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August 26, 2011

Indian Country in the News: Aug. 19 - 26, 2011

This week's news highlights include a Supreme Court ruling from the nation's second-largest tribe to expel its slave descendants, a look at the complications and controversies of federal recognition; accusations in Bolivia following a protest over indigenous rights and the environment, the Seneca tribe's plans to overhaul its economy and continued protests across the U.S. and Canada against plans for a major oil pipeline:

  • Reuters: Second-largest U.S. Indian tribe expels slave descendants - "The nation's second-largest Indian tribe formally booted from membership thousands of descendants of black slaves who were brought to Oklahoma more than 170 years ago by Native American owners.The Cherokee nation voted after the Civil War to admit the slave descendants to the tribe. But on Monday, the Cherokee nation Supreme Court ruled that a 2007 tribal decision to kick the so-called "Freedmen" out of the tribe was proper. The controversy stems from a footnote in the brutal history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. When many Indians were forced to move to what later became Oklahoma from the eastern U.S. in 1838, some who had owned plantations in the South brought along their slaves."
  • CSMonitor: What makes a native American tribe? - "The profiles of some federally recognized American Indian tribes have grown in recent decades as they parlayed their sovereign status to create profitable ventures such as gambling enterprises. But there are many other tribes that – never having had a reservation or simply falling through the cracks of Indian policy – are unrecognized by the United States. Scholars estimate that more than 250,000 of the 5 million who identify themselves as American Indians belong to about 300 unrecognized tribes, making them almost invisible to federal Indian law."
  • Bolivia’s President Accuses USAID of Inciting Indigenous March against Highway - "Bolivian President Evo Morales is accusing the United States of inciting a march by indigenous protesters against a Brazilian-financed highway his government is intent on building through an Amazon nature preserve. Morales says his government isn’t ruling out expelling the U.S. Agency for International Development."
  • NPR: Seneca Nation's New Chief Seeks To 'Change Course' - "Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he's "actively" considering legalizing gambling in the state to raise revenue. That would create competition for casinos owned by New York's native nations. Casino and tobacco sales have turned the Seneca nation, south of Buffalo, from an impoverished territory to the fifth-largest employer in the region. But the nation's new president, Robert Odawi Porter, wants the Senecas to go beyond smoke shops and slot machines. Porter, a Harvard-educated lawyer and academic, wants to recast one of the darkest moments of the Seneca people into an economic boon."
  • U.S. First Nations oppose Keystone - "The National Congress of American Indians has joined Canadian First Nations in opposition of the much debated Keystone XL pipeline project. In a statement released late last week, the NCAI said TransCanada's proposed pipeline expansion could severely impact Native American communities and "poses grave dangers if it is constructed." The statement released by NCAI, described as the nation's oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska native advocacy organization, reaffirms the position of its members and expresses solidarity with Canadian First Nations concerned about the project."


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thanks for sharing for such informative topic contains lot of information

I would love to know more of the indian news.

August 24, 2011

A Song for the Horse Nation: Remembering Lakota Ways

105940 Lakota painted drum, ca. 1860s. South Dakota or North Dakota. Pigment, rawhide, wood, wool cloth, and sinew. (10/5940).

My last name, Her Many Horses, is the Lakota name of my paternal great-grandmother. A more accurate English translation of her name is Many Horses Woman, meaning that she owned many horses. Among Lakota people, horses were a means of measuring wealth, but a far more important demonstration of wealth was the gesture of giving away horses in honor of a family member. Generosity is more important than possession.

“The Fourth of July used to be a good time,” Grace Pourier, my maternal grandmother, recalled. I liked to listen to her stories about what Lakota life was like in the early 1900s. She knew her Lakota ways as they had been passed on to her by her relatives. Born in 1907 on Pine Ridge Reservation and raised on Horse Head Ranch in Manderson, South Dakota, she remembered how community members and extended family gathered to celebrate with giveaways, traditional dances, parades, and feasts. Later in life, she said she wished her grandmother had made her pay  more attention to the events surrounding her, but at the time, she was just a kid having fun.

Much of traditional Lakota culture was threatened in the early 1900s. After the Lakota people were placed on reservations in the late 1800s, the U.S. government forbade their language and ceremonial life. Lakota people continued their traditions by incorporating traditional dances and giveaways into the Independence Day (and other American holiday) festivities in which they were encouraged to participate. For this reason, Fourth of July celebrations became something to look forward to. After Lakota men joined the military to fight World War I, the use of the U.S. flag in beadwork and quillwork took on a new meaning. Today, if a bead worker uses the flag design, he or she is probably a veteran or a family member of someone who has served in the military.


