Corntassel focuses on Indigenous ‘resurgence’ movements
Cherokee Nation citizen Dr. Jeff Corntassel has spent the past 10 years primarily focusing on Indigenous “resurgence.” As Northeastern State University’s 2017 Sequoyah Fellow, he presented a lecture “From Mauna Kea to Standing Rock” at NSU on Jan. 30 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Dr. Jeff Corntassel speaks to a crowd during his “From Mauna Kea to Standing Rock” lecture on Jan. 30 in the Webb Auditorium at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – For the past 10 years, Cherokee Nation citizen Dr. Jeff Corntassel has focused on Indigenous “resurgence” movements, believing that Indigenous people have a “responsibility” to show examples that highlight their resilience as well as their resurgence.
“I’ve been very critical of truth and reconciliation commissions as a way to resolve longstanding historical conflicts. I think we need more than that, and so a lot of the answers are in our own communities. We just don’t realize it. So it’s reminding people that they have that power,” he said.
Corntassel, Northeastern State University’s 2017 Sequoyah Fellow, presented his lecture “From Mauna Kea to Standing Rock” on Jan. 30 at NSU, with one topic being Indigenous “resurgence.”
“Indigenous resurgence really is about honoring and nurturing those relationships we have with land culture and community and to think about different ways to honor those deep-seeded, those complex relationships whether it’s through speaking the language, whether it’s through telling the stories related to that place, whether it’s through the songs we sing or engaging in ceremony,” he said.
Corntassel, who is the director of Indigenous Governance and an associate professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, said a recent way Indigenous people have honored relationships is when communities came together for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota to serve as “protectors” by preventing the Dakota Access Pipeline from being routed near water sources and tribal lands.
“I think a lot of folks have been thinking about the ways in which Standing Rock communities banded together to protect the water and how there might be the threat of more actions that might be needed to do that with the executive order (by President Donald Trump) basically giving the OK to Keystone (XL pipeline) again and also to North Dakota,” he said. “I think I wanted to show people that the link between water and land to Indigenous (people) is really close. As Indigenous peoples we honor and feel those relationships.”
He said the CN and communities surrounding the tribe have shown support for Standing Rock and by doing so it shows there are other Indigenous struggles out there that tribes such as the CN “can potentially be tied into for a future benefit for all.”
“An attack on one nation’s self-determination is an attack on all of us in some ways,” he said.
Corntassel said he plans to return to NSU in March to visit students in their classrooms. He added that he would also be back in April as a keynote speaker at the 45th annual Symposium on the American Indian.
“I want to go deeper than just a series of talks, so I’m hoping to continue meeting with students, Cherokee students and other Indigenous students to really see what’s on their minds and then (find) ways that I can help advocate for them in any facility like whether it’s at the university or elsewhere,” he said.
As a Cherokee in Canada, Corntassel said he had to “broaden” his thinking.
“Have to think about our old school diplomacy as Cherokees, have to think about what does Gadugi really mean in practice and how do I embody that. That’s why I do the everyday stuff like, how do I embody being Cherokee on an everyday basis,” he said. “How do I show that to my 10-year-old daughter. The language is so important, and it’s so hard to speak that in isolation so I’m trying to…create my daughter as a speaker. Then always visiting back home. I come back at least once or twice a year. We dance at Echota Grounds and then also to visit relatives and catch up. So really it’s broadened my thinking. I feel like an ambassador for the Cherokee Nation to a different place so I have to honor our teachings in everything I do.”
ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ. – ᎾᎿ ᏍᎪᎯ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᎤᎶᏒ, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ Dr. Jeff Corntassel ᏧᏙᎩᏓ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎦᏎᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ “ᎠᎾᎵᏖᎸᎲᏍᎬᎢ” ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎬ, ᎤᏬᎯᏳᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎤᏂᎲ “ᎤᎾᏚᏓᎸ” ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᎢᏳᏅᏗ ᎤᎾᏚᏓᎸ ᎤᎾᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᏯ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎬᎢ.
“ᎢᎦ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎠᏟᎢᎵᏒ ᏚᏳᎪᏛ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᏓᏟᏐᏗ ᎠᏂᎧᎹᏏᏂ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎨᏒ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎪᎯᏓ ᎤᏂᎩᏒ ᏅᎵᏍᏔᏅᏅ. ᎨᎵᎠ ᎤᏂᎬᎦ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎨᏒᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎠᏬᎯᎵᏴᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏅᏌ ᎾᎥ ᏄᎾᏓᎴᏫᏒᎢ. ᏞᏊ ᏱᏕᎵᏍᎪᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏕᏓᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᎲᎢ ᎤᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᎨᏒᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
Corntassel, ᎤᏴᏢᎧᎸᎬ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᎦᎵᏆᏚ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ ᏏᏉᏯ ᎠᏍᎦᏯ, ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᏩᏁᎸ ᎤᏬᏪᎳᏅ “ᏂᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅ Mauna Kea to Standing Rock” ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏃᎸᏔᏅ 30 ᎾᎿ NSU, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏌᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎧᏃᎮᏗ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ “ᏓᎾᎴᎲᏍᎬᎢ.”
“ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᏓᎾᎴᏂᏏᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎠᏂᎸᏉᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏄᏅᎾᏕᎪ ᎯᎠ ᏚᎾᏓᏂᏴᏛ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏙᎢ ᏄᏍᏛ ᏯᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏗᎦᎶᎯᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎭᏫᏂ ᎤᏂᎦᏙᎲᏒ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏓᎴ ᏯᏛᏁᏗ ᏯᏛᎾ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᏗ ᏱᎩ, ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅ ᏱᎩ, ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏓ ᎠᏂᎳᏫᎬ ᏱᎩ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
Corntassel, ᏗᏎᎮᎵᏙᎯ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᏗᏓᏅᏖᎮᎵᏙᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᎵᎪᎯ ᏗᏓᏘᏂᏙᎯ ᎾᎿ University of Victoria in British Columbia, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎾᎿ ᏚᏂᎸᏉᏔᎾ ᏓᎾᏙᎵᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎾᎥ ᏄᎾᏓᎴᏫᏒ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎤᎾᏓᏟᏌᏅ ᎾᎿ Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᏯ “ᎠᎵᏍᏕᎵᏍᎩ” ᎠᎾᎴᏫᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ Dakota Access Pipeline ᎤᏂᎶᎯᏍᏗ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᎾᎥ ᎠᎹ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᎤᏂᏁᎲ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎦᏙᎢ.
“ᎨᎵᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎠᎾᏓᏅᏖᏍᎨ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ Standing Rock ᎾᎥ ᏄᎾᏓᎴᏫᏒ ᎤᎾᎵᎪᏗ ᏧᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᎤᏂᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᎠᎹ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᎡᏍᎦ ᎢᏳᏅᏁᎯ ᏱᎧᏂᎬᎦ ᎢᏳᏛᏗ ᎯᎠ ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏌᏕᎩ ᎤᏁᏍᏗ (ᎤᎬᏫᏳᎯ Donald Trump) ᎾᎿ ᎤᏁᏨ ᎣᏏ ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᎿ Keystone (XL pipeline) ᏏᏊ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᏊ North Dakota,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎨᎵᎠ ᎠᏆᏚᎵ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᎢᎦᏥᏴᏁᏗ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏚᎾᏂᏴᏛ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎠᎹ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏙᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ (ᎠᏂᏴᏫ) ᎾᎥ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏂᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏙᏣᎵᎮᎵᎪ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎨᏐ ᎾᎿ ᏚᎾᏓᏚᏓᎸᏛᎢ.”
ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎥ ᏄᎾᏓᎴᏫᏒ ᎤᎳᏗᏢ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᏅᏁᎸ ᎤᏂᎫᏍᏓᎥ ᎾᎿ Standing Rock ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᎭ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎤᏦᏎᏗ ᏄᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏯᏛᎾ ᎤᏠᏯ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ “ᎡᎵᏊ ᏱᏳᏂᎭ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏟᎢᎵᏒ ᏗᎬᏩᏂᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ ᏱᎩ ᏂᎦᏓ.”
ᏓᏂᎦᏘᎴᎬ ᏌᏊ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏩᏌ--ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᏓᎦᏘᎴᎪ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎢᎸᏢᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
Corntassel ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᏚᏭᎪᏛ ᏭᎷᎯᏍᏗ NSU ᎾᎿ ᎠᏅᏱ ᎧᎸᎢ ᏧᏩᏛᎯᏓᏍᏗ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ. ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᎤᏛᏅ ᎤᎷᎯᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎧᏬ. ᎧᎸᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ 45th annual “Symposium ᎾᎿ ᎠᎹᎵᎧ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ.”
ᎤᎪᏓ ᎠᏆᏚᎵ ᎠᏆᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᏃ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᏓᏊ, ᎤᏚᎩ ᎠᏋᎭ ᏂᎦᏯᎢᏐ ᏓᎾᏑᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ, ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎤᏂᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎤᏂᏩᏛᏗ ᏗᎬᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᏗᎦᏂᎳᏕᏗᎢ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᏯᏛᎾ university ᎠᎴ ᎤᏣᏘᏂ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
Canada ᎡᎯ ᎠᏣᎳᎩ , CORNTASSEL ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ‘ᎤᏢᏡᎯᏍᏗ” ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬᎢ.
“ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎤᏪᏘ ᏦᎦᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᏓᏄᎪᏔᏂᏙᎲ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ. ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎦᏚᎩ ᎦᏛᎬᎢ ᏱᏅᏛᏁᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏙ ᎬᏗ ᏯᏛᏅᏗᎢ ᎾᎣᎩ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏥᏂᎦᏛᏁᎰᎯ ᏧᏙᏓᏡ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎦᏙᏱᎦᏛᎦ ᏱᏥᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎠᏊᏣ ᎠᎨᏳᏣ ᏍᎪᎯ ᎢᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ. ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎢᎦ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏍᏓᏯ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᏣᏘᏂ ᏱᏮᏙᎢ ᎦᏁᎶᏗᎰ….. ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᏈᏣ. ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᏫᎦᏥᏩᏛᎯᏙᎰ ᏗᎩᎬᎢ. ᏫᎩᏙᎰᎢ ᏌᏊ ᎠᎴ ᏔᎵᎭ ᎢᏳᏩᎪᏗ ᏑᎶᏘᏴᏓ ᎢᏳᏓᎵ. ᎣᏣᎵᏍᎩᏍᎪ ᎢᏦᏗ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᎩᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏗᏮᎾ ᎢᎦᏥᎪᏩᏘᏍᎪ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎧᏁᏉᎪ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏖᏗ. ᎢᎩᏅᏏᏓ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏦ ᏂᏛᏆᏓᎴᏅ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎦᎵᎡᎵᎪ ᏗᏋᏆᏕᏲᏗ ᎨᏒ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎲᎢ.”
– Translated by Anna Sixkiller