Tlingit Migrations

The Northwest Coast, one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse culture areas in North America, occupies the area between the Pacific Coast and the mountains from Alaska through northern California. The Tlingit are the northernmost tribe in the Northwest Coast Culture Area. At the time of European contact, the Tlingit homelands included the coast regions and islands of what is now southern Alaska and northern British Columbia.

The Northwest Coast is usually divided into three distinct cultural provinces with the Northern Province including the Tlingit, Tsimshian (Nisg’a), Haida, Haihai, and Haisla tribes. The social structure of these tribes was rigidly organized and hierarchical. Among these tribes, the primary units of social organization were the clan and the village.

In the traditional pre-European villages each of the houses within the village was associated with an extended clan and each clan had certain privileges, which included fishing, hunting, and gathering rights as well as ceremonial rights (such as ownership of songs and dances).

Concerning the location of Tlingit villages, German geographer Aurel Krause, in his 1885 book The Tlingit Indians: Results of a Trip to the Northwest Coast of America and the Bering Straits, reports:  “Since fishing supplies the principal subsistence of these people, the choice of a place for settlement depends largely on the proximity of good fishing grounds and safe landing places for canoes.”

Some Tlingit villages consisted of only a few houses which were placed in a single row while other villages might have as many as 60 houses which might be arranged in two rows. Among the Tlingit, each house had a fixed place in the village and could not be moved to another place. If the house became too small, then annexes were built, but these were considered to be part of the original house.

Clans are named, extended family units which often are corporate in nature (that is, they will have a formal leader and possess property) and are usually exogamous (requiring marriage outside of the clan.) The clan not only lived under the same roof, but the house served as a clan symbol. The front of the house was often painted with a family crest design.

Among the Tlingit, descent is matrilineal. This means that people belong to the same clan as their mother. Thus, a village leader’s position would be inherited by his nephew (his sister’s son) rather than by his own son.

Tlingit clans are linked together in a phratry system. This means that each clan is linked to another with a set of social and ceremonial obligations.

The Tlingit were 18 distinct and autonomous groups. Each group felt that it was distinct from the others and had its own unique origins and ancestry. Ethnographer Kalervo Oberg, in The Social Economy of the Tlingit Indians, reports:  “The clan has a name denoting its place of origin, a story of its genesis, and a history of its migration.”

Tlingit oral tradition speaks of a gradual migration northward from the mouths of the Nass and the Stikine rivers. According to the stories, the clans would remain near a certain river for a long time. Then there would be a quarrel—usually over women or wealth—and the village would break apart with one portion going off in search of new territories.

The Tlingit acquired new territory by settling on lands that were unclaimed by any other group, by negotiating agreements to share certain lands, and by conquest. In their migrations northward, the Tlingit often came into contact with Athabascans who had come down the rivers to the coast. In some instances, the Tlingit simply drove the Athabascans away and in other instances the two groups intermingled.

When they acquired unclaimed land, the Tlingit would give the place a name and settle there. If only one clan settled a new area, they would invite members of a clan from the opposite phratry to join them.

By the time the first Europeans began to explore the Pacific coast of Alaska in the eighteenth century, the Tlingit had a long history of living in the area. The Tlingit had their first contact with Europeans in 1786 when a Spanish expedition landed at Lituja Bay. In trading with the Tlingit, the Spanish noticed that they were very aware of iron and many carried an iron dagger in a leather sheath around the neck. This suggested that they had traded with people from Asia.

Alaska Before 6000 BCE

Archaeologists usually classify the period between 25,000 BCE and 6,000 BCE in Alaska as Stage 1, an era in which the first evidence of human habitation occurs. During much of this time, much of North America was under glacial ice and the sea levels were much lower. In the lower forty-eight states of the U.S., the time period known as the Archaic begins about 6,000 BCE. By 5,000 BCE, the ice had retreated and the sea levels had risen to approximately their current levels.

In general, the archaeological data for human occupation during this time tends to be scarce. Don Dumond, in a chapter in the Handbook of North American Indians, summarizes the data:  “Excepting some few bone artifacts that can be placed only inferentially within a wider cultural context, debris that is of clearly attested antiquity and of absolutely indisputable human origin is almost totally confined to stone assemblages that are largely composed of products of the plentiful production of microblades and blades from cores of a certain variety in size and shape, but with some significant portion of the blades pressed or struck from well-formed cores of carefully constructed wedge shape.”

Microblades are fairly small stone blades which are usually placed in a wooden or bone handle to form a spearpoint, knife, or other cutting tool. Overall, the stone tools from this time are similar to those found in Siberia from the same time period.

Listed below are a few of the archaeological sites in Alaska from this time period.

By 13,000 BCE, people were occupying the Trail Creek Caves on the Seward Peninsula. They were hunting bison and horses. In order to prevent their dogs from damaging the animal hides while hunting, they broke the canine teeth. At this time, Alaska was still connected to Asia by the Bering Land Bridge.

By 12,000 BCE, Indian people were occupying the Swan Point site in the Tanana Valley. With regard to artifacts, they were using microblades.

In 11,600 BCE, Indian people were using the Mesa site.

By 9,800 BCE people were occupying sites in the Nenana and Tanana River Valleys. They were making fluted projectile points, bifaces, and unifacial end and side scrapers. They were hunting mammoths as well as other now-extinct Ice Age mammals.  They were also eating cranes, ducks, swans, wild geese, beaver, squirrel, and caribou. At the Broken Mammoth site, Indian people had a microblade industry.

With regard to the now discredited idea that Clovis people were the first Americans, anthropologist James Dixon, in his Bones, Boats, and Bison: Archeology and the First Colonization of Western North America, writes:  “The differences between the type of artifacts from these sites and Clovis sites to the south suggest to some archeologists that these early sites are not directly related.”

Some anthropologists consider the Nenana industry in Alaska to be similar to the Upper Paleolithic industries which are found in Siberia.

In 9,710 BCE, Indian people at the Swan Point site in the Tanana Valley were making a variety of stone tools, including microblades, dihedral burins, pebble hammers, and split quartz pebble tools. They were also shaping mammoth ivory.

In 9,710 BCE, Indian people at the Spein Mountain site were using lanceolate points which resembled the points at the Mesa site.

By 9,660 BCE, Indian people had re-occupied the Mesa site on the north side of Brooks Range. Among the tools being used at this time were lanceolate projectile points, thin bifaces used as knives, and hammer and anvil stones. Most of the projectile points—80%—were bifaces. The projectile points have a concave base with some thinning, although this is not true fluting, and they have heavily ground proximal edges and bases.

Some anthropologists feel that the Mesa Complex tools are similar in technology to the Agate Basin and Hell Gap points which are found on the High Plains of the Lower Forty-Eight and Canada. However, the Mesa Complex points have concave bases which are like the Goshen and Plainview points, which are also found primarily in the Lower Forty-Eight.

In 9,500 BCE, Indian people at the Upper Sun River site had a subsistence pattern which included fish, birds, and small game. They occupied a seasonal semisubterranean house at the site in the summer. A three-year-old child—dubbed Xaasaa Cheege Ts’eniin (Upward Sun River Mouth Child, in Athabascan) was buried at the site.

In 9,470 BCE, Indian people began to occupy the Putu site on the north flank of the Brooks Range. They were using both fluted and non-fluted points. The fluted points were made from obsidian and chert. They were also using burins and flakes similar to the Denali complex.

In 9,470 BCE, Indian people began to occupy the Healy Lake Village site in the Tanana Valley.

In 9,000 BCE, people using a microblade tradition reached the western portion of the state from Asia. Archaeologist Stuart Fiedel, in his Prehistory of the Americas, reports:  “The Paleo-arctic tradition was clearly derived from northeastern Asia, where similar microblades, struck from small wedge-shaped cores, were present in the Dyuktai culture of Siberia by 14,000 B.C., and were used in northern Japan by 8,000 B.C.”

In 9,000 BCE, people using the Chindadn tool complex were using the Dry Creek site in the Nenana River Valley.

In 8,740 BCE, people using microblades occupied the Dry Lake site. Their tool kit included burinated flakes, lake biface blades and smaller bifaces that were used as knives.

In 8,343 BCE, Indian people were now occupying the Hidden Falls site on Baranoff Island. The people were using a microblade technology.

In 8,300 BCE, Indian people occupied the Broken Mammoth site. They were hunting bison, elk, river otter, Dall sheep, porcupine, ground squirrel, marmot, red squirrel, goose, duck, and ptarmigan. They were also involved in fishing.

By 8,320 BCE Indian people were living at Ground Hog Bay in southeastern Alaska.

In the interior of Alaska, Indian people occupied the Panguingue Creek site by 8,200 BCE. They were using lanceolate projectile points.

In 8,050 BCE, Indian people began to occupy the Spein Mountain site east of the present-day town of Bethel. At this time there were no trees in the region.

In 7,907 BCE, the Akmak site was occupied. The stone tools included end scrapers, gouges, knives, and shaft straighteners. Douglas Anderson, in the Handbook of North American Indians, writes:  “Narrow grooved shaft straighteners of basalt suggest that bows and arrows were used.”

The microblades at the site were of a type found in sites in Siberia, Mongolia, Japan, and central Alaska. Douglas Anderson writes:   “During the last centuries of the Bering land bridge and for several millennia afterward, Arctic groups throughout eastern Siberia and Alaska must have remained part of a broad interaction network.”

Akmak was a dwelling site. Douglas Anderson writes:  “The Akmak people who used the site carried out a wide range of activities including hide preparation, butchering, carving on hard and soft materials (perhaps on ivory), planing, chopping, and the manufacture of weapons. Stone tools apparently were finished and resharpened at the site but were blocked out or made elsewhere.”

In 7,700 BCE, Indian people at the Onion Portage site were using the Akmak assemblage which includes microblades.

In southeastern Alaska by 7,500 BCE, Indian people were engaged in a coastal marine subsistence pattern which includes fishing and the gathering of shellfish. Almost all of the diet was based on marine foods. With regard to On-Your-Knees Cave (49-PET-408), anthropologist James Dixon writes:  “Discoveries at this site inferentially demonstrate that humans living along the coast of Southeast Alaska were using watercraft, were primarily dependent on marine foods, had established trade networks, and were capable of intercoastal navigation by 9,200 B.P.”  (note: B.P. means “before present,” which means before 1950—when radiocarbon dating began. B.C.E. means “before current era.”)

The DNA from the remains of one individual in the cave carries markers which were found in people living on Siberia’s Chukotka peninsula.

Indian people with a maritime economy were living on Prince of Wales Island off the coast of Alaska by 7,200 BCE. The obsidian for the microblade tools which they were using comes from Mount Edziza, which is on the mainland about 120 miles away.

By this time, the trading of obsidian and quartz crystals by watercraft routes was widespread along the northwestern Pacific Coast from the Queen Charlotte Islands to southeast Alaska.

In 7,120 BCE, the Indian people using the Trail Creek caves had a microblade technology. The caves at this time were serving as shelter and a lookout for caribou hunters.

Indian people using microblades were living on Baranoff Island in southern Alaska by 7,110 BCEE.

The tiny southern Aleutian island of Anangula was occupied by 6,750 BCE. Philip Kopper, in The Smithsonian Book of North American Indians: Before the Coming of the Europeans, reports:  “The place was virtually barren of vegetation—no trees and only a few berries and greens in summer, together with indigestible grasses. Fish, shellfish, birds, and sea mammals sustained the people.”   Kopper also reports:  “In Anangula the houses were small, oval, semi-subterranean structures with frames of driftwood covered with matting and live sod rooted in an insulating layer of earth.”

About 75 people lived on the island. The village was not a seasonal camp, but was permanently occupied.

The stone technology is a core and blade tradition which looks like it was strongly influenced by the stone technology of northeastern Asia. Allen McCartney, in the Handbook of North American Indians, writes:  “The Anangula core and blade assemblage is the oldest known evidence of human occupation in the Aleutian chain.”  McCartney also reports:  “The Anangula assemblage is dominated by small to large blades struck from polyhedral cores of wedge and other shapes, and flakes and platform tablets from this manufacturing technique.”

At the time of first occupation, Anangula appears to have been an island which means that the first inhabitants would have had to have boats. Allen McCartney writes:  “The location on the Bering Sea coast, of course, suggests that Anangula people were marine-oriented, but there is no direct evidence that they possessed boats or the degree of maritime expertise expressed by later Aleuts.”

In the interior of Alaska, Indian people were using the Carlo Creek site in the Nenana River Valley as a fall and winter hunting camp by 6500 BCE. They were hunting caribou, sheep, and ground squirrel.

In 6,500 BCE, Indian people at the Goldstream Creek site near the present-day town of Fox were using bone projectile points. According to anthropologist James Dixon:  “Similar large bone projectile points, possibly atlatl dart points, may have been an important component of Northern Paleoindian tradition weapon systems.”

In 6,500 BCE, Kobuk complex hunters were using campsites along the edges of the Kobuk River. Douglas Anderson writes:  “The ancient hunters made camp fires of willow branches and, in some cases, of caribou bone. Their fires were relatively small and frequently did not get hot enough to oxidize the moist sand upon which the fires were built.”

The tiny southern Aleutian island of Anangula was abandoned when volcanic ash blanketed the island in 6,250 BCE.

 Indian people in southeastern Alaska were using a variety of stone tools, including microblades, anvil stones, hammerstones, and whetstones by 6,230 BCE. They were gathering shellfish, including horse clam and sea urchin. They were hunting seals, sea lions, and beaver.

 

First Nations News & Views: AIDS/HIV awareness, Lakota block pipeline trucks, mass hanging memorial

Welcome to the eighth edition of First Nations News & Views. This weekly series is one element in the “Invisible Indians” project put together by Meteor Blades and me, with assistance from the Native American Netroots Group. Last week’s edition is here. In this edition you will find a focus on Native and AIDS/HIV, a look at the year 1824 in American Indian history, five news briefs and some linkable bulleted briefs. Click on any of the headlines below to take you directly to that section of News & Views or to any of our earlier editions.

The Red Road Needs More Than Red Ribbons

By Aji

KyleThumb When you think of the face of HIV/AIDS, it probably doesn’t look like this – but maybe it should. Meet Kyle. He’s a young American Indian man. And he’s HIV-positive.

Tuesday, March 20, is National Native HIV and AIDS Awareness Day.

American Indians now constitute the third-fastest-growing ethnic group with new diagnoses of HIV and AIDS: 10.4 for every 100,000 persons. At first glance, that number seems much smaller than the rate for Hispanics, at 27.8/100,000, and that for African Americans, at 71.3/100,000.

However, the numbers are deceptive. First, as with everything else related to American Indian health, rates of HIV and AIDS are without doubt substantially underreported. Second, “current” estimates are already seven years out of date: The most recent global figures compiled by the Centers for Disease Control are from 2005, and the trends indicate greater rates of infection since then. Indian youth are becoming infected with HIV at faster rates than whites, with shorter survival times.

Third, talking about rates of HIV/AIDS in American Indian communities in terms of numbers per 100,000 population misses the forest for the trees. In the 2010 census, a mere 5.2 million people identified themselves as American Indians, either wholly or in part. That’s only 1.7% of the total U.S. population of some 308 million people. At that level, a diagnosis rate of 1/100th of a percent is a great deal more significant for the entire ethnic group.

And, according to CDC research covering diagnoses between 1997 and 2004, of all ethnic groups, American Indians and African Americans have the shortest rates of post-diagnosis survival: 67% and 66%, respectively, at the end of the period’s nine-year follow-up.

For a demographic in which 26% of those infected don’t even know they have HIV, awareness has now become a matter of both individual and ethnic survival.

It can be disheartening to read the literature of the world of HIV/AIDS awareness and outreach. Even efforts geared toward people of color regularly omit American Indians. Those that do remember to include them too often do so from a dominant-culture perspective that doesn’t even realize that there are cultural and other differences that must be recognized and incorporated into any successful outreach program. This approach makes Indian health, wellness and survival a mere afterthought. And all the red ribbons in the world won’t do a thing to increase awareness of the growing threat that HIV and AIDS present to our communities, much less enhance prevention and ensure survival.

The good news is that several Indian nations have already taken steps to create HIV/AIDS awareness, education, diagnosis, and treatment programs that are culturally relevant and respectful of tradition. Partnering with the Indian Health Service and other public health entities, these efforts target this most underrepresented and underserved of populations in concrete ways.

The Navajo Nation helps administer perhaps the most comprehensive programs currently in existence. The Navajo AIDS Network, founded by Melvin Harrison, partners with the Gallup [New Mexico] Indian Medical Center to provide counseling and case management services to Navajo patients diagnosed with HIV. The group also offers testing and educational services.  

The GIMC itself is a valuable resource: Geared explicitly toward tribal members, it works closely with both the Indian Health Service and traditional hataa’lii, or medicine persons, to provide comprehensive medical and spiritual healing for HIV and AIDS (as well as for any other illness, injury or condition).

The lack of awareness spurred the 2006-2007 Miss Navajo Nation, Jocelyn Billy, to make HIV/AIDS education and outreach the service program for her year in office. Ms. Billy connected with the young people, the group most at risk, and helped adults navigate the gaps between traditional ways and modern medical realities.

Admirable as such efforts are, they aren’t enough, of course. What’s needed is the sort of full-bore commitment to HIV/AIDS awareness in Indian Country that is seen in other public health contexts – for cancer, heart disease or illnesses that are not seen as belonging to some marginalized “other.” On March 14, the White House announced that President Obama has appointed Dr. Grant Colfax as the new director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.Colfax is widely regarded as a public health expert on HIV and AIDS. Now would be a good time to push him and his agency to expand their work to include culturally appropriate outreach, education and treatment among our Native populations.  

The models are already there: Other programs are taking shape around the country.  For a glimpse of some of the events currently planned for Native communities for the coming week, visit NHAAD.org’s site, which features a clickable map.  

You can learn more about Kyle’s daily journey on the Red Road, living as an Indian with HIV, at The Positive Project.

Navajo Wedding Basket divider, Navajo Wedding Basket divider

This week in American Indian History in 1824

By Meteor Blades

Thomas McKenney

On March 11, 1824, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was established. That it was set up, without congressional authorization, as a division of the War Department explains the prevailing view at the time. In fact, Indian affairs had been handled by the War Department since 1789, having been during the Revolution and its aftermath in the hands of three commissioners who included Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry. Ironically, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, who invented the BIA, appointed Thomas McKenney, a Quaker, as its first superintendent. McKenney had been Superintendent of Indian Trade from 1816 until 1822 when the 16-year-old trade program was abolished. Among other things, McKenney took to calling it the Office of Indians Affairs, a name that stuck until authority was transferred to the Interior Department 25 years later.

McKenney worked diligently to get the OIA made official. In 1829, Congress did so, establishing a budget and giving the president authority to appoint a Commissioner of Indian Affairs who reported to the Secretary of War and had responsibility for “the direction and management of all Indian affairs, and all matters arising out of Indian relations.” 

McKenney was a great believer in “civilizing” American Indians but, during his six years at the OIA, he became a vigorous proponent of removing Indians to places west of the Mississippi River. The removed Indians included the Cherokee who had become so “civilized” that thousands of them were literate in their own language with its own alphabet when they were marched out of their homeland at gunpoint. McKenney lost his job in 1830 because another great believer in removing Indians when he wasn’t actively engaged in killing them-Andrew Jackson-disagreed with his view that  “the Indian was, in his intellectual and moral structure, our equal.” McKenney was shocked when he later saw how brutal the murderous removals actually were in practice.

When the Interior Department was established in 1849, the OIA was moved out of the War Department and permanently named the BIA, as Calhoun had intended from the beginning. Over the next 18 years, much of its work related to distributing aid, including food, both to Indians who had been removed and were now starving in their strange new environments, and to others who had signed treaties providing annuities in exchange for great swaths of their land. Corruption was the rule of the day. Indian agents, who often bribed their way into office, cheated the tribes of what was due them in various ways, many of them becoming wealthy buying secondhand goods and wormy food with Washington’s allocated funds for the tribes and pocketing the difference.

A congressional investigation in 1867 made recommendations for modest changes, some of which were enacted. However, a proposal to remove the BIA from Interior and make it an independent agency failed. In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed his Civil War adjustant, Ely Parker (Seneca) as the first commissioner of the BIA with Native blood. For the next two years, under Grant’s “peace policy,” military conflict with the tribes was greatly reduced. But after Parker left office, that changed again. Indians were fought, defeated and corralled onto ever smaller pieces of land, often far from their home territory. By 1900, the BIA had effectively become tribal government for all intents and purposes.

Over the next century, the BIA was investigated, reformed and reorganized several times as Indian policy went from the devastating allotment period that led to the seizure of tens of thousands of acres of land, the reestablishment tribal governments under the New Deal, the termination policies of the 1950s and 1960s during which more land was taken, and the turn toward more tribal sovereignty in the ’70s and ’80s as a partial consequence of red militancy emerging out of the broader civil rights movement. 

Today, the BIA remains at Interior and holds nearly 56 million acres of land in trust for 566 Indian tribes and Alaskan Natives. How that land gets exploited by non-Indians remains a major point of contention between the bureau and many tribes. The BIA also runs Indian schools and Indian child welfare. It provides funding and training for police forces, tribal courts, reservation road building and other operations in cooperation with tribal governments. Where once Indian employees were rare, they now make up the vast majority of the bureau’s workforce, which is headed by Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echohawk (Pawnee). Having Indians in charge has not stopped many other Indians from continuing to call the agency the Bureau of Incompetence and Arrogance.

•••

Additional information about the BIA can be found in this diary by Ojibwa.

