Youth and Education News
June 29, 2005 Issue 155 Volume 3
"We can learn from each other, but researchers need to recognize they are students of our culture; we are the teachers, not the other way around. I think we need to speak for ourselves.'' Karenne Wood, Monacan
American Indians Offer To Settle Suit Against Government For Royalties For $27.5 Billion
Washington DC: In 1996, a group of American Indian plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department. The lawsuit accused the federal government of mismanaging oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties from American Indian lands since 1887. Lead Plaintiff Elouise Cobell and American Indian leaders had agreed upon settlement "principles," including a calculation that the royalties plus compounded interest on them total $176,000,000,000. Cobell's lawsuit lingered in U.S. District Court for nine years. During that time a federal judge held Interior Secretary Gale Norton and her predecessor, Bruce Babbitt, in contempt for not providing an account of what the American Indians are owed. Many say it could take several more years and $12,000,000 -- $14,000,000,000 to determine what Natives are owed. Now Indians say they are willing to settle for $27,500,000,000 if Congress agrees not to draw the money from other Indian Country programs.
The Associated Press State & Local Wire
Che Guevara Birth Anniversary Marked in Ecuador
Ecuador: Students and friends of Cuba recently honored the 77th birthday anniversary of Cuban-Argentine guerrilla fighter, Ernesto Che Guevara. The political-cultural activity was held at the University of Quito and included the screening of the documentary “Che is where you cannot imagine him.” Participants praised Che Guevara's vision and call to unite against U.S. imperialism. They also agreed to join activities to support the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students to be held in Venezuela next August.
Tonto Was No "Tonto," Kemosabe
Nova Scotia: Canada's Supreme Court has ruled against a Mi'kmaq woman who sued her Nova Scotia employer for calling her Kemosabe. The woman said the term was racist and demeaning. But nobody knows for sure exactly what "Kemosabe" means. Some believe it's a corruption of the Spanish phrase "Qui no sabe" -- which roughly translates as "He who knows nothing." Native language experts agree that Kemosabe is a respectful term. Similar phrases in Cree, Ojibway, Paiute and Navajo all translate to the idea of a "trusty scout." Jim Jewel, who directed the Lone Ranger radio serial, borrowed the name" Kee-Mo-Sah-Bee" from a 1930s boy's camp near Mackinac, Michigan. In the radio series, Tonto and the Lone Ranger called each other "Kemosabe." With all this evidence, and after hours of viewing and analyzing old Lone Ranger television shows, the judges arrived at the conclusion that the name "Kemosabe" is not an insult.
Senate bill restores funding for Indian programs
Washington, DC: The U.S. Senate appropriations has joined the House of Representatives in approving a $26,300,000,000 Interior budget bill that restores President Bush's cuts to Indian programs. Lawmakers of both parties have rejected Bush's priorities as out of touch with the needs of Indian Country. "We have circumstances on the reservation that are desperate," said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
$$ The Bureau of Indian affairs will receive $2,270,000,000 in 2006 -- $81,900,000 higher than the White House request. Of the BIA budget, the bill restores money to tribal colleges, tribal priority allocations and school replacement and improvement. Each of these programs had been cut by the Bush administration.;
$$ The Indian Health Service will receive $3,224,000,000. Increases include an additional $118,100,000 for clinical services, $26,700,000 for contract health care and $17,000,000 for facilities construction, which had been cut by $86,000,000 by the White House;
$$ As for the Office of Special Trust, which was to investigate historical accounting for Indians and tribal governments, the committee stripped the White House's request by almost $78,000,000 to $226,100,000;
The Senate version of the bill still needs to pass the full Senate before being reconciled with the one passed by the House last month. Regardless of the outcome, tribes will still fare better once the final version is passed. This is the third year in a row that Congress has beefed up Indian programs in what appears to be increasing frustration with the White House.
Tribe to build "elderly village"
South Dakota: The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe will begin building an $8,000,000 village for elders. The 60-bed facility will serve as a nursing home and assisted care living facility. The new center, which will be completed in July 2006, will offer elders a place to go closer to home. Previously, skilled nursing care was only available off reservation. The tribe is funding construction of the village with help from the Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota and other federal and tribal sources.
Navajo Leader Takes Anti-alcohol Campaign To American Indians Nationwide
Arizona: Navajo Nation first lady Vikki Shirley travels across the Navajo reservation to warn crowds about underage drinking and driving intoxicated. Shirley, a spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, lost her 21-year-old daughter in 2001 to a drunken driver. "Every year, my grandson still says, 'I don't want Christmas presents, I just want my mother back,'" Shirley tells her audience. American Indians face a great risk of dying in alcohol-related crashes. About 75% of all highway fatalities among American Indians are alcohol-related, compared with 40% for non-Indians. Vikki reminds people that their ancestors did not condone using alcohol to treat social ills. "We are told stories by our medicine men from the time we are young about how corn is part of our essence," she said. "But we are never told stories about using alcohol." Now MADD has asked Shirley to serve as national spokeswoman in a campaign to reach the country's 500 registered American Indian tribes. 'She's got passion, patience and perseverance. She's an incredibly gentle spirit,' said Wendy Hamilton, MADD's national president.
Event targets alcohol abuse
Michigan: About 100 people participated in Grand Rapids' 10th annual Native American Sobriety Walk. The walk's sponsor, Native American Community Services, welcomed all to support the red road and help raise funds for the organization's urban outreach. "Native Americans are stigmatized about alcohol, partly because of Hollywood," said full-blooded Indian Debra Muller. "The stereotype of the drunken Indian is not true." Muller said white people promoted alcohol among Indians as a way to take their land and items of trade. The alcoholism continued as an escape for Indians who were treated badly. "This disease of alcoholism is really bad among Native Americans," said one participant who has been sober for 6 years. "Our livers can't handle it, because alcohol has only been known to us for 500 years." The walk was a celebration in support of sobriety, with eagle feathers presented to several former alcoholics who are managing their addiction. Following the march, the guests joined in the Three Fires Traditional Pow Wow, a reunion of Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomi Indians.
