Posts Tagged ‘Crow Tribe’

Dr. Janine Pease has been appointed head of the Crow Tribe's Department of Education. (BOB ZELLAR/Gazette Staff )

By SUSAN OLP, Of The Billings Gazette

Crow tribal chairman Cedric Black Eagle has appointed Dr. Janine Pease to head the tribe’s Education Department.

The Crow Legislature unanimously confirmed the cabinet-level appointment at a special session on Feb. 23.

In announcing Pease’s appointment, Black Eagle cited her extensive experience in education.

“Education for all the Crow people at all levels is a highest priority for our Crow national development,” he said. “Dr. Pease brings specific knowledge and experience of adult, vocational and college services, special programs for school-aged children, tribal language initiatives and workforce development training.”

Pease, a member of the Crow Tribe, will oversee a staff of eight. She holds both a master’s and a doctorate degree in adult and higher education from Montana State University.

Most recently, Pease was vice president for academic and vocational programs at Fort Peck Community College in Poplar for 2-½ years.
Before that, she was vice president for Indian Affairs and Planning and Rocky Mountain College for nearly five years. She also served on the Governor’s Kindergarten to College Task Group from 2006 to 2010 and on the Montana Board of Regents from 2006 until Feb. 1 of this year, when her term expired.

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Elouise Cobell (AP photo)

Elouise Cobell (AP photo)


Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet) came one step closer to sealing a long-fought victory in her lawsuit against the Interior Department as the Senate on Friday approved the $3.4 billion settlement in a package. The legislation now moves to the House, where similar language has already been approved.

“It’s 17 below and the Blackfeet nation is feeling warm,” Cobell told the Associated Press. “I don’t know if people understand or believe the agony you go through when one of the beneficiaries passes away without justice.”

Here’s the full AP story on Missoulian.com.

You can read full statements from Elouise Cobell and President Barack Obama on the Senate vote at Jodi Rave’s blog, Buffalo’s Fire.

In other news,
U.S. Senate approves water rights settlements with Crow Tribe, others
The Senate also approved Friday several water rights settlements, including a a $462 million portion going to Montana’s Crow Tribe. Arizona’s White Mountain Apache Tribe and New Mexico’s Pueblo of Taos and a group of four other pueblos were also included in the almost $1 billion settlement.

The measure would guarantee the tribes’ rights to water resources, while the money attached to the settlement would help build safe drinking water and irrigation systems, the Associated Press reports.

    “It opens the door to economic recovery for the tribe,” said Crow Chairman Cedric Black Eagle, whose tribe has long struggled with poverty. “We would have the potential to utilize Crow water for industrial use as well as commercial use, having safe drinking water, having an irrigation project.”

    Jenna Cederberg

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Nearly three decades ago, Dr. A. Scott Devous was convicted on drug distribution charges.

Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital (Indian Health Service)

Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital (Indian Health Service)

Now leaders of the Crow Tribe want him out of his job as head of the Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital. And they want an audit by the federal Indian Health Service, which runs the hospital, citing resistance to reforms proposed by the new CEO.

As Matthew Brown of the Associated Press reports:

    Records show the doctor voluntarily relinquished his license to practice medicine in Wyoming in 1983, just before his indictment on federal drug charges. He was incarcerated after a jury found him guilty of abusing the painkiller Demerol and passing the drug to a girlfriend.

    Devous was released in 1984 and his license was reinstated three years later. But he ran into trouble again after returning to Wyoming in 1990, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. After failing to notify officials that he was resuming work in the state — a condition of his re-licensing — Devous’ license was suspended for 90 days.

Gwen Florio

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(Photo cf.missouri.edu)

(Photo cf.missouri.edu)

People on the Crow Indian Reservation in southern Montana had long suspected their drinking water was contaminated.

Now, Montana State University graduate students Mari Eggers and Crystal Richards have confirmed their worries.

The pair, according to this Billings Gazette story, found coliform and other bacteria that can cause a variety of serious health problems:

    The project started while Eggers was teaching environmental science at Little Bighorn College. As her class was looking at local issues confronting the Crow Tribe, she noticed that many of the issues were environmental health problems.

    Eggers, who is married to a tribal member, was told by community members that water quality was a high priority concern. She teamed up with IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence to create a hands-on water monitoring program for her students.

    At the urging of community members, Eggers expanded her work on the project and is now doing so as a doctoral student in microbiology at MSU. She also has a master’s degree from MSU and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University.

Richards, who is working on a soctorate in microbiology at MSU, started on a separate project that has now been combined with Eggers’ work.

That work provides valuable information to the tribe as it applies for grant money to upgrade its water and sewer systems.

