Issue 34, August 31, 2016

    A Letter from the Publisher


    Shekóli. The Navajo Nation is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for the poisoning of the Animas and San Juan Rivers after the disastrous Gold King Mine spill last August. To the south, the Wayuu people have won back the right to the water of the Rancheria River by taking their case to the Supreme Court of Colombia. The ruling came too late, though, for the more than 5,000 children who died from water deprivation following the damming and diverting of the river.

    And in Cannonball, North Dakota, water protectors from more than 90 Native Nations have gathered in the thousands to pray and peacefully assemble in an effort to stop the degradation of the Missouri River by an underground oil pipeline, source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux.

    This, then, is the news of the week for Indian country, contained in This Week From Indian Country Today. The obvious topic? Water.

    Water is sacred. We know this, we say it, and most everyone in the world knows it. Yet still we find more and more ways in this modern age to imperil the very stuff we are made of, the most important ingredient for life on earth. These three stories illustrate some of the environmental perils jeopardizing our waters: dams, drills, and pollution.

    But there is another thread here, the all-too-familiar story of the trampling of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. These stories happen in Indian country because Natives have been seen as non-entities, as political or demographic groups whose commercial, financial and resource issues can be trampled at will.

    Or can they? There is another theme to these stories: In 2016, Natives are fighting back, just as we always have. Our strength is in our resilience. Two more articles this week prove the point. One is about the Osage Nation’s purchase of 43,000 acres of a ranch from media mogul Ted Turner. It was once Osage land; it was taken from them. Now they’ve taken it back. The other feature is about a large family whose members proudly honor the heritage of their famous forebear. His name? Geronimo. His descendants are living proof of his greatness.

    Such signs are all around us, and we take heart in recognizing them.

    NΛ ki wa,

    Ray Halbritter


    Civil Rights Are Not Sovereignty

    Efforts to equate the struggles of blacks and Natives are noble but often uninformed, says Peter d’Errico:

    Conflating American racism against blacks (i.e. the denial of civil rights) with American racism against Indians (i.e. the denial of sovereignty) obscures the different institutional structures through which these two racisms propagate. Every time we confuse Indian sovereignty issues with civil rights, we not only miss the point of the Indian struggle, we actually advance the U.S. policy of destroying Indian Nations.

    The voices today that call for “equal rights” for Indians are actually aiming for the termination of separate Indian Nationhood. They target Indian independence and treaty rights as a “violation” of equal rights for all “citizens.”

    The clamor about Indian voting rights in American elections overlooks the fact that the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act was a piece of the “friends of the Indian” program designed to assimilate Indians and pave the way for their termination as separate nations. Anti-Indian policies embedded in “pro-Indian” rhetoric produce an especially insidious target.

    Few people today would openly say what Alabama Governor George Wallace said in 1964—that the separate but equal doctrine “is in the best interest of the Negro.” But many people, Indians and non-Indians alike, actually celebrate the doctrine of “plenary power” over Indians as a good thing. “Separate but equal” was legally overturned by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. But “plenary power,” based on the doctrine of “Christian Discovery,” remains active to this day as law and policy.

    The stain of slavery has yet to be cleansed from America despite its legal eradication. Meanwhile, the stain of colonial domination over the Indigenous Nations has neither been cleansed nor legally disavowed.

    The Challenge Of Forgiveness

    Dina Gilio-Whitaker suggests reframing the notion of forgiveness for Native Americans as well as others:

    I recently attended a play titled “Urban Rez” that examined the diverse realities of Indians in Southern California, including their history of genocide. The most significant moment was when the question was posed: “Can you forgive?” What was meant was “Can you, as a Native person, forgive what was done to your people by the United States?”

    Forgiveness is a foundational principle in Christianity, and the concept has permeated American society. We hear a lot about forgiveness being a necessary part of individual healing.

    However, not all psychologists agree. Some argue that we haven’t been given the freedom not to forgive, and that sometimes forgiveness is not possible or even the best option—especially when the person in the wrong hasn’t earned the right to be forgiven. Others see the imperative to forgive an abuser as itself abusive for the way it shames the victim.

    Things become far more complex at the group level. Communities or nations who are surviving wars or other conflicts face having to rebuild their communities and heal from the psychological trauma inflicted by violence. Even more complicated is when peoples who engaged in violent conflict must coexist after the violence ceases. Some conflicts are so deep, pervasive, or old that they are said to be intractable.

    Yet intractability does not imply hopelessness. Innovative approaches toward resolving conflict continue to evolve. In recent years, for example, we have seen the trend toward truth and reconciliation commissions.

    A better question to ask than “Can you forgive?” might be “What will it take to heal from historical trauma, and heal the relationships between indigenous peoples and settler governments and societies?”

    Native Lives Matter

    Harlan McKosato wants a national movement that would call attention to the overlooked phenomenon of Native deaths at the hands of police:

    The national media never mentions that police kill more Natives per capita than any other racial or ethnic group. Their excuse is that American Indians and Alaska Natives make up only about two percent of the U.S. population. Therefore, reporting about our people who have been killed by cops doesn’t matter.

    Well, guess what? Native lives do matter. It is time that our tribal leaders started to give a voice to the unfair treatment and sentencing that our tribal people have to suffer through, especially in cities and border towns.

