The Wiyot Tribe Finally Receive Their Dead from California Museum

“The most vulnerable citizens of the Wiyot Tribe were asleep the morning of Feb. 26, 1860, when a band of White men slipped into their Northern California villages under darkness and slaughtered them…After nearly 70 years of separation from their tribe, the remains of at least 20 of those believed to have been killed have been returned home.”B.Melley, AP, ICT, Feb. 2, 2022

This Dec. 21, 2010 photo provided by Aldaron Laird shows Tulawat, the site of the Indian Island Massacre, where members of the Wiyot Tribe were killed in 1860. Aldaron Laird via AP


Excerpt:California museum returns massacre remains to Wiyot Tribe, by Brian Melley, AP, ICT

“Many of the children, women and elderly slain in what became known as the Indian Island Massacre had their eternal rest disturbed when their graves were later dug up and their skeletons and the artifacts buried with them were placed in a museum.

‘They’re going to be at peace and at rest with our other ancestors,’ Ted Hernandez, the Wiyot Tribe’s historic preservation officer, said after the repatriation was announced. ‘They’ll be able to reunite with their families.’

The return is part of an effort by some institutions to do a better job complying with federal law that requires giving tribes back items looted from sacred burial sites.

Grave robbing was yet another indignity suffered by Native Americans and their descendants long after they were driven from their lands or killed. Hobbyists, collectors and even prominent researchers took part in the desecration of burial sites. Skulls, bones and antiquities were sold, traded, studied and displayed in museums.

Cutcha Risling Baldy, a professor of Native American studies at Humboldt State University, said returning the sacred items provides healing to tribes…A team from University of California, Berkeley collected the remains and put them in storage with 136 artifacts buried with them — mainly beads and ornaments made from shells, an arrowhead from a broken bottle fragment, a sinker for a fishing net, bone tools and an elk tooth.

The gravesites were where the Wiyot buried some of their dead following a devastating series of mass slayings at a dozen of their villages over the course of a week in 1860.

The unprovoked killings occurred in the midst of the tribe’s World Renewal Ceremony, a 10-day peaceful celebration with food, dance and prayer to return balance to the Earth, Hernandez said.

After the ceremony, the tribe’s men left for the night, paddling from the island to the mainland to hunt and fish for food and gather firewood for the next day’s feast.

In the early morning, raiders arrived by canoe across the bay and stabbed, beat or hacked the victims with knives, clubs and hatchets. Several other attacks were carried out that night, and more killings occurred over the next five days, said Jerry Rohde, a Humboldt County historian…For the Wiyot Tribe, the repatriation last fall came two years after the island known now as Tulawat, was returned to the tribe by the city of Eureka. It’s now up to tribal elders to determine what to do with the remains, Hernandez said.”

Mendocino California Redwood Forest Returned to Tribes!

“Ownership of more than 500 acres of a forest in Mendocino County was returned to 10 sovereign tribes who will serve as guardians to ‘protect and heal’ the land.” I. G. Paz, The New York Times, Jan. 26, 2022

A portion of the 523 acres of redwood forest in Mendocino County, Calif. Credit…Max Forster:Save the Redwoods League, via Associated Press


Excerpt: Redwood Forest in California Is Returned to Native Tribes, By Isabella G. Paz, The New York Times

“Tucked away in Northern California’s Mendocino County, the 523 acres of rugged forest is studded with the ghostlike stumps of ancient redwoods harvested during a logging boom that did away with over 90 percent of the species on the West Coast. But about 200 acres are still dense with old-growth redwoods that were spared from logging.

The land was the hunting, fishing and ceremonial grounds of generations of Indigenous tribes like the Sinkyone, until they were largely driven off by European settlers. On Tuesday, a California nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving and preserving redwoods announced that it was reuniting the land and its original inhabitants…As part of the agreement, the land, known before the purchase as Andersonia West, will be called Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ (pronounced tsih-ih-LEY-duhn), which means “Fish Run Place” in the Sinkyone language…Since 2006, the Redwoods League had been in conversations with a California logging family who had owned the land for generations. Mr. Holder explained that after years of building a relationship with the family, the league was able to purchase the land in 2020 for $3.55 million. The money for the purchase was donated by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company as part of its program to mitigate environmental damage.”

