Tag Archives: Indigenous Peoples

Semester in New Zealand – Picking up Rocks – By Matthew Breeze. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Semester in New Zealand – Picking up Rocks – By Matthew Breeze. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

When you walk do you sometimes pick up a rock and look at it? Maybe toss it into a nearby pond or lake. I know that I do. When I was little I would pick up rocks all the time, sometimes I would find a rock that really grabbed my interest. These would be brought home to my Mom or Dad and I bet some of them are still around in some drawer somewhere that hasn’t been cleaned out in ages. Rocks speak to people sometimes. People take pictures of rocks, climb rocks, we even eat rocks! Salt I mean of course. They are under our feed on walking paths, above our heads when we look up at a mountain. They surround us and come in all different shapes and sizes. Some people spend a whole lifetime looking at and studying rocks. Geologists devote their lives to rocks and the stories they can tell us humans.
Where would humans be without rocks? We have used them to build homes and preserve our food, salt once again, to keep safe and to kill each other. They tell stories of the earth’s past and creation that amaze people. The oldest

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[This is the rock from the rock beach that I learned how to do a traditional Maori flax weave on.]

pictures and writings that people ever made are on rocks. There are myths and legends built around rocks, whether they be Greek myths or indigenous peoples legends or religious ceremonies centered on a single rock. Our history as people is tied to rocks no matter where we come from. Rock is a generic term and can be a boring word to describe things that amaze and inspire people, but it is also a wonderful word that has the ability to describe a thousand different pieces of the earth that look and feel so different. Everyone has an image in their minds of what a rock is. Rocks have the ability to connect people to the land, to their place or their homeland. Here in New Zealand I have been picking up rocks almost everywhere I go.

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[This story has to do with using traditional Waka canoes one day on the trip.]

They all tell their own story and remind me of an interesting or cool place that I visited. They provide a great memento that I can look back on when I get home. I have become a child again, bringing rocks home to my parents.

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[This is most of my NZ rock collection so far.]

On the very first week of the trip here in New Zealand our Maori Professor told us all that rocks are the perfect gift to bring home to our families. He then told us to go down to the rock beach below where we were staying and find a rock. A rock that spoke to us, a rock that when you picked it up and held it you would know that it was the rock you wanted. I not only did this for the task that he would have us do later that afternoon with our rocks, but I have kept that in the back of my mind everywhere I have gone while I have been in this far away land.

Sometimes I pick up four or five or even ten rocks and look at them, carry them, and then toss them away before I pick up or see a rock that really speaks to me. I always know it is the right one because I know that I do not want to give it back to the earth. Then I take a picture of the rock, usually with a scenic background of the area where I am, so that I can always go back and look to see where I picked the rock up from if I forget.

I may forget where I picked it up, but I know for certain that I can tell a story about each rock that I have picked up. A story about what it meant to me at the time, or who I was with, or something interesting. I think this is also why I use to do this as a child, so that I could more easily remember something cool that I had done or a cool place I had been. In this way the rocks have become more than just rocks for me.

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[A raging river rushed in the background of this memory rock.]

They have become a symbol of a place and a time that for one reason or another I wanted to remember at the time.
Rocks seem to have a sense of permanence. Maybe this is why great rulers build huge tombs like the pyramids or huge buildings to be remembered. I just want to remember my time in New Zealand and if picking up some rocks and bringing them back home is a way for me to do that then I am happy with that.

Having these small pieces of earth in my possession has not only allowed me to hold on to memories and remember spectacular landscapes or new experiences, it has also given me a connection to place. Looking over the little rock collection I see the places I have been. All of those places are places that I have never even come close to before. I have picked up many rocks on the north shore of Minnesota, but I have been there many a time before. These rocks are from places that are eight thousand miles from my home! Each and every one of them seems so different than rocks back home, even if they may not look that different.

