Saturday, May 16, 2015

Documentary: Hollow Water

This documentary profiles the tiny Ojibway community of Hollow Water on the shores of Lake Winnipeg as they deal with an epidemic of sexual abuse in their midst. The offenders have left a legacy of denial and pain, addiction and suicide. The Manitoba justice system was unsuccessful in ending the cycle of abuse, so the community of Hollow Water took matters into their own hands. The offenders were brought home to face justice in a community healing and sentencing circle. Based on traditional practices, this unique model of justice reunites families and heals both victims and offenders. The film is a powerful tribute to one community's ability to heal and create change.

You can also purchase the DVD here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Article: Six things not to say to a mixed-race person. And some personal notes

This is an excellent video by Marina Watanabe.

As an American Indian of mixed blood (my Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood says I'm 3/8s, but my reality is a bit more complex than that), I know many other mixed-blood Indians. They, like me, have run into conflict on both sides of the racial divide.

Not the least of this is the "you don't look Indian" remark, something that happens a lot to those of us with lighter skin. When the members of my Seminole family used to come together for reunions, the skin colors of the 25 or so people who showed up—all of us closely related by blood—went from very light to as dark as Michelle Obama, a product of the tribe's long history of intermarrying not only with other tribes but also with whites and blacks.

Appearance is often a poor judge of someone's racial background. Take the Dawes Rolls, for instance. These were established by the government in the late 1800s to determine who among the "Five Civilized Tribes" were Indian and, therefore, entitled to an allotment of land. (These allotments were a means of breaking up the tribes and grabbing "surplus" tribal land. Nearly three-fourths of the land in Indian hands prior to 1887 had been expropriated via this means by 1935.)

The determination of whether somebody was an Indian or not for the Dawes Rolls was accomplished in many instances by a white bureaucrat sitting at a table and looking at the person for half a minute. Thus were families split up. Sometimes brothers and sisters with the same father and mother were categorized differently, one an Indian, another not. It was just one more pernicious practice of a pernicious law.

Historically, there have been two different rules for Indians and African Americans. For the latter, it's the "one-drop rule" actually codified into law at one time in Louisiana. Any African American blood at all and you were black. For Indians, something almost opposite has been the case. If you weren't a full blood, then you were not viewed as a "real Indian." Half breed was a common perjorative term even for people quite a bit younger than I. During my 16 years in the American Indian Movement, I probably had to explain a couple of hundred times why my phenotype doesn't match what most people—both Indian and non-Indian—think my genotype should show.

But looks are far from the only issue.

As Watanabe points out in her video, mixed-race Americans—even when they are the same mix—are affected quite differently by how that mixed racedness is seen by people we come into contact with. Although there are stereotypes specific to our groups, we're unique. The various cultures of our ancestors plus our everyday life determines that uniqueness. We're blended, but even among people of the same blending, how prejudice against mixed-race people plays out is not one-dimensional.
Watanabe's video offers people who want to confront their prejudices with an upbeat lesson on how to get started.

Via - Daily Kos

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Article: Michigan Sells Treaty-Protected, Pristine Public Land for Limestone Mine

A group of American Indians in Michigan have lost their bid to block a land transfer of nearly 9,000 acres to a company proposing a limestone mine—the “largest single public land deal in Michigan history,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

The attempted injunction was the last legal line of defense against the mine, which would cover as many as 13,000 acres, according to the Detroit Free Press. In the deal, which was approved in March, the state will sell 8,810 acres of “surface land or underground mineral rights” to Graymont, a Canadian mining company, for $4.53 million so it can build the limestone mine in the Upper Peninsula, the Detroit Free Press said.

The group—comprised of members of several tribes—had filed suit in Grand Rapids trying to stop the Michigan Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh from transferring land to Graymont Mining Co., based on treaty rights. The mine would be built on about 10,360 acres in the northern peninsula, the  Associated Press reported.

"The land subject to transfer is wholly within the 1836 Treaty of Washington Ceded Territory and subject to the conditions laid out in the 2007 Inland Consent Decree,” said lead plaintiff Phil Bellfy in a statement. “It would be unconstitutional for the MDNR Director to transfer those lands as we—American Indians—have Treaty rights to "the usual privileges of occupancy" on those 11,000 acres. We are asking the Court to step in and preserve our Treaty rights and enjoin Mr. Craegh from transferring that land."

