Paiutes, descendants of Wovoka, want reburial for Spirit Cave Man
By Brenda Norrell
STILLWATER, Nevada -- Dell Steve, Northern Paiute elder, said the United States has seized the remains of one of the Paiute people, Spirit Cave Man, who deserves a ceremonial reburial.
Steve joins Wesley Dick, Paiute buckskin tanner and traditional hunter and gatherer, on Censored Blog Radio in the show, "Paiutes of Stillwater: Best of the Longest Walk Radio."
The descendants of Wovoka, who brought the Ghost Dance, send a message to the US President and US Congress to honor the inherent rights of Native American people.
Steve said Spirit Cave Man, seized by the US at Grimes Point in the early 1940s, should be reburied in the Stillwater Mountain Range, where the Paiute people began in this world. Steve describes how the colonizers first seized the use of this land and have now seized the remains of the Paiute people. "The state of Nevada and the Bureau of Land Management do not want to give the remains back to us," said Steve. The issue is now before the federal court.
Steve said the remains were first believed to be 2,00o years old, but were later documented to be at about 10,000 years old. The Paiute remains are among three of the oldest found in the Americas. Steve aid the other two oldest remains were in the Northwest US and South America.
"That proves our people have lived here for thousands of years," Steve said. He said the remains belong to the Paiutes and should be returned. However, he said the State of Nevada and its museum, Nevada State Museum, contend that "they are not our people."
"They claim these remains to be 'ancient people,' and not our people." Steve said the oral history of the Paiute people tells how the mother and father of the Paiute Nation lived in the Stillwater Range at Fox Peak. "That was the original story of our people," he said, adding that the Paiute people later migrated. In the region that is now called Stillwater, Paiutes lived around the marshes, where waterfowl were plentiful and deer were in the mountains. "We had plenty of food from Mother Nature. Our culture was hunting and fishing," he said of the early Paiutes. "They did that for thousands of years," he said, adding that Paiutes maintained their ceremonies and dances as they respected Mother Nature and believed in the culture.
Steve said the people here are the descendants of Wovoka, whose vision led to the Ghost Dance. In the broadcast, Steve shares the message of Wovoka and encouragement for Indian people to follow the traditional ways.
Wesley Dick, Paiute hunter and buckskin tanner, describes how the restrictions on Paiute hunting rights here makes it difficult to maintain the Paiute culture. As a Paiute hunter, his responsibility is to provide for the elderly and others in need. Dick said the large migrating waterfowl was once a main source of food, but is now restricted. Dick, who cooked rabbit for the Longest Walk Northern Route as it passed through Stillwater in west central Nevada in February of 2008, describes the process of traditional buckskin tanning. During the Longest Walk's stay here, Dick taught one of the walkers, Yukio from Japan, how to make a buckskin drum.
Speaking on the culture of the marshes, Dick describes the tules or cattails that were used to weave mats for the construction of homes. Dick gathers the tules from the marshes to create ducks and other traditional crafts. Dick sent a message to Washington to respect Paiute traditions and honor the Paiutes inherent right to hunt and gather wild foods.
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