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Showing posts from September, 2017

Flintknapping as a cultural and spiritual journey

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This article first appeared in the magazine Indian Country in summer 2017.  A Western Shoshone  grandfather and grandson sit companionably, side by side, in canvas camp chairs. They are in a small valley buttressed by rolling hills covered with golden grasses and gray-green sagebrush. In the palm of the left hand, each holds a piece of rough black stone resting on a small leather pad and, in the right, a length of deer antler.  More tribal members are camped around them, watching the pair work, chatting, cooking and preparing a sweat lodge. A jackrabbit hops by: “Breakfast,” someone says. Mule deer dash away toward distant mountains. The valley is in the Tosawihi Complex, a dry, rugged landscape that covers scores of square miles in what is now northern Nevada. It is the heart of the traditional Western Shoshone homeland, where they have camped, hunted, gathered and participated in ceremonies for millennia. Northern Paiutes and members of other tribes revere the area as

After the Fire: Tribe Repatriates Thousands of Acres of Sacred Sites

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This story first appeared in September 2017 in Indian Country Media Network. Joe Holley assesses native-plant population in sacred site. “It’s done,” said Lydia Johnson, chairwoman of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone, shown below right. “The papers are signed, and the land is ours.” It was the late afternoon of August 17, and Johnson had just returned from meeting with attorneys and Klondex Mines, a gold-mining concern. The company had presented the Western Shoshone, a coalition of several tribes, with just over 3,200 acres of ancient sacred sites in the Nevada high desert. The gift stood out as a rare and shining moment in a history that has been, for Western Shoshones, much like that of other Native Americans—massacres, land loss and segregation on economically isolated reservations. Looking exhausted and elated, Johnson said that day and the next were busy ones for her own tribe, the Battle Mountain Band, which she also chairs. Preparations were underway for an August 1