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Sonny Glass (Cherokee, Seneca-Cayuga,
Quapaw) & Aman.
Photo by Eldon Leiter
A Selection of Letters to the Editor Iss. 29.
International Partnership
I saw your magazine for the first time this past weekend and thought you might be able to assist me in the following. I am looking for partners in Europe. I have been in the museum profession for 25+ years and have many contacts in the US. I am looking for partners in Asia and Europe at this time.
I would like to ask you if you can advise me of any museum partners (business, individuals, or other resources) that would like to share the Native American culture and American West Heritage with their fellow Europeans.
I believe this could be very beneficial for both the Cultural Center and it’s partners. I would appreciate any leads you could provide of interested parties. Seeking co-operative partners in Asia and Europe as well as other interested areas. We want to share the American West culture and history with the world. We utilise American West historians and Oklahoma’s Native American Nations to interpret various storylines of the American West.
Our partners could be existing museums, businesses that have exhibit space or individuals.
I am developing a museum complex in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA. Tribes of Native Americans (Indians) had long occupied what we now know as Oklahoma. Between 1830 and 1906 Oklahoma was known as Indian Territory. Still today many identify Oklahoma as Indian Territory. Today there are 39 federally recognised Native American Nations in Oklahoma with a number of other nonfederal recognised tribes. There are more Native Americans in Oklahoma than any other state with California being the possible exception based on census reports.
In addition to the Native American, this is also the true American West. The museum will be interpreting the West in general with a special emphasis on Native Americans as well as all the cultures that make the American West what it was and has become today.
I am looking to find museums with a special interest in Native Americans and the American West and who would like to have a co-operative arrangement with The Indian Territory Cultural Complex; ‘Sister Museums’ so to speak. Our Indian Terri-tory museum would provide travelling exhibits and authentic Native American and American West arts, crafts, and other items to our sister museums. Our museum could also provide Native American dancers and story tellers, buffalo soldiers, spur makers, saddle makers, chuck wagon cook outs, cowboy poets, and so much more. We can provide other museums with the ‘real west’ atmosphere.
Please let me know of any possibly interested museums and a contact name and address.
Ralph Hutto
Indian Territory Cultural Complex
9850 Whipperwill Lane, Broken Arrow, OK 74014 or
email rhutto@flash.net or (918) 486-0046.
Appreciation
It has been awhile since I have been in contact with my thoughts and opinions, so here I am. For the first time it is not on paper sent by post but instead electronically! Not a bad way to communicate.
I have read the latest issue of American Indian Review (AIR 27). Every time I receive the magazine, I am always astounded by the artwork on the front cover, that alone invites me to look inside and it’s no different this time. From front to back the magazine was well worth the read but for me the following stood out:
The article by Robert Mull about BIA’s apology was a surprise. Not just the apology but also that the BIA is now 90% Indian! Although I am non-indian I know this to be a very special moment and Kevin Gover’s words show that past and present wrongs are a step closer to being undone, that it is another step in the healing process and that the BIA at least might be willing to turn things around. I wonder if Bush will do anything? What do Indians think of Bush?
It is probably fitting that the next article I want to mention is regarding the Mashpee Wampanoag People by Liz Hill (with Glenn Marshall).These are the people that helped the European settlers to survive and the day is remembered at Thanksgiv-ing. All this time, 400 years, and yet they still wait for their rights to be recognised. They are non-treaty Indians which as I understand it means they have never warred against the whites or ceded any land. Surely Americans can see that remembering a certain day and not remembering and respecting that contact is wrong? Perhaps the new BIA can act quickly and put the Washpee Wampanoag People on the ‘active list’?
The next I want to mention is Charley Billy telling of his visit to England. It was superb and funny. The Heyokas sound great! I hope he got back to his homeland safely and is no longer homesick. Liked the jokes: short sighted lawyer, a case of detection and muddled vision. Great punchlines!
Wanted to mention others but have taken up enough of your time. Keep up the good work.
Jean-Jacques. UK
Missing Information
In reading your wonderful magazine I noticed in the ‘Letters to the Editor section’ in the spring 2001 edition (AIR 28) a reference to the book Black Elk Lives [i.e., Missing Information, Joan Richmond Upshire, Herts, England UK] I would like to point out to any folks interested in reading this book, that it too has ‘missing information’. Near the back of the book there is a page which prints out the Black Elk family tree. From this tree are missing two members of the Black Elk family, one of which is well known to those of us interested in Lakota history. Children of Henry Black Elk and Agnes Hollow Horn, should include not only Emeline Black Elk, but Mikiyela, and Charlotte. Charlotte has been in at least one film made about the Lakota people, In The Spirit of Crazy Horse, and has appeared in a documentary on Public Television. She was also interviewed by Ian Frazier in his recent book On the Rez. Ian pointedly comments how it was very important to him that he speak with her. “A person on the reservation who I especially wanted to meet”, he says. Additionally there is no mention at all of her in the book Black Elk Lives. This seems to me to be a significant oversight (if indeed that is what it is). I would be interested in any comment from anyone out there has concerning this.
Jack L. Quick,
Swansboro, North Carolina 28584. USA.
The Wheel of Fortune
by Woody Kipp (Sun Chief) Member of the Blackfeet Nation
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
I just finished reading Jeff Benedict’s book titled Without Reservation. There are probably as many unsaid – implied – assertions made in the book as there are explications of the Native American casino gambling phenomena that has natives and non-natives alike screeching and beseeching. It is one of the few books in the latter half of the 20th century that deals with native peoples on the east coast. There have been tribes, such as the Northern Cheyenne in southeastern Montana, who have set up casinos which draw almost exclusively upon their own reservation population for patronage. The Cheyennes are far from any urban populations. Not so the Pequots of Connecticut. They are a couple of hours away from New York City. There are other sizeable cities also within an easy drive of the Pequot casino, The Foxwoods. That part of the United States is famous for the storms that come boiling off the Atlantic, what the residents of that particular geography call Nor’easters; many is the ship that ghostly rests with its sailors and cargo on the ocean floor; the waves roll in and sometimes alter the landscape. That’s what Foxwoods has done. The incredible amount of money rolling into Foxwoods has altered the terrain for Indians, not only in Connecticut but across the country.
According to Benedict the former CEO of Foxwoods, Skip Hayward, when he married a white woman in the mid 70s, claimed on his marriage license application that he was white. Then, when it became a possibility a few short years later that a casino might be built on ancestral Pequot land, it didn’t take Hayward long to claim his Pequot ancestry, to renounce being a white man. It paid off, for Hayward and the Pequots and for some others who might not even have any Pequot blood but were admitted onto the tribal rolls; you need members to have a tribe and at one point Hayward was desperate for people to join his tribe. No tribe, no casino. When the Pequot casino started making money Donald Trump felt threatened as he had a casino in New Jersey; he went on talk radio and said he had seen the Pequot members – they all looked like they were relatives of Michael Jordan the black basketball player. Other people said some other of the Pequot members could have walked into a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan or the Daughters of the American Revolution and nobody would have batted an eye they were that white. Black Pequots and White Pequots. Money and politics do indeed make strange bedfellows. Whether any of the Pequots looked like Indians apparently didn’t and doesn’t matter.....
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© Copyright American Indian Review. All rights reserved. Republication or dissemination of the material provided by American Indian Review is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of American Indian Review. The opinions expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors, the publishers or the staff of American Indian Review
Appreciating Traditional Indian Art
A Political Perspective by Anthony Layng
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
Complex geometric designs on pottery, intricate beadwork on leather clothing, ornate feather headdresses, whimsical carved effigies on soapstone pipes, all of these are familiar examples of traditional American Indian art. Museum displays devoted to illustrating the ancient artistic abilities of Native Americans nearly always include some, if not all, of these aesthetically enhanced artifacts. This artistic heritage remains evident today in the highly esteemed works of professional Indian artists.
Three hundred years ago, most indigenous art between the Rio Grande and the 48th parallel was prodigious but relatively modest. In contrast to the elaborate ceremonial and architectural art produced by populations such as the Tlingit and Haida of western Canada, and the Aztecs and Maya in Mexico, native arts in what was to become the United States were less elaborate and less sophisticated. Iroquois false face society masks, though aesthetically pleasing, pale in comparison to the naturalistic portrait masks and the spectacular mechanical transformation masks that were prevalent on the Canadian Pacific coast. Similarly, Navajo sand painting and Sioux pictographs on tipis are charming but relatively simple when compared to Mayan temple murals and Aztec codices.
It is not that Indians living between what is now Canada and Mexico were somehow lacking in innate aesthetic ability or had insufficient creativity; contemporary Indian art, so commercially successful today, demonstrates that Indians are capable of a very high level of aesthetic creativity. Clearly, the fact that so much pre-contact Indian art was relatively simple cannot be accounted for by any lack of innate artistic ability. Traditional Native American art was relatively modest because of the political environment that shaped this art.
Pre-Columbian indigenous art in central North America was relatively less elaborate because most Indian societies there were relatively democratic. Most had neither a rigid class structure nor even, usually, any clear hierarchy of male status groups. This is in sharp contrast to the political structure of Mesoamerican cities (Teotihuacan, Tenochtitlan, etc.) and states (Toltec, Aztec, Zapotec, Maya, etc.) and the sedentary chiefdoms along the Northwest Pacific coast (Kwakiutl, Tlingit, Haida, Nootka, etc.).
