Category Archives: Culture

The Seminole Tribe Sending Supplies to the Bahamas

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida has airlifted some 35,000 cases of bottled water over the past five days. Now relief efforts are moving to the sea in light of rapidly changing weather conditions.” S.H. Schulman, ICT

Photo credit-Seminole Tribe-ICT

Excerpt:First by air, now by sea; Seminole Tribe boosts relief effort as new storm forms By Sandra H. Schulman ICT

“Tribal spokesman Gary Bitner says for the past five days water was trucked using Seminole Gaming vehicles and then flown to the Bahamas by Sheltair Aviation. Now it’s being loaded onto shipping containers and shipped by boat.

The urgent delivery took a turn Friday when the government of the Bahamas issued a tropical storm warning for the region. The Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence are expecting tropical storm conditions, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The new storm first referred to as “potential tropical cyclone nine” which later became Tropical Storm Humberto, may produce total rain accumulations of two to four inches and maximum sustained winds near 30 mph through Sunday with as much as seven inches in the northwest and the central Bahamas. This is frightening news for the islands that experienced such massive devastation and flooding earlier this month…The tribal council will be meeting next week after the storm has passed to re-evaluate relief efforts and the best ways to provide them.

The tribe’s aviation department had been making three roundtrip flights a day since last week with two helicopters and a single-engine Pilatus PC-12/45 airplane. Deliveries were made in cooperation with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, which operates the Grand Bahama International Airport at Freeport.

‘The Seminole Tribe has a long and important history with the people of the Bahamas, and we are committed to helping them in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian,’ said Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged by Hurricane Dorian, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

As for now the Seminole Tribe of Florida say their eyes are now on the coming tropical storm.”


Category: Culture, Social | Tags:

Tlingit Master Carver Creates a Totem to Shame Trump and Dunleavy !

“Tommy Joseph, a Tlingit master carver, carved a totem pole meant to shame Trump and Dunleavy…‘We’re calling it a ridicule pole, a shame pole, for our governor of Alaska, Dunleavy, and the president of the United States, Trump’ says Tommy Joseph.” B. Hohenstatt, Juneau Empire

Shaming Pole.

Description of Totem Pole: “Designed and created by Tlingit master carver Tommy Joseph and his wife Kristina Cranston, the pole features an image of Trump at the base and one of Dunleavy at the top. A baby’s pacifier is held in Trump’s right hand and a bone spur protrudes from his left foot. A separate wooden pacifier in the president’s mouth can be removed and replaced by viewers.

In the middle, two Twitter birds and an area above them made with black chalkboard paint provide viewers with a place to write Trump’s recent tweets or to write their own comments. On the reverse side is a red necktie that runs the entire length of the pole.” ICT

Excerpt: Gut fish, not Alaska’: Totem pole ridicules Trump and Dunleavy- Ben Hohenstatt, Juneau Empire

‘I’m compelled, motivated and feel the need to say what I have to say,’ Joseph said in an interview.

While the pole has contemporary subject matter in the sitting president and governor of Alaska, it’s made in the spirit of traditional shame or ridicule poles. Shame poles were totem poles meant to tell the story of a misdeed or unpaid debt.

Famously, a pole shaming William Seward, who negotiated the Alaska Purchase, was carved in the 1880s after Seward did not reciprocate gifts and honors received while visiting an Alaska Native village…Joseph compared ridicule poles to the practice of posting a bounced check near a cash register.

Tlingit shaming totem pole featuring images of Trump and Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy.

Traditionally, Joseph said once the wrong depicted by a totem pole was righted, the pole would be destroyed, and the story would not be told again.‘Will that ever happen?’ Joseph asked. ‘I don’t know.’

The pole was carved in a roughly 48-hour flurry of activity Joseph said, and he was assisted by his wife and apprentice, Kristina Cranston…He said while he carved the shame pole, he reflected on the Dunleavy and Trump’s policies that he finds objectionable.

trump sucks on a pacifier, hair rendered canary-yellow. (KCAW:Sparling)

Those include environmental deregulation and Trump’s history of racially charged remarks.

‘I’m brown myself, and our brown people all over the world are being treated worse and less than,’ Joseph said…Joseph’s recently carved shame pole includes interactive elements, such as a chalkboard-like section that allows for messages to be written. Joseph also carved a pacifier that can be placed in the mouth of a likeness of Trump…He said the back of the pole will feature a long, red tie —a garment often associated with the president —that will be decorated with things Trump has said.’It’s not the big tie, it’s the big lie,’ Joseph said.

It’s not the big tie-it’s the big lie- Tommy Joseph

Additionally, Joseph, who is a full-time artist, said he has been impacted directly by Dunleavy’s budget vetoes that cut more than $400 million from a Legislature-approved budget.

One binkie wasn’t enough. (KCAW:Sparling)

The vetoes include slashing more than $130 million in funding for University of Alaska and eliminating funding for the Alaska State Council on the Arts. ‘I am directly losing jobs to these cuts,’ Joseph said.”


Category: Culture

The Amazon is Burning; Indigenous People Are in Serious Trouble; The President is to Blame!

“Scientists say the fires in the Amazon are human-made, and many claim fires were ultimately spawned by Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s anti-Indigenous agenda.”  B. Oaster, ICT

Amazon Women-ICT

Excerpt: As Amazon rainforest burns, Indigenous women call on world for support, By Brian Oaster, ICT

“Indigenous Amazonian chieftains warned the world about Bolsonaro. The right-wing authoritarian known as the ‘Trump of the Tropics’ took Brazil’s presidential office in July. And now the Amazon is on fire.

Scientists count 72,843 fires in the Amazon this year, the highest number in recorded history. Roughly 10,000 of these have erupted since Thursday last week. And no, it’s not climate change at work.

In the midst of the fires, Indigenous women leaders are calling out to the world in need of support. Many claim Bolsonaro’s ideologies are spawning race-based retaliations, and the Amazon is suffering.As Amazon rainforest burns, Indigenous women call on world for support

Scientists at Brazil’s national space research institute say they find no meteorological abnormality that could encourage the forest fires. During the month of June, however, the Brazilian Amazon suffered an 88 percent increase in deforestation, and the current number of wildfires is 83 percent higher than the same time last year.

‘There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average,’  says national space researcher Alberto Setzer.  ‘The dry season creates favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.’

No accident, say Indigenous communities. Their reports point to cattle ranchers and profit-motivated companies — emboldened by Bolsonaro’s anti-indigenous hostility — who have been starting the fires with petrol bombs.

The Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest, provides us all with one-fifth of the oxygen we breathe, as well as one-fifth of our fresh water. It’s one of Earth’s biggest carbon sinks. It’s home to 6,000 animal species and 40,000 plant species. Although they’re responsible for two-thirds of cancer-combatting medicines, 99 percent of these rainforest plant species have still never been studied by western scientists for their healing power.

The Amazon is cared for by over a million indigenous people and at least 100 ‘uncontacted’ tribes, more than anywhere else in the world.

Last week, thousands of indigenous women in leadership mobilized to march in protest in Brasília.

‘We came to denounce the president’s hateful discourse, which has increased violence and destruction in our territories, which directly impacts us, women,’ said Sônia Guajajara, former vice-presidential candidate and current leader of Indigenous rights group the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation) or APIB.

‘For the first time in history, the indigenous women’s march convenes more than 100 different peoples in Brasilia with more than 2,000 women present, ‘ says the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasi’s Célia Xacriabá.’This is a movement that is not only symbolically important but also historically and politically significant. ‘

‘When they try to take away our rights, it’s not enough to only defend our territories. We also need to occupy spaces beyond our villages, such as institutional spaces and political representativity.’

Xacriabá is asking people outside of the Amazon to support their voices in opposition to Bolsonero’s campaign of terror and destruction. ‘We call on the international community to support us, to amplify our voices and our struggle against today’s legislative genocide, where our own government is authorizing the slaughter and ethnocide of indigenous peoples. This is also an opportunity to join our voices to denounce this government’s ecocide, where the killing of mother nature is our collective concern.”

Category: Culture

Female Cops on The Navajo Rez…Crime, Curses and Amulets

“On a vast reservation, female Navajo officers patrol with bulletproof vests and protective amulets.” J M. Glionna, LA Times

Officer Lojann Dennison stands in a field with a view of Shiprock, N.M., in the background. She patrols one of seven districts on a Navajo reservation.


Excerpt:  By John M. Glionna, L A Times

“Officer Lojann Dennison was just ending her shift when she took the 10 p.m. assault call. She was tired as she headed out into the profound darkness of the reservation.

Her Chevy Tahoe police cruiser bumped along dirt roads with ruts deep enough to loosen a tooth filling. Territorial dogs barked and gave chase. After 40 jarring miles,Dennison arrived at a clutch of mobile homes where family members confronted a young man who had just beaten his intoxicated uncle to death.

Officer Lojann Dennison, 47, is a 20-year veteran with the Navajo Nation Police Department, whose force is 20% female.

She switched off the ignition and stepped out into the moonless night, alone. Dennison, a 20-year veteran with the Navajo Nation Police Department, was troubled by an all-too-familiar thought: Timely backup on the sprawling Indian nation was a luxury her understaffed department could not afford.

She patrols one of seven districts on a Navajo reservation that is home to 180,000 people. Among 500 sovereign tribal nations in the U.S., the Navajo are among the few with their own police force. The vast majority of the department is Native American.

That means Navajo patrolling Navajo, with aspects of the job far outside typical rural policing: She struggles with deeply rooted customs that can call for an officer to choose between allegiance to clan ties and upholding the law. She wears a bulletproof vest but also wears a protective amulet and conducts ritualistic cedar burnings in the way of her ancestors.

Officer Dennison, responding to a call in Shiprock, N.M., has duties that fall outside typical rural policing. Photo- Randi L. Beach-LA Times

On this summer night, the situation appeared to be headed toward chaos. Dennison had handcuffed the nephew and put him in the back seat of her vehicle, where he explained the killing: He’d grown tired of being picked on whenever his uncle got drunk.

Meanwhile, two women ordered Dennison to remove the body because Navajo culture instructs a sacred mix of fear and respect for the dead. She told the women the body had to stay in place until the coroner arrived. Then one woman pushed her, calling for street justice. She banged on the windows of the locked cruiser, urging for help to pull the terrified nephew from the car.

Dennison radioed for backup, performing a mental inventory on her weaponry: the Glock 22 . 40-caliber handgun at her side and the AR-15 assault rifle locked down in her cruiser. ‘It’s a scary feeling. We have all these tools on our belts, but I’ve never been involved in an officer-involved shooting,’ she would recall later. ‘But that night, alone, facing off against those women, I told myself, ‘I’m going to have to use my weapon here.’

Traditionally, Navajo elders have encouraged women to avoid weapons. ” she says. And I’ll use it when I have to. Randi L. Beach-LA Times

She didn’t. At 5-foot-4 and with short moussed hair, the 47-year-old Dennison is hardly an imposing figure, but through force of personality and smarts earned in decades on the force, she kept the situation from spinning out of control. Her backup didn’t arrive for an hour.

At 27,000 square miles, the Navajo reservation spreads into Arizona, Utah and New Mexico — an area about the size of West Virginia. Tasked with patrolling 1,000 square miles of territory, officers can travel two hours to reach a crime scene. Some 40% of the reservation is a cellphone dead zone, and 60% lacks the two-way radio coverage officers use to keep in contact with their home base.

Since 2011, three Navajo officers have been killed and several injured — all overwhelmed in isolated areas, all alone. The last, Officer Houston James Largo, was killed in 2017 while responding to a domestic violence call; he’d called for backup but was outside two-way radio contact.

While the FBI pursues major crimes, such as murder and rape, Navajo officers act as first responders who conduct field interviews and protect evidence. The department counts just 200 officers, a skeleton staffing rate well below the national average and half of what commanders say is needed to adequately patrol the reservation.

Female officers such as Dennison are a key part of the department’s approach to one of the toughest policing jobs in America. Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco has actively encouraged the hiring of female officers. They now comprise 20% of the force, compared with other U.S. police departments, which on average are 13% female, according to the National Center for Women and Policing…Although female officers have made strides within the department, Dennison says true equality still eludes them. Many tribal elders say women have no place in police work.

When Officer Lojann Dennison is on duty, she wears an amulet to protect her from dark spiritual forces. Photo- Randi L. Beach-LA Times

‘They sent you?’ they’ll say. ‘Why not a male officer?’ ‘Yep, they sent me,”’she’ll respond. ‘I can do anything he can do.’ 

Dennison had just joined the department in 1997 when she encountered an old woman who was intoxicated and combative. She was a passenger in a car Dennison stopped and began throwing her shoes and purse at the officer.

She also threw something else from a small box: dust and ground-up bones.

Dennison soon began suffering from nausea and migraine headaches that forced her to take time off from work. After a trip to the hospital brought no relief, her father took her to a medicine man.

Dennison had been cursed, he said, touched by a world of ghosts and skin walkers. Until then, she’d never believed in such a thing.

Growing up, her grandparents had whispered about the realm of evil spirits, but her mother, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, discouraged her daughter from ever talking about them.

The medicine man gave Dennison an arrowhead talisman and a bottle of mountain herbs to shield her from evil spirits and the perils of contact with the deceased, a regular occurrence in her line of work.

Eventually, the pain subsided. But the episode provided Dennison with new insights into her culture’s ancient beliefs and the risks of tribal policing. Spiritual teachings warn to simply stay clear of the dead, but Dennison often has no choice…Among Navajo, the so-called dark side is a phenomenon that is rarely discussed, especially to outsiders.  Dennison figures that as many of her fellow officers observe the spirit world as those who don’t, but she rarely, if ever, asks.

With the spread of Christianity and other religions, only one-third of reservation residents remain believers in the dark side, Chief Francisco estimates.

Still, because of the danger of their work, police officers of all ranks wear amulets, in the shapes of sacred animals, and are blessed by a medicine man…In Navajo courtrooms, testifying witnesses can request the suspect’s family be removed for fear they might cast a curse…Some nights, she responds to calls from an elderly store owner in an isolated settlement known as Little Water. The woman reports seeing skin walkers lurking outside her business. And Dennison always goes to check.

So far, she’s never spotted any ghosts . But one night, she passed a figure on the road wearing a large mask that covered most of its upper body. She quickly turned around and went back to investigate. By the time she got there, the vision had vanished.

But Dennison knows what she saw: “I know it exists, the evil. I know it’s out there.”

Category: Culture

Martin Scorsese and Chief Standing Bear to Discuss Native Film about the Osage Murders.

“The main theme of the meeting was how could the Osage Nation help with the filming of the upcoming adaptation of David Grann’s bestselling novel about the Osage Reign of Terror, Killers of the Flower Moon. The reign of terror is arguably the most sinister time in Osage history in the past 100 years.” S. Duty-Osage News

Martin Scorsese meets with Chief Standing Bear about Killers of the Flower Moon.

Excerpt:  Martin Scorsese and meets Chief Standing Bear…By Shannon S. Duty

“Famed Hollywood director Martin Scorsese and his team met with Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear today for two-and-a-half hours in the Executive Conference room on the Osage Nation campus…“We want to make sure your people have everything they need, in terms of Osage artisans, Osage language … ‘those people are still here in the community and would love to help,’ Standing Bear said. ‘We are very thankful you are here and that you are willing to tell this story.’

