Category Archives: Culture

“Levi Oakes, last WWII Mohawk Code Talker, dead at 94”

“Canadian Second World War veteran Levi Oakes, who was the last survivor of the men identified as Mohawk Code Talkers, has died. He was 94 and died at home with his family at his side, his daughter Dora said.” The Globe

Levi Oakes, from Akwesasne, receives a standing ovation after being recognized by the Speaker of the House of Commons Tuesday, December 4, 2018 in Ottawa. A. Wyld, Canadian Press

Excerpt: Levi Oakes, last WWII Mohawk Code Talker, dead at 94, The Globe

“Though born in Canada, Mr. Oakes had enlisted in the U.S. military. He became a Code Talker, one of the indigenous servicemen who used their native languages to stymie the enemy’s attempts to eavesdrop on their units’ communications.

Louis Levi Oakes registered for the U.S. Army at the age of 18.

He was one of 17 Mohawks recognized under the Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008, an American law that granted Congressional Medals to First Nations and individuals who participated in those programs.

‘He bravely served in the Second World War … Thank you for your loving grace and service to our people,’ Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a Tweet. ‘These were immense contribution by indigenous people to the war effort,’ Liberal MP Marc Miller, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, said.

“We’ve lost a hero. We’ve lost someone who selflessly served.’

Mr. Bellegard and Mr. Miller were among the people who in recent years paid tribute to Mr. Oakes. Two years ago he received the Congressional Silver Medal. Last December, he was introduced in the House of Commons, met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and was honoured at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations…

Louis Levi Oakes was born on Jan. 23, 1925, on the Canadian side of Akwesasne, the Mohawk reserve that straddles Quebec, Ontario and New York State. He was the second of the five children of Angus Oakes and Mary Porke.

He left school early and, since many Akwesasne Mohawks move freely across the U.S.-Canada border, he went to work in a steel plant in Buffalo, N.Y.

In an interview with the U.S. Congress’ Veterans History Project, Mr. Oakes recalled that after the war started, he never considered serving with the Canadian army. He said that was because one of his brothers had been handcuffed and roughed up by Canadian police for failing to report for military induction… Instead, shortly after Mr. Oakes turned 19, in January 1944, he enlisted in the U.S. military. ‘I didn’t mind it, I was young,’ he said…’They found out I was a Mohawk,’ he recalled. ‘The top commander gave me a piece of paper I had to translate to Mohawk.’

That steered him towards the signal branch and a Code Talker position so that, before he boarded a troop transport in San Francisco, he took the secrecy oath that he would heed for seven decades…Following Japan’s surrender in August 1945, Mr. Oakes spent four winter months there with the occupation forces. Eventually, his unit was disbanded, he was sent back to the Philippines before shipping back to the U.S. Back home, he married Annabelle Mitchelle and they raised seven boys and three daughters.

Like many other Mohawk men, he became an ironworker, commuting to construction sites across the continent to erect the metal skeletons of bridges and skyscrapers. He said he worked on bridges in Buffalo and New York City.”

Another Native Mascot Bites The Dust!

“Maine has banned the use of Native American mascots in its public schools and colleges, making it the first state in the nation to fully outlaw the use of such images by educational institutions and athletic programs.” C. Hauser, The New York Times

A mural depicting the mascot of Skowhegan Area High School in Maine. In March, the mascot was retired. Credit Michael G. Seamans:Portland Press Herald,

Excerpt: Maine Just Banned Native American Mascots. It’s a Movement That’s Inching Forward. By Christine Hauser, The New York Times

“Gov. Janet T. Mills, a Democrat, signed “An Act to Ban Native American Mascots in All Public Schools” on Thursday. The legislation, which was passed unanimously, prohibits Maine’s public educational institutions from adopting a name, symbol or image related to a Native American tribe, person, custom or tradition for use as a mascot, logo or team name.

Maulian Dana, the tribal ambassador for the Penobscot Nation in Maine, said this week that the law, which will take effect this fall, ‘sends a message of truth and honor and respect.’

‘It is part of a big picture of historical oppression of Indigenous people,’ she said. “When you see people as less than people, you treat them accordingly. That actually points to the very core of it, is that they make us invisible and turn us into stereotypes.’

State Representative Benjamin Collings, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said in a statement: ‘Our tribal communities laid the foundation of our state. They are people, not mascots.’

The National Congress of American Indians, a public education and advocacy group, said it applauded Maine for its new law and hoped other states would follow ‘on the right side of history.’

Although not as broad, similar steps have been taken by other states and educational institutions:

In 2012, Oregon’s Board of Education decided that all public schools must eliminate Native American team names and mascots or lose their funding.

In Massachusetts, an act prohibiting the use of Native American mascots by public schools has been submitted to the Joint Committee on Education for a hearing.

California’s Racial Mascots Act has prohibited public schools from using “redskins” as a school or athletic team name, mascot or nickname since Jan. 1, 2017.

Florida State University, whose mascot is the Seminoles, was one of 18 institutions that the N.C.A.A. in 2005 prohibited from using “mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin.” But the university was allowed to keep its mascot with approval from the 3,200-member Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Another of those institutions was the University of North Dakota, which dropped its Fighting Sioux nickname in 2012 in favor of the Fighting Hawks.

The professional teams that use Native American mascots include the Washington Redskins, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Cleveland Indians.

Their names and logos have long faced especially strong opposition given their ubiquity in the teams’ home regions. Some of the measures to restrict the symbols have not taken the form of outright abandonment. Beginning this year, the Cleveland Indians’ uniforms no longer include the logo of Chief Wahoo: a grinning, red-faced caricature. But Major League Baseball guidelines say that the logo will continue to appear on some merchandise at certain outlets.”


Category: Culture

Japan to Recognize Indigenous Ainu… Finally!

“The [Japanese] government approved a bill Friday to recognize the country’s ethnic Ainu minority as an ‘indigenous’ people for the first time, after decades of discrimination against the group. The Ainu people have long suffered the effects of a policy of forced assimilation. While discrimination has receded gradually, income and education gaps with the rest of Japan persist.” The Japan Times

Japan prepares law to finally recognize and protect its indigenous Ainu people – The Washington Post

Excerpt:  Japan to recognize indigenous Ainu people for first time

“It is important to protect the honor and dignity of the Ainu people and to hand those down to the next generation to realize a vibrant society with diverse values,’ top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Japan to recognize indigenous Ainu people for first time.

‘Today we made a Cabinet decision on a bill to proceed with policies to preserve the Ainu people’s pride.’ The bill is the first to recognize the Ainu as ‘indigenous people’ and calls for the government to make “forward-looking policies,” including measures to support communities and boost local economies and tourism.

Map showing location of Ainu populations

Ainu have lived for centuries on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, as well as nearby areas including Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.

They struggled to pass down their language and culture after the Japanese government implemented an assimilation policy beginning in the Meiji Era (1868-1912), as Japan was modernizing.

Ainu are indigenous people of Hokkaido, with their own culture, music, arts, food and language.

The Ainu culture that should be appreciated. Lake Akan

Photo- Ainu woman with facial tattoo and child. allabout-japan

The Ainu traditionally observed an animist faith, with men wearing full beards and women adorning themselves with facial tattoos before marriage. But like many indigenous people around the world, most of Japan’s Ainu have lost touch with their traditional lifestyle after decades of forced assimilation.

Navajo Singer Radmilla Cody visited The Ainu in 2012.

The Ainu population is estimated to be at least 12,300, according to a 2017 survey, but the real figure is unknown as many have integrated into mainstream society and some have hidden their cultural roots.

Ainu people wearing traditional clothes at the Ainu Museum, City of Shiraoi, Hokkaido, Japan. Smithsonian

The new bill states its purpose is to ‘realize a society where the Ainu people can live with their ethnic pride, which will be respected’ by others. The government will subsidize projects aimed at promoting Ainu culture and organized by local municipalities. The law would also simplify procedures for Ainu to get permission from authorities to collect timber from national forests for their rituals, and to catch salmon in rivers in a traditional way.