Generally, the only inherited statuses in egalitarian societies are those of male and female. Women in these societies may be politically subordinate to men, but the indigenous states of Mexico and the Northwest Coast chiefdoms of Canada had far more complex and undemocratic social structures. These were highly stratified societies, limiting political power to those of ‘proper’ birth, assigning others to the role of commoner or slave. Exalted prestige and lavish wealth were available to very few. One’s clan affiliation determined what opportunities one might have to climb socially or what restrictions might preclude social advancement.
In socially stratified societies, art is inevitably highly evolved. This is so for Asian or African societies too, where kingdoms produced far more sophisticated art than did egalitarian tribes. Highly hierarchical societies (states and some non-nomadic chiefdoms) depend on lavish rituals and imposing constructions to maintain productivity, order, and loyalty among the unranked (peasants, workers, slaves, common soldiers, etc.). Such hierarchical societies inevitably used art to awe and, therefore, to control the masses, ultimately to prevent insurrection and revolution against those who monopolised power, wealth, and privilege. Royalty, everywhere, has a long history of resorting to opulent architecture, luxuriant clothing, and lavish ornamentation to impress the commoners and, thus, legitimise their own exalted status. But very few North American populations had any privileged classes......
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© Copyright American Indian Review. All rights reserved. Republication or dissemination of the material provided by American Indian Review is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of American Indian Review. The opinions expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors, the publishers or the staff of American Indian Review
Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad
by Jim Kent
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
America’s railroads expanded the nation, established towns along their routes and carried goods and passengers to places they’d never been before. It seemed the only people who didn’t benefit from railroads were the American Indians whose lands they crossed. 130 years after the completion of America’s first transcontinental railroad, the ‘Iron Horse’ is coming again, but this time non-Indian ranchers and farmers living on the Northern Plains are joining American Indians in their battle against its invasion of their lands.
Simply put, the issue involves the Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad – D M & E – based in Brookings, South Dakota. In 1998, D M & E filed an application with the federal Surface Transportation Board, in Washington, D.C., requesting approval to construct 260 miles of new track and rebuild 600 miles of existing line. The primary purpose for the expansion is to haul coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin through South Dakota and into Minnesota to energy plants east of the Mississippi.
D M & E president Kevin Schieffer claims the expansion is essential for both the survival of his company as well as the very existence of a viable railroad in South Dakota (both the Burlington-Northern and the Union Pacific Railroads run trains through the state). He has promised an economic boon to all those communities the railroad will cross and guaranteed that 100’s of jobs will be created along the new route. He’s gained the unbridled support of members of the South Dakota Farm Bureau by assuring them that the railroad will haul more of their agricultural products to buyers beyond the state’s borders. Finally, he has met with representatives, mostly elders, of Lakota tribes and indicated that he will do everything in his power to safeguard sensitive Indian cultural and historic sites that the railroad’s expansion would otherwise interfere with.
In Schieffer’s own words, D M & E has been “responsive to the concerns of the people” and “re-sponsible enough to realise the impact the expansion will have” on people living along its route. He maintains he is open to suggestions from anyone, supporter or opponent, that will assist in getting the railroad completed with the least impact on ranchers, farmers and American Indians, stating that “the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement”. He continues to insist that the planned expansion is a “railroad infrastructure project” and not a coal project, in spite of the fact that D M & E’s line will be built directly into Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal fields. Such communication between a railroad and those impacted by its presence has been virtually unheard of in the past – particularly for American Indians. So if such is the case, why all the concern?
To begin with, there are the Lakota people. Although none of the three proposed routes directly crosses any of their reservation lands, all of the routes cross Lakota treaty lands as outlined in the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868.
“I’m just going to give you four numbers: 1-8-6-8,” said Lakota elder Marie Randall...
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© Copyright American Indian Review. All rights reserved. Republication or dissemination of the material provided by American Indian Review is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of American Indian Review. The opinions expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors, the publishers or the staff of American Indian Review
The Language of Survival
Infusing New Life into Native Languages

by Liz Hill (Red Lake Band of Ojibwe)
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
“This is a quiet crisis, like cancer; it is killing the culture,” Inée Yang Slaughter says, as she talks about the decline of Native American languages. Slaughter is Executive Director of the Santa Fe, N.M. based Indigenous Language Institute (ILI), until August of 2000 known as the Institute for the Preservation of the Original Languages of the Americas (IPOLA). “Trying to convey that to the public is very challenging; it’s easier for people to talk about saving whales and pandas.”
Across the US, Native American languages are in peril. At a recent symposium in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the ILI and the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) to focus national attention on the state of Native American languages, the reports – delivered by Native linguists, language instructors, practitioners and a sprinkling of Tribal leaders from places as far away as Alaska – were alarming. Three hundred indigenous languages probably existed in North America prior to European contact, but that number has dropped considerably. “Ap-proximately 150 Native languages are spoken in the U.S. today; all are endangered,” Gerald L. Hill, President of the Board Directors of the ILI, says. “Some communities are down to their last handful of speakers, so some languages will become extinct in our lifetimes. It’s already happening.”
