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A news blog about Native people and the world we live in
Updated: 7 hours 57 min ago

Father hopes for best, fears worst for missing Blackfeet actress

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 3:11pm

The worried father of a missing Blackfeet actress fears she may have committed suicide, Indian Country Today Media Network reports.

Actress Misty Upham, shows at the Los Angeles premiere of “August: Osage County” last year, has been missing for a week (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for the Weinstein Company/AP Images).

Misty Upham, whose work in “Frozen River” (2008) and “August: Osage County” (2013) garnered her good reviews, has been missing for more than a week, according to her father Charles Upham.

Charles describes his daughter’s behavior as “erratic” following a change in medication she was taking. “She told me and her mom that we didn’t have to worry about her any more,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “I thought it sounded suicidal myself, so I called the police. She’s always been a suicidal person.”

On the other hand, there may be reason for hope: In the latest posting to Misty’s Facebook page, Charles writes that the family has been “chasing down leads” and has heard of “possible sightings in Seattle.” He asks those in the area to search “the wooded areas near the Muckleshoot Casino.”

The ICTMN story said police are not looking for Misty because she does not meet the criteria for a missing person. When officers responded to the apartment where she was living with her parents for a “suicidal call” they discovered the actress had packed her bags and left.

They were unable to locate her, and do not classify her departure as “unexplainable, involuntary or suspicious.”

Misty Upham most recently co-starred in “Cake,” which features Jennifer Aniston in the lead role.

Categories: Native Sites

Seattle set to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:52am


Christopher Columbus will likely lose his “day” in Seattle (Illustration courtesy of Wikipedia/ICTMN).

Columbus Day is about to go the way of the dinosaur in Seattle, where the city is expected to replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Richard Walker of Indian Country Today reports that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray anticipates signing a resolution to that effect on Oct. 13. Walker’s story says Matt Remle, a Hunkpapa Lakota educator, lobbied the city council for the change. The council was expected to approve the resolution Sept. 2, but held off because the mayor is required to sign resolutions within 10 days of approval and Murray wants to sign it on Oct. 13 – the 2014 date for Columbus Day.

Tulalip Tribes Council member Theresa Sheldon said it’s past time to stop honoring Christopher Columbus, whose exploration of the Caribbean for Spain included enslavement, rape, mutilation and murder.

“On behalf of all our indigenous and non-indigenous ancestors who established the United States of America, it’s a true blessing and about time that all citizens of [the] USA and the City of Seattle support the changing of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day,” Sheldon said.

“Columbus fed newborn babies to his dogs. He cut off the hands of the indigenous people if they refused to be his slave[s] … [He] started a sex trade of 10- to 12-year-old girls for men of privilege to rape.”

She added, “The notion that these Indigenous Peoples had no rights under the Spanish king and their religion, so these acts of terror were acceptable, is completely un-American. We would never support such a villain today. This is the first step in correcting the true history of the United States and recognizing the serious wrongs that were done to a beautiful and loving people, the indigenous people of the [Caribbean].”

Remle, meantime, told Indian Country Today he hopes the resolution will lead Seattle Public Schools to adopt indigenous history curricula, and encourage businesses, organizations and public institutions to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.



Categories: Native Sites

Maine village votes to allow offensive road name

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:15am

Selectmen in Wiscasset, Maine, have voted to allow a private road to be named Redskins Drive, much to the displeasure of Maine Indian tribes (Photo courtesy of ICTMN).


In Washington D.C. an NFL owner won’t change his team’s longstanding nickname that many Native Americans find offensive, but in one community in Maine, selectmen are voting to put the same name on a previously unnamed road.

Indian Country Today reports that Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk Francis and former Chief James Sappier have asked the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen to rescind their vote that OK’d the naming of a private road as “Redskins Drive.”

The offensive word has been a contentious issue in Wiscasset for years. In 2012 after a bitter yearlong battle, the school committee voted 4-1 to change the Wiscasset High School’s mascot from Redskins to Wolverines.

Francis told the selectmen that Nation citizens appreciated sharing their history and perspectives on the use of the Redskins name with the people of Wiscasset during that battle. “We remain grateful for the understanding and good will those leaders demonstrated by changing the name of their mascot. We understand that change is difficult and that people may feel nostalgic about certain aspects of their past, but we cannot quietly accept a sentimentality that hurts our people.”

The word is so offensive to American Indians generally and particularly to Maine’s Wabanaki nations – the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac tribal nations—because it reminds them of a time when they were hunted by settlers and their bodies and scalps sold to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Frances wrote. “The 1755 Spencer Phips Proclamation placed a bounty specifically on my people, the Penobscot, offering payment up to 50 pounds for each man, woman and child. When scalps were brought in for payment, they were referred to as ‘redskins,’” Francis wrote.

In her ICTMN story, reporter Gale Courey Toensing interviewed one of the selectmen who voted to allow the name change, Bill Barnes.