    I am not an anti-police advocate. My brother-in-law led the Special Investigations Unit for the Bureau of Indian Affairs for years here in the Albuquerque area. My nephew is a deputy sheriff back in Oklahoma. My son’s uncle is a tribal cop. When my home was robbed last year, I didn’t call Black Lives Matter; I called the Albuquerque Police Department. They responded quickly and wrote an accurate report that helped my home insurance company replace many of my stolen belongings.

    Nonetheless, we should lobby President Obama to at least bring up the facts about Native deaths, emphatically, in one of his press conferences and along the campaign trail. We should lobby the mainstream media to pay attention to what’s happening. We should get our tribal leaders to take a good hard look at the disparities within the country’s justice systems—and start a coalition of Native Lives Matter.

    The focus doesn’t have to just be on police racism and prejudice. We should focus on homelessness. Diabetes. Joblessness. Lack of educational opportunities. Etc. Etc.

    ICT News


    Navajo Nation Sues EPA Over Gold King Mine Spill

    The Navajo Nation has filed formal suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other defendants for the Gold King Mine spill last August.

    The 3 million gallons of mining wastewater that were let loose by EPA contractors who were attempting to remediate the site in Silverton, Colorado gushed into the Animas River, and then the San Juan. A ban on the water for agriculture and drinking use ensued for several days.

    “One of the Navajo people’s most important sources of water for life and livelihood was poisoned with some of the worst contaminants known to man, including lead and arsenic,” the complaint alleges. “For nearly two days, the USEPA did not call, alert or notify the Nation that this toxic sludge had been released and was headed into their waters and land. Now, a year after one of the most significant environmental catastrophes in history, the Nation and the Navajo people have yet to have their waterways cleaned, their losses compensated, their health protected, or their way of life restored.”

    In addition to suing the EPA, the Navajo Nation assigned responsibility to several companies connected with both the Gold King Mine and surrounding abandoned mines whose conditions allegedly contributed to the fragility of the site. They include the subcontractors Environmental Restoration LLC and Harrison Western Corp.; Gold King Mines Corp., which owned the mine just before the current owners, the San Juan Corp.; and three co-owners and operators of the Sunnyside Mine, “whose conduct contributed to the hazardous conditions that led to the massive release of toxic wastewater.”

    Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-New Mexico), Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) expressed support for the suit, which did not specify damages.

    Indian Point Goes On National Register Of Historic Places

    The National Park Service last month added the 78-acre sacred X’unáxi (Indian Point) in Juneau to the National Register of Historic Places, making it the first traditional cultural property in Southeast Alaska to be so designated.

    The area is the original habitation site of the Auk Kwáan. “After all these years, we are extremely happy that the government has finally recognized that this site is a sacred site to us and its sacredness must be protected,” said Clan Leader Rosa Miller.

    X’unáxi has been a burial ground and valued subsistence site for 800 years, according to oral history and archaeological evidence. But various members of the Alaska Native community have been fending off proposed development for decades.

    In 1959, the National Park Service wanted to use the western portion as an administrative headquarters. In 1968, Alaska transferred the southern half of Indian Point to Juneau, which proposed subdividing it for residential housing. Following Native protests, the city reclassified the area as “recreation land to be used in its natural state.”

    Another battle arose in 1992 when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service hoped to build a large facility there, offering the Native community $1 million. The fight ended in 1998 when a different site was chosen.

    Around that time, Dr. Tom Thornton, on behalf of NOAA, completed a report titled “Traditional Cultural Property Investigation for Auke Cap, Alaska,” which found Indian Point was eligible for the National Register. The Sealaska Heritage Institute applied for a designation in 2004, a process that culminated in last month’s decision.

    Osage Nation Takes Ownership Of Ted Turner’s 43,000-Acre Ranch

    Media mogul Ted Turner officially transferred ownership of his 43,000-acre Bluestem Ranch to the Osage Nation on August 24. The Osage’s $74 million purchase restores a small portion of the roughly 1.2 million acres that the tribe owned until 1906. In that year the reservation—which once covered all of Osage County—was allotted to individual tribal members.

    The Nation greeted news of the transfer with drums and song and is filing applications for federal trust status to protect the land from future sale. “We are the boss of our lands,” Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear told Fox 23 News. “The federal government is here to assist us.”

    Turner also wants the land to remain under tribal ownership. “It is my sincere hope that our transaction is the last time this land is ever sold,” he wrote to Standing Bear, “and that the Osage Nation owns this land for all future generations.”

    Turner, the founder of CNN and Turner Broadcasting, ran a bison-raising business during his 15 years as the landowner. He will continue to run his bison operations in a more centralized area, primarily in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

    The Osage Nation plans to continue the bison business. The tribal council has received at least a dozen applications already for additional proposals for the open fields, involving such enterprises as fishing and hunting that would also preserve the wildlife and the land. “We are trying to organize ourselves on a preservation side and the profit-making side, and also with the cattle operations to support it,” Standing Bear told Fox 23 News.

    ICT News

    Colombian Courts Order River Water Returned To Indigenous Peoples


    Responding to charges that thousands of Wayuu people have died or suffered from lack of water, two of Colombia’s highest courts ruled last month that the government must restore their access to the Rancheria River.

    In late July the Supreme Court of Colombia, along with the Superior Court of Bogotá, upheld a December 2015 judgment by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that called for precautionary measures aimed at returning the water and providing other services.

    The IACHR decision stemmed from charges, filed in February 2015 by the Association of Traditional Indigenous Authorities of the Wayuu Shipia Wayuu and other parties, that Bogotá’s damming of the Rancheria River diverted the water to big farms, mines and wealthier areas. According to a 2014 study commissioned by the Ombudsman of the region, at least 5,000 Wayuu children died in part from water deprivation. Remediation would entail opening the gates of the Cercada Dam.

    In February, the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos sought to cancel the IACHR judgment and suggested an alternative of building 98 wells. But last month, the two high Colombian courts denied the proposal and insisted that the dam gates be opened immediately.

    “This decision protects the rights of Wayuu children and adolescents and it puts a special emphasis on the issues of drinkable water,” said Carolina Sachicha Moreno, who represented the Wayuu before the Colombian courts, on July 31. In an article written just before the rulings, she cited the 2014 report, which stated that there had been 37,000 documented cases of Wayuu children suffering from malnutrition.

    Grand Ronde Expect Major Hit From Cowlitz Casino

    The Grand Ronde Tribe anticipates it will lose approximately 41 percent of the revenue generated by its Spirit Mountain Casino following the expected opening of the Cowlitz Tribe’s competing $510 million Ilani casino next spring.

    The chief reason is the distance of the venues to Portland, Oregon, reported the Salem Statesman Journal on August 17. Ilani will be located near La Center, Washington, about 30 miles north of Portland. By contrast, although Spirit Mountain is situated in Oregon, it is 65 miles away.

    “This will be a big financial hit to the tribe,” tribal lobbyist Justin Martin told the Statesman Journal, “and as a government that offers essential services like health care and education, we have to decide where we go from here.” He believes the Cowlitz casino would cut $100 million of Grand Ronde’s estimated $244 million annual revenue stream.

    The Cowlitz Tribe was allowed to proceed with building Ilani following a decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Grand Ronde Tribal Council plans to appeal to the Supreme Court, but if that challenge is denied, the tribe will explore other revenue sources, Martin said.

    Currently, 94 percent of Grand Ronde tribal revenue supports tribal programs such as education, pensions and health care, with the remaining six percent going to the State of Oregon. Healthcare consumes roughly 60 percent of the tribe’s expenses.

    The 368,000-square-foot Ilani Casino will feature 15 various restaurant/bar retail and entertainment establishments, plus a 2,500-person event center. An eight-story hotel will feature 250 guest rooms. “We’re not targeting just gamers with this facility,” project General Manager Kara Fox-LaRose told

    The new resort is expected to create 1,000 permanent jobs.

    Quicken Loans Is Now Top Mortgage Lender To Natives


    The mortgage bank Quicken Loans of Michigan has emerged as the new top mortgage lender to Native Americans, according to a key industry indicator.

    Quicken Loans distributed $283 million to Native American clients in 2015, according to data filed by lenders for that year’s Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). Quicken thus displaced Wells Fargo as the top lender to Native Americans; the latter company slipped to second place, with $276 million in 2015. Mid America Mortgage of Addison, Texas, followed with $152 million.

    These rankings are derived from the 2015 HMDA data in the LendingPatterns tool of ComplianceTech, a McLean, Virginia-based fair lending software company that has obtained data from many lenders in advance of the government’s fall release of data on all lenders.

    Both Quicken and Mid America granted more than half of their Indian mortgage applications last year, according to LendingPatterns data analyzed by ICTMN, while Wells Fargo granted about 41 percent. Mid America approved 826 out of 1,209 Native applications, or 68 percent, while Quicken granted 1,514 of 2,309, or 66 percent. At Wells Fargo, Indian borrowers secured 1,350 of 3,216 applications, or just under 42 percent.

    As of August 11, 44 percent of the 19,000 Native American applications reported by LendingPatterns’ Early Look responders had been approved. Thirty-one percent were denied, six percent were purchased, 11 percent were withdrawn and six percent were classified as incomplete.

    A Native ‘Rape Culture’

    ‘The connection is there and it’s gut-wrenching’


    Bottom Line: Following a startling, impromptu public accusation of systemic sexual harassment, the Navajo Nation is taking action.

    Amber Crotty, a Navajo Tribal Council member, made a shocking and unexpected speech about sexual violence and intimidation on the rez.

    Alyssa Landry

    It was not exactly what the Navajo Nation Council expected when they sat down for their weeklong, quarterly session in Window Rock, Arizona on July 20.

    But at that session, the lone female among the council’s 24 delegates, Amber Kanazbah Crotty, spoke publicly—and tearfully—about her experiences as a target of sexual harassment and assault.

    Crotty said she has endured vulgar verbal treatment and sexual innuendo during her tenure of more than 18 months.

    “It was not just comments, but also being physically violated,” Crotty said during a phone interview with ICTMN. “This was not comfortable for me to talk about. This was the last thing I wanted to say to the council because of the vulnerability and shame, but no woman, no man, should have to be in this situation.”

    During council sessions, delegates typically are given leeway to talk about whatever is on their minds. Nonetheless, Crotty’s remarks took her male colleagues by surprise.

