Category Archives: Culture

Fighting for Justice for the Two Spirit Indigenous Community in Pine Ridge

“When Monique Mousseau was in the fourth grade she got expelled from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic school on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. Her classmates didn’t like the beaded moccasins her grandmother made for her and the two braids she sported, which were held together by hand-beaded hair ties.” S. R. Clahchischiligi, The Guardian, April 14, 2021

Monique ‘Muffie’ Mousseau and her wife Felipa De Leon in their kitchen. Photo- M. Wosinska The Guardian

Excerpt: By Sunnie R Clahchischiligi, The Guardian, April 14, 2021

‘I fought back,’ she says. Little did she know that would be the start of a long journey of fighting for justice for the Two Spirit Indigenous community, a term used to identify the LGBTQ community throughout Indian Country.

Mousseau, 52, and her wife, Felipa De Leon, 51, also from the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, have dedicated their lives to fighting for equal rights for Two Spirit Indigenous peoples locally and nationally…Candi Brings Plenty is another vocal advocate of the Two-Spirit community. She spent February pushing for South Dakota’s hate crime protection bill to include Native American Two Spirit people, with the Native American nation recognizing them as a culturally and spiritually distinct gender. The bill was passed with those protections made.

Two friends rest their heads against one another on a cold October evening at a basketball course. Photo- M. Wosinska

Although Two Spirit people once existed harmoniously on the Pine Ridge reservation, colonizers divided them, she says. ‘Our sacred circles were broke, and the infrastructure in our families,’says Brings Plenty.

Nicole Big Crow, left, stands with her girlfriend, Ashley Colhoff, on a field on the reservation. Photo- M. Wosinska

’The Two-Spirit people have always held their roles. Two-Spirit people, just like our Indigenous land, belong to our ancestors,’ she says.

The entrance to a part of the cemetery of Wounded Knee. Photo- M. Wosinska

Most of what the community knows about Two Spirit people is from oral stories. Mosseau feels fortunate to have grown upin a traditional home that valued ceremony, including ceremonies honoring transsexual people who often prepared the food for ceremonies and dressed in women’s attire.”

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NM Legalizes Marijuana Which May Start Tribal Owned Enterprises

“New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation Monday legalizing recreational marijuana use within months and kicking off sales next year, making it the seventh state since November to put an end to pot prohibition.” M. Lee, AP, ICT April 12, 2021


Excerpt: New Mexico governor legalizes recreational pot, By Morgan Lee, Associated Press, ICT

“The governor [Lujan Grisham], a Democrat, has supported marijuana reform as a way to create jobs and shore up state revenue. 

On Monday, she also touched on concerns about the harm inflicted on racial and ethnic minorities by drug criminalization and tough policing, noting that the new law could free about 100 from prison and expunge criminal records for thousands of residents…Agency Superintendent Linda Trujillo said people age 21 and over will be allowed start growing marijuana at home and possess up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of cannabis outside their homes starting on June 29 [2021].  Recreational cannabis sales start next year by April 1 [2022] at state-licensed dispensaries.

The approved legislation allows the state to forge agreements with tribal governments that could open the marijuana industry to tribal enterprises.

Lujan Grisham highlighted that licensed cannabis farmers can begin scaling up cultivation several months ahead of opening day in efforts to keep pace with demands when sales begin…The new law mandates child-proof packaging and defers to employers on whether workers can indulge in marijuana.

At the same time, home marijuana growers will be allowed to grow up to six plants per person, or 12 per household. The scent of marijuana will no longer be grounds for police searches…Medical marijuana dispensaries already are staking out territory in small towns near the border with Texas — a major potential market for marijuana tourism. It remains illegal to transport marijuana across state lines…Rules also are due by the start of 2022 on product safety, minimum qualifications for a marijuana business license and standards for vetting and training ‘cannabis servers’ — who must hold a state permit and be 21 or older.”

Map of Marijuana Legality By State “Marijuana laws are changing at a rapid pace across all 50 states, making things a bit confusing at times. In order to keep up with the ever-changing laws, DISA has provided this interactive map for information on legalization, medical use, recreational use, and anything in between.” April 2021


NOTICE From Editor Deb Burns: To All Writers: 

“Hello! I am a book editor at Storey Publishing, overseeing horse and farming books, and I’m a big fan of Talking Feather.

