Archive for October, 2011


Montana tribal colleges strengthen athletic association

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The Flathead Beacon reports this week in “Reservation Dreams” on the second year of the Montana Tribal College Athletic Association, which is aiming to get more kids playing ball, add scholarships and create opportunities on bigger courts across the country.

By Myers Reece, of the Beacon:

    On the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, a land riddled with devastating poverty and perpetual unemployment, there are no scholarships. Basketball is played, as the saying goes, for the love of the game.

    Fort Belknap’s Aaniiih Nakoda College is one of five Montana tribal colleges to officially form basketball programs within the last two years, joining Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Indian Reservation and the Crow Agency’s Little Big Horn College.

    The others are Stone Child College in Box Elder, Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer, Blackfeet Community College in Browning and Fort Peck Community College in Poplar. Aaniiih Nakoda is in Harlem.

Be sure to check out Liddo Vizzuti’s slideshow from Salish Kootenai College’s men’s and women’s basketball team practices.

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Report: Native American women victimized in prostition

A disturbing report out of Minnesota this week focuses on the high level of victimization occurring in the terrible, but often overlooked, world of Native women who have been forced by poverty into prostitution.

It’s a first of it’s kinds study, the St. Paul’s Pioneer Press reports, the delves into the world of people like Violet, who lured from a foster home by a pimp at the age of 12. The study, “Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota,” reveals a horrfying reality for Native women forced into prostitution.

    “Native women are at exceptionally high risk for poverty and sexual violence, which are both elements in the trafficking of women,” said report co-author Nicole Matthews, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Woman’s Sexual Assault Coalition. “The specific needs of Native women are not being met. Our goal was to assess the life circumstances of Native women in prostitution in Minnesota, a group of women not previously studied in research such as this.”

    Although forced prostitution of mostly females cuts across all walks of life and carries similar trauma,

    American Indian women may be among the most marginalized and vulnerable of all groups.

NCAI hosts national convention this week
Watch for news this week from the National Congress of American Indians hosts its national week long convention and cultural celebration starting Sunday in Portlan, Ore.

This year’s convention is entitled “Footprints into the Future: Our shared journey toward tribal prosperity.”

    NCAI will launch a number of initiatives during the Convention including its 2012 Native Vote initiative, and American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month focused on Native youth. The Convention will also include preparations for the 2011 White House Tribal Nations Conference with President Obama scheduled for December 2, 2011, in Washington, DC.

What’s the most important topic you think should be discussed at the NCAI convention this year?

Jenna Cederberg

Here’s more – on the form of a map – from the U.S. Census Bureau on findings of Native populations around the country. You can download the “wall map” of the U.S. or Alaska.

It’s a huge file to download, so click through to see the map on the Census website. There is quite a bit of information to take in, including an inset with the 25 largest reservations and a list of the 10 largest grouping populations according to the latest census numbers.

The Census offers this explanation of the information:

    This map shows the American Indian and Alaska Native areas reported or delineated for the 2010 Census. The map also contains related graphics that reflect 2010 Census statistics. The printed map is 48-by-36 inches with a map of the U.S. on the front and an enlargement for Alaska on the reverse side.

Jenna Cederberg

Pine Ridge Reservation’s Thunder Valley Community Development Corp. administration: From left, Scott Moore, project coordinator and architect; Jo White, operations coordinator; Nick Tilsen, executive director; Georgine Looks Twice, public relations; and Dallas Nelson, community liaison. The grassroots organization seeks to regenerate social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability on the reservation via a tribally-created “going green” commune of sorts. (PHOTO COURTESY/THUNDER VALLEY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORP)

By Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Staff Writer

SHARPS CORNER – Sustainability.

That has become the mantra of grassroots organization Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation: A “burning vision of sustainability,” to be more precise.

Thunder Valley’s latest “burning vision,” is one of genuine – and hopeful – community development: a community-created, self-sustaining and economically burgeoning neighborhood on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

“This project arises from the people,” Brett Lee Shelton said in an interview with online newspaper, the Huffington Post. Shelton is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the community development project’s attorney.

According to a press release, Thunder Valley is also vying to bring a sweeping “renaissance of Lakota youth, culture and spirit” back into the externally deculturated community through a traditional collectivist approach.

“Lakota culture is inclusive,” said Shelton. “The more this project reaches out, the more it honors that. There’s room for everyone, including non-Indians living on the reservation. The more, the better.”

In partnership with and through its subsidiary organization, Oyate Omniciye-Oglala Lakota Plan, Thunder Valley has reached out to the reservation’s community via a series of public meetings over the last few months for innovative and meaningful input regarding an eco-friendly – as well as people-friendly – district.

The district is positioned to be established from the ground up just north of Sharps Corner, on more than 80 acres of land already owned by the community development corporation.

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National Public Radio will debut tonight a three-part investigative series on the state of the foster care system in South Dakota, looking into why more than 700 kids were taken from their homes each year and place into homes with no Native influence.

NPR has found that most often, federal mandates holding that removed children must be placed with family or other Native house are ignored.

    Critics say foster care in South Dakota has become a powerhouse for private group home providers who bring in millions of dollars in state contracts to care for kids. Among them is Children’s Home Society, the state’s largest foster care provider, which has close ties with top government officials. It used to be run by South Dakota’s Gov. Dennis Daugard. An NPR investigation has found that Daugard was on the group’s payroll while he was lieutenant governor — and while the group received tens of millions of dollars in no-bid state contracts. It’s an unusual relationship highlighting the powerful role money and politics play in South Dakota’s foster care system.

