Archive for June, 2011


Sacred white buffalo calf named, honored by thousands

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‘He’s the hope of all nations’: Rare white buffalo named

A rare white buffalo walks in a corral after a Native American naming ceremony was held in Greenville, Texas Wednesday, June 29, 2011. The buffalo, named Lightning Medicine Cloud, was born to the Texas herd last month and holds a special place in Native American culture. (Lm Otero photo)

The Associated Press has the report:

GREENVILLE, Texas — Thousands of people came from miles around Wednesday to see and honor a legend in the flesh — the white buffalo born in a thunderstorm on a northeast Texas ranch.

The rare white buffalo calf, regarded as sacred by the Lakota Sioux, was honored with Native American prayers, religious songs and the solemn smoking of a pipe in a special naming and dedication ceremony at the Lakota Ranch in Greenville, about 50 miles northeast of Dallas.

Flag-flying patriotism, a steady Native American drum beat and scorching heat provided the backdrop for the spiritual event that drew about 2,000.

The calf was named Lightning Medicine Cloud — a reference to the thunderstorm that marked the arrival of his birth as well as a tribute to a white buffalo born in 1933 named Big Medicine.

According to Lakota Sioux tradition, Whope, the goddess of peace, once appeared in the form of a white buffalo calf. Some say the goddess will return once four such calves are born.

But whether the Greenville, Texas, calf was the third of its kind ever born, one of several in recent history or the first male born on Native American-owned soil in a while wasn’t immediately clear.

But all agreed that the birth of such a calf was unusual and stressed that it was not an albino, given its dark nose, eyes and marking on the tip of its tail. Several who spoke at the ceremony said they considered it a blessing.

“He’s the hope of all nations,” said Arby Little Soldier, upon whose land the calf was born on May 12. “The red man, black man, white man and yellow man; we’ve all got to come together as one.”

Unity and peace were major themes, as was respect for the environment and the awareness that all living things are interdependent.

The white buffalo is an omen that signifies the arrival of hard times unless people learn to change their ways and live in a manner that benefits everyone, including Mother Earth, according to literature distributed at the entrance gate.

“It’s the beginning of a new age, new times,” said Samuel Joseph Lone Wolf, a Native American elder from Palestine, who played an important role in Wednesday’s ceremony. “The birth of the white buffalo calf, it tells us we need to get right, not just with Mother Nature but with all nations and with the Creator, which is God.”

Some tourists complained that it was difficult to see much of the ceremony unless one was on the front row. There were no bleachers or big screens upon which events were featured. One white woman, seemingly disappointed by the program’s length beneath the hot sun said: “I think they’re going to keep going until all the pale faces faint.”

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Montana reservations cleaning up after historic flooding invaded their lives this year are getting a $200,000 boost for their efforts thanks to the California-based San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

The Red Cross of Montana announced the donation Thursday. Spring flooding affected multiple tribes on three reservation and cleanup efforts are in full swing.

    San Manuel’s contribution is intended to support recovery and clean up efforts which continue to be hampered by a limited availability of funds and potential for more flooding as winter snows melt. In the near term, funds will be used to secure on-going shelter and the necessities of daily living for families displaced from their homes.

    “San Manuel recognizes that our brothers and sisters in Montana are facing a difficult period of recovery and want them to know that we stand by them through this process,” said San Manuel Chairman James C. Ramos. “We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with the American Red Cross. They have the capability, organization and expertise to mobilize quickly and effectively when disasters strike anywhere in the world.”

According to a press release, the Red Cross helped arrange for 3,111 night stays for families and individuals affected by flooding, and provided more than 6,797 meals and 30,511 snacks during a five week period when flooding was at its worst.

    The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians is a federally recognized American Indian tribe located near the city of Highland, Calif.

    San Manuel has a long history of working with the American Red Cross following natural disasters and emergencies in its home state of California and beyond. San Manuel has provided funds to the American Red Cross Inland Empire Chapter to support southern California communities swept by wildfires in 2003 and 2007 and recently with floods near its San Bernardino area reservation in late 2010. In the same year San Manuel contributed $1.7 million to the Red Cross Haitian earthquake relief and $320,000 to the organization to assist tribes in Nebraska, South Dakota and Arizona with their emergency relief efforts in response to 2010 winter storms.

Jenna Cederberg


EPA launches Tribal EcoAmbassador program

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A new EPA program launched this week is hoping to offer support for higher education research aiming to solve tribal environmental problems. The new EcoAmbassadors program will be accepting applications through July 29.

Here’s the link for more information about the program, or to apply.

Here’s the press release from the EPA:

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launches the pilot year of its Tribal EcoAmbassadors program, which funds research at Tribal Colleges and Universities to address environmental and health issues affecting their communities.

EPA’s EcoAmbassadors program helps professors, students and community leaders to bring environmental improvements to their schools or neighborhoods.

JoAnn Chase, EPA’s Director of the American Indian Environmental Office, met with the Tribal Environmental Managers Partners Workshop and representatives from TCUs to introduce the new initiative and open the application process.

“Building stronger tribal partnerships and cleaning up our communities are two of our top priorities,” she said. “Launching Tribal EcoAmbassadors forms an effective partnership where the tribal community can direct EPA resources to the most pressing environmental problems they face, and to start developing solutions.”

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Feds charge man in Navajo officer shooting

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The Navajo Nation police and federal authorities have charged one man in the shooting death of a tribal officer as they continue their investigation of the incident together.

Sgt. Darrell Curley, an almost 30 year veteran of the force, was killed after Victor Bigman, 48, of Kaibeto, Ariz., fired shots at Curley as the officer attempted to subdue Bigman’s fighting sons.

Bigman fired four shots, according to the Associated Press, Curley fired several as well before he fell. Bigman remains in a hospital.

    Johnson Bigman, 25, and Tyson Bigman, 21, pleaded not guilty Monday to tribal charges of disorderly conduct, homicide, accomplice to aggravated assault and criminal nuisance. They remain in tribal custody pending a Friday bail hearing in Tuba City.

    . . .

    The FBI and the Navajo tribe have concurrent jurisdiction when both the suspect and victims of an alleged crime are American Indian. Tribal authorities can prosecute only misdemeanors that typically carry far lighter sentences than federal convictions. Victor Bigman faces life in prison if convicted on the federal charge.

    The Arizona Department of Public Safety assisted in the investigation because the shooting involved a police officer.

Jenna Cederberg


White House launches new site for Native Country issues

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Here’s the story about President Obama’s new website dedicated to Indian issues from ICTMN:

There have been ups and downs when it comes to President Barack Obama’s clout in Indian country since his platform run that consisted of improving the quality of life for American Indians throughout the country.

On the upside since his presidency Indian country has seen the permanent authorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the Tribal Law and Order Act, Cobell and Keepseagle settlements and two Tribal Summits.

The cons since taking office have consisted of budget cuts in Native programs, a constant battle over a Carcieri fix, the amount of the Cobell settlement and the use of Geronimo as code name for Osama bin Laden.

The most recent move to improve the communication between the president and American Indians comes in the shape of a webpage. On June 28 the White House announced the launch of “Winning the Future: President Obama and the Native American Community.”

“This webpage is meant to serve as another tool to help Indian country navigate the federal government and learn about how the President’s Agenda is helping to win the future for Native Americans,” according to a blog post by Charles Galbraith, associate director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement on the White House website.

This site is the result of a request by tribal leaders in attendance at a recent listening session looking for a centralized list covering everything that involves Indian country that would be accessible by American Indians.

Blurring Drum Beats, Circle (SUE REYNOLDS)

Vince Devlin, of the Missoulian, brings us the story of novice photographer Sue Reynolds, who was looking to change her life and used powwows to inspire an entire photo exhibit. Her photos are on display now at the People’s Center on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

    PABLO — There were a host of suggestions on the bulletin board at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography for its students to shoot back in the summer of 2005.

    Rodeos, car shows, baseball games, summer concerts.

    Somewhere in the mix, Sue Reynolds noticed the annual Arlee Powwow.

    “It’s the first powwow I ever attended,” says Reynolds, who lives in Walnut Creek, Calif.

    It most certainly wasn’t the last.

    Reynolds, who had spent a quarter of a century working in corporate marketing and public relations in the San Francisco Bay Area, had come to Missoula, and the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, with the intention of changing her life.

    She was, she says, burned out on the “high-speed” nature of her career.

    “I had no idea what shape that change would take,” she says, but she found it on a summer’s day in Arlee.

    “I remember getting out of my car and walking into the dance arbor, and it just felt like I was home,” Reynolds says. “It all seemed very familiar, very comfortable.”

    She didn’t shoot a ton of pictures that day, although she chatted with some tribal elders and took some portraits.

    Likewise, Reynolds did more conversing than photographing a couple of weeks later at the Standing Arrow Powwow in Elmo, where she learned more about the Kootenai, Salish and Pend d’Oreille people.

    In the six years since those first two, Reynolds has attended dozens of powwows and a few other types of tribal celebrations across the American West.

    “To be honest, I lost count when I got to 50,” she says. “I don’t know if it’s 60 or 70 … it may be 75.”

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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.

Idaho’s Bannock County is considering an ordinance that would create an “overlay” zoning district on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The idea is that the county would “serve” non-Indians who live on the reservation, while the tribes would then be limited to zoning its own members.

This is a script from an old playbook. Basically, the county views the Shoshone-Bannock government as little more than a social club with authority over its own. The tribe will likely respond with litigation to enforce its ordinances – and the next decade will be defined by chaos and rules that no one understands until eventually a court rules for one side or the other.