Horses painting Lakota Horse Mask, 2008, by Jim Yellowhawk (Cheyeene River Lakota, b. 1958). South Dakota. Acrylic on paper, gold leaf. (26/7199)

In the early years of my grandmother’s youth, horses still played an important role in the lives of Oglala Lakota people. Since their introduction to the region in the early 1700s, horses had revolutionized Plains culture. But they were more than work animals; horses were, and still are, cherished. The Pourier family was known for its racehorses. During the reservation period of the early 1900s, beautiful beaded horses head covers, saddle blankets, and saddlebags were made to decorate favorite horses on special occasions, such as the Fourth of July parades. Horses were often given away at naming ceremonies, memorial ceremonies (held a year after a family member’s death), and giveaways (which might celebrate a returning veteran or honor a graduating student). Traditional giveaways centered on the giving away of horses, money, clothing, blankets, and other material objects. Hosting a giveaway today involves tremendous preparation, including the gathering of gifts, such as brightly colored star quilts, Pendleton blankets, and handmade shawls, as well as feeding the whole community.

Grandma Grace once told me that her grandmother really knew Indian ways: “Grandpa Pourier would have been a rich man, but Grandma Pourier kept giving her horses away.” A horse to be given away would be brought into the Fourth of July dance arbor or other community gathering, while men on horseback waited outside. The horse was shown to the people or paraded inside the arbor, then taken outside, given a slap on the rump, and released. The man on horseback fortunate enough to catch the freed horse became its proud new owner.

My grandmother also remembered that women would give away dresses made of tanned deer hide, with the yoke of the dress completely covered with beadwork. “They would take off their beaded dresses right there in the dance arbor and give them away.” The woman giving the dress away wore a cloth dress beneath the beaded dress. Giving away a fully beaded dress in honor of a relative was tremendous act of generosity. The person receiving the valuable gift would shake hands with the giver and with the relative being honored.

Emily Her Many Horses, my paternal grandmother, remembered receiving her Lakota name at about age ten. She wore a wool dress embellished with many elk teeth, valuable because only two of each elk’s teeth—the incisors—are used for decoration. They are natural ivory. Along with this dress, she wore beaded moccasins and leggings, and after the naming ceremony, she was told to give away the dress, moccasins, and leggings. She struggled to keep the dress, but her parents made her part with it—at such a young age, she did not understand what this act of generosity meant, and she wondered why her grandfather had her shoes, which were tied together by their shoestrings and thrown over his saddle horn. Her grandfather gave away five horses that day in her honor.

Wintercount_full Winter Count on cloth, by Long Soldier (Hunkpapa Lakota), ca. 1902. Fort Yates, ND. Muslin cloth. (11/6720). 

Leo Her Many Horses, my father, was given a horse at a Hunka Lowanpi, a naming ceremony held during a Sun Dance. He received a wooden stick that had attached to it a rawhide cutout of a horse. This meant that he would later receive the actual horse. The Hunka Lowanpi is a Lakota naming/adoption ceremony. It creates a kinship relationship that is respected by all the family members involved, and it is at this ceremony that Lakota names are given. The family of the  person receiving the name will ask a well-respected individual to name its relative. The person naming the individual will pray with an eagle feather and then tie the feather in that person’s hair. The names given at a Hunka Lowanpi are used only on special occasions—to have one’s name sung publicly in a song is considered a great honor. The person whose name was sung or his or her family members will give away money, horses, or blankets for this honor.

Often on Memorial Day or after a death, people will place articles of clothing, bowls of fruit, packs of cigarettes, or other such items on the grave of a family member. These things are put out with the idea that other people are welcome to come by and take them. This act is performed to honor the deceased family member. My father said that one method of giving a horse away to place the horse outside the cemetery with the reins left hanging loose to signify that anyone was welcome to take it.

  Oglala_Lakota_Beaded_Horse_Mask_1413Oglala Lakota beaded horse mask, ca. 1904. Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. Seed beads, hide, and sinew. (1413).

In the collection of the National Museum of the American Indian, there is a beautiful, elaborately beaded horse head cover used at a 1904 Fourth of July parade at Pine Ridge, where my grandmother would be born three years later. The catalog information states that this horse head cover was collected by J.W. Good and was “used by chief of Teton Sioux to lead parade.” Imagine the horse that wore this, the white beads glinting in the July sun.

It’s a wonderful piece of artistry in its geometric design and lazy-stitch technique, but what’s unique about it is that it appears to have been made with the intention of later being recycled into many different objects. The beaded section, which would be placed over the face of the horse, could be remade into a pair of women’s beaded leggings, and the area over the horse’s cheek could be made into a pipe bag. The upper neck section of the cover would have been made into a pair of tipi bags, also known as a “possible bag,” because anything possible was stored inside. The lower neck section could be made into a pair of moccasins.

