Archive for April, 2012


Native Montanan crowned Miss Indian World

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

Congratulations to Jessa Rae Growing-Thunder!

Photo courtesy of

From Poplar, Montana, Jessa was crowned the new “Miss Indian World” Saturday at the 29th Annual Gathering of Nations in New Mexico, David Sherman of KRTV reports.

    Miss Indian World is selected by acquiring points in a variety of categories and must be knowledgeable about the tribe(s) and traditions she will be representing. In addition, contestants earn points through a public speaking event, interviews with judges, a talent presentation, and a dance competition featuring PowWow music.

    At the end of the five day competition, Growing-Thunder was crowned after earning the most points.

    Derek Mathews, founder of the Gathering of Nations, said, “The Miss Indian World title is one of the most prestigious honors among Native American and indigenous people. The winner provides a cultural link between tribes and helps bring together native and indigenous people throughout the world.”

    Growing Thunder, 22, will travel to native and indigenous communities around the world on behalf of the powwow.

    She is currently attending college at Ft. Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

Jenna Cederberg


Warren controversy highlights use of ‘minority status’

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The term “minority status” and how it was used by Harvard University made headlines last week, after a challenger to U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren criticized the Warren and Harvard for touting her Native American heritage.

Courtesy of the Boston Herald

The Boston Globe and Herald have been following the story.

The latest Globe story, by Stephanie Ebbert, reports that Warren has long been considered a “minority” law professor.

Warren’s challenger is calling for her to “come clean” about using the Native heritage to get a job. Just how much of a controversy should this be?

    Warren’s unexpected minority status sparked controversy last week, when the Boston Herald reported that the school had named her a minority professor in the 1990s at a time when the campus was facing criticism about preponderance of white men on the faculty.

    In a 1996 article, the Harvard Crimson quoted a Harvard Law School spokesman saying that the faculty of 71 included one Native American – Warren – in addition to a few black and Hispanic professors and 11 women.

    The claim was repeated in a later Crimson story that called Warren the first woman with a minority background to receive tenure.

    Warren, a Democrat who is challenging US Senator Scott Brown, does have Native American blood, her campaign said Friday.

    But when asked about it Friday, she told reporters that she did not know Harvard was promoting her as a minority professor.

Hoop Dancing highligted on Canada’s ‘Got Talent’

Lisa Odjig performed her incredible hoop dancing on a national stage. (Photo courtesy of, via ICTMN)

Lisa Odjig is a world champion hoop dancer. And thanks to her “incredible” talents, Canadians across her country are much more familiar with exactly what hoop dancing is.

As Sam Laskaris of ICTMN explains, Odjig was a contestant on Canada’s “Got Talent” TV show.

    Odjig, a two-time world hoop dancing champion, was one of 36 contestants who advanced to the semi-final round. But after her second national TV appearance on Apr. 22, Odjig was eliminated the following evening during the show’s results broadcast when the semi-final votes were announced. Anybody could vote for their favorite performer by phone, text, Facebook, Twitter or online.

. . .

    Thanks to her appearances on Canada’s Got Talent, Odjig has already started lining up some other gigs as various organizers of festivals throughout Ontario have shown interest in having her perform at their events.

Blackfeet ask for more openness about oil, gas exploration

“We need an interpreter.”

Missoulian reporter Tristan Scott continues to bring us news from the Blackfeet Reservation, where many residents feel the oil companies looking to capitalize on the natural resources there speak a foreign language. More needs to be done, some say, so residents can understand what exactly oil and gas extraction might mean for their lands.

Here’s the story from Scott:

    BROWNING – Speaking to an uncomprehending group of federal and tribal land managers, Diane Calflooking Burd delivered an impassioned and articulate entreaty in her native Blackfeet language.

    Then, after a long pause, she drove her point home in English.
    “That’s how all this technical language from the oil companies sounds to us,” she said. “We need an interpreter, because they don’t tell us nothing.”

    Calflooking Burd was among several dozen tribal members who gathered last week in a conference room at the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Browning to learn more about oil and gas exploration on the Blackfeet Reservation. The meeting was arranged by the Bureau of Land Management and BIA, with the purpose of informing tribal members who have leased portions of their allotted land to energy companies for oil and gas exploration.

Read the rest of the story.

As Bison Return to Prairie, Some Rejoice, Others Worry
The return of bison to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation has been getting a lot of press lately. And the latest to weigh in, with a story by Nate Schweber, is the NYT’s.

Worth the read if you’re not full yet.

Jenna Cederberg

Groups working to form the nation’s first tribal national park on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation moved one step closer to their goal this week.

The National Parks Service announced Thursday that the final General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement for the South Unit of Badlands National Park has been completed and released, a NPS press release said.

    The South Unit of Badlands National Park is entirely within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. The Park Service and the Tribe have worked together to manage the South Unit’s 133,000 acres for almost 40 years. If a tribal national park is enabled by Congress through legislation, the Oglala Sioux people could manage and operate their lands for the educational and recreational benefit of the general public, including a new Lakota Heritage and Education Center.

