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

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August 2020 - Volume 18 Number 8
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"Wáa sá iyatee?"
The Tlingit Greeting
How are you?

Neon Skimmer (Libellula croceipennis), Male
Jewel of the Creek Preserve, Cave Creek, Maricopa, AZ.

Rice Moon
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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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We Salute
'Everybody In The World' Was Asking For Rance Sneed's Art

When Phoenix resident Rance Sneed first started getting the sniffles around June 18, the 48-year-old artist thought it was his annual summer bout with allergies.

When he still had them a week later at a drum group rehearsal, he was told that a member of the group had contracted the coronavirus, and that he should get tested, said his father, David Sneed Sr., 69.

After Rance got tested at the Gila River Reservation on June 26, his symptoms worsened to include severe headaches, dehydration, upset stomach and a cough.

Sneed, who had no known underlying health conditions and wasn't on medication, never went to the hospital and died in his bed on July 6.
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Our Featured Artist: Honoring Students

Wendy Red Star Is Teaching Children About the Crow Nation With Her Art

When multimedia artist Wendy Red Star went to public school in Montana as a kid, she wasn't taught any Apsáalooke (Crow) history. She and many of her classmates were of Crow descent and lived on the nearby Crow reservation. Still, the stories of her tribe and names of her ancestors were completely excluded from the curriculum.

Red Star has spent her artistic career researching what the public school system failed to give her: her history. Combining knowledge of the Crow tribe from within the reservation as well as external archival sources, she uses her rich cultural heritage as visual source material in the hope that it is carried into the future. Historic photographs of an 1880 Crow Peace Delegation that negotiated land rights with the US government, for example, are annotated with red pen; she's transformed drawings of animals by Peelatchiwaaxpáash (Chief Medicine Crow) into stuffed toy dolls; a series of self-portraits shows her dressed in Native American clothing and set against comically plastic backgrounds that are meant to look authentic.

First-Generation Denver College Student Refuses To Let COVID-19 Pandemic Stop Her Academic Dreams

Overcoming obstacles is part of the human experience. At 18 years old, Elizabeth Reyes has overcome more than most.

Reyes' father is serving time in prison. She has faced homelessness and stereotypes about Native American and Latina women, but through it all she has persevered.

"I've honestly lived a lot in the last 18 years. I don't live with my mother. I live with my friend and her family and that was a big decision to make on my own," Reyes said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added its own set of challenges to her life. Reyes finished out her senior year with virtual classes, which was a struggle for her, particularly in math.

"I missed out on high school. I missed out on prom. I missed out on graduation," Reyes said.
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Our Featured Story: First Person History:

How 19th-Century Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous Racism Reverberates Today

Minnesota doesn't typically come to mind when you think about slavery and the Civil War. It's also not a place that's figured into the national imagination when it comes to Black activism, either—at least, not until recently. However, as part of the series on "Black Life in Two Pandemics," this post draws on several events in Minnesota's history to help us understand the connections between the historic and the current experiences of Black and Native people in the Midwest.
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Education News Education News

Elders On FaceTime, Virtual Feast Help First Nations Students During Pandemic

The Seven Generations Education Institute in northwestern Ontario makes access to elders a priority for its students and the global pandemic means they're getting even more innovative in maintaining that connection.

The publicly funded, not-for-profit institute offers education at all levels from preschool through to trades certificates, diplomas and degrees at campuses in Fort Frances and Kenora and through distance learning.

COVID-19 is providing new opportunities to apply its core function — empowering students through Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway language) and culture, said Brent Tookenay.

How This Carver Is Keeping Nuu-Chah-Nulth Traditions Afloat

For Joe Martin, the dying art of dugout-canoe making is an inheritance from his father that he has a duty to preserve. As a boy from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation off Vancouver Island, picking up carving skills was as natural as fishing or hunting. Now, at 66, he wants to pass on the craft to the young people of his community.

