Archive for the ‘Tohono O’odham’ Category


As KOLD‘s Christina Stymfal explains, all five nominees for the Best Waila Recording are from the Tohono O’odham Nation – meaning that tribe will see its first Native American Music Award:

    The ceremony will be held on Nov. 12 at the Seneca Entertainment Center in the Seneca Casino & Hotel in Niagara Falls, New York. Voting is open to the public.

    Tohono O’odham nominees:

    * Gertie & the TO Boyz for their album “A Tribute to Augustine Lopez Sr.”
    * Native Creed for “Cumbiafied Nativez”
    * Native Thunder for “Get’n Down”
    * Papago Warrior for “Papago Warriors 5″
    * The Cisco Band for “T.C.O.B.”
    * Tohono O’odham Braves for “25 Years of Waila Music”

More samples can be found on the NAMA website.

Gwen Florio

The oil painting "Steer Ropers" is included in the DeGrazia Rodeo Collection. (Courtesy DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun)

Here‘s the entire story from the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson:

The 1954 Rodeo Collection of 26 oil paintings by Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia, the sun of Italian immigrants, is on display at DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun through Jan. 9.

The collection is based on the annual all-Indian rodeo on the Tohono O’odham Nation west of Tucson.

Curator Jim Jenkins said DeGrazia referred to the impressionistic images as his “drastic” paintings that capture the dramatic action on colorful canvas.

A documentary that can be viewed or purchased at the gallery includes a visit to the rodeo with the artist.

The gallery, at 6300 N. Swan Road, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with free admission. Call 520-299-9191 for more information.


Mike Gates, a member of the Seneca Nation and former Big Island resident, returns to Hawaii in the role of Head Dancer for this year's Hilo Inter-Tribal PowWow on Memorial Day weekend. (Courtesy photo to Big Island Weekly)

Mike Gates, a member of the Seneca Nation and former Big Island resident, returns to Hawaii in the role of Head Dancer for this year's Hilo Inter-Tribal PowWow on Memorial Day weekend. (Courtesy photo to Big Island Weekly)

People on Hawaii’s big island can mark Memorial Day weekend by going to the Hilo Inter-Tribal PowWow, now in its fifth year.

Terrie Henderson of the Big Island Weekly writes here that the event is organized by Liz and Troy De Roche, and emphasizes connections between Native American and Hawaiian peoples and cultures.

    Troy De Roche will be cooking up the wildly popular fry bread and pleasing the crowd with his traditional flute playing. Troy, whose been known to play the flute with flour on his shirt from baking the bread, told Big Island Weekly last year that the recipe he uses for the fry bread is handed down from his grandmother. The Indian tacos are also always a big hit, according to the De Roche family.

This year’s event also will feature the return of Seneca Nation member and former Big Island resident Mike Gates. Gates will be the head dance and Fredricka “Freddie” Hunter, who is Blackfeet from Montana, is head woman dancer.

The host drum for the powwow will be The Wildhorse Singers from Torrance, Calif., cormprising drummers and singers from the Navajo, Apache, Tohono O’Odham and Cherokee nations.

Gwen Florio

Tohono O'odham Nation leader Ned Norris Jr. (Chris Richards, Arizona Daily Star)

Tohono O'odham Nation leader Ned Norris Jr. (Chris Richards, Arizona Daily Star)

Arizona’s new immigration law raises strong concerns racial profiling, added burdens on local authorities, and damage to the state’s economy, according to the Tohono O’odham Nation, which shares borders with both Arizona and Mexico.

So the tribe formally announced yesterday (read full text, here) that it opposes SB 1070, joining its efforts with those of the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona.

“This misguided and detrimental law must be repealed before it inflicts any further harm on Arizona,” says Tohono O’odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. “For its part, the Tohono O’odham Nation will continue its extensive efforts to assist in protecting the U.S. border on its lands. However, it is imperative that comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level is implemented in order to confront all aspects of this problem.”

Gwen Florio

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association began its international meeting in Tucson last night, despite calls to boycott conventions in Arizona as a means of protesting that state’s new anti-immigration law and ethnic studies ban.

But as Tohono O’odham Nation activist Mike Wilson tells KVOA, here, “If we had boycotted this conference, once again the Native voice would have been silenced.”

Robert Warrior, association president, says members of the group, most of whom are educators, are most concerned about the ethnic studies law:

    Robert Valencia, vice chairman of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, says, “Under ethnic studies is Native American studies. And we need to be able to support the intent of Native American studies for our children.” Valencia says about 1,000 Pascua Yaqui students attend schools in the Tucson Unified School District.

    Participants also believe what’s happening in Arizona has worldwide implications. Alice Te Punga Somerville came to the conference from New Zealand. She says, “We can see there are connections between the issue here and what might happen in our domestic politics or in other places around the world.”

Tomorrow, U.S. Rep. Paul Grijalva of Arizona, who backs a boycott, is to address the conference.

Gwen Florio

The notice for the Indigenous Peoples Protest Against SB 1070 and HB 2281 is up on the Censored News indigenous peoples’ blog, here.

Those are the new Arizona laws regarding immigration and ethnic studies.

(WonkRoom photo)

(WonkRoom photo)

As the notice for the protest reads:

    This securing [of the U.S. border] includes and is not limited to a physical wall to be made on Indigenous land (Tohono O’odham/Lipan Apache to name a few.) The state’s power to waive pre-existing laws (such as NEPA, NAGPRA) in the name of security, directly attacks Indigenous autonomy/sovereignty. The “political” solution will bring forced removal and relocation of the many Indigenous nations that span “their” borders by means of a reinforced physical barrier. In addition, the peoples who will be primarily targeted for racial profiling will be Indigenous peoples on both sides of the U.S/Mexico border.

The protest is set for 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. at U.S. Immigration Court in Tucson.

The post on Censored News has more more details and contact information.

Gwen Florio


Navajo comedian Vincent “Muttonman” Craig dies
Family members posted a note on Vincent Craig’s Facebook page thanking friends and family for their support as the legendary Dine comedian and singer-songwriter battled cancer, according to the Navajo Times, here. He was only 59. The note was posted late last night and the Times promises updates.

Supreme Court nominee Kagan falls short on Native issues
That’s the assessment by the legal experts quoted in this story by Indian Country Today’s Rob Capriccioso. He writes that “her positions on tribal and Indian legal issues are unknown, and she has lacked engagement on some major Native topics.” And, he reports, that when Kagan was dean of Harvard Law School, she failed to hire a permanent scholar to fill the Harvard Law School’s Oneida chair, largely funded by the Oneida Indian Nation of New York.

Tohono O’odham police arrest 10 in huge bust of alleged coke smuggling ring

Anonymous law enforcement photo of law enforcement officers from Tohono O'odham Police, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI executing warrants at homes in Sells on Saturday morning that resulted in the arrest of 10 people in connection with a cocaine smuggling ring.

Anonymous law enforcement photo of law enforcement officers from Tohono O'odham Police, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI executing warrants at homes in Sells on Saturday morning that resulted in the arrest of 10 people in connection with a cocaine smuggling ring.

It was, according to this Tucson Arizona Star report, the largest drug enforcement operation in the history of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Nine tribal members and one other person were arrested yesterday in an early-morning sweep in Sells, Ariz.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle tells the Star that the arrests marked the culmination of a five-month, multi-agency investigation led by the Tohono O’odham Police Department.

And, it marked the first time tribal police officers have executed federal warrants on the Tohono O’odham Nation. It was part of an effort that saw tribal officers trained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Indian Affairs so they could makes arrest on federal charges, which carry more severe penalties than tribal ones.

