Category Archives: History

“Dennis Banks, American Indian Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 80”

“Dennis J. Banks, the militant Chippewa who founded the American Indian Movement in 1968 and led often-violent insurrections to protest the treatment of Native Americans and the nation’s history of injustices against its indigenous peoples, died on Sunday night at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He was 80.” R. McFadden, The New York Times

Mr. Banks in 2010. He was the 2016 vice-presidential nominee of the California Peace and Freedom Party, which identified itself as socialist and feminist. Credit Chris Polydoroff:Pioneer Press

Excerpt: Dennis Banks, American Indian Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 80 -By Robert McFadden, The New York Times

“Mr. Banks and his Oglala Sioux compatriot Russell Means were by the mid-1970s perhaps the nation’s best-known Native Americans since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who led the attack that crushed the cavalry forces of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory in 1876.

The American Indian Movement leaders Dennis Banks, seated at right, and Russell Means at a news conference in July 1973. CreditUnited Press International

Mr. Banks, whose early life of poverty, alcoholism and alienation mirrored the fates of countless ancestors, led protests that caused mass disorder, shootouts, deaths and grievous injuries. He was jailed for burglary and convicted of riot and assault, and he became a fugitive for nine years. He found sanctuary in California and New York but finally gave up and was imprisoned for 14 months.

He once led a six-day takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, and mounted an armed 71-day occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Wounded Knee was the scene of the last major conflict of the American Indian Wars, in which 350 Lakota men, women and children were massacred by United States troops in 1890.

While his protests won some government concessions and drew national attention and wide sympathy for the deplorable social and economic conditions of American Indians, Mr. Banks achieved few real improvements in the daily lives of millions of Native Americans, who live on reservations and in major cities and lag behind most fellow citizens in jobs, housing and education…His severest detractors, including law-enforcement officials, said he let followers risk injury and arrest while he jumped bail to avoid a long prison sentence and did not surrender for nearly a decade.

Mr. Banks and Mr. Means first won national attention for declaring a “Day of Mourning” for Native Americans on Thanksgiving Day in 1970. Their band seized the ship Mayflower II, a replica of the original in Plymouth, Mass., and a televised confrontation between real Indians and costumed “Pilgrims” made the American Indian Movement leaders overnight heroes…Mr. Banks was the 2016 vice presidential nominee of the California Peace and Freedom Party, which identified itself as socialist and feminist. The party’s presidential candidate was Gloria La Riva. As a single-state ticket, they won 66,000 votes.

In recent years, Mr. Banks lived with some of his children in Kentucky and Minnesota. He was an honorary trustee of the Leech Lake Tribal College, a two-year public institution in Cass Lake, Minn. Mr. Means, who also appeared in movies and wrote a memoir, died on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2012 at age 72.

‘Maybe we opened up some eyes, opened some doors,’ Mr. Banks told The Los Angeles Times. ‘And it was at least an educational process here. Fifteen years ago, there was no newspaper here, no radio station. Now there’s more community control over education.’

In 1990, both men joined a ceremony at the Pine Ridge Reservation commemorating the centenary of the Wounded Knee massacre.”

Category: History

Debunking the Myth: Natives Never ‘Sold’ Manhattan!

“The squat clapboard house overlooking the Hudson River in the West Village might not seem like an obvious place for a Native American prayer center. Its graffiti-strewn facade faces the busy West Side Highway, with a city bus stop out front…The house’s ground floor now sits directly on Manhattan soil, said Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois, 76, a wealthy activist who bought the property in 2006. He says he is essentially donating it back to its original owners: the Lenape Indians…Mr. Bourgeois said he had always been troubled by the well-known and not quite accurate legend that, four centuries ago, the Lenape sold Manhattan to Dutch settlers for the equivalent of $24 worth of goods.‘It’s quite offensive,’ he said. It’s a form of conquest.” C. Kilgannon, The New York Times

Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois, right, wants to turn a house in the West Village into a prayer center. Anthony Jay Van Dunk, left, a former chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation.Sam Hodgson NYT

Excerpt: Giving Back a ‘Stolen’ Property to the Original Manhattanites, By Corey Kilgannon, The New York Times

“Mr. Bourgeois pointed to a hole recently jackhammered through the thick concrete flooring of the house, which left black soil exposed underneath. You can actually touch Manhattan soil — the idea is to be in touch with Mother Earth, he said, adding that the plan was to remove the concrete and simply have a dirt floor. Anthony Jay Van Dunk, a former chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, a tribe based in Mahwah, N.J., is Mr. Bourgeois’s choice to start a prayer house, or a Pahtamawiikan, as it is known in one of the languages spoken by the Lenape.

