Cherokee Messenger
February, 1998

Shawl Society Monthly Meetings

Each second Saturday, 10 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Order of the day is fun, with an outreach to women of all tribes. You donít need to prove you are Indian! Join memorable times with basketweaving, beadwork, shawl making and other Native crafts. They are making earrings and baskets for Red Nations Remembering, and planning more exciting events. Call B.J. for details 713-668-0222.

Proud Moments For One of Our Own

Cherokees have still another reason to be proud of former Principle Chief Wilma Mankiller. She received the MEDAL OF FREEDOM January 15, 1998, from President Clinton in Washington, D. C. Notified December 23, 1997 that she would join an elite group of 14 other acclaimed Americans to receive the nationís highest civilian honor, she notes, "It was quite a Christmas present." The 52-year old three-term chief executive is honored for her promotion of the tribe, improving healthcare delivery and supporting Cherokee educational and business interests. Says Ms. Mankiller, " I am just an ordinary person who has been blessed with many extraordinary experiencesÖI always feel like it is kind of strange to receive an award for doing work that you love, so I am going to accept it on behalf of Native American people, namely women, who have done much more work than I have."

After a February, 1996 cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy and many hospital stays, she has more good news: "I have never said this before, but I can finally say I believe it is in remission. My health stabilized two months ago. I am cautious, but optimistic about 1998. I feel better than I have in almost two years." -Excerpts from the article, "Mankiller To Be Honored," by Rob Martindale in the Tulsa World Online (January 9, 1998) and "Mankiller to Be Awarded Presidential Medal," by Charles T. Jones, in The Daily Oklahoman (January 9, 1998)

Red Nations Remembering

Red Nations Remembering, the event of the season, Sunday, March 8, 1998, West Montgomery County Park, Montgomery, TX. Next planning meeting: Sunday, February 1, 1998, 6:00 p.m. location to be announced. Call any of the officers to verify.

Special thanks to Claybert Menard, CCS member who is helping to launch the costume making venture for RNR. Itís great to have his expertise!


Congratulations to Carter Terry, active CCS member, who won our LOGO Designing Contest for RED NATIONS REMEMBERING. Her fine illustration features a woman and child on the Trail of Tears. Many thanks to all the innovative artists who submitted their work in the 98í contest. The choices were difficult, because they were all top-notch entries! Stay tuned for other upbeat events as RNR approaches.

Congratulations to active CCS member Judith Bruni, who was a semifinalist in a poetry contest with her poem "Reflections." The piece was published in Sketches of the Soul, The National Library of Poetry, ISBN 1-57553-412-6, Dec. 1997. It was written for Motherís Day originally, and we hope to include the poem in a future issue of the Cherokee Messenger. Judith is also in the Houston Area Professional Chapter of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers.

Web Watch

Internet sites have been checked for accuracy and current status as a mid-January. Please share any updates with the editor, to pass on to our readers. Sites change frequently.

Trail of Tears Association

CCS member Marjorie Lowe tells us of the Trail of Tears Association of the National Historic Trail, which will hold its 1998 Annual Conference, April 28-30, 1998 in Tahlequah, OK. Seminars, workshops, a hog fry, tours to local historic sites, and tribal cultural presentations will be featured. Their national headquarters office is at 1100 N. University, Suite 133, Little Rock, AR 72207-6344. Phone 501-666-9032. More details will be included as they become available.

