More Photos from Rosebud Rez + Propane Drive Update

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy has sent us more photos of our Rosebud rezidents saying


to you all for helping them get through another harsh winter in South Dakota.

One wonderful couple donated $1000 two weeks ago! From my last diary I sent a $700 check collected from our Native American Netroots PayPal link. Many people called St. Francis Energy directly with their credit cards. Sherry said the response has been overwhelming and it appears you are all sharing this outside of Dkos.

Special grand kudos go to Lineatus and her generous Dawn Chorus Birders who raised over $700 for Rosebud. There is currently $1000 in the NAN PayPal account which includes the Dawn Chorus.  I’ll be mailing a very large check STAT.

More photos below and details for you to share so your friends and family can donate also.

Many thanks for the notes of encouragement attached with your donations.

Again, we are helping people who are falling through the cracks with government and tribal assistance.

Everyone here has consented to having their photo taken with the caption THANK YOU DAILY KOS !

Note make shift cardboard skirting around trailer.

Fire truck dealing with a furnace fire



And here’s our intrepid Sherry Cornelius from St. Francis Energy aka lpggirl delivering propane in sub-freezing temperatures.

She knows who needs help.

(Um… no gloves???  I’m such a wimp.)


PLEASE Share with family and friends and ask them to share.


My earlier diaries explain in more detail why and how we are helping:

Here we go again: Blizzard hits Dakotas

Band-Aid for the Lakotas

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

Employment Information
  • Recent reports vary but many point out that the median income on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.
  • The unemployment rate on Pine Ridge is said to be approximately 83-85% and can be higher during the winter months when travel is difficult or often impossible.

    Note that South Dakota boasts of a 4.5% unemployment rate and ranks #2 in the Nation.
  • According to 2006 resources, about 97% of the population lives below Federal poverty levels.
  • There is little industry, technology, or commercial infrastructure on the Reservation to provide employment.
  • Rapid City, South Dakota is the nearest town of size (population approximately 57,700) for those who can travel to find work.  It is located 120 miles from the Reservation.  The nearest large city to Pine Ridge is Denver, Colorado located some 350 miles away.

We have bypassed the middlemen; the 501c3s, the red-taped strangled Tribal Councils and the pathetic Federal LIHEAP program which runs out three weeks into winter.

We’ve set up relationships with the propane companies that service Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservation. The kind operators/owners know who needs help and can’t get it from their Tribal, State or Federal government.

If you live out of the country please use our PayPal link at Native American Netroots, the donate button is in the upper right of the page.

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


The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday 8-5pm MST

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

NOT tax deductible

Northern Plains Indian Spirituality

( – promoted by navajo)

Many of the stereotypical images of Indians that abound in movies and popular books were inspired by the Indian nations of the Northern Plains: these are the horse-mounted buffalo hunters that roamed the plains of Montana, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Dakotas, and Wyoming during the nineteenth century. The popular images of the Northern Plains spirituality often focus on features such as the Sun Dance and the Vision Quest without any understanding of the underlying spiritual principles.

Northern Plains Indian spirituality tended to be somewhat different than the spirituality expressed in Christianity. The Crow warrior Two Leggings said:

“When the Black Robes [Jesuits] came to us they talked about the devil but we could not find him in the things we knew. We think that everything is good and bad and that no person or thing is all good or all bad.”

In the Crow language, the word alachiwakiia/ is often used for religion, but the word translates as “one’s own way” and may interpreted as “it’s up to you!” The experiences and manifestations of the power that enables life are personal.

Spirituality among the Northern Plains tribes was traditionally very personal. There was generally no universally acknowledged set of dogmas. Nor was there any ecclesiastical organization that handed down laws for the guidance of the religious consciousness. No one insisted that a person should believe in a particular creation myth or subscribe to some accepted concept of the hereafter.

As with tribes in other culture areas, the Indian nations of the Northern Plains did not traditionally separate their spiritual life from their daily life. The natural world and the supernatural world were not seen as distinct entities but as integrated into the people’s view of the universe. All things are alive-and therefore usually spoken of as “people.” This includes the animal-people, the plant-people, and forces such as streams, thunder, wind, sun, rocks, and so on.

Throughout their lives, the Indian people of the Northern Plains would carry on a dialogue with spiritual patrons who would guide their daily decisions through instructions given in dreams. In addition, these spiritual patrons could be summoned with special talismans (often included in their medicine bundles) and songs when danger was near or when help was needed in curing or in finding buffalo.

The term “medicine man” and “medicine woman” are usually used today to indicate a person who has some special spiritual power. Traditionally, these people treated the sick, conducted ceremonies, and spoke of the future. These medicine people were taught by supernatural entities or spirits who appeared to them in dreams or visions. These visits were often prompted by a prolonged fast and by the many sacrifices made to the spirits.  There were many ways of practicing these healing powers and therefore each man and woman conducted ceremonies differently and according to the way they had been instructed in their visions.

There are many important elements which define the traditional spirituality of the Northern Plains Indians. These elements include the sacred pipe, the sweat lodge, smudging, and paint.

The Sacred Pipe:

Smoking the pipe is a way of making prayers and communications to the spirits visible. The pipe is incorporated into almost all Plains Indian ceremonials. Some pipes are owned or held by individuals, while others are a part of societal or tribal bundles. The pipe symbolized peaceful intent, truthfulness, and mutual obligation.

Some of the Northern Plains tribes had tribal pipes, pipes which were used to spiritually aid the tribe. Among the Arapaho, for example, their Flat Pipe was viewed as a sacred object which was held in the highest respect. The keeper of the Flat Pipe was responsible for the care of the pipe and for praying daily for the well-being of the tribe. The keeper also assisted individuals who had vowed to pray through personal sacrifice to the pipe.

White Buffalo Woman gave the sacred pipe to the Lakota with precise instructions on how to use the pipe as an agent of prayer and peace. She told the Lakota that those who fought each other within the tribe must be friends.

While most of the northern Plains tribes used stone pipes with a T-shaped stone bowl, the Crow most frequently used straight tubular stone bowls. Among the Mandan, the village Medicine Pipe was crafted out of clay with a large center bowl and four pipe stems. It allows four medicine people to smoke together.

The Sweat Lodge:

The sweat lodge is the oldest known ritual among the Northern Plains tribes. It precedes most religious ceremonies and is often conducted as a ceremony in its own right. In ceremonial context, the sweat lodge functions to purify the participants.


The smoke of sage, sweetgrass, and other plants is often used for purification. Smudging makes it possible to see and communicate directly with the spirits. Smudging is a part of almost all spiritual activities. Among many of the tribes, smudging with sweetgrass (Savastana odorata) is a universal component for all ceremonies. The smoke is a purifying agent, a means of dispelling the everyday atmosphere and substituting a pleasant odor for the spirits.


While non-Indians sometimes call the Indian use of paint as “war paint”, the painting of the body, face, and hands is an important part of many ceremonies which are not related to war. According to Blackfoot elder Long Standing Bear Chief:

“We believe that the Creator gave paint as one of four gifts to the human child of this Great Holy Being. Paint was given to use as a means of painting a person in difficulty because they were being marked for special recognition as being a person of the Source of Life’s making.”

Among the Gros Ventre, people have traditionally painted their faces with a special design in red paint. This symbolizes creation and their special relationship with the Great Mystery.  

Northwest Coast Indian Names

( – promoted by navajo)

The Indian nations along the Northwest Coast area of Washington, British Columbia, and Washington were very different than other Indian nations. Life in these Indian nations centered on the sea and its abundant resources. Unlike the Indian nations in other areas, the social life among the Northwest Coast Indians was based on rank and power. Names often reflect this hierarchical organization.

Names are extremely important to the people of the Northwest Coast and a set of names brings with it a social and cultural reality. When one inherits a certain name, one inherits the status that accompanies the name. The set of names within a village was constant, with a flow of living human beings running continually through it, with people occupying the names during their lifetimes. Names are important family property and they are used only on special occasions.  

Names were also associated with social stratification and wealth. The right to use a particular name was a form of wealth: ancestral tribal names were inherited. The right to use any name was determined by descent.

Among the Tlingit, a male child was traditionally given a name at birth by his maternal uncle. He would keep this personal name throughout his life. However, when a nephew replaced his uncle, he was then given an honorific clan name. This is a name which was considered sacred and which was used only on ceremonial occasions. These names are associated with the totem animals and their symbols.

At puberty, Tshimshian children were given the first of a series of adult names which were selected from names belonging to the mother’s house. The names often had a reference to the father’s crest.

Among the Nuu-chah-nulth, a newborn was traditionally given a baby name. If the child was a boy, then the name would come from the father’s side, and if it was a girl, then it would come from the mother’s side. In some instances, the newborn might also be given a song as well.  

Among the Bella Coola, each name must have originated in connection with an important event. Soon after birth, a name would be bestowed on the child. The name selected for the child must: (1) come from the origin stories of one of the parents’ families, and (2) must not be in use by another family member. While it is possible for two people to have the same name, the names must come from different origins.

Bella Coola names can be transferred from one person to another. A person may have more than one name and each name is associated with certain rights and traditions. If a person transfers a name while still alive, the person gives up all claims to that name. Names can be transferred from a man to a woman and vice versa. At death, a person’s name, or names, could be transmitted to a relative. It was considered important that the owner of a name should know when, by whom, and for what reason the name was first created.

It is not only the human members of the Bella Coola family who are given ancestral names, but also dogs. The first ancestral group had dogs, and these animals had names. Ever since that time their descendants would apply these designations to their own dogs.  As with humans, no two dogs can be given the same name at the same time.

Among the Coast Salish, the child’s first name, usually given when the child began to walk, was of little significance. Names, which were considered to be family property, were given at a potlatch or feast. While a new name could be acquired at any time, many would take a new name after marriage.

Among the Kwakwaka’wakw, when children were born they were given the name of the place where they were born.  They received their first tribal name at ten months of age. At this time, the baby’s hair was symbolically cut and ceremonies were held to ensure that babies would be safe. When the child was 10 to 12 years old, a third name was obtained. In obtaining this third name, a number of small presents, such as shirts or blankets, would be distributed among the clan or village.

