Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: Book review
What it is: A book
Length: 189 pages
Author: Katherine McCarthy
Cost: $12.83 CAN or $9.86 US
Rating: 5 stars ++
How is your weekend going? Mine is going fantabulous as a person close to my heart would say. Isn’t that just a great made up word! I am loving my weekend for real. Even though it is raining on the West coast today. As the same person would say, when it is raining, it is because Mother Earth needs to cleanse herself. What a great way to look at it! Anyhoo, I was thinking about what to write about yesterday. And then I remember that I posted a picture a few days ago on this site’s Facebook page of a man holding a coup stick. So today, we will learn about Native American Counting Coup, a practice of the Great Plains people. Are you intrigued? Yes? Let’s do this then 🙂
How is everyone doing? I am away from home this weekend for a much due visit to my family. I am however missing my home with all the ceremonies and culture it has. I just miss home. However, I am grateful to be surrounded by love. So, as I am not on the West Coast right now, I thought I would write an article about a great leader from that area: Chief Dan George. Oftentimes known (and sometimes criticized) for his acting career, Chief Dan George was also a residential school survivor, a leader and outspoken about the rights of Indigenous people. Let’s hear about his life and great and wise words.
How is everyone doing? Boy was this week crazy! There was a full moon last Monday, part of the moon cycle, and it was felt in my clients at work! So taking a breath and taking care of myself this weekend.
I first really came across the life and work of actor Russell Means when I wrote about Wounded Knee II (read my article here), where Means led a 71 days occupation of the Wounded Knee site to show disagreement and protest against the then politics and injustice. I have since read quite a bit more about Means so I thought I would sum it up here. Let’s talk about Russell Means, actor, activist and the man with 9 lives.
Hope you are doing well and have been enjoying yourself! Yesterday, on the West Coast of Canada, the sun was shining and the sky was blue 🙂 I also just attended a sweat and got rid of a few things and feelings I needed to get rid of. Feels good! A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of Geronimo on this site’s Facebook page and said that an article was coming about this great Apache chief. So here it is!! A wonderful and fierce leader and medicine man. And one hell of a warrior! Let’s talk about Apache Chief Geronimo.
How is everyone doing? Well this weekend is for most people Valentine’s day weekend! A weekend to be with your valentine and the ones you love. And it is for me too but I am choosing to spend this weekend giving some love to those who have gone in the spirit world and had their earth time stolen from them. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. To learn more, read my two previous articles here and here.
If you live in Canada, you must have heard about this issue, with a national inquiry put in place to investigate the disappearance of over 1200 Indigenous women. “Issue” does not even seem like the right word. A tragedy, a huge injustice and a cause that we ALL need to know about is more like it. So this weekend is the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Memorial March. It is taking place in a few cities in Canada, including in Vancouver, a block away from my office. In a neighborhood known as the “downtown eastside (DTES)”, the “Skidrow” of Canada. A place I can honestly say I feel very comfortable in, as weird as it might seem. I talk to people on the streets all the time. And each day I am amazed by the humanity of the people down there and the care they show. For me and for others. Don’t get me wrong, I get yelled at every day but I also laugh with clients every day. And have very sweet conversations. So without further ado, let’s talk about this annual march and other projects in place to remember and honor the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).
How are you all doing? Over here in BC, Canada, I am enjoying a long weekend, as tomorrow is BC Family day. If you follow my Facebook page, you know I attended Hobiyee, the Nisga’a nation New Year celebration 2 days ago (article to come on Hobiyee, stay tuned). And it was just awesome and breathtaking. As soon as I came in and heard the singing and drumming, I had chills. And I had not even seen the dancers yet!! And boy were they ever spectacular. Many of them were wearing the West Coast button blanket, hence why I am writing about it today. I really wish you could have seen those beautiful blankets in person as the pictures do not do them justice at all. I think my mouth was open the whole time, just in awe. I live on the West Coast and I am fortunate enough to see button blankets quite frequently. But I had never seen so many at once and so many ornate ones. Just stunning! So let’s talk about and look at some West Coast button blankets!
How is everyone!
For those of you who follow my Facebook page, you probably came across a recent picture of a Native American baby swing. Many posted their experience using one or being in one as a kid themselves. Some even sent me their own personal pictures, some posted below. And for that I am very grateful! Sharing their personal memories with me and then you. That touches me. So today, we will be focusing on the baby swing. Information on it, its origins and intended purpose is scarce. Very scarce but here is what I have put together from what I have found and the stories of those who shared with me. Here we go, the Native American baby swing: the greatest tradition ever!
