Archive for March, 2010


Bookmark and Share

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at the Arctic Ocean Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Chelsea, Quebec on Monday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at the Arctic Ocean Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Chelsea, Quebec on Monday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s criticism of Canada for not including indigenous people in an Arctic conference earlier this week has kicked up a firestorm. (See previous post, here.)

But the people at the center of the controversy are glad Clinton spoke up, according to Agence France-Presse.

“I’m grateful for her comments and I hope it encourages Canada to be more inclusive, or at the very least to consider inviting northern inhabitants at meetings such as this,” Duane Smith, head of the Canadian branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), tells the news agency, here.

Smith says his group, which lobbies on behalf of northern peoples, had asked to be included in the Arctic Coastal conference, but was turned down.

Clinton criticized that exclusion, as well as that of Iceland, Sweden and Finland, whose interests in the region also are legitimate, she said.

Canada is newly protective of the Arctic, because climate change is opening up new shipping lanes that could provide better access to huge mineral and fuel reserves. Other northern countries also lay claim to those.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon has said this week’s meeting “was not made to replace or undermine the Arctic Council,” which comprises northern nations and indigenous groups, meets biannually, according to AFP.

Gwen Florio

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Bookmark and Share

(Thanks to colleague Joe Nickell, who first posted this here on his Nickell’s Bag blog. An earlier casting call in Missoula drew hundreds of people. “Winter in the Blood,” by Blackfeet and Gros Ventre author James Welch, is set largely on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana):

Perry Lilley Sr. has his measurements taken by Yuan Hua recently at the University of Montana for a possible role in an upcoming film based on the book “Winter in the Blood” by the late Missoula writer James Welch. Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

Perry Lilley Sr. has his measurements taken by Yuan Hua recently at the University of Montana for a possible role in an upcoming film based on the book “Winter in the Blood” by the late Missoula writer James Welch. Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

The directors of the upcoming film, “Winter in the Blood” [see previous post, here] are holding another open casting call for Native American actors, this time in Great Falls.

Here’s info straight from the source:

Casting Director Rene Haynes (Twilight Saga: New Moon) and Directors Andrew and Alex Smith (The Slaughter Rule) will be conducting an Open Casting Call April 10th & 11th, at the Great Falls Civic Center, 2 Park Drive South Great Falls, MT 59401, from 11:00am-3:00pm

Seeking: Native American BOYS (ages 10-17) for PRINCIPAL LEAD speaking roles. No acting experience necessary. Native American MEN & WOMEN (mid 20’s through mid 50’s) for both speaking and non-speaking roles. If you have attended another Winter in the Blood Casting Call, you need not audition again.

For more information and audition materials, click here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



Bookmark and Share

In case you missed the envelope in your mailbox, or all of the ads on television and the radio, the U.S. Census is going all-out this year to get an accurate count of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Ads like the one above are on the Census Web site, as well as YouTube.

It features Native leaders like Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr.; National Congress of American Indians President Joe Garcia, and Cook Inlet Tribal Council President Gloria O’Neill, who is Yup’ik.

Gwen Florio

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Joey Piscitelli, who says he was sexually abused by a priest, and is the Northern California Director of SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) talks about Pope Benedict XVI, as Melanie Sakoda, left, holds a sign during a news conference at a demonstration in front of the Archdiocese headquarters in San Francisco, Monday, March 29, 2010. The demonstration was held against the Catholic church about sexual abuse remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Joey Piscitelli, who says he was sexually abused by a priest, and is the Northern California Director of SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) talks about Pope Benedict XVI, as Melanie Sakoda, left, holds a sign during a news conference at a demonstration in front of the Archdiocese headquarters in San Francisco, Monday, March 29, 2010. The demonstration was held against the Catholic church about sexual abuse remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)



Bookmark and Share

Pope Benedict XVI (AP/Pier Paolo Cito)

Pope Benedict XVI (AP/Pier Paolo Cito)

The priest abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic church seems to be exploding, with allegations pouring in of abuse in Europe and the United States that was either ignored or swept under the rug at very high levels.

But there’s been little mention in tumult of the past few weeks of abuse on Indian reservations. (See previous posts, here and here.)

Now, Clara Vargas, a member of the Yakama Tribe aims to change that, by traveling to Rome, where she’ll testify Saturday before the Italian Parliament. As Leah Beth Ward of the Yakima Herald-Republic reports here:

    Vargas, 50, a Colville tribal member who now lives in Tacoma, is traveling to Rome as part of a crusade by abuse victims to pressure the Vatican into taking more responsibility for the child sex abuse scandal that is closing in on the church and Pope Benedict XVI.

    Putting pressure on elected officials is a way to force the Pope to take responsibility, said Vargas, who was a student at St. Mary’s Mission near Omak from second through eighth grade.

    She and several Yakama tribal members are part of a lawsuit filed two years ago in U.S. District Court by the Tamaki Law Firm of Yakima against the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, which operated St. Mary’s in Okanogan County.

“I’m going to tell them how the abuse and neglect affected me and how I reported it years ago and they never did anything,” Vargas tells Ward.

The Rev. Kevin Annett, a Canadian minister, came up with the idea of the trip. He’s taken up the cause of aboriginal people abused in boarding schools in Canada.

Ward’s story quotes the Web site, HiddenFromHistory.org: “Aboriginal elders from Canada will offer prayers for their friends and relatives who died or were killed in Catholic Indian residential schools, at the institution in Rome responsible for their death. And they will name Pope Benedict, Joseph Ratzinger, as the one ultimately responsible.”

The Vatican has been adamant in its denials that the Pope bears any personal responsibility in the abuse scandal.

Gwen Florio

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Bookmark and Share

University of Idaho professor Dr. Ed Galindo worked with a beaver on research that involves testing hair samples (DNA) and asessing health. (Ed Galindo courtesy photo to Indian Country Today)

University of Idaho professor Dr. Ed Galindo worked with a beaver on research that involves testing hair samples (DNA) and asessing health. (Ed Galindo courtesy photo to Indian Country Today)

Scientists deal with facts. But there’s one fact that University of Idaho professor Ed Galindo wants to change – that only 0.3 percent of engineers in the United States are Native American.

But how to change it? Schools need to, as Galindo tells Indian Country Today’s Tanya Lee, here, “build a different paradigm of educating Native scholars.”

His approach is three-pronged: More faculty with advanced degrees at the 36 tribal colleges. More role models in science fields for Native students. And more research related to tribes:

    The result is what Galindo, a Yaqui Indian with strong ties to the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, calls it the ISTEM (Indigenous Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education program….

    ISTEM is not a stand-alone program. “It’s a process of respect, understanding, a holistic curriculum where science degree candidates sit in on classes on tribal sovereignty, health, leadership and law. Many of these scholars will go back to their communities. They will be more valuable to their communities that way than if they were highly specialized in just one area,” Galindo said.

So far, the Idaho program has two participants, former astronaut John Herrington, who is Chickasaw, and Frank Finley, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and a science teacher at Salish Kootenai College in Montana.

As Finley tells Lee, “Eurocentric scientific training is an entirely linear strategy. A researcher will go out and study an animal for three or four months in the summer, and then write his master’s thesis. Natives don’t do that. A hunter will follow an animal all year round. It takes half a lifetime to understand the life cycle of an elk, say. You can’t learn enough in three months to say you know anything.”

Meanwhile, Glaindo is looking for funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA and National Institutes of Health, and hopes eventually to enroll 20 students in his program.

Gwen Florio

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Bookmark and Share

Just getting electricity to isolated Navajo Nation homes can be a challenge, let alone high-speed Internet. (AP photo)

Just getting electricity to isolated Navajo Nation homes can be a challenge, let alone high-speed Internet. (AP photo)


About a dozen years ago, I went to the Navajo Nation to do a story on a grant that provided school computers. Only problem was, there were no phone lines in the community so that the computers could be hooked up.

Times change. Computers don’t need phone lines anymore, but that doesn’t mean computer hookups are any less problematic. The Navajo Nation, like many reservations, comes up short in terms of broadband access.

But according to this story in the Salt Lake Tribune, some $32 million in stimulus funds will increase broadband access and high-speed Internet to the Nation’s 110 chapters.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke calls the move “absolutely essential for the health and the wealth of the Navajo Nation. Too many people are stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

Only a few chapter houses have glacially slow dial-up, while many places on the reservation still lack phone and electrical service.

“I think it’s the greatest thing that’s happened,” Ken Maryboy, who represents three chapters in the Four Corners area, tells the Trib. “We are in dire need in communication. With Utah Navajos, there’s no such thing as fiber optics.”

Gwen Florio

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Seeking positive solutions  New efforts are under way to seek positive solutions to the problems at Whiteclay. In this 2006 file photo, a sobriety ride passes through Whiteclay. (WILLIAM LAUER / Lincoln Journal Star)

New efforts are under way to seek positive solutions to the problems at Whiteclay. In this 2006 file photo, a sobriety ride passes through Whiteclay. (WILLIAM LAUER / Lincoln Journal Star)


Bookmark and Share

Talk about putting a game face on things. Nebraska Sen. LeRoy Louden tried to do just that when he talked about the $25,000 allotted as seed money for a grant program to deal with problems stemming from beer stores in the town of Whiteclay.

“It wasn’t as much money as I would have liked to have,” Louden tells Nancy Hicks of the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star, here. “But at least we got the thing moving.

That would be the understatement of the century. Louden originally sought ten times that much, $250,000, for economic development, law enforcement and health-related programs. The amount is equivalent to what Nebraska gets in sales tax on beer sold in the town.

Yesterday’s much smaller amount was in the first round of approval for the appropriations bill. From Hicks’ account, debate on the matter sometimes got ugly:

    Some senators questioned the value of “throwing money” at Whiteclay, where residents of the nearby Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota buy about 4 million cans of beer a year, where the streets are littered with beer cans and drunks urinate in public.

    But others said it’s about time the Legislature did something.

    The state’s attitude toward Whiteclay has “gone beyond benign neglect. There are some who think it is deliberate neglect,” Omaha Sen. Brenda Council said as senators debated whether money aimed at the problems would do any good.

Meanwhile, the Oglala Sioux Tribe plans a nursing home just outside Whiteclay that should bring as many as 100 new jobs.

Gwen Florio

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Bookmark and Share

The white bison donated to the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. (CBC photo)

The white bison donated to the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. (CBC photo)

Members of Manitoba’s Sioux Valley Dakota Nation say the gift of a white bison calf from the city of Winnipeg signifies “a new beginning.”

“I think that’s the easiest way to put it,” Chief Donna Elk tells the CBC, here, “to have this day to look back on and to remember, to say to our children that the white buffalo has come home.” (There’s a the video embedded in the link.)

The city donated two calves – one white and one brown from its Assiniboine Park Zoo, where they were sired by Blizzard, a white bison bull.

The white bison is considered a strong spiritual symbol denoting renewal.

As the CBC reported:

    Dozens of First Nations people from across Saskatchewan, Manitoba and South Dakota attended the ceremony. One of them was Arvol Looking Horse from Green Grass, S.D., the 19th generation carrier of the sacred bundle and pipe believed to have been given to the Dakota people many centuries ago by the White Buffalo Calf Woman.


Gwen Florio

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,



Bookmark and Share

From left to right, Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Store, Russsia's Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, USA's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Denmark's Minister for Justice Lars Barfoed take part in a photo during the Arctic Ocean Foreign Ministers' Meeting  in Chelsea, Quebec, Canada, Monday, March 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press)

From left to right, Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Store, Russsia's Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, USA's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Denmark's Minister for Justice Lars Barfoed take part in a photo during the Arctic Ocean Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Chelsea, Quebec, Canada, Monday, March 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press)

Notice anything about the photo to the right? It’s of foreign ministers invited to a Canadian forum on the Arctic, designed to further cooperation in the region.

Yep, there’s not an indigenous person in the lot.

And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is mad about that. Not a single representative from the region’s indigenous groups was invited to yesterday’s Arctic Coastal forum, she says, according to this story by Rob Gillies of the Associated Press. Clinton didn’t hold back.

In remarks termed by the Canadian press as a “bombshell,” Clinton said that “Significant international discussions on Arctic issues should include those who have legitimate interests in the region. And I hope the Arctic will always showcase our ability to work together, not create new divisions.”

As Gillies writes:

    In what appeared to be a further expression of her displeasure, Clinton did not attend what was planned as a group news conference following the meeting. Instead, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon ended up doing the news conference by himself.

    Although the goal of the gathering was to improve Arctic cooperation, just the U.S., Canada, Russia, Denmark and Norway were invited.

    Sweden, Finland, Iceland and indigenous groups are a part of the broader Arctic Council group that meets regularly, but were not invited to the Canadian forum.

A number of countries are vying for control of the Arctic and its rich mineral and petroleum resources – newly accessible as melting ice, due to climate change, creates new shipping routes. Canada says that if a reliable Northwest Passage opens, it belongs to Canada. But the Unites States and others say those would be international waters.


Gwen Florio

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Bookmark and Share

Mark Trahant is a Kaiser Media Fellow examining the Indian Health Service and its relevance to the national health care reform debate. He is a member of Idaho’s Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Comment here.

Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant

Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said: “If you’ve been in government a long time, as I have been, then the most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence. Why is this exciting? Because it’s rare.” When I read the quote, even today, I can hear the late New York senator’s voice booming, his last word full with extra punctuation.

Today I’m excited for the government. Health care reform should bring nutrition to a starving Indian health system. And, if the next test for health care reform is execution, then the government might be on the right course. The New York Times reported Sunday that Dr. Donald Berwick is the president’s choice to head the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

This is a choice that exceeds Moynihan’s rareness of competency. Berwick represents the ideal, the one person you think could help the government, the people and the medical profession come together and a coalesce around the idea of excellent health care. Last December at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement conference I watched hundreds of professionals cheer on Berwick as they would a rock star. This is a doctor who’s willing to talk about what’s really important to people. “Health care has no intrinsic value at all. None, Health does. Joy does. Peace does,” he said in December. “The best hospital bed is empty. The best CT scan is the one we don’t need. The best doctor’s visit is the one we don’t need.”

Imagine that. Doctors we don’t need.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,