Issue 32, August 17, 2016

    A Letter from the Publisher


    Shekóli. The Eagle and the Condor Prophecy is not something that is taught in school but it probably should be. Perhaps one day it will be.

    With Incan and Amazonian roots, the ancient tradition speaks to a reunification of the Western Hemisphere, or what Natives refer to as Turtle Island. The eagle is said to represent North America, and embodies masculine strength and energy. The condor represents the southern continent and embraces feminine energy. The tradition holds that for 500 years, the eagle and condor would fly separately, coinciding with the turmoil and devastation of colonizing forces. By all accounts, that era is now coming to a close.

    The new era is one in which the eagle and the condor will fly together and restore balance to what we now call the Americas. At the first Continental Encounter of Indigenous Pueblos and Nations in Quito, Ecuador—a multinational gathering of Native leaders—it was envisioned to help craft a quadrennial event to draw attention to the Eagle and the Condor principle. The Peace and Dignity Journeys, as they are called, involve teams of runners starting at the most northern and southern ends of the hemisphere, eventually joining each other at a midpoint (this year it is the Kuna Nation in Panama). ICTMN’s story about the conclusion of the East Coast leg is this week’s lead feature.

    The Peace and Dignity Journey is one manifestation and interpretation of the Eagle and the Condor Prophecy. While Indigenous teachings can often be exaggerated by New Agers or dismissed outright by Western culture, there are many practical aspects to what is truly a far-sighted prediction. After a period of intense colonization in both hemispheres, Indigenous Nations have come together to understand the power of alliances. There are many communities to the south that need not suffer through what their northern brothers and sisters went through. Bonding with each other and the Indigenous peoples in the United States who are mislabeled as Hispanics, and appealing to international law, are a means to protecting our sovereign, natural and legal rights to self-governance. They are also ways to end destructive policies toward the earth and healthy lifestyles.

    Bilingual, Spanish-speaking Indigenous communities need our support, and the Eagle and the Condor principle is the lens through which we may envision a brighter future.

    NΛ ki wa,

    Ray Halbritter


    Two Countries, Two Genocides

    While reminding Germany of its Holocaust, writes Elicia Goodsoldier, we would do well to remember our own:

    On June 7, by a unanimous vote of 363-0, the House passed H.R. 129, which urges Germany to reaffirm its financial commitment to address the health and welfare needs of Holocaust survivors. The irony of this resolution is that Adolf Hitler studied many of our federal Indian policies as models for how he would deal with the Jews.

    Hitler studied the plans of Bosque Redondo, the concentration camp where over 8,000 Navajo men, women and children were sent after the Long Walk in 1864. Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Toland wrote in his book Adolf Hitler, “Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He . . . often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination—by starvation and uneven combat—of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.”

    Hitler studied how the Native population rapidly declined through starvation and disease when placed on reservations. There are many parallels one can draw between Nazi and American Indian history—including death marches of Jewish people to concentration camps and the Navajo Long Walk and the many Native American Trails of Tears. David E. Stannard, author of American Holocaust, argues that the genocide against the American Indian population was the largest in history.

    I am elated that the U.S. government has urged Germany to take responsibility for its history and further the care of Holocaust survivors. I wonder when we will do the same for the victims and descendants of our own genocide campaign.

    Somebody’s Watching Me . . . And Maybe You

    Native imprisonment and containment can take many forms, writes Ruth Hopkins:

    As a reservation Indian descended from exiles who went to war against the federal government, I have been under surveillance my entire life. I was born at an old military fort on tribal land—Fort Yates, North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. I grew up around other old military forts on reservations that were formerly prison camps. Like Fort Sisseton, South Dakota, on the Lake Traverse Reservation. And Fort Totten, North Dakota, on the Spirit Lake Nation Reservation.

    The military installations that surrounded us were not put in place to protect or assist my ancestors. They were put there to contain us. We were enemies of the state. Until I went off to college, I never realized the depth and breadth of how different my upbringing was from that of the typical American youth. Outsiders read these stories at a comfortable distance; to me, history is alive.

    The Indian knows the government’s games. We’ve watched politicians fly in and out of our territories for photo ops during election season, only to disappear once it’s all over. We’ve seen the insidious workings of governmental organizations like COINTELPRO, who labored tirelessly to tear down Red Power and the American Indian Movement. Leonard Peltier, a Native political prisoner, fellow Dakota, and elder, remains behind bars despite calls for his release. We see the black cars and agents at protests today. I know the history of lies and deceit.

    So forgive me if I don’t trust the government. Pardon me if I choose not to get into bed with the establishment.

    What’s Wrong With ‘Takedown’

    Charles Kader finds the new book Takedown (Forge) by undercover police officer Jeff Buck, who investigated drug use in the Akwesasne Mohawk territory and elsewhere, sorely lacking:

    I took great offense at Buck’s broad brushstroke in demonizing the residents of Akwesasne. His claims that 80 percent of the community is illicit smugglers lack any citation. He repeats the unfounded claim that 9/11 hijackers passed through the international border in 2001. He also claims that elected Mohawk tribal leaders are behind the criminal tide engulfing this disputed area. Yet no basis for prosecution is offered.

    Equally off base is Buck slamming the Mohawk tribe and their website for claiming to be building a better tomorrow. The paragraph is as disparaging as any in the book.

    I cannot describe Takedown as a traditional law enforcement viewpoint volume, such as Joseph Wambaugh’s The New Centurions or Peter Maas’ biography of Frank Serpico. Instead, Takedown is a running account of the incrementally dominant asset forfeiture process upon which the American criminal justice system currently gorges.

    But no forfeiture of Indian-titled land has ever taken place in Akwesasne. There is no Indian land available to be taken for any reason. Too much land has already been lost. In the case of Akwesasne, our ancestors are buried under our feet. No crime or legal infraction can justify the loss of the collective right to this land.

    In a perfect world, law and order zealots like Jeff Buck would be invaluable in addressing the dispossession of Native original land base territories. In Takedown, Buck thought he could still do it to the Mohawks. And there, like the book, is where he failed.

    ICT News


    Grand Ronde Disenrollment Reversed by Tribal Court

    A court of the Grand Ronde Tribe of Oregon last week reversed the disenrollment of 66 tribal members. All are living lineal descendants of Chief Tumulth, signatory of the 1855 Treaty with the Kalapuya, which established the Grand Ronde Reservation.

    Classified as “provisionally disenrolled” in July of 2014, the members were stripped of almost all tribal privileges, including the right to vote. But on August 5, a three-judge Court of Appeals panel restored the 66 descendants as tribal members. They now hope that full status will be finalized immediately, allowing them to vote in the upcoming tribal council elections set for September 10.

    “This ruling is incredible news that we hope sets a new precedent for not only our tribe but also for all tribes engaged in the self-destructive practice of disenrollment,” said spokesperson Russell Wilkinson. “This is the first ruling in our case that was issued by Native judges—and that made the difference.”

    “This is a watershed decision for all of Indian country,” said lead defense counsel Gabriel S. Galanda. “Longtime tribal members can take comfort in this opinion—it protects them against a belated, politically motivated assault on their existence.”

    On technical grounds, however, the appeals court ruled that the “heirs, next-of-kin and lineal descendants” of six deceased Grand Ronde members who were posthumously disenrolled without notice in 2014 could not challenge on the deceased’s behalf.

    “While we remain devastated for our ancestors,” Wilkinson said, “and it is unfathomable that they have been disenrolled from the next life, we are overjoyed and blessed that our disenrollments have been resolved in a fair and just way.”

    Nine Former Winnebago Tribal Council Members Indicted

    A federal grand jury has indicted former Winnebago Tribal Chairman John Blackhawk and eight other former tribal council members on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, and theft and misapplication of funds belonging to an Indian gaming establishment. The charges—against Blackhawk, Darwin Snyder, Thomas Snowball Jr., Louis Houghton, Lawrence Payer, Travis Mallory, Charles Aldrich, Morgan Earth and Ramona Wolfe—were handed down on July 20.

    The nine allegedly “devised, executed and aided and abetted the execution of a plan to receive additional funds directly from the WinneVegas Casino without accounting for same payroll through the payroll department of the Winnebago Tribe,” said a statement by Deborah R. Gilg, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nebraska. Moreover, the plan was executed “without approving the distribution of such funds at a regular meeting of the tribal council.”

    The indictment alleges that each defendant received a salary in excess of $80,00 in 2013 and $87,000 in 2014. The 2013 salaries were retroactively applied to October 1, 2012 and resulted in lump sum payments for each tribal council member of various amounts. Allegedly, the defendants received five separate bonuses and were paid for unused vacation time. Defendants Aldrich, Blackhawk, Houghton, Payer and Snyder allegedly received pay for continuous employment.

    These distributions were reportedly paid in the form of gift certificates issued by the casino and multiple loads to pre-paid debit cards paid for by the casino. In total, the WinneVegas Casino lost $327,500 through the scheme.

    The defendants could face prison terms of up to 20 years.

    Amnesty International And First Nations Condemn Dam Construction In British Columbia

    Amnesty International has joined First Nations in condemning Ottawa’s recent approval of key permits to allow the controversial Site C dam to go forward in British Columbia. The permits were issued by the departments of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada.

    The project will provide approximately 5,100 gigawatt hours of electricity each year—“enough energy to power the equivalent of about 450,000 homes per year,” according to BC Hydro, the company building the facility.

    But First Nations critics charge that in allowing construction, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is betraying campaign promises to support indigenous rights, cultivate a nation-to-nation relationship, and promote reconciliation. More than 60 miles of the Peace River and its tributaries, encompassing traditional territories of numerous First Nations, would be flooded by the massive project, opponents say.

