Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Courtesy Cherokee Nation/YouTube
Lawrence Panther discusses daily life at Seneca Indian Boarding School in Wyandotte, Oklahoma in the 1960s during the Cherokee Nation Lunch & Learn lecture series.
Video: Lawrence Panther Discusses Daily Life at Seneca Indian Boarding School:
Bullying light-skinned kids and slapping students for broken eyeglasses at Seneca Indian Boarding School
On July 20, the Cherokee Nation posted a video on YouTube as part of its Lunch & Learn lecture series. Lawrence Panther was 8 years old when he was enrolled in the Seneca Indian Boarding School in Wyandotte, Oklahoma. He attended the school from 1964 to 1971.
He remembers the day he was picked up by the superintendent; it was December 8, 1964: “I didn’t know where I was going or what was happening… we just packed a bunch of clothes up in a box,” he says in the video. He and his siblings all had their belongings packed in boxes and were picked up to attend the boarding school.
Panther was in third grade when he started at the school, and nobody told him or his siblings what was happening or where they were going.
Because he “didn’t know what to think” he says in the video that he felt “lost” and “lonely” when he first arrived at the boarding school. “Every night for those three weeks, I would cry,” he says in the video.
Daily life at the Seneca Indian Boarding School began promptly with the ringing of the bell at 6 a.m. Meals were a choreographed, yet quiet dance of standing, sitting and singing when instructed by the dining hall matron and her bell. Each of the some 200 Native American students had an assigned seat, so it was easy to tell who was absent.
“How we were expected to follow the rules… I never really did think it was like prison or anything like that… probably because I really didn’t grasp what was going on,” he says in the video.
After breakfast each student had a task, Panther’s was sweeping sidewalks when he first arrived. Classes would then begin around 8 a.m. On weekends, the students could walk the half-mile to town.
“It’s hard to imagine letting kids [at that age] walking that far now,” Panther says of the boarding school students, who were as young as 5.
Panther said it was the sports that helped him adjust to being at boarding school, activities like baseball and football. He wasn’t one of them, but some students, like one of his cousins, did try to run away from the school.
While most of the students kept to themselves, but there was bullying. Even Panther admitted to ganging up on kids with lighter skin. Until he learned that they were all in the same boat at the boarding school and bullied one student to the point of jumping out a second-story window. He then decided that wasn’t the way to behave anymore.
While a few employees did speak Cherokee, attending the boarding school was where he first spoke English, and saw some rough treatment of students by some employees.
“There was a nurse there, she was pretty rough with students,” he says in the video. He saw an 8-year-old girl get slapped around for not taking care of her eyeglasses. “That scared me when something like that would happen.
After Panther discusses daily life at Seneca Indian Boarding School, he opens the floor up to questions. Watch the full video below:
Kin 63: Blue Spectral Night
I dissolve in order to dream
I seal the input of abundance
With the spectral tone of liberation
I am guided by my own power doubled.
The dimension of art is the dimension of universal self-creation.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Anahata Chakra (Silio Plasma)
Monday, July 24, 2017
Courtesy Syracuse University
Native American students are seen here at Syracuse University in upstate New York. Native American education needs to improve and include tribal history and culture at the public school level.
Tribal Identity and Native American Education:
For Native American education to get better, tribal history and culture must be included
Native American education is still far behind the rest of the nation, and is not suitable to Natives who want to preserve tribal identities, communities or nations. Despite considerable investment in the education of Native children, Native American students are under-prepared for college and graduate school. The education of Indian children does not address the cultural, political, and economic needs of Native American communities and governments.
In the United States, Native American children are educated in public schools or schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. While there has been some improvement in multi-cultural and general education, there has been little focus or improvement on education that serves tribal governments and Native communities.
How is it possible to address Native American education and make it more useful? Schools were introduced by national governments, and their main purpose was the integration and assimilation of Native American students. Hence school materials focused on mainstream learning, while not giving significant attention to tribal history, culture, or knowledge.
Contemporary public schools in the United States field many non-reservation students of Indian descent. At best, Natives are treated as members of an ethnic or cultural group in the United States. Most immigrants are people who left their homelands because of pressing political, economic or cultural conditions. Immigrants were looking for a new start, and were willing and highly motivated to adapt to the American market system, since it offers economic opportunities, political freedoms, and cultural diversity. Teachers and education administrators expect that American Indian children will pursue the same goals. Many Indian people are willing to accept the American view of education and participation in America.