The dugout canoe is a vital symbol of the livelihood and the culture of the Nuu-chah-nulth, 14 related First Nations on the Pacific Northwest Coast. Historically, master carver Joe Martin says, stone, bone and fire were used to carve dugout canoes in the Nuu-chah-nulth way. He has an array of modern tools to get the job done, but is committed to building the canoes as his father taught him to do.
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Preserving Language Education News

Mother-Daughter Duo Write Haida Language Children's Book Together

A Haida mother and daughter are sharing stories about the children in their family in a new bilingual children's book.

Lynn Hughan and Carsen Gray said that they had always wanted to write a book together, and this year that dream finally came true.

"Writing and illustrating has always been something I've wanted to do," said Hughan.

Why AIM Started The Heart Of The Earth Survival School

In 1970, the American Indian Movement (AIM) declared its intention to open a school for Native youth living in Minneapolis. AIM had identified the urgent need for Indigenous children to be educated within their own communities. Two years later, Heart of the Earth Survival School opened its doors, providing hope to Native families whose children had endured the racial abuse prevalent in the Minneapolis public schools.
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Preserving Language Education News

With Program's Popularity Growing, Saskatoon Cree Bilingual School To Move To New Facility

Students and families at Saskatoon's St. Frances Cree Bilingual School have been advocating for new school facilities for years, as the popularity of the program has outstripped its physical capacity.

Now, their goal is in sight.

On Wednesday, the government of Saskatchewan announced the kindergarten to Grade 8 school will be moving into a new 700-student facility to be built at 2010 Seventh St. E.

School On The Land: Indigenous Teachings Get Kids Outside The Classroom

Just before her regular school year started, 18-year-old Isabella Zeller-Calahoo spent a day in late August learning to scrape a moose hide in her auntie's backyard in Edmonton.

"It's amazing, but [my] arms, oh me!" Zeller-Calahoo said. "They're weak right now, but they'll be tough when I get older; they'll be bigger."

The full-day process is a workout. It's also a lesson in biology, chemistry and art.
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Living Traditions Living Traditions

Why 12 Dene Adventurers Paddled More Than 500 km In A Handmade Mooseskin Boat

Lawrence Nayally had never been in a mooseskin boat himself, but he grew up hearing about his grandfather's adventures in huge canoes made from as many as 14 moosehides.

So when former Dehcho grand chief Herb Norwegian and documentary filmmaker Geoff Bowie invited Nayally to be part of a 2018 recreation of a traditional Dene voyage by mooseskin boat, he didn't hesitate.

"The unity and harmony and peace and love and friendships that were made on [those journeys] was always something that I wanted," Nayally, host of CBC Radio's Trail's End in Yellowknife, told As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner.

How Native Americans Bring Depth Of Understanding To The Nation's National Parks

The artist George Catlin proposed the idea of national parks in 1841, in his book Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians. Ten years before, Catlin had set out for St. Louis to see the United States' new western lands. In 1832, he began a journey that took him 1,800 miles up the Missouri River. All along the way, he met and sketched Native tribes and individuals where they lived. Through these travels and interactions, Catlin grew concerned that the expansion of the United States would threaten the Indigenous nations and the beautiful wilderness and wildlife of the land. In the Dakotas, Catlin wrote that this world should be preserved "by some great protecting policy of government . . . in a magnificent park, . . . a nation's park, containing man and beast, in all the wild and freshness of their nature's beauty!"
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Our Heritage Our Heritage

Legacy of Canada's Role In Atomic Bomb Is Felt By Northern Indigenous Community

As the world marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a little known part of the legacy is the impact on the Déli?ne First Nation of the Northwest Territories. I explore their stories in the film A Moral Awakening, which is available online.

Esther Martinez: Protecting The Intangible Heritage Of The Tewa People

Indigenous languages, the core of intangible cultural heritage, are central to the identity of Indigenous peoples, but most of the languages spoken when North America was first colonized have been lost or are critically endangered. Esther Martinez—author, linguist, legendary storyteller for New Mexico's Tewa people, and National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow—is credited with saving the Tewa language, spoken by six Pueblo Indian tribes.
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Biography Biography

White Earth To World Series: Charles Bender's Bittersweet Baseball Story

The swirl of world events threw a few knuckleballs into major league baseball in 1918 — namely a deadly flu pandemic and World War I.

