Saturday, July 16, 2011

Northern Paiute traditional gathering case could set precedent for future


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Photos copyright by Wesley Dick, published with permission at Censored News
(Photo 1) "Ticutta people.  My children are standing with me.  I was confronted by the U.S. Game Warden just a few hundred yards from this public sign." (Photo 2) Wesley Dick gathering tules in a drainage ditch on Indian land. (Photo 3) Wesley Dick working on a tule duck to present for a 3rd grade class demonstration. (Photo 4) Tule ducks.

Traditional Paiute tule gatherer fighting for Native American gathering rights

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

NORTHERN PAIUTE STILLWATER INDIAN LAND -- Northern Paiute traditional gatherer and craftsman Wesley Dick was cited by a Nevada game warden and fined $800 while gathering tules. Dick said Native American gatherers and craftsmen should pay close attention to what is happening in the state of Nevada.
"If I lose my case, all traditional people will be affected.  The Fish and Game claims I am their first Native American to be cited; and I wish to be the last.  I have been told by several other Natives that the American Indian Religious Freedom Act is weightless and weak.  I hope my case gives it the extra boost of power for the next indigenous person," Dick told Censored News.
"I am not interested in any policies, restrictions, regulations or limitations and definitely not their approval or authorization to provide for my family and my people's needs. Their policies pertain only to their own people. I know for a fact that all aboriginal people have the same feeling and understanding as I."
As with most mainstream media coverage, Dick said that a newspaper article in the Reno Gazette-Journal on July 6, 2011 fails to tell the whole story. http://www.rgj.com/article/20110706/NEWS/110706033/Paiute-artist-picking-cattails-gets-800-citation
"The article does not detail enough information concerning our sacred contribution to our homelands as you will read. My intentions are to educate the non-Natives and Native people.  Also to encourage our valued cultural traditions, teachings we all posses. My case focuses on the tule plant but it will later affect hunting and aboriginal land claims we are in desperate need of," Dick said.
Dick, known as “Kwassuh” by his people, was gathering tule in the ceremonial way when he was cited by a Nevada game warden and given fines of $800 in May. For the past 18 years Kwassuh, 45, has worked an average of 170 hides a year of deer, moose, elk, buffalo and antelope in the traditional style of brain-tanning. Many items are made for powwow dancers, including moccasins, fan handles and hair wraps. He also makes items for ceremonies such as various sized hand drums. No chemicals are used, only natural elements such as the sun, water, brains, fire and stretching the hide by hand. This direct hands-on experience keeps him in touch with the spirituality of the animal hide that he works with.
Hide work is not a hobby, it is a way of life.
Hunting and plant gathering are very sacred to Kwassuh and the tanning of the hide is the end result in giving an animal honor by using it for nutrition, clothing, tools and ceremonies. These traditional ways were taught to him by elders, friends and relatives who shared stories with him when he was a child, as well as many experiences from his youth into adulthood. Living on the Stillwater Indian Nation, Kwassuh has seen and experienced the loss of Native culture among his people and other tribal people at a drastically growing rate.
Demonstrations and workshops are the best way that he can reach many people at one time and he is always willing to teach whoever is willing to listen and learn. All ages have been successful and all the hard work and experience make it all worthwhile.
From start to finish, each hide is different and has its own individuality. Kwassuh has learned the dangers and extreme physical work that is needed in all seasonal conditions throughout the year. Full faith in the Creator has kept him safe and much thanks is given to the traditional people in his life that he has learned from.
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