Category Archives: Culture

Where is the “Thanks” for The Mashpee Wampanoags?

“A week before Thanksgiving, members of the same tribe who helped the pilgrims survive 400 years ago stood before the nation’s Capitol Building. But instead of celebrating, they spoke out against the Trump administration’s decision to take their reservation away.”  ICTMN

Mashpee Indians. Photo- newsmaven.io

Excerpt: Give Back Our Reservation: Mashpee Wampanoag…ICTMN

“Yesterday morning over 200 members of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, their allies, and supporters marched from the National Museum of the American Indian to the Capitol. They sang traditional songs, chanted slogans and held signs speaking out against the Department of the Interior’s September 7 announcement revoking the trust status of 321 acres of Mashpee land.

‘What we’re seeing is a direct assault and attack on Indigenous people’s sovereignty,’ Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell said. ‘And sovereignty’s a powerful word.’

The Department of Interior approved the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s application to put two parcels of land into trust status in 2015. The land in Mashpee and Taunton on Cape Cod would house a 123-unit elder and tribal housing facility and most notably a $1 billion casino and hotel complex.

Rival business owners and casino developers blocked this by suing the government, saying the tribe was not eligible to have land placed into trust according to a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Carcieri v. Salazar. In that case the Supreme Court ruled land could only be placed into trust status for tribes that were included in the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act.

In the Mashpee case, the court ruled in favor of the rival business owners and developers, saying the Mashpee Wampanoag didn’t receive federal recognition until 2007 and so were not eligible to have trust land. On September 7, the Department of Interior formally took the tribe’s land out of trust status… Mashpee Wampanoag Vice-Chair Jessie Little Doe Baird called on all tribes to fight the Department of Interior’s decision.

‘This is where we’re at. So I’m telling you today, if we don’t stand up together, not just say it and talk about it, but be about it, they’re coming for all of us. We can’t let that happen. And as a Mashpee Wampanoag woman and as an Indigenous person and as a human being-we need to stand together.’

U.S. Representative Bill Keating, D-Massachusetts, co-authored legislation to reaffirm the trust status, H.R. 5244 and S. 2628. He spoke of the bipartisan support the tribe has in Congress. ‘We’re here because the administration has made a decision to go in one direction and Congress is here to try and straighten that out,’ he said.

Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Massachusetts, and another author of the legislation, also spoke briefly about the unfairness suffered by the Department of Interior decision.

Additionally, five representatives from the National Congress of American Indians spoke in support of the Mashpee…Members of other tribes facing land into trust issues were honored, in particular the Mashantucket Piquot Tribe and the Narragansett Indian tribe, including Chief Dean Stanton, as well as tribes from Alaska.

Quinault Chair Fawn Sharp.newsmaven.io

Among the many tribal leaders who spoke, Quinault President Fawn Sharp from Washington gave perhaps the most passionate speech. She pointed out how our country, under the current administration, is moving toward an era of termination, which she compared to a pit filled with flawed beliefs.

A sign the voices are heard

As the Eastern Sons Drum Group led the gathering in the American Indian Movement honor song, people began pointing skyward. Circling high above, a hawk rode thermals, absorbing the prayers and carrying them to the spirits of our ancestors, evidence the gathering had power.

The tribe who once helped the Pilgrims survive their first, harsh winter, now ask the public to help them survive the current season of harsh termination practices brought on by an administration with little compassion for Native people and even less understanding of their cultures.”

 

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In Honor of Our Natives Veterans

“Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2017, but the sentiment remains. Today is Veteran’s Day, the day we take a bit of time to remember and recognize the accomplishments of veterans and in the case of Indian Country Today, place a bit of emphasis on Native American veterans…In honor of all the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. This is a blessing to you and your family on this day.” V. Schilling, ICTMN

psischiefs.org

Excerpt: For Veteran’s Day: How to Spot a Native American Veteran, Vincent Schilling, ICTMN

“You might ask, how can we identify Native Veterans in order to give them a handshake, a hug or a tip of our hat? Here are several ways to tell someone is probably a Native American veteran. Some of them lighthearted and some more serious.

We dance in the Veteran’s circle during a pow wow

Seems simple enough, but taking a moment to recognize the veterans in this circle who gave years of their lives in service to their country is respectful. Also keep in mind those veterans who are not in the circle due to disabilities, never returning home or because they are no longer with us. Blessings to you all on this Veteran’s Day.

Dance in the Veteran’s circle. Credit Vincent Schilling,

They have rank, ribbons or service branch worked into their Native regalia

Sometimes at a pow wow or other celebration, you might see a person with a partial uniform, such as combat fatigues, along with pieces or Native ornamentation, such as feathers. This person is a veteran, or a person honoring a family member who served. Please know this is a gesture of honor and not to be taken lightly. Uniforms are only worn as a gesture of remembrance and honor.

Veterans laugh at movies that show people in inaccurate uniforms

Veterans will scream out when we see someone in a movie or TV show with inaccurate rank, ribbons or name-tags. We also notice sloppily worn hats, improperly rolled up sleeves or anything else that screams, Bad movie costuming person! or ‘Lack of military adviser!’

A ​Native American veteran takes a moment to respect the flag. Photo- Vincent Schillingjpeg

We might get a little quiet during the posting of the colors

Our servicemen and women have given so much. So during these moments, it is always right to give honor and respect to those veterans who might be a bit quiet.

Category: Culture, Military

Natives Say Goodbye to Prospector Pete Statue!

“Towering over the courtyard at California State University, Long Beach, is the statue of Prospector Pete, the epitome of the rugged 49ers who came to the state looking for gold and land. To some, it is an innocuous icon harkening back to the university’s first president, Pete Peterson, who frequently spoke of having ‘struck the gold of education.’ For others, the bearded and weathered statue is an upsetting relic that sanctions the brutish treatment of indigenous people in the state during the Gold Rush.” J. A. Real, The New York Times

The statue of Prospector Pete at California State University, Long Beach.CreditCreditThomas R. Cordova:The Orange County Register

Excerpt: Icon or Insensitive Relic? Prospector Pete Is On Its Way Out! By Jose A. Del Real

As scholars and students on campuses across the country grapple with debates over free speech and political correctness, Prospector Pete has emerged as a divisive symbol in California.

“Walking by a statue that’s put in a prominent place on campus, in an almost honorary way, that’s another type of trauma that’s being imposed on me. This is a part of our family history,’ said Miztlayolxochitl Aguilera, 20, who is of Tongva Indian descent. ‘I heard the stories of murder and rape and genocide growing up. Somebody else, they might not notice the statue. They might not feel what I feel as a California Indian when I see that symbol on campus.’

The school was built on the former site of the sacred village of Puvungna, where the Tongva indigenous people lived long before European contact…Now, after years of activism and a formal committee inquiry, Jane Conoley, the university’s president, announced last month that the statue will be formally moved. The cartoonish Prospector Pete costume mascot used at athletic games, which has been slowly phased out in recent years, will also be formally retired.

Ms. Aguilera, who recalled when her grandmother forbade her from acknowledging her indigenous ancestry, out of fear that it would lead to further marginalization, praised the move.

‘This is an acknowledgment of our trauma as indigenous people who suffered,’she said. ‘And it’s also an acknowledgment that we have to learn about these histories, about what’s going on around us.’

While the decision has not drawn the sorts of controversy and protest seen on other campuses and in other parts of the country, some alumni have questioned whether the university is merely catering to students and, in the process, severing ties with part of its past. ‘We have heard from some who believe we are censoring the history of our campus and bending to political correctness,’ said Terri Carbaugh, a university spokeswoman…Prospector Pete will be moved to a new alumni center after the university breaks ground on the project, which it intends to do next spring. The precise timeline and location have yet to be announced.”

Category: Culture, Native Rights

Native Frank Waln live in Cambridge MA, Harvard Square

“Lakota Hip-Hop artist Frank Waln will perform in Cambridge MA to mark this first public celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day.” City of Cambridge

Frank Waln live in Harvard Square.

Excerpt: Cambridge Celebrates First  Indigenous Peoples’ Day

“Lakota hip hop artist Frank Waln will perform in Cambridge MA, Harvard Square at Winthrop Park.

Frank Waln is an award winning Lakota Hip Hop artist, producer, and audio engineer from the Rosebud Rez in South Dakota. A recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, he attended Columbia College Chicago where he received a BA in Audio Arts and Acoustics.

Frank Waln – Lakota- with his ride on the Love Water, Not Oil tour!

His awards include three Native American Music Awards, the 3Arts Grant for Chicago Artists, and the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation 2018 NationalArtist Fellowship for Artistic Innovation.

Native Frank Waln (c) Photo- Bandcamp Daily

He has been featured in The Fader, Vibe, NPR, Paper Magazine, ESPN, and MTV’s Rebel Music. Frank Waln travels the world sharing his story through music and presentations focusing on healing and reconnecting to our roots. This concert is open to the public.”

Frank Waln by Shepard Fairey (for MTV’s Rebel Music)

Friday, October 5, 2018: Frank Waln live in Harvard Square,  Cambridge MA, Winthrop Park 7pm  –Admission is Free

Additional Events for Indigenous People’s Day in Boston MA

Saturday, October 6, 2018: Boston Marches for Indigenous Peoples Day 

Rally at 1:00pm at Park Street Station, Boston, followed by march to Columbus statue. 

Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/275381606436747/

Monday, October 8, 2018: Indigenous Peoples Day Walk – Celebrating Culture and Resistance

Starting Point: NAICOB, 105 South Huntington Avenue, Jamaica Plain, MA  11:00 am

All are welcome to walk with NAICOB and Indigenous students from Harvard University in celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day! NAICOB will open our doors at 11:00 am to prepare for the walk with a light breakfast. The first stop is the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The final stop is Matthews Hall in the Harvard Yard in Cambridge, MA, where the Harvard Indian College once stood. Once in Harvard Yard, highlights include Native American performers and speakers, handmade Indian tacos, cultural appreciation, and community building.

Co-Sponsors: Harvard University Native American Program

 

Category: Culture | Tags:

“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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How The Sioux Help Make Indian Horse Relay Racing Famous

“Tension fills the air. The stands are packed with people who have come to see riders wearing full feather headdresses and fringed chaps, riding horses with rumps that have been painted with pink and yellow handprints and various other esoteric or sacred insignia. The Native athletes ride bareback for one lap around before jumping off one horse and onto the next to ride another lap… It’s an insane spectator sport; riders and handlers nearly get trampled in the chaos, horses have gone down and have had to be euthanized right there on the track, and beneath it all is perhaps the primal draw of American history: the Native as Other… real Indians with feathers in their hair, skillfully riding bareback, out here on the plains, for the first time in almost 100 years.” S. Marsh, Victory Journal

photo- chris douglas

Excerpt:  The Riders By  Steve Marsh, Victory Journal

“The first Mystic Lake Derby was held in 2013. Andy Vig, the son of powerful tribal chairman Stanley Vig, was put in charge of coordinating the race, and although the racing results weren’t that exciting by themselves—most of the participants were used to shorter tracks, so Canterbury’s mile long oval produced blowouts—the action and pageantry have become a big draw. Ever since, the Indian Relay heats have taken place between races during the Canterbury’s biggest weekend of the year: the Mystic Lake Derby, a race day with $200,000 in cumulative purses, that serves, according to Canterbury CEO Randy Sampson, as the track’s crown jewel of the racing season.

The Horses-photo- chris douglas

The Derby brings in the best horses in the region, and that kind of quality brings out the eccentric rich people with the funny hats. But it’s the Indian Relay racing that brings out casual racing fans and suburban families…It’s Thursday, eight hours before the first heat, and Richard Longfeather, a Dakota Indian and relay team owner hailing from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, has just been disqualified.

The Fans-photo- Cody photography

He pulled into Shakopee this morning after making the eight-hour drive with his wife, their son, his son’s best friend, and their nephew, and a trailer full of five thoroughbred horses… According to SMSC’s Andy Vig, one of Longfeather’s horses didn’t have the correct vaccination paperwork. He’s near tears as Vig explains that he shares his disappointment, especially since Longfeather’s team was the only Dakota Sioux relay team at the event—meaning that in some ways his team would have been the de facto local favorites…As Longfeather huddles with his family to worry about having to make the long drive back to Little Eagle, South Dakota, the other 13 relay teams are getting their horses situated in the receiving barn. 

One of the favorites to win the relay is Starr School, a Blackfeet team from Browning, Montana. Last June they won the Muckleshoot Gold Cup, a big $50,000 purse Indian relay held at Emerald Downs, a track owned by the Muckleshoot tribe out in Seattle, Washington…Because of the Muckleshoot win, Starr School’s 21-year-old Isiah Crossguns is quickly becoming a star in the relay world. Like most relay riders, Crossguns is tall, much taller than the horseworld’s typical jockey…

It’s just after before twilight, and time for the first heat of the evening. In an unexpected development, somehow the veterinarian back in Standing Rock has unearthed the correct herpes papers and Richard Longfeather’s team has been cleared to race. This would be fishy if this had happened in any other sport, and it is in this one as well, I guess, but when I find Richard by the barn with his horses, he’s ready to race, wearing his homemade lime green team Longfeather jersey. 

The Race:

After the intros of each team over the P.A. system by ‘the Voice of Canterbury’ (and Minnesota Vikings super bro play-by-play man) Paul Allen, the entire field gets off to a galloping start.

photo- chris douglas

To no one’s surprise, Isiah Crossguns takes the lead over the first lap. He’s ahead by more than five lengths on the backside before being slowly reeled in by a horse and rider from the Tissidimit team, from on the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho.

On the second lap Tissidimit takes the lead. Their rider maintains his lead coming out of the second exchange.

photo- chris douglas

Crossguns gives one more valiant charge on the back stretch, but Tissidimit’s rider has obviously left something in reserve for the home stretch, and wins by two lengths at the stripe... Longfeather’s team is set to race in the second heat. His son Jace feels like he’s carrying too much weight for the the mile long track at Canterbury, so his friend Justin Fox is atop the horse. When the gun goes off, Longfeather’s thoroughbred doesn’t react, perhaps due to the last minute rider switch.

Photo: chris douglas

The previous year’s champion relay team, DD Express—Sioux Indians from the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota shoot ahead by 20 lengths. Longfeather’s team finishes dead last…As with every other heat, the exchange box positions are determined by a random drawing before the race. The best hope for a team is to draw a spot on the near end, to avoid as much of the chaos in the middle as possible.

Photo-Canterbury Park

Starr School and Tissidimit are the lucky ones tonight, drawing the first and second boxes, respectively, while DD Express is the least, drawing the seventh spot on the far end of the boxes.

DD Express comes out hot, with Starr School second and Tissidimit in third. But on the back stretch of the first lap, the other Oglala Sioux team, Brew Crew, vigorously “goes to the stick,” as they say, and takes the lead into the first exchange…

Paul Allen interrupts the middle of his call to shriek, ‘DD EXPRESS HAS BEEN ELIMINATED! DD EXPRESS HAS BEEN ELMINATED!’

Allen explains it has to do with the crash on the first exchange.

‘THE DEFENDING CHAMPION WILL NOT REPEAT AS CHAMPIONS!’

“HERE COMES TISSIDIMIT MAKING A BIG MOVE!” Allen bellows.

When Tissidimit starts to slide back around the final turn, Allen accuses the slowing horse of “doing the moonwalk,” but they quickly reengage.

Abrahamson fades just at the wire and…It was going to be a photo finish. 

The slow motion replay on the jumbotron makes it look like Brew Crew had won by a nose. The Oglala Sioux are now out on the track and they are yelling, ‘WE ARE THE HORSE NATION! WE ARE THE HORSE NATION!’

‘We await the official results,’ Allen cautions.

photo- chris douglas

After another few interminable minutes of silence, we all realize something is wrong. Paul Allen comes back and again directs our attention to the large infield monitor. He explains that right before the wire, Sylvan Brown reached across and grabbed the reins of Tissidimit’s horse. The Zapruder-like evidence is blatant.

‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ Paul Allen comes in over the loudspeaker again, this time sounding like a disappointed school principal, ‘the original winner, Brew Crew, has been disqualified.’ The crowd gasps.

‘And the new Indian Relay Horse Racing Champion is Tissidimit.’

Tissidimit team rider Jared Cerino gets the win in Heat 1 August 25 at Canterbury Park.

After Tissidimit is awarded gaudy golden belt buckles and an oversized check for $7200—their portion of the purse—I walk next to Cerino on the way back to the barn. He is amped from the race, of course, and reveals that Sylvan Brown, the rider of Brew Crew, had called him a “motherfucker as he grabbed his inside reigns.

‘We had words after the race,’ he explained. ‘But instead of those words going to fighting, I told him just to don’t let it happen next time.’ He took a breath. ‘I got to chill so I can come back next year.’

And with that, he heads into the barn to celebrate with his teammates.”

 

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