Manataka American Indian Council Volume XII Issue 4 APRIL 2008
SMOKE SIGNAL NEWS
Manataka - Preserving The Past Today For Tomorrow
|Grace Azak, Nisga'a|
|1||Website Updates:||Lots of Great Stories|
Feature Story 1:
Mother Earth Watch:
|Organic farms reduce greenhouse gas|
Grandmother Carol Spirit Dove
Grandmother Carol Petersen:
|1||Tribal News:||Sovereignty, Casinos,Trust Settlement|
|1||Education:||Teaching About American Indians|
|1||Inspirational Thoughts::||Thank the Creator|
|2||Legends of Old:||Dog Chief - Blackfoot Legend|
|2||Feature Story 2:|
Letters to the Editor:
|Manataka Get 'Em All|
|2||Organic Consumer Watch:||Organic and Natural Care Products|
|2||Elder's Meditations:||Don Jose Matusuwa, Huichol|
|Trust Decision: Ignoring History,,,|
|2||Health:||Treating Cancer -- With Herbs|
|2||Plant Medicine:||Red Raspberries...Yummmy!|
|2||Fluoride:||World Council of Elders Takes a Stand|
|2||Animal Rights and Wrongs:||A||Yellowstone's Buffalo Under Siege|
|2||Endangered Sacred Sites:||America's Oldest Urban Site|
|Hill & Holler:||NCAA Bans Indian Mascots|
|Announcement:||Manataka Gathering Announcement|
|History:||Exemplar of Liberty: Part 3|
Grandfather Hawk Speaks:
Grandfather King Coke Speaks:
|3||Feature Story 3::|
|Elder's Meditations:||Joseph Rael, Pubelo|
|Women's Council:||Dr. Paula Gunn Allen|
|Food & Nutrition:|
|Book Reviews:||Four Books Ya Gotta Read...|
|Healing Prayer Basket:||Crossing Over, Sickness, and Memorials|
|Manataka Business:||Upcoming Survival Seminar Series|
WANNA BECOME A MEMBER OF MANATAKA?
TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO JOIN!
Read details now
Feather Walker Floating to GoN
Halito and O'siyo it is Feather Walker
here. Is there anyone who'd like to go to the GoN with
mama and I this year? The Gathering of Nations
Powwow is April 24- 26, 2008 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Ticket prices are: $32.00 for a 3 day pass and $25.50 for a two day pass. Thursday only is $14.00 for Miss World Indian contest. Friday is $17.00 and the big Saturday is $19.00. Last day to buy advance tickets online is April 10, 2008.
Southwest airlines is giving a discount on
tickets. You can reach them at 1800-IFLYSWA. Frontier
Airlines also offers a discount at $224.19 per person (coach).
Amtrak train also gives a discount for GoN goers. Call 1-800-
USARAIL. RV Rentals: 888-438-7844
We have enough room in our van for 4 more
people. We would like you to go with us and help drive our van.
Leaving from Little Rock on April 22 and returning on April 28.
Email me if you want one of the seats and can help drive and share
travel expenses. We're gonna' have fun!
Quality Inn around $64.40. Hilton Garden Inn at $108.00 per night. Hilton is $123.00. Make reservations early! Car rental starts at around $25 per day at Economy Car Rental. There are others.
Let's get excited! It's POWWOW time! Please let me know ASAP!
Angela Feather Walker Angieteen14@yahoo.com
"As Elders, it is our
place to show respect to our young people in order to gain respect." -Grace Azak,
The attitude of our leaders will be the attitude of the people. The attitude of the parents will be the attitude of the children. If respect is shown from above, respect will be developed below. If the Elders show respect, the younger people will be respectful. As above, so below. This happens because of interconnectedness. The heart of the Elders is connected to the heart of the youth.
in the fall season
the Elders and the youth.
