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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 20, 2002 - Issue 59


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'Tau ah Taiguey"


The Arawak Greeting


"Hello and Good Day!"


Canada Geese



Month When the Geese Lay Eggs



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"We can no longer live the way we used to. We cannot move around no more the way we were brought up. We have to learn a new way of life. Let us ask for schools to be built in our country so that our children can go to these schools and learn this new way of life."

Chief Dull Knife


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We Salute
Byron Alonak

Iqaluit, Nunavut - A 90-year-old was saved by his 12-year-old hunting companion last week after the two were caught in a sudden blizzard. The elder Buster Kailek and Byron Alonak went caribou hunting on Friday afternoon and were found in a shelter four days later.

They were supposed to return Sunday afternoon, but a blizzard set in and their snow machine hit a rock. The two were forced to walk through the biting wind and -40 C temperatures. They finally managed to get to the cabin where a rescue team found them.

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School News Banner
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:

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Special Announcement
"Sharpen your pencils!

We are excited to announce that Canku Ota is teaming up with Peace Party for an art contest!!

The winners in each age group will receive prizes including the Peace Party Native-themed comic books. And, you can have your art displayed on our "Kid's Pages".
This should be a great opportunity for you to stretch your imagination and have fun too."

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Pictographic Petition to the President

In the month of January, 1849, a delegation of eleven Chippewas, from Lake Superior, presented themselves at Washington, who, amid other matters not well digested in their minds, asked the government for a retrocession of some portion of the lands which the nation had formerly ceded to the United States, at a treaty concluded at La Pointe, in Lake Superior, in 1842. ...

... But if there were doubts as to the authority or approval of the visit on the part of either the Chippewas or frontier officers of the government, these very doubts led the party, under the promptings of their leader, to resort to the native pictorial art, which furnishes the subject of this notice.


A Night of Honour - A Night of Entertainment

TORONTO - On Tuesday, April 16th at 8:00 pm on CBC Television, 14 outstanding Aboriginal heroes took centre stage to receive a National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Aboriginal community's highest honour.

"The message of these awards for young Aboriginal people - is they can go as far as they want in politics, science, business or the arts, if they set goals and stay focused," said John Kim Bell, the executive producer and founder of the awards. "And for Canada, the award recipients show that it is possible to be Aboriginal and to be successful in this country", said Bell.

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Indian Law Center Fills Vital Niche
by Dorreen Yellow Bird

When I talk to community groups, I usually tell them Minnesota, Montana, Michigan, North and South Dakota is Indian country. There are about 34 reservations in these states and they encompass millions of acres of land with resources like oil, gas, timber and minerals. They are the fastest growing groups of people on the Plains with a population of about 200,000 enrolled members.

Seven years ago when I became involved with the development of the Northern Plains Indian Law Center at UND's School of Law, it became clear to me that law school was dead center and right in the middle Indian country ... a perfect place for this project.


Indian Activist Tells Students to Wade into Social Issues

Native American students need to think long term, work hard and have trust to improve themselves, their school and their region, Indian activist Billy Frank Jr. said Tuesday.

"Nothing happens if you just sit around," Frank told Eastern Washington University students and guests during a speech for Indian Awareness Week.

"You just don't go out the door and smell the roses ... you plant cedar trees. We'll never see them tall, but our children will."

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An Ancient Tongue May Fall Silent

Richard Littlebear and others of his generation may be the last ones to joke in the Cheyenne language. The last ones to pray in it, to use it to heal.

Littlebear, 61, is one of the 2,000 or so of the 5,000-member tribe who can still speak their native tongue. In just three decades, a language that has existed for centuries could disappear.

And with it would vanish ways of knowing about the land and spirituality, says Littlebear, an educator who is trying to reverse the demise.

"The only way [people] can express themselves culturally and individually is through their language," says Littlebear, president of the tribally controlled Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer, Mont. "You're hitting at the base of a person's existence and identity."


Revitalizing Native Tongues

The ancient languages of Montana's tribes are remembered by only a dwindling number of elders. But a new urgency to save them has emerged, and an unlikely marriage of tradition and modern technology may be the answer.

Selena Ditmar was a freshman in 1942 when government workers arrived at her high school on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation to pass out war ration stamps.

Many of the elderly who came for tickets to buy sugar, lard and other scarce items spoke only Assiniboine. Confounded, the workers asked around the school for someone who could translate.

"Because everyone was ashamed, nobody wanted to admit they spoke the language," recalls Ditmar, a 74-year-old retired nurse.

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Institute Bringing Blackfeet Language Into Next Century

BROWNING -- Thirteen-year-old Jesse Des Rosier is the picture of confidence as he calls out commands in Blackfeet.

