Archive for August, 2011

The First Peoples blog just published a handy list of its top picks for “Five Indigenous Blogs to Follow Now.”

The list includes bloggers who write about everything from art, fashion, poetry to film.

Here’s the writeup for I Am Not A Mascot by Simon Moya-Smith:

    Journalist and speechwriter Simon Moya-Smith’s blog features witty and incisive commentaries and responses to reader questions in a series he’s dubbed “Ask an Indian.” His caustic critiques dispel common stereotypes of American Indians and criticize members of what he calls the Wannabee Tribe.

The other blogs featured are Not Artomatic, Beyond Buckskin, When Turtles Fly and Beyond the Mesas. Links to all are can be found on the First People’s posting, which is also taking suggestions for other great blogs to promote:

    Know of another great blog we should feature? Let us know about it and we’ll consider it for future blog roundups. Email Natasha Varner with your suggestions: nvarner@uapress.arizona.edu.

Jenna Cederberg

Kyle Robinson isn’t Native American by bloodline or any other standards drawn up by governments throughout the years.

But an adoption of sorts means the 20-year-old is a staple at powwows across Kansas, the Mirror of Tonganoxie, Kan. reports.

    Robinson said he had a smattering of Native American blood in his family tree, as do many Americans whose ancestry stretches back through multiple generations. His seven-year interest in Indian dance and culture stemmed from his Boy Scout days and his association with the Mike Henre family of Tonganoxie.

The Henre’s helped Robinson create his regalia and taught him the traditional dances. Robinson now has some of the most intricate and colorful regalia in the powwows and intends to continue learning about the culture as he dances in more and more powwows.

    Henre said his son Chester (who rarely dances now because of an injury) taught Robinson the intricacies of the traditional dance performed at powwows.

    “Kyle was working to join the Order of the Arrow,” he said. “He asked Chester if he could teach him traditional dance. Chester said he would but that he would have to practice and do what he said.”

    . . .

    In addition to the powwows, Robinson attended the Indian Council of Many Nation’s seminars in the spring, which he recommended to others interested in learning more about Native American culture.

Jenna Cederberg

Utah officials have once again invited members of 400 tribes from across the country to their state to further open conversations about how the entities can work together to help solve some of most pressing problems facing Indian Country.

The Daily Herald reports that talks between the groups on how to go about alleviate hardships on reservations will happen this week at a two-day state summit in Salt Lake City.

The summit was organized by Utah’s governor and lieutenant governor, and will be attended by federal officials as well.

    Fundamental problems – such as a lack of healthcare, excessive poverty or substance abuse – cannot be solved as long as tribes and government agencies engage in turf wars, said Paul Tsosie, the chief of staff for Bureau of Indian Affairs Director Larry Echo Hawk.

    State and regional summits are not uncommon, Tsosie said, but the Utah gathering is somewhat unique because it’s organized by Gov. Gary Herbert and other state officials.

    “Tribes and states don’t always get along, because you have jurisdictional issues,” Tsosie said. “This opens the door for state agencies to work with the tribes, instead of against them.”

This is the sixth summit held in Utah and will take place on the University of Utah’s campus.

Jenna Cederberg

30
Aug

Review of Navajo coal mine moves forward

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By Susan Montoya Bryan, the Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE — A federal review of the potential environmental effects of expanding a coal mining operation on the Navajo reservation will continue uninterrupted after a panel of federal judges dismissed an appeal by the mine operator that tried to stop the assessment.

Conservation groups hailed the decision from the three-judge panel with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The ruling prevents BHP Billiton from expanding its operation on tribal land in northwestern New Mexico while federal regulators
re-assess the effects of the Navajo Mine permit on the environment and cultural and historic resources in the area.

The mine covers thousands of acres and produces coal for the Four Corners Power Plant, one of the largest coal-fired generating stations in the U.S. The
plant, operated by Arizona Public Service Co., provides electricity for customers in New Mexico, Arizona and other parts of the Southwest.

BHP Billiton said Monday it was reviewing the court’s decision and that operations were continuing in all areas except the parcel covered by the proposed expansion.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christina Thomas (Nathan Orme, Daily Sparks Tribune)


When Christina Thomas traveled to the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium, held in Cuzco, Peru, she learned just how much Indigenous peoples throughout the world struggle each day.

Thomas (Northern Paiute, part Western Shoshone and part Hopi) is a 27-year-old college student from Nevada who spent several days with Native Peruvians as one of 15 Native American ambassadors to the consortium.

In the case of Peruvians, sometimes just owning their Indigenous heritage is a threat to livelihood, The Daily Sparks Tribune reports.

    “These people won’t even claim their ancestry because they wouldn’t be allowed to sell their stuff in the street and will be discriminated against,” Thomas said. “I see all our struggles here and then see how far behind they are (in Peru).”

    Native Americans such as Thomas have found the strength to be proud of their heritage, and one of the things she found striking was the inability of some native peoples to embrace their cultures in their home countries. Thomas said she saw shadows of her own people’s past in the current lives of the indigenous people of Peru, who currently are struggling with acceptance and human rights just as Native Americans did when Europeans came to North America.

The trip served as a point of great inspiration for Thomas, who wants to study to be an orthodontist so she can help the people of her reservation in rural Nevada.

Jenna Cederberg

Mark 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 recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

It sounds reasonable: Why not just cap federal spending? Make every agency operate with the money that’s already there. This notion has common-sense … yet it is impossible in practice.

