Youth and Education News
April 28, 2004, Issue 132 Volume 3
"In Alaska, the beaches are slumping so much, people are having to move houses. In Tuktoyaktuk, the land is starting to go under water. The glaciers are melting and the permafrost is melting. There are new species of birds and fish and insects showing up. The Arctic is a barometer for the health of the world. If you want to know how healthy the world is, come to the Arctic and feel its pulse." Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Inuit
Leaders Seek to Sign up 1 Million New Indian Voters This Year
American Indian leaders are working to get 1,000,000 new Indian voters to the polls in November. It's believed that by chance--and geography--the Native American vote will decide the Senate in several states. "I think that Republicans and Democrats alike believe this is going to be a major priority," said David Magleby from Brigham Young University. "In Senate races in Alaska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Colorado, American Indian voters, though small in numbers, could determine the winner." There are 4,300,000 American Indians nationwide, nearly 3,000,000 over the age of 18.
Tribes gain right to prosecute nonmembers
In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the federal government to prosecute cases on Indian reservations even after a tribal court conviction. In the decision, the court also extended tribal sovereignty allowing tribes to prosecute non-member Indians for acts committed on the tribes' reservation.
Métis leader calls for Riel inquiry
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has recognized the Métis as a nation. Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand is pleased with the recognition. "This is something I've been dreaming for years, and the best way to describe it is like being really a prisoner of a foreign country somewhere and they're releasing you back to your own country," he says. "Although we're from Canada, we've been feeling like we're prisoners in our own country, that nobody recognized us as a people, as a nation with rights. And that people just took advantage of us and took away anything we possessed, whether it was our land, or our homes or our rights to hunting and fishing, they just trampled all over us. Nobody cared." Prime Minister Martin has also vowed to honour Métis leader Louis Riel, who was hanged for treason in 1885 in Regina. As far as honouring Riel, Chartrand does not want Riel to be pardoned because he says Riel wasn't guilty in the first place. "In fact, there should be an inquiry into what actually took place," he says. Metis leader Louis Riel was tried, convicted, and hung nearly 120 years ago.
Looter of Indian cave loses appeal of $2.5 million fine
Jack Lee Harelson, 63, of Grants Pass, Ore. has lost a bid to overturn a $2,500,000 fine for what federal officials say is the worst case of American Indian cave looting in Nevada history. Among Harelson's crimes is the 1980s looting of Elephant Mountain Cave which contained a 10,000-year record of human life, including that of the Paiute tribe. More than 2,000 artifacts were later recovered, including two children's skeletons and 10,000-year-old sandals that ay be the oldest footwear found on earth.
Belgian minister in genocide row
The Belgian defense minister, Andre Flahaut, has approved an official document asserting that the biggest genocide of the past 500 years occurred in North America. The report, entitled Genocides, puts North America at the top of the list saying the ongoing genocide of Native Americans has claimed 15,000,000 lives since 1492, when Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas. The report ranked South America second, with 14,000,000 deaths of indigenous people since 1500. Flahaut's endorsement of report is drawing criticism from the United States.
United States wants international ruling kept secret
The United States is attempting to keep secret an international ruling that affects American Indians and property rights. The ruling calls for a review of all U.S. law and policy regarding indigenous peoples and their right to property. "The U.S. was found to be in violation of international law -- found to be violating our rights to property, to due process and to equality under the law," said Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone. "They have been told to remedy this situation and to review all law and policy relating to indigenous peoples in the United States." The Organization of American States ruling focuses on the Dann's right to their ancestral land and the violation of their human rights. "They tell us our lands are federal lands," Dann said, speaking of the ranch on lands where her tribe has lived for 4,000 years. The U.S. is seizing the land for open pit cyanide leach gold mining and the Nuclear Waste Repository at Yucca Mountain, a mountain that Shoshone hold sacred.
Indian Country Today
The lost youth of Leech Lake
Darren, 16: Sentenced to indefinite juvenile detention and probation for fatally shooting Donald Kamrowski, 19, during a night of drinking and gun-play;
Jesse, 16: Charged in the killing of Louie Bisson, 48, with an ax handle;
George, 16: also charged in the killing of Bisson;
Darryl , 17: also charged in the killing of Bisson;
Kenneth, 16: Sentenced to 35 years in prison for killing tourist Brian Jenny, 21, with a baseball bat after a night of drinking;
Leah, 19: Sentenced to 30 years for helping to kill Jenny by taking her turn with the bat;
Stephanie, 20: Sentenced to 10 years in prison for driving the car used to haul Jenny to a swamp where she died;
Cheyenne, 20: Sentenced to 12˝ years for setting a mobile home fire that killed Faye Nelson, 25;
Joseph, 20: Awaits sentencing for manslaughter and criminal conduct in the 2002 drug-overdose death of Heather Casey, 15;
Ellie, 19: Sentenced to four years for driving drunk in an accident that killed passenger Jerome Johnson;
Zachary, 17: Run over and killed early on New Year's Day while passed out on a highway. His blood-alcohol level was .18;
Donald , 19: Fatally shot in the head while drinking with a group of teens;
Heather, 15: Died of a drug overdose after being assaulted;
Richard, 19: Killed in a car accident while driving. His blood-alcohol level was .25. Three passengers were injured;
Geraldine Whipple, 19: Fatally shot in the head after a party.
Alarming numbers of children on the Leech Lake Indian reservation in Northern Minnesota are being lost to alcohol, drugs, prison and death. Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Larry Oakes was concerned, and wanted to learn more about the Leech Lake Indian Indian reservation where he grew up. People who remembered him "would walk up to me and say, 'Something terrible is happening here,'" he said. "'The kids are out of control.'" So Oakes teamed up with StarTribune photographer Jerry Holt and moved into a reservation house. They lived there for almost six months until their presence -- interviewing, photographing, listening and pondering -- was taken almost for granted. A three part series, "The Lost Youth of Leech Lake," appears in the tribune, including slideshows, addresses the reasons for the cycle of crime and hopelessness.
Read the stories: http://www.startribune.com/leech/
Maria Garcia, who now lives near Tuscon, grew up in southern Mexico. She recalls the healthy foods harvested from the earth: corn, squash and beans. "People live longer over there," Maria said. "Everything was eaten fresh. I never heard of anyone having diabetes. We ate a lot of sugarcane, but it was natural." At home and in her Tuscon restaurant, La Indita, Maria makes fresh salsa from roasted jalapenos, tomatoes and garlic and serves them on green tamales. Nopalitos are one of her best-shared secrets. "There's a lot of variety of cactus," she said, "but it seems like we're born knowing which ones are good and where they are at. When they're tender, they're good." Maria also mentions natural healing plants. "We used a lot of herbal remedies. When we had a cold, we never went to a drugstore, we used herbs...We weren't able to eat meat much; we ate a lot of vegetables and we hardly ever saw a doctor."
Aboriginal Health Elective First of its Kind
In Toronto, Ontario, medical students at Hamilton's McMaster University have completed the first year of aboriginal health elective called the "first of its kind" in Canada. Created by both aboriginal and non-aboriginal medical students and faculty, the five month course deals with three key issues: to meet the needs of aboriginal people and communities in Canada;to fulfill the educational needs of medical students; and to meet the obligation of social accountability to Canada's aboriginal people.
Portage Daily Graphic (Manitoba, Canada).
Toxic culture leads to unhealthful habits
At least one-third of today's toddlers are going to develop diabetes. That's because we're eating too much, exercising too little and getting fat. "The fact that...diabetes is now appearing in children tells us the environment in which we are living is absolutely conducive to diabetes," said Jill De Zapien from the University of Arizona. If obesity and diabetes soar out of control as predicted, today's youngsters could lose decades off their lives. But good news came out of a recent national study of people at risk of developing for diabetes. Losing 7% of their body weight, exercising 30 minutes a day, five times a week, and intensive counseling on diet, exercise and behavior -- reduced their risk of diabetes by nearly 60%. "With diabetes, prevention is better than cure -- it's the ballgame," said Dr. Naznin Dixit. "With our diabetic and pre-diabetic children, lifestyle change is the priority; it's what we emphasize. We don't have a magic pill for diabetes, but we know this works."
Cigarette companies target American Indians
Benjamin Ben-David is urging American Indians to quit smoking and live longer. He says cigarette companies have used more than 4,000 chemicals--including methane, methanol, butane and arsenic--to get smokers addicted and keep them addicted. Nicotine takes seven seconds to enter the blood and react with your brain. "It is an unbelievably fast-acting drug," Ben-David said. Today, American Indians are among those targeted by packaging and images which use Native symbols and terms. "We remind tribes that tobacco is sacred and to be used to connect you to the Great Spirit," Ben-David said. In the United States about 25% of people smoke, but the number is higher for American Indians. Nationally, about 30% of Indians smoke, but for some tribes the numbers are much higher. "The tobacco industry works very hard to get people addicted. They know they get people addicted, and they kill them," Ben-David said.
Indian Country Today
Oglala Sioux Tribe develops West Nile Virus plan
The Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota will use a $100,000 state block for a program to fight the West Nile Virus. The West Nile Virus recently killed two tribal members and has hit other reservations.
Poisons From Afar Threaten Arctic Mothers, Traditions
Scientists say the Arctic, a once pristine and unspoiled land, has become a sinkhole for pollutants. The contaminants -- including heavy metals, mercury, PCBs, DDT and other pesticides -- come north by air and water. "Northerners suffer the public health and environmental consequences of...contaminants brought to the Arctic by winds and currents from tropical and temperate countries," said Terry Fenge, counsel for the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. Many toxins settle in the fatty tissue of animals, particularly those in the marine environment which are eaten by substinance-lifestyle Inuit. Canadian government studies prove many Inuit have dangerously high levels of PCBs, DDT and mercury in their blood, fatty tissue and breast milk. "On a human level, we are being poisoned from afar," said Sheila Watt-Cloutier, ICC chairman.
s 65% of women in Nunavut's Baffin region have over 5 times the safety levels of PCBs in their blood;
s Women in Broughton Island near Baffin Island have more than 500% the levels of PCBs in their breast milk than other Canadian women;
s 80% of mothers in Nunavik, (northern Quebec), and 68% of mothers in Baffin had unsafe levels of mercury in their blood.
The Inuit, whose have roamed Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia for thousands of years, will petition the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights claiming that pollutants, climate change and residue from military installations violate their human rights. "The Inuit are facing the beginning of a possible end of a way of life that has allowed us to thrive for millennia because of climate changes caused by global warming," Watt-Cloutier said. "It is predicted that in some 50 years, polar bears, walrus and some species of seals will be pushed to extinction. What will be left of our culture if this comes to pass?"
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