Venezuelan Indian Affairs official seeks solidarity among
hemisphere's indigenous peoples
Cheyenne River Reservation, S.D. - Aloha Nunez, from Venezuela's
Wayuu tribe, is her country's vice minister for Indigenous Affairs.
In August, Nunez visited four Lakota communities --
Lower Brule, Rosebud and Pine Ridge -- to discuss ways for both
country's native nations to share friendship, cultural, and student
exchanges. "This has been a particularly exciting experience,''
Nunez said of her visit. ''We have been able to witness
traditions and culture are still alive here." Nunez spoke about
Venezuela's programs and plans to benefit its indigenous
She also said the ministry's goal is to unify all
indigenous peoples of the Americas ''in their struggle and
resistance for more than 500 years of oppression. Before, we used to
be ashamed of our backgrounds. Nevertheless, we are now experiencing
a revival of our ancestral roots and traditions.'' One of the
issues that shocked the vice minister is the high suicide rate among
Native youth. ''This cannot be," said Nunez's interpreter, Sabine Kienz. "This is terrible. Twenty-seven people committed suicide
just on the Rosebud Reservation in the last three years and 80
percent of them were young people! This is not acceptable.'' Nunez,
25, is Venezula's youngest person to hold a ministerial office.
Native Hawaiian Convention to hold first-ever session in Hawaiian
Hawaii: For the first time, the annual Native Hawaiian Convention
will conduct a session entirely in the Hawaiian language. The
session is called "Olelo Hawaii in the Mainstream Media" and will be
presented by Amy Kalili. who anchors the first native language show
on network news, and Naalehu Anthony, a documentary and news
Report: Bush family cleaning up on transfer of public lands to
Wayne Madsen is
an investigative journalist from Washington, DC. Madsen often
appears as a commentator on NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, CNN, and
networks. He has testified before the US House of Representatives,
the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the French government.
In a recent report, Madsen claims that the Bush family is reaping
windfall profits from the transfer of public, federal, and state
lands to private hands. The so-called land-grabbing scheme includes
Native American land and national forest lands in the Rocky
Mountains, Texas, California, Mississippi and Florida. He claims ex-president
George H.W. Bush has a vested financial interest in such land title
companies. Madsen also writes that the land scheme may be at the
center the Jack Abramoff scandal. Abramoff, who is now in jail, was
a GOP lobbyist. He led a conspiracy to privatize federal lands and
assets to benefit his clients. The report also tells of
accusations against the Bush administration for ordering forest wildfires be
set, then selling damaged lands to private interests.
Read the report:
New Mexico study backs state park for sacred site
Navajo Reservation, New Mexico: New Mexico State Parks has completed
a $15,000 study on a potential state park at Shiprock Peak, a sacred
Navajo site. The state Indian Affairs Committee authorized the
study. Supporters want to protect the 1,800-foot peak, known as Tse'
Bit' Ai in the Navajo language. The study recommends a partnership
with the Navajo Nation to develop the park, which would join 13
state, tribal and national parks already in the Shiprock area.
Mohegan gaming net income drops 89 percent from last year
Mohegan Reservation, Connecticut: Bruce Bozsum, Mohegan tribe
chairman, says the third quarter profits for Mohegan Tribal Gaming
Authority was down 89% from the same period the last year. Their
profits dropped from $45,000,000 in 2007 to $5,000 in 2008, a drop
from $45 million to $5 million. Bozsum said the New England market
has some of the highest gas and energy costs in the nation. That
influences how much gamblers are bringing to the table.
COPS Office Awards $14.9 Million in Grants to Native-American Law
Washington D.C.: The COPS Tribal Resources Grant Program has awarded
$14,900,000 to 80 tribal police departments and governments in 22
states. The funds support efforts to reduce crime and disorder. They
are also used to add or enhance services that tribal police
provide. "Tribal police departments are an important part of the
nation's law enforcement network, and it is vital that they have the
resources to do their jobs," said Attorney General Michael B.
Mukasey. "These grants will help ensure that tribes are better
prepared to fight crime and to protect their communities."
Villagers can't kick soda pop habit
Alaska: Years ago, Alaska's Native health officials declared war on
sugary soda pop in rural towns and villages. Sadly, pop is still
"Baby teeth are rotting out. That's unthinkable in western society,"
said tribal health consortium chief executive Don Kashevaroff.
Troy Ritter from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium agrees. "I couldn't imagine that it was even worse than it is
today," said . "When I go to the village store, sometimes there's not
a lot there, but you always have soda pop." However, it's not soda
that's to blame but the lack of clear-and-clean drinking water. In
hundreds of communities, fewer than 10% of homes have running water.
"Many of the villages that have highest soda pop consumption --
probably the majority -- don't have running water. Or if they do
have running water, it's not drinkable," said state Rep. Mary
Nelson, D-Bethel. "It looks like chicken soup broth when it comes
out of my faucet. I don't even like to take a shower in it."
Several years ago, the Alaska Native Health Board sent letters to
schools and stores asking them to help curb consumption.
Nearly 33% of Native toddlers in some rural areas have two or more
cups of sugary drinks each day. That compares with only 3% percent
of toddlers in the rest of the state. Adults drink about three
times as much pop a day as adults in large cities.
