Page 1

Celebrating Native Americans in Today’s World

Exploring your



Diabetes Demystified Know your risk

Myth busting

What your kids are learning about Native culture

blood quantum

Does percentage really matter?

Rising stars Getting deep with Dark Water Rising

Contents| historically (in)accurate

chasing dreams

Learn what schools are really teaching students about Native Americans, and what’s being done to make those lessons more accurate.


AIM’s Activism The legacy of the American Indian Movement's fight to preserve Native rights and culture.


“Twilight” star Chaske Spencer chats with Earth+Sky about family, fortune and his road to fame.

Defeating Diabetes Learn about a disease that’s affecting Natives across America, and how you can reduce your risk. 32

Pure Blooded? How blood quantum affects Natives both culturally and politically in mainstream America. 40

Troubling youth legacy

Current Events

Learn where Native kids are behind and how you can help. 12

See what’s happening in Jan., Feb. and March. 8

rooted in the water An emerging band, Dark Water Rising, maintains strong connections to home and heritage.


Double Take

Two students who are the same age, from the same town and from the same tribe celebrate their culture in different ways. 52 4



Chit Chat Native Americans answer questions from people across the country. 16

Recipe Revision: corn bread Earth+Sky transforms a traditional corn bread recipe into something fit for the most modern of palates. 18

Fringe benefits This spring, Native Americaninspired fashion goes mainstream. 20

Tepees A glance back in time at a Native American dwelling that is now symbolic of the culture and survives in modern times. 14

Hiking into history Visiting the Effigy Mounds National Park connects the modern and ancient worlds. 22

These months What event had an impact on your culture a hundred years ago today? Check out our detailed timeline of these three months in history. 11

passport to nowhere


One lacrosse team’s struggle to compete raises awareness about tribal sovereignty.

clay Traditions


Earth+Sky sits down with Senora Lynch, one of North Carolina’s most prominent Native American artists.

the powwow then and now How these gatherings are staying the same, and staying in touch with tradition.


Organizations That Help! This month, Earth+Sky profiles the Association on American Indian Affairs, an 85-year-old advocacy program that aims to preserve culture and language. 62

Sharing the Sweat Lodge One summer camp adopts a Lakota spiritual tradition, aiming to teach children about your culture. 48

The Three Sisters The story behind three foods that have cultural and literal roots in Native American society. 74

On the warpath against crime Government and tribes creating a new tradition.



Storyteller’s Corner Earth+Sky presents a traditional trickster tale and talks with a teller. 82

A Melodic History The Native American flute has been a staple in traditions and ceremonies for hundreds of years. What is its significance today? 76 WINTER+Spring 2011


Explore the different ways this spineless cactus is used culturally and specifically within the Native American church. 5

Letter from the editors

Welcome! W Editorial Staff Latisha Catchatoorian Emily Evans Kelsey Finn Laura Hoxworth Alex Linder Anna Norris Lauren Ratcliffe Jacqueline Scott

Art Director Nick Yarbrough

Design Staff Elizabeth Choe Sara Creef Brittney Jeffries

Contributors Alex Pegg


e recy


e m a g a zi







Courtesy of The American Indian College Fund

hat does your heritage mean to you? If you take pride in your cultural background, as one of our editors does, then you might have noticed the same absence in the magazine rack that she did. While African-Americans, Latinos and Caucasians are splashed across covers at the grocery store, she realized that her Native American identity was absent from the glossy publications. Her heritage matters to her, just as it matters to others who share Native American roots, and she wanted something tangible that represented the pride she has in her roots. Earth + Sky aims to help fill the hole. Since Native Americans have little presence in an ever-growing market of publications, we realize that this magazine presents both a challenge and an opportunity: the opportunity to celebrate a people commonly misunderstood and frequently under the radar. We embrace this opportunity with excitement. The name Earth+Sky is derived from Mother Earth and Father Sky, as many Native people feel reverence toward their traditions and their homeland. It also represents being grounded in your roots while embracing your dreams. Earth+Sky is focused on celebrating Native Americans in today’s world. Whether you live on a sprawling reservation or in the heart of Manhattan, whether

you can trace your Native American roots back through several generations or you are just curious to learn more about Native culture, Earth+Sky was born out of a mission to serve you and to address the political and cultural issues you face. It’s about merging your heritage with mainstream society and looking at some of the interesting things you are doing and thinking about. To do this, we will look each quarter at how your culture is evolving and how it’s retaining tradition. We will look at your role in mainstream society: your diversity and your individuality, as well as what unifies you as Native American people. We will feature stories about people and places, politics and race, recipes and fashion. And while we won’t hesitate to tackle topics with sensitive content, we aim to represent Native American people in the positive light they deserve. We will address both the achievements and the problems (and their possible solutions) of a modern society linked to America’s first people. The sky is our limit, but like the roots of a tree, we will stay grounded in the earth and the issues that matter to you, our reader. At Earth + Sky, we have made a commitment to never stop exploring what your heritage means. We’re excited to be serving you and are looking forward to what’s next. So here’s to the start of a cultural celebration, but most of all: Here’s to you, our readers. sincerely

WINTER+Spring 2011











These great opportunities to connect with your tribal community and beyond with some of the biggest events for Native Americans that are taking place across the country in upcoming months. -Anna Norris

Indian Craft Market and International Day Rillito Raceway Park, Tucson, Ariz.

The Dishchii' Bikoh' Apache Group from Cibecue, Ariz., demonstrates the Apache Crown Dance.

The Pasqua Yaqui Deer Dancers, Nahui Ollin Aztec Dancers and the Mountain Apache Crown Dancers are just a few of the 50-plus tribes that will be performing tribal dances. There will also be singing and drum contests outside of scheduled performances. Traditional food stands will also be on hand to satisfy your appetite. Information booths will provide powwow schedules for the upcoming year, as well as news pertaining to Native Americans.

11th Annual Morning Star Powwow John Carroll School, Bel Air, Md. Created in 2001, this annual powwow benefits St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, Mont. St. Labre has a campus for Cheyenne and Crow families on the grounds of three different primary and secondary schools in Montana. Funds will aid St. Labre and help the greater Native American community in the central Atlantic area. Featuring more than 20 drum groups, more than 100 dancers and 20 traders, the powwow has become a community staple, drawing more than 2,000 spectators in years past. The public is invited to experience this cultural and educational event.



Participants in the Moring Star Powwow.

Estun-Bah drummer Jeremy Meyer performing a traditional dance.

9th Annual Red Paint Powwow Grant County Business and Conference Center, Silver City, N.M. The Red Paint Powwow features dance competitions in recognition of the Chihene Apache, who live in southwestern New Mexico. Tribal dancers from across the country will wow audiences in a number of dance categories, all accompanied by native drummers and singers. Handmade native products will also be available for sale throughout the powwow.

37th Annual Denver March Powwow Denver Coliseum, Denver, Colo. Featuring storytelling, along with both intertribal and contest dancing, the Denver March Powwow has become a tradition, bringing tribes from Colorado and beyond. Events will be led by a designated powwow princess, a young woman who has shown to be especially concerned with leadership skills and community involvement in her tribe.

Derek Miller, Mohawk, lead singer in the rock group Derek Miller and participant in the 2009 Film Festival.

15th Native American Film & Video Festival Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, New York, N.Y. The first international indigenous film festival aims to celebrate the creativity of short works and feature films from Native American directors, producers, writers, actors and musicians from North, Central and South America. The festival will screen between 50 and 80 documentaries, short films and animations. All selections will be chosen by a team of Native American media specialists and cultural activists from across the Americas. The festival is organized by the Film and Video Center of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The National Museum of the American Indian.

WINTER+Spring 2011


T h e s e

m o n t h s

i n


























February 1






























A government press release says 40 percent more Native Americans have enlisted to fight in World War II than have been drafted. Twenty-five thousand Native Americans served in the U.S. armed forces, including 800 women. Standing Bear, a Ponca chief living in Nebraska, refuses to move to a reservation. He later argues in an 1879 civil rights case that Native Americans have the rights of citizenship.

The Spokane Indian Reservation is established in eastern Washington.

The Fifteenth Amendment is ratified, finally recognizing the right of all men to vote, including Native Americans.

Congress passes the Dawes Act, dividing reservations into 160-acre parcels allotted to individual Native Americans. However, the land is held in trust by the government for 25 years. The Campo Indian reservation is established in San Diego County, Calif. It is home to the Campo Band of Diegueno Mission Indians, a federally recognized tribe of Kumeyaay people.
































Mar 26, 1804 Mar 16, 1621


Mar 3, 1849

Feb 27, 1973


Jan 9, 1942


Jan 18, 1881


Feb 3, 1870


Feb 8, 1887


Feb 10, 1893


Wovoka, a Northern Paiute religious leader, claims a prophetic vision during the solar eclipse and founds the Ghost Dance movement, which was incorporated into numerous Native American belief systems.

Jan 15, 1877

Jan 1, 1889

HISTORY jan • feb • mar

Two hundred activists of the American Indian Movement take control of Wounded Knee, S.D., in protest of issues related to Native American rights. The Department of the Interior, which handles federal relations with Native Americans, is created.

Native Americans make their first formal contact with English colonists at Plymouth, Mass.

Congress orders the removal of Native Americans east of the Mississippi River to Louisiana.

—Compiled by kelsey Finn WINTER+Spring 2011






ative Americans are heirs to a rich cultural heritage featuring spiritual dances, prized weavings and captivating storytelling. Unfortunately, many Native Americans struggle with a different sort of legacy – a legacy characterized by unemployment, poverty and low life expectancy. The 2010 Kids Count Data Book indicates that this burden is not getting any lighter for future generations. The study, using data from 2007 and 2008, evaluated the well-being of children nationwide. Native American children ranked last in five of the 10 categories. -Alex Linder


Categories of Well-Being

of low1 Percent birthweight babies

2 Infant mortality rate

(deaths per 1,000 live births)

The Kids Count Data Book is published annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national grant-making nonprofit that focuses on improving conditions for children in the United States. Find more information at:


Teen death rate

(deaths per 100,000 teens ages 15-19)

3 Teen birth rate

(births per 100,000 females ages 15-19)



Percent of children living in poverty

(income below $21, 834 for a family of two adults and two children)

of children in 5 Percent single-parent families


American Indian and Alaska Native



Child death rate

(deaths per 100,000 children ages 1-14)

19 National


Photo/Rebecca van




American Indian and Alaska Native

youth legacy


Teens not in school and not high school graduates (ages 16-19)



American Indian and Alaska Native

school drop-out rate before high school graduation


Teens not in school and not working (ages 16-19)

15% 8% American Indian and Alaska Native



Children living in families where no parent has full-time, yearround employment National

While these figures are alarming, statistics on some reservations are even more shocking. Data compiled in 2006 by the Native American Times about the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota resembles numbers that could be found in a third-world country.




America’s Third World?

44% American Indian and Alaska Native


unemployment rate


higher teenage suicide rate than the national average


higher infant mortality rate than the national average

How to help Not many know about the extreme poverty conditions in some reservations, and those that do realize may not know what they can do to help in such remote places. The Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation (FPRR) helps provide information so that those wanting to help can send donations that will go directly to assist area schools and social service organizations. FPRR targets specific needs and makes sure donations are made in ways that help preserve and support the Lakota culture. Don’t underestimate the value of even one book or blanket. Check out what you can give at:

WINTER+Spring 2011


PHOTOS/stock xchng

A look back at a Native American structure that has captivated attention for years


epees were mobile homes made of buffalo hides or canvas and were mainly used by Plains Indians, including the Lipan Apache, Comanche and Kiowa. Plains Indian groups moved across the Great Plains, following migrating herds of buffalo that roamed from Canada to Texas. Constructed using an average of 15 poles topped with furs or




Hide tepees cropped up on the Plains. Their conical construction mirrored nature: the earth, sky, seasons and life. They were mobile homes for hunting societies. Tepees could be dismantled and packed in a travois, two long poles attached with leather straps. Dogs dragged the travois.

Following the introduction of the horse to North America, tepees increased from 12 to 18 feet high or more. Longer and heavier poles were transported with ease. Some people began decorating their tepee poles with ribbons and streamers. Streamers indicated wind direction, and people turned their tepee away from the wind to avoid effects of windstorms.

canvas, tepees became homes for migrating Native Americans. Tepees originated as 12-foot-high dwellings and grew to become 18 feet high or more. As the tepee evolved, it became less of a functional home and more of an art form. Today, the tepee is a widely regarded symbol of indigenous people. -Jacqueline scott

18001860s Cloth material, acquired through trade of furs and hides, was introduced. Buffalo hides weighed 50 to 100 pounds, and while they kept the tepee warm during winter, the spring was sweltering. Some intricately painted lodges and quilled decorations reveal an emphasis on a decorated home despite lack of permanence.




Some tribes moved into wigwams – wooden domed dwellings – during the rainy spring months so tepees could be repaired or refurbished with hides collected during fall and winter. Well-kept records of trading companies reveal Native Americans exchanged furs and crafts for steel needles, kettles, pots, pans, vermilion and steel blades.

Buffalo became extinct, making way for commercial canvas tepees to become the norm. While many preferred the use of furs and hides as in the 1800s, groups now had no other alternative materials. Cloth material was lightweight, let in light and was easy to put together, allowing tribes to make larger covers.

(Left) 2009 tepee at Peterson Point Historic Farmstead, Iowa (Top Right) Ernest T. Seton’s 1927 “Handbook for Boys” (Bottom Right) 1830s Apache wigwam



Reservations offered new housing alternatives. Due to hostilities between tribes, many groups lived a nomadic life, though intricate tepee designs were not sacrificed. Details included quilled and beaded rosettes and tinklers. Metal tinklers were often added to the fringe of Native American dress and accessories due to their musical quality; the tinklers bring life by simulating rustling wind.

Tepees become more formal and emphasize the home as an art form. The Crow, Nez Perce and Blackfoot lodges all had longer tepee poles. The Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa and Sioux lodges were lavishly decorated with beaded medallions and tinklers on the covers. Art was now both inside and outside the tepee cover.




Ernest T. Seton introduced Americanized tepees to the Boy Scouts of America. These tepees were less authentic and more hobbyist. The first official “Handbook for Boys” contained a section called “American Indian Craft,” which instructed readers on how to make tepees, moccasins, tomtoms, and bow and arrow sets. Outdoor camping skills drew inspiration from Native American cultures.

Guy “Darry” Wood of Haysville, N.C., published his article, “The AllAmerican Do-It- Yourself Portable Shelter,” advancing the tepee design into modern times. His design incorporated synthetic materials like waterproof Sunbrella with nylon and polyester. Wood engineered the cover and inside lining to fit every angle in the tepee, making the cover more egg shaped.

TV show “Comanche Moon: Rangers, Tramps, and Thieves,” set in the 1850s, portrayed characters as generic Plains Indians who wore buckskins and lived in tepees, an accurate depiction for most, but not all, Plains Indians. Native Americans are portrayed as savages who rape and pillage the Texas settlers.

WINTER+Spring 2011


Q n






























Q:“How is Native American identity reconciled with mainstream white American values? How do Native Americans see themselves in the current slew of mainstream American values?” Abbas Rattani, 22 Queens, N.Y.

Monnoca Baddonih, 22 Teec Nos Pos, Ariz. Navajo

A: “With the pressure and dominance of white American values, it is becoming easier for the younger generation to abandon traditional Native American ways and acculturate into modern society. However, coming from a large and relatively sovereign nation, the Navajo Nation, along with a strict Navajo upbringing, I find it easier to live in both worlds while upholding my tribal values. I have been blessed with the ability to speak fluent Navajo and practice traditional ways, while still stemming out to get a higher level of Western education. I hope to return home to encourage the younger generation to do the same, because choosing to live within one culture will ultimately lead to the loss of the Native American identity.”

Q:“Do Native American families today practice traditional rituals and medicine? If so, what are they?” A: “Although Western medicine is the basis for medical practice and healing in the country, many American Indian tribes still rely on traditional rituals and values that have been tied to their people for many years. Each American Indian tribe has different beliefs, rituals, practices, culture and history. Traditional medicine is usually based on each tribe’s specific values, therefore each traditional ritual varies by specific tribe. For example, the Lumbee people of North Carolina practice a traditional ritual called “fire blowing.” This is the ability to blow or talk the pain out of someone’s wound. My aunt was a fire blower and during my childhood I often saw her do this to burn-related wounds.”

Richard Wilson, 19 Spanish Fork, Utah

Shane Locklear, 23 Fairmont, N.C. Lumbee

Q:“What is the story behind dream catchers?”

Abby Keogh, 21 Charlottesville, Va.

Molly Hall-Martin, 22 Spearfish, S.D. Lower Brule Sioux

A: “The dream catchers that people in contemporary society recognize originated with the Chippewa people and were eventually adopted by Native people across the country. The hoop represents life and the world. Oral tradition says that an old man was talking to Spider when Spider started to weave a web into the man’s hoops. The spider’s web is the net that makes up the dream catcher. Bad dreams are caught in the spider’s web and held there until the morning sun hits them and they are destroyed. Good dreams go through the holes of the net and travel down either horsehair or feathers into the dreamer’s mind. There is usually one bead or stone woven into the web. This stone represents the belief that there is only one creator. Dream catchers are usually made out of willow branches or twigs, sinew, horsehair or feathers and a bead or stone.”

Do you have a question about Natives that you want answered? Do you want to reply to one of these questions or debunk a stereotype? Do you want to start a trending topic? Send your ideas, questions and commentary to Earth+Sky and be featured in our next issue. — Latisha Catchatoorian WINTER+Spring 2011



RECIPE corn bread R




Estimated time of preparation: 50 minutes Servings: 12 pieces of corn bread


2 1/2 cups reduced-fat biscuit/baking mix 3/4 cup cornmeal

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Sugar substitute equivalent to 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before cutting. Serve warm.

1 egg Pour into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

1 egg white 1 eggcup white 3/4 buttermilk 3/4cup cupfat-free buttermilk 1/2 milk fat-free milk 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce 3 tablespoons butter, melted 3 tablespoons butter, 1melted tablespoon honey


1 tablespoon honey Corn bread is a staple in many Native American meals, for good reason. It’s a sturdy, yet crumbly, complement to vegetables and stews any time of the year. Unfortunately, traditional corn bread recipes aren’t always the healthiest. A quick search on an online Native American recipe forum, NativeTech. 18


org, proved this very true: One recipe for “Cheyenne Batter-Bread” called for 1 quart of sweetened condensed milk and 3 eggs, and another recipe for traditional fry bread called for half of a cup of sugar and half of a stick of butter. These look more like ingredients found in an indulgent dessert—not

classic corn bread gets a healthy, modern makeover

2 In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well.

In another bowl, beat the egg, egg white, buttermilk, milk, applesauce, butter and honey together with a whisk.


Pour the bowl of mixed wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir together until the dry ingredients are just moistened.


exactly the makings of a nutritious side dish. Luckily, we’ve created an easy, healthy way for you to get your corn bread fix without breaking the caloric bank. Instead of using large amounts of buttermilk and real sugar, this recipe mixes in healthier fat-free milk and sugar substitutes to reduce calories

and fat. Surprise ingredients (applesauce and honey) bring in even more natural sweetness and add a great texture to the final product. Each piece is 200 calories and contains 5 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber and 5 grams of protein, making it a great addition to a meal or perfect as a light snack. —Emily Evans, from

WINTER+Spring 2011



FASHION fringe F


Swing into spring with this flexible look


will become a classy but fashionable staple. For a modern twist, keep it fresh by replacing earth tones with bold and daring brights, and balance your look with tailored pieces in crisp solids. Just avoid getting tangled (literally) in too much of a good thing and stick to one fringed piece per outfit. With endless possibilities, fringe is poised to be one of the most versatile trends of the season. But however you decide to style it, one thing is clear: fringe fever doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon.

photo/Houston Museum of Natural Science

The inspiration

­­—Laura Hoxworth

A traditional Lakota dress, circa 1870, features decorative beading and fringe.




photo/roberto Cavalli

photo/ralph Lauren


photo/house of holland


ome fashion trends come and go faster than you can blink, but this spring’s hottest look has some serious history. While most often associated with the flapper look of the ’20s or hippie style from the ’60s, fringe is deeply rooted in Native American culture. Various tribes originally used strips of fabric (usually in suede, leather or buckskin) for a practical reason – to help shed rainwater from clothing. Nowadays, fringe is seen mostly as a decorative element on traditional Native American regalia. This spring, it’s making a comeback in haute couture. So how do you incorporate a trend with so much history into a modern wardrobe? Whether it’s a few sparse strands or a sweeping swath of strings, this season’s look is all about fun and flirty movement. Depending on the length, color and fabric, fringe can be tailored, sexy, classic or daring. From Gucci’s dark, edgy leather looks to Ralph Lauren’s Western-inspired neutrals to House of Holland’s bright and breezy beach vibe, fringe swung and shimmered its way down the runway in an array of styles during 2010’s London Fashion Week. With so much modern inspiration, there are countless ways to weave this Native American-inspired trend into your personal style. To keep the Native vibe, try suede or leather fringe on a simple accessory – fringe works well on belts, boots or scarves. Add a fringe-accented neutral tote to your wardrobe, and it

Fringe ruled the runway in many Spring 2011 collections. [1]House of Holland’s bright colors bring fringe into the 21st century. [2]Ralph Lauren mixes Western influences with shimmery fringe. [3]Roberto Cavalli pumps up the glamour in floor-length fringe. Earth+Sky


DESTINATION effigy mounds

Hiking into

History Earthen mounds connect modern America to its pre-Colonial past


estled in the heartland of the United States, enormous earthen mounds made by native tribes pay homage to culture, tradition and ancestry. Not unlike the Egyptian pyramids or England’s Stonehenge, these mounds are the relics of ancient peoples and a culture too often forgotten. The effigy mounds found in the Effigy Mounds National Monument were built between 800 and 1,600 years ago, making them an important part of the cultural history of North America. Other ceremonial mounds were built during what is now called the Woodland Culture, between 500 B.C. and 1200 A.D. Westward expansion by Europeans into territories of Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa uncovered these huge mounds of earth, but by that time the people who built them were no longer in the area. Many of the mounds were leveled or plowed for farms, and others were settled on as a refuge from potential floods. Two hundred mounds inside the park have been preserved, and mounds like the effigy monuments are not found anywhere else in the country. A trip to the Effigy Mounds National Monument in Harpers Ferry, Iowa, could be a great first step in retracing America’s past and connecting with the ancient. A word of caution: Driving inside the park isn’t allowed, so the only way to see them is via hiking. In a one-hour visit to the park, you can



view a video about the mounds’ history, visit the museum and walk to three mounds. Those unable or unwilling to hit the trails have two handicapaccessible loops to see the mounds. For the more adventurous, two or three hours will let you hike a steep two-mile trail to a wider variety of effigy and mound groups. The mounds vary in size. Some mounds are only a few feet high, but all can be seen from the sky. Others, like the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois, are hundreds of feet high and several acres wide. Mounds also come in four types: conical, linear, compound and effigy. Conical mounds were often used for burial sites, and are the most common mounds in the park. From above, these mounds appear circular. Linear and effigy models were ceremonial. Thirty-one effigies of bears and birds are preserved in the park. Archaeologists believe the effigies were meant to point to favored harvest lands, although no one knows for sure. A lack of human artifacts in the effigies also points toward ceremonial use, but because of their prehistoric nature, the exact ceremonial purpose remains unknown. Compound mounds combine linear and conical elements and are believed to have been primarily ceremonial. So, pack some water and lace up those hiking shoes, and we’ll see you on the trail. - Lauren Ratcliffe

photo/national park service

Two hundred earthen mounds are preserved within the Effigy Mounds National Monument park. Of the mounds, 31 are effigies in the shapes of bears or birds. They are thought to have marked favored harvest lands or to have been cultural idols.

A guide to the mounds Conical mounds are the oldest and most numerous mound type in the area. They date back 2,500 years and are circular in shape. The mounds range in size and height: they are 10 to 20 feet in diameter and 2 to 8 feet tall. Ancient people used these mounds as burial sites. They can be found throughout the eastern United States, especially in the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys. Linear mounds are between 2 and 4 feet high, 6 and 8 feet across and can be up to 100 feet long. They were built between 1,700 and 1,300 years ago. Compound mounds are conical mounds joined by linear mounds. They may mark a transition phase from conical to linear styles. These mounds usually have three or four conical elements, but the largest in the park has seven. Linear and compound mounds are only found in the Effigy Mounds region. Effigy mounds are mainly found in northeastern Iowa, southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and southeastern Minnesota. Bear and bird mounds are most predominant, but other shapes exist. A typical effigy is 2 to 4 feet high, 40 feet wide, and 80 feet long. Large bird mounds in the park have wingspans of 124 and 212 feet. The Great Bear Mound measures 137 feet long and 70 feet wide at the shoulder.


Visiting the Park


Cost: Free between Nov. 1 and March 31. $3 per person otherwise. Hours: Park is open sunrise to sunset.


Bear Effigy

Getting there: The park is located along the “Great River Road,� or Highway 76, which runs along the Mississippi River. The park itself is about 60 miles south of Interstate 90 and 130 miles north of Interstate 80. For more information, and nearby airports, visit planyourvisit/directions. htm.


WINTER+Spring 2011


photo/flickr/phillip c.

Tribes and the government are collaborating in order to bring law, order and money to help fight reservation crime “We are taking a monumental step forward in true nation-to-nation collaboration. It’s exciting for all of us involved, and it’s a long time coming.” — Tracy Toulou, the director of the Office of Tribal Justice. By Alex Linder ne quote is from a federal official and another from a local activist. Their messages are strikingly similar, in a way that federal and tribal statements historically have never been. It’s as if they are reading from identical cue cards. They even use the same word: collaboration. “Collaboration” usually comes off as a vague, bureaucratic term. Native Americans remember promised collaborations in the past that have led to broken promises and an increasingly strained relationship. But this time it’s different: Collaboration is spoken

O 24

“I don’t think we have ever witnessed this level of collaboration between the federal government and tribes. It’s really invigorating to see happen and makes me very hopeful.” — Ada Melton, the director of the American Indian Development Association.

like an epiphany from both sides. It seems both practical and possible. American dollars will back up the collaborative reform effort up front. A total of $127 million will be delivered over the next few years through a new streamlined grant process that hopes to work to efficiently give tribes what they need to fight crime and help victims. It’s another in a trend of reforms from the federal government demonstrating a commitment to Native issues. Tribes, officials, experts and police, all initially skeptical, are starting to fall in line. They are marking reservations up with more money and stricter regulations Earth+Sky

– more fearsome than any war paint – and are standing up together on the warpath against crime on the reservation.

A cumbersome mess Hallie Bongar White deals daily with a justice system that is broken. She is the executive director of the Southwest Center for Law and Policy in Tucson, Ariz., an organization that provides legal training and technical justice assistance to tribal communities. It’s a busy job, as many tribes have been ineffective at stopping criminal activity. Some of the highest crime rates in the nation are in reservations. The violent crime

It’s just crazy. If I go to France and commit a crime, then I’m not going to be charged by American police.

rate among Native Americans is 2.5 times higher than the national rate, according to the Department of Justice. Some reservations struggle with serious issues regarding astronomically high rates of sexual and violent crimes (see sidebar on Page 26). The problems start with area and resources. White says that an average tribal police force has to patrol an area as large as Delaware over a much more unfriendly landscape of deserts, prairies and mountains, and has to do it with only two dozen officers. “In some reservations, they’ll get a call and have to drive an hour before they can get there,” White says. “Once they do get there, though, another problem comes up. They don’t know how to investigate.” Tribal police have been historically understaffed, underpaid and underequipped. In 2008 the Associated Press reported that the Bureau of Indian Affairs had nine officers to patrol the 2.3 million-acre Standing Rock reservation. At times, just one officer was on duty to patrol an area the size of Connecticut. The BIA found that 2,380 officers serve an estimated 1.4 million Native Americans covering over 56 million acres of tribal land. The bureau estimates that almost 2,000 more officers are needed to bring reservations up to the national average of officers per citizens. Although the jurisdictional area is typically too large and policed by too few, White says the bigger problem is that tribal land isn’t actually controlled by tribal police. If a crime committed inside a reservation is a major felony, it falls to the FBI or BIA to investigate and prosecute. Tribal police do have jurisdiction of a misdemeanor committed on their lands, unless the perpetrator or victim is a nonNative, in which case it becomes a federal matter. Determining a person’s race and tribal status had become an essential

skill used by officers before other crime fighting basics like investigation. “It’s just crazy. If I go to France and commit a crime, then I’m not going to be charged by American police,” White says. “Tribes need jurisdiction over their own lands.” The convoluted system relies on the notoriously shaky relationship between federal and tribal police. White says mutual distrust has led to a lack of information sharing which has hindered the investigation and prosecution of numerous crimes. Investigations don’t turn up enough evidence, so federal prosecutors decline to try the case. Violent offenders can walk away or be charged in tribal court – formerly with a maximum of just one year in prison or a $5,000 fine. Damon Williams, supervising attorney for the Three Affiliated Tribes, a group of three tribes based out of the Fort Berthold Reservation, N.D., says that the dramatically high rates of trial declines, which have been over half in some violent crimes, are a complicated concern. “It’s not that attorneys don’t want to try the cases and put the bad guys away,” he says. “It’s just that they know that there isn’t sufficient evidence and they will lose.” Besides, they already have a backlog of cases that are building up –they’re understaffed too. Williams says that the problems are shared equally from police, to prosecutors, to tribal courts – all need to improve. “Money is something that we need, but it won’t solve all the problems,” he says. “We need to get the right kind of training to make sure that people know what they are doing.” White says that this lack of both resources and authority creates a unique situation of lawlessness. “Indian country is really like nowhere else,” she says. “It’s definitely not like we think of the United States today. It’s kind of like the Old West.” Only now the WINTER+Spring 2011


sheriffs look at a suspect’s race first and ask questions later – maybe. Despite efforts from justice advocates, reservation crime has been a persistent and dangerous issue. “It’s really been a cumbersome mess of a system,” White says. “It’s sad because many have moved away fearing these high crime rates, and really little ends up being known or being done about the problem.”

tribes that filled out applications for aid. In the application, tribes could select from 10 multiple-purpose areas ranging from enhancing law enforcement to serving sexual assault victims. “First, it’s a streamlining of the process,” Toulou says. “Second, it allows for more participation. Miraculously, the result is more specified federal assistance with less paperwork.”

A Collaborative Solution Following years of shocking crime statistics and exhausted calls from experts and activists, the federal government is making its move to reach out to tribal leaders and effectively fight crime on reservations. Not only has the federal government agreed to give funds to tribes, but it has also made it easy for the money to get to the proper place with the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) grants. According to Tracey Toulou, the director of the Office of Tribal Justice, who worked closely to develop these reforms, the CTAS grants are a massive overhaul of the former grant process, which some tribal officials had described as burdensome. The CTAS grants were awarded in September 2010 to hundreds of Native American

Ada Melton says that her tribe, the Pueblo of Jemez in New Mexico, was encouraged by the process and believes that it helped tribe officials come together in a great way. “Really, the process demanded a high degree of collaboration, and I thought we had to step up and deliver,” she says. Collaboration. There’s that word again. But what does it mean? “Well, it’s about

local and national collaboration,” Melton says. “The CTAS forced us to get together and talk about our issues and figure out how we together could address concerns for the best for the pueblo, instead of us all going about it individually and addressing ‘my’ concerns.” The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma received more than $2 million of the $127 million in grant money. Most Seminoles were relocated to Oklahoma following wars against the United States government and the Treaty of Payne’s Landing in 1832. More than a century and a half later the Seminoles and the federal government are working together. One area of grant focus was in giving tribal police the equipment and training they need to deal with the unique type of crime on reservations. Seminole Nation Whitehorse Police Department Capt. William Williams says some of the money will go toward purchasing two new patrol cars and to equipping all police vehicles with computers. Also, the grant will help purchase equipment to improve the county’s dispatch system. Williams says that before the grant money, all offices were not even operating on the same radio frequency. “These I think are essential tools that are commonplace in other areas of the

CRIME by the Numbers A 2000 report by the Justice Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than one-third of Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes and 40 percent will be victims of domestic violence, 2.5 times the national average. A 2007 report by Amnesty International called “Maze of Injustice” found that 86 percent of these sexual assault crimes were being committed by nonNative men to Native women. Some Native American women interviewed by Amnesty International said 26

they didn’t know anyone in their community who had not experienced sexual violence. These reports have not set off the kind of firestorm of reform and awareness needed to address this serious issue. So, 10 years later there is still an epidemic of sexual violence against Native women that many are unaware of. The 2009 edition of the FBI’s annual report, “Crime in the United States” found that some Native American reservations have very high incidences of rape and violent crimes. Here is data taken from some reservations.


per 100,000 individuals

Fort Apache Tribe, Ariz. 523 Navajo Nation, Ariz. 207 Tuttle Mountain Tribe, N.D. 154 Pine Ridge Sioux Tribe, S.D. 116 National average 29

Violent Crime

per 100,000 individuals National average 429

Fort Apache Tribe, Ariz. 1223 Navajo Nation, Ariz. 501 Tuttle Mountain Tribe, N.D. 1513 Pine Ridge Sioux Tribe, S.D. 869


PHOTO/native sun news

country,” Williams says. “We’re not like some tribes,” he says. “We don’t have boatloads of casino money. We depend on these kinds of funds. Without them we’d be bottom-up and without radio communication.” Another area of grant focus was the Tribal Sexual Assault Services Program aimed at lowering the alarming domestic violence rates on reservations. A total of $300,000 has been allocated for this purpose for the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. Heather Napier, director of The Seminole Nation Domestic Violence Program, says that the money will go toward financing numerous services for victims. “One area will be in victim advocacy,” she says. “Victim advocates are crucial in helping victims of sexual abuse to locate different resources and empower them. It’s discouraging when we aren’t able to fund these advocates or the programs they provide.” She says she has had to shrink her program’s services in past years, but now she’s able to invest and expand projects. One project will be the completion of a safe house for victims on the reservation, so that Native women don’t have to go off tribal lands to get help. “I am so grateful for this kind of funding,” Napier says. “I’m excited that people are finally listening and noticing what’s going on, and are making efforts to change things.”

Creating a new tradition The CTAS grants are just the most recent step in an effort to give Native Americans more resources and more control over crime on their lands. It follows the Tribal Law and

Order Act signed into law in July 2010. That act is expected to create substantial differences in the way reservations are policed. The act allowed for tribal police to become trained and certified for cross-jurisdiction, meaning that once on the crime scene these officers will know that they can make an arrest – even if the suspect is non-Native. Capt. William Williams has confronted problems of jurisdiction in the past and sees the act as a major change. “In the old system, we weren’t always able to enforce the law,” he says. “Sometimes, we had to hand cases over, and nothing made me madder. But once we get our officers trained there won’t be that wall anymore.” Ada Melton says the most important part of the act was that it gave Native courts the authority to issue felony sentences of up to three years. “It’s still just a slap on the wrist, but it’s a harsher one, and it actually provides some deterrent,” Melton says. Hallie Bongar White says she sees the justice situation improving from where it has been. She had been cautiously optimistic about the Obama administration’s dedication to improving Native policy, after years of encouraging talk but with little action. “But now I’m becoming a fan,” she says. “They have started to put their money where their mouth is and have started to turn their ears toward us, too.” Across the nation, many Native Americans are joining White. They are becoming warriors, standing with the government, instead of against. They could even agree on a chant. It may not be too catchy, but it will be crucial. “Collaboration!” WINTER+Spring 2011

Joined by tribal leaders and government officials, President Barack Obama signed into law the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. The Obama administration has made significant strides in bringing together tribes and the federal government.


Obama Administration Timeline

May 2008 President Barack Obama becomes an honorary member of the Crow Tribe and vows to protect Native American interests. Nov. 2009 Obama convenes a daylong conference on Native American issues. Declares, “you will not be forgotten.” March 2010 Obama signs the Indian Health Care Improvement Act into law, boosting health-care provisions for Native American communities. July 2010 Obama signs the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, meant to increase authority of tribal police and allow Native courts more power. Sept. 2010 The CTAS grants are awarded to tribes. 27

To Nowhere

By Lauren Ratcliffe



illustration/Sara Creef

Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team Fights for Sovereignty and the Chance to Compete on a World Stage


ven before the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team’s difficulty with international travel, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy was working to upgrade its documents. But when a bureaucratic snafu halted the team’s travel, the issue of Haudenosaunee passports and sovereignty garnered international attention. “Our goal is to produce identification documents that satisfy global standards, not just the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative,” says Karl Hill, chairman of the Haudenosaunee Documentation Committee and the Cayuga sub-chief. The Haudenosaunee people are waiting for new documents: Karla General, staff attorney for the Indian Law Resource Center and a member of the Haudenosaunee people, says that while their identification cards are working for now, she is waiting for the passport issue to be resolved. “Once they figure out what’s going on with the passport, I’ll be apply-

leaders, and Ansley Jemison, general manager of the team, says the focus of the team is on the game the Haudenosaunee invented and upholding the integrity they displayed over the summer. “We’re just making sure that we have a team that is fit and ready to go,” he says.






Lon Kah ghou se nawake

A Forfeited Summer The Thirty-five members of the Iroquois Nationals were stuck waiting to see if three governments would acknowledge their independence and accept their travel documents. At stake was the chance to compete in the 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships in Manchester, England. At stake was their identity and the sovereignty of their people. The world lacrosse organization, FIL, accepted the Iroquois Confederacy’s team into the league in 1990, and the Nationals are the only Native American team sanc-


The Nationals, ranked fourth in outdoor lacrosse and second in indoor competition, hope to use upgraded passports to travel to the Czech Republic in May. There they will compete in the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships.

ing for one,” she says. All Haudenosaunee people can apply for documents through their respective tribes. The team is already looking to its next international tournament in May. It’s registered for the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, and is readying a roster. Hill says it is feasible that new passports will be ready for the team by its travel date. The team, ranked second in the world heading into the tournament, wants to compete. Passports and politics are left to tribal


tioned to compete in international contests. This recognition in the tournament meant the Iroquois were seen as a separate nation of peoples, unaffiliated with either the United States or Canada, which also field teams. International competition is not new to the Nationals – two of the past four World Lacrosse Championships have been outside of North America. In 1994, England hosted the tournament, and the Iroquois team had no problems traveling. After Sept. 11, 2001, the United States initiated the Western Hemisphere Travel WINTER+Spring 2011

The Beginnings of Haudenosaunee sovereignty: The Two Row Wampum belt In the early 1600s, the Haudenosaunee first encountered Europeans. The Two Row Wampum belt is the Haudenosaunee symbol for the Two Row Wampum Treaty between the groups. The belt has a white background with two parallel purple lines. One line denotes the Haudenosaunee canoe, which carries the language, laws, customs and traditions of the people. The other line represents the European ship, which carries all languages, laws, customs and traditions of the settlers. “Together they’re traveling down the river of life,” says Karl Hill, chairman of the Haudenosaunee Documentation Comittee. The purple rows represent the paths the canoe and ship will take, neither outpacing nor contacting the other. Each group is distinct. “The people in the ship will not attempt to interfere with the governance of the people in the canoe, and likewise the people in the canoe will not interfere with the governance of the people in the ship,” Hill says. Subsequent treaties between the Haudenosaunee and European settlers were rooted in the tradition of the Two Row Wampum belt. Each group was seen, and treated, as sovereign. 29

initial request for visas and required that the team members have assurance from the United States that they would be allowed to return using tribal passports. Jemison says he didn’t foresee any problem with the request. “How would you deny Native people coming back to the U.S. of all places,” he says. “Then the State Department says ‘no’ and that was a huge shock.” The U.S. initially refused, citing an internal directive from 2008 which stated that tribal documents could not be substituted for U.S. passports for international travel. Media outlets jumped on the story and thrust the team into a frenzy of attention. Letters supporting the team were sent from around the globe. The Australian and Polish teams wrote them, and other Native American tribes voiced their support and praise for the team’s stance. Film director James Cameron decided to donate money to help the team, and eventually, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stepped in. The team was offered a one-time waiver to leave the country and return, and it seemed as if the team might make it in time to compete. But then another hurdle: The UK government changed its stance and chose not to honor the documents. While team leaders and government officials tried to sort out the mess, the players and coaches were stuck out of competition and in the spotlight. They unintentionally became representatives of the larger story of government recognition for native peoples, which made maintaining a normal routine challenging. “All of the sudden I had to be spokesman. I tried to maintain normalcy with the lacrosse


Instead of competing at the International Lacrosse World Championship in Manchester, England, the Nationals were stranded in America because of bureaucratic red tape. 30



Initiative, requiring heightened security documents. Tribal identification cards have still been accepted for land crossings between the United States and Canada. These measures started to cause problems for Haudenosaunee people traveling with tribal documents. But in 2002 the team successfully traveled using native passports to in Perth, Australia, for a tournament. The team members would not have to use their passports to travel to competitions again until the 2010 tournament, because in 2006 the tournament was held in Ontario, Canada, and tribal identification cards allow for U.S.-Canadian travel. Percy Abrams, executive director of the Iroquois Nationals, says he never anticipated the difficulties they would have in trying to compete in England. “It all started when we were attempting to take our travel documents to the UK consulate,” he says. “They wouldn’t even take our appointment to present our documents.” Injuries and coaching changes would have been difficult to handle, but bureaucratic red tape was something the Nationals were much less prepared to face. In an attempt to resolve the issues prior to the start of the tournament, they headed to New York City with a handful of days to spare to tie up the loose ends of paperwork and security scans and receive clearance and visas for a flight to England on July 11. They expected to travel as they had done in the 1970s and 1980s, even as they had done as recently as 2002. But a twist of events stranded the Nationals in New York until they bowed out of the tournament on July 16. The United Kingdom rejected the team’s

The Haudenosaunee people travel using their own passports because they see their identity as neither Canadian or American. Although they were offered the use of U.S. passports, Jemison says accepting them would have “compromised ourselves and our sovereignty.”

team,” Jemison says. “I tried to set up practices, team meals, make sure we had hotel rooms and that the guys were focused.” The team set up a scrimmage against a team in Staten Island, New York, and kept busy touring some of the sights, but Jemison admits there was a lot of time sitting in the hotel during their five day stint in the city. Midfielder Gewas Schindler says while the team was disappointed in the process, spirits remained high. “We stayed focused and upbeat through most of the week until final word came in that we weren’t going to play,” he says. “We had to stay focused on the team, on the tournament and on lacrosse.”

Identity Lacrosse runs deep in Haudenosaunee culture. The game is linked to religion for the Haudenosaunee, and is believed to be a gift from their Creator. And while the game’s origins can’t be traced with precision, oral history and legends from the Haudenosaunee reflect their deep connection to the game, as its inventors. One legend of the game depicts a competition between winged animals and four-legged animals. In the legend, two small fourlegged creatures, the mouse and the squirrel, asked to compete but were rejected by the ground team. When they asked the winged team, they were allowed to play. The mouse was given leather wings and became a bat, while the squirrel had its skin stretched to become a flying squirrel. The two creatures were invaluable in the

Continued on page 78

d i a b e t es Why Native Americans are at a higher risk and what you can do to lower yours



By Emily Evans retend for a moment you’re 8 years old. You have a family history of diabetes and both of your parents are overweight. You’ve listened to your doctors and your teachers talk about something called “diabetes” but you don’t really understand what that means. Your parents would love to give you nutritious meals of fresh fruit and vegetables every night, but good produce is expensive, and after a long day at the office your parents don’t always have the time or energy to cook. Your school lunches aren’t much better—your meals often include french fries, pizza and chicken nuggets. Recess and physical education classes have also been cut at your school. You know you should eat healthy foods and exercise, but you lack the resources with which to do so. If you’re like any of the millions of families living in the United States, this story is all too familiar. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Education Program, 18 percent of adolescents age 12 to 19 were classified as obese. The problem affects younger children, too. Twenty percent of children age 6 to 11 and 10 percent of children age 2 to 5 were also classified as obese. The Education Program also found that within the general American population, 10.7 percent of those age 20 or older have diabetes. Those are pretty sobering statistics. For Native Americans, however, that’s just half the story. According to the Education Program, if you are a Native American, your chance of developing diabetes doubles. That’s a pretty big leap, and it shows in the statistics: According to the Education Program, 16.5 percent of Native Americans over age 20 have diabetes. “While there are many different American Indian tribes in different geographic locations, I think … overall that American Indians suffer from higher rates of diabetes and probably higher rates of obesity than many other ethnic groups,” says Alice Ammerman, the director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. “In general, lower income and minority populations have higher rates of obesity, and diabetes has been a particular problem among American Indians.”


Defining a disease At its most basic, diabetes is actually a class of diseases, and there are several types, including one that develops during

pregnancy. The two most common (and most talked about) are Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 accounts for only about 5 to 10 percent of the diagnosed cases of diabetes in the United States, while Type 2 accounts for almost 90 percent. When someone is diagnosed with the condition of having an excess amount of sugar in his or her blood, usually due to problems with the sugarregulating hormone insulin, that person can be described as diabetic. “Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, lifelong disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to properly control blood sugar levels,” Ammerman explains. “Obesity has little to do with Type 1 diabetes.” Unfortunately, Ammerman says, the cause of Type 1 diabetes is still largely unknown. According to the CDC, people who have the disease must inject themselves with insulin or use an insulin pump in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adultonset diabetes, occurs when the body becomes insulin-resistant. In the past, it was only seen in adults and older populations,

Diabetes is represented universally using this light-blue circle symbol.

but children and adolescents are getting diagnosed more and more frequently with the disease every year, which spurred the name change. Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity, lack of physical activity, a family history of diabetes, old age, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It’s also associated with being a member of certain ethnic groups, including Native American. Type 2 diabetes is where an unhealthy lifestyle hits the hardest, Ammerman says. “While family history is important for Type 2 diabetes, obesity is the strongest risk factor.”

A toxic environment The numbers don’t lie—the Native WINTER+Spring 2011

American population is at a much higher risk of developing diabetes than the general population. Take the state of North Carolina, for example. Its Native American population is the sixth-largest in the United States, according to U.S. Census Bureau information from 2008. The population of 108,279 people (or almost 1 percent of the entire state’s population) is also the largest east of the Mississippi River, so the state is a good example. Ziya Gizlice, a statistician with UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health, says that Native Americans in North Carolina have a high chance of being overweight or obese, and also of developing or having Type 2 diabetes. “Based on the (CDC’s) 2009 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, prevalence of diabetes among N.C. adult Native Americans was 11.7 percent,” Gizlice says. “Prevalence of hypertension was 38.1 percent. The rate of obesity, or adults with a Body Mass Index of 30 and up, was 36 percent and another 35 percent were overweight, or had a BMI of 25 to 29.9.” But what is it about this particular population that makes its risk so much higher? The environment that some Native Americans grow up in can be to blame. Steven Wing, a professor in the UNC-CH School of Global Public Health, explains that one of the biggest factors in obesity is environment, especially if that environment is one of poverty. “The environment includes our agriculture and food systems, commercial marketing and the opportunities people have (or don’t have) for engaging in physical activity,” he says. Wing describes obesity as “an environmental issue and not simply an issue of genetics or personal choice … while those factors are very important determinants of how individuals respond to the environment, they do not explain the greater obesity of whole populations or the substantial time trends within populations.” Since obesity is the biggest risk factor for 33


Reduce Your Risk

Here are seven tips from the National Diabetes Education Program to help you get and stay healthy—and prevent Type 2 diabetes:


Find a way to incorporate exercise into your daily life. Park farther away, take the stairs instead of the elevator or take a quick walk with family or friends. Do sit-ups or push-ups while watching TV. You don’t have to jog for 10 miles to reap the benefits of keeping your body moving! Try lots of different activities to prevent boredom—you may discover a hidden talent or passion.


Seek out healthy choices such as fresh fruits and vegetables for meals and snacks, and think moderation. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods; just eat reasonable portions of them or save them for special occasions. Experiment with new recipes, or try making a big pot of vegetable soup or a colorful salad with whatever you have on hand. 34


People diagnosed with diabetes often have to use external means, such as taking medication or using insulin pumps, to survive.

Type 2 diabetes, Native Americans living in rural areas, in low-income areas, or simply without access to information about healthy choices tend to be disadvantaged and at a higher risk for obesity. It’s not just Native Americans who are at a higher risk, though they seem to be leading the pack. Besides African-Americans, Native Americans have the highest group diabetes death rate in the U.S. The Native American rate was 1.7 times as high as that of the general population, and 2.5 times as high as that of Asian Americans. “In our country, populations with low incomes, rural people and people who experience racial discrimination are disproportionately exposed to environments that promote obesity,” Wing says.

Reversing the trend So what can be done to change this? The U.S. government and the American Diabetes Association have created several programs to address Native American obesity specifically, including the Education Program. Programs that are aimed at the general population as a whole continue to increase as well, as the prevalence of obesity and diabetes across the country rises toward epidemic levels. In 2004, medical professions students at UNC-CH helped create a program called the Native Health Initiative to try to help local tribes like the Lumbee and Waccamaw-Siouan combat health problems, including diabetes. From 2004 to 2008, the program sent students as interns to work with the tribes. First lady

Definitions Diabetes, obesity, body mass index … medical experts toss these terms around with ease, but they can be confusing to the average person. Here’s a quick list to clear up confusion or help you on your next trip to the doctor:


A group of diseases that are characterized by high levels of blood glucose, or sugar. These high levels result from defects in insulin production or activity. The two most common types of diabetes are known as Type 1 and Type 2.


Type 1 diabetes:

Previously known as juvenile diabetes. This type occurs when the body stops making insulin. The cause of Type 1 diabetes is still unknown, and those affected by it must inject insulin into their bodies to survive.

Type 2 diabetes:

Previously known as adult-onset diabetes. This type is much more prevalent. It occurs when the body starts to become resistant to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. It is associated with genetics, obesity and physical inactivity, among other things.


Set realistic goals, like cutting 100 calories per day from your diet or adding 10 minutes of exercise. Build up slowly, only taking on what you can reasonably handle. You’ll be surprised how far you can go!


Eating fresh produce is one way to reduce your own risk for developing diabetes, and it’s also a great way to help to combat the disease in the community.

Michelle Obama has taken on preventing childhood obesity as a personal goal and operates a website called, full of helpful information, fun and healthy recipes and tips on living a more active life. Ammerman thinks that’s the best way to start. “It is important to address obesity at all levels – individual, family, organization, community, policy,” she says. Taking small steps, like seeking out fresh produce and adding in just a few minutes of exercise, can be a big help. More changes need to happen, though, to make these steps easier. School lunches need to provide healthier options, for example, and local food pantries need to stress the acquisition and subsequent donation of fresh produce. Workplaces can help too, by encouraging


This is a condition where a person has a higherthan-normal amount of blood sugar, but not high enough to be classified as diabetic. People with pre-diabetes are at an elevated risk for heart disease and stroke, as well as for developing Type 2 diabetes.

employees to join a gym—or even providing one in the building. Uniting an entire Native American community together would be even better. There’s a long way to go, and Native Americans are certainly at a disadvantage. But spreading the word and starting with education can lead to a better understanding of the disease and increase awareness in certain environments. With a clearer picture of obesity brought on by movements targeted specifically at Native Americans, diabetes can be a lot less overwhelming. The disease can’t be entirely prevented, but it can at least be slowed down—and that can be a glimmer of hope and a wake-up call for the busy and underserved 8-year-olds, and their friends and family, throughout the country.

Body Mass Index (BMI):


BMI is a measure that correlates a person’s height with his or her weight. It is commonly used for adults because it gives a fairly accurate measure of body fat.

An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.


An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

Source/the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WINTER+Spring 2011

Write it down! Keeping a food and exercise diary helps you chart your progress and stay motivated.


Find a support group in your area, or reach out to family and friends. You don’t have to go at it alone—making lifestyle changes is much easier with the encouragement of those close to you. Your dedication to health might rub off on those around you as well.


Don’t give up! It can be hard to make lots of small changes, or to make big ones and not see immediate results, but know that it’s all worth it. If you make a mistake, don’t give up—everyone slips occasionally. Just start again the next day.


Remember that every little bit counts. For an obese person, even losing 10 pounds can help lower the risk of developing diabetes.

Source/National Diabetes Education Program




illustration/nick yarbrough

More feeling than A

Examining the legacy of the American Indian Movement By Anna Norris he ’60s and ’70s were a time for standing up and fighting – think Woodstock, the Vietnam War and the African American civil rights movement. And although Native Americans were fighting too, it was a fight that was recorded by few and remembered by even fewer. What was documented of the American Indian Movement by the media paints a dramatic picture of Native American radicals encased in headdresses and spouting peace pipes. While such images and events certainly put AIM and its goals in the public eye, their lack of tangible achievements begs the question: What exactly did AIM accomplish?


Winds of Change By the late 1960s, Native American communities across the U.S. were in tatters. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), set up to administer the Native American population, took a colonial approach that fostered dependency. Outlawing ceremonies and rituals tore at the spiritual heart of indigenous communities while also destroying the governing institutions Native Americans already had. Government relocation

policies created in the 1950s to combat the so-called “Indian problem” drained reservations of their populations and attempted to incentivize Native Americans to start a new life in cities. But underfunding, lack of support to help the transition to urban living and often no work prospects usually meant these relocation projects ended in disaster. Racism and police brutality were also a common problem, documented in memoirs such as “Lakota Woman” by Mary Crow Dog and “Like a Hurricane” by Robert Warrior and Paul Smith. The first official installment of AIM came with the formation of the Minneapolis AIM Patrol in October 1968 by George Mitchell, Clyde Bellecourt, Dennis Banks and a handful of other Native American activists. The Minneapolis AIM Patrol initially spent their time patrolling the streets wearing berets and walkie-talkies to report acts of police mistreatment or outright violence against Native Americans. It was a small start, but soon blossomed to a larger call for public action about national issues. “I think that AIM grew out in large measure of shared feelings of being invisible, ignored and being discriminated against, particularly in urban areas like Minneapolis,” WINTER+Spring 2011

says Dan Cobb, professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Although AIM came at the same time as the African American civil rights movement, sometimes with overlapping support, there was one important difference. African Americans wanted in American society. Native Americans wanted out. And so political theatrics became most AIM members’ weapon of choice.

Putting the ‘Active’ in ‘Activists’ By the early 1970s, AIM had taken off in a flurry of organized protests and marches. Often taking the opportunity to wear their regalia and use iconic images such as the peace pipe, AIM members attempted to get the public to view Native Americans in a way other than stereotypes of poor, uneducated and addicted to drugs. And while there were still AIM members quietly lobbying Congress, it was the attention-catching and controversial actions of the movement that quickly overshadowed the quieter work of other AIM members. Such aggressive tactics seemed to produce a mixed bag of results. “I remember hearing things from the people in the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, where there was a real mix of 37

Photo/Akwesasne Notes

On March 24, 1973, around 10,000 people coordinated pro-Wounded Knee marches across America, calling on President Nixon to recognize the 1868 Treaty, which gave the Lakota nation land and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

AIM-inspired activist groups Women Of All Red Nations (WARN) Founded in 1974, WARN looked to address rights for Native American women. Many women in AIM found themselves playing subservient roles, so WARN became a network of support for Native women to speak up about various issues that affected them, such as domestic violence, improvement of educational opportunities and health and medical care. Native American Traditions, Ideals, Values Educational Society (NATIVE) Founded in 1993 by a Navajo mother, Betty Red Ant LaFontaine, NATIVE looked to instill the value of modern and cultural education in Native youths looking to balance contemporary lifestyles with their heritage. National Indian Youth Council (NIYC) The NIYC was the first independent Native student organization. Founded in 1961, the NIYC originally acted as a civil rights organization that was mostly concerned with tribal fishing rights in the Northwest. Today the NIYC focuses on improving public education for Native Americans and increasing their political participation. 38

white people [living among the]…Native Americans,” says Clara Sue Kidwell, who is of both Chippewa and Choctaw descent and director of the American Indian Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. “Members of AIM literally came through the town, threw rocks and broke windows and raised holy hell, then went back to the city. And it was the residents of White Earth that got left behind in newfound racial tensions that AIM had caused,” Kidwell says. In October 1972, members of AIM and several other organizations such as the National Indian Youth Council and the Native American Rights Fund sponsored a cross-country peaceful protest to bring attention to Native American issues such as living standards, discrimination and disregard for treaty rights. Participants called it the Trail of Broken Treaties and began the march on the West Coast. In early November, the protesters reached their final destination at the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. The original goal was to present the 20 Point Proposal by Native American intellectual Hank Adams, which addressed grievances toward the federal government such as treaty responsibilities that AIM members felt the government had failed to fulfill. Protest marchers ended up taking control of the BIA office for seven days, and when they stepped down, the 20 Point Proposal was rejected by the government. A little more than a year later on Feb. 27, 1973, members of AIM seized control of the town of Wounded Knee, S.D., in response to the poor living conditions of the nearby Pine Ridge Reservation, Earth+Sky

home to the Oglala Lakotas. Tensions on the reservation arose from allegations that Oglala tribal chairman Richard Wilson was controlling what little wealth and opportunity existed on the reservation, and shunting it toward friends and family. After a large group of AIM members swarmed the town, U.S. government forces including federal marshals and FBI agents promptly surrounded Wounded Knee. What followed was a 71-day standoff that involved constant gunfire from both sides, which eventually killed two AIM members and wounded 12 others, two of them FBI agents. Meanwhile, journalists and media outlets from across the country kept a constant chronicle for the public. AIM’s plight caught the attention of figures like Marlon Brando, who requested during the Wounded Knee incident that Sacheen Littlefeather refuse his Academy Award for “The Godfather” on his behalf. The Wounded Knee incident proved to be the end of the road for AIM. Wounded Knee caught the attention of the FBI and federal and state governments. These groups launched a massive attack on AIM, arresting 562 people on charges directly connected to the occupation, and dozens more on riot conspiracy charges. AIM had also begun to sprout competing factions within the movement, and the addition of countless government informants fostered a paranoia that became stronger than the unit’s cohesion. By the time AIM officially split into two groups in 1993, the AIM Grand-Governing Council and the AIM Confederation

