Treasures, Treasuries, and Thoughts

I swore I would never do a blog! So much for swearing. I didn't think that I would have much to say or share. I was wrong! I have been so blessed with a wonderful family, loyal friends, sharing colleagues, and the support from so many that I will never run out of topics to write about.

I have opened an on-line store at a place called Etsy (rhymes with Betsy). The items on the left are available for purchase there. These will change from week to week to show you my latest creations. The link to the store is in the upper left corner of this page.

I also have items for sale listed on Art Fire. The link to my Art Fire Studio is

I hope you will visit this blog, my Flickr page ( and my Etsy and/or Art Fire stores often. (

So come along on my Trail of Treasures! It will be a Spirit Journey for me and I invite you to join me on the trip.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Is There To Be No Honor or Respect For Our Ancestors?

Pta Lowansa (Buffalo Singer)
Illustration by Kicking Bear available for purchase at

National Native American Heritage Month for 2010 is growing to a close. The theme for this year’s celebration was “Honor Our Heritage, Respect Our Ancestors”. Once again, our government is demonstrating that our people, living or dead, should not stand in the way of “progress”.

I received this newspaper post via e-mail this morning and am absolutely out-raged!

Will it never stop? Can’t the bones of our ancestors be given a modicum of respect?

Wasn’t it bad enough to remove and re-bury them? Now they can’t even remember where they re-buried them? This is an outragious claim. How can one forget the place of their re-location?

Oh, I forgot…..they are just the bones and teeth of ancient Indians!

Our ancestors mean nothing. After all they took our land, destroyed our culture, demeaned our people while they were living…can we expect more respect for our dead?

Here is the article. You decide.

Tribes angry, Everglades projects halt after workers dig up major burial ground but don't tell

In May 2008, archaeologists began the tedious task of exhuming the remains of Native Americans at a remote site south of Lake Okeechobee and reburying them at another remote site, to make way for a man-made wetland needed to restore the Everglades.

The Miccosukee and Seminole tribes signed off on the project after being told that the archaeologists would carefully and respectfully re-inter the miscellaneous collection of bones and teeth that had been found.

But the more the archaeologists dug, the more they found.

After nearly two years, the tribes learned that what they'd been told were some teeth and bones turned out to be partial remains of 56 men, women and children moved from an ancient burial ground so significant that it would have been eligible for listing on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The Seminoles are angry. They believe they should have been notified immediately when archeologists realized they were dealing with more than isolated bones and teeth. Now the Seminoles want all 901 bones and 245 teeth returned to their original resting place.

"We're not OK with relocating a burial ground," said Tina Osceola, the Seminole Tribe of Florida's Historic Resources Officer. "You're talking about too many individuals and that disturbs the balance between our ancestors and those who are walking today. We want them put back."

The controversy has created a nightmare for the South Florida Water Management District, the agency responsible for the Everglades Restoration.

Construction near the four burial sites has stopped, delaying the vital project at a time when two angry federal judges are demanding the district speed up the cleanup.

Archeologists hired by the district to move the remains have said they may not be able to return them to their original burial sites because they don't know exactly where they reburied them. Even if they can be located, many of the remains could be damaged if moved again.

Returning the remains would mean engineers would have to redraft Everglades restoration plans, to avoid the burial sites or build structures such as berms, to protect the sites from flooding. That means permits must be modified or new permits issued, a process that can take months.

The controversy has further strained relations and eroded trust between the tribe and the agencies involved in restoring the Everglades. The timing could not be worse for the district, as more construction projects are starting in remote areas where more remains and artifacts likely will be discovered and the tribe's cooperation will be needed.

"As far as our confidence level is concerned, I can't say it's been shaken," Osceola said. "I can't say as a tribe we had any confidence in the government to begin with."

The Miccosukee Tribe, which raised the most concern when the project began, has said little about the controversy. The Miccosukee Tribe's lawyer did not return a call for comment.

For now the Seminoles are more concerned with the fate of the remains than assessing blame. They want the remains returned and they want their rules followed:

Flat shovels must be used to scrape the soil until the white sand covering each burial site is exposed. Then, a hand-trowel must be used. To ensure the remains are not mixed, only one burial site at a time can be worked on. The bones should be reburied within two days and the orientation must match the original position. For example, some of the bodies were lying face up,others face down and some on their sides. Most were buried with the head facing east.

"To native people, culture is our religion and spirituality," Osceola said. We have tribal members who are angry, scared and very deeply, deeply concerned with this issue. So much so that during every tribal meeting I am asked to give an update on this."

