Archive for February, 2011

T.J. Wolfname, Whitney Snow and Jazra Michel (left to right) enjoy a bowl of soup together Friday afternoon during the bi-weekly Soup Friday put on by the American Indian Student Services at the University of Montana. Soup Friday was started two years ago by AISS to build relationships on campus between Native and non-Native students, faculty and staff. (Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian)

By Chelsi Moy, of the Missoulian.

On a day when the mercury outside was well below freezing, beef stew and chicken soup seemed to hit the spot.

Yet it’s not the weather that brings folks to Soup Fridays.

It’s the camaraderie.

Every other week, American Indian Student Services organizes Soup Friday, which is where University of Montana students, faculty and staff, Native and non-Native alike, congregate in the student lounge of the Payne Family Native American Center to enjoy a hearty bowl of stew, chili or soup.

It’s a tradition that began two years ago when Fredricka Hunter took over as director of American Indian Student Services and saw the informal lunch as a way to build community on campus, bridge cultures and, now, to utilize the new Native American Center building.

It’s an opportunity for Native and non-Native students to build relationships, and way to invite non-Native students into the new building.

Before noon, Hunter goes around to each student hunched over books in the Native American Center and invites them in for a bowl of soup.

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Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

This week represents, perhaps, the most important week of lobbying for tribal nations since the end of the termination era. At a variety of meetings in Washington, D.C., including the National Congress of American Indians, leaders from Indian Country will fan out across Capitol Hill and make the case to Congress against deep spending cuts.

A new published summary of the White House Tribal Nations Conference makes that point from tribes several times over. “Indian programs should be exempt from mandatory spending cuts,” the report says. “In particular, the Indian Health Service programs should not be reduced.”

On health care the White House report reflected that idea as well. “Recognizing that American Indians and Alaska Natives die from many illnesses at far higher rates than the rest of the population, the President stated that closing the gaps in health disparities is ‘not just a question of policy, it’s a question of our values, it’s a test of who we are as a nation.’ To help achieve this goal, in 2010 the President signed into law the Affordable Care Act, which will make quality health insurance affordable to all Americans and permanently reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.”

In December when the White House conference took place there was a recognition that the new Congress was going to be changing all sorts of things. But what wasn’t known is that the rules of how Congress would act changed dramatically. The center of power shifted away from committee chairman, and especially appropriations sub-committees, to a smaller group in leadership.

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ND House: UND must keep Fighting Sioux name
Early this week the House of the North Dakota Legislature passed a bill that would require the University of North Dakota keeps its controversial Fighting Sioux name, the AP reported.

The only problem is, a lawsuit settled between UND and the NCAA says the school needs to drop the abusive and hostile name.

    Supporters of the measure argued that North Dakota’s Board of Higher Education, in deciding to discard the nickname and logo, ignored strong public sentiment in favor of both. Opponents of the nickname and logo say they are racist and demeaning.

    “Overwhelmingly, Native Americans and regular North Dakota citizens … they said, we don’t want the name to go away,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, the House majority leader. “Are we supposed to ignore it, and say, we don’t have the authority to do that?”

    Separately, representatives voted down two related bills that required UND to keep the nickname unless the members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe voted to revoke permission for using it. Neither bill got more than eight votes in favor.

Navajo is new Native link at White House

Charles Galbraith (Courtesy photo)

Navajo County has a new representative in the White House. Phoenix native Charlie Galbraith started his job an associate director of the Office of Public Engagement and deputy associate director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs this week, Navajo Times reports.

His jobs are wide-reaching.

    (Galbraith) understands that each of the 565 federally recognized tribes has different issues and is looking forward to learning about their cultures.

    “They’re going to keep me busy,” he said of his mission to keep the president current on their issues.

    Galbraith is taking over the position from Jodi Gillette, Standing Rock Sioux, who is now deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Tulsa women turns idea into booming business

Jenna Cederberg

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Buffalo Post pic of the week: Mussel dig essay

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Inuit, Native food, Native history

Photos by Patrice Halley

This is one shot from the stunning photo essay by Patrice Halley was featured on the ICTMN site this week. It takes viewers on an Inuit mussel dig in the Bay of Wakeham.

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Cobell lawyers seek to double fees

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Cobell vs. Salazar, Elouise Cobell

By Matthew Daly, of the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Lawyers representing Native Americans helped win a record $3.4 billion settlement with the federal government.

Now they want a judge to double their fees.

Instead of being paid up to $99.9 million, as initially agreed, attorney Dennis Gingold says he other lawyers deserve at least $224 million for their work on the case since 1996.

He and other lawyers “have achieved a stunning landmark victory in this case,” Gingold wrote in a 25-page motion filed Jan. 25 in federal court in Washington. “No lawyers have done so much for so many people in this circuit.”

Not only was the $3.4 billion settlement a record for Native American claims against the government, but the lawyers also “accomplished that which Congress could not do and the (U.S.) attorney general would not do, and have aided a group long abused to stand up against the abuse,” Gingold wrote.

For their efforts, $99.9 million “is so far below governing standards that it would be inconsistent with federal law,” Gingold said. Instead, he, Thaddeus Holt, Keith Harper and other lawyers deserve at least $223 million in fees, plus $1.3 million in expenses and other costs, Gingold said.

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A Coeur d'Alene Tribe leader says the panel should move slowly on a plan to change cigarette taxes on reservations. (Courtesy of the Idaho Reporter)

By Dustin Hurst, of the Idaho Reporter:

The Indian Affairs Council, a panel of state lawmakers and representatives from tribes around Idaho, met Wednesday in the Capitol and agreed to send a message to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on a bill that would affect how cigarette taxes are handled on reservations: go slow.

The council approved a motion calling for the drafting of a letter to committee chairman Dennis Lake and Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney calling for the panel to wait until at least March 7 before giving the measure additional hearings.

The measure, introduced by Denney, a Republican from Midvale, would basically require that tribes match the state cigarette sales tax on reservations. Tribes would be able to acquire rebates of tribal cigarette taxes from the state and the measure would still exempt tribal members from paying the tax if purchasing on reservations.

The bill could counter smuggling efforts if lawmakers decide to hike cigarette taxes during the session, a plan in the works. Tribes are not yet required to hike cigarette taxes if the Legislature does.

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Find your totem quiz, speech offends EWU students

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

Stan Hughes (Sioux Nation) was asked to speak last week at the Eastern Washington Campus but the event was cut short after several audience members took offense to the EWU alumn’s talk of a totem finding quiz he’s developed and his sharing of his journey to become a warrior, the Easterner reports.

Hughes said he thought the speech, and sharing the story of his journey to become a medicine man, was a good way to help others find hope and not be lonley.

Some found the topics out of line. They felt Hughes shared things that are usually not topics of public discussion.

    At the event, Hughes talked about his journey through the sweat lodge and his medicine bag that held special talismans, all things which are sacred to the Native American culture and should not be shared with the public. Hughes also talked about how people can have up to seven totems in their lives and that he has developed a survey that helps find a person’s totem.

    “It was really offending. I feel like we were a little bit harsh, but he needs to know that it’s not cool that he goes around teaching things that he’s not even sure about. … He doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, and if he really grew up in the cultural background like he [said] … one of the most important things is you don’t talk about a sweat house. He would know that,” freshman Stefanie Marchand said.

    “I’m sure he has good intention to teach people about our culture, but the way he’s doing it … you don’t claim to be something you’re not. He made a quiz to find your totem … you can’t go online and take a quiz and find your totem,” added Marchand. “And you definitely don’t show anything in your medicine bag to anybody, not even to your mom, it loses value.”

Jenna Cederberg

From Indian Country Today Media Network:

American Indian students will be able to explore genetic research and have discussions with leading scientists about issues relevant to their communities at the Summer Internship for Native Americans in Genomics (SING), a six-day workshop at the University of Illinois.

According to the U. of I. press release, 20 students will attend the workshop being held July 10-16 at the Urbana campus.

The workshop’s organizer Ripan Malhi, a professor of anthropology and of animal biology at Illinois, pointed to recent legal cases in the release that “may foster the misimpression that Native Americans are anti-science or that there have been no positive collaborations among Native communities and researchers.”

One of the cases he sited was the Havasupai Tribe’s lawsuit against Arizona State University over the misuse of blood samples given in the 1990s for diabetes study. According to an April 22, 2010 story on the blood samples were also used for research on schizophrenia and inbreeding.

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Hunters from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation traveled to Gardiner, Mont., on the north side of Yellowstone National Park to hunt buffalo. It was one of the first trips for the tribes in 130 years. When the tribal members used to make the trip, it would take two or three years. This year’s hunt took four days. (Courtesy of

It’s been more than 100 years since members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation hunted buffalo.

Although treaty rights originally guaranteed the tribes access to buffalo hunts, the Oregon-based tribe recently finished walking a five-year road to reprove the right. The work was spurred by CTUI member Jim Marsh, who took his first bull last week reports.

    His journey over those five years was more than just the distance between Oregon and Montana. Marsh pushed to assert his tribe’s right, and became a part of the politics in the process.

    “Every time Jim saw me over the last four years, it was, ‘So Carl, how’s the bison hunt coming?’” recalled Carl Scheeler, wildlife program manager for the CTUIR’s department of natural resources.

    “Jim was very supportive and right there reminded me every time he saw me that it was important to him.”

    Scheeler said the CTUIR looked at the buffalo picture as far back as the 1990s, when the board of trustees briefly considered having a domestic herd. It soon decided against that, in favor of subsistence and cultural hunting.

    Of course, the tribes’ history with buffalo go back to ancient times. The Treaty of 1855, which set up the Umatilla Indian Reservation, ensured the right to hunt buffalo along with other traditional foods such as salmon, deer and elk.

    “The 1855 treaty mentioned 24 times about buffalo,” Marsh said.

    Getting Montana and other government agencies to recognize that right took years.

Thanks to Indigeneity for the link.

Jenna Cederberg

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Native Americans at higher risk for flu deaths

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Native health

A New Mexico study has found that Indians are four times more likely to die from influenza.

Experts are now recommending that Native Americans get vaccinations priority, KOAT TV in New Mexico reports. Scientists studied the H1N1 flu and how it affected different groups of people.

    (Epidemiologist Michael) Landen works for the New Mexico State Department of Health. He and other researchers teamed up with 12 other states.

    “With additional work in New Mexico, Alaska and Arizona, we saw consistent information,” Landen said.

    Native Americans across all age groups were dying at disproportionate rate from the flu, Landen said.

    New Mexico sent its research to the CDC and it led to broad sweeping changes on who gets first dibs at flu shots.

Jenna Cederberg

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