Cherokee Morning Song

Friday, January 31, 2014

Eldest survivor of residential school marks 110th birthday

By Jaime Little, CBC News Posted: Jan 31, 2014 1:52 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 31, 2014 1:57 PM ET
Marguerite Kioke Wabano recently turned 110.  She is the eldest living residential school survivor.
Marguerite Kioke Wabano recently turned 110. She is the eldest living residential school survivor. (Gookum Wabano )
About 200 people spanning five generations of the Wabano family gathered at the Moosonee arena on Tuesday to sing a Cree version of Happy Birthday to Marguerite Kioke Wabano, known as GookumWabano. 
Granddaughter Joyce Spence Wabano says her 110 year old Gookum always attributed her longevity to her capacity to forgive.
"No use carrying things around. Learn to forgive, and it'll help you to live a long life." said Wabano.
Marguerite Wabano was among the residential school survivors invited into the House of Commons for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's formal apology in 2008.
Joyce Spence Wabano said at 110 years old, her Gookum remains sharp and still lives in her own apartment.
"My grandmother loves visitors, and her wild traditional food, and she drinks her medicines like Labrador Tea, and teas from different trees, that's what helps her to stay healthy. She loves to laugh and joke around with her grandchildren, one of her stronger traits.  And I thank the Lord for my Granny, my Gookum."
At her birthday party, Joyce said "She received money, because she likes it and what do you give a 110 year old woman who has mostly everything?"

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Algonquin Creation Story

According to the Algonquin Anishinaabeg tradition and view of the world, the universe was created in four orders.  

The first order of Creation involved the emergence of the four sacred elements: fire, rock, water, and wind.  It is during the first order of Creation that the entire universe, including the sun, the earth, and the moon were created and where what is now called the “Canadian Shield” first emerged from the great sea.

The second order of Creation involved the creation of trees, plants, vegetables, and fruits.  This order brought to the earth all the members of the Tree Nation such as the maple, birch, and butternut.  

It also brought medicines found in the hemlock tree, the strawberry as well as other berries, and cat tails for example.

The third order of Creation brought to the Earth the four legged, the winged, and the swimmers such as the bear, the owl and eagle, and the salmon and pike.  

It is these animal beings that taught humans the knowledge about medicines and how to use them in a good way.  

According to Algonquin Anishinaabeg tradition it is 
said that these three orders of Creation thrived and lived together for a very long time before the fourth order was brought into existence.

The fourth order of Creation occurred where humans were lowered to Turtle Island.  

Our stories tell us that although humans are born with the wonderful gift and ability to dream and imagine we are also the most pitiful.  Humans are pitiful in that we are the most dependent on the other three orders of Creation.  

While the plants and animals lived here on Turtle Island for a very long time without us, and thus can continue to live without us, humans cannot live without them, as it is these other three orders of Creation that provide us with the protection and subsistence we need.  

In addition, we are also pitiful in that our ability to dream and imagine is also our biggest burden and responsibility.  

This ability left unchecked and un-moderated through a moral code – that is a moral code that is broad and ensures the wellness of all other beings of Creation – puts our very own existence at risk.  

It is in this way that our ability to create through dream and 
imagination is indeed a paradox. Respecting this paradox, is a fundamental Algonquin Anishinaabeg teaching.

Chi-Miigwetch Gzhe-Mnidoo

Friday, January 24, 2014


You can sign the petition by copy and pasting the link below.


Lakota NEW v2SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA — The Lakota People’s Law Project is launching the “Campaign to Free Lakota Children,” with a national petition (click to sign it here), callPresident Obama to authorize the grants needed to start tribal foster care programs, and put us within sight of bringing our children home.
Message from Chase Iron Eyes:
There is an epidemic of hundreds of state kidnappings of Native children by South Dakota’s Department of Social Services. Lakota kids are ten times more likely as non-Native kids to be forcibly removed from their homes and placed in the foster care system.  The State receives up to $79,000 per Lakota foster child annually from the federal government.
The Lakota People’s Law Project has recently released a new 12-minute video ‘Hearts on the Ground”, documenting the heart breaking reality of the South Dakota DSS illegally denying Lakota grandmothers custody of their own grandchildren.  Please watch and share this video.  
As part of our new Campaign to Free the Lakota Children, we would also appreciate the the help of those supporters who use Twitter to recommend the ’Hearts on the Ground” video  to the popular website Upwothy, with your suggestion to  @Upworthy.
We have the solution:  Foster care programs run by Lakota tribes, not the culturally biased and money-motivated DSS of South Dakota.
Please sign the petition–and help spread the word.  Together we can change history.
Wopila  (Many Thanks), 
Chase Iron Eyes 
South Dakota Legal Counsel

