Working that Skirt: A $500 Challenge for Okiciyap

“What skirt,” you say?

Yesterday, volunteers for Okiciyap (we help) the Isabel Community, put the skirt on the trailer.

AND…we have a $500 challenge grant, good to tomorrow at midnight,

This donor is asking all the small donors to get together now….can you pitch in $5, $10, $15? It adds up quickly, believe me.

Right now, by my estimates we only have about $120 toward that challenge (correct me in the comments if I’m wrong). We have until midnight on Monday to qualify for the match. Can we do it drop by drop?

And when that challenge is up, another Kossack stepped forward with another challenge for next week…..

Here’s a photo update so you can see what your money is doing. Yesterday volunteers installed the skirt on the trailer.

Here they are:

Yes, everyone wants to help!

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Cutting the wood to size:

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There they go, working that skirt:

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Okiciyap is truly on the brink of success!

Won’t you help us get over this last hump, or forward this diary to someone who can?

(If you are financially pinched right now – which was me until a month ago –  please don’t feel guilty for not being able to send funds. You can help us by spreading the word and posting this story on your Facebook pages etc. We greatly appreciate ALL help here!)

We’re almost there. There is SUCH need on this reservation – 90% unemployment in winter, high youth suicide rates, and federal cuts in food stamps have further pinched the population.  A grassroots community group has come together to confront these issues – lets help them help themselves.

YOUR DONATION IS TAX-DEDUCTIBLE

If you would prefer to send a check:

Georgia Little Shield, Board Chair

Okiciyap

PO Box 172

225 W. Utah St

Isabel SD57633

So, here’s what YOU have helped Okiciyap do so far:

1. Host a Christmas dinner, where the members provided a healthy dinner and a safe and sober place to gather and open presents they had bought for the children, who otherwise had none. They even bought a Christmas tree with the funds:

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2. Move the trailer 30 miles to Isabel. Here’s moving day:

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3. And JUST YESTERDAY, the community CAME TOGETHER to help get the building into place. While they had to pay a professional plumber to install new pipes and hook them to the sewer line and an electrician to install electric boxes and get it going, the community came out to build the stairs and install new doors. So, this isn’t just a group of determined women, they have gotten the community involved. SUCCESS!!!

Group of volunteers

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The stairs

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Electric box

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Supplies for outside work

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Volunteer Ted installing the door

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Missing toilet in the bathroom

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Lights are on!

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Kitchen Faucet installed

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Look at all the room in there:

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These kids thank you

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P.S. Georgia is working through  severe, and chronic, back pain right now, exacerbated by abhorrent IHS health care. I figure if she can do all that in such pain, I can write this little diary and help this project succeed.

Georgia at Netroots Nation Austin

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North Dakota U Dumps Fighting Sioux Mascot. Can We Finally Get Rid of ‘Prairie N****r,’ Too?

( – promoted by navajo)

What does the epithet “Prairie Nigger” have to do with the controversy around the University of North Dakota’s mascot, the “Fighting Sioux?”

It’s simple.

Racism.

Simply racism.

Follow me from a 2009 Tribal Council Meeting on the Standing Rock Reservation where students testified about why they had dropped out of the University of North Dakota to recent news that the North Dakota legislature has effectively repealed a law it passed earlier this year that mandated that the UND keep the Fighting Sioux Mascot, bucking a 30+ year trend to to get rid of these disrespectful signs of school spirit. So now the mascot and team name is “in transition” (to avoid further NCAA sanctions).

How long did this thing going take to play out?

Decades. Decades during which American Indian students on campus were the subject of racist attacks while the university simultaneously built up its American Indian Studies program.

And to add intrigue to this story, there was a nefarious, Nazi-obsessed, big capitalist donor (read, casino owner) behind this controversy at its height.

And P.S. No, I’m not exaggerating about the Nazi obsession. This actually supports research suggesting that once you stereotype one group you’re more likely to stereotype other groups. So, the mascots actually increase stereotyping in general.

There is a long history of sports teams using American Indian mascots in this country, and another long history of activists convincing schools to stop this disrespectful practice. There is a good timeline”here of efforts to get rid of Indian mascots since 1968.

Here is a good summary of the issue. It is from an academic article that talks about “the activists” but then goes on to show the the historical and psychological accuracy of the arguments below:

Anti-mascot activists articulate many different arguments against the mascots. First, they assert that the mascots stereotype Native Americans as only existing in the past, having a single culture, and being aggressive fighters. Second, they hold that these stereotypes influence the way people perceive and treat Native Americans. Such imagery is seen as affecting Native American images of themselves, creating a hostile climate for many Native Americans, and preventing people from understanding current Native American realities, which affects public policy relative to Native Americans. Third, the activists state that no racial cultural group should be mimicked (especially in regard to sacred items/practices), even if such mimicking is “culturally accurate.” And fourth, they argue that Native Americans should have control over how they are represented (Davis, 1993,2002; King & Springwood, 2001a, 2001b; Pewewardy, 1991; Spindel, 2000; Staurowsky, 2000).

<"Sports

I have posted the references from the article at the end of the diary for your further research. Research does NOT support claims that these mascots are harmless, or respectful, or anything but hegemonic discourse that makes stereotyping seem natural.

Taunts and Eggs on the UND Campus

I went out to the Standing Rock Reservation in 2009 and ended up sitting in on a Tribal Council meeting. The Tribal Chairman at the time, Ron His Horse is Thunder, was ardently against continuing the use of the Mascot, as were most of the Tribal Council members. The Tribal Council had voted to continue objecting to the use of the mascot in 2007. In 2009 it was voting on whether to hold a reservation-wide vote.

As I was watching the normal business of the Tribe being discussed, a line of former UND students began emotional testimony about why they had dropped out of school. They all dejectedly described how they had been harassed on campus by white students, had eggs thrown at them, and sometimes had been physically attacked. They all had also been called “prairie nigger” on several occasions.


Prairie nigger?
I really thought I hadn’t heard that correctly. What must it feel like to be called that while you’re trying to get yourself an education to improve your lot in life????? It was jaw dropping.

What the HELL was THAT all about?

Racism. Racism inflamed by money. More specifically, big donor Ralph Englestad’s threat to withdraw $100 million in funding for a new stadium, which he had engraved with hundreds of Fighting Sioux mascots.

Although there had been tensions on campus around the issue for a couple of decades, they became inflamed at the turn of the 21st Century, and the NCAA finally stepped in in 2005:

The NCAA instituted its policy in 2005, initially listing 18 schools whose nicknames and/or mascots were “hostile or abusive” toward native Americans. Schools that continued to use the nicknames, or hostile or abusive images, would not be able to host NCAA postseason events or use the images at an NCAA postseason event.

North Dakota is the only school from that initial list that has not already changed its nickname, mascot and/or logo.

The university had agreed to retire its nickname and logo in mid-August, but the Legislature pre-empted those plans by approving a bill in March that requires UND to keep them.

Nickname supporters flooded lawmakers with emails at the time, and Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed the measure only a few hours after he received it.

That legislation is what has just been repealed.

A little more on what happened after the initial 2005 NCAA action.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent Sports Illustrated article:

…UND filed a lawsuit challenging how the association had reached its decision. In an October 2007 settlement, the university agreed to retire its nickname and logo if it could not get approval from North Dakota’s two largest Sioux tribes, the Standing Rock Sioux and the Spirit Lake Sioux, for their continued use.

The Spirit Lake Sioux tribe endorsed the nickname in a subsequent referendum, but the Standing Rock Sioux tribal council declined to support it or call a reservation referendum on the question.

Robert Kelley, UND’s president, said he had spent about half his time as president on the nickname and logo issue since taking the job in 2008. In the last year, the issue has demanded almost three-quarters of his time, Kelley said.

Repealing the law would “support our student athletes by removing sanctions (and) other restrictions that complicate the future of UND athletics,” Kelley said.

The 2009 vote on Standing Rock came out of the 2007 suit. How could it vote in favor of it after that testimony? Too many white students were acting out the disrespect and racism embodied in the use of the Fighting Sioux mascot.

But lets go back a bit farther to who the hell this donor was (he died in 2002).

A Nazi-obsessed Donor

From a 2001 Salon.com article:

Enter Mephisto, dasher boards left. Ralph Engelstad is a Las Vegas casino owner and a major donor to the University of North Dakota, where he was a goalie in the late ’40s. He’s also a guy who’s been fined $1.5 million by the Nevada Gaming Control Board for damaging the reputation of the state by holding, in two separate years, private Hitler’s Birthday parties at his casino, complete with a swastika cake, German food and marching music, bartenders wearing T-shirts with the words “Adolph Hitler European Tour 1939-45,” and a life-size portrait of Hitler inscribed “To Ralphie from Adolph, 1939.” He says he despises Hitler, and that the parties were merely “spoofs” meant to celebrate new purchases for his collection of Nazi memorabilia.

Yeah, right….

Here’s an excerpt of a letter he wrote to UND in 2000, yes almost 12 years ago, about the mascot issue:

If the logo and slogan are not approved by the above-mentioned date, I will then write a letter on December 30, 2000, to all contractors and to everybody associated with the arena, canceling their construction contracts for the completion of the arena. I am a man of my word, and I will see to it that a settlement is made with all subcontractors, with anyone who has purchased prepaid advertising. I will refund money to all ticket holders and abandon the project. It would then be left up to you if you want to complete it, with money from wherever you may be able to find it.

I have spent, as of this time, in excess of $35 million, which I will consider a bad investment, but I will take my lumps and walk away.

As I am sure you realize, the commitment I made to the university of North Dakota was, I believe, one of the 10 largest ever made to a school of higher education, but if it is not completed, I am sure it will be the number one building never brought to completion at a school of higher education, due to your changing the logo and the slogan.

You need to think how changing this logo and slogan will affect not just the few that are urging the name change, but also how it will affect the university as a while, the students, the city of Grand forks, and the state of North Dakota.

If I walk away and abandon the project, please be advised that we will shut off all temporary heat going to this building, and I am sure that nature, through its cold weather, will completely destroy any portion of the building through frost that you might be able to salvage. I surely hoped that it would never come to this, but I guess it has.

It is a good thing that you are an educator because you are a man of indecision, and, and if you were a businessman, you would not succeed, you would be broke immediately.

Please do not consider this letter a threat in any manner, as it is not intended to be. It is only notification to you of exactly what I am going to do if you change this logo and this slogan.

In the event it is necessary to cancel the completion of the arena, I will then send notification to anyone who is interested, informing them of the same, and laying out to them all of the facts and all of the figures from all of the meetings that led me to make this decision.

Your lack of making a decision has hung over our heads too long, and we can’t go on with it any further.

It is your choice if you want to put hundreds of construction workers out of a job, and deprive the local businesses of Grand forks of the income they are receiving f4rom the construction of the arena.

Always sticking to the economic blackmail, as is typical of the right.

By now it should be clear that the Fighting Sioux mascot was directly related to harassment of American Indian students at the University of North Dakota, and that the racism that it promotes was directly related to the frequency of the “prairie nigger” epithet. The example I cited from the testimony wasn’t the only instance of this kind of racial harassment. Similar incidents, including hateful emails, are documented in articles describing tensions in the early 2000s.

So, if you look at the UND website, you’ll see an overlay about the transition, which seems to have taken place immediately after the Nov 10 vote by the North Dakota legislature.

Can we now work on retiring the epithet “prairie nigger” too? I’m not naive enough to believe that nobody will hear that again, but with this mascot issue gone, I’m hoping that there will at least be LESS harassment of American Indian students.

Here are the references from that article:

REFERENCES

American Indian opinion leaders: American Indian mascots. (2001, August 7). Indian Country Today Retrieved May 22, 2002 from http://web.archive.org/web/20040301122612/http://www.indiancountry.com/?43

Berkhofer, R. F. (1978). The White man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to present. New York: Vintage/Random Rouse.

Bird, S. E. (Ed.). (1996). Dressing in feathers: The construction of the Indian in American popular culture. Boulder, CO: Westview.

Brown et al V. Board of Education of Topeka et al. (1954) 347 U.S. 483.

Clark, D. A. (2002). Someone inside me, there is a memory of my grandfathers:Mis-educated representations of “Indians, those symbolic insiders.” Unpublished manuscript.

Coombe, R.J. (1998). Embodied trademarks: Mimesis and alterity on American commercial frontiers. Cultural Anthropology, 11(2), 202-224.

Davis, L. R. (1993). Protest against the use of Native American mascots: A challenge to traditional American identity. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 17(1), 9-22.