More below:

FNNVs News Briefs Divider, San Serif

Oglalas Face Criminal Charges for Civil Disobedience Related to Canadian Tar Sands

By navajo

Debra White Plume, Lakota Blockade

First Nations people in Canada and the United States have been in the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline ever since builder TransCanada proposed it years ago. The 1661-mile pipeline is designed to carry bitumen from the Alberta tar sands deposits to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas where it can be turned into oil. Along with other foes, some Indians were arrested last summer during protests against the pipeline at the White House.

Earlier this month, Lakotas on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southern South Dakota stepped up their opposition by blocking a highway when two massive trucks headed for the tar-sands mines forced a reservation motorist to pull off the road. Several of them were arrested but they vow to keep up their opposition.

The blockade got underway March 5 after word reached Debra White Plume (Oglala)that trucks carrying unusual covered cargo were making their way down the relatively narrow reservation highway not built for such heavy vehicles. White Plume, who was arrested last year in the White House protests, and whom climate-change activist Bill McKibben calls his “hero,” went into action when she heard that “Calgary, Alberta, Canada” was written on the side of the trucks from the Trotan company. She wasted no time in rallying her people and rushing to intercept the trucks. While she was en route, social media and the local reservation radio station, KILI, went into action, calling all able- bodied people to show up and support the blockade.

Marie Randall, Marie Brush Breaker Randall, Oyate Akitapi Win - Nation Woman, who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the small hamlet of Wanblee, South Dakota
Marie Brush Breaker Randall 

or Grandma Marie, 92 

(Oglala Lakota)

Nearly 75 people eventually arrived, including 92-year-old Marie Brush Breaker Randall (Oglala), who is called Grandma Marie by everyone on the reservation, and another revered elder, Renabelle Bad Cob (Oglala), who came in her wheelchair. 

Grandma Marie, her given name is Oyate Akitapi Win-Nation Woman (Oglala), lives in Wanblee, the word for “eagle” in Lakota. Her work includes raising awareness about diabetes and teaching the Lakota language to the next generation of Oglalas at Crazy Horse High School.

Her eloquent statements to the tribal police about the reasons for the human blockade are documented in this video that has had over 23,000 views since March 6. She says the road traverses Lakota land and asks the truckers who gave them permission to drive through. Why, she asks, didn’t they take much-faster state roads? In fact, who can travel on reservation roads has been long established by the courts, and the truckers were within the law.

Video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/embed/9…

The truckers, who were bringing their cargo from Texas, told blockade leaders that they had not been told their designated route would take them through Indian Country. They produced papers showing they “…each carried a ‘treater vessel’ which is used to separate gas and oil and other elements. Each weighs 229,155 pounds [far more than the residential roads are built to handle] and is valued at $1,259,593…” White Plume says in the video that the truckers also told them that the corporate office in Canada and the state of South Dakota made a deal to save the corporation $50,000 per truck by driving through the reservation to avoid state weighing stations. Randall proposed that the reservation needs to set up its own weigh stations. 

The prevailing attitude of the peaceful blockaders was we will not stand down whatever the cost. 

After six hours, the tribal police showed up and asked everyone to leave. Five Lakota refused. So Alex White Plume, Debra White Plume, Andrew Ironshell, Sam Long Black Cat and Don Ironshell were arrested and charged with the only thing police could come up with, disorderly conduct. They were booked and released. Debra White Plume:

We stood our ground for our land, our treaty rights, our human rights to clean drinking water and our coming generations. We did this in solidarity with the First Nations people in Canada who are being killed by the tar sands oil mine, which is so big it can be seen from outer space, it is as big as the state of Florida. It didn’t matter where the heavy haul was going, either to the tarsands oil killing fields, or another oil mine, we didn’t want it crossing our lands, until the Tribal Police could get there and determine under whose authority they got onto the Reservation

The huge trucks could not be turned around easily, so they were escorted off the reservation by the tribal police.

After the blockade, Debra White Plume says the Associated Press incorrectly attributed to her statements about what she was told. She said the reporter wrote in a story that appeared in the Argus Leader and Rapid City Journal that “the truckers told the group they were heading to a Canadian oil field with empty containers for drinking water,” when the truckers actually told her they were carrying treater vessels. The AP article also said a spokesperson for TransCanada had denied the trucks or their cargo had anything to do with the tar sands or the pipeline.

People on other reservations are organizing and preparing to block future Trotan convoys if they try to transit through their reservations. This likely generated new charges against the previously arrested five Oglalas have been told they now face.

According to a posting on Andrew Ironshell’s Facebook page, tribal Attorney General Rae Ann Red Owl is compiling a list of as many as eight charges put together with FBI involvement. A trial date will be set sometime in the coming week. The five arrested protesters have been told not to speak with the media and not to return to the blockade site on the highway. They may travel to Wanblee, but cannot pass through, which is something Ironshell called “ironic, huh?” the blockaders now blocked. “Will the OST [Oglala Sioux Tribe] Tribal Court support the values of the community or the interests of a corporate US Congress and a foreign company – TransCanada?”

On March 7, Alex White Plume wrote that the acting chief judge of the OST will handle the case and that Judge Fred Cedar Face has been recused. This presents an issue of fairness, White Plume wrote, because Cedar Face knows Oglala customs and speaks Lakota but the acting chief judge, who is not Oglala, does not.

Meanwhile, next Thursday, President Obama will visit Cushing, Okla., a major hub of oil pipelines. TransCanada has been given the green-light to build the southern leg of the Keystone XL from Cushing to Texas refineries at Port Arthur. Many foes of Keystone view the president’s “welcoming” statement regarding that section of the pipeline as an indication he will approve the whole project once the company has provided an alternative route that avoids the ecologically fragile Sandhills of Nebraska, a major focus of the opposition to TransCanada’s original rejected application.

NAN Line Separater

Dakota Descendants Seek Memorial for Largest U.S. Mass Execution

By Meteor Blades

Vernell and Ernest Wabasha with young relative

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the largest mass execution in U.S. history. On Dec. 26, 1862, on the direct orders of President Abraham Lincoln, 38 eastern Dakota (Sioux) men were sent to the gallows in Mankato, Minn., the penultimate act in the six-week-long Dakota War of 1862, also known as the Sioux Uprising. The final act was the expulsion of the Dakota from Minnesota and the termination of their reservations in the state.

Now, direct descendants of those hanged that day want to establish a memorial to them in Reconciliation Park in Mankato. But the majority of the city council, after informally approving the memorial, retreated recently by tabling formal consideration. Calling up old language, one councilman spoke of the “hostility” in the words of a 1971 poem that supporters of the memorial want included on it. That poem, which the councilman called divisive and untrue had nothing to do with reconciliation, he said.

Like hundreds of conflicts in the Indian wars before and after, the 1862 Dakota resistance arose out of broken promises. Before the ink was dry on the 1851 Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, Congress had stricken the crucial Article 3. This guaranteed a strip of land 70 miles long and 10 miles wide on each side of the Minnesota River for a reservation. Instead, Congress bought the land for 10 cents an acre and annuities.  

Jerome Big Eagle

(Mdewakanton Dakota)

Soon the Dakota were confined to the strip on the south side of the river. Payment of annuities were often late when they weren’t diverted by greedy, unscrupulous Indian agents who had bribed their way into office. They stole from the Dakota by various means. By the late 1850s, deprived or their best hunting grounds, plagued by rough winters and failed crops, the starving Dakota became ever more dependent on government food distributions. These too were often late and, thanks to government contractors and agents, consisted of substandard goods when they arrived at all. The Dakota became increasingly incensed over land encroachments and the failure to enforce the treaty rights they had forced to exchange for money and goods.

The push into a smaller space was meant to force the Dakota to adopt a new way of life. Chief Big Eagle said many years later, “It seemed too sudden to make a change […] If the Indians had tried to make the whites live like them, the whites would have resisted and it was the same with many Indians.”

Though accounts of his specific words vary, storekeeper Andrew J. Myrick inflamed passions in August 1862, by remarking at a meeting where Dakota representatives sought to buy food on credit, “If they are hungry, let them eat grass.” Several days after the meeting, four hungry and enraged Rice Creek Dakotas took it out on five settlers near Acton, Minn. Those killings spurred Dakota chief Little Crow to call a council that chose to go to war. Soon after the fighting broke out, Myrick was found dead with grass stuffed in his mouth.

The conflict ultimately killed some 500 whites and an uncounted number of Dakotas, including the 38 who were hanged in December that year. At one point, thinking the uprising might be part of a Rebel conspiracy, President Lincoln pondered the option of freeing 10,000 Confederate POWs to fight the Dakota under Union commanders. Before that could happen, however, the war was over.

In late September, a five-member military commission was convened. On the first day, 10 Dakota were sentenced to death. So it went for six weeks, 393 cases, 323 convictions, 303 death sentences. Thanks to pleas from an episcopal bishop, Lincoln commuted the sentences of all but 39, and one additional man was later granted a reprieve. The day after Christmas, chanting their death songs, they marched single file onto the gallows in Mankato and were hanged. Seven months later, Little Crow – who had escaped to Canada before the trial but returned to Minnesota – was killed by a white settler who shot him for a $500 bounty. Little Crow’s scalp and skull were displayed in St. Paul and finally returned to his grandson in 1971.

The proposed memorial

Minnesota Gov. Rudy Perpich declared 1987, the 125th anniversary of the executions, a “Year of Reconciliation.” Out of that came Reconciliation Park in Mankato, where today there is a plaque and two sculptures, one of a Dakota “Winter Warrior” and one of a bison, both victims of the Manifest Destiny that generated the 1862 uprising in the first place.

But those sculptures aren’t enough for Vernal Wabasha (Dakota). She and others want a memorial in the park for those executed. “They have markers all along the road about our savage Indians attacking white people,” said Wabasha, who has been married to Ernest Wabasha, a hereditary Dakota chief, for 56 years. He is the sixth chief of that name. The third one was chief at the time of the executions. Said Vernell Wabasha: “These men fought for the Dakota way of life, trying to hang onto something, to hang onto this land for the future generations of their children and grandchildren. […] They weren’t savages like they’ve been depicted for so long,”

Designed by Linda Bernard and Martin Barnard (Dakota), the proposed memorial lists the 38 names on a 10-by-4-foot scroll. The phrase “forgive everyone everything” circles the monument, planned to be 20 feet in diameter. The names on one of the fiberglass scrolls will face south because the Dakota traditionally believe the spirits of the dead rise on the fourth day and travel south.

On the other scroll was to be a poem about executions written in 1971 by the state’s former human rights commissioner, Conrad Balfour. But that 20-line verse is what prompted the city council to back off endorsing the memorial two weeks ago. Among the criticized lines:

The day before the countryside had mourned the

death of Christ the Jew

Then went to bed to rise again to crucify the

captured Sioux […]

Then Captain Dooley cut the rope

38 was cleared of breath

Christmas day the children laughed and churches prayed the blessing set

In that town was 38 was blessed

Peace on earth good will to men

A few days after the council’s action, a bland new poem was written by Katherine Hughes that is more to the liking of at least some councilmembers:

Remember the innocent dead,

Both Dakota and white,

Victims of events they could not control.