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Scorsese confirmed that they will be working closely with the Osage Nation on the aspects of culture, history and the language. He said working on a film for him is a journey and that one of his favorite parts of that journey is learning the history and the culture.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese & Robert De Niro Eyeing ‘Killers Of The Flower Moon’

Standing Bear said in the 1920s, Osages were still wearing their traditional clothing and speaking the language…Quick to laugh, easy-going and full of stories, Scorsese and Standing Bear discussed the aspects of the film, but also spoke about their lives, families and interests. Scorsese also noted that his longtime friend and colleague, Robert De Niro would be playing the murderer Bill Hale.

Pre-production has already begun on the film and will pick up speed in November. The film will be shot in the spring and summer of 2020. Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star.

Standing Bear asked Scorsese what drew him to the project, he said his manager Rick Yorn gave him a copy of Grann’s book and after reading it he knew it was a project he wanted to be a part of.”

Category: Culture

The Hawaiians, Mauna Kea and the Thirty Meter Telescope

“Mauna Kea, also known as Mauna a Wakea, is a 13,800 foot high mountain on Hawai‘i Island, and considered the most sacred site to Kanaka ‘Ōiwi, the Native Hawaiian people…Hawaiians have fought against Western astronomy on the summit since the industry got a foothold there in the late 1960s.  So far Hawaiians have managed to stop all efforts to begin construction through legal challenges and civil disobedience.” A. K. Kelly, Indian Country Today

Mauna Kea Sunrise- USGS

Excerpt:  Mauna Kea is only latest thing they want to take… By  Anne Keala Kelly,

“Named after Wākea, Father Sky, it is home to a number of religious deities, and is a traditional burial ground for the most revered ali‘i (royalty) and kahuna (priests). The spiritual and cultural significance of the mauna predates the European-American colonization of the earth by millennia…

Fifty years and 13 telescopes later, the newest addition, if the state and the TMT Corporation have their way, will be the Thirty Meter Telescope.  The first protest on Mauna Kea disrupted the internationally live-streamed groundbreaking ceremony in October 2014. That was followed by an around the clock vigil that began in March of 2015. Then there were 31 arrests in April, and a few months later in June, a day-long blockade that forced a convoy of workers and equipment to turn around resulted in 11 arrests.

Uncle Billy Freitas, pictured here with Kealoha Pisciotta, was the first kupuna arrested. (Photo by A. K.Kelly)

While news media typically portray resistance to the telescope as Indigenous culture versus Western science, Hawaiians who oppose the project are quick to point out historically relevant events that have led up to this moment. Among those are the U.S. militarily backed overthrow of Queen Lili‘uokalani’s government, the 1898 U.S. takeover, and what Hawaiians refer to as the 1959 ‘fake statehood.’

The telescope construction is experienced by Hawaiians as part of an ongoing lineage of more than a century of oppression, racism, and forced Americanization that has taken Hawaiian land, exploited and commercialized Hawaiian culture, and normalized the practice of desecrating Hawaiian sacred sites.

One of hundreds of vehicles lining the Saddle Road, Hwy 200 .(Photo by Anne Keala Kelly

‘This mountain represents the last thing they want to take that we will not give to them,’ said longtime activist Walter Ritte… After images of elders being arrested were broadcast, protests and signs of solidarity with the people standing up to protect Mauna Kea began to spread. Indeed, it was painful for many Hawaiians to see beloved cultural practitioners and others being loaded into police vans, with their wrists zip-tied.

The Thirty Meter Telescope is the colonizer trying to exterminate our identity and our sense of self as Hawaiians. But this mountain is so sacred to us we must protect it. In the Kumulipo (Hawaiian creation story) Mauna Kea is where our akua (gods) dwell.”


Category: Culture