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

Category: Culture | Tags:

Diné Flmmaker and Actors Worked Together on a ‘Spec Commercial’

“A spec is a ‘made-up’ commercial that filmmakers use to showcase their talent and potential. That is exactly what Diné filmmaker Christopher Nataanii Cegielski did when he created his New Balance spec called ‘For Any Run.’ A. Chavez, ICT

Colleen Biakeddy, who played the grandma, Cegielski and Micah Chee who portrays the grandson.

Excerpt: Behind the scenes: ‘Grandma! Sheep is running away’ Allyah Chavez, ICT

“The video is a product of the Commercial Directors Diversity Program, an organization that provides guidance, exposure and tools for minority directors who hope to work in the industry. Cegielski, 28, was selected out of more than 300 applicants to participate as a fellow of the program, the first Indigenous filmmaker. So over the course of six months, he attended workshops, shadowed industry employees and created mentorships. His final project: ‘For Any Run.’

For Cegielski, the story began with an idea of a Diné grandmother who chased her sheep and did flips. He worked for three months researching brands, writing scripts, putting together pitch decks, choosing a cast and even budgeting. In total, his one-minute commercial cost approximately $16,000.

In the initial phases the commercial advertised an ASICS shoe instead of New Balance. After further research, Cegielski observed that the tone of the ASICS brand was geared towards ‘serious’ athletes. He saw that New Balance had a more “playful” tone — and that it fit in line with his light-hearted and fun vision.

‘I had to think about everything the right way,’ Cegielski said. With this in mind, he says his goal was to create something that Indian Country could watch.

The commercial was shot in mid-August in Pinion, Arizona, where a large crew made up of actors, producers, directors and cameramen worked together. Photo by A. Banks.

‘For far too long there has been non-Native people making Native material,’ Cegielski said. “It’s always about oppression… I just wanted to change that.’

The commercial led him to meeting Diné actors Colleen Biakeddy, who played the grandma, and Micah Chee who portrays the grandson. In true Diné fashion, the trio discovered they all belong to the Ta’chii’nii, or Red Running Into Waterclan, after they met in person. The commercial was shot in mid-August over two days.

This was Biakeddy’s first acting role. But the fifty-year-old is not new to sheep herding. Her day starts with checking on her cattle near Big Mountain in Arizona, some 53 miles south of Kayenta…The role for her was important because of how it represents Diné grandmothers. She appreciated the attention to detail, noting that grandmothers in her community ‘really do’ cover their feet using tennis shoes, or whatever it takes to get work done…In case you wondered, Biakeddy did not do her own stunts (though she notes she had to do a somersault in her casting audition).

Her stunt double was Conrad Weitzel, a parkour athlete from Phoenix…The spec has now been seen throughout Indian Country, largely motivated by social media. The video on Instagram alone has been viewed more than 10,000 times since last Friday.”

Category: Culture, Films, Navajo

Chief Standing Bear (Ponca Tribe) Finally Gets Recognition in the U.S. Capitol

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), participate in the dedication ceremony for the statue of Ponca Chief Standing Bear of Nebraska

Excerpt: The civil rights leader ‘almost nobody knows about’ gets a statue in the U.S. Capitol, Gillian Brockell, The Washington Post

“That act of grief and love set in motion a chain of events that would make Standing Bear a civil rights hero. On Wednesday, he was honored with a statue representing the state of Nebraska in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.

Standing Bear was born sometime between 1829 and 1834 in the Ponca tribe’s native lands in northern Nebraska. A natural leader, he became a chief at a young age, according to the Nebraska History Museum.

By 1858, the Poncas were forced to cede most of their land except for a small area by the Niobrara River, where they became farmers rather than buffalo hunters. But they did well, growing corn and trading with white settlers often. Ten years later, as described by Dee Alexander Brown in the classic Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, the remaining Ponca land was mistakenly included in a treaty between the United States and the Sioux tribes.

Although the Poncas protested over and over again to Washington, officials took no action… The U.S. government finally took action in 1876 but not in the way the Poncas had hoped. Congress declared that the Poncas would be moved to Indian Territory in Oklahoma in exchange for $25,000…when the Poncas declined the inferior land they were offered in Oklahoma, they were forced to leave anyway.

By the time they arrived in Oklahoma in 1878, it was too late in the season to plant; they also didn’t get any of the farming equipment the government had promised them. More than a third of the Poncas died of starvation and disease — including Standing Bear’s sister and his beloved son. Standing Bear and his burial party evaded capture while they traveled home but were caught and detained after visiting relatives at the Omaha reservation.

The man who caught them, Brig. Gen. George Crook, had been fighting Native Americans for decades, Brown wrote, but he was moved by Standing Bear’s reasons for leaving the Indian Territory and promised to help him.

Crook went to the media, which spread the story of the plight of Standing Bear and his fellow prisoners nationwide. Then two lawyers offered to take up their case pro bono, and asked a judge to free the Poncas immediately.

Though Crook was sympathetic to Standing Bear, since he was the official carrying out the federal government’s orders to detain them, the civil rights case that resulted was called Standing Bear v. Crook.

The U.S. attorney argued that Standing Bear was neither a citizen nor a person, and as such did not have standing to sue the government.

On the second day, Chief Standing Bear was called to testify, becoming the first Native American to do so.

Chief Standing Bear in his formal attire in 1877. (National Anthropological Archives:Smithsonian Institution

He raised his right hand and, through an interpreter, said: “My hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. The same god made us both. I am a man.

The judge agreed, ruling for the first time in U.S. history that the Indian is a ‘person’  and has all the rights and freedoms promised in the Constitution. The judge also ordered Crook to free Standing Bear and his people immediately. Standing Bear returned to the land by the Niobrara River and buried his son alongside his ancestors. When he died there in 1908, he was buried alongside them, too.

A few decades later, in 1937, the state of Nebraska sent two statues to the U.S. Capitol. Each state is allowed to pick two historical figures to represent them in National Statuary Hall, and Nebraska chose politician William Jennings Bryan and Arbor Day founder Julius Sterling Morton…In recent years, Nebraska lawmakers voted to replace both statues. Bryan was replaced by Chief Standing Bear; soon, Morton will be replaced by a statue of [American] author Willa Cather.

At the dedication ceremony Wednesday, which included Ponca tribal leaders and members of the House and Senate, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said it was an honor to recognize ‘one of the most important civil rights leaders in our country that almost nobody knows about.”

 

Category: Culture

The Seminole Tribe Sending Supplies to the Bahamas

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida has airlifted some 35,000 cases of bottled water over the past five days. Now relief efforts are moving to the sea in light of rapidly changing weather conditions.” S.H. Schulman, ICT

Photo credit-Seminole Tribe-ICT

Excerpt:First by air, now by sea; Seminole Tribe boosts relief effort as new storm forms By Sandra H. Schulman ICT

“Tribal spokesman Gary Bitner says for the past five days water was trucked using Seminole Gaming vehicles and then flown to the Bahamas by Sheltair Aviation. Now it’s being loaded onto shipping containers and shipped by boat.

The urgent delivery took a turn Friday when the government of the Bahamas issued a tropical storm warning for the region. The Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence are expecting tropical storm conditions, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The new storm first referred to as “potential tropical cyclone nine” which later became Tropical Storm Humberto, may produce total rain accumulations of two to four inches and maximum sustained winds near 30 mph through Sunday with as much as seven inches in the northwest and the central Bahamas. This is frightening news for the islands that experienced such massive devastation and flooding earlier this month…The tribal council will be meeting next week after the storm has passed to re-evaluate relief efforts and the best ways to provide them.

The tribe’s aviation department had been making three roundtrip flights a day since last week with two helicopters and a single-engine Pilatus PC-12/45 airplane. Deliveries were made in cooperation with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, which operates the Grand Bahama International Airport at Freeport.

‘The Seminole Tribe has a long and important history with the people of the Bahamas, and we are committed to helping them in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian,’ said Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged by Hurricane Dorian, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

As for now the Seminole Tribe of Florida say their eyes are now on the coming tropical storm.”

 

Category: Culture, Social | Tags:

“2020 Presidential Hopefuls Embrace Indigenous Movement Against Unwanted Pipelines”

“The Indigenous-led movement against pipelines, waged against Keystone XL and Dakota Access for years, has finally emerged as a critical component of the 2020 presidential campaign.” A. Agoyo, Indianz.com

Presidential candidate Cory Booker.

 

Excerpt: By Acee Agoyo, Indianz.com:

https://www.indianz.com/News/2019/09/04/presidential-hopefuls-embrace-indigenous.asp

“At least among Democrats, that is. Trump, who is running for re-election, and his Republican allies continue to support both projects despite widespread objections from tribes who fear negative impacts on their water, treaty rights and ways of life.

But for the party hoping to reclaim the White House, engaging in consultation with Indian Country isn’t enough. Tribes must have a decision-making role in pipelines and other energy infrastructure that affects their communities, several Democratic candidates for president are asserting as they seek the Native vote.

2020 Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. photo: Jim Watson :AFP : Getty Images

‘As President of the United States, Cory Booker will ensure that all people and all communities, especially those who have been traditionally left behind like indigenous communities, share in our progress,’ the U.S. Senator from New Jersey’s campaign told Indianz.Com on Tuesday…He is among several hopefuls who are promising to rescind the presidential permits for both the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. ICT

Both projects were approved by the Trump administration with little to no input from those affected in Indian Country. The final Dakota Access permit in North Dakota, for example, was approved while the leader of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies next to the $3.8 billion pipeline, was on a plane on his way for a meeting at the White House. The meeting was canceled since the decision had already been made.

Likewise, the first time Trump approved Keystone XL, he did so without conducting additional consultations among tribes along the route in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. And after Indigenous activists won a major court decision, he simply went around the judiciary and issued another permit rather than address the deficiencies raised in the lawsuit.

Biden was part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to help Indian Country and he participated in the 8-year promise to meet with tribal leaders. (Photo- Vincent Schilling)

But the politicians hoping to go up against Trump in 2020 are embracing an entirely different approach. A Booker administration will ‘require free, prior, and informed consent from tribal nations for all future major energy projects on federal lands,’ his campaign said on Tuesday, echoing a concept advanced by Faith Spotted Eagle, a respected elder from the Yankton Sioux Tribe, during the recent presidential forum…’We have a collective responsibility and commitment to stop Keystone XL from being built and we will not stop,’ said Lewis Grass Rope, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe who is hosting the Wiconi Un Tipi Resistance Camp on his family’s homelands in South Dakota as part of the Indigenous movement against the unwanted pipeline…Dakota Access likewise is back in the news even though it’s been up and running for more than two years.

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro. Aug. 20. Sarah Mearhoff : Forum News Service

The operators are planning to nearly double its capacity, a move opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose water resources, subsistence sites and sacred and historical places are impacted by the pipeline, which already carries more than 500,000 barrels of oil a day through its homelands in North Dakota…Like other Democratic candidates for president, Cory Booker’s environmental platform isn’t just about pipelines. Among other actions, he’s vowing to clean up every abandoned coal and uranium mine, including the more than 1,200 on the Navajo Nation and near the tribe’s homelands.”

Category: Native Rights, Politics