I am looking for a Native author to write a book about Native horse-handling techniques and traditions, tips and insights. It’d be especially great if that author were a woman, but that’s not essential. I was very impressed with Monica Begay’s program on Training People to Understand Their Horses, but I have not yet been able to reach her.  If you are that potential author, or you know someone else who might be, please email me at

Deb Burns, Acquiring Editor-

From Talking Feather staff:  Interested parties can also Visit the beautiful website Deb Burns: Animal Minds HERE 


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Category: Culture, Law | Tags:

2021: The Young Native Bull Riders Are Back!

“Professional bull riders Keyshawn Whitehorse and Cody Jesus find strong support from community.” T. Iannello, Cronkite News, ICT April 2, 2021

Champion Bull rider Keyshawn Whitehorse. Photo-

Champion Bull rider Cody Jesus. Photo-

Excerpt: ‘Mom, I want to ride some bulls’ ByTim Iannello,Cronkite News, ICT April 2, 2021

“It might have been the optics, but whenever professional bull riders Keyshawn Whitehorse and Cody Jesus entered the ring, the crowd seemed louder, more engaged. In fact, Gila River Arena appeared to shake at the sound of their names as they competed in the Professional Bull Riding competition.

Cody Jesus holds on to the opening gate as his ride on Mr. Clean starts in round Marlee Smith:Cronkite News)

Whitehorse and Jesus are both Navajo which has deep roots in Arizona. Whitehorse, 23, grew up in McCracken Spring, Utah, and is currently ranked No. 4 in the world, and Jesus, 22, is from Window Rock, Arizona. While neither rider finished in the Top 10 in the Valley event held earlier in March – Jesus was 17th – it was an ideal place for both riders to continue putting their mark on the sport…‘I think it was kind of destined to be in that area, to have that finish in Arizona and have such a fan base on my side,’ Whitehorse said…Traditionally, the love of bull riding is passed down from a family member, but that’s not always the case. Both Whitehorse and Jesus have atypical stories on how they began.

Glendale, Arizona; March 12, 2021. Keyshawn Whitehorse waves at fans and holds up his first event win belt buckle of 2021. (Photo by Marlee Smith:Cronkite News)

‘The way I got started is when I was little I was sleeping and my dad was watching it on TV one night and I just woke up and sat by him and I was watching it for a while, didn’t say much. And then after a while I told him, ‘I want to do that,’ Whitehorse said.

The next day, Whitehorse’s dad went out and bought him spurs, boots, chaps and a cowboy hat…“Then I heard some guys talking about some bull riding and I always liked it growing up, so I woke up one day and said, ‘Mom I want to ride some bulls.’ She said, ‘I think that is the craziest thing ever.’

Aside from atypical starts into bull riding, Whitehorse and Jesus have something else in common. They are both Navajo, which spans across three states in the Four Corners area…Jesus, who missed all of 2020 with groin injuries, is tied for 69th in the world and making strides to move up the rankings. The energy and support he receives from the Navajo Nation is incalculable.

‘Man, it means the world to me, it ain’t too far. And everybody kind of knows everybody around my reservation,’ Jesus said. ‘So it means a lot. They’re just like family.”

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Category: Culture, Sports | Tags:

Sacred Prayer Stone Returned to Kaw Nation!

“In an effort to right one of the wrongs of Lawrence’s past, city leaders have officially committed to returning a sacred prayer rock to the Kaw Nation and to issue a formal apology for its removal from the tribe’s homeland decades ago.” R. Valverde,  Lawrence Journal-World, March 16, 2021

photo by- Kim Callahan:Journal-World

The Shunganunga boulder, pictured Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, is a 23-ton red quartzite rock that sits in Robinson Park in downtown Lawrence across from City Hall. In 1929, a group of Lawrence officials arranged to take the boulder from the Shunganunga Creek near Tecumseh, where the creek joins with the Kansas River — a site that was sacred to the Kanza tribe. – R. Valverde,Lawrence Journal-World,

Excerpt: Lawrence City Commission approves resolution committing to unconditional return of sacred prayer rock to Kaw Nation, By Rochelle Valverde, Lawrence Journal-World, March 16, 2021

“As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to adopt a joint resolution with Douglas County to offer a formal apology to the people of the Kaw Nation for appropriating and defacing the sacred rock, In ́zhúje ́waxóbe, and agreeing to its return to the Kaw Nation ‘without conditions.’

