March 2, 2018
Great People Doing Great Things: Navajo Dentist Returns to Serve Her Community
Patients walking through the doors of the dental clinic where Crystal Willie Sekaquaptewa practices in Monument Valley, Utah, have often traveled at least two hours to see her.
They’ve crossed barren plains and desert or wound down mountain roads, more than likely not encountering an urban area or a shopping center to speak of, and maybe not even another traveler.
And there’s a good chance that their only language is one of the several Navajo dialects spoken across the 27,000-square mile expanse of the Navajo reservation spanning Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.
“It’s very rural,” said Sekaquaptewa, the first Native American woman dentist in the Utah Navajo Health System. “Even when they get to Monument Valley, all we have is the clinic, a grocery store, a gas station, two hotels — and all that is pretty spread out.
“It’s not for everyone,” she said, “but I love it. I feel like I’m in a great place to serve this community, to serve my people.”
When she was in preschool, Sekaquaptewa drew a picture of herself as a dentist. In third grade, she drew another picture of herself engaged in the same occupation and wrote “Dr. Crystal” in bold letters.
“And I remember my grandmother, she didn’t understand why someone would want to be a dentist,” Sekaquaptewa recalled. “My grandmother spoke no English, only Navajo. She’d never been to a doctor of any kind who looked like she looked, spoke how she spoke.
“I remember thinking how cool it would be if my grandmother had a Navajo doctor, someone who understood her language and her culture,” she said. “I had never seen a Navajo dentist. I started thinking that I wanted to be that dentist. And that became my goal. My grandmother was my drive.”
Homelessness in Hawaii: The Future of the Waianae Homeless Camp
For 15 months between 1993 and 1994, Kanahele led an occupation of Makapuu Beach Park that included 300 people, mostly Native Hawaiians. As the occupation generated international attention and tensions grew high, in 1994 Kanahele signed a 55-year lease on undeveloped, state-owned mauka lands for $3,000 per year, or $250 per month.
The newly relocated residents hacked away at the overgrown land and today, 24 years later, 80 people live in 20 houses that are powered by Hawaiian Electric Co. Water comes from the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. The city picks up trash in a communal dumpster. Septic tanks and leach fields take care of human waste. Pu‘uhonua o Waimanalo is working to develop more efficient energy systems; is trying to turn hydroponic fish effluent into a moneymaking business; has its own medical marijuana clinic; and is preparing to launch its own cryptocurrency in Japan called “Aloha Coin.”
“This is people who had nothing. They were homeless,” Kanahele said.
“We reinvented ourselves,” said Kanahele’s nephew, Brandon Maka‘awa‘awa.
In a statement last week, Borge said 200 to 250 people live in the homeless camp in Waianae at any given time.
“The vast majority are local people, and well over half are Native Hawaiian,” Borge wrote. “We want a dialogue with the people making decisions about our future,” Borge wrote in a statement. “We don’t want a sweep with only a few days’ notice. We want to keep our ohana together as much as possible. We want to share the solutions we’ve come up with to help other houseless people. We are open to exploring all options, including new locations.”
DLNR officials are considering proposing rules for Pu‘uhonua o Waianae that could go before the Board of Land and Natural Resources as soon as the board’s March meeting. If they get a lease similar to the one offered to Kanahele’s group, the residents of Pu‘uhonua o Waianae likely will face hard work clearing undeveloped state land.
The Hidden Cost of Federal Recognition
For a Native American tribe, federal recognition comes with a host of benefits, including housing, health and education funding. But the process of achieving that recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) can be difficult — particularly because the BIA requires tribes to demonstrate continuous existence as an Indian entity from colonial times to the present. That’s a standard that, as recent news shows, doesn’t match up with the reality of American history.
On Jan. 30, President Trump signed H.R. 984, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017, which granted federal recognition to six Virginia state-recognized Native American tribes via a special act of Congress rather than through the usual BIA process. The recognition means that members of the six tribes have achieved sovereign (albeit limited) status. Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner hailed the bill as having “righted a historical wrong.”
Yet the story of federal recognition for those six tribes—the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond—also shows that at least one particular “historical wrong” remains unaddressed. In fact, their story illuminates a central problem with the way Indian recognition is managed on the state and federal level, as it is based on a problematic idea of racial purity.
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Hawai‘i is often referred to as one of the most racially-diverse states in the union, a melting pot of humanity. But some combinations in the pot are rarer than others – like African-American Native Hawaiians, whose ancestors on both sides have struggled with identity through history. HPR’s Ku‘uwehi Hiraishi has this story.