    “We’re talking about rape culture,” she said. “The connection is there and it’s gut-wrenching. It hurts in the gut when you have to go through this behavior.”

    Crotty’s comments come as women across Indian country are being subjected to sexual violence at more than twice the national rate. A recent study by the National Institute of Justice revealed that 56 percent of Native women experience sexual violence in their lifetime. On the Navajo Nation alone, more than 300 rapes were reported in 2013.

    Just hours after Crotty spoke, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye launched a review of policy and how it is implemented in workplaces across the reservation. On August 1, along with Vice President Jonathan Nez and Acting Chief Justice Allen Sloan, Begaye signed an executive order mandating sexual harassment training for employees of all executive divisions and departments, the judicial branch, and local chapter service coordinators.

    “We began immediately to collect information and study what the policies are and how they’re being implemented,” Begaye said in an interview. “I knew that what was in place—what was being implemented—[indicated] we were not where we should be.”


    Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Chief Justice Allen Sloan sign an executive order mandating sexual harassment training for employees of all executive divisions and departments, the judicial branch and local chapter service coordinators. Courtesy Navajo Nation

    The executive order instructs all tribal employers to review the Nation’s sexual harassment policy, which defines harassment, outlines procedures for addressing it and identifies disciplinary actions. “The idea is to provide a safe and productive workplace for all employees,” Begaye said. “I want everyone to feel safe and be able to work in wholesome environments.”

    The Navajo Nation Council was not included in the executive order. But it is working to address the problem on its own terms, said Speaker LoRenzo Bates. The council took Crotty’s complaints “very seriously,” he said, and lawmakers will begin formal discussions next month.

    “We are definitely concerned about this,” Bates said. “We are working closely with Delegate Crotty to move toward solutions.”

    Although the executive order simply enforces existing laws, Crotty said it is a step in the right direction: “All the departments are required to review the policy and implement what’s already on the books. But it’s taking it out of autopilot. It’s carving out a space to have these discussions so we can address the systemic violence that we see on the Navajo Nation.”

    Crotty, a lifelong advocate for women and girls, took office in January 2015 and sits on the Council’s Sexual Assault Prevention Committee. Her remarks, she said, resonated across the reservation, yielding dozens of messages and pleas from other women.

    “We need to look at what creates this environment,” she said. “We have people who think they can make comments or physically assault someone, and when this is happening at the highest levels of government, there’s no question why we’re seeing this in the communities.”

    The Navajo are traditionally a matriarchal society, yet women continue to be underrepresented in Navajo government. As a lawmaker, but also as a woman, Crotty is calling for significant long-term solutions.

    “The thread that binds us together as women should not be the violence that inflicts us all,” she said. “It should be health, community and family.”

    The Children Of Geronimo

    ‘We’re still here, we’re not gone, we’re still alive’


    Bottom Line: Two living descendants of the legendary Geronimo are defined at least partly by his legacy—but they also wear it lightly.

    Robert Geronimo, a descendant of Geronimo, works at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, the tribe’s resort and casino in Mescalero, New Mexico.

    Kerri Cottle

    The first time Robert Geronimo became aware of his famous great-grandfather was in kindergarten.

    “A kid comes up to me and says, ‘I want to beat up a Geronimo.’ I said, ‘I haven’t done anything to you, you haven’t done anything to me.’ The kid threw a punch and I returned it, and we both ended up in the principal’s office.”

    From then on, his grandparents taught him to read between the lines of accounts of his great-grandfather as a blood-thirsty killing machine, or even as a “chief” leading his people.

    “It wasn’t a dictatorship, everyone there had a say in deciding what was going to happen, including the women,” said Robert, 47. “Caught between the Caucasian and Mexican forces, they had no choice but to fight. There was nowhere else to go.”

    Robert, who holds a degree in math and computer science from Western New Mexico University in Silver City, works in the Human Resources Department at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, the tribe’s resort and casino in Mescalero, New Mexico. His specialty is statistics, and he’s responsible for filing unemployment claims. There may be the occasional boring day, but he’s grateful to have shepherded his offspring to maturity.

    “Geronimo had six wives and many children,” he reflects, “but our line was the only one not killed.”

    His son, Robert Samson, operates the mountain resort’s zipline and is happy with his job, even when guests sometimes scream “Ger-on-i-m-o!” as they’re flying through the air (“He just laughs, he’s cool with it”). Daughter Kristalynn Rose is a senior at the Art Institute in Phoenix, majoring in game design. Eldest Lauren Marie is mother to Robert’s 3-year-old grandson Wyatt McKinzey and works in the Inn’s housekeeping department. Her passion is beading, learned from her grandmother.

    As his kids were growing up, during car trips around the Southwest or at the holiday dinner table, Robert conveyed the main point about his family’s legacy: “We never wanted war, but we were exceptionally good at it.” And he insists they never surrendered. “The only reason they came in was because the cavalry threatened to kill everyone. And with good reason, they believed them.”

    In Robert’s view, Geronimo didn’t stop being a leader after imprisonment. In fact, quite the opposite: “He became the best leader of all when he was in prison, a peacekeeper. Apaches wanted to tear each other apart because some had been scouts for the cavalry. Geronimo pacified them, told them, ‘The past is the past.’”

