Archive for the ‘Native leaders’ Category

Just how important will the Native vote be this election year?

Marnee Banks of KXLH examines that question for Montanans in her piece “Campaign Battleground: Montana’s Native Americans.”

Both Democratic and Republican parties in the state acknowledge the importance of the vote.

    John Bennion, the author of “Big Sky Politics,” has studied the political landscape in Montana and how it impacts elections.

    “If you look at the Native American reservations, they are very rural areas of the state and they tend to vote Democratic,” Bennion says.

    However, in an unprecedented wave of Republican sentiment, conservatives won two legislative districts (House Districts 16 and 41) on the reservations last election.

One Native leader in the state sees Native support going to those who can create jobs on reservations. (See Banks’ full video here.)

    Montana Representative Tony Belcourt (D – Box Elder) represents a portion of the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation.

    He agrees with Bennion saying Native Americans typically vote Democrat, but he adds people need to realize Native Americans are an independent population. Belcourt says the problem is getting those 60,000 voters to the polls so their voices can be heard.

    “You look at reservations with double digit increases in population, compared to the last Census, and the local towns and counties surrounding reservations are growing, but we don’t see them participating in the legislative process,” Belcourt says. “Hopefully we can change that with the grassroots efforts like Montana Indian Democratic Caucus.”

Jenna Cederberg

Peter MacDonald Sr. (Courtesy of the Navajo Nation, via ICTMN)

At 83, Peter MacDonald Sr. is no stranger to being a leader and now he’s been elected to serve yet another distinguished group.

MacDonald, who served as the Navajo Nation’s chairman for four terms was elected last week to lead the Navajo Nation Code Talkers, ICTMN reports.

    MacDonald takes over the role that was previously held by Keith M. Little, who passed away on January 3.

    “I will do my best as your president,” MacDonald said while addressing his fellow comrades and their families upon accepting the position. “I am committed and dedicated to establishing the National Navajo Code Talkers Museum and Veterans Center…I need your help.”

MacDonald led the Navajo Nation as chairman for four terms, the last which ended in 1991. He served in WWII from 1944-46.

    Even at 83 MacDonald continues to give lectures across the nation and resides in Tuba City, Arizona on the Navajo Nation with his wife Wanda. They have five kids and seven grandchildren.

Jenna Cederberg

The Wounded Knee Memorial has been neglected for many years until Tribal member steps in to restore it. (Photo by Karin Eagle, courtesy of Native Sun News)

The Wounded Knee Memorial has been neglected for many years until Tribal member steps in to restore it. (Photo by Karin Eagle, courtesy of Native Sun News)

Story and photo by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer

WOUNDED KNEE – On a cold, windy morning, the mass grave site of the victims of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre is lonely and desolate.

The grave itself is surrounded by a cemetery, and backed by a log cabin church. Trash blows in from the surrounding area, empty beer boxes blowing up against and getting hung up on the chain link fence. There is little honor and reverence to be found in what should be the most revered site of the Lakota people.

With a strong mind and a generous heart, one Oglala man has taken on the responsibility of caring for the resting place of those victims of such a tragic and devastating event in the history of the Lakota people.

Julian Brown Eyes, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and owner of Competitive Masonry out of Rapid City, has taken the initiative in redoing the brick area surround the mass grave.

Donating all the materials needed as well as asking his employees, all Natives, to volunteer for such a poignant task, the renovation is being done at no cost to the descendants or the tribes who have people buried there.

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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.

Jenna Cederberg

Incredibly happy to pass along this update on Russell Means, diagnosed this summer with deadly throat cancer:

Russell Means (Courtesy of Native Sun News)

By Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Editor:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – In a remarkable turn of events, actor and American Indian activist Russell Means says he has defeated throat cancer.

This reversal of fortune is nothing short of a miracle. Means was diagnosed this summer with what was then essentially referred to as incurable, or inoperable, esophageal cancer. His physician gave him mere days to live at the time, he said. “The prognosis was grim,” Means told Tom Lawrence of the Mitchell Daily.

In a Dec. 8 telephone interview from his seasonal home in Scottsdale, Means spoke in a clear, robust voice – a stark contrast to his last Native Sun News interview in August, when his tones were made fragile and husky by the disease.

“I won the battle, man – I’m cancer-free,” he declared victoriously. “The doctor told me the day before yesterday that ‘Mr. Means, you will not die of cancer’.”

The triumph in Means’ voice was unmistakable.

Means, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, partially attributes his amazing recovery to the outpouring of support – in the form of supplication – from all of the multifaceted corners of the globe.

“I beat it with prayer – prayer from all over the world from all the different disciplines,” he said.

“And Indian prayer,” Means added. “Indian prayer and Indian medicine,” he said, in referencing his primary spiritual and cultural connection to his Lakota brethren.

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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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Salish Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee Elders Committee is being asked to weigh in on the mining regulation discussion the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are having with the state of Montana.

Officials in Montana have offered to begin regulating building stone mines on reservation fee land, the Char-Koosta News reports. As the tribe’s legal department continues to examine the issue, the elders’ opinions are being brought into the discussion as well. Sovereignty and the health of the land were main points of interest at the first meeting with elders to discuss the mining regulations.

There are several unregulated stone building mines on the reservation already. One has generated anger because of its close proximity to the sacred Chief Cliff site overlooking Flathead Lake.

    “When it comes to hard rock mines on fee land within the exterior boundaries of the Flathead Reservation, (fee land owners) can mine without regulations,” (CSKT legal department attorney Stu) Levit said. “The mining at Chief Cliff and Perma has been going on for quite a few years now. Cultural preservation acts don’t carry much weight.”

    Levit said the Tribes were concerned about the building stone mining at Perma and went to the State with their concerns. It was in those discussions that the CSKT learned that the State doesn’t have the regulative authority when it comes to building stone mining.

    . . .

    Elder Pat Pierre advised caution when it comes to the strange bedfellows political mix of State and tribal because it seems that it is the tribal people who consistently come out on the short end of the deal. He added that tribal people historically have had little say – if any – in laws that affect them.

Jenna Cederberg

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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Tim Giago

By Ernestine Chasing Hawk, Native Sun News managing editor

RAPID CITY — Tim Giago, Editor/Publisher of Native Sun News will put down his pen and retire from the newsroom April 1, three years to the day after he launched this “last and final newspaper.” He will remain on the newspapers masthead as Editor Emeritus, as he moves on to, “finish the book I have been writing all my life.”

“I always knew this day would come, but I never really prepared for it. I was always too busy making deadlines and anticipating the next breaking news story. I was that kind of editor who always tried to squeeze one last story into the paper before putting it to bed. I always jumped with joy whenever I beat my competitors with a great, breaking story and wrung my hands in anguish when they did the same to me,” Giago said in his weekly editorial.

The 76 year old Oglala Lakota’s career in journalism, which he once referred to as the “life of Kings” began as a result of an order when he was serving in the U.S. Navy.

“It happened by accident in the beginning. One day I was at my desk at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard typing a report when the commanding officer happened by. He watched me for a minute and then came up to me and said, ‘You type really well. You are now the editor of the base newspaper, the PacHunter,’” he said. “After I was given that order I had to learn to put out a monthly newsletter by the seat of my pants.”

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The 2011 State of Indian Nations address will be delivered Thursday morning at at 10:30 a.m. EST (that’s 8:30 a.m. for those of us in MST) from the Newseum’s Knight Studio.

    The speech will reflect on the state of Indian Country going into 2011 and outline the key priorities for the federal government to consider when working to uphold the federal trust responsibility to tribal nations.

    The address will be broadcast live on We encourage people all around the country to have viewing events at offices, schools, community centers, and in homes.

President of the National Congress of American Indians and Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma Jefferson Keel will deliver the speech. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will deliver a congressional response after Keel speaks.

It shouldn’t be hard to catch the address, along with the live stream from NCAI, the speech will be broadcast to radio stations via the Native Voice One (NV1) network and the Native America Calling program.

Jenna Cederberg