Among the Heiltsuk, a child traditionally received its first name at a potlatch given in its honor. At this time, the chief would dance with the child, holding it aloft to introduce the child and create a place for it within the community. The people who witnessed this ceremony were asked to support the child as it grew up. When the child was older, a second name would be given and the baby name might be passed on to a new child. When a person assumed adult responsibilities and began to contribute to the society, a third name might be given.  

Traditional Cherokee Government

( – promoted by navajo)

For many centuries the traditional Cherokee tribal government-a government focused on the town-had served the people well. It was not until the arrival of the Europeans with their strange notions of hierarchical governments and their inability to understand Indian nations that the traditional government began to break down.

The primary unit of government among the Cherokee was the town. Each town-perhaps 50 at the time of first European contact-was autonomous. The government of each town was not tied to the government of other towns.  

The Cherokee towns were loosely affiliated into three groups: (1) the Lower Towns on the headwaters of the Savannah River (including the towns of Keowee and Estatoe), (2) the Middle Towns on the headwaters of the Little Tennessee River (including Etchoe, Stecoe), and (3) the Upper Towns (Overhill and Valley) on the Lower Little Tennessee River and the headwater of the Hiwassee River (including Settico and Tellico).

Each Cherokee village had two governments: a white government which governed when the village was at peace, and a red government which governed during times of war. The white government included the chief who was given the title Beloved Man, the chief’s advisor, counselors from each clan, a council of elders, a speaker, messengers, and ceremonial officers. The red government included the Great War Chief, the Great War Chief’s Second, seven war counselors, a War Woman, the Chief War Speaker, messengers, ceremonial officers, and scouts. The fate of captives and war prisoners was decided by the War Woman.

The Cherokee Peace Chief was in charge of domestic issues and the ceremonial life of the town. The War Chief dealt with matters involving outsiders: not just war, but negotiations, alliances, trade, and other external matters. The colonial governments and the United States dealt almost exclusively with the War Chiefs and were often unaware of the existence of Peace Chiefs.

Each Cherokee town had a council which was an assembly of all men and women. The council met nightly in the council house which was the largest structure in the town. In the seven-sided council house people would sit with their clans, with the leaders sitting near the center. Within the council house no weapons were permitted.

Among the Cherokee, all were able to participate in the councils. The chiefs had an advisory role and their power lay in their ability to persuade through oratory. Unlike the Europeans, there was no king or prince who had coercive authority. After the chiefs spoke, each person had an opportunity to speak. Issues were discussed until consensus was reached. There was an emphasis on deliberation, on the process of reaching consensus. The council did not pass laws or regulate conduct.

With regard to the protocol of speaking and listening in the council meetings, it would have been offensive for any person to interrupt another. The focus was on gaining consensus, on listening to all opinions: it was an attempt to avoid controversy. When individuals realized that they did not agree with the majority opinion, they would often withdraw so that they would not disrupt the ability of the council to achieve consensus.

Women were important in Cherokee government because of their leadership within the matrilineal clan system. In the war council, women were present and were consulted with regard to strategy. The war women or Pretty Women had to be present at every war council. The war women were women who had themselves won previous honors in wars and they were the mothers of warriors. Within the war councils, the women played a crucial role.

One of the overriding principles in Cherokee culture that impacted traditional Cherokee government was the concept of egalitarianism. The Cherokee viewed all people as equal and from this worldview the idea of coercive government is reprehensible. Thus, leaders and the council could not force conformity on the people: they could only attempt to persuade everyone that certain actions would be for the common good.  

Iroquois Spirituality

( – promoted by navajo)

Long before the Europeans arrived on this continent there was born to the Huron people a man who had a vision of bringing peace to his people. In his vision he saw a great pine tree. The roots of this tree were five powerful nations. From these roots, the tree grew so high that its tip pierced through the sky and on top there was an eagle watching to see that none of the nations broke the peace among them. This Peacemaker was a man named Deganawida (also spelled Deganawidah).  

The Iroquois Nations:

According to oral tradition, Deganawida named each of the allied nations, choosing a place as the distinguishing feature of nationality:

Seneca: the big hill people, or the people of the big mountain

Cayuga: the people at the landing, in reference to portaging a canoe

Mohawk: the people of the flint, in reference to the flint quarries in their territory

Onondaga: the people of the hill, in reference to the hill where a woman long ago had appeared to give the people corn, beans, squash, and tobacco

Oneida: the people of the standing stone, in reference to the supernatural stone which followed them

Deganawida’s vision, articulated through the great Mohawk orator Hiawatha, united five Iroquois-speaking nations – the Seneca, the Cayuga, the Onondaga, the Oneida, and the Mohawk- into the League of Five Nations. Later the Tuscarora would join them to form the League of Six Nations. The League is also called the Iroquois Confederacy. They refer to themselves as Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse).

While the designation “Iroquois” is often used to refer to the Five or Six Nations, it should be remembered that not all Iroquois-speaking nations in the Northeast were members of the League. Deganawida’s own nation – the Huron – did not join.

Iroquois Spirituality:

The Iroquois tribes, like many other Indian cultures, viewed themselves as a part of nature: neither subordinate to it nor in dominion over it. Seneca archaeologist Arthur Caswell Parker, in his biography of Red Jacket, writes:

“Life was like water; it flowed on like a river and then entered a great sea and mingled in a vast pool of life. Old age was like a tree whose branches had been broken by storms and whose trunk had become weather-beaten and decayed. Good words were like flowers that bloomed and bore seed that lived on after the flowers had withered.”

In maintaining harmony with the world, individuals had guardian spirits to aid them. Everyone-especially young men-found a special guardian spirit at puberty. Great emphasis was given to individual contact with the spirit world. To obtain spiritual aid, people would fast and/or give gifts of tobacco to the spirits. Humans share the natural world with spirit powers and it is important to communicate with these spirit powers.

Everything has a soul. This includes the plants, the animals, the lakes, the rivers, the rocks, and the forces of nature. All things have power to communicate their will and to influence human experience to some degree. In a generalized form, spiritual power is called orenda.

One of the most important aspects of Iroquois spirituality is the dream. Writing in 1668 about the Seneca, the Jesuit missionary Father Fremin observed:

“The Iroquois have, properly speaking, only a single Divinity-the dream. To it they render their submission and follow all its orders with the utmost exactness.”

With regard to spiritual beliefs, the Iroquois believed that all living things were filled with an essence called orenda. Dreams were the main form of contact between orenda and human beings. Individuals would fast and pray to obtain a vision. Dreams expressed the desires of the most inner realm of the soul. The fulfillment of a dream was absolutely essential.

As with tribes in other culture areas, the Iroquois also had a vision quest. Young people were expected at puberty to engage in the vision quest in order to seek out a personal guardian spirit. This guardian spirit was usually associated with the person’s new and sacred name.

Dreams could also tell of the future, providing advice on what to do and not do. Dreams were taken into account at council meetings. In addition, it was common for trade, hunting, fishing, and war expeditions to be organized in response to a dream.

In mid-winter, the Iroquois would hold a dream festival. During this time, old fires would be put out and new fires would be lighted.

Among the Huron, each person has two souls: one of these souls animates the body and one soul extends beyond physical activities. In sleep, one soul communicates with spirits and with other human souls. When this soul returns to the body, dreams are the way in which the soul’s experiences are communicated. It was essential to reenact these dream adventures in order to unify the two souls and make each person whole again. The failure to do this would result in serious illness which could impact the entire village.  

Northern Plains Indians Names

( – promoted by navajo)

Traditionally men and women among the tribes of the Northern Plains usually carried several names during the course of their lives. Each child would be given a name shortly after birth. As the child grew older and began to acquire unique personal characteristics, another name might be given which reflected these characteristics. Upon entering adulthood, another name was often given which might reflect specific deeds of valor or visions.

The naming customs among the different tribes varied a great deal. Some of these are discussed below.  


Among the Blackfoot, a child would be given a personal name by the mother at the time of birth. Later, the father would arrange with an older relative or an important person in the camp to have the child officially named. A boy would be given his first name in a sweatlodge ceremony when he was a few weeks old. While boys would later acquire new names, girls would retain their names throughout their lives.  

There was also etiquette with regard to asking people their names. Among the Blackfoot, it was considered rude to ask someone their name when in the company of other people. It was felt that this reflected poorly upon the person and made them feel ashamed.


Assiniboine babies received a name about 3-4 weeks after birth. The name would usually be given by a successful warrior or a holy man. Among the Assiniboine, girls’ names were generally kept throughout life, but young men frequently received new names in recognition of their first brave deed. The name of a deceased grandfather or other male relative might be given to a warrior who had counted coup many times.

Sarcee (Sarsi):

Among the Sarcee, boys would be given a derogatory name in adolescence and then encouraged to complete a brave deed that would entitle him to receive a man’s name. This man’s name was usually a name which had been owned by a deceased relative.


Arapaho parents would ask an elder to choose a name for their child. This name and the accompanying prayers by the elders would help to ensure the child’s future success.

Missouri River Tribes:

Among the Missouri River village tribes (Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara), an infant was traditionally first given a name within ten days after birth. If a child died without being named, it would return to a spirit home to wait for an opportunity to be born again.  

Among the Hidatsa, the first child was traditionally born in the mother’s lodge and was named by the maternal grandfather. The name given to the newborn was usually one associated with the grandfather’s medicine bundle. During the naming ceremony, the child would be introduced to the father’s clan – the Hidatsa are matrilineal which means that the child would belong to the mother’s clan – and the spirit associated with the grandfather’s medicine bundle would be asked to bless the child.

Among the Arikara, children were named shortly after birth by an older relative or by the mid-wife. This name might come from names associated with the family’s medicine bundle or from the midwife’s medicine.  


Among the Crow, a child was named four days after birth by a respected elder. The elder would paint the baby’s face, then lift the baby four times before giving the name. The baby and the mother would be smudged with bear root. Later in life, a person’s name might be changed to reflect a vision, a noteworthy battle exploit, or some personal peculiarity. Names were considered personal property, the same as song and paintings. Men would change their names to call attention to war deeds.

For the Crow, words have power and thus a name has power. Thus, the name might be bestowed upon a child as an indication of the kind of life or a particular ability desired for that child.


