US Tribes Will Commit to Paris Climate Agreement

“The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community started planning for climate change a decade ago. Located on the southeastern peninsula of Fidalgo Island on Puget Sound in Washington, the reservation is surrounded by water and at high risk for sea-level rise. When the sitting president announced his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the United Nations’ Paris climate agreement, the Swinomish reacted swiftly and, together with other tribes, publicly committed to uphold the accord.” L. Gilpin. High Country

Excerpt: Tribes commit to uphold Paris climate agreement, By Lyndsey Gilpin High Country

“In the West, where many tribal communities and reservations are on the frontlines of climate change, tribal leaders are determined to move forward on climate action as sovereign nations despite budget cuts, climate denial, and inaction. ‘We came together with one another to raise the level of environmental awareness,’ said Debra Lekanoff, governmental affairs director for the Swinomish. ‘We can’t just pick up and move the places where we live.’ Though Indigenous communities have a small carbon footprint, they are often the most severely impacted by climate change.

In California and the Pacific Northwest, tribal nations are at increased risk of sea-level rise. Coastal communities like the Quinault Indian Nation in western Washington and at least 31 Alaska Native villages, including the Shishmaref village near the Bering Strait, face the danger of coastal erosion. Already, several have been forced to relocate… Tribes have already taken a lot of leadership in planning for the negative impacts of climate change,’ said Kyle Powys Whyte, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and professor of philosophy and Indigenous studies at Michigan State University. ‘It’s really important that some tribes begin to take the lead on what it means to have the biggest possible energy-saving impact in the area they live, and to exercise self-governance.’ Though tribes and states are sovereign entities within the U.S., they are not allowed to enter treaties or negotiate with foreign nations. Under United Nations policy, Indigenous people are treated as self-determining when it comes to cultural issues, but lack the political self-determination of member nations.

Health Equity and Climate Change Montana State University

The 2008 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples allows tribal communities to participate in U.N. matters. Signing an agreement like the 2015 Paris climate accord, however, would require changing policies at the U.N. and in the U.S. Tribal leaders say it’s possible. “Just to have them recognize us was a step in the right direction,” said Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians…’Tribes are really trying to get out there and represent themselves, and become stronger partners in agreements where U.S. representation isn’t necessarily good for them, like the Paris Agreement,’ Whyte said.

The Swinomish have partnered with the Skagit Climate Consortium to protect the region’s salmon from pollution and warming waters. In Southeast Alaska, the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes are monitoring ocean acidification levels and harmful algae blooms while adapting buildings and infrastructure to cope with rising sea levels along rivers and the coasts. It behooves tribes to find ways for their climate change plans to be part of discussion,” Whyte said.”

Category: Culture

Natives Fight Back for the Grizzly!

“When Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke removed grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species list in late June, at least seven environmental groups filed notices of intent to sue him. But nine Indian tribes have beaten them to the punch, citing violations of religious freedom.” L. Lundquist Courthouse News

Excerpt: Indian Tribes Take the Lead in Fight for Grizzly Bears by Laura Lundquist courthouse News

“Zinke announced on June 22 that he was removing grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from protections of the Endangered Species Act. Conservation groups filed notices of intent to sue June 30, but must wait 60 days under the Endangered Species Act to give the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service an opportunity to respond.

Native Americans have other avenues of recourse, and sued the United States on June 30 in Federal Court. The four-count lawsuit, filed by nine tribes or their representatives, plus three spiritual societies and spiritual leaders, claim the defendants failed to consult with them in developing the delisting documents, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, and that the delisting violates their religion and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act…As Fish and Wildlife proceeded to work with other federal and state agencies to delist the Yellowstone grizzlies, tribes were not represented in the meetings.

Mama Grizzly and cubs

Had they been present, tribal representatives would have cited the religious importance of the grizzly bear, according to the tribes’ 34-page lawsuit. The spiritual leaders say grizzly bears need to be allowed to expand throughout their historical range for tribes such as the Hopi to freely express their faith. They say that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Fish and Wildlife should not take action that prevents grizzlies from repopulating their homeland, such as allowing states to conduct trophy hunts.

Education- image windigotravel

‘It’s not surprising, but it’s not acceptable for our tribes to be ignored of our needs and our requests. We wanted full consultation, meaningful consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service. But even though they promised us, that’s not happening,’ Ben Nuvamsa, former chairman of the Hopi Tribe, told the Public News Service…The tribes seek an injunction against the delisting until Fish and Wildlife properly consults with them and considers their religious needs.

The nine tribes and their representatives are just a fraction of more than 120 tribes and nations in the United States and Canada that have signed a Grizzly Treaty in the past year to protect the bear. On July 4, some of those tribes met in Rapid City, South Dakota, to renew their opposition to the delisting, among other issues.

However, the tribes do not comprise a totally unified front. On the Blackfeet Reservation in north central Montana, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council supports the delisting, though it opposes trophy hunting on the reservation. But in a June 17 letter to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, the Crazy Dogs Society of the Blackfeet Nation said the Business Council did not have the authority to speak for the tribe on matters related to the grizzly bear, and Society leader Leon Rattler questioned whether the council had conflicts of interest. Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project expects grazing leases to proliferate on federal land occupied by grizzlies and the resulting conflict will mean more dead bears.

‘The Yellowstone region is one of the last places where grizzly bear still occupies its natural place as the king of the mountains,’ Molvar said. ‘But the livestock industry continues to push sheep and cattle deep into the mountains, causing conflicts with grizzly bears and other native wildlife in their natural habitats. Turning grizzly bear management over to trigger-happy state agencies without guarantees that the bears will be protected turns back the clock to the dark days when predator killing was the rule and grizzly bear populations were eliminated.”

Category: Animals

New Mexico’s “Gathering” Partners with the Pot Industry!

“A cannabis company believes the pot industry could save tribal nations from poverty. But many argue it would only make a drug problem worse.” C. Lugar, The Atlantic Daily

Pot company Ultra Health (top of poster) funded the Gathering this year

Excerpt: New Mexico’s Contentious ‘Pot Powwow’ By  Chelsey Luger, The Atlantic

“You going to Gathering this year? Most Native people have heard this question. Short for the Gathering of Nations, the ‘Gathering’ is the largest powwow in North America—one of few pan-Indian cultural fixtures shared by nearly every indigenous group on the continent. Thousands of people from hundreds of tribal nations show up in Albuquerque each year to experience it.

Unlike a traditional powwow, where no commercialization is involved, the Gathering is a contest powwow.  More than a display of culture, it is a massive, showy, fiercely competitive athletic event. Dancers are divided into age groups and categories like jingle, fancy, grass, and traditional, and are judged based on style, rhythm, intricacy of regalia, and creativity. Competitors are eligible to win thousands in prize money. For many, powwow dancing is their livelihood, a source of joy and community that also puts food on the table. It is precisely because of the Gathering’s community-focused nature that the event stirred up controversy this year when its organizers announced a partnership with a new title sponsor: a cannabis company.

Gathering of Nations Pow Wow

A chain of dispensaries called UltraHealth is now in a five-year contract with the Gathering as their primary funding source. The deal earned the event a new nickname: the pot powwow.

UltraHealth’s monetary support might be exactly what the Gathering needs to keep the beloved event up and running. Still, many are skeptical of the company’s intentions. Does marijuana—medical or otherwise—belong at a family event like a powwow?

Duke Rodriguez of Ultra-Health.

Duke Rodriguez, the CEO of UltraHealth, believes that the cannabis industry is a way out of economic deprivation for tribal nations, many of which have struggled for generations with high rates of unemployment and poverty.

In 2014, the Justice Department made it so that all tribal nations have a right to legalize growing and selling of marijuana if they want to, so Rodriguez now dreams of building marijuana growing and distribution enterprises across Indian country.

On wide-open reservation lands where some outsiders see a whole lot of nothing, Rodriguez sees an opportunity to strike a competitive advantage.

The UltraHealth headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, doesn’t exactly scream “controversy.” It looks like a suburban realty company, or maybe a place where you could get your accounting done.

Rodriguez is business casual, too, in his polo, khakis, and full head of salt and pepper…A former CFO for a medical center and one-time secretary of New Mexico’s Human Services Department, he is committed to maintaining that same air of government-health care professionalism with his pot company.    

Rodriguez is interested not only in tribally owned enterprises, but also in tapping into the individual Native American market. Understanding that Native culture is rooted in and familiar with natural medicines, he’d like to see more people choose pot as an alternative to pharmaceuticals.

