Biden and Haaland and Indigenous Languages

It’s something new—and mostly good—every day. Today, in Native News Online, we learn that:

“600 people attended the Tribal Language Summit at the Oklahoma City Convention Center to hear from leading educators and policymakers in Indian Country on how to protect, preserve and promote America’s Indigenous languages.

“’As Indigenous peoples, our languages are the heart of our identity and the source of our strength as the first peoples of this continent,’ Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Wizipan Garriott said during Tuesday’s opening presentation.”

“The summit is in its eighth year. Its funding is mandated by the Memorandum of Agreement on Native Languages, signed by ten federal agencies in the Biden Administration in November 2021, including the Department of the Interior and the Department of Education.”

It is so far removed—and yet so close in time, that we, as a country, were suppressing and trying to eradicate Native languages. It was a principal objective of the boarding schools; it Read The Article

“Indigenous-Authored Publications”

The book’s title is long enough and the paperback version is heavy enough to put some people off, but I want to tell you that Resilience Through Writing: A Bibliographic Guide to Indigenous-Authored Publications in the Pacific Northwest before 1960 is a gem.

I have been meaning to write this post for months, from the time its editor, Darby Stapp, sent it to me. I wrote to him immediately, saying that I could pick it up at any place and read it like a novel.

I open it randomly now, and find “Heck, Silas (‘Lone Wolf’),” and learn about the speech the “well-known Indian Shaker leader” of the Chehalis Tribe delivered at the 64th annual meeting of the Pioneer Association of Washington in Seattle in June of 1948. Heck apparently worried, in the full speech, which is not included in the bibliographic guide, that the sun is our chief, that gives life, and scientists are taking the sun’s energy to Read The Article

Women of the World

I met my first women doctors and agricultural engineers when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkey almost 60 years ago. This year, when I went back to Turkey for a short visit, I learned that an Islamist leaning regime has not stopped women from being doctors and engineers, graduate students and professors. And this morning I read about the women leading a revolution in Iran.

I don’t know that it will be called a revolution, or that it will be successful in overturning a repressive, Islamist government in Iran, but it has marks of success, and echoes the growing power of women across the world. Even a new rightist government in Italy is headed by a woman; and she is credited with taking a small, marginal party with Italian fascist roots traced to the disgraced dictator, Mussolini, into the mainstream. She appears to be angling for broad European acceptance as she bleats an anti-immigrant message.

Women won’t get Read The Article

Northern Paiutes of the Malheur

We recently had the pleasure of having David Wilson at the Josephy Center to talk about his new book. Wilson is not a historian, not a writer of books–until this one. He was, in a long law career, a writer of law briefs. He told us that he had set out to write a book in retirement. After scribbling about 100 pages on the John Day River, he thought what he had written was all pretty boring. So he threw it away, and reading about the Malheur, the Paiutes, and Chief Egan, his lawyerly self told him that history had it all wrong! And he set out to set it right.

The book has had good regional press, but how often does one of the historical texts that the University of Nebraska specializes in get a review in the New Yorker Magazine!

“Northern Paiutes of the Malheur, by David H. Wilson, Jr. (Nebraska). In 1879, the Northern Paiutes, a Read The Article

Wallowa Lake

September 12 might have been my last swim of 2022. The next swim will be January 1, 2023; it won’t really be a swim, but a plunge, a group of holiday enthusiasts getting in and out of Wallowa Lake as quickly as possible on New Year’s Day.

Although in my mind the water has been unusually warm this July, August and into September, Wallowa Lake has a reputation for cold in summers. Many lifelong residents swear they had one swim and that was enough, and although the New Year’s Day plunge attracts scores of young and old, new people and family groups, most of those cold-water believers sit it out. Read The Article

National Geographic Photo Camp

Twenty years ago—or even ten years ago—if someone suggested that the National Geographic Society would send professional photographers to Wallowa County to put on a workshop in photography and photojournalism for local and tribal young people, we’d not have believed it. But they did, and for the last week the Society’s crew of staff and students traveled the length of the valley, “connected by water,” taking pictures. Read The Article

Good news and Bad News in Indian Country

Friends texted and emailed me this yesterday to tell me that Mary Peltola, a Yup’ik
Alaskan Native, had won election in her state for the short remainder of a congressional term. She’ll run again for a full term in the fall. Even the short term marks a win for the Democrats, for women, and for Natives. And I will add her name to the celebratory list of Native achievements and achievers that I seem to be assembling—Chuck Sams, head of the National Park Service; Jaime Pinkham at the Defense Department; Shelly Lowe at the National Endowment for the Humanities; Marilynn Malerba, Treasurer of the United States; and Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior. Read The Article

Nez Perce teaching boxes

A few years ago, I put together a few books, laminated some maps and photos, called it a “Nez Perce Teaching Box,” and offered it to local teachers. A few teachers—Jennifer Gibbs in Wallowa most prominently—used the materials in their classrooms, but there was no wave of support for my project.

But times are changing. Tamkaliks grows, tribal root gatherers come to the Wallowa, Nez Perce Fisheries returns Coho to the Lostine, and Native Deb Haaland takes the Department of the Interior where no one has taken it before. Read The Article

From “Native News Online”

“HARBOR SPRINGS, Mich. — The second stop on the Road to Healing tour by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) and Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland (Bay Mills Indian Community) will visit the lands of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in the northern part of the Michigan’s Lower Peninsula on Saturday, August 13, 2022.

“The Road to Healing is a year-long tour across the United States to provide survivors of the federal Indian boarding school system and their descendants an opportunity to share their experiences. The Road to Healing tour began at the Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Okla. on July 9, 2022.”

……

  Read The Article

It’s in the—Native—water

I was in Portland a couple of weeks ago for a mini family reunion. My brother lives in Portland now, and my sister drove up from Sacramento. We were celebrating a granddaughter/niece going to Japan on a student exchange, and other, younger, grandchildren just for being who they are.

My siblings are all retired, but I am still working. Having worked in non-profits most of my life, with a 12-year hiatus running a bookstore that didn’t bring much profit, I work because I have to. But I also work because I want to, because I learn something new every day, and because my work with Native Americans is amazingly rewarding. Read The Article

A 500 year-old fiction

Years ago, when I knew much less of the Indian story in the Pacific Northwest, I had an informal Nez Perce history class here at the Josephy Center. A dozen of us were on the balcony one day when Tamastslikt director Bobbie Conner and her mother came in the door. I shouted down that we were talking about the Stephens Treaties of 1855. Bobbie shouted back that any discussion of Indian treaties had to begin with the Doctrine of Discovery. Read The Article

The Pope apologizes

The Canadian boarding school disclosures brought up old stories that had been neglected by governments and church hierarchies for decades. The stories are remembered well by the targets of religious coercion and victims of sexual and physical abuse who are with us still. The Pope came to Canada to apologize to them.

How does an apology compensate for decades—almost 200 years—of forced conversions, physical and sexual abuse, and loss of languages, cultures, and lives that Catholicism brought to Native North America? (And if we consider South America, make that 500 years!) Read The Article

A Celebration

I’m old enough to start measuring time in decades—Tamkaliks, the annual powwow and celebration on the Nez Perce Homeland grounds out of the town of Wallowa, just completed its third.

It was, in a word, stunning. There were over 150 dancers, and their regalia seemed bolder and sometimes more extravagant this year. There were 15 drums! My recollections are 10 drums, maybe 12. Even the number of drummers on a given drum seemed larger—six and seven drummers young and old reaching to get their sticks on the drum. The dance floor at the arbor was thick with old and young; it took long songs to get everyone onto and off the floor. Read The Article

Historical Errors and Omissions

In the new Smithsonian Magazine: “South to the Promised Land,” the “other” Underground Railroad, the one that went overland and across the Rio Grande to Mexico.

Mexico won its independence in 1821. And, fatefully, soon opened its doors to Anglo-American settlers in the northern frontier state of Texas. Some mixed American families—Whites who had freed and sometimes married their slaves—came to the remote lands to ranch, and became stops on that railroad. But most of the new settlers brought slaves, which resulted in confrontations with the Mexican government. In 1824, Mexico banned the importation of slaves. Anglo settlers called for a revolution, and in 1836 won independence from Mexico and wrote slavery into its constitution. The Alamo wasn’t all about freedom, especially for slaves and former slaves. Read The Article

The “Framers” and “Originalism”

My senior year of college I had a roommate, a graduate student in physics, who belonged to a small Christian denomination that held that musical instruments should not be played in church. No guitars or tambourines, no pianos or organs. These things were not mentioned in the New Testament. Read The Article

Deb Haaland is the “Queenpin,” but there is action in the countryside

As President Biden adds to his growing list of significant Native American appointments across the Cabinet and in Executive Branch positions, Deb Haaland, his first major Indian appointment, as Secretary of Interior, looms large and iconic as the head of the team. And its cheerleader extraordinaire. Two weeks ago she was at Dworshak Dam in Idaho, lauding a deal to give control of a steelhead and salmon hatchery to the Nez Perce Tribe. Yesterday she posted on Instagram, noting the transfer of 1,000 acres of ancestral homeland in the Tully Valley in Central New York returned to the Onondaga Nation.

Haaland leads the band of Native leaders appointed by President Biden. This week’s blockbuster appointment was Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba, who is chief of the Mohegan Tribe, as Treasurer of the United States. Chief Malerba is the first ever Native American to hold this position. The Treasurer directly oversees the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and Fort Knox. Read The Article

Haaland, Pinkham, and Dworshak Dam

Things are moving so quickly in Indian Country that it is hard to keep up. But I thought that anyone interested in this blog will be especially interested in Interior Secretary Haaland of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, and Jaime Pinkham of the Nez Perce Tribe, came together at Dworshak Dam to celebrate the transferral of the fish hatchery, which was constructed in 1969, and has been co-managed by the tribe for the past 18 years, to the Nez Perce Tribe. Read The Article

Biden gets it right (With help from Deb Haaland)!

In today’s paper I read that President Biden reversed Trump yet again, effectively returning to a 2014 policy that forbade the use of antipersonnel landmines in all but the defense of South Korea. It seems that a lot of what Biden does reverses previous government policy. And nowhere as much—or as effectively—as with Indian affairs, where the reversals overturn decades and even centuries of American government policies. Read The Article