    “Rather than respecting the treaty rights of Prophet River and West Moberly and the legal process by pausing or even slowing down site preparation and construction, the Trudeau government, like cowardly, thuggish thieves in the dark, quietly issued federal permits before a long weekend to allow for the acceleration of construction,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) on July 29.

    Amnesty International registered its opposition with a 20-page report issued on August 9, the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. “If Canada truly wishes to be a global leader in protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, “it has no choice but to halt construction of the Site C dam.”

    “We’ve never said no to the production of energy,” said Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations, in the Amnesty statement. “We’ve said, let’s protect the valley. It’s the last piece of our backyard that’s relatively untouched.”

    ICT News

    Gangs, Prostitution And Meth Combine In Indian Country, Study Says


    Organized criminal gangs are targeting tribal casinos to facilitate drug sales and sex trafficking, and large, non-Native organizations with international ties are distributing the drugs, a new study asserts.

    The study, “The Nature, Extent, and Effects of Trafficking, Distribution, and Use of Methamphetamine and Other Dangerous Drugs in Indian Country: Perceptions from Providers in Ten Western Tribes,” is being published with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services. It draws on numerous interviews with law enforcement and social service providers.

    Seventy percent of respondents reported that casinos in tribal jurisdictions were being targeted for drug deals and sex trafficking. High rates of larceny, burglary, sexual assault, child and elderly abuse and sex trafficking were associated with the distribution and use of methamphetamine in Indian country.

    “Meth is unlike any other drug because of the harm it inflicts on people other than the user,” said head researcher Amy Proctor (Eherokee), a criminal justice professor at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. “Meth use is destroying entire generations of Native Americans.”

    In one instance, Proctor said, a tribe tested its housing for methamphetamine contamination and found that 30 percent of the units were contaminated and uninhabitable because of the smoke that had seeped into the walls, ceilings and carpets. Drug users had also pillaged the units for their metal components so they could sell pieces to buy drugs.

    The meth cartels, Proctor said, also conduct human trafficking and prostitution: “They will develop romantic relationships with Native women and oftentimes move into their homes located on reservations and begin to deal drugs to tribal members.”

    In one case, a 13-year-old girl was raped by her brother and two friends and was hatcheted on the head. She survived but lost motor skills. “The offenders were 14 years old,” the report stated.

    Bill To Protect Sacred Objects Is Introduced In Senate


    Preventing and more harshly punishing the export and sale of sacred objects are the goals of the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act, a Senate bill that was introduced last month by Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico).

    The bill would increase penalties for criminal violations of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Among other terms, the bill would sentence offenders to a maximum of 10 years in prison instead of five; give two years of amnesty for returning illegally acquired objects; ask the U.S. Government Accountability Office for a report on illegally trafficked objects; and form a tribal working group for implementing the report’s recommendations.

    The STOP Act would also prohibit the export of any object obtained in violation of NAGPRA, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, or the Antiquities Act. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) announced he would co-sponsor the legislation; his colleagues Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) also voiced support.

    The bill was introduced five weeks after a controversial sale of sacred tribal objects at the EVE Auction House in Paris on May 31. The sale of an Acoma shield was halted following reports that it may have been stolen; however, other sacred objects were sold despite federal and tribal efforts to stop the process.

    The bill has been endorsed by the Pueblo of Acoma and the Navajo Nation, as well as the Jicarilla Apache, Santa Ana, Isleta, Zuñi, Laguna, Nambé, Jemez, and Ohkay Owingeh. The All Pueblo Council of Governors, the National Congress of American Indians and the United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund have also signaled support.

    Yakama Slam EPA Portland Harbor Superfund Cleanup Plan


    The Yakama Nation has objected to a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan for the cleanup of the Portland Harbor Superfund site that does not include remediation of the lower Columbia River.

    While the plan proposes to clean up eight percent of the contaminated Willamette River site in Portland, it proposes natural recovery as a solution for swaths of the river. It also ignores the presence of toxic chemicals that flow from the Willamette directly into the lower Columbia River into areas fished by the river’s treaty fishing tribes, the Yakama have charged.

    Yakama Nation officials registered their disapproval when they met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in Washington, D.C. on July 25. At the meeting, they urged the agency to do more to ensure that fish downstream from the Portland Harbor Superfund site are protected and safe to eat.

    “The cleanup of Portland Harbor is absolutely critical to ensuring that the Yakama people have healthy fish that is safe to feed our families,” said Gerald Lewis, chair of the Yakama Nation Tribal Council’s Fish & Wildlife Committee. “The EPA must do more to uphold our treaty fishing rights which have been repeatedly affirmed by the highest courts of the land.”

    According to the EPA proposal, the contamination at the site poses unacceptable risks to human health and the environment because of the presence of a variety of toxic contaminants. The document cites 64 contaminants at the site.

    ICT News

    Standing Rock Sioux File Suit Over Dakota Access Pipeline Approval

    The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for allowing construction of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline to go forward.

    The $3.4 billion, 1,168-mile-long pipeline “travels through the Tribe’s ancestral lands,” the tribe said in a statement released via the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice, “and passes within half a mile of its current reservation.”

    The tribe filed its complaint in federal court in Washington, D.C. on July 27, charging that the Corps failed to examine its objections and overlooked the pipeline’s potential impact on ancestral lands. The Standing Rock Sioux also noted that the Corps declined recommendations by three federal agencies—the EPA, the Interior Department and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation—that a full environmental review be conducted.

    “The Corps puts our water and the lives and livelihoods of many in jeopardy,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II. “We have laws that require federal agencies to consider environmental risks and protection of Indian historic and sacred sites. But the Army Corps has ignored all those laws and fast-tracked this massive project just to meet the pipeline’s aggressive construction schedule.”

    On August 1, five days after the suit was filed, several fires that authorities said were intentionally set torched about $1 million worth of equipment at three points along the route in Iowa, one of the four states the pipeline will traverse. “It’s a shameful act by a group of people trying to disrupt our energy security and independence,” Dakota Access officials told the Associated Press.

    Charges Filed Against Men Assisting Santee Sioux Marijuana Venture


    Charges have been filed against two men who assisted the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe in growing marijuana for a proposed cannabis resort. The accused, who are associated with the Colorado-based marijuana company Monarch America, Inc., are charged with conspiracy to grow the drug.

    Eric Hagen, former president of Monarch America, was indicted on one count each of possession, attempted possession, and conspiracy to possess more than 10 pounds of marijuana. Vice President Jonathan Hunt has been charged with conspiracy to possess marijuana. The South Dakota attorney general’s office announced the indictments on August 3.

    The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe had contracted with Monarch America in 2015 after the tribe legalized marijuana. The tribe’s legalization followed the release of the Justice Department “Cole Memorandum,” which outlined marijuana legalization for federally recognized tribes. With the assistance of Hagen and Hunt, the tribe began growing over 50 marijuana strains in September 2015, intending to open the nation’s first-ever marijuana resort on December 31, 2015. However, plans were scrapped when the tribe received threats of a federal raid. On November 7, 2015, the project came to a halt as the tribe burned its crop.

    While the Flandreau Santee Sioux may be authorized to legalize marijuana for tribal members within its reservation’s jurisdictional boundaries, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley told ICTMN, non-tribal members have no authority to possess or conspire to grow cannabis in the state.

    “This went beyond the borders of the tribe,” he said. “When you put together an open plan about consumption, about producing upwards of 300 pounds of marijuana a month, and that consumption would involve consumption lounges that has impaired driving, that creates public safety issues.”

    Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Will Tour Canada This Fall

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit Canada, for the second time, this fall, following their acceptance of an invitation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Governor General David Johnston’s office announced the visit on July 27. The royal couple had previously toured the country from June 30 to July 8, 2011.

    On that occasion, the duke and duchess stopped in five provinces; their visit took them to Montréal, Québec City, Charlottetown, Summerside, Yellowknife, Slave Lake and Calgary. There they met with Indigenous representatives, toured the fire-ravaged town of Slave Lake (population 7,000) and helped celebrate Canada Day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. They also embraced lessons in living off the land.

    There was no indication that they would again meet with Indigenous Peoples. However, Prime Minister Trudeau hinted at the possibility.

    “This Royal Tour,” he said in a statement, “also presents a unique opportunity for Canadians of all backgrounds to meet with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and learn more about our heritage, traditions, and institutions.”

    Kensington Palace also indicated possible Indigenous outreach. “The Duke and Duchess are delighted to be returning to Canada,” read an official statement. “They hold very happy memories from their visit in 2011—their first overseas tour as a married couple. They are really looking forward to seeing other parts of this beautiful country and having the opportunity to meet many more Canadians along the way.”

    The 2016 visit will mark the couple’s first to Canada as parents, CBC News noted.

    Notes Toward Tribal Definition

    With 146 acres, the Chowanoke are reclaiming their identity


    Bottom Line: In North Carolina, new recognition is dawning for a forgotten Algonquian people.

    Dovonya Chavis conducts a tour of the 146 acres that the Chowanoke of North Carolina recently acquired to help reestablish their cultural identity.

    Justin Petrone

    For nearly two centuries, the Chowanoke—an Algonquian people indigenous to northeastern North Carolina—were relegated to history books. Some experts considered them extinct.

    But Chowanoke descendants have lately reorganized and have purchased a 146-acre parcel of former reservation land that they hope to use as a base for cultural revitalization.

    Tribal member Duvonya Chavis recently offered a glimpse of the reclaimed property. Starting from the deserted streets of Gatesville, the county seat of Gates County, an isolated corner of North Carolina, she and a visitor proceeded down a country road straddled by swamp waters and cypress trees.

    This area, known locally as Indian Neck, used to be part of an 11,360-acre reservation set aside by colonial authorities in 1677 for the Chowanoke following a war with the colonists. Its remote location provided a refuge for a people who, at the time of contact with English explorers in the 16th century, were considered the most powerful Algonquian group in North Carolina. Estimates of their population were as high as several thousand people, with settlements on both sides of the Chowan River, including at Indian Neck, between Cole’s and Bennett’s Creeks.

    The Chowanoke feature prominently in the account of Sir Ralph Lane, who led one of the Roanoke colonies in 1585-1586 and kidnapped Skiko, the son of Chowanoke headman Menatonon, taking him hostage to Roanoke Island.

    But subsequent wars, epidemics and colonial encroachment decimated the tribe. Much of the original reservation was sold off during the 18th century. Tribal members lost the last 30-acre tract of communally held land in 1821. The Chowanoke seemed finished.

    However, in 2014, along with other Chowanoke, Chavis—a descendant of the men named on the old tribal land conveyances—repurchased 146 of their former acres. “I strategically wanted land that was right here on Bennett’s Creek,” said Chavis, “because it was just history.”

    The land is low, and you can feel the moisture in the soil with every step. Part of the parcel has been cleared, yet there is little apparent to the eye that this used to be the site of a Chowan Indian town. Chowanoke people did live here for generations, though, and some still reside near the site. Some married into the local European and African communities and lost touch with their Indian ancestry. Others, like Chavis, who was raised across the river in nearby Winton, retained their culture.

    “I am very sad about what has happened to American Indian people here along the East Coast,” she said. “We now have people who are Indian who do not even know they are really Indian by ancestry, though mentally they are some other race. I am very fortunate that my grandparents and my parents continued to tell us that we were Indian.”

    She referred to the efforts of authorities, notably Walter Plecker, the registrar of Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics in the early 20th century, to have all Indian people reclassified in official documents as black. “It is now my passion to get our people reorganized to the point where we start to regrow and repopulate and live the cultural experience that we used to have,” she said. To accomplish this, the Chowanoke envision a cultural and meeting center, as well as nature trails.

    This accords with the Chowanoke’s efforts to secure state and federal recognition. Some Chowanoke can trace their ancestry to the men named in the Chowan Indian land conveyances. But some were once members of the Meherrin Indian Tribe, headquartered across the Chowan River in Hertford County.

    Chavis now hopes that by maintaining their own property, the Chowanoke can reinforce their tribal identity among other descendants. “When you have a reservation,” she said, “at least the outside community will acknowledge that you are Indian. Once that reservation is gone, it’s almost like you have assimilated into society and you are no longer considered Indian. You are no longer called Indian once you lose your land.”

    Forest Hazel, the tribal historian for the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation in North Carolina, believes the acquisition of the land will be a “new beginning” for the Chowanoke.

    “Once the Chowanoke lost the last of their land, their non-Indian neighbors quickly relegated them to the category of ‘free people of color’,” he told ICTMN. “To their neighbors, their identity as Native people, as Chowanoke, was tied to their possession of a distinct piece of tribal land. This newly acquired piece of old reservation land should serve as an outward sign of the reestablishment of a Native presence in the Gates County area.”

    Action On The Missing

    Commission promises an ‘unflinching gaze’

    Bottom Line: A commission to investigate missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada has been announced. But will critics be satisfied?

    From left to right, the commissioners: Marion Buller, Michèle Audette, Qajaq Robinson, Marilyn Poitras and Brian Eyolfson.

    Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

    Indigenous leaders across Canada welcomed the August 3 announcement that named the five panelists who will conduct the long-awaited national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women. But some skeptics expressed reservations, ranging from an undefined scope to the inquiry to insufficient representation of northern peoples.

    Leading the inquiry as Chief Commissioner will be Marion Buller, Mistawasis (First Nation, Saskatchewan), who was the first female First Nations judge in British Columbia when she was appointed in 1994. The other commissioners are:

    • Michèle Audette (Mani Utenam, Québec), former president of the Québec Native Women’s Association;
    • Qajaq Robinson, born in Iqaluit, raised in Igloolik, and an associate at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP;
    • Constitutional and aboriginal law expert Marilyn Poitras, a Harvard-educated assistant professor at the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan; and
    • Human rights lawyer Brian Eyolfson, (Couchiching First Nation, Ontario), currently acting deputy director of the provincial Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs Legal Services department and former vice chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

    The federal government promised an “unflinching gaze” at the potentially uncomfortable truths that could emerge as the inquiry unfolds, said Minister of Status of Women Patty Hajdu. Hajdu, along with Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould, announced the commissioners and the parameters of the inquiry.

    Estimates of the number of Canadian aboriginal women who have gone missing or murdered vary. But a 2014 study by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police put the figure at nearly 1,200 between 1980 and 2012.

    The government has committed $53.86 million to the panel, which is set to convene on September 1, 2016 and conclude by December 31, 2018. Officials promised that the inquiry would “make recommendations on concrete actions to address and prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls, including systemic and societal discrimination.”

    Another $16.7 million will go to provincial and territorial governments over four years, CBC News reported, to fund family information liaison units in provinces and territories and to enhance victims’ services.

    Indigenous leaders lauded the move, expressing relief and hope that the preponderance of violence against Native women could finally see some resolution after many years.

    “Too many lives have been touched by this horrific national tragedy,” said Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Women’s Council Chair, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish. “It is important that the Government of Canada has finally responded to the call for a national inquiry.

    “Today’s announcement is a direct result of years of advocacy and tireless grassroots activism by our incredibly resilient women. I lift up our sisters for this work, and I stand with them as we embark on what is sure to be a difficult road ahead and a necessary path on our journey.”

    But Dawn Lavalle-Harvard, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), expressed multiple reservations. She was concerned that trauma counseling money seemed only allocated for the duration of a person’s appearance before the commission. She further felt that the inquiry’s parameters did not allow for families to reopen cases that they felt had been closed prematurely. And she believed that the role of provinces and territories was not spelled out explicitly.

    The Coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, formed during a previous inquiry in British Columbia, echoed these concerns. It called the new panel’s mandate “too vague.”

    “The Coalition is pleased that the federal government has mandated the Inquiry to examine systemic causes of violence and has taken into account the needs of vulnerable communities and witnesses,” the coalition stated. “However, given the importance and the promise of the Inquiry, we are deeply concerned about the gaps in the framework that stand to undermine the good intentions that have led to the formation of the Inquiry.”

    And the Nunavut government was dissatisfied by the lack of an Inuit representative on the panel.

    “The appointment of a northerner to the commission is encouraging,” said Nunavut’s Minister responsible for the Status of Women Monica Ell-Kanayuk and Minister of Justice Keith Peterson in a joint statement. “However, this is a deeply sensitive issue, and Inuk representation on the commission would have provided balance to directly reflect the culture and experiences of our communities.”

    A Joining Of Hemispheres

    The Peace and Dignity Journeys reflect a time before colonization


    Bottom Line: An ancient reunion prophecy finds new expression in a cross-continental endeavor.

    Kalaan Robert Nibronrix (Taino), a runner from Jamaica, greeted elder Chumsey Harjo (Muscogee Creek Nation) during the closing ceremony of the Eastern Red Tail Hawk route.

    Amy Morris/

    Every four years since 1992, Indigenous communities have been spiritually reuniting the Western Hemisphere by participating in The Peace and Dignity Journeys (PDJ)—a chain of spiritual runs that cross the continents, connecting North, Central and South America, along with the Caribbean.

    The endeavor is an effort to fulfill the ancient reunion prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor.

    As explained in the short film Shift of the Ages, the Eagle represents the masculine energy of the Northern Hemisphere, while the Condor represents its southern, feminine equivalent. The harmony between indigenous cultures across both continents was shattered by the arrival of Europeans.

    One interpretation of the prophecy, by the Peruvian shaman Lauro Hinostroza, states that for 500 years, beginning around the 16th century, the Eagle would dominate. This time frame coincides with the onset of colonization and the profound shift in the way Indigenous cultures functioned between the continents and among their own communities.

    According to the prophecy, at the end of the 500-year cycle an opportunity would come for Eagle and Condor to reunite and begin to restore balance to the world.

    The end of the 500-year cycle roughly coincides the inception of the PDJ at Quito, Ecuador, which itself occurred at the first Continental Encounter of Indigenous Pueblos and Nations. “At Quito,” states the East Coast PDJ site, “a mandate for the unification of all Indigenous Peoples from throughout the continent was declared under the sacred principle of the Eagle and the Condor.”


    The “Prayer for the Seeds” circle includes corn, yuca, and black and red beans, separated by sacred tobacco. At center is the Taino symbol for Mother Earth, Atabey. Amy Morris/

    The 2016 Peace and Dignity Journey routes began at opposite ends of the northern and southern continents—specifically, at Chickaloon, Alaska and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Runners from Native and non-Native communities carried sacred staffs for their cultures.

    “These staffs represent the prayers of their communities and the run helps Native people to reconnect to the traditional ways and their ancestral teachings,” said runner Amy Majagua’naru Ponce, the coordinator for the East Coast PDJ. “It also is an opportunity to share the wisdom of their ways with all involved for the healing of Mother Earth and all life.”

    The East Coast route (represented by the Red Tailed Hawk) began in New York and finished on July 23; the concluding celebration took place at Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs, Georgia. The site was chosen, said local Southeast PDJ coordinator Monika Ponton-Arrington (Taino), because a petroglyph that the Taino claim as their own is on display at the park’s visitors’ center.

    Officiating at the ceremony was elder Bibi Vanessa Inaru Pastrano (Taino), a member of the Bohio Atabei Mujeres de la Yukka (Grandmothers Council). Roberto Borrero, President of the United Confederation of Taino People and a member of the International Indian Treaty Council also participated. Participant runners were present from Jamaica and Puerto Rico; three Native elders from Georgia were on hand as well.


    Amy Majagua’naru Ponce (Taino), coordinator of the East Coast route, received a necklace with turtle symbolism as a thank-you gift at the closing ceremony. Amy Morris/

    Documentary filmmaker Alex Zacarias was on hand filming final shots of his upcoming film Taino Daca (“I Am”). As part of the events for the day, a screening was held of the nearly completed documentary, which covers the “paper genocide” of the Taino people and follows Borrero through his life unveiling their culture and history.

    Every four years, Peace and Dignity Journey offers a new theme that focuses on a different issue requiring attention among Indigenous Peoples. The 2016 theme was “Prayer for the Seeds.” At the Georgia ceremony grounds there was a tribute to seeds, a symbol of thanks for the basic sustenance of life and medicine. After the ceremony, attendees were offered samples from the circle of seeds to take home.

    With the East Coast route now complete, runners will begin their trek south, meeting the West Coast branch in San Antonio, Texas and joining the routes of the U.S. portion of runs. After the Texas merger, the PDJ heads southward throughout Mexico and Central America to meet the runners from the Southern routes and celebrate at Panama City, Panama in the Kuna Nation.

    There, the Eagle and Condor routes will conclude for a final gathering.

    The Week in Photos

    Lower Willamette Group

    The Yakama Nation is dissatisfied with a proposed EPA plan to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

    Courtesy photo

    JR LaPlante (Cheyenne River Sioux) is running for the South Dakota Legislature as a Democrat.

    KGW, Portland Or

    Authorities have dropped misdemeanor charges against 19-year-old Devontre Thomas (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs) for possession of one gram of marijuana.

     Deidre Elrod/Choctaw Nation

    The Choctaw Nation’s first grocery store has opened, in Clayton, Oklahoma.

    Headlines from the Web

    Upcoming Events


    August 21-25: NINAETC Public Law Training
    The 37th annual session of National Indian and Native American Employment/Public Law 102-477 Training affords opportunities for professionals to benefit from qualified speakers, engage in network opportunities to help leverage resources and build capacity, and enhance skills to facilitate the effective delivery of quality services. A variety of workshops and plenary sessions will be offered.
    Location: Peppermill Reno, Reno, Nevada

    August 22-25: National Native American Law Enforcement Association Training Conference
    The 24th annual National Collaborative Training Event is geared toward law enforcement, emergency management, emergency services, natural resource and environmental protection professionals. Dozens of sessions will be offered along seven tracks: Emergency Management, Emergency Services and Homeland Security; Boots on the Ground Drug Law Enforcement Training; Combating Violent Extremism; Active Shooter and Stadium/Major Event Security; Crimes Against Children; Hostage/Crisis Negotiations & Tactical Medicine; and Partnerships Built on Trust for Safer Communities.
    Location: Tropicana Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

    August 23-25: NICWA Training Institute
    National Indian Child Welfare Association training institutes are conducted by professionals in the field of Indian child welfare who have experience working with tribal communities. Attendees will be able to network with individuals from tribal, state and national agencies located throughout the country.
    Location: Best Western Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center, Rapid City, South Dakota

    August 24-26: VAWA Tribal Advocacy Skills Training
    This free training presentation is designed for tribal judges, prosecutors, public defenders and tribal leaders in trial advocacy skills and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Special Domestic Violence Jurisdiction over non-Indians. Presenters include Jill Rose, U.S. Attorney, Western District of North Carolina; Hon. Steve Aycock, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; John Pritchard, Assistant U.S. Attorney and Tribal Liaison, Western District of North Carolina; and Leslie Hagan, National Indian Country Training Coordinator for the Department of Justice. Presented by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation.
    Location: Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, Cherokee, North Carolina

    August 25: Recruiting Tribal Housing Professionals
    This webinar will focus on finding the best professional tools to fill vacancies in tribal housing programs. Emphasis will be placed on creating job descriptions, composing advertisements, and conducting comprehensive recruitment efforts to ensure accurate descriptions and thus attract appropriate candidates. Attendees will become aware of the proper methods used to recruit qualified professional staff and leadership; learn to utilize media and networking to locate those individuals; and determine and assess the skills and abilities of prospective recruits.
    Contact Information:


    Letters to the Editor

    Re “The Problem With White Feminists” by Ruth Hopkins (August 3):
    I am amazed that women support Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential candidacy. The historical value of electing her does nothing to embrace the common good of women, much less the country.

    If women of color believe Hillary cares about them, they will be sorely disappointed. How can she care about women when her main goal is to influence international politics and finance?

    Ms. Hopkins’ right to vote for Ms. Clinton is without question. It is her vote itself that is questionable and, in this case, a waste of progress.

    Robert Holbrook
    Phoenix, Arizona


    To Dina Gilio-Whitaker’s “Healing Unresolved Grief in Indigenous & Settler Societies” (August 1), I would add that overcoming trauma and grief depends on raising the consciousness of both victims and victimizers. Until we all raise our consciousness, and learn that we must treat each other as ourselves (The Golden Rule), we will always be stuck in conflict.

