Unfortunately, our media does very little to make the public aware of this, more so, it is overshadowed by the public’s interest in Thanksgiving. It is up to the Indians themselves to use every month to tell their story.
All too often, ‘Indian’ only brings to mind the tribes made popular in films and fiction, like the Comanche, Apache, Sioux, and Cheyenne.
How many other tribes could you name, if asked? Let me give you a quick few.
Hupa is a tribe that comprises California’s largest Indian population. Very fine basket weavers, these people were not officially recognized as existing, until 1988 in the Reagan Administration.
Way off to the northeast in Maine, live the Penobscot or ‘Rocky Face People’. Their ancestry goes back 8,000 years. When did your ancestors arrive? Talk about voting fraud, these people were denied the right to vote in American elections until 1954.
Travelling down to South Carolina we find the Catawba, or ‘River People’. Like the Penobscot, their ancestry also goes back thousands of years. When Columbus arrived, they numbered in the thousands, but by 1826, they had been reduced 110. Remarkably, they are still among us.
When you were in school, how much did you learn about the Menominee? Very little, if any, I’d bet. Their name means ‘Wild Rice People’. They are located in Wisconsin and boast an ancestry of 10,000 years. Despite many setbacks in federal support, they have survived to finally get recognition as a people in 1973.
Way out west in Oregon & Washington lives the Umatilla tribe. Their most recent claim to fame was their dispute with scientists over the discovery over a skeleton believed to be over 9,000 years old, discovered on their land in 1996. Called ‘Kennewick Man’ by scientists, its origin is still in dispute, and by now, the name ‘Umatilla’ probably is no longer remembered. In America, fame is indeed fleeting.
Are you from Alabama or Georgia? If so, did you learn in school about the Eufala people? Probably not. A sub-tribe of the Creek Indians. They were the first to be driven out by the encroaching settlers and planters. Heading south into Florida, their descendants are known today as Seminoles.
Finally, if your into gambling you might recognize the name Pequot. They once populated the coast of Connecticut. This fierce tribe was nearly decimated in a massacre by the British in 1637. With true Indian tenacity a few survived. Their descendants now benefit from the 1988 law that permits casinos on the reservations. Foxwood Casino is among the first and most successful.
I have cited these few stories to you to whet your interest in these wonderful people. Not one treaty, or promise, ever made to them, by our government was kept, yet despite all the odds, they survived, and still live among us.
They deserve more than a month of recognition. I ask them to stand proud and be heard, not just in November, but also in all the other months of the year. In the words of Crazy Horse; “Hoka Hey!”
Grandmother Two Bears.
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