Shortly after the birth of a Cree child, its parents would host a naming feast. An elder-usually a male for a male child and a female for a female child-with recognized spiritual powers would be asked to give the child a name. After singing a song, the elder would take the child and pronounce its name. The name was usually derived from one of the elder’s visions. The infant would then be passed from arm to arm around the lodge. Each person would take the baby, address it by name, and speak a wish for its future happiness.

As with many other tribes, it was (often still is) considered impolite to ask someone their name. The Cree feel that if one mentions one’s own name, the spiritual guardians of the name will be offended.


There was no infant naming ceremony among the Cheyenne and nicknames for babies were used for several years. At the age of five or six, a child’s ears would be ceremonially pierced and at this time the child might be given a formal name which was selected by the father’s oldest sister from names on the father’s side of the family. The piercing of ears is a symbolic way of opening the mind to learning, understanding, discipline, and knowledge.


Regarding Sioux names, the Sioux writer and physician Charles Eastman wrote:

“Indian names were either characteristic nicknames given in a playful spirit, deed names, or such as have a religious and symbolic meaning.”

Eastman also reported:

“Names of any dignity or importance must be conferred by the old men, and especially so if they have any spiritual significance.”

Among the Lakota Sioux, children would traditionally have their ears pierced during the Sun Dance. At this time, a new name would be given to the child.  

The Sioux leader Gall was initially given the name Little Cub Bear when his mother noticed that he resembled a grizzly cub in constant motion. Later, when he was seen eating the gallbladder of a freshly killed buffalo, he was given the name Gall. He was also known as The-Man-That-Goes-in-the-Middle and Walks-in-Red-Clothing (sometimes translated as Red Walker).  

Action: LONGEST WALK 3 (Reversing Diabetes)

( – promoted by navajo)

Brenda Golden made a comment in her interview on Red Town Radio with Chris Francisco (Navajo), national coordinator of the Longest Walk III, a couple months ago. “It’ll be hard to get people involved. It’s not something that makes people mad like racism (paraphrasing).” So here’s an email I got with updated links for the fundraiser. After that, I hope I don’t make anyone mad.

I’m still trying to help the LWNR. Do you think you might find time to update those sites with a link to the new Longest Walk 3 – Northern Route?

Here is the link:…

We have several online fund raisers now and ALL of the funds will be used to fund the Northern Route.

Here are the links:

Facebook PayPal Fund Raiser:…

Cafepress on-line store:

ProvHerbials fund raiser:…

Thank you! Have an awesome week!

I know what Brenda meant from my perspective; it’s harder to get involved in something we can change – ourselves.

Obama may’ve endorsed the United Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples, but it’s the same ‘ol same ‘ol.

Summary: The U.S. endorsement of UNDRIP means “business as usual” for Native Americans

The bottom line result of the Obama Administration’s so-called “change” in position is really no change at all. At best, it is a “conditional” endorsement of UNDRIP, one which essentially allows the United States to ignore any provision of UNDRIP under any circumstance which would require a substantive change in US law or policy. Its greatest achievement does not benefit the indigenous peoples of the United States. Rather, it allows the United States to come in from the cold spotlight under which it has shivered since September 2007 as the last of the four pariah nations to have opposed UNDRIP without having to commit to changing any of its laws or policies that are detrimental to the indigenous peoples that live within its borders. At best, the Administration’s “change in position” allowing the United States to endorse UNDRIP entirely misses the point. At worst, it is a cynical move in the game of international politics that signifies nothing for the indigenous peoples of this country but “business as usual.”

As always, the burden of bringing about real change, “change you can believe in” will fall upon the native nations, tribes and bands of this country. No messianic figure, much less President Obama, is going to announce legislative and policy changes that will restore or secure the federal government’s recognition of our sovereignty and our concomitant right to freely determine our political status and freely pursue our economic, social and cultural development. If we want a brighter future for us and our children, a future filled with freedom to choose and opportunity to achieve, we shall have to seize it with our own hands. It will not be given to us. We shall have to do the hard work over the long haul.

But I had hoped otherwise.

What else isn’t new?

Now a group of scientists is adding another explanation for the most over-determined event in history: climate change. Writing in the journal Science, the experts claim that Rome’s Third Century Crisis — a period of political and economic unrest that inaugurated the empire’s slow decline — coincided with “distinct drying” recorded in tree rings, which may have rendered European agriculture less productive. Not just that — the appearance of the Plague in Western Europe correlates with a wet period, which may have provided conditions favorable for spreading the disease. So, the scientists warn, don’t underestimate the possible risks associated with contemporary climate change.

Some conservative reactions have been dismissive; Weasel Zippers called the scientists’ claims the “latest global warming scare tactic.”

But they shouldn’t be so quick.

What else isn’t new, is the energy crisis in context of most the remaining natural resources being on Indigenous Lands, the country’s overall unwillingness to go to a green economy, a new set of nuts in Congress who pat themselves on the backs for being able to read a word with five syllables, and healthier foods in any bargain supermarket besides Twinkies.

Bargain supermarkets have beef jerky and canned vegetables, but give me a Hostess Cupcake any day. I’d rather have something that lasts five minutes than something like a carton of eggs that’d last me 4 days for the same amount of money. And beans are cheap, but they give me gas. Besides, I hate cooking and God made things I like bad for me. But look.

My family needs me and sure I’d have more energy if I’d eat healthy. It’s like my drummer friend back home I played with for years said once about his marriage, “It gets to where – either I’m going to eat this bowl of ice cream or I’m going to f-k my wife.” He got divorced. Must’ve been good ice cream. But there’s one truth in all this “advocating for major changes in our eating habits, while promoting beneficial exercise programs. Our goal will be to REVERSE DIABETES AND RAISE THE CONSCIOUS OF AMERICA THAT WE MUST HALT THE WORST DIET IN THE WORLD!”

You let yourself down and it’s really beyond your control, you let your family down. We take better care of our cars, if we can afford to, than we take care of ourselves. And we wouldn’t put crap in the gas tank and expect our car to run.

So do we take care of ourselves or just kiss it all goodbye?

No messianic figure, much less President Obama, is going to announce legislative and policy changes that will restore or secure the federal government’s recognition of our sovereignty and our concomitant right to freely determine our political status and freely pursue our economic, social and cultural development. If we want a brighter future for us and our children, a future filled with freedom to choose and opportunity to achieve, we shall have to seize it with our own hands. It will not be given to us. We shall have to do the hard work over the long haul.

By the way, my drummer friend back home who said “It gets to where – either I’m going to eat this bowl of ice cream or I’m going to f-k my wife” died a few years ago. Healthy dieting would’ve helped him live longer, but who needs love when you can have ice cream.

Ancient America: Adena

( – promoted by navajo)

About 3,000 years ago, the Indian people living in the Ohio River valley in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky began building burial mounds. Archaeologists would later call these people Adena and define this cultural tradition by its burial mounds, its public structures, and the development of long-distance trade. The Adena people often built their mounds in prominent places. Archaeologists feel that their mounds served as important landmarks for nearby dispersed populations.

Adena Mounta 1

Adena sites include large earthworks in which ridges of earth are thrown up in circles, squares, pentagons, and sometimes irregular shapes. These can be as large as 328 feet in diameter. One of the most characteristic Adena earthworks is the sacred circle or sacred enclosure. While most of these enclosures are circular, they were also constructed  in square, rectangular, elliptical, crescentic, panduriform, or hexagonal forms.

The most famous Adena mound is the Serpent Mound located on Brush Creek near Peebles, Ohio. While the distance from the snake’s head to its tail is about 800 feet, the curving snake itself is 1,300 linear feet. The earthwork forming this effigy was more than four feet high and about 20 feet in width. The mouth of the snake is wide open. Within the mouth is an oval-shaped object. The snake’s tail is wound into a triple coil. Some people feel that the object in the snake’s mouth represents the sun, since there is a Native American legend that the sun was once swallowed by a snake.

The Adena mounds contain many graves and the Adena seem to have had an almost obsessive preoccupation with honoring the dead. Adena people intentionally built their burial mounds away from their residences and at the boundaries of neighboring communities. They would return to the same mounds year after year to bury their dead and to pay homage to their ancestors.

Adena Mound 2

The Adena people built circular houses which ranged from 18 to 60 feet in diameter. The posts for the house walls were angled outward so that water did pool at the base of the walls. The roofs were cone-shaped and covered with bark. In many cases, the central portion of the house would be left without a roof forming an open central courtyard.

Adena material culture includes stone and bone tools, copper beads, and distinctive tubular pipes. They also carved stone tablets with intricate zoomorphic designs or curvilinear designs which were buried with the dead. The carvings were done in deep relief. These tablets were usually 4 or 5 inches by 3 or 4 inches and about a half inch think. Traces of pigment have been found on some of these stones: they may have been used to stamp designs upon some flat surface, perhaps bark cloth or deerskin. Some archaeologists have suggested that the designs stamped on skin could have been used as outlines for tattoos.

The Adena people also fashioned bracelets from copper. The bracelets were usually made from a nearly circular rod which was then bent into an elliptical form with its free ends nearly touching. The bracelets were made from a single nugget of native copper. To make the bracelet, the copper nugget was hammered into a thin sheet and then rolled into a cylinder. This cylinder was then bent to form the bracelet. In addition to copper bracelets, the Adena people also made copper rings in a similar fashion.

Adena people used the fine-grained siltstone which is found in the area for making pipes. Siltstone was an excellent material for making pipes since it was easily drilled and carved. It also had a nice sheen when polished. They made both tubular pipes and platform pipes. The platform pipes often have a sculpture, usually an animal, at one end.

While the Adena people hunted a variety of game animals, they also gathered and cultivated a number of plants including sunflower, marsh elder, goosefoot, maygrass, pigweed, squash, and barley.

Adena people had cranial deformation caused by the use of the cradleboard during infancy. On the average, Adena males were 5’6″ tall and the females were 5’2 ½” tall

Archaeologists have documented more than 500 Adena sites in a geographic area from Ohio to the Atlantic coast. About 200 BCE, the Hopewell culture began to replace the Adena culture.  

