Native Americans | St. Louis Public Radio

Native Americans

Crews lift the Christopher Columbus statue from its pedestal in Tower Grove Park on June 16, 2020.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:50 p.m., June 16

A crew removed the statue of Christopher Columbus from Tower Grove Park in St. Louis with little fanfare early Tuesday morning.

The statue, which has stood at the east entrance to the park near South Grand Boulevard for more than a century, has become the subject of scrutiny in recent years. Petitioners have called for its removal, citing the explorer’s treatment of Native Americans. 

The dining room at Bulrush, which opened last month in St. Louis' Grand Center neighborhood.
Meera Nagarajan | Sauce Magazine

Chef Rob Connoley’s acclaimed St. Louis restaurant Bulrush isn’t just a delicious night out. It’s also a deep dive into the culinary history of the region. The Grand Center eatery takes its inspiration from cuisine in the Ozarks region prior to 1870, before railroads allowed for easy transport of foodstuffs. He attempts to hew rigorously to ingredients that were in play.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Connoley joined us to discuss the often arduous task of researching what everyday people ate more than 150 years ago. He credited Gabriel Shoemaker, a St. Louis University senior who has been combing archives for recipes and even just mentions of food. 

Suzanne Michelle White is a member of the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma and a descendant of Cherokee, Delaware, and Lumbee nations/tribes.

Today is Columbus Day, and it also marks a holiday that more and more cities and organizations are formally recognizing: Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native nations to the United Nations, and it’s meant to honor Native Americans with a recognition of their histories and cultures.

Members of the Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe demonstrate stomp dance at Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville on Sept. 21. The tribe traces its ancestry to the ancient Mississippians who built the mounds 1,000 years ago.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

COLLINSVILLE – As Angelia Griffin delved into her family’s Native American ancestry in recent years, she developed a deeper respect for the cultural importance of Cahokia Mounds.

“I used to come here as a child when I was in school, on a field trip,’’ said the Belleville resident, who visited the state historic site on a recent Saturday. “I’m looking at it in a different light.’’

The Christopher Columbus statue has been a source of controversy over the last few years due to Columbus's violent history.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

The Christopher Columbus statue, which has generated controversy because of the explorer’s treatment of Native Americans, will not be removed from Tower Grove Park. 

The St. Louis park instead will add signs and markers near the statue explaining the historical context of Columbus, colonization, as well as the history of the park, according to a Facebook post Wednesday

Archaeologists with the Missouri Department of Transportation work near the Poplar Street Bridge in downtown St. Louis in April.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Archaeologists from the Missouri Department of Transportation believe they have found artifacts and evidence of permanent residences in St. Louis prior to 1764, when the city became a permanent trading post along the Mississippi River.

The discoveries and inferences that archaeologists can derive from them add nuance to the complex story of how St. Louis became an important commerce center in the 18th century – more than a decade prior to United States’ independence and nearly 40 years before the country acquired St. Louis through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

An attendee spent time along the Mississippi River following a water prayer ceremony on Sunday morning.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Every Sunday morning, Saundi Kloeckener makes her way to the Lincoln Shields Recreation area, just north of where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers meet. Kloeckener, who is of Cherokee and African descent, joins a small group of Native American women to offer prayers for water.

For years, the group has met once a week to perform a traditional Ojibwe water prayer ceremony. Together, they stand at the water's edge to thank it, express gratitude and pray for its protection.

This week, in a show of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others across the country speaking out against the Dakota Access Pipeline, Kloeckener opened up the sacred ceremony to the public.

Re-enactors walk quietly through the woods at Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles County.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As a production crew carried lights, cameras and generators into a thicket of pine trees at Busch Memorial Conservation Area on a recent morning, Jeremy Turner stood on the bed of his pickup and surveyed the small group of friends and acquaintances he'd recruited to join him on set.

Cherokee Jeremy Thigpen dances a warrior dance.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Because this region was the home of ancient burial mounds built by the Mississippian people almost a thousand years ago, Basmin asked Curious Louis what efforts are being made to help American Indians today reconnect with their heritage.

"STL: recognized as a gathering place & Sacred ground to US First Nations. What efforts are being made to reconnect People here today?"

Steve Patterson

Kyle Reynolds drives by St. Louis’ last surviving mound, Sugar Loaf Mound, located at 4420 Ohio in south St. Louis, all the time yet he didn’t know about its existence until he read about it online. Still baffled by its significance, he turneed to St.

Originally the Independent Brewing Company, this building was built in 1910. It falls within the planned stadium development, as do what may remain underground of the real St. Louis mounds and the Native American community that built them.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Plans for a new St. Louis football stadium seem to be moving ahead. Just last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called the stretch of riverfront near the Edward Jones Dome a “perfect” location for the new sports venue.

But it is also the site of an ancient Native American city — and that is raising concerns.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 30, 2012 - Storyteller Dovie Thomason knows that many in her audiences have not heard about government boarding schools when she presents her tales about the attempt to re-educate and assimilate Native American children into U.S. society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Thomason, 63, who is of Lakota and Kiowa Apache descent, said she herself knew nothing of the schools until she began studying Native American history during college because her own family members never spoke of their experiences.

Community cinema: Native language gets new life

Oct 31, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 31, 2011 - For those of you who get turned on by archeology, history, linguistics and the human connection to the past, "We Still Live Here: As Nutayunean" should be on your radar for this Thursday night at the History Museum. A film explains how a language, not spoken for more than 100 years and with no native speakers, has been revived in this country.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 22, 2010 - Required to do a dance that represents a culture, Russian ice skaters Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin chose Australian Aborigines. Problem? They got it wrong and failed to respond to feedback. After its unveiling in December, several sources said that the skaters missed the mark . However, they maintained elements of the choreography only changing small aspects of their costumes for the Olympic competition.