Category Archives: History

During Covid-19, The Navajos Are Planting and Sharing

“As the pandemic has brought home the importance of the global movement for food sovereignty, members are planting and sharing.”  A. Nierenberg, The New York Times

Artie Yazzie grows produce for his community in the Arizona section of the Navajo Nation. Credit- J. Burcham- NYT

Excerpt;  For the Navajo Nation, a Fight for Better Food Gains New Urgency . Amelia Nierenberg, The New York Times

“When Summer Brown lived in Phoenix, she had no problem finding fresh produce. If the Sprouts supermarket near her home didn’t have what she was looking for, she would just drive somewhere else. This winter, Ms. Brown, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, moved back to her childhood home in Cornfields, Ariz., to start a small business as a leatherworker. Now, healthy food is harder to find for her two children, Paisley, 6, and Landon, 7. The entire Nation, which stretches 27,000 square miles across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, has fewer than 15 grocery stores.

The Teesto Community Garden, which Mr. Yazzie tends, has remained opened through the pandemic.Credit: John Burcham for The New York Times

The small gardens and cornfields rising across the Nation are attempts to correct legacies of historical wrongs. Once, the Diné were prosperous gardeners, hunters and stewards of the land. Then the United States government colonized the land and displaced the Diné in the mid-1800s, during what is now known as the Long Walk, to an internment camp at Fort Sumner, N.M. Livestock were killed off. Fields were trampled. And some orchards were lost forever…Many households do not have running water, at a time when hand washing is critical.

Many multigenerational families live together in compounds, which makes social distancing impossible. And for the Diné and many other Indigenous nations, the public health crises caused by food inequality are generations old… After seeing food shortages during the pandemic, many Diné have started gardens. Normally, they would work communally, but social distancing has required some innovations.

Mr. Earle keeps corn pollen in a pouch for his morning prayers.Credit: John Burcham for The New York Times

Many Diné also receive federal food benefits. ‘You’ve got to stretch those funds, and the cheapest out there is junk food,’ said Artie Yazzie, a community gardener, who grows produce for his neighbors.  ‘People come in here and pick whatever they want,” Mr. Yazzie said. ‘I just leave a sign.’ Some programs are working to get fresh produce to Diné children. The Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment program, a nonprofit health partnership, provides vouchers for families with young children that are good for buying only fruits, vegetables and traditional foods. The amount, depending on family size, can go up to $35 a week…Felix Earle, 43,  has been advising gardeners growing Indigenous seeds. In 2015, he found a handful of white corn kernels in a jar, 35 years after his grandmother hid them for safekeeping…This year, Mr. Earle, a fashion designer, planted his biggest crop ever. Across his property, stalks of corn are rising, almost 1,000 in all. He turned his discovery into a business, Red Earth Gardens, and gives kernels to interested members of the Nation. This year, for the first time, he ran out…It took a deadly virus to make people realize just how important this is, how important it is to grow your own food, he said.’ Some gardens at schools and senior centers have been closed since March.”

Notices From the Office of New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (Democratic Party)

Here are new rules for schools across the entire state

Click here to learn more about child care.

Click here to find nutritional assistance near you.

current public health order

following COVID-safe measures

For Personal Help – please visit  http://www.newmexico.gov/i-need-assistance/

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

“The Democrats bowed to the realities of the pandemic and canceled the major in-person speeches that were still planned for their convention this month.” By Reid J. Epstein and Katie Glueck, The New York Times

Credit: M. V. Agins/The New York Times

“I’ve wanted to set an example as to how we should respond individually to this crisis,” Mr. Biden said at a fund-raiser on Wednesday. “Science matters.” ~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

Tribe Buys Back Ancestral Land After 250 Years!

“The tribe purchased the 1,200 acre ranch near Big Sur as part of a $4.5m deal and will use it for educational and cultural purposes.”M. Koran, The Guardian

The Esselen Tribe of Monterey county now owns a small piece of their ancestral land along California’s north central coast.. Credit- Doug Steakley:AP

Excerpt: Northern California Esselen tribe regains ancestral land after 250 years,Mario Koran, The Guardian

“Two-hundred and fifty years after they were stripped of their ancestral homeland, the Esselen tribe of northern California is landless no more.

This week, the Esselen tribe finalized the purchase of a 1,200-acre ranch near Big Sur, along California’s north central coast, as part of a $4.5m acquisition that involved the state and an Oregon-based environmental group…Tribal leaders say they’ll use the land for educational and cultural purposes, building a sweat lodge and traditional village in view of Pico Blanco peak, the center of the tribe’s origin story.

The deal by the Esselen tribe will protect the Little Sur River. Photograph- Doug Steakley:AP

‘We’re the original stewards of the land. Now we’re returned,’ Tom Little Bear Nason, chairman of the Esselen tribe of Monterey county, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel… Since the 1950s the property, known as Rancho Aguila, had been owned by Axel Adler, a Swedish immigrant. After his death in 2004, his family put it up for sale for $15m.

After years-long negotiations, the Western Rivers Conservancy, a Portland-based environmental group, etched a deal to purchase the land and hand it over to the US Forest Service.

Working on behalf of the tribe, the conservancy secured a $4.5m grant from the California Natural Resources Agency to cover the land purchase and studies of the area.

Nason said the 214-member Esselen tribe will share it with other groups also native to the area, including the Ohlone, the Amah Mutsun and the Rumsen people – all of whom were devastated by the arrival of white settlers.”

‘This Is About Justice’: Biden Ties Economic Revival to Racial Equity

In the last of four proposals laying out his vision for economic recovery, Joseph R. Biden Jr. pledged to lift up minority-owned businesses and to award them more federal contracts”. – By T. Kaplan and K. Glueck , The NYT

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. released the fourth piece of his “Build Back Better” proposal in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday.Credit- M. Agins-NYT

 

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

Natives Deserve More Attention in the Area of Police Violence

“The issue of officer-involved shootings has entered mainstream discourse, but it has focused on the African American population, largely because of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. But Native Americans suffer from police violence at an equal or even higher rate.” O. Ajiilore, urban.org

14-year-old Jason Pero

Excerpt: Native Americans deserve more attention in the police violence conversation-By Olugbenga Ajilore — December 4, 2017 —

(NOTE: Although this article was written 3 years ago, police violence towards Natives has increased over the years-TF Staff)

“On Wednesday, November 8, in northern Wisconsin, 14-year-old Jason Pero was killed by officers from the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office responding to a call that someone on the streets had a knife. As with many officer-involved shootings, the incident sparked questions, including why the officers used lethal force for a boy with a knife…Pero was a member of the Bad River Chippewa tribe, and the shooting occurred on the Bad River reservation…We must pay attention to police violence against this neglected community and not just during Native American Heritage Month. We don’t know how many Native Americans are subject to police violence, mainly because there is little information available about police violence in general. We don’t even know how many people die at the hands of law enforcement.

Official data on police violence are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but these sources undercount fatal encounters among all racial and ethnic groups. This leaves the full scope of the problem’s size and prevalence unknown. Even with data collection issues, these sources show that Native Americans are killed at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group…

When taking the context of the police encounter into consideration, Native American fatalities tend to align with those of all victims, with the exception of substance use. Excessive alcohol consumption has a greater health impact on Native Americans than on any other racial group, which could be a factor in fatal police encounters…Wisconsin, where Jason Pero was killed, is a PL-280 state. The officers who responded to the call were not part of the tribal police department. The outcome might have been different had the situation been handled by a tribal authority.”

RELATED:  Excerpt: Minneapolis Natives condemn Black man’s death in custody, ‘racist ideologies’ By Eddie Chuculate, ICT

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“I have almost a blind faith in crisis in the American people getting it right”  ~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

Latest Presidential General Election Polls 2020:

“Joe Biden’s lead against Trump in the 2020 election is growing wider, polls show — With the 2020 election now less than five months away, polls show former Vice President Joe Biden pulling further ahead of [Trump].”  Kevin Breuniger, CNBC June ,2020

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Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 06/19/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states Federal and state services include monetary and food assistance, unemployment benefits, and more. 

Where to begin? After extensive research, the most comprehensive and user-friendly website for finding assistance from a multitude of programs is arguably Benefits.gov.

COVID-19 online resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

STAY STRONG — STAY SAFE 

Holding On to A Racing Tradition

“Indian Relay, a type of bareback horse racing practiced by Native American tribes in the plains states, blends heritage and danger. For one family, it’s a shared passion that means everything.” V. J. Blue, The New York Times

Richard Long Feather, left, with his sons Jace, in white shirt, and Jestin. Credit- Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Excerpt: Holding Tight to a Racing Tradition, Photographs and Text by Victor J. Blue, The New York Times

“Richard Long Feather is searching for his son Jace among the bareback riders as they storm toward the grandstand at the Crow Fair. Stepping away from the rail and onto the dirt of the track, Richard raises his arms above his head as a signal: In one motion, he is telling Jace where to aim and warning Jace’s horse to slow down. Before Jace even reaches his father, he leaps from the back of his horse. Hitting the ground bounding, Jace grabs a handful of mane of a second horse, held by his brother, Jestin, and swings himself onto its back. Jestin slaps the second mount on the rump, and it fires back onto the track. Richard hands off the first horse to a fourth teammate and braces for the next exchange. Dust swirls. The crowd cheers.

This is Indian Relay.

