Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, October 27, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 5



Mountain Views News Saturday, October 27, 2012


By Christoper Nyerges

[Nyerges is the author of “Self-Sufficient Home,” “How to Survive Anywhere,” and 
other books. He can be reached at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or www.]

“What’s Going On?” 

News and Views from Joan Schmidt



 This past Sunday was an amazing day. 
In Rome, Paul Benedict XVI canonized 
seven saints. Two had special ties to upstate 
New York, but were separated by two 
centuries! Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lilly of 
the Mohawks was born Auriesville, New 
York in 1656. 

Her father was Mohawk, her mother, Algonquin Christian. 
However both parents and younger brother died of smallpox 
when Kateri was only two years old. She was raised by relatives, 
but they were furious when she expressed a desire to be 
baptized. At age twenty, she was baptized with the name “Kateri. 
(Katherine) Life was hard for her, but two kind Christian 
Indians helped her escape to a Christian community in Canada, 
where she received her First Communion. She carried water, 
cooked, sewed, and attended daily Mass. On a trip to Montreal 
to sell Native American handicrafts, she met a religious order of 
nuns and professed her vows on the Feast of the Annunciation, 
devoting her life entirely to God. Her private penances and hard 
work left her ill. She died at the young age of 24. Her canonization 
is so special because she is the first Native American to be 
canonized. (In Washington state, Jake Finkbonner, a 12 year old 
Native American was cured of the flesh-eating bacteria and that 
miracle led to Kateri’s canonization.

The second American to be 
canonized is Mother Marianne 
Cope. She was born in Germany, 
but grew up in Utica New York. She 
was a “shining example of the best 
tradition of Catholic nursing sisters 
and her beloved St. Francis.” Mother 
Marianne answered the call to go to 
Molokai, Hawaii and treat the Lepers, 
when few people would. She worked 
with Father Damian De Veuster, 
who was canonized in 2009. Mother 
Marianne’s miracle was when Sharon 
Smith of Syracuse New York was 
cured from pancreatitis. 

 Cardinal Dolan of the New 
York Archdiocese was thrilled about 
these two new saints. “We share them. 
The Canadians love Kateri and the 
Hawaiians, Mother Marianne.”

 The other Saints include 
Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino martyr 
killed in 1672 when he was helping 
Spanish Jesuits convert natives; 
Jacques Berthieu, a 19th century 
Jesuit killed in Madagascar; Carmen 
Salles y Barangueras, a Spanish nun; 
Giovanni Battista Piamarta, who founded a religious order in 1900 and established a Catholic printing 
and publishing house in Brescia, Italy; and Anna Schaeffer, a 19th Century German lay worker who 
became a model for the sick and suffering after she fell into a boiler and badly burned her legs, which 
never healed, causing constant pain.

 Here in Los Angeles County, I know of two celebrations. At the Cathedral, Bishop Alexander 
Salazar celebrated a special Mass honoring both American Saints. In Santa Clarita, at her parish, 
retired Cardinal Roger Mahoney celebrated a special Mass at 12:30. He was joined by Bishop Gerald 
Wilkerson, San Fernando Pastoral Region, Monsignor Slattery and several priests and deacons. My 
daughter and I drove up, and the sign had been changed to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Church. The 
Parish began in 1998, and it was the Cardinal who had suggested Blessed Kateri as its Patron. The 
Mass was beautiful and during the homily, the Cardinal not only discussed the readings, but retold 
Kateri’s story. There were Native American music and special offerings while the gifts were brought 
up. The Church was overflowing and outside people could hear the services and see inside. It’s really a 
beautiful structure-the sides are all glass, and light comes in. There is a sidewalk around the building 
and beautiful flowers and shrubs.

 After Mass, there was fellowship in the Hall and we were made welcome. Besides the retired 
and active priests, many deacons and parishioners, visitors from St. Clare’s Parish in Canyon County 
attended. What an awesome experience!

Our romanticized picture of 
paleolithic man shows him 
all muscled-out, Arnold-like, 
30-something, wearing a loincloth 
and hunting big game 
with spears and atlatls. Whether 
that’s really the way things 
were is a topic for another day 
– the fact remains that the atlatl 
is an ancient weapon which is 
making a comeback. 

 The atlatl is a technological 
improvement over the hand-
held spear. The atlatl (usually 
pronounced “at-lattle”) is a stick 
held in hand which is used to 
hurl a spear. (A spear might 
have the same diameter as an 
archery arrow, but it will be 
typically at least twice as long). 
The atlatl acts as an extension 
of the arm, and it is believed 
that the atlatl-thrown spear can 
generate 300% more force than 
throwing freehand. 

 The atlatl preceded the bow by 
thousands of years. Altadena 
resident, and atlatl enthusiast 
Roland Trevino, stated that the 
atlatl has been used on every 
continent except Antartica, and 
the data is lacking on Africa.

 Trevino, 39, was raised in Pasadena 
where he currently works 
as an attorney. He had been 
involved in archery since boyhood, 
and would practice his 
sport at the archery range in 
the lower Arroyo Seco. About 
five years ago he met Tom Mills, 
who conducts regular bow-
making sessions at the archery 
range (see 
Mills introduced Trevino to the 
atlatl, and they spent the day 
hurling spears at the archery 

 “I really got interested in the 
history of the atlatl after that, 
and began researching them. 
I immediately starting working 
on a traditional design 
from Mexico, which is used 
even to this day on Lake 
Patzcuaro in state of Michoacan, 
Mexico. I made my 
first atlatl exactly to specifications,” 
he says, showing 
the beautiful piece of art. 

 However, Trevino pointed 
out that the design was not 
the most efficient for him – 
the finger grips were a bit 
too thick, for example -- so 
it is now a wall-hanger. Still, 
Trevino points out, this atlatl 
design is still used today in 
Mexico, where the spears are 
thrown from canoes to hunt 
waterfowl, and instead of an arrowhead, 
there are three iron-
pronged barbs.

 “More recently, Tom Mills 
gave my wife Marikan and our 
children small atlatls, which 
seemed lightweight, but they 
worked very well. They are of 
Basketmaker design, named after 
a civilization of the American 
Southwest that made this 
style of atlatl,” explains Trevino.

 Trevino told me about the 
petroglyphs he saw in Valley 
of Fire National Park, Nevada, 
which showed people using atlatls. 
And then there were the 
famous confrontations with the 
Aztecs and Spanish. The Aztecs 
actually won many of the initial 
battles by using their atlatl 
spears which could be he hurled 
with lethal impact far further 
than the range of the Spanish 
blackpowder muskets.

 Trevino practices with his bows 
and atlatls about once a week. 
With the atlatl, he practices with 
a target at 15 and 20 yards, since 
those are the distances used in 
the atlatl competitions.

 Besides his artistic Tarascan 
atlatl, Trevino is in the process 
of making others of various 

 He also experiments with the 
spears, which are generally at 
least twice the length of an archery 
arrow, but which can be 
up to approximately seven feet 

 “Some arctic peoples used short 
darts thrown from kayaks,” explains 
Trevino. “But the spear 
must bend to work right, since 
it harnesses, stores, and releases 
energy when bends. The longer 
they are the better, but I am experimenting,” 
he says.

 He has used bamboo for his 
spears, and also the invasive 
Arundo donax reed, common 
all over California. “Either will 
work,” he says, and Trevino has 
also used willow and mulefat 
shoots. The key is to get them 
as straight as possible and to use 
hardwood foreshafts.

 “I think the Arundo donax 
makes an excellent spear. It’s a 
very invasive plant and no one 
minds if you cut them. I find the 
very thin ones, cut them when 
green and tie them up, and let 
them dry for a few months until 
they turn brown and get hard,” 
says Trevino.

 For more research, Trevino 
suggests looking on-line at the 
many resources, including Atlatl 
Bob, and PaleoPlanet.



Peter Willis and his team of researchers 
at JPL had a problem. Actually, more 
like they had a solution that needed a 
problem. Confused? Let’s let Peter give 
it a shot…

“My team and I came up with a new 
lab on a chip,” said Willis, a scientist at 
JPL’s Microdevices Lab. “It essentially 
miniaturizes an automated sample 
processing and analysis instrument that 
could be put aboard future spacecraft 
and sent to distant planets, moons and 
asteroids. One challenge we have is 
finding new and interesting samples to 
try our chip on.”

On the evening of Aug. 21, 2012, a large 
fireball that turned night into day was 
reported over a mountain range halfway 
between Reno and Salt Lake City. By 
convention, the meteorite was named 
after the nearest town or prominent 
geographic feature.

“We first heard about the Battle 
Mountain meteorite on the morning of 
Wednesday, Sept. 5,” said Willis. “We 
were on the road to Nevada the next 

The challenge with meteorites is that that 
the longer these bit of space debris reside on Earth, the more they are 
exposed to the corrosive effects of Earthly elements. JPL’s miniature 
lab on a chip was tasked with looking for chemical markers and 
amino acids that originated in space, not manufactured naturally 
here on Earth. To give their new instrument a true test run, Willis’ 
team needed a factory-fresh piece of the heavens.

After a night at a local motel, Willis, along with fellow JPLers 
Amanda Stockton, Josh Schoolcraft, Fernanda Mora and Morgan 
Cable, packed hiking gear and a whole bunch of water into their 
SUV and struck out for Battle Mountain, Nevada. 

Working with weather radar data as well as testimonials from those 
who witnessed the fireball, the team generated an impact zone to 
concentrate their search. 

“The first day, we covered 6 miles of mountainous terrain on foot 
but didn’t find anything but terrestrial rocks and the occasional 
whiptail lizard,” said Willis. “The next day was going to be our last 
shot, so we planned to drive much deeper into the estimated impact 
zone. The problem was, the most negotiable route ended up taking 
us through an active mine claim. We quickly found out that miners 
are not much interested in rocks from space.”

 “We were fixing a flat when they drove up and told us to turn 
around,” said Willis. “We needed to get the tire repaired anyway, 
so we headed back to town to regroup and look for a different route 
which didn’t cross mining land.”

The new route made full use of their SUV’s 4-wheel drive capability. 
The team negotiated narrow, sloping, unpaved, sand-flooded 
switchbacks before arriving near the center 
of their estimated impact zone. For the 
next three hours, the team fanned out in 
different directions, but found nothing 
extraterrestrial in nature. By 4:30 p.m., it 
was getting to be time to wrap things up. 
JPL’s Josh Schoolcraft had just begun the 
final leg of his search…when he saw it. 
Sitting there on the mountainside, amidst 
a tangle of sun-bleached dirt, pebbles and 
scrub was a jet-black rock.

“I knew right away it was what we were 
looking for,” said Schoolcraft. “It was a 
carbonized, unweathered black mass, 
unlike anything else we had seen in our two 
days of searching. It clearly had not been 
there for very long.”

A 1.4-pound fragment of the Battle 
Mountain meteorite is currently 
undergoing analysis by the team’s lab-on-a-
chip systems at JPL.

You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@

Above, JPL's Battle Mountain meteorite hunters. Pictured from left to right: Peter 
Willis, Amanda Stockton, Josh Schoolcraft, Fernanda Mora, Morgan Cable, J.P. 
Kirby. Right, meteorite from Battle Mountain Images credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech