Wild Onion Dinner benefits Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club 

By John Klein
Tulsa World

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) _ Ollie Starr can't recall her first taste of wild onions or drink of sassafras tea.

``We grew up gathering, preparing and eating those foods,'' said Starr, former president of the Indian Women's Pocahontas Club. ``So I don't remember the first time I ever had wild onions or grape dumplings.

``That's just the way it always was. We didn't know any different.''

The Tulsa World reports the Indian Women's Pocahontas Club, the oldest chartered club in Oklahoma, will celebrate one of its oldest traditions with its Wild Onion Dinner, open to the public, on March 23.

``One of the most important things we do is preserve the history and culture of the Cherokee people,'' said Debra West, another former president of the Indian Women's Pocahontas Club. ``So preparing this meal every spring is one of the ways we preserve and educate people about Cherokee culture.

``It is great for us, too. We prepare this meal as a family. We have generations of our family involved. We are passing along knowledge to a new generation.''

The Indian Women's Pocahontas Club has been preserving Cherokee Nation culture and history for 120 years.

``When the club was formed, and for many years after, one of the most important things we did was preserve our history through documents,'' said Starr. ``We have a treasure trove of historical documents of the Cherokee people because we were the only group preserving the documents.

``Recently, through an agreement with Rogers State University, we now have a facility on their campus where we can store documents and preserve them.''

The Pocahontas Club has about 200 members. A monthly meeting is hosted in Claremore, but Pocahontas Club has members across the country.

``We have members from California and Arizona and Florida and Texas _ they live in all areas of the country,'' said West. ``There are major pockets of Cherokees in most of the major cities in the U.S. As a result, we have Pocahontas Club members from most major cities.

``The Indian Women's Pocahontas Club was formed as an important part of the Cherokee people. Although Pocahontas was not Cherokee, she was the most well-known Native American woman of her time. The stories about her at the time said she was a strong, brave and smart woman. The name will never change. It is the first thing in our charter.''

Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker, writing in the Tulsa World last summer, said club members ``serve as valuable caretakers of our culture, our heritage and our communities.''

The club formed on June 29, 1899, in Oowala, in the Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation. That's present-day Rogers County.

The club is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. The average age of Pocahontas Club members is increasing, prompting a push to recruit younger members. Of the 200 members, 40 are at least 80 years old; 14 members in their 90s, and one member is 103 years old.

``Obviously, we want to work on getting a new, younger generation interested in what we do,'' said Clarice Doyle, another active member of the club. ``Our history has to be kept and preserved. That will take a new generation of Cherokee women.''

A grandmother-granddaughter event is among recruitment activities.

``We have to pass on this history and culture by teaching it to younger women,'' Starr said. ``They live in a far different world than the one we grew up in.''

Although it is now a women's club, it counts famed actor and storyteller Will Rogers as a former member. The Indian Women's Pocahontas Club hosts an annual picnic at the Dog Iron Ranch _ birthplace and home of Rogers _ and members lay a memorial wreath at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum during the Will Rogers Days annual celebration in November.

``That is an important part of preserving Cherokee history,'' said West. ``We also are very interested in education. We give out scholarships and are very involved in promoting education. Education was a very important part of Cherokee culture.''

The club is planning a major celebration June 29 for the 120th anniversary of the founding of the club.

In 1899, members came from all over and attended Indian boarding schools across the state.

``So we were a very diverse group of women and we still are,'' said Starr.

Members of the modern Pocahontas Club must be Cherokee women who can trace their ancestry back to the Dawes Roll, a federal census of those living in the Cherokee Nation that was used to allot Cherokee land to citizens in preparation for Oklahoma statehood. The rolls were closed in 1907.

``The best thing we do every year is the Wild Onion Dinner because it is such a family event,'' said Starr.

The Wild Onion Dinner was a Cherokee spring tradition.

``When the wild onions would start coming up, and the sassafras trees had the green bark, which is perfect to make the tea, you knew it was spring,'' said Starr. ``It was always such an exciting time of the year for us as young girls.

``I still get very excited for the Wild Onion Dinner every year. It signals the start of spring. It is about taking from the earth and giving back to the earth.''

___

Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

 

Demand Rising for Diversity Training in St. Paul

By BOB SHAW
St. Paul Pioneer Press

PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Someone has been teasing Samantha.

``Samantha lives with her aunt because her mom is in jail,'' teacher Mary Ross said to her St. Paul kindergarten class. ``Someone said to her, `You don't have a mom! She doesn't love you!' ``

It didn't matter that Samantha was a doll on the teacher's lap. Cries of outrage filled the room: ``Stop saying that!'' ``No way!'' ``Don't worry _ your mom loves you!''

Ross smiled and put the doll aside. It had performed its duties well _ teaching a rudimentary lesson to a receptive audience, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

The dolls were provided by St. Paul-based Amaze consultants, where the business of diversity training is booming. In fact, a spot check of metro-area diversity consultants shows that demand has as much as doubled in the past two years.

It's a response to, among other things, shootings of unarmed black men by police, the Black Lives Matter movement and white supremacist rallies.

The training is usually focused on race, but can be used to address other forms of discrimination, said Victoria Amaris, owner of Putting Change in Motion and a former manager of cultural dynamics for the Greater Twin Cities United Way.

She said diversity consultants offer a grab-bag of awareness-building programs involving Native Americans and Hispanic immigrants, along with groups such as women, bullying victims, gay people and transgender people.

``Don't forget disabilities. I want to be inclusive of everybody,'' said Amaris, who has even given a workshop on obesity discrimination.

All kinds of discrimination are increasing, she said, with racial discrimination leading the way.

``Minnesota Nice has kind of disappeared,'' said Amaris.

The website of the nonprofit Minnesota Compass lists 55 groups that are, not surprisingly, extremely diverse. They sometimes consist of a single person, and sometimes represent international corporations. Fees vary from free to thousands of dollars for multi-month classes.

The results vary, and there are no industry standards to make sure it works.

Indeed, diversity training does not always go smoothly. From 2010-13, the St. Paul school district paid $1.2 million to a San Francisco firm with the goal of running all 6,000 employees through the diversity training.

Results were mixed. Suspensions of minority children dropped, but no evidence emerged that the achievement gap between black and white students was closing. Several teachers said they felt alienated, saying they were expected to ignore student misbehavior because of cultural differences.

The St. Paul district frequently uses outside consultants, according to Hans Ott, assistant superintendent for the Office of Teaching and Learning. He said the outside consultants train teachers more efficiently than the district can do it internally. They also help the district follow its own policies regarding student inclusion.

Although there is no known way to measure the impact of the training sessions, officials say it's worth the money. The cost is often shared by grants, which come from nonprofits or businesses to address issues of discrimination. ``This is good value,'' said Ott.

He has been through training and endorses it. ``I had a positive experience,'' said Ott.

In the 1990s, said Amaris, consultants like her were asked to address discrimination against black people, and little else.

``Today, it's not so much focused on that,'' she said. ``Now, it's diversity and inclusion.''

The change hit Amaris when she got a contract with a chain of beauty salons. If that small business was worried about diversity, she said, the concern was trickling down. She has given workshops for police and dental school students, and got an inquiry recently from a bee-pollinators group.

``People are motivated now,'' said Amaris.

The approaches of the consultants vary.

Often, they are called to act as cultural firefighters, putting out flare-ups of discrimination. Sometimes consultants are expected to fix problems that may have been building for years.

Non-emergency calls happen when a group simply wants to do the right thing, and counter prejudice in any form. For them, consultants prefer to schedule a series of meetings, giving people time to think about the sessions.

That can be effective, said Amaze director Michael _ but the clients should be able to show they are open to change.

Businesses, for example, call when they want to hire more employees of color. ``That's a great thing to strive for,'' said Michael. ``But if you do that, will they be welcome? Will they fit into the culture you have?''

She tries to make individuals aware of bias _ even unconscious bias. All group members should take the training, she said. ``I ask that the maintenance staff be included,'' said Amaris.

Many do not understand the issue. ``They say, `Why can't we just get along with each other?' We have no idea why we are not getting along with each other.''

Interest in the Antiracism Study Dialogue Circles Partnership, based in St. Paul, spiked about three years ago, according to the single-named director, Okogyeamon.

``Not just for us, but across the board,'' he said.

He has taught sessions at the University of Minnesota and Carleton College, and is hosting workshops for officials in the state Department of Human Services.

Only recently, he said, have elements of society realized that racism is their problem _ not the problem of some distant ``other.''

``What is new is the recognition that this truly is an issue, and that it is pervasive,'' said Okogyeamon. ``Racism is playing itself out in life all around them.''

In the kindergarten class at Expo Elementary School recently, the different threads of discrimination were woven together _ with the help of dolls.

Ahlaam, a 5-year-old girl in a black hijab, carried a doll named Sitra to the teacher. The doll, too, wore a hijab. Instead of making the girl an example, the teacher looked at the doll.

``If someone teased her about that, what words would you use?'' teacher Ross asked the class.

``Knock it off!'' shouted one student.

The teacher pointed to another doll, clutched by 5-year-old Finnian. The doll, named Nick, had long curly hair. ``What if someone said to Nick, `You have long hair like a girl'?'' said the teacher.

Finnian clutched the doll defensively. ``Leave him alone!'' he said.

After the class, the teacher said the dolls allow kids to model compassionate behavior, without embarrassing anyone. ``It's easier for kids to talk about someone like them,'' said Ross.

The dolls came in handy when one student announced recently that his mom was in jail.

Soon after, the teacher revealed that the doll Samantha had a secret _ her mom had been locked up. She asked the class how they might respond. ``You could say, `You aren't the only one with a mom in jail,' `` suggested Ross.

Immediately, the sympathetic class practiced what they would say to the doll _ or to anyone facing a similar situation.

___

Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

 

Grand Canyon Looking into Possible Radiation Exposure

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ Grand Canyon National Park officials say they are investigating whether anyone was exposed to radiation at unsafe levels while samples of uranium ore sat in plastic buckets in a park research building.

Three 5-gallon (18.93-liter) buckets have been removed from a building about a half mile (8 kilometers) from the South Rim that houses the park's archives and artifacts. About 550 people tour the collections each year, mostly by appointment.

The National Park Service is working with Arizona health and workplace safety officials on the investigation. The agency also plans to set up a hotline for anyone concerned about potential radiation exposure, said spokeswoman Vanessa Lacayo.

``One of the important pieces is looking and determining the level of exposure and risk,'' she said.

The Arizona Republic cited the Grand Canyon's safety director, Elston ``Swede'' Stephenson, in saying the park failed to warn workers or the public of the potential harm that existed for years. Stephenson did not return messages left by The Associated Press at his work email and on social media. A call to a number listed for him in a park directory went unanswered.

Uranium is naturally occurring in northern Arizona and was mined for decades, including at the Orphan Mine on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon that ceased operations in 1969. A temporary ban prohibits the filing of new mining claims within 1 million acres (0.405 million hectares) outside the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park. The Navajo Nation no longer allows uranium mining after it left a legacy of death and disease on the reservation.

Still, companies have active claims that weren't affected by the ban and could resume mining.

Lacayo said the area where the plastic buckets were stored was not a part of the tour of the building known as the Museum Collection, though people did walk past the area.

Stephenson told the Arizona Republic the buckets were near a taxidermy exhibit where children sometimes stopped for presentations, and the lid on one bucket wasn't sealed.

Jani Ingram, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Northern Arizona University, said it's not uncommon for uranium ore to be used in research. But, she said, it's typically sealed in a metal container so that radon gas and dust aren't released into the air.

Uranium can be harmful to people's health depending on the amount and grade of ore, how people interact with it and the exposure time, she said. Geiger counters can be a good, initial indication of the presence of radiation but further study would be needed to determine the risk.

``You can't say, `oh my gosh, all those kids are going to develop cancer in five years' because you just don't know how close they were, how long they were there,'' she said. ``But that open bucket was probably the most concerning. It seemed that maybe whoever it was didn't understand what they had.''

 

Calista Corp. Shareholders Protest Western Alaska Gold Mine

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) _ More than 130 shareholders of Calista Corp. are protesting a massive open-pit gold mine proposed in western Alaska.

KYUK-AM reports the group of shareholders, all women, sent a letter to the Alaska Native corporation, citing concerns about how the Donlin Gold Mine would affect the salmon-spawning Kuskokwim River.

Calista owns the subsurface rights to the mine planned for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region.

Bev Hoffman, a long-time protester of the mine, led the effort to draft the letter and gather signatures.

She says Calista signed the lease two decades ago without shareholder input, so this letter shows the corporation that not all shareholders support the mine.

Calista defended its support for the mine in a statement, saying its staff members have the same stake in the environmental health of the region.

___

Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

 

Kansas Woman Donates Part of Farm Sale Profits back to Tribe

NORTH NEWTON, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas woman who sold land that was farmed by her family for five generations has donated a portion of the profits to help preserve the heritage of the Kaw Nation, the Native American tribe that claimed the land as its territory more than a century ago.

Florence Schloneger, a retired Mennonite minister in North Newton, told the Wichita Eagle that she gifted $10,000 to the nonprofit Kanza Heritage Society to acknowledge that her family's ownership of the McPherson County land ``came at a great cost'' to the Kaw, or Kanza, people.

Schloneger's family owned 320 acres (130 hectares) of prairie that was historically Kaw hunting grounds before several treaties with the federal government reduced the tribe's holdings. The tribe was forcibly removed from Kansas to Oklahoma in 1873, and their population declined drastically over the years.

Schloneger's great-great grandfather, Henrich Gronemann, settled on the homestead in 1879. The land was available for settlement because of the passage of the Homestead Act in 1862, which gave away public land under the terms that individuals would live on the land for at least five years and improve it through cultivation.

``As my eyes have been opened, I have experienced great sorrow,'' Schloneger wrote in her donation letter to the nonprofit. ``Not only were your hunting grounds appropriated, but your rich culture and language was nearly lost through assimilation. My hope is that this small gift can help build and restore the strength of Kanza traditions for coming generations.''

Jim Pepper Henry, the nonprofit's board president, said Schloneger's donation is a first for the tribe. Henry believes many are starting to understand the lands their families acquired over the years were swindled, coerced and forcibly taken from the Kaw people.

``Our intent is that this could set an example for others who want to help with the preservation of Kansas history, especially with the Kaw Nation,'' Henry said.

The Kaw Nation currently has about 3,500 members and its reservation is located in Kaw City, Oklahoma.

___

Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

 

Diocese Finds Kentucky students didn't start confrontation

VINGTON, Ky. (AP) _ Investigators hired by a Kentucky diocese have found that Catholic school boys didn't instigate a confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial that went viral on social media.

Covington Bishop Roger Foys initially condemned the students' behavior after a video showed a teenage boy face-to-face with a Native American man. Days later, Foys apologized for ``making a statement prematurely.''

The students were in Washington for an anti-abortion rally last month when they encountered a group of black street preachers who were shouting insults at both them and a group of Native Americans. The bishop now says the students ``were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening.''