Some tribal nations are on board with UltraHealth. So far, they have partnered with the Las Vegas Paiute tribe, and Rodriguez claims they are in talks with dozens more. ‘There’s no stopping it,’ he says.  ‘This is the Superbowl of Indian country. Tribes are leading the way in the cannabis business, and I think people are tickled by it.’

Well, not everyone. Some worry that the presence of pot at a powwow will encourage drug experimentation. Vaughan Rees, the director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says that UltraHealth is pulling marketing tactics from the big tobacco playbook. ‘They’re integrating their branding into the Native American community, and they’re promoting the idea that these products are safe, and something that everybody does, and that changes social norms. That makes the job of the people whose mission to reduce the introduction of drugs or other potentially risky behavior more difficult.’

Rees says that this is the most explicit example he’s seen to date of the marijuana industry advertising to a specific racial or ethnic population. It is something, he anticipates, that will continue. ‘These are the battles we’re going to have to fight as the cannabis industry spreads its tentacles,’ he says. ‘It just makes me sick.”

Category: Culture

Natives Traveled The World With Just A Map Of The Stars!

“The Hokule’a, a traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe has returned to Honolulu in Hawaii, completing the first-ever round-the-world trip by such a vessel. The boat took three years to journey around the globe.” NPR

Reflections on the Hokule’a’s Visit to Maui. photo-

Excerpt: Hawaiian Hokule’a canoe makes it round the world

“Its crew navigated without modern instruments, using only the stars, wind and ocean swells as guides. They aimed to use the same techniques that brought the first Polynesian settlers to Hawaii hundreds of years ago.

The Voyage Of Hokule’a, Beginning And Ending In Hawaii

Preparing food on the Hokule’a. BBC

Built in the 1970s, it has travelled around 40,000 nautical miles (74,000km) on this latest trip, known as the Malama Honua voyage, meaning ‘to care for our Island Earth’. Its aim has been to spread a message about ocean conservation, sustainability and protecting indigenous culture.

Hokule’a made its way to New York for Wednesday’s World Oceans Day, where the crew was welcomed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.CNN

 

‘Hokule’a has sparked a reawakening of Hawaiian culture, language, identity and revitalized voyaging and navigation traditions throughout the Pacific Ocean,’ said the voyage organisers on their website

The traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, Hōkūle’a, returns to Hawaii after an around-the-world journey. Big Island video News

‘One of the things I really admire about the voyage, looking back on it, is that we always asked the first nations peoples from these different places for permission to come. We never said we are coming. We said, would it be OK for us to come and honour the native people of this place,’ he said.

Hawaii canoe hits halfway mark in round the world voyage. Image-Dailymail

The voyage, he added, had been an ‘opportunity to celebrate native knowledge and look at ways that we are more common than we are different”.

Category: Culture

“Reviving a Lost Language Through Film”

“Speaking Haida for the first time in more than 60 years looked painful. Sphenia Jones’s cheeks glistened with sweat, and her eyes clenched shut. She tried again to produce the forgotten raspy echo of the Haida k’, and again she failed. Then she smiled broadly. ‘It feels so good,” Ms. Jones, 73, said. ‘Mainly because I can say it out loud without being afraid.’ Ms. Jones was sent far from home to a residential school to be forcibly assimilated into Western culture. When a teacher caught Ms. Jones learning another indigenous language from two schoolmates, Ms. Jones said, the teacher yanked out three fingernails.” C. Porter, The New York Times

Spehenia Jones, 73, speaking Haida again for the first time since she was a child. NYT

Excerpt: Reviving a Lost Language of Canada Through Film, by Catherine Porter, The New York Times

“It worked: Ms. Jones spoke nothing but English, until recently, when she began learning her lines in the country’s first Haida-language feature film, Edge of the Knife.

With an entirely Haida cast, and a script written in a largely forgotten language, the film reflects a resurgence of indigenous art and culture taking place across Canada. It is spurred in part by efforts at reconciliation for the horrors suffered at those government-funded residential schools, the last of which was closed only in 1996.

Restoring the country’s 60 or so indigenous languages, many on the verge of extinction, is at the center of that reconciliation. The loss of one language, said Wade Davis, a University of British Columbia anthropology professor, is akin to clear-cutting an ‘old-growth forest of the mind.’ The world’s complex web of myths, beliefs and ideas — which Mr. Davis calls the ‘ethnosphere’ — is torn, just as the loss of a species weakens the biosphere, he said. A Haida glossary dedicates three pages to words and expressions for rain.

Tyler York, the lead actor in Edge of the Knife, getting a traditional sea grizzly tattoo on his chest. Credit Ruth Fremson:The New York Times

‘English cannot begin to describe the landscape of Haida Gwaii,’ the Haida homeland, Mr. Davis said. That really is what language is.’ Fewer than 20 fluent speakers of Haida are left in the world, according to local counts. For the Haida themselves, the destruction of their language is profoundly tied to a loss of identity.

‘The secrets of who we are, are wrapped up in our language,’ said Gwaai Edenshaw, a co-director of the film, who like most of the cast and crew grew up learning some Haida in school but spoke English at home.

North Beach on Graham Island, part of the remote archipelago of Haida Gwaii off British Columbia’s coast. Credit-Ruth Fremson:The New York Times

Mr. Edenshaw was a co-writer of the script for the 1.8 million Canadian dollar ($1.3 million) film, which is set in Haida Gwaii — an archipelago of forested islands off the west coast of Canada — during the 1800s. It tells an iconic Haida story of the ‘wildman,’ a man who is lost and becomes feral living in the forest. In this version, the wildman loses his mind after the death of a child, and is forcibly returned to the fold of his community in a healing ceremony.

Yan, an ancient Haida village in Haida Gwaii with a replica long house and totem pole, will be the location for filming “Edge of the Knife. CreditRuth Fremson:The New York Times

The film would seem cripplingly ambitious if not for the record of the executive producer, the Inuit director Zacharias Kunuk.  He made his name with  Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) which depicted an Inuit folk epic and starred untrained Inuit actors speaking their traditional language, Inuktitut.That film won the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001, and is still considered one of the best Canadian films of all time. Local builders constructed a long house on the site of an old traditional village where the film [Edge of the Knife] is being shot.

Vern Williams sang traditional songs in the long house as the actors finished rehearsing. CreditRuth Fremson:The New York Times

A local musician, Vern Williams, was hired to create songs for the film. During the evenings of the language camp, he pulled out his guujaaw — drum — and filled the long house with his low, mournful voice.  Mr. Williams, 58, spent seven terrible years in a residential school.‘I don’t call this reconciliation,’ he said. ‘Something was taken. We are taking it back.’ A Haida artist tattooed clan crests on the chests and arms of willing actors in the traditional stick-and-poke fashion.

After a long day of stumbling over pronunciation, Mr. Russ, one of the actors, sat by the wood stove with his script open on his lap, enjoying Mr. Williams’s music for a moment. He had circled every line he found difficult, which were all 37.

His relaxation did not last long. ‘I’m starting to feel overwhelmed,’ he said, heading outside to practice.Two weeks was not enough to learn pronunciation, let alone memorize his lines. Then, he had to learn how to act.”

Category: Films

Film Moana to be Dubbed by Māori Natives!

“The call has gone out from The Walt Disney Animation Studios and Matewa Media who are searching for our very own Māori Moana as the movie is set to be dubbed in te reo Māori.” T. Koti, Māori Online News

Excerpt: Are you the Māori Moana? By  Tepara Koti, Māori Online News

“The Academy Award nominated animated feature Moana has particularly resonated with Māori and Pacific Island viewers who will no doubt be excited with the news.  The recording process will take place over the next few months with actors Rachel House (“Gramma Tala”), Temuera Morrison (“Chief Tui”), Jemaine Clement (“Tamatoa”) and Oscar Kightley (“Fisherman”) reprising their roles.

Te Whānau-a-Apanui’s Rob Ruha, a multi-award-winning composer and solo artist, has joined the team as both Musical Director and as an integral part of the translation/adaptation team. Release details are to be announced, with the goal to have the film shared both in festivals and on DVD for educational purposes in Aotearoa and beyond.

‘It’s been a big dream of mine to see mainstream movies translated into te reo Māori,’ says Waititi [director Taika Watiti].

‘For indigenous audiences to hear films in their own language is a huge deal, helping to normalize the native voice and give a sense of identification. It also encourages our youth to continue with their love and learning of the language, letting them know their culture has a place in the world.’

Note: Mauri Ora! We are on the search for our very own Māori speaking Moana. Auditions are due by June 15 so kia tere!

Casting information can be found on the Adrenaline Group website.

Category: Films