Huckleberry Harvesters

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The gate to swədaʔx̌ali huckleberry fields was opened from August 25 to September 10, allowing tribal members a two-week window to walk in the shadows of their ancestors and harvest the elusive mountain huckleberry. Traditionally, the end of summer meant an annual trek of berry picking parties into the high regions of the Cascade Mountains to harvest the rare and sought after dark maroon huckleberries.

Mountain huckleberries are larger than the lowland evergreen variety and are more delicately flavored. They are found on high sunny slopes at about 5,000 feet elevation, and ripen towered the latter part of August and into early September. Fortunately, the Tulalip Tribes and its Natural Resources team has invested countless man hours and resources into a co-stewardship area located within the Skykomish Watershed, a place where our ancestors once resided. This pristine co-stewardship area allows tribal members to learn and practice traditional teachings in an ancestral space called swədaʔx̌ali (Lushootseed for “place of mountain huckleberries”).

Over Labor Day weekend, a number of Tulalips used the holiday to undertake the 2-hour journey to swədaʔx̌ali and spend a day breathing the fresh mountainous air while berry picking under the summer sun. Among the harvesters was first-time berry picker and Lushootseed language teacher Maria Martin.

“It was a beautiful, uplifting experience. Once we hit the forest, where there were no buildings, no cars, no people, just trees…my soul soared. I couldn’t not smile,” reflects Maria on her time at swədaʔx̌ali. “I’ve read and heard stories of people out picking berries and I always wondered how that felt. I didn’t grow up doing traditional things. I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak my language, but that is only a piece of my culture.

“Berry picking felt natural, like I’ve always done it. The smells were intoxicating. The sounds beautiful, from the buzzing bugs and chirping birds to the families sharing laughs and love. These are the meaningful experiences that we all need to share in. While I was picking I told myself the story of “Owl lady and Chipmunk”, and sang Martha Lamont’s berry picking song; connecting the pieces of my culture, my words with my actions I felt whole. When I returned home I gave away a batch of my berries to an elder, which was very meaningful to me. Those that can hunt and gather are responsible for gathering enough for those that cannot. We are all family and we all are responsible for taking care of one another.”

Several tribal members who recently returned from Canoe Journey also used Labor Day to pick mountain huckleberries, including George Lancaster, Shane McLean and Dean Pablo. George brought up his nephew Brutal and his aunt Lynette Jimicum so they could soak up the experience as well.

“It’s awesome having the opportunity to be up here,” says George. “Being up here, I remembered blackberry picking with my grandma as a kid and that made me happy. I look forward to using my harvested berries to make pie. I love pie!”

“I absolutely love being here,” adds Lynette. “Having my grandson Brutal here and being able to teach him that there’s more activities than just playing video games. It means a lot to me to show him the value of outdoor activities, like berry picking and hiking in the woods.”

For tribal member Shane McLean, his thoughts have been impacted by the ongoing natural disasters like the droughts plaguing the Pacific Northwest and raging forest fires throughout the region causing smoke and ash to cloud the skies.

“My short-term goal is to give some berries away, my long-term goal is to get a four year supply. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the prophecy telling us to be prepared for the future,” states Shane. “It’s said you should have four years of your traditional food stored away, just in case there’s something that might happen. We can see there’s natural disasters happening all over. I’m thankful the berries are even here to be harvested.”

Unlocking Indigenous Knowledge

Burke Museum helping to revive lost traditions

 

The model Angyaaq, which means ‘open boat’ to the Sugpiat peoples of Alaska. Photo/Micheal Rios

The model Angyaaq, which means ‘open boat’ to the Sugpiat peoples of Alaska.
Photo/Micheal Rios

 

by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The Burke Museum, located on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, is home to more than 16 million historical artifacts and objects. The thing is, only a few thousand are on display on a daily basis. Of those millions and millions of artifacts hidden away in archives and storage rooms, there is no telling how many hold cultural keys that could unlock indigenous knowledge once thought lost or destroyed forever during colonization and European settlement.

Enter Dr. Sven Haakanson, member of the Alutiq people of Kodiak, Alaska. Sven is a world renowned curator of North American ethnology and currently the head of Native American anthropology at the Burke Museum. Sven has joined the Burke team to use the museum’s amazing collection and vast resources to find those keys to indigenous knowledge currently hidden away.

“For me, the real privilege is having access to such an amazing collection because when I look at ethnographic pieces I don’t see an art piece, I see a historic object,” says Sven. “I see something that we can use the museum as a way to bring back a lot of that traditional knowledge, that we thought was lost, and put it back into a living context.”

A prime example of rediscovering indigenous knowledge that was thought lost forever has been the finding of simple model boat. Well, it was thought of as simple and sat away in collections until Sven came across it and realized he had stumbled across long lost knowledge.

What he found was a model Angyaaq, which means ‘open boat’ to the Sugpiat peoples of Alaska. This model Angyaaq is one of only a dozen known to exist and hold secrets to a long ago mode of transportation. It demonstrates a lost building tradition, models the difference pieces needed, and material and engineering techniques used to build a full-size Angyaaq – like marine animal skins to wrap the hull and lashing to tie all the pieces together. This model is key to Sven unlocking and reviving a practice of boat making absent on Kodiak for nearly 200 years.

According to Burke researchers, the Angyaat (plural for Angyaaq) were an essential part of the Sugpiat peoples of Southern Alaska’s livelihood and culture for thousands of years. An open boat used for transportation, hunting, trading, warring and more. Angyaat were a symbol of prosperity and wealth. Remnants of these boats are present in archaeological sites; yet, by the 1820s, roughly twenty years after contact, Russian settlers had either taken or destroyed all Angyaat in an effort to restrict the Native peoples’ ability to move, gather in large numbers, and display their wealth and power. Due to this destruction, very little is known about a type of boat once common on Kodiak Island.

What Sven set out to do was first make successful models of the model, in an effort to teach himself how to build the open boat without the use of modern methods. “No nails, no glue” in order to replicate and then teach the traditional way. After many intricate sketches and even more attempted models later, Sven had taught himself how to replicate the Angyaaq model using the same traditional techniques. The next phase is to use the model to build a full-size, working boat.

 

Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios

 

“By building this traditional boat in the traditional style, we are taking information that was lost from my community in the 1800s and figuring out innovative ways restore that indigenous knowledge,” explains Sven. “We are not just reverse engineering the model, but we will build a full-size one so we can share that information back into the communities from which it came. This is just one example of thousands that we can do for the next 100 years for our local Native communities both here in Washington and in Alaska.”

“The amazing can happen when you look at these museum objects not just as beautiful art pieces, but think about the history embodied in them. Think about what it means to the indigenous peoples and how they can then take this lost knowledge and re-embrace it while celebrating it. For me, it’s a process of rediscovery, of looking at how innovative, how adaptive, and how scientific my ancestors were. In that, this Angyaaq is just one example of who knows how many others we have and haven’t explored yet. I’m hoping this will be a catalyst for asking even more questions and continue to be innovative as we search through the past.”

Over the summer, Sven will travel to Kodiak Island to work with tribal members on the construction of several model Angyaat, with the goal of training students how to build a full-size, working boat in the future. Practicing this reconstruction with community members is helping share Sugpiat heritage and traditions, restoring knowledge that’s been lost, and providing a research model for others around the world to emulate.

Until then, Sven with continue to hone his Angyaat building skills as he hosts a live exhibit that can be witnessed by all. Witness the revival of a lost practice as part of a special month-long program at the Burke Museum. Visitors can see the finished Angyaaq in the Maker-Market from December 20 – January 3. Check burkemuseum.org/maker for the up-to-date boat construction schedule.

 

The indigenous land rights ruling that could transform Canada

Indigenous rights offer a path to a radically more just and sustainable country – which is why the Canadian government is bent on eliminating them

 

 Fish Lake on Tsilhqot’in territory in British Columbia, where the Indigenous Tsilhqot’in nation has prevented a copper and gold mine from being built. Photograph: Friends of the Nemaiah Valley

Fish Lake on Tsilhqot’in territory in British Columbia, where the Indigenous Tsilhqot’in nation has prevented a copper and gold mine from being built. Photograph: Friends of the Nemaiah Valley

 

By Martin Lukacs, The Guardian

The unrest is palpable. In First Nations across Canada, word is spreading of a historic court ruling recognizing Indigenous land rights. And the murmurs are turning to action: an eviction notice issued to a railway company in British Columbia; a park occupied in Vancouver; lawsuits launched against the Enbridge tar sands pipeline; a government deal reconsidered by Ontario Algonquins; and sovereignty declared by the Atikamekw in Quebec.

These First Nations have been emboldened by this summer’s Supreme Court of Canada William decision, which recognized the aboriginal title of the Tsilhqot’in nation to 1,750 sq km of their land in central British Columbia – not outright ownership, but the right to use and manage the land and to reap its economic benefits.

The ruling affects all “unceded” territory in Canada – those lands never signed away through a treaty or conquered by war. Which means that over an enormous land mass – most of British Columbia, large parts of Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and a number of other spots – a new legal landscape is emerging that offers the prospect of much more responsible land stewardship.

First Nations are starting to act accordingly, and none more so than the Tsilhqot’in. They’ve declared a tribal park over a swath of their territory. And they’ve announced their own policy on mining – a vision that leaves room for its possibility, but on much more strict environmental terms. Earlier this month they erected a totem pole to overlook a sacred area where copper and gold miner Taseko has for years been controversially attempting to establish itself; no mine will ever be built there.

And the Canadian government’s response? Far from embracing these newly recognised indigenous land rights, they are trying to accelerate their elimination. The court has definitively told Canada to accept the reality of aboriginal title: the government is doing everything in its power to deny it.

Canadians can be pardoned for believing that when the country’s highest court renders a decision, the government clicks their heels and sets themselves to implementing it. The judiciary directs, the executive branch follows: that’s how we’re taught it works. But it doesn’t always – and especially not when what’s at stake is the land at the heart of Canada’s resource extraction.

The new land rights ruling is now clashing directly with the Canadian government’s method for cementing their grip on land and resources. It’s a negotiating policy whose name – the so-called Comprehensive Land Claims – is intended to make your eyes glaze over. But its bureaucratic clothing disguises the government’s naked ambition: to grab as much of indigenous peoples’ land as possible.

This is what dispossession by negotiation looks like. The government demands that First Nations trade away – or in the original term, to “extinguish” – their rights to 95% of their traditional territory. Their return is some money and small parcels of land, but insidiously, as private property, instead of in the collective way that indigenous peoples have long held and stewarded it. And First Nations need to provide costly, exhaustive proof of their rights to their own land, for which they have amassed a stunning $700 million in debt – a debt the government doesn’t think twice about using to arm-twist.

Despite the pressure, most First Nations have not yet signed their names to these crooked deals – especially when the supreme court is simultaneously directing the government to reconcile with First Nations and share the land. But the supreme court’s confirmation that this approach is unconstitutional and illegal matters little to the government. What enables them to flout their own legal system is that Canadians remain scarcely aware of it.

Acting without public scrutiny, prime minister Stephen Harper is trying to shore up support for this policy – now 40 years old – to finally secure the elimination of indigenous land rights. The process is led by the same man, Douglas Eyford, who has been Harper’s advisor on getting tar sands pipelines and energy projects built in western Canada. That is no coincidence. The government is growing more desperate to remove the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of a corporate bonanza for dirty fossil fuels: the unceded aboriginal title of First Nations – backed now by the supreme court of Canada.

A public commenting period opened during the government’s pr blitz has created an opportunity for the indigenous rights movement and concerned Canadians to demand a long-overdue change in the government’s behaviour. Recognising aboriginal title, restoring lands to First Nations management, would be to embrace the diversity and vision we desperately need in this moment of ecological and economic crisis.

Because the government agenda is not just about extinguishing indigenous land rights. It’s about extinguishing another way of seeing the world. About extinguishing economic models that prize interdependence with the living world, that recognise prosperity isn’t secured by the endless depletion of resources. And about extinguishing a love for the land, a love rooted in the unique boundaries and beauty of a place.

“The land is the most important thing,” Tsilhqot’in chief Roger William told me. “Our songs, our place names, our history, our stories – they come from the land that we are a part of. All of it is interrelated with who we are.”

The few days I spent in Tsilhqot’in territory five years ago made that vivid. It is a land of snow-capped mountains – Ts’il-os, who in their stories was a man transformed into giant rock after separating from his wife. Wild horses stalk the valleys. Salmon smoke on drying racks. The Tsilhqot’in carefully protect and nurture these fish – running stronger in their rivers than anywhere else in the province.

That’s why the habit of government officials, of media and even of supreme court judges to call the Tsilhqoti’in “nomadic” bothers William so much: his people have lived on these lands for thousands of years, while it is non-natives who are constantly moving and resettling. And what could be more nomadic and transient than the extractive industry itself – grabbing what resources and profits it can before abandoning one area for another.

As Canadians look more closely, they are discovering that the unceded status of vast territories across this country is not a threat, as they’ve long been told. It is a tremendous gift, protected with love by indigenous nations over generations, to be seized for the possibilities it now offers for governing the land in a radically more just and sustainable way for everyone.

In this battle between the love of the land and a drive for its destruction, those behind the extractive economy have everything to lose and indigenous peoples everything to win. The rest of us, depending on our stand, have a transformed country to gain.

Ask a Mexican: Why don’t more Mexicans self-identify as Native?

 

Gustavo Arellano

Gustavo Arellano

 

Source: Indianz.com

 

Gustavo Arellano, also known as the Mexican behind the syndicated column ¡Ask a Mexican!, explains why Mexicans are reluctant to identify themselves as indigenous even though they boast large numbers in the United States:

It’s no real surprise that Mexis would either not mark any other box to denote their raza or just mark “white.” As you most likely know, no one in Mexico wants to identify as Indian because they’re at the bottom of the race chain. That stigma still carries over to the United States: Figures from the 2010 U.S. Census showed that about 175,000 people identified as “Mexican-American Indian,” which would make this group the fourth-largest Native American tribe in the United Unidos (only Cherokee, Choctaw, and Navajo would be bigger). But consider that in “Indigenous Oaxacan Communities in California: An Overview,” a 2007 paper by Lisa Kresge for the California Institute for Rural Studies, the estimated population for this group alone was about 350,000 — and that’s just for the Golden State, and doesn’t include the many Purépecha, Yaquis, Otomis, Mayas, Totonacs, and many other Mexican indigenous groups in Cali.

Get the Story:
Gustavo Arellano: Ask a Mexican on Mexicans Who Self-Identify as White (The Phoenix New Times 9/4) Related Stories:
Immigrants who speak Native languages face difficulty in US (07/14)

Up Where She Belongs: Buffy Sainte-Marie Making First Album in 6 Years

 

Christie Goodwin'I don't think about calendars, deadlines or styles,' says Sainte-Marie. 'I just play and sing whatever I dream up.'

Christie Goodwin
‘I don’t think about calendars, deadlines or styles,’ says Sainte-Marie. ‘I just play and sing whatever I dream up.’

 

Canadian-born Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is a living legend, famous for such Indigenous anthems as “Universal Soldier” and “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.” But few know that Sainte-Marie led the earliest charge into electronic music at the same time she was being celebrated worldwide as a “folk” artist. She’s now preparing to make her first album since the award-winning 2008 relase Running For the Drum. Speaking from her current home in Hawaii, Sainte-Marie gave ICTMN the lowdown on the directon she’ll be heading with her new music. This is the second of a three-part series; for the first, which focused on her thoughts about the environment, see Buffy Sainte-Marie on Tar Sands: “You’ve Got to Take This Seriously”.Do you know when your new album is due to come out? Is there a title?We haven’t decided. I just spent three weeks out on the road in Nashville, Toronto and L.A. auditioning producers, so I have not yet made my choices. I don’t know if I’ll work with several producers or just one. But I’m sure excited about the music. We’re choosing from about 30 different songs. It’s going to be fun. It’ll be done when it’s done!

 

Your last album, of course, got a Juno as well as an Aboriginal People’s Choice Award (and around that time you were inducted into the Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Fame) — in many ways, it was a departure from your other work in the immediacy of it.You think so? The songs, as always, were very diverse. I wasn’t worried about trying to make them all the same. Some of those songs I had in the can for a long time, and some were things I’d written over the years. I’d take something I’d written in my notebook in 1970 and I’ll add a second verse in 1980 and I’ll finish it last week. That’s always how it is for me – I have a kind of helicopter vision of life itself. I don’t think about calendars, deadlines or styles. I just play and sing whatever I dream up. Writing for me is just really, really natural. It’s the same as it was when I was a little kid. I hope I’m getting better though!

There’s an immediacy to your sound that really speaks to today. But you’ve always had that along the way. A lot of people were a little bit surprised hearing me with electronic sounds, but that’s because they maybe hadn’t heard about me for a while – so it might have been new to them, but it wasn’t new to me. In 1965, I made the first-ever electronic quadraphonic (four-channel) vocal album, Illuminations.

Is there anything about your new album people should look out for, in terms of style or subjects you’re addressing? Any surprises? It depends. Most people don’t listen to me, so they’re always surprised! (Laughs) Especially if they think I’m a folk singer. But people who have been listening all along will be surprised, because the whole world continues to grow. And that includes me and you. So it will be different. “The Uranium War” is one song, another is “Look at the Facts,” “Your Link with Life” is another. There’ll be some remixes… It’s a really interesting album. There’s some love songs on it, and some Aboriginal things, but mostly it’s just solid songs that are good to dance to or fun to listen to, or whatever.

One of your most famous songs, ‘Up Where We Belong,’ has really been turned into a love anthem. But it has such a special meaning for many Indigenous people, who can read it in a completely different way from non-Indigenous people. What are your thoughts on that? It’s a beautiful love song, but from the perspective of history suddenly it gives you a chill down your spine. I’m glad that it got to be the main theme for the film An Officer and a Gentleman, that’s about the military. Because sometimes people are surprised to see how many veterans come to my concerts, and to find out that soldiers in Vietnam were carving “Universal Soldier” into their bunk beds. If you think pacifists and military people hate each other, it’s not true. That’s just not accurate at all. The fact that “Up Where We Belong” – a love song that does have a real double-entendre meaning – was heard by so many people who don’t ordinarily come to hear me — how good is that? We always have to remain open to the fact that audiences are going to interpret your songs personally for themselves. I think that’s the true power of songs. It’s wonderful… Music has always been a powerful medium, and now with the Internet it can reach so many more people.

To keep up with Buffy Sainte-Marie, follow her on Twitter @buffystemarie and at facebook.com/BuffySainteMarie.

 
Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/08/where-she-belongs-buffy-sainte-marie-making-first-album-6-years-154362?page=0%2C1