Moor’s Indian Charity School

( – promoted by navajo)

Many Christian missionaries, both Protestant and Catholic, have wrestled with the problem of how best to convert the “pagan” Indians. In 1754, Eleazar Wheelock felt that Indian missionaries could be supported for about half the cost of English missionaries; they spoke the Indian language; and they were accustomed to Indian lifestyles. Wheelock  wrote:

“Indian missionaries may be supposed better to understand the tempers and customs of Indians, and more readily conform to them in a thousand things than the English can; and in things wherein the nonconformity of the English may cause disgust, and be construed as the fruit of pride, and an evidence and expression of their scorn and disrespect.”

In order to create the Indian missionaries needed for this effort, Eleazar Wheelock founded Moor’s Indian Charity School in Lebanon, Connecticut. The school was named for its chief benefactor, Joshua Moor, who donated a house and two acres of land.  


While some of the inspiration for the school had come from Wheelock’s experience in tutoring a Mohegan named Samson Occom from 1743 to 1748, Wheelock felt that the plan for the school was divinely inspired.

The Indian boys who attended the school were separated from their own culture and were given a classical education in Latin and Greek. Looking at the school through the lens of British standards, it appeared to be a sound approach to education. From an Indian viewpoint, however, it was a form of cultural genocide.

The Indian boys began each day with prayer and catechism before dawn. This was followed by formal instruction in Greek and Latin. The Indian boys were required to work on the school’s farm half of the day-a task classified as “husbandry”. Most of the Indian students showed little interest in farm chores.

Indian girls attended academic classes only one day a week. The rest of the time they were delegated to non-Indian households where they worked as servants (some would say that they are slaves). Like other females in British New England, they were taught subjects that would assist their husbands’ needs. Wheelock, like other missionaries, educators, and English leaders of this era, was convinced that the presence of Indian girls at the school would result in future wifely companionship for the Indian missionary husbands.

Initially, recruitment of students was limited to New England and New Jersey since the war between the French and the English (sometimes called the French and Indian War, 1754-1763) interfered with recruitment in other areas. Two Delaware boys, John Pumshire and Jacob Woolley, were the first two students at the school. They were later joined by Pequot, Mohegan, and Montauk students.

Beginning in 1761, Wheelock was able to recruit students from the Iroquois in New York. At the same time, the first two Indian girls enrolled: Amy Johnson, a Mohegan and Miriam Storrs, a Delaware.

Probably the most famous student at Moor’s Indian Charity School was the Mohawk Joseph Brant. In 1761, three young Mohawk men-Joseph Brant, Negyes, and Center-were sent to the school. All of the Mohawk kept their horses ready so that they could flee back to their own country. Center and Negyes soon returned home, but Brant stayed on to improve his written Mohawk and to learn spoken and written English.

Joseph Brant, whose Mohawk name was Thayendenegea, was the son of Aroghyiadecker (Nickus Brant), the grandson of Sagayeenquarashtow (one of the sachems who visited Queen Anne’s court at the beginning of the century), and the brother of Molly Brant, the consort of Sir William Johnson, the British Indian superintendent.

Students from the school sometimes helped in missionary efforts. For example, in 1761, David Fowler (Montauk), who was a student at Moor’s Indian Charity School, accompanied his brother-in-law, the Mohegan Christian missionary Samson Occom on a visit to the Oneida. They visited the Oneida on behalf of the Presbyterian missionary organization, the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. The Oneida were receptive to a missionary and a school and they presented Occom with a wampum belt to bind them together in love and friendship.  Occom told the Oneida that they were to wear their hair long, in the English style, and that they were not to wear Indian ornaments.

In 1765, the first students from Moor’s Indian Charity School were ready for examination by the Connecticut Board of Correspondents, one of several such colonial boards that represented the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. A total of eleven students graduated, with three Indian boys becoming schoolmasters to the Iroquois and six serving as teaching assistants.

In 1768, Moor’s Indian Charity School closed. About 50 Indian students had studied at the school and 15 had returned to their homes as missionaries, schoolmasters, or assistants to non-Indian ministers. Overall, Moor’s Charity School made no lasting evangelistic mark.

By the mid 1760s, Eleazar Wheelock had realized that his plan of sending missionaries to the Indian homelands to educate and convert Indians was not working as planned. He began to look for new directions in which to move. In 1769, he received a charter for a new school, one which would be named for William, second Earl of Dartmouth. Wheelock was appointed Dartmouth College’s first president.  

The Cayuse Indian War

( – promoted by navajo)

In 1847, the traditional cultural values and practices of American Indians in the Plateau Area of Washington and Oregon collided violently with the cultural imperialism of Protestant missionaries. As a result, both Indian and non-Indian people were executed according to Indian and non-Indian cultural values. This clash of cultures is commonly called the Cayuse Indian War.  

Background: The Missions

In 1836 Marcus Whitman established a Presbyterian mission among the Cayuse in Oregon. The purpose of the mission, like other Protestant missions of this era, was to convert the savage Cayuse to Christianity and to civilize them by requiring them to live in the American fashion.

Like many other missionaries of this era, the Whitmans were intolerant of Indian culture and believed it to be basically evil and under the influence of Satan. They fanatically demanded total conversion to Presbyterian ways-that is, to be a Presbyterian meant wearing American style clothing, living in a rectangular house, eating food in European style and prepared to European taste. The Indians viewed the Whitmans as arrogant. They felt that the paternalism of Marcus Whitman was brusque and judgmental. They saw Narcissa Whitman  as being cold, self-centered, and aloof. The Whitmans divided Indians into two groups: the devout (meaning Christian according to their definition of Christian) and the heathen. They often failed to understand that there were cultural differences between the different tribes.

The Presbyterian missionaries sought to introduce European medical practices, partially to discredit the Indian medicine people and partially to ingratiate themselves with the Indian people.

The Attack:

In Cayuse culture, as in many other Indian cultures, there was a tradition that if a medicine man’s patient should die while under the care of the medicine man, the patient’s relatives had a right to seek revenge by killing the medicine man. The Whitmans, like other missionaries, had proclaimed themselves as medicine people when they introduced their medical practices as a way of undermining the tribal healers.

Cayuse children enrolled at Whitmans’ mission school came down with the measles in 1847 and started an epidemic. Within two months about half of the Cayuse died from measles or from the accompanying dysentery. The Cayuse blamed the missionaries. Chief Tilokaikt and a warrior named Tomahas killed missionary Marcus Whitman and 11 other Americans.

From a Cayuse perspective, there was no question of their right to dispose of Dr. Whitman. First, patients had died under his care. More importantly, they felt that he had deliberately withheld the cure from his Cayuse patients. They reasoned that Whitman was an American healer and that measles was an American disease and therefore he would know the cure for the disease. It was felt, therefore, that he was killing Indians through an application of evil spells. As was the accepted cultural practice of the Plateau area tribes, it was necessary to protect the people from this evil by killing the practitioner.

A total of 14 people were killed in the attack and 53 others, primarily women and children, were taken captive.

The Aftermath:

In response to the Whitman massacre, a volunteer army was organized under the leadership of Reverend Cornelius Gilliam, a prominent fire-and-brimstone preacher. Gilliam was a bigoted Baptist minister who had helped chase the Mormons from Missouri. He was an avowed Indian hater who believed that all Indians should be exterminated. He assumed the rank of Colonel in the newly formed militia.

Among the American settlers in the area, there were some strong feelings that the Catholic missionaries had encouraged the Cayuse attack against the Protestant missionaries. In response to the intense anti-Catholic feelings among the Americans, there were many in the volunteer army who felt that they should first attack the Catholic missions. Gilliam also believed that Catholics had conspired to incite the Cayuses.

Many Americans also thought that the Hudson’s Bay Company had had a hand in the massacre, if not directly then by not warning the Whitmans of the Indians’ hostility. While this was a charge without foundation, it was a reflection of the anti-British sentiment among the American settlers.

The peace commission appointed by the territorial governor met with Reverend Gilliam at The Dalles. When they asked for a small escort to accompany them to the Walla Walla River in order to negotiate a peace, Gilliam refused the request.  Gilliam was not interested in peace. He told the commission that he had come to fight the Indians, not to talk.

Cayuse chiefs gathered at the home of Catholic Bishop A.M.A. Blanchet and drew up a petition which the Bishop was to submit to the Governor. The petition began by stating the chiefs’ conviction that the Whitmans intended to exterminate the Cayuse so that the whole of their lands might be taken over by American settlers.  The chiefs proposed that the Americans forgive the Cayuse for the massacre just as the Cayuse had forgiven the Americans for murdering some of the Cayuse. The chiefs proposed that they would deliver the murderers into the hands of a peace commission.

The following year, the American militia under the leadership of Reverend Cornelius Gilliam left the Dalles, seeking to kill Indians in revenge for the massacre of the Protestant missionaries. The army was led by the peace delegation carrying white flags.

At Sand Hollow the militia encountered the Cayuse under the leadership of Five Crows. Cayuse medicine man Grey Eagle boasted that he could swallow the bullets of the Boston fur traders. Five Crows also claimed to be invulnerable. The two men rode up to the American troops. Grey Eagle was shot and killed. Five Crows was hit in the arm. After three hours of battle, the Cayuse withdrew. Following this battle, the Americans were more determined than ever to punish the Indians.

At the Whitman mission site, the Americans were notified that a large group of Nez Perce and Cayuse were coming to talk peace. Included in the peace council were Walla Walla chief Yellow Serpent, 11 Nez Perce chiefs, and Cayuse chief Camaspelo. All of the assembled chiefs pledged peace with the Americans.

The American militia continued its war against the Cayuse. Gilliam forced the men to march all night in order to catch up with the illusive Indians. What they found, however, was a Palouse and Walla Walla village of tipis. An elder approached the Americans and told them that the camp belonged to Peopeo Moxmox and that the village was friendly. Gilliam then ordered his men to gather up the stock that was grazing nearby. The stock belonged to the Palouse and they protested this action. When the militia ignored them, they defended their interest and attacked. The American militia soon found itself under attack by 400 seasoned warriors. The Walla Walla and Palouse often fought against the Blackfoot while buffalo hunting on the Great Plains and so their warriors were experienced fighters. The Americans released the stock, but the Palouse warriors continued striking them as they retreated toward the Touchet River.

