Issue 21, July 20, 2016

    A Letter from the Publisher


    Shekóli. Native leaders and activists will relate to the trials of the Grand Portage Ojibwe Nation, and we will all revel in Grand Portage’s success. Theirs is a story oft-told in Indian country. Though the names and places and cast of characters change, the plot is the same. In the past few years, we’ve seen a new wrinkle to the tale: a happy ending.

    Today, Grand Portage has a reason to celebrate. In this week’s feature “The Thirteenth Island,” contributor Konnie LeMay reports on the many twists and turns involving the nation’s land—specifically one key piece that for decades had escaped tribal ownership. It’s Susie Island, the biggest island in an archipelago that stretches out into Lake Superior. Though Grand Portage had secured their rightful possession of the other 12 parts of the Susie Island chain, this 145-acre jewel proved elusive, thanks to errors in mapmaking and the flouting of treaty rights. Early this year, however, the Nature Conservancy, BIA and Grand Portage began the process of transferring ownership from the Nature Conservancy to the tribal nation.

    Grand Portage has been steadfast in its commitment to restore its lands. Thanks to its far-sighted policies, it can now boast of having 95 percent of its treaty-defined territory as owned by the Nation or its members. They have been able to reacquire lands lost or stolen, thanks to revenue from the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino. “It’s one of the bright spots as far as the revenue from the casino, to purchase a lot of tracts that were privately owned,” Chairman Norman Deschampe told ICTMN. “ It’s kind of ironic that you have to buy your own land.”

    Deschampe’s sentiment is right and true. Our histories are as rich in irony as our lands are in natural wealth. Yet the lengths to which Indians will go to retain their land should never be in doubt. The land is who we are, and we will be tied to it for as long as we continue to walk Mother Earth.

    NΛ ki wa,

    Ray Halbritter


    No Saloons At Bear Butte

    Ruth Hopkins offers a very specific reason for protecting the sacred Bear Butte peak in Sturgis, South Dakota:

    Last fall the popular Sturgis attraction the Full Throttle Saloon, known as “the world’s largest biker bar,” burned to the ground. The owner, Michael Ballard, is seeking to rebuild it at the Broken Spoke Campground, only a mile from Bear Butte.

    According to reports, the new site will comprise 600 acres, with 300 cabins and 450 RV sites. Sturgis typically has a population of around 6,600 residents, but during its Bike Rally every August, it often sees over 500,000 visitors.

    As you can imagine, it is difficult to protect the protocol of sacred ceremonies that we are responsible for protecting, and pray for a vision in peaceful isolation, while hundreds of thousands of noisy, raucous non-Natives are getting naked and drunk on your doorstep. Our ancestors did not have to contend with loud concerts, flashing lights, helicopters, revving engines, and gawking tourists. Nor should we.

    I hope that Mr. Ballard will reconsider his decision to move his new saloon so close to our holy church, simply out of basic decency and respect. I also remind him that there are possible legal violations if his plans move forward. Under the Native American Religious Freedom Act, our inherent right to partake in ceremonies without interruption, violation, and destruction, is protected. The construction of this mega-saloon next to Bear Butte will effectively end rituals and ceremonies at the sacred site as we know it.

    Bear Butte is crucial to our traditional way of life. It is where the Lakota received star knowledge and divine instruction. We cannot allow Bear Butte to be destroyed on our watch. 

    Why The Struggle Continues

    Leonard Peltier, still behind bars after 40 years, reflects on the past, present and future:

    Like so many Native children, I was ripped from my family at the age of 9 or so and taken away to get the “Indian” out of me at a boarding school. At that time, Native Peoples were not able to speak our own languages. Our men’s long hair, an important part of our spiritual life, was forcibly cut off. Our traditional names were replaced by new European-American names.

    Efforts to force assimilation continue. Not long ago, a Menominee girl was punished and banned from playing on the school’s basketball team because she taught a classmate how to say “hello” and “I love you” in her Native language. We hear stories all the time about athletes and graduates who face opposition to wearing their hair long or having a feather in their cap.

    For over 100 years some of our most important ceremonies could not be held. We could not sing our songs or dance to our drum. When my contemporaries and I were activists, there were no known sun dances. Any ceremony that took place had to be hidden for fear of reprisals. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom here. I see over the decades that in some important ways, life has improved.

    President Obama’s extraordinary efforts to forge a strong relationship with our Tribal Nations is good cause for a new sense of optimism that our sovereignty is more secure. We might begin to heal and start the long journey to move past the trauma of the last 500 years. But what will we do if the next administration rolls back those gains? 

    From Juneau, Support For Tribal Families

    Richard Peterson applauds the Alaska state government for not appealing a recent major court case:

    The decision in State of Alaska v. Central Council of Tlingit and Haiada Indian Tribes of Alaska affirms that Alaska tribal courts—some of which already handle custody, adoption, and paternity for tribal children—can also decide child support.

    Central Council was one of the first tribes in Alaska to provide child support services for families striving toward self-sufficiency. After the state refused to recognize tribal child support orders, Central Council was forced to file a lawsuit.

    The October 2011 Juneau Superior Court decision recognized the authority of Central Council to issue child support orders for children who are enrolled or eligible for enrollment with the Tribe. The recent Alaska Supreme Court decision affirming the lower court makes it possible for the state and Tribe to move forward in partnership on a sovereign-to-sovereign basis because all child support orders issued by states and tribes are entitled to being fully recognized and enforced. This is critical because sometimes only the state can provide garnishment services, such as for the state’s unemployment benefits or the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend.

    The decision not to appeal this case further illustrates that the “Unity Team” is steering away from treating tribes as adversaries. This gives the State of Alaska and Alaska tribes an opportunity to work together to ensure all Alaska children receive critical child support services. The state and tribal child support programs do more than collect support for families. They locate parents, establish paternity, and work with families to set child support orders.

    Whether you’re a mom, dad, or grandparent, state and tribal programs can now work together in a spirit of cooperation. 


    ICT News

    HUD Finalizes Tribal Consultation Policy


    The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has acknowledged tribal sovereignty by finalizing its tribal consultation policy and planning to establish a tribal advisory committee. HUD revised its tribal consultation policy after regional meetings with tribes and is now seeking comments through July 23 for a proposed Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee.

    The purpose of the new advisory committee is “to assist HUD to further develop and maintain its Indian housing programs.” Its structure calls for tribal recommendations on HUD programs and policies and for tribes to have an enhanced role in advising HUD’s tribal housing priorities.

    HUD noted that several other federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Treasury Department have such advisory committees.

    As noted in the Federal Register, the new committee will have up to eight tribal representatives and four HUD officials. One tribal representative will be voted chairman of the committee; all tribal delegates will serve terms of two years apiece. The committee will meet at least twice a year in person and also by teleconference as desired.

    “HUD respects tribal sovereignty and acknowledges the unique relationship between the Federal Government and tribes,” the agency stated. “HUD recognizes and commits to a government to government relationship with federally recognized tribes.” It also pledged to remove impediments to dealing directly with tribes.

    HUD also reaffirmed its fundamental principles on tribal relationships: “The United States has a unique relationship with Indian tribal governments as set forth in the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes and executive orders, and court decisions.” 

    Alaska Natives Win Greater Rights To Place Lands Into Trust

    Alaska Native tribes now have greater power to petition Washington to place lands into federal trust, following a July 1 judicial decision that reversed policies that prevented most of them from doing so. The case, Akiachak Native Community, et al. v. Department of Interior, et al., was brought by several parties against the state of Alaska.

    Writing for the 2-1 majority, Judge David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit determined that Alaska had “brought no independent claim for relief.” Therefore, he wrote, there is no “live controversy,” rendering the case moot.

    The suit grew out of the federal Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. That agreement accorded 44 million acres to Alaska Natives and $952.5 million to Native corporations. But the Interior Department used these terms to exclude most of Alaska’s Native communities from placing land into federal trust.

    “This barrier became known as the Alaska Exception,” wrote the Fairbanks News Miner, “because it exempted Alaska from provisions in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.” An exception to this exception is the Metlakatla Indian Community in southeastern Alaska, which opted out of the 1971 settlement act.

    In 2006 the Akiachak Native Community, the Chalkyitsik Village, the Tuluksak Native Community and other entities filed the suit, challenging the exclusion and in effect arguing that all Native peoples should be treated equally.

    In response, the Interior Department proposed a new rule erasing the trust exclusion in May 2014. But Juneau attempted to block the rule rather than allow the federal government to designate trust lands. Thus, implementation of the rule was suspended while the case was decided. 

    First Native Woman Appointed To Minnesota Supreme Court


    Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has appointed Judge Anne McKeig to the Minnesota Supreme Court. McKeig, a descendant of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, is the first American Indian woman to be appointed to the state’s highest court.

    “Judge McKeig will be a tremendous addition to the Minnesota Supreme Court,” said Dayton in announcing the appointment on June 29. “I trust that her commitment to justice, and her concern for the wellbeing of all Minnesotans will bring a unique and valuable perspective.”

    A graduate of the College of St. Catherine and the Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, McKeig will replace Justice Christopher Dietzen upon his retirement at the end of August. She has previously served as District Court Judge in the Fourth Judicial District and worked as an Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, specializing in Indian Child Welfare Act cases.

    In an emotional press conference, McKeig recalled attending the swearing in of Justice Robert A. Blaeser, the first―and longest serving―Native American judge appointed to the Minnesota District Court Bench. Blaeser retired in 2012 after 17 years on the bench.

    “I didn’t know him, but he was a White Earth member,” she said, choking back tears. “And I, a proud descendant of White Earth Nation, knew that if he could do it, that maybe I could . . . It’s people like him who led the way, [who] have allowed for others like me to dare to dream.”

    With McKeig’s appointment, women will constitute a majority of the seven-member court for the first time since 1991.


    ICT News

    kauffmanMedical Marijuana Company Is Lead Sponsor At Gathering Of Nations


    Ultra Health, a national provider for the healthcare cannabis industry, has become the title sponsor for the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow for 2017. This marks the first time a medical cannabis company has sponsored such an event. Ultra Health has agreed to the title sponsorship for the next five years and holds an option to consider sponsorship through 2027.

    “The Gathering of Nations Pow Wow is a very spiritual and social celebration,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and president of Ultra Health. “Sponsoring the event was an obvious decision in light of the importance Native people have historically put on healing and natural medicine.”

    In 2016, Ultra Health broke ground with the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe to build two dispensaries and a major cultivation center on the Snow Mountain Reservation and near downtown Las Vegas. The company is also in talks with tribes regarding several cannabis development projects, including retailing, cultivation and event promotion.

    Although recent polls have indicated that 90 percent of Americans approve of medical cannabis, sponsorships are not always readily accepted. Earlier this year, for example, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta denied Ultra Health’s bid for sponsorship.

    “We debated whether this was the right thing to do,” Duke Rodriguez told ICTMN. “But we did a lot of research and found the highest rates of support for cannabis is from Native people.”

    The three-day Gathering of Nations, one of North America’s largest pow wows, will next be held April 27th to 29th, 2017 on the new Pow Wow Grounds at Tingley Coliseum/EXPO in Albuquerque. 

    Navajo-Area Residents Using Dirty Water As Memos Fall Short


    Since late May, thousands of residents of Crouch Mesa, near the Navajo Nation in San Juan County, New Mexico, have inadvertently been using dirty water for cooking, drinking, bathing and laundry after failing to receive official notifications to boil the water.

    Two boil advisories were issued on May 25 and June 3 after a faulty valve began recirculating dirty water to an estimated 7,000 households. However, many residents said they did not receive proper notification.

    “Most of these notices were put up on Facebook, but I don’t use Facebook,” Irene Begay told ICTMN. “I didn’t even know the water was bad. I was still drinking it, still using it, because I wasn’t aware anything was wrong.”

    Only at a community meeting on June 28 did Begay and many other Crouch Mesa denizens learn of the advisories. The meeting included updates from the New Mexico Environment Department and the Public Regulation Commission. Some attendees expressed frustration and confusion. “My water isn’t cloudy,” said Ivan Martinez (Navajo). “It doesn’t smell, so I thought I could keep using it normally. This is really starting to worry me.”

    The water comes from two systems operated by Animas Valley Water, a company now being investigated by New Mexico’s Environment Department and Public Regulation Commission. During a preliminary site inspection, the state found 29 significant deficiencies, including improper treatment and filtration systems, incorrectly labeled chemical tanks and insufficient operations and maintenance plans.

    Animas Valley Water representative Germaine Chappelle has told customers that temporary pumps are being installed as the water company works to connect with municipal water lines. Should the company fail to find a permanent solution by July 15, it faces a state fine of $1,000 per day.

    Ethnic Studies Program Lacks Native Input, Critic Says


    An ethnic studies program recently developed by the Albuquerque Public School (APS) system for its 13 high schools, and scheduled to debut as an elective at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, was formulated without sufficient Native American input, a Navajo educator has charged.

    “A lot of people here in New Mexico are very ignorant about the tribes, about the number of tribes, and their knowledge about Native Americans,” said Daisy Thompson, director of the Office of Indian Education for the APS and a member of the Navajo Nation. “I feel we have a wealth of information, but yet no one has approached us to talk about this.”

    The curriculum development process began with an “Ethnic Studies Professional Development Seminar” that attracted about 40 teachers and community members. Thompson was the only Native American to attend the seminar.

    “I’ve already started asking questions about how this curriculum is being developed,” she said. “What does it look like and how much time will be devoted to each group that will be presented and studied by the students?”

    “The Office of Indian Education will have plenty of opportunity for input into this curriculum,” responded Ralph Arellanes, Sr., chairman of the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico, who is leading the charge for developing the ethnic studies curriculum within APS. “We’re going to try to tell the true history of New Mexico.”

    He added, “Some of the criticism I have heard is let’s make sure the correct history is taught. The last thing we want to do is institute ethnic studies and then it ends up backfiring because people teach the wrong history and the wrong facts.” 

    Tackling The Indian Health Service

    ‘My tribes have told me that they are getting poor care’


    Kristi Noem, South Dakota’s at-large representative in Congress, who has introduced legislation to reform the Indian Health Service, is seen here receiving a Star Quilt from the Oglala Sioux.

    Courtesy Office of Rep

    Editor’s Introduction: Last month Kristi Noem (R), South Dakota’s at-large representative in Congress, introduced two pieces of legislation to address major problems associated with the operation of the Indian Health Service (IHS). One is concerned with the operations of the agency; the other concerns mandatory drug testing. She recently talked with ICTMN about the bills.


    You introduced the Helping Ensure Accountability, Leadership, and Trust in Tribal Healthcare [HEALTTH] Act on June 8, calling for major changes to the way IHS operates. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairma John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) introduced similar legislation, the IHS Accountability Act of 2016, in May. What are some of the differences? 

    One of the things in my legislation that isn’t touched on in the Senate bill is requiring IHS to develop a new formula for allocating PRC (purchased/referred care) dollars. Every year, about June, IHS runs out of Policy Research Center money. Then they tell people they can’t treat them unless it’s a life-threatening situation.

    We would require IHS to develop a new formula that would take into account those areas or tribes that have the greatest need for the dollars. Getting that new formula would ensure that we get more money to those regions that really do need the help.

    And my bill would also change rates at which those dollars go out the door. It would require IHS to negotiate Medicare-like rates for services from private providers. IHS currently pays a premium for those services, so those dollars spend faster.

    An April 2013 GAO report found that IHS could have saved an estimated $32 million out of $62 million that was spent on physician services. So reduced rates would stretch their dollars, which would get us much further into the year.

    When you say a new formula would get money to the tribes that need it most, isn’t the need extreme everywhere?

    No. In fact there are many tribes in the nation that provide their own healthcare. They find that they get much better healthcare or healthcare coverage if they insure their own people. Not every tribe in the country utilizes IHS dollars or utilizes them to the extent we do.

    Unfortunately, because our tribes in South Dakota are in such remote areas where there’s a lack of access to care, they rely heavily on IHS facilities. That’s really their only option.

    You spoke at the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs oversight/legislative field hearing in Rapid City, South Dakota on June 17. You said IHS should get out of the hospital business. What would the alternative be?

    We would contract with private providers to run those hospitals. That is essentially what the tribes want to do. They would prefer to have local providers like Rapid City Regional or Sanford Health or Avera Health do a long-term contract with those facilities to run them.

    My legislation starts us down that path. Eventually what the tribes would like to do is stand on their own two feet. They would love to be able to [take control of their hospitals] and run them themselves [using federal dollars] when they get the ability to do that. But in the meantime what my legislation does is allow there to be longer-term contracts with local providers.

    How would longer-term contracts be helpful?

    Right now the biggest problem we have with IHS and how they do their contracting is that they contract with a staffing service for a year or two so we have a constant flux of doctors and nurses and there’s no consistency. And then it’s not even people invested in the community. If you’re contracting with a local provider they are people from South Dakota, they’re licensed in South Dakota and they want to be successful here.

    The IHS mandatory random drug testing legislation you introduced on June 9 seems a bold move. What led to that?

    It was because of complaints I heard from tribal members and other people involved with these facilities. There have been repeated instances of medical staff coming to work intoxicated or stealing narcotic medicine.

    What this [bill] would do is make those who work with patients subject to randomized drug testing. Mary Wakefield [Health and Human Services Acting Deputy Director] has told me they are implementing something like this—where the supervisor suspects drug use they can have [personnel] tested. My bill goes a little further in saying there will be mandatory random drug tests of anyone who is responsible for delivering care to patients.

    And this would include doctors?

    Yes, definitely.

    Overall, what do you think are the factors that underlie IHS’s failures in Indian country? 

    It has been decades of mismanagement. I think it’s a culture within the administration of IHS that needs to be changed, but whenever you push hard and start trying to hold people accountable, IHS moves them to a different position. They don’t fire folks; they just move them around and it gets even harder to get the answers you need.

    The culture within IHS is probably the most toxic I’ve seen in any federal agency recently.

    Could you elaborate on “toxic”?

    The discouragement among people who work for IHS, the discouragement and lack of communication with tribal leaders, not knowing where the money really goes once it flows into the Great Plains region. There is a lot of doubt and questions about what’s happening to those dollars.

    You have facilities where people are hand-washing surgical instruments and doctors are intoxicated when they’re working with patients and you have the theft of narcotics. This would never be acceptable in a private hospital in the United States. To allow this Third World country type of delivery of health care is unacceptable.

    The fact that CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] came in and waved a red flag is how we became aware of how bad the situation really is. If it was up to IHS they would never have disclosed the real life situation. My staff has talked with a lot of people and they’re scared to be a whistleblower because they feel as though they’ll lose their jobs or be demoted if they really share what the situation is in these facilities.

    You’ve been in Congress for just five years. Why did you take on this issue instead of someone from, say, Oklahoma or Arizona or New Mexico? 

    My tribes have told me for several years that they have been getting poor care. So we’ve been working with them on separate issues. I did not realize until this came up in the last eight to ten months how bad it was. This is an issue of life and death. I’ll do anything to fix this situation. I just need my tribes working with me and supporting me as I go to war with IHS over this situation.

    When you say “my tribes” you are referring to South Dakota tribes?

    Yes, my South Dakota tribes are my number one priority. I’m concerned about the whole system, but there is agreement in Washington, D.C., that the Great Plains region is by far the worst situation. This region is in crisis right now.

    What do think will be the outcome of your efforts in working with Sen. Barrasso? 

    It’s our hope that we can end up getting elements of both bills into a comprehensive piece of legislation that can be signed into law. We’ve had conversations and by them allowing me to be a part of their Senate Indian Affairs Committee, it certainly gave us an opportunity to talk about both pieces of legislation and what the different elements are. 

    The Thirteenth Island

    Archipelago chain now fully back in tribal hands


    Bottom Line: The Grand Portage Ojibwe has completed its ownership of a precious Great Lakes resource.

    Big Susie island, now finally back under ownership of the Grand Portage Ojibwe, completes the 13-isle archipelago.

    ©Richard Hamilton Smith/Courtesy the Nature Conservancy


    Kenneth-Dennis_sixthpage_updated_for-webThere are 13 islands in the Susie chain in Lake Superior. And now—after more than two centuries of confused mapmaking and vague reservation boundaries—the Grand Portage Ojibwe will again own all of them.

    Following much cooperative management and negotiation, the Nature Conservancy is returning to the tribe the one of the Susie Islands not in its possession—the namesake Susie Island itself. Nicknamed Big Susie, the 145-acre islet is the largest in the archipelago, which starts about a mile offshore in the largest of the Great Lakes. The final process formally began on January 22, with filing for trust status with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

    Grand Portage had already owned the other 12, all of which fall within the reservation boundaries. The band is now seeking trust status through the BIA for the archipelago, which would finish the job of giving them full control over the land. BIA approval may come through before the end of the year, at which time a “deed of conveyance” will be signed.

    The band is already managing and overseeing Big Susie.

    “The big thing is we can manage the whole area; we’ll be able to keep it that way,” said Grand Portage Chairman Norman Deschampe. He stressed that as is the case with the other islands, Big Susie will never be developed.

