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June 08, 2012

Indian Country in the News: June 1 - June 8, 2012

This week's news highlights include funding troubles for a controversial dam in Chile that indigenous environmentalists argue will destroy the Patagonia region; an investigation into tribal payday lending practices; reparations for Native American victims of 20th-century eugenics policies in North Carolina; and the continuing controversy over Massachusetts politician Elizabeth Warren's heritage claims: 

  • BBC: Chilean power firm Colbun puts project on ice - "One of the two firms planning to build the giant HidroAysen dam in Chilean Patagonia has frozen the project, citing lack of government backing. Colbun said there was no point continuing with the planning stage for the project's transmission line unless Chile's government came up with an energy strategy that had wide support. Protestors argue that the scheme will destroy a valuable natural environment. The dams are intended to provide a third of Chile's electricity."
  • Bloomberg: Payday Lenders and Indian Tribes Evading Laws Draw Scrutiny - "U.S. regulators and Congress are scrutinizing partnerships between Native Americans and outside investors in online payday lending businesses accused of exploiting tribal sovereignty to evade state consumer-protection laws. The push has divided Native American groups, with critics of payday lending opposing tribal involvement in the businesses, which charge interest rates as high as 521 percent for short- term loans. Other Indian groups, formed to represent the nascent industry in Washington, are pushing back against the regulators."
  • ICT: Preemptive Genocide: Only Now Are Reparations Being Made to Eugenics Victims - "When North Carolina announced earlier this year that it intends to be the first state to compensate victims of decades-ago sterilization programs, it renewed a nationwide debate over the need to acknowledge and amend the travesties of similar programs in other states. Tens of thousands of women, men and even children were sterilized from the early 1900s through the middle part of the century. Often, the victims were misled about the treatments they were undergoing; sometimes they were pressured or even forced to cooperate. Most had been deemed unfit to reproduce, often because they weren’t white and sometimes because they were ruled mentally inferior. The programs all were justified by eugenics policies meant to improve the gene pool."

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June 06, 2012

This Day in the Maya Calendar (Summer 2012)

Cholq'ij, the Maya sacred ceremonial calendar of 260 days—a cycle of 20 Day deities and 13 numbers—is the basis of the Maya spirituality that survives to this time, practiced daily among millions of Maya people, in thousands of communities. The interpretation of the days can vary from one Maya people to another. The interpretations given here are based on sustained conversations and participation over three decades with Maya Q'eqchi calendar priest Roderico Teni and daykeeping families in the area of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, by Jose Barreiro (Taíno), head of NMAI’s Office of Latin America, and his wife, Katsi Cook (Mohawk). The glyphs representing the Day lords were painted by Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya).

For more background to this series, please see Jose's introduction, "Living in the Practice." For further insight into the role of the Day lords in everyday life, please see the Maya Journal. For the complete year so far, please see the Maya calendar archive. 

Illustrations: Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya), calendar glyphs. Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala; 2003. Paint on wood. Purchased from the artist. 26/2685. Photo by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI. Glyphs representing the Day lords appear throughout Maya Country. 

13 Kawoq  |  Wednesday, August 22, 2012 

262685_KawoqCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Kawoq. Kawoq is Turtle, also Sky Serpent; 13 is the highest turbulence. Kawoq is a high woman day—a day of duality in all of nature and a guardian of contentment. It is the day of woman and man, lightning and thunder, fecundity and imagination; a day of midwives; a day of prayer for unity within the home, strength within the family, renewed strength for convalescents, and the smoothing of all irritation. This is a good day to turn bad medicine back on itself. Kawoq attends to young women in pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and to full realization for all women; it is a day of their sash. Kawoq is also a good day to commemorate the Staff of Authority, a good day for the men of a family and community to pray for the coffers (good fortune) of the women and for the protection of the home. Good midwives, writers, and architects are born on this day. —Jose Barreiro

12 Tijax  |  Tuesday, August 21, 2012 

262685_TijaxCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 12 Tijax. Tijax is Fish, also Obsidian; 12 is the highest balance. Tijax is a day of doctors, good to pray for surgeons and all medical practitioners; a day of sacrifice and liberation from suffering; a day of sharp, cutting objects, of knives and scalpels and scissors. Tijax is a safeguard for domestic animals against predators, a good day to pray for all animals that are sacrificed, both in ceremony and in everyday life. Tijax is a good day to use metal (a machete, scissors) to "open the sky"—to solicit rain, solicit life, split black clouds. Gossip, calumny, and sorcery, on money and sexual matters, can be overcome on this day; on a high-number day, disputes can turn public and become debilitating. Tijax is a good day for seasoned masters to fortify daykeeping trainees against ridicule by envious countrymen or evangelicos. It is not a good day to plant. —J. B. 

11 Noj  |  Monday, August 20, 2012 

262685_NojCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 11 Noj. Noj is Woodpecker; 11 is high turbulence. Noj is a woman's highest intelligence. Maya knowledge and wisdom live in this day—good science to support positive deeds, good projects, good business, a good home. On Noj good ideas are available through the intelligence connected to the movement of the earth. Boys born on this day have important female qualities and can be attentive to the knowledge of nature, which rules all. Girls born on this day can be clear leaders. This is a good day to hear advice and make decisions, a good day to feed the mind, recognize curiosity, and strengthen memory. Noj is one of the four Yearbearers. —J. B. 

10 Ajmac  |  Sunday, August 19, 2012 

262685_AjmacCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 10 Ajmac. Ajmac is Bee, also Vulture; 10 is a high balance. On Ajmac ancestor spirits can detect and smooth the thread of time in our lives. Prudence, intelligence, ancient wisdom are in this day. This is a day to plead forgiveness for serious faults and to be judged. It is a day that demands moral rectitude, respect, and sincere analysis. On this day our faults (stains) must be faced and paid for; humble request for pity is encouraged. Ajmac is a propitious day for the women of a household to make peace with one another after conflict, to apologize for sharp words; it is a  good day to pray for smooth relationships and the renewal of agreements among women. Hard luck can face those born on Ajmac. —J. B. 

9 Tz'ikin  |  Saturday, August 18, 2012 

262685_Tz'ikinCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 9 Tz'ikin. Tz'ikin is Bird, best represented by the Hummingbird, also the Quetzal and Eagle; 9 is a triple rotor. Tz'ikin carries messages between the Heart of Earth and the Heart of Sky. Cold, heat, light, air, cloud are its elements. Love, intuition, precognition are strong in those born on this day. Tz'ikin is a good day for humans to follow birds to the corn—to find good material luck. This is a good day to ask for revelation and intelligence, for vision, and for abundance; a good day to ask for collaboration in projects or for personal freedom. On this day, women have the privilege to ask for their husbands and sons to triple the family money. —J. B. 

8 I'x  |  Friday, August 17, 2012 

262685_I'xCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 8 I'x. I'x is Jaguar; 8 is a double balance. I'x is woman's energy day. This is a day to connect with your own land and to pray for its original owners; to pray for and appreciate your house; to pray for the finances to buy and sustain land; to ask for fertility in humans and animals; to request vigor and strength for reproductive organs, particularly female. I'x is a good day to pray to the mountains in favor of the land. It is a good day for a woman to request strength in her husband's commitment to matrimonial stability. People born on I'x have a close relationship to el Mundo and receive good access to precious metals. I'x is a good day for solitude and meditation. J. B. 

7 Aj  |  Thursday, August 16, 2012 

262685_AjCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 7 Aj. Aj is Cane Reed; 7 is a pivotal number. Aj begins the women's cycle, sentiments of family and home, the spinal cord. Aj is life and receives life. This is a day of resurgence and renewal, as in the reed and the corn; a day for the triumph of good over evil, life over death; a day of happiness, renewal of food, money, the heart of life. People born on this day renew their communities; they are sickly as children and sturdy as adults; they are especially lucky; they are good awakeners of their families and communities; they make good midwives. Aj is a good day to ask for clarity of destiny, a good day to pray for the protection of your life and of the newborn, a good day to pray for twins, a good day to pray for humanity. J. B. 

6 Eh  |  Wednesday, August 15, 2012 

262685_EhCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 6 Eh. Eh is Bobcat, also the Path and the Tooth; 6 is a middle, even number. Eh can orient individuals, groups, or communities to their destiny. Eh is the day to ask for protection from dangers and obstructions during travels—specifically, that on your road the attention of thieves or highway police or border inspectors will be deviated from your trajectory. Solitude is in Eh, light rain, kindness, alignment. People born on this day can be good counselors, spiritual guides with the gift of prayer to Ajaw (Creator) on the destiny of things. Also, good dentists are born on this day. Eh is one of the four pillars of the 20 days, a Yearbearer—a strong, especially sacred day. A prayer started in Batz can be carried by Eh through the full cycle of 20 days. J. B.  

