Octogenarian Preserved An Endangered Native American Language (language)

How An Octogenarian Preserved An Endangered Native American Language


Jordan Kushins
Yesterday 8:30pm

It's easy to take translations for granted when Google can swap between Albanian and Zulu with the click of a button, but even that tech has real world limitations. Marie Wilcox is the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni, one of 130 different endangered Native American languages in the United States that don't have any kind of digital—or analog—legacy.

Over the course of seven years in California's San Joaquin Valley, she worked with her daughter and grandson to catalog everything she knows about the language. First, she hand-scrawled memories on scraps of paper; then, she hunt-and-pecked on an old keyboard to complete a dictionary and type out legends like "How We Got Our Hands." Next, she recorded the whole thing on audio for pronunciation—it's very specific!—and posterity.

Access full article 
​and video clip ​
below:

http://gizmodo.com/how-an-81-year-old-woman-preserved-an-endangered-native-1639334577 

Cultural Exchange or Cultural Appropriation

http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/09/cultural-exchange-and-cultural-appropriation/ 

Cultural appropriation is a term that isn’t often heard in daily conversation, which means it’s inevitably misunderstood by those who feel attacked by feminists, sociologically-informed bloggers, and others who use the term.

Many a white person sporting dreadlocks or a bindi online has taken cultural appropriation to mean the policing of what white people can or can’t wear and enjoy.

Having considered their fashion choices a form of personal expression, some may feel unfairly targeted for simply dressing and acting in a way that feels comfortable for them.

The same can be said for those who find criticisms of the Harlem Shake meme and whatever it is Miley Cyrus did last month to be an obnoxious form of hipsterdom – just because something has origins in black culture, they say, doesn’t mean white artists can’t emulate and enjoy it.

And then there are people who believe that everything is cultural appropriation – from the passing around of gun powder to the worldwide popularity of tea.

They’re tired of certain forms of cultural appropriation – like models in Native American headdressesbeing labeled as problematic while many of us are gorging on Chipotle burritos, doing yoga, and popping sushi into our mouths with chopsticks.

They have a point.

Where do we draw the line between “appropriate” forms of cultural exchange and more damaging patterns of cultural appropriation?

To be honest, I don’t know that there is a thin, straight line between them.

But even if the line between exchange and appropriation bends, twists, and loop-de-loops in ways it would take decades of academic thought to unpack, it has a definite starting point: Respect.

What Cultural Exchange Is Not

One of the reasons that cultural appropriation is a hard concept to grasp for so many is that Westerners are used to pressing their own culture onto others and taking what they want in return.

We tend to think of this as cultural exchange when really, it’s no more an exchange than pressuring your neighbors to adopt your ideals while stealing their family heirlooms.

True cultural exchange is not the process of “Here’s my culture, I’ll have some of yours” that we sometimes think it is. It’s something that should be mutual.

Just because Indian Americans wear business suits doesn’t mean all Americans own bindis and saris. Just because some black Americans straighten their hair doesn’t mean all Americans own dreadlocks.

The fact is, Western culture invites and, at times, demands assimilation. Not every culture has chosen to open itself up to being adopted by outsiders in the same way.

And there’s good reason for that.

“Ethnic” clothes and hairstyles are still stigmatized as unprofessional, “cultural” foods are treated as exotic past times, and the vernacular of people of color is ridiculed and demeaned.

So there is an unequal exchange between Western culture – an all-consuming mishmash of over-simplified and sellable foreign influences with a dash each of Coke and Pepsi – and marginalized cultures.

People of all cultures wear business suits and collared shirts to survive. But when one is of the dominant culture, adopting the clothing, food, or slang of other cultures has nothing to do with survival.

So as free as people should be to wear whatever hair and clothing they enjoy, using someone else’s cultural symbols to satisfy a personal need for self-expression is an exercise in privilege.

Because for those of us who have felt forced and pressured to change the way we look, behave, and speak just to earn enough respect to stay employed and safe, our modes of self-expression are still limited.

African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is consistently treated as lesser than Standard English, but people whitewash black slang and use expressions they barely understand as punch lines, or to make themselves seem cool.

People shirk “ethnic” clothes in corporate culture, but wear bastardized versions of them on Halloween.

There is no exchange, understanding, or respect in such cases – only taking.

What Cultural Exchange Can Look Like

That doesn’t mean that cultural exchange never happens, or that we can never partake in one another’s cultures. But there needs to be some element of mutual understanding, equality, and respect for it to be a true exchange.

I remember that at my sister’s wedding, the groom – who happened to be white – changed midway through the ceremony along with my sister into modern, but fairly traditional, Nigerian clothes.

Even though some family members found it amusing, there was never any undertone of the clothes being treated as a costume or “experience” for a white person to enjoy for a little bit and discard later. He was invited – both as a new family member and a guest – to engage our culture in this way.

If he had been obnoxious about it – treated it as exotic or weird or pretended he now understood what it means to be Nigerian and refused to wear Western clothes ever again – the experience would have been more appropriative.

But instead, he wore them from a place of respect.

That’s what cultural exchange can look like – engaging with a culture as a respectful and humble guest, invitation only.

Don’t overstay your welcome. Don’t pretend to be a part of the household. Don’t make yourself out to be an honored guest whom the householders should be grateful to entertain and educate for hours on end.

Don’t ask a bunch of personal questions or make light of something that’s clearly a sore spot. Just act like any polite house guest would by being attentive and knowing your boundaries.

If, instead, you try to approach another culture as a mooch, busybody, or interloper, you will be shown the door. It’s that simple.

Well, maybe not as simple when you move beyond the metaphor and into the real world. If you’re from a so-called melting pot nation, you know what’s it’s like to be a perpetual couch surfer moving through the domains of many cultures.