    “We allow recreation out there, but we don’t allow any kind of development,” Deschampe said. “It’s preserved for the band here and the people here. Our people go out there fishing, gathering.”

    Since the reservation was created under the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe, northeastern and western portions of Grand Portage lands—including the archipelago—were excluded on original maps and not restored to the reservation until a 1982 Interior Department proclamation. Some lands, though, were privately held.

    “Grand Portage leadership at the time and since then have worked very hard to have this area restored,” said April McCormick, the band’s manager of Roads and Realty. “This transaction itself is about restorative justice on many levels.”

    Big Susie is a gift from the conservancy, which acquired the island via piecemeal purchases between 1973 and 1991. However, the Grand Portage Band has been working hard to regain control of all land within the reservation. The band or tribal members now own 98 percent of land on the reservation, thanks to acquisition from non-Native owners. The purchases have been made possible by proceeds from the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino.

    “It’s one of the bright spots as far as the revenue from the casino, to purchase a lot of tracts that were privately owned,” Deschampe said. “ It’s kind of ironic that you have to buy your own land.”

    Effective local management is at the heart of the negotiated transfer of Susie Island. In a letter to the Cook County Board—which has formally supported the land transfer—the conservancy pointed to Susie Island’s remote location and difficult access: “[It] would be better managed by an entity with both a conservation emphasis and a strong local presence.”

    In the past, the islands were logged and mined for copper. They were once home to commercial fishing, a practice the tribe did not always appreciate.

    “In the 1880s and 1890s, itinerant Scandinavian fishermen regularly cruised up and down the north shore, taking herring, trout and whitefish,” notes a National Park Service website. “In 1889 band members complained to the government that these fishermen, some of whom camped on Susie and the other islands just outside Wauswaugoning Bay, spread nets so large that they monopolized the fish.”

    “The human history of the islands is very interesting,” Novitsky said. “You can still see remnants of human use in several areas, from old dock cribs just beneath the surface to the old mining equipment that still rests on Big Susie Island and even an old engine block still sitting on the shoreline of Big Susie.”

    Mainly, though, it was the preservation of plant life that spurred the Nature Conservancy to purchase all of Susie Island.

    “Species that disappeared from the rest of Minnesota after the glaciers receded northward still survive here,” the Nature Conservancy observed. “Today, many of these plants are more typically found in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

    “In addition the island’s sheer cliffs, rocky promontories and poor soils are inhospitable for many plants. This ‘cloud forest’ environment supports a rich variety of mosses and lichens, and a blanket bog of sphagnum mosses one to three feet thick has spread over much of the island.”

    Federal government approval of trust status for Susie Island is expected later this year, and the tribe is looking forward to completing that last step.

    “It’s deeply embedded into our history as Grand Portage, and how we’ve lived here for generations,” said McCormick. “It solidifies long-term management with lands around these islands. It’s really exciting to see this significant parcel returned to the band.”

    ‘The Heartbeat Of Life’

    Music and mathematics pulse among young Navajos


    Bottom Line: Under a unique program, rhythms begin as numbers and end as Native notes.

    Two Navajo girls kept time on their tambourines.

    Alyssa Landry


    A riot of sound spilled from a hogan on the Navajo Technical University campus in Crownpoint, New Mexico as a group of Navajo students joined in concert with a pair of rising violinists.

    Students ranging in age from 7 to 16—all novice performers with xylophones, tambourines and recorders—kept time with two visiting musicians from the Juilliard School in New York City. The result, beginning on June 20 and ending on June 24, was a sound as unique as the circumstances.

    “It’s not often that we get students from Juilliard on the Navajo Reservation,” said Wesley Thomas, a professor in the university’s School of Diné Studies, Education and Leadership. “What we have here is the Juilliard School of Music’s Navajo extension.”

    For five days, the university played host to the inaugural “Heartbeat Project,” a course funded by a community engagement grant from Juilliard and designed to combine math and music skills in the classroom. Led by Ariel Horowitz and Leerone Hakami, both violin performance majors at Juilliard, the program attracted children and teens from Crownpoint, and nearby communities.

    Inside the hogan, students sat on cushions around a fire pit and learned the basics of music: counting beats, reading notes and identifying rhythms.

    “Really, you can’t separate math from music,” said Hakami, who coined the name of the program. “In this program we use both. The beat is the technical aspect, the math part. The melody is the heart and soul, the artistic part. So together we have the heartbeat of life.”

    Horowitz and Hakami covered a white board with quarter notes, half notes, dotted half notes and whole notes. They led students in a series of exercises that challenged their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills.


    The brother-and-sister team of McCalister and Alyanis constituted a recorder duo.  Alyssa Landry

    The women, who spent their time living on campus and receiving a primer in Navajo culture, had three major goals: teaching the students to play a song, exposing them to the arts and boosting their understanding of math as a skill that is applicable to daily life.

    “Experiencing art and music can change someone’s life, and we really wanted to share our passion for the arts,” Horowitz said. “But math is applicable everywhere, so the two concepts go hand in hand.”

    The program targeted students in elementary school who are just beginning to tackle math concepts like multiplication and division. Horowitz and Hakami asked the class to think of musical beats like a pizza cut into eight slices. Using this comparison, two slices equal a quarter note while six slices would make a dotted half note.

    “It’s hard,” said nine-year-old Cadence Joe, from Standing Rock, New Mexico. “We have to use math problems to learn music.”

    Kyran Tso, from Winslow, Arizona, also nine, hoped to use his new skills when he starts fourth grade in the fall. “I’m not sure how I’ll use the dotted half note,” he said. “But I know how to play one on the xylophone. I know how to read notes and answer the math questions.”


    Juilliard students Ariel Horowitz and Leerone Hakami led the students through their paces and accompanied them on violin.  Alyssa Landry

    The program ran two hours per day for five days. At the end, students performed an impromptu concert for the university community, accompanied by Horowitz and Hakami.

    “Our whole goal was to expose kids to things that are not normal occurrences here on campus or this community, not to mention the Navajo Nation,” Thomas said. “We’re using opportunities like this to move the whole university and surrounding community forward.”


    July 1, 2016

    The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is soliciting proposals from qualified, licensed attorneys to provide judicial services for the Band’s tribal court. The Band anticipates selecting four individuals to serve as appellate court judges and one individual to serve as a pro tem trial court judge.

    The pro tem trial court judge will serve when the Band’s Chief Judge is unavailable, as assigned by the Chief Judge. The pro tem judge presides on motions and requests of the parties; schedules and presides over conferences, evidentiary hearings bench trials; conducts necessary legal or factual research; and renders legal opinions.

    The Band’s trial court hears cases on the first Monday and Tuesday of the month, unless the first Monday is a holiday. In that case, the court convenes on the second Monday and Tuesday of the month. Other court dates may be scheduled by the Chief Judge as necessary. The Trial court hears cases involving violations of the traffic, animal control, truancy and conservation codes, as well as general civil matters, including but not limited to dissolution of marriage, name change, small claims, contracts, and probate. In 2015, there were 179 new cases filed with the court. The Band’s ordinances are available at 

    The Band does not currently have an appellate court. The Band appellate code is currently under development. It is anticipated that oral arguments will be held at the Fond du Lac Tribal Court, and that the number of appeals will not exceed five annually.

    Indian preference will apply in the selection process in accordance with the Band’s Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance.

    Applicants must meet the following minimum qualifications:

    a.   Have graduated from an accredited law school and be admitted to the bar in any state;

    b.   Have a minimum of 8 years’ experience practicing law (which may include service on a tribal, federal or state court bench)

    c.   Have a demonstrable knowledge of Indian and Federal law;

    d.  Be familiar with the Constitution and laws of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the laws of the Fond du Lac Band;

    e.   Have never been convicted or pleaded guilty to any felony, nor been found guilty of any crime involving fraud or dishonesty or moral turpitude.

    Demonstrable knowledge and experience with Tribal Courts is preferred, but not required.

    To submit a proposal, send a proposal by e-mail to or by mail to Kristi Wheale, Clerk of Court, Fond du Lac Tribal Court, 1720 Big Lake Road, Cloquet, MN 55720

    The proposal should include:

    • A proposed rate or fee;
    • A statement to indicate whether the applicant is interested in an appellate court position, the pro-tem trial court position, or both.
    • A resume and a statement of qualifications;
    • A list of at least three professional references that may be contacted by the Band. It is preferred that the references include clients for whom similar work has been done within the past two year period. References shall include a complete address, contact name and telephone number.

    Proposals must be received by 4:30 p.m. central time on Friday, August 5, 2016.



    Rural Development Specialist  Environmental

    (California and Arizona)

    Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) is pleased to announce five opportunities in its Community & Environmental Services department, 4 in California and 1 in Arizona.

    Be a Rural Development Specialist – Environmental to help develop rural utility capacity and assisting Native American tribes; to contribute to improving management of, building capacity for or developing water and wastewater systems in small, disadvantaged and tribal communities; to assist small communities to develop infrastructure projects; or to provide operational technical assistance and training.

    Visit for more information on each position and instructions on how to apply or call (916) 447-9832, option 3 to have an application packet emailed or mailed to you.

    RCAC is an equal opportunity employer and considers all employees and job applicants without regard to race, religion, color, gender, age, sex, national origin, disability, veteran status , sexual orientation or gender identity, marital status, or any other status protected by law. RCAC strives to reflect the diverse constituencies that the organization serves.

    Casino Manager $20-$27 per hour

    Winnedumah Winns is seeking an energetic, self-motivated person to manage the Casino.

    Experience is necessary.

    Benefit package is negotiable.

    Please email or contact Katie at 760-878-5160 for an application and job description.

    The Week in Photos

    Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort

    The annual Ironworkers Festival, with skills competitions that celebrate the Mohawks who helped build New York City’s skyline, takes place this month.

    National Anthropological Archives/Smithsonian Institution

    The New York Times recently spotlighted Minneconjou Lakota Sioux warrior Red Horse’s ledger drawings of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Here is “Indians fight against Custer’s cavalry.”

    Marcel Petit (Métis)

    Marcel Petit (Métis) has created a photo essay of the Two Spirit couple Warren Ibister and Don Bear wearing traditional regalia in women’s Cree style.


    The latest Nike N7 shoe, designed specifically for Native Americans as a means of promoting physical fitness, was launched on July 2, the Nike N7 Golf shoe.

    Headlines from the Web

    Upcoming Events


    July 14: Indian Country Drug Abuse Webinar
    “Fighting Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Abuse Issues Within Indian Country” will examine relevant drug abuse topics in Native communities and how those communities can take steps to alleviate the problem locally. This culturally based Native American approach to training can be adapted to include tribal law enforcement authorities and/or tribal community groups.
    Contact Information:


    July 15-16: Native American Grant School Association Summer Conference
    The goal of “Leading to Inspire the Whole Child” is to provide resources that encourage every Native American child to succeed in his or her educational journey. A general assembly and a series of workshops are scheduled.
    Location: Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico


    July 19-21: Traditional Native Games Certification Clinics
    Presented by the International Traditional Games Society, the event will afford opportunities to explore Plains Indian culture and earn certification in two levels of games. Level I games are geared toward intuition and chance for individuals and teams. Level II offers more complicated crafting and delves deeper into Plains Indian culture and game history. Sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council-Good Health & Wellness in Indian Country, with funding made possible in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    Location: Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Lame Deer, Montana


    July 19-21: 7 Generations Environmental Planning for Rural Alaska
    The 7G environmental planning process leads to identifying, assessing and developing solutions to community environmental and health concerns. The training constitutes an interactive workshop that introduces participants to a community‐based approach for developing local environmental plans. It is intended for community leaders, tribal environmental program staff, other tribal staff and concerned community members who may be involved in local planning.
    Location: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, Alaska


    July 19-21: Inter-Tribal Environmental Council Conference
    The conference will further the ITEC’s goals of protecting the health of Native Americans, their natural resources and their environment.
    Location: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Catoosa, Oklahoma


    July 20-21: Native American Indian Housing Council Workshop
    The ONAP Executive Director’s Refresher is intended to facilitate a peer-to-peer forum for veteran and new directors alike, acknowledging that Indian housing management has become an increasingly complex discipline whereby directors must work within a burgeoning series of laws, regulations, PIH notices and other formalities. The workshop endeavors to provide opportunity for skill building and a series of tips and tools to support the directors in fulfilling their roles. Sessions will include “How Am I Doing? A Director’s Self-Assessment,” “Overcoming Challenges in Management and Governance,” “Required Policies Assessment” and “Tracking and Managing Reporting Requirements.”
    Location: Whitney Peak Hotel, Reno, Nevada


    Letters to the Editor

    Re Harlan McKosato’s column suggesting that those who object to the commercialism and exploitation of the Gathering of Nations simply not attend (June 20):

    Powwows usually do not exist to make money. But this one, in particular, has become a huge moneymaking event over the years. Sadly, it is the way of things now. Sporting events, too, have become so crazy with their costs.

    We must always remember that powwows are for fun and family and keeping our cultures alive—enjoying the company of Native people from all kinds of different tribal backgrounds. Of course, people are there to make money.But that should not be the primary focus.

    We must remember that we don’t have to be “just like the dominant culture” and collect money just like they would. Still you need money for the event space, printing costs, security, bathrooms, water, etc. There is always a reason to collect money.

    —Martin Knife Chief
    Broomfield, Colorado



    Top News Alerts


    The only two Native American members of Congress both survived primary challenges in late June. Rep. Tom Cole (D-Oklahoma), Chickasaw, easily defeated his Republican opponent, winning more than 71 percent of the vote. Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee), also of Oklahoma, had a tougher Republican primary; his opponent, Jarrin Jackson, was endorsed by former Sen. Tom Coburn. However, Mullin won the primary with 63 percent of the vote. Currently, eight Native Americans are running for seats in Congress.


    The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina has settled a lawsuit it filed last month against Anheuser-Busch and North Carolina distributor R.A. Jeffreys for using, without authorization, the tribe’s logo and “Heritage, Pride & Strength” slogan to promote Bud Light beer. The distributor said that within a day of learning of the tribe’s objections, the promotions were removed. Tribal chairman Harvey Godwin said that R.A. Jeffreys will “make a substantial donation” to the nonprofit Lumbee Land Development Inc., which serves tribal education and youth programs.


    Five tribes have contributed more than $500,000 to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this month. The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the Gila River Indian Community, the Table Mountain Rancheria and the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians each contributed $100,200 in May. The funds constitute approximately half the amount raised by the Democratic National Committee during May, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


    Chrystel Cornelius, executive director of First Nations Oweesta Corp., has become treasurer of Red Feather Development Group, a nonprofit that partners with members of the Hopi, Navajo and Northern Cheyenne Nations to develop and implement housing solutions. Cornelius has worked with Native communities for most of her professional career, with more than 16 years of experience working in the Native economic development field. She is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.


    Kevin Battise, former chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, died in an automobile accident on June 29. A decorated Air Force veteran, Battise began his tribal service as a council member in 1998. Upon being elected chairman, he took a leave from his job at Lucent Technologies; during his tenure, he received a leadership award from the National Indian Gaming Association. He is survived by his wife, mother, two sisters, a brother-in- law, a stepdaughter, and many other family members.

    How Did I Miss That?

    Forced marches, the benefits of a Pulitzer nomination and death at Machu Picchu


    Photo courtesy Steve Russell Steve Russell

    It was widely reported that Oliver Park, 51, went into a restricted area of the pre-Incan ruins at Machu Picchu. He asked a fellow tourist to snap a smartphone photo as he jumped into the air, but he came down off-balance and fell to his death. It was a distance of between 130 and 650 feet, depending on which reports you believe.