Nevertheless, Indian tribes work to participate in contemporary markets, and uphold government-to-government relations, and offer significant Indian cultural diversity. Many tribal communities want Native American education that produces leaders, professionals, and artists, who can contribute toward upholding the tribal project of political sovereignty, cultural diversity, and economic well being. Tribal governments are not getting enough students and leaders needed to build, participated in, and protect tribal communities, governments, and community assets.
In recent years, tribes have experimented with various ways for improving graduation rates of Native American students. At the same time, tribal communities often have people in leadership roles that support tribal citizens, value tribal life, and are willing and capable of supporting tribal rights within the context of contemporary American life. Some gaming tribes have started to build tribal schools, but often found the expense, when going it alone, was too much. Other gaming tribes invested heavily in local K-12 schools. They built strong local schools not only for their own children, but for all children in the nearby school district. This strategy developed good schools, and complemented and extended public school financing. However, the schools followed public school curricula and did not provide cultural knowledge or historical and legal materials that are necessary for a contemporary tribal citizen.
Another strategy was to press the students toward greater achievement and offer college courses to Native American high school students. The courses provided college credit, but at the same time also provided legal, cultural, and policy knowledge about Indian affairs that are usually missing in private, public, and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. The supplementary Indian studies college classes enable Indian students to strengthen their college applications with extra-curricular college level course work. Extra classes look strong on a college application.
Furthermore, the students are introduced to central concepts in tribal culture, history, and law, all of which generates interest and knowledge in tribal nations and government. Since, the current Indian student pipeline does not provide enough students for college who will return to tribal communities or engage in Indian affairs policies. It may be necessary to complement private, BIA, and public schools with courses and challenges that enable Indian students to be successful in American society, while retaining tribal identity and commitments.*
Duane Champagne • July 23, 2017
Kin 62: White Planetary Wind
I perfect in order to communicate
I seal the input of spirit
With the planetary tone of manifestation
I am guided by the power of heart.
Chakras may be viewed as switches we activate when the chakras inside the planet are activated; n shadows dissolve, and a new world is revealed.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Manipura Chakra (Limi Plasma)
Sunday, July 23, 2017
The Invasive and Imposed Constructs of the European Mind:
Our original nations did not develop the words that are now being used to oppress our lives and our territories
The theory of “aboriginal title” is of a set of ideas produced by the Euro-American mind through the development of metaphors and other mental constructs, which, by means of a wave of genocidal acts, was forcibly imposed on our original nations and peoples, along with many other alien ideas. The “Theory of Aboriginal Title” is focused on in the book Indian Pueblo Water Rights, co-authored by Charles T. DuMars, Marilyn O’Leary, and Albert E. Utton. The first heading of Chapter 3, “The Pueblo Water Right as Aboriginal,” discusses the historical development of the “Theory of Aboriginal Title.”
“At the time of European exploration and colonization of North America,” the authors say, “the only inhabitants were Indians.” Before Christian Europeans invasively brought the words “Indian” and “Indians” to the land mass now typically called “North America” or “the Americas,” there were no people or peoples living here who were identified by those names. Not one original nation of this part of the planet self-identified as “Indian” or “Indians” prior to Christian European colonization. Stated differently, before Christo-European colonizers invaded our part of the planet, no peoples existed here who called themselves “Indian” or “Indians.”
Such terms are metaphors mentally and linguistically invented by Europeans and, backed by various forms and means of force, projected by Europeans onto the original nations and peoples living in a vast geographical place that Europeans of long ago knew as “the Indies.” Our nations and peoples, comprised of our free and independent ancestors, were not “Indian” or “Indians” except in Christian European language and mental activity. Our ancestors became “known” by such names as a direct result of Europeans imposing their language and ideas on our ancestors. The Christian Europeans mentally projected words and ideas such as “Indians” and “Indian occupancy” out “into” the world and then claimed to “see” what were in actuality their own mental and linguistic projections.
The book Indian Pueblo Water Rights discusses “Indian occupancy” without ever mentioning that “Indian occupancy” is an idea invented by Europeans and then mentally projected onto and imposed on our original nations and our territories. The authors say: “The original Indian occupancy is termed aboriginal possession and carries with it aboriginal title to the land occupied.” Their use of the word “original” raises the question, “original to what?” The phrase “original Indian occupancy” suggests that the concept or idea of “Indian occupancy” has a starting point, or a place of origin. On reflection, that “place” of origin is found in the imaginative operations of the invasive European mind.
