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

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April 2020 - Volume 18 Number 4
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"Wáa sá iyatee?"
The Tlingit Greeting
How are you?

American Marten (Martes americana)
"Nvda Atsilusgi "
FLOWER MOON (when plants come to life and bloom again and the Earth is renewed)
Eastern Cherokee
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"A Warrior is challenged to assume responsibility, practice humility, and display the power of giving, and then center his or her life around a core of spirituality. I challenge today's youth to live like a warrior."
~Billy Mills~
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Arne Vainio: Zoongide'iwin Is The Ojibwe Word For Courage

Something incredible happened. Former First Lady Michelle Obama posted on Twitter and Instagram on National Doctor’s Day and requested people comment on loved ones who are physicians. My wife Ivy sent in my photo with a short caption. That photo ended up getting almost a thousand comments and on World Health Day Michelle Obama shared a post with 6 photos of health care providers and my photo was in the middle on the bottom row.

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Our Featured Artist: Honoring Students

Ojibwe Artist Robert DesJarlait Reemerges As Artistic Force

Life has taken many turns for Red Lake artist Robert DesJarlait, including a pair of recent bouts with cancer. But no matter where his life has taken him, from the front lines of environmental activism to the powwow dance arena, DesJarlait has maintained a strong – you might say, genetic – connection to art.

Challenge Accepted:
Doing STEM the Spirit Lake Dakota Way

"Ok everyone, hang on, here comes a big one!" I said as I steered the pontoon into the oncoming wave. I had five students on the boat with me for an environmental science class. We were conducting a lake temperature profile for Spirit Lake (Mni Wakan), a beautiful and culturally sacred place for the Dakota people. However, the trip did not go exactly as planned.
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Our Featured Story: First Person History:

Why The Buffalo Was Important To Native American People

Do you ever wonder Why The Buffalo Was Important To Native American People? I sure do.

Sometimes referred to as The Wal Mart of long ago, the mighty Bison (Buffalo) was a significant part of First Nation’s way of life and had many uses for the tribes at this time. Nowadays, you can only see Buffalo here and there, but at one point they roamed North America, by the million’s. But what happened to them? Let us explore deeper into the mighty bison.

Place of the Bears

Phantom Lake, Wisconsin - August 25, 1899 - The post office of this township is known as Mukwonago, one of the prettiest and most prosperous of the many little towns along the line of the Wisconsin Central, yet the hundreds of resorters that have been at Phantom Lake this summer never heard of the town before. Its name is such a peculiar one that the visitors have been wondering for many days how it originated.


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Education News Honoring Students

Music Expands Tribal Member's Worldview On A Trip To London

On Jan. 1, 2020, Tribal member and baritone player Kayden Harrell stood on the corner of Piccadilly Street and St. James's Street with more than 100 Southmoore High School marching band members from Moore, Oklahoma. They anxiously awaited the chance to perform as part of London's New Year's Day Parade, instruments in hand.

Taylor Wins NCHSAA’s 2020 Pat Gainey Student Award

Colby Taylor, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and a student at Swain County High School, has been selected as the recipient of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s (NCHSAA) 2020 Pat Gainey Student Award.

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Education News Education News

Teesateskie Named To NCCAA Mideast All-Region Team

Tori Teesateskie, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is making her mark at the collegiate level in her freshman year with the Johnson University (Tenn.) Lady Royals. She was recently named to the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) Mideast All-Region Team.

Education or Indigenous Erasure?

I come from a lineage of geniuses.

My Samoan ancestors were so intelligent that they figured out how to sail across the Pacific using only the stars as their guide. Can you imagine that? People nowadays can barely get from point A to point B without Google Maps dictating each and every step that they're supposed to take.
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Honoring Students Education

Navajo Student Comes Home To Navajo Nation After School At Duke And DC

Climb the ladder, get an education…. Then what? The reservation will always be here….. But its people may not always be. Go off and make us proud…. But, what if I want to make you proud right here at home?

These are all things I have been told time and time again as a scholar growing up on the Navajo Nation. And, like every other Navajo child running through our chapter houses, I listened. I climbed that ladder tirelessly until I found myself at the top walking across the stage to retrieve my diploma at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. And, yes, in my 22 years of life, the reservation has remained, but it is changing.

