Radiation Warning Signs Placed on Cheyenne River
South Dakota: Radiation warning signs were posted on the Pine Ridge Reservation after high nuclear radiation levels were found in the Cheyenne River and some Red Shirt Village wells. While a DENR report claims the uranium is naturally occurring, the founder and Coordinator of Defenders of the Black Hills disagrees. “If that was the case, there would not have been villages there for thousands of years," said Charmaine White-Face.  "There would have been no fish or any aquatic life previously in this river. We sampled the river with nets for aquatic life and found only 2 crayfish and about 10 minnows in more than 100 yards of the river. In essence, it's a dead river." This portion of the river basin drains about 16,500 square miles, including the Black Hills and Badlands, rangeland, irrigated cropland, and mining areas. It wanders through half the state before flowing into Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River.   Two endangered species, the Sturgeon chubb and the Bald Eagle, depend on river waters.
Defenders of the Black Hills: http://www.defendblackhills.org 

Disney rides into trouble with story of cowboy who conquers the Middle East
"Pony baloney," one critic has called it. "Liar, liar, chaps on fire," intoned another.   Historians, Native Americans and Arab and Muslim interest groups are angry with Disney studios for promoting their new movie, Hildago, as a true story. The movie tells a story of Frank Hopkins, a Lakota/white cowboy, racing his horse Hildago 3,000 miles across the Arabian Desert.   But research by more than 70 academics and experts has found no evidence to support that Frank Hopkins was a cowboy, part Lakota, or even a horseracer. As for the race, called Oceans of Fire, an Arab newspaper said a race of that length would finish up "somewhere in Romania."  "The idea of a historic trans-Arabian horse race ever having been run is pure nonsense ... simply from a technical, logistical, cultural and geopolitical point of view," said Awad al-Bad. Even Nina Heyn, a Disney executive, was quoted last year as saying that "no one here really cares about the historical aspects," a line the company has not repeated. However, Disney Studios is still claiming the movie is based on a true story.  Some believe its's because the studio must protect its investment of over  $80,000,000 in production costs.

Roubideaux Named "Indian Physician of the Year"
Dr. Yvette D. Roubideaux has been named “Indian Physician of the Year” by the Association of American Indian Physicians. The Rosebud Lakota doctor has done extensive work with diabetes patients. She helped develop the “Controlling Your Diabetes For Life” campaign, as well as the “Move It” program for Native youth. Yvette also worked to secure a grants for AAIP’s Diabetes Program. She is currently working in the INMED program at the University of Arizona and provides guidance and counseling to Native students pursuing degrees in health.  “I am honored to receive the Indian Physician of the Year Award from AAIP because this organization was an important source of support and inspiration for me as a student, and is now an important resource and network of support for me in my current career activities. I hope to continue to support the activities for AAIP in the future,” Roubideaux said.

Saving dying dialects
The Siceca Learning Center is a Dakota language immersion program housed at Sisseton Wahpeton College. "The immersion program grew out of the desire of the Dakota people to do something to preserve the Dakota language, " said Bill Lonefight, president of the college.  At Siceca,  Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate elders  help students and caregivers correctly say the words. They also help translate books and songs into Dakota. "Dakota language is so deep it comes from the heart," said elder Orsen Bernard. "Whatever I say in Dakota, it has a deeper meaning because that's the way the Dakota language is." Lonefight said another reason Sisseton-Wahpeton is getting involved is that research proves bilingual children use more areas of their brains "They do better in school. They have increased higher order of thinking skills. They are able to make connections," Lonefight said.  "It's a little odd that at the same time schools were pressing children to learn Spanish, French, Japanese and Russian they were pressing the other way to extinguish the Dakota, the Cherokee, the Muskogee and Lakota (languages)."  Less than 10% of tribal population speaks Dakota; most are over age 60.  

