Two Navajo men brutally beaten to death with cinder blocks at a homeless encampment in July had nowhere to live in Albuquerque, but had homes to go to on their reservation, Indian County Today Media Network reports.
Kee Thompson and Allison Gorman had initially arrived in New Mexico’s largest city separately to look for work, according to the story by Alysa Landry.
In the days following the murders, details about who the men were have trickled in. Gorman, of Shiprock, New Mexico, moved to Albuquerque earlier this year looking for work. When he couldn’t find a place to live, he ended up on the streets, his sister, Alberta Gorman, told reporters.
“We are all in shock and we just can’t make sense of all this that has happened,” Alberta Gorman told a KOB-TV reporter. “My brother Allison was a son, a brother, a father, an uncle and a grandfather, and he was a very kind, loving man.”
Three teenagers have been charged in the murders. They allegedly told police they had no connection to the victims, and were simply looking for people to beat up after a party.
Thompson, the other victim, was from Castle Rock, New Mexico, and had been in Albuquerque since 2005.
Staff at the Albuquerque Indian Center, where Mary Garcia is executive director, helped identify the men, “who were beaten so badly they were unrecognizable” Landry reported.
“A lot of the guys who come here are homeless, but only in the city,” Garcia told ICTMN. “They have homes on the reservation. I always like to make the point that because the people are homeless, that doesn’t mean they have to be treated with less respect. What happened to these men is beyond comprehension and no one should have to go through that.”
One music festival is saying “No” to a trend of people donning feather headdresses, or warbonnets, at concerts and festivals, Indian County Today Media Network reports.
The Bass Coast Electronic Music and Arts Festival in Merritt, British Columbia, has banned the wearing of warbonnets at this year’s event, which takes place Aug. 1-4.
We understand why people are attracted to war bonnets. They have a magnificent aesthetic. But their spiritual, cultural and aesthetic significance cannot be separated.
Bass Coast Festival takes place on indigenous land and we respect the dignity of aboriginal people. We have consulted with aboriginal people in British Columbia on this issue and we feel our policy aligns with their views and wishes regarding the subject. Their opinion is what matters to us.
ICTMN staff said the move would please A Tribe Called Red, a Native American DJ trio that has asked fans attending their shows to refrain from wearing headdresses and face paint. A Tribe Called Red appears on the main stage of Bass Coast Aug. 2.
Did former U.S. Chief District Judge Richard Cebull – who forwarded a racist email about President Barack Obama – make biased decisions while on the bench?
Indian advocacy groups in Montana and South Dakota, and a member of the Crow Tribe, want to know, and are asking a court to preserve and eventually release an investigative file containing inappropriate emails sent by Cebull.
Associated Press reporter Matthew Brown reported that Indian People’s Action of Montana, Four Directions of South Dakota, and Sara Plains Feather, a member of Montana’s Crow Tribe, filed the petition in U.S. District Court in California.
Cebull was investigated after forwarding a racist message involving Obama. A judicial review panel found he sent hundreds of emails from his federal account that showed disdain for blacks, Indians, Hispanics, women, certain religions and others. He was publicly reprimanded and retired last year.
The investigation found no evidence of bias in his rulings. (Plaintiffs’ attorney Lawrence) Organ said the only way to know that for sure is through the release of the emails.
“The fundamental principles of our entire legal system fall apart if a judge doesn’t come in with a neutral position,” Organ said. “If there are other decision-makers involved, we’re not asking for their private email accounts. All we want to see are the email accounts they used as government officials.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said the file is confidential.
Brown reported that Four Directions was involved in a voting rights lawsuit in which Cebull ruled against the Indian plaintiffs. The 9th Circuit later overturned his ruling.
Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline buried some of their protest on May 31 and June 1.
Indian Country Today Media Network reports that members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance and their allies planted sacred Ponka red corn seeds on a Nebraska farm that is on the pipeline’s proposed route.
Members of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma performed a sacred corn planting ceremony led by Mekasi Horinek, the son of Casey Camp-Horinek, a long-time Native rights activist and environmentalist, and Amos Hinton, agricultural director of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma.
After the ceremony, the group hand-planted approximately four acres of sacred Ponka red corn seed (ICTMN noted the 19th-century spelling of the tribe name is still used for the corn).
“We’re going to stand together with the cowboys – the ranchers and farmers – in our Nebraska homeland,” said Horinek. “Together our families will plant sacred red corn seed in our ancestral soil. As the corn grows it will stand strong for us, to help protect and keep Mother Earth safe for our children, as we fight this battle against the Keystone XL pipeline.”
The planting was done on the farm of Art Tanderup outside Neligh, Nebraska. Tanderup said that in 1877 the people of Neligh helped the Ponca people by burying White Buffalo Girl, who had died on the Ponca Trail of Tears.
“Over 100 years later, that spirit of humanity continues as we join with our friends and neighbors in replenishing their sacred corn and fighting against Keystone XL,” Tanderup said.
Aaron Carapella’s decade-long project began by marking poster boards hanging on his bedroom walls.
Today, reports Hansi Lo Wang at National Public Radio’s “Code Switch,” Carapella’s maps of the United States, Mexico and Canada show the original locations – and original names – of more than 600 Indian tribes, “many now forgotten and lost to history,” Wang writes.
“I think a lot of people get blown away by, ‘Wow, there were a lot of tribes, and they covered the whole country!’ You know, this is Indian land,” says Carapella, who calls himself a “mixed-blood Cherokee” and lives in a ranch house within the jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation.
For more than a decade, he consulted history books and library archives, called up tribal members and visited reservations as part of research for his map project. … So far, he has designed maps of the continental U.S., Canada and Mexico. A map of Alaska is currently in the works.
What really sets Carapella’s maps apart, a senior geographer at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian told Wang, is that they show both the original and commonly known names of tribes.
Some tribes, Doug Herman explains, were stuck with names chosen by European settlers that were often derogatory terms other tribes used to describe their rivals – such as “Comanche,” derived from the Ute word meaning “anyone who wants to fight me all the time.”
“It’s like having a map of North America where the United States is labeled ‘gringos’ and Mexico is labeled ‘wetbacks,’ ” Herman told NPR. “Naming is an exercise in power. Whether you’re naming places or naming peoples, you are therefore asserting a power of sort of establishing what is reality and what is not.”
Carapella calls them “a way to convey the truth in a different way.”
You won’t read about the Washington Redskins again in the Seattle Times.
Washington’s NFL team, yes; it’s controversial mascot, no.
Times sports editor Don Shelton banned the use of the nickname last week, he wrote in his blog.
It’s time to ban the use of “Redskins,” the absurd, offensive and outdated name of the NFL team in Washington, D.C.
Past time, actually.
We’ll probably receive scathing emails, letters, phone calls and reader comments telling me we’re too PC, that the name actually honors Native Americans or that we have no right to change a team’s official name.
Everyone’s entitled to an opinion – even if I don’t buy it.
We’re banning the name for one reason: It’s offensive. Far from honoring Native Americans, the term colors an entire race.
The Times already had a policy that severely limited the use of the name. For 20 years, Shelton said, the newspaper allowed it to appear only once per article and did not use it in headlines or photo captions.
But, he suggested, if it’s offensive enough to limit its use, it’s offensive enough to ban completely.
Well, almost completely. In stories that are about the controversy over the name, “Redskins” will be allowed so that readers know what the issue revolves around, Shelton wrote.
One Washington state high school – in Wellpinit, on the Spokane Indian Reservation – also uses the nickname. The Times will not print its name, either, Shelton said.
Other papers that have banned the name include the Portland Oregonian, the Kansas City Star, the Orange County Register and the San Francisco Chronicle. The Oregonian and Star banned it back in the 1990s.
- Vince Devlin
When they were students at Harvard, New York University film student Dominique Deleon had promised his roommate, an Ojibwe Indian, that he would one day use his medium to draw attention to both the beauty and hardships of reservation life.
As Indian County Today Media Network reports, that vow took on a new meaning when Deleon’s roommate, Duane Meat, returned to the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota for
Meat was murdered by a gang member while walking on a street in Minneapolis.
With the help of filmmaker Spike Lee, “Rez,” a 19-minute short film about a teenager living on the Leech Lake Reservation, has been released. “Due to Lee’s support,” reporter Vincent Shilling wrote at ICTMN, “the project broke records on the Seed & Spark fundraising website as the fastest film to receive full funding within just 72 hours.”
Deleon spent a summer on the reservation writing the film.
“The first week I was on the rez I stayed in a small house with 7 adults and four dogs,” DeLeon recalls. “Across the way in Tract 33, which is portrayed in the film, a jilted boyfriend walked over to the house where his girlfriend was staying and shot her in the face. They had kids together
“I realized quickly that even though I’d done my research, even though I’d heard all the stories, nothing was going to prepare me to write this other than living there, being there. “
The short film is currently making the film festival rounds.
- Vince Devlin
It wasn’t just the first presidential visit to an Indian reservation since the advent of Twitter.
It was only the fourth time in American history a sitting U.S. President had visited a reservation.
President Obama’s journey to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota produced a flurry of tweets from Indian Country, and Indian Country Today Media Network combed through them to pick 10 of the best.
