Archive for January, 2012
The four objectors to the historic Cobell land trust mismanagment settlement say they’re not backing down, even after their names and phones numbers were published in an open letter printed online and sent to thousands of plaintiffs prompted them to receive angry phones calls.
As Associated Press reporter Matt Volz reports, Carol Good Bear is one of the objectors that received a flood of angry phone calls.
At first, the resident of New Town, N.D., hung up on the angry voices at the other end. After 15 calls, she unplugged her home phone and started screening her cellphone calls.
She said she worries for her safety now that her address is in the hands of hundreds of thousands of people who might blame her for holding up their money.
“To put my name out there for the public, I think that’s scary that these attorneys would use this tactic and intimidate me into dropping my appeal,” Good Bear said. “I don’t have protection. If somebody is upset about all this and comes at me with a gun, what am I supposed to do?”
The Cobell settlement was approved by the courts last fall after almost 16 years of court battles. Payments were scheduled to be send out in November before the objections were filed.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys, led by Dennis Gingold of Washington, D.C., wrote in their letter that the “hopes and wishes of 500,000 individual Indians” had been delayed by those four people. If it wasn’t for them, the first payments would have been made before Thanksgiving, the letter said.
“There is little doubt that they do not share the desires or care about the needs of the class, over 99.9 percent of whom support a prompt conclusion to this long-running, acrimonious case,” the attorneys wrote.
The letter went on to list the names, phone numbers and addresses of Good Bear; Kimberly Craven of Boulder, Co.; Charles Colombe of Mission, S.D.; and Mary Lee Johns of Lincoln, Neb. The attorneys invited people to “ask them directly about their motives” and cautioned them to “please be civil in your communications.”
Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin introduces us to Joe Durglo and gives an update on the issues the new Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal chairman has on his plate:
PABLO – The new chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes says he’s not going to try to guess what message members may have been sending last month when they turned four out of five incumbents on the Tribal Council out of office, just two years after re-electing all other five incumbents on the 10-person governing board.
“As soon as you think you’ve got it figured out you’ll be surprised,” Joe Durglo says.
The defeat of one of those council members, former chairman E.T. “Bud” Moran, meant CSKT would have a new leader for the next two years no matter what.
Durglo, 50, a St. Ignatius native who has served on the council since 2006, says he never had the chairmanship as his goal when he entered tribal politics.
But after it was clear someone would have to replace Moran, Durglo says he felt his education, experience and business background – he spent 15 years in economic development before being elected to the council – might be of value.
“So I threw my hat in the ring,” Durglo says. “I’ve been fortunate to work with a couple of different chairmen, and serve as vice chairman to Bud, and I’m very appreciative council selected me.”
It’s no small matter.
Story and photo by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer
PORCUPINE – With not a drum in sight, there was still a pounding of heartbeats that could be felt like a reverberation from the largest drums. The heartbeat of the women gathered on the lands of the Oglala Lakota pounded steady and hard as the women’s voices gathered to speak and encourage one another in an effort to not only encourage the men, but to call on the younger women to pick up the fight that was started generations ago by the great-grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers of today.
In Porcupine, the first of four gatherings of Native women called Winyan Ituwan, or Vision of the Women, was held this past Sunday. The Lakota leadership of Debra White Plume and Babe Poor Bear, both Oglala Lakota, pulled a wide variety of Lakota and Dakota women together in order to reestablish their power and what Alex White Plume, Oglala activist, termed “the spiritual law which men do not act on anything without, which is what women are”.
Emceeing the event were Poor Bear and Cordelia White Owl, who is also Oglala Lakota.
Each taking a turn at introducing the powerful women who, at all ages, have either stood up for the Lakota people’s human or civil rights, the preservation of culture and language and the environmental issues that have and will impact the health and well-being of the Native peoples of this land.
According to elder Marie Randall, the Lakota winyan – the women – carry the foundation of Lakota life. Randall talked about her desire to teach the Lakota language to her takoja, or grandchildren, in their schools but was initially denied because of the requirements that the state enforces, citing her lack of a teaching degree. Because she is a natural and lifelong speaker of the Lakota language, she was eventually able to obtain a teaching certificate through the state and was finally able to fulfill her own dream of teaching the Lakota language in her community school.
“I am not afraid to be Lakota,” said Randall, which incited a huge round of applause and trills from the women in the audience.
