Archive for June, 2009

Through the wonders of the Intra-Web comes this Bangkok Post story about the Haudenosaunee team that competed in the women’s lacrosse World Cup in Prague, which was won Saturday by six-time champion Team USA.

The team, which will celebrate its first birthday in August, isn’t as well known as its men’s counterpart, the Iroqois Nationals, which has played at four World Cups. But it sounds like that won’t be the case for long.

“We have recognized ourselves as a sovereign nation – we have never been conquered, we have never been defeated,” said Kathy Smith, chairwoman of the Haudenosaunee Nation Women’s Lacrosse Board.

After first gaining permission from the tribes, the Haudenosaunee team joined the International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse last year as that group’s 11th member nation. We’ll be cheering them on in the next World Cup competition.

Gwen Florio

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The whole idea behind the health care debate raging in Washington – and, for that matter, around the country – is that it will ultimately result in better health care for Americans.

But maybe not all Americans.

Jace Killsback, a member of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, says he and other tribal leaders worry that tribes’ needs will be eclipsed in the push for overall reform. Better make that even more eclipsed than they already are; the Indian Health Service that provides care for nearly 2 million Indian people historically gets about half the funding it needs.

The big concern for tribes is that a national health care plan will erode tribal sovereignty. (Read the details here.) That said, there’s room for optimism in the fact that President Barack Obama – who was adopted into the Crow Nation during his campaign – seems particularly responsive to Native issues. Stay tuned.

Gwen Florio

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We’ve got a table full of offerings today. Lots of main courses here, starting with this video report of Michael Jackson’s 2007 visit, with his children, to the Museum of the American Indian.

All MJ, all the time
Over at RezNet, Kevin Abourezk has one of the best takes I’ve seen on the queasy sadness that accompanied Michael Jackson’s death. “I loved the music,” Abourezk writes in Red Clout. “I pitied the man. Now I mourn the legend.” Read the full piece here.

And you thought the NBA finals were history
Let’s make sure they’re not. Victorious Lakers coach Phil Jackson has taken to wearing a gold cap with a large, purple Roman numeral X to commemorate his 10 NBA titles. You can wear the hat, too, and no matter how you feel about the Lakers, maybe you should. Proceeds of the $25 hat, according to this report from the NBA, will go to benefit the American Indian College Fund.

Swine flu hits First Nations hard
First Nations leaders in Manitoba have declared a state of emergency because of swine flu. Although Native people make up only 10 percent of the province’s population, they comprise about two-thirds of the serious swine flu cases. And get this – the federal government won’t even send hand sanitizer because it contains alcohol, according to David Harper, chief of the Garden Hill First Nation. Read the Canadian Press report here.

Peru’s indigenous people follow up on victory
In Peru, now that pro-development decrees that trod on the rights of indigenous people have been revoked, a coalition of indigenous groups and their supporters is calling for more inter-cultural education. The idea, according to this story in Latinamerica Press, is that Peru will eventually become “plurinational,” a designation now recognized in the constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia, countries where indigenous people wield real political clout. In Peru, it’s estimated that indigenous people make up about 45 percent of the population.

Best reason to call in well
The Arlee Powwow starts Wednesday evening! The Char-Koosta News lists just some of the activities here. See you there.

Gwen Florio

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Associated Press photo

Associated Press photo

Today’s buffet of news from around Indian Country is a feast, but your blogger needs more coffee before she launches in. But here’s a tidbit to get us started.

The Journal of Agriculture (we here at Buffalo Post read everything!), alerts us to the fact that, thanks to the Census folks, agriculture statistics from Indian reservations are now available. (You, too, can read the Journal story here.)

Does the combo of ag and numbers make you yawn? Wake up and smell the blue corn. The number of Native farmers and ranchers is skyrocketing (up 88 percent since 2002, compared to a 7 percent rise in the general population, though the Census says that’s because counting methods have changed).

And, since your Buffalo Post blogger is female, she takes particular delight in the fact that the percentage of Native farming and ranching women is more than double that in the general farming and ranching population. (29 percent and 14 percent, respectively.)

For more fun with recently released reservation statistics from the 2007 Census of Agriculture, click here.

Gwen Florio

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In Texas, not far from Houston, the Needville Independent School District wants 6-year-old Adriel Arocha to cut his hair as part of its grooming policy. But the child, who is Lipan Apache, wears his hair long for religious reasons, according to this account by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Yesterday, the group has filed a friend of the court brief on Adriel’s behalf. A federal district court ruled in the family’s favor in January, but the school district has appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the family.

“Adriel’s decision to wear his hair long for religious reasons is a private expression of faith, and the school should respect that,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, who heads Americans United.

Lynn has also visited Montana, where in 2004 he spoke at an event also attended by Kevin Howlett of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. According to Lynn’s account, here, Howlett spoke eloquently of the problems faced by Indian children – even on reservation schools – because of non-Native teachers unfamiliar with their culture.

Howlett told one story about a teacher criticizing a Native student’s comment about a religious ceremony. Lynn’s solution? A lot of conversation among the various groups, along with a strong dose of cultural education. Sounds like Needville needs to listen to the lessons proposed by Lynn and Howlett.

Gwen Florio

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Crazy Horse, played by Leland Rock of Hardin, moves onto the battlefield. JAMES WOODCOCK/Billings Gazette

Crazy Horse, played by Leland Rock of Hardin, moves onto the battlefield. JAMES WOODCOCK/Billings Gazette

They came from California, Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. – and Alberta, Canada, and even Switzerland – to south-central Montana yesterday to watch a re-enactment as educational as it was exciting. (Read about it here.)

The annual presentation is told from the perspective of the Indian people involved, and was written by Crow historian Joe Medicine Crow.

Among the participants was P.J. Pease of Hardin, Mont., who is Crow and Lakota. He says the role he plays of a Crow warrior – he’s done it for 13 of the event’s 20 years – carries forward to today: “That we will never stop fighting for our rights.”

Gwen Florio

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Diane Humetewa

Diane Humetewa

Indian Country Today is reporting here that Arizona U.S. Attorney Diane Humetewa, the first female Native American to hold a U.S. attorney job and the only Native person (she is Hopi) now serving in that capacity, will soon be asked to step down.

It’s part of the process that typically takes place when a new presidential administration comes in. According to the Indian Country Today story, her likely replacement will be Dennis Burke, who’s a former top aide to former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who was appointed Obama’s homeland security chief.

Earlier this week, the Missoulian reported here on the apparent finalists for Montana’s U.S. attorney position. No Native people are among those names.

There have only been three Native U.S. attorneys (Terry Pechota and Phil Hogen were the other two) and one U.S. marshal, Bob Ecoffey. All three are Lakota from South Dakota. Sure would be nice to see some changes in those numbers, and a few more locales, too, while we’re at it.

Gwen Florio

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Terrence Limberhand, whose great-great-grandfather fought at the battle, rode his horse up to the monument. BOB ZELLAR/Billings Gazette

Terrence Limberhand, whose great-great-grandfather fought at the battle, rode his horse up to the monument. BOB ZELLAR/Billings Gazette

A lone Northern Cheyenne Morning Star Rider waits atop a hill after the riders arrived at Little Bighorn Battlefield after riding from Busby. BOB ZELLAR/Billings Gazette

A lone Northern Cheyenne Morning Star Rider waits atop a hill after the riders arrived at Little Bighorn Battlefield after riding from Busby. BOB ZELLAR/Billings Gazette

So said Terrence Limberhand, a member of the Morning Star Riders, a group that honors the Northern Cheyenne and Sioux who fought at the Battle of the Greasy Grass – also known as the Little Bighorn Battle.

Limberhand rode yesterday in honor of his great-great-grandfather Limber Bones, a suicide rider who vowed to fight to the death the day Lt. Col. George Amstrong Custer and more than 200 7th Cavalry men.

The 77 Morning Star riders participated in ceremonies this week marking the 133rd anniversary of the battle.

As for the riders’ ancestors, “They live in our hearts again today,” said Northern Cheyenne President Leroy Spang. Read their story here.

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Douglas War Eagle and his two brothers, Floyd Clown and Don Red Thunder, who are Miniconjou, will talk tomorrow about their grandfather’s memories surrounding the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Their presentation is part of Little Bighorn Days, commemorating the 1876 battle, which occurred on July 25 and 26.

The three brothers are descendants of Crazy Horse’s youngest sister and, when they were younger, sought and received permission from a medicine man to speak to their grandfather about his memories. They’ll speak at 8:30 a.m. Friday at Center Cinema in Hardin. Cost is $10. Read more about their story here, and click here to find out more details about the weekend’s activities.

Gwen Florio

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At a conference in the state Capitol in Montana yesterday, Native women spoke about the need to combat domestic abuse – and told their own harrowing stories in the process. (Read about the conference here.)

One of the most important parts of that process? Breaking the silence. Silence implies shame – yet the only shame in these cases belongs to the abuser, and to those who look the other way.

The state needs not to look the other way, even when helping abused women is difficult. Because, as Evelyn Hernandez of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes says, battered women “need to be treated gently. … Please don’t give up on them. WHen you give up, that might be the death of that woman.”

Gwen Florio

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