This Week in Native American News (9/22/17): Mars Missions, Ice Roads, and Comic Con

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September 22, 2017


Great People Doing Great Things: Yup'ik Student Helps NASA

Originally from Bethel, Christopher Liu is the engineer behind the Muktuk Plot - a strategy that will help NASA pilot its next orbiter mission to Mars. Credit Courtesy of Christopher Liu.

Originally from Bethel, Christopher Liu is the engineer behind the Muktuk Plot - a strategy that will help NASA pilot its next orbiter mission to Mars. Credit Courtesy of Christopher Liu.

Growing up in Bethel, Christopher Liu says that he was a quiet kid with a perfectionist streak who was always passionate about math.

"I think I just continued to maintain this sense of curiosity," Liu said. "About the world, how it works."

Today, after years of hard work, he’s studying electrical engineering as a graduate student at Stanford University in California. You might remember Chris from our story back in July, when we interviewed him about his efforts to build a Yup’ik "Siri" voice recognition system. This summer, Liu landed an internship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Or, more specifically, a desk at Division 39, Section 392, where Liu crunched numbers for the next Mars mission.

Read the full story here


All-Season Road to the Far North

A hand-drawn road sign directs James Bay ice road travellers to the communities of the coast. (Erik White/CBC)

A hand-drawn road sign directs James Bay ice road travellers to the communities of the coast. (Erik White/CBC)

Fans of Ice Road Truckers will be interested to hear that an all-seasons road is in the works in Ontario.

"We're no longer going to be isolated," Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon said. "You're going to see forestry. You're going to see resource development. Companies coming into your territory."

Building an all-season road is urgent, Solomon explained, because the winter road season is getting shorter every year.

"It's devastating," Solomon said. "This is only the beginning of the effect of a warmer climate."

Solomon predicts the feasibility study could take up to two years to complete.

Read the Full Story Here


Finding Old Hawaii in the Small Towns

A sign marks the entrance to the remains of a 600-year old village at Lapakahi State Historical Park near Hawi on Hawaii’s Kohala Coast.Photo: George Rose, Getty Images

A sign marks the entrance to the remains of a 600-year old village at Lapakahi State Historical Park near Hawi on Hawaii’s Kohala Coast.Photo: George Rose, Getty Images

Typically, you can find it in the local grocery store.

It’s where people “talk story,” and where the stock includes bait, school supplies and, on the counter, fresh-made Spam musubi or butter mochi with a handwritten label.

Or alongside the road, where aunties and uncles — the local term of respect — sell malasadas, boiled peanuts or smoked fish. Or at parties, where no one shows up empty-handed, or leaves hungry.

That’s where you find Old Hawaii.

Newcomers to the islands are often told it no longer exists: Too many luxury resorts now rise above former fishing spots, suburban homes sprawl where sugar cane once waved, and mainland chains (not to mention Amazon) have put the squeeze on mom-and-pop shops and humble cafes.

But residents and savvy travelers know the spirit of Old Hawaii is still out there. While you can find patches of it in populous places such as Honolulu, Hilo and Kahului, it’s easier to savor in the islands’ small towns.

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Indigenous Comic Con is Coming to Albuquerque

A young fan poses at the 2016 Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Screenshot from YouTube video by City Alive.

A young fan poses at the 2016 Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Screenshot from YouTube video by City Alive.

Misrepresentation and under-representation in mainstream media is a source of pain for many minority communities, and Native communities are no exception. North American superhero stories have a history of ignoring Native peoples altogether or drawing characters that offer an inaccurate or offensive portrayal of their culture. 

“Without indigenous voices, the few representations feel like the flip of a coin,” James Leask, a contributor at the Comics Alliance site, explains. “Heads; the warriors named Warpath and the shamans named Shaman, representations so ludicrously simplistic that they verge on redface. Tails; representations so whitewashed that the characters feel like a coloring mistake.”

Over the years, a growing community of Native artists and writers have taken up their pens to create images of Native peoples that combat these old stereotypes and speak to the complex social issues affecting their communities.

And it's these artistic efforts that Indigenous Comic Con seeks to celebrate.

Read the Full Story Here


It's hard to fit so much news in such a small space.
To read all of this week's news, visit the LIM Magazine.

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