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!

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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?

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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.

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.).

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Native Students – Financial Impact on Education. (Part 2)

JMH2981The climb for higher education in the Native American community has been one of the biggest struggles of any minority in the country. Most is due to the lack of educations that has been geared towards Native Americans making inequality level of society even more segregated in education.

However after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 by Congress, which guaranteed that government provide educational services to Native Americans as well as allowing the Bureau of Indian Affairs $250,000 to use for collegiate loan funding for students. With this funding opportunity the rise in Native American students was over a 30% increase, according to surveys done by the BIA between 1934 and 1935.

As the decades past more and more Native American students increased in the United States in colleges and universities. Most was due to the World War and other opportunities for Native Americans that were created through the BIA for Native American veterans.

Throughout the years the annual funding for Native American students has fluctuated there has still been funding to some degree. While many Native Americans graduate from high school in higher rates than other minorities in the United States, the amount of college graduates in Indian Country are much less. Much of this is attributed to lack of encouragement to attend college and Native American role models that can be looked up to in their success.

As of 2011 only 8.6% of Native Americans are college graduates. Several studies and surveys have attributed financial need and aid to academic success in collegiate. For Native American students that have family funding lower than the American average, their grades would decrease with every passing year. In Native American students’ case, the necessity of a scholarship, grant, or financial aid is the biggest factor in their academic achievement, with family and friend support coming in second, followed by peer connection.

All of these factors are needed any student’s success however it is at the highest rate for Native American success today. Having the access to financial aid, scholarships, grants or other loans allows students to focus more on their studies rather than worrying about scrimping and saving to pay for textbooks, school supplies and tuition. Thus creating a much higher GPA level and ultimately graduation rate increase.

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, 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, 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

Native Woman Crush Wednesday: Nanye-hi of the Cherokee Nation

nancyward_cherokeeNanye-hi, or Nancy Ward was apart of the Cherokee Nation and lived in the area now known as Eastern Tennessee. Having been born in 1738, Nanye-hi grew up in the time of European colonialism and warfare. In her lifetime she had two children and her husband was killed during the 1755 Battle of Tailwa during a Cherokee raid on the Creeks.

While in the Battle, Nanye-hi fought along with her people and the Cherokee people won. The actions she was known for in the battle was biting the lead bullets of her husband’s gun in order to make them sharper and more deadly. These actions had made her one of the “Beloved Woman” of her Cherokee clan.

As a Beloved Woman, honored woman are able to make decisions in tribal government. Nanye-hi, according to the National Woman’s History Museum, was the head of the Women’s Council, apart of the Council of Chiefs, and was fully in charge of the tribe’s prisoners.

In her early twenties, Nanye-hi married Bryant Ward, a trader who was known to live among the Cherokee Nation. They had a daughter together and Nanye-hi had learned English and taken the Anglo-American name, Nancy Ward. Meanwhile, Bryant Ward had another wife and children in South Carolina; however, he continued to visit back and forth to both families.

During this time, the Cherokee Nation was involved with the English in its attempts to breakdown the colonies. However, with her nation in this mindset, Nanye-hi tried to maintain peace. In doing so she had let two prisoners free to warn settlers of an attack, which in turn had created discourse between her and the tribe. The tribe then decided to kill all the prisoners and in defense of her position Nanye-hi tried to save the prisoners from execution.

She was able to save only one however. Lydia Bean, who later helped Nanye-hi learn how to make butter and cheese, which had contributed to her decision to buy and raise cattle. This decision was one of the first that introduced cattle into the Cherokee Nation’s economic standing.

Although the battles between the settlers and the Cherokee Nation continued, because of Nanye-hi’s reverence between both sides, her tribe’s clan was left alone.

By 1781, Nanye-hi’s tribe was captured by the settlers. While imprisoned “the settlers ordered the Cherokee to conduct a peace treaty and selected [Nanye-hi] to lead the negotiations.” In her new position she spoke to the settlers saying that women only

Monument for Nanye-hi "Nancy Ward" erected in 1923, by the Daughters of the American Revolution
Monument for Nanye-hi “Nancy Ward” erected in 1923, by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

want pant peace for those she cares for. This speech changed the minds of the settlers’ commissioners and returned some of the lands back to the Cherokees.

This peace lasted 7 years until a chief was killed and the negotiations ended.

By 1817, Nanye-hi was the last Beloved Woman of the Cherokee, and was seventy-nine when she plead to her nation to keep as much of their land as possible for the next generation.

She lived the rest of her life running an inn after her land was sold. She died in 1822. Today, there is a monument from 1923 (featured left) by the Daughters of the American Revolution by her grave in Benton, Tennessee.