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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Personal Experiences, Stories and Poems

On This November Day by Charlotte Roe

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On this November day, I want for my people.

I want our voices to be heard,

To be appreciated for our history, our present and our future.

I want for us all to stand as one for our rights.

I want this country to be filled with knowledge that we do exist.

On this November day, I need for my people.

I need for us to no longer be stepped on,

To no longer be looked over by the media, the government and the people.

I need for my culture to be shared everywhere.

I need for our children to be embraced by all and not for personal gain.

On this November day, I wish for my people.

I wish for our families to not be broken up,

To have my people no longer struggle in their homes.

I wish for us to feel and be supported in all ways.

I wish for our children to be taught our truth and language.

On this November day, I dream for my people.

I dream for our governments to be rid of corruption,

To be focused on the advancing of our people instead of the greed that was taught to us.

I dream that my people will feel fulfilled.

I dream that our country and people will always have a future.

On this November day, I am thankful for my people.

I am thankful that we have always shown compassion,

To have shown it to those who didn’t show it themselves.

I am thankful for our warriors and their feats of protection.

I am thankful for our strength in the most long and trying of times.

I want for my people.

I need for my people.

I wish for my people.

I dream for my people.

I am thankful for my people.

On this November day, what do you feel for my people?

Charlotte Roe
Articles/Information, Personal Experiences, Stories and Poems

Pride, Heritage, Tradition-November for Native Americans (Pictures)

November has been officially referred to as Native American Heritage Month for over 20 years. In this time, natives across the country have shown their pride in their heritage through many ways. Some include a national day for wearing certain footwear, donning a certain hairstyle and even creating a national book club where participants must read at least one piece of Native American literature and have a dialogue with others. The following are photographs of some Native American Heritage Month traditions and ways that native people honor their culture.

A hand-painted Chief statue, is the center piece of one family’s early Thanksgiving dinner.
Charlotte Roe
This hand-beaded moose-hide clip with feathers and a set of feather earrings will be worn by a native woman on November 21, for “Rock Your Braids” Day in Indian Country.
Charlotte Roe
Traditional hand-beaded buckskin moccasins. Worn on “Rock Your Mocs” Day (Nov 15) in an effort to show Native American Pride.
Charlotte Roe
Native American literature amongst others old and new.
Charlotte Roe
A Jingle dress hangs on the wall waiting to be used with pride and tradition.
Charlotte Roe
Native man returns to his homeland to look out on the late fall coastal changes.
Charlotte Roe
Native Eastern War dancer participates in Grand Entry at a pow wow.
Walking within nature is said to bring a sense of self for native people.
Walking within nature is said to bring a sense of self for native people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This hand drum will be used to play songs of healing and thanks later on this month.
This hand drum will be used to play songs of healing and thanks later on this month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Articles/Information, Personal Experiences

Food for thought.

With the fall chill fast approaching many people want to stay indoors and snuggle up with their blankets or significant others. However, aside from getting warm and cozy, baking and cooking fall favorites is always a must.
For Native American people, food, especially fall harvest is one of the more important times of the year. In history, this time meant finding food that would last a harsh winter as well as provide all the right nutrients to keep the tribe healthy. The main ingredients for the fall harvest were and still are in many traditions consist of corn, beans and squash; otherwise known as the three sisters. Today, in a Native home, cooking is also much more than just preparing a meal. It is a way to show your love, caring and general kindness to your relatives, friends, or even strangers by spending your time to nourish them.
A current recipe that incorporates many of the traditional foods that Northeastern Indigenous people ate is included in this rendition of Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash.

What you will need:

2 acorn squash
2 medium sized turkey breast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped baby button mushrooms
½ cup chopped onion
1 ½ cups baby spinach

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. After, place the hollow side down on a cookie, or baking sheet with a ¼ inch of water in the pan. Cook in oven for 35 minutes.

While cooking, prepare turkey breast by cooking them in one tablespoon of olive oil and garlic until cooked mostly through, about 8 minutes. When turkey is finished, cut or pull apart unto smaller pieces, the same way pulled pork or shredded chicken should look.

Afterwards, in a sauce pan, or skillet cook mushrooms, spinach, onions and salt and pepper, with the last tablespoon of olive oil until sautéed (stuffing prep and the acorn squash should be finished at the same time).

Carefully removing the squash from the oven, flip them onto their rounded side and spoon in the stuffing. After all four halves are filled place back in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

I would love to read any comments of your own additions or changes to the recipe!

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?

Articles/Information, Personal Experiences

Native Students – Financial Impact on Education. (Part 1)

Students are filing in to their first semester classes these past few weeks all over the country. However what many college students attending class don’t know is the underwhelming amount of indigenous students attend the colleges that have been built on the land they so freely roamed.
Native American or American Indian student enrollment in college is the lowest in the nation, with close to 17% of college entrances and an 82% college drop out rate, the expectancy of Native college graduates is hardly regarded. Many reports have tried to delve out why these numbers are so low, coming up with results including that many indigenous students feel unsupported by their peers to attend higher-level education.
While many native youth attend Tribal Colleges due to financial reasons, other natives find the colleges as a much more comfortable environment because they are surrounded by people from similar backgrounds.
The highest reasons for Native students to either not attend college or maintain their attendance is financial status. Without university or organization supported scholarships most hardly see schooling as an option. Those who get the opportunity, feel that their community support is what drives their ambition.
As a native student on scholarship at my own university I can say from experience that without my scholarship I would have a very different college experience. Although this particular college was not my number one choice it has in fact become my home and a place that will hold some of my happiest memories and biggest turning points.
Without my current funding for my education through some scholarships I would most probably be attending a community or local college with less opportunities academically, as well as lacking what most call “a true college experience” by being away from home.
I can also say that without avid support from my family, friends and some teachers my ambition within school would have constantly diminished unlike its current situation where it has in fact grown. My desire to continue my education so I can encourage so many others like myself to get as much education as possible regardless of the situation is a driving force in my life’s journey.
My hope is to be an example for others that no matter where you end up in life education and learning is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter the kind as long as you are happy and are fulfilling the human desire to learn and create experiences.

Articles/Information, Personal Experiences, Sports and Entertainment

Robert Davidson – Abstract Impulse

davidson_robertThursday (June 5), I was in attendance of the final day of The Americas Film Festival of New York at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. I showed up early, like the over eager woman that I am, and spent some time walking around exhibits to observe some wonderful history and kill a bit of time before the premiere of the amazing film, Winter in the Blood (my review can be found here).

I was most drawn to the Abstract Impulse exhibit by Robert Davidson, of the Haida tribe in Canada (b.1946). The Salish style artwork was wonderfully curated in both directions of the exhibits path.

The outer pieces included jewelry, and wooden sculptures as well as darker colored paintings leading in to larger brighter pieces. These pieces had bright but deep red patterns and symbols that stood out against the eggshell white walls. This allowed the audience to feel the energy that was put into each piece.

Playing throughout the exhibit was a video featuring Davidson speaking about his pieces and on his work through the years. “Art has given me a chance to be a voice,” Davidson said within the video. With the energy and beauty from all of his pieces, Davidson has done just that by ‘speaking’ through his art about his tribe’s history and traditional symbolism.

My favorite pieces within the exhibit were the drums that were set up as a kind of funnel into an enclave that held totem pieces. The drums entitled, “Eagle Giving Birth to itself” finished in 1992 featured the traditional salish eagle, painted in white, red and black on the head of the drum. The second drum was entitled “Echoes From the Supernatural” or Wolf Drum. This drum was finished in 1991. These drums are traditionally used at potlatches (similar to pow wows) and other ceremonies.

 

The exhibition will continue through mid-September. The following was taken from the NMAI website:

 

“Organized by the NMAI and the Seattle Art Museum, this is the first major U.S. exhibition of works by Haida artist Robert Davidson, a pivotal figure in the Northwest Coast Native art renaissance since 1969, when he erected the first totem pole in his ancestral Massett village since the 1880s. For more than 40 years, Davidson has mastered Haida art traditions by studying the great works of his great-grandfather Charles Edenshaw and others. More recently, Davidson has interjected his own interpretation of the old forms with forays into abstraction, explored in boldly minimalistic easel paintings, graphic works, and sculpture, where images are pared to essential lines, elemental shapes, and strong colors. Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse features 45 paintings, sculptures, and prints created since 2005, as well as key images from earlier in the artist’s career that show Davidson’s evolution toward an elemental language of form. Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse is organized by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) in collaboration with the NMAI–NY. Lead Grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Major support provided by The MacRae Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by The Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation, Port Madison Enterprises, Eugene V. and Clare Thaw Charitable Trust, and Contributors to SAM’s Annual Fund.”

