Old Ways News

Western Shoshone leader dies at 87
Associated Press 10:23 a.m. July 11, 2007

RENO, Nev. – Corbin Harney, a spiritual leader of the Western Shoshone who challenged the federal government – and once his own tribe – to oppose nuclear weapons on aboriginal land has died at the age of 87. Harney, a fixture at anti-nuclear rallies, died Tuesday of complications from cancer near Santa Rosa, Calif., where he had hoped to finish a book, according to his family.

“We have truly lost a lot,” said his nephew, Santiago Lozada, who was with him when he died. “

Corbin was a World War II veteran and was known around the world for his activism against radioactivity and nuclear weapons,” said Robert Hager, Reno-based lawyer for the Western Shoshone tribe. “He’s irreplaceable to the Western Shoshone nation.”

“He was someone who just had this gentle spirit but a steely resolve that people should do the right thing,” Hager said. “He thought people would eventually come around and realize the harm people were doing to Mother Earth.”

Hager recalled that Harney bucked his own tribe when the federal government in the 1950s unearthed remains of Western Shoshone ancestors during digging for nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas.

“He picked up the remains and gave them a decent burial,” Hager said. “He took a lot of flack from Western Shoshone leaders who said he should have nothing to do with the U.S. government. But I always respected Corbin for doing what, to the Western Shoshone, was not politically correct but in his mind was the right thing to do.”
Ian Zabarte, secretary of state for the Western Shoshone National Council, said Harney “was always steadfast in trying to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and guard the people against the threats and hazards that nuclear technology poses.”

Harney traveled around the world as a speaker and environmentalist. He received national and international awards and spoke before the United Nations in Geneva.

Public Statement by Corbin’s Immediate Family

July 10, 2007 (TurtleIsland). Corbin Harney Spiritual Leader of the Western Shoshone Nation crossed over at 11:00 a.m. this morning in a house on a sacred mountain near Santa Rosa, CA (Turtle Island). He had dedicated his life to fighting the nuclear testing and dumping.

That battle claimed his life through cancer.

Before he passed, he said to remember:

“We are one people. We cannot separate ourselves now.

There are many good things to be done for our people and for the world.

It is important to let things be good. And it is important to teach the younger generation so that things are not lost.”

According to witnesses present, in the morning fog, the spirits of four Shoshoni dog soldiers were outside on horseback before Corbin’s passing. But then one of the Shoshone present, Santiago Lozada, yelled “Tosawi Tosawi!” (White Knife). And then the fog shifted and there were thousands of spirits waiting.

Corbin passed peacefully at the end. He was only worried that he still had more to do. When he finally let go and went with the dog soldiers, Red Wolf Pope, grandson of Rolling Thunder, was present and sang him the Tosawi death song to call the dog soldiers to come take him home. Golden eagles continue to circle the house hours after his crossing.”

True to form Corbin joked around several days ago that he was going to go at 11:00, and kept his promise.

Over his lifetime, Corbin traveled around the world as a speaker, healer and spiritual leader with a profound spiritual and environmental message for all. He received numerous national and international awards and spoke before the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Corbin also authored two books: “The Way It Is: One Water, One Air, One Earth” (Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1995) and a forthcoming book, “The Nature Way”. Numerous documentaries have been made about his work and message. In 1994, Corbin established the Shundahai Network to work with people and organizations to respond to spiritual and environmental concerns on nuclear issues. He also established Poo Ha Bah, a native healing center located in Tecopa Springs, California. He will be missed but always honored for his work and dedication to traditional ways.

