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Vivir es Increible

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Triqui/Trique Indian boys basketball team
Picture credit:  Unknown

Orlando was blessed to have many fine young athletes in town this week for a Basketball event, and one of the teams that made the news this morning on our local station, WESH TV was from Mexico.
Nothing new here, or was there?
This team of fairly small boys, as far as basketball players go, played without shoes.
But, this is not unusual for them, as they nearly always do so.

These boys come from one of Mexico’s poorest regions, a tiny place in the mountains of Oaxaca, that range from 4,000 to nearly 10,000 feet and the inhabitants are called the Trique/Triqui people, a blended group of Mixtec,   (place of cloud-people), who are known for their beautiful weavings.

This area and these people, are not new to me, as one of my favorite Anthropology Professors at CSUN, had related his summers there, for the past 20 plus years.
Every year, he would travel down to Oaxaca to spend a month with the people, then wrote and brought back what he learned about them to his students.

Years later, when I traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I felt that there were strong similarities between it and many places in Oaxaca.
They were both poverty stricken areas, that few outsiders came to and even fewer cared much about.

This young team makes news every time they play, mostly for their lack of shoes, but what people don’t understand is that their lack of shoes, are the least of their worries.
So many where they come from, are desperately poor, with food, shelter and personal safety at the top of their daily wants/needs list, and going without shoes, much lower on it.

Native or Indigenous Mexicans, are at a poverty level of about 80%, compared to the National level in the upper 20’s.

Many of these young players must walk two hours or more, on rough mountain roads just to get to their practices, and Basketball is about the only sport that can be played in such a difficult terrain.

For me personally, the hardest part of relaying this story to all of you, is in knowing that the country where these brave young players live, is in constant turmoil from outside political pressures.

A friend from school traveled down there years ago, quite concerned about the way the people were being treated and was never seen again.

“Accidents” can happen, to those who ask too many questions, or get too curious about local politics.

Just playing their games, must seem like great relief after enduring the conditions that surround them.

Whenever the team travels, they basically have become ambassadors for their people, and the state of Oaxaca, and Global generosity to them and their town, have followed them everywhere.

Their Head Coach Sergio Zuniga, was interviewed by WESH and his pride in their achievements was clearly evident as he spoke.

This week in Orlando, not only was the team gifted with shoes, so was their entire town.

Yes, back home things are very difficult, but as their Team jackets say, ” Vivir es Increible, life is incredible.”

Places to learn more:

Mexican youth basketball team plays shoeless in Orange County tournament

Hoop dreams of Mexico’s indigenous youth provide hope in ‘forgotten’ region

It’s Triqui to play around: Shoeless Mexican team plays exhibition match in LA

Youth Mexican Basketball Team Wins Big Playing Barefoot

Mexican Shoeless Basketball Champions Prove It’s About How You Play, Not What You Have

Trique People – Wikipedia

A History of the Triqui People

 

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Nurse Napping

MedicalServicesIndia1944
Nursing is not easy, you must be dedicated to serving.
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

A new friend told me about this story yesterday and I did not sleep much wondering why it had never made the news here?

This was not the kind of story, that could have been forgotten, at least not by me.

If this had happened in the United States, it would have been on every Channel for days on end, as is every other horrific story.

We would have seen it, all day, every day, night and day.

But, there has been nothing on our local News here about this.

So, while I was not sleeping last night and dwelling on this story, something occurred to me.

Could racism possibly have been involved here?

Because these Nurses were all Indian?

God, I truly hope not.

These innocent women were Nurse napped from a hospital in Iraq, it is said, about the beginning of July, yet even though I have multiple Google Alerts arriving in my email daily, geared to Global Culture and Events, this story never came up once, not once!

The 46 Indian Nurses were taken from a Hospital in Tikrit, (Saddam’s old home town) to Mosul by the ISIS.

They were returned recently, apparently unharmed, to an International Airport in Kochi, to the as expected, great relief of their families and friends.

The Nurses were joined on their return home flight,  with 137 Indian National’s who had also been held hostage by the terrorists.

There is some inconsistency in the length of their captivity, but sources say that the Nurses had apparently been held for anywhere from a week, up to a month.

Later, a second group of about 50 other Nurses, with the assistance of Iraqi authorities, were quietly evacuated from the danger or conflict zone.

They were taken to a safe location, over a land route, in small groups.

Once again, has this happened to a group of American Nurse’s  anywhere, it would have been covered by every News Media Agency, Globally.

Why was this group of Indian Nurses being kidnapped, not made public knowledge here?

As a former Nurse, I can only offer this to end an unnerving story.

Nurses do one thing very well, they take care of those who are sick and need help.

