As Rep. Tom Cole encouraged his colleagues over the course of a few months to support protections for Native Americans in the Violence Against Women Act, he embraced a role as an educator on the issue. Still, he was startled by how little some of his colleagues knew. At times, the misunderstanding was extreme: "People were spouting obscure constitutional theory and had never dealt with Indian law in their life," Cole said. As a member of the Chickasaw nation and one of only two Native Americans currently in Congress, Cole is accustomed to having to explain and represent this niche sector of America — and not only to his fellow members of Congress.
Two Republicans running for Congressional seats last year offered opinions on “legitimate rape” or God-approved conceptions during rape, tainting their party with misogyny. Their candidacies tanked. Words matter. Having lost the votes of many women, Republicans now have the chance to recover some trust. The Senate last week voted resoundingly to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, the 1994 law that recognized crimes like rape, domestic abuse and stalking as matters of human rights.
Just as Arizona finally surfaces from a sea of red ink, the state's public school districts on the Navajo Nation now face a threat from a different direction - potential huge budget cuts by the federal government. Administration and school board leaders from some of the 15 Arizona school districts that receive "impact aid" - direct payments from the federal government to compensate for being located on non-taxable public land - met in Chinle Tuesday to discuss ways in which to avert the looming crunch.
American Indian activists took over the tiny village of Wounded Knee on South Dakota’s sprawling Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on Feb. 27, 1973, in what would become a 71-day, fatal standoff with FBI agents that attracted national attention to the impoverished reservation and the plight of local tribes. On Wednesday, the occupation’s 40th anniversary, some of the protest’s central figures — most notably the American Indian Movement’s charismatic leader, the late Russell Means — will be noticeably absent from a commemoration at the reservation. But organizers hope the events remind people of the struggles that led to the standoff and problems still reverberating throughout Indian Country, as well as changes the protest helped spark.
During the mid 1800’s Canada’s colonization was chugging along with the industrial age, and the thinkers of the day were turning their brainpower towards the pesky task of how to deal with the “Indian Problem.” In 1841, Herman Charles Merivale, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies (who doesn’t look like he would be a bad guy to smoke cigars and sip sherry with), established and executed a concoction of his four policies on the subject: Extermination, slavery, insulation and assimilation. All of these were wrapped tidily up in the Residential School system.
These drawings are by Etahdleuh Doanmoe, a Kiowa man who was captured by the U.S. Army in Oklahoma in 1875 and was one of a group of leaders who were selected for removal in order to crush the Southern Plains tribes' resistance to confinement to reservations. Doanmoe and seventy-one other Arapaho, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Caddo, and Comanche Indians were taken to St. Augustine, Fla., where they were imprisoned at Fort Marion for three years. The men were taught English, dressed in Western clothes, and taught to forsake their former traditions.
Today is the deadline for American Indians and their descendants to take part in a $3.4 billion settlement with the federal government over the mismanagement of Indian land and money. In Minnesota, the settlement will distribute $57 million to more than 35,000 tribal members. Earlier this month, Arlene Weous, who lives on the Mille Lacs reservation in central Minnesota, called the Bureau of Indian Affairs to file her claim. She will be among thousands of American Indian around the country taking part in the Cobell settlement -- named after a member of Montana's Blackfeet Tribe, who sued the federal government over its accounting practices related to tribal lands.
Across the entire country, one of the most intractable problems in public education is how to fix Native American schools. Beginning in 1928, the federal government has issued scathing reports about the state of Native education and intervened periodically with new programs and reforms. None of them have made much difference. The high school dropout rate of Native students is about 12 percent, higher than that of blacks (8 percent) and of whites (5 percent). Only 39 percent of those who go to college complete a college degree in six years compared to 62 percent of whites and 69 percent of Asians. And while Hispanic and black students have been gaining ground in math and reading, scores for Native students have stagnated over the past decade. In the case of Alaska Natives, they've fallen.