Article Responses, Movements and Organizations, Personal Experiences

#DearNativeYouth – UMaine Responds.

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As the president of the American Indian Student Organization at the University of Maine, I felt it was crucial that as college students and members of our group to participate in the twitter campaign for #DearNativeYouth. The campaign is designed to encourage, motivate, and inspire our Native Youth not to give up, to follow their dreams and to support one another. The following are some of the responses:

#DearNativeYouth:

-You always have a place and there is always a purpose.

– Everything that makes you who you are is important.

-The present is to show how far we’ve come.

-Stay strong. You are worthy. Stay active. Stay happy. Stay healthy.

-To laugh at yourself, is to love yourself.

-Dream big, laugh often, live well.

-Be proud of your culture and embrace it.

-Dance to the beat of your own drum.

-YOU have the power to be who you want to be.

-You’ve already inspired so much without even trying. Let’s see what happens next.

-Be proud. Be strong. Know your worth. Never give up.

All of these responses reach for something in people of any age. My hope is that it reaches our Native Youth deeply and enough for them to push back against oppression and fight to come forth into a bright and beautiful future filled with native culture.

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Article Responses, Articles/Information

New Indigenous News Radio Show

“Law enforcement gone wild” – Marley Shebala

A new radio program in the west has recently come out called Navajo News Without Borders aka Indigenous News from the Navajo Rez. The program had begun four months ago and has featured topics on government policies, the environment, veteran care/treatment, and domestic violence. All of the featured stories are produced by trained journalists from Navajo land in Widow Rock, Arizona.

The most recent report (12/4/14) included the topic of the “Native American Renaissance” in comparison to the public and political struggles that is happening today with police brutality.

Featured program below:

Navajo News Without Borders AKA Indigenous News from the Navajo Rez 12/04 by Navajo News Without Borders | News Podcasts

Marley Shebala, the host of the radio show, continues on the subject throughout the broadcast, along with the way that news and media are censored in the United States. For audiences to receive more information or to listen to broadcasts go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/navajonewswithoutborders.

Shebala provides weekly broadcasts every Thursday from 7pm-9pm.

Article Responses, Articles/Information, Sports and Entertainment

Native People are coming into our own in American pop culture.

MTV has been stepping up to the plate in the acknowledgement of indigenous people in North America. Last week, MTV premiered its first episode of the new season of the show, ‘Rebel Music.’ Last year, the series made a huge impact on audiences. This season’s premiere, just shy of 20min features, Indigenous musical artists and activists from the US and Canada. Amongst the artists featured is Redbud Souix rapper, Frank Waln, First Nations singer Inez Jasper, and Souix rappers, Nataanii Means and Mike “Witko” Cliff.

The musically talented individuals are all teaming up to create a more inspired native youth. Like many in this generation believe, they feel that it is time for today’s “7th Generation” of Native people to take the torch from the elder’s and speak up about social issues in Indian country; give back to the community; bring positive feelings to indigenous people; and reach out to those who don’t know of indigenous struggles.

These “rebel” leaders are using their words and music to send teachings and motivation to carry on the culture and strength so precious to indigenous survival.

Watch the full length premiere on Facebook, or below.

Article Responses, Articles/Information

Coverage of the Marysville Shooting.

Courtesy: ABC News.
Courtesy: ABC News.
Courtesy: Fox8 News
Courtesy: Fox8 News

On Friday in Marysville, just outside of Tulalip, Washington, a young boy, 14, shot multiple students including himself.

The boy, Jaylen Fryberg (shown left), was considered very popular in his freshman year at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

Fryberg, of the Tulalip tribe of Washington, killed a fellow student, injured four others and subsequently shot himself. As of today, one of the four students injured has now passed due to the injury. All of the victims were said and confirmed to have been close friends with Fryberg, and two being his relatives.

According to witnesses the students were shot methodically by Fryberg, in the cafeteria around 10:30, on Friday morning. Police have found a .4o caliber handgun at the school that is said to have been used by Fryberg. A fellow student of Fryberg had said after the fact that, Fryberg and his cousin had gotten into a fight earlier that week. On Fryberg’s social media it seemed that his feelings were clues and described his feelings vaguely on Twitter.

For many in the Tulalip tribe it has come as a shock especially to Fryberg’s family who have said that Fryberg and his cousin were “inseparable” and “best friends.”

The tribe is also in disarray due to the Fryberg’s standing within the tribe, stating that the 14 year old was seen as a future leader of the tribe because of his cultural and traditional knowledge as well as general intelligence.

Many of his family and friends in mourning feel that the reasons for Fryberg’s actions are shocking. Some describe him as very happy person, which is also why so many fellow students, family and community members are celebrating the lives of all of those involved, including Fryberg’s.

With a shooting effecting and impacting so many in a community, it puzzles me that there has been so little coverage of the event within the first 24 hours. The leading media was from the Associated Press and other small/local news companies, followed slowly by CNN, ABC and Fox news.

In the past, events like Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, the meda was in a whirlwind for more information, interviews and to show mourning events for weeks. Even with the most recent Ottawa shooting and lockdown, an event like the Marysville school shooting should be thoroughly covering the news, due to its newsworthiness by most journalist’s standards.

 

Article Responses, Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations

Columbus, a lost sociopath, and an American hero?

Christopher Columbus, courtesy of Wikipedia
Christopher Columbus, courtesy of Wikipedia

This month, Columbus day was celebrated in the US. This national holiday was officially declared in 1937, despite many protests on the contrary. The first unofficial celebration of the day in the US was in 1792, in New York to commemorate the 300 years of the American arrival. It originally was celebrated on the true date of Columbus’ arrival, October 12, however, in the early 1970s it was decided that it will be celebrated on the second Monday of the month.

For years many indigenous communities throughout North America have been in opposition of this day due to the conflicts and desecration caused by Columbus’ arrival. Not only has the death of millions been a factor but the fact that the association of “discovery” being attributed to Columbus is also nonfactual. By definition, discovery means finding, but how can you find something that is already inhabited by others?

Columbus began his search for a new western trade route via the sea to India for Europe. However, he unknowingly found himself in an unfamiliar land surrounded by curious residents. After some time he took it upon himself and his men to make this land and all its inhabitants the property of the Spanish Crown. In doing so he massacred millions or people and acreage for profit as well as power. It is with these facts that so many indigenous people over the years are fighting to have history be told in its true form and not with the misinformation being communicated to youth around the world.

While many others view Columbus as an explorer who represents a historical culture, some see Columbus Day as a great or much needed day off, why not make a day off for celebration mean something the way that a national holiday should. Most indigenous people look for recognition and respect, but with a holiday attributed to the slaughter, enslavement of peoples and the destroying of natural resources it makes that fight much harder.

A recent article done by Last Real Indians explaining the formal length that this indigenous fight goes as follows:

“The origins of the organizing efforts to abolish Columbus Day and rename it Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first documented back in 1977, when members of the International Indian Treaty Council, the American Indian Movement and other Indigenous activists from North, Central and South America presented the idea to the United Nations at the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas.”

Today many communities have changed the day’s attributions to Indigenous People’s Day, the major and most recent being the city of Seattle. However, more than thousands of other cities need to follow Seattle’s lead as of late in order to make this idea of respect more popular.

There have been many polls about support the abolishing of Columbus Day and creating a National Indigenous People’s Day, however, I would like to create my own with results from my readers. Place your vote below. If you wish to comment or add more to your answer, please do so below in the comment section.

Article Responses, Personal Experiences

Discrimination against Indigenous students.

Discrimination-3As a native woman and student that has attended years of private, public and boarding schools, I have seen my fair share of bullies from all social classes. I have also found that bullying can be from adults towards their students. This situation is one that I have experienced personally as well.

My professor at the time had suggested I should get my learning capabilities tested to determine whether I was a visual learner, a student that focused better via lecture, or if just by reading.

I at first didn’t understand why I would need this done at all, since I knew what I could retain and how I learned from my own life experiences, so in confusion I called my mother asking her opinion. It infuriated her to find that they were doing this to me alone as well as to the one native student they had attending the school. She explained further to me that in the previous years they did this to native students as a way of demeaning them and passing them off with mental issues, such as retardation or with attention deficit.

These issues concerned, so I decided to talk to my adviser at the school about her thoughts, considering she was not only an academic adviser but had experience in therapy. She had also recalled that this was what had happened in the past but thought that it most likely wasn’t the teacher’s intention. I had previously had issues with the teacher and wanted to believe the best but had constantly had feelings of the worst possible scenario believing that she was fully capable of something along the historical lines.