Any Highway Can Be A Human Trafficking Corridor
On Feb. 22, communities across the province of Ontario took time to mark the first ever provincial anti-human trafficking day.
According to the OPP, across Ontario, more and more victims are being recruited from small towns and lured with promises of love and a ‘better life’. Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons for the purposes of exploitation, typically in the sex industry or for forced labour.
Marly Day-Bateman said, “The highways between Thunder Bay to the Sault and further east to Sudbury is a known corridor for smuggling humans. Indigenous women and girls are among the most vulnerable for human trafficking. When they come down from remote northern first nation communities to Thunder Bay or The Sault, they are often alone and don’t have money. They are lured into a relationship that takes them into a life of darkness. We need to stop this crime.”
7,000-Year-Old Native American Burial Site Found Underwater
In an unprecedented discovery, archaeologists identify a site where prehistoric people once buried their dead—now submerged beneath the waves.
Venice is Florida's unofficial capital of fossil hunting. Divers and beachcombers flock to this city on the Gulf Coast, mostly seeking palm-sized teeth of the Megalodon, the enormous shark species that went extinct 2 and half million years ago. In the summer of 2016, a diver searching for those relics picked up a barnacle-crusted jaw from a shallow spot off the shore of Manasota Key. The specimen sat on a paper plate in his kitchen for a couple weeks before he realized it was probably a human bone.
With a team of fellow underwater archaeologists, Duggins relocated the dive spot about 300 yards from the shore and 21 feet below the surface. “As soon as we were there it became clear that we were dealing with something new,” Duggins recalls. First, he spotted a broken arm bone on the seabed. Then, when he noticed a cluster of carved wooden stakes and three separate skull fragments in a depression, Duggins realized he might be dealing with a Native American bog burial site—one that had been inundated by sea level rise, but was miraculously preserved.
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“Assimilate or die.” That was the gist of it. As the 19th century came to a close, this was the choice faced by Native Americans whose land, culture, and tribal identities had been nearly erased by a century of militarized westward expansion. Massacres and reservations had been two approaches to the “Indian Problem.” But by the 1880s, a new line of thought was beginning to find support among East Coast reformers and church types. The idea: Native people were essentially as human any other “civilized” person at birth, and could be “lifted up” through education into the ranks of mainstream white America.
The Navajo Nation is the largest, acreage-wise, and most numerous, of the 500 or so Indian tribes that once roamed the land now known as the United States. That is not by accident. The Navajo people have their ancestors to thank for having stood up to the federal government 150 years ago to demand that they be returned to their homeland.
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Settlements on Kaho'olawe are believed to date back as far as the year 400. Native Hawaiians dedicated the island to Kanaloa, the Hawaiian god of the ocean. And over hundreds of years, the island would grow into a place where navigators for voyaging expeditions were trained and where priests carried out cultural and religious rites.
The artifacts of that rich history are still visible today, despite the destruction wrought on Kaho'olawe by the modern age, first as a penal colony, then for cattle ranching and finally as a military bombing range.
Native American actor relishes rare Oscar invite
Wes Studi will take the stage at Sunday's Oscars to present an award. But the actor, among the few Native Americans included in the ceremony's 90-year history, has reason to feel like a winner.
"I see it as an acceptance of my participation in the business over a number of years," Studi said this week from his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. "It's like being invited to the party."
"It's a time when we're all hopefully embracing the diversity of the world we live in, and Hollywood has a way of reflecting that," he said.
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Wednesday, Middletent spoke at “Movies that Matter: Native America — The Untold Story and short film Legacy,” a film screening and discussion organized by Native Hope and hosted by Impact Hub Boston.
Trisha Burke, executive director of Native Hope, said the nonprofit aims to share positive stories and unheard voices coming out of reservations despite disparities that have come to dominate the stereotypes of Native American life.
This year marks 25 years since the Indigenous Department at Screen Australia was established, resulting in some of the nation’s most beloved films, television shows and documentaries. Over 160 titles have been funded by the Department including Redfern Now, Samson & Delilah, Spear, Mystery Road, Goldstone, Toomelah, 8MMM Aboriginal Radio, and numerous documentaries including We Don’t Need a Map, and the historical series First Australians.
Shortly after World War II, Walt tried to develop the story of Hiawatha, hero of the famous poem by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, into a full-fledged serious animated feature film, and had his artists research the customs of the tribes of the northern Great Plains. At one point, the characters were going to deliver the narration in authentic sign language and that was researched, as well. Walt even explored the possibility of Native Americans providing concept art. PLUS MORE.