To further emphasize their view, the authors added a footnote, in which point they write: “There is no doubt that the Pueblo Indians were the aboriginal occupants.” This mention of “no doubt” makes it appear to be beyond question that the imposed terminology “aboriginal occupants” is factual, true, and correct, based on objective “observation.” Additionally, by using the word “were,” the authors are commenting on the Pueblo Indians’ state of being, thereby suggesting, as if it were a physical fact, that the Pueblo “Indians” were “aboriginal occupants,” independent of the Christian European mind, rather than as a result of the subjective and politically motivated ideas of the Christian European mind.
It is important to focus on the point that the ideas of “Indian occupancy” and “aboriginal occupants” are a direct result of the European’s thinking in a colonizing manner about the nations and peoples existing on the continent when they as colonizers first invaded. Given this focus, we are then able to realize that ideas which were deemed by Christian Europeans to be “true,” were only “true” in the context of Europeans’ dominating assumptions about our nations and peoples that were already existing here on the continent when Christian European colonization began.
In short, the concept of “Indian/aboriginal occupancy” has nothing to do with—and says nothing about—how the original peoples viewed and understood themselves and their relations to the lands where they lived. The European concepts derived from European minds, not from the minds of the original peoples.
Instead of focusing on the “historical” development of “aboriginal title,” the authors of Pueblo Indian Water Rights would have done us a real service if they had focused on the colonizers’ mental development of the ideas of “aboriginal title” and “aboriginal occupancy.” Much needed insight would have been provided by pointing out that key words and ideas such as “Indians,” “occupancy,” “aboriginal occupants,” “aboriginal possession,” and “aboriginal title,” are Christian European imposed words and mental constructs, imposed on us without the free consent of our original nations. This point holds true with regard to the entire repertoire of the English language (or of Spanish in those regions first colonized by Spain).
It also would have been helpful if the authors of Pueblo Indian Water Rights had mentioned that those European words and ideas were not and are not physical features of the natural world. None of those words or ideas came about independently of the thinking of the European mind, or independently of some European language system. To be precise, the co-authors of Pueblo Indian Water Rights ought to have written, “There is no doubt that the Spaniards, and other Christian Europeans, mentally conceptualized and unilaterally named the Pueblo Indians as ‘aborigines’ and ‘aboriginal occupants’, with ‘aboriginal possession’.”
This line of analysis leads to the following: Our original nations and peoples did not mentally and linguistically develop or invent the words and ideas that are now being used by various states of domination to oppress our lives and our territories. So how did the assumption come about that we are rightfully subject to the colonizers’ words and ideas without our free consent? In part that assumption came about and is now successfully maintained because we don’t spend enough time questioning and challenging the colonizers’ words and ideas such as “aboriginal title” and an “Indian title of occupancy” based on the Christian sighting (“discovery”) of non-Christian lands.*
Steven Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) is co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, and author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Fulcrum, 2008). He is a producer of the documentary movie, The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code, directed and produced by Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota), with narration by Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree). The movie can be ordered from 38Plus2Productions.com.
Kin 61: Red Solar Dragon
I pulse in order to nurture
I seal the input of birth
With the solar tone of intention
I am guided by the power of navigation.
Every aspect of our daily life embodies a divine gesture if we are awake in the moment to see.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Visshudha Chakra (Alpha Plasma)
Saturday, July 22, 2017
A golden eagle grabs a drone during a military training exercise at Mont de Marsan French Air Force base, southwestern France, February 10, 2017.
How Did I Miss That? War Eagles Fight Drones for Air Superiority:
Navajo get their own Navy ships, while a vlogger poisons herself for likes
I am Cherokee by blood, but I was born and raised in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The Cherokee and Creek languages are completely different but some of the lore is so similar I confuse them even now, when I want to talk about eagles.
Both nations have a Bird Clan and an Eagle Dance and ceremonial uses for eagle feathers. Cherokees have a ceremony related to killing an eagle that is much more complex than the simple thanks offered to other animals, and eagles are not to be killed except by people taught the ceremony and then only in rare circumstances.
Both nations hold Eagle to be sacred and relate Eagle to success in war. Cherokees sometimes refer to the golden eagle as the “war eagle.”
When I left home and began to meet and listen to Indians not Cherokee or Creek, I found that respect for Eagle is not confined to the Southeastern tribes.