Davis, t. R. (2002, Summer). The problems with Native American mascots. Multicultural Education, 9(4) 11-14.

Davis, L. R., & Rau, M. (2001). Escaping the tyranny of the majority: A case study of mascot change. In C. R. King & C. fl Springwood (Eds.), Team spirits: The Native American mascot controversy (pp.221-238). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Deloria, P. J. (1998). Playing Indian. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Farnell, B. (in press). The fancy dance of racializing discourse. American Indian Quarterly.

Fenelon, J. V. (1999). Indian icons in the world series of racism: Institutionalization of the racial symbols of wahoos and Indians. Research in Politics and Society (6): 25-45.

Goldberg, B. (2001).Bias:A CBS insider exposes how the media distort the news. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing.

Green, R. (1988). The tribe called wannabee: Playing Indian in America and Europe. Folklore, 99, 30-55.

Greenfeld, L. A.& Smith, S. K. (1999). American Indians and crime. Washington, DC:Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Grounds, R. (2001, June). Tallahassee, Osceola, and the hermenuetics of American place-names. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 69(2), 287-322.

Hooks b. (1992). Black looks: Race and representation. Boston: South End Press.

Jaimes, M. A. (1992). The state of Native America: Genocide, colonization, and resistance. Boston: South End Press.

King, C. R. (2001). Uneasy Indians: Creating and contesting Native American mascots at Marquette University. In C. R. King & C. F. Springwood (Eds.), Team spirits: The Native American mascot controversy (pp. 281-303). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

King, C. H. (2002). Defensive dialogues: Native American mascots, Anti-Indianism, and educational institutions. SIMILE: Studies in Media and information Literacy Education, 2(1). Retrieved from – Dead link > www.utpjournals.com/jour.ihtrnl?lp=simile/issue5/king1.html

King, C. H. (in press). Arguing over images: Native American mascots and race. In H. A. Lind (Ed.), Race /gender~media: Considering diversity across audiences, content, and producers. Boston: ABLongrnan.

King, C. R., & Springwood, C. F. (2000). Fighting spirits: The racial politics of sports mascots. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 24(3): 282-304.

King, C. R., & Springwood, C. F (2001a). Beyond the cheers: Race as spectacle in college sports Albany: State University of New York Press.

King, C. R., & Spriagwood, C. F (Eds.). (2001b). Team spirits: The Native American mascot controversy Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

KoIb, J. J. (2001). Indian mascots: Activists say change needs to begin at home. American Indian Report 11(3): 24-25.

Mihesuah, D. A. (1996). American Indians: Stereotypes and realities. Atlanta, GA:
Clarity Press.

Nagel,J. (1995). American Indian ethnic renewal: Politics and the resurgence of identity. American Sociological Review, 60, 947-965.

Pewewardy, C. D. (1991). Native American mascots and imagery: The struggle of unlearning stereotypes. Journal of Navajo Education, 9(1), 19-23.

Pewewardy, C. D. (2001). Educators and mascots: Challenging contradictions. In C. R. King & C. F Springwood (Eds.), Team spirits: The Native American mascot controversy (pp. 257-278). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Pewewardy, C. D. (2002, May). From subhuman to superhuman: Images of First Nations people in comic books [Electronic version). Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education, 2(2), Retrieved from http://web.archive.org/web/20020909233516/http://www.utpjournals.com/jour.ihtml?lp=simile/issue6/Pewewardyfulltext.html

Rosenstein, J. (1996). In whose honor? American Indian mascots in sports [Film]. (Available from New Day Films, 22-D Hollywood Avenue, Ho-ho-kus, NJ, 07423)

Shively, J. (1992). Cowboys and Indians: Perceptions of western film by American Indians and Anglos. American Sociological Review, 57(6), 725-734.

Sigelman, L. (1998). Hail to the Redskins? Public reactions to a racially insensitive team name. Sociology of Sport Journal, 15(4), 317-325.

Slapin, B., & Seale, D. (1998)-Through Indian eyes: The native experience in books for children. Berkeley, CA: Oyate.

Spindel, C. (2000). Dancing at halftime: Sports and the controversy over American Indian mascots. New York: New York University Press.

Springwood, C. F. (2001). Playing Indian and fighting (for) mascots: Reading the complications of Native American and Euro-American alliances. In C. R. King & C. F. Springwood (Eds.), Team spirits: The Native American mascot controversy (pp. 304-327). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Springwood, C. F. (in press). I’M an Indian too! Claiming Native American identity, crafting authority in mascot debates. American Indian Quarterly.

Stapleton, B. (2001). Redskins: Racial slur or symbol of success? San Jose, CA: Writers Club Press.That

Staurowsky, E. J. (1998). An act of honor or exploitation? The Cleveland Indians’ use of the Louis Francis Sockalexis story. Sociology of Sport Journal, 15(4), 299-316.

Staurowsky, E. J. (2000). The “Cleveland Indians”: A case study of American Indian cultural dispossession. Sociology of Sport Journal, 17(4): 307-330.

Trainor, D. J. (1995). Native American mascots, schools and the Title VI hostile environment analysis. University of Illinois Law Review, 5, 971-997.

Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Volume 26, No.4, November 2002, pp. 381-402

(We help)

( – promoted by navajo)

I don’t know about you, but I had parents who would pull the “starving children in Africa” thing if I was going to leave food on my plate.

Then one day I came up with something that made them quit. I held out my plate full of leftovers and said,

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“well, here, send it to them.”

That shut them both up.  Never again did I hear that stupid expression.

And that brings up Thanksgiving.

Many of us have a lot of leftovers in the fridge. We should be thankful for that.  But  like my parents, you can’t really send your extra food to hungry people.

But you can take out your credit card or checkbook and donate to a food pantry on the Cheyenne River Reservation, where, like on many Indian reservations, hunger is rampant during the winter.

 

The pantry is being run by an organization called Okiciyap (we help) the Isabel community, founded by Georgia Little Shield, the former director of Pretty Bird Woman House. She was the reason that shelter was so successful, but she couldn’t remain in that stressful position due to poor health.

However, just because she had to stop working full time didn’t mean she stopped trying to help her community. Now she and a group of women have formed a 501 c3 (official nonprofit) to run a food pantry and youth programs.

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The winters on many Indian reservations are terrible, not just because of the cold, but because of 80-95% unemployment. Here’s what Georgia has said about the situation:

The families around our reservations are on fixed incomes of 260.00 to 460.00 per month. This is per month. The people on the reservation fight to survive each month and the winters are so brutal that this is when we would need the food pantry more then at any other time of the year.

The food pantry has already started working on an ad hoc basis. Right now they are working out of a trailer lent them by a board member, and have obtained some food donations.  

Recently, a 30×60 building was donated but it is currently 30 miles from Isabel, where the project is located.  They have to bring it back to Isabel, and hook it up to utility services.

Here’s the breakout of what that’s going to cost:

Moving the Building      

Transport 30 miles                            $7000.00

Building forms to set building down       $2500.00

Skirting of building and new ramp         $2500.00

Total                                             $12,000.00  

This will be done by a contractor that knows how to transport the building and is a professional and will set and put the building together when it gets to Isabel. The build of the forms will be done by a cement contractor, Jackson’s cement out of Timer Lake SD. The skirting and ramps will be done by volunteers with the SD specification of disability Ramps.

Utilities:

One year Electricity                           $3000.00

One year water and sewer                   $780.00

One year Propane and Tank set up        $1800.00

Hook up to the to Town sewer and

Water pipes                               $2000.00

Total                                               $7580.00

We are requesting a one year utility for the building and when this year is up we should be able to have funds raised and applied for grants to run the building.  We will need to get hooked into the city sewer and water so we will have this done by the city.

Total amount requested  $19,580.00

Notice how they left out a computer and internet service? I rounded the figure to $20,000.

Here’s the group at work already:

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Here’s their website Okiciyap, where you can go to get more information.

To donate by credit card, just click on this ChipIn:

YOUR DONATION IS TAX-DEDUCTIBLE

If you would prefer to send a check:

Georgia Little Shield, Board Chair

Okiciyap

PO Box 172

225 W. Utah St

Isabel SD57633

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You can also send clothing donations to that address.

They’re starting from scratch from the grassroots. Lets give them a hand.

No dough, but willingness to help? Write some diaries on this with us!

Also, don’t forget that propane fundraiser that Navajo started….if you can do a little of both that would be great, but we are thankful for any help you can give for either one.

Nobody in the richest country in the world should be hungry or cold. These are small projects yes, but the services they provide makes a big difference in the lives of the people receiving them…and that means that even $5 makes a difference.

Here’s information on donating money for propane and/or propane heaters. The easiest way is to pick up the phone and call the company Navajo is working with, but there are other ways too:


Telephone:

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2

11 AM – 6 PM MST EVERY DAY

Ask for Sherry or her mom Patsy. Normally a minimum order is $150, but they have an account to accumulate small donations to a minimum order. Credit Cards welcome and they are the only Native owned fuel company on Rosebud.  Rosebud is next to Pine Ridge Reservation and in the same economically depressed condition.

If you’d like to mail a check: [make check payable to: St. Francis Energy Co.]

Attn: Sherry or Patsy

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

NOT tax deductible

http://sfec.yolasite.com/

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We’re grateful for any assistance you can provide this holiday season, whether writing diaries on this or donating. Thank you to Dr. Erich Bloodaxe for starting this up again at DKos on Thanksgiving.

This is a community of helpers, so let’s help (we help).

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Cold, Hungry and Sick: Winter in Indian Country

( – promoted by navajo)

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I hate the winter. I especially hate the darkness and the cold. Yes, I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. But I also have a warm apartment and a job, even if I am underemployed right now….

But I’m only SAD….add unemployment, terrible housing, hunger pangs and a chronic health condition or two to this cold and darkness, and you have winter misery on many an Indian Reservation in this the richest country in the world.

On the reservations in the Great Plains and many other places in this country, the unemployment rate hits 80 or 90 percent in the winter.  Saying that the housing is God awful is an understatement; homes leak like a sieve and the only thing people have only to try to keep out the cold are sheets of plastic. The unemployed and the elderly in particular don’t have enough money to heat their homes in the winter. That’s why navajo began the propane drive last year.

So, people are freezing cold in the winter, but they’re also hungry, and tend to have  health problems that aren’t helped any by the hunger and cold.

More below the orange squiggle…and action you can take if this travesty infuriates you as much as it does me.  At the end of the day, this is an action diary.

While I was writing this I started to think about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and whether it’s really aware of the plight of the people at the bottom 1% of the 99%. So then a post came through on my Facebook friend’s page written by Deborah White Plume about this very issue. She’s giving permission to use it, and someone is promising to read it the Occupy Cincinatti General Assembly meeting.

We have a long way to go to reclaim justice for everyone in this country:

I will believe the occupiers everywhere in their statements that they want their American Constitution upheld when they begin to speak the message that their Constitution, Article 6, includes Treaties are the Supreme Law and start to press their American Government and American People to honor the Ft Laramie Treaty with our Lakota Nation, Cheyenne Nation and other Nations that signed it.

The occupiers everywhere when they start to do this, then they are walking their talk. Until then, it is empty words as far as I am concerned and by their silence on this situation they are participating in the oppression of our people and their silence contributes to the genocide of my nation.

We are the poorest of the poor, our death rate is the highest, our suicide rate is the highest, our unemployment has been at 85% for the past five decades, we die young from curable illnesses, our water is contaminated, and American people send their $$ to other countries.

We are the Third World right here in the USA, created by the American Government and the continued Silence of the American People. We do not want your old used clothes. We want your ACTIVE, LOUD support for the enforcement of our Ft Laramie Treaty. -Debra White Plume

Cold

See navajo’s most recent diary with pictures of the people helped by the propane fundraiser last year, as well as info if you want to buy some more this year.

For more information on the “cold” issue, see her other diaries too:

Here we go again: Blizzard hits Dakotas

Band-Aid for the Lakotas

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

You will be really well-informed just by reading those diaries…

Hungry

Many people reading this will have experienced hunger in their lifetimes, which may surprise you considering the demographics of this site. I know this because it comes up in the comments….

Researchers talk about hunger in terms of food insecurity. So, what is food insecurity?

Basically, food insecurity is not having enough food to meet basic needs. As you can imagine, food insecurity in general has been increasing across the U.S.

In 2009 to 2010, nationwide 20% of families with children had food hardship issues.

