Native High School Veterinary Program Empowers Students

“It’s 8 a.m. in the vast, chilly agricultural-science building, and Clyde McBride is reaching deep into the back end of a cow to deposit prize-winning bull semen. Sixteen teenagers, bunched into a tight semicircle, watch silently, necks craning. Not one of them asks that most pervasive of high school questions: ‘Why do I have to learn this?’ … The students in Monument Valley High School’s ‘ag-science’ program know exactly why they are learning to perform artificial insemination. It empowers them to provide veterinary services that are scarce and crucial to their families and neighbors here in Navajo Nation.” Education Week

Clyde McBride

 

Excerpt: Clyde McBride Recognized for Leadership in Technical Education, Education Week

“It boosts their employability, confidence, and future wage earnings. And it opens doorways to college. Here in the northeastern corner of Arizona, on an arid plain edged with sandy orange spires and pine-dotted mesas, teenagers have a rare opportunity to practice what policy wonks preach: to study academics through a lens that matters to them. A keen sense of relevance, and of community service, runs deep in students’ work here, where many Navajo families depend on livestock for their livelihood.

Clyde McBride, who is the director of career and technical education in the 2,000-student Kayenta Unified school district, started this program in 1990 and has built it into a powerhouse that catapults students past the odds they’d face without it. In a Native American community of high poverty and unemployment, his 200 students outscore their peers statewide on math and English tests, and 100 percent graduate from high school, outstripping the statewide average by 22 percentage points. Three-quarters of McBride’s graduates enroll in college or training programs. The rest go straight into the workforce.

Responding to Community Need

McBride didn’t focus his agricultural-science program on veterinary skills at random. He saw that it was what the community wanted and needed. People kept asking: Can you come out and treat my colicky horse? Can you help birth our lambs? And there were emergencies, like the time a family’s sheep herd was attacked by wild dogs. McBride summoned a group of students, grabbed his bag of supplies, and raced out to the homestead. Suturing and bandaging like mad, they saved the family’s herd—and their livelihood.

Now, the ag-science building functions as both classroom and community clinic. Dogs, cats, goats, cows, sheep, and horses flow through its big doors all day—more than 12,000 animal patients in the past five years. For a modest fee, community members can get a range of services that are either impossible to find nearby or are too costly.

Photo PBS

Trevon Neztsosie, a senior in the program, says he likes the hands-on approach to learning better than sitting in a classroom. With his skills, he can far out-earn the burger flippers down the street and he can help his family, by taking over vaccinations of their sheep, goats, and cattle.‘I like it when I can do something useful.'”

Category: Education

‘Killa’: A New Film About Saving Natives

“The director of Ecuador’s first Kichwa-language movie wants the public to know the plot-line but also that the problems facing all Indigenous Peoples in this hemisphere are based on colonialism and a lack of sovereignty.”  R. Kerns, ICTMN

Alberto Muenala, a highly respected Kichwa scholar and filmmaker directed “Killa”, a film presenting the issues Indigenous Peoples . Courtesy Frida Muenala

Excerpt:  Killa’: The Indigenous Story Against Mining and Corruption, by Rick Kerns, ICTMN

“The movie Killa (pronounced keeja) premiered in the second week of March. It tells the story of a Kichwa (one of the Quechua related ethnicities) photojournalist who takes incriminating photos of a mining company operation and how ‘a corrupt government official takes ruthless steps to stop their publication.’ The local Indigenous community rallies in defense of their land against the mining operation and that leads to a conflict with government forces.

With this film we hope to demonstrate how our values and principles of maternal respect to the Pachamama (Mother Earth) can lead all of us toward the ultimate goal of sumak kawsay (good living)—respect, dignity, and cultural coexistence.

Killa is the culmination of our community’s search for a cinematic voice. This ambitious project is the first feature-length film written, directed, and produced by Kichwa filmmakers in our native Kichwa language.

[ According to Director Albert Muenala] ‘Every day we are subjected to a process of continued colonialism that does not allow for the self-determination of the peoples; it has become common practice to auction and sell off territories to transnational oil and mining companies without prior consent of the first peoples,’.

The Mestizo audiences in Quito and Tulcan left the theaters pleased to see another way of making movies that show realities that they themselves are not aware of in themselves too (racism), as well as seeing how the attitudes of the rulers played out, Muenala stated. Killa will be shown in other parts of Ecuador and Muenala is hoping to bring the movie to the U.S. and elsewhere through film festivals.”

Category: Films

Native Superheroes Comic Rebooted in 2017

“In comics and graphic novels, Native American characters aren’t usually very prominent. They’re often sidekicks — or worse. But a new publisher focused exclusively on Native writers and artists is changing that. Called Native Realities, the company just released the reboot of the first all-Native superhero comic.” M. Kamerick, NPR

Tribal Force Native Super Heroes

Excerpt:  With This Publisher, Native American Superheroes Fly High, Megan Kamerick, NPR

“Comics creator Jon Proudstar remembers the first time he saw a Native American character in a comic. It was Thunderbird, in the X-Men, and he was quickly killed off. Proudstar was 8 years old and he was not happy. ‘And for years I just lamented about it and said one day I’ll bring him back,’  he says.

Proudstar, who is Yaqui and Mexican, went one better. He created the first comic book to feature a whole team of Native American superheroes. Tribal Force debuted in 1996 — but the publisher went out of business after just one issue. ‘For years I kept trying to get a publisher, and nobody would touch us,’  Proudstar recalls.

Jon Proudstar created Tribal Force in 1996 — now, it’s being rebooted by Native Realities. Ron Joseph:Weshoyot Alvitre:Native Realities

Then Proudstar found Lee Francis and Native Realities Press, which focuses on Native writers, artists, and game designers. Francis, who’s from Laguna Pueblo, N.M., calls himself an ‘Indiginerd’…Francis was an educator before becoming an entrepreneur. He says Native kids don’t have representations of themselves in popular media and culture,  and to be able to create these kinds of characters and distribute these kinds of characters is really what we’re all about. Native Realities also published Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers, edited by Kickapoo author Arigon Starr — best known for her comic book Super Indian — and created with a slew of other Native writers and artists.

Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers focuses on the many tribes that were involved in covert communications during World War II — not just the Navajo. Native Realities

‘We all knew there were other tribes that were involved in the codetalking project besides the Navajo,’ Starr says. The book is designed like a graphic novel, and made up of historical vignettes. ‘Here’s the story of two Creek soldiers in Sitka, Alaska, versus the Japanese. We’re trying to do this on multilevels … to get the stories out there, but also to show language and culture.’

Tribal Force

Native Realities founder Lee Francis is working on the second Indigenous ComicCon, slated for the fall. He’ll publish more comics and games this year as well — they’ll be available online, in schools and at Native American community centers.”

Category: Culture

‘Two Spirit’ Is Not An Interchangeable Term for ‘Gay’

“When attempting to explain the concept of Two Spirit people in Indian country, many people may visualize images of Unicorns and Rainbows, Donna Summers and Seventies disco balls. Try to explain the concept of Two Spirit outside Indian country, and you may as well throw in war bonnets and glitter. The term Two Spirit has been present in Native communities for countless generations that predate LGBTQ terminology.” T. Enos ICTMN

Tony Enos at Oceti Sakowin in front of the Two-Spirit Nation camp.

Excerpt: …Things You Should Know About Two Spirit People By Tony Enos, ICNM

For generations, Two Spirit Native culture went underground to avoid detection and persecution.Today the Two Spirit movement has been negatively affected by rumor, gossip, the tyranny of western religion, and an all-around lack of information.

Here are [some] misconceptions and/or things you should know about Two Spirit people that may help foster a better understanding of the Two Spirit community.

Two Spirit is not a contemporary ‘new-age’ movement-While the term Two Spirit was coined in 1990 In Winnipeg, Canada as a means of unifying various gender identities and expressions of Native American/First Nations/Indigenous individuals, the term is not a specific definition of gender, sexual orientation or other self-determining catch-all phrase, but rather an umbrella term.

A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder BY Ma-Nee Chacaby

Gay is not an interchangeable term with Two Spirit-Being a gay native is oftentimes confused with being Two Spirit. While the two may have parallels and intersections, they are not the same. Gay specifically is about attraction to a person of the same sex. Two Spirit is more about the embodiment of two genders residing within one person.

The Two Spirit Road is a road of long held traditions, prayer and responsibility-Living as a Two Spirit is not all pride parades and hot pants. To be of service to our elders and youth with our very particular medicine is paramount. If we lose our traditions, our songs, our medicines, and our languages, and make no effort to restore what was lost, we doom ourselves.

Two Spirits

Two Spirit people held significant roles and were an integral part of a tribal social structures-Two Spirit people held a meaningful place in the sacred hoop.  In many tribes Two Spirits were balance keepers.

Making Connections

Two Spirit is a term only appropriate for Native people-Two Spirit is a role that existed in a Native American/First Nations/Indigenous tribe for gender queer, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming tribal members.”