In the end, I had to take the daylong test with a psychologist, who had told me everything I already knew about myself. For the rest of the year however, I had all of these thoughts and became very aware of how different this teacher treated me in comparison to the other students. Even visiting the school was uncomfortable when I ran into the teacher; while the encounter was cordial she was not as enthused to greet me as much as she was to my friends and classmates.

Solfdo-o-dachi (Uchi) Gali Garcia, first grade native student from California. Source: Indian Country Today.
Solfdo-o-dachi (Uchi) Gali Garcia, first grade native student from California. Source: Indian Country Today.

In a related article done by Indian Country Today, on September 24, a first grade native boy from Northern California was reported that his teacher punched him in the arm after he didn’t immediately sit down when the class was told to do so.

No matter what race the child is, violence against children is wrong, especially from those who are being employed to be role models to children.

However, what makes this story important for native people is that this is not the first instance that violence and discrimination has happened in the Northern California schools.

Being targeted by students, teachers and administrators is one of the most common and historic issues for indigenous students around the world. While there are plenty of awareness programs provided by the government, religious groups, and town communities, discrimination almost always comes down to a person’s level of respect and education.

The fact that both of these situations have involved a teacher, is it the education system at fault? Or is it just these individuals?

Article Responses, Articles/Information, Sports and Entertainment

South Park takes on that team in Washington.

“Digging in our heels and pissing on public opinion is what the Washington R*****ns is all about!” – Cartman (South Park)

This week there was two shows that covered the major NFL issue that is being drowned out by the current Ray Rice scandal (although domestic abuse is still an important topic). One was Jon Stewart’s coverage on the Daily Show that brought in Native American activists, some from the 1491s. The segment can be seen here and generally speaks for itself:

The other was South Park, for the full episode click here.

In the episode entitled, “Go Fund Yourself,” the boys of South Park created a start up company that does absolutely nothing. The debate over its name followed soon after, until Cartman chooses the Washington R*****ns after finding out that the trademark for the team was lifted.*

After declaring their company’s name, Dan Snyder was introduced into the episode to plead that they stop using the trademark and name because it was unfair and that it offended the football team. Snyder asks Cartman to change the name and his response was, “We have total respect for you. When we named our company the Washington R*****ns it was out of deep appreciation for your team and your people… ” Cartman finished his statement that he won’t change it out of sheer decency because he doesn’t want to and that it will be “super-hard”. The writers are so clearly mocking Dan Snyder’s response to the countless pleas from native people to change the name.

The writers also reference back to the 1971 Keep America Beautiful commercial featuring Iron Eyes Cody, however, they show Snyder picking up a newspaper on the Washington team and looking into the camera with a tear in his eye.

Following this they touched on the Ray Rice scandal as well as the lack of responsibility and action from NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell. They turned him into a glitching robot, repeating his actual statements as his voice-over, pointing out that Goodell has done and confirmed nothing about both of the situations.

The other topic that this episode so eloquently touched on was the its referencing of the “big F*** you” that the team and Snyder had given native people and other supporters by creating their “Original Americans Foundation” to ‘benefit’ native people.

The final few moments of the show depicts Snyder on the football field alone facing the Cowboys. Snyder gets pummeled and tackled multiple times and getting back up every time as crowd member yells out “just stay down” showing how Snyder makes things worse, for himself, his team and native people, by persisting on the subject. The show closes with a protest on the boy’s company and that it was demeaning everything the fans had stood for. The boys had given up on the fight for it and walked away.

The play in these popular programs, shows that the Washington team, its offensive name, and actions is allowing for Natives to finally be heard on a subject that isn’t about gambling.

For more information on the Original Americans Foundation and its insult to native people check out my article on XoJane.com.

*The Court has in fact decided to let the team keep the trademark while their court appeals are being processing.

Article Responses, Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations

The First Nations Education Act

The First Nations and Canadian Government have introduced the Bill C-33. The Bill is to focus on First Nation education.

The Bill is looking to give elementary and secondary education systems to First Nations to control. This control will create a foundation for First Nations to be in charge of administration and education on reserve schools.

First Nation Education Rally
First Nation Education Rally

It gives greater access to elementary and secondary school aged youth on reserved to education, which has been a struggle throughout Canada.

The Bill plans to set up the necessary funding and assign responsibilities to First Nations member in education that must be followed in order to maintain the bill.

The establishment of the Joint Council of Education Professionals is included, which will give support for First Nations education for scholarships and leadership courses as well as opportunities.

With the Bill being passed, amendments will be made to the ‘Indian Act’ the “Mi’kmaq Education Act” and the “First Nations Jurisdiction over Education in British Columbia Act.”

According to the Bill’s summary, it is looking to give 1.252B Canadian dollars to Core Funding for language and cultural education beginning in 2016-2017. The Education Enhancement Fund will be 160M Canadian dollars over four years starting in 2015 for the development of  institutional structures and support for First Nations educators and administrators. “New funding to build and renovate schools is also confirmed, with $500 million over seven years beginning in 2015–16 for a new Education Infrastructure Fund,” from Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

Overall this Bill will help the partnership between the First Nations and the Canadian Government by focusing on the betterment of Indigenous youth and their cultural education. For more information on Bill C-33 and its funding click here.

 

Article Responses, Articles/Information

Onondaga’s violation of human rights case.

The past few years the Onondaga Nation has been very active in the media for their political and racial standings, such as the Washington Redskins controversy. Last week was on something different: the request for a review of land rights lawsuits. In the lawsuits, Supreme Court has been one of the majority leaders in the rejection and unconcerned actions towards the indigenous community on this subject.

After 10 years of appealing to the government to examine the merit process of the previous trials for the Onondaga people, they have had enough.

The Onondaga Nation filed a petition with the Organization of American State’s Intern-American Commission on Human Rights. The petition covers the issue that the U.S. government decided not to hear its lawsuit for the return of 2.5 million acres in northern New York, Pennsylvania and some parts of Canada.

The final return of the petition for the hearing in the land rights case was returned in October, which commenced the new petition against the US on the human rights violation. The petition is being used, according to the Washington Post and Onondaga Nation, as a means to clean the environment on the land in which the treaties were designated.

While the main voice within the petition is the Onondaga people the petition also speaks for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which includes the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga and Seneca people.

The validity of the human rights violation is clearly fitting in this case for the Onondaga people. The action the U.S. government Supreme Court has taken is questionable in the motives of not allowing the lawsuit to go to trial.

In the first attempt at trial, the Oneida Nation was in the forefront, having the Supreme Court rule against them, stating that the nation took too long to file a claim against the treaties and land rights. If the court were to take into account the lack of resources and oppression on indigenous people their “timeliness” should be excused.

According to Indian Country Today Media Network, the court was quoted stating that if they were to return the land “it would be too disruptive” to those who are currently living in the area. One can also say that the court’s reasoning in this case is incredibly hypocritical on the U.S. Governments history of being “disruptive” of current occupants.

By taking into consideration the amount of time the Onondaga and Haudenosaunee Confederacy has dedicated for just a trial in the lower courts makes the Supreme Court look outrageous and dismissive of issues that are passionate among indigenous people.

The Onondaga Nation’s lawyer, Joe Heath, was quoted stating that the “[The Onondagas] are not going to stop talking about their land and to obtain a moral victory…”

In this day and age, most of the indigenous issues involve moral issues and the attempt to get governments to acknowledge their wrong doings, attribute credit to those who have impacted the land and people both gracefully and respectfully.

Generally, indigenous people, throughout history want to achieve equality and recognition as first people and current world citizens. In these 10 years the Supreme Court has been a disappointing example and role model for the American people’s beliefs and actions.

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Frank Waln is doing it big!

Frank Waln
Frank Waln (Twitter)

Frank Waln, Sicangu Lakota, is the new up and coming native hip-hop artist and rapper who has been featured in the Chicago Tribune today.

Waln is 24 and attending his final year at Columbia College Chicago. Like many Native youth who struggle on and off the reservation rap and hip-hop is easily something to relate to. The way Waln has now impacted the music scene is through his incredible verses.

Listening to his music (often when I write or study), always gets me thinking on how to be better and improve my life as well as others around me through my culture. Seeing another young native peer using words and other talents to inspire the masses to speak out against American oppression is so amazing and leaves me with a huge smile on my face.

I hope to be able to get him up to the University of Maine for a performance in the near future. For those who have never heard of him or his music I recommend listening to his Sound Cloud here (my recent favorite is “White War”) and to check out the great article from the Tribune. You can also Waln on twitter, @FrankWaln.

Keep doing great things, Frank!