Russell Means, activist/advocate for Indian rights, has died

Russell Means, the Oglala Lakota Indian (Means said the designation "Sioux" was derogatory) whose controversial political activism on behalf of America's Indian tribes first became headlines in the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, died today on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Born on Pine Ridge in 1939, Means' transfer to a nearly all-white California high school resulted in daily relentless bullying. First Means fought back, then he fell into alcohol and substance abuse for several years before getting his footing in 1969 at the American Indian Center in Cleveland, OH. It was in Ohio that Means met Dennis Banks, co-founder of the new American Indian Movement.

In 1972, Means and other prominent Indian activists organized a mass demonstration on Washington, D.C. to coincide with the election. The housing they were promised by the Department of Interior was rat-iinfested and overcrowded so the demonstrators took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs and renamed it the Native American Embassy.They were evicted four days later when they were promised that investigations of programs that were supposed to help Indians would take place.

Three months later, Means and 200 armed supporters began a 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee where, in 1890, the U.S. military massacred more than 300 men, women, and children of the Sioux/Lakota tribe.Several weeks later, Means went to Washington, D.C. to try to broker an end to the siege. He was arrested and jailed when he rejected the unconditional surrender offer. The remaining protesters surrendered on May 8th, 1973. Means and other principles talked about this action in the 2005 documentary Wounded Heart: Pine Ridge and the Sioux.

His 1974 trial for his role in Wounded Knee ended after seven months when the Judge dismissed all charges after it was revealed that a member of Means' own defense team was an FBI informant who supplied information to the prosecution.

In 1994, Means sought the limelight on the silver screen. He played Chingachgook in the 1992 move, The Last of the Mohicans. Means' autobiography, Where White Men Fear to Tread: The Autobiography of Russell Means, was published in 1995. He used this venue to rail against the term 'Native Americans' and the whole notion of Native American Heritage Month.

Means was just a few weeks shy of his 73rd when he died of esophegeal cancer.

Going to the PowWow?

If this weekend's Dance For Mother Earth Pow Wow inspires you, check out the CD More Kid's Pow Wow Songs. The Library also has many other recordings of Native American music.

You can read a story about a young Jingle Dancer in this book by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Or, try the photo essay, Pow Wow by George Ancona, and Pow Wow: A Good Day to Dance by Jacqueline Dembar Greene.

Cloudwalker; Contemporary Native American Stories is a collection of six short stories about modern Native American children's lives and how they blend traditional Native culture with mainstream American culture. Children of Native America Today is a photo essay featuring 25 of the more than 500 native cultures of the U.S. as well as a section on urban Indians.

This year's Dance For Mother Earth is the 40th annual Pow Wow at U.M. Here's a link to articles and photographs from past Pow Wows.

This weekend is the 40th Dance for Mother Earth Powwow

Ann Arbor's Dance for Mother Earth Powwow celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend at Pioneer High School. The Powwow, hosted by the U-M Native American Student Association (NASA), is one of the largest university powwows in the nation. We've added to Oldnews some of the articles and photographs from past powwows that we found in our Ann Arbor News archive.

Grand entry is at noon and 7:00 p.m. Saturday, March 17, and noon on Sunday, March 18. Learn what to expect if you're a first-time attendee. For more information, visit www.umich.edu/~powwow.

This Week In Booklists

Significant Dates for the Week of September 18-24

On Wednesday September 21st put on your best tie-dye for International Peace Day!

On Friday September 23rd be ready for a twofer because it is both:
Native American Day- Get ready by reading up on Native American history and lore.
And
The Autumnal Equinox- Celebrate that Fall is finally here with some fun reads on the season and its most important harvest.

Great Listening: Sherman Alexie reading his young adult novel

The best part of the AADL Summer Reading Game for me was listening to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie who narrates the BOCD. I love Alexie’s teenage-sounding voice as he assumes the role of his character, 14-year-old Arnold Spirit, a Spokane Indian and the star of this semi-autobiographical novel. Arnold, who was born with water on the brain and is bullied on the reservation, loves to draw and says this about his cartoons: “I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny lifeboats.“ When Arnold transfers from the reservation school to the white high school in a nearby town -- that is when I started driving longer routes and hoping for more red lights, so I could hear more of the story on my car CD player before arriving at my destination.

