This Week in Native American News


What is going on with all these suicide emergencies?

People take part in a candlelight vigil Attawapiskat. Photograph: Chris Wattie/Reuters

People take part in a candlelight vigil Attawapiskat. Photograph: Chris Wattie/Reuters

Once again, a native community finds itself in the midst of a suicide emergency. This time, the Attawapiskat of Northern Ontario called a state of emergency when 11 people attempted suicide in one night. Read more about their situation here.

Less than a month ago, we told you about a similar situation in Manitoba and in South Dakota. So, what is going on? Why are reservations at such a high risk for these types of emergencies? This article from The Guardian sums it up: 

“You can’t attempt cultural genocide for 140 years, for seven generations – the last of these schools closing their doors in 1996 – and not expect some very real fallout from that,” author Joseph Boyden wrote this week in Maclean’s. “Attawapiskat is a brutal example.” Read the full article here.

The article speaks to the Canadian history of Native Americans, but the history is the same in the U.S.

So, what can we do? We can't change what happened in the past, but we can work to correct the damage it has done. At Lutheran Indian Ministries, we hire and support people like Rick McCafferty and Rick and Linda Martin, who have the training and experience to deal with the systemic and personal issues of the heart, and we continue to grow our reach in and around our ministry sites, sharing the message of hope through Jesus Christ.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government is trying to their part.

Want to do something yourself? 4 Things You Can Do to Help


The Native World Mourns Joseph Medicine Crow

Native American Crow historian Joe Medicine Crow, in 2008, addresses then-presidential-candidate Barack Obama. Photo credit: James Woodcock / Billings Gazette 

Native American Crow historian Joe Medicine Crow, in 2008, addresses then-presidential-candidate Barack Obama. Photo credit: James Woodcock / Billings Gazette 

The last surviving Crow war chief passed away on April 4th at the age of 102. 

“He was a national treasure,” said Herman J. Viola, a historian who collaborated with Mr. Medicine Crow. “There is simply nobody like him. You meet Joe Medicine Crow, you’re shaking hands with the 19th century.” Read more about his life here.

Mr. Medicine Crow was also a prolific author. Check out his books here.*


Federal Government Trying to Supply Traditional Foods but Missing Mark

A bison (left) and blue cornmeal. (Photos: Anna Ferensowicz/Getty Images; Ellen Freytag/Flickr)

A bison (left) and blue cornmeal. (Photos: Anna Ferensowicz/Getty Images; Ellen Freytag/Flickr)

In an attempt to supply traditional foods to native communities, the USDA's Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations began delivering bison meat and blue corn meal to a select number of participants. The effort is a push to incorporate, not only traditional, cultural foods, but, also healthier, more natural foods. However, the new program is being met with lukewarm response. 

“We haven’t had that much success with people taking it,” said Roberts, who was born on the reservation. “It’s not part of our region’s culture. Blue cornmeal would be more a tradition for the South.” The heat- and dry weather–loving corn has deep roots in the Southwest, where it was a staple of the Hopi tribe in northeastern Arizona. A Native American ingredient is not, in most instances, an ingredient that is culturally resonant with all Native Americans.... "The one thing we’re waiting for is wild rice. Wild rice is really the Midwest region’s cultural food,” Roberts said. Read the full article here.

This confusion confirms the misunderstanding outsiders have about native culture. Native Americans are not all the same. Cherokee, Pawnee, Cree - they have different languages, traditions, and beliefs. These differences show up in our ministry, as well. Successful native ministry has to focus on that groups' traditions and culture and draw the appropriate lines between traditional and Biblical stories. Missing the mark often leads to a lukewarm response.


Indigenous Comic Con to hit Albuquerque in November

Enjoyed learning about native gaming last week? Well, now you can indulge in the first ever Comic Con dedicated to native creators.

Featuring Indigenous creators, illustrators, writers, designers, actors, and producers from the worlds of comic books, games, sci-fi, fantasy, film, tv, and graphic novels. The Indigenous Comic Con seeks to highlight the amazing work that brings understanding about the Indigenous experience to the world of popular culture!

Get your indigenerd on!


*Affiliate income supports Lutheran Indian Ministries.