Issue 30, Aug 03, 2016

    A Letter from the Publisher


    Shekóli. To many in Indian country, the words coming out of Shawn Bordeaux’s mouth on the Democratic National Convention floor were as significant as any they would hear from the podium. South Dakota had just been called to present its delegate count during the roll call, and the state’s votes were about to put Hillary Clinton over the threshold required to make her the official presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

    As the crowd noise rose to a crescendo, Bordeaux stepped up to the mic and spoke for all to hear: “Hau mitakuyepi na mitakolapi” (“Hello family and friends”). Bordeaux, an Oglala Lakota citizen, continued to greet the crowd in, as he put it, “our beautiful Lakota language.” Like other states that came before them, the South Dakota delegation wanted to showcase its diversity, and Bordeaux’s elegant Lakota met the challenge.

    As during President Obama’s campaign years, many Natives were active participants in this year’s DNC. As was the case last week, they came to Philadelphia with the same goals they had at the Republic National Convention the week before in Cleveland: to protect tribal sovereignty and to prepare for partnering with whomever would be directing federal legislation or chairing Senate subcommittees as they relate to Indian affairs.

    ICTMN correspondent Suzette Brewer was again in attendance on the convention floor, and culture editor Simon Moya-Smith covered the antics outside the Wells Fargo Center. In this week’s feature, “Native Pride in Philadelphia,” we canvass all the convention highlights, from the gathering of the Native American Council to the speech of White Earth Citizen and Minnesota State Representative Peggy Flanagan. After the speech, Flanagan spoke to ICTMN about the importance of local politics.

    “We have organized an urban Native coalition,” Flanagan said with understandable pride, “to move an agenda to move policy in the state house.” It’s an important point. While national elections have an impact on the nature of our government-to-government relationship with Washington, D.C., state and county relationships often set the tone on smaller but no less crucial facets of coexistence. No single election at any level at any time can change life in an instant but is rather a reflection of the nature of the community.

    It is at the community level that strong bonds are built, and those bonds have kept Native Nations alive for generations.

    NΛ ki wa,

    Ray Halbritter


    Indian Pride In The Ivy League

    At Dartmouth College, André Cramblit felt like an outsider. But at his latest reunion, he found that Native roots and considerable privilege mingled pretty well:

    Landing in the middle of the luxurious Ivy League was an eye opener, given my modest upbringing. My roommate was the son of a president of a prestigious East Coast university. In my dorm’s freshman orientation group, I found myself sitting next to the Crown Prince of Ethiopia and a girl whose father bought her a professional soccer team for her 18th birthday. Also among my classmates were Michael and Nelson Rockefeller, Jr.

    Most of my four years of college were spent living at odds with the political ideals and financial lavishness of these newfound “chums.” By going to this reunion I was putting myself back in that cauldron. But it turned out that, having all grown older, my classmates and myself had also grown a bit wiser, more open-minded and accepting.

    I felt honored to be part of the memorial for our classmates who had passed on. It was a moving and poignant ceremony. I shared part of my Native Karuk culture by singing at the event and was amazed at the impact. Several people came up to me to express their appreciation for my role. I spoke to more classmates during the weekend than I talked to during my four turbulent years in Hanover.

    Despite the discontinuity between the majority of my classmates and myself that exists even today, regardless of the angst of issues such as Dartmouth’s Indian mascot, and notwithstanding the financial chasm that separates most Native alums and our schoolmates, perhaps there is a bit of Dartmouth green in my blood after all.

    Threading An Editorial Needle

    A photo essay in the July issue of Smithsonian magazine by Luci Tapahonso (Navajo) is both powerful and problematic, writes Peter d’Errico:

    Tapahonso’s essay focuses on the infamous boarding schools, whereat Native children were kidnapped from families and forcibly inducted into American culture under the motto “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Tapahonso focuses on the survival of Native Peoples from that experience—survival that carries deep scars, passed from the children who were kidnapped to their children.

    The boarding schools were a knife stabbed into families and clans. The Canadian government has acknowledged this in what they call a “reconciliation process.” In the U.S., the federal government has done far less.

    You can tell that the Smithsonian editors had trouble figuring out how to present Tapahonso’s text—and the photographs by Daniella Zalcman—without angering the politicians who vote their budget. The essay’s formal title reads, “For More Than 100 Years, the U.S. Forced Navajo Students Into Western Schools. The Damage Is Still Felt Today.” But the essay is one of three whose overall headline is “American Exiles: Leaving Home.”

    “Leaving Home” sounds tame—even romantic—compared to “Forced.” The boarding schools were one element in a long—and still ongoing—effort to make Indians disappear as nations, to force them to become Americans. Many have succumbed.

    If the Smithsonian were really to present the full history of the federal government’s treatment of Indigenous Peoples, the spread would be titled “American Holocaust.” That would stir up even greater anger in Congress than the 1995 controversy about the museum’s atomic bomb exhibit, or its 2003 exhibit about the Arctic and climate change.

    Still, we can be thankful that Tapahonso’s essay made it through the gauntlet.

    A Case Of Selective Memory

    The recent mass shootings of innocent people echo the Native past, writes Harlan McKosato, even if some don’t recognize it:

    When there is a history of violence, bigotry and racism that is such an influential part of the past, it makes almost perfect sense that at it will manifest itself in what we’re seeing today here in America, Europe and elsewhere. When I watch or read news about what happened in Nice (France), Orlando (Florida), or Dallas (Texas), it’s almost as if I’m witnessing a distant scene from Wounded Knee.

    Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke at the Republican National Convention about people “living in fear” because of all the violence taking place across the country. Imagine being a Native American when Europeans viciously and maliciously came after our lands and resources. Do you think tribal people lived in fear for their lives, their children, and other family members?

    Ever heard of the Andrew Jackson Indian-removal era and the Trail of Tears? Then came the U.S. Cavalry, who were infamous for attacking Native villages at dawn. Talk about living in fear.

    I am not sympathetic to Islamic radicalism. I’m not saying that any particular kind of violence is justified. I am just sick and tired of hearing the media talking about how the Orlando massacre was the worst in U.S. history. That’s not correct. Why don’t they ever report about the massacres that Native people suffered?

    Many Native people have healed through prayers and have let go of hatred and the resentment toward white people. Others have not. But as long as we act as if racism and violence never existed until the last few years, it will just be prolonged.

    ICT News

    KauffmanPipeline Breach Fouls Saskatchewan River System

    A pipeline leak dumped up to 66,000 gallons of oil into the North Saskatchewan River system on July 21, prompting the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) to call for “full First Nation participation and representation during the emergency response.”

    The pipeline operator, Husky Energy, has kept several First Nations abreast of developments, and Sweetgrass First Nation Chief Lori Whitecalf has received updates. But FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron called for more input.

    “We need assurances that First Nations’ interests in respect to our Inherent and Treaty Rights to hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering will be taken into account during the decision making process,” he said. “As stewards of the land it is our role to protect the environment including the waterways.”

    The Battleford Tribal Council and the Prince Albert Grand Council are preparing to meet the spill. The emergency has already spurred the Prince Albert water system to shut down its intake, and the city of 35,000 is building a temporary water pipeline, between 12 and 20 miles long, from another river, reported the Canadian Press.

    It is not known how long it will take the spill to flow through the affected communities. It could thus cause water shortages both in Prince Albert and in communities farther north closer to the origin, such as North Battleford, which has also shut off its water supply.

    “We need an accurate assessment of the amount of oil spilled into the river to fully understand the amount of time and resources that will be needed to deal with this environmental catastrophe,” said FSIN Vice Chief E. Dutch Lerat.

    With Court Victory, A Mechoopda Casino Is One Step Closer


    The Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria in California has cleared a major hurdle in its quest to build Butte County’s third casino. A federal judge has refused to grant a request by the county to block the project, which is proposed for a parcel of land near the city of Chico.

    The case dates to 1996, when the Mechoopda purchased 625 acres near the intersection of Highways 99 and 124 in the vicinity of Chico; the tribe hoped to devote 91 acres to a 42,000-square-foot casino. The tribe began working with the Justice Department and other federal agencies on the project, following the lead of several other California Nations that had established successful gaming ventures in Butte and neighboring counties.

    In 2002 the National Indian Gaming Commission deemed that the Mechoopda’s parcel met the definition of “restored land” and gave the tribe approval to proceed with the project. The tribe subsequently won Interior Department approval to take the land into trust. However, Butte County officials objected, citing concerns that included “environmental and water-supply worries,” reported McClatchy News.

    But after several rounds of remand, on July 15 Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin affirmed the Interior Department’s final land-into-trust approval, calling it “thorough and well-reasoned.”

    “The Mechoopda Indian Tribe looks forward to advancing our proposed casino project. In doing so, we plan to drive economic development in Butte County for years to come,” said Tribal Chairman Dennis Ramirez. “We thank Judge Scullin for recognizing the weaknesses in Butte County’s arguments and for acknowledging our historical connection to the land.”

    Only Native-Owned Business In Whiteclay Burns Down


    Arrowhead Foods, the only Native-owned business in Whiteclay, Nebraska and one of only two grocery stores in the community, burned to the ground on July 25. The cause was a defective chicken broaster.

    Owner Martin Pilcher (Lakota) reported the fire around 9 a.m. after emptying four fire extinguishers in an attempt to drown the flames. Ultimately, 12 volunteer firefighters from the town of Rushville, about 23 miles south of Whiteclay, responded. Whiteclay has no fire hydrants, so four tanker trucks were used to haul an estimated 240,000 gallons of water from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, The Lincoln Journal Star estimated. Although the fire was officially declared put out at 3:30 p.m, Sheridan County Sheriff Robbins said the store was a total loss. No injuries were reported.

    “They’re all devastated,” Pilcher said of his 11 employees. “Some had worked at the store 13 or 14 years and that’s all they know. They can’t believe this really happened, and now they’re all out of a job.”

    Tony Taylor, a loan officer with Lakota Funds, the financier of Arrowhead Foods, told South Dakota Public Radio that “there may be a silver lining in the tragedy” if the store, which was covered by insurance, can be rebuilt.

    Whiteclay is infamous for having four beer-only liquor stores that sell nearly 5 million cans of beer per year, mainly to residents of Pine Ridge. Despite an August 2013 vote that lifted the 124-year ban on alcohol on the reservation, Whiteclay-related alcohol sales persist.

    ICT News

    Native Ambassador’s Mother Scores Trump For Exploiting Son’s Memory

    The mother of J. Christopher Stevens (Chinook), the U.S. Ambassador to Libya who died in the Benghazi assault in September 2012, has called for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to stop using his death as campaign fodder.

    For months, Republicans have been blaming the Benghazi attack and Stevens’ demise on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic presidential nominee. In June, Trump tweeted, “If you want to know about Hillary Clinton’s honesty & [sic] judgment, ask the family of Ambassador Stevens.”

    But in a letter that appeared in The New York Times on July 22, Stevens’ mother, Mary F. Commanday, wrote, “I am writing to object to any mention of his name and death in Benghazi, Libya, by Donald Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party. I know for certain that Chris would not have wanted his name or memory used in that connection.” She called the tactic “opportunistic and cynical” and insisted that it cease.

    The letter followed an interview in The New Yorker with Stevens’ sister, who said that the family absolved Clinton from her brother’s death.

    “I do not blame Hillary Clinton or [former Secretary of Defense] Leon Panetta,” said Anne Stevens. “They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had. The Benghazi Mission was understaffed. We know that now.

    “But, again, Chris knew that,” she added. “It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself.”

    Eviction Of Guarani Community In Brazil Sparks Outrage


    Brazilian authorities evicted a Guarani community in July, bulldozing homes and forcing families to again live by the side of a major highway, where several had previously been killed by vehicles or poisoned.

    The eviction of the Apy K’ay Guarani community from their ancestral territory in Mato Grosso do Sul in northern Brazil was authorized by a federal judicial order. On July 6, various sources reported, 100 heavily armed military police officers evicted the community to make way for an industrial scale farming operation.

    “We do not accept this,” Apy K’ay Guarani Chief Damiana Cavanha told the human rights group Survival International. “We have our rights. It’s not only the white people that have rights, the Guarani Kaiowá and the Indigenous Peoples also have rights. So many of us have died, so many people have been killed by the gunmen. … Let us stay here, we have our Tekoha [ancestral land] and I will return to my Tekoha.”

    Champions of the Guarani have lately sought more national and international support. Survival International launched a “Stop Brazil’s Genocide” campaign in April to draw attention to the crisis in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. And earlier this year, a documentary titled Apyka’I: The Dead Have a Voice spotlighted the situation.

    Among those interviewed was Cavanha, who said she would not leave her home territory because of the nine people buried there, including her husband and one of her grandsons. “I have courage,” she said. “I am not afraid of the police, of the shock forces.”

    Dakota Access Pipeline Approved


    Despite strong tribal opposition, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) has approved nearly all permits needed to build the Dakota Access Pipeline project, a.k.a. the Bakken pipeline. Construction has already begun in the four states—North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois—along its path.

    The fight to stop the $3.4 billion, 1,134-mile-long pipeline, proposed by the company Energy Transfer, began months ago, as word of its proposed construction spread. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe took the lead, launching a campaign to draw attention to potential environmental impacts. The “Rezpect Our Water” efforts included grassroots lobbying, videos and pleas by Standing Rock youth who asked that their lands and livelihood be taken into account.

    The tribe met with the ACE several times in the past year, hoping to convince them to deny the necessary permits. Of particular concern were water crossings along the pipeline’s path that needed federal approval—especially a crossing of the south-flowing Missouri River near the Cannon Ball community on Standing Rock’s northern border. This crossing point, critics say, poses a major threat to the Standing Rock community, as a pipeline break would contaminate the Missouri River.

    In the end, the Corps granted permits to all 200 water crossings along the pipeline’s path, including a potentially destructive point near the Reservation’s northern border. The Corps also demurred on a plea by three federal agencies that requested a full environmental review.

    “We are saddened to hear of this permit approval but knew the writing was on the wall,” the Indigenous Environmental Network said in a statement. “This decision will not deter the resistance.”

    Bears Ears Decision Is Coming

    Obama to decide fate of site by end of term


    Bottom Line: A visit to Utah by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell highlighted the uncertain future of 1.9 million sacred acres.

    Will Bears Ears achieve National Monument status?

    Kim Baca

    President Barack Obama could decide whether to designate the 1.9 million–acre region in Utah known as Bears Ears as a national monument by the time he leaves office, if not by the end of the year. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the disclosure to Indian Country Today Media Network during a three-day tour of the area on July 14-16.

    Five tribes—the Hopi, Zuñi, Ute Mountain Ute, Uinta-Ouray Ute and Navajo—have formally asked Obama to designate the area as a national monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives the president signing power to create such monuments on federal land.

    Both critics and supporters of the plan were present at a public hearing in Bluff, Utah, that topped off Jewell’s tour. Along with directors of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service and other federal officials, Jewell sought to learn more about the land and its uses. The delegation hiked portions of Bears Ears, observing petroglyphs and the terrain firsthand.

    Above all, Jewell and the attending officials were present to gather information from those who would be most directly affected by a national monument. “We have not made up our minds on what way to go,” Jewell said. “We’re here to listen.”

    And they did, as more than 50 people representing local tribes, ranchers, politicians, recreationalists and environmentalists held forth. A crowd of about 150 crammed into the hearing room in Bluff, about 60 miles south of Bears Ears. Outside, more than 1,000 who had traveled from around the region listened on a public address system.

    Testimony came from descendants of Mormon pioneers who settled in the area, rock climbers who have discovered ancient sites, Native Americans who have seen their wells depleted and water contaminated by area natural resource development, and others. All spoke passionately about this largely pristine desert, a blanket of red-brick earth, waves of mesas, large, jutting rock formations and juniper dotting the land.

    A major subject of discussion was desecration. Bears Ears falls under the jurisdiction of the BLM, which has only two law enforcement rangers and a handful of staff to oversee the 1.9 million acres of land containing 100,000 archaeological sites. Some of them, BLM personnel have acknowledged, have been disturbed and looted.

    Josh Ewing of Friends of the Cedar Mesa, a nonprofit organization created to help the BLM manage the area, said he has seen bones from some of the gravesites thrown about as looters looked for pottery or other items to sell. Creating a monument, ranchers and other area residents told Jewell, would bring more visitors and not stop vandals.

    Many tribal members who support monument status for Bears Ears—which is named after its two landmark 9,000-foot twin buttes—say the land is sacred and important for medicine gathering, wood and ceremonies.

    “There is nothing more important about tribal sovereignty than protecting Indian nations’ languages, cultures, beliefs, and indeed our existence as Indian people,” said Navajo Attorney General Ethel B. Branch.

    “Our proposal is not about exclusion—it’s about education and partnership,” said Carleton Bowekaty of the Pueblo of Zuñi.


    Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (l.) hiked portions of Bears Ears on her fact-finding tour. With her (l. to r.) were Vaughn Hadenfeldt of the Friends of Cedar Mesa; Brian Quigley, assistant field manager of the Bureau of Land Management Field Office; and John Ewing of the Friends of Cedar Mesa. Kim Baca

    But several parties, including a group from Blue Mountain Dine and San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally, spoke against the designation. They cited general distrust with the federal government.

    “We have suffered from all the treaties that have been broken,” Benally said. “I’m very disheartened by the misinformation and also by the dividing of the sisters and brothers in this community.”

    Benally, a Republican, supports a bill filed by Utah’s congressional delegation and introduced in the House as an alternative to the tribal proposal. The bill, called the Public Lands Initiative, would designate 4.6 million acres of land for conservation, and allocate 1.1 million acres for recreation and natural resource development.

    The Public Lands Initiative also ensures tribal input, protects archaeological sites, preserves traditional gathering of plants, and gives managing agencies discretion to hire tribal managers to help manage the land, said Casey Snider, a staff member for Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who co-sponsored the proposal.

    Though Congress is ready to wrap up its current session, Snider said that hearings on the bill are planned for July and August, with Bishop scheduling bill changes and a congressional hearing in September.

    Environmentalists oppose the bill because they say it allows too much potential for gas and oil development. Tribal leaders have also criticized the bill, saying that their input has not been sought. Initially, tribes were working with Utah lawmakers on a proposal. But when communications fizzled earlier this year, the tribes broke off and created their own proposal.

    By the end of the public hearing in Bluff, a common theme had emerged, perhaps best expressed by area resident Kevin Maryboy: “The one thing that we are all consistent on—those of us supporting and opposing—we all want to preserve the land for the younger generation.”



    Restitution Along The Columbia

    After decades, a semblance of ecological
    and housing justice emerges


    Bottom Line: The federal government is making good on promises to Columbia River Native fishers whose villages were inundated in the early 1900s to make way for dams.

    Lone Pine is one of 31 encampments in Oregon that symbolize the devastation that followed manmade flooding of the Columbia River.

    AP Images/Gosia Wozniacki

    When the floodgates of the Bonneville system of dams began opening in 1937, the Columbia River engulfed tribal fishing sites and villages, swamping ancestral lands. The settlements were replaced by 31 encampments; today, they are barely habitable.

    Now, multiple congressional actions, including appropriations and federal authorizations, are driving a multi-agency coalition to address tribal housing conditions along the river. Part of the package is legislation—specifically, the Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act, which would begin to address sanitation and safety issues in the encampments.

    “This legislation begins to undo a shameful legacy of shabby treatment for tribal members who have long deserved better,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). “These glaring public health and safety hazards for children and families must be addressed now as an essential part of repairing a sad history of injustice.”

    In 1957 the reservoir behind the Dalles Dam inundated the 15,000-year-old, continuously inhabited settlement and tribal fishing sites at thundering Celilo Falls. It destroyed the major cultural and trading center for tribes from the Plains to the Pacific.

    Treaties in the 1850s had guaranteed the treaty fishing tribes the rights to their fisheries in exchange for the peaceful cession of most of their territory. During the dam’s construction between the 1930s and 1950s, the federal government promised the Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Nez Perce tribes that they would permanently replace their villages and fishing sites.

    The Army Corps of Engineers replaced the flooded white settlements with towns, but it took them 20 years after the first dam drowned Native fishing sites and villages to designate an in-lieu-of temporary fishing spot for tribal fishing. The final 31st in-lieu-of fishing site, designated in 2013, did not provide any housing for tribal fishers.


    Lone Pine resident Ranetta Spino spends her nights on a couch outside her trailer because her whole family cannot fit inside.AP Images/Gosia Wozniacki

    The Corps issued a report acknowledging that the promises to build houses for displaced tribal members remain unfulfilled, The Oregonian reported in March. In addition, the newspaper reported, Native communities at tribal fishing sites continue to be in a state of disrepair. Moreover, most tribal fishing families live without sanitation or running water. (Celilo Village, finally updated beginning in 2006, is the rare exception.)

    The bill proposed by Oregon and Washington members of Congress would correct that. The first step, said Jeremy Red Star Wolf, chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), would be to provide clean water, basic sanitation and fire safety infrastructure for the sites.

    The legislation, introduced in both houses of Congress, highlights the importance of laying out a path for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to remedy many of the current problems. “We appreciate the delegation’s commitment and their multifaceted approach to addressing the problems and continuing to do so into the future,” Red Star Wolf said.

    The Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act calls upon the BIA to assess the current sanitation and safety conditions at the BIA-owned facilities that were constructed to provide treaty tribes access to traditional fishing grounds. It also recommends expenditures as necessary for actions to improve sanitation and other infrastructure such as water and sewer for the sites.

    “It is long past time that we honored our commitment to tribal members along the Columbia River, and this legislation is another step in the right direction,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon). “Tribal members shouldn’t have to live in unsafe or unsanitary conditions without running water or electricity.”

    CRITFC said it would work with the Corps, the BIA and the Treaty Tribes to improve conditions at the sites and address tribal fishers’ needs. In addition to Merkley and Wyden, legislators who are expected to be involved in the process are Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington).

    “Salmon fishing is an integral part of the Native American legacy, and this legislation aims to make long-overdue improvements to tribal fishing access rights while we work on the longer-term need for additional housing,” Murray said. “This is an important step toward honoring tribal rights.”

    Native Pride In Philadelphia

    Visibility in the proceedings, priorities behind the scenes


    White Earth citizen and Minnesota State Representative Peggy Flanagan spoke on the night of Clinton’s nomination.

    Editor’s Note: In contrast to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where they struggled for recognition, Native Americans were very much a part of its Democratic counterpart in Philadelphia last week. Native delegates and supporters plotted strategy, assessed their political goals and publicly held forth on the public stage.

    By all indications, the nation’s federally recognized tribal nations registered a record turnout. According to the Hillary Clinton campaign, among the 4,766 delegates were 147 American Indians. With a meeting of the Native American Council on July 25, the Native American Caucus on July 27, and inclusion in nearly every major speech, tribes were very much a presence. Native women in particular were part of the goings-on; former Tulalip vice chair Deborah Parker spearheaded the writing of the Native American plank.

    The Native delegates sought to build on progress dating from the first term of the Obama administration. “This year’s election has been tremendous for Indian people and there’s a momentum that just keeps growing with every convention,” said Kevin Killer (Oglala/Kiowa), a delegate from South Dakota. “Since ’08 it has grown and it’s good to see this many Native delegates in the process.”

    These dispatches reflect how that process worked in part during the last full week in July:

    * * *


    Stephen Roe Lewis, governor of the Gila River Indian Community, greeted legendary civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia). Suzette Brewer

    On the night that Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first female presidential candidate of a major party in U.S. history, White Earth citizen and Minnesota State Representative Peggy Flanagan addressed the Democratic National Convention from the podium.

    It was an emotional night across Indian Country as Flanagan spoke about her concerns regarding the negative campaign rhetoric from the Republican nominee toward American Indians. She also expressed her hopes for her own three-year-old daughter, Siobhan, to whom she read a letter from the podium.

    “Your name is not Pocahontas,” Flanagan said. “It is Siobhan Ma’iingan, and you should never let anyone make you feel anything less than proud of who you are.

    “Because, despite everything that has happened to our people, and no matter what Donald Trump says, we are still here. And I want you to grow up with our people’s values: honoring our elders, showing gratitude to our warriors, cherishing our children as gifts from the creator.”

    Immediately after her speech, Flanagan went to the convention floor to find her mentor, Cecilia Fire Thunder, former president of the Oglala Lakota Tribe of South Dakota.

    “I had to find Cecilia, because I know how hard she worked and fought so I could stand on this stage,” said Flanagan, wiping a tear. “It means so much that we were invited to be here on the last night of the convention, when Hillary will be accepting the nomination. It took so much work from so many people and I’m truly honored and humbled to be a part of it.”

    Back home in Minnesota, Flanagan wants to continue harnessing the energy from the convention to advocate for Natives both rural and urban. “For the first time ever, we have organized an urban Native coalition to move an agenda to move policy in the state house. As we move forward, we want to make sure the Native people of Minnesota are seen and that urban Natives also have a voice because there’s a lot of work to do in ensuring that they have a quality of life.”

    Flanagan noted that Susan Allen (Rosebud) is the only other Native in the Minnesota State House, but that two other women, Mary Kunesh-Podein (Standing Rock Lakota) and Jamie Becker Finn (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe), are running for seats this fall. Not to mention Chilah Brown (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe), who is running for the state senate.

    “For the first time ever, we will have a Native American caucus in Minnesota,” said Flanagan. “And along with our new state Supreme Court Justice Anne McKeig, it is a great push forward for the tribes in Minnesota.”

    For Flanagan, in short, the political is very much the personal.

    “At the end of my speech, my husband sent me a picture of my three-year-old daughter watching me on television. That’s why I do what I do.”


    Panel speakers at the Native American Council on first day of DNC included, from left, Charles Galbraith (Navajo), Rion Ramirez (Saquamish), Jodi Gillette (Standing Rock Sioux) and Kimberly Teehee (Cherokee).Suzette Brewer

    Drawing hundreds of members from tribal nations, the Native American Council met on July 25 at the DNC to discuss progress made under the Obama administration and to talk about continuing that work. Attendees met with party officials, former White House policy advisors and members of Congress.

    The proceedings featured a panel discussion that included three tribal members who have worked in the Obama administration. They were former Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement Charles Galbraith (Navajo) and White House Domestic Policy Council senior policy advisors for Native American Affairs Kimberly Teehee (Cherokee) and Jodi Gillette (Standing Rock Sioux).

    The panel praised Obama’s respect of tribal governments as partners and collaborators on such pressing issues as infrastructure, housing, education, healthcare and child welfare. But they also emphasized maintaining a “high level” of congressional engagement and policymaking.

    “The idea is to support life [in Native communities] and to have every tool possible so that Indian people can achieve their part of the American dream and live according to their beliefs in wholeness and respect,” Gillette told the standing room only audience. “But we have to set the expectations now. Because even though we’ve made a lot of progress, we still have a lot of problems in Indian country, including drugs, violence, poor housing and inadequate healthcare. We haven’t gone far enough, so what began with Obama must continue.”

    The key issue was a call to action to get out the vote among Native American voters in November. To that end, staff members from the National Congress of American Indians handed out pamphlets to promote its Every Native Vote Counts initiative.

    Other speakers included Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-California) and Mike Honda (D-California), as well as the legendary civil rights leader John Lewis (D-Georgia), who encouraged the audience to involve itself in the electoral process.

    “This is your land, but we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters,” Lewis said. “We must teach our children, all of our children, the way of peace, the way of love, the way of non-violence. Be hopeful, be optimistic, be happy―and never, ever give up.”


    Shawn Bordeaux (Oglala Lakota) introduced the South Dakota delegation that put Hillary Clinton over the top. Suzette Brewer

    At the roll call of states on July 26, Oglala Lakota tribal member and South Dakota delegate Shawn Bordeaux introduced his delegation in the Lakota language. His state then cast 15 of its 25 votes to clinch the nomination of Hillary Clinton.

    “The fact that the South Dakota state delegation was introduced in the Lakota language is something that I’ll always remember,” said delegate Kevin Killer (Oglala/Kiowa).

    Bordeaux, one of four American Indian delegates in the 28-member South Dakota delegation, was asked by the party to introduce his compatriots.

    “It was an honor, it was exciting and it was historic,” said Bordeaux, one of only two Native American state representatives in the state legislature. “It showed that our party is one that cares about all the people, including American Indians, who are usually not included in the national dialogue. But it shows that we are gaining momentum and that we have important things to say.”

    Now that the convention is over, Bordeaux is turning his attention to the election. One of the hardest issues within Indian country regarding the electoral process, he said, is voter apathy.

    “It’s often difficult to get people engaged in the state, local and national elections,” said Bordeaux. “Many times, they’re not even registered. So we have to get people registered to vote, because there’s a lot of work to do and I want to get our community engaged in getting out the vote.”



    Construction work for this project includes a new building 54,000 square feet with two towers joined by a glass and steel atrium and related site work. The North Tower is three stories while the South Tower is two stories with finished storage space in attic. Energy efficient elements of this project include ground-mounted solar PV and ground source heat pumps.

    The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe utilizes “Procore” construction project management software for viewing and downloading copies of the Bid Documents.

    Interested bidders are to contact Grants & Contracts Office by e-mail:,
    or tel. (518) 358-2272, to be added to bidders list for this project.

    Preference in the award of the Contract shall be given to Native American/Alaska Native organizations and economic enterprises.  Any contractor claiming Native American/Alaska Native Preference shall give evidence, as required by the Owner, to support this at least one week prior to bid opening.  All preferences shall be announced prior to the bid opening.

    Department of Interior
    Bureau of Indian Education
    Cheyenne-Eagle Butte School
    P.O. Box 672
    Eagle Butte, SD 57625

    The Cheyenne-Eagle Butte is advertising the following positions
    for the 2016/2017 School Year on

    • Teacher (Mathematics)–High School
      (2 positions)
    • Teacher (Science)–High School
      (2 positions)
    • Teacher (Science)–Jr. High School
    • Teacher (Special Education)–Primary School
    • Teacher (Elementary)–Primary School
      (2 positions)

    For qualification and/or more information go to

    AVCP Chief Executive Officer – Bethel, Alaska

    AVCP is recruiting for the Chief Executive Officer position.

    Experience in non-profit senior management is required.

    AVCP employs Federal Law (PL 96-638) which allows for Alaska Native/American Indian preference in hiring. The full job description is located in the employment section of

    To submit your resume and cover letter contact Deborah L. White, HR Director at

    907-543-7308 or email

    The Week in Photos

    Jason Fanson/The Canadian Press

    An oil spill of more than 50,000 gallons fouled the North Saskatchewan River system on July 2.


    Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits marched in this year’s 46th annual SF LGBT Pride Parade.

    Courtesy Montreal First Peoples Festival

    Indian Dance” is by Sylvain Rivard (Abenaki), whose work will be featured at the Montreal First People’s Festival.


    The logo for the Lake Erie Warriors, a new National College Prospects Hockey League team, is being attacked on social media.

    Headlines from the Web

    Upcoming Events


    August 9-11: Fairness In Justice
    The 33rd Alaska Tribal Court Development Conference will feature current issues and recent developments affecting Alaska tribal courts and tribal jurisdiction. The event is intended for tribes that are pursuing current and relevant tribal court training. It also provides information to tribes that are just beginning to develop their own tribal courts and to those seeking to expand or to modify tribal court operations. Judges, elders, practitioners and other speakers will discuss the tribal court role in supporting restorative justice; addressing alcohol and drug abuse in the villages; and protecting Alaska Native children, elders, and vulnerable adults. Other topics include tribal-state collaboration in criminal matters and fairness and impartiality in tribal court proceedings.
    Location: Westmark Hotel, Fairbanks, Alaska

    August 9-11: AI/AN National Behavioral Health Conference
    The premier conference devoted to American Indian/Alaska Native behavioral health will offer presentations from nationally recognized speakers, providers, tribal leaders and healthcare officials. The more than three dozen sessions will include “Families For Life,” ”Syringe Exchange Programs in Native Communities,” “The Implications of Historical Trauma,” “Effective Substance Abuse Prevention in American Indian Communities,” “Connecting the Dots: How Recovery Support Services Improve Treatment Outcomes,” and “Hope, Health and Healing: A First Nations Approach to Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention.”
    Location: Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront, Portland, Oregon

    August 10-11: Wyoming Native American Education Conference
    The seventh annual conference will afford participants the opportunity to acquire tools for engaging and improving the achievement of their students; reach at-risk or traumatized children and the unique needs of American Indian pupils; and understand myths that underlie much learning about Native American history. “Creating Culturally Responsive Space for Learning to Take Place,” “Career Development in Schools,” “Whispers in the Wind: The Message of the Ancestors,” “Native American Identity: An Educational Crisis,” “Lies My teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus” and “How to Get Students Excited About History” will be among the approximately 50 sessions.
    Location: Central Wyoming College, Riverton, Wyoming

    August 11-14: Association of American Indian Physicians Conference
    “Indian Health 360: The Spectrum of Care” is the theme of the AAIP’s 45th annual meeting and national health conference. In addition to lectures, discussions, a plenary session and panels, the conference will offer mixers, retreats, exhibits, concerts, and business and executive board meetings. There will be two pre-conference workshops: “Data Into Action” will focus on using data to conduct community needs assessments in American Indian communities and provide data for grant opportunities; “Prevention and Treatment of Opiate Use Disorder” will provide specific knowledge and skills associated with the safe prescribing of opioids.
    Location: Marriott City Center, Oakland, California

    Letters to the Editor

    Re Terese Marie Mailhot’s epiphany in regard to the diversity of white people (“Journey to Starbucks: A White Way of Knowledge,” July 17):

    I once visited the American Indian Program at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. There is a gorge across from the campus. My fellow Mohawks and I took a secluded spot in the rocky spillway to commune with Mother Earth.

    Then we noticed a regular pattern of white folks who would come and conduct secret ceremonies. They would disrobe and then dance in and out of the water trickling down the falls until they turned the proper shade of pink. We called this ritual the “Dance of the Pink Bunny Rabbits.”

    They would then put on their clothes and leave—only to be replaced by another group of white folks ready to perform the ritual Dance of the Pink Bunny Rabbit.

    It was fascinating.

    —Alex Jacobs
    Santa Fe, New Mexico



    Top News Alerts


    Oklahoma has passed a new law, to go into effect in November, which requires anyone who markets arts and crafts as “Indian” to be a member of a federally recognized tribe. The new law, HB2261, differs from the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act in that it does not apply to members of state-recognized tribes. The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, representing the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee and Seminole Nations, supported the measure.


    A Pennsylvania man arrested in 2014 for hanging an American flag upside-down on his porch and spray-painting it with the acronym for the American Indian Movement (AIM) has been awarded a settlement of $55,844. Joshua Brubaker of Allegheny Township made his statement after learning of the sale of the Wounded Knee massacre site. After a Blair County judge ruled that Brubaker was merely exercising his First Amendment rights, the ACLU sued the township on his behalf.


    The Hannahville Indian Community of Michigan has named the second golf course at its Island Resort and Casino “Sage Run.” “We selected ‘sage’ because we wanted to highlight another of four traditional tribal medicines—along with cedar, tobacco and sweet grass,” said casino manager and tribal member Tony Mancilla. “The word ‘run’ in the name references the 10 holes that traverse significantly downhill.” Sage Run, to be located some six miles from the casino, will complement the Sweetgrass Golf Club, which is located at the casino.


    Dozens of Pokémon Go players have been gathering in search of virtual monsters at the sacred Lheidli T’enneh burial ground in Prince George, British Columbia, drawing complaints from Kym Gouchi, whose ancestors are buried there. “This is the only little piece of land inside Prince George that is ours, and you are disrespecting it,” she said, CBC reported. “This game has only been live in Canada for one week. It’s only a matter of time before that burial site is filled with Pokémon Go people.”


    Gaming tribes in Oklahoma have paid the state more than $1.3 billion in the past decade, according to the latest report of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association. “Oklahoma does it better than almost anywhere in the country in terms of keeping their floors fresh,” American Gaming Systems Vice President of Slot Products Andrew Burke told “Casinos here are not scared to invest in their gaming and floors and that’s very important for the long-term viability of the business.”


    How Did I Miss That?

    Killer space probes, Will Rogers on dogs and New Jersey’s formidable rubber duck


    Photo courtesy Steve Russell Steve Russell reported that Crime Stoppers of Hunterdon County posted a $250 reward for information concerning the disappearance of Clinton, the Garden State’s rubber ducky. The missing bird looks like every other yellow rubber ducky floating in your child’s bathtub—except that it’s a bit larger than a Volkswagen.

    It was last seen floating in the Raritan River near the Hunterdon Art Museum at 10 p.m. July 17. There have been no ransom demands.

    No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the ducknapping, but authorities pointed out that a Statue of Liberty floating in the same part of the river also disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

    “There is no truth to the rumor,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller cautioned, “that the rubber ducky failed to endorse Chris Christie.”

    * * *

    There appeared to be one less federal job when New Scientist reported that NASA has licensed the Curiosity rover, prowling the surface of Mars since 2012, to open fire with its laser cannon without a command by a human operator. The laser is connected to ChemCam, an instrument tasked to determine the chemical composition of rocks. ChemCam zaps rocks and analyzes the gases released.

    “E.T.,” Cousin Ray shouted, “phone 911!”

    * * *

    China appears to be spoiling for a fight over a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that China has no historic claim to the South China Sea—where the Chinese have been building artificial islands and claiming extraterritorial jurisdictions around them.

    * * *

    The Hacker News reported that a “bug bounty program” announced two months ago by PornHub paid its first bounty to a team of three researchers who uncovered a method to either pirate user data or run malware on the mammoth pornography site. The hackers got a total of $22,000 for disclosing the vulnerability.

    Cousin Ray was impressed. “A porn site pays hackers less to avoid hacking than a bank pays for advertising false claims that it can’t be hacked. Seriously?”

    * * *

    The Defense Department has updated its manual called Law of War to clarify that reporters are noncombatants and entitled to the same protections as other civilians caught in a war zone.

    “There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray reminded me, “that the new rule does not apply to Geraldo Rivera.”

    * * *

    HuffPost reprinted a photo essay documenting the last day in the life of Duke, a black Lab who was suffering from bone cancer. Duke’s family made that call dreaded by those of us who keep companion animals: They had to identify the point where his quality of life was gone. But Duke’s people went one step further and filled his last hours with all the things that gave him joy. Everybody who has known a Lab recognizes the perpetual puppy in its temperament, and Duke was channeling his inner puppy throughout the process.

    The pictures are bittersweet because they bring back memories of the four-legged friends who have enriched my life. I tried to help them walk on with more dignity than we typically allow human beings. Like human beings, each one was a distinct personality.

    I agree with my favorite Cherokee, Will Rogers, who said, “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

    * * *

    CNN commentator Scottie Nell Hughes described Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s speech at a Florida rally as “divisive” because he delivered it in Spanish. Hughes told Wolf Blitzer, “I didn’t have to get a translator for anything that was going on at the RNC this week.”

    Apparently, Hughes missed GOP Sen. Ralph Alvarado’s speech to the Republican National Convention. She did admit that Melania Trump speaks five languages, but Ms. Trump was deemed polite enough to hide her language ability.

    “English,” Cousin Ray reminded me, “was good enough for Jesus.”

    He went on to speculate that Hughes would have really gone ballistic if a candidate broke into Navajo or Cherokee or any other Indigenous tongue.

    Upcoming Pow Wows


    Upper Sioux Pejuhutazizi Oyate Wacipi Pow Wow

    5722 Travers Lane
    Granite Falls, MN

    Rocky Boy’s Annual Pow Wow

    31 Agency Square
    Box Elder, MT

    Menominee Nation 50th Annual Contest Pow Wow

    Woodland Bowl
    Keshena, WI
    715-799-5114 ex 1267

    Healing Mother Earth 8th Annual Intertribal Pow Wow

    Fischer’s Pine Lake
    3924 Maple Road
    Jefferson, OH

    Sierra Mono Museum Indian Fair Days and Pow Wow

    33507 Road 230
    North Fork, CA

    Prophetstown 10th Annual Pow Wow

    Prophetstown State Recreation Area
    Park Avenue and River Drive
    Prophetstown, IL

    Bear Mountain Pow Wow

    Anthony Wayne Recreation Area
    Harriman, NY

    Annual Shawnee Woodland Pow Wow

    Zane Shawnee Caverns
    7092 State Route 540
    Bellefontaine, OH

    Heart Butte Pow Wow

    26 miles south of Browning
    Heart Butte, MT

    Intertribal Indian 95th Annual Ceremonial Pow Wow

    206 West Coal Avenue
    Gallup, NM

    Shoshone-Bannock 53rd Annual Festival and Pow Wow

    Fort Hall
    Agency Road
    Fort Hall, ID

    Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa

    Powwow Grounds
    349 Meskwaki Road
    Tama, Iowa

    Omak Stampede Indian Encampment

    401 Omak Avenue
    Omak, WA

    Meskwaki 102nd Annual Pow Wow

    349 Meskwaki Road
    Tama, IA
    641-484-4678 or 641-481-5027

    Association of American Indian Physicians Meeting and Health 45th Annual Conference Pow Wow

    10200 Quil Ceda Boulevard
    Tulalip, WA

    Sacramento Contest 22nd Annual Pow Wow

    715 Broadway
    Sacramento, CA

    Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Annual Pow Wow

    88915 521st Avenue
    Niobrara, NE

    Nesika Illahee Pow Wow

    402 Northeast Park Drive
    Siletz, OR
    800-922-1399, ext. 1230

    Mohican Veterans 39th Annual Pow Wow

    Many Trails Park
    MohHeConNuck Road
    Bowler, WI

    Mihsihkinaahkwa Pow Wow

    1035 E. State Road 205
    Columbia City, IN

    Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Fair and Pow Wow

    187 Oyate Circle
    Lower Brule, SD

    Grand Portage Rendezvous Days Celebration Pow Wow

    170 Mile Creek Road
    Grand Portage, MN

    Stillaguamish Festival of the River and Pow Wow

    20416 Jordan Road
    Arlington, WA

    Robert Canada Friendship Pow Wow

    22215 Elaine Street
    Hawaiian Gardens, CA

    Odawa 25th Annual Homecoming Pow Wow

    7500 Odawa Circle
    Harbor Springs, MI

    Mother Earth’s Creation Pow Wow

    2145 White Mountain Highway
    Center Ossipee, NH

    Hawaii Island All Nations 4th Annual Pow Wow

    Keaukaha Hawaiian Village Beach Park
    Kalanaianaole Avenue
    Hilo, HI

    Attean Family Pow Wow

    56 Game Farm Road
    Gray, ME

    Sipayik 51st Anniversary Indian Day Celebration

    Route 190
    Pleasant Point Indian Reservation
    Perry, ME


    The Big Picture

    Lakota Chief David Beautiful Bald Eagle, who appeared in Dances With Wolves and over 40 other films, has walked on at age 97. david bald eagle facebook