Muhammad Ali has walked on.

It’s a sad day. Growing up, Muhammad Ali was one of my first windows into thinking outside the white, Catholic box I had been stuffed in, and was being raised in. I owe him a great deal of thanks.

Statement from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on the Passing of Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d “handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.”

But what made The Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him – the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston. I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was – still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

“I am America,” he once declared. “I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age – not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right. A man who fought for us. He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved. But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes – maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves. Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world. We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest. We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.

Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.

The Fight Against Blue Lives Matter.

Getty Images.

Getty Images.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed the country’s first “Blue Lives Matter” law last week, a piece of legislation that makes a civilian attack on a veteran, police officer, emergency responder, or firefighter a possible hate crime. Louisianans convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes against officers will be slapped with a $500 fine and possibly an additional sentence of up to six months.

Fusion has a very good look at why this legislation was unnecessary, and how it can be used to further crush those already deeply marginalized and poor. As most people know, across uStates, there’s an automatic add on to any interaction with a cop. Punch someone, it’s assault. Punch a cop, it’s assault of a police officer, and cops do love taking advantage of that little add on. Everything is worse if it’s directed towards a cop, it’s always been that way, so why this legislation? How would Ferguson have played out under such legislation? I think maybe there wouldn’t have been a Ferguson at all with such a law in place. This simply adds yet more weight on the side of authoritarianism, more protections for any tale a cop might spin.

Julie Baxter Payer, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, told Fusion in an email that the governor does not view this law as targeting communities of color. In the statement about the bill, Governor Edwards said “coming from a family of law enforcement officers, I have great respect for the work that they do and the risks they take to ensure our safety.”

Anneke Dunbar-Gronke, part of BYP’s leadership in New Orleans, told me the law is redundant and that she sees “no existing precedent that can trust this [law] will be used in a way that will protect citizens,” adding “when it’s a police officer’s word against civilians we see how that’s played out specifically when it’s a black person or a person from a community of color.”

“The danger in that redundancy is that it further criminalizes black people, poor people, and those with the least access,” she said.

The vague language of the law, Moore-O’Neal said, also leaves communities more susceptible to legal trouble. “The purpose of these sorts of legislation is not public safety for the public but safety for the elite,” she said. “The purpose of this is to quell social unrest.” Moore-O’Neal, who is black, explained that the law can be easily interpreted to quell free speech.

“Who is to say if I am protesting or having direct action against cops?” she said. “Who is to say that isn’t a hate crime?” In late May, BYP helped organize the “National Day of Action to End State Violence Against All Black Women and Girls,” with actions that took place in at least 21 cities across the country.

Pork-dipped Bullets and Armed Idiots.

Texas militia member -- (AJPlus screen grab)

Texas militia member — (AJPlus screen grab)

In a video posted to Twitter by AJPlus, weekend warriors in Texas explain that they will be using bullets dipped in pigs blood or smeared with bacon’ grease when the time comes to stop the “Arab uprising” they believe will overrun their state.

In the video, one unidentified militia member explains the importance of using pork-dipped bullets.

“A lot of us here are using either pig’s blood or bacon grease on our bullets, ” he explains, adding, “So that when you shoot a Muslim they go straight to hell. That’s what they believe in their religion.”

Added another militia member, “Don’t f*ck with white people,” before showing off his shooting prowess with a shotgun.

I don’t think I can say anything remotely reasonable about these people, so I’ll just go with Fuck. Scary.

Via AJPlus and Raw Story.

The religion of fundamental social justice…

Student activists during a nationwide "Hands up, walk out" protest at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo: Reuters/Adrees Latif.

Student activists during a nationwide “Hands up, walk out” protest at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Photo: Reuters/Adrees Latif.

Another day, another screed. This one certainly gave me a good laugh, as it seems I now have a religion. I guess we SJWs are upsetting everyone these days. Tsk. Be sure to put your melodrama meters away, critical levels here, of the “I’m a libertarian, of course I’m right!” kind.

NEW YORK — There’s a new religion exploding on the campuses of American universities and colleges, says Thomas Cooley professor of ethical leadership at New York University, Jonathan Haidt. And if it isn’t stopped, it might just be better to shut them all down in the next 10 or 20 years.

The religion of fundamental social justice sweeping across college campuses is so alarming, intense, and dripping with such extreme liberal fundamentalism, says Haidt, it has created an existential crisis for American academia while punishing heretics with public shame.

