First Nations News & Views: AIDS/HIV awareness, Lakota block pipeline trucks, mass hanging memorial

Welcome to the eighth edition of First Nations News & Views. This weekly series is one element in the “Invisible Indians” project put together by Meteor Blades and me, with assistance from the Native American Netroots Group. Last week’s edition is here. In this edition you will find a focus on Native and AIDS/HIV, a look at the year 1824 in American Indian history, five news briefs and some linkable bulleted briefs. Click on any of the headlines below to take you directly to that section of News & Views or to any of our earlier editions.

The Red Road Needs More Than Red Ribbons

By Aji

KyleThumb When you think of the face of HIV/AIDS, it probably doesn’t look like this – but maybe it should. Meet Kyle. He’s a young American Indian man. And he’s HIV-positive.

Tuesday, March 20, is National Native HIV and AIDS Awareness Day.

American Indians now constitute the third-fastest-growing ethnic group with new diagnoses of HIV and AIDS: 10.4 for every 100,000 persons. At first glance, that number seems much smaller than the rate for Hispanics, at 27.8/100,000, and that for African Americans, at 71.3/100,000.

However, the numbers are deceptive. First, as with everything else related to American Indian health, rates of HIV and AIDS are without doubt substantially underreported. Second, “current” estimates are already seven years out of date: The most recent global figures compiled by the Centers for Disease Control are from 2005, and the trends indicate greater rates of infection since then. Indian youth are becoming infected with HIV at faster rates than whites, with shorter survival times.

Third, talking about rates of HIV/AIDS in American Indian communities in terms of numbers per 100,000 population misses the forest for the trees. In the 2010 census, a mere 5.2 million people identified themselves as American Indians, either wholly or in part. That’s only 1.7% of the total U.S. population of some 308 million people. At that level, a diagnosis rate of 1/100th of a percent is a great deal more significant for the entire ethnic group.

And, according to CDC research covering diagnoses between 1997 and 2004, of all ethnic groups, American Indians and African Americans have the shortest rates of post-diagnosis survival: 67% and 66%, respectively, at the end of the period’s nine-year follow-up.

For a demographic in which 26% of those infected don’t even know they have HIV, awareness has now become a matter of both individual and ethnic survival.

It can be disheartening to read the literature of the world of HIV/AIDS awareness and outreach. Even efforts geared toward people of color regularly omit American Indians. Those that do remember to include them too often do so from a dominant-culture perspective that doesn’t even realize that there are cultural and other differences that must be recognized and incorporated into any successful outreach program. This approach makes Indian health, wellness and survival a mere afterthought. And all the red ribbons in the world won’t do a thing to increase awareness of the growing threat that HIV and AIDS present to our communities, much less enhance prevention and ensure survival.

The good news is that several Indian nations have already taken steps to create HIV/AIDS awareness, education, diagnosis, and treatment programs that are culturally relevant and respectful of tradition. Partnering with the Indian Health Service and other public health entities, these efforts target this most underrepresented and underserved of populations in concrete ways.

The Navajo Nation helps administer perhaps the most comprehensive programs currently in existence. The Navajo AIDS Network, founded by Melvin Harrison, partners with the Gallup [New Mexico] Indian Medical Center to provide counseling and case management services to Navajo patients diagnosed with HIV. The group also offers testing and educational services.  

The GIMC itself is a valuable resource: Geared explicitly toward tribal members, it works closely with both the Indian Health Service and traditional hataa’lii, or medicine persons, to provide comprehensive medical and spiritual healing for HIV and AIDS (as well as for any other illness, injury or condition).

The lack of awareness spurred the 2006-2007 Miss Navajo Nation, Jocelyn Billy, to make HIV/AIDS education and outreach the service program for her year in office. Ms. Billy connected with the young people, the group most at risk, and helped adults navigate the gaps between traditional ways and modern medical realities.

Admirable as such efforts are, they aren’t enough, of course. What’s needed is the sort of full-bore commitment to HIV/AIDS awareness in Indian Country that is seen in other public health contexts – for cancer, heart disease or illnesses that are not seen as belonging to some marginalized “other.” On March 14, the White House announced that President Obama has appointed Dr. Grant Colfax as the new director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.Colfax is widely regarded as a public health expert on HIV and AIDS. Now would be a good time to push him and his agency to expand their work to include culturally appropriate outreach, education and treatment among our Native populations.  

The models are already there: Other programs are taking shape around the country.  For a glimpse of some of the events currently planned for Native communities for the coming week, visit NHAAD.org’s site, which features a clickable map.  

You can learn more about Kyle’s daily journey on the Red Road, living as an Indian with HIV, at The Positive Project.

Navajo Wedding Basket divider, Navajo Wedding Basket divider

This week in American Indian History in 1824

By Meteor Blades

Thomas McKenney

On March 11, 1824, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was established. That it was set up, without congressional authorization, as a division of the War Department explains the prevailing view at the time. In fact, Indian affairs had been handled by the War Department since 1789, having been during the Revolution and its aftermath in the hands of three commissioners who included Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry. Ironically, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, who invented the BIA, appointed Thomas McKenney, a Quaker, as its first superintendent. McKenney had been Superintendent of Indian Trade from 1816 until 1822 when the 16-year-old trade program was abolished. Among other things, McKenney took to calling it the Office of Indians Affairs, a name that stuck until authority was transferred to the Interior Department 25 years later.

McKenney worked diligently to get the OIA made official. In 1829, Congress did so, establishing a budget and giving the president authority to appoint a Commissioner of Indian Affairs who reported to the Secretary of War and had responsibility for “the direction and management of all Indian affairs, and all matters arising out of Indian relations.” 

McKenney was a great believer in “civilizing” American Indians but, during his six years at the OIA, he became a vigorous proponent of removing Indians to places west of the Mississippi River. The removed Indians included the Cherokee who had become so “civilized” that thousands of them were literate in their own language with its own alphabet when they were marched out of their homeland at gunpoint. McKenney lost his job in 1830 because another great believer in removing Indians when he wasn’t actively engaged in killing them-Andrew Jackson-disagreed with his view that  “the Indian was, in his intellectual and moral structure, our equal.” McKenney was shocked when he later saw how brutal the murderous removals actually were in practice.

When the Interior Department was established in 1849, the OIA was moved out of the War Department and permanently named the BIA, as Calhoun had intended from the beginning. Over the next 18 years, much of its work related to distributing aid, including food, both to Indians who had been removed and were now starving in their strange new environments, and to others who had signed treaties providing annuities in exchange for great swaths of their land. Corruption was the rule of the day. Indian agents, who often bribed their way into office, cheated the tribes of what was due them in various ways, many of them becoming wealthy buying secondhand goods and wormy food with Washington’s allocated funds for the tribes and pocketing the difference.

A congressional investigation in 1867 made recommendations for modest changes, some of which were enacted. However, a proposal to remove the BIA from Interior and make it an independent agency failed. In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed his Civil War adjustant, Ely Parker (Seneca) as the first commissioner of the BIA with Native blood. For the next two years, under Grant’s “peace policy,” military conflict with the tribes was greatly reduced. But after Parker left office, that changed again. Indians were fought, defeated and corralled onto ever smaller pieces of land, often far from their home territory. By 1900, the BIA had effectively become tribal government for all intents and purposes.

Over the next century, the BIA was investigated, reformed and reorganized several times as Indian policy went from the devastating allotment period that led to the seizure of tens of thousands of acres of land, the reestablishment tribal governments under the New Deal, the termination policies of the 1950s and 1960s during which more land was taken, and the turn toward more tribal sovereignty in the ’70s and ’80s as a partial consequence of red militancy emerging out of the broader civil rights movement. 

Today, the BIA remains at Interior and holds nearly 56 million acres of land in trust for 566 Indian tribes and Alaskan Natives. How that land gets exploited by non-Indians remains a major point of contention between the bureau and many tribes. The BIA also runs Indian schools and Indian child welfare. It provides funding and training for police forces, tribal courts, reservation road building and other operations in cooperation with tribal governments. Where once Indian employees were rare, they now make up the vast majority of the bureau’s workforce, which is headed by Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echohawk (Pawnee). Having Indians in charge has not stopped many other Indians from continuing to call the agency the Bureau of Incompetence and Arrogance.

•••

Additional information about the BIA can be found in this diary by Ojibwa.

More below:

FNNVs News Briefs Divider, San Serif

Oglalas Face Criminal Charges for Civil Disobedience Related to Canadian Tar Sands

By navajo

Debra White Plume, Lakota Blockade

First Nations people in Canada and the United States have been in the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline ever since builder TransCanada proposed it years ago. The 1661-mile pipeline is designed to carry bitumen from the Alberta tar sands deposits to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas where it can be turned into oil. Along with other foes, some Indians were arrested last summer during protests against the pipeline at the White House.

Earlier this month, Lakotas on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southern South Dakota stepped up their opposition by blocking a highway when two massive trucks headed for the tar-sands mines forced a reservation motorist to pull off the road. Several of them were arrested but they vow to keep up their opposition.

The blockade got underway March 5 after word reached Debra White Plume (Oglala)that trucks carrying unusual covered cargo were making their way down the relatively narrow reservation highway not built for such heavy vehicles. White Plume, who was arrested last year in the White House protests, and whom climate-change activist Bill McKibben calls his “hero,” went into action when she heard that “Calgary, Alberta, Canada” was written on the side of the trucks from the Trotan company. She wasted no time in rallying her people and rushing to intercept the trucks. While she was en route, social media and the local reservation radio station, KILI, went into action, calling all able- bodied people to show up and support the blockade.

Marie Randall, Marie Brush Breaker Randall, Oyate Akitapi Win - Nation Woman, who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the small hamlet of Wanblee, South Dakota
Marie Brush Breaker Randall 

or Grandma Marie, 92 

(Oglala Lakota)

Nearly 75 people eventually arrived, including 92-year-old Marie Brush Breaker Randall (Oglala), who is called Grandma Marie by everyone on the reservation, and another revered elder, Renabelle Bad Cob (Oglala), who came in her wheelchair. 

Grandma Marie, her given name is Oyate Akitapi Win-Nation Woman (Oglala), lives in Wanblee, the word for “eagle” in Lakota. Her work includes raising awareness about diabetes and teaching the Lakota language to the next generation of Oglalas at Crazy Horse High School.

Her eloquent statements to the tribal police about the reasons for the human blockade are documented in this video that has had over 23,000 views since March 6. She says the road traverses Lakota land and asks the truckers who gave them permission to drive through. Why, she asks, didn’t they take much-faster state roads? In fact, who can travel on reservation roads has been long established by the courts, and the truckers were within the law.

Video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/embed/9…

The truckers, who were bringing their cargo from Texas, told blockade leaders that they had not been told their designated route would take them through Indian Country. They produced papers showing they “…each carried a ‘treater vessel’ which is used to separate gas and oil and other elements. Each weighs 229,155 pounds [far more than the residential roads are built to handle] and is valued at $1,259,593…” White Plume says in the video that the truckers also told them that the corporate office in Canada and the state of South Dakota made a deal to save the corporation $50,000 per truck by driving through the reservation to avoid state weighing stations. Randall proposed that the reservation needs to set up its own weigh stations. 

The prevailing attitude of the peaceful blockaders was we will not stand down whatever the cost. 

After six hours, the tribal police showed up and asked everyone to leave. Five Lakota refused. So Alex White Plume, Debra White Plume, Andrew Ironshell, Sam Long Black Cat and Don Ironshell were arrested and charged with the only thing police could come up with, disorderly conduct. They were booked and released. Debra White Plume:

We stood our ground for our land, our treaty rights, our human rights to clean drinking water and our coming generations. We did this in solidarity with the First Nations people in Canada who are being killed by the tar sands oil mine, which is so big it can be seen from outer space, it is as big as the state of Florida. It didn’t matter where the heavy haul was going, either to the tarsands oil killing fields, or another oil mine, we didn’t want it crossing our lands, until the Tribal Police could get there and determine under whose authority they got onto the Reservation

The huge trucks could not be turned around easily, so they were escorted off the reservation by the tribal police.

After the blockade, Debra White Plume says the Associated Press incorrectly attributed to her statements about what she was told. She said the reporter wrote in a story that appeared in the Argus Leader and Rapid City Journal that “the truckers told the group they were heading to a Canadian oil field with empty containers for drinking water,” when the truckers actually told her they were carrying treater vessels. The AP article also said a spokesperson for TransCanada had denied the trucks or their cargo had anything to do with the tar sands or the pipeline.

People on other reservations are organizing and preparing to block future Trotan convoys if they try to transit through their reservations. This likely generated new charges against the previously arrested five Oglalas have been told they now face.

According to a posting on Andrew Ironshell’s Facebook page, tribal Attorney General Rae Ann Red Owl is compiling a list of as many as eight charges put together with FBI involvement. A trial date will be set sometime in the coming week. The five arrested protesters have been told not to speak with the media and not to return to the blockade site on the highway. They may travel to Wanblee, but cannot pass through, which is something Ironshell called “ironic, huh?” the blockaders now blocked. “Will the OST [Oglala Sioux Tribe] Tribal Court support the values of the community or the interests of a corporate US Congress and a foreign company – TransCanada?”

On March 7, Alex White Plume wrote that the acting chief judge of the OST will handle the case and that Judge Fred Cedar Face has been recused. This presents an issue of fairness, White Plume wrote, because Cedar Face knows Oglala customs and speaks Lakota but the acting chief judge, who is not Oglala, does not.

Meanwhile, next Thursday, President Obama will visit Cushing, Okla., a major hub of oil pipelines. TransCanada has been given the green-light to build the southern leg of the Keystone XL from Cushing to Texas refineries at Port Arthur. Many foes of Keystone view the president’s “welcoming” statement regarding that section of the pipeline as an indication he will approve the whole project once the company has provided an alternative route that avoids the ecologically fragile Sandhills of Nebraska, a major focus of the opposition to TransCanada’s original rejected application.

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Dakota Descendants Seek Memorial for Largest U.S. Mass Execution

By Meteor Blades

Vernell and Ernest Wabasha with young relative

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the largest mass execution in U.S. history. On Dec. 26, 1862, on the direct orders of President Abraham Lincoln, 38 eastern Dakota (Sioux) men were sent to the gallows in Mankato, Minn., the penultimate act in the six-week-long Dakota War of 1862, also known as the Sioux Uprising. The final act was the expulsion of the Dakota from Minnesota and the termination of their reservations in the state.

Now, direct descendants of those hanged that day want to establish a memorial to them in Reconciliation Park in Mankato. But the majority of the city council, after informally approving the memorial, retreated recently by tabling formal consideration. Calling up old language, one councilman spoke of the “hostility” in the words of a 1971 poem that supporters of the memorial want included on it. That poem, which the councilman called divisive and untrue had nothing to do with reconciliation, he said.

Like hundreds of conflicts in the Indian wars before and after, the 1862 Dakota resistance arose out of broken promises. Before the ink was dry on the 1851 Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, Congress had stricken the crucial Article 3. This guaranteed a strip of land 70 miles long and 10 miles wide on each side of the Minnesota River for a reservation. Instead, Congress bought the land for 10 cents an acre and annuities.  

Jerome Big Eagle

(Mdewakanton Dakota)

Soon the Dakota were confined to the strip on the south side of the river. Payment of annuities were often late when they weren’t diverted by greedy, unscrupulous Indian agents who had bribed their way into office. They stole from the Dakota by various means. By the late 1850s, deprived or their best hunting grounds, plagued by rough winters and failed crops, the starving Dakota became ever more dependent on government food distributions. These too were often late and, thanks to government contractors and agents, consisted of substandard goods when they arrived at all. The Dakota became increasingly incensed over land encroachments and the failure to enforce the treaty rights they had forced to exchange for money and goods.

The push into a smaller space was meant to force the Dakota to adopt a new way of life. Chief Big Eagle said many years later, “It seemed too sudden to make a change […] If the Indians had tried to make the whites live like them, the whites would have resisted and it was the same with many Indians.”

Though accounts of his specific words vary, storekeeper Andrew J. Myrick inflamed passions in August 1862, by remarking at a meeting where Dakota representatives sought to buy food on credit, “If they are hungry, let them eat grass.” Several days after the meeting, four hungry and enraged Rice Creek Dakotas took it out on five settlers near Acton, Minn. Those killings spurred Dakota chief Little Crow to call a council that chose to go to war. Soon after the fighting broke out, Myrick was found dead with grass stuffed in his mouth.

The conflict ultimately killed some 500 whites and an uncounted number of Dakotas, including the 38 who were hanged in December that year. At one point, thinking the uprising might be part of a Rebel conspiracy, President Lincoln pondered the option of freeing 10,000 Confederate POWs to fight the Dakota under Union commanders. Before that could happen, however, the war was over.

In late September, a five-member military commission was convened. On the first day, 10 Dakota were sentenced to death. So it went for six weeks, 393 cases, 323 convictions, 303 death sentences. Thanks to pleas from an episcopal bishop, Lincoln commuted the sentences of all but 39, and one additional man was later granted a reprieve. The day after Christmas, chanting their death songs, they marched single file onto the gallows in Mankato and were hanged. Seven months later, Little Crow – who had escaped to Canada before the trial but returned to Minnesota – was killed by a white settler who shot him for a $500 bounty. Little Crow’s scalp and skull were displayed in St. Paul and finally returned to his grandson in 1971.

The proposed memorial

Minnesota Gov. Rudy Perpich declared 1987, the 125th anniversary of the executions, a “Year of Reconciliation.” Out of that came Reconciliation Park in Mankato, where today there is a plaque and two sculptures, one of a Dakota “Winter Warrior” and one of a bison, both victims of the Manifest Destiny that generated the 1862 uprising in the first place.

But those sculptures aren’t enough for Vernal Wabasha (Dakota). She and others want a memorial in the park for those executed. “They have markers all along the road about our savage Indians attacking white people,” said Wabasha, who has been married to Ernest Wabasha, a hereditary Dakota chief, for 56 years. He is the sixth chief of that name. The third one was chief at the time of the executions. Said Vernell Wabasha: “These men fought for the Dakota way of life, trying to hang onto something, to hang onto this land for the future generations of their children and grandchildren. […] They weren’t savages like they’ve been depicted for so long,”

Designed by Linda Bernard and Martin Barnard (Dakota), the proposed memorial lists the 38 names on a 10-by-4-foot scroll. The phrase “forgive everyone everything” circles the monument, planned to be 20 feet in diameter. The names on one of the fiberglass scrolls will face south because the Dakota traditionally believe the spirits of the dead rise on the fourth day and travel south.

On the other scroll was to be a poem about executions written in 1971 by the state’s former human rights commissioner, Conrad Balfour. But that 20-line verse is what prompted the city council to back off endorsing the memorial two weeks ago. Among the criticized lines:

The day before the countryside had mourned the

death of Christ the Jew

Then went to bed to rise again to crucify the

captured Sioux […]

Then Captain Dooley cut the rope

38 was cleared of breath

Christmas day the children laughed and churches prayed the blessing set

In that town was 38 was blessed

Peace on earth good will to men

A few days after the council’s action, a bland new poem was written by Katherine Hughes that is more to the liking of at least some councilmembers:

Remember the innocent dead,

Both Dakota and white,

Victims of events they could not control.

Remember the guilty dead,

Both white and Dakota,

Whom reason abandoned.

Regret the times and attitudes

That brought dishonor

To both cultures.

Respect the deeds and kindnesses

that brought honor

To both cultures

Hope for a future

When memories remain,

Balanced by forgiveness.

While several councilmembers have said the new poem is acceptable, Vernell Wabasha is withholding judgment. Nothing is “chiseled in stone,” she said.

Cost of the memorial is estimated at between $55,000 and $75,000. Thus, if it is approved, fund-raising is next on the agenda. Wabasha, the Barnards and supporters of the project hope finished it by September, in time for the Mankato wacipi (pow-wow) gathering.

The names of the 38 who were executed:

Ti-hdo-ni-ca (One Who Jealously Guards His Home)

Ptan Du-ta (Scarlet Otter)

Oyate Ta-wa (His People)

Hin-han-sun-ko-yag-ma-ni (One Who Walks Clothed In Owl Feathers)

Ma-za Bo-mdu (Iron Blower)

Wa-hpe Duta (Scarlet Leaf)

Wa-hi-na (I Came)

Sna Ma-ni (Tinkling Walker)

Hda In-yan-ka (Rattling Runner)

Do-wan-s-a (Sings A Lot)

He-pan (Second Born Male Child)

Sun-ka ska (White Dog)

Tun-kan I-ca-hda ma-ni (One Who Walks By His Grandfather)

I-te Du-ta (Scarlet Face)

Ka-mde-ca (Broken Into Pieces)

He pi-da (Third Born Male)

Ma-kpi-ya (Cut Nose)

Henry Milord

Wa-kin-yan-na (Little Thunder)

Cas-ke-da (First Born)

Baptiste Campbell

Ta-te Ka-ga (Wind Maker)

He In-Kpa (The Tip Of The Horn)

Hypolite Ange

Na-pe-sni (Fearless)

Wa-kan Tanka (Great Spirit)

Tun-kan Ko-yag I-na-zin (One Who Stands Cloaked In Stone)

Ma-ka-ta I-na-zin (One Who Stands On The Earth)

Maza Kute-mani (One Who Shoots As He Walks)

Ta-te Hdi-da (Wind Comes Home)

Wa-si-cun (White Man)

A-i-ca-ga (To Grow Upon)

Ho-i-tan-in-ku (Returning Clear Voice)

Ce-tan Hu-nka (Elder Hawk)

Can ka-hda (Near The Woods)

Hda-hin-hde (Sudden Rattle)

Oyate A-ku (He Brings The People)

Ma-hu-we-hi (He Comes For Me)

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Ancient Alutiiq Kayak to Revive Construction Knowledge

By navajo

Illustration of an Alutiiq Hunter

Alutiiq seal-skin kayaks were usually buried with their owners. But one dating back nearly a century and a half has been stored at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology since 1869. Now, with help from two visiting Alutiiqs from Alaska – Alfred Naumoff, the last traditionally trained Alutiiq kayak-maker and seal-skin sewer Susan Malutin – researchers hope to learn more about the kayak and take efforts to preserve it before it is moved to the Alutiiq Museum on long-term loan.

When he was a teenager, Naumoff began to ask tribal elders about traditional kayak-making. On his trip to Cambridge he identified many components of the kayak that the researchers did not previously understand, such as that it had been made for a right-hander and that the craftspeople engaged in a long process to ensure the seal skins produced a light weight, yet extremely durable covering for the kayak.

For centuries, kayaks were central to the lives of the people of the southern Alaskan coast.

“I heard a reference that to insult somebody, you said, ‘Your father had no kayak,'” [Alutiiq Museum Director Sven] Haakanson said with a laugh. Alutiiqs used their kayaks to fish for porpoise, to hunt seals, whales and sea lions, as well as for traveling through the Aleutians and, at least once, as far as San Francisco, he said. “It was critical. Without having those skills to go out and kayak, you were going to starve. You couldn’t survive in Kodiak without that knowledge.”

The ancient Alutiiq way of hunting was replaced upon contact with Russian and European invaders who had modern boats and firearms. Assimilation and persecution took effect and traditional kayak-making, like language and other cultural elements, began a path toward extinction.

When the Peabody researchers complete their work, the kayak will be moved to the Alutiiq Museum. “It is hoped it can be used to invigorate the next generation’s interest in Alutiiq traditions and repatriate the knowledge,” Haakanson said.

h/t to GreyHawk

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Youngest Iditarod Winner Ever Followed Trail of Ancient Alaskan Natives

By navajo and Meteor Blades

Iditarod dogs, Photo Courtesy of Frank Kovalchek

-Photo Courtesy of Frank Kovalchek

Part of what is now the Iditarod Trail was used by the Native American Inupiak and Athabascan peoples hundreds or more years before Russian fur traders began traveling that route in the 1800s. Now, it’s famous for the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The 2011 winner was John Baker, a 48-year-old Inupiak, the first Native to win the race since 1976. It was his 15th Iditarod. His lead dogs were Velvet and Snickers. They, Baker and the other dogs on the team covered the race in 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds, slicing three hours off the previous record.

That record was not eclipsed by this year’s winner of the 40th Iditarod, Dallas Seavey, from Willow, Alaska. At 25, Seavey is the youngest musher ever to win. His lead dogs were Guinness and Diesel. It took them 9 days, 4 hours, 29 minutes and 26 seconds to complete the grueling race. His father won the race in 2004. His grandfather, now 74, competed in the first Iditarod in 1972.

Two women, Libby Shaw and Susan Butcher, won the Iditarod in the 1980s. Butcher won four times, having lost her chance to become the first women to win in 1985 when her sled rounded a sharp turn and ran into a pregnant moose that killed two and injured five of her dogs. A woman, veteran musher Aliy Zirkle, came in second this year.

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Drunken Indian Poster Celebrates Record Company’s Anniversary

By Meteor Blades

Jonathan Fischer wondered this past week whether the poster advertising a “Pow Wow Party” for Windian Records’ third anniversary had crossed the line.

Is that a Native American? With fangs and exaggerated features? And an intoxicated look? Yes, it is all of those things.

But is it racist? One Washington City Paper contributor thought so, and he let the label know via Twitter. To which Windian proprietor Travis Jackson tweeted back, with his usual caps-lock affect: “HOW IS IT RACIST? ITS JUST ART MAN. BESIDES, IM NATIVE, AND IM NOT OFFENDED…HOW ARE YOU?”

Jackson, former drummer of the garage band The Points, sometimes calls himself “Beeronimo,” claims his grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee and “celebrate my heritage loudly, thru rock and roll music and art.” The Windian logo itself is a Plains Indian wearing a battered feather headdress and a puzzled expression. The fanged pow-wow drawing, which looks a lot like some now-abandoned sports-team logos, is typical, Jackson says, of the work of the artist, Ben Lyon. But Lyon’s work published on-line contains no fanged, besotted caricatures of other people of color. Nothing minstrelsy or lazy-Mexican-style.

Via email, Fischer asked Jackson what was up with the poster and he replied: “Its rock and roll. Its art. Its influenced from 50-60’s Rock N Roll art and culture. Its nothing new, its been done many times over.”

Yes, racist images are indeed nothing new and have been done plenty of times. You can still find wooden “cigar-store” Indians in front of small-town shops the way black lawn jockeys once populated so many front yards.

Ben Lyon himself wrote: “I know I’m not a racist. I think anyone offended enough to make a big stink over the art on a poster for a punk show, that they probably aren’t gonna attend in the first place, probably needs to get a life. Leave it to white American 20-somethings to see a neo-nazi lurking behind every tree.(ha ha!) Who says Indians can only be drawn as stern wisemen? Sounds like stereotyping to me! (ha ha) I would have no problem showing the poster to any of my Native American friends. I stand by my work.”

By March 14, Windian Records has replaced the show poster with a new one. Could “Beeronimo” have wised up?

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Last Fluent Speaker of ‘Kiksht’ Language Dies in Oregon: Gladys Thompson, (Wasco) 97, learned Kiksht from her parents and was also fluent in Ichishkiin and Sahaptin. Honored by the Oregon Legislature in 2007 for working to preserve the culture of the Wasco Tribe and keeping the Kiksht and Ichishkiin languages alive, Thompson also helped pass a bill to certify native language teachers. At the time she had 26 grandchildren, 78 great-grandchildren, and 23 great-great-grandchildren.

-navajo

Larry Echo Hawk Receives the 2012 Governmental Leadership Award from NCAI: Echo Hawk (Pawnee) was appointed in May 2009 as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, a position that oversees 10,000 employees in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education. The National Congress of American Indians, the nation’s oldest and most representative body of Indians, has made the award for the past 13 years. In 2011, it went to then-Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli. Echo Hawk said: “The work we do at Indian Affairs is a rewarding experience in and of itself. It reminds me daily of my civic duty and loyalty toward my tribe, my people, my heritage, Indian Country and America.”

-Meteor Blades

Native Youth and Young Adults Smoke the Most: A 920-page report released by the U.S. Surgeon General shows that American Indian youth (12-17) and young adults (18-25)  are far more likely to smoke tobacco than any other racial/ethnic group in their age bracket. Nearly 50 percent of young adult Indians smoke. The only good news is that there has been a sharp drop in smoking among these cohorts over the past few years.

-Meteor Blades

High-Tech Glass Helps Ojibwes Connect with Beauty of Ancestral Homeland: When the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe built its new government center on the shores of the eastern Minnesota lake to which it has strong ancestral ties, it included large windows so tribal employees could enjoy the view and connect with the outdoors. But when the sun reflects off the water, they have to pull the blinds. Unhappy with that, the band installed SageGlass® in the nine south-facing windows in the wall of the conference room. The glass electronically (and automatically) tints itself and eliminates the need for blinds. The glare is eliminated but employees and visitors have an unobstructed view of the lake.

-Meteor Blades

Sixteen-Year-Old Learns Ojibwe in 10 Days: Tim, who runs the YouTube channel PolyglotPal’s, has taught himself several languages via computer, including Russian, Pashto, two Arabic dialects, Hindi and the American Indian language Ojibwe. You can watch him speaking Ojibwe, or Anishinaabe (with subtitles) here.

-Meteor Blades

Oregon May Ban Schools’ Use of Indian Nicknames for Their Teams: The state board of education has held hearings on whether to force 15 Oregon high schools to stop using Indian nicknames, logos and mascots for sports teams. About 20 schools dropped the usage in the 1970s, but the rest have hung on despite a 2007 recommendation that they be dropped. As elsewhere, some Indians support the ban; others do not. One Indian on the state board, Chairwoman Brenda Frank (Klamath), wants to see the nicknames go. Numerous studies cited by the American Psychological Association say the names, logos and mascots give Indian children a negative self-image. According to psychology professor Andrae Brown, who testified before the board, the use of the nicknames and associated material “undermines the ability of American Indian nations to portray accurate and respectful images of their culture, spirituality and traditions.”

-Meteor Blades

A New TV Series, Navajo Cops premieres on National Geographic Channel: Perhaps the most unusual “cops” series yet, the 17-million-acre reservation is the main challenge the tribal police face, but the scenery shots are a bonus. Officers with traditional views are featured. One policeman washes himself with bitter herb for protection, and many on the force take calls about witchcraft seriously. Clips can be seen here.

-navajo with a h/t to Ed Tracey

Bald Eagle Kill OKed for Northern Arapaho Tribe Under pressure from a lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given an extremely rare approval for kill two bald eagles for religious purposes by the Northern Arapaho of Wyoming. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act forbids killing the eagles or possession of any parts of the birds by non-Indians. American Indians can apply to obtain eagle feathers or carcasses from a federal repository in Colorado to use in ceremonies. The law also allows them to apply for permits to kill bald eagles, but permission has never previously been given. In testimony in 2007 regarding a member of the tribe who had killed an eagle and was being prosecuted for it, Nelson P. White Sr. (Northern Arapaho) said that birds obtained from the repositories were often rotten: “That’s unacceptable. How would a non-Indian feel if they had to get their Bible from a repository?” The USFWS permit states that the tribe may kill or capture and release the birds after the ceremony. Members of the Eastern Shoshone tribe, who share the Wind River Indian Reservation with the Northern Arapaho, oppose the killing of the birds.

-Meteor Blades

red_black_rug_design2


Indians have often been referred to as the “Vanishing Americans.” But we are still here, entangled each in his or her unique way with modern America, blended into the dominant culture or not, full-blood or not, on the reservation or not, and living lives much like the lives of other Americans, but with differences related to our history on this continent, our diverse cultures and religions, and our special legal status. To most other Americans, we are invisible, or only perceived in the most stereotyped fashion.

First Nations News & Views is designed to provide a window into our world, each Sunday reporting on a small number of stories, both the good and the not-so-good, and providing a reminder of where we came from, what we are doing now and what matters to us. We wish to make it clear that neither navajo nor I make any claim whatsoever to speak for anyone other than ourselves, as individuals, not for the Navajo people or the Seminole people, the tribes in which we are enrolled as members, nor, of course, the people of any other tribes.

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

This diary was inspired by the recommended diary Suicide State Of Emergency On Pine Ridge Reservation by Winter Rabbit.

Permission granted to post the following in its entirety:

The Arrogance of Ignorance:

Hidden Away, Out of Sight and Out of Mind

Regarding life, conditions, and hope on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Reservation of South Dakota

This is an article of facts about the lives of modern-day American Indians, a topic most mainstream American news organizations will not discuss. It is not a plea for charity.  It is not a promotion for non-profit organizations. It is not aimed for pity.  It is not even an effort to detail cause and effect.  It is, however, an effort to dispel ignorance…. a massive, pervasive, societal ignorance filled with illusions and caricatures which, ultimately, serve only to corrupt the intelligence and decent intent of the average mainstream citizen. Only through knowledge and understanding can solutions be found.  But facts must be known first.  Then, it is the reader’s choice what to do with those facts.

Reservations-South-Dakota

Hidden away, out of sight but dotting the landscape of America, are the little known or forgotten Reservations of the Indigenous People of our land.  Sadly, the average U.S. mainstream resident knows almost nothing about the people of the Native American reservations other than what romanticized or caricaturized versions they see on film or as the print media stereotypes of oil or casino-rich Indians.  Most assume that whatever poverty exists on a reservation is most certainly comparable to that which they might experience themselves. Further, they assume it is curable by the same means they would use.

But that is the arrogance of ignorance.

Our dominant society is accustomed to being exposed to poverty.  It’s nearly invisible because it is everywhere.  We drive through our cities with a blind eye, numb to the suffering on the streets, or we shake our heads and turn away, assuming help is on the way.  After all, it’s known that the government and the big charities are helping the needy in nearly every corner of the world.

But the question begs: What about the sovereign nations on America’s own soil, within this country, a part and yet apart from mainstream society?  What about these Reservations that few people ever see?

Oddly enough, the case could be made that more Europeans and Australians know and understand the cultures and conditions of our Indigenous people better Americans do.

Moreover, what the Europeans and Australians know is that there are a number of very fortunate Native American Nations whose people are able to earn a very good living due to casino income, natural resource income, a good job market from nearby cities, or from some other source.  They also know, however, that a staggering number of residents on Native American reservations live in abject, incomprehensible conditions rivaling, or even surpassing, that of many Third World countries.

This article chronicles just one Nation: the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  Yet the name and only a few details could easily be changed to describe a host of others…. the Dineh (Navajo), Ute Mountain Ute, Tohono O’odham, Pima, Yaqui, Apache, the Brule’ Lakota (Sioux) ….the list is long.

But this is not an article of hopelessness.  Despite nearly-insurmountable conditions, few resources, and against unbelievable odds, Nation after Nation of Indigenous leaders and their people are working hard to counteract decades of oppression and forced destruction of their cultures, to bring their citizens back to a life of self-respect and self-sufficiency in today’s world.

In the meantime, these words will serve simply to dispel a few illusions and make public part of that which is hidden away, out of sight, out of mind, in the richest country in the world.  It seeks to dispel the arrogance of ignorance.


 Demographic Information
  • The Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Indian Reservation sits in Bennett, Jackson, and Shannon Counties and is located in the southwest corner of South Dakota, fifty miles east of the Wyoming border.
  • The 11,000-square mile (approximately 2,700,000 acres) Pine Ridge Reservation is the second-largest Native American Reservation within the United States.  It is roughly the size of the State of Connecticut.  According to the Oglala Sioux tribal statistics, approximately 1,700,000 acres of this land are owned by the Tribe or by tribal members.
  • The Reservation is divided into eight districts: Eagle Nest, Pass Creek, Wakpamni, LaCreek, Pine Ridge, White Clay, Medicine Root, Porcupine, and Wounded Knee.
  • The topography of the Pine Ridge Reservation includes the barren Badlands, rolling grassland hills, dryland prairie, and areas dotted with pine trees.
  • The Pine Ridge Reservation is home to approximately 40,000 persons, 35% of which are under the age of 18.  The latest Federal Census shows the median age to be 20.6 years.  Approximately half the residents of the Reservation are registered tribal members of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Nation.
  • According to the most recent Federal Census, 58.7% of the grandparents on the Reservation are responsible for raising their own grandchildren.
  • The population is slowly but steadily rising, despite the severe conditions on the Reservation, as more and more Oglala Lakota return home from far-away cities to live within their societal values, be with their families, and assist with the revitalization of their culture and their Nation.

Employment Information
  • Recent reports vary but many point out that the median income on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.
  • The unemployment rate on Pine Ridge is said to be approximately 83-85% and can be higher during the winter months when travel is difficult or often impossible.
  • According to 2006 resources, about 97% of the population lives below Federal poverty levels.
  • There is little industry, technology, or commercial infrastructure on the Reservation to provide employment.
  • Rapid City, South Dakota is the nearest town of size (population approximately 57,700) for those who can travel to find work.  It is located 120 miles from the Reservation.  The nearest large city to Pine Ridge is Denver, Colorado located some 350 miles away.

Life Expectancy and Health Conditions

  • Some figures state that the life expectancy on the Reservation is 48 years old for men and 52 for women. Other reports state that the average life expectancy on the Reservation is 45 years old.  These statistics are far from the 77.5 years of age life expectancy average found in the United States as a whole.  According to current USDA Rural Development documents, the Lakota have the lowest life expectancy of any group in America.
  • Teenage suicide rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is 150% higher than the U.S. national average for this age group.
  • The infant mortality rate is the highest on this continent and is about 300% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • More than half the Reservation’s adults battle addiction and disease.  Alcoholism, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and malnutrition are pervasive.
  • The rate of diabetes on the Reservation is reported to be 800% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • Recent reports indicate that almost 50% of the adults on the Reservation over the age of 40 have diabetes.
  • As a result of the high rate of diabetes on the Reservation, diabetic-related blindness, amputations, and kidney failure are common.
  • The tuberculosis rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately 800% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • It is reported that at least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are infested with Black Mold, Stachybotrys.  This infestation causes an often-fatal condition with infants, children, elderly, those with damaged immune systems, and those with lung and pulmonary conditions at the highest risk.  Exposure to this mold can cause hemorrhaging of the lungs and brain as well as cancer.
  • A Federal Commodity Food Program is active but supplies mostly inappropriate foods (high in carbohydrate and/or sugar) for the largely diabetic population of the Reservation.
  • A small non-profit Food Co-op is in operation on the Reservation but is available only for those with funds to participate.


Health Care
  • Many Reservation residents live without health care due to vast travel distances involved in accessing that care.  Additional factors include under-funded, under-staffed medical facilities and outdated or non-existent medical equipment.
  • Preventive healthcare programs are rare.
  • In most of the treaties between the U.S. Government and Indian Nations, the U.S. government agreed to provide adequate medical care for Indians in return for vast quantities of land.  The Indian Health Services (IHS) was set up to administer the health care for Indians under these treaties and receives an appropriation each year to fund Indian health care. Unfortunately, the appropriation is very small compared to the need and there is little hope for increased funding from Congress. The IHS is understaffed and ill-equipped and can’t possibly address the needs of Indian communities.  Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Education Issues
  • School drop-out rate is over 70%.
  • According to a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) report, the Pine Ridge Reservation schools are in the bottom 10% of school funding by U.S. Department of Education and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Teacher turnover is 800% that of the U.S. national average.


Housing Conditions and Homelessness
  • The small BIA/Tribal Housing Authority homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are overcrowded and scarce, resulting in many homeless families who often use tents or cars for shelter.  Many families live in old cabins or dilapidated mobile homes and trailers.
  • According to a 2003 report from South Dakota State University, the majority of the current Tribal Housing Authority homes were built from 1970-1979.  The report brings to light that a great percentage of that original construction by the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) was “shoddy and substandard.”  The report also states that 26% of the housing units on the Reservation are mobile homes, often purchased or obtained (through donations) as used, low-value units with negative-value equity.
  • Even though there is a large homeless population on the Reservation, most families never turn away a relative no matter how distant the blood relation. Consequently, many homes often have large numbers of people living in them.
  • In a recent case study, the Tribal Council estimated a need for at least 4,000 new homes in order to combat the homeless situation.
  • There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home (a home which may only have two to three rooms).  Some larger homes, built for 6 to 8 people, have up to 30 people living in them.
  • Over-all, 59% of the Reservation homes are substandard.
  • Over 33% of the Reservation homes lack basic water and sewage systems as well as electricity.
  • Many residents must carry (often contaminated) water from the local rivers daily for their personal needs.
  • Some Reservation families are forced to sleep on dirt floors.
  • Without basic insulation or central heating in their homes, many residents on the Pine Ridge Reservation use their ovens to heat their homes.
  • Many Reservation homes lack adequate insulation.  Even more homes lack central heating.
  • Periodically, Reservation residents are found dead from hypothermia (freezing).
  • It is reported that at least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation need to be burned to the ground and replaced with new housing due to infestation of the potentially-fatal Black Mold, Stachybotrys.  There is no insurance or government program to assist families in replacing their homes.
  • 39% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation have no electricity.
  • The most common form of heating fuel is propane.  Wood-burning is the second most common form of heating a home although wood supplies are often expensive or difficult to obtain.
  • Many Reservation homes lack basic furniture and appliances such as beds, refrigerators, and stoves.
  • 60% of Reservation families have no land-line telephone.  The Tribe has recently issued basic cell phones to the residents.  However, these cell phones (commonly called commodity phones) do not operate off the Reservation at all and are often inoperable in the rural areas on the Reservation or during storms or wind.
  • Computers and internet connections are very rare. [written in 2006]
  • Federal and tribal heat assistance programs (such as LLEAP) are limited by their funding.  In the winter of 2005-2006, the average one-time only payment to a family was said to be approximately $250-$300 to cover the entire winter.  For many, that amount did not even fill their propane heating tanks one time.

Life on the Reservation
  • Most Reservation families live in rural and often isolated areas.
  • The largest town on the Reservation is the village of Pine Ridge which has a population of approximately 5,720 people and is the administrative center for the Reservation.
  • There are few improved (paved) roads on the Reservation and most of the rural homes are inaccessible during times of rain or snow.
  • Weather is extreme on the Reservation.  Severe winds are always a factor.  Traditionally, summer temperatures reach well over 110°F and winters bring bitter cold with temperatures that can reach – 50°F or worse.  Flooding, tornados, or wildfires are always a risk.
  • The Pine Ridge Reservation still has no banks, discount stores, or movie theaters.  It has only one grocery store of any moderate size and it is located in the village of Pine Ridge on the Reservation.  A motel just opened in 2006 near the Oglala Lakota College at Kyle, South Dakota.  There are said to be about 8 Bed and Breakfast or campsite locations found across the Reservation but that number varies from time to time since most are part of a private home.
  • Several of the banks and lending institutions nearest to the Reservation have been targeted for investigation of fraudulent or predatory lending practices, with the citizens of the Pine Ridge Reservation as their victims.
  • There are no public libraries except one at the Oglala Lakota College.
  • There is 1 radio station on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  KILI 90.1FM is located near the town of Porcupine on the Reservation.

Transportation

  • There is no public transportation available on the Reservation.
  • Only a minority of Reservation residents own an operable automobile.
  • Predominant form of travel for all ages on the Reservation is walking or hitchhiking.
  • There is one very small airport on the Reservation servicing both the Pine Ridge Reservation and Shannon County.  It’s longest, paved runway extends 4,969 feet.  There are no commercial flights available.  The majority of flights using the airport are Federal, State, or County Government-related.
  • The nearest commercial airport and/or commercial bus line is located in Rapid City, South Dakota (approximately 120 miles away).


Alcoholism
  • Alcoholism affects 8 out of 10 families on the Reservation.
  • The death rate from alcohol-related problems on the Reservation is 300% higher than the remaining US population.
  • The Oglala Lakota Nation has prohibited the sale and possession of alcohol on the Pine Ridge Reservation since the early 1970’s.  However, the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska (which sits 400 yards off the Reservation border in a contested “buffer” zone) has approximately 14 residents and four liquor stores which sell over 4,100,000 cans of beer each year resulting in a $3,000,000 annual trade.  Unlike other Nebraska communities, Whiteclay exists only to sell liquor and make money. It has no schools, no churches, no civic organizations, no parks, no benches, no public bathrooms, no fire service and no law enforcement.  Tribal officials have repeatedly pleaded with the State of Nebraska to close these liquor stores or enforce the State laws regulating liquor stores but have been consistently refused.


Water and Aquifer Contamination
  • Many wells and much of the water and land on the Reservation is contaminated with pesticides and other poisons from farming, mining, open dumps, and commercial and governmental mining operations outside the Reservation.  A further source of contamination is buried ordnance and hazardous materials from closed U.S. military bombing ranges on the Reservation.
  • Scientific studies show that the High Plains/Oglala Aquifer which begins underneath the Pine Ridge Reservation is predicted to run dry in less than 30 years due to commercial interest use and dryland farming in numerous states south of the Reservation.  This critical North American underground water resource is not renewable at anything near the present consumption rate.  The recent years of drought have simply accelerated the problem.
  • Scientific studies show that much of the High Plains/Oglala Aquifer has been contaminated with farming pesticides and commercial, factory, mining, and industrial contaminants in the States of South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.


Sovereignty and Tribal Government
  • By Treaty, the Tribal nations are considered to have sovereign governmental status.  They have a special government to government relationship with the United States.  Interactions with the U.S. Government and the Department of Interior (and its Bureau of Indian Affairs) are supposed to be through Treaty negotiations and most Federal programs (such as Indian Health Services) were purchased by the Tribal nations (usually with land) and guaranteed by Treaty.  This is specifically true for the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation of the Pine Ridge Reservation.
  • The Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribal government operates under a constitution consistent with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and approved by the Tribal membership and Tribal Council of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribe. The Tribe is governed by an elected body consisting of a 5 member Executive Committee and an 18 member Tribal Council, all of whom serve a two year term.


Hope
  • Currently, there are various efforts underway to implement innovative techniques and solutions to Reservation problems.  These projects include community volunteer groups, alternative education programs, wind or water energy initiatives, substance abuse programs, cultural and language programs, employment opportunities, cottage industries, promotion of artists and musicians, small co-op businesses, etc.  However, funding for these programs is highly limited.
  • There are several very small projects now working to help with the housing shortage.  Some of these involve using donated mobile homes, community-built sod housing, other community-built housing (such as Habitat for Humanity), exploring possible use of unused FEMA mobile homes, and other alternate solutions.  Unfortunately, funding is highly limited.
  • The Tribal Council Housing Authority is working as hard as it can to build new homes and repair existing structures but it is limited by the small, limited amount of funding available.
  • There are a few reputable small non-profit organizations attempting to sincerely assist the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in their efforts to resolve and mitigate existing problems.  However, funding for these programs is currently highly limited.
  • There is one small independent (non-IHS) clinic on the Reservation at the community of Porcupine.  It was founded and is controlled by the Lakota community.  It just recently obtained its first dialysis machine and runs an aggressive program to combat diabetes.  However, funding is very limited and is obtained locally and through grants.
  • The Oglala Lakota are a determined, intelligent, and proud People who are working hard to over-come their Reservation problems.  Against all odds, with minimal resources, they are slowly working to re-claim their self-sufficiency, their culture, and their life.

These statistics concerning the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Reservation were compiled from Political, Educational, Government, Non-Profit, and Tribal Publications.  An earlier version was published by the same author in 2002 entitled, Hidden Away, in the Land of Plenty.

By Stephanie M. Schwartz,

Freelance Writer and Native Village advisor

Member, Native American Journalists Association

© October 15, 2006   Brighton, Colorado

SilvrDrach.homestead.com

H/T cacamp’s (Carter Camp)comment deserves a whole diary.

The conditions described above are from 2006 but they haven’t changed much. They are most likely worse due to two more years of Repub cutbacks and contributed to the tribal emergency declaration of 12/09. It’s important to remember what we are dealing with when we try to make things better for our reservations. Many of them are in almost the same condition as Pine Ridge. In addition to the teen problem of suicide there is also the gang problem.

Our team at Native American Netroots wants to focus on the section above about Hope but to begin that journey we need to understand the demographics.

Eagle Feather



Native American Netroots Summary of Our Efforts Since Feb. 1, 2010

The GOOD NEWS is:

The NOT SO GOOD NEWS is:

  • The majority of the online donations above benefit only one tribe.
  • LIHEAP assistance for northern states was cut so southern states (including Puerto Rico) could receive help. This terrible decision was based on unemployment levels. South Dakota’s unemployment rate is 5%. This decision ignores the 85% unemployment rate on many reservations.

    Already, lawmakers from northern states are lobbying for the remaining $100 million in emergency funding.

    Next winter’s funding is also being reduced. See ACTION links below.

  • You and I have to watch and make sure that any promised funding actually makes it to the reservations.
  • We are still waiting to hear from the producer Keith sent to South Dakota. I hope this isn’t the end of his coverage. We are sending positive energy in Keith’s direction to give him strength to deal with his father’s illness.
  • Many reservations across our nation need assistance with heat right now.

While the author above is not making a plea for charity, I am.

HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DONATION TO BUY PROPANE

Leave me a comment if you telephone and make a donation during this week, we are keeping track of matching funds.

I feel like I’ve tapped you guys out regarding emergency propane deliveries to Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations. We need someone big to step in and give all our reservations some immediate assistance with heat. The problem will be on going until the warmer weather arrives in May or so. Our team is going to divide up and prod the large charities to release their funding STAT to help with heating resources. We need your help in putting pressure on government to increase LIHEAP funding for next winter, not reduce it as is planned for our reservations. Unemployment levels on reservations are often much higher than state levels.

Carter Camp has also mentioned that there is a huge need for a massive housing effort, one like the Marshall Plan that rebuilt parts of Europe after WWII. We are going to work on smaller plans like Habitat for Humanity but also the larger effort that Carter describes.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

Contact Information for State and Local Officials

Federal Agency Contacts

Media Contacts

Special thanks to our new group of researchers, advisors and diarists who make up NATIVE AMERICAN NETROOTS:

4Freedom, Aji, bablhous, Bill in MD, Chris Rodda, Deep Harm, exmearden, KentuckyKat, Kimberley, Kitsap River, Land of Enchantment, No Way Lack of Brain, Oke, ParkRanger, Richard Cranium, Soothsayer99, swampus, TiaRachel, tlemon, translatorpro, Diogenes2008, birdbrain64, lexalou, marthature, meralda.

Advisors:



Rosebud Reservation
Photobucket

cacamp

SarahLee

lpggirl

Pine Ridge Reservation Photobucket

Autumn Two Bulls

Kevin Killer, State Rep. Pine Ridge SD Dist. 27

     

Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots

 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.

                red_black_rug_design2

Suicide State Of Emergency On Pine Ridge Reservation



Tribal president declares state of emergency over increase in youth suicide attempts Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2009

PINE RIDGE — Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls will declare a suicide state of emergency for Pine Ridge Indian Reservation during a news conference at 1 p.m. today.

I want to share a personal story, because I hope people contacting the White House will save lives by giving hope. How many, I don’t know. I wouldn’t share it unless I thought it would be helpful to others. Suffice it to say, hope through someone to talk to would’ve been the difference between a 20 gauge shotgun to my head or not at 17.

I was 17 years old and my codependence combined with normal adolescent neurosis and feelings of abandonment left me feeling absolutely hopeless. I was raised in a good family and we had a good house, but New Years Eve of ’87 found me calling suicide hotlines – but nobody answered.

I further spiraled into hopelessness thinking, “New Years Eve, they know it’s a night of higher suicide rates, that’s it.” I made the decision to end my life.

It was really a strange feeling going into my parent’s room, putting a shell in a 20 gauge shotgun with tears streaming down my face, and pointing it to my head. I had taken the safety off. I just wanted someone to help me and talk to me. Nonetheless, I put enough pressure on the trigger for it to go off, but I saw something out of the right corner of my right eye. The gun didn’t fire and I was amazed that it didn’t. I put it to my head again and these thoughts seemed to be streamed into my mind, “If you do this, you’re one selfish bastard.”

I put the gun up.

I sponsored someone 13 years later, and when he committed suicide via an overdose I understood why. However, many were at his funeral and I still remember thinking, “I wish you could have seen then how many people care now.”

From a MySpace bulletin:


Autumn TwoBulls: Take a Stand Against Poverty & Suicide in Lakota Country join us in Calling The White House ~202 456 1111Share

Today at 3:13pm

Autumn TwoBulls: Take a Stand Against Poverty & Suicide in Lakota Country join us in Calling The White House ~202 456 1111 This is the time when my people should be treated fair and with justice.

Support the Sweet Grass Suicide Provention Program here in Pine Ridge Reservation

This is an epmidemic among Lakota Country please give our Lakota Youth a Voice for Hope!

Follow -Up Call In to White House Tuesday March 2, 2010

Help bring a voice to the Lakota Nation in the matters Poverty and Suicide on the Pine Ridge Reservation/Contact White House

To Friends, Relations and supporters.,

Thank you for the overwhelming response to our White House Call In last Tuesday 2/16 and again on Friday.

Over the last while, you have seen and heard of the terrible situations and conditions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Again, I am asking you to come make your voice be heard.Last Tuesday all of you overwhelmed the Comment line 202 456 1111.

On Tuesday, March 2, 2010, please take the time to call in again.We need to keep this subject on the President’s “Radar” and this is a way for us to be heard.

Tell President Obama of the awful conditions facing my people here on Pine Ridge. Tell him the Oglala Sioux Tribe Declared a State of Emergency on Suicide in December Remind him of the promises that he has made to the First Nations/Native American people. Promises waiting to be fulfilled.

When you call the comment line tell them about the grinding poverty rates, the 80% unemployment and the desperation that is leading so many of our people and youth to commite suicide. We are asking that Aide is brought to our Lakota Nation in these matters.

1: When you make your call, please be respectful

2: State in your call Why you are calling, i.e., Suicide and povertyon the Pine Ridge Reservation, etc

3: State that you would like to know what the President can do about this.

4: Remind respectfully that the President made promises to the First NationsNative American People during his campaign.

Help us to be heard again, we’ve only just begun use our voice.

Together we can make a difference for the people. One voice together, loud enough for the President to open his mind and his heart to my people, the Lakota Nation of Pine Ridge Reservation.

Please begin calling during buisness hours which are 9am – 4 pm Eastern time. Keep calling and emailing all day.

I am so grateful for the support in this effort to help Our Lakota Nation be heard. Lets work together as one voice

Pila Unyape, Wopila Tanka Echichiyape

Respectfully, Autumn Two Bulls

Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge South Dakota

http: //www.whitehouse.gov/contact

PHONE THE WHITE HOUSE:

202 456 1111

Faced with rash of suicides, OST President Two Bulls declares an emergency

www. rapidcityjournal.com

In an emotional appeal to the people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls declared a state of emergency Thursday in the face of overwhelming numbers of suicides and suicide attempts on South Dakota’s largest reservation.


Chief Teresa TwoBulls declared a State of Emergency weeks ago, as conditions have become unbearable in a very harsh winter. The White House is silent.

Where is the HOPE that President Obama has promised? Where is HOPE for the Lakota?

Here is the President’s Opening words to the Tribal Nations Conference last November.



Pine Ridge Reservation America’s Own Third World Country

I have never quite understood people who travel oversees and put forth so much effort to help those in Under developed countries, when we have a place right here in the US that has Third World conditions. Technically, this place is not “in the United States.” It is an Indian Reservation, therefore a Sovereign Nation.

– snip –

•  The Average life expectancy

on the Reservation is 46

•  Pine Ridge Teen suicide rate is 150 times higher than the National Average

•  65% of the residents of the Reservation live in sub-standard conditions such as no electricity, running water, and often, without heat

Dakotas Snow Emergency: Charity and Beyond

Thanks to navajo and a robust crew of volunteers and diarists, the snow emergency on the Indian Reservations in the Dakotas found its way to the TV (thanks, Keith!) and more donations have started to flow.  (Navajo’s excellent compilation of donation contact info and links here.)  My intention is to add a little background to the story, because it’s annoying as all get-out that this has ever become a situation for charity.

In the early days of the United States, Indian Affairs was an agency under the War (later Defense) Department.  Not unlike the private contractors in Iraq, the Indian agents in the field typically did much better than the people they were charged with protecting and assisting.  Often much better.

With much bloodshed and ruthless, duplicitous behavior, the indigenous population of the US was driven from its homelands, and confined to reservations.  (Except for the tribes, like the Mandans on the Plains, that died off completely.)  Tactics included wanton slaughter of the buffalo to deprive the natives of their means of material survival, thus forcing them into submission and opening up their territories for white settlers.  Public debate back in the 1800s centered on questions like whether or not the Indians were human possessing souls, and whether the nations first peoples should be “civilized” or simply killed off by genocide.

Private Allotments

The latter option was only partially accomplished (via bounties for Indian scalps, and other atrocities), and the former eventually became policy.  In the 1880s, the Dawes Act was passed, dividing much reservation land into individually owned allotments, meant to be developed as family farms.  In short order, most Indian land ended up in non-Indian ownership.  This is not so surprising, if one considers that the Indians had non-written languages, and concepts like foreclosure and executed contracts and arguing cases before judges in courtrooms were utterly and completely alien to them.  The very concept of individuals owning a piece of ground wasn’t how they’d ever thought about their relationship to Mother Earth.  Of course, this is grossly oversimplified, since there are a wide array of cultures amongst the hundreds of different tribes once native within the present U.S. boundaries.  But it applies pretty well to the nomadic Plains tribes with reservations on the High Plains.

In time, the ability to transfer title of Indian land to non-Indian owners was curtailed.  (Except when the Congress declares an emergency – like in World War II, when large tracts of Lakota and Washington state’s Nisqually lands got annexed to military facilities, never to be returned.  But I digress.)

Legally, to this day, the federal government has a trust responsibility towards the tribes.  Tribes exist, legally, as dependent sovereign entities, with all the ambiguity and confusion that oxymoronic phrase suggests.  There are treaty obligations the U.S. government owes the tribes, in exchange for giving up most of the country.  For laying down their arms, and not contesting (i.e. killing) settlers taking over most all of what was once theirs.  Those obligations include health care, education and various general welfare items such as roads.

Too often, uninformed people tend to think of those obligations as some kind of welfare.  I think of it is as if there were an “interest-only” mortgage on the entire country, and the U.S. owes, in perpetuity, to make good on the deal.  

The Cobell Case

There’s another frequently overlooked angle on the impoverished state of the reservations.  The federal government, via the Bureau of Indian affairs (long since transferred from War to Interior Dept.), acts as a trustee for both the tribes and the owners of the individual land allotments.  Remembering that the allotments were first carved up back in the 1800s, and that the owners typically died without written wills or even file change of title (much less have a survey done) when a piece of land was sold or given away, keeping track of the ownership of these tracts is a non-trivial problem.

The feds, as trustees, have leased out lands for various purposes over the decades – purposes such as logging, mining, grazing, farming (where non-Indians could get soil bank payments for not planting crops, but Indians could not) and oil and gas drilling.  As trustees, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was supposed to account for those payments, and disburse them to the land owners.

The records were bad, and back in the 1990s, a Blackfeet woman from Montana called Eloise Cobell, a banker, started getting serious about getting those records accounted for, and proper payments made to landowners for said leases.  Let me restate the problem: For well over a century, the US government had been taking in lease payments, but couldn’t account for something in excess of $100 billion dollars dating back to the 1880s.  A trustee in any other context would have had their ass tossed in jail long since for such sloppy work.  To be clear, payments were made over, but there weren’t records to account for it all.

And so was born the Cobell class action lawsuit, filed in 1996:

On June 10, 1996, Indian plaintiffs including Elouise P. Cobell, Mildred Cleghorn, Thomas Maulson and James Louis Larose, filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government for its failure to properly manage Indian trust assets on behalf of all present and past individual Indian trust beneficiaries, including over 300,000 current Individual Indian Money (IIM) account holders. The assets at issue are the monies that belong to the individual Indians. The named defendants are the Secretaries of the Interior and Treasury and the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs

The case moved along slowly under a Reagan-appointed federal judge, until the Bush-Cheney years.  Gale Norton and her minions got declared in contempt of court by Judge Lambeth, who had strong language about their lack of good faith action in the matter.  So strong that the Bush Justice Department successfully moved to have him removed, nearly a decade into the case.  John McCain, Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee while the Republicans were in the majority in the Senate insisted that $25 million was too large a sum to settle on the case.  So it went nowhere.

On June 10, 1996, Indian plaintiffs including Elouise P. Cobell, Mildred Cleghorn, Thomas Maulson and James Louis Larose, filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government for its failure to properly manage Indian trust assets on behalf of all present and past individual Indian trust beneficiaries, including over 300,000 current Individual Indian Money (IIM) account holders. The assets at issue are the monies that belong to the individual Indians. The named defendants are the Secretaries of the Interior and Treasury and the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs.



also in 2008, the District Court granted equitable restitution to the plaintiff class based on the unproven shortfall of the trust’s actual value as compared with its statistically likely value. It stressed that breaching the duty to account did not generate the government’s financial liability. Rather, it said the government’s failure properly to allocate and pay trust funds to beneficiaries gave rise to restitution or disgorgement of the very money that had been withheld. The plaintiff class was awarded $455,600,000 (although this figure did not include interest).

A settlement was announced two months ago on December 8, 2009 – a specific case where the Democrats are different from (and better than) the Republicans:

Yes. The federal government has agreed to create a $1.412 billion Accounting/Trust Administration Fund and $2 billion Trust Land Consolidation Fund. The Settlement also creates a federal Indian Education Scholarship fund of up to $60 million to improve access to higher education for Indian youth.

Needless to say, it’s too soon for this all to have been implemented, but it’s a step in the right direction.  And, too, remember that none of this is welfare or charity.  It’s what’s due – long past due.

The Current Situation

What I’ve written above isn’t immediately germane to the acute crisis currently unfolding on the reservations.  That’s the consequence of other kinds of neglect and malfeasance than just that covered in the Cobell suit, which litigation only covers accounting for leases of individually-owned land allotments.

Basic welfare issues on the Reservations are the responsibility of the federal government.  State jurisdiction is limited, and rightly so, owing to disputes like those of salmon fishing rights of Coast Salish tribes in western Washington.  As it happens, I was in the courtroom when the 1974 Boldt decision was delivered, and the wiki description comports with my own understanding of the case:

The decision was the culmination of years of State of Washington limitation of treaty fishing by the Tribes, resulting in the United States suing the State of Washington to force the state to comply with the treaties. It was immediately met with shock and outrage by non-Native fishermen, but the ruling has held for more than 30 years.

The Boldt decision also upheld that U.S. federal treaties signed with the Native Americans continue to be in effect as are all International Treaties agreed to with the U.S. government.

So, the donations are good, as a humanitarian effort to rescue people in trouble in an emergency situation.  Navajo’s diary from yesterday is full of contact information and links for donations, such as:

Thanks to Kossack Keith Olbermann, 3 major charities benefiting the South Dakota reservations will get some huge donations now.  Today, I want to call your attention to a faster and more direct way you can help.  The LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Home Assistance) programs ran out of winter funding in early December. Here’s the hard part; you will need to write a check because of no online presence for any tribe.

But Keith got it right in the bolded words below:

Transcript courtesy of Kimberley:
“And now tonight’s first Quick Comment, and you overwhelm me–as usual.  

“Last night, continuing our coverage of the humanitarian crisis on the ice storm and blizzard ravaged reservations of South Dakota, I mentioned a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Storm Relief emergency assistance fund, and we linked to it. They were hoping, by the end of the month, to have raised $35,000.

In 24 hours, you donated approximately $185,000. They thank you and I thank you.  

“If anybody wants to go further, the chairman of the tribe tells us the consciousness of politicians is as important as donations right now. FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area, and there’s something else that could kill about 40 birds with one stone there: They’ve patched much of the water and power infrastructure back together but they really need an overhaul and something in the jobs bill, or some stimulus money, could not only protect power, heat and water there, it could also put some of the thousands of unemployed Native Americans to work in their own communities. So you could call, write, or e-mail your congressmen and or senator.

So this diary is a call for action that way – putting a little pressure on the political will.  Reminding our elected officials that the nation has a trust obligation to the tribes.  It’s not charity, and it’s not welfare, and there’s a lot of room for improvement.  Contacting any Senator or House member could help, but those serving on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee are particularly relevant, so here’s their contact information.  You know what to do from here:

Senate Indian Affairs Committee

Democrats:

Daniel Akaka (Hawaii) 202-224-6361

Maria Cantwell (Washington) 202-224-3441

Kent Conrad (North Dakota) 202-224-2043

Bryon Dorgan, chair (South Dakota) 202-224-2551

Al Franken (Minnesota) 202-224-5641

Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) 202-224-3934

Tim Johnson (South Dakota) 202-224-5842

Jon Tester, (Montana) 202-224-2644

Tom Udall (New Mexico) 202-224-6621

Republicans:  

John Barrasso, Vice Chairman (Wyoming) 202-224-6441

Tom Coburn (Oklahoma) 202-224-5754

Michael Crapo (Idaho) 202-224-6142

Mike Johanns (Nebraska) 202-224-4224

John McCain (Arizona) 202-224-2235

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) 202-224-6665

BACKGROUND

There are nine reservations In South Dakota. News reports are covering only two reservations, Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River.      

       

Full size photo

courtesy of South Dakota Office of Tribal Government Relations

We’ve also had a number of Kossacks volunteer to be a part of a new team (currently un-named) that will focus on a continuing diary series on the current conditions of our poorest reservations and discuss proactive and preventative measures that could be taken to prevent similar disasters next winter.  

Daily Kos volunteers for this effort currently are:

4Freedom, Aji, bablhous, Bill in MD, cacamp, Deep Harm, exmearden, KentuckyKat, Kimberley, Kitsap River, Land of Enchantment, Lexalou, No Way Lack of Brain, oke, ParkRanger, Richard Cranium, SarahLee, Soothsayer, swampus, TiaRachel, tlemon, translatorpro, Zenox

Many thanks to them for all their research and support.  

Criticizing Indian Affairs: SD Winter Storms

Keith Olbermann tells us (quoted in navajo’s “Dakota’s Rezs Winter Heating Funds Ran Out In December”)


“If anybody wants to go further, the chairman of the tribe tells us the consciousness of politicians is as important as donations right now.


FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area, and there’s something else that could kill about 40 birds with one stone there: They’ve patched much of the water and power infrastructure back together but they really need an overhaul and something in the jobs bill, or some stimulus money, could not only protect power, heat and water there, it could also put some of the thousands of unemployed Native Americans to work in their own communities. So you could call, write, or e-mail your congressmen and or senator.

To reiterate, “The consciousness of politicians is as important as donations right now.”


http://www.congress.org/congre…

Indian Affairs Committee

Address: 838 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-2251   Fax: (202) 228-2589

Email: comments@indian.senate.gov

Web site: http://indian.senate.gov

Committee Chair

Sen.

Byron L. Dorgan (DEM-ND)

Ranking Member

Sen.

John Barrasso (REP-WY)

Democrats (9)

Sen. Daniel Inouye (DEM-HI)

Sen. Kent Conrad (DEM-ND)

Sen. Daniel Akaka (DEM-HI)

Sen. Tim Johnson (DEM-SD)

Sen. Maria Cantwell (DEM-WA)

Sen. Jon Tester (DEM-MT)

Sen. Tom Udall (DEM-NM)

Sen. Al Franken (DEM-MN)

Republicans (6)

Sen. John McCain (REP-AZ)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (REP-AK)

Sen. Tom Coburn (REP-OK)

Sen. Mike Crapo (REP-ID)

Sen. Mike Johanns (REP-NE)

So, let us begin enlightening “the consciousness of politicians” with some required reading from the Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report, which “The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), in coordination with the Western Shoshone Defense Project, submitted a Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) on January 6th, 2008.”


III. Indian Reservation Apartheid

“Apartheid” is certainly a strong word. And certainly, there are recognized tribes in the U.S. that are now achieving certain levels of relative prosperity primarily due to federal law allowing them to operate casinos, But the data contained in this section as well as others in this report (see, e.g., Violence Against Women, The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health) reflect what only can be described as a system of Apartheid on many Indian Reservations, where Indigenous people are warehoused in poverty and neglect. By purpose or effect, their only option is forced assimilation, the abandonment of their land, families, language and cultures in search of a better life.

The Shadow Report Outlines the following: critical things the U.S. Periodic Report omitted that were supposed to have been reported to the Human Rights Committee; Un – recognized Indigenous Peoples of which “many have waited decades” for recognition; the “Indian Reservation Apartheid;” the “Life Expectancy on the Indian Reservation” with its “high rate of infant mortality, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease;” poverty and unemployment, overall problems with justice;  “Racially Discriminatory Constitutional Foundations;” religious freedom as it relates to access to sacred lands; “Environmental Racism and  its effects on Indigenous Human Rights,” that “you cannot damage the land without damaging those who live upon it;” “The Denial of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Political, Economic, Social, Cultural, or any Other Field of Public Life;”  “Racist Science and the Collective Right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent;” “Articles 6 and 7,” which mention the devastation of Indian Boarding Schools and “Racist Sports Mascots and Logos;” and finally, “The United States and its Transnational Companies and Violations of the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples Abroad.”

Continuing with enlightening “the consciousness of politicians” in this most current example wherein “FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area,” let’s focus on “But the data contained in this section as well as others in this report (see, e.g., Violence Against Women, The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health) reflect what only can be described as a system of Apartheid on many Indian Reservations, where Indigenous people are warehoused in poverty and neglect.” What are the enlightening questions?

Why has “FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area” in a location(s) where “Life Expectancy on the Indian Reservation” is:


Mortality rates and life expectancy on the reservation are not reported by the US in their Periodic Report. Neither is comprehensive data collected for Indians on Reservations. The grossly disproportionate poverty that Indigenous Peoples experience in the United States is accompanied by disturbingly low life expectancy as demonstrated by the few scattered statistics available. Recent research on diverse racial-geographic population groupings in the United States has shown “disparities in mortality experiences” to be “enormous.”[10] Among those found to be most disadvantaged in this major national study were American Indians who live on or near reservation lands.

For that matter, why hasn’t John McCain of the Indian Affairs Committee done anything?

McCain(was) Instrumental in Removing Dine(h)-Navajo Tribe




A public research website: http://www.cain2008.org has brought together diverse historical elements of factual proof that Senator John McCain’s was the key “point man” introducing, enacting and enforcing law that removed Dineh-Navajo Families from their reservation on the Black Mesa in Arizona.

Perhaps the reason why McCain hasn’t, is that it’s not over yet.


Although there’s been a recent victory against the reopening of the Black Mesa Complex, the Kayenta mine is still operating and elders on the front lines fighting the continued impacts of coal mining and forced relocation efforts are still requesting support.

When “the consciousness of politicians” allows for “…the largest forced relocation of U.S. citizens since the relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II,” then they needn’t be sought for help, but helped to the Hague. So what might be pragmatic?

Obama can make the apology he signed public with an actual statement.


“I am concerned about people doing political calculations in the White House, looking at it that way,” Brownback said regarding an apology resolution Obama quietly signed Dec. 19 – to no fanfare.

What would that do for “The consciousness of politicians?” As much as this apology did in 2000.


“This agency participated in the ethnic cleansing that befell the Western tribes,” Gover said. “It must be acknowledged that the deliberate spread of disease, the decimation of the mighty bison herds, the use of the poison alcohol to destroy mind and body, and the cowardly killing of women and children made for tragedy on a scale so ghastly that it cannot be dismissed as merely the inevitable consequence of the clash of competing ways of life.”

Concluding, while the “consciousness of politicians” motivates them to ignore the devastation that winter storms have brought to many Tribal Nations, I have but one question for them – “”What does it mean to be civilized?”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/…

Photobucket

Billy Mills endorses Obama

( – promoted by navajo)

Via Deoliver47 on Daily Kos, Native Times is reporting that Billy Mills, a Lakota Sioux Olympic gold medalist born and raised on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation came out today in support of Barack Obama — all the more notable because Mills is a Republican:

Mills, who won the 1964 Olympic gold in the 10,000-meter run in one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history, said that he was a lifelong Republican, but that he had been inspired by Obama’s track record of uniting Americans from all walks of life. He also noted Obama’s background as the son of a single, working mom and his youth in Hawaii and Indonesia as predictive of his ability to understand and work for people in underserved communities.

Mills rose to prominence at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo where he came in as a virtual unknown and stunned the world by surging forward from third place in the final lap to capture the gold medal. He has since been inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

The 1983 film “Running Brave” starred Robby Benson as a young Mills.

Mills concluded his endorsement by saying, “Barack Obama is the right choice for Indian Country and all of South Dakota.”