Native Village Youth and Education News
October 1, 2008 Issue 190 Volume 3


“Indian Landscape” Ca. 1971
Wayne Pushetona,

 "A lot of folks don't realize that Indians still exist in their ancestral homelands east of the Mississippi. That's really the product of an educational system that essentially taught a version of history that excluded who we are. There was a method to that madness -- it didn't happen accidentally. It happened because those folks who approved textbooks and the curriculum of the schools told it their way. The fact that people in [Virginia] didn't realize we existed wasn't happenstance. It was all part of a systematic process to disallow American Indians' existence." 
                                  Stephen Adkins, Chickahominy



 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 -- Cheyenne River, 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 Location of Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, South Dakotahow the traditions and culture are still alive here."  Nunez spoke about Venezuela's programs and plans to benefit its indigenous communities. 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 filmmaker.

Report: Bush family cleaning up on transfer of public lands to private hands
 Wayne Madsen is an investigative journalist from Washington, DC.  Madsen often appears as a commentator on NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, CNN, and other news 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 Enforcement Agencies
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.",520865.shtml

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 winning. "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 drink it;
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 reservation.

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, but two 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 immediately destroyed when 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 ownership."

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.

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