A few years ago the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights looked at the federal funding needs for American Indians and Alaska Natives. The report concluded that “federal funding for Native American programs has increased significantly. However, this has not been nearly enough to compensate for a decline in spending power, which had been evident for decades before that, nor to overcome a long and sad history of neglect and discrimination.” The commission said the result was a backlog of unmet needs … “even though the government has a binding trust obligation to provide them.”

However the commission also reported incremental progress and a growing tribal government infrastructure. That narrative of improvement was boosted following the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As the National Congress of American Indians pointed out in a publication of case studies, several American Indian and Alaska Native groups used that money to develop models of excellence for schools, criminal justice programs, transportation improvements and health care systems. Indeed, one of the most exciting things, to me was the development of community health clinics that provided new sources of revenue beyond the Indian Health Service and Medicaid. These innovations are critical if Indian Country’s health programs are to have a self-sustaining future.

But what now?

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Confederated Salish, Kootenai Tribes get $300K grant for affordable housing
$2.9 million worth of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money is coming to tribes in Montana. That’s a big boost for affordable housing on the state’s six reservations. Although only $300,000 will go to the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana, Steve Lozar couldn’t be happier.

Vince Devlin of the Missoulian reports:

    The Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal councilman told a HUD deputy assistant secretary he knows first-hand what such money can mean to someone with no place left to turn.

    “I was one earlier in life,” Lozar told Valerie Piper, deputy assistant secretary for economic development. “We had six kids, and were really down on our luck, to the point of losing our place. We were working hard, but we could never get ahead.”

    It was a HUD program that allowed Lozar to purchase another home for his family.

    “We were able to live in it, and raise all those kids in it,” Lozar said. “That program was a ‘yes’ in a sea of ‘no’s.’ We were in such a desperate situation, and it saved us. It was life-changing.”

Carlos Santana criticizes ‘racist’ Grammy decision

Santana: Academy is playing the race chord. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)


Carlos Santana has been an outspoken critic of the Recording Academy’s decision this year to eliminate the Native American Album category. ICTMN found several instances where the the musician stood up for the category and the people who deserve to be considered for a Grammy.

    In an interview with Canadian website The Province, Carlos Santana said of the Academy, “I think they’re racist. Period.”

    “First of all we have so many categories of Country & Western,” he said. “Country & Western people have seven to nine to 10 (awards) shows a year and you seldom see Negroes or Latin people. You can’t eliminate black gospel music or Hawaiian music or American Indian music or Latin jazz music because all this music represents what United States is: a social experiment.”

Jenna Cederberg

27
Aug

Buffalo Post pic of the week: Sotara’s smile

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Photo by Lailani Upham/Char-Koosta

I met Sotara Barnaby a couple months ago as she shopped for a special trip to Washington D.C. Sotara hasn’t had the easiest life, she suffers from a rare genetic disease Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, which affects her growth and development. Sotara has been a patient of Shodair Children’s Hospital for most of her life. This year, she was the first Native American picked as Montana’s 2011 Children’s Miracle Network Hospital champion.

In this picture, courtesy of the Char-Koosta, Sotara is helping others who suffer from childhood illness by serving up treats at the Dairy Queen on the Flathead Indian Reseravation.

It’s hard to capture Sotara’s smile on camera, but take my word: It really is remarkably bright and infectious. So even if this more of a “pick of the week” than a pic of the week, I hope when you read about Sotara it makes you smile too.

Jenna Cederberg

26
Aug

NativeOne introduced on stock exchange floor

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Dennis Smith, center, co-founder of NativeOne, the first Native American-owned member of the New York Stock Exchange, raises his arms in celebration during NYSE closing bell ceremonies Aug. 25. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)


The New York Stock Exchange’s first Native American-owned member was officially introduced to the traders on the floor this week, as members of the NativeOne trading company rang the closing bell in celebration.

According to an article in Traders Magazine:

    “NativeOne Institutional Trading, a Native American-owned broker-dealer, has opened its trading blotters and is now trading on behalf of institutional clients. The minority-owned firm offers the buyside high- and low-touch trading, direct market access and third-party research.

Founder Don Lyons, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, will also act as the firms’s chief executive. Members of the Navajo Nation, Mohegan and other tribes also have ownership in NativeOne.

    The game plan, as one might expect, is to court pension funds that have mandates to trade with minority brokerage firms, as well as American Indian tribes that have a need to trade. NativeOne currently has three institutional clients, including CalPERS, the $218 billion California public employee retirement fund. It continues to look for other institutional clients, as well as trading on behalf of Native Americans, such as the Navajo Nation and its $1.3 billion in assets, said NativeOne co-founder Dennis Smith.

Jenna Cederberg

The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court upheld a decision this week that allowed an amendment to its constitutional membership requirement and will now remove all decedents of slaves once allowed to enroll from its tribal membership.

Reuter reports
that the change will cause about 2,800 “Freedmen” to lose membership and void almost 3,500 tribal membership applications that have been filed by Freedmen members.

    The Cherokee nation voted after the Civil War to admit the slave descendants to the tribe.

    But on Monday, the Cherokee nation Supreme Court ruled that a 2007 tribal decision to kick the so-called “Freedmen” out of the tribe was proper.

    The controversy stems from a footnote in the brutal history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. When many Indians were forced to move to what later became Oklahoma from the eastern U.S. in 1838, some who had owned plantations in the South brought along their slaves

A plaintiff in the case called decision racist, saying it was “apartheid in the 21st Century,” Reuters reported.

Jenna Cederberg