Remember the guilty dead,

Both white and Dakota,

Whom reason abandoned.

Regret the times and attitudes

That brought dishonor

To both cultures.

Respect the deeds and kindnesses

that brought honor

To both cultures

Hope for a future

When memories remain,

Balanced by forgiveness.

While several councilmembers have said the new poem is acceptable, Vernell Wabasha is withholding judgment. Nothing is “chiseled in stone,” she said.

Cost of the memorial is estimated at between $55,000 and $75,000. Thus, if it is approved, fund-raising is next on the agenda. Wabasha, the Barnards and supporters of the project hope finished it by September, in time for the Mankato wacipi (pow-wow) gathering.

The names of the 38 who were executed:

Ti-hdo-ni-ca (One Who Jealously Guards His Home)

Ptan Du-ta (Scarlet Otter)

Oyate Ta-wa (His People)

Hin-han-sun-ko-yag-ma-ni (One Who Walks Clothed In Owl Feathers)

Ma-za Bo-mdu (Iron Blower)

Wa-hpe Duta (Scarlet Leaf)

Wa-hi-na (I Came)

Sna Ma-ni (Tinkling Walker)

Hda In-yan-ka (Rattling Runner)

Do-wan-s-a (Sings A Lot)

He-pan (Second Born Male Child)

Sun-ka ska (White Dog)

Tun-kan I-ca-hda ma-ni (One Who Walks By His Grandfather)

I-te Du-ta (Scarlet Face)

Ka-mde-ca (Broken Into Pieces)

He pi-da (Third Born Male)

Ma-kpi-ya (Cut Nose)

Henry Milord

Wa-kin-yan-na (Little Thunder)

Cas-ke-da (First Born)

Baptiste Campbell

Ta-te Ka-ga (Wind Maker)

He In-Kpa (The Tip Of The Horn)

Hypolite Ange

Na-pe-sni (Fearless)

Wa-kan Tanka (Great Spirit)

Tun-kan Ko-yag I-na-zin (One Who Stands Cloaked In Stone)

Ma-ka-ta I-na-zin (One Who Stands On The Earth)

Maza Kute-mani (One Who Shoots As He Walks)

Ta-te Hdi-da (Wind Comes Home)

Wa-si-cun (White Man)

A-i-ca-ga (To Grow Upon)

Ho-i-tan-in-ku (Returning Clear Voice)

Ce-tan Hu-nka (Elder Hawk)

Can ka-hda (Near The Woods)

Hda-hin-hde (Sudden Rattle)

Oyate A-ku (He Brings The People)

Ma-hu-we-hi (He Comes For Me)

NAN Line Separater

Ancient Alutiiq Kayak to Revive Construction Knowledge

By navajo

Illustration of an Alutiiq Hunter

Alutiiq seal-skin kayaks were usually buried with their owners. But one dating back nearly a century and a half has been stored at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology since 1869. Now, with help from two visiting Alutiiqs from Alaska – Alfred Naumoff, the last traditionally trained Alutiiq kayak-maker and seal-skin sewer Susan Malutin – researchers hope to learn more about the kayak and take efforts to preserve it before it is moved to the Alutiiq Museum on long-term loan.

When he was a teenager, Naumoff began to ask tribal elders about traditional kayak-making. On his trip to Cambridge he identified many components of the kayak that the researchers did not previously understand, such as that it had been made for a right-hander and that the craftspeople engaged in a long process to ensure the seal skins produced a light weight, yet extremely durable covering for the kayak.

For centuries, kayaks were central to the lives of the people of the southern Alaskan coast.

“I heard a reference that to insult somebody, you said, ‘Your father had no kayak,'” [Alutiiq Museum Director Sven] Haakanson said with a laugh. Alutiiqs used their kayaks to fish for porpoise, to hunt seals, whales and sea lions, as well as for traveling through the Aleutians and, at least once, as far as San Francisco, he said. “It was critical. Without having those skills to go out and kayak, you were going to starve. You couldn’t survive in Kodiak without that knowledge.”

The ancient Alutiiq way of hunting was replaced upon contact with Russian and European invaders who had modern boats and firearms. Assimilation and persecution took effect and traditional kayak-making, like language and other cultural elements, began a path toward extinction.

When the Peabody researchers complete their work, the kayak will be moved to the Alutiiq Museum. “It is hoped it can be used to invigorate the next generation’s interest in Alutiiq traditions and repatriate the knowledge,” Haakanson said.

h/t to GreyHawk

NAN Line Separater

Youngest Iditarod Winner Ever Followed Trail of Ancient Alaskan Natives

By navajo and Meteor Blades

Iditarod dogs, Photo Courtesy of Frank Kovalchek

-Photo Courtesy of Frank Kovalchek

Part of what is now the Iditarod Trail was used by the Native American Inupiak and Athabascan peoples hundreds or more years before Russian fur traders began traveling that route in the 1800s. Now, it’s famous for the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The 2011 winner was John Baker, a 48-year-old Inupiak, the first Native to win the race since 1976. It was his 15th Iditarod. His lead dogs were Velvet and Snickers. They, Baker and the other dogs on the team covered the race in 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds, slicing three hours off the previous record.

That record was not eclipsed by this year’s winner of the 40th Iditarod, Dallas Seavey, from Willow, Alaska. At 25, Seavey is the youngest musher ever to win. His lead dogs were Guinness and Diesel. It took them 9 days, 4 hours, 29 minutes and 26 seconds to complete the grueling race. His father won the race in 2004. His grandfather, now 74, competed in the first Iditarod in 1972.

Two women, Libby Shaw and Susan Butcher, won the Iditarod in the 1980s. Butcher won four times, having lost her chance to become the first women to win in 1985 when her sled rounded a sharp turn and ran into a pregnant moose that killed two and injured five of her dogs. A woman, veteran musher Aliy Zirkle, came in second this year.

NAN Line Separater

Drunken Indian Poster Celebrates Record Company’s Anniversary

By Meteor Blades

Jonathan Fischer wondered this past week whether the poster advertising a “Pow Wow Party” for Windian Records’ third anniversary had crossed the line.

Is that a Native American? With fangs and exaggerated features? And an intoxicated look? Yes, it is all of those things.

But is it racist? One Washington City Paper contributor thought so, and he let the label know via Twitter. To which Windian proprietor Travis Jackson tweeted back, with his usual caps-lock affect: “HOW IS IT RACIST? ITS JUST ART MAN. BESIDES, IM NATIVE, AND IM NOT OFFENDED…HOW ARE YOU?”

Jackson, former drummer of the garage band The Points, sometimes calls himself “Beeronimo,” claims his grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee and “celebrate my heritage loudly, thru rock and roll music and art.” The Windian logo itself is a Plains Indian wearing a battered feather headdress and a puzzled expression. The fanged pow-wow drawing, which looks a lot like some now-abandoned sports-team logos, is typical, Jackson says, of the work of the artist, Ben Lyon. But Lyon’s work published on-line contains no fanged, besotted caricatures of other people of color. Nothing minstrelsy or lazy-Mexican-style.

Via email, Fischer asked Jackson what was up with the poster and he replied: “Its rock and roll. Its art. Its influenced from 50-60’s Rock N Roll art and culture. Its nothing new, its been done many times over.”

Yes, racist images are indeed nothing new and have been done plenty of times. You can still find wooden “cigar-store” Indians in front of small-town shops the way black lawn jockeys once populated so many front yards.

Ben Lyon himself wrote: “I know I’m not a racist. I think anyone offended enough to make a big stink over the art on a poster for a punk show, that they probably aren’t gonna attend in the first place, probably needs to get a life. Leave it to white American 20-somethings to see a neo-nazi lurking behind every tree.(ha ha!) Who says Indians can only be drawn as stern wisemen? Sounds like stereotyping to me! (ha ha) I would have no problem showing the poster to any of my Native American friends. I stand by my work.”

By March 14, Windian Records has replaced the show poster with a new one. Could “Beeronimo” have wised up?

NAN Line Separater

Last Fluent Speaker of ‘Kiksht’ Language Dies in Oregon: Gladys Thompson, (Wasco) 97, learned Kiksht from her parents and was also fluent in Ichishkiin and Sahaptin. Honored by the Oregon Legislature in 2007 for working to preserve the culture of the Wasco Tribe and keeping the Kiksht and Ichishkiin languages alive, Thompson also helped pass a bill to certify native language teachers. At the time she had 26 grandchildren, 78 great-grandchildren, and 23 great-great-grandchildren.

-navajo

Larry Echo Hawk Receives the 2012 Governmental Leadership Award from NCAI: Echo Hawk (Pawnee) was appointed in May 2009 as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, a position that oversees 10,000 employees in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education. The National Congress of American Indians, the nation’s oldest and most representative body of Indians, has made the award for the past 13 years. In 2011, it went to then-Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli. Echo Hawk said: “The work we do at Indian Affairs is a rewarding experience in and of itself. It reminds me daily of my civic duty and loyalty toward my tribe, my people, my heritage, Indian Country and America.”

-Meteor Blades

Native Youth and Young Adults Smoke the Most: A 920-page report released by the U.S. Surgeon General shows that American Indian youth (12-17) and young adults (18-25)  are far more likely to smoke tobacco than any other racial/ethnic group in their age bracket. Nearly 50 percent of young adult Indians smoke. The only good news is that there has been a sharp drop in smoking among these cohorts over the past few years.

-Meteor Blades

High-Tech Glass Helps Ojibwes Connect with Beauty of Ancestral Homeland: When the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe built its new government center on the shores of the eastern Minnesota lake to which it has strong ancestral ties, it included large windows so tribal employees could enjoy the view and connect with the outdoors. But when the sun reflects off the water, they have to pull the blinds. Unhappy with that, the band installed SageGlass® in the nine south-facing windows in the wall of the conference room. The glass electronically (and automatically) tints itself and eliminates the need for blinds. The glare is eliminated but employees and visitors have an unobstructed view of the lake.

-Meteor Blades

Sixteen-Year-Old Learns Ojibwe in 10 Days: Tim, who runs the YouTube channel PolyglotPal’s, has taught himself several languages via computer, including Russian, Pashto, two Arabic dialects, Hindi and the American Indian language Ojibwe. You can watch him speaking Ojibwe, or Anishinaabe (with subtitles) here.

-Meteor Blades

Oregon May Ban Schools’ Use of Indian Nicknames for Their Teams: The state board of education has held hearings on whether to force 15 Oregon high schools to stop using Indian nicknames, logos and mascots for sports teams. About 20 schools dropped the usage in the 1970s, but the rest have hung on despite a 2007 recommendation that they be dropped. As elsewhere, some Indians support the ban; others do not. One Indian on the state board, Chairwoman Brenda Frank (Klamath), wants to see the nicknames go. Numerous studies cited by the American Psychological Association say the names, logos and mascots give Indian children a negative self-image. According to psychology professor Andrae Brown, who testified before the board, the use of the nicknames and associated material “undermines the ability of American Indian nations to portray accurate and respectful images of their culture, spirituality and traditions.”

