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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America



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Favorite Sites


collected by Paul and Vicki

Welcome to the Highway of Tears Initiative
This website will serve to inform the community about the work being done by the Highway of Tears Initiative. It is currently under construction, and we would appreciate any feedback you may have about the design and content. Please email Lisa Krebs, Highway of Tears Initiative Coordinator at:
Welcome to my Web . . .
Like most writers, I want to be read. I am a Lakota journalist, a columnist. You may have read some of my writing in Indian Country Today ( or on All my columns, as well as other writings, are here in the archive, and you are most welcome to read them, download them, or send them to others.
Association on American Indian Affairs
For 87 years, AAIA has been working to promote these goals and provide the critical elements that Native American Indian children and families need to live happy, healthy and productive lives. Our programs focus upon youth/education (scholarships, child welfare, summer camps), health (diabetes education and prevention), cultural preservation (sacred lands protection, Native language preservation) and the empowerment of tribal communities (federal acknowledgment, funding for tribal programs). Please visit the rest of our website to learn more about our vital initiatives.
Desert Animals
Although at first glance, the desert may seem inhospitable, in reality it is teeming with animals and plants that have adapted to their dry surroundings. Some animals adapt by hiding from the extreme conditions, some by conserving water, and others survive by dissipating heat through evaporation, also known as sweating.
"A desert is defined as a region that receives very little rainfall. It can be hot or cold. There are various types of deserts all around the world, from the harsh elements of the Sahara desert in Africa to the four deserts of the Southwestern United States." From the publishers of the, features seventeen desert animals. Each profile includes basic stats such as diet, habitat, size and description, appropriate for elementary school students but probably not detailed enough for middle-school animal reports.
Desert Museum: Sonoran Desert Fact Sheets
From Anna's Hummer (a green and red hummingbird) to the White-Winged Dove, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum provides twenty-eight animal fact sheets, and another ten about desert plants. These are excellent for school reports, and include audio recording and fun facts about each creature. Did you know that javalinas are not pigs, but rather a New World peccary related to swine? Or that kangaroo rats have pouches, but they do not carry their young in them?
Desert USA: Desert Animals & Wildlife
There are nearly a hundred animal facts sheets at Desert USA, organized by class: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and spiders. All include a description and a photo, and many include videos, animal trivia, and links to related articles. "The cottontail's tail functions as an alarm signal. When a rabbit raises its tail, the large white patch of fur on the bottom is exposed, serving as a warning signal to other cottontails."
Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert Wildlife
Digital Desert is the work of photographer Walter Feller, but it is not simply a Mojave desert photo gallery site, it also include gobs of articles about desert life. This section serves as table of contents, and you'll find links to information about Animal Adaptations, Desert Food Chain, Wildlife by Type, and Endangered Species. "Some Mojave animals have developed special physiological structures to enable them to regulate body heat. Mule deer and jackrabbits, for example, have large ears that are densely lined with shallow blood vessels, allowing air to cool their blood as it circulates."

The Living Desert: Animals
The Living Desert in Palm Desert, California is a specialized zoo dedicated to preserving desert life. You can take a virtual tour with these animal and plant fact sheets, their photo gallery, and exhibit summaries. They also have a section on endangered desert species and cactus rustlers. "Taking desert plants from the wild is illegal, but their sculptural appearance and drought tolerance make them highly desirable. Many grow extremely slowly, so a good sized specimen can be a prized and expensive." Before you leave, be sure to stop by their kids' games page for printable coloring pages and interactive tile sliders.

