Enforce ICWA in South Dakota; Reunite Lakota Children with their Native Culture

( – promoted by navajo)

Petition: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/…


NPR broadcast: http://www.npr.org/2011/10/25/…

An estimated 700 children a year are being illegally seized by the government in violation of the federal law and family rights and placed in the care of white families outside of the Native-American community, despite the fact that many of these children have family members within the tribe who are willing to care for them. Through out American history, Native American families have been separated and torn apart by the American government.  In 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was agreed upon in order to put an end to the cultural genocide and the governmental kidnapping of children.  35 years later, however, ICWA is still being ignored by government officials, and Native American families are still being torn apart. Children are being deprived of their cultures; they are being relocated and given completely new identities in non-Native American families.

In South Dakota, the Child Protective Services have been blatantly violating ICWA and have been removing Native American children without properly notifying parents or family members who may be able to take the children.  ICWA specifically states that if Native American children must be removed from their parent’s care, they must be placed with a Native-American household so as to preserve their culture.  Here are just a few important facts about the issue in South Dakota:


- Native Americans make up 15% of South Dakota population, but 50% of foster children.

9 out of 10 Native American children are placed in Non-Native American foster care

– The state claims to be doing its best to uphold ICWA, but there are many Native-American foster families that have been given no children what-so-ever.

– Less than 12% of the kids in the South Dakota foster system have been actually physically abused.

– the vast majority of the Lakota people are seized for “neglect”.  Many believe that the state’s definition of neglect is culturally biased against the Lakota.

– South Dakota is removing 3 times more children than any other state

The 9 Sioux Tribes held a summit in May; Washington Officials, Congress staff members, and attorneys from the civil rights division were present, but no one from the state of South Dakota appeared to make a statement.  
There are several movements going on currently to resolve to problem in South Dakota and ensure that the state follows the federal law.  


Petition: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/…

This NPR broadcast does an excellent job of laying out the issue, as well as revealing heart-breaking interviews with Lakota families who are experiencing the injustices.  


http://www.npr.org/2011/10/25/…

The non-profit organization Lakota People’s Law Project is also currently working to address these issues and bring a case against the state of South Dakota.

Donations: https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o…

South Dakota versus The Indians, 1961-1963

Following World War II, the United States was faced with the problem of paying for the war and rebuilding the shattered economies of Germany and Japan. While American Indians were technically citizens, they did not or could not vote and thus were not seen as valuable constituents by members of Congress. If the United States got rid of its obligations to Indians, their argument went, then we would have money for more important things. Fueled by the philosophy of the Cold War, the United States Indian policy turned in the direction of: (1) terminating the Indian tribes and giving jurisdiction over the reservations to the states, (2) turning over Indian natural resources-minerals, oil, water-to private, non-Indian companies for development, and (3) asking Christian churches to help administer social programs and assimilate Indians to American life. During the early 1960s, at a time when there was a growing civil rights movement, the State of South Dakota, in its infinite wisdom, sought to carry out this Indian policy by assuming control of the reservations in the state. The Sioux fought back through the courts and through the election process.

Background:

Under the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, Indian tribes are domestic dependent nations and are not under the jurisdiction of the states.

At the national level, the new policy regarding Indians was announced in 1951 by Commissioner of Indian Affairs Dillon Meyer in a speech before the National Council of Churches. He announced that the private sector or state governments can better serve the Indian people and the time had come to weaken or dissolve the relationship between Indian tribes and the federal government. He asked that religious groups (meaning Christian) help Indians to assimilate into American society.

Two years later, in 1953, Congress passed Public Law 280 giving state governments the right to assume civil and criminal jurisdiction over Indian reservations in California, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Alaska. The law was created in part because of Congress’s perception of the “lawlessness” of the reservations and a concern to protect non-Indians living near the reservations.  There was no concern for protecting the Indians. Indians were not consulted in creating this legislation.

At this same time, legislation was introduced to repeal the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). Proponents of the appeal felt that the IRA had encouraged un-American socialistic tribal governments. Montana Senator George Malone put it this way:


“While we are spending billions of dollars fighting communism and Marxist socialism throughout the world, we are at the same time, through the Indian Bureau, perpetuating the systems of Indian reservations and tribal governments which are natural Socialist environments.”

South Dakota, 1961

In 1961, lobbyists for the non-Indian Taxpayers League drafted a bill which was introduced in the South Dakota House of Representatives which assumed state jurisdiction over all criminal and civil matters in Indian country under the provisions of Public Law 280. The primary concern of the Taxpayers League was “lawlessness”, especially drunken driving on the highway. Enforcing the proposed law, however, would entail increased costs to the state so the bill was amended to assume jurisdiction only over actions on the highways through Indian country. The bill passed and became law.

In 1990, the law was overturned by the Eighth Circuit Court. According to the Court:

“Absent tribal consent, we hold the State of South Dakota has no jurisdiction over highways running through Indian lands in the state.”

The court found that the 1961 state law extending its jurisdiction over reservation highways was not responsive to Public Law 280.

South Dakota, 1963:

In 1963, South Dakota enacted a law which gave the state civil and criminal jurisdiction on reservations. While South Dakota had a fairly large Indian population, there were no Sioux representative in the legislature and the Sioux strongly opposed this law.

In signing the new law, the state governor stressed equal rights:

“We’ll be giving the Indian equal protection under the law. We hear a lot about civil rights. But until all South Dakotans are treated the same, we’ll never achieve the full potential of our state.”

In response to the new law a new organization – United Sioux Tribes – was formed and a petition drive was started to allow state voters to vote on the issue. In two months they gathered the 14,000 signatures necessary to have the matter considered on a public referendum. In their campaign, the Sioux focus on the voters’ sense of fairness: the state law was wrong simply because the Sioux never consented to it. The referendum passed with 79% of the vote and the law was thus overturned.

Pe Sla in Black Hills to be “Sea of Houses” (UPDATE)

(This is a repost from years ago, and now the nightmare is coming true. When the thieves are in their “Heaven” with their streets made of gold, some of that gold will have been ripped from the sacred Black Hills. I won’t be there)

Update:



http://64.38.12.138/News/2012/…

RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA — Yet another federally funded “improvement” project threatens to further undermine the sanctity and integrity of a culturally relevant Native American landmark in the Black Hills, or Paha Sapa.

The Pennington County-initiated undertaking, known as the South Rochford Road Project, seeks to pave an approximately 12-mile graveled stretch of road between the unincorporated town of Rochford and Deerfield Lake, a recreational destination. This particular section of South Rochford Road, which remains as a historical throwback of Rochford’s gold mining boomtown days of the late 19th century, gouges a swath directly through the center of what the Lakota call “Pe Sla,” or the venerated “Old Baldy” of the Black Hills.

– snip –

Due to the nation’s ensuing recession, however, the project was essentially put on the back burner until 2010, when the economy began its slow recovery. At that time, the Federal Highway Administration determined that an environmental impact statement (EIS) was necessary before the proposal could continue.



Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report. p. 34.

…the continuation and preservation of traditional Native American Religion is ensured only through the performance of ceremonies and rites by tribal members. These ceremonies and rites are often performed on specific sites…These sites may also be based on special geographic features…For most Native American religions, there may be no alternative places of worship since these ceremonies must be performed at certain places and times to be effective.

Such is the case at Pe Sla, “one of the five primary sacred sites in the Black Hills to the Lakota nation.”

Source

The Pe Sla is one of the five primary sacred sites in the Black Hills to the Lakota nation because of its position on their annual pilgrimage/journey of prayers and ceremonies.  It is also the only one held mostly in private hands as others are within state or federal property.  This prairie has only known cattle grazing by a handful of ranchers since the Homestead Act.  Now subdivisions are encroaching upon this one pristine open space left in the Black Hills.

I can not speak for any tribe and here is my opinion. I think the ACLU should be seriously considered in terms of asking them to sue the appropriate parties over suffocating the religious freedom of the Lakota Nation to start with. I’m “seeking a way to protect this place,” so I didn’t mention cultural genocide.

(emphasis and underline mine)

Source

When the Forest Service was asked about a cabin being renovated as a memorial to the ranching history on the Pe Sla, the questioners reminded them that there was a much longer history of this site among the Lakota.  The Forest Service representative told us that the Lakota elders with whom they consult told them no one wanted that information known.  A few months later when an official from the county government was standing on Rochford Road that runs through the middle of the Pe Sla or Reynolds Prairie, he exclaimed with great satisfaction that “soon this road will be a black ribbon (paved with asphalt) and this prairie will be a sea of houses”.
 Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time that further abuse and possible desecration will take place so that we must tell the story of this sacred site.  Action must be taken to preserve this prairie for future generations.  

• Please pray for its preservation and for the awareness of its spiritual significance to all people.  

• Please tell the story to all whom you know.  

Please show your support by seeking ways to protect this place.  Some of those possibilities are outlined below.

Furthermore, I think Joe Garcia, President of the NCAI, should be contacted by the ACLU in order to proceed in the manner which would not damage tribal sovereignty in any fashion what-so-ever.


NCAI

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)

1301 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 200, Washington D.C. 20036

Phone: (202) 466-7767, Fax: (202) 466-7797

Email: ncai@ncai.org

The ACLU could do a fund and membership drive revolving around this, which would hopefully increase their membership and help raise finances for the case. Everything considered, what are the other alternatives?


Source

The Pennington County Highway Department held a meeting regarding the reconstruction of South Rochford Road at Hill City, SD, on Monday, March 3, 2008, at 6:30 pm. This project runs from Deerfield Lake to the village of Rochford passing through the middle of Reynolds Prairie, or the Pe Sla, one of the most important and sacred Lakota annual pilgrimage sites. Currently it is a gravel road but the plans are to asphalt eleven (11) miles of road with $7.5 million dollars. If the road is blacktopped, housing development and increased traffic will occur. The Hill City Chamber of Commerce is pushing this project.

If they were considering condemning hundreds of churches for the sake of “development” or uranium for that matter, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.  

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.

NAN Line Separater

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.

First Nations News & Views: Wounded Knee memories, Seattle totem pole honors carver killed by cop

Welcome to the seventh edition of First Nations News & Views. This weekly series is one element in the “Invisible Indians” project put together by navajo and me, with assistance from the Native American Netroots Group. Last week’s edition is here. In this edition you will find a remembrance by Carter Camp of the Wounded Knee siege 39 years ago, a look at the year 1954 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.

Carter Camp Tells Why Wounded Knee Siege of 1973

Still Matters Today

Carter Camp marked as a warrior

Carter Camp marked as a warrior at Wounded Knee, S.D., in the late winter of 1973

Thirty-nine years ago at the end of February in 1973, some 250 Oglalas and their supporters in the American Indian Movement took over the hamlet of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. The immediate catalyst for the protest was the corrupt leadership of the tribal chairman, Dick Wilson. By many traditional Oglala, he and his administration were viewed as an extension of the “colonial” system that had ruled the reservations for decades despite a veneer of sovereignty conveyed by the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

But their objections in this specific matter had their roots in a different, broader issue, one that remains unresolved to this day, the unfulfilled promises in hundreds of broken treaties and other agreements between Indians and the U.S. government. Those pacts smoothed the way across the nation for the expropriation and occupation of the land of hundreds of tribes as well as the destruction of our culture, our languages, our religions and our traditions.

By the time of Wounded Knee, AIM had been in the forefront of high-profile protests against the injustices against Indians by the government for nearly five years. It had already organized an occupation of Alcatraz Island, marched across the country to Washington in the Trail of Broken Treaties, and occupied BIA headquarters, making off with boxes full of documents after a week inside the building.

The takeover at Wounded Knee had resulted in a siege by U.S. Marshalls and the FBI that lasted 73 days. I was there for 51 of those days, leaving only when it briefly appeared a resolution had been achieved. The siege continued for another three weeks. When it was over, two members of AIM and one federal marshall were dead. In the following two years, 60 AIM members and two FBI agents were also killed.

Though his name is less known than that of Russell Means and Dennis Banks, in the AIM leadership at the time was a young Ponca man named Carter Camp. He was chosen as war chief.

But let my friend Carter tell this story in his own words, compiled from a number of his writings and interviews over the past dozen years.

-Meteor Blades

By Carter Camp

Carter posts at Daily Kos as cacamp.

Ah-ho, My Relations,

I ask you to remember that our reasons for going to Wounded Knee still exist and that means the need for struggle and resistance also still exist. Our land and sacred sites are threatened as never before. Even our sacred Mother herself is faced with unnatural warming caused by extreme greed.

Wounded Knee takeover leaders were upset by the Nixon

White House’s response to the siege and asked for

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to visit.

Here an interviewer asks Carter Camp if that’s really

necessary. Camp asks, “Why not? Indians are just as

important as any other issue the U.S. has, like Vietnam.”

In some areas of conflict between our people and those we signed treaties with, it is best to negotiate or “work within the system.” But, because our struggle is one of survival, there are also times when a warrior must stand fast even at the risk of one’s life. I believed that in 1973 when I was 30 and I believe it today at 70. But to me Wounded Knee ’73 was really not about the fight, it was about the strong statement that our traditional way of living in this world is not about to disappear and our people are not a “vanishing race” as wasicu (white) education would have you believe. As time has passed and I see so many of our young people taking part in a traditional way of living and believing, I know our fight was worth it and those we lost for our movement died worthy deaths. […]

Today is heavy with prayer and reminiscence for me. Not only are those who walk for the Yellowstone Buffalo reaching their destination, today is the anniversary of the night when, at the direction of the Oglala Chiefs, I went with a special squad of warriors to liberate Wounded Knee in advance of the main AIM caravan.

For security reasons the people had been told everyone was going to a meeting/wacipi in Porcupine, the road goes through Wounded Knee. When the People arrived at the Trading Post we had already set up a perimeter, taken 11 hostages, run the BIA cops out of town, cut most phone lines, and begun 73 days of the best, most free time of my life. The honor of being chosen to go first still lives strong in my heart.

That night we had no idea what fate awaited us. It was a cold night with not much moonlight,  I clearly remember the nervous anticipation I felt as we drove the back way from Oglala into Wounded Knee. The Chiefs had tasked me with a mission and we were sworn to succeed, of that I was sure, but I couldn’t help wondering if we were prepared. The FBI, BIA and marshalls had fortified Pine Ridge with machine-gun bunkers and armored personnel carriers with M-60s. They had unleashed the GOON squad [Dick Wilson’s Guardians of the Oglala Nation] on the people and a reign of terror had begun. We knew we had to fight, but we could not fight on wasicu terms. We were lightly armed and dependent on the weapons and ammo inside the Wounded Knee trading post, I worried that we would not get to them before the shooting started.

As we stared silently into the darkness driving into the hamlet, I tried to foresee what opposition we would encounter and how to neutralize it. We were approaching a sacred place and each of us knew it. We could feel it deep inside. As a warrior leading warriors I humbly prayed to Wakonda for the lives of all and the wisdom to do things right. Never before or since have I offered my tobacco with such a plea or put on my feathers with such purpose. It was the birth of the Independent Oglala Nation.

Things went well for us that night, we accomplished our task without loss of life. Then, in the cold darkness as we waited for Dennis and Russ to bring in the caravan (or for the fight to start), I stood on the bank of the shallow ravine where our people had been murdered by the 7th Cavalry [in 1890]. There I prayed for the defenseless ones, torn apart by Hotchkiss cannons and trampled under hooves of steel by drunken wasicu. I could feel the touch of their spirits as I eased quietly into the gully and stood silently, waiting for my future, touching my past.

Finally, I bent over and picked a sprig of sage – whose ancestors in 1890 had been nourished by the blood of Red babies, ripped from their mothers’ dying grasp and bayoneted by the evil ones. As I washed myself with that sacred herb, I became cold in my determination and cleansed of fear. I looked for Big Foot and YellowBird in the darkness and I said aloud:

“We are back, my relations, we are home.”

Carter Camp being interviewed for the

2009 PBS special, “We Shall Remain.”

We were fighting every day and in danger every day. But it was a lot of fun. During the lulls in the fighting, or during the time when there was not actual danger, it was just a wonderful time being together. People would break out the drum every night and we’d sing together, and different tribes would sing their songs. We had Indian ceremonies that are very special to us, but we don’t bring ’em out in public. But now we could have ’em right there where everybody could participate. We don’t have to hide them around anymore. We had the elders, medicine men, women and children – all in Wounded Knee with us.

We were a strong community. We all had work to do and fighting to do. But at the same time, we could live together and do the things that we wanted to do, say the things that we wanted to say and understand this world the way that Indian people understand it. So it made us feel good. We just really were able to come together in a unity that you don’t hardly find in Indian Country. We’re different tribes and we don’t always get around to each other like that. I mean literally thousands of Indian people were coming from around the country. At any one time we might only have 700 or 800 people in Wounded Knee, but people were coming and leaving. Then, of course, a group of AIM people and the traditionalists stayed there throughout the thing.

Wounded Knee galvanized Indian Country, all over. During those 73 days we were in there, from Seattle to Washington, D.C., and from New York to Florida, Indian people were trashing BIA offices, protesting at the Indian Health Services, telling their own tribal governments to stop the leases with the uranium companies and the coal digging and that sort of thing. Indian people were just making themselves known.

Wounded Knee and the rise of the American Indian Movement and the struggle of the late ’60s and ’70s just changed everything about the way Indian people think of themselves. They started thinking in terms of the future, not of being exterminated or maybe this is our last generation that cares about being Indian. It just invigorated the entire Indian nations […] They started having pride in where they came from and what they were and who they were. […] It also made the government understand that once more there was a line in the sand that they couldn’t push us beyond. We had taken all we could absorb and that if they pushed us just too damn far then we’ll fight.

There is a excellent PBS documentary about the Wounded Knee takeover and siege on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Carter is featured in this 80-minute segment, We Shall Remain, Wounded Knee, Episode 5. (h/t exmearden)

We Shall Remain PBS header

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This Week in American Indian History in 1954

A secton of the Garrison Dam, the fifth largest earthen dam in the world. (Bureau of Reclamation)

On Feb. 27, 1954, the U.S. government took additional land from the Yankton Sioux Tribe to build the Fort Randall Dam and Reservoir in southeastern South Dakota. That dam and four others built on the Missouri River by the Army Corps of Engineers from 1946 to 1966 were approved for flood control, pollution and sediment control, navigation, conservation, recreation, hydroelectric power and enhancement of fish and wildlife under the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program, a part of the Flood Control Act of 1944.

Construction of the dams and consequent flooding forced the relocation of more than 1500 Indian families on seven reservations, including some 136 on the Yankton Reservation. The tribes lost more than 350,000 acres. Besides the Yankton Reservation, fertile bottom land was condemned on reservations at Fort Berthold, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock, Lower Brule, Crow Creek and Santee.

The tribes didn’t only lose their land but also any timber, wildlife and native plants plus homes and ranches. In the case of Fort Thompson on the Crow Creek Reservation, an entire town was inundated. As a consequence, the BIA and Indian Health Service offices were moved off the reservation to Pierre, making it far more difficult for Indians they were supposed to serve to use them.

The losses also included spiritual ties to the land and the intangible benefits that came from living along the Missouri.

The tribes were never consulted about the project during the planning stages. No Indians were asked to testify during hearings on the projects in Congress. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which supervises Indian land held in trust by the Department of Interior, raised no objections.

The Corps of Engineers handled negotiations. Tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, including the Yankton Treaty of 1858, were completely ignored. So also was the Winters Doctrine, a Supreme Court ruling that Indians have inherent rights to water resources on their lands. Philleo Nash, who had advised Presidents Roosevelt and Truman to integrate the Armed Forces and later served as BIA Commissioner under JFK and LBJ, would later say that Pick-Sloan “caused more damage to Indian land than any other public works project in America.”

The amount of money offered to owners of individual Indian land allotments was often significantly less than the amount offered to non-Indian land owners. Likewise, as the dam projects began in a time when termination of reservations was in full swing, government compensation for damages caused by the taking of communally owned tribal land was well below its market value. Land at North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Reservation of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people was condemned and bought for $33 an acre. Today, the earthen Garrison Dam is on the land, holding back Lake Sakakawea, and capable of generating some 583 megawatts of electricity.

Twenty-five years after the last dam was completed, the General Accounting Office undertook the first of four reports on providing better compensation, which you can see here: 1991; 1998; 2006; and, 2007

Today, the tribes whose land was taken have an on-reservation population of about 32,000, with another 20,000 enrolled members living elsewhere.

-Meteor Blades with a h/t to ojibwa

(First Nations News & Views continued below the frybread thingey)

FNNVs News Briefs Divider, San Serif

First Totem Pole in a Century Raised in Seattle for Victim of Police Shooting

John T Williams Mural Seattle
A large mural of

folk hero John T. Williams

is at 11th Avenue

between Pike and Pine

The strength of a First Nations community came together on Feb. 26 when a 33-foot-tall, 5,000-pound totem pole was ceremoniously carried a mile-and-a-half from its carving site on the shoulders of scores of supporters and erected near the 50-year-old Space Needle. It was the first totem pole erected in Seattle in nearly 100 years. Conceived and carved in the traditional manner, the cedar totem pole honors John T. Williams (Ditidaht), himself a master carver, who was shot and killed by Seattle police officer Ian Birk in August 2010. After months of protest by Indians and their supporters, the shooting death was found not justified. Officials said Birk took actions that were “outside of policy, tactics and training.”

John T Williams Totem Pole

As can be seen and heard in this disturbing video here, Birk stepped from his patrol cruiser and came up behind Williams on the street, who was walking and carrying a small, legal folding knife and a plank of wood which he had been carving. Birk told Williams to put down the knife. He then shot Williams four times in the back, killing him instantly. The entire encounter took eight seconds. Facing termination from the force after the damning report was released, Birk resigned.

Immediately after the shooting, the Williams family reported strained relations with police. They said they were being scrutinized and harassed by bicycle patrol officers in a street market where vendors have sold their goods for decades. Other Native people complained in public forums that they had good reason to feel unsafe around the police. Demonstrations erupted and community meetings turned into shouting matches.  

Over time, the tensions relaxed. One element that helped bend police officials and Native peoples toward better interaction was the initiation of a restorative circle, a practice developed in Brazil by Dominic Barter.

In December 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice released the findings of its investigation of the City of Seattle Police Department. It concluded the SPD has a “pattern and practice” of using excessive force, especially in communities of color, and that it needs structural reform in training, supervision and discipline. While disagreeing with aspects of the report, the department has stated it will overhaul its use of force policies and procedures.

The Williams family’s seven generations of traditional carving inspired Williams’s brother Rick to design a totem pole that turned the tragedy into an honoring of his brother’s life and heritage. Rick called for a peaceful resolution to the community conflict that followed the fatal shooting but had been building beforehand. “Despite his grief and anger, Rick Williams, by his own account, found strength in the wisdom of his ancestors and rejected calls for violence and retribution against the police. He requested that the response to the shooting be peaceful, in respect for his brother. By his example and explicit requests, he helped keep the peace in the streets where many felt despair, outrage, the need for change, and an urge for revenge.”

The team of master carvers took more than six months to finish the totem pole. The cedar tree came from Harstine Island and was donated by the Manke Lumber Company. The loggers who cut it estimate its age to be at least 120 years. Two other totem poles carved from the same tree are in the works and will be placed elsewhere in Seattle.

The family of John T. Williams has forgiven the Seattle police force. Now at peace, they honor Williams’s life with an exquisite piece of art but also an important symbol of cultural legacy, hope and community healing.

An interpretive display at the carving site explains the figures on the memorial totem pole:


• Top: Eagle. “The Eagle flies the highest and sees the farthest, so he takes the perch at the top of the pole.”

• Middle: Master Carver. “This is a Williams family symbol handed down through seven generations of woodcarvers. This master carver is John T. Williams displaying his own signature totem, which features the Kingfisher and the Salmon. This carving, at the age of 15, made John a master carver in the Ditidaht First Nation, in British Columbia.” According to the interpretive display, John T. Williams’s works, and other Williams family pieces, are displayed all over Seattle, at the White House and in the Smithsonian. At this writing, early John T. Williams carvings are being sold on eBay for $8,500.

• Bottom: Raven Mother and Baby. “The Raven watches and nurtures us, making up the foundation of the totem.”

Rick Williams carving Johns Totem Pole
Rick Williams carving his brother John’s memorial totem pole

There is an amazing video of the whole procession and traditional raising of the memorial totem pole. http://blog.seattlepi.com/theb…

The final stage of this publicly funded project is a seating area for contemplation encircling the pole with customizable granite tiles. Interested people can make a donation at The John T. Williams Totem Pole Project to secure a tile.

You can also support the project at Facebook. Almost 3000 others have.

-navajo & Meteor Blades

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Two Vermont Abenaki Bands Expect State Recognition

Under a new Vermont law, two bands of Abenaki Indians gained state recognition in 2011. Two more may now be on the verge of doing so. The Abenaki were once part of the Confederacy of the Wabanaki, the “People of the Dawn Land” in their Algonquin tongue. They ranged from modern-day New England into Quebec and the Maritime Provinces. Today bands with and without reservations live in Quebec, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Vermont Commissioner of Native

American Affairs Luke Willard

Twenty-three states have laws that set parameters for recognition, which can confer various benefits to members that are not otherwise available. In a few cases, such as Florida, no tribe can receive state recognition unless it is already one of the 566 federally recognized tribes of Indians or Alaskan Natives. Others require some genealogical proof of native ancestry and a historical connection to the area in which they now live. A few don’t require that, and some tribally enrolled Indians consider recognition of tribes in those states to be fraudulent.

Indeed, critics have claimed that all the Vermont bands are modern inventions and that most or all of the people claiming tribal connection have no true claims to being Abenaki or Indians at all. At his web site – The Reinvention of the Alleged Vermont and New Hampshire Abenakis – Doug Buchholz has published birth certificates that he says prove some of the leading members of the tribes are fraudulent wannabes. That’s not how the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs see things.

The commission was established by the new law and recommends which tribes should be granted recognition based on nine criteria. Most of members of a tribe must live within a specific area inside the state and a large number must be related through kinship. They must have a connection to the state that can documented by historical, ethnographic or archaeological evidence. After a tribe submits its evidence, a panel of scholars and other experts reviews it and reports to the commission, which decides whether or not to recommend recognition. The legislature can grant or reject recognition then and there. Or it can choose to do nothing. If it takes the latter course, a recommended tribe gains recognition automatically after two years.

Based on these criteria, the Elnu Abenaki in Windham County and the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation in northeastern Vermont – gained state recognition last year. The two other bands of Abenaki in Vermont – the St. Francis-Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi in northwestern Vermont and the Koasek Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation from the Connecticut River Valley – presented their evidence before a joint legislative committee hearing Feb. 14:  

St. Francis-Sokoki band Chief John Churchill testified that state recognition will bring cultural pride to his band.

“Pride is a big thing. Whatever nationality one says you are, you don’t have to prove it. If you say you’re Abenaki or Native American, for some reason you have to prove it,” he said.

Roger Longtoe Sheehan, chief of Elnu Abenaki, testified on the positive cultural impact of recognition, particularly in his band’s relationship with other nations.

“It’s a pride thing so you can walk into a pow-wow and go to any sort of site that would be tied to the culture and be able to say, ‘We’re Abenaki,'” Sheehan said, later adding. “Unless you get state recognition, they basically won’t talk to you.”  

State recognition can lead to some limited federal benefits, particularly in education and in grants for economic development and cultural rejuvenation. State-recognized tribes can also legally sell handicrafts such as baskets with “Indian-made” labels attached. But state recognition does not set up a government-to-government relationship of sovereignty the way federal recognition does.

Luke Willard, chairman of the state Native American Affairs Commissiion and a tribal trustee and treasurer of the Nulhegan Band has pointed out that what Vermont provides is more of a “cultural recognition.” No tax money is expended. There will be land claims, no casinos, no treaty rights fights, no battles over tax-exempt cigarette sales and or reservation tax exemptions because there is no communally owned tribal land from which to assert such claims.

Among the difficulties the St. Francis-Sokoki and Koasek have had is finding Colonial-era documents proving that a majority of members have continuously resided in the same  historical area. According Erin Hale at VTDIGGER.org, Peter Thomas, the retired director of the University of Vermont’s archaeology program, thinks it doesn’t make sense to make a recognition determination based on today’s borders to a region occupied by Native people for at least 11,000 years and the Abenaki since before Anglo-Americans arrived on the Continent.

The Koasek Band ultimately was able to show that 58 percent of its members lived within Vermont’s borders. The St. Francis-Sokoki were helped by the 1973 discovery of a burial site dating back at least two millennia and another discovered in 2000 that contained the remains of 27 Abenaki, with artifacts from the 17th through 19th centuries.

Other issues include proving kinship ties because Indians and mixed-race people were often listed in the 1700s and 1800s as “pagan” or “colored,” not “Indian.” Hale writes that “Vermont’s eugenics movement in the 1920s and 1930s further damaged record keeping.”

Federal recognition was denied the St. Francis-Sokoki in the 1990s, and that was an issue for some committee members at the February hearing. But an expert witness explained that obtaining federal recognition is an expensive process requiring between $5 million and $12 million “to get the political clout in Washington to be able to get recognition.”

Willard said one of his reasons for joining the commission was to “nullify federal recognition. Why do we need federal recognition if we have a state government that is willing to work with the tribes and is willing to enact state policy and legislation that will successfully meet the needs and empower the native people of the state? I just don’t see the sense in spending millions of dollars just so you can get a thumbs-up from people who are hundreds and hundreds of miles away.”

-Meteor Blades

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Navajo Nation Sues Urban Outfitters Over Use of Tribal Trademark

Authentic Navajo cuffs, like

this one, are legally sold under the

Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

Months after the Navajo Nation had sent a cease-and-desist order to Urban Outfitters to stop selling their line of clothing using the designation term Navajo in the style’s name, the Navajo Nation has sued the company and its subsidiaries. The suit alleges they have violated the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (IACA) and for trademark infringement. The Navajo Nation has 12 trademarks registered under the label Navajo. The suit was filed in New Mexico where part of the Navajo Nation reservation is and where Urban Outfitters has a number of stores.

The truth-in-advertising IACA “prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States.”

Urban Outfitters’ Fall 2011 collection had many style names that included the term Navajo. Two of the most offensive were a Navajo flask and Navajo Hipster Panties, which can been seen (if you must) at the Native Appropriations blog. Urban Outfitters was widely criticized for its stupidity in following their fashion directors’ prompts of what the latest trend is. Having once been a buyer in the fashion business, I can just imagine the boardroom excitement of naming the season’s trend, “OMG … Navajo is so hot right now!”

American designers, like sports team owners, love to “pay tribute” to this unique American icon, the “noble Indian.” But it’s not a tribute. It’s a rip-off and an insult.

Ralph Lauren, Pendleton, Dolce & Gabbana and others have been producing American Indian-themed clothing for decades with little public outcry. But now, with the power of the Internet, young Native bloggers are turning the spotlight on this long line of expropriations of land, resources, spiritualism and whatever else can be grabbed from Indians and twisted to benefit greed.

It was Sasha Houston Brown, 24, (Dakota/Santee Sioux), an academic advisor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College where she works with the American Indian Success Program, who sent a letter on Columbus Day last year to Urban Outfitters’ CEO Glen T. Senk after she visited one of their stores in Minneapolis.

…she was offended by “plastic dreamcatchers wrapped in pleather hung next to an indistinguishable mass of artificial feather jewelry and hyper sexualized clothing featuring an abundance of suede, fringe and inauthentic tribal patterns.”

Brown told […] Senk that the collection was “cheap, vulgar and culturally offensive.”

Another Indian blogger, Adrienne K. at Native Appropriations, wrote:

First of all, these products represent a stereotype of “southwest” Native cultures. The designs are loosely based on Navajo rug designs […] or Pendleton designs, but aren’t representations that are chosen by the tribe or truly representative of Navajo culture. Associating a sovereign Nation of hundreds of thousands of people wit[h] a flask or women’s underwear isn’t exactly honoring.

Additionally, it’s more than likely that Urban [Outfitters] chose “Navajo” for the international recognition–to most of the world Navajo (and Cherokee)= American Indian […] This conflation of Navajo with “generic Indian” contributes to the further erasure of the distinct tribes and cultures in the US and solidifies the idea that there is only one “Native” culture, represented by plains feathers and southwest designs.

Urban Outfitters immediately removed the Navajo designation from its site last fall. You would think the board members had learned their lesson.

Apparently not.

One of the company’s upscale subsidiaries, Free People, recently ran a distinct collection of styles, attaching labels identifying the products as vintage Navajo. Note the jewelry pieces, a definite “no no” on the rez and according to federal law … in the entire United States! Fashion faux pas? Mais oui, C’est une grande wtf.

Screenshot Free People Navajo Appropriations

The Navajo Nation included this screenshot in their legal filing. Of course, if you search for the Navajo descriptor now, nothing comes up.

But look at what is still up at Free People:

Free People Screenshot Lakota Bag

And it’s in stock for a mere $498!

-navajo with a h/t to Lauren Chief Elk

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“Fighting Sioux” Fight in North Dakota Gets Hotter Still

The conflict over the “Fighting Sioux” nickname and logo at the University of North Dakota that we have been reporting on for a few weeks not cooled. On the contrary. Here is the latest news:

• The NCAA has told university officials not to allow its sports teams to bring the “Fighting Sioux” nickname and logo of a Lakota Indian head to any playoffs. The university was in the process of buying new uniforms without the logo as a result of the NCAA’s 2006 rule against such nicknames. But state legislators and supporters of a referendum to keep the name have complicated the situation.

• The University of Iowa has gone a step farther and denied UND an invitation to a track meet. UI’s policy “prohibits the athletics department from scheduling competition with schools or attending tournaments hosted by schools using American Indian mascots unless those mascots have been approved by the NCAA and their respective American Indian tribes.” Previously, officials at the Iowa school had continued competing with UND, but the delay in removing the name finally spurred those officials to begin enforcing university policy.

• Students at the University of Minnesota-Duluth have been warned they will be ejected from any future games if they again behave as they did during a recent hockey game with UND. Several students taunted the North Dakota team with war-whoops as well as chants of “Smallpox Blankets!” and “Hi, HOW are you?” The UMD athletic department stated in the letter that students would be ejected at any future games and have their season tickets voided if they engage in such racist behavior in the future.

• Meanwhile, some supporters of a statewide initiative to keep the “Fighting Sioux” nickname and logo are threatening to start a second initiative that would get rid of the state’s Board of Education and replace it with a single elected higher education commissioner. That move comes in response to the board’s decision to seek a ruling from the state supreme court about the legality of a law the initiative backers want to reinstate. The law requires that the “Fighting Sioux” nickname be kept. It was passed in February last year and repealed in November and then reinstated again until the initiative is decided by the voters.

The board of education majority says the legislature overstepped its authority in the matter, but its members said they are not trying to subvert the legislature’s authority in general. “With the current board, there is no accountability,” Sean Johnson, of Bismarck, told a legislative higher education oversight committee on Friday. “We need to have accountability, and we don’t have it.”

Opponents of the idea say they think it is a bad idea to replace a board with a single commissioner. Some elected officials say it would be better to have a commissioner appointed by the governor.

-Meteor Blades with a h/t to betson08

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Oklahoma Taking Steps to Bring Jim Thorpe’s Body Home: Olympian Jim Thorpe (Sac & Fox) was buried in Pennsylvania in a town he never visited while alive. His last wife took away his body during his funeral to spite the governor of Oklahoma who refused to fund a memorial. Thorpe’s family is suing under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to have his body returned to the reservation.

-navajo

Mariah Watchman competes on America’s Next Top Model: ANTM features the 20-year-old Watchman (Ojibwe/Modoc/Mandan) as the Pocahontas stereotype. The 20-year-old model from the Umatilla reservation in Oregon turns their racism into an opportunity to give back to Indian Country.

-navajo

Minnesota Redistricting Could Boost Indian Voting Clout: The Minnesota Supreme Court has ordered a new redistricting plan that could lead to the election of a Red Lake or Leech Lake band member to the Minnesota Legislature because it will include entire entire reservations within legislative districts. And that would be good for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party since Indians in the state cast their ballots preponderantly for the DFL.

-Meteor Blades

Adopted Cherokee Baby Returned to Father Under the Indian Child Welfare Act: Dustin Brown (Cheyenne) won full custody of his daughter Veronica under a federal law designed to keep Indian children and their families together. Brown said he was tricked into signing papers to give her up. The adoptive family is upset.

-navajo with a h/t to Land of Enchantment

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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.

First Nations News & Views: This Week – Code Talkers, Slurs and Silencing Native Tongues

Welcome to the third edition of First Nations News & Views. This weekly series is one element in the “Invisible Indians” project put together by navajo and me, with assistance from the Native American Netroots Group. Each Sunday’s edition is published at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time, includes a short, original feature article, a look at some date relevant to American Indian history, and some briefs chosen to show the diversity of modern Indians living both on and off reservations in the United States and Canada. Last week’s edition is here.

red_black_rug_design2

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

70 Years Ago This Month the Navajo ‘Code Talkers’ Were Born

Joe Morris Sr. walked away from us on July 17. Keith Little walked away from us on Jan. 3. Jimmy Begay walked away from us Feb. 1. They were Navajo “Code Talkers,” three of the tribe’s 421 warriors who enlisted in the U.S. Marines to learn how to give Japanese intelligence headaches. Only a handful of those who joined up in the early months of 1942 remain and will soon also “walk away from us,” a common Navajo expression for dying. On Jan. 29, the last surviving member of the original 29 enlistees, Chester Nez, celebrated his 92nd birthday. Without them, their commanders and other officers have said, American casualties in battles for Japanese-held islands would have been far more ghastly than they were.

Those 29 and all the other Code Talkers were sworn to secrecy in case the code had to be used again. It was, in Korea and Vietnam. It was never broken. In 1968, the code and the story of its crucial role were declassified, freeing those who invented and used it to tell their experiences. Since then, more than 500 books have been written, several documentaries have been produced, Hollywood made a version called Windtalkers, a film that spends more of its time following Nick Cage around than it does Adam Beach (Saulteaux), who for his role spent six months learning Diné, the Navajo language. Famed sculptor Oreland Joe (Navajo-Ute) created the Navajo Code Talker Memorial at the Navajo Tribal Park & Veterans Memorial at Window Rock, Ariz. Oral histories were taken.

The original 29 Navajo “code talkers” at Camp Pendleton in 1942.

Yet, although President Ronald Reagan declared Aug. 14, 1982, National Navajo Code Talkers Day, it wasn’t until Dec. 21, 2000, 56 years after they first saw action, that the five surviving original Code Talkers and relatives of the other 24 received Congressional Gold Medals for their innovativeness and heroism. The other Code Talkers were awarded Congressional Silver Medals. The belated awards contained a deep irony. Many of these men who had saved untold numbers of American lives by using their native language had been punished for speaking that same language as children in boarding schools.  

It may come as a surprise to many who are acquainted with the story of the Code Talkers that the Navajos weren’t the only Indians used for code work during World War II. And they weren’t the first. The Army even used eight Chocktaw speakers to confuse German troops in 1918. In the the next war, the Army in both the Pacific and Europe used Lakota speakers, Oneidas, Chippewas, Pimas, Hopis,Choctaws, Sac and Fox and Comanches. But those Indians simply talked to each other in their Native language. The first 29 Navajo Code Talkers developed a real code. They could not even be understood by other speakers of Navajo.

The Marines had never used Indians for this purpose. But Philip Johnston, a white man who had grown up on the lands of the Navajo Nation, approached the Corps in mid-February with an idea. Why not use Navajos and members of other large tribes for military communications? Show us, the Marines said. So Johnston brought four Navajos with him to Camp Elliott, Calif., for a demonstration. They were given some military messages. They substituted some Navajo words and then, in pairs, went into separate rooms and communicated by radio. Gen. Clayton Vogel witnessed the success, the decoded messages were accurate renditions of their English originals. He recommended to his superiors that 200 Navajos be recruited.

It took some high-level meetings before a decision was made. But, in April, a pilot program was initiated and in May 29 of the 30 Navajos recruited showed up at Camp Pendleton near Oceanside, Calif., for seven weeks of basic training. They came from places named Chinle, Kayenta, Blue Canyon and Kaibeto. Many had never before been off the reservation.

Haida Whale Divider

They developed a dictionary with words for military terms and then they memorized them. The Navajos could encode, transmit and decode a three-line English message in 20 seconds. Machines of the era took 30 minutes to do the same thing. Before the code, the fluent-in-English Japanese intercepted and deciphered codes easily. The Americans developed complex code, but these took a long time to decode, which could cost lives.

Initially, the Navajo code comprised about 200 assigned words, but by the end of the war, there were 800. Here is a small  sample from the many to be found at Official Website of the Navajo Codetalkers:

Dive Bomber  –  Gini – Sparrow Hawk

Torpedo Plane – Tas-chizzie – Swallow

Observation Plane – ine-ahs-jah – Owl

Fighter Plane  – Da-he-tih-hi  – Hummingbird

Bomber Plane – Jav-sho – Buzzard

Patrol Plane – Ga- gih – Crow

Transport Plane – Astah – Eagle

The code was more complicated than mere word substitutions. The fear was that some sharp Japanese linguist might catch on to that soon enough. So words also could be spelled out using Navajo words representing individual letters of the alphabet. The Navajo words “wol-la-chee” (ant), “be-la-sana” (apple) and “tse-nill” (axe) all stood for the letter “a.” To say “Navy” in Navajo Code, they could say “tsah (needle)  wol-la-chee (ant)  ah-keh-di- glini (victor)  tsah-ah-dzoh (yucca).” Thus, using assigned words or the alphabet code, they could encrypt anything. By not repeating the same word all the time for the same letter, they made it next to impossible to crack the code. In fact, it never was.

Navajo Code Talkers stand and salute as the colors are posted during Code Talkers Day event in Window Rock, Ariz., Aug. 14, 2008. Photo courtesy of Morris Bitsie

Navajo code talkers were on the ground with their fellow Marines in every major action in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. They proved their value at Guadalcanal, at Tarawa and at the 36-day siege on Iwo Jima. After that immensely bloody battle, Major Howard Connor, a 5th Marine Division signal officer, said: “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.” He had commanded six Navajo code talkers during the first two days of the battle. They sent more than 800 messages, all without error.

Their participation went unsung for decades because of the secrecy. The world they returned to was not unlike the one they left. Federal policies which had improved somewhat during the New Deal era again focused on assimilation and terminating reservations. Many returning veterans were denied the right to vote even though they had supposedly been made full citizens by the Snyder Act in 1924.

Like other veterans of World War II, most of these men, many of them teenagers when they enlisted, have already walked away from us. The death of Keith Little leaves a big hole because, as a long-time leader of the Navajo Code Talkers Organization, he was the powerhouse behind the National Navajo Code Talkers Museum & Veterans Center project:

The museum is dedicated to the overarching purpose of providing historical clarity, accuracy and context in preserving the extraordinary contribution of the Navajo Code Talkers for future generations. Their story will be told in compelling detail through an immersive learning environment, powerful interactive exhibits and activities, living demonstrations of the Navajo code and culture in the larger perspective of modern history. The museum and integrated education programs will serve as the national repository for the once-secret military voice code and the legendary skill, endurance, courage and ingenuity of the Navajo Code Talkers.

The project also will include a veterans center for all Armed Forces veterans and active-duty personnel.

New Mexico State Sen. John Pinto has introduced a bill in the legislature there to appropriate $175,000 for the project. In October, just two months before he died, Little testified in Santa Fe before the Senate’s Military & Veterans Affairs Committee seeking to revive the bill, which was languishing. The bill received a unanimious “DO PASS” from the Indian and Cultural Affairs Committee on the last day of January and has been  forwarded to the Finance Committee.

Donations to support the Museum & Veterans project that Mr. Little envisioned and was very much committed to can be made through the website: www.navajocodetalkers.org or by contacting Wynette Arviso at 505-870-9167 or via email wynette@navajocodetalkers.org.

The Code Talker Emblem

Code Talker Emblem

The emblem of the Code Talker represents a communication device used by two young Navajo boys called the Hero Twins. The device allowed them to secretly communicate with each other. The legendary Hero Twins were sent to the Sun to seek a weapon that would kill the monsters attacked the Navajo. The Sun gave them the Thunderbolt.

The Code Talker emblem and is also pictured on the reverse side of the Congressional Gold and Silver Medals.

This Week in American Indian History in 1890

The Indians must conform to the “white man’s ways” peaceably if they will, forcibly if they must. They must adjust themselves to their environment, and conform their mode of living substantially to our civilization. This civilization may not be the best possible but it is the best the Indians can get.

-(Bureau of Indian Affairs Report, 1889)

On February 11, 1890, half of the land on the five reservations making up the remnants of the Great Sioux Reservation was opened up to the public, continuing what was by then already a 40-year-old process that would continue to shrink Lakota tribal lands well into the 1960s. Both the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 and later Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 reduced the area in which the Lakotas (and other tribes) were allowed to live. But, everything to what is now the boundary between Wyoming and South Dakota lying west of the Missouri River, including the sacred Black Hills, was to be theirs forever. Years of government pressure had failed to persuade many Lakota to stay within the reservation boundaries. This was especially true of the Oglala and Hunkpapa, whose chief and holy man, Tathanka Iyotake (Sitting Bull), had refused to sign the 1868 Treaty or live on the designated lands.

The shrinking of the Lakota Nation

Click
for a larger version of this map.

When a thousand soldiers under George A. Custer confirmed the presence of gold in the Black Hills in 1874, a deluge of miners staked claims on reservation land, which led to repeated clashes. Those clashes and refusal of thousands of Lakota to keep to the reservation ended in the Battle of the Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn River) in June 1876, a Pyrrhic victory for the Lakota. Just four months after Custer and his men died in Medicine Tail Coulee, Washington imposed the Treaty with the Sioux Nation of 1876. Under the provisions of the 1868 treaty, terms could only be changed with approval of three-fourths of Lakota adult men. Nowhere near that number signed in 1876. But the treaty was imposed anyway, stripping away a 50-mile-wide swath of land in what is now western South Dakota, including the Black Hills.

Preparing for statehood, Dakotans lobbied Washington for a cutting up of what was left of the Great Sioux Reservation into smaller reservations, grabbing nine million acres and opening land to homesteaders. In 1888, a federal commission sought to collect signatures from three-fourths of Lakota adult males. They were unsuccessful. The next year, they stepped up the pressure but still the Lakota refused to assent. Spokesmen John Grass, Gall, and Mad Bear opposed it, and though not chosen by his people to speak, Sitting Bull did speak and urged everyone to not be intimidated into signing away the land.

But enough signatures were obtained and, in 1889, Congress passed the Sioux Bill, opening the reservation to non-Indians and making acreage allotments to individual Indians with the intent of breaking up tribal land held in common and ending reservations entirely. Non-violent resistance continued after the law took effect in February 1890. Consequently, Sitting Bull was murdered during an arrest in mid-December and the infamous massacre at Wounded Knee came two weeks later. After that, resistance ended. More land was taken in 1910.

Many non-Lakota homesteads were abandoned in the 1930s, but instead of restoring these lands to the tribes, Washington turned them over to the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Even more land was taken for the Badlands Bombing Range during World War II. When the Air Force declared it was unneeded in the 1960s, it was transferred to the NPS instead of being returned to communal tribal ownership.

-Meteor Blades

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South Dakota May Adopt Flag with Medicine Wheel Motif

Rep. Bernie Hunhoff, one of the 24 Democrats in the 105-member South Dakota legislature, is sponsoring a bill to choose a new flag that is different from the state seal. The one he has in mind was designed Dick Termes in 1989 for the 100th anniversary of South Dakota’s admission to the Union. It’s flashy and contains a stylized medicine wheel inside a sunburst. Medicine wheels are also known as sacred hoops. As described in a June 2007 article in Indian Country written by Dennis Zotigh (Kiowa, Santee Dakota, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo)

The hoop is symbolic of “the never-ending cycle of life.” It has no beginning and no end. Tribal healers and holy men have regarded the hoop as sacred and have always used it in their ceremonies. Its significance enhanced the embodiment of healing ceremonies.

The best known medicine wheel is the 300-400-year-old, Indian-constructed 80-foot stone circle in the Bighorn Range in Wyoming.

Possible choice for new South Dakota flag

Termes’s creation was forgotten 23 years ago. But he recently posted it on his Facebook page. And, in yet another example of how social media can turn obscurity into fame overnight, his design could soon be flying over public buildings everywhere in South Dakota. So, in a state known for the rapacity of the Indian wars fought on its soil, in the land of the Black Hills whose ownership is still in dispute, a place where ferocious anti-Indian racism still thrives in voter suppression and a hundred other ways, a new flag may soon incorporate a Native design as an expression of what Hunhoff calls a symbol of unity.

Bison rancher Ed Iron Cloud, III (Oglala), one of three Indian representatives in the legislature, said such a flag might show unity and coexistence.

– Meteor Blades

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Miranda Washinawatok
Miranda Washinawatok

Menominee 7th Grader Suspended for Speaking Her Native Language

The student body at Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Shawano, Wisc., is more than 60 percent American Indian and the Menominee reservation is just six miles away. Twelve-year-old Miranda Washinawatok (Menominee) was having a casual conversation with her Menominee friends, as were many other groups in their home room class while the teacher, Julie Gurta, worked on progress reports. Washinawatok, who is fluent in her native language, translated “hello” into “posoh” and “I love you” into “Ketapanen” for her friends. Gurta abruptly walked up to the group, slammed her hand onto Washinawatok’s desk and said: “You are not to be speaking like that. How do I know you’re not saying something bad and how would you like it if I spoke Polish and you didn’t understand.”

Gurta had told the group once before that they could not speak Menominee. She did not ask what the girls were saying. Later, another teacher told Washinawatok that she did not appreciate her upsetting Gurta because “she is like a daughter to me.” By the time school ended Washinawatok had been informed by Assistant Coach Billie Joe Duquaine, a preschool teacher at the school, that she was suspended from the next basketball game because of an “attitude issue.” Washinawatok told her mother she had not talked back, argued with Gurta or otherwise behaved badly.

According to Tanaes Washinawatok, Miranda’s mother: “Miranda knows quite a bit of  Menominee. We speak it. My mother, Karen Washinawatok, is the director of the Language and Culture Commission of the Menominee Tribe. She has a degree in linguistics from the University of Arizona’s College of Education-AILDI American Indian Language Development Institute. She is a former tribal chair and is strong into our culture.”

Washinawatok’s mother and Tribal legislators Rebecca Alegria and Orman Waukau Jr. met with Principal Dan Minter and the teachers. A verbal apology was given to Washinawatok and a public apology was promised.

However, the letter sent home with students was not the agreed-upon apology to Washinawatok, the family and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin.

Principal Dan Minter, however, instead sent students home Wednesday with a letter addressed to Sacred Heart’s parents and families. In it, he apologized for allowing a “perception” of cultural discrimination to exist, but denied the reprimand and benching – which are not mentioned specifically – were the “result of any discriminatory action or attitude and did not happen as a negative reaction to the cultural heritage of any of our students.” […] Minter said the incident was the result of “a breakdown of our internal processes designed to offer protection to student, faculty, staff, volunteers and administrators.”

“I regret if there was any perception by a student or family that this in any way promoted an atmosphere of cultural discrimination,” he said in the letter. “If that perception was allowed to exist, then it is deeply regretted by Sacred Heart School and for that we apologize.”

Sacred Heart Catholic School was established in November 1881. One hundred thirty-one years later, it is finally creating a awareness program to promote cultural diversity, which will include education for both the students and staff.

News & Views h/t to Bill in MD

– navajo

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Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero

Lansing Mayor Slurs Indians in Casino Dispute:

On one side are the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa (Ojibwe) Indians and the city of Lansing, Mich. On the other are the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians. The four are in a clash over a proposed $245-million casino in downtown Lansing, the state capital.

For Lansing, adding a local casino to the more than two dozen now operating in the state means an estimated 1,500 permanent jobs and 700 construction jobs and more tax revenue to help revitalize the city. For the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewas, it gives an off-reservation foothold from which to expand into southern Michigan, adding to the five Kewadin casinos the tribe owns on the state’s Upper Peninsula. For the Saginaws and the Nottawaseppis, it means competition for their casinos in Battle Creek and Mt. Pleasant and, in their view, is a violation of the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act (IGRA). For Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D), avidly in favor of the casino, it has meant getting a remedial lesson regarding racist outbursts.

At a fund-raising breakfast, Bernero showed up wearing a bulls-eye taped to his back, implying he is the target of arrows. According to people at the fund-raiser, he referred to James Nye (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians), a spokesman for casino opponents, as “Chief Chicken Little.” That generated calls for apologies. Bernero obliged with one of those no-apology apologies to “any and all who were offended. […] but none of my remarks were directed toward Native Americans, and nothing I said can fairly be construed as a racial slur, despite our opponents’ attempt to spin it that way.”

In a statement from the two Tribes, Saginaw Chippewa Chief Dennis Kequom said Bernero’s presentation clearly was racial: “Racial slurs by government officials against Native Americans conjure images of a bygone era of destructive policies that resulted in centuries of genocide and poverty.” Kequom called on other Native American leaders-and particularly those of the Sault Tribe-to condemn Bernero’s actions. He also told the mayor to get some sensitivity training.

Under the plan, the tribe would buy land from the city to build the casino, which would need approval from the Department of the Interior. The Saginaws and Nottawaseppis issued a statement saying the casino “stands no chance under federal law and administrative rules governing land into trust acquisitions for ‘gaming eligible’ lands.” The statement was accompanied by a letter from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, Atty. Gen. Bill Schuette and Philip N. Hogen, a former chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission. Hogen said the Sault Tribe’s actions were an attempt “to circumvent the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and applicable state laws against illegal gambling. […] The distant sites do not constitute ‘Indian lands,’ as defined by IGRA and therefore Michigan state gambling laws apply.”

– Meteor Blades

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David Slagger is the first member of the

Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians to serve

in the Maine House of Representatives. In

his hand is the golden eagle feather he held

when he was sworn in by Gov. Paul LePage

last month. (Gabor Degre)

Maliseet Added to Maine’s Unique System of Tribal Representatives in the Legislature

He can’t vote in the Maine House of Representatives, but David Slagger of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians can make speeches, propose legislation with a co-sponsor and sit on committees. He is the first member of his 800-person band to be chosen as a tribal representative to the legislature since the state approved the position in 2010. The Maliseets were not federally recognized until 1980.

Slagger joins non-voting representatives from Maine’s two biggest tribes, the Passamaquoddy and the Penobscot nation. Both have sent representatives to the legislature for years. His cross-borders tribe is part of the larger Maliseet Nation of New Brunswick, Canada, and together with the Passamaquoddy, Penobscots, Abenaki and Mi’kmaq, form the Wabanaki Confederacy, which means people of the “dawn land.” Maine is unique among the states in having tribal representatives in its legislature.

Slagger told the Bangor Daily News that he has been involved in tribal issues for 25 years. “In public service, it is the people’s voice that matters,” he told a reporter. “But for a long time the Maliseet people have not had a voice. This is a good first step.” He was appointed by Chief Brenda Commander after interviews by the tribal council. For now Slagger has a seat on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and sits in both the Democratic and Republican caucuses to get a good picture of what the issues are in the legislature. He has a couple of ideas for new laws. He would outlaw people from pretending to be Indians so they can sell arts and crafts and other Indian-branded products. He also wants the state to create a repository for bird feathers and allow Indians to use them in their crafts.

Slagger lives in Kenduskeag with his wife (a Mi’kmaq) and their three children. You can listen to some of his interviews here.

– Meteor Blades

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Kootenai Tribal Chairperson Jennifer Porter

Kootenai Get ETC Cards for Easier Border Crossings

As a consequence of the passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was enacted. This requires all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to present passports or other secure documents upon entering the United States. Technology, including Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, are now being used to enhance identification documents and speed the processing of cross-border traffic.

Beginning in 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection began working with federally recognized Indian tribes to produce an “Enhanced Tribal Card” showing citizenship and identity that would be acceptable for entry into the United States. Under a memorandum of agreement, a secure photo identification document with embedded RFID verification would be issued to enrolled tribal members whether they were U.S. or Canadian citizens.

The Idaho Kootenai tribe, whose 142 members live on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, were the first to sign such a memorandum in 2009. The Idaho band is one of seven making up the Kootenai Nation. Their ETC officially became a valid form of I.D. to enter the U.S. on Jan. 31. So far, 11 other tribes have applied for an ETC memorandum of agreement. Besides the Kootenai, CBP has signed an agreement with five others: the Pascua Yaqui of Arizona, the Seneca of New York, the Tohono O’odham of Arizona, the Coquille of Oregon and the Hydaburg of Alaska.

Kootenai Tribal Chairperson Jennifer Porter said, “The Kootenai ETC allows our tribal citizens to continue to travel within Kootenai Territory on both sides of the United States-Canada boundary to visit family and practice our culture while helping to secure the border for the greater good of all citizens.”

– Meteor Blades

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Johnson Holy Rock, Prominent Lakota Language Preservationist Passes: A World War II veteran, Lakota Language Consortium founder and past Oglala Sioux Tribe president who met with John F. Kennedy in the White House has died. His grandfathers traveled with Crazy Horse and his father was 11 years old when Custer attacked the Lakota-Cheyenne encampment at the Little Bighorn. He was featured in A Thunder-Being Nation. In 2005, he recorded the telling his life story in Lakota.

– navajo

Frybread Mockumentary Spoofs Importance of Which Tribe Makes the BEST: In the comedy More than Frybread, 22 American Indians, representing all federally recognized tribes in Arizona, convene in Flagstaff to compete for the first-ever Arizona Frybread Championship. The film has been selected to show at the Sedona International Film Festival and the Durango Independent Film Festival in 2012.

– navajo

Tribal Identity Film Selected for Sundance: OK BREATHE AURALEE is writer/director Brooke Swaney’s (Blackfeet & Salish) NYU thesis film. It stars Kendra Mylnechuk (Inuit) and Nathaniel Arcand (Cree) with music composed by Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache). A Native identity film about an adopted woman discovering her past was selected for the Sundance Film Festival 2012.

– navajo

Daugaard’s Staff Attacks NPR Report on Indian Foster Care Scam: South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who personally profited from placing Lakota children in non-indian foster homes calls the NPR report flawed and useless. But two members of the U.S. House of Representatives thought the NPR report was valid enough to call for an investigation.

– navajo

Does Spam Cause Diabetes in Native Populations?: The researchers said that their study could not prove that eating processed meats was to blame for the increased risk of diabetes. I suspect highly refined carbs are also to blame since low income and need for long shelf life products are prevalent on our reservations.

– navajo

National Marine Fisheries Service Sued For Not Protecting Our Northwest Coast: A coalition of conservation and American Indian groups filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service for failing to mitigate harm to marine mammals from U.S. Navy warfare training exercises along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington.

– navajo

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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.

Bear Butte and the Struggle for Religious Freedom

Bear Butte in South Dakota is a sacred site which is used as a vision quest site for the Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne. The Sioux describe Bear Butte as their most sacred altar. The Seven Sacred Rites of the Sioux were learned at the top of this mesa.

View from Bear Butte

The view from Bear Butte is shown above.  

For the Cheyenne, Bear Butte is known as Sacred Mountain and is the place where Maheo (the Supreme Being) gave their cultural hero, Sweet Medicine, the four Sacred Arrows, which allowed them access to Maheo’s power. The Cheyenne call this place Noahavose (also spelled Nowah’wus which means “The Hills Where the People are Taught”). On their historic migration to the Plains under the leadership of Sweet Medicine, a great door opened in Noahavose. Sweet Medicine was called inside by Maheo (the All Being). For four years Sweet Medicine remained in this lodge within and was instructed in the codes of law and behavior. Before returning to his people, Sweet Medicine was then given four sacred arrows. Thus, this is the holiest site in the Cheyenne world.

The Sioux Vision Quest:

Bear Butte is an important site for the Sioux vision quest, known as hamblecha. During the vision quest, the seeker finds a solitary place on Bear Butte to sing and pray out loud. Vision quest supporters wait below and sing songs and pray. Instruction and preparation for hamblecha can take a full year and may include a four-year commitment to the teacher with an expectation to repeat the quest on each of four years. At one time, those seeking the vision would stake themselves to a single place by placing a hardwood skewer under the skin of the chest and attaching a leather thong between this skewer and a stake in the ground.

Prior to the vision quest, the seeker goes through a sweat lodge ceremony in order to cast off all human fleshly influences. With regard to the completion of the vision quest, Sioux physician Charles Eastman wrote:

“When he returned to the camp, he must remain at a distance until he had again entered the sweat lodge and prepared himself for intercourse with his fellows. Of the vision or sign vouchsafed to him he did not speak, unless it had included some commission which must be publicly fulfilled.”

In most visions, animals or birds appear and there is a correlation between the animal or bird and the type of power, knowledge or skill.

Among the Sioux, both men and women are able to receive power through a vision. Those who receive the strongest powers become medicine people or shamans.

Twentieth Century:

In 1962, Bear Butte was acquired by the State of South Dakota for development as a State Park. As a State Park it was to have a visitor’s center, campgrounds, and parking lots. Tourists were to be given maps to its trails and provided with viewing platforms and signs that indicated where Indians could be spotted fasting. Instead of understanding the vision quest as a religious ceremony, the tourists would view it the same way that they viewed the powwows: once again the Indians would be on display.

Bear Butte Sign

During a vision quest at Bear Butte in 1965 Sioux spiritual leader Frank Fools Crow was told in his vision that he was to tell certain things about himself and his people. The result was the 1979 book Fools Crow edited by Thomas Mails.

In 1973, Bear Butte was listed as a National Historical Place. In 1981 Bear Butte was listed as a National Historical Landmark.

In 1982, a group of traditional Sioux spiritual leaders, including Frank Fools Crow, filed suit against the South Dakota State Parks Department. In the case of Fools Crow versus Gullet, the Sioux traditionalists argued that the South Dakota State Parks Department had destroyed the sanctity of Indian religious ceremonies at Bear Butte. They argued that the state’s construction of access roads, parking lots, and other facilities, including wood platforms to allow tourists to photograph sacred ceremonies, interfered with their free exercise of religion. The courts, however, found that granting Indian rights would violate separation of church and state. With regard to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, the courts noted that it was unclear if the Act governs state governments or agencies. The court agreed that Bear Butte was vital to the exercise of Lakota and Cheyenne religion. However, it rejected the argument that the state’s management of the site interfered with the free exercise of their religion. The decision was upheld by the Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

In 1982, the manager of Bear Butte State Park sent out a notice to Sioux and Cheyenne leaders informing them that they could no longer gather sage, hackberry or wild rose within the park. Furthermore, there could be no sweat lodges held while the parking lot was being expanded and the new access roads were being paved. Finally, all Indians would have to purchase five-day permits in order to fast and pray at this sacred site.

A 1996 fire on Bear Butte burned more than 800 acres of timber and grass. Some traditional spiritual leaders felt that the fire was a cleansing of the misuse of this sacred area. This misuse included complaints about non-Indians attempting to do ceremonies they know nothing about; the removal of tobacco ties and flags by Indians because of concerns that they would be touched and/or taken by non-Indians; and by some incidents of drunkenness and nudity.

The federal government extended cultural property designation status to Bear Butte in 1997. This designation not only highlights the historic and cultural associations of Bear Butte with the Plains Indians, but it also provides some protection to the site and provides guidelines to preserve it.

In 2003, a shooting range was proposed near Bear Butte. The complex was to be built with a federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Instead of contacting the tribes, the builders notified the state Office of Tribal Government Relations of their plans. Indian officials pointed out that this office did not speak for all of the 17 tribes which use Bear Butte for ceremonies. Indian spiritual leaders pointed out that the estimated 10,000 rounds per day being fired from rifles and handguns would affect the silence and serenity of the people who come to Bear Butte to pray and seek spiritual guidance. The state of South Dakota cancelled the $511,200 in federal grant money.

In 2004, Northern Cheyenne tribal councilman Alberta Fisher and councilman Jace Killsback purchased a 160-acre campground at the base of Noavose (Bear Butte). The Cheyenne Land Authority constructed camping structures, shades, and outhouses for use by tribal members during ceremonies.

In 2006, Alex White Plume, the President of the Olgala Lakota Nation, wrote to President George W. Bush regarding the Lakota’s sacred site at Bear Butte:

“Indian peoples’ ability to survive into the future depends largely on our ability to maintain, protect and promote our traditional and cultural beliefs, which includes our ability to practice our spiritual beliefs in privacy and without disruption. This is not merely a cultural and spiritual concern; it is a matter of human rights that exist in international law.”

The President did not respond.

In 2011, the State Board of Minerals and Environment ruled that Nakota Energy could drill exploratory oil wells near Bear Butte. The company was to be allowed to drill five wells outside of the boundaries of the Bear Butte National Historic Landmark. The company did not initially consult with the tribes as the proposed oil field is on private land. However, about one-third of the original proposed drilling area is within the boundaries of the state park. In response to Indian complaints, the Board of Minerals and Environment agreed to limit the number of wells and to require that they be drilled outside the boundary of the National Historic Site.

Oil Map

In 2011, the National Trust for Historic Preservation included Bear Butte on its list of Most Endangered Places. The site was listed as endangered because of proposed wind and oil energy development. It is felt that this energy development would negatively impact the sacred site and degrade the cultural landscape.

In 2011, the South Dakota State Legislature voted to revise the procedure for reissuing certain alcoholic beverage licenses. While the tribes have opposed any licenses for venues surrounding Bear Butte, the new legislation means that liquor license renewal hearings will no longer be held.

At the present time, there are three tribes with a vested interest in Bear Butte, in that they own property and pay property taxes: The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe own 1,080 acres on the east side of the mountain; the Rosebud Sioux Tribe owns 40 acres on the north side; and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe owns 40 acres on the west side, 160 acres on the north side, and 440 acres on the northeast side.

According to the State Park website:

In most religions, specific areas or sites hold great spiritual significance. Bear Butte is such a place.

Many Native Americans see the mountain as a place where the creator has chosen to communicate with them through visions and prayer.

During your visit, you will see colorful pieces of cloth and small bundles or pouches hanging from the trees. These prayer cloths and tobacco ties represent the prayers offered by individuals during their worship. Please respect these offerings and leave them undisturbed.

Source: http://black-hills-south-dakot…

Bear Butte Banner

Mount Rushmore

While Europeans tended to build the places they considered to be sacred-churches, statues, memorials-for American Indian people sacred places were often not places constructed by humans, but places which were naturally sacred. In looking at the landscape around them, Indian people did not see a landscape that needed changing, nor did they see it as a landscape which they were to dominate: rather, they saw a landscape filled with living things. The living things within this landscape included the plants and animals, as well as the rivers, the rocks, the mountains, and the hills. Sacred places in the landscape were often portals through which Indian people could make contact with the sacred.

The Black Hills in South Dakota is an area which is historically linked to several tribes, including the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Kiowa. As a sacred area, it was used for making contact with the spirit world and obtaining spiritual power. It was here that many Indians conducted ceremonies such as the vision quest, the Sun Dance, and others. It was here that they gathered the sacred medicines-the plants-that they needed for healing and for ceremonial use.

By the 1870s, Americans were spreading rumors that that Black Hills were unoccupied, that they were an area which Indian people did not use. Illegal expeditions into the area somehow ignored all of the Indian hunting parties which they encountered, and which were reported in their journals, and told of an empty area waiting for “development” by non-Indians who would redeem the area from its paganism and make it a part of modern America.

The theft of the Black Hills from the Sioux has been widely reported by both historians and the popular media. The theft, however, involved more than just taking the land: it also involved renaming it. All of the geographic features within the Black Hills had Indian names in 1877, but over the next couple of decades these names were replaced by non-Indian names.

In 1884, New York City attorney Charles E. Rushmore came to the Black Hills to check on legal titles to some properties. On coming back to camp one day, he asked Bill Challis about the name of a mountain. Bill is reported to have replied:

“Never had a name but from now on we’ll call it Rushmore.”

With that offhand comment, the mountain known to the Sioux as Six Grandfathers became Mount Rushmore. The Sioux name had been an important part of their oral tradition and their association with the land. The new name reflected the American lack of concern for the history of the land and the importance of attorneys in their society.

The wealth generated from the gold and the cattle in the Black Hills was not enough to satisfy American greed. By the 1920s, people were looking for new ways of exploiting the Black Hills. In other parts of the country, tourism was proving to be an economic asset, and so, in 1923, Doane Robinson, the South Dakota state historian, came up with an idea to bring tourists (and their money) into the state. His idea was to commission a sculptor to transform one of the tall narrow, granite rock formations in the Black Hills into memorials of major figures from the mythic narrative of the American west. In his vision, he saw giant memorials to heroes such as George Armstrong Custer, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and perhaps the Sioux chief Red Cloud, which would stand along a new highway and lure tourists away from Yellowstone National Park.

The next problem was how to bring the vision into reality. To solve this, Robinson turned to Gutzon Borglum, the son of Danish Mormon immigrants who had made the ten-week trek along the Mormon trail through Indian lands to Salt Lake City. Borglum was one of the most famous sculptors of the time. Borglum had been involved with the carving of a massive bas-relief monument to the heroes of the Confederacy at Stone Mountain, Georgia. Borglum was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and Stone Mountain was used as a site to revitalize the Klan.

Robinson had initially envisioned the carvings on a series of geological features known as “The Needles,” but Borglum found them unsuitable for carving and selected the Six Grandfathers (Mount Rushmore) instead. The new plan was assailed by naturalists who pointed out that it would desecrate the natural beauty of the Black Hills. Robinson replied:

“God only makes a Michelangelo or a Gutzon Borglum once in a thousand years.”

Borglum changed the original vision of the project and proposed a “Shrine of Democracy” which would focus on Presidential portraits. He would later state:

“The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.”

In 1926, Borglum began carving the faces of four presidents out of a mountain in the Black Hills, land sacred to the Lakota people. The sculptor, who admired Manifest Destiny and saw the conquest of the Lakota and the theft of their sacred land as justifiable, dedicated the sculptures to the Expansion of the United States. From Borglum’s perspective, Manifest Destiny, an expression of racial superiority, was an expression of the rightful order of the world.

Mt Rushmore 2

The following year, President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the construction of the monument to Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.  While the Black Hills were sacred to the Sioux and other tribes, Coolidge made no mention of Indians in his dedication speech.

In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the nearly completed monument to Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt at Mount Rushmore. As with the earlier Presidential dedication, the President made no mention of Indians. The general public who read about the new monument, and the tourists who came to it, were oblivious to the fact that Mount Rushmore had once been Indian land, and that it was still sacred to them.

Mt Rushmore 1

From the Indian perspective, the monument at Mount Rushmore was a symbol of the dominant culture’s arrogance, racism, and spiritual insensitivity. Carving icons of Presidents who were known for their insensitivity to Indian issues into a living sacred mountain would be similar to painting anti-Christian graffiti inside of cathedral, or anti-Semitic symbols inside a synagogue.

In 1970, a group of about 20 Sioux from the Pine Ridge Reservation under the leadership of Leo Wilcox, a tribal council member, asked to conduct a prayer vigil at the amphitheater at Mount Rushmore. The request was granted. The group explained to tourists and the news media that they had come to protest the failure of the United States to return land taken from the Pine Ridge Reservation for a gunnery range during World War II. They pointed out that Mount Rushmore, a part of the Black Hills, had been illegally taken from them a century earlier.

In a separate demonstration, members of the American Indian Movement demonstrated at Mount Rushmore.  Several of them camped on the top of the monument just behind the head of Theodore Roosevelt. A highly respected Sioux spiritual leader, Frank Fools Crow, came to Mount Rushmore and performed a ceremony to purify the land. In doing this ceremony, he re-established the Sioux religious relationship with Mount Rushmore.

In 1971, the American Indian Movement symbolically renamed the monument Mount Crazy Horse. Sioux spiritual leader John Fire Lame Deer planted a prayer staff on top of the mountain. From the viewpoint of AIM and many Native Americans, Mount Rushmore should be considered as the Shrine of Hypocrisy rather than as the Shrine of Democracy. Mount Rushmore symbolizes to them the treaties broken by the United States.

By the end of the twentieth century, there was no doubt that Mount Rushmore was a successful tourist attraction. The non-Indian businesses in the area were earning about $100 million annually. This prosperity was made possible by an initial investment of about $1 million in federal tax money. Just 60 miles east of the monument, however, the Pine Ridge Reservation, home to many of the Sioux who had been the aboriginal owners, was one of the poorest areas in the United States with an unemployment rate of about 80%.

In 2004, Gerard Baker (Mandan/Hidatsa) became the first Native American superintendent of the park. He had previously been superintendent at the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana. When he was offered the position at Mount Rushmore, he called the elders and asked their advice. He was expecting them to tell him not to take the job, but instead was told that this would be a good place to start the healing.

Baker 1

Baker 3

Gerard Baker is pictured above.

Under his leadership, Mount Rushmore opened more avenues of interpretation and moved beyond the single focus on the four Presidents. Baker opened up a dialogue with Native American groups, asking them for feedback and input about the monument. As a result, Heritage Village, a small cluster of Sioux tipis, was established at the monument. During the work week, Native Americans provided demonstrations of Sioux culture and handicrafts. They also provided insights into the aboriginal Sioux culture.

In 2008, Baker invited several tribal elders to a tribal council held on the park grounds of Mount Rushmore. In the council the park rangers and staff listened to the concerns and issues of the elders. Three main ideas came out of this dialogue: (1) to place Sioux language translations on several signs as a way of indicating the Indian presence, (2) to distribute pamphlets with an accurate description of Sioux culture and spirituality; and (3) to have Native American college students collect oral histories from elders about the park.

Baker, who suffered a stroke in 2009, retired early from the National Park Service in 2010.

Tonight! “Hidden America: Children of the Plains,” ABC 20/20 Special

TONIGHT, at 10 PM Eastern, ABC is airing a 20/20 special called “Hidden America: Children of the Plains” featuring Tashina Iron Horse, a 5 year old from Pine Ridge Reservation.


Tashina Iron Horse

       Young Tashina Iron Horse is a competitive pow wow dancer. (credit: Elissa Stohler/ABC News)

Pine Ridge residents live amid poverty that rivals that of the third world. Forty-seven percent of the Pine Ridge population lives below the federal poverty level, 65 percent to 80 percent of the adults are unemployed, and rampant alcoholism and an obesity epidemic combine with underfunded schools to make it a rough place to grow up. Tashina lives in government housing in Manderson, 30 minutes north of downtown Pine Ridge. She lives with her grandmother, parents, siblings and uncles – sometimes up to 19 people live in the three-bedroom house, which has seen better days.

In the decades following President John F. Kennedy’s pledge to fund public housing projects on American Indian reservations, a construction boom began in Pine Ridge. Today, most of these units built in the 1970s and 1980s are in varying degrees of disrepair – a result, critics say, of steep cuts to the Housing and Urban Development budget made by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Public housing dollars today are largely spent battling black mold in reservation housing rather than constructing new homes.

Amid the despair, there are youth across the reservation – like Tashina – who are breaking through the hopelessness with huge dreams and powerful stories.

Check out a sneak peek – Tashina teaches Diane Sawyer some of her moves – below.

[Video will not post here. Click at ABC link at top to view video.]

Video Transcript provided by the lovely Cedwyn:

ABC:  At one of the dance competitions, we saw little Tashina Iron Horse, so joyful.  We were intrigued by her life.

(cut to house)

Tashina:  See, mom!  I got that book.

ABC:  Her house has so many people living in it, even her grandmother and uncle find it hard to keep track.

Grandma:  Five in Bobby’s room, two in mine, and the two boys downstairs.  And then Amy and her family, there’s five of them.  Then Amber, her and Baby will be coming back, too, so there’s two, three of them.

ABC:  So in total, it’s about, what, 15?

Aunt:  Yeah.  Gee, 19, I guess.

ABC:  Tashina sleeps in one bed with her mother, her father and two other children.

AJ:  Comb your hair and look into the camera.

ABC:  Tashina’s dad, AJ, is getting ready to apply to be a firefighter.  He gets little Tashina and her sister Shante ready for school.

AJ:  If there was enough housings for us, I think we would get our own house just so me and my little family could have our time.

ABC:  And it’s her uncle Matthew who makes those intricate little costumes Tashina loves to wear for the dances.  This is beautiful.

Tashina, five years old, with a giggling invitation to join her in the dance.

Please watch the special tonight and let us know what you think in the comments.

We at Native American Netroots thought this would be a good time to kick off our winter fuel fundraising efforts.

Here are a few photos of the grateful recipients of the fuel you bought last winter that I haven’t posted before:

These photos were all taken by Sherry Cornelius aka lpggirl of St. Francis Energy who personally delivers the propane. Everyone pictured is saying THANKS to Daily Kos for helping them with heat.

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HOW YOU CAN HELP

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PLEASE Share with family and friends and ask them to share.

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My earlier diaries explain in more detail why and how we are helping:

Here we go again: Blizzard hits Dakotas

Band-Aid for the Lakotas

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information


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.

    Note that South Dakota boasts of a 4.5% unemployment rate and ranks #2 in the Nation.
  • 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.

We have bypassed the middlemen; the 501c3s, the red-taped strangled Tribal Councils and the pathetic Federal LIHEAP program which runs out three weeks into winter.

We’ve set up relationships with the propane companies that service Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservation. The kind operators/owners know who needs help and can’t get it from their Tribal, State or Federal government.

Help buy propane for Lakota families in South Dakota:

The *fastest* way to help is to pick up the phone and call with your credit card information. A family will get propane delivered either the same day or the next day.


Telephone:

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2

11 AM – 6 PM MST EVERY DAY

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

If you’d like to mail a check:

[make check payable to: St. Francis Energy Co.]

Attn: Sherry or Patsy

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

NOT tax deductible

http://sfec.yolasite.com/

 

You can also call Sherry’s cell phone: 605.208.8888 if the above line is busy.

_____________________________________________

UPDATE:

Good idea from  Aji in the comments :

…for $230 plus shipping, Kossacks can get them an LPG safety space heater.  We’ve used this model; very effective; stable and low for safety and energy efficiency; multiple heat settings so you don’t waste gas; and a built-in O2 sensor auto-shutoff.

You can order a heater  here  and have it shipped to:

Sherry Cornelius

St. Francis Energy Co.

102 N Main Street

SAINT FRANCIS, SD 57572

Mr. Heater Big Buddy™ Indoor/Outdoor Propane Heater – 18,000 BTU, Model# MH18B

You also need to include these accessories:

Mr. Heater AC Power Adapter for Big Buddy Heaters – 6 Volt, Model# F276127

Mr. Heater 12-Ft. Hose with Regulator for Item# 173635

Mr. Heater Fuel Filter for Buddy™ Heaters, Model# F273699

Order Total   $222.84 (includes shipping)

Telephone:

The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday only 8-4:30pm MST

Ask for Crystal to contribute to someone from Autumn’s list. $120 minimum delivery. This company serves Pine Ridge Reservation.

NOT tax deductible

If you live out of the country please use our PayPal link at Native American Netroots, the donate button is in the upper right of the page. This process takes about two weeks for the funds to hit the reservations so telephoning the propane companies directly is the fastest way to help.

A special thanks to Miep who recently donated $500 to this season’s effort.

Ernesto Yerena’s Newest Addition to the Pine Ridge Billboard Project

This is part three of my continuing coverage of Aaron Huey’s Pine Ridge Billboard Project.

Below is Ernesto Yerena’s latest screenprint made for this project and based on one of Aaron Huey’s images from Pine Ridge. Information about Ernesto and his first illustration for this project is featured below the fold.

I’m truly amazed at the magnitude of beauty in this artistic collaboration among Aaron Huey, Shepard Fairey and Ernesto Yerena.  

Art and Activism.

Background on this project below:

The famous street artist Shepard Fairey of the Obama HOPE image has generously donated his time. This will be available as a limited edition signed screenprint through Aaron Huey’s Pine Ridge Billboard Project.

BEHOLD

Here is Aaron Huey’s photo that Shepard Fairey based his illustration on:

Theo White Plume - Wambli Wahancanka

      Theo White Plume – Wambli Wahancanka (Eagle Shield)

FROM MY FIRST DIARY ON THIS SUBJECT:

I would like to announce a new project to raise NATIONAL awareness of the poverty on our reservations. My friend Aaron Huey is launching an ambitious billboard campaign using his images of Pine Ridge reservation. Aaron is donating his time and talent to organize this project.

I have been documenting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for the past six years. Recently I have realized how inappropriate it is for this project to end with another book or a gallery show.

More than any project I have done in my career, the ever-evolving Pine Ridge project gives voice to social injustice and a forgotten history. I want my work to empower the Lakota and other tribes who fight for recognition of the past in order to help give them a chance to move forward.

Your involvement will help raise the visibility of these images by taking them straight to the public to the sides of busses, subway tunnels, and billboards. I want people to think about prisoner of war camps in America on their commute to work. I want the message to be so loud that it cannot be ignored.

Honor the Treaties

Illustration by Ernesto Yerena using images by Aaron Huey


Lakota Girl Reaching

Image used to create the illustration above


Transcript:

[American Indian voice: Rick Two Dogs]

You know, history, when you break it down it means “his story,” which is really the story of the dominant culture.  And we all know historically that the — I guess the conquerors are the ones that write the history, you know, and it’s really never based on the people that were supposedly conquered.

[Text block]

The last chapter in any successful genocide is the one in which the oppressor can remove their hands and say, “My god, what are these people doing to themselves, they are killing each other, they are killing themselves!”

[Aaron Huey:]

When I first got to Pine Ridge, I didn’t really get it.  All my first assignments were about poverty and violence and gangs and all those stories skimmed the surface.  And now, six years later, now that I know the real story, I realize that mainstream American magazines won’t print it.

The real story is the history — a history of broken treaties, of prisoner of war camps, and massacres.  It’s too hard to look at.  It’s too dark.  It’s too layered and too painful to fit in between shampoo ads and car commercials.  This project has reached the limits of print media.

I don’t want you to give me money today for a book or a gallery show, where everybody drinks wine and looks at beautiful pictures of suffering.  I want to take the images I’ve made over the past six years on Pine Ridge and put them on billboards.  I want to put them in subways.  I want to put them on the sides of busses.  I want to put them in places where people can’t ignore them.

I’m here today asking for your participation in a project that will illuminate a hidden history and empower a community.  This is a grassroots information campaign.  Your involvement, not just your money, is crucial.  We will need help distributing these images in your communities.

Several partners have already joined me in this cause, including Ernesto Yerena, an activist and artist from Los Angeles who created visuals for the Alto Arizona campaign.  Ernesto is collaborating with me to create a poster series based on my photographs that transcends these depressing statistics.



This collaborative image is the first of many that we will make in February.  Also joining us will be Shephard Fairey, the most prolific street artist working in America, widely known for his ongoing Obey propaganda and Obama’s Hope campaign.  If anybody can raise an issue to icon status, it’s him.

My collaborations with Ernesto and Shephard will go up on walls in cities all across America.  We will be working hand in hand with Lakota and other indigenous rights organizations to produce this work, sharing resources through a website I have created at honorthetreaties.org.

Remember, this project is not a charity.  It’s about turning awareness into action.

MORE BACKGROUND:

In 1980 the Supreme Court ruled upon the longest running court case in US History, the Sioux Nation vs. the United States. The court determined that the terms of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty had been violated when the Sioux were resettled onto P.O.W. camps, and 7 million acres of their land were opened up to prospectors and homesteaders. These camps are now called reservations.

The grim statistics on Native Reservations today are the equivalent to that of a 3rd world country, revealing the legacy of colonization and treaty violations. Unemployment on the Reservation fluctuates between 80-90%. Many are homeless, and those with homes are packed into rotting buildings with up to 5 families. More than 90% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. The life expectancy for men is 47 years old – roughly the same as Afghanistan and Somalia.

ACTION: For as little as $10 you can help launch this project.

Your involvement will help raise the visibility of these images by taking them straight to the public to the sides of busses, subway tunnels, and billboards. I want people to think about prisoner of war camps in America on their commute to work. I want the message to be so loud that it cannot be ignored.



Mock-up of a highway billboard installation:




Mock-up of a wall installation using 24x 26″ posters:

Mock-up of a subway platform installation:

For the minimum donation of $10 you get access to the “making-of zone.” The making-of zone will be a special behind the scenes page where you can monitor Aaron, Ernesto, Shepard and others as they work on this project.

CREATIVE PARTNERS: Helping me to turn my photos into powerful illustrations are Ernesto Yerena, an artist and activist who created visuals for the Alto Arizona campaign, and Shepard Fairey, the most prolific street artist in America, known for his street art (OBEY) and the Obama HOPE campaign image. These collaborations with Ernesto and Shepard will go up on buildings and bus stops all over the country. I hope to also involve some of you with distribution of imagery and possibly even in the role of a wheat pasting in your towns. Shepardard’s image will be uploaded in April.

FINANCIAL GOALS + BUDGET: $17,250 will provide funding for a nationwide guerilla poster campaign. $30k, will allow for substantially more visibility, taking the photo essay to subway platforms in NYC and to billboards around South Dakota and Washington DC, where policy makers have the power to make real change on Reservations. Expenses: 35-40% to printing posters and billboards, 40-50% for ad space, 5-10% Shipping and Travel, and 1% for website setup.

Progress so far today:

Remember that $17,250 is the minimum goal, the ultimate goal is $30K to allow more visibility.

PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES to watch my TED talk on this subject, the video is posted below.

Transcript

Honor The Treaties

TURN AWARENESS INTO ACTION:

Through this campaign a website is forming at honorthetreaties.org I hope to build this site up to become a point of reference for those who want to know more about the history and the (broken) treaties of the Sioux and other tribes. There will be direct links to assist grassroots Native non-profits in places like Pine Ridge.

Our first partner is Owe Aku.

Support the Owe Aku International Justice Project,  a grassroots non-governmental social change organization dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of the Lakota Way of Life, 1851 & 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty Rights, and Human Rights.  “Owe Aku” means “bring back the way.”  Learn more about their specific actions at oweakuinternational.org There is also a donation page if you’d like to help this group. They are currently in need of a new computer for their office.

Raising the NATIONAL awareness in metropolitan areas like New York City and Washington DC will help us influence policy makers to help our American Indian tribes and reservations.

This is an excellent campaign.

AWARENESS WILL BRING ACTION

FOR FUTURE REFERENCE:

Contact info for the SENATE INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

to honor the treaties:

Senator Dorgan

Senator Barrasso

Senator Akaka

Senator Cantwell

Senator Coburn

Senator Crapo

Senator Franken

Senator Inouye

Senator Johanns

Senator Johnson

Senator McCain

Senator Murkowski

Senator Tester

Senator Udall

Rosebud Rezident Receives a New Propane Heater from Kossack

In my last diary Sherry Cornelius aka lpggirl of St. Francis Energy told us about Lillian Walking Eagle who desperately needed a new propane heater:

Lillian Walking Eagle and grand daughter : Lillian’s son Cornell said to put the caption “These two old ladies nearly froze.”  they have an old faulty ummm lpg space heater? not sure what they’re called.  housing is constantly being called by them and housing merely replaces the thermocouple.  i thought i heard liep had funds for furnaces so i told lillian about it.  i told my mom about lillian’s situation, and she called the VP willie kindle.  he said he would do something for this gramma.  wks later nothing is done for them.

Kossack kurt, a lurker, my new favorite lurker ordered a heater plus all the necessary accessories and had it shipped to Sherry. Sherry installed it right away.

Here is Lillian with her brand new heater:

Lorikeet, lineatus, RunawayRose and jessica (?) also donated money specifically for heaters. I waited to hear from Sherry to make sure the heaters were safe and the proper accessories were included.  An update on cost, thanks to kurt, is that plus the accessories and shipping the total cost for each heater is $230. I was able to buy 2 more heaters.  Sherry promised to take photos of the new heaters with their new owners.

lpggirl has sent us more photos of our Rosebud rezidents saying THANK YOU to you all for helping them get through another harsh winter in South Dakota.

Below you’ll find more THANK YOU photos and details on how you can help. Please share these donation details with family and friends.

Again, we are helping people who are falling through the cracks with government and tribal assistance.

Everyone here has consented to having their photo taken with the caption

THANK YOU DAILY KOS and Native American Netroots!

More from Sherry’s email:


thanks a bunch to the quilt making lady.  the question was asked, who are those for? i said anybody that needs them. then they were gone. they asked who made these. i read them the note that came with, then gave them the note.  i’m sure there will be a thank you note to follow…

:)

_________________________________________________________

HOW YOU CAN HELP

_________________________________________________________

PLEASE Share with family and friends and ask them to share.

_________________________________________________________

My earlier diaries explain in more detail why and how we are helping:

Here we go again: Blizzard hits Dakotas

Band-Aid for the Lakotas

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

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.

    Note that South Dakota boasts of a 4.5% unemployment rate and ranks #2 in the Nation.
  • 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.

We have bypassed the middlemen; the 501c3s, the red-taped strangled Tribal Councils and the pathetic Federal LIHEAP program which runs out three weeks into winter.

We’ve set up relationships with the propane companies that service Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservation. The kind operators/owners know who needs help and can’t get it from their Tribal, State or Federal government.

Help buy propane for Lakota families in South Dakota:

The *fastest* way to help is to pick up the phone and call with your credit card information. A family will get propane delivered either the same day or the next day.


Telephone:

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2

11 AM – 6 PM MST EVERY DAY

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

If you’d like to mail a check:

[make check payable to: St. Francis Energy Co.]

Attn: Sherry or Patsy

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

NOT tax deductible

http://sfec.yolasite.com/

 

You can also call Sherry’s cell phone: 605.208.8888 if the above line is busy.

_____________________________________________

UPDATE:

Good idea from  Aji in the comments :

…for $230 plus shipping, Kossacks can get them an LPG safety space heater.  We’ve used this model; very effective; stable and low for safety and energy efficiency; multiple heat settings so you don’t waste gas; and a built-in O2 sensor auto-shutoff.

You can order a heater  here  and have it shipped to:

Sherry Cornelius

St. Francis Energy Co.

102 N Main Street

SAINT FRANCIS, SD 57572

Mr. Heater Big Buddy™ Indoor/Outdoor Propane Heater – 18,000 BTU, Model# MH18B

You also need to include these accessories:

Mr. Heater AC Power Adapter for Big Buddy Heaters – 6 Volt, Model# F276127

Mr. Heater 12-Ft. Hose with Regulator for Item# 173635

Mr. Heater Fuel Filter for Buddy™ Heaters, Model# F273699

Order Total   $222.84 (includes shipping)

Telephone:

The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday only 8-4:30pm MST

Ask for Crystal to contribute to someone from Autumn’s list. $120 minimum delivery. This company serves Pine Ridge Reservation.

NOT tax deductible

If you live out of the country please use our PayPal link at Native American Netroots, the donate button is in the upper right of the page. This process takes about two weeks for the funds to hit the reservations so telephoning the propane companies directly is the fastest way to help.

Pine Ridge Billboard Project by Aaron Huey

I would like to announce a new project to raise NATIONAL awareness of the poverty on our reservations. My friend Aaron Huey is launching an ambitious billboard campaign using his images of Pine Ridge reservation. Aaron is donating his time and talent to organize this project.

I have been documenting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for the past six years. Recently I have realized how inappropriate it is for this project to end with another book or a gallery show.

More than any project I have done in my career, the ever-evolving Pine Ridge project gives voice to social injustice and a forgotten history. I want my work to empower the Lakota and other tribes who fight for recognition of the past in order to help give them a chance to move forward.

Your involvement will help raise the visibility of these images by taking them straight to the public to the sides of busses, subway tunnels, and billboards. I want people to think about prisoner of war camps in America on their commute to work. I want the message to be so loud that it cannot be ignored.


Honor the Treaties

Illustration by Ernesto Yerena using images by Aaron Huey

Lakota Girl Reaching

Image used to create the illustration above


Transcript:

[American Indian voice:]

You know, history, when you break it down it means “his story,” which is really the story of the dominant culture.  And we all know historically that the — I guess the conquerors are the ones that write the history, you know, and it’s really never based on the people that were supposedly conquered.

[Text block]

The last chapter in any successful genocide is the one in which the oppressor can remove their hands and say, “My god, what are these people doing to themselves, they are killing each other, they are killing themselves!”

[Aaron Huey:]

When I first got to Pine Ridge, I didn’t really get it.  All my first assignments were about poverty and violence and gangs and all those stories skimmed the surface.  And now, six years later, now that I know the real story, I realize that mainstream American magazines won’t print it.

The real story is the history — a history of broken treaties, of prisoner of war camps, and massacres.  It’s too hard to look at.  It’s too dark.  It’s too layered and too painful to fit in between shampoo ads and car commercials.  This project has reached the limits of print media.

I don’t want you to give me money today for a book or a gallery show, where everybody drinks wine and looks at beautiful pictures of suffering.  I want to take the images I’ve made over the past six years on Pine Ridge and put them on billboards.  I want to put them in subways.  I want to put them on the sides of busses.  I want to put them in places where people can’t ignore them.

I’m here today asking for your participation in a project that will illuminate a hidden history and empower a community.  This is a grassroots information campaign.  Your involvement, not just your money, is crucial.  We will need help distributing these images in your communities.

Several partners have already joined me in this cause, including Ernesto Yerena, an activist and artist from Los Angeles who created visuals for the Alto Arizona campaign.  Ernesto is collaborating with me to create a poster series based on my photographs that transcends these depressing statistics.



This collaborative image is the first of many that we will make in February.  Also joining us will be Shephard Fairey, the most prolific street artist working in America, widely known for his ongoing Obey propaganda and Obama’s Hope campaign.  If anybody can raise an issue to icon status, it’s him.

My collaborations with Ernesto and Shephard will go up on walls in cities all America.  We will be working hand in hand with Lakota and other indigenous rights organizations to produce this work, sharing resources through a website I have created at honorthetreaties.org.

Remember, this project is not a charity.  It’s about turning awareness into action.

MORE BACKGROUND:

In 1890 the Supreme Court ruled upon the longest running court case in US History, the Sioux Nation vs. the United States. The court determined that the terms of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty had been violated when the Sioux were resettled onto P.O.W. camps, and 7 million acres of their land were opened up to prospectors and homesteaders. These camps are now called “reservations”.

The grim statistics on Native Reservations today are the equivalent to that of a 3rd world country, revealing the legacy of colonization and treaty violations. Unemployment on the Reservation fluctuates between 80-90%. Many are homeless, and those with homes are packed into rotting buildings with up to 5 families. More than 90% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. The life expectancy for men is 47 years old – roughly the same as Afghanistan and Somalia.

ACTION: For as little as $10 you can help launch this project.

Your involvement will help raise the visibility of these images by taking them straight to the public-to the sides of busses, subway tunnels, and billboards. I want people to think about prisoner of war camps in America on their commute to work. I want the message to be so loud that it cannot be ignored.



Mock-up of a highway billboard installation:




Mock-up of a wall installation using 24x 26″ posters:

Mock-up of a subway platform installation:

CREATIVE PARTNERS: Helping me to turn my photos into powerful illustrations are Ernesto Yerena, an artist and activist who created visuals for the Alto Arizona campaign, and Shepard Fairey, the most prolific street artist in America, known for his street art (OBEY) and the Obama HOPE campaign image. These collaborations with Ernesto and Shepard will go up on buildings and bus stops all over the country. I hope to also involve some of you with distribution of imagery and possibly even in the role of “wheat pasting” in your towns. Shepard’s image will be uploaded in late Feb.

FINANCIAL GOALS + BUDGET: $17,250 will provide funding for a nationwide guerilla poster campaign. $30k, will allow for substantially more visibility, taking the photo essay to subway platforms in NYC and to billboards around South Dakota and Washington DC, where policy makers have the power to make real change on Reservations. Expenses: 35-40% to printing posters and billboards, 40-50% for ad space, 5-10% Shipping and Travel, and 1% for website setup.

OUTLETS FOR ACTION: Through this campaign a website is forming at honorthetreaties.org I hope to build this site up to become a point of reference for those who want to know more about the history and the (broken) treaties of the Sioux and other tribes. There will be direct links to assist grassroots Native non-profits in places like Pine Ridge.

Our first partner is Owe Aku.

PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES to watch my TED talk on this subject, the video is posted below.

Transcript

Honor The Treaties

Raising the NATIONAL awareness in metropolitan areas like New York City and Washington DC will help us influence policy makers to help our American Indian tribes and reservations.

This is an excellent campaign.

FOR FUTURE REFERENCE:

Contact info for the SENATE INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

to honor the treaties:

Senator Dorgan

Senator Barrasso

Senator Akaka

Senator Cantwell

Senator Coburn

Senator Crapo

Senator Franken

Senator Inouye

Senator Johanns

Senator Johnson

Senator McCain

Senator Murkowski

Senator Tester

Senator Udall

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

Cedwyn for providing the video transcript this morning

TiaRachel for video embed assistance

rfall for helping with new coding issues with DK4 stylesheets

More Thank You Pics from Rosebud Rez from our Propane Donation Drive

Sherry Cornelius aka lpggirl of St. Francis Energy has sent us more photos of our Rosebud rezidents saying *THANK YOU* to you all for helping them get through another harsh winter in South Dakota.

Below you’ll find more THANK YOU photos and details on how you can help. Please share these donation details with family and friends.

Again, we are helping people who are falling through the cracks with government and tribal assistance.

Everyone here has consented to having their photo taken with the caption

THANK YOU DAILY KOS and Native American Netroots !








Sherry aka lpggirl had commentary to go with some of her pics. I’ll blockquote her comment with each pic.

Lillian  Walking Eagle and grand daughter : Lillian’s son Cornell said to put the caption “These two old ladies nearly froze.”  they have an old faulty ummm lpg space heater? not sure what they’re called.  housing is constantly being called by them and housing merely replaces the thermocouple.  i thought i heard liep had funds for furnaces so i told lillian about it.  i told my mom about lillian’s situation, and she called the VP willie kindle.  he said he would do something for this gramma.  wks later nothing is done for them.

there are 3 pics for the one house in mm (marshmellow housing) in rosebud; the mom, the dad, and the daughter.  i have never heard a “WHOO-HOO! We have hot water!” before, when you hear the magical sound of the water heater firing up.  and “Does this mean we don’t have to use this little electric heater?” sitting in the corner adjacent to the non-working wood stove (not pictured).  Giant hugs to you all from this family – all of them.





More from Sherry aka lpggirl:

the story behind the dangling lite fixture.  a few years ago when i first delivered lpg to faye blk bear out in corn creek, she was completely out of lpg so i had to do a leak check.  this requires that i go into the house.  that’s when i noticed the broken lite fixture.  when i got back to sf i told my mom of this. she called amos, the director of the housing authority, and the council rep for that community at that time.  i called the housing maintenance department and told them.  i also told an acquaintance, jodi (wife of rodney bordeaux), about this gramma’s broken lite fixture.  they all said they would do something.  years later still nothing has been done about it.

Dangling Light Fixture

the houses that all look alike ranch style, split-level, apts, duplexes; they’re all built and maintained by the rosebud housing authority (HUD houses i guess).  i think most were built in the 60’s.  i’ve noticed that most houses have elec cook stoves, and lpg water heaters and furnaces. some have working wood stoves.  i think a lot of people are using liep to pay for their electricity so when they run out of lpg they use a wood stove, if they have one, or heat the house with the elec. cooking stove and elec. heaters.


earlier this week when it was like 40 below.  i got “brain-freeze” a few times.  the only skin i had exposed was a strip right across my eyes (i forgot my shades that day, but definitely remembered them the next day!).  that was just a tad bit too cold that day.  first time i got brain freeze without eating or drinking anything cold.

it’s been snowing here all day long. [February 6, 2011]  the calm before the storm.  as soon as the winds pick up, here we go – instant ground blizzard. the weather says there’s two storms coming this week.  one tomorrow and one later in the week.

~only a couple more months left of this lovely weather~

sherry

_________________________________________________________

PLEASE Share with family and friends and ask them to share.

_________________________________________________________

My earlier diaries explain in more detail why and how we are helping:

Here we go again: Blizzard hits Dakotas

Band-Aid for the Lakotas

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

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.

    Note that South Dakota boasts of a 4.5% unemployment rate and ranks #2 in the Nation.
  • 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.

We have bypassed the middlemen; the 501c3s, the red-taped strangled Tribal Councils and the pathetic Federal LIHEAP program which runs out three weeks into winter.

We’ve set up relationships with the propane companies that service Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservation. The kind operators/owners know who needs help and can’t get it from their Tribal, State or Federal government.

Help buy propane for Lakota families in South Dakota:

The *fastest* way to help is to pick up the phone and call with your credit card information. A family will get propane delivered either the same day or the next day.


Telephone:

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2

11 AM – 6 PM MST EVERY DAY

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

If you’d like to mail a check:

[make check payable to: St. Francis Energy Co.]

Attn: Sherry or Patsy

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

NOT tax deductible

http://sfec.yolasite.com/

 

You can also call Sherry’s cell phone: 605.208.8888 if the above line is busy.

Telephone:

The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday only 8-4:30pm MST

Ask for Crystal to contribute to someone from Autumn’s list. $120 minimum delivery. This company serves Pine Ridge Reservation.

NOT tax deductible

If you live out of the country please use our PayPal link at Native American Netroots, the donate button is in the upper right of the page. This process takes about a week for the funds to hit the reservations so telephoning the propane companies directly is the fastest way to help.

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

 

Ziebach County, South Dakota: America’s Poorest County



NOMAAN MERCHANT 02/13/11 03:48 PM

ZIEBACH COUNTY, S.D. – In the barren grasslands of Ziebach County, there’s almost nothing harder to find in winter than a job. This is America’s poorest county, where more than 60 percent of people live at or below the poverty line.

At a time when the weak economy is squeezing communities across the nation, recently released census figures show that nowhere are the numbers as bad as here – a county with 2,500 residents, most of them Cheyenne River Sioux Indians living on a reservation.

In the coldest months of the year, when seasonal construction work disappears and the South Dakota prairie freezes, unemployment among the Sioux can hit 90 percent.

More here.

Reservations-South-Dakota

More Photos from Rosebud Rez + Propane Drive Update

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy has sent us more photos of our Rosebud rezidents saying

*THANK YOU*

to you all for helping them get through another harsh winter in South Dakota.

One wonderful couple donated $1000 two weeks ago! From my last diary I sent a $700 check collected from our Native American Netroots PayPal link. Many people called St. Francis Energy directly with their credit cards. Sherry said the response has been overwhelming and it appears you are all sharing this outside of Dkos.

Special grand kudos go to Lineatus and her generous Dawn Chorus Birders who raised over $700 for Rosebud. There is currently $1000 in the NAN PayPal account which includes the Dawn Chorus.  I’ll be mailing a very large check STAT.



More photos below and details for you to share so your friends and family can donate also.

Many thanks for the notes of encouragement attached with your donations.

Again, we are helping people who are falling through the cracks with government and tribal assistance.

Everyone here has consented to having their photo taken with the caption THANK YOU DAILY KOS !



Note make shift cardboard skirting around trailer.



Fire truck dealing with a furnace fire

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And here’s our intrepid Sherry Cornelius from St. Francis Energy aka lpggirl delivering propane in sub-freezing temperatures.

She knows who needs help.

(Um… no gloves???  I’m such a wimp.)

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PLEASE Share with family and friends and ask them to share.

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My earlier diaries explain in more detail why and how we are helping:

Here we go again: Blizzard hits Dakotas

Band-Aid for the Lakotas

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

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.

    Note that South Dakota boasts of a 4.5% unemployment rate and ranks #2 in the Nation.
  • 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.

We have bypassed the middlemen; the 501c3s, the red-taped strangled Tribal Councils and the pathetic Federal LIHEAP program which runs out three weeks into winter.

We’ve set up relationships with the propane companies that service Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservation. The kind operators/owners know who needs help and can’t get it from their Tribal, State or Federal government.

If you live out of the country please use our PayPal link at Native American Netroots, the donate button is in the upper right of the page.

Help buy propane for Lakota families in South Dakota:


Telephone:

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2

11 AM – 6 PM MST

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

If you’d like to mail a check:

Attn: Sherry Cornelius

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

[make check payable to: St. Francis Energy Co.]

NOT tax deductible

http://sfec.yolasite.com/

 

You can also call Sherry’s cell phone: 605.208.8888

Telephone:

The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday 8-5pm MST

Ask for Crystal to contribute to someone from Autumn’s list. $120 minimum delivery. This company serves Pine Ridge Reservation.

NOT tax deductible

THANK YOU from Rosebud Rez: Photos of your propane donations

I requested of Sherry Cornelius to kindly ask to take photos of the recipients of your donations for propane for Rosebud reservation over the last week. Sherry delivers propane to a very large block of residents on Rosebud reservation in South Dakota. She is our sorta new Kossack aka lpggirl of St. Francis Energy.

Some folk were happy to be photographed and this diary is their thank you to YOU for helping them get through another terrible winter in South Dakota since Federal LIHEAP funding ran out in early December.

Sherry says that the common incredulous comment is, “Who is doing this?? Tell them thank you!

Sherry tells them about us, YOU, Daily Kos and the community that we are.

11 more photos below and details on how you can contribute to this on going effort.

From Sherry and her trusty mobile phone:

here are some pics of the people/households that have been helped due to you and your friends generosity.  i guess some people are shyer than others (many ducked out from the camera), but i did get a pic of at least 1 of the family.

my mom is sending out the lpg receipts/tickets.  the pictures are named by the lpg ticket number rather than family name.  there are a few families that have been helped, that i didn’t get pictures of.  helped before the picture idea came about.

Sherry, who is Creek/Seminole, took her July vacation in Las Vegas during NN10 just to meet us. We had a dinner for her and her family.

———————————————–

The blizzard aftermath:

And THANK YOUs from all these families, all these folks are smiling at YOU. These are households that Sherry was aware of who were about to run out of propane and unable to order more:

Notice the little face peeking out of the door below:

From Sherry:


one of the houses dkos bought lpg for.  if you zoom in you can see a little girl peeking out of the front door.  this house has alot of ppl living in it, but one person was willing to have their pic taken.  

My earlier diaries explain in more detail why and how we are helping:

Here we go again: Blizzard hits Dakotas

Band-Aid for the Lakotas

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

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.

We have bypassed the middlemen, the 501c3s, the red-taped strangled Tribal Councils and the pathetic Federal LIHEAP program which runs out too quickly.

We’ve set up relationships with the propane companies that service Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservation. The kind operators/owners know who needs help and can’t get it from their Tribal, State or Federal government.

Last Monday I received donations from Australia and Germany at our PayPal link at Native American Netroots, the donate button is in the upper right of the page.

Help buy propane for Lakota families in South Dakota:


Telephone:

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2

11 AM – 6 PM MST

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

If you’d like to mail a check:

Attn: Sherry Cornelius

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

[make check payable to: St. Francis Energy Co.]

NOT tax deductible

http://sfec.yolasite.com/

 

You can also call Sherry’s cell phone: 605.208.8888

Telephone:

The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday 8-5pm MST

Ask for Crystal to contribute to someone from Autumn’s list. $120 minimum delivery. This company serves Pine Ridge Reservation.

NOT tax deductible

Band-Aid for the Lakotas: But a directly applied one

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

I’d like to give you small update on our recent request for propane help.

This past Friday I posted a familiar diary to many of you asking you to call the propane companies directly and help pay for propane for Lakota families on Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations.

You made more than $3000 in donations over a 24 hr. period. This is excellent because we have bypassed the middlemen, the 501c3s, the red-taped strangled Tribal Councils and the pathetic Federal LIHEAP program.

We’ve set up relationships with the propane companies that service Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservation. The kind operators/owners know who needs help and can’t get it from their Tribal, State or Federal government. No one should freeze to death in the richest country in the world.

Details below on how you can help:

Every time I post one of these diaries I get emails with the same suggestions. I get them in the comments also. Because thinking people don’t want to keep patching up holes in the dam with money. I don’t either.

They want a permanent solution, so do I. They want to be proactive, so do I.  Yes, I agree, there will be winter every year. The Lakota have been freezing every winter since the U.S. ordered their extermination in the 1800’s. When the U.S. couldn’t kill them all they put them into POW camps now called reservations where they had been promised compensation but never received it and at the same time starved and their culture nearly destroyed by the U.S. government.

What these suggesters don’t know is how difficult it is to fix a century’s old problem.

But it is what it is… a complicated situation.

I’ll outline the obstacles below  

Obstacles:

Many reservations are considered sovereign governments and are treated differently by the Federal government; i.e. assistance is tied up with additional red tape and help is delayed further with the addition of the Tribal government’s red tape. This should be a whole diary.

The sub-standard housing needs to be fixed. Again, this is a political issue. Many folk have been trying to champion this cause for decades. It’s not happening quickly. Eight years of republican rule have devastated our reservations and seriously delayed any improvement. The crappy government housing structures built so long ago are infested with black mold. Housing services remedies this with a spray on solution called Killz that is toxic to humans also but the mold grows back a few weeks later. The solution is to tear down the structure and start over. The government housing that was built way back when was inadequate to say the least. This inadequate housing as it deteriorates cannot hold in the heat. This is NOT a small issue and the percentage of homes is estimated to be one third by Rosebud resident and long time Indian leader and organizer Carter Camp.

State and Federal government policies need to be changed. People have and are working on this but they are swimming upstream. They’ve been swimming upstream for decades. Our tribes have been left behind for decades. Eight years of republican rule have devastated our reservations further. The unemployment rate in Pine Ridge and Rosebud have hung around 80% for decades, that’s not an easy thing to fix. The chronic problem on our reservations is a result of broken treaties and government neglect of our tribes.

Number 1: Honor the Treaties, that’s the first step.

Band-Aid:

There is a reason we are calling the propane companies directly, it is to save lives. Because many oppressed Lakota can’t get help from the Federal or Tribal governments and risk freezing to death. They are being strangled by red tape.

The link above explains the discrepancies between the payments to tribal members vs. non-members who get much more money from the state-run LIHEAP program.

This is why we do this. We cut out the middle men 501c3s that use our money for overhead and I think give false reports about their help to the tribes. We cut out the Tribal councils.

Help buy propane for Lakota families in South Dakota:


Telephone:

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2

11 AM – 6 PM MST

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

If you’d like to mail a check:

Attn: Sherry Cornelius

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

[make check payable to: St. Francis Energy Co.]

NOT tax deductible

http://sfec.yolasite.com/

 

You can also call Sherry’s cell phone: 605.208.8888

Sherry said she will start delivery just as soon as conditions allow her to drive around.

Telephone:

The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday 8-5pm MST

Ask for Crystal to contribute to someone from Autumn’s list. $120 minimum delivery that lasts about one week. This company serves Pine Ridge Reservation.

NOT tax deductible

Sherry Cornelius reports that the main roads were plowed on Sunday but the drive ways have not. She still risks getting stuck until the drive ways are cleared. I hope she is out delivering today.

Sherry also told me that her company, St. Francis Energy has not processed a NAHA heating voucher since 2008. NAHA continues to collect heating assistance funds on behalf of South Dakota tribes today.

This is why we are asking you to give directly to the propane companies.

Here we go again: Blizzard hits Dakotas

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

So the big news is that a blizzard has hit the Dakotas and a huge 100 car pile up occurred near Fargo.

What doesn’t get reported, as usual are the Lakotas who live in dismal conditions to begin with and struggle every day to survive. It is especially hard during the winter. Now there is a white out and our kossack lpggirl, Sherry Cornelius cannot deliver propane until the blizzard lets up.

I just spoke with Sherry on the phone and she said her business St. Francis Energy is open until 6PM Mountain to take calls for donations but that we could also call her cell phone.

She said there are at least 5 families she knows of that need propane desperately but that the need is always present as time goes on. There is always someone who needs help since gov. funding runs out too soon.

Please, if you can, take the time to call and donate money towards a tank of propane for a Lakota family.  Sherry will deliver the donated propane just as soon as road conditions are safe.

Details below:

Help buy propane for Lakota families in South Dakota:


Telephone:

Sherry Cornelius of St. Francis Energy Co.

at  6 0 5 – 7 4 7 – 2 5 4 2

11 AM – 6 PM MST

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

If you’d like to mail a check:

Attn: Sherry Cornelius

St. Francis Energy Co. / Valandra’s II

P.O. Box 140

St. Francis, South Dakota 57572

[make check payable to: St. Francis Energy Co.]

http://sfec.yolasite.com/

 

You can also call Sherry’s cell phone: 605.208.8888

Sherry said she will start delivery just as soon as conditions allow her to drive around.

Telephone:

The Lakota Plains Propane Company

at  6 0 5 – 8 6 7 – 5 1 9 9

Monday- Friday 8-5pm MST

Ask for Crystal to contribute to someone from Autumn’s list. $120 minimum delivery that lasts about one week. This company serves Pine Ridge Reservation.

Another way you can help:  The LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Home Assistance) Tribal programs ran out of winter funding in early December. You will need to write a check because of no online presence for any tribe.

There is a very long national list of LIHEAP Tribal Grantees here.  You might consider a tribe in your own state. Here is South Dakota and North Dakota.

I’m focusing on the three below because we have Kossacks and their relatives there.

Ms. Eileen Shot

LIHEAP Coordinator

Rosebud Sioux Tribe

P.O. Box 430

Rosebud, South Dakota  57570

Denise Red Owl

Director

Oglala Sioux Tribe (Pine Ridge)

P.O. Box 1051

Pine Ridge, South Dakota  57770

Ms. Irma Walking Elk

LIHEAP Coordinator

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

P.O. Box D

Fort Yates, North Dakota  58538



Update: [4:36 PM Pacific]

Comment below from cacamp who has lived on Rosebud:

[emphasis mine]

it’s pretty rough out here

the state has closed the interstates because the wind is so bad that even when it quits snowing a ground blizzard will continue. The temperature has dropped from yesterdays balmy 30* down to the present 0* and it’s still going down. Tomorrows high will be about 5* and the low will be -11 or worse.

I’m very worried about some of the people who have inadequate housing. That includes probably a third of the population on Rosebud. This next week is going to be hell for some families.

Just last week a friend of mine died from exposure. He drank a lot and probably caused his own death but he was homeless and didn’t deserve to die in the cold outdoors. And many of our homeless are not drinkers they’re just families who can’t find or afford housing.

I thank all of you kind kossacks who are helping out right now. I can promise you all that every dime will go towards some very needy folks. Sherry, who is providing the propane on Rosebud is an honest hardworking young lady who does much for our community. She is in direct contact with those in need and can find and help the most dire cases.

by cacamp on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 04:21:10 PM PST

Growing Up Indian

red_black_rug_design2
American-Indian-Heritage-Month

photo credit: Aaron Huey

The Argus Leader has an important and informative series on what it’s like to grow up Indian in South Dakota, on or off the reservations. The decades of multi-generational trauma and resulting pervasive poverty have taken their toll on our tribes whether they are fighting to maintain their traditional cultures or if they are trying to survive being assimilated into white man’s society.

ACTION: You can help by reading and using the multi-media parts of the series to understand a little of what it’s like to be young and trying to survive against all odds. Your knowledge can help us because we need your influence with policy makers and other leaders/organizers in your state.  

Excerpts and all linkage below:

Photobucket

The inception of the series started in 2008 when reporter Steve Young [Huron Nation] was working on stories about suicide on South Dakota’s Indian Reservations. It was pointed out to him that most white Americans don’t know about the difficult life on our reservations. This series introduces you to several young individuals and their stories.

The youth interviews are often painful to watch but there are also glimmers of hope, hope that maybe something fortunate will happen in these young lives that will help them survive to find a good life and grow old with dignity.

Start here for an overview of the articles with links to video and photographs.

Below are excerpts from the currently published stories:


Little Neleigh

Neleigh Driving Hawk is 3 years old and full of the innocence and beauty of childhood. She likes to ride her tiny bicycle on the ragged streets of the Lower Brule Reservation. But all around her are examples of what her life may one day be.

More…

Surviving birth

In many ways, Neleigh is lucky. She’s lived three years in a world where children die in birth or in the first few weeks of life at rates well beyond the rest of South Dakota. More…

The early years

The long-term effects of women drinking and taking drugs while pregnant evident across Indian Country, in the faces and the scars of small children starting life with damaged brains and bodies.

More…


Pre-teen guidance

Children in the critical pre-teen stage begin to look around them and understand their world. For Indian children that may be a life void of adults who can show them the right way to live.

More…

The thoughts of suicide

Physical maturity brings a new reality for Indian children in South Dakota. It too often is a period confronting sexual assault, gangs and violence that contribute to the near epidemic rates of suicide.

More…

Teens and violence

The gang culture – initiation, manipulation, drugs, assault and even murder – finds fertile grounds in a place where the family structure is ripped apart and hopelessness reigns. And it’s become a way of life in many parts of Indian Country.

More…


The fleeting promise of education

Only about one in four Indian students graduate high school in South Dakota. But it’s that possibility of graduation and what may possibly lie ahead that drives the ambitious young people on the reservations.

More…

Autumn and the precious few

For all the despair and impossible odds, there is hope. There are successes. Autumn White Eyes graduated from high school and drove away from the Pine Ridge Reservation this fall headed for a future that seems almost unimaginable given what she’s experienced growing up.

More…


Photographer: Devin Wagner

The series runs a few more days so check the Argus for more.

Please share this series with your friends and family.

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My past related diaries:

Pine Ridge: American Prisoner of War Camp #334

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing re: Youth Suicide

Hope and Opportunity on Pine Ridge Rez

Revealing Pine Ridge Rez Demographic Information

Please Continue Your Support of South Dakota Reservations  

American Indian Candidates

( – promoted by navajo)

Congress passed legislation in 1924 which gave all American Indians citizenship. While citizenship should imply the right to vote, the states often imposed barriers to allowing Indians to vote. In some instances they ignored-or simply pled ignorance of-the fact that Indians were citizens.

A combination of factors-restricting voter registration, gerrymandering, discouraging Indians from voting (including intimidation)-make it difficult for Indians to get elected to public office. At the present time there are Indian running in several states. The diary below mentions a few of them.  

Arizona:

Freshman lawmaker Chris Deschene (Navajo) has won the Democratic nomination for the office. In the general election Dechene will face Republican Ken Bennett who assumed the position when Jan Brewer was elevated to governor.

Oklahoma:

At the present time, Oklahoma is the only state where there are more Republican Indians serving in the legislature than Democrats.  There are twelve Republicans in the House and seven Democrats.  There are three Democrats in the Senate. This year there are a number of Democratic Indian candidates supported by INDN’s List running for office in Oklahoma.

Jeff Jones (Osage) is running for District Attorney against a right wing State House member. None of Oklahoma’s 27 District Attorneys at the present time are tribal members. Jones was a member of the Teamsters Union. He got his law degree by going to law school at night.

Steve Burrage (Choctaw) was appointed State Auditor and Inspector in July 2008 and is now running for election. In accepting the appointment, he said, “I want the State Auditor’s Office to be the best auditing firm in Oklahoma.” He immediately set work to accomplish this benchmark. Steve has conducted audits that have prosecuted felons and saved the state of Oklahoma hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Maya Torralba (Kiowa) is challenging an incumbent Republican in District 56. A champion of progressive causes, she completed the 2007 INDN Campaign Camp.

Ken Luttrell (Cherokee) represents one of the most Republican districts in Oklahoma currently held by a Democrat. Republicans are committed to defeating him. Luttrell is a former member of the Communications Workers of America Union and serves on the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators.

Cory Williams (Cherokee) was elected to the state legislature (District 34) by 63 votes in 2008. He is currently running for reelection in one of the toughest State House races in Oklahoma. Republicans  used smear tactics and dirty tricks to try to beat him two years ago in one of the nastiest races in Oklahoma and they are will stop at nothing to try to defeat this progressive champion in November.

Nevada:

In 2000, John Oceguera was elected to the Nevada State Legislature as Assemblyman for District 16 in Southeast Las Vegas. The voters in District 16 have returned John to office every two years since that time. At the present time, John Oceguera is on track to become the next speaker of the house. He is being challenged by a republican and needs our support. He has been endorsed by INDN’s list.

South Dakota:

The top law enforcement person in the state is the Attorney General, an elective position. At the present time an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Ron Volesky, is running for this office.