Native languages have been under attack ever since the first Europeans landed on North American shores in the 1400s and indigenous peoples were obliged over the following centuries to adapt to the introduction of strange new languages. However, by the late 1880s, the situation was greatly exacerbated when government boarding schools were ordered to instruct classes to students exclusively in English. Indian students, discouraged from using their languages in any context, who didn’t obey were punished, often severely. This federal policy of forbidding Native language use in schools continued well into the 20th century.
In 1990, more than 100 years after the initial policy restricting the use of Native languages, a new federal law called the Native American Languages Act was enacted. It affirmed the importance of Native American languages to the ongoing survival of the indigenous cultures of this land. By that time, however, the damage inflicted on both the psyches and cultures of 1000’s of Native people and to their languages had been done. It has been estimated that up to 150 languages were lost during this time, while leaving the ones remaining in an extremely fragile state.
Joanna Hess, Co-Founder and Director of the Napa Contemporary Arts Foundation (NACA), founded IPOLA – now the ILI, - in 1992. At the time, Hess was in Switzerland, where she had been living for the past 36 years. The inspiration to start the organisation was a trip to Second Mesa, on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona, that she took with her daughter, Alexandra, who was completing her A-Level thesis on Hopi culture. (This actually was not Hess’s first introduction to indigenous languages; she is multi-lingual and had previously been involved with the preservation of the Tibetan language. “It is in my bones, somehow,” she says.) “While I was there at Second Mesa, I met with the Director of Secondary School Education, and I naively asked: ‘Is your language taught?,’” Hess recalls. “He answered ‘no,’ because it – the language - was considered a dialect by the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs).” Hess, shocked, immediately responded by asking if she could “do something about it,” and he gave her permission to try. IPOLA was born.
The organisation’s initial years were not without their challenges to Hess personally.........
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© Copyright American Indian Review. All rights reserved. Republication or dissemination of the material provided by American Indian Review is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of American Indian Review. The opinions expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors, the publishers or the staff of American Indian Review
An American Redwolf Goes to Washington Part 2
by Charley Billy (Choctaw/Lakota)
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
It had been about four days since I returned to Turtle Island from England. The first thing to catch my attention, aside from the obvious nasally American accents which I never knew I also had until I left, were the American flags permeating every nook and cranny of available space. But then I thought, okay it’s Washington DC, the capital of American ethics and standards, of patriotic family values (acceptable ones, where the family is the Aryan-looking Jack Armstrong and the only ‘ethnic’ faces seen are the Japanese gardener and the El Salvadoran maid); but ya gotta fly the colours to show the rest of the world what real patriotism is all about! Don’t get me wrong, I used to occasionally dig seeing the American flag overseas at embassies or hotels, just above the friendly sign that tells you this establishment will gladly accept your American dollars; and I definitely saw plenty stars and bars during my time ‘incountry’ in Southeast Asia. But even then I could never forget that same American flag flying in front of a burning Sand Creek, Colorado Cheyenne village. It apparently didn’t mean any more than the cloth it was printed on because a Mr. Colonel Chivington happened to be in a killing mood that morning.
Ever since I got to DC, I had an uneasy feeling, like I was being watched. It was different than the paranoia you get in cities like LA or Chicago, because there you know the local muggers who can spot an out-of-towner in a New York minute are watching you. DC is more like Big Brother. You’d see Washingtonians jogging everywhere, as if in training for some great coming war. That was probably why Clinton always looked so goofy when he jogged. Considering that the seat of American power is surrounded by three of the poorest neighbourhoods in the US, it kind of reminds you of a very short, rich man surrounded by hungry wolves.
The irony for me, however, was climbing up that annoying hill where the Washington Monument sits, that great concrete phallic finger telling the rest of the world where to stick it only to see the contrasting sober and calming tipis just on the other side.
One of the best things for me is to stumble onto a powwow. You’d see a couple of parked cars and pick-up trucks with bumper stickers like ‘Official Indian Car’, ‘Fry Bread Powered’ or that one with the drawing of the head of a Lakota chief and the words: ‘I’m (your tribe here) and Proud of it!’ Then you listen for the sound of drumming to pinpoint where exactly the powwow is, until the drumming is thundering in your ears and the group of singers’ voices fill the air punctuated by the sound of dancers’ bells. Finally you notice the little sign drawn in a big black marks-o-lot marker: Powwow.
I approached the tipis grinning like a sailor on shore leave. I hadn’t been around any other Indians since before I left for England over 18 months ago.
“What’s going on?” I asked some girls at a booth.
“They’re going to have a ‘Heal the Earth’ prayer vigil tomorrow at sunrise.”