``The immediate world-wide reaction to the initial video led almost everyone to believe that our students had initiated the incident and the perception of those few minutes of video became reality,'' Foys wrote this week in a letter to parents.

Both the Native American man, Nathan Phillips, and the Covington student facing Phillips have said they were attempting to defuse the situation.

The four-page report on the investigation said a group of investigators from a firm called Greater Cincinnati Investigation interviewed 43 students and more than a dozen chaperones who were on the trip to Washington. Investigators reviewed social media videos, tried to contact Phillips and traveled to Michigan to attempt to speak to him, but he was not interviewed.

The videos show Phillips surrounded by students. Many interviewed students told investigators that they felt Phillips was coming into their group to join their own cheers, which were meant to drown out insults from the street preachers, who referred to themselves as the Black Hebrew Israelites. Many students reported that they were confused but did not feel threatened by Phillips, the report said.

``We found no evidence of racist statements to Mr. Phillips or members of his group,'' the report said. ``Some students performed a `tomahawk chop' to the beat of Mr. Phillips' drumming and some joined in Mr. Phillips' chant.''

The investigators also reviewed related videos, including one made the same day in which a young person says, ``It's not rape if you enjoy it.'' The investigators say they concluded that person was not a Covington Catholic student.

The investigators were hired by a law firm that represents the school and the Catholic diocese, the report said.

 

Oklahoma Governor Taps Chickasaw Nation Official for Cabinet

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has named Chickasaw Nation lawmaker and former state Rep. Lisa Billy as secretary of Native American Affairs.

Billy has served in the Chickasaw Nation Legislature since 2016 and served previously in the tribal Legislature between 1996 and 2002. She served in the Oklahoma House between 2004 and 2016 and held various leadership roles in the chamber, including majority Floor Leader from 2014 to 2016 and vice chair of the House's Republican Caucus from 2006 to 2008.

Billy formed the Oklahoma Legislature's Native America Caucus in 2006 and has been recognized for her work in the Legislature on prison reform policies.

Billy's appointment to the cabinet-level position requires Senate confirmation. She will replace former House Speaker Chris Benge, Native American Affairs secretary under former Gov. Mary Fallin.

 

Bill to Legalize Casinos in Virginia Advances, Fate Unclear

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Legislation to legalize casinos in Virginia is advancing in the General Assembly, but the odds of passage are still unknown.

A pro-casino bill was approved with bipartisan support Monday by the General Laws and Technology Committee in the state Senate.

The legislation would allow developers to build casinos in Bristol, Danville and Portsmouth if residents approved local referendums. The legislation now also lets the Pamunkey Indian Tribe build casinos in Richmond and Norfolk with local approval.

Supporters of casinos said Monday's vote was a good first step. But hurdles remain.

It's unknown if Republican leaders of the General Assembly will let the measure advance much further. And Gov. Ralph Northam has voiced concerns about casino legalization being rushed through without proper study.

 

New Mexico to Focus on College Affordability, Financial Aid

ALBUQUERQUE — The former leader of the Taos campus for the University of New Mexico was named Wednesday by Democratic Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham to lead the state's higher education department when she takes office next week.

Kate O'Neill will oversee the state's network of community colleges and public universities. She will be inheriting the agency at a time when many schools around the state are grappling with funding cuts and enrollment declines.

O'Neill most recently served as CEO of the University of New Mexico at Taos, a position she held for years. She started at the campus as an adjunct faculty member in 1994 and worked her way up. During her leadership tenure, she developed a nationally accredited nursing program and increased the campus' budget.

O'Neill and Lujan Grisham said affordability for students will be among the priorities for the new administration. They discussed the importance of the state's lottery-funded scholarship program while acknowledging that it's not currently sustainable because revenue from ticket sales has declined and tuition costs have increased.

O'Neill called the scholarships essential, noting that many students depend on the financial aid and that the program needs to be maintained.

Some things will have to be done differently to make higher education more affordable, Lujan Grisham said, indicating that an all-of-the-above approach is needed. It possibly could be a combination of new revenue sources or eligibility changes. "I'm hoping that with some of the economic ideas that we put before the Legislature and their own ideas that we're going to have a variety of options to sustain a scholarship formula and system that's meaningful to New Mexicans," the incoming governor said.

Lujan Grisham also announced appointments for the departments of transportation, cultural affairs and information technology.

Still pending are decisions on other key agencies that oversee public safety, public education, health and the environment.

Debra Garcia y Griego, the director of the city of Santa Fe Arts Commission, was named as the cultural affairs secretary. During her time working in Santa Fe, she developed the nation's first municipal ordinance addressing the forgery of Native American arts and crafts and led the development of the city's first cultural plan.

Michael Sandoval was appointed as transportation secretary. He has worked for the agency for more than 20 years, most recently overseeing hundreds of contracts, the state's 12 ports of entry and programs including the Rail Runner Express commuter train.

A former state lawmaker, Vincent Martinez was named head of the state's information technology department. He's currently the managing director of cloud and communications at the department. Martinez has a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.

 

Delaware Tribe Ends Plans for Heritage Center Near Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The Delaware Tribe has abandoned plans to develop an agricultural heritage center northeast of Lawrence.

Chief Chester Brooks said the tribe's council decided the proposed center would not produce enough revenue to cover the estimated $500,000 cost of developing it.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports the tribe, based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is now trying to lease the 92-acre site to another agricultural user. The property is just northeast of the Kansas Turnpike's interchange in North Lawrence.

Brooks says the Delaware Tribe would prefer to sell the land.

The tribe bought the property in 2013 with plans to open a casino. The casino plan stalled because most of the site is within the Kansas River flood plain. Brooks says the state also was unwilling to expand gaming to out-of-state tribes.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

 

Lakota Nation Invitational Features Voices of Young Poets

Tyra Akers, a junior at Pine Ridge High School, said she's only been writing poems for a year. Her literary hero?

"Tupac," she says, smiling after a short pause.

In the first round of the poetry slam at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Akers with her dark hair in a double French braid, denim, and tall boots walked to the mic at the front of the room. DJ Micah Prairie Chicken's turntable stopped — and 70 people stared at her, the Rapid City Journal reported.

"Get it, poet!" yelled a spectator.

And she began.

"I poison my body because my mind was racing," recites Akers. "You want to yell because you love me."

The 12 readers in the Dances with Words poetry slam, sponsored by First Peoples Fund, a women-run nonprofit, and run in conjunction with the Lakota Nation Invitational, ran the gamut from teenage fears to suicide and alcoholism. The first poet opened by reading a poem from her smartphone about the murder of her aunt on Skyline Drive in 1981.

"No more stolen sisters," she ended.

The competition — though emcee Marcus Red Shirt repeatedly wanted to de-emphasize the "competition" and followed up many poets' performances by saying, "You're brave, poet" — had a few rules: no hate speech, three rounds with dwindling time limits, and there were to be content warnings.

"Self-harm." ''Addiction." ''Lust." Red Shirt presaged one poem saying, "This poem contains intense emotions."

One by one, the poets spoke — on learning to ride a horse from a cousin, on seasonal depression, on heartbreak.

"I see a warrior in the battlefield of self-infliction," said one student.

"I want to drown myself in liquor and bury myself in smoke," said Akers.

A child in the audience played with a Rubik's cube as parents, teachers and loved ones watched. One mother, wiping eyes with Kleenex, met her son on the sidelines, after he said it was poetry that kept him from "living in some other person's poem."

