Archive for the ‘aboriginal’ Category

The producer and director of an acclaimed documentary about three teenage Mohawk girls growing up on a reserve in Canada is taking the concept to the next level.

Candadian blog TV, EH? posted a press release from Aboriginal Peoples Television Network announcing that Tracey Deer will executive produce a new television show about “four sexy twenty-somethings trying to figure out what it means to be a modern day Mohawk woman.”

    The pilot for Mohawk Girls, shot in 2010, was selected during the 2010 Cannes Film Festival to be a finalist in the first-ever International Pilots Competition at the Banff World Television Festival. It is the second acclaimed comedy from Rezolution Pictures, which won the 2008 CFTPA Indie Award for Best Comedy Series for Moose TV, starring Adam Beach, Nathaniel Arcand, Jennifer Podemski, and directed by Tim Southam.

    Mohawk Girls was inspired by Tracey Deer’s 2005 feature-length documentary of the same name, about the trials and tribulations of three teenage girls growing up on the Mohawk reserve of Kahnawake. This Rezolution Pictures/NFB co-produced film received the Alanis Obomsawin Best Documentary Award at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Honours for Tracey Deer also include the Gemini Award for best writing and the Canada Award for her 2008 Rezolution Pictures/NFB documentary Club Native.

No word on when the project will begin shooting for the first season, but the release did mention that the cast has been selected.

The website Women Make Movies has more about the original Mohawk Girl documentary.

Jenna Cederberg

NPR talks Native agenda with National Congress of American Indians leaders
You can listen to the NPR reporter Michel Martin’s interview with National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel and Juana Mejal Dixon, the group’s first vice president. They discuss the upcoming legislative year and what some of Indian Country’s top agenda items might be.

American Indian rapper Wahwahtay Benais performs in Plachta Auditorium in Warriner Hall Thursday night. Benais raps about past and present Native American issues, including living on reservations and genocide of his people. (Leah Sefton/Staff Photographer)

American Indian rapper Wahwahtay Benais performs in Plachta Auditorium in Warriner Hall Thursday night. Benais raps about past and present Native American issues, including living on reservations and genocide of his people. (Leah Sefton/Staff Photographer)


Native hip hop artist plays for teens
Rapper Wahwahtay Benais’ message is loud and clear as he bops about the stage. And although it’s not conventional, the Morning Sun (see video here) in Central Michigan reports that the audience was listening and loving it last week as Benais rapped about the history of Native Americans through “musical expression.”

    “They brought me out to do a show for Native American month for the college and for ya’ll,” said Benais. “What I want to do is explain what this month represents, but it’s even bigger than that though.

    “It’s not even about this month. Every month is Native American month for me.”

Yale agrees to return Inca artifacts
Bloomberg reports:

    Yale University, the third-oldest U.S. college, has agreed to return Incan artifacts taken from Peru a century ago, President Alan Garcia said.

    Ernesto Zedillo, a Yale professor and a former Mexican president, promised yesterday to return the artifacts, which were excavated by archaeologist and Yale Professor Hiram Bingham from the Machu Picchu citadel in the southern Andes in 1912, Garcia said in statement dated yesterday and posted on the presidential website.

Tough times force CSKT to examine reservation newspaper’s future
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council put a tough question to its members this week: What should be done to help cut costs for the Flathead Reservation’s Char-Koosta News source?

The newspaper currently prints weekly, but needs to cut costs and doesn’t want to cut positions, the Char-Koosta reports.

The survey includes among other ‘answers’ choosing a preference of cutting the newspaper’s print run to bi-weekly runs or moving it completely online. A motion was passed to increase of five dollars per subscription.

You can take the survey on Char-Koosta News distribution here.

Jenna Cederberg

Ron Evans, the Grand Chief of Manitoba, will meet soon with First Nations leaders in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta to discuss reforming the way aboriginal people elect their officials, according to Jen Skerritt of the Winnipeg Free Press:

Grand Chief Ron Evans of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, centre, beams, as he, John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and Atlantic Policy Congress co-chair Chief Morley Googoo of Nova Scotia confer Friday following an announcement in support of a better electoral system for First Nations.  (Canadian Press/Tim Krochak)

Grand Chief Ron Evans of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, centre, beams, as he, John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and Atlantic Policy Congress co-chair Chief Morley Googoo of Nova Scotia confer Friday on elections. (Canadian Press/Tim Krochak)

    Evans said current rules under the Indian Act cause problems since chief and councils are elected for two-year terms, which he said is too short for the leadership to see any project through to completion. He said frequent elections limit progress, and unstable leadership can scare off potential investors and business development.

    The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs last year began consulting the 37 Manitoba bands that follow electoral rules laid out under the Indian Act, and Evans said there’s been overwhelming support for new reforms.

The movement has the support of aboriginal chiefs in Atlantic Canada and also the federal government.

Gwen Florio

Stan Beardy, Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation (WildlandsLeague.org photo)

Stan Beardy, Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation (WildlandsLeague.org photo)

Members of a group representing First Nations living in Ontario say the province’s proposed Far North Act to protect a vast swath of boreal forest north of the 50th Parallel will infringe upon their treaty rights.

If the measure, slated for final reading in the legislature this week, is approved, “there will be conflict in the north,” Stan Beardy, grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, told Canadian Press.

He says the main problem is that the act, which would apply to 42 percent of Ontario’s land, gives the government veto power.

“It imposes a massive, interconnected protected area over our homelands without compensation and without our consent,” he says. “We will oppose it by any means necessary. There will be no certainty for the government or for investors.”

(CBC image)

(CBC image)

Columnist Doug Cuthand makes a strong case in this Saskatoon Star-Phoenix piece decrying changes to Canada’s census-taking methods.

Cuthand recalls the start of his career, working for the Alberta Native Communications Society in Edmonton, whose president was a former Metis politician, Jim Ducharme. Cuthand writes that Ducharme became his mentor:

    He told me our organization’s purpose was to provide First Nations and Metis people with the best information possible to enable them to make sound decisions on important issues that were looming on the horizon.

    “People can only make the best decisions when they have the best information,” he told me. That incisive statement has remained with me.

All of this by way of criticizing the federal government’s decision to make the long form census voluntary, because the Conservative government finds it too intrusive. The result, he says, will be a loss of information about people in general and aboriginal people in particular.

He points out that the census helps show where government services are most urgently needed, and that such information is more important for First Nations and aboriginal people.

“This is not an esoteric argument,” he writes, “but a situation that affects the poorest Canadians the most.”

Gwen Florio

Judge’s ruling halts Seneca Nation mail-order cigarette sales
A federal judge ruled Friday that Seneca Indians in the mail-order cigarette business can no longer use the post office to ship cigarettes while they fight a new ban on the practice, according to this Associated Press story. As the AP writes: “In a mixed decision, Judge Richard Arcara upheld the mail-order ban contained in the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act but temporarily exempted more than 140 Seneca-owned businesses from a provision requiring them to comply with all taxing laws in the places they sell cigarettes.

Death of traditional singer in Glacier National Park prompts investigation
Authorities say Clinton Croff, 30, a well-known traditional Native American singer and dancer, died from from multiple wounds after becoming engaged in an altercation in Glacier National Park, according to this Associated Press report. Croff was from Browning, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.

First Nations women married to non-aboriginal men still fighting for rights

Aboriginal women on many First Nations reserves in Canada still are being denied their rights because they married non-tribal men, despite a 1985 law designed to address the issue. Canadian Press reports here about the legal struggle by some women who are even prevented from voting.

Turtle Island News publisher is about all-Native news, all the time

In the 16 years since Lynda Powless started the Turtle Island News on the Six Nations Reserve, she’s been arrested twice (at a band council meeting for refusing to leave), sued (unsuccessfully by then chief Roberta Jamieson) and lodged an Ontario Press Council complaint against another paper on the reserve after it ran a front-page story on Powless’s divorce, writes Denise Davy of the Hamilton Spectator. Powless tells Davy she started the paper because “people on the reserve had no clue what was going on in their own community.”

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School can’t oust Lipan Apache boy over braids
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Needville (Texas) Independent School District can’t punish a Lipan Apache boy for wearing his hair in braids. Kenney Arocha and Michelle Betenbaugh had argued that their son’s hair, which has never been cut, conforms to their Native American religious beliefs, according to the Houston Chronicle, here.

Federal disaster declaration for Rocky Boy’s Reservation
President Barack Obama yesterday declared the Rocky Boy’s Reservation a disaster area, making it eligible for federal money for repairs. Flooding on the reservation broke water lines, leaving hundreds of members of the Chippewa Cree tribe without water for two weeks and causing millions of dollars in damage, according to this Associated Press story.

