Archive for the ‘Cherokee’ Category

Their tribal council has not taken action, so two elders in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are.

Bears are kept in cement pens at the Cherokee Bear Park in North Carolina. Tribal elders are suing the owners over what they say are inhumane conditions. (Photo courtesy of PETA.)

Bears are kept in cement pens at the Cherokee Bear Park in North Carolina. Tribal elders are suing the owners over what they say are inhumane conditions. (Photo courtesy of PETA.)

They have sued a North Carolina roadside zoo they say keeps grizzly bears confined in “barren and archaic concrete pits,” Mitch Weiss of the Associated Press reports.

An attorney for two tribal elders filed the lawsuit Tuesday, 60 days after they filed a notice of intent to sue the operators of the Cherokee Bear Park for violating the federal Endangered Species Act. The act allows citizens to file lawsuits for violations, but it requires them to give 60-days’ notice to the violators and federal regulators.

“It’s shameful that the Cherokee Bear Zoo is still displaying intelligent, sensitive bears in tiny concrete pits,” said Amy Walker, who filed the lawsuit with fellow tribal elder Peggy Hill. “It’s obvious to anyone who sees them that these bears are suffering, and they will continue to suffer every day until they are sent to a sanctuary where they’ll finally receive the care they need.”

Some North Carolina residents have long campaigned to close this and two other privately owned bear zoos on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, including Chief Saunooke Bear Park and Santa’s Land.

Walker, Hill and other tribal elders became involved after watching a video that showed bears rocking back and forth and circling in the tiny pits.

They said bears hold a spiritual place in Cherokee history, and in February, pressed the tribal council to force the zoos to free the bears.

But the council declined to take action. Chief Michell Hicks later issued a statement saying he wanted to give private zoo owners the opportunity to create a wildlife preserve on the reservation.

The AP’s Weiss reports he Eastern Band has allowed caged animals as a tourism draw since the 1950s.

- Vince Devlin

Scott Davis (Courtesy of BBC News)


Below is what Paul Adams, BBC News correspondent, found out and reported on about blood quantum.

In his column Adams breaks down where the concept came from and how it’s employed by different tribes today. Adams writes that most tribes require between 12.5 percent and 25 percent blood quantum for people to qualify for enrollment and benefits.

Scott Davis, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, told Adams he doesn’t believe in the quantum system. Instead, Davis said, tradition and preserving the Native way of life.

What do you think?

    Blood quantum might sound like an action movie, but to the country’s Native Americans it’s all about identity.

    First introduced in colonial Virginia in the early 18th Century as a means of restricting the rights of anyone deemed to be more than 50% Native American, the term only became widespread after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

    By then, it had become a mechanism for calculating the amount of federal benefits a tribe could expect to receive, based on its population.

    Over time, different tribes have adopted different levels of blood quantum.

    Read the rest of this entry »

The 11th season of Native Voices the Autry, starts Oct. 7 with “The Bird House,” by Diane Glancy, who is Cherokee.

Native Voices also produced Glancy’s play “Salvage” in 2008. Native Voices is the country’s only Equity theater company dedicated exclusively to developing and producing new works by Native American playwrights, according to Broadway World:

    Set in the back room of a failing church in the high plains of Texas, The Bird House delves into the lives of a minister and his two sisters as they sort through the snarls of their past and adapt to loss and the uncertain future of their home and family. The cast includes Ellen Dostal as Clovis, and Native Voices Founder/Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz (Choctaw*) as Jonathan Logan/ Reverend Hawk, a part written specifically for him.

Read more about the Autry program at its website, and more about Diane Glancy – at DianeGlancy.com.

