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The Northeast
 



Bruce Duthu

On their first day in the Northeast, the Siberian delegation was greeted by Jani Leverett (Cherokee) and her son Rob. They gave us an archaeological, geological, and native historical tour of the Connecticut River Valley from the vantage point of Mt. Tom near Northampton, MA. Looking down on the snaking, broad Connecticut River (meaning "pure, clear river"), we were reminded that an entire non-European civilization inhabited this region along with the rest of the tribes of the Eastern seaboard who were known as "The People of the Dawn". We were also reminded that Indians still inhabit this region and are not a relic of the past.

The group was joined on Mt. Tom by Paul Tohlakai (Navajo) who had just recently dropped by the SEN office seeking organizational support for his non-profit "Sacred Mountain Foundation" based in Pinon Arizona. Paul did a powerful opening ceremony on Mt. Tom, and he continued to travel with us for the remainder of the time in New England. The Siberians visited Cultural Survival, a nonprofit based in Cambridge dedicated to the cultural restoration of native peoples around the world. They also travelled to Vermont Law School and met with professors Bruce Duthu and Gail Osherenko who provided some essential legal "nuts and bolts", comparing a range of different issues, most notably land rights. Dr. Duthu, of the Houma tribe, teaches law with a concentration on Native American issues and Dr. Osherenko, who teaches at Dartmouth, is one of the world's foremost authorities on Siberia's indigenous peoples.

Other events included an evening presentation of cultural sharing by the Siberians in Amherst where they received a warm welcome from over fifty people, and a dinner gathering at SEN supporter Beth Nicholson's home in Newton,MA.

The Southwest
 


Lisa Gover
After four days in the Northeast, the group flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico where we began our southwest adventure. On this warm Halloween afternoon, we were greeted by Chairmen Ron Soliman and Rick Vigil of the All Indian Pueblo Council. Standing in the courtyard of the Pueblo Cultural Center as night fell and a full moon rose we had a chance meeting with the famous Lakota singer Bonnie Jo Hunt who proceded to speak a little Russian and sing for and with our Siberian group. There was a feeling of magic and warmth and acceptance as we felt the spirits of the land and native people welcome us to the Southwest.

 "We are one people. All that separates us is miles" 
--Lisa Gover
(Comanche/Pawnee)


 


The next morning we had an incredible meeting with Jerry Pardilla (Penobscot) and Lisa Gover (Pawnee/Comanche) of the National Tribal Environmental Council. Jerry gave a powerful and moving overview of the history and current status of Native Americans focusing on land and resource rights. A lively discussion ensued where stories of oppression were shared from both sides of the world. Although 95 percent of the land has been taken from Native Americans, the Siberians felt that in practice they have far less control on their lands. There was a strong feeling of mutuality between the Native Siberians and Native Americans in this meeting which ended with a call for a global initiative to unite indigenous people around the world. As Lisa Gover said, "We are one people. All that separates us is miles."

 

Jerry Pardilla meeting with the group.


 

Canyon de Chelley
 
 
 

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