Corbin Harney is descended from generations of Newe (Shoshone) traditional healers and was always grateful for the many extraordinary teachers who shared their knowledge in his lifetime. Corbin is survived by his daughter Reynaulda Taylor; granddaughters Ann Taylor and Nada Leno; grandsons Keith, Jon and Joel Leno and William Henry Taylor; seven great-grandchildren; two great-great grandchildren; and his sister Rosie Blossom’s family and many cousins and other family members as well as many, many friends around the world. Corbin was preceded in death by his mother, father, sister, grandparents, uncle, great granddaughter, cousins, and friends. A very special thanks to Patricia Davidson, Corbin’s caregiver in his final months; Dominic Daileda, Corbin’s friend and companion for his support and compassion in hard times, and the family of Dixie and Martin van der Kamp for opening up their home and their hearts to Corbin and his family and friends during his time of need.

Dates and times for services are being made with official announcement to follow. Three day services are planned at the home of Larson R. Bill, So Ho Bee – Newe Sogobe (Lee, Nevada –Western Shoshone Territory) with burial services at Battle Mountain Indian Community, Battle Mountain Nevada.

Donations may be made either to the immediate family through:

Reynaulda Taylor
P.O. Box 397
Owyhee, Nevada 89832

775-757-2610 or 775-757-2064


Or, to:

The Corbin Harney Way
6360 Sonoma Mtn. Rd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

No other individual, organization or entity is authorized to receive donations on behalf of Corbin’s immediate family or Corbin Harney.


“As first lady, she was perhaps best known as the determined environmentalist who wanted roadside billboards and junkyards replaced with trees and wildflowers. She raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to beautify Washington. The $320 million Highway Beautification Bill, passed in 1965, was known as ‘The Lady Bird Bill,’ and she made speeches and lobbied Congress to win its passage.

“‘Had it not been for her, I think that the whole subject of the environment might not have been introduced to the public stage in just the way it was and just the time it was. So she figures mightily, I think, in the history of the country if for no other reason than that alone,’ Harry Middleton, retired director of the LBJ Library and Museum, once said.”

from the Human Flower Project:

Poppies and cornflowers in South Carolina

Lady Bird’s Wild Highways

Lady Bird Johnson went up against the outdoor advertising lobby to build a new federal highway program, flower by flower by flower.

The U.S. federal highway system was a legacy of the Eisenhower administration. And the U.S. billboard industry was instantly hip. Instead of muscling up to customers, why not let a captive audience of consumers roll right past your pitch? “Take a Puff, It’s Springtime!”

“In 1958, Congress had passed a highway bill that gave states an extra half percent in funding if they controlled billboards, but the incentive appeared ineffectual in stopping highways from being blanketed” with signs.

Enter Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. After making the drive from Central Texas to D.C. one too many times, Lady Bird pressured her husband to push through a Highway Beautification bill in 1965, “improving landscaping, removing billboards, and screening roadside junkyards.”

You don’t hear the word “beautification” anymore. There aren’t any more idle groups of white ladies in white gloves. But in fact, Mrs. Johnson’s efforts—whatever they were once called—streamed into present-day environmentalism and conservation.

“After President Johnson left office, Mrs. Johnson continued to be a champion of environmental initiatives. In 1982, she founded the National Wildflower Research Center (now the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center), and in 1987, she helped add the native wildflower requirement as an amendment to the Surface Transportation Urban Relocation Authorization Act.”

Now, native wildflower seeds or seedlings must be planted in landscaping all federal highways projects.

Alison Lewis, left, and Rachel Antonoff of the indie label Mooka Kinney.

A design from the book, “KnitKnit.”

The Knitting Circle Shows Its Chic
The New York Times – July 12, 2007

TEVA DURHAM is an unlikely idol, a soberly outfitted, plain-talking mother with a passion for quirky yarns. But to her fans, who snap up her how-to-knit books by the tens of thousands, Ms. Durham is the undisputed mistress of stitchery.

Those admirers, often young and aesthetically inclined, follow her patterns — casting on, increasing, decreasing — with unwavering fidelity. As well they might. Ms. Durham’s artfully crafted stockings and skirts, open-work dresses and cardigans vie in style and intricacy with many of their counterparts on the fashion runways.

