Due to the recent 2012 emotions (& a very bad movie :), I'll try to give here a short and easy overview of the real Maya calendar and the Mayan script that were in "official" use from (at least) the 3rd century BC until AD 1697. It begins with an introduction to the Mesoamerican setting in which script and calendar evolved.
Vanwege de recente 2012 "perikelen" (en een bijzonder slechte film ;), zal ik proberen hier een klein overzichtje te geven van de echte Mayakalender, hun schrift ("officieel" in gebruik van de 3de euw voor Chr. tot 1697 na Chr.) en, om mee te beginnen, een kleine introductie van de Mesoamerikaanse wereld waarin schrift en kalender ontstonden.
Porque había muchas emociones recientemente (ya estamos en 2010! Solamente dos años antes el año 2012!!) y una película horrible, comenzaré aquí con una descripción pequeña al calendario y escritura maya (la escritura que era "oficial" a partir del tercer siglo a.C. hasta 1697 d.C.). También daré una introducción del mundo mesoamericano en el cual los dos originaron.
Mesoamerica writing(s) and calendar(s)
In Mesoamerica (by most specialists described as the southern half of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and the western/northern parts of Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica) writing probably started somewhere between 1000 and 500 BC. There is much debate about "the first" & "the first true" writing, especially after the 2006 discovery of the so called Cascajal Block.
Cascajal Block (+/-950BC): first mesoamerican writing?
Mesoamerica is home to many different native nations. The Mayas and Aztecs are the two famous ones but most people don't realize that they don't have much in common (except that both are living in what today is Mexico). Their language is completely different (and of course also very different from Spanish) as well as their cultures. Most interseting perhaps is that the Aztecs are much "younger" as a culture than "the Mayas". When the Spaniards arrived in 1519, the Aztec empire was not even a century old while "Maya culture" on the other hand, was already +/- 2000 years old by then.
The Mayas weren't the only ones to invent a script. Nor were they the first. The Cascajal Block (if genuine) in about 500 years older than the first Mayan writings and looks nothing like it.
The Mesoamerican calendar was, simply said, based on lunar and solar features, just like almost every modern calendar (be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, etc). In its basic form it is one single system, but the easiest way to explain it is to separate it in two. This is what specialists call the Long Count (started at a particular point in time), and the Short one (a system that rotates). Compare this with the modern Gregorian Calendar most people use today. That one has a "Long Count" which starts with the birth of Christ, and a "short" one, that starts the 1st of January, and ends on the 31st of December, only to begin again on the 1st of January.
Thus, the date: 25/12/2009 (or 12/25/2009) is a single date with "two" counting systems in it. It's the 25th day of December (a day that returns every 365 days), in the year 2009 after Christ (a date/year that appears only once).
There even is a third "short count" in the Gregorian calender: the week. A week has seven days, and after the seventh, the first one reappears. In the mean time however, this is also a "long" count, since the first Monday (let's say: Monday the first) is not exactly the same as the following one (Monday the eighth). Then again, a "Monday the first" may well reappear later, in another month or year.
So, just like the Maya/Mesoamerican one, the Gregorian calender is ONE calender with different counting systems.
Maya counting First something has to be said about the numbers people used. Of course the different cultures used different signs to annotate numbers, but they all used some basic forms.
A dot . represented 1 A bar __ was used to annotate 5
2 dots meant two, 2 bars was 10. Etc... More was not needed. There also was a zero (which was quite unique in the world and invented in the centuries before christ).
The Mayan system
In our system (which the West borrowed from the Arabs/Hindus), 56, actually is 5 tens ("fif-ty" in English: "fif' = 5, "ty" = 10) + 6. The number 83: 8 times 10 + 3 ("eigh"-"ty" + three)". This means we have a base 10 system.
In French (from France) however 83 is with base 20: 4 times 20 + 3 ("quatre-vingt -trois"). This way of counting numbers (in Europe still in use in the Celtic languages) was the normal way of counting in Mesoamerica. We count in tens, and after that: 10 x 10 (100) 10 x 10 x 10 (1000) 10 x 10 x10 x 10 (10.000) etc
In Mesoamerica they did the same with 20: 20 x 20 = 400 (they actually used 20 x 18 = 360 here, for the reason see below) 20 x 20 x 18 = 7200 20 x 20 x 20 x 18 = 144.000 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 x 18 = 2.880.000
So, with this basic kind of maths, plus the help of the "number" zero, people could add, subtract, and multiply numbers quite easily. An example can be seen here. To write down 5209, the Mayans did this:
That's 13 times 400 (5200) + 0 times 20 (0) + 9.
Maya calender These basic numbers got their own "day names". We don't know all the original ones, and some Mayan ones got a new "Mayanist" name. To give the 5 most common:
1 day = K'IN (original name, meaning: Sun) 20 days (= 20 K'ins) = WINAL 360 days = 18! Winals = 1 TUN (they took 18 instead of 20 because 360 is almost a solar year) 20 Tuns = 360 days x 20 = 7200 days = 1 KATUN 20 Katuns = 7200 days x 20 = 144.000 days = 1 BAKTUN
Calendar: two in one Like I said above, although there was one basic calendar, it's much more easy to explain it as if there were two: a Long Count, and a "short" one. To begin with the "short" one.
The "short" one was the one most used, in almost all Mesoamerican cultures. Again we can devide it in two, a "solar" count (365 days, now called Haab in the Maya calendar), and a "lunar" count (260 days, now called Tzolk'in in the Maya calendar). Since 20 was the number to work with, the 365 days were devided into 18 "months" of 20 days (360 : 20 = 18) + another "month" of 5 extra days. The Tzolk'in 260-days count was devided into 13 times 20 day signs (260 : 20 = 13).
An example for the Tzolk'in count: When we combine the 20 lunar days (I give them here the names A to T) with the numbers, 1 to 13 , and we get this:
A1, B2, C3, D4, E5, F6, G7, H8, I9, J10, K11, L12, M13, and then (since we only have 13 numbers) N1, followed by O2, P3, Q4, R5, S6, and T7. After that we have exhausted all 20 day signs, so we are back with A. So the next one is A8, followed by B9, C10, D11, E12, F13, and... G1, etc, etc, until all combinations have been tried and we're back with A1. That is after 260 days...
Interpolating the Haab and Tzolk'in (other peoples, like the Aztecs, of course used other names) calendars, the Mesoamericans created a time cycle of 52 years (18.980 days), which is called the Calendar Round. Again, all combinations are used then, and we can start all over again. This is what we can compare with a century.
With all this information people (mostly priests and nobility of course) could calculate with huge numbers. The nobles could also commemorate important events, like battles, or festivities.
Revisa parlamento venezolano normativas sobre indígenas
Caracas, 18 nov (PL)
Una comisión del parlamento venezolano revisó hoy el Anteproyecto de Ley de Coordinación de la Jurisdicción Especial Indígena con el Sistema de Justicia y el artículo 17 del Proyecto de Ley del Artesano Indígena.
El mencionado artículo fue diferido por la plenaria de la Asamblea Nacional para la sesión de este jueves, informó este miércoles el vicepresidente de la Comisión de Pueblos Indígenas, Egildo Palau.
Según Palau, analizaron dos anteproyectos elaborados en la referida comisión sobre la Ley de Coordinación de la Jurisdicción Especial Indígena con el Sistema de Justicia, los cuales se enviarán a la Subcomisión de Legislación Indígena para presentar el definitivo.
Recordó que esta normativa plantea como objetivo "el establecimiento de los principios y mecanismos de coordinación de la jurisdicción especial indígena con el sistema judicial nacional, basado en el reconocimiento del carácter multiétnico y pluricultural de la sociedad venezolana".
“El movimiento indígena puso en contradicción las normas de los DD. HH internacionales" Por Manuel LONKOPAN ((i)) Pueblos Originarios
Así lo señaló el Ex Relator de Derechos Humanos y Libertades Fundamentales de los Indígenas de las Naciones Unidades, Rodolfo Stavenhagen quien visitó el martes 17 de octubre la ciudad de La Plata, invitado a la “Jornada de Pueblos Originarios y Derechos Humanos. Debates contemporáneos”, actividad organizada por el Instituto de Derecho Humano de la Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Sociales perteneciente a la Universidad Nacional de esta ciudad y el Movimiento Internacional Contra el Racismo y la Discriminación. En un auditorio repleto del Colegio de Abogados de la Provincia de Buenos Aires Stavenhagen brindo una conferencia referida a los derechos internacionales de los pueblos originarios y sus implicancias en los países de Latinoamérica.
