Posts Tagged ‘Gwen Florio’

Hewankorn, Burke and Salois stand outside the mission. They’re among some 500 people who recently reached a settlement with the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus for reported abuse, but they say what they really want is an apology. (Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian)

If you haven’t already read Missoulian reporter Gwen Florio’s two-day look at the legacy of abuse at the Jesuit-run school and mission on the Flathead Indian Reservation, here is the set of stories.

Florio spent time with three tribal members who endured years of abuse at the hands of both priests and nuns. What does the recent $166.1 million settlement settlement with the Northwest Jesuits mean for the abused who have lived with the past so long? It’s been a long, hard road that continues for most victims, despite the pending settlement.

Part one:
Anguish has never healed for Natives physically, sexually abused at St. Ignatius mission

    (Garry) Salois, (Francis) Burke and (Leland) Hewankorn are among some 500 people – nearly all of them Native American or Alaskan Native – who prevailed in a $166.1 million bankruptcy reorganization against the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, better known as Jesuits.

Part two: Silence shrouds St. Ignatius Jesuit abuse case as settlement vote nears

    ST. IGNATIUS – The recent $166.1 million settlement for people who were sexually abused in Jesuit-run schools and missions on Indian reservations and Alaskan villages made international headlines.

    But here, where so much of the abuse occurred, the silence surrounding the case is as cold and deep as the stubbornly lingering snow on the Mission Mountains.

Also listed with the stories is a set of abuse resources.

Jenna Cederberg

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Jenna on duty

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Uncategorized

This is Jenna signing on as the “new” Gwen. As she said in her farewell post, as of this week I will begin fililng for Buffalo Post.

I was born and raised in Missoula, got my journalism degree from Washington State University and my first job as the editor of the Lake County Leader, based in Polson on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Covering Native news was a rich and interesting way to get my start in journalism. I missed it in my transition down to the Missoulian. I couldn’t be more excited to get back at it and to be a part of Buffalo Post.

You can catch me on twitter – @buffalopost and @jennacederberg.

E-mail, call 523-5374 or stop by and say hi, too, if you get a chance.

Thanks for reading –

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A Buffalo Post transition – and deep thanks

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in native news

For more than a year now, I’ve had the privilege of filing Buffalo Post, the Native News blog of the Missoulian newspaper in Montana.

The blog was begun by Jodi Rave, and I assumed responsibility for it when she left the newspaper.

For a non-Native person, Buffalo Post has represented a long and extremely rewarding learning experience. Thanks so much to the many people who were generous with their help along the way.

After a weekend hiatus, the Missoulian’s Jenna Cederberg will take over. You can reach her at

And, as always, thanks for reading!

Gwen Florio

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The leader of a group representing First Nations communities in Manitoba say many are dangerous short of fire services, the CBC reports.

David Harper heads the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, representing northern chiefs. He says he’s gotten no response to his efforts for more services, despite the dire need:

    A toddler died in a fire earlier this year in this house on the Long Plain First Nation. (CBC photo)

    A toddler died in a fire earlier this year in this house on the Long Plain First Nation. (CBC photo)

    In January, a CBC News investigation found seven out of 10 First Nations communities couldn’t provide help in a fire. Trucks and equipment are often in poor working condition and volunteer firefighters can be difficult to recruit.

    According to statistics from fire officials, nearly a quarter of fire fatalities in Manitoba occur in First Nations communities.

    The investigation followed the death of an 11-year-old boy whose remains were found in the rubble of a house that burned down on Shamattawa First Nation.

“It’s just like we’re forgotten,” says Nancy Powderhorn, director of operations in Tadoule Lake – which has no fire service at all.

Gwen Florio

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A lawyer for a First Nations woodcarver says the man apparently wasn’t facing Seattle police when an officer shot him to death in August, Steve Miletich of the Seattle Times reports:

    John T. Williams (CTV photo)

    John T. Williams (CTV photo)

    John T. Williams, the woodcarver fatally shot by a Seattle police officer Aug. 30, was struck by four bullets on the right side of his body, indicating he was not facing the officer at the time the shots were fired, the attorney representing the Williams family said Tuesday.

    “There’s nothing looking like he was facing toward him,” Seattle attorney Tim Ford said of Williams’ position as the officer fired. “It was all right side.”

John T. Williams, a member of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Dititdaht First Nation in British Columbia, was carrying a small carving knife when he was shot. Williams, who was partially deaf, was known for his miniature totem poles.

The story includes a copy of the autopsy report from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Gwen Florio

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As KOLD‘s Christina Stymfal explains, all five nominees for the Best Waila Recording are from the Tohono O’odham Nation – meaning that tribe will see its first Native American Music Award:

    The ceremony will be held on Nov. 12 at the Seneca Entertainment Center in the Seneca Casino & Hotel in Niagara Falls, New York. Voting is open to the public.

    Tohono O’odham nominees:

    * Gertie & the TO Boyz for their album “A Tribute to Augustine Lopez Sr.”
    * Native Creed for “Cumbiafied Nativez”
    * Native Thunder for “Get’n Down”
    * Papago Warrior for “Papago Warriors 5″
    * The Cisco Band for “T.C.O.B.”
    * Tohono O’odham Braves for “25 Years of Waila Music”

More samples can be found on the NAMA website.

Gwen Florio

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Elouise Cobell (AP)

Elouise Cobell (AP)

Elouise Cobell, lead plaintiff in the landmark class action $3.4 billion Indian trust case, uses her frequent Ask Elouise column to answer questions about the settlement, and updates people on the process that should eventually result in money for thousands of Native Americans.

The most recent Ask Elouise letter concerns last week’s failure by Congress to approve the $3.4 billion settlement reached last December.

The hopes of Cobell and her fellow plaintiffs in the case now rest on the lame-duck congressional session scheduled for after the Nov. 2 election. Cobell writes:

    Between now and October 15, I will consult with our attorneys and our champions in Congress to determine if (and how) our settlement legislation can be passed, as well as our options if we determine that there is no reasonable chance of passage.

The settlement has its own website, with a section for Frequently Asked Questions.

People with questions for the column can e-mail Cobell at, or send a letter to:

Ask Elouise
Cobell Settlement
PO Box 9577
Dublin, OH 43017-4877

Gwen Florio

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The Toronto Globe & Mail has Q&A with “Avatar” director James Cameron, who toured the oil sands in Alberta for three days this week and then joined First Nations leaders to ask Canada to protect the area from development.

The aboriginal community of Fort Chipewyan is downstream from the oil sands. The Lubicon Cree First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation, Duncan Lake First Nation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation are among those directly affecged by development there.

Cameron’s actions weren’t universally welcomed. As the Globe & Mail points out, the Edmonton Sun ran Cameron’s photo under the headline “Dipstick!” and also wrote an editorial calling him a hypocrite.

And Montana’s governor, Brian Schweitzer, took a poke at Cameron, accusing him of “blowing smoke,” according to the Associated Press.

“Any of these people who say they don’t like the oil sands, you ought to ask them if they’ll invite you to their house, and unless they’re living naked in a cave and eating nuts, they are totally dependent on petrol,” Schweitzer said.

Gwen Florio

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Images of three women: J, survivor of sexual violence; Cindy Pennington, chair of the Alaska Native Women's Sexual Assault Committee; Winona Flying Earth, from Bridges Against Domestic Violence J, survivor of sexual violence; Cindy Pennington, chair of the Alaska Native Women's Sexual Assault Committee; Winona Flying Earth, from Bridges Against Domestic Violence (BADV). © A. Nadel.

Images of three women: J, survivor of sexual violence; Cindy Pennington, chair of the Alaska Native Women's Sexual Assault Committee; Winona Flying Earth, from Bridges Against Domestic Violence J, survivor of sexual violence; Cindy Pennington, chair of the Alaska Native Women's Sexual Assault Committee; Winona Flying Earth, from Bridges Against Domestic Violence (BADV). © A. Nadel.

Columnist Kelly Cosby of the Kansan highlights one of the most important faces of the Tribal Law and Order Act signed into law two months ago today – the protection it will offer Native American women:

    In 2007, Amnesty International issued a report that included shocking statistics about sexual assault among these communities: Native American women are rape victims 2.5 times more often than other women in the U.S. In fact, more than one-third of Native American women will be victims of rape. And, as Amnesty International director recently wrote in an article regarding the necessity of addressing this issue, “women from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas told us that they couldn’t think of a single woman who hadn’t been sexually assaulted.”

Cosby terms those facts “chilling” and goes on to castigate the justice system for failing Native American women – and the media for largely ignoring an inexcusable problem.

At least, she says, the Tribal Law and Order Act is a first step – “It shows that the administration is beginning to take these types of rights violations seriously and wants to do something about them.”

Gwen Florio

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For awhile, it seemed as though the controversy a pact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to share management of the National Bison Range in Montana with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had died down. Sadly, that’s not the case – and tribal jobs could be lost in the process. Vince Devlin of the Missoulian has the story:

Volunteer cowboys drive a group of the herd into a corral during the 2006 bison roundup at the National Bison Range in Moiese, Mont. This year's roundup is scheduled to take place next week amid renewed controversy over management of the range. (Photo by Linda Thompson/Missoulian)

Volunteer cowboys drive a group of the herd into a corral during the 2006 bison roundup at the National Bison Range in Moiese, Mont. This year's roundup is scheduled to take place next week amid renewed controversy over management of the range, now shared by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. (Photo by Linda Thompson/Missoulian)

MOIESE – The smoldering dispute over the National Bison Range re-erupted in a Washington, D.C., federal courtroom Tuesday.

There, a judge rescinded a funding agreement between the Department of Interior and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, just days before the annual roundup on the Bison Range is scheduled to take place.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling appears to put approximately 10 CSKT employees out of work at the National Wildlife Refuge, probably as early as Wednesday.

The judge said that the Department of Interior violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it entered into a second funding agreement with the tribes more than two years ago, by failing to formally invoke a NEPA-required “categorical exclusion” for the newest pact.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which brought the lawsuit, heralded the judge’s decision and called on Interior to rapidly return U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel to the Bison Range jobs.

“We expect the government to act quickly to put Fish and Wildlife Service staff back in place to repair the ongoing damage to the Bison Range,” said Paula Dinerstein, senior counsel for PEER.

PEER has long alleged workers employed by the tribes at the Bison Range have failed to do their jobs properly, and reiterated that again Tuesday. In a news release from spokeswoman Kristin Stade, the organization said that "Among the issues the court found were improperly overlooked were inadequate care and feeding of the bison and a host of critical tasks left undone or improperly performed."


That analysis did not sit well with the tribes, which have vehemently denied PEER's allegations over the years.

"Our political opponents have taken this opportunity to smear the name of the tribes once again," CSKT spokesman Rob McDonald said. "The judge made her decision based on an environmental procedural rule regarding federal actions. The tribes didn't invite the problems that the judge responded to."

The court, McDonald also noted, "did not prohibit or discourage these types of partnerships."

PEER has vigorously opposed the partnership at the century-old Bison Range for years, arguing it sets a precedent that could leave 80 percent of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and 57 national parks in 19 states, under similar agreements with other Indian tribes.

"The Interior Department should go back to the drawing board rather than try to resurrect this flawed agreement," Dinerstein said. "For these tribal-federal agreements we need a model agreement that protects core resources and the integrity of our national parks and refuges. The Bison Range experience underlines the flaws of an ad hoc approach to what requires a national strategy."

A host of Fish and Wildlife personnel, including Bison Range manager Jeff King, referred questions from the Missoulian about Kollar-Kotelly's ruling to the U.S. Justice Department.

There, spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle issued a one-sentence statement.

"We're still reviewing the court's decision," it said, "and consulting internally within the Justice Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the practical ramifications of this decision."

King did answer one question, however. As of Tuesday afternoon, he said, the annual bison roundup scheduled for next week is still a go, with a final decision likely to be reached on Wednesday.


CSKT chairman E.T. "Bud" Moran said the tribes will also decide what course to take in the wake of Kollar-Kotelly's 37-page ruling.

"We are extremely disappointed with the decision," Moran said, "and will be exploring our options, along with the (Fish and Wildlife) Service. We want to avoid another disruptive de-staffing at the Bison Range."

The last time the plug was pulled on a funding agreement, in 2006, it was the Fish and Wildlife Service that did the pulling amid heated allegations from both sides. FWS employees charged they were harassed by CSKT, while the tribes accused the Fish and Wildlife Service of sabotaging their work in an effort to protect federal jobs.

The Department of Interior, which oversees the FWS, then stepped in and ordered the new funding agreement, which has been in place since 2008.

"The past 18 months have been a great success story of a true partnership on the ground," McDonald said. "We ultimately expect this to keep going forward."

PEER brought the lawsuit on behalf of four former Bison Range managers, a former chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a former assistant Interior secretary, and a Bison Range employee whose job was displaced.

PEER continues to assert in its news releases that the latest funding agreement had ceded control of the Bison Range to the Indian tribes, even though the refuge remained a part of the National Wildlife System and under control of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

King, the manager, is an FWS employee, as is one of the two deputy managers.

Tribal jobs lost in Tuesday's ruling include the other deputy manager, biologists, maintenance workers and Bison Range staff.

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