April 20, 2018
Great People Doing Great Things: One School's Effort to Help Their Students May Benefit Kids Across the Country
A lawsuit brought on behalf of schoolchildren in the most remote Native American community in the United States is addressing an emerging question in public education — namely, are school districts required to provide disability services to children who’ve suffered trauma related to poverty and discrimination.
U.S. District Judge Steven P. Logan last week denied a request by the federal government to dismiss most of the case involving children at the Havasupai Elementary School, which is located on the floor of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The complaint alleges that the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and other federal agencies have failed to provide the children with even the most basic education — including health and wellness services.
In his ruling, Logan said the plaintiffs “have adequately alleged that complex trauma and adversity can result in physiological effects constituting a physical impairment.”
The case is important, say experts in civil rights and disability law, because of its potential to impact not only on the 183 schools run by the federal Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) — including two in California — but all public schools.
Indian tribes fear being killed off by opioid epidemic
While much of the country is suffering, American Indians are particularly reeling from the opioid crisis. Some tribes say it amounts to an existential crisis.
In separate lawsuits filed this month, the Navajo Nation and Muscogee (Creek) Nation say the opioids crisis is stretching their budgets and resulting in an exodus of younger members, making it difficult to hand down traditions.
“A generation of children are going to grow up without their parents, and, for far too many, outside of the Navajo Nation the loss of their family and their culture will have a negative impact on their lives and on the vitality of the Navajo Nation as a whole,” said Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez.
It is so bad in Oklahoma that when Rep. Markwayne Mullin holds town halls, he ends up asking how many folks “haven’t” been affected.
“You won’t see a hand go up,” said Mr. Mullin, who has 19 Native American tribes in his district. “It’s devastating. You don’t have a single person, that I meet with, that doesn’t have a personal story or personal relationship [to addiction]. We’re seeing a dramatic increase in grandmothers and great-grandfathers and [great-]grandmothers raising children. You’re seeing homes devastated.”
Alaska Native leaders imagine divergent ‘Arctic futures’
The Arctic is changing, and the people living there are trying to change with it.
Alaska Native community leaders discussed the challenges — and opportunities — facing an evolving Arctic at the Arctic Futures conference at University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus, Nome.
Arctic Domain Awareness Center, which does research and community engagement for the U.S. Coast Guard, hosted the conference.
Leaders of Alaska Native communities have very different ideas about where the Arctic is headed. But they generally agree on one thing:
“We are now in the time where we are living two lives,” said Don Long, former mayor of Utqiagvik. “One, trying to be a subsistence hunter, and the other one, trying to be working the 8-5 type of work that job requires today.”
In the Art World...
It’s been said that art is meant to comfort and disturb.
“Tonto, Teepees, and Totem Poles: Considering Native American Stereotypes in the 21st Century,” an exhibition at the Iroquois Indian Museum, which opened last week, certainly does both.
From the cheeky painting of Furbies waiting to be picked up by a crane and aptly named “Fur Trade,” to the subtle statue of a figure with blonde hair and blue-eyes wearing traditional garments from a mismatch of Native American cultures (this one called “We Stereotype Ourselves”) there’s a lot to unpack.
As a kid growing up on a Swinomish reservation in Washington state, Matika Wilbur thought it was inherently bad to be Native American. “I remember thinking that being an Indian meant poverty, that we were going to die younger, that we were going to be raped and nobody would care. Those were the things that were the Indian identity to me.”
But when she was 21, her mother asked her to photograph a group of elders in her community and it started Wilbur on a journey to understand how Native Americans’ history is intertwined with their contemporary reality.
Cartoonist Ricardo Caté’s work is on display until January 2019, and his brightly-colored one-panel commentaries are perspective-changing. They’re funny, biting and thought-provoking.
Caté himself is beloved for “Without Reservations,” the only Native American cartoon featured in a mainstream daily newspaper. He’s been writing six cartoons a week for the Santa Fe New Mexican for more than a decade, teaching, revealing and explaining the Native American experience to people one panel at a time.
The cultures of Puerto Ricans living in the Bronx and Alaska Natives may seem worlds apart. But a new production from the Alaska Native Heritage Center will shed light on some surprising similarities. The collaborative performance between a Bronx based theater and the Heritage Center will bridge the geography gulf with technology.
The Raven is a central character in many Alaska Native stories — a creative trickster who sometimes finds himself in trouble. And it turns out the Raven has a counterpart – in the Bronx:
“And we were just talking about each other’s stories, and we found out that they have this character called the vejigante,” Steve Blanchett said. “And vejigante is this kind of trickster character, which is a lot like our Tulukaruq, or raven.”
Your Weekly History Lesson:
When suffragists gathered for the first women’s convention 170 years ago in upstate New York to begin challenging gender roles that had dominated recorded Western human history, it was no accident they met in Seneca Falls.
Central New York was home to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who lived in Seneca Falls, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, who resided in Fayetteville, both of whom drew inspiration from the gender relations they regularly witnessed among their neighbors — the men and woman of the Six Nations that made up what Americans call the Iroquois, and we call the Haudenosaunee.
Start your Christmas Shopping Early!
These “Home” Bracelets ($35), handcrafted by 19 apprentice artists, incorporate a traditional Native American basket design and are stamped with the Lushootseed word for “home.”
They’re a project of the Chief Seattle Club and its Native Works retail outlet. “The design…[is] not simply representing a physical home, but a greater sense of community that each of us is an important part of,” says Nicole Frederiksen, a business and marketing volunteer who helped develop the bracelets.
All proceeds are used to help stamp out Native American homelessness—a welcome cause for the artists, many of whom are experiencing homelessness (or have in the past).