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Canku Ota
(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America

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March 2020 - Volume 18 Number 3
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"Wáa sá iyatee?"
The Tlingit Greeting
How are you?

This image shows an about 1.6 inch (4 cm) large male Yellow-winged Darter (Sympetrum flaveolum) from the side.

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As we all deal with COVID 19, Paul and I want you to know that you are not alone. Our thoughts and blessing go out to each and every one of you. Stay safe and be strong.

Vicki Barry
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We Salute
The Chef Bringing Native American Flavors To Communities In Quarantine

WHAT’S IN YOUR KITCHEN PANTRY? If you answered quinoa, green beans, or potatoes, you have, perhaps unbeknownst to you, been eating Native American heritage. “They might not know they have indigenous foods in their cupboard: might be canned corn, canned beans, squash,” says Brian Yazzie, a Twin Cities-based chef and food activist from the Navajo Nation, of his YouTube channel’s at-home viewers. But thanks to the ingenuity of indigenous farmers, who domesticated these crops over millennia, much of the world relies on Native American staples when times get lean.
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Our Featured Artist: Honoring Students

Author Returns With Powerful Tale Of Tribal Survival

Two years ago, Louise Erdrich thought she would never write again. The National Book Award-winning author of “The Round House” and more than a dozen other treasured novels had abandoned several manuscripts and given up. She was certain her “impetus had disintegrated.”

Fortunately for us, she was wrong.


NAU Ranks High In Nation For Indigenous Student Success

February 10, 2020 – Northern Arizona University’s commitment to Native American/Indigenous students is rising on its campuses and in national rankings. NAU awards degrees to Native students at some of the highest rates in the nation.

“Current rankings reflect that Northern Arizona University is standing behind its strategic goal to become the nation’s leading university serving Native Americans,” says NAU President Rita Cheng.
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Our Featured Story: First Person History:

Coushatta Tribe And Vivera Pharmaceuticals Join Forces In Fight Against COVID-19

Vivera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a California based pharmaceutical company, and the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana today announce a new relationship in the fight against COVID-19.

Anticipating a substantial increase in United States cases of COVID-19, the two are working together to gain FDA emergency approval for the Vivera Pharmaceuticals powered by Pharmact AG CoV-2 Rapid Test, a novel rapid testing kit manufactured by Pharmact AG, a leading German manufacturer of rapid diagnostic testing kits.


Ladder to the Sky

Long ago, in the old, forgotten time, Gitchi Manitou, the Great Spirit, created only strong, healthy people. In those days, all the men were tall and brave. They could run like the storm wind. In their games, they were clever and swift, And knew all the secrets of the four-legged ones - the forest animals Who were their brothers. The women in those times sang as they worked. Their clear voices filled the forest with melodies, and they walked with light step and straight back, Even when they were very old. They copied the fragrant flowers that grew like colored stars among the grasses. They wove flower shapes into bright bands to bind their long, black hair. With nimble fingers, the women wove the rushes and reeds into sweet smelling mats to cover the floors of their wigwams. They gathered milkweed down to make soft beds for their babies. From birch bark they could make a strong container, a mukkuk, to fill with all the plenty of woodland and stream. Nobody was ever sick in those days. Nobody died.
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COVID 19 Who We Are

Regina Girl Prays For The World Through Social Media Jingle Dress Dance

Eight year-old Mimikwas Healy from the Cowesses First Nation, along with her mother, Rebecca Agecoutay have been staying at home in Regina and watching the developments of COVID-19 closely.

On Wednesday, under the guidance of her mother, Healy decided to take part in a call out on Facebook for jingle dress dancers to pray and dance for their First Nation and the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Bourassa The Reptile Wrangler

While most avoid run-ins with rattlesnakes and other venomous reptiles, Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal Member Brandon Bourassa seeks out animals many are too scared to approach. He, along with his wife Gwyn, own and operate Bourassa Wildlife Consulting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The couple serves as animal consultants on TV and movie sets across the state, ensuring the wellbeing of cast, crew and animals alike. The business provides income while they complete their undergraduate degrees in geography and biochemistry at the University of New Mexico.
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Who We Are COVID 19

How Native-Owned Restaurants Prioritize Native-Grown Ingredients

IT'S EASY TO UNDERSTAND WHY fast-casual restaurants are popular with diners. They're quick and often affordably priced, plus you get to build a meal to your exact tastes—think Chipotle's burritos or Shake Shack's burgers.

In Denver, the fast-casual capital, the concept has extended to Venezuelan arepas, South Indian curry bowls, and American Indian eats. The latter can be found at Tocabe, which serves build-your-own Indian tacos, fry breads, nachos, salads, and posu bowls. ("Posu" means "rice" in the Osage language.) Ordering one of the bowls feels routine. There's the base (a scoop of wild rice or red quinoa with wheat berry), the meat or veggies, the beans, some mixed greens, the toppings (perhaps hominy and roasted green chiles), and a sauce. But though it looks familiar, this bowl is not like others.

As A Coronavirus Pandemic Sweeps the World, American Indian Communities Turn To One Another, Teachings

Tribal communities know death by pandemic.

As history threatens to repeat itself with the menace of the novel coronavirus, tribal communities are turning to their teachings and one another to protect themselves amid what they call a near total failure of federal resources to help, despite solemn promises in treaties.

No one is waiting in these communities for someone else to come to the rescue. Response to the threat of the virus by tribal governments and health care providers has been swift and aggressive. Tribal governments are sovereign in their territory, with broad emergency powers — and they are using them.

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Living Traditions Living Traditions

Creation Started With The Sound Of The Shishigwen

Before the Creator formed the world, the sound of the shishigwen (rattle) filled the void with a steady rhythm. Many Potawatomi liken them with the ability to give life in Nishnabé tradition. Rattles imitate the resonance of water, ranging from sprinkles hitting the bark on a tree to a thunderstorm. It all depends on the materials used, the size of the container and the pieces that fill it.

"They all have a different look. They all have a different feel in your hand," said Jason Wesaw, artist and Pokagon Band of Potawatomi citizen.


Cherokee's Seeds Of Life

A tiny part of Cherokee Nation is heading deep inside a secluded, freezing-cold mountain thousands of miles away from home.

This is the way. This is life. This is survival.

It's also history. As many tribes across Indian Country are preparing for spring planting season, Cherokee Nation is taking a dramatic step further, beyond planting and its annual seed distribution to its citizens. The tribe is the first in North America to deposit traditional heirloom seeds at Norway's Svaldbard Global Seed Vault. Cherokee Nation is only the second Indigenous community to store seeds at the vault after South America's Indigenous Andeen communities in 2015.
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Living Traditions Who We Are

Native Women Artist Reclaim Their Narrative

When Osage textile and ceramic artist Anita Fields was in her early 20s, she learned how to craft ribbon work by attending weekly informal gatherings at the Osage Nation Museum in Pawhuska, Oklahoma—the oldest of its kind in the United States. During these classes, fellow women in the community handed Fields four different colored cotton strips—ribbon was too expensive for beginners—and taught the budding artist how to sew loose basting stitches and draw a mirrored design down the full length of each strip. Slowly, Fields snipped and turned the faux-ribbon corners under, revealing what looked like a reverse appliqué with colorful layers of fabric underneath.

'Killers Of The Flower Moon' Author Says Film Adaptation In The Right Hands

Before he started working on his award-winning true-crime novel "Killers of the Flower Moon," David Grann had never seen a prairie before.

Since the 2018 publication of his No. 1 New York Times best-seller and National Book Award finalist, the New York-based author and journalist has made numerous pilgrimages back to the Sooner State.

"Oklahoma's become my home away from home. I think I'm here more than anywhere else other than in New York," the Connecticut native said last week prior to speaking on the Oklahoma City Town Hall Lecture Series.
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Living Traditions Living Traditions

Coffee On Mutton Curve

The 93-year-old sání wearing a black visor and white apron on top of her purple shirt touches a button on an espresso machine. She laughs gleefully while pointing at the machine as it pours espresso shots into two small glasses in a coffee truck in the Arizona desert.

In the next photo, the informal barista sits in a blue camping chair next to the coffee truck, holding her hot drink.

Pearl Benally, Navajo, sometimes visits the truck in the summertime with her two granddaughters, who co-own the truck with a childhood friend.

Small Artifacts On Coney Island In Lake Waconia Hold Ancient Stories

Larry Macht, a volunteer at the Carver County Historical Society, scrubbed what looked to be pebbles with a toothbrush. Archaeologist Lindsey Reiners slipped each of the stones into its own little plastic bag, carefully labeled with the location it was found.

What appear to the untrained eye to be plain old rocks, unearthed from an island in Lake Waconia, are actually valuable ancient artifacts.

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Living Traditions Tribal Recognition

The Resilience Of Native Quilts

For generations, Native American quilts have represented Indigenous resilience.

In the same way that our grandmothers’ grandmothers figured out how to feed the young ones with the scant provisions that the Army gave out, the wise ones figured out how to take scraps of fabric and turn them into quilted blankets that would comfort loved ones on cold nights.

The Army handed out blankets that poisoned people with smallpox; the grandmothers hand-stitched quilted blankets that represented comfort and love. The federal government tried to “kill the Indian, save the man.” The grandmothers incorporated patterns and symbols into their quilts that told the stories of their people and their cultures.

A Big Moment Finally Comes For The Little Shell: Federal Recognition Of Their Tribe

Almost 130 years after their treaty negotiations with the U.S. government first fell apart, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians has at last triumphed.

The Little Shell, with some 5,400 members mostly scattered around Montana, was officially recognized as part of the $738 billion defense bill that the Senate passed Tuesday and President Trump signed Friday. That pen stroke put the group on equal footing with other sovereign Indian nations, in both symbolic and very substantive ways.

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Recogniton   Our Heritage

Recognition Of Major Osage Leader And Warrior Opens A New Window Into History

In 1904, the priest of the Gentle Sky clan, Shonke Mon-thi^, came to Washington, D.C. as a member of an Osage delegation to negotiate the land and mineral rights of his nation. While in this city of diplomatic exchanges, the clan leader received an invitation from the Smithsonian Institution’s U.S. National Museum to pose for a photographer and have a plaster life mask made of his face.


Tribe, State Of Michigan To Begin Co-management Of Sanilac Petroglyphs

On Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, Chief Ronald F. Ekdahl was joined by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) representative Sandra Clark to sign a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The MOU will establish the beginning of the Tribe's co-management of the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park, or ezhibiigadek asin (written on stone), with the State of Michigan's DNR.
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In Every Issue Banner
About This Issue's Greeting - "Wa s iyatee?"
"How are you?" is "Wa s iyatee?" in Tlingit. That is pronounced similar to "wah sah ee-yah-te." But that is not generally used as a greeting. Modern Tlingit people sometimes greet each other with "Yak'i yagiyee" which literally means "good day."
Nature's Beauty:
Dragonflies Drive Dedicated Fans To Refuges
This Issue's
Favorite Web sites
A Story To Share:
The Dragonfly Story
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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 - 2020 of Vicki Williams Barry and Paul Barry.

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