Heal the Earth? I felt my grin fade. It wasn’t a powwow, after all. That figured, the way this trip had been so far I wasn’t surprised. Trust that trickster Iktomi to take all the wind out of my sails again. It was probably some new age ‘Indian expert’ telling people how to achieve total solidarity with Mother Earth and charging $250 per head to do it. I pictured special guest Little Richard jumping up and down preaching to the masses for donations just before a gospel rendition of Good Golly Miss Molly.
“Oh, no,” the girl explained. “it’s a concept which was brought here four years ago by Native American elders in Seattle. They’ve got a lot of other tribes involved and now it’s attracting holy people from all over the world. We’ve got Celtic Druids, Christians, Jewish rabbis, Shinto priests, Tibetan monks, Buddhists and a few Lakota elders. Arvol Looking Horse, who’s a Lakota pipe carrier is going to be there, too.”......
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“You Can’t Keep a Rez Dog Down”
by Cinda Hughes (Kiowa)
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
Keith DeHaas comes from a long line of nomads, both Indian and European. As owner of Rez Dog Clothing Company, he travels the powwow trail selling his line of t-shirts with designs on the cutting edge of Indian humour. Keith has found a way to follow the admonition of Sitting Bull regarding the white world, “If it is good, use it. If not, throw it away”.
The history of his family is extremely interesting and has a direct impact on the life of this young Indian entrepreneur. His maternal great-grandfather, Major James McLaughlin, was the man who ordered the arrest of Sitting Bull, leading to his assasination. Ironically, McLaughlin married into the Mdewakantonwon Sioux tribe. Their son, Harry McLaughlin, served as an interpreter for legendary showman Buffalo Bill. His paternal great-grandfather, Charles Bradlaw Thompson, hailed from Lancaster, England, but his adventurous spirit longed to explore the Americas. Luckily, circumstances kept him from boarding the ill-fated Titanic. Charles took another ship and landed in Canada. He ended up in Nevada working for an Indian boarding school where he met and married a daughter of the last hereditary Chief of the Otoes, Ar-ke-ke-tah. Charles and family moved from Nevada to the Otoe reservation in Oklahoma to be with the tribe.
The British RAF (Royal Air Force) trained in Ponca City during the war. Seven pilots were killed during training exercises and buried in Oklahoma. Charles tended to the needs of his fellow countrymen while they were alive as well as tending to their graves. He was awarded an MBE from Britain for this meritorious service and ultimately chose to be buried alongside his countrymen.
Succeeding generations graduated college and became professors and business owners. The family is proud of their heritage from both sides of the Atlantic. Keith’s father, William, has taught in college as well as being a small business owner. Keith was taught by his father to think for himself and to be self-reliant. That he is.
This Indian family is notably unscathed by the social ills associated with oppression. The destructiveness linked with substance abuse and domestic violence is so stereotypically prevalent in popular conceptions of reservation life. Admittedly, there are pockets where this is an unfortunate reality. However, positive examples of Indian families functioning and progressing are regrettably rare in media depictions of families who live on the reservation. There is no denying that those who live on the reservation face many hardships. But often these harsh realities are met with dark humour. This bleak humour searches for reflection in the symbolism of popular culture. Symbolism and iconography retain their importance in the everyday lives of America’s tribal peoples. However, the relevance of symbolism to Indian culture has evolved through the centuries.
Long outdated is the romanticism of the iconic noble savage. Today’s Indian youth may no longer reflect the stoic image of the lone warrior on the plains, but they still like to count coup in their own way. Keith and his family found a way for today’s Indian to express their inherent spirit of rebellion........
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© Copyright American Indian Review. All rights reserved. Republication or dissemination of the material provided by American Indian Review is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of American Indian Review. The opinions expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors, the publishers or the staff of American Indian Review
New Definitions of American Antiquity:
a book review by Bruce E. Johansen
The Settlement of the Americas by Thomas D. Dillehay
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
The Bering Strait Theory (asserting that all ancestors of present-day Native Americans arrived via a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska) has taken its lumps recently. One of the largest credibility problems for the theory may be that the oldest human remains are now being found, for the most part, in South America, which one would have expected to have been the last stop for peoples arriving from the north.
In The Settlement of the Americas, Thomas D. Dillehay, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky, illustrates, in rich detail (and for the first time), the number and complexity of archeological finds in South America which are undermining long-time support for exclusive diffusion of human cultures in North America along a trail of Clovis points. Humanity’s prehistory in the Americas is, contends Dillehay, older and more complex than that.
Dillehay observes that “No major region of South America is without Ice Age sites. In some places, such as the eastern highlands of Brazil, the Andean foothills on the north coast of Peru, and the steppes of southern Chile and Argentina, such sites can be found in profusion.” Some of these cultures developed sophisticated weapons, such as the sling stone and grooved bola stone. A number and variety of such weapons have been found in Chilean and Brazilian sites. For scholars seeking projectile points, Dillehay provides a rich variety from across the continent. Some of these points (an example is called the ‘Fishtail Projectile Point’) may have diffused from South America to North America.