As for blame, there may be none, at least legally. Janus Research, the archeological firm hired by the district, has complied with the permit it obtained in May 2008 to move the remains. The three agencies involved - the district, Army Corps of Engineers and State Historic Preservation Officers -have said they followed the conditions set forth in a memorandum of agreement signed in December 2008.

During the excavation, weekly conference calls were held between the three agencies and the archeologists about what they had found and the status of the reburials. The tribes were not included, according to notes from the district.

However, in January the archeologists asked for guidance: There were so many remains found at one of the sites that they were faced with the ethical dilemma of whether to preserve the site or continue with removing and reburying the remains.

The agencies notified the tribes about the concerns. Tempers flared. In May, tribal representatives walked out of a meeting with the district, corps and State Division of Historic Resources when discussions focused on what happened and not what will happen, Osceola said.

"Let's come up with solutions and then deal with the blame later," Osceola said. "Until the parties were willing to talk about a solution, we weren't going to come to the table. They are playing by our rules now."

Earlier this week, the tribe escorted officials from the district and corps on a tour of the sites, hoping to educate them about the tribe's traditions and the significance of the remains. The tribe insists the remains be returned and new permits and rules be put in place to ensure that the tribe is contacted throughout the process.

Despite the tribe's demands, it does not have the legal right or final word on what will happen, in the corps' view.

"We're doing everything we can to work with the Seminole Tribe and we take our relationship with the nation very seriously," said Tori White, chief of the corps' regulatory division in Palm Beach Gardens, which is handling the project. "At the end of the day, it's the corps' decision."

Would you be willing to place a bet on what that decision will be? Tori White, have you no shame?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks From Behind Prison Walls

Yesterday, Thanksgiving, Leonard Peltier sent this e-mail from his prison cell.  Unfortunately, I failed to open my e-mails as I was busy preparing food for our family gathering.  But even though it may be a day late as a Thanksgiving reminder, perhaps it will serve to remind us that Thanksgiving should not be relegated to a single day each year if one is free and in good health. 

Here is what Leonard had to say.

Greetings, my relatives.

It seems another year has gone by since the last time we gathered like
this. I say we, although I am not there with you in body, my spirit
certainly is. We have coined this day, a day of mourning, as opposed
to a day of thanksgiving. It's a shame that for the most part
thanksgiving is relegated to only one day. And mourning is something
that relates to unhappy circumstances that have taken place. We
certainly can't change what has happened. This very day is ours and
tomorrow hasn't happened yet and, is uncertain.

I really don't like to dwell on the mourning aspects of life but instead,
on what we can do to prevent those unhappy and sometimes terrible
times in our history.

I may have mentioned it once before but I once read about a
union organizer named Joe Hill that was framed by the copper mine
owners to be executed. And I believe he said what really needs to be
said upon his death. His words were "don't mourn, organize".

And those are also my sentiments.

There are a lot of things that happened in the past that can be
prevented in the future. There are losses that can be regained. But
we must organize to do it. We must find it within ourselves to be in
touch with the Creator for I can tell you from a heartfelt fact that
when they've pushed you away, into a dark corner, not just your body,
but your mind, your soul, your spirit, there is no one that can
sustain you but the Creator himself.

Dark moments come and go in all our lifetimes.
And there are those in political office, who will try
to turn your head away from the obvious truths.
They will lie to you about what they believe.
They will try to get you to follow what they consider politically
correct while ignoring the truth, such as protests against the Mosque
being built within blocks of the fallen Trade towers,
which incidentally was a monument to wealth and wealth

I am not trying to demean the innocent people whose only
cause of their death was seeking a place of employment to feed their

While they protest the Mosque, no one mentions the Native
American sacred places that by treaty are seriously violated daily.
Our Sacred Black Hills of South Dakota, sacred to many tribes, have
the faces of many of our oppressors carved on them.

The place of vision seeking, Bear Butte in South Dakota, sacred to us for
millennia, has a bar built at the foot of it and there is talk of
having helicopter flights around it to attract tourism. And, there is
even talk of drilling for oil and gas.

Every time I have to write or I should say dictate, one of these
statements, I try to think of what I would say if this was the last
time I got to speak. The thing that comes to mind in some of our
sacred ceremonies and that is thoughts of our relationships with the
ones we love and the Creator of all life.

Not to take away from the theme of this day, but if you can hold the person you love,
be thankful.

