Category Archives: Native Rights

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

Natives Do Not Trust Brett Kavanaugh!

“Many Native Americans worry that Supreme Court justice candidate Brett Kavanaugh could work to restrict tribal sovereignty, which they say is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.” VOA

Photo- VOA

Excerpt:  Native Americans Worry Trump Supreme Court Pick Threatens Sovereignty-VOA

“Native Americans have expressed concern about Trump’s pick for Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh… Many believe that Kavanaugh does not recognize the sovereignty of tribes, which govern themselves as independent nations within the United States.

Tribal nations, through hundreds of treaties with the government, ceded more than half a billion hectares of land in exchange for reservations, services, protections and rights — chief of which was sovereignty, the right to rule themselves and make decisions about how to use their own land.

Alaska Natives Press Lisa Murkowski to REJECT Brett Kavanaugh

Their sovereignty, they argue, was recognized by America’s founding fathers and is implicit in the wording of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the power ‘to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.’ But the nature of the relationship began to change in the 19th century.

‘We went from an era of sovereign-to-sovereign relationships into an era of military conquest by the U.S. of tribes and their territories,’ said Harvard University international economics professor Joseph P. Kalt, an expert on tribal sovereignty. ‘Tribes depend pretty heavily on lots of federal statutes to create a place for tribes to govern — things like the Indian Child Welfare Act, the authority of the Interior Department to acquire land in trust for tribes so that they can expand their land bases,’ said Matthew L. M. Fletcher, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Michigan…But when lower court cases get to the Supreme Court, in some cases, a 200-year precedent doesn’t seem to matter.

He said many tribes worry that if a conservative Republican like Kavanaugh is confirmed, the Supreme Court could reverse some of the gains they’ve made over the last 40 years, particularly with regard to the environment…The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has urged tribal leaders to watch the confirmation hearings carefully, noting that Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom Kavanaugh would replace, was a key vote on important tribal issues.”

Category: Native Rights, Politics

Natives March On White House to Rally for Rights!

“March 10, 2017, Organizers of the Native Nations Rise march say it was intended as a show of solidarity against a federal government that has long shunted aside indigenous concerns on a range of environmental, economic and social issues.” J.Helm, The Washington Post

An activist puts on a giant “Make America Great Again” hat while protesting outside the Army Corps of Engineers office. A. Wong:Getty Images

Excerpt: American Indians around the U.S. march on White House in rally for rights By Joe Helm, The Washington Post

“With wet snow falling, the demonstration started just east of Verizon Center, as the marchers set out on a course through downtown. Despite the foul weather, the protesters were in good spirits, cheering loudly and chanting, ‘We’re cold, we’re wet, We ain’t done yet!’  Office workers peered out of windows, some waving or giving the thumbs-up. ‘I’ve never really protested before, but this is so important for everyone,’ said Elizabeth Turnipseed who came to the march with her husband David, a member of the Puyallup tribe in Washington state.’ Our waters are being destroyed, and I’m just tired of them disrespecting Mother Earth.’ 

Protesters use coup sticks to jab at an effigy of trump in front of his hotel in downtown Washington. Michael S. Williamson:The Washington Post

The march was led in part by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been involved in a long-standing dispute over the Dakota Access pipeline. The tribe has argued in court that the 1,172-mile pipeline threatens its drinking water, crosses sacred lands and was approved by the government without adequate consultation.

photo- Kevin Lamarque:Reuters

Work on the $3.8 billion pipeline, which is owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, was halted in December by  President Obama. The Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would look at alternate routes for the pipeline and that it would undertake an environmental-impact statement.

Native teepees are erected on the Washington Monument grounds by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe- Bill O’Leary:The Washington Post

But in January,  the current administration signed an executive order giving the pipeline project the go-ahead. The Army Corps granted an easement for the oil company to drill under a reservoir on the Missouri River that is adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and construction resumed in early February. The company has said it would be just a number of weeks before up to 550,000 barrels of oil a day can begin flowing through the pipeline.”

