I am Cherokee by blood, but I was born and raised in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The Cherokee and Creek languages are completely different but some of the lore is so similar I confuse them even now, when I want to talk about eagles.
Both nations have a Bird Clan and an Eagle Dance and ceremonial uses for eagle feathers. Cherokees have a ceremony related to killing an eagle that is much more complex than the simple thanks offered to other animals, and eagles are not to be killed except by people taught the ceremony and then only in rare circumstances.
Both nations hold Eagle to be sacred and relate Eagle to success in war. Cherokees sometimes refer to the golden eagle as the “war eagle.”
When I left home and began to meet and listen to Indians not Cherokee or Creek, I found that respect for Eagle is not confined to the Southeastern tribes.
When my son was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, calling them “the Screaming Eagles” made perfect sense considering their history. They were in the Normandy invasion. They were surrounded at Bastogne and refused to surrender, becoming the first full division to be cited for gallantry in action.
Those were the troops sent in to escort black children into Little Rock, Arkansas schools when the governor had mobilized the National Guard to stop them.
The Washington Post reported this week that war eagles have entered the war on terrorism. Drones are getting cheaper every day in toy stores. Terrorists are using them to deliver bombs in urban areas where shooting down the drones might kill as many people as the bombs.
The French Air Force raised four golden eagle chicks trained from hatching to take down drones. In a splendid display of Gallic humor, the French found names for their secret weapons in Les Trois Mousquetaires: Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan.
My cousin Ray Sixkiller wanted to know whether the four war eagles will be known as the Alexandre Dumas Escadrille. I am not informed, but Agence France-Presse reported that the eagles are going to work. In a public demonstration, d’Artagnan launched from a military control tower with an eagle scream, covered 200 meters in 20 seconds, and left the remains of his target in a stand of tall grass.
A second brood of war eagles is on order. The eagle handlers are designing mittens of leather and Kevlar to protect the birds’ talons in case their interception sets off the bomb.
Navajo Times reported that the Navajo Nation Council’s Naabik’iyáti’ Committee and the Secretary of the Navy have agreed in principle to name the first re-designed tug and rescue-salvage ships “Navajo.” Now, Congress must appropriate the funds to build it, estimated to be over $63 million.
Having the tribal name on the first one means that all subsequent vessels of the same design will be known as “Navajo class.” The naming deal was brokered by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona).
Cousin Ray vacationed on the Navajo Rez this summer, so he was quick to assure me, “There’s no truth to the rumor that Navajos are lining up to join the Navy so they can see what water looks like.”
HuffPost reported that Oregon State Police and the Depoe Bay Fire Department responded to an unfortunate accident on Highway 101. A truck driver failed to slow sufficiently approaching a construction zone. When he steered violently to avoid a collision one of his cargo containers flew into oncoming traffic. His cargo was 7,500 pounds of live hagfish.
Smithsonian Magazine calls the Pacific hagfish “one of the most disgusting animals in the ocean.” They are also known as “slime eels” or “snot snakes.” When under duress, each hagfish can fill a five-gallon bucket with a white, sticky slime.
Marine scientist Andrew David Thaler recommended that owners of the four vehicles involved in the crash clean their cars quickly and throw away their clothes because “hagfish slime is so tough and dense that scientists are looking into using it to create a natural Lycra.”
The Oregon State Police tweeted out the tale with the hashtag #Cleanup on Aisle 101”
Cousin Ray wanted to know where that truck was taking 7,500 pounds of snot snakes?
They were being shipped to South Korea, where they are considered good to eat.
“Yum,” he deadpanned.
Motherboard reported that a 26-year-old Chinese vlogger who goes by “Ms. Zhang” on her health and wellness videos, poisoned herself on a live video feed. Speaking about the claimed health benefits of Aloe vera, she bit into the raw leaves of an Agave americana plant.
Her first comment was vintage show business trouper, “Not bad.” Then she said, “Wow, very bitter. So bitter.” The video stream was cut at that point but other news sources reported she was rushed to a hospital. Her stomach was pumped and she is reported in stable condition with burns to her mouth and throat.
Aloe vera originated in North Africa but has spread anthrogenically around the world. American Indians commonly use it externally to treat burns. Agave americana is a decorative plant where water is scarce and it is known to be poisonous to humans.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer and California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment list Aloe vera as a carcinogen when eaten, but some curanderos still recommend ingesting it.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that Judge Sharon A. Chatman sentenced Robert Farmer, 24, to 16 years in prison. The District Attorney’s sentencing memorandum read in part:
Defendant chose as his targets particularly vulnerable victims, ensuring that his acts would be secretive in nature… Indeed, fourteen of Defendant’s victims have never been located and were only identified through DNA analysis of blood or other items found inside of Defendant’s car and on his clothing or in surveillance footage of Defendant abducting a victim.
Defendant’s crimes involved planning and sophistication in avoiding detection as he terrorized an entire community.
In her decision, Judge Chatman listed off the unknown victims as “Doe” and then the known victims named Angel, Gogo, Rayden, Thumper, Jupiter, Traveler and Tiger.
The crimes that put Farmer away for 16 years involved 20 counts of animal cruelty for killing elderly and tame cats over a two-month period.
Cousin Ray, like me, is a dog person, but we both thought this guy would be dangerous to humans as well if he wasn’t already, since the DA’s memorandum revealed he had already assaulted his landlady’s grandson and his father, a retired police captain.
Farmer’s defense lawyer argued that his client was in a “methamphetamine frenzy.”
Cousin Ray wondered how any kind of “frenzy” could last two months.
A mere week since I reported in this space about academic interest in death selfies—or, precisely, people who die because they were focused on the selfie rather than what was about to happen—The New York Times reported on a phenomenon that might be called “selfies that make you wish you were dead.”
The immediate news was from an immersive art exhibition at 14th Factory, a gallery in Los Angeles. British artist Simon Birch had installed a roomful of crowns on pedestals. Surveillance video showed a woman gallery goer, attempting to take a selfie with the crown of her choice, slipped and fell against one pedestal knocking it over and starting a domino effect that crashed lots of pedestals and sent high dollar headwear crashing to the hard floor. According to the artist, the damage from that selfie gone wrong exceeded $200,000.
The Times went on to seine through the news for similar selfie destruction.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden shut down Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors for three days of repairs after a selfie taker destroyed an LED pumpkin that was the source of one of the images being bounced through the mirrors.
In 2015, Cremona, Italy had a 300-year-old sculpture shattered by a selfie-seeker.
In 2014, an American student tried to snatch a selfie from inside a 32-ton sculpture in the shape of a vagina at Tubingen University. He got stuck, but firefighters were able to extract him without destroying the sculpture. Cousin Ray wanted to know if K-Y Jelly was involved, but I was wondering whether alcohol was involved.
Speaking of alcohol, the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, Italy owned a statute created in the early 19th century as an exact copy of the ancient Greek sculpture, Drunken Satyr. They owned it until 2014, when a student climbing on it for a selfie broke off a leg.
Last year, a tourist climbed to the roof of a Lisbon train station to accomplish a selfie with a statute of Dom Sebastiao, a 16th century king of Portugal. When the would-be photographer and Sebastiao fell off the roof together, the statue shattered into pieces that might do for souvenirs, since Sebastiao is forever unavailable to appear in selfies.
Native News Online updated the recent notice in this column that the Trump administration intends to solve the problem of overgrazed public lands by legalizing the slaughter of wild horses.
The CANA Foundation headed up a lobbying push in support of a bipartisan (how rare is that?) move to stop the slaughter by cutting off funding for inspection of any slaughterhouses that process horses, an amendment to an appropriations bill sponsored by Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Charlie Dent (R- PA).
Despite support straddling the aisle, the amendment was voted down in the Appropriations Committee, leaving 55,000 wild horses in immediate jeopardy because they are already in custody. The Bureau of Land Management has requested funds to euthanize the horses that don’t get eaten.
There will be more to come and I got to wondering about the CANA Foundation. CANA has been spearheading the effort to save the mustangs that have roamed North American lands since the Spanish proved unable to keep track of their livestock.
I took CANA to be an acronym, but I never figured out for what. So now I think it might refer to the village where Jesus performed his first miracle—the superfluous one.
Refreshments were getting low at a wedding party so Jesus turned some water into wine, apparently unaware that many branches of the Church started in his name would regard drinking alcohol as a sin.
Whatever the CANA in CANA Foundation means, I see that its leadership includes Moses Brings Plenty (Lakota) and Will Strongheart (Keeseekoose First Nation). I wish Brings Plenty and Strongheart the best of luck, but I’m afraid that 55,000 dead horses will have to compete with the human body count if Trumpcare and President Trump’s budget succeed in halving federal funding for Medicaid.
“There must be an overgrazing problem,” Cousin Ray snarled, “in the food stamp program.”