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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, May 26, 2006

Anglos once were the immigrants

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Whether illegal immigration issues stir brilliant debates or cries of fear and intolerance, one historical fact is always overlooked: America's own holocaust, carried out by (guess who?) illegal immigrants from (guess where?) Europe -- uninvited foreigners who came to these shores and took everything they could.

That's not getting much mainstream attention. I'm taking off my reader advocate hat to offer some personal thoughts about this matter out of love for my mixed Cherokee/Scots-Irish heritage.

Somehow the deaths of a guesstimated 11 million Native Americans at the hands of attacking, manipulative immigrants during a 400-year span seems worth bearing in mind as Americans respond to alarms about porous borders, jeopardized healthcare and threats to justice and quality of life posed by "illegals."

Americans can say, surely not with pride, that our country knows from centuries of personal experience how unchecked immigration devastates life and why it's an issue that deserves the best of our thinking and empathy.

Our history brims over with examples -- brutal, bloody instances of inhuman immigrant actions that are far removed from the basic aspirations so often associated these days with "illegals."

Most "illegals" might dream of a better life, but it's doubtful that, like the earlier immigrants and the perpetual forces they set into motion, they're plotting to seize others' property, kill babies and earn bounties based on body parts brought back from raids.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

In the Desert, Ancient Signs

ON the northern border of a vast desert preserve, halfway up a dusty hillside and overlooking a great forest of Joshua trees, David Nichols knelt to brush off a flat gray stone.

"Yep, this is one right here," he said, motioning toward a sheet of exposed bedrock. A group of small, closely spaced stones, like tiny turrets in the sand, formed a vague ring at his feet. "These supposedly kept the rodents out."

Mr. Nichols, one of two full-time research archaeologists employed at Mojave National Preserve, was showing off a recent discovery. On a nondescript hill, a quarter-mile off a four-wheel-drive dirt track, the remnants of a prehistoric way of life lay scattered in the sand.

Throughout Mojave National Preserve, a 1.6 million-acre park about 140 miles northeast of Los Angeles, the subtle traces of a bygone civilization are all around. Pictographs painted on cave walls, dart tips in the sand, shelters, fire rings and pottery shards are common in the area, where generations of prehistoric people lived and died. Indeed, Mojave National Preserve is an amateur archaeologist's dream, with undocumented sites open year-round for visitors to explore in the empty, undeveloped park.

The Drying Pallet Site, as Mr. Nichols has come to call his new hillside finding, features 21 limestone slabs encircled with rocks that were carefully placed hundreds of years ago. The indigenous people, Mr. Nichols told his small tour group, used the sunny protected rock platforms to prepare Joshua tree blossoms.

"It was dried like beef jerky," he said of the white blossoms, which each spring still daub the land below in one of the world's largest and densest forests of Joshua trees. "Food in the desert was dried for preservation; it was the only way."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Feds Restore Some Navajo Head Start Funds

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) -- Federal officials partially restored funding for the Navajo Nation's Head Start program, which was suspended after the tribe was accused of failing to do employee background checks.

The decision frees up $9.2 million dollars for the Early Head Start program, which has a summer session scheduled to start Wednesday.

The Administration for Children and Families told tribal officials earlier this month that they were prohibited from using money earmarked for its Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Authorities said the tribe failed to perform background checks and that an investigation turned up dozens of employees with criminal records.

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. said the partial lift demonstrates the federal government is recognizing the steps the tribe is taking ''to correct a big problem.''

The remaining funding for the Head Start program will be suspended until the Navajo Nation implements its corrective action plan, which Shirley submitted to the federal government May 8.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Canada is a colonial country

It's actually surprising there are so few native blockades, considering the violence that's been done to First Nations communities

Andrew Orkin, Citizen Special

Published: Wednesday, May 10, 2006

This time the Indians are occupying a new non-native subdivision on land they say is theirs in Caledonia, Ont. A court injunction issued by a non-native judge is being defied. Citing signs of Warrior involvement or the influx of Indians from other communities, the OPP raided the occupation and arrested the occupiers "without violence." Many more Indians then barricaded Highway 6.

Six Nations Band Council says the occupiers are renegades and there is no recognized land claim involved. The Haudenosaunee blockaders have allegiance only to their ancient Six Nations confederacy traditional government. They are demanding nation-to-nation discussions with the federal Crown.

Frustration grows among local non-natives. Some are claiming that Caledonia is theirs by virtue of "conquest." Ministers and the provincial and federal governments say the occupiers are "illegals" because the Indians "sold or surrendered" their land in the 1800s and now have only a reserve. At the same time, these ministers call repeatedly for a peaceful outcome.

Ironically, a judicial inquiry into the shooting death of Dudley George at Ipperwash a decade ago grinds on in Forest, dissecting that Indian land occupation and its own ex parte (only one side appeared in court) injunction, renegades, police raid, arrests, ministerial pronouncements of illegality, and the state use of force.

It may be beneficial, and maybe even save some lives, if we explore the meaning of some of the key terms here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Leaving the Wild, and Rather Liking the Change

SAN JOSÉ DEL GUAVIARE, Colombia — Since time immemorial the Nukak-Makú have lived a Stone Age life, roaming across hundreds of miles of isolated and pristine Amazon jungle, killing monkeys with blowguns and scouring the forest floor for berries.

But recently, and rather mysteriously, a group of nearly 80 wandered out of the wilderness, half-naked, a gaggle of children and pet monkeys in tow, and declared themselves ready to join the modern world.

"We do not want to go back," explained one man, who uses the sole name Ma-be, and who arrived with the others at this outpost in southern Colombia in March. "We want to stay near town. We can plant our own food. In the meantime the town can help us."

While it is not known for sure why they left the jungle, what is abundantly clear is that the Nukak's experience as nomads and hunter-gatherers has left them wholly unprepared for the world they have just entered.

The Nukak have no concept of money, of property, of the role of government, or even of the existence of a country called Colombia. They ask whether the planes that fly overhead are moving on some sort of invisible road.

They have no government identification cards, making them nonentities to Colombia's bureaucracy.

"The Nukak don't know what they've gotten themselves into," said Dr. Javier Maldonado, 27, a physician who has been working with them.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Yale Historian Finds Geronimo Clue - New York Times

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A Yale University historian has uncovered a 1918 letter that seems to lend validity to the lore that Yale University's ultra-secret Skull and Bones society swiped the skull of American Indian leader Geronimo.

The letter, written by one member of Skull and Bones to another, purports that the skull and some of the Indian leader's remains were spirited from his burial plot in Fort Sill, Okla., to a stone tomb in New Haven that serves as the club's headquarters.

According to Skull and Bones legend, members -- including President Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush -- dug up Geronimo's grave when a group of Army volunteers from Yale were stationed at the fort during World War I. Geronimo died in 1909.

''The skull of the worthy Geronimo the Terrible, exhumed from its tomb at Fort Sill by your club... is now safe inside the (Tomb) together with his well worn femurs, bit & saddle horn,'' according to the letter, written by Winter Mead.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

80,000 Native Canadians to Be Compensated for School Abuse - New York Times

TORONTO, April 26 — In a long delayed conclusion to a dark chapter of Canadian history, negotiators have reached an agreement to compensate 80,000 Native Canadians who attended a government-financed school system where many suffered physical and sexual abuse.

The widespread incidence of alcoholism, family violence and incest in many Native Canadian communities has long been linked to the experiences of generations who attended the so-called residential schools, which were dedicated to forced assimilation and operated for more than a century, until the 1980's.

Typically, government agents forced Inuit, Cree and other children to leave their parents and attend the schools, where they were harshly punished for speaking their own languages or practicing their religions.

Negotiators representing the government, native peoples and several churches that administered the schools agreed that nearly $2 billion would be paid out in damages. Payments are set to begin next year, but will possibly be accelerated for the elderly and the sick.

The accord, which negotiators called one of the largest damage settlements in Canada's history, needs cabinet and court approval, but that is considered a formality.

Jim Prentice, the Indian affairs and northern development minister, announced the agreement without fanfare on the floor of the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon. There was no official apology, although the federal government had already admitted that sexual and physical abuse in the schools was widespread.