Natives Help Save Nature’s Engineers

“The rodents are often considered ‘nuisance animals’, but they can play a vital role in maintaining healthy landscapes.” L. Sherriff, The Guardian, Feb. 23, 2021

A beaver is released on to a stretch of river in northern Washington that has been prepped for its arrival. Photograph- Morgan Heim


Excerpt: Believers: Native Americans promote resurgence of ‘nature’s engineers‘ — Lucy Sherriff, The Guardian, Feb. 23, 2021

“Molly Alves steps down hard on the edge of a heavy wire trap, forcing its sides open with her hands. With care she lays the poised trap, baited with twigs and branches, in a bracingly cold stream. Her target? A beaver. Beavers are often considered ‘nuisance’ animals on the US west coast and, if captured, are destroyed by animal control companies.

Beavers caught from around the Seattle area stay at the Tulalip, Washington, fish hatchery before release Photograph- Morgan Heim

But the beaver picked up by Alves is to be transported to Alves’ employers, the Tulalip Tribes, a nation in Washington’s western corner. This Native American community, and others, are at the vanguard of the ‘beaver believer’ movement, which holds that the rodents can play an essential role in maintaining healthy landscapes.

Beavers are known as nature’s engineers, due to their dam-building habits. For decades they have been hated by landowners, who dislike the animals’ tendency to fell trees and flood areas. However, their dams – although seen by some as a nuisance – help control the quantity and quality of water flow, while their ponds create habitat for numerous plants and animal species, including fish… Back in 2018, Washington’s Cowlitz Indian Tribe started on an ambitious project: to reintroduce beavers back into the Gifford Pinchot national forest, a wild region on the slopes of the Cascade mountains, as part of efforts to reclaim indigenous land management practices.

The animals had not been in the region since the 1930s, after they were trapped into near-extinction in North America during the 1800s fur trade…’Our culture and members depend upon a healthy ecosystem,’ says Phil Harju, the chairman of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. ‘Beavers are a key species that enable the ecosystem to function properly.’The successes in Washington have been keenly followed by tribal nations further down the coast.”

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Hawaiian Animated Film ‘Kapaemahu’ Makes Oscar’s List

“Filmmaker Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu’s film has also won the top prize at three Oscar-qualifying festivals.” V. Schilling, ICT, Feb, 27, 2021

A scene from the Hawaiian animated short film ‘Kapaemahu’ by filmmaker Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (Courtesy image)


Excerpt: Hawaiian animated short film ‘Kapaemahu’ hits Oscar’s shortlist By  Vincent Schilling, ICT, Feb, 27, 2021

“Native Hawaiian teacher, cultural practitioner, and filmmaker Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu has been gaining international acclaim for her latest short animated film ‘Kapaemahu.’

The film has just garnered a coveted spot on the 93rd Academy Awards Oscars shortlist in the Animated Short Film category. Additionally, and after playing at more than 100 film festivals internationally, ‘Kapaemahu’ received the top award at three Oscar-qualifying festivals…Wong-Kalu told Indian Country Today that her message is one of hope and healing.

“The message that I would like to share with all people, is that in this time of the world needing healing, I hope that this story is perhaps a glimmer of hope for those who may need it. Healing requires us really consider the balance in our lives. Balance is about a duality of spirit in each and every one of us, for some of us … it doesn’t pull one way or the other. It’s very strong on both sides.”

Minecraft Virtual Game Now Has An Indigenous World!

Students enter the virtual world of Manito Ahbee Aki meaning ‘the place where the Creator sits’ to learn and explore Manitoba’s Anishinaabe community.” D. Stranger, ICT

Minecraft’s Manito Ahbee Aki Image- News

Excerpt: Minecraft’s Indigenous world By Darrell Stranger ICT

“For most kids, Minecraft is a game they play to unwind after school, but thanks to a new program at the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD), kids can now play it during school hours. The LRSD in Winnipeg, is using the game Minecraft to teach students about Manitoba Anishinaabe culture. It’s a first of its kind education tool using an educational version of the game.The program was made thanks to a partnership between Microsoft Canada, Minecraft: Education Edition and LRSD. Students learn teachings about tobacco, navigating directions using the sun moon and stars, and eventually take a canoe ride to where they set up a community and take part in a bison hunt.

