Thursday, June 29, 2006

Tropical Stonehenge

Tropical Stonehenge may have been found
By STAN LEHMAN, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jun 27, 5:54 PM ET

A grouping of granite blocks along a grassy Amazon hilltop may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory — a find archaeologists say indicates early rainforest inhabitants were more sophisticated than previously believed.

The 127 blocks, some as high as 9 feet tall, are spaced at regular intervals around the hill, like a crown 100 feet in diameter.

On the shortest day of the year — Dec. 21 — the shadow of one of the blocks disappears when the sun is directly above it.

"It is this block's alignment with the winter solstice that leads us to believe the site was once an astronomical observatory," said Mariana Petry Cabral, an archaeologist at the Amapa State Scientific and Technical Research Institute. "We may be also looking at the remnants of a sophisticated culture."

Anthropologists have long known that local indigenous populations were acute observers of the stars and sun. But the discovery of a physical structure that appears to incorporate this knowledge suggests pre-Columbian Indians in the Amazon rainforest may have been more sophisticated than previously suspected.

"Transforming this kind of knowledge into a monument; the transformation of something ephemeral into something concrete, could indicate the existence of a larger population and of a more complex social organization," Cabral said.

Cabral has been studying the site, near the village of Calcoene, just north of the equator in Amapa state in far northern Brazil, since last year. She believes it was once inhabited by the ancestors of the Palikur Indians, and while the blocks have not yet been submitted to carbon dating, she says pottery shards near the site indicate they are pre-Columbian and maybe older — as much as 2,000 years old.

Last month, archaeologists working on a hillside north of Lima, Peru, announced the discovery of the oldest astronomical observatory in the Western Hemisphere — giant stone carvings, apparently 4,200 years old, that align with sunrise and sunset on Dec. 21.

While the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs built large cities and huge rock structures, pre-Columbian Amazon societies built smaller settlements of wood and clay that quickly deteriorated in the hot, humid Amazon climate, disappearing centuries ago, archaeologists say.

Farmers and fishermen in the region around the Amazon site have long known about it, and the local press has dubbed it the "tropical Stonehenge." Archeologists got involved last year after geographers and geologists did a socio-economic survey of the area, by foot and helicopter, and noticed "the unique circular structure on top of the hill," Cabral said.

Scientists not involved in the discovery said it could prove valuable to understanding pre-Columbian societies in the Amazon.

"No one has ever described something like this before. This is an extremely novel find — a one of a kind type of thing," said Michael Heckenberger of the University of Florida's Department of Anthropology.

He said that while carbon dating and further excavation must be carried out, the find adds to a growing body of thought among archaeologists that prehistory in the Amazon region was more varied than had been believed.

"Given that astronomical objects, stars, constellations etc., have a major importance in much of Amazonian mythology and cosmology, it does not in any way surprise me that such an observatory exists," said Richard Callaghan, a professor of geography, anthropology and archaeology at the University of Calgary.

Brazilian archaeologists will return in August, when the rainy season ends, to carry out carbon dating and further excavations.

"The traditional image is that some time thousands of years ago small groups of tropical forest horticulturists arrived in the area and they never changed — (that) what we see today is just like it was 3,000 years ago," Heckenberger said. "This is one more thing that suggests that through the past thousands of years, societies have changed quite a lot."

Tropical Stonehenge may have been found - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ward Churchill: 9/11

Looks like the University of Colorado will fire Ward Churchill for his comment made several years back about some people in the World Trade Center being "little Eichmann's." As pointed out, "the whole point of churchill calling them little eichmans or technocrats of the empire is comparing them to the pencil pushers of the nazi death camps, as the wtc folks were the pencil pushers for the american empire."

So much for freedom of speech and academic freedom. The UC will dismiss him on some other trumped-up charges, but this is what it's all about; this and Ward bringing people's attention to the negative side of the American Empire.

Infoshop News - Chancellor says he'll fire Churchill over 9/11 comment

"As for those in the World Trade Center, well, really, let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire, the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved and they did so both willingly and knowingly."

— Ward Churchill , Some People Push Back

"If you want to avoid September 11s, if you want security in some actual form, then it's almost a biblical framing, you have to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As long as you're doing what the U.S. is doing in the world, you can anticipate a natural and inevitable response of the sort that occurred on 9/11. If you don't get the message out of 9/11, you're going to have to change, first of all, your perception of the value of those others who are consigned to domains, semantic domains like collateral damage, then you've really got no complaint when the rules you've imposed come back on you."

— Ward Churchill , Statement to Democracy Now

Yeah, guys saying stuff like this is the kind we don't want teaching in our institutions of higher learning...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dennis Banks

[ The following courtesy of the Herald-Review, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, June 14, 2006 ]

"The American Indian Movement brought to life"

By Britta Arendt

“You’re only here on Earth for a short period of time, maybe 100 years, but when you’re dead you’re gone forever. What the Creator gave you, you have an obligation for future destiny; to bring others into the world—think about it.”