For the Long Feathers, races likes these are both a family undertaking and a deep-rooted passion, a form of competition practiced and sustained by Native American tribes in the plains states. In Indian Relay’s traditional form, one rider completes three circuits of a track, changing his mount after each loop.

Richard, who works as a maintenance supervisor at a local hospital, loading his horses into his trailer after an evening of training.

Each race features up to eight teams consisting of a rider, three steely handlers and three horses. The competitors ride bareback, using only reins and a whip to stay on. As the rider approaches the starting line for each successive lap, he leaps from a running horse onto a fresh one. It is dangerous, athletic and intensely competitive.

Richard Long Feather, the head of his family and his team, was born in 1963 on the Standing Rock reservation, which straddles the border of North and South Dakota and which is home to the Hunkpapa band of the Lakota to which he belongs. Raised by his grandparents, he spoke only Lakota until he was 5. The first horse he rode was yoked to his grandfather’s wagon as it delivered water and provisions to isolated families…As a teenager, he began entering so-called suicide races — unofficial cross-country competitions on improvised courses. After his uncles recruited him as a rider for their Indian Relay team, he built a reputation as a tough rider and dependable breaker of colts.

Richard’s thoroughbreds, failures on the racetrack, now carry his son in Indian Relay races.

As an adult, he and his wife, Virginia, settled their young family near Fort Yates, N.D., where Richard taught his children to ride. The Long Feathers entered their first Indian Relay in 2013… Training for relays is a constant said of the 6 a.m. agility workouts that fill his winter months…Conditioning for the horses starts early, as well. ‘This year we started and there was still three feet of snow on the ground,’ he said. ‘Make ’em jump through those big snow banks. It just builds ’em up.’ In the springtime Jace and Jestin move to the track to train the horses in pairs, working on their exchanges. These split-second handoffs are the key to Indian Relay success. The top relay teams all have quality horses, but every competitor knows a relay is won or lost in the exchanges: If the two transitions are not performed flawlessly, it will not make much difference how fast the horses are…It isn’t just the riders who have to be skilled athletes. The setup man who holds the next mount as the rider circles the track — on Richard’s team, this is Jestin’s job — has to be a great horseman, too. ‘t’s impossible to hold a horse still for longer than a minute,’ Real Bird said. ‘You’ve got to let a horse be a horse.’ And the catcher — Richard, on Team Long Feather — who must stop the speeding horse that arrives has to be fearless. ‘He’s going to get run over,”’Real Bird said, ‘and he’s got to be O.K. with that.’

Richard blessing, or “smudging,” his horses with sage before a race at the Crow Fair.

As post time nears, Richard fills a can with dried sage and lights it. While the boys wrap the legs of the three horses they will run — Cabaret, Mr. Coke Man and Runaway Cal — Richard makes his way from stall to stall, wafting the gray smoke over the horses’ backs, half-singing prayers in Lakota for speed and safety in the race.

Ken Real Bird, a Crow horseman, calls the races at the fair. He has seen the sport grow from a bush-league pastime to a high-stakes competition, with purses worth tens of thousands of dollars. No one knows for sure when Indian Relay began in its modern iteration. The Shoshone Bannock Tribe in Idaho claims to be the originator of the sport, but Real Bird notes that the first Crow Fair, in 1904, had horse racing.

The first heat goes well for the Long Feathers. The exchanges are smooth, and Jace runs hard for second place but is caught at the wire and finishes third. It is good enough to secure a spot in the Sunday’s championship race, but Jace knows it won’t be easy. Teams are getting better every year. ‘Two years ago, you could be good and win anywhere,’ he said. ‘Now, you’ve got to be good just to keep up.’

Richard Long Feather feeding his horses.

The Crow Fair races offer unsatisfying results for the Long Feather team: Jace finishes in fifth place, though the family still heads home with a check.

Richard Long Feather’s horses grazing after competition.

As the sun rises the next day, Richard pulls into his driveway and unloads the horses. Restless after hours in the trailer, they sprint off over the prairie. In minutes, they are out of sight.”

The Miccosukee Indians Still Wrestle Alligators!

“At the edge of the Florida Everglades, the Miccosukee Tribe has carved out a culturally rich life that centers on the natural environment. Each year they celebrate with a day-long festival that exhibits the best of what they have created in what some might label an inhospitable swamp. And part of that natural environment is gators, big chomping toothy-grinned gators.” S. Hale Schulman, ICT

Excerpt: Gator wrestling? Miccosukee American Indian Day showcases airboats and yes, alligators, by Sandra Hale Schulman

“In the expansive grounds in front of the Miccosukee Resort and Gaming on a steamy 93 degree September 28th there were airboat rides, craft exhibits, exotic swamp foods of gator tail and frog legs, and the main attraction, judging by the crowds, of an alligator show. According to members of the tribe, If it wasn’t for the Native Florida villages and also the help of other eco-friendly gator farms, the American Alligator would have been extinct 30 years ago.