When my son was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, calling them “the Screaming Eagles” made perfect sense considering their history. They were in the Normandy invasion. They were surrounded at Bastogne and refused to surrender, becoming the first full division to be cited for gallantry in action.
Those were the troops sent in to escort black children into Little Rock, Arkansas schools when the governor had mobilized the National Guard to stop them.
The Washington Post reported this week that war eagles have entered the war on terrorism. Drones are getting cheaper every day in toy stores. Terrorists are using them to deliver bombs in urban areas where shooting down the drones might kill as many people as the bombs.
The French Air Force raised four golden eagle chicks trained from hatching to take down drones. In a splendid display of Gallic humor, the French found names for their secret weapons in Les Trois Mousquetaires: Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan.
The French decided to try war eagles for defense after an untrained Australian eagle demonstrated innate hostility to a drone and research showed eagles would have air superiority in the fight. Dutch police had reportedly trained an eagle to pluck drones out of the air.
My cousin Ray Sixkiller wanted to know whether the four war eagles will be known as the Alexandre Dumas Escadrille. I am not informed, but Agence France-Presse reported that the eagles are going to work. In a public demonstration, d’Artagnan launched from a military control tower with an eagle scream, covered 200 meters in 20 seconds, and left the remains of his target in a stand of tall grass.
A second brood of war eagles is on order. The eagle handlers are designing mittens of leather and Kevlar to protect the birds’ talons in case their interception sets off the bomb.
Navajo Times reported that the Navajo Nation Council’s Naabik’iyáti’ Committee and the Secretary of the Navy have agreed in principle to name the first re-designed tug and rescue-salvage ships “Navajo.” Now, Congress must appropriate the funds to build it, estimated to be over $63 million.
Having the tribal name on the first one means that all subsequent vessels of the same design will be known as “Navajo class.” The naming deal was brokered by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona).
Cousin Ray vacationed on the Navajo Rez this summer, so he was quick to assure me, “There’s no truth to the rumor that Navajos are lining up to join the Navy so they can see what water looks like.”
HuffPost reported that Oregon State Police and the Depoe Bay Fire Department responded to an unfortunate accident on Highway 101. A truck driver failed to slow sufficiently approaching a construction zone. When he steered violently to avoid a collision one of his cargo containers flew into oncoming traffic. His cargo was 7,500 pounds of live hagfish.
Smithsonian Magazine calls the Pacific hagfish “one of the most disgusting animals in the ocean.” They are also known as “slime eels” or “snot snakes.” When under duress, each hagfish can fill a five-gallon bucket with a white, sticky slime.
Marine scientist Andrew David Thaler recommended that owners of the four vehicles involved in the crash clean their cars quickly and throw away their clothes because “hagfish slime is so tough and dense that scientists are looking into using it to create a natural Lycra.”
The Oregon State Police tweeted out the tale with the hashtag #Cleanup on Aisle 101”
Cousin Ray wanted to know where that truck was taking 7,500 pounds of snot snakes?
They were being shipped to South Korea, where they are considered good to eat.
“Yum,” he deadpanned.
Motherboard reported that a 26-year-old Chinese vlogger who goes by “Ms. Zhang” on her health and wellness videos, poisoned herself on a live video feed. Speaking about the claimed health benefits of Aloe Vera, she bit into the raw leaves of an Agave americana plant.
Her first comment was vintage show business trouper, “Not bad.” Then she said, “Wow, very bitter. So bitter.” The video stream was cut at that point but other news sources reported she was rushed to a hospital. Her stomach was pumped and she is reported in stable condition with burns to her mouth and throat.
Aloe Vera originated in North Africa but has spread anthrogenically around the world. American Indians commonly use it externally to treat burns. Agave americana is a decorative plant where water is scarce and it is known to be poisonous to humans.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer and California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment list Aloe Vera as a carcinogen when eaten, but some curanderos still recommend ingesting it.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that Judge Sharon A. Chatman sentenced Robert Farmer, 24, to 16 years in prison. The District Attorney’s sentencing memorandum read in part:
Defendant chose as his targets particularly vulnerable victims, ensuring that his acts would be secretive in nature… Indeed, fourteen of Defendant’s victims have never been located and were only identified through DNA analysis of blood or other items found inside of Defendant’s car and on his clothing or in surveillance footage of Defendant abducting a victim.
