Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
August 26, 2000 - Issue 17

"bozho "


(Listen to this greeting here)




"For the American Indian, the ability of all creatures to share in the process of ongoing creation makes all things sacred."
Paula Gunn Allen

Rev. Aileen Rice (Auntie Soda)

The Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship recognizes and encourages the virtues of good citizenship by honouring Ontarians who have made outstanding public contributions through exceptional long-term efforts. The award reflects their acts of selflessness, generosity and kindness, and outstanding contributions to community life. It consists of a silver medal emblazoned with the provincial coat of arms on one side and the trillium on the other.

Among those receiving the award was:

Rev. Aileen Rice, of the Wasauksing Reserve near Parry Sound, is known by many in the community as Auntie Soda, and has been described as the "glue that holds this community together."


School News

With this issue, we are adding a new feature to Canku Ota. The information here will include items of interest for and about Native American schools. If you have news to share, please let us know! I can be reached by emailing:


Annie Humphrey

"My Indian heritage is part of who I am, so some of it comes out in my music, but I sing about a variety of human conditions. I just want to tell the truth about the world as I see it," says musician Annie Humphrey.

Humphrey was born and raised on an Ojibwe reservation in northern Minnesota where she learned first-hand the struggles of growing up as a minority.



Cherokee Marbles is a game of skill, still played in the form of tournaments. Also a skill is the art of making the marbles themselves.

The marble game dates back to approximately 800 a.d., and is a complex game of skill and strategy played by adults on a five-hole outdoor course.



Teaching Racial Tolerance, Understanding, and Appreciation

When we began publishing our newsletters, we did a lot of research and web surfing to come up with ideas and sites to share with you. One site, in particular, disturbed us so much, that trying to combat its message became the basis for Canku Ota. This site, an educational page done by a middle school teacher, in West Virginia, was talking about the Hopi People. The information was about Kachinas and all of the verbage was past tense. For example..."the Hopi USED to"...this teacher went on to have her class make Kachinas as a project. It became painfully clear to us that even in the year 2000, people still believe, and teach, that our cultures and traditions are no longer living or deserving of respect.

With the new school year about to begin, we would like to share with you some ways that you can help to "Celebrate Native's Traditions and Cultures." Teaching tolerance and appreciation can enrich and expand all of our lives. A few simple do's and don'ts can help.


Teaching to Reach Out
Educators Learn to Identify, Work Against American Indian Prejudices

When Gary Johnson recently asked his college students to visualize an American Indian, their collective image was a dark-skinned man in buckskin and feathers.

Not a woman, not a doctor, not a person dressed as you would expect to meet in everyday life, student Ryan Schmidt recalls.

The exercise helped make the eight students in Johnson's Native American Cultural Awareness for Educators class at the University of Wisconsin-Superior aware of their preconceptions of American Indians.

"It's interesting; there's so much I didn't know,'' said Schmidt, a Carlton resident studying to be a social studies teacher. "The biggest things were stereotypes I didn't even know I had.''



What She Was Called Not as Important as Who She Was

You say to(mah)to and I say tom(ay)to. You say Sajacawea and I say Sakakawea.

Just what are the correct pronunciation and spelling of this famous historic figure’s name and who is she — really?

I, meaning those back home and some the rest of the world too, are stirring this cauldron of questions about this historic figure. But these questions can be blamed on the celebration of the anniversary of the Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s expedition almost 200 years ago. This celebration prompted the new dollar gold coin with Sakakawea’s face on one side. Incidentally, this is first ever in our history that the federal government saw fit to put a native woman on a coin.


For Indians, Trip Began Conquest of Their Culture

As the Corps of Discovery bicentennial approaches, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are being heralded as astronauts in buckskin who defined American character by exploring a continent.

But the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation in western Montana are opting out of the celebration. They reflect a view of native peoples that is being heard across the Northern Plains, Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest. To them, the Corps of Discovery was the vanguard of a conquest that wrought fundamental change in a centuries-old way of life.

"What we have done is tried not to participate in the celebration except on an educational level," says Tony Incashola, chairman of the Salish-Pend d'Oreille Culture Committee.



Tulalips Hope to Join the Computer Age While Protecting Their Heritage

TULALIP -- On the Tulalip Indian Reservation, high tech means electronic slot machines in the casino, not PCs in the homes. And although the glow of new technology is just a glimmer on the horizon, the old ways of the tribe are fading.

Younger generations aren't learning the native Lushootseed language -- the tricky alphabet with upside-down and backward e's, and k's adorned with superscript w's. Traditional songs and stories are imperiled as decades-old reel-to-reel recordings crumble.

But a technology partnership involving the Tulalips, the University of Washington and Everett Community College could modernize reservation homes and businesses and protect the tribe's heritage.


Alabama-Coushatta Tribes Work To Preserve Unwritten Languages

In the sad, old Indian story, two friends argue and destroy their friendship. One, a dove, forever mourns the loss.

Telling the tale, Yolanda Poncho softly imitates the call of the dove, crying for its lost friend, just as her grandmother used to. The difference is that her grandmother told the story in the Coushatta language, and Poncho recounts it in English.

Although Poncho can tell the story in either language, many tribal members cannot.

The Alabama and Coushatta tribes, which share this reservation, are working to keep alive their languages, which experts say could disappear by the time today's children grow old.



Natives to Get Major Say in Determining Endangered Species, Says Minister

IQALUIT, Nunavut -Aboriginal groups will get a voice in deciding which endangered species get protection in legislation now being drafted, federal Environment Minister David Anderson promised Tuesday.

"No people are as concerned about the disappearance of species as aboriginal people," Anderson said in Iqaluit, where he is attending a meeting of Canadian wildlife and environment ministers.

Anderson said an aboriginal representative will have a seat on the scientific committee that determines whether a species is at risk, said Anderson.


Navajos Visit Cousins in Alaska to Improve Student Achievement

FAIRBANKS, Alaska—When the automatic glass door to Fairbanks International Airport slid open, Maggie Benally, a Navajo language teacher from Fort Defiance, Arizona, stepped outside the terminal. She slowly glanced around the brightly lit landscape and looked at her watch. “It is 2:30,” she whispered. “Where are all the people and automobiles?”

“Yeah, 2:30 in the morning,” replied one of her companions, Wilfreda Allen. “Even here in the land of midnight sun, we’ll probably not see much going on at this early hour.”



Crow Fair’s Colorful History Dates to 1904

In 1904, a government Indian agent devised a plan to help the Crow Indians become self-sufficient through farming. Nearly a century later, the Crow Fair tradition is still alive and well.

Patterned after Midwest county fairs, the agent envisioned a festival where cash prizes would be awarded for the best produce, handicrafts and native foods. Crow Fair eventually encompassed active participation by the entire tribe and gradually revived more American Indian rituals. After World War II, agricultural aspects went by the wayside and social and cultural affairs stayed.


Capitol Dome: Indian Statue Selection Gains Support from Tribal Leaders

Placing an American Indian statue atop the Capitol dome will increase the appreciation of Oklahomans for the historical role Indians have played in the state, Wilma Mankiller said Monday.

The former chief of the Cherokee Nation was one of several American Indian leaders in the state to speak out in favor of a decision last week by state officials that the to-be-built capitol dome will be crowned with the likeness of a generic male Indian, representing the state's unique heritage.



Library's Bookmobile Workers Complete a Circle of Human Contact

I was taught as a child that life is a circle, the sacred hoop, and as we travel the hoop, it is the journey that is of importance, not the destination. It is how we conduct ourselves when our journey touches another's that has value, rather than our arrival at that place.

Children blindly accept the wisdom of their elders. There is a peace that comes when a truth you accepted as a child is validated in the cold light of adulthood.

I am the child of farm workers. As a child, life in the fields means hard physical labor, inadequate education and the kind of despair that breeds violence and alcoholism. When I was 11, my father was employed year-round by a farm in the Puyallup Valley.


Humboldt State Program a Model for Training
Native American Teachers

ARCATA, Calif. — Seeking to stem the staggeringly high school-dropout rate among American Indian students, in the late 1960s tribal leaders and educators agreed that Native students would respond better to Native teachers.

To create that pool of educators, they started the nation's first Indian teacher-training program on the campus of Humboldt State University. There amid the California redwoods, in the state with the second-largest Indian
population, they selected 18 students - seven men and eleven women, representing the Hopi, Cherokee, Pomo, Mission, Washoe, Pit River, Hupa and Yurok tribes -- who began rigorous, year-round training.


About This Issue's Greeting - "Bozho"


The Potawatomi language belongs to the Algonkian language group; as such it is related in structure and vocabulary to the Ojibwe, Menominee, Kickapoo, Miami-Illinois, Shawnee and Cree languages, and most closely resembles Ojibwe and Kickapoo. Linguists classify it as a separate language that became a distinct entity long ago. Most Potawatomi who are involved with the language feel strongly that this is so.

This Date In History


Recipe: Camp Cookies


Story: Skunk Outwits Coyote


What is this: Prairie Dogs


Project: Birchbark Projects


This Issue's Web sites


"OPPORTUNITIES" is from sources distributed nationally and includes scholarships, grants, internships, fellowships, and career opportunities as well as announcements for conferences, workshops and symposia.

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