Travel back in time to experience Anishinaabe culture, community and teachings before European contact in North America. Explore three distinct lessons with your students to help them understand the Anishinaabe Worldview through teachings from Knowledge Keepers. Explore the Forks, Manito Ahbee (the Petroforms), and participate in a Bison hunt! 

‘It has been really fun for me, I’ve played Minecraft my whole life and it’s fun to test something new and something exciting that they can develop into the game. It was really interesting to learn about all their teachings and things I didn’t know before,’ said Grade 6 student Colin Ciecko from Highbury School in Winnipeg.

‘My favorite part is just being able to run around and be guided through what life was like for the Anishinaabe people.’

Creating the game took 14 months of development with stakeholders located in Canada, the United States and Australia.”

Learn more and download the world:

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.

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

COVID-19: Native advisories and event updates


Category: Culture

Social Media Helps Preserve Native Cultures

“…ceremonial gatherings have been scarce over the past year as Native American communities isolate to protect their elders during the Covid-19 pandemic. Reservations have been hit especially hard… These deaths are doubly devastating to Native communities because elders are seen as the keepers of tribal history and culture.” S. Reardon, Kaiser, CNN, February 8, 2021

Native Americans are adapting to the pandemic with online events and educational videos to share their culture.

Excerpt: Social media helps Native Americans preserve cultural traditions during pandemic, By Sara Reardon, Kaiser, CNN, February 8, 2021

“Lawrence Wetsit misses the days when his people would gather by the hundreds and sing the songs that all Assiniboine children are expected to learn by age 15.

‘We can’t have ceremony without memorizing all of the songs, songs galore,’ he said. ‘We’re not supposed to record them: We have to be there. And when that doesn’t happen in my grandchildren’s life, they may never catch up.’  Wetsit, a tribal elder and former chair of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, said that his tribe lost one person a day on average to the disease [covid-19] during October and November…Wetsit worries that the combination of deaths and lockdowns will permanently harm the tribe’s ability to share traditional knowledge and oral history…With that in mind, many Native people have found innovative ways throughout the pandemic to continue sharing their culture despite physical distancing restrictions. Social media groups have provided some remedies, in ways that may continue after the pandemic wanes…One Facebook group, known as Social Distance Powwow, has helped its Native members connect through sharing videos of drumming, dancing and other traditions. Since its founding in March, the group has accumulated more than 227,000 members and taken on a life of its own, with people sharing prayer requests, birthday celebrations and death announcements…Social media groups have provided some remedies, in ways that may continue after the pandemic wanes.”

Navajo Department of Health

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

Financial Aid for Native Students

Category: Culture | Tags:

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




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

‘How Covid-19 Threatens Native Languages’

“As Covid-19 takes a fearsome toll on our people, it also threatens the progress we have made to save our languages. The average age of our speakers — our treasured elders who have the greatest knowledge and depth of the language — is 70. They are also those who are at most risk of dying from Covid-19.”J. Archambault, The New York Times,Jan. 24, 2021

The husband and wife Jesse (Jay) and Cheryl Taken Alive were buried at a family plot south of Cannon Ball, N.D., overlooking the Missouri River. Credit…Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune, via Getty Images


Excerpt: How Covid-19 Threatens Native Languages,  By Jodi Archambault, The New York Times,Jan. 24, 2021

“Over four centuries, nine out of 10 Native Americans perished from war or disease. Now our people are dying from Covid-19 at extraordinarily high rates across the country. North and South Dakota, home to the Lakota reservations, lead the United States for coronavirus rates per capita. We are losing more than friends and family members; we are losing the language spoken by our elders, the lifeblood of our people and the very essence of who we are…In 2020, there were only 230 native Dakota and Lakota speakers on the Standing Rock Reservation. Two hundred and thirty speakers — down from 350 in 2006, according to the tribe’s surveys. There are only a couple of thousand speakers, in total, in the United States and Canada… Before the pandemic, we had been making progress. Cultural warriors young and old had created immersion schools, including on the Standing Rock, Pine Ridge, and Rosebud Reservations. Now we are mourning the loss of instructors who helped revitalize the language at Sitting Bull College — Paulette High Elk, Delores Taken Alive and Richard Ramsey, all of whom died of the virus last year. We celebrate when others recover: Thomas Red Bird, Earl Bullhead.”