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Christopher Columbus will likely lose his “day” in Seattle (Illustration courtesy of Wikipedia/ICTMN).

Columbus Day is about to go the way of the dinosaur in Seattle, where the city is expected to replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Richard Walker of Indian Country Today reports that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray anticipates signing a resolution to that effect on Oct. 13. Walker’s story says Matt Remle, a Hunkpapa Lakota educator, lobbied the city council for the change. The council was expected to approve the resolution Sept. 2, but held off because the mayor is required to sign resolutions within 10 days of approval and Murray wants to sign it on Oct. 13 – the 2014 date for Columbus Day.

Tulalip Tribes Council member Theresa Sheldon said it’s past time to stop honoring Christopher Columbus, whose exploration of the Caribbean for Spain included enslavement, rape, mutilation and murder.

“On behalf of all our indigenous and non-indigenous ancestors who established the United States of America, it’s a true blessing and about time that all citizens of [the] USA and the City of Seattle support the changing of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day,” Sheldon said.

“Columbus fed newborn babies to his dogs. He cut off the hands of the indigenous people if they refused to be his slave[s] … [He] started a sex trade of 10- to 12-year-old girls for men of privilege to rape.”

She added, “The notion that these Indigenous Peoples had no rights under the Spanish king and their religion, so these acts of terror were acceptable, is completely un-American. We would never support such a villain today. This is the first step in correcting the true history of the United States and recognizing the serious wrongs that were done to a beautiful and loving people, the indigenous people of the [Caribbean].”

Remle, meantime, told Indian Country Today he hopes the resolution will lead Seattle Public Schools to adopt indigenous history curricula, and encourage businesses, organizations and public institutions to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

 

 

Selectmen in Wiscasset, Maine, have voted to allow a private road to be named Redskins Drive, much to the displeasure of Maine Indian tribes (Photo courtesy of ICTMN).

 

In Washington D.C. an NFL owner won’t change his team’s longstanding nickname that many Native Americans find offensive, but in one community in Maine, selectmen are voting to put the same name on a previously unnamed road.

Indian Country Today reports that Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk Francis and former Chief James Sappier have asked the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen to rescind their vote that OK’d the naming of a private road as “Redskins Drive.”

The offensive word has been a contentious issue in Wiscasset for years. In 2012 after a bitter yearlong battle, the school committee voted 4-1 to change the Wiscasset High School’s mascot from Redskins to Wolverines.

Francis told the selectmen that Nation citizens appreciated sharing their history and perspectives on the use of the Redskins name with the people of Wiscasset during that battle. “We remain grateful for the understanding and good will those leaders demonstrated by changing the name of their mascot. We understand that change is difficult and that people may feel nostalgic about certain aspects of their past, but we cannot quietly accept a sentimentality that hurts our people.”

The word is so offensive to American Indians generally and particularly to Maine’s Wabanaki nations – the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac tribal nations—because it reminds them of a time when they were hunted by settlers and their bodies and scalps sold to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Frances wrote. “The 1755 Spencer Phips Proclamation placed a bounty specifically on my people, the Penobscot, offering payment up to 50 pounds for each man, woman and child. When scalps were brought in for payment, they were referred to as ‘redskins,’” Francis wrote.

In her ICTMN story, reporter Gale Courey Toensing interviewed one of the selectmen who voted to allow the name change, Bill Barnes.

Barnes told Toensing he did not think the name was either bad or offensive. When Toensing asked Barnes if he was Indian, he replied, “Nah, but I think what needs to be done is remember the Indians so they don’t get forgotten because if it hadn’t been for the Indians in this country the white man would have never survived.”

 

Native American girls as young as 12 are being targeted for sex trafficking as the Bakken oilfield boom unfolds in North Dakota and Montana.

Approximately 100 people attended a listening session hosted by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., at Fort Peck Community College concerning sex trafficking (Photo courtesy of Tester's office).

Approximately 100 people attended a listening session hosted by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., at Fort Peck Community College concerning sex trafficking (Photo courtesy of Tester’s office).

Indian Country Today Media Network reports that U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., held a listening session at Fort Peck Community College on the subject late last month.

The listening session was aimed at gathering more information from tribal leaders and local law enforcement regarding the spike in sex trafficking of underage girls, as well as other related crimes that have increased since the oil boom began in the Bakken region. Also among the panelists at Thursday’s session was United States Attorney Mike Cotter, who appeared at the event to voice the growing alarm shared by he and his colleagues in Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming, about the exploding industry of human trafficking involving mostly Native girls aged 12 to 14 who are being sold for sex.

“If you look around the rural regions of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, you would not expect to find 12-14 year old girls sold for sex on the Internet, or lured by an adult for sex or forced into a life of servitude by predators to sell their bodies to strangers,” Cotter told the audience of about 100 tribal leaders, community members and law enforcement. “It is hard to imagine but it is here in our region, and this corruption occurs with too much frequency and is more prevalent than one would imagine.”

Suzette Brewer of ICTMN reported that traffickers target young girls from low-income homes where one or both parents are absent. Many are already victims of child abuse and neglect and struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.

Tribal leaders said their police forces are underfunded, understaffed and “ill-equipped to take on Mexican cartels, who they say have infiltrated the region and are well-organized and armed with heavy weaponry, including machine guns,” Brewer reported.

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline buried some of their protest on May 31 and June 1.

Sacred red corn is planted in the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska by members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance (Photo by Mary Anne Andrei/Bold Nebraska).

Sacred red corn is planted in the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska by members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance (Photo by Mary Anne Andrei/Bold Nebraska).

Indian Country Today Media Network reports that members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance and their allies planted sacred Ponka red corn seeds on a Nebraska farm that is on the pipeline’s proposed route.

Members of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma performed a sacred corn planting ceremony led by Mekasi Horinek, the son of Casey Camp-Horinek, a long-time Native rights activist and environmentalist, and Amos Hinton, agricultural director of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma.

After the ceremony, the group hand-planted approximately four acres of sacred Ponka red corn seed (ICTMN noted the 19th-century spelling of the tribe name is still used for the corn).

“We’re going to stand together with the cowboys – the ranchers and farmers – in our Nebraska homeland,” said Horinek. “Together our families will plant sacred red corn seed in our ancestral soil. As the corn grows it will stand strong for us, to help protect and keep Mother Earth safe for our children, as we fight this battle against the Keystone XL pipeline.”

The planting was done on the farm of Art Tanderup outside Neligh, Nebraska. Tanderup said that in 1877 the people of Neligh helped the Ponca people by burying White Buffalo Girl, who had died on the Ponca Trail of Tears.

“Over 100 years later, that spirit of humanity continues as we join with our friends and neighbors in replenishing their sacred corn and fighting against Keystone XL,” Tanderup said.

Aaron Carapella’s decade-long project began by marking poster boards hanging on his bedroom walls.

Aaron Carapella's map shows locations of Indian tribes before their first contact with Europeans (Photo by Hansi Lo Wang/NPR)

Aaron Carapella’s map shows locations of Indian tribes before their first contact with Europeans (Photo by Hansi Lo Wang/NPR)

Today, reports Hansi Lo Wang at National Public Radio’s “Code Switch,” Carapella’s maps of the United States, Mexico and Canada show the original locations – and original names – of more than 600 Indian tribes, “many now forgotten and lost to history,” Wang writes.

“I think a lot of people get blown away by, ‘Wow, there were a lot of tribes, and they covered the whole country!’ You know, this is Indian land,” says Carapella, who calls himself a “mixed-blood Cherokee” and lives in a ranch house within the jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation.

For more than a decade, he consulted history books and library archives, called up tribal members and visited reservations as part of research for his map project. … So far, he has designed maps of the continental U.S., Canada and Mexico. A map of Alaska is currently in the works.

What really sets Carapella’s maps apart, a senior geographer at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian told Wang, is that they show both the original and commonly known names of tribes.

Some tribes, Doug Herman explains, were stuck with names chosen by European settlers that were often derogatory terms other tribes used to describe their rivals – such as “Comanche,” derived from the Ute word meaning “anyone who wants to fight me all the time.”

