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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COVID-19 Is Destroying the Livelihoods of Native Artists

“The coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating impact on the livelihoods of Native American artists. But they are responding with a creative resolve born from centuries of adversity.” P. Leigh, The New York Times

Our great-grand folks went through the Great Depression, the artist Marvin Martinez says. Now I feel like I’m reliving my ancestors. Credit-Ramsay de Give for The New York Times

Mr. Martinez creates pottery blackened by blue smoke that recalls the legacy of his great-grandmother, Maria Martinez. Credit- Ramsay de Give for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: On Tribal Lands, a Time to Make Art for Solace and Survival — By Patricia Leigh, The New York Times

“For over 30 years, Marvin and Frances Martinez have risen with the sun to drive from their home at the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico to the centuries-old Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe.

They arrive early to snag a prime spot beneath the rough-hewed wooden beams of the portal, a colonnade where they sell pottery blackened by blue smoke that recalls the legacy of Maria Martinez, the grande dame of Native American pottery and Mr. Martinez’s great-grandmother.

Native American vendors under the portal of the Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, circa 1925-1945.Credit…Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM:DCA)

They are among the 70 or so Native American artisans gathering here to earn a living…This living museum of craftspeople, a program of the New Mexico History Museum, is a Santa Fe institution that draws 300 to 1,000 tourists a day. That was before the yellow caution tape went up and downtown Santa Fe became a ghost town.

The gathering of Native artisans under the portal is a Santa Fe institution that draws 300 to 1,000 tourists a day. Credit- Palace of the Governors Photo Archives

New Mexico’s 23 tribal communities make up almost 60 percent of reported cases and half the deaths, though they comprise just 11 percent of the state’s population… Last month, Indian Market in Santa Fe, the country’s oldest and most competitive market, announced that it would be going virtual this August, spawning ripples of anxiety among artists untutored in e-commerce or living in isolated areas with little or no internet connectivity.

‘Most Native artists rely heavily on the principal markets as an economic lifeline,’ said W. Richard West, Jr., president and chief executive of the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles. ‘To have it all come crashing down is really tough.’

Mark Bahti, who owns galleries in Tucson and Santa Fe, noted that many artists come from large extended families. ‘When people support an artist, they are supporting a community,’ he said. At Zuni Pueblo (pop. 7600), in a hard-hit part of New Mexico, some 77 percent of households have at least one self-identified artist at home. A young cooperative called ARTZ — for Ancestral Rich Treasures of Zuni — includes Zuni fetish carvers, who sculpt small animals and other spirit world figures from alabaster and other stones. But the tour buses and visitors stopped coming after the virus outbreak.

A mural by the street artist jetsonorama on Highway 160 on the Navajo reservation.Credit…Chip Thomas

On Highway 160 on the Navajo reservation, where jewelry vendors once set up stalls, a black and white mural by the street artist jetsonorama uses the haunting image of a masked Indian in a headdress to underscore, in both Dine’ and English, the urgency of following public health protocols…The economic importance of traditional cultural practices extends to regions not widely associated with the arts. A market study of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota by the First Peoples Fund, a nonprofit that supports Native artists and culture bearers found that 79 percent of home-based businesses were in traditional arts like beadwork and quillwork.

Rolling Rez arts, a roving arts studio, credit union, internet hot spot and mini-trading post on wheels, aimed at reaching artists in far-flung settings. Credit- Bryan Parker

A solution was Rolling Rez arts — a roving arts studio, credit union, internet hot spot and mini-trading post on wheels that until the virus struck — fanned out across 11,000 square miles to reach artists in far-flung settings…The Fund, based in Rapid City, is among the organizations stepping up to provide financial relief for Native artists in 25 states, who have reported losses ranging from $150 to $38,000 since March 1.”

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Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden delivered a speech at the funeral for George Floyd on Tuesday, calling on his family to turn his death into “purpose.”

“Now is the time for racial justice. That’s the answer we must give to our children when they ask why. Because when there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America,”Democratic Presidential nominee  ~Joe Biden~

TODAY WE MARCH — TOMORROW WE VOTE!

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In Election 2020 Natives Need Both Options to Vote: By Mail or In Person

“Native American voting rights advocates are cautioning against states moving to mail-in ballots without opportunities for tribal members to vote safely in person.” F. Fonseca, ICT

Photo- News Service

A polling station on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Fort Yates, North Dakota in 2016.Credit…Stephanie Keith:Reuters

 

Excerpt: If voting is made ‘easier’ Indian Country will vote – By Felicia Fonseca, ICT

In a wide-ranging report released Thursday, ‘Obstacles at Every Turn,’ the Native American Rights Fund outlined the challenges that could arise: online registration hampered by spotty or no internet service, ballots delivered to rarely-checked Post Office boxes and turnout curbed by a general reluctance to vote by mail. 

‘We’re all for increased vote by mail,’ said Jacqueline De Leon, a staff attorney with the group and a member of Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico. ‘We’re absolutely against all vote by mail. If there are no in-person opportunities, then Native Americans will be disenfranchised because it will be impossible for some of them to cast a ballot.’

 A few states automatically mail ballots to every eligible voter. Others are drawing up plans to rely more heavily on a mail-in system for this year’s elections amid the coronavirus pandemic and with social distancing guidelines in mind. 

Native Americans are reluctant to embrace the system because of cultural, historical, socioeconomic and language barriers, and past experiences, the report said…Native Americans didn’t become U.S. citizens until 1924, but some states restricted who was entitled to vote up into the 1960s, with laws saying Native Americans who weren’t taxed, who lived on reservations or were enrolled with tribes couldn’t cast a ballot. Southwestern states were the last holdouts…More than one-third of voting-age Native Americans — or 1.2 million people — aren’t registered to cast a ballot, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

‘While advocates have been pushing states to improve access to the polls, they’re also reminding tribal members to register and vote to enact change. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted inequalities in tribal communities, including access to running water, health care and housing. Those disparities won’t improve without electing people to office who understand them,’ the report said.

As the November elections approach, Native American advocates are pushing states to allow voting early, curbside, and at mobile voting stations to reduce crowding. They also want officials to designate hours for voters who are vulnerable to the coronavirus, enact social distancing and provide protective equipment for poll workers.”

 

Joe Biden wins Democratic primary for President in New Mexico!

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has been declared the winner of the Democratic presidential primary in New Mexico June 3, 2020

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Category: Culture | Tags:

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.”

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Basic information.

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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~

Navajo Rez Dog Rescuer Up for $50,000 award!

“Growing up in Salt Lake City, Darrell McCurtain always looked forward to visiting his relatives in Salina Springs and Rough Rock, Arizona … except for the dogs. With their mismatched ears, multi-colored coats and legs that were either too short or too long, the rez mutts were fantastical creatures to McCurtain, who was used to seeing the purebred dogs in the city.” C. Yurth, The Navajo Times

Darrell, a Navajo tribe member himself, works to improve the conditions for pets on the reservations by working with the Navajo Nation, Ute Ouray Nation, Ute Mountain Nation. YouTube

Excerpt: Rez dog rescuer up for international ‘Unsung Hero’ award By Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times

“But so many of them were bony, limping, or worse — dead alongside the highway — that the young McCurtain would sometimes leave his ancestral homeland feeling depressed. McCurtain’s love of animals persisted into adulthood, and he found himself volunteering at Nuzzles & Co., a beautiful “rescue ranch” in Park City, Utah. Eventually he worked his way into a job as the shelter’s director of intake and community outreach. Nuzzles did a good job of pulling pets from nearby kill shelters, rehabilitating them and finding them forever homes

But McCurtain’s thoughts often wandered back to the reservation, where the shelters euthanized many more dogs than they saved and people often let animals out in the desert when they couldn’t afford to care for them. In 2014, McCurtain talked his bosses into making a rescue trip down to the Navajo Nation…’They were surprised at the need on the rez,’ he recalled.

