Tuesday, May 17, 2005

KU Negotiating with Tribes to return remains

KU negotiating with tribes to return remains

By Terry Rombeck, Journal-World

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The fate of 168 sets of American Indian remains housed at Kansas University could be decided as soon as the end of this year.

KU and other state entities, including Kansas State University, Wichita State University and the Kansas State Historical Society, previously returned remains that were culturally identifiable to the respective tribes under the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

But KU still has 168 sets of remains that were found over the years within the state of Kansas but can't be identified by tribe.

The university has been negotiating the return of those bones to 14 tribes who historically were found in Kansas. Representatives of the historical society, WSU and KSU also are involved in the same negotiation process for remains found at their sites.

Mary Lee Hummert, associate vice provost for research at KU, said she thought that final approval from the 14 tribes for returning the sets of remains could come by the end of this year.

After that, the memorandum of agreement would need to be approved by the federal government.

"We'd like to see this resolved as quickly as possible," she said. "It's a high priority for us."

James Riding In, an Arizona State University professor who was involved with the Pawnee nation's negotiations with KU, said once the memorandum is signed, the university would hand over the remains to the 14 tribes.

"The tribes would decide the disposition of the remains," he said.

One possibility, he said, would be a joint ceremony to reinter the remains

LJWorld.com : KU negotiating with tribes to return remains

Students 'depressed' by state of American Indian artifacts

Students 'depressed' by state of American Indian artifacts

By Terry Rombeck, Journal-World

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Carla Feathers says she often leaves the American Indian collections at Kansas University feeling depressed.

Some of the more than 5,000 artifacts in the collection are shoved into boxes. Items from tribes that were historically enemy tribes are sometimes placed next to each other, which some believe disrupts the spirits of the items. The collections generally aren't taken out for fresh air or for special ceremonies, as is custom in American Indian cultures.

"The items haven't been cared for," said Feathers, a graduate student who is Pawnee and Cherokee. "It's really saddening. All of us leave (the collection) feeling really bad. Most of us have a personal connection to the items."

Feathers and a group of fellow graduate students have started a campaign to improve conditions of KU's anthropology collections. They're hoping KU will step up its care for the American Indian collection, and for about 4,800 artifacts representing cultures in other parts of the world. In some cases, they say the items are too sensitive for the university to even keep in its collections.

Consultant help

The collections are now considered part of the "anthropology research and curation resource." They were the basis for the Museum of Anthropology, located in Spooner Hall, until the university closed the museum in 2002, citing budget concerns. The items are open to classes and researchers, but not to the public.

The students contend the university has considered selling all or some of the collections. University officials say while that may have been discussed after the museum closed, that possibility is no longer on the table.

Through the budget cuts, the number of people on staff to care for the artifacts -- which are housed in Spooner and Fraser halls -- fell from seven to one full-time position and one half-time position.



"The collections are all intact," said Mary Adair, the museum's interim director. "Donors have been very concerned about the status of materials. We're caring for them to the best of our ability. Obviously, we have limited resources."

But the graduate students, who are involved in the Center for Indigenous Nations Studies and the museum studies programs, say that's not good enough. For instance, they say, items in acidic wooden boxes should be transferred to metal boxes so they don't decay.

They're asking KU to increase its funding for the collection's upkeep. Ultimately, the group would like the items to be opened to the public again through public exhibition space.

The students say many of the items in the collection aren't properly identified, making care even more difficult. They'd like to bring in a group of tribal consultants to the collection to help identify the items.

"Just one Indian isn't going to know everything," said Jancita Warrington of Keshena, Wis., a member of the Menominee and Prairie Band Potawatomi tribes. "We're trying to bring in various consultants."

They're applying for grant funding from the Kansas Humanities Council, tribes and private foundations, but some granting agencies require the collection be tied to a museum that's open to the public.

‘Living objects'

If there are items that are identified by the consultants as especially sensitive for the tribes or have particular cultural value -- such as ghost dance shirts, eagle feathers or war bonnets -- Warrington said the items shouldn't be in KU's collections.

"The more ceremonial items we want returned to the tribes," she said. "They're not meant to be in a museum."

At the very least, the students say, some items should be taken out for fresh air and for a smudging ceremony, which cleanses objects of negative energies or spirits.

"It's very sacred stuff that's up there, to these tribes," said Johnny Williams, a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe from Mayetta. "They're not dead objects. They're living."

To spread the word about their concerns, the students have organized several panel discussions at KU and Haskell Indian Nations University this semester about the collection.




KU response

KU administrators say they're aware of the concerns over the American Indian collections.

