March 9, 2018
Yesterday was International Women's Day: Check out these Awesome Ladies!
Some of the women have blue hair, others, purple, some long and plaited, others short and shaved on the sides. Tattoos depicting skates, roses and eagle feathers peek out from behind their elbow pads and kneepads. They wear a streak of red makeup across their face with three dots below it, symbolizing three matriarchal generations: the grandmother, the mother, and the self.
One by one, they pass around a shell filled with burning sage wafting fragrant curls of smoke toward their faces, chests and over their heads. Some cry silently and others smile, catching the eye of every member in their round. They hold one another like sisters, though they met in person just days ago.
This diverse group — astronomers, lawyers, postal workers, heavy machine operators, mothers, grandmothers, and wives — is made up of indigenous people from different nations. But they are united for a surprising reason: a roller derby competition. And this is how they get ready for their game.
Team Indigenous, which includes 20 athletes from indigenous communities in Canada, the United States, South America, New Zealand and elsewhere around the globe, is one of 38 competing in the 2018 Roller Derby World Cup. It is the first such team to compete.
Great People Doing Great Things: Mission refurbishes used bikes for Native American youth
Ten years ago Glen Sanders didn’t realize a broken car would lead him to repair the hearts of children.
An art teacher at George Junior Republic in Pine Township, Sanders is more familiar with creating something new rather than restoring an old item.
While using a steel wool pad to rub off a coat of rust on a bicycle frame, Sanders talked about his odyssey. This voyage would lead him to get refurbished bikes to kids at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, the reservation is home for Oglala Lakota Native Americans. Estimates of its population vary from nearly 19,000 from the 2010 U.S. Census to 32,000 from the U.S. Interior Department.
It’s a place with crushing poverty and is one of the poorest places in America.
Even worse, alcoholism is rampant on the reservation with at least 85 percent of adults falling in that category, the group said.
“After hearing this I knew I had to do something,’’ Sanders said. “When I asked what I could do the family said the reservation’s kids needed bikes.’’
In Other Places...
Al Harrington isn’t waiting for police or politicians to make the streets of Montreal safer.
Three nights a week, Harrington gathers a group of volunteers and patrols the areas where homeless men and women sleep — handing out food, blankets, hygiene products, but also offering to sit and talk through problems.
They call themselves the Wolf Pack Street Patrol.
The Flathead Reservation community was stunned with a teen suicide recently. Sadly, it’s not an infrequent occurrence in America or Montana these days. Native American families, especially, know the heartbreak. So the Warriors, coached by Zanen Pitts, decided to do something about it.
“We want to shout out to people who are struggling,” Pitts said. “To let them know there’s an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on. And we’re here for you.”
Indian Country Means Business as RES 2018 Kicks Off In Las Vegas
The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (the National Center) opened its 32nd annual Reservation Economic Summit (RES) on Monday. The largest economic development event in Indian Country will last through Thursday, March 8th at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
RES brings together tribal leaders, entrepreneurs, government officials, suppliers, and many more to do business and learn more about the most important economic development topics facing businesses and Native entrepreneurs.
“RES is where Indian Country comes to do business,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center in a press release. “But RES is also the catalyst for the work the National Center does around the year to promote American Indian and Alaska Native businesses and entrepreneurs. From our award-winning Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, to our partnerships with major corporations, to federal advocacy, the National Center is a force for economic development. RES is where it all comes together, and I’m very excited about what’s in store over the next several days.”
The Problem With Cultural Heritage Tourism
Native Hawaiian, Sydney Iaukea, remarks on the Explore America Act:
United States Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), along with two other Senators, recently introduced Senate Bill 2395. Known as the “Explore America Act of 2018,” the bill would expand so-called “cultural heritage tourism” in the U.S. According to Schatz, this bill will be a big help for many people in Hawai‘i.
However, while the relatively recent introduction of the term “heritage tourism” purports to make the “old” new again through representation of a better version of the old, these new “old” places are important to explore. Places like Lahaina were remade under the guise of “heritage tourism,” except that the history it purports to resurrect never actually occurred there to the degree that it is emphasized. The whole “whaling town” theme was largely created to sell hotel rooms in Ka‘anapali. Ironically, it’s the need by government and tourism officials to sell the visitor experience as “authentic” that’s at the root of the fabrications.
In response to what can be construed as clear infringement on protected places, I remarked that the bill would promote “Every place and all parts of culture open to the possible destruction of mass consumerism. In essence, no place is sacred or worth protecting, every place is open for intrusion.”
And now it’s much worse. The whole phrase “Explore America” supposes that all people and places will be willing co-participants in this exploration. If places are unsure of inclusion, then perhaps “providing financial assistance to gateway communities to support outreach and promotional efforts,” as the bill notes, will ease the indecision.
Also in Hawaii:
Damage done to Iolani Palace. Graffiti on the Prince Kuhio statue. Vandals slashing the rigging on canoes at Maunalua Bay.
These crimes are all heartbreaking to see. Now, some state lawmakers want to increase the penalty for such crimes if "the person intentionally or knowingly damages property holding cultural or historical significance to Native Hawaiians."
Your weekly dose of history:
When you think of the Trail of Tears, you likely imagine a long procession of suffering Cherokee Indians forced westward by a villainous Andrew Jackson. Perhaps you envision unscrupulous white slaveholders, whose interest in growing a plantation economy underlay the decision to expel the Cherokee, flooding in to take their place east of the Mississippi River.
What you probably don’t picture are Cherokee slaveholders, foremost among them Cherokee chief John Ross. What you probably don’t picture are the numerous African-American slaves, Cherokee-owned, who made the brutal march themselves, or else were shipped en masse to what is now Oklahoma aboard cramped boats by their wealthy Indian masters. And what you may not know is that the federal policy of Indian removal, which ranged far beyond the Trail of Tears and the Cherokee, was not simply the vindictive scheme of Andrew Jackson, but rather a popularly endorsed, congressionally sanctioned campaign spanning the administrations of nine separate presidents.
The reasons for this racial genocide were multi-layered. Settlers, most of whom had been barred from inheriting property in Europe, arrived on American shores hungry for Indian land—and the abundant natural resources that came with it. Indians’ collusion with the British during the American Revolution and the War of 1812 exacerbated American hostility and suspicion toward them.
Even more fundamentally, indigenous people were just too different: Their skin was dark. Their languages were foreign. And their world views and spiritual beliefs were beyond most white men’s comprehension. To settlers fearful that a loved one might become the next Mary Campbell, all this stoked racial hatred and paranoia, making it easy to paint indigenous peoples as pagan savages who must be killed in the name of civilization and Christianity.
n his book, Mikveh Israel, written in 1650, the scholar Menashe Ben Israel suggested that a brand of South and Central American Indians were a remnant of Jews sent to exile by King Assyria and from the ten lost tribes. His theory did not gain popularity among the rabbis of his time.
The notion was revived when James Adair, an Irish trader who lived among the Indians for over 40 years, wrote in his book, The History of the American Indians, published in 1775, “From the most accurate observations I could make, in the long time I traded among the Indians of America, I was forced to believe them lineally descended from the tribes of Israel.”
Adair recorded a number of parallels in cultural practices between the Jews and the Indians. Some examples include: their division into tribes, their appointment of holy priests, their manner of counting the months through the lunar year, their festivals – some which he claimed corresponded with the Jewish calendar, their fasts and religious rites which they believed helped cleanse them of their sins, their laws of uncleanliness and marital separation during a women’s menstrual period, their ritual purification after touching the dead, their cities of refuge, their manner of burial of and mourning for the dead, and their perpetuating the name of a deceased brother through remarriage of his wife.