Cherokee Messenger
January, 1999



Cherokee Cultural Society Meetings


Cherokee Cultural Society meetings, are held at the Tracy Gee Community Center, 3599 Westcenter, Houston, Texas, 7:30 to 9:00 p.m., the first Thursday of each month. All interested persons are invited to attend. Speaker for the January meeting will be Efrain Martinez, Senior Conciliation Specialist and Director, Houston Field Office, Community Relations Service, United States Department of Justice. His topic will be "Native Issues and the Department of Justice."

Annual Event Grows, Moves to New Site


Red Nations Remembering, the annual commemoration of the Trail of Tears, will be held Sunday, March 28, 1999, at Traders Village, located at 7979 North Eldridge Parkway in Houston, Texas. Contact for more details: Wade McAlister, 281-440-7676, e-mail wsmcalister@compuserve.com, or Judith Bruni, 281-556-1908, e-mail jbruni@us.ibm.com. A logo contest has been launched for the Red Nations Remembering 1999: You can be the artist whose name appears on all 1999 Red Nations Remembering logo items: T-shirts, buttons, fans, cups, etc. Items like these from our 1998 RNR were shipped all over the world! Entries will be accepted and available to view at the January monthly meeting, where the voting will take place. Enter as often as you like! Remember to keep drawings simple enough to be easily screen printed onto T-shirts and other items. The winning entry becomes the property of the Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston.

New Health Project


The Native American Health Coalition will launch a needs assessment survey for the Houston area, to better identify areas of focus. Persons interested in assisting with design and implementation, or who want more project information, can contact: Deborah Scott, 713-861-6667, e-mail dpscott@sageways.com.; or Rhonda Randolph, Greater Houston Area Health Education Center, 713-592-6411. The Coalition works to improve the health of Native peoples in the community.

Shawl Society Weaves Great Times for ‘99


The Cherokee Women’s Gathering, organized by the CCS Women’s Shawl Society, will be a basket weaving class in Tahlequah, OK, in May, 1999. Those who want to participate and do not know how to weave can enjoy beginners classes in the Houston area during February and April. Women and men of all tribes are most welcome to share crafts, skills and good times in this group. Call for details: B. J. at 713-541-4170. Monthly Houston meetings are on the second Saturday and will include these activities: January - Peyote stitching; February - Basket weaving; March - Red Nations Remembering; April - Basket weaving; May - Trip to Tahlequah; June - Gourd decorating.

Tribal Election


May 22, 1999 is the General Election Day that The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Election Commission carries out Legislative Act No. 7-97, the Cherokee Nation Code Annotated, and the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, for the purpose of conducting Cherokee Nation Elections. Part of the eligibility to vote requires registration with the Nation, and information is available at the web site: http:/www.cherokee.org/. The Cherokee Nation also can be reached at: P. O. Box 1188, Tahlequah, Oklahoma 74465-0948. Phone 918-458-5899 or 1-800-353-2895; fax 918-458-6101.

Poetry Corner


Day of Reckoning
The Trail of Tears
By Yellow Flower (Blackfoot)*
It seems I can touch the sagging gray sky—so close it seems. Atop my mountain, I reach up, and pretend to pierce the closest bulge—so as to make the snow fall. I breathe in the deepest, coolest, cleanest air—as a crisp breeze races through my hair—grazing my face. My beloved peaks—how will I live without you? They say I must leave you forever—traveling to a strange and distant land—To a stark, yellow land of dry rivers and arid heat—They say I can never again call this my home— Never again—home—this land where I was born—and my fathers before me for ten thousand years.

Now the home of others—strangers will tread my familiar paths. Own my home—eat the crops I have planted for my family—Strangers will watch my seasons come and go— my snow fall—my rain bless—my sun warm—my grass grow. But not for me—for white strangers—who have stolen my world. Wrenching it from my dying grasp—twisting my arm—and breaking it off.

For months, years, they will beat us like depraved animals—marching our exhausted, thin bodies over thousands of miles—whipping our families—starving our children—stealing our babies—This will cheer them—encourage them—for this is their goal. I try to explain to them—that we can live together in peace. This wonderful, bountiful land will keep and nourish all of us. There is no need to send us into oblivion—we will live in harmony—together—But they will not listen—instead they beat us harder—bloodier—fiercer—deadlier. Until there are few of us remaining—to arrive in this strange, hot, dry wilderness, where there are no lofty peaks, no cool breeze, no lush forests—Only hot, dry land—and scanty yellow grass—and few trees.

But, as we tremble in weakness—we force ourselves to stand—we grit our teeth, and will our legs to walk—will our arms to build. We wonder why the Creator has allowed this to befall us—Has He chosen to test us—His red children of the forest? Test our strength—our determination—our faith? We will then not be discouraged—We will demonstrate to Him—our ability to survive—to make due—never to quit.

We will listen as our children sing of this time—sing of our strengths—our achievements—our heroism. Our grandchildren will look to us as examples—on how to be—for we will rally—we will overcome—we will never admit defeat.

We will grow again—into a stronger, more united nation—a nation who will lead the world into harmony—into peace. For we are Cherokee—the chosen—the strong—the proud. We, the Cherokee, powerful in past and present—rightfully take our place in the better world we have built, with our own hands—for our children of tomorrow.

*Pen name of Carroll Cocchia, who dedicated this work "To my Cherokee Family - in sincere admiration." She is an active member of both CCS and Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers.


Web Watch


* Send favorite sites of interest, especially regarding Cherokees, to vhenrich@swbell.net. Look forward to more sites on language, history and culture in future issues.

Thanksgiving Misgivings


(Spirited to us by CCS member Pat Poland via Deborah Scott)
THANKSGIVING: The year was 1637.....700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe, gathered for their "Annual Green Corn Dance" in the area that is now known as Groton, Connecticut. While they were gathered in this place of meeting, they were surrounded and attacked by mercenaries of the English and Dutch. The Indians were ordered from the building, and as they came forth, they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building. The next day, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared: "A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children." For the next 100 years, every "Thanksgiving Day" ordained by a governor or president was to honor that victory, thanking God that the battle had been won. Source: Documents of Holland, 13 Volume Colonial Documentary History, letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the King in England, and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, British Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years. Researched by William B. Newell (Penobscot Tribe), former Chairman of the University of Connecticut Anthropology Department.

Cherokee & Other Native Tidbits


Cherokees Language Preservation*
Robert Bushyhead, who grew up speaking Cherokee, is spending the latter part of his life working to ensure that it is a living language. At age 85, he and his daughter, Jean Bushyhead, spend each weekday at a log cabin working on the Kituhwa Language Project, an effort by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. Kituhwa is a principal dialect of the language. "Dad is my key resource person. There are other Native speakers who come in and help a lot, but nobody around here is as strong in both Cherokee and English as my father," said Jean, the project director. "He hardly hears anymore, but he wants to help any way he can."

Although started in 1994 through the Cherokee Central School System with a combination of state, federal and private grant money, the tribal government took over financial responsibility for the project in 1996. The Bushyheads recently worked on a computerized voice dictionary of the Cherokee language which contains about 2,000 entries, featuring the pronunciation of a word in both Cherokee and English by Bushyhead or one of the other Native speakers. The word is then used in a sentence to provide context.

Because children were punished by teachers at the reservation's government boarding school if they spoke Cherokee at the time Bushyhead was growing up, the language began to be replaced by English in daily conversation. "Many of the older ones didn't teach their children, so their kids wouldn't have to go through what they did at school," says the elder Bushyhead. Current lessons for the Cherokee Central School System feature a Native speaker, with a wolf puppet and some children. Videotapes help the elementary-school students with daily exposure to the Cherokee language. Although resuscitating the language has been tedious work, Jean said that she and her father are encouraged by the progress they have seen. "The younger kids don't have any trouble with the pronunciation. They just blurt it out and don't worry about it. If you speak to them in Cherokee, they'll speak back."

- From the AP Wire Service, Cherokee, N.C. (11-27-98)

*For more background on the Eastern Band of Cherokees, see the web site http://www.charweb.org/neighbors/na/cherokee.htm or contact the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, Joyce Dugan, Principal Chief, P.O. Box 455, Cherokee, NC 28719; 704-497-2771; Fax 704-497-2952.

Genealogical Resource
There is a new edition of Cherokee Proud: A Guide for Tracing and Honoring Your Cherokee Ancestors, by Dr. Tony Mack McClure, released December 18, 1998, which can be examined for table of contents at CheroProud@aol.com. Ordering information: Chunannee Books, Dept WEB, P.O. Box 127, Somerville, TN 38068. Tollfree call: 800-929-7889.

Cherokees Now Serving on NIEA
Cherokee Nation members were elected as new officers and board members for 1998-1999, at The National Indian Education Association's 29th Annual Convention, held October 11-14, 1998, in Nashville, TN: President-elect, Dr. Gloria E. Sly, Associate Education Director, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Tahlequah, OK; and for a second term as Treasurer, Glenn Johnson, M.Ed., Director, American Indian Graduate Center, University of Arizona-Tucson. Among the new student board members are Mistie D. Wind (Seminole-Creek-Cherokee), an undergraduate student at the University of Oklahoma-Norman.

NIEA began in 1969 from the First National Indian Education Conference held by and for Indian people and was formally established in Minneapolis, MN, in 1970. It provides opportunities for Indian educators to monitor the impact of federal Indian education policies and legislation. Indian educators, tribal leaders, parents and students can address educational issues affecting American Indians and Alaska Natives. The 1998 convention attracted nearly 2,500 attendees. NIEA's 30th annual convention will be October 17-20, 1999, in Oklahoma City. Contact the national office, Alexandria, VA, 703-838-2870, or by e-mail at niea@mindspring.com.

- Excerpts from the Oklahoma Indian Timeson-line (December 11, 1998).

So Long to A Great Leader
Longtime president of the Mescalero Apache Nation, Wendell Chino, who helped his tribe rise from poverty through "red capitalism," died November 4, 1998, in Santa Monica, CA, at the age of 74. Under his guidance, the Mescalero Apache Nation built a ski resort, the Inn of the Mountain Gods, Casino Apache, a timber mill and a metal fabrication plant, along with Indian schools, a hospital and a health center. In a concept he described as "red capitalism", Chino believed Indian people should make decisions about Indian land.

- Excerpts from the Tulsa World On-line (November 10, 1998)


Special Thanks to Everyone...


Who donated blankets and goods to the annual Kickapoo Drive, benefiting the residents of the reservation near Eagle Pass, Texas. The great mystery was which Cherokee "good fairies" left the nice blankets on the front table at the December CCS meeting. We do not know the individuals to thank, but they are most appreciated! Otilia Sanchez, who directs the Kickapoo Drive each year, especially thanks the donors.


Copyright © The Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston