This Week in Native American News (5/31/19): the Attorney General in Alaska, the Broken Marriages, and the Duct Tape Powwow

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May 31, 2019


‘Enough is enough’: Attorney General Barr hears from Native leaders about rural justice problems

U.S. Attorney General William Barr meets with a group of Native leaders from around the state in Anchorage to discuss rural justice issues. (Photo by Joey Mendolia, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage)

U.S. Attorney General William Barr meets with a group of Native leaders from around the state in Anchorage to discuss rural justice issues. (Photo by Joey Mendolia, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage)

U.S. Attorney General William Barr met with Alaska Native leaders from around the state today in Anchorage to discuss law enforcement challenges in rural Alaska.

Barr will spend four days traveling around Alaska, learning about the unique challenges rural areas, particularly villages, face.

“Because of its vast size and because of the diverse communities and because of the lack sometimes of easy transportation, it created a lot of serious law enforcement challenges,” Barr said. “And it piqued my interest.”

At a roundtable discussion at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Barr heard from Native leaders about high rates of violence towards Native women and children, the lack of law enforcement in many communities and the limited funding for the resources that currently exist.

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Wendy Grant-John reveals how colonialism shattered relationships between Indigenous men and women

Musqueam councillor and former chief Wendy Grant-John says the Women Deliver 2019 Conference offers a chance to learn about lesser-known impacts of European imperialism.

Musqueam councillor and former chief Wendy Grant-John says the Women Deliver 2019 Conference offers a chance to learn about lesser-known impacts of European imperialism.

The devastating effect of Indian residential schools is well known. Approximately 150,000 Aboriginal children were taken from their families and sent to these church-run institutions, where many faced horrific abuse and endured cultural genocide.

Up to 6,000 died, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

But that wasn’t the only appalling outcome of colonialism.

Wendy Grant-John, a former regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, discovered another legacy while studying at the University of Northern British Columbia.

The councillor and former chief of the Musqueam Indian Band was curious to know about the history of Indigenous women when she came across an astonishing document from the distant past.

“A senior government official and a priest were talking about the difficulty they were having in our communities to get people to a place of acceptance,” Grant-John told the Georgia Straightduring an interview on her home deck on the Musqueam Reserve near the Fraser River. “The quote that I put in my paper said—this is the government person talking to the priest in writing—‘You need to teach Indian men how to treat their women. Their women have too much power.’

“I’m not kidding you,” Grant-John continued. “What they said is, ‘You need to teach them how to beat their wives and make sure, as we do, that the stick you use is no bigger than your little finger.’ ”

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UIC to offer in-state tuition to American Indian, Alaska Native students

The University of Illinois at Chicago is offering in-state tuition to students who are members of any of the 573 tribal nations recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the school announced Tuesday.

While representation of minority groups including blacks and Hispanics has improved, the same cannot be said for American Indian and Alaska Native students. These groups have the lowest representation of any group on college and university campuses nationally, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education.

Currently there are about 600 students at UIC who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native and multiracial, according to Cynthia Soto, director of the Native American Support Program at UIC.

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Duct tape also good for pow-wow regalia!

Cole Turcotte was 3-years-old when he won second prize in the Maamwi Kindaaswin Pow-Wow’s initial Duct Tape family dance special.

Cole Turcotte was 3-years-old when he won second prize in the Maamwi Kindaaswin Pow-Wow’s initial Duct Tape family dance special.

Duct tape is a popular fix-it tool for everyone from plumbers to astronauts.

But organizers of the Maamwi Kindaaswin Pow-Wow have managed to find yet another use for the familiar silvery adhesive – the creation of First Nations dance regalia.

Jennifer Seguin, a member of the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre planning team, says the June 8-9 event in Lee Park will include a Duct Tape Family Special.

“We started it at last year’s pow-wow and it was such a hit that we’re including it again,” says Seguin.

Seguin also outlines the rules: dancers must use only duct tape provided by pow-wow organizers and must return empty rolls; all family members must be part of the regalia creation, and dance with the designated duct-tape dancer at the time the event is judged.

This year’s pow-wow — Maamwi Kindaaswin is translated from Anishinaabemowin into English as “All the teachings”— is the 10th annual event staged by the city friendship centre. This year’s theme is “Dancing with our ancestors.”

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