-Meteor Blades

A New TV Series, Navajo Cops premieres on National Geographic Channel: Perhaps the most unusual “cops” series yet, the 17-million-acre reservation is the main challenge the tribal police face, but the scenery shots are a bonus. Officers with traditional views are featured. One policeman washes himself with bitter herb for protection, and many on the force take calls about witchcraft seriously. Clips can be seen here.

-navajo with a h/t to Ed Tracey

Bald Eagle Kill OKed for Northern Arapaho Tribe Under pressure from a lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given an extremely rare approval for kill two bald eagles for religious purposes by the Northern Arapaho of Wyoming. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act forbids killing the eagles or possession of any parts of the birds by non-Indians. American Indians can apply to obtain eagle feathers or carcasses from a federal repository in Colorado to use in ceremonies. The law also allows them to apply for permits to kill bald eagles, but permission has never previously been given. In testimony in 2007 regarding a member of the tribe who had killed an eagle and was being prosecuted for it, Nelson P. White Sr. (Northern Arapaho) said that birds obtained from the repositories were often rotten: “That’s unacceptable. How would a non-Indian feel if they had to get their Bible from a repository?” The USFWS permit states that the tribe may kill or capture and release the birds after the ceremony. Members of the Eastern Shoshone tribe, who share the Wind River Indian Reservation with the Northern Arapaho, oppose the killing of the birds.

-Meteor Blades

red_black_rug_design2


Indians have often been referred to as the “Vanishing Americans.” But we are still here, entangled each in his or her unique way with modern America, blended into the dominant culture or not, full-blood or not, on the reservation or not, and living lives much like the lives of other Americans, but with differences related to our history on this continent, our diverse cultures and religions, and our special legal status. To most other Americans, we are invisible, or only perceived in the most stereotyped fashion.

First Nations News & Views is designed to provide a window into our world, each Sunday reporting on a small number of stories, both the good and the not-so-good, and providing a reminder of where we came from, what we are doing now and what matters to us. We wish to make it clear that neither navajo nor I make any claim whatsoever to speak for anyone other than ourselves, as individuals, not for the Navajo people or the Seminole people, the tribes in which we are enrolled as members, nor, of course, the people of any other tribes.

Taking Indian Land Without Compensation

The United States bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867. The Russians had never attempted to force the Alaska natives to recognize Russian ownership, nor had they made any treaties with the natives, nor had they purchased any land from the natives. The Russians had never had any effective control over the natives and the total Russian population in Alaska was less than 800, living in four very heavily fortified towns. In the transaction, the natives were barely mentioned and there was more concern for the protection of those Russians who might want to remain.  

The Tlingit watched the ceremonial transfer from Russia to the United States at New Archangel (present-day Sitka) with great interest. Since Indians were not allowed in town, the Tlingit watched from their canoes in the harbor.

Under an international law known as the Discovery Doctrine, the Indian nations of Alaska had no say in this transfer. The Discovery Doctrine, which currently forms the basis of American Indian law, says that Christian nations, such as the United States, have a right to govern all non-Christian nations. Thus, the United States ignored not only the sovereignty of Indian nations, but also the rights of these nations to access the resources on the lands and seas which they had traditionally used.

At the time the United States took over Alaska there were an estimated 31,000 Natives in the territory and about 300 non-Indians, most of whom lived in what would become Sitka. The Americans were more concerned with the rights of the non-Indians than with those of the Indians.

In 1884, Congress passed the Alaska Organic Act which specified that native use of the land would not be disturbed, but it did not give them title to the land. It was the feeling of Congress that this Act was needed for the development of Alaska’s extensive resources, including mineral rights and timber.

Following World War II, the United States entered into a period in which a great deal of timber was needed to provide the lumber for the houses which were being built. To provide timber for the housing boom, the United States Department of Agriculture authorized timber harvest on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. There was neither concern nor acknowledgement that the timber which was harvested was on lands which were traditionally claimed by the Tee-Hit-Ton, a subgroup of the Tlingit.

The Tee-Hit-Ton brought action in the Court of Claims for compensation under the Fifth Amendment for timber taken from tribal lands. The tribe argued that it had full proprietary ownership of the timber. The federal government, on the other hand, asserted that if the Tee-Hit-Ton had any rights at all, they were to use the land at the government’s will.

The Court of Claims found that the Tee-Hit-Ton were an identifiable group residing in Alaska and that its interests in lands prior to the purchase of Alaska by the United States were “original Indian title.” Since Congress didn’t recognize the tribe’s legal rights regarding property ownership, the Court dismissed the case.  

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in the Tee-Hit-Ton case. The government argued that under international law Christian nations can acquire lands occupied by heathens and infidels. It was an argument made by the United States government on the basis of the Christian religion. In their argument, the United States government not only cited the nineteenth century case of Johnson v M’Intosh, but also the Papal bulls of the fifteenth century and the Old Testament from the Bible.

In 1955, the Supreme Court announced its decision which denied the Tee-Hit-Ton any compensation for the taking of the timber. According to the Court:

“The Christian nations of Europe acquired jurisdiction over newly discovered lands by virtue of grants from the Popes, who claimed the power to grant Christian monarchs the right to acquire territory in the possession of heathens and infidels.”

The Supreme Court denied compensation and asserted:

“No case in this Court has ever held that taking of Indian title or use by Congress required compensation.”

In order to be compensated under the Fifth Amendment, the tribe would have needed some prior acknowledgement of land ownership through a treaty, a statute, or an executive order. The Alaska Organic Act did not recognize aboriginal land ownership.

In its finding, the Court views the Indians as nomads who have not developed the land:

“The Tee-Hit-Tom were in a hunting and fishing stage of civilization, with shelters fitted to their environment, and claims to rights to use identified territory for these activities as well as the gathering of wild products of the earth.”

The Tee-Hit-Ton case reaffirmed the Discovery Doctrine as the basis for U.S. law with regard to Indian nations. It reaffirmed this Christian doctrine as the principle to be used in judging American Indians and discounted American Indian history and religious traditions. While denying that Indians have any legal rights as pagan nations, the Court also stated:

The American people have compassion for the descendants of those Indians who were deprived of their homes and hunting grounds by the drive of civilization. They seek to have the Indians share the benefits of our society as citizens of this Nation. Generous provision has been willingly made to allow tribes to recover for wrongs, as a matter of grace, not because of legal liability.

The Russians and the Tlingit Indians

( – promoted by navajo)

In 1741, the Russian Second Kamchatka Expedition under the leadership of explorer Vitus Bering extended Russian sovereignty over northwestern North America. The Russians were interested in enlarging the lucrative fur trade. Officially, the purpose of the expedition was to determine if Asia and the Americas are joined.

The Russians encountered the Tlingit in Alaska and lost two boats, each with ten men. According to oral tradition, the Tlingit lured the unsuspecting crew members with a bear skin and killed them.

Unfortunately, the Russians also found sea otter which was valuable in the Chinese market. This led to the development of the Russian fur trade in the area.  

In 1788, a Russian expedition made contact with the Tlingit under the leadership of Ilchak from the Chilcat River. The Russians gave Ilchak a Russian crest in copper and a picture of the heir to the Russian throne.

In 1793, a group of Russians and Aleut under the leadership of Baron Baranof were attacked by the Tlingit. The Tlingit were wearing armor made of wooden rods bound together with leather thongs. Their faces were protected by masks which represented different animals and gave a frightening appearance. They were wearing wooden hats. The Tlingit fought with lances, bows, and pointed daggers. While the Russians aimed their guns at their attackers’ heads, they soon found that their bullets did not penetrate the thick head coverings. Still, with the superiority of fire power, the Russians were victorious and the Tlingit fled leaving 12 dead behind. Two Russians and nine Aleuts were killed and 15 others in the Russian party were wounded.

Three years later, Baron Baranof established a Russian colony with 80 colonists in Yukatat Bay. Many of the Tlingit chiefs made ceremonial visits to Baranof. They showed their friendliness toward the Russians by leaving some of their own children and relatives to live among the Russian colonists.

In 1799, the Russians under the leadership of Alexander Baranov established a trading post at New Archangel (now called Sitka) in Tlingit territory. The Russians relied on the Natives to supply them with food supplies. This stimulated the Tlingit around Sitka to raise tons of potatoes and bring in quantities of ‘mutton’ (mountain sheep meat) and halibut.

The Russian-American Company (RAC) was formed in 1799 as a quasi-governmental monopoly to control the fur trade and rule the Russian colony in Alaska. RAC was given the power to establish settlements in Alaska. They were to carry on agriculture and commerce, to spread the Greek faith, and to extend Russian territory. There were usually fewer than 500 Russians in Alaska at any one given time. Most of them lived in Sitka. With regard to the Native American populations, the Russians were ruthless and moved villages to different areas where they needed people to work.

Tlingit Map

The peace between the Tlingit and the Russians did not last very long. In 1802, the Tlingit rebelled against the Russians at the settlement of New Archangel. An estimated 600 warriors armed with guns destroyed the fort, killing 20 Russians and 130 Aleuts. Following their victory on Baranov Island, the Tlingit next attacked an Aleut hunting party quartered at Yakutat Bay. The Tlingit accused the Russian commander of robbing them of their fur-bearing animals and also of stealing skins from Tlingit graves.  

Two years later, the Russians returned to Baranov Island. They reasserted their dominance over the Tlingit by sending four ships to Sitka harbor. The Russians destroyed two Indian villages. At the site of New Archangel (Novo-Arkangelsk), the Russians attacked a Tlingit fort. While an initial attack was repelled, the Russians fired their ships’ canons at the fort and soon the Tlingit asked for peace. Following their defeat, the Tlingit moved to the other side of the Island.

This was not the end of the conflicts between the Russians and the Tlingit. The next year the Tlingit attacked and destroyed the Russian fort at Yakatat, Alaska.

In 1806, the Tlingit began to plan an attack against the Russians at New Archangel. While nearly 2,000 warriors gathered for the attack, the Russian commander learned of the plans and invited the important chiefs to the fort. The Russians welcomed the chiefs with great honor, provided them with a great feast, and gave them many presents. As a result of this, the chiefs declared the Russians to be their friends and the war was averted.

In 1822, the charter for the Russian-American Company now permitted the Russians to conscript half of the adult male population between 18 and 50 years of age to work for up to three years hunting sea otters. This undermined the natives’ ability to obtain food for themselves.

In 1836, smallpox struck New Archangel and killed about half of the Tlingit. On the other hand, the Russians who had been vaccinated against smallpox lost only one man. This epidemic weakened the power of the traditional shamans and convinced many of the Tlingit of the superiority of Russian knowledge. As a result of the epidemic, the two groups became closer.

