UW Seminar: Preserving the Past Together

Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe and presidential appointed Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, was the keynote speaker.


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The University of Washington has created a new seminar and workshop series sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, Office of Research, and the Burke Museum. These two-hour luncheon events bring together tribal representatives, tribal historic preservation offices, representatives from local, state and federal agencies, and cultural resources managers to evaluate the contemporary needs and challenges of preserving heritage in the Salish Sea. The objective is to foster the development of collaborative approaches to heritage management and historic preservation that integrate the needs of these diverse stakeholders.

On Thursday, January 12, the opening seminar of the four-part series, titled Collaborating on Heritage in the Puget Sound, was held at UW’s ωəɬəbʔαltxʷ Intellectual House. Taking place was a facilitated conversation with representatives from local tribes, the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, UW Law, and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“We want to provide a forum for archaeologists, heritage professionals, and tribal cultural resource managers to consider the current challenges and future possibilities of managing heritage in our own backyard,” explained Sara Gonzalez, UW Assistant Professor and seminar moderator. “Our objective is strengthen and build upon existing methods of knowledge sharing from the diverse stewards and stakeholders who are sitting here today. We have the unique opportunity to think more deeply and creatively about how we can best use our resources to contribute to the capacity of tribes, as well as local agencies and cultural resource firms to manage heritage within the Salish Sea.”

Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe and presidential appointed Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, was the key-note speaker and gave a heartfelt opening address that connected with many in the room. The following is an excerpt of his speech that explains the important of cultural resources and sacred site protection to Native peoples and how these topics apply to Standing Rock.

“Cultural resources has always been deep in my heart and remains a key pillar of my thinking as we move forward. There are a number of issues that face the tribes, from economic development to habitat protection to educating our children to justice and housing for our people. Many, many aspects of our tribal governments take into account the physical cultural resources unique to our respective nations and communities, as well as our spiritual culture.

One topic that there’s been a lot of talk about recently is sacred site protection, especially in regards to Standing Rock. We know natural resources is vital as a part of the context for identifying a sacred site. We are hearing a lot that cultural practitioners are being asked to step in and explain those elements that essentially tell us why a place is important spiritually. The Standing Rock – DAPL protest is an example of this, where there are a lot of different factors and influences to the protest. There’s a very strong argument based on sacred site protection. This highlights the importance landscape has to us as Native people, that we have these ancestral connections to the land.

Chief Seattle spoke of our interconnectedness with the land and nature in his most memorable speech. He explained how we live with our ancestors on a daily basis and how they are with us all the time. What happens to the land is permanent, and knowing this we are very concerned about what may impact the land because that in turn impacts our lives. That is why we are so adamant about protecting our cultural resources and sites we can preserve because we want to remain respectful of that constant presence in our lives.”

Native American scholar John Mohawk (Seneca) defined culture as a learned means of survival in an environment. As tribes, our means of survival used to be finding what the need was within our community and then each member doing their part to fulfill that need.

In thinking about opportunities and challenges of caring for heritage and protecting our culture in the Pacific Northwest, there is a glaring need to better understand one another. We have to work together to communicate and understand each other’s viewpoints, instead of making assumptions about one another. There are assumptions made about the tribes, about the government, about federal agencies, and seemingly everything in between. Some of these assumptions may be true, but a lot of them aren’t. We have to make sure that we talk to each other and feel safe in doing that, even if it means being blunt in order to express how we feel.



In order to preserve the past together and continue protecting our cultural resources there must be an open dialogue that allows for questions and understanding. This UW workshop series is a promoter of such dialogue and looks to build upon all the knowledge shared and communicated by all those who attend. The next workshop in the series, Meaningful Collaboration and Indigenous Archaeologies, takes place on February 16 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Suzzallo Allen Library (located on the UW campus). For more information please visit http://blogs.uw.edu/preserve.