The resourceful woman who created this horse mask obviously had future plans for it—plans that were, fortunately for us, never carried out. A fusion of gifts never given, it is a reminder of Lakota traditions piece together, a silent testament to what lies hidden within all those Fourths of July.

—Emil Her Many Horses (Oglala Lakota)

From A Song for the Horse Nation, edited by George P. Horse Capture (A’aninin) and Emil Her Many Horses (Oglala Lakota). Published by the National Museum of the American Indian in association with Fulcrum Publishing.  ©2006 Smithsonian Institution. All rights reserved.

A Song for the Horse Nation is curated by Emil Her Many Horses (Oglala Lakota). The accompanying book, edited by Her Many Horses and the scholar George P. Horse Capture (A’aninin), is available at the museum’s shops and the museum’s Web site.

For the online exhibition, visit http://nmai.si.edu/static/exhibitions/horsenation/

For an online overview, visit http://nmai.si.edu/explore/exhibitions/item/?id=905.

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center is located at One Bowling Green in New York City, across from Battery Park. The museum is free and open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m. For information, call (212) 514-3700 or visit the museum’s Web site at http://www.americanindian.si.edu/.

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very beautiful art work indeed

Amazing art work, so beautiful!

Those art works always remind me of the cave arts of the native americans.. :-)

Where We Live: The imagiNATIONS Activity Center’s inaugural publication

Spanish moss dangling from trees like Rapunzel’s hair. Yellow alligator eyes peering out of the murky waters of the bayou. A daytime cacophony of cicadas and a nighttime symphony of frogs and crickets. An aura of Old World charm and moldy decay that makes you wonder if vampires truly do roam the streets at night.

These are the sights and sounds of my southern Louisiana home. What plants, animals, and people live where you live? How would you imagine them? How would you draw them?

Native peoples have been depicting the world around them for centuries, to document their daily lives and express themselves artistically. Where We Live: A Puzzle Book of American Indian Art, the imagiNATIONS Activity Center’s inaugural publication, invites young readers to explore the different ways that contemporary American Indian artists use their imaginations to draw where they live. This fun, vibrantly colored book includes eight 16-piece jigsaw puzzles made from contemporary artworks in the National Museum of the American Indian’s collections.

NMAI puzzle book

The most enjoyable aspect of putting this book together was selecting the images to turn into puzzles. As you can imagine, there are thousands of beautiful objects in the museum’s collections to choose from, so we turned to our visitors for help. The Publications Office and the imagiNATIONS Activity Center project team worked with the museum’s Web Development Office to create our first online survey. The survey was promoted on the museum’s website and Facebook profile, and within days we had hundreds of responses. Surveys were also conducted with visitors here at the museum. The results are the eight stunning artworks found in this book, which reflect a range of landscapes throughout the Western Hemisphere. 

Rolled into the concept of home is also the idea of protecting natural resources and preserving homelands for future generations. Indigenous peoples have deep ties to the land, which are often explored in the works of contemporary Native artists. As the threat of global warming and other environmental calamities increases, it is often Native communities that feel the effects first. Scientists and academics are closely watching Native responses to the changes and learning from the vast environmental knowledge that these communities have accumulated over the millennia.

Where We Live: A Puzzle Book of American Indian Art will be available mid-November—just in time for the holidays—in the museum’s gift shops and on the website. The National Museum of the American Indian is grateful to its constituents for helping us create such a captivatingly visual book for our young readers. We invite you to take a journey with the book’s eight Native artists to their homes near and far, and to think about why it is important to care for the land we share with others. 

Just beware the vampires!

—Arwen Nuttall (Cherokee), writer/editor, NMAI

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August 22, 2011

Indian Country in the News: Aug. 12 - 19, 2011

This week's news highlights include a march in Bolivia against plans to build a road in the Amazon, increasing concerns in Peru about the president's oil policy in the nation's rainforests, the continued search for an uncontacted tribe in Brazil that has gone missing, a spotlight on upcoming tribal festivals on the East Coast and a photogallery from this year's contest for National Indigenous Queen of Guatemala:

  • BBC: Indigenous Bolivians march against Amazon road - "Hundreds of Amazonian Indians in Bolivia have begun a long march in protest at the construction of a road through a pristine rainforest reserve. Activists say the road will encourage illegal settlement and deforestation. Isiboro-Secure National Park is home to several isolated tribes. The protest is an embarrassment for President Evo Morales, who is a prominent advocate of indigenous rights and the protection of "Mother Earth.""
  • Reuters: Peru's indigenous losing faith in reformed - "Indigenous leaders and rights groups in Peru are expressing disappointment with President Ollanta Humala's plan to encourage oil exploration in the Amazon and want the leftist leader to safeguard tribal lands. The new head of Peru's oil agency has said Peru hopes to attract up to $20 billion in petroleum and gas investment in the next five years, more than the $6.2 billion the sector brought in under former President Alan Garcia."
  • Fox News: Crisis Declared in Search for Vanished Amazon Tribe - "The search has intensified for one of the world's last known uncontacted tribes that has seemingly vanished into the jungles of the Amazon after a suspected assault by heavily armed drug traffickers. The Brazilian government will dispatch National Security Forces to bolster security and the search for the tribe, meanwhile, the country's National Security Secretary Regina Miki has pledged a "permanent occupation by the Ministry of Defence," according to tribal advocacy group Survival."

