For Natives: When The Food Source Ends..The Opioid Addiction Begins

“For thousands of years, the Klamath River has been a source of nourishment for the Northern California tribes that live on its banks. Its fish fed dozens of Indian villages along its winding path, and its waters cleansed their spirits, as promised in their creation stories. But now a crisis of opioid addiction is gripping this remote region. At the same time, the Klamath’s once-abundant salmon runs have declined to historic lows…many members of the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa tribes see a connection between the river’s struggle and their own.” J. Del Rea, The New York Times

From left- Yurok Chief Justice Abby Abinanti; Codie Donahue, and Yurok tribal attorney Amy Cordalis. Credit A. Hootnick for the New York Times

Excerpt: Sick River: Can These California Tribes Beat Heroin and History? By Jose A. Del Rea

“It’s no coincidence to me that this opioid problem and the river crisis are happening at the same time; when that resource is gone, it leads to a sense of despair,” said Amy Cordalis, the Yurok tribe’s general counsel. Nationally, Native Americans are the hardest-hit demographic in an overdose death epidemic that has affected every corner of the country. Between 1999 and 2015, there was a 519 percent increase in the number of overdose deaths among rural Native Americans, according to a 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to an increase of 325 percent in rural areas overall. Abuse of painkillers and heroin have played significantly into those trends.

Dead Chinook salmon on the banks of the Klamath River during a 2002 fish kill. An estimated 34,000 salmon perished.CreditYurok Tribe Fisheries Department

In Yurok country, tribal leaders have pursued an aggressive agenda of cultural revival since the early 1990s in an effort to keep traditions alive. The process has not always been smooth. A decade ago, there was friction when tribal leaders were deciding how to manage $92 million in back payments from the federal government for logging on Yurok land. Ultimately, 90 percent of the money was disbursed to members in a lump sum. Some questioned the wisdom of that decision by the tribal leadership, suggesting the money would be quickly spent, rather than saved.

Since then, the river’s intensifying troubles have caused spiritual pain, in addition to exacerbating economic anguish.

Upper Klamath River Flow Management Harms the Lower Klamath River

‘In part, there’s a tremendous feeling of guilt, I think. The economics of it matter, yes, but it’s so much more than that for us,’ said Yurok Chief Justice Abby Abinanti. ‘Our worldview is that we’re here in partnership with these other beings, the river and the fish. We have obligations to them.’ ‘Now it feels like the river is as sick as it has ever been. I think last year was the first time in history that the Yurok people did not fish on the Klamath,’ Ms. Cordalis said. ‘When you start separating those ties, it really affects people.’

The mural that greets visitors outside of the Yurok tribal building

The effects of heroin — and meth before it — have seeped into every aspect of life. Outside the Yurok tribe’s bureau, a mural created by the Yurok children shows the river flowing through lush forests and curving past villagers performing traditional prayer-dances. In one panel, a Native American woman wanders the forest collecting wood and acorns, while kayakers splash in the river’s waters.

But unwinding across the painting are darker scenes too: broken bottles, needles, depictions of suicides, and dead fish…Four out-of-date dams upstream, built in the early- to mid-20th century, have sparked residual ecological strain downstream. Now the solution that tribal members hoped for — their removal — awaits approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Before the dams went up, the river was the third-largest producer of salmon in the United States. Last year, the Yurok tribe had to cancel commercial and subsistence fishing altogether because of the lack of fish. During some parts of the year, the waters become so toxic that people are advised not to swim or make contact with the river…As they wait anxiously for the dam removal to be approved, tribal leaders are also looking for inclusive ways to bring drug treatment to the region, where abuse is often stigmatized.

One solution proposed by Ms. Abinanti and others are Yurok ‘wellness villages,’ planned living sites along the river where the tribe can help reintegrate people who have struggled with addiction.

Ms. Cordalis, the general counsel to the Yurok tribe, has been using the law to protect the Yurok way of life for its roughly 6,000 members. In March, the Yurok joined other communities nationally and filed a lawsuit against several opioid companies with the Northern California Federal District Court. The suit claims that opioid addiction has increased crime, led to economic losses and increased hospital and administrative costs…For many, the idea of culturally relevant addiction treatment brings hope. Codie Donahue, 38, lost his children and wound up homeless after he and his girlfriend became addicted to methamphetamine and heroin. Mr. Donahue, who has Yurok and Karuk lineage, recently checked into a drug rehab program in Eureka, a few hours from his hometown, Orleans, Calif.

He recalled the holy ceremony he once performed as a high priest for the Karuk Indians. In the ritual, he and others would pray in hopes that the river would wash away the sins of his tribe.”

Category: Healing, Health

Joe Shirley Jr. and Jonathan Nez are the Candidates for Navajo President!

“Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez will face former tribal president Joe Shirley Jr. for the tribal presidency in the November general election after they finished as the top two vote-getters in Tuesday’s primary election.” N. Lyn Smith, AZ Central

Navajo Nation Presidential candidate Joe Shirley Jr. walks with his supporters Tuesday at the Window Rock Sports Center  (Photo- Jon Austria:The Daily Times)

J. Nez thanks his supporters. Photo- .Canora Courierjpeg

Excerpt: Nez, Shirley top presidential race in tribe’s primary election, By N. Lyn Smith, AZ Central

‘It’s a humbling thing that happened tonight. There was overwhelming support from the Navajo people,’ Nez said in an interview…With the top contender established early in the night, attention turned to who would be the runner-up, which was a close race between Shirley and Tom Chee.

Approximately 500 votes separated the two men throughout the evening. Chee eventually finished in third with 6,411 votes. Shirley’s supporters made their presence known as they entered the sports center with shouts of ‘Shirley strong.’

‘What can I say? Other than that I feel glad, I feel like a winner. I didn’t have any doubts that we’d be here. We worked hard and had a good team in place and looking forward to the real race that’s going to begin,’ Shirley said in an interview after hugging Nez. He commended Nez for running a good campaign.

Joe Shirley.

‘It’s not about coming in No. 1 or No. 2 for primaries, it’s just about making it,’ Shirley said.”

Category: Politics

“Last-Known Surviving Mohawk Code Talker”

“He is among the Native Americans who played a special role in World War II, serving as the famed Code Talkers. Louis Levi Oakes traveled to Buffalo to visit the Marine Corps League National Convention…[he] was born on the Akwesasne Territory in Upstate New York but lived in Buffalo for about 30 years, where he was employed as an ironworker.” M. Mroziak, WSKG/NPR

Louis Levi Oakes is believed to be the last surviving Mohawk Code Talker from World War II. NPR

Excerpt: By Michael Mroziak, WSKG/NPR

“It was also in Buffalo where he enlisted in the Army and, as World War II continued, found himself training to become one of the famed Code Talkers.

‘I had been in North Dakota. I went through there when I was in the service,’ Oakes said. ‘All the places I traveled.’

It was a strategy of the US military to use Native American languages as coded messages. Those languages proved to be the only codes the Axis Powers would not break during the war.

Oakes served in the South Pacific, where he was among the Native Americans who baffled Japanese forces, unable to understand his Mohawk tongue…Now 95 years old, Oakes sat in a wheelchair that was guided by his daughter Dora. She told WBFO it was only more recently that her father revealed details of what he did during World War II.

‘When he got on the ship to come home, he was standing right where General (Douglas) MacArthur was. There was a lot of people around the world that have been seeing him now and saying wow.’ Oakes was awarded a Silver Star for his service.”

 

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Sioux Nation Welcomes NBA Star Kyrie Irving Home

“NBA all-star Kyrie Irving will be honored in a homecoming ceremony on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation on Thursday, August 23, 2018 at the Prairie Knights Pavilion. The celebration and ceremony will begin at 9:00 a.m. and will include a naming ceremony, performances, and a community feed. This event is open to the public.” L. Rickert, Native News Net

Boston Celtic point guard Kyrie Irving, with an eagle feather tied to his hair [in honor of his Sioux mother] The Boston Globe

Excerpt: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe WelcomesHome NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving, By Levi Ricket, Native News Net

“Kyrie Irving is a professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA)…As part of the Team USA basketball squad, he earned an Olympic Gold Medal 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro…The family connection to Irving comes from the White Mountain family (also known as Mountain) of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Irving won a Olympic Gold Medal at 2016 summer games.

The White Mountain family comes from the Bear Soldier District, on the South Dakota side of the reservation. His late mother, Elizabeth Ann Larson, was adopted out of the Tribe when she was a child.

Irving’s grandmother is the late, Meredith Marie Mountain, who is a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. His great-grandfather is Moses Mountain and great-grandmother is Edith Morisette-Mountain. During the Standing Rock resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline, Irving gave his support to the Water Protectors.

Irving designed shoe for Nike N7 line to honor water, his tribe and his mother.

Irving recently released a Nike N7 shoe, that he designed, to honor the water, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and his late mother.

Additionally, he has a tattoo of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal logo on the back of his neck. Irving is very proud to be Lakota and to be from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

‘We could not be more excited, he has made us all very proud. To know that he has not forgotten his roots and is taking the time before he starts his basketball season to visit the People, his People, shows that Kyrie has great character and pride in his heritage,’ comments Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith.”