Shame on everyone in the News Media for not making this a Top Priority story, everywhere.

Healers who only help others, have got to be as important as the legions of criminals who now hold our Planet hostage.

This Nurse Napping should have been front page News all over America and the World.

 

Places to learn more:

Nurses Kidnapped By ISIS In Iraq’s Tikrit

Another batch of 50 nurses evacuated from Iraq

ISIS snatches Indian nurses, MEA claims they are safe

Nurses return home, joy erupts among family members 

Indian nurses who were kidnapped cross into Iraqi Kurdish region

 

 

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Ishi, the last Yahi

ishiwiki

Ishi, the last of his kind, the last Yahi.
All pictures are public domain

 

Many years ago, while going through a stack of newspapers that had been held for us while we had been away, I came across this story which was personally very close to my heart:

” Last of the Yahi Indians is finally coming home for proper burial”   by Michelle Locke.

It was a brief story about the man called Ishi, his life and death and his final return to California.

This latest chapter in the story of Ishi, touched me nearly as deeply as had the book and the movie about this remarkable man.

The movie, The Last of his Tribe, with Graham Greene as Ishi and Jon Voight as Professor Kroeber is quite compelling.

I highly recommend it and all of the books associated with Ishi’s  life.

Be prepared to learn the unpleasant facts about the treatment of our first people in this country.

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Ishi, the last Yahi.

Ishi’s voice was  recorded on wax cylinders   by Professor Kroeber

and can be heard at the Museum of Natural History in Santa Barbara.

If you are ever near this area, the chance to hear this recording will make your visit unforgettable.

Even though it is quite old and not modern technology, Ishi’s heart and soul come through loud and clear.

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Ishi with Dr. Kroeber in 1911

 

Ishi  was to many of us, a last, sad look at the kind of men who had once inhabited this country freely;

a proud, defiant man whose life was tragically changed by those who came to steal his land in search of gold.

When Ishi wandered out of the woods in 1911 in search of food, he was captured by ones who would take him to Alfred Kroeber, the Professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley in California.

This historical meeting and the events that followed, would change both of their lives forever.

ishisit

Ishi before 1916

 

You may learn more about Ishi at these Berkeley web sites:

 Introduction to the man called Ishi

The Yana and the Yahi

 Ishi before the Museum

 Ishi at the Musuem

A UCSF web site:

Ishi: The Last Yahi

 

The brief time that these two men spent together, before Ishi’s untimely death, presumably due to consumption, or as we now know it, tuberculosis, would leave a legacy for those who would study California Natives and Anthropology to study and decipher for many years to come.

Sadly, after his death in 1916, Ishi was subjected to an autopsy, an act that he reviled due to his spiritual beliefs and had made quite clear to those around him, that he never wanted performed on him.

However, in the absence of his friend and mentor, Professor Kroeber, the hideous autopsy was performed  and Ishi’s brain was removed and sent away.

After many years and much searching, Ishi’s brain was recently discovered in a jar in the Smithsonian, where many other American Native remains are kept as well.

Their defense for this abhorrent, massive bone and tissue collection, was to assure a representative warehouse from a wide variety of species of animals?

Human and otherwise?

Now, Ishi’s brain has made the long trip back to Northern California, where it will be buried in  a secret place, along with his cremated remains.

At last Ishi has come home and hopefully will be allowed to walk in peace once again with his family and ancestors, unmolested by curious outsiders.

The final meaning and full worth of this man’s life and tragic death will be left for the ages to determine.

 Peace Ishi

 

 

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Partners Against the Pipeline!

Reject-and-Protect

Gary Dorr – Nez Perce and Nebraska rancher Ben Gotschall.
Photo credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska

 

This posting today may seem a bit off topic, but wait, it really is not.

It will also be posted to both of my Blogs,  as it concerns both people and animals!

When was the last time that Cowboys and Indians found an Issue that they could agree upon in this Country?

Hmmm.

Can’t seem to recall, can you?

Well an Issue that is critical to both sides right now,  saving their land and water,  has these unlikely partners  joining forces for a very important Weeklong Event called the:    Reject and Protect Campaign.

This page says it all:   Call to Action

The group is called the Cowboy and Indian Alliance from Nebraska and they have organized what will be a week of events from April 22-27, that will culminate in Washington, D.C.

And if you are now asking what the connection is to this Blog about Wildlife,  oh, it is only life, simply put, ALL LIFE, in these affected areas,  is depending on what happens with the dreaded Keystone Pipeline.

If this continually failing, leaking, rupturing, disastrous mess called the Keystone Pipeline is allowed to run through this country unimpeded,  it will, when it fails, as is has repeatedly done throughout its history, kill every living thing in its path, Human, plant and animal alike, they will all succumb to the deadly toxins that this pipeline will carry across our country.

