Archive for September, 2012

A trauma center on the University of Montana’s campus has received a $2.4 million grant to help study how and why PTSD affects Native children. Vince Devlin of the Missoulian has the fully story:

A $2.4 million grant will allow the National Native Children’s Trauma Center at the University of Montana to continue its work with Native American children who experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder for the next four years.

“We know that wherever there’s poverty, there are elevated levels of PTSD symptoms,” said Rick van den Pol, director of UM’s College of Education’s Institute for Educational Research and Service, who announced the grant. “Most American Indian reservations have high levels of poverty and low employment.”

The trauma center is based at the institute.

It provides training across the nation for mental health services that are “particularly effective in rural settings and schools.”

According to van den Pol, the training provided helps professionals attain results similar to 10 to 15 hours of one-to-one psychotherapy – except it can be done in group settings that help more children, sometimes in half the time.

In school-based settings, van den Pol said, two-thirds of children showed improvement in their PTSD symptoms and 55 percent showed depression reductions.

In addition to impoverished settings that may feature community or domestic violence, and alcohol or drug abuse, van den Pol said the center has found lots of PTSD symptoms in children on reservations associated with the death of loved ones.

“Reservation families tend to be close-knit, and in cases where children have lost a number of loved ones they may experience trouble sleeping, or anticipate that something awful is going to happen to them again, or a numbness” associated with avoiding or ignoring the stress, he said.

The other part of the problem: “On many reservations people are getting substandard health care,” van den Pol said, “and a lot of times there is little or no mental health care.”

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Montana wildfire hinders buffalo recovery efforts

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By Talli Nauman, Native Sun News, health and environment editor

In Montana, the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes’ new herd of bison was caught in the line of a September wildfire. (Courtesy photo by Jonathan Proctor, via Native Sun News)

FORT PECK, Mont. — A 14,000-acre wildfire on Fort Peck Reservation in northeastern Montana burned through the tribal buffalo range, leaving 10 dead bison in its wake, Defenders of Wildlife communications associate John Motslinger said Sept. 17.
Earlier reports on the so-called Brookman fire put the bison fatality count at two, after the Sept. 11 and 12 blazes swept through most of the 2,100-acre range where the bison were grazing.

“It’s heartbreaking to lose these 10 bison after the tribes at Fort Peck have waited so long and worked so hard for their return,” said Defenders of Wildlife bison expert Jonathan Proctor.

The casualties were among 82 genetically pure bison the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes at Fort Peck procured from their original home in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park earlier this year.

Proctor, in collaboration with Fort Peck’s Fish & Game Department Director Robbie Magnan, said the rest of the herd will be moved to another range while tribal wildlife managers rebuild the charred pasture’s fence.

The recently reintroduced herd consisted of 61 adults and 21 calves.

“Sadly, eight adult bison and two calves died in the fast-moving fire or were put down as a result of injuries caused by the fire,” Motslinger said.

The cause of the fire is unknown. It apparently started a few miles west of the bison pasture along a county road connecting Scobey and Wolf Point, two rural outposts on the high, windy plains, where gusts reaching 40 mph fanned the flames.

“Fort Peck Fish & Game will have their work cut out for them,” Motslinger said. They must quickly rebuild the fence that was completed less than two months ago, he said.

The adult bison were transferred to the reservation in March from a quarantine facility outside of Yellowstone, where some of them had been held for more than five years as part of a herd restoration effort to provide genetically pure bison stock.

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Native Vote Action Week events get started across country

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Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day. The week of Sept. 23-29 is Native Vote Action Week.

Both are aiming to raise awareness about the importance of voting and make sure it’s easier for everyone to get out and make sure their voices heard come November.

ICTMN’s Mark Trahant has a breakdown of Native Vote week and its importance. According to ICTMN, more than 35,000 people in 130 communities across the country are participating in the events.

    “Now is a crucial time for Indian country to work together to get Native Voters registered and ready to go to make our voice heard on November 6th as we participate in national and state elections,” National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel said. Native Vote Action Week is a response to Keel’s call during the January 2012 State of Indian Nations, for the largest Native voter turnout in history. “The Native vote counts for our people, our rights, and our culture. We must raise our voice and remember, that every Native vote counts.”

    . . .

    Native Vote events this week include registration drives at tribal colleges, tribal offices and health centers.

What are you waiting for? Registration and voting is easy.