In 1841, the Russian administrator of New Archangel invited the Tlingit to a fair which had a ceremonial feast for the guests. About 500 of the most prominent Tlingit gathered at a special building for the event. The Russians hoped to promote friendly relations with the tribes through the ceremonial feast.

The Russian involvement with the Tlingit ended in 1867 when Alaska was sold to the United States. The Russians had never attempted to force the Alaska natives to recognize Russian ownership, nor had they made any treaties with the natives, nor had they purchased any land from the natives. The Russians had never had any effective control over the natives and the total Russian population in Alaska was less than 800 living in four very heavily fortified towns. Thus the Russians really sold only their tenuous title to Alaska. In the transaction, the natives were barely mentioned and there was more concern for the protection of those Russians who might want to remain.

The Tlingit watched the ceremonial transfer from Russia to the United States at New Archangel (Sitka) with great interest. Since the Tlingit were not allowed in town, they viewed the proceedings from their canoes which were positioned in the harbor.

Tlingit man

Court Smacks Palin Down on Native Alaskan Moose Hunt

( – promoted by navajo)



Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, avid helicopter hunter and lifetime NRA member, has opposed native subsistence rights ever since she came into office.  Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said “Thanks but no thanks” to her ongoing efforts to ban indigenous moose harvest.

Federal trust responsibility for Native people meant that the Federal Subsistence Management program followed all appropriate procedures in its ruling for moose harvest by the Cheesh-na Athabaskans of the tiny inland village of Cristochina.

“Palin’s attack here has targeted (among others) the Ahtna Indian people in Chistochina; and although the federal court last year rejected this challenge, too, Palin has refused to lay down her arms,” wrote Kendall-Miller and her husband, Lloyd Miller, another prominent Native rights attorney.

The State’s challenge was rejected on straightforward legal grounds.  It seems unlikely that the Supreme Court will hear a further appeal should Palin take time out from the campaign trail to pursue it.  This decision will probably stand.  With more GOP judges appointed?  Perhaps not…

I never thought I’d write a Palin diary.  But this Tuesday’s decision on her attempt to block Native Alaskan subsistence moose hunting hasn’t been covered here, and it’s too rife with contrast and irony to pass up.  It also contains a reminder of one of the most important reasons that an Obama victory is essential:  The future of our courts.  We can’t afford anymore Alito or Roberts appointments; nor anymore of those lifetime appointments of wingnuts to lower courts either.

MOOSE HUNTING

         

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska says her favorite food is mooseburgers.  But when it comes to native subsistence hunting, she’s not much of an enthusiast.  Traditional Alaska Native subsistence, especially inland where marine mammals aren’t in the mix, values the moose highly – for food and other uses. Wasilla (pop. > 9780, 863.9$ white), Palin’s home town, in addition to being the start point for the famous Iditarod dogsled race (until recently when climate change has moved it northward and inland due to inadequate snow) has grown rapidly in recent years as a bedroom commuter suburb for Anchorage.  It has a WalMart and several other venues that sell groceries.  Median income is $51k.  Wasilla has two zip codes.  The tiny village of Cristochina, (population 86, median income $25,500)? Not so much.



Chistochina is located at Mile 32.7 on the Tok Cut-off Road near the base of Mount Sanford and was originally an Athabascan fish camp along the Copper River. Later, during the Gold Rush to the Eagle area, the miners at Chistochina made a trail from Valdez to Eagle. A lodge was constructed to provide services to travelers heading to and from the gold fields. Prospectors also mined in the hills around the Chistochina area and found gold along the Upper Chistochina River and it’s runoff creeks. Chistochina Lodge has since burned down, but the small community hosts a cafe, bar, campground, bed and breakfast and gas station.

The inhabitants are about 60 percent Athabascan and hunting, trapping, berry picking, and subsistence fishing from the Copper River are important activities for many of the residents. Traditions have been passed down through time and Chistochina still boasts skilled skin sewers who make beautiful beaded moccasins, hats, and gloves.

         

Wasilla & Cristochina have yellow highlighting added on this map

More on Cristochina:

Subsistence hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering are the basis of the village’s economy. Most cash employment is seasonal.

Almost half of residences have individual wells; the remainder haul treated water from the Community Center. Some residents use individual septic tanks, but the majority have outhouses or pit privies. About 40% of homes are completely plumbed. The local landfill is closed pending clean-up and relocation to a new site. The community needs a washeteria and a new landfill. Electricity is provided out of Tok.



The native people used normal channels for the rulemaking decision on their subsistence moose hunt.  (The Cristochina girl on the left is cleaning a moose stomach in a traditional way):

The Federal Subsistence Management Program is a multi-agency effort to provide the opportunity for a subsistence way of life by rural Alaskans on federal public lands and waters while maintaining healthy populations of fish and wildlife. Subsistence fishing and hunting provide a large share of the food consumed in rural Alaska. The state’s rural residents harvest about 22,000 tons of wild foods each year – an average of 375 pounds per person. Fish makes up about 60 percent of this harvest statewide. Nowhere else in the United States is there such a heavy reliance upon wild foods.

This dependence on wild resources is both cultural, social and economic. Alaska’s indigenous inhabitants have relied upon the traditional harvest of wild foods for thousands of years and have passed this way of life, its culture, and values down through generations. Subsistence has also become important to many non-Native Alaskans, particularly in rural Alaska.

It was a 2005 ruling by the FSMP that then-Governor Frank Murkowski’s administration filed suit to overturn.  They lost that case in 2006, but Sarah Palin did not accept that ruling.  Her Administration appealed against the various Federal Agencies involved.  The Athabaskans were represented by the Native American Rights Fund:

On June 10, 2006 the State of Alaska brought suit challenging the Federal Subsistence Boards customary and traditional (C&T) use finding for subsistence uses of moose by members of the Chistochina Tribe. A positive C&T finding entitles residents for a specific community to the subsistence priority under Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Chistochina was granted intervention in this action to protect its C&T status for moose. On June 27, 2007 in State v. Demientieff, the district court entered an Order in favor of defendant United States and Chistochina against the State and upholding the Federal Subsistence Boards customary and traditional use finding for subsistence uses of moose by members of the Chistochina Tribe.

         

That’s where this week’s ruling came in.  The 9th Circuit found that Palin’s (et al.) appeal was without merit (full decision, PDF).  The basis of the decision goes back to the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANLICA):

The Congress enacted ANLICA to further two ends.  The first is:

to preserve unrivaled sceneic and gelogical values associated with natural landscapes; to provide for the maintenance of sound populations of, and habitat for, wildlife species of inestimable value to the citizens of Alaska and the Nation …; to preserve in their natural state exstensive unaltered arctic tundra, boreal forest, and coastal rainforest ecosystems; to protect the resources related to subsistence needs…



The second, in order though not in priority is “to provide the opportunity for rural residents engaged in a subsistence way of life to continue to do so.”

         

In particular, Title VII of ANLICA:

Congress sought to protect the subsistence way of life in the face of Alaska’s growing population and the resultant pressure on fish and wildlife populations, and created a subsistence management and use program. Id. Sec. 3111(3).  The program grants a priority to subsistence use of resources, providing: “the taking on public lands of fish and wildlife for nonwasteful subsistence uses shall be accorded priority over the taking on such lands of fish and wildlife for other purposes”

When talking about possible grounds for overturning a C&T determination, we get to one of the many traits Palin shares with the Bush Administration – complete disregard of science.  And science and historical evidence is what the Court found the disputed ruling had been based on. In particular, “We will find an agency action arbitrary and capricious if:”

“the agency has relied on factors which Congress has not intended it to consider, entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem, offered an explanation for its decision that runs counter to the evidence before the agency, or is so implausible that it could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise”

The decision’s discussion opens with this smackdown:

While Alaska argues vociferously that the FSB’s fact finding was not supported by substantial evidence, the disagreements between the parties are ultimately legal, and not factual, in nature.

         

I suspect that contempt for the federal role in protecting resources, and its trust responsibility for native peoples is at the heart of that “Alaska Independence Party” movement.  The decision notes, rather harshly:

Rather, the interpretation appears to be purely a litigation position, developed during the course of the present case.  As such, we owe the interpretation no deference.

And so, the Courts are not completely lost.  Yet.

WOLVES

Palin’s a big advocate of wolf-hunting, even having tried to initiate a program to pay a bounty for every wolf killed in Alaska.  Not being a deep thinker, she missed the lesson that removing top predators doesn’t make for more game for hunters.  The balance between grazing animals and their forage is not a trivial matter.  Aldo Leopold figured it out nearly a century ago, and describes it as well as anyone ever has in his essay Thinking like a Mountain (a short masterpiece, worth reading – and re-reading – in full):

I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades. So also with cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf’s job of trimming the herd to fit the range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.

We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes, and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum: In wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.

         

And so, like on everything else, Palin comes down on the wrong side of every issue I can think of.  Bad enough that she’s been wreaking havoc on wildlife, indigenous peoples, etc. in Alaska.  Let’s not let her get loose on the rest of the country, and the world.  The Courts are fragile, and we can’t afford any more of these right-wing justices to be appointed.  Let’s have its rightward, corporatist (etc.) current swing be as far as it gets in that direction.  The future of our courts is one of the best reasons to work hard to make sure McCain and Palin do not get elected.

We’ve got work to do folks – only 40 days till Election Day.  And voting has already started!!

Ethnocide. Master’s Commission. Palin

( – promoted by SarahLee)

Read dogemperor’s “Sarah Palin used AK tax dollars to fund dominionist churches”

Sarah Palin, who has attacked Alaska Native Languages and Alaska Tribal Sovereignty, gave a speech at the Master’s Commission on September 2nd, 2008,


Source

It has only one mission, to throw defeat in the face of the Devil and see God’s people freed.

and the Master’s Commission has a branch that Christianizes Alaskan Natives.


Source

Although the Native Reservations of the lower 48 states may be off the beaten path, these tribes are easily accessible compared to the Native tribes of bush Alaska. Forgotten? Not by God! But the reality is reaching the indigenous people of this state is very difficult and very expensive!

Let’s look at the speech and how she’s attacked Alaska Native Languages and Alaska Tribal Sovereignty after briefly looking at the history of Missionary work in Alaska. Then, we’ll look at “Palin’s Pipeline”the TransCanada gas pipeline.

The Master’s Commission that Palin spoke to is continuing the old practice of Christianizing Indigenous People, and more than one denomination has proselytized Alaskan Natives since 1867.


http://books.google.com/books?…

Russian missionaries remained most successful among he Aleuts, although with the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867, the status of the church suddenly changed. Its missionaries continued to work among the Native people of Alaska even after it became a foreign land, but their influence declined in the late nineteenth century, as other denominations began proselytizing.

Intellectual snobbery has a price attached to it, and what it may cost with the Military Commissions Act as law and a Dominionist Vice President, are the peaceful yet firm measures needed to prevent that rise to power.


