Saturday, December 31, 2005

Forces Clash on Tribal Lands

BLACK MESA, Ariz. - The gigantic earth-moving crane sits idle, a 5,500-ton behemoth stilled by a legal, cultural and environmental dispute playing out far from the rich vein of coal beneath the desert of remote northeastern Arizona.

The rig, known as a dragline, may never again scrape the earth's surface at the Black Mesa Mine to get at the coal beneath the Hopi and Navajo lands.

Some welcome the idling of the earth-gobbling beast, a symbol, they say, of the rape of the land and precious water below. Others, mostly American Indians who have come to depend on the high-paying jobs at the mine, are furious.

For 35 years, the Black Mesa Mine has produced coal for a power plant in southern Nevada. But it suspended operations at the end of December, ending the jobs of nearly 200 people.

Most of them are members of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe whose livelihood and dreams depend on work at the mine, jobs that pay as much as $80,000 a year in wages and benefits, 10 times the average annual income on the reservations.

The mine is ceasing work indefinitely because the sole power plant it supplies, the Mohave Generating Station 273 miles away in Laughlin, Nev., is shutting down under a legal agreement with environmental groups that sued because of repeated pollution violations.

Senecas Add Hotel to Niagara Falls Casino

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y., Dec. 30 - The new Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel does not just dominate the skyline of the one-time Honeymoon Capital of the World. For all practical purposes, the 26-story glass-and-steel building, which officially opened on Friday, is the skyline on the American side of the Niagara River.

The 26-story Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel is at the end of Falls Street in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Jutting from land owned by the Seneca Nation in downtown Niagara Falls and adjoining the Senecas' existing casino, the $240 million hotel and its colored glass and lights, arrayed in American Indian patterns, contrasts sharply with the decaying neighborhoods that surround it.

"People have been coming here for years, and the place looked like it looks," said David Rosenwasser, the president and chief executive of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation. "Now, there's a sign of life, and it's so large it subliminally sends a message."

To residents and business owners, the message is mixed.

Proponents mention the 1,000 jobs created by the hotel, bringing the work force of the city's largest employer to about 3,000. The city receives a share of the revenue, $14 million in 2004.

But owners of many local restaurants and bars say they have lost regular customers to the casino. "It just hurts when you hear people say, 'I went to the casino and had a free meal and a drink,' " said Kathy Lewis, who owns Kelly's Korner, a neighborhood restaurant and tavern about five miles from the casino. "You didn't have a free meal or drink - you might have lost $100 to get that bottle of beer."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Homeless for Over a Century, a Tribe Awaits U.S. Redemption

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Here at the base of a rise called Hill 57, a steady, cold wind blows on a cloudless day as James Parker Shield and Russ Boham tell of life for the landless Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

James Parker Shield helps lead an effort by the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians to win federal recognition, which would mean money to buy land.
The tribe, its land taken away more than a century ago, squatted in Great Falls and elsewhere in north-central Montana through the late 1960's, living as many as 12 to a tar-paper shack without plumbing, and scavenging at the dump for scrap metal, rags and food. Parents often ran afoul of state child welfare officials. "They'd see you sleeping in a car body and take you away from your family," said Mr. Boham, who, like Mr. Shield, was among those shipped to the state orphanage when he was a child.

Today, with most of its members living in public housing around Great Falls, Mr. Shield and Mr. Boham are leading a protracted fight for government recognition of the tribe. Recognition would allow their people to gain control of federal money to buy land here for a tribal headquarters and housing, and to win back a measure of dignity.

The 112 families led by Chief Little Shell lost their North Dakota homeland to the government in 1892 when a chief of the Pembina Chippewa signed away their rights to it, without their authority and in their absence. The Little Shell had left home, in the Turtle Mountain area, to go hunting, and an Indian agent forced the other Chippewa to accept the Ten Cent Treaty - so called by Indians because it bought about 10 million acres of Chippewa land, including that of the Little Shell, for a million dollars.

Ever since, the Little Shell have known only diaspora.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Democrat Returning Donations From Abramoff's Tribal Clients

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 - The ranking Democrat on the Senate committee investigating the Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff announced on Tuesday that he was returning $67,000 in political contributions from Mr. Abramoff's former partners and Indian tribe clients.

The lawmaker, Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, has been accused of hypocrisy by Republicans for having not acknowledged the contributions from Mr. Abramoff's clients while at the same time sharply criticizing him in hearings of the Senate panel, the Indian Affairs Committee.

"Even though those contributions were legal and fully reported as required by law, I will not knowingly keep even one dollar in contributions if there is even a remote possibility that they could have been the result of any action Mr. Abramoff might have taken," Mr. Dorgan said in a statement emphasizing that he had never received a direct contribution from Mr. Abramoff himself.

Mr. Abramoff is now the subject of a federal grand jury investigation in Washington focused on whether his lobbying operation corrupted public officials, including members of Congress, to get them to perform official acts for Indian tribes and their gambling operations. His former lobbying partner Michael Scanlon pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to bribe public officials.

While Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon urged their Indian tribe clients to shower most of their political contributions on Republicans, they also urged the tribes to be generous with some Democrats, including Mr. Dorgan and others who might be able to assist on legislation that the tribes sought. Mr. Dorgan has served on the Indian Affairs Committee since 1993.

The senator has been the focus of recent articles by The Associated Press into the timing of a series of contributions from Indian tribes and actions he took that were seen as favorable to them. His decision to return the money was first disclosed in an interview with The Forum, a newspaper in Fargo, N.D., that published an account of it Tuesday.

In his statement, Mr. Dorgan described Mr. Abramoff as a "corrupt individual who bilked Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars." He said, "I have never met Jack Abramoff, I have never received a political contribution from him, and I have never knowingly received one that was directed by him." A spokesman for Mr. Abramoff had no immediate response.

A spokesman for Mr. Dorgan, Barry E. Piatt, said the senator had directed his staff to review donations both to his campaign committee and to his political action committee, the Great Plains Leadership Fund, and return any from Mr. Abramoff's former tribal clients or former lobbying partners.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Earliest Known Maya Painting Found

Archaeologists reported yesterday that they had uncovered a masterpiece of Maya art showing a surprisingly early flowering of the civilization, well before the classical period that began after A.D. 250.

The find, a 30-by-3-foot mural in vivid colors depicting the ancient culture's mythology of creation and kingship, is the centerpiece of a larger mural, parts of which were first discovered and exposed in Guatemala four years ago. New radiocarbon tests revealed the painting to be 200 years older than originally estimated, dating to about 100 B.C.

"In Western terms," said William Saturno, an archaeologist at the University of New Hampshire who is a research associate at Harvard, "it's like knowing only modern art and then stumbling on a Michelangelo or a Leonardo."

In a statement released by the National Geographic Society, a supporter of the research, Dr. Saturno wrote, "The mural shows that early Maya painting had achieved a high level of sophistication and grace well before the great works of the Classic Maya in the seventh century." The mural appeared to have extended around all four walls of the chamber, only two of which were standing when archaeologists excavated the site, known as San Bartolo. The western wall was the centerpiece, the wall that people faced as they entered the room. The mural there shows two coronation scenes: one mythological, the other the coronation of a real king.

The first part of the mural illustrates the Maya creation story. Four deities represent the creation of water, land, sky and paradise. At the center, the maize god crowns himself king. Archaeologists said they were having trouble deciphering the glyphs of the much earlier Mayan script.

Karl Taube of the University of California, Riverside, a member of the research team and an expert on Maya art, said the murals provided an unparalleled view of the early development of Maya mythology and art. The painting is on a flat plaster surface and is composed of a greater variety of colors - oranges and yellows, grayish blues, gray, red - than the previously uncovered section.

"All too often, such artifacts are broken or heavily eroded," Dr. Taube said. "In contrast, the murals at San Bartolo are in brilliant polychrome."

Archaeologists are at a loss to understand the role the chamber had in Maya culture. Dr. Saturno suggested that it could have been the room - something like the greenroom in television studios - where the king rehearsed his public performances reinforcing his mythic right to rule.

In recent excavations at San Bartolo, Mónica Pellecer Alecio, a Guatemalan archaeologist, found what experts say is the oldest known Maya royal burial.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Medicine Men Help Care for Veterans

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) -- When Albert Laughter unpacks his medical supplies, preparing to treat the military veterans who are his patients, he finds no stethoscope or thermometer.

His examination room doesn't have walls to speak of. It is made of canvas and wooden poles, a teepee with a small fire ring inside. His supplies -- pheasant and eagle feathers, cornmeal, sage and other herbs -- come wrapped in small leather pouches.

Laughter, a Navajo medicine man, cares for warriors as five generations of his forebears have: with traditional herbs, songs and ceremonies. But unlike his ancestors, he does it as a healer under contract with the federal government.

Laughter's services are part of a small assortment of programs run by the Department of Veterans Affairs to treat American Indian veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder and other maladies.

''Our culture, even though we live in the 21st century, we come back to the ceremonies, we come back to where the fire is, come back to where the herbs is, come back to where the songs is,'' said Laughter, who does his work in Navajo and in English at the VA medical center in Prescott and on northern Arizona reservations.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Myth of the Native Babe: Hollywood's Pocahontas

NATIVE AMERICANS have taken a beating in American cinema dating back to silent pictures, generally depicted as marauding terrorists at worst or noble savages at best. Against this backdrop of violence, warriors like Geronimo, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse have played recurring roles, but pacifists like Pocahontas have proven more elusive.

Despite her status as a key figure in our nation's birth, the Powhatan princess - a mere 10 to 12 years old when she first befriended the English explorer Capt. John Smith and the Jamestown settlers in 1607 - has been mostly relegated to obscure B movies that relied more on legend than fact. The 1953 United Artists clunker "Captain John Smith and Pocahontas" veered so far off the tracks of history that it married the lead characters, serving up lines like "It may well be that on the shoulders of that Indian girl will rest the whole future of Virginia."

Four decades later, the animated Disney box office hit "Pocahontas" depicted its heroine as an exquisitely beautiful, fully formed woman with flowing black hair, almond-shaped eyes and just the hint of a nose, and Smith as a dashing adventurer with square jaw, Herculean build and a blond surfer mane. It was "Romeo and Juliet" without the tragic ending.

But come Christmas Day, New Line Cinema and the writer-director Terrence Malick will offer in "The New World" what promises to be a far more complex take on the Jamestown saga and its clash of cultures between English colonists and the Powhatan tribes. The project, as is usual with Mr. Malick's work, has been shrouded in secrecy, though publicity materials have stressed the verisimilitude of a film shot close to where the actual events took place along Virginia's Chickahominy and James Rivers, before wrapping in London.

A Dispute of Great Spirit Rages On

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Embedded in the granite floor inside the main entrance to Ralph Engelstad Arena, an enormous American Indian-head logo spreads like a welcome mat in front of the larger-than-life statue of Engelstad himself.

Every night that the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux men's hockey team plays in its $104 million arena, thousands of fans walk across the likeness of the handsome Sioux face in profile, with its four eagle feathers attached to the crown of the head.

It is humiliating to many of the school's Indian students and faculty members who consider eagle feathers sacred.

"We see the eagle as a messenger," said Margaret Scott, a sophomore nursing student from the Winnebago tribe in Nebraska. "It flies so close to the heavens, he carries the messages and prayers of the people to God. In our culture, eagle feathers can't touch the ground.

"It's like if you put a cross on a shot glass. What they're doing is sacrilegious."

As the N.C.A.A. begins enforcing a ban on Indian imagery that it considers "hostile or abusive," the North Dakota arena and its logo pointedly illustrate the passions surrounding the issue, and the complexities, both political and financial, in resolving it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Native Foods Nourish Again

Last week, Noland Johnson pulled the season's final crop of tepary beans from the piece of desert he farms on the Tohono O'odham Reservation, about 120 miles southwest of Tucson.

The beans look a little like a flattened black-eyed pea. The white ones cook up creamy. The brown ones, which Mr. Johnson prefers, are best simmered like pinto beans.

As late as the 1930's, Tohono O'odham farmers grew more than 1.5 million pounds a year and no one in the tribe had ever heard of diabetes. By the time Mr. Johnson got into the game four years ago, an elder would be lucky to find even a pound of the beans, and more than half of the adults in the tribe had the kind of diabetes attributed to poor diet.

While researchers investigate the link between traditional desert foods and diabetes prevention, Mr. Johnson grows his beans, pulling down 14,000 pounds this fall. Most will sell for about $2.50 a pound at small stores on the reservation.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Tribes' Basketball Passion Turns Into Business

YAKIMA, Wash., Nov. 15 - The stands in the SunDome were unusually full Tuesday night when Yakima's minor league basketball team, the Sun Kings, bounded onto the court for an exhibition game a few days before the start of the season.

The crowd itself was atypical, too, filled with hundreds of members of the Yakama Nation, an Indian tribe that rarely mingles with the world outside its vast reservation about five miles east of here. But in a move that riveted tribes across the country and created a rift among Indians here, leading to the ousting of three tribal officials, the Yakama Nation became the new owners of the Sun Kings last spring.

And after Tuesday's game, the first at home under the new ownership, the Sun Kings signed an Indian player, a Sioux from Montana who had electrified the crowd with his dazzling shooting for the opposing team. The player, Richard Dionne, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound forward, is believed by officials to be the only American Indian on the roster of the Continental Basketball Association, a national eight-team league that can be a steppingstone to the N.B.A.

The tribal ownership of the team and the signing of Mr. Dionne, 24, who had been playing here for a nonprofit team not in the league, come as Indians are slowly making their way into college, semiprofessional and professional basketball.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Vine Deloria Jr., Champion of Indian Rights, Dies at 72

DENVER, Nov. 14 (AP) - Vine Deloria Jr., an influential advocate of American Indian rights and the author of the groundbreaking "Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto," died Sunday. He was 72.

Dr. Deloria, a Standing Rock Sioux, died of complications from an aortic aneurysm, said his son, Phil Deloria.

The author was considered one of the most outspoken - and persuasive - proponents of Indian cultural and political identity.

"I think he opened Americans' eyes to the real history of Native Americans and the injustice of past federal policies," said John Echohawk, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colo.

"I think what we saw in his generation of Native Americans was this transition of federal policy from termination to self-determination, and Vine, I think, was the real leader in making that happen," Mr. Echohawk said.

Raider Nation's radio outreach to Navajo Nation

Native American artist Larry Ashkie lives on the Navajo reservation just outside the little town of Pinon, Ariz. His house is more than 100 miles from Flagstaff, the closest town of any size, and he has to drive 15 miles just to fill his water tanks so he can flush his toilet. Luckily, he says, "we are right at the end of the power line,'' so he has electricity, even if some of his neighbors do not.

It is safe to say that Ashkie lives square in the middle of nowhere. But even there, in his corner of the Navajo Nation, there is an outpost of the Raider Nation where fans like Ashkie are as devout as any you'd find in the Black Hole.

"They were always kind of a goofy team,'' he says, "but I like them.''

And so it is that the Silver and Black will establish a milestone on Sunday as they play the Denver Broncos in what will be the first Raiders game ever broadcast to the Navajo Nation.

In Navajo.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

R. C. Gorman, Painter of Strong Navajo Women, Dies

R. C. Gorman, an internationally prominent Navajo artist whose portraits of voluptuous women in flowing traditional dress embodied the American Southwest for collectors around the world, died on Thursday at a hospital in Albuquerque. A longtime resident of Taos, N.M., he was believed to be in his mid-70's.

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico announced the death. The cause was pneumonia following a blood infection for which Mr. Gorman had been hospitalized since September.

Mr. Gorman was best known for his paintings, sculptures and lithographs depicting American Indian women - typically corpulent, barefoot and wrapped in shawls or blankets. From the mid-1970's on, his work graced the walls of galleries and corporate offices around the country and was disseminated even more widely on posters, notecards and calendars.

Words to Guide a Life Over a Century

UNCASVILLE, Conn.

MUNDO wigo, the Creator is good, the elders taught her from the time she drew her first breath on Mohegan Hill on June 15, 1899.

It was around the last solstice of a dying century in a culture that had been pronounced all but dead as well, but they said it over and over, evoking thankfulness, evoking faith. I have nothing to eat today, Mundo wigo, but the Creator is good and the sun is shining. The weather has been terrible, and I can't get out of the house, Mundo wigo, but I have my legs, and I can walk. Our people are scattered and our resources scarce, Mundo wigo, but we will survive.

By all accounts, Gladys Tantaquidgeon never doubted it. She grew up in a world at once seemingly passing away and as permanent as the rocky soil and harsh landscape of oak, maple, pine and cedar. Until Gladys's first birthday, according to a biography by her grandniece Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, her mother bit the baby's fingernails, instead of cutting them, to prevent her from ever becoming a thief. Her hair was trimmed when the moon was waning, to keep it thick, and her shoes were turned over at night to prevent bad dreams. She was put to bed every night before the whippoorwill called, so she wouldn't be captured by the Makiawisug, the mischievous little people of the forest.

Monday, October 24, 2005

For 4th Time, Judge Seeks to Shield Indian Data

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 - For the fourth time since 2001, a federal judge has sought to force the Interior Department to disconnect from the Internet its computers that have access to data related to trust accounts it administers for American Indians.

In an opinion of more than 200 pages, the judge, Royce C. Lamberth of Federal District Court here, said computer security at the department was "disorganized and broken," making it vulnerable to computer hackers.

The ruling, issued on Thursday, exempted those computers necessary "to protect against fires or other such threats to life, property or national security."

But Interior Department officials said that the order could affect as many as 6,000 government computers containing Indian trust data, and others still with indirect access to the information. Dan DuBray, a department spokesman, said the agency received a temporary stay of the order from an federal appeals court on Friday, as it seeks to have the decision reversed. Government lawyers had argued that the stay was "necessary to prevent grave injury to the public interest" and the operations of government.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Commerce and Religion Collide on a Mountainside

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - In the view of American Indians here, the spirits that inhabit the San Francisco Peaks, towering 12,000-foot-plus mountains rising from the desert here, certainly did not appreciate it when a ski run was built a quarter of a century ago on one slope.

The national forest is not on tribal land but is within ancestral boundaries claimed by several tribes.
So imagine, tribal leaders ask, what the spirits will think - or worse, do - when treated wastewater is piped up from Flagstaff and sprayed on the mountain so the resort, the Arizona Snowbowl, can make more snow to ski on? A lawyer for one of the tribes likened it to "pouring dirty water on the Vatican."

In a trial that began this month, 13 Indian tribes who regard the peaks as virtual living deities of the highest order argued that the plan would interfere with their religious practices, including the gathering of mountain water and herbs they say the artificial snow would taint.

"The mountain is like a power plant," Frank Mapatis, a spiritual leader in the Hualapai tribe, said in court. "You plant a feather there, and it is like plugging into a power plant."

The case pits economic interests against traditional practices, and culture versus science, the kind of clashes that are becoming increasingly common in the West as population booms and development pressures butt against Indian desires to reassert ancient practices.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Rain Forest Jekyll and Hyde?

Please welcome the latest entry to the Chutzpah Hall of Fame: the mighty Chevron Corporation.

On Oct. 28, during a gala ceremony at its headquarters in San Ramon, Calif., the company, which until May was known as ChevronTexaco, will honor the latest recipients of the annual Chevron Conservation Awards. The awards are meant to recognize the achievements of men and women who have "helped to protect wildlife, restore wilderness, create natural preserves and parks, and institute educational programs to heighten environmental awareness."

Chevron is accused of dumping more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste, over a period of 20 years, into the soil and water of a previously pristine section of the Amazon rain forest.
Meanwhile, Chevron's lawyers are in Ecuador defending the company against charges that it contributed to one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet. The company is accused of dumping more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste, over a period of 20 years, into the soil and water of a previously pristine section of the Amazon rain forest.

According to a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of some 30,000 impoverished residents of the rain forest, this massive, long-term pollution has ruined portions of the jungle, contaminated drinking water, sickened livestock, driven off wildlife and threatened the very survival of the indigenous tribes, which have been plagued with serious illnesses, including a variety of cancers.

Chevron, which likes to promote itself as a champion of the environment, contends that no such catastrophe occurred. A spokesman told me yesterday that the billions of gallons of waste that was dumped "wasn't necessarily toxic."

"We've done inspections," the spokesman said. "We've done a deep scientific analysis, and that analysis has shown no harmful impacts from the operations. There just aren't any."

You would have a very difficult time selling that story to the people in the rain forest who have been drinking and bathing in water fouled with the byproducts of oil-drilling processes. Parents have watched their children play and their livestock feed in areas contaminated with oily substances. Pits that perpetually ooze gunk and oil are ubiquitous.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

National Archives Indian Records Discarded

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal officials are investigating how National Archives documents of interest to Indians suing the Interior Department were found discarded in a trash bin and a wastebasket.

The discovery came to light on Sept. 1, when Archives staff noticed federal records in one of the trash bins behind the National Archives Building near the Capitol. They notified the Archives' inspector general, Paul Brachfeld, whose staff recovered the documents.

They found at least a portion of the documents were Bureau of Indian Affairs records dating to the 1950s, according to Jason Baron of the Archives' Office of General Counsel, in a letter last week to an Interior Department official.

Brachfeld's office began investigating, and ''what appear to be Indian records were discovered in a waste basket in the stack areas at Main Archives,'' Baron wrote. Taken together, the two dumping incidents ''may be intentional acts aimed at unlawfully removing or disposing of permanent records from the Interior Department,'' he wrote.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tribe Hopes for Return to Whaling Past

NEAH BAY, Wash. - The whaling canoes are stored in a wooden shed, idle for the past six years. They were last used when the Makah Indians were allowed to take their harpoons and a .50-caliber rifle and set out on their first whale hunt since the late 1920's.

There were eight young men in a canoe with a red hummingbird, a symbol of speed, painted on the tip. There were motorboats ferrying other hunters, news helicopters, and animal rights activists in speedboats and even a submarine.

On May 17, 1999, a week into the hunt, the Makah killed a 30-ton gray whale, striking it with harpoons and then killing it with a gunshot to the back of the head.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Florida State Can Keep Its Seminoles

There was never any doubt where the Seminole Tribe of Florida stood on Florida State University's nickname. The tribe helped university boosters create the costume for the Chief Osceola mascot, approving the face paint, flaming spear and Appaloosa horse that have no connection to Seminole history.

Yesterday, the National Collegiate Athletic Association agreed with the 3,100-member tribe and the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, which had also endorsed the nickname. The N.C.A.A. removed Florida State from the list of universities banned from using what it called "hostile and abusive" mascots and nicknames during postseason play.

"The N.C.A.A. executive committee continues to believe the stereotyping of Native Americans is wrong," Bernard Franklin, the association's senior vice president for governance and membership, said in a statement. "However, in its review of the particular circumstances regarding Florida State, the staff review committee noted the unique relationship between the university and the Seminole Tribe of Florida as a significant factor."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Newest Indians

On a crisp morning in March at the Jaycee Fairgrounds near Jasper, Ala., the powwow was stirring. Amid pickups with bumper stickers reading ''Native Pride'' and ''The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth,'' small groups gathered to check out the booths selling Indian rugs, dancing sticks, homemade knives and genealogy books. On one side, under her camper's tarp, sat Wynona Morgan, a middle-aged woman wearing a modestly embroidered Indian smock and some jewelry. Morgan had only recently discovered her Indian heritage, but, she said, in some ways she had known who she was for years. ''My grandmother always told me that she came from Indians,'' Morgan told me. She is now a member of one of the groups meeting here in Jasper, the Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama, which itself is new, having organized under that name in 1997. The tribe is committed to telling its story, in part through an R.V. campground named Cedar Winds that will eventually expand to include an ''authentic, working Cherokee Indian Village.''

A New Dawn for Museums of Native American Art

PHOENIX - Decorated with spirals and migration symbols, Nathan Begay's multicolored jar resembles an ancient assemblage of shards. But it's actually a synthesis of historical and modern: Mr. Begay, a 46-year-old artist of Hopi and Navajo descent, created it five years ago.

Its inclusion with some 2,000 other objects in the Heard Museum's new exhibition of its permanent collection here reflects a sweeping change in the way museums are presenting Native American art. Rather than focusing on an ethnographic past, they are celebrating the full continuum of such art, juxtaposing contemporary pieces with historical ones and integrating native voices - often first-person narratives - into explanatory text and media.

From the Heard, to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, to the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, museums with substantial Native American collections are aggressively pursuing new work.

Friday, August 05, 2005

NCAA Bans Indian Mascots During Postseason

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise. The NCAA's executive committee decided this week the organization did not have the authority to bar Indian mascots by individual schools, committee chairman Walter Harrison said Friday.

Nicknames or mascots deemed ''hostile or abusive'' would not be allowed by teams on their uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1, said Harrison, the University of Hartford's president.

Monday, August 01, 2005

'Grave concern' over Roberts nomination

The Gwich'in Steering Committee issued a statement of ''grave concern'' over Roberts' nomination, calling attention to a brief he wrote for the state of Alaska in the 1997 U.S. Supreme Court case Venetie v. the State of Alaska. The court sided with Alaska, ruling that most Native lands there were not part of ''Indian country.''

Said steering committee representative Luci Beach, ''In two landmark cases, Roberts has argued that the rights of the state of Alaska supercede the sovereignty and subsistence rights guaranteed to Native peoples by the federal government ...

''This is sadly indicative of the Bush administration's disregard and contempt for basic tribal and human rights, which has also been signaled by Bush's incessant push to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge regardless of the impact to the land or the people.''

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bill Giving Native Hawaiians Sovereignty Is Too Much for Some

HONOLULU, July 15 - Hawaii is once again awash with mainlanders, as summer vacationers delight in its beaches and make themselves feel at home even on distant tropical islands. Breakfast at Starbucks, lunch at Subway, dinner at Red Lobster and a restful night at the Marriott or Hilton.

But most visitors soon discover something profoundly different about the 50th state that the requisite luaus and hula dances only hint at. The 250,000 indigenous people of Polynesian ancestry who are among Hawaii's 1.2 million residents make the state like no other, sustaining a native Hawaiian cultural and linguistic imprint that preceded the arrival of Capt. James Cook by a millennium.

Now, 112 years after United States troops helped overthrow the independent Kingdom of Hawaii and 12 years after Congress apologized for it, that Hawaiian distinctiveness appears close to being formally recognized by the United States government. A bill that for the first time would extend sovereignty to the native Hawaiian people is poised for a vote - and likely approval - in the United States Senate despite opposition from many Republicans who denounce the measure as unworkable and as promoting racial Balkanization.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Founding Sachems - New York Times

SEEKING to understand this nation's democratic spirit, Alexis de Tocqueville journeyed to the famous centers of American liberty (Boston, Philadelphia, Washington), stoically enduring their "infernal" accommodations, food and roads and chatting up almost everyone he saw.

He even marched in a Fourth of July parade in Albany just ahead of a big float that featured a flag-waving Goddess of Liberty, a bust of Benjamin Franklin, and a printing press that spewed out copies of the Declaration of Independence for the cheering crowd. But for all his wit and intellect, Tocqueville never realized that he came closest to his goal just three days after the parade, when he stopped at the "rather unhealthy but thickly peopled" area around Syracuse.

Tocqueville's fascination with the democratic spirit was prescient. Expressed politically in Americans' insistence on limited government and culturally in their long-standing disdain for elites, that spirit has become one of this country's great gifts to the world.

When rich London and Paris stockbrokers proudly retain their working-class accents, when audiences show up at La Scala in track suits and sneakers, when South Africans and Thais complain that the police don't read suspects their rights the way they do on "Starsky & Hutch," when anti-government protesters in Beirut sing "We Shall Overcome" in Lebanese accents - all these raspberries in the face of social and legal authority have a distinctly American tone. Or, perhaps, a distinctly Native American tone, for among its wellsprings is American Indian culture, especially that of the Iroquois.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Mexico Braces for Next Move by Leader of Zapatista Rebels

OVENTIC, Mexico, July 2 - The sign on the road outside this Zapatista town says "Closed for Red Alert," and the normally bustling cluster of shops, schools, a shoe factory and a health clinic is quiet. The masked rebels who usually oversee Oventic have been called to a meeting in the jungles of southern Mexico.

In Mexico City and in Chiapas, many people wonder why Subcommander Marcos has declared a "red alert" in Zapatista-run centers like Oventic.
After years of relative calm, the uneasy peace between the government and the Zapatistas has been shaken in recent days as the rebel leaders have put their forces on high alert, shut down the five governing centers they established in Chiapas in 2003 and issued a flurry of communiqués calling for a nationwide leftist political movement.

Here in the southern state of Chiapas, and in Mexico City, the question is: what is Subcommander Marcos up to?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Live Free and Soar - Patricia Nelson Limerick

A week ago, at the conference of the Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT) meeting at the Morongo Casino Resort, the evening banquet opened with a ceremony that begins most formal Indian gatherings. Several Indian men, often military veterans, march in with flags and place them on the stage. The American flag leads the procession. Last week, the Ute Mountain Ute Indian leader Ernest House carried in the Star-Spangled Banner, and then stood and faced it, as if reunited with a treasured comrade. After the others had left the stage, he gave the flag an intense salute and parted from its company.

Non-Indians familiar with the history of the invasion and conquest of North America might be puzzled or even troubled by this ceremony. No residents of this country have better reasons for anger at the imperial powers of this nation than do Indian people; no American citizens have a better-grounded historical reason to put the American flag at the end of the procession, or to refuse to carry it.

And yet, most native people are loyal and committed patriots. The American flag appears at ceremonies and rituals; stars and stripes are woven into beadwork and incorporated into powwow clothing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bureaucrats and Indians

CROW AGENCY, Mont.

The Crow Indians rode with Custer at Little Bighorn, but they have since reconsidered. On the anniversary of the battle Saturday, they cheered during a re-enactment when Indians drove a stake through his fringed jacket and carved out the heart of the soldier going by the name of Yellow-Hair in Blue Coat Who Kills Babies, Old Men and Old Women.

Their revised opinion is understandable considering what has happened to them since that battle to get their valley back from rival tribes. Today it's a Crow reservation with enough land and mineral resources to make each tribe member a millionaire, yet nearly a third live below the poverty level, and the unemployment rate has reached 85 percent.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Casino Interest in Land Bid Divides Tribe in Hamptons

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y., June 21 - The Shinnecock tribe likes to refer to itself as one big family. Now, like all big families, the tribe is having its brawls.

On June 15, the Shinnecocks, who occupy an 800-acre reservation here on the South Fork of Long Island, sued New York State, Suffolk County, Southampton and others in federal court, laying claim to 3,600 acres of local land, including the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, a site of the United States Open. A second suit, to follow, is likely to include the entire town of Southampton, whose property owners and taxpayers Gov. George E. Pataki has vowed to protect.

But the land claim and the reasons behind it have also created sharp divisions within the tribe, as well as with the people of Southampton. Critics, including tribal members, contend that the real issue is a bid to build a casino that was stopped by a court order in 2003.

Worship, Dark and Steamy, for Murderers and Rapists

SUFFIELD, Conn. - Two dozen murderers, rapists and other felons sat unclothed save for shorts in the pitch darkness of a tent made of sticks and wool blankets that had been set up in the prison yard.

In the middle of the dirt floor, a pit had been dug and filled with rocks left in fire so long that any cracks glowed red. Cedar chips were thrown on the rocks, giving off a fragrance, and then lavender, sage and sweet grass.

When a bucket of water hit the rocks with a gasp, the tent, already nearly unbearably hot, filled with a weighty steam. Some of the inmates sat in meditative quiet; others were lighthearted, with one jokingly asking if anyone happened to have an Evian.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Papers: Lobbyist, Partner Bilked Tribes

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jack Abramoff and a lobbying partner used tax-exempt groups and phony invoices to bilk tribal clients out of millions of dollars, using a scheme they called ''gimme five'' to divert proceeds to themselves and their pet causes, newly released documents show.

At a hearing Wednesday on Abramoff's activities, Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman John McCain urged the Justice Department to take a close look at Abramoff's tribal billings and his movement of the money, suggesting the lobbyist may have committed mail and wire fraud.

''Today's hearing is about more than contempt, even more than greed. It is simply and sadly a tale of betrayal,'' said McCain, R-Ariz.

Correspondence between Abramoff and others, released by the committee, outlines a plan Abramoff and lobbying partner Michael Scanlon referred to as ''gimme five'' and used to maximize tribal payments while skimming off a share of the proceeds for themselves.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Maori Golfer Campbell Survives Late Charge From Woods to Win the U.S. Open

PINEHURST, N.C., June 19 - Before Michael Campbell paced the final green to tap his golf ball two more times, he lifted his glance toward the twilight sky at Pinehurst No. 2.

Campbell, born in the shadow of New Zealand's Mount Taranaki, sank a short putt for bogey and his eyes clouded over, for he had just triumphed in a back-nine battle to claim the United States Open championship by two strokes over Tiger Woods.

When Campbell, who is of Maori heritage, turned professional in 1993, he quickly became a big name on the Australian Tour and, later, the European Tour, where he has six victories, the last in 2003. The Open is his first victory on the PGA Tour, and it earned him $1.17 million.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

For a Tribe in Texas, an Era of Prosperity Undone by Politics

EL PASO - There are no customers at the Speaking Rock Casino now. Inside the adobe building, built by the Tigua Indians to look like a large pueblo-style home, it is eerily silent and dark, no clinking coins, no 24-hour-a-day bright lights.

The 1,500 slot machines that attracted 100,000 visitors a month to the casino, earning the small Tigua tribe $60 million a year, are gone, taken away after the State of Texas won a federal lawsuit three years ago declaring that the tribe did not have the right to run a casino here on their ancestral land, the oldest settlement in Texas.

The Tiguas' efforts to get their casino reopened and their dealings with Washington insiders promising access and influence got them caught up in the spreading investigations involving the lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Republican political figures, including the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, and Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition who is running for lieutenant governor in Georgia.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Northern Plains Writers' Retreat

The Northern Plains Writers' Retreat will be held in Pierre, SD on June 17 & 18. Delphine Red Shirt and Dawn Wink are coordinating the retreat. A concert by Kevin Locke and Joe Fire Crow will be included. You may read about the retreat and register in advance online.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

New iTunes tracks and new artists

The iTunes shop has again been updated.
New artists added include Primeaux & Mike, Wayne Lavallee, Qua' Ti' Si', The Boyz, Eagle & Hawk, Eyabay Singers, & the Mandaree Singers. Artists with updated listings include Carlos Nakai, Keely Smith, Mildred Bailey, Ulali, Rita Coolidge,
Jim Boyd, Burning Sky and Glen Bonham.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Community building at Pine Ridge: A 30-year project comes of age

by: Editors Report / Indian Country Today

Involvement in community grassroots movements requires work with all kinds of families from which emerge leaders who will encourage and help guide the people toward common goals over the long term.

To build upon a community culture that can focus on behalf of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will inherit the Earth and the responsibilities of the nations: this is the task of community organizers of the highest order.

Such is the track record of the Pine Ridge Homesteads Initiative, long known as the ''Slim Buttes Agriculture and Development Project.'' This project involved a long-term commitment by a core group of families and working people based in the Slim Buttes community in western Pine Ridge Reservation, but with practical extension work with approximately 500 families across the reservation. The project assists in building grassroots facilities and living conditions for Oglala-Lakota families long destitute in remote lands and reservation districts.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Navajo Head Vetoes Gay Marriage Measure

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) -- The president of the Navajo Nation vetoed a measure Sunday that would have banned same-sex marriage on the Indian reservation.

The Tribal Council voted unanimously last month to pass legislation that restricts a recognized union to a relationship between a man and a woman, and prohibits plural marriages as well as marriages between close relatives.

Supporters said the goal was to promote Navajo family values and preserve the sanctity of marriage.

President Joe Shirley Jr. said in a statement released Sunday that he strongly supports family stability but the proposed measure said nothing about domestic violence, sexual assault and gangs on the Navajo Nation -- problems that are rampant.

''Same-sex marriage is a non-issue on Navajoland,'' he said. ''So why waste time and resources on it? We have more important issues to address.'

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Colombia War Spills Into Indians' Peaceful World

TACUEYó, Colombia, April 28 - The Nasa Indians appear to live well on their lush reservation here in southern Colombia, a swath of mountains and valleys where sweet fruit grows, trout teem in fast-flowing creeks and colorful birds dart about.

They live in tidy, well-kept homes, growing coffee, bananas and beans. Emphasizing economic independence, they run a successful fish farm and are trying to strike up a marble mine.

The one major threat to their existence is Colombia's unrelenting civil conflict, which has ground on for 41 years. But the Nasa, an Indian nation that numbers about 100,000 in this region, has used a pacific civil resistance campaign to stay out of the drug-fueled war, which pits the army and right-wing paramilitaries against Marxist rebels intent on toppling the state.

For four years, the Nasa's stern-faced but unarmed Indigenous Guards - now a force of 7,000 men and women - have simply driven away the fighters who venture into these fog-shrouded mountains in Cauca Province. They confront rebel and soldier alike with ceremonial three-foot batons decorated with tassels in the colors of the Nasa flag, green and red, and persuade the outsiders to leave.

Their success has earned the acclaim of the United Nations and the foreign governments that pay for Nasa development programs.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bill Supporting Indian Casinos Is Held Back

Albany, April 15 - Gov. George E. Pataki withdrew pending legislation on Friday that would have allowed five Indian-run casinos to be built in the Catskills and settled tribal land claims. A spokesman said the settlements need to be renegotiated in light of a recent federal court ruling that would make it harder to win passage of Mr. Pataki's bill.

The governor continued to support the state-brokered settlements with each of the five tribes, a spokesman said, as well as the plans in those settlements to build the five Las Vegas-style casinos in the Catskills, which Mr. Pataki has championed as an economic stimulus for the mountain resort region.

Mr. Pataki plans to reopen negotiations with the tribes shortly in hopes of revising the settlement pacts and clearing the path for the casinos.

The undoing of the settlement legislation, which took years to negotiate, stemmed from the March 29 ruling by the Supreme Court, which held that the New York Oneida tribe could not purchase property to expand its tax-exempt holdings and assert Indian jurisdiction when that land had been outside its reservation for decades.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

3 Weeks After Shootings, Students Return

RED LAKE, Minn., April 11 (AP) - Students returned to Red Lake High School on Monday for the first time since a teenage gunman killed five fellow students, a teacher, a security guard and himself there three weeks ago.

A healing ceremony was held outside the school, on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, before students and parents entered.

Inside, students cleared out their lockers, which are all in the newer section of the school, where the shootings occurred. That section will be closed for renovations, while high school classes are to resume on Tuesday in an older part of the school that had been scheduled to be demolished.

Students will also begin using a different school entrance, away from the main doors, which the gunman walked through.

Reporters were kept out of sight of the healing ceremony and were not allowed in the school.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Indians' Wish List: Big-City Sites for Casinos

Denver, April 1 - The Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians have not had land in Colorado since many of their women and children were massacred in their sleep by soldiers at Sand Creek in 1864. Driven out of the state, they live today in poor rural areas scattered around Oklahoma.

But the tribes are now offering Colorado a gift of $1 billion and are willing to give up their ancestral claims to nearly half of the state, all in exchange for a 500-acre piece of land near Denver on which they hope to build one of the world's largest casinos, complete with a five-star hotel, a golf course, a mall and an Indian cultural center.

"This would be more than a casino for us," said Clara Bushyhead, a spokeswoman for the tribes. "It is the dream of our elders to complete our life cycle, to come back to our homeland in Colorado from which we were driven. Oklahoma was never our home."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Crisis of Indian Children Intensifies as Families Fail

Lummi Indian Reservation, Wash., March 29 - The very full house on Gumel Place was steeped in the usual loud weekend chaos when 14-year-old Cecilia Morris burst through the door.

'Hey,' she said. 'Is Mom in jail?'

No, said her uncle, Jasper Cladoosby, but her mother had gone back into drug treatment. Her father is the one in prison.

Mr. Cladoosby, 27, who is raising four of his own children along with Cecilia and two of her sisters, is one of possibly hundreds of uncles, aunts, grandparents and others caring for children whose parents are unable to raise them because of dire poverty, alcoholism and epidemic drug abuse on this reservation on Bellingham Bay in Northwest Washington. Cecilia's four remaining siblings are being cared for by other relatives."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Red Lake Memorial Fund

Please contribute to the Red Lake Memorial Fund to help the families who were affected by the shooting on the reservation on March 21, 2005. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Jim Thorpe and a Ticket to Serendipity

When Anthony Barone Jr. went to a local book auction with his sister Lee early this month, they came across a book from the 1920's, 'Jesse James and His Greatest Hauls,' a Wild West adventure of daring holdups.

Unimpressed by the condition of the book's cover, Anthony was not interested in purchasing it. But when the bidding crested at $6, Lee looked at her brother. 'What's six bucks?' she said. Anthony and Lee took the book home and ignored it for a week. They contemplated putting it back up for auction the next week, when Anthony decided he would at least flip through it.'I started leafing through the pages, and out dropped this big red ticket,' said Barone, a 44-year-old purchasing manager from Jamestown, N.Y. 'It literally fell into my lap.'

The ticket, six inches long, in good condition and with its stub still attached, was for an exhibition basketball game featuring Jim Thorpe and 'His World Famous Indians' on March 1, 1927. It did not indicate where the game was being played, other than at a Y.M.C.A. gym. Other teams listed on the ticket - 'Clothes Shop,' 'New Process' and 'Bankers' - were mysteries."

Saturday, March 26, 2005

University Changes Its Focus in Investigation of Professor

DENVER, March 25 - Prof. Ward L. Churchill cannot be fired from his job at the University of Colorado for controversial opinions like his comparison of some victims of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack to Nazi technocrats, the university said in a report released late Thursday.

But the professor could be fired if accusations of academic misconduct, including plagiarism, are borne out, the report said.

The report, by the university's interim chancellor, Philip P. DiStefano, is a fork in the divisive debate over Professor Churchill, whose name has become a rallying cry across the political spectrum in the past few months, ever since an essay he wrote shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks became widely known.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Days After Killings, a Tribe Seeks a Cloak of Privacy for Its Grief

RED LAKE, Minn., March 23 - The Chippewa Indians of the Red Lake Reservation have always set themselves firmly apart.

They have their own license plates, which bow to Minnesota statehood but feature the tribe's name on top. For a time in the 1980's, non-Indians even needed a tribal passport to do business here or to drive across the reservation. Most American Indian tribes allow people to own plots of land - in Red Lake, the traditional ways of communal property still adhere.

But the grief and shock unleashed when a troubled 16-year-old went on a shooting rampage here on Monday have shaken the walls of that cultural separation and raised questions about what holding the world at arm's length means, and what it costs.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

2005 Awards from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas

Carter Revard (Osage) of St. Louis, Missouri, is the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award winner from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas. Dr. Revard, a professor emeritus from Washington University, is a major poet and essayist in contemporary Native American literature. He was born March 25, 1931, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. He grew up in the Buck Creek Valley community, twenty miles from Pawhuska, on the Osage Reservation. He earned his Bachelor's degree from the University of Tulsa, a Master's degree as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, and a doctorate from Yale University. In addition to his creative writing, Dr. Revard is a medieval English literature scholar, and a participating Gourd Dancer in St. Louis and in Oklahoma. His books include My Right Hand Don't Leave Me No More (1970), Nonymosity (1980), Ponca War Dancers (1980), Cowboys and Indians, Christmas Shopping (1992), and An Eagle Nation (1993)---all poetry; and Family Matters, Tribal Affairs (1998) and Winning the Dust Bowl (2001), works of nonfiction. Many of his poems and essays are available on numerous web pages and in virtually all the major anthologies of Native American literature. His Osage name, Nompehwahteh ("Fear-inspiring"), was bestowed on him by his aunt in 1952.

Kim Shuck (Cherokee-Sac & Fox) of San Francisco, California, is the winner of the 2005 First Book Award competition in poetry from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas. Ms. Shuck won the award for her book-length manuscript, "Smuggling Cherokee," a collection of poems drawing strongly from her Cherokee heritage, while at the same time, offering fresh insights into the lives and experiences of relocated Indians in large metropolitan areas. Born in San Francisco in 1966, the daughter of a "relocated" Cherokee father and a Euro-American mother from Oklahoma, Ms. Shuck attended San Francisco State University where she received both a Bachelor's (in art) and a Master's in Fine Arts (in textiles), she is currently involved with the California Poets in the Schools program and engaged in free-lance journalism. She has published in several journals and anthologies, most notably Gatherings XI, Native Realities, The Cream City Review, Shenandoah, and the anthology, The Other Side of the Postcard. She is the mother of three children.

Mia Heavener (Central Yup'ik) of Fort Collins, Colorado, is the winner of the 2005 First Book Award for prose from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas. Her award-winning book-length manuscript is a novel entitled "Tundra Berries," a realistic depiction of present-day Yup'ik people living in southwestern Alaska, in which the issues of fetal alcohol syndrome and family dysfunction are prominent. Ms. Heavener was born in Centralia, Illinois, in 1978, of parents native to the Eagle River, Alaska area. She attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. Her previously published work has appeared in Alaska Women Speak. She is presently in the Masters' program in creative writing at Colorado State University.  

Monday, March 21, 2005

18 people shot in Red Lake

Preliminary reports are sketchy and they are all unconfirmed, but it is believed as many as 24 people have been shot on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, and at the Red Lake High School, and as many as 10 are reported to have died as a result of those shootings.  The majority of the shootings took place at the school.

At the time of this writing, the school was still under lockdown and considered a hostile area yet, with local police, FBI investigators, state police, Leech Lake Police and county deputies at the scene, although students still in the building had all been released.

According to early reports, sometime after 2 p.m. a student of the school, allegedly shot his grandfather and grandmother at their home in the Back of Town (BOT) area in Red Lake, then went to the Red Lake High School in his grandfather's law enforcement vehicle, where he shot and killed a school security guard, 8 students and 1 teacher..  There are reports of 10-12 fatalities from the shootings, and 14 wounded--some critically.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Solstice Webcast from Chichen Itza

Sunday, March 20th marks this year's spring equinox and "Sun-Earth
Day", marked by a special webcast program live from Chichen Itza. The program will feature the Mayan solar
alignments of the site as well as current NASA research and observations
of the Sun - highlighting the importance of the Sun across the ages.
The broadcast will be in both English and Spanish.

You can view the webcast live at:
http://www.exploratorium.edu/ancientobs/chichen/ The webcast will take place on Sunday, March 20th, 2005.

Schedule of the
program follows:

English Educational Program:
5pm EST, 4pm Mexico, 2pm PST
Observations of solar alignment - Bilingual in English and Spanish:
5:45pm EST, 4:45pm Mexico, 2:45pm PST

Spanish Educational Program:
6pm EST, 5pm Mexico, 3pm PST

Monday, March 14, 2005

Mother Culture, or Only a Sister?

On a coastal flood plain etched by rivers flowing through swamps and alongside fields of maize and beans, the people archaeologists call the Olmecs lived in a society of emergent complexity. It was more than 3,000 years ago along the Gulf of Mexico around Veracruz.

The Olmecs, mobilized by ambitious rulers and fortified by a pantheon of gods, moved a veritable mountain of earth to create a plateau above the plain, and there planted a city, the ruins of which are known today as San Lorenzo. They left behind palace remnants, distinctive pottery and art with anthropomorphic jaguar motifs. Most impressive were Olmec sculptures: colossal stone heads with thick lips and staring eyes that are assumed to be monuments to revered rulers.

The Olmecs are widely regarded as creators of the first civilization in Mesoamerica, the area encompassing much of Mexico and Central America, and a cultural wellspring of later societies, notably the Maya. Some scholars think the Olmec civilization was the first anywhere in America, though doubt has been cast by recent discoveries in Peru.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Tribe Lays Claim to 3,100 Square Miles of New York State

The Onondaga Nation, an Indian tribe based in upstate New York, filed a lawsuit yesterday claiming that it owns 3,100 square miles of land stretching from the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Pennsylvania border and including Syracuse.

The tribe contends that the State of New York illegally acquired the land in a series of treaties between 1788 and 1822 and has asked the Federal District Court in Syracuse to declare that it still holds title to the land, which is now home to hundreds of thousands of people and includes all or part of 11 counties.

It is the largest Indian land claim ever filed in the state. The tribe said that it does not want all of that land, however, but that its principal intent is to gain leverage to clean up polluted sites in the land claim area.

The lawsuit names as defendants the State of New York, the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County, as well as five corporations that, the nation contends, have damaged the environment in the claim area.

Monday, February 21, 2005

On Navajo Reservation, a New Tool in the Fight Against Drugs

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - The optimism generated by the Navajo Nation Tribal Council's vote to criminalize the sale, possession and manufacture of methamphetamine on the reservation here may be tempered by a lack of jail space to handle the expected increase in arrests, the authorities say.

Hope MacDonald-LoneTree, the chairwoman of the council's Public Safety Committee and sponsor of the methamphetamine legislation, said data showed that 40 percent to 90 percent of violent crime on the 25,000-square-mile Navajo Reservation involved the drug.

"We've seen users as young as 9 years old using meth," Ms. MacDonald-LoneTree said.

The authorities said gangs from Phoenix and the West Coast have organized the distribution of drugs on the reservation. Armed with the new law, officials said they expected an increase in arrests, which would further strain an overwhelmed justice system.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Native American College Shuts Down

DAVIS, Calif. — The state's only college run for and by Native Americans has been forced to close after it lost its accreditation and $1 million in federal funding less than a month into this spring's semester.

Officials at D-Q University shut down the community college, laid off more than two dozen faculty members and staff and sent 200 students home. And while a defiant group of students refused to leave, the beleaguered board of trustees split into two rival factions — with one firing the school's president.

"We're in mass chaos," said Cindy La Marr, chairwoman of one of the factions and executive director of Capitol Area Indian Resources Inc. in Sacramento. "I believe the founders of the school have lost their vision of what the school was for. They're dwelling on the past."

Friday, February 11, 2005

Incendiary in Academia May Now Find Himself Burned

BOULDER, Colo., Feb. 10 - Prof. Ward L. Churchill has made a career at the University of Colorado out of pushing people's buttons, colleagues and students say, clearly relishing his stance as radical provocateur and in-your-face critic.

Whether it is getting arrested by the Denver police for trying to disrupt Columbus Day, which Professor Churchill has described as a "celebration of genocide" because of the deaths of Indians that resulted from European colonization, or ruffling feathers in the faculty lounge, hyperbole and bombast have always been ready tools in the Churchill kit bag, people here say.

Now many of the offended are pushing back. The storm of controversy that has blown up around Professor Churchill over his essay about the Sept. 11 attacks, with its reference to the Nazi Adolf Eichmann - the "technocrats" at the World Trade Center were "little Eichmanns," Professor Churchill said - has turned the professor into a talking point and a political punch line. On conservative talk radio, on campuses across the country, and especially here in Boulder, debate about Professor Churchill means debate about freedom of speech, the solemnity of Sept. 11 and the supposed liberal bias of academia.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Blues & Gospel

Native musicians added today to the iTunes store are: Tracy Lee Nelson & the Native Blues Band, Bill Perry, Mary Youngblood, Robert Richmond and Glen Bonham. Have Fun.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Growing Meth Use on Navajo Land Brings Call for Tribal Action

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - With no law on the books to criminalize the sale, possession or manufacture of methamphetamine on the Navajo reservation here, the largest reservation in the country, officials are fearing an explosion of the drug's use.

"We've seen more than a 100 percent increase in meth on the reservation in the past five years," said Greg Adair, a 26-year officer with the Navajo Nation police.

Under pressure from local and federal law enforcement officials, the Navajo Nation Tribal Council raised the issue of criminalizing methamphetamine during its summer meeting last year but was told that it needed to include other controlled substances.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

New poet laureate for Sask. chosen

SASKATOON – An award-winning writer from Saskatoon has been named the province's new poet laureate.

Louise Bernice Halfe, who is also known as Sky Dancer, has written two books of poetry and has been published in anthologies and magazines.
Her first book, Bear Bones and Feathers, won the Milton Acorn Award in 1996.
Halfe was born in Two Hills, Alberta in 1953 and raised on the Saddle Lake First Nation in that province.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Professor Is Assailed by Legislature and Vandals

Colorado lawmakers yesterday denounced an embattled professor whose scheduled appearance at an upstate New York college was canceled amid protests over his writings on the Sept. 11 attacks, in which he compared the victims to Nazis.

The professor, Ward Churchill, meanwhile, rebuffed calls to resign and said yesterday that his truck had been painted with swastikas overnight as it sat in his driveway. The Boulder County Sheriff's Department said it was investigating.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Native Jazz and Swing

Today we added iTunes tracks from 2 classic Jazz & swing songbirds, both Native American, Mildred Bailey, Coeur d'Alene, and Keely Smith, Cherokee. Jazz and swing fans, enjoy!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

College Cancels Event Amid Protests on Panelist's 9/11 Essay

The president of Hamilton College, citing "credible threats of violence," said today that she was canceling a campus forum whose panelists included a Colorado professor who had disparaged 9/11 victims as "little Eichmanns."

In a written statement, President Joan Hinde Stewart said that the college had done its best "to protect what we hold most dear, the right to speak, think and study freely," but that ensuring safety at the event scheduled for Thursday was "a higher responsibility."

Newly added to the iTunes Shop

The most recent additions to our iTunes shop are Rita Coolidge, Pura Fé, Lila Downs, Kinnie Starr, Link Wray, Paul Ortega, and Redbone. More good music!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Yet more artists added to the iTunes shop

There are now 31 recording artists in our iTunes shop. Those added today are Jerry Alfred and the Medicine Beat, Blackfire, Darren Geffre, Wade Fernandaz, Eagle Warrior, and The Fire This Time. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

More New iTunes Shop!

There are now tracks from 25 Native recording artist in our iTunes shop. Added today were Arvel Bird, Cherokee Rose, Coyote Zen, Alice Gomez, Gregg Howard, Kevin Locke, Martha Redbone, Jan Michael Looking Wolf Reibah, Shadowyze, Thunderbeat & Ulali. Visit the index to the iTunes store and have a ball!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

American Indian relief team to tsunami disaster

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A team of American Indian physicians, educators and emergency professionals are readying to provide relief to victims of the Asian tsunami disaster. In the Native tradition of reaching out to those suffering, three friends are organizing an emergency response team.

Dr. Robert Lame Bull McDonald, Blackfeet and member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, will be serving as a volunteer with the World Health Organization in the disaster relief.

McDonald is organizing the emergency response team with Brock Albin, law professor already in Korea and involved in the relief effort, and Robert Free from Seattle, Indian rights activist and creator of the Native BEAR AIDS Project.

''The mission is to save lives,'' McDonald told Indian Country Today. ''Together we will constitute a civilian emergency medical relief team. My goal is to form an Emergency Air and Ground Lift and Evacuation Service Team.''

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Sleaze in the Capitol

One of the sorriest chapters of American history, the gulling of native Indian tribes, is continuing apace in Washington, where two Capitol insiders close to the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, are being investigated for allegedly fleecing six tribes of more than $80 million with inflated promises of V.I.P. access. The shameful dealings of Jack Abramoff, a Republican power lobbyist, and Michael Scanlon, Mr. DeLay's former spokesman, are coming to light as Senate and Justice Department investigators follow leads from nouveau-riche tribes whose casino profits spurred a new category of lucre and greed in the hyperkinetic world of Washington lobbying.

Even as the two fast-talking political brokers banked large profits for three years of minimal labor, it was found, they were exchanging gleeful private messages mocking tribal leaders as "morons," "troglodytes" and "monkeys." "I want all their MONEY!!!" Mr. Scanlon exuberantly e-mailed in the midst of one deal.