Friday, December 2, 2011

Indigenous News 12/2/2011

Bernardo Gallegos

7:47pm Dec 1


Only Approved Indians is the thirteenth book by Forbes, but the first one featuring fiction. In these stories he captures the remarkablebreadth and variety of American Indian life. Drawing on his skills as scholarand native activist, and, above all, as artist, Forbes enlarges our senseof how American Indians experience themselves and the world around them.

Though all the main characters are of Indian descent, each is a unique combinationof tribal origin, social status, age, and life-style--from native elderand college professor to lesbian barmaid and Chicano adolescent. Neverthelessthe U.S. government (and perhaps white society as a whole) narrows the definitionof "Indian." In the title story, for example, two basketball teamsbegin fighting when one accuses the other of lacking BIA status-governmentrecognition. When tournament officials disqualify the team that lacks "official"Indian players, the "approved" team celebrates its victory.

Forbes's characters want to be unique, but they must struggle for this right,and they must endure pain. Forbes shows how such quests can have personaland political motives and can meet with success or failure and how thosewho search for individual identity must reckon with the identity of theirgroup. Thus, in retelling the story of the Seminole War, Injun Joe caststhe Indians, not the whites, as victors. He cannot rewrite history, butby recreating it he can come to terms with a painful legacy. Imaginationis equally important to other characters: even when they cannot achievechange, they can envision it.

Professor Forbes, chair of Native American Studies and professor of anthropologyat the University of California, Davis, was born in Long Beach and grewup in El Monte and Eagle Rock. He has lived in Davis since 1969. He attendedthe University of Southern California, earning A.B., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees,the latter in history with a minor in North American ethnology. Forbes workedhis way through college, serving on the fire crew of the Lassen NationalForest and driving trucks for Meadow Gold Dairies. In 1960 he joined thefaculty at California State University, Northridge. There he received aGuggenheim Fellowship and then in 1964 moved north to the University ofNevada, Reno.

In 1967 he assumed the post of Research Program Director at the Far WestLaboratory for Educational Research and Development in Berkeley. He thenbecame a professor at U.C. Davis in 1969. In 1981-82 he was named a FulbrightVisiting Professor at the University of Warwick, England, and in 1983-84he was honored with the Tinbergen Chair at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam.In 1986-87 he served as a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Social Anthropology,Oxford University, England.

Of Powhatan, Delaware and other background, Professor Forbes became veryactive in Native American affairs very early, organizing the Native AmericanMovement in 1961. In 1960 he formed the American Indian College Committeewith Navajo artist Carl Gorman and others to create proposals for an Indianuniversity. At Cal State Northridge he developed a proposal for an AmericanIndian Studies program in 1960, ten years ahead of its time. In 1967 hewas a co-founder of the California Indian Education Association and in 1971of D-Q University, the Indian college near Davis. From 1968 through 1969Forbes was a co-organizer of United Native Americans in the Bay Area andserved as editor of Warpath. During the same period and later heserved as editior of the Powhatan newspapers Tsen-Akamak and Attam-Akamik.

Forbes' published writings include twelve books, over twenty short booksand monographs, ninety-five scholarly articles, over one hundred populararticles, numerous short stories, and poems. His first book, Apache,Navaho and Spaniard, remains in print after thirty-two years. Columbusand Other Cannibals is the current culmination of Forbes' thinking aboutthe ultimate social causes of aggression and exploitation and about NativeAmerican philosophical beliefs. His earliest version of the book was sketchedout in 1976 and published in a preliminary version in 1978.

The stories in Only Approved Indians open our eyes to the injusticesof this world but at the same time they reveal magic and provide transcendentvisions of the world as it might be. It is published by University of OklahomaPress (ISBN: 0-8061-2699-X, March 1995).


Historic Breaking News: A Child's Remains and other bones have been identified at Canada’s oldest Indian residential school in Brantford, Ontario - please post
>>An International Media Release from the Mohawk Nation and The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS) - November 29, 2011
>>A Child's Remains and other bones have been identified at Canada’s oldest Indian residential school
>>in Brantford, Ontario:
>>A Statement from the Kanien'keha':ka Nation of the Grand River
>>Archaeological surveys and test digs authorized by we, elders of the Kanien'keha:ka Nation, have been conducted at the former Mohawk Institute Indian residential school since October 1.
>>This past week, while on the grounds of the school, our researchers along with Kevin Annett -Rawennatshani, who acts with our approval, have unearthed what has been described as human remains. One bone among sixteen uncovered has been identified, through preliminary visual examination by a competent archaeologist, as that of a young child. This bone sample is described by the same archaeologist as “definitely human”.
>>A test dig in a twenty square foot area on grounds adjoining the former Mohawk Institute have revealed a considerable number of bones, as well as buttons which have been confirmed to be part of the children's school uniforms. Large deposits of coal were also found associated with these remains, all at a depth of barely two feet. Several of the bones have also been cut up, suggesting that the bodies may have been deliberately dismembered, while other bones were broken.
>>We declare the area on and near the former Mohawk Institute to be a crime site under our jurisdiction, and we will not allow representatives of the Crown or Church of England, or the government of Canada, access to these excavations because of their complicity in this crime.
>>These institutions have consistently refused to disclose the evidence they possess regarding the Mohawk Institute and the deaths of children under their legal care, and therefore, we are proceeding to charge these bodies with crimes against humanity in international courts of justice, based in part on the forensic evidence we have uncovered.
>>We now call upon our community and the world to rally behind our efforts to bring recognition to the remains of children buried on the Mohawk Institute grounds, and our work to excavate this site. Prior to any possible repatriation of these remains, and because these remains may include children from other indigenous nations, we look to those nations to participate with us in this work and welcome their input, and we urge them to begin their own excavations at local Indian residential schools.
>>We appeal to other nations to send archaeological and forensic specialists and international observers and peacekeepers to our territory to operate under our Mohawk jurisdiction, to assist with our inquiry and protect the burial sites until the remains can be accorded a proper burial according to our diverse traditions. Until these experts arrive to conduct a professional archeological excavation of these graves, we are temporarily suspending our excavations.
>>As our investigation continues, the bone samples will be subjected to further forensic tests, and this data about the human remains uncovered at the Mohawk Institute will be prepared in a final report to be delivered in the spring of 2012 to human rights courts and Parliamentarians in Europe, as part of a campaign to bring charges of genocide against the Crown of England, the government of Canada, the Anglican Church in Canada and other guilty parties.
>>The Mohawk Institute inquiry is held under the auspices of the Onkwehon:we (Mohawk) Nation and Kevin Annett (Rawennatshani) of the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State, who has our full authority and protection.
>>For more information contact us at 519-757-3624 or at or
>> * Piece of humerus or tibia of a young child
>> * Probable piece of spine of an adolescent
>> * Frank Miller, Mohawk Nation, and Kevin Annett, ITCCS, announce findings
>>Read the truth of genocide in Canada and globally at:
>>This email is hosted by Jeremiah Jourdain on behalf of the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS) and Kevin Annett - Eagle Strong Voice (adopted May 2004 into the Anishinabe nation by Louis Daniels - Whispers Wind).
>>Kevin can be reached at or - and phone messages can be left for him at 250-591-4573 (Canada).


If Obama Is Serious About American Indians, He'll Offer More Than Eagle Feathers
By Andrew Cohen

Dec 2 2011, 10:15 AM ET3

It's a nice gesture to reassure tribes about their religious use of eagle feathers -- but if that's the best the Administration can do for American Indians, it's not enough

President Barack Obama meets with American Indian leaders this afternoon in Washington but, on the law front, it's already been a tough year for the tribes. In February, the president nominated Arvo Mikkanen, an Ivy-educated Native American, to a spot as a federal trial judge in Oklahoma. He would be only the third documented Native American federal judge in U.S. history. But GOP Senator Tom Coburn immediately blocked the nomination and, nine months later, Mikkanen still hasn't received a hearing, much less a floor vote. Worse, no one in Washington seems to care.

Then, in June, the United States Supreme Court stuck it to American Indian interests in a case styled United States v. Jicarilla Apache Nation. In a 7-1 decision, the Court ruled that the U.S. could withhold from lawyers for the Jicarilla Apache Nation hundreds of documents that may be relevant to the tribe's long-standing mismanagement claims against the feds. Justice Samuel Alito justified the decision by reminding his audience that the relationship between the feds and the tribe was less about trusteeship and more about power.

In the first instance, Congress failed to do right by Native American interests. When asked why he so quickly denounced the Mikkanen nomination, Sen. Coburn told reporters in February, "I know plenty." Yet he has never had to explain what he knows or why it is enough to sink Mikkanen's candidacy. In the second instance, it's the judicial branch that has failed American Indian iterests. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor called out the High Court majority in Jicarilla. She said that Justice Alito's opinion "rests on false factual and legal premises."

So what is the other branch of government, the executive branch, doing for Native Americans as 2011 comes to a close? Is the White House pushing for Mikkanen to get a hearing? No. Is it pushing Congress to help change the procedural rules in Indian trust cases so that American Indian litigants can have more access to federal documents that pertain to their claims against federal officials? No. Those things would involve the expenditure of political capital -- and the administration has shown repeatedly its unwillingness to spend in this area.

Instead, the Obama Administration is looking inward. This week came news that five American Indians have been named to an Indian Trust Commission that will help suggest reforms to the odious federal management of Indian trusts. The effort is expected to take two years, at a minimum, and of course won't be the final word. And, today, President Obama will go to the Interior Department to participate in the White House Tribal Conference, to which over 550 Native American tribes were invited. He will no doubt talk about his Administration's devotion to Indian interests.

Devotion which is quite underwhelming. Just last month, for example, the Justice Department announced that it is "considering whether to adopt a formal policy that would memorialize and clarify its practice of enforcing federal wildlife laws in a manner that respects and protects the ability of members of federally recognized tribes to use eagle feathers and other bird feathers for cultural and religious purposes." Amid the rubble of Jicarilla and Mikkanen, the feds want to quietly reassure Tribal members that they won't be prosecuted as often for dealing in eagle feathers.

Here is the full text of the government's proposal. The deadline for comments is today. The Justice Department specifically asked for comment on whether a formal new written policy would "help allay the concerns of tribal members" or at least "provide useful clarification" to them about the government's attempt at delicate balancing here between religious practices and wildlife protection. And there's another, related proposal, which aims "to develop a joint federal and tribal training program on enforcement of such laws."

Such laws as the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Enacted in 1940, it was amended in 1962 to include an exception that allowed for Native Americans to use eagles or eagle parts in their religious ceremonies. It is illegal for anyone to kill or harm these protected birds. But the market still exists for their feathers. Earlier this year, for example, the 10th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals refused to extend the religious exemption to a non-Indian who claimed he had a right to eagle feathers based upon his own American Indian religious beliefs.

From the Denver Post piece on that ruling:

Federal regulations provide the exception only to members of recognized tribes who obtain permits and feathers from the National Eagle Repository in Commerce City, which stores feathers and parts harvested from dead eagles by wildlife authorities.

Demand exceeds supply, and the waits for feathers or eagle parts are long. The feathers and parts aren't transferable, except when handed down from a generation to the next, by one Indian to another.
So what do Native American voices, or at least voices that study Native American issues, think about all the Justice Department's overture? Kenny Frost, an Elder and Sun Dance Chief with the Ute Nation, told me Thursday that he is in favor of the new rules so long as they bring a swifter pace to the legitimate eagle feather trade. "There needs to be clarification" about who can be prosecuted, Frost said, because the uncertainty helps cause great delay in getting feathers to Native people who want them for their choreographic healing ceremonies.

"It takes six or seven years to go through the Repository," Frost said. "The wait creates a hardship. There needs to be a much more streamlined process so that Native Americans who wish to do so can obtain eagle feathers or eagle parts." Frost plans to make that point in comments he intends to file with the Justice Department. "The people who sell eagle feathers for profit are the ones who ought to be prosecuted," Frost says. "We don't take lightly when we hold or carry feathers. We value them greatly."

Professor Tim Pleasant, co-director of an Indian Law program at the University of Tulsa College of Law, frames the issue in a way in which many more of us can related. When I asked I asked him to tell me if the Justice Department's move was good or bad, he replied:

Especially since, historically, the Department of Justice hasn't had a lot of respect for Indian religion and culture, the fact that it is pro-actively reaching out to Native Americans while shaping policy on this issue is very much to the credit of the Department. Of course, not every Tribe sees this issue the same way... to some, the use of eagle feathers, claws, etc., is more important than to others. But it is important to realize just how sensitive this issue can be. Asking an Indian to go to the federally controlled Repository to get eagle feathers can be like telling the Jewish side of my family that they would have to go get a federally approved menorah with which to celebrate Hanukkah, or requiring a Catholic to get a government-supplied rosary... and making them wait three years or more to get them.

Meanwhile, G. William Rice, a co-director of the Native American Law Center, took a broader view. Of the Justice Department's effort, he wrote

Perhaps the most positive statements in this release are the suggestions that the Interior and Justice Departments are willing to work separately with each Tribe, Band, and Nation on enforcement matters so that their particular practices will be respected. That respectful cooperative approach should be encouraged, and every effort made to do so in a manner that meets the minimum standards expressed in the recent United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

My call to the Office of Tribal Justice was not returned. I meant to ask Christopher Chaney, the deputy director there, whether the feds believe that merely reducing the current policy to writing will solve the problems Frost identified. Formalizing existing policy isn't a dramatic break from the past, after all, and the long-term solution here rests with Congress. Native Americans who want eagle feathers for religious services should not have to wait "six or seven years" to get them. But will the DoJ's bookkeeping move really help fix that? I am not sure.

Congress is no friend of the American Indian. Surely this Supreme Court isn't, either. And there was a need to clarify the rules on eagle feathers. But is this really the best President Obama can do? I hope an American Indian leader says to President Obama today at the White House: "Don't worry so much about adopting 'a formal policy that memorializes' common prosecution practice; worry more about why there are still only two federal judges in American history who were or are of Native American descent."

That, and not the trading of eagle feathers, is the sorrowful American Indian story of 2011.


Reclaim Land For Buffalo And Lakota Lifeways.

The Knife Chief Buffalo Nation, a grassroots project on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, works to reclaim 1800 acres of ancestral lands for restoring buffalo, and Lakota culture and lifeways.

Home to 26,000 members of the Lakota Tribe, the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, is the 2nd poorest US county. Currently a majority of reservation land is leased by the US government to non-tribal members, with tribal landowners only receiving 50 cents to $3 an acre/year. Reclaiming large acreage and restoring buffalo connects the Lakota with our ancestral lands and reintroduces our youth to cultural traditions and the buffalo while increasing our food and economic self-sufficiency.

Protecting 1800 acres for buffalo restoration involves building 7 miles of fence & installing 2 windmills for pumping water. This increases our herd by 45 buffalo and employs 12 tribal members during construction, and 3 permanently. A larger herd means distributing 2800 lbs of meat to our elders and for use at our community programs, and generating an additional $21,000/year. Hosting Cultural Camps reconnects dozens of youth each year to cultural and lifeways programs led by our Lakota elders.

Buffalo reproduce each year (90% success rate). More buffalo means more income and more youth connected to our traditional lifeways. With the needed capital, we can reclaim more of our ancestral lands from non-tribal leasees. Restoring the vital dynamic between our land and culture can, over time, build a viable, sustainable economy based on our remaining natural resources, which in turn, creates more self-determination and resiliency.

We are very fortunate to have the Pte Oyate (buffalo) back among the people. The generations to come will be spiritually stronger as a result.
- Caretaker - Edward Iron Cloud III, Project Manager

Click here to become a supporter

"When crazy people call you crazy, you know you're sane.

When evil people call you evil, you know that you are a good person.

When lairs call you a liar, you know that you are truthful.

Know who you are and don't let others tell you who you are." - Dave Kitchen

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