If you know me and this site’s Facebook page, you know that one of my favorite chief is Mr. Quanah Parker. Not only was he handsome (and he really was!), his story and his family story are amazing. A great character, a great person. So I thought it was about time that I write about him. Let’s explore together the life of Quanah Parker, the last Comanche chief.
Quanah was born in today’s Texas in 1845 (some report it was in 1852 but 1845 seems to be the correct year). His mother, Cynthia, and his father, chief Peta Nocona, had three children, including Quanah (he had a brother, Pecos and a sister, Topsannah). Before I go any further, it is important to mention that Quanah’s mother, Cynthia Ann, was a white woman who, in 1836, at the age of 9 was captured by the Comanches during one of their raids. From that moment on, Cynthia grew up among the Comanches and adopted their lifestyle, eventually marrying Quanah’s father, Chief Peta. She then had Quanah in 1845, at the age of 18. She was soon a young mother of 3. Some say that the name Quanah or Kwanah meant “Sweet smell” or “bed of flowers”, indicating a Spring birth.
Quanah was born during a time of raids, from the Comanches and against the Comanches. His father was a great chief who led some of those raids everywhere in Texas. In December of 1860, Texas Rangers were sent to find Peta. They soon found him on the banks of Pease River, where his camp was. Peta and his 2 sons managed to escape but numerous people living in the camp were killed, including sixteen women. Cynthia Ann was saved but captured. Cynthia and her daughter Topsannah were both taken to Camp Cooper where she was recognized as the young girl who had been kidnapped 24 years prior.
However, by then, Cynthia’s family was the Comanches, not the whites. Her sense of belonging was not with the Whites but rather with the Comanches who had adopted her. She pleaded with the white men to be returned to the Comanches, to no avail. A member of her white family, Isaac Parker, took her to his home and encouraged Cynthia Ann to live life the “white way”. But her heart was not in it. She eventually was locked up in the house so she would not escape. Some might say that she was identifying with her abductor but let’s not mix a modern way of thinking with Cynthia’s story. Which in fact was a touching story. She developed her own sense of belonging and was treated well by the Comanches. She was accepted and she became a member of the family.
Although reports of Peta’s year of death vary, it is said that he mostly likely was killed in 1863. Soon after, Pecos died of small pox followed by Topsannah who succumbed to pneumonia. This was too much for Cynthia to bear and she tried frantically to be reunited with Quanah. She pleaded with the Parker family who remained firm and refused to let Cynthia leave. Desperate and heart broken, she stopped eating and drinking, eventually dying in 1870. Some say she died of a broken heart, missing her family and what had become her home.
After his father’s death, Quanah continued the raids his father had began and became known as a great courageous warrior. He fought for his land and his people against the buffalo hunters and the white settlers. Under his watch, entering the Comanche land was considered an act of war. Quanah joined the Kiowa at some point to obtain more power by joining forces. Quanah refused to sign treaties and made it clear that the white men would have to come take the land away from his people before he surrendered and agreed to live on a reservation. Quanah continued his fight against the Buffalo hunters who were getting cockier and killed numerous of the beautiful sacred beasts.
However, on June 2nd 1875, Quanah, in order to keep the peace (as he had received word that those who did not surrender would be automatically exterminated), led his people to surrender and agreed to live on a reservation in present day Oklahoma. From that day on until his death, Quanah encouraged his people to develop their agricultural skills and also served as a tribal court judge on his reserve. He was a respected chief who counted Theodore Roosevelt as a friend. He was a familiar face in Washington, DC, representing the Comanches at the congress. He tried more than most to reconcile the White and Comanche ways, maybe due to his own family history. He also married (some say he had more than one wife, up to 7) and had numerous beautiful children (up to 24).
Nevertheless, Quanah had been left wondering what had happened to his mother. In 1875, he searched desperately for her only to be told that she had passed away 5 years earlier. Quanah continued to lead and support his people until the day of his death, February 23rd, 1911. He was buried next to his mother and sister (he had them re-burried on Comanche land in 1910). On his tombstone, one can read:
Resting here until day breaks
And shadows fall and darkness disappears
Is Quanah Parker
Last Chief of the Comanches
Died: February 23, 1911
I leave you with a wonderful video illustrating Quanah Parker’s life, told by his great grandsons.
