A Warrior’s Tale – Updated

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Crossposted from Daily Kos

Last Veterans Day I published a diary which you may recall titled Thank You for Your Service, which related the sad story of a Pottawatomi from Kansas who’d served twenty years in the U.S. Army, only to discover after those twenty years of service that his home state of Kansas had been robbing him by wrongfully withholding state income tax from his miltary pay.

This retired Master Sergeant has been trying for the years since to recover that money.

The diary gave an overview of the way the laws differ from state to state and had a few helpful tips for avoiding future occurences but precious little in the way of solid means of recovery for past injustices.

What follows is an update of how this process works in my home state of Arizona.

Those who recall the diary will remember that I advised that Kansas veteran that his best hope of recovery lay through the organized political power of the veterans organizations. It happens he is a member of the American Legion, so I advised him to start there.

By sheer happenstance shortly thereafter I met a candidate for State Commander of the American Legion here in Arizona. Armed with his card and email address I sent him a copy of the diary, and asked him to look into this matter as it concerns Arizona Native American veterans. Mr. George Cushing, the Legion official, is a busy man, and it took him a while to get back to me. The tale becomes twisted from here, so a brief recap will have to do.

First I was made privy to an email to Mr. Cushing from a high level Arizona state government official who recognized that the same situation had occurred here in Arizona, and that many Native vets had refund money coming, but that in the state’s ridicuously tight economic circumstances getting it out of the legislature would be problematic.

I wanted to publish the text of that email in a follow up diary, but only, of course, with the permission of the writer. Several days of phone calls and emails concluded with the Legislative Liaison for the Department of Veterans Services sending me a very discouraging email in which he cited a state tax ruling that basically declared the funds unrecoverable. This was a major setback.

Then, this morning, there was another email from the American Legion official which he encouraged me to “share with our Native American comrades.” Reproduced in relevant part, it read

Mr. George Frank from the Department of Revenue at (602) 716-6025 was the person who called  us  and stated that those whom had tax taken out while on military active duty can file a AZ Form 140 Resident or a AZ Form 140 Non-resident.  I have attached hereto for you the necessary forms, with both the instructions and booklets for filing.

In other words, Arizona Native American veterans who had a reservation address of record during their military service can recover wrongfully withheld state income taxes by filling out AZ Form 140 as appropriate.

Eligible Arizona vets can contact me through this blog site, or deal with Mr. Frank directly, for assistance in reclaiming their hard earned dollars.

None of which directly helps our Kansas Pottawatomi brother, but puts Arizona in line behind New Mexico and Connecticut in doing right by Native American veterans and leading other states in the right direction.


Traditional Native American Foods in the Great Lakes Area

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The western Great Lakes area was inhabited by Algonquian-speaking tribes such as the Anishinabe (Ojibwa or Chippewa), Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Menominee, Shawnee, Ottawa, and Sauk and by Siouan-speaking groups such as the Winnebago, Iowa, Oto, and Missouria. Like the other Indian nations of the Eastern Woodland, all of the tribes knew about farming and engaged in it. However, among the Algonquian-speaking people of this area, farming was of secondary economic importance (hunting and gathering were of greater importance) and contributed less than half of their food.   Two of the important wild foods for these tribes were wild rice and maple sugar.  

Wild Rice:

One of the important foods to many of the people in the western Great Lakes area, such as the Menominee and the Chippewa, was, and still is, wild rice-manoomin in Anishinabe. Wild rice is highly nutritious and provided a significant portion of the calories traditionally consumed by the tribes in the area.

Northern wild rice (zizania palustris) is an annual plant native to the Great Lakes region. Wild rice grows in the shallow water of lakes and slow-flowing streams. Wild rice is high in protein, the amino acid lysine, and dietary fiber. It is low in fat and does not contain gluten.

The rice fields were owned by families. The rice was harvested by poling canoes through the tall rice stalks. The stalks were then pulled over the gunwales of the canoe and the ripe grain knocked into the bottom of the canoes with a short stick. In a period of 4-6 hours, a pair of women in a canoe could harvest over 100 pounds of grain.

wild rice

The rice was then cleaned, sun dried, and cooked. The rice would be dried by spreading it evenly on sheets of birch bark. The young men and boys would help in the threshing of the rice to remove the close-fitting hull. They would walk on the grain or churn it with a paddle. The rice would then be winnowed by tossing it into the air and letting the wind blow the chaff away. If there was no wind, the rice would be spread out on a mat or blanket and fanned. Some of the prepared rice would be cached for later use by storing it in sewn animal skins or in covered birch bark boxes (makakon). Prepared rice would keep indefinitely.

To insure a continuing yield, a portion of the rice kernals were encased in mud and then tossed back into the water. A typical family would gather 12-15 bushels of rice each year.

Among the Anishinabe of Minnesota, the rice-gathering season, known as mahnominike-gizis (“rice-making moon”), was a time of feasting and ceremonies. No rice was taken until an offering was made to the plants in thanksgiving. The wild rice feasts were both social pastimes and religious ceremonies. The wild rice feasts brought the people together and provided them with both food and spiritual sustenance.

Like the Anishinabe, the Menominee also gathered wild rice as one of their major food resources. In processing the wild rice, they would dig a pit and then place a deer skin or mat in the pit. The rice would then be placed on top of this. To separate the grain from the chaff, the women and children would then dance on the rice. The deer skins and mats would be pulled out and shaken to get rid of the chaff. Once dried, the rice would be stored in pits for winter use.

Maple Sugar:

Another important food for the Indian nations in the Great Lakes area was maple sugar. This was more than something good to eat: the maple sugar  symbolized good relations between people and harmony between the people and the natural and supernatural worlds. In addition, maple sugar was easy to transport and lasted a long time. The Anishinabe called it iinzibaakwad.

In many areas, the maple sap would become available before the fish in the spring so the people would begin to gather at the sugar bush groves before moving on to their fishing areas. Among the Chippewa and Ottawa in Michigan, several related families would camp together while harvesting the sap.  

Among the Anishinabe in Minnesota, the making of the maple sugar began in late March or early April with the arrival of the first crow. The entire village would then move to the maple area where they would tap the trees, boil the sap down, and separate it into syrup, sugar, and cakes. The maple sap was collected in birch bark containers which were made by folding the ends of a rectangular piece of bark and tying it with willow. A gash would be cut in the tree and a cedar chip driven in under the gash. The basket would be placed on the ground under the chip to catch the sap as it dripped. In a good season, a family would prepare 400-500 pounds of sugar.

The sap would be processed first by boiling. Prior to the coming of the European traders and their metal pots, the sap was boiled in bark baskets or troughs. Rocks would be heated and then dropped into the sap, which would bring it to a boil. When it had reached a proper consistency, it would be transferred to a granulating trough where it would be worked with a paddle until it was in the form of granulated sugar.

The maple sugar was used in preparing fruits, wild rice, vegetables, and fish. In the summer, a cool drink was made by dissolving the maple sugar in water. Finally, the maple sugar was also used to make confections which were enjoyed by the children (and probably by the adults as well).

Sugar Malak

The Indian Removal Act

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During the first part of the nineteenth century, the American policy was to remove Indians from east of the Mississippi River and to “give” them reservations in Indian Territory. While this idea had been proposed by President Thomas Jefferson, it was not enacted into law until 1830 with the passage of the Indian Removal Act. Under the terms of this act, Indian tribes were to be moved from Ohio and Mississippi valleys to the western plains. The primary argument in favor of Indian removal claimed that European Christian farmers could make more efficient use of the land than the Indian heathen hunters. This argument conveniently ignored the fact that Indians were efficient farmers and had been farming their land for many centuries.

Removal was essentially a racially motivated idea. In the nineteenth century, most Americans tended to view Indians in racial terms and ignored cultural differences. They viewed all Indians as the same. Unfortunately, many Americans in the twenty-first century hold this same view. Today there are still some historians, in their attempt to justify removal, who continue to portray Indians as hunters and as such, hindrances to the development of the land.

One of the voices of dissent in 1830 was that of New Jersey’s Senator Theodore Frelingbuysen who pointed out to the Senate that Europeans had found Indians:

“exercising all the rights, and enjoying the privileges, of free and inde¬pendent sovereigns of this new world. They were not a wild and lawless horde of banditti, but lived under the restraints of government, patriarchal in its character, and energetic in its influence.”