    If Robert could speak with his famous ancestor, he would tell him this: “Be proud, we’re still here, we’re not gone, we’re still alive and doing decently well.”



    Hope Geronimo, who is Robert’s niece, feels that some people
    are scared of her.
    Kerri Cottle


    At 21, Robert’s niece Hope is the youngest medicine woman among all the Mescalero Apache. She wonders if she received some of her ancestor’s spiritual gifts.

    “He was somebody who had visions, I think I do sometimes,” she said. “I call out something and next thing you know, it happens.” She feels as if her tribe’s traditional practices “picked her.” And while she embraces that honor, the gift comes at a social cost.

    “Something I’ve noticed, people have gotten scared of me. There’s times I can feel something’s going to happen, and when it does people freak out on me. So I’m quiet, I won’t say anything, keep it to myself. But I think that was something passed on from him.”

    Hope would not hesitate to seek him out as a teacher. “I have so many questions about everything, and he would explain it all to me.”

    Her grandparents always taught her that Geronimo wasn’t primarily a leader; he was a medicine man. They also instructed her to include him in her prayers. “Now that he’s a spirit, he’s a really powerful medicine man. I ask him to help guide me.”

    It is the tribe’s tradition to name a boy child after his father, so her son will not carry the name forward. “But he has Geronimo’s blood in him, no matter what anyone has to say.”

    What Hope most dreams for is that her son will also be involved in traditional practices. “On his dad’s side, the family owns a Crown Dancing troupe. I want him to be part of that. And with me doing this, and doing it more, he’ll always be with me.”

    Hope doesn’t deny that she conducts both her parental and medicine woman duties with a grave sense of responsibility. “I wouldn’t want to be a disappointment to my ancestors.”

    The Artist As Activist

    ‘We do not see two different worlds’


    Klee Benally is part Navajo, part Russian-Polish and all firebrand.

    Dominique Godréche

    Editor’s Note: The Diné musician, traditional dancer, silversmith—and anarchist—Klee Benally was in Paris recently to perform a few concerts and present his new independent feature film Power Lines.

    Raised in Black Mesa, Arizona by his Russian-Polish folk musician mother and his Navajo medicine man and hoop dancer father, Benally learned the traditional ways early on. As a teenager, he co-created the band “Blackfire” with his siblings Jeneda and Clayson and played with them for 20 years.

    Self-taught, he explains his approach to his culture through music thus: “There is no separation between art and culture in Diné existence.” Before leaving for the London Camden Fringe Festival’s event on “Indigenous resistance and liberation,” Benally shared his views on music, activism and cultural stereotypes.


    How did your parents meet?

    They met in Los Angeles, where my mother was working in a political club for Hopi elders. She then moved to the reservation, where we were raised on Black Mesa, with no electricity, or water, in a very remote place close to a small town, Pinon. My father is a medicine man and very early, we were taught traditional practices, ceremonies, dances and singing.

    My father has a great saying: “We do not see two different worlds.” So, it is an interesting question, because when on tour in Europe with Blackfire, we went to Bialystok, in Poland, the native place of my mother’s family, and felt no connection with it.

    Did you start playing music because of your mother?

    We could not touch my mother’s instruments when we were younger. (Laughs) But we began to listen to tapes from the late 80’s, including the punk rock culture. We started to play very young, to convey our messages, and express our frustrations, on social issues, like families resisting forced relocation, and the removal of Navajos, in the context of the Navajo and Hopi land dispute of 1974.

    And now you live in Flagstaff, close to the San Francisco Peaks?

    Yes, I felt a calling to stay in Flagstaff, to be a consistent force so that the area is protected. The San Francisco Peaks is one of the six sacred mountains for the Diné, each one under threats, for resource extractions, recreation and skiing. Since 1996, I participated in the effort to stop this development, protesting, praying. And I made a documentary in 2004, The Snowball Effect. In 2002, they permitted the ski area to expand, and we continue to struggle to stop the development at the Peaks.

    We went back a few weeks ago, because of a new extension and were threatened with trespassing. But how can we be? My whole family has been part of the protest, my father addressing the impact on human health.

    Among all your interventions, which one was the worst?

    They are all bad. But it is not so much about the interventions. The most traumatizing is to see this holy mountain, where we pray, and where the pipelines are digging, destroying hundreds of trees and again two weeks ago.

    Could you have been a medicine man?

    The process of learning and practicing is through apprenticeship. I help work with people, but I would never say I am.

    But don’t you represent a new generation of medicine men, as a global and environmental activist?

    This is an important observation. Among traditional people, everybody has their own way. So we are all healers, or have a capacity to heal, when there is an imbalance in the world. The foundation of Navajo philosophy is the blessing way, to keep balance with other beings and ourselves. If you do not care for the land, it is not going to sustain you. As long as the society values the land as a commodity, we have a problem; global warming is a syndrome of imbalance with the earth, a consequence of society’s war against Mother Earth.

    Among all the protests, which one matters most?

    The struggle for our cultural survival—from our ancestors to the future generation, so we can still exist. So whether [it is] an auction, the destruction of a holy site, fracking, forced relocation, sacred sites, racial profiling, pollution, all those issues need attention. Like in Phoenix, where some Navajos were meeting Donald Trump. We protested, as it was inappropriate, like a tacit support.

    That is why I focus on providing media support and training with “Outta Your Backpack Media”, an Indigenous media center in Flagstaff for high school students from 15 to 20, where we teach film and media. Because it is important for the youth to understand their potential and how social media plays a role in reinforcing racism through stereotypes.

    How do you see racism today?

    Until the ‘60s, there were signs in some places saying, “No Indians or dogs allowed.” Today, every year, the Flagstaff annual police report indicates the number of arrests. And every year, half of the arrests concern Natives.

    So there is a problem. Either it is racial profiling, or one in two would be a criminal. And the city council allowed the contract on the San Francisco Peaks—a short-term profit on the mountains, a place of cultural value to Indigenous nations. So racism is still there, and a lack of care for our values.

    What are some of your projects?

    I am focusing on my feature film release, Power Lines, which I consider a big accomplishment and which took many years of work. We are doing a tour and some screenings in the reservations—and in Europe, addressing the issues of cultural patrimony, like the auctions of sacred items.

    [It’s] a real problem, as some people do not understand that it is not proper to share their pictures. Connecting internationally is important, as all over the world people are struggling for social justice.

    What was the European audience response like?

    There is more appreciation here for independent music and art, a different understanding of Indian struggles, like the Leonard Peltier’s story. They would know more here than in the United States! (Laughs) There is an interesting dynamic, more interest and awareness.

    Of course, it is hard to generalize, as some people fetishize us. But you find more political organizations in Europe than in the United States, and a bigger history of social and political organizations.

    Don’t you think that Native status is changing with globalization, and a different picture is taking place today, because of social media and international networking?

    Globalized resistance is critical and occurring today. That is why I am here—to find support, and let people know that being engaged in struggling against racism is part of the same fight. And over the years I found a lot of support, singing, talking to small venues, breaking stereotypes about Native peoples. Interacting on a personal level can be powerful. And being able to demonstrate, through petitions, as it is important that the world watches: as marginalized communities, we face certain issues.

    But, yes. When people pay attention internationally, we are not alone in our struggle.


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    Reporting directly to the President, the Vice-President of Operations and Programs will also represent the organization locally, regionally, and nationally and will be required to interface with a national caliber Board of Directors.


    The ideal candidate must have a Master’s degree or equivalent demonstrated in organizational leadership. Minimum seven years staff and/or consultant supervisory experience in nonprofit sector with preference given to those with Native non-profit organization and/or other community/economic development NGO experience.

    If interested, please follow the link to FPF’s website ( and review the full position description or you may request this information by sending an email to

    To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, references, and supporting documentation via email to: or it can be mailed to: First Peoples Fund, PO Box 2977, Rapid City, SD  57709. FPF is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

    Closing date: September 15, 2016 or open until filled






    The Hoopa Valley Housing Authority will receive proposals for accounting and financial management services until 4:30 p.m. September 24, 2016. Proposals received after this time shall be rejected. All proposals shall be submitted by email and shall be reviewed according to a point rating system set forth below. The Housing Authority is an entity of the Hoopa Valley Tribe that manages low-income low rent and hombuyer homes on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation, which is located in Humboldt County.

    Interested firms and accountants must be experienced in working with Indian housing authorities or Indian tribes, and working under the requirements of NAHASDA.

    Proposals are invited from non-Indian and Indian-owned enterprises or organizations. The Housing Authority shall determine whether a firm or accountant is a 51% Indian and/or Alaskan Native-owned organization or economic enterprise, and if it receives preference in the award of this contract, based on proof of ownership submitted with the proposal.

    The following point rating system shall be used in reviewing proposals:

    A. General qualifications:    15

    B. Past experience:                35

    C. Indian preference:            15

    D. Cost proposal:                   35

    Total:                                        100

    Proposals must be submitted according to the specific RFP instructions, available by request from Raymond Moon, Executive Director, at (530)625-4759 or


    The Week in Photos

    The rising actress Devery Jacobs (Mohawk) will soon appear in The Sun at Midnight.

    National Register of Historic Places

    The National Park Service has added X’unáxi, a.k.a. Indian Point, in Juneau, Alaska to its National Register of Historic Places.

    Those Collins

    1964 Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota) stood with those who are protesting the Dakota Access pipeline.

    Courtesy NACF

    Luzene Hill (Eastern Band Cherokee) is one of 16 National Artist Fellows selected by the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

    Headlines from the Web

    Upcoming Events


    September 2: Development Of A 5- To 10-Year Housing And Economic Development Plan
    This webinar will help attendees comprehensively develop and sustain communities in Indian country through the use of housing and economic development plans. Sponsored by the Native Learning Center, the session will emphasize how such plans are often developed through tribal council meetings with tribal members and internal meetings with tribal leaders, with a view toward economic diversification, increased employment and a growth of the local tax base.
    Contact Information:

    September 9: Funding Energy And Infrastructure On Rural Tribal Lands
    Participants will survey and assess Indian energy business and energy infrastructure development and needs. In the process they will learn about available funding and how to develop prospective technology partners and information about tribal resources and opportunities.
    Contact Information:

    September 9-10: Indigenous Archives In The Digital Age
    An international group of scholars, librarians, activists, storytellers and digital humanities practitioners will explore how digital archives can serve Indigenous communities and reconfigure history and culture. This symposium will include two plenary panels, a keynote address, a roundtable and exhibits of digital projects. Sponsored by the Society of Early Americanists, the Dartmouth College Conference Fund, the Program in Native American Studies, the Leslie Center for the Humanities and the Friends of the Dartmouth College Library.
    Location: Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

    September 12-14: American Indian Tourism Conference
    Conducted by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, the 18th annual conference is designed to share knowledge, experience and best practices from tourism programs around the country. Keynote addresses will be delivered by President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association Roger Dow, Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp, National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tribal Government Affairs Kenneth Martin.
    Location: Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip, Washington

    Letters to the Editor

    Re Steve Newcomb’s criticism of The New Trail of Tears: How Washington is Destroying American Indians (August 14):

    Tribal citizens have one foot (and their hearts) in the 19th century and one foot in the 21st. We have full choice as to how much of our heritage to embrace, where to live and how to conduct ourselves as individuals.

    In 2016, does the word “assimilate” still have any relevance? I know we will not let our history and heritage get lost. We will always have to fight prejudice and stereotyping. I see it everywhere. When the general public thinks of the word “Indian,” they have a mental image of either a scary savage or a romanticized spiritual native, both from the past—or, today, an entitled casino owner.

    How can the public see today’s Natives as healthy, well-rounded people who are proud of our heritage if we are still crying about our near genocide and still fighting with each other about how to be a “real Indian”?

    —Susan MacMillan
    Petaluma, California



    Top News Alerts


    A series of wildfires in Eastern Washington destroyed at least 18 homes last week, including 13 on the Spokane Indian Reservation. The Cayuse Mountain Fire burned more than 27 square miles of the site, according to the Associated Press. The neighboring Kalispel Tribe and Colville Tribe dispatched crews to help fight the blaze, and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the Muckleshoot Tribe are among those who have sent donations.


    Canada’s Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations voted last week to amend its current gaming agreement with Saskatchewan to allow the building of a seventh casino in the province. The venue would be situated in Lloydminister, which spans the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, and fall under the authority of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority. The operation could open as soon as next spring, said Chief Bobby Cameron. “We’re probably talking close to 500 jobs—500 jobs that families are going to benefit from,” he said.


    The All Pueblo Council of Governors, representing all 19 Pueblo tribes in New Mexico, endorsed Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy on August 19. “She has proven through her record that she is committed to serving those who are most in need,” said Isleta Pueblo Gov. E. Paul Torres, “and will continue to do so when elected.” In New Mexico Clinton has also secured the backing of the Ten Southern Pueblos Council, as well as that of seven Navajo Nation chapters and several other tribes and prominent tribal leaders.


    The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has awarded $8.7 million to 63 federally recognized tribes and tribally chartered organizations to address climate change and its effects. The awards, administered through the BIA’s Tribal Climate Resilience Program, should ultimately benefit more than 300 tribes through cooperative planning, shared information and other tools. “We’re aiding tribes in their struggles to address the ways climate change is affecting them now and in the future,” said Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Lawrence S. Roberts.


    Marine New Ventures, the economic arm of the Puyallup Tribe of Washington, has purchased an 18-hole, 55-year-old public golf course situated on the northwestern portion of its reservation. The North Shore Golf Course was purchased for an undisclosed amount that will be released when the property officially exchanges ownership after September 9, reported the Tacoma News-Tribune. “It needs some refurbishment and some capital infusion,” said general manager David Wetli. “So we’re pretty stoked out here.”

    How Did I Miss That?

    Monster snakes in Maine, an invasion of lesbian farmers and the stranger who found friends in death


    Photo courtesy Steve Russell Steve Russell

    Rush Limbaugh is sounding the alarm that Barack Obama is paying lesbians to become farmers and so infiltrate the last bastion of conservatism.

    Everybody knows The Gay is contagious.

    * * *

    Since June, Mainers have been on the lookout for a giant snake said to be over 10 feet long. The Westbrook, Maine Police Department issued a press release with an attached photo of the beast, dubbed “Wessie.” The witness who reported the first sighting claimed it slithered off into the Presumpscot River.

    Maine is pretty far north for a snake of that size, and the Wessie story provoked a lot of laughs—until last week, when a shed snakeskin over 10 feet in length was found near the Presumpscot. Speculation has centered on a pet python that either escaped or was turned loose.

    * * *

    Great Big Story introduced the hyacinth macaw by calling it “the biggest and bluest parrot in the world.” It’s an eye-catching animal, but the purpose of the introduction is a warning that the species is endangered by habitat shrinkage and poaching for the pet trade. A pet hyacinth macaw can set you back over $10,000.

    No word if any have been spotted in Maine.

    * * *

    The Washington Post spent quite a bit of effort tracing charitable donations Donald Trump promised to make from his own money as he fired people from Celebrity Apprentice. The Post tracked down 21 separate promises of personal donations totaling $464,000.

    In one case, the money never showed up. In two other cases the charity refused to confirm or deny. In the remaining 18 cases, donations appeared not from Trump but from the production company running the TV show or the Trump Foundation.

