Cherokee Messenger
May, 1999

Cherokee Cultural Society Meetings

Upcoming Monthly Meeting: Thursday, June 3, 1999,7:00 p.m., social gathering, and 7:30 p.m. program & meeting. Speaker will be Mimi Crossley, Curator of Pre-Columbian Art, Houston Museum of Natural Science. Topic will be gathering artifacts from ancient Inca and Aztec civilizations. Come hear the stories on the archeological digs! Meeting location: The Tracy Gee Community Center, at 3599 Westcenter, one block south of Richmond, east of the Sam Houston Tollway West Belt. Guests are eligible for the door prize awarded that night.

Time To Talk It UP! Bring Friends to CCS Meetings!

Join us July 1, when Dr. Dorothy Lippert, Curator of Native American Artifacts and Displays at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, will speak on the gathering of sacred artifacts and the stories and controversy surrounding this activity.

Announcing...The CCS Membership Contest!

September 2, 1999 is the deadline for contestants to bring in at least six (6) new CCS members. The top three contestants will be eligible to choose one of these prizes: Tickets to "Scrooge", December 18, at Theater Under the Stars in Houston, donated by Judith Bruni; a signed, numbered and framed poster print of beautiful eagles by a famous Native artist, donated by Carroll Cocchia and CCS; a Pendleton blanket, donated by Victor Carroll; or free dinner for two at Hungry's Restaurant. Contact Terry Thompson, e-mail, or phone 281-890-4403, for membership applications. Good luck in your trek toward a great prize and more CCS members!

Get your Red Nations Remembering t-shirt with the famous Bob Annesley original artwork from CCS, only $12 each. Contact Judith Bruni, e-mail, or call 281-556-1908, to purchase yours!

Other Native Activities

  • The Shawl Society, welcomes women and men to participate in a basket weaving class at the home of Patty Davis on Saturday, June 12, 1999, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The group welcomes women of all tribes to share crafts and friendship. Contact for details and meeting directions: e-mail

  • The Native American Coalition meets May 25, 7:30 p.m., at the IHOP on I-10 at Kirkwood in Houston. Agenda includes Native American "Youth Assistance Directory", to benefit scholarships; "Save the Earth" project; Native American contributions to the Millennium Rodeo and Parade; the land issue in Montgomery County. Contact by e-mail

  • Native American Arts Council Meeting: Stay tuned for plans for the Second Annual Native American Music Festival at Traders Village, Houston, on July 24, 1999, starring Robert Mirabal and Blackfire. Contact:

  • The Native American Health Coalition, works to improve the health of Native peoples in the Houston area. Contact for meeting schedules and projects: Deborah Scott, e-mail; or Rhonda Randolph, Greater Houston Area Health Education Center, 713-592-6411.

  • The Wordcraft Circle Of Native Writers & Storytellers will meet for a writers' workshop on Sunday, June 6, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., at the MECA Center, 1900 Kane Street in Houston. Contact for details, or call Otilia Sanchez at 713-783-3882.

  • American Indian Resource Center contact for updates: Jonathan Hook, e-mail; or the Resource Center, 281-599-8988.

  • The Shakey Hollow Ceremonial Ground, near Conroe, TX, hosts dances the last Saturday each month. Pot luck dinner starts at 6:00 p.m. Call for details: 281-399-1661.

  • The Alabama Coushatta Reservation hosts activities at the Livingston, TX Reservation. The 31st Annual Pow Wow will be June 4 & 5, 1999. Call Sharon Miller, 409-563-4391, or Mary Williams, 409-563-4344 or 1-800-444-3507 for complete details.

  • The Tia Piah Pow Wow is held each third Saturday in Pasadena, TX. Call Ted Weatherly, 281-842-8972.

    Election Notice: Reopening of Absentee Ballot Requests for Runoff Elections

    Qualified voters may request an absentee ballot for the runoff election of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma set for July 24, 1999. Requests for an absentee ballot reopen May 24 through July 6, 1999. Legislative Act 7-97 states, "Absentee ballot requests for a runoff election by persons who did not vote by absentee ballot in the general election must be received by the Election Services Office at least fourteen (14) days prior to the runoff election date." The request for an absentee ballot must be in writing and contain the following information: Name, Date of Birth, Address, Cherokee Nation Membership Registration Number, and Signature. Contact the election office at the numbers listed below. Cherokee Nation Election Services website Mailing address: P.O. Box 1188, Tahlequah, OK 74465-0948 Phone 918-458-5899 or 1-800-353-2895.

    Web Watch


    Edward Red Eagle, Sr. of Pawhuska, OK, assistant chief of the Osage Tribe, died Sunday, May 2, 1999 at the age of 80. Our sympathy goes to his family and community.
    Notice appeared in the Tulsa World On-line May 3, 1999.

    U.S. Dietary Guidelines Unfit for Native Americans

    By Neal D. Barnard, M.D., and Derek M. Brown*
    Spend some time at a reservation clinic and you will see patient after patient with diabetes, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease. It wasn't that way. It need not be that way now. A more traditional diet is the prescription for avoiding much of that suffering. For Native Americans, current federal dietary guidelines promoting a meaty, cheesy diet amounts to, perhaps inadvertently, the nutritional equivalent of smallpox-infected blankets.