Pine Ridge principal on tap for Obama administration post
Robert Cook, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe who is principal of Pine Ridge High School, is expected to be appointed to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education, according to this Rapid City Journal story. Cook recently completed a term as president of the National Indian Education Association.

POPcorn No. 5 by Stephen Wood (Heard Museum photo)

POPcorn No. 5 by Stephen Wood (Heard Museum photo)

Native pop art in new Heard Museum show
Not just niche art is how the Heard Museum is describing its new exhibit by Native American and other pop artists. ” ‘Pop! Popular Culture in American Indian Art,’ ” reminds us, if we need reminding, that Indians also are participants in the culture at large, and that Native American art is not merely a niche art: It is part of the global art conversation,” writes Richard Nilson of the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic, here.

The show features work by iconic pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, but also works by Native artists such as Fritz Scholder and T.C. Cannon.

In fact, Ryan Singer has a riff on Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup can, with is painting, “Sheep Is Good Food,” of a mutton stew can.

As painter Jaune Quick-to-See Smith says in the exhibit, “I appropriate Pop Art because it is symbolic of the American mainstream culture.”

Gwen Florio

Robert Warrior

Robert Warrior


Even though the the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association is meeting this month in Tucson, it’s expected to vote to support the boycott of Arizona.

The Arizona Daily Star reports here that NAISA President Robert Warrior says that to cancel the Arizona meeting at this late date would likely bankrupt the group, which is fairly new – and possibly subject it to a lawsuit from the Westin hotel.

Warrior says some members have indicated they might not attend.

But he says four tribes within Arizona, including the Tohono O’odham, whose nation is just outside Tucson, asked that this month’s meeting stay in Tucson:

    Warrior made his comments in an e-mailed letter to members explaining the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association’s decision to hold its annual meeting in Tucson despite the group’s fundamental disagreement with SB 1072, and another recent Arizona law regarding the teaching of ethnic studies in public schools.

    He said NAISA would have been liable for “an amount similar to what the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s meeting” cancellation in Scottsdale cost that group. The Arizona Republic reported AILA had to pay $92,000 to cancel that planned fall meeting.

The NAISA website has a statement from the local host committee: “Despite the passing of the bill we remain committed to hosting the NAISA 2010 conference in defiance of legislation that would have us justify our existence on our homelands.”

Simon Ortiz of Acoma Pueblo quotes the SoCal Feminist group in a blog on the website: “We must build a widespread political movement for justice so that passing racist policies becomes politically suicidal rather than politically expedient.”

Gwen Florio

(Wonk Room photo)

(Wonk Room photo)

You saw this one coming, right?

This Wonk Room report interviews Vee Newton, a Native American man who says he was stopped by Arizona police at a checkpoint after three cars full of white people passed through. He was wearing traditional attire at the time. He blames Arizona’s new law that requires police to check people suspected of being in the country illegally.

Newton tells Sarah Reynolds, a freelance journalist (there’s an audio link to the interview): “The questions were stated to me in a tone that I felt was very degrading to me. So I simply stated to them that I am a native of America, I am a native to the land and I am Native American.”

As Wonk Room points out:

    Since Arizona enacted a set of draconian immigration laws which many claim will “exacerbate racial-profiling,” much of the focus has been on the effect its implementation will have on the state’s Latino population. However, along with being home to almost two million Latinos, Arizona has the second largest total Native American population of any state. While Native American tribes possess claims to Arizona lands that date back farther than any other group, they are often racially profiled and mistaken for undocumented immigrants of Latin American descent.

Indian Country Today, meanwhile, has this report by Rob Capriccioso that says Arizona’s new immigration law has left Native people “alarmed that tribal sovereignty has been violated, with the looming possibility that individual liberties will be threatened.”

Members of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, which opposed the S.B. 1070, traveled to Washington after Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law in hopes of educating policymakers on its potential effects.

“We have a range of concerns, including tribal sovereign nations not being recognized as able to define and protect their own borders as they see fit, and the possibility that tribal citizens will be profiled by police,” John Lewis, director of the organization, tells Capriccioso. Both the Tohono O’odham and the Pascua Yaqui Nations share borders with Arizona and Mexico.

