Native Village Youth and Education News

“We’ve gone away from the naturalistic way of life for the materialistic. We’ve forgotten about nature, to be thankful even for just the breath of life, for the sun coming up.”
Edna Gordon, Seneca

April 1, 2008   Issue 188   Volume 3

US government blasted for extensive racial discrimination
Switzerland: The United Nations has harshly criticized the U.S. government for discriminating against American Indians and other minorities and for not addressing high rates of violence against indigenous women. The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said the U.S. has failed to meet its obligations and international standards.

The CERD report found:
"Stark racial disparities" in the criminal justice system;
"Wide racial disparities" in the areas of human rights violations, environmental racism, health care, housing and education;
Concerns about nuclear testing and toxic waste storage;
Concerns about mining or logging in areas of spiritual and cultural significance to American Indians regardless if it's reservation land or not; 
The United State's use of corporations to exploit natural resources on indigenous lands throughout the world.

The committee recommended that the U.S. should:
Recognize Native rights to participate in decisions affecting them;
Consult indigenous peoples before pursuing activity in areas of spiritual or cultural significance;
Increase efforts to prevent and punish violence and abuse against minority women;
Report on the numbers of victims, perpetrators, convictions and the types of sanctions.

Indigenous leaders are pleased that CERD suggested the U.S. submit a report on its compliance within one year. "It is important that all Native peoples within the U.S.  know that they have rights that are recognized by international law, even if the U.S. refuses to recognize them or act upon them," said Alberto Saldamando from the Indian Law Resource Center in Helena, Montana. "Now it is not just us, but the international community that has recognized that indigenous peoples within the U.S. are subject to racism on many levels and has called for effective steps by the U.S.  to remedy this situation.  We will be watching closely to see if the U.S.  finally decides to become a country which operates under the rule of law."

Indian Affairs Committee finds Native American Schools, Jails and Health Facilities Crumbling
Washington, D.C.: The Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee says that schools, health clinics and jails on Indian reservations are in desperate need of repair or replacement. Senator Byron Dorgan, (D-ND) says:
 $1,800,000,000 is needed to build or fix schools which a Department of the Interior report calls unsafe and dangerous.
 There's nearly a $3,000,000,000 backlog in construction or repair of Native American health facilities;
 $6,000,000 is needed to repair and construct jails;
President Bush has repeatedly under funded Native American agencies programs.  For Fiscal Year 2009, Mr. Bush has proposed to:
  Cut $21,000,000 from the Indian Health Service’s facilities budget;  
  Elimination of Department of Justice funding for tribal jails;  
  Cut $3,000,000 to the Department of Interior’s budget to repair tribal jails.  
“For too long we’ve had to fight the Administration just to keep the level funding," Senator Dorgan said, "but that’s not going to cut it anymore, It’s time for the needs of the Native American communities to be met and we’re going to fight to fund them. The passing of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act was the starting line, not the finish line ... "

Government will head back to court over American Indian trusts
Washington, D.C.: U.S. District Judge James Robertson wants to resolve a 12-year lawsuit over government mismanagement of American Indian lands. Judge Robertson says Interior Department accounts about the billions of dollars it owes American Indian landholders have been "unreasonably delayed" and impossible to determine.  At the same time, Robertson said the task is not hopeless. At a recent status hearing, he sent out a schedule for the next few months for both sides to argue how the trial should proceed.
H-AMINDIAN Listserve

Native leader says new protests to "reach out"
Ontario: The First Nations' "growing frustrations" will be felt this summer during a national day of action highlighting children's issues. After being virtually shut out of the federal government's last budget, plans are being made to hold more than 100 events across the country to reach out to Canadians, said Phil Fontaine, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Board game unravels confusing treaty lingo
British Columbia: The Treaty Board Game is the brainchild of Joey Caro. Caro, a  Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group manager, grew tired of treaty meetings where people were stymied by phrases such as "land based jurisdictional model" and "S.87 tax exemption. "You go to a meeting and speak in acronyms. It's like speaking in tongues," Caro said.  "I thought this was an easier way for them to pick it up."  The Treaty Board Game unravels the complicated jargon of treaty talks. So far, 500 copies of the game have been produced. Funding has come from several sources -- but not the provincial government, said Caro, who wants to double the number of games being distributed.  "We'd like a wider audience.  It's an important question," he said. The Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group is made up of Cowichan, Chemainus, Penelakut, Lyackson, Halalt and Lake Cowichan nations. They  entered the treaty process in 1994.  For most of those years, they've been stuck in Stage 4, the agreement in principle stage. Caro says that on of the Hul'qumi'num jokes about the Treaty Board Game is that it will take at least 14 years to play.

First Nations Headline News March 26, 2008

Sonora filmmaker gets probation for taping American Indian dances
California: A federal judge sentenced a Sonora filmmaker to probation and nearly 200 hours of community service for improperly shooting American Indian ceremonial dances. Lorenzo Baca, 60, took footage of the dances in 2002 at Yosemite National Park's Indian Village. He used the footage to create a 30-minute video intended for home or educational use. Three years later, a park service worker spotted his video on sale at a park gift shop.  Baca was found guilty of trespassing on a cultural resource and doing business in the park without a permit.

 Northern Native Youth Launch 500-km Walk to Winnipeg
Norway House Cree Nation, Manitoba: Dozens of area teens walked 500 kilometers from their reserves to Winnipeg to voice concerns about social problems in their communities. The teens are hoping to raise enough money to reopen a recreation centre. A recent rash of teen suicides is only one tragic example, said supporter Bobby Monias, 27, from the  Island Lake Regional Youth Council.  "We need to start listening to these young people on how and what they feel that should be done to prevent suicide,"  he said. "We want to promote change for our young kids, for our younger generation."  Conditions on the reserves lead many youth to feel hopeless, Monias said. Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant, gangs are a constant temptation and few healthy activities are available to youth. " There's a lack of resources for them. There's nothing set in place. Like, when you think about it, when you're in isolation all your life, it kind of gets to you," said Monias.  The reserve'  only recreation center opened in 2006 but closed after only one summer due to vandals and thieves.

Federal Judge Says Tribal Courts Can Supervise Child Adoptions
Alaska:  Federal judge Timothy Burgess has ordered the state of Alaska to let tribal courts supervise adoptions and child-welfare matters involving tribal members.  For tribes, it's good news, but also politics as usual.  While former Governor Tony Knowles approved the tribes' birth certificates and  records for adopted children, his successor, Frank Murkowski, reversed many policies.  During Murkowski's term, children adopted by tribal orders could not get Social Security numbers, new birth certificates or identification papers for travel.  "It was unfortunate, because the people who ended up paying for it were the little kids who needed good homes," said native rights attorney, Natalie Landreth.

Tobacco culture not native
Black Hills, South Dakota:  In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control said Native Americans have the highest smoking rates of all Americans.  95% of Native American students will have tried smoking before graduating from high school; 50% of them already smoke.  Dr.  Patricia Nez Henderson blames the tobacco industry because it targets Native people through marketing and sponsorship of Native events.  "It worked," she said.  “It’s an epidemic health crisis with a long-term impact on health delivery systems.”  Commercial tobacco is not what native tribes introduced to the colonists. Today's tobacco products are saturated with 4,000 chemicals. 300 of those cause cancer. Smoking also leads to heart disease and diabetes and causes SIDS, asthma and developmental delays in children who experience secondhand smoke   "Cigarette smoking is not traditional in any way,” said Stephen Yellowhawk who added that tobacco didn't grow in all areas. Some tribes used red willow bark which, unlike today's cigarettes, was not smoked socially.   Recently, the Black Hills Center for American Indian Health held the “The Oniyan Wakan” (“Sacred Breath”) art contest. Over 200 entries addressed the theme of how commercial  tobacco impacts Lakota culture, traditions and values.  " We have accepted cigarette smoking as part of our culture, but that’s not the type of tobacco we used,' said Yellowhawk, who entered a beaded scene called Choices.  “The tobacco companies are tricking us."

Television crew 'spread deadly flu to Amazon tribe

Amazon Rainforest, Peru: A British television crew has been blamed for infecting an ancient Amazonian tribe with a lethal flu epidemic. Four Matsigenka tribal members, including three children, have died since two Westerners arrived to film The World's Lost Tribes late last year.  Peru had permitted the filmmakers to visit the community of Yomybato; however, witnesses say the crew traveled further up river to find more isolated people. Many of these tribes, including the Matsigenka, have not been exposed to the flu and other common illnesses, so their immune systems have no protection.  Lost Tribes producers deny their employees are to blame. "The researcher and his guide did not visit the area where the deaths are said to have occurred and no deaths occurred amongst the individuals they met," Cicada Productions said in a statement. "They at all times followed correct procedures..."  The documented history of the Matsigenka tribe goes back 500 years when they traded with the

Parks develop plan to keep virus out of Lake Superior
Grand Portage Indian Reservation, Michigan: The National Park Service and the Grand Portage Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa have joined efforts to keep a deadly fish virus out of Lake Superior. Viral hemorrhagic septicemia has caused large fish kills in the other Great Lakes and some inland waterways, but has not yet affected Lake Superior.  The group has outlined 16 steps to prevent VHS from entering Lake Superior. The plan includes educating the public, restricting fish bait that could carry the virus, and prohibiting the exchange of ballast water within park waters.

New list tells you what Great Lakes fish to buy to help the environment

Illinois: For 10 years, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium has offered a wallet sized "Right Bite" card that ranks the best fish to eat when it comes to sustainability.  The color-coded cards arrange species into categories of Best, Good and Avoid.  For the first time, this year's card also contains information about Great Lakes fish. Some are doing well, including Lake Erie yellow perch and most whitefish. Other fish, like lake trout from Lakes Huron and Michigan, should be avoided because of habitat loss, overfishing and harm by invasive sea lampre.  "We just want to raise awareness," said Michelle Jost from Shedd's Aquarium. "Eating fish is good for you. Eating the right fish is good for the environment."  Every year over 150,000 Right Bite cards are given away at festivals and other events. This year, those numbers are expected to rise with the inclusion of Great Lakes fish.  The Shedd Aquarium has been honored by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration for its "Right Bite"  program.
Print your own Right Bite Card:

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