Posts Tagged ‘Navajo’

State of Native languages in America
The U.S. Census Bureau released data this week on the number of Native language speakers left in the U.S. today and broke down just how many speakers are left to speak different languages.

As the Washington Post reports, the Navajo have the largest population of speakers, with about 169,000.

    The figure is based on five-year estimates from community surveys that allowed the Census for the first time to study small segments of the U.S. population. The Census found in a study released this month that fewer than a half-million people age 5 and over speak a Native American language at home. About 65 percent of them are in nine counties in Arizona, New Mexico and Alaska.
    Navajo topped the list of the 20 most frequently spoken Native languages, followed by Yupik and Dakota, each with 19,000 speakers. Yupik is an Eskimo language spoken in Alaska, while Dakota is a Sioux language spoken mainly in the Dakotas.

‘They Will Be Missed’
Make sure to check out ICTMN’s photo slideshow, a tribute to Native leaders, activists and honored elders who walked on this year.

All will be missed.

Cost of $1?
The $1 coin is in trouble. No one seems to want them, especially the commemorative ones that feature past presidents. But how does the Sacagawea dollar play into that mix?

Listen to NPR’s Planet Money podcast “Dollar Coins Are Done” podcast for the answer. Sacagawea is mentioned specifically around minute 12:25.

Jenna Cederberg

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Lynda Lovejoy (Associate Press)

Lynda Lovejoy (Associate Press)


Navajo tribal election officials are holding to their count that Lynda Lovejoy lost a November bid to become the tribe’s first woman leader.

Lovejoy officially conceded the race last week by giving up her call for a recount of votes, Kate Saltzstein of Native Sun News reported on Indianz.com.

Among reasons for the loss, Lovejoy said the “woman factor” played a part. Leadership roles are not a part of the traditional role of Navajo women. The choice of Earl Tulley as the vice president candidate was also criticized, Saltzstein reports.

    Lovejoy, a New Mexico state senator, said that during the election, people called her from across the reservation complaining that polling places ran out of ballots preventing them from voting. She also charged that there was fraud in the election.

    However, the director of Office of Election Administration responded that there was no fraud in the election and that representatives from his office visited people who could not vote on Election Day to record their votes.

    It would have cost Lovejoy more than $5,000 to pay for a recount.

Lovejoy will now go back to her duties as a state senator and plans to write a book about her life.

Jenna Cederberg

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Navajo Code Talker Frank Chee Willeto autographs a new sign marking the Highway 264 as Navajo Code Talkers Highway at a dedication on Wednesday in Yatahey, N.M.  (Times photo – Leigh T. Jimmie)

Navajo Code Talker Frank Chee Willeto autographs a new sign marking the Highway 264 as Navajo Code Talkers Highway at a dedication on Wednesday in Yatahey, N.M. (Times photo – Leigh T. Jimmie)


Navajo Times staff report:

On Dec. 31, 1945, Jean Whitehorse’s father, the late Edmund Henry Sr., was paid a $147 stipend by the Marines and provided a one-way bus ticket from Camp Pendleton, Calif., to Gallup.

As a member of a small band of warriors now known as the Navajo Code Talkers, Henry arrived home to little fanfare.

On Wednesday, his daughter said he would have been proud to know that a portion of State Route 264 now honors their memory.

In a ceremony that took place on the eve of Veterans Day, President Joe Shirley Jr., New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and officials of the New Mexico Department of Transportation were on hand for the dedication of Navajo Code Talkers Highway, which stretches from Yah-Ta-Hey to Window Rock.

“What we are doing is a small token of appreciation to the brave men who answered the call to service,” said Jackson Gibson, New Mexico state highway commissioner. “If it wasn’t for the code talkers, I don’t know what language we would be speaking today.”

Gibson said when the men were called to service they were not even eligible to vote and most lied about their ages so they could enlist.

“They volunteered so that we could practice the freedom we have today,” he said. “In fact, we practiced it the other day when we went to the polls to vote.”

The effort to designate a Navajo Code Talkers Highway began in 1998 when Navajo Nation Council Delegate Ronald Gishey (Lower Greasewood) presented the request to the State Highway Commission, but the commission did not act.

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The Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff details the story:

Five Hopi tribal members have been federally charged with taking two golden eagles without having a permit.

According to information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Flagstaff, all five were involved in taking two eaglets on May 8 from their nest at Elephant Butte on the Navajo Nation.

Apparently, one of the five who was to receive a permit to gather the eaglets on May 10 told the others that it was all right to collect the eaglets on May 8. According to tribe’s Cultural Preservation Office, no permission was granted to collect the eaglets early.

When questioned by authorities, one of the defendants stated that there is much competition for eaglets among Hopi collectors.

Eugene Mansfield, Brendan Mansfield, Eldrice Mansfield, Emmett Namoki and Lucas Namoki Jr. have all been charged with counts of unlawfully taking, possessing and transporting the eaglets. They were formally read the charges against them Tuesday in U.S. Magistrate Court in Flagstaff. Their next court appearance is Sept. 22.

Conviction for possession and transportation of the birds carries a penalty of $100,000 and up to a year in prison. Conviction for taking the birds carries a penalty of $15,000 and up to six months in prison.

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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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New York tribes to rally tomorrow in protest of Bloomberg’s “cowboy” remark

It’s a shame it takes a subscription to read all of this Newsday story, but the two-paragraph tease is pretty clear: “Native American outrage over New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s broadcast advice to Gov. David A. Paterson to ‘get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun’ [read full remarks in the New York Post] to collect Indian cigarette taxes will extend into next week with a rally at City Hall. Harry Wallace, chief of the Unkechaug Indian Nation of Mastic, a frequent target of the mayor, said Friday he was organizing the rally Monday.” Rest assured, we’ll keep you posted. The tax is supposed to go into effect Sept. 1.

Group seeks justice for missing, murdered aboriginal women
Cherry Smiley of the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network in Vancouver deals daily with the worst society dishes out to women – abuse, sexual exploitation, violence. And she has a pertinent question, especially on the issue of young girls finding themselves in these situations: “Why is society not horrified by what is happening here? This is not child labor, it’s child rape, yet the authorities have done little to deal with the pimps and perpetrators.” Valerie Talliman writes about it in Indian Country Today.

Assembly of First Nations seeks probe into police handling of serial killer case
And speaking of missing and murdered women – The Assembly of First Nations has joined other groups seeking a public probe into the way police in Vancouver, British Columbia, handled the caes of serial killer Robert Pickton. Many of Pickton’s victims were First Nations women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, said National Chief Shawn Atleo, who is a hereditary chief from Ahousaht. “A full and comprehensive public inquiry, with the participation of aboriginal people, is the only way to address the need for respect, justice and a better understanding of how we can prevent these tragedies in the future,” Atleo tells the Montreal Gazette here.

Las Vegas union makes contentious move to organize Navajo casino staff
Accusations and counter-accusations are flying as Culinary Workers Union Local 226, based in Las Vegas, attempts to unionize staff at the Fire Rock Navajo Casino. The union says casino management has been intimidating workers and trying to discourage them from signing up; management says it’s following the letter of the law. Bill Donovan, special to the Navajo Times, lays it all out.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to visit Inuit territories this week

Prime Minister Stephen Harper starts a five-day swing through all three northern territories starting tomorrow. The trip will kick off with a visit to Churchill, Man. Aug. 23. Harper will stop in Cambridge Bay Aug. 24, and then to to Resolute Bay on Aug. 25, the Nunatsiaq News reports here.

Gwen Florio

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Since I began moderating this blog more than a year ago, I’ve posted nearly every day – something that has made for a rich and intensive learning experience.

Numerous prayer offerings tied to aspens blow in the wind in the foothills of the mountains of Glacier National Park. For millennia, Native peoples used the area around Glacier for spiritual guidance as well as a variety of other needs.   (Kurt Wilson/Missoulian)

Numerous prayer offerings tied to aspens blow in the wind in the foothills of the mountains of Glacier National Park. For millennia, Native peoples used the area around Glacier for spiritual guidance as well as a variety of other needs. (Kurt Wilson/Missoulian)

But now it’s time for a little break, for a family trip to Glacier National Park

It’s a place that, as this story by the Missoulian’s Michael Jamison showed, has a long and tangled history with the tribes around it. Note that these days, they live around it — despite the fact that the region is their ancestral territory.

The park in recent years has done much to acknowledge that history, scheduling talks by Native American speakers nearly every night. So the learning experience, even on vacation, will continue. That’s a good thing.

In the meantime, if you’re on vacation — or even just have this weekend off — here are a couple of interesting events:

    The 133rd Commemoration of the Big Hole Battle will take place Saturday in southwestern Montana when Nez Perce veterans and tribal elders honor all who have fought and died on the battlefield through pipe and empty saddle ceremonies. Commemorative activities will begin at approximately 10 a.m. near the Nez Perce Camp, a 3/4-mile walk from the lower parking lot. Bring water, sunscreen and a folding chair or blanket. A minivan will be available to assist those with small children and/or walking limitations. Tours of the battlefield also will be available.

    Also this weekend, the Big Hole summer speaker series will feature Michael Penney along with Nez Perce Nation Drum. Their presentations will take place at the battlefield contact station following the commemorative events and at noon Sunday. A campfire program will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at the May Creek Campground, located seven miles west of the battlefield on Highway 43. Admission to all the events is free.

Weaver Colleen Biakeddy stands in front of her loom at last year's Navajo Festival . (Photo by Michele Mountain, 2009, MNA)

Weaver Colleen Biakeddy stands in front of her loom at last year's Navajo Festival . (Photo by Michele Mountain, 2009, MNA)


And Flagstaff, Ariz., is hosting the 61st annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture. It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days at the Museum of Northern Arizona, 3101 N. Fort Valley Road, and will feature the following, according to the Flagstaff Daily Sun:

– More than 75 Navajo artists, performers and artisans will gather at the festival, bringing their work to market and sharing what makes it distinctive. There will also be kids’ activities and food.

- A dedication to the late Alice Nez Horseherder, a lifelong sheep herder and weaver from Hard Rock in Arizona’s Black Mesa region. She died in 2009 at the age of 102.

- Performances by Blackfire, an award-winning alternative/punk/Native rock band that tackles socio-political messages. Blackfire, made up of siblings Klee, Clayson and Jeneda Bennally, has fans around the world.

- The Pollen Trail Dancers will perform colorful social and storytelling summertime dances, including the Dance of the Holy People, the Corn Grinding Dance, the Sash Belt or Weaving Dance, the Basket Dance, and the Bow and Arrow Dance.

- Grammy-nominated flutist and guitarist Aaron White will perform original songs and talk about the history of the Navajo flute.

- Radmilla Cody will serve as emcee in the Heritage Insights tent and sing traditional Navajo songs. Also, the film “Hearing Radmilla,” the story of Cody, the first bi-racial Miss Navajo Nation.

- Clarence Clearwater, who is known for entertaining passengers on the Grand Canyon Railway, will perform traditional and contemporary songs.

Festival admission is $7 adults, $6 seniors (65+), $5 students, $4 Native people, $4 children (7-17), and free to museum members. For more information, call 774-5213 or visit musnaz.org.

We’ll be back midweek next week!

Gwen Florio

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Mark Trahant is a Kaiser Media Fellow examining the Indian Health Service and its relevance to the national health care reform debate. He is a member of Idaho’s Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and writes from Fort Hall, Idaho. Comment at www.marktrahant.com. His new book is “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It’s trite to say, “everything is connected.” It’s a phrase that comes up in the context of family, the environment, or perhaps, philosophy. When the subject is reservation violence, however, that same notion could be rewritten as a blunt question: Docs or cops?