If you can walk on green grass, touch a tree, be thankful.

If you can breathe air that didn't come through a ventilation system,
or a window with bars, be thankful.

If you can stand in an open field or some other place at night and
look up at the heavens, be thankful.

No one appreciates the simple things as much as a man or woman locked
away. I know sometimes some of my friends may have thought I had
become institutionalized and there may be some element of my thinking
behavior that has become calloused from this continued imprisonment.
But I have not for a moment forgotten the needs of my people and the
atrocities committed against them or the circumstances that all the
poor and impoverished face in this world at the hands of those who
take more than they need and exploit for gain, the futures of our

I paint pictures of them sometimes, people I've known,
People I've met, places I've seen, and places I've only seen in my
minds eye. And if my paintbrush was magical, rest assured I would
paint for myself one open door.

I wrestle with what to say to you and words are sometimes so
inadequate. So if you are free today, un-imprisoned, be thankful.

Give the person next to you a hug for me.
May the Great Spirit bless you always in all ways with the things you need.
May you find joy in doing what is right and righting what is wrong
and seek to be the best example of what a human should be in our lifetime.

In the Spirit of those we mourn, those who gave their lives and those
whose lives were taken from them.  I really don't know what else to say
because in writing this, my heart has become heavy with the emotions of this time.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, who gave his life for what was right and
tried to right what was wrong.

Your Brother,
Leonard Peltier

Free Leonard.  It is the right thing to do!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Little Thanksgiving Request

As many of you know, I have the distinct honor and priviledge of  beading bracelets from the logo of Eve's Fund.   Eve’s Fund is a Native American Health Initiatives Inc. that promotes programs to help Native Americans. It was established in 2005 by Dr. Robert M. Crowell, a retired neurosurgeon and named in memory of his daughter, Eve Erin Crowell, who died tragically in February of that year. Eve’s Fund is a
non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization incorporated in New Mexico.

While I support this organization year round, I actively solicit donations for the children’s literacy program during November. It is a part of my personal celebration of National Native American Heritage Month and a way of expressing my thankfulness for the blessings of literacy. Literacy is taken for granted by most of us.

Last year, Eve’s Fund’s website posted an article that got my full and undivided attention. It reminded me of all that I have to be thankful for.  I was shocked by the fact that there are so many Native children who do not own a single book of their own!

Can you imagine your growing up without owning a single book? Can you imagine your Grandchildren not owning a single book? But it is true that there are many Native children who don't have the luxury of book ownership. I find this fact to be very sad and I am so thankful that Eve's Fund is playing an active role in promoting literacy by providing children with books of their very own.

This year, Eve’s Fund has partnered with Betty Metz. Betty Metz is a remarkable person and the founder of Books-a-Go Go. Betty’s organization is a not-for-profit group that gives away books to needy kids. Fortunately, for Eve’s Fund, Betty has pledged to donate books to Navajo children. In May of 2009, the first shipment of 2,000 books arrived at Red Mesa Arizona. Now, a year later, Books-a-Go Go has donated another 3,200 books (2,600 pounds worth) to Navajo schools in New Mexico and Arizona. As Betty says, “it’s all for the kids,” and she has certainly touched a great many of them. Betty’s mission is to give books to children from low-income families and thus pave the way to education and more fulfilling lives.

For a mere $5.00 donation, Eve's Fund will ship a book to each of five Native children.

Remembering the pleasures of reading books to my three grandchildren and in purchasing books for them, this morning I decided to have 15 books shipped to 15 Native children in the names of my three grandchildren.

We take so much for granted!  We forget how blessed we are that someone taught us to read!  We had our very own books!  And even in these troubled economic times, we can a difference with even a modest donation. 

If you would like to make a similar Thanksgiving gift in the names of your children or grandchildren, it is very simple. Go to this site.

There are several options as to how you can help.  Click on "Donate".
You can designate the way you want your donation to be applied.  In the purpose, I wrote "Ship 15 books in the names of Sydney, Mason, and Olivia Stinson."  You can pay with Paypal.

Or if you prefer, you can send a check to:
Eve’s Fund/ThinkFirst Navajo
c/o Robert M. Crowell, MD, President
180 Elm Street, Suite 1, PMB 168
Pittsfield, MA 01201

What a simple way to give "Thanks" for all the pleasure books have given you over the years and to provide that experience for another child. Won’t you join me in giving at least five children the pleasure of book ownership this Thanksgiving?