Archive for April, 2010

Re-enactors fire their muskets at British soldiers near Fort Ticonderoga. There are as many as 3,000 French and Indian War re-enactors in the United States and another 800 in Canada. (AP photo)

Re-enactors fire their muskets at British soldiers near Fort Ticonderoga. There are as many as 3,000 French and Indian War re-enactors in the United States and another 800 in Canada. (AP photo)

A popular re-enactment of the French and Indian Wars in upstate New York is being threatened by New York state’s ongoing budget crisis, according to Chris Carola of the Associated Press.

The state-sponsored re-enactments attract more than 100,000 people and add millions to area coffers. But host sites for the last two re-enactments have yet to be fully reimbursed for the state-sponsored event.

This year, on July 16-19, the city of Ogdensburg is to host a final re-enactment as part of the state’s French and Indian War 250th Anniversary Commemoration Commission.

But, Carola writes here, the Fort La Presentation Association since has been told by the commission that $90,000 promised it isn’t available:

    The event being held July 16-18 along the St. Lawrence River will commemorate the last battle fought during the French and Indian War (1755-63), which pitted Britain and its Native American allies against the French and their Indian allies.

    From 1749 to 1759, Ogdensburg was the site of Fort La Presentation, a key French outpost upriver from Montreal. The French garrison moved to nearby Fort Levis as a British force approached in the summer of 1760. Fort Levis surrendered after a three-day battle, and Montreal capitulated soon after. The Treaty of Paris signed in 1763 gave Britain control of Canada.

    Because of its remote location, the Ogdensburg re-enactment wasn’t expected to be as well-attended as the signature events held at Lake George (2007), Fort Ticonderoga (2008) and Old Fort Niagara (2009).

Area officials, however, say they badly need the event and the revenue it brings.

Read more about the events here and here.

Meanwhile, we’re curious as to whether members of area tribes take part in these re-enactments, as happens with annual re-enactment of the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana. Anybody know?


Gwen Florio

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30
Apr

How would YOU define a Native American?

   Posted by: admin    in Education, racism


In light of too many posts we end up running on this blog, it’s good to have this thoughtful piece by Kevin Abourezk of the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star about the ways people view Native Americans. For links to more drawings and a video, click here:

Bismarck, N.D., may not be considered a cultural mecca by many, but the town’s 2,200 Native residents taught Kay Kemmet that Native people are just people.

So when a fellow student asked her recently to draw images that came to her mind when she thought of Native Americans, the freshman University of Nebraska-Lincoln student drew two stick figures waving their arms high.

“I think of regular people,” Kemmet wrote above the sketch.

But many of the UNL students asked during a recent student survey to draw their perceptions of Natives drew bottles of booze and casinos. Others, headdresses and tipis.

One student simply wrote: “I’m a terrible artist, but here are labels: victims, oppressed, impoverished.”

Another wrote: “Poor. Live in trailers or old houses. Alcoholics. Disfunctional (sic) homes. Pay for cable before food. Many kids, high school dropouts.”

A team of five UNL students distributed the surveys two weeks ago as part of a Mass Media and Society class assignment.

Read the rest of this entry »

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School Superintendent Tim Mitchell is in the midst of a transition from the Chamberlain School District in South Dakota to one in Rapid City.

Each district has a significant population of Native students. So that transition hasn’t been helped by this week’s incident involving six Chamberlain students showing up for classes in homemade “White Pride” T-shirts that they said were a reaction to other students’ “Native Pride” garb.

As Kayla Gahagan of the Rapid City Journal reports here:

Chamberlain students in 'White Pride' T-shirts. (KELO-TV)

Chamberlain students in 'White Pride' T-shirts. (KELO-TV)

    Mitchell, who was selected as Rapid City’s new school superintendent in part for his successes in Chamberlain to bridge the gap between the Native and non-native community, scrambled to deal with the incident he described as “polarizing.”

    “It really ignited a firestorm,” he said.

    The T-shirts said “Cracker,” on the back, which is often used as a derogatory slang term for impoverished white people, and had large handrawn Celtic Crosses, a symbol often used by white supremacists. On the front of the shirts was the word “Peace” and a peace sign.

Mitchell says students and parents in Rapid City will likely view his handling of the Chamberlain incident – the students in the “White Pride” shirts were asked to change their shirts, but two refused and left for the day – as a litmus test. And he called the situation a “defining moment in my legacy here.”

