Homeless Urban Natives Receive Help From Rez Natives

“There were overdoses nearly every day in the grim homeless encampment near downtown. Diseases spread, with upward of 200 people cramming into dozens of tents. Fears rose among activists and the mostly Native American population living there that the city would crack down, which for them would have echoed the country’s dark history of treating indigenous people with force and contempt.” J. Eligon, The New York Times

Homeless. photo-mprnews.org

Excerpt: Native American Homeless Crisis in Minnesota Inspires an Unlikely Alliance, by J. Eligon, NYT

“But then, an unlikely solution surfaced.

Red Lake Nation, a tribe some four and a half hours’ drive north, offered to help build temporary shelters on land it had bought two years ago for a permanent housing development in the city. Other tribes in Minnesota supported Red Lake’s shelter proposal, forming a partnership to help win concessions from local officials and secure emergency relief.

James Cross comforts Yvonne after she became emotional while talking about her situation. Star Tribune

It was a rare show of unity by tribal nations to resolve an urban crisis, Native advocates said. And it represented a potential turning point in the sometimes distant relationship between Native Americans who live in urban areas and those who choose to remain on reservations…The majority of American Indians live in cities, although very little federal funding is directed specifically toward them. Tribal governments do receive federal dollars, but they usually go toward life on the reservation. There is rarely enough to expand resources and services needed in urban areas, where Native Americans often lack basic housing.

The homeless encampment in Minneapolis.

Clarista Johnson, 20, lived on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe reservation. When her grandfather died, she said, she left drug treatment to mourn with her family, but then fell out with her aunt and boyfriend. Both of her parents were incarcerated. She considered her prospects on the reservation to be bleak, so she left for Minneapolis, about two hours south. ‘I thought maybe the cities would have more resources, more options,’ she said. Instead, she continued her struggles with meth and heroin addiction, and had no place to live.

For the past five months, she had been staying here at the encampment, in the city’s Native American corridor. Orange buckets for disposing used needles were scattered about and mangled tents were pitched beneath a noisy thoroughfare, the scent of burning wood choking the air. An elderly man limped around barefoot, his feet stiff…Roughly eight out of 10 American Indians do not live on reservations. The mass migration to cities, experts say, was prompted by the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, when the federal government, attempting to assimilate Native people, offered them incentives to leave their reservations. But assurances of opportunity gave way to discrimination, isolation, dead-end jobs and poor living conditions that continue today.

In September, after negotiations between Native-led nonprofits and the city failed to yield an agreement on a site for temporary shelters to address the homeless encampment, Sam Strong, the Red Lake Nation secretary, offered the tribe’s property, a solution that was quickly accepted…The parcel of land is just south of downtown. The tribe plans to build a complex with 110 units of affordable housing, and is expected to break ground next summer. It will also offer social services and cultural events, such as drum circles, Mr. Strong said…Ms. Johnson moved into the new temporary shelter late last week, and she now sleeps in one of its heated dome-like tents.  She can come and go as she pleases 24 hours a day and not be turned away, even if she is high — a policy that Native leaders pushed for to ensure a welcoming environment.

But Maggie Thunder Hawk, 56, worried that officials would eventually introduce onerous restrictions. She said that the facility ‘looks and feels like jail.’ She would give it a try, she said, but if she did not like it, ‘I’m going right back outside.’

When Red Lake breaks ground on its housing complex next summer, the temporary shelters will have to come down, and many former encampment dwellers, including Ms. Johnson, may find themselves back on the streets.”

Category: Culture

2019 Native Students: “Broken promises — that’s all you get from the school.”

“At Wolf Point High School in rural Montana, Native American students face the same neglect Native students across the U.S. do as they navigate a school system that has failed American Indians.” E L. Green and A. Waldman, The New York Times

Ms. Fourstar, center, spending time with friends at the Wadopana celebration in August.CreditAnnie Flanagan for The New York Times

Excerpt: I feel Invisible: Native Students Languish in Public Schools By E L. Green and A. Waldman, The NYT

The faint scars on Ruth Fourstar’s arms testify to a difficult life on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation: the physical and emotional abuse at home, the bullying at school, the self-harm that sent her rotating through mental health facilities and plunged her to a remedial program from the honor roll. A diploma from Wolf Point High School could be a ticket out of this isolated prairie town in eastern Montana. Instead, Ms. Fourstar, 17, sees her school as a dead end.

The tutoring she was promised to get her back on track did not materialize. An agreement with the high school principal to let her apply credits earned in summer courses toward graduation fell through, Ms. Fourstar said. The special education plan that the school district developed for her, supposedly to help her catch up, instead laid out how she should be disciplined. Her family fears that she will inflict the pain of not graduating on herself. ‘I’m just there,’ Ms. Fourstar said. ‘I feel invisible.’

Jayden Joe, who attended Wolf Point High School, fatally shot himself last year. Credit A. Flanagan NYT

Her despondency is shared by other Native students at Wolf Point and across the United States. Often ignored in the national conversation about the public school achievement gap, these students post some of the worst academic outcomes of any demographic group, which has been exacerbated by decades of discrimination, according to federal reports. The population is also among the most at risk: Underachievement and limited emotional support at school can contribute to a number of negative outcomes for Native youths — even suicide. Citing these factors, in 2014, the Obama administration declared Native youths and their education to be in a ‘state of emergency.’ While the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Education runs about 180 Native-only schools, more than 90 percent of Native students attend integrated public schools near or on reservations, like Wolf Point.

Annette Henderson, 18, is a senior at Wolf Point High School. Credit A. Flanagan-NYT

In June 2017, the Tribal Executive Board of Fort Peck filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights requesting a federal investigation into the tribe’s contention that the Wolf Point school system discriminates against Native students…According to the complaint and to interviews with dozens of students and families, Wolf Point schools provide fewer opportunities and fewer social and academic supports to Native students, who make up more than half of the student body, than to the white minority. The junior and senior high schools, which together have an enrollment of about 300, shunt struggling Native students into a poorly funded, understaffed program for remedial and truant students, often against their will…One of the few places where Ms. Fourstar has flourished at the high school is the Opportunity Learning Center, an ‘alternative’ program with more than 50 students — about 95 percent of them Native. They spend a couple of periods to most of the school day there.

Cookie Ragland, the program’s director and only full-time staff member, is white and grew up just west of the reservation. She has devoted her career to students who ‘don’t fit into mainstream, traditional educational classrooms’ and was drawn to Wolf Point in 2003 because it had the only alternative program in northeastern Montana.

For her classroom, Ms. Ragland procured a refrigerator, which she stocked with sandwich supplies, and a washer and dryer for students who did not have homes. She allowed Native students to earn a biology credit for going fishing and bringing back their catch to dissect. She spurned worksheets and encouraged students to do research papers on topics that interested them.

In recent years, though, the school administration has given Ms. Ragland ‘little financial or other support,’ according to the tribal board’s complaint. It has ordered her to stop developing Native-centered curriculums and taking students on field trips. At one point, it required learning center students to enter the school through a back door. 

Because she considers the school ‘toxic,’ she said, she encourages some Native students to take a nontraditional path to graduation, such as a training program called Job Corps or the Montana Youth Challenge Academy. Ms. Ragland’s approach has been criticized by parents who say that steering students toward outside programs can set them back even further, and by some Native students who say Ms. Ragland appears to have lower expectations for them. ‘I’m not saying I’m a miracle worker,’she said. ‘I’ve lost students, and there are students that aren’t happy with me. I try to be consistent and fair, but I’m not perfect.’

Andrew Youpee, 16, practiced basketball behind Wolf Point High School. A. Flanagan NYT

Over her grandmother’s objections, Ms. Fourstar wants to complete her high school education at a Native boarding school in Oregon. She sees the faraway school as the only way out of Wolf Point and the issues plaguing her community.”

