Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed into law a bill that opens the door for dismantling state jurisdiction over American Indian tribes. Signed into law Monday, the measure creates a procedure for a tribe to ask the state to cede its jurisdiction over criminal and civil matters to the federal government and the tribes themselves. Washington state in 1963 assumed jurisdiction over matters including juvenile delinquency, truancy, mental illness, adoption proceedings and motor vehicle traffic on tribal lands.
Balancing 27 stories above midtown Manhattan on a recent afternoon, iron worker Kaniehtakeron ‘Geggs’ Martin straddled an I-beam on top of a rising skyscraper on 55th Street and grabbed a steal beam out of the air with a steady gloved hands. Gently swaying the steel knocked into a support column with a deadening gong that provided the bass note to the work site’s dissonant clanging and sizzling welding. Martin, 35, is a fourth generation Mohawk ironworker, and comes from Kahnawake, an Indian reserve outside of Montreal that has been supplying the city with ironworkers for the past century, and have worked on nearly ever skyscraper and bridge in New York City.
State lawmakers voted March 13 to increase the number of individuals qualified to serve as Native American liaisons to the governor of Oklahoma. Current law states, “Any person appointed to the position of Oklahoma Native American Liaison shall be an American Indian of at least one-fourth blood.” House Bill 2563, by state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, would change the qualification so that the Native American liaison merely has to be “a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe” possessing “valid proof of membership.”
Van Barfoot, a Medal of Honor recipient in World War II whose fight to fly an American flag outside his home 65 years later drew national attention, died on Friday in suburban Richmond, Va. He was 92. The cause was a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain resulting from a fall two days earlier in front of his home in a subdivision in Henrico County, said his daughter, Margaret Nicholls. Serving in the 45th Infantry Division, Sergeant Barfoot took part in the breakout from Italy’s Anzio beachhead.
When Margarita Owlinguish Britten died in 1925, she was a revered elder of the Pala Indian tribe, a survivor of the forced relocation in 1903 of the Cupeño Indians to an area beside the San Luis Rey River in northern San Diego County. But now, renewed doubts about Britten's lineage are at the root of a divisive "blood quantum" dispute roiling the 1,000-member Pala Band of Mission Indians, formed by the fusion of the Cupeño and Luiseño bands. At issue is whether Britten was a full-blooded Indian. The governing board of the Pala Band in the last year has "disenrolled" some 162 descendants of Britten, cutting them off from their monthly share of the tribe's profit from casino, hotel and other business ventures, about $7,500 a month, in addition to health insurance and other benefits.
From a forested bluff, Willard Carlson Jr. stands watch over Blue Creek where its indigo eddies meet the gray-green riffles of the Klamath River. The creek is sacred to Yurok Indians like himself: it flows into high country, a pilgrimage point and a source of curative power for tribal healers. The Yurok consider it their “golden stairway” and weave its stepped pattern into their basketry. This is a California few outsiders know, where remote villages still await electricity, and the river is a liquid neighborhood. For the state’s largest tribe, with about 5,000 members, well-publicized battles over fishing rights and hydroelectric dams are perhaps less pressing day to day than the question “What part of the river are you from?”
A Shipibo man was one of three people killed March 14 in Puerto Maldonado, in Peru’s southeastern Amazon region, during a protest against new laws designed to control wildcat gold mining in the country’s Madre de Dios region. Francisco Areque, 38, of the San José de Karene community in the Manú province, died shortly after 1 p.m. on March 14. Reports said he was shot, but his brother, Marco Areque, told Indian Country Today Media Network that the official autopsy report was inconclusive.
Nearly everything about the Foxwoods Resort Casino is improbable, beginning with its scale. It is the largest casino in the Western Hemisphere — a gigantic, labyrinthine wonderland set down in a cedar forest and swamp in an otherwise sleepy corner of southeastern Connecticut. Forty thousand patrons pack into Foxwoods on weekend days. The place has 6,300 slot machines. Ten thousand employees. If you include everything — hotel space, bars and restaurants, theaters and ballrooms, spa, bowling alley — Foxwoods measures about 6.7 million square feet, more than the Pentagon.
Lesbian chic, Goth chic, rocker chic, Masai chic, androgynous chic, biker chic, punk chic, minimalist chic: fashion is culture’s Godzilla, devouring everything in its path. Half the time, the monster doesn’t know what it ate. Most recently it gobbled up the complex Navajo tribal culture, which then, semidigested, turned up on runways, in stores, online and finally in the news, as last week the people who unwittingly provided inspiration for Navajo chic took legal issue with a process of cultural appropriation that American Indians know perhaps too well.
New York state lawmakers have agreed to legalize public casinos and will amend the state constitution to allow seven new casinos to operate, lawmakers said on Wednesday. The location of the new casinos will be decided in 2013. New York currently only allows table gambling in Native American resorts. The state also allows companies to open and run video lottery terminals at so-called racinos in the city of Yonkers and in the New York City borough of Queens.
Olympian Jim Thorpe is at the center of a battle between a Pennsylvania town that gave him a resting place, and his sons, who want to bury his remains in Oklahoma.
A bill that intends to make it easier for the governor to fill the post of American Indian liaison was changed Tuesday to make the position a member of the governor's Cabinet. The House of Representatives easily passed the amendment by Rep. Chuck Hoskin, a member of the Cherokee Nation, but only after discussion on whether legislators should be telling the governor which categories should be part of her advisers who make up her Cabinet.
Compared to the rest of the United States, the rates of sexual violence among Native American women are nearly twice as high; one in three Native women will be raped in her lifetime, according to the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center. But in many Native communities, women have little to no access to emergency contraception, the group reports in a new paper advocating for greater access.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken the unusual step of issuing a permit allowing an American Indian tribe to kill two bald eagles for religious purposes. The agency's decision comes after the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming filed a federal lawsuit last year contending the refusal to issue such permits violates tribal members' religious freedom. Although thousands of American Indians apply for eagle feathers and carcasses from a federal repository, permits allowing the killing of bald eagles are exceedingly rare, according to both tribal and legal experts on the matter.
An anesthetic gel made from a plant found in the Peruvian rainforest could revolutionize dental treatment, researchers from the University of Cambridge said Wednesday. Indigenous tribes in Peru discovered the pain-killing properties of the Acmella Oleracea plant centuries ago and used it to treat toothache, ulcers and abscesses. A Cambridge University anthropologist, Francoise Freedman, experienced the plant's pain-killing properties first hand while living with the Keshwa Lamas tribe in the Amazon in 1975.
Weekly round-up of Indian Country News: http://blog.nmai.si.edu/main/2011/06/indian-country-in-the-news.html