"Here's some advice from ourselves," read one student. "It's OK to change directions because in the end we're all picture perfect reflections of imperfection."

"I must speak my truth as if I'm running," read another.

"I can't trust nostaliga," said another young woman. "Because nostalgia isn't honest about how much I've grown."

"It's their own words," said Autumn White Eyes, wearing a T-shirt that read "de-colonize." White Eyes is a writer and an alum of the poetry slam who now lives in New Jersey but works remotely for First Peoples Fund.

"So often, indigenous people are used to others telling their story. But here, we get to share our stories in our own words," she said.

Recently — as many poets do monthly at open mics hosted by Dances with Words — young, indigenous writers had the floor.

When Akers finished her second poem, the lightning round, she left a warning: "You'll be looking up at me looking down on you."

She walked back, a shy smile coming over her face, as her family stood in applause for her.

"I want to keep writing poems," said Akers, afterward, wearing the medal she'd won for a top performer around her neck, her family smiling on. "I like the feeling of my own words, to get them out of me."

In the hallway, basketball teams prepared to enter the separate arenas for the next game. Children rode the escalators up and down as the young poets mingled, sharing stories and listening to a flute player practicing in the hallway.

___

Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

 

Justices Debate Indian Control of Land in Oklahoma

By MARK SHERMAN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court grappled Tuesday with whether an Indian tribe retains control over a vast swath of eastern Oklahoma in a case involving a Native American who was sentenced to death for murder.

Some justices said they fear a ruling for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation could have big consequences for criminal cases, but also tax and other regulatory issues on more than 3 million acres of Creek Nation territory, including most of Tulsa, Oklahoma's second largest city.

The issue is before the high court in the case of Patrick Murphy, who was convicted of killing a fellow tribe member in 1999. A federal appeals court threw out his conviction because it found the state lacked authority to prosecute Murphy. The appeals court ruled that the crime occurred on land assigned to the tribe before Oklahoma became a state and Congress never clearly eliminated the Creek Nation reservation it created in 1866.

Lawyers for the state and Trump administration, supporting Oklahoma, told the justices that the practical effects of ruling for Murphy would be dramatic, after more than 100 years of state control over the area. Violent criminals could go free and the state would lose its ability to tax a chunk of the population, the lawyers said. Other Native American prisoners and defendants in Oklahoma have asked to have their convictions overturned or their cases thrown out as a result

With so much potentially at stake, maybe the court should ``leave well enough alone here,'' and side with Oklahoma, said Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Justice Stephen Breyer noted that 1.8 million who live in the affected area have built their lives on a long-accepted understanding of local regulations and state law. "What happens to all those people?'' he asked.

Lawyers for Murphy and the Creek Nation said fears of chaos that would result from a ruling for Murphy are overstated. The Creek Nation already has agreements with 40 local governments that allow its police to work collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies, said Riyaz Kanji, representing the tribe.

No one has a greater interest than the tribe ``in law enforcement and security within the Creek reservation,'' Kanji said.

The court's liberal justices seemed generally more sympathetic to the tribe, while the conservatives appeared likely to side with the state. Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a unanimous opinion in 2016 in favor of a different tribe's claim to a reservation, asked no questions, as is his custom.

One potential wrinkle is that Justice Neil Gorsuch stepped aside from the case because he participated in it at an earlier stage when he was a judge on the federal appeals court in Denver. A 4-4 tie would affirm the appellate ruling in favor of Murphy, but leave the larger issue of tribal sovereignty unresolved.

If he wins at the Supreme Court, Murphy could potentially be retried in federal court. But he would not face the death penalty for a crime in which prosecutors said he mutilated the victim and left him to bleed to death on the side of a country road about 80 miles southeast of Tulsa.

A decision in Carpenter v. Murphy, 17-1107, is expected by late spring.

 

Trump OKs Disaster Declaration for Tohono O'odham Nation

SELLS, Ariz. (AP) _ President Donald Trump has approved a disaster declaration for a southern Arizona tribe affected by severe flooding.

Heavy rainfall had threatened an earthen dam on the Tohono O'odham reservation in early October, forcing people from their homes.

The declaration announced Friday allows the use of federal funding for emergency work, and to repair or replace facilities damaged by the flooding. The tribe must share in the cost.

Tribal officials say the remnants of Tropical Storm Rosa had damaged 64 homes, and impacted roadways, public buildings and utility systems.

Crews had to pump the lake behind Menager's Dam to ease the threat it would overtop. More than 1,000 sandbags were placed at the dam's crest.

 

Justices Debate Indian Control of Land in Oklahoma

By MARK SHERMAN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court grappled Tuesday with whether an Indian tribe retains control over a vast swath of eastern Oklahoma in a case involving a Native American who was sentenced to death for murder.

Some justices said they fear a ruling for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation could have big consequences for criminal cases, but also tax and other regulatory issues on more than 3 million acres of Creek Nation territory, including most of Tulsa, Oklahoma's second largest city.

The issue is before the high court in the case of Patrick Murphy, who was convicted of killing a fellow tribe member in 1999. A federal appeals court threw out his conviction because it found the state lacked authority to prosecute Murphy. The appeals court ruled that the crime occurred on land assigned to the tribe before Oklahoma became a state and Congress never clearly eliminated the Creek Nation reservation it created in 1866.

Lawyers for the state and Trump administration, supporting Oklahoma, told the justices that the practical effects of ruling for Murphy would be dramatic, after more than 100 years of state control over the area. Violent criminals could go free and the state would lose its ability to tax a chunk of the population, the lawyers said. Other Native American prisoners and defendants in Oklahoma have asked to have their convictions overturned or their cases thrown out as a result

With so much potentially at stake, maybe the court should ``leave well enough alone here,'' and side with Oklahoma, said Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Justice Stephen Breyer noted that 1.8 million who live in the affected area have built their lives on a long-accepted understanding of local regulations and state law. "What happens to all those people?'' he asked.

Lawyers for Murphy and the Creek Nation said fears of chaos that would result from a ruling for Murphy are overstated. The Creek Nation already has agreements with 40 local governments that allow its police to work collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies, said Riyaz Kanji, representing the tribe.

No one has a greater interest than the tribe ``in law enforcement and security within the Creek reservation,'' Kanji said.

The court's liberal justices seemed generally more sympathetic to the tribe, while the conservatives appeared likely to side with the state. Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a unanimous opinion in 2016 in favor of a different tribe's claim to a reservation, asked no questions, as is his custom.

One potential wrinkle is that Justice Neil Gorsuch stepped aside from the case because he participated in it at an earlier stage when he was a judge on the federal appeals court in Denver. A 4-4 tie would affirm the appellate ruling in favor of Murphy, but leave the larger issue of tribal sovereignty unresolved.

If he wins at the Supreme Court, Murphy could potentially be retried in federal court. But he would not face the death penalty for a crime in which prosecutors said he mutilated the victim and left him to bleed to death on the side of a country road about 80 miles southeast of Tulsa.

A decision in Carpenter v. Murphy, 17-1107, is expected by late spring.

 

New Jersey Settles Suit Over Status of Native American Group

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ New Jersey's attorney general on Thursday announced a legal settlement that gives official status to a Native American tribe.

Under terms of the settlement, the state also will pay the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation $2.4 million. The state admits no wrongdoing or liability.

Both sides have also agreed that the settlement doesn't give the Lenape federal casino gambling rights.

The Lenape sued the state in 2015 and alleged it was given official status as a tribe through a 1982 state resolution but that when it tried to reaffirm the designation, it found the attorney general's office had decided not to recognize it in 2012.

