Archive for July, 2009

31
Jul

Let’s talk health care

   Posted by: admin    in Health, Indian Health Service, Rosebud Sioux

Dr. Yvette Roubideaux (Arizona Daily Star)

Dr. Yvette Roubideaux (Arizona Daily Star)


Indian health care, that is. That particular subject has claimed far too little of the millions and billions of words being tossed around in the current health-care debate.

Dr. Yvette Roubideaux of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe – and the new director of the Indian Health Service – aims to change that.

Reforming the IHS is one of her top priorities, she tells Indian Country Today, in an interview released today.

She says she’ll be watching closely to see that the Obama Administration’s proposed 13 percent increase in the IHS budget for 2010 goes through. Keep in mind, though that the IHS is traditionally funded at only half what it needs. Good to know that Roubideaux is pushing for more.

Read the complete interview here.

Gwen Florio

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Yes, Buffalo Post is back on the celebrity beat today, but this time in the most positive way, with a celebration of the music of Buffy Sainte-Marie, from none other than the Guardian of London, la-di-dah. (Read it here.)

“Running for the Drum” is her first album of original material since “Coincidence & Likely Stories” in 1992. But she’s been busy since then, she says, mostly with her W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded Cradleboard Teaching Project, which is a cultural study program for Native people.

Sainte-Marie, who is Cree from Saskatchewan, was investigated by the FBI and CIA and was blacklisted for her Native rights work and anti-Vietnam stance. “It affected my career but it didn’t affect my life,” she tells the Guardian. “It’s not like they tell you they’re gonna deny your rights or trample your freedom or gag you – they just do it.”

A tough woman for tough times.

Meantime, here’s a piece about her new album and the DVD documentary: “Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life.” Enjoy.

Gwen Florio

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Native leaders have gone before Congress to seek help with the gang violence and drug trafficking that have “overwhelmed” their communities.

Small tribal police departments can’t begin to cope with gangs that operate freely on vast reservations, the leaders testified before the Senate Indian Affairs committee. TO make matters worse, those police forces often lack jurisdiction to crack down, according to this AP story.

It says that 39 gangs roam the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, while the Navajo Nation, the country’s largest reservation, is beset by 225 active gangs.

“We need more officers and we need them now,” said Hermis John Mousseau, a mem-ber of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council at Pine Ridge.

“We have 5,000 gang members, but we also have 45,000 scared law-abiding people whose lives I have sworn to protect.”

Committee chairman Byron Dorgan of North Dakota is pushing a bill to help Congress strengthen law enforcement in Indian Country by improving coordination among the Justice Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal law enforcement, and encouraging more active prosecution and longer prison terms.

Gwen Florio

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Sonny Tuttle (Red Nations Art)

Sonny Tuttle (Red Nations Art)

The notice in the paper was small, just the barest hint of a full, full life that touched people around the country.

“Sonny Tuttle,” it said, inviting people to celebrate his life. “Beloved,” it called him. “He was Lakota Sioux and had strong ties to the Flathead Valley and people.”

So strong that his memorial service today at the St. Ignatius Longhouse drew people from around the region.

“I have to say I’ve never met a man like him that had so much positive – he was positive at all times. There was nothing that got him down,” says Francis Cullooyah, cultural director for the Kalispel Tribe, who came to Tuttle’s service from Cusick, Wash.

Cullooyah knew Tuttle, who hailed from Pine Ridge, through his work, through powwows and also through the art whose exhibitions took Tuttle around the country. Tuttle founded Red Nations Art, a family enterprise that grew around Tuttle’s traditional hide paintings, some of which sell for tens of thousands of dollars. He used elk, deer and buffalo hides, as well as the occasional moose or antelope hide, according to his Web site, here. Family members also painted and beaded.

Although Tuttle lived most recently in Lander, Wyo., near the Wind River Reservation, his late wife, Leah, was from the Flathead Reservation and Tuttle maintained his Montana ties, Cullooyah says.

