Category Archives: Healing

Jack Ahasteen: Famous Navajo Cartoonist…With a Shy Side

“Cartoonist Jack Ahasteen of the Navajo Times is not a fan of notoriety. In fact, during the most contentious days of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute, he often didn’t sign his own cartoons.” R. Koeler, The Navajo Times, May 6, 2021

Jack Ahasteen has been drawing cartoons for the Navajo Times for many years. Navajo Times files

Excerpt: Drawing humor: A conversation with cartoonist Jack Ahasteen, By Rhiannon Koehler, Navajo Times, May 6, 2021

“Despite Ahasteen’s best efforts, a measure of fame has found him. Sometimes strangers will even approach his grown daughters in Phoenix, inquiring about Ahasteen. He says, ‘They say, ‘You know, whenever we introduce ourselves to somebody, they recognize our last name. And they want to know if this is your dad that’s doing (all these) cartoons(s).’

Cartoon by Jack Ahasteen 2021

Ahasteen’s work stands out for its unflinching representations of life in the Four Corners region and, specifically, the reality of the injustice of Diné forced removal.

It’s an issue that hits close to home. Ahasteen’s own family faced forced removal from their ancestral home at the hands of U.S. officials.

‘Right where that land was divided up, it was where I was born,’ he said. ‘I wasn’t born in the hospital.’

Facing relocation was traumatic, Ahasteen says, especially for elders who didn’t speak English and therefore couldn’t understand what United States officials were telling them.

‘They didn’t understand what the laws are, or what was going on,’ Ahasteen remembers, noting that he was getting most of the information about relocation and range wars from the Navajo Times that he read each week while studying at Arizona State University.

‘So really, I used to always tell my parents in a humorous way what was going on and they would just laugh about it,’ he said. “And that’s where I got the ideas, how to draw cartoons and stuff like that…I had to draw these cartoons in a way they could understand it.’

Soon, Ahasteen’s work became known to the Navajo Times…The cartoons that were created as a result gave voice to the trauma of forced removal. As Ahasteen remarked in a 2019 Navajo Times front-page article written by Rima Krisst, “There’s no word for relocation in Navajo. It was like a death sentence to them.”

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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.”

COVID-19 Vaccine and Financial Aid Sources

Indian Health Services (IHS) : COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution List

https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/

IHS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/vaccine/

Apply for NCAI (National Congress of American Indians) Relief Funding https://www.ncai.org/Covid-19/Get-Involved/apply-for-ncai-funding

CDC (Center for Disease and Control): COVID Data Tracker https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations

President Joe Biden Signs Disaster Relief for Navajos

“Navajo Nation health officials on Wednesday reported 70 new COVID-19 cases and six more deaths.The latest numbers raised the totals to 28,544 cases and 1,038 known deaths since the pandemic began…The move will provide the tribe more federal resources to address the pandemicAP-ICT Feb 3, 2021

President Biden signing executive orders. 2021-Credit- Jim Lo Scalzojpeg

Excerpt: Joe Biden signs Navajo disaster declaration as cases rise —AP-ICT Feb 3, 2021

On Tuesday, tribal officials said they received word that President Joe Biden had signed a long-awaited major disaster declaration for the Navajo Nation.

It will provide more federal resources and prompts the release of federal funds for the reimbursement of emergency funds expended to address the COVID-19 pandemic on the Navajo Nation which covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The tribe has tribe extended its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Navajo Department of Health has identified 56 communities with uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus, down from 75 communities in recent weeks.”

For More Information Contact:

Navajo Department of Health

Indian Health Services  (The Federal Health Program for [All] American Indians and Alaska Natives)

Financial Aid for Native Students

 

 

JUST FOR FUN: WATCH GIANT PANDAS SLIDE IN THE SNOW!

#NatZooZen: Giant Pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian in the Snow Feb 1, 2021

Chickasaw Nation President Jefferson Keel Endorses Joe Biden!

‘Vice President Biden is a proven leader with exceptional grace and diplomacy’Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw Nation, ICT

Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw Nation, is the former president of the National Congress of American Indians. (File photo)

Excerpt: Electing Joe Biden stops Trump’s termination policies, By Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw Nation, ICT

“Indian Country is at a crossroads as deep divisions take shape within our country. Native people have borne the brunt of racism for hundreds of years and have seen Presidents attempt to eliminate tribal rights and our communities.

Additionally, the pandemic is impacting Natives at alarmingly high rates, highlighting disparities that have long existed in healthcare and other services.

I witnessed huge strides to foster tribal self-determination during the eight years of the Obama-Biden Administration, elevating tribal voices to unprecedented levels and prioritizing Native issues to heights we had never experienced (or even dreamed of) before… But the sad truth now is that many of the achievements and progress we made during the Obama-Biden Administration have been erased in the last four years… Tribes have been alienated and ignored…[Joe Biden] has shown through his decades of public service a respect and commitment to tribal sovereignty. He is a spiritual man who truly understands and respects the service of Native veterans, and will never disparage them in any way.”

5 key takeaways from Joe Biden’s town hall with ABC News, By Meg Cunningham and Quinn Scanlan, October 16, 2020 NYT   

Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden and moderator George Stephanopoulos participate in an ABC News town hall event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Biden’s persistent message of concern for others, which he follows up with action, is a stark contrast to the actions of the current president.

“I’m less concerned about me than the people, the guys with the cameras, the people working in the, you know, the Secret Service guys you drive up with, all those people.”~Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden

“With less than three weeks until Nov. 3,…Already, more than 18 million voters have cast their ballots, and while that’s an unprecedented turnout this far out from Election Day, many more Americans have yet to officially make their voices heard.”

Tribal Community Sub-Grants

“The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is committed to American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) exercising their right to vote in all tribal, local, state, and federal elections through nonpartisan activities and education. To meet this commitment, we rely on our tribal nations, partner organizations, and tribal citizens to become actively engaged in the campaign. Community Mini Grants – NCAI is offering Community Mini Grants for projects in support of its Native Vote campaign for the 2020 election cycle. Please note: NCAI will consider funding projects/events in whole or part up to a maximum of $2,000 per tribal organization. For More information Visit:  Native Vote 2020 Community Grants Application

*A state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19  By Nathaniel Rakich and Julia Wolfe   NOTE:  “This page will be updated on a regular basis with the latest developments.” October 15, 2020

STAY HEALTHY During Flu Season!

The Navajo Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises Navajo citizens to get a flu vaccine this fall to protect yourself, your family, and your community and help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The flu vaccine can prevent influenza (flu) and is not a COVID-19 vaccine. Flu is a contagious disease that spreads around the country every year, usually between October …See More

Also Visit: Navajo Department of Health for COVID-19 Updates

Navajo Nation Extends Lockdown for Labor Day

“With the Labor Day weekend approaching, we have to remain focused and be diligent to avoid another surge” Navajo President Jonathan Nez

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez speaks at a virtual town hall in May. (Screenshot from Facebook)

Excerpt: Navajo Nation Extends Partial Lockdowns

“Navajo Nation officials are extending partial weekend lockdowns and daily curfews through September to help control the spread of the coronavirus on the tribe’s reservation. The lockdowns on the vast reservation in the Four Corners region start at 9 p.m. Saturday and run until 5 a.m. Monday.

They were shortened in August from previous versions that began on Fridays… tribal President Jonathan Nez said the public should avoid traveling to nearby towns and cities on weekends. Travel increases the risk of contracting the virus and bringing it home, potentially exposing family members…All businesses, including stores, gas stations, restaurants, drive-thru food establishments and hay vendors, are required to shut down during the lockdowns and curfew hours.”

2020 Election Live Updates: Biden Visits Kenosha and Meets With Jacob Blake’s Family

Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, arrived in Milwaukee on Thursday, where they met with the parents of Jacob Blake, who was shot and paralyzed by a Kenosha police officer. Credit: Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

“Mr. Biden met privately with several of Mr. Blake’s closest relatives for an hour as soon as his plane landed in Milwaukee. He then convened a community meeting at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, which is still reeling after the shooting of Mr. Blake and subsequent protests that saw sporadic outbreaks of violence and looting.

“Hate only hides,” Mr. Biden said, as he described the ways, in his view, Mr. Trump has emboldened bigots. But he predicted that the country had reached an “inflection point.”

“Get off Twitter,” Mr. Biden scolded Trump in a speech on Wednesday, urging him to engage with congressional leaders to help support schools and pass an economic aid package.”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19: Indian Country today

Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

COVID-19: Native advisories and event updates

Tatanka Means Uses Humor to Ease Covid-19 Pain

“Actor and comedian Tatanka Means reflects on healing with laughter in a Native way amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.” ICT

Actor and comedian Tatanka Means

Excerpt:Healing through humor with Tatanka Means, ICT

“Tatanka Means is arguably one of the best-known Native actors and comedians in Indian Country, who in early 2020, had a jam-packed schedule filled with comedy gigs, acting jobs and speaking engagements.  When COVID-19 hit, Means had all of his plane flights, and gigs canceled. But he pressed on. Aside from acting he’s also a stand-up comedian and a motivational speaker and he’s still going strong through this pandemic. Means described how he has coped.The answer is healing through humor.”

Tatanka Means:

“It was really by surprise. I heard the news around the world what was happening but I’m on the road every other week and I was just kind of concentrating on booking my shows, things I had coming up with the film industry and graduation speeches of course, cause you know, May’s always really busy April and May with graduations and all of a sudden it just stopped. All my flights were canceled and we kind of went into quarantine… Communities are being hit hard but you know through comedy, through history, with Indian people, we always laugh when we’re having hard times. That’s why I say the humor brings us back up when we’re at funerals. You know, we’re laughing hard, sometimes telling stories those good old times, you know what I mean? And it’s just finding the humor right now in what’s happening in everyday life and how it’s changed… I don’t know what they think of some of us that are laughing at funerals hard, but, you know, it’s healing because we let those feelings out…That’s what I love about traveling Indian country and going to all different communities…It’s not really set up as a joke yet but it’s something that amuses me that I find very entertaining because you know, right when masks came out, masks are mandatory… N-95s, what did we do? We started beading our masks. We started quilling our masks. You have seen people with the fanciest masks. That’s what Indians do. That’s what we do. We can’t have a regular key chain. We bead the key chain. You know what I mean? We had beaded masks, full-on beaded masks, all the best bead makers out there were getting orders. I don’t even know if these things were protective or not but they sure did look good…This is the time for people at home to hone your skills, to get better, to write and do things like that. That’s certainly what I’ve been working on and just kind of watching the world.”

“Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., join hands as they watch fireworks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Jill Biden is seen on the left.” (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 

From Indian Country Today (ICT):

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

COVID-19: Native advisories and event updates