This was a special message Leech Lake Ojibwe leader Dennis Banks gave to students at Northern Lights Community School during a warm spring day in early June. Seated in a circle in the grass behind their school under a bright mid-day sun, a small group of students studying Ojibwe this year attentively listened to the illustrious activist’s life story and the lessons learned from it.

One of the most influential persons in recent American Indian history and, at one time, one of America’s Most Wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Banks has made it his mission in life to protect the rights of his people. In 1968, he co-founded the American Indian Movement (AIM) and since then he has participated in some of the most infamous protests of the 20th century.

Born near Federal Dam on the Leech Lake Reservation, Banks was raised by his grandfather. When he was 4-years-old, the government removed Banks and his brother from their home and sent them to a military boarding school 300 miles away. For seven years, Banks said, he was not allowed to see his family.

“Back then, the government had a policy to separate parents and children to deculturize them,” explained Banks, now nearly 70 years old. “It happened to thousands of kids.”
Although some close friendships were formed among the children at the military schools, Banks said they were never allowed to speak their native languages and punished for speaking in anything but English. He said the Native children also were required to attend Catholic or Lutheran religious services.

“They tried to make Christians out of us—all this, to take the Indian out of us.”
Banks explained how he tried to escape from military school several times only to be caught and sent back. Because he did not know where he lived or how to get home, he said, most times, he would get hungry and confused and hoped he would be found.

“I knew I needed to head north; no one ever told me but I knew my home was north.”
After school, Banks spent eight years in the United States Air Force and served in Tokyo for three years. During the French occupation of Vietnam, Banks remembered understanding why the Vietnamese people were so determined.

“After 12 years, the French couldn’t win against the Vietnamese mainly because the Vietnamese were on their own land,” Banks told the students. “It’s hard to beat native people who fight on their own land because you’re coming to take their land.”
As anti-war demonstrations became common throughout the U.S. in the 1960s, Banks said discrimination toward American Indians became prevalent as well. Police brutality against American Indians coupled with high unemployment and insufficient housing among the American Indian population became driving forces for founding AIM. Established to protect the traditional ways of American Indian people and to engage in legal cases protecting treaty rights of American Indians, AIM became successful in bringing American Indian issues to the public.

“Because of the discriminatory policies in this country, that had roots hundreds of years ago, eventually something had to happen,” continued Banks. “If the community school here wants to make Tuesday a holiday, why would someone in Grand Forks care? Why could you be trampled on because of what you believe in? AIM was formed to bring about change. We didn’t realize how far they would go to try and stop us; put us in jail.”

In the early years of AIM, Banks participated in the occupation of Alcatraz Island demanding that all federal surplus land be returned to American Indian control. In 1972, Banks helped organize the “Trail of Broken Treaties,” walking 3,600 miles from California to Washington D.C., gathering attention and support in a petition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to defeat bills that threatened to abolish certain treaties between the government and the American Indian people.

“The walk took five and a half months,” Banks remembered. “We started with 200 people and ended with 14,000; it was a big moment for us.”

Under Banks’ leadership, AIM also spearheaded a protest on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation against government corruption which led to the 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee which attracted national attention. Banks is said to have been the principle negotiator and leader of the Wounded Knee forces.

“We set up road blocks and allowed no one to enter without permission,” Banks explained. “The government said we took over Wounded Knee but we didn’t, it was our land. Then they started shooting at us. They built bunkers and we built bunkers.”

According to Banks, U.S. soldiers surrounded Wounded Knee with machine guns, armored personnel carriers and snipers. Thousands of rounds of ammunition was fired from both sides throughout the entire 71 days, resulting in the deaths on both sides, until the government agreed to look into AIM’s claims of corruption.

Arrested for felony to commit murder, Banks faced 250 years in jail plus a life sentence. His $250,000 bail was put up by American Indian supporter and actor Marlon Brando and he received amnesty in California by then Governor Jerry Brown who refused to extradite him to South Dakota.

Banks talked about the seven-month trial that resulted in his acquittal. After it was discovered that the prosecution’s primary witness lied about being at Wounded Knee at the time of the occupation and the U.S. military was charged with wasting millions of rounds of ammunition in the fight, Banks said the judge scolded the FBI for the dangerous way the situation was handled.

While in California, Banks earned an associate’s degree from the University of California and taught at Deganawida Quetzecoatl University where he became the first American Indian chancellor. He worked as a drug and alcohol counselor on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and established the first spiritual run as well as the Great Jim Thorpe Longest Run from New York to Los Angeles. Banks has continued his involvement in AIM and is an active member of his Leech Lake community, including Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School.
Banks encouraged the NLCS students to learn more about the Ojibwe culture and ceremonies, “Here we have Fond du Luth and Leech Lake reservations and why you haven’t been in a sweat lodge, I don’t know—I’ve been in a few churches.”

Herald-Review - Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cochise (1812-1874)

June 8, 1874: Cochise passed on.


