Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tech Returns Arrowheads To Native Americans

There's a happy ending today to a story that began when an unexpected package recently arrived at Tennessee Tech University. Kristin Wells, TTU director of development for the College of Arts and Sciences, was surprised when she received a box of 100 arrowheads, two old pipes, library books and a $25 check along with a letter from Gerry Lynn Gordon of Michigan.

"I would like to return them to a group of Native Americans in the area," Gordon said in the letter to the university "Most were found along Town Creek and (the) adjacent flood plain in the old pig farm."

The arrowheads were donated in the name of Brenda and Gary Waters Research Farm. Gordon says she found or was given the arrowheads by Kermit LaFever, Brenda Waters' father. While attending the Putnam County Fair, Wells ran into local representatives of the Indigenous Intertribal Corp., a non-profit organization based in Cookeville. Telling them the story of Gordon's wish, Wells decided that the IIC group would be a match for the box. After showing the arrowheads to the corporation they confirmed that the arrowheads were not a reproduction, but didn't know what tribes they were from. Linda Veal, president of the 35 -member ICC, says she plans to make shadow boxes for the arrowheads and use them in education efforts so Tennessee school children can learn more about Native American History in the area. Veal and Mary Cox-Pluff came to campus to accept the donation. Veal is of the Onondaga Nation; Cox-Pluff described herself as of the Algonquin, Mohawk, Onondaga and Maliseet descent. The ICC's future includes a cultural center on the Cumberland Plateau.

"Your letter brought tears to my eyes and my heart grew two sizes. I thank you for honoring my wishes," Gordon wrote in a letter, after being told the plans for her donation.