    My cousin Ray Sixkiller pointed out the death was probably not caused by a curse aimed at the Spanish—because the Spanish never discovered Machu Picchu.

    * * *

    Navy Times reported that Lt. Cmdr. Bethany Busch was fired as commanding officer of the Bahrain-based coastal patrol ship Whirlwind “for alleged misbehavior.” A quick scan of all the Navy COs relieved of command in the last year showed 20, of whom eight were female.

    “So,” Cousin Ray asked, “are 40 percent of Navy COs female?”

    I doubt it, because it hasn’t been that long ago that women would not get command of a Navy vessel.

    * * *

    The Navajo Times ran a story on the 150-year anniversary of the Long Walk, in which about 8,000 Diné were force-marched at gunpoint to join about 500 Mescalero Apaches at the Bosque Redondo concentration camp. One of four Diné would die—either on the 300-mile walk or from disease and malnutrition at the place they would call Hwéeldi, situated outside the bounds of the Four Sacred Mountains, where their creator had told them they belonged.

    The Times story revealed that the National Park Service has done a study to determine if the route of the Long Walk would qualify for preservation under the National Trails System Act. The NPS found that the route qualified. But the Navajo Tribal Council voted down the proposal and the NPS turned over the results of the study to the tribal government, which will not release it.

    Tony Joe, supervisory anthropologist of the Traditional Culture Program, told the Times that “our leaders at the time told us never to go back to that place, and it is the tribe’s position to take that advice.”

    * * *

    Remembering another forced march that is part of the National Trails System, the Cherokee Phoenix reported that Cherokee Nation citizen Chance Fletcher, 20, spent a big part of his summer hiking the Trail of Tears, from Red Clay State Park in Tennessee to the Cherokee Courthouse in Tahlequah.

    Fletcher had an ancestor removed by Andrew Jackson. He noted that he received excellent treatment by people along the way, unlike the way he imagined it was for his ancestor. He also noted that many of the people on the Trail of Tears had no shoes—and he was able to buy a new pair whenever he needed them.

    He kept a journal of his experiences but did not tell the Phoenix what he intends to do with it. His summer exercise was funded by the Dale Summer Award from Princeton University. Princeton is quite a distance from Oologah, which is Fletcher’s home and Will Rogers’ birthplace.

    * * *

    Native Times reported that the BIA is invoking a seldom-used authority granted in the Kiowa Constitution to call an election by September 30. The federal government has not recognized a Kiowa election since 2010.

    Three of eight business committee members have either resigned or have quit showing up. The Kiowa Hearing Board does not have a quorum to examine the legality of the rump business committee. In the meantime, there have been abortive attempts to have elections in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The Tribal Election Board has also been unable to reach a quorum.

    Cousin Ray was shaking his head. “Sounds like self-government has been cancelled for lack of interest.”

    * * *

    “It’s sort of like being sprinkled with pixie dust,” Cherokee Citizen Margaret Verble, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her novel, Maud’s Line, recently told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “I suddenly am a lot smarter than I was before, and the book’s a lot better than it was before.” She called the experience “disorienting,” but it did spike sales so much that the book will come out in paperback next month.

    Verble was unable to find a publisher for her first two books. I predict they’ll get another look now. She is also on the eighth draft of her next book.

    I can’t speak for the entire Cherokee Nation, but this Cherokee writer says we should all get so disoriented. Osda! and

    Upcoming Pow Wows


    Sacred Visions Competition 8th Annual Pow Wow

    50 Big Bend Ranch Road
    Wadsworth, NV

    Robert Woolery Senior Memorial Pow Wow

    1600 South Limit
    Sedalia, MT

    Quileute Days

    330 Ocean Park Dr
    La Push, WA

    Mii-Gwitch Mahnomen Days Traditional 54th Annual Pow Wow

    Veterans Memorial Grounds Bingo Palace Drive
    Cass Lake, MN

    Marvin “Joe” Curry Veterans Pow Wow

    520 Broad Street
    Salamanca, NY
    716-532-4900 ext: 5015

    Honor the Earth Homecoming Celebration and Pow Wow

    8575 North Round Lake School Road
    Hayward, WI
    715-634-8934 honor-the-earth-pow- wow-38913

    Children of Many Colors Intertribal Pow Wow

    7075 Campus Road
    Moorpark, CA

    Summer Moon Pow Wow

    Endicott Park, Zero Dean Street
    Danvers, MA

    Colorado Springs 8th Annual Native American Intertribal Powwow

    Mortgage Solutions Financial Expo Center
    3560 North Nevada Avenue
    Colorado Springs, CO

    World Eskimo Indian Olympics

    400 Cushman South
    Fairbanks, AK

    Wolf Creek 5th Annual Pow Wow

    251 Main Street
    Bland, VA

    Tamkaliks 26th Annual Celebration

    70956 Whiskey Creek Road
    Wallowa, OR

    Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) 38th Annual Maawanji’iding

    14865 Ojibwa Park Road
    Baraga, MI
    906-353-4108 or 906-353-4278

    Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Green Corn Dance Pow Wow and Gathering

    27345 Aquia Path
    Courtland, VA

    American Indian Expo

    Caddo County Fairgrounds
    1019 E Broadway S
    Anadarko, OK

    The Big Picture

    “Conductors of Our Own Destiny” (2013), by Dallin Maybee (Northern Arapaho/ Seneca), is at the National Museum of the American Indian through December 4. Ernest Amoroso/NMAI