“It’s like having a map of North America where the United States is labeled ‘gringos’ and Mexico is labeled ‘wetbacks,’ ” Herman told NPR. “Naming is an exercise in power. Whether you’re naming places or naming peoples, you are therefore asserting a power of sort of establishing what is reality and what is not.”

Carapella calls them “a way to convey the truth in a different way.”

Indian country has lost one of its strongest, and most respected, voices.

Billy Frank Jr. spoke at an event to celebrate the removal of a dam on the Elwha River in 2011 (Photo by Richard Walker/ICTMN).

Billy Frank Jr. spoke at an event to celebrate the removal of a dam on the Elwha River in 2011 (Photo by Richard Walker/ICTMN).

Nisqually elder Billy Frank Jr. died Monday in Washington state at the age of 83.

As Indian Country Today Media Network reports, Frank fought for treaty rights in the Northwest – he was arrested more than 50 times while protesting for treaty fishing rights – and sovereignty throughout Indian Country.

He “guided opposing sides to agreement on how to protect natural resources, helped bring down two dams on the Elwha River (and) produced an Emmy Award-winning series on Indian country,” Richard Walker reported at ICTMN.”

He chaired the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for 34 years, served as a trustee of The Evergreen State College for seven.
Frank, whose honors included the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, was as comfortable in the Oval Office as he was in a tribal chairperson’s office.

“We in Indian country, collectively, will have to pick up the mantle,” state Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, said. “He was a giant in Indian country and we’re going to miss him.”

- Vince Devlin

The threat of a protest by the Westboro Baptist Church at the Alaska Native Heritage Center has galvanized more than 1,000 people on a Facebook page, Indian Country Today Media Network reports.

But the Anchorage Daily News says

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., protest outside funeral services for Sgt. Daniel Sesker in Ogden, Iowa, in 2006 (Photo by Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press).

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., protest outside funeral services for Sgt. Daniel Sesker in Ogden, Iowa, in 2006 (Photo by Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press).

there’s a good chance no one from the church will even show up.

ICTMN, in a story by Vincent Schilling, says Donna Willoya began the Facebook page, called “No Westboro Baptist Protest at our AK Native Heritage Center!” after the church announced a protest there on June 1.

“We are uniting as Alaskans to honor and embrace our cultural diversity, to preserve our heritage and to teach future generations the importance of acceptance & respect for all people” (Willoya wrote on Facebook).

Willoya also posted in the group that though people may get angry at the WBC members for wanting to protest, she wishes the Native community not to respond with violence and sink to their level.

The page had gathered nearly 1,600 members by Wednesday morning.

But Tegan Hanlon at the Anchorage Daily News contacted Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who said the Westboro Church’s announcements of protests are often publicity stunts.

“Typically, they will call the local press, get a scary story about these awful people coming to town and not show up,” Potok said. “And what sometimes happens is you’ll be expecting 50 people and a man and two small children show up.”
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ICTMN’s Schilling reported that the Westboro Baptist Church explained its “planned” protest at the heritage center thusly:

“… you make a religion out of the pagan idolatrous practices of past generations. There is nothing appealing or holy about the ‘heritage’ of the eleven ‘distinct cultures’ or ‘diverse population’ of Alaska. They walked in darkness and served idols of every kind, contrary to the direct commandment to have no gods before God.”

The Westboro Baptist Church is well-known for ignoring any concept of “love thy neighbor,” celebrating the funerals of American soldiers and claiming God “hates” homosexuals.

The newly crowned NCAA women’s basketball champion, Connecticut, began its title run last month at a tribally owned and operated arena.

The Connecticut Huskies celebrated their American Athletic Conference championship last month at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Photo courtesy of American Athletic Conference).

The Connecticut Huskies celebrated their American Athletic Conference championship last month at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Photo courtesy of American Athletic Conference).

As Indian Country Today Media Network reports, the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., part of a large casino, was host to the first-ever American Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament, won by UConn.

