A campaigner for indigenous rights in Mexico has been found dead a day after he was kidnapped. Jose Trinidad de la Cruz's body, which showed signs of torture and had four bullet wounds, was found on Wednesday in the western state of Michoacan. The Nahua indigenous leader, known as Don Trino, was kidnapped on his way to a meeting with other indigenous people. The region where he was abducted has seen 27 people murdered over a land dispute since 2009.
Earlier this month, I wrote a piece here at The Atlantic about the ways in which the three branches of federal government this year have handled matters of great importance to American Indians. I criticized the Senate-- and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn in particular-- for failing to act on the judicial nomination of worthy native American candidate Arvo Mikkanen. I blasted the Supreme Court for its failure to protect Native American interests in a trust case. And I chided the Obama Administration for focusing upon eagle feathers when there are so many other pressing issues of interest to the tribes. I must have struck a nerve because within a day or so of posting the piece I had heard directly from three different tribunes within the Administration, each of whom wrote to suggest to me that I had been too harsh in my criticism of executive branch policy toward Native Americans.
A special program to help Native Americans stop smoking will be held in Lincoln and Omaha. The University of Kansas Medical Center is offering the eight-week program and has openings for 32 Native Americans ages 18 and older. Participants will be given health information as well as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges. Support sessions will be held. In cases of severe cravings and withdrawal symptoms, free medication will be available. One portion of the group will participate in a program designed for Native Americans, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. The remainder will follow a program that uses the current best practices. Experts will study the results and evaluate the value of a culturally tailored smoking cessation program versus a non-tailored program.
The Tohono Indian Nation in south central Arizona is turning to old tribal ways to solve a modern health problem. Over the past several decades, Type 2 diabetes has exploded on the Tohono O’odham reservation, striking half of the adults living there. That’s compared to an 8.3 percent rate among adults in the U.S. overall, according to government estimates. The diabetes rate among the Tohono O'odham tribe has skyrocketed along with with changes in their diet, Becenti and others suspect. Instead of a traditional menu of tepary beans, cholla buds, prickly pear cactus, saguaro fruit, squash and corn -- all native to the southwestern U.S. -- Tohonos now tend to eat a typical American diet: processed and junk foods laden with carbohydrates, salt and fat.
For centuries, American Indian tribes have banished people as punishment for serious offenses. But only in recent years, experts say, have they begun routinely disenrolling Indians deemed inauthentic members of a group. And California, with dozens of tiny tribes that were decimated, scattered and then reconstituted, often out of ethnically mixed Indians, is the national hotbed of the trend. Clan rivalries and political squabbles are often triggers for disenrollment, but critics say one factor above all has driven the trend: casino gambling. The state has more than 60 Indian casinos that took in nearly $7 billion last year, the most of any state, according to the Indian Gaming Commission.
Montana State University says one of its graduates has been named the head of the new White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.The university says William Mendoza will lead the initiative created by an executive order signed by President Barack Obama this month. It is aimed at expanding educational opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Mendoza had been the acting director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.
On the day after Christmas last year, a drunken Roman Cavanaugh Jr. beat up his 11- and 12-year-old sons, punching both in the face. The older boy was hit so hard he couldn't speak for a full day because his jaw was swollen shut. At the time, Cavanaugh was a free man on North Dakota's Spirit Lake Indian Reservation, even though he had three convictions in tribal court for domestic violence. Had he been charged for those crimes off the reservation, he probably would have been in prison. Despite a well-known epidemic of domestic violence on American Indian reservations, federal authorities have long been stymied in their pursuit of abusive parents and spouses. That may change if recent rulings in Cavanaugh's case and a similar matter are upheld, allowing U.S attorneys to act instead of watching abuse convictions pile up at the tribal level.
The Supreme Court will decide whether a lawsuit attempting to shut down a new tribal casino in southwestern Michigan can move forward. The justices on Monday agreed to hear from the government and the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe. The tribe opened a casino earlier this year in Wayland Township, 20 miles south of Grand Rapids. But casino foe David Patchak sued to close the casino down, challenging how the government placed the land in trust for the tribe. A federal judge threw out his lawsuit, but the U.S. Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit said it could move forward.
President Barack Obama made news on December 2 when the White House announced his signature of an executive order, titled, “Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Education Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities.” The order is meant to improve educational performance and options for Native American and Alaska Native students from early education through college. The signing was done in conjunction with Obama’s third White House Tribal Nations Conference, which saw hundreds of tribal leaders gather at the Department of the Interior’s headquarters to hash out Indian issues with administration officials.
An ancient Peruvian bead in the form of a monkey’s head given to the Palace of the Governors in 1995 will be “repatriated” today, handed over during a ceremony at Peru’s embassy in Washington, D.C. The small golden pendant has been the subject of controversy amid allegations that it was looted from an archaeological site in Peru. The FBI at one point seized the monkey’s head and other items, but eventually the artifacts were returned to the Santa Fe museum. Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History Museum, joined others to pick up the piece Wednesday for delivery to the embassy. It had been on loan to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.
Apache County in Arizona has 37,000 speakers of an American Indian language, the highest concentration in the nation, the U.S. Census Bureau says. A report by the bureau's American FactFinder said although the majority of American Indian language speakers reside in areas where there are concentrated populations of American Indians or Alaskan indigenous peoples, only 5 percent of the residents of those areas speak a tribal language.
A smoke-signal-like plume rose up as flames rolled through 2 acres of deergrass at the Pinnacles National Monument to the delight of Indian tribal leaders who lit the blaze and naturalists who monitored it. The fire was small, but it loomed very large for the American Indian community in California. The prescribed burn last week was part of a project by the National Park Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the Amah Mutsun tribal band to learn more about the traditional Indian uses of fire in Central California before European contact.