July 13, 2018
Grappling With Native American Homelessness
The American West is grappling with growing homelessness in cities with Native American communities. Indigenous people make up an outsized number of the vulnerable people who live on the streets in places like Albuquerque. So that's where NPR's Leila Fadel went to find out how cities are dealing with the problem.
Going 'Native': Why Are Americans Hijacking Cherokee Identity?
Bring up the subject of Native Americans to any group of Americans, and at least one person will claim to have a Cherokee ancestor, pointing to high cheekbones or straight dark hair as evidence. Chances are, there’s not a single Indian in his or her family tree.
Dubbed the “Cherokee Syndrome,” it is a growing trend in America: More than 819,000 Americans self-identified as Cherokee on the 2010 federal census, alone or mixed-race. By comparison, the combined population of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes — the Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee in Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina — amounts to fewer than 400,000.
Some of those checking the “American Indian” box on census forms may indeed have Cherokee ancestors, but a significant number do not. Even so, they are “going Native” in increasing numbers. Furthermore, they are connecting with one another on social media to form groups.
In the early 1900s, the U.S. government agreed to compensate the Eastern Cherokee for lands it had earlier seized. Encouraged by lawyers, fake Cherokees began popping up across the country, hoping for a share of the windfall.
Eventually these false claims wove their way into family legends, many of which are firmly fixed today. A growing number of individuals are either joining up with fake tribes or applying for citizenship in federally recognized Cherokee tribes.
Today's History Lesson:
AIM was formed 50 years ago at 1212 Plymouth Avenue in Minneapolis on July 28, 1968 when 86 American Indians, mostly women and children showed up for its first meeting. The organization was founded by Clyde Bellecourt (White Earth Chippewa), Dennis Banks (Leech Lake Ojibwa), Vernon Bellecourt (White Earth Chippewa) and George Mitchell (Ojibwa) started the organization to stop the large number of urban Indians being rounded up each weekend, beaten and jailed by the police.
COLORADO RESIDENT JAYLYN Gough was tired of seeing the Native American roots of the outdoor spaces she loved being ignored. She knew each of these natural icons had a history—one that didn’t start with the person they were now named after. To trace these spots back to their ancestral foundations, she launched the “Whose Land Are We Exploring On” campaign and set out to learn more about America’s most famous outdoor destinations.
Layers of charcoal residue buried beneath the northern Montana prairie show that pre-Columbian indigenous hunters on the Great Plains once burned patches of grassland to stimulate new growth. This created a tempting feast for bison herds, which the hunters then used to lure the bison in for the kill. And that, archaeologists say, means that even relatively small, mobile groups of hunter-gatherers can have a bigger environmental impact than they’ve been given credit for.
The Empire State Building. The George Washington Bridge. The United Nations. The Woolworth Building. 30 Rock. The Seagram Building. Lincoln Center. The Waldorf Astoria. Virtually all of New York’s most iconic structures were raised in part by Mohawk Native American ironworkers. Since 1916, when Mohawk men made their way to New York to work on the Hell Gate Bridge, ironworkers from two Native communities, Akwesasne (which straddles Ontario, Quebec, and New York State) and Kahnawake (near Montreal), have been “walking iron” across the city.
A Spanish musket ball found outside Arkansas City, Arkansas, burnishes a local academic’s claim that the area was the site of Quivira, a fabled Native American metropolis (“Losing the West,” August 2017), reports the Wichita Eagle. In 1539, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and troops marched north from Mexico seeking cities of wealth; the force found indigenous farm communities, including a thriving village Coronado called Quivira.