“Many books have been written about the archaeology of the first North Americans and the process that led to their arrival and dispersion throughout the Americas,” says Dillehay, “no such book exists for South America.” Carrying different assumptions and speaking different languages, North and South American scholars searching for the earliest human origins in the Americas have often looked away from each other. Dillehay, whose book should be translated into Spanish and Portuguese, has removed any excuses for such academic isolation.
Dillehay’s book includes a lengthy appendix listing 100’s of significant archeological finds in South America, several of which predate the oldest Clovis sites in North America. Dillehay began his work on one of the best-known of these, Monte Verde in Southern Chile, during 1976, “after a student at the Southern University of Chile, where I was teaching and doing archeological research, discovered a large mastodon tooth and other bones”. Local men clearing an ox path had found the bones. Monte Verde, an open-air settlement on the banks of a small fresh-water creek, surrounded by sandy knolls, a narrow bog, and forest, soon became an active archeological dig.
Artifacts from Monte Verde were radiocarbon dated as being 12,500 years old (at a minimum), making them the oldest known links to human settlement in the Americas. (No Clovis site has been dated earlier than 11,200 years before the present.) Over the years, Dillehay has directed up to 80 professionals at a time who have been excavating Monte Verde......
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© Copyright American Indian Review. All rights reserved. Republication or dissemination of the material provided by American Indian Review is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of American Indian Review. The opinions expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors, the publishers or the staff of American Indian Review
Nothing Sacred
by Daniel Kraker
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
A decade ago, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) cleared the way for Indian tribes to recover cultural artifacts and human remains from museum collections. After a lengthy Native American lobbying effort, spearheaded in large part by the Hopi, George Bush finally signed the bill in 1990. Under the terms of the legislation, federally funded institutions are required to provide summaries of their collections and release items of cultural and religious significance to tribes that request their return. NAGPRA seemed to be a monumental victory for Native Americans. However, its unforeseen consequences have created a serious health threat: 100’s of artifacts have been contaminated with arsenic, mercury, and other toxins applied by museums themselves.
Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, director of the Hopi tribe’s Cultural Preservation Office, first learned about the poisoning in 1995. He was at Harvard’s Peabody Museum arranging for the repatriation of three Hopi artifacts known as Katsina Friends. During discussions with Peabody officials, he discovered the unfathomable: the Friends had been poisoned to prevent insect decay. To the Hopi, these objects are much more than mere assemblages of leather and feathers, yarn and paint. “In Hopi,” explains Kuwanwisiwma, “these objects have life and spirit. [They] are just like your son, your mother. It’s part of our living human community that has been contaminated with poison.”
By the time Kuwanwisiwma learned about the poisons, the Hopi had already repatriated some 60 objects and returned them to their owners on the reservation, who performed reconsecration ceremonies to welcome the sacred items back to their homeland. Many of the items were restored with new feathers and paint. Most ominously, many artifacts had already been worn and used in ceremonies, stored in clan houses, and even brought into underground, poorly ventilated religious chambers called kivas.
Museums applied pesticides to organic materials from the mid-nineteenth century until the 1970s. Mercury and arsenic were the most common pesticides employed, but other chemicals that are now banned for use as pesticides were also applied, including carbon tetrachloride and ethylene dichloride, which are both classified by the EPA as probable carcinogens. The thinking was that contaminated artifacts would be forever safely ensconced in glass. But that all changed when NAGPRA became a federal law a decade ago. Tribes like the Hopi, the Hoopa of Southern California, and the Seneca Nation of New York are all bringing artifacts back to use them in ceremonies. This has taken museums by surprise and presented a whole host of public-health concerns. And it has underscored a fundamental disparity between museums that have treated these artifacts as relics needing to be preserved at all cost and tribes, especially the Hopi, who see them as living, sacred beings.
The fact that some artifacts are well over 200 years old and still exist in museum collections is testament to how well these contaminants have worked. But residues these poisons have left behind pose serious, and in some cases severe, health risks to Indian tribes. A few years ago, the Hopi tried to repatriate artifacts from a collection in Santa Fe’s School of American Research. “One item,” says Kuwanwisiwma, “was found to have 300 to 3000 times the accepted level of arsenic. It is so hazardous that the Arizona Poison Control Center simply told the Hopi tribe, ‘Please never ask for it back’”. Lucas Namoki, a Hopi tribal member who works for the Indian Health Service, doesn’t understand why collectors didn’t tell the Hopi people that they had applied chemicals to their artifacts. He considers this just another example of the lack of communication between the Hopi and non-Indians.