Do you love Quanah as much as I do? What did you think of his story? Comment below and I will answer. 🙂
All my Relations
How are you doing all? I hope you are enjoying your weekend. Such beautiful weather on the
West Coast! If you know my Facebook page, you will have seen my post about a wonderful Native woman by the name of Susan LaFlesche-Picotte, who was the first Native woman to become a physician in the USA. You go girl! What a good role model! So, today, I will be discussing her life and her contributions to the Native people. Go Susan LaFlesche Picotte!
P.S. Notice my new header? What are your thoughts about it? It was made by a wonderful artist named Rory CJ Frankson. See his Facebook page. Thanks Rory!!
Susan was born in June 1865 on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Nebraska. Her father was Chief Joseph LaFlesche (Iron Eyes) of the Omaha tribe and her mother was Mary (One Woman).
Both wanted Susan and her siblings (she had three sisters) to be exposed to both worlds, the Native world and the White man world. She attended school on a reservation and then went into the White man’s world to get the education she felt she needed to get to help her people.
Let’s just think for a second about the time period Susan was born into and grew up in. She was born in a time of war. Wars regarding the land, regarding basic human rights taken away from the Native people. A time during which every power of decision was taken away. Parents were forced to send their children to residential school, people were confined to live on reservations that they did not even control. Food and basic essentials were rationed, the land that used to be theirs, actually the land they came from, where they lived with all their relations, was taken away. Ceremonies and traditional ways of living were outlawed. Holy!
And what did Susan do about it? She became a freaking doctor! Talk about showing them! Maybe without knowing it, she used her own experience growing up on a poor diseased reservation. Maybe it helped her choose her destiny. It is said that her seeing a sick Native woman die because she was being refused services by a white doctor, made her want to change her people’s conditions. She might not have consciously known it at the time but she embarked on a mission to better her life and the life of her people.
She then went on to attend the Elizabeth Institute for Young Ladies and later the Hampton Institute in Virginia, from which she graduated in 1886. But she was not satisfied. So she did not stop there. Oh no! Encouraged by a mentor she applied for a scholarship with the U.S. office of Indian Affairs, which she received and used to attend the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. And yes people, she became a medical doctor 4 years later! A Native woman doctor. The epitome of living in both worlds.
Following her education, Susan went back home and worked for a government hospital, caring for both Native and white patients. She did her best to improve the conditions of her people by educating them on cleanliness and hygiene and ventilation (as tuberculosis was rampant at the time). It could be said that she worked with dedication, oftentimes having to buy supplies with her own money (as her salary was little) and making house calls at all times of the day in frigid weather (let’s face it, Nebraska winters are cold!). But the very long days took a toll on Susan, who was bedridden for 2 months in 1893.
She then went on to marry Henry Picotte, a Sioux man, and they eventually moved to a different Nebraska town. At the time, the typical role of married women was to stay home and raise kids. Well not for Susan! Not only did she raise their two kids, she also opened her own private practice and worked full time. Not only that, she also took care of Henry who suffered from
alcoholism. Following his death in 1905, Susan became vocal about alcohol on reservations, advocating for its prohibition. All the while, Susan created controversy by supporting the Peyote movement (the use of peyote in Native rituals and traditions). As a medical doctor, her stance put her against numerous of her colleagues. But she also advocated for better conditions on reservations and against the stealing and selling of the land. She also made it a point to show that she could oversee her husband’s estate just as much as a male relative.
Susan was a force to be reckoned with. She used her medical background to teach and educate her people on the importance of hygiene and disease prevention, eventually opening a hospital on the Omaha reservation town of Walthill, Nebraska. She brought the missing care of her childhood to her people. I would describe Susan as a kick ass woman! I am sorry but she rocked. She did not bow down to the traditional roles and stereotypes of the white world. She showed the world she could do more and she did. She stood up for what she believed in and became a role model. She showed the world what a woman can do. She was caring, strong, determined and nurturing. And I can identify a lot with that. I am not the traditional woman. Some say I am stubborn but I say I am determined. I have ambition and I am not satisfied with doing the strict minimum. I speak up when I feel I need to, call people on their bullshit while being caring and nurturing. I have a feeling Susan and I would have gotten along very well. 🙂
What do you all think about Susan LaFlesche Picotte? Are you finding her to be an inspiration too?
All my Relations