Defendant’s crimes involved planning and sophistication in avoiding detection as he terrorized an entire community.
In her decision, Judge Chatman listed off the unknown victims as “Doe” and then the known victims named Angel, Gogo, Rayden, Thumper, Jupiter, Traveler and Tiger.
The crimes that put Farmer away for 16 years involved 20 counts of animal cruelty for killing elderly and tame cats over a two-month period.
Cousin Ray, like me, is a dog person, but we both thought this guy would be dangerous to humans as well if he wasn’t already, since the DA’s memorandum revealed he had already assaulted his landlady’s grandson and his father, a retired police captain.
Farmer’s defense lawyer argued that his client was in a “methamphetamine frenzy.”
Cousin Ray wondered how any kind of “frenzy” could last two months.
A mere week since I reported in this space about academic interest in death selfies—or, precisely, people who die because they were focused on the selfie rather than what was about to happen—The New York Times reported on a phenomenon that might be called “selfies that make you wish you were dead.”
The immediate news was from an immersing art exhibition at 14th Factory, a gallery in Los Angeles. British artist Simon Birch had installed a roomful of crowns on pedestals. Surveillance video showed a woman gallery goer, attempting to take a selfie with the crown of her choice, slipped and fell against one pedestal knocking it over and starting a domino effect that crashed lots of pedestals and sent high dollar headwear crashing to the hard floor. According to the artist, the damage from that selfie gone wrong exceeded $200,000.
The Times went on to sift through the news for similar selfie destruction.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden shut down Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors for three days of repairs after a selfie taker destroyed an LED pumpkin that was the source of one of the images being bounced through the mirrors.
In 2015, Cremona, Italy had a 300-year-old sculpture shattered by a selfie-seeker.
In 2014, an American student tried to snatch a selfie from inside a 32-ton sculpture in the shape of a vagina at Tubingen University. He got stuck, but firefighters were able to extract him without destroying the sculpture. Cousin Ray wanted to know if K-Y Jelly was involved, but I was wondering whether alcohol was involved.
Speaking of alcohol, the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, Italy owned a statute created in the early 19th century as an exact copy of the ancient Greek sculpture, Drunken Satyr. They owned it until 2014, when a student climbing on it for a selfie broke off a leg.
Last year, a tourist climbed to the roof of a Lisbon train station to accomplish a selfie with a statute of Dom Sebastiao, a 16th century king of Portugal. When the would-be photographer and Sebastiao fell off the roof together, the statue shattered into pieces that might do for souvenirs, since Sebastiao is forever unavailable to appear in selfies.
Native News Online updated the recent notice in this column that the Trump administration intends to solve the problem of overgrazed public lands by legalizing the slaughter of wild horses.
The CANA Foundation headed up a lobbying push in support of a bipartisan (how rare is that?) move to stop the slaughter by cutting off funding for inspection of any slaughterhouses that process horses, an amendment to an appropriations bill sponsored by Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Charlie Dent (R- PA).
Despite support straddling the aisle, the amendment was voted down in the Appropriations Committee, leaving 55,000 wild horses in immediate jeopardy because they are already in custody. The Bureau of Land Management has requested funds to euthanize the horses that don’t get eaten.
There will be more to come and I got to wondering about the CANA Foundation. CANA has been spearheading the effort to save the mustangs that have roamed North American lands since the Spanish proved unable to keep track of their livestock.
I took CANA to be an acronym, but I never figured out for what. So now I think it might refer to the village where Jesus performed his first miracle—the superfluous one.
Refreshments were getting low at a wedding party so Jesus turned some water into wine, apparently unaware that many branches of the Church started in his name would regard drinking alcohol as a sin.
Whatever the CANA in CANA Foundation means, I see that its leadership includes Moses Brings Plenty (Lakota) and Will Strongheart (Keeseekoose First Nation). I wish Brings Plenty and Strongheart the best of luck, but I’m afraid that 55,000 dead horses will have to compete with the human body count if Trumpcare and President Trump’s budget succeed in halving federal funding for Medicaid.
“There must be an overgrazing problem,” Cousin Ray snarled, “in the food stamp program.”*
By Steve Russell • July 21, 2017
Kin 60: Yellow Galactic Sun
I harmonize in order to enlighten
I seal the matrix of universal fire
With the galactic tone of integrity
I am guided by the power of flowering.