Just a few years ago, the assertion that hand-stitched garments could compete with designer wares would have raised derisive hoots from the fashion set, which viewed the needle crafts as the domain of ladies in buns and harlequin glasses. As Ms. Durham acknowledged mildly, “People still think of knitting as, you know, a homey hobby.”

Well, no. Formerly neglected domestic arts like knitting, quilting, sewing and embroidery are being eagerly embraced, especially by the young. Their passion kindled by the abundance of handcrafted looks on the runways, they are blowing the dust off these folksy skills and lending them the bright sheen of style.

“It wasn’t that long ago that people would cringe at the word ‘craft,’ ” said Melanie Falick, who developed a crafts imprint at Stewart, Tabori & Chang. “Ten or 20 years ago, there were far fewer crafters and knitters, certainly fewer who ‘outed’ themselves. Now it has become a badge of honor.”

And an insignia of chic. The new generation of needle hobbyists, nimble-fingered women in their 20s and 30s, is growing ever more sophisticated, seeking out novel yarns imbued with bamboo or fur, working confidently with elaborate patterns, swapping tips online and emulating styles by fashion designers like Marc Jacobs, Nicolas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga and Michael Kors.

If needlework has been transformed from a homely pastime into a legitimate fashion pursuit, is it any wonder that some artisans are marketing their handwork online and at cutting-edge boutiques? And influencing designers in turn.

“I do think the runways were inspired by people doing crafty things at home and by how inventive this generation is,” said Ruth Sullivan, an editor at Workman Publishing, which publishes large numbers of crafts books. She added that designers may also be looking at the Internet, where rafts of people are designing their own patterns and posting them on blogs.

Visiting an exhibition of quilts from Gee’s Bend, Ala., at the Whitney Museum, Marc Jacobs was sufficiently impressed to introduce whimsical patchwork skirts and dresses into his secondary line for spring 2007. Fashion titans like Fendi are offering bags that might have been stitched by your Great-Aunt Fanny, albeit with a tribal twist. Fendi’s coveted Voodoo bag is a bestseller at Bergdorf Goodman, as are open-work cashmere wraps from Loro Piana and hand-embroidered flats from Emma Hope. Even at the luxury level, shoppers are craving a handcrafted look, said Ed Burstell, senior vice president for beauty, accessories and footwear at Bergdorf.

The revival of these arts also owes a debt to a clutch of needle-wielding superstars: Ms. Durham, whose first book, “Loop-d-Loop,” was a best seller on Amazon; Wenlan Chia, a knitwear designer with an avid following; Diana Rupp, a youthful doyenne of home sewing; and Debbie Stoller, the founder of the popular Stitch ’n Bitch knitting circles across the country, who has been credited with jumpstarting the knitting rage with her popular series of Stitch ’n Bitch books. (Some four million people in the United States have taken up knitting since 2003, Ms. Sullivan said.)

The women — and a few men — who are buying these books march into crafts shops, eager to follow their patterns or to improvise. They also arrive with magazine tear sheets in hand, hoping to copy the styles of their favorite designers.

Ms. Rupp, who teaches a popular sewing class at Make Workshop, her studio on the Lower East Side, cheers them on by displaying fashion magazines and Barneys New York catalogs on cutting tables throughout her workshop.

Needlework hobbyists have become more savvy, said Joelle Hoverson, an owner of Purl and Purl Patchwork, neighboring yarn and fabric boutiques in SoHo. “A lot of that is driven by fashion,” she said. Ms. Hoverson has noticed that designers like Mr. Jacobs inspire her customers. “But they’re also looking at clothes from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s,” she said. “And they’re looking at each other. It’s very cool.”

The ardent pursuit of the needle arts has fueled a $1.07 billion industry, according to the National Needlework Association. That figure does not take into account mass merchants and chains. “This is no mom and pop retail phenomenon,” said Sherry Mulne, a marketing consultant for the association. “This is big business.”