Deb White Plume, who in the summer of 2011 had been arrested in Washington, D.C., during a protest of the Keystone XL Pipeline, proposed to cross Lakota treaty lands, spoke passionately and proudly of the work that has already been accomplished on environmental issues with the leadership of Native women. The mining companies that are seeking renewal permits at the uranium mines near Crawford, Neb., a half-hour from the southern border of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, are currently being fought against.
“Our water at our home has tested so high for radiation and arsenic, which is what happens where uranium mining is being done,” said Debra White Plume, wife of Alex. “But there hasn’t been one single shovel dug in those mines since we have started these challenges, which shows how much power we as women have,” she said.
White Plume spoke eloquently about the need to stand up and have a say in any of the issues that are directly affecting Native peoples.
“I want to stand up. Who else wants to stand up?” asked White Plume. This drew a huge, minute-long response in applause and trills and whistles from the audience.
Tantoo Cardinal, a First Nations Cree from Canada whose community is at ground zero of the tar sands oil mines near Fort McMurray. She remembers not having any awareness of her language or culture, as it had been outlawed.
The Canadian government, she maintains, knew that the power of the First Nations people came from their strong tie to the language and the cultural beliefs and practices so they outlawed all of it, creating a division among the people who struggled to maintain that tie and the ones who passively went with the laws.
A ski area in Utah is resting its season’s hopes on members of the Northern Ute Tribe.
As the Associated Press reports via CBS, the snow has yet to come this year to many parts of the west.
So, Park City Mountain Resort recruited the Norther Ute Tribe to perform a snow blessing.
Park City has been forced to make 40 percent more snow than at this time last year.
“Our snowmakers have been working around the clock, so we said it is time to put in a call to Mother Nature,” said Krista Parry, marketing director at Park City Mountain Resort.
She also called on a friend, Frank Arrowchis, who led a similar ceremony at Arches National Park to bless the Olympic Flame during the torch relay in 2002.
Arrowchis led the prayer Saturday in English, followed by one in Ute by Spiritual Leader Albert Lance Manning.
“We hope our prayers are answered because it’s for everybody,” Arrowchis said. “Prayer has a lot of power if it’s done right. We hope we do get some snow. If we don’t, we tried.”
As of Monday, the blessing hadn’t produced the much-needed snow.
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.
A question for any Republican running for any federal office: If you are successful repealing “ObamaCare,” what happens to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act?
South Dakota’s Rep. Kristi Noem illustrates the GOP’s mixed message. Her web page says: “I will support efforts to fully repeal the health care bill.” A few clicks later, she adds, “a lack of resources and medical staff are constantly the biggest hurdles to quality health care on our reservations. Improving access and quality of care should be a key priority.”
It’s nice to have it both ways. At least on paper. But it is an important question because the Affordable Care Act – ObamaCare – includes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. If you repeal one, you repeal both. Sure, you could pass another Indian Health Care Improvement Act, but that’s a tall order.
But this dilemma shows the larger Republican problem with health care reform. If not the Affordable Care Act, then what? And once a proposal is on paper, do the numbers add up? Do the ideas really reduce health care costs and by extension the single largest budget issue facing the federal government?
Don’t hold your breath waiting for real answers. The problem in our political discourse is that folks are not required to give answers as complex as the problems. It’s enough to say, “I am against ObamaCare,” without detailing what should happen next.
First American Indian lesbian elected to state legislature
A mid-term election to replace a vacant seat in the Minnesota Legislature made history last week, as Susan Allen became the first Native gay person to be elected as a state legislator, ICTMN reports.
On her website, Allen states, “I am a passionate supporter of marriage equality. As a lesbian, I feel this inequality every day. I will use my position as State Rep to speak loudly against the marriage amendment and in favor of equality for all Minnesota families. . .”
When speaking to Indian Country Today Media Network, Allen said, “This is a big win as an LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) candidate, for communities of color and especially for the American Indian community. I felt that this is important to be running as an out, lesbian, Native American. It is interesting that some publications for Native Americans they are reluctant to print that. I think that this is something that we’re struggling with in minority communities. I think it is really important to start talking about that and to have some sort of healing process.”
Perma pictographs link tribal people to the dawn of their being
Char-Koosta reporter Bernie Azure takes readers to the Perma pictograph site near the Flathead Indian Reservation where a remediation process is taking place to ensure the ancient site remains intact.
Last week, representatives from the Cultural Preservation Office, the Division of Fire and the Salish Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee Elders Committee journeyed to the Perma pictographs to assess damage and to begin planning for projects to mitigate the damage and to curtail future potential for damage by limiting access to the area.
According to Ira Matt of the CPO, the pictographs remained essentially intact for thousands of years until being discovered. Since the 1960s there have been at least a half dozen incidents of vandalism and looting of the pictographs as well as incalculable incidents of damage to the surrounding delicate landscape due to overuse of the area for camping and partying. Also lost, as result of looting is the spiritual offerings left at the area that has been used for vision quests.
California tribes see economic growth beyond casinos
An economic forecast seminar in California made note that economic opportunities beyond gaming exist and can help tribes thrive.
The conference, as OrovilleMR.com reports, was attended by members of numerous tribal members and associations. It also examined what could be done to help business thrive for tribes.
The Center for Economic Development is currently working on two efforts for Indian tribes: developing the infrastructure to get high-speed Internet to the 111 tribes in California, and working with the U.S. Economic Development Administration to identify 20 Northern California tribes to assist with economic development strategies.
Another panelist, Craig Norte of the Federal Reserve Board, listed five barriers to obtaining bank loans: land complexity in terms of legal issues, such as land being held in a trust for a tribe; the lack a legal infrastructure; geographical remoteness; lack of communication; and the low-to-moderate incomes and “checkered credit” on reservations.
High school students in a South Dakota town are helping to bring bison back, thanks to a program that encourages consumption of the sacred animal through cooking and other classes.
As Kristi Eaton of the Associated Press reports, the program is also inspiring a reconnection to culture.
The program was started by Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe and South Dakota State University researchers at Flandreau Indian School.
The school began preparing school meals with fresh bison meat last year as part of the pilot project.
Nearly 20 professors across five departments at SDSU are involved in the project, which they hope will be used as a model among other tribes trying to revive the demand for bison.
Although bison tastes a bit different — some think it has a sweeter, richer flavor than beef — Flandreau Indian School senior Dillon Blackbird said he prefers school meals served with bison because it’s “real meat.”
One of more than 30 students from the Flandreau Indian School to take part in cooking workshops with bison as the main ingredient, Blackbird said he now knows how to whip up his own dishes with bison, which has less fat and fewer calories than beef.
“I make basic stuff: tacos, enchiladas, spaghetti, lasagna,” Blackbird said.
SDSU researchers want other teenagers to follow Blackbird’s lead, creating a market within the tribe for the next 40 to 50 years and changing the way members think about the animal.
As the relentless winter continues to batter Alaska, the village of Nome is anxiously awaiting a one-of-a-kind shipment to help it get through the wicked weather.
The town is monitoring closely the progress of a Russian tanker filled with heating fuel and gasoline that is attempting to reach the town through the ice-over ocean, as ICTMN reports via the Associated Press.
The tanker’s slow trek is being aided by a Coast Guard icebreaker crew.
Nome finds itself strapped for gas and heating oil because a tanker that was supposed to deliver a shipment in the fall was blocked from doing so due to severe storms. This time around, failure is not an option. According to an Associated Press report, a barge delivery of fuel would not be possible until the spring. If the tanker manages the delivery, it would mark the first time petroleum products had been delivered to a western Alaska community in winter, the AP said.
Be sure to check out the link ICTMN provides to the Dec. 30 story in the Alaska Dispatch about tanker’s trek.
ICTMN has video on the story as well.
The U.S. Postal Service is still deciding whether it will close hundreds of mail processing center across the country. Communities that may be affected by the closures have expressed concern about a multitude of negative consequences that may arise if the postal services are eliminated.
The Arizona Daily Star reports that in the case of the Tohono O’odham Nation, the consequence could be an interruption in voting rights.
The loss of the center would mean fewer days to get mail-in ballots in across Arizona.
But it would be worse for voters in the Tohono O’odham Nation, (county recorder F. Ann Rodriguez) said.
The only post office in the 4,460-square-mile nation is in Sells, and there is no home delivery or pickup. It would take a week or more for a voter in a remote area to pick up a ballot at a post office box in Sells, and he or she would have less than 10 days to mark the ballot and return it, Rodriguez said.
“There is no question that the changes proposed by the postal service will impact Native American voters far more extensively than the voters in the metropolitan areas,” Rodriguez said in a letter to the Postal Service.
The Postal Service disputes these numbers, but local officials continue to take action.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors plans to vote today on a resolution to oppose the plant closure because of the potential for “disenfranchising Native American voters,” among other reasons.
The draft resolution states that Pima County stands to lose 440 jobs, $30 million in economic activity and $4.8 million in federal, state and local tax revenue.