This Week in Native American News (7/12/19): Changing Bills, Unknown Artists, and Native Homeless

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July 12, 2019

Proposal would repeal US laws that hurt Native Americans


Leaders of Oklahoma-based Native American tribes are praising a proposal to repeal unenforced federal laws that discriminate against Native Americans.

Legislation sponsored by members of Congress from Oklahoma, Arizona and South Dakota would repeal discriminatory policies toward Native Americans still written in federal law, The Oklahoman reported .

"Though no longer enforced, these laws are a painful reminder of the past suffering and poor treatment experienced by Native Americans," said Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, a co-sponsor of the measure and a member of the Chickasaw Nation.

Among laws the measure would repeal is one that allows for the forced removal of Native American children from their homes to be sent to boarding schools and subject Native Americans to forced labor.

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Professor reckons with his family’s history in a study of his talented, if eccentric, relative’s art


Philip Deloria’s family had never taken his eccentric great-aunt Mary Sully’s art seriously. He remembered thinking, back when he was a kid, that her pencil drawings were “elaborate doodles,” judging them “cool, but weird.” Deloria first unpacked them with his mom in the 1970s, and though he carried three favorites with him as he moved along in his life, the full set of drawings were not given another look until two decades later.

That’s when the professor of history discovered Sully (given name Susan Deloria) was an artist of two worlds. On one side of her family she was descended from American portrait painter Thomas Sully (“The Passage of the Delaware” and Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the $20 bill) and on the other, members of the Dakota Sioux tribe.

In his new book, “Becoming Mary Sully: Toward an American Indian Abstract,” Deloria couples her personal story — a life battling anxiety and possibly synesthesia, as well as her complicated relationship with her sister, the anthropologist Ella Deloria — with an examination of her art, which defied categorization in the early 20th century. Core to her collection are 134 “personality prints,” three-panel pieces inspired, in many cases, by artists and celebrities including Babe Ruth, Gertrude Stein, and Amelia Earhart. Three of Sully’s works appear in “Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists,” which recently opened at Minneapolis Institute of Art. Deloria talked to the Gazette about Sully’s modernist mind, his family’s past, and how he hopes to elevate his great-aunt’s work.

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How Albuquerque Hopes to Meet the Unique Needs of Urban Native Americans


In Albuquerque, Native Americans account for about 4% of the population, yet they make up 44% of the city’s homeless population, according to the 2017 Albuquerque Point in Time Count Report.

Yet Albuquerque has struggled to define which authority—the city or surrounding tribes—is responsible for providing services to Natives living in the urban center. Not until two homeless men, both Native, were murdered in a violent hate crime in 2014 was a committee, the Native American Homelessness Task Force, created to address the needs of Albuquerque’s unhoused Native population.

The city of Albuquerque recently took another step to more directly manage the needs of its often-overlooked Native community. In March, Mayor Tim Keller passed a bill that expands a 1995 ordinance, aiming to better recognize and address the needs of its Native population.

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It’s hard to fit all the news in a little space.

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