While Tuttle’s death in an accident last Saturday near Columbia Falls, Mont., came as a shock, there was laughter at times during today’s service, Cullooyah says. He remembers a time when he and his family were following the Tuttles to a powwow in Idaho. Sonny Tuttle asked his wife to drive so that he could change into his powwow regalia in the camper, so as not to miss a minute of dancing when he arrived. As the two families pulled in, they were surprised to find good parking spots close to the powwow grounds. And when Sonny Tuttle leapt from the camper in his finery, a passer-by complimented him on being ready so early – a full week early.

Cullooyah laughed when he recalled that day. And then his voice cracked. “I learned something from him personally,” he said of his friend. “We shared a sweat lodge together, we shared a lot of interaction. He was probably one of my best friends.”

Gwen Florio

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Joe Medicine Crow talks to then-candidate Barack Obama during Obama's 2008 visit to Billings, Mont. (Billings Gazette/James Woodcock)

Joe Medicine Crow talks to then-candidate Barack Obama during Obama's 2008 visit to Billings, Mont. (Billings Gazette/James Woodcock)

Finally, the kind of celebrity we can get behind. Crow War Chief Joe Medicine Crow, who is 95, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor – from President Obama in just a couple of weeks. Read the AP story here.

Medicine Crow, who wore war paint under his World War II uniform, and stole horses from a Nazi camp while singing Crow battle songs, already holds a Bronze Star and the French Legion of Honor, and has been nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal. He became the first in his tribe to receive a master’s degree, and is its last surviving war chief.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester and Wyoming’s Alan Simpson nominated him for the medal. “Anyone who’s had the honor of meeting Joe knows he’s an American hero,” Tester says. “Joe earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom a long time ago. His lifetime of hard work, his devotion to the Crow Tribe and his dedication to this country will always be remembered.”

Medicine Crow will receive the medal from a relative. Obama became an honorary mem-ber of the tribe while campaigning in Montana.

Gwen Florio

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Bob Barker (AP/Damian Dovarganes)

Bob Barker (AP/Damian Dovarganes)


Just as yesterday’s theme was waiting … and waiting … and waiting, today’s seems to be outrage. And celebrities. And – stop the presses – eyebrow-raising celebrity behavior. Go figure. Maybe it’s the heat. People are cranky.

Bob Barker sure is. In North Carolina, the former game show host – with an assist from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – is calling for a tourism boycott against the Eastern Cherokee because of bears in privately owned zoos in Cherokee.

So is the tribe. “I’m appalled by his behavior and him accusing the Cherokee of being barbaric,” Chief Mitchell Hicks tells the Asheville Citizen-Times, here.

Barker, who met this week with tribal leaders, referred to the bear zoos as a “Third World spectacle.”

Both the tribe and the USDA inspect the zoos, the story says.

Gwen Florio

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Jessica Simpson (Associated Press)

Jessica Simpson (Associated Press)


The pop star used the phrase when asked if she’d try to get ex-squeeze Tony Romo to give back the $100,000 boat she bought him, according to this Us magazine story.

“I’m not an Indian giver,” she said.

Jacqueline Pata, who heads the National Congress of American Indians, patiently explains why that’s uncool. The phrase has transmogrified from one describing Native generosity into a slam generally taken to mean someone who gives a gift, then seeks it back.

“Most people flippantly use the comment ‘Indian giver’ without realizing its true meaning, Pata tells the magazine.

Hey, Jessica. Just say you’re sorry. Oh, and mean it.

That would help ease the agita brought on by a) the comment and b) the fact that Buffalo Post has delved into Us magazine territory. Good grief.

Gwen Florio

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It appears to be a day for posts about things delayed. First, the Cobell case; then the interminable indecision on federal recognition for Little Shell Chippewa. Now there’s this story about Maine – finally – giving official recognition to the man believed to be the first Native American to play major league ball.

Yesterday, the Penobscot tribe honored both Louis Sockalexis, who played for Cleveland Spiders in 1897, and his cousin, Andrew, who placed fourth in the marathon in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. Louis could throw a baseball across the Penobscot River; Andrew trained in the winter on that same frozen river, running with spikes on his shoes, according to this Boston Globe story. The Maine Legislature honored the two last month.

But Penobscot leaders say the National Baseball Hall of Fame still won’t acknowledge Louis Sockalexis as the first Native player in the majors, and Sports Illustrated omitted the cousins from its 1999 list of 50 greatest Maine athletes. The Globe reports that the Hall of Fame plans no changes, and that Sports Illustrated calls its list “very subjective,” and says it’ll consider the cousins for future lists. The story also talks about the controversy over the Penobscot request that the Cleveland Indians stop using the mascot Chief Wahoo.

Meanwhile, honoring the Sockalexis cousins is nothing new for the Penobscot. They just wish the rest of world – especially the sports world – would, too. “It’s all part of honoring our ancestors, and making sure they get the respect they are due,” Chief Kirk Francis tells the Globe.

Wonder how long that’ll take?

Gwen Florio

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U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. (U.S. Senate photo)

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. (U.S. Senate photo)

Montana’s junior senator, Democrat Jon Tester, weighs in today on the Bureau of Indian Affair’s announcement this week that it will delay by 60 days a decision on federal recognition for Montana’s Little Shell Band of the Chippewa.

Below is the letter Tester wrote to Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs George Skibine, in which he charts the long history of delays and strongly suggests that a decision be announced no later than Sept. 25. And, he invites the secretary to Montana to meet Little Shell people face to face.

Gwen Florio

Mr. George Skibine
Acting Principal Deputy
Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Mr. Skibine:

I am greatly concerned about your agency’s letter this week to the Little Shell Tribe of Montana postponing your decision to grant the tribe federal recognition.

I know how difficult and important these decisions are, but another delay for the Little Shell people is a major setback for them. As you know, the 4,300 members of the Little Shell Tribe have been waiting for many years for federal recognition, and all they’ve gotten is setback after setback.

George, members of unrecognized Indian tribes are suffering every day. Time is not on our side. And considering the timeline of events over the past 31 years, the Little Shell people deserve a decision – not another delay.

1978: BIA creates the Office of Federal Acknowledgement (OFA)
4/28/78: Little Shell submits its Letter of Intent to Petition for acknowledgement.
2000: State of Montana formally recognizes Little Shell Tribe
7/21/00: OFA issues its proposed favorable finding
3/12/01: Montana Legislature passes a resolution urging the Department of Interior to recognize the tribe.
8/1/07: OFA begins active consideration on Final Determination
7/24/08: OFA asks for, and receives an extension
1/15/08: OFA asks for, and receives another extension
7/27/09: OFA asks for, and receives yet another extension

As a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, I eagerly await your decision by no later than September 25. Please contact me immediately if the Little Shell Tribe cannot expect a decision by then.

As always, you’re welcome to visit Montana to see firsthand the issues the Little Shell people face, and to meet its members. I’d be happy to host you on a visit to the Big Sky State.

Sincerely,

Jon Tester
United States Senator

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Elouise Cobell (Evianne Netherwood-Schwesig/Missoulian)

Elouise Cobell (Missoulian photo)

That’s the gist of this editorial. Why settle quickly?

Well, duh.

The federal appeals court order – which said that yes, the government has to account for where millions or billions (depending on which side of the suit you’re on) of dollars in Indian trust funds went – put it much more elegantly than that. The government “cannot simply throw up its hands and stop the accounting,” the court said in overturning a lower court ruling.

Only problem with the ruling is that it means yet another delay in settling the issue. And there have already been too many delays – more than a century’s worth – in untangling accounts that date to 1887.

As lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell, who is Blackfeet from Montana, reminds people, “Tens of thousands of beneficiaries have died while this case has been pending without ever receiving an accounting of their trust assets.”

We’d like to think the case will be settled before even one more beneficiary passes. Of course, we’d also like world peace. Lacking that, read the editorial. And forward it along.

Gwen Florio

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