Updated: 3 days 7 hours ago

Navajo Nation Mourns Loss of Code Talker Sidney Bedoni

June 12, 2014 - 12:00am

The Navajo Nation is in mourning....

Seen It Before: White Christians vs. Indian Pagans in 'Alone Yet Not Alone'

June 11, 2014 - 12:00am

On June 13, the Christian-owned Enthuse Entertainment will release Alone Yet Not Alone, a family-friendly telling of an 18th-century Indian captivity narrative.

The film sparked controversy in January 2014 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revoked an Oscar nomination for the movie's original song, citing improper campaigning by its composer, Bruce Broughton.

Regardless, a few Natives question what effect the film might have on today’s perceptions of Indians. 

Alone Yet Not Alone recounts the ordeal of sisters Barbara and Regina Leininger during the Seven Years' War, when Delaware Indians raided a Pennsylvania farm in 1755 and captured the two young girls (the “Penn’s Creek Massacre”).  Barbara, the eldest, escaped in 1759, and Regina was released in 1764.

"This story about the Leininger sisters is almost ho-hum," says Linda Poolaw, Grand Chief of the Delaware Nation Grand Council of North America.  Poolaw, 72, is a member of the Delaware Nation in Oklahoma.  She was raised in the First Baptist Church in Anadarko and says she’s still a Christian. 

"There was captivity going on everywhere.  It just wasn't these babes," Poolaw explains by phone from her home in Anadarko, Oklahoma.

Alone Yet Not Alone is based upon the novel by Tracy Leininger Craven, who says the story came from her ancestors' own accounts.  Barbara's version was first published in German in 1759 and translated into English in 1878.  In the movie, Barbara is played by Craven's sister Kelly Greyson.

The film functions as a Christian allegory: The two white Christian girls struggling to survive among their "dark pagan" Delaware captors. "Despite all obstacles, [the captives] do not forsake their faith in Jesus Christ and never 'lose the song of their heart'," Craven says on the movie's website.

But off camera, trouble brewed.  In 2013, Pastor Doug Phillips of the evangelical Boerne Christian Assembly in Texas resigned from his position at Vision Forum Ministries after confessing to an "inappropriate" relationship with a woman.  Phillips had published the first editions of Craven’s book and played the role of Colonel Mercer in the movie.  His scenes were removed and Vision Forum Ministries closed down.

The public furor prompted Native websites like Last Real Indians and Native Appropriations to question the movie’s skewed version of Indian history. 


Miss Indiana USA Mekayla Diehl Is 'Normal' ... and Native American!

June 11, 2014 - 12:00am

Sometimes being normal is exceptional—just ask Mekayla Diehl....

Video: Canada's Apology on Residential Schools Rings Hollow, AFN Says

June 11, 2014 - 12:00am

As Indigenous Peoples in Canada marked the sixth anniversary of the historic apology by Prime Minister Stephen Harper over the country’s residential schools program, aboriginal...

Mayan Pyramids, Crystal Caves and Cracking Coconuts in Belize

June 11, 2014 - 12:00am

Native culture thrives in Belize, a small Central American country bordering Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south. Although smaller than the state of Massachusetts, Belize boasts a population of more than 300,000 people and eight distinct racial groups.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or already acquainted with Belize, here are eight ways to encounter Native culture while you’re there:

Experience the simple life on one of the many islands—or cayes—off the east coast of Belize. Opportunities abound to learn how early residents of these islands lived and explored the Caribbean coast. Book a stay at International Zoological Expeditions on South Water Caye, and learn from Mayan guides how to crack open coconuts, identify native birds and wildlife and dive near the coral reefs.

Get to know the unique Garifuna culture through dance in the coastal town of Dangriga. The Garifuna are descendants from renegade African slaves who were shipwrecked in 1675 on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent. Lirahunu Satuye is a group of female dancers who tell stories about life and culture through movement, song, humor and audience participation.


Tester Aims to Fight Homelessness Among Native Veterans

June 11, 2014 - 12:00am

Senator Jon Tester is helping to launch a new initiative to fight homelessness among Native American veterans....

Video: Dancing Northern Lights Wow Minnesota

June 10, 2014 - 12:00am

Normally they’re known for tracking tornadoes and watching funnel clouds form, but on June 8 a couple of storm chasers ran into a tempest of a different sort....

Last of Original 29 Code Talkers Remembered for Courage and Humility

June 10, 2014 - 12:00am

Most people know, of course, that Chester Nez was a World War II code talker—one of the original 29, in fact, who developed the code that stymied Japanese forces and helped win the war in the Pacific.

But to understand the true measure of the man, let’s consider the whole package.

As a child, he was sent to boarding school, where he was given a new name and was forbidden to speak his language. Then, with the U.S. looking for a way to confound its wartime enemies, he and 28 other Navajo men were recruited to create an unbreakable code, using the language they had been punished for speaking, a language that had been unwritten and was spoken only by the Navajo.

The mission was top secret. He couldn’t talk about it—not with other Marines with whom he served; not with his family, even after the war; not with the paper-pusher back home who, when Nez applied for a civilian ID card, smugly told the decorated war veteran that he still was not a full citizen of the U.S.

When a battle was over, Marines in their division got R&R while Nez and his fellow code talkers shipped off to another battlefield: Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Peleliu.

And yet, Nez and his fellow code talkers didn’t complain.

They were the beneficiaries of ceremonies performed to protect them physically, emotionally and spiritually (American History magazine reported in 2006 that there was “surprisingly little evidence of serious psychological problems or combat fatigue among the returning Navajo veterans.”) Their uniforms had been blessed before they left home. On the battlefield, they carried medicine pouches containing an arrowhead and corn pollen. They prayed every day.

Sometimes, on the battlefield, Nez could hear the bells of the sheep back home and knew people there were praying for him. Indeed, in Chichiltah, his family did pray for him. They burned sage or cedar chips and fanned the smoke over their bodies and, Nez wrote in his memoir, “Their prayers were carried across the miles as the pure, bright chime of the bells.”

RELATED: Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII

The Way carried them through the endless battles and the constant threat and smell of death.

“They didn’t do it for the glory,” said Joe Price, whose namesake grandfather was a code talker. “They did it to defend their homeland—not just the United States, but the Navajo Nation.”

That was Chester Nez, whose remains were laid to rest with full military honors on June 10 at the national cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He walked on at the age of 93 on June 4. He was the last of the 29 original code talkers; ultimately, the ranks of code talkers numbered 421.

“We will always be grateful for his sacrifice and brave service for our country, and more importantly, for his selfless actions to protect our people and the great Navajo Nation,” Navajo Nation Speaker Pro Tem LoRenzo Bates said of Nez, in a statement posted on the nation’s website.


5 Essentials Chiefs Say Are Missing From First Nations Education Act

June 10, 2014 - 12:00am

The First Nations Education Act has officially been decreed defunct as far as Indigenous Peoples in Canada are concerned. The matter even took priority at a recent Assembly of First Nations meeting over replacing former National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, who resigned on May 2 in the furor over the legislation.

RELATED: Fallout Continues From Atleo Resignation as Education Act Put on Hold

On May 27 the chiefs passed a resolution calling on Canada, "based on the honour of the Crown to negotiate an agreement on new fiscal transfer payments to First Nations," according to the Canadian Press. They said the $1.9 billion in funding provided by Bill C-33, which is how the education act is known, should go straight to First Nations so they can apportion it themselves. Though 60 chiefs abstained, 121 voted in favor and none opposed it, the Canadian Press reported.

"Canada must withdraw Bill C-33 and engage in an honorable process with First Nations that recognizes and supports regional and local diversity leading to true First Nation control of education based on our responsibilities and inherent aboriginal and treaty rights,” said a statement from chiefs in Quebec and Labrador that they unanimously supported.

A few months earlier, in November 2013, Atleo wrote an open letter to the ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development outlining five essentials that needed to be addressed in First Nation education reform. Though Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt countered with a letter saying that all the conditions had in fact been met, most remaining chiefs still beg to differ. Here are the basics that need to be addressed in indigenous education, as written out by Atleo, who reiterated them in a position paper in April, just a few weeks before he resigned.

RELATED: First Nations Call Federal Education Act a Bust

1. Respects and recognizes inherent rights and title, Treaty rights, and First Nation Control of First Nation Education jurisdiction.

