This Week in Native American News - July 1, 2016

This Week in Native American News - July 1, 2016

More Native Americans Are Casting Their Vote

every native vote counts pin

Presidential election stories are everywhere. He did this. She did that. But when it comes down to who will make the best president, Native Americans are making their voices heard.

Despite receiving their right to vote almost a century ago, four years AFTER women could vote, voter turnout among Native Americans is incredibly low. In an effort to increase voter numbers, advocates have, in the past, set up satellite voting locations, registered voters at powwows, and increased awareness of issues on reservations and areas with heavy Native populations.

In states like New Mexico and Alaska where Natives make up more than 10% of the population, their vote is important and could change the outcome of elections. 

“If we show up to vote,” she [Lea Whiteford, Montana Senator] said, “we can make some pretty substantial changes — if we put forth an effort.” Read full story.

Mele Murals Express Native Hawaiian History & Culture

John "Prime" Hina, one of the artists featured in "Mele Murals," painting a community mural in Waimea, Hawaii.     Photo credit: Evan Loney/NBC News

John "Prime" Hina, one of the artists featured in "Mele Murals," painting a community mural in Waimea, Hawaii. Photo credit: Evan Loney/NBC News

A new documentary, "Mele Murals," which was started as a Kickstarter project, shows the power of street art for today's Native Hawaiian youth. Filmed over the last three years by ʻŌiwi TV, Hawaii's only indigenous television network, it explores the resurgence of Hawaiian culture led by the younger generation. Read the full story here.

"Mele Murals" can be seen in small episodes on ʻŌiwi TV

And while they're at it, Hawaiian's are working to save their ocean, too.

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands was once the world's largest marine reserve, protecting 140,000 square miles of critical ocean habitat. This year, Native Hawaiians want to expand Papahānaumokuākea to cover 625,507 square miles. The expansion would add protections to key ecosystems, including more open ocean waters, deep-sea habitats, and offshore seamounts (underwater mountains) - areas that house species found nowhere else in the world.

To many Hawaiians, Papahānaumokuākea is also a sacred area, the source of all life and where the spirits return after their earthly hosts die. In the Hawaiian view of the universe, humans appeared after islands, waters, flora, and fauna, (sounds a lot like the creation story in Genesis!), and it is therefore our responsibility to protect these resources. Read the full story here.

Why isn't Native Food Trendy?

Ben Jacobs, the owner of Tocabe, at its original location on W. 44th Ave. in Denver. Photo credit: Emily Jan/The Atlantic

Ben Jacobs, the owner of Tocabe, at its original location on W. 44th Ave. in Denver. Photo credit: Emily Jan/The Atlantic

In any major city, you can find restaurants featuring a huge variety of international and cultural cuisines, but you're unlikely to find a Native American restaurant. It is surprising that Native restaurants aren't popping up with the growing popularity of whole foods and locally sourced ingredients since that's the foundation of Native food. And for years the culinary world has been saying, "Native food is the next big trend!", but it hasn't happened. So why not? Read the full story here.

And if you happen to find a Native restaurant... be sure to stop in! Maybe they'll be serving this:

Thousand Year Old Squash is Making a Comeback

Gete Kosman Squash

This Gete Kosman squash is one of a few varieties of plants that have come back to life thanks to Native farmers and historians. As to the origin of these seeds, one story says that a clay pot holding seeds was unearthed in Wisconsin and from which have grown this ancient squash. 

Whether or not the story is true, Kevin Finney, executive director of the Jijak Foundation, calls the squash "heroic." 

Yebishawn Old Shield says, "There is spirit within those seeds. So that's why we want to keep revitalizing things like this, and keep building things like this, to provide for those next seven generations, [and to remember] the past seven generations, that because of them, we're here. Because of them, those seeds are still here as well." Read the full story here.

Since we're already talking about Native Foods...

Who knew frybread was so controversial?

New Tidbits


5 Lies Your History Teacher Taught You About Native Americans - Brush up on your history this 4th of July Weekend.


A Yukon Tourism group is now offering a "100% immersive experience" into First Nations culture. Hike the Native trails, sleep in a traditional moss and bark shelter, and take part in moose-tanning. Read more here.


Another movie to watch for: "The Seventh Fire," a documentary about Native American gang culture on a northern Minnesota reservation. Due to open July 22nd in New York. There are a lot of big names involved in this film's creation. See if it's showing near you.