Navajo Nation Approves Hardship Payments for Tribal Members in 2022!

Excerpt: ‘The Peoples’ money’: Hardship payments of $2,000 per adult, $600 for children OK’d, By Rima Krisst and Krista Allen, The Navajo Times, Jan 6, 2022

“Checks ranging from $600 to $2,000 will land in mailboxes of Diné citizens – soon. Surrounded by division directors inside the president’s office, President Jonathan Nez signed the Navajo Nation Council resolution (CD-62-21), which approves $557 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for Hardship Assistance to about 250,000 Diné citizens.

Navajo Pres Nez and VP Lizer approving $557 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for hardship assistance, Navajo Times | Krista Allen

T’áá Dinék’ehjígo, Nez said, ‘The Nation received over $2 billion from the U.S. Treasury. We’ve allocated $557 million for Hardship Assistance, for our people.’Nez added the payment checks would help families who are struggling, among other things.

‘Use this money wisely, please, my relatives,’ he said. ‘Buy things you need on our Nation. Yes, we have some of our people who are living off of the Nation and they cannot return home. Please, put some money away for later use. We are still amid a pandemic. Please prepare for possible infection.’

Delegates who played major roles in the passage of the resolution are, left to right, Nathaniel Brown, Eugenia Charles-Newton and Amber Kanazbah. Navajo Times

Nez said there will be some remaining funds of the $2.1 billion, and that will go toward other needs of the Nation such as broadband, water and wastewater projects, and powerlines…Dá’deest?’in Hótsaa Delegate Paul Begay applauded Nez for signing the resolution that the 24-member Council pushed for their constituents.

‘The Hardship Assistance belongs to the people,’ Begay said in an interview with the Times. ‘They (the Diné) wanted it. We’re in the middle of the winter. They need funds right now to make it through the winter season.’

Begay added that he knows many Diné families across Diné Bikéyah need food and water to survive the below zero temperatures. He is encouraging people to put some of their funds away for a rainy day…So, when are people receiving checks?

Jared Touchin, spokesman for the president’s office, said there will be a townhall tomorrow evening to provide more information about the Hardship Assistance, including the process, timeline, and questions will be answered.”

“Boozhoo! Ojibwe-Speaking Puppets Hit the Airwaves”

Michael Lyons, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, is a writer, illustrator and puppeteer who has taken the Ojibwe language to community radio and YouTube with his puppets, Nanaboozhoo, right, and Natasha. (Photo courtesy of Michael Lyons)


“Puppeteer Michael Lyons teaches language and culture mixed with comedy….They also take phone calls from ‘celebrities’ like Keanu Reeves, Anthony Fauci and Sylvester Stallone!” Dan Ninham, ICT, December 13, 2021

Excerpt: “Heidi Holton remembers the day Ojibwe puppeteer Michael Lyons called in to the radio station where she worked.  She’d been following his puppets, Nanaboozhoo and Natasha, on YouTube, and commenting about their use of the Ojibwe language and culture.

“He said, ‘How about ‘Boozhoo Nanaboozhoo’ on the radio?’” she recalls. She stopped a moment to think. “Hmm. Puppets on the radio? That might just work!”

And it has. A five-minute radio show, ‘The Boozhoo Nanaboozhoo Podcast,’ is now featured regularly on the morning show at KAXE/KBXE community radio in Bemidji, Minnesota, where Holton is news and public affairs director.  It’s one of a growing number of platforms for Lyons and his puppets to reach new audiences…They also take phone calls from ‘celebrities’ like Keanu Reeves, Anthony Fauci and Sylvester Stallone.”

Lyons, a citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, has written and illustrated a number of children’s books, comic strips and comic books, and a coloring book in the Ojibwe language.

