Glittering World: Case (Almost) Closed . . . .

By Joshua Stevens

The National Museum of the American Indian in New York is abuzz as the debut of Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family comes closer. A little less than three weeks before the exhibition opens to the public November 13, people behind the scenes are putting the final elements in place, bringing life to the sketches, blueprints, and mock-ups that designers worked tirelessly to perfect.

A visit to the museum’s East Gallery right now gives a vivid sense of just how stunning the exhibition will be. Vibrant colors of crimson and turquoise give a new personality to the space, almost as if visitors will walk into a life-sized piece of Navajo jewelry. It is also apparent that much more remains to be done as prep work continues in every corner of the gallery.

Standing out among all the work in progress is casework that will eventually hold hundreds of pieces of jewelry made by the Yazzies. It’s easy to be amazed by how much planning it takes for every single case. Each case is inscribed with numbers that categorize it and map what it will contain. The exhibition team—led by Peter Brill, assistant director for exhibitions and programs at the museum in New York—allowed a sneak peek at the construction of the exhibition environment. A few snapshots give a sense of things to come.

Encasements Waiting Encasement Application Wall Section

Left: Display cases sit below panels where they will eventually be hung. Top right: Peter Brill shows how a case front will be fitted to one of the wall panels. Above: Within the recesses of a panel, numbers encode a case's location and contents. 

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Top left: This unfinished panel will hold several of Lee Yazzie’s best-known expertly designed rings. Above: Cases have been designed to strike the perfect balance of controlled lighting and ambient light, bringing out the brilliance of the jewelry in the exhibition. Right: This case will showcase pieces in the Glittering World Gallery Store, where visitors will have the opportunity to purchase unique jewelry inspired by Navajo designs, as well as work by fine jewelers from other Native nations.


Glittering World
opens Thursday, November 13, at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, and will run until January 2016. The NMAI blog will continue to post exclusive behind-the-scenes content as the opening nears. You can also view the exhibition trailer and join the conversation with the museum on Facebook and Twitter, #GlitteringWorld. Let us know if there’s something you want to know! 

Photos by Joshua Stevens, NMAI.

Joshua Stevens is the Public Affairs specialist at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York.

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October 24, 2014

Meet Native America: Daniel S. Collins Sr., Chairman, Shinnecock Indian Nation Council of Trustees

In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native people today. —Dennis Zotigh 


Please introduce yourself with your name and title. 

Akwe, my name is Daniel S. Collins Sr., and I am the chairman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation Council of Trustees.  

Chairman Collins
Daniel S. Collins Sr., chairman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation Council of Trustees. Photo by Beverly Jensen, courtesy of the Shinnecock Indian Nation.

Can you share with us your Shinnecock name? 

My mother gave me the name Eagle Feather after birth. 

Where is your community located?

The Shinnecock Indian Reservation is adjacent to the town of Southampton, on Long Island in New York. 

Where are the Shinnecock people originally from? 

The Shinnecock are referred to as the People of the Stony Shores. I believe that the air, land, and sea represent all that our bodies are made of. The air gives life, the land is a solid and forms the body, and water is the cycling process that sustains the body. All of these elements come together along the shore.

In a vision I had back sometime, I saw the waves rolling in onto the stony shores of Shinnecock. Each time the waves would break and begin to roll back out, a man and woman would evolve from the waves onto the shore. When the waves stopped, the shores were outlined as far as the eye could see east to west with beautiful brown-skinned human beings, known today as the Shinnecock, the People of the Stony Shores. Our people were put here by the Creator and have lived and survived here since time immemorial. 

What is a significant point in history from your tribe that you would like to share? 

First contact with early settlers sailing in to Conscious Point in 1640. The loss of ten Shinnecock men in the shipwreck of the Circassian in 1876. Most recently, I would have to say, our receiving federal recognition as the 565th Indian Nation, on October 1, 2010. These are just a few historical points, which outline how we have been here and our current-day status. 

How is your tribal government set up? 

Prior to December 2013, the government structure of the Shinnecock Nation consisted of a three-man Board of Trustees. The chairman was decided based upon who received the most votes. In December of 2013, we enacted the ratified Constitution of the Nation and a new Council of Trustees was elected consisting of a seven council members: chairman, vice chairman, treasurer, council secretary, General Council secretary, sachem (male elder), and sunksqua (female elder). The new Council of Trustees afforded the Shinnecock Nation the opportunity to elect two female councilors to serve for the first time in Shinnecock history. 


Shinnecock Nation Council of Trustees 2014
The Shinnecock Indian Nation Council of Trustees, 2014. Left to right, back row: D. Taobi Silva, treasurer; Eugene Cuffee II, sachem; Bradden Smith Sr., vice chairman; Daniel S. Collins Sr., chairman, and Bryan Polite, Council of Trustees secretary. Front row: Nichol Dennis-Banks, General Council secretary; and Lucille Bosley, sunksqua. Photo by Beverly Jensen, courtesy of the Shinnecock Indian Nation.


Is there a functional, traditional entity of leadership in addition to your modern government system?
 

The sachem and sunksqua are members of the Council of Elders and provide spiritual guidance and act as peacekeepers. 

How often are elected leaders chosen? 

The last election was held in December. Until then, since 1792 the Shinnecock Nation held trustees elections every April on the first Tuesday. We are currently proposing staggered terms to ensure forward progress of the nation’s business endeavors with the newly elected and remaining trustees each year. 

How often does your tribal council meet? 

The Council of Trustees meets weekly. There is also a monthly meeting between the Council of Trustees and the General Council, which consist of all the enrolled community members. This is done to ensure community involvement and transparency. 

What responsibilities do you have as a Shinnecock leader? 

As a tribal leader, my role is to care for, defend, and protect the well being and safety of all tribal members, as well as all tribal property and assets. I'm also charged with maintaining current programs and resources while seeking additional resources that would improve upon the current process of working towards tribal self-sufficiency with no negative impact to our sovereignty. Public safety and cultural awareness are my major interests. 

How did your life experience prepare you to lead your nation? 

First and foremost, the pride of being Shinnecock has always been the strength that guided me through all I have endured growing up until the present. Having the opportunity to move around the world in my younger days allowed for me to become very diverse and open-minded. My career in the military and in both municipal and tribal law enforcement exposed me to many situations involving people from many different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs. Having held multiple leadership roles and positions throughout my entire career has grounded and prepared me well for the position to which I have been elected. 

Who inspired you as a mentor? 

I have been afforded the opportunity to work with many great leaders and mentor figures. My grandfather, Chief Thunderbird, was a great man. He loved his people and culture. He instilled the pride of Shinnecock in all of his family and tribal members. He was a forgiving man and a great educator. He maintained and expressed his passion and pride of Shinnecock through his role as ceremonial chief each year of his adult life at our annual powwow. He is my inspirational and honorable mentor. 

Are you a descendant of a historical leader? 

How do you define a historic leader—one that makes the history books? The fact that the Shinnecock people have been here on our traditional lands since time immemorial speaks to our all being descendants of great leaders. I will take this opportunity to honor my father, Avery Dennis Sr., Chief Eagle Eye, for his twenty years of service as a former tribal trustee, and to honor all who served and stood for our great nation. 

Approximately how many members are in your community? 

Total membership of the Shinnecock Indian Nation is approximately 1,600 enrolled members. 

What are the criteria to become a member? 

Criteria for enrollment are outlined in our nation’s Enrollment Ordinance adopted by the General Council, which is in line with the federal recognition process. 

Is your language still spoken on your homelands? If so, what percentage of your people would you estimate are fluent speakers? 

Our people, the Shinnecock, lost the use of our language in the early days. It was deemed inappropriate by the settlers, and our ancestors actually were punished for using our language. After thirty years of research, today we are bringing our language back through language classes, and many of our adults and children who participate are able to speak in complete sentences. It is really inspiring and represents a true testament that we are not going away. We are regaining our strength and place here in our home, the woodlands and stony shores of eastern Long Island—Shinnecock USA. 

What economic enterprises does your nation own? 

The Shinnecock Nation recently initiated the pursuit of cigarette distribution, which would benefit the community by enhancing our education and health programs. We are pursuing several other potential economic endeavors, pending General Council input and approval.  

What annual events does your community sponsor? 

Our nation holds several events annually. For most of them, we extend invitations to our relative tribal nations and local guests. Annually we celebrate a fall Thanksgiving Nunnowa Feast (on the Thursday before national Thanksgiving Day) and a spring tribal gathering referred to as June Meeting (the first Sunday of June). Our main sponsored event is our powwow. For the past 68 years, we have gathered in celebration of the life and pride of Native America. This celebration brings together representatives from over five hundred tribal nations. It takes place on Labor Day weekend on our historic Powwow Grounds. We love our powwow! 

Shinnecock Nation Powwow a
The 67th Annual Shinnecock Powwow, 2013: Members of the Board of Trustees lead the Grand Entry. From left to right: Taobi Silva, Daniel S. Collins Sr., and Eugene Cuffee II. Photo by Beverly Jensen, courtesy of the Shinnecock Indian Nation.


What other attractions are available for visitors on your land?

The Shinnecock Indian Nation is home to the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center and Museum. The museum recently opened Wikun Village—an outdoor, traditional Shinnecock village—to offer physical education and the experience of the way we lived historically. The museum is open year round and is a must-see if you ever have a chance to visit. 

How does your nation deal with the United States as a sovereign nation?

We understand that the Shinnecock Indian Nation needs to be a neighbor in good faith with the surrounding communities and states, whose friendship we embrace. The U.S. government has a trust responsibility to all Native nations, and we hold them to that. Shinnecock has always been a sovereign nation. As the 565th federally recognized tribe, we honor the government-to-government relationship that has been established with the United States. We trust that the United States will provide the resources and protections as stated in all applicable federal laws, codes, and regulations. We honor all of our Native veterans and especially those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom under the U.S. flag. 

What message would you like to share with the youth of your community? 

To our youth I say: Be proud of who you are, no matter where you are. Teach others about who you are and your culture and tradition. Have a dream and hold on to it; know that everything is possible and achievable. Respect yourself and your elders; learn from positive mentors and role models in your community and abroad. Always give back to your community by doing your part to develop the generations that follow. Always remember that you are loved and that you matter! 

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

I would like to thank you for affording me this honorable opportunity to share with you! Tabutne (thank you). 

Thank you.

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October 22, 2014

Join us for a photo-tastic weekend! Photographers Will Wilson and Larry McNeil will be in D.C. October 25 and 26

This weekend—October 25 and 26—come down to National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., to meet photographers Larry McNeil (Tlingit/Nisga’a) and Will Wilson (Diné/Bilagáana) and be a part of their new work! The museum is hosting public programs with the artists in conjuction with the exhibition Indelible: The Platinum Photographs of Larry McNeil and Will Wilson, on display in the SeaAlaska Gallery on the museum’s second floor through January 5, 2015.

Both photographers will be working collaboratively with visitors—this means you—in the Potomac Atrium on the museum’s ground floor. Here's what each artist plans to do:

On Saturday, October 25, Will Wilson brings his ongoing project Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange (CIPX) to the National Mall. Will has already taken CIPX to such museums as the Denver Art Museum and the Wheelwright in Santa Fe. In Washington, Will will use his old-fashioned 8 x 10 view camera and a 140-year-old lens to make tintype portraits of visitors to the museum. He will develop the tintypes in an outdoor darkroom adjacent to his makeshift photography studio, and he'll give each tintype to the sitter. In exchange, he asks for permission to add a scanned image of the tintype to his CIPX portrait gallery.

Will encourages his sitters to bring objects of personal significance to appear with them in their portraits. Please keep in mind that, depending on interest, there may not be time for everyone to be photographed. Will will be making photographs on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. and to 4 p.m. On Sunday, the portraits will be on display, and Will will be available to speak with visitors about his work. 

Larry McNeil will use this weekend at the museum to launch his newest project, Larry McNeil and the Art of the Digital Age. From the perspective of an indigenous photographer working in the 21st century, through photographs made with cell phones and circulated on social media sites, Larry approaches what he calls "the art of the everyday."

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Larry McNeil. © 2013 Larry McNeil

Larry's project is interactive, and he and the museum encourage everyone to participate. He is uploading his photographs to project sites he has created on Instagram and Facebook. There he invites us not only to comment on his work, but also to upload our own images. We hope those of you who can’t make it to the National Mall will take part from wherever you are. By inviting dialogue and exchange with us, Larry acknowledges the power of social media in shaping and re-shaping our understanding of photography. Larry will be at the museum on the National Mall Saturday, October 25, and Sunday, October 26, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

—Heather Shannon

Heather Shannon is photo archivist at the National Museum of the American Indian and curator of Indelible 

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October 17, 2014

The Art of the Digital Age: Sharing Photos!

By Larry McNeil

Welcome to the “Fun with Smartphones Project.” Pull out your smartphone and share your photos!

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Photographer Larry McNeil (Tlingit/Nisgaá) 

The project's formal title is “Larry McNeil and the Art of the Digital Age." The National Museum of the American Indian describes it this way:

Through the use of a camera phone and social media sites like Facebook, art photographer Larry McNeil explores the art of everyday life as perceived by a contemporary indigenous person. Presenting hundreds of his own snapshots made around Washington, D.C., and informed by his unique visual aesthetic, McNeil invites NMAI visitors—in person and virtually—to add their own commentary to his photographs and to upload their own snapshots to his Facebook page.

I’d like to make this fun and interactive, because the emphasis is having us collectively figuring out what “the art of everyday life” means to you. I have some of the sites already online, and I’ll be at the Smithsonian National Musuem of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, October 25, if you want to show up with your smartphone and smartphone photos. We could play with different ways of making photos and just see what unfolds.

At various times I’ll likely ask you to photograph something thematic and share it on the site(s). I think that this will be fun and maybe even thought provoking, but we’ll see, because this will be a group effort.

If Saturday doesn't work for you, come by on Sunday, October 26, to see how the project is taking shape.


On Facebook
just look for “Larry McNeil” to participate. Here’s what my page will look like:

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And here's the link to that Facebook page.


On Instagram
, look for “1_photographic” to participate. Here’s what the page will look like:

Instagram_mcneil 150

Link to Larry’s Instagram page.

When sharing photos on Instagram, please use the hashtag symbol #, followed by my username 1_photographic. It should look like this: #1_photographic.


If you find yourself in Washington, D.C., between now and January 5, 2015, please take the time to stop by and see our photography exhibition titled Indelible: The Platinum Photographs of Larry McNeil and Will Wilson! Can't come to Washington? Here's the on-line version


Selfies are wildly popular
on Facebook, so I decided to make one especially for this project. It’s me at the National Museum of the American Indian in D.C., and even cooler, made with a Nokia smartphone. How cool is that?

Nmai_bldgblarry 150

 

Please join us by sharing photographs. Thank you, and get those photos uploaded! All user agreements are between you and the companies, not McNeil or the Smithsonian NMAI. All McNeil is doing is organizing a place to share photographs on existing social networking sites. No legal agreements or any agreements are made with anyone with this project and no liabilities may be extended to any party. The legalese language is made between you and the user agreements at the social networking sites.

We want you to take an active part in this project. But even if you're not a photographer, please come by the museum's Potomac Atrium on the weekend of October 25 and 26 and share your thoughts, or just your curiosity. 

Sharable calendar links for the project Saturday, October 25, and Sunday, October 26.

Directions to the museum in Washington.

Larry McNeil is a photographer, artist, and scholar. He has been teaching photography since 1992, exhibits his work on a regular basis both nationally and internationally, and stays active as a scholar with research and published material. He has earned many awards for his photography and scholarship, including fellowships and purchase awards for various museum collections. 

The original version of this post appears on Larry McNeil's blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

Story and photographs copyright Larry McNeil, 2014. All rights reserved. 

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October 14, 2014

The National Archives on Treaties at the National Museum of the American Indian


This post was first published on October 10 in Prologue: Pieces of History, the blog for the National Archives' Prologue magazine. Pieces of History focuses on research into the United States' archival collections and on the educational, museum, and outreach programs of the National Archives Experience, the Foundation for the National Archives, the regional archives, affiliated archives, and Presidential libraries in 17 states around the country. The National Archives is the lender of the original treaties that will rotate on view in Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations at the National Museum of the American Indian. 


Almost 220 years ago, representatives of the United States and more than 1,600 people from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy (Six Nations—Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora) gathered together near Canandaigua, New York (the Finger Lakes region), to discuss peace and friendship.

On November 11, 1794, more than 50 chiefs and sachems, including Cornplanter and Red Jacket, signed a treaty. The treaty returned substantial tracts of land to the Haudenosaunee, which it had lost a decade earlier, but restricted the Haudenosaunee from making any further land claims for themselves. George Washington’s agent, Timothy Pickering, signed for the United States.

This fall and for the next six months, an even greater number of people will be able to see the treaty at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C. On September 21, the museum opened the exhibition Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.

Eight treaties negotiated between 1790 and 1868 between the United States and Native Nations form the core of the exhibition. The original treaties are permanently housed just across the Mall at the National Archives, and one original will be rotated into the exhibition every six months. The Canandaigua Treaty, which has never before been exhibited, will be shown for the first six months. 

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From left: Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Oren Lyons; Tadodaho of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chief Sidney Hill; Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee), guest curator of the “Nation to Nation” exhibition; Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian; and Jim Gardner, Executive for Legislative Archives, Presidential Programs, and Museum Programs at the National Archives, welcome the Treaty of Canandaigua to the museum. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian) 


At least two original treaties were prepared and signed at Canandaigua. The Haudenosaunee original is kept at the Ontario Historical Society and displayed on Treaty Day every year. The United States original was brought back to Philadelphia, the U.S. capital at that time. Previously, President Washington had established the precedent of handling agreements with Indian nations in the same way as those with any foreign nation; such agreements were therefore subject to the ratification requirements laid out in the Constitution.

The President sent the agreements to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent, and on January 9, 1795, the Senate gave its approval. The President proceeded to ratify the treaty 12 days later. To signify ratification, two separate pieces of parchment were attached to the existing treaty (also on parchment), the latter reading in part:

Now, Know Ye, that I having seen and considered the said treaty do by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States accept ratify and confirm the same and every article and clause thereof. In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the United States to be here unto affixed and signed the same with my hand.

The Secretary of State, Edmund Randolph, signed as witness, and a paper wafer of the Great Seal of the United States was applied next to Washington’s signature.

Earlier, under the Articles of Confederation and the Confederation Congress, the national government had had great difficulty in setting a stable and effective Indian policy. In 1789, as the United States Government struggled to get on its feet with the new Constitution, George Washington’s Secretary of War Henry Knox wrote in a report:

The Indians, being the prior occupants, possess the right of the soil. It cannot be taken from them unless by their free consent, or by the right of conquest in case of a just war. To dispossess them on any other principle, would be a gross violation of the fundamental laws of nature, and of that distributive justice which is the glory of a nation.

