The threat of a protest by the Westboro Baptist Church at the Alaska Native Heritage Center has galvanized more than 1,000 people on a Facebook page, Indian Country Today Media Network reports.

But the Anchorage Daily News says

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., protest outside funeral services for Sgt. Daniel Sesker in Ogden, Iowa, in 2006 (Photo by Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press).

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., protest outside funeral services for Sgt. Daniel Sesker in Ogden, Iowa, in 2006 (Photo by Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press).

there’s a good chance no one from the church will even show up.

ICTMN, in a story by Vincent Schilling, says Donna Willoya began the Facebook page, called “No Westboro Baptist Protest at our AK Native Heritage Center!” after the church announced a protest there on June 1.

“We are uniting as Alaskans to honor and embrace our cultural diversity, to preserve our heritage and to teach future generations the importance of acceptance & respect for all people” (Willoya wrote on Facebook).

Willoya also posted in the group that though people may get angry at the WBC members for wanting to protest, she wishes the Native community not to respond with violence and sink to their level.

The page had gathered nearly 1,600 members by Wednesday morning.

But Tegan Hanlon at the Anchorage Daily News contacted Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who said the Westboro Church’s announcements of protests are often publicity stunts.

“Typically, they will call the local press, get a scary story about these awful people coming to town and not show up,” Potok said. “And what sometimes happens is you’ll be expecting 50 people and a man and two small children show up.”
(CLOSE INDENT)

ICTMN’s Schilling reported that the Westboro Baptist Church explained its “planned” protest at the heritage center thusly:

“… you make a religion out of the pagan idolatrous practices of past generations. There is nothing appealing or holy about the ‘heritage’ of the eleven ‘distinct cultures’ or ‘diverse population’ of Alaska. They walked in darkness and served idols of every kind, contrary to the direct commandment to have no gods before God.”

The Westboro Baptist Church is well-known for ignoring any concept of “love thy neighbor,” celebrating the funerals of American soldiers and claiming God “hates” homosexuals.

Here at the Buffalo Post we can usually summarize a story fairly well.

Madonna Pappan, one of three mothers in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the Rosebud Sioux and Oglala Sioux tribes by the American Civil Liberties Union, hugs her 4-year-old daughter Charlie during a press conference last year. The suit challenges South Dakota practices and policies the ACLU says violate the Indian Child Welfare Act (Photo by Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal/AP Images).

Madonna Pappan, one of three mothers in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the Rosebud Sioux and Oglala Sioux tribes by the American Civil Liberties Union, hugs her 4-year-old daughter Charlie during a press conference last year. The suit challenges South Dakota practices and policies the ACLU says violate the Indian Child Welfare Act (Photo by Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal/AP Images).

But Suzette Brewer’s excellent series at Indian Country Today Media Network about South Dakota’s wholesale removal of Indian children from their homes without due process requires full reading in and of itself.

You can do so here; this links you to part three, the latest, of the series.

Brewer is detailing a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Rosebud Sioux and Oglala Sioux tribes that challenged the state’s practices and procedures.

Indian parents in South Dakota allege that it had become an accepted practice by the state that they were never allowed to view the complaints or supporting documents filed by the state against them, much less present evidence or show the court whether or not an “emergency” still existed at the time of the hearings, which usually takes place two days after a child has been removed. Additionally, some of the hearings were being held whether or not the parents were even present. Therefore, the “48-hour hearings,” as they are known, became a launch pad for Native children to be swept into foster care for up to three months while their parents and tribes struggled to get them back.

Some of Part 3 of Brewer’s series tells about the plight of Madonna Pappan, who – along with her husband the young daughter, had gone to a friend’s home in Rapid City to visit and have some drinks in October of 2011.

At some point, Marlon Pappan took their daughter out to the car and both went to sleep, with the car running to keep them warm. Madonna checked on them twice, and they were fine, but the third time she went out they were gone.

Marlon had evidently decided to drive home, and had been arrested for DUI on the way.

Not only was her daughter taken from her that night, Madonna says, but the state later took an 11-year-old son into custody who had been at home with a babysitter on the night in question, and placed him into foster care.

South Dakota also refused Madonna’s request that her children be placed with her parents – a right specifically provided for by the Indian Child Welfare Act – even though her parents were already certified as foster parents and had taken in numerous children on an emergency basis.

The Pappans have never denied Marlon did what he did – he pleaded guilty to DUI – but the state alleged Madonna was also in the car when he was arrested, which was not true – the arresting officer had only spoken to her on the phone.

There’s much more to Brewer’s story, and more to come in the series. It’s well worth following at ICTMN.

- Vince Devlin

With no clues to go on, save for one dead trumpeter swan, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal game wardens faced an uphill road this winter in finding the person who shot it.

The reintroduction of trumpeter swans to the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana began in 1996. The swans were once hunted to near extinction in the United States (Photo by Michael Gallacher/Missoulian).

The reintroduction of trumpeter swans to the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana began in 1996. The swans were once hunted to near extinction in the United States (Photo by Michael Gallacher/Missoulian).

That changed after the tribes put out a press release seeking information, the Missoulian reports.

On Tuesday, two Polson (Mont.) men were fined, and had their hunting, fishing and recreating privileges on tribal lands suspended, in connection with the shooting.

A tip from a person who had knowledge of, and later read a newspaper story about, the trumpeter swan’s death led authorities to the pair, according to Germaine White, information and education specialist with the tribes’ Natural Resources Department.

Leroy Charles, who admitted to firing the shot that killed the swan in January, was fined $3,000 by CSKT Chief Judge Winona Tanner, including $1,500 for restitution for the 3-year-old trumpeter swan.

Charles also lost his bird-hunting, fishing and recreating privileges on tribal lands for five years, and was ordered to seek instruction from either the Salish Pend d’Oreille, or Kootenai, culture committee.

“Judge Tanner, on behalf of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, imposed the maximum penalty under the law because this was such a senseless act,” said CSKT attorney Larry Ginnings, who prosecuted the case.

White said the swan’s loss will be felt for years.

“What’s so tragic is this swan was pair-bonded,” White said, “so you’re not just losing one swan. All the reproductive cycles of that swan are also lost.”

- Vince Devlin

The newly crowned NCAA women’s basketball champion, Connecticut, began its title run last month at a tribally owned and operated arena.

The Connecticut Huskies celebrated their American Athletic Conference championship last month at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Photo courtesy of American Athletic Conference).

The Connecticut Huskies celebrated their American Athletic Conference championship last month at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Photo courtesy of American Athletic Conference).

As Indian Country Today Media Network reports, the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., part of a large casino, was host to the first-ever American Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament, won by UConn.

The 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun is the home court of the Mohegan-owned Connecticut Sun of the Women’s National Basketball Association. In 2013 it played host to the WNBA All Star game.

At the time the deal was announced last year, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority chief executive Mitchell Etess credited the casino’s collaboration with the Sun for the Mohegan Sun Arena scoring the opportunity to host the Big East women’s basketball tournament (which later became the American Athletic Conference, or AAC tournament). “This is what bringing the Connecticut Sun here has done for us, it has made us a true entertainment company, not just a gaming or hotel company,” Etess said.

Making the AAC tournament even more noteworthy for Native Americans, UConn – which went undefeated this season at 40-0 – had to get by a team featuring probably the best known Native American players in the college game this season.

As Mark Fogarty reported at ICTMN, Shoni and Jude Schimmel, who play for the University of Louisville, are sisters from the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon.

Louisville also advanced to the tournament championship game, but despite 20 points from Shoni Schimmel, the Cardinals fell 72-52 to UConn. The Huskies beat Notre Dame for the national championship Tuesday night.

- Vince Devlin

Since 2010, Albuquerque police have been involved in 37 shootings that have resulted in 23 deaths.

After a 10-hour protest over recent police shootings of Albuquerque men, riot police launch tear gas toward activists (Russell Contreras/Associated Press).

After a 10-hour protest over recent police shootings of Albuquerque men, riot police launch tear gas toward activists (Russell Contreras/Associated Press).

When Nos. 22 and 23 occurred on the same day last month, Indian Country Today Media Network reports, hundreds of people took to the streets to protest, and the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the 1,100-officer department.

Two of the 23 have been Native Americans, according to the ICTMN story by Alysa Landry.

“It’s become a public safety crisis,” said Bineshi Albert, of the Native American Voters Alliance in Albuquerque. “There’s outrage, surely, and good reason for people to be outraged.”

Even two Native fatalities is too high, said Albert, who is Chippewa and Yuchi. According to 2010 Census data, about 25,000 Natives live in Albuquerque, or less than 5 percent of the city’s total population.

“Two of 23 is significant,” Albert said. “It’s more than what it should be, given the population.”

Alfred Redwine, a Native, was shot after he allegedly opened fire on officers at a public housing complex March 16. The same day, police shot and killed a homeless man with a history of mental illness, James Boyd, following a standoff.

In 2010 another Native American, Len Fuentes, was killed after threatening officers with a knife.

“The community should not be afraid of law enforcement,” Albert said. “It’s a hard and even shameful thing to think that we live in a time when I have to tell my children how they have to behave when approached by a police officer, as opposed to telling my children that if they’re in trouble they can go to the police. It’s a sad situation, but I’m more fearful that the police will harm them.”

- Vince Devlin

1
Apr

10 rules can make your powwow visit go smoothly

   Posted by: admin   in Powwow

While there’s no set list of rules for attending powwows, there are some common sense guidelines that can make everyone’s visit to one a better experience.

Customs vary from tribe to tribe, and even year to year, but there are basic guidelines for powwows (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia/ICTMN).

Customs vary from tribe to tribe, and even year to year, but there are basic guidelines for powwows (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia/ICTMN).

At Indian Country Today Media Network, Alysa Landry reports on 10 things to keep in mind both in and out of the powwow arena – starting with the advice to dress moderately.

It is not appropriate to wear hats, swimsuits, extremely short skirts or shorts or halter tops. Do not wear T-shirts or other items of clothing with profanity or inappropriate slogans.

If you plan to participate in dances that are open to the public, keep in mind that some tribes require women to wear a shawl or cover their shoulders.

Powwow grounds are blessed beforehand, and should be considered sacred places, Landry reports.

It’s like going to a church,” Leonard Anthony, a Navajo gourd dancer and master of ceremonies, told her. “If you’re going to a powwow, you need to honor where the dances came from, the traditions and story behind them.”

There are also many guidelines to be aware of for taking photographs, Landry reported.

- Vince Devlin

How would a German festival to honor a German novelist find foes in Indian Country?

The Karl May Museum in Radebeul, Germany (Photo courtesy of Wikicommons/ICTMN)

The Karl May Museum in Radebeul, Germany (Photo courtesy of Wikicommons/ICTMN)

When it displays Native scalps, Indian Country Today Media Network reports.

The Karl May Festival, held in the Radebeul, Germany, hometown of the Karl May Museum, may draw protests when it is held on May 30 and June 1. Cecil Pavlat of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan, who has called on the museum for repatriation, has said he plans one.

When Mark Worth, a former news reporter and activist for Transparency International, learned that Native scalps were on display there, he called the museum in 2010 and spoke with its public relations director, André Kohler. He was informed that the museum did, indeed, have Native American scalps on display and more in storage.

Worth says that after being given the same line used by French auction houses to “successfully argue for their sale of Hopi and Apache sacred items as that country has no laws to protect Indigenous Peoples, and the items were rightfully in private collectors’ hands,” he was told the museum was a private institution, and was hung up on.

Karl May “spun imaginative tales about American Indians and the U.S. Old West well over 100 years ago” according to the ICTMN story by Red Haircrow.

Attempts by the U.S. Embassy to intervene apparently have not changed minds. Officials say they were told by museum staff that “Many Native Americans have visited over the years, and we haven’t received any complaints.”

- Vince Devlin

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The Tulalip people know the story, handed down through the generations, of a massive landslide at their ancestral village of WHESH-ud, when a large chunk of Camano Island slid into the sea.

Mel Sheldon, chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, turns over a check for $100,000 to Chuck Morrison, regional executive director of the Snohomish County chapter of the American Red Cross, to assist with shelter and food for the families devastated by a landslide in Oso, Wash. (Photo by Brandi N. Montreuil of the Tulalip News/ICTMN)

Mel Sheldon, chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, turns over a check for $100,000 to Chuck Morrison, regional executive director of the Snohomish County chapter of the American Red Cross, to assist with shelter and food for the families devastated by a landslide in Oso, Wash. (Photo by Brandi N. Montreuil of the Tulalip News/ICTMN)

With it went a village. According to the stories, it caused a tidal wave that killed family members on a neighboring island too.

So it was no surprise that the Tulalip Tribes were among those who stepped up as news of the recent landslide in Oso, Wash., continued to worsen, Indian Country Today Media Network reports.

Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon, returning from a March 25 press conference at which emergency management officials updated the public on the rescue and recovery efforts 23 miles away in Oso, did the only thing left to do. He prayed—prayed that survivors would be found, prayed for healing for the families.

Sheldon also handed over a $100,000 donation from the tribes to the local American Red Cross chapter, and another $50,000 to the Cascade Valley Health Foundation to assist in the relief efforts.

The Tulalip Tribes weren’t alone, according to Richard Walker’s story at ICTMN.

The Stillaguamish Tribe donated $100,000, and the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe gave $5,000.

“The main message is, we’re all in this world together,” Sheldon told Walker. “We’ve all shared that same suffering.”

Recalling the story of the long-ago slide on Camano Island, Sheldon, said, “That slide took away a lot of our people. We have never forgotten that.”

- Vince Devlin

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The creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation by team owner Dan Snyder, who insists he won’t change his NFL’s team name that many find offensive and racist, has been met with derision by the staff at Indian Country Today Media Network.

Team owner Dan Snyder has announced the formation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (Associated Press photo/ICTMN).

Team owner Dan Snyder has announced the formation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (Associated Press photo/ICTMN).

ICTMN calls Snyder’s letter announcing the foundation “rife with self-satisfaction and misdirection, repeatedly emphasizing all the wonderful ways the Redskins, through the foundation, might help Indian country, with no mention of the elephant in the room: The widespread objection in Indian country to the team’s name.”

ICTMN wasn’t alone.

“We’re glad that after a decade of owning the Washington team, Mr. Snyder finally says he is interested in Native American heritage, but this doesn’t change the fact that he needs to stand on the right side of history and change his team’s name,” Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said in a statement to ThinkProgress.

Suzan Shown Harjo, who has led the legal charge against the name for decades, called the foundation “a stunt.”

“Supposedly it’s a change of heart,” Harjo said, “but it’s not a change of mind. And it’s not a change of name.”

In his letter, Snyder says, “Our efforts will address the urgent challenges plaguing Indian country based on what Tribal leaders tell us they need most. We may have created this new organization, but the direction of the Foundation is truly theirs.”

Says ICTMN, “Such willingness to let Indians say what is most beneficial for Indians does not, obviously, extend to his football team’s name.”

- Vince Devlin

A Secretarial Election to decide whether tribal members should be able to recall Tribal Council members is once again on the horizon for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

The Missoulian reports that the U.S. Department of Interior Board of Indian Appeals has dismissed a challenge from the CSKT Tribal Council, clearing the way for a vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.

The proposed amendment to allow enrolled members to petition to recall their representatives is being pursued by The People’s Voice, a group on the reservation that organized over a separate issue involving the distribution of $150 million the tribes collected in what is known as the Salazar Settlement.

The People’s Voice, which wants all of the $150 million distributed equally among the membership – just over half of it was, in 2012, with the balance placed in an investment account by the Tribal Council – launched petition drives seeking to put the money issue on a tribal election ballot, and the proposed amendment on a Secretarial Election ballot.

Currently, only the Tribal Council itself can remove one of its members.

Howard Toole, attorney for the group, argued to the Board of Appeals that the Tribal Council was trying to push a political issue into the court system

“The court chose a more narrow ground” to dismiss the challenge, Toole told the Missoulian, but the bottom line is that “the tribes’ effort to shut down a Secretarial Election failed.”

An election board has been appointed according to Cheryl Finley of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Flathead Agency office, and it will soon set a date for the election.

- Vince Devlin