Commissioners expressed strong support for In ́zhúje ́waxóbe’s return to the tribe, and some noted that many in the community have also expressed support, with some elementary school children raising money to help pay for the rock’s relocation…As it has been for more than 90 years, the 23-ton red quartzite boulder is currently in Robinson Park across from City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. In 1929, a group of Lawrence officials and community members arranged to take the boulder from its longtime resting place along the Shunganunga Creek, according to newspaper archives reviewed by the Journal-World. The boulder was then fitted with a plaque and made into a monument honoring white settlers who founded the city and placed in the park, which is owned by the county.

The resolution approved Tuesday is in response to a formal request for the rock’s return that the Kaw Nation issued at the end of November. A letter from Kaw Nation Chairwoman Lynn Williams informed the commission that at the Kaw Nation General Council meeting in October, Kaw citizens overwhelmingly voted in favor of bringing In ́zhúje ́waxóbe back to the tribe, as the Journal-World previously reported… Kaw Nation Vice Chairman James Pepper Henry told the commission that the nation was grateful for the commission’s confirmation of the tribe’s claim and agreement for the rock’s unconditional return.  He said the tribe appreciated the outpouring of support from the community and was looking forward to continuing to work with the city on the prayer rock’s return to the tribe.”


Kno-Shr, Kansa Chief, 1853

To Learn More About The Kaw Nation visit Wikipedia

[Wado L.J. 🙌🏽  ~TF]



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Natives “Thank” President Joe Biden for Covid-19 Funding

“Ahéhee’, President Joe Biden! The United States has made a huge rent payment to indigenous peoples of the United States in the form of the American Rescue Plan recently signed into law.” J. G. Watts, The Navajo Times, Mar 25, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House on March 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Excerpt: From “Letters to the Times”Rent is Paid; thank you Joe! By John G. Watts, The Navajo Times, Mar 25, 2021

“My wife likes to say, “Rent is due!” when discussing the federal government’s responsibility to Native communities, and that rent has been adding up since 1492…The [2021] American Rescue Plan covers:

Tribal governments, $20 billion;

• Native health care, $6 billion;

• Tribal housing, $1.2 billion;

• Native education, $1.1 billion;

• Bureau of Indian Affairs, $900 million;

• Tribal infrastructure, $600 million;

• Native languages, $20 million; 

• Combat domestic violence, $19 million.

That’s not all. There’s much more in the bill for all American families, including Native Americans…Ahéhee’ to my representatives in Congress who supported the American Rescue Plan: Democratic Rep.Tom O’Halleran and Democratic senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelley.” ~John G. Watts, Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.~


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Navajo Nation Reopens 2 casinos–with Safety Measures in Place

Two casinos on the Navajo Nation will reopen this week as the tribe eases its restrictions on businesses amid a downturn in coronavirus cases and high rates of vaccination. All employees must test negative for COVID-19 before they return to work and be retested at least every two weeks.” F. Fonseca, ICT, March 17, 2021

Navajo Fire Rock Casino in Gallup, NM


Excerpt: By Felicia Fonseca, ICT, March 17, 2021

“The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise has four casinos but will open only two Friday and limit patrons to those who live on the vast reservation that stretches into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

Robert Peterson from Thoreau said Friday he’s happy Fire Rock Casino has reopened. Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero

The enterprise will keep Fire Rock east of Gallup, New Mexico, and Northern Edge in Farmington, New Mexico, open for two weeks before determining whether to reopen two other casinos — one in northwestern New Mexico and the other east of Flagstaff.

‘What it’s intended to do is demonstrate that all our safety protocols, which we know are very, very comprehensive, are in place, the program is going to work and keep everyone safe, and then we can open it to a broader audience later,’ Brian Parrish, the enterprise’s interim chief executive, said Wednesday.

Northern Edge Navajo Casino, Framingham NM (Times photo- Cindy Yurth)

The casinos will operate at 25 percent capacity with no food or drink services and only within the time allowed by the tribe’s nightly curfew.

Service lights on the slot machines will let customers request that the machines be sanitized.

Smoking will be allowed only in designated outdoor areas. Social distancing will be enforced throughout the properties.

The casinos also are setting aside a couple of hours on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for elderly patrons.

Customers must wear masks, get their temperatures checked and provide contact information if they needed to be reached later.

Handheld devices will be used to swipe driver’s licenses to ensure customers live on the reservation, Parrish said…The tribe is planning a virtual day of prayer Friday to remember those who have died and been infected by the virus.”



The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act

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Center for Disease and Control (CDC): COVID Data Tracker:

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NCAI’s COVID-19 Response Fund (Donate) With the generous support of our donors, NCAI is providing financial relief support to tribal nations affected by COVID-19 through NCAI’s COVID-19 Response Fund for Indian Country.


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