As they retreated, Colonel Gilliam accidentally killed himself when he removed his gun from the back of a wagon. This effectively ended  the Cayuse Indian war.

The American militia failed to locate the Cayuse warriors accused of killing the Whitmans. However, the Cayuse themselves, with encouragement from the Nez Perce, turned five men over to the Americans: Tilokaikt, Tomahas, Kiamasumpkin, Isiachalakis, and Klokamas.

With regard to the Americans from the Whitman’s mission held captive by the Cayuse, Hudson’s Bay Trader Pete Skene Ogden met with the Cayuse to negotiate their release. Historian Terence O’Donnell (1987: 58) reports: He called their chiefs a bunch of hermaphrodites for not having controlled their young men. He then demanded the release of the captives and pledged a ransom in return. The Cayuse agreed and the captives were turned over to him.

In 1850, five Cayuse warriors-Tiloukailt, Tomahas, Ishishkaiskais, Clokamas, and Kiamasumpkin- were tried for the murder of the American missionaries. The Cayuse had hoped to tell their side of the story and to present the Americans with some gifts to cover the graves of the dead missionaries. The concept of “covering the dead” was a part of the Plateau Indian culture, and in American culture justice was focused on punishment. Thus, the Cayuse  were placed on trial where they protested their innocence. They were convicted and sentenced to be hung. They asked to be shot rather than hung as they viewed hanging as a form of death unfit for humans. Their request was not granted.

Before the men were hung, a Jesuit priest baptized them. When asked why, if he were innocent, did he place himself in the hands of the Americans, Tiloukailt replied:

“Did not you missionaries tell us that Christ died to save his people? So die we, to save our people.”

The bodies of the Cayuse Five were not returned to their people. They were hung not only for revenge under the guise of justice, but for political reasons. By publicly hanging the men and displaying the bodies, the Americans sent a clear message to other Indians who might be considering war against the Americans. The Cayuse view the Cayuse Five as insurgents acting on behalf of their sovereign people.

The Camp Grant Massacre

( – promoted by navajo)

During the 1870s most non-Indian residents of Arizona developed xenophobia, paranoia, fear, and an attitude of genocide with regard to the Native American people they considered to be “Apache.” For the most part, the Anglo residents of the territory were unaware that there were many different autonomous Apache groups. Basically, the Anglos just wanted them all dead.  

In 1871, more than 500 Aravaipa Apache under the leadership of Eskinzin, approached Lieutenant Royal Whitman of Camp Grant and asked for the commander’s permission to quit the fighting and camp under the protection of the military. Lieutenant Whitman told them that he did not have the authority to make a treaty with them and wrote a detailed account to the government asking for guidance. His letter was returned unopened as he had not followed the military procedure of specifying the contents on the outside of the envelope.

In the meantime, the Apache were starving and in desperate need of clothing. Lieutenant Whitman agreed to feed them and the Apache settled near the fort. The Apache men, women, and children chopped and delivered hay for a penny a pound. The commander made sure that the Apache were not cheated when they dealt with American traders. He warned the Apache that any raiding on their part would destroy the truce. He also arranged for nearby American farmers to hire the Apache to harvest barley.

Word of the peaceful arrangement at Camp Grant soon spread to other Apache groups. Lieutenant Whiteman estimated that there would soon be 1,000 Apache settled permanently at Camp Grant.

The good relations between the military and the Apache at Camp Grant, however, did not sit well with certain residents of nearby Tucson. While many American merchants benefited from trade with the peaceful Apache, others worried that the outbreak of peace would end their lucrative military contracts.

Spreading fear among many residents of Tucson, an angry mob quickly became an informal army determined to exterminate the Apache. The mob, accompanied by some Tohono O’odham men, rode to Fort Grant. They massacred 144 Aravaipa Apache who had peacefully settled near the fort. Of those killed, only 8 were adult men. While the military agent watched, the Tucsonans murdered, raped, and mutilated the Apaches and carried away 29 children to be sold into slavery. The massacre convinced President Grant that the Apache needed a reservation to protect them from the Americans.

The citizens who participated in the massacre were tried for murder, but after 15 minutes of deliberation all were acquitted.  As a consequence of his sympathetic stand toward the Apache, Lieutenant Whitman became one of the most reviled public figures in Arizona.  

THANK YOU from Rosebud Rez: Photos of your propane donations

I requested of Sherry Cornelius to kindly ask to take photos of the recipients of your donations for propane for Rosebud reservation over the last week. Sherry delivers propane to a very large block of residents on Rosebud reservation in South Dakota. She is our sorta new Kossack aka lpggirl of St. Francis Energy.

Some folk were happy to be photographed and this diary is their thank you to YOU for helping them get through another terrible winter in South Dakota since Federal LIHEAP funding ran out in early December.

Sherry says that the common incredulous comment is, “Who is doing this?? Tell them thank you!

Sherry tells them about us, YOU, Daily Kos and the community that we are.

11 more photos below and details on how you can contribute to this on going effort.

From Sherry and her trusty mobile phone:

here are some pics of the people/households that have been helped due to you and your friends generosity.  i guess some people are shyer than others (many ducked out from the camera), but i did get a pic of at least 1 of the family.

my mom is sending out the lpg receipts/tickets.  the pictures are named by the lpg ticket number rather than family name.  there are a few families that have been helped, that i didn’t get pictures of.  helped before the picture idea came about.

Sherry, who is Creek/Seminole, took her July vacation in Las Vegas during NN10 just to meet us. We had a dinner for her and her family.


The blizzard aftermath:

And THANK YOUs from all these families, all these folks are smiling at YOU. These are households that Sherry was aware of who were about to run out of propane and unable to order more:

Notice the little face peeking out of the door below:

From Sherry:

one of the houses dkos bought lpg for.  if you zoom in you can see a little girl peeking out of the front door.  this house has alot of ppl living in it, but one person was willing to have their pic taken.  

My earlier diaries explain in more detail why and how we are helping:

Here we go again: Blizzard hits Dakotas

Band-Aid for the Lakotas

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

Employment Information
  • Recent reports vary but many point out that the median income on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.
  • The unemployment rate on Pine Ridge is said to be approximately 83-85% and can be higher during the winter months when travel is difficult or often impossible.
  • According to 2006 resources, about 97% of the population lives below Federal poverty levels.
  • There is little industry, technology, or commercial infrastructure on the Reservation to provide employment.
  • Rapid City, South Dakota is the nearest town of size (population approximately 57,700) for those who can travel to find work.  It is located 120 miles from the Reservation.  The nearest large city to Pine Ridge is Denver, Colorado located some 350 miles away.

We have bypassed the middlemen, the 501c3s, the red-taped strangled Tribal Councils and the pathetic Federal LIHEAP program which runs out too quickly.

We’ve set up relationships with the propane companies that service Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservation. The kind operators/owners know who needs help and can’t get it from their Tribal, State or Federal government.

Last Monday I received donations from Australia and Germany at our PayPal link at Native American Netroots, the donate button is in the upper right of the page.

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


The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday 8-5pm MST

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

NOT tax deductible

Ancient America: Misconceptions about Moundbuilders

( – promoted by navajo)

As the first Europeans began to move into the Ohio River valley area, they found numerous ancient earthen mounds. Many refused to believe that these had been built by Indians, or even the ancestors of Indians. As a consequence, many stories were created crediting the construction of the mounds to Aztecs, Egyptians, Phoenicians, and even vanished races.

Adena Mounta 1

In 1784, Thomas Jefferson dug out a small, twelve-foot high mound on his property near the Rivanna River in Virginia. He uncovered several layers of burials and concluded that the mound had been the work of the present Indians’ ancestors. For many people, this excavation marks the beginning of scientific archaeology in the Americas.

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson published his Notes on the State of Virginia which examined the origins of native people in the area. The book included a description of his excavations of an Indian mound near his home. Jefferson felt that American Indians had arrived at this continent from Asia, that they had arrived speaking only one language, and that, once here, their language had divided into a thousand different languages. He also postulated that Indians had been on the continent for an immense length of time. His views were attacked and he was called “a howling atheist.”

In response to Jefferson’s claims about the mounds, Benjamin Smith Barton published a book in which he claimed that the great mounds in Ohio had been built by Vikings and the Vikings had then journeyed south where they had become Toltecs.

In a 1792 work celebrating the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, Jeremy Belknap wrote of the Mound Builders:

“The form and materials of these works seem to indicate the existence of a race of men in a stage of improvement superior to those natives of whom we or our fathers have had any knowledge; who had different ideas of convenience and utility; who were more patient of labour, and better acquainted with the art of defence.”

In the book Tour into the Territory Northwest of the Alleghany Mountains, published in 1805, the Reverend Thaddeus M. Harris claimed that the mounds and earthworks in Ohio were too great an engineering feat to have been built by Indians. He put forth the idea that they must have been built by a superior race, such as the Toltecs. Archaeologist Robert Silverberg notes:

“No people, civilized or savage, could be considered to be native to the Americas by those who took the Bible literally. The Bible spoke of just one act of creation, which took place in the Garden of Eden. Eden was thought to be in Asia, and Asia must thus have been the homeland of America’s red men, as it was of all human beings.”

The American Antiquarian Society published Caleb Atwater’s systematic investigation of the earthwork mounds in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys in 1820. He saw these earthworks as evidence of an occupation of a sedentary, law-abiding people who were later replaced by more recent immigrants from Asia who became the present-day American Indians. While he provided accurate descriptions of many sites, he suggested that “Hindoos” had actually built them.

In an 1830 address to Congress, President Andrew Jackson said:

“In the monuments and fortresses of an unknown people, spread over extensive regions of the west, we behold the memorials of a once powerful race, which was exterminated, or had disappeared, to make room for the existing savage tribes.”

If this early civilization was destroyed by the ancestors of the Creek and Cherokee, Jackson reasoned, then they deserve no better fate themselves.

In 1835, American settlers in the Crawfish River area in Wisconsin noticed the ancient flat-topped mounds of an abandoned Mississippian village and assumed that they could not have been built by local Indians. In keeping with current scholarship, they assumed that the mounds were the work of the Aztec or other Mexican Indians and so they named the site Aztalan.

