Category Archives: Culture

Ojibwe Artist Jim Denomie Walks On

“Acclaimed Ojibwe artist Jim Denomie – whose ‘metaphorical surrealism’ works examined historical and contemporary events – died March 1 after a short battle with cancer. He was 66.”S. H. Schulman, ICT, Mar 3 2022

Ojibwe Artist Jim Denomie

Excerpt: By Sandra Hale Schulman, ICT, March 3, 2022

“An active artist until the end, he participated in Miami Art Week in December 2021 with a solo exhibit at Untitled Art Fair, and was in a group show of Indigenous artists that closed in late February in Los Angeles at Various Small Fires Gallery.

‘Jim was undoubtedly one of the most important painters of his generation, offering a powerful and unmatched vision, one both deeply expressive of his Indigenous roots and compelling for art and non-art viewers alike,’ said Todd Bockley, owner of the Bockley Gallery, which has represented Denomie since 2007.

‘But it’s his generosity of spirit, his tireless support for artists, and his kindness to all that I’ll miss most.’

Attack on Fort Snelling Bar and Grill” (2007) by Jim Denomie,

Noted one fan on Twitter, ‘The Native art world is losing one of it’s greats as Jim Denomie starts his journey. His work has always been such an inspiration—politically pointed, often funny, layered…so Ojibwe.’

Born July 6, 1955, Denomie was a citizen of the Lac Courte Orielles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.

Denomie’s 2021 painting “The Storyteller

He lived on the reservation until he was four, when his family moved to Chicago as part of forced government relocation programs in the 1960s…As a youth, Denomie struggled with the pressures of racism and stereotypes. While attending the University of Minnesota he became involved with the American Indian student organization, engaging in Native art, culture, politics, and language.

Denomie mixed a color on his palette. credit- Mark Vancleavw, Star Tribune

He traveled and exhibited widely across the United States and around the world, most notably Brazil and New Zealand… Denomie’s works had been shown in more than 130 exhibitions throughout the U.S. and internationally…He died at his home in Franconia, Minnesota. He is survived by his wife, writer Diane Wilson; daughters Cheryl Lane and Sheila Umland; son Cody Cyson; step-daughter Jodi Bean; and his mother, Pamelia Almquist.”

Tribal Nations Still Caring for Buffalos and the Land

“The Rosebud Sioux nation in South Dakota aims to build the largest Indigenous owned herd to help food security and restore the land.” M. Krupnick, The Guardian, Feb 20, 2022

The Wolakota Buffalo Range in South Dakota has swelled to 750 bison with a goal of reaching 1,200. Photograph- Matt Krupnick

Excerpt: Matt Krupnick, The Guardian, Feb 20, 2022

“A trio of bison has gathered around a fourth animal’s carcass, and Jimmy Doyle is worried. ‘I really hope we’re not on the brink of some disease outbreak,’ said Doyle, who manages the Wolakota Buffalo Range here in a remote corner of south-western South Dakota in one of the country’s poorest counties. The living bison sidle away as Doyle inspects the carcass, which is little more than skin and bones after coyotes have scavenged it. ‘If you don’t catch them immediately after they’ve died, it’s pretty hard to say what happened,’ he said.

So far, at least, the Wolakota herd has avoided outbreaks as it pursues its aim of becoming the largest Indigenous American-owned bison herd. In the two years since the Rosebud Sioux tribe started collecting the animals on the 28,000-acre range in the South Dakota hills, the herd has swelled to 750 bison.

The tribe plans to reach its goal of 1,200 within the year…With their eyes on solving food shortages and financial shortfalls, restoring ecosystems and bringing back an important cultural component, dozens of Indigenous tribes have been restoring bison herds. Tribes manage at least 55 herds across 19 states,  said Troy Heinert, executive director of the InterTribal Buffalo Council.

The pandemic, which has hit tribes particularly hard, added to the urgency of bison restoration, said Heinert, who is also the minority leader in the South Dakota state senate. The first animal harvested by Wolakota helped feed homeless residents of the Rosebud Sioux reservation…Although the words are used interchangeably, bison and buffalo are different animals. Bison – named the US’s national mammal in 2016 – are found in North America and Europe, while buffalo are native to Asia and Africa.

‘I used to be a stickler for calling them bison, but I’ve heard them called buffalo a lot around here,’ said Doyle, who is also a wildlife biologist. ‘I feel like it rolls off the tongue more easily, and it’s just fun to say.’

‘For Indian tribes, the restoration of buffalo to tribal lands signifies much more than simply conservation of the national mammal,’ said Ervin Carlson, president of the InterTribal Buffalo Council, at a House hearing last year. “Tribes enter buffalo restoration efforts to counteract the near extinction of buffalo that was analogous to the tragic history of American Indians in this country.’

While food security is most often cited as the reason for the recent interest in bison, tribes also hope that returning bison to the land will restore ecological balance. At Wolakota, for instance, bison have been eating the yucca plants that became plentiful after native grasses disappeared, tearing them up by the roots and allowing grasses to return. The grass regeneration increases carbon capture.”

Click here to see the tribes of the Intertribal Buffalo Council

The Wiyot Tribe Finally Receive Their Dead from California Museum

“The most vulnerable citizens of the Wiyot Tribe were asleep the morning of Feb. 26, 1860, when a band of White men slipped into their Northern California villages under darkness and slaughtered them…After nearly 70 years of separation from their tribe, the remains of at least 20 of those believed to have been killed have been returned home.”B.Melley, AP, ICT, Feb. 2, 2022

This Dec. 21, 2010 photo provided by Aldaron Laird shows Tulawat, the site of the Indian Island Massacre, where members of the Wiyot Tribe were killed in 1860. Aldaron Laird via AP

 

Excerpt:California museum returns massacre remains to Wiyot Tribe, by Brian Melley, AP, ICT

“Many of the children, women and elderly slain in what became known as the Indian Island Massacre had their eternal rest disturbed when their graves were later dug up and their skeletons and the artifacts buried with them were placed in a museum.

‘They’re going to be at peace and at rest with our other ancestors,’ Ted Hernandez, the Wiyot Tribe’s historic preservation officer, said after the repatriation was announced. ‘They’ll be able to reunite with their families.’

The return is part of an effort by some institutions to do a better job complying with federal law that requires giving tribes back items looted from sacred burial sites.

Grave robbing was yet another indignity suffered by Native Americans and their descendants long after they were driven from their lands or killed. Hobbyists, collectors and even prominent researchers took part in the desecration of burial sites. Skulls, bones and antiquities were sold, traded, studied and displayed in museums.

Cutcha Risling Baldy, a professor of Native American studies at Humboldt State University, said returning the sacred items provides healing to tribes…A team from University of California, Berkeley collected the remains and put them in storage with 136 artifacts buried with them — mainly beads and ornaments made from shells, an arrowhead from a broken bottle fragment, a sinker for a fishing net, bone tools and an elk tooth.

The gravesites were where the Wiyot buried some of their dead following a devastating series of mass slayings at a dozen of their villages over the course of a week in 1860.

The unprovoked killings occurred in the midst of the tribe’s World Renewal Ceremony, a 10-day peaceful celebration with food, dance and prayer to return balance to the Earth, Hernandez said.

After the ceremony, the tribe’s men left for the night, paddling from the island to the mainland to hunt and fish for food and gather firewood for the next day’s feast.

In the early morning, raiders arrived by canoe across the bay and stabbed, beat or hacked the victims with knives, clubs and hatchets. Several other attacks were carried out that night, and more killings occurred over the next five days, said Jerry Rohde, a Humboldt County historian…For the Wiyot Tribe, the repatriation last fall came two years after the island known now as Tulawat, was returned to the tribe by the city of Eureka. It’s now up to tribal elders to determine what to do with the remains, Hernandez said.”

Mendocino California Redwood Forest Returned to Tribes!

“Ownership of more than 500 acres of a forest in Mendocino County was returned to 10 sovereign tribes who will serve as guardians to ‘protect and heal’ the land.” I. G. Paz, The New York Times, Jan. 26, 2022

A portion of the 523 acres of redwood forest in Mendocino County, Calif. Credit…Max Forster:Save the Redwoods League, via Associated Press

 

Excerpt: Redwood Forest in California Is Returned to Native Tribes, By Isabella G. Paz, The New York Times

“Tucked away in Northern California’s Mendocino County, the 523 acres of rugged forest is studded with the ghostlike stumps of ancient redwoods harvested during a logging boom that did away with over 90 percent of the species on the West Coast. But about 200 acres are still dense with old-growth redwoods that were spared from logging.

The land was the hunting, fishing and ceremonial grounds of generations of Indigenous tribes like the Sinkyone, until they were largely driven off by European settlers. On Tuesday, a California nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving and preserving redwoods announced that it was reuniting the land and its original inhabitants…As part of the agreement, the land, known before the purchase as Andersonia West, will be called Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ (pronounced tsih-ih-LEY-duhn), which means “Fish Run Place” in the Sinkyone language…Since 2006, the Redwoods League had been in conversations with a California logging family who had owned the land for generations. Mr. Holder explained that after years of building a relationship with the family, the league was able to purchase the land in 2020 for $3.55 million. The money for the purchase was donated by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company as part of its program to mitigate environmental damage.”

Navajo Nation Approves Hardship Payments for Tribal Members in 2022!

