Sorrow Like A River: Forcing the World to Listen

Valentine’s Day has become the official day for Native women to recognize and memorialize the missing and murdered women and girls whom they believe government leaders in the United States and Canada too often ignore. Jolene Yazzie

Valentine’s Day has become the official day for Native women to recognize and memorialize the missing and murdered women and girls whom they believe government leaders in the United States and Canada too often ignore.
© Jolene Yazzie. https://rewire.news/article/2016/04/05/sing-our-rivers-red-march-casts-light-intergenerational-crisis/

Sing Our Rivers Red’ March Casts New Light on Intergenerational Crisis is the first article about the ongoing effort to see justice done when it comes to Indigenous women being assaulted and murdered. There continues to be great difficulty in this, because very few people care when indigenous women go missing, or have been raped, or end up as a corpse, tossed away like a bit of trash.

Valentine’s Day has become the official day for Native women to recognize and memorialize the missing and murdered women and girls whom they believe government leaders in the United States and Canada too often ignore. They began holding an annual march in 1992, after an Indigenous woman was found murdered and dismembered in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood.

For Native communities, the border between the United States and Canada is nonexistent; many tribal communities, including Blackfeet, Ojibwe, and Mohawk, straddle the border and have members in both the United States and Canada. They are asking why only Canadian officials have begun exploring violence against Native women.

Canadian Indigenous women’s groups began calling attention to the high rates of missing and murdered women and girls in the 1990s, when Indigenous women and girls started going missing along the now-dubbed Highway of Tears, a 450-mile length of the Yellowhead Highway 16 in British Columbia. Between 1989 and 2006, nine women were found murdered or went missing along the highway, which passes through and near about a dozen small First Nations communities.

Many Indigenous people believe that the number is actually much higher: Indigenous people often resort to hitchhiking along the remote highway that has little public transportation.

Mary Annette Pember Supporters in the Sing Our Rivers Red march carry signs as they walk under the Veterans Bridge along the Red River in Fargo, North Dakota. The bridge underpass has been the site of several sexual assaults of indigenous women.

Mary Annette Pember
Supporters in the Sing Our Rivers Red march carry signs as they walk under the Veterans Bridge along the Red River in Fargo, North Dakota. The bridge underpass has been the site of several sexual assaults of indigenous women.

The second installment on this story is Sorrow Like a River: Forcing the World to Listen.

Most advocates for missing and murdered indigenous women are motivated by the loss of family member or friend as well as ongoing stories of loss in their communities.

When Makoons Miller Tanner works on her volunteer blog, she often thinks of her grandmother, who passed away in the 1940s, long before she was born. “She was in her 20s when she was killed. The authorities declared her death to be the result of her hitting her head on a rock after a seizure. This for a woman with no history of a seizure disorder,” Miller Tanner said. “She hit her head on that rock nearly 75 times.”

Her family still speaks of the hurt and anger over the injustice surrounding her grandmother’s death. After hearing the story repeated many times, she grew determined to contribute somehow to helping others find justice for their loved ones.

There’s no excuse for the lack of interest. There’s no excuse for the lack of investigation. There’s no excuse for the lack of advocates. This is a blight of shame on those who turn their backs, on those who avert their eyes.

Bernie Is Down With Pot, But Will Clinton Inhale?

Bernie Sanders's camp says he supports marijuana operations as an industry in Indian country. "But does Hillary Clinton?" asks Simon Moya-Smith.

Bernie Sanders’s camp says he supports marijuana operations as an industry in Indian country. “But does Hillary Clinton?” asks Simon Moya-Smith.

I was sitting at the center of my unstable dining room table recently, nibbling on a pot brownie and watching the ugliness of this presidential campaign unfold on mainstream news, when I wondered: Where do Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton stand on the subject of medicinal or recreational marijuana operations on reservations?

So, I reached out to the Clinton camp for comment, and thus far they haven’t responded. They’re currently dealing with the backlash to Bill’s comment about how “the Black Lives Matter movement protects criminals,” said a fiscally conservative Clinton supporter I met here in Denver last night. Hillary’s Native American Advisor, Charlie Galbraith, told me last week by phone that it would go to one of Hillary’s senior staff campaign wizards to comment on the budding weed business in Indian country. Galbraith said he’d try to get me a response as soon as possible, but in journalism time that was years ago.

But Bernie’s folks responded within a matter of hours:

“Bernie supports the right for states to opt for legalization of marijuana, and as a strong supporter of tribal sovereignty, that same stance would apply to tribal nations as well,” Nicole Willis [Confederated Tribes of Umatilla], Sanders’s National Tribal Outreach Director, wrote in message.

“Senator Sanders fully supports tribal sovereignty and economic development initiatives in Native America,” Tara Houska [Couchiching First Nation], Native American Advisor to Sanders, and a fellow rabble rouser in her own right, said in a statement. “Marijuana decriminalization has significantly and positively impacted several state economies; sovereign tribal nations with strong, efficient regulatory and enforcement systems deserve this same opportunity.”

And still no call from the Clinton folks.

Full column here.

Standing On Sacred Ground

Eight Cultures, One Fight.

Around the world, indigenous people stand up for their traditional sacred lands in defense of cultural survival, human rights and the environment.

Watch them stand against industrial mega-projects, consumer culture, resource extraction, competing religions, tourists and climate change.

[…]

As part of a four-part documentary series on indigenous struggles over sacred sites that was over seven years in the making, Standing on Sacred Ground, will be broadcast on PBS’s First Nations Experience channel (FNX) as well as other stations to include KQED through April and May, nationally on WorldChannel and the San Francisco Bay Area station KCSM beginning Sunday, April 17 through Friday, April 22 (Earth Day.) … The project airs over the course of four episodes and includes stories on the indigenous shamans of the Altai Republic of Russia, a northern California tribe, the Papua New Guinea people, the First Nations near the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, the Gamo Highland peoples of Ethiopia to the indigenous communities near the Andes of Peru, as well as Aboriginal Australians and Native Hawaiians.

Standing On Sacred Ground Home. Broadcast Schedule. ICTMN article.

Answering a Police Brutality Survey While Native

Simon Moya-Smith, ICTMN Culture Editor, above standing in Central Park in New York City, apocalyptically responds to a questionnaire about police brutality by the University of California-Berkeley.

Simon Moya-Smith, ICTMN Culture Editor, above standing in Central Park in New York City, apocalyptically responds to a questionnaire about police brutality by the University of California-Berkeley.

UC-Berkeley: Many years from now, as you bounce your grandchild on your knee, give us one image that captures the new era of policing – with respect to your community – that your work will have helped bring about.

Moya-Smith to his future grandchild: “You know, my dear, they never lifted the bounty on Native American heads. So the hunt continued into 2016. The authorities were killing all of us — yes, even Native American kids, and these bastards were still getting medals for killing an Indian or Indians [depending how many bullets he had left in his clip] 120 years after Wounded Knee. I once tried to re-build the Mayflower so as to send the rotten eggs back to Europe, but there were too many by then. And we couldn’t get the mainstream media to talk about the killing of our people either. Not black reporters. Not Latino reporters. Not gay reporters. Not Asian reporters. Or at least not nearly enough, my dear. The conversation was seriously binary on the matter of police brutality: Black and white. Black and white. Black and white. And then when we tried to talk about police killing Native Americans more than any other race, we’d get, “We’re not talking about that right now! You’ll have your chance, Indian!” But we never did, love.

Full Column Here.

Oceti Sakowin and Chante tin’sa kinanzi Po

The protest against the Dakota access pipeline continues.

 

The spirit riders at Standing Rock show support for keeping the Missouri River waters clean.

The spirit riders at Standing Rock show support for keeping the Missouri River waters clean.

In the coming weeks or maybe even days, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will issue a decision as to whether or not they will allow the Dakota Access Pipeline, also known as the Bakken Pipeline, to be constructed.

Until then, citizens and allies of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation) will continue to protest the pipeline, urging stakeholders to recognize the devastation that would ensue should the pipeline be built.

“The DAPL poses a threat to our people, cultural and historically significant areas,” said Paula Antonie, Chair of Shielding the People and a Rosebud Sioux tribal citizen. “We will stand by our Hunkpapa relatives in defending against any major environmental, public health and safety hazards within our treaty territory.”

The proposed pipeline would stretch for thousands miles across four states beginning in western North Dakota and ending in Indiana. It would cross the Missouri River mere feet away from the northern border of the Standing Rock Reservation, threatening to contaminate and destroy the waters.

Full Story Here.

Caucasians Logo, Yeah.

Sports journalist Bomani Jones speaks to ESPN (screen grab)

Sports journalist Bomani Jones speaks to ESPN (screen grab)

Sports journalist Bomani Jones got Twitter buzzing on Thursday after he appeared on ESPN wearing a shirt with the word “Caucasians” in the style of the Cleveland Indians logo.

“I don’t blame Bomani for being a disgrace, I blame @espn for allowing it,” a viewer named Jimmie wrote. “@bomani_jones who hurt you? I’m serious, I don’t want ppl in pain.” [Christ, I might die of irony poisoning here.]

[…]

“The reason they won’t get rid of Chief Wahoo — it’s completely indefensible — is because they can still sell stuff with it,” Jones added. “They can say they’re going to deemphasize it, but they’re not going to set money on fire.”

“If you’re quiet about the Indians and now you’ve got something to say about my shirt, I think it’s time for introspection.”

Full Story Here (Video at the link). ICTMN also covered this story. In a related story, Cleveland Indians Fan Apologizes to Native American For Red Face.

 
[Read more…]

CIPX and Going Platinum

Nakotah LaRance is a citizen of the Hopi Nation, six-time World Champion Hoop Dancer, and member of Dancing Earth Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations. He is equipped with a game console, earphones, a Japanese graphic novel, and a dance hoop, to signal that he is both a traditional dancer and a fan of popular culture; he resists easy categorization. Photograph by Will Wilson (Diné/Bilagáana), b. 1969

Nakotah LaRance is a citizen of the Hopi Nation, six-time World Champion Hoop Dancer, and member of Dancing Earth Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations. He is equipped with a game console, earphones, a Japanese graphic novel, and a dance hoop, to signal that he is both a traditional dancer and a fan of popular culture; he resists easy categorization.
Photograph by Will Wilson (Diné/Bilagáana), b. 1969

 

1992, from the Feather series “1992 represents a future denied us in 1492. A kind of reminder that indigenous people have a future that they can make their own.” Photograph by Larry McNeil (Tlingit/Nisga’a), b. 1955

1992, from the Feather series
“1992 represents a future denied us in 1492. A kind of reminder that indigenous people have a future that they can make their own.”
Photograph by Larry McNeil (Tlingit/Nisga’a), b. 1955

 

Will Wilson is a Diné/Bilagáana photographer who has gone platinum (the platinum photographic process) with CIPX, The Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange. Another photographer doing the same is Larry McNeil (Tlingit/Nisga’a). You can read more about these artists at http://nmai.si.edu/indelible/.

A major exhibition featuring contemporary photographs by Native American photographers Zig Jackson, Wendy Red Star, and Will Wilson in dialogue with photographs from Edward Sheriff Curtis’ renowned body of work The North American Indian will be at the Portland Art Museum through May 8th. There’s more about the exhibit and the artists here: http://portlandartmuseum.org/exhibitions/contemporary-native-photographers/

Chase Iron Eyes to run for congress

YES!

Chase Iron Eyes, courtesy of Last Real Indians.

Chase Iron Eyes, courtesy of Last Real Indians.

TRAHANT REPORTS – Chase Iron Eyes will officially announce his candidacy for Congress today at the North Dakota Democratic Convention.

“I’m running for Congress out of necessity,” he told Prairie Public Radio Thursday night. “I take a look around and I see that our government is broken, and I feel responsible to do my part to try and fix this on behalf of North Dakota.”

Iron Eyes is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a founder of Last Real Indians, and an attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project.

Iron Eyes, 38, is challenging U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican.

Cramer made news by opposing provisions in the Violence Against Women Act that recognized tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians. In a 2013 post published on Last Real Indians, Melissa Merrick, a Spirit Lake tribal advocate for victims, told about an encounter with the congressman. “Cramer began what turned out to be roughly 20 minutes verbal attacks directed at me and meant for all Native people,” she wrote “Cramer stated that indeed he did vote yes on the Violence Against Women Act, but he did not agree with the tribal provisions and that he was sure they would be overturned in the Supreme Court.”

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/04/03/chase-iron-eyes-runs-north-dakota-out-necessity-164009

Donations to Lakota People’s Law Project would be greatly appreciated.

Sanders hires Nicole Willis

Nicole Willis, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla member

Nicole Willis, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla member

On March 21, the day after coordinating Bernie Sanders’ meeting with tribal leaders in Washington state, Nicole Willis, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla member, received the news she had been hired by his campaign as the National Tribal Outreach Director. She is the Sanders campaign’s first and only full-time Native American staff member.

“Senator Sanders and his campaign are deeply committed to elevating the issues of Native American communities,” Arturo Carmona, the National Deputy Political Director told ICTMN. “The hiring of Nicole as our National Tribal Outreach Director is just one more way for the campaign to seriously engage not only politically but also by elevating the strongest policy agenda of any presidential candidate. Nicole was one of the strategists who drove the Obama model of tribal outreach and we are now taking that to a whole new level with this campaign. Bernie 2016 is setting a new standard for campaigning in Indian country.”

Full Story Here.

Sanders has at least recognized there are indigenous people in this country. A few more stories:

vancouver_native_leaders_becky_archibald_and_roben_white_with_sen._bernie_sanders_march_20_2016_-_courtesy_roben_white

American Indian leaders in Vancouver meet with Sen. Bernie Sanders at the first stop of the Democratic presidential candidate’s push towards Friday’s Democratic caucus. Pictured from left are, Becky Archibald, Roben White and Sanders. White is gifting Sanders with a Pendleton blanket, ledger art, and a necklace for his wife, Jane Sanders.

Bernie Sanders Expands Native Inclusion.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Willis and the Bernie Sanders Campaign: Bernie Sanders meeting with Yakama Nation tribal members

Photo courtesy of Nicole Willis and the Bernie Sanders Campaign:
Bernie Sanders meeting with Yakama Nation tribal members

Full Story Here.

 Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, center, and Tara Houska, left, during a Keep It In The Ground Act press conference in Washington, D.C. on November 4, 2015. On Tuesday, Houska was appointed to the position of Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/02/24/tara-houska-ojibwe-named-native-american-advisor-bernie-sanders-163531 Courtesy Jeff Malet, dailysignal.com

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, center, and Tara Houska, left, during a Keep It In The Ground Act press conference in Washington, D.C. on November 4, 2015. On Tuesday, Houska was appointed to the position of Courtesy Jeff Malet, dailysignal.com.

Tara Houska, Ojibwe, Named Native American Advisor to Bernie Sanders.

Cultural Astronomy

Fall - Version 2

Annette S. Lee, assistant professor of astronomy and physics at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, created the oil and mixed media “Fall Stars” to represent two major autumn constellations—Moose for the Ojibwe and Turtle for the Dakota/Lakota. (Courtesy Annette S. Lee)

Even though a sprinkling of snow fell just this Thursday in northern Minnesota, any arrows shot earlier at Wintermaker apparently have hastened his final departure from the sky. But the rise in the night of Curly Tail, the Great Panther of spring, could bring the threat of floods and dangerous, uncertain travel.

Long before Europeans brought over their Greek monikers for the constellations, Native cultures already had named their sky people. And those faraway relatives helped them to understand their world and how to survive in it.

For the Ojibwe, the constellations of Mooz (Moose), Biboonikeonini (Wintermaker), Mishi Bizhiw (the Great Panther) and Nanaboujou (the original man of Anishinaabe narratives), heralded the arrival of fall, winter, spring and summer.

More on star maps and skywatchers here.

Magic in North America

Screen-Shot-2016-03-07-at-11.31.23-AM-e1457368430989

 

A lot of people have been less than pleased with Rowling’s Magic in North America, many of them Indigenous people, as the stereotyping was much as feared, with all Indians dumped into the popular “Native American” category. It’s beyond frustrating when people start a sentence with “Native Americans”, because there’s no such pool of people. There are indigenous peoples, there are tribes, there are nations, all different from one another, with different histories, beliefs, and traditions. Magic in North America has been the focus of much ferocious discussion for some time now, along with plenty of the casual racism one might expect to see. Dr. Adrienne Keene has addressed many of the issues indigenous people have at Native Appropriations.

[Read more…]