Wednesday, August 20, 2008

1,200-year-old home found

1,200-year-old home found
It contains pit house, hearth and broken pots
By Mark Havnes
The Salt Lake Tribune

Article Last Updated: 08/20/2008 10:21:51 PM MDT

Posted: 10:14 PM- KANAB - For a nearly 1,200-year-old home, it's held up pretty well.
"Amazing" and "pristine" were the words archaeologists used to characterize the site of the ancient settlement just north of Kanab in southern Utah. It is believed that the single-family dwelling belonged to the Virgin Anasazi, who once flourished in the region, said Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Kitchen. The Virgin Anasazi was a prehistoric American Indian culture that lived along the Virgin River.
The culture predates other American Indian tribes who inhabited the area.
Kitchen said surveyors first found the site just east of US Highway 89 in 2006 while preparing for a possible road project on US 89. He doubts the discovery will influence plans for the road project.
UDOT archaeologist Pam Higgins said Wednesday research completed last week confirmed an "amazing find."
"My adrenaline was through the roof," she said.
The site, found amid deep red, sandy soil, was apparently home to a single family, Higgins said. No remains were found and it's unknown how many people lived there or for how long. Crews identified a pit house used for shelter, which measured about 13 feet in diameter, several storage containers and a hearth in what appeared to be a covered communal area.
Higgins said


several broken pots were also found and that they could easily be repaired.
"What is so amazing about the site is the pristine condition it is in," she said.
The site sat undisturbed just below the surface for centuries and extended several feet beneath the ground about 300 yards east of Kanab Creek.
When the road project was being planned earlier this year, excavation plans were granted and digging began this summer for the data recovery work, as required by federal law.
Jody Patterson, a vice president for Moab-based Montgomery Archaeology and who worked at the site, said Wednesday the dig took about 30 days to complete.
Several years ago during a pipeline operation nearby, a similar site was excavated, Patterson said.
"The [new site] was extensive, but not unexpected," Patterson said.
State archaeologist Kevin Jones said the find is indicative of how populated the area once was.
"There were probably more people living in the area at one time than now," he said.
The discovery also revealed rabbit and deer bones, indicating hunting activity, along with stone drill bits for making jewelry and clothing and numerous stone tips.
"What was interesting was finding shells and what appears to be turquoise," Patterson said. The origin of those items will be determined and could shed light on trading patterns among southern Utah's former inhabitants.
After being inventoried and documented, the area was buried again last week.
A final report on the study of the site could take two years, Patterson said.
"Now the real work begins," he said

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

McCain offends by not meeting Great Plains tribes

McCain offends by not meeting Great Plains tribes
Posted: August 12, 2008
by: Rob Capriccioso

Photo courtesy Tamra Brennan -- Traffic was backed up more than normal at Sturgis as Sen. John McCain made a stop at the annual event. Area Natives took offense to his visit which did not include meetings with any tribes.

PIERRE, S.D. - After Sen. John McCain made a campaign stop Aug. 4 at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, much attention was paid to a joke he made about having his wife, Cindy, run for the Miss Buffalo Chip beauty contest crown - a feat that would require her to wear a skimpy bikini and perform risque dance moves in front of the rally's thousands of rowdy partygoers.

Several tribal leaders were not only taken aback by the statement, but were also let down that McCain would choose to visit a rally featuring nudity and drunken behavior while not trying to schedule a meeting with a single tribal nation. And many Natives have long been asking for a halt to the very rowdiness in which McCain chose to participate - out of respect to the nearby Bear Butte Mountain, a sacred site for multiple tribes nationwide.

A. Gay Kingman, director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association, said that she extended an invitation to the McCain campaign in mid-July, soon after she learned the presumptive GOP candidate would be traveling to the area. The idea was to have McCain meet with the more than a dozen elected chairs and presidents of sovereign Indian nations in the Dakota region that are represented by the association.

Tribal leaders wanted to talk with McCain on several areas of substance, including the need for reservation jobs and improved tribal resources, as well as law enforcement and judiciary issues.

''It's a total disappointment,'' said Kingman, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. ''Many of us have known Sen. McCain - and even testified before him when he was chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.''

She noted that McCain's schedule even allowed for him to spend the night in the region, so she feels he couldn't have been that pressed for time.