On a windy Friday afternoon on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, President Barack Obama – arriving on “Indian Time” – became the fourth U.S. president to ever visit an Indian reservation. The day was marked by celebration, tradition, optimism and pessimism and, of course, good ol’ fashioned Native American humor.
Simon Moya-Smith wrote the introduction to the top 10 tweets, which included photographs of a smiling President Obama interacting with dancers and children, and one of First Lady Michelle Obama licking her lips after sampling a well-known Indian Country food that included the notation, “Got a new #Frybread Felon.”
Whether it was a parent, a friend, or perhaps a teacher who went out of their way to help them in a class, the Secretary of Education told the largest graduating class in Salish Kootenai College history that he was sure all of them had someone they could thank for helping them earn their diploma.
“And remember to pay it forward,” Arne Duncan told them, “that investment people made in you.”
Duncan had asked the tribal college if he could speak at last year’s ceremony, but a scheduling conflict prevented that, the Missoulian reported. SKC President Robert DePoe III said the school was honored when Duncan inquired again this year.
The secretary said he loves SKC’s motto – “Grounded in tradition, charging into the future” – and encouraged graduates to embrace the words as they leave campus.
“I’m confident you will give back to your tribal community,” Duncan told them. “Pursue your passion – get up every day doing what you love.” Wherever their lives take them, he said, “When you come over the hill and see the Mission Mountains, you will know you are home.”
Before delivering the commencement address, Duncan dropped in on a Nike-sponsored basketball camp at nearby Two Eagle River School, where he ran 30 local youngsters through dribbling and shooting drills.
The secretary has the street cred for doing so. A co-captain of the Harvard University basketball team when he was a student, Duncan is not only still active in the sport, he was MVP at this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend Celebrity Games.
Duncan, who says he is 6-foot-5, told the kids he was only 5-3 when he started high school in Chicago.
Several of the children raised their hands when the secretary asked if any hoped to one day play professional basketball.
“Chase that dream,” Duncan told them, “but catch an education too.”
Indian country has lost one of its strongest, and most respected, voices.
Nisqually elder Billy Frank Jr. died Monday in Washington state at the age of 83.
As Indian Country Today Media Network reports, Frank fought for treaty rights in the Northwest – he was arrested more than 50 times while protesting for treaty fishing rights – and sovereignty throughout Indian Country.
He “guided opposing sides to agreement on how to protect natural resources, helped bring down two dams on the Elwha River (and) produced an Emmy Award-winning series on Indian country,” Richard Walker reported at ICTMN.”
He chaired the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for 34 years, served as a trustee of The Evergreen State College for seven.
Frank, whose honors included the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, was as comfortable in the Oval Office as he was in a tribal chairperson’s office.
“We in Indian country, collectively, will have to pick up the mantle,” state Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, said. “He was a giant in Indian country and we’re going to miss him.”
- Vince Devlin
American military pilots and their crews will be counting on employees of a company owned by Montana’s Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
The Missoulian reports that S&K Electronics will manufacture a key component that will be used in the Common Missile Warning System utilized by military helicopters to deter surface-to-air missiles, among other things. The announcement of the contract from BAE Systems, worth $1.8 million, came at a press conference in Pablo.
Larry Hall, the president and general manager of S&K Electronics, was beaming as he spoke to the crowd.
“We’re here to signify a growing relationship with BAE Systems,” he said. “It’s a major customer that we’ve had for several years. It’s reaching new milestones. We want to recognize this particular level and also make our workforce aware of what it means to the eventual user, which is the war fighter. One of the things that this particular system does is protect the people in the low-flying, slow-flying vehicles like helicopters, and that is a major, major effort.”
Hall said that the CMWS has saved a significant number of lives in the past several years, both in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The event attracted two-thirds of Montana’s Congressional delegation, Missoulian reporter David Erickson’s story noted.
U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., praised the economic impact, saying “These are manufacturing jobs that could be anywhere, and they’re right here up in the Flathead.”
U.S. Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., noted that he has a son who flies a Blackhawk helicopter and has been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“So I know how important this piece of equipment is, not only to our active duty military, but for our Reserve component service members, men and women who are flying aircraft right out of Montana,” Walsh said. “So I want to thank you for providing this service to the men and women who serve in our military.”
Daines and Walsh are running against each other this year for Walsh’s Senate seat.
- Vince Devlin
The threat of a protest by the Westboro Baptist Church at the Alaska Native Heritage Center has galvanized more than 1,000 people on a Facebook page, Indian Country Today Media Network reports.
But the Anchorage Daily News says
there’s a good chance no one from the church will even show up.