The Smithsonian Institute published Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley by Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis which provided a record of the mounds as they appeared in 1847.  It contains finely executed maps and detailed measurements. While Squier and Davis had set out to avoid speculation, they still theorized that the mounds had been built by a civilized, pre-Indian race which had been forced to migrate southward because of incessant attacks by hostile savage hordes.

In 1848, Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis surveyed and mapped Ohio’s Serpent Mound earthworks. This ancient effigy is nearly a quarter mile long which has been described as “a flawlessly modeled serpent, forever slithering northward.”

In 1850, Increase Lapham studied the ruins at Aztalan for the American Antiquarian Society and concluded that the mounds were made by the ancestors of modern Indians. He urged that the site be protected.

The president of the Chicago Academy of Sciences declared in 1873 that the idea that Indians constructed the great mounds of the Mississippi river drainage was “preposterous.”

In 1891 the Bureau of American Ethnography published a scientific report on the many mounds and earthworks in North America which attributed their construction to American Indians. This was an important institutional expression on the question of the identity of the builders of the mounds, and as such it carried much weight.

Adena Mound 2

The Eastern Cherokee and the Right to Vote

( – promoted by navajo)

The struggle of African-Americans to obtain the right to vote has been well documented, but the struggle for American Indian voting rights is less well-known and more complex. The voting rights battles fought by the Eastern Cherokee in North Carolina provide one aspect of this battle.  

General Background:

Toward the end of the nineteenth century the United States government decided that American Indians, like immigrants from other countries, should be fully assimilated into American society. However, a series of court rulings and legal opinions declared that not only were American Indians not citizens, they could not become citizens without Congressional action. In 1887 Congress passed the Dawes Act which allowed Indians who had taken allotments to become citizens. Following World War I, Congress passed an act making all Indians who had served in the military during the war citizens. Finally, in 1924 Congress passed legislation declaring all Indians to be citizens.

The Eastern Cherokee:

In 1920, a large number of Eastern Cherokee – including Cherokee women – registered to vote. As a result of Cherokee participation in the election, Republicans won almost every office in Jackson County by narrow margins. The Democrats protested the election results claiming that the Cherokee were not eligible to vote. As a result, Cherokee votes were thrown out on the basis that the Cherokee were non-citizen wards of the United States.

Two days after passing the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924, Congress passed a bill to allot the Eastern Cherokee in North Carolina. The bill, written prior to the passage of the Citizenship Act, provided that the Eastern Cherokee would become citizens only after receiving and registering their allotments. The State Attorney General took the position that the Eastern Cherokee were, therefore, not citizens because this bill superseded the Indian Citizenship Act. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, on the other hand, took the position that they were citizens. Local registrars assumed that the Cherokee were not citizens and did not allow them to register to vote.

The following year, the federal government assumed trusteeship for Eastern Cherokee land and informed county officials that they could not tax Indian property. This was the first time since the Eastern Cherokee acquired these lands in the 19th century that they had not had to pay property taxes. For those who felt that only taxpayers should be allowed to vote, this provided another reason to prohibit Indians from voting.

Congress passed an act to clear up the confusion of the citizenship of the Eastern Cherokee in 1929. The act reaffirmed Eastern Cherokee citizenship under the Indian Citizen Act of 1924 and declared that this citizenship had not been repealed or abridged with the passage of the Eastern Cherokee Allotment Act two days later. Local officials in North Carolina, however, ignored Congress and continued to deny the Eastern Cherokee the right to vote.

The following year, Eastern Cherokee leader Henry M. Owl was denied the right to register to vote. The registrar refused to register Indians because they were not citizens. In response, Congress passed yet another act once again reaffirming citizenship for the Eastern Cherokee. Local newspapers protested Congressional interference with local affairs. Despite the explicit and repeated directives from Congress, county registrars continued to deny Cherokees the right to vote.

A report by the Solicitor General in 1937 found that North Carolina denied Indians the right to vote claiming that Indians were illiterate. The superintendent of the Cherokee Agency reported:

“We have had Indian graduates of Carlisle, Haskell, and other schools in stances much better educated than the registrar himself, turned down because they did not read or write to his satisfaction.”

In 1940, Congress passed the Nationality Act which again conferred citizenship on American Indians and required that Indian men register for the draft. In response, the Eastern Cherokee tribal council drafted a resolution which argued that the fact that the Eastern Cherokee were denied the right to vote in North Carolina also denied them fair treatment and equal rights by county draft boards. The council asserted that

“any organization or group that would deprive a people of as sacred a right as the right of suffrage would not hesitate to deprive them of other constitutional rights including the three inalienable rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, if the opportunity to do so presents itself.”

Following World War II, county registrars in North Carolina refused to register Eastern Cherokee war veterans to vote. The Cherokee appealed the decisions to the governor and attorney general, but nothing was done.

After lawsuits by Indian veterans in Arizona and New Mexico declared that Indians were citizens and had the right to vote, resistance to Indian voting in North Carolina was reduced and the Eastern Cherokee began to participate in American democracy.  

Ancient America: Utah

( – promoted by navajo)

Ten thousand years ago, Native American people in what is now Utah had a lifeway that was centered around a pattern of seasonal wandering, the hunting of animals, and the gathering of plants. Human habitations at this time tended to cluster around lakes. Native American groups were surviving and prospering in an austere environment because they had an intimate knowledge of the land and its resources.  

The people during this time which archaeologists call the Archaic Period (10,000 years ago to 1,500 years ago) were gathering a variety of seeds and nuts (including grass seeds, pickleweed, and bulrush). Seeds were collected in tremendous numbers using baskets of various kinds and were processed into flour with milling stones.

The people were also hunting both small and large animals, including mountain sheep, deer, antelope, rabbits, and ground squirrels.

The archaeological evidence of the human habitation in Utah during the Archaic Period comes primarily from caves and rockshelters. This does not necessarily mean that these were used as their primary homes, but rather the preservation of materials was better in these locations and thus the archaeologists are more likely to find evidence here.

Some of the earliest evidence of Native Americans in Utah comes from Danger Cave. Archaeological evidence shows that American Indians were camping here by 9000 BCE. They were lighting fires on the cave’s sandy floor and leaving a scattering of stone flakes and milling stones.

By 7500 BCE, the Utah Native Americans were engaged in a roving pattern of hunting and gathering and occupying settlements seasonally. Some of the plant foods being used by the people at this time included seeds from pickleweed. They were also hunting big game animals including  deer, pronghorn antelope, mountain sheep, elk, and buffalo. They were trapping small game, such as rabbit, with netting.

Indian people were occupying Old Man Cave by 6900 BCE. The plants being used by the people at this site included prickly pear, sand dropseed, marshelder, sunflower, and goosefoot. Indian rice grass was also an important food.  

In 6350 BCE, Indian people began to use Hogup Cave as a base camp. Here they gathered plants for food, fuel, and for making baskets and mats. They also hunted waterfowl, small mammals, and larger mammals. The larger mammals included pronghorn antelope, mule deer, mountain sheep, and bison.

Among the artifacts left at Hogup Cave were engraved pebbles. Archaeologists are somewhat puzzled about the use of the odd little stone slabs and pebbles. They were neatly engraved with some tough stone tool, the simple designs being cut rather carefully in any of several geometric patterns.

By 6000 BCE, Indian people were occupying the Sudden Shelter located in Ivie Creek Canyon. Hunting was the major activity carried out by the people who occupied this site. Sudden Shelter was a base camp from which the people were able to exploit a wide variety of resources. One of the main animals being hunted was the mule deer.

By 5000 BCE, Indian people were occupying the Deluge Shelter on Jones Hole Creek. The people at this site were hunting mule deer.

By 4300 BCE, the Indian people who occupied Sudden Shelter had changed their patterns of resource exploitation. They were now using slab-lined fire pits and milling stones indicating that plant resources had become more important. The most heavily utilized plant resource at this time was goosefoot. At this time Sudden Shelter was occupied primarily between April and September.

About 4000 BCE, there was a dramatic increase in the number of sites occupied by Indian people. There was a broadening of settlement patterns with an increased emphasis on the exploitation of resources in the upland zones.

At this same time, Indian people were using Spotten Cave at the south end of Utah Valley. Spotten Cave was used as a temporary stopover as the people moved from the Goshen Valley bottoms to the uplands of Long Ridge or the Wasatch Front.

By 2600, the Indian people at Sudden Shelter were using more amaranth. In addition, they were hunting more bighorn sheep. While the technology used by the Indian people at Sudden Shelter was similar in many respects to the hunters and gatherers who occupied this area later, the size of the local group at Sudden Shelter appears to have been smaller.  

In 2220 BCE, Indian people began to occupy Thorne Cave in the Uinta Basin. They were hunting jackrabbit, cottontail, antelope, beaver, and bighorn sheep.

By 1700 BCE, Indian people were now using American Fork Cave. They were hunting mountain sheep. The cave was used as a base camp from which mountain sheep were hunted in the steep and broken country of American Fork Canyon.

The Archaic Period in Utah ends with the emergence of the Fremont people in 1500 BCE.  

Bringing Rural Minorities into the Netroots Fold

( – promoted by navajo)

I live in rural Rio Arriba County in the mountains of northern New Mexico. While my community covers a geographic area the size of Massachusetts, there are only 40,000 residents. Seventy percent are Hispanics who arrived in New Mexico in the 17th century. Eighteen percent are Native Americans: two pueblos and an Apache Reservation.

It is important for rural minorities to be able to tell and control their own stories. The self-told story is a first step in healing the wounds of oppression. Mastery and control of the medium, be it printing press, teevee or web, is an important first step.

Rural minorities are badly underrepresented among the Netroots, and, for good reason. The tools of the trade (high speed internet access, connectivity, computers, servers, fiber optic, etc.) are often unavailable in the communities where they live.

Try owning an iPhone in Rio Arriba County! The phone might be cool but it doesn’t do you any good if it doesn’t connect to anything.

But besides the issue of not-so-handy gadgets, it is difficult to attract Native Americans and Hispanics in my community to the web because the tools, which might seem difficult to acquire initially, don’t appear to be immediately useful. Why bother to learn to surf the web when there is no dialogue on it about issues that are meaningful to you?

