Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11/24 Celebrating Native American

By Diane Forrest,

When I was growing up in the Mississippi Delta I went to a school that only had grades 1-6.   The last year I attended that school my class was rewarded a field trip to Memphis Tennessee, about 60 miles from home.  While we were there we toured a Chuckalissa Indian Village.  It was during this trip that I was able to see firsthand the lifestyles of one of the country's Native American Tribes.   As we toured the museum we were able to view the home conditions, the tools they used, the clothes, jewelry and pottery they made, and games they played.  We learned about the way they raised their families, ceremonies they shared, and burial techniques for their family and friends.  For the most part I learned that the Indian culture was not that different from any other culture in the world.  Each family member had their own specific job to perform for the good of the tribe.

I’m not sure when the term Native American was first introduced, however, in a 1995 Census Bureau interview, most people preferred to be identified as American Indian, or simply Indian.  There are 562 federally recognized tribes in the U.S.  Of the 2,786,652 Native Americans in the United States, a third occupies 3 states, California, Arizona and Oklahoma.

The American Indian is responsible for many contributions; some of these include the tipi, their home constructed with animal skins and logs.  A whole tribe can be packed and moved in an hour's time.  They also developed the use of adobe in the building of their homes.  They domesticated corn or Maize as they call it, and were the first to drink cocoa.

Field and Ice Hockey are based on the Indian game known as Shinny, and they invented the toy spinning top as well as a form of basketball.

They are extremely proficient in weaving baskets, making jewelry, pottery and blankets.

There are many famous Native Americans, some include:

Sitting Bull, 1831 to 1890Was a Hunkpapa Lakota medicine man and holy man. He is famous in both American and Native American history mostly for his major victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn against Custer, where his ‘premonition’ of defeating them became reality. Even today, his name is synonymous with Native American culture, and he is considered to be one of the most famous Native Americans ever.

Tecumseh 1768-1813
Tecumseh became well known for taking disparate tribes folk and maintaining hold on the land that was rightfully theirs.

Geronimo 1829-1909
Defended his people against the encroachment of the US on their tribal lands for over 25 years.   He staged what was to be the last great Native American uprising, and eventually moved to a reservation often giving permissions to appear at fairs and schools.

Sequoiah 1767-1843
Was a silversmith who invented the Cherokee Syllabry, thus earning him a place on the list of inventors of writing systems as well.

November is Native American Heritage Month.  This is a time to recognize the Native American culture and their contributions as well as the sacrifices they made.

Did you know that Will Rogers was a Native American?  Rogers was born to a well-respected Native American Territory family and learned to ride horses and use a lasso/lariat so well that he was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for throwing three ropes at once—one around the neck of a horse, another around the rider, and a third around all four legs of the horse. He ultimately traveled around the world several times, made 71 films (50 silent and 21 “talkies”), wrote more than 4,000 nationally-syndicated newspaper columns, and became a world-famous figure. He died in a plane crash in 1935.


1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.

2. Remain close to the Great Spirit, in all that you do.

3. Show great respect for your fellow beings.
(Especially Respect yourself)

4. Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.

5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.

6. Do what you know to be right.
(But be careful not to fall into self-righteousness)

7. Look after the well being of mind and body.

8. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.

9. Be truthful and honest at all times.
(Especially be truthful and honest with your self)

10. Take full responsibility for your actions

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