The Native American population is more likely to have food insecurity issues than the rest of the population. And households without children within that population tend to be even more food insecure. And it’s worse for people living in non-metropolitan areas. In the 1990s the rates were around 25%. I haven’t found more recent data but if you think about how it’s grown in the general population during that period, you will dread thinking about how food insecurity has grown in among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

And yet…

According to the Office of Minority Heath in HHS:

   

American Indian/Alaska Native women are 40% more likely than White women to be obese.

American Indian/Alaskan Natives are 1.6 times as likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic whites.

American Indian or Alaska Native adults (30.4%) were as likely as Black adults (30.8%) and less likely than White adults (40.9%) and Asian adults (62.8%) to be a healthy weight.

American Indian or Alaska Native women (29.4%) were less likely than Black women (36.6%) and more likely than White women (20.3%) and Asian women (5.8%) to be obese.

Actually, researchers have found a relationship between obesity/overweight and food insecurity.

It’s two sides of the same coin. You can imagine some of the reasons: poor people have access to less healthy food, whose concentrated fat and sugar are satiating but high in calories and low in nutritional value, there is often no or little fresh food available (this phenomenon is called a food desert, and it exists in many parts of the country), and where it is available, it’s more expensive.

I don’t know if you saw the 20/20 special Children of the Plains, but I notice the kid’s splotchy skin right away. That’s from poor nutrition.

Additionally, people who have to subsist eating lots of government commodities aren’t helped any in this regard, especially if they’re diabetic. Here’s the list of things provided under the government food program.

Sick: Health Disparities

Health disparities are serious differences in health access and outcomes experienced by racial, ethnic and sexual minorities.

For a good discussion and case studies on this issue and the relationship between  structural violence and poor health outcomes, see Dr. Paul Farmer’s book Pathologies of Power.

This is the health situation of the American Indian and Alaska Native population (IHS data)

American Indians and Alaska Natives die at higher rates than other Americans from tuberculosis (500% higher), alcoholism (514% higher), diabetes (177% higher), unintentional injuries (140% higher), homicide (92% higher) and suicide (82% higher). (Rates adjusted for misreporting of Indian race on state death certificates; 2004-2006 rates.)

The leading causes of death:  

Diseases of the heart, malignant neoplasm, unintentional injuries, diabetes mellitus, and cerebrovascular disease are the five leading causes of American Indian and Alaska Native deaths (2004-2006).

Dr David Jones cautions people to remember this when thinking about the reasons for health disparities among Native Americans:

The existence of disparities regardless of the underlying disease environment is actually a powerful argument against the belief that disparities reflect inherent susceptibilities of American Indian populations. Instead, the disparities in health status could arise from the disparities in wealth and power that have endured since colonization.  Such awareness must guide ongoing research and interventions if the disparities in health status between American Indians and the general population are ever to be eradicated.

Indirectly, he’s talking about structural violence.

Youth Suicide

One of the things that hunger, cold, and poverty can breed is hopelessness among the youth, especially those from families dealing with alcoholism, domestic violence and other problems. This has lead to astronomical suicide rates among the youth on many reservations.

1999-2007, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) adolescents and young adults had the highest unadjusted death rate per 100,000 population among other age groups and races/ethnicities.

American Indian/Alaska Native youths had substantially greater rates of suicide than young persons of other races.

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If you go to minute 39 in this hour long documentary, The Canary Effect you will find a good description of the causes of this. It’s a very well done film and worth the hour to see it (this is the full video). It also mentions a suicide pact among 10 youths on the Cheyenne River Reservation (minute 44)

HOPE

OK, there’s more than enough despair to go around. But there IS hope too, and it’s coming from people on the reservations.

You might now be either numb, outraged, a combination of the two, and wondering what you can do to help.  

We’ve been doing a few things around here…first, under navajo’s  incredible leadership, making these issues visible. You can support Native American Netroots by visiting the site, and commenting on the diaries.

You may be also familiar with the project that Kossacks made possible, Pretty Bird Woman House, which is the only women’s shelter on the Standing Rock Reservation. It’s still functioning, but without the shelter director, Georgia Little Shield, whose determination was so instrumental in getting us motivated to raise enough money for a house. If Georgia puts her mind to something, it happens.

Georgia resigned for health reasons, but now she’s doing better, and has become the Board president of a new grassroots organization called Okiciyap (we help) the Isabel Community, which just received its tax status as a 501 (c) 3 organization. They have started a food pantry  and want to  (start youth development programs, including a GED program and counseling. You see, Isabel is 30 miles from Eagle Butte and often the youth can’t get there for schooling or other needs.

I would like to make this and the propane drive our seasonal action this year.

Right now they are working out of a trailer lent them by a board member, but a 30×60 building has been donated but they have to bring it back to Isabel. Here’s the breakout of what that’s going to cost:

Moving the Building      

Transport 30 miles                            $7000.00

Building forms to set building down       $2500.00

Skirting of building and new ramp         $2500.00

Total                                             $12,000.00  

This will be done by a contractor that knows how to transport the building and is a professional and will set and put the building together when it gets to Isabel. The Build of the forms will be done by a cement contractor Jackson’s cement out of Timer Lake SD. The skirting and Ramps will be done by volunteers with the SD specification of disability Ramps.

One year Electricity                           $3000.00

One year water and sewer                   $780.00

One year Propane and Tank set up        $1800.00

Hook up to the to Town sewer and

Water pipes                               $2000.00

Total                                               $7580.00

We are requesting a one year utility for the building and when this year is up we should be able to have fund raised and applied for grants to run the building.  We will need to get hooked into the city sewer and water so we will have this done by the city.

Total amount requested      $19,580.00

Notice how they left out a computer and internet service? I rounded the figure to $20,000

While we raise this money don’t think they’re just sitting around. This is a serious grassroots organization:

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I have started a website Okiciyap, where you can go to get more information.

Here are their goals:

   

To provide educational, recreational, cultural, health and lifelong learning opportunities for youth and adults.

To offer educational advancement opportunities for adults and seniors.

To ensure that no one in Isabel or in surrounding areas goes hungry

If you would prefer to send a check:

Georgia Little Chair, Board Chair

Okiciyap

PO Box 172

225 W. Utah St

Isabel SD57633

They’re starting from scratch from the grassroots. Lets give them a hand.

No dough, but willingness to help? Write some diaries on this with us!

Pretty Bird Woman House – first and last call

( – promoted by navajo)

This the annual fundraising diary for the Pretty Bird Woman House, a women’s shelter on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which the Daily Kos community has supported since 2007, when we came together and not only prevented the shelter from going under, but bought it an entire house. It was an incredible thing to see this community do. This is a good time to remember that, to remind ourselves of what we can accomplish when we unite instead of fight.

Christmas TiPi Pictures, Images and Photos

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the history of our involvement with the shelter, I will direct you to a post that Andy T wrote on the Pretty Bird Woman House blog, which pretty much summed up our efforts then.

the shelter, which includes a general (tax deductible) fund for the shelter, and a separate one for gift cards for the staff (not deductible).

This year, for reasons I will tell you about in the update below, I’m just doing a ChipIn for the staff. General donations (the tax deductible kind) can still be made by check, but not on-line.

I apologize for the lateness of this appeal, but like a lot of folks I’ve had a hard time this year. But there is still time to donate. It takes only a few minutes to donate via ChipIn or write a check. This year you might also want to add a couple of kids to your Christmas list. More on that below.

Shelter News

This has been a big year for the shelter, in good and bad ways.

First the good. The tribe has given the shelter a $250,000 grant to start a sexual assault response team and develop education programs. The shelter then hired 2 new staff for this purpose. They work in the Tribal Council building in Ft. Yates. Can’t get much better cooperation from the top than that! The grant signaled the tribe’s recognition of the shelter as a permanent fixture on the reservation. If you contributed to the fund drive, you can therefore be confident that your one-time donation did some permanent good.

Second, the not-so-good. Georgia Little Shield, the shelter’s director, resigned her position as of December 11 due to health issues that were becoming more and more difficult for her to manage with the kind of stress a women’s shelter director endures. She is probably going to be on Social Security disability and Medicaid.  

Right now, Jackie Brown Otter, whose sister is the shelter’s namesake, is working as the interim director until they get a new one.

A few months before Georgia resigned, a key advocate resigned, and the staff member who did the bookkeeping is also leaving. In this case, the old bookkeeper, who also did advocacy and intake work, will return.

As a result of all of this turnover, as well as my new full-time job as an office supervisor at the Census, which came after a very tumultuous year for me personally, I haven’t been in as much contact with the shelter as I had been in the past, and I haven’t been aggressive about holiday fundraising either. I apologize folks. It has just been a tough year.

So, this year I have posted a ChipIn for the staff gift cards only. I took the other ChipIn down after I realized that not only did the new staff not know what a ChipIn was, but it was not properly set up for a new director.

BUT IT’S NOT TOO LATE! If you want to donate to the shelter’s general fund, you can still send a check.

The address is:

Pretty Bird Woman House

P.O. Box 596

McLaughlin, SD 57642

You can also send clothing and other donations to that address using the USPS. To use other delivery services use this address:

211 First Ave W. McLaughlin, SD 57642.

There are four shelter staff aside from Jackie, and two volunteers. That is six people. Plus Jackie that’s seven. Plus Georgia, eight. I did a poll in this diary the first 2 days I posted it, and opinion was nearly unanimous that we should just divide what’s collected among them all. So that’s what will happen with your donation.

Georgia’s not-so-merry Christmas

Even with her terrible back pain, Georgia is now regretting not waiting a couple of more weeks to resign because with her husband being unemployed, there is now no money for Christmas presents for the children she is fostering – two grandchildren and two step nieces, all girls except for the two year old, ranging in age from 2 to 17.

So, if you are so inclined, you could do some last minute Christmas shopping for the kids. I will send her a gift card in any case. I asked Georgia what kinds of things the kids like. She sent me the following email:


Oh The 6 year old any thing tinker bell, the 9 year old any thing Hanna Montana, the 2 year old boy Cars or riding toys he has none. The 17 year old any make up such eye make up eye shadows (brown and Plum) and mascara black eye liner black. Really poor on make up she is.

The Tribe where i live lost there low energy money so those of us who did get that last year will not be getting help with propane, Man if its not one thing its another. I want to just scream.

As you can see, Christmas is not Georgia’s only problem. If you’d like to do some last minute shopping for her kids you can send the gifts to:

Georgia Little Shield P.O. Box 292 Isabel SD 57633.

(the post box number means you have to use the USPS, so I would recommend the flat rate Priority Mail boxes given the late date).

I will have the gift card ChipIn up until COB Tuesday to give anyone who still wants to donate one more chance, and then I’ll get the gift cards after work and send them off Express Mail.

Remember, if you want a tax-deductible donation, you can also send a check to the shelter.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Impressions of the Standing Rock Reservation – Photo Edition

( – promoted by navajo)

Cross-posted on the Daily Kos

For those of you who haven’t followed the Pretty Bird Woman House diaries, to make a long story perhaps too short, last fall I became the shelter’s fundraiser. Last winter, due to the generosity of the Netroots, the shelter bought a 3 bedroom house in McLaughlin SD, and it now a fully-functioning, 3 bedroom women’s shelter.

Georgia Little Shield, the shelter’s director, invited me out to Standing Rock to observe some domestic violence prevention workshops they were doing in the communities with Cecilia Fire Thunder and Carmen O’Leary, two famous activists. Unfortunately, due to some snow and severe cold the workshop was postponed until after I left. So, I had to stay indoors for the first few days and then I got to know the eastern part of the reservation for the rest of the time.

Below the fold you’ll find lots of photos of Standing Rock and some of my impressions. I will follow with another diary strictly about the shelter.

You’ll see that this has taken me a while to write this. I came down with the flu after I got back, and also had some more thinking to do about what I saw.  

Before continuing, I want to add that I had the privilege of accompanying two wonderful French journalists, Anne Senges and Stephane Gladieu who are doing a story on the shelter and Standing Rock for Marie Claire magazine (they found out about the story on DKos!) and Getty images, which will have the story in English along with the photos for editors.

Because they were so taken with the problems on Standing Rock, they will provide us with the entire article and photos to use as a fundraising tool. So, in about March I’ll be doing a diary that’s a reprint of that article, or they will post it directly here. They got some amazing individual stories, and the photographer is one of most well known in France, so I am excited about that.

