In July the National Park Service awarded 20 grants totaling $748,000 to Federally recognized Indian Tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian Organizations to assist with the preservation, protection, and promotion of their unique cultural heritage.
Call To Action Item #1, Fill In the Blanks, encourages the NPS to work with communities and partners to identify the cultural themes and stories of diverse communities across the country, and to assist in the promotion and protection of these resources. The projects made possible by these grants will document Indian languages, dances, and traditional arts; conduct survey and preservation of historical and archeological sites; and prepare nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma will use a $60,000 grant to restore the historic Peoria Schoolhouse, listed in the National Register, and one of the two last identifiable historic properties associated with the Peoria Tribe. The Peoria Indian Schoolhouse served as the only educational facility for the Confederated Peoria Tribe from 1872 to 1893. The Schoolhouse provided education for the children on the reservation as well as nearby tribes. Following Oklahoma statehood in 1907, the Peoria Indian Schoolhouse became a public school facility and continued in that capacity until 1951.
In Hawaii, the Hoi Mai Ka Lei I Mamo organization will use an award of $38,963 to record the voices and words of elders imparting their knowledge and memories of the opelu fishing practices at Hookena, Kona, Hawaii, for future generations of Hawaiians. The fishing practices of this area of the Big Island reveal the ancient Hawaiian spiritual mindset of harmony and balance in the natural environment. There are no written records of this unique practice, and knowledge of it remains only in the memories of the last living elders.
A grant of $28,146 will be used by the Calista Elders Council of Alaska to the document the composition and content of Yup’ik songs and dances practiced during traditional ceremonies and festivities. Prior to Western contact and missionary influence, the Yup’ik people of the Yuko-Kuskokwim Delta used song and dance to commemorate important events related to prayer, exchange of goods, and celebration. Because most of these ceremonies are no longer practiced regularly, Yup’ik Elders are increasingly concerned that their traditions will vanish if not recorded and passed down to future generations.