The Young Boy

By Debra Ann Chapman
In the night of winterís cold,
a small child lay and almost froze.
His little feet had no shoes to wear.
They were frost bit, exposed, and bare.
His clothes were tattered,
his eyes were sad,
the pain he suffered mad him mad.
A distant fire did not keep him warm,
as he lay upon the snow so cold.
Then finally to his tired eyes,
sleep brought its magic to his mind,
and he had dreams of food and warmth.
He dreamt his Grandma was standing near,
with love on her face and eyes of cheer.
Her arms were wrapped around him tight.
She hugged him then to angelís flight.
She flew away but first looked back,
and told him not to give in to hate,
but to use his life to help all people,
and to forgive wrong done to her.
Then off she flew into the night,
but around her glowed a light so bright,
and he knew she was safe and well,
from her parting smile this he could tell.
Morning sun woke him from his sleep.
On top of him was his Grandmother.
She did not wake nor did she move,
but passed away in cold nightís air.
With tears he kissed her
as he was forced to leave,
and as he walked he thought of her,
and of the dream from last nightís sleep.
Then as he traveled on the trail of tears,
he did not forget his Grandmotherís words,
and chose to take a peaceful path,
even though his heart was extremely sad.

In The Spirit of Crazy Horse, Remember The People - Serve The People

By Larry Sampson
Hello, once again. I hope everyone had a joyful holiday season, and your new year is off to a great start. Iím excited about the prospects this year offers, particularly to the Native American community in the Houston area. More then any other time in recent memory, there is a sense of change in the air, an atmosphere almost inviting and expecting things to improve in our neck of the woods. Donít get me wrong. Iím not trying to suggest that weíve been living in reservation conditions here, (i.e. Pine Ridge), but so many issues that could and should be addressed now seem to be leaping to the forefront of our conscience and our schedules. The proverbial ball is beginning to roll, and I , for one, am truly optimistic about some of these new developments, but perhaps next month would be a better time for this. I may have even more to write about, as things seem to be changing at a good pace nowadays.

One thing I would like to address, is a touchy and difficult subject to many people in our midst. I believe it lies at the very core of what will be our legacy in the generations to come. Quite simply, what makes us Indian? Ask ten different people, and likely you will get ten different answers. Is it skin color? Is it hair color or length? Maybe it is where you are from? And then thereís the big one: "Do you have a card?" One could look at each of these issues separately, and to some extent make valid points about each of these being essential to his or her "Indianness." But is it really? I believe I have what most would call a very traditional view of what makes us what we are. I defer to our elders, long a source of wisdom in our community, (but sadly, less now for some than others).

Historically, our societies were open to anyone who was "like hearted and like minded," and would not put the people in danger. These people were sometimes White, Black, or Hispanic; and yet they werenít seen that way. These people were not referred to as "The white man who lives with us," or "the black man who worships with us." No, the people called them Indians, plain and simple. As I remarked earlier, I believe in traditional beliefs, but we must not discriminate against someone who is light-skinned, or has light colored or short hair. What we should use to determine a personís worth or legitimacy in our community is simple: listen to what they say, and most importantly, watch what they do!

We do not have so many resources that we can afford to discard a servant of the people just because they "donít look Indian." As for whether or not a person has a card-well, again, is that really what makes an Indian an Indian? Are the five Seneca tribal council members who were taken off of their own roles by vengeful politicians suddenly non-Indians? Were the scores of Cherokee and others who live too many daysí horse ride away to be put on the roles suddenly "cast out" of the Indian realm? Are these people and all their descendant lost to the Indian world? Did they suddenly talk differently or believe differently? Believe me, these are just a few of the examples of non-card carrying Full-Bloods out there. Granted, most people who identify themselves as Indians without these cards are not full-bloods, but they are still, in many cases, like hearted people; a resource to be utilized. I cannot recall the number of times people have not been allowed to apply their talents in our community because a core group of a personís "credentials." I must admit, I feel a little tinge every time a white person tells me their Grandmother was a "Cherokee Princess," but that is the lay of the land, and we must rise above this impotence! Lastly on this issue, why in the world would anyone allow a government, any government, to determine who they were and who they were not? A man I greatly admire says that when a person does this, he or she stops being an Indian altogether! The day I received my card I was satisfied, but not because I considered myself more or less. And not that I cared what other people thought. My reasons are personal, and I will never allow any plastic to stand between me and all my relations!!!

Copyright © The Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston