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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 15, 2002 - Issue 63


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'Neenjit dagoonch'uu"


The Gwich'in Greeting


"How Are You? "




Blackberry Month

Muscokee (Creek)


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"The Giver of Life.... the Creator....did not intend that people abuse one another."

- Iroquis saying


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We Salute
Native American Leaders Celebrated
by the Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation recently recognized community leaders for outstanding leadership. We salute these two Native American women who are making a difference:

Local and Global Leadership, Gwich'in Style:
Sarah James

An indigenous people fight to protect their culture on Alaska's coastal plain.

The challenge
The Gwich'in, or "Caribou People," of Alaska depend on hunting, particularly of the 130,000-strong Porcupine (River) caribou herd, for approximately 75 percent of their protein and calories – as well as clothes, tools and other life-sustaining materials.

People of the Dawn:
Denise Altvater

A Maine woman helps Native youth reclaim their past and future.

The challenge
The Wabanaki, or "People of the Dawn," live in Maine and Canada in an informal confederacy of four tribes: the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy. Maine's two largest reservations are located in one of the most remote and economically deprived areas in the United States.

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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
Stay tuned to find out who won our "Native Heroes" art contest
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  LOOK HERE button We Have Entries!!!!

Micheal Horse

It's no surprise Michael Horse's first love is storytelling through art.

Throughout his career, Horse has found ways to tell stories of his people. Though the American Indian activist has found success as an actor, musician and voice-over talent, Horse will turn his attention to his first love this weekend.

Horse is judging the art competition at the Red Earth Festival. The annual celebration runs today through Sunday at the Cox Convention Center.


Keeping the Flame of a Language Alive

Indian people throughout the nation are losing their languages at an alarming rate. This means the culture of the 540-plus tribes may be lost forever

In Indian country, some say this is well and good. We should all speak one common language. That will build stronger relationships, they say.

Dr. Douglas Parks, an anthropologist at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., disagrees. (As do most Native people, I think.)

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Thunderhawk's Dangerous Spring Encounter
by Geoff Hampton

Writer Geoff Hampton shares this story that should delight both young and old.


Tolerance 101
A project by Southern Poverty Law Center

In the next issues of Canku Ota, we are going to share ideas with you about learning and teaching tolerance. Perhaps this will inspire you to come up with your own ideas to share.

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News and Views Banner

Indiana is Still Mihtohseenionki
(The People's Place)

INDIANAPOLIS - "I was talking to my grandpa one day about some old pictures that we had, and I asked him why we don't wear [our traditional] clothing anymore. And grandpa said, 'Oh, we had to sell a lot of it for our lawyers' fees.' "It was a really bad time." - Scott Shoemaker (Miami Nation of Indiana), ribbonwork artist, 2001

That conversation with his grandfather started 25 year old Miami Nation of Indiana member Scott Shoemaker down a path toward reclaiming a part of his family's Native American heritage. And that story, which needed to be told, illustrates why the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis has created a gallery devoted to telling the story of the Native peoples of the Midwest.


THE FAST RUNNER premeires in the US

Lot 47 Films and Igloolik Isuma Productions are extremely proud to announce the U.S. Premiere engagements of the first dramtic film ever made by an Inuit filmmaker in the native language of Inuktitut, the majestic, award-winning epic motion picture THE FAST RUNNER.

A.O. Scott of the New York Times wrote, "THE FAST RUNNER is a masterpiece. It is, by any standard, an extraordinary film, a work of narrative sweep and visual beauty that honors the history of the art form even as it extends its perspective. THE FAST RUNNER also abounds with humor and sensuality. The combination of dramatic realism and archaic grandeur is irresistibly powerful. THE FAST RUNNER includes some unforgettable sequences. The most astonishing scene has already become something of a classic, a word that will quickly be bestowed on the film as a whole."

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Warrior Statue Rises to Place Atop Capitol

"The Guardian," a statue of an American Indian warrior, rose into Oklahoma's cloudy blue sky Friday to stand atop the state Capitol dome as a silent sentinel for its land and values.

"Raise 'The Guardian' — may he long watch over our grand land and good people," Gov. Frank Keating said, signaling the hoisting of the 5,980-pound statue by a giant crane.


Tepees Bring Blessing to Ulm Pishkun

ULM, MT - In a solemn tepee lodge blessing ceremony Saturday, Blackfeet elder Robert "Rice" Crawford passed on the right to paint lodges and conduct ceremonies to Blackfeet tribal member Lyle Heavy Runner.

Crawford blessed tepees built by local students for the Ulm Pishkun State Park, one of the largest buffalo jumps in North America, 10 miles southwest of Great Falls.

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Celebration: Making the Connections

Toni Welch experienced an epiphany at her first Celebration in 1998.

"Coming and seeing the dancers, the pride and traditions and togetherness, I was just overwhelmed," she said. "You can be brought up totally aside from the tradition and you come to this and it reaches down so deep inside you - and it's there."

Welch is a Tlingit from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. She returned to Celebration this year with her parents. She said she grew up with some elements of her Tlingit traditions, but not a lot. Her mother and grandmother had been distanced from their heritage. Celebration is part of a process in recent years that has reconnected them.


Celebrating Outstanding Achievements by Native Performers

As the sun melted into the ocean, people began gathering at the ritzy Century City Plaza Hotel in Beverly Hills for the 10 th Annual First Americans in the Arts (FAITA) extravaganza on February 2nd. Beautifully attired women and men greeted old friends and caught up on what had been happening in each other's lives, exchanged business cards and talked about future events.

Inside the beautiful room where dinner was served followed by the award show, were three large IMAX screens which allowed everyone unrestricted visibility of the presenters, award winners, the entertainment, and the wonderful film clips that preceded each award winner.

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Rookie Firefighters Undergo Strenuous Training, Await Fires

HAYS, MT - "Nearly 200 rookie firefighters are ready to report for another busy fire season as they finish training today on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.

Rookies from the Fort Belknap, Blackfeet and Rocky Boy's reservations, and urban crews from Helena and Great Falls, have been based at the fire camp in Hays since Sunday.

Rookie school is the first rung on the ladder to a wildfire-fighting career. Graduates will be dispatched to fires in the United States and Canada.


He's a Young Hunkpapa with a Mean Fastball

BISMARCK, ND - A young man only 17 years old sends a mean fast ball at 85 mph and pitched a shutout game until the ninth inning in the State A Tournament in Bismarck last week.

Rob Bird House, enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and a Jr. at Bismarck High School, pitched a no hitter for the Demons into the ninth inning when the opposing team finally got a hit and scored.

Fargo won the game 1-0 but the Demons took 5th place in the tournament.

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Tribal Immersion Schools Rescue Language and Culture

Twenty years ago, Darrell Kipp moved back to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. He'd been away from his birthplace long enough to serve a tour of duty in Vietnam, earn two master's degrees, and establish a career as a technical writer.

He and a small group of Blackfeet friends longed to go home again, to reconnect with their culture and relearn the language they'd spoken as children. They were dismayed to find out that while they'd been away, the number of fluent speakers of Piegan, the Blackfeet language, had plummeted, and the remaining speakers were all more than 60 years old.


Swirls of Butterflies
Language is Life Conference

March 8th-10th, the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival sponsored the 5th Biannual Language is Life Conference held at the Marin Headlands in Sausalito, California. Over 250 participants representing over fifty California languages and a smattering of out of state tribes spent three days attending workshops, participating in panels, listening to keynote speakers and in general, networking around language like never seen before! As always, the logistics of bringing together folks from the far corners and remote regions of the state, made the actual assemblage a sweet reunion for friends and acquaintances that rarely have a chance to see each other and opened the possibility of making many new friends for many others.

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Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center Opens

POWAY, CA - Ceremonial songs detailing the connection between past, present and future were used to celebrate the dedication of the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center on Saturday.

The event drew nearly 60 people, including Assemblywoman Christine Zettel, R-Poway and Poway City Council members Betty Rexford and Bob Emery, who supported the project. The 5-acre site offers a glimpse into the lives of the Kumeyaay-Ipai Indians, the original settlers of Poway. Poway is an anglicized pronunciation of Pauwai, an Indian name.


Nutritionist Shares Knowledge of Traditional Plants

Bethel, AK - With a green scarf tied at her chin and rubber boots on her feet, Mary Gregory stands on a hillside of tundra, holding a handful of dark moss so her students can identify survival food.

Gregory tells them they can eat the hard, black plant if they're in a pinch and there's no other food available.

Gregory learned the wisdom from her mother during family hunts for tundra plants every spring and summer.

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Tribal Elders Carry on Old Ways

IGNACIO, CO - Bennett Thompson reaches to shelves in a small workroom of his house and pulls out his arts and crafts projects – works of beads, silver and wood; pelts waiting for the perfect use.

"I tell you what, I do more work now that I'm retired," said Thompson, a 66-year-old Southern Ute and a member of the Southern Ute Committee of Elders. "I never thought I'd be an elder."

Thompson is one of 119 Southern Ute Indian tribal members older than 59; his generation makes up 8.6 percent of the tribe's population of 1,378 members.

The Southern Ute Tribal Council formed the Committee of Elders in 1980 to tap the resources of tribal elders and institutionalize a traditional respect for elders.


Chickasaws Honor Woman on Dawes Roll

TULSA -- Sallie Jones is used to being around important people.

Her husband was a prominent figure in Oklahoma politics, and her bloodlines can be traced to one of the Chickasaw tribe's most famous people.

But more recently, the Chickasaw Nation wanted to show Jones how important she was.

The tribe honored Jones by giving her a commemorative medal at an early birthday party Saturday. The sterling silver medal, an honor bestowed on tribal members who were original enrollees of the Dawes Commission rolls, was delivered by Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby.

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Art of the Northwest Coast and Aboriginal Canada

Some believe that the people of the Northwest Coast originally migrated from Asia, across the Bering straits. The art of the Northwest Coast developed a unique expression and style. It is one of the most distinctive of all the arts of man.

The Northwest Coast is one of the richest natural environments in the world. The area is bounded by Alaska to the north, the coastal mountains to the east, the Columbia River to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.


Southern Ute School Adds 4th-grade Class

IGNACIO, CO - It's summer and teachers at the Southern Ute Indian Academy are excited – for the next school year.

The budding Montessori school, which last school year accommodated infants to 9-year-olds, has received the OK from the Tribal Council to expand to the fourth grade.

"We're excited," said Ann Peck, a teacher for the lower-elementary students, ages 7 to 9. "We are very excited that the council believes in the school."

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In Every Issue Banner

About This Issue's Greeting - "Neenjit dagoonch'uu"


The Gwich'in Athapaskan language has also been known as Loucheux, Kutchin and Tukudh. It is used in Northern Yukon, Northeast Alaska and Northeast N.W.T. The people of the Gwich'in community of Old Crow call themselves the Van Tat-Gwich'in, or people who live among the lakes (ie., Crow Flats)" (The language is referred to as Kutchin, or Tukudh.)


This Date In History


Recipe: Let's Jam

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Story: Raven Steals Daylight


What is this: Ring-billed Gull

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Project: Smelly Stuff


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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