Continuó su presentación señalando que “la visión que tienen nuestros países sobre los pueblos originarios en general es un pensamiento ligado al pasado ya superado, en el mejor de los casos pertenecen a los museos y en los textos de historia brillan por su ausencia”. Pero a juicio del ex relator esto ha cambiado en las últimas décadas, “por eso hoy podemos hablar de un fenómeno sociológico, político, jurídico de emergencia como son los movimientos indígenas en América latina y que son parte de nuestra sociedad” señaló a los asistentes.
La irrupción de los pueblos originarios ha ido configurando un nuevo mapa político en los Estados de Latinoamérica y que pone en crisis las constituciones de los países, “un ejemplo claro es Bolivia donde se ha declarado un estado multicultural y nueva política de estado hacia los pueblos originarios”. Es decir se esta cuestionando el modelo básico de estos Estados por el sector social emergente que representan los pueblos originarios a poco de cumplirse el bicentenario, y esto no es menor y menos aun casual a juicio del representante de Naciones Unidas en cuestiones indígenas.
Esto obliga además a repensar la concepción que se tiene de los conceptos de los “Derechos Humanos”, para tomar en consideración estos fenómenos históricamente nuevos referido a la presencia de los pueblos originarios, “estos no sucede solo a nivel de los países, sino también hacia el interior de las estructura de las instituciones de los derechos humanos. Hoy se puede afirmar que los pueblos indígenas son nuevos sujetos del derecho internacional” señaló.
Desde las primeras declaraciones en términos de Derecho Humano de Naciones Unidas no aparecían los derechos indígenas, puesto que esta se contrapone con la concepción colectiva de los pueblos originarios, “el Derecho Humano tiene como espíritu el resguardo individual de los hombres y mujeres sin discriminación, eso es importante porque hasta mediado del siglo XX muchos países no aceptaban esto. La importancia del reconocimiento de la Naciones Unidas a los derechos indígenas, puso en evidencia la contradicción de las normas con la realidad, porque por primera vez se habla de derechos colectivos, la ley es igual para todos pero la sociedad de cada país no es heterogénea. Lo indígena no es solamente un atributo individual, es mucho más, es sentirse parte de una identidad colectiva, no solo histórica sino también geográfica, donde la territorialidad es parte esencial de la identidad” enfatizó. Y reconoció que este no es un debate acabado en términos de los derechos humanos a nivel internacional.
“Mucho se ha discutido que hacer ante esto”, señaló Stavenhagen, “porque hay una desigualdad en los hechos, los pueblos originarios buscan igualdad pero también plantean sus diferencias culturales y sociales traídas de las culturas ancestrales de esos territorios que pertenecen y hoy están bajo las jurisprudencia de los países”. Esto comenzó a cuestionar el modelo, por las crecientes demandas de los pueblos originarios a la opinión pública, a sus propios gobiernos y principalmente hacia el sistema internacional, reconoció el Ex Relator de la ONU.
Esto se refleja en la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Indígena del 13 de septiembre del año 2007, donde 147 países lo ratificaron positivamente. Para Rodolfo Stavenhagen esto abrió una nueva perspectiva en término de los derechos indígena a nivel internacional. “hay un reconocimiento a la libre determinación de los pueblos, muchos países se oponen a esto y es obvio que lo hagan, pero la declaración trata de delimitar esto porque no se trata de separación o fragmentación de los estados nacionales, sino lo que sea plantea es en términos de los derechos humanos y es importante porque se trata de la libre decisión de los pueblos sobre su propio existir, sus propios futuros y al manejo de las políticas publicas, de sus recursos naturales a nivel interno y regional” señaló. Esto esta plasmado en el Articulo 4 de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Indígenas, donde además reconoce la autonomía y autogobierno derivados de la autodeterminación de cada pueblo.
A diferencia de la ONU la Organización de Estados Americanos aún continua discutiendo una declaración, “son nuestros gobiernos y ahí esta nuestra responsabilidad como ciudadanos, que señales les mandamos en materia de derechos humanos sobre los pueblos originarios” enfatizó.
Existe muchos avances en los últimos 20 años referido a derechos indígenas a nivel internacional, pero también hay mucho retroceso en reformas legislativas en America latina, “todavía en nuestros parlamentos hay voces que de ninguna manera quieren reconocer estos derechos y hay acciones de gobierno, como es el caso de Chile donde se emplea legislaciones dictatoriales de la época de Pinochet para castigar y criminalizar a los indígenas que procuran defender sus territorios ante los embates de la globalización y explotación de sus recursos naturales”, señaló Stavenhagen.
Todo este proceso conforma un panorama nuevo que está en pleno desarrollo, preocupa que “la opinión publica de nuestros países parece ser que no se ha dado cuenta” y esto se refleja en la “visión que todavía tenemos a través de los medios, a través de los discursos oficiales es que se tiene esta visión de vestigio del pasado y que los pueblos originario son los menos valorados en la concepción de la nación y de la sociedad” señaló. http://www.mapuexpress.net/?act=news&id=4989
Cerca de 600 indígenas participam de conferência nacional para discutir educação nas aldeias A qualificação de professores e a adequação da infraestrutura das escolas são hoje os maiores desafios para levar o ensino fundamental às populações indígenas, de acordo com o coordenador-geral de educação indígena da Secretaria de Educação Continuada, Alfabetização e Diversidade (Secad) do Ministério da Educação, Gersem Baniwa.
O país tem hoje cerca de 2,6 mil escolas para uma população de mais de 200 mil indígenas. Dos 12 mil professores de áreas indígenas, 36% pertencem às comunidades. Segundo Baniwa, a maioria dos docentes precisa de aperfeiçoamento adequado para compreender e implementar características interculturais.
O especialista lembra que, há alguns anos, os professores davam aulas em português para um público que preferia falar a língua nativa e esse era um dos motivos para que os alunos não conseguissem aprender. Ele afirma que os educadores, em vista da realidade cultural desse público, têm que primeiro educá-los na sua língua para depois então alfabetizá-los na língua portuguesa.
Baniwa acredita que a realização da 1ª Conferência Nacional de Educação Escolar Indígena (Coneei), que tem início hoje (16), em Luziânia, é um marco histórico uma vez que discutirá as reivindicações das comunidades - que já fizeram 18 conferências regionais para pautar seus interesses na área de educação. O evento reunirá especialistas, educadores e comunidades indígenas de todo o país e se estenderá até a sexta-feira (20), com a presença de 600 delegados, que representam 210 povos.
O trabalho direcionado aos índios é feito pelo MEC com apoio da Fundação Nacional do Índio (Funai). A educação indígena, hoje, segundo o professor, abandonou a visão integracionista do passado e procura dar foco na valorização das culturas.
Segundo Baniwa, já foi possível avançar significativamente na qualidade do material didático específico, entretanto, é preciso "melhorar mais pois os avanços dos últimos dez anos vêm em contraponto a centenas de anos em que os índios não contavam com apoio educacional". O fornecimento de material didático específico para indígenas é uma das grandes reivindicações dos povos tradicionais.
O coordenador destacou que o ministro da Educação, Fernando Haddad, está organizando um programa que pretende levar educação volante, em barcos, para populações nômades que se deslocam de suas aldeias sazonalmente, procurando sustento de acordo com a propensão de cada lugar ao longo do ano. A ideia é construir barcos que atendam às populações que se dedicam ao extrativismo da castanha, da piaçava ou que mudam de local quando os rios estão cheios. http://noticias.terra.com.br/brasil/noticias/0,,OI4104718-EI306,00.html
Newest discovery (excavations started in 2004) at the Maya city of Kaan (Snake), better known as Calakmul. Together with Mutal (better known as Tikal) it was the mightiest city in the Classic Period (+/- AD 300 - 900). The mural was found in the south façade of Building 1, in the area known as North Acropolis or Chik Naab. So the Sombrero really IS Mexican ;)
Nieuwste ontdekking (eerste werk aan deze ontdekking begon in 2004) in de Mayastad Kaan (Slang), beter bekend onder de naam Calakmul. Samen met Mutal (beter bekend onder de naam Tikal) was het de machtigste stad uit de Klassieke Periode (+/- 300 - 900 na Chr.). De muur is gevonden in de zuidelijke façade van Gebouw 1 van de Noordelijke Acropolis/Chik Naab. Dus de Sombrero is écht Mexicaans! :)
Nuevo descubrimiento (localizado en 2004) en la ciudad Maya de Kaan (Serpiente, conocido como Calakmul. Junto con Mutal (Tikal), Kaan era la ciudad más poderosa del Período Clásico (+/- 300 - 900 d.C.). Se trata de un mural en la fachada sur del Edificio I, en el área conocida como la Acrópolis Norte o Chik Naab ¡Pues, el sombrero sí es mexicano! :)
Praeterea scitio, in Fundaribus, qui tractus est inter Mexicum, & Dariem, fodinas esse orichalci: quòd nullo igni, nullis Hispanicis atribus hactenus liquescere potuit.
Julius Caesar Scaliger (1557)
(Furtherore, in the foundries, it is known that there are deposits of a metal, which is mined between Mexico and Panama, that hitherto cannot be melted by fire nor by any Spanish techniques.)
This silver-like metal can be seen here. Although Europeans found it in South America between 1500 and 1550, they only learned to work with it in the late 18th century. Today it is more expansive than the gold and silver the Spaniards were looking for... They called it "little silver" because they couldn't melt it (+/- 1750 degrees celsius, versus iron 1540 degrees celsius); thus found it worthless... "plat-ina".
Platina was probably discovered by native Ecuadorians (of the so called La Tolita-Tumaco culture) around 700 BC. The Ecuadorian-Colombian border area remained the principal mining area until the arrival of the Spaniards.
Native Metallurgy: a world to discover
It is often assumed that American metallurgy before 1492 was somehow inferior to the metallurgy that was in use in the "Old World". One of the arguments is that the Amerindians lacked iron or bronze. The reasoning goes as follows: in Eurasia there was a Stone Age, a Copper Age, a Bronze Age, and an Iron Age. The Iron Age (which had started around 1500 BC) ended when the Roman Empire took over in Europe, around the time of Christ. In 1492, when Columbus entered the Americas, he was greeted by natives still living in the Stone Age. As a matter of fact, the superior European weapons, like the steel swords of Toledo, were one reason why the Spaniards conquered most of the American continent within 50 to 100 years. Today, remnants of the Stone Age Tribes that once inhabited America, can be found in the Amazonian rainforest.
Unfortunately, there is more than one error in this story.
Metallurgy in the "Old World"
People began woking metals in Eastern Europe, Anatolia (Turkey), the Caucasus, and Mesopotamia between 5000 and 4000 BC But it was in Mesopotamia that the Copper Age & Bronze age (+/- 3000 BC) really came to be. It was followed around 1500 BC by the Iron Age. The main problem with this story is that it only seems valid for the Middle East. Many places simple skipped an "Age". Most of Africa went directly from the "Stone Age" to the "Iron Age" between 1500BC and +/- AD 500. Also in East Asia, there wasn't really a Copper Age, and although bronze was (only) somewhat earlier than iron, bronze was mainly used for art (vessels, drums, etc) and in use long after the introduction of iron (mainly used for working tools). Another thing is that in Europe, the native Copper Age in the east collapsed around 3800, probably due to the scarcity of resources. It reapeared later, comming from the Middle East. By 2000 BC bronze from the British isles (with its huge tin mines) was very popular and spread over the continent. It was only when tin and copper (together bronze) became scarcer, that iron became popular. Gold and silver (both were, with copper, the first known metals) were never really used for making tools because they were to soft and scarce. They were however valued by most cultures and came into use as trade items (which in some cases evolved, just as copper did, in money).
Americas: Northern Traditions
Around the same time as in the "Old World", people in North America started to work with copper. This copper was extracted from the Great Lakes area. Eventually this tradition developed into the Old Copper Culture (from +/- 3500 BC).
From the Great Lakes area, copper (working) spread to the east, north, south, and west. A good website about the Old Copper Culture and copper working in North America is http://copperculture.homestead.com/.
The use of copper in North America remained important until and even after the arrival of the Europeans. The first Europeans, like the Italian Verrazzano (along the east coast in 1524) found out that "the indians" found copper much more interesting than iron. Since it was such a wanted item, Europeans started to trade their copper for American animal hides. This was the beginning of the later Fur Trade that dominated the North American continent between 1600 and 1750.
Copper Celts of the Mississippian Period (+/-800- 1550)
(Most famous) Mississippian copper profile
Mississippian copper mask
Another copper-working technology developed in southern Alaska, probably in the first half of the first millennium AD, and probably influenced by similar developments in eastern Siberia with which there was a lot of contact. This tradition spread south to the North American West Coast, to the Arctic, and to the east, where it met the eastern copper tradition.
West coast copper
19th century example of West Coast copper, used as money
Where west and east meet each other: copper spear heads from present day Canadian province Manitoba
Although copper was the most popular metal, others were used too, like silver (Ontario) and iron. Iron came from three sources, all in the north: Siberia (from where it arrived in Alaska around AD 500), the Canadian and Greenlandic arctic, and via Greenland with the Scandinavians (Vikings) from Europe. And it had two forms: meteoric iron (mainly from Greenland were a huge meteorite provided plenty of material), and "terrestal" iron. Another source form pre-Columbian iron in North America was "drift iron" which arrived directly (due to storms; direct contact is possible but not proven yet) from East Asia at the North American West Coast.
Hopewell (eastern US, 100BC- AD 500) earspool made of copper and silver that came from present-day Ontario
Iron from the West Coast (modern replica)
"Drift Coins" from China became part of Tlingit style (West Coast) armor.
Meteoric iron spear from the Greenland meteorite
another example of meteoric iron (knife)
South American traditions
oldest American gold so far (2000bc)
In South America, metal working (first gold, later copper) started about 4000 years ago in the central Andes, in Bolivia and Peru. Around a thousand years later, people started to work with gold and copper in Colombia and Ecuador. In Colombia a new technique was developed which resulted in the creation of Tumbaga, an alloy of gold (and sometimes a bit of silver) and copper. It makes copper harder (almost as hard as bronze or iron) but also easier to smelt (at aprox. 900 degrees celsius, +/- 200 degrees lower than gold or copper). Casting and the so called "cire perdue method" (in English known nas "lost wax method") became extremely popular. From Colombia this new tradition spread northwards into Central America, and eastwards towards the Carribean and Amazonia. The older southern Andean tradition spread further southwards, to Argentina and Chile (+/- 500 BC). The Colombian tradition reached Mexico around AD 600 from the south. But it probably also reached western Mexico by sea, via the Pacific. Scholars are sure the southeren (Peruvian) tradition indeed did so around AD1200 when mettalurgy reached western Mexico from northern Peru and Ecuador. How this was done however isn't entirely clear, but likely due to the huge sailed Ecuadorian balsa rafts landing at the Mexican coast.
At around AD500, people around Lake Titicaca (but also in Ecuador), probably part of the Tiwanaku state, introduced arsenic to their mettalurgy and the use of arsenical bronze spread with Tiwanaku and the Wari (in Peru) empire to the south and north. The use of tin bronze started some 500 years later but both bronzes apearently never made it farther north than southern Colombia because of the lack of arsenicum and tin farther north. The trade over seas between the Andes and Mexico however, again brought these southern traditions (AD 1200) towards Mesoamerica where people first just copied the Andeans, and later created their own bronze items.
above: arsenic bronze from Peruvian northcoast. right: tin bronze axe from northwestern Argentina
left: Mayan bronze celts
right: Argentinian bronze plate
Other metals, like zinc, nickel (in bronzes), and meteoric iron were also used in the Andes, but where less important. The exact role of platinum (see above) is not clear. It was often used with gold (gold being the "mother metal", often in a 70-30% relationship), but there are also items that contain more than 50% of this metal that is so difficult to melt (also interesting is that - usually - the more platinum was used, the more iron an item contained, sometimes up to 5% or more).