Where Defining Cultural Appropriation Gets Messy

Is the Asian fusion takeout I order every week culturally appropriative? Even though I’m Black, is wearing dreadlocks appropriating forms of religious expression that really don’t belong to me?

Is meditating cultural appropriation? Is Western yoga appropriation? Is eating a burrito, cosplaying, being truly fascinated by another culture, decorating with Shoji screens, or wearing a headscarf cultural appropriation?

There are so many things that have been chopped up, recolored, and tossed together to make up Western culture that even when we know things are appropriative in some way, we find them hard to let go of.

And then there are the things that have been freely shared by other cultures – Buddhism for example – that have been both respected and bastardized at different turns in the process of exchange.

At times, well-meaning people who struggle with their own appropriative behavior turn to textbooks, online comment boards, Google, and Tumblr ask boxes in search of a clear cut answer to the question, “Is this [insert pop culture thing, hairstyle, tattoo, or personal behavior here] cultural appropriation?”

That’s a question we have to educate ourselves enough to, if not answer, think critically about.

We have a responsibility to listen to people of marginalized cultures, understand as much as possible the blatant and subtle ways in which their cultures have been appropriated and exploited, and educate ourselves enough to make informed choices when it comes to engaging with people of other cultures.

So if you’re reading this and you’re tired of people giving white women wearing bindis crap for appropriating because “freedom of speech,” recognize that pointing out cultural appropriation is not personal.

This isn’t a matter of telling people what to wear. It’s a matter of telling people that they don’t wear things in a vacuum and there are many social and historical implications to treating marginalized cultures like costumes.

It’s also not a matter of ignoring “real” issues in favor of criticizing the missteps of a few hipsters, fashion magazines, or baseball teams.

Cultural appropriation is itself a real issue because it demonstrates the imbalance of power that still remains between cultures that have been colonized and the ex-colonizers.

***

Regardless, this is not an article asking you to over-analyze everything you do and wrack yourself with guilt.

Because honestly, no one cares about your guilt, no one cares about your hurt feelings, and no one cares about your clothes or hair when they’re pointing out cultural appropriation.

When someone’s behavior is labeled culturally appropriative, it’s usually not about that specific person being horrible and evil.

It’s about a centuries’ old pattern of taking, stealing, exploiting, and misunderstanding the history and symbols that are meaningful to people of marginalized cultures.

The intentions of the inadvertent appropriator are irrelevant in this context.

Therefore, what this article is asking you to do is educate yourself, listen, and be open to reexamining the symbols you use without thinking, the cultures you engage with without understanding, and the historical and social climate we all need to be seeing.

This Indian Does Not Owe You (arts)

Just because you’re curious about my ancestry, my beliefs, and my experiences doesn’t mean I owe you answers.

I am here before you, a living Indian, upright and animated, full of blood. I am a young Cowlitz woman, not one of the dead chiefs flattened into history books. I have come to expect that you may want to know what an Indian knows and feels; you may want to unroll before me your knowledge about Indian wars or toss out a fun fact about totem poles — conversational niceties, perhaps, attempts at connection. Fair enough. Know, though, if I have no response, it is because I have only a few inches of innards left to pull out for examination. I must place some limits so that I might keep myself intact.

I do not owe you a complete breakdown of my ancestry. I do not keep a blood quantum chart sketched out on my palm like crib notes for an exam. I do not have to tell you where my mother was born or what substance forms my father. I don’t have to justify the place of my birth, necessarily off-reservation because my tribe has none, all of our land taken from us. I cannot stop you when your gaze searches my face, gouges out my eyes, and roughs up my cheekbones, but I don’t have to respond when you offer your assessment. I don’t measure my blood in pints and quarts, and I will not spill it at my feet for you.

I do not owe you my assistance with your search for the Indians you’re sure you’ll find buried somewhere in your ancestry, the ones from tribes and places you can’t name, specters skittering between generations, a rumor or a wish.

I do not owe you the names of those you call “shamans,” and I will tell you I don’t know where to find any, but when you ask me if it’s all a bunch of hocus-pocus, despite every urge to bundle up all my secrets and send you away with nothing, I will spit back at your slap, “Of course that’s real.”

When you refuse to copy down the contact information for the museum that will work to repatriate the “ancient Indian artifacts” you say you got for a steal at a yard sale, do not be surprised when I say I know no galleries that might offer up cash for your goods. I do not owe you advice on how to sell the bones you dug out of your garden.

I do not owe you the long hair that confirms your expectations or the short hair that defies them. I do not have to let you touch it. I don’t even have to let you witness it. And yet you do see it: the hair that was two inches long when I came to this place where every woman in line before me was born; the hair that has grown as long as it can, skimming my waist; the hair that is getting limp under the weight of trying to insist upon what my pale scalp cannot.

When you quiz me on genocide highlights — Were those smallpox blankets real? I’ve always wondered about that — to sate your hunger for facts, I do not owe you a free education of the kind that my university students pay for, and I am not so flattered by your interest in my people that I might unfurl a lecture on 500 years of colonization for your edification. I don’t owe you commentary, desk punditry, or afternoon anger. I don’t want to let you play devil’s advocate over casinos or feed you arguments about team names that you can pull out at happy hour. But I won’t tell you, either, about the burn that runs up my spine: the rape of Native women from sea to sea, from the first metal clash of conquest to each passing second. In the U.S., 1 in 3 Native women have been raped or have experienced attempted rape. When you are in a room with me, know that I am one raped woman. And though I owe you nothing, I’ve been broken into, broken down, and broken in over time. If you are a stranger in my otherwise empty office at the end of the day, I just might give you leads tracking down the Indian enrollment card you’ve been coveting if it gets you to leave.

I am not here to weigh in on the authenticity of that sweat lodge–retreat weekend you paid for in the ’90s. I am not invested in your personal search for meaning, but I was raised to treat others as I want to be treated. How I want to be treated: not like a cabinet full of curiosities. Not like a magic lady who waves her hands over your wounds and heals you of your ignorance. You can keep your wounds; I keep mine.

