Archive for October, 2010

National Native American Heritage month
Monday marks the beginning of National Native American Heritage month, a time to celebrate the contributions and culture of the First Americans. A full timeline of events that led to the official establishment of the can be found at the Native American Heritage Month website.

There’s list of national events taking place during November there as well. The Library of Congress site also is host to a multitude of other multimedia, photos and links to share about the month.

Here’s an excerpt from President Barack Obama’s presidential proclamation on NNAHM released last week:

    America’s journey has been marked both by bright times of progress and dark moments of injustice for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Since the birth of America, they have contributed immeasurably to our country and our heritage, distinguishing themselves as scholars, artists, entrepreneurs, and leaders in all aspects of our society. Native Americans have also served in the United States Armed Forces with honor and distinction, defending the security of our Nation with their lives. Yet, our tribal communities face stark realities, including disproportionately high rates of poverty, unemployment, crime, and disease. These disparities are unacceptable, and we must acknowledge both our history and our current challenges if we are to ensure that all of our children have an equal opportunity to pursue the American dream. From upholding the tribal sovereignty recognized and reaffirmed in our Constitution and laws to strengthening our unique nation-to- nation relationship, my Administration stands firm in fulfilling our Nation’s commitments.

Dancing, fried bread and Native American culture kicks of heritage month

(Michael Bettis | Collegian)  Sophomore civil engineering major Adele Nez, left, co-President of the CSU chapter of the AISES volunteers for duties during Friday’s Ram Nation and Southern Outlawz Drum Performance and Frybread Sale on the Plaza. Delbert Willie, longtime AISES member is at right.

(Michael Bettis | Collegian) Sophomore civil engineering major Adele Nez, left, co-President of the CSU chapter of the AISES volunteers for duties during Friday’s Ram Nation and Southern Outlawz Drum Performance and Frybread Sale on the Plaza. Delbert Willie, longtime AISES member is at right.


Two Native students song and dance groups helped kick-off National Native America Heritage month at Colorado State University’s campus by holding a showcase of music.

A focus of this year’s showcase was to attract a larger-than-usual student base to the annual powwow, held Sunday. The Rocky Mountain Collegian reported that in order for the student cultural organization American Indian Science and Engineering Society, which hosts to powwow, to secure more funding, a bigger effort needed to be set forth to involve those on campus.

    According to Samantha Raso, ASCSU director of Diversity and Outreach, AISES occasions in years past have attracted large Fort Collins crowds, but few attendees were students.

    Such observations made it hard for AISES to secure student fees funding for its events last year. To increase the likelihood of a majority vote in favor of allocating the funds, Raso met with the group before it made its request.

Manitoba schools to teach children about treaties

(KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)  From left, elders Doris Pratt and Harry Bone chat with Jamie Wilson and Rosina McGillivary from Joe Ross School.

(KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) From left, elders Doris Pratt and Harry Bone chat with Jamie Wilson and Rosina McGillivary from Joe Ross School.


A pilot program in Manitoba, Winnipeg, is looking to bring the history of the treaties to children in First Nation and public schools, the Winnipeg Free Press reports.The program

It’s been 139 years since the “first treaty” was signed, and almost 70 have been signed since, Manitoba Treaty Relations commissioner Jamie Wilson told teachers gathered to learn about the project. Much of the information and history surrounding the agreements have been misunderstood in many ways, Wilson said. The collaboration between First Nation and governments is exciting.

    “The commission’s role is significant in the province,” he said. “Treaties are about relationships — they form a covenant that lives in perpetuity. Treaties are a fundamental building block of Canada.”

Chuck Haga of the Grand Forks Herald reports on some of finding presented Friday at the American Indian Health Research Conference:

NORTH DAKOTA – American Indians die from such preventable diseases as diabetes at far higher rates than other Americans, especially in North Dakota and other states in the region, and a leading Indian health authority says more tribally driven research is needed to reduce such disparities.

Also, “chronic under-funding of the Indian Health Service (IHS) has more impact on Indian health than any disease,” Dr. Donald Warne told participants in a UND-sponsored conference on Indian health research.

He said diabetes, depression and alcoholism — a “triad” of debilitating conditions common in Indian communities — each aggravates the others and hampers treatment.

“We don’t address this holistically,” as cultural traditions would suggest, Warne said. “Instead, we cut treatment in half; the medical side isn’t integrated with the behavioral side. I think we’ve proven this is not working.

“Our traditional healers would find this (divided approach) ridiculous.”

Warne, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe from Pine Ridge, S.D., spoke Friday at the eighth annual American Indian Health Research Conference at the Alerus Center.

Recently appointed director of Sanford Health’s new Office of Native American Health, he will coordinate activities involving the hospital system, the IHS and the 28 tribes within Sanford’s coverage area in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

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Courtesy of Yale

Courtesy of Yale


An orphan born on a Winnebago reservation in Nebraska, Henry Roe Cloud was the first Native American to earn a degree from Yale. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees there, and most significantly, according to the Yale press release, “devoted his life to promoting the self-identity and well-being of fellow American Indians.”

His later work focused on finding more opportunities for Native American education and advocating for changes in government policies toward Indians.

Cloud’s legacy will be celebrated at the third annual Henry Roe Cloud conference on Yale’s campus beginning Nov. 5.

    Cloud made his mark as an educator who sought to broaden educational opportunities for American Indian youth beyond vocational training, and as an effective public advocate for changing federal policies toward Native Americans. In 1915 he founded the Roe Indian Institute and served as its superintendent for many years. Cloud co-authored the landmark Meriam Report of 1928, titled “The Problem of Indian Administration,” which challenged long-standing government policy and resulted in significant reforms.

    “There may have been other Native Americans at Yale before Henry Cloud, but he was the first who identified himself that way,” says Ted Van Alst, an assistant dean at Yale, and director of Yale’s Native American Cultural Center (NACC), as well as one of the organizers of the conference. Van Alst notes that Cloud was one of the earliest proponents of Native self-awareness. Cloud sought, Van Alst contends, to reverse the policy of assimilation that had defined official American Indian education since Colonial times.

    Jenna Cederberg

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A local work crew helps construct a health clinic in Hughes. (Courtesy Photo, J.C. Crawford / Courtesy photo)

A local work crew helps construct a health clinic in Hughes. (Courtesy Photo, J.C. Crawford / Courtesy photo)


The National Indian Health Board recently recognized the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Division of Environmental Health and Engineering with the Area/Regional Impact Award for its work with the Alaska village clinic construction program.

The honor is bestowed each year upon an individual or group displaying positive difference in health care quality and availability for Alaska Natives and American Indians.

The Dutch Harbor Fisherman reports that 114 clinics were built after careful planning and collaboration between DEHE, the Denali Commission and several other groups.

Those off the road system aren’t off the charts anymore – the clinics are state-of-the-art and designed to be as efficient as possible in Alaska’s often isolated villages.

The Harbor Fisherman pieces notes that the new clinics off care and – mighty important in this economy – jobs.

    The commitment to use local force account labor for clinic construction where possible means Alaska’s rural residents have seen new job opportunities and developed a sense of ownership in local health care facilities from the ground up. Once the clinics are ready for use, they provide long-term local jobs in health care and facility maintenance in addition to state-of-the-art health care.

    Jenna Cederberg

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Sure to incite some debate, officials of a pueblo in New Mexico has said it is banning trick-or-treating this year (some headlines even said “canceled Halloween”).

Jemez Pueblo Gov. Joshua Madalena told Santa Fe’s New Mexican that an earlier killing in the area and fears of further violence had spurred a conversation about how Halloween was not a part of the tribe’s culture. No trick-or-treating will be allowed on tribal lands.

A 21-year-old was killed in gruesome fashion last month.

    “That really made me and my Tribal Council and my religious leaders step back and take a look at where are we now,” he said. “The religious leaders had told me that this (Halloween) is not a part of our culture. Many of them are older men and stated that, ‘When I was young, we didn’t have this. When did it start? And look at now, you know. We’ve lost control.’ ”

    Last month, Lucas Michael Ray Steven Toledo, 22, of Jemez Pueblo was charged with stabbing to death Matthew Panana, 21, also of Jemez Pueblo, then trying to disembowel him.

    Jenna Cederberg

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Fetal alcohol syndrome and its toll on families are front and center in this Native Sun News piece:

Roxie High Bear holds protest sign across the street from Little Wound High School. (Randall Howell, Native Sun News)

Roxie High Bear holds protest sign across the street from Little Wound High School. (Randall Howell, Native Sun News)

Photographed and written by Randall Howell, Native Sun News Correspondent

KYLE – They’re numbers may have been small, but their voices were strong.

“Don’t Steal Children,” said a sign carried by Leonora Young Bull Bear.

Young Bull Bear said she has lost two grandchildren – both with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) – to the state’s Department of Social Services.
During her protest across the street from Little Wound School in Kyle on Thursday, Oct. 21, Young Bull Bear, Kyle, said her children belonged at home with her and their family members, “not in some boarding school in Aberdeen or who knows where.”
As a spotted eagle circled high overhead, Young Bull Bear was joined by Josephine Kills Enemy, a protester who also said her challenged children were taken from her and that now she has “visitation every other weekend” instead of raising them at home.

“I’m trying to get my great grandson, Jessie, back,” said Kills Enemy, also from Kyle. Jessie Black Tail Deer, 16 months old, has yet to meet his father, Bryan Kills Enemy, said the demonstrator. “He (the father) wants to meet him.”

During a gusting October wind, the demonstrators made it clear that they were displeased with the “lack of support” from Little Wound High School – a school “that’s supposed to provide transportation, supervision and instruction for my boys,” said Young Bull Bear, who has been raising her FAS boys for nearly 10 years now.

The boys, Aleondreaux Shae Peters, 16, and Micha Lamar Peters, 15, are her sister’s daughter’s children – teens who “will not learn beyond their current level,” she said. “They were happy at home,” said Young Bull Bear. “They just needed the support that Little Wound was supposed to provide for them. Instead, they (LOWO) took them away. I’m not even sure where they are … I think one’s in Aberdeen.”

One of the Peters boys is visually handicapped; the other is both visually and hearing handicapped, said Young Bull Bear, who was driving them to and from school daily, despite the district’s published special-needs policy of providing transportation.

In most cases, last week’s protestors said they already had tried to get redress from the Little Wound School Board, the school’s instructors, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the state Department of Social Services and the South Dakota State School for the Visually Handicapped – all to no avail.

Young Bull Bear said she was scheduled for an October custody hearing on the teen boys, but instead the teens were “picked up and taken … They just showed up and took them.” That’s why, she said, she made a protest sign that said: “Don’t Steal Children.”
Meanwhile, Kills Enemy also said she had tried the court system.

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 Riders make their way through a wash near Indian Canyons Golf Resort.   (David Bauman / The Press-Enterprise)

Riders make their way through a wash near Indian Canyons Golf Resort. (David Bauman / The Press-Enterprise)

California recreationalists are protesting a deal that would swap land between the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and U.S. Bureau of Land Management within the Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument in California.

According to the Press-Enterprise in California, under the plan, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management would exchange 9 square miles in the northern part of the monument for 2.3 square miles belonging to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Tribal officials argue the land is a part “traditional use area” and contains historic Indian rock art and remnants of Cahuilla villages and campsites, the PE reported.

A coalition of bikers, hikers and land users say they are afraid access will be changed, as the swap could open the space up to development and new regulations.

    The tribe would gain 5,799 acres of mostly inaccessible land, except for two key sections with trails, including part of the nationally ranked Skyline Trail, better known as Cactus-to-Clouds, a challenging hike from the Palm Springs Desert Museum to Mount San Jacinto Peak. Tribal members say the land, which contains ancient art and village sites, belonged to their ancestors and should have been part of their holdings all along.

    Though the tribe says it won’t make changes, members of the Desert Trails Coalition are campaigning to block the exchange. They say it could result in restrictions on 11.6 miles of trails, including Thielman, Garstin, Araby and Wild Horse, that cross land the tribe will acquire. Mountain biking on 3 miles of trails would be restricted to protect habitat, according to an environmental assessment completed as part of the proposed land exchange.

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Mike Trahant

Mike Trahant


Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s new book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – The election is nearly a week away and predictions are cheaper than a cup of bad coffee. “We see good news for Republicans,” says The New York Times in its blog, fivethirtyeight.com “Although not necessarily better news for them than is already implied by the polling.” So Democrats say they will do better than expected. And Republicans are all but promising they will run the next government. Of course every prediction is backed by the latest polls.

But here is one prediction you won’t read in the press: Not a single poll will capture what’s going on with Indian Country voters during this election cycle. The science of polling doesn’t work very well with small population groups living in rural or isolated locations.

That’s too bad because it would be interesting and useful to know what’s in the mind of American Indian and Alaska Native voters this cycle.

Consider the race for U.S. Senator from Alaska. The only way that Lisa Murkowski returns to that office is if Alaska Native voters turn out in large numbers and write her name on the ballot. (She lost the Republican primary but is continuing her candidacy as a write-in candidate.)

The Alaska Federation of Natives last week endorsed Murkowski by acclamation at its annual convention here in Fairbanks. This was after the senator gave a keynote talk where she listed at length many of the accomplishments in Congress related to Alaska Native issues.

This represents one antidote to the so-called enthusiasm gap. If the AFN delegates can translate their organizational support into community support on Election Day, then Sen. Murkowski will be re-elected. (The Republican nominee, Joe Miller, has also tried to woo AFN support at least from individual members and the Democrat Scott McAdams promised to shake 5,000 hands at the convention in his bid for native votes.)

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services filed a 200-page report for the community ravaged by suicides in the past years, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

Tribal leaders on the Fort Peck Reservation declared a state of emergency after a rash of suicides and suicide attempts by young people there within the last year. Five youths died and 20 more tried to take their own lives last year.

Groups of the HHS employees spent time on the reservation to complete the “road map” report to help stop the suicides. It does not list a specific cause for the string of suicides, but does give a list of 12 recommendations, such as hiring a suicide prevention coordinator.

    The report does not list a reason for the cluster of suicides but does point out that socio-economic factors played a major role, with abuse of alcohol and drugs and the lack of parenting skills in particular.

    “Either due to a lack of effective parenting skills, lack of appropriate role models, or just the imitating of the examples set by others, many adults and children in the community have not developed effective problem-solving skills to deal with the stresses they experience. Unfortunately, it appears that many troubled youth are passing maladaptive behaviors to succeeding generations,” the report stated in its summary.

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Here’s a few bites of news from the previous week, enjoy:

Courtesy photo, Native American Times

Courtesy photo, Native American Times


C&A Tribes create Oklahoma’s first educational tribal TV station
A conversation between old friends in 1992 has now turned into a TV station that is the first educational tribal channel. It will serve the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma.
As reported from a press release on the Native American Times, key to the completion of the project was Billy-Talako Williamson, who worked for 28 years to bring the station to life.

    The Federal Communications Commission issued an experimental license to the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes and on September 27th, 2010 the tribes received notice that they had been awarded a grant for construction of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Television Station.”

U.S. Attorney Cotter unveils Indian Country Crime Unit
This story on the Missoulian’s webpage details a new force that will be used to help Indian reservations prosecute crimes. Montana U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter’s office met with several tribes in Montana to introduce the unit.
A press release from the District of Montana detailed which assistant district attorneys will make up the Indian County Crime Unit in the state:

    The newly created Indian Country Crime Unit is comprised of six Assistant United States Attorneys, three of whom are filling new positions afforded by the Department of Justice in conjunction with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s initiative to focus on improving public safety in Indian Country nationally. The Unit is headed by veteran Indian Country Assistant United States Attorney Lori Suek (Billings). The team is comprised of attorneys Vince Carroll (Great Falls), Jessica Betley (Great Falls), Danna Jackson (Helena), Laura Weiss (Great Falls), and Mike Wolfe (Helena).

New documentary recounts bizarre climate changes seen by Inuit elders
We had a lot of movies on the Post recently (there are a lot of Native issues being brought to life on screen these days) as it coincides with Toronto’s imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival.
Here’s one more the check out: A subject in the documentary “Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian,” soon-to-run on PBS, acclaimed Nunavut filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk takes a look at the effects of global warming on Natives in northern Canada. “Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change,” with environmental scientist Ian Mauro.
Their findings are bleak, as reported by the Globe and Mail in a piece that ran before the documentary was screened. You can find a trailer for “Inuit Knowledge” with the story.

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