Continued on page 79


Choose One: White African American Native American Hispanic Asian Other NATIVE AMERICAN IDENTITY is rooted both in culture and family heritage, yet the dichotomy of embracing traditional values and following a genetic line of ancestry is often blurred and complicated. By Latisha Catchatoorian Taking a standardized test while sitting in one of the 25 public school desks that lined my classroom was always puzzling. Yet my perplexity began before the test was opened and my first answer was penciled in on the scantron. From elementary school to middle school, my name would appear, accompanied by subsequent questions about my demographic, already answered by an unknown recorder. A frequent puzzling question: “race.” This four-letter word was followed by a series of bubbles. The tiny circle next to “White” was always darkened. This was bothersome. I wasn’t “White” – at 40

least not fully. I was African-American and Native American, too. Did American Indian or Alaskan Native mean the same thing as Native American? Should this circle and the “African-American” circle be bubbled next to “White” as well? What did the “Other” bubble mean? Was the “Multi-racial” bubble all-encompassing and therefore the correct answer? These questions about race and identity have grown in depth and complexity as I have grown. Questions about cultural identity and the percentage of “Native Americanness” encased inside my body are ones shared by other Native Americans and tribes across the country. And unlike that bubble sheet from years ago, these questions have no right or wrong answers. To some Natives and to some tribes, being an American Indian comes down to blood quantum – an umbrella term that Earth+Sky

can be defined as the degree of ancestry or a genetic bloodline an individual has relating to a specific ethnic or racial group. Because my maternal grandfather was 100 percent Cayuga from the Cayuga Nation of the Iroquois, I am 25 percent Cayuga. Additionally, I am 25 percent Caucasian, while the remaining 50 percent of my “blood” is a mixture of AfricanAmerican and Asian heritage. However, these standards of measuring someone’s “blood” were not always in place. “The standard came about because the Bureau of Indian Affairs struggled with a way to initiate the policy of the government,” says Malinda Maynor Lowery, a former assistant professor of history at Harvard University and now an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Congress decided that they wanted to break down tribal lands through acts like the Dawes

Act, but it doesn’t mention blood quantum at all. As the BIA tried to implement this, they tried to determine membership – one way was blood quantum. It doesn’t have a legal basis, but a policy basis.” The Dawes Act of 1887 was proposed by Congressman Henry Dawes for the allotment of land to Native Americans on specified reservations. The act was passed to ultimately “civilize” Native Americans as part of a civilization process that, according to Dawes, included owning property. But as Lowery said, there was no blood quantum requirement mentioned in the Dawes Act; blood quantum was created by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a way to enforce this policy. “I teach about blood quantum a lot,” says Lowery, a Lumbee from Robeson County, N.C. “It is a huge determiner of identity for a lot of different tribes.” She says that realistically, there is no such thing as blood quantum. That you can’t divide someone’s blood into chunks and say that part is Indian, that part is white or that part is black. Blood quantum is a tricky trending topic in Native American society. Some argue that it is important because it is proof of lineage. At times this lineage enables an individual to obtain federal rights and privileges unique to a specified tribe. Others say that it is not a true measure of a person’s ties to culture or tradition or even to a connectivity to their Native ancestry. “I think that although cultural identity and sentiments are important, as is a cultural sense of belonging, equally, if not more important, is blood quantum,” says Ingrid Johnston, a college student who is an eighth Cherokee from the Western Band of Oklahoma. “With so few


Being interested in a particular culture does not make you part of that culture. American Indians left in our country – less than 1 percent of the entire population – it is important to be and stay informed of one’s blood quantum and tribal and family history.” Danny Bell, a social research assistant in the American Indian studies department at UNC-Chapel Hill, has similar sentiments. “To me, being Indian is a connection to the Indian community, a participatory relationship,” Bell says. “But enrollment comes into play with the tribes, too. If you look at the Cherokee tribes, one has a one-fourth blood quantum, another one has a one-sixteenth blood quantum and the third has no blood quantum at all.” Bell’s mother is Lumbee, and his father is Coharie, both tribes in North Carolina. Although he is “full” Native American, he has only a 50 percent blood quantum in each tribe. In general, a person cannot be enrolled in more than one tribe. Tribes typically allow only enrollment in their own tribe and no other. Ethnically, Bell is 100 percent Native American, but tribally he is only 50 percent Lumbee. Bell says feeling as if you are Native American isn’t enough to him. He says that you must make an effort to be an active participant in your tribe and that some enrollment by some ancestor is also important. Bell says he sometimes has conflicting views on blood quantum because different people have different situations. Different situations have arisen, for example, through intermarriage between tribes.


Lowery says that it is common for tribal members to intermarry with members of other tribes or with non-Natives, diminishing blood quantum levels once these couples have children. “There are issues of membership for a tribe of blood quantum standards of enrollment,” Lowery says. “They see their tribal rolls vanishing because they marry whoever they marry. Eventually, these people don’t have blood quantum requirements to be on the tribal roll. Tribes want to maintain large populations because they are tied to other sources. But on the other hand, they have to be strict about who can belong to their community. Being Native isn’t just a cultural designation; it’s also political, a matter of citizenship.” Leslie Locklear, 19, is 50 percent Lumbee, 25 percent Waccamaw Siouan and 25 percent Coharie. She thinks Native American identity has a lot to do with feeling a part of the culture. However, she says sometimes this isn’t enough. She says that people can have the feeling that they are Native American without a blood quantum requirement. Yet occasionally, these individuals try to obtain benefits that are given to certain tribes, which takes away from “true” Native Americans. “Being interested in a particular culture does not make you part of that culture,” Locklear says. “One cannot completely understand the life of a Native American unless they themselves are either partially or 100 percent Native American, just as I cannot understand the life of an African-American because I am not African-American.”


WINTER+Spring 2011

Many of today’s Native Americans have mixed heritage. Some identify solely with their Native ancestry while others embrace their other ethnicities as well. It is difficult to look at a person and instantly judge how much Native blood he or she possesses.


Catc hato oria n photo/courtesy Latisha

My grandfather, Franklin Jones, and my grandmother, Barbara Norwig, cutting the cake on their wedding day, Sept. 20, 1958.

Locklear recounts a story of people she knew of non-Native descent who grew up in a Native American community. Upon their discovery that this group of Natives could possibly gain federal recognition, which could lead to more money for the community, they sought to pursue a Native American identity in order to reap some of the benefits. She says that such actions are wrong when many Native American tribes have to pass strenuous tests to prove that they are members of a tribe and deserve the benefits that come from tribal federal recognition. The relationship between national and state governments and Native American tribes has a long history of legal issues, unrest, tension and struggle. Federal recognition’s relation to blood quantum is more political and less cultural. Blood quantum is something that Lowery feels

should be left up to individual tribes. “Some people think that unfederally recognized Indians aren’t really Indian. Indian heritage versus Indian culture,” Lowery says. “What other kinds of definitions people want to impose is a conversation that we can have as a society, but what frustrates me is how the government questions our identity and doesn’t let the questions remain in the hands of Indians.” Historically, Europeans, white government officials and scientists have taken it upon themselves to determine the extent of Native American identity within an individual as if it can be measured. In 1936, Carl Seltzer, a physical anthropologist hired by the Office of Indian Affairs, came to Robeson County to measure the “Indianness” of a random group of about 200 Lumbees who were tested.He said that Native Americans didn’t have a

clear understanding of the word “Indian” and that “Indianness” could be measured. Only those with a measured blood quantum of 50 percent or more would be considered Native American. At this time, a group of Indians with 50 percent blood quantum or more was promised federal recognition. In one of the most absurd historical studies done on Native Americans, tests on lips, fingers, cheekbones, hair type and skin color were measured by Seltzer. One test included taking a pencil and sticking it into the hair of a Lumbee. If it fell out easily, meaning one had smooth textured hair, you were considered more Indian. “Out of the 209 people tested, only 22 were found to have half or more Indian blood,” says Lowery, who talks more in depth about the study in her book “Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation.” “One sibling would be half Indian and another full-blood sibling would be identified as less. It makes no sense at all. Racial ancestry and cultural association could be scientifically measured?” With the government and scientists questioning Native American identity based on physical signs of “Indianness,” what happens when Natives question other Natives about their identity or their blood quantum? Bell says that if someone questions another’s “Indianness,” they withdraw from a Native group or the part of themselves that feels Native American. Which brings us back to that bubble sheet sitting on my plastic desk in a

BY THE NUMBERS Tribal Enrollment Based on Blood Quantum









Mississippi Choctaws

(Indian Tribe of Utah)

(Eastern Band)


Percentage qualifications for enrollment vary according to tribe. Some tribes have no blood quantum requirement. 42


My grandfather, Franklin Jones, right, in his U.S. Air Force uniform. He was on active duty from 1953 to 1957.

photo/courtesy Latisha Catc hato oria n

classroom long ago. The word “race” questioned my “Indianness,” my Native American heritage, my blood quantum. I withdrew in fear as I swore I saw the “White” bubble enlarging on the sheet before my eyes. Aside from stories my mother used to tell about Papa Jones, the drawing of a long-nosed face with feather-adorned hair in the garage and the moccasins my little brother wore, I knew nothing about my heritage. But I did know that a quarter of the blood running through my veins was Iroquois, that I would bleed Native blood if Abby in the next desk over cut me with the kiddy-scissors. Was my bloodline enough? Or did I need to know more about what being Native American truly meant? “I have met many types of Indians, fullblooded and part Indian,” says William Morgan, a Lumbee with a fifteenth-sixteenth blood quantum. “Maybe the fullblooded Indian really didn’t have much to do with his or her culture, but the Indians that only have a little Native blood in them know a lot about their Indian culture. You might be full-blooded Indian, but in my opinion, if you don’t know anything about your culture, then your blood quantum doesn’t matter.” Morgan says that if he had to choose which was more important between culture and blood quantum, it would be blood quantum because other races can learn about Native culture, but that doesn’t make them Indian. He thinks both cultural awareness and an ancestral bloodline

are essential. Though Natives have personal preferences and perspectives about blood quantum being a determiner of “Indianness,” individuals like Morgan, Bell and Lowery don’t justify roles in which they can make judgments about someone’s cultural attachment or affiliation. “I don’t play identity police,” Lowery says. “I don’t feel in the position to judge. What I hope and like to see is people who have some sort of knowledge of their ancestry making a concerned effort to find out about the community they come from. It’s not about convenience or it being advantageous or glamorous.” Blood quantum, while sometimes politically advantageous to certain tribes, has historically been anything but glamorous for Native Americans across the United States and Canada. It goes back

to the “one drop rule” used to discriminate against African-Americans as well as other minorities. “We’re not ‘people of color,’” Bell says. “White people started this term to include black and Hispanic people as well. It takes away our Indianness. If people are going to talk about minorities, don’t do a blanket statement. Indians are different from each other as well as from other groups.” As I’ve come to learn more about my heritage and focus less on my blood quantum and race, I realize that I feel, culturally, more “Native American” than I ever have before. I’ve also embraced other parts of my blood unaccounted for by my Cayuga lineage. And so it seems that in that first-grade classroom 15 years ago, the “Other” bubble may have been the correct answer after all.

FEDERAL RECOGNITION Some tribal membership is linked to ancestry listed on census rolls such as the Baker’s Roll, the Dawes Final Roll and the Old Settlers Roll. These and other rolls can date back to the 1800s and 1900s.

Tribal membership is especially important if the tribe is federally recognized. Federally recognized tribes have access to certain government benefits.

Federal recognition is a governmentto-government relationship between a tribe and the federal government. This relationship can provide protection of resources, health care, educational benefits and social services.

WINTER+Spring 2011

Only federally recognized tribes receive full government benefits designated for tribes. The Lumbee tribe of North Carolina has the largest population of Native Americans east of the Mississippi River and is not fully recognized by the federal government. 43

By Kelsey Finn

What is peyote? Most know it as simply a hallucinogen or a substance taken to induce some spiritual experience or visions. But to James Warren “Flaming Eagle� Mooney, co-founder of Oklevueha Native American Church in Utah, peyote is much more.

The Daily Herald/PHOTO SOURCE





Richard “He Who Has the Foundation” Swallow, right, and James Warren “Flaming Eagle” Mooney, co-founders of the Oklevueha Native American Church, sit for a portrait at the Mooney home in Spanish Fork in July 2008.

“It’s a sacrament,” he says. “It’s like what the Catholics do when they take sacrament. It’s like what the Mormons do when they take sacrament. Catholics use wine and wafer. Mormons use water and bread.” In the Native American Church, the most widespread indigenous denomination in Native American religion, peyote is of highest importance. This small, spineless cactus has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States for healing and religious ceremonies for thousands of years, and they have fought to protect its use. The part of the peyote cactus that grows above the ground consists of disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the roots, then dried and chewed or boiled in water to make a strong tea. The extract is extremely bitter and often nauseating. Use of these buttons in religious ceremonies is referred to as Peyotism, which is generally synonymous with the practice of the Native American Church. The Native American Church was formally incorporated in 1918 in Oklahoma. Its first major leader, Quanah Parker, adopted the religion in the late 1800s after being gored by a bull. He claimed to have survived the attack with help of peyote. Parker taught that peyote was the sacrament given to all people by the Creator and was to be used when taking communion. Mooney says he first became a member of the Native American Church because he

was cured of bipolar manic depression by one of the church’s members. “The Oklevueha Native American Church, as all NAC churches are, is an earth-based healing religion,” Mooney says. Part of peyote’s position in this religion is stated on his church’s website: “Peyote may be experienced as a form of deity, but it does not dissolve kidney stones; it will not remove gallstones, and it cannot clear the arteries and heart of deposits of all kinds. It is not for peyote to cure and mend the asthma of millions or the diabetes of tens of millions. … But from the increased light added by peyote and now emanating from the transforming nature of the soul, mountains will be moved of epic proportions.” Interpretations of peyote’s effect vary from person to person. This is Mooney’s take on it: “It’s a truth serum, the way I would describe it. You see the truth and feel the truth of things. It has been a substance that the American Native culture has used for thousands and thousands of years for spiritual manifestations, primarily to bring them closer to what we call the Great Spirit.” Mooney quotes Parker, who famously said, “The White Man goes into his church and talks about Jesus. The Indian goes into his tepee and talks with Jesus.” Mooney, along with most members of the WINTER+Spring 2011

Does using peyote create psychological or cognitive issues? In a study published in 2005, researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital said no, it doesn’t. John Halpern, M.D., of the hospital’s biological psychiatry laboratory, actually found that members of the Navajo tribe who use peyote scored better on several measures of the Rand Health Inventory, which diagnoses psychological problems and determines overall mental health, than members of the same tribe who did not use peyote.


Peyote is a very powerful sacrament. It’s a teacher. It’s a healer. We only use 10 percent of our brain, so I think what peyote does is open you up so you’re more connected to the deity. Native American Church, believes that peyote is one of the means by which he talks with Jesus.

Outside the Native American Church Though Peyotism is typically tied solely



to the Native American Church, there are other organizations that have adopted some form of this Native American tradition. Anne Zapf, secretary of The Peyote Way Church of God in Arizona, explains that her church invites people of all backgrounds to participate in Peyotism. “The Peyote Way Church is nondenominational,” she says. “We say that we are multicultural because we do have members from all religions and all races.” The church also has several Native American members and attributes its beliefs to Native American values. “It’s definitely Native American wisdom that we’ve renewed or reconnected with,” Zapf says. According to its website, one of the church’s goals is “to make the entheogenic experience available to seekers.” It achieves this through “spirit walks,” which are three-day ventures into private places in nature that involve fasting and peyote. “What we provide is a safe place where people can be solitary and yet still have someone around to help,” Zapf says. “A spirit walk is a solitary experience. On the arrival day, you start to fast for 24 hours. The next evening, you’re given a cup of tea of pure peyote and instructions on how to ingest the tea for the most benefit and the least vomiting. And then you spend the night out and come back and rest in the morning. The third day is the rest and recuperation day.” Zapf stresses that spirit walks inspire different reactions for different people. “If you talked to some of the people who have taken spirit walks, you’d be getting some pretty heavy answers,” she says. Earth+Sky

“Peyote is a very powerful sacrament. It’s a teacher. It’s a healer. We only use 10 percent of our brain, so I think what peyote does is open you up so you’re more connected to the deity. It renews the body-mind-spirit connection. There’s spiritual awareness, spiritual growth. It’s gotten for me that I don’t even try to describe to someone what their spirit-walk experience is going to be, except for the basics: you may be nauseated; you may throw up. And then what happens is really based on how prepared you are to receive this sacramental experience. It’s between you and your deity.”

Legal issues The ban on peyote use for recreational purposes is clear. Peyote is classified as a Schedule I hallucinogen in the U.S., meaning there is no medical reason for it to be possessed, sold or used. Any of these can result in penalties including imprisonment and heavy fines. However, the formal incorporation of the Native American Church made the use of peyote part of an established religion rather than just a cultural tradition. The First Amendment guarantees freedom to practice religion, so declaring peyote use illegal in the Native American Church would easily be argued as a violation of the First Amendment. But in 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in Employment Division v. Smith that religious use of peyote by Native Americans was not protected by the First Amendment. This was finally contradicted in a 1996 amendment to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act that protected the right of Native Americans to use peyote for traditional ceremonial purposes of traditional Native American religions. Most churches in the Native American Church will issue member cards. “Because of the exception to the laws of the Native American Church to partake of peyote, a person that belongs to a federally recognized tribe has a card to prove that he is a member if he happens to be stopped with some peyote,” Mooney says. “But for a non-federally recognized member of the Native American Church, we have to supply

cards to those people so that we can prove Native people from throughout the to legal authorities that they have the Southwest will come down to the valley right to possess peyote. In our particular where my family’s from, show their permits, church, we ask for a contribution of $100 once they have done the ceremony, and and my family will sell the peyote to them. then we will give them a card. And that’s a They can only sell to people who have one-time life fee.” membership in the Native American Church. When it comes to churches like The Peyote Way Church of God, non-Native American South Texas, and that’s where a lot of traditions. Every tribe has something difmembers are not legally allowed to possess peyote grows, so they have permits to sell it,” ferent. And you usually don’t leave until peyote in most states, even with a member- Brayboy-Guerrero says. “So Native people you have some kind of contact with the ship card. Only six states protect non-Native from throughout the Southwest will come spiritual world.” American peyote use: Arizona, New Mexico, down to the valley where my family’s from, Brayboy-Guerrero says he often feels as Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota and Oregon. show their permits, and my family will sell though he is part of two cultures. the peyote to them. They can only sell to “It’s really interesting, because people In the middle people who have membership in the Native from all over the Southwest and Oklahoma Coty Brayboy-Guerrero, a senior Ameri- American Church, and they’re typically drive to South Texas to buy the peyote,” can Indian studies major at the University found in the Southwest and in Oklahoma.” Brayboy-Guerrero says. “My family doesn’t of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who is Brayboy-Guerrero has a good understand- really talk about selling the peyote. They Tuscarora and Mexican-American, has ing of peyote ritual from classes and friends. sell it, but they don’t really know what it’s never used peyote. “Usually what they’ll do is they’ll go in being used for. They know it’s being used “I’m not a member of the Native American and they’ll take the peyote and put it in in a church, but they don’t really know the Church,” he says. “I’m Pentecostal. But I tea and drink it while it’s hot,” he says. meaning behind it and how it’s used to know a lot about it, and I have several “My friends tell me it tastes horrible. And connect the spirits. I don’t mean to sound friends who are members.” then it takes a few minutes for it to kick cliché or that all Indian people are conBrayboy-Guerrero also describes peyote as in, and they’ll start singing or start playing nected to the earth or trees or how we’re a sacrament that allows people to operate in their drums and reading scriptures from stereotyped, but in actuality, it’s used to the spiritual rather than physical realm. But the Bible. They’ll sing Christian hymns communicate with another realm.” he sees its use from a different perspective. or traditional chants, and they’ll go back So what is peyote? A drug, a sacrament, “My Mexican-American family is from and forth between Christianity and their a crop—it all depends on the person.

