Native Village 

Youth and Education News

March 1, 2007 Issue 176  Volume 3

"Because woman lives so close to our first mother, the Earth, she emanates the strength and harmonious nature of all things." Larry P. Aitken, Chippewa

Nobel Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Running for President in Guatemala
Guatemala: Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu will run for the presidency of Guatemala. Menchu, 48, will represent the Encounter for Guatemala Party.  "I have accepted the presidential candidacy for 2007, and we expect to bring hope to Guatemala," Menchu said.  Rigoberta, a Guatemalan Quiche Indian, would be the first woman and the first Indian ever to serve as president in this overwhelmingly Indian country.  Menchu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 as a lifetime award "in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples."  For decades, Guatemala has been split along racial lines, with a largely white elite and an impoverished Indian majority.
H-Amindian Listserve

American Indian tribe wins recognition nearly 400 years later
Massachusetts:  The Wampanoag were the ones who met the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1620 and took part in the first Thanksgiving meal.  Finally, after 400 years, the US government has officially recognized the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts.  Asked why it took so long for recognition, a tribal official said bureaucratic procedures do "not necessarily favour the Eastern tribes."  The Mashpee submitted 64 boxes of documents to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The information included genealogies dating to the 1620s for each of the tribe's 1,461 living members.  With their new federal recognition, the Mashpee Wampanoag can apply for federal housing and health care assistance, hunt and fish without a state licence, and apply to build a casino. There are currently 561 recognized Native American tribes in the United States and nearly 200 petitions for recognition.
Learn More: Mandatory Criteria for Federal Acknowledgment of an Indian Nation

MNO at Forefront in Guatemala
Ontario: Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President, Tony Belcourt, will visit Mayan communities in Guatemala to discuss raising funds for schools in isolated villages. He and his hosts will also talk about technology needs for health, education, governance and commerce.  In addition, President Belcourt will discuss purchasing textiles from Mayan women to feed their children.   For years, President Belcourt and his partner, Danielle, have privately traveled to Guatemala. They have learned a great deal about the struggles of the Q'eqchi Maya in the Alta Verapaz Region where people are living in conditions identical to the feudal system of the middle ages.
H-Amindian Listserve

Mortality rate shows disparity
South Dakota:  American Indian babies born in western South Dakota face a risky first year of life. Of the state’s 66 counties, 13 have infant mortality rates of more than 10 deaths per 1,000 live births. 10 of those counties are on or west of the Missouri River.  Each is on or near one of the state's nine Indian reservations.

From 2000 - 2005:
65,346 babies were born in the state. 453 did not live to see their first birthday;
The death rate for American Indian babies was
12.9 per 1,000; more than double the 5.5 death rate for white babies;
The overall SD  infant death rate was
7.2. Nationally, the U.S  infant mortality rate is 6.8;
There were
8.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in the “frontier” counties (those with 6 or fewer people per square mile);
In Mellette County, the infant mortality rate was
23.7 per 1,000. That means 5 of the 211 babies born there died before 1 year of age. Mellette borders the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian reservations;

The leading cause of infant death in South Dakota is complications from premature birth and low birth weight. Officials say that two keys to reducing infant deaths is for pregnant women to stop smoking and to seek prenatal care. An educational media campaign, “I Didn’t Know,” is helping educate people about the early signs of pregnancy and about the importance of prenatal care.  “ We found the infant mortality rate was six times higher for moms who received no prenatal care than for those mothers who got prenatal care in the first trimester,” said Doneen Hollingsworth, South Dakota's secretary of health.  All nine of South Dakota's tribes are participating in "I Didn't Know," which is funded by a  three-year, $375,000 grant. It hopes to survey 1,000 mothers of American Indian babies and learn about their prenatal care experiences and any barriers to it. This information will then be shared among the tribal, state, and federal health officials. They will collaborate on what works and support funding  for those programs.

Program fights American Indian obesity
Michigan:  Students at Flint Southwestern Academy plan to participate in their first road race, the Sweetheart 5K run/walk. The run will be organized by Veda Balla from the district's American Indian education program. Valla began the running/walking club for the Flint Indian Student Organization after she lost 80 pounds by watching her diet and exercising. So she thought, why not involve the children in this, too?  "Obesity has been a problem in the Indian community," she said. The Sweetheart Run is 3.1 miles long. About 10 students in grades 7- 12 are active in the club, "If you get a few core kids interested, sometimes it can be infectious."

Tragedy spurs Minn. cop to mount Indian Country crime database
Minnesota: In 1999, Sgt. Bill Blake and his daughter, Erica, were driving home from Fond du Lac reservation.  "Dad, you have to do more," he recalls her saying about his role in helping Indian youth. He protested; as a father, a cop, an Indian and a lecturer, he was doing plenty. But four years later, 20-year-old Erica Rae Blake was killed at a party on a Wisconsin reservation where drugs, alcohol and gang members were all present.  Though the death was ruled accidental, Blake is haunted by her words.  "What I've learned is doing nothing will get your family killed," he said.  "So if I were to sit back and still do nothing and lose somebody else that was close to me, I couldn't live with myself."  Blake is now working to create a database that track crimes in Indian Country and allow tribes to share information.  The project, dubbed I-CARE [Indian Crime Awareness Research and Evaluation,] would help tribes spot trends and track people who commit crime on one reservation while seeking sanctuary elsewhere. Blake and his partners will collect information from just a few tribes at first, then expand the project to include all tribes in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The ultimate goal is a national database.  "We're never going to be able to address these problems and make things better in tribal communities when it comes to crime and quality of life unless we get the data," he said.

New Book on Miracles of Hawaiian Kahuna
Hawaii: Na Mo'olelo Lomilomi: The Traditions of Hawaiian Massage and Healing tells of miraculous healings by Native Hawaiian priests from 1794-1930.  The priests, known as kahunas, divulged their wisdoms in the Hawaiian language to other Hawaiians.  Those who recorded the healings translated and saved the writings for future generations.  These writings have only recently been  re-discovered.  Na Mo'olelo Lomilomi shares those kahunas' oral histories. Among the messages:
All Hawaiian healing begins with prayers and the spiritual, with akua or God. One kupuna said, "They knew the laws of vibration. They gathered the vibration of the plentiful;"
The Hawaiians knew that anger, guilt and grudges cause illness. They practiced ho'oponopono (ho-o-po-no-po-no), a process of forgiveness and reconciliation;
Some kahuna healed without touching.
"Numerous haumana (students) and na kumu (teachers) across the country and the globe will have access to hitherto unknown gems of wisdom which sparkle across the history of Hawaiian medicine," said Native healer Dane Kaohelani Silva. "[Author] Makana Risser Chai has done a great service for those of us who have dedicated our lives to the preservation of the Hawaiian people, healing arts and culture.
Artwork adapted from:

Design Revealed for Doomsday Seed Vault
Norway: A vast diversity in crops exists across the planet. To protect the world's seeds from global environmental changes, the Svalbard International Seed Vault is set to open in 2008. Carved deep into frozen Arctic rock,  Svalbard will act like a Noah's Ark by protecting the seeds from disaster.  "The Norwegian government hopes to contribute to combating the loss of biological diversity, to reduce our vulnerability to climatic changes, and to enhance our ability to secure future food production," said Terje Riis-Johansen.  
The Global Crop Diversity Trust is helping to fund the vault's operations and pay for the preparation and transport of seeds to Svalbard.  "There are, for instance, well over 100,000 distinct varieties of rice, compared to the 400 or so breeds of dog out there," said Cary Fowler of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.  "These represent all the options that crops have for developing in the future, the raw material for plant evolution."

Aboriginals Admit Their Hunting May Be Part Of Caribou Decline
Ontario: In remote northern communities, hunting caribou is akin to going shopping. Caribou, which many families eat several times a week, remains a healthy and affordable meal.  But now, caribou numbers are plummeting throughout the North. Five of seven herds are in decline; a sixth is suspected of shrinking and no information exists on the seventh. The largest herd, the Bathurst herd north of Great Slave Lake, has dropped from nearly 500,000 animals to 186,000 - a decline of more than 60%. A recent summit on the crisis recommends that people whose livelihood and culture depend on the animal should limit how many caribou they kill. "We have to be disciplined about the way we harvest," said Richard Nerysoo, chief of the Inuvik Dene band. "We have to realize that has to change." Caribou populations have always fluctuated. Some believe the current population loss is due climate change, increasing industrial activity, and mining intrusions on calving grounds. But many also suggest that modern hunting is hindering the caribous, ability to recover.
Brantford Expositor

Inuit Accuse US of Destroying Their Way of Life with Global Warming
A group of Inuit representing Inuit peoples across the Arctic Circle will soon travel to Washington DC. and offer first hand testimony of how global warming is destroying their way of life.  They will also accuse the Bush administration of violating their human rights and international human rights laws.  "The impacts of climate change, caused by acts and omissions by the US, violate the Inuit's fundamental human rights protected by the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and other international instruments," the Inuit state.  "Because Inuit culture is inseparable from the condition of their physical surroundings, the widespread environmental upheaval resulting from climate change violates the Inuit's right to practice and enjoy the benefits of their culture."  The delegation to Washington will be led by Sheila Watt-Cloutier.  Watt-Cloutier, the former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  "For us in the Arctic, our entire culture depends on the cold," she said.  "The problem of climate change is what this is all about. At the same time we will be bringing in lawyers to talk about the link between climate change and human rights." The latest scientific reports suggest that global warming could cause Arctic temperatures to rise by 4-7° C over the next 100 years. This is doubles the estimated increases of previous reports. Scientists also predict that summer sea ice could completely disappear by 2040.
Centigrade to Fahrenheit Conversion:

Navy May Deploy Dolphins in Terror Fight
California: Dozens of dolphins and sea lions could soon be patrolling the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base in Washington State. The base is home to submarines, ships and laboratories. The Navy said KBNB is vulnerable to attack by terrorist swimmers and scuba divers.  "These animals have the capabilities for what needs to be done for this particular mission," said Tom LaPuzza from the MMP.  The plan would use 30 trained Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions from the Navy's Marine Mammal Program:
  Sea lions can carry in their mouths special cuffs attached to long ropes. If the animal finds a rogue swimmer, it can clamp the cuff around the person's leg. The individual can then be reeled in for questioning.
Because of their astonishing sonar abilities, dolphins are excellent at patrolling for swimmers and divers.
When a Navy dolphin detects a person in the water, it drops a beacon. This tells the Navy where to find the suspicious swimmer.
Dolphins are also trained to detect underwater mines.
Dolphins and sea lions have already served the Navy.  In 2003, the patrolled the Iraqi harbor of Umm Qasr.  In 1996, they patrolled San Diego bay during the Republican National Convention.  The Navy has been training marine mammals since the 1960s and keeps about 100 dolphins and sea lions. Most are in San Diego, but about 20 are deployed at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga.  The Navy is seeking public comment for an environmental impact statement on the proposal.
Associated Press

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