News from Native American Netroots

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Welcome to News from Native American Netroots, a Monday evening series focused on indigenous tribes primarily in the United States and Canada but inclusive of international peoples also.

A special thanks to our team for contributing the links that have been compiled here. Please provide your news links in the comments below.

UPDATED: Flooded Rocky Boy’s Reservation seeks disaster status. IHS sends $1 million in aid. Yankton Reservation also suffering.

Both the Chippewa Cree Tribe in northern Montana and Sioux on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota were hit hard by floods late last month. Apparently the state of Montana won’t be able to provide help to the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, so now they’re hoping for a federal disaster declaration. Here are stories from the Associated Press on the situation at both reservations, as well as word of help to Rocky Boy’s from the from the Indian Health Service:

Federal program credited with cutting diabetes among Indians

A government program aimed at curbing the disproportionately high rate of diabetes among Native Americans has only one year left, and supporters are urging its renewal.

“The rate of those suffering from diabetes is alarming, and we need to continue to build on our efforts to combat it,” said Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D. “We made some strides in improving health in Indian Country earlier this year with the passage of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act as part of comprehensive health care reform, but there is still a lot of work to do.”

US Rule Could Keep Iroquois From Lacrosse Tourney

The teams participating in the World Lacrosse Championships in England represent 30 nations, from Argentina to Latvia to South Korea to Iroquois.

The Iroquois helped invent lacrosse and, in a rare example of international recognition of American Indian sovereignty, they participate at every tournament as a separate nation. But they might not be at this year’s world championship tournament because of a dispute over the validity of their passports.

The 23 players have passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy, a group of six Indian nations overseeing land that stretches from upstate New York into Ontario, Canada.

Mark Trahant: Indian health caught in middle of budget debate

“Democrats are leaving Washington for the July 4 recess without passing key parts of their health care agenda,” writes Andrew Villegas for Kaiser Health News. “…with states hit hard by the recession, an extension of extra Medicaid funds also seemed likely.” But because of a “contentious debate, with conservative Democrats and Republicans opposing programs that could add to the deficit.” The result, Villegas writes, is “the Medicaid and COBRA subsidies are still in limbo.”

Many American Indian and Alaska Native patients in the Indian health system are in a precarious spot because of this battle. Some of the increased spending for Indian Health Service depends on increasing Medicaid rolls. This is important because Medicaid, unlike the IHS budget, is an entitlement. Once a person is eligible, the money is supposed to be there (in contrast to a straight budget line that runs out of money once its spent). This problem should be simple: States don’t have to pay for patients in the Indian health system because the federal government eventually picks up the cost. But the problem is each state will define eligibility and a tightening of state rules will mean that patients that should be eligible for Medicaid, won’t qualify.

It would be easy to dismiss states as uncaring. But the problem is there are fewer dollars available from tax collections during the recession. State budgets are wrecked by too many promises, ranging from pension obligations to constitutional promises to always balance the budget.

8th Circuit backs Meskwaki jurisdiction over non-Indian business

The Meskwaki Nation of Iowa can assert jurisdiction over a non-Indian business, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday.

Generally, tribes lack jurisdiction over non-Indians. But the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Montana v. US sets out two exceptions to the rule.

In a unanimous decision, the 8th Circuit said the tribe satisfied one of the exceptions. The court said the conduct of Attorney’s Process and Investigation Services, a security company, directly “threatened” the health, welfare and economic security of the tribe.

API was hired by Alex Walker, a former tribal chairman, to take control of the tribal headquarters and the casino from a group of challengers, the court said. “Its apparent purpose in raiding the tribe’s facilities was to seize control of the tribal government and economy by force,” the 8th Circuit said.

Conn. land dug up for items from Indian war

Artifacts of a battle between a Native American tribe and English settlers, a confrontation that helped shape early American history, have sat for years below manicured lawns and children’s swing sets in a Connecticut neighborhood.

A project to map the battlefields of the Pequot War is bringing those musket balls, gunflints and arrowheads into the sunlight for the first time in centuries. It’s also giving researchers insight into the combatants and the land on which they fought, particularly the Mystic hilltop where at least 400 Pequot Indians died in a 1637 massacre by English settlers.

Historians say the attack was a turning point in English warfare with native tribes. It nearly wiped out the powerful Pequots and showed other tribes that the colonists wouldn’t hesitate to use methods that some consider genocide.

Navajo potter continues her art, shows at 95

Navajo potter Rose Williams continues her art at age 95, and will appear in Santa Fe at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian to provide pottery demonstrations.

Williams was to attend the museum’s annual show of pueblo and Navajo folk art, which ran July 9 through 11th. She was doing onsite demonstrations of her art each day at the Case Trading Post.

Another sentenced in Four Corners artifacts case

Nicholas K. Laws has maintained he never collected ancient American Indian artifacts for sale, but when he was offered money by a federal informant the father of three desperately needed it.

“For my client, this was not a living,” Laws’ attorney, Randy S. Ludlow, said in federal court Monday. “He was never doing it to make a fast buck.”

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart sentenced Laws to two years of probation for the sale of a ceremonial twin effigy doll, waiving guidelines that called for six months to a year in prison.

American Indian culture celebrated at Ruscombmanor festival

Nearly 1,000 people spent Saturday learning more about the culture of American Indians at the ninth annual Native American Festival.

Held at Hobby Horse Ranch, 428 Hartz Road, Ruscombmanor Township, the three-day event has something for people of all ages, festival President Jim Convry said.

Cherokee, Mohicans, Osage, Lenape, Seneca and others come from all over the country to participate, he said.

Patricia Whitefoot named to National Advisory Council on Indian Education

Patricia L. Whitefoot, Yakama/Diné, has been appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education.

The 15-member council advises and makes recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Education, and submits a yearly report to Congress on issues pertaining to Indian education.

“Patricia has been a committed and effective leader over the course of 40 years of Indian education experience,” Sen. Patty Murray said. “She has demonstrated vast knowledge of the issues through her management of Indian education programs ranging from early childhood to higher education, as well as through her role as a tribal leader on the Yakama Tribal Council. … I am confident that she will be a powerful voice for Indian education in Washington state and across the country.”

Bartlesville Indian Summer announces ‘Elder of the Year’

Oklahoma Indian Summer and Executive Director Dee Ketchum are proud to honor Dolores “Dee” Theis, longtime community and Oklahoma Indian Summer volunteer, as OIS’s 2010 Elder of the Year.

“l was very humbled and honored,” Dee said of the decision which will be in celebration of the 23rd season of the Native American festival.

While, Dee accepts the honor with deep pride she says she is most thankful she was able to be present for the first planning meeting for Oklahoma Indian Summer in 1988.

“I was at the very first meeting,” she says.

“Just to be a part of such a thing is humbling, but for Bartlesville to have this and to have it grow has been quite an experience.”

Navajo Partnership for Housing still bringing mortgages to Navajos

The Navajo Partnership for Housing continues to bring mortgage financing to members of the Navajo Nation on or near its reservation, which sprawls across New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, despite the housing depression.

And, according to executive director Lanalle Smith, the Native CDFI (community development financial institution) has ambitious plans to branch out into housing project development on or near the reservation to go along with its scattered-site financings.

To date, NPH has arranged or provided 435 loans and grants to 334 families to help tribal members buy, build or rehabilitate a home. Total financing comes to $36.3 million to date.

President’s Recovery Act Announcement

Today, President Obama announced investment in sixty-six new Recovery Act broadband projects nationwide that, according to the grantees, will not only directly create approximately 5,000 jobs up front, but will also help spur economic development in some of the nation’s hardest-hit communities, helping create jobs for years to come.  In total, tens of millions of Americans and over 685,000 businesses, 900 health care facilities and 2,400 schools in all fifty states stand to benefit from the awards.  The $795 million in grants and loans through the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture have been matched by over $200million in outside investment, for a total public-private investment of more than $1 billion in bringing broadband service to these communities,most of which currently have little or no access, to help them better compete and do business in the global marketplace.

The grants and loans are part of an overall $7.2 billion investment the Recovery Act makes in expanding broadband access nationwide – $4.7billion through the Commerce Department and $2.5 billion funded through the Department of Agriculture.  With the awards being announced tomorrow, more than $2.7 billion in Recovery Act broadband grants and loans will have been awarded to more than 260 projects across the country since December 2009.  Overall, the Recovery Act is making a $100billion investment in science, innovation and technology that is no tonly creating jobs today, but laying a foundation for economic growth for years to come.

A cornerstone for better child support services

When Sarah Colleen Sotomish was a student at University of Washington, her brother and sister had already served on the Quinault Nation Business Council, continuing a tradition of service as descendants of treaty signers and members of one of Quinault’s traditional leadership families.

Sotomish visited her grandmother – the wise family matriarch, well past 100 in years – and asked her what she thought her role was going to be.

“My grandmother told me, ‘You’re not going to live in one culture or the other. You are going to have your feet in both cultures. You are going to be a bridge, you are going to learn both cultures and bring the two together.’”

Her grandmother was prophetic.

Healing, sharing and competition at Fort Washakie powwow

It was between him and the drums.

He didn’t think about the men around him, dancing, swaying, moving with chants. He didn’t think about what he would do later, or the precision of his movements.

He entered the arena, paused, waited for the drum group to begin. He ignored the chaos of a festival around him.

Singing started. It was slow and traditional, his favorite.

He started moving, arms waved up, down, his feet stomped and tapped back and forth to the beat. He swung his fan of eagle feathers. He bent down, swayed to the side, back up again.

Red Cloud Indian School receives largest grant in organization’s history

The students of Red Cloud Indian School will be the beneficiaries of a five-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will go toward funding the reservation school’s comprehensive after-school and summer program. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant is the largest award to be given to Red Cloud in the institution’s 120-year history.

The federal grant award was announced by M. Michael Rounds, governor of South Dakota, in May. Funds will be distributed over a five-year period as Red Cloud realizes program goals and successes.

“We are very grateful to the Department of Education for recognizing in our students, teachers and families the important work that after-school and summer programs offer the Lakota students we educate each year,” said Robert Brave Heart Sr., superintendent of schools. “The co-curricular programs at Red Cloud play an instrumental role in ensuring that each student who leaves our doors at graduation is poised for a successful, meaningful life.”

A Choctaw Indian finds himself on the Emerald Isle

Gary White Deer has spent a lifetime wrestling with his identity, his history, his sense of belonging.

Artist, teacher, medicine man, he has roamed the country – visiting elders, soaking up old stories and songs. He married a Kiowa woman whose family practiced traditional ways. He formed a native dance troupe, prayed at the sacred mound of Nanih Waiya in Mississippi, immersed himself in historic preservation groups, taught tribal history. Still, he has always wondered: What does being a Choctaw mean in an age when it seems anyone with a drop of tribal blood could declare themselves Indian?

In the end, he found answers, but not on the reservations or anywhere he might have expected.

Navajo Department of Justice: Ranch program under investigation

An investigation into allegations of illegal and unethical behavior by Navajo Nation government employees has been expanded to include the tribal ranch program, a Navajo justice official said.

The Navajo Nation leases more than two dozen tribal ranches on about 1.5 million acres that are divided into range units, most of which lie in New Mexico. Henry Howe, assistant attorney general for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, said the department petitioned a special panel of judges to add the tribal ranch program to the investigation after allegations of improprieties in awarding ranch leases surfaced. “We received sufficient credible evidence that convinced the attorney general that further investigation was warranted,” he said.

A special investigator already is looking into the tribe’s contractual relationship with a Utah-based satellite Internet company, a tribal loan guarantee to a Shiprock, N.M., manufacturing company and discretionary funding doled out by Tribal Council delegates.


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