Category Archives: Culture

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

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

Buffy Sainte-Marie and Inuk Throat Singer Tanya Tagaq Deliver New Song

“Two powerhouses of Canada’s indigenous music scene have lifted the curtain on a new collaboration.Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq paired for the track ‘You Got To Run (Spirit Of The Wind)’…Sainte-Marie wrote the song about Alaskan dog sled racer George Attla who placed fourth in the inaugural Iditarod in 1973.” Canadian Press

St. Marie (l) and Tagaq (r)


Excerpt:  Buffy Sainte-Marie delivers new song collaboration with Tanya Tagaq

“The singers joined together as part of a series of collaborations organized by the brain trust behind the Polaris Music Prize. Both Sainte-Marie and Tagaq are former Polaris winners. Sainte-Marie grabbed the 2015 award for ‘Power in the Blood’ while *throat singer Tagaq’s album ‘Animism’ won a year earlier.

Buffy St. Marie

Tanya Tagaq

Tagaq says the song’s theme suggests ‘you can’t let things bring you down,’ which she says could also be interpreted as an anti-suicide message. Canada’s indigenous communities have been wracked by youth suicides amid calls for action to address the crisis.”

*Inuit throat singing, or katajjaq, is a form of musical performance uniquely found among the Inuit. (An analogous form called rekuhkara was once practiced among the Ainu of Hokkaidō, Japan.) The Inuit performers are traditionally women who sing only duets in a kind of entertaining contest to see who can outlast the other, although one of the genre’s most famous performers, Tanya Tagaq, performs as a solo artist. Several groups, including Tudjaat, The Jerry Cans, Quantum Tangle and Silla + Rise, also blend traditional throat singing with mainstream musical genres such as pop, folk and dance music. -Wikipedia-

To the Men and Women: Memorial Day May 29 2017

Category: Culture

Native Author Joy Harjo Wins The Prize…Again!

“Today, we are excited to announce Joy Harjo has been awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement and contribution to the art of poetry. Of Harjo’s poetry, Don Share remarks: “Her work is a thrilling and necessary antidote to false news, the ephemera of digital celebrity, and other derelictions. It pushes vigorously back against forgetfulness, injustice, and negligence at every level of contemporary life. ” H. Staff, Poetry Foundation

Joy Harjo

Excerpt: Joy Harjo Awarded 2017 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, by Harriet Staff, The Poetry Foundation

“Presented annually to a living US poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant singular recognition, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize is one of the most prestigious awards given to American poets. At $100,000, it is also one of the nation’s largest literary prizes. Established in 1986, the prize is sponsored and administered by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It will be presented at a ceremony at the Poetry Foundation on Monday, June 12th.

Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She earned her BA from the University of New Mexico and MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop…Her work draws on Native American storytelling and histories, as well as feminist and social justice poetic traditions, and frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values into her writing. Harjo’s many honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, the Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award. Harjo is a founding board member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.”

One of Harjo’s best known and loved poems She Had Some Horses was first published in 1983 and is now considered a classic.

She Had Some Horses By Joy Harjo

She had some horses.

She had horses who were bodies of sand.

She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.

She had horses who were skins of ocean water.

She had horses who were the blue air of the sky.

She had horses who were fur and teeth.

She had horses who were clay and would break.

She had horses who were splintered red cliff.


She had some horses.

She had horses with eyes of trains.

She had horses with full, brown thighs.

She had horses who laughed too much.

She had horses who threw rocks at glass houses.

She had horses who licked razor blades.

She had some horses

She had horses who danced in their mothers’ arms.

She had horses who thought they were the sun and their

bodies shown and burned like stars.

She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.

She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet

in stalls of their own making.

She had some horses.

She had horses who liked Creek Stomp Dance songs.

She had horses who cried in their beer.

She had horses who spit at male queens who made

them afraid of themselves.

She had horses who said they weren’t afraid.

She had horses who lied.

She had horses who told the truth, who were stripped

bare of their tongues.

She had some horses.

She had horses who called themselves, “horse.”

She had horses who called themselves, “spirit,” and kept

their voices secret and to themselves.

She had horses who had no names.

She had horses who had books of names.

Animal digestion

She had some horses.

She had horses who whispered in the dark, who were afraid to speak.

She had horses who screamed out of fear of the silence, who

carried knives to protect themselves from ghosts.

She had horses who waited for destruction.

She had horses who waited for resurrection.

She had some horses.

She had horses who got down on their knees for any saviour.

She had horses who thought their high price had saved them.

She had horses who tried to save her, who climbed in her

bed at night and prayed.

She had some horses

She had some horses she loved.

She had some horses she hated.

These were the same horses.

Category: Culture

The Zuni Pueblo Main Street Festival Coming in May!

“Dowa Yalanne Mesa also referred to as “Corn Mesa” is a sacred site that overlooks Zuni Pueblo and has been a place of necessary refuge for the Zuni People since time immemorial.It sits rather off the beaten track. There are no glitzy casinos to attract folks. It’s not near any big population center. But Zuni Pueblo is doing what it can to highlight what it has, and much of that will be on display May 6-7 for the Zuni Pueblo MainStreet Festival.” G. Rosales, AlbuquerqueJournal

Dowa Yalanne Mesa

“The fifth annual fair is a celebration of our local businesses and local artists, giving appreciation for everything they do collaboratively to sustain our local economy, said Wells Mahkee Jr., Zuni Pueblo MainStreet manager. ‘We’re celebrating our community and culture.’It’s a celebration open to all comers and includes such entertainment as a carnival with rides and games, and a showcase of the many artisans from the pueblo.

‘We’re going to have an arts market with the local vendors set up and local arts and crafts,’ Mahkee said. ‘We’ll have a wide variety of artists that will have their arts and crafts for sale so you can buy directly from the artist. You know what you’re getting. You’ll be getting quality work, and you get to meet the artists, which is something not many communities can say.’ One of the big highlights of Saturday’s event will be traditional Zuni dances, he said.

Native Zuni dances.

‘They’ll be social dances, and I know one group will be doing the buffalo dance, the corn dance, the turkey dance and the butterfly dance,’  Mahkee said.

Then there will be what is sure to be a crowd favorite as the local Head Start program will do a series of dances, he said.

Several art competitions also will be on tap, with a juried show in which five judges will be rating the artwork in categories from jewelry, paintings, textile, pottery and carvings, with the work on display throughout the weekend.

And in another competition, artists will be challenged to stretch their creativity by using recycled material provided by the Zuni Environmental Program.”

For more information Zuni Pueblo MainStreet Festival May 6-7

Category: Culture