The first edition of Ainu Food Festival will take place in Sapporo Pirika Kotan (Hokkaido, Japan) Credit

In addition to the new law, the central government also plans to open a national Ainu museum and park in the Hokkaido town of Shiraoi in April 2020…’It is a major step forward on policies towards the Ainu people,’ said Masashi Nagaura, chief of the Ainu policy bureau of the Hokkaido Prefectural Government that has spearheaded policies for the ethnic minority.”

Category: Culture

In Zombie Film ‘Blood Quantum’ The Natives Are Immune!

“The dead are coming back to life outside the isolated Mi’gMaq reserve of Red Crow, except for its Indigenous inhabitants who are strangely immune to the zombie plague.”

Michael Greyeyes, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Forrest Goodluck

Excerpt:   First Look at Cannes Zombie Title ‘Blood Quantum’ By Brad Miska

“YZ Films will handle worldwide sales (except Canada) on zombie thriller ‘Blood Quantum’, which they also executive produced, at the upcoming Cannes Marché, reports Deadline…A tribal sheriff must protect his son’s pregnant girlfriend, apocalyptic refugees, and other members of the reserve from the hordes of walking white corpses.

Directed and written by Mi’gmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby, the movie stars ‘Fear The Walking Dead’ and ‘True Detective’ actor Michael Greyeyes, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (On the Farm) and Forrest Goodluck (The Revenant), and was produced by John Christou for Prospector Films and Rob Vroom. Madrona Drive will also executive produce.”

Watch for Updates here


Category: Culture

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Loves NM: films New Jumanji Movie Here!

“Actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has been filming a movie in New Mexico, and the Land of Enchantment has clearly entranced the star. ‘You feel the spirit down here. It’s a very spiritual place.’ The former WWE wrestler has been in the Four Corners area to film the newest Jumanji movie.” E.Davoran, Farmington Daily Time

President Jonathan Nez
First Lady, Phefelia Nez
Vice President Lizer
Second Lady Lizer

Excerpt:  Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson loves New Mexico and the feeling is mutual, Erin Davoran, Farmington Daily Times

‘The mana is real down here. And these drives have just been spectacular,’ Johnson said in an Instagram video on April 25 while driving his truck in New Mexico.’ I just want to thank everybody in the Four Corners area for being so loving and so supportive and so welcoming,’ he said in the video.

Before New Mexico, shooting for the third Jumanji film took place in the jungles of Hawaii and the snowcapped mountains of Alberta, Canada, Johnson said in the post. 

The currently untitled Jumanji sequel is slated to premiere Dec. 13.

It follows the success of first sequel, 2017’s ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,’ which grossed more than $62 million worldwide, according to IMDb, and was well-received from both critics and audiences alike.”

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Cheech and Chong help The Puyallup Tribe Open Cannabis Store

“The Puyallup Tribe is hosting the grand slam of 4/20 celebrations by opening it’s second legal cannabis store in the Tacoma area, Commencement Bay Cannabis while hosting the iconic marijuana users, Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin and Tommy Chong.” V. Schilling, ICT

Cheech and Chong

“Cheech and Chong, known for such movies as ‘Up in Smoke,’ ‘Nice Dreams’ and more, have long been known for their movies involving the comedy surrounding heavy marijuana use. In addition to their use in movies in the 70s and 80s, they now advocate for the use of marijuana in medicinal ways as well as recreational use.

Cheech and Chong get everyone rolling at Commencement Bay Cannabis | Tacoma Weekly

Commencement Bay Cannabis is the second cannabis retail location that is part of Puyallup Tribal Cannabis Enterprises, an organization that is utilizing the growing popularity of the cannabis industry to create jobs and careers, education and training to tribal members and work to contribute to the tribal economies in the region.

‘Having Cheech and Chong here takes what would have been a great event to a new level,’ said Puyallup Tribal Council Chairman Bill Sterud in an emailed statement to Indian Country Today. ‘This store is an important part of the Tribe’s economic development, and it’s wonderful to see our long-term plans coming together.’

Cheech and Chong at new store. | Weekly Weedly

The store has an impressive inventory as well as other offerings to benefit the public in terms of recreational and the medicinal use of marijuana. The store sells marijuana flowers, buds, oils, topicals, and edibles. It also has a self-serve kiosk as well as medically-certified consultants in selecting cannabis in terms of its medicinal benefits.”

Category: Business, Culture