Paiute Tribe Has the Only Native Cannabis Lounge in Las Vegas

“Nevada law restricts marijuana consumption to private residences until 2021, but sovereignty exempts the Las Vegas Paiute.” D. Hernandez, The Guardian

Benny Tso, the former chair of the Las Vegas Paiutes, stand inside Nuwu Cannabis Marketplace. The dispensary is owned by the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. Photograph- Jeff Scheid

Excerpt: ‘The tribe has taken over’: the Native Americans running Las Vegas’s only cannabis lounge-Dan Hernandez, The Guardian

“A couple seated at a high-top table smoked a joint, while six tourists in a circular booth nearby drank THC-infused beer and reviewed the flower menu. It was the morning of the Southern Paiute’s traditional hunt, when tribal youth learn to shoot and harvest mule deer as adult ‘providers’, but Benny Tso, 43, was stuck in the Las Vegas Paiute’s new cannabis tasting room, taking meetings and making calls.

The Tudinu, or ‘desert people’, from whom the Las Vegas Paiute descend, have lived in southern Nevada  for more than 1,000 years, spending summers in the mountains and winters by a valley spring until the area was taken over by white settlers. They worked as ranch hands for several decades, and in 1970, the Las Vegas Paiutes became recognized as a sovereign nation, after which they launched several businesses.

Customers gather at the NuWu Tasting Room on Saturday 5 October 2019. Photograph- Jeff Scheid:The Guardian

In 2017, they opened the NuWu Cannabis  Marketplace, a glass-walled, big box structure that half resembles a car dealership. NuWu – which means ‘the people’ in Southern Paiute – sits on the tribe’s colony one mile away from the neon-lit Fremont Street Experience.

Last month, NuWu became the go-to dispensary for many in Las Vegas, and not just because it’s the only one with a drive-thru window. NuWu opened Nevada’s first cannabis tasting room in October. Sovereignty exempts them from a law that restricts marijuana consumption to private residences until 1 July 2021…for the next 21 months, this 55-member Southern Paiute band has the pot lounge business all to itself.

‘We laughed at first about it. Like, ‘oh crap, we’re going to be weed dealers?’ said Tso, who served as the tribal council chair for over 10 years. ‘After we got the jokes aside, we started digging into the numbers. It was just a different way to generate revenue for the tribe when we realized we needed to do something to put our people in better situations. Within a year and half this is going to compete with our other businesses,’ Tso said of NuWu Cannabis Marketplace. ‘I think we’ve prolonged our tribe by three to four more generations.’ He noted that federal assistance for healthcare, education and law enforcement services has dwindled since the recession…Occasionally, NuWu has to cut people off. But overall the experiment has gone so well that two to three other Native American tribes visit each week to learn about the industry some are calling ‘the new new buffalo’, a reference to the term used for casinos when the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed in 1988…The strength and ingenuity they have used to survive centuries of marginalization has parallels to the Las Vegas Paiutes’ creation story, which states that their ancestors roamed the desert as ants until a great flood forced them to crawl up a mountain and ascend trees. When the water receded, they returned to the ground and became ‘wo legs’ – human beings – and an especially communal, hardworking sort.

‘We do get teased because we’re city Indians, but a majority of us know our culture and that’s the point,’ said Tso, whose arms are covered in tattoos of traditional Paiute symbols and tools.

His community may need NuWu to be that mountain they climb in the event of a perfect storm, since the tobacco shop revenue plateaued years ago, right as healthcare costs rose to levels unmet by federal support.”

Category: Business, Culture | Tags:

Native Sean Sherman Finding His Roots Through Food

Sean Sherman The founder of The Sioux Chef, a company devoted to Indigenous foods, created recipes to showcase tribal diversity across the lower 48 states.”M. Nilsson, The New York Times

Sean Sherman Credit…Marcus Nilsson for The New York Times.

 

Excerpt: Sean Sherman’s 10 Essential Native American Recipes By Marcus Nilsson for The New York Times.

“Growing up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s, I ran wild with my cousins through my grandparents’ cattle ranch, over the hot, sandy South Dakota land of burrs and paddle cactus, hiding in the sparse grasses and rolling hills… Back then, there were no restaurants on Pine Ridge, just one grocery store and a couple of gas stations dotting the immense reservation. Our kitchen cupboards were stocked with government commodity food staples — canned fruit, canned meat, powdered milk, bricks of yellow government-issued cheese, and dry cereals and oats packaged in white cardboard boxes with black block lettering… I often think of my great-grandfather, who was born in the late 1850s and grew up like any other Lakota boy, riding horses bareback to hunt with a bow and arrow. At the age of 18, he witnessed the Lakota and Cheyenne victory against the United States government at the Battle of the Little Bighorn; he also encountered the aftermath of the Wounded Knee massacre, where hundreds of Lakota men, women and children were viciously slaughtered.

Later, his children were forced into boarding schools, forbidden to speak their Native language, required to learn English and to become Christians. Through the 20th century, these harsh efforts at assimilation began to erase thousands of generations of Indigenous traditions, wisdom and ceremonies.

As soon as I was 13 and legally eligible to work, I got my first job, at a steakhouse in Spearfish, S.D. I knew a little about cooking: As the oldest child of a busy working mom, I was often the one who got dinner on the table for my sister and me. I swept floors, bussed tables, washed dishes, prepped food and eventually became a line cook…Through my career as a professional chef, opening restaurants and cafes in Minneapolis, I gained experience cooking Italian, Spanish and other European cuisines.

But it wasn’t until I spent time in Mexico, observing how closely Indigenous people live to their culinary traditions, that I realized I had very little idea of what my own ancestors ate before colonization.

So I began to research the history of our land before the Europeans arrived…In piecing together so much of the story that has been lost, I learned that the original North American food system was based on harvesting wild plants for food and medicine, employing sophisticated agricultural practices, and on preserving seed diversity. My ancestors used all parts of the animals and plants with respect, viewing themselves as part of our environment, not above it. Nothing was wasted.

Chef Sean Sherman -Photo- Food Stylist- M Ruggiero.

In 2014, I started a business, The Sioux Chef, with a focus on identifying, sharing and educating people on the authentic Indigenous foods of North America, from Mexico to Alaska, with dishes free of the colonial ingredients Europeans introduced: wheat flour, dairy, cane sugar and even beef, pork and chicken. Our team connected with Indigenous chefs, farmers, seed keepers, academics and leaders to create menus for feasts that we served in tribal communities. We obtained seaweed from Maine to season Atlantic oysters, and white cedar in Duluth, Minn., for a venison roast. Elders tell us they haven’t tasted these flavors since childhood… The Times asked me to choose dishes that, viewed together, form a portrait of Native American food in the United States.

I am not interested in recreating foods from 1491 — rather, I hope to celebrate the diversity that defines our communities now. And so these recipes offer a glimpse into the range of dishes Indigenous chefs and cooks are making today, and highlight ingredients from the regions they reflect… The true foods of North America may not be available at every grocery store or even online, and they are not coming from industrial farms: They are seasonal and vary from region to region.In many of these recipes, I offer substitutions, but hope readers will want to experiment with true regional ingredients, sustainably harvested.”

View Sean Sherman’s Native American Recipes Here

Category: Culture, Native Food | Tags:

“Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story”

“Using brief statements that begin ‘fry bread is,’ Kevin Noble Maillard, who is a member of the Mekusukey band of the Seminole Nation tribe, creates a powerful meditation on the food as ‘a cycle of heritage and fortune.’  The beautiful illustrations are by Juana Martinez-Neal.” Publishers Weekly

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard

Excerpt: Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

In each spread, descriptions of fry bread range from the experiential (flavor, sound) to the more conceptual (nation, place). Bolstering the bold statements, spare poems emphasize fry bread in terms of provenance (‘Fry bread is history/ The long walk, the stolen land’), culture (‘Fry bread is art/ Sculpture, landscape, portrait’), and community (‘Fry bread is time/ On weekdays and holidays/ Supper or dinner/ Powwows and festivals’).

In blues and browns with bright highlights, Martinez-Neal’s wispy art features a diverse group of six children carrying ingredients and learning about each statement.

A fry bread recipe concludes the book, and an author’s note offers vital, detailed context about this varied dish and its complex history (“The story of fry bread is the story of American Indians”). Ages 3–6. (Oct.)

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard, illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-62672-746-5

Category: Culture, Social

“Art Was Supposed to Save Canada’s Inuit. It Hasn’t.”

“Indigenous work is all the rage in the Canadian art world. But life in the North [for The Inuit] is as much a struggle as ever.” C. Porter, The New York Times

Ooloosie Saila, Landscape with Rainbow (2016)

Excerpt: Drawn From Poverty: Art Was Supposed to Save Canada’s Inuit. It Hasn’t. By Catherine Porter, The New York Times Photographs by Sergey Ponomarev

Hours before flying off to her debut show in Toronto, Ooloosie Saila, a rising star in the Canadian art world, was hiding in her grandmother’s room on the frozen edge of the Arctic Ocean, cowering in fear.

Between her and the future stood the man in the next room, a relative who was drunk and raging — again. Then, she packed in a frenzy. She threw the hand-sewn outfit she had chosen for the opening into a plastic garbage bag, pulled her two young sons out of bed, grabbed her art supplies and fled into the frigid night.

Kananginak Pootoogook — Inuitgallery.com

Four days and 1,425 miles found Ms. Saila at the Feheley Fine Arts gallery in Toronto, where the crowd sipped wine and gushed over her ‘bold use’ of color and negative space…Except for grade school, she has never taken an art class. It is a golden moment for the Indigenous people of Canada. At least, in theory.

The country is going through a period of atonement for its history of racism. While much of the world has turned inward, becoming more xenophobic, Canada has been consumed with making amends.

Kananginak Pootoogook — Madrona Gallery

Public meetings across the country routinely start with an acknowledgment that they are standing on traditional Indigenous lands. In history classes, Canada’s young learn about their government’s systematic attempts to erase Indigenous cultures. Buildings have been renamed, street signs changed and in one city, a statue of the country’s first prime minister removed.

Canadians call this ‘reconciliation,’ and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who faces a tight re-election vote on Monday, has made it central to his government and image.

Painting- Shuvinai Ashoona

In Ooloosie Saila, many might see the embodiment of these aspirations: an accomplished artist being feted for her depictions of the Inuit landscape in brilliant pinks and oranges.

But the world she returned to after the opening, the hamlet of Cape Dorset, is plagued by poverty, alcoholism and domestic abuse… It’s made up of scattered homes — many boarded up — an aging ice rink and a busy jail, packed with binge drinkers. With no movie theater or downtown, a general store serves as the social hub. There is a brand-new high school, but only because the old one was burned down by fume-sniffing teenagers. The town is so small the streets are unnamed.

Almost 90 percent of its residents live in public housing that is crowded, run-down, and has a three-year waiting list. Suicide is rife: The stony graveyard is dotted with crosses marking young people. More than half the residents rely on public assistance.

Untitled (Winter Scene) – Inuit Gallery of Vancouver Ltd.

Artists like Ms. Saila may do a little better, but the vast majority eke out a living, often below the poverty line. Many support large extended families that depend on them for food — most of it flown in at exorbitant cost so that a single cucumber goes for $4.50.

On long winter nights, when the sun is a five-hour memory, the temperature in Cape Dorset can reach a lung-burning 40 below zero. Still, carvers sit outside their homes under lights, transforming chunks of stone into seals and polar bears, the air ringing with the high-pitched sound of their electric grinders.

The Inuit of Cape Dorset were once the epitome of self-reliance, members of a hunting culture where everyone had a role. They lived entirely off the frozen land, searching for food by dog sled.

Then government workers lured them into the town, built around a trading post in the 1950s, with promises of permanent housing and school. In some cases, they shot their dogs, stranding them.

Officials soon took note of the Inuits’ artistic skills, and thought that they might offer a bridge to a stationary existence, a way to make a living. Art has been a central feature of Cape Dorset life since then.

In 1959, artists created a co-op with an Inuit-led board that oversaw sales and plowed profits into the creation of a general store.

In the center of town is a symbol of the co-op’s success: a new, modern $9.8 million cultural center with spacious art studios and the hamlet’s first gallery space.

Artists stream into the cultural center, work in hand, looking to be paid.’They might sit in a drawer forever,’ said the studio manager at the time, Bill Ritchie. ‘We have drawings and drawings and drawings that will never sell.’By one government estimate, most artists across the territory make only about $2,080 a year. A handful of artists top $75,000 a year.

‘If you work hard like that, that’s what could happen,’ the assistant manager, Joemee Takpaungai, told one artist, Johnny Pootoogook, who was working in the studio on a drawing of five men drumming together. It was a memory from his recent stint in jail.

Painting- Kananginak Pootoogook

Mr. Pootoogook’s father, Kananginak, who helped found the co-op, became such a successful artist that his work headlined the Venice Biennale.

But Johnny, 48, has fallen prey to abuse, depression and alcohol. He says he tried to hang himself 20 years ago. For him, art has been the one constant, but he is still waiting for his first show.

In fact, some blame art for the town’s problems.

Caribou by Kananginak Pootoogook –

‘Sometimes, when they get quite a bit of money, they use it to have access to drugs and alcohol,’ said Timoon Toonoo, the hamlet’s mayor.

By any measure imaginable, life for Indigenous people across Canada is harsh…In winter, snow covers everything — the winding roads, the polar bear skins stretching outside on homemade racks, the shells of old snowmobiles heaped in the dump. The airport is often closed and when it is, everyone is stranded: There is no other way in, or out. A few supply ships come in during the summer, but like all 25 communities in Nunavut, Cape Dorset is completely isolated.

One January evening, Ms. Saila sank into her living room couch, watching the 1980s American sitcom ‘Three’s Company,’ flanked by her two young sons and her grandmother, Sita.

Her grandparents grew up nomadically, living in igloos and sod houses. They raised Ms. Saila, but by then they had settled in town.

One night at 11, Ms. Saila sat at the kitchen table, fished a green pencil from a plastic bag on the floor and set to coloring her latest landscape. Her children were finally asleep, so she could work.

It had been three months since her art opening. What had changed in her life?

‘Nothing.’

Her time in Toronto, it seemed, had amounted to little more than fond memories and snapshots affixed to her fridge. ‘It was fun,’ she said quietly.

The co-op manager said her rate had gone up ‘big time,’ but she hadn’t noticed. How much had she saved?

‘Nothing,’ she said again.

As Ms. Saila worked, the back door burst open time and again. First came her sister. Then her brother. Then her aunt, trailing three young children and a boyfriend. They made themselves coffee and opened the fridge, rummaging for food.”

Category: Alaskan Natives, Culture | Tags:

The Miccosukee Indians Still Wrestle Alligators!

“At the edge of the Florida Everglades, the Miccosukee Tribe has carved out a culturally rich life that centers on the natural environment. Each year they celebrate with a day-long festival that exhibits the best of what they have created in what some might label an inhospitable swamp. And part of that natural environment is gators, big chomping toothy-grinned gators.” S. Hale Schulman, ICT

Excerpt: Gator wrestling? Miccosukee American Indian Day showcases airboats and yes, alligators, by Sandra Hale Schulman

“In the expansive grounds in front of the Miccosukee Resort and Gaming on a steamy 93 degree September 28th there were airboat rides, craft exhibits, exotic swamp foods of gator tail and frog legs, and the main attraction, judging by the crowds, of an alligator show. According to members of the tribe, If it wasn’t for the Native Florida villages and also the help of other eco-friendly gator farms, the American Alligator would have been extinct 30 years ago.

In a large tent, families packed the bleachers around a fenced-in sandpit to watch the spectacle they put on hourly from 11 am to 5 pm.