ICTMN, in a story by Vincent Schilling, says Donna Willoya began the Facebook page, called “No Westboro Baptist Protest at our AK Native Heritage Center!” after the church announced a protest there on June 1.
“We are uniting as Alaskans to honor and embrace our cultural diversity, to preserve our heritage and to teach future generations the importance of acceptance & respect for all people” (Willoya wrote on Facebook).
Willoya also posted in the group that though people may get angry at the WBC members for wanting to protest, she wishes the Native community not to respond with violence and sink to their level.
The page had gathered nearly 1,600 members by Wednesday morning.
But Tegan Hanlon at the Anchorage Daily News contacted Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who said the Westboro Church’s announcements of protests are often publicity stunts.
“Typically, they will call the local press, get a scary story about these awful people coming to town and not show up,” Potok said. “And what sometimes happens is you’ll be expecting 50 people and a man and two small children show up.”
ICTMN’s Schilling reported that the Westboro Baptist Church explained its “planned” protest at the heritage center thusly:
“… you make a religion out of the pagan idolatrous practices of past generations. There is nothing appealing or holy about the ‘heritage’ of the eleven ‘distinct cultures’ or ‘diverse population’ of Alaska. They walked in darkness and served idols of every kind, contrary to the direct commandment to have no gods before God.”
The Westboro Baptist Church is well-known for ignoring any concept of “love thy neighbor,” celebrating the funerals of American soldiers and claiming God “hates” homosexuals.
Here at the Buffalo Post we can usually summarize a story fairly well.
But Suzette Brewer’s excellent series at Indian Country Today Media Network about South Dakota’s wholesale removal of Indian children from their homes without due process requires full reading in and of itself.
You can do so here; this links you to part three, the latest, of the series.
Brewer is detailing a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Rosebud Sioux and Oglala Sioux tribes that challenged the state’s practices and procedures.
Indian parents in South Dakota allege that it had become an accepted practice by the state that they were never allowed to view the complaints or supporting documents filed by the state against them, much less present evidence or show the court whether or not an “emergency” still existed at the time of the hearings, which usually takes place two days after a child has been removed. Additionally, some of the hearings were being held whether or not the parents were even present. Therefore, the “48-hour hearings,” as they are known, became a launch pad for Native children to be swept into foster care for up to three months while their parents and tribes struggled to get them back.
Some of Part 3 of Brewer’s series tells about the plight of Madonna Pappan, who – along with her husband the young daughter, had gone to a friend’s home in Rapid City to visit and have some drinks in October of 2011.
At some point, Marlon Pappan took their daughter out to the car and both went to sleep, with the car running to keep them warm. Madonna checked on them twice, and they were fine, but the third time she went out they were gone.
Marlon had evidently decided to drive home, and had been arrested for DUI on the way.
Not only was her daughter taken from her that night, Madonna says, but the state later took an 11-year-old son into custody who had been at home with a babysitter on the night in question, and placed him into foster care.
South Dakota also refused Madonna’s request that her children be placed with her parents – a right specifically provided for by the Indian Child Welfare Act – even though her parents were already certified as foster parents and had taken in numerous children on an emergency basis.
The Pappans have never denied Marlon did what he did – he pleaded guilty to DUI – but the state alleged Madonna was also in the car when he was arrested, which was not true – the arresting officer had only spoken to her on the phone.
There’s much more to Brewer’s story, and more to come in the series. It’s well worth following at ICTMN.
- Vince Devlin
With no clues to go on, save for one dead trumpeter swan, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal game wardens faced an uphill road this winter in finding the person who shot it.
That changed after the tribes put out a press release seeking information, the Missoulian reports.
On Tuesday, two Polson (Mont.) men were fined, and had their hunting, fishing and recreating privileges on tribal lands suspended, in connection with the shooting.
A tip from a person who had knowledge of, and later read a newspaper story about, the trumpeter swan’s death led authorities to the pair, according to Germaine White, information and education specialist with the tribes’ Natural Resources Department.
Leroy Charles, who admitted to firing the shot that killed the swan in January, was fined $3,000 by CSKT Chief Judge Winona Tanner, including $1,500 for restitution for the 3-year-old trumpeter swan.
Charles also lost his bird-hunting, fishing and recreating privileges on tribal lands for five years, and was ordered to seek instruction from either the Salish Pend d’Oreille, or Kootenai, culture committee.
“Judge Tanner, on behalf of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, imposed the maximum penalty under the law because this was such a senseless act,” said CSKT attorney Larry Ginnings, who prosecuted the case.
White said the swan’s loss will be felt for years.
“What’s so tragic is this swan was pair-bonded,” White said, “so you’re not just losing one swan. All the reproductive cycles of that swan are also lost.”
- Vince Devlin