Category: Native Rights

DAPL: Native Protectors Might Pollute Their Own Water!

“Citing unusually high temperatures and the need to step up the pace of cleanup, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum issued an evacuation order effective immediately for water protectors in the Oceti Sakowin and parts of Sacred Stone camps… It relates to the unseasonably warm weather and the potential for flooding that’s coming…Potential water contamination was also an issue…one of the biggest environmental threats to the Missouri River right now is the camp itself.”ICMN Staff

Warmer temperatures have started to melt near-record snowfall at the Oceti Sakowin camp. J. Monet ICTMN

Excerpt: Water Protectors Told to Evacuate, ICMN Staff

“Cleanup has been happening, he said, but with five to six months of debris and the warming temperatures, the pace needs to be stepped up. Eighty-two dumpsters have been taken from the camps, Burgum said, but that is only 20 percent of what needs to be cleaned up.

Protesters must clean up and leave the site

At the current pace, it won’t be done in time to avoid contaminating the water when the floods come. And the freezing water, he said, would be dangerous to anyone remaining in the flood plain…Burgum said that at this point there are fewer than 200 water protectors left at the camps—during the height in November and December, the number had swelled as high as 14,000—and urged those who remained to take any personal and ceremonial items. He acknowledged that there may be people at camp who don’t have a place to go, and said state and local authorities would work with them to help them relocate.

Asked about potential police presence or use of force, Burgum said that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) had ‘added more staff’ and that more were coming, but that the goal was to maintain public safety.

‘But it’d be nice if we didn’t need more law enforcement,’ he said, in the hope that water protectors would cooperate with the cleanup efforts as an environmental issue, and would leave peaceably, in deference to the climate conditions.”

Category: Native Rights

Empower Native Women: Remove Barriers from Plan B!

Native American women face high barriers to getting Plan B By Stephanie Siek, CNN

O’siyo.Native women, especially those living in isolated areas on reservations face many barriers to obtaining  proper health care, including  access to emergency contraceptives. More over, many Native American females are not aware of the existence of the pill Plan B, nor of  the important function it serves.

Anadarko Community Esteem Project Photo- Home site

Excerpt:
“In most of the United States, a woman 17 years or older who needs Plan B, an emergency contraceptive that can prevent pregnancy up to 72 hours after intercourse, can walk up to a pharmacy counter and request it without a prescription. But for Native American women served by the Indian Health Service, obtaining Plan B might require a drive of hundreds of miles, a wait beyond the pill’s window of effectiveness, and a price beyond what the IHS would charge.

Anadarko Community Esteem Project

According to a recent report by the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center (NAWHERC), Native American women living on reservations can face significant barriers when trying to access emergency contraception. According to the roundtable of 50 community workers, women’s advocates and Native American women from South Dakota, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona almost all IHS facilities they dealt with require women to see a doctor or get a prescription in order to get Plan B. The medicine is offered without additional cost at IHS pharmacies, but not all pharmacies stock it. if a woman happens to need the medication outside of business hours or on the weekend, she has to wait until the facility reopens – which could be up to several days. If we want it, we have to leave the reservation. One, you have to have a car or hire someone to drive you, two, you have to have the time to access it, three you have to have the money to access it. Adding to the urgency of the matter is that many women seeking Plan B need it because they have been raped.

Maya Torralba, founder :director of ACEP. Photo credit Canku Ota

Maya Torralba a member of the Kiowa, Comanche and Wichita tribes, is the founder and director of the Anadarko Community Esteem Project, which counsels and helps females. I didn’t even know about Plan B until I did this roundtable.I didn’t know that was an option, or that we had access to it, and here I am an advocate for young women. Now that I do know this, I am trying to make sure that women are aware of it.”

This is an important article that should be read by all. Kudos to Maya Torralba and the others for trying to help females keep on the right path.

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” ~Dr. Maya Angelou~

Category: Native Rights