A few years later, Washington himself was sympathetic in his expressed policy toward treatment of Indians in a letter to his Attorney General, Edmund Randolph:

It is my wish and desire that you would examine the Laws of the General Government which have relation to Indian affairs, that is, for the purpose of securing their lands to them; Restraining States or Individuals from purchasing their lands, and forbidding unauthorized intercourse in their dealing with them. And moreover, that you would suggest such auxiliary Laws as will supply the defects of those which are in being, thereby enabling the Executive to enforce obedience.

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Letter from George Washington to Edmund Randolph, October 10, 1791 (General Records of the Department of State. RG 59)


Sadly, Washington’s policy was soon overwhelmed after the Louisiana Purchase Treaty in 1803, followed by Manifest Destiny, multiple wars, and Indian removal to reservations in the west under Andrew Jackson beginning the 1830s. 

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Andrew Jackson’s message to Congress, December 6, 1830 (Records of the United States Senate, RG 46)

 

Nation to Nation will feature these original treaties:

September 2014–February 2015: Treaty of Canandaigua, 1794

March 2015–August 2015: Muscogee Treaty, 1790

September 2015–February 2016: Horse Creek Treaty, 1851

March 2016–August 2016: Treaty with the Potawatomi, 1836

September 2016–January 2017: Unratified California Treaty K, 1852

February 2017–July 2017: Medicine Creek Treaty, 1854

August 2017–January 2018: Treaty with the Potawatomi, 1809

February 2018–July 2018: Treaty with the Navajo Nation, 1868

August 2018–September 2018: Treaty with the Lenape (Delaware) Nation, 1778


In the National Archives, there are a total of 367 ratified treaties between the United States and various Native American nations. In the same series are handwritten and printed copies of treaties reached with one or more American colonies between 1722 and 1768. The treaties were kept at the Department of State until they were transferred to the National Archives in the late 1930s. 

Originally published on October 10, 2014.

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October 10, 2014

Meet Native America: James Roger Madalena (Jemez Pueblo), New Mexico State Representative

In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native people today. —Dennis Zotigh 

James Roger Madalena 1
New Mexico State Representative James Roger Madalena, New Mexico Legislature. Photo courtesy of the New Mexico Legislature.

Please introduce yourself with your name and title. 

James Roger Madalena, State Representative, New Mexico Legislature.

What is your Native community?

I'm from Jemez Pueblo. It's tribal name is Walatowa, which means Place of Peace.

Where is your community located? 

In central New Mexico, 50 miles northwest of Albuquerque.

Where was your community originally from? 

We were from northwest New Mexico, in the Mesa Verde Area and Chaco Canyon Area.

What is a significant point in history from your people that you would like to share? 

It's the loss of our aboriginal acreage. Under both the Spanish and American governments, our lands of more than 200,000 acres of mountains, meadows, streams were reduced to a mere 98,000 acres of dry, rolling hills of sand, sagebrush, and cedar.

How is your Native community government set up? Is there a functional, traditional entity of leadership in addition to your modern government system?

We have two branches: One is the Secular Branch, where the governor, lieutenant governor(s), tribal sheriff, and their five aides deal with day-to-day outside issues. We also have the Traditional Branch, where our war captain, lieutenant war captain, and their five aides deal with traditional activities and functions. Our fiscale, lieutenant fiscale, and their five aides deal with Christian church issues, deaths and burials, and some other traditional issues.

How are leaders chosen? 

We are a non-constitutional tribe—our leaders are appointed annually by our highest traditional leaders. All the positions mentioned above are appointed.

How often does your Tribal Council meet? 

Our Tribal Council meets at least once a month; our Traditional Branch Council meets once a year at year-end to make appointments for leadership. 

What responsibilities do you have as a state representative? 

I represent the interest of seven pueblos in Sandoval County; two Navajo Nation chapters in Sandoval County as well; the Jicarilla Nation in Rio Arriba County; and two Navajo chapters in San Juan County. Sixty-eight to 70 percent of my constituents are Native; the remaining 30 percent are a mixture of Anglo, Hispanic, and other.

How did your life experience prepare you to lead your community? 

Having good, responsible parents is first. I had a personal interest in education and opted out of trade school to get a college degree in sociology and political Science.