Peyote Statutes by State

Only on reservation Native American descent required NAC membership required Must be used within NAC ceremony NAC membership required AND must be used within NAC ceremony Bona fide religious organization membership required Sincere religious intent required Illegal

WINTER+Spring 2011




Photo/Laura Hoxworth

The Green River Preserve, a summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina, aims to connect young campers with the natural world. Activities include hiking, camping, fly-fishing and pottery, and older campers have the opportunity to participate in a Native American-style sweat lodge.

Adapting a Lakota spiritual tradition teaches children about Native American culture By Laura Hoxworth aking one last, deep lungful of cool mountain air, I bent my head to duck through the small opening of the domed shelter before me. The thick layer of tarps draped carefully over the top instantly shut out all light inside the small space, creating an atmosphere of eerie tranquility, a sharp contrast to the beautiful summer day in the woods. Crawling toward the back of the shelter, I focused

T 48

on my breathing and the feel of the dirt beneath my hands to shut out the tinge of claustrophobia I felt creeping at the edges of my consciousness. Working as a counselor at The Green River Preserve, an environmental summer camp for second- through twelfth-grade children in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, this is how my first experience with a Native American-style sweat lodge began. I signed up for it largely out Earth+Sky

of curiosity. While I knew that a sweat lodge was a spiritual ceremony and a sort of purifying steam bath, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But I was intrigued by the opportunity to learn more about Native American culture. Many of these types of lodges, inspired by Native American culture but led by nonNatives, exist across the country as more and more non-Natives become interested in reconnecting with the earth through



Photo/Wikimedia Commons

Photo/Robert Freshley

The structure of a traditional Lakota-style sweat lodge has remained nearly unchanged throughout centuries. The frames of both this historical sweat lodge (left), and this modern version (right), were made from willow poles tied together in a domed shape. The pit, where the heated stones are placed, rests in the center of the lodge. The door is placed facing the East, with the fire that heats the stones about 10 feet in front of the door. An altar, on which participants can place sacred objects before the ceremony, rests in between.

Native American spiritual traditions. The Green River Preserve, located on a 3,400acre private wildlife reserve, aims to teach campers appreciation for the natural world through outdoor activities as well as Native American traditions such as the sweat lodge. Ben Wyrick, an educator at the preserve, led the ceremony I participated in. While fashioned mostly after a Lakota-style lodge, it was what Wyrick calls a Green River-style sweat lodge, meaning that the process was inspired by Native American culture but adapted for the camp’s uses.

The history At the preserve, the sweat lodge is a small part of the camp experience. Only a few staff members have the knowledge to lead them, and they’re only offered as an optional activity for older campers. But in the Native American culture, the sweat lodge is an important tradition with a deep, complicated history. The Spanish were the first Europeans to describe a sweat lodge-type ceremony among the native peoples of Mexico, but the practice is not specific to any tribe or native culture, or even to North America. Various types of sweat lodges can be found everywhere in the world, and the customs vary from culture to culture. Depending on the specific tribe and tradition, lodges can be made from willow poles, mounds of earth or planks of cedar. Sometimes the heat comes from a fire built within the lodge, and sometimes it comes from steam created by water

poured on hot stones. Today, most modern sweat lodges in North America are fashioned after the Lakota-style sweat lodge, called an Inipi. This style of lodge is typically made of saplings bent into a dome shape and covered with blankets, tarps or hides. The heat comes from stones that are heated on a fire outside the lodge, then brought into the lodge and doused with water to create steam. Due to its increasingly widespread practice today, the sweat lodge can be a controversial topic. The Inipi is one of the Seven Sacred Rites of the Lakota people, meaning the ceremony is a sacred experience and an important element of the Lakota culture. But many modern ceremonies claiming to be Native American sweat lodges are innacurate imitations. The practice attracted press and criticism in 2009 when a pseudo sweat lodge in Arizona, part of a meditation and spirituality conference led by self-help author James Arthur Ray, left two people dead and another 19 hospitalized. Because of such inauthentic replicas that exploit the tradition for personal gain, the commercialization and practice of sweat lodges by outsiders are points of contention for many Native Americans. Some believe that the privilege of leading, or pouring, a sweat lodge should be reserved for Natives. But WINTER+Spring 2011

others believe that the sweat lodge, when conducted with proper respect, is a powerful way for interested and respectful outsiders to learn about and connect with the culture.

The process At the preserve, the sweat lodge is modeled after the Lakota Inipi. In this tradition, the preparation is an important part of the process, from assembling the lodge to building the fire. Each step has a special meaning to the ceremony. “It takes so much preparation, but that’s what’s cool about it,” Wyrick says. In the sweat lodges he leads, participants make prayer ties, pinches of tobacco wrapped in colored pieces of cloth, as part of the preparation. Each prayer tie represents one of the cardinal directions and one of the four rounds of the sweat lodge. “Making the prayer ties gets you to think about what you want to accomplish in the ceremony,” he says. The actual ceremony consists of four rounds, one for each cardinal direction. The length can vary considerably depending on the type of sweat lodge, but in the ones Wyrick leads, each round is roughly 15 minutes long. After all the preparations have been made and the participants have entered the lodge,


the leader begins the sweat by bringing in the red-hot stones, called Grandfathers or Stone People, and dousing them with water. During each round, participants sing, chant, talk to one another and pray to the Wakan Tanka, or Great Mystery. At the beginning of each round, the leader splashes the stones with more water, creating more steam – and more heat. The temperature in a sweat lodge can also vary, but it is generally similar to the heat in a sauna, around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The first round is for the East, and the focus of that round is on hope and new beginnings. The second round, for the South, is about putting thought into action. “I also associate physical healing with that round,” Wyrick says. “If you want to pray for someone who’s sick, that’s a good time to do it.” The third round, for the West, is about endings and finding closure. The final round, the round for the North and the hottest of them all, is about self-reflection and improvement. “You turn your gaze inward and think about how you can improve yourself,” Wyrick says. “You think about, what wisdom do you have to make yourself a better person?”

Photo/Jeff Talbott

Ben Wyrick, an educator at The Green River Preserve summer camp, learned how to lead a sweat lodge while working at the camp. “I always thought Indians were so cool because they live so close to the earth,” he says. 50

When you go into the sweat lodge, you come out as a brand new human being. The purpose Because of its rich history and tradition, the sweat lodge ceremony is attached to many legends and layers of symbolism. Most commonly, the experience is believed to symbolize a rebirth. “When you enter the lodge, you’re re-entering the womb of mother earth, and when you exit you’re being reborn out onto the world,” says Steve Willig, a former staff member at the preserve. After becoming interested in Native American culture during the 1980s, Willig learned the rituals of the sweat lodge from several Native teachers from different tribes, including a Blackfoot elder from Montana and Dennis Banks, the co-founder of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. After four years of training, Willig was authorized by Lakota elders to lead sweat lodges in the Lakota tradition. He has been leading them for about 20 years. “I liked the symbolism of it,” he says. “I clearly remember when I exited the sweat lodge that first time, having that sense of being reborn and looking up and seeing the stars and seeing the silhouettes of the trees in a very fresh way.” For many, the ceremony is largely about the spiritual experience. “The main purpose of a sweat lodge is for everybody to go in and pray and to get closer to the Creator and the spirits,” says Willig. “In the American Indian tradition, we believe that spirits are real and that they will listen to you when you talk to them and when you pray and that they’ll help you,” he says. Willig has participated in several lodges where participants come to pray about a specific person or situation. “But other times,” he says, “people get together simply in order to renew their connection to the Creator and to pray.” But just as the actual process can differ among tribes and types of lodges, so can the purpose of a lodge. Aside from the spiritual purpose, the ceremony has been used for both physical and mental healing, a kind of purification of body and mind. Depending on the specific sweat, it can be a bonding experience within a community or a personal spiritual journey.

The campers But at The Green River Preserve, the focus is on learning. While the campers can benefit from the spiritual and cleansing aspects of a sweat, the main purpose of Earth+Sky

the sweat lodge at the preserve is to share aspects of Native American culture with campers. “I love working with kids in general, and doing sacred work like that with kids was very powerful to me,” says Willig. Wyrick says he enjoys sharing the sweat lodge ceremony with campers because it’s a type of experience that few of them have the opportunity to participate in outside of the preserve. Aside from learning about a culture outside their own, they have the chance to benefit from a powerful spiritual experience. “I think there are very few really high-powered religious experiences in the lives of these kids,” he says. “It’s not just a preacher preaching at them. It’s a totally new experience.” There are, of course, differences in the experience when sharing it with children. The process has to be camp-friendly, which means that some traditional practices, such as participants being nude, aren’t appropriate. “The first time I [led a sweat lodge] for kids, I was a little unsure of how they would take to it,” says Willig. Wyrick agrees that leading the ceremony for campers, most of whom have never experienced anything like a sweat lodge before, requires a different mindset and being attuned to the campers’ concerns. “It’s a unique experience,” he says. “It can be scary.” Traditionally, sweat lodge participants often fast before the ceremony. Wyrick always fasts on days he leads a sweat lodge at the preserve, but although he encourages the children to fast if they feel comfortable, he recognizes that it can be too difficult for campers who have never experienced fasting before. “You should never force a kid to do things,“ he says. He holds the same philosophy when it comes to the intensity of the ceremony. While he wants it to be an authentic experience for the campers, he also wants it to be a safe and positive experience. “I like people to be pushed to their limits, but to be able to stay in the whole time,” he says. But in the end, the staff who have led lodges at the preserve say the experience has been positive for them. “It was very inspiring to do it with the young people there,” says Willig. “I found that they did everything just right. They were respectful of the ceremony and of the protocol that one’s supposed to follow. They went in with the right intention – to pray and to feel closer to the earth and to everything that


uring a traditional Lakota-style sweat lodge, participants sing songs and chant in the Lakota language. The Four Directions song is traditionally sung at the beginning of the ceremony. “It’s supposed to welcome in all the Grandfathers, all the spirits, from all four directions,” educator Ben Wyrick says. “It’s a welcoming song.” The cross symbol in red, yellow, white and black represents the four directions, an integral part of Lakota spiritual traditions. Each cardinal direction is associated with a color and a representative meaning. Although it varies among groups and individuals, one of the most common interpretations is this:

BLACK: West+Power RED: East+Enlightenment WHITE: North+Wisdom YELLOW: South+Innocence we live on earth with.” Mike Sanderson, a biologist and former staff member at the preserve, led sweat lodges for rising 9th- through 12th-graders as part of the preserve’s programs for high school-age students. He says the campers’ age and inexperience only make the ceremony more powerful for everyone involved. “In terms of the quality of the experience, I think probably the best sweat lodges that I’ve ever done have been with those kids,” he says. “I think there’s an honesty about that age. It’s a big transitional period in your life. And when you go into the sweat lodge, you come out as a brand new human being. They were the most powerful sweat lodges I’ve ever been a part of.”

The modern sweat lodge With so many different types of sweat lodges and the controversy surrounding lodges led by non-Natives, Willig says he’s very careful to only participate in lodges led by people he feels are not only qualified, but also leading them with the right attitude and respect for the ceremony. “There are, I’m sure, a lot of people who

Translated by Calvin Standing Bear, a full Oglala/ Sicangu Lakota from the Rosebud reservation of South Dakota.

Wiohpeyata etunwan yo Nitunkasila ahitunwan yankelo Cekiya yo, cekiya yo Ahitunwan yankelo

Look toward the West Your Grandfather is looking this way Pray to Him, pray to Him He is sitting there looking this way

Waziyatakiya etunwan yo Nitunkasila ahitunwan yankelo Cekiya yo, cekiya yo Ahitunwan yankelo

Look toward the North Your Grandfather is looking this way Pray to Him, pray to Him He is sitting there looking this way

Wiohinhpayata etunwan yo Nitunkasila ahitunwan yankelo Cekiya yo, cekiya yo Ahitunwan yankelo

Look toward the East Your Grandfather is looking this way Pray to Him, pray to Him He is sitting there looking this way

Itokagata etunwan yo Nitunkasila ahitunwan yankelo Cekiya yo, cekiya yo Ahitunwan yankelo

Look toward the South Your Grandfather is looking this way Pray to Him, pray to Him He is sitting there looking this way

will simply do them without really knowing what they’re doing, without really having the experience that one should have,” he says. “I think that most people who do them have the right intentions, but I think that just having the right intentions isn’t always enough.” Sanderson emphasizes that Green Riverstyle sweats, while based on a traditional Lakota sweat, are never presented as anything more than inspired by Native culture. “We were very careful to make clear that we were not trying to be Cherokee or Navajo or Lakota or anything like that,” he says. “We would honor their traditions, but didn’t try to make it something that it wasn’t.” Sanderson, who learned the specifics of leading a sweat lodge from both white and Native teachers at the preserve, believes the intention of the leader is most important. “I asked [my Native teachers] their opinion,” he says, “And they all pretty much said the same thing. The sweat lodge – no one owns it. No one has a copyright on it. As long as you’re being as honorable as you can toward the traditions of the cultures you know, then they didn’t see any problem with it.” WINTER+Spring 2011

The experience Seeing nothing but the glowing red rocks and hearing nothing but the sizzle and hiss of water bursting into puffs of steam, I began my first sweat lodge ceremony with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. And it was an intense, difficult experience. But conquering those fears and embracing the difficulties meant that I had the opportunity to experience something unlike anything else I have ever experienced. “There’s no greater sense of being directly in the moment than in the sweat lodge,” says Sanderson. “It’s probably the most powerful meditative and spiritual cleansing experience that I know of.” At the end, when I crawled out of the stifling heat and collapsed onto the cool earth, I felt grateful to be finally breathing cool, dry air. But I also felt grateful to have experienced such an important aspect of Native American culture. I gained a deeper appreciation of the complexity and importance of this ritual. “Sweat lodges are a very powerful practice,” says Willig. “They can be very transformative to a person and really help to keep one connected to one’s spirit and to the universal spirit.” 51


By Jacqueline Scott



Two students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Both grew up in Lumberton, N.C., and both are members of the Lumbee tribe. Each, however, has a different way of celebrating and honoring her culture.

Take One

Take Two

pril Hammonds, a 21-year-old Lumbee Indian, grew up in Lumberton, N.C. Though only a 10-minute drive separated her from Pembroke, N.C., the center of the Lumbee tribe, Hammonds was exposed more to diversity in the classroom at a young age than she was to the Lumbee culture. Her family chose not to attend powwows, and she didn’t wear Native American regalia. She attended a more modern Christian church rather than the traditional Native American church. Despite joking with classmates that her family celebrates Thanksgiving by pitching a tepee in her backyard, slaughtering a turkey and donning buffalo hides, Hammonds celebrates her heritage through pride alone. The activities, outfits and beliefs do not define the culture for her. “For me, my parents aren’t in tune with Native American culture,” she says. “I did have a different childhood than what people would define as Lumbee. My parents raised me for me to know I was Lumbee.” Isolated from the large number of Native Americans in Pembroke, Hammonds was exposed to diversity in high school. She was surrounded by all ethnicities. Diversity beckoned Hammonds to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her decision was never based on finding a school boasting a large percentage of Native American students. If that was the case, she could have gone to school 10 minutes away to the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, home of an American Indian studies department. UNC-Pembroke was established in 1887 for Native Americans. Since 1953, it has had a multiracial student body. Because of its heritage, the university offers a program to educate students about the rich diversity of Native American history and culture. Many Native American professors teach the classes. Native Americans account for 16 percent of UNC-Pembroke’s student population, the thirdlargest ethnicity after Caucasians and blacks. One visit to UNC-Chapel Hill, however, cemented Hammonds’ affinity for the diversity seen in students. Her decision was not contingent on surrounding herself with other Native Americans. Native Americans account for less than 1 percent of the student body. But Hammonds was determined to bring awareness

organ Locklear, a 20-year-old Lumbee Indian, grew up in Lumberton, N.C. Throughout her childhood, she often visited her grandparents at their home in Pembroke, N.C. Even today, she spends most of her time in Pembroke while home because of those deep ties to friends and family. Locklear attended a Native American church, advised by her parents to keep in touch with her culture. Locklear’s family also attended powwows. “Native American church, for me, was like going to church with a big family,” she says. “Everyone knew everybody, and people felt free to say what they wanted and to worship how they wanted without the feeling of being judged.” The Native American church is a religious denomination that practices Peyotism. Peyotist beliefs, which combine Native American and Christian elements, vary from tribe to tribe. They involve worship of the Great Spirit, a supreme deity who deals with humans through various other spirits. In many tribes peyote is personified as Peyote Spirit and is associated with Jesus. The Native American Church refuses to accept the doctrines or canons of any one Christian sect. Its practices and beliefs attempt to reconcile Christianity with traditional Native symbolism. Ritual life centers on the use of peyote, a small, spineless cactus that contains stimulants related to sedatives related to morphine. Native Americans believe that peyote enables them to partake of the Holy Spirit, as Christians do through the wine of the eucharist. Locklear worships those spirits through singing old hymns and rejoicing during sermons. Through dance and ritual at powwows, Locklear honors her ancestors. “We give thanks to those who came before us to give us the freedom to practice our religion today.” Attending a small Lumberton private school, Locklear was one of three Native Americans, along with her two younger brothers. Early on, her parents taught her and her brothers about their heritage and to take pride in it, even when they, as Native Americans, accounted for a small percentage of their student body. Then, in 10th grade, she and her brothers switched to a Pembroke high school. The student population was about 90 percent Native



WINTER+Spring 2011


Even though we make up less than 1 percent of the student body, we do exist. I want to rekindle that fire. I want people to embrace diversity and their race.

April Hammonds


to her culture and to participate in Native American organizations. “It was a huge thing for me as a minority student,” she says. “I wanted to be a part of my culture but yet I didn’t want to be so immersed in it. Coming to Carolina, I was not a leader. I was kind of shy. I didn’t know how I was going to leave a mark on Carolina.” As a senior sociology major, Hammonds has explored the roots of her culture since freshman year by becoming active in different organizations, including Project Uplift, an organization that promotes access to diversity within the student, faculty and staff community. When class topics segue to Native Americans, her interest is piqued, “I’ve always had a love for education,” she says. “We’ve talked about Native Americans in my sociology classes. People were surprised they still existed. Even though we make up less than 1 percent of the student body, we do exist, and it’s my purpose to get the word out. I want to rekindle that fire. I want people to embrace diversity and their race.” Those few discussions of Native Americans, however, opened her eyes to the ignorance of peers to her culture. That

one class provided her with her answer: she would leave her mark on UNC-Chapel Hill by educating others. Hammonds is president of the Carolina Indian Circle–an organization that assists Native American students academically and socially– president of Alpha Pi Omega – a Native American interest sorority– and vice president of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) – an organization that hopes to increase representation of Native Americans in fields of science. But her involvement doesn’t end there. She also volunteers at the campus American Indian Center, located on campus, and heads the campus Minority Student Recruitment Committee (MSRC). “I’ve learned to have this deep love for these organizations because I want to make that mark on students,” she says. “I want these students to give back to UNC and influence students to embrace minorities.” When she was a freshman, Hammonds struggled to find acceptance from others, even from her own culture. She became involved in campus clubs, but despite the camaraderie among her peers, there was a still a sense of alienation.