I do not owe you gratitude for your love of “our” ways, “our” art, “our” peaceful nature. Love is not consumption; love is generous, love is action, and violated bodies and homelands can do nothing with unfocused appreciation. Whether you’re learning your new fact for the day or admiring the print on my office wall, you have the privilege of consuming and walking away. You can discard the printouts from my website you brought to my office after you leave with what you came for: a look at what Irish, French, Ukrainian, and Indian looks like. You can scroll across the blip on your Facebook feed about the overrepresentation of aboriginal women among totals of murdered and missing women in Canada. Even if you think it’s a tragedy, you can click the X and walk away. Whether you believe it or not, I’m Indian every day.

When you tell me that if you had been alive back then, you would’ve done something, I don’t disagree. But I don’t say that I know that it’s true; you might have done something, but maybe not what you’d like to think you’d do. When you tell me that it’s too bad we were all annihilated, I owe you nothing, but still, I am giving you more knowledge than you deserve when I say, “I can’t help you.”

Photograph by Wendy Red Star: “Walks in the Dark” (Thunder Up Above series), 2011, 44 × 31 inches, archival pigment print on paper.

Making Money Stretch @ College (info)

It might seem weird to think of businesses vying for the attention of college kids — after all, students aren’t exactly flush with cash.

But businesses know that getting on your good side as you’re gaining your independence can result in a lot of money for them over time, starting in just a few years when you graduate, get your first full-time salary, and figure out how to manage your finances on your own. Plus, college students are tech-savvy and love social media, which makes them an asset for businesses.

Savvy execs know how to get your attention: discounts. So grab your student ID and your .edu email address and check out the many deals reserved just for students.

Entertainment

1. Movie Tickets

Movie theatre chains that offer student discounts include AMC Theatres (discounts on Thursdays), Cinemark (discounts vary by location) and Marcus Theatres ($5 Thursdays) — but independent theatres often have student discounts, too. Just call and ask.

2. The Arts

Students get discounted access to museums, including major ones such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Want to splurge on an evening at the opera, symphony, theatre or ballet? These organizations likely offer discounts, too, so make sure to check before you buy tickets.

3. Professional Sports

Some pro sports teams offer special student rates, or offer them on certain dates. Check their web sites for promotions before you go.Also, download some of these apps that help you save moneyon ticket purchases — they’re not student deals, but compare to see which discount saves you more cash.

Computers, Software and Education Stuff

4. Hardware

AppleMicrosoftDellSonyBest BuyHP and Lenovo all offer student discounts on their equipment, so there’s no reason to pay full price. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!)

5. Software

If you need software, you’ll probably get a great deal at your campus bookstore. (Here’s an example of what those deals might look like.)

6. News

Students can save on digital and print subscriptions to newspapers and magazines such as The EconomistThe New York Times and the The Wall Street Journal.

7. Textbooks

Even as ebooks and tablets become the norm, plenty of your classes still require old-school, physical textbooks. Plenty of websites help you find great deals on used textbooks and re-sell your own when you’re finished. Barnes & Noble even has a textbook rental program.

Travel and Transportation

8. Lodging and Airfare

If you’re planning lots of travel during your college years, consider getting a student ID or student discount card (but remember, you can always try to use your regular student ID). Also, check out these websites that offer airfare and hotel discounts to students.

9. Car Rentals

Show your student ID at major car rental dealers such as BudgetAvis and Hertz to get up to 20% off (although some age restrictions may apply).

10. Buses, Trains and Planes

Amtrak and Greyhound offer student discounts (although the Greyhound discount requires the purchase of a Student Advantage card). Some public transit authorities, such as the MTA in Chicago, also offer reduced rates for students. If you’re planning a trip across Europe, a Eurailtrain pass is discounted for travelers under age 26.

11. Cars and Insurance

Buying a used car is likely your best bet. However, if you’re in the market for a new car, check into the General Motors student discount. Also, most major car insurance companies also offer deals for students, so make sure you compare them all to find the best rates.

Other Shopping

12. Upromise

If you need to save for upcoming tuition or already have student loans through Sallie Mae, you can join their Upromise shopping program to earn money toward those costs. You can even share your shopping link with friends and family to earn faster.

13. Amazon

Check out Amazon.com’s student program for free two-day shipping and special discounts on certain items.

14. Clothes and Retail

Plenty of clothing stores offer student discounts. Ann Taylor and J. Crew are just a few that can get you suited up for that first job or internship. Here’s a helpful list of student-friendly retail stores.

Banking, Budgets and Credit

15. Banking

If you need a new checking or savings account, you’ll find plenty of great bonus offers, and some are student-specific (Bank of AmericaCiti and Chase are a few banks that have programs just for students). However, pay attention to maintenance and overdraft fees — those will cost you more over the long term.

16. Credit Cards

Many banks offer credit cards just for students, but don’t be fooled by introductory offers. The regular interest rate is more important. (Here’s more info on how to choose a credit card.)

17. Budgeting

You Need a Budget budget software is free to college students, so there’s no excuse not to use it.

Freebies on Campus

18. Food

Are you paying for a campus meal plan? Make sure you get your money’s worth! Grab some fruit or cereal on your way out to take home for later. You’ll also find other free food on campus at open house events, public lectures and club activities.

19. Events

You probably already know about campus entertainment opportunities like pep rallies and intramural sports, but don’t forget that you also have access to free educational events and lectures.

20. Health and Fitness

You won’t get free access to that nice campus rec center after graduation, so make sure to use it now. Also, take advantage of your college’s health center services, along with its complimentary band-aids, condoms and tissues.

21. Promotional Stuff

Here’s a weird tip: most academic departments on campus have their own promotional pens — you can start quite a collection! Also keep your eyes open for opportunities for T-shirts and other spirit gear.

Remember: You’re only a college student for a few years. It never hurts to ask if a business offers a student discount, so always keep your ID handy.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite student discount? Did we miss any good ones?

Lindsay Luebbering is a freelance writer and former journalist living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She helps people and businesses communicate in clear, consistent and compelling ways.

SILENCED VOICES (event)

via Marty Meeden:
"SILENCED VOICES: CALIFORNIA NATIVES' SURVIVANCE AND REVITALIZATION"

http://californiaindianconference2014.org/

Hosted by: California State University, San BernardinoCollege of Social & Behavioral Sciences, & the Center for Indigenous Peoples Studies

The California Indian Conference 2014 provides a unique collaborative environment for indigenous peoples, community leaders, scholars and practitioners to engage in discussion and academic exchange in an interactive setting, over important topics for our diverse California Indian Nations. We acknowledge the great work done by previous California Indian Conferences, and look to add to those efforts by making the Voices of California Indians, and the Indigenous Peoples and Native Nations they represent, paramount in this year's meeting.

Reaching Back Through Time (arts)

TOTH: April Skinas

"Reaching Back Through Time: The WPA Interprets Native California Creation Stories" is an exhibit on loan from the Judith Lowry Collection, featuring New Deal era artwork reproduced courtesy of California State Parks. Between 1937 and 1942, Works Progress Administration (WPA) artists Marjorie Lee and Stephen J. Quinn produced a series of watercolor illustrations for the Mount Diablo Museum Project, based on the Creation Stories of the Miwok people. Stories include the “Birth of Wek-Wek”, “How Ah-ha’-le stole the Sun for the Valley People” and “The Bear and the Fawns”.  

http://www.roseville.ca.us/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=4249&TargetID=73

Mother Tongue (language/politics)

Language Becomes Key Issue In Navajo Presidential Race


By  Laurel Morales
September 22, 2014

One of the leading contenders in the Navajo presidential election this November might be kicked out of the race later this week.

Why? Because he didn’t tell the complete truth about how well he spoke the Navajo language.

That’s an issue because many tribal elders speak only Navajo. However, some voters are saying it shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Chris Deschene is working on his Navajo. When he introduces himself, he identifies his clans in the native language.

Last spring when he decided to run for president he took an oath saying he spoke the language fluently. He later admitted his language skills did need some work.

Complaints against Deschene’s alleged embellishment of the truth have gone all the way up to the Navajo Supreme Court. It will rule later this week on whether Deschene can even stay in the race.

Merv's World (profile)

He makes regalia, bangs rock 'n' roll drums, races boats and, now, leads the Six Rivers National Forest

BY HEIDI WALTERS HEIDI@NORTHCOASTJOURNAL.COM

Here's a funny story, Merv George Jr. says, leaning slightly forward in his chair and smiling. It's mid-August, George is just a couple weeks into his new role as the 13th supervisor of the Six Rivers National Forest, and his new office — the bigger one that his predecessor Tyrone Kelley just vacated to accept a new post in the regional office — isn't ready yet. So we're sitting in the office George has used as deputy supervisor for the past three years. The walls and shelves are still photo-bedecked: family, race boat, colleagues, events. George is looking relaxed in a patterned short-sleeved golf shirt and business slacks.

"I'll tell you a funny story if you want to listen to it," he says again. "You want to hear it?"

Back when he was chair of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, George says, he went to the White House for a conference on economic empowerment zones. About 10 tribal chairs and 40 mayors were at the deal, and at one point they were all waiting in a large room for Vice President Al Gore to show up and give a speech. George was chatting with Jerry Brown, who was sitting next to him — this was 1998, and Brown was mayor-elect of Oakland. George was saying it must be challenging to govern the city. Brown was saying he knew where Hoopa was and marveling at George's youth; George was 25, and the year before he'd become the youngest person ever elected tribal chair in Hoopa.

"Then all of a sudden there was all of this pomp and circumstance and a 'Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice President of the United States!' and the doors swing open and here comes Al Gore," recalls George, his face alight with humor. "And he was just like the quarterback from Yale, the big man on campus. And as he goes around from table to table, he's actually — I mean he's a handshake bully! He's grabbing people and he's just jerking them around and, 'How you doing! I'm Al Gore!' And I want to say the average age of the people in this room was probably 60. And so I'm sitting here next to Jerry Brown, and he elbows me and goes, 'Hey, you're a young, strong dude. Don't let him jerk you around.'"

Finally Gore was at George's table. "And I know what he's going to do," George says. "He had it in his eye. He'd raised his elbow and he was coming in for the shark attack. So I gripped him good and I nailed him, I nailed him hard — because I could hear his knuckles popping in my hand — Pop! Pop! — and I'm saying, 'Hi, Mr. Gore, my name is Merv George and I'm the tribal chair of Hoopa.' ... After he left, Jerry's like, 'Man, you got him!'"

Brown took a photograph of it; the picture's hanging on George's wall, right underneath the one of him shaking President Clinton's hand later that same day.

"I remember that he had the perfect handshake," George says of Clinton. "It was not too firm, but it was not too wussy. It was not too hot, and it was not too cold. It was almost like he had this thing mastered. And when he shook your hand and greeted you, he gave you the feeling like he was your first math teacher that you really took a liking to and you just hadn't seen him in a long time. He made you feel like that."

George seems to monitor himself that way. He's not a tall guy, and a warm smile comes readily to his youthful, round face. But he's broad and muscular; in 2012, he bench-pressed 465 pounds, and now, despite injuries, he tries to maintain his ability to press at least 400 pounds. He could be very intimidating if he wanted. And yet when he greets you for the first time — and if you're not Al Gore or some other handshake bully — he grips your hand lightly but firmly as he looks straight into your eyes.