In making the case for Indian removal, Lewis Cass, the Secretary of War, wrote in the North American Review:

“A barbarous people, depending for subsistence upon the scanty and precarious supplies furnished by the chase, cannot live in contact with a civilized community.”

In a series of newspaper essays intended to build public support for Indian removal, Baptist missionary Isaac McCoy claims that Indians are not sovereign nations and that Indians had not really been a party to the treaties in contractual terms. He also defends the doctrine of discovery which gives the European nations the ownership of North America. He wrote:

“Civilized nations have long since divided the continent of America among themselves. So the nations have adopted the practice of settling their territories without asking the natives to leave it by the formalities of a treaty.”

Indian agents were told to inform the tribes that if they delay their removal they will be responsible for all provisions and costs themselves. The rationale for removal, rather than “civilizing” the Indians in their homelands, was explained in one letter to the Cherokee agent:

“An Almighty hand has stamped upon every creature a particular genius, propensity and leading traits of character. The polish of education may improve, but cannot change, for the imperishable seal is there; bars and dungeons, penitentiaries and death itself, have been found insufficient, even in civilized society, to restrain man from crime, and constrain him to the necessity of moral and virtuous action. How then are we to look for, or expect it, in a community made up of savage and illiterate people?”

It is interesting to note that at this time the Cherokee have a higher literacy rate than do the Americans. However, the Cherokees were literate in Cherokee which in the minds of the Americans didn’t count as literacy.

With regard to the passage of the Indian Removal Act, President Jackson said:

“It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation.”

The President went on to say:

“It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy; and enable those States to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.”

Jackson was not one to let the facts interfere with political goals. He exploited an enduring stereotype to push the Indian Removal Act through Congress.

In a report for the Niles Weekly Register, Colonel Gold (whose daughter was married to Elias Boudinot, the editor of the Cherokee Phoenix) reported that the Cherokee afford

“strong evidence that the wandering Indian has been converted into the industrious husbandman; and the tomahawk and rifle are exchanging for the plough, the hoe, the wheel, and the loom, and that they are rapidly acquiring domestic habits, and attaining a degree of civilization that was entirely unexpected, from the natural disposition of these children of the forest.”

The actual physical removal of the Indians, often carried out under military force and brutality, turned out to be one of the most shameful periods of American history.

Ancient America: 5,000 Years Ago

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It is not uncommon for accounts of American history to begin in the fifteenth century with the Spanish voyages of exploration. What the Europeans found was not a wilderness, but a land which had been settled by and developed for American Indians. By five thousand years ago there were many different cultural adaptations. In this essay, I’d like to briefly describe a few of the events which happened about five thousand years ago in the area which would later become the United States.  


One of the most important agricultural products in the world today is corn (maize). Originally domesticated in central Mexico, it had diffused to the American Southwest (Arizona and New Mexico) by 3000 BCE. This means that by this time, American Indian people had learned about the plant, including how to plant it, care for it, harvest it, and process it into food products. The diffusion of corn into the Southwest begins to set the stage for the development of technologically advanced cultures such as those of the Hohokam and the Ancestral Puebloan.


By 3000 BCE, the Ohlone had begun to settle near San Francisco Bay. The Ohlone merged by conquest and marriage with earlier inhabitants of the area, probably a Hokan-speaking people related to the Pomo and Esselen. The people exploited a seacoast ecology, particularly shellfish. Some of their shellfish debris mounds would grow to 270 feet in diameter and 30 feet deep.

Farther south, in the Los Angeles area, Indian people in the Zuma Creek area were collecting mussels, abalone, and other shellfish. Archaeologists have found a disproportionate number of handstones and milling stones which shows that the Zuma Creek inhabitants gathered and processed large amounts of plant foods.

Near Santa Barbara, the Indian people of what archaeologists call the Campbell tradition were utilizing coast resources, including seal, fish, and shellfish.


Indian people occupied the Lower Jackson Mound site by 3000 BCE. Material remains at the site included small red jasper beads which were sometimes shaped in the form of an animal. Some frog effigies were also found at the site.

At what is now the campus of the Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Indian people built two conical mounds, the largest of which is 120 feet in diameter and 16 feet high.

Great Lakes Area:

In the Great Lakes area, there was an increase in population about 3000 BCE. The Indian people in this area, called Lake Forest Archaic by archaeologists, were hunting, gathering, and fishing. Deer, black bear, and beaver were frequently hunted.

In the Lake Superior region at this time, Indian people had started making copper tools. This included copper projectile points, axe and adze blades, wood splitting wedges, and fish hooks. They also made copper ornaments, including beads, bracelets, and headdress pieces.

Northern Plains:

The tool tradition which archaeologists call the Oxbow Complex emerged about 3000 BCE. The Oxbow point is characterized with shallow side-notches, a broad incurved base, and rounded lugs or ears. The Oxbow Complex tool kit included bi-face knives, small end scrapers, thin uni-face knives, and pebble hammerstones. The people at this time were exploiting bison, elk, wolf, coyote, fox, rabbit, martin, goose, frog, mussel, pronghorn, mountain sheep, birds, and small mammals.

Also in the Northern Plains at this time, the tool tradition which archaeologists call the McKean Complex emerged. This was a focus on communal buffalo kills as well as the communal hunting of deer, pronghorn, and mountain sheep. The McKean projectile point was lanceolate in shape. One of the distinctive features of this complex was the side-notched knife that is similar to a large projectile point. This tool would be resharpened on one blade edge until worn out and then discarded.


Along the lower Snake River in eastern Washington, the phase which archaeologists call the Tucannon phase had begun by 3000 BCE. The Tucannon tool kit included crudely chipped corner-notched and stemmed points, some chipped knives, and edge-flaked cobbles. There were also hopper mortars, pestles, and net sinkers made out of ground stone. The people at this time were hunting elk, deer, and antelope. They were also taking salmon from the river.

New Jersey:

About 3000 BCE, the Indian people in New Jersey were using cremation burials. This complex featured an elaborate pattern of mortuary ceremonialism that emphasized cremation. It also included the ritual use of red ochre. The burials included valuable, imported grave goods. It is not uncommon for grave goods to be “killed” (intentionally broken) in order to release the spirit of the item so that it can travel with the deceased to the afterlife.


In Maryland, Indian people were occupying the Accokeek Creek Site by 3000 BCE. They were using the site as a temporary hunting, fishing, and gathering camp. Indian people probably lived at this site for a few weeks or months each year. They would later abandon the locality for a few years or decades, and later reoccupy it seasonally for a while, and then again abandon the area. The Indian people at this time lived in small, family groups, probably having few or no social, political, or economic ties with any other group.

With regard to material culture, they carved bowls out of soapstone which they obtained from a site about 15 miles away. These bowls were oval, hemispherical, or roughly rectangular in shape. They had flat bottoms, and some had knobs on the sides for handles. The bowls generally held a quart or two.  


In Texas, burned rock middens began to appear about 3000 BCE as Indian people utilized high density food such as nut crops, deer, and rabbits. Several small bands would come together seasonally to occupy campsites where these foods were found.

Burned rock middens are mounded concentrations of burned limestone cobbles which can be up to an acre in size and up to two meters deep. Archaeologists feel that burned rock middens are the result of intensive plant-processing activities.

Indians 101: Lenni Lenape Migrations

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When the Europeans first arrived in North America the Lenni Lenape were living on the east coast near Chesapeake Bay. The Europeans would later give them the name Delaware.  The oral traditions of the Lenni Lenape-some of which were recorded pictorially on bark, a practice found among other Alongquian-speaking tribes-tell of their migrations from lands in the far west (interpreted as Central Asia) to the Atlantic coast.  

According to the Lenni Lenape oral tradition, they migrated east in North America until they came to the Mississippi River (Namaesi Sipu or River of Fish). Here they encountered the Iroquois who had also migrated from the west. Lenni Lenape scouts reported that the lands east of the Mississippi were inhabited by a very powerful nation, which they call Alligewi, who had many large towns built on the great rivers which flowed through the country. The Lenni Lenape sent a message to the Alligewi asking for permission to settle in their territory, but this request was refused. Instead, the Alligewi gave them permission to pass through the country to seek a settlement farther to the east.

After crossing the Mississippi to continue their migration to the east, the Lenni Lenape were suddenly attacked by the Alligewi. Forging an alliance with the Iroquois, the Lenni Lenape went to war against the powerful Alligewi who were living in fortified towns. No quarter was given, so that the Alligewi, finding that their destruction was inevitable, abandoned the country to the conquerors, and fled down the Mississippi river.

According to Lenni Lenape oral tradition, the war with the Alligewi lasted for many years. While many Lenni Lenape warriors were killed, their allies, the Iroquois, always hung back so that their losses were not so great. Still, following the war, the newly conquered land was divided between the Lenni Lenape and the Iroquois. The Iroquois took the lands to the north, in the vicinity of the Great Lakes, while the Lenni Lenape took the area to the south.

For a long period of time-perhaps many hundred years-the two nations resided peaceably in this country. During this time, some of their hunters and warriors crossed the great swamps, and then followed the streams eastward down to the great Bay River, and to Chesapeake Bay. In small groups, the Lenni Lenape settled on four great rivers which would later be called the Delaware, Hudson, Susquehannoah, and Potomack.

According to Lenni Lenape oral tradition, their nation divided into three separate groups: those who settled on the Atlantic coast, those who remained west of the Mississippi River, and those who were east of the Mississippi. With regard to those who remained west of the Mississippi, their oral tradition says

“the whole of their nation did not reach this country; that many remained behind in order to aid and assist that great body of their people, which had not crossed the Namaesi Sipu, but had retreated into the interior of the country on the other side, on being informed of the reception which those who had crossed had met with, and probably thinking that they had all been killed by the enemy.”

On the Atlantic coast, the Lenni Lenape divided themselves into three separate tribes: Turtle, Turkey, and Wolf. According to oral tradition, from these three tribes came many other tribes. In the east, they mixed with people from other tribes, intermarried, and merged languages. In this way, the Mohican people came into existence.  

More Thank You Pics from Rosebud Rez from our Propane Donation Drive

Sherry Cornelius aka lpggirl of St. Francis Energy has sent us more photos of our Rosebud rezidents saying *THANK YOU* to you all for helping them get through another harsh winter in South Dakota.

Below you’ll find more THANK YOU photos and details on how you can help. Please share these donation details with family and friends.

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 and Native American Netroots !

Sherry aka lpggirl had commentary to go with some of her pics. I’ll blockquote her comment with each pic.

Lillian  Walking Eagle and grand daughter : Lillian’s son Cornell said to put the caption “These two old ladies nearly froze.”  they have an old faulty ummm lpg space heater? not sure what they’re called.  housing is constantly being called by them and housing merely replaces the thermocouple.  i thought i heard liep had funds for furnaces so i told lillian about it.  i told my mom about lillian’s situation, and she called the VP willie kindle.  he said he would do something for this gramma.  wks later nothing is done for them.

there are 3 pics for the one house in mm (marshmellow housing) in rosebud; the mom, the dad, and the daughter.  i have never heard a “WHOO-HOO! We have hot water!” before, when you hear the magical sound of the water heater firing up.  and “Does this mean we don’t have to use this little electric heater?” sitting in the corner adjacent to the non-working wood stove (not pictured).  Giant hugs to you all from this family – all of them.

More from Sherry aka lpggirl:

the story behind the dangling lite fixture.  a few years ago when i first delivered lpg to faye blk bear out in corn creek, she was completely out of lpg so i had to do a leak check.  this requires that i go into the house.  that’s when i noticed the broken lite fixture.  when i got back to sf i told my mom of this. she called amos, the director of the housing authority, and the council rep for that community at that time.  i called the housing maintenance department and told them.  i also told an acquaintance, jodi (wife of rodney bordeaux), about this gramma’s broken lite fixture.  they all said they would do something.  years later still nothing has been done about it.

Dangling Light Fixture

the houses that all look alike ranch style, split-level, apts, duplexes; they’re all built and maintained by the rosebud housing authority (HUD houses i guess).  i think most were built in the 60’s.  i’ve noticed that most houses have elec cook stoves, and lpg water heaters and furnaces. some have working wood stoves.  i think a lot of people are using liep to pay for their electricity so when they run out of lpg they use a wood stove, if they have one, or heat the house with the elec. cooking stove and elec. heaters.

earlier this week when it was like 40 below.  i got “brain-freeze” a few times.  the only skin i had exposed was a strip right across my eyes (i forgot my shades that day, but definitely remembered them the next day!).  that was just a tad bit too cold that day.  first time i got brain freeze without eating or drinking anything cold.

it’s been snowing here all day long. [February 6, 2011]  the calm before the storm.  as soon as the winds pick up, here we go – instant ground blizzard. the weather says there’s two storms coming this week.  one tomorrow and one later in the week.

~only a couple more months left of this lovely weather~



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.

Help buy propane for Lakota families in South Dakota:

The *fastest* way to help is to pick up the phone and call with your credit card information. A family will get propane delivered either the same day or the next day.


Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2


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:

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

Attn: Sherry or Patsy

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

NOT tax deductible



You can also call Sherry’s cell phone: 605.208.8888 if the above line is busy.


The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday only 8-4:30pm MST

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

NOT tax deductible

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. This process takes about a week for the funds to hit the reservations so telephoning the propane companies directly is the fastest way to help.

Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots

 An ongoing series sponsored by the Native American Netroots team focusing on the current issues faced by American Indian Tribes and current solutions to those issues.



Retracing the Ancestors’ Steps

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The  ancestors would be pleased. Members of the Confederated Tribes on the Umatilla Indian Reservation went hunting with trucks and rifles, but kept to the spirit of the ancestors in their hunt.

“They’re letting our elders that have gone on now know we haven’t forgot what they’ve done,” said Fermore Craig, Sr., a tribal member who knows stories of the old hunters. “They broke that trail. Our elders made that trail for us to follow. We’ll keep that connection between the buffalo and us.”

Craig notes that the land remembers the people, and that the people remember the land.

Quakers and Indians

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A new religious movement began in England in the late 1640s. The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, felt that it was possible for individuals to have a direct experience of Jesus Christ without the mediation of clergy. In addition, they believed in the spiritual equality of women. These two things made it easier for Native Americans, with a shamanistic and egalitarian background, to accept the Quakers among them as missionaries.  

In 1681, King Charles II of England granted a land charter to William Penn. The friendly relations between the Quakers and American Indians began when William Penn signed a peace treaty with Tammany, the leader of the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) nation.

In 1755, the Quakers established the Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures. In establishing this charity, the Quakers hoped to return to the Indian-European relations that had been established by  William Penn. Unlike other European charities at this time, the new Quaker charity spent its funds on Indians. This caused many non-Quaker Europeans to resent the association. The new charity was intended to be as conspicuous as possible-to both Indians and Europeans-and therefore serve as a shining example of how intercultural relations could be conducted.

In 1760, the Munsee prophet Papounhan and 30 of his followers visited Philadelphia and asked to see the Friends (Quakers) about religion. Unlike other Christian groups, the Quakers did not condemn Indian religions. While in the city, the Indians regularly attended meetings for worship in the Quakers’ Greater Meetinghouse.

In 1765, Quaker missionary John Woolman preached to the Munsee and Delaware. He felt that the Delaware were already communing with the divine light inside them and he sought spiritual tutelage from the Indians. He wrote:

“in mine own eyes I appeared inferior to many amongst the Indians.”

In 1795, the Quakers appointed a committee for the civilization and welfare of Indians. The plan was to introduce among the Indians what the Europeans felt were the necessary arts of civilization, including animal husbandry and the mechanical arts. The following year, the Quakers began their Indian plan by sending tools to most of the Indian nations of the eastern United States.

Following their Indian plan, five Quakers arrived at the Seneca town of Jenuchshadago in 1795. The Seneca, under the leadership of Cornplanter, were hungry because floods and frost had damaged their corn harvest. After consideration of the Quaker request to live among them and teach them, Cornplanter told them:

“Brothers, you never wished our lands, you never wished any part of our lands, therefore we are determined to try to learn your ways.”

Unlike other Christian missionaries, the Society of Friends was willing to accept the theological validity of Indian religious experiences.  The Quakers concentrated on teaching some of the young people how to read and write in English and to teach men and women modern farming techniques. They incorporated moral advice into their practical instruction. In this way, the Quakers attempted to persuade the Seneca to be sober, clean, punctual, industrious: in other words, to take up the Protestant ethic without, necessarily, becoming Protestants.

In 1808, the Quaker missionary William Kirk supervised the Ohio Shawnee as they cleared 400 acres and planted new crops such as potatoes, cabbage, and turnips. The Shawnee purchased breeding stock hoping that hogs and cattle would eventually supply them with the meat they used to get through hunting.

While Kirk was successful in teaching the Shawnee the European methods of farming, he was lax with his paperwork. Having failed to file financial statements with Washington, his mission was terminated by the government. When Kirk left, the Shawnee lost their primary source of technical advice and their experiment in agriculture waned.

In 1827, Seneca leader Red Jacket traveled to New York City to talk with the Quakers about providing aid for his people. Red Jacket trusted few persons other than the Quakers, who could not be intimidated and who were quick to expose a fraud. However, the Quakers were involved with helping the Onondaga and did not have any resources with which they could respond to the Seneca request. Two years later, Red Jacket repeated his request and this time the Quakers provided the Seneca with both farm equipment and sound advice.

The heyday of Quaker involvement with Indians came with President Ulysses Grant’s 1869 Peace Policy in which the federal government turned over the administration of Indian reservation to Christian missionary groups.  

In Oklahoma, the Comanche and Kiowa were assigned to the Quakers and the army was removed from the reservation.

In Nebraska, the six reservations were placed in the care of the Hicksite Quakers, the liberal branch of the Society of Friends. A part of the Quaker plan to destroy the political and social structure of the Pawnee was the elimination of the Pawnee scouts, a group which had a long history of serving the United States army. As pacifists, the Quaker brotherhood made no allowance for the Pawnee culture, traditions, or experiences in which war experiences were glorified. Ignoring the reality of drought and grasshoppers, the Quakers saw farming as the way to convert the Pawnee.

The first Quaker Indian agent for the Big Blue Reservation (Otoe-Missouria) in Nebraska and Kansas, found 450 Otoe living in a 25-acre village which contained 30 earthlodges. The Otoe continued to use their traditional agricultural practices and to do some hunting. While the Quaker agents came with good intentions, they failed to understand the organization of the tribe. Therefore they disrupted the traditional leadership pattern, and contributed to tribal factionalism.

In Nebraska, the Quakers assumed control of the Omaha reservation. The tribal chiefs asked that the funds for the Presbyterian boarding school be withdrawn and that two day schools be established. The Quakers treated the Indians as spiritual equals but cultural inferiors who must learn European ways or perish. They stressed allotment of tribal lands and the creation of individual farms.

Overall, the Quaker experiences with the Indians during the 18th and 19th centuries were good with regard to religious tolerance. Many of the Indians, particularly those in the east, found it easy to incorporate Quaker spiritual concepts into their own religion. The Longhouse Religion, founded by Seneca religious leader Handsome Lake, for example, seems to have incorporated a number of Quaker teachings. On the other, the emphasis on war honors among the Plains tribes created some problems for the pacifistic Quakers.

During the 19th century, the Quakers were hampered by an ethnocentrism which saw the Euro-American way of life as superior to the Indian way of life. While Indian religious practices were tolerated, there was an emphasis on changing other aspects of Indian culture, including government and family.

Fort Vancouver (Photo Diary)

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The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) established Fort Vancouver 100 miles above the mouth of the Columbia River in what is now Washington state in 1825. From this post, it not only carried out trade with the Indian nations of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada, but it also launched trapping expeditions to harvest furs from the area. For the trapping expedition, HBC brought in Métis and Iroquois from Canada as well as Kanakas from Hawaii.

Fort Vancouver was a fort: the main buildings were surrounded by a high wooden stockade.

Fort Vancouver Stockade

The Fort is currently maintained by the National Park Service. Shown below is the warehouse where furs would have been stored:

Fort Vancouver 1

The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) was established by royal charter in 1670. The full name of the new corporation was Company of Adventurers of England Trading Into Hudson’s Bay. The original plan was to locate factories (i.e. trading posts) on the coast of Hudson’s Bay, then spread the word of the trading opportunities inland using local natives. These local natives would let other natives know that useful, good-quality trade goods awaited those groups who would come down to the bay to trade. The coast locations of the factories would make it easier to maintain the supply lines to England through a fleet of ships.

By the nineteenth century, HBC’s domination of the lucrative fur trade was being challenged by a Canadian company working out of Montreal: the North West Company. The Nor’westers had a different strategy: their traders went to the Natives instead of waiting for the Natives to come to them. By the time the Crown ordered the merger of the two companies, HBC had expanded its trading posts into the interior. Thus, in 1825, HBC established Fort Vancouver.  

Like all HBC trading posts, the trading post at Fort Vancouver (see picture below) carried both manufactured products from Europe and Native American products. The European products included blankets, beads, and metal items.

Trading Post

In 1780, HBC began using “point” blankets for trade. Each blanket had a small dark mark which was woven into the wool and represented the value of the blanket in made beaver. HBC blankets are still available and are shown below in the trading post.

HBC Blankets

Made beaver refers to beaver pelts which had been processed by the Indians for trade. A made beaver pelt is shown below:

Made Beaver

HBC not only traded the blankets, they also used them. Here is one of the dorm rooms for HBC employees with the HBC blankets on the beds.

HBC Beds

The living quarters for the factor and for the officers and their wives were quite elegant for frontier living. Shown below is part of the factor’s living quarters.

Living Room 2

dining room

Fort Vancouver had its own blacksmith shop where many of the metal goods-including traps and axes-were made.

Blacksmith 1

The fort had a well which was 35 to 40 feet deep. A well sweep-a large, crane-like structure-was used to bring the water up. The well sweep was counterbalanced so that the full bucket could be lifted from the well with minimal effort by one person.


Unfortunately, the outhouses lined the stockade wall fairly close to the well. As a result, the water was often contaminated which caused some health problems for the residents.

On June 14, 1860, the Hudson’s Bay Company abandoned Fort Vancouver and moved its operations north of the border.

News from Native American Netroots

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Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots

Welcome to News from Native American Netroots, a series focused on indigenous tribes primarily in the United States and Canada but inclusive of international peoples also.

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

Utahns fight death among American Indian babies

By Heather May

Utahns are helping develop a campaign to improve the health of American Indian babies and mothers.

As part of a national effort to reduce infant deaths among the group, American Indian mothers and fathers were invited to the Indian Walk-In Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday to brainstorm effective and culturally appropriate ways to promote healthy pregnancies and babies.

Debt and Tribal Payday Lenders

By Michael Hudson and David Heath

In the battle to shield themselves from lawsuits and government oversight, some high-interest payday lenders have found unlikely allies: Native American tribes.

In legal fights in California, New Mexico, West Virginia and Colorado, a group of Internet-based payday lenders have argued they are immune from lawsuits and regulation because they are “tribal enterprises.” They claim they enjoy tribal-nation sovereignty, which allows them to operate outside state oversight – even when they’re making loans to non-Native Americans living far from Indian lands.

Gathering of Nations wins Grammy for Native American album


The producers of “2010 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow: A Spirit’s Dance” won the award fro best Native American music album at the 53rd annual Grammys ceremony on Sunday night.

The album was recording during the 27th annual Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It features songs from several drum groups and performers.

The album was produced by Derek Mathews, Lita Mathews and Melonie Mathews.

The US Clean Energy Economy: Buy Indian

Ryan DreveskrachtThe change to a “clean energy economy” has become the Obama Administration’s tagline for pulling out of the recession by investing in renewable energy and clean technologies. The American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARRA) is one way the administration is walking the talk….

…..The application of an often-overlooked federal law may ensure that green energy investment stays in our economy, while at the same time fulfilling the government’s obligation to Native American tribes.

The Buy Indian Act (BIA) was introduced in 1910 as a way to promote the employment of American Indians and the sale of American Indian-made products. The BIA operates much like the Buy American Act, with a priority given to “the products of Indian industry.” The law directs prime contractors to use their best efforts to give Indian organizations and Indian-owned economic enterprises the “maximum practicable opportunity” to participate in subcontracts that it awards, and to do so to the fullest extent consistent with efficient performance of the contract.

Senator asks for hearings on Hawaii, Alaska Native American Contracting preferences


Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye wants his fellow Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka to hold hearings on Small Business Administration rules that give Native American groups in Alaska and Hawaii contracting preferences.

Inouye formally made the request in a letter to Akaka, who took over as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs last week. Hawaii’s senior U.S. senator wants the committee to review the importance of contracts given the Alaska Native Corporations, Native Hawaiian Organizations and tribal entities after a series of negative articles about the Alaska contracts in the Washington Post.

“The purposed of the hearing is to allow the SBA, ANCS, NHOs, Indian tribes, shareholders and other stakeholders the opportunity to demonstrate the importance and legitimacy of the program to Native communities in fulfilling self-determination and self-sufficiency,” said the letter written by Inouye and Alaska Sen. Mark Begich and obtained by the Artic Sounder, an Anchorage newspaper

Recall effort aims at Rosebud tribal president

Rapid City Journal Staff

A group of Rosebud Reservation residents critical of Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux are circulating recall petitions in an effort to remove him from office.

Organizers of the recall effort met Monday at the St. Francis Community Center to recruit volunteers to gather an estimated 800 signatures necessary to force a recall election. By tribal law, the signatures of 30 percent of the voters in the last tribal election are required for a recall vote, but that process has been slowed by the tribal secretary office’s delay in releasing a current voter list, according to petition organizers.

St. Francis Community Center chairman Ron Valandra, a former RST tribal council representative, and Whitey Scott, who lost to Bordeaux in the 2009 election, accuse his administration of failing to release a current voter list in a timely manner.

Ziebach County, South Dakota: America’s Poorest County

NOMAAN MERCHANT 02/13/11 03:48 PM

ZIEBACH COUNTY, S.D. – In the barren grasslands of Ziebach County, there’s almost nothing harder to find in winter than a job. This is America’s poorest county, where more than 60 percent of people live at or below the poverty line.

At a time when the weak economy is squeezing communities across the nation, recently released census figures show that nowhere are the numbers as bad as here – a county with 2,500 residents, most of them Cheyenne River Sioux Indians living on a reservation.

In the coldest months of the year, when seasonal construction work disappears and the South Dakota prairie freezes, unemployment among the Sioux can hit 90 percent.

More here.


Plateau Indian Names

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The Plateau is the area between the Cascade Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. It is bounded by the Fraser River to the north and the Blue Mountains to the South. It is an area that covers eastern Washington, northern Idaho, western Montana, and parts of Oregon and British Columbia. The Indian nations who inhabited this area have cultural ties to the Indian nations of the Pacific Coast and many of the Plateau nations interacted with the tribes of the Northern Plains.

Among the Plateau Indian nations, it was common for an individual to change names several times during the course of their life. Typically a person would have at least three names. If a name became inappropriate to a person’s personality, it was changed.  

Among many of the other Plateau tribes, children were not named when very young, because of infant and toddler mortality. Therefore, naming ceremonies were not usually held until the child was between the ages of six months and two years.

Among the Kootenai, children were normally given names by their parents at birth. Occasionally a council of elders would be consulted to suggest a name. The name often reflected the war honors of a relative. The name given at birth was usually kept for life. However, some medicine people did acquire a second name. Also, if a person felt that a name was unfortunate, it could be changed.  

Among the Wishram, the naming ceremony bestowed “personhood” upon the child: it provided the child with a genealogical and social identity. The name would come from a deceased relative and would be a name that had “lain fallow” for a period of time.

Among the tribes of the Dalles area, the naming ceremony borrowed from the feasting and gift-giving of the Northwest Coast tribes.

Among the Nez Perce children often were named after notable ancestors. They would be given these names with the hope that the child would develop similar qualities. New names might later be acquired which would recognize an important deed, a personal attribute, or a guardian spirit. The Nez Perce considered names to be private possessions of the person or the family.

Among the Flathead names often came from visions. If an individual had a dream or vision that brought good luck, then the individual might be named for it.  These visions came from a guardian or tutelary spirit. Often the spirit helpers would give an individual two names-one for use in the tribe, and the other a secret, spirit name to be used only when calling for help from his guardian spirit.

After the Flathead Reservation was created by the U.S. government in 1855, non-Indians would often be confused about Indian names. The names during this era were often a mixture of European names, influenced by Catholicism, and tribal names which were sometimes translated into English. For example, a Pend d’Oreille named Mescal Michel might marry a Flathead woman and settle among her people. The Flathead might them give him the name Many Bears. He joins a party of Nez Perce who are travelling to the Great Plains to hunt buffalo and they call him Shot His Horse in the Head. The Catholic priests baptize him and give him the name Joseph Peter Michel. The American settlers in the area call him Michel Joe. Thus one man might be known by different names among the different groups on the reservation.  

The Pemmican War

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When the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) was organized in 1670, it was granted a charter by the British Crown giving it a trading monopoly over the watershed of all of the rivers flowing into Hudson’s Bay. This territory, encompassing 1.5 million square miles, was named Rupert’s Land in honor of Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a nephew of King Charles I and the first governor of Hudson’s Bay Company. It included all of Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, southern Nunavut, the northern parts of Ontario, and portions of Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana.

Rupert's Land

The HBC fur traders often married into the Indian nations with whom they traded as this provided them access to the traditional trading system which was based on kinship. As a result of these marriages, a new group of people known as Métis emerged with a distinct culture that incorporated Native elements and European (mostly French and Scots) elements.


In 1811, Thomas Douglas, the 5th Earl of Selkirk, set up a colonization project known as the Red River Colony (also called the Selkirk Settlement) on 120,000 square miles of land granted to him by HBC. Selkirk’s interest in establishing a colony in the area was inspired by Sir Alexander MacKenzie’s book Travels from Montreal which glowingly described the economic potential of the region.  

Red River Colony

Selkirk, who had a controlling interest in HBC, also wanted the colony to block the fur trade from HBC’s arch rival, the North West Company (for whom MacKenzie had worked). With the colony in place, the Métis who had been supplying the Nor’westers would be displaced, thus cutting the rival fur company off from the fur and hide supply.

In 1814, the Governor of the Red River Colony issued a proclamation intended to limit the number of buffalo killed by the Métis. The proclamation inflamed the Met Métis is who in response called for a new sovereign nation in the Red River Valley for their people. The proclamation was ignored and the Métis purposefully killed more buffalo than they needed.

The buffalo meat was not exported, but was made into pemmican. It was consumed locally or sold to traders passing through the valley.

The following year, the governor of the Red River Colony forbade the export of staples.  He then confiscated four hundred bags of pemmican belonging to the North West Company. Finally, he ordered the North West Company to close its trading posts. The Nor’Westers and their Métis allies vowed to wage war on the colony. Cuthbert Grant became captain-general of the Métis militia groups and a Métis flag was designed.

Soon there were only 13 colonial families who had not been driven out and the governor surrendered. Bands of Métis razed farms and burned buildings in the colony.  

The Métis asked the Hudson’s Bay Company to remove the Red River Colony and to allow them the freedom to hunt buffalo. In addition, they asked that they not be subject to any local laws and that they share equally in the annuities given to the tribes. They made it clear that the Red River Métis identified themselves as having a distinctive lifestyle with values emphasizing the freedom to claim the benefits and privileges of both their maternal and fraternal heritage, whichever they wanted to choose.

The war escalated the following year when HBC captured and burned the North West Company’s Fort Gibraltar. Under the leadership of Cuthbert Grant, the Métis went to war against HBC by attacking and plundering Brandon House, a HBC trading post.

The Hudson’s Bay Company governor met with the Métis and read them a stern proclamation forbidding them to commit acts of violence against the Red River Colony. In response Cuthbert Grant shot the governor and started a short battle that ended in a Métis victory. The Pemmican War was no longer a commercial struggle between two rival fur companies, but it now became a guerrilla war.

In retaliation, the Earl of Selkirk led a mercenary army against the Nor’Westers and the Métis. He captured Fort William and arrested 15 senior North West Company partners, charging them with treason, conspiracy, and accessory to murder.  This ended the war, but the Red River Colony was never successful as an agricultural enterprise. In 1821, the Crown forced the merger of HBC and the Nor’westers.  

