Category Archives: Culture

Natives Experience More Discrimination in Majority-Native Areas

“More than half of Native Americans living on tribal lands or other majority-Native areas say they have experienced racial or ethnic discrimination when interacting with police (55 percent) and applying for jobs (54 percent). That’s according to new poll results being released Tuesday by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.” J. Neel, NPR

Excerpt: Poll: Native Americans See Far More Discrimination In Areas Where They Are A Majority By Joe Neel, NPR

“Location appears to have a big influence on whether Native Americans experience discrimination because they are Native American. In the example above, discrimination in police encounters was reported three times more often by American Indians living in majority-Native communities than by those living in more mixed areas.

Even disregarding where people live, our poll found Native Americans reported significant discrimination in their everyday lives — jobs, health care, education and other areas.

‘The poll is important because it allows Native Americans to speak to a broad range of Americans about the serious personal problems they face in dealing with employers, police and the courts,’ says poll director Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard Chan School. ‘It shines a light on the very high level of slurs and personal insults this community faces in their day-to-day interactions with others.’

In addition to asking people about their personal experiences, we also asked about their perception of discrimination within their local community. Nearly half of Native Americans in majority-Native areas believe that where they live, other Native Americans are ‘often’ discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity. In nonmajority areas, that perception is much lower.

Some people have asked why we’re dividing our data between ‘majority’ and ‘nonmajority’ areas and not between ‘tribal’and ‘nontribal’ lands. A main reason is that there are many areas that are not tribal lands but still have large populations of Native Americans. Asking about the local neighborhood’s composition tells us more about how people interact in their home environment and the prevalence — or lack of — discrimination.”

Category: Culture

Natives Remind People: “We Are A Culture, Not A Costume!”

“It’s October, and with it comes the annual Halloween tradition of young and old alike dressing up and going out either door-to-door in hopes of scoring serious candy, or having a good time at a costume party. Unfortunately, some traditions surrounding Halloween are plain racist, such as the marketing and selling of ‘costumes’ that ‘represent’, however stereotypically, ‘other’ cultures. Stores shelves, sadly, will be lined with fake head dresses, buck skin outfits, and ‘war’ paint (along with kimonos, turbans, and other ‘representations’ of various cultures) for would be costume wearers.  N. Altaha

Excerpt: I am NOT a costume! by Noel Altaha

The following comes from Noel Altaha (White Mountain Apache) who made a video titled  ‘I am NOT a costume!’, in response to this racist tradition. Using creative tools to persuade others to agree with your stand was the assignment. My classmates presented great examples, (not texting and driving for example) and I wanted to have others see my view on this holiday. Theories may include self-affirmation theory, central route persuasion, and emotional approach.

Native Appropriations

Dressing as someone else’s culture has lasting impacts on everyone’s psyche. Granted it could not be explicitly noticeable but there is evidence suggesting the negative effects on stereotyping in social psychology. My research has focused on Native American Historical Trauma (HT) and unresolved grief. According to this theory due to European Colonization there has been a collective and continuous loss in Native communities. The mourning process continues through one’s lifetime and passes onto the next generations, thus the term intergenerational trauma. The symptoms of HT includes but are not limited to low self-esteem, hyper-vigilance, alcoholism, substance abuse, suicidal ideation, etc. etc. etc.

Toddler Boy Indian Costume

Ignorance of the historic trauma has profound negative impacts on Native peoples suffering or experiencing the historical trauma. So when you wear an “Indian” or ‘Savage’ or ‘Native American’ costume you are basically stereotyping a culture, you are also making their culture a historical reference that sends a message to everyone: Native Americans no longer exist, only in history books and old western films. You are not recognizing the present day Native people who are professors, doctors, actors, and nurses who still identify with their Native culture and are successfully existing in the modern world.

I certainly do not dress as a white person for Halloween and have not ever seen the costume “colonizer” at my local retail stores and if it did I would think there would be letters from upset offended white people. I do not want to make this all about a race issue because it more than that. This is about respecting oneself through becoming educated and it is about healing for a people who have and continue to suffer from the impacts of HT.”

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We Should Harvest like Our Ancestors

“It’s time for the harvest. Traditionally, the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) are hunter gatherers…I was taught that our ancestral teachings and spiritual instructions were not just a part of our history, but that they should be maintained, kept alive, and practiced continually because they can save us when situations are dire. It only takes one natural disaster to remind us that ‘modern civilization’ is often a house of cards that is not infallible. If you watch the news, you know a time is coming when we won’t be able to look to the government and outside organizations to rescue us, although Native Nations can work together.Native communities need to start focusing on themselves and preparing for difficult times.” R. Hopkins, ICTMN

Kansas Historical Society

Excerpt: Harvest like Our Ancestors: The Resistance is Fertile, R. Hopkins, ICTMN

“It’s time to pick medicine too. The prairie sage is tall. We start collecting sage and sweetgrass ahead of sundance, but we continue to collect enough to last us through the winter, which is well into March in the Dakotas. Do not pull them out by the root, and leave an offering along with a prayer of thanks for your bounty. There are many other Native plants that can be harvested and dried for medicine, like yarrow and purple coneflower.

Purple Coneflower.

If you’ve never used these wild medicines before, I caution you against doing so unless you’re under the guidance of an elder, medicine person, or ethnobotanist. We like to pick from designated areas as well, as some plants have been exposed to manmade pollution and aren’t suitable for consumption.

Prairie Sage, White Sagebrush

We planted, as well. On my reservation, ancient caches of corn were discovered. Today, tribal members are reviving the practice of gardening, not only to preserve tradition, but for better health and to promote community sustainability and food sovereignty.

The Three Sisters. Gardening harmony. Native American Indians planted corn, beans and squash

By growing our own seeds, we are combating the movement towards all plants and seeds being GMO (Genetically-Modified Organisms). I don’t think people realize what type of modifications are being made to plants and seeds, with insect, fish and other materials being integrated into them. In the end, we hold that knowledge of a pure food source, in our indigenous seeds. We need to protect that knowledge, share our seeds and continue on the tradition of growing our own foods.”

Category: Culture

“Wanted: Navajo People – or their kids – Who Appeared in Old-Time Westerns”

“From about 1941 to 1957, the Navajo Reservation was visited by dozens of filmmakers who wanted to include the beauty of the scenery in their movies.  A documentary producer is researching those good old days and is looking for Navajos who appeared as extras in movies like John Ford’s ‘Stagecoach’ or ‘A Distant Trumpet.’ B. Donovan, Navajo Times


On the set of film Stagecoach. photo- Vanity Fair.

Excerpt: Wanted: People – or their kids – who appeared in old-time westerns, By  Bill Donovan, Navajo Times

“The problem for many of these films, however, is that they were made 70 or 80 years ago and most of those who were in the films have passed on. So the producers are also looking for children whose parents or grandparents may have been in the films and remember the stories they told about being in the films.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, director John Ford’s favorite scene for films. photo- tripadvisor

This is a low-budget documentary so people who are interviewed will receive no pay but it will give them a chance to preserve some of the film history that is unique to Navajo country.

Scene from film A Distant Trumpet

Scene from film Stagecoach by John Ford

If you want to be a part of the project, the person in charge of the project, Duncan Harvey, will be in the area this weekend and is looking for people to talk to.

The landscape of colossal sandstone formations straddling the Arizona-Utah state line has become an iconic image of the American West

He can be contacted at 602-765-7977 or 602-317-6337.

Category: Culture, Films

According to Native Prophecies, The End of the World Is Near

“In the Hopi teachings,” he began, “we are told that toward the end of the world, Spider Woman will come back and she will weave her web across the landscape. Everywhere you will see her web. That’s how we will know that we are coming to the end of this world, when we see her web everywhere. I believe I have just seen her web.” That was Thomas Banyacya’s  (a Hopi traditionalist interpreter) reaction to seeing the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, which sends electricity from the Niagara Falls generating plant throughout Western New York.” ICTMN

Thomas Banyacya

Part of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant in Lewiston, New York, is seen from the air on August 14, 2003.

Excerpt: Apocalypse Prophecies: Native End of the World Teachings, ICTMN

“The world was crying Mayan apocalypse on December 21, 2012, so it seemed prudent to explore other end of the world teachings. Even though the Mayans weren’t actually predicting the end of the world, we’d play along anyway. Some of those teachings are just as relevant in 2017 as they were in 2012.

Other Hopi teachings refer to the nine signs. The first sign said the white-skinned men would come, the second said: ‘Our lands will see the coming of spinning wheels filled with voices. In his youth, my father saw this prophecy come true with his eyes—the white men bringing their families in wagons across the prairies.’

The Hopi aren’t alone when it comes to prophecies about how the world will end either…Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac pointed to Handsome Lake, a 19th century Seneca prophet whose predictions are presented by anthropologist Arthur Parker in The Code of Handsome Lake, the Seneca Prophet  published in 1913. Handsome Lake predicted the world would end by fire in the year 2100…He also predicted the destruction of the environment, famines and war. One of his predictions, in section 93 of Parker’s book, even seems to predict the destruction of the ozone layer.

Handsome Lake — the Iroquois prophet.

The Northern Paiute had Wovoka, a religious leader who was born around 1856 and predicted the coming of a new world. He was also the leader of the Ghost Dance movement, which was danced to help prepare for the new world.


We don’t know exactly how he imagined the new world would occur but it’s clear that he taught that it would occur through some kind of cataclysmic event…maybe through a kind of earthquake…some sources suggest a great snow, said Jeffrey Ostler, a historian at the University of Oregon who has written about Wovoka’s prophecies.

‘It [cataclysmic event] would destroy or remove European Americans and then after that there would be a renewed world where game would return, ancestors who had died would return to life and Indian people would be able to live well again.’

Dave Courchene, Anishnaabe elder and the founder of Turtle Lodge, an institution that maintains the fires of traditional knowledge in Manitoba, Canada, says prophecies aren’t always negative. He told ICMN that prophecies, to his people, offer hope and direction.

Elder Dave Courchene speaks at the Traditional Knowledge Keeper event.

‘We were given instructions on how to live and how to behave and we’ve strayed away from those original instructions,’ he said. ‘What we’re finding in the world today, through the signs that nature is offering us is that we need to reflect on our behavior—on how we’re treating life and how we’re treating each other as human beings. It’s really parallel to the Mayan calendar when they talk of the new cycle that’s coming and then you hear so much talk about the end of the world.’

But he doesn’t see the end of the world as an ending, Courchene sees it as a beginning.

‘The end of the world can also be understood that we’re being given an opportunity to put an end to our negative behaviors,’ he said, noting that this new cycle will mean a return to indigenous values.

‘These changes are going to be somewhat difficult for those that have lived the materialistic life because this new life the elders are talking about is a return to laying down values and principles that whatever we create in our life must be grounded with those values,’ he said. ‘The principles of our understanding, of the survival of the people have always been based on peace, harmony and respect for all of life.”

Category: Culture

Tribes Protest Names of Genocidal Figures In Yellowstone

“Two tribes plan to demonstrate in favor of renaming a valley and a mountain in Yellowstone National Park, places they say are associated with one man who advocated slaughter of Native Americans and another who carried it out.” The New York Times

Hayden Valley Yellowstone

Excerpt: Tribes Plan Protest to Change Yellowstone Valley, Peak Names The New York Times

“The tribes seek to change the name of Hayden Valley, a subalpine valley just north of Yellowstone Lake, to Buffalo Nations Valley. They want to change the name of Mount Doane, a 10,550-foot (3,216-meter) peak five miles east of the lake, to First People’s Mountain.

Mount Doane

Efforts to change place names and remove monuments to controversial figures in U.S. history have gained momentum since white supremacists opposed to taking down a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee clashed in August with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

But several Native American renaming efforts — some simply to erase racist terminology from maps — have been going on for years. Elsewhere in Wyoming, tribes seek to change Devils Tower, the name of an 870-foot (265-meter) volcanic mesa in the first U.S. national monument, to Bear Lodge. Devils Tower is the name white settlers gave the feature. Bear Lodge is what the Lakota, Crow, Cheyenne and other tribes call the formation important if not sacred to their cultures.

In Yellowstone, Hayden Valley is named for Ferdinand Hayden, a geologist whose explorations inspired the park’s establishment in 1872 but who also called for exterminating American Indians who wouldn’t acquiesce to becoming farmers and ranchers.

Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden

Mount Doane is named after U.S. Army Lt. Gustavus Doane, who took part in killing 173 noncombatant Indians — women, children and elderly men — in Montana in 1870.

gustavus Doane-Yellowstone

The tribes asked Yellowstone last year to rename Hayden Valley and Mount Doane. Park officials responded by explaining the renaming process overseen by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Board on Geographic Names, park Superintendent Dan Wenk said.

The Park Service has a responsibility to take up the matter with the board on the tribes’ behalf, said Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Chairman Brandon Sazue.

‘We are not individuals, we are sovereign nations, many with treaty rights to this region, and those treaties are enshrined in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution,’  Sazue said by email.

The Board on Geographic Names has received several emails on the issue but no official proposal to change the names of Hayden Valley or Doane Mountain, Geological Survey officials said.”

Category: Culture