In a large tent, families packed the bleachers around a fenced-in sandpit to watch the spectacle they put on hourly from 11 am to 5 pm.

Miccosukee American Indian

‘I’ve been doing this for ten years,’ says gator show host Jessie before a show, whose calloused bare feet and scarred arms show the hazards of the job. ‘I started as a volunteer at the Native Village down the road and pretty soon I was General Manager. We keep the gators there, about 20 of them, in a pond. I started training with the baby gators, then the bigger teenage gators. You have to work your way up. After about 7 months I felt ready to do a show with the full-grown ones. The first time I was terrified but I wasn’t narrating. Four months later it was time to take the show over.’

‘Gators are misunderstood and need to be respected…When I narrate I have to really slow down and focus. I talk about the fear factor and how if you get attacked it’s never the gators fault, always the person’s fault. You shouldn’t be in their environment and if you are you better know what to do.’

Jessie shows the result of one of his faulty encounters, a large swath of heavily scarred skin on his right arm that went directly into the mouth of a 12-foot gator ironically named Lunch.

‘I wasn’t paying attention and he grabbed me straight on,’ he says grinning at the memory. ‘I was in the water with him and he was flipping me around like a rag doll. He rolled me a few times and as I pulled my arm out he peeled the skin clean off. In the ambulance I was in shock, they needed to do a skin graft from my leg. A few weeks later I was right back to it…’ They now have a booming tourism business with fishing licenses, National Parks and airboat rides that take visitors deep into the sawgrass swamp to see the flocks of birds and gator nesting grounds.”

“Dennis Banks, American Indian Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 80”

“Dennis J. Banks, the militant Chippewa who founded the American Indian Movement in 1968 and led often-violent insurrections to protest the treatment of Native Americans and the nation’s history of injustices against its indigenous peoples, died on Sunday night at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He was 80.” R. McFadden, The New York Times

Mr. Banks in 2010. He was the 2016 vice-presidential nominee of the California Peace and Freedom Party, which identified itself as socialist and feminist. Credit Chris Polydoroff:Pioneer Press

Excerpt: Dennis Banks, American Indian Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 80 -By Robert McFadden, The New York Times

“Mr. Banks and his Oglala Sioux compatriot Russell Means were by the mid-1970s perhaps the nation’s best-known Native Americans since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who led the attack that crushed the cavalry forces of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory in 1876.

The American Indian Movement leaders Dennis Banks, seated at right, and Russell Means at a news conference in July 1973. CreditUnited Press International

Mr. Banks, whose early life of poverty, alcoholism and alienation mirrored the fates of countless ancestors, led protests that caused mass disorder, shootouts, deaths and grievous injuries. He was jailed for burglary and convicted of riot and assault, and he became a fugitive for nine years. He found sanctuary in California and New York but finally gave up and was imprisoned for 14 months.

He once led a six-day takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, and mounted an armed 71-day occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Wounded Knee was the scene of the last major conflict of the American Indian Wars, in which 350 Lakota men, women and children were massacred by United States troops in 1890.

While his protests won some government concessions and drew national attention and wide sympathy for the deplorable social and economic conditions of American Indians, Mr. Banks achieved few real improvements in the daily lives of millions of Native Americans, who live on reservations and in major cities and lag behind most fellow citizens in jobs, housing and education…His severest detractors, including law-enforcement officials, said he let followers risk injury and arrest while he jumped bail to avoid a long prison sentence and did not surrender for nearly a decade.

Mr. Banks and Mr. Means first won national attention for declaring a “Day of Mourning” for Native Americans on Thanksgiving Day in 1970. Their band seized the ship Mayflower II, a replica of the original in Plymouth, Mass., and a televised confrontation between real Indians and costumed “Pilgrims” made the American Indian Movement leaders overnight heroes…Mr. Banks was the 2016 vice presidential nominee of the California Peace and Freedom Party, which identified itself as socialist and feminist. The party’s presidential candidate was Gloria La Riva. As a single-state ticket, they won 66,000 votes.

In recent years, Mr. Banks lived with some of his children in Kentucky and Minnesota. He was an honorary trustee of the Leech Lake Tribal College, a two-year public institution in Cass Lake, Minn. Mr. Means, who also appeared in movies and wrote a memoir, died on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2012 at age 72.

‘Maybe we opened up some eyes, opened some doors,’ Mr. Banks told The Los Angeles Times. ‘And it was at least an educational process here. Fifteen years ago, there was no newspaper here, no radio station. Now there’s more community control over education.’

In 1990, both men joined a ceremony at the Pine Ridge Reservation commemorating the centenary of the Wounded Knee massacre.”

Category: History