Excerpt: ‘The Peoples’ money’: Hardship payments of $2,000 per adult, $600 for children OK’d, By Rima Krisst and Krista Allen, The Navajo Times, Jan 6, 2022

“Checks ranging from $600 to $2,000 will land in mailboxes of Diné citizens – soon. Surrounded by division directors inside the president’s office, President Jonathan Nez signed the Navajo Nation Council resolution (CD-62-21), which approves $557 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for Hardship Assistance to about 250,000 Diné citizens.

Navajo Pres Nez and VP Lizer approving $557 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for hardship assistance, Navajo Times | Krista Allen

T’áá Dinék’ehjígo, Nez said, ‘The Nation received over $2 billion from the U.S. Treasury. We’ve allocated $557 million for Hardship Assistance, for our people.’Nez added the payment checks would help families who are struggling, among other things.

‘Use this money wisely, please, my relatives,’ he said. ‘Buy things you need on our Nation. Yes, we have some of our people who are living off of the Nation and they cannot return home. Please, put some money away for later use. We are still amid a pandemic. Please prepare for possible infection.’

Delegates who played major roles in the passage of the resolution are, left to right, Nathaniel Brown, Eugenia Charles-Newton and Amber Kanazbah. Navajo Times

Nez said there will be some remaining funds of the $2.1 billion, and that will go toward other needs of the Nation such as broadband, water and wastewater projects, and powerlines…Dá’deest?’in Hótsaa Delegate Paul Begay applauded Nez for signing the resolution that the 24-member Council pushed for their constituents.

‘The Hardship Assistance belongs to the people,’ Begay said in an interview with the Times. ‘They (the Diné) wanted it. We’re in the middle of the winter. They need funds right now to make it through the winter season.’

Begay added that he knows many Diné families across Diné Bikéyah need food and water to survive the below zero temperatures. He is encouraging people to put some of their funds away for a rainy day…So, when are people receiving checks?

Jared Touchin, spokesman for the president’s office, said there will be a townhall tomorrow evening to provide more information about the Hardship Assistance, including the process, timeline, and questions will be answered.”

“Boozhoo! Ojibwe-Speaking Puppets Hit the Airwaves”

Michael Lyons, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, is a writer, illustrator and puppeteer who has taken the Ojibwe language to community radio and YouTube with his puppets, Nanaboozhoo, right, and Natasha. (Photo courtesy of Michael Lyons)

 

“Puppeteer Michael Lyons teaches language and culture mixed with comedy….They also take phone calls from ‘celebrities’ like Keanu Reeves, Anthony Fauci and Sylvester Stallone!” Dan Ninham, ICT, December 13, 2021

Excerpt: “Heidi Holton remembers the day Ojibwe puppeteer Michael Lyons called in to the radio station where she worked.  She’d been following his puppets, Nanaboozhoo and Natasha, on YouTube, and commenting about their use of the Ojibwe language and culture.

“He said, ‘How about ‘Boozhoo Nanaboozhoo’ on the radio?’” she recalls. She stopped a moment to think. “Hmm. Puppets on the radio? That might just work!”

And it has. A five-minute radio show, ‘The Boozhoo Nanaboozhoo Podcast,’ is now featured regularly on the morning show at KAXE/KBXE community radio in Bemidji, Minnesota, where Holton is news and public affairs director.  It’s one of a growing number of platforms for Lyons and his puppets to reach new audiences…They also take phone calls from ‘celebrities’ like Keanu Reeves, Anthony Fauci and Sylvester Stallone.”

Lyons, a citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, has written and illustrated a number of children’s books, comic strips and comic books, and a coloring book in the Ojibwe language.

“Writer, illustrator and puppeteer Michael Lyons, Ojibwe, wrote his first children’s book, “Little Cutie: A Teddy Bear’s Vision Question,” about a ragged teddy bear searching for its identity. (Illustration courtesy of Michael Lyons)

He also has a podcast on YouTube that airs daily at 8 a.m. central time that goes  beyond teaching the Ojibwe language, delving into a range of issues…‘I always wanted to be either a rock star or a cartoonist as a kid and a grown-up, and didn’t really think anything of puppets until this show,’ he said. ‘Once I started doing the voices for the characters, I reached way back in my experience in high school speech and theater programs at Laporte High School.’

Writer, illustrator and puppeteer Michael Lyons, Ojibwe, has written a number of children’s books and comics teaching the Ojibwe language. The 2013 book, “Dog and Ma’iingan,” teaches readers how to count in Ojibwe and introduces words for certain animals. (Illustration courtesy of Michael Lyons)

“Boozhoo Nanaboozhoo’ is clean, family-friendly comedy, but it is not a spin-off of ‘Sesame Street’ in any way,” Lyons said. “We don’t swear or talk about sex in a bad way during the hour-long, live-streaming show, and we will teach a few phrases, but along the way, Nanaboozhoo and Natasha discuss anything.”

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