Left: Gold & Platinum ring (Ecuador)
Right: Meteroric iron hammer from Colombia
The Tumbaga (the gold-copper alloy) is perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of this story because it was so widely used. When Columbus landed in the Carribean the Taino called in Guanín and made it clear that they didn't know how to make it but imported it from the mainland in the south. People in Panama used the same word and in the Guyana's and Amazonia, it was often called by it's Carrib name, Caracoli (Karakoli). It was considered a very special and powerful item, and there were aproximatly three important centers outside the Andean word.
One of them was at the banks of the Rio Negro in Brasil and gave rise to the legend of El Dorado. The Manoa kingdom was said to posses and make thousands of gold items. It drove early (and later!) European explores mad, especially because they were looking for "pure" gold, which of course wasn't what the Amazonians were making. Tumbaga, guanín, caracoli... The Spaniards and other Europeans called it "fake" or "low" gold, and they kept on looking for the REAL gold man, somewhere hiding in the forrest.
Casted Tumbaga from Colombia (left) and Panama (right)
Although the ancient Mexicans (Mesoamericans) got their metallurgy very late from their southeren neighbours (around AD 600), that doesn't mean they should be left out of this story. First of all, although there isn't any evidence they melted it, the Olmecs (from 1300 BC onwards) used enourmous amounts of iron ore. This was imported from the modern Mexican state of Guerrero and a lot of it was used to make mirrors, just like the Romans did in Europe a thousand years later. There is also some evidence these ancient Mexicans knew about the magnatism of iron and used it as a compass (again, a thousand years earlier than people in the "Old World", the Chinese, who are often credited for this invention.). One of the reasons why metallurgy came that late to Mesoamerica is probably the status of jade(ite). This mineral was mined in Guatemala and had an enourmous prestige amoung Mesoamericans (since Olmec times), just like tumbaga, gold and silver had in the south. Jadeite is very hard (harder than iron or "normal" steel), yet Mesoamericans knew how to work and carve it into various objects.
World famous Jade(ite) mask of Mayan lord Pacal (Palenque) Jadeite toucan from Costa Rica
When South American metals arrived, Mesoamericans developed their own rich traditions that after a while also started to expand. This is how Mesoamerican (and indirectly South American) metallurgy came into the area of the northen tradition. Through trade, the North American southwest got (amoung other things) copper bells from Mexico while "Southwesterner's" exported (again, amoung other things) turquoise.
Mixtec (Oaxaca, Mexico) metalwork
It is not (yet) known however if the two distinctive traditions (north & south) really "touched" each other; and if so, where. Until now the evidence isn't that strong, but that's also because there hasn't been that much research. Perhaps someone will pick it up some day.
Mexican copper bells from present day Arizona South American gold found in Florida
...Significantly, Obama imposed a time limit as part of the executive order, which he signed in front of the tribal attendees. The memorandum directs every Cabinet agency head to provide the president a detailed plan within 90 days of how they will implement and improve tribal consultation.
During a break after the signing, several tribal leaders heralded the move.
Derek Bailey, chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, said he was especially impressed that the president imposed a tight deadline for agencies to begin complying.
“Too many times these kinds of orders just sit there. This is a strong call for rather immediate action.”
The president noted, too, that he’s hired several Native Americans to fill key roles in his administration, while also dramatically increasing financial support to various tribal programs, including those of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.
Myra Pearson, chairwoman of the Spirit Lake Tribe, said she had intrinsic feelings Obama would take those kinds of positive steps for Indian country if he was elected.
“He promised me he would make change, and I believed him. Today, he proved us both right. I think it will continue.”
The day was not meant for the president and his agency officials to simply tout their merits. Tribal leaders were also invited to interact with the administration, explaining their own concerns – not an easy task by any means, considering the unique and specific conditions facing each tribal nation.
Common desires did emerge, however. Generally, tribal leaders said they want the administration to respect tribal sovereignty, promote self-determination, conduct consultation and increase funding in health, education, law enforcement and other key areas.
Tribal leaders also appeared to grow sharper as the day wore on. After a morning session during which a few gushed that they wanted to shake the president’s hand, leaders in the afternoon sessions carried out a more coordinated plan, highlighting broad issues by region and topic area.
Some had been disappointed after early discussions that more topics weren’t getting across. Groups of leaders chatted during lunch to formulate an on-the-fly approach to make better use of the day based on regional issues.
“Laying our concerns out by region seemed to make sense and helped spell out areas that need meaningful action,” said James Ransom, chief of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council.
Ned Norris Jr., chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, expanded on the idea, saying he would like the administration to hold regional meetings with tribes in the future in order to better address tribal concerns.
The region-based tactic at the conference appeared successful, as tribal leaders ended up achieving new promises in several key areas from top administration officials.
On the issue of tribes and homeland security, which Ransom raised, Department of Homeland Security officials said they would consider provisions that would better address specific tribal situations. Along those lines, they said they are supportive of legislation that would provide financial support to tribes that produce identification cards.
Ransom also noted that there are only three countries that have not signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, including Canada, Australia and the United States.
While Obama himself did not promise to sign the document, which is aimed at ending human rights violations against the world’s indigenous people, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he is urging the president to do so.
Obama did make a pledge toward ending violence against Native Americans. In his opening remarks, he related the statistic that one in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. He said the grim figure represented “an assault on our national conscience that we can no longer ignore” – noted as a major acknowledgment by many tribal leaders.
Later, a new agency pledge occurred after tribal leaders discussed an ongoing lawsuit of tribal farmers suing the United States Department of Agriculture based on alleged discriminatory financial assistance practices.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told the leaders that he knew the litigation has been going on for a considerable period of time, and he added that he is committed to resolving it. To date, agency officials had not made that kind of promise.
Another area of responsiveness to tribal leaders’ concerns arose after Jonathan Windy Boy, a Chippewa Cree Tribal Council member and a Montana state representative, said the administration should support a permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, so Native Americans don’t have to beg to see their basic health care rights fulfilled every few years.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was amenable to the idea.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and the only Native American serving in Congress, said he was impressed by the tribal leaders’ prowess.
“I think they’ve done a very good job,” the lawmaker assessed.
“The turnout, respect and desire to work together have been amazing. The ideas are just there.”
In terms of follow-up on promises made during the conference, Jodi Archambault Gillette, the Obama administration’s Standing Rock Sioux intergovernmental affairs adviser, said she and others would create a report focused on moving forward.
Several tribal leaders said they would press for quick release of the report.
The historic nature of the event was also celebrated by many attendees.
“We’re definitely living history,” said W. Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. He noted that President Bill Clinton started many initiatives that tribal officials viewed as positive, and he said Obama is now expanding on them.
“He wants to be more engaged, have truly more dialogue,” the National Congress of American Indians board member said.
“That’s a different kind of relationship – a better one.”
Obama himself said the event was the largest and most widely attended gathering of tribal leaders in the nation’s history.
Chad Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, took a slightly different view.
“You know, every day is a historic day in Indian country,” the tribal leader said.
“Some have been better than others. And this is one of the better ones.”
Obama diz a indígenas americanos: "Vocês não serão esquecidos"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - O presidente Barack Obama prometeu na quinta-feira a líderes indígenas norte-americanos acabar com o descaso e as promessas não cumpridas do governo em relação às tribos, e afirmou: "vocês não serão esquecidos".
Obama, que contou com grande apoio indígena na eleição presidencial do ano passado, cumpriu uma promessa de sua campanha ao levar para Washington centenas de representantes de tribos indígenas reconhecidas, que apresentaram suas reivindicações a altos funcionários do governo.
Reconhecendo a relação historicamente difícil com os índios, Obama prometeu trabalhar com os líderes tribais para enfrentar problemas de saúde, criminalidade, educação e meio ambiente.
"Poucos grupos foram mais marginalizados e ignorados por Washington, e por tanto tempo, quanto os indígenas, os primeiros americanos", disse Obama. "Estou totalmente comprometido em forjar com vocês um futuro novo e melhor".
"Vocês não serão esquecidos enquanto eu estiver nesta Casa Branca", disse ele a uma multidão de mais de 500 pessoas reunida no Departamento do Interior.
A maioria das pessoas trajava roupas de trabalho convencionais; alguns usavam ornamentos tradicionais na cabeça, coletes bordados e penas nos cabelos.