Palin’s Church May Have Shaped Controversial Worldview

“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God,” she (Palin) exhorted the congregants.



Text Transcript of Sarah Palin’s Speech of June 8, 2008 at Master’s Commission of Wasilla, Alaska

…but really all of that stuff doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God. And that’s going to be your job. As I’m doing my job, let’s strike this deal, your job is to going to be to be out there reaching the people, hurting people throughout Alaska, and we can work together to make sure that God’s will be done here.

– snip –

So all you Master’s Commission students and all of your supporters…and thank you so much for dedicating your lives to Jesus Christ! Thank you!

I wonder why Palin doesn’t mention it’s the TransCanada Pipeline, but just says it’s “a natural gas pipeline.”


Alaska House approves TransCanada gas pipeline

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, July 22 (Reuters) – Alaska’s House of Representatives voted late on Tuesday to allow TransCanada Corp.(TRP.TO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to build a massive pipeline to tap the vast natural gas resources of the state’s North Slope region.

The chamber voted 24-16 in the state capital of Juneau for a bill backed by Governor Sarah Palin that would grant TransCanada a state license for a 1,700-mile (2,700 km) pipeline to bring the gas to North American markets.

– snip –

Palin, a Republican, has endorsed TransCanada’s plan to build the pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to an existing hub on the Alberta-British Columbia border, shipping 4 billion cubic feet a day. She argues the company, as an independent pipeline operator, would free the state and the North Slope from the dominance of the major oil producers there — BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), ConocoPhillips (COP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Why doesn’t she mention it’s the TransCanada Pipeline?

Alaska Natives have lost all fishing rights and all hunting rights, “Alaska Native peoples are among the only Indigenous peoples in all of North America whose Indigenous Hunting and Fishing Rights have been extinguished by federal legislation.” Remember, “But the reality is reaching the indigenous people of this state is very difficult and very expensive!” Expensive to who?


Attorneys: Gov. Palin’s record on Alaska Natives

1. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Fishing

– snip –

2. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Hunting

– snip –

3. Palin has attacked Alaska Tribal Sovereignty

– snip –

4. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Languages


Source PDF file p.25

Native Alaskans

– snip –

Palin opposed subsistence preference.

“When asked about hunting and fishing rights, Palin said she did not want to amend the state constitution to allow preferences for certain Alaskans. ‘I’m pro subsistence for all Alaskans,’ she said, adding that she would seek to manage resources to provide ‘abundance.'”


Source

Palin has refused to accord proper respect to Alaska Native languages and voters by refusing to provide language assistance to Yup’ik speaking Alaska Native voters. As a result, Palin was just ordered by a special three-judge panel of federal judges to provide various forms of voter assistance to Yup’ik voters residing in southwest Alaska. Nick v. Bethel, No. 3:07-cv-0098-TMB (D. Ak.) (Order entered July 30, 2008). Citing years of State neglect, Palin was ordered to provide trained poll workers who are bilingual in English and Yup’ik; sample ballots in written Yup’ik; a written Yup’ik glossary of election terms; consultation with local Tribes to ensure the accuracy of Yup’ik translations; a Yup’ik language coordinator; and pre-election and post-election reports to the court to track the State’s efforts.

Palin said, “your job is to going to be to be out there reaching the people, hurting people throughout Alaska, and we can work together to make sure that God’s will be done here.” Are we to take that to mean that Christianizing Native Alaskans, that attacking Alaska Native Subsistence Hunting, that attacking Alaska Native Languages, that attacking Alaska Tribal Sovereignty, and that attacking Alaska Native Subsistence Fishing is to have an international gas pipeline and to drill for oil? She needs to be asked who the “hurting people throughout Alaska” are that she was referring to. If it was the following, the question would be answered in the affirmative.


Headlined on 9/11/08: An Alaska Native speaks out on Palin, Oil, and Alaska

I am writing this letter to raise awareness about the ongoing colonization and violation of human rights being carried out against Alaska Native peoples in the name of unsustainable progress, with a particular emphasis on the role of Sarah Palin and the Republican leadership. My hope is that it helps to elevate truth about the nature of Alaskan politics in relation to Alaska Native peoples and that it lays a framework for our path to justice.

Ever since the Russian claim to Alaska and the subsequent sale to the United States through the Treaty of Cession in 1867, the attitude and treatment towards Alaska Native peoples has been fairly consistent. We were initially referred to as less than human “uncivilized tribes”, so we were excluded from any dialogues and decisions regarding our lands, lives, and status. The dominating attitude within the Unites States at the time was called Manifest Destiny; that God had given Americans this great land to take from the Indians because they were non-Christian and incapable of self-government. Over the years since that time, this framework for relating to Alaska Native peoples has become entrenched in the United States legislative and legal systems in an ongoing direct violation of our human rights.

– snip –

Let me get specific about what is at stake and how this relates to Palin and the Republican leadership in Alaska and across this country. To this day, Alaska Native peoples are among the only Indigenous peoples in all of North America whose Indigenous Hunting and Fishing Rights have been extinguished by federal legislation and yet we are the most dependent people on this way of life. Most of our villages have no roads that connect them to cities; many live with poverty level incomes, and all rely to varying degrees on traditional hunting, fishing, and harvesting for survival. This has become known as the debate on Alaska Native Subsistence.

“Hurting people throughout Alaska” is an all inclusive statement, and it’s nothing new.


Capitalism, Calvinism and Chauvinism

It’s no coincidence that capitalism and Protestantism ascended simultaneously. Jean Calvin theologically discredited the feudal system in 1541, paving the way for an upwardly mobile merchant class to replace the landed aristocracy. The genius of Calvin, observed sociologist Max Weber in 1904, was the creation of a new concept of God.[7] Prior to this crucial paradigm shift, surplus wealth–i.e., capital–was expected to be donated to the Church.

Essentially, Calvinism was a variation of the chosen-race myth. Its key element was a spiritual “elect” whose elevated position is preordained. The only way one can know if he or she is among the Elect is by his or her level of worldly success[8]– in other words, if you’re rich, it’s because God loves you.

The Puritans of Plymouth Bay were staunch Calvinists and their legacy remains powerful. “American culture, in particular, is thoroughly Calvinist… [A]t the heart of the way Americans think and act, you’ll find this fierce and imposing reformer [Calvin].”[9]



Source

At the same time, Christianity was forced on the Native Peoples by the missionaries. Indeed, it took a special act of Congress, the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), to affirm religious freedom for the Native nations. The law…

Palin said in her speech to the Master’s Commission, whose goal is “to throw defeat in the face of the Devil and see God’s people freed,” “your job is to going to be to be out there reaching the people, hurting people throughout Alaska, and we can work together to make sure that God’s will be done here.” In addition, she has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Hunting, attacked Alaska Native Languages, attacked Alaska Tribal Sovereignty, and attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Fishing while saying an international pipeline is God’s will. Consequently, that pipeline will run through sites that are sacred, but then again it’s “God’s will.” The Master’s Commission has a specific branch that Christianizes Alaskan Natives; we can safely assume that is also under her umbrella of “God’s will.” To summarize, christianizing Indigenous People destroys the identity of that people so that their land can be stolen; and, that’s easier on the consciences of the predators.


PERMANENT FORUM SPEAKERS SAY VIOLATION OF LANGUAGE RIGHTS ‘CULTURAL GENOCIDE’, CALL FOR CONCRETE PUBLIC POLICY TO PROTECT INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES

Mr. BAER said Governments tended to be highly unaware of the effects had by the loss of language — indigenous languages were a vessel of traditional knowledge on biological diversity, for example.  Many did little to reverse the trend.

– snip –

Some States were indeed promoting the use of indigenous languages, but many programmes were under-funded.

– snip –

He said the international community should begin to view the violation of language rights as a crime against humanity.  Many indigenous children were not getting access to education.  Most State education policies forced indigenous children to learn in the dominant State language, causing a “language shift”.  It encouraged a change in attitude towards indigenous languages, in that those languages were thought to be less “worthy” than dominant language.  Losing their language meant children became socially dislocated, ultimately leading to economic and social marginalization.  Indigenous children tended to have the lowest level of educational attainment.  They also suffered high rates of depression and teen suicide.  Violation of language rights was a form of cultural genocide, or “ethnocide”, and amounted to a crime against humanity.  The Forum was encouraged to consider appropriate action.


Missionary Conquest  By George E. Tinker. p. 10

http://books.google.com/books?…

Our understanding is certainly deficient if we overlook the relationship between missions and the Euroamerican economic interests. It was the interest of the fur trading companies, for example, to support the missionary enterprise, since the missionaries contributed to the pacification of Indian Nations, thereby aiding and abetting the companies exploitation of Indians, Indian lands, and Indian resources.

Sarah Palin: Alaskan Pipeline is “God’s Will”


Yes, it is Time for A Change with Alaska Natives and Native Americans.

( – promoted by navajo)

Yes, it is Time for A Change with Alaska Natives and Native Americans.

More then any group or race in all of America the Alaska Native and Native American Population from birth to their death have more regulations and polices governing their very life and existence.  Their rights and privileges like that of other Americans; for example, voting rights, it was not until 1924 that the Alaska Native and Native American population were granted citizenship.  In Arizona, tribes were not granted voting rights and had to go to court to gain their right to vote in 1948.  In the 2004 national election some tribes their voting was disenfranchised and again the tribes when to court to simply exercise their right to vote.  

Under Republican presidential administrations, there has been a cutting away at tribal sovereignty.  In 2005, the current president appointed an anti-Native to the U. Supreme Court.  In 2007, President Bush cut the national budget for Alaska Native and Native American programs by 30%.  Hardly making news is Arab Dubai, which receives billions of U.S. Taxpayers dollars to rebuild that country, and oil firm Halliburton has moved out of USA to Dubai, which is dubbed the world’s fastest growing city at the expense of US Taxpayers.  Billions of dollars going to Arab Dubai while across Indian Country, USA only 1500 homes per year are built and yet we have a demand for 200,000 homes.

We see tribes with natural resources that are much needed by America and yet with the resources available we still see many tribes suffering in poverty and lack of a tribal economy.  Since the first president to the current president of this country, tribes have made generations of formal presentations on their social and economic plights.  We see little or no results and across Indian Country, USA poverty rates are high as 80% unemployment.

Have any of the political candidates for president visited any of the reservations across Indian Country, USA?  Only three presidential candidates when to that first time ever-political forum.  On a positive note, across Indian Country, USA in 11 States there are 29 Native American Candidates running for political office.  This not only increases Native Voter participation but also gives us insurances that our rights, privileges, and tribal sovereignty are protected.  Some Natives say the political process is like participating with a foreign country.  The political reality is Native Voter participation is much received like in Washington State the tribes there ousted a racist US Senator and replacing that Senator with a Democratic US Senator.  In Arizona, tribal voting put into place a Democratic Governor and State Attorney General.  Yet Arizona is a Republican stronghold state so Native American voting does make a difference and does count.  One Tribe in Arizona has a very high turn out rate when it comes to voting, Ft. McDowell, has an 85% turn out at primary and general elections.

