Child death in foster care causes First Nations outcry
Twice in six months, children from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan have died in foster care under suspicious circumstances. The most recent case, that of a 22-month-old child, has prompted calls for a public inquiry, according to this CBC report. The little boy, Evander Lee Daniels, drowned in a bathtub and also had been scalded, according to this earlier CBC piece. watch a video, here.
Some Wind River Reservation residents told to seek high ground during floods
Even though floodwaters are receding in central Wyoming, residents in the Wind River Indian Reservation community of Sharp Nose are being told to seek higher ground because of rain and snow last night. With snow falling at about an inch an hour, authorities feared more flooding along the Wind River, according to the Casper (Wyo.) Star Tribune, here.
New dorm goes up at Crazy Horse Memorial
The nearly-completed Crazy Horse Student Living and Learning Center was open to the public yesterday. The $2.5 million dorm will house the Summer University Program at Crazy Horse Memorial, sanctioned by the University of South Dakota’s Department of American Indian Studies, according to this Rapid City (S.D.) Journal story by Tyler Jerke.
Cape Wind opponents see parallels with gulf oil catastrophe
Indian Country Today’s Gale Courey Toensing wrote here last week about the massive wind-power project off the coast of Massachusetts, which is vehemently opposed by the Mashpee and Aquinnah Wampanoag nations. Opponents say the mitigation opposed for the Cape Wind project is akin to the safety measures that so badly failed on the BP rig now spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Fort Niagara adds Native American interpreters for truer history lesson
Every summer, Fort Niagara in New York hires history lovers and actors from Niagara University to portray characters who might have populated the region, and to explain its history to tourists. This year, those history interpreters include Jordan Smith, a Niagara Falls Native American educator, in the role of a Mohawk Indian, and Brenda Patterson, who is Tuscaroran and plays the role of a Seneca woman. The Mohawk and Seneca tribes are part of the Iroquois Confederacy. Read more here in the Niagara Gazette.
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.
Fremont County in Wyoming, which includes the Wind River Indian Reservation, has been declared a disaster area by the state due to flooding.
Melting mountain snowpack and rain are responsible for record water levels. Washakie Reservoir on the Wind River Reservation near Fort Washakie is at capacity and access has been closed. The dam sits on the South Fork of the Little Wind River.
The Little Wind River was measured at 11.96 feet on Wednesday, well above the flood stage of 8 feet. The previous record was 10.85 feet set in 1963.
About 200 members of the Wyoming National Guard have been deployed to help evacuate people and sandbag homes.
Wind River Reservation residents have been advised not to use 17-Mile Road bridge that crosses the Little Wind River west of Arapahoe due to damage caused from floodwaters.
The water treatment plan in Ethete was also compromised earlier on Wednesday, but according to the Fremont County Public Health the water was testing clean and is back up and running.
The flooding in Fremont County is forcing the Wyoming National Guard to make its biggest in-state activation since 2000.
The flooding is affecting a 22-square-mile area of Fremont County with about 2,100 homes flooded or threatened by flooding.
Currently there are no accurate count of homes with actual water damage or the number of people displaced.
Wyoming Indian senior Caleb Her Many Horses finished first overall in the 2A Boys 1600 meter run Saturday afternoon at the Wyoming State Track and Field Championships earlier in May. (Tim Kupsick/Casper Star-Tribune)
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. Earlier this year, she wrote here about the successes on and off the track of Wyoming Indian High School’s Caleb Her Many Horses. Today, she brings us an update:
Caleb Her Many Horses, a senior at Wyoming Indian High School on the Wind River Reservation, won four events, at the recent Wyoming High School Class 2A Track and Field Championships in Casper, Wyoming.
Her Many Horses set a new class record with a time of 9 minutes and 38.85 seconds when he ran the anchor leg for the winning 3,200-meter relay team, which included teammates Alvin Spoonhunter, Marlin Medicine Horse and Slade Spoonhunter.