At a shipyard just outside Philadelphia that summer, you would have found a 34-year-old hammering rivets into transport ships for the war. He just might have been the best Minnesota-born baseball player ever.

Perspective: Grandma Cele, The Unknown Ojibwe Suffragette

As we recognize the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, I think of my Grandma Cecelia Rabideaux, known as Cele to family and friends.

Cele died in the 1950s before I was born; she was only 57 years old. Part of my family's often vaguely shameful past, memories of her are seldom spoken aloud.
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Education News   Education and Environment

Yurok Scientist Verifies New Subspecies

In February, Keith Parker's groundbreaking genetic research on the Klamath River's Pacific lamprey was submitted for publication in a prestigious scientific journal.

Parker, a Yurok citizen and fisheries/molecular biologist for the Yurok Fisheries Department, is responsible for identifying a previously unverified, genetically distinct lamprey subspecies on the Klamath. As the lead author, Parker detailed his landmark finding in "Evidence for the Genetic Basis and Epistatic Interactions Underlying Ocean- and River-Maturing Ecotypes of Pacific Lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) Returning to the Klamath River, California." The technical manuscript will soon be printed in Molecular Ecology, an internationally acclaimed periodical.

Science, Tradition And The Fond du Lac Band's Fight Against Copper-Sulfide Mining

In the fight to keep copper-sulfide mining from gaining a foothold in Minnesota and polluting one of the most stunning tracts of wilderness in the United States, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness has been privileged to partner with many organizations and communities, including the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Their traditional hunting, fishing and ricing grounds along the St. Louis River are directly downstream of PolyMet's proposed copper-sulfide mine. We are currently working with on lawsuits to stop PolyMet. Their fight illustrates how clean water binds community, traditions and human health.
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News from the Arts   Survival

McKnight Distinguished Artist Marcie Rendon On Life As A Very Busy Writer

The McKnight Distinguished Artist Award is Minnesota's highest cultural honor. Given each year since 1998 by the Minneapolis-based McKnight Foundation, a longtime supporter of artists and the arts, it recognizes Minnesota artists who have made significant contributions to our state's cultural life. Winners receive an unrestricted $50,000 cash prize, a once-in-a-lifetime windfall for most.

Of the 23 Distinguished Artists to date, Marcie Rendon, the 2020 winner, is the first Native American woman. In 2019, Jim Denomie was the first Native American man.

Remembering The Dakota Warrior Who Took The First Shot

His Dakota name, Tawasuota, roughly translates to "Many Hailstones." But it was just one shot that blasted his name into the history books as the warrior who, most scholars agree, fired the first deadly bullet in the U.S.-Dakota War.

Starving, tired of broken treaties and frustrated by delayed government payments, Dakota leaders decided to go to war in southern Minnesota 158 years ago this week. Tawasuota's shot came after a violent outburst on Aug. 17, 1862, when four young Dakota hunters killed five white settlers in a dispute that began over a farmer's eggs in Acton Township in rural Meeker County.
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For the Foodie in Us   And, For Some Fun

The Native-American Origins Of Gumbo

THE SECRET TO WHIPPING UP a gumbo that makes your neighbors jealous is in Kisatchie National Forest. At least, that's what John Oswald Colson and Dustin Fuqua might tell you. Every summer, Colson and Fuqua make their way through the longleaf pines of Central Louisiana until they find a wispy, unassuming tree with mitten-shaped leaves low enough to pick. This is the sassafras tree, and the highly coveted, gumbo-elevating herb made from its dried and pulverized leaves is called filé.

Asterix and the New Translated Editions

Asterix, the long-running, best selling French comic book series about a village of Gauls resisting Roman occupation, is getting a new publisher in the United States: Papercutz. The publishing house, which specializes in graphic novels for all ages, will republish all of Asterix — which began in October 1959 and whose story is currently at Volume 38 — in a set of collected editions and with Americanized translations.
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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:
Fourteen Fun Facts About Dragonflies
This Issue's
Favorite Web sites
A Story To Share:
The Origin Of The Dragonfly: A Zuni Tale
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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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