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Friday, February 11, 2005

native news-feb 11

Newcomb: On challenging wrongful ideas
Posted: February 10, 2005
by: Steven Newcomb / Indigenous Law Institute

We, as indigenous peoples, have a sacred and solemn responsibility to continually challenge the dominant society. One of the most meaningful and powerful ways of doing so is by challenging wrongful ideas that are used as weapons against us.

Let me be clear on this point. Ideas shape and create reality. This is a truism that bears repeating. All human realities are constructed on the basis of ideas combined with human behavior.

A short story will help illustrate the point I'm trying to make. In his wonderful book ''Native Roots: How the Indians Enriched America'' (1991), Jack Weatherford tells the story of Garcilaso de la Vega, who was born to a Spanish conquistador father and the Incan mother Chimpa Ocllo.

As a young man, Garcilosa traveled to Spain where he became educated and mastered many European languages. He eventually became an incredible scholar who wrote a 1,500-page history of North America largely based on first-person accounts from Spaniards who returned to Spain from Florida, as the North American continent was then known to the Spanish.

According to Weatherford: ''When El Inca Garcilosa wrote, many people still saw the Indians as animals, little more than the monkeys and chimpanzees from Africa. When he started his work on Florida, the Spanish [royal] court was still considering the question 'What is an Indian?'... the issue was far more than an intellectual debate, for its answer would determine how the Indians must be treated.''

Notice that Weatherford is making the subtle point that the ideas formed by the Spaniards ''would determine how the Indians must be treated.'' Weatherford further said that if the idea of Indians as ''natural slaves'' prevailed, ''then the subhuman Indians could be enslaved at will by the Spanish without regard for their souls.'' In other words, the Spaniards' ideas about the ''Indians'' predetermined how the Spaniards would behave toward them. This story illustrates the way ''reality'' is constructed through the combination of ideas and human behavior.

The question arises: Why are we, as indigenous nations and peoples, continually allowing ourselves to be controlled and governed by the ideas of the dominant society? Shouldn't we be saying, and saying loudly, that the dominant society has no right to force its ideas upon us and then call those ideas ''the law?'' To the extent that we as indigenous peoples passively accept the ideas that the dominant society uses against us, we have, to that degree, thereby relinquished vitally important mental powers of sovereignty and self-determination. full column

Feds hiring private eyes to check abuse claims
Last Updated Feb 10 2005 03:46 PM CST
CBC News
WINNIPEG – The federal government is about to spend millions of dollars to send private investigators to check out the claims of former students who say they were abused at Indian residential schools.

Ottawa has issued a request for proposals from private investigators across the country, hoping to hire 21 firms to track down alleged abusers and people who may have witnessed physical and sexual abuse. In Manitoba, three companies will be hired.

The government is prepared to spend almost $3 million per year for three years on the project.

The project is designed to verify about 13,000 compensation claims that former students have filed against the federal government over its role in setting up and running the schools, starting in the early 1900s.

Aboriginal leaders and former students are outraged about the plan, which they say is both a waste of money and a provocative gesture that implies the government doesn't believe the abuse happened.

Ray Mason, who attended residential school, is appalled Ottawa is ready to spend millions of dollars to check out the stories of his former classmates.

"They are proposing to put these investigators to investigate whether we are telling lies," he says. "The only people that are going to benefit are the investigators. They going to get fat on the expense of our legacy, what we went through." full article

Last few Whulshootseed speakers spread the word

The Seattle Times

AUBURN, Wash. - (KRT) - At age 81, she is a cultural treasure at the Muckleshoot Reservation, even though she doesn't act like one and her outward demeanor can sometimes seem a little gruff.

Ellen Williams is the last person alive here fluent in the tribal language, the last one who can fully understand and speak a language that, with its clicking and consonants with popping sounds, is so vastly different from English.

Throughout the 26 federally recognized tribes in Washington state that scenario is being repeated, with elders who are fluent dwindling to a handful in each tribe.

When she recently visited the Muckleshoot Tribal College's native-language classroom, Williams was tearfully presented with a school T-shirt by Donna Starr, one of its two language instructors.

Starr became tearful because she feels so strongly about preserving the language, Whulshootseed, which she teaches to high-schoolers four days a week. Starr learned the language from her mother and then took classes in the language, rating her fluency as intermediate. But she has Williams to ask for correct pronunciations and meanings.full article

Park land a battleground over Indian burial site

By CHRIS G. DENINA, Times-Herald staff writer

For thousands of years, American Indians buried and cremated their dead in what's now known as Glen Cove Waterfront Park.
Today, the area at Vallejo's south end has become a battle ground as local organizations debate the site's future.

While the Greater Vallejo Recreation District solicits proposals to reopen a decades-old park mansion to the public, opposing groups are trying to build support for their side.

On Thursday, the Vallejo Inter-Tribal Council argued to preserve the burial grounds in a forum hosted by the Solano Peace and Justice Coalition.

Less than a mile away, Glen Cove Community Association members asked the GVRD board to create a natural park open to the public. full article

State lawmaker comes out in opposition to mascot bill
Indian leaders urge him to change his mind

Sam Lewin 2/10/2005

Native American activist leaders say they are “disappointed” that an Oklahoma lawmaker has come out in opposition to a bill that would ban the use of some Indian mascots.

Oklahoma State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre, a Democrat from District 11, said that the legislation, SB 567, was necessary because “I realized it is offensive to some people. As an African American I know how hurtful some words can be.”

Now State Rep. Mike Reynolds, (R-Oklahoma City), says he thinks the bill is taking “political correctness too far.”

“Words once meant as terms of honor now seem to be derogatory terms,” said Reynolds. “I think we’re letting political correctness run amok when we start legislating names for football teams. full article


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