''I think the presidential candidates are very protected. I don't know if the senator himself even knew that the Indian tribes wanted to meet with him. I just can't see him purposely choosing not to meet with us.''

John Tahsuda, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma who used to work for McCain on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, tried to help Kingman with her request but was unsuccessful. Tribal leaders also contacted staffers of Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., since he has been a strong backer of Indian issues and is close to McCain, but nothing came of that outreach, either.

Tom Steward, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, said it was his understanding that the candidate did not schedule time to meet with tribal leaders while in the region because there ''was not much local time overall for meetings.''

He added that McCain has been a longtime leader on Indian issues, and ''had in mind'' American Indians who served in the military during his Sturgis appearance.

Earlier in August, McCain faced strong criticism from members of the Native American Journalists Association, who noted that he skipped a long-planned minority journalist event.

Some Indians feel that Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate, has done a better job at reaching out to Great Plains tribes, noting that he met with tribal leaders in the area during the primary season this spring.

The Sturgis Rally is held each summer on private grounds. It, along with several other venues in the region, annually plays host to tens of thousands of bikers and tourists. Many come decked in leather, and some tend to overindulge in drinking and noisemaking.

Several Native activists tried unsuccessfully in June to get the Meade County Commission to deny alcohol licenses for the nearby Broken Spoke Campground, which they said was one of the most disruptive developments in the area. Since then, other bars and venues, including Buffalo Chip Campground, home to the rally, have begun offering helicopter rides near Bear Butte.

The 4,422-foot peak has been used for thousands of years as a religious and commemorative place for vision quests, ceremonies of passage and renewal, spiritual offerings and medicine gatherings.

Instead of standing up for Indian religious rights and sacred beliefs, McCain was seen by some Natives as actually harming them with his visit to the area. While the senator from Arizona stated publicly he wanted to pay respect to the many veterans who attend the rally each year, some Indians felt he could have done so at any number of nearby veteran facilities that do not disrupt Bear Butte.

''I think he could have gotten his message out in support of the veterans at a venue that was more generic,'' Kingman said. ''He just didn't make a good show of respect to Indians.''

Tamra Brennan, founder of the grass-roots organization Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation, said McCain's event caused much more ''wall-to-wall traffic'' to the area than she's seen in the past. She described his appearance as contributing to an atmosphere of ''absolute chaos.''

''For him to come to a venue such as Buffalo Chip - which is very well known for its nudity and drunken behavior - seems a little strange,'' Brennan said. She's been working overtime this summer to raise awareness that noise from motorcycle rallies and drunken partiers, as well as fireworks and flashing strobe lights that are sometimes shone onto the mountain, have disrupted the sacred lands.

Brennan, who lives near the base of the mountain, said she doesn't think McCain cares about sacred site issues at all, especially considering that he didn't visit any reservations.

''I don't think we even had a chance at being on his radar,'' said Brennan, Eastern Cherokee. ''I feel that the Native community was shunned. And we won't soon forget it.''

In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cindy McCain as Miss Buffalo Chip?

Cindy McCain as Miss Buffalo Chip?
Vigilant Ticket readers know we always are on the alert for historic firsts. This presidential campaign has provided us our fill -- most recently, the chance to reflect upon the unprecedented age gap between the two major-party White House contenders.

Now comes another barrier shattered, noted by The Times' Bob Drogin.

As he delineates in a delightfully written piece elsewhere on, John McCain on Monday became the first presidential aspirant to attend the annual Sturgis Rally in South Dakota, an event dating back to 1938 that each year attracts hordes of enthusiasts for a week of celebrating biker culture.

The candidate basked in a warm welcome; as Drogin put it: "It was almost as if McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was a celebrity -- a dirty word in his lexicon since his campaign last week ran ads mocking rival Barack Obama for his celebrity status, comparing him to Britney Spears."

Along with making history with his appearance, McCain came close to breaking new ground as he introduced his wife, Cindy McCain (who, Drogin wrote, "wore the equivalent of a nun's habit here: black jeans and a long-sleeved shirt").

McCain, Drogin relates, told his rowdy listeners "that he had encouraged his wife to enter the annual Sturgis beauty contest, one in which nudity is not uncommon. ... 'I told her with a little luck she could be the only lady to serve as first lady and Miss Buffalo Chip,' he said with a broad grin."

Mrs. McCain has been doing yeoman work on the campaign trail. Just this last weekend, she expertly mingled with a NASCAR crowd at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania (and took a short spin in the pace car). Showing excellent judgment, however, she passed on her husband's latest suggestion.

In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"

McCain policy should uphold Native religious freedoms, sites

Column: McCain policy should uphold Native religious freedoms, sites - Wednesday, August 6, 2008
By JODI RAVE of the Missoulian

“I believe the federal government has a special ethical and legal responsibility to help make the American Dream accessible to Native Americans.”

- John McCain, Native policy statement

It's with some irony that Sen. John McCain has touted the federal government's “ethical and legal responsibility” to help Native people live the American Dream, a statement that smacked against the backdrop of the sacred Bear Butte as McCain paid tribute Monday to veterans attending a nearby biker rally.

While McCain has a strong record of championing Native causes, his legislative coups don't reflect the need to protect sacred sites and indigenous people's religious freedom.

McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, spoke to several thousand motorcycle enthusiasts at an annual tribute to military men and women attending the Sturgis Rally, the country's largest biker extravaganza. He greeted the crowd at the Buffalo Chip Campground, about four miles south of Mato Paha, a sacred butte rising 1,253 feet from the surrounding prairie.

Traffic to the campground was backed up for hours Monday night as people drove to the rough-and-rowdy, leather-and often-barely-clad venue for the night's headliners, featuring motorcycle stunts, Kid Rock, female wrestlers, the Miss Buffalo Chip Beauty Pageant - and McCain.

“I find it strange that he would come to a venue such as the Sturgis Rally that is very well known for nudity and drunkenness,” said Tamra Brennan, founder and director of Protect Sacred Sites.

“I understand he was there to honor the veterans, but it seems there's a lot of other ways he could have honored veterans.

“And why didn't he come into Indian Country while he was here?” she said. “During the campaign process, he didn't come to any of the reservations like the other candidates did and talk to people about Indian issues.”

Brennan, who lives at the base of Bear Butte, is among Native sacred site advocates campaigning to protect Bear Butte from continual encroachment, mostly by big biker bars within eye- and ear-shot of the ceremonial mountain, a religious area in the foothills of the Lakota Nation's revered Black Hills.

In the campaign quote from his Native policy statement, McCain acknowledges the U.S. government's responsibility to help Native people live the American Dream.

While Natives and non-Natives' idea of the American Dream may vary, they share a dream for religious freedom.

Even though the United States has a history of using its military might to strip Native people of their religious freedoms, other world leaders acknowledge a need to restore what's been lost.

In 2007, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states indigenous people have “the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites �”

The Arizona senator's 25-year legislative record shows he knows Native people are far from living the American Dream.

McCain has twice been chairman - and remains a member - of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The leadership position has given him keen insight into the needs of tribal communities, allowing him to sponsor and enact legislation to improve the lives of Native people. He sponsored the Tribal Self-Governance Act of 1994, a law to strengthen Indian self-determination and allow for government-to-government relations.

He has also championed legislation to support law enforcement, health care, trust resources, economic development, housing and education initiatives throughout Indian Country.

“As chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and in his home state of Arizona, Senator McCain has long been a leader on issues important to Native Americans,” Tom Steward, regional campaign director, said Monday. “Senator McCain's speech in Sturgis is to honor current military members and veterans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, including Native Americans.”

Native people, indeed, have made the ultimate sacrifices to maintain any semblance of freedom.

They were forced to surrender tens of millions of acres of homelands, including Bear Butte, which has remained central to prayers and ceremonies. Indigenous people of North America have the religious distinction of embracing nature as a church. Their holy altars are laid upon natural landscapes, including prayer and fasting sites spread across the slopes of Mato Paha.

Indigenous people from more than 30 tribes visit the butte throughout the year, mostly in the summer months. Their peaceful prayers and vision quests often clash with fireworks and music blasting from nearby Sturgis venues, such as the one visited by McCain.

The presidential candidate's Native policy statement doesn't make a pledge to protect the religious freedom and sacred sites of Native people.

But if he is to continue touting the federal government's ethical and legal responsibility to helping Native people live the American Dream, he can start by upholding their religious freedoms.

Jodi Rave covers Native issues for Lee Enterprises. Reach her at (800) 366-7186 or at

In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?"