Thursday, December 25, 2008

146th Annniversary of Mass Hanging

... about 50 Native Americans... [have ridden] horseback into the Mankato area... Their arrival will mark the end of a nearly 300 mile trip to mark the 146th anniversary of the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

Photo courtesy of MPR

Minnisota Public Radio has images from the ride, an audio broadcast and blog post about:

The 300 mile of reconciliation over the mass hanging of Dakota people in 1862.

'The group has endured blizzards and long stretches of below zero temperatures in their journey from the Missouri River to the Minnesota River.

'They saddled up again this morning in southwest Minnesota for one of the last legs of what they call a ride of reconciliation.

'St. Paul, Minn. — About two inches of overnight snow was waiting for the riders as they assembled on the wacipi, or powwow grounds, of the Lower Sioux Community. Trailers, pickup trucks and dozens of people were on hand to help feed, water and brush the horses.

'One of the people saddling up is Jim Miller. Miller lives on the Pine Ridge reservation in western South Dakota. He says despite the rough weather, the riders enthusiasm is undiminished.

'Jim Miller: "I'm amazed at the young guys," Miller says. "They're up and ready to go. We as the elders, we kind of have to talk them down, you know? They wanted to ride in the blizzard, they're just game."

'Miller says he started the ride in 2005 after dreaming about a riderless horse and other symbols he linked to the mass execution in Mankato. An ancestor of his was among those executed.

'The hangings followed the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862 which began just a couple miles away from where Miller stands. On Dec. 26, 1862, victorious federal officials hanged 38 Dakota men as punishment for a war that took hundreds of lives.

'Miller says the pain of that conflict still linger among families on both sides of the war.

'"I want to make a statement that we're the first to apologize, for our part in the war," Miller says. "What the federal government and what the state does is up to them. And we're here on one condition, and that's love for all people. We have to share this planet together and let's do it with love."

'Miller's message of reconciliation is what the event is all about -- bridging gaps between cultures. Miller says when a blizzard stranded the riders for two days in Howard, S.D., the residents he calls non-natives helped out, providing extra feed for the horses.

'In southwest Minnesota, Theresa Welu says her family agreed to put the riders up for a night on their farm near the town of Milroy.

'Theresa Welu: "They were so set on making something better," Welu says. "And their message of peace and hope and strength and trying to help their people reconcile with everyone else, it was just a wonderful thing and we were so glad to play a small part in their ride through here."

'Back on the Lower Sioux, the riders are leaving the powwow grounds, ready to travel county roads on the day's planned 18-mile trip.

'The area was the homeland for the Dakota before the 1862 war. The war started after the U.S. government failed to meet its treaty obligations.

'After the war, the Dakota were driven out of Minnesota, resettling mainly in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Canada.

'Yvonne Wynde's family was among those forced out. Today, her grandson's are among the riders. She says she hopes they learn a little history on the journey.

'Yvonne Wynde: "To see all these names, Lac Qui Parle, Birch Coulee, Wood Lake; what happened here? Really want to become better educated in terms of the American public educational system and the Dakota educational system that I think happens more in the homes than in the schools," says Wynde.

'Wynde says the effects of the 1862 war still linger today, not only in the displacement of the Dakota people, but also in the poverty that followed.

'Once the riders are on the road through Lower Sioux, the history Wynde is interested in is all around.

'They pass by the warehouse where the fighting started in 1862. They'll spend the night at Fort Ridgely, scene of a major battle in the war. Then it's on to Mankato. The group will hold a ceremony there Friday near the execution site.

'More than a decade ago the city renamed the location Reconciliation Park.'

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

Prophesies 1

"Time evolves and comes to a place where it renews again. There is first a purification time. Then there is renewal time. We are getting really close to this time now. We were told, we would see America come and go. In a sense America is dying, from within. Because we forgot the instructions on how to live on earth..."

"... Time evolves and comes to a place where it renews again. There is first a purification time. Then there is renewal time. We are getting really close to this time now. We were told, we would see America come and go. In a sense America is dying, from within. Because we forgot the instructions on how to live on earth.

"Everything is coming to a time where prophesy and man's inability to live on earth in a spiritual way will come to a crossroad of great problems. It's the Hopi belief, it's our belief that if you are not spiritually connected to the earth, understand the spiritual reality on how to live on the earth, it's likely you will not make it.

"When Columbus came that began what we term as the first world war. Because along with him came everybody from Europe. By the end of the second world war, we were in America only 800,000 from 60 million to 800,000. We were almost exterminated in America.

"Everything is spiritual. Everything has a spirit. Everything is brought to you by a Creator. One Creator. Some people call Him God, some people call Him Buddha, some people call Him Allah, some people call Him other names. We call Him Grandfather.

"We're here on earth only a few winters, then we go to the spirit world. The spirit world is more real than most of us believe. The spirit world is everything. Over 95% of our bodies is water. In order to stay healthy, you have to drink good water. When the European first came here, Columbus, we could drink out of any river. If the Europeans had lived the Indian way when they came here, we would still be drinking the water. Why? Because water is sacred. The air is sacred.

"Our DNA is made of the same DNA as the tree. The tree breathes what we exhale. When the tree exhales, we need what the tree exhales. So, we have a common destiny with the tree. We are all from the earth. When the earth, the water, the atmosphere is corrupted, then it will create its own reaction. Mother is reacting. In the Hopi prophesy they say the storms and floods will become greater.

"To me it's not a negative thing to know that there will be great changes. It's not negative. It's evolution. When you look at it as evolution, it's time. Nothing stays the same.

"You should learn how to plant something, that's the first connection. You should treat all things as spirit and realize that we are ONE family. It's never something like the end. It's like life, there is no end to life."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Making Peace with Thanksgiving

[ From Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Making peace with Thanksgiving," by Kery Murakami, November 17, 2008 ]

( Wampanoag home block cut image courtesy of )

James Rasmussen [ director of the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center] was matter-of-fact... when asked how he plans to celebrate Thanksgiving.

"Just like anybody else," he said.

But he knew the question implied more, because he is a member of the Duwamish, and he was helping build the tribe's new longhouse in West Seattle.

After all, Thanksgiving may be a day for turkey and football for many, but it marks the beginning of the end and more than a twinge of betrayal for early Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims survive.

Rasmussen knew there was a political facet to the question, he said. "But on the scale of things that bother me, like (the Duwamish) not being federally recognized, Thanksgiving is pretty low on the list."

Certainly, there will be some Native Americans who boycott the holiday, as Elliott Wolfe, a descendant of the Sioux and Chippewa tribes, said he once considered.

He was in high school and was trying to learn about his heritage.

"I started looking into the history and the negative stuff. You learn how much back stabbing there was, and you hear about all the horrible, horrible things that happened, and it just got a little depressing," said Wolfe, now a junior studying construction management at the University of Washington.

But he went to Thanksgiving dinner that year anyway. "Just because I felt bitter about the holiday didn't mean I wanted to ruin it for everybody."

For all the negative associations, Wolfe and other Native Americans say they've forged their own memories and their own meaning for Thanksgiving -- and none of it has to do with Pilgrims.

"We usually go to my aunt's house or my parents' house," he said. "We all get together and share stories. Me and my cousins usually get into mischief. We have a big dinner. There's so many of us, we can't fit at any one table."

Wolfe said: "I think for most American Indians, it's just a time to spend with family. But you have that thought in the back of your mind. You like getting together but you almost wish there was another reason."

There was another reason to go to the dinner -- at some point, he had to move on or be lost in bitterness. Eventually, he stopped being part of a study group with other Native American students.

"I was catching myself with pessimistic attitudes and negative thoughts. There was nothing I could do about mainstream society whitewashing the history. I could complain about how technically my family should own hundreds of acres in the Midwest. But I could get a good job and buy some of that land back."

But although Native Americans have tried to find meaning in Thanksgiving, the day and the way it's taught in schools still can be a sore spot...

Marty Bluewater, executive director of the United Indians for All Tribes, which offers social services and runs the Native American Daybreak Star Cultural Center in Discovery Park... said United Indians tries to focus on the broader idea of Thanksgiving: sharing...

On Thanksgiving, Bluewater, who is Shawnee and Choctaw, will be with his mother and his nephews. They will barbecue a turkey. And they'll say a few Native prayers. "I'll try to take the good parts and make it a time for sharing," he said.


Further resources:

Teaching About Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NEA Booklist

To mark the 13th anniversary of Native American Heritage Month (November), the National Education Aassociation has released a recommended reading list for students in public schools that they call the "Native American Booklist." It is organized by grade level and includes fiction, non-fiction and poetry:

Grades K-4

* Baby Rattlesnake by Te Ata. Illustrated by Lynn Moroney. Children's Press (1991).
* A Boy Called Slow: The True Story of Sitting Bull by Joseph Bruchac. Putnam (1994)
* Crazy Horse's Vision by Joseph Bruchac. Illustrated by S.D. Nelson. Lee and Low Books (2000)
* The Boy Who Dreamed of an Acorn by Leigh Casler. Illustrated by Shonto Begay. Putnam Books (1994).
* Drumbeat?Heartbeat: A Celebration of the Powwow by Susan Braine. Lerner Publications (1995).
* Earth Daughter: Alicia of Acoma Pueblo by George Ancona. Macmillan (1995).
* Enduring Wisdom by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneave. Illustrated by Synthia St. James. Holiday House (2003).
* Full Moon Stories by Eagle Walking Turtle. Hyperion (1997).
* The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble. Bradbury (1978).
* Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Jake Swamp and Erwin Printup. Lee and Low Books (1995).
* The Good Luck Cat by Joy Harjo. Illustrated by Paul Lee. Harcourt (2000).
* Grandmother's Dreamcatcher by Becky Ray McCain. Albert Whitman and Company (1998).
* Grandmother's Pigeon by Louise Erdrich. Hyperion Books (1996).
* Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Illustrated by Cornelius Wright. HarperCollins (2000).
* Knots on a Counting Rope by John Archambault. Illustrated by Ted Rand. Owlet (1997).
* The Legend of the White Buffalo Woman by Paul Goble. Illustrated by Paul Goble. National Geographic (1998).
* Less Than Half, More Than Whole by Kathleen LaCapa. Illustrated by Michael LaCapa. Northland Press (1994).
* The Magic Hummingbird translated by Ekkehart Malotki, narrated by Michael Lomatuway'Ma. Illustrated by Michael Lacapa. Kiva (1996).
* Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joose. Illustrated by Barbara LaVallee. Chronicle Books (1998).
* A Man Called Raven by Richard Van Camp. Illustrated by George Littlechild. Children's Book Press (1997).
* Many Nations: An Alphabet of Native America by Joseph Bruchac. Illustrated by Robert F. Goetzi. Northland Publishers (1996).
* My Arctic 1,2,3 by Michael Kusagak. Illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka. Annick Press (1996).
* Powwow by George Ancona. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (1993).
* Return of the Buffaloes by Paul Goble. Illustrated by Paul Goble. National Geographic (1996).
* Sing Down the Rain by Judi Moreillon. Illustrated by Michael Chiago. Kiva Publishing (1997).
* Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief. Viking Press (1999).
* This Land is Your Land by George Littlechild. Children's Press (1993).
* What's the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses? by Richard Van Camp. Illustrated by George Littlechild. Children's Book Press (1998).
* When the Rain Sings by the National Museum of the American Indian. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers (1999).

Grades 5-8

* Arctic Memories by Normee Ekoomiak. Holt (1988).
* Arrow Over the Door by Joseph Bruchac. Dial (1998).
* The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Harper (1999).
* Children of the Sun: Stories by and About Indian Kids by Beverly Hungry Wolf. William Morrow (1998).
* Did You Hear Wind Sing Your Name? An Oneida Song of Spring by Sandra DeCoteau. Walker & Company (1995).
* Dancing Teepees: Poems of American Indian Youth by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneave. Holiday House (1988).
* Four Seasons of Corn: A Winnebago Tradition by Sally M. Hunter. Lerner (1997).
* Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith. HarperCollins (2002).
* Navajo: Visions and Voices Across the Mesa by Shonto Begay. Illustrated by Shonto Begay. Scholastic (1995).
* Northern Lights: The Soccer Trails by Michael Kusugak. Illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka. Annick Press (1993).
* The Path of the Quiet Elk by Virginia Stroud. Dial Books (1999).
* Pushing Up the Sky by Joseph Bruchac. Dial Books for Young Readers (2000).
* Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith. HarperCollins (2001).
* Soul Would Have No Rainbow If the Eyes Had No Tears and Other Native American Proverbs by Guy A. Zona. Touchstone Books (1994).
* The Ways of My Grandmothers Beverly Hungry Wolf. William Morrow (1998).
* Wonderful Sky Boat and Other Native American Tales of the Southeast by Jane Louise Curry. Illustrated by James Watts. Margaret McElderry Books (2001).

Grades 9 and Up

* After and Before the Lightening by Simon Ortiz. University of Arizona Press (1994).
* Bloodlines: Odyssey of a Native Daughter by Janet Campbell Hale. University of Arizona Press (1993).
* Encyclopedia of American Indian Civil Rights by James Stuart Olson (editor), Mark Baxter (editor), Darren Pierson (editor), and Jason M. Tetzloff (editor). Greenwood (1997).
* Food and Spirits by Beth Brant. Oyate (1991).
* Full Moon on the Reservation by Gloria Bird. Greenfield Review Press (1998).
* A Gathering of Spirit: A Collection of North American Indian Women edited by Beth Brant. Firebrand Books (1989).
* Ghost Dance: New and Selected Poems by Dorise Seale. Oyate (2001).
* Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King. Bantam (1993).
* Here First: Autobiographical Essays by Native American Writers edited by Arnold Krupet. Modern Library (2001).
* House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday. University of Arizona Press (1966).
* The Joe Leaphorn Series by Tony Hillerman. HarperCollins. (1989-2002).
* Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie. HarperPerennial (1994).
* Power by Linda Hogan. W.W. Norton and Company (1999).
* Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac. HarperCollins (2001).
* Speaking for the Generations: Native Writers on Writing by Simon Ortiz. University of Arizona Press (1998).
* The Woman Who Watches the World by Linda Hogan. W.W. Norton and Company (2001).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Columbus, Cabot & Vespucci

To be honest with you, Columbus Day is an anti-holiday for me. I still cannot believe that this
day is celebrated. It remains a very dark day for the world, on many levels.

Author David Boyle discussed his new book, "Toward the Setting Sun: Columbus, Cabot, Vespucci, and the Race for America" in an expansive NPR interview at:

Talking Columbus On Columbus Day : NPR

Friday, October 10, 2008

Miccosukee & Everglades Restoration

In Southern Florida, there's a battle over a restoration plan for the Everglades. On one side: environmental groups, public officials, and sugar industry executives. On the other side: the Miccosukee, a small group of native Americans that actually live there.

NPR Audio | U.S. Sugar Tastes Sour To Everglades Tribe

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


James Horn. A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. New York: Basic Books, 2005. xi + 289 pp. Illustrations, notes, and index. $26.00 (cloth); $15.95 (paper)

Horn announces that "the English were not the first Europeans to discover Virginia" (p. 1). In the summer of 1561, a Spanish ship was driven by storms into the Bay.

Proceeding inland, the Spaniards anchored along a river in order to gather supplies and repair their vessel, and there, on the banks of what may have been the Chickahominy, they encountered a small group of Indians, two of whom apparently "agreed" to board the ship and sail back to Europe with its crew.