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

'Thank an Indian' shirt debate still has people talking

Our audience weighs in on controversy around shirt that Tenelle Starr wore to school

CBC News Posted: Jan 20, 2014 11:59 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 21, 2014 11:07 AM ET
Bonita Daniels, left, and Tenelle Starr were sent to the principal's office after wearing 'Got land?' shirts to school.
Bonita Daniels, left, and Tenelle Starr were sent to the principal's office after wearing 'Got land?' shirts to school. (Sherri Starr)"First Nation teen told not to wear 'Got Land?' shirt at school" was our most visited story on last week.

"First Nation teen told not to wear 'Got Land?' shirt at school" was our most visited story on last week.
Our coverage of the story generated nearly 180,000 page views, more than 2,000 comments on, more than 1,000 comments on the CBC Aboriginal Facebook page, and instigated a flurry of activity on Twitter.
At the centre of the story is 13-year-old Tenelle Starr from the Star Blanket First Nation.
skpic tenelle starr
Tenelle Starr says she does not think her 'Got Land?' sweater is offensive. (CBC)
​The story about her decision to wear a shirt that said "Got land? Thank an Indian" to school went from small-town Saskatchewan to the national stage in a matter of hours.
Some people didn't understand why the shirt was so controversial:
  • Arlyquino: "How terrible! I am so offended that by wearing this t-shirt, she has reminded us of our past atrocities, failed promises, and hypocritical policies. And hot pink too! Where does she think that she lives, in a democracy? Pfff."
  • endlessfight: "​I'm white and this in no way offends me. it is the 100% truth. It's no secret that natives were here before Europeansand we have them to thank for the land that we are on. I DO get offended when other races break the law and then get treated fairly or unfairly compared to other races (blocking roads, railways, etc.). However as far as this shirt is concerned, rock it sister. you have every right too."​
  • Glenfiddich: "It really bothers me when people wear shirts that make me think… in school…."
But not all people agreed with the message, "Got land? Thank an Indian."
  • lladyon1: "If a white person wore something that said something different though....BIG difference in reaction .…that is a given.
  • Tax Me: "I'm Canadian: I paid for my land and the only person I have to thank is myself."
  • Mitch G: "However how true it may be, does one need to flaunt it? The governments of the past signed treaty's with them for the land and now we honor those treaty's everyday. Non natives should not feel like we "owe" anybody anything."
  • RCMP called to investigate online harassment

