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A news blog about Native people and the world we live in
Updated: 2 hours 58 min ago

Flathead compact negotiations may reopen on narrow basis

Wed, 03/19/2014 - 11:54am

If negotiations are re-opened on a controversial proposed reserved water rights compact on the Flathead Indian Reservation, indications are the topics to be discussed would be narrowly defined.

Discussions on doing so have been held,  reports Matt Volz of the Associated Press reports.

But the dispute over who controls the water and how much is allocated to farmers, ranchers and others through the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project has intensified, and it is unclear whether a deal can be reached outside of a courtroom.

The hardening positions of those involved in the conflict were apparent Tuesday during a meeting of an interim legislative panel studying a proposed water-use agreement between irrigators and the tribes that was an appendix to the larger water rights compact.

The Flathead Joint Board of Control, which negotiated the water-use agreement with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes that accompanied the compact, disbanded after the Montana legislature rejected the compact in 2013. That created the need to revisit the agreement according to Chris Tweeten, chairman of the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission.

CSKT attorney Rhonda Swaney agreed the negotiations are needed now that the joint board of control has dissolved, but said the tribes don’t intend to reopen them fully.

“If changes are needed int he compact, they need to be agreed to by both sides,” Tweeten said. “Whatever one side might want to go forward with … can’t be dictated to the other.”

Categories: Native Sites

It’s March, it’s madness, and Indian country has players to watch

Wed, 03/19/2014 - 10:39am

At the start of this college basketball season, Brent Cahwee wrote about 10 Native American players – well, 11, actually – for fans to keep their eyes on at ndnsports.com.

Shoni and Jude Schimmel, members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, became the first Native Americans from a reservation to play in the NCAA women’s basketball championship last year, for Louisville (Photo by Rhonda Levaldo/courtesy ndnsports.com).

Now that March Madness is upon the nation, it’s time to remind folks that some of them are still playing. Two of the most notable are sisters Shoni and Jude Schimmel from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, who play for Louisville – a No. 3 seed in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

What hasn’t been said or written about the dynamic duo of sisters that have taken women’s college basketball and Indian country by storm. Shoni, described as a more flashy and “rez” ball style player and Jude, described as a more steady and blue collar player, helped lead the Louisville Cardinals to an appearance in the 2013 women’s national championship game.

(They made) an improbable run through the tournament by beating then-No. 1-ranked Baylor in what was has been called the women’s game of the century. The Lady Cardinals also beat Tennessee and California to reach the championship game, making the sisters the first Native Americans from a reservation to play in the NCAA championship game.

Louisville opens this year’s NCAA tourney against Idaho.

There are others on Cahwee’s list still playing, most notably Bronson Koenig of the Ho-Chunk Nation, a 6-3 freshman point guard at the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers are a No. 2 seed in the NCAA men’s tournament.

One Native star missing out on the rest of March is Marshall Henderson of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, who spent two tumultuous years at the University of Mississippi.

The Running Rebels made waves in last year’s NCAA Tournament, but did not qualify for it, or the NIT, in this, Henderson’s senior season.

Check out all of Cahwee’s Native stars at ndnsports.com.

- Vince Devlin

Categories: Native Sites

Native parents complain of racial abuse in California school district

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 12:14pm

When Michelle LaMirande and her three children returned to the Pit River Tribe’s reservation in Northern California, her son Tyler had grown his hair long in honor of his father, who had died from kidney disease when they lived in the Bay Area.

Four Pit River tribal members – from left, Tyler LaMirande, Mikaela Gali-LaMirande, Talissa Gali and Alexis Elmore – are among those saying they have been targeted for bullying in Burney, Calif., public schools because they are Native American (Photo by Marc Dadigan/Indian Country Today).

She says Tyler has endured abuse in the Burney, Calif., school system, and Indian Country Today reports he has not been alone.

In a story by Marc Dadigan, ICTMN says many parents believe the abuse is escalating, and complain that the schools aren’t doing anything to stop it.

Notes reading “Watch Your Redskinned Back” and “White Pride Bitch” were left March 4 in the lockers of two Pit River Tribe students at a Northern California high school where parents have alleged for months there is systemic, racially charged abuse of their children.

The notes were reported by parents to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, and deputies are investigating whether it constitutes a hate crime. Believing that the atmosphere at Burney Junior-Senior High School has become too toxic and dangerous, two Pit River parents have already transferred their children to the neighboring schools 16 miles away in Fall River Mills.

LaMirande and her son told Dadigan other students would pull Tyler down by his hair in gym class and call him a “long-haired freak” and homosexual slurs.

When Tyler was suspended in October after fighting a student who ridiculed his hair, the school principal allegedly told LaMirande she should cut his son’s hair to end the bullying.

ICTMN reports that parents’ complaints are “remarkably similar” to ones in recent legal complaints filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Yurok Tribe and Wiyot Tribe against two Humboldt County school districts.

- Vince Devlin

Categories: Native Sites

Code Talkers endorsement of Redskins name riles many

Sat, 03/15/2014 - 11:31am

The endorsement of the Washington Redskins’ nickname by seven World War II Navajo Code Talkers has set off a firestorm on the Navajo Reservation and beyond.

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder (Photo from ICTMN).

Indian Country Today Media Network reports outrage by descendants of code talkers and others, much of it directed at Navajo Code Talkers Association president Peter MacDonald, and much at Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Reports of the NCTA endorsement showed up on Facebook late in the afternoon of February 28, and the news spread quickly. Here are a few typical posts.

“People are crying. I almost threw up when I read it.”

“Sad day… so much for honor.”

“Rather give more attention to the medicine man association… code talkers have become nationalist puppets and fall for anything.”

Several Navajo descendants and other Navajo citizens expressed suspicion about MacDonald and his motives. Their common theme was, “He divided the Nation.” A former Navajo Nation president, MacDonald was removed from office by the Navajo Tribal Council in 1989 under suspicion of accepting kickbacks from contractors and corporations.

The ICTMN story, by Gale Courey Toensing, said MacDonald sees nothing racist about the Redskins name, and thinks there are far more pressing problems in Indian Country.

“You press people! I don’t know what’s wrong with you! We have so many issues with Native American people – states, the federal government stealing our water, taking our land. There’s poverty and high unemployment on Indian reservations. Why don’t you go over there and report those things? Is the change of [the] name going to change poverty on Navajo? Will that create thousands of jobs?

“There’s the cancer rate, as well as diabetes, alcoholism, the suicide rate – all much higher than outside society. It’s a third-world nation in the back door of the United States. Report that!”

Toensing’s story is also highly critical of Snyder’s attempts to woo support in Indian Country for the NFL team’s nickname.

- Vince Devlin

Categories: Native Sites