Monday, September 16, 2013

Catawba and other Indian boarding Schools: Genocide of the past, present and future

Looking Back by Julia White


Many papers, books and various writings are appearing about the indigenous peoples of the world — not only The First Peoples of The Americas, but all of the First Peoples around the world. I do not fault these writings. They are bringing historical data to the attention of the populace. HOWEVER, while you will read about language groupings, migration patterns, wars, cultural impacts and other cold facts, you will find these intellectual efforts written with the same degree of insight given to any extinct species in history.
"Looking Back" is a series which began in 1993 in order to share the passions, customs and lifestyles of the First Peoples so that readers may understand what it was like to live in the early days. The indigenous peoples of the world are not extinct. They are living, breathing pages from history who struggle to maintain their homelands and to preserve their traditions, customs, heritage and ceremonies in the face of ever increasing encroachment from the "civilized" in society. It is to the living, in honor of the past, that "Looking Back" is dedicated.
Discovery Channel Cities Through Time
Selected as a valuable Internet resource for Discovery Channel School's Cities Through Time theme for spring 1997.
The Anasazi
The Catawba
The Cheyenne
The Chumash
The Crow
The Gros Ventre
The Lenni-Lenape and "The Red Record"
The Lumbee (and the "Lost Colony")
The Moche of Peru
The Taino (The First "Indians")
The Yahgan


(Pronounced ka-TAW-ba)

First of all, it should be clear that there was no "Catawba Nation", or "Catawba Tribe", or "Catawba" people. There were many tribes (some records indicate 40 to 50) of different names who lived in the Piedmont sections of North Carolina and South Carolina. (The Piedmont is that stretch of land which lies between the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains and the coastal plains). Catawba pipe bowl These Native peoples all spoke the ancient Siouan language, and shared traditions, ceremonies, lifestyles and dress. There was a common bond among the tribes, and at the time of European contact, it was estimated that they numbered in excess of 20,000. It is this grouping of tribes that will be referred to here as the "Catawba", and the reasons for the name are explained further on.
First recorded contact with the Catawba was by DeSoto in 1540. It was noted that they were a tall and graceful people who dressed in skins and fur. The bodies were painted, and facial tatoos were favored by both men and women. Special note was made of their long fingernails!
They used shells for many things, and fashioned shell decorations for their clothing and ceremonial items. They valued feathers and all manner of beautiful stones (probably the many varieties of gems found in this part of the country.) Their arrowheads and spear points were made of quartz crystal.
By the time the English discovered the Catawba, they had developed a liking for silver breastplates, silver arm bands and brass bells. They wore silver ornaments in their ears and noses. It can be assumed that these items were introduced by the Spanish, but this is only an assumption since the source of these metals was not discussed.
The Catawba were farmers, hunters and fishermen, and were not nomads by nature. They settled in one area as long as the land was good and, when it was not, they moved their villages to a better location. They did not live in tipis, but rather in permanent structures built of trees and brush that would withstand the weather. Deep snow is not common in this area, but high winds, thunderstorms, lightening storms, hail and even sleet were commonplace. The dwellings were grouped in a community fashion, and surrounded by wooden palisades 6 to 8 feet high to keep out wild animals and unwelcome visitors. They were fierce warriors who fought to protect their families and their lands against neighboring, unfriendly tribes.
Original relationships with the white men were friendly and profitable, and went on peacefully for many, many years. The traders who blazed the first trails into Catawba territory were respectful and honored tribal protocol. In return, the traders were invited to trade each Spring and Fall, and they were provided shelter on the outside edge of the villages during their stays. Many traders learned the Native ways, were adopted into the tribe, moved inside the village compounds and took Catawba wives. The mixing of cultures and bloodlines for the Catawba dates back to the 1500's, and the existence of a full-blood Catawba today is rare indeed.
Early in trading history, the log book of one trader alone listed over 7,000 deer hides shipped out of the territory in a single season. Combined with the hides were furs of every description; pottery pots, dishes and utility pieces; baskets, rugs and all types of work woven from the reeds and canes of the lakes and rivers of the area. Of course, as word of this wealth spread, more, and less honorable, traders moved into the region. With them came the dreaded white diseases of cholera and smallpox which swept over the Catawba in waves, year after year. Villages lost so many of their people that those remaining would join with the nearest village just for survival. As the epidemics continued, more and more fell victim to disease until all the remaining villages drew together and grouped along the Catawba River. They became known as "The People of the River", and finally, "The Catawba".
As the Catawba lost their land to politics and greed, they began to move away from their homeland. A few stayed behind to fight for their rights and their lands under treaties signed with the white government. At the beginning of the 20th Century, only approximately 1,000 Catawbas could be accounted for. In the mid-1950's, the U.S. government declared the Catawba extinct, and "terminated" them.
Happily, events are taking a better turn today. Claims for tribal recognition and the return of their homeland were filed with the government, and were won by the Nation. A Catawba reservation was established in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and there is a return of the people to their native lands. Always famous for their pottery and basketweaving, these skills are once again being taught in the traditional way. A gathering is held on the reservation once each year and, amazingly enough, the 1993 gathering hosted over 5,000 Catawba!
There is a concentrated effort to rebuild the history of the Catawba. An active search is being conducted for old land deeds, photographs, family histories and original craft items such as baskets, pottery, jewelry; anything relating to the Catawba. If you or someone you know has historical ties to this part of the country, please contact Anthropologist, York County Museum, Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The most comprehensive history of the Catawba can be found in the writings of Frank G. Speck. Called the "Catawba Texts", they are usually NOT found in the American Indian sections of libraries, but rather under literature and/or anthropology.

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Tribes confront painful legacy of Indian boarding schools

Genevieve Williams lies in failing health in her daughter's small house on the Tulalip Reservation, haunted by powerful memories. She sees herself as...
Seattle Times staff reporter
American Indian boarding school timeline
After tribes were moved to reservations, the federal government assumed primary responsibility for educating native children. It forcibly placed the children in boarding schools and stripped them of their culture in an attempt to assimilate them into mainstream society. 1879: Federal government opens first off-reservation boarding school at Carlisle, Pa.
Late 1800s: Other schools built across the West. Bureau of Indian Affairs runs them or subsidizes church-run mission schools that already educate many Indian children.
1900: Education system grows over next two decades, promoting "dignity of labor" and vocational training.
1928: Meriam Report, commissioned by Interior Department, condemns schools' deficient diet, overcrowded dorms, substandard medical service and overworking of students. Senate committee reports systematic kidnapping of Indian children by school officials.
1930s: Forced assimilation of tribal children officially ends as policy (if not as practice) in 1933. Reforms bring teacher training, and schools start becoming more open to tribal culture, though corporal punishment continues for decades until ended in mainstream education. Some boarding schools close.
Post World War II: Another policy shift — so-called termination policy — seeks to eliminate reservations and move Indians to cities for job training. Emphasis on boarding schools renewed, and tribal children again removed from homes and sent away to schools.
1960s: Kennedy administration repudiates termination.
New federal laws give tribes civil and religious rights and control of children's education. Many schools close and remaining ones promote tribal culture.
Today: Ninety percent of Native-American children attend public schools. The Bureau of Indian Education funds 66 residential programs that enroll some 10,000 students.
Source: Margaret Archuleta, curator of the boarding-school exhibition, "Remembering Our Indian School Days," at the Heard Museum, Phoenix; the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction; the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education; and David Wallace Adams, author of "Education for Extinction."
Additional information
Essay "Assimilation Through Education: Indian Boarding Schools in the Pacific Northwest" by Carolyn J. Marr, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle.
Exhibit "The Boarding School Experience"
Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ 603-252-8848
Book "Away from Home: American Indian Board School Experiences," Edited by Margaret L. Archuleta, Brenda J. Child and K. Tsianina Lomawaima
Book "Education for Extinction"
by David Wallace Adams
Web site Indian Residential Schools Resolution
Genevieve Williams lies in failing health in her daughter's small house on the Tulalip Reservation, haunted by powerful memories.
She sees herself as a little girl. Marching everywhere in a line. Scrubbing floors on her hands and knees. Being forced to stand silent for hours in a dark hall. Watching children get strapped for speaking their native language.
"I got to know that strap," she said. "Everybody knew what that strap was for, hanging inside the door."
It was especially bad for girls who wet the bed. Dresses pulled up and underwear pulled down, they were beaten. "We all had to line up and watch."
At age 85, Williams bears witness to a dark and unfinished chapter in American history: the Indian boarding school era.
Increasingly, the damage from that early abuse, loneliness and lack of love is being seen as a major factor in ills that plague tribes today, passed from one generation to the next and manifesting in high rates of poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence, depression and suicide.
And as awareness of the enduring harm grows, tribes and others in Washington and nationwide are reaching out in new and varied ways to elders, their children and their children's children in hopes of repairing the damage.
"This is a huge experiment — healing of this magnitude and consciousness," said Harvard doctoral graduate Sousan Abadian, an expert on Indian boarding schools and trauma to entire cultural groups.
The boarding school era began in the late 1800s and continued at its most oppressive through the 1920s, when the federal government forcibly placed tribal children in the harsh, militarylike institutions in an effort to assimilate them into the dominant culture.
All things Indian — dress, language and beliefs — were forbidden. Affection was rare, punishment often severe. Some students were raped, many tried to run away and unknown numbers died.
The schools, which slowly started to reform in the 1930s, were not just an American phenomenon. Australia and Canada operated similar institutions, also intended to indoctrinate and "civilize" their native peoples.
In Canada, the federal government recently reached a record $5 billion settlement under which some 80,000 former students are eligible for an average of $28,000 — more if they were sexually or physically abused.
"Essentially, this is what happens any time one people assert they know what is good for another," said Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution. "It is tragic and inevitable."
In 2000, when he was the assistant secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Gover apologized to Native Americans for historic abuses by the BIA, including brutalizing their children "emotionally, psychologically, physically and spiritually" in boarding schools.
In the U.S., the focus has been less on legal actions against the federal government and more on healing.
Efforts range from the national Boarding School Healing Project to a $3 million health study by the University of Washington and the Tulalip Tribes to widespread efforts to revive tribal culture.
Lost parenting skills are believed to be a key factor in why the damage endures, so at least one group — the Tulalip Tribes — is weaving lessons about the boarding school era into child-rearing programs for parents and into decision-making classes for teens.
"It's a miracle that native peoples have survived at all," said Abadian, the cultural-trauma expert. "It reflects their unbelievable resilience."
Strong emotions
In the U.S., the boarding-school era evokes dramatically different views among Native Americans.
Some caution against asking elders to recall their boarding school years as it may trigger flashbacks, depression or even suicidal thoughts.
Others believe the era must be talked about for native people to grow strong.
And some former students insist the best years of their lives were spent in boarding schools, where they got three meals a day and met lifelong friends.
According to Abadian, those who did better often started at a later age, got to take part in some traditional activities and weren't entirely separated from their family and community.
And others — rejecting the victim label — turn the experience into a positive, saying "it was good discipline," or "I've been able to learn from it."
The father of state Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, was fluent in the tribe's language but refused to teach it, saying "they beat it out of me" at boarding school. In 2005, McCoy helped win passage of a bill that encourages school districts to teach native history and culture and to consult tribes in developing that curriculum.
For some, their silence may be due to shame.
"There's a lot of incest and child abuse going on in our Native American communities" — behavior that originated in large part at boarding schools, said Phil Lane Jr., CEO of United Indians of All Tribes in Seattle.
Lane, who was born in a boarding school in the Midwest, helped to mobilize Canada's former students. "It's a very difficult issue ... just to get people to talk about it," he said. "It's painful."
Some families are working privately to stop the cycle of harmful behavior.
In Spokane, Martina Whelshula, a psychotherapist and member of the Colville Nation, is leading three generations of her family in healing sessions.
Two of her grandparents and her mother grew up in boarding schools. Her mother was cold and demanding and hit her, and Whelshula was doing the same with her own older daughters.
But it wasn't until she was studying about Indian boarding schools for a doctoral degree that she had an epiphany.
"All the pieces fell together," said Whelshula, who is president of Spokane Tribal College. "I saw all the devastation around me, all the woundedness. I realized it was me."
By then, her own daughters were repeating the mistakes with their children. Whelshula called a meeting so every generation could hear grandma Alice Stewart's story about growing up in boarding schools. That way the family could understand its parenting style in the context of history. They've kept talking ever since.
It's been a learning experience as well for the 70-year-old Stewart.
"I thought I was a good parent," Stewart said. "I didn't know I was one of the worst ones."
Boarding-school trend
The Indian boarding-school movement in the U.S. began in earnest in the late 1800s.
Before that, Native-American children were educated primarily in church-run mission schools and some tribal schools. But after tribes were moved to reservations, their treaties typically called for government-provided education.
The first government-run, off-reservation boarding school was the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, founded in 1879 by Capt. Richard H. Pratt.
He and other reformers believed at the time that if Indians were given a proper education and religious training they could be civilized out of their "savagery" and assimilated into society.
Pratt's oft-quoted philosophy: "Kill the Indian and save the man."
By the early 1930s, an estimated two-thirds of Native Americans had attended boarding school at some point in their life.
Some schools were off-reservation, others on. Other students attended day schools. The federal government ran them or subsidized the mission schools.
Among the best-known in the Puget Sound area were Cushman Indian School in Tacoma — which later became an Indian tuberculosis hospital — Fort Spokane Indian School and the Tulalip Indian School on the reservation.
Boarding schools slowly started to improve in the mid-1930s, becoming less coercive over the next decades and more encouraging of tribal culture, though corporal punishment continued until it also was stopped in mainstream education.
In the 1960s, new federal laws gave Native Americans more rights, as well as control of their children's education. Many schools closed, and the remaining ones increasingly embraced what had been forbidden.
But it was not that way for the earlier generations.
Then, a typical day consisted of lessons in the morning and manual labor in the afternoons. Punishment ranged from a lost privilege to being locked in a closet or beaten.
Parents who openly resisted giving up their children lost food rations or were jailed. Others hid their children or denied being Indian, though some willingly sent their children to the schools to get an education or escape poverty.
Contact with families often was limited to summertime. And even then, some students were sent off to local people's homes to learn how to be civilized — that is, to be maids or farmhands.
Extreme loneliness was common.
"I used to stand at the window and cry," said Fran James, 83, a Lummi tribal member. "The night watchman would come along and say 'Little girl, you'd better go to bed.' "
Along with two sisters, James was sent to the Tulalip school in 1930 when she was about 6, then to Cushman Indian Hospital, then to the Lummi day school in 1935 and finally to Chemawa Indian School in Salem.
She studied and worked in the garden and laundry, learning to iron a shirt in two minutes. As an adult, she managed to reconnect with her culture, becoming a renowned basket maker and wool weaver.
Not long ago, her son Bill wrote to the Federal Archives for her birth certificate and a package with several documents arrived. Inside was an unopened letter from her father written in 1939.
"They will let you know when you can come home," the letter read in part. Why did it never reach her at Chemawa? The question brings tears, but no answers.
"My mom lost the spirit of the people," said her son. "Even though today she's very strong in her culture ... she lost her language."
Between two worlds
With little communication from home and heavy indoctrination at boarding school, many children felt alienated, abandoned and not sure whether to identify with the white or Indian world.
While many families welcomed their children home, others did not.
Former chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, Stan Jones, now 81, was sent to Cushman Indian Hospital in 1937 at age 11, along with three older siblings. He was there for three years.
"Actually, I forgot about my home," Jones said. "I wasn't sure where I belonged."
When Jones finally did return to the reservation, the driver tried to drop him off, but Jones thought his immediate family didn't want him back. "It's just kind of what the government taught you there," he said.
He finally settled at an aunt's house, coming to realize years later that he had been mistaken about his family's motives. "I should've just went to my dad's."
Later generations recall that same lost feeling.
"It kind of shapes your life," said his younger brother, Dale Jones, 65.
In the 1950s, social workers took him and four other brothers from their family and sent them by bus to Chemawa. To this day, he recalls paddlings and the humiliation of standing in line after showers to have his genitals visually inspected by a matron.
"You've carried it so long, I guess it becomes like a hidden deal inside of you, " said Jones, a recovering alcoholic.
He attributes some of his difficulties with alcohol to the boarding-school experience. "We try to bury the feelings we carry."
To Gover, of the Smithsonian, the schools' painful legacy should come as no surprise.
"Imagine being a 10-year-old at boarding school. You're told everything about you is wrong," he said. "I don't think we can even perceive the degree of shame involved."
Trying to heal
Healing efforts are wide-ranging.
The national Boarding School Healing Project was started in South Dakota in 2002 by Indians from various states.
Among other efforts, it is documenting abuses so communities can seek redress from the government and churches, in the form of laws and money to improve Indian education.
The University of Washington is conducting a five-year, federally funded study with the Tulalip Tribes to determine the factors — from cultural habits to past trauma such as from the boarding schools — that are related to heart disease in Native Americans. The aim is to develop prevention programs based on healthier choices.
In downtown Seattle, the Seattle Indian Health Board has started a program for urban elders.
At twice-weekly gatherings, they learn lost skills such as bead work. Some went to boarding schools, and occasionally they talk about having been beaten for "talking Indian."
It's a time "to honor good feelings or put to rest the bad so you can move on," said Chris Chastain, elder specialist.
Just west of Marysville, parenting classes are being taught on the Tulalip Reservation.
As part of a six-week course, a small group of adults met for a recent class, which began with an account of how the boarding schools of old might be contributing to their struggles today.
Instructor June LaMarr, a tribal mental-health counselor, told them that natives originally believed children "are specially beloved" and should not be hit or disrespected lest they return to the spirit world. But that gentle approach was disrupted by the boarding schools.
At one class, she projected onto a screen the words of a sweat-lodge doctor who'd gone to boarding school: "... When you get older, the habit is there, being mean and ornery ... The parent doesn't stop to think about what he's doing to his kid. He is taking his boarding-school attitude out on him."
"I never really thought about it 'til today," said Angel Chance, a class participant whose mother and grandmother rarely brought up their time at boarding schools.
A proud survivor
Genevieve Williams always has been candid about her years at the Tulalip school, Cushman Indian Hospital and St. Georges Mission School near Tacoma.
By the time she left the schools for good at age 14, she didn't recognize her own mother.
The two never did bond.
Later, she didn't know how to nurture her own children. Her husband had been physically abused in a Canadian residential school and instilled in their children his deep suspicion of white people.
"That's how we grew up," said their daughter, Leslie Lopez.
After many prayers, Lopez decided to judge people by their actions instead of their race and to teach her children to do the same.
"It's taken a long time. I try hard," she said. "It's getting easier."
Williams now lives on the reservation with Lopez, with whom she's grown close. She encourages the grandkids to learn the Lushootseed language, and she sometimes watches language classes on the tribe's closed-circuit TV network. But the only word she knows, she says, sounds like "paw-sted" — meaning white person.
To this day, questions haunt her — such as why she was sent to a TB hospital when no doctor ever found evidence that she had the disease. Sometimes she looks back and cries. "I know I missed out on a lot ... "
But like others of her generation, she doesn't want to be cast as a victim. At 85, she's proud to be an elder. "I am Native American," she says. "I survived."
Marsha King: 206-464-2232 or