Gwen Florio

Swift Sanchez, a sergeant with the Suquamish Tribal Police, returns to her vehicle while on patrol on the Suquamish Reservation in Washington state. Across the country, police, prosecutors and judges have been wrestling with the vexing question for decades. (AP photo)

Swift Sanchez, a sergeant with the Suquamish Tribal Police, returns to her vehicle while on patrol on the Suquamish Reservation in Washington state. Across the country, police, prosecutors and judges have been wrestling with the vexing question for decades. (AP photo)

Question of race complicates crime-fighting on Indian reservations
Today, the Associated Press examines what it calls “the complex legal system used to mete out justice on American Indian reservations – a system that relies largely on race to determine jurisdiction, and then charges police and prosecutors with the sometimes delicate task of determining a person’s race.” As BJ Jones, director of the Tribal Judicial Institute at The University of North Dakota law school, tells the AP’s Sudhin Thanawala, “The whole flaw in the system is that it’s premised upon being an Indian defendant or Indian victim, and yet we have no clear-cut definition of who an Indian is.”

Art through American – and Native American – eyes
The title of a show at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey, “Engaging With Nature: American and Native American Artists (A.D. 1200-2004),” says it all. The show features works by, among others, Tewa-Hopi artist Dan Namingha and Kay WalkingStick, who is Cherokee-Winnebago and, says the New York Times, suggests “a different set of possibilities” when it comes to looking at the natural world.


Nick Claxton (left) taught a paddle making course at the University of Victoria. (Photo for Indian Country Today by Hans Tammemagi)

Nick Claxton (left) taught a paddle making course at the University of Victoria. (Photo for Indian Country Today by Hans Tammemagi)

Victoria University sees huge growth in indigenous programs
On the good-news front, there’s a story from Indian Country Today on the growth of Native programs, student enrollment and staff at Victoria University. Hans Tammemagi writes that “By about 2000, a critical mass was reached, and that has grown so today there are 17 full-time Native staff and about 30 part-time or sessional staff. The enrollment of Native students is a good measure of the University of Victoria’s success. A decade ago, there were 72 indigenous students. Today, there are approximately 750, of which 100 are in post-graduate programs.” Emblematic of that growth is the First Peoples House, an architecturally stunning replica of a longhouse that is home to many of the programs.

Saving Canada’s indigenous languages should be campaign priority
Andrea Bear Nicholas, who chairs Native Studies at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada, has a piece published on the CBC website about the importance of saving Native languages, something she considers “essential to our survival as First Nations.” And Bear Nicholas, who is Maliseet, suggests that New Brunswick follow the lead of the Yukon and Northwest territories by passing legislation that protects indigenous languages


Whew! Shiprock Navajo Fair is still on

The Navajo Times brings the news that despite controversy over a lack of transparency concerning financial data, the Shiprock Navajo Fair will go on as planned the first weekend of October. The fair draws as many as 120,000 people. “Nobody can stop it,” fair board vice president Charley P. Joe tells the Times’ Erny Zah.

Gwen Florio

Darrell Dorgan, executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, says the hall traditiionally celebrates the National Day of the Cowboy in July.

leather_logoThis year, it’s adding a celebration of Native American culture, which will be held this weekend and feature three members of tribes located within North Dakota, according to the Hall of Fame’s Cathy Langemo.

“It’s time to begin recognizing the truly rich heritage American Indians brought to the Plains of North Dakota and the struggle they face to preserve their legacy for future generations,” Dorgan says.

Those giving presentations include:

Amy Mossett, who is Mandan-Hidatsa from the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota, and whose work on Sacajawea has received national recognition.

Phil Baird, who is Sicangu Lakota and is the academic dean of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck. Baird, a recognized scholar on rodeo, will talk on “Indian Rodeo Cowboys of the Dakotas.”

And Wallace “Butch” Thunderhawk, a Hunkpapa Lakota of Bismarck, who will talk on “The Re-Emergence of Native American Ledger Art.”

In additional, KSIB-AM reports here:

    Cecil Mashburn, (Red Elk) will also appear at Saturday’s showcase. Mashburn is a member of the Cherokee Nation and the Warrior Society, a Traditional Dancer and world-renowned artist. He has a commissioned painting of Brad Gjermundson, of Marshall, North Dakota, and a four-time world saddle bronc champion and many other art productions of rodeo personalities.

All events take place Saturday. The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame is in Medora, (701) 623-2000.


Gwen Florio

Just catching up with this interesting story from a couple of days ago by Clifton Adcock of the Tulsa (Okla.) World:

    (Photo from NowPublic.com)

    (Photo from NowPublic.com)


    A federal lawsuit filed in Tulsa by the Cherokee Nation seeking a declaration that the descendants of freedmen are not entitled to membership in the tribe has been ordered transferred to Washington, D.C., where a similar lawsuit is pending against tribal leaders and the federal government.

    The Cherokee Nation filed its suit last year against the U.S. Department of the Interior and five descendants of freedmen — former slaves that had been owned by tribal members. The freedmens’ descendants had obtained tribal membership before Cherokees voted in 2007 to restrict Cherokee citizenship by excluding people whose ancestors were not listed on the Dawes Rolls as having a percentage of American Indian blood.

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy gets the case. He’s also hearing a lawsuit brought in 2003 by Marilyn Vann, who heads Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association. That case names Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith and the Interior Department, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“We eagerly await the day when all descendants of Dawes-enrolled Cherokee freedmen can register/reregister as Cherokee Nation tribal members, vote and run for tribal political office, as promised our ancestors by the U.S. government and tribal officials in 1866,” says Vann.

But Cherokee Attorney General Diane Hammons tells Adcock, “The record clearly shows that the federal government itself has extinguished any rights non-Indian freedmen descendants had under the treaty.”

Gwen Florio

The Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs recently recognized six Native American tribes. But those tribes have yet to gain federal recognition. As this USA Today story by Clay Carey illustrates, at least one federally recognized tribe has some objections to the process.

    For years, the tribes have been fighting for recognition, which brings with it federal money and new opportunities for individual members. But the argument over whether men and women … are part of legitimate tribes remains a bitter one.

    Mark Miller, a spokesman for the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation, said the groups are stealing the identity of established tribes.

    “Part of my family, way back, is from Germany,” Miller said. “I can go to Oktoberfest and I can do the songs and dances. But it doesn’t make me a German citizen, and I can’t create my own Germany.”

    A coalition of 10 former state Indian Affairs a letter to the state’s attorney general and secretary of State in late June claiming the vote that made the tribes legitimate was tainted by ethical lapses and unlawful secrecy.

The new tribes are the Cherokee Wolf Clan, Chikamaka Band, Central Band of Cherokee, United Eastern Lenape Nation of Winfield Tennessee, Tanasi Council and the Remnant Yuchi Nation.

The state recognition gives members of the Tribes the ability to identify themselves as Native Americans on loan paperwork, job applications and other documents, and also puts them closer to federal recognition, now granted – although not recently – to more than 500 tribes, which brings additional benefits, Carey writes.

Mark Greene, a Nashville lobbyist who works for the Cherokee Nation, calls the groups “culture clubs” and “Indian heritage organizations.” The Cherokee Nation has sued, asking a county court to void the commission’s decision.

Gwen Florio

Remember the Removal bike ride (Cherokee Nation photo)

Remember the Removal bike ride (Cherokee Nation photo)

Tetona Dunlap is a graduate student in journalism at the University of Montana. She is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe from the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

Tetona Dunlap

Tetona Dunlap

This month 10 members of the Cherokee Nation will retrace their ancestors’ journey on the Trail of Tears, not by foot, but on bicycles.

The ride is called “Remember the Removal” and this is the second time the ride has taken place since its resurgence last year. The first ride took place in 1984.

On Wednesday, the group of 10 and four chaperones left by van for Georgia. They plan to bike from traditional Cherokee lands in New Echota, Georgia back to the Cherokee capital of Tahlequah, Oklahoma in 23 days, each day traveling around 40 to 70 miles.