  • NYTimes: Four Festivals Celebrate American Indian Heritage - "The circuit is alive this time of the season, around the corn harvest, and in the next two weeks at least four gatherings offering Native music will convene in Connecticut and Putnam County, N.Y. Three will be on Aug. 20 and Aug. 21: the Mohegan Wigwam Festival in Uncasville, Conn.; the Daniel Nimham Intertribal Pow Wow in Kent Lakes, N.Y.; and Ms. Pugsley’s event, Songs of Music Vale Festival. The fourth, the Mashantucket Pequot tribe’s Green Corn Powwow, will run from Aug. 26 through Aug. 28 in Ledyard, Conn."

  • TIME Photos: Rodrigo Abd and Guatemala’s Indigenous Beauty Queens - "Associated Press photographer Rodrigo Abd recently traveled to Coban, Guatemala to document the women competing to become this year’s National Indigenous Queen of Guatemala. In a country where about 40 percent of people self identify as indigenous, the contest carries great prestige, especially as rapid globalization threatens to sweep aside Mayan traditions. The women, who ranged in age from 14 to 26, went through multiple rounds of competition and were expected to give speeches in both Spanish and their native tongue. Twenty-three-year-old Rosa Lidia Aguare Castro of Santa Lucia La Reforma was this year’s winner."


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August 21, 2011

Day Five in Santa Fe: Symposium and Films

023Can you believe that we have already been here in Santa Fe for five days? It has flown by and looking forward to the first official day of Indian Market.  You can tell it’s getting close because the roads around the plaza are closed and the white tents are going up.

Today had a repeat program featuring the KidFLIX! shorts which had a lot of kids coming with their parents to see these films. Click here to see xxx.


The highlight program today was the second annual State of Native Art Symposium titled, “Collecting and Collectors: Investigating the Other Side of the Equation” where the panel addressed Native artists as art collectors and spoke about the evolving nature of museum collections.  The panel included Andrea Hanley (Navajo) director of the Berlin Gallery at the Heard Museum Shop in Phoenix, Ariz.; John Vanausdall, president/CEO of the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, Ind.; Steven Karr, director of the Southwest Museum in Los Angles, Calif.; and Teresa Willis (Yakama/Cuyuse/Nez Perce), NMAI Board of Trustee member and personal collector.


These four panelists spoke before a full room at the Santa Fe Convention Center with welcoming remarks by SWAIA executive director, Bruce Bernstein and moderated by NMAI director, Kevin Gover.  Some the discussion focused on the fact that collecting begins with a dialogue between artists, buyers, collectors and museums. Native art has risen from a local topic to a national and global level. It’s important to reach out to those first time buyers. What can galleries and museums do to expand their collections? It was clear from the panelists that there is not a large budget for acquisitions. Contemporary art collecting is something that is relatively new.  Most collections have been looking for traditional arts.  It’s great to be at events like the Indian Market to be able to start seeing up and coming artists that can fill the gap in collections.


Are there such as thing as a young collector?  According to the panel and the audience, it always starts with one piece, often one that evokes an emotional reaction and/or heart palpitations.  According a collector, Bill Wiggins, he said that his collecting began with a trip to the Five Civilized Tribes in Muscogee, Okla. and his life has never been the same. He went on to collect 1-2 pieces each year and now has his collection at the Sequoyah National Resource Center in Arkansas. Great discussion!

The Native Cinema Showcase was rounded out by the screening of “Pelq’ilc/Coming Home” a film directed by Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot’in). Her film follows two individuals in two communities of the Secwepeme Nation in BC that shares their experience in cultural renewal and recovery. The holistic education process they are engaged in is deeply rooted in language, family and tradition as a way to strengthen them and carry them forward as a people.

Lastly, we had Jason Ryle (Saulteaux), the executive director of imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Ont. This collection of shorts from Indigenous filmmakers living in Canada reflects the diversity of works from the First Nations, Metis and Inuit artists. Some films included: “Tungijuq,” “Inuit High Kick,” “Savage,” and “Burnt.”

Keep an eye out for NMAI staff on the Plaza!

-          Leonda Levchuk (Navajo)

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