It's the No. 1 rule of good business relations, mastering that handshake. In a metaphorical way, George also has been mastering the handshake between the two halves of his world — the tribal world of his family and ancestors and the non-tribal world in which he spent his schooldays — ever since he was a little kid at Lafayette Elementary School in Eureka trying to explain ceremonial Hupa regalia and dances to his classmates.

Connecting, forging bonds among disparate leanings, communicating well — these are the skills upon which the now 41-year-old George thrives, and which he plans to employ generously in his new role as head of the Six Rivers National Forest.

It's an important moment in the Six Rivers' history. George is the first Native American to be appointed forest supervisor of any of the 18 national forests in the agency's Pacific Southwest Region (which covers California and the Pacific Islands). He's the first local — with roots going back thousands of years, no less — to run the Six Rivers. And, countering the accepted agency tradition in which employees bounce around, gathering important posts for their resumes, George plans to stick around. This is his home.

The 957,590-acre Six Rivers National Forest encompasses some of the wildest, most rugged, mountainous land in California's Pacific Northwest. It stretches long and narrow from the Mendocino County border with Humboldt north 140 miles to Oregon, taking in portions of six rivers — the Eel, Van Duzen, Mad, Trinity, Klamath and Smith — and landscapes rising from near sea level up to almost 7,000 feet. The Six Rivers also manages the adjacent Klamath National Forest's Ukonom Ranger District, which means the supervisor of the Six Rivers actually oversees more than 1 million acres.

Six Rivers has wild and scenic rivers and endangered species, forests and grasslands, timber and grazing lands, recreational areas and wilderness. Nine percent of California's fresh water comes from the Six Rivers' 1,500 miles of streams. The region also enfolds numerous small communities, and overlays the territories of tribes whose people have lived there for thousands of years.

Merv George Jr. descends from several of these local tribes. He's a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, and his father, Merv George Sr., is the tribe's ceremonial leader for the white deerskin dance and jump dance. George Jr. makes ceremonial regalia and helps lead ceremonies. His wife, Wendy George, who is Karuk and Hupa, is vice chair of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. Her parents are ceremonial dance leaders for the Karuk Tribe. She weaves baskets and makes ceremonial dresses (she and her husband both have studied their ancestors' regalia in museums, including the Smithsonian). The Georges live in Hoopa and have three girls and one boy.

But George grew up in Eureka. Before he was born, his dad got laid off from a mill in Hoopa and took a maintenance job with the Eureka Public Works Department, where he worked for the next 30 years. George was born in Eureka and attended city schools. He loved math, football and track (as a Eureka High junior he became the county's 100-meter champion) and student government (being "in the throes of the decision-making process" thrilled him). He also played piano and drums and, at 16, started playing with his dad's rock 'n' roll band, the Merv George Band (he's still the band's main drummer).

Every weekend, holiday and summer, however, George was in Hoopa with his relatives. There, like all the males in his family, he got into hydroplane and jet boat racing on the Trinity River (twice he's been a U.S. champion). And he learned his tribe's religious traditions.

"My earliest memories were learning from my elders and being taught the lessons of what our dances mean and what our religious beliefs are," he says. "So I knew I was very different from the get-go. You know, these things were not what all my buddies in Eureka were doing. They weren't participating in jump dance ceremonies or white deerskin dance ceremonies."

It wasn't always easy, he says. He remembers distinctly how, during a homecoming, one of Eureka High's classes hung a dummy of an Indian from its float. He asked them to take it down; they told him he was overreacting and that it just represented the Del Norte High School Warriors' mascot. Even some of his best friends couldn't understand why it bothered him, he says.

"I remember thinking, 'Man, that's not right.'"

But instead of letting the duality of his upbringing get him down, he says it made him realize something important about himself: He enjoyed being an ambassador.

"Because it really made me uncomfortable to be so different from someone else," he says. "And you can do either one of two things: You can hide from that diversity of thought and shy away from it. Or you can just hit it head on and use it as an educational opportunity."

He says traveling around with his dad's band, playing all sorts of venues — the Ingomar Club, the casinos, the Elks Club, the rodeo — reinforced the idea that he was meant to bring people together.

"I talk to people," he explains, adding with laughter, "I'll talk your ear off if I sit next to you on the airplane; I'm the annoying person. And at break time or before and after the gigs, you get to hear what's important to people. You get a pretty good sense of what the politics and the issues are locally."

After high school, he started refereeing youth sports. And he signed up at Humboldt State University, where he thought he'd study engineering. He was good with numbers and problem solving. But it wasn't social enough, and he struggled to get Bs. He was getting straight As in his Native American studies classes, though, and when the university created a bachelor's program in that field he went for it.

He learned tribal history and tribal law, and soon took an interest in his own tribe's politics. At the age of 22, while still in college, George ran for a seat on the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council and won. He was the youngest council member the tribe had ever elected. Two years later, at 24, he became its youngest tribal chair.

George admits he's a competitive person. In high school, an HSU football coach came to watch him play and agreed he was fast, but too small to play at Humboldt.

"So all that did was it committed me to a weight room," he says. Three years later, he walked into HSU's weightlifting gym where the football players were hanging out and told the strength-training coach he could beat the record in the 185-pound weight class. George was in his street clothes — Levi's and a white T-shirt. The coach sized him up with a "really, now?" and said go ahead.

"And of course I'd been lifting at home, so I kind of brought this rez strength kind of thing into this Forbes [Physical Education] Complex," George says. He broke the record for his weight class, bench-pressing 360 pounds. "The coach is like, 'Who are you, where have you been, why aren't you playing football, and can you run?'"

He got to play. "And so it was a mental thing," he says. "Tell me I can't do something and I'll figure out a way to do it."

