Category Archives: Native Rights

A Native Tribe Wants to Build a Medical Center…Non-Natives Are Opposed

“A classic not-in-my backyard fight has erupted in the Pacific Northwest over a recovery and medical center for [Natives] in an area hit hard by addiction and overdose deaths.”D. Stone and A. MauchThe Washington Post

Tribe Chairman Ron Allen, standing at the site of the proposed opioid treatment center in Sequim. Credit- Ricky Carioti The Washington Post

Excerpt:A Native American tribe plans to build an opioid treatment center, but neighbors have vowed to block it —ByDebbie C. Stone and  Ally Mauch– The Washington Post

“One morning last year, Brent Simcosky stepped out of a pickup truck in the middle of a sprawling field off Highway 101, stood in grass that brushed his knees and imagined an oasis from the scourge of opioids.

The epidemic had struck particularly hard here in Clallam County, where generations of families from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe live along the waterways of the Salish Sea…Jamestown tribe leaders invested in schools, farming and aquaculture, spreading shells along the tidelands so that oysters could grow. Now, Simcosky had multimillion-dollar tribal and state commitments to finance a state-of-the art outpatient opioid treatment and healing center that would combine native practices with counseling, medical care and medications known to block the euphoric effects of opioids…In Washington, with 29 federally recognized tribes, Native Americans have died of opioid overdoses at a rate nearly three times higher than that of nonnatives. For heroin alone, it was four times higher, federal data shows. The tribe planned to offer treatment to residents — native and nonnative — across two counties…In May 2019, the tribe bought the land. The purchase initially drew little attention in Sequim, population 7,000, a town of retirees, artisan shops and an annual lavender festival that brings flocks of tourists every summer.

Clinical supervisor Erik Ostergaard has a counseling session with patient Lila Williams, 29, of the Swinomish Tribe…Williams has been sober for two years. Ricky Cariotihe Washington Post

But a group of local residents rallied to block the project, arguing that tiny Sequim was no place for a regional drug treatment center. When tribe leaders called a public meeting to present their plan, more than 1,000 people spilled into a steamy room at the civic center and onto hundreds of folding chairs set up outside.

Scores came from a newly formed group: Save Our Sequim, a name that became a rallying cry. Jodi Wilke, one of the founders of SOS, said the issue has never been about need, the importance of helping to root out addiction in the community. The problem, she said, is location.

SOS members worry a treatment facility would draw too many outsiders struggling with addiction into a small community without adequate law enforcement and social services. Tourism could falter. Housing prices could drop. Schools could quickly become overwhelmed, SOS members have argued.

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe intends to build a 17,000-square-foot outpatient clinic for medical and addiction treatment on this land in Sequim, Wash.

The site itself, Wilke said, is too close to a neighborhood and senior housing…Jamestown tribe leaders have been careful to sidestep conversations about race even though supporters of the center point out that nearly all of their opponents appear to be nonnative.

Instead, tribe leaders have stressed that many communities have woefully inadequate resources for addiction treatment and that helping those with substance abuse disorder will ultimately strengthen Sequim and the surrounding region.

“We want to be sure that they understand,’ Allen, the tribe chairman, said of the center’s opponents. ‘We were basically born here before you guys ever showed up.’

The tribe’s public health officer pointed out that Clallam County had experienced a series of opioid overdoses and that, nationally, an average of 130 people die of opioid overdoses each day.”

 

Presidential Leader Joseph R. Biden and his advisers see 2020 largely playing out as a referendum on Trump. Credit- Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

“We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. Please stay safe. Please take care of each other.” ~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 06/25/20   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.

Basic information.Indian Health ServiceNational Congress of American IndiansNational Indian Health Board

Be Strong-Be Smart-Be Safe!

Minneapolis Natives Protest Black Man’s Death in Custody!

“The death of a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis has stoked anger and frustration among many Native people in the city.” E. Chuculate, ICT

From left, AIM members Robert Pilot, Frank A. Paro, Joe Rodriguez and Lisa Bellanger attend a protest Thursday in Minneapolis. Photo by John A. Anderson

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

“Leaders say relations with law enforcement have remained strained in the more than 50 years since the American Indian Movement was founded here in response to alleged police brutality.

A portrait of George Floyd is seen as part of a memorial for him Wednesday near the site of his arrest. AP Photo:Jim Mone

The Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group, a collaborative of 30 Native organizations operating in the Twin Cities, released a scathing public letter Wednesday condemning George Floyd’s death, along with the ‘ongoing and systemic racist ideologies that continue to run strongly’ through the Minneapolis Police Department.

The letter cites the department’s “long history of violence against Indigenous people and people of color,” including the 2011 shooting of an Alaska Native man at a Native American housing complex.

AIM members attend a demonstration Thursday in Minneapolis Photo by John A. Anderson

American Indian Movement leaders also expressed outrage over Floyd’s death at a news conference in an area of south Minneapolis known for its Native-owned businesses, housing and community centers. AIM planned to set up a patrol of Native businesses Thursday night after fires damaged or destroyed 30 buildings in the city the night before, and rioting encroached on the corridor. 

Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the state National Guard and urged widespread changes, saying it is time to rebuild: ‘Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect.’

Photographs from the George Floyd protest in South Minneapolis

Floyd, 46, died Monday while being arrested by Officer Derek Chauvin, who had Floyd pinned and restrained face-down on the street with a knee wedged against his neck.

A video filmed by a bystander captured Floyd’s pleas of ‘Please, man, I can’t breathe’ and sparked a national outcry and protests in Minneapolis that have resulted in three days of rioting and looting.

Demonstrations also spread to other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Denver and Memphis…At the AIM news conference, co-director Frank Paro, Grand Portage Chippewa, noted his movement was founded in 1968 in response to police brutality in Minneapolis.

Joe Rodriguez, left, and Frank Paro Photo by John A. Anderson

‘They used to beat us and take us down to the river and leave us down there,’ he said. ‘If we were lucky, they took us to jail and we got medical attention. In the 2000s, they aren’t beating us no more. They are killing us. That has to stop.’

Speakers also denounced the rioting and looting.

‘First of all, as a mother, grandmother and auntie, daughter and a sister, I couldn’t even watch the whole video, it made me so sick,’ said AIM co-director Lisa Bellanger, Leech Lake.

‘We support our community and other nations and know when it’s time to take action, but we can’t condone the violence, rioting and looting. This is where we shop, where our children play,’ Bellanger said at the news conference, which was live-streamed on Facebook via Native Roots Radio.”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 5/29/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states

If you are interested in Indian Country Today’scontinued coverage of COVID-19, please feel free to access our continually updated Coronavirus syllabus.

(See related: Indian Country’s COVID-19 syllabus)

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.

Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

 

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, at a veterans memorial in Wilmington, Del.  May, 25, 2020. Credit- Erin Schaff: The New York Times

“What gives me hope is when I see somebody do just the little things they didn’t have to do, to go out of their way,” ~Joe Biden~

Indigenous Shoppers Were Racially Profiled in Store by Winnipeg Police

“Desiree McIvor wants to see changes in how retail employees interact with Indigenous people.” H. Caruk, CBC News

Excerpt: Winnipeg couple told they ‘look like’ thieves, asked to leave Winnipeg craft store

Desiree McIvor is in the process of filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission against a Michaels store.

“A Winnipeg woman was hoping to buy a Christmas gift for her grandmother at a craft store earlier this week but was told she wasn’t welcome to shop in the store.

Desiree McIvor and her partner were out shopping on Monday afternoon and stopped at the Michaels store on Regent Avenue West.

‘We weren’t even in the door for about five seconds and this lady approached us and I thought it was going to be the usual ‘Hey, do you need any help or assistance?’ said McIvor, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation.

Michaels said it is investigating the incident and take matters of discrimination seriously. (Holly Caruk:CBC)

‘She said, ‘Well, you’re not welcome here and you guys have to leave.’

‘I was in complete shock, I couldn’t believe what she said.’

McIvor, who is eight months pregnant, said the employee then accused the couple of stealing from the store earlier that day.  ‘She said right to my face, ‘You guys look like people who robbed us this morning,’  she said. ‘It was humiliating because everybody in the store stopped and stared at us.’

McIvor said they tried to explain to the employee that they had never been to the store before but the employee insisted they leave…McIvor said they asked to speak to a manager, and the employee said that she was a manager, so they decided to leave the store.

McIvor’s partner called the store from the parking lot and asked for the general manager to try and make a formal complaint. That manager then admitted the employee made a mistake, McIvor said.

‘They just apologized and said we can shop, get a discount for the day, but at that point, who wants to spend your hard earned money when somebody just basically straight out called you a thief?’

A spokeswoman for Michaels said the chain is committed to treating customers with dignity and respect but would not elaborate on their store policies surrounding these kinds of events, or say what recourse a customer has if they feel mistreated…’We are actively investigating the situation and will take appropriate action as necessary.’

McIvor, a 31-year-old university student, said she’s been followed around stores in the past, something she says is common for Indigenous people, but has never been asked to leave.

McIvor said she and her partner felt like they were racially profiled and singled out because of their appearance…McIvor said she won’t ever shop at the store again, and is in the process of filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. She wants the store to change its policies so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. ‘I want them to stop treating Indigenous people… grouping them all together in the same category and saying because one stole everybody steals.’