Audio for this story from “All Things Considered” will be available at approx. 7 p.m. eastern time on Tuesday. Read more about Part 1 of the series “Incentives And Cultural Bias Fuel Foster System” here.

Jenna Cederberg


Gyasi Ross doesn’t know much about Indians, or so he says

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Courtesy of ICTMN

ICTMN reviews a new book by Gyasi Ross this week, and lets potential readers know that the book’s title tells you most about what you will read.

But don’t judge Ross’ book by its cover just yet. “Don’t Know Much About Indians (but I wrote a book about us anyways)” includes so much more.

    As advertised, Ross decidedly does not know much about Indians—at least not the ones depicted in the books written about them by white academics who have studied them. He has opinions about them though. And he knows them, rather than knowing about them.

    “I do not pretend to be an expert on Indian people. I do not want to be an expert on Indian people,” writes Ross, a contributor to Indian Country Today Media Network (and a Columbia Law School–educated attorney, to boot), in his prologue. “Heck, sometimes I do not even like Indian people. Sometimes I cannot stand Indian people.”

The book was published this year by Cut Bank Creek Press, ICTMN reports. It includes essays, stories and poetry by Ross, who often uses fictional characters to tell “factual truths about what has happened to the Indian in the centuries since Europeans first stepped onto Turtle Island’s shores.”

Jenna Cederberg

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.

Remember health care reform? The Republican presidential candidates all promise repeal just as soon as they win the White House. But we ought to ask, just where will they get 60 votes in the Senate? These days that supermajority is the magic number required to move legislation forward.

While Republicans pretend they can instantly repeal the complicated law, the actual implementation continues to moves forward. Sort of.

One provision that is not going to happen is the long-term care program known as CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports). This program was the brainchild of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced on October 14 that she did not see a “viable path forward” for CLASS. “… the law passed by Congress required me to design a plan that would be actuarially sound and financially solvent for at least 75 years,” Sebelius said. “The provision protected both taxpayers and beneficiaries. After all, if CLASS failed, no one would be hurt more than those who would pay into it and would be counting on it the most.”

The problem is, of course, demographic. The baby boom generation is huge, much larger than the generation of workers and taxpayers that must pay for such a program.

But, as Sebelius pointed out in her news release, the problem is not going away. “By 2020,” she said, “we know that an estimated 15 million Americans will need some kind of long-term care and fewer than three percent have a long-term care policy.”

Long-term care is a complicated issue for Indian Country. There are only a little more than a dozen nursing homes serving American Indians or Alaska Natives. There are also several initiatives promoting care for tribal members either in their homes or in facilities. Unlike the CLASS program, many argue that because of Medicaid funding, there is a “business model” for long-term care in Indian Country. Medicaid is an entitlement program, so if people are eligible, the money is there. At least for now.

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Elouise Cobell was laid to rest this weekend in Browning. The Missoulian’s Gwen Florio covered the events (that include a procession of cars all blasting Elvis songs) that honored the activist, who died last week at the age of 65.

Mandi Bird Kennerly says a prayer at the casket of Elouise Cobell on Friday evening during a viewing and rosary service at the Browning High School. Kennerly is a great niece by marriage to Cobell. (Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian)

Here’s Florio’s stories:

Friends, family and admirers pay respects to Elouise Cobell in Browning

BROWNING – They came from the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, from the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona, from the Seminole Tribe in Florida.

From across Indian Country, Native American people gathered Saturday on the Blackfeet Nation to honor Elouise Cobell, who fought the U.S. government to a standstill on their behalf. She died last Sunday, of cancer, at age 65.

Cobell changed “the dark side of American history,” said Dennis Gingold, an attorney who worked with her on the landmark Cobell v. Salazar class-action settlement that directs $3.4 billion to Indian people.

Read the rest of the story.

Elouise Cobell’s love of Elvis on display at memorial

BROWNING – Elouise Cobell has left the building.

She met many important people in her 65 years, presidents and movie stars, members of Congress and of course the Native American elders on whose behalf she successfully stared down the U.S. government.

At her viewing Friday evening, people talked of her courage and Read the rest of this entry »


Buffalo Post pic of the week: Honoring Elouise

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By Marty Two Bulls

As the services to honor Elouise Cobell carry on today, here is the tribute to the activist champion by ICTMN’s MartyTwo Bull

For an appreciation of Elouise Cobell, see “Elouise Cobell, 65, Walks On.”

Look for full Missoulian coverage of the services at and here on Sunday.

Jenna Cederberg

One seminar at a gathering of Montana educators this week helped spread the word of the mighty pen, and how teachers can use the written word to inspire Native students sometimes left behind in classrooms.

Here’s the full story from Jamie Kelly of the Missoulian:

    Fire the imagination for the written word, and you’ll fire the passion for learning.

    So said the state of Montana’s director of Indian Education, a poet and teacher who believes the power of prose will help narrow the achievement gap between American Indian students and their white counterparts.

    “We have a very serious charge with ensuring that American Indian students experience greater success in school, that they have the opportunity to realize their educational potential,” said Mandy Smoker Broaddus, a former teacher and administrator on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation who now works for the Office of Public Instruction.

    Addressing teachers in the Margaret Johnson Theater at Sentinel High School on Thursday afternoon, Broaddus said it was the discovery of literature and poetry made possible by her teachers that held her up through some of the most traumatic moments of her life, and inspired her to eventually attend college.

    Broaddus earned her bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University in California and her master’s in fine arts from the University of Montana, where she received the Richard Hugo Scholarship.

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