Posts Tagged ‘Lakota’

Russell Means (Courtesy of Native Sun News)


By Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Staff Writer

PORCUPINE – Russell Means may well be facing the toughest adversary in all of his almost 72 years on this earth: cancer.

As announced in a personal video posed on his Russell Means: Freedom website, the political activist, actor, writer, producer, and sometimes musician was recently diagnosed with terminal esophageal, or throat, cancer and has decided against aggressive and standardized medical procedures that could optimally prolong his life – choosing instead to face this “white man’s disease” through the spiritual connectedness held with his Lakota people, both past and present.

The man the Los Angeles Times once described as the “most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse,” is steeling himself for the fight of his life. And Means intends to put up a good fight in the remaining few months his doctors have prognosticated [or predicted] he has left.

In a candid interview via telephone from his ranch near Porcupine, Means – with his voice now affected and made husky by his affliction – spoke proudly of his people and of his most cherished accomplishments in life including the founding of a Lakota immersion school; the co-founding of both a community health clinic and a radio station; his instrumental and continued involvement in the Republic of Lakotah; and his most recent filmmaking endeavors.

Means was not inclined to make mention of his former leadership involvement in the initially militant American Indian Movement, of which he is no longer a widely recognized or accepted member of or substantially affiliated with, having resigned from the organization an unprecedented six times since 1974, according to AIM’s website.
His final resignation came in 1988, amid allegations that he had assaulted his one-time father-in-law. Means is best-known for calling to national – as well as international – attention the plight of indigenous peoples in the United States throughout the late ‘60s and early ‘70s as a prominent fixture of AIM.

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One hundred and twenty years ago yesterday, the Lakota people made the deadly ride to Wounded Knee that ended in massacre.

For the past 23 years, those wishing to remember their ancestors sacrifices have also made the ride. The commemoration is now taking on another element, with young members, most under 30, making the ride.

The Big Foot Memorial Ride is a way to connect the youth to the past and build a “bridge to the next generation,” as the Rapid City Journal reports.

    Participants travel on horseback from camp to camp, braving the cold – and sometimes worse, like last week’s ice storm or last year’s Christmas blizzard.

    Jeremiah Young Bull Bear said the weather only highlights the spiritual aspects of the ride.

    “Like the elder riders always say, if you’re not suffering in some way – if you’re hungry, you’re sore, you get sick – if you’re not feeling any of those things, you’re not feeling the spirituality of the ride,” he said. “Anything spiritual, there’s always a sacrifice.”

    “I don’t think of the coldness when I ride,” Lip said. “I think of our ancestors and how they rode.”

    The entire Native community participates in one way or another. Phyllis Wilcox of Wanblee couldn’t ride this year, so she spent two days cooking – 15 turkeys, five gallons of mashed potatoes and 25 pounds of flour for frybread – for 90 hungry riders who arrived in Kyle on Christmas.

Jenna Cederberg

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Neleigh Driving Hawk gets help riding her bike down a street with her aunt Mariah in Lower Brule, S.D. (Devin Wagner/Argus Leader)

Neleigh Driving Hawk gets help riding her bike down a street with her aunt Mariah in Lower Brule, S.D. (Devin Wagner/Argus Leader)

    “There’s also all these positive and beautiful things that you can still live here and have a good life,” - Autumn White Eyes, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation resident now studying at Dartmouth

The Argus Leader debuts today an eight-part print series and dynamic online multimedia presentation, “Growing Up Indian.”

Most South Dakotans can scarcely imagine what it’s like to grow up on an Indian reservation, their website tells readers as we’re introduced to the project. So, AL reporter Steve Young and photographer Devin Wagner (UM photojournalism, ’08) went on their first assignment for the project in January.

Hundreds of hours, thousands of photos and a deeper understanding later, they introduce readers to three central characters in the project, which began its print run today in the AL. Featured prominently as the “first leg” is Neleigh, a 3-year-old whose young mother hopes the best for her little girl.

Also featured is the disturbing story of Marquita Walking Eagle, who was raped and murdered in 2009, paralleled with the inspiring optimism and drive of Gates Millennium Scholar and Dartmouth college student Autumn White Eyes – who says she wants to return to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to make positive change.

“She (Neleigh) faces, basically, one of two options; which are the other two legs of the story,” Wagner told me during a phone interview on Friday.

“(What) we’re trying to do is show our readership what is like to grow up a young Native American. Things that effect them are higher than what in effect you could call normal life,” he said.

Those things include suicide, alcoholism, teen pregnancy and high school dropouts – among others portrayed in the comprehensive GUI project.

Video, photos, live chats, diaries
One of the most exciting aspects of the presentation is its completeness: The eight-part print series is anchored by a huge lineup of multimedia (video, slideshows, guest opinions on hot-button topics), including three video diaries that look into the lives of Native students who taped their own experiences for nearly a year. That portion of the project was created in partnership with the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute and Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.

“We want them to tell their story, I don’t care if its Blair Witch Project (style camera work). We just want them to give us some insight on what it’s like to grow up how they grow up,” said Wagner, who mentored the teens throughout the process. “They’ve overcome some obstacles. It’s beautiful to see that they’ve fought such adversity.”

The words, the photos and the voices captured in all of GUI’s content are immense. Wagner, a Crow from Lewistown who spent time “a lot” of time on the Crow Reservation in Montana, said getting to know the Lakota or Sioux people – telling their stories – has been a blessing.

“I was invited into people’s homes, people’s communities, people’s lives. Like I said, these people go through such adversity, yet they are still able to be very humble, be polite. Be hopeful.”

Jenna Cederberg

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James Swan takes part in a drum circle while singing a song praising Leonard Peltier at the Tribal Sovereignty Forum at Mount Rushmore on Sunday, August 29, 2010. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Rapid City Journal)

James Swan takes part in a drum circle while singing a song praising Leonard Peltier at the Tribal Sovereignty Forum at Mount Rushmore on Sunday, August 29, 2010. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Rapid City Journal)

Forty years ago, a group of Native American activists occupied Mount Rushmore for three months as a way to draw attention to the myriad problems facing Indian people in the United States. Yesterday, a reunion by some of the original participants recalled that time, and looked ahead to dealing with the problems that remain. The Rapid City Journal’s Jomay Steen has the story:

MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL — “Today is a lesson in history,” Robert Cook, former president of the National Indian Education Association, said Sunday at Mount Rushmore.

“It feels good that we had people who stood up and risked being arrested, losing their freedom at a place that represents freedom,” Cook said, recalling a group of Native American activists who protested and held a three-month-long occupation of the memorial 40 years ago, bringing national attention to Native issues. It wasn’t done on a whim, Cook said, but involved courage to stand up for their beliefs.

A group of the California-based United Native Americans climbed to the top of Mount Rushmore 40 years ago and began a their occupation to educate the nation about Native tribal sovereignty, treaty rights and poverty.

On Sunday, some of the original activists, their children and grandchildren gathered to commemorate the day that the group first scaled the mountain and to revisit those issues that still plague the people living on reservations in South Dakota.

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Mikhail, Aleut hunter, by Mary Ellen Frank, in commissioned baidarka by Aleut artist Doug Vaubel. (Photo Mary Ellen Frank)

Mikhail, Aleut hunter, by Mary Ellen Frank, in commissioned baidarka by Aleut artist Doug Vaubel.


Dollmaker focuses on portraits of Alaska Native people
Alaska’s Mary Ellen Frank is in Sitka this weekend for the 2010 International Conference on Russian America. Frank’s contribution? She’s a dollmaker, whose work, along with that of other dollmakers on both sides of the Pacific, is featured at the Sitka Historical Museum. As the Anchorage Daily News writes, Frank walks a fine line because she is not Native, but her internationally renowned dolls are portraits of Alaska Native people. It’s important, she says, to get permission from both individuals and tribes before making each doll. See more of her work on the Juneau Artists website.

New bill address Missouri River dams that flooded Indian Reservations
A half-century ago, something called the Pick-Sloan Program built a number of dams along the Missouri River, flooding lands of seven Indian reservations, destroying homes, farmland and hunting areas. Rob Capriccioso of Indian Country Today writes that “It is estimated that Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes lost 202,000 acres overall, which means the dams destroyed more Native American land than any other public works project in the history of the nation.” Now Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has introduced a bill that hopes to resolve the problems caused to those tribes.

Hopi Nation, other tribes, fight fake snow on sacred Arizona peaks
The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the ongoing fight by the Hopi Nation and other tribes against snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks at the Snowbowl ski resort outside Flagstaff, Ariz. The Navajo, Hopi and 11 other tribes view the peaks as sacred and that any moisture there should occur naturally. The Flagstaff City Council will address the issue tomorrow, according to the Daily Sun newspaper in Flagstaff, which has a full report.