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Coyote Captured on Canvas
An Anthology of Anarchy and Irony in Native American Art
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
The Trickster figure often portrayed as Coyote, is a powerful and ubiquitous symbol throughout Native American myth and story telling. A clown, a knave, sometimes sinister, sometimes playful, the trickster brings wit, irony and a sense of the ridiculous to any situation. He is the creator and the destroyer, he can be the catalyst for change, he is without morality, neither good nor evil and yet he is responsible for both. He is the synthesis of chaos but within the world in which he roams he brings reason and order. The Trickster’s countless adventures and comic exploits have served to educate and entertain generations of Native Americans. He forces one to question the obvious, to explore the complexities of life with an open mind; he brings important ideas alive.
Traditionally artists have challenged established concepts and make people think with their work. From time immemorial, throughout the world, artists have sought revolution, social change and solutions to injustice with their imagery. The trickster is anarchy and revolution personified, thus it is not surprising we can see his sly and devious sense of irony in the work of many Native American artists. Some introduce the figure of the Triskster into their paintings. Other artists utilise his sense of comic irony in their work.
The Trickster Shift by Allan J Ryan is a glorious celebration of Native American humour. The author explores the Trickster’s presence in contemporay art wherein the humour is characterised by frequent teasing, outrageous punning, surprising association, subtlety, layers of serious reference and considerable compassion. The artists are given an opportunity to offer their insights into the creative process, and their take on the nature of humour. As well as Ryan’s commentary, and that of the artists, elders, actors, writers, liguists, anthropologists and art historians make their contributions with poems, prose, lyrics and personal anecdotes. The mystery of the Trickster will never be unravelled, but The Trickster Shift allows the reader a deeper comprehension of his influence on all our lives, as well as his deep significance to Native Americans........
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Illustrating Stories for the Seventh Generation
by Nancy Cruger (Abenaki)
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
Rick Hunt has always wanted to be an artist. Ever since he can remember. Ever since he was old enough to pick up a pencil, that’s all he ever wanted to do, much to the consternation of his mother. In grade school he won poster contests and took every opportunity to create for others. He would design handbills community events. He sent away for cartooning courses in the back of comic books and read any book he could get his hands on about Picasso and other masters of modern art.
Growing up in the small New Hampshire town of Littleton located in the rural White Mountains, he haunted notable commercial artist Claude L. Bruss-eaus’ studio. Bruss-eaus created tourist pamphlets, maps and illustrations for every attraction in the state. He took Hunt under his wing and taught him how to use an airbrush and other trade secrets.
It was in the summer of 1965 that Rick Hunt had the good fortune to visit Cape Cod, Massachusetts and met a family friend, Jeanne Callus, a painter, who took him to the studios and galleries of Bohemian Provincetown. Hunt remembers driving to the tip of the peninsula in a small red convertible sports car with a very tall abstract painting flapping in the wind from the backseat. In Provincetown, he was introduced to a number of famous artists and took in the sights and sounds that impressed the young boy. The carefree beards, the sandals, the surf, miniskirts, tanned and beautiful women, and the smells of turpentine and linseed oil, all made a lasting impression, one that influenced the course the 12 year old artist was to take. Thereafter Hunt committed himself to his art, carrying a well-worn illustrated art history book with him every where – even to gym class.
Always a ‘creative kid’ he never quite fitted in with the traditional academic system. At 16 he was introduced to Professor Kenneth Westhaver at Franconia College. Professor Westhaver offered an alternative academic experience in the neighbouring town of Franconia, New Hampshire. On weekends in West-haver’s studio Hunt’s eyes were opened to the processes of etching and offset printing. Soon he was enrolled as the youngest student at Franconia College. He attended life classes, learned to paint and sculpt, and wrote poetry. Hunt was aware of his Native American background, but wasn’t really aware of how it influenced the undercurrents of his life and, ultimately, his art. He spent his adolescence in the late ‘60s, on a chemical ‘vision quest’, a quest that has influenced much of his art and future career as a drug and alcohol abuse councillor........
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© Copyright American Indian Review. All rights reserved. Republication or dissemination of the material provided by American Indian Review is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of American Indian Review. The opinions expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors, the publishers or the staff of American Indian Review
Pied Piper of the Powwows
by Leanna K Potts photos by Eldon Leiter
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
The powwow is beginning. The dancers are slowly making their way from the campground and cars to the dance arena. In the still dissipating heat of the day, there is little hurry to begin the evening’s round of inter-tribal and contest dances. The sky is a hazy blue, belying the heat. An evening breeze has begun to waft its way across the grounds helping to cool the Gourd Dancers as they finish their last round of songs. Participants and spectators slowly fill the bleachers and benches around the arena. Others set their lawn chairs wherever space is available. Just as the Gourd Society finishes the last shake of their rattles, a murmur begins to circle the arena through the crowd. Heads turn and watch the approach of an imposing 6’ 4” Feather Fancy dancer arrayed in pink and white feathers. In one hand he carries his fan and whistle, in the other is a plain, slightly worn denim duffel bag. People begin nudging each other and whispering: “Aman’s here.” “Aman Little Dancer’s arrived.” “Look, Aman’s finally here.”
