This Week in Native American News (5/4/18): Searching for children, reburying artifacts, and the evolution of the powwow

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May 4, 2018


Great People Doing Great Things: A search for native children who died on 'Outings'

 Ephriam Alexander came to the Carlisle Indian School from the village of Kanulik on the Nushagak River and Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska, but died in Lititz, Pa., near Cocalico Creek, shown here. He’s buried in the Lititz Moravian Congregation Cemetery. Historical photo courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society.

Ephriam Alexander came to the Carlisle Indian School from the village of Kanulik on the Nushagak River and Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska, but died in Lititz, Pa., near Cocalico Creek, shown here. He’s buried in the Lititz Moravian Congregation Cemetery. Historical photo courtesy of Cumberland County Historical Society.

Libbie Standing died at 13, four years after she was sent from her Cheyenne tribal home in Oklahoma to the Indian boarding school at Carlisle, Pa. But she’s not buried under one of the short, military-style headstones in the student cemetery, among nearly 200 boys and girls who perished at the school. She lies some 40 miles north, in tiny Reedsville, Pa., where she succumbed to meningitis after being loaned out to work as the child maid of a prominent white family.

Now, a Native American rights group is searching for her — and for other lost children, bolstering its demand for a national accounting of Indian youths who went missing while under official supervision at dozens of government- and church-run boarding schools. The group intends to file a formal United Nations petition, calling on the United States to locate and identify all native children who were “taken into government custody” and whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown.

“People are awakening to the reality of what happened, the human-rights violations, the civil-rights violations,” said Christine Diindiisi McCleave, executive officer of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, known as NABS. “We want to know the truth.”

Read the Full Story Here

 

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The documentary "Dawnland" tells the story of the state of Maine's effort to come to terms with a shockingly shameful part of its history, when state welfare workers removed Indian children from their families and placed them in foster care.  The film follows the work of the state's Truth And Reconciliation Commission, set up in 2012, which gathered stories from the state's indigenous people. lutheran indian minsitries native news

'Dawnland' Tells Of The Taking Of Native American Children In Maine

The documentary "Dawnland" tells the story of the state of Maine's effort to come to terms with a shockingly shameful part of its history, when state welfare workers removed Indian children from their families and placed them in foster care.

The film follows the work of the state's Truth And Reconciliation Commission, set up in 2012, which gathered stories from the state's indigenous people.


American Indian artifacts found in North Bay fire debris — and quickly reburied

 During cleanup of millions of tons of debris after the North Bay fires, long-buried American Indian artifacts were uncovered. Photo: Photos By Mason Trinca / Special To The Chronicle

During cleanup of millions of tons of debris after the North Bay fires, long-buried American Indian artifacts were uncovered. Photo: Photos By Mason Trinca / Special To The Chronicle

Millions of tons of debris have been cleared in Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties following the devastation of October’s wildfires, mostly the scorched remnants of lost homes, cars, toys and other possessions. But also found among the wreckage have been several long-buried American Indian artifacts, including charmstones and an obsidian arrowhead.

Just how many relics have been found among the more than 2.2 million tons of fire debris that had been removed as of Tuesday, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, is not known. Greg Sarris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, and Clay Carithers, of the Army Corps of Engineers, confirmed that artifacts had been discovered. But precisely what may have been found and where is a closely held secret.

“When that stuff gets into the press, you ignite grave robbers,” Sarris said. “We’ve had long battles with people and professional archaeologists who feel it’s their right to collect our heritage.”

Carithers echoed Sarris’ caution. He said that the Corps had a “great deal of concern” about amateur Indiana Joneses possibly digging into the debris. Fears of looting of the scene prompted local officials to set a curfew for after 6:45 p.m. in the evacuated part of Santa Rosa even as the fires still burned in October. 

