Soaring Eagles Share Native American Heritage

By Roy Cook

Those of you that have been following these Soaring Eagle reviews are well aware that November is National American Indian Heritage Month and a Federal Holiday, Thanksgiving.

Our continuity of culture is indebted to these Elders from California who endured and inspires us today.

Ishi (Yana) - Survivor
“I vote for Ishi, the last of his Yana people who appeared to the world in 1911 alone and in need of help. He opted to live with the white men and not on a reservation, and was “civilized” by the dominate culture who took pity on him because he was the end of the indigenous era - according to the whites, that is. He is what they wanted. An end to a race. So they parted him and when he died in 1916, they burned his body but kept his brain. For me, I see him as a lone survivor. He was lost and lonely and the last of his people. His tragic story is what we are all about and what they wanted us to be. But we survived too.”

Captain Jack/Kintpuash (Modoc) - Sub chief/ Military Leader
Kintpuash, A.K.A. Captain Jack, is best known for his involvement in the 1872-73 Modoc War. He was forced onto an unsuitable reservation with former
enemies, the Klamath, and opted to flee into the California lava beds, resisting arrest and alluding US troops sent to capture him. In 1873 he was caught and charged with the murder of General Edward Canby. He was convicted to death by hanging, which occurred on October 3, 1873. His death marked the end of a story of discrimination and conflict between Indians and whites.

Harry Fonseca (Maidu/Hawaiian) - Artist
Fonseca majored in fine art at the California State University, but most of his techniques are self-taught. Often described as “One of the hottest young artists in New Mexico,” he is known best for his Coyote paintings. His work has been featured in prominent galleries through-out the United States, Europe, Japan and New Zealand. “Harry Fonseca is my favorite indigenous artist. His work is often whimsical, but always brilliant.”

Michael Dorris (Modoc) - Anthropologist/Writer
Though he founded the Native American Studies program at Dartmouth College (1972), he is best known for award-winning book, The Broken Cord (1989), which chronicles his experiences as the adoptive father of a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. He won critical acclaim for A Yellow Raft in Blue Water (1987) and in 1981 he married novelist Louise Eldritch. They wrote together under the pseudonym Milou North.

Datsolalee (Washo) - Basket Weaver
“My hero is Datsolalee of the Washo. She was one of the most famous basket weavers of all time and was known all over the world. She helped support her people with her baskets, and at that time her people were severely impoverished and in dire straits. She worked until her death at age 90 (1925) even though she was almost blind. Others learned how to weave, though she was the best and most detailed and her baskets were brilliant in every way. Five years after her death, one of her baskets sold for $10,000. Now they’re worth a quarter million!”

Mary Dann/Carrie Dann (Western Shoshone)-Civil/Political Rights Activists
Mary and Carrie have waged a battle with the US government since 1972 for land rights and sovereignty, using both civil disobedience and litigation as their weapons. For their courage and dedication they received the 1993 International Right Livelihood Award (otherwise known as the alternative Novel Prize).

America’s first peoples continue to endure and they remain a vital cultural, political, social, and moral presence. Tribal America has brought to this great country certain human values and political ideas that have become ingrained in the American spirit. With these thoughts in mind and the Harvest season, this week, we present an appropriate Thanksgiving prayer from one Nation of the Haudeshaune.


Gwa! Gwa! Gwa!
Now the time has come!
Hear us, Lord of the Sky!
We are here to speak the truth, for you do not hear lies,
We are your children, Lord of the Sky.

Now begins the Gayant’ gogwus
This sacred fire and sacred tobacco
And through this smoke
We offer our prayers
We are your children, Lord of the Sky.

Now in the beginning of all things
You provided that we inherit your creation
You said: I shall make the earth  on which people shall live
And they shall look to the earth as their mother
And they shall say, “It is she who supports us.”
You said that we should always be thankful
For our earth and for each other
So it is that we are gathered here
We are your children, Lord of the Sky.

Now again the smoke rises
And again we offer prayers
You said that food should be placed beside us
And it should be ours in exchange for our labor.
You thought that ours should be a world
where green grass of many kinds should grow.

You said that some should be medicines
And that one should be Ona’o
the sacred food, our sister corn
You gave to her two clinging sisters
beautiful Oa’geta, our sister beans
and bountiful Nyo’sowane, our sister squash
The three sacred sisters; they who sustain us.

This is what you thought, Lord of the Sky.
Thus did you think to provide for us
And you ordered that when the warm season comes,
That we should see the return of life
And remember you, and be thankful,
and gather here by the sacred fire.
So now again the smoke arises
We the people offer our prayers
We speak to you through the rising smoke
We are thankful, Lord of the Sky.

American Indian children, friends and family find their way to Old Town for traditional songs and good company to learn to dance and enjoy the friendship of the gatherings. The dance classes continue December 7 and 14, 2010.

For more information:
Vickie Gambala
San Diego Unified School District
Title VII Indian Education Program

San Diego American Indian pow wow trails lead to the Old Town Ballard center from 6-8:30 pm. with smiles and stories to tell each Tuesday evening. Remember: December 7 and 14, 2010, bring a potluck item or side dish for the evening feast. Everyone is welcome