First, lets take a look at Standing Rock in the winter. I arrived to blowing snow and below zero temps at night. Georgia Little Shield was supposed to pick me up in Rapid City, but sent Tannekkia Williams instead because of a death in the family. Going into Rapid City was bad advice – I would never have suspected that anyone would think nothing of driving 5 hours to pick someone up at the airport (Bismark ND would have been closer to Standing Rock, but Georgia lives on the Cheyenne River Reservation, which is on the southern boarder).

Though Tannekkia, who is a shelter volunteer and board member, grew up in Minneapolis but she married an enrolled member of Standing Rock (and then become a domestic violence victim), and is quite assimilated into the Lakota culture. If you went to the Pretty Bird Woman House panel at the Netroots Nation, you might remember her. She is a very articulate spokesperson for the shelter and anti-domestic violence efforts on Standing Rock.

Tannekkia greeted me with the joyful announcement that she had seen 30 spotted eagles on her trip down, and one even smashed into the side of her car. She considered this a very good omen.  

After we had dinner in Rapid City, Tanekkia took me to nearby Bear Butte, one of the two major Lakota sacred sites in the region (the other being Devilstower), even though it was dark and wet snow was falling. After a drive up a very long hill and a very short hike we reached a clearing near the summit. Despite the weather and the darkness, the area felt incredibly peaceful, and pretty soon the clouds parted to reveal a nearly-full moon, which lit up our surroundings for a few minutes.  The clearing also contained a skeleton of a sweat lodge, next to a large a pile of stones used to heat it. Tannekkia explained that elder men used that lodge when they went up there. She also pointed out tobacco prayer flags along the way, and offered some of her own to a big boulder from a little pouch she had with her. We both left feeling peaceful and refreshed.

Well, during the now six-hour trip back to Standing Rock in the blowing snow, we found out that the workshops for the whole week had been postponed, which also meant that Georgia would be holed up in her trailer on the Cheyenne River Reservation for much of the week as well. The Tribal Offices also shut down for most of the week. Such is winter in the Dakotas.  

Not to worry, there was always the incredible scenery.  

A typical view driving around Standing Rock in the winter.

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Standing Rock house

Little House on the Prairie!

Little House on the Prairir

buffalo on the STanding Rock jan 09

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buffalo cropped

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Frozen Missouri River from Mobridge SD. In Lakota it’s Lake Oahe. This part of the river was originally a stream but was flooded for a damn, which drove dozens of families from their homes and killed a lot of trees, from what I could see of the stumps farther up river. The Tribe receives monies each year in supposed reparations for this. This year they decided to use some of those funds for a sexual assault response team, which will probably transform Tannekkia from a volunteer into a full time staff member with an office in the Tribal Council building. On the hill you can also see the smaller casino on the Reservation.

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Sitting Bull Monument

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Tannekkia in an impromptu shoot

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Big sky at dusk

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Prairie Pastels

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Looking at the Sakagawea monument at sunset

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A prairie dog village in winter

General Information from the Standing Rock website

Standing Rock Reservation Eight DistrictsDistrict Population

1. Fort Yates, North Dakota 1,961 5. Little Eagle, South Dakota 695

2. Porcupine, North Dakota 219 6. Mclaughlin (Bear Soldier), SD 758

3. Kenel, South Dakota 259 7. Bullhead (Rock Creek), SD 692

4. Wakpala, South Dakota 707 8. Cannon Ball, North Dakota 847

Tribal/Agency Headquarters: Fort Yates, North Dakota

Counties: Sioux County, North Dakota; Corson, Dewey and Ziebach Counties, South Dakota

Federal Reservation: 1873

Population of enrolled members: 10,859

Reservation Population: 6,171

Density:: 0.4 persons per square mile

Labor Force: 3,761

Unemployment percentage rate: 79

Language: Lakota/Dakota and English

Lakota/Dakota Bands: Hunkpapa, Blackfeet, Yanktonia, Cuthead

Land Status: Acres

Total Area 2,300,000

Tribal Owned 866,072

Tribal Owned Allotted 542,543

Total tribal owned 1,408,061

Non-Indian Owned 1,283,000

Reservoir Taken area 55,993

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Tribal Council Building

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Prairie Knights Casino in Ft. Yates. There is a smaller one near Mobridge.

Housing

One thing we learned during the shelter fundraiser is that there are chronic housing shortages on the reservation. This gave me the impression that all the housing stock would be terrible, but it’s not. There still isn’t enough of it, but at least much of it is not as terrible as I thought it would be. Some of it is bad, but much of it is OK. But since there are shortages often more than one generation must live in a house, and people don’t have a choice of what neighborhood they will live in. It kind of reminded me of the situation in Cuba.

You do see this:

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But it seemed that there was more housing like this:

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Bear Soldier South

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Wakpala

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Wakpala

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Here’s what the Standing Rock website says about the housing situation:

The Standing Rock Housing Authority constructs and manages over 650 homesfor Tribal members living on the reservation. This includes homes on scattered sites built through the HUD Mutual Help home ownership program on individual land or Tribal land leased for homesites. The other housing in the districts is low-income HUD Low Rent for individual Indian residents in reservation communities. As private housing stock is limited, some of the Standing Rock members own their own homes in the rural areas through other private financing. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service have some housing available in McLaughlin and McIntosh for their employees.The Tribe plans to build a number of apartment complexes in the future.

The need for housing is great on Standing Rock. The Tribe is looking into Habitat for Humanity homes and the government Home Grant project The number of persons per household in the Standing Rock Service Area is 4.60 compared to 3.27 for the State of North Dakota and 3.27 for the State of South Dakota. The number of persons per family for U.S. All Races is 3.80.

Social Customs

Sometimes, when you are looking at one thing about a group of people, in this case domestic or other interpersonal violence, it’s easy to lose track of the more basic, and beautiful things about their culture. What I was touched by was the fact that people ascribed great meaning to small gestures or events, such as siting an eagle in the sky, or getting a small gift of tobacco from a visitor.  

I also found people’s appreciation for the earth and its inhabitants profoundly spiritual, no matter what other behaviors they exhibited on top of that.

When we were going around with the journalists, Tannekkia suggested that we take people either a pouch of tobacco or some coffee (Folgers seems to be the only brand around, by the way). So we did, and you could see by people’s faces that this small gesture made a big difference.

For example,as he was setting up a photo shoot at Georgia’s house on the Cheyenne River Reservation, Stephane gave her husband Norman a cigarette, which he thought Norman would smoke. Instead, he put it behind an eagle feather he had propped up inside of a picture in the kitchen so that he could pray on it the next time he was inspired to do so (usually outside in nature).

Here is the cigarette under the eagle feather:

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Two other things common in people’s homes are star quilts and dried prairie turnips.

Here, Rhea sews a star quilt, which she will sell on the Reservation. Some people also sell them on the Internet, at sites like eBay.

Woman sewing star quilt

From what people told me, the turnips are more for decoration, unless you’re really hungry and bother to soak them.

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This is just a taste of what is hidden just below the surface of all the poverty and sickness on Indian reservations.

The Reservation as a Network of Kin and Fictive Kin

Another lovely thing about the Lakota people is their system of fictive kin, as anthropologists would call it. People easily “take” people as adopted brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, etc. You can become someone’s adopted relative by ceremony or just by them saying so. Tannekkia’s father-in-law, for exampl, “took her as his daughter”, so she thought of and referred to him as her father even after her divorce. It did get me a little confused though when people would talk about all these brothers and sisters, sometimes saying “adopted” as a preface and sometimes not. It seemed to me that everyone had adopted kin that they took seriously as such.

I also thought it was lovely that people always used kinship terms when referring to someone they were either close with or respected a lot, perhaps for being an elder. For example, I became auntie to Tannekkia’s kids. However, even with Georgia’s two foster daughters, the youngest one, who was eight, would call her older sister, who was 17, “sister.” Elders are usually called Auntie, Uncle, or Grannie or Grandpa. I really liked that.

Isaac jan09

Tannekkia’s four year old Isaac playing in the back yard.

Tanekkia and Vaughn Edward

Tannekkia and her son Vaughn Edward. Cute kids, eh!

Interpersonal Violence

Yes, this is an endemic problem on all reservations, along with alcoholism, drug abuse, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, etc. Standing Rock was especially bad because it only had 2 officers operating in a place the size of Connecticut. So, people had a lot of impunity, especially if they were near the border town of Mobridge. All you had to was cross the Missouri River, or Lake Oahe, and you were out of the tribe’s jurisdiction.

This was in my face as soon as I got there. Tannekkia and her brother, who live in college housing on the Sitting Bull campus, had been woken up early in the morning a night or two before I arrived by a woman next door who had been battered by her son. She was visiting, and they both started to drink. Well, he ended up punching and kicking her so hard in one of her eyes that it burst. Tannekkia and her brother separtely described the woman as crying, with one eye crying tears and the other one crying blood. That visual was hard to shake. They also told me that it had taken 20 or 30 minutes to convince her to call the police because she was afraid she would get into trouble for being drunk, even though she probably will never see out of that eye again.

The kid finally got arrested two weeks after the incident. The case is being passed up to the federal level (read, FBI) due to the severity of the woman’s injuries.

As if that weren’t enough, the woman in the photo told us a story of how she had been brutally raped and beaten in 1980 – even her pelvis was broken, and she had been dragged around behind a pick up truck. Although she wouldn’t admit it, her current husband was also beating her (he had broken her arm a month or two before, but it had healed before we got there), and they both drank.

Her attacker had gotten 18 years in jail but when he was released, he came to live in her neighborhood, and due to the housing shortage she cannot move away from him or the three pedophiles that live in the neighborhood. She seemed to have PTSD to me, judging by the way she was acting when she was telling this story. I would too, and, I thought, I’d probably drink as well.

The woman’s daughter, she told us, had been a victim of a horrific incident of domestic violence that involved her husband locking her in the basement naked for 2 weeks, and so severely beating her that she suffered brain injuries. After 2 years she still suffers occasional seizures.

And, this is the neighborhood where Jackie Brown Otter lives, remember, with the sister, Ivy (whose Lakota name is Pretty Bird Woman) who was found raped and murdered. Well, there were two more cases of young women being raped, murdered and thrown into the field behind the complex in previous years as well.

And all of this takes place within a social context where people gossip so much about each other that it has destroyed all trust, so it’s very difficult for people to work together to do things like have a healing circle.  

That last element really had me stumped.

In my opinion, having done research on culture and trauma, the community really needs to start paying attention to PTSD much more seriously, since PTSD is also directly related to increased personal violence, depression, and self-medicating behaviors, like drug and alcohol abuse. This is a cycle that began with the boarding schools, and genocide before that, and now it has gone on for generations.

Wellbriety Journey 2009

I like this new movement started by White Bison in Colorado. It’s called the Wellbriety movement, and it uses Native American cultural tools to help people overcome their addictions and other problems. I have an article about it on the Pretty Bird Woman House blog.

This year they are embarking on a cross-country trip called the Wellbriety Journey of Forgiveness. It for one is going to ask President Obama to issue an apology for sending Native Americans to boarding schools. There is precedent for this in Australia and Canada, so it’s not a far-fetched request. However, on the advice of a group of elders, they will be forgiving the U.S. whether or not the government issues an apology. Pretty interesting. It starts to get at the root of some of the cultural trauma that is the original source of the cycle of violence we see on reservations today.

I will not say that I have any kind of in depth knowlege after two weeks on the reservation in the winter, so I’d like to go back in the summer and see what I think then. It’s a very interesting and beautiful place, even though a lot of things about it area also pretty depressing.  

Suppression of Native American Votes

( – promoted by navajo)

Cross posted on the Daily Kos

Some people around here know me as the fundraiser for the Pretty Bird Woman House. Since I became involved with the shelter I’ve become more aware of Native American issues in general.

Suppression of the Native American vote has a long history in this country, along with suppression of every other human right in the book.

So it should be no surprise that today reports are starting to come in through Daily Kos diarists too. Right now, there’s a diary on suppression of Apache votes in Arizona on the rec list, and I noticed a comment complaining about general voter suppression on 2 reservations in South Dakota (which is too general to really verify).

So, what I’d like to do is create a separate space for people to report voter suppression and voting machine problems in Indian Country. I’ll then check back periodically (I’m going to leave shortly to volunteer for Obama) on it today.  

The goal is to be able to report all these irregularities to Native Vote, which organized Native American voter protection efforts in coordination with Election Protection.  At the end of the day we’ll be able to see if there are any patterns if enough people contribut their stories.

Thanks folks.

Remember, there are two major numbers to call in addition to commenting here if you do have problems, or know of people who have.

Just a reminder:

First, 1-866-OUR-VOTE. This year the Election Protection team has lawyers volunteering to work with Native American voters, if you ask for them when you call. This is thanks to Native Vote.

Second, of course, the Obama hotline is incredibly well prepared. Call 1-877-US-4-OBAMA (1-877-874-6226)

THIS article by Georgia10 has all the relevant information too.

NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, DON’T GIVE UP!! INSIST ON YOUR RIGHTS!!

Did you encounter any problems at the polls today?

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Lets Honor Joe Biden’s Family Like this

( – promoted by navajo)

Yesterday, Clammyc’s diary on the Daily Kos If not for Biden, she (and many other women) may be dead, which is about Biden’s authorship of Violence Against Women Act and a wrenching case of domestic violence from the 1970s, gave me an idea.



Since the Violence Against Women Act is what funds women’s shelters, among other things, and since Senator Biden just lost his mother-in-law, Bonny Jean Jacobs, why don’t we purchase a furnace for the Pretty Bird Woman House shelter in her memory?

Considering that Sarah Palin wants Alaskan women to buy their own rape kits and is against abortion even in case of rape or incest, and John McCain’s pathetic record on women’s issues buying Pretty Bird Woman House a new furnace also draws a stark contrast between our values, shared by the Obama/Biden ticket, and the McCain/Palin horror show.  

So what do you say? Are you in for say $5.

So, in gratitude for Biden’s work for women’s causes, lets honor his family and thank him for his authorship of the Violence Against Women Act by buying a furnace for a women’s shelter in Bonny Jean Jacobs’ name.

A furnace is the only big ticket item Pretty Bird Woman House still needs and it will run about $5,000 (we’ve already jumped up to over $700 of that) – the  board didn’t notice that the furnace was in poor condition when it purchased the house. Since winters in South Dakota can get to 20 below, pretty soon they’re going to really notice how poorly the furnace is working.

So, what do you say? Can you ChipIn something in the Biden family’s name? Even $5 is great, since we have so many people in this community.

I’ll have the shelter send an acknowledgement to Senator Biden when it’s all over.  

Pretty Bird Woman House Needs a Coat of Paint +

( – promoted by navajo)

This diary is an update on the Pretty Bird Woman House and a request for a few small donations. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this project, it’s a women’s shelter on the South Dakota side of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that the netroots came together to help in its time of need.  

Anyway, the shelter has been operating for about a month, and wonderful things have been happening since they closed on the house in February.

One exciting development has been that many members of the McLaughlin community have gone from being suspicious to being supporters. That’s one reason we’re raising money right now: a youth group from a local church as volunteered to paint the house.

More below the fold.

The Pretty Bird Woman House is Up and Running!

As I said above, the shelter officially opened for business about a month ago.

Despite the fact that they haven’t been able to get the fence up due to an incredible amount of inclement weather, it has been full.  Until the fence is installed (which it should be by the end of the month) the staff are taking women who feel that their spouses might stalk them to another one farther away. The security system was installed a while ago, so the women who do stay at the house are safe anyway. The local police department has also been increasing its patrols around the house.

In April, Pretty Bird Woman House also co-sponsored a domestic violence workshop for all residents of the reservation, which was the first time something like that has happened there.

In addition to being extremely successful as a conference, afterward two  elder women approached Georgia with the idea of doing talks at local schools on what love really is and developing self-respect, so the girls especially don’t think they have to put up with any kind of abuse. This group is still in the planning stages, but I thought it was a wonderful indication of the ripple effect that the shelter can have on the reservation.

A couple of weeks ago, a youth group from local church approached Georgia with an offer of volunteer time this summer. As you will see from the photos below, since the house is sorely in need of a coat of paint, she asked them to paint it.

Even Georgia was was surprised at how badly the paint is peeling when she took a closer look at it.

peeling paint

Photobucket



The youth group will be painting the house July 8th – 11th.

Since this church doesn’t have affluent members, and therefore can’t send housepaint along with their kids, I have started a fundraiser for the paint and painting supplies.

So far we have $175.01. To buy about 20 gallons of paint and brushes, scrapers, etc., I figure we’ll need about $800 more. That’s only 80 people giving $10 each, or 40 giving $20 each. I know people have been stretched thin by donating to the campaigns and $4 a gallon gas, but this is really just the price of a bottle of wine. So how about it?

You can donateat the ChipIn page here,or by clicking the ChipIn widget at the Pretty Bird Woman House blog here

A few more words about community support

As some of you might remember, when the Pretty Bird Woman House board was in the process of buying the house, the City of McLaughlin, which is a non-Indian town in the middle of the Reservation, passed an ordinance mandating that all non-profits that were sheltering people get a permit first. This was in response to problems with a homeless shelter, but it also affected the PBWH. The first Town Council meeting was tense, and comments by a few Council members seemed to have racial overtones. We were worried. I diaried that here.

However, afterward the Mayor and Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) came out publicly in support of the shelter. By the next meeting, the Council made a 360 degree turnaround, and unanimously approved the permit for the shelter.

All of that made me wonder how the community would respond afterward.

When Georgia told me what has been going on, I felt as if she were telling me about some Disney movie.

The first time they needed their lawn cut, a woman from the Lutheran church, which had been the owner of the house, came over and mowed it herself.

The next time it needed to be cut, the MAYOR himself showed up on his riding mower. Heh heh, when’s the last time your mayor cut YOUR lawn?

And, then we had the youth group volunteering to help as well.

So, let’s buy some house paint!

Go here.

Since more than 1,000 people donated to the first fundraiser, I figure this one should be a cinch.

Another subject: anybody have any advice?

Since I started this project, everything I see turns out to be an illustration of a larger problem.

Georgia is having such severe back pain now that a doctor at a private clinic suggested she go on disability. Why? The Indian Health Service is refusing to approve a CAT scan or any other diagnostic test so the doctors can tell exactly what is wrong with her. Is it a disc issue, or arthritis, or something worse? If we leave it up to the IHS, she’ll never find out.

Because the IHS has refused to either permit her to be properly diagnosed or send her to a chiropractor, or give her the proper amount of pain medication Georgia finally went to a private clinic, where at least they would give her an x-ray (don’t know the results).

Just as bad, the IHS will only give her a prescription for a few pain killers at a time. That means that she has to drive 2 hours to the IHS office, or put up with more pain. If she doesn’t get proper medical attention soon, she might not be able to walk, in which case she might have go on disability anyway. Since Georgia lives for her job, that would be terrible on a number of levels.

I know some of you will have some expert opinions I can pass on to her.

I wanted to say “another WTF moment brought to you by George Bush,” but it’s just typical IHS behavior.

So the larger issue is the IHS’s terrible medical care. We can see how local doctors recognize that Medicaid and Medicare both provide better service. How can we let this go on?

I advised Georgia to call Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin’s office to see if one of the LAs there can help. The Congresswoman has been so supportive of the shelter, even buying it a washer and dryer, that I’m sure they’ll  help.

Can anyone else think of something else Georgia could do to get proper medical care?

What she had wanted to do was get Aflac or some other type of supplementary health insurance for the entire shelter staff just for these types of things, but their federal grant doesn’t cover that cost. She’s going to apply for a foundation grant for that, but that’s a crap shoot sometimes.

So, if anyone has any ideas, let me know, and I’ll pass them on to Georgia.

Again, thanks so much for all your support. Now I wish we could also help Georgia get some decent medical care.

And, don’t forget. The shelter needs a new coat of paint. No contribution is too small not to be greatly appreciated. You can contribute here.

If you like to shop, think shampoo and diapers!

Obama Promises Native Policy Advisor

( – promoted by SarahLee)

With 4.5 million Native Americans in the U.S., both Clinton and Obama need the Native American vote in some key states, and are therefore courting votes.

A while back, I diaried their policy proposals. Both were good, but I found Obama’s more comprehensive.

Now, Obama has come out with a proposal that puts him ahead of Clinton as far as I’m concerned. Yet one more reason I support him.

Obama will have an American Indian Policy Advisor on his senior White House staff. This guarantees a voice for Native Americans within the White House.

The Rapid City Journal reported on this today

“That is huge,” Keith Harper, a Native-law attorney in Washington, D.C., said.  “We’ve never even really had anybody in the door of the White House. They’ve been in the old executive office building in some back corner. And in this administration, they haven’t even been around at all.”

Obama’s chief of staff, Pete Rouse, seems on top of the issues:

Rouse said health care, education and economic development ranked at the top of Obama’s concerns for Natives. Obama co-sponsored the reauthorization of the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act, a federal law that hadn’t been updated for about 15 years.

“We have an obligation, a responsibility to provide full Indian health care, and in my memory, we’ve never done it,” Rouse said Thursday. “Nobody was out there advocating to do it at the highest levels of the administration. Right now, Indian policy concerns don’t have a fighting chance because they don’t have the visibility or the clout behind them.”

Obama addresses twice as many specific tribal concerns in his platform as Clinton’s agenda, Rouse said.

“Obama’s feelings on this is, we’re sort of running an insurgent campaign,” Rouse said. “He’s running from outside of Washington, a ‘change campaign.’ And from the beginning, he’s set out to include Native Americans in this coalition for change.”

I personally like this philosophy as well:

“One of the big issues here is to empower tribes to solve their own problems … in a way they want to solve them. Washington can’t say, ‘Here’s a bunch of money,'” Rouse said. “‘This is how you got do it.'” In order to do that, you need that dialogue with someone who is in the White House who has the sensitivity to Indian Country and tribal perspectives, and who also has the ear of the president.”

To me, Obama’s support is clearly sincere and I feel trustworthy.

Clinton and Obama on Native American Issues [Updated]

( – promoted by navajo)

Cross-posted from the Daily Kos.

Even though I have a very strong personal opinion based on my position as an anti-war voter, I want to present both Obama’s and Clinton’s policy proposals on Native American issues.  

I believe that Amnesty International did a lot through its report, United States of America: Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect indigenous women from violence, and follow-up work with State and National legislators to give these issues more national attention.

So, whomever you support right now, all of this is great news. Below I have blockquoted each set of proposals from the Clinton and Obama campaigns. They are long, but I wanted to give you the complete statements. I am just providing information here, not cheers or jeers for one or the other!

Update #1: I’ve been informed by an Obama supporter that I’ve left out some info, and am searching right now for more on his website. When I find it, I’ll put the update below the fold.

Update #2Turns out I left out an extremely significant chunk of Obama’s platform on Native American issues. Thanks so much to ivorybill and jennybravo for new links.

I’ll start out with Clinton:

You can find this statement here


As President, Senator Clinton will:

Recognize the Government-to-Government and Trust Relationship: Hillary will sign an Executive Order that supports regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indian tribal governments. She recognizes that the federal trust responsibility is a legal obligation under which the United States “has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust” towards Indian tribes.



Appoint Native Americans
: Hillary will work to appoint Native Americans to key positions in a number of federal departments and agencies. She will work to nominate qualified judges from all backgrounds who understand tribal sovereignty and the government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government. And she will appoint a senior official in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to serve as her liaison to Native American communities in recognition of the government-to-government relationship.

Elevate the Director of the Indian Health Service to the Assistant Secretary Level: Health care is a key priority for American Indian communities. For too long, its importance has been underemphasized in the organizational structure at the Department of Health and Human Services. While other important areas of health policy are spearheaded at the assistant secretary level, the Indian Health Service’s lead officer remains a director. Hillary will elevate the head of the Indian Health Service to Assistant Secretary so that he or she can advocate more effectively for Native American health care needs.

Work to Improve Health Care for Native Americans: The average life expectancy for Native Americans is 71 years of age– nearly five years less than the rest of the population. [iii] Today, American Indians continue to experience troubling rates of diabetes, mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and influenza. Native Americans are 650 percent more likely to die from tuberculosis, 420 percent more likely to die from diabetes and 52 percent more likely to die from pneumonia or influenza than the United States average, including white and minority populations.

In the Senate, Hillary has taken steps to improve the access and quality of health care for Native Americans by co-sponsoring the Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendment of 2007, a comprehensive piece of legislation to improve health care for American Indians throughout the country.

As President, Hillary will support meaningful increases for the vital investments to provide health care to Native American communities. Throughout the country, there is an acute need for access to quality health care for Native Americans – a need that too often goes unmet today. The per capita expenditure for Native Americans is only one-third of the average annual expenditure for Medicaid assistance. In 2003, the federal government spent nearly $6,000 for each Medicare recipient, but only $2,000 for Indian Health Service medical care per person. The Indian Health Service is severely underfunded, and the lack of available facilities forces people in remote locations to travel great distances for routine check ups. [iv] Hillary is committed to meaningful increases to the Indian Health Service budget to provide all Native Americans access to quality, affordable health care.