This is a monumental, devastating decision that is about to be made and the wrong one spells death for millions.

We must never forget what lies directly under this pipeline on its journey,  the Ogallala Aquifer  and the life-giving water it brings to millions of those in the affected states.

Once water is contaminated, it’s all over.

How long can you politicians, masquerading as Humans, making these life altering decisions, drink sand?

Oh, I forgot, the people in Washington, D.C.  making these critical decisions, will never have to worry about having  clean water, to drink, they can always buy it in bottles, as they are quite well compensated for their few days annually of so-called work!

But for the millions of Indigenous People and other just average Americans, who are now living in the states where this pipeline will run, this may,  or may not be an option.

Many of them, especially on Reservations, are already living at or below the poverty level and will not have the extra money to run to the store and buy bottled water, when theirs becomes poisoned with  dirty tar sands crude oil.

Can we now talk about the Wildlife that will be affected by all of this?

The beautiful Sandhills of Central Nebraska,   a place I have been to many times,  are  home to my beloved Sandhill Cranes  by the millions,  as well as countless other threatened Wild animals.

The numbers that will die if this pipeline is put in, will be in the millions, think BP and the Gulf!

Now these Wild animals and the many poor Native people and others, who will be devastated by their decision,  are not at the top of any politicians list in Washington, I can  promise you.

Why you ask?

Because, Wildlife do not vote, or write big campaign checks, so whether they live or die is not a high priority to Politicians.

And Native Americans will never support any candidate or politician, who poisons the very  lifeblood of their people,  the Ogallala Aquifer.

If you are able, perhaps you might join them in April in their desperate efforts to stop this Environmental train-wreck,  known as the Keystone Pipeline.

 

Here are a few places to learn more:

Keystone XL pipeline may threaten Aquifer

3 Nebraska Senators sign letter urging rejection of Keystone

Keystone XL opponents express concerns

 

 

 

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Rape on the Reservations

UNiTE_Poster

Picture credit: The United Nations End Violence Against Women Campaign

 

As many of you know, my partner for the past 15 years is Walkingfox, who is a Mohegan from Connecticut.

This morning while posting his weekly Blog on his website, the story left me both sad and disgusted.

It was about the many rapes and lack of punishment of Native American Women on Reservations.

Here are statistics from the National Native American Bar Association of some very disturbing numbers for Crimes committed against Native Women:    Violence Against Native Women

So, as this is still Women’s History month, I would like to offer you more about this very serious, ongoing problem that is happening to so many Women, but is out of the mainstream American News and you may not know anything about it at all.

Indeed, these are the kinds of stories that will most likely not ever be shown on your, local news, unless you live on a Reservation.

If these hideous crimes were being committed in other Countries, we would,  as a Nation,  be filled with rage, up in arms, you only need recall when a woman  in India was gang raped on a Bus last year,  there was an instant rush, an avalanche of rage here over this brutal rape.

So, where is the rage for Native Women in this Country?

Kathryn Rice, of the Pawnee Nation,  who spoke recently at UCA about Sex Crimes Against Native American Women in America,  stated that Native Women living on Reservations face these brutal statistics:
one in three will be raped in their lifetime.”

And, if you are wondering how that number compares with Non Native Women, their number is, 1 in 6.

Another stunning quote from the  recent speech by Kathryn Rice:
“Indian women are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from sexual abuse than any minority group. ”

If you are interested, here are some numbers for Global rape statistics:  Rape Statistics

You will notice, that Native American Women were not included on this website page, and  yes I sent them off a little note asking them why?

So, now for some conclusions.

After reading countless stories, one particular fact was often repeated, the victims were usually raped by off Reservation people, making the chance of any conviction all but impossible, as only the  US Government can prosecute the criminal.

This well-known fact may be the primary reason so many non natives commit this crime, they know full well, that they will never be put in jail or brought to justice.

For entirely too long in this Country,  Native Women had been considered easy targets of countless, brutal, violent  crimes, primarily because of the way our History has presented and demeaned them.

The ugly past of this Country, has kept Native Women fighting to retain their dignity,  while a living in a world frequently controlled by Non Natives who do not respect them and take their anger out on them with little fear of reprisal, because they can.

Another often repeated term was,  ” An epidemic of sexual violence.”

Well, if this was a viral epidemic, immediate and definite steps would be taken by all affected parties, right?

So then, what is the answer for the ugly crime of  ” Sexual Violence “ against Native Women?

How can Native Women protect themselves and stop this cycle of brutality, this madness?

In my opinion, changing the current  laws must be the first step to stopping this and it is beginning already with the recent new words written into the Violence Against Women Act  (VAWA).

But the law may need to be tweaked again, with even stronger language this time,  further applying to all Reservations and their Tribal Rights and Responsibilities, when it comes to contending with violence against their women and what they can legally do about it.

But it must continue right on to the Reservations as well. Women must collectively have open discussions about what they are going to do for themselves to change this.

All over the world, Indigenous Women are now learning how to demonstrate that they are quite capable of forming all kinds of groups to address problems for a myriad of other cultural Issues,  the time has come and even passed, for rape to be one of them.

When women join together, when they act and speak with one voice, they can conquer any obstacle, I know how strong they/we are.

Now it is time for women to let the rest of the World know too.

 

Here are some places to learn more:

Native American Women and Violence

Speaker Sheds Light On Sex Crimes

Sexual Violence Scars Native American women

For Native American Women, Scourge of Rape, Rare Justice

Rape on Native American Reservations

Rape Cases On Indian Lands Go Uninvestigated

Native American Women and Rape –  An Escalating Crisis on Tribal Lands

 

 

 

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Crispus Attucks, Walkingfox and me, the connection~

Crispus_Attucks

Crispus Attucks  –   “The first to defy, the first to die”
The Poem by Irish Poet John Boyle O’Reilly
Picture credit: Public Domain

 

Crispus Attucks was the first to die,  along with four others, in the Boston Massacre of 1770, which became the impetus for the American Revolutionary War.

He was born in 1723 in Framingham, Massachusetts and died on March 5, 1770 in Boston.

Although he was born a slave, he later escaped, and as a runaway slave he would become a whaler for many years, as well as a rope maker.

Standing at  6′ 2 “,  Crispus was strong and muscular and a good fit to become a whaler.

His father was Prince Yonger,  who was born in Africa and later brought to America as a slave.

His mother Nancy Attucks,  was a Natick Indian from Massachusetts,  who was also forced into slavery, she was descended from John Attucks, of Massachusetts,  who was hanged during  King Philip’s War.

Crispus had a sister named Phebe and perhaps also a brother.

This was all happening at  the beginning of the American  Revolutionary War.

” Nancy Attucks, was an Indian and possible descendant of John Attucks, a member of the Natick Indian tribe. John Attucks was executed for treason in 1676 during the King Philip War.
The word “attuck” in the Natick language means deer.”    from African-American Registry

On that eventful day in March of 1770, Attucks was at the front of a large group of Rebels, which resulted in a confrontation with British troops, that ended with him being killed along with four others.

John Adams, who would later become our second President,  would defend the soldiers who killed him, they were acquitted. This event would later be called the Boston Massacre by John’s cousin Samuel Adams.

This popular phrase was often heard after the trial, “Even a Red Coat can get a fair trial”

Attucks is buried in the Granary Burial Ground in Boston, a precedent set by him being buried with white men.

A Monument to Honor him, was erected in 1888 and stands in the Boston Common.

My vague connection to this man is:

After leaving LA and going to Connecticut to Walkingfox’s home to begin a new life, I found that he already had a wide circle of friends, from every state and every Nation in New England and these places, these names, these people, would all soon become quite familiar and important to me.

We have been to every state in New England as Walkingfox attempted to teach me about his people and their History, one of those trips was to Plymouth for  the Annual day of Mourning or as it is known in the non Native world, Thanksgiving.

We made two trips up to Plymouth for this event, before moving south to Florida. These were wonderful chances to be with others who also came to remember the History of this place. Warm people, warm memories.

plymouth1        sachem5

Left, Walkingfox at Plymouth Rock Monument and Right,  Wampanoag Moonanum James of UAINE

On that emotional day, we stood with others at the place where many captured Native  prisoners had been executed and their heads hung on posts,  in the center of the town. It was a very somber, sad day for all who stood in the frigid cold and prayed for those who had died there so long ago during the King Philip’s War.

firewomanwf       renatowalkingfox

Left, Firewoman was a Wampanoag and Right, Renato is Natick, both were very dear to us.

We have friends of the Natick and Wampanoag Nations that are referred to in this story
about Crispus Attucks, so as you can see, telling it and sharing it is all quite personal.

*One other personal footnote:
When I attended Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, our long time, biggest rival in Basketball,  was always Attucks High School, an all African-American school known for having the best players in our state and they nearly always beat us and made the state finals.*

 

These are some excellent places to learn more about this most special man:

African-American Registry

The Grio: Remembering Crispus Attucks

PBS:  Crispus Attucks

The Murder Of Crispus Attucks

Short and sweet, just the facts

Crispus Attucks Museum

 

 

 

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