The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to monitor the situation as it pertains to Native Americans, Capriccioso reports.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the situation as it unfolds.

Gwen Florio

Report – Indigenous languages at serious risk on Canada’s Pacific Coast
Only a few people still speak the indigenous languages of the First Nations on the Pacific Coast of Canada. As detailed in this story, and the video above, a report by The First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council says eight of the 32 languages of British Columbia are endangered and 22 nearly extinct. Only about 5 percent of the indigenous population is considered fluent, and most of those people are older than 65.

Federal judge rules Wyoming county voting system hurts Indians
A federal judge in Wyoming has ruled that the system of electing county commissioners in Fremont County dilutes American Indian votes and must be changed. This Casper (Wyo.) Star Tribune reports says U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson gave the county until June 30 to submit a new plan. The county is home to the Wind River Indian Reservation, with its Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. The Star Tribune praises the ruling in this editorial, which says that Johnson’s strongly worded ruling should lead to fairer representation for voters on the Wind River Indian Reservation.


Tucson Symphony Orchestra performs at Tohono O’odham Nation

Tohono O'odham elder Lucyann Joaquin watches the Tucson Symphony Orchestra String Quartet perform at Archie Hendricks Sr. Skilled Nursing Facility on the Tohono O'oodham reservation near Sells, Ariz., Saturday May 1, 2010. (Greg Bryan/Arizona Daily Star)

Tohono O'odham elder Lucyann Joaquin watches the Tucson Symphony Orchestra String Quartet perform at Archie Hendricks Sr. Skilled Nursing Facility on the Tohono O'oodham reservation near Sells, Ariz., Saturday May 1, 2010. (Greg Bryan/Arizona Daily Star)


The strains of Dvorák’s String Quartet wafted through the Archie Hendricks skilled Nursing Facility on the Tohono O’odham Nation yesterday, thank to members of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. The group traveled there to perform for the center’s two dozen elders, a performance that nearly brought Gordon Francisco to tears.

It was the first time he and the majority of those attending the recital – the first of three the TSO performed on the nation Saturday – had ever seen an orchestra concert, the Greg Bryan of the Arizona Daily Star writes here.

“As far as the adults, it feels like their lives are just (about) working, and they never seek it out,” said Allison Francisco, the Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Center & Museum artist liaison. She was responsible for bringing the TSO to the nation for three concerts.


Denver Art Museum to renovate historic American Indian, Northwest Coast galleries

The Denver Art Museum opened in 1925, becoming the first American museum to collect Native American objects as art rather than artifact. This summer, the museum reports here, it’s renovating and reinstalling its American Indian and Northwest Coast art galleries. They’ll be open to the public through June 13, then will close until early 2011, when they’ll reopen in a 23,000-square-foot gallery that includes new interactive, artist-centric displays.

New book contrasts Sitting Bull and Custer
Just when you think nothing new can possibly be written about the Little Bighorn, along comes “The Last Stand,” by Nathaniel Philbrick. The Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger says of it, here, that “the latest retelling of the iconic confrontation between whites and Native Americans is written not so much for battle buffs as it is for a more general audience interested in learning about clashing cultures and warring ways of life.” And, he says, it contrasts the “womanizing, publicity-seeking George Armstrong Custer against Sitting Bull, the stoic and contemplative leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota.”


Navajo heroine Ellen Tsosie returns in new book aimed at young readers

Arizona author Seth Muller has written a new book featuring a young Navajo girl, Ellie Tsosie, who made her debut in “The Mockingbird’s Manual,” a 2009 novel about how she learns to talk to birds. Now, according to this Arizona Daily Sun report, Ellie Tsosie is back in “The Day of Storms.” It’s all part of the “Keepers of the Windclaw Chronicles” series aimed at readers ages 8 to 12.