“At first glance, no one knows what you are,” she says. “You’re probably the first Native American person people will meet at college. People are very ignorant about what Native American culture is. People think that because I’m not wearing regalia, I’m really not Native American.” Hammonds says people were often puzzled about her ethnicity because of her hair, light skin and the lack of dialect, all of which did not conform to their views of Native Americans and Lumbees. The Lumbee dialect is described as a rich Southern accent. While Hammonds does speak with a Southern accent, people heard the distinction in her accent compared to other Lumbee students. “I’ve come to the terms with the fact that me being Lumbee doesn’t define me,” she says. “My parents didn’t want me to use my race as a crutch. They wanted me to do things on my own with no constraints. I have come to terms with the fact that though I may have not grown up in Pembroke, that doesn't mean I can't be Lumbee. “Being Lumbee or Native American is greater than the communities we stem from.”

Tracing the Tribe The 55,000 members of the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina reside primarily in Robeson, Hoke, Cumberland and



My grandparents and parents alike have taught me that I can do anything regardless of where I come from or my race.

Morgan Locklear PHOTO/ALEX PEGG

American. It was a complete 180-degree turn – going from diversity exposure as an outsider in a private school to immersion in her own culture at a public school. “I wanted to be around people of my own culture,” she says. “I wanted to actually experience being around my own people. It was very different transferring schools because since I had not grown up with these kids, I was considered an outsider. I dressed differently and spoke differently. “This was culture shock in a way for me considering I had never been to school with other Native students.” While no students wore Native American costume or regalia, Locklear says she felt her style was more modernized. Now at a school with people of her own ethnicity, she felt a sense of alienation. “I wore clothes that resembled the Caucasian counterparts I went to private school with,” she says. “Many of the kids could tell I was a transfer student by my accent. They could automatically tell where I was from. They would say I would talk ‘white.’” The need for college diversity and her family’s legacy at UNC-Chapel Hill led her

to follow in the footsteps of her father who attended UNC’s medical school, her mother, who attended the School of Public Health and her brother who is currently attending medical school. That sense of legacy created a deep tie to the community and the university. “Growing up, I came to UNC all the time, whether for football games or medical conferences with my parents,” she says. “I feel that I was exposed to diversity in my early childhood, more than the other students coming from my high school. But I feel that no other diversity can compare to Carolina’s level of diversity.” Outside of church and powwows, Locklear honors her culture on campus through involvement of various clubs. She is a member of the Carolina Indian Circle, an organization that assists Native American students academically and socially, and Alpha Pi Omega, a Native American interest sorority. Like Hammonds, Locklear realizes the ignorance and lack of knowledge about her culture and its existence. “Many people do not know about Native Americans, or even know we are alive, so it is important to tell about our heritage,”

she says. “When I first came to college, when people found out I was Native American, they thought I did live in a tepee or on a reservation. Many also thought that I was a first-generation college student coming from a poor family.” As proud as she is of her heritage, it has also brought her some frustrations when facing stereotypes from peers. “I feel that we as Native Americans are usually just lumped together due to our small populations,” she says. “I think due to the massive numbers of tribes, it is just hard not to lump us all together in one group.” Locklear celebrates Thanksgiving with the same traditions and foods as other American families. Despite her heritage and upbringing in a Native American church, her family has no special rituals or traditions to celebrate their ancestry. However, her family does not forget its cultural roots. They continue to attend a Native American church and attend powwows to foster that pride for their heritage. “My g randparents and parents alike have taught me that I can do any thing regardless of where I come from or my race.”

Scotland counties. The Lumbee tribe is the largest tribe in North Carolina, the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River and the ninth largest in the nation. The Lumbee take their name from the Lumbee River that winds its way through Robeson County. Pembroke, N.C., is the economic, cultural and political center of the tribe.

The Lumbee are the present-day descendants of the Cheraw Tribe and have continuously existed in and around Robeson County since the early part of the eighteenth century. In 1885, the tribe was recognized as Indian by the State of North Carolina. The tribe has sought full federal recognition from the U.S. Government

since 1888. In 1956, Congress passed the Lumbee Act, which recognized the tribe as Indian. However, the Act withheld the full benefits of federal recognition from the tribe. Efforts are currently underway to pass federal legislation that grants full recognition to the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina.

WINTER+Spring 2011


jsquared photography


FamilY Fortune FAME Up close with Chaske Spencer, from his life on the reservation to his role in ‘Twilight’ By Lauren Ratcliffe t takes a lot of hard work and a little luck to make it big – especially when you’re starting in poverty. Just ask Chaske Spencer. At 21 years old, Spencer bought a one-way ticket to New York City to make something of his life with only $100 in his pocket. He found his way into acting, and now, at age 35, he says he’s just getting to the point where he can afford to be choosy with his roles. He’s done the stereotypical Native American role, but is determined to break out of that box and be seen as an actor – who just happens to be Native. And his latest role, as Sam Uley in “The Twilight Saga,” has opened doors in his career to roles not specifically designed for Native Americans. His character is part of a modern interpretation of the creation story of the Quileute, a native tribe out of La Push, Wash., In the story, the Quileute people are descendants of wolves. The phenomena surrounding the “Twilight” series, and Spencer’s role in “New Moon,” “Eclipse” and the soon-to-be-released “Breaking Dawn” films has opened doors to mainstream roles in American cinema. Spencer was born in Oklahoma, but also lived in Idaho and Montana as a child. He spent time on three reservations: Northern Cheyenne and Fort Peck in Montana and


the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho. He is part Lakota Sioux, Nez Perce, Cherokee and Creek, and for him the reservation brings up thoughts of home. “It’s a family there,” he says. “I had a big family.” The culture of the reservation, Spencer says, is one of community and humor. The essence of that humor is something he says he’d like to see captured on the silver screen, if it could be done

I love Indian humor and the laughter that comes with it. without exploiting his culture. “I love Indian humor and the laughter that comes with it,” he says. “I think on the reservation sometimes it can be really bad, and sometimes there’s nothing else but to laugh about it.” And life on the reservation did have its drawbacks. Spencer says he grew up around poverty, alcoholism and high unemployment rates. “I don’t want to bring the reservations down because I had some good times there,” he says. “It shaped me for who I am now.” The reservations gave him strong WINTER+Spring 2011

roots, which he brings to each of his roles. As a boy, Spencer says, there wasn’t much to do on the reservation, so he and his friends would invent games and role-play. “We had to make our own games,” he says. “So, we had a lot of riding around on bikes, playing cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians – no pun intended. Just a lot of adventures and stuff like that.” Those games helped give Spencer skills that would one day bring him to his future career. When Spencer moved to New York, he says the adjustment wasn’t as dramatic as might be expected. “I was really fortunate with my parents because they really pushed me. They were very supportive of me getting out there, especially when I was a kid, being able to go away on summers – so I wasn’t stuck on the reservation.” And while the adjustment to the city was smooth, finding work wasn’t always so seamless: he acknowledges that early in his career he had to take whatever acting jobs would pay the bills, and he was often pigeonholed into playing the stereotypical Native. His first movie credit, in the 2002 film “Skins,” was the character of young Rudy, a Sioux boy. His next movie role was in a TV movie set on a reservation in South Dakota – his character’s name was Eagle Boy. But putting in time as the stereotypical 57

jsquared photography

Growing up on several reservations throughout Montana and Idaho, Spencer says the sense of humor shaped him as an actor and a man. Spencer says he’s now enjoying the freedom to be picky with roles, but admits he often played stereotypical roles when he first started acting.


Native gave him time and experience that would lead to opportunity. The time put in and experience gained early in his career opened doors for Spencer, who now enjoys freedom in choosing his own roles. He also runs his own production company, called Urban Dreams, which affords him the liberty to pick and produce pieces that avoid stereotyping his culture. With the success of the “Twilight” series, Spencer has seen doors open in his career. Outside of the series, Spencer says he just finished the movie “Shouting Secrets,” which is set to be released in 2011. For those looking to follow Spencer in breaking down stereotypes in a public way, he’s got some advice: Know yourself. For him, becoming successful was not about choosing between mainstream American culture and his heritage, and he says it’s possible to have both. “You don’t have to abandon your culture,” Spencer says. “I’m, like, neck-deep in my culture. There’s a balance, but you don’t have to mix the two up.” And when put in situations that may compromise that sense of cultural pride, Spencer offers this tip on staying grounded: “You’ve got to know yourself very well. You’ve got to know who you are and be comfortable with who you are. And you know something? If you don’t feel comfortable, just don’t do it. It’s just a movie or a play.” 58

y of CHaske Spencer

Culture in ‘Twilight’ The wolves in “The Twilight Saga” are based on the Quileute Tribe, from La Push, Wash. The phenomenon created by the success of the “Twilight” books by Stephanie Meyer and the five films based on them has led some fans to want to know more about the culture. But with the “Hollywood-izing” of the Quileute creation story comes an advancement of some stereotypes and a blurring of cultural truth. In the movies, the wolves are a tribe of Native Americans who become werewolves. The two main male love interests are a vampire, Edward, and a werewolf, Jacob. The movies capture the tension between them. The real creation story of the Quileute claims that a folklore hero turned two wolves into people – the Quileute. In Seattle, a museum exhibit was prompted by the movies to showcase cultural truths about the tribe. Spencer says he thinks the movies have done more good than harm, but acknowledges the slippery slope the roles were on. “It’s a double-edged sword. Some people say it promotes stereotypes, but it hasn’t been taken on like that. We’re not really stereotyped in the way with the long hair or speaking the reservation accent, we’re pretty contemporary,” Spencer says. In “The Twilight Saga” the wolves all have short-cut hair, wear blue jeans and speak without Earth+Sky

any distinguishable accent. From the Native American community, Spencer says there has been lots of support because of the interest in culture that the movies spawned. “I’m really blown away and also excited at the fact that there are kids all over the world that are interested in culture and it’s only based on one tribe,” Spencer says. “But it opens doors to other tribes, and [the fans] find out what kind of tribe we are and they’re interested in that, so that’s cool.”

images/summit entertaiment llc


IN accurate


How schools across America are altering the way they teach Native American history and culture



By Emily Evans epees, bows and arrows and riding wild horses. Living in the forest, chanting wild songs and wearing facepaint. These are typical stereotypes of early Native American life, and though many have been proved false through research into the time period, until recently many schools have helped perpetuate those stereotypes by including them in lesson plans. The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the worst offenders in carrying out false stereotypes. Pilgrims, dressed in black with squaretoed shoes, and Native Americans, in buckskin and brightly colored feathers, carving turkey and enjoying the first Thanksgiving together. Natives, teaching the Pilgrims how to fish, where to grow corn. Pilgrims, teaching the Natives their religion and introducing them to technology. What elementary school child hasn’t heard or even re-enacted these scenarios? History tells us that this isn’t exactly what happened during the Pilgrims’ fateful first winter in their new American home, but classrooms across the U.S. have been filled with construction paper turkeys and visions of the legend for years. Researchers have shown that while Pilgrims and Native Americans did work together, there’s little evidence they shared a celebratory feast. They didn’t cook turkey (one source even claims that it is more likely they ate eel, after learning how to catch it), and the relationships forged between the two groups were fraught with tension. As time has passed, teachers have begun to change the way they teach their students about the history and culture of Native Americans. The U.S. Department of Education created the Bureau of Indian Education to aid teachers in this goal and to also ensure that children coming from these cultural backgrounds “achieve to the same challenging state standards as all students,” according to the bureau’s website. The bureau got more muscle when the “No Child Left Behind” act charged it with ensuring that what was taught in the classroom was research-based, rather than just the stuff of legend. Progress is being made on smaller, local levels as well, and it’s not just schools at the front of the movement. One great example is the North Carolina Museum of History, which works with teachers in and around the state of North Carolina. Emily Grant, youth programs coordinator at the museum, explains that her staff works with the state’s teachers to supplement the information children receive about Native Americans with historically accurate


hands-on activities and exhibits. It’s a muchneeded service, she says. “One of the largest number of requests for information we receive at the museum from teachers is about American Indian history and culture in our state,” Grant says. “We started hosting an annual American Indian Heritage Celebration for the general public 15 years ago and that sparked even more interest in American Indian history here. Teachers wanted accurate, updated information and connection to current communities. So, we decided to expand the public event and [reserve] one day just for students and teachers,” Grant says. “It has become so popular we have to cut off enrollment for the education day at 2,000 people.” Grant says that the programming on the school-specific heritage celebration day mirrors what the state of North Carolina has mapped out in its standard course of study on Native Americans, which all public schools must follow. The guidelines are an example of modernized lesson plans about Native Americans, and many states (including Ohio, Virginia, Arizona and Minnesota, to name a few) all across the country have followed suit. The North Carolina plan includes five competency goals, two of which focus on teaching issues that modern Native Americans face, including health problems and stereotypes. Learn about Native American education in your state by visiting the bureau’s website, schools/index.htm. “I believe most teachers truly want to learn about American Indian history and culture and want to avoid stereotypes,” Grant says. “For a long time, American Indian history was told incorrectly, from only one perspective or left out completely. That has been changing over the past 20 years as people become more global in their perspective and access to primary source material is more readily available. “Although the November events get the most attention because they are the largest and November is National American Indian Heritage Month, we do programs on American Indian history all year long,” she says, adding that lesson plans for teachers across the country are available on the museum’s website. Many positive steps are being taken to discover, research and correct prejudices and errors in the historically over-romanticized history of Native Americans. “As with anything, there is always room for improvement,” Grant says. With the help of local museums and rich online resources, teachers needn’t look far to bring the latest research into their classrooms. WINTER+Spring 2011


There are many other resources available for teachers wanting to go beyond the stereotypes in their lessons about Native Americans. • The website has good tips for teachers on avoiding accidental prejudices in daily classroom work, not just during lessons specifically focused on Native Americans. • The Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting, part of the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, has information on specific inaccuracies commonly taught about Native Americans and ways to combat them. See http:// • Finally, researchers and teachers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Education have teamed up with tribe members to create an online curriculum kit available to anyone wishing to learn more about Native Americans in his or her spare time. Visit for more information.

Check it out Want to see what the N.C. Museum of History is doing for Native American education firsthand? Get there: Fly into Raleigh-Durham International Airport Location: 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh, N.C. 27601 The museum is located in downtown Raleigh, N.C., between the state’s Capitol and legislative buildings. Call 919-807-7900 for more information. Hours: Monday through Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday: noon to 5 p.m. Admission: free Native American exhibit: Visit “Community and Culture: North Carolina Indians Past and Present.” Resources, including interactive timelines and virtual museum field trips, are available at the museum’s website,


Association on American Indian Affairs The organization provides scholarships, sets up youth camps, preserves Native languages, educates about health issues and helps pass legislation for sacred lands By Jacqueline Scott stablished in 1957, the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA) works to sustain the cultures, languages and rights of Native Americans. AAIA’s programs are divided into four categories: youth/education, health, cultural preservation and sovereignty. As the oldest native advocacy and empowerment organization, it works to preserve Native languages, to provide legal support to protect sacred places, to repatriate sacred objects to tribes and to fight for child welfare. Over the years the association has played a critical role in a host of landmark events that benefit Natives; the AAIA helped draft many pivotal laws, including the Indian Child Welfare Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the Tribal Governmental Tax Status Act. AAIA helped create the Medicine Wheel Coalition, a coalition of Plains Tribes who have a traditional history of using the Medicine Wheel and Medicine Mountain for spiritual purposes. AAIA also helps fight developments that will have adverse impacts upon sacred places, such as the San Francisco Peaks located in northern central Arizona.




Golden eagle fans or feathers, though, have become a hot issue in the Native American community, a legislative issue that AAIA, together with the Native American Rights Fund and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, is pursuing. Fans or feathers from the tails of golden eagles command a high price on the illegal market, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. “We don’t want people to feel at risk because of possible actions by commercial traders or others,” Jack Trope, AAIA’S director, said. AAIA will be part of a working group with NARF that is “trying to look at this from a national perspective” and to determine its scope and an appropriate strategy, Trope said. “The things we do affect all tribes,” said AAIA’s executive assitant, Lisa Wyzlic. “We’ve lobbied for legislation to pass. We go out and do training on Indian child welfare.” On the grassroots level, AAIA funds camps, scholarships and language programs. Various tribal organizations across the U.S. set up camps and submit grant proposals to AAIA. AAIA funded seven youth camps in 2009.


AAIA funds several youth camps where participants learn about their language and participate in activites while using their Native language

Recently, AAIA funded a basketball camp in Alaska and taught in the tribe’s language. Through these camps, AAIA bolsters its mission to preserve the Native American language. Other camps assist children in devoting time to community service projects. “I’m talking major service projects – digging ditches, using chain saws,” Wyzlic said. AAIA provides eight scholarships to various individuals, including displaced homemakers and those who seek emergency aid. In the past, AAIA has provided assistance to displaced homemakers who cannot afford their monthly heating bills and to commuter students with slashed tires. All scholarships are provided to students who

are from federally recognized tribes and who are at least one-fourth Indian blood unless otherwise stated in the scholarship specifications. Hillary Renick, Pomo, received the Sequoyah Graduate Scholarship. She organized the Sherwood Valley Youth summer camp in 2009. Renick taught workshops on healthy traditions and foods, role models and activities. “After a week of healthy Indian food, including deer, elk, salmon, roots and seafood, the children did not once ask for soda or candy,” she said. “On my way home, I admit that I stopped at Taco Bell for my ‘number eight,’ and it tasted disgusting.”

Visit to find out more information or to donate.

The Bighorn Medicine Wheel and Medicine Mountain in Wyoming are sacred lands to many Plains tribes. Numerous contemporary Native American staging areas can be found nearby. They include medicinal and ceremonial plant gathering areas, sweat lodge sites, altars and fasting enclosures.