The children become excited and crane their necks for a look to confirm the rumours. Some of the children begin to shyly wander over to the bench where the Fancy Dancer has the duffel bag. Oddly enough, it is not to the Fancy Dancer who has their attention but rather the duffel bag that he was carrying. It is A Man Little Dancer’s mobile home. Aman, as he is known, is a marionette, or stringed puppet, and, in his short life, has become extremely popular with both children and adults at powwows. Aman’s companion is Fancy Dancer Sonny Glass, often referred to as The Pied-Piper of the Powwows. He was given this title after Aman’s premier dance performance in 1992 at an Honour Dance for Chief Allan, former Tribal Chief of the Seneca-Cayuga’s. At that powwow, so many children surrounded Sonny and Aman, they could hardly move around the arena. As Sonny left the arena with the children in tow, it was commented that he looked like the ‘Pied Piper’.......
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© Copyright American Indian Review. All rights reserved. Republication or dissemination of the material provided by American Indian Review is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of American Indian Review. The opinions expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors, the publishers or the staff of American Indian Review
Stoney Creek Woman
The Story of Mary John
by Bridget Moran
Part Nine
Issue Number 29 Summer 2001
Like most women I date many of the happenings in my life from the times when my children were born. I will say, “We must have built our second house in 1943 because Bernice was just a year old when we moved into it,” or, “Our ball team won that year. I remember that I was pregnant with Florence.”
Over the years, between 1930, when I was 17, and 1949, when I was 36, I had 12 children, six girls and six boys. Some were born in the village, some on the trapline or at our hunting grounds. Not one of my children was born in a hospital. My mother acted as a midwife for me; when I lost her, my aunts or other relatives were with me when I gave birth.
Some of the midwives practiced the old ways of Native medicine. We call it the laying on of hands. We believe that some Native women have a gift of healing in their hands. When I was 17 and having Winnie, my first child, there was an elderly midwife who put her hands across my back and stroked me. I can still remember how that stroking made the pain less. The labour pains did not stop, but they were greatly eased.
And oh, that cup of tea that was brought to me after each child was born tasted so good! All through the labour, a person could say to herself, “I’ll have a nice cup of hot tea when this is over.” There was something very comforting about the thought of that cup of tea.
One birth I remember well. Ernie, my fourth son, was born in Wedgewood in 1945. It was September, and the baby was due at any time. I thought that I would go into the hospital in Vanderhoof and deliver my baby in comfort for once. Wedgewood was only four train stops from Vanderhoof. The train came through at midnight. I thought that when my labour pains started, I would just hop on the train and for the first time in my life, enjoy the luxury of hospital care. Things didn’t work out quite as I had planned.
We had two tents set up in Wedgewood, with a campfire between the two. In one was Lazare, me, and our daughter Winnie who had stayed home from school to help me. In the other was Aunt Monica and her husband. He had just returned from the Second World War. My aunt and I had been working very hard, slicing up meat and scraping hides. The men had killed many moose that fall. It was heavy heavy work. Lazare intended to build a cabin so that we could spend the winter there.
Suddenly, one evening after working hard all day, my labour pains started. I dressed myself and packed a few things to take with me on the train. The pains became worse.
I said to my aunt, “I’ll never be able to get on the train,” and I took my clothes off. Once I was undressed, I said to Aunt Monica, “I’m afraid! What if I should start bleeding or something?”
Sick as I was, I dressed myself again - and again I realised that I would not be able to get on the train. Finally Aunt Monica said to me, “Give up the notion of going to the
hospital – you’ll never make it! Have the baby here. Don’t worry – we’ll manage!”
The men built a big fire between the two tents, and with the light of the campfire making my tent as bright as day, Ernie was born after a long hard labour.
“It’s a boy! It’s a boy!” shouted Aunt Monica. “Oh, he’s going to be the king of the cowboys!” Isn’t it strange? To this day, Ernie would like to be a cowboy! After the birth, Aunt Monica brought me a cup of tea, and oh, it was good!
I rested in the tent for a week.
Lazare had a contract that winter to cut railway ties for a man in Prince George, and it was our intention to spend the winter in Wedgewood, where he was close to a good supply of trees. He used the week when I was resting in the tent to build a log cabin. He felled the trees, cleaned the logs, and within the week he had a good-sized cabin built, with two single windows and a lean-to at the front. He built wooden beds for the kids, and for us, a homemade table and benches.
We had a good supply of food, our B.C. camp stove for heat and cooking, just like the one my parents had had in their cabin, and a coal oil lamp for light in the long winter nights.
We had a home......
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© Copyright American Indian Review. All rights reserved. Republication or dissemination of the material provided by American Indian Review is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of American Indian Review. The opinions expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors, the publishers or the staff of American Indian Review
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