Canku Ota logo

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

Canku Ota logo

December 2020 - Volume 18 Number 12
pictograph divider
"Hon Dah!"
The Apache Greeting
Means “Welcome”

Northwestern Crow (Corvus caurinus)


pictograph divider
"We must keep these waters for wild rice, these trees for maple syrup, our lakes for fish, and our land and aquifers for all of our relatives - whether they have fins, roots, wings, or paws. "
~ Winona LaDuke~
pictograph divider

We Salute
Rep. Deb Haaland

'I'll Be Fierce For All Of Us'

Rep. Deb Haaland is poised to become the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency

President-elect Joe Biden, in a historic move, has chosen Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the U.S. Interior Department. If confirmed by the Senate, the New Mexico Democrat would be the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary.

"A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior," Haaland tweeted Thursday night.

"Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land. I am honored and ready to serve."

Read More Button
pictograph divider
Our Featured Artist: Honoring Students

Nalgene Launches Reusable Water Bottle By Diné Designer

Nalgene Outdoor, maker of reusable water bottles and of the Nalgene Water Fund has pledged its support to the Navajo Nation with the launch of its exclusive "To´ éí iiná" (Water is Life) bottle, by Diné designer Jaden Redhair.

Five dollars from every sale will go toward future water efforts to provide additional resources for Navajo Nation residents. The bottles are available to purchase at for $15.

BCC student Christie Farmer earns Montana Student Volunteer Award

"My biggest message is that we do recover, so I hope to give others the courage to change and to let them know there is hope," said Christie Farmer, one of this year's winners of the Montana Student Volunteer Award. Having just learned of her winning the statewide honor, she said, "I'm having tears of happiness because the hard work is paying off and I'm really grateful for everything that's been happening to me."

Read More
Read More
Our Featured Story: First Person History:

"The Most Important Indian"
In Memory of Hank Adams (1943 - 2020)

"An indispensable leader, an essential follower, and a brilliant strategist, he shaped more Native American civil, human, and treaty rights policies than most people even know are important or why." —The Northwest Treaty Tribes, honoring Hank Adams.
How The Family Of Pelagie Faribault Came To Own Pike Island Near Fort Snelling
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
News and Views Banner
Covid-19 News Covid-19 News

Tribal Territories Have The Right To Protect Their People Against The Pandemic

CHEYENNE RIVER RESERVATION, SD—By the time I visited, the checkpoints were already a point of contention between the tribe and the state.

As a sovereign Lakota nation, the Cheyenne River Reservation is entitled to control who enters its territory. When the coronavirus pandemic reached across the Great Plains earlier this year, it acted quickly. Since April, the tribal leadership of Cheyenne River has allowed only residents, essential workers, and commercial vehicles to enter the reservation. Set up on all roads with access to the reservation, the checkpoints were one of several actions taken by the tribe to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect their people, culture, and rights. But South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem—who has refused to enforce a mask mandate, restrict gatherings in bars, restaurants, and churches, or institute a stay-at-home order—ordered the barriers removed.

Standing Rock Sioux Elder Who Helped Preserve Lakota Language Succumbs To Covid

In October, as the coronavirus outbreak swept across the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's reservation, straddling the North and South Dakota border, tribal elder Jesse "Jay" Taken Alive was sidelined with a nagging cough.

He tested positive for Covid-19. Within a week, his wife, Cheryl, who was feeling congested and weak, did, too.

The couple's health began to deteriorate, their children recalled: Taken Alive was rushed to the Indian Health Service hospital in Fort Yates, North Dakota, and hospitalized for a few days. Later, he and his wife were both admitted to a larger hospital in Fargo, only one floor apart but unable to see each other.

Cheryl, a retired human services worker, could no longer walk on her own. She died on Nov. 11, at age 64.
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Covid-19 News Covid-19 News

Lummi Nation Begins COVID-19 Vaccinations, Starting With 300 Doses

The Lummi Nation began vaccinations Thursday, becoming one of the nation’s first to provide protection to its tribal members against a disease that has had an outsized and devastating impact on some American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

The tribal nation received 300 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine Tuesday, said Dr. Dakotah Lane, medical director of the Public Health Department and a Lummi Nation member.

“A huge relief,” Lane said Wednesday, before the vaccination. He added that receiving the first shipment of vaccine was an “emotional moment.”

Midwest Dispatch: Buffalo, Walmart, And South Dakota

I never would have thought to compare buffalo—that mighty member of the bovid family that roams and stampedes across the prairie—to a Walmart, until I heard an interview with Bamm Brewer of South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Brewer is a buffalo rancher and member of the Oglala Lakota tribe that lives on Pine Ridge. Reporter Fred de Sam Lazaro of the Under-Told Stories project, based at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, recently spoke with Brewer for a PBS NewsHour segment on the tribe’s mission to regain control of vast tracts of its ancestral land in South Dakota.
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Honoring Students Winter Solstice

Welcoming The Winter Solstice

In scientific terms, the winter solstice occurs at the precise moment when the axial tilt of earth’s polar hemisphere is the farthest away from the sun.