Bellfy said that the land transfer is unconstitutional under treaty provisions. The Michigan Department of Resources announced on Tuesday March 10 that it would recommend Creagh approve the deal at the agency’s March 19 meeting.

Besides Bellfy, members of several area tribes are plaintiffs in the lawsuit—the Bay Mills Indian Community, 
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, 
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, 
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. They are also backed by the Sierra Club and numerous residents who oppose the project, but the prospect of jobs in the economically beleaguered town won out.

Though the tribes were unsuccessful in their bid to get an injunction against the company, the judge did refer the matter to the Court’s Magistrate to see whether or not it should be assigned to the judge who is overseeing the consent decree, Bellfy said in the group’s statement.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Article: Native-r Than You by Dana Her Many Horses

Growing up on the Rez versus out here, in this un-Indian landscape; it’s more than a paradigm shift, it’s not even close. There’s an undercurrent of competition like some kind of school yard push and shove that goes on in our social media circles that we all talk about but not as openly as we should.

If we are going to go forward in positive ways for our Nations we can’t do it fighting with each other in the backseat of the bus. It’s almost something you can’t pin down or address directly because the ground shifts so easily when you’re talking about rumors and salacious gossip. Slippery and without accountability, we see keyboard warriors accusing each other instead of lifting each other. If my Kunsi was still here I could sit and talk with her about all these things that go on and she would laugh about a lot of it. She loved to laugh and gossip too, but she would also talk about where the line is drawn or where it should be. She used to tell me the big stories were who got in trouble at the Indian School, who got pregnant on the side, who was leaving the Rez forever because they got their heart broken. She left Coeur d’Alene Rez forever with a heartbreak like that, her man was dead and she had a baby on the way to raise alone. Some hearts don’t recover, some people don’t just bounce back after that type of loss. The talk then wasn’t what it is now. Then it was Pow Wow gossip, harmless talk over coffee at the kitchen table at night because she and my Aunts always seemed to have a fresh pot going. She called it camp talk since so much of their time to catch up was at deer or fish camp. Especially among the women within our families that’s a hard-wired part of our culture; laughing sideways and Oh is it? until the Sun comes up. But what a leap we have made from that tiny kitchen packed with my Grandmother’s sisters, to the cyber bullying we see now on Twitter, Face Book, Instagram and others. It’s not about hurt feelings at this level; it’s about the black eye it gives what we are trying to do here. There is finally a momentum that I have been excited to watch building up over the last five years among our Nations; for pride in who we are and what it means to be Native at a time when the World needs a strong voice for the environment, for what is right, and for voicing what is wrong and what has to change. We have a chance to do good and to help ourselves and yet for each accomplishment there is a sustained and stinging loss of leadership in our communities because in real talk, people get tired of the constant negativity, the back-biting. When you’re dealing with social media you’re in a whole other country. We tend to take on the organizations we see as defamatory to Indian Country, and from the other side of our faces we smirk and spread gossip about those of us who are doing positive things for our People as a whole.

One of the most common attacks in social media of Natives on other Skins is the one I call “Native-r Than You”. We all know what this is, we see it played out continually on Twitter. The one-up on everything from if you grew up Rez or not, if not why not, if you speak your language or languages fluently, and how many first cousins you have, to the ultimate throw down; how much blood you have. I’ve been through this more times than I can count at this point. I have joked about printing up a genealogy flier to keep in my war pony glovebox. Makes it easier; just hand over the list of relatives, adjust the aviator shades and keep driving. No other group has a more defensive posture as a whole than we do when it comes to our past. It’s a cultural stimulus response reaction stemming from several hundred years of racial profiling, assimilation to survive, and de-assimilation to reconnect us to our roots.

Of course blood is important. There’s no doubt that who we come from gives us strength for where we find ourselves today. Our past is carried forward in our blood. But Crazy Horse isn’t on Twitter. White Buffalo Calf Woman isn’t on Face Book. Our blood and our prophets, our blood and our ceremonies, our blood and our land, our blood and our children; our blood and our unborn. Yes it matters where we came from but it should never be the thing that stakes us to the ground. It should be what gives us the fire inside to move forward as Red Nation People; not in competition with each other, but hand in hand walking forward into a future that our ancestors would be proud to see.

Original article posted to Last Real Indians.