This Week in Native American News (7/26/19): Speaking on Pain, Learning the History, and Watching Some Basketball

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July 26, 2019


'Truth About Their History': Program Prepares Educators To Teach Native American Art, Culture

Teachers walk into the Phoenix Indian School Visitor Center on the second day of the three-day Teacher Institute. ( Mariana Dale/KJZZ)

Teachers walk into the Phoenix Indian School Visitor Center on the second day of the three-day Teacher Institute. (Mariana Dale/KJZZ)

A black and white image of a long-ago class of students greeted a group of contemporary teachers as they wanted through the front doors of the Phoenix Indian School Visitor Center on a recent day.

"I was looking at those pictures and thinking, those look just like my kids,” Phoenix teacher Latoya Jones said. The building she had walked into was once part of the Indian boarding school that first opened in 1891 and operated until 1990.

"I have lived in Phoenix all my life and I never knew this was here. I just thought it was a park," Jones said.

Jones was part of a group of more than two dozen educators who took part in the Heard Museum’s Teacher Institute, a free three-day program that prepared the educators to incorporate lessons about American Indian art, history and culture into their classes.

“I think that a lot of times people shy away from it because they don’t want to offend somebody, say something wrong or they just haven’t been exposed to that history in their K-12 education,” said Sharah Nieto, the Heard Museum’s education director.

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‘We are not defined by our wounds’: Speakers talk about trauma’s effects on Alaska Native people

Brenda Thayer, a mental health counselor for SEARHC, speaks of trauma in Native communities during a speech at the Walter Soboleff Center on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Brenda Thayer, a mental health counselor for SEARHC, speaks of trauma in Native communities during a speech at the Walter Soboleff Center on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Trauma suffered by families and communities has a lingering and negative impact, said a pair of guest speakers Tuesday at the Walter Soboleff building.

Brenda Thayer, program manager for Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium in Sitka, and Dan Press, who provides legal representation to Native tribes, organizations and businesses, spoke about the lasting effects of multi-generational trauma. They also spoke about things being done to address those effects.

The talk was a companion piece to an ongoing study SHI is involved with that is examining whether historic trauma’s impact can be seen in Alaska Native genes.

“We are not defined by our wounds,” Thayer said of Alaska Native people. “We have a lot, but we are not defined by our wounds.”

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This artist reimagines pop art with a Plains Indian perspective

lutheran indian ministries native news - This artist reimagines pop art with a Plains Indian perspective

Oklahoma City-based artist Brent Learned, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, is known for his colorful, impressionistic portrayals of the Plains Indian way of life. He draws, sculpts, but mostly paints, in vibrant hues that belie the sometimes dark material he’s depicting.

As of late, Learned has experimented more with his work, putting the same Plains Indian subjects into pop art settings, using satire and sometimes nudity, as well as doing his own versions of iconic paintings by Pablo Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Gustav Klimt.

“It’s not your grandparents’ Indian artwork,” he said. “When people think of Native American art, they think of a guy on a horse, or hunting a buffalo, or a woman in a teepee … I want you to look at my work and say, ‘Oh my god, he goes outside the boundaries.’”

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Watch This: Netflix Picks Up Navajo Basketball Docuseries

Netflix has picked up docu-series Basketball or Nothing, which comes from pro golfer Rickie Fowler’s Main Event Productions and independent production company WorkShop Content Studios.

Netflix has picked up docu-series Basketball or Nothing, which comes from pro golfer Rickie Fowler’s Main Event Productions and independent production company WorkShop Content Studios.

 Netflix has picked up docu-series Basketball or Nothing, which comes from pro golfer Rickie Fowler’s Main Event Productions and independent production company WorkShop Content Studios.

The show will premiere on August 2.

Shot on location in Chinle, AZ, the series tracks the boys basketball team at the high school in the town, which is on the Navajo Nation reservation, the largest tribal area in America.

The series depicts the difficulties of life in Navajo Nation, where the median household income is less than $30,000 and many residents lack running water and electricity. Alcoholism and suicide are prevalent on the reservation.

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