 

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Category: Social, Sports | Tags: ,

Navajo Model Starts Luxury Skin Care Line: “This Is My Beauty”

“Ah-Shi in Navajo means, “this is me, this is mine, that’s me”! Ah-Shi beauty…….This is MY BEAUTY luxury skin care brand is for the fearless and unstoppable souls who enjoy quality skin care products.” Ahsaki Baa Lafrance-Chachere

Ahsaki Baa Lafrance-Chachere has started her own skin care line, Ah-Shi Beauty.

Excerpt: ‘This is my beauty’ by Pauly Denetclaw, Navajo Times

“Ahsaki Baa Lafrance-Chachere grew up in Ganado, Arizona, where she had her kinaalda, played high school sports and eventually graduated from Ganado High. It was also where she discovered her love for entrepreneurship. ‘I saw the opportunity of making money at a young age,’ Lafrance-Chachere said with a chuckle. ‘My family is very traditional.’

So what I’d do was save all my good candy and I’d save it until it was movie time. ‘Then I’d make my own concession stand at my grandma’s house and I’d charge my whole family,’ she said trying to hold back her laughter. ‘I was a genius back in the day. I had no overhead. I got my snacks from the cracker jack throw and boom.’

Today, at 27, she’s a small business owner of a restaurant, Four Arrows western wear and recently Ah-Shí Beauty, a high-end skincare line.

‘Growing up and to this day, I’ve been dealing with my own personal skin,’ Lafrance-Chachere said. ‘We’re at war all the time. What am I doing so wrong? Do I need to put the achii down or what? I love my potatoes and fried everything!’

After years of trying skincare products that ranged from the dollar store to high-end skincare lines, she decided to try to make her own. So in 2014, she started her journey to creating Ah-Shi Beauty.”

Visit Ah-Shi Beauty here: https://www.ahshibeauty.com/about/

 

A Word From Native Boss Babe (Ahsaki Baa Lafrance-Chachere):

Ah-Shi Beauty

“As I sit here in my office, brainstorming about my next business move and mapping out my next color pallet for my new clothing line. I hold my Navajo Tea up close and close my eyes. I vision myself back home in Besh-Be-toh, AZ right now the reservation is getting lots of rain so I can only imagine the smell of the wet dirt and sage brush surrounding my home. I vision my little sisters, my parents, my husband enjoying riding in the open valley, my family and I remember why I am doing what I am doing. I am doing this for my future family (I do not have kids yet), my family, and my people on the Dine Reservation… I vision my business to be big enough to hire my people on the reservation and off.

To help the next generation of young business women/men and help them pave their way.  I hope to be one of their stepping stones to help them achieve their dreams and goals… To be a Native Boss Babe outside the four scared mountains is tough but it is possible. It requires a lot of work and faith. There will be walls that seem to never fall and let you by. So you will have to think creatively and find away to knock it down or just find another way around it. You will face fear that will make you sit back and intimidate you. But do not let that stop you, you can do two things: Face it and power through it, or get help to overcome it.

If you can vision it than you can achieve it. Believe with all your heart. Never let anyone tell you  that you cannot do it. Protect your vision. Remember your four clans make you who you are! Our ancestors fought to hard for us to settle with okay. Let’s strive for the stars, and never settle with okay but the best. ..   Now go get it. This what makes me a Native Boss Babe. My culture, my faith, and my passion to achieve my dreams and goals.” 

 

Category: Business

Navajo President Begaye Tells Officials to Grow UP…Seriously?

“President Russell Begaye called out chapter officials in his state of the nation address before the Navajo Nation Council Monday, stressing that they have to be accountable to their people… The chiding struck some observers as ironic.”K. Krisst, Navajo Times

Excerpt: Begaye to chapter officials: Grow up! By Kima Krisst, Navajo Times,

“How long are the chapters going to be treated like children?” Begaye asked. ‘You guys are adults, grown men and women. Stop fighting and stop mismanaging the people’s money and make good decisions on behalf of your people. You were elected because people placed their faith and trust in you. It’s time to grow up.’

They [chapter members] noted Begaye might consider this kind of tough-talk approach with his daughter, former legal counsel Karis Begaye, recently charged with DWI and totaling a Navajo Nation vehicle. Tribal investigators are now demanding reimbursement for the vehicle.”

Excellent comic by renown Navajo Editorial Cartoonist Jack Ahasteen.

Comic Jack Ahasteen Navajo Times

 

Category: Politics