Could Indian Reservation “Termination Policy” Return Under Trump? Worrying Signs are There

The blog Alaska Indigenous is issuing a warning that Federally recognized tribes should brace for possible termination policy under Trump. The blog begins:

Whether we like it or not, Saglutupiaġataq (“the compulsive liar” in Iñupiatun) is now president of the United States and Republicans control Congress. Federally recognized Alaska Native and American Indian tribes should brace for the worst, including the possibility that Congress may move to terminate federally recognized tribes.

The termination era of 1953 to 1968 involved Congress stripping tribes of their lands and criminal jurisdiction. The policy was thinly disguised as an attempt to lift American Indians and Alaska Natives out of poverty by assimilating them into mainstream society. However the real goal was to privatize and ransack American Indian and Alaska Native lands.

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Native Nations Sue to Protect Bears Ears Monument, and More

Bears Ears formation (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

You probably have read by now that President Trump took the unprecedented action to drastically reduce the size of national monuments in Utah, including Bears Ears, sacred lands to Native nations. As the New York Times reported:

President Trump sharply reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah on Monday by some two million acres, the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history.

The administration shrank Bears Ears National Monument, a sprawling region of red rock canyons, by 85 percent, and cut another monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante, to about half its current size. The move, a reversal of protections put in place by Democratic predecessors, comes as the administration pushes for fewer restrictions and more development on public lands.

Native nations are fighting back, saying the President does not have the constitutional authority shrink national monuments, according to a statement from John Echohawk, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund.

Under the Antiquities Act, the president may create national monuments. That is all. He or she may not modify or revoke existing monuments — only Congress has that ability. Trump’s actions are illegal, unwarranted, and deeply unpopular. And they are a blatant attack on tribal sovereignty and self-determination.

Obama created the Bears Ears National Monument a year ago. Native nations had pressed for that designation to protect their sacred places. As Echohawk explained:

Until the designation of Bears Ears, our sacred lands were under constant threat. Those unfamiliar with our cultures and our traditions contributed to the steady destruction of our sacred sites by looting, grave robbing, and indiscriminately drilling for oil and mining uranium at the expense of our heritage.

See the Native American Rights Fund website for more information. Continue reading

Kateri Residence for Native American Women in Recovery to Close Next Year

Kateri Residence in Minneapolis’ Whittier neighborhood.

Very sad news: In these most affluent of times — with the stock market at record levels and tax cuts for millionaires on the policy priority list — Kateri Residence, a program serving Native women in recovery, will close at the end of June. Kateri is a program of St. Stephens Human Services, and St. Stephens Executive Director Gail Dorfman said in an interview this morning that the program is no longer financially sustainable.

St. Stephens is working on a transition plan for the current residents and is trying to find a non-profit housing partner to keep the services going, she said

According to the Kateri website:

Kateri Residence is for Native American women (over 18 years old) recovering from addiction. Priority is given to Native American women that are pregnant, have small children in their custody and/or exiting treatment or corrections, but non-Native women may apply if willing to follow a program with this cultural emphasis.

(According to my friend Monica Nilsson’s Facebook post, Kateri “was the first program developed by the good people of Saint Stephen’s Catholic Church, now worshipping as the Spirit of Saint Stephens Catholic Community.”)

Kateri is a four-unit brownstone in the Whittier neighborhood (facing the I-35W sound barrier wall). Staff lives in one unit. The other three units are for women in recovery. Currently there are three single adults and four families in those three units. Women and families can stay for up to two years.

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NYC Launches Review of Public Art, One Model to Consider

New York City recently created a Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers,  a model worth reviewing. Just like our recent debate over art in the Minnesota State Capitol, many communities are wrestling with how our historic public art often tells a very narrow and inaccurate story.

The Commission was created in September. Mayor Bill de Blasio said:

There is an important conversation taking place right now about history and representation in public art, monuments and markers. Our diverse group of experts will create a thoughtful set of guidelines that acknowledge the complexities of history and the values that matter to us as New Yorkers.

Gaen hia uh, Betty Lyons (Onondaga Nation, Snipe Clan), President of the American Indian Law Alliance, recently spoke to the Commission. She asked that all statues of Columbus on public lands be removed and relocated.

Claims that Columbus was simply a man from the past, out of step with today’s values ignoring the fact that this is ongoing. This is not in the past.

Continuing to celebrate Columbus, and leaving monuments of him up is the continued act of erasure to ensure that “Americans” will never be educated on the reality of our harsh shared history. …

We are not asking for reconciliation as it is not possible to reconcile all that has been done but you can make a conscientious choice to do the right thing as these unspeakable horrors and many more are not deserving of celebration. We are asking the monuments of Columbus be moved to a museum, where they can be placed in accurate historical context for future generations to learn from. These monuments to hate must come down now!

Lyons full testimony can be found here.

A Teddy Roosevelt statue in New York City. (Wikimedia Commons)

Also, for a good 13-minute TED Talk on this topic, see: Can Art Amend History? Included is a commentary on a statue that sits in front of the New York City Natural History Museum. It depicts Teddy Roosevelt riding tall in the saddle. According to the Wikimeida description: “Roosevelt is shown on horseback as both a hunter and explorer. He is flanked by the figures of two guides, one Native American and one African, meant to symbolize the continents of America and Africa.”

News Updates: Police Abuse; Sacred Sites and Water Rights

Here is a series of national and international news stories concerning Native American rights.

Police Abuse: In a CNN story: The forgotten minority in police shootings, it said:

Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet rarely do these deaths gain the national spotlight. …

Because the numbers of Native Americans is relatively small compared to African Americans, they don’t get as much media attention. Still, their mortality rate from “legal intervention” (police shootings or manhandling) “is 12% higher than for African-Americans and three times the rate of whites,” the story said.

The recent media attention is due to the police shooting that killed Jason Pero, an 8th grader from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s reservation. Police say he had a knife, his family disputes it.

Here is a similar story from Newsweek: Why Are So Many Native Americans Killed By Police? It said:

The number of Native Americans killed by police doubled from 2015 to 2016. Per capita, Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other demographic in the U.S., according to a 2014 study by The Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice. And that’s probably undercounted.

Canadian Supreme Court Deals Blow to Indigenous Sacred Site

The Globe and Mail reported a Canadian Supreme Court decision that dealt a significant defeat for an indigenous sacred site, in a story headlined: Top court deals blow to Indigenous peoples,

The Supreme Court of Canada has declined to grant special protection for religious freedom for aboriginal peoples, ruling that a private ski resort in British Columbia can be built on a site sacred to an Indigenous community.

The Ktunaxa Nation had opposed a resort on Crown land near their community in southeastern British Columbia, arguing that it would affect a grizzly-bear habitat and drive away the Grizzly Bear Spirit essential to their faith.

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Nawayee Center School Robbed and Vandalized, Fundraiser Created for Repairs

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Nawayee Center School, a 7-12th grade school that serves primarily Native American youth in the Philips neighborhood of Minneapolis was broken into and robbed.

The intruders trashed the school, destroyed beautiful artwork that students had been working on for months, stole the field trip vans, and even took the pet hamster. The staff, students, and families of Nawayee Center School are deeply saddened by this devastating incident. Center School staff is asking for your help in raising money to cover the loss of supplies, as well as money towards the restoration of the damaged building.

Here is the Go Fund Me page. In two days, the campaign exceeded its $10,000 goal, but it is an under resourced school. Everything helps. (Note to HMS friends: Long-time Healing Minnesota Stories member Bob Klanderud is on staff at Nawayee.)

Indigenous Chefs Resist Media Efforts to Label Them a Trend

OK, I wasn’t going to post on Thanksgiving, but this Washington Post article seems appropriate. Headlined ‘This is not a trend’: Native American chefs resist the ‘Columbusing’ of indigenous foods, the story quotes Sean Sherman, the Sioux Chef.

The story says:

Native American chefs, whose foodways the culinary establishment has long neglected, have lately found themselves in high demand by a food media hungry to churn out trend pieces and by food-savvy urbanites eager to try cuisines they view as “exotic.” First it was Filipino food, then Hawaiian, then Jamaican. Now, recent coverage in food publications is calling Native American food the next big thing. And that’s precisely the problem.

“This is not a trend,” says Sherman. “It’s a way of life.”

Click on the link above if you want the full read.