5 Batz  |  Tuesday, August 14, 2012 

262685_BatzCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 5 Batz. Batz is Monkey; 5 is one hand. Monkey braid, monkey fingers, monkey tail, Batz is the grasp of the monkey's hand so tight and braided the fist will not let go, even in death. Batz is a good day for beginnings, and for some Maya daykeepers, Batz begins the 20-day calendar. Batz is unity, a good day to tie things together, a good day for a marriage or to start a construction, a good day for initiation into the ways. Batz is the thread of Time that rolls out from under the earth, weaving life until cut, weaving Time into History. People born on Batz are calm and self-confident; they make good spiritual guides and leaders, and good-hearted architects. —J. B. 

4 Tzi  |  Monday, August 13, 2012 

262685_TziCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 4 Tzi. Tzi is the Canine, the guardian; 4 is a balance. Dog, Wolf, Coyote, Tzi can be snarly, terrifying the unprepared with his bark and his bite. Tzi people are zealous to guard the sacredness of ceremony, to identify and punish "intruders," those not disciplined to participate. Benevolent to friends and fierce to enemies, Tzi is steady to reward or punish. Tzi will punish those who disrespect the Days and the spirit of the family. This is a good day to ask for mystic insight for leaders so that they can seek and discover hidden things, so that they can be just. Tzi has strong sexual energy, hard to restrain. When this energy is defined, people born on Tzi make loyal friends, husbands, and wives. J. B.  

3 Toj  |  Sunday, August 12, 2012

262685_TojCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 3 Toj. Toj is the mystic Fish—the tear of jade and the drops of rain, water falling; 3 is a rotor. Toj is a day of making even, a good day to pay spiritual and financial debts and to collect what you are owed. This is a day of evenness for a family, a good day for parents to pay the family's debt to el Mundo, good for the oldest son to appreciate the father and the father to appreciate the mountain. Illness can be deviated from the family by making a ceremonial offering on this day. —J. B. 

2 Anil  |  Saturday, August 11, 2012 

262685_AnilCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 2 Anil. Anil is the fertility in the seed; Anil is Rabbit; 2 is duality. Anil is red, white, yellow, black—the four colors of corn, the seed of life that is the unity of the world. Anil is renewal after death, regeneration of the earth. Anil people are four-directions people and can be good travelers. This is a day of coming back, a day to generate and appreciate abundance, a day of declaring love to create a new relationship, a day to announce the wish to do business, a day of finding lost things, a day to ask for help in overcoming shyness. —J. B.  

1 Kiej  |  Friday, August 10, 2012 

262685_Kiej

Corresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 1 Kiej. Kiej is the Deer; 1 is the beginning. Kiej is the four directions, four hoofs striking the earth at once, the quaternity of the cosmos linked to prayer, highest aviso to el Mundo—the living world. Kiej is the staff of authority, keen energy of a chief to detect danger, perception of the leader buck, his horns. Kiej is a good day to pray for mental and physical agility, a day of agile travelers and good communicators. It is a day also to ask for clarity before gossip and ill intentions. A major gift of nature, Kiej holds indefatigable energy. He is one of the four main carriers of time. —J. B.  

13 Kame  |  Thursday, August 9, 2012 

262685_KameCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Kame. Kame is the Owl and the recognition of death; 13 is the highest turbulence. A day that recalls the night, tranquility, and silence, Kame is a good day to ask for the ancient and recent ancestors who have gone on, to thank them, and to remember them with purpose. This is an appropriate day to extend reconciliation, to feel and give forgiveness, to develop patience, to invoke against mortal illnesses, to access superior knowledge. Without fear, it is a good day to approach the spiritual dimension, "the enchantment." —J. B. 

12 Kan  |  Wednesday, August 8, 2012 

262685_KanCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 12 Kan. Kan is the Snake; 12 is the highest balance. Kan is the ancient origin—Gucumatz, the Plumed Serpent. This is a day of strict and impartial justice, a day of definition and maturity, and a good day to offer respect and to thank the corn. On Kan, matters of justice, judges, and courts can be cleared up. This is a good day to pray that truth and justice manifest in the Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth; a good day to put aside jealousies and request equilibrium in life and in the family. It is a day to ask for physical strength and patience, to contemplate our spiritual evolution, and to rekindle the internal fire. —J. B. 

11 Kat  |  Tuesday, August 7, 2012 

262685_KatCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 11 Kat. Kat is Spider, also Web and Fire; 11 is high turbulence. On Kat, the unity of the people is paramount, and knowledge is deepened. Kat is the network of the sacred heart, the family hearth. Today is a good day to pray for your family fireplace, the spirit of the fire that belongs in the home, the one that calls other spirits to ceremony and speaks for them. Kat is the net that hauls in the fish and the net that holds the ears of corn, a day that can bring the fruition of things and the untangling of complications. This is a good day to help free prisoners from captivity, to request vigor and power for the weak. —J. B. 

10 Aqbal  |  Monday, August 6, 2012 

262685_Aqbal

Corresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 10 Aqbal. Aqbal is the Dawn, also Bat; 10 is a high balance. Aqbal is clarity, the separation of darkness and light as the Sun disperses the fog and obscurity of night. This is a good day to ask for a peaceful and happy daybreak, a day to find hidden and lost things, a day to wash away tears of sadness. On Aqbal, the sacred fire is recognized and appreciated. Aqbal is a good day to clean the ashes (renew the heart) of a fireplace and to present a new baby to el Mundo. A potential bride or groom can be revealed on this day. Harvesting of corn can begin on this day. 

People born on Aqbal relate in the present and are a special link between past and future. They are early risers, good workers, tranquil and kind, strong before an enemy, good researchers and finders of hidden things, often called "the candle of the home." —J. B. 

9 Iq  |  Sunday, August 5, 2012 

262685_Iq

Corresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 9 Iq. Iq is Wind, also Moon; 9 is a triple rotor. Wind is powerful, violent, driven of itself, identity. A day of strong emotion, Iq is also a healing day. Good wind is nutritional for human minds; it is the mystic breath and vital inspiration of nature. On Iq, a breeze or wind that splits against your face is a blessing and a cleansing to purge your head and body of illness. Respiratory ills are prayed over on this day. 

This is a good day to appreciate all of Creation. The Day lord Iq is one of the four Yearbearers, or mams, a creator who helped finish the world and put breath (essence) in human beings. People born on Iq are inclined toward spiritual ways and can impulsively tap into cosmic sources. —J. B. 

8 Imox  |  Saturday, August 4, 2012 

262685_ImoxCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 8 Imox. Imox is Lizard; 8 is a double balance. Imox is the very force of gravity and a good day to pray for creativity and for rain. Imox can open el Mundo to receive cosmic messages. Known as a "crazy" day, Imox requires much concentration and control. A day of high male intelligence, also impatience and agitation, Imox can be difficult. Grounded on its left side, left arm, this day is easily unbalanced and in need of clasping left and right hands. Imox can be good if held in the balance of the Heart of Sky and Heart of Earth; unattended, Imox can manifest imbalance, mental nervousness, and even death. People born on Imox are open and sincere, but indecisive—in need of ceremony to set the positive to override the negative. —J. B.  

7 Ajpu  |  Friday, August 3, 2012 

262685_Ajpu

Corresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 7 Ajpu. Ajpu is Caracol, Spiral Shell; 7 is a pivotal number. Ajpu is the Sun, captain of Time, a day of personal strength and for good to triumph over evil. Ajpu, who cares for boys and guides men, begins the men's cycle. This is a day to connect with the ancestors, who can reward and punish. Death is reachable and amenable; spirits can ask permission to enter el Mundo, the living world. Day of the warrior and blowgun hunter (cerbatanero), Ajpu is the strong blow of the dart that hits its target, a good day to pray for stealth or for a break in enemy lines. Ajpu is also a good day to start building on a house, a good day to make prayers for women and for success in lactation.

The Hero Twin Jun Ajpu Ixbalanke defeated the Xibalbas and fooled them into accepting the offering of copal rather than a human heart. In near and remote ways, this character and this episode from the book of the Maya ancients endure as backdrop to the day Ajpu. —J. B.  