Mother's Day Poems
In celebration of mothers, I have gathered up the following poetry collections. Some include original works, others feature works from famous dead poets. Most allow the use of their poems on handmade Mother's Day cards, but be sure to check the terms of each site for more specific usage terms.
Day For Mothers: Mother's Day Poems
The poems at Day for Mothers are organized into genres such as funny, religious, short, by moms, for kids and gratitude poems. Most of the poems have bylines, but the site does not specifically address usage rights or copyrights. Here's a snippet I liked from an unknown author. "All through the year / I'll try to do / The things that show / My love for you. / And not be happy just to say, / 'I love you, Mother,' on Mother's Day."
Mother's Day Central: 101 Poems for Moms
Mother's Day Central is my pick of the week because of their great poem categories (such as Sons to Moms, Daughters to Mom, For Wives, For Step-Moms, and so on) and for their tips on writing your own poem for mom. "Most importantly, have fun! It doesn't matter whether you're a master poet or excellent speller - your love is sure to show through if you just do your best and enjoy the process. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be 'made especially for my beloved Mom.'"
Mother's Day Poems for Free
"A mother's love determines how / We love ourselves and others. / There is no sky we'll ever see / Not lit by that first love." Poet and retired college professor Nicholas Gordon shares his Mother's Day poems. Because he allows free personal and non-commercial use of his poems, his site is a great resource for students, teachers and anyone making a homemade Mother's Day card. Gordon is quite prolific, and his is one of today's largest poem collections.
Poem Source: Mother Poems
"How did you find the energy, Mom / To do all the things you did, / To be teacher, nurse and counselor / To me, when I was a kid." I was already a fan of poet Joanna Fuchs, so I was happy to see her name again when searching for Mother's Day poems. She and her husband write all the poems at Poem Source, and no commercial usage is allowed. Although in some cases she does allow a single poem to be published on a personal website, please read their usage guidelines carefully, because I can cover them adequately in this limited space. Poems About Mothers
For high-school students and adults, takes a more scholarly approach to poems about mothers, with a look at half a dozen poems from well-known poets, and a suggested reading list that includes works by Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath, Rudyard Kipling, Allen Ginsberg, and others. Here's a short one by Robert Louis Stevenson, titled "To My Mother." "You too, my mother, read my rhymes / For love of unforgotten times, / And you may chance to hear once more / The little feet along the floor."
Vegetable Gardening
Author Orsen Scott Card once said "Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden." And while I hope that is not your reason for planting a vegetable garden this spring, this topic seemed appropriate for both Gardening Month and the current economic malaise.
Aggie Horticulture Texas A&M: Vegetable Gardening In Containers
Container gardens are perfect for small spots such as patios, window sills, balconies or doorsteps. They also sidestep problems related to poor soil conditions and soil-borne diseases. "Vegetables which are ideally suited for growing in containers include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green onions, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes and parsley." This single-page site from Texas A&M covers the how-to gamut including synthetic soils, containers, seeding, transplanting, watering, light and controlling diseases and insects.
Kiddie Gardens: Growing Vegetables
"Vegetables are actually some of the easiest plants to grow, especially from seed. To encourage your child's enthusiasm, let them choose from the easy vegetables to grow list and you will both be delighted with the results." Kiddie Gardens is chock full of advice on what to plant, how to plant and why to plant. The long list of benefits of growing your own vegetables includes value for your money, being assured of freshness, eating organic, and teaching your children a valuable life skill.
Kids' Valley Garden: Veggies
"Vegetables are one of the most rewarding things to grow in a garden because you get to enjoy the end result of your hard work by eating it!" Kids' Valley Garden provides kid-friendly instructions for growing seven common vegetables: beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, peanuts, potatoes, and tomatoes. "Read the directions for each vegetable carefully to get the maximum yield from each plant and watch over them for signs of disease or bugs."
No Dig Vegetable Garden: Gardening for Kids
A no dig garden is one that is planted in a raised bed created with layers of organic material such as compost, fertilizer, straw, hay and newspaper. "Building a no dig garden is a particularly good gardening for kids project because the garden can be built and planted in just a couple of hours." And for something edible in just a few days, try starting with bean shoots, alfalfa, cress or snow pea seeds. "Put the seeds into a clean, wide mouth jar and place a mesh material over the mouth. It must be a material that water and air can pass through, but not the seeds."

University of Illinois Extension: Vegetable Gardening Basics
"All gardens have problems. One year it may be insects and disease and the next year it may be a drought. Gardening does require work, but by learning a few basic skills and techniques, you can make your vegetable gardening experience a pleasant one." And this University of Illinois Extension site is a terrific spot to learn those basics. It covers topics such as location, basic tools, soil prep, and planning tips. It also includes an illustrated Vegetable Directory and a glossary of gardening terms from "acidity" to "zucchini."

How to Write an Essay
Essay writing is an essential skill that you will need all your life, not only in school. This week's picks are directed students from grade 6th through college, and not only look at essay reports, but also address answering essay questions on tests.

American University in Cairo: Ten Steps to Writing an Essay
Freelance tech writer and college teacher Tom Johnson offers a thorough tutorial on how to write an essay, broken down into ten steps from research to editing the final draft. And although there are no guarantees in life or in writing, I agree with Johnson's conclusion: "If you carefully follow the ten steps for writing an essay as outlined on this site -- honestly and carefully follow them -- you'll learn how to write an essay that is more organized, insightful, and appealing. And you'll probably get an A"

Basic Guide to Essay Writing
"Don't let the thought of putting pen to paper daunt you. Get started!" Homeschooling mom Kathy Livingston includes sample essays in her eight-step approach to essay writing for middle-school students. She advocates a diagram (or mind map) to organize ideas that becomes the basic structure for your essay and will lead you into the creation of your thesis statement. "The thesis statement tells the reader what the essay will be about, and what point you, the author, will be making."

The Five Paragraph Essay
The five paragraph essay is a commonly taught and tested structure. And although the author of this Geocities site doesn't identify themselves, The Five Paragraph Essay is a good overview of this defined format. I particularly like the color-coded outline defining the role of each of the paragraphs. "The introductory paragraph is the place in which the writer introduces the reader to the topic. It is important to make this a clear and limited statement."
Online Writing Lab: Writing Essay Exams
Brought to you by Purdue University Online Writing Lab, this lesson starts with a question. "What is a well-written answer to an essay question?" A well-written exam essay is well focused, well organized, well supported and well packaged. It then continues with dozens of essay writing tips such as how to use common writing devices including providing details, examples, comparisons, classification, or examination of cause or effect. It even lists useful transition words such as: yet, similarly, though, despite, however, conversely, next, subsequently, and so on.

Writing Den: Essays
Designed for students in grades six through twelve, this section of the Writing Den introduces parts of an essay, how to write an essay, and eight kinds of essays: definition, classification, description, compare/contrast, sequence, choice, explanation, and evaluation. "In a compare and contrast essay, you write about the similarities and differences between two or more people, places, or things. You can organize the essay by writing about one subject first and then comparing it with the second subject. A more effective way is to organize the essay by comparing each subject by category."

Boston Massacre
Five years before the American Revolution, on March 5, 1770, a group of Boston citizens were fired upon by British soldiers in what became known as the Boston Massacre. The skirmish began with insults and snowballs hurled at the soldiers by a restless crowd, and ended with five colonists dead. It is known as the first of many events that fueled America's growing discomfort with the King's army.

America's Story: Boston Massacre
Shown alongside a timeline of early American history, this three-page illustrated overview of the Boston Massacre is part of the Library of Congress' educational America's Story site. It introduces the conflict to elementary and middle school students, and places it in historical context. " What started as a minor fight became a turning point in the beginnings of the American Revolution. The Boston Massacre helped spark the colonists' desire for American independence, while the dead rioters became martyrs for liberty. Can you think of other major events in history that began with a small incident?"

Archiving Early America: Boston Massacre
Archiving Early America explores Paul Revere's iconic color engraving of the Boston Massacre, revealing its omissions, exaggerations, and political impact. "Paul Revere wasted no time in capitalizing on the Massacre to highlight British tyranny and stir up anti-British sentiment among his fellow colonists. As you will see, Revere's historic engraving is long on political propaganda and short on accuracy or aesthetics."

Boston Massacre Historical Society
Calling itself a "digital gateway to the famous event", this official site of the Boston Massacre Historical Society is my pick of the day because of its breadth. It includes facts, numbers, a look at Paul Revere's engraving, a timeline, the British view, a variety of essays, and a collection of little known facts. "It all started from a wig! The Massacre started when young wigmaker's apprentice named Edward Gerrish called out to a British officer on duty, Captain Lieutenant John Goldfinch, that he had not paid his master's bill."

History Wiz: Boston Massacre
Because of its reproduction of primary sources, this History Wiz site is a great resource for writing a high school or college research paper. The primary resources include eyewitness accounts from an anonymous American observer and the British Captain Thomas Preston. The site also includes a short discussion of the ensuing trial, where John Adams defended the British soldiers, and all but two were acquitted on grounds of self defense. The two convicted of manslaughter were given the opportunity to "make penance instead of being executed," but where branded on the thumbs so they would never be able to use "the benefit of clergy" again

Mr. Nussbaum: Boston Massacre
For elementary students in grade three or higher, Mr. Nussbaum explains the Boston Massacre, and includes a reading comprehension exercise. "The situation in Boston grew more tense by the day. Local skirmishes between townspeople and British soldiers (redcoats) increased in frequency as did belligerence toward British soldiers. Rumors abounded throughout the city about possible attacks by soldiers or by the Sons of Liberty."

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Students And Teachers Against Racism announces their new website that offers insight into the Native American perspective to teachers and educators.

Changing Winds Advocacy Center
Through presentations, classroom sessions, curriculum, fund raising, charitable works, and multi-media efforts, we seek to raise public awareness of the stereotyping, discrimination, racism and other unique situations facing Native Americans.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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