A lower court ruled the tribe was never established as an official entity because the resolution was not a law submitted to the governor. It said that although there were legal measures taken in the years following 1982, none actually granted the nation official recognition.

Last year, an appeals court reversed the lower court's decision and ruled the lawsuit could go forward.

The southern New Jersey-based nation, which numbers approximately 3,000 members, has said the lack of official status has meant it can't say artwork is American Indian-made without being fined, and that it has been ineligible for federal scholarships and grant funding.

 

Language App Adds Navajo Courses

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ A popular language-learning app is adding Navajo to its portfolio.

KOB-TV reports that Duolingo has begun offering Navajo, or Dine (dih-NEH'), as a language option for learning on the mobile app.

Clayton Long, who is the head of the bilingual education for San Juan School District in Utah, tells the station that he and his students collaborated to develop the language lessons on the app.

The first of the courses were unveiled last week.

Long says a total of nine lessons he and others developed will be released in the coming months as part of the ongoing Duolingo project.

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Information from: KOB-TV, http://www.kob.com

 

Obama, 2 Native Americans Top 'Minority Trailblazers' List

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ The nation's first black president has topped the list of ``minority trailblazers'' chosen in the Illinois Top 200 project as part of the state's bicentennial.

Barack Obama was a community organizer in Chicago and served as state senator and U.S. senator before winning the White House in 2008.

The online voters' choices were announced Monday as part of Illinois' 200th birthday on Dec. 3.

Obama was followed by two Native Americans. Black Hawk was a Sauk warrior who fought white America's expansion into Illinois. Chief Keokuk was a rival who gave up land to settlers to avoid bloodshed.

Harold Washington and Patricia Roberts Harris followed. Washington was Chicago's first black mayor and Harris was the first black woman to serve as ambassador and cabinet member under President Jimmy Carter.

PBS’ KCET and Link TV Announce Series TENDING NATURE

Mussel harvesting in Protecting the Coast (Tolowa) episode.

KCET and Link TV, providing acclaimed culturally diverse programming, announced the debut of a new KCET original television series called TENDING NATURE, produced in partnership with the Autry Museum of the American West. The series shines a light on the environmental knowledge of indigenous peoples across California by exploring how the state's Native peoples have actively shaped and tended the land for millennia, in the process developing a deep understanding of plant and animal life.

KCET will premiere four, 30-minute episodes of TENDING NATURE starting Wed., November 7 at 8:30 p.m. on KCET in Southern California. The series will also air on nationally independent satellite network Link TV on Tues., November 13 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT (DirecTV 375 and DISH Network 9410).

The unique partnership between KCET and the Autry has turned into a three-year commitment to explore California’s Native stories (and histories) and allows viewers to hear first-hand from Native communities engaged in contemporary projects that revive their culture and inform western sciences. California is home to more Native Americans than any other state, and these communities have continued to maintain traditional knowledge against all odds.

The Autry Museum of the American West is dedicated to bringing together the stories of all peoples of the American West, connecting the past with the present to inspire a shared future. The series connects to their Human Nature galleries and garden spaces dedicated to the California environment, making for a multiplatform museum-media partnership—and one that furthers critical conversations related to the future of California.

The first two episodes of the series will be screened at the Autry on Nov. 10 as part of the museum’s annual American Indian Arts Marketplace.

TENDING NATURE will be telecast as follows (subject to change):

“Protecting The Coast with the Tolowa Dee-ni'”- Wed., Nov. 7 at 8:30 p.m. PT on KCET / Tues., Nov. 13 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV Coastal ecosystems are under threat from human caused toxification but the Tolowa Dee-Ni are reviving traditional harvesting of shellfish and redefining the human role in managing marine protected areas.

“Decolonizing Cuisine with Mak-’amham”- Wed., Nov. 14 at 8:30 p.m. PT on KCET / Tues., Nov. 20 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV Two Ohlone chefs are revitalizing their language and food practices and adapting them for a modernist palate.

“Tribal Hunting with the Pit River Peoples” - Wed., Nov. 21 at 8:30 p.m. PT on KCET / Tues., Nov. 27 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV The Pit River Tribe in Northeast California are reviving traditional hunting practices, and embracing initiatives to preserve wild elk and deer populations as well as developing statewide intertribal trading networks for the distribution of humanely sourced and sustainable Native foods.

“Healing the Body with United Indian Health Services”- Wed., Nov. 28 at 8:30 PT on KCET / Tues., Dec. 4 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV Native peoples in rural areas often lack easy access to healthy, affordable food. Younger generations are witnessing the effects of health issues in their community and as a result have started several food sovereignty programs across California.

Join the conversation on social media using #TendingNature

KCET is a flagship PBS channel of the newly formed PUBLIC MEDIA GROUP OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.

 

PBS Docuseries 'Native America' Recreates Cultures Pre-1492

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ The story of Native America taught in U.S. public schools usually begins at contact with European explorers. Children then get lessons about Thanksgiving, maybe the Trail of Tears or the 19th century wars over the removal of tribes in the American West. Rarely discussed is life in the Americas before Columbus' 1492 voyage.

A new four_part PBS docuseries entitled ``Native America'' seeks to recreate a world in the Americas generations prior to the arrival of Europeans. Using archaeology, Native American oral traditions, even high_tech 3D renditions, viewers are presented images of busy cities connected by networks that span from the present_day United States to South America.

The docuseries shows how Chaco Canyon in New Mexico became a busy spiritual and commercial center that stood five stories high in the desert sky, centuries before skyscrapers went up in New York.

They also discuss the tunnel under a pyramid in Teotihuacán, Mexico, that revealed an intricate belief system that was also found elsewhere. And outside present_day St. Louis, Missouri, 10,000 people helped erect massive earthwork pyramids into a city now known as Cahokia around the time the real_life Macbeth ruled Scotland.

Series executive producer and director Gary Glassman said the project took more than a year to plan because producers wanted to make sure they had buy_in from Native American communities the documentaries sought to cover. Filmmakers wanted to include animated pieces of sacred art and stories to illustrate the importance of the site and wanted to be sensitive, Glassman said.

``We wanted to give them ownership to their own stories,'' Glassman said. ``It was about building trust.''

That's how producers convinced Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, director of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office of the Arizona tribe Hopi, to allow directors to briefly film a group of elders conducting a smoking ceremony at Chaco.

In one episode, Kuwanwisiwma explains the religious significance of the Kiva and how elders used the smoking ceremony to contemplate the power of the universe. ``The bird world, the reptilian world, the animal world, the insect world...they are all part of who we are as Hopi people,'' Kuwanwisiwma tells viewers.

The docuseries then takes viewers to the rock art of the Amazons and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of New York to show how similar spiritual theologies through diverse practices linked people thousands of miles apart from the pyramids of Mississippi to the Andes in present_day Peru.

The first episode of ``Native America'' is scheduled to air on most PBS stations on Tuesday. Other episodes will air on following Tuesdays until November 13.

Episodes will be streamed for free for a limited time after airings.

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Associated Press writer Russell Contreras is a member of the AP's race and ethnicity team. Follow Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras

 

Native American Leader Takes Aim at Cuomo's Statue Plans

NEW YORK (AP) _ The head of the American Indian Law Alliance is taking aim at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plans to nominate New York City's statue of Christopher Columbus to the National Register of Historic Places.

Betty Lyons said on Tuesday that the 1892 statue represents genocide, enslavement, exploitation of children and land grabs.

She says the Democratic governor is insensitive to the concerns of 100,000 indigenous peoples living in New York state.

Cuomo says many historical figures, including Columbus, did bad things as well as great things and that's ``part of the lesson.''

A city commission appointed to review historical statues decided to keep the Columbus Circle monument, which Italian-American groups view as a source of ethnic pride.

The city is adding markers to contextualize the figures such statues depict.

 

Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs Director Leaves Job

CORTEZ, Colo. (AP) _ The executive director of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs is leaving the position after 11 years in the job.

The Cortez Journal reports Ernest House Jr. has resigned to take a job with the Keystone Policy Center.

House was the first member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe to work as the commission's director, which serves as the liaison between native American tribes and the state.

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne says House has played a major role in making sure tribal communities have a seat at the table and a strong voice.

House says he will continue to advocate for tribes in his new job as senior policy director with the Keystone Policy Group.

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Information from: Cortez Journal, http://www.cortezjournal.com/

 

Hopis Asking Feds to Explore Other Options for Power Plant

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. (AP) _ Hopi tribal officials are calling on the federal government to explore other options for the Navajo Generating Station near Page.

Two companies that were negotiating to take over a coal-fired power plant on the Arizona-Utah line ended the effort last week, saying the challenges were too great.

The 2,250-megawatt plant could close at the end of 2019.

That would be a huge blow to the economies of the Navajo and Hopi tribes: The Hopis rely on coal revenue for about 85 percent of their budget and the Navajos 20 percent.

Hopi Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva says the U.S. government must either continue to buy power from the generating station or provide the tribe with support necessary to avoid an economic catastrophe. He's asking the government to act without delay.

 

Group Marks Potawatomi Trail of Death from Indiana to Kansas

By MITCHELL KIRK
Pharos-Tribune

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) _ This month marks 180 years since over 850 Potawatomi Native Americans were forcibly removed from their homeland in northern Indiana.

Many walked the 660-mile, two-month journey. Over 40 died _ mostly babies, children and elderly.

It's known as the Potawatomi Trail of Death. Every five years since 1988, a group of Potawatomi, historians and other interested persons take a week to travel the trail that starts south of Plymouth, Indiana, and ends in Kansas.

The commemorative caravan recently passed through Logansport, where they visited a marker recognizing part of the trail at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Fulton Street.

In 1838, Indiana Gov. David Wallace appointed Gen. John Tipton of Logansport to lead the removal of Potawatomi from the area, according to information from the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association.

Tipton planned the capture in a trading post on the Tippecanoe River north of Rochester. He rode to Twin Lakes near Plymouth on Aug. 30 to meet with Potawatomi Chief Menominee to inform him of the removal and take him prisoner. Tipton then sent soldiers out in all directions within about a 30-to-50-mile radius to collect Potawatomi.

The march began on Sept. 4, 1838. They went down through Indiana, then across Illinois and Missouri before arriving in what later became Kansas, stopping in what is now known as Osawatomie on Nov. 4. Those who died on the march were buried in unmarked graves along the trail.

The Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan has set out every five years for the past three decades during the third week of September after the annual Trail of Courage Living History Festival in Rochester. Participants start at a Chief Menominee monument south of Plymouth and end at St. Philippine Duchesne Memorial Park south of Mound City, Kansas, which is south of Osawatomie. The park is named after a French nun who ministered to the Potawatomi upon their arrival.

Fulton County Historian Shirley Willard started the caravan in 1988 after learning that the Potawatomi were marched at gunpoint through Rochester.

``I thought that was pretty terrible and most people didn't know that it had even happened,'' Willard said.

About 35 to 40 people will be making the entire journey this year, Willard said, adding others take part in stretches of the trek along the way.

Janet Pearl of Parma Heights, Ohio, is part of the 2018 caravan. She's participated in several over the decades with her father, who has been a part of all of them. Both are members of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Pearl's Potawatomi name is Wichap Gishek, which means Blue Sky.

Pearl's Potawatomi great-great-grandmother was about 10 or 11 when she was forced along the Trail of Death. Her name was Equa-ke-sec, which means Rising Sun. After surviving the ordeal and arriving in Kansas, she was baptized with the name Theresa Living.

Pearl and her father regularly attend Potawatomi functions across the U.S. and Canada.

``It's really important to us to renew our culture connections and stay abreast of everything that's going on,'' she said.

She called the Potawatomi Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan a unique experience. People often come out to greet her and her fellow participants in the various towns along the trail, she went on to recall.

``They show a lot of compassion and concern for what happened to the Potawatomi way back when,'' Pearl said.

She finds it encouraging.

``It's really a positive experience,'' she said. ``It's spiritual too because you just feel so uplifted by this outpouring of concern and caring. People are just really nice about it.''

Pearl said her grandmother taught her father and his siblings not to focus feelings of bitterness toward the Potawatomi Trail of Death. Instead she encouraged them to be forgiving and concentrate on how their ancestor survived and that they were able to come into being because of that survival.

Pearl said much of that forgiving attitude can be credited to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, who ministered to the Potawatomi after they arrived in what later became Kansas. While Duchesne couldn't speak Potawatomi, Pearl said she showed kindness by example.

``We felt our ancestors were influenced by her spiritual guidance,'' Pearl said.

According to historical information from the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association, Duchesne was a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart and prayed so often that the Potawatomi called her ``She Who Prays Always.''

Duchesne was canonized in 1988, the same year the Potawatomi Trail of Death Commemorative Caravan started. This year also marks two centuries since she came to the U.S. from France.

Pearl said she is looking forward to having several nuns of the Society of the Sacred Heart on the caravan this year.

She also seconded Willard's desire for the caravan to serve an educational purpose.

``What we hope today is that people will learn a lesson from hearing about this event and that it won't happen again,'' she said.

While the Potawatomi Trail of Death occurred 180 years ago, the feelings that spurred it still exist today, Pearl said, offering immigration issues as an example.

``There's a lot going on where people are persecuted and we're just hoping that people will let a little more love come into their life and try to respect everybody and get along with people,'' Pearl said.

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Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com

 

Tribes Want Feds to Explain Controversial Land Decision

MASHPEE, Mass. (AP) _ The country's largest Native American organization is calling on the Trump administration to explain its decision not to recognize the reservation of a Massachusetts' tribe.

The National Congress of American Indians said Tuesday it ``disagrees strongly'' with the U.S. Department of the Interior's decision to reverse an Obama-era ruling placing land in trust for the Mashpee Wampanoag (MASH'-pee WAHM'-puh-nawg) tribe.

The organization wants the agency to explain what the decision signifies for Indian land policy going forward.

The Interior Department took 321 acres into trust for the Mashpee in 2015, but a federal judge ordered the agency to reconsider the decision after local residents sued.

Bureau of Indian Affairs spokeswoman Nedra Darling declined to comment, citing pending litigation. She confirmed the Mashpee land, for now, remains in trust pending a final court order.

 

OSU to Start Tribal Finance Certificate Program

By MOLLY M. FLEMING

The Journal Record

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — In the last year, Victor Flores has focused on bringing tribal accounting and finance training inside the state. He organized the Oklahoma Tribal Finance Consortium, which has met twice this year.

But one of the main goals of the consortium will start in November, when Oklahoma State University will hold the Introductory Tribal Finance and Accounting Certificate four-day pilot program, with the full kickoff scheduled for May.

Flores, who is the Absentee Shawnee Tribe’s chief financial officer, told The Journal Record that he plans to take about 15 people from his office to the conference in November. The introductory level is ideal for people who do not have a finance or business background, such as elected officials or directors of different entities within the tribe.

There are intermediate and advanced-level programs being developed as well. The intermediate program will launch in summer 2019, and the advanced level doesn’t have a launch date yet, said Lindsey Kirksey, program director at the OSU Spears School of Business’ Center for Executive and Professional Development.

