Weekend Reading: The True Story of Pocahontas; Federal Bill Introduced on Native Children’s Trauma; Tribes Backing Gorsuch; and More

Here is this week’s offerings:

  • The ugly truth about the Pocahontas story.
  • U.S. Sen. Al Franken joins two other Midwest Senators to author a bill to heal the trauma suffered by Native children.
  • Tribes are supporting Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Supreme Court, because he has shown he understands Indian law.
  • Star Tribune oil pipeline story misses key local angle.

The True Story of Pocahontas: Historical Myths Versus Sad Reality (Indian Country Media Network)

Artist depiction of Pocahontas saving the life of Capt. John Smith (1870). Wikimedia Commons.

Pocahontas had a Native husband and Native child, and never married John Smith, the  article said. She never snuck into Jamestown to bring John Smith food or warn him about a plot.

… the true story of Pocahontas is not one of a young Native Powhatan woman with a raccoon friend who dove off of mountain-like cliffs off the coasts of Virginia. (Note: there are no cliffs on the coast of Virginia.) …

The story of Pocahontas is a tragic tale of a young Native girl who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and allegedly murdered by those who were supposed to keep her safe.

Click on the link above for the full story.

Senator Heitkamp, Franken, Durbin Unveil Bill to Heal Trauma in Native Children (Indian Country Media Network)

Many mainstream institutions lack culturally-based, trauma-informed resources and approaches to help families in Native communities, the story says. The solution is education and training around historical trauma.

… the bill would create opportunities for multiple organizations across the country—such as law enforcement, education, workforce professional and health service providers—to learn why it’s critical to address and help to reduce the impacts of trauma on children, particularly those in Indian country. …

A one-page summary of the bill is here and a list of national groups supporting the bill is here.

Tribes Support Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court Nod as Democrats Plan Filibuster (Indian Country Media Network)

Bottom line: Several tribes believe they will have a better chance of winning U.S. Supreme Court cases with Neil Gorsuch on the bench.

“Judge Gorsuch’s record includes a great number of decisions involving tribal governments, tribal people and tribal interests, and he has consistently demonstrated not only a sound understanding of Federal Indian Law principles, but a respect for our unique and closely held cultural values,” wrote Alvin Not Afraid Jr., chairman of the Crow Tribe Executive Branch, in a recent letter to Senate leadership. …

Tribal allies of Gorsuch, including leaders with the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund, have made clear to the White House and Senate that they fully support Gorsuch because they see him as a pro-tribal sovereignty judge.

Dakota Access fight shifts to Keystone, other pipelines (Star Tribune)

The Star Tribune ran a Bloomberg News Service piece on oil pipeline proposals, but missed the boat on an important local story. It starts out:

Environmentalists may have lost their monthslong battle against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, but their war against the oil and natural gas industry is far from over.

Not only are groups including Sierra Club joining forces and renewing their efforts to take down TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL line, a project that now has the State Department’s blessing to carry Canada’s oil to the Gulf Coast. They’re also taking advantage of 300,000 new supporters and a surge in donations made to fight Dakota Access and Keystone to target smaller pipelines that were under the radar.

Comments: First, the Dakota Access Pipeline fight is not over. It is still being litigated in court. Second, and somewhat surprisingly, the article fails to mention a Minnesota oil pipeline proposal about to get a lot of attention: Enbridge Line 3. Enbridge has an existing (and failing) Line 3 pipeline that runs through northern Minnesota, from the western border to Superior, Wisc. It proposes to put in a larger pipeline and reroute it so that it runs through the Mississippi headwaters region. As Honor the Earth puts it: Line 3 is similar in size and scope to the much more highly publicized Keystone XL pipeline. The Line 3 debate will heat up soon, as the draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be released next week by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Stay tuned!

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