6 Kawoq  |  Thursday, August 2, 2012 

262685_KawoqCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 6 Kawoq. Kawoq is Turtle, also Sky Serpent; 6 is a middle, even number. Kawoq is a high woman day—a day of duality in all of nature and a guardian of contentment. It is the day of woman and man, lightning and thunder, fecundity and imagination; a day of midwives; a day of prayer for unity within the home, strength within the family, renewed strength for convalescents, and the smoothing of all irritation. This is a good day to turn bad medicine back on itself. Kawoq attends to young women in pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and to full realization for all women; it is a day of their sash. Kawoq is also a good day to commemorate the Staff of Authority, a good day for the men of a family and community to pray for the coffers (good fortune) of the women and for the protection of the home. Good midwives, writers, and architects are born on this day. —J. B. 

5 Tijax  |  Wednesday, August 1, 2012 

262685_TijaxCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 5 Tijax. Tijax is Fish, also Obsidian; 5 is one hand. Tijax is a day of doctors, good to pray for surgeons and all medical practitioners; a day of sacrifice and liberation from suffering; a day of sharp, cutting objects, of knives and scalpels and scissors. Tijax is a safeguard for domestic animals against predators, a good day to pray for all animals that are sacrificed, both in ceremony and in everyday life. Tijax is a good day to use metal (a machete, scissors) to "open the sky"—to solicit rain, solicit life, split black clouds. Gossip, calumny, and sorcery, on money and sexual matters, can be overcome on this day; on a high-number day, disputes can turn public and become debilitating. Tijax is a good day for seasoned masters to fortify daykeeping trainees against ridicule by envious countrymen or evangelicos. It is not a good day to plant. —J. B. 

4 Noj  |  Tuesday, July 31, 2012 

262685_NojCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 4 Noj. Noj is Woodpecker; 4 is a balance. Noj is a woman's highest intelligence. Maya knowledge and wisdom live in this day—good science to support positive deeds, good projects, good business, a good home. On Noj good ideas are available through the intelligence connected to the movement of the earth. Boys born on this day have important female qualities and can be attentive to the knowledge of nature, which rules all. Girls born on this day can be clear leaders. This is a good day to hear advice and make decisions, a good day to feed the mind, recognize curiosity, and strengthen memory. Noj is one of the four Yearbearers. —J. B.  

3 Ajmac  |  Monday, July 30, 2012 

262685_AjmacCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 3 Ajmac. Ajmac is Bee, also Vulture; 3 is a rotor. On Ajmac ancestor spirits can detect and smooth the thread of time in our lives. Prudence, intelligence, ancient wisdom are in this day. This is a day to plead forgiveness for serious faults and to be judged. It is a day that demands moral rectitude, respect, and sincere analysis. On this day our faults (stains) must be faced and paid for; humble request for pity is encouraged. Ajmac is a propitious day for the women of a household to make peace with one another after conflict, to apologize for sharp words; it is a  good day to pray for smooth relationships and the renewal of agreements among women. Hard luck can face those born on Ajmac. —J. B. 

2 Tz'ikin  |  Sunday, July 29, 2012 

262685_Tz'ikinCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 2 Tz'ikin. Tz'ikin is Bird, best represented by the Hummingbird, also the Quetzal and Eagle; 2 is duality. Tz'ikin carries messages between the Heart of Earth and the Heart of Sky. Cold, heat, light, air, cloud are its elements. Love, intuition, precognition are strong in those born on this day. Tz'ikin is a good day for humans to follow birds to the corn—to find good material luck. This is a good day to ask for revelation and intelligence, for vision, and for abundance; a good day to ask for collaboration in projects or for personal freedom. On this day, women have the privilege to ask for their husbands and sons to triple the family money. —J. B.

1 I'x  |  Saturday, July 28, 2012 

262685_I'xCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 1 I'x. I'x is Jaguar; 1 is the beginning. I'x is woman's energy day. This is a day to connect with your own land and to pray for its original owners; to pray for and appreciate your house; to pray for the finances to buy and sustain land; to ask for fertility in humans and animals; to request vigor and strength for reproductive organs, particularly female. I'x is a good day to pray to the mountains in favor of the land. It is a good day for a woman to request strength in her husband's commitment to matrimonial stability. People born on I'x have a close relationship to el Mundo and receive good access to precious metals. I'x is a good day for solitude and meditation. —J. B. 

13 Aj  |  Friday, July 27, 2012 

262685_AjCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Aj. Aj is Cane Reed; 13 is the highest turbulence. Aj begins the women's cycle, sentiments of family and home, the spinal cord. Aj is life and receives life. This is a day of resurgence and renewal, as in the reed and the corn; a day for the triumph of good over evil, life over death; a day of happiness, renewal of food, money, the heart of life. People born on this day renew their communities; they are sickly as children and sturdy as adults; they are especially lucky; they are good awakeners of their families and communities; they make good midwives. Aj is a good day to ask for clarity of destiny, a good day to pray for the protection of your life and of the newborn, a good day to pray for twins, a good day to pray for humanity. —J. B. 

12 Eh  |   Thursday, July 26, 2012 

262685_EhCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 12 Eh. Eh is Bobcat, also the Path and the Tooth; 12 is the highest balance. Eh can orient individuals, groups, or communities to their destiny. Eh is the day to ask for protection from dangers and obstructions during travels—specifically, that on your road the attention of thieves or highway police or border inspectors will be deviated from your trajectory. Solitude is in Eh, light rain, kindness, alignment. People born on this day can be good counselors, spiritual guides with the gift of prayer to Ajaw (Creator) on the destiny of things. Also, good dentists are born on this day. Eh is one of the four pillars of the 20 days, a Yearbearer—a strong, especially sacred day. A prayer started in Batz can be carried by Eh through the full cycle of 20 days. J. B.

11 Batz  |  Wednesday, July 25, 2012 

262685_BatzCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 11 Batz. Batz is Monkey; 11 is high turbulence. Monkey braid, monkey fingers, monkey tail, Batz is the grasp of the monkey's hand so tight and braided the fist will not let go, even in death. Batz is a good day for beginnings, and for some Maya daykeepers, Batz begins the 20-day calendar. Batz is unity, a good day to tie things together, a good day for a marriage or to start a construction, a good day for initiation into the ways. Batz is the thread of Time that rolls out from under the earth, weaving life until cut, weaving Time into History. People born on Batz are calm and self-confident; they make good spiritual guides and leaders, and good-hearted architects. —J. B. 

10 Tzi  |  Tuesday, July 24, 2012 

262685_TziCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 10 Tzi. Tzi is the Canine, the guardian; 10 is a high balance. Dog, Wolf, Coyote, Tzi can be snarly, terrifying the unprepared with his bark and his bite. Tzi people are zealous to guard the sacredness of ceremony, to identify and punish "intruders," those not disciplined to participate. Benevolent to friends and fierce to enemies, Tzi is steady to reward or punish. Tzi will punish those who disrespect the Days and the spirit of the family. This is a good day to ask for mystic insight for leaders so that they can seek and discover hidden things, so that they can be just. Tzi has strong sexual energy, hard to restrain. When this energy is defined, people born on Tzi make loyal friends, husbands, and wives. J. B.

9 Toj  |  Monday, July 23, 2012 

262685_TojCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 9 Toj. Toj is the mystic Fish—the tear of jade and the drops of rain, water falling; 9 is a triple rotor. Toj is a day of making even, a good day to pay spiritual and financial debts and to collect what you are owed. This is a day of evenness for a family, a good day for parents to pay the family's debt to el Mundo, good for the oldest son to appreciate the father and the father to appreciate the mountain. Illness can be deviated from the family by making a ceremonial offering on this day. J. B.

8 Anil  |  Sunday, July 22, 2012 

262685_AnilCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 8 Anil. Anil is the fertility in the seed; Anil is Rabbit; 8 is a double balance. Anil is red, white, yellow, black—the four colors of corn, the seed of life that is the unity of the world. Anil is renewal after death, regeneration of the earth. Anil people are four-directions people and can be good travelers. This is a day of coming back, a day to generate and appreciate abundance, a day of declaring love to create a new relationship, a day to announce the wish to do business, a day of finding lost things, a day to ask for help in overcoming shyness. —J. B. 

