By Christina Rose, Native Sun News associate editor
RAPID CITY — No matter what she decides, whether it’s to be a dancer, poet, or psychologist, Mariah Brewer, a junior at Stevens High School, has a solid future ahead of her. Having danced for 10 of her 16 years, a visit to Prima Ballet on West Main St, Rapid City, proved that years spent in training have proved fruitful.
Teacher Alyssa Record described Mariah as a beautiful dancer, and she is often cast as a feature dancer with dance troupes, such as the Russian Ballet, that come to Rapid City through the Black Hills Theatre.
Right now Mariah is researching colleges that fit her future.
“I used to want to audition for Julliard, but then I was exposed to a broader spectrum of dance,” she said.
As of right now, Mariah is hoping to attend the University of Wyoming where she took part in the Snowy Ridge Summer Dance Festival. However, she is keeping her options open and also considering the University of Minnesota and University of Montana.
While Mariah is aware of the opportunities that living in New York City or Los Angeles might afford, she said, “I like the big cities, but I don’t want to live in them.”
Even though Mariah has focused on Modern Dance, she remembers her Lakota traditions. She currently dances almost three hours a day and said she doesn’t have time for pow wow dancing anymore.
“I used to jingle dance when I was younger. I still like learning about my culture and I am proud of being Lakota. I spoke Lakota when I was young. I learned it while I was Dakota Head Start, and when we went to Pine Ridge.I don’t forget it.”
Planning ahead for her career, Mariah is looking at splitting her goals between dance and psychology.
“My sister is getting a degree in psychology,” she said, “and I have always enjoyed helping people and learning how people deal with things,” Brewer said.
Jennifer Glen, Mariah’s mother, said Mariah has so many gifts there are a multitude of things she could do.
Apparently her mother is not her only fan.
“I entered a poem in a contest, and I got back a letter about having my poem published,” Mariah said. “After that I was accepted into new contests, so I have two published right now.”
Mariah said her poems are often about what she is feeling at the time.
“I wrote about my very first break-up. The second one was about how I feel that society is turning away from what is really important. Nowadays people are focusing less on God and what God gives them each day, like their talents,” Mariah said.
Mariah’s 4.0 grade point average shows that she takes her studies seriously.
“She is working to keep her grades up because she wants to be able to get into a good school. I know they look at the whole package,” Glen said.
As excited as Brewer is about going to college, she said, “It’s going to be hard to leave all the things I have been involved with, but I am excited to meet new people. I’ll miss my mom and my bird.”
Mariah’s Grandfather Melvin “Dickie” Brewer, originally from Pine Ridge and now living in Denver, Colo., called Native Sun News to say how special he thinks his granddaughter is.
He was the first advertising sales representative for the original Lakota Times on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1981. He is also proud of Mariah’s mothers.
“She is such a good Mom; nobody has a bad thing to say about her. She has done such a good job raising Mariah. The thing I like about her is she is always so grateful for anything anybody does for them.”
Contact Christina Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There, they met with wildlife and transportation officials to learn more about the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ wildlife crossing and underpasses.
As Char-Koosta News reporter Lailani Upham wrote, the visit to the U.S. arose from the changes to the landscape such as more roads and railways have fragmented wildlife habitat and disrupted the migrations of iconic Mongolian species such as saiga antelope, gazelles and khulan.
The “safe passages” like the one built by CSKT not only conserve critical wildlife migration corridors but protect motorists, Upham wrote.
The crossings of underground passages for wildlife began installment in 2007 along US Highway 93 under a project called The Peoples Way. The project was collaboration with the Montana Department of Transportation, the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, and the Federal Highway Administration as equal partners negotiating on an agreed approach that met needs of safety, capacity, culture, wildlife, and landscape.
The crossings allow from large to small animals to cross such as: moose, elk, deer, bears, mountain lions, bobcats, muskrats skunks, raccoons, badgers, mice rabbits wood rats, weasels, pheasants, and eve partridges.
Today, there are ten wildlife underground crossing structures with one wildlife over-crossing that span across the Flathead Reservation along the 56.3-mile corridor on Highway 93 from Evaro to Polson.
One Mongolian official on the trip said “urgent measures” are needed to help restore habitat connectivity there.
“There is significant development happening in the Gobi Desert and Eastern Steppe of Mongolia, and there will be impacts from that development,” said tour leader and WCS Mongolia Program Manager, Kina Murphy. “Our goal is to equip the relevant ministries and private sector of Mongolia with the capacity to make informed decisions about measures that can mitigate impacts of linear infrastructure caused by mining and other industries.”
Is “The Lone Ranger” Disney’s “make-good” to Native Americans? Or was it just good PR?
The film, set to be released in July, features Johnny Depp in full makeup and dramatic costume as the Ranger’s sidekick, Tonto.
As Enk writes, the getup didn’t cause much documented commotion – yet.
Here’s Enk’s column:
Have you noticed that there has been (rather surprisingly) very little public outrage over Johnny Depp being cast as Tonto in “The Lone Ranger”? That’s because Disney, in true Tonto style, heads it off at the pass.
Depp plays the Ranger’s Native American partner in the upcoming multi-million dollar extravaganza that reunites the superstar with his “Pirates of the Caribbean” director (for the first three installments, anyway), Gore Verbinski. Disney wants “The Lone Ranger” to follow in the footsteps of “Pirates” and become a major franchise for the studio, a mission that included making sure that Depp’s casting didn’t offend the Native American community.
Disney, as always, played it smart and savvy. The studio – and Depp – embarked on a broad outreach program early in pre-production, courting Native American approval long before cameras rolled by having several Native American leaders involved in the script’s development. During filming, Depp – who has identified himself as being of Native American ancestry – was adopted into the Comanche Nation via a private ceremony in the presence of then-tribal chairman Johnny Wauqua.
Disney even had local Navajo elders perform a Navajo blessing before production commenced in Monument Valley, and LaDonna Harris, a leader of the Americans For Indian Opportunity, was invited on set. The good relations continued after production wrapped, with Depp flying to Lawton, Oklahoma to join “his people” at the Comanche Nation Fair.
Disney has also created a character worthy of all of this attention and approval. The Tonto of the 1950s television show spoke broken English and lacked character depth, serving as little more than an amusing sidekick to the heroic Ranger. Depp’s Tonto is claimed to be an authentic portrayal of the character’s rich Comanche heritage.
Chris Eyre, the Native American director of “Smoke Signals” and TV’s “Freedom Riders,” approves of Disney’s approach. “I’m not looking to this movie to be the Native ‘Schindler’s List,’” says Eyre. “But I completely respect Johnny Depp for making this movie happen and for him to try and rewrite Tonto for a new generation.”
With this revisionist take on Tonto, Disney hopes to not only wipe away the insensitivity of the old “Lone Ranger” television show but also its own controversial past regarding Native American characters. The studio’s 1995 animated feature, “Pocohontas,” was criticized for fostering negative stereotypes of Native Americans, particularly through one of the film’s key songs, “Savages.”
We’ll have to see if all of these good intentions translate into box office dollars. “The Lone Ranger” certainly has the potential to be a “Pirates”-sized hit (though, let’s face it, it’s highly unlikely) – or it could be a gigantic flop of “Wild Wild West” proportions. The film hits theaters on July 3.
The last known active speaker of the Yurok Tribe who helped revitalize the language through mentoring and education programs during the past two decades has died.
Los Angeles Times reporter Lee Romney reports that Archie Thompson, 93, died March 26 of a stroke.
One of the few remainig full-blooded Yurok, Thompson was part of an effort in the last years to teach the Yurok language with a push in the past decades.
He was also the last of about 20 elders who helped revitalize the language over the last few decades, after academics in the 1990s predicted it would be extinct by 2010.
He made recordings of the language that were archived by UC Berkeley linguists and the tribe, spent hours helping to teach Yurok in community and school classrooms, and welcomed apprentice speakers to probe his knowledge.
It paid off: A recent tally by the tribe’s language program indicated there are more than 300 basic Yurok speakers, 60 with intermediate skills, 37 who are advanced and 17 who are considered conversationally fluent.
Yurok is now taught in public schools across Humboldt and Del Norte counties, including in five high schools, and the revitalization effort is widely considered the most successful in the state. Linguists say the Yurok language will be considered fully out of danger, however, only when tribal members begin speaking it to their children in the home.
. . .
Thompson was born May 26, 1919, in a smokehouse in Wa’tek Village, now known as Johnsons, on the Klamath River. At age 5, he was sent to a government-run boarding school in Hoopa, about 30 miles to the southeast, where he was discouraged from speaking Yurok or engaging in cultural practices.
He would open and close the school gates for visitors, often receiving a penny or a nickel in return, he recalled in a January interview with The Times. He returned home at age 8, and after his mother attempted to put him up for adoption, his grandmother, Rosie Jack Hoppell, took him in, according to his daughter.
. . .
He is survived by seven of his eight children, 29 grandchildren, 72 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
The Billings Gazette debuted a series of stories last week about the suicide epidemic that continues to have a devastating grip on reservations across the state.
Reporter Cindy Uken began by telling Letitia Stewart’s story.
Stewart’s son shot himself as she pleaded with him not to take his own life.
Uken’s stories point out that Montana Native Americans have the highest rate of suicide in a state that has the highest rate in the nation.
All the factors that contribute to Montana’s alarming number of suicides – high rates of alcohol use and gun ownership, insufficient mental health care, rural isolation and joblessness – are compounded on the state’s Indian reservations.
During the winter on some reservations, unemployment can jump to 80 percent. Sexual and domestic violence is endemic and the high school dropout rate hovers at about 44 percent.
On top of that is a taboo in some Native American cultures against speaking of the dead, especially the victims of suicide.
Uken also featured a story about a mother who is breaking taboo by calling out her dead son’s name and speaking out for suicide prevention.
The final installment featured a look at programs that could help break the cycle of suicide. She visited Plenty Coups High School on the Crow Indian Reservation during a suicide prevention workshop.
Mark LoMurray, founder and executive director of Sources of Strength, a youth suicide-prevention project, led the student workshop. Training was also conducted for staff and parents as part of a “reformation” underway at Plenty Coups High School, according to the school’s principal, Sam Bruner.
“It’s getting students to recognize that they have sources of strength,” Bruner said.
The program is designed to encourage youth to seek help from trusted adults and to equip youth with coping skills. It also seeks to diminish the code of silence among youth and social networks, and reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness.
A bundle of Uken’s stories can be found here
Uken’s reporting on Montana’s suicide epidemic was undertaken with the help of a California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism.
A unique collection of 70 katsina friends sacred to the Hopi Indians is to be sold April 12 in Paris.
But as the Associated Press reports, the Hopi Tribe in Arizona is asking Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou to cancel the auction.
Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, director of the tribe’s cultural preservation office, said the religious items have no commercial value and should be in the hands of the American Indian tribes from which they were taken, including the pueblos of Jemez, Acoma and Zuni in New Mexico. The sale of such items isn’t extraordinary, but the size of the collection to be auctioned in Paris and the age of the items is, he said.
The majority of the 70 katsina friends are labeled as Hopi and date back to the late 19th century and early 20th century. Kuwanwisiwma said they likely were collected from the Hopi in the 1930s and 1940s when there was documented evidence of a French citizen on the northern Arizona reservation.
“A lot of these objects were collected under suspicious conditions,” he said. “You had such a huge competition by museums to collect artifacts from tribal reservations, and Hopi was no exception.”
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act doesn’t apply to item held internationally, the story said. The Heard Museum in Phoenix is helping in the Hopi push to stop the auction. The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People could help, museum representatives told the AP.
Jose Viarreal, editor of the website artdaily.org, published the news release and said he received calls afterward from Hopis furious about the sale. He said he contacted the auction house and was told the items were obtained legally.
“I think this is going to go through as planned,” he said.