Archive for October, 2012


S.D. United Church of Christ welcomes first Native pastors

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

From left, Hampton Andrews, Sicangu Lakota, Norman Blue Coat, Cheyenne River Dakota, and Mike Kills Pretty Enemy, Hunkpapa Lakota, made history in South Dakota when they were ordained as pastors at the state United Church of Christ conference in Pierre Sunday, Oct. 21. (Photo by Lisa Lynott-Carroll)

By Lisa Lynott-Carroll, Native Sun News correspondent:

PIERRE — Sunday, Oct. 21, was a crisp, sunny fall afternoon in Pierre.

Outside the 100-year-old First Congregational United Church of Christ there was just enough wind to send leaves swirling down sidewalks and across streets. Inside, the haunting but hopeful notes of a traditional flute, played by Byron Buffalo, floated through the packed church, setting the mood.

The occasion was a historic first for the South Dakota Conference of the United Church of Christ: the ordination of three Native American pastors, Hampton Andrews, Norman Blue Coat and Mike Kills Pretty Enemy.

The ceremony, a blend of Lakota and Christian music and tradition and sponsored by the Dakota Association of the Council for American Indian Ministry and the South Dakota Conference of the United Church of Christ, was the culmination of many years of service to the church by the three men.

In the United Church of Christ, pastors must be formally recommended for ordination by a specific UCC church; usually, it’s a church they’ve served for a good amount of time.

For Norman Blue Coat, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who’s worked in ministry since 1963 and who was an Episcopalian priest until 1999, when he began serving in the UCC, the Virgin Creek United Church of Christ in La Plant recommended him for ordination, both as a pastor for the church and for the denomination itself.

Pastor Blue Coat stated he was drawn to the UCC for many reasons, his primary one being its “open and inclusive nature.”

For Mike Kills Pretty Enemy, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe whose previous work includes teaching and dormitory management at Bureau of Indian Affairs schools as well as diesel mechanic, and who has served as a Roman Catholic deacon, the Elk Horn Hill UCC in Little Eagle, where he’s served as pastor for several years, did the honors in recommending him for ordination.

The South Dakota UCC Conference considered Kills Pretty Enemy’s training in the Catholic Church as counting toward his pastoral education and experience and he has continued his pastoral training at the Eagle Butte Learning Center.

Read the rest of this entry »


Native artist fined for violating Migratory Bird Treaty Act

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

Tlingit carver Archie Cavanaugh has been slapped with $2,005 worth of fines after he tried to sell two pieces of his art including feathers from birds covered by the Migratory Bird Treat Act – a law Cavanaugh and many others in Alaska had never heard of.

Anchorage Daily News’ Mike Dunham has the full story:

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — For hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, Natives of Southeast Alaska have paid artisans to create tools, clothing and ceremonial regalia adorned with feathers.

    So contemporary Tlingit carver Archie Cavanaugh was startled last month when U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service personnel told him that items he had advertised for sale violated federal laws. Specifically: a carved hat featuring the wings and tail of a raven, and a headdress, or “shakee.át,” topped with the feathers of a flicker, a robin-size relative of the woodpecker.

    “They told me that under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act they can charge me up to $10,000 and throw me in jail for a couple of years,” Cavanaugh said. “And they told me that under the Lacey Act they can charge me up to $100,000 and put me in jail for 10 years. It was very scary. I went into complete depression.”

    In shock, he removed the ads from the Internet sites where they’d been posted and took the feathers off the items. But that only seemed to make the problem worse.

Read the rest of this entry »

A pile of ancient bison bones from a prehistoric burial site on the Crow Indian Reservation sits exposed after being dug up by a backhoe. (Courtesy photo, via the Great Falls Tribune)

News broke last week that a 2000-year-old bison bone site had been destroyed last summer by a backhoe doing work at a mine site.

The Great Falls Tribune had the story:

    The site, known as the Sarpy Creek Bison Kill site, was first discovered during a resource identification effort required under the National Historic Preservation Act for the company to expand the mine.

    The largest bison bone bed was estimated to cover almost 3,000 square meters and contained the remains of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of butchered bison remains and prehistoric spear points dating back to the Late Archaic period, Utah State University anthropologist Judson Finley said.

This week, the Tribune is reporting that those knowledgeable about the sites and others involved with the project are divided on the significance of the site. Reporter David Murray talked with one archaeologist is urging quick action to help save any artifacts remaining in the area.

    Those closely associated with the excavation have described the Sarpy Creek Bison Kill site as being of relatively minor scientific importance — one of hundreds of similar sites scattered across the Western United States and of little direct cultural significance to the Crow people.

    “Those bones were discarded,” said Dale Old Horn, who served as Crow Tribal Historic Preservation Officer when the data recovery plan for the Sarpy Creek site was formulated. “The cultural significance of bones like that is food use, the recovery of tallow and bone marrow, and whatever items are collected for bone tools. The only other culturally important things were arrow heads. Crow cultural practice for bison bones after the food value is removed is to discard them. Anything that we kill for food we discard the bones, just as they did those many, many years ago. Any intimated cultural significance is conjured up.”

    Critics of the excavation describe the now badly damaged site as having been one of the largest bone beds of its kind on the northern plains, and of major cultural significance not only to the Crow people, but to many native peoples as well as every archaeologist working in the area.

    “It’s not just a pile of bones,” said Burdick Two Leggins, current Crow Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. “It’s a sacred site. It’s a place where some people prayed and left offerings. For all these years it was there, and nobody came and messed with it. Now, just a handful of individuals have allowed somebody to put a backhoe to it.”

    Utah State University anthropologist Judson Finley, who has personally examined the Sarpy Creek Bison Kill site on several occasions, said there is some evidence of a ceremonial closure of the butchering site generations ago. This is indicated by the discovery of several large stone projectile points that show little sign of use or wear, and which may have been left behind as a ceremonial offering.

Read the rest of the story.

Jenna Cederberg


Activist, actor Russell Means dead at 72

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

Russell Means (Courtesy of Native Sun News)

Thousands mourned the passing Monday of Russell Means, the Oglala Sioux who the New York Times called “arguably the nation’s best-known Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.”

Means died Monday from esophageal cancer.

NYT’s reporter Robert McFadden described Means in his story memorializing Means Tuesday:

    Strapping, ruggedly handsome in buckskins, with a scarred face, piercing dark eyes and raven braids that dangled to the waist, Mr. Means was, by his own account, a magnet for trouble — addicted to drugs and alcohol in his early years, and later arrested repeatedly in violent clashes with rivals and the law. He was tried for abetting a murder, shot several times, stabbed once and imprisoned for a year for rioting.

    He styled himself a throwback to ancestors who resisted the westward expansion of the American frontier. With theatrical protests that brought national attention to poverty and discrimination suffered by his people, he became arguably the nation’s best-known Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

Hundreds of other media outlets wrote about Means and his impact on Native Country throughout his life.

Indian Country Today Media Network included a comment from Means’ son in its story:

    According to his son, Scott Means, “My dad now walks among our ancestors. He began his journey to the spirit world at 4:44 a.m. with the morning star, at his home and ranch in Porcupine[, South Dakota]. There will be four opportunities for the people to honor his life; to be announced at a later date. Thank you for your prayers and continued support. We love you. As our dad and husband would say, ‘May the Great Mystery continue to guide and protect the paths of you and your loved ones.’”

Means spoke openly about his fight with cancer last year, saying he had turned to traditional treatment methods after radiation left him weighing 164 pounds. In December, he told Native Sun News he’d beaten the disease. has several links to stories on Means’ passing.

Jenna Cederberg


Native American fashion magazine hunts for investors

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

Kelly Holmes launched her Native American fashion magazine in June. The online-only issue if full of color, fashion and inspiration, not to mention Native women who are rarely depicted in mainstream fashion magazines.

As Kristi Eaton of the Associated Press reports, Native Max is a type of publication almost nonexistent in the world of fashion magazines.

    Native Max focuses on indigenous people, places and cultures with the same sleek photography found in fashion magazines but without the stereotypical headdresses and tomahawks sometimes seen in the mainstream media. The premiere issue, which is online only, features interviews with Native American artists, musicians, designers and models, as well as sections on health, beauty and sports.

    “There’s really no magazine, a Native-owned and operated, Native-designed magazine. There’s nothing like this magazine out there. The ones that do have stuff focused on younger people, they’re really vulgar and very revealing,” said Holmes, 21, who now lives in Denver.

The first issue was published online in June. Holmes is not searching hard for investors to help get the second December issue – which will be print only – off the ground.

    Rhonda LeValdo, president of the Native American Journalists Association, said Native Max and other Native-focused media show American society that Native Americans are regular people, too.

    “They want to be models, movie stars, artists. I think that’s showing the regular side as opposed to that stereotype of just showing us in our dance regalia,” she said.

    The magazine’s nine staff members come from all over North America, including the Navajo Nation in Arizona and the Otomi and Yaqui nations in Mexico. Ad director and writer Angelica Gallegos, 20, of Denver, said she has enjoyed learning about new and up and coming Native American artists and musicians.

You can view the June issue of Native Max, featuring “America’s Next Top Model” Mariah Watchman as the cover model – here.

Jenna Cederberg

“In his pictures, ordinary people look extraordinary.”
– Timothy Egan

Apache girl and papoose, circa 1903. (Photo by Edward S. Curtis, via NYT Lens blog)

Longtime reporter and writer Timothy Egan dusted off the images made by photographer Edward Curtis made through is lens as he examines the volumes of photos Curtis took of Native American tribes across reservations in the late 1800s. Egan has written a book, “Short Nights of the Shadow Caster” about Curtis and his work, some of which as lost in the decades since he made the fantastic images.

Egan previews the book for the New York Times’ Lens blog.

    Curtis was a celebrity, the Annie Leibovitz of his day. He gave up a life as a prominent portrait photographer to start his Indian epic, and spent more than 30 years producing the 20 volumes of “The North American Indian.” It was called “the most gigantic undertaking since the making of the King James edition of the Bible” by The New York Herald.

You can read excerpts of Egan’s book on Curtis at Lens, and of course, see many of the photographers photos. Curtis spent decades making the images.

    But it was also one of the largest anthropological enterprises ever undertaken by a single man. When he started in 1896, Indians were at their low ebb, with a total population that had dwindled to less than 250,000. Many scholars thought they would disappear within a generation’s time. Curtis set out to document lifestyle, creation myths and language. He recorded more than 10,000 songs on a primitive wax cylinder, and wrote down vocabularies and pronunciation guides for 75 languages.

    Along the way, he never denied asking people to pose. He paid them for it. He asked his subjects to dress in the clothes of their fathers and mothers. To me, this is no different than, say, going to Scotland to photograph different family clans, and then asking someone if they would pose in the kilts of their grandparents.

Egan calls the images “immortal.”

Jenna Cederberg

Blackfeet tribal member Tom Rodgers talks to reporters outside the Federal Courthouse in Billings on Wednesday. (Photo by LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff)

A suit brought against election officials across Montana last week points out that some Natives living on reservations in the vast state have to drive 113.8 miles round trip to “exercise their constitutional right to vote.”

As Billings Gazette reporter Clair Johnson reports, the suit was brought by a group including residents of the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations. They filed their suit against Montana state and county election officials in federal court on Wednesday, seeking equal access to voting through satellite offices.

    Plaintiff Marty Other Bull, a Crow tribal member and registered voter who lives in Crow Agency, votes in person. While he has a greater opportunity to vote at the Big Horn County election office in Hardin, about 15 miles away, Other Bull said many tribal members in Wyola, Lodge Grass and Pryor have to travel farther.

    “For us to be traveling to Hardin, it’s a hardship for most of us. This is a good step to work together,” Other Bull said.

    The lawsuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction ordering state and county elections officers to locate satellite county offices with in-person absentee voting and late voter registration services in Fort Belknap, Lame Deer and Crow Agency for the full 30 days as authorized by Montana law for the 2012 general election and future elections.

Only one county has attempted to help Native voters by establishing an election information office in a reservation town. But county officials determined recently “logistical hurdles” wouldn’t allow the office to be set up.

    Registered voters in Montana’s largest cities, which are mostly non-Indian, may vote early at their local county clerk and recorder’s office starting 30 days before Election Day, the suit said.

    “In stark contrast, tribal members of the Fort Belknap, Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations must travel long distances to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” the suit said.

    “Allowing a non-Indian majority county to establish in-person absentee locations at county courthouses but denying the same level of voter access to Indian majority communities is evidence of an invidious discrimination by state and county officials,” the suit said.

    Five of Montana’s 56 counties have satellite election offices, the suit said.

. . .

    Extreme poverty makes it harder for an Indian on a reservation to vote than, for example, a resident of Custer, a small nonreservation town about 45 miles from Yellowstone County’s election office in Billings, Blackfeet Tribal member Tom Rodgers said.

    “Members of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation drive a startling 113.8 miles round trip to Forsyth to exercise their constitutional right to vote. In taking its action, the Rosebud County Commission failed to take into consideration the Northern Cheyenne’s poverty,” the suit said.

Jenna Cederberg


‘Medicine wheel model’ helps heal through horsemanship

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

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

RAPID CITY — More and more people are adopting the Medicine Wheel Model to Natural Horsemanship, not only for equestrian proficiency but also to achieve mental and physical health improvements, practitioners revealed during an event at the civic center and fairgrounds last week.

The model, developed by Northern Cheyenne Phillip Whiteman Jr. and Oglala Lakota Lynette Two Bulls, of Lame Deer, Mont., was the centerpiece of the Fourth Annual Healing the Sacred Child Through the Spirit of the Horse conference.

“We use horses to connect to the human spirit, to heal the children,” Whiteman told Native Sun News. “It’s growing, it’s a movement.”

“We take this model and it teaches philosophical values we can use in our life,” Two Bulls said. “It uses right-brain circular thinking for reconnecting to the spirit, place of origin and values that our ancestors lived by.”

Whiteman demonstrated the model with a horse in the arena, explaining how each one of the quarters of a horse corresponds to a quadrant of the medicine wheel, sacred symbol of the circle of life “where we are all connected – man, animal and all living things,” as he puts it.

A former champion saddle bronc rider, Whiteman has abandoned the use of power tactics in horse handling, shunning manipulation of the predator-prey relationship. He stresses instead the importance of fostering a reciprocal relationship between human and horse.

Read the rest of this entry »


Montana woman starts reservation dog rescue program

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

Sheri Lee carries a puppy to her car at a home in Crow Agency. The owner of the home had been feeding the stray dogs in the neighborhood and gave Lee five to spay and adopt out through Rez Dog Rescue. (Photo by CASEY PAGE/Gazette Staff)

Sheri Lee’s nickname is “Dogmaw.”

The Montana woman who lives just outside the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations in eastern Montana has earned the name through her work rescuing abandoned and homeless reservation dogs.

Billings Gazette reporter Susan Olp spent some time with Lee last week and shared a little about her work as the founder of Rez Dog Rescue.

    The 50-year-old Billings woman is immersed in the world of reservation dogs. She finds them — mostly puppies but some adults — nurses them back to health, when necessary, and cares for them at her home until new owners can be found.

    Her motivation is simple.

    “If I thought that I let a dog die, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night,” she said.

    Though she spends endless hours at the task, it only fills her off hours. Lee works full time in sales and customer service at Lumen FX, a lighting agency in downtown Billings.

    She started doing dog rescue about eight years ago. Neither reservation has an animal shelter to care for stray pets.

    She began by helping Charlotte Heinle in Hardin, who headed up Help Every Pet. When Heinle moved to Wyoming, Lee created Rez Dog Rescue.

Lee drives through towns to find dogs, but also often receives calls from people who have dogs or litters of puppies.

    “If I see some puppies, I’ll go up and ask the people, explain what I’m doing and ask if they’d like me to find homes for the dogs,” Lee said. “And if they say no, that is what it is.”

    A couple of teachers in Lame Deer and Lodge Grass also bring litters of puppies they find to Lee. The animals are not initially as cute and cuddly as the ones on display.

    “They usually have a lot of fleas, and tick season was terrible this year,” Lee said. “They’re usually very, very wormy, malnourished, and about 50 percent are mangy.”

    Lee does everything necessary to get them into good health. Then she takes them to a vet to get them spayed or neutered, vaccinates them and puts them up for adoption or they are adopted through Billings Animal Rescue Kare (BARK).

    She makes them available on and at PetSmart. To help cover the cost of caring for the dogs, the puppies go for $150 and adults range from free to $100 each.

Jenna Cederberg

Does Christopher Columbus deserve a national holiday?

It was decided long ago by the powers that be that, yes, he did for his part in discovering the “New World”. And on the 2012 calendar, Oct. 8 is Columbus Day. All government agencies are closed and most banks in honor of the occasion.

At the same time, some states are celebrating Native American Day. Many Natives see Columbus as the man who brought disease, destruction and began a genocide of the people already living in the “New World.”

With that in mind, the students at Hononegah High School in Illinois looked at the historical facts and pondered the question “Does Columbus deserve a holiday?”

Rockford Register Star reporter Greg Stanley has the story on what the students found:

    “He’s a terrible man,” junior Patrick Bruckner said after finishing the project.

    “I don’t know if it’s just because the times were different,” junior Maddie Blackwell said uncertainly.
    While Columbus’ expedition introduced the Americas to Europe, began trade across the hemispheres and led to the later settlements, it was also brutal in its pursuit of gold, slaves and natural resources.

    Columbus’ journal shows that he sized up the natives as potential slaves the moment they swam out to greet the coming Spanish ships with gifts.

    “They have no iron,” he wrote. “Their spears are made of cane … . They would make fine servants … . With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

The teacher who assigned the project said the holiday, if nothing else, spurs good conversation and discussion about a significant historical event.

    History teacher James Sabathne, who assigned the project, said any misinformation about Columbus is less about myth and more about the emphasis of some truths over others.

    . . .

    “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write,” he wrote.
    Hawaii and Alaska do not celebrate Columbus Day. South Dakota instead celebrates Native Americans Day.

    Sabathne said he’s not for getting rid of the holiday.

    “That can diminish or keep it from being discussed,” he said. “This is a topic worth thinking about.”

Also worth reading on this Columbus Day, the Atlantic contributor Yoni Applebaum’s essay, “How Columbus Day Fell Victim to Its Own Success.”

Jenna Cederberg