Hope and Opportunity on Pine Ridge Rez

Northwest Area Foundation Header

Gary Cunningham, VP and Chief Program Officer of Northwest Area Foundation, responsible for carrying out the foundation’s mission to support efforts to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable prosperity in an eight state Northwest region wrote a recent article on promising programs in action  on Pine Ridge rez and adds a good measure of hope to the many somber reports we have read recently.

Please read his entire post and then I’d like to hear your opinion in the comments, especially if you are a resident of Pine Ridge or neighboring reservations. My questions for the rez residents would be:

1- Do you know about these programs in place on Pine Ridge?

2- Have you seen them in action?

3- Are these programs effective for Pine Ridge?

For neighboring and all other rez residents:



1- Do you have similar programs?

I’m going to list the programs that Cunningham writes about so we can easily refer back to them in the future.

Thunder Valley

:: Thunder Valley Development Corporation ::

…Born out of these spiritual roots, the young people of Pine Ridge have created Thunder Valley Development Corporation to empower Lakota youth and families to improve the health, culture and environment of their community by healing and strengthening of their cultural identity.

 

The overwhelming majority of the Board of Directors and staff are Oglala Sioux.

Once we reached Thunder Valley, Nick Tilsen provided a powerful presentation on building community, empowering young people, and on civic and spiritual engagement. He explained that Thunder Valley Development Corporation has a bold vision of building a planned community on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

If you’d like to help Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation click here.

Native American Natural Foods logo

:: Native American Natural Foods ::

We were then given a tour of Native American Natural Foods, which was founded in 2005 on the Pine Ridge Reservation by owners Karlene Hunter and Mark Tilsen. According to the Native American Natural Foods website, Tanka means “delivering your best with all your heart, mind, body and spirit. It is the choices that you make and the actions that you take to be who you are. Whether you’re Native, white, black, yellow or brown, it is your ability to overcome, to extend a helping hand for those in need, to defeat racism, to protect our Mother Earth, and to love all others on our planet. It is your ability to acknowledge “Mitakuye Oyasin” — we are all related.”

Native American Natural Foods has teamed up with Thunder Valley.


…Thunder Valley E-TANKA café, a partnership between the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation and Native American Natural Foods, creator of the TANKA bar.

You can order their online products here. I regret to inform you that the Buffalo Hot Dogs are not available online. (Yes, I’m a carnivore…)



:: First Peoples Fund ::

First Peoples Fund image

First Peoples Fund… Lori Pourier, President focuses on:

…the youth who are finding their way through education, community projects and entrepreneurial development. Lori indicated that a lot of “healing that needs to take place.” Lori and others are building the bases for a new renaissance in Indian country.

…First Peoples Fund honors and celebrates native artists who exemplify indigenous values of generosity, wisdom, respect, integrity, strength, fortitude and humility.  

If you’d like to help First Peoples Fund support the advancement of American Indian arts by creating businesses and grant funding click here.

Oweesta logo

:: First Nations Oweesta ::

First Nations Oweesta is a national organization whose mission is to provide opportunities for Native people to develop assets and create wealth by assisting in the establishment of strong, permanent institutions and programs, that contribute to economic independence and strengthen sovereignty for all Native communities The First Nations Oweesta Corporation provides training, technical assistance, investments research and advocacy for the development of Native CDFIs and other support organizations in Native communities. It is working with tribes throughout the country to build a financial infrastructure one individual, one family, one business, one community at a time.

If you’d like to contribute to Oweesta click here.

Other institutions mentioned in this comprehensive article were:

Oglala Lakota College

Pine Ridge Chamber of Commerce

Lakota Funds

I am encouraged by this report of Native individuals building businesses that directly affect their reservations. I also thought it was important to list the many institutions that are making an effort to help our First Nations. Again, I would like to hear from the actual Pine Ridge residents to see if any of this feel good article has actually reached them.

Update: April 8th, Email from Autumn Two Bulls, a resident of Pine Ridge.

I have read this article and it upset me in way. Why it upset me is because not all of our people here on the rez have these advantages as others. There’s so many obsticles to this. I know these programs are offering good positive out reach but we need more of them and to expand them. Here’s and example of the obsticals, no car, live to far out, no babysitter, single parent families, lack of education because of these obstacles. I would like to see these programs try to go into every deep district and do more out reach. I personally know because i live out in the districts. If they can maybe set up a travel out reach to come into the districts maybe lets say 2 times a month this would be great. But as far as i have seen, nothing. This article painted the image that Pine Ridge is not hurting and we are just fine. but that is not the truth.  i know many can get up and help ourselves, well also remember alot of our people are struggling from Genocide, alcoholism, ect. I am not saying my people are bad in any way. Just saying that we need to address these issues first hand. Get healthy and get a good start. So let’s see how far they can reach the people. I know and see what’s going here. Maybe people don’t like what i say but it’s the truth. Not everybody is recieving help from these programs and if anything i asked and alot of them never heard of them. Let’s remember the forgotten people here. I extend my hand and invite out to you to come and see and hear for your selves. You can only know the truth if you experience our hardships yourselves. Maybe this person who wrote this article should come live with us here for a least a year know the truth and go from there. As for our culture it is beating and alive.  more of our youth are picking it up. But we need more than this to bring a whole Nation out of poverty.

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 An ongoing series sponsored by the Native American Netroots team focusing on the current issues faced by American Indian Tribes and current solutions to those issues.

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H/T Oke for finding this article this morning.

American Indian Women: Mourning Dove

( – promoted by navajo)

Christine Quintasket, writing under the name Mourning Dove, was the first American Indian woman to write a novel. Cogewea: The Half-Blood  had actually been completed in 1916, but it took another decade to find a publisher for it. The novel remained an obscure piece of Native American literature until it was repub¬lished in 1981.

The setting for Cogewea is the Flathead Reservation in Montana. Mourning Dove was not from the Flathead Reservation, but from the Colville Reservation in Washington. She was born in a canoe about 1885 when her mother was crossing the Kootenay River in Idaho. Her father was Okanagan and her mother was Colville.

Mourning Dove was not well-educated. As a child, she was sporadically enrolled in the Goodwin Catholic Mission School near Kettle Falls Washington. Her first experience with school was so traumatic that she became deathly ill and had to return to her reservation home. She reports that she was lonely and that she was punished for speaking only Salish.

Later she attended the Fort Spokane School for Indians and then she worked in exchange for classes at the Fort Shaw Indian School in Montana.

Sometime after she learned English, she began reading the so-called “dime novels” and these influenced her later writings.

While living in Portland in 1912, she began working on her novel and the idea of becoming a writer began to grow. In order to pursue her goal of becoming a writer, she briefly attended a secretarial school in Alberta, Canada so that she could learn to type.  

To support herself, she worked as a migrant farm laborer, picking fruit and vegetables by day then trying to write in her camp tent at night. Her life was often one of poverty and physical hardship.

She started writing using the pen name Morning Dove. According to Colville oral tradition, Morning Dove was the wife of Salmon who welcomed his return each spring. However, while visiting a museum in Spokane, Washington she happened to see a mounted bird with the label “mourning dove” and decided to use this name which added some tragic overtones to her pen name.

About 1914 or 1915, Mourning Dove met Lucullus V. McWhorter, a businessman and Indian-rights advocate, who became her literary mentor. He encouraged her to collect traditional stories and edited Cogewea. At the time of their first meeting, she had already completed an initial draft of the book. By the time she had a final draft ready for publication, World War I interrupted the publishing scene.

The influence of McWhorter is easily seen in Cogewea. At times the novel is written in the style of a dime novel romance (reflecting her early fascination with this writing form) and at other times it takes a more academic, anthropological approach to explaining Indian culture.

In 1933 her second book, Coyote Stories, was published. This is a collection of traditional Okanogan stories. However, working with an editor who was primarily concerned with reaching a non-Indian audience, these stories are presented in a fashion that would be acceptable for this audience. Thus stories about incest, transvestism, and infanticide were omitted from the collection. The alterations in the stories to make them appeal to a non-Indian audience often makes them unrecognizable to the traditional Okanogan from which they came.

Throughout her life she was active in reservation politics. In 1935, she was elected to the Colville Tribal Council, becoming the first woman to serve as a council member. She was often a public speaker on issues of tribal welfare and women’s rights. She died in 1936. Her personal and cultural memoirs-Mourning Dove, a Salishan Autobiography-was published posthumously fifty-four years after her death.  

American Indian Women: Susan LaFlesche

Susan LaFlesche was the first American Indian woman to become a doctor and to practice Western-style medicine among her own people. She became a doctor at a time when there were only a handful of other Indian doctors trained in western medicine-Charles Eastman and Carlos Montezuma. In addition, it was highly unusual at this time for a woman to become a doctor.  

Susan LaFlesche was born on the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska in 1865. Her father was Joseph LaFlesche who had become the principal chief of the Omaha in 1854. Her father was what the Americans called “progressive” as he favored adopting American ways. He refused to allow his four daughters to be tattooed in the Omaha fashion as he wanted them to be able to freely mingle in Euro-American society. He also encouraged the Omaha to build houses in the American style.

One aspect of American society which Joseph LaFlesche opposed was alcohol. In 1856 he established an Indian police force for the purpose of eliminating alcohol on the reservation.

Joseph LaFlesche was the son of a French fur trader and a Ponca woman. When he married an Omaha woman he was formally adopted into the Omaha Elk clan and was thus considered to be Omaha.

Susan grew up speaking both Omaha and English. One of her brothers, Francis, became an ethnologist with the Bureau of American Ethnography; one sister, Susette, became an outspoken and well-known Indian rights activist; and another sister, Marguerite, became an educator.

Susan’s formal education began in the Presbyterian Mission School on the Omaha Reservation. In 1879, Susan and her sister Marguerite entered the Elizabeth Institute for Young Ladies in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

She returned to the Omaha Reservation in 1882 and worked at the mission school. Among her duties was teaching some of the younger students.

In 1884, Susan and Marguerite enrolled in the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Hampton, Virginia. Hampton had been established for the education of free slaves and welcomed Indian students. Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the founder of the Hampton Institute, wrote about educating Indian children: “Savages have good memories; they acquire but do not comprehend; they devour but do not digest knowledge. They have no conception of mental discipline.”

She graduated from Hampton in 1886 and was the salutatorian at the graduation ceremony.

Susan had always wanted to become a doctor and her teachers encouraged her to go on to medical school. However, the cost of medical school was a significant barrier. The Connecticut Indian Association agreed to pay for most of her education and they persuaded the Indian Office (as the Bureau of Indian Affairs was then called) to continue to provide some support.

The Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia admitted Susan as a beneficiary student. It was unusual for women at this time, let alone Indian women, to enroll in medical school. Medical education was strictly segregated by gender.

Susan graduated in 1889 at the head of a class of 36 women. She returned to Nebraska as the physician at the government boarding school. She was soon seeing adults as well as children as she spoke their language. When the government physician left, she was placed in charge of the health care for the 1,244 tribal members.

In 1891, influenza struck the reservation. Traveling throughout the rural area of the reservation, she treated 114 patients in a single month. Travel from house to house was generally by horse and buggy and often over rough terrain. If the patient was only a mile or two away, she would often walk.

In 1893, she resigned from her position as the government physician to the reservation. Her health had declined to the point where she felt she could no longer do the work required. The following year she became engaged to Henry Picotte (Sioux), the brother of her sister Maguerite’s late husband.

Like her father, she was concerned about the impact of alcohol on the Omaha people. Like many women of this time-both Indian and non-Indian-she became involved with the temperance movement. She wrote: “Men and women died from alcoholism, and little children were seen reeling on the streets of the town. Drunken brawls in which men were killed occurred and no person’s life was considered safe.”

Her concern for alcohol became much more personal as her husband’s drinking increased. In 1905 her husband died from complications from drinking. She was left as the sole support of an invalid mother and two small children.

The following year, she purchased a house lot in the newly formed town of Walthill, an alcohol-free area, and built a modern home. She moved into this home with her two children and her mother.

Even though she was no longer the government physician for the reservation, she continued to help the people with her medical skills. She was one of the organizers of the Thurston County Medical Association and advocated for a hospital in Walthill. The hospital became a reality in 1913 and was opened for the treatment of both Indian and non-Indian patients.

Susan LaFlesche Picotte died in 1915 at the age of 50. The hospital which she helped to create was renamed in her honor.  

News from Native American Netroots

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

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

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Uranium licenses are upheld by a split federal appeals court




DENVER – Uranium mining, banned on the Navajo Nation, advanced closer to tribal boundaries when the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing of in situ leach uranium mining at four sites near Crownpoint and Church Rock in New Mexico.

The split decision by a three-judge panel March 8 also denied a request for review of one of the sites near Church Rock where Hydro Resources, Inc., whose parent company is Uranium Resources Inc., has a joint venture with Itochu, a Tokyo-headquartered transnational, to begin producing an estimated six to nine million pounds of uranium annually from New Mexico.

Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining, a Navajo community organization; Southwest Research and Information Center, a nonprofit environmental education organization; and two local ranchers were joined by the Navajo Nation in a friend-of-the-court brief asserting that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission violated atomic energy and environmental laws in granting the license.



Oglala Sioux Tribe picks Nebraska site for new nursing home




Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls announced Monday the construction of a new nursing home in Nebraska for members of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Two Bulls said the architectural drawings were being prepared, and financing for the nursing home is well on its way to being approved.

“We expect to begin construction sometime this spring, with the completion date in the fall of 2011,” she said.

She said the new facility would house 60 to 70 residents only minutes away from downtown Pine Ridge Village. The facility will sit on 40 acres of tribal land, provide 100 jobs with a variety of skill sets and create jobs for Native Americans.



Program aims to find American Indian victims of radiation exposure




Flagstaff, Ariz. » The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking the help of students to identify American Indians who might be victims of radiation exposure.

Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act in 1990, authorizing funding for people who worked in the uranium mining industry or nuclear weapons testing between 1942 and 1971 and contracted cancer or other diseases from radon exposure.

Most applications are filed by people living in the Four Corners region, but American Indian tradition and customs can make successful claims difficult.

Students can hear more about the part-time internships at Northern Arizona University on March 29, the University of New Mexico in Gallup on March 30 and at Dine College in Shiprock, N.M., on March 31.



Turnover negates boost to tribal police efforts




WASHINGTON – Native American reservations continue to lack adequate police protection, despite federal and tribal efforts to beef up their forces.

High turnover fueled by poor pay and high stress have worsened an epidemic of crime in tribal nations already compounded by a lack of money to hire officers and training programs to certify them, officials told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Thursday.

About 3,000 police officers – a force smaller than the police department of Washington, D.C. – patrol 56 million acres of Indian Country. That’s barely half the level to meet adequate staffing levels, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. That has contributed to violent crime rates that are 2 1/4 times the national average.



Study to examine tribal justice




WASHINGTON – The watchdog arm of Congress will examine justice on Indian reservations to see how well federal authorities work with tribal leaders to address crime rates that are among the highest in the nation.

The Government Accountability Office agreed to do the study at the behest of Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who represent states with some of the country’s largest – and least-protected – reservations. They expect to report back to the Senate by November.



Sherman Alexie wins 2010 Pen/Faulkner fiction prize for “War Dances”




“War Dances” by novelist Sherman Alexie has won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the organizers announced Tuesday.

The prestigious annual award, presented by the Washington-based PEN/Faulkner Foundation, was given to Alexie because of his book’s breadth of topics and innovative style, judges said. “War Dances” consists of short stories interspersed with poems.



US human rights record challenged




The Haudenosaunee Confederacy – the oldest continuous democratic government in North America – has long argued that Indian nations should not expect to win justice from colonizing governments, and instead must act as sovereign nations taking their quest for justice to the United Nations and its human rights mechanisms.

Though it claims to be a defender of human rights around the world, the United States is among the worst offenders of Native peoples’ rights, judging by statistics that indicate Indian women are the most raped and abused in the nation, while rampant poverty, disease, crime and unemployment are a way of life on reservations.



Guardian Angels starting first reservation chapter




HELENA, Mont. – Fed up with growing gang violence, Montana tribal leaders this weekend will start the first-ever American Indian reservation chapter of the Guardian Angels.

The new chapter of the citizens’ crime-watch group — whose members are known by their red berets in New York, Chicago and other U.S. cities — will begin training about 50 recruits on the rural Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The sprawling reservation on the plains of eastern Montana is home to 6,000 of the approximately 10,000 enrolled members of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes.

Chauncey Whitwright III, vice chairman of the Wolf Point Community Organization, said the children of the 3,200-square-mile reservation are vulnerable to gangs that have crept in from the outside.



Lawmakers advance bill to start $100K fund for Whiteclay




Lawmakers in Nebraska voted 25-15 to advance a bill that would create a $100,000 fund to address problems in and around Whiteclay.

Four liquor stores in the town sell 4.1 million cans of beer a year. Most of the customers are from the nearby Oglala Sioux Tribe. The fund represents a portion of tax revenues generated by liquor sales at Whiteclay. According to KELO-TV, the stores make $3 million a year. The fund could be used for law enforcement, health and other programs. The bill still needs to gain final approval.



RI Indians want valuable Navy property in Newport




NEWPORT, R.I. – Hundreds of prime acres are up for grabs in this waterfront city and its neighboring towns, valuable commodity on an island known for prized beaches, lavish homes and natural beauty.

The 260 acres on Aquidneck Island were for decades owned by the U.S. Navy, which says it no longer needs the land and is moving to unload it. The island communities envision the property as untapped economic potential for sweeping new development.

But another suitor — the Narragansett Indian Tribe — says the land falls under its ancestral footprint and is mounting a bid that may conflict with local development plans.



Earth lodge at archway builds bond




KEARNEY, Neb. – When the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma returns to Kearney for a powwow in June, its members will be getting building lessons from their long lost cousins, the Arikara of North Dakota.

Plans are rapidly coming together to build an authentic earth lodge near the Great Platte River Road Archway.

Decades ago, some American Indian tribes of Nebraska occupied earth lodges built of saplings, earth and sod stacked over frames of heavy timbers.



Grant to fund high-speed Internet on Navajo Nation




ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The federal government is investing more than $32 million in stimulus funds to help the nation’s largest American Indian reservation, the Navajo Nation, build a high-speed Internet highway that will connect thousands of homes and businesses across the sprawling reservation.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the grant Thursday, saying Navajo communities in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah will benefit.

Locke says 60 percent of homes on the reservation lack basic telephone service and many Navajo communities have unemployment levels that exceed 40 percent.



Stewart Udall, former Interior secretary, dies




WASHINGTON – Stewart Udall, U.S. Interior secretary during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, has passed away at 90. He was the last original Cabinet member of the Kennedy era.

According to a statement from his son, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., he died March 20 in his home in Santa Fe, N.M., surrounded by his children. Natural causes after a fall were cited as the reason.

Udall was born Jan. 31, 1920, in St. Johns, Ariz. Before serving in the executive branch, he was a member of Congress. He and several of his family members have been advocates for Native American issues both inside and outside of government.



New face at the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs




DENVER – Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, chair of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, has announced the appointment of Carol Harvey, Navajo, a former energy attorney, as the new CCIA executive secretary.

The CCIA head acts as liaison between the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes, the urban Indian population and state of Colorado. Harvey replaces Ernest House Jr., Ute Mountain Ute, who resigned Jan. 22 to become director of governmental affairs for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Harvey, a veteran of 28 years in legal work for the oil and gas industry, comes to the CCIA from a law practice in Santa Fe, N.M. Her MBA and JD degrees are from the University of Denver, where she also obtained undergraduate degrees in political science and economics.



Building Strong Sovereign Nations




Tribal Goverance Training Conference



Mich. Gov. Granholm Instructs Mich. AG Cox to Defend Obama Health Care Program




It’s not Indian law, but it is pretty amazing……



Native Stations Directory




Native Americans have built a strong network of 33 public radio stations that provide a lifeline to their communities. These stations bring a contemporary voice, often in Native languages, that evokes the oral traditions of a cultural heritage centuries in the making.

Native radio is local radio. It reaches vast stretches of tribal lands that still hold pockets of villages and isolated homes, some without electricity. Radio’s portability and 24/7 presence help Native stations carry the information that no other media is there to deliver.



Records in Arizona sweat lodge case offer details




PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) – Documents released Thursday in the case of a motivational speaker charged with manslaughter expand on the already wide range of experiences participants reported having during an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony.

James Arthur Ray, who led the ceremony as part of his “Spiritual Warrior” retreat, faces manslaughter charges in the deaths of three people who entered the sweat lodge near Sedona last year, and suffered heat stroke and hyperthermia. Ray has pleaded not guilty.

The more than 50 people inside the pitch-black sweat lodge all could be called to testify during Ray’s trial slated to begin Aug. 31. Prosecutors also have identified as potential witnesses more than two dozen other people who attended past events led by Ray and about 10 people who worked for him.

Twelve jurors could end up hearing more than 55 days of testimony from witnesses.



New report details renewable energy resources on tribal lands




The New Energy Future in Indian Country: Confronting Climate Change,

Creating Jobs, and Conserving Nature

Washington, DC (March 23) – Indian Tribes are disproportionately bearing the brunt of climate change. But the huge potential on tribal lands to generate clean energy from renewable resources presents tribes with the opportunity to be a significant part of the solution through climate policy that creates green jobs and protects natural resources, detailed in a new report.

“Tribal households pay significantly more in home energy expenses than other Americans,” said Bob Gruenig, senior policy analyst, National Tribal Environmental Council. “The vast potential on tribal lands to generate clean energy from renewable resources means that Indian Tribes can help to provide for their own energy needs, generate clean power for a new energy future in Indian Country, and put American on the path to energy independence.”



Snippets of History




Friday, March 26, 2010

On this day in 1958, the White Alice or the frozen north ALaska Integrated Communications and Electronic system began operating. Alaska Native people participated in the U.S. Air Force project that was built to enhance defense and provide telephone and telegraph service to the Alaskan public.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

During this week in 2009, the White House announced President Obama intended to nominate Dr. Yvette Roubideaux as leader of the Indian Health Service. The Rosebud Sioux member was nominated and confirmed as Director of the IHS and currently oversees the agency that serves nearly two million people across the country.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On this day in 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. The spill had devastating impacts on subsistence resources for Alaska Native people and commercial fishers. Court battles led to compensation for victims nearly two decades after the spill.

Monday, March 22, 2010

During this month in 1909, the Navajo National Monument was established. Three intact cliff dwellings are preserved at the site in Arizona. Various groups have lived in the Four Corners region for thousands of years. Most of the remains date between 700 and 1500 years ago.

                red_black_rug_design2

Quanah Parker: A Texas Hero?

Seventh-graders in Texas are supposed to be introduced to the historical figure Quanah Parker, a Comanche military leader and a leader in the Native American church. Teaching history in Texas, and in many other parts of the United States, is intended to instill in the students a sense of patriotism, loyalty, and nationalism.

Cynthia Dunbar of the Texas State Board of Education has stated:

We as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world.

Source: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/…

The Board has written new educational standards to emphasize the Christian and English-speaking heritage of Texas and of the United States. The story of Quanah Parker seems to be at odds with these standards unless a new biography is invented for him. His mother, Cynthia Parker, is to be omitted from the seventh-grade education. As a non-Indian captured by the Indians she resisted repatriation and preferred to remain with her adopted people. This does not fit into the image of American superiority that some people would like to believe.

What follows is a short biography of Quanah Parker. This biography has not been authorized by the Texas Board of Education.  

Perhaps the most famous Comanche chief is Quanah Parker, the son of Cynthia Ann Parker and Chief Peta Nocono. He was born about 1845. As a youngster, Quanah was noted for his superb horse riding abilities, his bravery, and his leadership.

Quanah’s brother and his father were killed by Texans and his mother was kidnapped by them and died among them in captivity. Thus Quanah had some hatred of the Euroamericans who were invading Comanche lands.

Quanah joined the Kwahadie band whose territory was in the Texas panhandle area. In 1867 he became one of the band’s war chiefs.

While the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 called for the Comanche (meaning all of the Comanche bands, including those not represented at the treaty council) to take up residence and be confined to a reservation between the Washita and Red Rivers in present-day Oklahoma, some of the bands refused to give up their nomadic ways. As a consequence, the army moved in and began a campaign to pacify the southern plains. This war was aimed primarily at the Southern Cheyenne, Southern Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche.

In 1868, the army attacked and defeated a combined group of Kiowa and Comanche at the Battle of Soldier Spring. The soldiers burned the tipis and destroyed the Indians’ food, driving the Indians out on the plains to die in the winter weather.

In 1871, 600 American soldiers marched against the Comanche in Texas and Oklahoma. The military objective was to find and defeat the bands under the leadership of Quanah Parker, He Bear, Wild Horse, and Bull Elk who had refused to sign the 1867 Medicine Lodge treaty and move them to the reservation.

In 1871, Quanah Parker led two charges against the army at the Battle of the Staked Plain in the Texas panhandle. In the first charge, Quanah and his warriors hit the army camp at Rock Station where they stampeded and captured many army horses. In a second attack, Quanah’s warriors defeated a scouting party. The army called off their pursuit of the “hostile” bands until spring.

The following fall, the army defeated the Kotsoteka band under the leadership of Mow-way, killing at least 30 Comanche and capturing 124. However, the Kwahadie Comanche (including Quanah Parker) and the Kiowa remained at large.

The free Indian bands on the Southern Plains also had a second concern: non-Indian buffalo hunters were slaughtering thousands of buffalo on Indian land and the buffalo were becoming scarce. In 1874, the Indians began a war known as the Buffalo War or the Red River War against these buffalo hunters. To assure the participation of the Southern Cheyenne, Southern Arapaho, and Kiowa in the war, Comanche medicineman Isatai held a Sun Dance, a ceremony which was not traditional to the Comanche but which was (and still is) important to the other tribes.

Quanah Parker was one of the leaders of an allied force of about 700 Indian warriors who attacked 28 buffalo hunters at Adobe Walls in the Texas panhandle. The American buffalo hunters, however, were armed with long range repeating rifles and managed to kill 15 warriors and repel the attack.

During the months following the battle at Adobe Walls, the Comanche, as well as the Kiowa under the leadership of Lone Wolf, Mamanti, and Big Bow, and the Southern Cheyenne under the leadership of Bull Bear, carried out a series of raids against American settlements. In response, the U.S. Army launched a massive campaign. At the battle of Duro Canyon, the army captured or killed most of the Indian’s horses (estimated at 1,500) and destroyed most of their tipis.

In 1875, Quanah Parker’s Comanche, starving and war-weary, turned themselves in to the reservation. This marked the beginning of a new period in Quanah’s life.

On the reservation, Quanah identified himself with his mother’s American last name (Parker) and became useful because of his fluency in English and Spanish. By 1878, he was the spokesman for the Kwahadie band when it met in council with the Indian agents. He advocated the leasing of surplus pasture areas for grazing rights and for rights-of-way, and he worked deals with American cattlemen. He became a prosperous rancher.

From 1886 to 1898, Quanah Parker was one of three judges on the Court of Indian Offenses for the Comanche, Kiowa, Apache, and Wichita. One of the American concerns regarding the Indians at this time was polygyny-the marriage of one man to more than one woman at a time-and Quanah Parker had five wives. This caused friction with the American Indian agents and so he eventually lost his job as judge.

In 1890 Quanah Parker was recognized by the American government as the principal chief of all the Comanche bands. As the main Comanche leader, he not only negotiated with treaty councils, but he also made nearly 20 trips to Washington, D.C. to negotiate Indian issues.

As with all Oklahoma tribes during this time, the Comanche were under pressure by the government to divest themselves of their lands through allotment or sale. In 1892, Quanah Parker signed an agreement to sell “surplus” reservation lands. Many of the Comanche disagreed with this sale and they blamed Quanah Parker for the loss of reservation lands.

On several occasions, Quanah Parker traveled to Washington, D.C. to argue against opening Comanche lands to non-Indian settlement.

In 1890, Quanah Parker also discovered the Peyote Road and became a participant in and advocate for the Native American Church. He helped spread the Peyote Road to other tribes.

In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide “a touch of color” for his inaugural parade by providing some Indians. The BIA provided Geronimo (Apache), Quanah Parker (Comanche), American Horse (Sioux), Hollow Horn Bear (Sioux), Little Plume (Blackfoot), and Buckskin Charley (Ute). The old men rode painted ponies in full regalia. Behind them came a troop of marching Carlisle Indian students. Throughout the parade route, they were greeted with war whoops and similar derisive shouts from the crowd.

To counteract some of the misconceptions about the use of peyote in the Native American Church, Quanah Parker met with the Medical Committee of the Oklahoma State Constitutional Convention in 1909. He managed to convince them that peyote was not harmful and that it was necessary for their religious services.

Quanah Parker died in 1911. He was buried next to his mother’s grave in a funeral which was attended by about 1,500 people.  

Rosebud Tribal Chairman’s Feb 09 Statement

While trying to find a transcript for the March 25, 2010 Senate Indian Affairs hearing I found this:

HEARING before the COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS UNITED STATES SENATE ONE HUNDRED ELEVENTH CONGRESS FIRST SESSION

                              ———-                              

                          FEBRUARY 26, 2009

                              ———-                              

        Printed for the use of the Committee on Indian Affairs

                   YOUTH SUICIDE IN INDIAN COUNTRY

                            ____

Prepared Statement of Rodney Bordeaux, President, Rosebud Sioux Tribe

Introduction

   On behalf of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, I appreciate

the opportunity to submit written testimony regarding the youth suicide

crisis occurring on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation. The 877,831-

acre Rosebud Reservation is located in south-central South Dakota

consisting of 20 communities within a four county area (Tripp, Todd,

Mellette and Gregory counties) and borders Pine Ridge to the northwest

corner and Nebraska to the south. Our tribal headquarters is located in

Rosebud, SD. Approximately 19,000 members of approximately 26,000

members are domiciled on the Rosebud Reservation.

   I, thank you for convening this important hearing on youth suicide

in Indian Country. Sadly, the Rosebud Reservation has tragically lost

many of our youth and young people to suicide completions. From January

2005 through January 2009 Rosebud has had 37 suicide completions, 617

suicide attempts, and 629 suicidal ideations. Indian Health Service

(I.H.S.) reported 1,272 encounters with different individuals who have

completed, attempted or had suicidal ideation. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe

has the highest suicide rate in the nation for 10-24 year old males.

These are alarming statistics originating from our Reservation. I look

forward to working with you and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in

addressing and bringing further awareness to this crisis, which is

devastating our communities and Indian Country.

   I need to emphasize that Rosebud is working to develop and provide

cultural suicide prevention and youth programs. However, we have an

overwhelming need for resources to provide these programs. We have

developed programs to assist with basic public safety and awareness,

substance abuse and mental health, as well as the Boys and Girls Clubs

on the Reservation. Additionally, we are supporting our families and

communities through our cultural and educational programs.

Wiconi Wakan Health and Healing Center

   Rosebud is located in a rural, remote area of Indian Country and

relies heavily on funding from the I.H.S. and Bureau of Indian Affairs

(BIA) to provide services and resources to our tribal members. Due to

I.H.S. and BIA being consistently under-funded, we have turned to our

Congressional delegation for assistance in procuring additional

resources for substance abuse and mental health treatment facilities

and equipment. Rosebud identified a need to create a culturally-based

suicide prevention treatment program and facility specific to our

tribe.

   Rosebud has worked diligently for nine years to obtain funding, to

build the current 20-bed treatment facility for mental health, which

has been open for three years. It remains necessary to develop

additional youth programs to assist in recovery and rehabilitation.

Therefore, Rosebud is establishing the Wiconi Wakan (Sacredness of

Life) Health and Healing Center, a place to implement the Tribal Youth

Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Project plan targeting

Rosebud children and youth (ages 10-24 years old) on the Rosebud

Reservation.

   Inherently our youth are sacred and a vital asset to the people of

the Sicangu Lakota Oyate. Suicide has created a destructive ripple in

the very structure of our Lakota Oyate. The effects of suicide will be

felt for generations. The Wiconi Wakan Health and Healing Center will

provide a venue for reviving the life of our people.

   The Wiconi Wakan Health and Healing Center will significantly

contribute to the available scientific knowledge on the mental health

status and delivery of services to children and youth on the Rosebud

Reservation regarding Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention and Intervention

and will provide a valuable template for replication by other Tribal

communities throughout the country. Rosebud has developed a Suicide

Prevention plan to advocate and coordinate a culturally comprehensive

community-based approach to reduce suicidal behaviors and suicides in

the Sicangu Lakota communities while facilitating wellness.

   The primary purposes of the Wiconi Wakan Health and Healing Center

is to strengthen, implement and develop culturally and linguistically

appropriate youth suicide prevention and early intervention services

for Rosebud tribal members. This level of intervention will include

screening programs, gatekeeper training for “frontline” adult

caregivers and peer “natural helpers,” support and skill building

groups for at-risk Rosebud youth, and enhanced accessible crisis

services and referrals sources. To be directly informed by parents,

youth, and providers within the Rosebud Reservation. To increase

awareness of the signs of suicide amongst community, parents, and

youth, working collaboratively with other agencies, providers and

organizations sharing information and resources by promoting awareness

that suicide is preventable.

   Rosebud will implement the public health approach to suicide

prevention as outlined in the Institute of Medicine Report, “Reducing

Suicide: A National Imperative.” This approach focuses on identifying

broader patterns of suicide and suicidal behavior, which will be useful

in analyzing data collected and monitoring the effectiveness of

services provided. Rosebud will focus on methodology research on

suicide and suicide prevention by providing consistent leadership and

monitoring of suicide prevention activities.

Collaborative Effort

   Recognizing our overwhelming need, the Department of Health and

Human Services (HHS) deployed officials from the I.H.S. to spend

extended lengths of time on our Reservation and address our youth

suicide crisis.

   Dr. Kevin McGuinness, Ph.D., MS, JD, ABPP and Dr. Rose Weahkee

visited the Rosebud reservation for a second time from December 4th to

December 18th 2008. During this visit they worked collaboratively with

Victor Douville, Sinte Gleska University Instructor and Lori Walking

Eagle, MSW, Executive Administrative Officer for the RST–President’s

office. Discussions were held regarding systemic influences from the

micro to the macro level within the Reservation systems. The

Consultation process focused on cultural systems of wellness, cross

cultural sharing of knowledge regarding organizational operations and

development of systems with the expertise of Rosebud Tribal leadership

to integrate “Wolakota” as a principal intervention that will restore

balance through the tribe and its communities to its most vulnerable

members. The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council will participate and attend a

retreat which will enhance traditional knowledge.

Wiconi Wakan “Sacredness of Life” Suicide Prevention Summit

   On July 1-2, 2008, Rosebud hosted the, “Wiconi Wakan Suicide

Prevention Summit,” in Mission SD at the Sinte Gleska University.

While I convened the Summit that morning, our community was burying

another youth, which further emphasized the need to discuss and address

this crisis affecting our people and communities. Representatives from

the South Dakota delegation, state, local, and federal government

officials including South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds’ Secretary of

the Department of Human Service, the Director of the South Dakota

Indian Health Care Initiative, HHS Director of Office of

Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Services Administration (SAMHSA) Administrator as well as other

officials from the I.H.S. and HHS along with tribal leaders, members,

and youth attended and participated, providing experiences and insight

in preventing future youth suicide.

   As a result of the Summit, the South Dakota Secretary of the

Department of Human Services, Jerry Hofer, committed the state to

opening more of its SAMHSA grants and resources to Rosebud. The state

currently receives a Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act grant from SAMHSA,

which is also known as the “Suicide Awareness Partnership Project,”

from the State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention

Program. For three years, $400,000 is given annually to the state. At

the time of the Summit, Mr. Hofer indicated that the state is in its

2nd year of the grant. The purpose of the Suicide Awareness Partnership

Project is to reduce suicide attempts and completions in South Dakota

for youths aged 14-24 in 25 high schools and two universities. Mr.

Hofer reported that the Todd Country School District and St. Francis

Indian School, both located on the Rosebud Reservation whom serve our

youth, are pilot schools in the project as is the Sinte Gleska

University. Mr. Hofer reported that the state has specifically

contracted with the Sinte Gleska University to provide awareness and

prevention activities on the Rosebud Reservation.

   Rosebud is extremely appreciative of the state providing resources

to our schools and youth through the SAMHSA grant. We understand that

the grant will be nearing its three-year term and are concerned as to

how these programs will continue to operate once the grant is

exhausted. We have overwhelming needs in our communities including a

need for additional resources to build upon and expand on these

imperative programs to ensure our youth are given opportunities for

suicide prevention. At Risk Tribes should be allowed to receive block

grants like the states from SAMHSA.

   None of the Block Grant funding reaches the tribal government for

program development and suicide prevention efforts. Currently, the Red

Lake Band of Chippewa (Minnesota) are the only federally recognized

tribe included with the States that receive Block Grant Funding.

Regarding our current suicide crisis the Rosebud Sioux Tribe should be

allocated and allowed to receive Block Grant Funding to eliminate

suicides on our Reservation. Because of our Government to Government

relationship which we enjoy with the federal government we should not

be restricted from receiving Block Grant Funding. Due to the high rate

of suicides in Indian Country Block Grants should be available to those

tribes experiencing the loss of their youth to suicides.

Need for Resources to Provide Programs to our Youth

   Rosebud has several programs to provide activities and resources to

our youth. However, in each of these areas, funding resources are

continually problematic for the viability and expansion of the

programs. We need a major infusion of funding to serve and support

youth in our communities to further their skill sets and provide for

training and increase opportunities.

   I will now outline several programs which have been proven to be

effective for our tribal youth.

–Sicangu Nation Employment and Training Program (SNETP)

   The Sicangu Nation Employment and Training Program serves’ our

youth in the following areas: work experience, on-the-job training, and

classroom training. The SNETP receives approximately $208,148 annually

to serve the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and approximately 20% of the Crow

Creek Sioux Tribe youth.

   Additionally, the SNETP has developed and implemented several

unique programs which serve our tribal youth:

 –Youth Conservation Corp–a collaborative effort with

       Rosebud, Yankton, Standing Rock, and Cheyenne River Sioux

       Tribes with the U.S. Forest Service–allows our youth to gain

       experience in the forestry field while spending time in our

       sacred Black Hills area;

 –Straw Bale Home Initiative–teaches our youth how to build a

       straw bale home from start to finish in collaboration with the

       SNETP and Sicangu Wicoti Awayankapi (Housing Authority). This

       program operates on a “green works” concept; serving the dual

       purpose of providing for less-expensive homes, and meeting

       Reservation housing shortage needs.

