Archive for February, 2009

 Since President Obama signed the stimulus bill into law, I’ve been asking Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester one question. How does the funding break down for Montana tribes? Well, they just sent out a joint press release answering that question. Here it is:

Feb. 24, 2009
Baucus, Tester announce millions for Indian Country

Senators set aside funding for water projects, schools

 (WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today detailed several Indian Country-projects that are slated to receive millions of dollars in federal funding for Fiscal Year 2009.The projects, which create jobs and boost Montana’s economy, are part of an overall appropriations bill that funds the federal government. Both Baucus and Tester requested the funding last year.

“This funding is about improving public safety and justice on Montana’s reservations,” Baucus said. “These dollars will go a long way in bringing boosting Indian communities with better water systems, schools, law enforcement and good-paying jobs.”

 “This funding is very solid investment in Montana families and it will empower Indian communities with the resources they need to become self-sufficient,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “Max and I worked hard to set aside this funding, which will bring more hope and opportunity to Indian Country.”

 Baucus and Tester detailed the following projects for Indian Country:

· $100,000 for the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation for a 911 call center.

· $300,000 for Fort Belknap to add additional staff, updated electronic data systems, equipment and training to ensure quality judicial services in the tribal court.

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And now a bit of history on my Indian roots

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Honorings

For anyone following the blogs on Indian news reporting — I will not provide a map — here is a bit of information about me. No, I don’t speak fluent Hidatsa, nor Lakota (my dad does, though).

Fact: The majority of Native people do not speak their language, a result of government assimilation practices.

Here’s a post from a Lakota relative, Mary Lee Johns, about my tribal ties:

…Now to answer Awé, a member of the Crow Tribe.
It is obvious you don’t know the history of Jodi Rave. I am taking my time out of a busy day to take this opportunity to provide you with some of her background so you will no longer refer to her as a “Pan-Indian member of the Hidatsa tribe”.
1. Jodi is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribe of North Dakota. Her Mother, Gertrude Spotted Bear was a Mandan and Hidatsa from Twin Buttes, N.D. on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Her Father, Carlin Rave is a Lakota (Minicoju and Itazicho) from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
2. Her Aunt Alyce Spotted Bird served as the Three Affiliated Tribe’s first Chairwoman. Her mother’s brother presently serves on the Three Affiliated Tribal Council.
Because I am more aware of who her father’s people are I will take my time to provide you a short version of the family history. If those who know of her Mandan history I’m sure if asked they can provide this to Awé.
1. Jodi comes from the Fights the Thunder, Poor Buffalo, Dupris, and Traversie Tiyospae’s (family group). She has relatives on the Ft. Peck Reservation as well as the Northern Cheyenne. A member of her family is married into the Crow tribe.
2. Jodi’s great, great grandfather Fights the Thunder, his three son’s and other relatives fought in both the Battle of the Rosebud and at Little Big Horn were one of those sons, Bear With Horns was killed. His brother, Spotted Eagle was one of the important leaders that sat with Sitting Bull when he negotiated with the U.S. when they were trying to force the Lakota to return to the U.S. from Canada.
3. Her great, g.g. grandfather Frederick Dupris and his son’s which includes her great, g. grandfather Edward is one of the four families that is given the credit for saving the buffalo from extinction. Edward served many years on the first tribal council on the Cheyenne River Reservation.
4. Her great, g.g. Grandmother Mary Bruguier Traversie’s brother was Johnny Bruguier also known as Big Leggings one of Sitting Bull’s interpreters. Her great, g. Grandmother Mary Traversie Dupris was one of the first school teachers on the Cheyenne River Reservation.
5. Her grandmother Aurelia Dupris Reddest was a teacher for the BIA and was asked to teach in the most remote schools on the reservations in South Dakota because she could teach in fluent Lakota and in English. She was assigned to Bridger (were the descendents of the massacre of Wounded Knee are located) Little Eagle (were the descendents of Sitting Bulls people are located) and Wamblee (one of the most traditional communities of the Oglala are located). You can still find her students in various places in tribal governments from these areas.
6. Eunice Larabee, her grandmother Aurelia’s younger sister served on the Cheyenne River Tribal council for 12 years. She was instrumental in forming the Lakota TB Health Association the fore-runner of the CHR program. The national Indian Health Service acknowledged the important role she played in eradicating TB from the Aberdeen Area and acknowledges her in the creation of the CHR program.
There are many more things I can say about this family but I only wanted Awé to understand Jodi’ is so far from being a so-called Pan Indian then she herself is. Jodi on both sides of her family comes from people who have worked tirelessly in defending the rights of Indian people. She was raised in both families to understand tradition and her culture and not once in her life has she ever been anything other then a Mandan/Lakota.
As far has Awé’s statement regarding her as an “Indian Reporter” she is. The only National Indian Reporter whose job is to write about Indian issues. She has readers from all over the U.S. as well as an international following and has received many prestigious awards in her career. If people are angry because of what she reports they should look to themselves and ask why. They may find that they need to spend time working on their issues.

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I have heard many negative stories about Indian students having a hard time in the University of Montana law program. A number have left to go to school elsewhere. More specifically, I have been asked to report about the learning environment for Indian students at the UM law school. I have been given the names of Native students. And I’ve talked with at least one lawyer familiar with UM student complaints. 

