the ceremonial context in which the pole was raised to be able to “read” the pole as if it were a glyphic or pictographic presentation of myth or history. While the poles are erected in commemoration of certain events, the poles are not narrative in character, but rather they symbolized the rights validated by the narratives recited at the time of erection.

The figures on a totem pole are arranged from top to bottom, but the sequence of the figures is not an indication of their importance. The concept of “low man on the totem pole” is not an expression of Northwest Coast culture as position on the pole is not an indication of rank.

Shown below is an internal totem pole from a Chinook longhouse on the Columbia River in Washington:


News from Native American Netroots

Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots

Welcome to News from Native American Netroots, a 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.

Canada Endorses the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Canada Endorses the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Government of Canada today formally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in a manner fully consistent with Canada’s Constitution and laws. Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. John McNee, met with the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Joseph Deiss, to advise him of Canada’s official endorsement of the United Nations Declaration.

“We understand and respect the importance of this United Nations Declaration to Indigenous peoples in Canada and worldwide,” said the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-status Indians. “Canada has endorsed the Declaration to further reconcile and strengthen our relationship with Aboriginal peoples in Canada.”

“Canada is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples,” said the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Canada’s active involvement abroad, coupled with its productive partnership with Aboriginal Canadians, is having a real impact in advancing indigenous rights at home and abroad.”

Please see Winter Rabbit’s diary, Still Dream Obama Signs UN Declaration on Indigenous Rightsand his message to President Obama, who has yet to sign this declaration.

Native American tribes seek trade ties with Turkey


Native American tribal leaders and businessmen seeking trade ties with Turkish companies have offered them tax incentives to operate in their territories in the United States, the organizer of the trip said Thursday.

Native American businessmen are increasingly seeking global business partnerships to create jobs and new businesses in their territories. They have held talks with Chinese, Spanish and Australian companies, but their tribal leaders’ trip to Turkey was the first large-scale overseas exploration of new trade ties, they said.

Native American vets unveil special monument

By Victoria Guay

More than 100 Native Americans, veterans and others gathered Saturday at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery to unveil a monument many say is long overdue.

The monument, developed and paid for through the efforts of the New Hampshire Intertribal Native American Council, an organization that meets once a month in Laconia, is in the shape of a drum surrounding by an arch.

Inscribed in glossy black stone are the words “Dedicated to all Native American Veterans/ American and Canadian / Who served to protect/ This land called/ Turtle Island. “

Paying tribute to tradition: Thousands come together for 29th annual Intertribal Gathering

By Matt Drange

Past generations instill a sense of spirit in Cathy Bishop, who smiled during the 29th annual Intertribal Gathering and Elders Dinner on Saturday as she remembered the life of her grandmother.

“Your elders are your source of life,” said Bishop, who has roots in the Hoopa, Yurok, Maidu and Wintun tribes. “You learn a lot from them, so you have to show them great respect.” …..

…Thousands of people turned out for the annual event at Redwood Acres fairgrounds, which honored veterans and anyone 55 and older with a free turkey and salmon dinner. Organized by the Northern California Indian Development Council (NCIDC), the gathering drew Native Americans from dozens of different tribes across the state.  

2010 Native American Music Award Winners

By Sherrill Fulghum

This week has seen a variety of music award presentations. On Wednesday the world of Country Music honoured their best. Thursday night it was Latin Music’s turn to shine with the Latin Grammy Awards. On Friday the Native American community held the twelfth annual Native American Music Awards. The show was dedicated to the troops, veterans, and teen suicide awareness.

Honouring the best of Native Americans and their music the Native American Music Awards was hosted by actor Wes Studi – Magua in the 1992 “Last of the Mohicans” and Eytukan in “Avatar” – from the Seneca Niagara Events Center in Niagara Falls, New York. The NAMMYs honour traditional and contemporary artists in 30 catagories.

Established in 1998, the NAMMYs are the first official awards show dedicated solely to music created by Native Americans. Since its inception, the NAMMYs have presented over 300 awards.

Indian Leaders Gather In NM To Address Challenges


American Indians have won some key victories on Capitol Hill this year and should capitalize on them to start solving some of the problems that have plagued tribal communities for decades, said the leader of the oldest and largest Indian organization in the nation.

Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians, said tribal leaders should keep the momentum going following success such as the Tribal Law and Order Act, recently signed into law by President Barack Obama, and the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, reauthorized as part of the larger health care reform passed by Congress.

Lawsuit Filed Against State Over Mascot


Two men from Mukwonago have filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Public Instruction which ordered the school district to change its Indian nickname and logo.

Mukwonago – Two residents from Mukwonago have filed against the state Department of Public Instruction after it ordered the Mukwonago School District to change its Indian mascot and logo…..

….. Two men from Mukwonago have filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Public Instruction which ordered the school district to change its Indian nickname and logo.

Mukwonago – Two residents from Mukwonago have filed against the state Department of Public Instruction after it ordered the Mukwonago School District to change its Indian mascot and logo.

Meskwaki Nation looks to wind power for the future

Environmental stewardship through taking only what is needed
By Maria Scandale

For the next year, the Meskwaki Nation  is going to be watching the wind. The hope is to join forces with this power, to produce renewable energy in a manner that is friendly to Grandmother Earth. A monitoring tower installed Aug. 25 will confirm whether a wind farm can be built on the nation’s land in Iowa.

