This Week in Native American News


Australian Aboriginal Boxing Star Speaking in US

Professional speaker, boxer, and former rugby player, Joe Williams arrived in the US this week to start his speaking tour addressing mental health issues among Native Americans. Williams is Wiradjuri, the native tribe of central New South Wales, Australia, and hopes that his story, including daily battle with suicidal thoughts, will open up more dialogue and being the healing process among the Native communities. Because Australian aboriginals faced many of the same issues as Native Americans, both groups are more susceptible to suicide than the general public.

"As much as a lot of people say that Americans are ahead of us, in this field in particular, speaking about 'living the experience', we're miles ahead of them," Mr Williams said. "At this minute, they don't have a lot of people who speak about their lived experience in depth." Read the full story here.

Over the next two weeks, Williams will visit Cincinnati, New York, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.


Federal Grant to Begin Improvements in Education and Revitalize Native Languages

Salish Road Signs (Photo from the Paris Review)

Salish Road Signs (Photo from the Paris Review)

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition has granted $3.2 million to advance the education of American Indians and Alaska and Hawaii Natives, as well as to preserve and revitalize Native American languages. Read more about the grant here. 

This grant was released amid numerous reports of failing Bureaus of Indian Education schools and a large world-wide push to save endangered languages.

Want to read more on languages and how they change (or don't change)? This is an interesting interview with Sarah Thomason, a linguist professor who is one of less than 40 people to speak Montana Salish.


Dictionary.com says Magic is Practiced at Powwows

Piggybacking on the Native uproar after the release of J.K. Rowling's newest book, History of magic in North America, Indian Country Today reporter, Sarah Ortegon, recently noticed that dictionary.com, a popular online source for definitions and synonyms, defined Powwows as:

"(Among North American Indians) a ceremony, especially one accompanied by magic, feasting, and dancing, performed for the cure of a disease, success in a hunt, etc."

Ortegon's response:

"We do not practice magic while we dance. We use our bodies to tell living stories that have [been] passed on from generation to generation," she wrote in a message. "Although, the ultimate goal of colonialism was to make our way of life disappear, pow wows have only helped keep some of our traditions alive." Read the full article here.

Family Members Petition for the Bodies of Native Children Buried at Carlisle School

Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which housed over 10,600 native children from 1879 to 1918, was established to reform the savage Indian into a well-mannered Christian. Their motto: "Kill the Indian. Save the Man." The school removed young children from their homes, placed them in foreign settings, and punished them for speaking their native language. And next to the school, some 200 native children are buried, most of them in unmarked graved. 

Almost 100 years later, family members are requesting the bodies be returned to their tribal lands to be laid at rest properly with the rest of their family, but many are be forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops and rejections. Read the full story here.

Learn more about the history of Indian Boarding Schools and their effect on Native Society in this PBS documentary.


Looking for a good historical read? Check out the newly released, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andres Resendez.