Meanwhile, here is a post from Mary Lee Johns. It was longer, so it will stand alone in response to University of Montana law professor Rob Natelson, who recently complained about Indian awareness: 

I find Rob Natelson’s response to Jodi Rave’s description of the “anonymous letter writer” as very interesting in several ways.
1. to question using the term “racist” as a description of an individual who to all of us who identify ourselves as Indian – appeared by their comments to be “racist.” I ask Professor Natelson, an educated university professor – why he would dispute the term. By the fact that he claims to be “a small part Indian” – I can surmise that he looks like a Euro-American. This then gives him “white privilege” and having white privilege one seldom if ever experiences the type of racism people, who are obvious to the eye American Indians, face on a daily basis. Indian people, from earliest childhood, learn through experience that racism is a reality. It’s something one has to deal with. You can feel it (it’s an actual sensation) when there is a person who hates your people near you. If you have never been around a person who emits these feelings directly toward you then you will never understand what it is we, as Indian people understand and experience. Unless those types of people are “named or their behavior is named” we will never confront the problems we face in this part of the country.
By a university professor questioning our right to name raciest remarks, he dismisses the rights of Indian people to point out when it’s obvious to them that racism has raised its ugly head. Don’t attack the messenger – join the discussion – on how racism should be dealt with on the non-Indian side of the dialogue. (Please remember Racism is not an Indian problem it’s a white problem). By leading the discussion Professor Natelson could provide an important service to his community. By denying the idea of racism he inadvertently supports its continued existence.
2. Regarding his statement in regards to how “extremely heavy” the Missoulian coverage of Indian affairs has been (“far heavier than the attention given to other Montana ethnic, economic, and social groups”). I would think that a person of his influence would be proud to acknowledge the fact that Lee Enterprises, who own the Missoulian, is far ahead of the field of journalism by dedicating a full time reporter of Jodi’s status to covering American Indian issues.
Jodi’s articles are read by people throughout the United States and other countries. I don’t think the other reporters who work for the paper have the type of readership Jodi has. I think one would actually feel a since of pride in your home town paper that it has such a distinguished reporter. I ask how many others were invited to join the President elect on his historic train ride before this inauguration. Or how many others received a coveted fellowship award from Harvard for the first Peter Jennings Fellowship group.
3. His question regarding Jodi’s coverage “lack(ing) the balance and critical stance expected of good journalism” – and his “impression that it has tended to be excessively uncritical of tribal politicians and governments.” One has to read the many articles she has written over her career that has been very critical of tribal leaders. Jodi’s style of journalism is one that is lacking in the world of journalism that only deals with the negative rather then the positive. As Indian people we face a world that is wrought with problems and issues – she reports these but in a more sensitive manner – one has to understand how to read her stories. She reports the negative but also points out the successes. The professor may not see the subtle difference by only searching for the negative. Too many other papers cover only the problems – if you read only these you would think we were only a group of alcoholics, criminals, etc. etc. What is wrong with reports about the great things tribes are doing do you want to know only what we are doing wrong.
4. As far as the professor not finding the report of the death of a nationally recognized tribal chairman on the Web. he may not have known were to search. I found many reports about it including the letter President Obama sent to the Crow Tribe. If the governor of Montana died it would be a story why not the Chairman of the Crow Nation. This man was respected by all of your top leaders in the state, he is being honored by those same individuals who will be attending his memorial service.
I can honestly say, all of the statements in the professor’s blog were acceptable arguments regarding Jodi’s skills in journalism but this one shocked me. I found this statement unusual in its lack of sensitivity to the cultural differences between our people. The passing of a great leader is a very sacred and spiritual thing to all Native Americans and to use it as part of an argument is so beyond my understanding of the thinking process of an educated person. It just goes to show how much dialogue is need to began to understand each other.
But on the other hand I think we needed to read this so we can see how far we need to travel to reach a point where we can began. As Sitting Bull, another great Indian leader once said “let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children” – maybe someday all of the children of Montana may live to see the day when there is no feeling of racism towards each other.
Mary Lee Johns, Lakota

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University of Montana webcam and related reader comment

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

If you read my previous post about the University of Montana Native center, here’s the right link for the grizcam, a web camera on campus. But, I couldn’t find the Indian center location. Rephrase: I could find it but there were tree branches blocking the view.

Also, here’s a reader comment from Jackie Trotchie regarding that post about a future name for the center:

As a Turtle Mountain/Little Shell, I never had the opportunity to use the tribal scholarships but through the help of a friend and the Indian Education program in Washington, I started college in a two year program in Seattle. During that time, I was elected to the Student Government and was sent here to Missoula to represent our school at a conference. I couldn’t believe what I saw. The University of Montana had a Black Studies Program and was recruiting students from other States. But, with eight reservations in Montana and the Little Shell, there wasn’t a glimmer of a Native American Studies program. I was incensed enough to go the Vice President’s Office and express my rage and to express the dire need for a Native Studies Program. I don’t remember his name but I do remember he told me there was two students on campus who were Native and he would talk to them. I don’t know who those students were but I do know, the next time I returned to UM campus there was a pitiful little building that housed the NAS program and I thought it was the greatest event in the history of the University. Now after all these years, a bigger and better program is coming to life and I think the Center needs a name that honors all Native Nations and not just one person. Instead of the business building, the arts building etc., this one could be The Native Nations Building.