 –Habitat for Humanities–teaches our youth to build a

       standard home earning a one-year building credit certificate at

       our local university. Upon obtaining the one-year certificate,

       our youth are offered full-time employment with the housing

       authority;

 –Penn Foster Online High School Diploma Program–allows our

       youth (18 to 21 years old) to obtain their high school diploma

       online.

–Solar Heat Panel Training and Installation–a collaborative

       effort by the SNETP and Sicangu Wicoti Awayankapi teaches youth

       a “green works” concept that conserves our natural resources

       while utilizing solar energy to heat homes.

   During the summer of 2008, the SNETP received 689 summer youth

applications only 200 youths could be served due to funding

constraints. Over two-thirds of interested students reaching out for

assistance had to be turned away. Increased funding for the SNETP’s

youth employment program could have a major, positive impact on our

tribal youth, especially with the high number of suicides that our

community has experienced in the past few years. Increased funding will

provide for additional resources to extend to the overwhelming number

of youth we have been unable to serve. We strive to keep our youth

occupied by increasing services in the form of employment, incentives

for accomplishments, and supportive services in their endeavors to

overcome barriers.

–Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training Sessions

   Rosebud received funding in 2008 for CERT Training Sessions for our

youth, which were extremely effective in training, providing knowledge

and skill sets regarding emergency medical response and preparedness.

Rosebud held two sessions of CERT training, which trained over 100

youth in our communities. The tribal youth that were trained under this

program developed important set of skills which led to aiding tribal

members in emergency medical situations and prevention. Rosebud has a

major need to continue providing this vital training opportunity for

our tribal youth. The CERT Training prepares our youth for emergencies

and events for when our Emergency Medical Services arrive on the scene.

The training empowers our tribal youth to seek medical positions.

Having trained tribal youth in our communities provides increased

medical and public safety, especially in light of our expansive rural

Reservation. Rosebud greatly supports this program and seeks to receive

additional funding to serve more of our tribal youth.

–Boys and Girls Clubs

   To be completely effective in helping prevent youth suicide we need

Boys and Girls Club centers in all 20 of our communities. Rosebud has

20 communities on the Reservation, but there are only three small Boys

and Girls Clubs. Despite this fact, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Boys and

Girls Club plays’ an important role in providing activities and a

central place for our youth to gather. To fully reach all of our tribal

youth on the Reservation, we need funding to provide additional

recreational facilities, activities and programs for all of our

communities.

Conclusion

   Rosebud understands and has intimately experienced the devastation

youth suicide has on our families, communities, and Tribe. With 37

suicide completions in less than five years, Rosebud is deeply

concerned and focused on preventing suicides on our Reservation.

Although we are working to develop and expand our programs by

incorporating culturally-based components and curriculums, funding and

resources remain a major obstacle. The federal government has a trust

responsibility to Tribes, and Rosebud greatly appreciates the

collaborative efforts among the state and federal government. However,

we still have major needs and funding deficiencies that must be

addressed. To increase the number of highly-trained individuals

specialized in suicide prevention for each of our communities would be

monumental in addressing our crisis.

   We need additional resources and flexibility in the use of funding

to provide, create, and maintain programs that incorporate culturally-

based components that connect and are tailored for our youth. Tribes

need access to resources, trained health care professionals, and

prevention programs to adequately address this crisis that continues to

plague our Reservation.

   Thank you, for holding this very important hearing for Indian

Country, giving us the opportunity to express our views and concerns

regarding tribal youth suicide.

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.go…

Posted in Uncategorized

The Republic of Texas and the Comanche Indians

With the new standards recently adopted by the Texas Board of Education which appear to emphasize the historical accomplishments of English-speaking Christians, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the forgotten (or at least ignored) history of Texas: the relationship between the short-lived Republic of Texas and some of the Indian nations within its territory.

In an earlier diary I looked at Texas and the Cherokee and in this diary I’m going to look at the Comanche.  

Prior to the birth of the Republic of Texas, the Comanche had actively raided against all intruders into their lands: the Spanish, Mexicans, American expatriates, and other tribes. They had a reputation as fierce warriors and the very name “Comanche” often struck a chord of fear in the hearts of non-Indians.

Like the Mexicans before them, the Texans at times attempted to negotiate treaties with the Comanche and at other times they tried to militarily drive them out or exterminate them.

In 1838, the Comanche signed a treaty with the Republic of Texas. The treaty called for the Comanche to surrender their sovereignty and to visit the Texas capital on the second Monday every October to talk with the President. Signing the treaty for the Comanche were Muguara, Muestyah (also known as Puestia), and Muhy.

The following year, a Lipan Apache hunting party found a Comanche village on a tributary of the San Saba River and reported it to the Texans. A group of 60 Texans and 16 Lipan Apache under the leadership of Chief Castro attacked the village, catching the Comanche by surprise. When the Texans stopped to reload, their horses were run off and they were surrounded by several hundred Comanche. At a pause in the firing, the Comanche approached the Texans under a white flag. They proposed to trade their Texan prisoners for the Comanche taken in the initial attack. However, the Comanche prisoners had already been killed by the Lipan Apache.

In 1839, a force of 60 Texas Rangers attacked a band of about 20 Comanche buffalo hunters. The Comanche fled and easily outdistanced the Rangers. The Rangers, however, continued their pursuit and soon their captain noticed that the Comanche seemed to be getting more numerous. The Ranger captain became alarmed at this observation. He halted the reckless pursuit and turned about in retreat. Too late he discovered that he had now made the ultimate error in Comanche warfare. The 20 Comanche buffalo hunters were now 200 warriors who were in pursuit of the Rangers. From a ravine, the Rangers were able to fend off the Comanche because they are able to shoot from cover. While the Comanche warriors could easily have wiped out the whole company, the cost in blood was too high.

In 1840, an incident known as the Council House Affair took place in San Antonio. Comanche leader Muguara with 65 men, women, and children came to San Antonio under a flag of truce. The Comanche came to trade, bringing with them many horses and furs and one captive. The Texans, on the other hand, wanted to meet to discuss the release of women and children who had been captured by the Comanche during the past 10 years. Many of the children who had been raised as Comanche had no desire to return to their biological parents’ people.

Twelve Comanche men, described by the Texans as chiefs, met with the Texans in the Council House on the plaza. When the Texans demanded that more captives be returned, Muguara denied that his band had any more. Soldiers surrounded the council house and attempted to take the Comanche prisoners to exchange for prisoners held by the Comanche. As the Comanche tried to escape, the Texans killed them. In the end, 35 Comanche were killed and 27 women and children and two old men were taken captive.

One Comanche woman was sent back to the Comanche camps to secure the release of the other captives. She returned with two Texan and five Mexican captives whom she attempted to trade for her relatives. The Texans released an equal number of Comanche captives in exchange.

The Comanche were outraged by the killing of their chiefs under a flag of truce. In Comanche culture, a council was sacred. To talk in time of peace, especially after smoking the pipe, meant to tell the truth. To fight in council, however, was considered offensive to the spirit world.

In retaliation for the Texan betrayal of the council, Buffalo Hump led a war party of 500 warriors through Texas, burning homes and killing hundreds.

The Comanche surrounded the town of Victoria. They killed a number of black slaves who were working in the fields outside of the town. While some of the houses were attacked and set on fire, the Comanche decided that the cost of the battle was too much and continued on the war path toward the Gulf.

The Comanche warriors then attacked the small port settlement of Linnville. Here they captured a number of women, including the granddaughter of Daniel Boone. In Linnville, the Comanche found a warehouse filled with goods and they spent the day looting the town. They packed great quantities of goods on pack mules and began the slow journey home.

The Texas Rangers and Texas Militia caught up with the slow-moving Comanche column at Plum Creek. While the Comanche warriors managed to avoid a fight for a while, the Texans soon attacked the main body and routed them. Eighty warriors were killed and the Comanche lose all of their loot.

In another incident in 1840, a Comanche group encountered a small patrol of Texas Rangers on Walker’s Creek near the Guadalupe River. The Comanche dismounted and shouted taunts at the Texans. The Texans attempted to slip around and attack the Comanche from the rear, but quickly found themselves surrounded and having to fight their way out. Fending off the Comanche from a refuge in the woods, the Rangers managed to kill the Comanche chief. The Comanche retreated and were pursued by the Rangers.

The Walker’s Creek fight is purported to be the first combat test of the Colt revolver. A number of versions of the story see this battle as the first time the Comanche warriors had encountered the new weapon and that it was so effective that the warriors retreated. However, many of the Comanche warriors and leaders had actually seen the Colt revolver demonstrated the year before. In addition, the reliability of the new revolvers was somewhat less than the Colt myth would have it.

In 1842, Texas made another attempt at securing peace with the Comanche. The Texans sent a delegation to find Comanche chief Pahayuko and to persuade him to come to a peace conference at Bird’s Fort. The delegation included the Waco chief Acahquash and his wife, several Delaware guides, and two Comanche children. The delegation was not, however, well organized and was therefore delayed in making contact with the Comanche.

After an initial meeting with the Texans, Pahayuko went into council with the chiefs and warriors. A number of the warriors, particularly those who had lost relatives at the Council House fight, advocated retaliation first, then peace. Acahquash addressed the council and explained that the head chief of Texas was not the same as the chief who ruled at the time of the Council House fight and that the new chief wished friendship with the Comanche.

The following day, the leader of the Texas delegation was allowed to meet with the council. He presented a pipe (the Alamo Council Pipe), but Pahayuko refused to smoke with him. However, at the end of the council, Pahayuko agreed to meet with the Texans again, this time with all of the Comanche chiefs, in order to negotiate a firm and lasting peace.

In 1844, Delaware scouts John Conner and Jim Shaw made contact with the Comanche on the Clear Fork of the Bazos. They invited Comanche chiefs Old Owl and Buffalo Hump to meet with the Texans in council. While Old Own readily agreed, Buffalo Hump was somewhat reluctant.

The Comanche met in council at Tehuacana Creek near present-day Waco with Texas President Houston. As a result of the council, a pledge of mutual friendship was made. Buffalo Hump said: “What I came here for was to hear the words of peace. I have heard them and all is right; peace is peace.”

With the new agreement, the Texans were to establish trading houses and the Comanche were to stop their raids. The Comanche were to meet with the Texans in council annually and the Texans promised to provide them with gifts. The two sides, however, could not agree on a boundary settlement.

When Texas joined the United States in 1846 it was clearly understood that Texas was to be for Texans: Indians were not welcome in the new state. The problems of war and peace with the Comanche now became the concerns of the federal government, as well as the task of persuading the Comanche to settle on a reservation in Oklahoma.  

The Republic of Texas and the Cherokee Indians

With the new standards recently adopted by the Texas Board of Education which appear to emphasize the historical accomplishments of English-speaking Christians, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the forgotten (or at least ignored) history of Texas: the relationship between the short-lived Republic of Texas and some of the Indian nations within its territory.

The Republic of Texas came into being in 1836 after breaking away from Mexico. Then a decade later Texas joined the United States as a state. The interactions between the Republic of Texas and the Indian nations within the region were not always honorable.

With the election of Mirabau B. Lamar as President of the Republic in 1838, Texas openly advocated the expulsion of all Indians from the new republic.   President Mirabau B. Lamar addressed the Texas Congress:

“The white man and the red man cannot dwell in harmony together. Nature forbids it.” His solution: “It is to push a rigorous war against them to their hiding places without mitigation or compassion.”

This is the way the Handbook of Texas Online describes Lamar’s Indian policy:

For Houston’s conciliatory Indian policy, Lamar substituted one of sternness and force. The Cherokees were driven to Arkansas in 1839; in 1840 a campaign against the Comanches quieted the western Indians in the west at a cost of $2.5 million.

http://www.tshaonline.org/hand…

This diary focuses on the Republic of Texas and the Cherokee Indians.  

The Texas Cherokee:

The Cherokee homeland is not in Texas, but in the Southeast, in what are now Georgia, the Carolinas, and Tennessee. Following the Revolutionary War, the American government and the government of the state of Georgia sought to remove the Cherokee and other Indians from the United States. As early as 1782, some Cherokee began to look for a new homeland outside of U.S. jurisdiction. They applied to the Spanish governor of the Louisiana Territory for permission to resettle west of the Mississippi River.

In 1785, some of the Cherokee began to move into Spanish territory. One group under the leadership of Konnetue settled on a tract of land given to them by the Spanish King. By 1786, Cherokee hunters from Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina were regularly hunting in Spanish-controlled territory.

In 1786 another group of Cherokee moved to Spanish territory. The Spanish government approved the establishment of six Cherokee villages along the Saint Francis River in what is now Arkansas and Missouri.

In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson signed a secret compact with Georgia in which the state of Georgia relinquished its claims to land in Mississippi and Alabama. In exchange, the United States vowed to extinguish title to Cherokee lands in western Georgia. The Cherokee were neither consulted nor informed.