Porcupine's Tia Pourier, right, takes a closer look at her sister, Terri's, 14, left, neckless before modeling for the REDSPIRIT Fashion Show. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Rapid City Journal staff)

Porcupine's Tia Pourier, right, takes a closer look at her sister, Terri's, 14, left, neckless before modeling for the REDSPIRIT Fashion Show. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Rapid City Journal staff)

Red Spirit Fashion Show part of cross-cultural effort at Central States Fair
It was the first Unity Day at the 2010 Central States Fair in South Dakota, but it won’t be the last, the Rapid City Journal writes. Among the offerings at the event designed to promote cross-cultural understanding was the Red Spirit Fashion Show featuring contemporary clothing by Native American designers. Native Sun News publisher Tim Giago says Unity Day will be a part of next year’s fair. Giago helped organize South Dakota’s year of Reconciliation 20 years ago in an effort to improve troubled relations between the state’s Native and non-Native people. Now, as then, says Carmen Yellow Horse, it’s important that “we start a conversation.”

Gwen Florio

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Oglala Sioux Tribal leader Wilmer Mesteth, assisted by Jack Cummings, performs the Lakota burial ritual near Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood this week. Tim Velder/Lawrence County Joural)

Oglala Sioux Tribal leader Wilmer Mesteth, assisted by Jack Cummings, performs the Lakota burial ritual near Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood this week. Tim Velder/Lawrence County Joural)

Here’s the full story from the Associated Press:

Master E-man of the First Taoism Foundation in Los Angeles, blesses a plate of nuts during the traditional Chinese burial ceremony near Mount Moriah Cemetery. (Tim Velder/LCJ)

Master E-man of the First Taoism Foundation in Los Angeles, blesses a plate of nuts during the traditional Chinese burial ceremony near Mount Moriah Cemetery. (Tim Velder/LCJ)

DEADWOOD, S.D. (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest, a Taoist master and a Lakota holy man joined forces to help rebury 130-year-old remains uncovered in the western South Dakota town of Deadwood.

The remains were discovered in 2006 by workers dismantling a retaining wall in a Deadwood neighborhood. They were identified as being either an American Indian or Chinese man. The Chinese worked in Deadwood’s gold-mining industry years ago.

The remains were reburied Wednesday in Mount Moriah Cemetery. The ceremony began with a traditional Catholic prayer and scripture reading, followed by Chinese and Native American burial rituals.

“No matter what religious belief you are, whether you’re … Lakota, Chinese, or even what your faith is, you have entitled burial rights as a human being,” said Terry Gray with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

Gilbert Hom with the Chinese Historical Society said officials never considered fighting over the heritage of the remains. Taoist minister Master E-man of Los Angeles added that “No matter who it is, it’s our ancestor.”

“We pray simply with that faith that each one of us has,” said the Rev. Kerry Prendiville of St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Deadwood.

Deadwood Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker said he was not aware of such a ceremony ever happening before.

“Not only are we protecting our history, but we’re making history as well,” he said.

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Writer Stew Magnuson (“The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska-Pine Ridge Border Towns”) today memorializes Billy Gibbons, who died last month at the age of 75.

In his blog, A View from a Washichu, Magnuson writes here that:

BillyGibbons

    Gibbons was the son of a Lakota woman, Elsie Long Cat, and a white father, William Gibbons. Billy was raised in Wounded Knee, but had made Gordon, Nebr., his home since the 1950s.

    He was a man who had both feet firmly, and proudly, planted in both cultures. And maybe it’s no accident that he made a Nebraska border town his home.

    Gibbons came to Gordon and began a drywall business after serving in the Korean War. That how he made a living. More important was how he lived.

Magnuson describes how, among other things, Gibbons helped him defuse a potential confrontation after an American Indian Movement protest in 1972.

It’s a lovely tribute. Check it out.

Gwen Florio

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Left to right: John G. Neihardt, Nicholas Black Elk and Standing Bear of the Oglala Sioux meet during an interview session for "Black Elk Speaks" in Manderson, S.D., in May 1933. (PHOTO BY ENID NEIHARDT; COURTESY OF THE NEIHARDT TRUST, via the Lincoln Journal Star))

Here, Kevin Abourezk of the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star, details the developments concerning publication of the classic book “Black Elk Speaks.” The book was by far the best-selling book ever published by University of Nebraska Press before publication rights were switched to a New York publisher. But those rights lapse in 2013. Let’s let Abourezk tell it:

When she was a child, Charlotte Black Elk’s grandfather would tell her stories about her great-grandfather Nicholas Black Elk.

Her great-grandfather — the subject of the 1932 book “Black Elk Speaks,” written by Nebraska poet laureate in perpetuity John G. Neihardt — died before she was born.

Her grandfather Ben Black Elk would hold his arms wide and say her great-grandfather’s life story was this big. The book, he said, contracting his arms so just a small space remained between his hands, told this much of that story.

“Everywhere I’ve traveled in the world people are familiar with it,” she said Tuesday of “Black Elk Speaks.” “He touched a lot of people and through the book continues to touch a lot of people.”

There are few places where “Black Elk Speaks” has had a more profound impact than in Nebraska, where the University of Nebraska Press published more than 900,000 copies of the book before the author’s family decided to sell the book’s publishing rights to a New York publisher in 2008.

The biography of the Lakota holy man remains the NU Press’ bestselling book of all time.

A former NU Press director, Gary Dunham, had lured the Neihardt family, which owns the book’s publication rights, east after he left Nebraska in December 2007 to become director of the State University of New York Press.

Now Dunham has left SUNY Press, according to a SUNY spokesman, who offered no further details on Dunham’s departure. SUNY Press’ contract to publish “Black Elk Speaks” won’t elapse until 2013, however.

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Three full buffalo, part of the Bear Butte State Park herd, enjoy a pleasant fall day on the grassy plain south of the famous mountain. (Steve McEnroe/Rapid City Journal)

Three full buffalo, part of the Bear Butte State Park herd, enjoy a pleasant fall day on the grassy plain south of the famous mountain. (Steve McEnroe/Rapid City Journal)

Here’s a good column from Jim Kent of the Rapid City, S.D., Journal about how summer is fraught with historic meaning in the West, especially for Native Americans. The National Days of Prayer to Protect Native American Sacred Places brings this to mind:

The first week of summer has different significance for different people. Among Native Americans, it’s a time of balance.

On the one hand, there’s the anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. It was the greatest victory by this country’s indigenous people over forces of the invading armies – and invading is precisely what they were.

I’ve always had sympathy for those European immigrants who, in search of any job they could get, found themselves wearing a U.S. Army uniform staring down hundreds of Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho. Bad move.

But the reality is that these warriors were merely fighting to protect their homelands, their women, children and way of life. And wouldn’t you if any of those anticipated invading armies we’ve been sending troops to keep in their foreign lands since 1946 ever made it to our shores?

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Payu Harris, left, participates in a march protesting the shooting death Christopher J. Capps, of Rapid City. Harris said that when law enforcement makes a mistake that they need to be held accountable. (Ryan Soderlin/Rapid City Journal)

Payu Harris, left, participates in a march protesting the shooting death Christopher J. Capps, of Rapid City. Harris said that when law enforcement makes a mistake that they need to be held accountable. (Ryan Soderlin/Rapid City Journal)

About 60 people, most of them Native America, staged a march in South Dakota yesterday to protest last month’s fatal shooting of a stick-wielding Lakota man by a Pennington County deputy sheriff. The Rapid City Journal’s Mary Garrigan has the story here:

Jaylene Capps, left, composes herself while she and her husband, Jerry, speak at the Mother Butler Center. (Ryan Soderlin/Rapid City Journal)

Jaylene Capps, left, composes herself while she and her husband, Jerry, speak at the Mother Butler Center. (Ryan Soderlin/Rapid City Journal)

    People lined up to offer Jerry and Jaylene Capps of Rapid City hugs, support and sympathy. The Capps fought back tears to thank the group for its “overwhelming support” following the death of their son, Christopher, in what they believe was an unjustified shooting by a deputy sheriff. …

    Capps, 22, died after he was shot five times by sheriff’s deputy David Olson in a field near the Sunnyside Mobile Home Community near Black Hawk. Olson was responding to an assault call involving Capps. He was cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting by the state Division of Criminal Investigation and Attorney General Marty Jackley. That decision was viewed with suspicion and anger at Tuesday’s events, which began with a 1:30 p.m. protest march down Haines Avenue to the City/School Administration Center organized by the United Urban Warrior Society. A community meal and forum followed at the Mother Butler Center.

No one there had much confidence in the details of the official report that cleared deputy Olson.

Pennington County Sheriff Don Holloway says the official report clearing the deputy is accurate and fair.

“I think we all feel bad for what happened, but obviously you can’t change the outcome,” Holloway says. “They definitely have their right to do their march and have their viewpoint, but I think that the attorney general’s report speaks for itself.”

One protester, Tamara Jimenez wore a gray T-shirt that read “R.C. P.D. are murders (sic). Some people carried Native American pride banners. There was an American Indian Movement flag. Signs read: “Is RCPD Protecting Us or Are They Killing Us?” and “Wildlife and Native American males: Open Season.”

Some people said that had Capps been white, he merely would have been Tasered.

“Five shells for an Indian; a Taser for a white man,” said Edgar Bear Runner, an Oglala Lakota who drove from Porcupine for the protest, told the Journal. “That’s why I’m here today.”

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