Barnes told Toensing he did not think the name was either bad or offensive. When Toensing asked Barnes if he was Indian, he replied, “Nah, but I think what needs to be done is remember the Indians so they don’t get forgotten because if it hadn’t been for the Indians in this country the white man would have never survived.”


Categories: Native Sites

Senator’s hearings focus on sex trafficking near Bakken

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:39am

Native American girls as young as 12 are being targeted for sex trafficking as the Bakken oilfield boom unfolds in North Dakota and Montana.

Approximately 100 people attended a listening session hosted by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., at Fort Peck Community College concerning sex trafficking (Photo courtesy of Tester’s office).

Indian Country Today Media Network reports that U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., held a listening session at Fort Peck Community College on the subject late last month.

The listening session was aimed at gathering more information from tribal leaders and local law enforcement regarding the spike in sex trafficking of underage girls, as well as other related crimes that have increased since the oil boom began in the Bakken region. Also among the panelists at Thursday’s session was United States Attorney Mike Cotter, who appeared at the event to voice the growing alarm shared by he and his colleagues in Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming, about the exploding industry of human trafficking involving mostly Native girls aged 12 to 14 who are being sold for sex.

“If you look around the rural regions of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, you would not expect to find 12-14 year old girls sold for sex on the Internet, or lured by an adult for sex or forced into a life of servitude by predators to sell their bodies to strangers,” Cotter told the audience of about 100 tribal leaders, community members and law enforcement. “It is hard to imagine but it is here in our region, and this corruption occurs with too much frequency and is more prevalent than one would imagine.”

Suzette Brewer of ICTMN reported that traffickers target young girls from low-income homes where one or both parents are absent. Many are already victims of child abuse and neglect and struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.

Tribal leaders said their police forces are underfunded, understaffed and “ill-equipped to take on Mexican cartels, who they say have infiltrated the region and are well-organized and armed with heavy weaponry, including machine guns,” Brewer reported.

Categories: Native Sites

Texas school sends kindergartner home for braid

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 12:13pm

The excitement for his first day of school at F.J. Young Elementary in Seminole, Texas, didn’t last long for 5-year-old Malachi Wilson.

Indian Country Today Media Network reports that school officials sent him home and told him to “cut his hair.”

Five-year-old Malachi Wilson shows the braid that got him sent home from school on his first day of kindergarten (Photo by Native News Online).

Wilson, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, has a braid.

“After we had enrolled him he was excited. He was ready to go. Everyday it was—the question, ‘Mom, [am I] going to school?’” his mother, April Wilson, told CBS-affiliate Channel 7.

But that notable day in a child’s life would not happen for Malachi. He was turned away by school officials and sent home.

School administrators required that April bring documentation from the Navajo Nation proving Malachi’s indigenous parentage. April immediately contacted the Navajo Nation and the document was delivered to school officials. Malachi was enrolled after the school approved of the document’s authenticity.

Indian Country Today reporter Simon Moya-Smith said social media lit up after the incident.

“That story gets so much worse when you find out it happened in Seminole, TX, where students are called ‘Indians and Maidens,’” Twitter user Emily Lakdawalla wrote. The school’s mascot is an Indian and the school’s logo is of an Indian with feathers on his head.

The school defended its actions by citing procedure and school policy, Moya-Smith wrote. According to the school’s handbook, “certain recognized religious or spiritual beliefs may qualify from an exemption from provisions of the dress code. … Any exceptions to the dress code must receive prior approval by the campus administrator.”

Categories: Native Sites

Navajo victims had homes, just not in Albuquerque

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 11:21am

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.

This is the homeless encampment in Albuquerque where three teenagers are accused of beating two homeless Navajo men to death on July 19 (Photo by Jeri Clausing/Associated Press)

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.”

Categories: Native Sites

BC music festival nixes warbonnets

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 12:09pm

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.

Indian Country Today Media Network says this photo from GQ’s “Girls of Coachella 2010″ has become a “signature image of the hipster-headdress-at-music-fest phenomenon” (Photo by GQ.com).

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.

Categories: Native Sites

Native groups want judge’s inappropriate emails released

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 10:21am

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?

U.S. U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebul, now retired, is pictured in 2011 (Associated Press).

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.

Categories: Native Sites

Cowboys, Indians band together to protest Keystone pipeline

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 10:30am

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline buried some of their protest on May 31 and June 1.

Sacred red corn is planted in the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska by members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance (Photo by Mary Anne Andrei/Bold Nebraska).

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.

Categories: Native Sites

Oklahoma man’s map shows original names, locations of tribes

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 11:39am

Aaron Carapella’s decade-long project began by marking poster boards hanging on his bedroom walls.

Aaron Carapella’s map shows locations of Indian tribes before their first contact with Europeans (Photo by Hansi Lo Wang/NPR)

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.”

Categories: Native Sites