One of these two, Paquiqueneo, was given the name of Don Luis de Velasco, under which title he was presented at Philip II's court in Madrid. Anxious to return to his homeland, Don Luis sailed to Mexico, where he accepted the Christian faith and spent several years living amongst Dominican friars.

Expressing a desire to establish a mission among his own people, Don Luis gained the support of the governor of Florida, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, and in 1570, accompanied by dozen Jesuits, he at last returned to his home. Once resettled among his people, Don Luis soon turned his back upon the missionaries, who struggled to survive a harsh winter, and in February 1571 the apostate and his supporters attacked the mission, killing all but one of its residents.

An enraged Menendez dispatched an expedition against his former comrade; unable to find Don Luis, he settled for unleashing a "chastisement" upon the Indians before returning to Florida.

Although the Spanish mission met a quick and brutal end, in Horn's view it cast a long shadow over future relations between Europeans and Virginia Indians. Menendez's attack acquainted the Indians with the fearsome nature of European warfare, and simultaneously served as a warning to rival European powers that Spain had laid its claims to North American territories as well as those to the south.

Perhaps more importantly, this moment of contact gave rise to tantalizing tales of the alleged wealth of this land, which Spanish mariners claimed was filled with easily accessible lodes of jewels and precious metals. All of these results were to have significant impact upon the next century's English colonial endeavors.

From this arresting opening, Horn moves on to examine the principal players and events that led to and followed the arrival of the small English fleet in 1607. He analyzes the statecraft of Wahunsonacock (whom the English knew as Powhatan) and Opechancanough, the pre-eminent leaders of the region that the Powhatans called Tsenacommacah and he provocatively argues that Opechancanough may have been none other than Don Luis/Paquiquineo (!) and lauds the skill by which these two brothers gained control of "great and spacious Dominions" (p. 20).

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Malcolm's Recommendations

I've added a link to that I will be updating periodically. The recommendations I make are based on 38 years of reading and traveling the Red Road. Pleas go to:


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tsenacommacah People

This posting begins a series on people from Tenakomakah (Tsenacommacah), that area that included Powhatan country between what is now known as the James and York Rivers, which may have also been known by the Spanish as Ajacan, during the time of initial European contact.

"The sundry Marks of the Chief Men of Virginia"
By Theodore de Bry [probably after John White]
Engraving from book page
Plate 23 from "America," Part 1 (1st ed., Frankfurt, 1590–1607)
Image courtesy of

No extant John White painting corresponds to this print. The caption explains the symbols as marks worn by men to show their affiliation: "whereby it may be known what Prince's subjects they be, or of what place they have their origin."

[The following is an excerpt from:]

Re-‘Interpreting’ the Role of the Cultural Broker in the Conquest of La Florida, 1513 - 1600

Considering the important part played by interpreters in facilitating contact, communication, cultural exchange, and conflict resolution in the early colonial period, there have been surprisingly few individual or collective historical biographies of these influential individuals.[1]Although a few anthropologists and historians recently have taken up the cause of these “conduits” of the colonial frontiers, many of their monographs tend to depict these individuals either as “victims”--“weathercocks buffeted by the shifting political winds in one or both cultures,” or as “heroes”--“master mediators” who had been “culturally-enlarged” into “150% men.”[2]While there is some truth to both of these views, neither characterization does justice to the colorful lives, complex roles, and checkered careers of the diverse peoples that ethnohistorians have begun to lump together under the generic label of“cultural brokers.”[3]To date, only one historian, Eugene Lyon, has directly addressed (if briefly) this important subject in the context of the Spanish borderlands frontier as this paper will endeavor to do in a more comprehensive manner.[4]

