This Week in Native American News (6/2/17): dinosaurs, tweets, and teepees

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June 2, 2017

Great People Doing Great Things: Artist Teaches the History of Native Marker Trees

marker trees downes and otchingwanigan

Local artist and author Dennis Downes of Antioch is a trail-marker tree researcher and gives frequent talks about Native American sign posts and culture, including one this week in Waukegan, Illinois, for the Waukegan Harbor Citizen's Advisory Group (CAG).

In Winnetka, trees shaped liked trail-marker trees are in Indian Hill Park, a roadside landscaped area near the village's Metra station, and at Sunset Park, where Downes did a council circle of trees.

"It's educating children about American Indian history, and maybe they will study more," he said. "I've received letters from all over from children whose interests were triggered, some just became interested in trees in general."

Downes has been researching the trees and talking to every expert he could find, from Steve Young, a local Potawatomi expert, to Earl Otchingwanigan, cultural bearer of the Ojibwe People who is also a professor at Minnesota State University at Bemidji and consultant to the Smithsonian on Native American culture.

Recently, Otchingwanigan bestowed an Ojibwe name on Downes: " Mayaagaabaw," in honor of Downes' work.

Read the whole story here.

Learning Science Through Dinosaur Digs


As the skies clear over the Black Mesa in Oklahoma’s panhandle a group of students begins digging into history. Along the top of one of the mesas is a carefully excavated site.

“In my opinion, there are too few Native Americans in the stem fields, in health care careers.”

Native Explorers are college students who enroll in the intense, hands-on, program that immerses them in learning about science.

Discovery is more than possible because the students take part in an active dig for fossils from the Jurassic Period.

But how to dinosaurs fit into the plan to get students engaged in sciences?

“Dinosaurs, they're compelling everyone's interested in them,” said Dr. Rich Cifelli, the Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman. “They are in a sense a teaser, so we can lure people in with this attractive fishing lure so they are interested in dinosaurs and before they know it they've learned scientific names.”

Read the full story here.

Social Media Amplifies Indigenous Voices, Even When They Don't Agree

tweet lutheran indian ministries

The impacts of social media on national conversations about Indigenous affairs have been revolutionary in the past decade.

They have provided opportunities for Indigenous people to counter the deficit discourse that plagues our media and our institutions.

It has provided individuals, communities, and organizations with the means to engage directly with other Australians on their own terms, for better or worse.

It has also been a crucial tool for breaking down the perception that Indigenous people belong to some imaginary homogenous group, where we all think the same and all do the same, and where solutions to complex issues can be presented in terms of "what Aboriginal people want" or "what Aboriginal people don't want".

Read the full story (about the beliefs and desires of Australian Aboriginal people with regard to constitutional recognition).

Similarly, in the US, Native peoples don't always see eye to eye, like these opposing views FOR and AGAINST the Bears Ear National Monument.

In this and every disagreement, let's take the time to listen to both sides with patience, love, and an open mind.

Airbnb in trouble, Apologizes

airbnb teepee lutheran indian ministries

An Airbnb post that featured a teepee and advertised an "off the grid" experience in "true Sioux style" is drawing criticism from Native Americans scholars and activists for thoughtlessly and inaccurately using American Indian references to promote a listing.

Airbnb has since offered an apology.

"We should not have used this language and we want to apologize to everyone for our poor judgement," Nick Papas, an Airbnb spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News by email. "We have deleted these posts."

Read the whole story here.

It's hard to fit so much news in such a small space.
To read all of this week's news, visit the LIM Magazine.

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