Holding a little chunk of New Zealand in my hands makes me feel more connected to this lovely land that I am visiting. I think that when I go home I will once again pick up rocks when I walk around, and some of them I may even take home with me. Rocks can speak to us if we take the time to look at them, pick them up and hold them. They can be symbols of memories, good luck charms, or really anything we want them to be. Maybe all of us should grab a rock or two when we travel, whether we travel around the world or in the backyard, rocks can speak to us if we give them the time.

About Matthew Breeze. I am a junior at the college of St. Scholastica this year and I am majoring in Global, Cultural, and Language studies with a minor in Spanish and a minor in political science. I will be returning to St. Scholastica in December. I am originally from Bemidji, Minnesota, but I have come to consider Duluth as my second home.
I have a passion for politics and I hope to someday work for the State Department or the Foreign Service working in international relations in some way shape or form. I have always wanted to go to New Zealand. I have been to Canada and Mexico, but I really haven’t been anywhere different than the United States. The city in Mexico I was in was a tourist trap and Canada looks like my northern Minnesota home. I have a family connection to New Zealand as well as the general desire to visit. My grandfather was in New Zealand for rest and relaxation during World War II. The stories of his time in NZ have been passed down through the family and are one of the biggest reasons that I decided to do a study abroad semester in NZ.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Semester in New Zealand – Stolen Water – by Matthew Breeze. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Semester in New Zealand – Stolen Water – by Matthew Breeze. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Minnesota is The Land of Ten Thousands Lakes, as our license plates so often remind us. There is water almost everywhere we look. Those of us to live in Duluth or up the North Shore look out at the sun rise over the largest fresh water lake in the world every morning. Many of us grew up on lakes or have family cabins on lakes or rivers. Minnesotan are attached to their water. Lake Superior is more than just a lake, it is our lake, it is part of our identity. The waterways and lakes are part of who we are as people.

Now imagine if that water, that many of us hold near and dear, was taken away from us. Stolen without our consent. Not just a few drops or part of a river, but all of it. Gone. What would we do? How would we feel? What if Duluthians no longer had access to Lake Superior?

This is what has happened to the Ngati Rangi people of New Zealand. They are the tangata whenua, or people of the land. They are the Maori people of Mount Ruapehu. There is a struggle for water, but not just water in the sense that we westerners are accustomed to. For the Maori people of New Zealand water is not only water, it is sacred, it is their old people, their ancestors, their identity, they do not talk of the rivers, but to the rivers. They have a special personal connection to the water and the rivers of their home.

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[This is one of the intakes where water is moved from the river into an underground pipe.]

The water in the rivers of their home is being taken by a series of twenty two concrete dams and collection units for use in a large hydro power plant. The water from the rivers and streams around Mount Ruapehu is damned and then funneled into a series of underground tunnels. Instead of traveling down their natural paths to the ocean like they have done for thousands of years, the waterways running down the mountain have been taken by a hydro power company. A vast network of tunnels and pipes moves the water do a large reservoir behind a huge dam.
This is what the Maori people have come up against. Steel and concrete instead of their ancestral streams and rivers. The image of a dry river bed has become a symbol of lasting colonization. The water was taken without their consent or even input. The government and the power company worked together to generate power.

After many decades of enduring this tragedy the Maori people of Nagti Rangi went to the courts to achieve justice. Years of battles in the courts produced outcomes favorable to the corporations. The money and time spent thus created an outcome that equaled the status quo. From this point the Maori people agreed to initiate talks with the power corporation to see if negotiations could find a better result than going through the courts.

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[This is what the river is suppose to look like in a natural environment.]

Negotiations proved better than battles in the courts. The corporate officials were invited to a Marae (a traditional meeting house where my study abroad group had the honor of staying at also). From here the officials, the Maori leaders and older community members went to the rivers and talked about what they meant to Maori people. That the rivers are sacred and that it is a desecration of their ancestors that the rivers are blocked and diverted in steel pipes from their natural paths.

These visits and the lengthy discussions between Maori leaders and company officials have brought about promising changes. The officials and the CEO came to the conclusion that a change needed to come after seeing what the rivers meant to Maori people, including tears from elders at the sight of their dry rivers. The corporate officials could not look at the rivers and the water the same way after actually seeing it. When people take the time to go out and see the land for themselves rather than simply making decisions from an office a long way away the outcomes can be different, as well as environmentally or culturally conscious.

This change is occurring right now. Water flows are being returned to the rivers, the dams on the rivers are being opened to let some water through.

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[This is my battle buddy Mary standing on the dam. The reservoir of stolen water is visible in the background.]

The Maori and the corporation have come to a number of agreements over this important ancestral water. The four rivers with the most water flow will have water running through them by 2017. This agreement seems to have satisfied both sides. The Maori leaders have said that “Hydro (power) has its place, but so do the rivers.”

The history between Maori people, the Ngati Rangi in this case, has been harsh and unfair toward the Maori. The balance of power as a result of colonization has often been to corporations and the government. Today however people in New Zealand are having conversations with each other and coming to agreements that can please both sides. The Maori once again can see the river run and flow. The rivers are alive once again. This has immense cultural ramifications that will reverberate throughout the community as time goes on. The next year will be a time of continued successes for the Maori as the rest of the agreed upon rivers has their dams opened up. The power company still gets water from these rivers to feed the reservoir that allows the generation of hydro electric power. This story is a story of compromise and communication overcoming decades of struggle and courtroom battles. When people talk to each other the results here were beneficial. Maybe this can be emulated in other parts of New Zealand and other parts of the world as indigenous groups fight for their sacred places to be respected.

About Matthew Breeze, NSR Editor. I am a junior at the college of St. Scholastica this year and I am majoring in Global, Cultural, and Language studies with a minor in spanish and a minor in political science. I will be returning to St. Scholastica in December. I am originally from Bemidji, Minnesota, but I have come to consider Duluth as my second home.

I have a passion for politics and I hope to someday work for the State Department or the Foreign Service working in international relations in some way shape or form.
I have always wanted to go to New Zealand. I have been to Canada and Mexico, but I really haven’t been anywhere different than the United States. The city in Mexico I was in was a tourist trap and Canada looks like my northern Minnesota home. I have a family connection to New Zealand as well as the general desire to visit. My grandfather was in New Zealand for rest and relaxation during World War II. The stories of his time in NZ have been passed down through the family and are one of the biggest reasons that I decided to do a study abroad semester in NZ.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Tequesta People, Met Square, and the Fight for History — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Dennika Mays

Tequesta People, Met Square, and the Fight for History — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Dennika Mays

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In 2013, a developer, MDM Group, was working at Met Square (a site in downtown Miami) and made a shocking discovery. Their original plan was to dig up the area, set the foundations, and build some commercial spaces such as a movie theater, shopping plaza, and a grocery store. But during the course of their digging, they unearthed the remnants of a prehistoric Tequesta village.

The Tequesta people were a Native American tribe that had lived on the southeastern Atlantic coast of Florida since the third century B.C.E. This tribe built their livelihood at the mouth of the Miami River, where the Miami River meets the Atlantic Ocean. This place is of huge historical importance because it was a place of intersection. The Tequesta people had contact with Native American peoples in the Caribbean who would come to the mouth of the Miami River for trading and political purposes. Additionally, many tribes from the northern parts of the U.S. would travel down various river waterways and would follow the Miami River down to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean to trade and interact with other tribes. Unfortunately, the Tequesta people were killed by various Europeans who moved into the area.

The site in downtown Miami contains artifacts and roughly 3,000 human bones. These bones have been carbon dated by archeologists to about 600-500 B.C.E. Upon digging up the bones, MDM Group proposed to allot 25 percent of the property to the preservation of the site and then build on the rest of the property. Their proposal was to devote a small piece of the land to carve out and display some of the artifacts from the Tequesta village.