    skpic michele tittler
    Michele Tittler has admitted to posting numerous messages on 13-year-old Tenelle Starr's Facebook page. (CBC)
    ​Starr's Facebook page was also flooded with comments, some supportive and some negative and hurtful. It resulted in Starr deactivating her Facebook profile and her family contacting the RCMP.
    Michele Tittler has admitted to posting numerous messages on Starr's page. She is the founder of an organization and Facebook group called End Race Based Law.
    • Sherry Emmerson: "...this women encouraged her "followers" to harass everyone involved in this incident......this poor girl doesn't deserve this backlash from grown adults who should know better."
    • Ken Wildman: "I am humbled that a 13 year old girl has made a delusional political group try to justify inciting fear into a child's heart to further their cause of ending race based anything. Idle No More stands with you, I stand with you."
    Some of our audience questioned our decision to interview Tittler in our story.
    • @pmlebrun: "Shame on CBC for allowing Tittler the forum to spew lies and hatred."
    • @KaraArdan: "Dear @CBC in no way does #Tittler speak for non-aboriginal Canadians!"
    got land shirt
    This sweatshirt logo worn by two 13-year-olds to school has set off a controversy that garnered nationwide attention. (Sherri Starr)
    Starr’s school, Balcarres Community School will be hosting a treaty symposium next month where, no doubt, the "Got land? Thank an Indian" controversy will be discussed.
    Idle No More has also called for a day of action. The press release stated, "Now and up to a January 28 Day of Action, Tenelle and Idle No More and Defenders of the Land are encouraging people across the country to make the shirt and wear them to their schools, workplaces, or neighbourhoods to spark conversations about Canada's true record on Indigenous rights."
    But some of our audience wondered if the controversy was actually encouraging meaningful dialogue.
    • Jess Mander: "…The message is divisive. It divides between settlers and 'Indians,' instead of the collective, more encouraging message that we are all treaty people… Instead of acknowledging that there are still treaties being signed and that aboriginal sovereignty and land claims are an ongoing debate. It dismisses many of the current issues as history."
    • Clearwater73: "I wish we lived in a nation where aboriginals and non-aboriginals could talk sensibly about this subject without all the rancour and insensitivity. I am seventh-generation Canadian of European and Scandinavian descent… My ancestors worked extremely hard and in tough conditions to make a life here, but I know full well that it was only possible because of the treaties."
    • Courtenay Bound: "The shirt to me stokes the flames of racism. We'd never allow a white kid to wear a shirt of that nature… There would be no public support for it."
    ​Meanwhile, Winnipegger Jeff Menard, who creates the shirts,says orders have been flooding in.
    Jeff Menard skpic
    Winnipeg's Jeff Menard says orders for his 'Got land? Thank an Indian' shirts have been pouring in. (CBC)
    ​“The reason why I started this was to bring awareness to the Canadian natives and to unite our people and make them proud of who we are," he said.
    We are continuing to follow this story and will bring you the latest news and updates at CBC Aboriginal.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Saskatchewan school officials backtrack after banning ‘Got Land? Thank an Indian’ hoodie

Girl says she was banned from school because of ‘Got land – Thank an Indian’ shirt

Balcarres, Sask., Grade 8 student Tenelle Starr and member of the nearby Star Blanket First Nation was told not to wear a sweatshirt in school that has the words "Got Land? Thank an Indian" on it, although officials have since relented

Saskatchewan school officials are backtracking on a decision to ban a First Nations student from wearing an Aboriginal land rights hoodie to school.
Tenelle Starr, 13, told CBC News that teachers asked her not to wear the sweatshirt to school because other students were uncomfortable with its message. The hoodie read “Got land?” on the front and “Thank an Indian” on the back.
“They told me to remove my sweater because it was offending other people,” the eighth grader at Balcarres Community School, which is about 90 km outside of Regina, told CBC.
“[The school board] communicated further with local First Nations representatives and felt that the slogan on the shirt clearly was meant to provide the community with a message,” Ben Grebinski, director of education for the Prairie Valley School Division said after the decision was repealed. “It was not intended to be offensive.”
CBC News
CBC NewsThe sweater had the words “Got land?” on the front and “Ask an Indian” on the back
One teacher reportedly told Starr that people saw the message as “racist” and she was asked to wear the hoodie inside out instead.
Mr. Grebinski said that parents and other community members heard about the story and called the school to complain about the sweater.
“It was done to be respectful of those individuals that felt the slogan on the shirt may have been offensive. It was a way of maintaining harmony within a community.”
FacebookA Facebook image of Starr wearing the disputed sweater
But Starr felt differently about the situation.
“We were taught Indians were on this land first, so why are people offended?” Starr told CBC.
Starr is a member of the Star Blanket Cree reserve, located just outside Balcarres, Sask. The Star Blanket Cree Nation is one of the bands covered by Treaty 4, one of 11 numbered treaties signed between Canadian Aboriginals and the monarchy.
Treaty 4 represents land that covers most of southern Saskatchewan, as well as parts of west Manitoba and southeast Alberta. The treaty, which was signed on Sept. 15, 1874, allowed Europeans to settle on historically Aboriginal land.
After Tuesday’s consultation between school officials and First Nation community leaders, the school changed their mind and said that the hoodie’s message was acceptable.
“I wear it proudly around the school,” Starr said.
Sheldon Poitras, a council member for Star Blanket First Nation and a spokesperson for Ms. Starr’s family, said that he is pleased with the outcome of the incident.
“There were just some communication issues that needed to be taken care of about [Ms. Starr's] goal for awareness for the treaties,” he said. “Once we all got on the same page, everything was fine.”

