Archive for December, 2011


New Native saint celebrated around country

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Religion

Courtesy of

The canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha will be officially celebrated in Rome sometime in 2012, but those in the Native community have already begun their celebration of the Pope’s announcement this year that the first North American Native American will become a saint.

As the Rapid City Journal reported last week, the He Sapa Kateri Circle in Rapid City are overjoyed their prayers were answered.

    “We’re very happy that all our prayers all these years have finally been answered,” said Veronica Valandra, the director of the Office of Native Concerns for the Diocese of Rapid City and also a member of the group. “I’m very happy about it. To us Natives, we always believed she was a saint.”

The Blessed Kateri’s story was told across the globe when the Pope approved her sainthood Dec. 19.

In Rapid City, some Catholic Natives are hoping they can attend the official canonization in Rome.

    The date for Kateri’s canonization will likely be announced in February. Valandra said a delegation of Kateri devotees from the diocese might attend her canonization in Rome next year, but no date has been set for it yet. Pope Benedict typically performs canonization ceremonies in October, she said.

    “I would love to go,” said Phyllis Decory, who says she first learned of Kateri as a young school girl in a pageant honoring the Native American role model. “I remember I was 6 years old at Holy Rosary school when I was introduced to her in a beautiful drama about her life. She was holy person, a saintly person,” Decory said. “We’ve been waiting for this our whole lives. I was most happy to hear it.”

Jenna Cederberg

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Congratulations to Jim!

Felicite “Jim” Sapiye McDonald with qpqpte (white sage), photograph taken in 2009. (Photo courtesy of the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee)

From Char-koosta News (submitted there by the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee):

ST. IGNATIUS — On November 25, 2011 – her 89th birthday – Felicite “Jim” Sapiye Pierre McDonald officially retired from her position as Senior Translator and Cultural Advisor for the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee. She said she loved her job and wanted to keep working, but her age and health finally forced her to retire. She held the position for over 30 years.

Jim asked us – actually, “told us” – to keep this notice very brief, but we will say this: for Jim, this was always much more than a job. It is her life.

She is the model of a traditional scholar, someone who began with deep first-hand knowledge of the language and traditional way of life, but has never assumed she knew it all. Instead, she has constantly added to and honed her knowledge – most of all by listening, over and over, to the Culture Committee’s recorded oral histories.

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Meet the Shadow Wolves, an elite drug tracking force that scours the Arizon/Mexico border for contraband.

The Wolves are the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s only Native American tracking unit and use traditional tracking methods to find illegal drugs and drug runners, reports Nick Allen of the Daily Telelgraph.

One member is Jason Garcia (Tohono O’odham).

    He and eight other Shadow Wolves operate in the Tohono O’odham Nation, a vast Indian reservation roughly the size of Northern Ireland. The O’odham have inhabited the area for thousands of years and their name translates as “Desert People.”. Some 20,000 of them now live in scattered villages.

    . . .

    The tracking technique they use is known as “cutting for sign” and is taught from childhood. Mr Garcia says: “This takes a lot of patience. You’re looking for something that’s almost invisible.

    Initially it can be something minute. But it’s the thrill of the hunt. I’m looking for bad guys that don’t want to be found.”

    Bending to his knees to study his latest find he can tell that the quarry passed by only minutes before in an SUV, probably a Chevrolet, heading directly north towards Phoenix 100 miles away.
    Jumping into his own pickup truck he then plunges into the undergrowth, bouncing wildly through the cacti, and down a dry rutted riverbed, following signs invisible to the untrained eye.

    Unlike his ancestors he is armed with an M-4 rifle and a semi-automatic pistol.

View a short slideshow of the Shadow Wolves at work.

Jenna Cederberg

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Some of the first and most important protectors of America’s national parks were black soldiers. They were lauded for many achievements while stationed in the beautiful lands across the country, especially for their firefighting work in Glacier National Park in the early 1900s.

Missoulian’s Tristan Scott explores the rich history of the “Buffalo Soldiers'” past, including how the Natives of the land were affected by the unique presence.

    Native Americans reportedly bestowed the nickname “Buffalo Soldiers” on the black troops with affection, likening the kinkiness of their hair to that of a buffalo.

But the relationship between the soldiers and the tribes, as Scott writes, was complex and often ugly.

    But early regiments, many of them former slaves, also conducted campaigns against tribes on the western frontier, particularly in the southwest states like Texas and Arizona, but including Montana.

    “It is one of the ironies of American history that … black soldiers had to earn their reputation as proficient troops by assisting in the suppression of [Native Americans] and by acting as strike breakers,” wrote John H. Nankievell in his book “Buffalo Soldier Regiment: History of the Twenty-fifth United States Infantry, 1869-1926.”

    . . .

    “It is not always a celebratory story, but it’s a history of our culture,” said (Alan Spears, a legislative representative for the National Parks Conservation Association). “As we look at enhancing cultural diversity in the national parks, what I think is important about these stories is that the early American West was a far more diverse place than we originally believed. African Americans have always been in these parks and on these Western landscapes, far more than we knew.”

Jenna Cederberg

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Has a tribe on the tiny Rocky Boy’s Reservation in central Montana stumbled upon the new casino?

The Chippewa Cree are running an online lending venture, Plain Green Loans, that provides quick cash at high interest rates to customers all over the world. The return is solid for the tribe, but some argue to cost is too hefty for consumers caught in a payday lending-like cycle.

Here’s a full look at a venture.

The Montana Associated Press has the story:

HELENA – An Indian reservation in the heart of Montana’s farm country may seem an unlikely place to borrow a quick $600, but the Chippewa Cree tribe says it has already given out more than 121,000 loans this year at interest rates that can reach a whopping 360 percent.

As more states pass laws to rein in lenders who deal in high-interest, short-term loans, Indian tribes like the Chippewa Cree and their new online lending venture, Plain Green Loans, are stepping in to fill the void. The Internet lets them reach beyond the isolated Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation to borrowers across the nation, while tribal immunity has allowed them to avoid bans and interest-rate caps several states have set.

To Neal Rosette, Plain Green Loans CEO and the Chippewa Cree’s former executive administrative officer, it’s a win-win. The online lending venture is a resource for people who can’t or won’t borrow from banks, while it gives the tribe a steady revenue stream and jobs with unemployment on the reservation at nearly 40 percent.

Rosette said this model could be the successor to gambling for tribes looking for an economic boost. Some tribes have owned online lending businesses for several years, and Rosette said the Chippewa Cree and three other tribes have started the Native American Lenders Alliance to encourage more.

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Paula Bremner (Courtesy of Jonas Greene via ICTMN)

Blackfeet Community College student Paula Bremner is emerging as a leader of leaders. As ICTMN reports, with an interest in banking and business, Bremner is the vice president of the school’s American Indian Business Leaders chapter that recently won national chapter of the year.

That’s just one good things Bremner has going on.

    Bremner is a third cousin of the late, iconic Elouise Cobell, and has shared her interest in banking. The 20-year-old Blackfeet Nation member said being the 2010 youth coordinator for the Mini Bank program was the “most interesting and helpful work” she’s done because she “got to teach the youth about different bank accounts and how to save their money. I also got to learn more about banking myself because I had to take financial literacy classes as a graduation requirement at Browning High School.”

    . . .

    Bremner said she plans to transfer in 2012 to either Salish Kootenai College, a tribal college in Pablo, Montana, or the University of Montana to pursue a bachelor’s degree after she completes the Associate of Arts degree in business management at Blackfeet Community College.

    . . .

    Bremner participates in other activities, including the Catholic Youth Coalition group. “We try to do at least one community service project a month,” she said. The group has painted the local shelter, cleaned local cemeteries, repaired baseball fields, given clothes to the needy, prepared community-wide meals, and they plan to do much more.

Jenna Cederberg

If you’re celebrating today, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Here’s a couple festive stories from the past week to fill you up this Christmas Day.

Santa Claus came in headdress to the Denver Elders Dinner, sponsored by the American Indian College Fund. John Gritz, the event’s emcee, can be seen in the background. (Courtesy of Carol Berry)

Holiday event brings elders together
A meal for the elders brought almost 250 together for a special dinner in Denver last week.

The Denver Elders Dinner is a tradition that celebrates the community leaders, the season and provides all with a hot meal, ICTMN reports.

This year, the dinner even included a visit from the big guy from up North.

    The 11th annual Denver Elders Dinner was sponsored by the American Indian College Fund, which provided dishes made from 220 pounds of buffalo as well as 30 pies, four cakes, and large trays of cookies and cupcakes to attendees 55 and older in one of many holiday events in the local Indian community.

    Expectations were fulfilled—greetings from old friends along with some teasing, as in,“The Diné were trying to get me to exchange reindeer for sheep,” said John Gritz, Cherokee, emcee for the occasion.

Tim Giago: He overheard daughter’s prayer on Christmas Eve reran this special column by Tim Giago Friday. It’s inspiring to say the least.

This column was written in December of 1984. It won the H. L. Mencken Award from the Baltimore Sun and the “Best Local Column Award from the South Dakota Newspaper Association in 1985

    Light snow had been drifting down all morning and it was shaping up into one of those cold, miserable days that make South Dakota the butt of so many jokes.

    As I nursed my second cup of coffee, through the foggy, steamed up window of Vesta’s Café in Martin, SD., I saw the old, maroon pickup of Enos Poor Bear driving slowly down the slushy street. A smile came to my face as I thought about the many mornings Enos sat with me at this very table and discussed the politics of the Pine Ridge Reservation over a steaming cup of coffee. Enos, the former president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, a respected elder, had a wealth of knowledge about people and the problems of the reservation, past and present, and loved to share his thoughts.

    “It seems to me that the youngsters of today have lost the ability to sit and listen to the stories and the advice of the tribal elders. The one virtue stressed by the elders is patience and that doesn’t seem to fit into this world of instant gratification and high technology,” Poor Bear always said. If he was alive today and saw the texting, tweeting and God knows what else, he would really be scratching his head in dismay.

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A community in eastern Montana is sharing food, clothes, labor and Christmas cheer with a family that lost everything after a fire destroyed their house last weekend.

Here’s the full story from Billings Gazette reporter Chelsea Krotzer:

Members of the Costa family, from left, Dayisha, Dora, Tailynn, Dewayne, Raykwon and Dewayne III watch television in their Billings hotel room Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011. The family lost their Pryor home in a fire Friday night. (CASEY PAGE/Gazette Staff )

    A Pryor family whose home burned to the ground last week will be able to move back to their rebuilt house in as little as four months.

    Dora and Dewayne Costa said they heard the Crow Tribe will rebuild their home, a construction project that will take 120 days to complete.

    The Costas and their four children have been living in a Billings hotel since their house and all of their belongings burned on Dec. 16.

    Dewayne Costa was injured in the fire after he tried to pull a burning mattress out a bedroom window and fell.

    He broke two ribs, partially punctured a lung and burned his right hand. The only things the family was able to save from the flames were some coats and the keys to the family car.

    The Costas will soon be living in a trailer on a neighboring property while the reconstruction is completed.

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Sloan Millard, 10th Grader, Todd County High School students answer back to the ABC 20/20 Special by Diane Sawyer. (PHOTO COURTESY/TODD COUNTY SCHOOLS)

By Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff

RAPID CITY – The Lakota students at Todd County High School on the Rosebud Reservation took a careful and measured aim at the highly negative and controversial presentation of life on the reservations in South Dakota.

View the film “More Than That” on

Using the technology available, the students of the Studio One Class led by Kim Bos, the Media and English teacher, along with Heather Hanson, Speech, and Drama and 10th grade English teacher, the students created their own message to send out to the world.

Utilizing a social and media online network, YouTube, the class posted the film, which they entitled “More than that …” on Dec. 12.

At press time, the film has received more than 20,000 viewers, many of whom have left encouraging and congratulatory comments.
According to Hanson, who is a first year teacher, the students had viewed the ABC special, which was titled “Hidden American; The Children of The Plains,” which was promoted as a yearlong look at life on the reservations in South Dakota.

“The students were shown the special here at school, and so many of them were outraged at the negative message portrayed. I told them that they needed to use their own voices, and casually suggested that they do something for their class project,” said Hanson. “They completely ran with the idea, doing all the filming, scripting, editing and acting.”

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First North American Native proclaimed Catholic saint

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

Courtesy of

The Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha will be the first North American Native to be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church.

USA Today reports that the miracle recovery of a young Lummi boy from Washington from a flesh eating strep infection was the second proven miracle Kateri helped inspire.

    It takes proof of two miracles to certify that a Catholic is clearly in heaven asking God to help people who pray in their name. Now, a second critical miracle has been credited to prayers in the name of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who died in 1680 at age 24.

    Jacob “Jake” Finkbonner of Ferndale, Wash., was 5 years old in 2006 when he split his lip playing baseball, developed a deadly flesh-eating strep infection and lay near death for months at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Jake is now playing basketball again and training to be an alter boy, USA Today reports.

Blessed Kateri was born in upstate New York in 1656, and lost most of her family to smallpox. Her own battle with the disease left her badly scarred.

But, as USA Today reports, the scars were said to have disappeared at her death.

Jenna Cederberg