Navajo Nation Supreme Court says no third term for president

The Navajo Supreme Court has denied President Joe Shirley Jr.’s quest for a third consecutive term, the AP reports here. “I respect the decision of our Supreme Court justices,” Shirley said. “They had the final say. They decided and now I know that this is the end of it.”

Report details abuse of indigenous people in Peru

A report by the Missionary Indigenous Council takes a look at the treatment of indigenous people in Brazil. The report shows they are dealt abuse by police and landowners, lack proper nutrition and health care, and crowded out of their homelands by vast public works such as the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the state of Para. Read more in this Agence France-Presse story.

New Nez Perce National Historic Trail map released
A new map of the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail is now available at Forest Service and National Park Service offices and online through Discover Your Northwest, the National Forest Store and the USGS Store, according to the Char-Koosta News, here. The map details locations along the 1,170 mile trail. Or, you can see it online here.

Aboriginal warrior’s remains, once displayed in museum, are reburied
A 19th century Aboriginal warrior named Yagan whose severed head once was displayed in British museum, has been reburied with proper ceremony in western Australia. The Associated Press reports here that the private ceremony was held yesterday by the Noongar Tribe, and coincides with the opening of the Yagan Memorial Park outside of Perth.

Gwen Florio

Tatanka Means’ inviting looks captured in the 21st Century Skins Native American Men’s Calendar might be the best Christmas gift under the tree. Means will make an appearance on the ABC show "Scoundrels." (Photos courtesy of Mihio Manus/Viewfinder Photography)

Oglala Lakota actor Tatanka Means to star in ‘Scoundrels’ episode

Rapid City native Tatanka Means (photo above, courtesy of Mihio Manus/Viewfinder Photography) will guest star in the second episode of the new ABC show “Scoundrels,” set to air tonight. Means, an Oglala Lakota tribal member, is the son American Indian Movement activist and actor Russell Means. The Rapid City (S.D.) Journal has the story here.

Seneca Nation – ‘We Are Not a Piggy Bank’

The Seneca Nation isn’t alone in protesting New York’s law, passed last week, that will tax cigarette purchases by non-Natives in Native-owned smoke shops. The Jamestown Post-Journal chronicles the opposition here. Tribal leader J.C. Senca says that “We are not a piggy bank the state can break open to grab extra cash.” Some New York assemblymen also object, saying the new law will drive business from their area.

Navajo Nation awaits decision on whether president can seek third term

Ballots won’t be printed for Navajo Nation elections until there’s a decision as to whether President Joe Shirley Jr. can seek a third term, the Navajo Times reports here. The Navajo Board of Election Commissioners had ruled Shirley’s run invalid, but Shirley has appealed.

Left-wing South American leaders back indigenous rights

The presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia have signed a declaration to promote indigenous rights. But even as the leaders met, Ecuador’s main indigenous organization protested, saying it had not been consulted, according to the BBC, here. The group, Conaie – the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador – represents about 40 percent of Ecuador’s population.

Australian indigenous group wants stripper deported

Desecration of sites sacred to indigenous people appears to be a problem the world over. According to ABC News, here, a powerful indigenous group in Australia is seeking the deportation of a French woman who was filmed stripping down to a bikini atop the sacred rock of Uluru. The woman described her actions as a “tribute” to aboriginal culture.

Gwen Florio

Enjoy the day!

Gwen Florio


Canada’s federal government agreed late yesterday not to break 30 years of tradition and oppose a type of sales tax on First Nations, a proposal that had prompted widespread objections (See video above).

The action removes the threat by indigenous communities in Ontario to set up highway blockades on their reserves next week during the G8 and G20 summits, the CBC reports here.

Meanwhile, Ottawa criticized the provincial government’s handling of the issue.

The tax takes effect July 1, but the exemption for tribes won’t be in place until September. The government and First Nations are trying to work out a solution to that dilemma.

Last night’s action doesn’t mean an end to the issue. Aboriginal communities in other provinces want the same treatment, according to the CBC:

    Rick Simon, the Assembly of First Nations’ regional chief for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, said this week that aboriginal leaders in the Atlantic provinces would use the deal in Ontario to try to get negotiations for their HST exemption started again with Ottawa.

Stay tuned.

Gwen Florio