Her Many Horses won also won the 1600, 3200 and the 800-meter run with a state best meet time of 1:58:34. Teammate Slade Spoonhunter came in third in the 3200 and second in the 800-meter races.
Slade also placed third in the 400-meter dash and Lorenzo Underwood took eighth. Alvin Spoonhunter took sixth in the 1600-meter and Medicine Horse placed eighth in the 3200-meter run.
Combined the Wyoming Indian men’s track and field team rallied 70 points and placed third at the state meet.
Part of the Wnd River Indian Reservation in Wyoming (Photo from EasternShoshone.net)
County commission candidates won’t be on the primary election ballot in Fremont County, Wyo., this August.
That’s because of a ruling earlier this week by U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson of Cheyenne. He found that the practice in Fremont County – one-third of which comprises the Wind River Indian Reservation – of holding at-large elections for commissioners diluted the American Indian vote.
That’s a violation of the Voting Rights Act, Johnson found, and ordered a new district voting system. As the Casper, Wyo., Star Tribune reports here:
County Clerk Julie A. Freese said Thursday there’s no way the county could follow Johnson’s order – which calls for him to approve a district voting plan on Aug. 13 – and have commissioners on the ballot just a few days later.
Freese said her office won’t accept commissioner candidate filings until districts are established. State law specifies that commission candidates may file with the county clerk from May 13-28.
“The state statute is out the window at this point,” Freese said. “We’d be dealing with the ruling, and we’d be dealing with whatever we might come up with for a plan as required in the ruling.”
The judge ordered a new plan by June 30, and says the American Civil Liberties Union must respond to that plan before Aug. 13. The ACLU represents the five American Indians who challenged the county’s at-large system.
The Wind River Reservation is home to the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes.
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)
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.
Ben Neary of the Associated Press has the following report from Wyoming. Also, see last year’s ACLU report, “Voting Rights in Indian Country,” here:
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Three years after presiding over a trial on an American Indian voting rights case, a federal judge in Wyoming has yet to rule on it. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union is taking the extraordinary step of asking a federal appeals court to force him to decide.
The ACLU represents five members of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. They claim at-large elections for county commissioners in Fremont County violate federal law by diluting the Native American vote.
U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne presided over the trial in the case in February 2007. Despite repeated letters from the ACLU since then asking him to rule in the case, he has yet to do so.
The ACLU late last month asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to order Johnson to rule. The appeals court on Wednesday gave Fremont County 30 days to file a response and “invited” Johnson himself to address the ACLU’s request.
The Colorado Legislature seems a little schizophrenic these days when it comes to Indian people.
On the one hand, as we posted here yesterday, a legislator is proposing to cut treaty-mandated funding for Native students at Fort Lewis College in southwestern Colorado.
But another lawmaker, from the Denver suburb of Aurora, is considering bill that aims to deal with up to 20 high school mascots deemed “questionable” by Darius Lee Smith.
Smith, who is Navajo, heads Denver’s Anti-Discrimination Office, but he’s working on Sen. Suzanne Williams’ bill as a private citizen, Joe Hanel of the Durango (Colo.) herald reports here.
Rather than banning macots outright, the bill would urge schools to use them as a teaching tool.
For instance, Colorado’s Arapahoe High School (Aurora is in Arapahoe County) uses the Warriors as its mascot. As Hanel writes:
The principal went to the Arapaho tribe in Wyoming and engaged the tribal council. The council not only gave permission to keep using the nickname, but it commissioned an Arapaho artist to draw a new logo.
Williams’ bill would encourage other Colorao schools to follow that model.
She hasn’t introduced it yet, but is waiting for the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs to discuss it, which it plans to do next week.
A Northern Arapaho man who shot an eagle for use in a sun dance has pleaded guilty in tribal court.
Winslow Friday shot the eagle without a permit, but says the reason justifies his actions, according to this story by the AP’s Ben Neary.
He feels no guilt, Friday has said, “because of what I did with the bird. I participated in our Sun Dance. No, because that made me feel good in my heart.”