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission said complaints of racial profiling are common and continue, especially in retail and in law enforcement.

‘This kind of discrimination has been a steady source of complaints for the commission for a number of years,’ said Karen Sharma, executive director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.

‘Anytime you’re making those kinds of judgments based on who you think a person is, rather than on who they’ve proven themselves to be, you open yourself up to risk, whether that’s a human rights complaint or some kind of other legal action,’she said. 

Sharma said customers need to be aware of their rights, but, even more importantly, retailers need to ensure their staff are aware of their obligations.”

“2020 Presidential Hopefuls Embrace Indigenous Movement Against Unwanted Pipelines”

“The Indigenous-led movement against pipelines, waged against Keystone XL and Dakota Access for years, has finally emerged as a critical component of the 2020 presidential campaign.” A. Agoyo, Indianz.com

Presidential candidate Cory Booker.

 

Excerpt: By Acee Agoyo, Indianz.com:

https://www.indianz.com/News/2019/09/04/presidential-hopefuls-embrace-indigenous.asp

“At least among Democrats, that is. Trump, who is running for re-election, and his Republican allies continue to support both projects despite widespread objections from tribes who fear negative impacts on their water, treaty rights and ways of life.

But for the party hoping to reclaim the White House, engaging in consultation with Indian Country isn’t enough. Tribes must have a decision-making role in pipelines and other energy infrastructure that affects their communities, several Democratic candidates for president are asserting as they seek the Native vote.

2020 Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. photo: Jim Watson :AFP : Getty Images

‘As President of the United States, Cory Booker will ensure that all people and all communities, especially those who have been traditionally left behind like indigenous communities, share in our progress,’ the U.S. Senator from New Jersey’s campaign told Indianz.Com on Tuesday…He is among several hopefuls who are promising to rescind the presidential permits for both the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. ICT

Both projects were approved by the Trump administration with little to no input from those affected in Indian Country. The final Dakota Access permit in North Dakota, for example, was approved while the leader of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies next to the $3.8 billion pipeline, was on a plane on his way for a meeting at the White House. The meeting was canceled since the decision had already been made.

Likewise, the first time Trump approved Keystone XL, he did so without conducting additional consultations among tribes along the route in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. And after Indigenous activists won a major court decision, he simply went around the judiciary and issued another permit rather than address the deficiencies raised in the lawsuit.

Biden was part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to help Indian Country and he participated in the 8-year promise to meet with tribal leaders. (Photo- Vincent Schilling)

But the politicians hoping to go up against Trump in 2020 are embracing an entirely different approach. A Booker administration will ‘require free, prior, and informed consent from tribal nations for all future major energy projects on federal lands,’ his campaign said on Tuesday, echoing a concept advanced by Faith Spotted Eagle, a respected elder from the Yankton Sioux Tribe, during the recent presidential forum…’We have a collective responsibility and commitment to stop Keystone XL from being built and we will not stop,’ said Lewis Grass Rope, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe who is hosting the Wiconi Un Tipi Resistance Camp on his family’s homelands in South Dakota as part of the Indigenous movement against the unwanted pipeline…Dakota Access likewise is back in the news even though it’s been up and running for more than two years.

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro. Aug. 20. Sarah Mearhoff : Forum News Service

The operators are planning to nearly double its capacity, a move opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose water resources, subsistence sites and sacred and historical places are impacted by the pipeline, which already carries more than 500,000 barrels of oil a day through its homelands in North Dakota…Like other Democratic candidates for president, Cory Booker’s environmental platform isn’t just about pipelines. Among other actions, he’s vowing to clean up every abandoned coal and uranium mine, including the more than 1,200 on the Navajo Nation and near the tribe’s homelands.”

Category: Native Rights, Politics

“Missionary’s Killing Reignites Debate About Isolated Tribes: Contact or Stay Away?”

“The recent killing of an American missionary by members of an isolated tribe on a small island in the Indian Ocean has reignited questions about the fate of the last few groups of people living off the grid…experts say they may not survive undisturbed for much longer.” E. Londono, The New York Times

A tribesman aiming his bow at an Indian helicopter in 2004, as it flew over North Sentinel Island. Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Excerpt: Missionary’s Killing Reignites Debate About Isolated Tribes: Contact, Support, or Stay Away? By Ernesto Londono, The New York Times

“In an era when people across the globe are hyper-connected by technology and increasingly interlocked economies, the survival of a few dozen groups of hunter-gatherers living in complete isolation may seem extraordinary. Because most of these groups are small and highly vulnerable, anthropologists and indigenous activists have been debating whether it makes more sense to leave them alone — or try to establish contact with them to offer basic medical care, such as vaccines.

Members of an isolated tribe in the Amazon basin, where most such groups live. G. Miranda-Funai:Survival International

Here are some basic facts about the world’s remaining isolated tribes.

How many are there, and where?

Anthropologists and activists who study the issue say it’s hard to know for certain. But based on satellite images and field research, experts believe there are more than 100 communities living in isolation. The only relatively large community outside of South America belongs to the Sentinelese, who live on North Sentinel Island. It is nominally part of India, but technically a sovereign territory.

That is where John Allen Chau, the American, was killed on a mission to convert the local residents to Christianity.

Why do these communities choose to remain isolated?

Based on accounts from people who have ceased living in isolation, and those who have had fleeting contact with these societies, experts say members of these communities are fearful that contact with outsiders would bring disease and mistreatment.

‘Many tribes in the frontier region of Brazil and Peru are probably survivors of the rubber boom who witnessed the enslavement and atrocities against indigenous peoples and fled to the headwaters of the Amazon to evade capture,’ said Jonathan Mazower, an expert on isolated communities at Survival, a London-based organization that advocates greater protection for the groups. ‘The historical memory of this era is likely to have been passed down to the current generation,’ he said.

Are these communities endangered?

Loggers, miners, cattle ranchers and drug traffickers have encroached on the territories of these groups, exposing them to violence and disease.

Anthropologists at the University of Missouri who study the size and resilience of these groups, based on satellite images and photos shot from aircraft, classify the ones they track as either ‘vulnerable’ or’critical.’

Is there a safe, ethical way to contact and support indigenous people?

Robert Walker and Kim Hill, two prominent anthropologists who study isolated societies, argued in an essay published in 2015 that it was time to reconsider the no-contact policy that governments like Brazil and Peru have maintained in recent years…Mr. Walker and Mr. Hill wrote in the essay, published in the magazine Science. ‘Disease epidemics, compounded by demographic variability and inbreeding effects, makes the disappearance of small, isolated groups very probable in the near future.’

Survival disagrees, and instead calls on governments to redouble efforts to keep outsiders from the territories where these communities live.

‘These uncontacted peoples make a judgment that they are better off remaining uncontacted and independent, fending for themselves,’ Mr. Mazower said. ‘Where their lands are protected and their right to remain uncontacted is upheld, they live healthy lives and are totally self-sufficient.’

Category: Native Rights, Social

Natives Say Goodbye to Prospector Pete Statue!

“Towering over the courtyard at California State University, Long Beach, is the statue of Prospector Pete, the epitome of the rugged 49ers who came to the state looking for gold and land. To some, it is an innocuous icon harkening back to the university’s first president, Pete Peterson, who frequently spoke of having ‘struck the gold of education.’ For others, the bearded and weathered statue is an upsetting relic that sanctions the brutish treatment of indigenous people in the state during the Gold Rush.” J. A. Real, The New York Times

The statue of Prospector Pete at California State University, Long Beach.CreditCreditThomas R. Cordova:The Orange County Register

Excerpt: Icon or Insensitive Relic? Prospector Pete Is On Its Way Out! By Jose A. Del Real

As scholars and students on campuses across the country grapple with debates over free speech and political correctness, Prospector Pete has emerged as a divisive symbol in California.

“Walking by a statue that’s put in a prominent place on campus, in an almost honorary way, that’s another type of trauma that’s being imposed on me. This is a part of our family history,’ said Miztlayolxochitl Aguilera, 20, who is of Tongva Indian descent. ‘I heard the stories of murder and rape and genocide growing up. Somebody else, they might not notice the statue. They might not feel what I feel as a California Indian when I see that symbol on campus.’

The school was built on the former site of the sacred village of Puvungna, where the Tongva indigenous people lived long before European contact…Now, after years of activism and a formal committee inquiry, Jane Conoley, the university’s president, announced last month that the statue will be formally moved. The cartoonish Prospector Pete costume mascot used at athletic games, which has been slowly phased out in recent years, will also be formally retired.

Ms. Aguilera, who recalled when her grandmother forbade her from acknowledging her indigenous ancestry, out of fear that it would lead to further marginalization, praised the move.

‘This is an acknowledgment of our trauma as indigenous people who suffered,’she said. ‘And it’s also an acknowledgment that we have to learn about these histories, about what’s going on around us.’

While the decision has not drawn the sorts of controversy and protest seen on other campuses and in other parts of the country, some alumni have questioned whether the university is merely catering to students and, in the process, severing ties with part of its past. ‘We have heard from some who believe we are censoring the history of our campus and bending to political correctness,’ said Terri Carbaugh, a university spokeswoman…Prospector Pete will be moved to a new alumni center after the university breaks ground on the project, which it intends to do next spring. The precise timeline and location have yet to be announced.”

Category: Culture, Native Rights