Category Archives: Culture

Wildfires Rapidly Destroying Native Land

“In Oregon, Karuk tribal citizen Troy Hockaday Sr. watched helplessly last fall as a raging wildfire leveled the homes of five of his family members, swallowed acres of forest where his people hunt deer, elk and black bear, and killed a longtime friend.” J. Estus, ICT, July 15, 2021

A scoop plane drops water onto a burning ridge in Washington state (Pete Caster:Lewiston Tribune via AP)

Excerpt: Wildfires in the west hitting tribes hard By, Joaqlin Estus, Indian Country Today, July 15, 2021

“Now, less than a year later, the tribal councilman is watching in horror as flames encroach on the parched lands of other Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest that already are struggling to preserve traditional hunting and fishing practices amid historic drought. At least two tribes have declared states of emergency amid the devastation…In California, a fire was rapidly expanding Wednesday in the Feather River Canyon, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Paradise, the foothill town largely destroyed by a 2018 wildfire that killed 85 people.

The largest fire in the U.S. on Wednesday was burning in southern Oregon. The lightning-caused Bootleg fire was encroaching on the traditional territory of the Klamath Tribes, which still have treaty rights to hunt and fish on the land, and sending huge, churning plumes of smoke into the sky visible for miles…Chuwea Creek Fire is one of several fires in north central Washington, where hundreds of people are under level 1 and 2 evacuation orders. At level 1, people are advised to get ready and be alert to danger. At level 2, people may leave voluntarily or make plans and pack to be ready to go at a moment’s notice as significant danger is in their area…The Federal Emergency Management Agency Tuesday authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Chuwea Creek Fire…Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation Chairman Andy Joseph Jr., said in a prepared statement Tuesday, “our priority is always the safety of all people on the Colville Reservation, and we will also protect property to the best of our ability,” Joseph said.

“Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people already impacted by these fires. We thank those coming onto our land to assist us in fighting these fires, and we appreciate the donations and offers for help that are already coming in. The need for action to protect our climate, and to mitigate the effects of climate change, becomes clearer with each passing year and each round of devastating fires,” Joseph said.

On Tuesday the tribe closed the reservation to the public and to industrial activities. It placed non-essential staff on administrative leave.”

Category: Culture

First Native Owned Sea Tour Launches in Seattle!

“Seattle’s newest waterfront attraction is a Native-owned, Native-designed voyage offering a narrated tour sharing the history of the city and its Indigenous people. Salish Sea Tours, located at Miner’s Landing on Pier 57, opened to the public on June 25.” N. Brennan, ICT, July 2021

Salish Sea Tours Launch 2021

Excerpt: Salish Sea Tours Launch, By Natasha Brennan, ICT

“Various Native artists and leaders were involved in the creation of the company’s two 93-foot catamarans and its hour-long narrated tour of Elliott Bay. Owner Kyle Griffith, an enrolled member of the Chinook Indian Nation, said the tour is a tangible representation of tribes coming together.

George Montero, Tlingit, is presented with a traditional Duwamish blanket at a ceremony before Salish Sea Tours made one of its first voyages on June 24 from Miner’s Landing on the Seattle waterfront. (Photo by The Bellingham Herald

 

The Chinook Indian Nation, located less than 100 miles southwest of Olympia, and the Duwamish Tribe, native to the Seattle area, are not federally recognized. Griffith hopes the tour will bring attention to the tribes’ fight for recognition.

Inside the ship.

‘It’s not just a tour, it’s about being seen. This is the first tour in the city of Seattle that mentions the name of the Duwamish,’ Jolene Haas, director of the Duwamish Longhouse, said at the tour’s maiden voyage and launch party Thursday afternoon, June 24.