Um líder tribal do estado norte-americano de Wisconsin deu a Obama o nome indígena de "Aquele que Cuida dos Outros", e um homem que usava enfeites de guerra na cabeça disse ao presidente que queria dar o enfeite a ele.
Em uma sessão de perguntas e respostas, várias pessoas agradeceram a Obama por tentar restaurar a confiança das tribos, mas pediram que ele fizesse mais.
Obama falou de sua própria trajetória, observando que nasceu de mãe adolescente e que foi abandonado pelo pai quando tinha dois anos de idade.
"Entendo o que significa ser um outsider", disse.
Observando que o desemprego em algumas reservas indígenas chegava a 80 por cento e que um quarto dos indígenas americanos vive na pobreza, Obama assinou diante da plateia um memorando presidencial instruindo membros do gabinete a apresentarem, no prazo de 90 dias, propostas para melhorar as relações com as tribos indígenas.
Ele disse que o documento vai reativar uma ordem da época de Bill Clinton que foi ignorada pela administração de George W. Bush.
Obama promet aux Amérindiens la fin des belles paroles
Le président Barack Obama a promis jeudi aux tribus amérindiennes la fin "des belles paroles" et un dialogue renouvelé pour résoudre les difficultés de cette minorité "marginalisée et ignorée", au cours d'une réunion historique ou l'émotion était palpable.
"L'histoire que nous partageons, on la connaît. Une histoire marquée par la violence, la maladie, les privations. Les traités ont été violés. Les promesses rompues", a déclaré le président Obama devant les représentants des 564 tribus officiellement enregistrées aux Etats-Unis, des Cherokee de l'Oklahoma aux indiens Navajo du Nouveau-Mexique en passant par les Séminoles de Floride ou les Indiens d'Alaska.
Au cours de cette conférence tribale d'une journée au ministère de l'intérieur, la première de cette ampleur en présence d'un président en exercice, les représentants des tribus indiennes ont évoqué les multiples difficultés de leurs communautés ravagées par le chômage, l'alcoolisme, les suicides, la pauvreté et le diabète.
Les Etats-unis comptent officiellement quelque 4,5 millions d'Indiens (2 millions sans compter la mixité), soit 1,5% de la population.
Un Indien sur quatre vit dans la pauvreté. Dans certaines réserves, le taux de chômage atteint 80% et 14% des logements y sont sans électricité, selon les chiffres cités par Barack Obama lui-même.
L'alcoolisme tue 6 fois plus L'espérance de vie des indiens est de 4,6 ans plus courte (72,3 ans) que celle d'un Américain moyen tandis que l'alcoolisme tue six fois plus qu'ailleurs dans le pays. Les taux de mortalité par tuberculose ou par diabète sont respectivement de 750% et de 190% supérieurs à la moyenne nationale, selon les services de la santé indienne.
Quant aux suicides, ils touchent 18 individus sur 100.000 parmi les Indiens contre 11 en moyenne aux Etats-Unis.
"Le suicide est un sérieux problème en Alaska. Chez les jeunes hommes de 15 à 27 ans, il est 12 fois supérieur à la moyenne nationale. Donnez-nous des fonds pour combattre le suicide", a plaidé Bill Martin, président des Tlingit-Haida d'Alaska, avant de résumer: "beaucoup d'Indiens et d'indigènes de l'Alaska vivent dans un pays du tiers monde".
"Nous demandons que vous nous aidiez à assurer une meilleure éducation, une vie meilleure à nos enfants et nous vous aimons!", a lancé la présidente des Sioux Oglala, Tera Tibulz, devant un président Obama visiblement ému et presque décontenancé face à l'intensité des attentes de cette communauté à qui il a promis des jours meilleurs au cours de sa campagne.
Tenues traditionnelles Le président Obama a dévolu 3 milliards de dollars de son plan de relance à la communauté indienne pour l'aider à faire face à la crise et nommé une indienne Cherokee conseillère à la Maison Blanche pour les affaires indiennes.
Loin du folklore, pour cette réunion empreinte de gravité, peu de participants arboraient des tenues traditionnelles.
"Nous devons rétablir nos droits tribaux et changer la gestion de nos terres", a affirmé Jefferson Keel, président du Congrès national des Indiens américains, réclamant de meilleures relations avec les Etats et le gouvernement fédéral.
"C'est un événement majeur", commentait Richard Milanovich, président des Agua Caliente Band of Chuilla Indians de Californie. "Nous avons eu des réunions avant avec les présidents Clinton et Bush mais pas de cette ampleur, avec tant de dirigeants", notait ce responsable la veille de la conférence dans le journal californien Desert Sun.
Barack Obama se reúne con líderes indígenas en la Casa Blanca El Presidente estadounidense ordenó a su gabinete proponer maneras de buscar una mejor comunicación entre los aborígenes y el Gobierno.
WASHINGTON.- El Presidente estadounidense, Barack Obama, prometió hoy mejorar las relaciones con los indígenas estadounidenses y poner fin al descuido de las autoridades, durante una conferencia en la Casa Blanca a la que acudieron los líderes de 564 tribus reconocidas federalmente.
El Mandatario prometió avanzar con esos grupos y construir juntos "un futuro nuevo y mejor".
En un primer paso, Obama firmó un memorándum en el que se pide a cada miembro de su gabinete que proponga maneras de buscar una mejor comunicación entre esos grupos y el Gobierno.
Además, Obama nombró a una india cherokee como asesora en la Casa Blanca para conformar la futura política indígena del gobierno estadounidense.
"Quiero poner en orden esta relación", dijo Obama. Los indios deben ser "socios valorados" en la economía estadounidense, para que sus hijos y nietos puedan hacer realidad el sueño americano, añadió.
El Mandatario reconoció el papel de los primeros colonizadores, que trajeron enfermedades y expulsaron a los indígenas de sus tierras, y dijo que los pueblos aborígenes fueron ignorados hasta la actualidad.
"Pocos han sido más marginados e ignorados por Washington como los nativos estadounidense, nuestros primeros estadounidenses", dijo Obama.
"Es una historia marcada por la violencia, la enfermedad y las penurias. Los tratados fueron violados. Las promesas, rotas. Y se les dijo que sus tierras, su religión, sus culturas, sus lenguas no podían seguir siendo suyas", añadió el Mandatario.
"Y es una historia que tenemos que reconocer si queremos avanzar", añadió.
Obama prometió ayudar a combatir la pobreza que avanza de forma rampante entre la mayoría de las comunidades tribales que quedan en el país y que afecta a una cuarta parte de los indígenas. En el plan de estímulo fiscal aprobado en febrero estaban destinadas a las mismas unos 3.000 millones de dólares.
Además, Obama dibujó un sombrío panorama de estas comunidades: en muchas reservas el desempleo alcanza el 80 por ciento, más del 14 por ciento de sus viviendas no tienen electricidad e incluso acceso a agua potable.
En la conferencia se habló también de violación de contratos, soberanía, explotación de reservas de materias primas y cuestiones de sanidad, educación y construcción de viviendas.
El cambio de gobierno en Washington trajo esperanza de una mejor relación con el gobierno: "Estoy convencido de que el Presidente Obama nos tiende la mano", dijo Janice Rowe-Kurak, de Iowa, al diario "The New York Times".
The White House Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release November 05, 2009 Remarks by the President During the Opening of the Tribal Nations Conference & Interactive Discussion with Tribal Leaders Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.
9:37 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Please, everybody have a seat. Thank you to Jefferson Keel, thanks for the wonderful introduction; to Clarence Jackson for the invocation. Good morning to all of you. I am honored to be with you today at this unique and historic event, the largest and most widely attended gathering of tribal leaders in our history. (Applause.) And I am so grateful to many members of Congress who could join us today, along with several members of my Cabinet who will be participating in this conference today.
You know, a couple of summers ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Crow Nation in Montana. And while I was there, I was adopted into the nation by a wonderful couple, Hartford and Mary Black Eagle. I know what they're saying now: "Kids grow up so fast." (Laughter.) Only in America could the adoptive son of Crow Indians grow up to become President of the United States. (Applause.)
It's now been a year since the American people went to the polls and gave me this extraordinary privilege and responsibility. And part of what accounts for the hope people felt on that day, I think, was a sense that we had an opportunity to change the way Washington worked; a chance to make our federal government the servant not of special interests, but of the American people. It was a sense that we had an opportunity to bring about meaningful change for those who had for too long been excluded from the American Dream.
