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Harjo: Native people, like 'extinct' bird, survive

"The honorable ivory-billed woodpecker has returned from the dead and is living in a wildlife refuge in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas. It seemed to disappear in 1944 and was long presumed extinct.

This spirit bird's reappearance 60 years later reinforces a wise instruction by Native elders: 'Never give up on anyone.'

Then and now, I think how Native peoples have been pushed out of our natural homelands and how long we have lived at the edge of extinction. The Native population hemisphere-wide was over 100 million in 1491. By 1900, it was under 1 million.

In the U.S. at the turn of last century, there were fewer than 240,000 Native people. The good news is that there were 2 million American Indians by 2000 and that Native populations are increasing in every country.

It is a miracle of survivance that there are Native people alive in sufficient numbers to assure a future as Native people."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Never give up on anyone (Indian Country Today 5/12)

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