True initiates value unity and harmony, and they are always striving for the highest possible self-integration and experience of universal brother/sisterhood.*
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Svadhistana Chakra (Kali Plasma)
Friday, July 21, 2017
Sherman Alexie Pulls Back on Appearances:
In a moving statement on Facebook, famed author says he needs time to grieve his mother's death
Editor’s Note: Famed Spokane/Coeur d’Alene author Sherman Alexie, author of oft-banned The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and several other books and screenplays, pulled back last month from the tour to promote his latest book, a memoir centered around his relationship with his mother, Lillian Alexie. She walked on in 2015.
In the meantime, Alexie will continue to inspire writers in both spirit, via his newly established Sherman Alexie Scholarship for the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), and with the occasional appearance (during the IAIA 2017 Summer Readers Gathering this month). But on July 13, in a moving Facebook post that doubled as a tribute to his late mother, Alexie detailed the unfolding of his decision to cancel most of his tour. Below is the full text of that statement.
July 13 at 12:27pm
If you’re reading this open letter then you’re probably aware that I recently published a memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. The memoir is mostly about my relationship with my late mother, Lillian Alexie. She was a complicated and difficult person. She was sometimes cruel and often cold. I loved her, yes, but I sometimes hated her, too. She was brilliant, funny, beautiful, generous, vindictive, deceitful, tender, manipulative, abusive, loving, and intimidating. She was one of the last fluent speakers of our tribal language. The language is being taught again. And that’s wonderful and life-giving. But when my mother died, she took with her so many words, stories, and songs that will never be heard again. Lillian was a storyteller in Spokane and English. She was also a quilter, an amazing artisan and artist. She was industrious and visionary.
And, after writing this memoir, I am able to proudly admit that I inherited many of my mother’s best qualities and ruefully confess that I also inherited many of her worst.
I am my mother’s son.
Lillian haunted me when she was alive. And she has haunted me since her death in July, 2015.
And she has haunted me in spectacular ways since I published my memoir a month ago. She has followed me from city to city during my promotional book tour.
On three consecutive nights, in three different cities, police and ambulance sirens rang out as I told the story about the moment I learned of my mother’s death.
In another city, in a hotel whose decor can best be described as Bram Stroker’s Ikea, I stepped out of the elevator to see a handmade quilt hanging on the wall. Why was such a quaint piece of Americana being displayed in such a trendy hotel?
“Hello, Mom,” I said to that quilt each time I walked by it.
Last night, as I returned to Seattle, I stepped off my plane to see an airport valet waiting with a wheelchair for one of my fellow passengers. That valet held a sign with a familiar name—a name that made me laugh. That valet was waiting to ferry somebody named Lillian.
As I write in the memoir, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time.
As I also write in the memoir, I don’t believe in magic, but I believe in interpreting coincidence exactly the way you want to.
I don’t believe in the afterlife as a reality, but I believe in the afterlife as metaphor. And my mother, from the afterlife, is metaphorically kicking my ass.
Two weeks ago, during a private academic event, I was speaking to a man from another country. The room was crowded and busy and loud. That man and I had to raise our voices in order to hear each other.
I loudly told him about my memoir. I loudly told him about my tribe. I loudly told him about my mother. I loudly told him that she was a ghost who haunted me.
And then, suddenly, all of the conversations in the room stopped. The silence was abrupt and surprising. Thirty strangers were acutely aware of this awkward silence. Thirty strangers laughed together.
“Sherman,” the man from another country said to me. “In my culture, when those kind of silences happen, we say that God just passed by.”
“That’s beautiful,” I said.
The man talked about his tribe. Then he asked me more about my tribe.
“Sherman,” he said. “Your tribe’s name, Spokane, what does it mean?”
I said, “It means ‘Children of the Sun.’ ”
At that moment, the gray summer clouds parted and a bolt of sunlight shot through a small window and illuminated me.
I narrowed my eyes against the glare.
But my new friend, the man from another country, looked at the light and said, “Ah, Sherman, I think your mother just arrived. It is good to meet her.”
I laughed. But I wanted to sob. I did sob later that night. I have been sobbing many times a day during this book tour. I have sobbed in private and I have sobbed onstage.
I have been re-breaking my heart night after night. I have, to use recovery vocabulary, been re-traumatizing myself.
Last week, I fell ill with a terrible head cold and had to cancel events in Tulsa and Missoula. But I also fell ill with depression. I medicated my head cold. I quickly healed from that simple malady. But I couldn’t medicate my sadness—my complicated grief.