And few have been more marginalized and ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans -- our First Americans.
We know the history that we share. It's a history marked by violence and disease and deprivation. Treaties were violated. Promises were broken. You were told your lands, your religion, your cultures, your languages were not yours to keep. And that's a history that we've got to acknowledge if we are to move forward.
We also know our more recent history; one in which too often, Washington thought it knew what was best for you. There was too little consultation between governments. And that's a major reason why things are the way they are today. Some of your reservations face unemployment rates of up to 80 percent. Roughly a quarter of all Native Americans live in poverty. More than 14 percent of all reservation homes don't have electricity; and 12 percent don't have access to a safe water supply. In some reservations as many as 20 people live together just to get by. Without real communication and consultation, we're stuck year after year with policies that don't work on issues specific to you and on broader issues that affect all of us. And you deserve to have a voice in both.
I know that you may be skeptical that this time will be any different. You have every right to be and nobody would have blamed you if you didn't come today. But you did. And I know what an extraordinary leap of faith that is on your part.
And that's why I want you to know that I'm absolutely committed to moving forward with you and forging a new and better future together. It's a commitment that's deeper than our unique nation-to-nation relationship. It's a commitment to getting this relationship right, so that you can be full partners in the American economy, and so your children and your grandchildren can have a equal shot at pursuing the American Dream. And that begins by fulfilling the promises I made to you during my campaign.
I promised you a voice on my senior staff in the White House so that you'd have a seat at the table when important decisions are being made about your lives, your nations, and your people. And that's why I appointed Kimberly Teehee of the Cherokee Nation as my Native American policy advisor; and Jodi Gillette of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to work directly with all of you. (Applause.) That's why Secretary Salazar and I selected Larry Echo Hawk of the Pawnee Nation to serve as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs here at Interior. And they are doing great work so far.
I also told you that we'd shake up the bureaucracy and get policymakers out of Washington so they could hear directly from you about your hopes, your dreams, and the obstacles that keep you from pursuing them. Secretary Salazar in particular has helped lead a comprehensive outreach to tribal communities; and Attorney General Eric Holder, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, along with several members of my staff, have held listening sessions on American Indian and Alaska Native issues around the country and at the White House. I promised you we'd host this conference to develop an agenda that works for your communities because I believe Washington can't -- and shouldn't -- dictate a policy agenda for Indian Country. Tribal nations do better when they make their own decisions. That's why we're here today.
And I want to be clear about this: Today's summit is not lip service. We're not going to go through the motions and pay tribute to one another, and then furl up the flags and go our separate ways. Today's sessions are part of a lasting conversation that's crucial to our shared future.
Now, Secretary Salazar and Assistant Secretary Echo Hawk are among the best advocates you could have in Washington, and this department is doing fantastic work under their leadership. But being good partners with tribal nations is a responsibility we've all got to take on. And that's why representatives of multiple agencies are here today -- because if we're going to address the needs of Native Americans in a comprehensive way, then we've got to mount a comprehensive response.
A major step toward living up to that responsibility is the presidential memorandum that I'll be signing at this desk in just a few moments. In the final years of his administration, President Clinton issued an executive order establishing regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration between your nations and the federal government. But over the past nine years, only a few agencies have made an effort to implement that executive order -- and it's time for that to change. (Applause.)
The memorandum I'll sign directs every Cabinet agency to give me a detailed plan within 90 days of how -- the full implementation of that executive order and how we're going to improve tribal consultation. (Applause.)
After all, there are challenges we can only solve by working together, and we face a serious set of issues right now.
We face our economic crisis, in which we took bold and swift action, including in your communities. We allocated more than $3 billion of the Recovery Act to help with some of your most pressing needs, like rebuilding and renovating schools on reservations across the country. We provided more than $100 million in loans to spur job creation in tribal economies. And we made sure my budget included significant increases in funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and other agencies that have critical roles to play in your communities. (Applause.)
But if we're going to bring real and lasting change for Native Americans, we need a comprehensive strategy, as I said before. Part of that strategy is health care. We know that as long as Native Americans die of illnesses like tuberculosis, alcoholism, diabetes, pneumonia, and influenza at far higher rates than the rest of the population, then we're going to have to do more to address disparities in health care delivery.
More than half of all Native Americans and Alaska Natives, especially those in remote areas with limited access to care, rely on the Indian Health Service for their most basic needs. And that's why we invested $500 million under the Recovery Act in strengthening and modernizing the IHS, and that's why my budget proposes a increase of 13 percent in IHS funding. (Applause.)
We're also closer than ever to passing health insurance reform that will finally make quality insurance affordable to all Americans who don't have coverage, and finally offer stability and security to Americans who do -- and that includes our First Americans. (Applause.)
When it comes to creating jobs, closing the opportunity gap, and leaving something better for our future generations, few areas hold as much promise as clean energy. Up to 15 percent of our potential wind energy resources are on Native American land, and the potential for solar energy is even higher. But too often, you face unique hurdles to developing these renewable resources. That's why I'm very proud, under Secretary Salazar's leadership, we're looking for new opportunities to ensure that you have a say in planning for access to the transmission grid. We're streamlining and expediting the permit process for energy development and transmission across tribal lands. We are securing tribal access to financing and investments for new energy projects. And thanks to the Recovery Act, we've established an Energy Auditor Training Program that could prepare Native Americans for the green jobs of the future. And that's going to be absolutely important. (Applause.)
But the future of Indian Country rests on something more: the education we provide our children. (Applause.) We know that Native Americans face some of the lowest matriculation rates and highest high school and college dropout rates. That's why the Recovery Act also included $170 million for Indian education -- (applause) -- and $277 million for Indian school construction. And that's why my budget provided $50 million in advanced funding for tribal colleges that are often economic lifelines for a community. (Applause.) Students who study at a tribal college are eight times less likely to drop out of higher education, they continue on to a four-year institution at a higher rate than students in community colleges, and nearly 80 percent end up in careers that help their tribal nation.
And none of our efforts will take root if we can't even guarantee that our communities are safe -- safe places to learn, safe places to grow, safe places to thrive. And on some reservations, violent crime is more than 20 times the national average. The shocking and contemptible fact that one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes is an assault on our national conscience that we can no longer ignore. (Applause.)
So tribes need support in strengthening their law enforcement capability. They need better resources and more training. And my administration fully appreciates the complexity and challenges you face when it comes to the criminal justice system on tribal lands. But we need to have a serious conversation with regard to all aspects of your public safety, and that's a conversation my administration is committed to doing. (Applause.)
So this is a challenge we take very seriously. The Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health and Human Services are all working on ways to empower tribal governments to ensure greater safety in their own communities, and I want to particularly commend Attorney General Eric Holder for his efforts on this so far. I also strongly support the Tribal Law and Order Act, and I thank Chairman Dorgan and Representative Herseth-Sandlin for their leadership on this issue. And I look forward to Congress passing it so I can sign it into law. (Applause.)
So there's a lot of work to be done today. But before we get at it, I want to close with this. I know you've heard this song from Washington before. I know you've often heard grand promises that sound good but rarely materialize. And each time, you're told this time will be different. But over the last few years, I've had a chance to speak with Native American leaders across the country about the challenges you face, and those conversations have been deeply important to me.
I get it. I'm on your side. I understand what it means to be an outsider. I was born to a teenage mother. My father left when I was two years old, leaving her -- my mother and my grandparents to raise me. We didn't have much. We moved around a lot. So even though our experiences are different, I understand what it means to be on the outside looking in. I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House. (Applause.) All right. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Together, working together, we're going to make sure that the First Americans, along with all Americans, get the opportunities they deserve. So with that, if I'm not mistaken, I am in a position now to start signing this memorandum, and then we're going to do a little Q&A. So get everything set up -- how many pens do you want me to use? Eight pens. (Laughter.) I don't know who's getting the pens, but --
(The memorandum is signed.)
THE PRESIDENT: This is harder than it looks. (Laughter.)
There you go. (Applause.)
