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Webmaster's Blog - Native American Resources

A place to put resources of a more ephemeral nature, such as events, recommended new websites, new books, etc.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Teeing Off in Indian Country

IN the late 60's, Wendell Chino, the innovative and autocratic president of the Mescalero Apache Nation in southeastern New Mexico, surveyed some fallow fields of oats on his poor, mountainous reservation and declared the land ideal for one of his entrepreneurial brainstorms.

Mr. Chino, who died in 1998, championed economic development projects like sawmills, ski runs and legalized gambling. But before roulette wheels ever arrived, when the poorest Mescaleros still lived in canvas tents and tepees, he stunned his tribe by proposing a 250-room hotel and championship golf course, the first destination golf resort in New Mexico.

"It was completely beyond the minds of any of us here," said Freddie Peso, 67, a Mescalero sculptor and longtime tribal council member. "I knew nothing about golf or resorts. No one here played golf. And neither did Wendell Chino."

In 1975, Mr. Chino's dream was realized as the humble, all-wood Inn of the Mountain Gods, and its 7,000-foot-elevation golf course became what is believed to be the first tribal-owned course in the nation. It was an immediate hit, and it pioneered a once-unthinkable cultural curiosity: thousands of upscale duffers finding golf nirvana in remote Indian country.

Today, there are more than 50 tribal-owned courses in some 17 states, with several more under construction. From the San Carlos Apache tribe's Apache Stronghold Golf Club in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona to the Mohicans' Pine Hills Golf and Supper Club in the Wisconsin woods, tribal courses have changed Indian country's physical and cultural landscape, helped diversify the tribes' casino-dependent economies and given American golf some of its finest new playgrounds.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

$25,000 to Lobby Group Is Tied to Access to Bush

WASHINGTON, March 9 — The chief of an Indian tribe represented by the lobbyist Jack Abramoff was admitted to a meeting with President Bush in 2001 days after the tribe paid a prominent conservative lobbying group $25,000 at Mr. Abramoff's direction, according to documents and interviews.

The payment was made to Americans for Tax Reform, a group run by Grover G. Norquist, one of the Republican Party's most influential policy strategists. Mr. Norquist was a friend and longtime associate of Mr. Abramoff.

The meeting with Mr. Bush took place on May 9, 2001, at a reception organized by Mr. Norquist to marshal support for the president's 2001 tax cuts, which were pending before Congress. About two dozen state legislators attended the session in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds. The meeting was called to thank legislators for support of the tax-cut plan, an issue on which the tribal leader had no direct involvement.

Mr. Norquist attended the meeting, along with Mr. Abramoff and the tribal leader, Raul Garza of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. It is not clear what role, if any, Mr. Norquist played in getting Chief Garza into the meeting, and there is no suggestion that the White House was aware of the $25,000 payment.

But the transaction adds new details to what is known about how Mr. Abramoff used his links to well-connected conservatives to establish himself among his lobbying clients as having access to the highest levels of power in Washington. Mr. Abramoff has pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt public officials and is cooperating with the Justice Department investigation.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Linguists Find the Words, and Pocahontas Speaks Again

In the new movie about Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, founded in 1607, the paramount Indian chief Powhatan asks Capt. John Smith where his people came from. The sky?

Responding to the question, translated by an Indian whose smattering of English probably came indirectly from the earlier failed Roanoke colony in North Carolina, Smith replies: "The sky? No. We come from England, an island on the other side of the sea."

The dialogue continues as the interpreter puts Smith's reply in Powhatan's own words, Virginia Algonquian, a language not spoken for more than two centuries. Like most of the 800 or more indigenous languages of North America when Europeans first arrived, Powhatan's became extinct as Indians declined in number, dispersed and lost their cultural identity.

But a small yet growing number of linguists and anthropologists has been busy in recent years recreating such dead or dying Indian speech. Their field is language revitalization, the science of reconstructing lost languages. One byproduct of the scholarship is the dialogue in Virginia Algonquian for the movie "The New World."