Plant a traditional-foods garden
North Dakota: This year, Aubry Skye, Lakota, will help plant 32 gardens around the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The gardening project began five years ago when community members decided they wanted a holistic way to prevent and control diabetes. They put in their first plot near the reservation's high school to catch the attention of the youngsters and inspire them to eat more vegetables and fewer commodity foods.  "Gardening is an excellent way to improve health, especially for people with diabetes,'' said Skye. ''We Native people are blessed with the ability to lower blood sugar levels quickly with exercise. Gardening offers both functional exercise and high-quality, culturally appropriate nutrition - another key to wellness.'' 
Skye's suggestions for reaping an abundance of fresh, healthy food:
Obtain heirloom seeds saved by members of your own community. Also check out Native Seeds/SEARCH (www.nativeseeds.org), which offers indigenous farmers free heirloom seeds, Horizon Herbs (www.horizonherbs.com),  and Seeds of Change (www.seedsofchange.com.);
Build a raised-bed garden in a spot that receives about six hours of sun a day;
Plant your seeds following directions from the seed packets, your tribal gardening program, your local extension service, a garden center or an experienced gardener. Store extra seeds in a cool dry place to use next year;
Mulch the soil to prevent weeds and conserve moisture;
Welcome bugs.  Put in flowers to draw bees and other pollinators, and rely on beneficial insects, such as praying mantises, to eat pests;
Irrigate: Take 2-liter plastic soda bottles, poke holes in the neck, fill with water, and insert upside down into the soil near groups of plants.
Use Organic fertilizer such as composted manure or fish emulsion;
Make compost from garden cuttings, grass clippings, leavens and kitchen scraps (vegetables, fruits, and eggshells only.) 
Each week, mix the heap and dampen it. The compost is ready when it's black and crumbly

Wounded Knee '73 revisited
People's Weekly World.
South Dakota: On Feb. 27, 1973, a handful of American Indians took over a church to protest racism and corruption in the Oglala Sioux government. Traditional Oglala people claimed they were ignored, and some were afraid to go into town (Pine Ridge village) for essential items such as food. That's when Severt Young Bear, Lakota elder, called in the American Indian Movement, and traditional people and AIM members stood together in a standoff that attracted the media and gathered nationwide support. The events brought thousands of protesters to the area. Arrests were made and buildings burned. The demonstrations spilled over to the Pine Ridge Reservation,  the occupation of Wounded Knee began, and a a 71-day war took place.  A new documentary film, ''A Tattoo on My Heart,'' presents the warriors' point of view through actual film footage from the occupation and contemporary interviews. The film tells their story and their feelings about their stand against the most powerful military in the world -- and how they became heroes.

Doctor Brings 'Coyote Wisdom' To Town
New Mexico: Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona says modern medicine can be wonderful. "The medical model is great if you're in congestive heart failure and you are dying. It's a wonderful model; it works," he said. "Once you're out of congestive heart failure, it doesn't work so well because it doesn't explore all the factors that are needed to prevent that next episode from happening sooner than later." Mehl-Madrona believes indigenous healing traditions could help people with chronic ailments truly heal -- not just temporarily relieve their symptoms or pull them out of crisis.  Lewis, who has Cherokee and Lakota heritage, wasn't really aware of the richness of his culture until he got to medical school. "What really struck me (at medical school) was the absence of healing, the complete biological genetic determinism that wasn't at all what I grew up with,"  he said. "I grew up in a world in which spiritual powers healed people and people got better by virtue of their own actions in the world, or the spirits' actions." After graduating from Stanford Medical School at the age of 21, Mehl-Madrona has devoted his career to integrating what he calls Western and Indigenous science. Mehl-Madrona has written three books about his work: Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, and, Coyote Wisdom: The Power of Story in Healing.

Jane Goodall visits school on Pine Ridge Reservation
South Dakota: Jane Goodall recently visited science classes at Red Cloud and Porcupine schools on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Goodall, who is an author and primate researcher at Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research Center in Africa, spoke to students about the need to conserve the environment. She also asked them to continue fostering their Lakota culture and beliefs and to become leaders who make a difference in the world.

Mold session suggests fixes
South Dakota: Representatives from five South Dakota reservations recently attended sessions to learn ways of dealing with a growing problem in reservation housing: mold and moisture. On the Pine Ridge reservation alone, 73% of 1,700 housing units contain mold. Mold, which grows in a moist environment, causes severe health problems, including respiratory and other chronic illnesses.  "Fifteen years ago, we didn't have mold. The problems came from houses wrapped so tight that they couldn't breathe," said Ric Palmier of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Housing Authority. "Basically, it's a moisture problem that needs to be dealt with by the housing authority, tenants and Housing and Urban Development." According to officials, there are approaches to treating mold and preventing it before it begins to grow:
-- Remove mold with soap and water.
-- Check occupancy. Too many people or creatures living in a small space leads to a higher degree of moisture.
-- Immediately check for and repair water and plumbing leaks.
-- Keep cold air exchanges open and avoid blocking bathroom fans or range fans.
-- Use fans while using showers, bathtubs and while cooking.
-- Clothes dryers should be properly vented outdoors.
Other contributors to creating moisture problems include a large number of fish aquariums, an overabundance of indoor plants, constant steaming tea kettles and soup pots and drying clothing indoors.

Tribes And Forest Service Discuss Sacred Sites
South Dakota: In February, tribal leaders, elders and members met with National Forest Service officials to begin forming an advisory group to define and protect sacred sites.  Three words from the Forest Service described the intent of the conference: collaboration, communication and coordination.  "We want to put more emphasis on tribal relations," said Brad Exton from the Black Hills National Forest.  "We want to continue -- working with tribes in many areas.  It's your ancestors that were in the Black Hills.  We are working on partnerships to see how we can make the Black Hills for everyone."  At an earlier meeting, Alex White Plume, Oglala Sioux, told a group of park officials that the Lakota people no longer visit the Black Hills because of what they have become.  But the healing process is taking place, and the people will once again return to the sacred hills for ceremony and biological and spiritual nurturing. The Black Hills is claimed as ancestral lands by some 22 different tribes.

Digging in Folklore, Unearthing Science
Adrienne Mayor's new book--a combination of history, archaeology, folklore and detective work--is the first scholarly attempt to focus on Native American contributions to paleontology.  Mayor documented the oral traditions of many Indians about their historical knowledge of fossils. "In Pine Ridge, SD, I knocked on the door of Johnson Holy Rock," she recalled, referring to an 87-year-old Lakota historian. "...He recalled an old story about warriors watching thunder in the valley and finding the carcass of a creature they'd never seen before, a gigantic rhinoceros-like beast." The Comanche people in Oklahoma, she said, told stories about grandmothers' sending them out to find the bones of monsters. They would then grind the bone into a powder for medicine and, when mixed with water, to help set bones.  Ms. Mayor said she was mostly surprised and delighted by the interest in her work. In August the History Channel plans to broadcast a show about the first fossil hunters, based on her first book.  "I think she is very courageous to take on the archaeological and anthropological establishment," said Vine Deloria Jr., a leading Native American scholar. "From our correspondence, I feel it will be a well-researched book asking piercing questions."  Ms. Mayor's new book, "Fossil Legends of the First Americans," will be published by Princeton next spring.