He orders classmates to draw a picture of their school on the grease board, to pick up a toy truck from an assortment of items on the floor, to shake his hand.

A lanky teen-ager with long black braids, a mouthful of braces and a Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt, Jesse is the face of a renaissance in Indian Country.


Volunteers Needed

Volunteers are needed to help out with the fifth annual Native American Youth Service Day in Browning by engaging in various service projects and fun activities throughout the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

The Blackfeet Youth Initiative, a children's volunteer group and AmeriCorps program, organized the event, which kicks off at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 27 in Browning's "Government Square" with sign-up and breakfast.

After participants go to various project sites, they'll meet at the local school for a parade of volunteers and walk to "Government Square," where they'll be served a meal and take part in more activities.

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Local Student Wins American Indian College Honors

DENVER - Crownpoint Institute of Technology student Tommy Yazzie became one of the recipients of the annual student of the year scholarships in March.

Scholarships were awarded to tribal college students from 32 tribal colleges in a ceremony at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium's spring conference.

Yazzie, who is from Continental Divide, holds at least a 3.0 grade point average and is active in his community. The $1,000 scholarship covers a half a year's tuition at a tribal college.


Brokaw Donates $25,000 to Endowment

NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, a Yankton native, has donated $25,000 to the Oglala Lakota College's Gerald One Feather Lakota Studies Faculty Endowment Fund.

The faculty-endowment fund honors One Feather, a founder of OLC, for his years of work to improve the education of Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Brokaw and One Feather met while undergraduates at the University of South Dakota and have stayed in contact throughout the years.

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Barona Seeks Charter School

BARONA INDIAN RESERVATION – The Barona Band of Mission Indians plans to convert its 33-student school into a local charter school that will serve twice as many children.

The school is a satellite of a charter based in Redding, but organizers hope creating their own charter school will give them more say over the content of lessons and encourage greater community involvement in the school.

Barona Indian Charter School would focus on teaching basics such as reading and writing, math, science and social studies, as well as offering instruction in Kumeyaay culture and language to kindergarten through eighth-graders. The Lakeside Union school board will vote Thursday on whether to grant the school's charter.


Indian Students Urged To Go Forth

Kenny Scabbyrobe left the Blackfeet Reservation about 30 years and two Grammy Award nominations ago.

He now tours the country with the Black Lodge Singers, a group based in White Swan, Wash. He was in Billings Monday for the opening ceremonies of the 27th annual Northwest Indian Youth Conference.

About 1,300 students from across Montana and North America are attending the weeklong event. Scabbyrobe hopes they leave with their eyes open to other native cultures, as well as to opportunities off the reservation.

"So many native students are bound to the reservation," Scabbyrobe said. "I think it's really important they venture out.

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Elk-teeth Dress is Epitome of Crow Status and Style

LODGE GRASS - Before the invasion of silk, sequins and designer labels, the highest fashion west of the Mississippi was the elk-teeth dress.

There was no mistaking the status of a Crow woman wearing her tribe's signature gown of blue or indigo trade wool covered by 500 elk canine teeth. They wore their wealth on their sleeves.

Because only two teeth from an elk are suitable, each dress represented years of hunting and hard work.


Native Knowledge

ST. PAUL - When the world was without clocks, calendars and computers, Incan tribes measured time and space with colored strings. Some of the pieces were woven together and had knots tied along the way to represent space and numbers.

The equinox and the position of stars could be measured under this system - even birthdays. The ancient system was today's version of floppy discs.

"It contained any data that you could record numerically," said Ben Blackhawk, a math teacher at Providence Academy in Plymouth.

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Conference Inspires Students

Two days into a student leadership conference, 16-year-old Timothy Snowball from St. Michael had mustered up the courage to do what many people fear most: speak in front of his peers.

His experience as emcee for the conference's talent show taught him "to make myself go out there and speak in front of my students, to make myself more clear, to make myself known."

Around 250 high school students came to the Alaska Native Heritage Center on Monday for a three-day student leadership conference. About half were from Anchorage schools, and the other half from rural towns like Eyak, Wales and Quinhagak. The conference included workshops and keynote speakers.


Teacher Urges Schools to Spread Art to American Indian Students

William Yellow Robe began writing plays because as an actor, there were no parts written for Indians. He then struggled to find enough Indian actors to fill the roles he had written.

Since those early days, the demand has grown for plays written by Indians, addressing Indian issues, featuring Indian actors.

"The communities are so hungry for it," he said Sunday. "Native people want to see their lives reflected (on stage) and non-Natives want learn about another culture."