A hole in the house’s concrete floor exposes soil underneath. You can actually touch Manhattan soil — the idea is to be in touch with Mother Earth. CreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times

Mr. Van Dunk, 54, a Brooklyn woodworker who is active in Native American issues, pointed out that, if such a transaction had taken place, the Lenape might have meant it as a good-will exchange for sharing the land, and not as transferring ownership, especially because the tribe did not believe anyone could own land or water. The Lenape tried to embrace and share, Mr. Van Dunk said. And in return, they got everything taken, even their lives.

Mr. Bourgeois said he bought the squat clapboard house, at 392 West Street, in 2006 for $2.2 million. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Now, of course, Manhattan — whose name comes from the Lenape tongue, meaning roughly ‘the land of many hills’ — has been developed to the hilt into a center of global commerce…Mr. Bourgeois said that he bought the building, 392 West Street, in 2006 for $2.2 million, and that it had probably appreciated in value to about $4 million. With three floors and less than 3,000 square feet, it is one of the last wood-frame buildings along the Hudson waterfront.

Ramapough indians enter the powwow by john st john photography

Though some documentation describes the house as being built in the 1830s, Mr. Bourgeois said he believed it may actually date to the 1770s. Over the centuries, it has been home to a saloon, a gambling parlor, an oyster house and a pool hall, Mr. Bourgeois said, and in recent decades it housed bars. He said that when he bought it, there were peep show machines inside, which he had removed. He said he initially hoped to turn the house into a museum dedicated to clean water issues that would include a seven-story waterfall installation designed by his mother.

If Lapowinsa, the Lenape chief (seen here in a 1735 portrait by Gustavus Hesselius), were alive today, he could look forward to hanging out on Weehawken St. at the future Lenape West Village H.Q.

It would also have a waterless composting toilet restricted to people who ate only organic food. He admits now that the plan was ‘a bit too utopian. Mr. Bourgeois lives half a block from the house in an apartment filled with files and books related to his activism. He recently returned from several weeks in North Dakota protesting a proposed oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The Ramapough-Lenape gathering is the bridge that guides us back to our bond to the earth. Photo Credit- Marire Longo

He said that he donated about $1 million to the campaign against the pipeline, and that he hoped the prayer house would be a way to celebrate and promote Native American ideals and political empowerment.”

Category: History

Wampanoags and Harvard: Ties from Way Back

O’siyo. By now many people know that it was the Wampanoag Tribe who had first contact with the Mayflower pilgrims. But not many know about the historical relationship between the Wampanoag and Harvard University dating back to the 1600s. Harvard University recently honored members of the Aquinnah and Mashpee Wampanoag tribes by hosting a dinner to commemorate the long-established relationship between the tribes and the university. Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, a member of the Wampanoag tribe, was the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College, in 1665.

Pictured, from left, are- Aquinnah Chairman T. J. Vanderhoop, the Rev. Jonathan Walton and Mashpee Chairman Cedric Cromwell. ICTNM

Pictured, from left, are- Aquinnah Chairman T. J. Vanderhoop, the Rev. Jonathan Walton and Mashpee Chairman Cedric Cromwell. ICTNM

Excerpt: Wampanoags and Harvard Celebrate Historic Ties by G. C. Toensing, ICTMN

“Harvard University hosted the leaders of the Aquinnah and Mashpee Wampanoag tribes at a clambake at the Harvard Faculty Club February 7 to honor the longstanding relationship between America’s first institution of higher learning and the indigenous people of the territory on which it is built. 

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and Harvard University have ties that go all the way back to the university’s earliest days, Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement. It’s important to celebrate that connection and look for ways that we can work together in the future.

Portrait of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, a member of the Wampanoag tribe, and the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College, in 1665. Photo- ICTNM

Portrait of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, a member of the Wampanoag tribe, and the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College, in 1665. Photo- ICTNM

 T.J. Vanderhoop, chairman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), is a 2008 graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. While I was at the Kennedy School, I cherished the opportunities and knowledge that I could then bring back to my community.

The university’s relationship with Natives goes back to its earliest days. Harvard College was founded in 1636 and struggled financially in its early years until the English Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England stepped in, raising money and granting funds for the education of Indian boys at the university, according to a Harvard website. The Society’s funds were also used to construct the Indian College, Harvard’s first brick building, in 1655.

Tiffany Smalley was the first member of the Wampanoag Tribeto graduate from the College since Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck in 1665. Photo courtesy of Millicent and Jay Smalley.

Tiffany Smalley was the first member of the Wampanoag Tribeto graduate from the College since Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck in 1665. Photo courtesy of Millicent and Jay Smalley.

The College, in turn promised to waive tuition and provide housing for American Indian students,” according to a Peabody Museum at Harvard website. 

Smalley and Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe accept a posthumous degree from the university in the honor of another Aquinnah Wampanoag, Joel Iacoomes, who died in 1665. Photo- Ivyashe.