The tribe, also commonly known as the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, recently contracted with WPCS International, design-build engineering specialists for communications infrastructure.

“We put up a meteorological tower to measure the wind for the next year. We will analyze the data and after a year we will do a final report,” said James J. Heinz, executive vice president, with WPCS International Inc.’s St. Louis operations. The company is headquartered in Exton, Pa.

Native American POV on SB 1070

By Mari Herreras

At a Nov. 9 discussion at Cornell University on Native American rights, Arizona’s SB 1070 came up as panelists explained the profound impact the legislation has on Native Americans living near the border:

More importantly, he added, since the bill became law, racism has become legitimized, and violence against Native peoples “is more blatant than ever.” Recently, “tribal members out in the desert chopping wood have been handcuffed and beaten because they didn’t have any identification on them,” he said. Although the people were on their tribal land, he noted, “somehow the border patrol saw this as a legitimate way to detain people and abuse people violently.”

Open Internet Needed for All

By Michael J. Copps

Federal Communications Commissioner

…This is not about regulating the Internet.

This is about ensuring that consumers – rather than gatekeeper corporations – maintain control over their online experience.

…I am reminded as I head to the National Congress of American Indians this week in Albuquerque that less than 10 percent of Indian Country has broadband access and 30 percent of Native American households don’t even have access to basic telephone service.

That’s not just unacceptable, it’s a national disgrace. America cannot afford to have a digital divide between haves and have-nots or between those living in big cities and rural areas or tribal lands.

The conversation about bringing broadband to every corner of the country and protecting consumers and their access to the open Internet is an important one – one that should not occur just in Washington, D.C.

Lakota LLEAPs to the Leading Edge of Second Language Education

AScribe Newswire

The revival of the Lakota language opens a new chapter in 2011, as two institutions of higher learning in the Great Plains initiate undergraduate degree majors for teachers of Lakota as a second language-making Lakota the first Native American language to achieve this kind of professional recognition.

Beginning in January 2011, the University of South Dakota (USD) School of Education (Vermillion, SD) and the Sitting Bull College (SBC) Education Department (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Fort Yates, ND) will each offer a two-year Lakota Language Teaching and Learning curriculum, as a degree major for a Bachelor of Arts in Education at USD or Bachelor of Science in Education at SBC.

This two-year curriculum will be taught, administered, and evaluated over the four-year grant period by LLEAP, the Lakota Language Education Action Program. The program was conceived by the Lakota Language Consortium in partnership with USD and SBC. This coordinated program systematically addresses the problem of how to generate high-quality teachers of an important Native American language – teachers who have deepened their own fluency in the language through college-level study, and who understand how a second language is taught and learned.

Obama to hold second Native American conference

President Barack Obama will play host to Native American leaders at a White House conference on Dec. 16.

The president has invited the leaders of each of the 565 federally recognized tribes to the event, the White House announced Monday. It would be Obama’s second conference with American Indians. Obama first met with tribal leaders last November.

Vt. Commission on Native American Affairs to hold public hearings

The Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs has its first meeting Tuesday in Newport. The group is tasked with establishing a process for state recognition of tribes and its holding a series of public forums around the state to get input.

Mike McCune spoke with Luke Willard, chairman of the commission and a member of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe in Orleans County.

Willard explained that federal arts and crafts law prohibits non-federally recognized and non-state recognized tribal members from selling their crafts as native-made or Abenaki-made


photo credit: Aaron Huey

American Indian Heritage

KQED proudly celebrates the richness and diversity of the greater San Francisco Bay Area by commemorating November, American Indian Heritage Month. During the month of November, KQED Public TV 9 schedules a special lineup of programs focused on American Indian themes and issues. These programs are highlighted in a guide along with listings of community resources and local events.

2010 American Indian Heritage Guide (PDF)

2010 American Indian Heroes

Michael Samuel Duran

Indian Health Center of Santa Clara

Nathan Costello

Advocate and Volunteer for the Bay Area American Indian Community

Marvin Paddock

Friendship House Association of American Indians of San Francisco

Aurora Mamea

San Francisco Native American Health Center

Follow link to read full biographies

President Obama Proclaims Day After Thanksgiving “Native American Heritage Day”

“National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month is a time to honor the great contributions that American Indians and Alaska Natives have made. It is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of Native people and it is an opportunity to educate the general public on Native people of yesterday and today,” said Cheryl A. Causley, Chairwoman of the National American Indian Housing Council. “For many Native people, the home is the center of our family and it is where we find the preservation and nurturance of our culture, heritage and Native language. A healthy home translates into healthy families, vibrant cultures, and a clean environment.”

American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month also provides an opportunity for Native people to reflect on their own lifestyles and contributions to their families and communities. The National Indian Health Board believes that a culture of health fortifies quality healthcare thus creating healthy lifestyles and environments.

Tule River Native American Celebration Day

National Native American Heritage Month was celebrated at the Tule River Indian Reservation on Friday at the Eagle Mountain Casino Tent next to Eagle Mountain Casino.

Over 300 people attended the celebration of their Native American heritage. Tule River Tribal Chairman, Ryan Garfield, gave a welcoming speech to start the evening festivities. The Eagle Rock singers and dancers performed on stage, with Johnny Nieto dancing in the colors of Porterville High School, before the Tule River Native Veterans Post 1987 ceremonially posted the Colors.

Danny Franco, Sr. and Dennis Banks
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