Contact Micheal Rios: mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Promote Preservation of Native American Languages

 Press release, United States Senate 
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) announced they have introduced the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act, a bill to provide grants to Native American language educational organizations to preserve disappearing Native languages in Indian Country. The bill reauthorizes the Native American Languages Program until 2020, and includes improvements to expand the program’s eligibility to smaller-sized classes and allow for longer grant periods. 
The senators’ bill reauthorizes legislation that first passed in 2006 with Udall’s leadership, named for the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo master storyteller Esther Martinez. The Esther Martinez Native American Preservation Act amends the Native American Languages Act of 1990 to strengthen Native language education by creating and funding Native language nests, Native language survival schools, and Native American language restoration programs. The program’s current authorization expired in 2012, but annual appropriations have continued during the lapse. 
“Esther Martinez was one of New Mexico’s strongest advocates for preserving Native heritage and language, and I’m proud to introduce this legislation to honor and continue her work. Grants through the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act help families and communities keep their languages alive, preserving the deep history and culture behind them,” Udall said. “Language education is about more than tradition; it fosters pride and an interconnectedness between generations and has been linked to higher academic achievement among Native youth. I’m pleased to support the continuation and expansion of these important grants in New Mexico and across the country.” 
“Preserving Native language is central to cultural identity, and that’s what Esther Martinez fought for,” Heinrich said. “Languages like Keres, Tewa, Tiwa, Towa, Zuni, Diné, Eastern Apache and Western Apache, make us a stronger, more culturally rich and historically grounded nation. Simultaneously, the preservation and instruction of these languages raises high school graduation rates and college enrollment for tribal students. Teaching and preserving these languages should be a central educational priority. This bill helps to achieve that goal.”
“The spoken language of our Native peoples is the thread that weaves together generations, enriching tribal communities and strengthening their sovereignty and culture,” said Heitkamp. “Throughout North Dakota, we have seen the benefits of enabling Native American children to learn their native languages – helping them understand their history and culture while also giving them the tools they need to learn and grow. This bipartisan bill will enable these critical programs continue to give Native American children the head start they deserve while also helping make sure their sacred bonds and ancestral stories are protected and strengthened for future generations.”
“Preserving native languages connects students with generations of rich history and culture,” Tester said. “This bill strengthens cultural identity, helps keep students in school, and preserves the vibrant history of Indian Country. We need to act to ensure the survival of native languages before it is too late.”
“Language is key to maintaining cultural heritage,” said Franken. “The Native American Languages Program promotes learning of Dakota, Ojibwe, and other languages throughout Indian Country. This legislation is about not only teaching the words themselves but also passing along the history and culture those words represent.”
“Once nearly extinct, the Hawaiian language lives today through thousands of speakers in Hawai‘i and across the country,” Schatz said. “Visiting schools in Hawai‘i, I have seen first-hand how critical Native language schools and programs are in preserving the Hawaiian language and culture. Our legislation will help strengthen language programs and ensure the Hawaiian language and many other indigenous languages continue to thrive for generations to come.”
Based on recommendations from tribes and the administration, the senators included improvements to the program in this bill to reduce the class size eligibility for the grants and allow longer grant periods of up to five years. The bill reduces the number of students required for eligibility from 10 to five for Native American language nests, which provide childcare and instruction for children up to age seven and their parents. The bill also reduces the class size required for eligibility from 15 to 10 students for Native language survival schools, which aim for their students to achieve Native language fluency, and provide teacher training and development to support successful language learning. The urgent need to protect and preserve Native American languages is clear and applications for grants through the program roughly doubled from fiscal year 2013 to 2014, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Meet The Generation Of Incredible Native American Women Fighting To Preserve Their Culture

by Danielle Seewalker, Marie Claire

Native Americans represent just one per cent of the US population and some languages have only one speaker left. Now a new generation is fighting to preserve the culture.

Meet the women leading that fight:

Evereta Thinn
Age: 30
Tribe Affiliation: Diné (Navajo)
Occupation: Administrator at a Shonto School District

When Evereta entered college as the only Native American in her English 101 class, it was at that moment she realized that she needed to speak up and not be that stereotypical ‘shy’ Indian that keeps to herself. She started bywriting an essay in that very class about living in ‘two worlds’; living in the traditional world and living in the modern world and how Native Americans need to find that balance in today’s society. ‘Knowing who you are as a Native, know the teachings from your elders and engraining them as you go out into the modern world is how you maintain that balance’. She further explains that ‘once the language fades, the culture will slowly start to go too. If the younger generations cannot speak the language, how will they be equipped to make decisions on policies and protect our tribes in the future?’ She aspires to start a language and cultural immersion school for the Diné (Navajo) people.