The following year, the United States purchased the right to govern the Louisiana Territory. The Cherokee who had immigrated east of the Mississippi to escape American restrictions found themselves under American law once again. Meriwether Lewis reported more than 1,000 Cherokee living in Missouri in 1804.

By 1818 one band of Cherokee under the leadership of Bowle (also spelled as The Bowl, Bowles, and Duwala) had settled on the east side of the Red River in Arkansas. The following year Bowle led a group of about 300 Cherokee to Texas where they established a settlement near the present-day city of Dallas. Bowle was angry at having been told to leave Arkansas and was seeking to escape the jurisdiction of the United States. Soon after the move, Richard Fields was chosen to replace Bowle as the principal leader.  

Spain granted citizenship to the Indians of Mexico in 1820. This included what would later become Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and California.

In 1822, the Cherokee under the leadership of Richard Fields met with the provincial governor in San Antonio and signed a treaty. Under the treaty, the Cherokee were granted the right to reside in Texas. Richard Fields moved the Cherokee settlement from a location near present-day Dallas to a forested area in east Texas north of the Spanish fort of Nacogdoches. The Cherokee moved because of continuing conflicts with the Plains tribes which resulted in the deaths of nearly one-third of their warriors.

In 1827, Cherokee leaders Bowle and Big Mush conspired to kill Chief Richard Fields. While Fields had worked hard for his people he had tried to lead them in a political direction they did not wish to go.

The Cherokee  continued their efforts to obtain a land grant. In 1833, the Mexican governor of Texas issued the order for a title for a Cherokee land grant, but he died before the order could be carried out. The Cherokee continued to press for title, but the Indian agent persuaded the Mexican government not to give them title to land in east Texas, but instead to settle them in the west where they could act as a buffer against the Plains tribes.

At this time (1833) there were about 800 Cherokee living in Texas. Many were prosperous farmers and stockgrowers. Most of the adults were able to read and write in English and/or Cherokee.

The Republic of Texas:

With the creation of an independent Republic of Texas the Cherokee quest for a Mexican land title became moot. The Texans originally vowed friendship with the Cherokee. The Texans issued a declaration recognizing the Cherokee land claims in east Texas and vowing friendship with them.

The Texas provisional government met in council with the Cherokee under the leadership of Bowle. A formal treaty was negotiated and was signed by Texas leader Sam Houston and others. However, the treaty generated great dissatisfaction among many Texans and was not presented to the provisional convention for ratification.

In 1837, Sam Houston again met with the Cherokee to sign a treaty of friendship and trade with the new Texas government. The treaty recognized Cherokee title to the lands in east Texas which were claimed by the tribe. The treaty was signed by Bowle, Big Mush, and six others. Houston then presented Bowle with a sword, a silk vest, a sash, and a military hat. Bowle responded by declaring Houston to be a chief among the Cherokee. Houston was then presented with Bowle’s daughter for a wife.  

While Sam Houston may have been friendly with the Cherokee, the rest of Texas was not. The Texas Senate met in secret session and rejected the treaty with the Cherokee in spite of Sam Houston’s efforts on their behalf.

In spite of their refusal to acknowledge the treaty with the Cherokee, Texas still turned to the Cherokee as allies and friends in their conflict with the Comanche.  In 1837, Cherokee chief Bowle was commissioned by the government of Texas to visit the Comanche and assess the potential for peace. Following Bowle’s report, Texas President David G. Burnet, who had lived with the Comanche, sent a representative to negotiate a peace treaty with the northern Comanche bands, but the bands refused to enter into a treaty agreement.

In 1829, letters from the Mexican government to Chief Bowle were intercepted by the Texas government. In the letter, the Mexicans promised the Cherokee land in exchange for raiding Texas settlements. While there was no indication that the Cherokee had known about the offer or had encouraged it, an enraged President Mirabau Buonaparte Lamar publicly vowed to eject the Cherokee from Texas. Lamar wrote to the Cherokee:

“The Cherokee will never be permitted to establish a permanent and independent jurisdiction within the inhabited limits of this Government.”

The Texans offered the Cherokee $25,000 for their improvements, goods, crops, and other property. The Cherokee refused the offer which would require that they give up their guns and leave Texas under military escort as prisoners.

Texas moved militarily against the Cherokee, killing 100 Cherokee and Chief Bowle in the first day of fighting. Chief Bowle was eighty years old and he rode into battle wearing a Mexican army hat and carrying a sword that had been presented to him by Sam Houston. His body was scalped, mutilated, and left to rot unburied. The Texans killed 55 Cherokee and wounded another 80. The militia followed the survivors, cutting down Indian cornfields and burning Indian houses.

Some of the Cherokee who escaped fled to the Mexican state of Coahuila where they established a village.

Statehood:

Texas joined the United States on the condition that Texas was for Texans: Indians were not welcome in the new state. The United States federal government was to assume responsibility for the Indians, while the new state of Texas reserved all rights to “public” lands (those lands which had been Indian lands). Indians were to be removed to Oklahoma.  

News Collection Diary for Posting on Sunday March 28th

Please post your news items in the comments. Thanx.

I’ll start:

http://indian.senate.gov/publi…

“OVERSIGHT HEARING on The Preventable Epidemic: Youth Suicides and the Urgent Need for Mental Health Care Resources in Indian Country”

From the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Thursday, March 25, 2010

9:30 AM

[from translatorpro]

Program aims to find American Indian victims of radiation exposure

The Associated Press

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_…

Updated: 03/22/2010 07:27:51 AM MDT

Flagstaff, Ariz. » The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking the help of students to identify American Indians who might be victims of radiation exposure.

Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act in 1990, authorizing funding for people who worked in the uranium mining industry or nuclear weapons testing between 1942 and 1971 and contracted cancer or other diseases from radon exposure.

Most applications are filed by people living in the Four Corners region, but American Indian tradition and customs can make successful claims difficult.

Students can hear more about the part-time internships at Northern Arizona University on March 29, the University of New Mexico in Gallup on March 30 and at Dine College in Shiprock, N.M., on March 31.

[From Martha Ture]

Posted in Uncategorized

News from Native American Netroots

 red_black_rug_design2

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

Our format will be evolving and our focus of coverage will broaden as the series develops.

News from Native American Netroots is unique as a news digest in the fact that this it is based on community contributions.  Articles can be submitted in the commment thread or posted at Native American Netroots each week.

cross posted at Native Amercan Netroots



Uranium licenses are upheld by a split federal appeals court




DENVER – Uranium mining, banned on the Navajo Nation, advanced closer to tribal boundaries when the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing of in situ leach uranium mining at four sites near Crownpoint and Church Rock in New Mexico.

The split decision by a three-judge panel March 8 also denied a request for review of one of the sites near Church Rock where Hydro Resources, Inc., whose parent company is Uranium Resources Inc., has a joint venture with Itochu, a Tokyo-headquartered transnational, to begin producing an estimated six to nine million pounds of uranium annually from New Mexico.

Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining, a Navajo community organization; Southwest Research and Information Center, a nonprofit environmental education organization; and two local ranchers were joined by the Navajo Nation in a friend-of-the-court brief asserting that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission violated atomic energy and environmental laws in granting the license.



Oglala Sioux Tribe picks Nebraska site for new nursing home




Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls announced Monday the construction of a new nursing home in Nebraska for members of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Two Bulls said the architectural drawings were being prepared, and financing for the nursing home is well on its way to being approved.

“We expect to begin construction sometime this spring, with the completion date in the fall of 2011,” she said.

She said the new facility would house 60 to 70 residents only minutes away from downtown Pine Ridge Village. The facility will sit on 40 acres of tribal land, provide 100 jobs with a variety of skill sets and create jobs for Native Americans.



Program aims to find American Indian victims of radiation exposure




Flagstaff, Ariz. » The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking the help of students to identify American Indians who might be victims of radiation exposure.

Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act in 1990, authorizing funding for people who worked in the uranium mining industry or nuclear weapons testing between 1942 and 1971 and contracted cancer or other diseases from radon exposure.

Most applications are filed by people living in the Four Corners region, but American Indian tradition and customs can make successful claims difficult.

Students can hear more about the part-time internships at Northern Arizona University on March 29, the University of New Mexico in Gallup on March 30 and at Dine College in Shiprock, N.M., on March 31.



Turnover negates boost to tribal police efforts




WASHINGTON – Native American reservations continue to lack adequate police protection, despite federal and tribal efforts to beef up their forces.

High turnover fueled by poor pay and high stress have worsened an epidemic of crime in tribal nations already compounded by a lack of money to hire officers and training programs to certify them, officials told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Thursday.

About 3,000 police officers – a force smaller than the police department of Washington, D.C. – patrol 56 million acres of Indian Country. That’s barely half the level to meet adequate staffing levels, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. That has contributed to violent crime rates that are 2 1/4 times the national average.



Study to examine tribal justice




WASHINGTON – The watchdog arm of Congress will examine justice on Indian reservations to see how well federal authorities work with tribal leaders to address crime rates that are among the highest in the nation.

The Government Accountability Office agreed to do the study at the behest of Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who represent states with some of the country’s largest – and least-protected – reservations. They expect to report back to the Senate by November.



Sherman Alexie wins 2010 Pen/Faulkner fiction prize for “War Dances”




“War Dances” by novelist Sherman Alexie has won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the organizers announced Tuesday.

The prestigious annual award, presented by the Washington-based PEN/Faulkner Foundation, was given to Alexie because of his book’s breadth of topics and innovative style, judges said. “War Dances” consists of short stories interspersed with poems.



US human rights record challenged




The Haudenosaunee Confederacy – the oldest continuous democratic government in North America – has long argued that Indian nations should not expect to win justice from colonizing governments, and instead must act as sovereign nations taking their quest for justice to the United Nations and its human rights mechanisms.

Though it claims to be a defender of human rights around the world, the United States is among the worst offenders of Native peoples’ rights, judging by statistics that indicate Indian women are the most raped and abused in the nation, while rampant poverty, disease, crime and unemployment are a way of life on reservations.



Guardian Angels starting first reservation chapter




HELENA, Mont. – Fed up with growing gang violence, Montana tribal leaders this weekend will start the first-ever American Indian reservation chapter of the Guardian Angels.

The new chapter of the citizens’ crime-watch group — whose members are known by their red berets in New York, Chicago and other U.S. cities — will begin training about 50 recruits on the rural Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The sprawling reservation on the plains of eastern Montana is home to 6,000 of the approximately 10,000 enrolled members of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes.

Chauncey Whitwright III, vice chairman of the Wolf Point Community Organization, said the children of the 3,200-square-mile reservation are vulnerable to gangs that have crept in from the outside.



Lawmakers advance bill to start $100K fund for Whiteclay




Lawmakers in Nebraska voted 25-15 to advance a bill that would create a $100,000 fund to address problems in and around Whiteclay.

Four liquor stores in the town sell 4.1 million cans of beer a year. Most of the customers are from the nearby Oglala Sioux Tribe. The fund represents a portion of tax revenues generated by liquor sales at Whiteclay. According to KELO-TV, the stores make $3 million a year. The fund could be used for law enforcement, health and other programs. The bill still needs to gain final approval.



RI Indians want valuable Navy property in Newport




NEWPORT, R.I. – Hundreds of prime acres are up for grabs in this waterfront city and its neighboring towns, valuable commodity on an island known for prized beaches, lavish homes and natural beauty.

The 260 acres on Aquidneck Island were for decades owned by the U.S. Navy, which says it no longer needs the land and is moving to unload it. The island communities envision the property as untapped economic potential for sweeping new development.

But another suitor — the Narragansett Indian Tribe — says the land falls under its ancestral footprint and is mounting a bid that may conflict with local development plans.



Earth lodge at archway builds bond




KEARNEY, Neb. – When the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma returns to Kearney for a powwow in June, its members will be getting building lessons from their long lost cousins, the Arikara of North Dakota.

Plans are rapidly coming together to build an authentic earth lodge near the Great Platte River Road Archway.

Decades ago, some American Indian tribes of Nebraska occupied earth lodges built of saplings, earth and sod stacked over frames of heavy timbers.



Grant to fund high-speed Internet on Navajo Nation




ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The federal government is investing more than $32 million in stimulus funds to help the nation’s largest American Indian reservation, the Navajo Nation, build a high-speed Internet highway that will connect thousands of homes and businesses across the sprawling reservation.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the grant Thursday, saying Navajo communities in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah will benefit.

Locke says 60 percent of homes on the reservation lack basic telephone service and many Navajo communities have unemployment levels that exceed 40 percent.



Stewart Udall, former Interior secretary, dies




WASHINGTON – Stewart Udall, U.S. Interior secretary during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, has passed away at 90. He was the last original Cabinet member of the Kennedy era.

According to a statement from his son, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., he died March 20 in his home in Santa Fe, N.M., surrounded by his children. Natural causes after a fall were cited as the reason.

Udall was born Jan. 31, 1920, in St. Johns, Ariz. Before serving in the executive branch, he was a member of Congress. He and several of his family members have been advocates for Native American issues both inside and outside of government.



New face at the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs




DENVER – Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, chair of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, has announced the appointment of Carol Harvey, Navajo, a former energy attorney, as the new CCIA executive secretary.

The CCIA head acts as liaison between the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes, the urban Indian population and state of Colorado. Harvey replaces Ernest House Jr., Ute Mountain Ute, who resigned Jan. 22 to become director of governmental affairs for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Harvey, a veteran of 28 years in legal work for the oil and gas industry, comes to the CCIA from a law practice in Santa Fe, N.M. Her MBA and JD degrees are from the University of Denver, where she also obtained undergraduate degrees in political science and economics.



Building Strong Sovereign Nations




Tribal Goverance Training Conference



Mich. Gov. Granholm Instructs Mich. AG Cox to Defend Obama Health Care Program




It’s not Indian law, but it is pretty amazing……



Native Stations Directory




Native Americans have built a strong network of 33 public radio stations that provide a lifeline to their communities. These stations bring a contemporary voice, often in Native languages, that evokes the oral traditions of a cultural heritage centuries in the making.

Native radio is local radio. It reaches vast stretches of tribal lands that still hold pockets of villages and isolated homes, some without electricity. Radio’s portability and 24/7 presence help Native stations carry the information that no other media is there to deliver.



Records in Arizona sweat lodge case offer details




PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) – Documents released Thursday in the case of a motivational speaker charged with manslaughter expand on the already wide range of experiences participants reported having during an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony.

James Arthur Ray, who led the ceremony as part of his “Spiritual Warrior” retreat, faces manslaughter charges in the deaths of three people who entered the sweat lodge near Sedona last year, and suffered heat stroke and hyperthermia. Ray has pleaded not guilty.

The more than 50 people inside the pitch-black sweat lodge all could be called to testify during Ray’s trial slated to begin Aug. 31. Prosecutors also have identified as potential witnesses more than two dozen other people who attended past events led by Ray and about 10 people who worked for him.

Twelve jurors could end up hearing more than 55 days of testimony from witnesses.



New report details renewable energy resources on tribal lands




The New Energy Future in Indian Country: Confronting Climate Change,

Creating Jobs, and Conserving Nature

Washington, DC (March 23) – Indian Tribes are disproportionately bearing the brunt of climate change. But the huge potential on tribal lands to generate clean energy from renewable resources presents tribes with the opportunity to be a significant part of the solution through climate policy that creates green jobs and protects natural resources, detailed in a new report.

“Tribal households pay significantly more in home energy expenses than other Americans,” said Bob Gruenig, senior policy analyst, National Tribal Environmental Council. “The vast potential on tribal lands to generate clean energy from renewable resources means that Indian Tribes can help to provide for their own energy needs, generate clean power for a new energy future in Indian Country, and put American on the path to energy independence.”



Snippets of History




Friday, March 26, 2010

On this day in 1958, the White Alice or the frozen north ALaska Integrated Communications and Electronic system began operating. Alaska Native people participated in the U.S. Air Force project that was built to enhance defense and provide telephone and telegraph service to the Alaskan public.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

During this week in 2009, the White House announced President Obama intended to nominate Dr. Yvette Roubideaux as leader of the Indian Health Service. The Rosebud Sioux member was nominated and confirmed as Director of the IHS and currently oversees the agency that serves nearly two million people across the country.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On this day in 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. The spill had devastating impacts on subsistence resources for Alaska Native people and commercial fishers. Court battles led to compensation for victims nearly two decades after the spill.

Monday, March 22, 2010

During this month in 1909, the Navajo National Monument was established. Three intact cliff dwellings are preserved at the site in Arizona. Various groups have lived in the Four Corners region for thousands of years. Most of the remains date between 700 and 1500 years ago.

The Indian Shakers’ Fight for Religious Freedom

This is the fourth diary in what was supposed to have been a three-part series on the Dark Ages of American Indian Religious Freedom.

For the past five centuries, American Indians have had their religions suppressed (sometimes brutally and violently) and denied. With the formation of the United States and the adoption of the Bill of Rights which speaks of freedom of religion, this freedom has been denied to American Indians based on the notion that they were not citizens and therefore this freedom did not apply to them. The period of time from 1870 to 1934 can be considered the Dark Ages for American Indian Religious Freedom. During this time, the active suppression of American Indian religions reached its peak.

In this diary, we are going to look at how the Indian Shaker Church fought for their religious freedom.  

In 1881, the Squaxin of the Puget Sound area in Washington would have described John Slocum has having a bit of an inclination toward alcohol and a well-known fondness for gambling. One day he became ill and died. Upon dying, he went to heaven where he was met by angels who told him that because he had been bad on earth he could not enter Heaven. He was then given a choice of going to hell or returning to life to preach to Indians about the way to enter heaven.

When he came back to life, he returned with a divine mission to fulfill among his people. Upon his return to life he begins to preach against alcohol, gambling, and other “Boston” vices.

Slocum’s new religion was strongly opposed by the Indian Agent, Edwin Eells who told the Indians to accept the Christian missionary’s guidance. However, Slocum’s experience was coherent with the pattern of the traditional Prophet Dance found among the tribes of coastal Washington and the Plateau area. The new religion also incorporates some Christian concepts due to the influence of the Protestant and Catholic missions in the Puget Sound area.

The focus of the new religion, as in the traditional Indian religions of the area, was on curing. In the curing ceremonies, practitioners would enter a trance state at which time the Spirit of God would come over them. Filled with this Spirit they would shake and the shaking represented the gift of curing. Hence the new religious movement was soon dubbed the Shakers, or, more formally, the Indian Shaker Church.

The major growth in the new religion came about in 1883. John Slocum again became ill and his relatives, fearing that he was about to die, called in a traditional healer. His wife, Mary, left the house in protest. Mary was then overcome by an uncontrollable shaking and re-entered the house to pray over her husband. John Slocum recovered and Mary’s shaking was hailed as medicine from God. This event marks the beginning of an explosive growth in the new movement.

The Indian Shaker Church diffused among the different tribes of the Puget Sound area. Curing ceremonies were frequently held and the Shaker Church often became important in the social life of the people. The Shaker Church was usually a rectangular wooden structure with a modest bell tower.

The American government opposed the Indian Shaker Church,  with government officials disrupting meetings and arresting the participants. In 1887, for example, the members of the Chehalis Indian Shaker Church met at the home of George Walker to doctor Puyallup Bill. Puyallup Bill had been spitting blood for a month or two and had come from the Puyallup reservation so that he could be doctored by the Shakers. The healing ceremony was discovered by school superintendent Edwin Chalcraft and consequently ten men were arrested. The leaders—John Smith, Peter Yo-kum, Thomas Heck, and George Walker-and the patient were sentenced to ten days of hard labor.

In 1892, the Indian Shakers held a meeting in public defiance of the Indian agent’s ban on their religion. They wished to affirm their freedom of religion. The meeting was disrupted by both Indian and non-Indian opponents, but attorney James Wickersham issued official looking documents affirming the Shakers’ right to practice their religion.

Wickersham then helped the Shakers organize their church into a legal corporation. Since a corporation is a person under American law, this makes the Church a person and as such gave it certain legal rights. With this action, the Indian Shaker Church became legally recognized and religious freedom was obtained.  

The Pueblo Revolt

Seventeenth century life under Spanish rule was not pleasant for the Pueblos in New Mexico. The Franciscans attempted to brutally suppress all vestiges of Native American religion: they burned religious paraphernalia, they whipped religious leaders, and they destroyed the kivas (underground ceremonial chambers). In 1680, the Pueblo spiritual leader Popé led a revolt against the Spanish. By coordinating and uniting several Pueblos, the Indians defeated the Spanish and drove them out of the area.  

Popé, a charismatic spiritual leader who had been whipped and humiliated by the Spanish, was a brilliant organizer. He brought together the war chiefs from diverse Pueblos and directed them in a coordinated action against the Spanish. The principal war chiefs who acted with Popé were El Jaca of Taos, Don Luis Tupatú of Picurís, Alonso Catiti of Santo Domingo, Luis Cuniju of Jemez, Antonio Bolsas the spokesperson for the Tanos Pueblos, Cristóbal Yope of San Lázaro, and Keres leader Altonio Malacate.

Following Popé’s instructions, the Indians first captured the Spanish horses and mules, thus making it impossible for the Spanish to communicate rapidly with one another. The revolt was also timed to precede the arrival of the caravan which brought supplies to the Spanish settlers from Mexico. At this time, the Spanish would be low on weapons and ammunition.

In their rage against Spanish Catholicism, the Pueblos killed the Franciscan friars, mutilated their bodies, and destroyed the churches. Of the 33 Franciscan friars in the territory, 21 were killed in the revolt. In addition, some 400 Spanish soldiers and colonists were killed. Most of the colonists, however, were given an opportunity to flee as the primary purpose of the Pueblo Revolt was to destroy the mission system.  The revolt was the act of a people determined to reject Christian civilization because it posed a direct threat to their integrated religion and culture. The Pueblos were not cultures which venerated war: they did not fight for war honors, but to repel the Spanish. They could have slaughtered all of the Spanish colonists, but they preferred a Spanish exodus.

Pueblo rage was focused on the Franciscans, not on the Spanish colonists. While the Franciscans had upset the Pueblos by their destruction of sacred objects, they would later ponder the causes of the Pueblo Revolt and conclude that the only thing they were guilty of was selfless love for the Indians.

Following the revolt, the Pueblos began to re-learn their traditions, which had been suppressed under the Spanish. There were, however, some changes. For centuries, Pueblo governments had been based upon a tradition of government by consent. Popé, however, began acting more like a European warlord than a traditional Pueblo leader.

Mission churches were torn down and the kivas (underground ceremonial chambers which had been filled in by the Spanish) were dug out once again. Popé forbade the use of the Spanish language and Spanish baptismal names and destroyed objects associated with Spanish Christian culture.  Popé declared that the Christian god had been made of rotten wood and was dead at last. All vestiges, all reminders of it had to be obliterated. To remove the taint of Christian baptism, a ritual washing with yucca-root was prescribed.

Among the Hopi in Arizona, the kivas were rebuilt using materials from the destroyed churches. The Hopi also began to use church bells in some of their ceremonies. The Hopis thus employed their own form of ‘superposition’ to reestablish their own religion’s predominance.

With the Pueblo revolt, Indians acquired their own horses. The Pueblos traded some of the horses with other tribes and the use of the horse began to spread north, leading to a new way of life for the Indians on the Great Plains.  

Following the Pueblo Revolt, a number of Pueblos became concerned about possible Spanish retaliation. Following earlier revolts, such as the 1649 revolt by the Jemez, the Spanish had brutally retaliated against the Indians. Thus, fearing Spanish reprisals, the pueblo of Sandia in New Mexico was abandoned and the people established the pueblo of Payupki near the Hopi village of Mishongnovi in Arizona. In Arizona, the Hopi village of Walpi, fearing Spanish reprisals from the Pueblo Revolt, moved from a lower terrace to a more defensive position on top of First Mesa.

Not all of the Pueblos joined in the revolt. The Tiwa-speaking pueblo of Isleta did not join the Pueblo Revolt and they allowed 1,500 Spanish settlers to take refuge in the pueblo before fleeing south into Chihuahua.

The first Spanish attempt to re-conquer the Pueblos came in 1681. With a force of 146 soldiers, they invaded Pueblo territory. At Isleta they found a thriving community with the church in ruins. The villagers told the Spanish that they did not want any visitors. The Spanish, however, were not deterred and forced their way into the pueblo. Here the pueblo leaders approached their guests peacefully. The Spanish response to the peaceful greeting was first to baptize the babies born during the past year. They then destroyed the masks, ceremonial clothing, prayer sticks, and kachina dolls by throwing them into a flaming pyre. The Spanish then sent messengers upriver to the northern villages with promises of pardon and demands for submission.

A Spanish force of about 70 soldiers under the command of Captain Mendoza then traveled north. They encountered about a dozen empty pueblos. They destroyed all ceremonial items and set fire to the villagers’ stores of winter food. At Santo Domingo, the Spanish were confronted by a band of Pueblo warriors. After some initial skirmishes, the two groups held council. Speaking for the Pueblos was Catiti, Popé’s assistant. Catiti promised to bring in the other villagers in a few days. The Spanish settled down in the nearby village of Cochiti. Here they discovered that Catiti’s promise was really a delaying tactic to give the warriors from the northern villages time to assemble. The Spanish hastily retreated south to warn the main body of Spanish soldiers.

The Spanish found that most of the people in Isleta had left the pueblo to join the northern warriors and so they burned the village, killed 385 people, and returned to El Paso.

In 1687, the Spanish attacked Santa Ana Pueblo and burned it. The survivors united with people from Zia Pueblo and established a village on Red Mesa.

In 1688, Popé, the spiritual leader from San Juan who masterminded the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, died. Tupatu assumed Pueblo leadership.

In 1688, the Spanish made a foray into Pueblo country to find out who led the 1680 revolt. The Spaniards failed to find out the names of the leaders, but they burned a number of Pueblo villages and carried out a policy of killing and plundering.

The successful Spanish re-conquest of the Pueblos began in 1689 with the capture of Zia. After a daylong attack, the Spanish overran the fortified Pueblo, sacked it, and burned it. Over 600 Indians were killed and 70 were taken captive. Among those captured was Bartolomé de Ojeda, a Pueblo war captain who had been educated by the Franciscans.

The wounded Ojeda was carried back to El Paso where he gave valuable testimony about the Pueblos. He then joined in the Spanish re-conquest as a leader of the Indian auxiliaries and an interpreter for the Spanish.

In 1691, Pueblo representatives from Jemez, Zia, Santa Ana, San Felipe, and Pecos asked the Spanish to return. This request was made in response to increased plundering by the Apache and Navajo who were now on horseback. Before the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, the Spanish with their guns and horses had deterred these raids.

The Spanish re-conquest of the Pueblos was completed in 1692 with the recapture of Santa Fe. The Spanish return caused more uprising among the Pueblos. However, the unity of the 1680 revolt was now gone and some of the Pueblos cooperated with the Spanish and some resisted them. The Spanish managed their re-conquest without losing a single man. In the end it was not Spanish military might against the Pueblos that led to the re-conquest, but rather the constant attacks by the Apache and Navajo which resulted in the Pueblo decisions to ask for Spanish help against these attackers.  

American Indian Religions: The Dreamers

The Columbia Plateau is an area that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the east to the Cascade Mountains to the west. It is cut by the Columbia River. For thousands of years, many different Indian nations have lived in this area, many using the Columbia River to provide them with fish. While there are diverse spiritual traditions among the Indian nations in this area, many of them share a focus on prophecy.

One of the prophets to emerge in this region during the nineteenth century was Smohalla, a Wanapan medicine man whose teachings led to a religious movement known as the Dreamers. American government attempts to suppress this indigenous religion culminated in the 1877 Nez Perce War.  

From an American perspective, Smohalla did not seem to be a likely candidate to become the leader of a religious movement. He did not fit the non-Indian’s image of what an Indian leader should be: he was relatively small and somewhat overweight. In addition, he was born with a hunchback and a large, oversized head. From an Indian perspective, however, he had a very important ability: he was an orator who could hold his audiences absolutely spellbound.

By today’s standards, we might consider Smohalla as a psychic. He had an ability to predict the future, to foretell the coming of storms, to know when the salmon run would start, and to predict the eruption of volcanoes. To the Indian people living along the Columbia River, he was simply known as a prophet, as a powerful spiritual leader.

Smohalla’s spiritual strengths were enhanced through two afterlife experiences. In the first afterlife experience, Smohalla died, travelled to the land in the sky, and conversed with the Creator (Nami Piap). He was not permitted to enter eternal life, and was told that he was to return to his people and tell them to reject American culture. Indian people, he was told, were to return to the Indian social, economic, political, and religious traditions.

In a second incident, Smohalla again died and made the journey to the land in the sky. Once again he visited the Creator and a special dance (washat) and over 120 religious songs.

Historically, Smohalla got into a conflict with Columbia Chief Moses about 1860. Some say that Smohalla was making medicine against Moses, and a fight broke out between the two men. Moses won the fight and Smohalla was left for dead. However, he revived and crawled into a boat. Badly injured, he left the area, wandering first to Portland and then south into California, Mexico, and Arizona. He then returned home through Utah.

When he returned to the Columbia Plateau, Smohalla reported that he had visited the spirit world. He tells the people that in his visit to the spirit world he had been told that the American ways were bad for the people: American ways cause sickness and confusion for Indians.

At this time, Smohalla began to lay the foundation for his new religious movement, later called The Dreamer Religion by the Americans. He taught the Indian people in the Plateau area that they were to return to the ways of their ancestors. He brought about a revival of the traditional Washani religion with an infusion of new songs and dances.

Smohalla had a book which was filled with mysterious characters. He said that this writing was the records of events and prophecies. Concerning these characters, nineteenth century ethnologist James Mooney reported:

“It is probable that they were genuine mnemonic symbols invented by himself for his own purposes, as such systems, devised and used by single individuals or families, and unintelligible to others, are by no means rare among those who may be called the literary men of our aboriginal tribes.”

Among the Indian nations which embrace the revived religious movement are the Palouse and the Nez Perce. Following Smohalla’s teachings, the Palouses new performed the traditional washat using seven drums, seven singers, and several brass bells. Both women and men used eagle and swan feathers to symbolize flight from earth to heaven. To symbolize Dreamer Religion ceremonies, the Palouse would fly a triangular flag with a five-pointed star and a red circle with a white, yellow, and blue background.

Among the Nez Perce, Chief Joseph (the elder) became one of his supporters. When Chief Joseph died in 1871 He was buried at the foot of a hill, a fence of poles is placed around his grave, and a red pole with a bell suspended from a cross piece was placed within the fence. The bell was used by the Dreamers to indicate important moments.

Smohalla’s reputation for prophecy was enhanced in 1872 when he accurately predicted a major earthquake in north central Washington. Smohalla predicted that the Great Spirit would show displeasure by shaking the earth.

By 1875, Smohalla’s teachings placed him in conflict with the American government. The American government felt that Indians must become farmers in order to become assimilated into American society. Smohalla, on the other hand, was preaching that Americans were destroying the earth. While he did not advocate violence, he opposed farming. The Indian superintendent for Oregon and Washington felt that Smohalla’s Dream Religious had to be suppressed, with military force if needed.  He was incredulous that “their model of a man is an Indian.” It was apparent that Indians could not be religious leaders nor models for other Indians.

In the 1870s, Indian reservations were administered by Christian (primarily Protestant) religious denominations. The American government at this time was actively seeking to convert Indians to Christianity and to destroy traditional religions. In the Plateau area, Smohalla’s Dreamers came under fire on several reservations.

The Nez Perce Reservation in 1875 was a theocracy run according to Presbyterian Christianity. The Nez Perce who followed the Dream path were seen as a threat. Smohalla was portrayed as the purveyor of dangerous ideas which were harmful to the people and attractive to those who were not strong in their Christian beliefs.

There were a number of Nez Perce bands which had not been relocated to the Idaho reservation. Many of these bands were followers of Smohalla. One government commission which was looking at Chief Joseph’s band in the Wallowa Valley in Oregon reported that Joseph and his band were under the “spell” of the Dreamers. The commission recommended that the leaders of this religion should be removed to Oklahoma, and that the band should be removed to the Idaho reservation, by force if necessary.

In 1876, the Indian superintendent for Oregon and Washington felt that Chief Joseph’s Nez Perce band was a part of an intertribal Dreamer conspiracy. According to the superintendent the government has an obligation to suppress the Dreamer religion and to force Joseph’s band to live on the Idaho reservation where they must become Christians.

On the Yakama Reservation (home to 14 Columbia River nations), the Indian superintendent (a Methodist minister) insisted that all Indians on the reservation must become Methodists. He blamed Smohalla and the Dreamer religion for every act of Indian defiance in the area.

In 1876, the United States sent General O. O. Howard, billed by contemporary newspapers as “America’s Christian General,” to meet in council with the non-treaty Nez Perce bands and to inform them that they would move to the Idaho reservation. Chief Joseph, acutely aware that Indians on reservations were wards rather than citizens and that they had no rights, including the freedom of religion, informed the council that he could not accept a reservation. General Howard would later write of this refusal: “Indian Joseph and his malcontents denied the jurisdiction of the United States over them.”

After Joseph’s band left the council, the American commissioners concluded that he was under the influence of the Dreamers. They recommended to the Department of Interior that Dreamer teachers be confined to their own reservations and suppressed or that they be exiled to Oklahoma.

In 1877, the military was sent in to forcibly remove the Nez Perce from the Wallowa Valley. The goal was to destroy the Dream Religion and to open up the land for non-Indian settlement. The result was the Nez Perce War. Following the war, many of the Dreamer Nez Perce were held as prisoners of war in Oklahoma.

Today, the Dreamer Religion (also known as the Seven Drums Religion) continues to be celebrated by many Plateau Indians.

Smohalla died in 1907 at the age of 92. His religious movement was called The Dreamers by Americans because revelations were revealed in dreams.  

Pine Ridge Suicides on NY Times front page? Why Not?

I sent Autumn Two Bulls a message asking how many suicides on Pine Ridge in the last 6 months.  I noticed yesterday that Cornell University had a front page story in The New York Times after three suicides on their campus. All young people at risk for suicide deserve help love and suppport.  But why don’t young people on reservations get visibility when they face a crisis?  New York Times needs some education and awareness training.  

The Iroquois Confederacy

( – promoted by navajo)

In 1987, the United States Senate passed a resolution which acknowledged the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations to the development of the United States Constitution. Furthermore, the resolution acknowledged the historical debt which the United States owes to the Iroquois Confederacy and to other Indian nations for the demonstration of enlightened, democratic principles of government.  

The Iroquois Confederacy, also known as the League of Five Nations and as the League of Six Nations, was formed in 1451. Deganawida, a Huron prophet, had a vision for bringing peace to the world and so he crossed the great lake in a stone canoe so that he could tell the people about his vision. However, there was a problem: Deganawida had a speech defect, a serious problem among Indian nations who held oratory in high esteem. Fortunately, he encountered the great Onondaga orator Hiawatha and convinced him to carry the message of peace to the Indian nations.

As a result of Hiawatha’s work, five autonomous Indian nations– the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk-met and buried the instruments of war. Over the hole into which they threw their hatchets, they planted a pine tree of peace. The Iroquois wampum belts recorded:

“I, Deganawida, and the union lords now uproot the tallest pine tree and into the cavity thereby made we cast all weapons of war. Into the depths of the earth, down into the deep underneath currents of water flowing to unknown regions we cast all the weapons of strife. We bury them from sight and we plant again the tree. Thus shall the Great Peace, Kayenarhekowa, be established.”

Ne Gayaneshagowa or the “Great Binding Law” became the constitution for the Haudenosounee or League of Five Nations. The new League was essentially a non-aggression pact among the five nations. The great law is based upon three great double doctrines or principles (six principles in all). The first principle stresses: (a) health of mind and body, and (b) peace among individuals and groups. The second principle stresses: (a) righteousness in conduct, including advocating this righteousness in thought and speech, and (b) equality in the adjustment of rights and obligations. The third principle stresses: (a) physical strength, power, and order, and (b) spiritual power (orenda).

The council for the League is based upon the concept of representational democracy. There were originally 50 offices filled from the member nations: 14 from the Onondaga, 10 from the Cayuga, 9 from the Oneida, 9 from the Mohawk, and 8 from the Seneca. The men who fill these offices are known as sachems.  

It was the women who first accepted the message of Deganawida,. Therefore the women had a great deal of authority. The sachems were to be selected by the clan mothers. Women also had the right to initiative, recall, and referendum.

Power in the League was seen as flowing upward, from the families to the council, rather than from the council to the families. With regard to the sachems, Deganawida is said to have advised the sachems that their skin should be seven thumbs thick so that no outrageous criticism or evil magic could pierce them.

At the meetings of the League, each of the delegates from the Five Nations sat at assigned places in accordance with their position in the confederacy. As firekeepers, the Onondaga would give the topic for discussion first to the Mohawk and Seneca. The Mohawk would then discuss the matter among themselves and then refer it to the Seneca. After discussing the issue, the Seneca would return the item to the Mohawk who would hand the item across the fire to the Younger Brothers. It would then be discussed by the Oneida and then by the Cayuga. The Oneida would then hand it back across the fire to the Mohawk who would announce the combined opinion to the Onondaga.

While speaking, the speaker would hold a wampum belt which would then be handed to the tribe being addressed. The wampum belt was a sacred substance and thus confirmed the earnest importance of a message. Without accompanying wampum, words were considered frivolous.

Traditionally, an issue would be introduced at the council on one day, but not discussed that day. At some later time it would be discussed. It is tradition that the issued be slept with prior to discussing. In practice, this allowed the sachems, who were men, to discuss the issue with their clan mothers. When they met again in council, they would speak words that reflected the wisdom of these clan mothers.

One important Iroquois custom was to document their words with wampum belts. All agreements were accompanied by wampum belts which symbolized the important points of the agreement. At later times, the belts would be brought out and “read” if the agreement needed to be discussed again.

In order to record what was said in council, the Sachem presiding over the meeting would have a handful of small sticks. A stick would be given to one of the Sachems present so that the person with the stick would be responsible for remembering what the speaker said.

In 1722, the Tuscarora petitioned the Iroquois Confederacy for membership and the League of Five Nation thus became the League of Six Nations.

During the 18th century, the English-speaking colonists were very aware of the Iroquois form of government. In 1744, representatives from the Iroquois League of Six Nations met with Pennsylvania government officials to discuss a number of matters of mutual concern. At this conference the Onondaga sachem Canassatego told the colonists, including Benjamin Franklin, that the colonies should form a confederacy similar to that of the League of Six Nations. Canassetego told  them:

“Our wise forefathers established union and amity between the Five Nations; this has made us formidable, this has given us great weight and authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy, and by your observing the same methods our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire fresh strength and power.”

In 1751, Benjamin Franklin, in an attempt to encourage a union of the colonies, noted the success of the Iroquois League of Six Nations and suggested that this might be the governmental model for the colonies. Franklin wrote:

“It would be a very strange thing if Six Nations of ignorant savages should be capable of forming a scheme for such a union, and be able to execute it in such a manner, as that it has subsisted for ages, and appear indissoluble; and yet that a like union should be impracticable for ten or a dozen English colonies, to whom it is more necessary and must be more advantageous, and whom cannot be supposed to want an equal understanding of their interests.”

Again in 1754, Benjamin Franklin pleaded with the American colonists to emulate the Iroquois and form a government based on representational democracy.

In 1775, as the war broke out between the American colonists and the English, the Iroquois again advised the colonists to form a union similar to their League. The Continental Congress later referred openly to the Iroquois ideas of government. In a letter to the Iroquois from the Congress signed by John Hancock:

“The Six Nations are a wise people. Let us harken to their council and teach our children to follow it.”

The Iroquois gave John Hancock the name of Karanduawn which means “Great Tree.”

In 1781, the United States adopted the Articles of Confederation which called for a weak central government and powerful states. Benjamin Franklin envisioned the new country’s structure as being modeled on that of the Iroquois League. In 1787 the U.S. Constitution was adopted which was loosely inspired by the Iroquois concept of representational democracy.

The National Broadband Plan and Indian Country

( – promoted by navajo)

The bird who has eaten cannot fly with the bird that is hungry. –attributed to the Omaha

It can be said, alternately, that the hungry bird cannot fly as far or hunt as successfully as the bird who has already been fed.

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(Crossposted at Dailykos)

The larger picture

When it comes to internet broadband connectivity, much of the United States is still a hungry bird. The United States has fallen far behind globally in terms of the number of households who access the internet via broadband. At the start of the Bush administration, the US ranked fourth in broadband access and adoption in households and businesses across the country. As of 2009, US broadband connectivity is now ranked somewhere around 13th to 15th, according to a report published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Another source, Strategy Analytics, estimated broadband at the household level in the US as twentieth in 2008, well behind Scandinavian countries, several Asian nations, and the UK. The company projects that the US will fall to 23rd once figures for 2009 are reported.

There are a multitude of reasons why this country lags behind in broadband and fiber optics development; the reasons are the usual suspects – economic obstacles, policy conflicts, and existing infrastructure. There’s also the ongoing dialogue of whether broadband should be extended only through private industry development or with government funding as an open-access utility, like electricity or water, or a hybrid of financing through both public and private.

For the record, the US is one of the few “developed” countries in the world, and the only industrialized nation, that has yet to adopt a national broadband policy.

The United States is currently the only industrialized nation without a national policy for Internet access. Estonia, Greece, France and Finland have recognized Internet access as a basic human right in accordance with the United Nations recommendation. TechNewsDaily: U.S. Considers ‘Internet Access for All’

A potentially huge sea change in national broadband policy is being presented to Congress on Tuesday, March 16th. Courtesy of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the FCC will introduce a National Broadband Plan that charts a $25 billion course over the next ten years for greater rural broadband access and increased wireless for police and fire departments.

Additionally, the Plan includes improved initiatives for broadband access for Native American reservations in regions where there is currently little to no broadband or even DSL access via telecommunication landlines.

The micro picture

These new initiatives in the upcoming National Plan are intended to build upon the first FCC Indian Telecom Initiatives established in 2002. Seven years from that first Initiative, broadband adoption rate on Native American reservations is estimated somewhere between a lowly 5% to 10%.

Here are the starved birds.

There are more than 300 tribal reservations in the contiguous United States; in addition, there is one tribal reservation, along with several tribal townships and villages in Alaska.

Many of these reservations float like uncharted islands in the middle of a remote ocean when it comes to 20th and 21st century technologies. The services and the infrastructure, and more to the point, the profit margin for potential corporate and business investment, do not exist. Often, the available satellite and DSL/T1 services that are offered on some reservations are prohibitively expensive (in some areas twice to three times the average urban monthly cable bill). The download and capacity speeds are much slower and less efficient.

There is no tax base for any kind of local or state municipal bond development or levy proposal to establish underlying physical infrastructure, which can complicate seeking grants for matching federal funds. There is little political will on the part of most state level policy makers to work with tribes towards improving access to technology. Not enough voters? Not enough money.

The upper Midwest and Great Plains reservations provide examples where the topography and extensive distances from main broadband hubs and urban areas complicate affordable broadband adoption. Extending phone lines, basic cable lines, fiber-optic cable – even electric service in some areas – to a comparatively small population is rarely financially feasible for private industry providers, large or small. In addition, to bridge connectivity, many reservations must partner effectively with adjacent communities outside the reservations to obtain continuous access to broadband resources and to improve total cost of installation and maintenance.

Such isolation from access to technology impedes every element of an already difficult life on reservations rife with poverty, unemployment, and a tragically underserved and undereducated youth population.

In an address to the National Congress of American Indians in Washington D.C. on March 2,  FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski discussed the need for this access far better than I can paraphrase.

High-speed Internet is not only the Web and

email; it’s a telephone; it’s television; it’s a library; it’s a town hall.

Broadband has the potential to help Tribal communities advance farther, faster, than any new technology in our lifetime.

Broadband is a platform for job creation and economic growth.

Studies from the Brookings Institute, MIT, the World Bank, and others all tell us the same thing — that even modest increases in broadband adoption nationally can yield hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and broadband can generate jobs in Indian Country.

Broadband is a platform for innovation. If you have a high-speed Internet connection, you can dream big, bring those dreams to life, and then bring them to the world.

Broadband also is a platform for solutions to so many of our major challenges: education, health care, energy, public safety, and democratic engagement.

Broadband’s ability to transcend the barriers of distance could be particularly potent for Tribal communities.

With broadband, entrepreneurs on Tribal lands don’t need to move to the cities. They can collaborate, innovate, and create new small businesses and high-value jobs because they have access to robust and open information networks.

With broadband, kids in Tribal schools can have access in their classrooms to the best teachers in the world, and access in their homes to up-to-date e-textbooks and high quality tutoring from energized college and grad students around America.

With broadband, a Native American with diabetes can get dietary counseling on her home computer, a remote diagnosis in a nearby facility, and, if necessary, even surgery aided remotely by specialists at teaching hospitals.

As Genachowski states, there are obstacles in broadening the reach of even basic technology on many remote reservations.

One of the main statistics I often cite when talking about the need for a National Broadband Plan is that ONLY 65 percent of Americans have broadband in the home.

In Indian Country, 65 percent is roughly the adoption rate for TELEPHONE service. That’s unacceptable.

The high unemployment, extreme poverty, and alarming mental and physical health conditions on many reservations, such as the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, are amplified not only by lack of access, but by the ability to pay for it.  The Chairman, to his credit, doesn’t avoid addressing this economic divide.

Where broadband is available, in general we’ve found that a major barrier to broadband adoption is affordability. With crippling poverty on Tribal lands, that’s going to be an even bigger obstacle in Indian Country.

Put simply, bringing faster, affordable broadband service to people in Monument Valley is a lot harder than bringing it to people in Silicon Valley. I get that.

Not surprisingly, there are echoes of the New Deal in the debate over increasing broadband access in both rural areas and on reservations through government funding as part of our nation’s crucial infrastructure improvement.

The dispute over municipal broadband bears a striking similarity to the development of the electric power industry a century ago. As James Baller-an attorney who represents local governments and public utilities-first warned in a 1994 paper written for the American Public Power Association: “The history of the electric power industry casts substantial doubt on the notion that our nation can depend on competition among cable and telephone companies alone… to ensure not only prompt and affordable, but also universal, access to the benefits of the information superhighway.”

….

In 1935, he (Roosevelt) created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), which gave loans and other help to small towns and farmer cooperatives interested in setting up their own power systems. The REA turned out to be one of the New Deal’s most successful programs. Within two years, hundreds of new municipal power utilities were up and running across the country, and within 20 years, virtually all of rural America had electricity, provided either by rural co-ops or big utilities spurred to action by municipal competition. Baller  concluded: “The plain, hard truth is that universal electric service would never have developed on a timely basis in the absence of municipally owned electric utilities and rural electric cooperatives”-which still account for more than a quarter of the power in the country today.

Let There Be WiFi

It’s likely that the FCC has a major struggle ahead over the allocation and specific application of both licenses and federal monies, both with Congress and the many powerful special interests in the telecommunications and broadband industries.

One of the proposals in the upcoming National Broadband Plan outlines re-allocating at least a portion of the over $8 Billion Universal Service Fund towards broadband promotion and internet access as a necessary service, much like telephone access was formalized in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Genachowski hinted at the possibility of increasing broadband infrastructure and programs on tribal lands by using a portion of this Fund.

There will be fireworks in Congress over the contents of this Plan. It is essential that in the upcoming debate, residents of tribal reservations are not left starving for access and resources once again.

All dreams spin out from the same web. –Hopi

Reference Links

FCC Broadband.gov webcasts

Suppressing American Indian Religion with Military Force

When cultures are under stress from rapid change, particular change which is forced upon the people from outside agents, there frequently arise cultural and religious movements which attempt to revitalize the culture and resist change. Many of these revitalization movements are short lived, while others go on to become established religions. In some cases, particularly with regard to cultural revitalization movements among American Indian nations, these movements have been suppressed through military actions. One of these happened on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona in 1880.  

During the 1870s the U.S. military waged a war against the Apache bands in Arizona and New Mexico. The army also crossed into Mexico to attack the bands. The purpose of the military action was to pacify the Apache and to force the bands to live on small reservations which would be out of the way of American settlers who wanted Apache land. In some cases, military actions against the Apache seemed genocidal in their attempts to exterminate men, women, and children. The war against the Apache was urged on by the media, by the Arizona legislature, and by many civic groups. The Arizona Citizen, for example, called for the slaying of every Apache man, women, and child.

In Arizona, the White Mountain Apache Reservation was formally established by Presidential executive order in 1871. This reservation was to become the home to the Western Apache bands. As with other Indian reservations, lands were removed from the reservation when they were found to contain precious metals which non-Indians wanted to mine.

In 1880 a White Mountain Apache elder, Nakaidoklini, talked to the Apaches about a new religion in which dead warriors would return to help the people drive the Americans from their territory. He taught his followers a new dance in which the dancers are arranged like the spokes on a wheel facing inward.

Nakaidoklini announced that he would bring back two chiefs from the dead if the people gave him enough horses and blankets. When the dead chiefs failed to materialize, Nakaidoklini announced that they had refused to return because of the Americans and they would return when the Americans were gone.

In response to Nakaidoklini’s small religious movement, The United States sent soldiers with orders to arrest him or to kill him or both for his teachings. The soldiers entered his quarters and told the old man that he must come with them. Nakaidoklini quietly submited to arrest. On the return journey, the troops were followed by many Apache. As the Apache moved closer, their faces painted, the officer in charge ordered them back and the shooting broke out. The Apache scouts who had come with the troops, then began firing on the soldiers. The officer ordered Nakaidoklini killed and a soldier shot Nakaidoklini at point blank range.

Following this incident, three of the four Chiricahua bands left the San Carlos Reservation and began a series of raids which resulted in a prolonged campaign by General George Crook to “pacify” the Apaches.

The rebel bands, with 74 men and 300 women, included the Nednhi led by Chief Juh and Geronimo, the Chokonen led by Naiche (the son of Cochise), Chato, and Chihuahua, and the Bedonkohe led by Bonito. The Apache who remained on the reservation, including 250 Chiricahua, generally oppose the breakout.

Three of the scouts who turned on the troops – Sergeant Dandy Jim, Sergeant Dead Shot, and Corporal Skippy – were court-martialed, found guilty of mutiny, and hanged. Several others were sent to Alcatraz.  

Flooding Begins on Pine Ridge Rez

    http://newsroom.redcross.org/

  Disaster Alert: Floods in South Dakota

   March 11, 2010

   Disaster Alert

   South Dakota – Flooding is expected in Pine Ridge (Indian Reservation) and may affect about 500 people in the small town of Calico.

   The Black Hills Area chapter opened a shelter last night, will be delivering supplies today, and do damage assessment.

http://www.facebook.com/home.p…

Doreen Twobulls  just was notified that red cross is evacuating our commnity due to flooding comming down from the hills.i am amongst 10 other families. im freaking out because the water is getting pretty high and i really hate to leave my home with 6 kids plus the lil one year old im caring for. THIS SUCKS AND SCAREY

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