That moment arrived, Dec. 22 when the North Pole tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun, bringing about the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

In cultural terms, the winter solstice has been a special moment that was recognized as far back as Neolithic times.

These astronomical events in ancient times impacted the sowing of crops, mating of animals and handling of winter reserves between harvests.

The Winter Solstice Begins A Season Of Storytelling And Ceremony

In the Northern Hemisphere, December 21 will be the year’s day of least sunlight, when the sun takes its lowest, shortest path across the sky. North of the Arctic Circle, it will be the midpoint of the period of darkness, when even twilight doesn’t reach the horizon. As we did before the solar eclipse in August, this December we asked our Native friends to share traditions they’ve heard about the winter solstice. Their answers highlight winter as a time for storytelling.
Read More
Read More
pictograph ider
Living Traditions Honoring

Coast, Native Women Are Reviving A Cozy Tradition

Born in the frigid Southwestern Alaska autumn, Albertina Dull began life swaddled in feathers.

One hundred years later, in 2018, Dull flew 500 miles from Nightmute, a village near the Bering Sea, to Anchorage. There, she huddled with a few representatives from Calista Education and Culture, Inc. (CECI), an Alaska Native nonprofit that aims to revitalize the region's Indigenous cultures by creating educational programs based on interviews with Yup'ik, Cup'ik, and Athabascan Elders.

Manitoba Ojibwa filmmaker Lisa Meeches Named To Order Of Canada

Lisa Meeches, 52, is the only Manitoban among 61 recipients, announced by Rideau Hall on Wednesday. Meeches, who was born and raised on Long Plain First Nation near Portage la Prairie, calls herself a "storyteller and a story keeper."

She joked that when Rideau Hall called, she thought the Governor General was getting in touch with her to vouch for someone else.
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Land Rights Land Rights

Righting Wrongs WithThe Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe

This year has been as trying for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe as for other Minnesotans. But even with a pandemic and economic troubles that have hit its members hard, the tribe can celebrate the righting of a historic wrong.

Congress has moved to restore nearly 12,000 acres wrongly taken by the federal government from the tribe in a series of moves dating back to the late 1940s. The act, carried by Minnesota Democrats Sen. Tina Smith and Rep. Betty McCollum, has been sent to President Donald Trump, who has indicated he will sign it.


After 250 years, Native American Tribe Regains Ownership Of Big Sur Ancestral Lands

A northern California Indian tribe's sacred land is now back under their ownership, thanks to the help of a conservancy group.

The Esselen Tribe, one of the state's smallest and least well known tribes, inhabited the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur coast for thousands of years, according to their website. Nearly 250 years ago, their land was taken from them by Spanish explorers, according to the tribe's history. The tribe remained landless until Monday.
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
What We Do Living Traditions

Inuit-designed Board Game Nunami Hits The Shelves

A board game developed over the course of years from cut-up cereal boxes in Thomassie Mangiok's Ivujivik home is now ready for worldwide distribution.

The artist and educator bills Nunami as the first Inuit board game. Nunami means "on the land" in Inuktitut.

Players — from two to four — can take on the role of either human or nature. It's a game of strategy, but the goal is not to control the land or beat your opponent, but learn how to live together.

"Each time you play, not only do you get a sense of exploring, but you also see what's happening and you create a picture in your head," said Mangiok.

New Year "Indian Donut" Recipe Has 400 Year Tradition In Haudenosaunee Communities

Nó:yah Nó:yah! It is that time of year again! When we celebrate the season, give thanks for another year and give one another some special homemade treats. For the Haudenosaunee, Indian donuts are the ever-sought-after treat of the season. It’s a spiced fried pillow of flavors of days gone by.

Everyone has memories of their family members making these fried treats. Family recipes are handed down from generation to generation and with it our expectations of the perfect donut.
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Honoring   Honoring

Kyrie Irving Finds New Name And New Family On North Dakota Reservation

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation stretches across the central Dakotas, a harsh and largely desolate landscape along a wide section of the Missouri River. It is not an easy place to live and not an easy place to get to.

But it is a sacred place for the Sioux, they've defended it for hundreds of years. It is the land of Sitting Bull. They defend it to this day, the most recent opponent being intruding and, the Sioux fervently believe, dangerous oil pipelines. And they defend their way of life, their Lakota traditions and language. This is not a place for empty gestures or for public-relations stunts. It is authentic as it gets, in charming and foreboding ways.

