September 8, 2017
Great People Doing Great Things: South Dakota Motel Helps Native Women Stay off the Street
It started as an unwanted, quixotic mission, but Lisa Heth couldn’t quit it. Although she’d long wanted to create programming and a shelter to serve Native American victims of sex trafficking, buying a decaying 1970s motel was definitely not part of her dream.
The Pathfinder Center opened in July on the Crow Creek reservation and, like so many other impossible dreams here, was fueled primarily by grassroots dedication and spirit. Its mission is to provide refuge for victims of sex trafficking from all over South Dakota, both Native and non-Native.
Most mainstream shelters aren’t equipped to serve sex trafficking victims. Their needs – such as longer-term housing, emotional and mental healthcare as well as addiction counseling – are beyond the resources of the average refuge.
In this case, a long-passed generation of Native American women suffered the shame and degradation of sexual violence and sex trafficking that their descendants still suffer today. It is they in particular who need providers to understand the role historical trauma plays in their recovery.
Changing the Way We Teach History
Naim Cardinal was in Grade 5 when his teacher referred to Louis Riel as a "madman" – a term that stuck in the young boy's head as one of the times he heard Indigenous people described in a negative light.
Mr. Cardinal, recently a history and social studies teacher in Edmonton, still remembers the stigma he felt as an Indigenous student. "Comments and experiences like that had a very strong impact on my identity as a First Nations person," Mr. Cardinal, a member of the Tallcree First Nation in northern Alberta, said.
Now, the narrative is changing as part of a shift in how history is being taught in classrooms across the country.
Mr. Cardinal said there was little to no curriculum about First Nations, Metis and Inuit when he was growing up. The changes, he said, are welcome.
"I only knew about residential schools from my parents. But they talked very little about it. … I just knew growing up that it was a bad place for kids. No one really talked about any of that stuff," he said. "My daughter is not going to have to rely only on her parents to learn about history of Indigenous people. Now, it is going to be in schools."
Also in "School" News...
The largest gift in the history of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Duluth campus will be used to establish a Native American Center of Excellence, school officials announced Wednesday.
“The idea of creating this center of excellence around all things Native American as it pertains to health and science is something that we’re really excited about being able to use these funds for,” Termuhlen said as she sat alongside staff and faculty members.
More Native Americans Live in Cities Than On Reservations. Here are Their Stories.
Joe Whittle decided to document the experiences of some of the 140,000 Native Americans who call the Bay Area home. There, 18.50% of the Native population live below the poverty level, versus 10.4% of the white population. Among those living below poverty level, 24% of those are in “deep poverty”.
According to Janeen Comenote, executive director of the National Urban Indian Family Coalition, “poverty remains one of the most challenging aspects to contemporary urban Indian life. While I do recognize that a sizable chunk of our populations are solidly middle class, every Native person I know has either experienced poverty or has a family member who is. Housing and homelessness remain at the top of the list of challenges.”
Miss Navajo Will Not Make Fry Bread
The Miss Navajo Nation contest is parting ways with fry bread.
Contestants vying for the title in Window Rock will be preparing traditional foods instead.
The change aligns with a movement in Indian Country to refocus on traditional foods and reinforce native languages.
Fry bread was born out of government rations that Navajos received during a forced relocation to eastern New Mexico in the 1860s. Former Miss Navajo Jocelyn Billy-Upshaw says making it taught Navajos about survival and being productive.
Navajo chef Brian Yazzie welcomed the change, saying it challenges young people to pursue ancestral knowledge and ancestral roots.
The Navajo Ninja Warrior
Brandon Todacheenie, aka “The Navajo Ninja,” considers it a great honor to represent Native Americans on the national stage in American Ninja Warrior. He traveled from the Navajo reservation of Shiprock, New Mexico where he lives to compete in the Denver City Finals.
Todacheenie gets his inspiration from his grandfather, who was Navajo code talker in World War II. Todacheenie said, “Being able to use the Navajo language to help win the war was the greatest thing that my family could be a part of. I feel like I have a responsibility to live that legacy too.”