The 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun is the home court of the Mohegan-owned Connecticut Sun of the Women’s National Basketball Association. In 2013 it played host to the WNBA All Star game.

At the time the deal was announced last year, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority chief executive Mitchell Etess credited the casino’s collaboration with the Sun for the Mohegan Sun Arena scoring the opportunity to host the Big East women’s basketball tournament (which later became the American Athletic Conference, or AAC tournament). “This is what bringing the Connecticut Sun here has done for us, it has made us a true entertainment company, not just a gaming or hotel company,” Etess said.

Making the AAC tournament even more noteworthy for Native Americans, UConn – which went undefeated this season at 40-0 – had to get by a team featuring probably the best known Native American players in the college game this season.

As Mark Fogarty reported at ICTMN, Shoni and Jude Schimmel, who play for the University of Louisville, are sisters from the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon.

Louisville also advanced to the tournament championship game, but despite 20 points from Shoni Schimmel, the Cardinals fell 72-52 to UConn. The Huskies beat Notre Dame for the national championship Tuesday night.

- Vince Devlin

Since 2010, Albuquerque police have been involved in 37 shootings that have resulted in 23 deaths.

After a 10-hour protest over recent police shootings of Albuquerque men, riot police launch tear gas toward activists (Russell Contreras/Associated Press).

After a 10-hour protest over recent police shootings of Albuquerque men, riot police launch tear gas toward activists (Russell Contreras/Associated Press).

When Nos. 22 and 23 occurred on the same day last month, Indian Country Today Media Network reports, hundreds of people took to the streets to protest, and the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the 1,100-officer department.

Two of the 23 have been Native Americans, according to the ICTMN story by Alysa Landry.

“It’s become a public safety crisis,” said Bineshi Albert, of the Native American Voters Alliance in Albuquerque. “There’s outrage, surely, and good reason for people to be outraged.”

Even two Native fatalities is too high, said Albert, who is Chippewa and Yuchi. According to 2010 Census data, about 25,000 Natives live in Albuquerque, or less than 5 percent of the city’s total population.

“Two of 23 is significant,” Albert said. “It’s more than what it should be, given the population.”

Alfred Redwine, a Native, was shot after he allegedly opened fire on officers at a public housing complex March 16. The same day, police shot and killed a homeless man with a history of mental illness, James Boyd, following a standoff.

In 2010 another Native American, Len Fuentes, was killed after threatening officers with a knife.

“The community should not be afraid of law enforcement,” Albert said. “It’s a hard and even shameful thing to think that we live in a time when I have to tell my children how they have to behave when approached by a police officer, as opposed to telling my children that if they’re in trouble they can go to the police. It’s a sad situation, but I’m more fearful that the police will harm them.”

- Vince Devlin

How would a German festival to honor a German novelist find foes in Indian Country?

The Karl May Museum in Radebeul, Germany (Photo courtesy of Wikicommons/ICTMN)

The Karl May Museum in Radebeul, Germany (Photo courtesy of Wikicommons/ICTMN)

When it displays Native scalps, Indian Country Today Media Network reports.

The Karl May Festival, held in the Radebeul, Germany, hometown of the Karl May Museum, may draw protests when it is held on May 30 and June 1. Cecil Pavlat of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan, who has called on the museum for repatriation, has said he plans one.

When Mark Worth, a former news reporter and activist for Transparency International, learned that Native scalps were on display there, he called the museum in 2010 and spoke with its public relations director, André Kohler. He was informed that the museum did, indeed, have Native American scalps on display and more in storage.

Worth says that after being given the same line used by French auction houses to “successfully argue for their sale of Hopi and Apache sacred items as that country has no laws to protect Indigenous Peoples, and the items were rightfully in private collectors’ hands,” he was told the museum was a private institution, and was hung up on.

Karl May “spun imaginative tales about American Indians and the U.S. Old West well over 100 years ago” according to the ICTMN story by Red Haircrow.

Attempts by the U.S. Embassy to intervene apparently have not changed minds. Officials say they were told by museum staff that “Many Native Americans have visited over the years, and we haven’t received any complaints.”

- Vince Devlin