George is driven to succeed, it's apparent. Even so, says his wife, Wendy, he always puts his family first, coaching the kids' softball, football and wrestling teams, and never missing any of their events or birthdays.

This caring for others, combined with ambition, make him a natural leader, she says.

"It's his comfort zone," she says. "We both thrive off of fixing things — creating policy and following rules and making rules that help programs and departments run more efficiently, and working with people to implement those plans."

Leaf Hillman, 50, is director of natural resources for the Karuk Tribe and has known George all his life. The Karuk, Hoopa Valley and Yurok tribes share a number of traditions and their religious ceremonies often intersect. Hillman's family owns the rights to the Karuk's white deerskin dance; George's father is the Hoopa Valley Tribe's head ceremonial leader. And they've worked together on fish, river and fire management issues. George was executive director of the non-profit Klamath River Intertribal Fish and Water Commission for almost nine years (after his four-year term on the tribal council), and Hillman represented the Karuk Tribe on the commission. And George was executive director of another non-profit, the California Indian Forest and Fire Management Council, and later became deputy forest supervisor just as the Karuk and Forest Service were wrangling over a collaboratively hatched Orleans fuel-reduction plan that went awry.

"He's an easy guy to get along with," Hillman says. "He's easy to like, a lighthearted guy, open, honest, with good people skills and good management. ... He doesn't hold grudges."

Former Six Rivers Supervisor Kelley agrees, and adds that George "can also separate the things he likes from what the community needs."

He's also methodical, says Kelley. He makes checklists and works through them. He organizes his emails into folders. And his home files are as tidy as his office ones. Want to know where a Pacific Gas and Electric bill from 1995 is? He can find it in a snap. His zeal for organization, says his wife, is one of his best qualities.

"Right down to his socks being perfectly matched up," she says. "And that's what makes him very successful. He returns phone calls and he doesn't leave anybody hanging. He's never late on a bill; his credit's perfect."

"I take that really seriously," George says about his credit rating, laughing. "If I'm not up there close to 800 or so, I get really nervous."

He's like his mother that way: Laura Lee George, who has an MBA from Humboldt State, works in the university's Native American program and was superintendent of the Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District.

George is a bit of an anomaly in the Forest Service, apparently. According to studies, he says, the agency is populated overwhelmingly with people who are self-identified as being on the quiet side and like their office to "be out in the woods somewhere, or near a creek, near a lake."

George recalls the time he and Kelley took personality tests as part of a supervisor-deputy leadership training.

"Tyrone was off the charts introvert, and I was off the charts extrovert," George says, laughing heartily.

But they worked, and got along, well together. George sold Kelley his Harley, and Kelley watched George's son play ball. Curiously, Kelley says, in meetings he was the one who "was quick to go in and establish our position," whereas George would listen more. "You'd expect the reverse from an introvert and an extrovert," Kelley says. He attributes his confidence to his many years of Forest Service leadership.

George's Forest Service career has zoomed like a jet boat, putting him at the top of the Six Rivers in just six years. He started with the agency in 2008, at a whopping GS-13 pay level ("GS" stands for "general schedule," and the higher the number, the higher the pay). It's typical for a person with a bachelor's degree and some experience to start at the Forest Service around GS-7; it's not uncommon for a person with a Ph.D. to start at GS-11.

His first position was the Pacific Southwest Region's tribal relations program manager, where he was the liaison between 210 tribes and the supervisors and resource managers of 18 national forests. In 2011, he became the deputy forest supervisor for the Six Rivers National Forest. And for a brief stint this year he filled in as temporary supervisor on the Lassen National Forest.

Is he ready now to lead the Six Rivers?

Absolutely, says Kelley. Among the biggest challenges facing the Six Rivers is managing an overly fuel-loaded forest where catastrophic wildfires are a constant threat. When George joined the Forest Service, the agency was just starting to shift its fire management policy away from wildfire suppression and toward ecological restoration. In conjunction, the agency began opening its arms to collaboration with other agencies and community and private partners. One example is the recent formation of the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership, a private-public group working to restore a million acres of historically fire-adapted (but long-suppressed) lands.

"I think [George] is the perfect person to continue that dialogue because of his outgoing personality and how he really can develop and maintain relationships," Kelley says. "And, he knows the issues very well — salmon, spotted owl, landscape types. Even if he wasn't a tribal member, he'd be the right person."

But his tribal connections help. Hillman, with the Karuk Tribe, most of whose territory is overseen by the Six Rivers, says George can see through modern politics to focus on the traditions local tribes hold in common. Tribal mistrust of the Forest Service runs deep, Hillman says, going back to the early days when the agency first banned many traditional and ceremonial practices, including the use of fire to improve crops and hunting grounds. The agency has only recently, slowly, begun allowing those practices.

"It helps that we can [look at George] and say, this guy isn't going anywhere," Hillman says. "I know where he lives. He's got a family here. And he's going to be here a long time."

George and his family moved away once, spending three years in Vallejo for his tribal relations job at the regional office. He loved the job, but they all missed home. Now he plans to grow old here.

And he believes in the Forest Service's mission of "serving the greatest good for the greatest number of people over the greatest amount of time." He thinks it can do that in sync with tribes, rather than in opposition.

"We're a conservation-minded organization," he says. "So we save things to use things. Which falls right in line with what tribes have done."

George learned at an early age about the tensions between tribes and the Forest Service. In Hoopa, he'd hear people complaining about how the Forest Service wouldn't let them do traditional burns, or use their sacred sites. Back in Eureka, he'd pepper his youth football coach, Tony Montana, with questions. Montana was the only guy George knew then who worked for the Forest Service.

"I'd ask him, or his son, Nick, nonchalantly, 'What is the Forest Service?'" George recalls. "And Tony helped give me a more balanced approach. ... What I think the future needs is a blend of current best management practices and modern science and laws, combined with some traditional ecological knowledge."

He's looking forward to tackling that. And his main approach will be to improve communication. For starters, he plans to hold a series of meet-and-greets in the communities of the Six Rivers. This will encourage his staff, many of them those "quiet types," to interact more, as well as inform residents about the Six Rivers — about its many creeks and rivers, its campgrounds, its roads and wildlife.

"I want to become better neighbors," George says. "I want to include more of our public in decision-making."

Hearing all of this — George's success at virtually every endeavor, his rise through the Forest Service and his brash confidence — a person might wonder if maybe he is a little full of himself. But he likes to point out the things that have humbled him, too. He's hurt someone he loves. He saw two close cousins die in boat-racing accidents. And he's had three near-death experiences: a burst appendix at 14; a boat-racing crash under the Trinity River Bridge in Hoopa at 22; and almost blowing his own head off at 26 when he tripped while hunting. These, he says, taught him "what matters."

"People matter," he says. "Feelings matter. Things that you work on to give back to others matter. Helping others. Leaving something better than when you found it. Sharing, that matters. Taking care of things and not taking them for granted matters. Family matters. Pride — pride really matters. Pain matters, and what you do with that pain."

Toypurina (profile)

California's first woman rebel, sought to reclaim native lands By Jonathan Farrell     Aug 12, 2014 in Lifestyle http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/lifestyle/op-ed-california-s-first-woman-rebel-sought-to-reclaim-native-lands/article/396020

San Gabriel - Move over Pocahontas, Sacagawea, there is another native American that left her mark on American history. Few know of California's first woman rebel, Toypurina. Some scholars say she should be more prominent in the history book spotlight.

"Toypurina is one of my Favorite women! She has an amazing story," said professor Rose Marie Beebe of Santa Clara University. "What you read in our book 'Chronicles of Early California, 1535 -1846, Lands of Promise and Despair,' is just the tip of the iceberg," she said. Although the book, published in 2001 is almost 15 years old, the information it shares is perhaps relatively new to most students of Early California History.

This account of Toypurina and the true-life depiction of life in Early California dispels the idyllic notion of Mission Life and travels along the El Camino Real from 4th grade history lessons.

Co-authored with her husband and fellow professor Robert M. Senkewicz, their work provides a rich detail of little known aspects of early life in California. This is especially so for all the history concerning the hundreds of native tribes that flourished in California before the arrival of the European.

"Lands of Promise and Despair - Chronicles of Early California 1535 to 1846" by professor Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz was published in 2001. It offers detailed accounts from transcripts and manuscripts of the early California period that is little known to most U.S. History books.

Like this image "The person of Toypurina represents that early pre-European contact era very well," said David McLauglin of the California Missions Resource Center. "In fact, in some ways she's a bit like a 'Joan of Arc' type of figure, in that Toypurina really believed she was lead by supernatural powers to over-throw the padres and the conquistadors."

Author and historian John J. O'Hagan mentions Toypurina in his book "Lands Never Trodden." He too said that Toypurina is a fascinating figure and a case study in the sharp wit and cleaver maneuvering of a determined young woman.Yet, more details are provided about this remarkable person in the 24th Volume of The Journal of The California Mission Studies Association "Boletin" No. 2 published in 2007. In the "Boletin" six historians provide detailed essays and study highlights on not only the life of Toypurina but also of Mission San Gabriel. They detail the circumstances that lead up to the failed revolt attempt against the Franciscan padres in 1785.

And, the essays in the "Boletin" provide an account of what life was like before the Missionaries and Europeans arrived. Like most of the native tribes of California, the Gabrielinos (or Tongva) people to which Toypurina belonged were hunter-gatherers. They lived in small 'villages' of about 50 to 200 people, co-existing in harmony with nature taking only what they needed.

As O'Hagan points out they were like most natives, "pretty much a peaceful people." Yes there were times they had conflicts but for the most part, they lived a simple, natural life. While they enjoyed the bounty which is and was California, life out in the open air with nature was not always ideal. This is one reason why tribes moved from spot to spot. "When one spot got too cold or too hot, or the tribe used enough resources there, they moved on to another spot."

One way the native peoples would try to restore or replenish and cleanse camp spots was to burn the dead grass and foliage. That way new grasses and plants would sprout up next season when the tribe returned.

Each of the scholars like Beebe in the "Boletin" explained, the Gabrielinos had their own sense of religion. This is where Toypurina got her strength in the resolve to go forward with the revolt against the padres at the Mission. Initially, well respected and in a way feared, "she was a shaman," said O'Hagan. And, as a religious-spiritual leader among her people she was trained in many of the ancient customs and beliefs of knowledge passed on from one generation to the next."

In his essay, in the "Boletin" professor at Southwest University of Redlands, James Sandos, writes that as a shaman Toypurina had access to the power-elite of her tribe. And, that such a group spoke in terms and a language all its own. This was reserved only for shamans. She also understood many of the language/dialects spoken by the various tribes of the area. Her status allowed her to be taught and trained apart from the rest.

Young though she was by today's standards, her training began very early and by the time she passed through adolescence to her early 20's Toypurina was already well-versed in her role and position. Even the Los Angeles Times in its "then and now" feature published back in 2001, noted that Toypurina was "no ordinary woman."

Both O'Hagan and Beebe describe the transcripts of Toypurina's trial before the Spanish and Mission authorities. Her main reason for participating in the revolt was to reclaim the land that Mission San Gabriel was built on. When the Spanish arrived they subdued the natives, first by coercing them and then later by force. Conflicts with the Spanish usually turned bloody when the natives decided to fight back.

What had began as a seemingly miraculous founding of Mission San Gabriel as the Franciscans see it, as described by Fr. Palou, in his account of the founding day, eventually turned bitter. A banner of Our Lady of Sorrows was unfurled when the natives sought to fight with the Spanish. But the painting bewildered them and according to Palou the natives "threw down their bows and arrows." Miraculous or not, the compliance of the natives did not last. Within a brief span of time, maltreatment and disrespect for the natives became common place.

