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Indigenous culture

Our Relatives’ Things

The other day, one of my granddaughters called and said, “Grandma, did you hear? They’re returning articles from a museum in Barre, Vermont, that belonged to our relatives that were massacred at Wounded Knee.” “What?” I said. “What kind of things?” She said, “Things they were wearing or had when they were murdered at Wounded Knee in 1890. There are even baby moccasins, and little kids’ moccasins in there. The soldiers took them off the bodies and they kept them in a museum all these years. Now they’re giving them back.” As descendants of survivors of Wounded Knee, it is our relatives’ things that we are talking about so it hit home really hard. What was in there that might have belonged to our relatives? Moccasins? A shirt? A shawl? Then she asked, “What do you think should happen to these things?”

How A Reservation School Graduates 100% Of Students

Kids in the hallway smile more than they have in the past. Laughs are a little louder than they once were, teachers say. Student pride – and the graduation rate – are on the upswing at Santee’s public school. School leaders trace that success to a new effort to teach the tribe’s culture – the very thing that the education system, generations ago, banned Santee Dakota students from learning. Now, a new cultural program immerses students in the tribe’s language, history and customs for as long as an hour each school day. The program, embraced by most teachers and students, has boosted student attendance and helped the iSanti Community School in Niobrara hit a perfect, 100% graduation rate two years running, school leaders say. This move to embrace the Santee culture at the main school on the Santee Dakota Reservation hasn’t always gone smoothly.

Struggle To Save Oak Flats Exposes Ravages Of Colonization, Capitalism

In 2014, Congress used a midnight rider added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to hand the Indigenous Sacred Land at Oak Flats in Arizona over to a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, Resolution Copper, to mine, which would destroy the land and pollute the local water. Apache Stronghold and its allies are fighting to protect the land and with it, their cultural identity and religious freedom. A new Bureau of Land Management report and conflict within the Ninth Circuit Court are promising for them. Clearing the FOG speaks with Dr. Wendsler Nosie, Sr. about the significance of Oak Flats and how it exposes the ways colonization and capitalism harm and threaten the existence of most people in the United States, not just the Native American population. Dr. Nosie discusses spirituality, ancient prophecies and the urgent need to work together to change course.

Nakani Native Program: Bringing Back Traditional Ways Of Healing

Nakani is a word that comes from the Tlingit language. Nakani is defined as a person, or entity, which serves as a connector and/ or go between for different people, places, and cultures. This is the role each member of Nakani’s Native Program tries to embody as they help bring together all tribal communities to learn from and about one another. This word is a perfect descriptor for its members and leadership. This description is also a perfect introduction to each of the members I interviewed for this article. Nakani Native Program has undergone many changes since it began as an offshoot of American Friends Service Committee, AFSC.  AFSC, is a non-profit Quaker organization founded by the Religious Society of Friends.

Mayans Call For International Action To Halt Violations Of Their Rights

The Mayan Council Chilam B'alam of the K'iches, the Mayan Council Komon Ajq'ijab', the National Coordinator of the Territories of Life Network (Coordinadora Nacional Red Territories de Vida), the National Ajq'ijab' Council "Oxlajuj Ajpop," and the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), inform the national and international communities that on May 4th, 2022 they presented a communication requesting urgent action by the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure.

Significant Washington Land Returned To The Colville Tribe

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.

Niskithe Prayer Camp Launched In Resistance To Development Project

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.

‘Spirit Of The Waters’ Totem Pole Journey Begins

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.

The World’s First Ohlone Restaurant Is Opening Soon At UC Berkeley

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.

Decolonizing The Healthcare System

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.

Indigenizing The Airwaves

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.

Cherokee Nation Helps Launch United Nations’ International Decade Of Indigenous Languages

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.

Climate Change: Navajo Nation Faces Drought, Fire, Flooding

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.

Stoney Nakoda Language Resources Launched To Preserve Language

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.

Bridging Cultural And Political Gaps Through Indigenous First Foods

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.
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