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?

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!

Articles/Information

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

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

Native Woman Crush Wednesday: “Lyda” Conley

Elizabeth "Lyda" Burton Conley
Elizabeth “Lyda” Burton Conley

Elizabeth “Lyda” Burton Conley was the first female lawyer to be admitted to the Kansas and Missouri Bar. Conley was the first female Native plaintiff to lead a case before the U.S Supreme Court.

The case was on the subject of the sale of Huron Place Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri. It was argued that the grounds were the burial place for many members of the Wyandot Nation.

Conley was a direct member of Wyandot and her mother as well as other ancestors was buried in the cemetery. She approached the Supreme Court to appeal the lower courts previous dismissal of the case. After filing the injunction, she lead her case which was then to be the first plaintiff to be on record to argue that Native American burial grounds are under federal protection.

Lyda Conley, at her graduation from Kansas City College of Law
Lyda Conley, at her graduation from Kansas City College of Law

In the process she was also one of the firsts to claim that descendants of the tribe that the treaty was made with held the right to the benefits of that treaty with the federal governments.

In her legal process with the courts, Conley also incorporated physical protest by protecting the grounds. In her matters of protection she accompanied herself with a double-barrel shotgun and threatened to shoot trespassers who attempted to “desecrate the graves of her mother and ancestors.”

Conley ended up losing the case, however continued to fight for the tribe’s rights.

While the Huron Place Cemetery was included in the treaty signed in 1855, there were multiple attempts by the U.S. government to remove the bodies of the Wyandot members and sell the land.

In 1906 Congress had approved the sale of the grounds, which Conley filed an injunction to stop the sale. This was yet another of the many attempts that Conley had made throughout her life to defend Native American Land and History Rights.

Conley died in 1946, and in 1971, the National Register of Historic Places added the cemetery to its registry. Which in 1998, allowed the tribe to keep the grounds as a culturally historic burial ground.

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Native Woman Crush Wednesday: Kateri Tekakwitha

Kateri (Catherine) Tekakwitha
Kateri (Catherine) Tekakwitha

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha of the Mohawk tribe was born in the year 1656, near Auriesville, NY. When she was young girl many within the Mohawk nation had contracted small pox from settlers. Her mother was among those who’s outcome was fatal while Tekakwitha was left with scarring on her face.

When left orphaned she was taken in by her aunts and uncle. She later became baptized within the Catholic faith as Catherine Tekakwitha. Doing so had left many within her tribe to be bitter towards her. Tekakwitha then moved to a Christian colony in Canada where she focused her life tending to the ill and elderly as well as a life of prayer.

On April 17, 1680, Kateri Tekakwitha passed away and is now known as the Lily of the Mohawks and the Flower of the Algonquins. In 1943, the Catholic Church declared she was venerable, and in 1980 Tekakwitha was Beatified.

In 2012, she was inducted into sainthood and is the patron saint of the environment and ecology along with St. Francis of Assisi. Her saint day resides on July 14.

Tekakwitha is one of five Native Americans to be declared a saint in the Christian faith, the others being Episcopal St. Priest Paul Cuffee of the Shinnecock Indian Nation and St. Samson Occum of the Mohegan Nation, Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV of the Hawaiian Islands. March 4 is St. Paul Cuffee’s feast day, St. Samson Occum on July 14th and St. Emma and Kamehameha IV on Nov. 28th.

The following are two prayers to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha:

Blessed Kateri, you are revered as the mystic of the American wilderness.
Though orphaned at the age of four,
and left with a scarred face and
damaged eyesight from illness,
you were esteemed among the Mohawk tribe.
Whenyou asked to be baptized a Christian
you subjected yourself
to abuse by  your people
and were forced to run away.
You endured may trials but
still flowered in prayer and holiness,
dedicating yourself totally to Christ.
I ask you to be my spiritual guide
along my journey through life.
Through you intercession,
I pray that I may always be
loyal to my faith in all things.
Amen.

Kateri, favored child,Flower of the Algonquins and Lily of the Mohawks,We come to seek your intercession in our present need.

We admire the virtures which adorned your soul: love of God and neighbor, humility, obedience, patience, purity and the spirit of sacrifice. Help us to imitate your example in our life. Through the goodness and mercy of God, Who has blessed you with so many graces which led you to the true faith and to a high degree of holiness, pray to God for us and help us.

Obtain for us a very fervent devotion to the Holy Eucharist so that we may love Holy Mass as you did and receive Holy Communion as often as we can. Teach us also to be devoted to our crucified Savior as you were, that we may cheerfully bear our daily crosses for love of Him Who suffered so much for love of us. Most of all we beg you to pray that we may avoid sin, lead a holy life and save our souls. Amen.

In thanksgiving to God for the graces bestowed upon Kateri: one Our Father, Hail Mary and three Glory Be’s. Kateri, Flower of the Algonquins and Lily of the Mohawks, pray for us.

Article Responses, Articles/Information, Personal Experiences

Christina Fallin and her BS “apology”

photo-1Yesterday, Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin’s daughter, Christina Fallin posted a picture on her Instagram and Facebook of her donning a red Native American headdress.

Fallin had stated to the Associated Press that she feels a “deeper and deeper connection to the Native American culture” and that she had wore it out of respect and her love of wearing beautiful things.

Now, whether Fallin feels about what she is doing is respectful is her own belief, however, what she needs to realize and needs to be educated on is when you are not of a certain culture and are wearing a cultural centerpiece outside of its purpose, it is incredibly disrespectful.

1909332_281508802005908_290670924_oA quote from Fallin and her partner Chrome Pony’s press release (above), “You can keep your distance from something your whole life out of fear that you might taint it or that it might taint you, or you can embrace it and let it affect you. We choose to live our life in the latter category.” What I feel Fallin admits here, is that she has tainted something and is choosing to embrace something that honestly you have to be invited into. What Fallin has done is disrespectful, and from what she has stated is knowingly acting against a culture and a large group of people.

The photo has currently been taken down from Facebook and a press release by Fallin and Pony has been posted in its place. Countless comments have been made on the offensive and inappropriate photograph as well as the insincere lackluster “apology.” Fallin clearly knew what she was doing not only from her photograph, her letter but also the fact that she lives in the heartland of Indian Country.

The fact is Christina and her group is one of many who have done culturally disrespectful actions like this. However, what Christina is also an example of is the large amount of white privilege that is an American epidemic. The idea that one does not need to take responsibility for certain actions and elicited emotional responses are astounding and a subject that needs to be addressed.

Article Responses, Articles/Information, Movements and Organizations

“Heating the Rez”: The Northern Plains are on the Brink.

Nationally, we have all been greatly affected by what is being called the “Polar Vortex.” Whether it is has been a flash-freeze, a Nor’easter, or the major drought on the West Coast, millions have been impacted by this memorable winter season.

Standing Rock Indian Reservation
Standing Rock Indian Reservation

On the Standing Rock Reservation, there has been a major propane shortage due to price inflation. This shortage has caused a lack of heat for reservation residents. In the past month, a death has occurred due to freezing temperatures in homes. Debbie Dogskin, 61, died while house-sitting, from what is believed to be hypothermia. When found, the home’s temperature was -1 degree Fahrenheit. Networks like ABC News covered this tragic story. However, the struggle still continues for those who cannot afford propane at the current prices that have doubled in price since the previous season.

The Standing Rock Sioux Nation has been in a state of emergency for almost a full month due to the brutal winter and propane issues.

Fundraisers such as “Heating the Rez” have been conducted on sites like Indiegogo for contributions to those in need on the reservation. The fundraiser will be continuing for the next 28 days, ending March 19. For donations and contributions you can visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/heating-the-rez.

The video above features Chase Iron Eye, a lawyer and founder of lastrealindians.com, a Native American media site for the preservation and advocacy of Native people, culture and news, has been in forefront for leading the Heating the Rez movement. Iron Eyes speaks about the loss of the member of the Standing Rock community and the fundraiser to heat the homes in the Northern Plains.

The fact that a woman has had to die and her relatives having to suffer from her loss, in order for this to get national media attention is a gross astonishment. For people in this country to suffer in their homes and communities due to lack of a basic need is a plague that needs to be taken care of.