Category Archives: Healing

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

Navajo Nation Begins Sending Hardship Checks to Elders

“The president’s office announced on Tuesday that the Navajo Nation controller began printing the first batch of American Rescue Plan Act Hardship Assistance checks in the amount of $2,000 for elders, ages 60 years and above, who previously received CARES Act Hardship Assistance.” R. Krisst, Navajo Times, Feb 18, 2022

Two Navajo elders wear face masks to protect them from COVID-19-photo-grandriver:getty images

Excerpt: Hardship for Elders: Processing of elders Hardship checks underway By Rima Krisst, Navajo Times, Feb 18, 2022

“The president’s office said that the goal is to have the ARPA Hardship Assistance checks in the mail by the end of February for previous CARES Act Hardship recipients, with the exception of new applicants and individuals that have outstanding issues such as changes to their mailing address. “The office will continue processing checks as quickly as possible and will work weekends, once again, to expedite the relief checks,” the president’s office said.

Navajo Elders. Photo- Althea John:Navajo Times

The controller’s office has hired temporary staff to help with the processing of the ARPA Hardship Assistance payments…In January, Nez signed the Navajo Nation Council resolution into law, which approved $557 million for the ARPA Hardship Assistance to provide payments to Navajo citizens to help mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. he funding provides $2,000 for adults 18 years and older on or before Jan. 4, 2022, and $600 for children who are enrolled in the Navajo Tribe.”

For Information: 928-871-6386 or https://www.novri.navajo-nsn.gov

 

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.”

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