A Lansing-area school district has decided to stop using an American Indian head logo for its high school. The Lansing State Journal reports (http://on.lsj.com/uB1Fbq) a letter announcing the elimination of the Chieftain logo was sent Thursday to parents at Okemos High School. The decision was arrived at by a four-person committee originally formed in the spring of 2004. The letter says the committee made a good-faith effort to phase out the use of human imagery or the Indian head silhouette as the school logo.
On Nov. 19, I was looking forward to attending a party that Pi Kappa Phi was hosting that night on Central Campus. That is, until my friend nonchalantly texted me that the event’s theme was “Pilgrims and Indians.” At first, I refused to attend an event that sounded so derogatory toward Native Americans. The fraternity took on a terrible history of colonialism and genocide and turned it into a sexy party theme. The language in their invitation (“hot natives” and “pocahotness”) sexualizes the Native American race. Having learned the theme just hours before the party, it was too late for me to try and stop it. I ultimately decided that if I was going to criticize this party, I had to see it for myself.
Peru's President Ollanta Humala has declared a state of emergency in a northern region that has seen bitter protests against a gold mine project. Mr Humala said the measure would last 60 days and allow security forces to restore public services shut by rallies and marches against the mine. Newmont, based in Denver, Colorado, is the majority owner of the Conga project, which was to begin production in 2015 and is an extension of Yanacocha, Latin America's biggest gold mine.
Brazil says the rate of deforestation in its Amazon region has fallen to the lowest level for 23 years. The National Institute for Space Research said 6,238 square km (2,400 square miles) of rainforest disappeared between August 2010 and July 2011, a drop of 11% from the previous year. The government says the fall is due to its tougher stance on illegal logging. But in at least two states, Rondonia and Matto Grosso, rainforest clearance rose considerably in the past year. The research institute has used satellite technology to monitor the rainforest since 1988. Destruction peaked in recent years at 27,700 square km (10,700 square miles) in 2003-4. The main causes of illegal clearing of the rainforest are cattle farming and agricultural crop production, as well as logging for timber.
At midyear 2010 a total of 2,119 inmates were held in Indian country jails, down 2.6 percent from 2,176 at midyear 2009, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. Indian country jails are operated by tribal authorities or the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Seventy-five Indian country jails in operation reported inmate counts to BJS in 2010. Nationwide, the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives under correctional supervision in the U.S. declined by less than one percent between 2009 and 2010. Over 60 percent (48,700) of American Indians and Alaska Natives were on probation or parole, about 19 percent (14,940) were held in state prison, 4 percent (3,258) in federal prison, and 13 percent (9,900) in municipal or county operated local jails.
President Barack Obama meets with American Indian leaders this afternoon in Washington but, on the law front, it's already been a tough year for the tribes. In February, the president nominated Arvo Mikkanen, an Ivy-educated Native American, to a spot as a federal trial judge in Oklahoma. He would be only the third documented Native American federal judge in U.S. history. But GOP Senator Tom Coburn immediately blocked the nomination and, nine months later, Mikkanen still hasn't received a hearing, much less a floor vote. Worse, no one in Washington seems to care.
President Barack Obama met for the third time with Native American tribal leaders on Friday, signing an executive order on tribal colleges and assuring them "you have a president that's got your back." Obama has won plaudits among Native Americans by breaking through a logjam of inaction on tribal issues and for giving a voice to their issues with the annual gatherings in Washington. At Friday's conference, Obama announced he had signed an executive order establishing a White House initiative on American Indian and Alaska native education. The initiative will be overseen by an executive director appointed by the interior and education secretaries.