Indian sign language in danger of being lost
James Wooden Legs, left, and Loretha (Rising Sun) Ginsell demonstrate the sign for car in Plains Indian sign language at North Park in Medicine Lake on Aug. 7. Grinsell, who is deaf, grew up on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation using Plains Indian sign language to communicate with her foster grandmother. (Casey Riffe/Billings Gazette)
Loretha (Rising Sun) Grinsell is deaf, but from the time she was a toddler was easily able to communicate with her hearing family. That’s because Grinsell, who is Northern Cheyenne, had a foster grandmother fluent in “hand talk,” also known as the sign language with which Plains Indians communicated for centuries. Both Grinsell and her cousin, James Wooden Legs, who is also deaf, used it before they went to school and learned the more commonly taught American Sign Language, Donna Healy of the Billings Gazette writes
. Plains Indian sign language is now recognized as endangered, much like many spoken tribal languages, Healy writes.
Smithsonian returns sacred artifacts to Yurok Tribe
For more than 100 years, the Smithsonian Institution has stored 217 sacred items belonging to the Yurok Tribe, whose members live along the Klamath River in what is now California. The return of the necklaces, headdresses, arrows, hides and other regalia is believed to be one of the largest repatriations of Native American ceremonial artifacts in U.S. history,the San Francisco Chronicle reports here. “It’s awesome. It’s a big thing with our people,” tribal chairman Thomas O’Rourke tells the Chron.
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation gets pilot prosecuting program
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Peterman, who helped Russia develop a better criminal justice system, is trying to do the same thing on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. When Peterman went to Russia as part of the Department of Justice’s Overseas Professional Development Assistance and Training program, Mary Garrigan of the Rapid City Journal writes here, he thought the same sort of program should be applied to tribal court systems. Now he’s leading the new Community Prosecution Strategy pilot program on Pine Ridge, Garrigan writes.
Program puts Native American teachers in Indian reservation schools
Sixteen students among the more than 1,000 University of Oregon students will use their master’s degrees to teach in Native American communities. The 16 Native students, graduates of the Sapsik’wala Project, are required to teach at least a year in Native schools, according to this KEZI story (click on link for video). The story says Native Americans comprise just .4 percent of all teachers.
Navajo Nation eyes major new casino
Navajo gaming officials say they’ll likely break ground his fall on a major casino, which could lead to the creation of 400 jobs, to be built in the Upper Fruitland Chapter in northwest New Mexico. The tribe hopes the project leads to the creation of 400 jobs. The Navajo Nation, which faces 56 percent unemployment, got into gaming decades after tribal gaming became legal, and is now making it a high priority, according to this AP report in the Arizona Daily Star in Flagstaff. The tribe has two smaller gaming projects already under way, in the Hogback chapter in New Mexico and in Chinle, Ariz.
Tags: American Sign Language, artifacts, Community Prosecution Strategy, Indian gaming, Indian sign language, NAGRPA, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Native American teachers, Navajo Nation, Overseas Professional Development Assistance and Training program, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Plains Indians, Sapsik'wala Project, Smithsonian Institution, tribal gaming, University of Oregon, Yurok