The center has also developed a tribal leadership certificate program, which can be completed over a two-year period.

The accounting and finance classes will be taught by different industry professionals, such as BKD Managing Director Joel Haaser, based in Tulsa. The University of Oklahoma College of Law is helping to provide legal professionals as well.

Haaser said tribal accounting operations vary from state and local government, so this type of training is needed. Tribes tend to get more federal grants than cities, and that money can be used for housing or even road construction. At the same time, tribes operate for-profit businesses, such as casinos.

“That puts tribes in between a government and a commercial organization, which is really the difference (between tribes and state and local governments),” Haaser said. “It creates a lot of unique accounting challenges.”

Flores said it’s especially important to have these programs in Oklahoma because the tribes’ histories are different than in other states. With the Native Americans being forced to settle here, they’re not on reservations like in other states.

“We’re vastly different (from other states),” he said. “We have our own idiosyncrasies. When (my office) goes to training, we have to tell our employees that what they learned may not apply in Oklahoma. We’re talking apples and oranges. That’s why we’re trying to create our own training.”

The November program has about 10 people enrolled so far, but Center for Executive and Professional Development Director Julie Weathers said she expects that to double. The November class is being offered to tribal members on the advisory board, who are expected to give feedback after the pilot program. The May class is already opened for registration.

The center offers professional development training for several industries, such as energy and municipal governments.

Tribal leaders from Texas and Kansas have been invited to the May conference, Flores said. Since there are four tribes in Kansas and three nations in Texas, they often send representatives to events in Oklahoma.

Weathers said the center is excited to work with the Oklahoma Tribal Finance Consortium on the training.

“As a land-grant university, we feel it’s our duty to offer this type of education in business, so we’re certainly glad to be a part of it,” she said. “Kudos to the tribes for coming together and voicing their concerns to all work together and offer a solution to the challenges in the accounting and finance area.”

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

 

Archaeologists Dig Native American Fort Found in Connecticut

By DAVE COLLINS
Associated Press

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) _ Archaeologists are marveling at the site of a 1600s Native American fort in Connecticut that was uncovered as part of a rail bridge replacement project.

About 20 of them gathered for a tour of the site in Norwalk on Tuesday. They said it is one of the most important finds in the Northeast in terms of Native American history and shines some light on Native Americans' first dealings with Europeans.

Not only did experts find the remains of the 17th century fort, they discovered some artifacts including arrow and spear tips that date back an estimated 3,000 years, indicating Native Americans were active at the site for generations. No evidence of human remains has been found.

``It's one of the earliest historic period sites that has been found so far,'' said archaeologist Ross Harper. ``And it's very rich in artifacts including Native American pottery and stone tools, as well as trade goods such as glass beads, wampum, hatchets and knives. It's definitely one of the more important sites, not just for the area but New England in general.''

Harper said it appears the Norwalk Indians, a tribe that historians know little about, had a fort at the site from about 1615 to 1640 and used it to trade goods with early Dutch settlers. The site is on a small sliver of land next to railroad tracks that carry Amtrak and Metro-North commuter trains. A 19th century history of Norwalk mentions an old Native American fort, and a road near the site is still named Fort Point Street.

The site was found during preliminary archaeological surveys ordered as part of the state's upcoming replacement of the 122-year-old Walk Bridge, which spans the Norwalk River and swings open to allow boats to pass. The bridge has gotten stuck in the open position several times and caused massive rail service delays. Construction is set to begin next year.

Harper works for Archaeological & Historical Services Inc., a Storrs, Connecticut-based firm that is painstakingly removing artifacts from the site and taking them back to its offices for cleaning and further study. Some of the artifacts may be headed to museums. The firm will write a lengthy report on the artifacts and its findings.

The firm, which plans to completely remove all artifacts from the site by the fall, has been working in consultation with the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans _ the two federally recognized tribes in the state. There is no known opposition to the removal of the artifacts.

The two tribes issued a joint statement on the project this week.

``Any time a Native American site or artifacts are found, the utmost sensitivity should be used,'' the statement said. ``While the Walk Bridge construction site in Norwalk may or may not have direct ties to the Mohegan or Mashantucket Pequot tribes ... we take the matter seriously. In fact, Tribal Preservation Officers from both tribes have actively been working with people on the ground there for over a year to offer their expertise.''

The site is one of only about a half-dozen in the Northeast known to have contained evidence of Native Americans' first encounters with Europeans, and most of the sites have been destroyed or removed during development of the lands, Harper said.

The rare find is what drew archaeologists from the region to Tuesday's tour in oppressively hot weather.

``For me, it's like a gold mine,'' said Kevin McBride, an anthropology professor at the University of Connecticut and research director at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. ``I think the reason the site is so important is that there's a lot of material here. It's definitely one of the most important sites we've found in a long time.''

McBride said items found at the site provide some insight into Native Americans' first interactions with Europeans and show how they incorporated European products such as iron tools and knives into their culture.

SC County Evaluating Archaeological Site Under Construction

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A project to build a parking lot alongside South Carolina's Saluda River may have wrecked an archaeological site where Native Americans lived for thousands of years.

The State reports that arrowheads and other artifacts were found in June after bulldozers went to work at the Saluda Riverwalk project, which Richland County is developing in conjunction with the Riverbanks Zoo.

State archaeologist Jonathan Leader says the site's was considered to be too ``scattered'' to be officially protected. He planned to witness a private archaeology firm's inspection of the damage on Wednesday.

Alexis Norris of Columbia collected boxes of arrowheads and other artifacts during construction, and has agreed give them to the zoo.

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Information from: The State, http://www.thestate.com

New Mexico City near Navajo Nation Sees Tourism Jump

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) _ A western New Mexico city surrounded by Navajo culture and Native arts and crafts is experiencing a tourism boom not seen since the 1970s.

The Gallup Independent reports officials in Gallup, New Mexico, says the city has seen an increase of around 7 to 10 percent in visitors thanks to foreign tourists.

Officials believe a favorable exchange rate and increased interest by the media in anything to do with Native culture and crafts led to millions of foreigners vacationing in the United States each summer.

Gallup-McKinley County Chamber of Commerce director Bill Lee says the area is seeing visitors from Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and Belgium.

Gallup is located on the edge of the Navajo Nation and sits along the historic Route 66.

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Information from: Gallup Independent, http://www.gallupindependent.com

Montana Officials Work to Boost Tribal Tourism

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) _ Montana officials are working to inform tourists of the state's Native American tribal history.

The Missoulian reports the Montana Office of Tourism and Development and the state Tribal Economic Development Commission are pushing to promote tourism to the state's reservations and tribal nations.

Carla Lott, the state tribal tourism officer and a member of the Blackfeet Tribe, and Heather Sobrepena, a member of the Crow Tribe and the state's Indian Country economic development program manager, are leading the charge.

Lott says the goal is for tribal tourism to benefit underserved, rural areas of the state while promoting a greater understanding of modern Native American culture.

In 2017, the state conducted a national survey of potential visitors and found that 82 percent of leisure travelers express interest in exploring sites related to Native American culture.

Supreme Court Sends Land Dispute back to Wash. Top Court

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court is asking Washington state's highest court to take another look at a land dispute between a Native American tribe and its neighbors.

The dispute concerns a roughly 40-acre plot of land purchased by the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe in 2013. A land survey convinced the tribe that a barbed wire fence between its land and land owned by Sharline and Ray Lundgren is in the wrong place. The tribe wanted to tear down the fence and build a new one in the right spot. The Lundgrens sued, but the tribe argued it was immune from suit.