“There is an extremely intense, fundamental social justice religion that’s taking over, not all students, but a very strong [space] of it, at all our colleges and universities. They are prosecuting blasphemy and this is where we are,” Haidt warned an audience about the religion at a lecture billed “The American University’s New Assault on Free Speech,” organized by the Manhattan Institute in New York City this week.

[…]

When social issues like racism or sexism are treated as sacred, he says, it becomes difficult to have honest conversations about them.

“So if that’s the basic psychology and as religion itself has been retreating and kids are raised in a more secular environment, then what takes the place of that? There are lots of sacred spaces. Fighting racism, a very, very good thing to do, but when you come to sacred principles, sacred, this means no tradeoffs,” Haidt said.

“There is no nuance, you cannot trade off any other goods with it. So if you organize around fighting racism, fighting homophobia, fighting sexism, again all good things, but when they become sacred, when they become essentially objects of worship, fundamentalist religion, then when someone comes to class, someone comes to your campus, and they say the rape culture is exaggerated, they have committed blasphemy,” he said.

This religion of fundamental social justice is so frightening, even liberals are worried about it. But they aren’t speaking up, says Haidt, who describes himself as a libertarian.

“The great majority of people are really alarmed by what’s happening. There is a small group on campus of illiberal people. The illiberal left against the liberal left. The liberal left is uncomfortable but has so far been silent,” Haidt said. It is this illiberalism on campus that has given rise to groups such as Black Lives Matter where “nobody can say no to them.”

[…]

Haidt, however, doesn’t think life will continue down this road for American academia pointing to a growing counterculture movement involving projects such as the Heterodox Academy. […] So we are doing all these projects to use market forces to swamp the illiberals and basically take advantage of people’s disgust with the current situation.”

The two page screed is here.

San Francisco 49ers Call for a Repeal of N.C.’s Anti-LGBT Law

Jed York, The CEO of the 49ers called HB 2 "bad for our employees, bad for our fans, and bad for business."

Jed York, The CEO of the 49ers called HB 2 “bad for our employees, bad for our fans, and bad for business.”

Jed York, the CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, is calling for a repeal of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2.

The National Football League hosted meetings in Charlotte, N.C., this week. Chris Sgro, the executive direcctor of Equality N.C. and the only openly LGBT person in the North Carolina legislature, says it was during this time that York chose to meet with LGBT advocates and transgender North Carolinians to learn about the impact of the anti-LGBT law. Sgro announced that the 49ers were contributing a gift of $75,000 to the Equality North Carolina Foundation to support the work of the organization.

In a statement published Tuesday, York said the San Francisco 49ers are “deeply concerned” about HB 2 because the team believes that “discriminatory laws” are “bad for our employees, bad for our fans, and bad for business.”

[…]

HB 2 will “make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country,” said York, the CEO of the 49ers. York echoed a fear many North Carolinians have expressed, which is that HB 2 has and will continue to create loss in business for the state. The law will “diminish the state’s draw as a destination for sporting events, tourism and conventions, and new business activity,” the CEO said. York added that his team “prides” itself on inclusivity and will “strongly urge” Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina legislature to repeal HB 2.

Perhaps the threat of no more new NC sports stars will get through to McCrory. Nothing else has worked so far. I am not remotely into sports, but a big Yay! for Jed York and the 49ers.

Full Story Here.

Offended by the Redskins?: An Indian Country Twitter Poll.

vincent_schilling1_0

As some of you know, The Washington Post recently ran a story on Thursday about a poll of 504 people which indicated that 90% of Native Americans are not offended by the Washington Redskins name.

Shortly after the article, I tweeted the hashtag #IAmNativeIWasNotAsked, which trended on Thursday night.

[…]

It’s true that some Native people say they are not offended by the Redskins name, but in my experience, they are rare. I have also been told on numerous occasions where I was asked to appear on television, online or on national radio to discuss the Redskins, the organizers and producers had an extremely difficult time finding a Native person who approved of the Redskins name.

The Washington Post says they spoke to a random selection of 504 Native American people. In a country with 566 federally recognized reservations (not including the Pamunkey up for Federal and the multitude of State or unrecognized tribes) this roughly equates to less than one person per federally recognized tribe.

According to the Post’s numbers, available here interestingly, the percentages reflected in 2016 are identical to the poll numbers from the National Annenberg Election Survey from 2004.

A Twitter Poll

I know this is not “scientific,” or acceptable standards for a national poll, but a simple Twitter poll I created Thursday evening at 11:59 pm est generated 200 responses in just a few hours. As of Friday afternoon, 83% of those people say they are offended by the Redskins name.

Full Article Here. Vincent Schilling talks about this specific issue in his ‘No I Won’t Just Move On’ Hashtag: Why I Made It, We Need It Column.

21.

Chester A. Arthur, 20th president of the United States, viewed cultural diversity as a threat to the country.

Chester A. Arthur, 20th president of the United States, viewed cultural diversity as a threat to the country.

Chester A. Arthur viewed cultural diversity as a threat to America.

The 20th president of the United States, Arthur took office in September 1881, after the assassination of James Garfield. He inherited a country still wrangling over civil rights for African Americans, and bristling with anti-immigration sentiment.

The animosity was particularly pronounced in the West, where large populations of immigrants and Native Americans lived, said Tom Sutton, a professor of political science at Baldwin Wallace University and author of a chapter about Arthur in the 2016 bookThe Presidents and the Constitution.

“The country was growing more diverse, more industrialized, and out West, we were starting to get to the end of the development of the frontier,” Sutton said. “Arthur wanted consistency in population. He had this idea that everyone needed to be assimilated into American society, and those who couldn’t assimilate were excluded.”

[…]

The federal government used similar anti-immigration language to exclude Native Americans, who were not considered citizens. Indians were required to go through a naturalization process similar to that of immigrants in order to qualify for the same rights and protections as other citizens.

“Arthur wanted what he thought was best for Native Americans—this idea that they needed to be assimilated into American society,” Sutton said. “In terms of citizenship, we continued to treat them as foreign nations, so they had to go through a naturalization process.”

This applied even to Indians born in the United States who voluntarily separated themselves from their tribes.

In 1880, a Winnebago Indian born on a reservation in Nebraska tried to register to vote. In a case that reached the Supreme Court in 1885, John Elk claimed he surrendered his tribal allegiance and was therefore a U.S. citizen. His claims were denied, and the high court ruled that Indians were not considered citizens until after they had been “naturalized, or taxed, or recognized as a citizen either by the United States or by the state.”

Arthur, who had natural empathy for the plight of American Indians, did little to protect them from oppression. Instead, he viewed assimilation as the answer to what he called the “great permanent problem.”

Full Article Here.

WaPo’s new Redsk*ns survey: Faulty data and missing the point.

AP_207887703562-1024x693

CREDIT: Carolyn Kaster, AP

This morning I woke up to phone notifications. Blinking awake, I clicked over to twitter on my phone, and was greeted with the news: “New poll finds 9 in 10 Native Americans aren’t offended by Redskins name.” I sat up, let the phone fall in my lap, and said some choice words that I won’t print here.

The Washington Post has apparently devoted a lot of time and resources to conducting a “nationally representative” poll of “Native Americans” to find out whether or not they find the Redsk*ns name offensive. In their survey of 504 “Native Americans,” they found that 90% did not find the name offensive. They published a follow up  that gives the details on the survey and answers some FAQ.

Before I dive in, a note: This is not something I should have to do. For the last 7 years I’ve been writing this blog we’ve made huge gains in the way the public thinks about Native peoples and Native mascots. It’s been the hard, hard work of a huge community of activists and community members for decades, and I just don’t understand why WaPo felt the need to do this poll. More on this in a minute, but we’ve got psychological studies, tribal council votes, thousands of Native voices, and common decency and respect on our side, yet that was not enough. The Washington Post needed their OWN survey. The perspectives of Native peoples, who this effects directly, apparently aren’t enough.

So the poll. WaPo has generously provided (that’s not sarcasm) the actual questions, the breakdown by demographics for each, so feel free to explore. Look here.

This is where I want to focus my attention: 56 percent of this “nationally representative sample of Native Americans” was non-Native. I need you to understand this. 56% of the sample has no tribal affiliation.

Dr. Adrienne Keene’s Full Article Here.

A love letter to bigotry

Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Jim Webb (Flickr Creative Commons)

Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Jim Webb (Flickr Creative Commons)

Sen. Jim Webb scolds supporters of Harriet Tubman’s new home on the 20-dollar bill, because they’ve been disparaging President Andrew Jackson too much.

One would think we could celebrate the recognition that Harriet Tubman will be given on future $20 bills without demeaning former president Andrew Jackson as a “monster,” as a recent Huffington Post headline did. And summarizing his legendary tenure as being “known primarily for a brutal genocidal campaign against native Americans,” as reported in The Post, offers an indication of how far political correctness has invaded our educational system and skewed our national consciousness.

This dismissive characterization of one of our great presidents is not occurring in a vacuum. Any white person whose ancestral relations trace to the American South now risks being characterized as having roots based on bigotry and undeserved privilege. Meanwhile, race relations are at their worst point in decades.

Aaauugh. It’s too bloody early [here] for this ineffable twaddle. Race relations are at their worst point in decades? Yes, I’d say they are, but perhaps you should figure out just why that is so.

Far too many of our most important discussions are being debated emotionally, without full regard for historical facts. The myth of universal white privilege and universal disadvantage among racial minorities has become a mantra, even though white and minority cultures alike vary greatly in their ethnic and geographic origins, in their experiences in the United States and in their educational and financial well-being.

Into this uninformed debate come the libels of “Old Hickory.”

Old Hickory. Did you know that Jackson was known as Sharp Knife among many Indigenous peoples? Ever heard Indian Killer Jackson?

As president, Jackson ordered the removal of Indian tribes east of the Mississippi to lands west of the river. This approach, supported by a string of presidents, including Jefferson and John Quincy Adams, was a disaster, resulting in the Trail of Tears where thousands died. But was its motivation genocidal?

I can answer that. Yes. Yes, it was. Fuck, I can’t take any more right now. Need tea.

Op ed here. Raw Story has this also.

Much Ado Over…

Women on 20s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced on April 20 that Andrew Jackson will be replaced by Harriet Tubman on the $20 Federal Reserve Note.

Women on 20s
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced on April 20 that Andrew Jackson will be replaced by Harriet Tubman on the $20 Federal Reserve Note.

Indigenous people have an interest here, to say the least. Before I get to that, the mere fact that a woman might end up on a piece of paper is apparently cause for outrage. Add to that fact it will be a black woman, and oh my, there goes the internet again, all blowed up, and you see things like this:

Bigots

hey all I know is she stole property. Jackson gave Indians a new home. Tubman was a criminal.

Jackson gave NDNs a new home? There are times the stupid is utterly infuriating. I know that most people don’t know anything at all about Indigenous peoples in uStates, but this is beyond the pale. You’re on the ‘net, you know. Take five minutes out and fucking learn something. As for Tubman being a criminal? Point me to one past uStates president that hasn’t been one. Oh, but they were white, so it was okay. Ms. Tubman saved lives. Jackson was a murderer. A bit of a difference there. But for those preaching #whitegenocide, this heralds the beginning of the end. I would have preferred Chief Wilma Mankiller to be on the $20, but I’m very happy with the choice of Ms. Tubman, assuming this actually happens.

Women on 20s organized to get a woman on U.S. paper money to celebrate the centennial in 2020 of the 19th Amendment, which extended the right to vote to women. They picked Jackson as their target in furtherance of another goal in their mission statement: “Removal of symbols of hate, intolerance and inequality…”

I learned something at that point that was highly gratifying. I know Cherokees who put 20s in their wallet in a manner that avoids looking at Jackson’s face. I know Cherokees who identify as Republicans because Jackson was a Democrat and are highly offended at Democrats having annual “Jefferson-Jackson dinners.” What I did not know is that Indians generally despise Jackson almost as much as Cherokees do.

Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Bill John Baker, released a statement reacting to the decision to replace Jackson with Tubman:

Andrew Jackson defied a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and forced the removal of our Cherokee ancestors from homelands we’d occupied in the Southeast for millennia. His actions as president resulted in a genocide of Native Americans and the death of about a quarter of our people. It remains the darkest period in the Cherokee Nation’s history. Jackson’s legacy was never one to be celebrated, and his image on our currency is a constant reminder of his crimes against Natives…

The Cherokee Nation applauds the work… to replace his image with the image of Harriet Tubman, whose legacy represents values everyone can be proud of.

Harriet Tubman to Replace Indian Killer and Slave Dealer Andrew Jackson on $20 Bill.

Back to Jackson.