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The Horror of Native American Boarding Schools

This article is dedicated to Kavika who has taught me so much about Native American culture. I hope I do the subject justice.

In the 1870's, The United States was still at war with the Native Americans who occupied the land before Europeans ever touched shore. In an attempt to solve the 'Indian problem', the United States government helped fund religious organizations who then opened religious boarding schools. These schools would heap horror upon the Native American children sent there right up till the 1980's.
We often hear religious people spout off about how we need religion to be moral - but if these religious boarding schools are examples of religious morality, I can only hope that isn't true.
Boarding schools were used to assimilate Native Americans and the best way to do that was to wipe out their existing culture - they separated Native American children from their families and from non-Indian students.
Richard Pratt was an army officer in 1892 and he founded the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania in 1879. His reasoning?
"A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one," Pratt said. "In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man."
Between 1880 and 1902, about 30,000 Native American children were placed in these boarding schools, where Christian missionaries tried to simultaneously wipe out their culture and Christianize them. Christian missionaries were sent to reservations that were too far away from a boarding school to 'educate' them there.
The punishments meted out in these schools was extremely harsh:
At boarding schools, the curriculum focused mostly on trades, such as carpentry for boys and housekeeping for girls.
"It wasn't really about education," says Lucy Toledo, a Navajo who went to Sherman Institute in the 1950s. Toledo says students didn't learn basic concepts in math or English, such as parts of speech or grammar.
She also remembers some unsettling free-time activities.
"Saturday night we had a movie," says Toledo. "Do you know what the movie was about? Cowboys and Indians. Cowboys and Indians. Here we're getting all our people killed, and that's the kind of stuff they showed us."
And for decades, there were reports that students in the boarding schools were abused. Children were beaten, malnourished and forced to do heavy labor. In the 1960s, a congressional report found that many teachers still saw their role as civilizing American Indian students, not educating them. The report said the schools still had a "major emphasis on discipline and punishment."
Wright remembers an adviser hitting a student.
"Busted his head open and blood got all over," Wright recalls. "I had to take him to the hospital, and they told me to tell them he ran into the wall and I better not tell them what really happened."
Imagine the idea that being 'entertained' meant having to watch your own people being killed on screen. Yet this is only the tip of the iceberg.
These religious boarding schools weren't just meant to civilize and Christianize Native Americans, but to create a generation that would be more willing to cooperate and sign their land away to the government. Some reservations were sitting on coal and oil reserves and the government wanted it.
These schools used brainwashing techniques in order to achieve these aims:
Indian boarding schools were blunt tools: they rank among the most heavy-handed institutions of socialization, indoctrination, and even brainwashing ever seen in North America. From the late 1800s through the twentieth century, scores of such schools throughout the western United States and Canada enrolled Indian students, generally against their will.
Scholars have described the residential boarding schools as “labor camps,” or experiments in modified slavery, run in the grueling, regimented manner of military schools. “My grandparents were taken from their homes and put in boarding schools,” says Daniel Moya, of the Pojoaque Pueblo outside Santa Fe. “Whenever they spoke their native language, they were beaten and made to eat soap.” Emotional and physical abuse was routine, and the curriculum explicitly indoctrinated students with the idea of the superiority of the dominant culture and the inferiority of native traditions.
Children were forced to cut their hair, prevented from speaking their native language or engaging in their sacred rituals, sometimes forced to wear military uniforms, beaten and sometimes raped.
In a Huffington Post article we can take a peek at what this sexual abuse entailed:
"All goes along quietly out here," one priest wrote in 1968, with "good religious and lay faculty" at the mission. There are troublesome staffers, though, including "Chappy," who is "fooling around with little girls -- he had them down the basement of our building in the dark, where we found a pair of panties torn." Later that year, Brother Francis Chapman was still abusing children, though by 1970, he was "a new man," the reports say. In 1973, Chappy again "has difficulty with little girls."
Some documents are more discreet than explicit. In 1967, two nuns at St. Paul's Indian Mission, on the Yankton Sioux Reservation, also in South Dakota, had excessive "interest in" and "dealings with" older male students, says a report to Church higher-ups. (St. Paul's, pictured below, was renamed MartyIndian School when the tribe took it over in 1975; 2008 graduation tipis are shown in the foreground.) Another nun has "too close a circle of friends, especially two boys."
What ex-students describe as rampant sexual abuse in South Dakota's half-dozen boarding schools occurred against a backdrop of extreme violence. "I'll never forget my sister's screams as the nuns beat her with a shovel after a pair of scissors went missing," said Mary Jane Wanna Drum, 64, who attended a Catholic institution in Sisseton, South Dakota, for the children of her tribe, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.
And here is a news report that explains some of the abuse Native Americans endured under the tyrannical eye of priests, nuns and government officials:

Native American boarding schools are a modern example of cultural genocide. What happened in these institutions was pure evil.
I have heard people say that Native Americans are lazy, drunk, welfare bums who complain about past injustices. This is only a small taste of what native Americans endured. We have systematically tried to pillage, rape and destroy Native American culture with a cross in one hand and a rifle in the other. We took a proud, noble people with a unique heritage and laid waste to them. Yet, Native Americans endure and try to rebuild from the smoking ruin we visited upon them.
That isn't lazy - that's courageous. We should be doing more to assist rather than belittle them. We may not be able to fix past injustices - none of us own a time machine that would allow us to stop these tragedies before they happened. However, we can learn from the past and never let it happen again. We can hold our hands out in friendship to the Native Americans who survived our ancestors brutality and help them rebuild.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tennessee Indian Brick Town 1673

Tennessee's mysterious brick town was visited in 1673

Arnout Leers - 1665

In 1665 Dutch artist, Arnout Leers, engraved the lithograph on the left for a book written by Charles de Rochefort in 1658. Rochefort’s book described a large Native American town in the Georgia Mountains that contained a small, wood framed English Protestant Chapel. Leers, however, engraved a massive brick church with a steeple inside a European town built of brick. According to English explorers of the period, that town built of brick was actually in northeastern Tennessee.

This archive has been around, and generally ignored, for 340 years. Two Virginians, Robert Needham and Gabriel Arthur, were sent southwestward by their employer, Abraham Woods, to make contact with a cluster of culturally sophisticated Native towns in southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee. Back then the Tennessee was called the Calimako River (a Maya word meaning House of the King) while the Little Tennessee River was called the Tanasi River. The Calimako became the Tennessee River when Tennessee was preparing to enter the Union as a new state.

Collectively, the inhabitants of southwestern Virginia and northeastern Tennessee were known to Virginians by their Algonquian name, Tamahitan or Tomahitan. However, they called themselves the Tamahiti, which is an Itza Maya word meaning, “Merchant People.” The Tamahiti disappeared from the region in the early 1700s then reappeared on maps in southeastern Georgia as a division of the Province of Tama. Tama was visited by Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, in March of 1540.

The inhabitants of the southwestern Virginia section of the Blue Ridge Mountains were known to Virginians as the Oconechee. They called themselves the Okoneshe, which means “Offspring of the Oconee People.” The mother province of the Oconee in Georgia was also visited by Hernando de Soto in March of 1540. English and Spanish speakers consistently changed the Muskogean “she” sound to a “che” spelling. The Okoneshe disappeared from history in the 1700s. Not knowing the Creek language, Virginia historians have speculatively labeled them a Siouan people, but can’t figure out what their name means in Southern Siouan.
Until the early 1700s, the Upper Tennessee and Little Tennessee River Valleys were occupied by several Muskogean ethnic groups that called themselves the Koasati, Caskinampo (means Many Warriors), Tali, Itsate, Tanasi, Talasee, Tuskegee and Chiaha. During the early 1700s these groups moved southward into Alabama and Georgia.

Most history lovers are only familiar with the “edited” version Needham and Arthur’s journey that was published by University of North Carolina professor in the 1990s and is billed as “the first contact between the English and the Cherokee. The edited version is a blatant case of academic fraud because it substituted and deleted words to give a false version of history. In particular, the professor substituted the word Charakee for Tomahitan. There is no mention in the original text of any word similar to Cherokee or Rickohocken.

This is what the original text from the Virginia Commonwealth archives says: “This towne is seated on ye river side, haveing ye clefts of ye river on ye one side being very high for its defence . . . “
This is what is printed on most “North Carolina or Cherokee History” web sites: “The Charakee towne of Chote is on ye river side, having ye clefts of the Tanasi River on ye one side being very high for its defence . . . “ 

The professor "blew his cover" when he inserted Chote. Chote was a nickname for the town of Itsate that was not generally used until the 1720s or later.
The North Carolina professor also deleted references by Needham and Arthur about the fact that only Europeans were living in what all standard references label the original Cherokee heartland – northeastern Tennessee. Several other English and French explorers described Europeans and Africans living in northeastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and northern Georgia during the 1600s. All of their stories have been left out of the history books that students are issued.

The most remarkable deleted portion of the Needham and Arthur Expedition is their description of European and African towns in northeastern Tennessee. The towns occupied by Europeans that the Englishmen described as Spaniards, were built of brick. Those built by Africans were built from wood. The "Spaniards" who built the church were more likely eastern Anatolians, since the descriptions of the church and bell are identical to historic churches in Armenia and the Republic of Georgia.

Tennessee archaeologists have not tried to locate the large brick town mentioned by Needham and Arthur. There is probably insufficient information in the Needham-Arthur archives to pinpoint it. However, late 17th century maps show a large town at the confluence of the Tennessee and French Broad Rivers near present day Knoxville.

The original wording of the Needham and Arthur archive completely turns the American history books upside down. Below are some other sections of Abraham Wood’s description of the expedition in its original wording, maintained by Virginia Commonwealth Archives: (key words are emphasized)

“Eight dayes jorny down this river lives a white people which have long beardes and whiskers and weares clothing, and on some of ye other rivers lives a hairey people.”
“Ye prisoner relates that ye white people have a bell which is six foot over which they ring morning and evening and att that time a great number of people congregate togather and talkes he knowes not what. They have many blacks among them.”
“Now after ye tumult was over they make preparation for to manage ye warr for that is ye course of theire liveing to forage robb and spoyle other nations and the king commands Gabriell Arther to goe along with a party that went to robb ye Spanyard, promising him that in ye next spring hee him selfe would carry him home to his master.”
“They travelled eight days west and by south as he guest and came to a town of negroes, spatious and great, but all wooden buildings Heare they could not take anything without being spied. The next day they marched along by ye side of a great carte path, and about five or six miles as he judgeth came within sight of the Spanish town, walld about with brick and all brick buildings within. There he saw ye steeple where in hung ye bell which Mr. Needham gives relation of and harde it ring in ye evening.”
“Well, shall now give a relation, what my man hath discovered in all ye time that Mr. James Needham left him att ye Tomahitans to ye 18th of June 74. which was ye daye Gabriell arived att my house in safety with a Spanish Indian boy.”
“Ye 7th day a Spanniard in a gentille habitt, accoutered with gunn, sword and pistoll. one of ye Tomahittans espieing him att a distance crept up to ye path side and shot him to death.”
“By this meanes wee know this is not ye river ye Spanyards live upon as Mr. Needham did thinke.”
North America does have a concealed history.