Archive for December, 2010

Really nice piece on what it takes to get “real people” portrayals or depictions of Natives in movies from the Alaska Public Radio Network: Listen to interview/audio by Shane Iverson here. Well- known actors such as Drew Barrymore star in the film, which was shot in Alaska.

    The movie production “Everybody loves Whales” has received a lot of attention in Alaska for actually being shot in Alaska. The film is based off an incident in 1988 when three gray whales became trapped in sea ice near Barrow. When Alaskans go see the movie one thing they’ll be watching for is how they’re portrayed.

    Iverson, from KYUK in Bethel, spoke to the Alaskan actors in the film to see what it was like be part of the production and to find out what they think it could mean for the State’s first peoples.

Jenna Cederberg

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"Hunting the Rez" subscription promo. (Courtesy of
The premiere issue of a new Native hunting magazine geared at attracting non-Natives to the benefits of hunting on tribal lands went on stands this November.

Hunting the Rez” debuted this year as Rocky Boy’s resident Jason Belcourt’s way top reach out to nonenrolled hunters. It’s billed as a guide to “52 million additional acres of hunting and fishing previously hidden in plain sight.”

The Montana man has hunted across the world and thinks Indian Country presents some of the last best areas to find truly unique hunting experiences that bring hunters great results.

“One of our main goals is to inspire you to plan an exciting hunting or fishing adventure in Indian country, and then to serve as a resource in helping you plan that adventure. There are many distinct advantages to hunting in Indian country, for example; many tribes have rifle seasons during bugling season as opposed to the states. Some tribes even offer extended seasons for non-enrolled sportsmen,” Belcourt says in his introduction to the magazine on its website.

The website is taking story and photo submissions. Subscription information is also available there.

The next magazine run is set for February.

Jenna Cederberg

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One hundred and twenty years ago yesterday, the Lakota people made the deadly ride to Wounded Knee that ended in massacre.

For the past 23 years, those wishing to remember their ancestors sacrifices have also made the ride. The commemoration is now taking on another element, with young members, most under 30, making the ride.

The Big Foot Memorial Ride is a way to connect the youth to the past and build a “bridge to the next generation,” as the Rapid City Journal reports.

    Participants travel on horseback from camp to camp, braving the cold – and sometimes worse, like last week’s ice storm or last year’s Christmas blizzard.

    Jeremiah Young Bull Bear said the weather only highlights the spiritual aspects of the ride.

    “Like the elder riders always say, if you’re not suffering in some way – if you’re hungry, you’re sore, you get sick – if you’re not feeling any of those things, you’re not feeling the spirituality of the ride,” he said. “Anything spiritual, there’s always a sacrifice.”

    “I don’t think of the coldness when I ride,” Lip said. “I think of our ancestors and how they rode.”

    The entire Native community participates in one way or another. Phyllis Wilcox of Wanblee couldn’t ride this year, so she spent two days cooking – 15 turkeys, five gallons of mashed potatoes and 25 pounds of flour for frybread – for 90 hungry riders who arrived in Kyle on Christmas.

Jenna Cederberg

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Byron Dorgan in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg).

Byron Dorgan in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg).

The Cobell suit settlement finally approved. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act and Tribal Law and Order Act passed. A good year for Native American in the U.S. Congress?

For North Dakota senator Byron Dorgan, who pondered his 30 years in Congress with Associated Press reporter Matthew Daly, it was at least a year that brought closure to many causes he’s championed throughout the years.

    Dorgan, a Democrat, announced last January he wouldn’t seek re-election after almost 30 years in Congress. Dorgan, chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said he then “focused like a laser” on unfinished business, including the long-stalled bills on health care and crime.

    “I was flat tired of working on these issues that were never resolved,” he said in a recent interview in his Capitol office, which is adorned with Indian headdresses and tribal artwork. “I said, ‘We will get this done.’ We can fix these issues by keeping a few promises.”

    Dorgan, 68, denies any attempt to craft a legacy, saying he merely wanted to complete legislation he had worked on for years.

    “When children are dying and elders are dying, the time for talk is past,” he said, noting that many Native Americans still “live in third world conditions in much of this country.”

    Jacqueline Johnson Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest Indian organization in the nation, said Dorgan’s pending retirement spurred action.

Jenna Cederberg

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Bison ranchers struggle to meet consumer demand

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in bison

Bison brave the winter elements on the Ed Eichten family farm near Center City, Minn. Despite growing consumer demand for bison meat which has sent prices soaring, Eichten, right, said he doesn't see the boom slowing down. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

In a photo made Friday, Dec. 24, 2010 bison brave the winter elements on the Ed Eichten family farm near Center City, Minn. Despite growing consumer demand for bison meat which has sent prices soaring, Eichten, right, said he doesn't see the boom slowing down. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Bison are being listed as a “hot commodity” these days. The iconic and once scarce beasts are being used more and more in everyday meals. And even as the price for the sweeter, leaner meat from the animals keeps going up, consumers keep paying the cash.

It’s a trend that has bison ranchers looking for ways to keep up with the growing demand, the Associated Press reports.

Ground bison meat runs about $7 a pound, while bison burgers sold at various restaurants are on average $2 more than a beef burger.

    Bison grow slower than other livestock, and a heifer can’t have her first calf until she’s 3, said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association in Westminster, Colo. Beef cows can have calves at 2. Also, many producers are finding heifers more valuable for breeding than eating, which means fewer bison going to market – at least temporarily, he said.

    The tight supply comes after bison farmers spent much of the past decade aggressively courting consumers by touting the health benefits of the low-fat, low-cholesterol meat. Bison caught on, and even in the economic slump, prices haven’t discouraged consumers.

    “Now our challenge is keeping up with that demand,” Carter said.

Jenna Cederberg

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Forest Service rangers want Sweet Home, Oregon, residents to comment on a plan they’re hoping will help huckleberries growing on traditional Native gathering grounds there thrive again.

Sweet Home Ranger District is seeking input on the Cougar Rock Restoration Project, the Democrat Herald reports, which aims to open the canopy above the huckleberry bushes to allow them to flourish.

The project would involve girdling certain trees and keeping only around 200 trees per acre.

    “For native Americans, camas bulbs were a staple, much like potatoes are for us today,” explained Ken Loree, operations staff officer for the Sweet Home Ranger District. “They would use huckleberries to sweeten the camas.”

    The native Americans would make wheels of camas and use them as bartering tools, Loree said.

    “Huckleberries are culturally important to native Americans,” Loree said.

    Huckleberries can be found at both high and low elevations, but the better fields of them are in the Cougar Rock area as well as Scar Mountain between the Sweet Home and Detroit ranger districts, Loree said.

Jenna Cederberg

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A roller coaster year in the courts for cigarette tax fights, Indian Country Today recaps the happenings and what it meant for Indian nations.

The “cigarette tax war” is one of ICT’s top stories of 2010.

Much of the turmoil took place in New York, where a law was passed by the legislature to ensure non-Indian residents who bought cigarettes bought on reservations were charged a state tax, to be collected from tribes that have already purchased the cigarettes. That fight is currently tied up in the courts on appeal.

    The law provides an onerous system whereby nations can opt into a coupon system to get a refund of the taxes they’ve already paid on tax-free cigarettes sold to Indians, or an allocation system in which a wholesaler can tie up a nation’s entire allocation of cigarettes even if the nation or individual retailers have not ordered stock for the wholesaler. . .

    So far, the nations have managed to stop the state from implementing its new tax collection scheme. On Dec. 9, a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state’s request to lift injunctions in place that stop the state from collecting cigarette taxes sold on Indian land while several challenges to the tax laws are pending. All of the pending lawsuits against the state have been consolidated into one case in front of the federal appeals court.

Also making waves was the federal Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act passed this year.

    The federal PACT Act – Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act – which had been bouncing from Congress to Congress in various incarnations for a number of years was signed into law by President Barack Obama in April.

    The new law bans the U.S. Postal Service from delivering cigarettes and certain other tobacco products – a move that will effectively extinguish the mail order tobacco trade run by the many business owners of the Seneca Nation of Indians and other Indian-owned tobacco businesses around the country.

Jenna Cederberg

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Lynda Lovejoy (Associate Press)

Lynda Lovejoy (Associate Press)

Navajo tribal election officials are holding to their count that Lynda Lovejoy lost a November bid to become the tribe’s first woman leader.

Lovejoy officially conceded the race last week by giving up her call for a recount of votes, Kate Saltzstein of Native Sun News reported on

Among reasons for the loss, Lovejoy said the “woman factor” played a part. Leadership roles are not a part of the traditional role of Navajo women. The choice of Earl Tulley as the vice president candidate was also criticized, Saltzstein reports.

    Lovejoy, a New Mexico state senator, said that during the election, people called her from across the reservation complaining that polling places ran out of ballots preventing them from voting. She also charged that there was fraud in the election.

    However, the director of Office of Election Administration responded that there was no fraud in the election and that representatives from his office visited people who could not vote on Election Day to record their votes.

    It would have cost Lovejoy more than $5,000 to pay for a recount.

Lovejoy will now go back to her duties as a state senator and plans to write a book about her life.

Jenna Cederberg

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Native American group helps with addiction, housing

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

Eleanor Jauregui makes beaded earrings in her Phoenix home. When Jauregui came to Native American Connections, she had been abusing alcohol for more than 30 years. She completed the outpatient-treatment program, then went on to volunteer for the group.  (Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic)

Eleanor Jauregui makes beaded earrings in her Phoenix home. When Jauregui came to Native American Connections, she had been abusing alcohol for more than 30 years. She completed the outpatient-treatment program, then went on to volunteer for the group. (Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic)

From Jordan Johnson, of the Arizona Republic:

Most of the people who come to Native American Connections Inc. looking for help say they feel broken mentally, physically and spiritually.

Michele Honanie was one of them.

“I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere, and I wanted to change,” she said.

Honanie was addicted to alcohol, her life in a downward spiral in December 2006. That was when counselors at Native American Connections told her everything would be OK. Since 1972, the organization’s mission has been to provide a safe place and a drug- and alcohol-free environment for Native Americans. President and CEO Diana Yazzie-Devine has worked with Native American Connections for 31 years. When the group originally came to the Valley, she said, there was no higher education available on Indian reservations and unemployment in the Native American community was high.

“They were disconnected socially and culturally,” Yazzie-Devine said of the group’s clients. “Their job skills didn’t translate. They experience the social pitfalls of homelessness and were highly affected by drugs and domestic violence.”

Native American Connections began providing behavioral help and healing for men who were abusing drugs and alcohol. The group now helps women, too.

“We provide shelter, transitional and permanent housing,” Yazzie-Devine said.

The organization is one of more than 130 agencies supported by the annual Season for Sharing campaign. Last year, the campaign raised about $2.86 million to assist Arizonans in need. Many of Native American Connection’s employees are former clients who received outpatient treatment and behavioral help.

Read the rest of the story.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Dec. 9 that tribes in New York can continue to sell tax-free cigarettes to non-Natives. This while an ongoing legal battle is being fought to determine if new tax laws written by New York in 2009 are legal, Indian Country Today reports.

The state’s new tax law would force them to pay cigarette taxes on sales to non-Indians by requiring wholesalers to pay for and affix a $4.35-a-package tax stamp on all cigarettes sold in the state, and pass the tax on to Native retailers, Gale Courey Toensing reports.

The court did rule that the five separate suits filed by Tribal nations on the issue will be consolidated.

    In recent months, judges in two separate federal courts issued orders prohibiting the state from implementing its new tax scheme.

    Judge David Hurd, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, issued a preliminary injunction Oct. 14 in a case filed by the Oneida Indian Nation against Gov. David Paterson and other state officials, asking the court to declare the state’s new laws illegal. The laws, which were devised last summer, abandoned the state’s decades-long “forbearance” policy – a hands-off approach that allowed the nations to prosper and become economic engines, contributing billions of dollars to the state and providing thousands of jobs in western, central and northern parts of the state.

Jenna Cederberg

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