First Nations must retain all options to advance their education and all such agreements must be fully respected, enabled and supported; First Nations control and jurisdiction over First Nations education is required. Supporting this goal, First Nations must have sufficient capacity and support at the local level as well as for second and third level support.

This includes, first and foremost, respecting and upholding the treaties, the AFN said.

2. First Nations need a statutory guarantee for funding of education, enough money for Canada to meet its obligations.

“First Nations education requires funding that is stable, predictable and responsive to First Nations education,” the AFN said. “The elimination of gaps in funding is required.”


Connecticut Attacks Proposed Fed Rec Revisions, Fears Land Claims, Casinos

June 10, 2014 - 12:00am

Three Connecticut state recognized tribes, all of whom were denied federal recognition more than 10 years ago, have another chance to apply due to newly proposed federal recognition regulations, issued recently by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

One of the changes in the proposed regulations is an expedited positive ruling for state tribes that have held land since 1934. If the changes are approved, the Eastern Pequot, the Schaghticoke, and the Golden Hill Paugussett could now qualify for federal recognition, which would allow them to pursue many avenues of economic development and cultural revitalization. All have held land for hundreds of years.

Nedra Darling, spokeswoman for the BIA, said, “The proposed ‘expedited positive’ process is primarily to be used for petitions in which there is no serious challenge among the local community and state.” Connecticut’s congressional delegation has announced they will dispute the new regulations.

“We will fight like hell,” announced U.S. Congressional Representative Rosa DeLauro to attendees at an April 16, Woodbury, Connecticut Town Hall Meeting.

DeLauro said she was concerned about the tribe’s land claims and that, “The Golden Hill Paugussett could potentially make another play for homeowners homes, and this is not a scare tactic, I want to be upfront.”

The Golden Hill Paugussett and Schaghticoke have said they would be willing to exchange land claims to build casinos in Danbury and Bridgeport, Connecticut. The City of Bridgeport passed a referendum in support of casinos that could bring thousands of jobs to that impoverished city.

The state, however, is just saying no. DeLauro told the town hall meeting that additional casinos would void the compacts with the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans. Together the two tribes have brought more than $5 billion to the state, according to Connecticut State Senator Kevin Witkos.


Bad Wind Energy: When Built Illegally & Harming Indigenous Communities

June 10, 2014 - 12:00am

Indigenous communities in Chiapas are fighting against large wind energy projects by asserting their rights to their c...

Polar Bear Selfies! Watch Them Play, Flirt and Snack on Yummy Seals

June 9, 2014 - 12:00am

It has been done with eagles, cats, dogs and all manner of creatures....

NYC 'Gathering of Nations': Hustle, Bustle, Tainos and No Buses

June 9, 2014 - 12:00am

Just east of the Manhattan skyline, in an open field brimming with moccasins and iPhones and fry bread and Brooklyn brogues, Jose Quijano lugs a large drum to his sedan parked behind a cluster of trees. “I’m selling it,” he says. “$500.”

It’s late Sunday, the final day of the 20th annual Gateway to Nations New York City Native American Heritage Celebration and Pow Wow. Quijano is packing up his grass dancing regalia. He said he spent the weekend competing in the men’s grass dance category, but he knew that he wasn’t going to place going up against the burgeoning, limber young 20-somethings dipping and stretching and bopping to the deep rhythm of the drum groups encircling the dirt-grass arena.

Congregated around his car is Quijano’s family, his brother and sister – each one born in Puerto Rico and clad in red, white and blue. A pair of Puerto Rican flags on a nearby SUV whip in the breeze. In honor of Puerto Rican Heritage Day in New York – which was also Sunday – Quijano has tied a small Puerto Rican flag to the top of his roach in recognition of his people, he said.

Quijano is not only Puerto Rican. “We have Taino heritage,” he said. Quijano, of Brooklyn, said his parents moved his family to New York City in 1956. Soon after they settled, Quijano enrolled in the Boy Scouts, and it was there that he learned about Native America, about dancing and singing – it intrigued him.

“We used to get a regalia in the boy scouts (and dance), then after years boy scouts was not that cool anymore, so we started off-shooting from the boy scouts and (we’d) just go to the pow wows. Then we used to go sing and dance, compete – hoop dance, fancy dance.”