Stand Up for Native American Veterans
: Native Americans have a long and proud tradition of participating with distinction in the U.S. Armed Services. By the end of the 20th century there were nearly 190,000 Native American Veterans. They have one of the highest per capita service rates among ethnic groups in the United States. [v] By the end of December 2005, the Department of Defense reported that 20,000 Native Americans and Alaskan Natives were serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. As President, Hillary will ensure that all of those who have sacrificed on behalf of our country receive the help and care they need. She has proposed to fully fund our veteran’s health care system, including intensive care for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. She will fight to cut the red tape facing our wounded soldiers and she will protect servicemembers against predatory lending, insurance fraud, and other financial scams. Above all, she will ensure that veteran benefits extend to all veterans.

Increase Funding for Indian Head Start Program: A September 2007 study from National Geographic revealed that tribal languages are the most vulnerable to extinction in the world. Senator Clinton supports Pre-K and schooling programs that support a child’s native language. Consistent with all Head Start programs, the American Indian Head Start Program supports the rich and diverse culture and heritage of the children they serve, and encourages teachers to incorporate language and culture into their curriculum and program goals. More than 80 different languages are spoken in Indian Head Start. Because of the social and economic circumstances in Indian Country, Senator Clinton has and will continue to support increased funding for this vital program which is critical for the future of Native American children.

Achieve Universal Pre-K for Native American Children: Studies show that providing four-year-olds with a high-quality early education leads to higher achievement and graduation rates and higher-earning careers. Nonetheless, less than 20 percent – only 800,000 out of four million – of four year olds and 120,000 three year olds are currently enrolled in state pre-K programs, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. Hillary has proposed a national pre-K initiative that would extend access to high-quality pre-K programs to every four-year old in America. As part of her initiative, Hillary will allocate funds to tribally-sponsored pre-K programs. She will ensure that tribally-sponsored pre-K programs receive federal matching dollars just as state programs do. Her program is designed so that children from low-income families and children from limited English households can enroll in pre-K programs at no cost.

Increase Support for Tribal Colleges and Institutions Serving Native Americans: Since the late 1960s, the nation’s tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) have played a critical role in promoting tribally-determined higher education. Currently, the 34 TCUs in the United States are providing culturally-relevant teaching, community outreach, and research services to tribal communities throughout the country. Hillary supports increased funding for tribal colleges. She voted for the recently signed College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which includes $10 million to help create a program for Native American Serving Institutions.

Improve Native American Housing: Native American families live in overcrowded homes and lack plumbing, telephone service and kitchen facilities at rates far exceeding the general public. Approximately 90,000 Native families are homeless or under-housed, and an estimated 200,000 housing units are needed immediately in Indian Country. Hillary supports efforts to improve the acquisition, rehabilitation, and construction of affordable housing on Indian lands. Specifically, Senator Clinton would increase funding for the Native American Housing Block Grant and modernize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act.

Encourage Energy Efficient Development: Hillary supports the rights of tribal governments to adopt and regulate their own environmental policies, but she also understands the important role the federal government plays in catalyzing energy efficiency in Indian Country. As president, Hillary will create and expand federal-tribal partnerships to promote the use of solar and wind power in Indian Country. And as part of a major nationwide weatherization initiative, Hillary will work to fund the weatherization of all low-income homes in Indian Country. Last winter the average fuel bill was $889; this year it is expected to jump to $997. [vi] The weatherization of Native American homes will curb rising costs and improve energy efficiency.

Law Enforcement for Indian Country: American Indians experience violence at rates more than twice the rate for the country as a whole. [vii] There are only about 2,500 Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal uniformed police officers serving an estimated 1.4 million Indians covering more than 56 million acres of tribal lands in the lower 48 states. On tribal lands, 1.3 officers must serve every 1,000 citizens, compared to 2.9 officers per 1,000 citizens in non-Indian communities with populations under 10,000. [viii] These staffing levels are simply insufficient to meet the law enforcement challenges facing Indian Country. Amnesty International recently released a report that concluded that one in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. And, in recent years methamphetamine has disproportionately devastated Native American tribal communities- Native Americans are more than four times as likely as whites to use crystal methamphetamine. [ix] An informal survey of the seven FBI offices located primarily in Indian Country estimated that approximately 40-50% of violent crime cases investigated in Indian Country involve meth. [x] Hillary supports providing resources for law enforcement in Indian Country, promoting state-tribal cooperative agreements where appropriate to reduce crime, and improving the collection of data on Indian Country crime and how those crimes are handled by authorities.

Here’s Obama’s position from his website, which you can go to here.

LAW ENFORCEMENT & JUSTICE

The most fundamental function of all governments is to ensure the safety of their citizens and maintain law and order. For tribes, this responsibility falls on tribal governments, and in certain respects, the federal government. The federal government has a legal trust responsibility to aid tribal nations in furthering self-government in recognition of tribes’ inherent sovereignty. Unfortunately, the government has failed to live up to its obligation to help tribes maintain order.

Tribes have been divested of much of the authority to control their own lands, and the government has failed to support tribal law enforcement systems. As a result, many tribal communities experience staggering rates of crime, having neither the resources nor the jurisdiction to protect their own communities. Barack is committed to providing tribal nations with adequate funding for law enforcement and judicial systems. He is also committed to addressing core jurisdictional problems so that tribes can provide for the public health, safety, and political integrity of their communities.

Policing: Traditional tribal societies had sophisticated methods of maintaining law and order. Unfortunately, centuries of destructive federal policies have left tribes with few resources to provide basic law enforcement services in today’s society. The government made the adoption of the United States’ justice system mandatory, stripped tribes of the authority to enforce it, and has consistently failed to adequately support tribes or enforce the law in their stead. Obama is committed adequately funding Bureau of Indian Affairs Law Enforcement services and removing bureaucratic obstacles to improving the delivery of law enforcement services. Barack Obama also supports fully funding the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program that many tribal law enforcement agencies have come to rely upon.

Tribal Courts: Strong tribal courts able to enforce, interpret, and make tribal law foster healthy communities. Additionally, many tribal courts utilize dispute resolution systems rooted in traditional tribal common law, which serves to empower local communities. Despite the vital role of tribal courts to community development, many tribal justice systems are severely underfunded and unable to meet ever-growing case loads. Tribes regularly struggle to provide infrastructure and staffing needs such as such as security, digital recording, clerks, and case management systems. Barack Obama will increase aid to tribal nations for tribal court systems.



CRIMINAL JURISDICTION: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND METHAMPHETAMINE USE


Burgeoning Violence: Violence in Indian Country is committed at rates among the highest levels in the country. A recent study by Amnesty International details the alarming rates at which Native women are subject to violence. The report states that 1 in 3 American Indian women will be raped in their lifetime, and are almost 3 times as likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women of America. Similarly, Methamphetamine use on reservations is out of control. For example, in 2005 more than one quarter of babies born on the San Carlos Apache Reservation were born addicted to meth, and 74 percent of Indian law enforcement agencies responding to a national survey reported that meth use was the greatest threat to their communities. The same survey reported dramatic increases in cases of domestic violence, child neglect, sex crimes, and weapons charges.

A Jurisdictional Maze: Both of these unfortunate situations, along with the extreme rates of crime on reservations, share a root problem: the jurisdictional maze on Indian lands makes law enforcement complex, uncertain, and all too often, rare. Depending on the identity of the victim and the perpetrator, criminal jurisdiction falls to the tribe, the federal government, or the state. When the offender is non-Indian, the tribe does not have jurisdiction. This is a problem as a substantial portion of offenses are committed by non-Indians. For example, 88% of crimes against Native women are committed by non-Indians. Having different jurisdictions depending on the race of the involved parties makes identification of the proper enforcement difficult and disheartening, and non-tribal law enforcement is often sparse and distant. This maze allows for pockets of lawlessness, and allows reservations to be easy targets for drug rings and manufacturers.

A New Look at Tribal Justice: Barack Obama will work to encourage a reexamination of the current jurisdictional scheme. A recent DOJ report states that the 1978 legal decision largely responsible for the current design is an “obstacle” to getting control of the abysmal crime rate in Indian country. As president, Barack Obama will reexamine this decision. Without jurisdiction over both Indians and non-Indians alike, tribes are unable to address a large portion of the criminal activity on their homelands. Meanwhile, Obama encourages authorities with jurisdiction on reservations to work with tribes in order to provide Native women and families with the protection they need. Barack Obama also supports policies targeting methamphetamine manufacturers and distributors.

Combat Meth Act of 2005: Barack Obama supported the Combat Meth Act of 2005 which was signed into law during the 109th Congress. The act puts federal funds into the fight against methamphetamine, provides assistance to children affected by meth abuse, and places restrictions on the sale of the ingredients used to make the drug. Medicines containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine (decongestants and asthma medication, for example) must now be kept behind pharmaceutical counters, and consumers must provide proof of age to make a purchase.

A Proven Counter-Meth Record in Illinois: Illinois has had some success combating use of methamphetamines thanks to the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group, a program paid for in part by federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grants. The Byrne grants helped this 31-county task force pay five of its 12 agents. The Bush Administration proposed eliminating the grant program from the FY 2006 budget. Barack Obama supported an amendment to the Justice Department spending bill that increased funding for the Byrne program from $625.5 million to $900 million for 2006.



Fight Meth’s Precursor Chemicals
: Drug enforcement experts have long believed that methamphetamines can be best fought by striking at the source: the factories that produce its precursor chemicals. Unlike cocaine and marijuana, drugs that are derived from widespread, easily grown plants, methamphetamines are based on legally-manufactured chemicals produced in only nine factories worldwide (one in Germany, one in the Czech Republic, two in China, and five in India). Restricting global imports of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine according to national pharmaceutical demand could help cut off drug labs. Mexico, for example, imported 224 tons of precursor chemicals in 2004-an amount twice the estimated national need.



Take on the Mexican Cartels:
The United States’ aggressive lab seizures and restrictions on over-the-counter sale of ephedrine- and pseudoephedrine-based products have compelled Mexican drug cartels to move their operations south of the border. Today, 65 percent of methamphetamines in the United States come from Mexican cartels. When the State Department began working with the Mexican government to restrict precursor imports, the cartels moved manufacturing operations to Latin America and began importing freshly manufactured methamphetamines from Asia. Obama believes that the role of Mexican drug cartels and their global network must be thoroughly addressed by the international community.

Some background on the mention of the cartels. There were news reports that representatives of these cartels were basically giving away free samples on the reservations to get people hooked. When I find a link to that article, I’ll edit in here.

UPDATE: I left out a whole chunk of Obama’s positions because they weren’t all on the same page. Sorry about that. Here’s more:

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

American Indians experience some of the most severe socioeconomic conditions in the United States. Poverty and its effects are pervasive, with more than a quarter of all American Indians living in poverty and unemployment rates reaching 80 percent on some reservations. Obama’s experience as a community organizer working in poor neighborhoods plagued by high unemployment has taught him that there is no single solution to community poverty. Therefore, he supports using a comprehensive approach that includes investment in physical, human and institutional infrastructure, increased access to capital, the removal of barriers to development, and above all, authentic government-to-government relationships between the federal government and tribes.

Infrastructure

Housing: American Indians suffer from some of the deplorable housing conditions in the nation. Some 14 percent of all reservation homes have no electricity, and on some reservations, as many as 20 people are forced to live in a single-family home. Barack Obama supports providing adequate levels of funding for the Indian Housing Block Grant and other Indian housing programs as well as working to increase the effectiveness of these programs.

Roads: Safe, reliable roads are a basic component of economic development. Unfortunately, the federal government is failing in its commitment to help tribes maintain tribal road systems. Many reservation roads are unsafe and under-maintained, impacting not only economic development but health and safety as well. Motor vehicle fatality rates for American Indians are nearly twice as high other races. As president Barack Obama would support increased resources for tribes to maintain their road systems, like the Indian Roads Reservation Program and the BIA Indian Road Maintenance program.

Energy:Tribal nations have joined in America’s quest for alternative, renewable energy. Because of their rural land bases and access to natural resources, many tribes have made great strides in economic development in the energy sector. Tribes have successful operations producing gas, solar, and wind energy. In addition to harnessing and producing energy, tribes have an interest in energy rights-of-way across tribal lands. Obama supports the production and mobility of sustainable energy in all communities, and recognizes the potential for energy development in Indian country. He also encourages energy companies and Indian tribes to negotiate in good faith to ensure tribes receive just compensation.

Additionally, tribes are effectively unable to use the renewable energy Production Tax Credit, which provides tax incentives for the operation of renewable energy facilities. Obama supports creation of a Joint Venture Production Tax Credit that allows tribes to partner with private companies and fully utilize vast tribal energy resources.

Access to Capital

Earned Income Tax Credit: In both the Illinois State Senate and the U.S. Senate, Obama has championed efforts to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is one of the most successful anti-poverty programs to date. Unfortunately, many Native families and individuals do not claim the EITC because they simply do not know about it. As president, Obama would support a Native EITC awareness campaigns and tax preparation programs.

As president, Obama will reward work by increasing the number of working parents eligible for EITC benefits, increasing the benefit available to parents who support their children through child support payments, increasing the benefit for families with three or more children and reducing the EITC marriage penalty which hurts low-income families. Under the Obama plan, full-time workers making minimum wage would get an EITC benefit up to $555, more than three times greater than the $175 benefit they get today. If the workers are responsibly supporting their children on child support, the Obama plan would give those workers a benefit of $1,110. The Obama plan would also increase the EITC benefit for those families that are most likely to be in poverty – families with three or more children.

Minimum Wage: Barack Obama believes that people who work full time should not live in poverty. Before the Democrats took back Congress, the minimum wage had not changed in 10 years. Even though the minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage’s real purchasing power will still be below what it was in 1968. As president, Obama would further raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing — things so many people take for granted.

Tax Exempt Bonding:Currently, tribal governments cannot issue tax-exempt bonds in the same manner as state and municipal governments. Tribes can issue bonds only for a narrowly defined set of essential government functions. The distinction, unique to tribes as defined by the Internal Revenue Service, creates barriers for tribes wishing to issue bonds to finance economic development projects and build infrastructure like schools and hospitals. Barack Obama supports treating tribal governments as sovereigns and recognizing their right to issue tax exempt bonds.

EDUCATION

Education is the key to improving the lives of American Indians and empowering tribal nations to build a better future. While educational policies in the 1970s attempted to reverse past federal policies aimed at eradicating American Indian languages and cultures, there is still much work to be done. Unfortunately, American Indians suffer from some of the lowest high school graduation and college matriculation rates in the nation. We must continue to honor our obligations to the First Americans by providing tribes with the educational resources promised by treaty and federal law.

Indian Language Education:Tribes are struggling to preserve their languages. It is estimated that by 2050 only 20 of the over 500 Native languages once spoken will remain. Research shows that instruction in tribal language increases American Indian academic performance in other areas like math and science. Barack Obama supports funding for Native language immersion and preservation programs.

No Child Left Behind: The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act is a vital goal – ensuring that all children meet high education standards – but the law has significant flaws that need to be addressed. These flaws are especially apparent in Indian country. Unfulfilled promises, ineffective implementation, and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have created countless obstacles for tribal educators. Barack Obama would fund No Child Left Behind and reform the law to better incorporate Title VII, the law’s Indian, Hawaiian, and Alaskan education provision. Obama’s plan would provide greater flexibility in integrating Native languages, cultures, and communities into school programs in a manner consistent with principles of tribal sovereignty.

Early Childhood Education: Research shows that half of low-income children begin school up to two years behind their peers in preschool skills and that these early achievement gaps continue throughout elementary school. Barack Obama supports increasing funding for Head Start, including the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Programs, to provide American Indian preschool children with critically important learning skills, and supports the necessary role of parental involvement in the success of Head Start. Obama has called on states to replicate the Illinois model of Preschool for All. Tribes should also be given the opportunity to implement culturally appropriate versions of this program.

OK, originally, it seemed that Clinton had the more comprehensive set of proposals, but now I’m thoroughly impressed. There’s even more from Obama:

SOVEREIGNTY AND TRIBAL-FEDERAL RELATIONS

An Indian in the White House – Appointment of a National Indian Policy Advisor:Tribes must interface with an increasingly complex array of departments, bureaus, and programs within the administration. As a result, comprehensive American Indian policy has been hard to implement and tribes must spend their limited resources navigating government bureaucracy. The need to foster a coherent approach and organize the efforts of the various agencies is particularly crucial to tribes because of the profound role of government programs in Indian peoples’ daily lives. In order to better serve tribes, ensure that their issues are given proper consideration, and promote a more cohesive approach to Indian affairs, Barack Obama will appoint a National American Indian Policy Advisor to serve as a member of his White House staff and create the National American Indian Advisory Council.

The Advisory Council will be chaired by the Policy Advisor and include the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the various heads of Indian programs in other executive departments, and appointed individuals knowledgeable and experienced in Indian policy. The Advisory Council will be charged with developing and implementing Obama’s American Indian policy initiatives, and coordinating the activities of the many offices in the administration that deal with Indian affairs.

Agency Appointments: Tribal peoples know best how to best serve their own communities. Obama is committed to appointing American Indians to pertinent government positions who maintain close ties their communities, and possess firsthand experience and knowledge about issues affecting Indian country.

Annual White House Tribal Nations Summit: The federal government’s trust responsibility to the First Americans means more than merely administering programs to help tribal nations develop. The trust responsibility also means maintaining open lines of communication from one government to another. Regrettably, past administrations have failed to or only halfheartedly lived up this obligation. As president, Obama will host an Annual White House Tribal Nations Summit to meet with tribal leaders about how his administration can better serve tribal communities.

On Obama’s website, you can also can sign up for First Americans for Obama, which means that there is a forum for these issues within the campaign itself.

Update: Originally, I took both candidates to task for not mentioning the Trust Fund issue, which the government has refused to come clean about. Turns out that, although he might not have it on his website, Obama did tell Indian country today this:

Furthermore, I firmly believe in the words of Justice Hugo Black that ”[g]reat nations, like great men, should keep their word.” So under my presidency, we will live up to the federal government’s solemn commitments enshrined in treaties with the tribal nations. And I will ensure that we live up to our commitments in ensuring the effective, efficient and honest management of trust income, as this Nation has promised to do, and to equitably redress the errors of the past.

Thanks JennyBravo for the link to that.

The Trust Fund issue is being heard again in the courts. This is what an editorial in today’s New York Times, called The Verdict: It’s Broken had to say about a recent verdict in a case first brought in 1996:

In 1996, Elouise Cobell, a Blackfoot Indian, filed a lawsuit claiming that the government had mismanaged billions of dollars in oil, timber and other royalties held in trust for some half-million Indians. The Indians were given land allotments between the end of the 19th century and 1934, a time when it was government policy to try to do away with tribal entities and reservations. The government held title to the land, and these accounts were meant to collect and disburse the revenues.

The simple question is this: can the government account for the money it held in trust? Judge Robertson’s judgment: “It is now clear that completion of the required accounting is an impossible task.” This, as he points out, is an “irreparable breach of fiduciary duty,” a breach that, in our opinion, is all the more galling because these individual trust accounts have come over time to look like a form of paternalistic fraud.

Even with meticulous oversight, monitoring them accurately would have been a tough assignment. But the government’s failure is not simply sloppy bookkeeping. It is willful neglect, including the active destruction of records and the failure to comply with court orders.

A new hearing has been scheduled to try to find a new remedy. However, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is in charge of this trust, has for years refused to provide an accounting of these funds, and recently has been accused of destroying documents. The contempt that the Bureau has shown over time is criminal in my opinion.

OK, so Obama has made reference to this, and Clinton has not, which I feel is a major oversight. However, I do feel that both Obama and Clinton should take a very strong stand on this terrible travesty of justice in their proposals, and, at the very least, if elected, appoint a competent manager for the BIA whose continued employment should depend on a full accounting of these monies.

In any case, I am heartened by the attention each campaign has already given to Native American issues.

I hope I’ve provided useful info on how each campaign is addressing Native American issues. Again, I don’t want to join the fracas here, just some info.

OK, I’ve gotta admit it, I’m an Obama fan, and now I’m just dazzled by the comprehensive nature of his proposals! At first I thought they were kind of tied, but after I got this additional info, I just have to say “Yes, we can”

Pretty Bird Woman House Update: It’s a GO!

( – promoted by navajo)

Cross posted from the Daily Kos

First of all, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all the Kossacks and other members of the netroots community for your commitment to the survival of the Pretty Bird Woman House.  Helping this shelter has been one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done, and some of that has to do with the outpouring of caring and compassion that I witnessed while I was doing this project.

This morning I received an email informing me that the McLaughlin City Council had unanimously approved the shelter’s petition to operate in the house it wants to purchase. This was a wonderful accomplishment given some initial misgivings that some of the City Council Members had expressed.  

For those who haven’t been following the story of the Pretty Bird Woman House, instead of pointing you to the numerous (and I mean NUMEROUS)diaries that Kossacks have written on the subject since May, I will simply direct you to the Pretty Bird Woman House blog, since it contains links to many of those diaries in addition to the essays that Andy T and I wrote as part of the fundraiser.

Here’s the situation in a nutshell: On December 28th, a full month early, we met our goal of raising the $70,000 that we figured the shelter needed for a new house and security system. By that time, Georgia Little Shield, the director, had placed a bid on a house near the police station. The closing would have taken place on January 4th.

Unfortunately, while all this was happening, the City of McLaughlin had passed an ordinance that required nonprofits seeking to establish a shelter or boarding house in a residential neighborhood to get the City’s permission first. This action was in response to drunk and disorderly conduct by the men in a homeless shelter in another neighborhood,

On January 7th, the City Council held a hearing on the shelter’s petition. There was some initial opposition to the shelter by some of the Council members and neighborhood residents, so they put off voting on the issue in order to gather more information and give people more time to consider the issue.

This made us all very uneasy, and I for one was waiting on pins and needles for the final decision.

But as with everything involved in this project, the best in people finally came out.

Last night, the Council unanimously voted to approve the shelter’s request. Unlike the first meeting, only positive remarks were made about the shelter staff and its future residents. As Georgia just told me:

At that meeting, everybody was for us, nobody spoke up against us.

This included the Chief of Police, who testified that the police really need the shelter to help them with women who are victims of domestic violence.

So, in the end, it seems that the mayor recognized that the shelter’s opponents just needed more information, and that his move to postpone the vote was a wise one. Here’s what he told the Rapid City Journal today.

“I think it’s going to be good. I think their hearts are in the right place,” Dumdei said of shelter officials. “Everyone’s trying to do what’s right. We just wanted to make sure that we had public input and everybody understands it.” …snip…

Dumdei said it was important to give citizens time to ask questions and feel comfortable with the planned relocation of the shelter, which is the only domestic-violence sanctuary on the Standing Rock reservation.

Amnesty International also provided a letter in support of the shelter, which the mayor cited at the meeting. Here is part of that letter (sorry I don’t have a link, it was emailed to me):

Programs run by Native American and Alaska Native women are vital in ensuring the protection and long-term support of Indigenous women who have experienced sexual violence. Shelters operated by Native American women are particularly important in order to provide the culturally appropriate supportive environment needed.  However, lack of funding is a widespread problem all over the US, including in South Dakota – and in many locations no such support is available. In our report, we highlighted the work of Pretty Bird Woman House, a sexual assault and domestic violence program on the Standing Rock Reservation. At the time of Amnesty International’s report in April 2007 Pretty Bird Woman House did not have funding for direct services for its clients, but helped women to access services off the Reservation. Amnesty International believes that it is imperative that the Reservation have its own shelter.

….snip….

The support that Pretty Bird Woman House has received from individuals all over the US is indicative of the response that Amnesty International has seen to this issue in general. Many people feel deeply touched by the injustices suffered for decades by Native American women, and want to help. Authorities at all levels are responding as well – at the U.S. Senate level, legislation will be introduced within the next few weeks. In Oklahoma, state laws ensuring the availability of rape kits for all women have already been passed.

The advocates, who have been running Pretty Bird Woman House for the past years with few funds but a lot of determination, have been fighting alone for too long. It is time that we stand up together and say no to violence against women – and time to support a shelter which will make all the difference in the world to women at a time when a helping hand is desperately needed.

Today, they also issued a press release that contained this information and thanked the City Council for approving the shelter.

It seems to me that the netroots worked really well in tandem with Amnesty International on this whole project, taking up the call they issued about the shelter in their report, United States of America: Maze of injustice: The failure to protect indigenous women from violence as its own cause.

On Friday, Georgia is going to set a closing date on the house. When I find out exactly what it is, I’ll post it on the blog.

