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?


Imaginuity said...

This is so very, very sad - and it is truly an outrage, Joni. The arrogance and disrespect is appalling.

jstinson said...

Imaginuity...thank you for your comment. I appreciate it and agree with your appraisal 100%!

(Karen) Lisa Daley said...

I can't believe what I just read. Prayers and Reiki healing will be sent daily to the Everglades and the Seminole people for as long as needed.

Brett said...

I am just beside myself with grief and sadness. I just don't understand what this persecution is all about? Why can't white people get it???? They continue to disrespect, destroy and demolish a culture that is not only beautiful, but is deeply set in spiritual traditions. Just because they don't have that, doesn't mean they have the right to abolish others' especially the Native Americans. This sickens me beyond belief.
I'm just waiting for them to start moving Native Americans out of the Reservations so that they have room to build their disgusting cookie cutter developments. As outrageous as that may sound to some, they will find a way to do that.

Julie G. said...

It is very sad what the American Indians had to suffer at the hands of my ancestors. Native American Indians have such beautiful traditions, customs, talents, etc. Here in S. Tx. they are very careful and respectful of all burial areas. But the NAI have to constantly be 'on top of it' or I fear things would not be done properly and respectfully.

Whimsical Jewels said... very sad. Everyone said what I would have.

Night Owl Market said...

I am not surprised - this is another part of the government's plan for forced assimilation and their hope that the original occupants of this land will be forgotten. The federal government will not stop until native people are completely 'assimilated' and the reservations have been consumed by the white government. The government is just waiting until there are no more full-bloods then they will say there are no more Indians.

jstinson said...

To all my friends who have posted here: I thank you. However, it is probably singing to the choir. The people who need to be aware and have their eyes opened will probably never read this or even know that this disregard and/or disrespect continues on. I weep.

DancingWindDesigns said...

I wish I could say that this surprises me, but it doesn't. Nothing gets in the way of progress-not even ancient remains. It's one thing to relocate the remains, but to forget where they relocated them is unforgivable. Makes me wonder if they truly did relocate them or if they just pitched them into the swamp someplace. What goes around comes around.

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