Quijano said no one in particular taught him or his siblings how to dance or to sing in the Native American way; they taught themselves by observation, he said.


Is This Shirt 'Racist'? A Tribe Called Red Threatened With Boycott

June 9, 2014 - 12:00am

Ian Campeau, better known as Deejay NDN of A Tribe Called Red, is an outspoken cultural critic, both as official mouthpiece of the DJ trio and a twitter provocateur....

Oshie vs. Price for a Chance at Olympic Hockey Gold

February 20, 2014 - 12:00am

On Friday at noon EST, the United States will play Canada in the Olympic men’s hockey semifinals. For Team USA it’s a chance for redemption after losing to Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. And for Canada—the country that invented the game, after all—it’s a chance to move one step closer to a record ninth gold medal in the sport.

But for Indian country, it’s a chance to watch two of the top Native hockey players go at it.

T.J. Oshie, Obijwe, a power forward on St. Louis Blues, became an instant hero after his shootout goal against Russia helped propel the U.S. to a spot in the quarterfinals. Carey Price, Ulkatcho First Nation, goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, has started—and won—three games for Team Canada in Sochi thus far.

"I'm just excited," Price told when he learned he’d be the starting goalie in the Olympics. "It's been a lingering thought, but this whole season I've been preparing one game at a time. That doesn't change once I get here. I've been preparing these last two days for this game [Thursday] and I'll just continue to do the same." 

Price saved 19 of 20 shots in Canada's 3-1 victory over Norway; 14 of 15 shots in the Canadians' 2-1 overtime win against Finland; and notched another 15 saves in a 2-1 win over Latvia.

Oshie, meanwhile, scored on four of his six shootout attempts against Russia to lead the Americans to a heart-stopping 3-2 win last Saturday. 

“It’s something you practice at the end of practice all the time, just kind of messing around,” Oshie told CBS Sports about his shootout against Russia. “I had to go back and maybe think of some different moves that I can do and maybe go back to some that I already did. It was a fun end.”


10 Ways to Tell: ‘You Know You're a Native Elder When…’

February 20, 2014 - 12:00am

As the years begin to pass us by and it seems there are more and more young ones running around at pow wows, how is it we know when we are becoming a Native Elder?

We decided to reach out to Indian country on social media by asking the following: Finish the following phrase: "You Know You're a Native Elder When…” we received hundreds of responses on our Facebook Page.

So if you were wondering if you might be a Native Elder check this list we have compiled below from the hundreds of comments we received. Then you too will be able to finish the phrase, You Know You're a Native Elder When…”

10. When all the kids call you Grandma or Grandpa, even if you are not related to them

Are you Grandma or Grandpa to every young person that you see? Even to those young ones you don’t recognize? Then you are definitely a Native Elder. If they are using auntie or uncle, you are getting close.

We have to give credit to Agnetha Gloshay on Facebook for coming up with this, the most popular comment with 76 likes and growing. A lot of folks also gave similar comments including 60-year-old Inupiaq elder, Lena Oksoktaruk-Wood who said everyone calls her grandma even though she doesn’t have grandkids.

9. You tell stories that contain “back in my day, when we were children” and usually end with ‘we played outside with a stick and imagination”

Yes, the good ole days…these words often may leave your lips if you are a Native Elder according to Heather Trevino Baroch from Great Falls, Montana. Other phrases also count like, “when the water was clean, when there were a lot more trees on the earth and before the white man came here.”

8. The ravens and eagles start to follow you everywhere

Trish Courtoreille from Lethbridge, Alberta gave us this pointer about Native elders. We think it might have something to do with the years of dedication toward respecting the world and the animals and now they are deciding it’s safe to hang around.

7. When you say “Young one,” and the whole tribe turns around.

If everyone in the tribe is younger than you and saying the words “Young One” causes every head to turn around, yes, you are a Native Elder. Thanks to Tonia Hart Roberts on our Facebook page for this one.