    One partner in the Native Vote campaign is TurboVote. There is a voter registration wizard on the Native Vote Facebook page. The idea is to “make voting by mail as easy as renting a DVD from Netflix. Or sign up at the and never miss another election!”

    The software works as promised. It’s no different than signing up for Netflix or any other commercial account. The next step is that would-be-voters will get a registration form in the mail along with a prepaid envelope. Sign and you’re done.

    It’s the same for voting. Once registered another form will be sent asking for an absentee ballot. Sign it, send it off in a pre-printed, stamped envelope and you’re done.

    E-mails, texts and other reminders will be sent to make sure that ballot gets in the mail.

Jenna Cederberg


Vandal use acid, drill to destroy aboriginal petroglyphs

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The dark discoloration spots show where petroglyphs and pictograms were reportedly destroyed by vandals. (Photo by Chris Davis/Pincher Creek Voice, via ICTMN)

A Piikani First Nation historian discovered a devastating scene last week at sacred Glenwood Erratic site near Pincher Creek in southern Alberta.

ICTMN has the full report:

    A rock drill, acid and a power washer; it’s not the beginning of a joke about a hardware store—it’s what was used by cultural vandals to destroy aboriginal pictograms and petroglyphs on a boulder in Alberta, Canada.

    The damage was discovered when historian Stan Knowlton, Piikani First Nation, went to photograph and test the markings on the Glenwood Erratic near Pincher Creek in southern Alberta on September 9.

    “It seems a little coincidental that the night before I was planning to go in with a high definition camera to record the markings, someone in a truck brings in a generator or compressor, a large hammer drill, maybe lights and a ladder and decimates the very thing I was hoping to preserve,” Knowlton said a report, titled “Desecration of Glenwood Erratic,” which the Pincher Creek Voice published with its story.

    Knowlton pointed out in his report that this is just the latest in a string of vandalized pictogram and petroglyph sites in Alberta and thinks someone is out to destroy evidence that could prove the Blackfoot First Nations had a written language before European migration.

    “I suspect the link to this destruction is to nullify my long held claim that the Blackfoot had a written language before missionaries arrived, which could force archeologists to rewrite history,” Knowlton wrote in his report.

    The writings on the erratic—a rock that differs in size and shape from the rock surrounding it, having been transported from its place of origin by glacial action—were highlighted and preserved using red ochre.

    “Blackfoot/Cree Blackfoot is the older version of syllabic writing,” he told the Pincher Creek Voice. “This glacial erratic was dropped here about 10,000 years ago. It’s hard to date the writings. It would have been possible to carbon date the oils in the red ochre.” With the ochre washed away, Knowlton may not be able to date it at all.

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Oregon residents help Native American icon pay rent

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Most everyone in and around Ashland, Ore., know Agnes Baker Pilgrim. According to the Medford Register-Guard, Pilgrim is the oldest living descendant of the Takelma people and serves as a Native American spiritual elder and indigenous stateswoman and the likeness of the 20-foot-tall wooden totem­-style sculpture that greets visitors in downtown Ashland.

Not many people knew the 88-year-old was struggling to make ends meet.

But when word got out, the community stepped up.

    “A group of people in Southern Oregon and other places help to pay Grandma’s bills and rent every month, but now her bills and rent have gone up in the last few years, and the amount of people who donate has dwindled because the economy is bad.”

    As September approached, there were no funds in the account, so DiMicele decided to create a “virtual birthday party” for Baker Pilgrim on Facebook as an event, to try to raise money for the elder for her birthday.

    “So many people love her and appreciate the work she does, but a lot of people don’t realize she doesn’t have a way to pay her bills and rent,” said DiMicele.

The birthday party fund raised money to help cover Pilgrim’s needs and supporters hope the donations will keep coming in. Many in the community saw the donations as a small way to thank Pilgrim for all her contributions to the area.

    In her earlier years she worked as a bouncer at a nightclub, a barber in a jail, a scrub nurse at a hospital, raced stock cars and managed a restaurant, all of which no doubt prepared her for her role as mother of three sons and three daughters, having married three times in her life.

    She is now the real-life grandmother of 18, great-grandmother of 27 and great-great-grandmother of one.

    Baker Pilgrim was not available for comment as she was traveling to Pendleton to give offerings of berries and buffalo meat to prisoners in the state correctional facility there.

    “If we can pay her rent for a while, then we can do fundraising to support her projects she wants to do, like the Salmon Ceremony,” said DiMicele.

    “The money that goes into the fund only goes to support her needs like rent and bills, or if she has a health emergency.”