Take Part in Art -- Petroglyphs and Cave Painting

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Humanity has been engaged in making art for a long, long time. Some of the oldest surviving art in the world can be found carved or painted onto the rocks near where our ancestors once lived. This month's Art Center display focuses on this ancient and long-lived art form.

Of course, you can come to the downtown library and enjoy our display in person, but there are lots of ways to join in at home:

1. Read all about it -- The library has some great books about rock art. For children, we have Painters of the Caves by Patricia Lauber, describing the Chauvet Cave paintings; Native American Rock Art: Messages From the Past by Yvette LaPierre; and Stories in Stone: Rock Art Pictures by Early Americans by Caroline Arnold. Adults can read up on rock art in African Rock Art: Paintings and Engravings on Stone by David Coulson and World Rock Art by Jean Clottes.

2. Take a hike -- Michigan has its own Native American rock art -- the Sanilac Petroglyphs. This site will be open to the public starting May 20th, but you can get in early by purchasing a Use Permit, if you desire. Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park also includes a one-mile hiking trail, open year round.

3. Make your own -- These days, not many people live next to dramatic cliffs and caves they can paint and carve on, but there are ways for the modern, urban human to get that cave art experience. Scholastic, Incredible Art, HotChalk, Education World and Education.com all provide wonderful mini-lessons and activities that you can do at home with some paper, crayons, chalk, sandpaper and -- the most affordable time machine on the market -- imagination.

Youth Magazine Update -- Take Me Out...

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...To the ball game! This month's Youth Magazine Update focuses on America's classic sport, baseball.

Sports Illustrated Kids brings you their 2010 Baseball Preview. This jam-packed issue has overviews of the American League and National League teams, an article on the best defense players, and a feature article on American League MVP Joe Mauer.

Faces Magazine explores Chicago baseball, along with other excellent elements of the Midwest, like the American Bison, the Mississippi River, and the world's largest goose. Also in this issue is "The Legend of the Moccasin Flower" -- an Ojibwe folktale.

If the ball game isn't far enough for you, you could always try outer space! The current issue of Odyssey Magazine is all about space -- with ideas for a moon base, articles on the moons of our solar system, and a short story about life on Saturn's moon, Titan -- can Alan survive a solo flight back to base? Read and find out!

Buffy Sainte-Marie

I decided to take a closer look at the Native American and Canadian folk artist, Buffy Sainte-Marie after reading a recent article about her in the October/November issue of BUST Magazine. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with her music after checking out a copy of The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie from the library. Favorites include, “He’s a Keeper of the Fire,” “Better to Find Out for Yourself,” “Cod'ine” and a nice cover of Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s musical career began in the early 1960s and her signature song might very well be the anthem, “Universal Solder” – a song inspired by the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. (She would later find out that she was blacklisted from radio airwaves because she was so outspoken about the peace movement in the U.S., as well as Native American issues). Later in 1982, Buffy received an Academy Award for her song, “Up Where We Belong”, which was featured in the film An Officer and a Gentleman, and performed by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes. And her career has not been limited to just music! She has made several television and film appearances, and in 1975, even joined the cast of Sesame Steet. She made television history in one particular episode by breastfeeding her son and explaining it to Big Bird. Buffy Sainte-Marie is also a digital artist and philanthropist, and has operated the non-profit Nihewan Foundation for Native American Education since 1969. What a talented lady!

The Three Fires Confederacy: Native Americans of Michigan

Learn about the three historic Native American groups in Michigan: Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Ottawa at a talk by Margaret Noori on Wed., Jan. 6 at the Downtown Library. As we begin the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2010, we look at the early residents who speak the Anishinaabe language and formed a unique identity on the beautiful waters of Chigaming and the land of Michigan. What is the impact of their early culture on Michigan today? Where are the federally recognized Indian reservations and how is the language being passed on today?

Join us to learn more about the history of Michigan's Native American cultures at 7 pm on Wednesday, January 6 at the Downtown Library.

Representing Native Americans

Stereotypes of Native Americans have evolved over the centuries of European occupation of the Americas. Images linked with this thinking have influenced segments of life such as sports, education, language, film and religion. Why do we persist in viewing Native Americans in such limited terms? Please join us at the Downtown Library (4th floor) on Sat., Nov. 14, 2-4 pm for Representing Native Americans, where a panel of cultural leaders will spark some conversation about this complex issue.

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