Native American Traditions

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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Making the past present: Beloit College faculty, students raise awareness of burial mounds

September 28, 2020

A new wave of Beloit College students are actively working to help raise awareness of the indigenous burial mounds that span the college’s central campus, while recognizing past mistreatment of the sacred ground and native peoples.

The mounds are estimated to have been built between 500 BC and 1200 AD. Around 20 of the 27 mounds remain on campus, some of which were excavated or built over as the campus grew. According to Wisconsin State Archaeologist Robert Birmingham, 80% of mounds have been destroyed in Wisconsin.

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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 socially-distant powwow...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Dakota Access pipeline temporarily shut down in legal and ‘spiritual’ battle

July 7, 2020

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has temporarily shut down the Dakota Access pipeline for the latest twist in what activists and religious leaders have called a “spiritual battle.”

Oil must stop flowing through the Dakota Access pipeline by Aug. 5, according to a decision Monday (July 6)...

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