There were many hearings about this site, as community members, archeologists, activists, scholars, students, and teachers all came to speak against building on the site. This site could possibly be one of the most significant sites of Native American artifacts in the country, and this developer wanted to build right on top of it. Furthermore, prior to buying the land, the developer was informed of the fact that the area was historically occupied by the Tequesta people. MDM Group knew that it was likely they would find some remains, but they pushed forward with the project.

On February 14, 2014, I attended a hearing at City Hall to fight against the developers trying to build on the remains. I was there with about 80 to 100 other community members who all wanted to see the site preserved. The lawyer for the developer spoke for several hours and talked about the “primitive” Tequesta people. He spoke about how they “didn’t wear shoes,” how they “didn’t treat their women right,” and how they wore “loin cloths.” He often referred to them as “Indians” and not Native Americans, which is the correct terminology. . All of these remarks were to devalue the findings of the site and justify building on top of them. The lawyer talked about the potential money that could be made and the potential tourists that would frequent the place if there was a hotel and movie theater, as opposed to artifacts of an “Indian village.” The lawyer even whitewashed some historical facts by saying that the Spaniards who killed the Tequesta people so many years ago “were trying to save them” with Christianity.

But what this lawyer was saying doesn’t just reflect on him. In fact, he was using tactics used by most Europeans since they first came into contact with Native American people: 1) downplay their historical significance and/or historical achievements 2) attack their worth as human beings by attacking their character 3) place them in opposition to ‘modernity’ and ‘progress’. When I was listening to the lawyer talk about the Tequesta people, his attitude and word use made it sound like the Tequesta remains were “getting in the way” of “development” and “progress.” “This isn’t the Stonehenge,” he said as he was trying to justify the destruction of the site. It made me angry and frustrated to hear him talk about the Tequesta people as though they were a nuisance.

But what was really at stake was history. And more importantly, what really needed to be asked was this; “Whose history do we tell and who gets to tell it?” The history that the lawyer told during the hearing is the history that many Eurocentric history books tell of Native American people: they were “savages,” “primitive,” “outdated,” “dirty,” and that they “needed to be saved.” But this is not the history that Native American people have of themselves. When the developers wanted to carve out 25 percent of the land for the display of some of the Tequesta artifacts, they wanted to tell a version of history that wasn’t reflective of reality. Furthermore, the developers didn’t contact or involve the local Native American tribes in the planning of this display. They wanted to tell the history of a Native American people without first consulting Native American people. As a result, the local tribes here in south Florida, the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes, sent a representative to speak at City Hall to ask the developer why the Miccosukee and Seminole people were not contacted in the planning phase of the development.

But, finally, after ten hours of testimony, advocating, and arguing, the board had to make a decision. We had been at City Hall since 8 a.m. and it was about 7:30 p.m. by the time everyone was done speaking. The board members took a moment to think, write a few things down, and then made their decision: the developer would not be allowed to build anymore at Met Square. They decided 6 to 7 that any further building at Met Square had to incorporate 100 percent preservation of the site. Furthermore, one of the board members noted that he was “highly disappointed” and “appalled” at the way Native American people were talked about on that day.
Everyone was so excited. We had stopped a multi-million dollar project dead in its tracks, and the developer was required to preserve the site and unable to pick and choose what it wanted to keep from the remains. We still have more work to do as MDM Group plans to appeal this decision. The war to save this site isn’t quite over, but we won a significant battle.

For the Ancestors
For the Elders
And for Future Generations
AHO!

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to contribute to The North Star Project Reports — HLIANG@CSS.EDU

For all of the North Star Project Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

The North Star Project Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School, Duluth Denfeld High School, Dodge Middle School and other schools around the world to the North Star Project. The North Star Project has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star Project students and teachers.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2013-present The Middle Ground Journal. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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