Kyrie Irving came to Standing Rock this week for the first time. He did not come for charity -- he gave the tribe $100,000 a year ago -- and he did not come for photo ops. The main event was sternly off limits to video or photography. He came to honor his mother and he came to understand his heritage.


Biden Isn't A Lost Cause For The Left

New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland—a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo nation, and among the first class of Native women elected to Congress in 2018—will reportedly be nominated by the Biden administration to lead the Department of Interior. The agency tasked with overseeing the country’s public lands and natural resources has long contained the Bureau of Indian Affairs but has never been headed by a Native person. Nor, for that matter, has it ever been led by an open critic of fossil fuels.

More than 131 organizations—including the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Center for Biological Diversity, the NDN Collective, the Native Organizers Alliance, and the Sunrise Movement—sent a letter earlier this month to the Biden team urging Haaland’s selection, which even earned support in recent days from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Several celebrities and Haaland’s colleagues in the House joined in, as well. Julian Brave Noisecat, vice president of policy and strategy at the think tank and polling shop Data for Progress, had pushed for Haaland’s nomination for months, both in the press and behind the scenes, well before Biden clinched the White House.
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Honoring   Living Traditions

Meet Leydy Pech, the Mayan Woman Who Stopped Monsanto And Won The
'Nobel For The Environment'

Leydy Pech , an indigenous Mayan beekeeper, led a coalition that halted the planting of genetically modified soybeans by Monsanto in seven states across the country. For his defense of the environment and the autonomy of indigenous peoples and honey he won the "Nobel" for the environment: 2020 Goldman Prize Recipient North America.

Mayan blood runs through the veins of Leydy Pech, 55, and her love for honey and the defense of her land is the engine of her days. He learned to take care of the land as an ancestral legacy and his posture of defense of the autonomy of native peoples has managed to stop projects that pollute the earth and kill bees.

This Sacred Bean Saved An Indigenous Clan From Climate Calamity

Rita Uriana stooped to examine the stringy green plants covering the oasis in the Colombian desert. As the sun flared, she picked the pods and placed them in the fold of her yellow dress, knowing these beans are part of an agricultural revival that could feed hundreds of families in her desert-dwelling community.

In the past, this simple crop fed many more families in the Guajira desert. The Wayuu, descendants of the indigenous Arawak, live scattered across this dry territory in small communities called rancherias. For centuries, they survived the harsh environmental conditions by herding goats, harvesting wild fruits, and cultivating the brown-patterned cowpeas now dubbed after the Spanish name for their home, guajiro beans.
Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
Living Traditions   Living Traditions

Hope And peace: Bison Return To The Rosebud Reservation

  • The Sicangu Lakota Oyate, the Native nation living on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in the U.S. state of South Dakota, released 100 American bison onto part of an 11,300-hectare (28,000-acre) pasture.
  • The project is a collaboration between the Sicangu Oyate's economic arm, REDCO, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and WWF.
  • Over the next five years, the leaders of the Wolakota Buffalo Range project hope to expand the herd to 1,500 buffalo, which would make it the largest owned by a Native nation.
The bison circled four times around the holding pen, before the lead animals took them into the 3,400-hectare (8,500-acre) pasture, their new home on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in the U.S. state of South Dakota. The thunder of 400 hooves as they crossed through the gate gave way to the whir of cameras and ululations from the crowd, perhaps 20 people gathered to see the return of the bison.

Return Of Idaho's Sockeye Salmon

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes" years of effort on the recovery plan is paying off

Let"s break a few journalism rules. I am writing about my own tribe. It"s a subject I care deeply about, salmon recovery. And my brother turns out to be one of my sources. Other than that, I can be objective.

But I am burying the lede: After two decades of litigation, mitigation and field preparation, the sockeye salmon showed a promising return this year to Idaho"s Pettit Lake near Stanley, Idaho.

The thing is, a lot of people have given up on the Snake River sockeye. The challenges are enormous. Sockeye travel the farthest of all Idaho salmon, a journey of more than 900 miles and climbing more than 6,500 feet in elevation before they reach the Sawtooth Valley.

Read More
Read More
pictograph divider
In Every Issue Banner
About This Issue's Greeting - "Hon Dah"
The Anglo theory is the Apache Indian migrated to the Southwest from Northern Canada in the 1500's. The Apache Indian history says it was the other way around, that most of the Athapaskan speaking people migrated to the North and a few stayed in their homeland. In any event, it is generally agreed that about 5,000 Apaches lived in the Southwest at the end of the 1600's.
Nature's Beauty:
Northwestern Crow
This Issue's
Favorite Web sites
A Story To Share:
Crow Brings Daylight
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!