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Monday, November 12, 2018

If You Read Nothing Else, Read These Two.

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of Settler Privilege
Peggy McIntosh first popularized the concept of white privilege in her now-classic 1989 essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” The impact of her essay was due at least in part to its clarity and readability; it broke down into a list of easy to understand ideas why white people have unearned advantages in society based on their skin color. Not that it was necessarily easy for white people to accept that they are in fact “more equal” than others, but the essay opened up a conversation that has gained serious traction in our social discourse, especially now when racism is on full, unobstructed display in this Trumpian moment.   

People who do not have ancestral connections to Native communities are all either settlers or immigrants. People with ambiguous “Native ancestry,” like Elizabeth Warren, are so disconnected from whatever Native roots they may have had that they can no longer be considered Native. Settlers are people whose ancestors who came to acquire recently dispossessed Indian lands, such as recipients of the homesteads of the nineteenth century and earlier land speculators. Immigrants are people who came later to cash in on the benefits of American citizenship that didn’t necessarily include land (but might have if they came with enough money to invest in American land). Most are settlers (also “colonizers”) or immigrants by choice, with the exception of Blacks who are descended from slaves who were settled here without their consent.

Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in Schools
Sample Letters to Send to your Child’s School
Resources for Educators and Families to Teach about Thanksgiving & Native Peoples in a Socially Responsible Way
Children’s Books about Native Peoples, Cultures, and Traditions

Three New DNA Studies Are Shaking Up the History of Humans in the Americas

“That’s something we’ve suspected due to the archaeological findings, but it’s fascinating to have it confirmed by the genetics,” said Meltzer in a statement. “These findings imply that the first peoples were highly skilled at moving rapidly across an utterly unfamiliar and empty landscape. They had a whole continent to themselves and they were travelling great distances at breathtaking speed.”

It’s highly unlikely that this population sailed from Australia or Indonesia to South America. Rather, this group likely trekked northward from their point of origin, venturing through China and Siberia. This population likely didn’t spend too much time in North America, eventually finding their way into South America, while leaving no genetic trace of their journey—aside from this lone specimen in Lagoa Santa. Meltzer and Willerslev don’t know if this population arrived before or after the ancestors of Native Americans. This discovery now presents a very intriguing mystery, because this group could conceivably be the first humans to reach South America.

This natural mummy was discovered in 1940 in Nevada’s Great Basin Desert, and scientists have struggled to understand its origin. The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, a group of Native Americans living in Nevada near Spirit Cave, said the remains belong to their ancestors; accordingly, they asked for possession of the specimen under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. This request was denied as the origin of the Spirit Cave Mummy was disputed, leading to a 20-year legal battle. The situation changed two years ago when the tribe allowed Willerslev to conduct a DNA analysis on the specimen. His analysis showed that the skeleton is indeed related to the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, quashing a longstanding theory that a group of Paleoamericans existed in North America prior to Native Americans.

“It tells us that the peopling of Central and South America not only was fast but also it was accompanied by multiple waves, some of which disappeared and some others which left a strong genetic impact all the way until today.”

Ideally, the researchers would like to find DNA older than 11,000 years, and also acquire DNA from regions in northern South America and the Caribbean, which is absent in this study. The researchers aren’t sure how individuals in these regions are related to the ones analyzed in the new study.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Great Article About Merrimack Valley History

Six hundred years ago, there were no such things as “New Hampshire,” “Massachusetts” or the “Merrimack Valley.” There was only Wobanaki, or “Dawnland.” The People who lived here were known as the Alnobak, or “People of the Dawn.” We now call them the Abenaki. Who are these Native People and how did they live before the arrival of the Europeans?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Peter Pan

I would say that my position is that the film and play version of Peter Pan is that represents the racist past and ongoing oppression of indigenous people and I do not support it's production. It has done more damage to the image, history, and culture of indigenous people than almost anything else as it is the one single memory almost everyone has of Native Americans. Simply portraying a real group of people as part of a "fantasy world" makes our real culture invisible, keeps us stuck in the past, and puts us up against pretend, imaginary characters, instead of the living, breathing people we are.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Origins and genetic legacies of the Caribbean

Taino Ancient DNA has revolutionized the field of archaeology, but in the Caribbean and other tropical regions of the world, the work has been hampered by poor DNA preservation. We present an ancient human genome from the Caribbean and use it to shed light on the early peopling of the islands. We demonstrate that the ancestors of the so-called “Taino” who inhabited large parts of the Caribbean in pre-Columbian times originated in northern South America, and we find evidence that they had a comparatively large effective population size. We also show that the native components in some modern Caribbean genomes are closely related to the ancient Taino, suggesting that indigenous ancestry in the region has survived through the present day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

5th Annual March Against Genocide - Genocide Awareness Month

Here is a nice summary of some of the speakers comments from Sundays Genocide Awareness March.

Below is the transcript of what I said (it is also on the YouTube link)

Thank you all for coming out. So much of what the previous speakers have said ring true for the indigenous people of North and South America. I am a testament to the survival of 500 years of genocide on this land that many of us have benefited from. I wanted to dedicate my talk today to the ancestors because if they hadn’t survived, I wouldn’t be here today.

And, when we speak our language, even if only one word, even if it’s not perfect, our ancestors hear us.

Good day sisters and brothers. My ancestral linage is Arawak from the island that we called Yurumein and my name is Claudia Fox Tree. I am happy to be there and I said this 4 times to honor the four directions. I offer my deep appreciation to the celestial cosmos (the universe). I offer deep appreciation to the moon. I offer deep appreciation to the earth mother (who is our existence). I offer deep appreciation to the air (the lady which gives breath from the center – sometimes she gets made and gets known as the hurricane). I offer deep appreciation to fire. Water is life (it has sacred breath)

I’m gonna be speaking on my own experiences but also the experience of people who are like me. Who share the same historical trauma and struggle of being indigenous people whose ancestors first figured out what they could eat on this land, what they could use for homes on this land, and for clothing on this land, and who held the bones of every single one of our ancestors.

It is important to recognize that this land we are standing on is indigenous land. The Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and other Massachusetts nations first walked, lived, and named everything on this land that they called, “Shawmut,” and we call, “Boston.” While my nation, the Arawak, isn’t not from here, I have been embraced by the local indigenous people and we have a shared history and culture as “first contact” experiences.

I wanted to… I’m so glad that you did the Pastor’s (Martin Niemöller) piece because I was thinking of that as I was preparing my notes for today and how is it reflective of indigenous people. And so, here it is.

First they took our land… Then they took our bodies… to work their plantations and pan for gold. Then they took our food source… retooling the land for the invasive plants/animals. Later, slaughtering the buffalo. Then they took our religion… and forced Christianity on us. Then they took our children… until 1978, and now our children continue to be taken and put into foster care.  Then they took our language… by not allowing us to speak it. Then they took our lives… The term “Final Solution” was not coined by the Nazis, it was the Indian Affairs Superintendent, Duncan Campbell Scott from Canada. Then they took our women… who are raped, murdered, and disappearing at alarming rates. They are murdered over 10X the national average and raped at 2 1/2 times the average. Then they took our image… for sports team names, for butter and milk products, to sell cornstarch, and so much more. Then they took the rest of our culture… by appropriating parts of our language and pieces of our culture, our words are no longer associated with their original meanings – think of these words: Winnebago, Sequoyah, Pontiac, and Apache. By taking our clothing and using it for costumes on Halloween, we become a “single story” via a single image. By taking our headdresses, our own warriors are mocked after earning each feather. That would be like taking the medals that service men win/are awarded and wearing them as a costume. I wear my regalia today as a visual representation that we are not one single story, that we have a lot of diversity among all of the nations that are represented in the indigenous Americas.

What they couldn’t take by physical and cultural genocide, they took by paper genocide. For example, in the Caribbean, the first census that was taken had the category of “Indian,” the next census only had “mulatto.”

BUT WE HAVE SURVIVED, even though… 90% of all manuscripts written about Native people are authored by non-Native writers. Our schools teach almost nothing about treaties, land rights, and water rights. There is nothing about the fact that tribes and nations are still fighting to be recognized and determine sovereignty. Only 67% of mixed blood multiracial Native Americans finished high school, compared to the national average of 80%. Indigenous youth have a suicide rate 3x that of their peers (males are 8x greater). Indigenous people face issues of mass incarceration and policing and are the MOST likely minority to be killed by police per capita. The federal government is still stripping Indigenous people of their land. Exploitation of natural resources threatens not only Indigenous communities, but all of us. Indigenous patients receive inadequate health care. We continue to protest pipelines running across the land, protect national parks, and fight for enforcement of treaty rights.

But we are taking action… Reclaiming our history, people, and culture. Reclaiming our images through our own artists. Resisting and being noticed, like at Standing Rock. Teaching our culture to the next generation. Staying active on social media and participating in indigenous/tribal organizations. And relearning our native languages.

And, we can’t do it alone. We need the help of our allies… If you have a town that has an indigenous Native American mascot, say something. If you play against “colonials,” that’s another team, then you celebrate the destruction of our culture. Tell five people, today before you forget, that you care how damaging racist mascots and how they’re affecting indigenous populations.  If your alma mater has a mascot, write a letter. Tell them you will not make any contributions until they change their mascot. Instead donate to an organization such as the National Congress of American Indians. Or, join MCNAA, the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness.

With your help, we can help the tribes fighting to be recognized in today’s battles for land rights, water rights, and against stereotyping.

Hahom, Seneko kakona
Thank you, abundant blessings.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Medicinal Plants


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ice Age Baby Skeleton Rewrites History of the First Native Americans

Her genome revealed that she belonged to a previously unrecognized and distinct Native American population, which the study authors call the Ancient Beringians. In a paper released Wednesday, scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Copenhagen explain that her genes are evidence that the Ancient Beringians came first: They were the initial offshoot of the ancestral population that led to the other Northern and Southern Native American groups historians already know about.

According to the team behind this study, North America was first settled by this shared, founding population, which then gradually split into the different sub-groups.

This finding helps clarify when the two separate branches of Northern and Southern Native Americans split from each other. Previously, scientists debated whether that divide happened after people migrated from Asia to Alaska, or whether genomically different groups from Asia made the cross-continental journey separately. Comparing the genome of the Sunrise Child-girl to the genomes of present-day Native American populations, the scientists found that the Ancient Beringians became isolated from the common ancestral population 20,000 years ago.

That time period comes before the split that led to the Northern and Southern groups, which occurred between 17,000 and 14,000 years ago. This suggests that there was likely just one wave of migration into the Americas.

Archaeological evidence supports the idea that humans lived in the Americas south of the continental ice sheets as early as 14,600 years ago, but the overall timeline of how and when the peopling of the Americas occurred has been clouded with discrepancies.

This new study indicates that the founding population of Native Americans diverged from the ancestral Asian group in northeast Asia 36,000 years ago during the Late Pleistocene era and migrated via the Beringia land bridge connecting northeast Asia to northwestern North America. In that region, harsh weather and glacial barriers kept some of the populations — like the Ancient Beringians — in one place for extended periods of time. The scientists behind this study believe that the split between the North and South Native Americans only happened after some of their ancestors were able to pass through the thawing, giant glaciers that covered Canada and parts of the northern United States.