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Category Archives: Navajo

The Radium Girls

Curie_and_radium_by_Castaigne

Marie and Pierre Curie experimenting with radium, a drawing by: André Castaigne
This drawing is said to be considered: Public Domain

 

A good friend on Facebook alerted me to this vital information this morning and because it has been an important part of my past, I felt compelled to share it here.

This ugly story is about yet another way that Humans have caused mortal harm often, with little concern, to their fellow Humans.

Years ago, we had Native Friends in the East who had developed severe physical afflictions from growing up in Arizona during the time when Uranium mining  was being  done with little regard to the effect it would have on Humans, primarily the Native people who lived near the mining areas there.

This was not the only instance of US mining processes harming Native people, there were many others, all just as deadly.

From the information gleaned from my searches this morning, it seems that we have a lengthy history in this country of deliberate neglect, and willful intent to harm others on a regular basis and shamefully for profit.

This is the story of the women, most of who worked in the Eastern United States, New Jersey to be exact, in factories making products often for the US Government, that would in a very short time and after great suffering on their part, end their lives.

They, without their consent or knowledge, were being poisoned by radiation from Radium.

At this time in our early US history, many people freely used, or worked with and handled, this what is now known to be deadly substance.

Even Marie Curie the renowned Polish Scientist, who won two Nobel Prizes, one in Chemistry and one in Physics, was not exempt from their lethal effects.

She was not only the first woman to win one, but she was also the only woman to win two!

After a lifetime of one brilliant accomplishment after another, sadly, her work with this very dangerous substance, Radium, would eventually cause her death.

Her development of  aplastic anemia was said to be linked to  her bad  habit of carrying toxic, radioactive isotope test tubes in her lab coat pockets.

Tragically, Madame Curie, like the other Radium Girls, would in the end, succumb to the very evil that she had helped to discover.

 

Places to learn more:

‘Radium Girls’ Remembered for Role in Shaping US Labor Law

Marie Curie

Uranium mining in Arizona

Mae Keane, One Of The Last ‘Radium Girls,’ Dies At 107

Medicine: Radium Women

The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls and the Generation that brushed its Teeth with Radioactive Toothpaste

U tube video – Radium City

Radium Girls

 

 

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The Last Code Talker

Navajo-code-Talkers
Navajo Code Talkers Henry Bake and George Kirk, 12/1943 (ARC 593415)

 

93 year old Chester Nez died recently in Albuquerque,  New Mexico and as the final living member of an elite, nearly mystical group of 29 Navajo men who played a vital role in the War, he and the others will always be remembered for what they did for this Country.

They were the original Navajo Code Talkers

Many were skeptical in the beginning that this group could not, or would not succeed in their mission.

But as was soon to be learned, the Code Talkers not only were a tremendous success, they changed the course of the war.

They developed a Native language for coded messages that was so secret, it was only known by just a few.

“The name code talkers is strongly associated with bilingual Navajo speakers specially recruited during World War II by the Marines to serve in their standard communications units in the Pacific Theater. Code talking, however, was pioneered by Cherokee and Choctaw Indians during World War I.”  —–  Wikipedia

“The code talkers received no recognition until the declassification of the operation in 1968”  —–   Wikipedia

The Japanese were simply never able to crack their code, which crippled their efforts in the War.

This impenetrable code, was simply the basic language that these men and their people spoke, but very few off of the Reservation did, which was why it was such a success.

This turned out to be one of the greatest War time secret weapons,  that our US  Military has likely ever developed.

Several hundred more Navajo Code Talkers were eventually added to the original 29 and there were also Code Talkers from other Native Nations as well.

Americans and other countries who were protected by our military, owe each of these brave Native men a huge debt of gratitude, along with every single member of the combined services who fought and died during this time.

The 2002 film meant to honor these men,  Windtalkers,  was fairly accurate, about 78%  according to Nez.

The Original group of 29 did not receive their  Congressional Gold Medal  until 2001, but by then, nearly all of them were already gone.

Only five were still alive and only four attended the ceremony.

The groups that followed the Original 29,  were given Silver Medals  for their Service.

Chester was scheduled to be at a book event in just a few days to join and speak with Award winning author Judith Avila, who has written about and studied the Code Talkers.

He will most definitely be there with her in spirit.

***Regretfully, I was unable to find any public domain pictures of Chester, but you will see him in many of the links that are shown below.***

Navajo-swearing-in
First 29 Navajo U.S. Marine Corps code-talker recruits being sworn in at Fort Wingate, NM. (ARC 295175)

 

Places to learn more:

Unbreakable: Remembering the Code Talkers

Navajo Code Talkers: the soldiers that ended the War

The Story of the Code Talkers

Chester Nez, last of the World War II Navajo ‘code talkers,’ dead at 93

‘He loved his culture, and his country.’ Last original Navajo Code Talker dies

Chester Nez, last of original Navajo code talkers of World War II, dies

The last of the Navajo Code Talkers

 

 

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Carlilse

pray3         pray4
Walkingfox offering a prayer after we learned that the children were not there.

 

Recently a friend suggested that I write about our experiences at this place of extreme misery, for so many Native American children in this Country.

In 1999, Walkingfox and I took a very long journey from Los Angeles where I lived,  to Connecticut where he lived.

This would have ordinarily been a four,  to five day trip, but not in this case.

I had plans for this adventure,  that as it began, he was completely unaware of.

You see, I had been to Reservations and places of historical importance for Native people in the West many times and I wanted to share these places and their stories with him.

He had never been to any of the places where we stopped and it was the most memorable trip of either of our lives.

We took our time and never went more than a hundred or so miles a day, it ended up being a thirteen  day trip~

There was just always something to explore and learn about when it came to Native people and culture.

One of our first stops was at the Hopi and Navajo Reservations in Nevada  and along the way, of course I had to make sure that he saw and experienced Pine Ridge and Wounded Knee in South Dakota, first hand.

The two places are so rich in history for the Lakota people and my own trips there had been some of the best of my life to that point.

As the miles and days went by,  we made many stops and learned and saw so much, but the last stop we made before heading into Connecticut,  would prove to be the one that changed both of our lives forever.

I had read about a place in Pennsylvania, a school, where Indian children from all over the country were sent to become civilized, their word, not mine.

It was called the Carlisle Indian School.

Many of these children had been taken forcibly from their parents in the West, but not all.

These young innocents, would have their physical appearances completely made over to appear to be ” white. “

They were forbidden to use their own language or practice their culture and were punished when they did.

Carlisle soon became known as a place of horror for Native children.

I was adamant about taking him there on this trip, so that we could experience it together.

We finally found the school and began the day for personal reasons at the Cemetery.

Walkingfox got out of the car and started walking slowly all around this sad place, stopping and saying prayers as he went and telling me what he was doing along the way.

There were many rows of graves and head stones, reading them was heartbreaking, as their ages ranged from only  just a few days, up to about twelve years old.

It was the saddest place that either of us had ever been to.

When he appeared to be finished, he turned and looked at me and his face told me something was wrong.

I asked what and he said, ” they are not here.”

I said, ” who? “

He replied, ”  the children, they are not here.”

I was not sure what to say in response to that, so we got back in the car and drove on.

A few minutes later,  we came to the Fire Station and  we went inside.

A very nice man came over and they began talking.

He told the man what he had already said to me.

The man gave him a look,  that I will never forget.

I got closer so I could hear what he said, ” how could you know that?”

” You are right,”  he said,  ” they are not there.”

Neither of us was prepared for what he said next.

” They are buried under the football stadium.”

They talked for a while longer, then we got back in the car and drove to the stadium.

When we got there, once again,  he got out of the car and began praying for the children who had died.

But, again that look.

” Now what, “  I said?

He said once more, ” they are not here.”

We walked all the way around the stadium and finally, he got another look on his face, a better one.

He smiled, and said, ” they are here.”

I felt sick now, but he seemed to be better.

You see, we were standing at the public bathrooms and it seems that the children were there, buried right at the bathrooms.

Nothing after that day,  would ever hurt either of us more.

No matter where we went, or what we saw, this had been the worst.

 

 

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Native American Food

cornvarieties   Beans   squash

                     Corn                                                 Beans                                            Squash

(Beans from Veg Kitchen, Squash from California Condor)

For many Indigenous People in the Americas, this triad is called the Three Sisters:

Corn, or Maize, Beans and Squash.

Although this food trinity has a variety of names among Native People, these three staples remain the heart of

most Indigenous diets.

An interesting fact about this Food Trio is that they are all interdependent on one another.

Beans grow up the Corn stalks and add the nutrients (Nitrogen) to the soil that the others need to grow.

Squash is planted in between them to keep weeds out.

All three of these foods originally came from the Indigenous People of Mexico, Central and South America,

then slowly made their way North to our Native People.

A press release announcing recent winners from the Kellogg Foundation:

First Nations Awards $375,000 to 10 Native Food-System Projects

A new page about what makes us who we are:

Native Health Issues

A Brief History of American Native Food

American Natives were reasonably healthy before the European Invasions.

They lived on the land and in some areas cultivated rich soils and grew crops.

For the Bison hunting Nations that were always on the move, their diets were mixtures of the meat that they

hunted and the plants, berries and fruits that were found everywhere that they went.

This country was a bountiful place hundreds of years ago and Native people survived quite nicely.

After the Invasions, everything changed and none of it was good for Natives.

Those who were sent to Reservations starved many times.

Food meant for them often ended up in the hands of unscrupulous agents, who dispersed the supplies to

themselves, their families and friends.

Or just outright sold it for profit.

The Native people in the East were the first to be affected by the European outsiders and their gluttony.

The vast natural and developed Native food supplies were quickly devoured by the new people.

Although saved from starvation by the generosity of Natives, these greedy ones were convinced that this

wondrous new land was theirs to take and use as they pleased, calling it their Manifest Destiny.

When the food supplies in the East began running out, the invaders started moving West.

All across the country, the long Wagon Trains of Pioneers wiped out the natural food sources along the way.

Like Locust, they decimated everything in their path.

As for farming among Native Nations, it became quite difficult to grow or hunt just ahead of oncoming settlers or

an Army.

In the Great Plains, the Natives who refused to go to Reservations were a little better off, for a while.

But, once the Railroads were in place and Buffalo Bill Cody and others killed off nearly the entire Bison

population, there was little food left for the Plains People.

Until the land and Gold Rushes of the 1800’s, most Native People in the far West and Northwest still had adequate natural food sources.

*A personal note*

My People, the Shawnee, were considered very good farmers.

When they arrived at the Reservation in Kansas, the Governor remarked that the Shawnee were the best

farmers that he had ever seen.

What he didn’t know was that before they were shipped off to Kansas, the Shawnee from the Ohio Valley area

had learned many techniques from the local Amish farmers who admired them and even hid many of them after

the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh was killed.

 American Native Food Today

Today, American Natives need only travel to their nearest grocery store to find an abundance of food.

Many Natives do still grow some of their own food, raising geographically relevant crops that help to

sustain their people through the hard times.

Corn, beans and squash are still grown by many Nations, however, very few Native people are successful

commercial farmers as they lack the investment capital to get started.

**Your responses to this statement are quite encouraging,

but please do contact the Tribal Nations directly if you

are interested in investing in Native Farming**

Tribal Nations Home Pages

Southwestern Nations, like the Navajo and Hopis use the Ancient irrigation methods of their

Ancestors to grow a colorful collection of corn.

These Natives harvest cactus, plant vegetables and chilies and raise sheep which are rarely eaten, but provide

the abundance of wool used for their beautiful woven rugs.

Historically, California Natives were unlike most others, they did not grow much of anything to eat, they didn’t

have to, it was already there, all they had to do was take it.

The insulting title of “diggers” was given to these Natives, by outsiders who observed them frequently digging

in the dirt.

The state was rich in nutritious wild roots, bulbs and insects and thousands of California Natives lived very well

on the multitude of fruits, Wild Game, Nuts, Roots and Berries.

Today, with little good land left to raise crops, many Tribes have built Casinos instead to help support their

People.

Several Southern Nations like the Seminoles of Florida, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, have Casinos,

raise Cattle and grow a variety of food crops.

Some Tribes in Minnesota harvest wild rice and other related food products both to share with their own people

and also to sell.

Natives in Northern Plains States, like North and South Dakota, Idaho and Montana are raising cattle, while

trying to forge a new future for their children by tapping into the Renewable Energy market with Wind Turbines

and Solar Power.

The Northwest Nations of Washington and Oregon raise Salmon and grow Berries and Grapes and also have

geothermal potential.

Corn, Maple Syrup and wonderful varieties of Apples, Pears, Grapes, Berries, including an abundance of

Cranberries in Massachusetts.

Many Tribes also grow tobacco and cotton, but as they are not food, they were not counted among the Native

Nations crops.

Native Owned Food Businesses

If you are an American Native or Nation with a food business,

please send me your information to be listed on this page:

tahtonka at centurylink.net

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of South Dakota.

Lakota Foods

White Earth Reservation of Minnesota offers a variety of wild rice products, maple syrup, organic coffee, jams and jellies and many non food products.

Native Harvest Foods

The Skeet Family of Gallup, New Mexico sell Native American Traditional Foods.

Navajo Designs

The Ojibwa people of Red Lake Minnesota who not only grow wild rice, but now ship it all over the world.

Red Lake Nation Foods

Disclaimer * tahtonka.com has no personal knowledge nor connection to any of these businesses.*

American Native Food Web Sites:

A Pyramid of American Native foods.

An American Native Food Guide Pyramid

How the Plains People provided food for themselves.

The Luxton Museum of the Plains People

Indian Health Services

Native American Resources: Food and Nutrition

American Native Recipes

American Native Recipes

Cherokees of California Cookbook

The Cooking Post

Cookin’ with Three Sisters

Eastern North Carolina Native Cooking

Native Recipes from Paula Geise

Native Web Resources: Food

Navajo and Pueblo Native Fry Bread

Pemmican: Recipes, Stories and Stores

Recipe Source: American Native Recipes

 

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