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Hopi Sinom Club Performs in DC

The Hopi Sinom Club drew rave reviews for performing at the Smithsonian Institution’s Spring Equinox Celebration in Washington D.C. The event was sponsored by the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in anticipation of its opening of the National Mall Museum in the fall of 2004.

The Hopi Sinom Club comes from Hopi Junior/Senior High School. The Hopi Sinom Club performed the Pahlikmana Dance - known as the Liquid-drinking Maiden Dance.

This is part of the Hopi ceremony that represents the reproduction of life. It is also significant for rain and other moisture it can bring, representing a bountiful harvest and sustenance for life.


Who Will be Tomorrow's Great American Indian Leaders?

What do Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe, 19th century Lakota Chief Red Cloud, author and activist Winona LaDuke and Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller have in common? They're American Indian leaders and role models, who've left their mark on Indian, and American, society. Who will be tomorrow's great Indian leaders?

Dave Anderson thinks they could be sitting in one of his workshops today. The American Indian businessman started the Lifeskills Center for Leadership last year to give Indian youth the tools to succeed the same way he did.

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Alaska Legislature Honors Lifesaving Aleut Fishing Captain

Dwain Foster apparently has made a habit of saving lives on the open seas.

Foster, a 46-year-old Aleut fisherman from Sand Point in the eastern Aleutians, and his crew of three rescued the crew of a sinking fishing vessel in the North Pacific Ocean in February, according to a citation by the Alaska Legislature.

Foster and his crew pulled off a "daring midnight rescue," the Legislature said in its commendation last month.


Navajo Police Officer was Good-will Ambassador

SHIPROCK - Life's returning to normal for veteran Shiprock Police Sgt. Frank Bradley III, who spent the entire month of February on patrol at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Bradley ended up being a good-will ambassador to flocks of tourists at the Navajo Nation's 'Discover Navajo' pavilion who had questions about the Navajo people. At the same time he kept an eye out for any potential terrorist threats.

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Healthy Lifestyle Combats Diabetes

SHIPROCK - "When it comes to diabetes, members of the Healthy Lifestyles Group know their stuff.

Whether it's acting out the scientific progression of Type 2 diabetes or encouraging their friends, family and neighbors to drink more water and exercise regularly, these elementary pupils are taking a stand against the debilitating disease.

Members of the group, nearly 60 pupils from six Central School District elementary schools, are eager to share their newfound knowledge with the community and will present posters they created to representatives from Northern Navajo Medical Center Friday in Shiprock.


The American Indian College Fund Receives Grant

DENVER, Colorado (PRNewswire) -- "The American Indian College Fund has received a $60,000 grant from The Citigroup Foundation, the charitable arm of Citigroup. The two-year grant helped 98 Native American students from 19 tribal colleges to obtain scholarships in teacher training.

"We greatly appreciate Citigroup's commitment to teacher training at the tribal colleges," said Richard Williams, executive director of the Denver-based nonprofit organization. "This funding will enable students to pursue their educational goals and will in turn have a direct impact on K-12 education in native communities that are facing a shortage of qualified teachers."

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In Every Issue Banner

About This Issue's Greeting - "Tau ah Taiguey"


Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, most of the Caribbean was peopled by three types, or groups, of inhabitants: the Ciboney or Guanahuatebey, the Taino or Arawak, and the Caribs. The cultural distinctions among the three groups are not great; the single greatest differentiating factor appears to be their respective dates of arrival in the region. The Ciboney seem to have arrived first and were found in parts of Cuba and the Bahamas. They also seem to have had the most elementary forms of social organization. The most numerous groups were the Arawaks, who resided in most of the Greater Antilles--Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (presently, Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico. The smaller eastern island chain was the home of the Caribs, a tropical forest group related to most of the indigenous Indians found in Central and South America. Barbados and a number of smaller islands were not permanently inhabited.

The pre-European populations of the territories that later formed the Commonwealth Caribbean belonged to the groups designated as Caribs and Arawaks. Both were tropical forest people, who probably originated in the vast expanse of forests of the northern regions of South America and were related linguistically and ethnically to such present-day tropical forest peoples as the Chibcha, the Warao, the Yanomamo, the Caracas, the CaquetÌo, or the Jirajara--in short, the peoples found anywhere from Panama to Brazil.

This Date In History


Recipe: Kangaroo

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Story: How Kangaroos Got Their Pouch


What is this: Red Kangaroo

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Project: Regalia - Outerwear - Iroquois, Menomini and Ojibwa


This Issue's Web sites

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"OPPORTUNITIES" is gathered 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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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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