By Don Coyhis
By Don Coyhis
MARCH WEBSITE UPDATES
|American NDN Women Veterans||Feature|
|American NDN Medal of Honor Winners||Feature|
|Cloning of Animals||Health Watch|
|Exemplar of Liberty: Chapter 2||History|
|Fluoride-Gate, naming names at CDC||Health Watch|
|Grandfathers Message of the Future||Feature|
|It is Odd - Gram Selma Palmer||Grandmothers Speak|
|Jim Thorpe, 1888-1953||History|
|Ma na ta ka||Grandmothers Speak|
|NDN Trust Fund Stolen by Bureaucrats||Tribes and Nations|
|On Thin Ice||Animal Rights|
|Origin of the Ghost Dance||Legends|
|Rainbow Crow - A Lenni Lenape Story||Legends|
|Salt Song Singers Mourn Ancestors||Sacred Sites|
|Spirit Speaks: Gaia Will Endure||Environment|
|Strong Medicine Speaks||Women's Council|
|Sumac (Rhus glabra) Plant Medicine||Plant Medicine|
|Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Esq.||Women's Council|
|NEW TRADING POST ITEMS|
|Buffalo, Bear, Deer Robes||History Books|
|New American Indian FLAGS||Speak Cherokee Today!|
|Native Remedies - 7 New for Children||Creators Code: Planetary Survival|
|Spiritual Path Books||Book Reviews - Top NDN Books|
Using what Mother Nature left behind to create art
American Indian Family Needed in Beirut, Lebanon
A tourist attraction located in Beirut, Lebanon seeks to engage a family of Native American Indians to serve as full-time interpretive exhibit guides and interpreters. The family, wearing traditional regalia, will engage in cultural activities and life ways of the 1700-1800’s around a teepee lodge six days a week for one year. Food, lodging and overseas transportation will be provided. Local ground transportation and a small weekly stipend will also be provided. Please contact: Naim Boueri, Halabi Bldg. 2nd fl.0, Sami El Solh Street, Badaro, Beirut, Lebanon. email@example.com
What Is Your Spirit Name?
By Linda VanBibber
If you hang out with many First Nations people, you’ll eventually get asked about your spirit name. One Grandmother, Waynonaha Two Worlds, explains that to a native person, this is much more important than the legal name of a person. A person’s spirit name tells you something about the person, their personality, their mission in this life.
Because of the importance placed on the spirit name by Native cultures, non-Native people will often refer to their spirit name as their Indian name. According to Lakota tradition, the Naming Ceremony was one of the Seven Sacred Ceremonies given by White Buffalo Woman. One of the many ceremonies offered by Manataka American Indian Council, and one of the most anticipated at every gathering, is the Naming Ceremony.
Native American’s are not the only people who place great importance on name selection. All indigenous cultures have, or once had, at least one and sometimes several traditional naming rituals. The Dagara culture in West Africa ask the embryo at about six months gestation who they are and what is their purpose or message they carry from the realm of the ancestors. The name and the child’s purpose are recorded by village elders. The name of the child has a direct relationship to the child’s gifts for the community and serves as a reminder throughout an individual’s life of their mission here. It also serves to alert everyone in the village concerning the kind of education that the child will require to accomplish their mission and the entire community works to assure that the potential of the child is developed accordingly.
In many indigenous cultures there are multiple naming ceremonies. The name the child receives at birth may be a ‘nick name’, a name that the child will carry until his true name is discovered as he develops his gifts. In other cultures an individual may receive a new name at each critical point in life. A new name is selected when a person makes a commitment to a religious life, regardless of tradition. A new name is given at each new level of initiation in many religious traditions.
The importance that is attached to one’s name is universal. In today’s American society many people feel disconnected and many of the events of recent years reflect a longing to connect with their own souls and to discover their purpose in this life. Accordingly, some people in the dominant culture have studied with indigenous shamans and elders and have brought back many ceremonies which can be used to discover an individual’s spirit name. Many people who are attuned to spirit simply intuit their spirit names. Some spirit names are given because of the way a person responded in a life event.
At times the ‘authenticity’ of a spirit name is questioned if it was not bestowed by a spiritual elder, tribal leader or grandparent. Manataka does not judge the validity of names given by friends or relatives, or even if the individual adopts the name on their own. Who can say the name did not come from spirit?
“In the old days, Grandma and Grandpa would pray for a spirit name for the grandchild and bestow the name at birth or before. As the child grew and extraordinary events defined the character of the person, the Elders of the village asked the spirits for a new name or an additional name. Families today live far apart and the naming traditions of old have suffered to the point that many people who walk the Red Road do not have spirit names,” explains Lee Standing Bear Moore.
“The need to have a spirit name and not just a legal name is important. So over time, the Elders of Manataka prayerfully developed traditions for its members,” said Standing Bear.
At Manataka, the Naming Ceremony is the culmination of the person’s quest for their spirit name. The individual requesting a name is instructed to create a gift for the Rainbow Woman who is the Spirit of Manataka Mountain. During the creation of this gift, the person must pray for their name. The gift is then given to one of the elders at Manataka and is placed on a table for this purpose.
When elders are going up on the Mountain for ceremonies, they may be drawn to take one of these gifts up to the Mountain. The gift is offered on behalf of the seeker and prayers for a vision are offered as well. The Vision which is received by the Elder determines the spirit name of the seeker.
Names are only given at the gatherings during the Naming Ceremony. This event is much anticipated by all. It is a mystical and emotional moment in which everyone feels connected and involved; the feeling is similar to a new birth. There is that breathless moment of anticipation – who is this new person being named? What gifts to they bring to the community?
The Elder presenting the Naming describes in great detail the Vision received from the Mountain before the name is given. Many times there are tears in response to the great beauty that is shared at these moments. And often there is a collective sigh in response to the speaking of the new name. It is a truly beautiful event.
“When I received my name I cried and was so happy,” says Ceremonial Elder, Patti Blue Star Speaks Burdette. It is really a wonderful part of my path.”
The Naming ceremony is only one sacred ceremony offered by Manataka. At every gathering there is a Naming Ceremony, a Making of a Relative Ceremony for new members, and a Healing Ceremony. Sweat Lodge Purification Ceremonies are offered when possible and many gatherings include an Indian Wedding Ceremony. These ceremonies support the World-Wide community of Mantaka’s membership. In spirit we gather on the Mountain, even if we cannot be there in body.
Manataka™ American Indian Council is a non-profit, 501(3C), tax-exempt, educational, multi-cultural and religious organization made up of American Indian and non-Indian people dedicated to sharing our understanding of the Spiritual way of Native peoples. Manataka also offers a variety of community services and sponsors several public educational events throughout the year. For more information on Manataka American Indian Council visit www.manataka.org.
MOTHER EARTH WATCH
Organic farms reduce greenhouse gas
From Lauren Liora Zack, Manataka Correspondent
Britain's Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) reports that organic agriculture "has the potential to mitigate nearly 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions and save one-sixth of global energy use."
In addition, organic agriculture is more resistant to climate extremes like droughts and floods and, unlike industrial agriculture -- which moves carbon out of the soil and into the atmosphere -- organic farming captures carbon from the air and locks it back in the soil. Conventional agriculture produces an estimated 11% to 13% of greenhouse gasses and is "the main source" of methane and nitrous oxide.
In the UK, organic production is about 26% more energy efficient than chemically reliant farms while Greenhouse Gas emissions from Europe's organic acres are 48-66% lower per hectare.
Because organic systems collect 180% more solar energy -- equal to saving 64 gallons of fossil fuel per hectare--growing 10% of U.S. corn organically would save approximately "200 million gallons of oil equivalents."
Since nearly 18% of greenhouse gasses are due to deforestation, saving the world's forests may be the other most cost-effective way to stabilize the climate.
Pesticide Action Network North America
(PANNA) 49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA Phone: Fax: (415) 981-1991
NEVER NUKE PLASTIC
Hot Liquids Release
Harmful Chemical from Plastic Bottles
The clear, colorful plastic bottles often used by athletes and hikers to carry liquids release a chemical known to disrupt hormone function if the liquids they contain are hot, new research has confirmed.
The endocrine disrupting chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, is released when polycarbonate plastic is exposed to boiling water, according to University of Cincinnati scientists, whether the bottle is new or old.
The chemical, which is widely used in products such as reusable water bottles, food can linings, water pipes and dental sealants, has been shown to affect reproduction and brain development in animal studies.
Scott Belcher, PhD, and his team found when the same new and used polycarbonate drinking bottles were briefly exposed to boiling hot water, BPA was released up to 55 times more rapidly.
Polycarbonate plastic bottles like these release bisphenol A when exposed to boiling liquid. (Photo courtesy Scott Belcher)
"Previous studies have shown that if you repeatedly scrub, dish wash and boil polycarbonate baby bottles, they release BPA. That tells us that BPA can migrate from various polycarbonate plastics," explains Belcher, UC associate professor of pharmacology and cell biophysics. "But we wanted to know if ‘normal' use caused increased release."
"Inspired by questions from the climbing community, we went directly to tests based on how consumers use these plastic water bottles and showed that the only big difference in exposure levels revolved around liquid temperature," Belcher said. "Bottles used for up to nine years released the same amount of BPA as new bottles."
Belcher's team analyzed used polycarbonate water bottles from a local climbing gym and purchased new bottles of the same brand from an outdoor retail supplier.
All bottles were subjected to seven days of testing designed to simulate normal usage during backpacking, mountaineering and other outdoor adventure activities.
The researchers found that the amount of BPA released from new and used polycarbonate drinking bottles was the same, both in quantity and speed of release, into cool or temperate water.
But once the bottles were exposed to boiling water the speed of BPA release was 15 to 55 times faster, explains Belcher.
BPA is one of many manufactured chemicals classified as endocrine disruptors, which alter the function of the endocrine system by mimicking the role of the body's natural hormones.
"There is a large body of scientific evidence demonstrating the harmful effects of very small amounts of BPA in laboratory and animal studies, but little clinical evidence related to humans," explains Belcher. "There is a very strong suspicion in the scientific community, however, that this chemical has harmful effects on humans."
Belcher stresses that it is still unclear what level of BPA is harmful to humans, but he urges consumers to think about how cumulative environmental exposures might harm their health.
"BPA is just one of many estrogen-like chemicals people are exposed to, and scientists are still trying to figure out how these endocrine disruptors - including natural phyto-estrogens from soy which are often considered healthy - collectively impact human health," he says. "But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests it might be at the cost of your health."
The study was funded by a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant. It is published in today's issue of the journal "Toxicology Letters."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.
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Crow In The Snow
By Waynonaha Two Worlds
The winter of no sleep is here and with it now comes the winter of much snow and cold. The plants have not been able to rest under the snow for along time and need her blanket to sleep. Mother Earth, like some old bear who has not been able to go to sleep, is getting tired and needs her rest. I trust now she will find sleep and dreams for the spring time so that the medicine plants will be safe for yet another season.
Yesterday the snow came again blocking out the sun leaving us another layer of fluffy lacy beauty on the ground. I see the ice that clinging to the plants and roofs, form beautiful shapes around this old house. Many are in shapes of animals and birds and constantly transform for weeks.
Dolphins melt into bears and birds while new ice covers and melts again for yet another from to appear. All things in time change and it is a necessary process for the plants, animals, birds and all life on this Earth to go through.
As I pray for some reason in this world to be known I feel the hand of pain unlock its grip on my heart. I know in time as with the ice of winter it too will melt and release the spirit once again to bloom. For now I wait and watch the ever changing patterns form and reform in my life and on the land.
Just before I went to bed last night I saw the face of Grandmother Moon sitting behind the clouds. It was so good to see her face again; she was round and full holding her space in the sky world. I stood and watched her, sending a prayer out on my frozen breath, until my feet were too cold to stand in the open door longer.
Her pale winter face looked down on the silent frozen land, and for one moment I saw the earth as she does from her place in the sky world.. The roofs of the old houses that surround me, looked like giant sugar loaves all decorated with crystal ice. The trees making a popping and snapping sound, lay heavy with snow, as if someone had covered them in whipped cream.
Such beauty in all the frozen silence comes as a reward for staying inside for so many months of winter.
The cold creeps into my room around the old window frames, and I can see the curtains move when the wind blows there is so little insulation here. My tiny space heater is on keeping two of the rooms up here livable. At night all of that changes and I open my window to let in the clean cold air so that I can breathe it in to my dreams.
As I go this morning to make my prayers to the dawn, I see the show piled high and attempt to shovel a space so that the door can be opened if I should ever need to escape this way. The sky is clear with layers of pink coloring the horizon and I know it will be a good day to get outside for a while. I watch the lazy smoke drift from the chimney’s; so still is the air that the smoke stands suspended in the pink morning light like plume of cotton candy.
As I started to close the door I look at the snow on the roof again, I see a perfect outline of feathered wings, each feather imprinted in the snow along with the shape of the bird’s body. I thought of the days when I took my own children out to make snow angels in the new snow. Perhaps this Crow also was creating its own snow angel for me to see this morning. I am so grateful for such small signs of hope and beauty these days. In some ways they are visual answers to my prayers that I send too Waken Tonken and I am grateful.
My friends the Crows come calling each day letting me know that they too need to be fed. There is no need for an alarm clock the Crows are my constant reminder each day to wake up and live.
I see two of the Crows in the trees from my window they are talking and looking in at me. The birds are my constant companions on these winter mornings here alone. I toss out some bread that I keep here just for them. The Crows reward me with feathers and chatter as thanks for sharing.
Yesterday a Blue Jay came to join the noisy den and gave his own impression of winter. Today I will set out some meat and oranges that they love as well as a special treat for the full moon and the celebration of winter. This is the month of Frost in the Lodge or the Moon of Popping Trees.
Many blessings, Waynonaha
Copywrite © 2008 by Waynonaha Two Worlds. All publication rights reserved.
No offense intended for any individuals or tribes.
Three Indian commandos were out in the Iraqi desert. "I understand that you
Indians have brought your own indigenous survival equipment" ventured their
"Sir, I have brought an entire barrel cactus" said the Pima guy proudly. "When I
get too hot, I just cut off the top and take a drink." The captain looked
Not to be outdone, the Pueblo guy said " Sir, I have brought the sacred corn
pollen. When I get too hot, I pray with it, and then it rains". The captain
looked even more impressed.
Not to be outdone the Pawnee guy said "I brought a car door off a 1959 Chevy
Impala". "Why would you do that?" the captain asked. "Well," said the Pawnee guy
"when I get too hot, I just roll down the window".
Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library
It was a clear summer day. The blue, blue sky dropped low over the edge of the green level land. A large yellow sun hung directly overhead.
The singing of birds filled the summer space between earth and sky with sweet music. Again and again sang a yellow- breasted birdie -- "Koda Ni Dakota!" He insisted upon it. "Koda Ni Dakota!" which was "Friend, you're a Dakota! Friend, you're a Dakota!"
Perchance the birdie meant the avenger with the magic arrow, for there across the plain he strode. He was handsome in his paint and feathers, proud with his great buckskin quiver on his back and a long bow in his hand. Afar to an eastern camp of cone-shaped teepees he was going. There over the Indian village hovered a large red eagle threatening the safety of the people. Every morning rose this terrible red bird out of a high chalk bluff and spreading out his gigantic wings soared slowly over the round camp ground. Then it was that the people, terror-stricken, ran screaming into their lodges. Covering their heads with their blankets, they sat trembling with fear. No one dared to venture out till the red eagle had disappeared beyond the west, where meet the blue and green.
In vain tried the chieftain of the tribe to find among his warriors a powerful marks- man who could send a death arrow to the man-hungry bird. At last to urge his men to their utmost skill he bade his crier proclaim a new reward.
Conceive Peace and Beauty
Magdala, Maya Priestess
My Beautiful Sisters all over the world
Conception time has come to all of us, as
meditation-understanding-acceptance-renunciation, it is
to be able to conceive in all our being the power of
giving birth to the new world.
Can we conceive ourselves in such a
freedom of the old paradigms? Can we conceive the
human being in such a freedom and bonding with nature?
Can we conceive ourselves full of light?
Can we embrace the thought of the
magnificence of the creation and the power to create a
new world that comes out from the very very center of
our essence? Can we conceive a perfect peace in our
Can we realize the divine perception of the order and
the perfect harmony that it brings into the spirit of
all human beings?
Oh my sisters, we all need to make the same dance, all
together, the dance of the celebration of life as
sacred, the celebration of the freedom of human being in
the original form, perfection, and lovable, and
magnificent human being, the perfect reflection of the
goddess, that born into the realm of a perfect world, in
the perfect harmony with all the cosmos.
Lets all conceive all this beauty at the same time, lets
all manifest the conception of the true human being, the
one that has nothing to hide, that is the biggest
achievement of human being is all about.
Can we conceive in all our being, with
every single cell in our body, making love the
connection of every part of our body, and use our
manifestation to give birth to such a perfect world?
YES, we can, yes we all wan to, yes we
all can embrace the conception, the re-birth is always
there. Lets all prepare the new world, we need to
make a lots of preparations to welcome the new realm of
All our body is already changing to
receive the new conception, the vibration is there
and we all feel in a rush for preparation, lets put
beautiful the place, cleaning temple is necessary, we
need colors, lets bring the rainbows, lets invite all
the creatures of the creation, and our neighbors, and
all our family, lets make everybody participate in the
giving birth of the perfect conception! lets created
Bless be the fruit of thy conception. it
is indeed a blessing for the whole world! ...you are a
Conceive Peace and Beauty
by Magdala, Maya Priestess
My Beautiful Sisters all over the world
Conception time has come to all of us, as a global meditation-understanding-acceptance-renunciation, it is to be able to conceive in all our being the power of giving birth to the new world.
Can we conceive ourselves in such a freedom of the old paradigms? Can we conceive the human being in such a freedom and bonding with nature? Can we conceive ourselves full of light?
Can we embrace the thought of the magnificence of the creation and the power to create a new world that comes out from the very very center of our essence? Can we conceive a perfect peace in our heart?
Can we realize the divine perception of the order and the perfect harmony that it brings into the spirit of all human beings?
Oh my sisters, we all need to make the same dance, all together, the dance of the celebration of life as sacred, the celebration of the freedom of human being in the original form, perfection, and lovable, and magnificent human being, the perfect reflection of the goddess, that born into the realm of a perfect world, in the perfect harmony with all the cosmos.
Lets all conceive all this beauty at the same time, lets all manifest the conception of the true human being, the one that has nothing to hide, that is the biggest achievement of human being is all about.
Can we conceive in all our being, with every single cell in our body, making love the connection of every part of our body, and use our manifestation to give birth to such a perfect world?
YES, we can, yes we all wan to, yes we all can embrace the conception, the re-birth is always there. Lets all prepare the new world, we need to make a lots of preparations to welcome the new realm of consciousness.
All our body is already changing to receive the new conception, the vibration is there and we all feel in a rush for preparation, lets put beautiful the place, cleaning temple is necessary, we need colors, lets bring the rainbows, lets invite all the creatures of the creation, and our neighbors, and all our family, lets make everybody participate in the giving birth of the perfect conception! lets created beautiful!
Bless be the fruit of thy conception. it is indeed a blessing for the whole world! ...you are a blessing!
I am you
Cosmovision: Pérez Codex
By Carol Perez Petersen
When I return from visiting medicine wheels, pyramids, springs, and mountains, I must integrate enormous realms of the human senses. Often I am overwhelmed emotionally, physically, and mentally. The senses of spirit are heightened and in order for me to find a balance, I will fast from eating foods. The right time for me to fast from foods is when I have a constant heartburn and fullness in my belly. I have not even begun the day and I am full. There is plenty of information stored in my body and it is the perfect time to digest spiritual awareness. I have even considered my cravings for sweetness and reframed the tugs to indulge with telling myself I am craving me. I am the one who is sweet and not the food.
I am incredibly passionate about sacred sites. They call me to them otherwise; I would be naïve about the sacred laws of geometry and incarnation portals with the cosmos. I moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico to be near Elder Boulder Giant Rock known to the keepers of her as Great Mother Stone. She is an emissary spirit Soul of Mother Earth. Great Mother Stone sits in the Mojave Desert, southeastern California.
Great Mother Stone has a companion. It is a crystal hill pyramid, which is a portal to and from Venus, in the inner world. Communication portals are necessary at a time when the Earth Mother Speaks. We must take care to listen. The seers and knower of distant times were guided to the vortex to listen. Sacred sites are for communicating with the heart.
Great Mother Stone is a place where gathered gentle people of the North with the South “To make good relations, share foods freely and fairly with kindness”.
Conference eyes American-Indian sovereignty
The issue of sovereignty and American
Indians is ever-changing, and experts on the issue fear it's become too
susceptible to changes in political administrations.
To address these and other issues, the nonprofit Foundation for California held a one-day conference last week to discuss American Indians' history, their relations with the federal government and current sovereignty status in American jurisprudence.
Legal scholars, judges and political scientists attending the conference exchanged ideas on establishing a more coherent policy.
Alfred Balitzer, founder and chairman of the foundation, said the conference was not aimed at a specific legislative or judicial body. But he said: "The timing is good, especially [since] we see a number of cases are coming up now to the Supreme Court on sovereignty."
For example, the Indian tribe San Manuel and National Labor Relations Board are involved in a lawsuit over union organizing at tribal casinos.
In that case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a NLRB ruling that federal labor law could apply to tribe-owned businesses.
The judge ruled that "the tribal sovereignty is not absolute autonomy."