6. When your spirit animal or the animal in your name is extinct

“You know you’re an Indian Elder when the animal in your name is extinct!” Al Garza of Oceanside, California came up with this one. If your animal is on the endangered species list, it might be time to consider yourself an elder as well. (Worth a mention – Dan Bailey also commented - When the grizzly leaves you alone because you`re too tough to chew!)


Churches Off the Hook for Pedophilia; What’s Next for Survivors?

February 20, 2014 - 12:00am

For now, the Catholic Church in South Dakota—along with schools, religious orders and other churches and institutions—appears to be off the hook for sexual abuse that Native Americans say they suffered while attending Church-run boarding schools during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. On February 18, the state legislature’s Senate Judiciary Committee listened to statements for and against Senate Bill 130, which was intended to give their day in court to Native victims who’d had their lawsuits against the Church terminated after legislative action in 2010.

The 45-minute hearing pitted the survivors, all non-lawyers, against Catholic and Lutheran church attorneys. The committee chairman then requested that the victims produce legal documents they hadn’t been forewarned they’d need to show. Finally, the members voted 5-2 to kill the measure, while noting that they opposed sexual abuse of children and “felt for” the victims.

RELATED: Are Pedophiles Getting Free Pass in South Dakota?

One of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Troy Heinert, Rosebud Sioux, said he will talk to the survivors who came forward and to South Dakota’s House Judiciary Committee to see what options lie ahead. “I truly believe the survivors still have support. We’ve got to keep this issue moving, because a lot of people haven’t received justice.”

This is the second time the South Dakota legislature failed to remedy a 2010 bill that let institutions off the hook for abuse once the victim had turned 40; the first attempt was in 2012. The 2010 law, written by a Catholic Church lawyer, was passed after scores of middle-aged and elderly Native Americans sued the Church and individual perpetrators under the childhood-sexual-abuse statute of limitations in existence at the time.

“So many plaintiffs had come forward by 2010, the legislature was in panic mode,” said Heinert. “It passed a law that doesn’t allow for nuances among the cases.”

RELATED: South Dakota Legislature Quashes New Childhood-Sexual-Abuse Bill

Going into the meeting, some victims’ supporters criticized the bill’s draft language and claimed the measure, if passed into law, could have been construed to mean the opposite of what was intended. Speaking on background, an official of the legislature’s research council, which wrote the bill, admitted to ICTMN that it could have been better crafted.


Indigenous Leader Acquitted of Weapons Charges Connected to Protest

February 19, 2014 - 12:00am

Indigenous Honduran leader Bertha Cáceres, Director of the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was acquitted on possession of an illegal weapons charge on Tuesday, February 11 at the First Court of Law in Santa Barbara, Honduras.

RELATED: Honduran Military Kill Indigenous Protestor at Agua Zarca Project

The Honduran government had charged Cáceres with illegal possession of a weapon as a threat to the internal security of the state on May 24 of last year; on the previous day, May 23, police had removed protestors from the site of the contested Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project. Cáceres was one of the leaders of the protest, and they noted that the government had not consulted with the indigenous community before selling the property to Desarrollos Energeticos, SA (DESA), which made the sale illegal. COPINH had also released a press statement at the time saying that they considered the hydroelectric dam to be a threat to the environment as well as an attack against indigenous rights to control of their territory.

RELATED: Indigenous Leader of Protests Arrested Again in Honduras, New Charges

In this recent case COPINH noted that, “The Honduran government has recognized its error, and has abandoned judicial persecution in this case and accepts…the obligation of the Government of Honduras to respect international treaties that protect this activity and the right to culture and defense of indigenous territories.”

RELATED: Arrested Honduran Indigenous Leader Promises More Mega Projects Protests

The rights of the indigenous communities that are spelled out in international treaties was a very important aspect of this case said Paola Limon, an attorney with the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). CEJIL attorneys were part of the legal team that represented Cáceres in her precautionary measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Limon stated that the measures were granted by the IACHR immediately following the Coup in 2009 and have been maintained since that time in order to protect her life, “given the dangerous context in which environmental and human rights defenders carry out their activities in Honduras.”


Celebrating Killers: Yes, Natives Should Care About a Dead Black Teen

February 19, 2014 - 12:00am

The original inhabitants of Turtle Island are not an island. As much as we might want to pretend otherwise, we are not the remote tribes in the Amazon....