Courtesy Whitehouse.gov Andrew Jackson took office in 1829 with one goal set firmly in his mind: Indians must be moved “beyond the great river Mississippi.”

Courtesy Whitehouse.gov
Andrew Jackson took office in 1829 with one goal set firmly in his mind: Indians must be moved “beyond the great river Mississippi.”

[Read more…]

16.

The largest mass execution in American history occurred under Abraham Lincoln’s watch. On December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota warriors were publicly hanged after being convicted of war crimes, including needlessly killing civilians, murdering prisoners, defiling dead bodies and raping captured women and girls. The charges, originally brought against 393 Dakotas, stemmed from their attack of farmers and villagers in Minnesota earlier that year. Although all of the trials were shams and many of the convictions were unfair, it is significant to note that Lincoln reviewed the cases at all.

The largest mass execution in American history occurred under Abraham Lincoln’s watch. On December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota warriors were publicly hanged after being convicted of war crimes, including needlessly killing civilians, murdering prisoners, defiling dead bodies and raping captured women and girls. The charges, originally brought against 393 Dakotas, stemmed from their attack of farmers and villagers in Minnesota earlier that year. Although all of the trials were shams and many of the convictions were unfair, it is significant to note that Lincoln reviewed the cases at all.

Abraham Lincoln: First President to See Natives as Equals.

The largest mass execution in American history occurred under Abraham Lincoln’s watch.

On December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota warriors were publicly hanged after being convicted of war crimes, including needlessly killing civilians, murdering prisoners, defiling dead bodies and raping captured women and girls. The charges, originally brought against 393 Dakotas, stemmed from their attack of farmers and villagers in Minnesota earlier that year.

Known as the Dakota Uprising or the Sioux War, the one-month skirmish came after the Santee Sioux of Minnesota ceded their land to the U.S. and agreed to live on reservations. Then, as the federal government turned its attention to the Civil War, corrupt Indian agents failed to provide food and white settlers stole horses and timber. “The Dakota were literally starving,” said Paul Finkelman, a historian and professor of human rights law at the University of Saskatchewan. “They had no food and people who traded with them refused to give them money.”

[…]

Under Gov. Alexander Ramsey, Minnesota held military trials, convicting 323 Dakotas of war crimes and sentencing 303 to death. But the trials—even those for legitimate crimes—were corrupt and “completely absurd,” Finkelman said. “The Dakota didn’t speak English and they didn’t have lawyers,” he said. “The trials were totally unfair.”

Under U.S law, however, death sentences could not be carried out unless the President signed the orders. In an unprecedented move, Lincoln ordered a complete review of every charge, and ultimately confirmed only 39 of the sentences (one prisoner was granted a reprieve).

“Anxious to not act with so much clemency as to encourage another outbreak on the one hand, nor with so much severity as to be real cruelty on the other, I caused a careful examination of the records of trials to be made,” Lincoln wrote in a message to the Senate in December 1862. The Army executed 38 prisoners by public hanging on the day after Christmas.

[…]

The centerpiece of Lincoln’s presidency was the Civil War, but he also contended with Indian conflicts and genocide in the Midwest and Western frontiers, including the Sioux Uprising, the Sand Creek Massacre and wars with the Indians of the Southwest. Focused primarily on winning the war, Lincoln allowed army generals to dictate Indian policy.

In 1862, Gen. James Carleton began a war against Apaches and Navajos in New Mexico, where gold had been discovered on Indian land. Carleton told Col. Kit Carson that “All Indian men … are to be killed whenever and wherever you can find them.”

[…]

In his third annual message to Congress, in December 1863, Lincoln urged Indians to reject tribal culture and embrace civilization, which included principles of Christianity.

“Sound policy and our imperative duty to these wards of the government demand our anxious and constant attention to their material well-being, to their progress in the arts of civilization, and, above all, to that moral training which under the blessing of Divine Providence will confer upon them the elevated and sanctifying influences, the hopes and consolations, of the Christian faith,” he said.

Full Story Here.

Dwayne Doc Wanna at the Mankato Memorial, 150th anniversary, 2012. Jackson Forderer for MPR

Dwayne Doc Wanna at the Mankato Memorial, 150th anniversary, 2012. Jackson Forderer for MPR. http://www.mprnews.org/story/2012/12/26/social-issue/dakota-war-commemoration

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.

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.