WINTER+Spring 2011

THe San Francisco Peaks The peaks, mountains in northern Arizona, are sacred to 13 Southwest Indian tribes and hundreds of thousands of Native Americans, and play a central role in the religious practices of many of those tribes. On March 13, 2007, the Navajo Nation v. United States Forest Service case established that the proposed use of treated sewage for snow making at the San Francisco Peaks violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the environmental impact statement prepared by the Forest Service was inadequate. For these reasons, the court issued an injunction prohibiting the snowmaking project from progressing. 63

Rooted i n t h e Wa t e r

up close with 64

By Lauren Ratcliffe


Q: Who are the members of Dark Water Rising? Tell me a little about yourselves.


ut of the swamplands of eastern North Carolina, the members of DarkWaterRisingareindeedcoming up out of the waters and into the spotlight. With the release of its self-titled album last year, the group was nominated for the debut duo or group award at the Native American Music Awards. After touring its home state of North Carolina, the group has high hopes for its future. Members Eric Locklear, Ciera Dial Locklear, Corey Locklear, Aaron C. Locklear and Charly Lowry spoke to Earth + Sky at an outdoor festival in the fall. They were excited to headline their own show and promote their music. Despite its nomination, and new opportunities to play its music, the group remains grounded. Camping out in an RV, wearing basketball shorts and T-shirts, the members of the group enjoy impromptu jam sessions as much as performances under spotlights. The group’s music doesn’t neatly fit into any genre – it pulls from the gospel influences of neighborhood churches, rock sounds of a guitar and some traditional Native American rhythms and chanting. Group members say they’re open to trying new things, as long as those new things sound good. And as its name implies, the band is indeed rising. Without musical backgrounds and without the benefit of formal lessons, band members taught themselves to play piano, drums and guitar and admit that each show brings about improvements and changes in their songs. Their song “Hooked” is a great example. It appears on their website and the band’s catchy sound is likely to hook you, too.




A: We’re all Native Ameri­ cans, Lumbee and Coharie. We grew up in Robeson and Hoke counties in North Carolina, with one member from Sampson County. We’ve been friends for longer than the band’s been around. Going back to elementary school for some of us, middle school for others and then college. We never thought of a band, it just happened.

Before a show at the Shakori Hills festival in North Carolina, the members gather and pray to prepare

Q: When and how did DWR form? Why did you start the band? A: In 2008 we started picking up instruments and playing around a little bit. We wouldn’t say we were a band until we named ourselves, and that took about a year. We’d only been playing instruments period for about a year when Charly talked us into playing at UNC-Pembroke’s parents’ weekend. We ended up playing 45 minutes and it turned out to be our first set. We were trying a lot of things out that first set, like covers of songs and first trials of new material. After that we started getting together and practicing five or six days a week – and working hard on coming up with a name.

Q: How did you come up with the name? A: We came up with the name in 2009. “Dark Water” represents the area where we are from, specifically the swamplands. There are a lot of swamplands in Robeson County. The Lumbee tribe is tied to the water, and are called the people of the dark water because of the swamps. We added the “Rising” on to the end after a long time. We threw out a lot of names before settling on DWR. It seemed like every day somebody would come up with a bad idea. One of the vetoed names was Dark Water Dirt Legs. With all of other names someone had an objection, but with “rising” everyone agreed. WINTER+Spring 2011


Q: What is the goal of your music? Are you trying to promote a specific message? A: We wouldn’t say there’s a specific message. We say what we need to say and touch on a lot of different topics. The fact that we’re all Native Americans, a band of tribal people, is kind of unique. We throw a mix in our messages; each one of our songs is different. You can hear the influences of where we’re from, especially the gospel and soul. It’s always nice that people know we’re Natives and out there. There are not many Natives who do music in a nontraditional setting. We don’t go out there pushing that message or agenda, but hopefully people knowing who we are and getting interested will come to find out what we’re about.

Q: How is your Native American culture reflected in your music? A: Well, first, there’s Aaron’s rhythms on the drums. We also use chants throughout different parts of our shows. I love when we can incorporate our Native influences, but only have it on a few songs, like “Brownskin.” Other songs connect lyrically with our Native culture. The song “Open Ceremony” touches on the natural side of things, which is very important in Native culture. Other songs try to encourage Native Americans to come together and stand strong as a people.

Q: Do you feel pressure to assimilate into mainstream music genres like rock or pop? A: We haven’t really crossed that road yet. We’re not really trying to be a rock band or R&B, we just want to play good music. Even if someone comes up with something that sounds country, but we like it, we’ll go with it. We’re comfortable enough with each other as friends that we are able to critique ideas. We make our songs the way we all like them, and it makes our music better because we don’t settle until all six of us think it sounds great. We’ve never sat down and said we’ve got to sound more pop, or like this or that. We know we’re probably not going to get the radio play, but that doesn’t really matter.

Q: Are there any pressures to adhere to Native American stereotypes? A: We’re very careful with that, actually. There’s definitely a thin line with certain things. We try to make sure we don’t exploit our culture. It’s hard because you’re walking a thin line between two different spaces. We are not going to come out in regalia or headdress, but we still support who we are through our music. We’re a contemporary band and we just happen to be Native. We’re definitely proud of our heritage but are never going to use it in a way for monetary gain. We’re not even trying to make “Native” music, either; it’s just good music.



Q: What is the most exciting thing about your self-titled album? A: The fact that we finished it. We have a professionally recorded, mastered CD. We’ve never had a record that we produced and were able to say “this is ours.” We can present this to people and be proud of it. One guy was like, “Wow, this is legit. It’s shrink-wrapped.” You see how much work and time you put into it and it feels good to have it done as a good product with good music. We went from not playing instruments to going to New York to perform at the Native American Music awards in November.

Q: How does it feel to win a Native American Music Award?” A: Corey described the experience as surreal. Aaron and I (Charly) went to the Nammys last year and won best long or short form music video. It was a good feeling to win, but this year was different because we were able to perform and come home with the award. So we felt like we were a part of something bigger. We were part of the production. We felt humbled by the experience. It was exciting to bring the award back home to everyone who voted and supported, their votes made a difference. It was a lot of fun. PHOTO/ALEX PEGG

(From Left) Ciera Dial Locklear, Charly Lowry and Brittany Jacobs belt out soulful harmonies at an outdoor concert in North Carolina. In November, Dark Water Rising took home the award for ‘Debut Duo or Group of the Year.’

Q: Is there anything else you want people to know? A: We love what we do and want to share it with everybody else. We want to flood the world with our music.

Q: What’s next for DWR? A: We’re going to take a break to start working on new music and a new performance set. We’ve got two new songs now and we just need eight more. We’re also looking forward to more opportunities outside of North Carolina. Mini-tours would be nice. We haven’t been on a full tour, but we’ve hit North Carolina pretty hard,z and it’s been good. We all have jobs during the week, so we’re looking forward to the day when we can do this full-time.







WINTER+Spring 2011


Powwows then now and

By Anna Norris he steady and powerful rhythm of the drums, like the heartbeat of Mother Earth. The intricate and colorful regalia of the dancers as they spin around the circle. The passionate voices of the singers as they sing both traditional and new songs. Family ties, friendship, traditional foods and practices. This is what powwows have always been about. But the circumstances haven’t always been the same. The origin of the very first powwows remains uncertain. Some historians believe the war dance gatherings of Southern Plains tribes like the Ponca gave way to the traditional powwow. Other historians believe that healing dances performed by medicine

T 68

men, observed by the first European explorers in the 1600s, came first. Another possible ancestor, Grass Dance Societies arose in the early 1800s as a way for tribal warriors to re-enact the bravery of their deeds for all members of the tribe to witness. “In general, powwows are everywhere in the Plateau and the rest of Indian country,” says Dr. Lillian Ackerman, an ethnographer at Washington State University who specializes in Plateau Culture. “In the summer and fall, there is one everywhere in the Plateau on one reservation or the other.” Elements of powwow culture have changed to reflect modern life. Today, it’s not uncommon for organizers of major powwows to rent out convention centers, when a few Earth+Sky

decades ago almost all powwows took place outside. More and more powwow attendees hunker down in hotels instead of camping in tents and eat in restaurants instead of cooking over fires. Past traditional powwows were an event where everyone came to dance. Powwows today often feature spectators who come merely to watch, including an increase in the non-Native audience. But it is the music and the dancing that has, and always will, supply the form, shape and purpose of powwows. One of the newer facets of powwow dancing is the idea of the contest powwow. Contest powwows hold competitions for different tribal dances and styles, often with monetary prizes. There are both negative

Seafair Indian Days Powwow, Daybreak Star Cultural Center, Seattle, Wash. The event is part of Seafair (a series of summer events in Seattle) and is held by the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation. Photos/wikimedia commons

and positive feelings about contest powwows. There is the fear that the lure of cash draws too many participants who are there for winning, not dancing. However, contest powwows are also praised for the pressure they put on dancers to strive to build their character, skills and knowledge of the dance, regardless of the money factor. Intertribal traditions are also an important powwow issue. Dance traditions that used to be tribally specific are now intertribal traditions shared among dancers within specific dance categories. Such traditions sometimes conflict with the beliefs of participants from another area or the community hosting the powwow. “Over the years the Plateau people have

adopted Plains- and Southwest-style dancing, and most recently the grasslands dancing in which women wear cylinders on their clothing,” Dr. Ackerman says. “In Minnesota, this was a form of grief for their dead, and they have some reservations about it being used [outside of] the Plateau.” The Dakota Nation’s Oyaté powwows usually feature parents carrying their children in their arms as they dance. At a powwow held by the Ojibwé-Anishinaabé people, the Oyaté would be reprimanded because the Ojibwé believe the dance circle represents the Path of Life where everyone leaves their track or spiritual imprint. However, if the parents carry their children while dancing in the circle, it is believed the presence of WINTER+Spring 2011

We need to understand that our traditions represent continuity through change, and change through continuity

the child prevents them from being able to leave their own imprint. Yet modernized powwows ensure all Native people’s bonds will not be broken. Songs that are danced to today at powwows represent a deep collection of new songs, old songs and revised songs that reflect cultural changes. “We need to understand that our traditions represent continuity through change, and change through continuity,” writes Robert DesJarlait, a Red Lake Ojibwé-Anishinaabé, in his article “The contest powwow versus the traditional powwow and the role of the Native American community.” “And we need to understand this for ourselves, for our children, and the coming generations.” 69

A Haliwa-Saponi artist from North Carolina teaches Native American history, one pot at a time. By Laura Hoxworth enora Lynch’s workspace doesn’t look like it belongs to a nationally recognized, awardwinning artist. The small, ordinary kitchen table, dusty with clay and cluttered with tools and half-finished pots, is otherwise bare and a little bit scratched. Sitting at this table, sometimes up to 13 hours a day, Lynch makes all of her pottery by hand. She rolls coils, smoothes them into pots, carefully trims the edges with her favorite tool, a snuff can lid, then carves designs freehand as they come to her. Originally a fast food worker, Lynch quit her job in 1992 and turned to pottery full-time with encouragement from friends and family. Today, she has work displayed in museums across the country, such as the Smithsonian Institution and the North Carolina Museum of History. She has also won numerous awards for her artwork, including the North Carolina




Q: Was your Native American heritage a big part of your childhood? I’ve always been involved in our tribal activities. Cultural programs, singing at the powwows, doing our traditional dances … growing up on the land and just hearing the old stories and things that people believe in, it’s just … part of who we are and how we were brought up. It’s almost like you don’t divide it from the real world. It is who you are.

Q: Did you consider yourself artistic as a child? I grew up with my artwork. All my life, I’ve always done something related to art. One of the first things I learned how to do was weave chair bottoms with my grandfather. He would weave baskets and do white oak splint chair bottoms, so I started just hanging out with him. Then I began to do beadwork, and then I moved into pottery. I always sewed. I would sew little dresses for my dolls. I was always one of those people … crafty, I guess you could say. Always doing something with my hands. My sister, she swears that I could always sit and work on my art and she always had to wash the dishes. 70


Heritage award in 2007. When she isn’t working on her pottery or traveling to bring her work to craft shows around the country, she spends her time teaching art and Native American culture at the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School in Hollister, N.C., and other schools across North Carolina. For Lynch, clay is not only her livelihood; it’s also her heritage. A member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe, one of eight state-recognized tribes in North Carolina, Lynch grew up in Hollister, surrounded by family and tribal culture. Her strong sense of pride in the resilience and culture of her people is evident in the legends and stories that she weaves into all of her artwork, and in the way she credits her success to her background and the support of her husband and daughter. Now, through her teaching and her artwork, she hopes to give something back. Earth + Sky sat down with Lynch to talk about her work and her inspiration.

Q: When did you become specifically interested in pottery?

Q: That’s really cool. What about your style is so different?

I was about 14 years old. There was a pottery room at our tribal school, and the older women would sit in there and make pottery. We would just go over there to help them, and just watching their hands and watching the movement … they would say, “Rub it like this,” and “Smooth it off this way,” and “Don’t put too much water there.” My granddad would also tell me about pottery and how they would use different impressions and textures on the pots for designs.

Well, I think the flow of my designs, and the stories that come through my ideas into my pottery. And I think the way that I carve it twice – because I put several layers on, then I carve away the design, then I go back and carve in again. So I think that’s really what makes it unique. And just my expression of the designs that I put on there makes it different.

Q: What is your style of pottery like?

A: My designs are created through my dreams, a lot of times, and old sayings, old ways of life. I do my designs based on dances that we have in our tribe – the land, animals, plants. I made a design inspired by a dance called the robin dance, with the birds going up and down – it represents the robin being the first bird to come out in the springtime to let us know that the weather is going to change. So we do a dance where we go up and down, up and down, representing the robin. It’s a lot of fun. I just come up with ideas. I’m not really sure what’s going to go on each one until it’s done. Sometimes I think I know what I’m going to put on it, then all the sudden the piece of pottery will start talking to me, I guess. I have had some that sat on the shelf for a long time waiting for me to figure out what design I really want to put on it.

My first pots didn’t look like they look now. They looked like a clunk of mud, I guess. Over time, I think I just developed this style – this is my own style of pottery. We used to make pretty plain pots with corncob and rope impressions, and do a design called a crawdad, using deer bones to create the designs. Then I developed my own style. I’ve had professors of art and people from Greece who study pottery tell me they’ve never seen pottery like mine, so I’ve sort of developed my own way of doing it.

Q: What inspires your designs?

Q: I know you also spend a lot of time teaching. What kind of teaching do you do?



Photo/Dal Lynch

A: I visit all grades really, K through 12, but fourth is really my specialty. I teach them how we make pottery, and I teach them about stories and legends. I also teach pottery classes at the beginning of summer, and I’ve been teaching at our tribal school about four years now, beadwork and pottery. I love going to the schools.

Lynch hand carves each piece with a unique process where she applies two layers of white clay, then carves away to create her designs.

WINTER+Spring 2011


Q: What is it that you love so much about teaching?

Traditional Native American symbols, such as turtles and corn, can be found on all of Lynch’s pieces.

Photo/Dal Lynch

I think clay is magical. I think when kids get their hands in clay, it’s just joy. You can mess it up and still have fun, you know? I have pieces of pottery like the owl design, and I teach them that they need to spend time with older people to learn their stories and their wisdom and knowledge. I have a piece called bearing gifts, and it teaches that we all have gifts we can share. We have the gift of unity, that we can work together. We have the gift of charity, that we can help someone. We have the gift of the heart, which is to have love. But I love the reaction of the teachers, for one thing. I like the fact that they feel inspired and they have a way of looking at Native American culture a little bit differently than the way they grew up.



Q: Do you find that the younger kids you teach know a lot about Native American culture?

Lynch's designs are inspired by her Native heritage, but she doesn't sketch them beforehand or plan them out. Instead, she carves them freehand as the ideas come to her.


They’re getting better. I’ve been teaching in schools now about 10 years. From my first time going there to now, I can see so much more that the teachers have begun to include. But the kids still have a lot of stereotypes. It’s amazing. I don’t know if they get it from TV or cowboy movies … but some of them still have stereotypes of feathers and living in tepees and things like that. But North Carolina has decided to make American Indians part of the curriculum, which is great. So I think they’re learning a lot more. But I think we have to be really careful to teach that Indian people weren’t all killed off. I think sometimes, with the wars that they teach about, it makes kids think that we were all killed off. But just my presence at the school teaches them that we’re still here. So I kind of open their eyes to that.

Q: Do you think your pottery helps spread awareness about Native American culture? One thing my mom always told me, she said, “Always do something to help your people.” I think by going to the schools and showing my work to the world at the fair and all the different craft shows that I go to, I’m allowed to tell them our history and at the same time show them our art. So yeah, part of my job is to teach people about who we are. I often say that the clay gave me a place to speak. It gave me an opportunity to tell our story through the clay.


Corn dogs, bean burritos and butternut squash soup may grace different food categories, but their main ingredients share common ground, literally and culturally By Latisha Catchatoorian ou’ve seen them in your local grocery store, usually in the cannedgood aisle or the produce section. They greet you with an array of welcoming colors that span the rainbow. And while easily recognized in dishes of all types, shapes and sizes, their importance typically goes unnoticed, as these Three Sisters have helped sustain groups of people for centuries. The name originated with the Iroquois, who gave the Three Sisters – corn, beans and squash – this name because they grow together in harmony. Corn and beans are planted side-by-side so the bean vines can wrap around the corn stalks as both flourish and grow. Squash is planted in open areas



around the corn and beans. The shade from the large squash leaves at the base of the plants locks moisture in the ground for the corn and bean crops, making this a perfect threesome. This vegetable and legume trio has been a staple of Native American diets for centuries. Preparation of the Three Sisters in recipes is not limited to a specific ethnic cuisine. They are included in recipes for chili, baked beans and bean soup, corn tortillas, squash soufflé and more. Succotash is a popular dish prepared with corn, beans and vegetables, including squash and tomatoes. But the tastiness of this trio is only part of its importance to Native people. The cultivation of crops such as the Three Sisters expanded Native American lifestyle


from traditional methods of hunting game and gathering food. Farming influenced the development of semi-permanent and permanent villages once agricultural fields were established as early as 900-1000 A.D. “They are seen as three beautiful sisters because they grow in the same mound in a garden,” says Shelia Wilson, a member of the Sappony tribe and a demonstrator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill American Indian Center’s Native Foods Festival. “The corn provides a ladder for the bean vine. The squash vines shade the mound and hold moisture in the soil for the corn and beans. The well-being of each crop planted is protected by another. Many a legend has been woven around the Three Sisters – sisters who should be planted

Corn plants provide a means by which beans can grow. Bean vines climb the stalks of the corn as they flourish. In Native American culture, corn is commonly referred to as maize. There are many types of beans, such as the lima (pictured), kidney, pinto, black, navy, red beans and more. Beans provide the needed protein component in the Three Sisters diet. Squash, when planted around the bases of bean and corn crops, provides protection for the plants as its low, large leaves trap moisture in the soil and guard the roots from ground animals.

together, eaten together and celebrated together.� The story behind the Three Sisters varies from tribe to tribe. The Sappony Three Sisters, as told by Wilson, is a tale from the Sappony tribe, which is located on the border of Person County, N.C., and Halifax County, Va. A Sappony woman with three daughters could no longer bear the fighting among her children. She asked the Creator to help her stop the fighting. One night, she had a dream in which each daughter was a different seed. One was Squash, one was Bean, and one was Corn. In her dream, she planted them together in one mound and told them that in order to thrive, grow and flourish, they would have to acknowledge their differences but also rely on each other for strength.

The next morning, she made each of them an egg for breakfast. One was scrambled, one was hard-boiled, and one was over-easy. She told her daughters that these eggs represented them and their differences, each with a different flavor and texture, but still special. The daughters cried as they recognized their individual importance and celebrated their differences and loved one another because of them. Tales of the Three Sisters working together teach tribal values of acceptance, dependence and reliance on other spirits of creation, but the trio also works together to provide a nutritious diet for Native Americans and other people around the world. Eating corn alone results in malnourishment. Though it provides carbohydrates,

WINTER+Spring 2011

sugar and fiber, it lacks adequate protein. Bodies need protein to be sustained. This is where beans come in, as beans provide amino acids and high levels of protein. Squash is rich in fiber and vitamins. Adding the Three Sisters to other meats and vegetables created a healthier and more dynamic diet for Native American people long before the development of the food pyramid by the United States Department of Agriculture. So the next time you take a bite of that corn bread, spice up your taste buds with some refried beans or dig into a squash casserole, remember the Three Sisters. Your bread, beans and casserole could all have originated from crops sharing a spot in a growing garden at last fall’s harvest.


the HISTORY By Kelsey Finn


hough its exact age is a mystery lost in oral tradition, the Native American flute is considered the third-oldest musical instrument in the world after the drum and rattle. The flutes were traditionally used in different ceremonies, rituals, fertility rites and other meetings. But the most famous tradition was the use of the flute in courting. As the story goes, a young man would create what was called a “love flute” that would invite a spirit to inhabit it as he played. The spirit essentially acted as Cupid, carrying the man’s message of love through song to the woman of his choice. And after he won her heart, the flute would be thrown away and never played again. While most of its traditional uses have faded, the flute is still used in many Native American ceremonies and for healing. Flute circles are also a popular way of bringing people together. Several musicians, whether they are Native American or simply enjoy playing the Native American flute, gather to play in these ensembles. “Flute circles are about providing a safe, open and educational experience for playing the Native American flute,” says Mike Oitzman, director of the Northern California Flute Circle. “They’re a great opportunity for newbies to get the chance to see and hear more experienced flute players and the craftsmanship of the many flute makers who are developing, expanding and keeping this beautiful instrument alive.” The first flutes began as whistles made of bone, and as time went on, they were created from a variety of materials including bamboo, river reeds, cedar and other woods. Today, Native American flutes are mostly made of cedar. In the world of music, the Native American flute has gradually achieved fame for its distinct sound. It is used in a variety of folk and traditional music and in New Age music, which is a genre of music intended to create artistic inspiration, relaxation and optimism. It is often used for yoga, massage, meditation and reading



as a method of stress management. “The Native American flute has a unique sound that’s all its own,” Oitzman says. “While its design is most similar to a recorder, the sound quality and expressiveness of the Native American flute brings so much more color to a song than a recorder.” One of the most famous Native American flautists today is R. Carlos Nakai. Nakai has been nominated for four Grammy Awards, and two of his records, “Canyon Trilogy” and “Earth Spirit,” have been RIAA certified Gold. They were two of the first Native American flute albums to achieve this. Its purposes are widespread, and whether it’s used for healing, yoga or romance, the Native American flute should be celebrated for its beautiful sound and history.

PHOTO/Mike Oitzman

Unlike a traditional silver flute, the Native American flute is played in a vertical position.



FLUTE the LEGEND Adapted from Native Legends at


any generations ago, a young man went out to hunt. He found the tracks of an elk and followed them for a long time, and after many hours, he finally sighted his game. He was skilled with a bow and arrow, but the elk managed to stay just out of range, leading him on and on. The young man was so intent on following his prey that he hardly noticed where he went, and when night came, he found himself deep inside a thick forest. It was too dark to find his way out. He leaned against a tree and tried to rest, but he couldn’t sleep. The forest was full of strange noises—and suddenly, there was an entirely new sound, mournful and ghostlike. It made him afraid, but at the same time, the sound was like a song, sad but beautiful, full of love, hope and yearning. Before he knew it, he fell asleep. He dreamed that the redheaded woodpecker, wagnuka, appeared, singing the strangely beautiful song and telling him,

“Follow me, and I will teach you.” When the hunter awoke, the sun was already high, and on the tree, he saw a redheaded woodpecker. The bird flew away to another tree and then to another, but never very far, looking back all the time at the young man as if to say, “Come on!” At last, it landed on a cedar tree and began hammering on a branch. Suddenly, there was a gust of wind, and again the hunter heard that beautiful sound. Then he realized that the song came from the dead branch where the woodpecker hammered his beak. The wind made the sound as it whistled through the holes the bird had drilled. “Kola, friend, let me take this branch home,” the hunter said. “You can make yourself another.” He took the branch and walked back to his village. And in his tepee, the young man tried to make the branch sing for him. He blew on it and waved it around, but no sound came. He climbed to the top of a hill to fast, going without food or water for four days and nights, crying for a vision that would tell him how to make the branch sing. In the middle of the fourth night, the bird appeared, saying, “Watch me.” It turned into a man and showed the hunter how to make the branch sing, and in his dream, the young man watched and observed very carefully. When he awoke, he found a cedar tree. He broke off a branch and hollowed it out with a bowstring drill. He whittled the branch into the shape of the bird and painted the top of the bird’s head with washasha, the sacred red color. He smoked the branch with incense of burning sage, cedar and sweet grass. He fingered the holes as he had seen the man-bird do in his vision and blew softly into the mouthpiece. All at once, there was the song, ghostlike and beautiful, drifting all the way to the village, where the people were astounded and joyful to hear it. With the help of the wind and the woodpecker, the young man brought them the first flute. WINTER+Spring 2011


Continued from page 30 passport to nowhere game, according to the legend. In Haudenosaunee tradition, the game was taught to instill a value in others, regardless of what they may appear to offer. In addition to valuing others, lacrosse is supposed to be played with integrity, as the Haudenosaunee use it to please their Creator. “We are taught that the game is a gift from our Creator so that any time you play you should play with a good heart and a clear mind,” Schindler says. Medicinal healing is also woven into the cultural significance of lacrosse for the Haudenosaunee. Players and community members can call for medicinal games to be played, and they say that healing is found when they are played. Few details of the medicinal game are offered because it is considered sacred. “The game of lacrosse is thought to be a medicine for our people, and we want to be stewards for the game and for our people,” Jemison says. Because the game is so connected to the culture of the Haudenosaunee, playing as representatives of the Haudenosaunee carries extra weight. “Whenever you play lacrosse, more so when you play for team Iroquois, you’re going to have that sense of pride and wear your heart on your sleeve and play to the best of your ability,” Schindler says. And because the game is very popular among the Haudenosaunee, those who play for the Nationals are not only role models for their tribes, but also are celebrities. “These are the Michael Jordans of our community,” Jemison says. “They are the guys our kids look up to.” Because of their esteem in the community, their strong stance during the passport dispute held significance for the identity of the entire Haudenosaunee nation.

Sovereignty The relationship between the United States and Native peoples who were already here is murky. Karla General, staff attorney for the Indian Law Resource Center and a Haudenosaunee Indian, says that the traditional classification 78

of Native tribes as “domestic dependent nations” is no longer accurate, but that the current relationship is not clearly explicit. “They don’t really use that to define us anymore,” she says. “Right now they are in a government-to-government era of federal-Indian law relations.” She also defined sovereignty as the capacity to self-determine culturally, economically and socially in order to ensure survival. This sovereignty, General admits, often doesn’t fit with how the tribes are able to conduct business. She cited the Major Crimes Act, which has been in effect since 1885, as an example of the reduction in tribal sovereignty. The act takes away tribal jurisdiction of 15 specific crimes, if they are committed on Native lands. The struggle for recognition as a nation has also been a long, hardfought one. General’s great grandfather, a man named Deskaheh, traveled in 1923 to Switzerland on a Haudenosaunee passport. He traveled to the League of Nations to champion indigenous people’s rights. Refused re-entry into Canada after his visit in Europe, Deskaheh was forced to stay with friends in New York State. General says the Canadian government refused to accept his Haudenosaunee passport because he was set to protest the ousting of his tribal government by the Canadian one. “He died on the U.S. side,” she says. “That was 87 years ago, and they still haven’t decided the procedure for how they’re going to deal with us.” Going back to the 1600s, treaties establish the Haudenosaunee as an independent and sovereign people. Hill says that when the United States declared all indigenous people within the borders of the country to be citizens, the Haudenosaunee immediately sent a letter to Washington refusing that claim. “We as Haudenosaunee have always regarded ourselves as Haudenosaunee, not American, not Canadian,” he says. The Guswhenta, or Two Row wampum agreement, between the Dutch and the Mowhawks established the ground by which Earth+Sky

the Haudenosaunee people claim sovereignty in their relations with other nations. “The history that we have has always been between two sovereigns,” Hill says. Recognition by the Federation of International Lacrosse gave the Iroquois the ability to resist assimilation on the field and compete as the sovereign entity they already view themselves as. Because of this recognition, and their self-ascribed autonomy, the option to carry a U.S. or Canadian passport to travel on was not an option for some. Abrams says that while some of the players do carry American or Canadian passports others do not, and have no desire to do so. “The team is established by the Six Nations Confederacy, which is representing them as an international team,” Abrams says. “As an international team, we’re going to use their documents – that’s our identity.” Players, too, saw the use of the Haudenosaunee passports an identity issue. Their pride as an international team is overshadowed by their pride as a people, and it is their Haudenosaunee identity that defines them. Refusal to back down on the issue garnered both praise and criticism, but the team stands by the decision. “I think it’s very important that we stand our ground and fight for the fact that we are Haudenosaunee people and have the right to travel on our own passport,” Schindler says. “We’ve been doing it for years.” For the team, the inability to travel only intensified their sense of identity as a sovereign people. Support from tribes across the United States came to the team praising team members for their refusal to minimize their identity by adopting other passports for travel. “We weren’t just Iroquois people then,” Jemison says. “We were representing all Native people.” Members of the team felt that accepting an offer of expedited U.S. passports would have been accepting a blow to their identity. “By doing that we would have compromised ourselves and our sovereignty,” Jemison says. He added that expressing sovereignty through the maintenance of culture and travel is an important

way to give Native people a voice. “We are not a fully conquered people,” Jemison says. “We still speak our native language, we are still upholding our traditions, and we’re continuing to go on as a people. We don’t want to fully assimilate.”

Future To make sure that the team, and all Haudenosaunee, won’t have to assimilate, work is being done to upgrade the current

identification cards and passports. Currently, the passports are partially handwritten and do not have security features such as holograms or machine readable texts, which are harder to duplicate. “We have enlisted the help of Siemens [AG] to produce upgraded identification documents for us,” Hill says. Upgraded identification cards will ensure ease of travel across land borders between the United States and Canada, and Hill says the passports are

being upgraded to meet global standards, including measures like radio-frequency identification tags. Politics are impacting the future of the passports. “The political side is to ultimately ensure that our passports are going to work, that they are going to continue to allow our citizens to travel across US borders, as well as all other international borders,” Hill says. “It’s not just U.S. recognition. It’s global recognition.”

Continued from page 38 more than a feeling of Autonomous Chapters, it was difficult to put a finger on what the actions of AIM had won the Native American community. “One of the reasons that it’s remembered the way it is now is it gained so much notoriety by virtue of its press coverage,” Cobb says. “So a lot of people think that AIM is solely represented by ’60s activism. And it isn’t. But it is in people’s minds because it speaks to stereotypes we have – real activism is militant, real Indians are out at Pine Ridge occupying hamlets – and that’s just not the case.”

An Intangible Legacy Although most Native Americans could agree that AIM left a profound impact on their lives and communities by the late 1970s, most also couldn’t articulate just what that impact was. “You can’t look at very many tangible things and say ‘AIM did that,’” Cobb says. “But in terms of contributing to shifts in policy or pushing people to act legislatively in ways they might not have without that kind of pressure, I think you can say that AIM did that. But this larger issue they’re hinting at is a feeling. And you can’t quantify a feeling, but what we do know is that AIM was really important in terms of motivating people to take pride in being Native and to act on it by engaging in a lot of local community kinds of things that didn’t get attention.” Kidwell believes that while AIM may not have been directly responsible for outright

victories for Native American civil rights, it was responsible for inspiring other groups to take over, groups that had the power to make changes. “AIM played one role in public awareness, but I think that there were other organizations that were coming to the fore, and they were learning the ropes of things like political lobbying,” Kidwell says. “People became aware, but they were also gaining skills of how to capitalize on that attention and work their way through the political system.” Kidwell also cites the abandonment of termination policy in 1970 by Richard Nixon – the idea that the federal government was going to terminate its relationships with all Indian tribes – as a sort of sea change in government policy. This was furthered by the passage of the Indian SelfDetermination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, which allowed government agencies to enter into contracts with and make grants to federally recognized tribes, giving the tribes more control over funding that affected their welfare. “Changes in the BIA followed these political victories for Native Americans,” Kidwell says. “The wheels of government grind exceedingly fine and exceedingly slow, but they do grind. And I think AIM was an important catalyst to get that system going down the right path.” Joe Liles, a retired teacher at the North Carolina School of Science and Math who taught at the Red School House in St. Paul, Minn., an WINTER+Spring 2011

AIM survival school from 1972-1974, agrees. “I think it’s really important that AIM’s message of recognition of Indian treaty rights, preservation of Indian culture and the fostering of Indian pride has been decentralized today,” Liles says. “National Indian newspapers, Indian centers in various urban locations, National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Education Association and powwows have stepped in to fill this advocacy role. And almost every state in the union has an organization like this to represent Indian people. AIM may have played a role in bringing these institutions like these into existence, or at least AIM’s agenda stimulated these developments faster than they would have taken place without the push that AIM made.” In 1971, AIM opened the K-12 Heart of the Earth Survival school in Minneapolis, Minn., to teach Indian values and cultures, which has spawned a number of offshoot schools, many of which survive to this day. The end of AIM also saw a number of other activist groups form such as Women of All Red Nations and Native American Traditions, Ideals, Values Educational Society (NATIVE), a sign that Native peoples wouldn’t let the lessons learned from AIM go unutilized. AIM may no longer be a powerhouse rallying point for Native Americans, but the web of support and Native pride it taught its people to value shows no signs of unraveling anytime soon. 79


EARTH +SKY connects the tale with the teller By Alex Linder Coming out of the mystical Great Smoky Mountains, Cherokee stories were never meant to be digested and quickly forgotten like the short stories of today. They were part of a society without writing that relied on its oral culture and its storytellers. Tribe members heard the same story told over and over again. It’s like going to see a concert by your favorite musician. Sure, you’ve listened to the songs a million times, but it is only then that you are able to appreciate the special qualities of the unique

performance, hanging on to the meaning behind every improvisation and inflection. Of all the characters in Native American folklore, the Trickster is the most notorious. Always looking for a way to get ahead, the Trickster plays pranks on the high and mighty, plotting to steal their wealth, food or wives. The Trickster is always scheming, is often getting caught, but is never remorseful. Trickster stories have delighted young and old for centuries, making anything seem possible. In the Cherokee culture, the Rabbit is the trickster.

Why the P ssum’s Tail is Bare Traditional Cherokee story taken from “The Myths of the Cherokee,” a collection of Cherokee myths, legends and folklore transcribed by the late 19th century ethnologist James Mooney, who lived for several years with the Cherokee.



he Possum used to have a long, bushy tail and was so proud of it that he combed it out every morning and sang about it at the dance, until the Rabbit, who had had no tail since the Bear pulled it out, became very jealous and made up his mind to play the Possum a trick. There was to be a great council and a dance at which all the animals were to be present. It was the Rabbit’s business to send out the news, so as he was passing the Possum’s place, he stopped to ask him if he intended to be there. The Possum said he would come if he could have a special seat, “because I have such a handsome tail that I ought to sit where everybody can see me.” The Rabbit promised to attend to it and to send someone to comb and dress the Possum’s tail for the dance, so the Possum was very much pleased and agreed to come. Then the Rabbit went over to the Cricket, who is such an expert hair cutter that the Indians call him the barber, and told him to go next morning and dress the Possum’s tail for the dance that night. He told the Cricket just what to do and then went on about some other mischief. In the morning the Cricket went to the Possum’s house and said he had come to get him ready for the dance. So the Possum stretched himself out and shut his eyes while the Cricket


combed out his tail and wrapped a red string around it to keep it smooth until night. But all this time, as he wound the string around, he was clipping off the hair close to the roots, and the Possum never knew it. When it was night, the Possum went to the townhouse where the dance was to be and found the best seat ready for him, just as the Rabbit had promised. When his turn came in the dance he loosened the string from his tail and stepped into the middle of the floor. The drummers began to drum and the Possum began to sing, “See my beautiful tail.” Everybody shouted and he danced around the circle and sang again, “See what a fine color it has.” They shouted again and he danced around another time, singing, “See how it sweeps the ground.” The animals shouted more loudly than ever, and the Possum was delighted. He danced around again and sang, “See how fine the fur is.” Then everybody laughed so long that the Possum wondered what they meant. He looked around the circle of animals and they were all laughing at him. Then he looked down at his beautiful tail and saw that there was not a hair left upon it, but that it was as bare as the tail of a lizard. He was so much astonished and ashamed that he could not say a word, but rolled over helpless on the ground and grinned, as the Possum does to this day when taken by surprise.

Lloyd Arneach

is a Cherokee storyteller. An enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, he has traveled around the country to events telling the traditional stories of his people, as well as modern stories. He has performed for schools, universities, libraries, museums, historical societies and civic groups. Arneach’s performances combine history and humor. He conducts workshops on Native American storytelling and seeks to build appreciation of Native American culture and what the stories mean to the cultures from which they grew.

Why do you tell stories?

How do you make these stories come alive to your audience?

It’s not the thing I set out to do. I came to the Land of Storytelling Festival in January of 1990 as a historian. I was asked to share the stories of my people. I found out I enjoyed it so much that by word of mouth people were asking me to come and share stories. The stories come from those told to me by my two uncles on the reservation.

For me, I am always in the story. When I’m telling “Why the Possum’s Tail is Bare,” I see Possum dancing proudly, and I can see Rabbit looking on in delight knowing what’s going to happen. So, I’m basically relating to the audience what I see in the story. This keeps the story fresh for me, no matter how many times I tell the story. I’m in the story, and it is fresh for me, instead of just reciting words.

What is it about the old stories that you think remains important today? They have so many lessons in the stories. In the old days, if a child misbehaved, an elder would take them aside and share a story with them, and in that story is a lesson about how they should behave. The same story could be used in different age groups, and really they don’t stop being relevant as you grow old. Then, it would just be used just for entertainment, but they liked to hear them told time and time again.

What is the purpose of trickster stories? The trickster varies depending on what tribe. Among the Cherokee, the rabbit is the trickster. Basically, he’s like the used car salesman. When he’s doing a deal with you, you have to look at it from all sides to see – what was the hook; what was his gimmick? You really had to be very aware when you’re dealing with Rabbit. Now these stories are entertaining. In the old days, we used them both for entertainment and teaching.

Do you think we all have this ability to Do you find that every one of become storytellers? your performances is different? Yes, I do believe so. I was sharing with a group of teenagers, and when I finished, I turned to a young Cree Indian girl from Canada and I asked her, “Do you know any of the old stories of your people?” She shook her head and said no. I thought a moment and then said, “Do you know any of the stories of your people?” Again, she shook her head and said, “I don’t have any stories to tell.” Then I thought a moment and asked her, “What is your most memorable experience?” She was quiet for a moment or two, and then she told a story. We were all quiet for a while, and then I said, “You have stories to tell, but you don’t realize it. You all have stories to tell, but perhaps you don’t realize that, either.”

Yes, because I may tell the same story in four different performances, and the wording in that story is going to be different. I tell people, if you want to hear the same story every time, the same way, get a CD of the story, and you’ll hear it the same way. If you want it to be the same, read it in a book. What I do is different. That’s the art of storytelling, to make the story live for people.

To learn more about this storyteller, check out his website at:

WINTER+Spring 2011


Earth + Sky Magazine  

Celebrating Native Americans in Today's World.

Earth + Sky Magazine  

Celebrating Native Americans in Today's World.