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.

Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations, Personal Experiences

Dr. Darren Ranco on Climate Change.

This week I met with Dr. Darren Ranco of the University of Maine to talk about Climate Change and the People’s Climate March and its effects for indigenous people on a global scale. Check it out below!

The following is the transcript of the audio file:

DARREN RANCO ON CLIMATE CHANGE

FOR CENTURIES NATIVE AMERICANS HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR APPRECIATION AND CONSERVATION OF THE EARTH AS WELL AS ITS RESOURCES.

IN THE MORE RECENT FIFTY YEARS, MANY PROTESTS INVOLVING LAND AND RESOURCE ABUSE HAS TAKEN THE FOREFRONT IN MANY INDIGENOUS DEBATES REGARDING A SENSE OF COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY.

JUST IN SEPTEMBER INDIGENOUS PEOPLE FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE WERE LEADING ACTIVISTS IN THE PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH HELD IN NEW YORK CITY. THE MARCH WAS DESIGNED TO SHOW THE WORLD WIDE CONCERN OF MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN LIGHT OF THE UNITED NATIONS SUMMIT.

DARREN RANCO, A MEMBER OF THE PENOBSCOT NATION, CHAIR OF NATIVE AMERICAN PROGRAMS AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ANTHROPOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MAINE WEIGHS IN…

(SOT) RANCO: A LOT OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S PHILOSOPHIES THAT ARE ABOUT SELF DETERMINATION AND SOVEREIGNTY FROM A CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE THAT TEACHES, NOT RIGHTS BUT RESPONSIBILITIES TO YOURSELF, YOUR ENVIRONMENT, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR CLAN, YOUR COMMUNITY. AND I THINK THAT, THAT APPROACH IS A GREAT ARTICULATION. THAT’S WHY YOU SAW SO MANY PEOPLE THERE, PEOPLE WHO ARE, NOT TYPICAL COMMUNITY MEMBERS BUT PEOPLE WHO ARE REALLY REPRESENTING THE CUTTING EDGE OF THE ACTIVISTS THAT ARE OUT THERE WORKING ON CLIMATE ISSUES AND CLIMATE JUSTICE IN PARTICULAR.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO SET A STANDARD FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD IN THEIR POLICY-MAKING AND DESIRE FOR A MORE TRADITIONAL APPROACH.

(SOT) RANCO: INDIGENOUS PEOPLE MORE SO THAN OTHERS WHO ARE CAUGHT UP IN THE POLITICS AND CITIZENSHIP OF A LOT OF SETTLER NATION-STATES, A LOT OF COLONIAL/NEOCOLONIAL STATES THAT BY BEING COMMITTED TO PLACE AND YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PLACES, PUTS INDIGENOUS PEOPLE REALLY AT THE CENTER OF PROTECTING THE EARTH. BECAUSE IF YOU’RE COMMITTED TO AND YOUR IDENTITY IS DETERMINED BY A PLACE, A REALLY SPECIFIC PLACE IN THE WORLD, I THINK THAT SENSE OF PROTECTION AND RESPONSIBILITY TO THAT PLACE IS WHAT WOULD REALLY DEFINE A MOVEMENT.

RANCO ALSO BELIEVES THAT THE FUTURE OF THE CLIMATE CHANGE MOVEMENT IS DEFINED AS A RE-COMMITMENT TO PLURALISTIC AND SELF-DETERMINED POLITICS. HE SAYS, THERE NEEDS TO BE ACTION.

(SOT) RANCO: JUST VOTING IS PROBABLY NEVER GOING TO BE ENOUGH.

RANCO ALSO ADDED THAT STUDENTS AND YOUTH MUST TAKE THE INITIATIVE BY CONNECTING THEMSELVES TO THEIR COMMUNITY. RANCO ADVISES THAT YOUTH SHOULD BECOME AWARE OF THEIR FOOD SOURCES, AND WASTE ISSUES TO BETTER UNDERSTAND SUSTAINABILITY.

(SOT) RANCO: BASIC THINGS OF LIFE, IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOUR FOOD IS COMING FROM OR WHEN YOU THROW SOMETHING AWAY AND WHERE THAT’S GOING, YOU’RE REALLY DISCONNECTED FROM THE WORLD AROUND YOU.