    Trump has not given a dime to his namesake foundation since 2008—unless you count an appearance fee Comedy Central paid in 2011. In 2012, NBC (the network that aired Celebrity Apprentice) made one large gift to the foundation that would have been enough to cover all of Trump’s promises. Asked whether that was their purpose, NBC declined to comment.

    Had Trump released his tax returns, all his charitable donations would be in a nice list on Schedule A.

    * * *

    The Austin American-Statesman reported that students opposed to the new law that permits carrying pistols on campus will protest by attaching sex toys in a variety of colors to their backpacks. Honors student Ana López called the protest “fighting absurdity with absurdity.”

    The organizers’ call for donations of dildos amassed over 4,000 of the fake phalluses. On a Facebook page devoted to the protest, the dildos are called “[j]ust about as effective at protecting us from sociopathic shooters, but much safer for recreational play.” The rallying tweet is #CocksNotGlocks.

    * * *

    KVUE reported on a new app I wished for when I was teaching full time. It’s called Pocket Points. Aimed at students, it scores one point for every 20 minutes the user stays off the time-sucking smart phone. Created in 2014 by a student at Cal State-Chico, the app is in use at over 100 college and high school campuses.

    The quality of the prizes depends on the businesses that sign up in the vicinity of the school. Students at Cal State-Sacramento, for example, can choose among four locations of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

    When I started to freak out over the potential impact on my weight problem, my cousin Ray Sixkiller reassured me about my diet: “There’s an app for that!”

    * * *

    Ora Golda Weinbach posted on Facebook that a funeral was to take place the next day attended only by her father—the presiding rabbi—and the funeral director. About 30 people showed, including people willing to be pallbearers for someone they never knew.

    Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach regretted he could offer no eulogy because he knew nothing about Francine Stein, who had walked on at age 83. He learned later that she had been a musician and had taught at the Julliard School of Music.

    Props to the people who showed up to bury a stranger.

    Upcoming Pow Wows


    Ashland Labor Day Pow Wow

    U.S Highway 212
    Ashland, MT

    Leech Lake Labor Day Pow Wow

    Veterans Memorial Grounds Bingo Palace Drive
    Cass Lake, MN

    Totah Festival Pow Wow

    200 West Arrington
    Farmington, NM

    Oceana County Intertribal “Honoring Our Elders” Traditional Pow Wow

    1025 South State Street
    Hart, MI

    North Country Intertribal Pow Wow

    934 Elm Strret
    Newport, ME
    443-771-6207 or 207-368-4944

    Native American Festival

    23 Middle Grove Road
    Greenfield Center, NY

    Kentucky Native American Heritage Museum 8th Annual Honoring Our Veterans Pow Wow

    4116 Cumberland Falls Highway
    Corbin, KY

    Iroquois 35th Annual Festival

    324 Caverns Road
    Howes Cave, NY

    Indian Plaza Intertribal Labor Day Pow Wow

    1475 Mohawk Trail Route 2E
    Charlemont, MA

    Eufaula Indian Community Pow Wow and Homecoming

    Eastside Ballpark on Lake Eufaula
    Eufaula, OK
    918-584-9507 or 918-617-7985

    Navajo Nation Pro Rodeo Contest Pow Wow

    E Highway 264
    Loop Road #36A
    Window Rock, AZ

    United Tribes International Pow Wow

    3315 University Drive
    Bismarck, ND
    701-255-3285, ext. 1796

    Southern Ute Fair Contest 96th Annual Pow Wow

    200 East Highway 151
    Ignacio, CO
    970-799-3149 or 970-563-0255

    Miigwetch Manomen Pow Wow

    5344 Lakeshore Drive
    Nett Lake, MN
    218-757-3261, ext. 202

    Mendota Pow Wow

    1405 Sibley Memorial Highway
    Mendota, MN

    Nanticoke Indian Association’s 39th Annual Pow Wow

    27073 John J. Williams Highway
    Millsboro, DE

    16th Annual Intertribal Pow Wow at Grand Village of the Kickapoo Park

    8144 North 3100 East Road
    Arrowsmith, IL
    309-261-3043 or 309-846-6720

    Intertribal Annual Pow Wow

    Plug Pond, Sanders Road, off Mill Street
    Haverhill, MA

    High Plains Pow Wow

    Carbon County Fairgrounds
    523 Rodeo Street
    Rawlins, WY

    Haskell 28th Annual Indian Art Market

    155 Indian Avenue
    Lawrence, KS

    Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre 16th Annual Traditional Pow Wow

    Sainte-Marie Park
    Highway 12 and the Wye Valley Road
    L4R 2A7  Midland
    United States Minor Outlying Islands

    Coharie Indian 47th Annual Cultural Pow Wow

    7532 North Highway 421
    Clinton, NC

    Annual Akwesasne 16th Annual International Pow Wow

    36 Arena Road
    K6H 5R7  Cornwall Island
    United States Minor Outlying Islands

    All Nations Benefit Pow Wow

    163 Melrose Road
    Susquehanna, PA

    Mill-Luck 13th Annual Salmon Celebration

    3201 Tremont Avenue
    North Bend, OR

    The Big Picture

    “Blue Wedding Dress” by Pamela Baker (Kwakwaka'wakw/Squamish) was featured at the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts’ Market Fashion Show this month. Courtesy Pamela Baker