Native American Traditions

“This is Not Our First Pandemic”

January 6, 2021

In reporting on the transformative thinking Native communities are putting into action in these tumultuous times, I heard time and time again: “This is not our first pandemic.” Since the 1500s, when ever-larger numbers of Europeans began arriving in this hemisphere, disasters have come thick and fast for the First Nations, including tens of millions wiped out within a century by continual waves of unfamiliar diseases—measles, influenza, smallpox, typhus, diphtheria, and more. Village after village stood empty. Enduring shock and grief, the survivors relied on ancient lifeways to support...

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The Radical Inclusiveness of Advent

December 18, 2020

On the dining room table in our house, a bundle of sage sits next to the Advent wreath.

Every night we read from our children’s Advent book, and then from Keepers of the Earth a book of Native American stories written by Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac.

I turn the Pandora station from Frank Sinatra Holiday Music to Powwow Dance in the middle of the day while I’m doing dishesbecause this is what an Indigenous Advent is like.

This is the way of walking two worlds with one spirit, one spirit...

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'Our DNA is of this land': The Cherokee quest to reclaim stolen territory

December 9, 2020

AMY WALKER, 79, gets emotional each time she drives from her home in Cherokee, North Carolina, to Kituwah, a sacred site just seven miles outside of town, to tend to her four-acre garden. There, in the place where her ancestors settled thousands of years ago, she plants heirloom beans and corn, the same crops they once grew.

An elder of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), Walker says the garden keeps her connected to her identity as an indigenous woman. “Down where there are 1,000 graves on the land,” she says. “Our ancestors’ spirits are there.”

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Tampa Bay Indigenous group will protest Dollar General construction on historic site

December 3, 2020

Members from Tampa Bay’s Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality (FIREE) are planning to protest construction on a historic site in Alachua County on Thursday, Dec. 3.

They will meet up with Central Florida American Indian Movement members and supporters in Alachua County to demonstrate against plans for a Dollar General to be built upon the “...

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The Shared History of Wild Horses and Indigenous People

December 2, 2020

The horses at the Sacred Way Sanctuary in Florence, Alabama, are among the last of their kind. Some have dark stripes like arrows tracing the spine or climbing up the forelegs. Some have curly, poodlelike coats or manes that cascade to the ground.

According to the history books, these horses don’t exist. In the official narrative, America’s original horses “went extinct” thousands of years ago, killed off by the frigid temperatures of the last Ice...

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Native regalia reflects tribal cultures and histories: 'You remember where you come from'

November 19, 2020

Yolanda Hart Stevens straddles an upright mesquite log with an indentation cut into one end.Into the hollowed-out divot, she places hunks of clay dug up from a secret clay pit.

Using the end of an oblong stone about 8 inches long, she pounds the small nodules into a coarse flour-like substance. She sifts pebbles and other contaminants from the pasty clay flour, then adds water and mixes it by hand.  

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‘This land holds our stories’: Senecas rally against solar proposal

November 16, 2020

CALEDONIA – Members of the Seneca Nation came together near the former Iroquois village of Canawaugus last week in protest of a solar developer’s plan to build a 600,000-panel solar array on hundreds of acres of land once owned, used and enjoyed by their indigenous ancestors.

Protesters say their ancestors were forced off their land through decades and centuries of aggressive tactics by European and colonial settlers, land speculators and bad-faith treaties with the United States.

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Minnesota sex offenders sue over religious restrictions during pandemic

October 6, 2020

More than a dozen men in Minnesota's Sex Offender Program are suing the state's human services department, alleging the agency has banned the practice of religious gatherings for more than six months in the wake of COVID-19.

Attorney Erick Kaardal, who filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of 15 clients, said the restrictions inside the Moose Lake facility continued even after a June executive order from Gov. Tim Walz that allowed places of worship to reopen at 50 percent capacity.

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