RANCO FEELS THAT MAINTAINING YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORLD AND CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE THROUGH SOCIAL NETWORKS ABOUT EACH OTHER’S ENVIRONMENT IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT

(SOT) RANCO: IF YOU THINK THAT EDUCATION IS NOT JUST A BUNCH OF FACTS BUT ACTUALLY A SERIES OF RELATIONSHIPS, WHICH I ACTUALLY DO, THEN I THINK YOUR COMMITMENT TO THESE RELATIONSHIPS IN TERMS OF YOUR EDUCATION WOULD CONTRIBUTE TO SUSTAINABILITY.

TO LEARN MORE, DR. DARREN RANCO IS SCHEDULED TO TEACH A COURSE DURING THE 2015 SPRING SEMESTER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MAINE TITLED AMERICAN INDIANS AND CLIMATE CHANGE. THE COURSE WILL DISCUSS THE LIFECYCLE, SUSTAINABILITY AND COMPARE TRADITIONAL ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE WITH WESTERN SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE WHILE EXPLORING THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF EACH SYSTEM.

I AM CHARLOTTE ROE, AND THIS IS NDN IMPACT.

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.

Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations

People’s Climate March

Today marked the largest march for climate change in the history of the world in New York City. The march represents the public’s desire to get global leaders involved in protecting the environment and providing information on creating a more peaceful and sustainable world economy.

More than 300, 000 people were in attendance at the climate march today, including Native rapper and activist Frank Waln, the 1491’s, and Idle No More. Thousands of other natives and Indigenous people from around the world gathered in similar areas in Manhattan to march together as Indigenous people in support of the environment. Celebrities seen with indigenous groups included Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio to provide more interest and support in the worldwide event. DiCaprio was seen holding the sign alongside Native American activist in support shutting down the Tar Sands, Keystone XL Pipeline and the respect of indigenous peoples’ treaty rights.

For some other communities within the country, the climate change protest is bringing attention to the polluted air, and water quality as well as unsafe areas for children in their area that so many politicians have neglected.

Others is to reflect on the state of the economy and its growing inequality rate forcing citizens out of their homes and into unhealthy quality of life styles.

The march was lined up to show steps and provide messages to the spectating public. The line up was as follows:

People's Climate March Line Up
People’s Climate March Line Up

Having indigenous people in the front line allows the American public to realize that Native people are still fully involved in the future of their homelands and are not invisible.

Throughout the country, and the world indigenous people who were unable to attend the summit posted photographs, articles and ideas about climate change on all forms of social media and the internet.

The final point of the summit was to show the unity of the people of world for the care of the earth and its future. Those involved and in support are looking for more leadership in all forms of government for public outreach in education, development, and prosperity in the name of the Earth’s.

The People’s Climate March’s affect will not last just this one day but will resonate for years to come and in the minds of the many UN delegates that will be gathering for a climate change discussion this week.

For Indigenous people the schedule for the rest of the summit continues at 9am with the Flood Wall Street Action, followed by the Climate Action Week: CO2lonialism and Climate Justice: An Indigenous Worldview at The Auditorium at 6:30pm at 66 West 12th Street in Manhattan. On Tuesday the Peoples Climate Justice Tribunal will be held at 10am at the Church Center for the United Nations in Midtown Manhattan. Concluding on Wednesday with a press conference at 11am at the American Indian Community House at 254 W. 29th St. 2nd Floor (8th Ave.).

Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations

Leonard Peltier’s fight for funds.

Leonard Peltier
Leonard Peltier

The Indiegogo fundraiser has begun on July 10th to raise funds for the legal fees Leonard Peltier, Native American Activist and federal court wrongful prisoner has acquired. The funding is reported to go to the Leonard’s legal team. Currently the group has raised $26, 468 with a goal of $175,000 by August 4th.

With donations starting at $5 contributors can receive a “Freedom” bumper sticker and the highest perk being at a $1000 donation and your name on the Wall of Freedom to show your support along with two Leonard Peltier Fine Art Prints.

While the guarantee that Peltier will be freed from his long (39 years) and wrongful imprisonment this is said to be his final chance at fighting for freedom.

Being close to 70 years old, in poor and diminishing health his justice is crucial. The freeing of Peltier will be impactful for him and his as well as the example that America will set in realizing its mistakes on its indigenous people.

Organizations like Amnesty International as well as celebrities and people of influence such as Susan Sarandon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama have been active supporters of Peltier’s journey and hope to see him free in his lifetime.

For more information on Leonard Peltier go to www.leonardpeltier.info and check out a previous article here. In order to donate go to this Indiegogo site.

Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations

Will the Buffalo continue its American legacy?

bisonCongress is said to be looking at a bill to make the North American Bison the official national mammal of the United States.