Thank you. All right, I think that we've got some time for questions and answers. If you've got the questions, then if I don't have the answers somebody here does. (Laughter.) So -- hold on, no shouting now. (Laughter.) But I would love to come to Alaska, absolutely. (Applause.)
So everybody have a seat and Jefferson, how are we working this? You get the first question? He's a big cheese, so he gets the first question. (Laughter.) Go ahead.
MR. KEEL: Thank you, Mr. President. First of all, I want to thank you for honoring your commitments that you've made to restore the federal government's trust responsibility and the important relationship between Indian nations and the United States.
We've seen you honor your commitments in the appointments you've made to the many Native American people serving in your administration; we certainly appreciate that. But also we've seen improvements in the budgets for Indian programs and we're certainly appreciative of that.
As the President of the National Congress of American Indians I've been asked to make a request on the fundamental issues. Tribes across the country strongly support the creation of the executive order you just mentioned and we're certainly proud of that, reaffirming the inherent sovereign status of our nations and renewing the pledge to honor the treaties and to trust responsibility. We particularly hope for the establishment of real mechanisms for accountability, not only for this administration but set a path for the future.
We request that you address the issues of Indian lands and the trust responsibility. We need to restore tribal lands that have been taken away. We need to change the management that exists on existing tribal lands. There's so much potential for economic development. We ask that the federal government become a partner in that journey. We particularly thank you for the administration's support for the Carcieri solution.
And finally, Mr. President, we know that you've made significant pledges and commitments to Indian country, and we want to honor you by saying thank you for those commitments. But more than that, we respect you as a man of your word. You've restored hope to the Indian communities, and we want to thank you for restoring that, not only just by your words, but by your actions. Thank you again, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
Okay, who's next? There are mics in there. Please introduce yourself, by the way.
Q: Good morning, Mr. President, President Obama. I am the Vice President of Navajo Nation. I got one small question to you. I watched the message you gave us a while ago. It's very good, I like it. And your commitment -- you have fulfilled your commitment. But one thing I'm worried about, on behalf of all the Nation here and also the Navajo Nation, what this administration -- you went and reached out to the Native American Nation, which you're doing it now. It would be nice, it would be -- if you could work with us with the congressional people and make it a mandate that we should -- that the United States government should work with the Indian Nation, because every four years -- and I know you're going to win your reelection, you have another -- some numbers of years. (Applause.) But the thing I'm worried about is the end of the term and what happens with all the plans that we're going to be putting together with your administration -- our administration. I supported you, and Navajo Nation did. What happens to all of that?
I really don't want to stand here and complain about we've been lied to again. Through the histories of all Indian Tribe -- the treaty that were made between the United States and Indian Tribe, it's been broken a lot. How can we make it so solid that it stays there, no matter who, what administration comes in? I think we need to work on that, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that. Look, obviously the executive branch's job is to implement law. Now, a lot of these treaties, a lot of these consultations are embedded in law and we've got to make sure that they're implemented. So for the next eight years -- the next four years, at least, let me not jump the gun -- (laughter) -- for the next three years and one month -- (laughter) -- that I'm assured of this current position, we are going to make sure that we put the infrastructure and the framework in place so that a new dynamic, a new set of relationships have been established.
And to the extent that we can partner with Congress to lock some of those good habits in and end some of the bad habits that we've seen in the past, that's something that we'll be very interested in doing.
So I think that should be part of the agenda of consultation over the next several years, is how do we continue to institutionalize some of the best practices of consultation and collaboration and partnership that's so important. So thank you so much. All right? (Applause.)
I want to make sure that some folks in the back get -- are there any other microphones here? Is this the only one? Okay, because the -- I'm going to go ahead and call on this gentleman, but I don't everybody just in the front seat to get a question, so go ahead.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you for fulfilling your commitment to meet with the tribes in the very first year of your administration. We really appreciate it. My name is Bill Martin. I'm President of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, but today I represent all the native peoples of Alaska. I present to you our request for assistance.
We ask that you strengthen and support our sovereignty for all Alaska tribes by supporting our fishing and subsistence rights; by providing equity and funding across all tribal governments; providing an infrastructure of basic services in our villages, of plumbing in town hall meetings, in roads, sewer, et cetera; provide adequate emergency response for suicide prevention and health care services. Suicide is a very high rate in Alaska. It's -- for all of Alaska, is twice the national average for natives. It's five times the average. And for young men between 15 and 27 it's 12 times the national average. And it's a serious issue and we hope that we can be able to provide more funding to combat suicide.
I'd like you to help us by providing opportunities to enhance education, cultural language teachings within our community. Many Indians and Alaska natives live in third world countries. There's a great poverty of unsustainable economies in Indian country. There is a lack of capital.
Before the economic crisis, bank lending was very weak to non-existent for tribal businesses. In similar conditions in underdeveloped countries, the United States offers effective programs to induce economic investments, two programs like the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank. We ask that you commit to develop similar federally backed institutions designed specifically for tribes, Alaska natives, Alaska native corporations.
We ask for -- that you work with us to stop the disastrous erosion caused by global warming. Many of our villages are ready to slide off into the waters of Alaska, and in some cases, there will be absolutely no hope, we will need to move many villages. We ask you to ensure tribal and rural equity for Alaska tribes, meaning those that live in the urban areas and also in the rural areas; support Alaska tribes to promote self-determination for all of Alaska people; to help and promote public safety from child abuse, from spousal abuse.
And, finally, Mr. President, Alaska is a great land. Were it superimposed on a map of the continental United States, it would stretch from Florida to California, from North Dakota to Texas. And the people of Alaska are just as different as the differences in this whole country, but we stand united. We stand united in the pursuit of happiness for our families, and to train them and bring them as we were brought up for hundreds and hundreds of years since time immemorial. And we stand united in inviting you to visit this great land.
Every Alaska native has a special place to go to get away from it all. And if you ever decide to want to get away from it all, come see one of us. (Laughter.) We'll take you to that special place. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: All right. I often want to get away from it all. (Laughter.) So I'm very much looking forward to visiting Alaska. Thank you for sharing that important information with us. One thing I'd note that -- obviously you guys are going to be here all day, so some of these key written statements you're going to be able to present to not only the relevant White House staff, but also the secretaries that were -- that are going to be participating, as well as members of Congress who are participating.
The only thing I do want to make sure you understand is when I do visit Alaska, it's going to be during the summer. (Laughter.) So I just wanted to be clear about that. Okay. This -- sorry, I'm getting old, so -- there you go. Go ahead.
Q: Good morning.
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning.
Q: Honorable President Barack Obama -- he who cares -- it's good to see you today. My name is Wilfred Cleveland from the Ho-Chunk Nation, president of the Ho-Chunk Nation, the Bear Clan, from the state of Wisconsin.
Our people had organized a government in 1963. Topics that they discussed was land, health, education, employment, unemployment. And today we come here before you with those same concerns, 46 years later. So these are -- in our ceremonies at home, in our hearts, we talk -- we think about that today would be a day different from day when our elders, when our ancestors, made treaties with the United States. They were broken, they were not honored, but today would be different.
We have entitlements for these programs that are given to us. Rather than being able to come to you and compete with other tribes each tribe should be entitled to all these as part of the trust responsibility. So we ask that you would make this possible for us so that we would be having a good relationship with one another when we come to meetings.
And Mr. President, we have our -- we were not born owners of these lands, but stewards. Today we have to purchase our lands back and we have this process of putting our land back into trust (inaudible) or trust process, and that's a long process that is there. A part of it is -- part of this process is giving states, county, and even local governments an opportunity to say whether these lands can go in the trust or not. Now I ask you, is that nation-to-nation relationship? (Applause.)
Each of our nations have warriors, and today I name a few of those warriors. I name Roger Jourdain, he was the chairman of the Red Lake band of Chippewa. I name Wendell Chino, he was the chairman of the Mescalero Apache Nation. Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Senator Ted Kennedy. The then-Senator Walter Mondale. Each of these warriors gave their full support to the advancement of all native nations. We today are here to follow in those footprints so that our people can enjoy our sovereignty.
The U.S. government was formed with a native concept. Today we, the native nations, have formed governments, and we must continuously fight to maintain our sovereignty and our lands we were once stewards of. We must have the same relationship with the federal government as the states. We must not be restricted under the watchdog of the BIA, but rather be enhanced with a nation-with-nation relationship.
We tribal leaders understand the task you face in the steering the country out of the difficult times that we are in. However, on your visit to the Crow reservation, you told those gathered that you intend to acknowledge the tragic history of Native Americans over the past three centuries, then promising during these (inaudible).
We will continue to support you and your administration during these challenging times as you walk with us to make us stronger nations for our future generations. Thank you for your time.
THE PRESIDENT: All right, thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Let's see if -- I want to get a woman's voice in here. (Laughter and applause.) So how about this young lady right here? Right there in the blue.
Q: Hi. My name is Alicia Reft. I'm the president of the Karluk IRA Traditional Council. Karluk is a small village in Kodiak Island, Alaska. And I have lots to say, but the two most important things were that my two nephews from home wanted me to shake your hand if I can, and an elder that works at Safeway -- her name's Erlinda (phonetic) -- she said to make sure and say hi and that she loves you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you tell Linda I love her back. (Laughter and applause.)
Q: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. All right, right there in the red, right in the middle.
Q: My name is Theresa Two Bulls. I'm president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe from the state of South Dakota, and a member of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association. Thank you for meeting with us today, for opening up your heart. It's good to hear your words. They're dear to our hearts. I come on two issues -- honor the treaties. Too long they have been not honored by the federal government. And you talk about a change -- now is the change. Allow us and work with us to exercise our sovereignty, our self-determination.
And the second issue is our children. Our children are sacred. We want the best for them. And we ask that you help us to ensure a better education, a better life, well-being for our children, because they're going to be the future leaders.
And I say thank you, and we love you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. All right. The gentleman right there -- right here in front.
Q: Thank you very much, Mr. President. My name is John Berrey. I'm the chairman of the Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma. And on behalf of the other Oklahoma tribes, I want to thank you for coming here today.
I have one request. The Quapaw Tribe has the honor of having the largest Superfund site in the United States -- it's Tar Creek Superfund site. We have 72 million tons of mining waste on our lands. And I would like to ask you to come visit it and see the devastation caused by this management of tribal resources, and help elevate tribes to the same level of states when we're dealing with the remediation of Superfund sites so we can have the same voice as the state in designing a better future and environment for our people. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Well, this is really important. Obviously the whole issue of environmental integrity on tribal lands is something that too often has slipped through the cracks or decisions have been made in the absence of consultation with the tribes. So this is going to be a top priority generally -- improving our environmental quality. The issue of climate change is something that we are working diligently on and everybody has a huge interest in this, no place more so than Alaska where the effects are already beginning to be felt and it's starting to change I think the ability of native peoples to -- whose economies oftentimes may be based on interacting with the natural environment there. They're already starting to have to make significant changes that have to be addressed.
So my hope is one of the things that will be taking place during today's session and then continuing is you've got a great Secretary of the Interior who cares about natural resources. But we've also got an outstanding EPA director in Lisa Jackson. And figuring out how we can improve environmental coordination with the tribal nations so that we're matching the energy agenda that I already spoke about in my speech with an environmental agenda I think is going to be not only good for native peoples, it's also going to be good for the United States generally. And we have a lot to learn from your nations in order to create the kind of sustainability in our environment that is -- we so desperately need.
So I will make sure that somebody follows up directly with your tribe on this Superfund site. All right. Uh-oh, now everybody is raising their hand. (Laughter.)
All right, this young lady right here. Yes.
Q: Thank you. Thank you for this opportunity. Thank you, Mr. President. I'm so privileged and honored to be here. My name is Caroline Cannon, president for the Native Village of Point Hope. I came here with a message from my tribe, that we are impacted with the offshore drilling, the decision that's been made on behalf of our tribe during the Bush administration. And we would like you to overturn that.
I live in the coastal village, and exactly where climate change has a big impact. We are a whaling community, and we need help. It's happening so fast that last year -- a couple of years ago, there were some incidents that occurred because of the ice condition during the whaling season, so I would like help. And I think that -- we also are around the coast of the Red Dog Mine, and they have decided that they're going to have a discharge pipeline to our ocean, where we highly rely on our food resources.
So thank you, again. And my seven-year-son says a big hello. He said I should give you a hug, but I know that's not an opportunity right now. (Laughter.) But thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Maybe after the Q&A, I'll get that hug in. (Laughter.) I want you to know, just with respect to offshore drilling, Secretary Salazar is in the process of reviewing some of the directives that were issued under the previous administration. And I am confident that as part of that overarching review, that consultation with potentially affected nations will be part of Ken's process.
Okay, you know, let's see, this gentleman right here with the headdress.
Q: Honorable President Obama, this is the second time I get a chance to address you. I've been wearing the war bonnet and I've been really displeasing these gentle ladies behind me, but this is yours. In our Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara ways you don't give a gift to a tent, you give it to the individual. You are our Commander-in-Chief for the soldiers, I'm a lieutenant in the Army Reserve. My name is Ee-Ba-Da-Gish, White-Headed Eagle. I am the chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara. My name is Marcus Dominick Levings. I first met you in Grand Forks at your VIP room. My mother is Dowah (phonetic) Rezilda "Brady" Wells. She gave you the red, white, and blue star quilt --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it's beautiful.
Q: -- with all the prayers. She sent this to you as well, so I'll give it to whatever Secret Service people I need to do that. (Laughter.)
President Obama, I have two issues for my people, the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara, 11,000 tribal members who live in western North Dakota on top of the Williston Basin, the Bakken Formation. We have oil and gas development today, Mr. President. We have an opportunity to be independent from any means of federal programs, any type of issues that we had been not needing before the flood of Elbowoods, North Dakota, in the 1950s. In the spirit of progress, our elders, our ancestors gave up their bottom land. Ninety percent of our people live there, Mr. President. And now they're up on high hilltops, 77-below wind chill factors in winter.
We are the tribe, the Mandan, Hidatsas, and Arikaras, who saved Lewis and Clark. We were the ones who made it so they can go out to blaze the trail to Portland. Now we come for you to ask for some help on our energy development, to get the 49-step process eliminated so our elders, who are dying as we speak, can generate opportunities to receive royalties on their minerals. Second, with all this economic development boom that's going on, Mr. President, in the Williston Basin, and Fort Berthold Reservation, 1 million acres, we need homes. We are short 1,000 homes, Mr. President, home ownership and rentals as well. So on behalf of the Tribal Business Council and my elders, I stand humbly in front of you and ask for your help. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) I've got time only for one more question unfortunately, and I'm not going to be able to get to everybody, so right there in the middle, right there in the middle.
Q: Persistence. And that's a characteristic of all Native Americans. That's why I stood there for a long time.
So thank you very much, Mr. President, for meeting with us today on this historical day. And we are truly grateful for this opportunity. My name is Leslie Lohse. I'm with the Paskenta Nomlaki in California. And in California there are many landless tribes. We do have gaming out there, and I would ask that you ask the Secretary of Interior to make some policies that are much more clarifying in getting our lands into trust, because it's causing some issues out there between the gaming tribes -- maybe nine gaming tribes -- and with the local communities and our state itself. So we ask that you ask them to make these things more clearly for all of us to abide by.
And another thing that I'd like to ask you to do is to take care of our 8(a) program because those of us -- those that are landless out there can develop economic development opportunities through the 8(a) contracting program, and that may ease some of the burdens that some of the landless tribes are, because you don't need to have land to operate that.
And there is an attack on our 8(a) program -- I perceive it as an attack -- because it is limiting. We just barely started three years ago with ours, and we're starting to get rolling, and now they want to change the rules. So I ask that you pay mind to that -- that we not inhibit our growth in that way so that we can purchase some of our lands back and grow from that, instead of being dependent on gaming. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Well, listen, I am so grateful that all of you are here. I appreciate what you've shared with me. But the most important opportunity that you will have today is to interact directly with the department heads, the secretaries who are in charge of implementation on a whole range of these issues.
So I want intensive discussion and dialogue with them. Present to them your concerns, your specific recommendations. They are here to listen and to learn and to advise. I am going to meet back up with you at the end of the day. And if you guys have just been partying and not working -- (laughter) -- I'll know.
So I hope you have a wonderfully productive conference today. I will see you at the end of it. And again, I appreciate everything that you guys have done. God bless you. Thank you. (Applause.)