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This Day in the Maya Calendar (Spring 2012)

Cholq'ij, the Maya sacred ceremonial calendar of 260 days—a cycle of 20 Day deities and 13 numbers—is the basis of the Maya spirituality that survives to this time, practiced daily among millions of Maya people, in thousands of communities. The interpretation of the days can vary from one Maya people to another. The interpretations given here are based on sustained conversations and participation over three decades with Maya Q'eqchi calendar priest Roderico Teni and daykeeping families in the area of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, by Jose Barreiro (Taíno), head of NMAI’s Office of Latin America, and his wife, Katsi Cook (Mohawk). The glyphs representing the Day lords were painted by Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya).

For more background to this series, please see Jose's introduction, "Living in the Practice." For further insight into the role of the Day lords in everyday life, please see the Maya Journal. For the complete year so far, please see the Maya calendar archive. 

Illustrations: Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya), calendar glyphs. Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala; 2003. Paint on wood. Purchased from the artist. 26/2685. Photo by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI. Glyphs representing the Day lords appear throughout Maya Country. 

13 Imox  |  Tuesday, June 5, 2012

262685_ImoxCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Imox. Imox is Lizard; 13 is the highest energy. Imox is the very force of gravity and a good day to pray for creativity and for rain. Imox can open el Mundo to receive cosmic messages. Known as a "crazy" day, Imox requires much concentration and control. A day of high male intelligence, also impatience and agitation, Imox can be difficult. Grounded on its left side, left arm, this day is easily unbalanced and in need of clasping left and right hands. Imox can be good if held in the balance of the Heart of Sky and Heart of Earth; unattended, Imox can manifest imbalance, mental nervousness, and even death. People born on Imox are open and sincere, but indecisive—in need of ceremony to set the positive to override the negative. —J. B. 

12 Ajpu  |  Monday, June 4, 2012

262685_AjpuCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 12 Ajpu. Ajpu is Caracol, Spiral Shell; 12 is the highest balance. Ajpu is the Sun, captain of Time, a day of personal strength and for good to triumph over evil. Ajpu, who cares for the boys and guides men, begins the men's cycle. This is a day to connect with the ancestors, who can reward and punish. Death is reachable and amenable; spirits can ask permission to enter el Mundo, the living world. Day of the warrior and blowgun hunter (cerbatanero), Ajpu is the strong blow of the dart that hits its target, a good day to pray for stealth or for a break in enemy lines. Ajpu is also a good day to start building on a house, a good day to make prayers for women and for success in lactation.

The Hero Twin Jun Ajpu Ixbalanke defeated the Xibalbas and fooled them into accepting the offering of copal rather than a human heart. In near and remote ways, this character and this episode from the book of the Maya ancients endure as backdrop to the day Ajpu. J. B. 

Continue reading "This Day in the Maya Calendar (Spring 2012)" »

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June 05, 2012

Inspiration from Alaska

IMG092                    NMAI Cultural Interpreter Rachael Cassidy (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) poses with a group of visitors from Alaska outside the museum. (Photo courtesy of Rachael Cassidy)

On Sunday I had the opportunity to give a tour to nine amazing students from Alaska, with a teacher and cameraman in tow. The Yupik kids are from a small island with a total population of 50 people. This was their third time off the island. After fundraising for three years, they finally had enough money to take their trip to Washington, D.C. The National Museum of the American Indian was at the top of their list of sites to see.

As a Cultural Interpreter, I have given tours to people from all walks of life. This includes kindergarteners and diplomats. I have given thousands of tours, but I will never forget my time with these amazing young people. Their bright, inquisitive eyes darted over exhibits and back to me, soaking up the experience like thirsty, happy sponges. Most young people are not interested in museums, so I have developed a bag of tricks to get their attention. These kids didn’t need any magic tricks; they brought the magic in the door with them.

We played a little game about identity: I showed the students a picture of a Cherokee woman from Oklahoma in her traditional clothing. “Who is more Cherokee,” I asked, “me or the woman in the picture?” The Yupik kids responded the same way most visitors do and pointed to the woman in the picture. “Really?” I asked and looked at the picture. “Do you recognize the woman in the picture?” They looked carefully and a wide-eyed few piped up, “That’s you!” I asked again, “Who is more Cherokee?” They were confused, and again, most of them said the woman in the picture. “If I change my clothes, does that change who I am?” We had a fun discussion about cultural identity. They decided that even if they aren’t wearing traditional clothing, they are still Yupik.

The teacher asked me to talk about leaving home, addressing language loss and lack of traditions. These are concerns for many Native people when we leave home. I shared my experiences as an urban Native in the D.C. area. I miss a lot of cultural events at home. However, it is an honor to teach people about my culture and my history. I have grown as an individual because of the time I have spent in Washington. I have a better understanding of my culture because I have left home. I compare my culture to others around the world. Now I understand why we tell our stories and cook our foods in certain ways. I share these stories and cultures with my family and friends when I return. My nieces and nephews love Alaskan string games! “You can do both. You can leave your community to teach others about Yupik peoples. When you return home, you will have new stories to share with your community.”

The students loved the idea that tradition changes and always has, as expressed through contemporary objects at the museum like the Yupik mask made from kitchen utensils and beaded tennis shoes. We talked about Native artists, Senators, and astronauts. We discussed the importance of elders and traditions. After I had shared objects and stories with them for nearly two hours, they were ready to share with me.

We went to the Yupik exhibit. The Yupik are known for telling stories through dance. Two teenage girls shared a beautiful dance that tells the story of the traditional sweat baths. We shared words in our languages. Then I showed them a dance a Yupik grandmother gave the museum about the drum. It was brilliant to see to see all nine of them making the motions for the large flat Yupik drum.

These students wanted to learn. They wanted to be at my museum. They wanted to hear my stories. This is why I came to work at NMAI—so I could share these stories with the next generation. Most aren’t interested, but these students didn’t waste a single moment of their time. Even the four-year-old asked questions! Their teacher was amazing. She has poured her heart into these young people, and it shows. The cameraman is making a film about their experiences leaving the island. I can’t wait to see it!

I believe these students can do anything. I believe they can be Senators, astronauts, artists, traditionalists, and filmmakers. Wado, (thank you) for helping me remember why I came to NMAI. I am truly blessed to have had you all as my teachers. You are the next generation. You are my inspiration.

~  Rachael Cassidy (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma), Cultural Interpreter, NMAI

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June 01, 2012

Indian Country in the News: May 25 - June 1, 2012

This week's news highlights include a series from Indian Country Today debunking common myths about Native Americans; the one-year anniversary of the White House's new program to combat obesity and poor health among Native American youth; the prospect of the first ever tribally-run national park in the U.S. and tribal protests in Brazil over better healthcare:

  • ICT: American Myths Debunked: Europeans Brought Culture to North America - "And so we come to our second-to-last look at Cracked.com’s “6 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About the Founding of America,” specifically myth #5, “Native Culture Wasn’t Primitive.” The “myth” Cracked.com is trying to debunk is two-fold: One, that American Indians lived in total harmony with nature and that Europeans alone used the natural resources of North American for their own purposes and two, that Natives didn’t create complex cities, and were in general less “civilized” and their societies less developed than Europeans."
  • White House: Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of Let’s Move! in Indian Country - "Over the past year Let’s Move! in Indian Country has worked with stakeholders across the country to help connect communities, schools and tribal leader to resources, funding, trainings and programs that will help improve the health of the next generation.  As a key component of the First Lady’s comprehensive initiative Let’s Move!, the Let’s Move! in Indian Country program focuses on the unique hurdles that American Indian and Alaska Native youth must overcome to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  In the first year, we have seen considerable progress and the First Lady and the Administration remain committed to building towards the ultimate goal of ending the epidemic of childhood obesity in Indian Country within a generation."
  • NPR: S.D. Tribe Poised To Take Back Part Of Badlands - "Federal officials are about to join hands with a tribe in South Dakota in a proposal to make part of the Badlands National Park the first ever tribally-run national park in the country. The agreement comes after years of sometimes bitter land disputes over the south unit of the Badlands. The largely undeveloped swath of steep bluffs and mud buttes is sacred place to some Native Americans who don't believe the land belongs under federal control or ownership. The move towards tribal management could set a precedent for other tribes in the United States to take over control of national parks elsewhere."
  • Brazilian indigenous groups demand better healthcare - "Groups of indigenous people in Brazil blocked roads and occupied government buildings to demand better healthcare for their communities. Several ethnic groups staged a protest at the Health Ministry building in the capital, Brasilia, asking for a meeting with a senior official. In a statement, the movement's leaders called for better facilities and access to more doctors. They say mortality rates are on the rise among the indigenous peoples."

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