Four members of the Senate have sponsored the advancement of the bill along with seven co-sponsors. The other name for the bill, National Bison Legacy Act was sent forth for sponsoring on June 11.

The bill includes 18 findings in its support for Congress’ consideration, some of which are as follows:

  • Bison are considered to be a historical symbol of the United States;
  • There are more than 60 Indian tribes participating in the Intertribal Buffalo Council;
  • On October 11, 1907, the American Bison Society sent 15 captive-bred bison from the New York Zoological Park, now the Bronx Zoo, to the first wildlife refuge in the United States, which was known as the “Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge”, resulting in the first successful reintroduction of a mammal species on the brink of extinction back into its natural habitat;
  • The buffalo nickel played an important role in modernizing the currency of the United States;
  • A bison has been depicted on the official seal of the Department of the Interior almost continuously since 1912, is portrayed on 2 State flags, has been adopted by 3 States as the official mammal or animal of those States, and has been adopted as a mascot by several sports teams, which highlights the iconic significance of bison in the United States;
  • In the 1st session of the 113th Congress, 22 United States Senators led a successful effort to enact a resolution to designate November 2, 2013, as the second annual National Bison Day; and members of Indian tribes, bison producers, conservationists, sportsmen, educators, and other public and private partners have participated in the annual National Bison Day celebration at several events across the United States and are committed to continuing this tradition annually on the first Saturday of November.

*For more information on the bill go to votebison.org*

In a press release written by Perry Plumart the following statement was provided, “Bison have played and continue to play an important role in Indian Country economies and in the spiritual lives of American Indians. The animal was nearly extinct in the early 1900s, but a collaboration of public and private interests worked together to help restore its population.”

The bill will allow for government recognition of the environmental issues that have followed the buffalo throughout U.S. history. This recognition will also be towards the Native American spiritual and lifestyle dependence on the buffalo. After the declaration of November 2nd to be National Bison Day last year, this is the next step.

Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations

Recap: Australia’s National Reconciliation Week

Last week, while Americans were remembering their veterans, Australia too participated in veteran memorial. In Brisbane, crowds of hundreds were in attendance to witness the Indigenous Veterans memorial service at ANZAC Square (Sky News Featured Video).

The event was part of National Reconciliation Week for Australians as a national event to help shed light on the oppression and discrimination of Aboriginal peoples and soldiers during the time of war.

The hope is to also turn around Australia’s and New Zealand’s racist past by remembering those who have been so actively diminished.

However, even though this week and in particular this day (May 26) is in reconciliation, many are still protesting to show the continued mistreatment of indigenous people of the continent. According to skynews.com.au there were about 15 large protests being lead throughout the continent.

Notes: Featured in the video is Aboriginal activist and didgeridoo player, Adrian Burragubba. Also digger, a term used within the video is slang in Australia and New Zealand for soldier. National Reconciliation Day is also known to many as National Sorry Day, due to the governments attempts at apologizing for its outlandish actions.

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.

 

Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations

The Future of Native Media.

the-native-ad-rush-is-on-social-media-budgets-are-pouring-into-in-stream-adsWhile many natives are seen in entertainment productions, others are finding their voices through media.

Native journalism, as well as natives in journalism are both growing rapidly recently in the country. With the increase it creates more opportunities for a multi-formatted approach to native storytelling. These formats include public broadcasting television and radio, newspapers, magazines, and blogs amongst many others.

The goal of native media is to reach a global market for indigenous news and information. For indigenous people telling stories and providing information is a tradition along with a lifestyle. Today’s media allows for more creative outlets for native faces and voices to be shared.

In my experience with my small WordPress blog as my basis for my first media outlet, I’ve been able to expand through Twitter, Facebook and email newsletters to gain more exposure on more popular sites such as LastRealIndians.com and xoJane.com. Even though my own experience has been through the Internet, there are a growing number of native and indigenous based magazines and organizations reaching out for native youth, writers and others heading into or with interest in the media profession.

Opinion writing in native media is one of the more largely focused categories due to the marginalization of indigenous people. With natives in media, it is another support system that allows the perspectives of native people and culture to expand.

In many recent media controversies there has been the misappropriation of native cultures. Having more natives joining into the media and journalism profession it leaves less opportunities for the production of these discrepancies.

Groups like the Native American Journalists Association is focused on unifying its native members to “promote diversity and defend[s] challenges to free press, speech and expression.” It overall wants to encourage natives to gain exposure in mainstream media by providing the experiences and programs to get them there.