To Purchase Tickets Visit:   https://www.salishseatours.com

How Natives Link Cultural Tattoos To Their Ancestors

“As scientists find more tattoos on preserved remains from Indigenous cultures, artists living today are drawing from them to revive cultural traditions.” K. Langolis, The New York Times, July 5, 2021

Elle Festin, a California tattooist of Filipino heritage, uses the Ibaloi and Kankanaey fire mummies. Credit- Nia Macknight for The NYT.jpeg

Excerpt: Inked Mummies, Linking Tattoo Artists With Their Ancestors, By Krista Langlois, The New York Times,  July 5, 2021

“In the 1970s, hunters stumbled upon eight 500-year-old bodies preserved by the Arctic climate near Qilakitsoq, an abandoned Inuit settlement in northwest Greenland. Later, when scientists photographed the mummies with infrared film, they made an intriguing discovery: Five of the six females had delicate lines, dots and arches tattooed on their faces.

Tattoos on an Ibaloi woman in 1999. Credit-Getty Images

For thousands of years, tattoos were more than just body decoration for Inuit and other Indigenous cultures. They served as symbols of belonging, signified coming-of-age rituals, channeled spiritual beliefs or conferred powers that could be called upon while giving birth or hunting. Yet starting around the 17th century, missionaries and colonists intent on ‘civilizing’ Indigenous people put a stop to tattooing in all but the most remote communities.

The practice so thoroughly disappeared in Greenland that Maya Sialuk Jacobsen, who spent her childhood there, worked for a decade as a Western-style tattooist before realizing that her Inuit ancestors had also been tattooists, albeit of a very different nature…’I take great pride in tattooing a woman,’  she said. “When she meets her foremothers in the next world, it will be like looking in a mirror.’

Aaron Deter-Wolf studies ancient North American tattooing tools like this one used by the Pueblo in southeast Utah. Credit- R. Hubner, WSU

Until recently, Western archaeologists largely ignored tattooing. Because of these scientists’ disinterest, tools made for tapping, poking, stitching or cutting human skin were cataloged as sewing needles or awls, while tattooed mummies ‘were regarded more as objects of fascination than scientific specimens,’ said Aaron Deter-Wolf, a prehistoric archaeologist at the Tennessee Division of Archaeology and a leading researcher in the archaeology of tattooing…But as tattooing has become more mainstream in Western culture, Mr. Deter-Wolf and other scientists have begun to examine preserved tattoos and artifacts for insights into how past people lived and what they believed.”

Navajo Nation Held First Gay Pride Parade Since Covid-19 Closings

“When Navajo Nation Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown came out to his dad, he was terrified. ‘He’s such a macho man, he doesn’t speak English, very hardcore traditional,’ Brown said. But when Brown told him he was nádleehí, a third gender in Navajo culture, he was surprised by his father’s reaction.” C. Norwell, The Washington Post, June 19, 2021

Drag performer Anya C. Mann in a pride ribbon skirt at the first Navajo Nation Pride Parade at Window Rock, Arizona on June 19, 2021. (Cecilia Nowell for The Washington Post)

Excerpt:Navajo Nation celebrates its first official Pride parade after a devastating year, By Cecilia Nowell, Washington Post, June 21, 2021

‘My father was telling me that I am born the way the Holy People made me,’ Brown said in Navajo, and later repeated in English, from a stage at the now annual Navajo Nation Pride on Saturday. ‘I am a product of his prayers’ and in the Diné kinship system, ‘there is no ‘other’ clan.’

Earlier this month, the Navajo Nation celebrated its fourth annual Pride Week — the largest Indigenous Pride in the country — with a series of virtual gatherings culminating in its first official pride parade on Saturday.

 

People gather in front of the Navajo Nation Council Chambers during the first Navajo Nation Pride parade. (Cecilia Nowell for The Washington Post)

Brown was among speakers who addressed attendees at one of the Navajo Nation’s first public events since covid-19 restrictions have begun to lift. In front of the Navajo Nation Council Chambers in Window Rock, Ariz., organizers and public leaders reaffirmed their commitment to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S+) community members and to overturning policies like the Diné Marriage Act, which prohibits same-sex marriage in Navajo Nation…’This year is our fourth year and in Diné culture we understand that the number four is a very sacred number,’ invoking the four directions and the four sacred colors, said Navajo Nation Pride’s youth director Geronimo Louie (Navajo). ‘We are a matriarchal society at heart and through our teachings and understandings and our origin stories, women have always been leading and paving the way for all of us as Indigenous people.’ Reclaiming language, organizers say, is an example of overturning colonial influences; so is repealing the Diné Marriage Act.”