Smalley and Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe accept a posthumous degree from the university in the honor of another Aquinnah Wampanoag, Joel Iacoomes, who died in 1665. Photo- Ivyashe.

Two Native students attended Harvard sometime during the 1650s: John Sassomon, and James Printer, an apprentice in the production of Eliot’s Indian Bible, according to the website.

The portrait of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, a member of the Wampanoag tribe resides in Annenberg Hall.  Photo- Harvard Crimson.

The portrait of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, a member of the Wampanoag tribe resides in Annenberg Hall. Photo- Harvard Crimson.

Native students who attended the Indian College included John Wampus, who departed before graduation, and Joel Iacoomes, and Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, both members of the Wampanoag Tribe of Martha’s Vineyard. Cheeshahteaumuck was a member of Harvard’s Class of 1665, but Iacoomes died just before graduation.”

“Without the Wampanoag, Harvard would not exist today. We actually saved Harvard,” ~ Tiffany Smalley~ Wampanoag Tribe.

Kudos to the Wampanoag for their strength and courage! Kudos to Harvard for honoring the promise.

 

Category: History

Mandela: “Indians are the First American Nation”

O’siyo. We mourn the passing of the iconic South African leader Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Mr. Mandela A Xhosa, born to the Thembu Royal Family in South Africa, was a Prince, Scholar, Political activist against apartheid, Prisoner,  President, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and  spokesman on the behalf of all aboriginal people and the injustices they face.  During his speech in the Oakland, California stadium in 1990, Mr. Mandela recognized  Native American Indians as “The First American Nation.” The following excerpts are from Native American Indians who remember hearing Mr. Mandela speak that day.

Mandela met with a delegation of Inuit and others at climate talks in South Africa in 2000.

Mandela met with a delegation of Inuit and others at climate talks in South Africa in 2000.

Excerpt: Iconic Nelson Mandela…Sympathized with American Indians By Levi Rickert – Native News Online.

“Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison and after his release became the first black South African president died Thursday. He was 95 years old.

The anti-apartheid revolutionary’s death was announced by South Africa Jacob Zuma just before midnight on Friday in Johannesburg.

In 1990, Mr. Mandela held a rally in the Oakland Coliseum where he referred to American Indians as “the first American nation.” American Indians were pleased Mr. Mandela spoke out on their behalf.”

Words of Wisdom.

Words of Wisdom.

Nelson Mandela (1990):

Mr. Mandela said he had received a number of messages from the first American nation, the American Indians… “I can assure you they have left me very disturbed, and if I had time I would visit their areas and get from them an authoritative description of the difficulties under which they live.”The New York Times 7/1/90

Words of Wisdom 2

Nanette Bradley Deetz (Cherokee/Lakota), who still lives in the San Francisco Bay Area:

“I was there at the Oakland Coliseum. I had just moved to the Bay Area and went to hear Mandela speak. He mentioned American Indians and I felt so proud, I know that many American Indians from the entire Bay area also attended. In fact,  I think I remember seeing a delegation in their regalia. This may have been the group that was planning on presenting Mandela with robes or something, but it never happened. I know that he did mention the American Indian Movement and did thank all of us that were involved.

I do remember that he mentioned the contributions and struggles of American Indians during his speech. I felt so proud and happy to be there on that day. It really did feel like something quite historic.”

A child looks up at a giant bronze statue of former president Nelson Mandela, on Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg, Friday, Dec 6.2013.Photo- Athol Moralee.

A child looks up at a giant bronze statue of former president Nelson Mandela, on Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg, Friday, Dec 6.2013.Photo- Athol Moralee.

Anna Rondon, Navajo who works for the Navajo Nation and lives near Zuni, New Mexico, wrote on a website on Mandela’s birthday this year;

“As a Dine (Navajo) woman, I recognize that Mr. Mandela has always spoke out on the injustices of apartheid over the many decades.

When he was born, American Indian Nations were still fighting our battles over land and resources. In 1913, the Mescalero Apaches were released from Fort Sill Prison after 26 years of incarceration. Our histories share the horror and today we still see the subtle yet, deadly genocidal indigenous policies. Mr. Mandela, you gave us resisters, protectors of water, land, air and fire the strength to fight for justice here in the United States.”

Nelson Mandela. Photo- CNN

Nelson Mandela. Photo- CNN

Leonard Peltier Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians has been in prison for 37 years. Here are his thoughts on the passing of Nelson Mandela:

“Greeting my relatives, friends, and supporters: It saddens me to hear that a great man like Nelson Mandela has departed from this lifetime. He was a man who was truly inspirational and showed us the possibilities of how a continued struggle by indigenous people could manifest itself in levels of freedom that have been marred by centuries of oppression. Our Native people suffered the same types of oppression many times. It is not as overt and as easily distinguished as in some places; “ NativeNewsOnline.