Having and creating more programs like NAJA that also sponsor and incorporate each other in Indian Country is the best way to carry our culture, traditions and people into the future.

Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations, Sports and Entertainment

Native Woman Crush Wednesday: Melaina Sheldon

Melaina Sheldon: Indigenous women and First Nations Theater.

In recent years the major buzz has been in sports with the misappropriation of indigenous people as team mascots. While the representation of native people is important the aspect of how native people represent themselves is equally so.

Internationally, the struggle of breaking the barrier in the entertainment and arts industry is a large focus for the future of indigenous people. Canadian First Nations member, Melaina Sheldon speaks of how she feels First Nations theatre has impacted her and its effects in society.

Sheldon, of the Teslin Tlingit Council from Teslin, Yukon Territory Canada has contributed much of her life to First Nations theatre. Graduating from high school in Whitehorse, and attending the University of Victoria where she double minored in Greek & Roman Studies and Indigenous Studies, achieving a Bachelors of Arts degree, Sheldon moved on quickly into theater. Having always felt a pull to acting but never doing more than a few classes during her education she later began her pursuit in an acting series near her home in the Yukon.

In 2008, Sheldon had auditioned for a public play for the Gwaandak Theatre’s Summer Play Reading Series, which according to Sheldon is the most cost-effective way to produce a play and find local talent who are interested in First Nations Theatre.

When first participating, Sheldon was selected to perform in Kenneth T. Williams’ play Bannock Republic. “What inspired me when I read this play was what was being said,” Sheldon commented. Referring to Williams’ representation of politics, reserve life and residential schools that were less talked about openly publicizing the issues. Sheldon states, “It was there that I saw the power of the art of theatre.”

In Sheldon’s experience, all plays are meant to say something of importance and reveal a face of humanity. An example of a work she feels that has stood out in this way is Keith Barker’s The Hours That Remain, in which she played Michelle. The play is takes on the unrecognized of numerous missing and murdered women in Canada. In recent years the issue has been lacking national attention, and within the last few months the Federal Government of Canada had rejected the request for a National Public Inquiry of the missing and murdered indigenous women.

In the Native Women’s Association of Canada Fact Sheet for the statistics of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls in 2010 conducted on cases within 10 years, approximately 582 cases have been documented. Of these cases 67 percent were due to homicide or negligence; 4 percent were of suspicious death, which includes death caused by police, family or community members. Another 20 percent are cases of that are just for missing women and girls and the final 9 percent are of unknown cause of present circumstances. These statistics have risen and impact all of indigenous women within Canada as well as internationally, in places like New Zealand where these atrocities are frequent.

With issues like this that are being exposed within the arts and entertainment industry it creates a greater need for indigenous people in these roles and productions. For the Hours That Remain, the company would tour Canada to conduct this form of dialogue on the issues of missing aboriginal women and girls.

In most indigenous theater companies their goal is to create a dialogue within the audience, cast, crew, director and playwright to expand the knowledge on national and international issues. Sheldon, due to indigenous theater, feels “stronger in [her] beliefs and in [her] identity as a First Nations woman” thus becoming more approachable as an advocate and source of information in both theater and within her tribe on issues. In her community she is an active member on the General Council of the Teslin Tlingit Council’s Self-Government, directing decisions for her tribe that involve various issues, much of which include that of the concerns of indigenous women.

In regard to the historical treatment of indigenous people as entertainment, Sheldon has described her experience as one that in First Nations Theater allows you to step away from the stereotypical roles. Being that you are no longer entertaining non-natives but according to Sheldon, are “ ‘entertaining’ ourselves, in ‘our way’ – we set the standard and decide the stories that need to be told, as well as educating the rest of the world from a First Nations perspective.” Most visions of indigenous theater are to provide another form of support, advocacy and an outlet to for native creativity and voices.

Today, Sheldon also works as the Community Arts and Events Coordinator, helping coordinate the biennial gathering Ha Kus Teyea (The Tlingit Way). Sheldon advises anyone in the First Nations who has interests in theater but feels that they aren’t going to be recognized “that there most definitely is a space and need for us here!” For more information on getting involved in theater or attending events, Sheldon recommends contacting Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance (IPAA), Native Earth Performing Arts, and the Gwaandak Theatre, all of which can be found online. All of these groups look to provide experience, exposure and empowerment to indigenous voices for the education of all people on indigenous issues. With this type of mission, indigenous arts and entertainment will be in the forefront of indigenous peoples’ future.