Read the rest of this entry »

tricksterThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel brings us this review of a new book that sounds like an absolutely fabulous read – and view.

“Trickster: Native American Tales, a Graphic Collection” is edited by Matt Dembicki and pairs 21 American Indian storytellers with graphic artists, reviewer Jim Higgins tells us:

    While Dembicki and his contributing artists have taken pains to respect the cultural integrity of the stories, their visuals never feel politically correct or preachy. Instead, reading this book creates the same excitement that discovering the Brothers Grimm or Italo Calvino’s “Italian Folktales” does, only with pictures as well as words.

    “Trickster” will appeal to graphic novel lovers, folklore enthusiasts, storytellers, young adult readers and everyone interested in the many American Indian cultures.

One, “The Bear Whole Stole the Chinook,” by Blackfeet singer-songwriter Jack Gladstone and Evan Keeling, features a slinky weasel and a magnificently fearsome bear: “The weasel slithered easy through the hole, found the Elk skin bag of the crook. The bear, enraged, roared ‘GO AWAY’ and said, I’M THE BEAR WHO STOLE THE CHINOOK!’”

The book includes “Raven the Trickster” from John Active (Yu’pik), illustrated by Jason Copland; “Coyote and the Pebbles,” by Caddo Nation member Dayton Edmonds and illustrated by Micah Farritor: and “Waynaboozhoo and the Geese,” by Anishinaabe language teacher Dan Jones of Minnesota and illustrated by Michael J. Auger; and Eirik Thorsgard’s “When Coyote Decided to Get Married,” illustrated by Rand Arrington.

Higgins writes that “special visual nods go to Cherokee artist Roy Boney Jr. for his painterly desertscapes in ‘Horned Toad Lady & Coyote,’ and Paul Zdepski’s hallucinatory Hawaiian demons in ‘Puapualenalena, Wizard Dog of Waipi’o Valley.’”

Gwen Florio

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, right, talks with members of native American nations prior to a ceremony at the Congressional Cemetery chapel in Washington, Wednesday, May 19, 2010, where he read the Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Peoples. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, right, talks with members of native American nations prior to a ceremony at the Congressional Cemetery chapel in Washington, Wednesday, May 19, 2010, where he read the Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Peoples. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

We’ve been running a day late on everything this week and this very important story from yesterday is no exception. To make up for that, here’s the report in full from Murry Evans of the Associated Press:

Presley Byington, of the Choctaw Nation, Tulsa, Okla., smiles as Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, not shown, reads a Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Peoples during a ceremony in the Congressional Cemetery chapel in Washington, Wednesday, May 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Presley Byington, of the Choctaw Nation, Tulsa, Okla., smiles as Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, not shown, reads a Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Peoples during a ceremony in the Congressional Cemetery chapel in Washington, Wednesday, May 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the leaders of five tribes in attendance, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas read a congressional resolution Wednesday apologizing for “ill-conceived policies” and acts of violence against American Indians by the U.S. government.

Brownback spoke during an event at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., where he and Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, Lois Capps of California and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii joined representatives from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Pawnee nations, Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith said.

All those tribes are based in Oklahoma, except for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, which is based in South Dakota.

Smith said that while most tribes had not specifically asked for a formal apology from the U.S. government, the gesture was appreciated.

“It’s difficult to issue an apology and sometimes it’s difficult to accept one,” Smith said by phone from Washington. “Once you put those differences of the past aside, perhaps the next step is, can you do any better in this round? That’s where our greatest challenge is. The history of the U.S. (toward American Indians) is not a bright record. The real question is, what happens from this day forward?”

Brownback, a Republican, had pushed for the resolution since 2004. Both houses of Congress approved it late last year and President Barack Obama signed it in December. Lawmakers have described the resolution as a symbolic gesture that would help promote a renewed commitment by the federal government to the tribes.

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