Project Moccasins gives Native soldiers comfort, tie to culture
Minnesota: Project Moccasins aims to give a free pair of moccasins to every Native soldier overseas and those returning home from overseas deployment.  "I spent seven years in the Special Forces, and I was disconnected from my heritage," says Anthony DeClue, a 38-year-old Lakota Native Veteran. "I want the warriors over there to feel connected. When they take off their boots and put their feet in the moccasins, they might feel a little closer to where they are from."  DeClue threads up the moccasins, then sends them on to a leatherworker who stamps on eagle feathers and returns it for painting. The moccasins are smudged before DeClue puts in a "piece of Mother Earth so that our warriors will come home." Each pair of moccasins is sent with a little dreamcatcher. DeClue estimates he has 300 requests to fill, and "we are doing it until all the Natives come home and everyone has one."  DeClue and his friends perform this service free-of charge

Buffalo to be moved from Catalina Island to South Dakota
California: Nearly half the buffalo herd that runs free on Santa Catalina Island will be rounded up and shipped to a Lakota reservation in South Dakota next month. The move will return  the animals to their ancestral home and easing ecological pressure on the island.  The island's buffalo, descendants of 14 brought there for a movie in the 1920s, are a favorite with tourists and island residents.  But since 1972, some have been removed every few years to keep the herd from growing so large that island plants are ravaged and the buffalo begin to starve. Currently, about 250 buffalo live on the island.

Indian educator asks Congress for help
Washington DC:  Ryan Wilson (Oglala Lakota) made a plea to Congress to recognize and help solve the problems facing Indian youth. Wilson, who heads the National Indian Education Association, began his address with a history lesson:  In 1969, Congress requested a study of the learning conditions in Indian Country. The study, named  “Indian Education: A National Tragedy - A National Challenge, " was a “stinging critique,” Wilson said. “We ranked at the bottom of every social, health, economic, and yes, education indicator in America.”  Fast-forward 37 years, he says, and things have not improved much.  “The conscience of America can never be clear, the state of American education can never be strong, so long as Indian Country lives on a lonely island of educational poverty, amidst of vast ocean of wealth and educational opportunity for all Americans, except the first Americans,” Wilson said.

National Statistics:
American Indian and Alaska Native children are:
300% more likely to live in poverty than white children;
More than 200% likely to commit suicide;
200% more likely to die in a car accident, because reservation roads are the most dangerous in the country.
Wilson's commendations:
Tribal colleges have produced more Native graduates in the last 30 years than all mainstream universities combined;
Thousands of Native children have graduated from Indian Head Start programs and are doing remarkably better than youth who didn't attend.
Wilson requested from Congress:
Convene an Indian education summit;
Help tribal language movements;
Create greater teacher support;
More flexibility and acknowledgment of the unique contexts of Native schools;
Data collection and research with culturally appropriate design models and methodologies;
Re-authorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
Increase and include input from Native leaders when Congress debates the No Child Left Behind Act.

Pine Ridge treatment program saved
On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, The Flowering Tree program for women and their children had closed for three months because of funding problems.  But thanks to Sen. Tom Daschle’s office, it has found new life.  Flowering Tree, which had been promised $300,000 by October 1, was surprised by an additional $200,000.  "The staff said they would kiss [Daschle] if he got close," said Illa Red Owl, acting director. "He and his wife have seen the program and know the work we do. When Daschle added that $200,000 to the grant it made us jump for joy."  The program has been honored throughout Indian country. Many tribes come to Pine Ridge to learn how it works. People from foreign countries have also studied the program which includes:
Alcohol and drug treatment program for women; 
Parenting skills program; 
 GED help;
Drug and alcohol abuse counseling; 
Nutritionist and Health assistance;
Classes in household management, bill paying and personal finances;
Children's daycare.
At the heart of Flowering Tree--and the secret of its success--is the spiritual and cultural education the women and children receive.  It uses  Lakota Culturalal  traditions as the basis for treatment and family values. Since its inception in 1992, Flowering Tree has graduated more than 400 women and their families from the program. Many have since moved on to find meaningful jobs and have remained alcohol and drug free.

Euro Leaders Support Native American Olympic Inclusion
Switzerland and Colorado: The International Olympic Committee is championing Native American inclusion as Sovereign Nations in future Olympic Games. Only one Native American, Naomi Lang (Cal Karuk Tribe), has competed in the last two Games, and only a handful in history. Yet a group of world Olympians at the Athens Games honored the American Indians for inventing the roots of 10 Olympic sports. Following the IOC Eco recommendation to include Indigenous Peoples in the Olympics, the First Nations of Canada received a $3,000,000 Legacy Fund  to train a team of Snowboarders.  With the IOC's opening their doors to welcome American Indian Nations into the Olympic Family, Native youth can have the opportunity and motivation to train for international competition in some of the sports they invented.
Among those promoting and initiation action are:

Stew Young-- Native American Ski Team and World Cup speed skier;
Suzy Chaffee, Olympic ski champ;
Jean Marie Fournier, owner of the Veysonnaz Swiss Ski Resort,
Princess Caroline Murat, world-renowned pianist inspired by a Ute Chief in Aspen, and the closest descendent of Napoleon;
Francoise Zweifel, former Secretary General of the IOC;
Princess Lea of Belgium;
Olympian Prince Albert of Monaco (adopted by Lakota-Sioux Tribe);
The Guinness's, the most ancient tribe of Ireland;
Aaron Marchant of the Squamish Nation;
Jacques Rogge;
Princess Caroline, Monaco;
Oren Lyons, Chief of the Onondaga Nation;
Billy Kidd (Abenaki), captain of the Native American Ski Team and 1964 Alpine Silver Medalist.

Chief Dull Knife Chief Little Wolf
South Dakota: Something magical happened in the Black Hills during the recent Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run. One young Northern Cheyenne runner accidentally dropped the sacred eagle feather staff that had been carried by hand for hundreds of miles.  Phillip Whiteman Jr., the relay- run's founder, picked it up and said a prayer. When he looked overhead, he saw two eagles circling and screeching.  Not far away, he saw a buffalo.  He took this as a message.  "The Cheyenne are known as the buffalo people," Whiteman said.  This year, a record 120 runners participated in the Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run.  The runners were accompanied by a fleet of  vans, chaperones and supporters who met cheering spectators along the way.  Before the run and along the way, leaders and participants prayed, told their ancestors' story and focused on team-building, communication, unity, discipline  and honor.  "It's planting seeds," Whiteman said. The annual run remembers the Cheyenne who broke out of  their wooden barracks and escaped from Nebraska's Fort Robinson in 1879.  At that time, Dull Knife and Little Wolf decided to lead 300  tribal members from Oklahoma, where they were dying, to their ancestral land in Montana. (Those who remained behind are known today as Southern Cheyenne.) When the marchers reached Nebraska, , they split into two bands.  Little Wolf led the healthy to Montana; Dull Knife took the sick and weak and seek help from the Lakota tribe.  The U.S.  Cavalry caught Dull Knife's band and took them to Fort  Robinson.  That winter, troops locked the Cheyenne's in the barracks without food, water or heat.  After five days, they decided to break out.  On Jan.  9, 1879, the band fled the barracks, and a bloody gun battle ensued.  Most of the band was killed within minutes; many survivors were later killed by U.S.  soldiers.  But Dull Knife and a few others survived and embarked on a long, difficult journey to the north.  Among the comments by this year's Spiritual Runners:
What was the hardest part?   "Running up the hills," said Brandi Nightwalker, 7
"It means a lot to do it for our ancestors,"  said Shann Wolfname, 17

Teen scientists fight noxious weeds holistically
North Dakota: In Porcupine, nine high school students have a mission: to get rid of leafy spurge, a fast-spreading weed that causes millions of dollars in damage to grazing and agricultural land.  Under the supervision of Gary Halvorson from Sitting Bull College, students are identifying Porcupine's plant composition while checking on the progress of previously released flea beetles.  Flea beetles, whose root-eating larvae are an environmentally safe way to attack the weed, is a sharp contrast to government methods, which include spraying powerful herbicides across their town.  ''Nothing's growing in sprayed areas,'' said Monica Skye. ''How can it be an improvement to kill everything for years? The chokecherries were a food source. And what about the children? Those must have been very dangerous chemicals.''  In addition to doing plant population studies, the students are capturing flea beetles and releasing where leafy spurge has newly appeared.  "We keep track of the treated areas with a GPS so we can go back and re-evaluate them,'' said Dee Paint, Lakota. ''We run the numbers through the computer, then make comparisons over time.''  In addition to applauding the teen scientists' work, Porcupine hopes to stake out angora goats in infested areas. The goats will consume the high-protein leafy spurge, which causes their valuable coats to grow, providing raw material for yarn.

Harvard to honor Rosebud alumnus
Massachusetts: Archie Beauvais will be honored by Harvard University Graduate School of Education during its 2006 Alumni of Color Award. Beauvais, who lives on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, was selected for his work and achievements that reflect "Growth, strength and action: honoring our commitment to communities and Individuals of color."   Beauvais, the only Sicangu Lakota with doctoral level credentials from Harvard, has worked for 20 years as Dean and Chairman for Sinte Gleska University Graduate Studies.

Soul Wound: The Legacy of Native American Schools
More than 100,000 Native Americans were forced by the U.S. government to attend Christian schools.  The system, which began in 1869,  continued well into the 20th century.  Some were forced to enroll in reservation Christian day schools. Others, some as young as 5,  were forcibly shipped off to Christian boarding schools.  There, the youth were separated from their families for most of the year, sometimes without a single family visit.  Parents caught trying to hide their children lost food rations. Virtually imprisoned in the schools, children experienced devastating abuses, from forced assimilation and grueling labor to widespread sexual and physical abuse. “Native America knows all too well the reality of the boarding schools,” writes Native American Bar Association President Richard Monette, who attended a North Dakota boarding school.  In sharing his experiences, Monette said boarding school was a place:
"Where the fine art of standing in line single-file for hours without moving a hair, as a lesson in discipline;
"Where where our best and brightest earned graduation certificates for homemaking and masonry;
"Where the sharp rules of immaculate living were instilled through blistered hands and knees on the floor with scouring toothbrushes;
"Where mouths were scrubbed with lye and chlorine solutions for uttering Native words.”
To help residential school students, Sammy Toineeta (Lakota) helped found the national Boarding School Healing Project to document such abuses.  “Human rights activists must talk about the issue of boarding schools,” says Toineeta.  “It is one of the grossest human rights violations because it targeted children and was the tool for perpetrating cultural genocide.  To ignore this issue would be to ignore the human rights of indigenous peoples, not only in the U.S., but around the world.”

Wear feather and plumes for graduation
Ryan Wilson has a message for Native American graduates: Don't be afraid to display your cultural identity when you get that diploma. Wilson, who heads the National Indian Education Association, worries about "misguided administrators" opposed to students wearing plumes and eagle feathers on their caps and gowns. Among recent examples:
A Blackfeet girl from Oregon had eagle plumes physically ripped from her graduation cap;
A Navajo in Oklahoma was not permitted to wear an eagle plume to her commencement.
A Cherokee student in Maryland was prevented from receiving his diploma after wearing a bolo tie to graduation.
"This is a phenomenon that is occurring in graduation ceremonies throughout America," said Wilson, who is Oglala Lakota.  He said officials limit what students wear to prevent them from "making a mockery out of the cap and gown. Unfortunately, Native American students who wish to honor the graduation event and their academic experience are punished by schools because of the acts of their non-Indian counterparts."  Wilson says students should defy the rules and don them anyway. "The [NIEA] not only supports this, but we encourage it, even if it's in defiance of ill-conceived school district policies," he said.  "When Native students wear these feathers and plumes, they are actually honoring and blessing the cap/mortar board and gown, the graduation ceremony itself, their classmates, and the schools in which they are graduating from.  This is completely opposite of what mainstream students do when they are mocking the event by writing on the mortar board, wearing inappropriate clothes and shoes.  The symbolism itself of honoring both cultures, and elevating the status of academic attire by being willing to attach our plumes and feathers to the cap and gown completes the commitment of Native peoples to advance cultural integrity in education."

The Council for Opportunity in Education has named Richard B. Williams, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, as a National TRIO Achiever. "Williams was chosen for the award by the National TRIO Achievers Committee because of the extraordinary circumstances he faced as a low-income, first generation American Indian student and for his tremendous contributions to educational opportunity for American Indians and all Americans," said Tressa Penrod of TRIO.   Williams, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, has served as president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund since October 1997

Native American asthma radio public service announcements
  ORIA is airing Native American asthma public service announcements on some 5,000 radio stations nationwide.  The ads feature the voices of Native American children in three native languages, Navajo, Lakota and Anishinaabe, along with English.  The ads are designed to raise awareness and promote ways to  prevent asthma attacks among children.  The rate of asthma among Native Americans is nearly 12%, much higher than other single-race groups.

american_indians_news_source_tulanappes_list] Digest Number 1693

Oglala Lakota College campus will be tobacco-free
South Dakota: On January 1, Oglala Lakota College will become a tobacco-free campus. Each college center and the Piya Wiconi Administrative Headquarters will prohibit the use of all tobacco products. It does not, however, affect sacred use of traditional tobacco. The Board of Trustees "wanted to send a message to our students, staff, and reservation citizens of its great concern that tobacco use causes major health problems with Indian people," said OLC president, Thomas Shortbull.


Youth spur on Big Foot Ride
Tribal Lands, South Dakota: In December, 44 riders began the Big Foot Memorial ride, a 300-mile journey dedicated to the Lakota ancestors who died in the Wounded Knee Massacre.  Along the way, other riders joined in until they numbered 200. “Riding for two weeks isn't easy,” said Donaven Yellow, 15. “A lot of my friends made the same commitment. It gets really cold. You've just got to ride it out.  A couple of times, I didn't feel my toes. And my legs were shaking. I had a Gatorade in my pocket. I tried to take a drink, but it was frozen solid after a couple of hours. I was really thirsty that day, and I wasn't warm enough to keep it thawed out.” The Big Foot Memorial Ride began in 1986 after several men from different tribal communities shared a vision to honor the ancestors killed in the December 29, 1890 Wounded Knee massacre. More than 350 unarmed men, women and children following Chief Big Foot from the Cheyenne River Reservation were shot down as they journeyed to safety on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Today, the memories of those killed are honored as horseback riders retrace the trail of the slain Lakota.  “For many youth, it has become a rite of passage," said Ron His Horse is Thunder, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. " It's good that they do. It teaches them fortitude, to go forward without complaining. It's so much a part of who we are.”


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."


Buffalo Requiem: Indian ceremony honors slaughtered bison
South Dakota: Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse visited Yellowstone National park to pray for the spirits of more than 1,600 bison shipped to slaughter this winter by the U.S. government.  "We're here to do something very special," said Looking Horse. "We're here to do what we can to preserve the buffalo and the Earth."  Nearly 33% of Yellowstone's wild bison have been killed through the Interagency Bison Management Plan run by Montana and the federal government. The BMP plan is supposed to protect cattle from the brucellosis virus.  However, there are no documented cases of wild bison passing on the disease. A report by Congress's Accountability Office criticizes the plan as lacking "clearly defined, measurable objectives."  Since the report's release, bison advocates have stepped up their call for a change. "I think everyone is starting to see there's a better solution," said Mike Mease, co founder of the Buffalo Field Campaign. "We're ready for change." Tens of million of buffalo used to roam the Americas.  Now, only a few thousand remain. They live in Yellowstone.  Since 2000, when BMP was put into place, almost 3,000 bison have been killed, mostly through slaughter.
Video of Releasing of the Spirits Ceremony: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org



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