 

While I would have loved be able to share pictures of the pieces within the exhibit, photography was prohibited under museum policy. However, I highly recommend viewing any of Davidson’s exhibitions on museum visits or at gallery showings. For more information on Davidson and to check out his works you can go to his website.

Articles/Information, Personal Experiences, Stories and Poems

Recent Turning Points in My Life: College 2013-2014

My recent status for college is a rising junior. I have just finished my sophomore year of college at a university I’ve come to love regardless of the struggles I’ve faced, both personal and academic.

In my spring semester I have been put into what I feel is a minor spotlight in Indian Country with my writing and social work. Which, as a young native woman, is an incredible dream and feat for me.

Personally, I have met some incredible people that have impacted my life in more ways than one. Leaving them for summer and perhaps even longer was and is an awful struggle that I wish I didn’t have to face so quickly.

The next was that of a sexual assault and almost rape situation that I have experienced at a party a few weeks ago. I have no idea who the perpetrator was, nor do I ever want to see him again. While many would feel differently about this decision, it is only mine. The situation has put me in a very compromising mind set and in certain moments of my life I still feel very uncomfortable about things.

I hope to overcome these feelings by focusing on other things. I look to remind myself of being thankful that I was able to break out of that situation without it leading to an even more traumatic event that so many others have been in. It makes you feel ashamed, scared and causes even the most outgoing person to become introverted.

Although I am currently using this as a type of journal, I want to bring awareness to the ever-steady issue of sexual assault on college campuses in today’s society. It is a very touchy issue being that so many people are still living in a sexist mindset that woman put themselves in these situations by either the scenario they are in, clothes they wear, or general actions they pose. However, what is a consensus for most, if not all of the sexual assault issues, is that no woman or girl asks to be forcefully violated; none of them. To be frank, you are screwed in the head if you think that is the case.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice: Office on Violence Against Women, “American Indians are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault crimes compared to all other races, and one in three Indian women reports having been raped during her lifetime.” This statement is true and incredibly chilling, not only with its statistics but in my experience, I know that it is also very difficult to speak out on the subject for fear of being judged and treated differently. As my personal advice, don’t treat a sexual assault victim in a coddling manner, treat them with respect and reverence as a survivor and support them in what is a most difficult journey.

Currently, I feel comfortable being with and speaking to very few people (especially men) after and about this. However, I never want to let it hold me back from the good things I have built and reached in my life so far. As of right now, after this, I won’t be talking about MY situation publicly again, because it is not something I want to relive. I am very nervous to post this, although, after writing down such a brief detail of my experience, it has allowed me to open up within myself much deeper. I do hope that going about this in such a viral way won’t harm my standings in some way, however, at this point I know I can handle it.

Articles/Information, Personal Experiences, Sports and Entertainment

Native Woman Crush Wednesday: Joanne Shenandoah

ShenandoahSinger, composer, actress, humanitarian, mother, and educator are just some of what make up the woman that is Joanne Shenandoah, of the Iroquois and Oneida Nation.

Having won over 40 music awards, Shenandoah has made her mark in the Native music industry as well as internationally. She has been known to perform at countless humanitarian events alongside, Peter Seeger, Willie Nelson, Bono, and many others. According to her biography she has now recorded 16 CD’s.

In recent years she performed at the Vatican, for the canonization of Saint Kateri Takekwitha. She has also continued to perform in multiple ways for her audiences. For environmental, spiritual, musical and historical reasons, Shenandoah travels across the country and as well as to Canada to participate in educational programs with her husband and daughter Leah.

Joanne-ShenandoahGrowing up, Joanne Shenandoah has impact me heavily in the more spiritual aspect of my life. As a little girl, my mother had introduced me to her album “Matriarch” and would play it for me to fall asleep, if I was ever upset, or just to enjoy something native and warm to play around the house. Little did my mother know that I would then carry around that cassette tape in my Sony Walkman for years playing, dancing and singing along to Shenandoah’s enchanting voice.

I was later able to see her perform at a small concert with family in Philadelphia where afterwards we were able to speak with her. I remember how starstruck and nervous I was when meeting her. Thinking about this memory now, I smile and then I realize the incredible impact that Shenandoah has on people, even toddlers, like I was when I first saw her perform.

Whenever I play the “Matriarch” album (on my iPod now), I immediately am taken to calm place and feel stronger than I was before I hit play. Below is the audio to one of her songs off the album: