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


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.