When the natives had sought to confront the Franciscans and the conquistadors with the intent to fight with bows and arrows, when the Spanish, unfurled the painting, the warriors dropped their bows/arrows. This according to Fr. Palou was what occurred at the founding the Mission of San Gabriel in 1771.

The Spanish in their zeal for the expanse of a New Spain, treated the natives like children and beat them regularly. Usually a beating or shackling in chains was done at the Mission and it was routine for a padre to carry out the corporal punishment.

For Mission San Gabriel the breaking point was when the conquistadors took advantage of native woman disrespectfully and in a violent way. It just so happened that one of the women in a particular case was the daughter of the chief of the Gabrielinos. When the chief was killed while trying to defend his daughter's honor, this set in the air the long-standing resentment the natives held for not only the conquistadors but also the padres.

The Franciscans while mainly concerned with "saving souls," often overstepped the line between discipline and punishment. Even though the natives were not slaves, they were treated as servants and were expected to obey commands. If they ran away, they were brought back by soldiers. Adding to the resentment was the fact that the way of life the Gabrielinos had known was slipping away. The Spanish brought with them cattle, grains and customs that were in contrast to the hunter-gatherer way of life the natives had known for centuries.

For example as Sandos noted, the natives way of burning camp sites to promote the growth of new grasses was banned by the Spanish. Cattle ate up the grass they had fed upon and new grasses and crops were introduced. And, with the establishment of Christianity in its Roman Catholic form, the tribes were forbidden to practice anything of their own religion. Ceremonial dances were forbidden, and their complex understanding of the spirit world was dismissed as superstition or at times as devilish.

With tensions eventually escalating over time, the urge to revolt was eminent. And, Toypurina and others were anxious to attack. Word leaked out that a revolt was planned. According to official documents of the time, the revolt was squashed because a solider overheard some of the natives talking about the revolt plans and understood some of the dialect they had been speaking in. Toypurina thought her power as shaman would be able to over-power the padres. Once the Spanish learned of the plan, when Toypurina and her band climbed the walls of Mission San Gabriel, soldiers were disguised as padres waiting in the priest's quarters. When at trial, those caught along with Toypurina accused her of being the instigator, when in reality she was simply helping. Nicolas Jose, the one who sought out and paid Toypurina to help in the revolt, turned against her, as did many others.

O'Hagan had pointed out that Toypurina was clever enough to 'convert' and negotiate her survival through the expecting of her new born son, whom she had baptized into the Catholic faith. A short time later she would marry a Spanish solider and become Regina Josefa. She lived out the remainder of her life as a Californio and part of Mission society, with her final resting place not at Mission San Gabriel but over 300 miles away at Mission San Juan Bautista.

Some historians believe Toypurina was forced to convert and then live the life of a Spanish married lady. While O'Hagan and other historians like McLaughlin share some of that view, for no doubt Toypurina was caught. "It was still very amazing that she was able to express her feelings of anger at trial and manage to save herself from being put to death," said O'Hagan.

Professor Sandos praised the scholarly work of Beebe and Senkewicz. He noted hers was "the absolutely best possible translation of the trial record. Rose Marie Beebe, is the best translator of early California Spanish period. All other attempts at translating the trial record are flawed," he said.

Other historians speculate on whether or not she continued to practice her shaman skills or believe in the native religion. Even if that were true, the fact is recorded in Mission documents that she married and had three more children.

While life as a Regina Josefa, a solider's wife, was perhaps not as exciting as warrior-shaman, Toypurina, her converted life was not without sorrow. Within six months after converting to Catholicism and having her first born son baptized (the child she was pregnant with during trial), died. Infant mortality rate during those times was very high. She had fought to try to save her people from the plight of the Mission life. Yet, in the end some see it in a way that she too was a victim of the Spanish influence.

Her marriage to Manuel Montero while respected and blessed by the Church was as some historians point out, a life of banishment. For after the death of her first born infant son, as Sandos writes, "Toypurina's life, glimpsed fleetingly through the (various) Mission records, reads like an 18th Century Spanish version of a modern 'witness relocation' program."

But as he pointed out to this reporter, "she followed her husband in his assignments; she was not banished. She was, from the Christian perspective, reborn in her baptism in Christ. She then married and followed her spouse."

After leaving San Gabriel, she was then at Mission San Luis Obispo where her second son and first child born to Montero was baptized. Sadly, this son, named Cesareo Antonio died from a fall off his horse at age 31.

In addition to son Cesareo, Regina Josefa had two daughters, Juana and then Clementina. When Clementina was baptized, Regina and her solider husband were at yet another mission, Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, California.

As Sandos points out in his essay, the moving from Mission to Mission was not just a new life with Montero but a condition of the outcome from who Regina Josefa had been. Sandos also pointed out, "she feared for her life following the failed revolt, her people would not have subjected her to any kind of trial; she had already been through that in her plot to kill the missionaries from long distance and failed. 

"At that point anyone in the Tongva (Gabrielino) community was free to kill a failed shaman and all relatives of those who had been captured and punished would have wanted, and been permitted to do so in the revenge of killing her." But clearly that did not happen.

She died at age 39 receiving the sacraments of Eucharist and last rights or anointing of the sick in 1799. That was just 14 years later after the failed revolt at Mission San Gabriel.

It is hard to say if as Regina Josefa the spirit of Toypurina remained alive but hidden amid the Mission society life. But one thing is certain, she did live and was a unique and important figure of native women making a stand for their people in Early California history. For more information about Early California and Mission history visit the California Mission Resource Center web site.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/lifestyle/op-ed-california-s-first-woman-rebel-sought-to-reclaim-native-lands/article/396020#ixzz3DV94m9XK