"If any student would find an item in the collection that was not being properly stored or needed some particular treatment, they should definitely inform the interim director," said Mary Lee Hummert, associate vice provost for research. "We're very much aware of the fragile nature of the items."

But Hummert said she wasn't sure whether the university would volunteer to return items to tribes. Some items that are used for ongoing ceremonies or for funeral ceremonies, for example, must be returned to the tribes under the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

"We'd probably have to talk about a specific case," Hummert said. "We take very seriously our responsibility in relationship to artifacts and recognize the need for cultural sensitivity."

Hummert said there were currently no plans to re-open the collection or increase funding for upkeep.

Common problem

James Riding In, a professor at Arizona State University and an expert in American Indian collections, said conflicts over American Indian artifacts were not uncommon at universities.

Riding In, a member of the Pawnee nation, said returning culturally sensitive items to tribes may be difficult for several reasons. First, he said, the tribal leaders may be reluctant to provide details about traditional tribal ceremonies. Second, travel is an obstacle.

"Despite the myth that all Indians are gaming-rich, many lack resources to send people to these institutions to look at the items," he said.

Still, he said he applauded the students for becoming advocates for the artifacts. He said he hoped the university could find a way to make certain items available to more of the public for teaching purposes.

"I applaud them for showing their interest," he said. "The students saw the deep, rich, cultural significance of those items."


LJWorld.com : Students 'depressed' by state of American Indian artifacts

Man's Own Inhumanity to Man

Man’s Own Inhumanity to Man


There is no wound deeper than that made by a friend.

The heart shatters into pieces, too broken up to mend.

Trust is such a fragile thing,

Like fine spun glass it shatters,

And what is left is a life undone,

Where hurt is all that matters.

I look around and see

Empty hearts with broken dreams,

And empty eyes with sadness look

Into my heart and scream.

Pain in every corner in every single heart,

Tho most remains unspoken, it is hidden just in part.

For every single heart

Has shed its many tears,

And every single life knows

A multitude of fears.

And every single heartache

Has left its mortal scar,

And changed the life it wounded

As if it were at war.

So be kind unto your neighbor.

Look at his motives well.

For his actions are determined

By his own amount of hell.

And in love…..

Be gentle……


For the Only true insanity…

              Is man’s own inhumanity to man.

Written by CheyFire

Sept 1986


Sunday, May 15, 2005

What's in a name?

I very rarely just free text articles but I want to this time. I am in a process of learning the way of the Native American ... and at times I am so humbled and ashamed to speak of  Native traditions and rituals as if I know them so well or have any wisdom. Please know that I have neither.



Although my grandmother was beautiful and full blooded Seminole, I am hesitant when I write because I truly know so little.  I have tried to remember the things that she taught me and read everything that I can and I try to share whatever I find and I try to always give the site links so that others can read them.



There are so many "wanna be's" and new agers that twist and turn and pervert the Native way of life. I do not think you can "learn" the Native "way." It is not just a way of doing things, or performing rituals or reciting words for ceremonies.  It is not just that you have a love for the people or can build a sweat lodge or grow herbs to be used for healing.



I think it is a position of heart and spirit and soul that resides in the very bone and marrow of the one of Native blood.



I have been  humbled lately, making the very same mistakes other "white" men do. ((I stand in error myself when I called the Inuit people of Alaska "Eskimo's.")) 



I have so much to learn and I am so hungry to learn. The information that I obtain and attempt to share are things that I find on the Internet and so often the information is ... at best .... a blend of Native traditions, wicca, occult, and New Age philosophy with white men adding on their own two cents worth full of rituals. The news articles are for information and learning as well.



I have so much respect for the heritage and culture. I have so much respect for my grandmother. 



 Wildchildspirit  is correct in that the word Shaman is a term with it's descent from the Russia and it is not one used by any Native tribe that I am aware of.  It is a foreign word also used for witch doctors and other practitioners that walk "spiritual" pathways different from the traditional "Christian" anglo saxon one.



She is also very much correct that true Medicine men do not call themselves Shamans. Native people who practice the art of healing, balance, and wholeness do not give themselves any  title. It would be against the Native nature to boast and "label" oneself.



I have never met a true healer who even decided he would grow up and "be" a medicine man as the outside world decides a profession.



The true healer lives and walks a path of humility and honor; where  lifestyle reflects character.  Often their words are few and weighed by truth and proven over time. The truest leader leads by example, not by force or a sense of entitlement, and he is known by his works, not by the rituals he can recite or expound.


People will seek out the healer for he is known to be a  man of integrity in touch with the world and Mother Earth and the Creator.


Forgive me when I share things that are not entirely correct and help me to share the right information. Thank you to those who are teaching me.