What does Groundhog Day have to do with Native American language and history? And how did Punxsutawney Phil, the now famous groundhog millions look to for weather predictions, end up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania? Let’s start at the beginning.
The Obama administration, which has made reducing crime a priority in its attempt to improve the quality of life at dozens of Indian reservations plagued by violence, recently ended a two-year crime-fighting initiative at Wind River and three other reservations deemed to be among the country’s most dangerous. Nicknamed “the surge,” it was modeled after the military’s Iraq war strategy, circa 2007, which helped change the course of the conflict. Hundreds of officers from the National Park Service and other federal agencies swarmed the reservations, and crime was reduced at three of the four reservations, — including a 68 percent decline at Mescalero Apache in New Mexico, officials said. Wind River, as has been true for much of its turbulent history, bucked the trend: violent crime there increased by 7 percent during the surge, according to the Department of Justice.
Federal officials Thursday released their proposal on how they plan to spend up to $1.9 billion to buy up Native American-owned fractionated lands and turn them over to tribes. The program is a major part of the $3.4 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by the late Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont., over Indian land royalties mismanaged by the government for more than a century.
There have been movies about third-world athletes advancing to prosperity through sports (Disney’s dramedy “Cool Runnings,” about the first Jamaican Olympic bobsled team; Anne Buford’s recent documentary, “Elevate,” about Senegalese basketball players shooting for the N.B.A.). And there have been movies about surfing (Bruce Brown’s classic “The Endless Summer”; his son Dana Brown’s “Step Into Liquid”). Adam Pesce’s “Splinters” is a bit of both, with less gloss but stronger ethical impact. A real-life examination of competitive surfing in Papua New Guinea, the film derives tension from the proverbial big tournament but also from how the event helps foster a worthy morality.
A land deal finalized this week between Paraguayan authorities and a land owner in the country’s central region will allow a long-displaced indigenous community to rebuild in safety and dignity, Amnesty International said today. For almost two decades, the Yakye Axa indigenous community have fought a legal battle to return to their ancestral lands while around 90 families were forced to live in destitute conditions alongside a nearby highway.
A couple of winters ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Spokane, Washington, to interview the great Sherman Alexie just before the release of his latest book of poetry, Face. I was worn-out and deep into some dark winter months of making a record, and I couldn't wait to cross the continent to refresh my inspiration by meeting one of the people whose art made me feel brave enough to try to write things down in my own words. The fact that Alexie was going to be on home turf was extra special in my mind. Eastern Washington was a place I called home for much of my life, so to return there meant a great deal to me.
One of South America's most controversial leaders finds himself -- yet again -- squeezed between two competing demands and constituencies. Bolivian President Evo Morales this week encountered another protest related to a controversial road-building project through an Amazon rainforest that he canceled last year -- this time from supporters hoping to revive it. The support of the government's plan comes a little too late, since the project was canned, and there are no prospects of a reversal, said Simeon Tegel, a Lima, Peru-based correspondent who reports on Latin American issues for GlobalPost. "Arguably, they're probably complicating his life a little bit given that he's now backtracked on the road."
Hundreds of protesters have arrived in Bolivia's main city, La Paz, to demand the government resume the construction of a controversial road through an Amazon reserve. President Evo Morales cancelled the project last year after a similar protest march by indigenous tribes. They said the road would destroy their rainforest homeland. But other communities say the highway would bring much-needed economic development to the Bolivian Amazon. The protesters in favour of the road through the Isiboro-Secure reserve - known as Tipnis - marched for more than 40 days from their home communities to demand the government change its position.