Who inspired you as a mentor? 

My only mentors were my grandpa Joe Madalena and my dad, Frank Madalena. The rest of my motivation was my interest in the fields of politics and sociology.

Are you a descendant of a historical leader? 

No, I am not.

Approximately how many members are in the Pueblo of Jemez? 

Enrolled membership is over 3,000 people. Half of those citizens reside within the pueblo; the other half are scattered. 

What are the criteria to become a member of your Native community? 

A person must have one-quarter Towa Indian blood.

Is your language still spoken on your homelands? If so, what percentage of your people would you estimate are fluent speakers? 

I'm proud to say that the Towa language is strong, and our youth are being taught the language at an early age within their homes as well as in Head Start

Walatowa Visitor Center
The Walatowa Visitor Center and Museum of History and Culture offers information on Towa life and traditions, tours of the Jemez Red Rocks, and works by contemporary Jemez artists. Photo courtesy of the Walatowa Visitor Center.

What economic enterprises does your Native community own? 

Location being location, Jemez Pueblo only has a small convenience store and gas station. There is also the Walatowa Visitors Center, and tourists do stop by to see our small museum and handicrafts.

What annual events does your Native community sponsor? 

During warm months, the pueblo will sponsor the Jemez Red Rocks Arts and Crafts Fair; and there is a Veterans Social on Veterans Day.

What attractions are available for visitors on your land? 

New Mexico State Road 4, which passes through the pueblo, is a recognized National Scenic Byway heading north to our traditional mountains where there is fishing, camping, hiking, hunting, and picnicking in campgrounds. Our most traditional site is Redondo Peak and the Valles Caldera, and visitors can enjoy seeing hundreds and thousands of elk and deer as they come down from higher elevations to feed by the stream in the evenings.

Along NM Rt 4
Cottonwoods turn yellow in October along New Mexico State Road 4, a National Scenic Byway that leads to the mountains north of Jemez Pueblo. Photo courtesy of the Walatowa Visitor Center.


How does your Native community deal with the U.S. as a sovereign nation? 

Jemez Pueblo has a government-to-government relationship contracting most programs under PL 93-638. The Pueblo knows its needs better than someone up the bureaucratic level.

What message would you like to share with the youth of your Native community? 

As Natives, partake of community dances and ceremonials. Practice and strengthen your minds and bodies from your surroundings. 

As Native youth, you also need to involve yourselves in civic and political functions. Once you are in the process, study and learn your colleagues' behaviors on issues, how people react and how they handle themselves through trial and stress. Learn how people handle themselves in forums, gatherings, and formal settings. Learn from them by being calm and collected and patient. Such is growth and success in the long run.

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Just a few words of thanks and appreciation for an opportunity convey my 40 years in the field of politics. New Mexico is one of only two or three states governed by a citizens’ legislature. We are not salaried, and my whole life has been dedicated to public service. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I am proud to have been of service to the most neglected and needy—our Native American population—and to have done so without being an insurgent and or radical. 

Thank you. 

To read other interviews in this series, click on the banner below. Meet-native-america
From left to right: Representative Ponka-We Victors (Tohono O’odham/Southern Ponca) taking the oath of office in the Kansas House of Representatives; photo courtesy of Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache) at the Sundance Film Festival; photo courtesy of WireImage. Sergeant Debra Mooney (Choctaw) at the powwow in Al Taqaddum Air Force Base, Iraq, 2004; photo courtesy of Sgt. Debra Mooney. Councilman Jonathan Perry (Wampanoag) in traditional clothing; photo courtesy of Jonathan Perry. Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee) at Blackhorse et al. v. Pro Football, Inc., press conference, U.S. Patent and Trade Office, February 7, 2013; photo courtesy of Mary Phillips. All photos used with permission. 

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As Natives, partake of community dances and ceremonials. Practice and strengthen your minds and bodies from your surroundings.

nice post

 
 
 
 

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