Pueblo Clowns

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One of the important features of Pueblo Indian cultures is the existence of clowns and clowning societies. The clowns often play a crucial role in ceremonies: they may mimic strangers and members of other tribes; they may reverse the normal order of things to provoke laughter, but in doing this they also reinforce, by their perversity, norms of behavior. While clowning is important to the Pueblo cultures, outsiders are sometimes offended by it. In 1920, the non-Indian principal of the Oraibi (Arizona) School interrupted a Hopi ceremony when he saw a clown dancer with a huge artificial penis. In the words of the principal, he stopped the ceremony and told the dancer “that if he ever did a thing like that again, I would put him in jail. He told me that he did not know it was wrong, that it was a Hopi custom.”

Clown 1

Generally, Pueblo clowning may include acts of gluttony, including eating the inedible; simulating sexual activities; begging; joking; burlesquing ritual and ceremony; performing skits which satirize individuals or elements of their own society; performing skits which satirize other societies (other pueblos, Navajos, and especially European-Americans); acting and speaking in opposites; inverse or backwards behavior; and doing virtually anything to make people laugh.

While clowning can be viewed as a form of comic relief from serious ritual activities, clowning is also a way of reinforcing social norms by openly breaking taboos and by reversing the normal. Clowning can be use to publicly shame potentially troublesome citizens into accepting community standards. The clowns thus serve as a kind of police force, dealing with social deviance to insure the smooth operation of village life.

The power invoked by clowns is the power of creation. That is, it serves as a reminder of the power that orders the world and gives value to its many parts. The clowns represent mankind in a pre-moral state. Among the Hopi, this is a state where the basic Hopi values-self-control in eating, decorous and respectful interpersonal relations, nonaggression, non-acquisitiveness, non-inquisitiveness, sexual modesty, etc.-are overturned, reversed, and burlesqued in the typical fashion of inversionary ritual. This serves to remind people of the importance of these values.

The Hopi view all human beings as clowns: the Hopi emerged in the beginning as clowns, and thus clowning symbolizes the sacredness of humanity and remind the people of the problems which are inherent in all people. The clowns stand the world on its head in order to reveal its rules and their necessity to abate chaos. While the clowns arouse laughter through their mockery, their actions have a serious purpose.  

Hano clown

At Cochití pueblo, the clowns-members of the Ku-sha’lí Society-wear distinctive outfits at the ceremonies. For the men, this means that the body is completely painted with alternating black and white stripes. Black rings are painted around the eyes and mouth. Cornhusks which form two horns are worn in the hair and owl feathers are attached to the head. The women paint their faces white and wear the traditional manta.

The Cochití clowns often exhibit obscenities. One non-Indian observer in 1880 described one incident this way:

“Sodomy, coitus, masturbation, etc., was performed to greatest perfection, men accoupling with each other on the ground or standing, and to the great delight of the spectators (certainly over one hundred), men, women, girls and boys, Mexicans and Indians looking on with the greatest ingenuity and innocence, not the slightest indecent look on the part of the women, and applauding the vilest motions.”

While outsiders have often misunderstood the meaning of the Pueblo clowns, and been offended by them, clowning was, and still is, an important part of Pueblo life.  

help me out

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I have been struggling with this for a long time… and I need someone to help me answer some questions. I grew up in a family with no identification of ancestry. All that I know about where I come from I found myself. My Grandfather is old now and he gave me a cedar chest full of old pictures and records of my family. I have always thought of myself as white but I didn’t know that I had much native blood until I went into the chest. All of these pictures I have found of my native grandmothers and grandfathers are amazing. I want so much to know about them but my grandfather won’t tell me much. All I know is what I have been told in pieces from my older family members. Muskogee, Navajo, Iriquois, Cherokee… this is what I have been told they were. Either way there is always something I can be proud of in all of my backgrounds. But what I really wanted to ask is how will other native peoples see me if I want to know more or spend time with them learning about my ancestry. I feel kind of lost to tell the truth and, I am thinking that you may not even want me here asking. If that is true then I will not bother you all anymore, just let me know. Thank you

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Northern Plains Indian Medicine Bundles

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The Northern Plains Indian medicine bundle is simply a collection of objects which symbolize a spiritual path. The use and nature of these bundles varies greatly among the various Indian Nations of the Northern Plains. In addition, some of the bundles are owned by individuals and are symbols of their individual spiritual paths, while others are owned by the tribes or tribal associations and are associated with the spiritual well-being of the larger group. In this diary, we are going to look at the personal medicine bundles.  

The personal medicine bundle is made in accordance with instructions received from spiritual helpers during the vision quest. The sacred contents of the bundle are symbols of power: they are not the spiritual power itself. Thus, if a personal medicine bundle is lost or stolen, the power is not lost as the individual has the power to remake the bundle.

With regard to the Crow, the initial power of the medicine bundle traditionally comes from a vision. The medicine bundle is therefore grounded in individual revelations. The spirituality of the bundle involves not only the assembly of the materials which it contains, but also the rituals of displaying these materials and the responsibility of bundle ownership. The function of the bundle is to care for general well-being and to prevent misfortune.

One example of the contents of a bundle and the symbolism of the objects within the bundle can be seen in the bundle of the Crow warrior Half Yellow Face. The main object in the medicine bundle was a flute painted with yellow lines. Carved into the flute were an elk’s head and a bighorn sheep’s head. Attached to the flute were curlew and red woodpecker feathers. An eagle feather hung from one end. Half Yellow Face did not put this bundle together but received it from another Crow warrior, Cold Face. The power in the bundle had been originally given by the Great Above Person to Cold Wind through the elk. Cold Wind had received the vision for the bundle while fasting on a high mountain top near the Stillwater River. Thus the symbolism of the elk and the bighorn sheep represent this original vision. The power of the bundle helped to protect Half Yellow Face in war and to find his enemies. The bundle also contained love medicine.

After the death of Crow medicine man Braided Tail, his skull was added to his bundle. In this way the bundle became an oracle to its owners. The bundle would tell its owners about the enemy-their location and the outcome of raids-as well as where to find game. The bundle could tell if a sick person would be cured and it could tell the location of missing property.

One object found in many medicine bundles is the Buffalo Stone. Buffalo Stones are small stones containing strong medicine which are found on the prairie. This stone is generally a fossil of some kind, and the stone itself takes the initiative in contacting humans and offering itself as a helper. For the Blackfoot, the stone will call out to the individual with a faint chirp. Traditionally, these stones gave the Blackfoot hunters great power in hunting buffalo.

Among the Mandan, there are personal medicine bundles which are owned by both men and women. These personal bundles were assembled as tangible evidence of visionary contact with a specific spirit. If this spiritual power was deemed inadequate a bundle might be disposed of and another vision sought. Each bundle has its own sacred songs and rituals associated with its opening. The Mandan ceremonial bundle is a collection of objects which serve as aids in remembering the sequence and content of the origin stories.  Bundles owned by women are often associated with healing.

Among the Mandan, personal bundles are passed down from generation to generation in a matrilineal fashion. Thus, a man may inherit a bundle from his mother’s relatives, but not from his father. Before inheriting a bundle, however, a man has to show that he is worthy of it. Traditionally, this was done by giving feasts to the bundle at various times.

Among the Plains Cree, a vision might give an individual the ability to make a bundle containing war equipment to protect the wearer from wounds and other hazards. When bundle contents were worn in battle or for ceremonial occasions, a cloth had to be given to the bundle. When any bundle was opened, a pipe offering had to be made.

Among some tribes, such as the Blackfoot and the Crow, it is felt that the power of a medicine bundle can be transferred from one individual to another. Among the Crow, the owner of the bundle has the power to sell the bundle, along with its associated ceremonies, to someone else. The special talismans from a bundle can be sold three times and still retain the spiritual powers. In transferring the spiritual power of the medicine bundle, the original owner adopts the person wanting the bundle in a ceremonial process that began and ended with a sacred sweat lodge ceremony and prayer.

The Crow warrior Two Leggings explains why some men would buy a medicine bundle:

“Some of us bought powerful medicine bundles from well-known medicine men even if we had a vision of our own because we wanted their power and their sacred helpers.”

Among the Blackfoot, personal medicine bundles were assembled in accordance with personal visions. While the bundle originated with the owner’s vision, the owner could sell the bundle to another person. The songs and other knowledge associated with the bundle remained the personal possession of the individual until he was willing to transfer the bundle and the spiritual power which it represents to another.