Friday was fined $2,500 and had his hunting privileges suspended for a year, Kathy Dresser, a public defender for the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribal Court, tells Neary.
The case drew national attention when U.S. District Judge William Downes in late 2006 dismissed federal charges, saying they represented a “callous indifference” to American Indian religious practices.
Downes referenced the fact that it takes Indian people years to get the necessary permit to shoot an eagle or even to receive eagle carcasses from the National Eagle Repository in Denver that stores the dead birds.
The ruling was later reversed and Friday faced up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine before the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cheyenne agreed this year to transfer the case to tribal court.
Steve Moore, lawyer with the Native American Rights Fund, in Boulder, Colo., says that was appropriate.
“In this modern era of tribal sovereignty, more and more authority for regulating these kinds of activities needs to be turned away from the United States and to tribes,” Moore said.
In this March 8, 2009 picture, Caleb Her Many Horses, 17, of the Wyoming Indian High School basketball team, puts up a shot during the team's victory over Niobrara County in the Wyoming 2A state championship. (AP photo)
Last week, we posted (here) the video of the documentary “Chiefs,” about the legendary basketball teams at Wyoming Indian High School on the Wind River reservation. Now comes this Associated Press story by Matt Joyce about the Chiefs. The more stories about the Chiefs, the merrier, as far as we’re concerned.
ETHETE, Wyo. (AP) — The gym is adorned with championship banners, expectations are high, and the players gasp and burn their way through sprints during the first days of basketball practice at Wyoming Indian High School.
The afternoon is growing late and the sun casts long shadows across the snowcapped Wind River mountains. Inside the brick gym, the Chiefs — winners of the 2A state championship in March — run more drills, more sprints. Theirs is an up-tempo, run-and-gun game, and stamina is critical to their chances for a repeat.
Basketball is king on the Wind River Indian Reservation — a 3,440-square-mile expanse of mountains, valleys and rivers that’s home to the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes. And the Chiefs, who have built one of Wyoming’s most successful high school basketball teams, are the pride of a community beset by poverty, alcoholism and related social ills.
Hundreds of raucous Wyoming Indian fans made the 130-mile drive to Casper to see the 155-student school take its seventh state title. At the final buzzer, the players, some of them with their hair in long pony tails, were mobbed by friends and family, young and old, seeking autographs and pictures.
The community celebrated the championship with a potluck dinner at the high school gym, said head coach Craig Ferris. They watched a video of the title game, and the players donned war bonnets and were honored with a victory dance.
Two bulls butt heads outside Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner. (James Woodcock/Billings Gazette)
The Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes who live on Montana’s Fort Belknap Reservation, and the Northern Arapaho and Shoshone tribes on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming have long sought the several dozen bison corralled in holding pens for nearly four years now after straying beyond the borders of Yellowstone National Park.
Ranchers fear the park’s bison carry brucellosis, a disease that causes stillborn calves. For years now, when bison go outside in the park in search of winter forage, they’ve been slaughtered to prevent the spread of the disease.
But some bison, after being declared disease-free, were spared. They’re the ones in the holding pens, and the idea is to use them to repopulate public and tribal lands across the West with free-roaming bison, writes the AP’s Matthew Brown, here.
However, those animals apparently will be relocated to a Montana ranch owned by billionaire Ted Turner, under a recommendation made by state and federal officials.
Turner already owns about 50,000 bison, and his restaurant chain Ted’s Montana Grill serves buffalo burgers. But Turner Enterprises general manager Russell Miller says the Yellowstone bison won’t be served up on a bun, and that the genetically pure Yellowstone bison will be kept separate from the others on his ranch.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks administrator Ken McDonald tells Brown that giving up bison to Turner’s ranch was not his preferred choice, and that his agency already is getting “a lot of backlash over the whole privatization thing.”
The tribes’ applications were judged insufficient, but officials say they’ll be given first choice the next time bison are available.