Miccosukee American Indian

‘I’ve been doing this for ten years,’ says gator show host Jessie before a show, whose calloused bare feet and scarred arms show the hazards of the job. ‘I started as a volunteer at the Native Village down the road and pretty soon I was General Manager. We keep the gators there, about 20 of them, in a pond. I started training with the baby gators, then the bigger teenage gators. You have to work your way up. After about 7 months I felt ready to do a show with the full-grown ones. The first time I was terrified but I wasn’t narrating. Four months later it was time to take the show over.’

‘Gators are misunderstood and need to be respected…When I narrate I have to really slow down and focus. I talk about the fear factor and how if you get attacked it’s never the gators fault, always the person’s fault. You shouldn’t be in their environment and if you are you better know what to do.’

Jessie shows the result of one of his faulty encounters, a large swath of heavily scarred skin on his right arm that went directly into the mouth of a 12-foot gator ironically named Lunch.

‘I wasn’t paying attention and he grabbed me straight on,’ he says grinning at the memory. ‘I was in the water with him and he was flipping me around like a rag doll. He rolled me a few times and as I pulled my arm out he peeled the skin clean off. In the ambulance I was in shock, they needed to do a skin graft from my leg. A few weeks later I was right back to it…’ They now have a booming tourism business with fishing licenses, National Parks and airboat rides that take visitors deep into the sawgrass swamp to see the flocks of birds and gator nesting grounds.”

How The Tembe Tribe Survives in the Amazon

“Tembe warriors in Brazil wear colourful headdresses of macaw and other feathers, and wield bow and arrows to hunt and protect their homeland, which is constantly under threat in the globally vital Amazon region. Like their ancestors, the Tembe plant trees to teach their children the value of preserving the world’s largest rainforest, which is a critical bulwark against global warming.” R. Rodrigo, The Guardian

Tembe warriors -Photos- Rodrigo Abd:AP

 

Excerpt: Daily Life of Amazonian Tembe tribes, Rodrigo, NPR

“Lorival Tembe, the eldest chieftain and a founder of Tekohaw, poses for a portrait during the meeting in the Tekohaw village. ‘The Amazon is ending and that’s why we’re here — so that it doesn’t end,’ he said.’

Lorival Tembe–Photos- Rodrigo Abd:AP

 

Women and children congregate around a broken public  telephone after a gathering of Tembe tribe members in the Tekohaw village, in Para state, Brazil.

Tembe tribe members

 

Tawa Chirando, 17, poses for a portrait. Tembe hunt with bows and arrows, fish for piranhas and gather wild plants,  while some watch soap operas on television or check the  internet on phones inside thatch-roof huts.

Tawa Chirando

 

Sandra Tembe, 46, poses for a portrait. She is the director of  the school at Tekohaw village, where the walls are adorned  with paintings of indigenous maracas and Amazonian animals such as piranhas and snakes. ‘The body paintings are a symbol of our link to nature,’ she said.

Sandra Tembe-Photos- Rodrigo Abd:AP

 

Siblings and cousins gather in the village of Ka ‘a kyr around a mobile phone on a purple hammock to watch a children’s  cartoon on YouTube at the home of Gleison Tembe.

Siblings and cousins gather to watch cartoons on a mobile phone. — Photos- Rodrigo Abd:AP

 

Cajueiro chieftain Sergio Muxi Tembe waits for the tank of his  motorcycle to be filled in Para state. ‘We know Bolsonaro  doesn’t like Indians. He’s anti-Indian,’ said the chief,  wearing a headdress of macaw and other feathers and a traditional bone bracelet on his wrist next to a Casio digital  watch. ‘We have a different culture and that culture must be respected.’

Cajueiro chieftain Sergio Muxi Tembe Photos- Rodrigo Abd:AP

 

Villagers watch a soap opera on television in their home in the village Tekohaw. Daily life in the remote Tembe indigenous villages in the Amazon jungle of Brazil mixes tradition and modernity.”

Villagers watch a soap opera…Photograph- Rodrigo Abd:AP

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