Impeached and obviously unfit acting U.S. president Donald Trump plans to kick off the Fourth of July holiday with pageantry and photo ops at Mount Rushmore. Native Americans who view the monument as a desecration of land stolen violently from tribes say they plan to protest. Read the rest
In hopes of minimizing the spread of coronavirus in their community, the Cheyenne River Sioux have established a series of checkpoints on state highways that run through tribal reservations in South Dakota. As Truthout explains:
Commercial drivers and South Dakota residents are being allowed to travel on tribal lands, but non-state residents are only allowed entry onto the reservations if they can provide proof of tribal membership or proof that they live there. Non-state residents are also being banned from hunting or fishing on tribal lands.
These, of course, are far more active measures than anything that South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has done so far in this pandemic. And this clearly made her upset, or possibly embarrassed, because she wrote a letter to tribal leaders stating:
I request the Tribe immediately cease interfering or regulating traffic on U.S. and State Highways and remove all travel checkpoints. If the checkpoints are not removed within the next 48 hours, the State will take necessary legal action.
Under normal circumstances, there may be a valid argument about what some would consider the vigilantism on display here. However, when it comes to Native American land rights and legal jurisdictions, things get complicated. But they've been putting up with this shit for a while now, and many of them have a keen understanding of how things with the US government — namely, that it won't do shit to help them, except when it wants something, which usually ends up hurting the members of the tribe. Read the rest
Land O’ Lakes recently removed the Indian woman from its butter packaging. The illustrations was created for the dairy in 1950s by Ojibwe artist Patrick DesJarlait. His son, Robert, a member of the Red Lake Ojibwe Nation, believes it was a mistake to remove the maiden.
From The Counter:
Read the rest
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, he explains that his father, Patrick DesJarlait, redesigned “Mia” in 1954 and established himself as one of the first modernists in American Indian fine art. DesJarlait argues that stereotypes communicate misinformation while Mia did not. From the beadwork designs on her dress to the lake depicted in the background, every detail was intentional. Removing Mia left behind a landscape voided of identity and history, one familiar for many American Indians.
My Irish ancestors all came to America between 1847 and 1849 — during the time of An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, when the British Empire hoarded all the food they were producing on colonized Irish land and left the native people with nothing but diseased potatoes to survive. This plight resonated with the Choctaw Nation, who lived in and around modern-day Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and of course had had their own experiences with a systematic genocide at the hands of a land-greedy colonizing force just a decade earlier. So the Choctaw rallied their resources, and sent $170 over the Atlantic to the starving people in Ireland — the equivalent of either $5,000 or $20,000 dollars today, depending on your calculations.
To commemorate this generous act, a statue was erected in Midleton, County Cork in 2017.
But solidarity is even better than a statue. Which is why, as Native Americans have disproportionately suffered from the impacts of COVID-19, Irish people rallied to the cause, raising more than a million dollars for the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund on GoFundMe in just a few days. The effort was largely spearheaded — or at least publicized — by Irish journalist Naomi O'Leary, who also spoke about the historical relationship and the legacy of colonialism on the Irish Passport podcast:
Read the rest
The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs told the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe on Friday that the tribe's reservation will be "disestablished" and its land taken out of trust, per an order from Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell announced in a post on the tribe's website.
The Mashpee Wampanoag and their ancestors have lived on and around Cape Cod for thousands of years. They are one of two federally recognized tribes of Wampanoag people in Massachusetts. But their status was not formally recognized by the US government until 2007. As Boston.com explains:
The federal government hasn’t removed a tribe’s land trust status against its will since the mid-20th century’s so-called Termination Era.
The move Friday came after a federal appeals court ruled against the tribe last month, upholding a lower court’s ruling that the Mashpee Wampanoag didn’t qualify to have their land taken into trust because the tribe wasn’t federally recognized in 1934, when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed, creating a process to restore sovereign land rights.
The "legal" argument here is largely based on the (injust) ability for the descendents of colonial settlers to decide who does or does not qualify as Native American based on their genetic makeup and/or appearance, rather than cultural connection or involvement. Essentially, the claim is that, since this tribe was not recognized (because of assumptions of default whiteness) at the time when all of the other Native American landtrusts were established under US law, it is illegitimate. Read the rest
From CBS News:
A national monument in Arizona, home to rare species and sacred Native American burial sites, is being blown up this week as part of construction for President Trump's border wall, Customs and Border Protection confirmed to CBS News. "Controlled blasting" inside Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument began this week without consultation from the Native American nation whose ancestral land it affects, according to the congressman whose district includes the reservation.
"There has been no consultation with the nation," said Congressman Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, who is the chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources and whose district contains the reservation and shares 400 miles of border with Mexico. "This administration is basically trampling on the tribe's history — and to put it poignantly, it's ancestry."
Unfortunately, the burial grounds are not technically part of the land that the US government had designated as property of the Tohono O'odham Nation. They are adjacent to the reservation; but under US law, that puts them onto public property.
The glaringly obvious issue here is the complete and utter disrespect for the religion and culture of non-white, non-Christian people — in this case, people with roots in this country that far pre-date any white or Christian roots here. In fact, shortly before construction began, archaeologists artifacts and bone fragments at the site that were 10,000 years point.
But then, at this point, I'm honestly not sure if there would be any backlash if the Trump administration blew up a white Evangelical cemetery, or if they'd all cheer him on in the name of White American Jesus. Read the rest
The US government detained more than 69,000 migrant children last year in the course of its brutal family separation policy. There's no guarantee these kids will ever be reunited with their parents; in fact, some of them have already been put up for "adoption" (read: legalized kidnapping) after their parents were deported. Many of these adoption agencies are of course Christian organizations, who genuinely believe themselves to be acting from a compassionate, altruistic pro-life perspective.
This is not breaking news; nor is it necessarily unique to the Trump administration. But I was reminded of it as I scrolled through Twitter over the weekend:
And for whatever reason, this reminder flagged another connection in the mind: the second season of the "Missing and Murdered" podcast, produced by CBC, the Canadian public broadcasting service.
Also known as "Finding Cleo," the 10-episode second season follows host Connie Walker as she tries to track down the truth about a deceased Cree girl named Cleo. According to Cleo's sister, Christine, all of the siblings in their family were forcefully taken from their First Nations home by Canadian child protective services. Somehow, Cleo ended up being adopted by a white Christian family in the United States until she was allegedly raped and murdered. Read the rest
It's not uncommon for the White House (under any administration) to make multiple overlapping "proclamations" for any given month. Many of these celebrations date back years, like Black History Month and Women's History Month. But this year, the Trump administration has continued in its proud tradition of surreptitiously erasing non-white-dudes from the narrative in favor of some revisionist history of American Exceptionalism that prides itself on the many glorious accomplishments of violent Christian colonialism.
That's why November has now been proclaimed as the inaugural "National American History and Founders Month," with a press release full of the most painfully generic platitudes of 1st graders naive vision of American history. It focuses largely on those classic conservatives go-to's of revering the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, and even quotes from every Republican's favorite Founding Father: Ronald Reagan.
Yes, I'm serious.
But the anachronistic Reagan quote is hardly the most egregious offense here. No, that would be the fact the White House neglected to proclaim November as National Native American Heritage Month, which it has done every year since 1990. It ignored the original inhabitants of our country—who helped colonists settle here, perhaps against their wills—in lieu of celebrating the men who immortalized them as "merciless savages" in the Declaration of Independence.
If you check the White House archives of Presidential Actions right now, you will see that National Native American Heritage Month is there, with a date of October 31, 2019—as if it was proclaimed on the same day as National American History and Founders Month. Read the rest
Marginalized Native American communities throughout the United States could have better access to high-speed internet if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decides to allow tribes to use the Educational Broadband Services (EBS) spectrum for services like telemedicine, transmitting medical records electronically, or an online high school. Read the rest
Recent tornado killed 23 in tiny town on Alabama-Georgia border, including 4 children, and 7 people from one family.
In the same week that Democrats announce they'll hold hearings to probe why Trump's Interior Department shrank Bears Ears National Monument by 85%, the internet is abuzz with this image. Archaeologists have identified this artifact as a 2000-year-old tattooing instrument, unearthed from Bears Ears in Utah.
New findings published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports this week show that this tool, found at the ancient Native American site, is a tattoo needle fashioned from cactus spines that was created between years 137–215 CE.
The findings reveal new information about how body adornment and tattooing were practiced among indigenous people in this region. Read the rest
Promised royalties from the movie ‘Wind River’ never made it to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.
In honor of Indigenous Peoples' Day today, I suggest cranking up the following selections from Light in the Attic's essential Grammy-nominated box set "Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985, Morley Loon's "Northland, My Land," and Willie Thrasher's "Spirit Child."
(top photo: Quebec’s Sugluk) Read the rest
In an age of decadence, narcissism and shit behavior from well-to-dos that's excused with mutterings of affluenza, it's always nice to be surprised by someone anonymously throwing a large sum of money at a worthy cause.
Before talking about the inherent good that some affluent individual pulled out of thin air earlier this week, we need to talk about The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, also known as the Sioux Uprising. For the uninitiated, it was a brief, ugly piece of American history. The short version of events: The Dakota people were pissed: the United States government had been screwing them out of land, coming up late with agreed-upon shipments of essential supplies and submitting them to unfair trade practices, contrary to what had been signed off on in treaties between the Dakota/Sioux nations and the United States of America. Tempers flared, as they do over issues of trust and sustenance. A group of Dakota killed a party of Minnesota settlers. War between the U.S. Government and the tribes broke out.
38 Dakota men were captured and convicted of war crimes. They were hung in response to the killing of the settlers: it was the largest single day mass execution in American history. By April of 1863, having lost to superior government forces, the remaining Dakota people were forced out of Minnesota as the United States Congress abolished the tribe's rights to their reservations. Hundreds of people on both sides of the war died as a consequence of the conflict.
Fast forward to the present day: a peace pipe with a history that traces back to the U.S.-Dakota Read the rest
Some mysteries don't need to be solved. They need to be laid to rest.
In spring of 2017, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game employee was going about his 'do you have a license to hunt that thing' duties, in the wilds outside the city of Mountain Home, Idaho. As he kicked through the grass and dust of the high desert plains, he came upon partially buried human skeletal remains. The Fish and Game employee called in the cops, who in turn, cordoned off the area around the find as a crime scene. The condition of the bones was such that they could have been the remains of a double homicide that'd taken place in recent decades, or old enough to belong to settlers who would have been passing through the area as far back as the 19th century, as part of their trek down the Oregon Trail.
Five days after the bones were discovered, the police returned to where the bones had been discovered. They brought archaeologists with them to assist in the delicate task of extracting the remains from the earth and, since they were there, help look for any other remains that might be hanging around the area.
They found more.
There was no way to identify the bones as belonging to one society or another--not a single cultural artifact was found in the area. With no clues as to who the bones may have belonged to, the cops had the bones shipped off to a lab for carbon dating. Read the rest
For more than a century, the Canadian government was responsible for perpetuating horrendous abuses against native peoples who were unfortunate enough to be living in an area where a imperial colonialist power decided to set up shop. It was government policy for Indigenous children to be separated from their families, the without the permission of their parents or tribal elders, and them into what were known as residential schools: institutions predominantly run by the Catholic Church, along with a small handful of schools that were handled by Anglican, Presbyterian and United Church interests.
Once the kids were secured into these boarding schools, they were taught the 'right' way to live--right being in accordance to western culture. Were the incarcerated children to dare to speak their own language or act according to cultural norms outside of what their white caretakers felt was 'civilized,' they were met with severe corporal punishment. Mortality rates at the schools were high. So were instances of physical and emotional abuse. Children were often buried in unmarked graves or simply disappeared. Even after the last residential school closed in 1998, its legacy of hate and abuse remains.
In 2015, Canada finally confessed to its part in this long-running crime. The nation's Truth and Reconciliation Commission looked to the crimes of the residential school system, saying that they amounted to cultural genocide. The commission made 94 recommendations that it felt would go along ways towards righting the wrongs of the past. One those recommendations was that the Pope step forward and apologize for his church's role in the residential school system. Read the rest
I've lived my whole life as a pale, red headed fella. So, I say this, with authority: white people are dicks.
According to Smithsonian.com, white pioneers and archeologists in the 18th and 19th centuries pumped out a bullshit story about Cahokia, once the largest Native American city north of Mexico, as having been built by the Welsh, Vikings, Hindus – anyone but the indigenous population:
The city of Cahokia is one of many large earthen mound complexes that dot the landscapes of the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and across the Southeast. Despite the preponderance of archaeological evidence that these mound complexes were the work of sophisticated Native American civilizations, this rich history was obscured by the Myth of the Mound Builders, a narrative that arose ostensibly to explain the existence of the mounds. Examining both the history of Cahokia and the historic myths that were created to explain it reveals the troubling role that early archaeologists played in diminishing, or even eradicating, the achievements of pre-Columbian civilizations on the North American continent, just as the U.S. government was expanding westward by taking control of Native American lands.
So yeah: it's hard to claim that you're displacing or irradiating a gaggle of savages when they prove themselves to be part of a society with a culture and history that's just as complex as your own.
Cahokia's collection of earthen mound structures aren't the only ones said to have been created by a mysterious group of builders. Similar sites can be found all over Ohio, the Mississippi Valley and well into the Southeast. Read the rest