Category: Culture

Town [sort of] Pushes to Stop Selling Beer to Natives

“Whiteclay is a rural skid row, with only a dozen residents, a street strewn with debris, four ramshackle liquor stores and little else. It seems to exist only to sell beer to people like Tyrell Ringing Shield, a grandmother…On a recent morning, she had hitched a ride from her home in South Dakota, just steps across the state line. There, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, alcohol is forbidden. In Whiteclay, though, it reigns supreme.” J. Boseman, The New York Times

Tyrell Ringing Shield,with her partner of 16 years, Stewart, said Nebraska should not renew the liquor licenses for the stores in Whiteclay, Neb. Credit K. Barker NYT,

Excerpt: Nebraska May Stanch One Town’s Flow of Beer to Its Vulnerable Neighbors by Julie Bosman New York Times

“’You visit, you talk, you laugh, you drink,’ said Ms. Ringing Shield, 57, as she stood on the sidewalk with friends, chain-smoked Montclair cigarettes and recounted her struggles with alcoholism, diabetes and cirrhosis. ‘It makes you forget.’

Over the decades, there have been frequent protests outside the stores. Lawsuits against the retailers and beer distributors have been filed. Boycotts of brewers that sell to the stores have begun with enthusiasm. All those efforts have sputtered, though, and little has changed.

Graffiti in Whiteclay urging alcohol consumers to free their spirit. Credit- K Barker for NYT

Now many residents of Nebraska and South Dakota are pushing for the liquor stores of Whiteclay to be shut, disgusted by the easy access to alcohol the stores provide to a people who have fought addiction for generations. The Nebraska authorities, in turn, have tightened scrutiny of the stores, which sell millions of cans of beer and malt liquor annually. Last year, for the first time, the state liquor commission ordered the stores’ six owners to reapply for their liquor licenses…The issue has left people in South Dakota and Nebraska deeply divided. Most agree that alcohol abuse on the reservation is an entrenched problem, but they are unsure of the solution — and who is responsible.

WhiteClay. Photo: -Daily Mail

WhiteClay. Photo: -Daily Mail

The grim scene in Whiteclay has scarcely changed for decades. Particularly in the warmer months, Native Americans can be seen openly drinking beer in town, often passed out on the ground, disheveled and ill. Many who come to Whiteclay from the reservation spend the night sleeping on mattresses in vacant lots or fields. Even under the chill of winter, people huddle outside the liquor stores, silver beer cans poking from coat pockets.

A man sits outside WhiteClay Grocery, where he will likely spend the night. Next to him, another man lies passed out in his own urine.

Others argue that the problem of alcohol abuse on the reservation goes well beyond the stores in Whiteclay. Even some Native Americans said they were uneasy over upsetting the status quo. Vance Blacksmith, 47, a Native American and teacher on the reservation, said he favored leaving the stores alone.

‘They’re not hurting anyone,’ he said. “Drinking is a personal choice. The people who drink are trying to accept life as it is. And it’s depressing, being here on Pine Ridge.’

Terry Robbins, the sheriff of Sheridan County, has found himself at the center of the fight over Whiteclay. Sheriff Robbins echoed a common sentiment heard from both Nebraskans and Native Americans: If the stores lose their licenses and close down, people in search of beer will just drive farther to get it, endangering themselves and others on the roads. He favors containing the problem in Whiteclay, rather than allowing it to spread out over the county’s nearly 2,500 square miles.

Passed out in fron tof liquor store in WhiteClay. Photo-indianz.

‘The people that want to drink are going to drive and get alcohol somewhere,’ he said. ‘What I’m thinking is that it’s going to put more drunk drivers on the country roads.’”

Category: Culture, Health

New Elk Hide Provides Glimpse into Native Culture

“The Rockwell Museum has a new addition to its Native American Gallery. It’s a painted elk hide estimated to be about 100-years-old. The painting on the hide shows a visual record of a traditional buffalo hunt, and what would have happened back at the camp once the hunt was over.” M. Ross, My Twin Tiers News”

Rockwell’s New Elk Hide

Excerpt: The Rockwell Museum has a new addition to its Native American Gallery.  Michelle Ross, My Twin Tiers News

“It’s believed to have been made by Washakie or one of his followers – a famous artist in the Shoshone tribe. The museum says the work was made during captivity on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

Chief Washakie, Shoshone

‘One of the most fascinating aspects to me is this division of labor that you see depicted on the hide that is really split along gender lines,’ Rockwell Curator of Collections said.

Members of the Shoshone tribe

There were very specific jobs that men would have done and very specific jobs that only the women would have done.

Elk Hide Robe Shoshone, 1900 The Brooklyn Museum

hide painting by Shoshone Chief Washakie Buffalo Hunt

The museum also has an activity for families where children can trace symbols of the Indian nation on a paper hide to illustrate events during their own year.” 

Category: Culture