Gwen Florio

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Angela Hill’s 4-year-old daughter, Melci Smith, wears a beaded headband. (James Woodcock/Billings Gazette)

Angela Hill’s 4-year-old daughter, Melci Smith, wears a beaded headband. (James Woodcock/Billings Gazette)


Earlier today, we posted about the Arlee Celebration and Powwow held this past weekend on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. This coming weekend brings a new event, the Crow Skills and Trade Fair in the southeastern part of the state. Lorna Thackeray of the Billings Gazette uses this story, on one family’s beading tradition, as a preview.

    Each row of tiny beads that Angela Hill painstakingly stitches onto leather carries a piece of her heart.

    Generations from now, her children’s children and their grandchildren will marvel at the intricate patterns and precise lines of hundreds of thousands of beads she has lovingly fashioned into traditional Crow regalia for her family.

    “My mother, Mary Bear Cloud, taught me,” Hill said at her Billings home as she sewed beads the size of the head of a pin onto a pipe bag for a relative participating in a Sun Dance later this month.

    “All my family are beaders,” she said. “My mother is 80 and she still beads for her grandson.”

    And Hill wants her 16-year-old daughter, Elonna Stewart, to carry the tradition forward.

    “I don’t think she’s very interested yet,” Hill said, shrugging. “I want her to help me make her outfit. She has a jingle dress, moccasins and leggings. She wants fully beaded leggings now. We’re going to do that, too.”

    She’s not pushing the pretty teenager too hard. Hill didn’t take up the art until she was in her mid-20s. Now she is one of the premier beaders in a tribe known for its skilled artisans.

    That is why she is among the artists and craftsmen who have been asked to participate July 9-10 in the first Crow Skills and Trade Fair at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area headquarters in Lovell, Wyo.


For more of the stories and also more photos about the Hills, as well as the fair schedule, click here.


Gwen Florio

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Crow tribal members portraying Sioux and Cheyenne warriors cross the Little Bighorn River with the American and 7th Cavalry flags after defeating Gen. Custer in the Real Bird Battle of the Little Bighorn Reenactment Friday. (Casey Riffe/Billings Gazette)

Crow tribal members portraying Sioux and Cheyenne warriors cross the Little Bighorn River with the American and 7th Cavalry flags after defeating Gen. Custer in the Real Bird Battle of the Little Bighorn Reenactment Friday. (Casey Riffe/Billings Gazette)


Here’s how Susan Olp’s story of the Billings Gazette begins:

    The Battle of the Little Bighorn is known around the world.

    On Friday afternoon, about 500 people from as far away as England came to the Real Bird Ranch, adjacent to the Little Bighorn Battle Monument, north of Garryowen, to see the battle for themselves. The Real Birds, members of the Crow Tribe, have put on the re-enactment for about 17 years.

    Visitors sat in bleachers overlooking the Medicine Trail Coulee, near where Lt. Col. George Custer and the 7th Cavalry met decisive defeat on June 25, 1876. The brown Bighorn River drifted along lazily in the background.http://buffalopost.net/wp-admin/post-new.php

    Authenticity is critical to the success of the re-enactment of the battle, said Ken Real Bird. Members of the cavalry wear uniforms and use firearms similar to the ones fired in the battle.

    Those who portray the Cheyenne and Sioux warriors are only permitted to wear breechcloths and moccasins. Most paint themselves and their horses with symbols of red, white, yellow and black.

    Between 70 and 80 people re-enact the roles of the soldiers, the warriors and tribal members. Friday’s presentatoin of the battle was choreographed by retired Lt. Col. Bobby Jolley, from Fort Lewis, Wash.

    Steve Alexander, from Monroe, Mich., portrayed Custer. Frank Knows His Gun, a member of the Ogallala Sioux Tribe, portrayed Crazy Horse.

Want more? There’s a whole photo array, a schedule of events, and of course the rest of this most excellent story. Click here.

Gwen Florio

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Cedric Black Eagle, chairman of the Crow Tribe, sets a pressed earth block into place in what will be the office of Good Earth Lodges in Crow Agency. (Bob Zellar/Billings Gazette)

Cedric Black Eagle, chairman of the Crow Tribe, sets a pressed earth block into place in what will be the office of Good Earth Lodges in Crow Agency. (Bob Zellar/Billings Gazette)

There’s a crying need for more and better housing on many Indian reservations. The shortage is acute and the quality of existing homes is shameful. And don’t get us started on the unemployment problem.

A new federally funded home-building project on the Crow Reservation in southern Montana takes aim at both those issues. Not only will it provide 27 news homes, and put 25 people to work, those homes also are being built by the tribe’s own Good Earth Lodges program.

Good Earth Lodges both makes the blocks for the homes, and then puts up the houses.

Cedric Black Eagle told Billings Gazette reporter Susan Olp, here, about the project and the problems it will address:

    On the Crow Reservation, he said, homelessness exists, but it is masked by overcrowding. Often, multiple families live in the same single-family dwelling.

    The tribe’s Housing Authority has 1,800 applications for housing. Each year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocates funding enough to build five houses.

    The compressed earth block and housing program is the culmination of a research and development project funded by the Division of Energy and Mineral Development, Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development. The goal was to determine if the raw materials needed for the blocks could be found on the Crow Reservation, if the blocks could withstand Montana’s climate, and if a work force could be put in place to carry out the program.

    The answer was yes on all three counts, said Larry Lee Falls Down, project manager of the Good Earth Lodges.

“We all know the saying – if this was easy, everyone would do it,” Falls Down tells Olp. “This hasn’t been easy, not everyone is doing it. But we are doing it, and we are going to continue doing it. We will build these houses, and we will continue to build more houses.”

Both the University of Colorado Boulder and the Mortenson Center for Engineering and Developing Communities also are involved with the project.

Gwen Florio

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Tribal members water their horses on the Little Bighorn River during Crow Fair. (Adam Sings in the Timber)

Tribal members water their horses on the Little Bighorn River during Crow Fair. (Adam Sings in the Timber)

Those of us who live and work in Montana are already privileged to be familiar with the work of Adam Sings in the Timber. So we’re glad to see it appreciated in the New York Times.

Click here to view a slideshow of Sings in the Timber’s gorgeous work.

The Times’ Lens blog homes right in on what makes Sings in the Timber’s work so special. As Adam Stoltman writes:

    It often seems as if America has only two frames through which to view its native culture: ceremony and pageantry or poverty and addiction.

    “They are both opposite ends,” Adam Sings in the Timber said. “There is so much more in the middle.”

Thanks, Adam, for showing everyone the middle.

Gwen Florio

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The Crow Tribe's aging Little Big Horn casino. (David Grubbs/Billings Gazette)

The Crow Tribe's aging Little Big Horn casino. (David Grubbs/Billings Gazette)

The Crow Tribe looks a little closer to getting the loan it needs to build a new Little Big Horn Casino.

Yesterday the Crow Legislature approved the resolution needed to obtain a $3 million loan from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Tribe of Minnesota – meaning approval could come as early as next week.

Yesterday was the tribe’s deadline to get funding lined up and approved to build the new casino. Otherwise, the old one would close. As Susan Olp of the Billings Gazette reports here, that deadline was imposed by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Gwen Florio

PS – With this post, Buffalo Post goes off the airwaves, as it were, for most of the holiday weekend. Have fun and stay safe.

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Natasha Laforge, top, and her twin sister, Tahneya Laforge, wearing elk-tooth dresses, perform a round dance on Monday with fourth-graders in Calli Nicholson’s classroom at Miles Avenue Elementary. The event was part of a year-long Native American studies program at the school.  (David Grubbs/Billings Gazette)

Natasha Laforge, top, and her twin sister, Tahneya Laforge, wearing elk-tooth dresses, perform a round dance on Monday with fourth-graders in Calli Nicholson’s classroom at Miles Avenue Elementary. The event was part of a year-long Native American studies program at the school. (David Grubbs/Billings Gazette)

A teacher’s “wildflower walk” on her own time at the Rim Country Land Institute in southern Montana has led to an elementary school program where children learn about Native American culture.

Students from the Miles Avenue Elementary were supposed to go to the institute, a five-square-mile preserve of prairie grass, for a field trip yesterday, but it rained. So the program came to them, reports Ed Kemmick of the Billings Gazette, here:

    Driven indoors on Monday, the pupils learned about American Indian music from Scott Prinzing and Crow dance traditions from two members of the Native American Club at Billings Senior High.

    Prinzing, with the MusEco Media and Education Project, wrote a guide to American Indian music for the state Office of Public Instruction. In his classroom presentation, he talked about native Montana musical traditions and shared recorded samples of the music with the fourth-graders.

    The dance lesson was offered by twin sisters Natasha and Tahneya Laforge, accompanied by Anna DeCrane, a tutor advocate for the Indian Education Program at Senior High.

    The Laforge sisters demonstrated a couple of Crow dances and entertained lots of questions, mostly about their elaborate elk-tooth dresses and beaded leggings, moccasins, belts and head bands.

The best part, says teacher Sandra Abraham, is that the whole school district is behind the new yearlong Native American studies program, where part of the idea is to incorporate more placed-based lessons into the curriculum. We say anything that gets kids out of the classroom and into the outdoors sounds terrific.

Gwen Florio

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