News Collection Diary For June 13th, 2010

I’ll start:

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., today ordered flags on the Navajo Nation to be flown at half-staff from June 3 through June 6 in honor and recognition of the late Navajo Code Talker Lemuel Bahe Yazzien of Whitecone, Ariz., who died Friday. [May 28, 2010]

He was 91. He was born on June 2, 1918, and would have turned 92 today.

“The late Reverend Lemuel B. Yazzie was a renowned Navajo Code Talker who served the United States of America, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the Navajo Nation during World War II with courage, honor and distinction,” President Shirley said in a proclamation to be issued Thursday.

“The Rev. Yazzie endured the horrors of combat during the occupation of China and was in a radio platoon in a forward echelon against hostile forces. The Navajo Nation unites and offers prayers and deepest condolences to his family during this time of grief.”

In 2002, he received the Congressional Silver Medal for his Marine service.

Teen Suicides Spike in Navajo Country

Seven teen suicides around the small towns of Thoreau and Prewitt in McKinley County have led state, federal, school and Navajo officials  to join forces, the Albuquerque Journal reported over the weekend.

Agencies, especially those of the Navajo Nation, are providing counseling and staffing a 24-hour hotline to deal with the fallout from seven suicides by teens 17 and younger, the Journal tells us.


Residents and mental health professionals have posited various explanations for the spree of suicides, ranging from the region’s struggling economy to drug and alcohol abuse and a lack of opportunities and activities, Uyttebrouck writes.


June 8, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians has been granted a restraining order in the Superior Court of California-San Diego County to halt the Padre Dam Municipal Water District from “further desecrating a recently-unearthed Kumeyaay burial and ceremonial ground,” a statement issued by Viejas announced. Padre Dam Municipal Water District is constructing a new reservoir and pumping station at the site, which is on approximately two acres south of I-8 near Lake Jennings Park Road and Old Highway 80.

In a hearing yesterday, Judge Judith Hayes ordered the District to avoid construction over roughly two-thirds of the construction site until at least June 25, when the hearing for a permanent injunction is scheduled. A representative for California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office appeared at today’s hearing and spoke in favor of the restraining order.

Navajo Nation Council opposes AZ immigration law

Lawmakers on the country’s largest American Indian reservation have voted to formally oppose Arizona’s tough new immigration law.


Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay sponsored the measure. He says he sees the immigration law as an attempt to harass American Indians, who can resemble Mexican nationals.


Navajo lawmakers came out against a state measure that prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity. Begay says the Navajo culture should be respected and protected.

Letting the Arrows Fly at Hollywood Stereotypes

Movie Review

Reel Injun

June 14, 2010

Setting off in his barely road-worthy “rez car,” Mr. Diamond films a series of bittersweet, and sometimes bitingly funny, encounters. A husband and wife, Navajo elders who worked as extras in John Ford westerns, see themselves on screen for the first time and recall how the Indian dialogue in those films was often significantly different from (and more obscene than) what was in the script. At the Pine Ridge reservation, the activist Russell Means remembers being in the trading post during the 1973 stand-off at Wounded Knee and watching on television as Sacheen Littlefeather turned down the best actor Oscar on Marlon Brando’s behalf, citing “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry.”

In a more somber and troubling sequence, Mr. Diamond’s camera watches the faces of grade-school students at the Crow Agency as they watch the scenes of Indians being slaughtered in “Little Big Man.”

Clips from decades of Hollywood westerns illustrate Mr. Diamond’s points; one withering sequence shows white actors in red face: Burt Lancaster, Charles Bronson, Elvis Presley, Burt Reynolds. The gallery of talking heads includes American Indian artists like the director Chris Eyre, the artist-activist John Trudell and the comedian Charlie Hill, who over a montage of death-by-arrow scenes says: “The best part of any movie was when you heard pffffft. Oh, I loved that.”


  1. go in and edit this diary… meaning that when you go to build the actual posting diary for dkos you can go in and scoop up the code above, especially about the beloved code talker and just cut and paste. pucka tucka.

  2. For as long as anyone can remember, Churro sheep have been central to Navajo life and spirituality, yet the animal was nearly exterminated in modern times by outside forces who deemed it an inferior breed. Now, on a Navajo reservation of northern Arizona and New Mexico, the Churro is being shepherded back to health.

    Churro sheep are smaller than most breeds and have a long, wavy lustrous fleece that is valued by Navajo weavers like Kady. He lives near Teec Nos Pos, where he’s chapter president – sort of like being the town’s mayor. For him, this flock is part of something larger, something he calls “din’e bi iina,” the Navajo lifeway. “Din’e” is the preferred name for the Navajo, and “bi iina” means “lifeway.”

  3. …The center started offering classes here in leased spaces in 1983, and has grown from about 30 students in the beginning to 565 today. Its current campus opened in 1999, and had a four-classroom expansion three years ago.

    “We are growing with each semester,” campus director Shirley Lewis said.

    Now, the college needs another four classrooms. Plan A is to use an $800,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to purchase and renovate the office building at 117 Knollwood Drive.

  4. ….

    INDIAN ISLAND, Maine – … Penobscot elder and former Chief Jim Sappier has drafted an identical resolution for the United South and Eastern Tribes and the National Congress of American Indians in support of the Episcopal Church’s “Call for Justice for Indigenous Peoples” to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery.

    The resolutions have been forwarded and will be presented at USET’s semi-annual meeting June 14 – 17 in Mobile, Ala., and NCAI’s mid-year conference June 20 – 23 in Rapid City, S.D.

    The national Episcopal Church passed a resolution last summer disavowing the Doctrine of Discovery and calling on the United States government to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. USET and NCAI have already passed resolutions supporting the endorsement of UNDRIP.

  5. ….

    On June 1, the Tonto Apache Tribe and the United States Department of Interior completed a lands to trust acquisition that added 293 acres of land adjacent to the tribe’s existing reservation to be held in trust for the benefit of the Tribe.

    The acquisition will more than quadruple the size of the tribe’s existing 85-acre reservation which was originally set aside for the tribe by federal law on Oct. 6, 1972. The tribe’s present reservation and the additional 293 acres are all lands within the vast aboriginal territory occupied by the Tonto Apache.

    The road to obtain the 293 acres has been long and arduous, and is a testament to the perseverance of the Tonto Apache people to survive in the face of all odds. During the early 1900s, many tribal members were returning home after being incarcerated on the San Carlos Apache Reservation as the result of a forced march of hundreds of miles by the United States Cavalry in the winter of 1875, where many died of exposure. This imprisonment at San Carlos in the late 1800s cleared the way for Anglo settlers to move into the Tonto Apache territory – making the Tonto Apache unwelcome in their own homelands.

  6. ….

    OKLAHOMA CITY – If the Red Earth Pow-Wow is a statement of multi-tribal diversity, then painter Matt Bearden is a poster boy for the cause. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation member went to school in Cherokee Country in Tahlequah, Okla. lives in Osage Country in Hominy, Okla. and paints primarily Southern Plains subjects.

    “You see a lot of different influences in my work.”

    As the father of an 8-month-old baby boy, he has reshuffled his priorities much like he has sifted through artistic influences. As a former student of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M., he is used to looking for things that will inspire him.

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