Category: Education

Native Veterans Honor Their Culture and Fallen Comrades

“There are few things more pride inspiring than our native brothers and sisters reclaiming our love of country. These veterans danced their way around the circle in uniform at the Lame Deer Powwow in 2018.” C. Oestreich, Pow Wows

 Click Here to see the Warriors Dance

 

 

Manataka American Indian Council

Category: Culture, Holidays, Military

“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

Native Humor: Native Christmas Memes

“We all love the internet cannon fodder known as memes. Those sarcastic, funny, one-panel comic photos that people make and share on social media. Some are pretty famous even…here are a few Native-style, we found some, we made some.” V. Schilling, ICT

V. Schilling-ICT

Excerpt: Native Christmas memes and comics to get you into the holiday mood By Vincent Schilling, ICT

“In order to get you into the holiday spirit, albeit a bit spiced with a bit of sarcasm, here a a collection pf Native-themed Christmas memes or one panel comics we found or were made.

Meme V. Schilling: J. Anderson

If we have the photographer’s name we will include it, otherwise we found the meme in the annals of the internet. Enjoy! And happy holidays!”

V. Schilling ICT

 

Category: Holidays

Where is the “Thanks” for The Mashpee Wampanoags?

“A week before Thanksgiving, members of the same tribe who helped the pilgrims survive 400 years ago stood before the nation’s Capitol Building. But instead of celebrating, they spoke out against the Trump administration’s decision to take their reservation away.”  ICTMN

Mashpee Indians. Photo- newsmaven.io

Excerpt: Give Back Our Reservation: Mashpee Wampanoag…ICTMN

“Yesterday morning over 200 members of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, their allies, and supporters marched from the National Museum of the American Indian to the Capitol. They sang traditional songs, chanted slogans and held signs speaking out against the Department of the Interior’s September 7 announcement revoking the trust status of 321 acres of Mashpee land.

‘What we’re seeing is a direct assault and attack on Indigenous people’s sovereignty,’ Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell said. ‘And sovereignty’s a powerful word.’

The Department of Interior approved the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s application to put two parcels of land into trust status in 2015. The land in Mashpee and Taunton on Cape Cod would house a 123-unit elder and tribal housing facility and most notably a $1 billion casino and hotel complex.

Rival business owners and casino developers blocked this by suing the government, saying the tribe was not eligible to have land placed into trust according to a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Carcieri v. Salazar. In that case the Supreme Court ruled land could only be placed into trust status for tribes that were included in the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act.

In the Mashpee case, the court ruled in favor of the rival business owners and developers, saying the Mashpee Wampanoag didn’t receive federal recognition until 2007 and so were not eligible to have trust land. On September 7, the Department of Interior formally took the tribe’s land out of trust status… Mashpee Wampanoag Vice-Chair Jessie Little Doe Baird called on all tribes to fight the Department of Interior’s decision.

‘This is where we’re at. So I’m telling you today, if we don’t stand up together, not just say it and talk about it, but be about it, they’re coming for all of us. We can’t let that happen. And as a Mashpee Wampanoag woman and as an Indigenous person and as a human being-we need to stand together.’

U.S. Representative Bill Keating, D-Massachusetts, co-authored legislation to reaffirm the trust status, H.R. 5244 and S. 2628. He spoke of the bipartisan support the tribe has in Congress. ‘We’re here because the administration has made a decision to go in one direction and Congress is here to try and straighten that out,’ he said.

Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Massachusetts, and another author of the legislation, also spoke briefly about the unfairness suffered by the Department of Interior decision.

Additionally, five representatives from the National Congress of American Indians spoke in support of the Mashpee…Members of other tribes facing land into trust issues were honored, in particular the Mashantucket Piquot Tribe and the Narragansett Indian tribe, including Chief Dean Stanton, as well as tribes from Alaska.

Quinault Chair Fawn Sharp.newsmaven.io

Among the many tribal leaders who spoke, Quinault President Fawn Sharp from Washington gave perhaps the most passionate speech. She pointed out how our country, under the current administration, is moving toward an era of termination, which she compared to a pit filled with flawed beliefs.

A sign the voices are heard

As the Eastern Sons Drum Group led the gathering in the American Indian Movement honor song, people began pointing skyward. Circling high above, a hawk rode thermals, absorbing the prayers and carrying them to the spirits of our ancestors, evidence the gathering had power.

The tribe who once helped the Pilgrims survive their first, harsh winter, now ask the public to help them survive the current season of harsh termination practices brought on by an administration with little compassion for Native people and even less understanding of their cultures.”

 

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