Darrell and a rescue

McCurtain also wasn’t above using his status as a tribal member to make some connections and get Nuzzles into places the average tourist never sees…The rescue now visits the reservation once a month, and usually the Ute Mountain Ute animal shelter in Towoac, Colorado, as well, and fills up its van for the eight-hour drive back to the rescue ranch. If the crew sees a dog in critical need on the street, they’ll pick it up, but in deference to Navajo Nation law, they’ll usually pull from existing rescues on the reservation…Once at the ranch, they’re vaccinated, fixed, treated for fleas, ticks and parasites, and learn how to walk on a leash and be around people and other dogs before being adopted out…While on the rez, McCurtain talks to as many people as he can about the necessity of getting their animals vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

Generally, rescue is pretty thankless work. So McCurtain was surprised when, on one of his missions to the reservation,he [found out that ] he was one of five nominees internationally for Petco Foundation’s Unsung Hero award [and] the final winner would receive $50,000 for their organization… McCurtain said if he wins and Nuzzles is awarded $50,000, he’d like to put it all toward the rez dogs.”

To Vote (or adopt a pet) visit NUZZLES & CO.

 

Don’t Forget:

Democratic President Elect Joe Biden 2020

“When I announced my campaign one year ago today, I said we were in a battle for the soul of the nation.  One year later, that is as true as it has ever been. I believe we can and we will emerge from this crisis a stronger, better, and fairer nation. Together, as one America.”

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

U.S. Presidential Election: VOTE NOVEMBER 3,  2020

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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?

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Basic information.

Indian Health Service

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National Indian Health Board

 

Category: Animals | Tags: ,

Teen Finds $135,000…And Returns It!

“Jose Nuñez Romaniz, a criminal justice student, turned over the money to officials and was invited to apply for an entry-level job at the Albuquerque Police Department.”M. Padilla, New York Times

Jose Nuñez second from left, with his parents, Carmen and Jose Nuñez and Mike Geier, the Albuquerque police chief. Credit…Julie Jensen:Albuquerque Police Department

Excerpt: Teenager, an Aspiring Detective, Returns $135,000 He Found –Mariel Padilla, NYT

“Jose Nuñez Romaniz was headed to the bank to deposit money so he could buy socks online for his grandfather when he came upon a large clear plastic bag filled with cash next to an A.T.M. in Albuquerque.

‘When I first saw it, I kind of stared at it for a few seconds, not knowing what to do,’ Mr. Nuñez said of his discovery on May 3. ‘I was very shocked. I’ve never seen so much money.’

Mr. Nuñez, 19, a criminal justice student at Central New Mexico Community College, said that after the initial shock had worn off, he took a picture of the bag.

He said he noticed a tag on the outside of the bag that said it contained $60,000 in $20 bills. The police later counted an additional $75,000 in $50 bills.

‘It never passed through my mind to keep any of it,’ Mr. Nuñez said on Saturday…After calling the police, he put the bag in his car and moved it so someone else could use the machine. He then called his mother to tell her he was going to be a little late coming home.

Two police officers arrived within minutes, took the bag and took Mr. Nuñez’s statement and information. He said his parents expressed amazement and disbelief when he recounted what happened, even after he showed them the picture… Officer Simon Drobik, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman, said on Saturday ‘I think this is the biggest amount of money found in Albuquerque and returned.’

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Nuñez was in Phoenix buying materials for his parents’ mattress business when Officer Drobik called. ‘He asked me how was it to be a hero in the town, and at first I didn’t know what he was referring to,’ Mr. Nuñez said. ‘But then he started telling me about a ceremony to honor me. He wanted me to take my family there and meet the mayor and the chief of police.’

About 50 people attended the ceremony, which was held at the Albuquerque Police Academy on Thursday.

At the ceremony, Mayor Tim Keller commended Mr. Nuñez’s actions: ‘Man, we all know that temptation. Even just to take a little, just one of those bundles off the top. I mean that had to be really hard.’

Mr. Nuñez said he had received a plaque, gift cards, sports gear and even a $500 scholarship from an electric company…When Officer Drobik learned that Mr. Nuñez was studying criminal justice and wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement, he invited him to apply for a position at the department. Mr. Nuñez said he had gone to the station on Friday and filled out an application to be a public service aide, an entry-level position for those who want to become law enforcement officers but do not yet meet the requirements. ‘I’ve wanted to be a crime scene investigator or a detective for the police since I was a kid.’ Mr. Nuñez said…“The family was very humble,” Officer Drobik said. “It was amazing to watch them. There’s a greater good there. They weren’t blown away by Jose’s actions, but everyone else was.”

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Category: Culture, Social