In Washington state, nestled in a habitat corridor linking the Cascades to the Rockies, in the heart of the Tunk Creek Valley, there’s a conservation story that is closely tied to the peoples connected to this land—and continues to breathe with the transfer of Indigenous lands back to the original stewards. It takes place on a large ranch, owned by the Figlenski family for over four generations, who have their own stories connected to the valley. As generations of the Figlenski family began to pass away, Ernie Figlenski knew he’d only let go of the property under the conditions it would still be intact as well as healthily managed—unlike some nearby properties that have been broken apart and transferred without preservation in mind.
Lincoln, Nebraska - On May 2nd, in so-called Lincoln, Nebraska, the Niskithe Prayer Camp was established in opposition to the “Wilderness Crossing development project, which would significantly encroach on sacred Native American purification/sweat ceremonies and disrupt an existing pristine nature park.” According to Nebraska Public Media: Lincoln City Council approved a housing development for 162 single-family homes, 134 townhomes, and 205 apartments near Wilderness Park in Lincoln, across from the only two Native American sweat lodges within the city, last week. Now, a group of Native American community members set up a prayer camp on the approved land in protest. Seven native teepees surround Native Americans while they burn cedar and pray for the sanctity of the sweat lodges across the street. In the 1970s, Chief Leonard Crow Dog set up those lodges on private land surrounding Wilderness Park for Native Americans to hold traditional ceremonies, pray, and heal.
The 2,300-mile journey highlights the vital role of the Snake River, salmon and orca to the lifeways and identities of tribal communities in the region. The updated pole, created by House of Tears Carvers, will travel for 17 days through tribal and metropolitan communities in Washington, Oregon and Idaho to advocate for the removal of dams on the Lower Snake River and for the health of salmon and orca. Sponsored by Se’Si’Le (pronounced saw-see-lah) — an inter-tribal nonprofit aimed at reintroducing Indigenous spiritual law into the mainstream conversation about climate change and the environment — the Spirit of the Waters Totem Pole Journey informs and engages Pacific Northwest communities through inter-generational voices, ceremony, art and science, spirituality, ancestral knowledge and cross-cultural collaboration.
Dolores Lameira Galvan, 91, remembers hearing from her mother, aunts and uncles about their time working as housekeepers and laborers at Phoebe Apperson Hearst’s opulent mansion in what is now Pleasanton. She still prefers not to speak of the time her Ohlone family spent as servants on what had been the Indigenous people’s own land, says her nephew, Vincent Medina. For the Ohlone, it represents just one painful chapter in hundreds of years’ worth of trauma and loss in the East Bay and beyond. But decades later, Medina is working to reclaim his tribe’s history by opening the world’s first Ohlone restaurant in a space that carries the Hearst name. Cafe Ohlone, which he started as a pop-up with partner Louis Trevino in 2018, will debut in June at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.
Mainstream healthcare is historically a twisted, uneven, financially debilitating, and constrictive path forcing incomplete ideals that do not always consider the person as a whole or the health of that individual in their totality. Specialties compartmentalize the body, concentrating on stabilizing a part without the care to follow through to care for the complete person’s needs. To often forgotten, emotional, and spiritual healing is often completely disregarded and not seen as necessary for a truly holistic recovery. The fact is today’s westernized approach of and on “holistic” healthcare is the colonizing of and plundering from many different cultures, fragmented, incomplete. Anything beyond the organ, bone, or system outside of the “specialty” team’s expertise is often given a referral or disregarded completely.
For over 50 years, the Daybreak Star Cultural Center at Discovery Park has been a space for local Native Americans to connect and celebrate their culture. Whether gathering to attend their annual powwow or Indigenous People’s Day celebration, or perhaps visiting art exhibits or attending one of their many cultural events throughout the year, Natives of all ages, and from multiple tribes across the nation, have shared laughs, stories, tears, traditions, artwork and meals with one another at Daybreak Star. The cultural center has earned a special place in the hearts of many. The Daybreak Star Cultural Center is headquarters to the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 1970, when a collective of over 100 urban Seattle Natives reclaimed Indigenous land near the Magnolia neighborhood, which would then become Discovery Park.
The Cherokee Nation hosted the launch of the United Nations’ International Decade of Indigenous Languages in Tahlequah last week. The three-day event featured language leaders from around the world, both in person and virtually, to share information and best practices on language preservation efforts. The 10-year initiative continues the work of the United Nations General Assembly’s 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, drawing attention to the critical loss of Indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote them. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. opened the event with a welcome, and Special Envoy for International Affairs and Language Preservation Joe Byrd offered a blessing.
Gallup, New Mexico — It’s an overcast, windy November day as Zachariah Ben stands tall over the small, folding table at a local flea market. His tsiiyééł sits low on his neck and it’s clear that his dark brown hair is very long. Before him, on a black-and-white Pendleton blanket, sit two products — Bidii Baby Food and neeshjizzii — that share a common element, naadą́ą́, or corn. He’s already sold out of tádídíín, or corn pollen, this year, which sells fast during the summer and fall. But tádídíín is not the only thing missing from the table. Over the summer, he offered a variety of melons grown at Ben Farms, owned and operated by his family, at different flea markets in the Four Corners area on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Stoney Education Authority (SEA), with support from The Language Conservancy, is releasing historic Stoney Nakoda language learning resources this December. This release includes three picture books, a Level 1 textbook, and an alphabet colouring book. The release also includes several digital resources: a 9,000-word web and mobile dictionary, a textbook-accompanying media player app, and a vocabulary-building app.
A city isn’t the most likely place for an Indigenous crop revival. But across the greater Portland area in Oregon, municipalities like Metro and the City of Portland have been partnering with organizations and tribes to promote Native American land access and cultivation of first foods, the term used for traditional local foods that have nourished Indigenous people for centuries. In a city park, a drained lakebed, an old grazing lot, and along an urban creek, first foods are returning to areas where they once flourished before the land was covered by farms and urban sprawl. The partnerships are historically significant, considering Portland didn’t even allow Native Americans to live within city limits until 1920.
Lower Lafitte, Louisiana — The blades of grass are just beginning to push through the thick, marsh mud in Russell Rodriguez’s yard as the mid-October sun beats down on southeastern Louisiana. A bald eagle soars high above the tall trees. Morning rays glimmer off the rippling waters of nearby Barataria Bayou as it pushes toward the Gulf of Mexico. It would be idyllic if not for the widespread destruction. Homes are wrecked, pushed off their pylons and shattered. Fishing boats are upended onto dry land. Coffins washed out of local cemeteries sit cracked open, the bones inside still waiting to be claimed. It’s more than Rodriguez can take. After decades in lower Lafitte about 65 miles south of New Orleans, he and his wife are leaving their home and their neighbors of the United Houma Nation for higher ground.
An interview with the guard leaders of the Peasant, Cimarrona and Indigenous communities about the processes they have implemented since the beginning of the National Strike in Colombia. For them, self-justice goes beyond exercising authority; it means protecting their territory and the lives of those who inhabit their lands. The National Popular Assembly (NPA) that took place on July 17–19 at the University of Valle, in Cali, was systematically targeted and sabotaged by public forces. But, the intervention of the Cimarrona, Indigenous and farmer community guards and the front-line protesters guaranteed a safe and peaceful space for the meeting. "Police officers know how to treat others as police officers, a guerrilla as a guerrilla, and the paramilitary as the paramilitary," said Manuel Correa, "(...) they each have their own ideology, but they are far removed from the cosmovision of the black people."
Corpus Christi — On the sandy shore of the Gulf, a small group formed a circle and began to sing through the August heat. Some played ceremonial drums, and two others held a large painted canvas that read, “SAVE CORPUS CHRISTI BAY.” Of the dozen people who prayed, sang and spoke in the circle that day, three women were representing a people that most Texas history books claim are extinct. They’re part of a small but growing group of Indigenous people who call themselves Karankawa Kadla — “kadla” means culturally mixed, and Karankawa is the name of a people who, for several centuries, controlled a more than 300-mile stretch of the Gulf Coast shore from approximately present-day Galveston Bay south to Corpus Christi Bay.
Cetan Sa Winyan, director of the American Indian Movement’s Indian Territory Oklahoma chapter, said all tribes -- not just the four already petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court -- should stand together against potential changes to the Indian Child Welfare Act in a case the court has been asked to review. “They closed the boarding schools and opened up CPS (Child Protective Services), but it’s the same thing -- they’re still coming in and taking our children,” Winyan said. The ICWA was enacted in 1978 to help keep Indigenous children in Indigenous homes. In ICWA cases, the first preference for placement is that the child go to an extended family member, even if the relative is non-Native. Second preference is someone within the child’s tribe; third preference is another tribe.