Why learn to use twitter if you don’t want to know what Madonna ate for lunch, which word Sarah Palin is going to misspell today, or who Snooki is doing ? A chat room allowing me to partner with my neighbor to buy and divide up a cow from a local rancher might have more application.

I am lucky. Several years ago, my bosses decided that my nocturnal internet habit is a useful way to educate policy makers and the public at large about issues that matter in Rio Arriba, and they have encouraged me to pursue my eccentric habit. For a few years, I have been sending links to a listserve of my New Mexico friends who otherwise wouldn’t follow blogs.

Recently, I’ve been trying a new tactic. Our Rio Arriba Community Health Council created a website with multiple functions that I hope will prove useful enough to prompt people to try them out. But just in case that doesn’t work, I am resorting to annoying tricks.

Barry Geller, who created the site, has included an online resource directory for our member organizations, a community calendar and a blog. So far, all the blog entries are my own. I have been showing people how to read and comment. Soon, the council will find a volunteer to post their own diary.

We live in a one newspaper town. Most of the non-profits and local residents complain that the newspaper won’t write about anything positive that they do. I see blogs as a way to change that.

I posted a photo-diary on the blog about a health council event and sent out links so people could see their photos. I walked into the office of our county commission chairman, showed him how to set up an account, and refused to leave until he posted a comment.

Now I am trying another strategy. Barry partnered with the Greater Espanola Valley Community Development Corporation (GEVCDC) to create a wonderful app, enabling council and CDC members to work on collaborative writing projects such as positions statements and funding proposals. If somebody wants to participate in a collaborative health council grant, they have to do it through the CDC forum (which is open only to council and CDC members).

I tried to use video-conferencing equipment to demonstrate use of the forum a few months ago at our health council meeting. That didn’t work out very well since we couldn’t get the equipment to function. I felt pretty dumb. I am hoping that my own ineptitude with some of our tools and equipment makes it less intimidating for others to try. But I don’t know. Maybe it just wastes their time.

Whatever. We tried it again the next month and it worked very well..

Initially, it was a migraine and a half to get anyone to use the forum! Some people had difficulty signing in. The staff member assigned to assist council members to use the CDC forum seemed to be devoting a great deal of energy to arguing with their IT guy over spreadsheets. After one especially heated argument involving multiple extensive fact-finding emails regarding the difficulties a particular member encountered while trying to sign in, it turned out that the member had used the password for some other account. Once project staff stopped bickering and we got the forum running and used it to write a proposal, it worked pretty well.

Now I’m trying a new and even more exciting project.  I would like to bring a group of Native Americans from local reservations to this year’s Netroots Nation.  I think I can help to subsidize their costs through my county budget, since they will be representing the county. But I may need additional help.

Anyone interested in talking about this?

Native American Food: Camas

( – promoted by navajo)

The Plateau Culture Area is the region which extends east from the Cascade Mountains in Washington to the Rocky Mountains in Montana. It extends from the Fraser River in British Columbia to the Blue Mountains in Oregon. The Indian tribes which inhabited this area have historic and cultural ties with the tribes on the Pacific Coast as well as with the tribes on the Northern Plains. The Plateau tribes gathered and used over 130 different wild plants. It is estimated that from 40% to 60% of their calories came from the plant foods which they gathered. One of the most important root crops for the Plateau tribes was camas, which provided a major source of carbohydrates for their diet.

Camas is a lily-like plant whose bulb can be fire-baked to make a sweet and nutritious staple. In some places in the Northwest, camas was so common that non-Indian travelers would mistake the plant’s blue flowers for distant lakes.

Camas 1

Camas is very high in protein: 5.4 ounces of protein per pound of roots. In comparison, steelhead trout (Salmo gairdneri) has 3.4 ounces of protein per pound.

The proper time to gather camas is when the lower half of the flowers begins to fade. Indian people generally gathered camas in June, but this varied according to altitude and seasonal weather conditions. Some of the tribes, such as the Flathead, designated June as Camas Moon.

The camas was often dug up using digging sticks made from elk antlers. A woman could dig up about a bushel of roots in a day from a site that was about half an acre in size.

At the camas digging camps, the camas was usually cooked in earth ovens before eating it or storing it. Since the same camps were used each season, the pit ovens used for roasting the camas were also reused.

Although the men gathered the wood for the ovens, men were not allowed near the roasting pits for fear that the camas would not be roasted properly.

The oven (a roasting pit dug into the ground) was preheated by building a fire in it and placing small rocks (about 5″ in diameter) in with the wood. In addition to the small rocks, some pits had large flat stones on the bottom which were also heated by the fire. When the rocks were hot, they were covered with wet vegetation such as slough grass, alder branches, willow, and/or skunk cabbage leaves. Then the camas bulbs were placed on top of the vegetation. Sometimes Douglas onions (Allium douglasii) were placed in with the camas. The camas was then covered with bark and earth and a fire was built on top of the oven. Cooking usually took between 12 and 70 hours, depending on the number of camas bulbs in the oven.

The camas which was intended for storage was then dried for about a week. Dried camas can be preserved for many years. Some American explorers report eating camas that had been prepared 36 years earlier.  

The early Europeans in the area, such as Lewis and Clark, occasionally consumed camas after they were shown how to harvest it and prepare it. One Jesuit missionary fermented camas to make alcohol. Another Jesuit missionary observed that the consumption of camas by those unaccustomed to it is “followed by strong odors accompanied by loud sounds”.

In order to increase the camas yield, the camas areas, as well as other root gathering areas, were occasionally burned over.  

American Indian Biography: John Rollin Ridge, Cherokee Writer

( – promoted by navajo)

When John Rollin Ridge died in 1867 he was eulogized as one of California’s great poets and political commentator. To understand his life and what motivated him, we must start by looking at his parents: John Ridge and Sarah Bird Northrup.

In the early 1800s, the Cherokee were borrowing many European ideas. Feeling that reading and writing were important, the Cherokee invited Christian missionaries to live among them and to operate schools. The Brainard School opened in 1817 with 26 Cherokee students. Soon it was suggested that some Cherokee might enroll in the new school operated by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Cornwall, Connecticut. Soon a number of Cherokee students were enrolled at the school.

The curriculum at the Cornwall school included a heavy dose of religious training, working on the school’s farm (classified as “agricultural education”) and courses in geography, history, rhetoric, surveying, Latin, and natural science.

One of the Cherokee students at the school was John Ridge. However, he had problems with his hip which were aggravated by the cold winters.  By 1821, his condition had worsened and so he was removed from the dormitory and placed in a private room in the Northrup home. It was there that he met and fell in love with the fourteen year-old Sarah Bird Northrup. Sarah’s family responded by sending her away to live with her grandparents. John wrote to his mother and asked for her permission for him to marry Sarah. John’s mother, insisting that he should marry a Cherokee woman, did not give her consent to the marriage.

In spite of the opposition from both families, John Ridge and Sarah Bird Northrup were finally married on January 27, 1824 in Connecticut. In order to avoid being mobbed, the couple immediately left Connecticut for Cherokee country in Georgia. The Cherokee were used to having non-Cherokee men marry Cherokee women and were dismayed to find that the Christian citizens of Cornwall, Connecticut were strongly opposed to having Cherokee men marrying non-Cherokee women.

John Rollin Ridge was born to John Ridge and Sarah Bird Northrup Ridge at Running Waters in the Cherokee Nation on March 19, 1827. John Ridge at this time was practicing law and had a half-interest it the ferry at New Echota. The family farm consisted of 419 acres and was run with the help of 18 slaves.

By 1835 the pressure from the State of Georgia and from the United States to have the Cherokee move west of the Mississippi had intensified. Census records at the time show that there was little difference between the Cherokee and non-Cherokee in terms of material culture. They lived in the same kind of homes, they raised the same crops. However, the Americans, fueled by racism and greed, wanted Cherokee land. The Cherokee at this time were divided into two factions: the Ridge party and the Ross Party. The Ridge Party led by John Ridge, Major Ridge (John’s father and John Rollin’s grandfather), and Elias Boudinot (also known as Buck Watie) saw that removal was inevitable, while the Ross Party, under the leadership of John Ross, opposed removal.

On December 29, 1835, twenty members of the Ridge Party signed an agreement with the United States in which the Cherokee would exchange their lands in the east for nearly 14 million acres of land in the west. In addition, they would receive $4.5 million and an annuity to support a school. John Ridge, Major Ridge, and Elias Boudinot were among those who signed the treaty. Upon signing, Major Ridge remarked: “I have signed my death warrant” in acknowledgement that the Cherokee nation had a law mandating death to those who sold Cherokee land.

In 1836, the Ridges and other members of the Ridge party left their traditional Cherokee homeland for Indian Territory. They settled near present-day Southwest City, Missouri and their 18 black slaves set out to clear the land and plant the crops.

The Ross Party and other Cherokee would later be forced to move to Indian Territory at bayonet point in a journey called the Trail of Tears.

In 1839, three execution squads set out to enforce Cherokee law. One of these squads forced their way into the home of John Ridge, and dragged him from his bed to the yard. While John Rollin Ridge and other members of the family watched, some of the  men held John Ridge’s arms and legs while others stabbed him 29 times. They then threw him into the air and let his bleeding body crash to the ground. The execution squad then marched over his body, stamping on him as they passed. John Rollin Ridge would later write:

“My mother ran to him. He raised himself on his elbow and tried to speak, but the blood flowed into his mouth and prevented him. In a few moments he died, without speaking the last words which he wished to say.”

The execution squads also killed Major Ridge and Elias Boudinot that day. They thus eliminated the leaders of the Ridge Party.

Following the executions, the Ridge family fled to Fayetteville, Arkansas. John Ridge died without a will, leaving behind a fairly large estate consisting of slaves, stock, and other personal property. Due to the chaotic state of the Cherokee nation, the estate was not immediately settled and thus the Ridge family found themselves often short of funds.