The Grand Rapids Press
Senate hearing addresses Native youth suicide
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing on Native American and Alaska Native youth suicide. Sen. Byron Dorgan, who was urged not to hold public hearings on such a sensitive topic, decided it was more important to raise awareness about Native youth's rate of suicide. "This is a hearing that, in many ways, all of us wish we were not attending to discuss a subject that perhaps we wish that wouldn't have to discuss," he said in his opening statement.
Among the comments:
Dr. Richard Carmona, U.S. Surgeon General: Confirmed Native American youth ages 15-24 attempt or commt, suicide at three times the rate of the national average. In some parts of the Indian Country, especially the Great Plains, it is much higher. "The reality is, that in many of our tribal communities, suicide is not an individual clinical condition but also a community clinical condition."
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), Chairman of Indian Affairs Committee: Blamed the historical mistreatment of Native peoples for youth suicide, noting that other suicide risk factors -- mental illness, substance abuse and poverty -- exist in non-Indian communities without such high rates. "I don't know how you can draw any other conclusion that it has something to do with the history of Native Americans and their exploitation and placement in American society, which leads to greater despair."
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Oregon): Agreed that the environment contributes to suicide among Native youth. He said the federal government must address mental health issues, and improve education and other opportunities in Indian Country. "It is possible, maybe even probable, that the rate is higher among Native Americans because of the environmental factors in which they live."
Joseph B. Stone, psychologist and member of the Blackfeet Nation: Agreed with Senator McCain, saying research shows that "historical trauma" or "post-Colonial stress" impacts how Native people deal with problems. "It seems to have to do with capacity of children to regulate their arousal and the ability of families and family members impacted by the chronic stress over the course of generations to help those children regulate their arousal."
Twila Rough Surface, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: Said the lack of health resources on tribes' reservations impacts their ability to deal with suicide.
Julie Garreau, Director of the Cheyenne River Youth Project: Started a successful program in response to the lack of youth services on the reservation. She added the success is due to the tribe taking charge. "Quite honestly, I would rather not be here today. I would rather not leave my community to testify or fund-raise. But the reality of the situation is that we need help. Our children need your help."
Dr. R. Dale Walker, Cherokee, Director of the One Sky Center at Oregon Health and Sciences University: Said reservations sorely lack mental health services. The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation has only two professionals who deal with at-risk youth. "It's a four month waiting list," he said. "Two people are not enough."
Clark Flatt, the president and CEO of The Jason Foundation: Said many efforts fail because they rely solely on government funding, yet government help is available. He sponsored the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act of 2004 to provide $82,000,000 for youth suicide prevention efforts among tribes, states and other entities. "That is our challenge as a nation to do better because [Native youth suicide rate] is a shameful thing in our country."
Listen to the hearing online: http://indianz.com/News/2005/008798.asp
Tribal police train to counter gang activity
South Dakota: Gangs are a growing problem on Native American reservations. On the Pine Ridge reservation, 14 Oglala Sioux and Ute police officers have completed the Gang Resistance Education and Training, or GREAT. Created in 1991 by the Phoenix police department and state agencies, GREAT teaches positive life skills to those most vulnerable to gang membership: elementary, middle-school or junior-high school students. "Four million students have gone through training since its inception," said George Weatheroy, Portland Police Bureau. Students learn positive skills in decision-making, setting goals, anger management and getting along with people without joining negative behaviors. "The lessons take place throughout the school year; some lessons include parents, guardians and youth-based clubs or organizations. We don't want short-term solutions. We want this to stick with them," Weatheroy said.
Alaska Natives Push For More Studies On Toxins
Alaska: Alaska Natives have seen runny bone marrow in moose and caribou, and lesions and parasites in fish. That makes Shawna Larson wonder if toxic chemicals in these traditional foods are making people sick, too. '"We see things our elders never used to see,'" she said. "Why do we have cancer? Why do we have high diabetes?" Larson, who works for Alaska Community Action on Toxins, says evidence linking sickness in the wild food supply to illness in humans needs to be studied. She also is working to change federal standards that measure toxin levels in Alaska's wild foods. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Alaska Natives, yet 50 years ago the disease was rare. "Something is wrong," said Larson, who also works for the Indigenous Environmental Network. "We just want to know why we are sick."
The Associated Press State & Local Wire
Judge Orders Heavy Spills For Salmon
Oregon: U.S. District Judge James Redden has ordered the government to release heavy amounts of river water over four Columbia basin dams this summer. Redden called U.S. efforts to protect salmon an exercise "more in cynicism than in sincerity." The federal dams provide relatively low-cost electricity, irrigation water, and barge transportation across Oregon, Washington and Idaho. However, the big federal dams kill and injure federally protected fish, now comprising 13 populations. Water spilled over dams to help juvenile salmon migrate to sea bypasses turbines and so can't be used to generate electricity. Bob Lohn from the National Marine Fisheries Service believes the government will appeal the court order.
Judge sides with Miccosukee Tribe on Everglades
Florida: U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno has sided with the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida, ruling that the state and the federal governments violated an agreement to keep the Everglades clean. He said the state continues to exceed phosphorus levels in the tribe's Everglades homeland. Moreno appointed a special master to oversee how the governments come into compliance with their duties under the 1992 agreement. The tribe said the ruling proves its claim that the state is poisoning the Everglades. Environmentalists are backing the tribe in court.
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