Dr. LaNada War Jack with her daughter Jessica James signing books at the event.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
POCATELLO — Shoshone-Bannock tribal member and published author, Dr. LaNada War Jack gave a presentation at Idaho State University on Thursday, February 13 to speak about Understanding the Struggle for Survival and Preservation of the Environment.
She was introduced as the first Native American student at UC Berkley in 1968. She graduated with honors as an independent major of Native American Law & Politics.
War Jack thanked those in attendance and for coming to celebrate her first book, titled “Native Resistance, An Intergeneration Fight for Survival and Life.”
She explained her parents were a part of the Boarding School Program, she said it was difficult for those generations taken from their parents and forced to go to the government boarding schools and assimilate. In the next generation the government decided the way they would get rid of the Indian problem was to send them to the major cities and mix them into America’s mainstream society. This was how she came to be a part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Relocation Program in 1965. She was sent to San Francisco, Calif. when she was 18-years-old. She described it as a different kind of life and said all the young people had to join together to get through what they had to go through.
War Jack wanted to further her education and after seeing a lot of activity at the University of California she wanted to be a part of that. She got into Berkley and had a lot of support, especially from the third world groups. She soon began to recruit more Native people and finally had enough to get more Native students on campus, which she became the chair of.
The reason for writing her book was a result of a summary of all her findings in asking questions like: Why do we have only one percent Native American people in this country? Why do I live on a reservation? Why am I being sent out on a government relocation program?
“I wanted to know all those questions and so it was just a journey for me to find all of these questions that I had,” she said.
Dr. LaNada War Jack speaks at the ISU presentation.
War Jack eventually helped to establish their own Native American Studies Department at UC Berkley. Soon the issue at Alcatraz came up where a casino developer wanted to develop the island. They heard about a Native American claim where under their treaty they wanted the land taken back to Native people because it was stated under Federal Indian law that any federal surplus property would go back to the Indian people. The Sioux tribe took up the issue and claimed Alcatraz under their treaty, five years prior to the takeover. The takeover was meant to protest the government breaking over 500 treaties.
War Jack went on to talk about the matriarchal system in the tribes, which is the balance of both male and female. They also adapted to all the plant and animal life within the geographic system. The matriarchy allowed the women to be the property owners. All they did to follow this system was to watch the plant and animals. She explained a lot of the dances come from the animals, which were adopted as a way of life.
Her great-great grandfather had said traditional Shoshone people had learned from generation to generation beginning at conception the ways that teach life lessons. A mother must change her lifestyle through her love and compassion to accommodate the needs of her child. Every emotion, thought and food that is ingested while pregnant is experienced by the child. Once the child is old enough they will through trial and error, good mentors who will teach them the ways of nature. After you understand who you are and how to discipline yourself you become either your best friend or your worst enemy. You must balance yourself with everything in the universe there are teachings and ceremonies that make this possible, listening to traditions and following prayer ways will help you keep your positive mind. Your mind will lead you down the path of goodness. We are all here, we are all together in this life and we can help support each other through encouragement.
War Jack said his words gives you an idea of what the thinking was about, an ideology based upon nature and the way that they lived.
“This is why we respected everything in life, because it all worked together and that’s how we survived. If we didn't take care of nature we didn’t have any food. So, it was real important to maintain our ideology,” she said.
Adding they were always told to take of the earth because when the plants and animals go humans are next. She talked about water and its importance as a medicine and how it must be prayed for.
These are just some of the topics discussed in the book, which can be purchased at drwarjack.com/shop
After the presentation Dr. War Jack stayed to visit and sign books sold.