    Food Folly
    The 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, under review for a mid-2000 update, push a "Westernized" diet. They ignore the health needs and cultural practices of Native Americans and other minorities. Meanwhile, the much-adopted Standard American Diet and the fast-food culture - flush with animal proteins, fats, and sugars - exact an increasing toll on Native Americans, as on others.

    Unfortunately, the Dietary Guidelines, which govern all federal and many private nutrition efforts, poorly reflect what we know about health. For example, they still promote two to three daily servings of dairy - advice dating to the first federal food guides in 1916. They ignore ample research since the mid-1960's on lactose intolerance among racial minorities. A study on Native Americans published in Gastroenterology in 1977 found 74 percent were lactose intolerant. Since dairy had little place in the pre-Columbian scheme of things, distaste for it among Native Americans is hardly surprising. Lactose intolerance, with gas, bloating and diarrhea, is a natural warning, like the pain one would feel putting a hand onto a hot stove. Even drinking lactose-free cow's milk or taking lactose-intolerance pills before eating cheese still invites the heart-damaging effects of "doing dairy." There are plenty of good non-dairy calcium sources, including dark-green, leafy vegetables, beans, and fortified orange juice.

    The journal Cardiology reported that "...with the adoption of western lifestyles and diet...heart disease has become relatively common among a number of Native American tribes." With cholesterol levels rising, heart disease ranks as the leading killer of Native Americans, causing more than one-fifth of deaths, according to the U.S. Indian Health Service. (It kills one-third of whites.) For both groups, eating a diet laden with fat and cholesterol is a chief culprit.

    Surviving Despite The Odds...
    Obesity also afflicts Native Americans. A possible reason is a "thrifty" gene that stores fat to carry one through leaner times. But a high-fat, animal-product-centered diet makes this plus a minus. Native Americans on a more traditional diet have a much easier time staying slim. Almost anyone can slim down by dropping animal products, and consuming more beans, whole grains, and exercising regularly.

    Diabetes kills Native Americans at more than triple the overall U.S. rate, according to IHS. Alcohol, tobacco, and an inactive lifestyle heighten risks. But unwise food choices add needless risks. Switching to a plant-food diet, and consuming much less fat than current U.S. Guidelines suggest, can greatly cut diabetes rates. A 1994 study published in Diabetes Care reported that diabetes and obesity are less prevalent among Mexican Pima Indians living a "traditional" lifestyle than among Arizonan Pimas in an "affluent" environment.

    Hollywood Westerns had the typical Native American as a big meat-eater, a "killer of buffalo...and stranger to vegetables," as Choctaw-Cherokee writer Rita Laws put it. Few tribes in what is now the Untied States hunted much (though some fished) before whites came. Hunting went from an exception to a widespread, steady activity after Spanish conqueror Francisco Coronado's 16th century explorations of the U.S. Southwest introduced horses and guns. Earlier, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains were dietary staples for many tribes.

    Real Indian Food
    Iroquois grew 17 varieties of corn, seven types of squashes, and 60 of beans - a trio of major foods called the "three sisters." Captain John Smith, who led the English colony at Jamestown, VA wrote in 1607, "Settlers would have starved if the Indians had not brought corn, squash, and beans to us." The Iroquois gathered 34 wild fruits, 11 nut species, 12 kinds of edible roots, 38 types of bark, six fungi, and maple syrup, their main confections, according to the 1991 reference work The Native Americans. Chippewas and Menominees of the western Great Lakes area relied on wild rice, maple sugar, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, grapes, cherries, nuts, wild onions, and potatoes. Mississippi and Oklahoma Choctaws raised corn, squash, beans, peas, watermelons, sweet potatoes, and fruit trees, and foraged persimmons, plums, hickory nuts, walnuts, pecans, cherries, grapes and mulberries.

    Iroquois Chief Canassatego reportedly said, "There are many things to be shared with the four colors of humanity in our common destiny as one with our Mother the Earth. It is this sharing that must be considered with great care by the Elders and the medicine people who carry the Sacred Trusts, so that no harm may come to people through ignorance and misuse of these powerful forces." Let's hope the rule-makers in Washington remember his 18th century wisdom.

    Neal D. Barnard, M.D., author of Foods That Fight Pain and Eat Right, Live Longer, founded the Washington, D.C.-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in 1985. Derek M. Brown is a writer in Rockville, Maryland. Endorsers of the PCRM's who call for an end to racially biased federal food guidelines include the Association of American Indian Physicians and the National Indian Health Board.

    * Edited excerpts reprinted with permission from the Oklahoma Indian Times, Editors and Publishers: Elizabeth Gray and Jim Gray, P.O. Box 692050, Tulsa, OK 74169 E-mail:

    Language Learning - Fun and Effective

    Alan Taylor and John Campbell developed an effective and amusing way to learn the Cherokee syllabary. Using flash cards and portable games featuring symbols on each of 60 pieces, it's a convenient and enjoyable means to grasp the alphabet. They also authored a book appropriate for youth to learn much about the language and culture. These long-time Cherokee friends plan to relocate to their original home in eastern Tennessee during the summer. We will miss them greatly and do hope they stay in touch. Contact Alan Taylor about the learning materials at

    Copyright © The Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston