Manataka™ American Indian Council



November 2013


Manataka receives hundreds of letters each month. Space does not allow us to publish all letters but we make a concerted effort to print letters that are representative of a majority. Let us know if there is a topic you feel needs to be addressed.  The opinions expressed below and all information provided is for informational purposes only. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of the opinions express below and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Manataka does not necessarily endorse or support the opinions expressed below. 



Cowlitz Tribe of SW Washington

Dear Manataka:

My spiritual leader is Grandfather Roy I Wilson, Spiritual Leader for Life of the Cowlitz Tribe of SW Washington state. I will tell you a short story. Grandfather is now 87. As a young man he had vivid detailed visions of a medicine wheel. His people were not very interested as he began to teach it, because most NW Natives believed medicine wheels to be cultural heritage of only the plains tribes. So Grandfather wrote the book Medicine Wheels and continued to teach whoever showed up to learn. This lead him to Seattle urban Indians, then eventually to creating more than 50 clans mostly in Washington, embraced by white people, mixed blood people, and many natives who had not been raised connected to their heritage. All wanted to learn. Then something more amazing happened. Someone found a very ancient medicine wheel on a mountaintop on private land and knew to take Grandfather there. He then took some Cowlitz People and some Medicine Wheel People up that mountain. That wheel shows medicine wheels to be in the cultural tradition of many many more tribes than Plains Tribes! This story is not widely known even by NW Coastal Tribes. I am ridiculously happy to have been around when this was found. Feeling it is a small piece in the healing of the broken Native History. May there be much more healing! Aho! Regards to you, Margo Bear Woman, Otter Clan, Roy I Wilson's Medicine Wheel Tribe 

~ Margo Mason. CEO at Bread & Butter Inc. Washington




Massacre of The Wiyot Tribe

Dear Manataka:


From this very new reader of Smoke Signal News………… Not being one who joins or does rash things that often......Six days slowly perusing the October, 2013 issue created an instant urge to join two earth watch organizations and most certainly, Manataka Smoke Signal News.  The offering below responds to Smoke Signal’s invitation to comment on what has been of interest 1860 Eureka, California.  Massacre of The Wiyot as they slept. 


Thank you, Manataka, for helping to bring the stories of those who died to life as their stories are told to us.  Many visit Eureka unaware of the anguish suffered there and in other places.  I was one of those not aware.


We came into Eureka as a crew delivering the vessel to Seward, Alaska in the early 1980s.  Rounding Eureka harbor, we were astounded to see the Greenpeace vessel, I think it was the Rainbow Warrior, at anchor. 


We did not know the Wiyot People’s story at that time.  We now connect and become a part.  Later, on that same delivery trip, we saw the 1964 Good Friday earthquake in Alaska through eyes of an Inuit woman as we travelled together.  Housemother of the boys’ school, she shared memories of the day the waters of Resurrection Bay disappeared and that great, devastating tsunami hit.  And, what it was like when she was young, living in her village.  Her story became a part of us.


The Prayer shared in the October, 2013 Smoke Signal News.  This Prayer was given to us in Ojai, California."The Nest" of The Chumash,  cherished and saved for the day it would be needed.  As it was, the day we held a service in honor of my Father.


Thank you for bringing this Prayer for our use.


The Great Cherokee Nation in Texas, Mexico.  History of the passing of the great leader, Sequoyah and his burial place.  This saga feels very close to home because it is


Interesting article about DNA testing not including the DNA strain of the First Peoples.  exclusion of certain ancestral bloodlines as never having been present in our cultures is very important, makes it seem that one was never there.  This has been done in Guatemala where "they" say "these people" are not "real" Mayans. 


Reading part 1 of The Conscious Being under unexpected circumstances at home with friends last Sunday raised well, goosebumps.  Such a simple, welcome alternative.  One feels gentleness, love, seriously conscious and welcoming to other to other pertinent information authorship.   No jibber jabber.


Thank You for news of other worlds shared, Smoke Signal  ~Daphne Becker, Texas 




Wae Wae Non Ne Mot



Menominee Tribe - The Menominee Version of the 23rd Psalm


"The Creator above is the Great Spirit and the Great Mystery, His gifts are plentiful therefore you want not. He holds out a branch of love and protection and He draws you to where the ground is undisturbed, where the air is pure and the water is clear and clean enough to give life.  You walk, you breathe, you feed, for you are pleasured. The times when your heart is weak, your circle is out of balance, He lifts you up again and draws you to the good Menominee road, for He is strength and wisdom."


Have a wonderful new week my precious brothers and sisters...Be and blessed... With honor and  respect always... ~Blessings...Wandering Deer - forwarded by Gram Selma




Claiming Intellectual Property a Tough Debate for Indigenous Peoples


Dear Editor:


Indigenous intellectual property has over the years provoked a fierce debate between governments, first nation peoples and corporates about who should benefit most from the spoils of commercialized indigenous knowledge systems. As yet, the debate shows no signs of abating with a workable resolution for all.

Indigenous Peoples across the world have raised this issue again and again in several declarations that state a clear commitment to promote and protect indigenous knowledge systems from misappropriation and misuse.


Indigenous Peoples put forward the argument, amongst other key points, that knowledge of the use of certain plants for example have been developed over several generations and ask why should only the present generation benefit, they also question why some governments or corporates are reaping all the rewards of indigenous knowledge through patented products when the knowledge was born from the communities of Indigenous Peoples.


The difficulty in answering these questions, according to law experts, is that indigenous knowledge systems do not have a clearly devised timeline to the origin or source of the knowledge.


It still proves very difficult for proponents of indigenous intellectual property to trump corporates wanting to capitalize on indigenous knowledge systems, more especially within a western legal framework.


Apart from this legal hurdle, a second obstacle for some Indigenous Peoples is getting recognition of the concept of an indigenous knowledge system since they themselves are not recognized as Indigenous Peoples by their governments.


In South Africa, the trustee of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC) and the national Khoi San council Cecil le Fleur explains that the first nation peoples are referred to as traditional leaders and as such they cannot access the rights afforded them under the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which in article 11, addresses the rights of Indigenous Peoples to maintain and to further their own cultural practices and traditions, specifically their cultural and intellectual property.


One of South Africa’s most well known indigenous herbs exported abroad, is the famously soothing Rooibos tea, known commercially as red bush tea.


Cecil le Fleur explained that while Khoi and San people’s would like to see the recognition afforded them with regards to their knowledge systems he underscores the point that those knowledge systems, such as the broad use of indigenous herbs and plants, is for everyone.


“I don’t think we must have the attitude of owning the plant. It is to at least give recognition to people who used the plant for centuries. If they (corporates) make a lot of money from that plant and don’t plough back into first nation communities, then that is not fair. In a globalized world no-one can claim ownership of a plant nor land,” explained le Fleur.


Gino Cocchiaro is a lawyer with Natural Justice, a non-profit organization whose work is defined as the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity through the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.


He said that the argument for intellectual property rights being attached to Indigenous Peoples knowledge systems is not straightforward.


“With commonly held knowledge there may be difficulty in seeing through a successful patent claim. You can’t put an Intellectual Property claim over knowledge that is collectively held. How do you protect knowledge?”


Cocchiaro said that the challenge now was to come up with a new legal framework to support and protect Indigenous knowledge systems.


Indigenous Peoples argue that patents are limited in scope and do not recognize the fact that indigenous knowledge is collectively owned. Patents are commercially driven and have time frames that are not practical to indigenous knowledge systems.


Apart from these shortcomings, indigenous peoples can rarely afford to hire patent lawyers to fight on their behalf.


But there is another view on the issue of indigenous intellectual property rights that states that the issue will always remain on the margins, given the dominant system of knowledge production that mainly takes place in universities.


Historian Shamil Jeppe explains: “ Maybe it (indigenous knowledge systems) is impossible to recover under capitalism. It will always be a minority add-on.”


Jeppe asked: “When does something become indigenous? 50 years ago, 300 years ago? There’s nothing original that didn’t come from a seed elsewhere.”


As the debate rages on, it is clear that indigenous peoples are integral to the discussion. Given the history of persecution of Indigenous Peoples under colonialism, the fight to include indigenous peoples voices in the protection of indigenous knowledge systems is important and necessary to inform the way forward.  ~Linda Daniels



Why, and How, We Removed the Saltine Warrior

Dear Manataka Editor:

In the winter of 1977 I was a student from Akwesasne attending the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. I was planning to transfer back to the northeast and sought a school which I thought could serve as the basis for a radically new approach to aboriginal cultural preservation and the dissemination of indigenous knowledge, one which would become, in effect,  a national Native university.
After considering many schools from Cornell to Columbia, Colgate to Clarkson I believed (and still do) that Syracuse had the potential to create this research and learning center thereby elevating SU to international prominence.

I envisioned aboriginal scholars, administrators and students gathered together with their collegiate partners to create a curriculum which permeated all areas of the school while breaking free of the constraints of  the academic ghetto of "native studies".

We would offer formal instruction and advanced degrees in Native languages, music, art, engineering, biology, communications, astronomy, religion among other disciplines in a way no other institution had, or has, done. It would have SU the best place in the world to study indigenous knowledge while attracting thousands of students to central New York.

But how to get SU's attention? In August of that year I elected to enroll at Syracuse and found that the school had an identity problem. Not only was it in the academic shadow of nearby Cornell it had elected to exploit a prank, a lie, by promoting the "Saltine Warrior" as its mascot.

In the 1920's a few students claimed the remains of a Native man were uncovered during the construction of a building on campus. They decided to call this man the Saltine Warrior since Syracuse had, at one time, been the location of a large salt mining business. The "warrior" would later be named "Bill Orange" after the school's official color. The students later acknowledged it was all a joke but the Native image was not, at least for the Iroquois.

This stereotypical "Indian" was offensive in many ways with his warhoops, war dances, scalping motions and garish Plains Indian style costume; it gave SU a very bad reputation among perspective Native students. I asked then why would a university, a place of learning, elect to use such a racist image?

I decided this had to change so I went to visit Chancellor Melvin Eggers. He greeted me by saying "I have been waiting for you" and together we created a strategy to remove the Warrior. The chancellor endorsed the creation of Onkwehonweneha (the Way of the Human Beings) the most active Native student organization in SU's history.

We found there were 30 Native students at Syracuse, all struggling to pay tuition and meet their academic requirements but willing to take on this issue. Chancellor Eggers and I knew confrontation would not work so, with our group, we approached the Onondaga Nation Council and its chairperson the  Tadodaho Leon Shenandoah to help us persuade Lambda Chi fraternity (the sponsors of the warrior) to meet at the Nation's longhouse and work out a solution.

In an historic session (sadly never repeated anywhere in the ongoing mascot controversy) the Native students and the brothers at Lambda Chi were guided to a resolution by the chiefs and clanmothers of Onondaga using the traditional diplomatic techniques of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy.

We did not need to buy ads or sue anybody. We did not threaten or embarrass Andy Burns, the last "warrior" but sought o enlighten and reason while forging an alliance with Lambda Chi.

Our methods worked and by the spring of 1978 the Saltine Warrior was history.

Our plans to make SU into a world class indigenous knowledge center were obscured by the building of the dome and the inevitable departure of the Native students which meant we could not sustain the energy or enthusiasm beyond that singular issue.
Thirty six years later and I still believe Syracuse can become the hemispheric center for indigenous knowledge. With the appropriate allocation of resources, an aggressive recruitment campaign and the creation of a formal partnership with the Native nations of the northeast SU may yet rise to this opportunity.

The lessons of the Saltine Warrior can be, I am convinced, applied to the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves. Resolution based on reason using our traditional values and diplomatic techniques can change even the most adamant opponent. We need to ask Dan Snyder, the Redskins owner, to meet in a council at Onondaga to reason together and see how we can forge an agreement to remove this hurtful image, one based on honour, truth and plain common sense. ~by Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk.  ~
Doug George-Kanentiio is the husband of famous American Indian singer Joanne Shenandoah


Reconciliation - Indian Spirituality vs Christianity

Dear Manataka Editor:

First, let me thank you for your web site. The information there is very helpful if one wishes to understand his history and his life.


I am (mostly) Cherokee. So far, it has been impossible to make the "legal" connections to the nation (an Enid OK fire over 100 years ago). But as I have grown older, I have learned that the legal part isn't so important, and not needed for the ministry that I am called into. Whenever I meet a "medicine man," something interesting happens. He always asks me my tribe or nation, even though no references have been made.


I found your site in an attempt to understand better the animal spirits. I have long believed in them, and wondered what was mine. Things have happened to me, and my animal spirit was revealed to me very recently by a holy man. Then through a connected message from another, I learned my native name. (In Lakota, not Cherokee, though. Not that that matters.) And I learned my spiritual leadership role.

Though at this time, so far, I have not felt called to minister to native Americans. That role is my brother's, who was adopted as a baby. He is full-blood Sioux.

Anyway, the reason I am writing is to thank you. And I tried to send a thank you and comments to a young man named David T'soi Gitli Armstrong.
Reconciliation - Indian Spirituality vs Christianity  ( ~David Haggard

Great place where all creatures truly live together


Knowledge and wisdom, love and patience, and our spirit person will lead us always. We have been lied to and deceived by Greed and Money.  It will take a true awakening for the sheep-people to realize what is most important in life.  It is changing rapidity, freedom or debt slaves. My prayers are with them, but like all new beginnings there must be an end in order to start over.


Just think about when Columbus landed on the island of Santa Marie and was greeted by Tanio Indians. The Indians never envisioned they would be deceived and tortured.  Eventually all but a few perished by slavery and death just for gold. So where do we stand now?Are we the same as all others that have perished? Always the victor has written history in the form they want you to know, but those who know the truth, know their is another place we are destined to go from here, whereas those who deceive, will remain in Satan,s world forever. Let our Spirit guide us, for our journey has just begun. Keep focused and in tune, their are many buzzards circling over us and many eyes watching. God Bless

The place we are destined I have seen made aware, is a great place where all creatures, man and animals truly live together in paradise. I did say all sense the beginning of creation. ~Wilhelmina Walker



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