A lonesome warrior stands in fear of what the future brings,
he will never hear the beating drums or the songs his brothers sing.
Our many nations once stood tall and ranged from shore to shore but most are gone and few remain and the buffalo roam no more.
We shared our food and our land and gave with open hearts,
We wanted peace and love and hope, but all were torn apart.
All this was taken because we did not know what the white man had in store, They killed our people and raped our lands and the buffalo roam no more.
But those of us who still remain hold our heads up high, and the spirits of the elders flow through us as if they never died.
Our dreams will live on forever and our nations will be reborn, our bone and beads and feathers all will be proudly worn.
If you listen close you will hear the drums and songs upon the winds, and inthe distance you will see....the buffalo roam again.
The Lakota (Western Sioux) live on five reservations in South and North Dakota in a region of geographic diversity and climatic fluctuation. On the open plains, mixed grasses cover rolling hills interrupted by sandhills, badlands, buttes, and canyons formed by the Missouri River and its tributaries.
These people have not lived in this region long. With the acquisition of European-introduced horses and guns in quantity, the Lakota and their equestrian neighbors entered the Plains, abandoning their woodland homes and gardens in pursuit of the vast herds of American bison and other game animals, including elk and deer. According to the winter count kept by American Horse, the first group of Oglala Lakota arrived at the Black Hills in 1775. They roamed throughout the region for some one hundred years before being settled on reservations.
It was not the first time they had traveled to the Plains, but it was the first time they stayed. There the seasonally nomadic Lakota shared the environment with long-term residents who lived in permanent village settlements along the rivers and practiced agriculture. Nature offered not one, but various ways for humans to live on the Plains.
Ancestry in the Land From the sixteenth century on, six nations have allied themselves to form the Iroquois Confederacy. Originally, they lived in the Eastern Woodlands, in an area that extended from the land south of Lake Ontario, along the Mohawk River, and westward to the Finger Lakes and Genessee River, in what is now New York State. The Iroquois people were rooted in the land, which designated each person an important function as the seasons changed. Men were hunters and warriors, providers and protectors of the community. Women owned the houses, gathered wild foods, cooked, made baskets and clothing, and cared for the children.
Ancestry in the Land
From the sixteenth century on, six nations have allied themselves to form the Iroquois Confederacy. Originally, they lived in the Eastern Woodlands, in an area that extended from the land south of Lake Ontario, along the Mohawk River, and westward to the Finger Lakes and Genessee River, in what is now New York State.Though known as the Iroquois, they call themselves Haudenosaunee, the People of the Longhouse. The Mohawk nation has historically stood guard at the easternmost door of a symbolic loghouse. The Seneca watch over the western door, while the other nations, the Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and the Tuscarora, are spread in between. Skilled in warfare and gifted in peace, the six nations established a peace treaty which led to the formation of one of the world's earliest democracies. This society gave rise to great orators, like the Onondaga, Hiawatha, and noble leaders, such as the Seneca, Cornplanter, who was rewarded with a tract of land along Pennsylvania's Allegheny River for his diplomatic efforts with the fledgling government of the American Colonies.
The Iroquois people were rooted in the land, which designated each person an important function as the seasons changed. Men were hunters and warriors, providers and protectors of the community. Women owned the houses, gathered wild foods, cooked, made baskets and clothing, and cared for the children.
We Are Rooted in Our Cornfields
The Hopi people farm successfully in an arid and demanding environment. They have detailed knowledge of their environment and employ specialized agricultural methods to maximize their chances for success. Farmers select the most favorable field sites on the valley floors, generally utilizing naturally flooded areas such as the mouths of large washes to capture the runoff from heavy thunderstorms. They plant multiple seeds in each hole, resulting in clumps of plants that are wind resistant and widely spaced to prevent soil nutrient depletion. Seeds are planted twelve inches deep to take advantage of the moisture trapped in the sandy subsoil.
The traditional planting dates are determined by the Sunwatcher, who observes the varying positions of the rising sun on the horizon. With the worrisome potential for both late spring and early fall frosts, correct timing for planting is vital. Hopi farmers increase their chances for success by making several plantings at different locations, elevations, and times.
The Hopi place high value on traditional corn horticulture techniques and continue to exert great effort in the application of these centuries-old practices, using native seeds and organic farming methods. Farming has more than economic significance. Working the corn is an act of faith.
Corn has sustained the people for centuries and continues to be an essential element in every ceremony. Although people may supplement their supply with corn purchased from the supermarket, it is the presence of corn cultivated by the Hopi that is of primary importance.
We Have a Partnership with Nature
To the coastal Tlingit people, home is the narrow mainland coast, islands, bays, and fjords of southeast Alaska. The people reside in the dynamic region where the land meets the sea, building their villages on narrow rock beaches wedged between the tidewater and the dense forests rising into lofty mountains, an area of human occupation for the last 10,000 years. Heavy rainfall creates a luxurious rainforest environment and a temperate climate.
Tlingit villages have always faced the sea. The peoples' lives revolve around the harvest from the sea outside the front door and from the forests and rivers outside the back door. The waters of southeast Alaska provide one of the richest maritime environments in the world. As the Tlingit people make their seasonal rounds, they catch fish and sea mammals and collect shellfish and sea plants.
The Pacific salmon is preferred above all other fish. Every year five different species of salmon follow one another in succession, journeying from the sea to swim upriver.
Halibut fishing requires the greatest ritual attention because it is the most dangerous fishing activity. The halibut grows to be the largest and most powerful fish in the region.
In the past, fishermen used a specially carved hook, weighted by a rock and suspended downward, so the halibut would see its decoration and be influenced by it. Today Tlingit fishermen still believe that success in fishing depends on the willingness of the fish to make itself available to humans. In selecting the image to carve on the hook, fishermen often chose a powerful creature, perhaps itself a good fisher. Its spirit would entice the fish to the bait.
To this day, when fishing and preparing fish, Tlingit people continue to respect traditional practices.
Through exploration of four different visions of living in and with the natural world—those of the Tlingit of the Northwest Coast, the Hopi of the Southwest, the Iroquois of the Northeast, and the Lakota of the Plains—North, South, East, West: American Indians and the Natural World examines the belief systems, philosophies, and practical knowledge that guide Indian peoples' interactions with the natural world. Though all of these peoples have chosen different pathways and strategies for making a life in their various environments, one similar concept is voiced by all--that a reciprocal connection exists between people and the rest of the world.