In examining the culturally ambiguous characters that served as interpreters in La Florida’s early contact period, it is not possible to construct a single composite portrait that would sufficiently represent the diversity of their motives, choices, and life experiences.On the other hand, at least six distinct types of interpreters may be identified: abducted Amerindians, captured and redeemed Castilian castaways, foreign prisoners, youthful catechists and missionaries, acculturated Indian caciques and cacicas, and Spanish garrison soldiers.As often as not, these individuals did not choose the career of cultural broker, but were kidnapped, enslaved, or compelled to assume the role of interpreter or intermediary by Spanish conquistadores and Indian caciques.Since the interpreter figured prominently in the negotiation of truces and peace-settlements, conquistadores and caciques had to be prepared either to win the go-betweens’ loyalty with generous gifts and kindnesses, or to coerce their cooperation with threats of punishment.Although the linguistic skills of these “middlemen” may have made them more sensitive to the cultural values of both parties, it is important to remember that the extraordinary individuals acting as mediators were ordinary men and women in pursuit of their own self-interest.Collectively, however, their individual actions and “personal dramas influenced, changed, and sometimes even dictated the course of colonial development.”[5]


[1].Many of the older generation of “patrician” historians writing about the conquest of the Americas extolled the virtues and trumpeted the accomplishments of a few “great white men” to the exclusion of all other voices and traditions.The histories they and their “consensus school” successors wrote considered only the deeds of the European “discoverers,” explorers, conquistadores, colonial founders, and missionaries as worthy of their pens and ignored or marginalized the more culturally ambiguous men and women of the borderlands frontier.Not surprisingly, the only full-length historical biographies written in this period about interpreters focused on European diplomats: Paul A. W. Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 1696-1760, Friend of Colonist and Mohawk (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1945) and Nicholas B. Wainwright, George Croghan: Wilderness Diplomat (Chapel Hill, N.C.: 1959).Only in the last year has any historian compared and contrasted the experiences of European and Native American interpreters in a single work.See James Hart Merrell, Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier(New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999).

[2].Anthropologist Malcom McFee was the first to argue that the bi-cultural individual had more options and less constraints in his article, “The 150% man: a product of Blackfoot acculturation,” American Anthropologist 70 (1968): 1096-1107; historian J. Frederick Fausz took the opposite view, depicting these individuals as “marginal men” in his article, “‘Middlemen in peace and war’: Virginia’s earliest Indian interpreters, 1608-1632,” published in the Journal of American History 75 (June 1988): 41-64.Anthropologist James A. Clifton quickly counter-attacked, debunking the “older popular stereotype” that “culturally marginalized people became psychologically diminished,” and arguing instead that as masters of two (or more) cultures, interpreters actually became “culturally enlarged.”See the introduction to his Being and Becoming Indian: Biographical Studies of North American Frontiers (Chicago: Dorsey Press, 1989), 28-29.Other historians have chosen--much like their “cultural broker” subjects--to straddle the fence between the warring camps, rather than take one side over the other.See, for example, Nancy L. Hagedorn and Alan Taylor’s characterization of a Stockbridge Mohican mediator, respectively published as “‘A friend to go between them’”: the interpreter as cultural broker during Anglo-Iroquois councils, 1740-1770,” Ethnohistory 35 (Winter 1988) and “Captain Hendrick Aupaumut: the dilemmas of an intercultural broker,” Ethnohistory 43:3 (Summer 1996).

[3].Historian Margaret Connell Szasz, ed., Between Indian and White Worlds: the Cultural Broker (Norman: London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), and linguist Frances Karttunen, ed. Between Worlds: Interpreters, Guides, and Survivors (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, c.1994) wisely ignored the debate altogether, and as a result have produced more informative and complex look at the varied lives, survival strategies, and experiences of the interpreters included in their studies.

[4].See “The captives of Florida,” and “Cultural brokers in sixteenth-century Spanish Florida,” in Eugene Lyon, ed., Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (New York: London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995), 171-190, 329-336.

[5].See the editors’ introduction in David G. Sweet and Gary B. Nash, ed., Struggle and Survival in Colonial America (Berkeley: University of California Press, c.1981), 1-13.