Canku Ota logo

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

Canku Ota logo

June 2020 - Volume 18 Number 6
pictograph divider
'Neenjit dagoonch'uu"
The Gwich'in Greeting
How are you?


Major Planting Moon
pictograph divider
"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~
pictograph divider
Read More Button

We Salute
Graduate Jayne Sandoval: Gold Axe Winner, Fulbright Scholar Plans To Use Degree To Improve Life On Navajo Reservation

Jayne Sandoval grew up in Ute Pass Valley, a small area of the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona that had been passed down in her family for generations. But it was more than just the place she was raised — it was where she learned to connect with her Native American culture and the Earth.

Because of her fear of gang violence and growing drug problems surrounding her community, Sandoval's single mother sent her and her siblings to a reservation boarding school in Shonto to ensure a quality education away from negative influences.

"Being sent away taught me independence, yet I grew distant from my Navajo culture and became interested in the technology of modern life, thus creating conflict and confusion in my identity as a young Navajo woman," Sandoval said.
Read More
pictograph divider
Our Featured Artist: Honoring Students

Navajo Poet, Laura Tohe, Awarded $50,000 Fellowship

Laura Tohe of the Navajo Nation is among 23 recipients of the Academy of American Poets' 2020 Poet Laureate Fellowship, a distinction that comes with a $50,000 grant for civic poetry programs.

Tohe, who is Sleepy-Rock People clan and born for the Bitter Water People clan, grew up at the base of the Chuska Mountains in Crystal, New Mexico, and currently lives in Phoenix.

She is Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation, a professor emerita with distinction at Arizona State University and the author of several books and librettos, including "Tseyí / Deep in the Rock," "No Parole Today," "Making Friends with Water," "Code Talker Stories" and most recently, "Nahasdzaan in the Glittering World."

First Nations Student Honoured As McGill Valedictorian After Leading Fight Against 'Redmen' team Name

A First Nations student who led the campaign to get McGill University to change the name of its men's sports teams, graduated last week as one of the Montreal university's few Indigenous valedictorians.

Tomas Jirousek, a member of the Kainai First Nation in southern Alberta, received an honours degree in political science and was a valedictorian for the Faculty of Arts.

"Each of my peer Indigenous students who made it to this step have really overcome so much in just reaching this milestone," said Jirousek.
Read More
Read More
Our Featured Story: History ... In The News:
The Navajo Gift To The Irish:
A Personal Account Of My Visit To The Reservation
Pueblo Revolt
Rising Up Against The Spaniards
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
News and Views Banner
Education News Education News

Historic Donation Leads To Choctaw-Ireland Scholarship

The $170 donated by Choctaw leaders in 1847 — or "Black '47," as the Irish who survived the rampant starvation, disease and exposure remembered it — would today have amounted to over $5,000, historians estimate.

At that time, the Choctaw were still grappling with their own grief and loss, caused by the abuses of a colonial government a decade earlier, and they appear to have seen their own suffering reflected in a people over 4,000 miles away.

The donation has since inspired three visits between heads of state in both nations, the construction of an iconic stainless steel sculpture in Ireland's County Cork, a poetry collaboration between Choctaw author LeAnne Howe and Irish poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa, dance performances of welcome, music that aspires to merge Irish "trad" with Indigenous rhythms and a scholarship.


Phoenix Teens Raise $11,000 For Supplies To Send To The Navajo Nation

In three weeks, a friend group of teenagers in Phoenix raised over $11,000 for supplies to donate to the Navajo Nation.

17-year-olds Ben Richardson and Max Goldstein, 16-year-olds Caroline Purtill and Alex Goldstein and 13-year-old Sierra Goldstein all spent a couple of full days at stores, loading up six or seven cars with supplies.

"We were in quarantine and we didn't have a lot to do," Max Goldstein said. "We wanted to help out our community in Arizona."

After hearing about the Navajo Nation's high rate of COVID-19 infection, they felt concerned and inspired to help in whatever way they could.

Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Education News Education News

Washington Post Article Spurs Stilwell Students Into Action

Stilwell made national news last week when its high school senior class placed in the top 10 finalists for a National Public Radio podcast competition.

The winners will be announced– Wednesday, June 3.

The Adair County students' accomplishment is impressive, considering NPR received more than 2,000 podcasts from 46 states and the District of Columbia in this year's Student Podcast Challenge.

Twenty-five finalists were announced on May 27 – 15 high schools and 10 middle schools. The senior class of Stilwell High School investigated The Washington Post article reporting their town was not only the Strawberry Capital of the World, but also the "early death capital of the United States."

Students Create Sculpture Inspired By Indigenous Stories Via Online Classes

A group of high school students brushed finishing oil onto a sculpture at a ceremony in Vancouver Thursday, after several weeks of online video classes where they imagined and planned out what the sculpture would look like.

Students from various Vancouver high schools were originally supposed to carve the piece together, but COVID-19 restrictions sidelined those plans.

Instead, they had to wait until the past few weeks to help carve and sand parts of the piece with their instructor, Indigenous education teacher David Robinson, as some COVID-19 restrictions were gradually lifted.

Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Honoring Students Honoring Students

Something To Celebrate: Cherokee Valedictorian Navigates A Pandemic

Raylen Bark, a multi-sport athlete and National Honor Society member, had also been selected as one of 10 tribal members to represent the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the 2020 Remember the Removal Ride, during which she would pedal a bicycle from Cherokee and along the Trail of Tears into Oklahoma. Her days were full of school, strength training, sports practices and games — basketball season was just ending, and track starting up — and then bicycle training. Remember the Removal riders were required to take genealogy, language and history classes as well, and somewhere in there Bark also had to find the time for homework.

Twins From Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation Head To Michigan State University

Twin Anishinaabe boys are heading to Michigan State University in the fall after successful high school careers at St. Andrew's College in Ontario.

Originally from Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation on the Bruce Peninsula, Neebeesh and Neebin Elliott say they have always been competitive since they were children, but have also always been there to support one another.

In Ojibway, Neebin means 'summer' and Neebeesh means 'leaves.'
Read More
Read More
pictograph ider
Honoring Students Education News

Ilisagvik College Awards Its First Bachelor's Degree

Ilisagvik College in Utqiagvik awarded its first bachelor's degree. It's the first Tribal college in Alaska to do so.

Anchorage resident Darian Danner received her first bachelor's degree from the University of Anchorage. But when Ilisagvik College offered a tuition waiver to Alaska Native and American Indian students, getting her second degree was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

'Our Culture is Beautiful': The Voices Of Indigenous TikTok

"I'm probably the only Native American that has come up on your For You page, so listen up."

That's Jojo Jackson, a Navajo teen, in a now-viral April video on TikTok. The statistics he shares next aren't pretty: 50 deaths and more than 1,200 Coronavirus cases confirmed on the Navajo reservation.
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Living Traditions Living Traditions

The Cherokee Chefs Bringing Back North America's Lost Cuisine

In March, a few weeks before COVID-19 shut down the country, chef Nico Albert and her longtime mentee, chef Taelor Barton, met at Duet Restaurant + Jazz to discuss plans for their upcoming Native American dinners and culinary classes.

Each November for the past two years, Albert has turned the menu at Duet Restaurant + Jazz into full Native American fare. While the seasonal, New American food that Albert serves year round has made the 140-seat eatery one of Tulsa's most beloved fine-dineries, it is this menu of contemporary Native dishes, available only during Native American Heritage Month, that truly stands out. Locals and regulars flock to the restaurant, and Cherokee and other tribal members come from as far away as Michigan or Seattle. The offerings—which include persimmon frybread pie made with Pawnee heirloom corn and crispy, sumac-crusted snapper with roasted squash, wild greens, sweet corn hazelnut sauce, and pickled blueberries—routinely sell out.

144 Years After The Battle Of Little Bighorn, Lakota Values Endure

For many Americans, the eagle feather headdress is a generic symbol of Native America indivisible from the narrative of the wild west and cowboys and Indians. For the Lakota, the wapaha is a symbol of cultural values, responsibility, and leadership. In order to wear a single eagle feather, a Lakota person must earn the right to do so. As Lakota elder Duane Hollow Horn Bear explains in the video below, “Imbued in this man’s life must be characteristics of the values of our people, such as fortitude, perseverance, generosity, bravery. And when he wears this, he must always think of the people as a whole.”

It has been 144 years since June 25 and 26, 1876, when the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho defeated Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Education News Living Traditions

The Power Of California's Native American Youth In The 2020 Census

The Native People Count California campaign has worked with Native Youth since January to provide our youngest voices with the tools and guidance to participating in the 2020 Census.

The campaign is a collaboration between the California Governor's Office of the Tribal Advisor, the California Complete Count Census 2020 office, California Indian Manpower Consortium, and the California Native Vote Project.

Kaytlynn Johnston, 15, of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, recently expressed to her peers, elders, and community members through public service announcements that they have a chance for their voices to be heard by participating in the 2020 Census.

Ms. Johnston is Miss Pabanamanina Powwow Princess and president of the Bishop Paiute Tribal Youth Council. She is also a member of the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY).

Bringing Back The Buffalo Was Always Important To The Rosebud Sioux. The Pandemic Made It Urgent

"We have always believed that bringing back the buffalo is important, but the pandemic shows that it is urgent," said Wizipan Little Elk. "We are all talking about food security and what the new normal is going to be…We [at Rosebud] have to get back to our roots and provide an example for the rest of the world."

Little Elk, CEO of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), is referring to the alarming problems the pandemic has exposed in the huge, centralized system that provides most Americans with their food. Over the last several months, numerous large meat packers closed down after workers were found to be infected with coronavirus. Supply chain problems have caused many farmers to have to kill and dispose of millions of pigs and chickens, dump milk and plow under vegetable crops. Meanwhile, sporadic food shortages have been reported around the country, adding to the fear and insecurity created by the pandemic.
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Education News   Giving Back

Museum Of Indian Arts And Culture Puts Curriculum On Tribes Online

Each year, the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs' Wonder on Wheels mobile museum travels through the state.

A special curriculum is developed by the one museum with the Wonder on Wheels, which then goes out to communities far and wide.

With students out for the summer, parents and teachers may find that many of the state's museums have an online component to it.

"We've been in the process of getting materials online for the public to use," says Daniel Zillmann, director of communications and marketing for DCA. "These are important tools."

Minneapolis Nonprofit Grows Culturally Specific Food For American Indian Communities

On a barren cornfield in Hugo, crews are transforming the land with ambitious plans.

After clearing invasive buckthorn trees, they will restore the sandy, clay soil and plant trees and a meadow to house birds and insects while boosting the amount of healthy, culturally specific food for American Indians in the Twin Cities.

"We're trying to turn the clock back on the soil," said Jessika Greendeer, the farm manager. "It's going to take some time."
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
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.)
Nature's Beauty:
Native Fruit:
The Wild Blueberry
This Issue's
Favorite Web sites
A Story To Share:
The Cherokee Legend Of The First Strawberry
Read More
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Home ButtonFront Page ButtonArchives ButtonOur Awards ButtonAbout Us Button
Kids Page ButtonColoring Book ButtonCool Kids ButtonGuest Book ButtonEmail Us Button
pictograph divider
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.

Canku Ota logo


Canku Ota logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the
Copyright © 1999- 2020 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!