No photographs of medicine bundles have been included here as most Native elders feel that it is improper to photograph the bundles and their contents. While there are many photographs of these bundles, it would be inappropriate and disrespectful to show them here.

Indians 101: The Wea

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The Wea are a relatively unknown tribe who were living in the Ohio Valley with the Miami and the Piankashaw when first encountered by the Europeans. Their tribal name has been recorded a number of ways including Ouaouiatanoukak, Aoiatenon, Wah-we-ah-tung-ong, Warraghtinooks, and Wyantanons. While the Wea are often grouped as a part of the Miami and merged into this tribe during the 19th century, they were a distinct and independent tribe prior to this time.  

Wea Culture:

Linguistically, the Wea spoke an Algonquian language and are closely related to the Miami, Piankashaw, Atchatchakangouen, Kilatika, Mengakonkia, and Pepikokia.

The Wea were affiliated with the Illinois Confederacy. The Illinois (or Illini) were a confederacy of Algonquian-speaking groups which included the Kaskaskia, Tamaroa, Tapouaro, Coiracoentanon, Moingwena, Espeminkia, Chinkoa, Chepoussa, Kahoki, Michigami, Wea, Piankeshaw, Peoria, Mascouten, and Miami. This confederacy was one of the largest American Indian groups in the Central United States area at the time of the first European contacts. The confederacy in 1670 had a population of about 10,500.

Prior to European contact, the Wea were a hunting, fishing, and gathering people. Following European contact, they became so involved with the fur trade that they replaced their summer hunt with summer fishing so that they would take animals only at a time when their hides would be good for trading.

The Wea also raised some corn and the early European explorers remarked on their extensive corn fields.

Traditionally, the Wea occupied both a summer village and a winter hunting camp. The summer village would usually be located along a stream or river. A large council house would be used for public meetings.

Children were often named by an elderly woman selected by the mother. This name would often be associated with the child’s clan. As an adult, people could change their names in order to avoid illness or misfortune.

Physical punishment of children was extremely rare. However, it was common for the children to be lectured daily on proper behavior. At puberty, both the boys and the girls would undergo a vision-quest. Children would begin preparing for the vision quest while quite young by fasting for periods of increasing lengths.

With regard to families, the Wea, like many other Algonquian-speaking tribes, had patrilineal clans. Thus, each person belonged to the clan or extended family of the father. The number of Wea clans and their names is no longer remembered.

As with many other tribes in the area, each Wea band or village had more than one chief. Peace chiefs were concerned with the administration of daily life and were not allowed to participate in war parties. Peace chiefs were expected to provide for those in need and therefore their property was available to anyone who needed it.  

War chiefs were primarily concerned with the ritual aspects of war. The decision to go to war would have been traditionally made by a council of war chiefs. There is some evidence that each clan may have had a war chief.

While the peace chiefs and war chiefs were usually men, the Wea also had female chiefs who supervised major feasts and prepared the supplies for war parties. As with other tribes in the area, women could also participate in war parties.

A Brief History:

In 1650, the population of the Miami, including the Wea and the Piankashaw, in the Ohio Valley was estimated at 4,500.  The largest of the Wea settlements at this time as Ouiatenon.

In 1658, the Mascouten and the Wea established a mixed village near Green Bay, Wisconsin. Two years later, they moved their village to the Fox River portage south of Lake Winnebago. The village at Green Bay was too exposed to attack by the Iroquois. In spite of this move, in 1665 the village was attacked by the Iroquois.

In 1750, the Wea under the leadership of Le Comte settle at Old Briton’s Miami village of Pickawillany in present-day Ohio. The Wea felt that they had been ignored by the French and Pickawillany served as a British trading post. The following year, the Wea and the Piankashaw signed a treaty with the British and accepted an alliance with the Pennsylvania colony.

In 1764, the population of the Miami, including the Wea and Piankashaw, was estimated at 1,750 which was a decrease from a population of 4,500 in 1650.

During the American Revolution, the Miami, knowing that the loss of their lands would be a consequence of an American victory, allied themselves with the British. Initially, the Wea declared their neutrality, but later joined with the Miami to oppose the Americans.

In 1791, the Miami under the leadership of Little Turtle and the Shawnee under the leadership of Blue Jacket attacked the encampment of the new territorial governor. In a battle that lasted for about three hours, the Americans were defeated. In their retreat they left behind 630 dead and 283 wounded. While this was a major defeat for the American military, there was retaliation by both the army and by militia groups. Since the Wea were a part of the Miami, part of this retaliation focused on them.

President George Washington ordered the Brigadier General of Kentucky to lead a punitive expedition against the Wea settlements. The American forces-33 officers and 760 mounted Kentucky volunteers-attacked Ouiatenon. The Wea were caught unaware and panic ensued. The Americans captured 41 women and children, burned the village, and destroyed several hundred acres of growing corn.

The following year, Henry Knox, the Secretary of War, sent a letter to the Indians in the Old Northwest Territory addressing their concerns that the United States wants to drive them out:

“We should be greatly gratified with the opportunity of imparting to you all of the blessings of civilized life, of teaching you how to cultivate the earth, and raise corn; to raise oxen, sheep, and other domestic animals; to build comfortable houses, and to educate your children, so as ever to dwell upon the land.”

Knox, like many Americans both at the time and still today, was apparently unaware that the Indians had been farming for many centuries and that their agricultural surpluses had supported the early European colonists.

In 1805, in the Old Northwest Territory, the Wyandot, Chippewa, Ottawa, Munsee, Delaware, Shawnee, Potawatomi, Miami, Eel River, and Wea gave up claims to land in Ohio and Indiana. The negotiations were undertaken on behalf of the Connecticut Land Company, in spite of the fact that negotiations for land by private companies or states was not allowed under federal law.

The Wea migrated from Illinois to Missouri in 1820.

Treaties were signed in Washington, D.C. in 1854 with the Otoe, Missouria, Omaha, Delaware, Shawnee, Peoria, Piankashaw, Wea, and Miami.  As a result of these treaties, the tribes ceded nearly 14 million acres to the United States.

In 1854, the Wea and the Piankashaw formally merged with the remnants of the Illinois tribes and became the Confederated Peoria. After this time, the Wea ceased to exist as a separate and independent tribe.  

Dominionism’s Threat Against Indian Country

( – promoted by navajo)

Religion and state have united to assimilate the American Indian in the past, such as with Ulysses S. Grant’s Peace Policy that created the Indian Boarding Schools, and in more recent times such as  “‘pro-Peabody Western Coal’ Indians and obtaining a false ‘Hopi-Navajo’ Tribal Counsel designation by the Bureau of Indian Affairs…” who were  several First Mesa Hopi who had been converted to Mormonism.  ‘Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them,’ and you cannot change what you do not acknowledge.

Indian Boarding Schools with the “incest, child abuse, hostage negotiations, kidnapping, and religious abuse” that accompanied it created two things in the victims: trauma bonds and Stockholm Syndrome by definition.


Exploitive relationships can create trauma bonds-chains that link a victim to someone who is dangerous to them. Divorce, employee relations, litigation of any type, incest and child abuse, family and marital systems, domestic violence, hostage negotiations, kidnapping, professional exploitation and religious abuse are all areas of trauma bonding. All these relationship share one thing: they are situations of incredible intensity or importance where there is an exploitation of trust or power.


This sort of betrayal creates something called a trauma bond or betrayal bond. A trauma bond is where an intense, traumatic experience or betrayal of trust takes place, forming an equally intense relationship/bond with the perpetrator. It is related to Stockholm Syndrome, after the hostages of Stockholm bankrobbers who waited for them to get out of jail a decade later and defended them — and one even got engaged to one of them.

Stockholm Syndrome explains why that when a new student began attending an Indian Boarding School and spoke their tribal language, students who had been attending that Indian Boarding School mocked the new student for speaking the language. “Exploitive relationships (were created) can create trauma bonds-chains that link(ed) a victim to someone who is (was) dangerous to them” between the children and the teachers. The authentic self being lost, mirroring and defending the cultural genocide inflicted upon them by their perpetrators was a defense mechanism to cover up the original pain. So, Dominionism’s threat against Indian Country is not merely external in terms of land theft, but also internal: striking at the very core the authentic self.

