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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

articles-november 10

Evolving views of the holidays

By Susan Llewelyn Leach |
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

This is "Indian season," José Barreiro - a senior editor at Indian Country Today - notes dryly. Between Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, the news media and schools dust off their American Indian stories in a sort of Black History Month for natives.
Despite that somewhat contrived focus, the attention is not unwelcome, many natives say. It's an opportunity to temper romanticized views about Indians and provide a more just telling of history, one that acknowledges the history of their demise following Columbus's arrival on the continent.

The battle over how the story should be told in schools, museums, and other public settings - and how the darker aspects of these holidays as seen from a native point of view should be acknowledged - came to a head in 1992, the year of Columbus's quincentennial. What emerged from the worldwide protests and boycotts of those celebrations was more in-depth research and ultimately a more nuanced account.

South Dakota changed the holiday's name from Columbus Day to Native American Day in 1990. And protests regularly erupt across the United States each year, Denver often taking the brunt of them. full article

Not heroes to everyone

By Mary Annette Pember

Special to Knight Ridder/Tribune

The Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration essentially celebrates discovery by conquest, and as an American Indian, it sticks in my craw. Indians did not benefit from the Lewis and Clark expedition. In fact, it signaled the beginning of genocide for us. This is not an occasion for celebration in Indian country.

I do not laud the group of history buffs, clad in 19th-century garb, who are retracing the steps of Lewis and Clark. These voyageurs began at the mouth of the Missouri River in May and passed through Bismarck, N.D., last week.

Nor do I rejoice in the National Park Service-sponsored Lewis and Clark Visitor and Interpretive Centers that dot the trail. These are beautiful monuments to modern museum science and design. The buildings and grounds are immaculate, with large bathrooms and parking lots. The gift shops sell Meriwether Lewis and William Clark books, CDs and all manner of themed items, including dolls and candy. full article

Native American fund may be reformed

By Michael Kan and Iris Perez, Daily Staff Reporters
November 10, 2004

More than a century in the making, the largest legal case in Native American history may finally come to a close within the next year.

Although Cobell v. Norton was not filed until 1996, its origins lie in the United States government’s supervision of Indian trust funds dating back to 1887. In that year, the government established the trust to manage Native American land, but it now admits to mismanaging it from its outset by underselling the land and failing to retain documents proving the payments.

After years of grinding through the courts and colliding with the Department of the Interior on nearly every proceeding to remedy the system, the case’s resolution is almost in sight — an appellate ruling that may bring at least $10 billion to half a million Native Americans, said Keith Harper, a leading attorney for the case.

“We’re getting to that place to where there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Harper, who is from the Cherokee tribe and is a senior staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, a Colorado-based organization that provides legal representation for Native Americans. full article

Wal-Mart sued over racial harassment
Ex-employee charges slurs, threatened with a gun

Sam Lewin 11/9/2004

An armed services veteran is suing the Wal-Mart Corporation, charging employees there with racial harassment that includes pointing a loaded gun at his head. The alleged incidents happened at a Wal-Mart in Chadron, Nebraska, a border town located about fifty miles south of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Greg Clements, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, says that while he was working at the store in June of this year several other employees taunted him about an archaic law apparently still on the books in the Nebraska town of Crawford that states that if two or more American Indians are found on or crossing a bridge they can legally be shot at. Clements’ lawsuit claims that he “did advise his immediate supervisors about this inappropriate harassment, nothing was done to address and correct the behavior of the non-Indian employees. The situation continued to escalate right up to the end of the work shift when a Wal-Mart co-worker offered Mr. Greg Clements a ride home. As [Clements] approached the co-worker's truck, the co-worker inquired if he wished to see the type of firepower he had and pointed a loaded .380 automatic pistol at [Clements]. The co-worker kept the weapon leveled at...Clements while explaining the capabilities of the weapon. Naturally, Mr. Greg Clements declined the offered ride home.” full article

Conversation in an Italian garden
Ethnobotanist Linda Jones discovers that traditions are never really lost

TURIN, Italy - At the end of October, ethnobotanist Linda Jones, Catawba, traveled to Turin, in the Piedmont region of Italy, to attend Terra Madre, an historic agricultural conference. At the meeting, nearly 5,000 indigenous and traditional food producers from around the planet came together under the auspices of Slow Food, an Italian organization that supports the production and enjoyment of artisanal food worldwide.

Potato growers from the Andes, algae gatherers from Chad, wild rice pickers from the White Earth Chippewa Reservation in Minnesota, piki bread makers from Tesuque Pueblo in New Mexico, and many more - some of whom had never before left their tiny communities - aired their common problems, including the pollution of heirloom varieties by genetically modified ones, competition from agribusiness, and land and language loss.

The delegates also brainstormed to find solutions, such as the development of local markets, the formation of cooperatives, and the empowerment of women, who are the majority of the world's farmers and the keepers of the knowledge that underlies the world's biodiversity, while, for the most part, toiling in a state of near-slavery. full article

State accuses tribal fishermen of illegal catch
November 9, 2004, 1:47 PM

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) -- The state's authority to regulate tribal commercial fishing operations in the Great Lakes will be tested by the seizure of nearly two tons of fish caught near Ludington.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officers seized 3,857 pounds of fish that two American Indians allegedly caught illegally in Lake Michigan using a commercial fishing boat and huge trap nets.

State officials say the men captured the whitefish, lake trout and chubs after the tribal fishing season had closed at noon EST Saturday.

The case is believed to mark the first time the state has pursued criminal charges under a 2000 federal court decree that gave the DNR authority to regulate tribal commercial fishing operations in Michigan's portion of the Great Lakes, The Muskegon Chronicle reported Tuesday. full article

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