John Rollin Ridge received much of his formal education in Arkansas. In 1843, he enrolled in the Great Barrington Academy in Massachusetts. While enrolled in the Academy, he heard that his uncle Stand Watie had killed James Foreman, the assassin of Major Ridge. He wrote to his uncle:

“You cannot imagine what feelings of pleasure it gave me when I heard of the death of him who was the murderer of my venerable and beloved grandfather.”

In the same letter he also expresses extreme dislike – some would say hatred – for John Ross.

By 1847, John Rollin Ridge had moved back to Cherokee country, had married Elizabeth Wilson (a non-Cherokee), and had purchased a farm. The estate of John Ridge was settled and John Rollin received two slaves and other items. At this time, he began writing poetry under the name of Yellowbird as well as articles on Cherokee history and politics.

In 1849 John Rollin Ridge had an argument with his neighbor over a missing stallion. During the argument, John Rollin killed David Kell, a pro-Ross man. Fearing that he could not receive a fair trial in the Cherokee Nation because of John Ross and his followers, John Rollin Ridge fled to Missouri. Later it was determined that Kell had been encouraged by Ross supporters to provoke a fight with John Rollin in order to have an excuse to kill him.

In 1850, John Rollin Ridge, his brother Aeneas, and a slave named Wacooli joined a large party which was headed for the California gold fields. His intention was to engage in mining and amass a fortune. However, the journey to California proved to be more expensive and more difficult than he had thought. Along the way, he had to abandon a wagon, equipment, and clothing. Eventually he arrived in Placerville to find that thousands of people were already digging for gold. He soon learned that gold mining was hard physical work and that very few gold miners ever struck it rich.

John Rollin Ridge arrived in Sacramento looking for a job-any job that was honest. It was here that he met the local agent for the New Orleans newspaper True Delta and wrote a sample article. The agent quickly realized that it was a well-written article and John Rollin Ridge became a correspondent for True Delta. Thus he began his newspaper career in California.

The writings and poetry of John Rollin Ridge were soon appearing in a number of California publications including Alta California, Golden Era, Hesperian, Marysville Herald, Daily Union, and Hutching’s California Magazine.

In 1854, his book The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit was published. The book was widely read and frequently plagiarized. While John Rollin Ridge claimed that the story was true and was important to the early history of the state, there are some literary critics today who classify the work as a novel.

While working in the newspaper field, his dream was to establish a newspaper that would be devoted to Indian affairs, to defend Indian rights, and to provide Indians with powerful friends. He wrote:

“I want to write the history of the Cherokee nation as it should be written and not as white men will write it and as they will tell the tale, to screen and justify themselves.”

This is a dream which he would never realize.

In 1855, John Rollin Ridge became the main writer for the California American, an organ for the Know Nothing Party. One of the Party’s main tenets was that foreigners were unfit for citizenship and that Catholics should be denied citizenship as they were loyal to a foreign power.

In 1857 the Daily Bee began publishing in Sacramento with John Rollin Ridge as its editor. As editor of the Bee Ridge defended female journalists and writers. He wrote:

“The lady-writers of America are among the very best of our contributors to the literature of today.”


As editor of the Daily Bee John Rollin Ridge published many anti-Mormon articles. He opposed the creation of a Mormon state in Utah. He argued against mixing religion and politics. He wrote:

“A minister of the gospel, therefore, in the United States, who would speak of politics in the pulpit, and seek to array religion and politics together, is nothing better than a vile incendiary, torch in hand, in the very temple of our liberties, and deserves to be looked upon as a common enemy, taken down from the position which he disgraces, and branded with universal contempt.”

While at the Daily Bee, John Rollin Ridge began writing about Indians. While Ridge agreed with the popular opinion that the “digger” Indians were inferior, he disagreed with the popular notion that genocide was the solution. Ridge felt that California’s Indians were inferior to the Indians of the East and to those of South America.

The term “digger” Indians was used at the time to refer to a number of different tribes. The term comes from their practice of digging for roots.

With regard to Indians in North America since the European invasion, Ridge wrote:

“The Indian’s rights have been best respected, since the first white settlement of this continent, in those places where he has held his ground by bow and gun, tomahawk and scalping knife; where he has shown himself a warrior, and ready to mingle his blood with the soil upon which he grew, rather than leave it; where he had met encroachment upon his rights, or what he deemed his rights, by the torch of midnight conflagration and the death-menacing war whoop and the death-dealing tomahawk; where he has made it unsafe to lie down at night or to get up in the morning or to journey forth by day-There has his title to land been recognized and there has he been negotiated with and there have mutual terms of peace been subscribed to and respected.”

In 1857, writing under the name Yellow Bird, John Rollin Ridge provided a sketch of Si Bolla, a leader of one of the “digger” Indian bands. The account expressed admiration for the man’s intelligence and speaking ability. Although Ridge considered the “diggers” to be inferior, he defended them against the Americans who persecuted and enslaved them.

John Rollin Ridge left the Daily Bee to become the editor of the Express in Marysville. He then became the editor of the short-lived Marysville News. He then joined the Daily National Democrat whose banner proudly proclaimed: “The Voice of the People is the Voice of God.”

In 1861, Ridge became the editor of the anti-Lincoln and antiabolitionist Evening Journal in San Francisco. While he felt that Lincoln and the abolitionists would destroy the Union, Ridge declared his support for the Union and declared that the Evening Journal would be independent from any political party.

After a few months with the Evening Journal, Ridge moved to another San Francisco paper, the National Herald. His main assignment at the National Herald was to write on political affairs.

While in San Francisco, John Rollin Ridge wrote three long works on the American Indian for the Hesperian. In the first article, he speculated on the origin of the Indians, noting characteristics that are similar to those of the Greeks, Persians, Jews, and Chaldeans. The second article centered on the religious beliefs of the Indians and their mythology. The third article focused on Indian priests, prophets, and medicine men. In his discussion of the Medawin (the priests), he writes:

“The secret grips and signs [of the Medawin] have been recognized as identical with some of the grips and signs of Free Masonry.”

In 1862, Ridge left San Francisco to take a temporary position with the Beacon in Red Bluff. While at Red Bluff, Ridge wrote a number of articles about the Cherokee in which he criticized Cherokee chief John Ross.

After a few months in Red Bluff, he traveled to Weaverville where he helps establish the Trinity National. Following the demise of the paper after only a few issues, he wrote for a number of other papers.

John Rollin Ridge died on October 5, 1867 and was buried in Grass Valley, California. The cause of death was diagnosed as “brain fever” or encephalitis lethargia. The Alta California wrote:

“as a poet, he deserves a prominent position, and as a general writer he was forcible, elegant and polished, his chief forte being that of politics.”

In 1933, the Native Sons of the Golden West erected a marker on his grave which reads in part:

“John Rollin Ridge-California poet, Author of ‘Mount Shasta’ and Other Poems.”


Band-Aid for the Lakotas: But a directly applied one

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

I’d like to give you small update on our recent request for propane help.

This past Friday I posted a familiar diary to many of you asking you to call the propane companies directly and help pay for propane for Lakota families on Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations.

You made more than $3000 in donations over a 24 hr. period. This is excellent because we have bypassed the middlemen, the 501c3s, the red-taped strangled Tribal Councils and the pathetic Federal LIHEAP program.

We’ve set up relationships with the propane companies that service Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservation. The kind operators/owners know who needs help and can’t get it from their Tribal, State or Federal government. No one should freeze to death in the richest country in the world.

Details below on how you can help:

Every time I post one of these diaries I get emails with the same suggestions. I get them in the comments also. Because thinking people don’t want to keep patching up holes in the dam with money. I don’t either.

They want a permanent solution, so do I. They want to be proactive, so do I.  Yes, I agree, there will be winter every year. The Lakota have been freezing every winter since the U.S. ordered their extermination in the 1800’s. When the U.S. couldn’t kill them all they put them into POW camps now called reservations where they had been promised compensation but never received it and at the same time starved and their culture nearly destroyed by the U.S. government.

What these suggesters don’t know is how difficult it is to fix a century’s old problem.

But it is what it is… a complicated situation.

I’ll outline the obstacles below  


Many reservations are considered sovereign governments and are treated differently by the Federal government; i.e. assistance is tied up with additional red tape and help is delayed further with the addition of the Tribal government’s red tape. This should be a whole diary.

The sub-standard housing needs to be fixed. Again, this is a political issue. Many folk have been trying to champion this cause for decades. It’s not happening quickly. Eight years of republican rule have devastated our reservations and seriously delayed any improvement. The crappy government housing structures built so long ago are infested with black mold. Housing services remedies this with a spray on solution called Killz that is toxic to humans also but the mold grows back a few weeks later. The solution is to tear down the structure and start over. The government housing that was built way back when was inadequate to say the least. This inadequate housing as it deteriorates cannot hold in the heat. This is NOT a small issue and the percentage of homes is estimated to be one third by Rosebud resident and long time Indian leader and organizer Carter Camp.

State and Federal government policies need to be changed. People have and are working on this but they are swimming upstream. They’ve been swimming upstream for decades. Our tribes have been left behind for decades. Eight years of republican rule have devastated our reservations further. The unemployment rate in Pine Ridge and Rosebud have hung around 80% for decades, that’s not an easy thing to fix. The chronic problem on our reservations is a result of broken treaties and government neglect of our tribes.

Number 1: Honor the Treaties, that’s the first step.


There is a reason we are calling the propane companies directly, it is to save lives. Because many oppressed Lakota can’t get help from the Federal or Tribal governments and risk freezing to death. They are being strangled by red tape.

The link above explains the discrepancies between the payments to tribal members vs. non-members who get much more money from the state-run LIHEAP program.

This is why we do this. We cut out the middle men 501c3s that use our money for overhead and I think give false reports about their help to the tribes. We cut out the Tribal councils.

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

Sherry said she will start delivery just as soon as conditions allow her to drive around.


The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday 8-5pm MST

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

NOT tax deductible

Sherry Cornelius reports that the main roads were plowed on Sunday but the drive ways have not. She still risks getting stuck until the drive ways are cleared. I hope she is out delivering today.

Sherry also told me that her company, St. Francis Energy has not processed a NAHA heating voucher since 2008. NAHA continues to collect heating assistance funds on behalf of South Dakota tribes today.

This is why we are asking you to give directly to the propane companies.