ALSO TO CELEBRATE GAY PRIDE:

A Guide To Gender Identity Terms, By Laurel Wamsley, NPR, June 2, 2021

Image- Kaz Fantone for NPR

“Pronouns are basically how we identify ourselves apart from our name. It’s how someone refers to you in conversation,” says Mary Emily O’Hara, a communications officer at GLAAD. “And when you’re speaking to people, it’s a really simple way to affirm their identity.” L. Wamsley, NPR, June 2, 2021

Category: Culture

Navajo Nation Police Need 775 New Officers

With less than 200 officers on the Navajo Nation Police force, getting to this large amount is a lofty goal, especially when it comes to the budget.” A. Becenti Navajo Times, June 11, 2021

Navajo Nation police June 13 2021

Excerpt:Navajo police need 775 new officers, report says Arlyssa Becenti Navajo Times, June 11, 2021

“The Navajo Nation Police needs 775 officers to meet community demands across the Navajo Nation, according to an assessment done by Strategy Matter and Navajo public safety leadership…’The demands on this department are extreme,’ said Liz O’ Connor, consultant team lead. ‘The range of issues officers are called upon to address, the vast distances they must cross, and the limitation of radio and cellular coverage as well create a nearly impossible situation every day for so many officers in a department of this size.’

The Navajo Police Department’s assessment is 174 pages long and took 18 months to develop. The assessment was unveiled to the public in late May. With this assessment three basic questions are answered such as: Where are we now? Where we want to go? And how will we get there?

But the number of officers needed was the big takeaway from the report…’It’s a unique report for the Navajo Police Department,’ said Chief Phillip Francisco. ‘It’s a lot to digest…some of the recommendations is we are extremely short staffed. Seven hundred fifty would be the ideal number of officers to really do the job that our community demands and to keep our officers safe,’ he said. ‘We have a long way to go to get to that point.’

Navajo Nation

When it comes to the demands placed on the Navajo Nation Police, Navajo lawmakers are quick to express needed service from officers without investing in them. The biggest example is absolutely nothing is done to acquire safe buildings for officers and personnel in Window Rock and Shiprock.

Even more obvious is delegates continuing to advocate for outside police forces to come onto Navajo Nation to help police the Navajo people, an option that Francisco doesn’t agree with…Other weaknesses include: the sense of department unity is not consistently present; information flow is a real challenge for technical and organizational reasons; facilities, the Window Rock station is in a serious state of disrepair, and the Shiprock station is closed; general orders and rules and regulations are outdated (1979) and unhelpful; COVID-19 impacts: it is harder than ever to connect with residents; there is significantly increased demand on dwindling resources at NPD and for partners; recruitment challenges: money, interest, training, disqualifications, available housing, and perceptions among youth.

But the strengths identified include: commitment and dedication of officers at all ranks; younger generation of NPD staff see the department as a unified whole; greatly improved—and growing—confidence in department leadership, among officers, civilian staff, partners and others; thorough (top to mid-managers) commitment to officer wellness and improving early intervention programs; partners and potential partners recognize the challenging circumstances of law enforcement on the Nation and want to support efforts to improve operations, safety, and coordination…‘We learned the NPD leadership is visionary, highly accountable, and trusted by officers, residents, and staff alike,’ said O’Connor. “Invest in this department.”

 

A bakery lost a client when it made rainbow Pride cookies. So others bought every item in the shop.  By Sydney Page, The Washington Post, June 9, 2021

“When a small Southern bakery made rainbow-themed cookies to celebrate Pride Month, there was a swift backlash. On June 2, Confections, a tiny store in Lufkin, Tex., shared a photo on its Facebook page of heart-shaped rainbow sugar cookies with the caption, “More LOVE. Less hate. Happy Pride to all our LGBTQ friends! All lovers of cookies and happiness are welcome here.”

 

The photo of rainbow Pride cookies that was posted on Confections’ Facebook page on June 2.

Category: Culture

“Navajo Nation Police Need 775 New Officers”

“With less than 200 officers on the Navajo Nation Police force, getting to this large amount is a lofty goal, especially when it comes to the budget.”Arlyssa Becenti Navajo Times, June 11, 2021

Navajo Police Chief Philip Francisco walks down a roll of newly recruited police officers at the Navajo Police Training Academy on Jan. 2 in Chinle, Arizona.(Photo by Sharon Chischilly/Navajo Times)

 

Excerpt: Navajo police need 775 new officers, report says...Arlyssa Becenti Navajo Times, June 11, 2021

“The Navajo Nation Police needs 775 officers to meet community demands across the Navajo Nation, according to an assessment done by Strategy Matter and Navajo public safety leadership…’The demands on this department are extreme,’ said Liz O’ Connor, consultant team lead. ‘The range of issues officers are called upon to address, the vast distances they must cross, and the limitation of radio and cellular coverage as well create a nearly impossible situation every day for so many officers in a department of this size.’

The Navajo Police Department’s assessment is 174 pages long and took 18 months to develop. The assessment was unveiled to the public in late May.  With this assessment three basic questions are answered such as: Where are we now? Where we want to go? And how will we get there?

But the number of officers needed was the big takeaway from the report…’It’s a unique report for the Navajo Police Department,’ said Chief Phillip Francisco. ‘It’s a lot to digest…some of the recommendations is we are extremely short staffed. Seven hundred fifty would be the ideal number of officers to really do the job that our community demands and to keep our officers safe,’ he said. ‘We have a long way to go to get to that point.’

When it comes to the demands placed on the Navajo Nation Police, Navajo lawmakers are quick to express needed service from officers without investing in them. The biggest example is absolutely nothing is done to acquire safe buildings for officers and personnel in Window Rock and Shiprock.

Navajo Nation

Even more obvious is delegates continuing to advocate for outside police forces to come onto Navajo Nation to help police the Navajo people, an option that Francisco doesn’t agree with…Other weaknesses include: the sense of department unity is not consistently present; information flow is a real challenge for technical and organizational reasons; facilities, the Window Rock station is in a serious state of disrepair, and the Shiprock station is closed; general orders and rules and regulations are outdated (1979) and unhelpful; COVID-19 impacts: it is harder than ever to connect with residents; there is significantly increased demand on dwindling resources at NPD and for partners; recruitment challenges: money, interest, training, disqualifications, available housing, and perceptions among youth.

But the strengths identified include: commitment and dedication of officers at all ranks; younger generation of NPD staff see the department as a unified whole; greatly improved—and growing—confidence in department leadership, among officers, civilian staff, partners and others; thorough (top to mid-managers) commitment to officer wellness and improving early intervention programs; partners and potential partners recognize the challenging circumstances of law enforcement on the Nation and want to support efforts to improve operations, safety, and coordination.

For this, the Strategy Matters and public safety leadership consulting team suggested that NPD set an initial target of 500 personnel, with 300 serving as patrol officers, and 200 serving as command and support personnel. These numbers are based on a budget-driven authorized-level approach the Nation has been using and the workload-based approach. ‘We learned the NPD leadership is visionary, highly accountable, and trusted by officers, residents, and staff alike,’ said O’Connor. “Invest in this department.”

 

Celebrating Gay Pride Month!

Lesbians in Ballet: ‘Has Anyone Like Me Ever Walked These Halls?’ By Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, June 1, 2021

Two Juliets- Audrey Malek, left, and Cortney Taylor Key, rehearsing a duet with the choreographer Adriana Pierce. Credit- Yael Malka for The New York Times

“Ballet’s strict gender norms put pressure on women to conform. But dancers who don’t are finding they’re not alone.” S. Burke, The New York Times, June 1, 2021