 An Icon...Photo- ABCNews

 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”

~ Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela~ (July 18, 1918-December 5, 2013)

Flowers

The world has lost a true Hero…

atsawesolvsdi wigedohesdi dohiyi…wado.

Rest in Peace Mandela.

 

Category: History

Women’s History Month Honors The Unsung Heroes: The Female Warriors

Native American Women Veterans By Judith Bellafaire, Ph.D., Curator, Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation

Lori Piestewa, Hopi-(December 14, 1979 – March 23, 2003) Photo credit: ARMY.MIL

Osiyo. March is Women’s History month and we wanted to acknowledge the contributions made by Native Indian women in all sectors of  American society. The list is both impressive and extensive, however, there is one group of Indian women rarely mentioned when speaking of the U.S. military; our female soldiers. They are the  mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives who risk their lives for the safety of Indians and non-Indians.  Many have  died defending their homes and their loved ones…

The following article expresses these sentiments, and provides information of notable American Indian women who have served in the U.S. military over the years. Excerpt:

“Very little is known about the contributions of Native American women to the United States military. The Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation is attempting to fill this gap by encouraging Native American women veterans to register with the Memorial so that their stories may be recorded and preserved. They are also conducting research on the contributions of Native American women of earlier eras…Four Native American Catholic Sisters from Fort Berthold, South Dakota worked as nurses for the War Department during the Spanish American War (1898). Originally assigned to the military hospital at Jacksonville, Florida, the nurses were soon transferred to Havana, Cuba. One of the nurses, Sister Anthony died of disease in Cuba and was buried with military honors…Fourteen Native American women served as members of the Army Nurse Corps during World War I, two of them overseas…Nearly 800 Native American women served in the military during World War II…Sarah Mae Peshlakai, a member of the Navajo Tribe from Crystal, New Mexico, enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps in 1951 and served until 1957…Shirley M. Arviso, a Navajo of the Bitter Water Clan, served in the Navy from 1953 through 1963. She was the Communications Officer in charge of a group of people who decrypted classified messages… As of 1994, 1,509 Native American women and Native Alaskan women were serving in the military forces of the United States.”

Katherine Matthews-Cherokee Tribe, North Carolina,1970s.Credit: Women’s Memorial.org

Elva (Tapedo) Wale-Kiowa-served in WWII. Credit:Women’s Memorial.org

DarleneYellowcloud-Lakota Tribe,1980s.Credit:Women’s Memorial.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“…The Lord blesses us with children, and he blesses us with friends, however it’s only on a loan basis. It’s not on a forever basis, because we’re not here on this Earth forever.”

~Percy Piestewa~(Father of Lori Piestewa)


 

Category: History

The Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Native Star, Becomes A Saint

After Miracle, American Indian Woman…for Sainthood, by Kie Relyea, Eagle-Tribune-McClatchy Newspapers

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha-photo- Catholic org.

Osiyo. A wonderful  event has occurred over the Christmas holiday. The  Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who was a member of the Mohawk-Alogonquain Nation will be the first American Indian to be canonized. For  many American Indian Catholics, Blessed Kateri’s canonization was a cause for celebration. Excerpt:

“BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Pope Benedict XVI has decreed that a Washington state boy’s recovery from the flesh-eating bacteria that nearly killed him in 2006 is a miracle that can be attributed to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha’s help, making possible the canonization of the first American Indian saint in the Catholic Church. Monsignor Paul A. Lenz, the vice postulator for the cause of Blessed Kateri, confirmed on Monday, Dec. 19, the link to Jake Finkbonner.

Doctors who treated Jake, as well as a committee of doctors at the Vatican, came to the same conclusion…They didn’t think any of their medical expertise was the cure…They thought every night he was going to die. As Jake lay near death, the Rev. Tim Sauer, a longtime family friend, advised his mom and dad, Elsa and Donny Finkbonner, to pray to Blessed Kateri, who is the patroness for American Indians, for her intercession. That is akin to asking Blessed Kateri to pray to God to perform a miracle on Jake’s behalf. The boy is of Lummi descent.

The Vatican decided Jake’s recovery was a miracle that is beyond the explanation of medicine and that could be attributed to the intercession on his behalf by Blessed Kateri, who was born in 1656…Known as the Lily of the Mohawks, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980, becoming the first American Indian to be so honored.”

A Must read article! It provides us with Inspiration and most importantly Hope for the New Year.

Painting of The Blessed Kateri photo: The Tamastslikt Cultural Institute

Biography  for The  Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha can be read here.

YouTube Video: courtesy of the Jesuit Community of Auriesville, NY

To learn more, See the video narrated by Father John Paret, SJ, Father Victor Hoagland, CP, and Eleonora Centrone. (click on photo)

“I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love…With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor… If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.”  ~The  Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha~

To all of our readers, (and those yet to join us) please be safe, and may you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year…alihelisdi itse udetiyvsadisvi


Category: History