Alayna Eagle Shield (left) and Tonia Jo Hall (right)
Age: 24
Tribe Affiliation: Lakota & Arikara
Occupation: Teacher in the Lakota Language Nest Head Start program/Medical student

Alayna currently holds a seat in the National Native Youth Cabinet under the National Congress of American Indians (CNAI). Three key issues that she addresses on behalf of the Native youth population are the importance of language and culture, bullying, and lack of education. Her passion to keep the language alive stems from her father being one of the few fluent Lakota speakers. He chose not to speak it to her as a child, but as she grew older, she understood the importance of keeping the language alive. ‘Speaking your language is a guide to knowing who you are as a Native’, says Alayna.

Shawn Little Thunder
Age: 26
Tribe Affiliation: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Occupation: Poet / Singer / Songwriter

Growing up, Shawn was severely shy and timid. It wasn’t until after graduating high school that she was urged by a musician friend to be featured in one of his songs. This was a freeing moment for her and a new outlet to express herself. She began to write poetry and join local talent shows. While holding a work position at a teen group home, Shawn encouraged the teens to keep a journal and write how they felt. Most of what the teens wrote was poetry and songs so Shawn began a poetry workshop that led to an open mic at the group home. She decided to expand her efforts and encourage others to speak freely at local events and pow wows. Rez Poetry: ‘Wičhóiye Wašaka’ (Strong Words) was the name she coined for her events. ‘That’s what I want to do, empower other Natives, especially the younger generations’.

Sage Honga
Age: 22
Tribe Affiliation: Hualapai, Hopi & Diné (Navajo)
Occupation: Server at W Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona

Sage earned the title of 1st attendant in the 2012 annual pageant, Miss Native American USA. From that point forward, she has been encouraging Native youth to travel off the reservation to explore opportunities. In Native American culture, knowledge is power and the youth are encouraged to leave the reservations, get an education and then come home to give back to your people. ‘My tribe, the Hualapai people, is so small that I want to be a role model to show my community and youth that it is possible to come off our land and do big things’.

Juliana Brown Eyes-Clifford
Age: 23
Tribe Affiliation: Oglala Lakota & Samoan
Occupation: Musician, photographer, film maker, artist

Juliana and her husband, Scotti Clifford, have formed the band, ‘Scatter Their Own’ (which is the English translation for the word Oglala). They travel to various Indian reservations and other parts of the country to play their music. They are self-taught, cannot read music and play what comes out naturally from their hearts. Juliana is inspired to play for the youth and inspire them to branch out and learn about the arts and music which are topics not generally exposed on the reservation. The songs they write are about Mother Earth, social justice and about the Native American culture.

Kelli Brooke Haney

Age: 33
Tribe Affiliation: Seminole, Creek and Choctaw
Occupation: Musician / Artist

As the daughter the internationally recognized Native American artist and former Chief of the Seminole Nation, Enoch Kelly Haney, it’s no shock that artistic and bold talent radiate from the ever-inspiring Kelli Brooke. In the early 2000s she formed a rockabilly band with her best friend called The Oh Johnny! Girls and also has a solo music project called Hudson Roar. Kelli grew up in a household where her parents spoke Seminole Creek as the first language. She is also the mother to a sweet five-year old boy, Jack, and expresses the importance of raising him with Native American traditions as well as encouraging him to embrace his own artistic talents.

Juanita C. Toledo
Age: 28
Tribe Affiliation: Walatowa-Pueblo of Jemez
Occupation: Works for the Community Wellness Program on Jemez Pueblo Reservation

Growing up, Juanita was valedictorian of her charter school, President of the Native American Youth Empowerment (NAYE) group, and on the executive committee of UNITY (United National Indian Tribal Youth Organization). During college things changed dramatically for Juanita. She felt the pressure of life and quickly fell into depression, anxiety and succumbed to drugs and alcohol after dealing with a very traumatizing family event. ‘It was the worst time of my life; I really thought I was going to die and I wanted to die’. In 2012, she had a turning point. ‘I started to believe in my dreams and in myself again.’ She ran for Miss Indian World, one of the most prestigious honours a Native American woman could receive. Although she didn’t take the title, her tribal community was extremely proud of her representation. Today, she works for the Community Wellness program on her reservation and has truly influenced positive changes in the program and in her community.

See more images and read the full story in the September issue of Marie Claire.

Read more at http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/blogs/547176/meet-the-generation-of-incredible-native-american-women-fighting-to-preserve-their-culture.html#MWbYWw3Kys2cYPEv.99

National Park Service Awards Historic Preservation Grants to Indian Tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian Organizations

Source: National Park Service


WASHINGTON – National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today announced more than $700,000 in historic preservation grants to 18 American Indian tribes and Alaskan Natives organizations.
“These grants help America’s first peoples in preserving significant tribal places, culture and tradition,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Whether used to create oral history programs, operate museums and cultural centers, or develop training and education programs, the grants help all Americans gain a greater appreciation of our nation’s rich traditions and cultures.”
The competitive grants can also be used to fund projects such as nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, preservation education, architectural planning, historic structure reports, community preservation plans, and bricks-and-mortar repair to buildings.
Congress provides these grant appropriations each year with revenue from Federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. The National Park Service administers the grants through the Historic Preservation Fund on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior.
For more information about the National Park Service tribal preservation programs and grants, please visit: http://www.nps.gov/tribes/Tribal_Historic_Preservation_Officers_Program.htm.
Ahtna Heritage Foundation (Alaska)                         $39,523
Igiugig Village Council (Alaska)                                $26,691
Native Village of Ambler (Alaska)                             $39,942
Seldovia Village Tribe, IRA (Alaska)                         $40,000
Hoopa Valley Tribe, (California)                                $40,000
Ione Band of Miwok Indians (California)                  $40,000
Sherwood Valley Rancheria Valley Band of Pomo Indians, (California)      $40,000
Kohe Malamaiam O Kanaloa(Protect Kaho’olawe Fund), (Hawaii)             $34,175
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (Michigan)            $40,000
The Prairie Island Paiute Tribe (Nevada)                    $39,421
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (Nevada)                           $36,902
Navajo Nation – Fort Defiance Chapter (New Mexico)      $40,000
Pueblo of Santa Ana (New Mexico)                           $38,579
Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, (Oklahoma)                      $30,925
Peori Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma (Oklahoma)        $48,000
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma (Oklahoma)               $40,000
Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, (Oklahoma)      $59,692
Confederated tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua,
     and Siuslaw Indians (Oregon)                               $39,066
TOTAL                                                                      $712,916

Around the Region: Native games clinic teaches pride in culture

Native American students play a game of lacrosse during the International Traditional Games Society's conference on the Flathead Indian Reservation this past summer. / Courtesy of the International Traditional Games Society

Native American students play a game of lacrosse during the International Traditional Games Society’s conference on the Flathead Indian Reservation this past summer. / Courtesy of the International Traditional Games Society

by David Murray, Great Falls Tribune

Humankind has been improvising and playing games since before recorded history. More than just a means of idle entertainment, the games we play are a reflection of our common cultural values and are frequently as important for the lessons they teach as they are for the enjoyment they provide.

That was one of the messages passed on to students attending a three-day clinic on traditional games hosted by the International Traditional Games Society in Browning this past week.

For 16 years, the Montana-based organization has worked to recover, document, preserve and pass on the knowledge of ancient games once commonly played by North American tribal peoples.

According to Craig Falcon, executive director of ITGS, recovering the games is far more significant than an anthropological exercise. Falcon, who is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe, sees the games as tool to help Native people reclaim their cultural pride.

“They teach our people the culture. They give them back a sense of identity, which sets in pride, self-esteem, respect for community, respect for tribal elders and the environment,” Falcon said. “In a way these games are huge healing and life-skills tools, because when the reservation and boarding school periods started, all those things were stripped away. These games help to bring some of that back. They help to fill in that gap.”

The clinic in Browning was held at the tribal powwow grounds, in a building specifically dedicated to the practice and dissemination of traditional tribal games. Tribal members representing many of Montana’s tribes attended the event. Some were educators, learning the games to teach the tribal colleges and high schools. Others were students preparing to take what they learned back to their schools to share with classmates, or younger children who were there simply to enjoy them.

All took part in games like “ring the stick” and “arrow casting,” “sticks in the fist” and “the stone people game.” Each of these contests had a deeper purpose, often to hone survival skills or strengthen clan relationships.

“It was not just a game, there was always a value or a purpose that was taught,” explained DeeAnna Leader, development coordinator for ITGS.

The movement to reinvigorate traditional games in Montana began in 1991 as an exploratory program to incorporate their use by children at the Browning Middle School. Organizers quickly discovered that the youth of that generation had very little knowledge of the games common to their culture. Educators within the Browning School District prompted students to ask their grandparents and tribal elders about the games they played during their own childhood.

From Browning, the program expanded to the Salish Kootenai College in Pablo on the Flathead Indian Reservation. As more Native people were exposed to the programs, their popularity grew.

In 1997, representatives from tribal colleges throughout Montana and southern Alberta met with tribal cultural directors during a conference at the University of Montana.

The end result was the creation of the International Traditional Games Society.

Some of the games the ITGS has restored are simple. Run and Scream is no more complex than its name suggests. Competitors stand at a starting point, draw in a deep breath of air then run as far as they can, screaming at the top of their lungs until their breath is expended. The player who achieves the greatest distance is the winner.

Though simple, Run and Scream had a very practical purpose — training tribal youth in an ability to warn the tribe in case of an attack from an enemy or the sighting of a game herd. Other games like Shinny and Stick Ball were eventually adapted into the modern sports of Field Hockey and Lacrosse.

Modern followers of these games would likely recognize them, however the execution and purpose of the traditional games was very different.

“A long time ago they played with as many as 100 people on a team,” instructor Jeremy Red Eagle explained to a group of students as they prepared to start up a game of doubleball, a traditional variation of lacrosse. “They played band against band or tribe against tribe.”

Doubleball teams would play on fields that could vary in size from a few hundred yards to several miles in distance. Teams would try to advance a joined pair of animal hair/hide balls toward a cross-bar goal using sticks made of willow branches. There was no out-of-bounds and few rules, yet each game was imbued with a sense of personal honor and fair play.

“On the Fort Belknap Reservation, where I learned the game, we traded sticks with our opponents when we first pick teams,” Red Eagle said. “We do that because if one person’s stick breaks, then the person they traded with has to give them there stick and they sit out. That teaches that you don’t want to cheat your opponent and give them a shabby stick. That’s one of the values that goes along with this game.”


Symposium focuses on preserving indigenous languages, inspiring young speakers

by Uriel J. Garcia, Santa Fe New Mexican

Mary Linn was looking for a way to preserve Oklahoma’s American Indian languages when she met Comanche tribe member Geneva Navarro, who gave her the idea of a language fair, which they started together in 2003.

Since then, the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair has drawn thousands of American Indian kids from there and neighboring states. At this year’s fair, there were more than 900 registered students.

“The kids really remember it all their lives. And then we’ve had parents and teachers who write in, that say, ‘My kid wasn’t really interested in school, but she’s really excited about her language class now,’ ” Linn said after speaking to more than 200 attendees Monday at the fourth annual Indigenous Language Institute Symposium north of Santa Fe.

The Indigenous Language Institute, a local group that helps tribes across the country preserve their native languages, is holding its two-day symposium at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. The theme this year is about motivating youth and children to use their heritage language.

“I think people can share a lot of ideas on what is helping the youth, what’s working and just to get inspired again,” Linn, who is a professor at the University of Oklahoma, said about the importance of the symposium. “It’s a lot of work to be a language teacher and to be revitalizing your language, and so sometimes just coming all together … really helps everybody.”

Navarro, 87, once helped organize a similar language fair in Santa Fe with the Indian Language Institute, and when she moved from Santa Fe to Oklahoma, she took the idea back to her home state, where she used to teach her native language at the Comanche Nation College.

Navarro is part of a few Comanche speakers in the country and, now that she’s moved back to New Mexico, she said she plans on teaching a class on the language as a way to preserve it. “If all really try, we can,” she said of preserving the Comanche language. “But, I feel hopeless sometimes.”

According to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture’s website, the Comanche language is severely endangered, with only about 100 people speaking it.

Laura Benavidez, an organizer of the Indigenous Language Institute Symposium, said about 260 people registered for the symposium, which concludes Tuesday. That’s more than previous years, when the average was 150 people, said Benavidez, who attributed the increase to the theme of encouraging Native youth to use their heritage language.

“This is the first year we have a lot more kids than usual, too,” Benavidez said.

Kree Lopez, a 21-year-old student at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, attended the symposium because she said it’s important to preserve indigenous languages.

“When you learn your language, you learn your culture, so I think it’s very important to learn [our native language] before it disappears,” said Lopez, who is originally from the Southern Ute tribe in Colorado.

Prominent national American Indian speakers and educators were invited to the symposium, which began Monday morning with opening remarks from Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera. Also, nationally recognized American Indian comedian Andrew Lacapa performed during the symposium’s banquet Monday night.