Work to create the official national park has been ongoing since 2006. Partner groups include the NPS, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority.

    Under the plan, the National Park Service and the Tribe will focus on restoring the health and vibrancy of the prairie to enhance wildlife habitat, expanding bison into the South Unit, providing roads and trails and providing greater opportunities for visitors to experience the natural grandeur of the South Unit and the heritage of the Oglala Sioux people.

    The National Park Service is expected to sign the Record of Decision for the GMP/EIS this summer; however, congressional legislation is necessary before the Service can implement the Plan’s Preferred Management Option. In the meantime, the Park Service and Tribe may prepare for and implement appropriate parts of the plan and identify the components of a tribal national park that need to be addressed by legislation.

Here’s the full press release from NPS:

    BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, S.D. — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis today announced the release of the final General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement for the South Unit of Badlands National Park, recommending the establishment of the nation’s first tribal national park in partnership with the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

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A herd of bison moved to the Fort Peck Reservation in March welcomed its first baby bison – a bright-eyed bull calf.

The first calf from the transferred Yellowstone Park bison herd at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation was born Sunday morning. The mother watches over it just hours after its birth. (Photo courtesy of the Great Falls Tribune/By Richard Peterson)

The move of the genetically pure herd from Yellowstone didn’t come without controversy, but for now all the focus is on the celebration of new life.

Great Falls Tribune reporter Richard Peterson has the story:

    In the hours that followed its birth, the calf’s mother continued to lick and bathe her offspring while other bison surrounded the baby on a warm windy day on the rolling prairie.

    “They’ve been doing a good job of protecting him,” said the Tribes’ Buffalo Ranch Manager Tote Gray Hawk. “They don’t let him drift too far away.”

    It’s the first birth of a bison calf since the herd was transferred 500 miles to Fort Peck from a quarantined state Fish, Wildlife & Parks holding facility near Corwin Springs on March 19.

    . . .

    There are 61 bison in the herd but the new bull calf born Sunday won’t be counted among the other animals until it turns one year old, Magnan said. The tribes’ fish and game wardens have been closely monitoring the herd and believe more calves could be on their way.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have four or five more within the next week or two. They’re ready,” Magnan said.

Jenna Cederberg

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Art exhibit at powwow erases, rewrites Hellgate Treaty

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Powwow, Salish, Treaties

By Kim Briggeman, of the Missoulian:

The way Geraldine Pete sees it, a treaty that’s been broken might as well be erased.

Geraldine Pete shows the roll of paper on which she wrote out part of the Hellgate Treaty of 1855. Pete then invited the public to erase it at last weekend’s Kyi-Yo Indian Celebration at the University of Montana. Pete’s “Big Mistake Art Event” was meant to produce dialogue about a broken treaty that drove the Salish from their lands. (Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian)

That was what the University of Montana art student had in mind when she lugged rolls of art paper 30 feet long and 3 1/2 feet wide to the Kyi-Yo Indian Celebration in the Adams Center last weekend.

On them she wrote the first few articles of the Hellgate Treaty of 1855, the one that ostensibly created the Flathead Reservation, and invited powwow attendees to have their way with it.

Pete even provided erasers, a pink one labeled “For Big Mistakes” and a blue one that said “OOPS.”

Her abstract of the “Big Mistake Art Event” said it was meant to provide “comic relief for a devastating historic occurrence” – even as she realized there are those who wouldn’t view a treaty more than 150 years old as such, and even more who have no idea what the Hellgate Treaty was.

“It’s my first art installation, and it has to do with social practice artwork,” explained Pete, who enrolled in the art program at UM after receiving a graduate degree in counselor education. “It involves everything here – the energy, the dancing and just participating in the celebration. And I think erasing is one way to celebrate.”

Sheryl Noethe had another way.

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Kyi-Yo brings empowerment through education

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Powwow, University of Montana

Missoulian reporter Kim Briggeman takes us inside the Kyi-Yo powwow held on the University of Montana’s campus last weekend.

Three-year-old Jerome Vielle of Lethbridge, Alberta, waits for dancing to start during the grand entry of the Kyi-Yo Pow Wow on Saturday at the University of Montana. The powwow is the largest, longest-running, student-organized powwow in the country. (Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian)

It’s one of the oldest campus powwows around and this year was another celebration to remember.

    The sun is coming up on a new powwow season, the perfect time for Diana Cote of Arlee to bring her group of young drummers back to the University of Montana.

    “We’ve been singing ever since my boys were just babies,” Cote said Saturday as she waited to perform at the 44th annual Kyi-Yo Celebration. “My oldest boy is 40, so we’ve been singing for awhile.”

    Cote’s name in her native Bitterroot Salish is Scnpaqci – or Sunrise. That’s the name of her drum group, too.

    “You know when the sun first comes up, that’s when you awake, so when you think of sunrise you’re awaking to the drums,” she said. “So I always have youngsters at my drum. They’re just learning to sing.”

    The philosophy fit well into the theme of this year’s powwow – “Empowerment through Education.”