Sioux Mother Rescues Abused Children. Faces Arrest

Early last year, Audre’y Eby dropped by her former spouse’s home in Iowa to visit her twin sons. She discovered that her blind child had two black eyes, and his head was swollen. The boy hadn’t seen a doctor; when he finally did, Eby recalled, the doctor said he couldn’t suggest the cause of the injuries because they were already healing.

Sioux Mother Rescues Abused Children, Faces Arrest

The emergency room doctor was furious at what he had seen, recalled Audre’y Eby, who is Rosebud Sioux and the mother of disabled 16-year-old twins. One of her sons, who is blind and autistic, squirmed on the examination-room table, screaming, “Ow, ow, it hurts!” The doctor had found livid red and purple bruises covering his penis and scrotum, according to the Nebraska hospital’s records. Those injuries would soon lead to an arrest warrant for the mother—not because she had caused the harm, but because she did not return her son, along with his wheelchair-bound twin, to their abusers.
Indian child welfare expert Frank LaMere called the twins’ situation more extreme than any he’d seen in his many years of work in the field. “These boys are suffering,” said LaMere, who is Winnebago and the director of Four Directions Community Center, in Sioux City, Iowa.
The day before the ER visit, Eby, who is 45, drove from the Nebraska farm where she lives with her husband, Faron, to pick up her boys from their father in Iowa. It was early August of 2013, and she was going to have them for the once-a-month weekend visit the courts allow her. The boys’ father is Eby’s ex-husband; he has physical custody of the kids, and his live-in girlfriend is their primary caretaker. Eby is Native, and the father and his girlfriend are white—facts that LaMere says overshadow decisions that social-services professionals and the courts make on the children’s behalf.
During the five-hour drive to Nebraska, both twins complained. Eby put the grumbling down to the road trip—a long one for such special-needs kids. The sighted twin has cerebral palsy and can suffer painful muscle spasms, and his brother has residual discomfort from a vehicle accident he was in with his father a few years ago. “We stop for breaks, but it’s a lot of sitting still,” Eby said.
The next day, the blind twin began complaining again, and Eby saw blood in his overnight diaper. Alarmed, she and Faron loaded both boys into their car and headed for the ER. After the exam, at a moment when only health-care personnel were present, the doctor took the opportunity to ask his patient, “Who did this to you?” The child named his father’s girlfriend. The doctor questioned the sighted twin, who confirmed his brother’s story.
The doctor told Eby that the injuries were consistent with being kicked in the groin. He immediately called Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services to report alleged child abuse, hospital records show. Eby says the physician also warned her that if she didn’t keep the boys until their wellbeing could be guaranteed in Iowa, he’d have to report her for exposing children to an unsafe situation: “He said Nebraska law required him to do that.”
Eby’s fateful decision to keep her kids in Nebraska soon led to an Iowa judge issuing a warrant for her arrest. She is trapped between the laws of two states and fearful for her sons’ safety.
The Nebraska doctor’s report launched an extensive investigation by Iowa’s Child Protective Services (CPS). The investigation included another physical exam and interviews of social workers, teachers and others who’d interacted with the twins. The boys participated in a Telemed closed-circuit TV interview observed by social-services and law-enforcement personnel in Iowa and Nebraska. (The twins’ names, and that of their father, whose last name they bear, are being withheld to protect the children’s privacy. All official documents quoted here were obtained under Iowa law.)
Both children claimed the kicking occurred after the blind twin was discovered masturbating. He tells the interviewer that his dad had once threatened that “he’s gonna cut my privates off” for doing that. At one point, the boy begs, “Please help me. I’m scared.”
The investigation led to a determination that the father’s girlfriend caused the groin injuries, which means the abuse was “founded.” The father and girlfriend already had several abuse and neglect determinations between them. CPS gave the twins its highest score for risk of abuse and recommended a criminal investigation.
The girlfriend has appealed the most recent abuse finding, according to Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) documents. No charges appear to have been filed against her. She claimed the boy did the damage to himself and told CPS, “I love the boys and would never do anything to hurt either one of them.”