    After Baker Pilgrim decided to shift her life in the early 1970s, she took on the medicine name of her Takelma great-grandmother, “Taowhyee,” or Morningstar.

    From 1974 to 1989 she worked as a manager and counselor at the United Indian Lodge in Crescent City, Calif.

    There she focused on alcohol-related problems, prevention, intervention and rehabilitation.

Jenna Cederberg

It’s easy to forget, but there are more than two political parties in America.

As Mark Trahant reports for ICTMN, libertarian Ron Paul won’t be on the NOvember ticket when American decides but Gary Johnson will in 47 states.

How will that affect how Indian Country votes? Trahant examines Johnson’s political history:

    Ron Paul’s supporters are on an almost religious crusade to remake America. A smaller America, less government, and a national security policy that depends on oceans more than it does an United States presence around the world.

    There’s even a dedicated band of Native American supporters on Facebook, including Russell Means who endorsed Paul several months ago via YouTube.

    The only thing is Paul wasn’t able to win a single state in the Republican primary and lost to a “moderate” Mitt Romney. His fans aren’t happy.

    So what now?

    Paul himself has hinted that he might not vote for Romney. He told Fox News last month that he’s still undecided because Gary Johnson will be on the ballot in 47 states.

    Johnson is a former Republican candidate for president now the Libertarian Party’s nominee. He’s also the former two-term governor of New Mexico.

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Luana Beavers Sampson of Hot Springs celebrates Wednesday morning after cashing her settlement check at Eagle Bank in Polson. Members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes received $10,000 each as their part of the settlement with the United States government, known as the Salazar settlement. (Photo by Kurt Wilson/of the Missoulian)

By Tristan Scott of the Missoulian:

POLSON – One after another, members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes emerged from Eagle Bank on Wednesday with a broad smile and a thick envelope.

“I’m getting a white Impala tomorrow,” said an elated Barbara Finley, who is one of approximately 7,850 enrolled members who received checks for $10,000 in the mail on Wednesday morning as about half of a $150 million settlement with the United States government was distributed across the Flathead Indian Reservation.

The dispersal is part of a $1 billion settlement in a lawsuit initially filed by the Nez Perce Tribe being paid out to 44 tribes across the nation for mismanaged assets and natural resources held in trust by the government for the tribes.

Known as the “Salazar settlement,” it is separate from the Cobell lawsuit that the federal government settled for $3.4 billion.

The Salazar settlement was for mismanagement of assets and natural resources held by the tribes as a whole, and the $150 million settlement with the CSKT appears to be one of the largest.

“My trailer’s paid off as of today,” said Randy Milliron.

Members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council are still discussing what to do with the remaining balance of the $150 million, which has not automatically gone into the general fund. Among the options being considered are elder care, education, economic development, language and culture preservation, and land acquisition.

But some tribal members are actively campaigning to have the full amount distributed to individuals, and on Wednesday morning, as a long line snaked out of the tribally owned Eagle Bank in Polson, which issued the checks, and petitions to the Bureau of Indian Affairs circulated through the crowd.

“They come out of the bank and you can see the relief on their face. They haven’t felt that way in a long time,” said Revan Rogers, who wore a “100 percent” sticker, and by noon had gathered several hundred signatures supporting full dispersal of the settlement. “This actually helps the membership. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime windfall.”

While the council has made no decision on what to do with the money, Rogers said placing it into a general fund would be misguided, calling it a “black hole.” In June she organized a group called the People’s Voice, and hopes that with enough signatures the BIA will override the council’s resolution.

“It’s overwhelming. The people want their money,” she said. “This is a new beginning for them. It may be as simple as a new washer and dryer, and a refrigerator. But it’s a new beginning.”

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Banks on the Flathead Reservation are bracing for a flurry of activity when roughly 7,850 enrolled members each receive settlement checks for $10,000 apiece this week.

The money is from the $150 million the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes received from the “Salazar Settlement” paid out to 44 tribes across the nation for mismanaged assets and natural resources held in trust by the government for the tribes.

Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin talked with bank employees to see how they’re planning to deal with the expected flood of people.

    “It’s been a little hectic,” Eagle Bank President Martin Olsson said Friday, and he anticipates the four-window bank will be challenged come Wednesday, and possibly beyond.

    “I fully anticipate we will have more people than we will be able to accommodate on Wednesday,” he said. “We’ve encouraged people to wait until Thursday or Friday, when the lines might not be as long.”

    The bank has extended its lobby hours to 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each of those days, Olsson said, but can’t go beyond that and still get the books closed out. At 5:30 p.m., the doors will have to close no matter how many people are still in line, he said.

    The checks will not be cashed at the bank’s two drive-up lanes.

    “I have concerns on how it will unfold, and impact traffic at the bank,” Olsson said. “I anticipate fairly good lines outside the bank.”

. . .

    Other banks and credit unions were making special preparations as well for customers who are tribal members, with virtually all banks and credit unions indicating the checks would have to be brought into the main branches – i.e., no cashing them at convenience locations such as grocery stores, or at drive-through facilities.

    The casino at the Kwa Taq Nuk Resort in Polson posted signs saying it would not cash the checks.

    Lake County Bank in St. Ignatius ran an advertisement in the Sept. 5 Valley Journal advising people it would only cash the $10,000 checks for tribal members who are already bank customers, and would put a cap on the dollar amount of cash the bank would turn over.

    “You may contact the bank to find out this limit, and there may be a fee associated with cashing the check,” the bank said in the ad. “During this time no new accounts will be opened and lending activity may also be affected.“

    A valid photo ID will be required to enter the bank’s lobby when it cashes the checks on Sept. 12, 13 and 14, the ad also said.

    Community Bank said it would have security guards at its main branches in Ronan and Polson, and also require IDs to enter.

Jenna Cederberg


Denise Juneau takes main stage at DNC

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Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau is the first Native American woman to win a statewide election in U.S. history and on Wednesday night Juneau took the main stage at the Democratic National Convention.

Denise Juneau, Montana state superintendent of public instruction, addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Juneau, a member of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes, took the time to speak to the importance of education and commend the Obama Administration’s work to bolster it.

The Missoulian state bureau reported on the speech:

    HELENA – Speaking to the Democratic National Convention, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau on Wednesday night praised President Barack Obama for making historic investments in higher education and making college more affordable.

    “As Democrats, we believe that every child, regardless of background or ability, is entitled to an excellent education,” Juneau said in remarks prepared for delivery. “Our determination to strengthen our schools to provide a 21st century education for every child drives us to work to reelect President Barack Obama.

    “President Obama knows that education is the best investment an individual can make in themselves, that a family can make in its children, that a nation can make in its people.”

    Juneau told the crowd at the convention in Charlotte, N.C., that she was proud to be there as a Montanan, as an educator, as a Democrat, as a member of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes and as the first Native American woman to win a statewide election in U.S. history.

    Her parents, Stan and former state Sen. Carol Juneau, now of Great Falls, told her that education was the path to success, she said, and they showed her by taking her to Head Start while they were pursuing college degrees. Both Denise and Carol Juneau are delegates to the convention.

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Purebred Yellowstone bison born at Bronx Zoo

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Genetically pure bison from Yellowstone Park were transferred to one reservation in Montana early this summer.

In this July 4, 2012 photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a male American bison calf walks with its surrogate mother at the Bronx Zoo. The purebred Yellowstone bison was born at the Bronx Zoo on June 20, 2012 after scientists were able to successfully implant a genetically pure embryo into a the commercial bison joining the calf. (Courtesy photo: AP Photo/Wildlife Conservation Society, Julie Larsen Maher)

It turns out, that’s not the only place the bison were being relocated. As Billings Gazette reporter Brett French reports, the Bronx Zoo has been involved in a somewhat covert operation to bring a purebred bison there.

And such a calf was born there in June after a successful embryo imlant, but the zoo only announced the birth in late August.

The zoo and Colorado State University announced Thursday that the surrogate bison gave birth to a healthy male calf at the zoo on June 20.

    In October 2011, a team led by reproductive physiologist Jennifer Barfield took embryos from Yellowstone bison kept at a federal facility at the university, washed them free of disease and implanted them in a group of surrogates. An ultrasound two months later revealed that one was pregnant and that bison was taken to the zoo in New York City, along with the other bison, in April.

    While many bison have been bred with cattle, Yellowstone National Park has one of the world’s largest and most genetically pure bison herds. However, about 40 percent test positive for exposure to brucellosis, which can cause pregnant animals to miscarry. Concern about the disease has prevented the animals from being taken out of the park to reproduce.

    The zoo and Barfield both said it was the first time a genetically pure bison has been born as a result of an embryo transfer.

    “It gives us an avenue to bring some of their valuable genes out of the Yellowstone population,” Barfield said of the technique.

Read the full version of the story here.

Jenna Cederberg