Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
October 7, 2000 - Issue 20

"Oki Ni-kso-ko-wa"


Hello, greetings my relative




"For hundreds and hundreds of years, we lived a good life. There was plenty to eat and we were healthy and happy. Then, one day a terrible thing happened that would change our lives forever ...

The invasion of CC and the Aliens!!!!!!!! They were strange looking, too. Some of them had red hair, some had yellow hair, some had brown hair and some had NO HAIR AT ALL!

They took our land, they ate our food, and they made us sick. But, we did not give up and we did not disappear. We are still here ... we are still here."

From a talk by Joseph Medicine Crow, last remaining war chief of the Crow Nation, April, 2000.

We Salute
Karletta Chief

WINDOW ROCK - As a Stanford University student, Karletta Chief remembers sneaking peaks at Chelsea Clinton and other famous classmates on campus.

Three days after being crowned the 2000-2001 Miss Navajo Nation, she can relate to how those people felt. Chief has noticed the leering looks and whispers as complete strangers hesitantly approached her, eager for a handshake.

Originally from Black Mesa, Ariz., Chief grew up without electricity or running water in the Bennett Freeze area. She hopes to use the upcoming year to advocate environmental issues and serve as a role model.


How to Hold a Native American Cultural Education Day
By Solomon-Grade 8

Every year for the past 14 years, a Native American Education Day has been held on the Friday before the annual Mahkato powwow that is held in Mankato, Minnesota, on the third full weekend of September. The Education Day offers third graders in the Mankato school district a brief glimpse into a different culture.


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:


Sharon Burch

Nominated for three Native American Music Awards, Sharon Burch is a name to remember. She was raised in the traditional Navajo culture in New Mexico and spoke only Navajo until she began school. After high school in California, she attended Navajo Community College in Tsaile, Arizona and later the University of New Mexico.


Quilts Vital to Native American Traditions

For some Plains Indians, handmade quilts have replaced buffalo robes in all-important tribal baby-naming ceremonies. The practice of standing on a buffalo robe during the baby-naming ceremony has given way to standing on a Morning Star quilt, an elaborately colored composition of an eight-point star.



Famous Indian Authors Visit Schools

Members of northern Nevada's American Indian tribes got a treat this week as national writers belonging to different American Indian tribes discussed their experiences and insights as authors, while in town for the fourth annual Great Basin Book Festival.


Symbol of Aboriginal Freedom

Cathy Freeman's awesome golden win in the 400 metres final was a remarkable personal triumph and a great moment for Australians especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Tasmanian Regional Aboriginal Council congratulates Cathy.



Ground Breaking for New Fond du Lac School

Little Black Bear Elementary School is a colorful, well-lit educational facility on the Fond du Lac Reservation. It was a furnace factory years ago, then it was the Black Bear Casino before it was renovated to become a school about five years ago.

Now, with bright yellow and red cupboards in classrooms, the Ojibwe colors of red, yellow, black and white in the hallway tiles and a student-created mural representing the four seasons, the school has much to offer its pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students.


Voices for the Youth
12 Young People Named to Presidential Youth Council

WINDOW ROCK - At 19, she works for a nonprofit organization that advocates for sacred Indian sites in the Duke City area.

As part of her job, she interacts on a regular basis with politicians on the local, state and tribal levels. But one of the biggest and most exciting challenges lays ahead for Lyn Sharon Bluehouse Wilson.

Wilson, a student at the University of New Mexico, and 11 other talented young people, ranging in ages from 14 to 25, were selected to serve on the Navajo Nation Presidential Youth Council where they will be advocates for their peers.



Speak, Cultural Memory:
A Dead-Language Debate

Over the last seven years, Jessie Little Doe Fermino, a member of the Mashpee tribe on Cape Cod, has been on a single- minded mission to revive the language of her ancestors, Wampanoag, the one that greeted the Pilgrims when they landed at Plymouth Rock and that gave the state of Massachusetts its name. But when she applied to the National Endowment of the Humanities for a grant to create a Wampanoag dictionary, she was turned down.

The apparent reasons: the Wampanoag language has not been used in about 100 years, the known descendants of the original speakers number only 2,500 and Ms. Fermino is trying to make a spoken language out of a language that until recently existed only in documents, many of them from the 17th century.


Avataq Takes New Action on Language, Culture

PUVIRNITUQ — As Nunavik’s Avataq culture institute moves into its 21st year, there's a renewed focus on language and culture.

Avataq’s president, Robbie Watt, said he sees a growing willingness to collaborate between younger and older Nunavimmiut, as well as among Nunavik’s various organizations.

"If this trend continues, we are going to salvage, protect and preserve the language," Watt said. "Language and culture deal with everyone, after all."

At Avataq’s recent elders’ conference, 30 elders and 30 youth spent a full week exchanging their concerns and learning new skills.

During the conference they inaugurated a new culture park in Akulivik.



Cherokee Clothing

Although there have been many styles of clothing unique to the Cherokee people throughout the years, one style remains in vogue. The Cherokee Tear Dress is the standard traditional fashion for women, and the ribbon shirt stands for the men.


Celebrate Indigenous People's Day!

From October 12th through the 15th at San Jose City College, Ableza, a Native American Arts and Film Institute in San Jose, CA presents the World Premier of "Dancing The Circle," a new Native American multimedia musical.



Petaluma Storyteller Keeps Indian Tradition Alive

PETALUMA -- Storytelling has always been a part of life for Lanny Pinola of Petaluma. As a child born on the small Kashaya (Southeastern Pomo) reservation near Stewart's Point and then raised by family in Sebastopol, he spent hours listening to elders tell tales in their traditional language about life before and after European contact.


From the Hearts of Children

The children at the Kataujaq Day-Care Centre in Rankin Inlet lit a special candle this past week.

The day care recently sponsored (adopted) a young child from Sri Lanka through the World Vision organization.

Manager Sharron Brown says the project developed due to the efforts of day-care craft co-ordinator, Amanda McLarty.



The Invasion of Europe

This story imagines a parallel universe in which Native Americans have conquered and settled Europe. Part of the point is that Native Americans would not have done to Europeans what Europeans actually did to them. The main point is (as Sherman Alexie says) is to "turn it around," in order to expose cultural double standards. Feel free to use it (with attribution) for education around October 12th.


Will Another School Year Bring Insult or Honor?

With another school year upon classroom teachers comes the reality and challenge of educating a multicultural society. Teaching multiculturally requires examining sensitive issues and topics. Accordingly, teachers should not ignore the issues of Indian mascots in schools. Instead, they should become one of those teachable moments in which issues are confronted and discussed.


About This Issue's Greeting - "Oki Ni-kso-ko-wa"


Blackfoot is an Algonquian language spoken by about 5000 people of the Blood, Peigan, an Siksika tribes in southern Alberta and Northern Montana. Its closest sister within the Algonquian family is Cree. There is no native or standard Blackfoot orthography although D.G. Frantz has developed one in order to write the Blackfoot Dictionary.

The language is currently in a period of rapid change between what its speakers classify as "Old Blackfoot" and "New Blackfoot"; dialects spoken by older and younger generations respectively.

This Date In History


Recipe: Acorn Recipes




What is this: Coyote


Project: Pinch Pots


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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