Native American Traditions

Drums and social distance: Indigenous community holds 'drive-thru' powwow

September 21, 2020

 

In a normal year, reservations nationwide hold powwows nearly every weekend in the spring and summer for hundreds of Native Americans to gather and celebrate Native culture and tradition.

However, most powwows in Indian Country have been canceled this year, as many tribal nations are taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure people stay safe during the pandemic. Although the pandemic had shutdown this celebration for many during the powwow season, members of North Dakota's Native American community were able to adapt and organize a...

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In Michigan, rising lake levels disturb sacred ground along Lake Michigan’s shores

September 16, 2020

At the shoreline, between lake and land, Melissa Wiatrolik reflects on those who were here before Michigan became Michigan. She had been raised in a community that honored the dead, that understood that their ancestors were always present. As a child, she had watched her own family clean the gravestones of those before her. She had attended ghost suppers to both celebrate and feed the deceased. She had grown up with remembrance, and now, at the shores of Lake Michigan, Wiatrolik worked to keep her ancestors at peace.

Indigenous burial grounds line the Michigan coast. But...

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Indigenous Tribe Sees Mission To Reclaim Remains From UT As A Spiritual Issue, Not A Legal One

September 14, 2020

 

Drumming and the rhythmic clinking of wooden seed pods drowned out the sound of cars rushing past the J.J. Pickle Research Campus on a Monday evening.

Dozens of people had gathered at the entrance of the campus to witness as members of UT Austin's student-led Aztec Dance group made an offering to their ancestors. They danced in front of an altar, where bouquets of flowers and bowls with traditional sacred medicines were carefully placed across two colorful blankets.

Three cardboard boxes sat at the altar’s head, representing the remains of three...

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Conservationists, tribes lobby for national monument in area of Spirit Mountain

September 8, 2020

 

Local tribes and national conservation groups are lobbying to establish a fourth national monument in southern Nevada that would preserve Indigenous cultural sites and critical environmental habitat.

The proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument would protect nearly 600 square miles east of the Mojave Desert in southern Clark County.

The Wilderness Society, the National Parks Conservation Association and local tribes are working together to achieve the land designation, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

“I call this the crossroads of...

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Native tribes want sacred land in Southern Nevada designated national monument

August 13, 2020

 

Several conservation groups and native tribes are trying to get thousands of acres of sacred land in Southern Nevada designated as the state's fourth national monument.

They say it's especially important now that so many people are flocking to the area for biking and hiking to get away from crowds during the pandemic.

Companies have tried to build industrial projects on the 380,00 acres that make up Avi Kwa Ame, the Mojave name for Spirit Mountain.

The coalition looking for a national monument designation believes it would help protect...

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Preserving Sacred Traditions During a Pandemic: Corrections Employee at Women’s Prison in Belfair, Washington Wins Award for Her Work in Native Programs

August 11, 2020

JoiSky Caudill ignites a bundle of cedar and sweet grass inside an abalone shell at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW). With an eagle feather, she brushes the smoke around the incarcerated women’s faces, hands and feet. As she moves between the women, they sing. The smudging ceremony is one that goes back centuries in Native communities. In many Native cultures, it’s a means of purification and cleansing. 

Caudill has kept this tribal ceremony, along with several others, alive with a few modifications as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to postpone or cancel...

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After 250 years, Native American tribe regains ownership of Big Sur ancestral lands

July 30, 2020

A northern California Indian tribe's sacred land is now back under their ownership, thanks to the help of a conservancy group.

The Esselen Tribe, one of the state's smallest and least well known tribes, inhabited the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur coast for thousands of years, according to their website. Nearly 250 years ago, their land was taken from then by Spanish explorers, according to the tribe's history. The tribe...

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Indigenous tribe in California faces off with a border wall that’s destroying their history

July 10, 2020

 

On Monday June 29, The indigenous Kumeyaay people held a protest at the border wall between California and Mexico. Activists accused President Donald Trump of destroying ancient Native American burial sites while constructing the wall.

The Kumeyaay people are one of the main tribes who have lived in the region for thousands of years.

About 100 community members sang and chanted peacefully to voice their concerns about explosives being used to destroy...

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We have a story to tell: Indigenous scholars, activists speak up amid toppling of Serra statues

July 8, 2020

 

Jessa Calderon initially felt numb watching the Junipero Serra statue topple to the ground as it was yanked from its platform with yellow rope tied around its neck.

Within minutes, she was in tears.

“I began to cry hysterically. It was like a sense of relief,” said Calderon, a descendant of Gabrielino-Tongva and Ventureño Chumash, who witnessed the toppling on June 20 in downtown Los Angeles.

Calderon and other California Native people prayed and left offerings, including medicinal herbs, at a makeshift altar before activists took down...

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