“Our communities are still struggling with the consequences of forced assimilation through religious and education institutions designed to ‘kill the Indian’ in us,” said Innu human rights lawyer Armand MacKenzie, who attended a residential school in Quebec.

Christian Crees Tear Down Sweat Lodge

Meanwhile, the Oujé-Bougoumou band council notified Lana Wapachee by letter in early December that several elders and community members were coming to her property to take the sweat lodge down. And they did. It was dismantled on Dec. 6 as Mianscum and dozens of community members stood witness. Police said the outer structure had to be dismantled as well. All the materials were left in a pile in the yard.

The ban-believed to be the first of its kind-signals trouble ahead for tribal governments that choose Christian beliefs over tribal traditions, according to some observers, who blame the heavy influence of Christian churches that often denounce traditional First Nations spiritual beliefs. “Our communities are still struggling with the consequences of forced assimilation through religious and education institutions designed to ‘kill the Indian’ in us,” said Innu human rights lawyer Armand MacKenzie, who attended a residential school in Quebec.

First Mesa Hopi who had been converted to Mormonism.

By Dan Katchongva, Sun Clan (Ca. 1865-1972) Translated by Danaqyumptewa

Now this Tribal Council was formed illegally, even according to whiteman’s laws. We traditional leaders have disapproved and protested from the start. In spite of this they have been organized and recognized by the United States Government for the purpose of disguising its wrong-doings to the outside world. We do not have representatives in this organization, nor are we legally subject to their regulations and programs. We Hopi are an independent sovereign nation, by the law of the Great Spirit, but the United States Government does not want to recognize the aboriginal leaders of this land. Instead, he recognizes only what he himself has created out of today’s children in order to carry out his scheme to claim all of our land.

Dominionism’s threat against Indian Country is not merely external in terms of land theft, but also internal: striking at the very core the authentic self.

American Activism too Privileged & Bogged: Europeans Maintain Efforts for Big Mountain

“The BIA Indian police are intensifying their daily presence and intimidations. They have graded the main dirt roads that allows them to be on constant patrol..”I think that they will be rounding up Dineh-owned cattle and horses. It is pretty likely that there will be livestock impoundments or confiscation… Indian police operating out of the Hopi reservation do not have any real commanding-authority..”

Three members from the Hopi Tribe arrived to give their testimonies as show support for their neighbors, The Dine. Their presence dispelled the public relations myth that the traditional Hopi and the Dine are involved in a Range War.”

America’s West Bank (Edited and New Info.)

John Boyden with his “several First Mesa Hopi who had been converted to Mormonism ” wanted Peabody Coal to strip mine Black Mesa after the natural resources had been discovered. More than 10,000 Navajo and 100 Hopi did not want Black Mesa stripped.

Dominionism’s threat against Indian Country is not merely external in terms of land theft, but also internal: striking at the very core the authentic self.


On Tuesday, May 20th, key traditional elder resister to the relocation laws, Pauline Whitesinger, was served a notice to halt “new” construction of an earth lodge commonly known as a hogan, and this notice was served by Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agency deputized officers, Hopi Tribal Range Technicians. In addition to this warning about “illegal” construction activity, officers attempted to get personal information from a non-Indian volunteer helper and sheepherder. The issued notice also stated that elder Whitesinger is having an “unauthorized” guest and thus, she is violating ‘laws’ of the Hopi Tribe.

I am not a psychologist and I have no major research study to cite in connection with the specifics contained herein, so this is my opinion. I offer the information to be considered. So too, consider why: Scott MacLeod of HEALING for the NATIVES MINISTRIES is convinced “dismantling of the cement tomb over the mass grave” at Wounded Knee is sound judgment; why Jay Swallow teaches “the prophetic act of smashing pottery (Native American) that depicted Baal and Leviathan;” why the drafters of the Genocide Convention severely weakened the prevention part of their goal when they cut out of their document the prohibition and punishability of acts of cultural genocide;” and, why  “Charles Hanson suggested Black Elk regretted his Catholicism in 1948.”


I think, that the greatest pain in this life is not being yourself, and the solution lies in helping our brothers and sisters be themselves.

“I searched for my brother and could not find him

I searched for my God and he was no where to be found

When I found myself; I found all three.”

(author unknown)

Ancient America: Some Ancient Buffalo Hunters

( – promoted by navajo)

About 11,000 years ago, the North American climate changed: it became warmer (by about 13 degrees Fahrenheit) and drier. There was also an increase in the seasonal extremes: summers were warmer and winters were colder.  The large Pleistocene mammals such as the mammoth, which had once dominated the landscape, became scarcer. By 8,000 years ago many of the megafauna had become extinct. Extinction is a natural evolutionary development. For Indian people, this change meant that their cultures had to change so that they could adapt to the new environment. One cultural adaptation to this new environment was the Folsom cultural complex.  

The Folsom cultural complex takes its name from an archaeological site in Folsom, New Mexico in which a spear point was found embedded in an ancient bison. Geographically, Folsom culture spread eastward from the Rocky Mountains across the Great Plains. It extended from North Dakota to Mexico. It seems to be centered along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. There are, however, some Folsom sites west of the Rocky Mountains, particularly in Idaho.

The lifestyle of the Folsom people appears to have been centered around bison hunting. The people lived in small bands-perhaps less than 20 members during much of the year-and these small bands would periodically join together for trade and socializing. During much of the year they travelled in a systematic fashion to different resource areas on the Great Plains.

The Folsom hunters hunted Bison antiquus which were several hundred pounds larger and carried horns each about 12 inches (30 centimeters) longer than those on today’s Bison bison. Folsom hunters skillfully used the natural topographic features of the land, such as arroyos, to trap the buffalo in large numbers. As successful buffalo hunters, the Folsom people had a great deal of knowledge not only about the buffalo itself, but also about the overall environment.

The skeleton of a Bison antiquus is shown below:

Bison Antiquus

Folsom buffalo kills generally involved less than 30 animals and most frequently happened in the winter. It was not uncommon for the hunters to take choice cuts from the animal and then freeze them to keep them edible until warm weather arrived.

Bison butchering often took place at special processing sites next to the kill sites. Here the meat was prepared for transport by cutting it into large packages. In some instances, the tibia and the femur were removed to reduce the weight.

The Folsom people also hunted other animals such as mountain sheep, elk, deer, marmot, and cottontail rabbit. At the Lindenmeier site in Colorado archaeologists found that the Folsom people were butchering buffalo as well as other animals. The camp space was divided into different activity areas for manufacturing various items from bone, including jewelry. Some of the obsidian used for the stone tools at the Lindenmeier site were originally quarried in Yellowstone National Park, about 350 miles to the north. Other obsidian was quarried in central New Mexico, about 350 miles to the south. This had led some archaeologists to suggest that the site was used by two different bands who rendezvoused periodically at the site.

The Lindenmeier site is shown below:

Lindenmeier Site

In the Central Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico Folsom campsites were located on ridges overlooking water holes. The Folsom hunters would apparently surprise the animals as they came to drink from the water holes.

At a site near Midland, Texas, which is dated at 8900 BCE, Folsom people were using small beads made from bone – 1.6 mm in diameter as decorative items. The quality of the bone beads was as fine as the best hishe beads (diskshaped shell beads with a single hole in the middle) created by contemporary Indian bead makers using modern equipment.

Folsom people are known for their fluted spear points which were smaller and more delicate than the earlier Clovis points. The Folsom projectile point is recognized throughout the Americas for its unique design, exceptional workmanship, and the high-quality raw materials from which they are manufactured.  On the other hand, their stone knives hide scrapers, and butchering tools were not as finely made as were their projectile points.

Folsom Point

In addition to the atlatl (a spear-thrower which used a spear tipped with the Folsom point), the Folsom tool kit included ultra-thin bifacial knives, flake knives, gravers, spokeshaves, drills, end and side scrapers, chippers, and abrading stones. They used various mineral pigments and therefore had pigment grinding stones.

The Folsom tool kit was not limited to stone: the sophisticated toolmaking exhibited in their lithic work also extended into their work with wood and bone. They made eyed-bone needles and they decorated bone with fine incised lines. This is also an indication that the people were making tailored clothing.

By about 8000 BCE, Folsom culture was evolving into more localized hunting and gathering adaptations.