January 5, 2018
Great people doing great things: How these three men are changing their communities
Many Native Americans, especially those living on reservations, struggle with poverty, lack of education, substance abuse and family violence. While the tribal unit usually offers some support to overcome these problems, young Native Americans are in desperate need of positive role models. I [Tamara Bolton] found three such men, each one incredibly talented and educated in their chosen fields of business, science and the arts. They are not only actively helping their tribes and communities, but they are all giving back to us collectively, as Americans, in a big way. By sharing their stories of overcoming the odds, I hope to inspire not only other Native Americans but young people everywhere.
Rift Growing Between Ecological Activists and Tribes
Indigenous communities say they’ve had enough of activists invading their lands, misleading them about their agendas and using hard-line tactics against those who don’t agree.
With flowing long hair, stoic expression and tribal garb, Martin Louie, the hereditary chief of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in north-central British Columbia, more than looked and acted the part of an aggrieved leader in the epic fight against the Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.
He was quoted in the campaign’s news releases, filed complaints to the United Nations and spoke defiantly to investors. Environmental group Stand.earth even described him as the “poster boy” for Indigenous opposition to Enbridge Inc.’s pipeline.
The $7-billion pipeline was eventually cancelled last year, but Louie didn’t actually want to sink the project. Lost in the heat of the public battle was that he really just wanted to win more money for his impoverished community than the “ridiculous” $70,000 a year being offered by the company.
Louie’s experience is indicative of a widening rift between Indigenous communities and activists over natural resources, particularly in British Columbia, the focal point of major green campaigns generously funded by U.S. interests to thwart oil and gas exports.
This is Resilience: Ten Photos from Indian Country
By the numbers, Native Americans reliably top lists of violence, poverty, unemployment, and addiction in the United States. Taken alone, the data paint a dismal picture of intractable, inescapable poverty.
But on reservations and in communities, the picture was a whole lot more complex in 2017.
As I have for several years, I [Mary Annette Pember] spent most of 2017 traveling through Indian Country for the stories I was covering. An old-school journalist, I travel simply and close to the ground; I keep a loose schedule so that stories have a chance to emerge. I spend many hours just chatting with folks.
In 2017, I was gifted with a glimpse of the people behind the damning data. Their lives were far grander and more complex than I imagined. This year, I had a front row seat to the quiet tactics many Native folks employed to protect and nurture each other and their communities. I met people who reminded me that Natives are the original observational scientists, adept at on-the-fly invention. The people I met harbored few illusions about material wealth; rather, they embraced the nourishing spirituality of their cultures.
The Essential Guide to Taro (and It's significance in Native Hawaiian Culture)
In Hawai‘i, kalo is so much more than a primary food source. To kanaka maoli, this canoe plant widely cultivated around the world is the source of life. One version of the Hawaiian creation story describes how kalo grew from the first-born son of Wākea (sky father) and Papa (earth mother). Their child was stillborn and buried, and out of his body grew the kalo plant. Papa became pregnant again and gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Hāloa (everlasting breath) in honor of his older brother, the kalo. Hāloa is considered the first Hawaiian person and, according to the chant, all Hawaiians trace their roots back to him and to his older brother, the kalo plant.
Deep respect for kalo can be felt at Ka Papa Lo‘i ‘o Kānewai, a 1-acre lo‘i hidden in a gully off Dole Street in the shadow of the UH dorms. It’s a thriving patch, with dozens of Hawaiian kalo varieties growing amid native and indigenous trees and shrubs. About 25,000 people—from Hawaiian immersion school children to downtown workers on corporate retreats to visitors from Japan—help out at the lo‘i every year, learning about its history and the cultural importance of kalo before getting to work.
“Taro is so important,” says Edward Makahiapo Cashman, the director of Kānewai and Ka Papa Lo‘i ‘o Punalu‘u, an informal organization of local taro farmers dedicated to preserving Native Hawaiian kalo varieties.
The ancestral ties to kalo resonate with him every day. “Even for me, the way I hold it, carry it, store it, it’s very purposeful,” he says.
You might also enjoy...
DNA FROM ICE AGE BABY BACKS THEORIES
DNA analysis of a six-week-old baby girl, buried some 11,500 years ago in what is now Alaska, has identified her as a member of a previously unknown Native American population. The discovery strongly supports the theory that the Americas were settled by people from Siberia, and presents scientists with the genetic key to better understanding how ancient humans migrated to North America from Asia.
Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017 highlighted its evolving relationship with Indigenous people. Too often in that history, voices other than those from First Nations did the talking for them. That's why in this episode we're featuring the stories of three Indigenous people told in their own words, people whose lives embody this changing relationship and the multitude of new realities they face. The episode has no interviewer. It's just them and their stories.
On January 1, 2018, a new YouTube educational channel called Sovereign Stories launched its first short animation. The channel will operate under the umbrella of the National Peace Academy, an organization dedicated to peace building, diversity, and inclusion. Sovereign Stories will post multiple videos per week throughout the course of the year, slowly guiding followers through Native American history, policy and laws, stereotypes and misconceptions, contemporary issues, historic and prominent figures, and more.
Add "There, There" and "The Color of Christ" to your Reading Lists
Tommy Orange is a bright and rising star in the literary landscape. His first novel, “There There” is due out in June 2018 and is published by Alfred A. Knopf. It is already receiving rave reviews by authors such as Sherman Alexie, author of “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” and Pam Houston, “Cowboys Are My Weakness”.
Read more -OR- Buy it Here
In their 2012 book, “The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America,” Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey look at how the imagery of Jesus Christ as a person of European descent—i.e., a white person—has affected the way Blacks, Native-Americans, whites and other ethnic groups in the U.S. interpret what is sacred.