    Cote’s drum was set up on the east side of the Adams Center arena. Even as she spoke, another of the professional drum groups on the west side launched into a song with a pulsing beat.

    “We’re not entering into the contest because we’re not trying to say we’re the best or nothing,” Cote said. “We’re just honoring our way of life to sing and be one with the creator and earth.”
    Cote, who’ll turn 61 in June, said sometimes during the summer powwows she’ll notice a small boy or girl nearby watching the group.

Read the rest of the story.

And don’t miss the video of Kyi-Yo.

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Kyi-yo powwow kicks off today at University of Montana

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

A young dancer at the 2011 Kyi-Yo Celebration. TOM BAUER/Missoulian)

A young dancer at the 2011 Kyi-Yo Celebration. (Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian)

One of the country’s oldest college powwows, the 44th Annual Kyi-Yo Pow Wow, will begin Friday at the University of Montana in Missoula. Grand Entry begins at the Adams Center at 7 p.m. Friday, then at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The event is a celebration full of music, drumming and dancing. If you’re in the Missoula area head out to the event.

And, check out the Missoulian’s coverage of the event. Also, UM’s student newspaper, the Kaimin, recently detailed some of the challenges this year’s organizers have faced as they plan the giant celebration. The story also notes the historic significance of the powwow:

    Kyi-Yo, which translates to bear in the Blackfoot language, was founded in the 1950s, Alvernaz said, and its mission is promoting pride and positive identity in Native American culture among students at UM, according to the group’s website. Alvernaz said the group aims to educate the Missoula community through dance, music and social interactions.

More information can be found on the Kyi-Yo website.

Jenna Cederberg


Blackfeet Nation lays warrior to rest

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A typical kid from Great Falls, Mont., Cpl. Antonio Burnside re-enlisted in 2010 for a second tour to serve his country in the Middle East.

Many Hides, as he was known to his Blackfeet family, was killed in action April 6 in Afghanistan.

David Murray of the Great Falls Tribune, spoke with Burnside’s mother about the warrior and how he lived his short life:

Annie Burnside, mother of Cpl. Antonio Burnside, who was killed on April 6 while performing operations with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, holds a press conference on Tuesday evening at Blackfeet tribal headquarters. She will lay her son to rest today in Browning. (Photo courtesy of the Great Falls Tribune: TRIBUNE PHOTO/RION SANDERS)

    Tony, as he was known by his friends, spent much of his childhood in Great Falls. According to his mother, Annie Burnside, Tony loved to pull pranks on people at an early age — sometimes to his mother’s dismay. Annie recalled the time Tony came home with caterpillars crawling all over his face and said to her, “Mom, look at my new friends.” Annie told her son that his “new friends” were not welcome in her house, and to put the caterpillars back on the tree where he found them.

    Tony was a pretty typical kid, Annie said, attending grade school at Sunnyside Elementary School in Great Falls, and becoming a Boy Scout. He liked to cook — and loved to eat. Tony learned to embrace both Blackfeet culture and modern American traditions. He learned traditional Blackfeet dancing and singing, and became a starting pitcher on his youth baseball team. When the Burnsides took trips to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to visit family, Tony liked to go fishing and hiking in the mountains.

. . .

    In late 2007 or early 2008, Tony Burnside enlisted in the U.S. Army, Annie said. She added that she didn’t even know her then 26-year-old son was a recruit until she received a letter from the U.S. Army informing her that Tony was scheduled to report for basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. At first, Annie was upset with her son.

    “I wasn’t happy with his decision, but I stood by him as a mother should,” she said. “For me, there was a fear in me. There were so many bad things going on in the world. But Tony joined up when he was a little older, too. At 18, 19 or 20, things are a certain way, but at the age he joined, he knew what he was getting into. He knew what was coming.”

Read the rest of the story.

Jenna Cederberg

Native students at Montana State University have been awarded thousands of dollars for programs they designed and pitched to the school’s administrators in hopes of increasing recruitment and retention of Native students there.

KZBK of Bozeman, through the MSU New Service, reported that the school will distribute $104,000 to seven programs.

    The projects, which range from expanding recruitment and orientation events to include families of Native American students to providing mentors in a variety of disciplines, were selected by a six-member committee.

MSU Provost Martha Potvin called for ideas in December and a six person committee selected the winners.

Here is a list of the chosen projects:

    Rockin’ the Rez and Native Pathways to Success: A proposal submitted by Walter Fleming, Native American Studies, to extend funding of two successful MSU outreach programs will receive $14,500 over two years, for a total of $29,000. Since Rockin’ the Rez was started in 2007 to recruit students from Montana reservations and Indians living in urban communities, MSU’s Native student enrollment has increased by 83 percent. The funds will also support “Native Pathways to Success,” an orientation designed for Indian students.

    Smart Pens, Smarter Students: Fleming also submitted a proposal that was awarded $ 3,000 to give Smart Pens, or pens that are able to record everything a student hears or writes, to 15 incoming Native students. The students will meet weekly for mentoring in note taking and studying skills and use of new technology.

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