I sobbed and sobbed, and then I got on another airplane and continued my book tour.
But then, in the fifteenth or twentieth hotel room of this summer, I dreamed.
In this dream, I entered the movie Smoke Signals and became Victor Joseph as he ran through the night to save a woman injured in a car wreck. I ran through the desert night. I ran through fire and the memory of fire. I ran until my feet bled. I ran until dawn. I ran until I collapsed exhausted to the road.
In the movie, the collapsed Victor Joseph reaches toward a vision of his dead father. But it is a hallucination. Victor is actually reaching toward a highway construction worker.
In my dream, I am the one fallen to the road. And I reach toward a vision of my dead mother. But she is also the highway construction worker. And she is holding a sign that says STOP.
I think the meaning of that dream is obvious.
It means I am supposed to stop this book tour. Because of the short notice, I’ll still perform at my gigs in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco this month. But I am cancelling all of my events in August and I will be canceling many, but not all, of my events for the rest of the year.
Dear readers and booksellers and friends and family, I am sorry to disappoint you. I am sorry that I will not be traveling to your cities to tell you my stories in person.
But I will be writing.
When I told Diane, my wife, about my mother’s ghost and about my plans to cancel so many events, she said, “Maybe it’s your mother taking care of you from Heaven.”
“Maybe,” I said.
“But I think it’s probably your subconscious taking care of the rest of you. I think it’s probably you being a good mother to yourself. You are mothering you.”
So here I am—the son and the mother combined—who needs to take a big step back and do most of my grieving in private. My memoir is still out there for you to read. And, when I am strong enough, I will return to the road. I will return to the memoir. And I know I will have new stories to tell about my mother and her ghost. I will have more stories to tell about grief. And about forgiveness.
But for now, I can only apologize again for my unexpected retreat. And I thank you, over and over again, for your time, energy, and understanding.*
Kin 59: Blue Resonant Storm
I channel in order to catalyze
I seal the matrix of self-generation
With the resonant tone of attunement
I am guided by the power of magic.
Many scriptures tell us that the seed of innate or intrinsic knowing is planted within each human. This is based on the law of one; we are one being there is one creator, one mind and one soul.*
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Ajna Chakra (Gamma Plasma)
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Courtesy Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Mound A at Crystal River Archaeological State Park is seen here during the day. It is one of many Native American mounds at the site.
8 Things We Know (and Don’t) About Native American Mounds in Florida:
Unanswered questions remain about Native American mounds in Crystal River
ICMN spoke with archaeologist Gary Ellis, director emeritus of Gulf Archeology Research Institute, who often gives guided tours of the mounds at Crystal River Archaeological State Park.
“A lot is known about this site, but probably not as much as you’d like us to know and one of the reasons why is it’s always been treated as a special place,” he said. “There are people buried here and we need not to forget that. For that reason alone, the carefulness in the approach has almost foreclosed on any kind of large-scale work.”
That said, what do we know about the indigenous people who lived at and built the Native American mounds in what is now Crystal River, Florida?
They Were Talented Architects
The indigenous people living in the complex built various structures called midden mounds. They used layers of sand mixed with shell and living debris. Some may think this sounds like you’re living on garbage, Ellis said. “But that’s kind of a relative term isn’t it? If you actively lived in your yard for a couple hundred years sequentially, stuff begins to build up in the soil doesn’t it?”
To build higher, sand was borrowed from sections of the complex, where the land is still much lower than other areas. These depressed areas are visible at Mound H. Ellis noted that the shell in the mounds is primarily oyster. “There are some marsh clams in there and some mercenaria clams, maybe some small conks and wilk in there, but primarily it’s oyster shell and sand mixed in with burned bone and living debris,” he said.
In an attempt to paint a better picture of what life looked like when the Native American mounds were bustling with activity, Ellis said we were only standing on about one-third of what the original mound would have been. The mound would have been about 210 feet wide at the base with sharply tapered edges. When the Spanish and French first came to the area and saw the Native American mounds, Mound A would have been about 40 feet tall with a brightly painted 20-foot tall building on top of it.
“That’s a big piece of building, isn’t it? It was quite a prominent landmark on the coast… that would be quite an impression coming up and down the river,” Ellis said.
They Ate Well
“If you think you can starve to death out here, you’re wrong,” Ellis said. “They’re eating just about everything that’s obtainable. That’s from the river, the marshes, all the way out to the Gulf of Mexico off the oyster reefs, and all kinds of fish.”
Not only were they eating from the water, they had access to the inland forest and all the animals there as well. They weren’t just eating the oysters, they were using the shells for building as well.
“Oyster has good protein value in it and then you’ve got the side advantage of having the shell as a building matrix so it’s hard to go wrong,” Ellis said.
A hunter-gatherer lives in a society that forages for what they eat, which can mean finding and shucking oysters, picking berries, or hunting wild game. Those in an agricultural society grow their food.
As mentioned, the indigenous people who lived and built the Native American mounds at Crystal River ate everything they could find. Some of the shells were even used as building materials, but not all of them. Ellis said some they shucked and left where they gathered them, or at the “grocery store” as he called it.
“There are middens on the coast where there are very few tools and no living debris—it’s just piles of shells, so I suspect that they are doing some on-site shucking,” he said.
While the indigenous people who built the Native American mounds in Southeast Florida were a hunter-gatherer society, there is also evidence that they traded with faraway locations. Ellis said copper has been found that is likely from the Carolinas, crystals from Michigan and Canada that they made into plummets and weights, net sinkers and pendants. There is also evidence of mica at the site from Kentucky and Tennessee as well as large animal teeth from as far away as the Rocky Mountains.
“That material had to travel down through trade networks to be acquired and then buried with the dead,” Ellis said.
Shells from the Gulf of Mexico have also been found in the Ohio River Valley, where Ellis has also worked. “You’re getting this exchange of goods over long distances, likely by intermediary tribes that have trade routes or allow that trade to be conducted and that’s not only how material culture moves, but ideas as well,” he said.
They Buried Their Dead
While some of the Native American mounds at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park are domiciliary mounds, some are burial mounds. “The area is littered with burial mounds, so many of the everyday people were probably not buried here,” Ellis said. “The social elite or maybe important people in clans and lineages are likely buried here.”
He said those who are buried there are buried with “things that were important to those people in their lives or certainly in the community in their clan or their kin felt it would be important to attend the body after death.”
While archeology and research can tell us many things, there are many it can’t. Here are a few things we don’t know about the indigenous people who built the Native American mounds at Crystal River.
What They Called Themselves
One of the many questions remaining about the culture that built the Native American mounds is what they called themselves. There is no written record of the time, although, as Ellis pointed out, “some of the literature says this is the land of the fierce people.” He wonders if that can be trusted though. They may have been called that by another group that lived farther south and didn’t like those who lived in the Crystal River area.
When asked if the indigenous people who lived at these particular Native American mounds are relatives of the Seminole, Ellis said they are not.
“Unfortunately, we can’t ask these people directly, there are no direct descendants,” Ellis said. Though, as he noted “the Seminoles believe that they’re related, and in a general sense, they are.”
When and Why They Left the Native American Mounds Complex
The Indigenous Peoples who called what is now Crystal River home abandoned the area between 1200 and 1300 AD, but that date isn’t exact, and neither is the reason why. “There are movements of people and some suggestion that that is tied to changes in the climate,” Ellis said.
Those changes were felt all the way up the Mississippi River Valley, even in places like Cahokia, which was close to what is now St. Louis. Cahokia was “the largest metropolitan complex in North America, and that began to go into decline about 1250 AD. Their corn harvests weren’t coming in,” Ellis said. Though there is much debate among researchers about what happened at Cahokia.
What Does It All Mean?
“The takeaway from all of this is these were real people,” Ellis said. “They’re not here to represent themselves and we can’t take this too far because I don’t want to misrepresent the vibrancy of their culture. In the absence of color and in the absence of people conducting their daily lives in and around this community and this complex, it’s hard to fathom through the depths of time just how complex they were.”
“Imagine that [hunting and gathering] lifestyle—that you are continuously and energetically collecting. The surplussing capability of the region across the seasons fosters population growth, which required social controls and mechanisms for order and they were able to harness that social energy to build these things. You can’t think of anything other than ‘oh my goodness, what a culture this was, and we wish we knew more.’”*
By Leeanne Root • July 20, 2017
Kin 58: White Rhythmic Mirror
I organize in order to reflect
I seal the matrix of endlessness
With the rhythmic tone of equality
I am guided by my own power doubled
I am a galactic activation portal
What we call the superhuman is merely the synthesis of consciousness with nature.*
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Muladhara Chakra (Seli Plasma)