“Writer, illustrator and puppeteer Michael Lyons, Ojibwe, wrote his first children’s book, “Little Cutie: A Teddy Bear’s Vision Question,” about a ragged teddy bear searching for its identity. (Illustration courtesy of Michael Lyons)

He also has a podcast on YouTube that airs daily at 8 a.m. central time that goes  beyond teaching the Ojibwe language, delving into a range of issues…‘I always wanted to be either a rock star or a cartoonist as a kid and a grown-up, and didn’t really think anything of puppets until this show,’ he said. ‘Once I started doing the voices for the characters, I reached way back in my experience in high school speech and theater programs at Laporte High School.’

Writer, illustrator and puppeteer Michael Lyons, Ojibwe, has written a number of children’s books and comics teaching the Ojibwe language. The 2013 book, “Dog and Ma’iingan,” teaches readers how to count in Ojibwe and introduces words for certain animals. (Illustration courtesy of Michael Lyons)

“Boozhoo Nanaboozhoo’ is clean, family-friendly comedy, but it is not a spin-off of ‘Sesame Street’ in any way,” Lyons said. “We don’t swear or talk about sex in a bad way during the hour-long, live-streaming show, and we will teach a few phrases, but along the way, Nanaboozhoo and Natasha discuss anything.”


The Eastern Woodlands Indigenous Collective Feeds Community

“In caretaking each other, we know that we can provide and have what we need, and that’s how we live abundantly” ~ Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective~ The Boston Globe, October 12, 2021


Eastern Woodlands’ Community Meals

Excerpt: The Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective nourishes abundance in Indigenous communities throughout New England  By Jocelyn Ruggiero, The Boston  Globe October 12, 2021

“Hidden from view at the base of a steep wood and brick stairway, Rachael Devaney’s family cottage sits on the shore of Long Pond, mid-Cape. This water is home to many creatures: muskrat, opossum, ducks, snapping turtles, frogs, minnows, and freshwater clams, while osprey, eagles, and seagulls populate the sky above. There’s a saltwater exchange on the shore opposite the cottage — the pond is less than two miles from the Atlantic Ocean — and, in Eastern Woodlands culture, a waterway that flows between fresh and salt is a place of regeneration and cleansing.

Rachael Devaney speaks with fellow members while preparing a number of fruits and vegetables in Centerville. Nathan Klima for the Boston Globe

Although Devaney is Salvadoran and not Indigenous to Massachusetts, where her adopted family raised her, she’s deeply connected to the Eastern Woodlands tribes.

In her teens, a mentor introduced her to the Wampanoag culture, taking her to Native socials, harvests, and powwows throughout New England.

A striped bass cooking over a wood fire in Centerville. Nathan Klima, The Boston Globe

Her exposure not only educated her about these tribes but also her roots, by connecting her with people who looked like her and showing her ways of life that were similar to those of her ancestors…….There’s a lot of teasing, laughing, and storytelling. Although the people who gather at Long Pond this afternoon belong to different Native tribes, as members of the Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective, they are all kin.

Photo by June Sapiel.

Formally organized in 2018, the Collective is a group of matriarchal-centered Native people, two-spirits, and men. The term “two-spirit” is used by certain Native communities to represent beings who embody both male and female genders.

The Collective aspires to a nonbinary understanding of gender, mirroring more fluid genders that exists in nature, where, for instance, many plants have both male and female reproductive structures. And whereas colonization undermined the leadership roles of Indigenous women, the Collective strives to restore feminine power…Beside the weathered deck that leads from the cottage to the Long Pond’s shore, four trunks rising from an oak tree are covered in pale gray-green lichen. Its branches shade Kristen Wyman, a member of the Nipmuc Tribe, as she sits at a table and cuts an heirloom watermelon for the party, setting the seeds aside for future planting. There’s a colorful harvest in front of her: Algonquin squash, carrots, Hot Portugal chili peppers, and corncobs from Maine; Nipmuc squash from Rhode Island, apples from Massachusetts, and from El Salvador, corncobs, zapote, and almond seeds, and a dark, slightly spicy honey collected from hives in coffee fields…’Rematriation’ is at the heart of everything the Collective is and all that it does.

