Cherokee Messenger
February, 1997

The Houston Inter-Ethnic Forum

The Houston Inter-Ethnic Forum is an organization devoted to bringing peace to Houston by educating about and creating a respect for diversity. Houston is fast becoming a town in which minorities are the majority; in fact. HIEF predicts that by the year 2025, the Hispanic population will account for 40%, with European American making up 35%, African Americans 17%, and Native and Asian Americans, 8%. With such drastic differences in ethnicity, we must all learn to live harmoniously with other cultures. Brandy Linnenkohl, daughter of CCS Board member, Cindy Linnenkohl, is a member of HIEF's first teen dialogue. This pilot council consists of approximately 10 to 12 high school teens that represent the cultural diversity of Houston as closely as possible. Brandy is representing the Cherokee Cultural Society. The goal of this younger-than-usual group is to allow the veteran members of HIEF to see and learn about racial problem areas and issues through a different perspective - a teenager's. Prejudice usually develops in an individual when they are still adolescents, so the HIEF teen dialogue is planning an event that will create an occasion for teens to discuss issues on race relations. They are calling this event the "Teen Summit" with the theme "Bringing Harmony through the Celebration of Diversity". This summit will be a mixture of cultural booths, entertainment, discussions, and motivational speakers with an audience of students from all cultures around Harris County. Hopefully the outcome will be teens that are a little more educated, respectful, and curious about many cultures besides their own. We must all learn to live with and learn about the many diverse faces of Houston, and maybe by targeting the youth of this city, we can educate people while their minds are a little more open, and create a brighter future for our town.

Seminole Burning: A Story of Racial Vengeance

Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. ($26)
In 1898, a white woman was murdered and two Seminole teenagers - who were innocent of the crime - were chained and burned alive. This book is a detailed reconstruction of a specific violent event, with genealogies of the families involved, maps of the area, and an analysis of Indian-white relations. Placing the event in context with the national scene, Llittlefield connects it to the federal governments efforts to dissolve land titles of the Five Civilized Tribes and indeed to the establishing of the state of Oklahoma. By 1897, there were nearly 300,000 European Americans living in Indian Territory. After the Dawes Commission arrived, the national press engaged in a propaganda war against the tribes and on behalf of the Americans. Three years earlier, the Cherokees' Washington delegation reported to their National Council that a subsidized press was working for the dissolution of the Indian governments...and even the pulpit was against the Indian. The federal government subverted the effective government of the Indian nations by refusing to carry out its obligations to remove white intruders until their numbers became so great and their behavior so uncontrollable that they undermined all efforts to maintain order. The Cherokees compared themselves to the Trojans: "It was the contents of the wooden horse emptied inside the walls of Troy that enabled the Greeks to take that ancient city." Books can be ordered through O'Brien's Bookstore, (918) 743-4605.

Elder Council

John Campbell is the contact person for the "Elders Council" in our area. The original group formed in Oklahoma earlier this year, and we are anxious to be a part of this important undertaking. If you are 55 or older and would like to be a part of this group, please call John at 409-258-7366.

Red Nations Remembering

Our upcoming event on March 9 will be the focus of the next two meetings. The committee members have organized a day of events to include our memorial Moccasin Walk, an Indian Market, historical presentations, competitions, games and more. Be sure to mark your calendar!

At the next meeting John Campbell will be instructing the men on how to make and wear our native headdress - turbans. The women are holding sewing marathons to create tear dresses to wear on that date.

Additionally, Jerry DeLeon will be organizing an exhibition PowWow as part of the day's activities. We need help in promoting the event to local media. If you would like to help in any capacity, please call Board member Judith Bruni at 713-556-1908,

Cherokee Curriculum

A committee is meeting to develop Cherokee teaching curriculum to offer to elementary schools, not only in Houston, but other places in the US. Attending the first committee were Joyce Kiev, Martha Sebastian, Janet Peatross, Deborah Scott, and committee chair, Marjorie Low. If you would like to be a part of "revisionist" history, contact Marjorie Low at 713-937-4826.

Flower and Herb Exchange

(319) 382-5872
The Flower and Herb Exchange (annual US membership fee of $7, Canadian fee, $10)
SSE was founded in 1975 and has always focused on the preservation of heirloom food crops, but many of SSE's members are also keeping old time flowers and herbs that have been passed down from generation to generation within their families. In 1990, SSE initiated a project called The Flower and Herb Exchange (FHE), to facilitate the exchange of heirloom flowers and herbs. FHE sends out one publication each year (February through May) which has quickly grown into a 160-page book with 300 members and 2,000 listings, FHE's members are recreating the garden landscapes of the past by reintroducing many of the plants that bloomed in our grandparents gardens.

Gambler Way: Indian Gaming in Mythology, History, and Archaeology in North America

ISBN: 1-55566-160-2; $17.95 pb
Kathryn Gabriel
Kathryn Gabriel's new book examines Indian gaming myths on a continental scale revealing that not only was gambling - in practice as well as myth - common to nearly all of the indigenous peoples of North America, but also that the games and stories were universally part of the sacred lore and rituals of the tribes. Utilizing many obscure and little known sources, she chronicles in great detail many of the gaming myths from various indigenous people in North America and Mexico. Included are also comparisons between the New World perception of gambling and those of the Greeks, Romans, and ancient peoples of India. The result is a fascinating and unique look at the way humans strive to comprehend the connections between divine intent and chance. In an appendix, more recent ramifications of Indian gaming traditions are explained in the context of the growth of Native American casino developments. In the words of Tony Hillerman, "In Gambler Way, Kathryn Gabriel relates her profound knowledge of gambling in the culture, myth, and religion of American tribes to the current rise of casino gambling on reservations across America. It is a valuable book for scholars and a fascinating one for the rest of us."

Quilter tells stories with needle and thread

Vian - Her work of art is subtle yet obvious, heartbreaking yet inspirational, all of it coming together to tell many stories.

Some would say it is only a quilt, but for 70-year-old Gertrude Elmore, this quilt of Native American history has been a part of her life for almost three years.

It was almost three years ago when she began reading a book by former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller. From the book she received a new understanding of the less-than-fair treatment of Native American people received from white settlers.

Fighting back tears, Elmore says she didn't know about the injustices Native American people lived with even though she and her husband have lived more than 40 years among many Cherokee people in the Blackgum Community in Sequoyah County, Oklahoma.

After finishing the book, she and her daughter began researching and looking for items to incorporate into a quilt. The quilt would honor many Native Americans and tell about some of their suffering and triumphs.

"I worked on the quilt off and on for three years and did a lot of research on Indian history," she said. "I found out the way the Indian people were treated was just horrible."

Much of the quilt is devoted to the Cherokees and the other Five Tribes because she has spent most of her life in the Cherokee Nation.

The quilt won first place in competition at the Cherokee National Holiday during Labor Day weekend.

On two of the five different panels on the quilt she lets her needle tell the story of the Cherokee "Trail of Tears." One of the female characters on the second panel of the quilt has her baby in a carrier as the Cherokee people are rounded up for removal. In the next pane she is shown carrying an empty carrier after the death of her baby on the journey to Indian Territory.

Elmore says she is now a student of Native American history and is always reading and researching Oklahoma's many tribes.

On the 7-inch border of the quilt she has sewn the names of many great and famous Native Americans from the past and present such as the famous Cherokee humorist Will Rogers, the Sac and Fox athlete Jim Thorpe, and Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. In an instant she can provide a background on the names, some of the things they said and did, and what made them great or famous.

On the back of the quilt, a series of maps depict Oklahoma in five different eras. The maps also show the constant dwindling of land due to white settlement during the 19th century.

One can spend much time finding all of the subtleties sewn into the quilt and may find their way to a library to learn more about the people that are a part of Elmore's work of art.

"There were so many things they didn't teach us in school," she said. "I'm proud of what I learned making the quilt more than anything else."

Copyright © The Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston