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itoria s One world, not two For many American Indians growing up we are told we have to live in two worlds. The Indian World and the White (Dominant) World. Prior to contact by European explorers and settlers, North America was widely populated by Natives. Estimates range from twelve million to well over twenty-five million. European incursion into North America not only brought in new people, cultures, values, and customs it also brought new diseases. Those diseases such as smallpox, influenza, bubonic plague, pneumonic plague and measles had a more devastating effect on our population than warfare. By 1900, the U.S. Census reported there were 237,000 American Indians in the United States, we represented .002% of the U.S. population at that time. This is considered our lowest population count, a time when we were nearly extinct. This is also a time when it may have been determined that we should find a way to live in two worlds. Growing up here in Nixyaawii, I was told to find a balance between these two worlds. I was to leam and remember from whom I came. To leam my own history, which measles and warfare played a major role, and how it affected my People. I was to leam English, mathematics, reading, writing, western science, g civics, law, and American culture. Advancing my personal and professional education was and still is expected. These expectations came from my parents, family, friends, and elders. I searched for balance. I looked to ensure I had a foundation in my Indian culture first, before looking to learn new cultures. I thought I had found a balance. About sixteen years ago, I was giving a talk in Arizona about working with Native youth and finding a balance between indigenous ways of knowledge and western science. I extolled extensively on how our Youth in the Salmon Corps program were finding balance in two worlds, how they were developing western ideals and skills while maintaining their traditional connections with salmon, water, and our land. As I finished the talk, I could see two women in back looking right at me and when I finished one gestured for me to go and sit by them. I walked to the back of the conference room and quickly saw one was my teacher, my mentor, and my friend Winona LaDuke. I was an undergraduate student of hers at the University of Oregon years before. She introduced me to (atwai) Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. It truly was an honor to be asked to sit with them both. Wilma told me I gave a good speech, but I was wrong on one point. She told me, "You live in one world, the Indian world." She took the time to teach me that the White world wanted me to think that I live in two worlds, because it would cause turmoil within me and would cause me to question my own beliefs, thoughts, and actions. Wilma explained that we as Indian People have always been on these lands and though great attempts were made to rid the land or our People, we still stand tall today. She explained that it is the other people, who immigrated to our lands, who must live in two worlds. I thanked her for her words; I would go on learning a great deal from this powerful woman both while she was on this land and when she passed into the next. I have reflected on this teaching many times. I now can clearly see that I was never told by my own People that I lived in two worlds. The push of my family, friends and elders was to ensure I learned from anyone willing to teach me, I just had to be willing to leam. I was charged by my late grandfather, Charles F. Sams Sr. to go out into the world and learn all the good things that will help the People and to leave the bad teachings where I found them. Since 1900, we have seen a significant rebound in our population. Today we number over 5.2 million American Indians, representing over 2% of the U.S. population. We continue to send our youth into the world, not to find a balance between two worlds, but to gain knowledge and experience that will help sustain and grow our living culture, protect our values, and bring balance to our lives. We as a People are not going anywhere, we were placed here by our Creator. We were given our laws and way of life. We live in our World and it is up to other people to leam to live with us, as a sovereign People.

overnm ent,

CUJphoto/Dallas Dick

Struttin' his stuff Alex Allen dances in the 10-and-under category. About three dozen natives participated in the pow-wow, which followed a salmon feast at Blue Mountain Community College. For more photos turn to Page 20A.

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