Tuesday, November 05, 2013


By a presidential proclamation, November is National Native American Heritage Month. A good many teachers and librarians are doing all they can to provide students with substantive information about American Indians. With that in mind, I recommend the DVD, Canes of Power

Canes of Power is a documentary about the sovereign nation status of the Pueblo Indian Nations of New Mexico. Each pueblo is a distinct sovereign nation within what is now known as the United States, but we've been on our homelands for a lot longer than the United States has existed. As the people in the DVD make clear, Pueblo Nations have been acknowledged or recognized as sovereign nations for hundreds of years.

Prior to the time when Europeans arrived on our homelands, leaders at each pueblo had a cane that signified their position(s) as leaders. When Spain arrived in the 1600s, acknowledgement of our sovereignty was reflected by a cane Spain presented to our tribal leaders. The same thing happened when Mexico declared its dependence from Spain.

When our homelands became part of the United States, President Lincoln added a fourth cane to the three. As such, there are four canes (image shared here is my photograph of that particular frame in the documentary):

The head of each cane is engraved. Here's a photograph of the Zia Lincoln cane (Zia is one of the pueblos):

Credit: Ward Russell, Silver Bullet Productions

Because a significant chunk of the documentary focuses on the Lincoln canes, I think it is especially important to teachers developing/teaching about Abraham Lincoln because it raises questions about why Lincoln established this nation-to-nation relationship with the Pueblo people but not with other Native Nations. Pueblo leaders offer their thoughts on that question.

All-in-all, it is a compelling documentary and I highly recommend adding it to your classroom or library collection. With regard to using it, consider February (when Lincoln is celebrated), or July (when nationhood is a focus). It need not be limited to use in November (Native American Heritage Month).

You can order it from Silver Bullet Productions.

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