July 7, 2017
Great People Doing Great Things: Disrupting Poverty
Nick Tilsen, a 35-year-old citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, was born into activism.
In the video, he talks about what inspired him, at 19, to return to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (in one of the poorest counties in the US), and at 24, to found the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit supported by foundations, government grants and individual donors.
On 34 acres, the organization is developing a regenerative community that builds homes, creates jobs and produces all of its own energy, clean water and food. Tilsen believes that the soup-to-nuts sustainable community — a $60 million project — could inspire others around the world.
“We’re doing it in the hardest place there is to do anything. So, we sort of tongue-in-cheek say, ‘If we can do it on Pine Ridge, what the hell is everybody else’s excuse?'”
Looking to create opportunity, the American Indian Policy Institute in collaboration with ASU’s Entrepreneurship + Innovation has developed an intertribal initiative called Inno-NATIONS, which champions indigenous entrepreneurship and economic development across America.
The goal is to support up-and-coming Native American businesses and ignite their enterprises to fuel sustainable tribal economies by rejuvenating and modernizing traditional trade networks.
Morris said by spearheading innovative partnerships and leveraging resources from ASU, tribes and community organizations, she hopes that Inno-NATIONS will create a “collision community,” causing a ripple effect of economic change in tribal communities.
Australian Aboriginal, Dean Foley, is doing the same with his small business incubator.
Powwows display patriotism and unity
It’s pow wow season in the United States, a time when Native American nations, bands and tribes gather to connect, celebrate tribal histories and cultures, and express their patriotism. On any given weekend this summer, a pow wow is taking place somewhere in the country, an expression of unity within and between Native communities.
Pow wows may take place over two or three days, attracting large crowds and generating substantial income.
“I don't dance at pow wows, but I attended all my life and I am 60 years old now,” said Pte Henchala Gleska, a grandmother and member of the Rosebud Lakota tribe. “We have the Rosebud Fair every year here on the reservation,” she said, “and everybody attends either for powwow, the rodeo, mud racing or bread-making contests.”
And, she added, the food.
Looking for other ways to explore Native history and culture? Marriott Traveler put together a list of 5 must-see places to visit.
In Utqiaġvik over the weekend, Gov. Bill Walker signed legislation recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day in Alaska.
The law establishes Alaska as the second state in the nation to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October, replacing Columbus Day.
The National Congress of American Indians recently adopted a resolution to document the stories of Native American families who lost relatives during the boarding school era of the late 1800's through the 1970's. Those testimonies will then be submitted to the United Nations.
The hope is to heal the historical trauma of the boarding schools by getting the federal government to acknowledge and apologize for the harm they caused tribal communities.
Currently, monuments to our country’s reprehensible history of slavery, segregation, and oppression of African Americans are a heated battleground in our ongoing culture wars—most notably in New Orleans, where Mayor Mitch Landrieu recently delivered a moving speech after he oversaw the removal of four Confederate monuments.
The continent-sized theft of land, labor, and life from Native Americans is monstrously unjust as is the Atlantic-wide enslavement, colonization, and segregation of Africans. Moreover, in a nation that claims a fierce history of anti-colonial independence, lionized with monuments to the “Founding Fathers,” it is puzzling that the denial of the same independence to Native Americans would not give rise similar cultural shame and dysphoria.