Chamberlain serves serves the Crow Creek Sioux and Lower Brule Indian reservations. Many people from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation live and work in Rapid City. During Mitchell’s 15-year tenure at Chamberlain, Native American students’ test scores have improved, and he’s implemented cultural programs and curriculum to support them.

Mike Tyrell, executive director of the private St. Joseph’s Indian School, says that “we do have students offended by the whole situation.” But, he says, “Our idea is to work with kids to see this as a growth opportunity, instead of retaliation.”

Gwen Florio

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Guy Lonechild (CBC photo)

Guy Lonechild (CBC photo)

A letter written earlier this month by Guy Lonechild, chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), says the school was told it faced closure if it failed to take drastic steps to deal with financial problems.

The April 16 letter, which was leaked to the media, was sent to the university’s president and chair of the board of governors, according to this CBC story. It was written after Lonechild met with, among others, Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl.

Provincial and federal funding to the school, in Regina, was cut in January after allegations of financial mismanagement. The provincial government has since agreed to restore about $5 million with the provision that the University of Regina administer the money. About $7 million in federal funds remains up in the air.

Yesterday, board chair Joely BigEagle said more staff cuts are likely, but that she expects the school, which has about 820 students, to be open in the fall.

Gwen Florio

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A.J. Longsoldier, 18, who died after falling ill in jail. (Fort Belknap photo)

A.J. Longsoldier, 18, who died after falling ill in jail. (Fort Belknap photo)


A lot was going on yesterday at the Montana Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council meeting.

The group heard from Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians, who made a rare visit to Montana.

And, it asked Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of 18-year-old basketball star A.J. Longsoldier, who died shortly after he was taken from a northern Montana jail to a nearby hospital.

Susan Olp of the Billings Gazette has the story here:

Keel, who is Chickasaw, spoke about the Indian Health Care Improvement Act; the problem of inadequate and deteriorating reservation housing, and the overwhelming issue of under-funding for Indian Country issues in general.

Tribal Leaders Council James Steele Jr. of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, talked about the difficulty of maintaining reservation roads with federal funding.

But perhaps the most emotional issue was the approval of the resolution calling for action surrounding the death of Longsoldier, from the Fort Belknap Reservation and a former basketball standout at Hays-Lodgepole High School. He was jailed on an alleged probation violation. During his two days in jail, he complained of feeling ill, and was twice taken to the hospital and died the second time:

    While in jail, he appeared to be hallucinating, was talking to himself and pulled out some of his hair. An autopsy determined that LongSoldier died from acute alcohol withdrawal. A coroner’s inquest in March found that the detention officers were not criminally liable in the death.

    Tracy King, president of the Fort Belknap Tribal Council, who attended the inquest, raised the issue at the meeting. King said more should have been done for LongSoldier to help save his life.

    He called the handling of the youth in jail “a civil rights violation.”

“I see too many of our youth being railroaded by systems that don’t work in their favor,” King said.

Dr. Kathleen Masis, who works for the Tribal Leaders Council, calls his death a warning.

“It means we need to make sure what is represented as happening never happens again, to an Indian or non-Indian.”

Gwen Florio

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Some of the homemade "white pride" shirts. (KELO TV)

Here’s the entire story from the Associated Press:

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (AP) School officials in Chamberlain are investigating an incident in which six high school students wore homemade T-shirts proclaiming “White Pride World Wide.”

A derogatory slang term for impoverished white people also was on the back of each shirt, along with a symbol often used by white supremacists. On the front of the shirts was the word “Peace” and a peace sign.

Superintendent of Schools Tim Mitchell says officials are looking into why the students made the shirts. He says they violated the school’s dress policy. Two of the students changed their shirts and the other four left school.

One of them, 16-year-old Codie Novotny, says the shirts were a response to accusations by some American Indian students that white students and teachers are racist. She also says Indian students are allowed to wear clothing proclaiming “Native Pride.”

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Western Michigan University has issued the following news release:

These gloves were stolen from a display case in Western Michigan University’s Waldo Library. (Courtesy photo)

These gloves were stolen from a display case in Western Michigan University’s Waldo Library. (Courtesy photo)


KALAMAZOO – A reward of $300 has been offered for information leading to the identification and arrest of a suspect in the theft of Native American gloves from the 1930s stolen from Western Michigan University’s Waldo Library sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday, April 27-28.

Based on security camera images, the suspect is described as a white male, in his late teens or early 20s, dark hair, medium height and build.

The gloves were displayed in a plexiglas case on the library’s main floor. The suspect removed the case from the wall and was able to open the case and remove the gloves. The gloves, valued at about $1,000, are part of the University’s Indian Heritage Collection.

If you have any information about the artifact or suspect, please contact WMU Public Safety at (269) 387-5555 or Silent Observer at (269) 343-2100.

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Repairs to schools in Indian Country are long overdue. Now it looks as though some of that work will get done. Here’s the entire story from the Associated Press:

A building at the Santa Fe Indian School was one of 18 demolished there in 2008 because they were full of asbestos and otherwise hazardous. (State of New Mexico photo)

A building at the Santa Fe Indian School was one of 18 demolished there in 2008 because they were full of asbestos and otherwise hazardous. (State of New Mexico photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities say savings in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ construction projects will be used to complete school repairs in Arizona, New Mexico and South Dakota.

Larry Echo Hawk, assistant Interior secretary for Indian Affairs, says favorable pricing and aggressive management of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act large construction projects have resulted in savings of $33 million. That’s 11 percent of Indian Affairs’ construction allocation under the Recovery Act.

Echo Hawk says Indian Affairs will use the savings to complete a new K-8 Kaibeto School in Arizona and replace the snow-damaged gymnasium at the Shonto Boarding School, which also is on Arizona’s portion of the Navajo Nation.

Funds also will go to gym upgrade projects at the St. Francis Indian School in South Dakota and the Santa Fe Indian School in New Mexico.

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A custom-made patchwork coat belonging to Jimi Hendrix – whose sense of style was exceeded only by his guitar playing – will be exhibited at the National Museum of the American Indian.

The Washington Post’s Reliable Source column has the story here:

Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix was proud of his Native American heritage, his sister says. (File photo)

Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix was proud of his Native American heritage, his sister says. (File photo)

    Say the name Jimi Hendrix and you think: Rock star. Woodstock. Crazy costumes. Greatest electric guitar player ever.

    But his sister Janie and the National Museum of the American Indian want you to know that part of his great style came from his Native American ancestry. Now 49 and head of Jimi Hendrix’s Seattle-based estate, she brought one of the musician’s custom-made coats and two replica guitars to the museum Wednesday for an upcoming exhibit, “Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture,” which opens in July.

    “Having Native American culture is really important to our family,” said Janie, Jimi’s little sister from his father’s second marriage. She’s the keeper of Jimi’s flame, the one who tries preserve the history and family story behind the images.

    Jimi, she told us, got his fashion sense from their paternal grandmother, who was part Cherokee, played vaudeville and had a flamboyant collection of feather hats and flashy costumes.

Of the coat, she says, “We’ve been saving this piece for some special exhibit,” she said. “When this request came, it just felt natural.”

Gwen Florio

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In this Oct. 30, 2010 file photo, the sun rises over Nantucket Sound as seen from Popponesset Beach in Mashpee, Mass., on Cape Cod. Sunrise ceremonies are important to the Wampanoag tribes, who say a planned wind farm will disrupt those.  (AP Photo/Julia Cumes, File)

In this Oct. 30, 2010 file photo, the sun rises over Nantucket Sound as seen from Popponesset Beach in Mashpee, Mass., on Cape Cod. Sunrise ceremonies are important to the Wampanoag tribes, who say a planned wind farm will disrupt those. (AP Photo/Julia Cumes, File)

Even though Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, foes of the giant offshore wind power project say they won’t give up.

Those foes include Wampanoag tribes, who objected to the project because it will interfere with sunrise ceremonies off Mashpee.

As Indian Country Today’s Gale Courey Toensing writes here:

    The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Cape Cod and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) on Martha’s Vineyard have vigorously opposed the project. The wind energy plant would obscure their view of the rising sun in ceremony, and the Sound, which was once dry land, is where their ancestors lived and were buried. Both nations have urged the secretary to require Cape Wind to relocate the project a few miles further offshore where they would be out of sight.

Those objections remain, even though Salazar says the size of the project has been reduced, to 130 turbines, and steps will be taken to mitigate their visibility.

Salazar’s decision is “a federal embarrassment,” Buddy Vanderhoop, a Wampanoag tribal member and commercial fisherman, tells the Boston Herald, here.

“It’s a slap in the face to all the tribes all over the U.S. who are backing us, and all of the people who make their living” on the waters that would be affected, he says.

And Audra Parker, executive director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, says that “the fight is far from over. It will ultimately be decided in a court – and based on facts, not politics.”

The Wampanoag, along with the Alliance, are preparing a legal challenge.

Gwen Florio

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