In many cases pop is more affordable than bottled water;
Even if water is free or cheap, that doesn't mean people want to
The lack of safe water and high milk prices (nearly $10.00 a gallon)
forces mothers to feed their babies Coca-Cola.
Youth cultural restoration tour kicks off
A group of music-minded Natives from urban areas is on a nationwide
tour to promote healthy living and wellness among Native youth. 'We
want to inspire our Native youth to embrace their cultural
principles and values and motivate them to get involved with their
communities,'' said Hector Perez-Pacheco, a spokesman for The
Awakening the Warrior Spirit Tour. ''Our goal is to educate,
entertain, inspire and unify the masses.'' Based out of Los Angeles,
the musicians have also reached out to talented individuals across
the country. The music ranges from hip hop and reggae to
traditional, and the musicians come from many heritages
including Lakota, Navajo, Apache and Central and South American. Perez-Pacheco,
a Quecha from South
America, believes that the sense of isolation and lack of direction
leads many Native youth to drug abuse and suicide. "Too many of our
young people have gotten away from some of our traditional ways of
teaching,'' he said. ''And we think that has caused many problems.''
Awakening the Warrior Spirit Tour video:
Indians' Water Rights Give Hope for Better Health
Arizona: More than a hundred years ago, the Gila River was siphoned
off by upstream farmers to irrigate their land. The Gila River
Indian Reservation dried up, and the Indian community was plunged
into starvation and poverty. If that was not bad enough, food
rations sent by the federal government -- white flour, lard, canned
meats and sugary, processed foods -- were not compatible with
Indians' genetics. Now tribal members have an obesity epidemic and,
quite possibly, the highest diabetes rate in the world. Now, after
decades of litigation, the Gila River Reservation will finally get
back some of its water. While tribal members hope this will help
restore a healthier lifestyle for their people. they also worry that
reviving traditional farming will prove difficult -- the tribes
have not practiced big scale farming for many generations. "We’re
relearning how to grow [our traditional foods],” said Ed Mendoza, a
founder of the Vah-Ki Cooperative Garden. “People get sick with
diabetes, they’re obese, and there are heart attacks and stress
because we eat an American diet now. Beans regulate the highs and
lows of sugar. Okra makes you healthy. You can eat this food and
feel the spirit immediately.” The Gila River reservation is home to
the Maricopa, the Pima, who call themselves the Akimel O’odham or
“river people,” and the Tohono O’odham Nation on the Mexican border.
The tribes have 20,000 member. 12,000 still live on the
Navajo Healers, Sand Paintings Keep Tribal Traditions Alive
Navajo Reservation, Arizona: Sacred ceremonies are essential in
keeping the Navajo Way.
Ceremonies are performed for many reasons,
things remain constant: the rhythmic prayer-chants and the
creation of precise sand paintings.
Elaborate sand paintings are
part of the Navajo
Way's emphasis on balance and harmony. Made from
colored sand, sand paintings images vary
according to ceremony.
Included in the designs
are sacred Navajo images. Those paintings
used in ceremony are closely guarded and
ceremony ends. But Navajos may also create and sell permanent sand
paintings as long as sacred imagery is not included. Today, many
worry that the traditional sand paintings will be lost over time.
300,000 people live on the Navajo Reservation, but only a handful
are trained medicine men or women. Due to the lack of healers, some
obscure ceremonies have become extinct, "but there are still enough
medicine people on the reservation to perform the four major
ceremonies" said Robert Johnson, a cultural specialist at the Navajo
Nation Museum. To reverse the trend, tribal elders created an
apprenticeship program that recruits young Navajo to become
traditional healers. Navajo "hataa'lii" (medicine people) serve as
both healers and historians with a deep knowledge of Navajo
traditions and mythology. While some apprentices have become
full-fledged medicine people, there is a great need for more. "Many
youngsters are moving away from the reservation to pursue jobs and
college degrees," Johnson said. "They move to cities and border
towns to achieve the American dream of career success and home
Indigenous Herders and Small Farmers Fight Livestock Extinction
The industrial production of livestock is destroying animal
diversity. At least one indigenous livestock breed becomes extinct
each month because of breeds are imported from the U.S. and Europe.
A study by the United Nations, “The State of the World’s Animal
Genetic Resources” identifies 2,000 local breeds as at risk.
Scientists are calling for the rapid establishment of gene banks to
conserve the sperm and ovaries of those animals who are almost
extinct. Over the past six years, a database called the Domestic
Animal Genetic Resources Information System, has been created. It
contains information on the distribution, characteristics, and
statuses of 669 breeds of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens
indigenous to Africa and Asia.
Read “The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources”
Domestic Animal Genetic Resources Information System:
Foundation awards a chance to preserve Native Hawaiian plants
Hawaii: The Hawaii Community Foundation has awarded $105,000
dollars to The University of Hawai'i's 193-acre Lyon Arboretum. The
Lyon Arboretum is a tropical rainforest that houses many rare and
culturally significant native Hawaiian plants. It also collects and
stores various seeds to help preserve many endangered plant species
from extinction. "This support will enable us to augment the work we
are already doing to aid the recovery of rare species in Hawai'i,"
said research scientist Nellie Sugii. The funds will target plant
species used by native Hawaiians for food and drink, medicines,
clothing, tools and warfare. Some plants targeted for conservation
are the `ie`ie, alahe'e, loulu, kauila, mâmane, and koa.