The father toldICTMNthat whatever happened didn’t happen in Iowa and that the couple would appeal more of the abuse and neglect rulings. Over the years, 14 additional allegations have been investigated and dismissed, he noted.
Iowa DHS documents record a startling list of incidents at the father’s home: Among many, the father recently pressed on the wheelchair-bound twin’s nose until it bled, resulting in one of the founded-abuse determinations. On another occasion, the dad poured hot sauce down that boy’s throat while the girlfriend pressed her elbow into his neck to ensure he swallowed it. A social worker recounts watching the father smash a sandwich onto the blind boy’s forehead, purportedly to get him to eat his lunch. The girlfriend has stuffed a cloth down one boy’s throat to silence him. Punishments include cold showers.
Social workers describe quasi-military discipline. “I’m a veteran, and I'm  trying to instill values like honor, loyalty and courage in my children,” the father said. “If that’s wrong, then a lot of parents are wrong.”
Judy Yellowbank, who is Winnebago and the program director at Four Directions Community Center, likened the twins’ treatment to torture. She charged that there’s a double standard in child welfare. “Native parents would be behind bars if they had committed the child abuse and neglect that these two white caregivers have,” Yellowbank said.
Following the recent kicking incident and subsequent abuse finding, Iowa DHS recommended returning the twins to their father’s home, with the caveat that the live-in girlfriend no longer be primary caregiver. When asked how that set-up would work from a practical point of view, the father refused to answer.
One of Eby’s attorneys, Judy Freking, of LeMars, Iowa, asked, “What is the purpose of a child-abuse investigation if, upon concluding that abuse occurred, DHS does not get involved, and DHS does not offer any services to correct the problem that led to the abuse of these boys?”
The father is determined to get the kids back, saying Iowa can provide them more services than rural Nebraska, where the Ebys’ farm is. He recently went to Iowa juvenile court, claiming that his ex-wife was keeping the boys in Nebraska because of “extreme hostility” toward his girlfriend. The judge agreed, writing in an order issued this past September, “It’s apparent this animosity has been a factor.” The judge noted the father’s claim that he had “fully and properly cared for the boys.” The order does not mention the founded abuse and neglect rulings or any criminal investigation.
In October, a district court judge issued an arrest warrant for Eby. She learned of it when it pinged into her email from the Iowa courts’ online system. “I couldn’t cry because my sons were here. I called Faron. He came home from work and sat with the boys, so I could get myself together. Faron has been such a powerful support in all this. We both want the boys living on the farm with us.”
After Eby and the boys’ biological father separated in 2003, when the boys were six, she cared for them. When they turned 12, she thought they should get to know their father. “At the time it seemed like a reasonable idea,” Eby recalled. As the problems in the father’s home mounted, she fought to get the boys back, succeeding briefly in 2011. Through all the abuse and neglect findings, Iowa DHS documents reveal, the agency’s goal has generally been to reunite the twins with their father, and the courts have concurred. He receives their social-security and other subsidies.
Attorney Freking wondered if the situation would have played out similarly if Eby had committed the abuse. LaMere has an answer, and it’s simple: No. He said that Eby’s situation is emblematic of the double standard Yellowbank described. Indian parents are expected to leap enormous hurdles to keep their kids—with no second chances and no benefit of the doubt, said LaMere.
“It does appear that Audre’y and her ex-husband aren’t on equal footing in terms of Iowa DHS recommendations to the courts,” said Freking.
One of Audre’y Eby’s twin sons, who has cerebral palsy, receives stitches in an Iowa emergency room. The 16-year-old and his twin brother live with their father and his girlfriend. According to court records, the girlfriend sent the teen shopping alone in his wheelchair. He got lost and tipped off a curb, gashing his forehead. The incident resulted in one of several abuse and neglect findings for the father and his girlfriend. (Courtesy Audre'y Eby)
One of Audre’y Eby’s twin sons, who has cerebral palsy, receives stitches in an Iowa emergency room. The 16-year-old and his twin brother live with their father and his girlfriend. According to court records, the girlfriend sent the teen shopping alone in his wheelchair. He got lost and tipped off a curb, gashing his forehead. The incident resulted in one of several abuse and neglect findings for the father and his girlfriend. (Courtesy Audre'y Eby)