Words Spoken: Cochise ("Hardwood") - c 1812-June 8, 1874

"When God made the world he gave one part to the white man and another to the Apache. Why was it? Why did they come together?. The white people have looked for me long. I am here! What do they want? They have looked for me long; why am I worth so much?"


"You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our hearts. Speak Americans.. I will not lie to you; do not lie to me."


"When I was young I walked all over this country, east and west, and saw no other people than the Apaches. After many summers I walked again and found another race of people had come to take it. How is it?

We were once a large people covering these mountains. We lived well: we were at peace. One day my best friend was seized by an officer of the white men and treacherously killed. At last your soldiers did me a very great wrong, and I and my people went to war with them.

The worst place of all is Apache Pass. There my brother and nephews were murdered. Their bodies were hung up and kept there till they were skeletons. Now Americans and Mexicans kill an Apache on sight. I have retaliated with all my might.

My people have killed Americans and Mexicans and taken their property. Their losses have been greater than mine. I have killed ten white men for every Indian slain, but I know that the whites are many and the Indians are few. Apaches are growing less every day.

Why is it that the Apaches wait to die -- That they carry their lives on their fingernails? They roam over the hills and plains and want the heavens to fall on them. The Apaches were once a great nation; they are now but few, and because of this they want to die and so carry their lives on their fingernails.

I am alone in the world. I want to live in these mountains; I do not want to go to Tularosa. That is a long way off. I have drunk of the waters of the Dragoon Mountains and they have cooled me: I do not want to leave here.

Nobody wants peace more than I do. Why shut me up on a reservation? We will make peace; we will keep it faithfully. But let us go around free as Americans do. Let us go wherever we please."



Cochise had long worked as a woodcutter at the Apache Pass stagecoach station of the Butterfield Overland line until 1861, when a raiding party drove off cattle belonging to a white rancher and abducted the child of a ranch hand. An inexperienced Army officer, Lt. George Bascom, arrived and ordered Cochise and five other Apaches to appear for questioning. When they denied guilt or complicity, Bascom ordered his men to seize and arrest the Apaches. (Their claims of innocence were later substantiated.)

In the ensuing struggle, soldiers killed one Apache and subdued four others, but Cochise, suffering three bullet wounds, escaped by cutting through the side of a tent. He soon abducted a number of whites to exchange for the Apache captives, but Bascom retaliated by hanging six Apaches, including relatives of Cochise. This sequence of events is usually referred to as "The Bascom Affair."

Avenging these deaths, Cochise took to the warpath with his uncle, Mangas Coloradas. During the following year, warfare by Apache bands was so fierce that troops, settlers and traders all withdrew from the region. And upon the recall of army forces to fight in the U.S. Civil War in 1861, Arizona was practically abandoned to the Apaches.

In 1862, an army of 3,000 California volunteers under Gen. James Carleton marched to Apache Pass to prevent Confederate attacks and put the Apaches to flight with their Howitzers. Although Mangas Coloradas was captured and killed the following year, Cochise and 200 followers eluded capture for more than ten years by hiding out in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, from which they continued their raids, always fading back into their mountain strongholds.

In 1871, command of the Department of Arizona was assumed by Gen. George Crook, who succeeded in winning the allegiance of a number of Apaches as scouts and bringing many others onto reservations. Cochise surrendered in September, but, resisting the transfer of his people to the Tularosa Reservation in New Mexico, escaped in the spring of 1872. He surrendered again when the Chiricahua Reservation was established that summer, and there he died (Ed's Note: of natural causes) on June 8, 1874. Today, the southeastern most county of Arizona bears his name; it includes Tombstone, Douglas and Bisbee, the county seat.


>From (Ed's Note: Many hyperlinks leading to background information embedded in this webpage)

Cochise was the leader of the Chock!onen band of Chiricahua Apache's. He was originally one of the least hostile Apache leaders allowing overland stages to run through his peoples territory. He also supplied the stage station at Apache Pass with firewood and permitted their use of the vital spring in the pass to water both livestock and personnel.

However the the Bascom affair (in 1861) turned Cochise into an unforgiving enemy of the Americans or as he himself put it "your soldiers did me a very great wrong and I and my people went to war with them..."

Driven from Apache Pass during the Apache wars Cochise established a hidden stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains of South-west Arizona. General George Crook's Cavalry combed the mountains without success engaging Cochise's warriors in a protracted guerrilla war.

In 1872 Tom Jeffords, a stage driver and prospector, who was also a personal friend of Cochise brought General Oliver O. Howard to Cochise's stronghold for peace talks. The terminally ill Cochise secured from him a promise that his people would be allowed to return to live in peace at Apache Pass in returning for laying down their weapons. Detesting the white mans lies to which the Apache had been subjected he warned General Howard "We want nothing but to live in peace, but I warn you if you try to move us again there will be war once more; it will be a war without end."

Howard agreed to Cochise's demands, but the generals promise died with Cochise in 1874 and the Apache were never allowed to reclaim Apache Pass. Following his death Taza, Cochise's son, assumed the leadership of the tribe, but it would be the man known to the white's as Geronimo who would lead the continuing Apache resistance.