    We have forgotten the lessons of the ancient ones. Now we have brother against brother, sister against sister, and nation against nation.

    Eric Wong
    Washington, D.C.



    Top News Alerts


    Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, apologized on behalf of her government to her nation’s 16 officially recognized Native tribes for 400 years of conquest and colonization. “If we declare ourselves as a country of one people,” she said before a delegation of Indigenous representatives on August 1, “we need to face these historical facts.” Ing-wen also announced the formation of a “historical justice commission” to address the treatment of Taiwan’s aboriginal peoples.


    The 2016 White House Tribal Nations Conference, the last to be conducted by the Obama administration, will take place on September 26. The conference allows leaders of the 567 federally recognized tribes to interact directly with high-level federal government officials and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. One representative from each federally recognized tribe may attend the conference. Last year’s gathering was notable for Obama’s unveiling of the Generation Indigenous initiative.


    Federal charges against a teenage member of the Warm Springs Tribe of Oregon for possessing a gram of marijuana were dropped last week. Devontre Thomas, 19, who faced up to a year in prison, will not face prosecution if he obeys the law and keeps a job for 60 days. “I think it’s a fair resolution of the case,” said Ruben Iniguez, Thomas’ public defender. “I would sincerely hope that no one else, adult or minor, has to be faced with the same sort of dilemma.”


    The Pentagon has awarded a one-year, $60,600 contract to FSA Technology, LLC, a subsidiary of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe’s holding company, Fort Sill Apache Industries, LLC. FSA Technology will provide repair and maintenance for the Army’s “mission critical equipment,” including automatic transfer switches, uninterruptible power supplies, computer room air conditioning systems, remote environmental monitoring systems, and clean agent fire suppression systems. Infrastructure and systems repairs will take place at the Joint Reserve Intelligence Centers, and Commander, Navy Information Force Reserve enclaves.


    The University of Wisconsin-Stout has taken down paintings depicting historical encounters between white settlers and First Nations peoples. The removal followed complaints by the school’s Diversity Leadership Team (DLT), which said that the art reinforced stereotypes and promoted “acts of domination and oppression.” One painting shows French fur traders canoeing the Red Cedar River with Natives; the other is a rendering of a French fort. Cal Peters painted both works in 1936.

    Upcoming Pow Wows


    Omaha Tribe of Nebraska 212th Annual Hedewachi’

    17214 210th St.
    Onawa, IA

    Ute Mountain Casino Pow Wow

    3 Weeminuche Dr.
    Towaoc, CO
    800-258-8007, ext.6116

    Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Wacipi 2016

    2330 Sioux Trail NW
    Prior Lake, MN

    Muckleshoot 40th Annual Skopabsh Powwow

    17500 SE 392nd Street
    Auburn, WA

    Mawiomi of Tribes 22nd Annual Pow Wow

    214 Doyle Road
    Caribou, ME

    Roasting Ears of Corn 36th Annual Festival

    2825 Fish Hatchery Road
    Allentown, PA

    Metis of Maine Fall Gathering and Pow Wow

    105 Gould Rd
    Dayton, ME

    Honoring Our Veterans Pow Wow

    Shelby County Fair Grounds Fair Drive
    Sidney, OH

    Chaske Cikala Wacipi

    110400 Pioneer Trail
    Chaska, MN

    Rosebud Pow Wow Celebration

    30421 US-83
    Rosebud, SD

    Honoring Traditions 9th Annual Pow Wow

    Pala Band of Mission Indians
    Cupa Cultural Center
    10779 Highway 76
    Pala, CA

    Gathering At The Falls Pow Wow

    Riverfront Park
    507 N. Howard Street
    Spokane, WA

    Cha Cha Bah Ning 36th Annual Traditional Pow Wow

    Veterans Memorial Grounds
    Bingo Palace Drive
    Cass Lake, MN

    Three Fires Homecoming 30th Annual Pow Wow and Traditional Gathering

    2789 Mississauga Road, R.R. #6
    N0A 1H0  Hagersville
    United States Minor Outlying Islands

    Spirit Of The Clouds Pow Wow

    Route 114 Weare
    Weare, NH

    Potawatomi Trails 23rd Annual Pow Wow

    2700 Emmaus Avenue
    Zion, IL

    Adamstown Pow Wow

    563 Willow Street
    Adamstown, PA

    Monroe Independence Day Pow Wow

    34396 State Route 7
    Sardis, OH

    Thunderbird American Indian Mid Summer 38th Annual Pow Wow

    73-50 Little Neck Parkway
    Floral Park, NY

    Ashland Labor Day Pow Wow

    U.S Highway 212
    Ashland, MT

    The Big Picture

    Tony Duncan (San Carlos Apache/Arikara/Mandan and Hidatsa), who learned to hoop dance at age 5, is a five-time world champion,Courtesy Tony Duncan