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

Natives March On White House to Rally for Rights!

“March 10, 2017, Organizers of the Native Nations Rise march say it was intended as a show of solidarity against a federal government that has long shunted aside indigenous concerns on a range of environmental, economic and social issues.” J.Helm, The Washington Post

An activist puts on a giant “Make America Great Again” hat while protesting outside the Army Corps of Engineers office. A. Wong:Getty Images

Excerpt: American Indians around the U.S. march on White House in rally for rights By Joe Helm, The Washington Post

“With wet snow falling, the demonstration started just east of Verizon Center, as the marchers set out on a course through downtown. Despite the foul weather, the protesters were in good spirits, cheering loudly and chanting, ‘We’re cold, we’re wet, We ain’t done yet!’  Office workers peered out of windows, some waving or giving the thumbs-up. ‘I’ve never really protested before, but this is so important for everyone,’ said Elizabeth Turnipseed who came to the march with her husband David, a member of the Puyallup tribe in Washington state.’ Our waters are being destroyed, and I’m just tired of them disrespecting Mother Earth.’ 

Protesters use coup sticks to jab at an effigy of trump in front of his hotel in downtown Washington. Michael S. Williamson:The Washington Post

The march was led in part by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been involved in a long-standing dispute over the Dakota Access pipeline. The tribe has argued in court that the 1,172-mile pipeline threatens its drinking water, crosses sacred lands and was approved by the government without adequate consultation.

photo- Kevin Lamarque:Reuters

Work on the $3.8 billion pipeline, which is owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, was halted in December by  President Obama. The Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would look at alternate routes for the pipeline and that it would undertake an environmental-impact statement.

Native teepees are erected on the Washington Monument grounds by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe- Bill O’Leary:The Washington Post

But in January,  the current administration signed an executive order giving the pipeline project the go-ahead. The Army Corps granted an easement for the oil company to drill under a reservoir on the Missouri River that is adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and construction resumed in early February. The company has said it would be just a number of weeks before up to 550,000 barrels of oil a day can begin flowing through the pipeline.”

Category: Native Rights

The Moon Over Temple Mounds at Crystal River

“The Moon Over the Mounds program at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park began at least 15 years ago as a way to invite people into the park to learn about the Native American mounds there in a different way…  They will get an overview of the site, where there are burial mounds, temple/platform mounds, and a plaza area. They will also learn why it was a great place to gather for so many years.” L. Root, ICTMN

Temple mounds at Crystal River Archaeological State Park

Excerpt: Learn About Native American Mounds By Moonlight by  Leeanne Root, ICTMN

” Moonlit tours of the Native American mounds are led by retired park rangers as well as archaeologists like Gary Ellis, director emeritus of Gulf Archaeology Research InstituteDuring a Moon Over the Mounds walk held February 10, Ellis noted that the site is a National Historic Landmark and still retains most of its cultural integrity, and the park service intends on keeping it that way. Rangers make sure the Native American mounds are protected from the possibility of falling trees, which are removed if deemed dangerous.

The area was occupied from about 1500 BC to about 1300 AD, and according to Ellis is the best example of a burial complex in the southeast. He noted that burial complexes are common in the Ohio River Valley, but not so much in the southeast.

Temple Mound glows in the dark to lead visitors to the top during the Moon.

‘To see it in Florida, in this context and almost the only one of its kind with a society that is essentially hunters and gatherers, that’s a pretty marvelous thing, Ellis told the nearly 90 attendees gathered on February 10.”

The next Moon Over the Mounds event will be held on March 10 at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park, 3400 N. Museum Point in Crystal River, Florida. For more information call 352-795-3817.

Category: Culture

New Pop Art Brings Native Cultures Together

“Native Pop energizes Indian country’s art scene with bold color and iconic images, offers platform for activism. The organizers behind Native Pop hunted for “hardcore, cutting-edge” indigenous artists to form their collective. The idea was to educate the public that Native people do more than traditional arts and crafts; they also make progressive art that’s intelligent and provocative.” K. Butler, ICTMN

Excerpt:   World Goes Wild for ‘Raw, In-Your-Face’ Native Pop Art, Kristin Butler, ICTMN

“The unified voices also strengthen the dialogue that Native people are still here. ‘We’re still relevant,’ says Brent Learned, Cheyenne/Arapaho, the award-winning artist and leading organizer of Native Pop. ‘We want our voices to be heard.’

More than two years ago, Learned tapped multi-media artist Joe Hopkins to help him bring Native Pop to life. The pair compared lists of the best pop artists in Native circles, starting with the most prominent names in the pop art world in Indian country, like Bunky Echo-Hawk, Steven Paul Judd,  George Curtis Levi,  Joshua Garrett, J. NiCole Hatfield  and Oneka M. Jones. Each artist brings a unique style to the table. They’re very sought-after artists, and not only that, their craft is well defined.

Beyond tribal affiliations, the common thread between the various Native Pop artists is pop art. Learned and Hopkins are quick to point out the distinction between pop and contemporary art. The two genres can get “cluttered,” Hopkins said. “It’s a fine line.” Pop art employs popular or iconic imagery, whereas contemporary art is less well-defined and generally ascribed to works by artists living today, art related to modern-day themes, or art created through new mediums.

In March, four Native Pop artists will represent the Native pop art movement at the National Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas. In October, the exhibit will head to the Bishop Gallery in Brooklyn.”

DAPL: Native Protectors Might Pollute Their Own Water!

“Citing unusually high temperatures and the need to step up the pace of cleanup, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum issued an evacuation order effective immediately for water protectors in the Oceti Sakowin and parts of Sacred Stone camps… It relates to the unseasonably warm weather and the potential for flooding that’s coming…Potential water contamination was also an issue…one of the biggest environmental threats to the Missouri River right now is the camp itself.”ICMN Staff

Warmer temperatures have started to melt near-record snowfall at the Oceti Sakowin camp. J. Monet ICTMN

Excerpt: Water Protectors Told to Evacuate, ICMN Staff

“Cleanup has been happening, he said, but with five to six months of debris and the warming temperatures, the pace needs to be stepped up. Eighty-two dumpsters have been taken from the camps, Burgum said, but that is only 20 percent of what needs to be cleaned up.

Protesters must clean up and leave the site

At the current pace, it won’t be done in time to avoid contaminating the water when the floods come. And the freezing water, he said, would be dangerous to anyone remaining in the flood plain…Burgum said that at this point there are fewer than 200 water protectors left at the camps—during the height in November and December, the number had swelled as high as 14,000—and urged those who remained to take any personal and ceremonial items. He acknowledged that there may be people at camp who don’t have a place to go, and said state and local authorities would work with them to help them relocate.

Asked about potential police presence or use of force, Burgum said that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) had ‘added more staff’ and that more were coming, but that the goal was to maintain public safety.

‘But it’d be nice if we didn’t need more law enforcement,’ he said, in the hope that water protectors would cooperate with the cleanup efforts as an environmental issue, and would leave peaceably, in deference to the climate conditions.”

Category: Native Rights