Read the Full Story Here


Native American powwows have evolved over the years

 In this April 24, 2015, file photo, Yvonne Grinnell, right, attaches a feather to Tasia Pecos' hair in preparation for the grand entrance at the 32nd annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque N.M. The Gathering of Nations, one of the world's largest gatherings of indigenous people, is set to begin Friday, April 27, 2018, in Albuquerque. The annual event attracts around 3,000 dancers from hundreds of tribes in the U.S., Canada and Mexico and generally draws about 80,000 visitors with dances, drum contests and various competitions. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

In this April 24, 2015, file photo, Yvonne Grinnell, right, attaches a feather to Tasia Pecos' hair in preparation for the grand entrance at the 32nd annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque N.M. The Gathering of Nations, one of the world's largest gatherings of indigenous people, is set to begin Friday, April 27, 2018, in Albuquerque. The annual event attracts around 3,000 dancers from hundreds of tribes in the U.S., Canada and Mexico and generally draws about 80,000 visitors with dances, drum contests and various competitions. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

Native American tribes for centuries came together for ceremonies and communal feasts, inviting outsiders and other tribal communities to take part. The term "powwow" comes from the Algonquin word "pau-wau" referring to a gathering of spiritual leaders.

According to "Powwow," a 2006 anthology of scholarly essays about the event, modern powwow culture first appeared in the 1930s and maintained ties to specific tribal and communities practices.

Federal government officials established policies prohibiting traditional dances and public religious practices starting in the late 1800s. They remained in place until the 1930s, when a new powwow culture emerged.

It soon became an important element of the post-World War II pan-Indian movement and quickly transformed into one of the most popular expressions of ethnic awareness in Indian Country, especially among tribes in the Plains.

Read the Full Story Here


How the Native Americans of Alaska Influenced the Surrealists

Joan  Miró, Personnage dans la nuit,  1944. ©  2018  Successió  Miró  /  Artists  Rights  Society  (ARS),  New  York  /  ADAGP,  Paris. Courtesy of Di Donna, New York. lutheran indian ministries native news

When the world fails to fulfill our needs and desires, we often turn to prayer—or art. The Alaskan Yup’ik people merged both strategies, crafting exquisite masks for rituals meant to influence the weather, animals, and extraterrestrial spirits. Carved from wood and often decorated with bent wooden hoops and feathers, they alternately depict hybrids of fish, fowl, and human figures. At dances and festivals, the group used these disguises to try to communicate with a world beyond theirs (they still perform these traditional rituals today).

The Surrealists, who sought to liberate themselves from 20th-century European and American conventions, identified with these Western Eskimo attempts at transcendence. The Yup’ik ceased mask-making in the 1920s, after missionaries converted them into Christians. In subsequent decades, the community revitalized the tradition. While much of Christian society disregarded the Yup’ik as heathens, the Surrealists revered the objects they’d produced. Often, they used them as inspiration in their own practices.

Read the Full Story Here


Your Weekly History Lesson (then go see it in real life):

prophet's rock photo by satxwdavis lutheran indian ministries

Visit Prophet's Rock

On November 7, 1811, the Shawnee prophet Tenskwatawa stood and chanted from a rock formation known today as Prophet’s Rock. He believed he was casting a protective spell that would turn the bullets of American soldiers into dust. Thus, Tenskwatawa was able to convince his warriors that no harm would come to them during what came to be called the Battle of Tippecanoe. 

There was just one problem: The spell cast from atop Prophet’s Rock didn’t work, and dozens of Native Americans perished in the battle. Tecumseh, the prophet’s half-brother and Shawnee chief, had given strict instructions to Tenskwatawa not to attack the American forces while he was away on business. The prophet ignored Tecumseh’s instructions and attacked anyway.

 
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Visit Six Mile Road

Worthy is chief of the Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation of South Carolina, which has its tribal grounds in the Laurens County town of Gray Court. She was in Six Mile for the dedication of a historical marker that for the first time, after years of speculation and doubt, officially denotes that the ancient Cherokee Path ran right down the route that is now the town’s Main Street.

“My ancestors walked up and down this path many, many, years ago,” she told me after the unveiling. “And it makes me feel good that the Cherokees are recognized, because in the state of South Carolina the Native Americans are an invisible race. The Cherokee path is older than both the town of Pickens and Pickens County. It’s older than South Carolina. It’s older than the United States of America.”


Watch this: Meet the Yukon First Nations writing squad that hopes to get more modern and prominent Indigenous figures on Wikipedia

When looking for Indigenous figures, there’s not much information popping up on Wikipedia.

Now a group of Yukon writers has started a Wiki-thon event to change that. 

See the video here.


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