Fundraiser Update

Grand total of the money we raised: $87,000.

People have also sent hundreds of pounds of clothes. SallyCat alone sent 350 pounds from a drive and party she conducted in San Francisco.

The shelter is also going to be receiving a flurry of small checks because a retiree in Florida who read the Rapid City Journal articles asked that everyone who attended his birthday party last week send checks to the shelter in lieu of presents for him. Awwww…

The official house fundraiser ends tomorrow. I will be putting up a new ChipIn with no goal amount for people who still want to donate.

Work left to be done

One snafu has come up. We were basing our estimate of the cost of a security system on the one the neighboring shelter has. Bad idea. For a system that has 24 hour monitoring, the estimated cost was $24,000. Yipes! And they will still need a fence as well.

This means that the security system and fence will eat up a lot of the money they had set aside for furniture and a washer and dryer. So, when I spoke with Georgia today, she gave me a new wish list.

I know most people have given all they can, but I also know from experience that other people will want to know how they can help some more. So this is for them (I don’t want guilt trip everyone else, you all have been amazing). Some of these are replacements for items that didn’t hold up too well either in the move or in storage.

So for anyone so inclined to buy what I will call housewarming gifts, here’s what the shelter needs.

Wishlist

washer and dryer

8 bunk bed sets, and sheets to go on them

couch and chairs

television and stand

dining room set (the one they had collapsed in the move)

pillows

full and twin-size sheets

8 dressers (2 for each bedroom)

dishes and related kitchen supplies

Again, Kossacks, on behalf of the shelter staff, I want to extend my deepest gratitude for all your support, compassion, and kind words.

You know, a lot of us are tired of the sniping and griping that has been going on around here about the candidates, but take break from that for a second and think about what you have all done to help hundreds of women and children on the Standing Rock Reservation. It’s incredible. Pat yourselves on the back.

One more note considering this is a Democratic blog. I want to pubically thank Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) for her support. She spoke out publicly in support of the shelter when there was opposition on the City Council, has visited it at least twice, and whenever anyone calls her office about it, her staff members are extremely helpful. This is exactly the kind of commitment we need from our representatives in Congress. Thank you!

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Pretty Bird Woman House Update: Why Isn’t Anything Easy in Indian Country?

(crossposted on the Daily Kos and Street Prophets under betson08 and Docudharma under PiledHigherand Deeper – I guess I have an unstable identity!)

I want to update everyone who has been involved in the Pretty Bird Woman House fundraiser on the situation with the house purchase.

After you read this you might also ask: Why isn’t anything easy in Indian Country?

While we were running this fundraiser, the City Council of McLaughlin, which exists as a separate entity within the boundaries of the Standing Rock Reservation, passed an ordinance requiring that any nonprofit wishing to establish a boardinghouse or shelter in a residential area get the approval of the City Council first.

This means that  even though Pretty Bird Woman House could have closed on the house on January 4th, they had to wait for a Council meeting on January 7th.

Everyone was certain that after hearing about the shelter, the City Council would just say “of course you can” to their request.

Not so.  

Unfortunately, Georgia Little Shield, the shelter director, was attending a mandatory federal training associated with their new grant, so she was unable to go to the hearing. However, six representatives of PBWH and neighboring shelters did attend, including Jackie Brown Otter and a lawyer from the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Someone from the Lutheran church, the owner of the house the shelter bid on, also attended in support of the shelter.

The new ordinance that is affecting the shelter was passed in response to complaints about the men residing in a homeless shelter in another neighborhood, since they were making nuisances of themselves. While I can’t blame the residents for wanting drunken men off of their lawns, the measure does seem draconian in relation to the size of the problem it sought to address.

In general, reports from people who attended the meeting indicated that the ratio of support to opposition on the Council was about 60/40. Instead of voting on it that night, however, they decided to take the full 30 days allowed by the ordinance, and have another hearing.

The problem they are having, which has definite racial overtones, generally seems to stem from the fact that some of the members of the community could not conceptually distinguish between a homeless shelter, which houses men with emotional and drug problems, and a women’s shelter, which houses women who are escaping abuse, and want nothing more than a safe place to stay and to be as unobtrusive as possible. This is quite the opposite of a homeless shelter.

One reason for hope for a positive resolution was that Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth publicly came out in favor of the shelter in a recent Rapid City Journal articleabout the shelter. By the way, that paper also carried a very nice article about the shelter and the netroots fundraising efforts, which you can see here.

The Congresswoman seems to have become a champion of this cause, and programs to assist domestic violence victims in Indian Country in general. Kudos and applause to her!

And, without trying to dictate to the city council, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., nonetheless has made it clear that her heart is with the shelter as it searches for a permanent home.

“I’m not going to get involved in that (council vote),” Herseth Sandlin said earlier this week. “But I do hope that our efforts in making greater resources available to those isolated reservations will be a factor in the decision making — to know that a member of their congressional delegation is paying particular attention and wanting to be partners in their effort to have a safer community.”



Herseth Sandlin visited the Pretty Bird Woman House twice last year and supported Congressional bills with additional financial resources for law-enforcement and domestic-violence programs on reservations.

But she went further. The article notes that after visiting the burned shelter back in October:  

…Herseth Sandlin returned to McLaughlin with Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, as well as congressional staffers. They stopped by the shelter apartment, which had by then been abandoned, and met with federal and local law-enforcement officials, shelter representatives and Dumdei.

After the visit, Dicks inserted language into an omnibus appropriations bill expressing his concern that “methamphetamine use, violence against women and other serious crimes have reached epidemic levels in certain areas of Indian Country,” and directing the Bureau of Indian Affairs to increase the level of law enforcement and criminal prosecution in such areas.

That doesn’t provide more money specifically for Standing Rock but directs BIA to focus more resources on isolated areas where law officers are scarce. Herseth Sandlin said the October Congressional stop was part of the inspiration for adding that language into the spending bill. It also helped raise awareness in Congress about the issues of domestic violence and inadequate law enforcement on isolated reservations, she said.

“I think it has been very important to keep raising awareness about the epidemic of various crimes, especially domestic violence, and the inadequate staffing levels of BIA officers,” she said.

Again, thank you Congresswoman Herseth!

Additionally, the Mayor, who is in somewhat of a bind here, was quoted in the same article:

Mayor Ron Dumdei said this week that he and council members appreciate the value of the shelter but also must consider the concerns of members of the community. Some citizens worry that the shelter could again be victimized by vandals and pose other potential threats to the community in its new location.

“I understand their need for a shelter, but I also have to be sensitive to the other community folks who have concerns about it,” Dumdei said. “We’ll do what we can to make things right.”

He seems to have good intentions here, so that’s another good sign.

Another issue that arose during the meeting was what seems to have been a misconception about the local police authority to arrest Indians. Because McLaughlin has a white police department operating inside an Indian reservation, according to one opponent of the shelter, the white police officers have no jurisdiction, so it wouldn’t matter whether or not the shelter is close to a police station (was that a wtf moment for you? It was for me).

This is plainly not true. There are jurisdictional issues that make it difficult to hold people, but they can be arrested, as the Mayor’s statement to the Rapid City Journal reflected:

Jurisdiction issues between the tribe, federal agencies and state and local law enforcement officers create problems as well, Dumdei said. Non-Native officers who apprehend tribal lawbreakers may only hold them until they can be picked up by the federal officers, Dumdei said.

The jurisdictional issues make it difficult for nontribal law enforcement to be effective, he said.

“It creates some problems here. But we’re trying to work it out,” Dumdei said. “What we want to do is provide a safe community. It’s a complicated issue, but we’re going to do the best with what we’ve got.”

Unfortunately, though, the original argument was not quashed at the meeting. In any case, as Georgia told me by phone yesterday, there has not been one case in South Dakota of a batterer attacking a women’s shelter. What happened to the shelter was vandalism, and we do not know the race of the vandals. The shelter needs to be in a safe area for the safety of the women inside it, just in case they are stalked, as well as to to deter  vandals, but not because any batterers are likely to attack the shelter.

During the upcoming 30 days, the Council will hold another town meeting and give Georgia a chance to talk about the shelter. That will also give the women’s shelter advocates in the area some time to educate the residents about exactly what a shelter is and does.

One thing IS certain. WE WILL HAVE A SAFE HAVEN FOR WOMEN ON THE STANDING ROCK RESERVATION, NO MATTER WHAT. Compassion WILL win.

Georgia also told me that one other thing they will immediately do is create a Plan B for purchase of a house. Since they could not close on a house on Jan.4th, as originally planned, they are now technically out of compliance with the grant that provides for operational expenses for the house. Thank God for the fundraiser. If they have to renovate some other house farther away from town, they will now be able to. Lets hope that doesn’t happen.

Right now, we’re not asking for letters to anyone in McLaughlin, except thank yous to Congressional Reps. Herseth and Dicks for their support. I think it is entirely possible that the members of the Council who oppose the shelter will come to their senses after they have been educated about what a women’s shelter really is, especially with more press coverage of the situation. This may just be another bureaucratic delay.

While I wait, what I am going to do is research the history behind these  towns on Indian reservations in the Dakotas. Some of the social relationships that have been described to me since I have become involved with this project are so oddly 19th century that sometimes I have difficulty overcoming my disbelief at what I’m hearing. I need to educate myself on this.

And things are just as messed up at the federal level too, which reinforces these problems.  Senator Dorgan has developed a concept paper with ideas for legislation to improve law enforcement in Indian Country. We really need to change federal laws that create conditions where people are treated differently by law enforcement just because of their race. You can read that paper here

Senator Dorgan is requesting comments on this paper.

Well, there you have it. This situation still embodies what Native American women face when they try to make change in their community. I feel so great to be able to say that now they’ve got the netroots behind them.

P.S.You can still get lots more information, and until the end of the month donate too, at the PBWH blog

Pretty Bird Woman House Update: YOU are buying THIS house!

( – promoted by navajo)

I thought I’d give you an update on what was going on with the fundraiser for this shelter. Georgia Little Shield, the director, has used the money we have raised so far to place a bid on the house you see in the photos below.

We need donations urgently right now since there was only enough money for a really low bid, so that makes things still a bit tenuous. And then there will be closing costs and a security system. But even though we haven’t sealed the deal yet, we’re coming very close!

The amazing part of this project is that the individual efforts of a bunch of bloggers are making such a big difference to a group of women. This is what a community is really about.  And were else can you see donations doing something so huge so fast?  

Here are the photos of the house. Isn’t it great!

Front View:

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Living Room:

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Kitchen, View 1

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Kitchen, View 2

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Dining Room:

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There is also a huge basement, which will house a children’s playroom, and a small thrift shop to support the shelter, and has great general potential.

The next large item is a security system. With security cameras. A good one (which is a must in this situation) is at least $7,000 installed. And then we’ll need a fence. That’s going to be another large chunk of change. Since this is a one story house, and we don’t want batterers to try to get into those bedrooms at night, the fence is vital in addition to the security system. We don’t want a repeat of the theft and vandalism either.

If you haven’t donated yet, you can make a huge difference right now because they’re at a crucial point in the house purchase process, and things are still a little shaky. Go here to donate and get all the info you could possibly want on the shelter if you have missed the story up until now.

There will be needs after the house purchase, which is why I am keeping the goal at $70,000 despite the fact that of the 2 houses available, they’re bidding on the lower-priced one.

Because of the prior theft they’re also going to need a TV, VCR, DVD player, and the entertainment center to put them on. Boy it really sucks that they got so much stuff stolen! They’re also going to need a washer and dryer, as well as new dressers, 2 more bunk beds, and 2 more double beds, since more women and children will be housed here than in the other shelter. They also will need extra couches and chairs because the living room is so big, and the outside of the house needs a new coat of paint.

Those items are all important, but the money to seal the deal for the house and buy the security system is the most urgent.

So please everyone, keep passing the word. We are SO close.

I want to raise $10K more by Christmas. If the sellers accept the current bid that much will cover closing costs and the security system so the women can move right in. If they don’t accept the bid, it will allow them to increase it slightly and still cover closing costs. In any case, we’re SO close to this being a huge netroots coup for the shelter!

P.S. The shelter also just received another federal grant. If we can get this house, that grant will pay for utilities, food and other expenses. It’s also funding another advocate. So, we’ve got great long-term viability here, we just need to help them with their infrastructure! They are also planning a domestic violence conference for April that will be free for all Standing Rock residents. Georgia just never quits, even in the middle of all this house chaos!

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(by Tigana)