Cops are getting most of the attention after the signing of the Tribal Law and Order Act. At a White House ceremony on Thursday, Lisa Marie Iyotte introduced President Barack Obama. She is an enrolled member of the White Clay People, her father’s tribe, but grew up and lives as a Sicangu Lakota or Rosebud Sioux. She had the most difficult task: Describing her own brutal assault and rape that was witnessed by her children. The attack was never prosecuted because of the jurisdictional maze that complicates criminal justice in Indian Country.

“All of you come at this from different angles, but you’re united in support of this bill because you believe, like I do, that it is unconscionable that crime rates in Indian Country are more than twice the national average and up to 20 times the national average on some reservations,” the president said. “And all of you believe, like I do, that when one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes, that is an assault on our national conscience; it is an affront to our shared humanity; it is something that we cannot allow to continue.”

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In this Dec. 26, 1940 picture, Iroquois Indians who were born in Canada march through the main street of Buffalo, N.Y., carrying signs protesting that the U.S. pilgrim fathers were not required to be fingerprinted. They registered as aliens. Chief George Nash, right, was born on the Grand River, Ontario, Canada.  (AP file photo)

In this Dec. 26, 1940 picture, Iroquois Indians who were born in Canada march through the main street of Buffalo, N.Y., carrying signs protesting that the U.S. pilgrim fathers were not required to be fingerprinted. They registered as aliens. Chief George Nash, right, was born on the Grand River, Ontario, Canada. (AP file photo)

This story comes from Felicia Fonseca, based in the Southwest for the Associated Press, who writes frequently on Native issues:

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An American Indian lacrosse team’s refusal to travel on passports not issued by the Iroquois confederacy goes to the heart of one of the most sensitive issues in Indian Country — sovereignty.

The rights of Native nations to govern themselves independently has long been recognized by federal treaties, but the extent of that recognition beyond U.S borders is under challenge in a post-Sept. 11 world.

After initially refusing to accept Iroquois-issued passports because the documents lack security features, the State Department gave the team a one-time waiver.

The team maintained that traveling on anything other than an Iroquois-issued passport would be a strike against the players’ identity. But the British government wouldn’t budge in denying team members entry into England without U.S. or Canadian passports, leading the Iroquois Nationals to withdraw Friday from competing at the World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester in the sport their ancestors helped create.

“Any documents or IDs we put forth recognizing our members should also be recognized by the federal government and other governments,” argued Sanford Nabahe, a member of the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone, who — like many in the American Indian community — closely followed the Iroquois’ passport dispute. “The (federal) government has given us that autonomy.”

The Iroquois, whose members mostly live in New York, Ontario and Quebec, along with the Hopi and Western Shoshone are among the few American Indian nations in which members have had a form of their own passports.

The understanding that the Iroquois Confederacy’s lands are independent from the U.S. is taught early on in school, team member Gewas Schindler said Thursday as the team waited out the dispute in New York.

“You know that as a young person that you are sovereign, that you are not part of the United States,” he said. “We were the first people here.”

But some say the team’s adamant position went too far.

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R. Carlos Nakai, described here as the premier Native American flutist in the world, will perform tomorrow at the International Native American Flute Convention at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Given that description, it’s a little surprising to learn that Nakai, who is Navajo and Ute, was originally a classically trained trumpeter. He actually thought his musical career had stalled, until he discovered the Native American flute.

“It was sort of like a godsend,” Nakai told Troy Espe of the Leader-Telegram in Wisconsin during a telephone interview. “All of the sudden the flute appeared, and I started applying different music principles to it.”

As Espe writes:

    Nakai, who co-founded the International Native American Flute Association, has released more than 35 albums since 1983. He has sold 4 million copies, achieving gold status for the albums “Canyon Trilogy” and “Earth Spirit.”

    Nakai has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. His music has appeared in movies “The New World” and “Geronimo: An American Legend.”

Nakai has a master’s degree in American Indian studies from the University of Arizona. He’s performed with more than 15 symphonies and chamber orchestras, leads a jazz quartet and has played with Japanese, Tibetan, Hawaiian, Jewish and Arab musicians, Espe writes.

His msot recent album is “Dancing into Silence.”

Gwen Florio

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