We Must Listen To The Earth

Now is the time to reflect on our spiritual and cultural connections to the Earth. COVID-19 is a direct communication from the natural world, and we must listen and ask, “Why are you here?” Instead, many are afraid and failing to learn the lessons this disease can teach us.

Traditionally, Anishinaabe people depended on those plants and animals found in our environment: fish, deer, elk, wild rice, and herbal medicines. Our cultural traditions have taught us humility; that we must ask permission before we take anything from the natural world. Our traditions also tell us to offer asemaa (tobacco) to the spirits whenever we harvest or kill anything for our own sustenance and well-being. This tradition of gifting the spirits of the natural world allows us to take what we need in a good way and without negative repercussions
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Honoring Students Legends

Ganado Student To Represent Arizona In National Poetry Recitation Competition

Sylvia Dale, a senior at Ganado High School in Apache County, will represent Arizona at the 15th Annual Poetry Out Loud national finals competition in Washington, D.C., April 27 – 29.

The Arizona Poetry Out Loud State Finals were held at Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix March 7. Ten students, representing schools from Tucson to Ganado, a chapter of the Navajo Nation, recited poems by a diverse array of literary luminaries, including Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, and contemporary Arizona poet, Natalie Diaz.

A Sidekick's Little-Known Leading Role In Lacrosse

At Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Hagersville, Ontario, the home of the Six Nations Chiefs, box lacrosse champions of eastern Canada, a photograph from 1931 hangs on the wall. Gazing ahead resolutely and gripping a lacrosse stick is a handsome dark-haired Mohawk man with a bandage over his right brow.

That man was Harry J. Smith, but many years later, he became known to the world as Jay Silverheels, the actor who played Tonto in the "The Lone Ranger," a television series that ran from 1949 to 1957.

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Living Traditions Living Traditions

Indigenous Input Helps Save Wayward Grizzly Bear From Summary Killing

When a bear starts feeding off garbage and loses its fear of humans it is quickly shot but an unlikely conservation partnership may be setting a different path

In early April, a young grizzly bear swam through the chilly waters off the western coast of Canada in search of food.

He came ashore on Hanson Island, one of more than 200 rocky outcrops in British Columbia's Broughton archipelago, and quickly started eating garbage from a cabin.

It was a dangerous move: bears that get too comfortable eating food waste and start to lose their fear of humans are quickly shot.

Carving The Past Into The Future: Museum Readies Mask Exhibit

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian has a new cultural exhibit ready for patrons once it re-opens its doors following the COVID-19 pandemic. "Many Faces" features the ancient art of Cherokee mask making in a modern realm and will inform visitors of this art form still practiced today by many Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians artists.

"The exhibit explores the contemporary mask culture," said Dakota Brown, Museum of the Cherokee Indian education director. "Not only will guests be able to see a wide variety of Cherokee masks, but we were lucky enough to be able to collect some oral histories from mask makers that we have incorporated throughout the exhibit."

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Education News Living Traditions

Archaeologists Have A Lot Of Dates Wrong For North American Indigenous History

Columbus famously reached the Americas in 1492. Other Europeans had made the journey before, but the century from then until 1609 marks the creation of the modern globalized world.

This period brought extraordinary riches to Europe, and genocide and disease to indigenous peoples across the Americas.

Three Bikers Finish Iditarod Trail Invitational

Three persistent cyclists arrived in Nome on their heavily loaded fat bikes on March 23, after 22 days and seven hours struggling through some tough winter conditions. For much of the time, they were not riding but rather on foot pushing their bikes through deep snow.
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Mascots and Stereotypes   Mascots and Stereotypes

Land O'Lakes Quietly Drops Its Native American Maiden Logo

She's gone.

The Land O'Lakes Native American maiden, a silent spokeswoman for the Minnesota-based cooperative since the late 1920s, has disappeared from butter, cheese and other product packaging.


Flagstaff High School's Native American Club Asks To Rename Sacred Peaks

The Native American Club at Flagstaff High School gathered in early March to discuss renaming the San Francisco Peaks to the indigenous names to respect the people, culture and history of the mountain in Flagstaff.

Five students from the club were at the press conference: Taralyn Sloan, Trissdyn Nez, Ignacio Agoodie, Denver Seaton and Skyla Ramos.
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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:
American Marten
This Issue's
Favorite Web sites
A Story To Share:
Nukumi and Fire
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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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