The Washington Supreme Court sided with the Lundgrens. The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 Monday the court's reasoning was flawed and asked the court to take another look at the dispute.

Illinois group needs $500K to restore Black Hawk statue

OREGON, Ill. (AP) _ A group needs to raise $500,000 to complete the restoration of a century-old landmark in northern Illinois known as the Black Hawk statue.

Restoration efforts began five years ago on the 48-foot-tall, 270-ton landmark in Lowden State Park, but the project stalled in 2016 amid a lack of state funding and a dispute on the restoration team, the Rockford Register Star reported . The statue's been covered in black protective sheets since work stopped.

``People were bewildered when it came to a screeching halt. People were confused about what happened and what will happen,'' said Jan Stilson, a historian who's leading the 20 volunteers on the Black Hawk Team.

Lorado Taft sculpted the statue to pay homage to the region's American Indians. The work, which is also known as the Eternal Indian Statue or the Rock River Colossus, was dedicated in 1911 in the Ogle County seat of Oregon.

The Black Hawk Team has gathered volunteers to begin fundraising efforts to continue the restoration project. That team is part of Oregon Together, an organization that aims to improve quality of life in the area.

Work on the statue could resume this summer if fundraising goes well. That work would continue through October and then pause for the winter.

The restoration project will include recreating the statue's original mix of concrete, cement and red granite, Stilson said. The statue will still require annual upkeep.

Money raised for the effort would be monitored by the Illinois Conservation Fund, a nonprofit that supports programs by the Department of Natural Resources.

Stilson said she hopes the state will approve a $350,000 grant for the state Department of Natural Resources for restoration. The statue sits on property owned by the state agency.

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Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com

Study: Decline of salmon also impacts salmon genetics

By CHAD SOKOL
The Spokesman-Review

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ As Chinook salmon populations declined across the Pacific Northwest, scientists suspected the fish lost a great deal of genetic diversity, too.

But until recently, the theory hadn't been tested. Ancient salmon bones are hard to come by, and it's even harder to extract workable DNA samples from them.

``Science finally caught up with what we already believed and allowed us to test it,'' said Bobbi Johnson, the lead author of a new Washington State University study that raises concerns about the Chinooks' ability to respond to environmental change.

Starting in 2010, Johnson's team collected hundreds of salmon bones from Native American archaeological sites some more than twice as old as the first Egyptian pyramid and compared their DNA with modern samples from the same areas.

The researchers found that Chinook in the upper Columbia River, where the Grand Coulee Dam cut off about 40 percent of the species' historic habitat, have lost about two-thirds of their genetic diversity. In the Snake River, they lost about one-third, a difference that surprised the researchers.

That basically supports the longstanding assumption that the Chinook gene pool was much larger before European settlement in the Pacific Northwest.

The researchers also analyzed ancient samples from Spokane River Chinook, finding that population had a large gene pool and at least six lineages. They had no modern samples for comparison. The Little Falls Dam has blocked salmon migration on the Spokane River since it was built in 1911.

Genetic variation is critical for the survival of any species. It would enable salmon to pass on needed traits if disease strikes, water levels drop or temperatures rise.

``You want there to be differences between individuals, so that when change does happen, there's room for adaptation and natural selection,'' Johnson said.

In a population with low genetic diversity, she added, ``If something comes in that's bad for anybody, that's bad for everybody.''

The study, part of Johnson's doctoral dissertation, was published this week in the journal PLOS One. Her co-authors are Gary Thorgaard, a WSU emeritus professor of biological sciences, and Brian Kemp, a former WSU molecular anthropologist now at the University of Oklahoma.

They wrote that Chinook research and management practices have mostly focused on ``the four H's'' habitat, harvest, hatcheries and hydropower.

Johnson said they have now considered a fifth H, history. The study reflects millennia of dramatic changes to the Chinook's habitat, both natural and man-made, from glacial floods to commercial fishing to the construction of giant dams.

The ancient bone samples, Johnson said, ``just track that story so nicely.''

The 346 vertebrae samples were part of collections held by the Spokane and Colville tribes and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, among other entities. Johnson said many of the bones were retrieved from ancient Native American garbage heaps, called middens, in archaeological digs beginning in the 1940s.

Some of the samples dated back about 7,000 years. Many were about 3,000 years old. The youngest ancient sample came from a Chinook caught 150 years ago near Fort Colville.

Johnson said the samples were immensely challenging to work with, and she credited Kemp, an ancient DNA expert, for overseeing the extraction process. Researchers wore face masks, hairnets and double sets of latex gloves to avoid contamination, and they were able to tease out sequences of mitochondrial DNA, the kind passed down only from mothers.

Johnson said the Colville Tribe ``definitely took a risk'' by providing the first samples for preliminary testing. Samples are largely destroyed in the process, and there's no guarantee it will yield useful data.

``They gave us samples before we could prove that we could do something like this,'' Johnson said.

Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest have caught Chinook for more than 9,000 years, often near waterfalls and other natural bottlenecks along the region's river network.

Europeans introduced commercial fisheries after arriving in the 1860s, and, from 1889 to 1922, they harvested more than 24 million pounds of Chinook each year, according to the researchers. That fell to about 15 million pounds a year by the late 1950s, and annual harvests now stand at less than 5 million pounds.

The first dam on the main stem of the Columbia, the Rock Island Dam in Chelan County, was built in 1933. The Bonneville and Grand Coulee dams were built in 1941, blocking ocean-going salmon from more than 1,000 miles of the upper part of the river. Dams on the Snake came more than a decade later.

Today there are more than 400 dams in the Columbia River Basin, blocking more than half of the river system's spawning habitat, according to the researchers.

Johnson said her team can't conclude if commercial fishing or the dams are to blame for the declining genetic diversity of the Chinook. To make that connection, the researchers would need samples from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The researchers did acquire some tissue samples from that period from the University of Washington, but they were stored in formaldehyde, Johnson said.

``Formaldehyde is like cement for DNA,'' she said. ``You just can't get DNA after that.''

Johnson said her team's findings have few applications on their own, but she hopes they will inform future discussions about Chinook conservation as the effects of climate change come into focus.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com

Thousands of Native American artifacts found at Camden sites

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) _ Archaeologists have found nearly 10,000 Native American artifacts at two sites in Camden, New Jersey.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the items include a rectangular ceramic vessel, tool fragments, arrowheads, and hearthstones as well as animal bones and remains of plants likely used for food, medicine and fuel.

RGA Inc. conducted the excavations for the Holtec International campus project at the former New York Shipbuilding Co. site.

Senior archaeologist Ilene Grossman-Bailey says the intact remains of Native American activity on the site can help researchers understand the lives of people who camped along the Delaware River as early as 4,000 years ago.

Some of the objects will be donated to the Camden County Historical Society and may be displayed in the museum. Executive director Jack O'Byrne calls the discovery ``mind-blowing.''

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com

Ancient burial site found submerged off Florida

VENICE, Fla. (AP) _ State officials say archaeologists have located a 7,000-year-old Native American ancestral burial site submerged in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced Wednesday that the Manasota Key Offshore archaeological site is on the continental shelf near Venice, preserved in what appears to have been a peat-bottomed freshwater pond.

Reports of the site began in June 2016 when divers identified possible human skeletal material. Archaeologists have since confirmed that it dates from the Early Archaic period.

Officials say offshore prehistoric burial sites are rare, with others located in Israel and Denmark.

The site is protected by law, and it is illegal for anyone not authorized by the state to excavate or remove anything.