This script is still around because when the United States government reverses its policies, it rarely removes historical weeds. So tribes and local governments both cite federal law to support their claim. In simple terms: The old policy, called termination, would have ended tribes as governmental units, but that idea was abandoned during the 1970s in favor of tribal self-determination. Yet the laws to implement termination – such as those that give jurisdiction to states – remain on the books. Thus setting up a conflict and a back-and-forth battle about which government does what.

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History buffs come to see Little Bighorn battle up close

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Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, left, is killed in the Battle of the Little Bighorn at Custer's Last Stand Re-enactment outside Hardin Friday. (CASEY PAGE/Gazette Staff)

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, fought 135-year-old battle fought on the plains of eastern Montana, was a victory for Native people.

The alliance of three tribes and its warriors took down the U.S. Seventh Cavalry and its infamous leader, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer in a bloody battle that left just one U.S. horse alive. As the Billings Gazette reports, the re-enactment of the battle is still a popular event for history buffs from all walks of life.

The battle came to life again several times last weekend on what is now the Crow Indian Reservation.

    On Friday, Custer’s Last Stand 2011 Re-enactment drew about 1,500 people to the Hardin performance. The one-hour-and-15-minute performance is sponsored by the Hardin Chamber of Commerce.

    A check of the parking lot showed cars from as far away as New York and Hawaii, Manitoba, Texas and California. A show of hands before the start of the performance revealed that at least a third of the audience had come from outside of the United States.

    . . .

    A series of narrators takes audience members through a brief history of that time, describing the lifestyle of the Plains Indians, the exploration of Lewis and Clark, the coming of white settlers by wagon train, the pain of broken treaties and the increasing tensions that led, finally, to the battle.

    The audience hears the crash of the hooves, the war cries of the Indians, the yells of the soldiers as they engage in battle. By the end, the soldiers are dead on the ground while the Indian victors ride around on their horses.

Here is the Gazette’s photo gallery from the battle.

Jenna Cederberg

Chris Cellini looks through his artifacts (Courtesy of Martinez-New Gazette)

Childhood hobby has a long history
It was an arrowhead that first hooked Chris Cellini on the art of hunting artifacts.

The Martinez News-Gazette reports:

    Cellini said he clearly remembers monkeying around Alhambra Creek as a Martinez Junior High student when he and his friends discovered a flint arrowhead, launching him on a lifelong fascination with all things Miwok, Yokut and Ohlone, the three main tribes that called central Contra Costa County home in the pre-colonial days.

    For the past few years, Cellini has delved deeper into his hobby of collecting and reproducing traditional Native American tools, he said this week. The Contra Costa Library displays some of his handiwork, which he fashions at his home hobby space.

Today, he not only hunts for the artifacts, but uses historic practices to make his own.

    These days, Cellini has a friend in Nevada who regularly sends him naturally-occurring obsidian, or volcanic glass. He uses the blunt end of a deer antler to chip the obsidian into sharp points for arrowheads, just as the Miwok did, and winds leather straps tightly around the willow bows for strength.

    Not too long ago, Cellini’s son came running with a found arrowhead, and a new generation got turned onto the past.

    “We’ve got quite a history here, people don’t realize this town is such a treasure trove,” when it comes to Native American traditions.

South Dakota gets feedback for future use plans on Blood Run
Tribal and state groups are in the middle of discussions on how to best revitalize the historic Blood Run site in South Dakota and surrounding states.

The Argus Leader reports that future plans could include public access and a focus on rich Native educational aspects the site can offer.

    The entire Blood Run area is made up of more than 3,000 acres, but some of that land still is owned privately, though the state of South Dakota might have the opportunity to purchase some of that land.

    A few other Oneota sites are known to contain mounds, but the others only have a dozen mounds at most. Early accounts of the Blood Run National Historic Landmark describe more than 275 circular mounds, but development and natural erosion has reduced that number to 68, according to Game, Fish and Parks information.

    Despite damage to the area from railroad construction, mining and modern civilization, officials say the site retains “great potential” for producing a “wealth” of information about the Native Americans that lived in that area.

Jenna Cederberg


CSKT helps tribal youth cure the summertime blues with jobs

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Cedric Earthboy, listens detail-for-detail during a job interview with a tribal department employee. (Lailani Upham photo)

More than 70 kids wondering what to do during their summer break got the answer last week, thanks to a youth employment program that will put them to work across the Flathead Reservation.

Char-Koosta news reports that a job fair hooked up the youths with various tribal departments and local businesses,which will provide jobs from June 20 to July 29. The CSKT Summer Youth Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Whatever job the kids landed, they also got a good dose of employment skills at the job fair.

    The Montana Educational Talent Search, Kicking Horse Job Corps and CSKT Tribal Health Youth and Wellness Coordinator Pearl Yellowman Caye offered job skill preparation services for students as they waited in line for interviews.

    The Montana Educational Talent Search offer services to make certain students complete high school and enter college or vocational school. Talent Search is one of the TRiO programs (Talent Search, Upward Bound, Student Support Services) created in 1965 to provide equal opportunity for higher education to all Americans. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Jenna Cederberg