Sewing is the latest of the domestic arts to be touted as a hipster passion, the rock ’n’ roll of the crafts world. Inspired by television hits like “Project Runway,” aspiring designers have re-energized the industry. The Home Sewing Association says that there are about 35 million sewing amateurs in the United States, compared with 30 million in 2000. And Singer reports that annual sales of its machines have doubled to three million since 1999.

The mushrooming of the needle crafts, which extends even to arcane pursuits like shoemaking and hat design, is also driven by a growing aversion to cookie-cutter mall fashions, by a desire to connect with like-minded sisters and reinforce a sense of community, and by a wish to handle solid, tactile materials in an increasingly virtual world.

“There is a natural need to do something low tech, to get your hands involved,” said Ms. Falick, the crafts editor. Ms. Stoller, an advocate of pleasure for pleasure’s sake, added: “It’s so nice to have something in your life that’s not just about self-improvement — that is, losing weight or advancing your career.”

Needle arts have also received a boost from hobbyists determined to market their one-offs and few-of-a-kind designs. Rachel Antonoff and Alison Lewis, the designers behind the indie label Mooka Kinney, comb flea markets and estate sales for vintage clothing and fabrics.

“We couldn’t get over the wealth of amazing fabrics we found,” Ms. Antonoff said, “so we just started making these dresses.” Today they sell their brightly patterned pieces at stores like Barneys and Satine in Los Angeles.

Sydney Albertini, a painter and ceramicist, sells her whimsically patterned tunics and wrap skirts from her studio in East Hampton, N.Y. “I think to myself, ‘Maybe one of the little girls whose portrait I’m painting would wear this skirt,’ ” she said of the designs she hopes one day to place in progressive boutiques.

Etsy, a two-year-old online marketplace for craftspeople, has 50,000 sellers, many of whom are independent artisans trying a hand at fashion. The online crafts market, initially built on sales of toys and dolls, has shifted to clothing in the last year or two, said Robert Kalin, Etsy’s founder, growing from 2 or 3 percent six years ago to as much as 30 percent.

Online marketers showcase handiwork that can be surprisingly refined, surpassing the cable-stitch sweaters, wrap skirts and tote bags that are the bread and butter of older crafts primers. The wares include items like fishnet funnel-neck tunics, ruched camisoles, intricate cocoon wraps, cobwebby disco dresses and even tulle-edged corsets.

Designers and mass apparel makers keep an eye on the independent craftspeople, Mr. Kalin said. “This is where fashion comes from. The big companies tend to be a couple of years behind in poaching ideas from these little guys, who will always be on the cutting edge.”

Vashti Valentine has yet to explore the opportunities of Etsy, but Ms. Valentine, who attends Make Workshop, has dreams of her own. She inherited a desire to sew from her mother, who died last fall. “In August she was supposed to make my wedding dress,” she said, “but she was so sick that she couldn’t.”

To honor her mother’s legacy, she is learning to use a machine and hopes eventually to design a line with a friend.

Vivian Pan, her classmate and a graduate student in psychology, plans only to acquire enough tailoring skills to whip up decorative pieces for her home.

“I have expensive tastes and a grad school budget,” she said. “But that’s not going to get in my way.”

“Tim Dundon

– called the ‘King of Compost’ by Organic Gardening Magazine – has cultivated the mammoth compost pile in the backyard of his Altadena home, carefully blending household garbage, animal droppings and mulch into an organic tower of supercharged soil!

“Tim has demonstrated that the management of organic material is not only fun, but also takes those who are involved into a whole new dimension of enlightenment.

“Dedicating his entire life to proving the marvel of mulch, this man has accomplished wonders towards the education of schools, children, their families and the community at large.”

(Corbin courtesy N. Shinewater; knitware courtesy M. Frances)

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2022: I publish a weeklyish email newsletter called LANDLINE = https://jaybabcock.substack.com Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca., where I practiced with Buddhist teacher Ruth Denison and was involved in various pro-ecology and social justice activist activities.

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