In Arizona, the Arizona Democratic Party has a Tribal Outreach person who informs the tribes on political issues and important legislation that is in place for the tribes.  The National Democratic Party their convention had 148 delegates and 6 of the delegates were placed on key committees, including the Democratic Platform Committee.  We have and will continue to voice our concerns on funding tribal programs that it be fair and just budgets and demand that no budget cutting take place by the office of the president.

As the tribes embark upon a new presidential administration, will it be a president that meets the social and economic needs of all of Indian Country, USA?  Will we confront the status quo with a do nothing president and administration?  We see countries that the USA has been at war with prospering.  Yet, right in their homeland America, there were wars with Native Americans and we have yet to be compensated.   We remain unknown by the leaders of America and yet some of today’s Tribes have been misplaced and displaced to lands, which are not their aboriginal lands.  Do we as Tribes remain unknown by greater America and nothing happen for us as Tribes or do we change the status quo and gain some solutions?  

Yes, it is Time for A Change with Alaska Natives and Native Americans.

More then any group or race in all of America the Alaska Native and Native American Population from birth to their death have more regulations and polices governing their very life and existence.  Their rights and privileges like that of other Americans; for example, voting rights, it was not until 1924 that the Alaska Native and Native American population were granted citizenship.  In Arizona, tribes were not granted voting rights and had to go to court to gain their right to vote in 1948.  In the 2004 national election some tribes their voting was disenfranchised and again the tribes when to court to simply exercise their right to vote.  The disenfranchisement was due to lack of photo identification.

Under Republican presidential administrations, there has been a cutting away at tribal sovereignty.  In 2005, the current president appointed an anti-Native to the U. Supreme Court.  In 2007, President Bush cut the national budget for Alaska Native and Native American programs by 30%.  Looking at the Nation’s budget 43% of it is for war efforts while only 12% is used to reduce poverty in America.  Hardly making news is Arab Dubai, which receives billions of U.S. Taxpayers dollars to rebuild that country, and oil firm Halliburton has moved out of USA to Dubai, which is dubbed the world’s fastest growing city at the expense of US Taxpayers.  Billions of dollars going to Arab Dubai while across Indian Country, USA only 1500 homes per year are built and yet we have a demand for 200,000 homes.

We see tribes with natural resources that are much needed by America and yet with the resources available we still see many tribes suffering in poverty and lack of a tribal economy.  Since the first president to the current president of this country, tribes have made generations of formal presentations on their social and economic plights.  We see little or no results and across Indian Country, USA poverty rates are high as 80% unemployment.

Have any of the political candidates for president visited any of the reservations across Indian Country, USA?  This year in August a first time presidential forum was held in California hosted by one of the tribes.  Only three presidential candidates when to that first time ever-political forum.  Is this a reflection of how we will be treated in the future by any of the presidential candidates and just giving a token effort on our concerns and issues, which are faced on a daily basis.

On a positive note, across Indian Country, USA in 11 States there are 29 Native American Candidates running for political office.  This not only increases Native Voter participation but also gives us ensurances that our rights, privileges, and tribal sovereignty are protected.  Some Natives say the political process is like participating with a foreign country.  The political reality is Native Voter participation is much received like in Washington State the tribes there ousted a racist US Senator and replacing that Senator with a Democratic US Senator.  In Arizona, tribal voting put into place a Democratic Governor and State Attorney General.  Yet Arizona is a Republican stronghold state so Native American voting does make a difference and does count.  One Tribe in Arizona has a very high turn out rate when it comes to voting, Ft. McDowell, has an 85% turn out at primary and general elections.

In Arizona, the Arizona Democratic Party has a Tribal Outreach person who informs the tribes on political issues and important legislation that is in place for the tribes.  The National Democratic Party their convention had 148 delegates and 6 of the delegates were placed on key committees, including the Democratic Platform Committee.  More then ever before Tribes are becoming visible and we see more voter participation with real emphasis on protecting our rights and our tribal sovereignty.   We have and will continue to voice our concerns on funding tribal programs that it be fair and just budgets and demand that no budget cutting take place by the office of the president.

As the tribes embark upon a new presidential administration, will it be a president that meets the social and economic needs of all of Indian Country, USA?  Alternatively, will we face business as usual with an uphill battle in Congress and with the office of the president?  Will we confront the status quo with a do nothing president and administration?  Since the very first president to the current president, we have yet to see our social and economic plights are fully addressed.  Yet, we see other countries prospering with foreign aid given to them by the USA.  We see countries that the USA has been at war with prospering.  Yet, right in their homeland America, there were wars with Native Americans and we have yet to be compensated.   We remain unknown by the leaders of America and yet some of today’s Tribes have been misplaced and displaced to lands, which are not their aboriginal lands.  Moreover, many of the lands we placed upon was forced moves and without our full participation.  Do we as Tribes remain unknown by greater America and nothing happen for us as Tribes or do we change the status quo and gain some solutions?  Let us go for the changes and sign up to vote for next month is deadline to vote and make our vote count for it does make a difference.

Native Alaskans Speak Out Against Palin

( – promoted by navajo)

More and more Native Alaskans are coming forward to tell about their direct experiences with Gov. Palin and her lack of regard for them.  Here is a letter I received today that speaks for itself…

An Alaska Native’s take on his Governor

By Matt Gilbert

Hello. My name is Matt Gilbert. I am originally from Arctic Village, Alaska. I am Alaska Native: Gwich’in Athabascan. I visited Sarah’s campaign office and spoke with her before she became Governor. We talked about the hunting & fishing rights of Alaska Natives. We didn’t get anywhere. She sided with sport & commercial interests, so I walked out on her and never looked back.  

In general, I believe Sarah Palin is another version of Bush, just as inexperienced, but more impulsive. She is very dangerous and scary. People are continuing to support her because she’s beautiful, and this should be a Red Alert for the world. Her purposed policies is to include Georgia into NATO and that would mean all the European countries with all their armed forces will have to go to war with Russia. So she’s willing to ruffle the feathers of a country right next door to her home. Is this who you want as President? You know the scene in the movies when a car or stage coach is about to go over a cliff and you see yourself sliding over? Scary image isn’t it? That’s’ what I’m seeing if Palin gets elected Vice President. Wake up America!

Send her back to Alaska. She has plenty of un-finished work here. She hasn’t even gotten funding to move the town of Shishmeraf. It’s falling into the ocean from an eroding coast due to Global Warming, which she wants to fuel more by encourage more coal and oil development. She fuels the fire, and now they want her to do it on a national level.

Palin has done a lot of irrational things up here as Governor. In the summer of 07′, she Line Item Vetoed a lot of infrastructure projects in rural Alaska. The small town of Eagle spent years trying to get a community center built when they finally got funding, Palin shut it down by her Veto. Even Lawmakers are baffled by her Vetoes. They’ve had Bills well-debated on both sides of the aisle, yet she cuts, cuts, cuts. She supported $15 million to Anchorage’s University’s Sport Complex and cut $1.5 million to an expansion of the runaway teen center. How do you justify that? She supports drilling Off-Shore which would utterly destroy the livelihood of the Inupiaq people on the North Slope. They rely on Whale for subsistence and the development would detrimentally impact those whales. She supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. My people, the Gwich’in have kept this area closed from development for 30 years. No other American Indian tribe has ever accomplished such a feat. If she drills in the Arctic Refuge, it’ll be the end of my culture. We rely on the Porcupine Caribou Herd and if drilling takes place in the Arctic Refuge, our caribou goes and so does our culture. We Gwich’in Athabascans are the last American Indian Tribe in the US that hasn’t been majorly disturbed, heavily impacted, and assimilated. We are the last pure Native American tribe left. We are the last stand for Indian Country. We are the last chapter in American Indian/Anglo American relations. The prior chapters were bad, so make this last chapter a good one and vote for Obama.

Alaska Natives in general are the last group of Native Americans in the United States still depended on a hunting & fishing-based lifestyle where kids and grown-ups go out to fish and hunt to supplement their western diets. It’s crucial we have food off our land because the western foods, processed foods, give us diabetes if we eat them alone. The subsistence foods not only feed our bodies, but our culture, spirit, social lives, and minds. The Western World calls it Subsistence, but we call it our Way of Life. I’m using the word against my well. It gives our lives meaning and keeps us busy. With God’s help, hopefully everyone can understand. Our way of life off the land is everything to us. If we don’t have that we’re nobody, just another group living off the grid, consuming McDonalds, and buying Brand-Named items. We add diversity and richness to the world.

Sarah Palin doesn’t care about this. She wouldn’t care if our culture eroded before her eyes. She’s like Nero, sitting in Juneau putting on lip-gloss as Alaskan villages suffer. We’re suffering from fuel costs. We’re suffering from strangulating Fish & wildlife regulations that keep us from surviving off the already scarce wildlife. She has done some things, but not enough. She can ease the Fish & wildlife regulations in order to improve food security in the villages. She can subsidize the villages with the rising fuel costs. The US Government has a Trust Responsibility with its First Americans, the TR requires the Federal/State Governments to ensure we, Alaska Natives, have everything we need to survive. Mrs. Palin has failed miserably at this task. She has a lot more work to do back home.

Her hometown Wasillia, has been a hot-bed for racist and Anti-Native attitudes. Anchorage is worse. Alaska Natives fight discrimination on a daily basis there. Palin isn’t there for them. I read in the Anchorage papers once that a homeless native man froze to death in downtown and some man called it in sounding all casual about it. It’s like the South before the 60s up here. It’s bad. This is the Alaska Sarah Palin maintains and waters for growth. She’s never bothered to change anything because she thinks nothing is broken. As Mayor, she didn’t think anything was wrong with an atmosphere where a native woman had beer bottles thrown at her as she walked down Wasillia.

So you have to ask yourself, if she’s willing to ignore the plights and issues of an ethnic group within her town and state, than how much more horrible do you think it’s going to be when she ignores the issues of the same ethnic group or another on a national level?

I believe her popularity comes from her beauty. This society has got to shift itself away from a National Inquirer-based lifestyle to an NPR or New York Times-based lifestyle. Our very world may depend on it. Our hurricanes and disasters are getting worse due to Global Warming, our Stock Market is dangerously shaky, our healthcare is getting so bad it may cause a revolution soon, and the War in Iraq is draining our resources and working families to depression-levels. We need a Change! We need Barack Obama. Not somebody whose reputation is based mainly on image and charm. As an Alaska Native, I see that she doesn’t support our way of life, as a Gwich’in I see that she is willing to end my culture and people for only six more months of oil, and as a Global citizen I see that she is impulsive and inexperienced. Do you want someone like that in charge of a nuclear arsenal? It’s probably already going to take our lifetimes to recover from Bush, if you elect Palin, the consequence are too scary for me to even think about. Please vote for change.

Vote for Obama. Vote for Obama.