But Ralph Rossum, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in California, argued that the Constitution protects tribal sovereignty. He said in the Sacramento Bee that the Supreme Court should intervene and "repudiate [lower courts'] departures from clear and controlling precedents, and perform its historic role of protecting tribal interests and sovereignty."
Tribes challenge federal ruling on off-reservation casinos
A major policy change this year by the
Department of Interior will slow the growth of the multibillion-dollar
Indian casino industry, which has gained controversy for developments in
communities far from reservation land.
The change, made in a series of letters and a memo issued in early January, essentially rejected 22 applications for new off-reservation casinos, by hinging their approval on a single criterion: the distance from the reservation.
While the change was hailed by opponents of the sprawling business that raked in $25.1 billion in gambling revenues in 2006, many tribes attacked the ruling as unfair and unjust, robbing them of what many consider their only economic opportunity.
"We were shocked by the lack of due process involved," said Mark Van Norman, executive director of the National Indian Gaming Association. "The Department of Interior created a new regulatory standard one day, didn't notify anybody and applied it the next day."
The St. Regis Mohawks in upstate New York, one of two tribes that sued the department, called the decision racist and paternalistic because it purported to look out for the best interests of the tribes by supporting the integrity of reservation life.
"It's outrageous for us as Mohawk people to be told that we can't sustain our community relations," said St. Regis Chief Lorraine White.
White said male members of the tribe had for decades traveled to faraway construction sites to support their families on the reservation in upstate New York.
"What a bunch of bulls--- when you're talking to the very people who actually built New York City with their hands," White said.
When its development partner, Empire Resorts Inc., abandoned it following the change, the St. Regis tribe dropped its suit and called on Congress to overturn the policy or have its application grandfathered in.
The other tribe suing, the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, are pressing on with their suit, which alleges the department violated the due process clause of the Constitution and acted arbitrarily.
But several groups, including tribes with existing casinos, hailed the change.
U.S. Tribes Will Have To Settle On Land Trusts
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that
the Interior Department is unable to complete an accounting of billions of
dollars owed to Indian landholders across the country.
"It is now clear that completion of the required accounting is an impossible task," Judge James Robertson said in a 165-page decision in a federal lawsuit that alleges Interior officials mismanaged Indian trust funds.
Still, Robertson said the dispute is not hopeless.
"It does mean that the time has come to bring this suit to a close," he said of the 11-year-old lawsuit.
Lawyers for the American Indian landowners say the government could owe Indians more than $100 billion for payments and interest on oil, gas and other leases. Robertson said he plans to schedule a hearing in about 30 days to discuss how to come up with an appropriate remedy.
The Palm Springs office manages about $30 million in leases a year for members of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
Elouise Cobell, a Blackfeet Indian from Montana who is the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit, hailed the judge's ruling.
"This is a great day in Indian Country," she said in a statement. "We've argued for over ten years that the government is unable to fulfill its duty to render an adequate historical accounting, much less redress the historical wrongs heaped upon the individual Indian trust beneficiaries."
Tina Kreisher, an Interior Department spokeswoman, said department officials were reviewing the ruling and would not comment before they could carefully examine it.
Jim Cason, associate deputy Interior secretary, has said previously that systemic problems do not persist throughout the department and that staff has worked diligently to do an accounting of the trust lands.
The government has offered to settle the suit for $7 billion - a proposal the plaintiffs rejected.
The agency manages more than $300 million a year in royalties and leases for 300,000 Indians nationally.
The 10-day trial in October included testimony by Robert McCarthy, an attorney at the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Palm Springs, who testified about accounting deficiencies in his office.
Nancy Conrad, a spokeswoman for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, said the tribe was reviewing the decision and are trying to determine what it means for tribal members
TEACHING ABOUT AMERICAN INDIANS
Teaching Resources for Educators
Here are resources if you've ever wanted classroom-teaching activities on American Indians beyond the Thanksgiving holiday or the history of American Indian Education or best teaching practices addressing American Indian learners. Resources include books, magazines, articles, bibliographies, maps, etc. Although often times there is overlap, these resources are organized in four categories:
Teaching About American Indians
Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for American Indian Learners
Researching American Indian Education
"All that I see teaches me to thank the Creator for all I cannot see."
~Henrietta C. Mears
~Submitted by Sheri awi Anida Waya Burnett
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