Archive for November, 2011

Yvnvssv Hetke, the oldest white bison in North American, walked on last month. (Suzan Shown Harjo/Courtesy Perryman Ranch, via ICTMN)

North America’s oldest white bison dies
After a good long life, the oldest white bison in North American has died. Yvnvssv Hetke was 30 years old and walked on in October, ICTMN reports.

    According to the Native American Times, Yvnvssv Hetke — Muscogee for bison — was found the morning after the October full moon at the west end of Perryman Ranch, in Jenks, Oklahoma, where he had lived for the last 20 years with a herd of longhorn cattle. A veterinarian determined he died of natural causes.

    . . .

    The Native American Times also reported the bison led a good life, having been known to have a number of “girlfriends” among the longhorn herd, which are descendants of the original Perryman herd driven to Oklahoma from Alabama around 1830.

Discussion gives insight into Native American Thanksgiving
It’s hard for many people to imagine the first Thanksgiving as anything but a happy meeting between the Pilgrims and Indians in front of tables full of food.

Of course, there’s a lot more to the story. The Purdue Exponent of West Lafayette, Indiana, reports on one effortto educate people about a broader version:

    Felica Ahasteen-Bryant, a member of the Navajo tribe and director of the Native American Educational and Cultural Center (at Purdue), said she hopes to increase awareness among the students and public.

    “We have a misconception that there’s just one Native American tribe, one tribal nation,” Ahasteen-Bryant said. “Introducing people, widening their perspective on the history tends to help them to form better informed opinions.”

    The discussion, titled “The First Thanksgiving: History and Insight from a Native American Perspective,” provided a look at the first Thanksgiving that most people do not consider.

Jenna Cederberg

Here’s a good way to celebrate Native American Heritage Month: Pick up a Montana publication dedicated to the issues, people and traditions of the Native population here.

Ashlie Rodriguez of KFBB has the story on James Parker Shield’s “Native Montana” magazine. Shield has been producing the magazine for almost four years.

The magazine is available at retail stores throughout Montana, KFBB reports. Call 406-217-6991 for more information about “Native Montana.”

Jenna Cederberg

Here’s a column as it appeared in The Hill, by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) about their take on how the Carcieri v. Salazar ruling could be fixed to create jobs and economic power on reservations.

Click here more on the Carieri Fix.

    In the Carcieri v. Salazar decision, the Supreme Court reversed 75 years of policy and practice. The Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934 authorized the secretary of the Interior to take lands into trust for federally recognized tribes.

    The court threw all tribes into a tailspin of uncertainty by ruling that the secretary did not have the authority to take land into trust for tribes that were not considered “under federal jurisdiction” when the IRA was enacted. The court did not define “under federal jurisdiction,” and in 1934 there wasn’t an official list of federally recognized tribes.

    The decision creates two classes of tribes: those that can have land in trust and those that cannot. Such a system promises to be both chaotic and unfair.

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The Supreme Court’s decision to review the heavily debated law health care reform law is the center of attention for many in the coming months.

What does this mean for Indian Country?

ICTMN’s Rob Capriccioso reminds readers that the stakes are high:

    WASHINGTON – It was a risky strategy when Indian health advocates decided to get the Indian Health Care Improvement Act attached to the greater national healthcare reform law. For, the fate of the greater law would always be tied to that of the Indian health law—for better or for worse. Now their combined fates lie in balance with the U.S. Supreme Court.

    On November 14, the Supreme Court announced that it would review the legality of the greater law, leaving Indians forced to fight to protect their provisions—even though none of the specific orders issued by the high court to date have mentioned the IHCIA by name.

    The arguments are set to be heard in March. No one knows how the conservative-leaning court will rule, but it is known that conservative judges in lower courts have already ruled against the legality of portions of the law. And many conservative legal critics have argued that the whole law should be repealed—paying no regard to the uniqueness of the IHCIA.

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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.

The United States Congress is debating two important principles.

There is the idea that a strict deadline forces action. (Or, more accurately, as the science fiction writer Douglas Adams once said, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”)

On the other hand, there is solid political logic behind the idea that it’s always best to save a decision … for someone else. (Or, as Mark Twain put it, “never put off ‘till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”)

But Congress has been unable to legislate a delay of tomorrow. The many decades of passing forward complex and difficult decisions to the president, the states, and future Congresses, has reached a point of no return.

Only probably not yet.

Remember Congress could not reach a decision a few months ago. So it delegated its constitutional duties to the smaller, Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as, “the Super Committee”) and gave it a strict deadline of Nov. 23 for a proposal to save at least $1.2 trillion. Then a month later Congress was supposed to approve or reject that plan. The enforcement of this deadline was automatic budget cuts – called “sequestration” – cuts that both Republicans and Democrats would see as too painful to their key supporters. Half the cuts were set to be pulled from domestic programs, the other half from defense. No one would be happy with those results, so the deadline was supposed to propel the decision-making forward.

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A new website launched this month to celebrate all that’s vibrant and alive when it comes to Native language culture across the country.

Our Mother Tongues is a comprehensive site that includes a language map, blog and links to more, all so people can “Discover America’s First Languages.” The work centers around the documentary, “We Still Live Here,” which will debut on PBS Nov. 17.

Here’s what Our Mother Tongues’ project director Anne Makepeace has to say about the site and film:

    So much of what is portrayed in the media about indigenous cultures focuses on loss and disappearance, but what is really happening in Indian country today is a vibrant cultural revival.

Here’s more on the film (to find out when it will play in your areas click here):

    Cultural Survival’s Endangered Languages Program invites you to explore American Indian language revitalization efforts nationwide before the Nov. 17 national PBS broadcast of the triumphant story of the return home of the Wampanoag language. We Still Live Here – Âs Nutayuneân, starring the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, will air on PBS’s Independent Lens and aims to introduce viewers to descendants of the Native communities who first met the English Pilgrims nearly four centuries ago in what would become New England.

Also featured on the site is the NKWUSM Salish language immersion school on the Flathead Reservation.

Jenna Cederberg

Grand Canyon composing program wins national award

Some great news for the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composer Apprenticeship Project, as reported by the Navajo Times:

    The Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composer Apprenticeship Project, which has taught about 3,000 Native students from around Arizona to compose concert music, has received a prestigious national honor.

    The project is one of 12 extracurricular programs selected by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities for an Arts and Humanities Youth Program award.

    The honor comes with a $10,000 grant for the program.

Transition from Navajo Nation to Dartmouth was tough for first Navajo woman surgeon

Lori Arviso Alvord (Courtesy of Native Sun News)

By Kate Saltzstein, Native Sun News Correspondent

ALBUQUERQUE – Lori Arviso Alvord, the first Navajo woman surgeon, grew up in a small town on the Navajo reservation and went on to Dartmouth College, Stanford Medical School – and a medical career.
Along the way, she learned to combine traditional with western medicine as she practiced and taught medicine. She realized the healing power of Navajo ceremonies with medicine man, chanters, drums and sand paintings.

She spoke recently at the University of New Mexico where she signed copies of her autobiography The Scalpel and the Silver Bear. (The bear carries medicine in stories from many tribes, she said.)
Alvord told her audience, which included many Native American students, that it wasn’t an easy transition from the small reservation town of Crownpoint, New Mexico to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire when she was just 16-years-old.

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Thanks to all who serve, we honor you this Veterans Day!

ICTMN columnist Ruth Hopkins writes today about one group in particular to remember today, the Native women of the country who have served as military members for centuries:

    Within Indigenous societies, women are sacred. They personify Ina Maka, Mother Earth—and all creation. Not only did they give rise to all proud, red nations, they continue to play crucial roles in every native culture and belief system in existence. With a quiet strength and humility few men possess, our women have given of themselves and sacrificed for the greater good for those they love in a myriad ways, for countless generations.

    Women may appear soft on the outside, with warm skin and a gentle touch that sooths a crying child or comforts a weary soul; however, they’ve also been gifted with their ancestral grandmothers’ steel resolve. Circumstances may cause them to bend, but the spirit of a woman bathed in wisdom and love is seldom broken. A native woman who is a warrior fights with her heart above all.

    Over the centuries, thousands of native women have fought alongside their male counterparts as warriors, soldiers, and leaders. Unfortunately they are rarely recognized, although they’ve demanded no such accolades. A ikce winyan (humble woman) performs her duties because that is who she is, not to satisfy her ego. Yet these female veterans must be venerated. It is our responsibility as their relatives to insure that their stories are shared. Our children should grow up learning about courageous warriors, and respect their journey.

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Law signed letting UND drop Fighting Sioux name

   Posted by: admin    in Uncategorized

By Dale Wetzel and Amber Hunt, Associated Press:

In this March 22, 2010, file photo the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux logo is seen on the floor of the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. The University of North Dakota is dropping its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, six years after the NCAA deemed it hostile to Native Americans. (AP file photo)

BISMARCK, N.D. — Like many of her classmates and University of North Dakota students who came before her, senior Annie Hessinger says it doesn’t matter that the school is shedding its 81-year-old nickname after a drawn-out dispute with the NCAA. She’s Fighting Sioux and always will be, no matter what new nickname the school eventually picks.

She’ll still wear clothing bearing the Fighting Sioux logo, a colorful profile of an American Indian warrior’s head. And she’ll carry on school traditions that started long before she arrived, such as ending the national anthem with “home of the Sioux” instead of “home of the brave” before games.

“I’ve grown up going to Sioux games. My whole family has gone here,” said the 21-year-old graphic design major, whose parents and three siblings attended UND. “It’s not just the hockey team or the athletic teams. All the students here are Fighting Sioux.”

Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed a law Wednesday overturning a last-ditch attempt in March by the Legislature – which counts many UND alumni among its members – to mandate that UND keep the Fighting Sioux name. That maneuvering caused scheduling headaches for UND teams and threatened its bid to join the Big Sky Conference as it transitions from Division II to Division I sports.

Since August, the NCAA has banned UND from hosting postseason tournaments and said the school’s athletes may not wear uniforms with the nickname or logo during postseason play.

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Susan Olp, of the Billings Gazette, tells the story of three brothers expanding on their father’s longtime business on the Crow Indian Reservation and helping their community along the way:

    CROW AGENCY – It used to be that when Crow Agency resident D.K. Falls Down wanted to do her grocery shopping, she would drive nearly 15 miles to another town.

    “Now we don’t have to drive all the way to Hardin to shop,” she said recently, standing in the newly opened Crow Mercantile. “I like this big store. It’s just what we need around here.”

    The business itself isn’t new. Crow Mercantile has been around since the 1920s.

    In the 1940s, William Watt, an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe, bought the small store on Makawasha Avenue. Watt also was the town’s postmaster, and the store doubled as the post office and the Watt residence.

    He sold the store to his three sons in 1989. It’s managed now by son Ed Watt, but the small 1,600-square-foot space became increasingly inadequate.

    “We outgrew that little cracker box and weren’t able to meet people’s needs,” Watt said.

    So the brothers decided to build a new 8,000-square-foot energy-efficient store that would offer customers a wider variety of items.
    The Crow Mercantile, designed by High Plains Architects in Billings, sits about a block away from the old one. MBA Construction served as the general contractor.

    The store opened Oct. 25 with a ribbon cutting. An open house this week will include prize drawings, with a grand prize drawing on Friday, and free food on Tuesday.

    On a tour of the store, Watt said the fresh fruit and vegetable section is one of the big draws of the new store.

    “Everybody’s been impressed with our produce. We used to have a section this big,” he said, holding his hands about a foot apart. “We have a much bigger deli where we have a lot more things and daily specials.”

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