Wampanoag Sherry Pocknett- Photo- courtesy of Sherry Pocknett

Wyman explains the concept in this way, while: ‘patriarchy is about dominance and control and overpowering, matriarchy is about life, growth, nurturing, and abundance. . . . The best way that we can understand that is through seeds. One seed can lead to hundreds and thousands. In caretaking each other, we know that we can provide and have what we need, and that’s how we live abundantly. As opposed to this patriarchal world, where it seems everything’s about survival of the fittest and whoever has the most is the one that’s going to come out on top.’

Darwin González descales a freshly caught striped bass. Photo- Nathan Klima, The Boston Globe

The Collective’s growing initiatives throughout New England take place on privately held land, state parks, and tribal land like the Hassanamisco Nipmuc Reservation in Grafton.”

For more information about the Eastern Woodlands Rematriation Collective

A Native American Proverb


LGBTQ Natives Are Still Assaulted or Beaten!

“If LGBTQ people get assaulted or beaten up in a hate crime on tribal land, it’s often not prosecuted,” one advocate said. D. Avery, NBC News, Nov. 9, 2021

Somah Haaland.Samuel David Katz

Excerpt: LGBTQ American Indians report high levels of depression and abuse, By Dan Avery, NBC News, Nov. 9, 2021

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) adults have higher levels of mental health issues, physical abuse and economic instability than their non-LGBTQ peers, according to a new report. 

The study, released last month by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law in advance of Native American Heritage Month in November, found 42 percent of AIAN LGBTQ adults have been diagnosed with depression, compared to less than a quarter of non-LGBTQ Native people and just 6.7 percent of the general U.S. population. 

AIAN LGBTQ adults, particularly women, are also more likely to engage in high-risk health behaviors, including heavy drinking, according to the findings.

Three-quarters of respondents reported not having had enough money to make ends meet in the prior year, compared to less than half of non-LGBTQ AIAN people…‘The complex picture of health and economic vulnerabilities of AIAN LGBT people is likely a product of factors shared with all Indigenous peoples, such as the impact of historical trauma, and those shared across LGBT people, such as anti-LGBT stigma,’ said lead author Bianca D.M. Wilson, a senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute and the report’s lead author, told NBC News.

Bianca D.M. Wilson, Ph.D., is the Rabbi Zacky Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. Her research focuses primarily on system-involved LGBTQ youth, LGBT poverty, and sexual health among queer women.

In the report, Wilson stated that, ‘It is critical that policies and service interventions consider the LGBT status and multiracial identities of AIAN adults.’

Somáh Haaland, who is queer and nonbinary and uses gender-neutral pronouns, is the media coordinator for the Pueblo Action Alliance. Haaland also lives with clinical depression.

‘The unique intersection of being Native and queer can feel incredibly isolating, both in a displaced urban setting and in our own communities,’ they told NBC News…’In white queer spaces they experience racism and disconnection, while at home or on their reservation they may feel like being out could exclude them from cultural activities or simply being in community with their people,’ said Haaland, whose mother is Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland…’Being queer and being Indigenous are both beautiful identities to carry that are sacred when they intersect,’ they said. ‘But we often must fight twice as hard just to show that we are worthy of living and thriving.’

Sharon Day was one of two children to come out in her family. In 1987, she helped organize the Basket and the Bow, the first national gathering of gay and lesbian American Indians, held at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. (The annual event was later renamed the International Two-Spirit Gathering.)

‘You’re part of a group already dealing with racism and historical trauma and, within that group —  if you’re queer — you can be alienated from your community and even your family,’ said Sharon Day, a member of the Ojibwe nation and executive director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force in Minneapolis. ‘For people living on reservations, these are small, rural communities that are slower to change.’


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