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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

articles-november 16

Blackfeet tribe lays claim to park land

BROWNING - More than a century ago, Montana's Blackfeet Indian Nation lost a sprawling expanse of sacred land. Today they begin the process of getting it back.

"The Badger-Two Medicine area is important traditionally," said John Murray, the tribe's historic preservation officer. "It's land that we've used historically, and that we still use today."
Trouble is, others want to use it, too - namely, developers looking for oil and natural gas.

Tribal officials are to meet today at the edge of the wilderness they hold sacred, dressed in traditional regalia, gathering to announce a tribal proclamation calling for "the return of the Badger-Two Medicine to the Blackfeet people, the rightful owner of the Badger-Two Medicine. full article

Nebraska bows to Indian inmates' worship needs

By The Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska prison officials have agreed to new rules to accommodate the religious and cultural needs of American Indian inmates in order to settle a federal court action.

The settlement agreement, obtained on Nov. 11 by The Associated Press, arose out of a complaint filed by inmate Richard T. Walker, an American Indian sentenced to a life term in 1966 for second-degree murder in Thurston County.

His complaint was filed in U.S. District Court - Nebraska in Lincoln on behalf of the prison system's approximately 200 American Indian inmates.

Among Walker's allegations was a claim that prison officials made so many demands for qualifications on a medicine man that he stopped coming to the prison to conduct religious and cultural affairs for the Indian inmates. full article

Education focus: Tribal educator helps pass along lifetime lessons

Matt Wallis / Skagit Valley Herald
Environmental educator Kaia Smith tells children at the Swinomish Tribal Community Day Care about the perils of polluting the water. Smith was hired more than a year ago because of the perceived need to extend environmental teaching into the classrooms. Here, she uses a program called "Tox-in-a-Box," a visual lesson about toxins and the river.

When Kaia Smith was a girl, her stepfather often took her fishing on the Skagit River during salmon season. As she peered over the metal edge of the skiff, she could see bright pink chum salmon swimming all around the small boat. It seemed to Smith that the salmon were everywhere.

Nearly two decades later, the number of salmon making seasonal journeys up Skagit County's waterways has greatly diminished.

"Now, when you go down the river, you're lucky if you catch one," she said. full article

Health Canada chops aboriginal quit-smoking funds

WINNIPEG - Manitoba First Nations are blaming Health Canada for forcing them to cancel programs that would have helped band members quit smoking.

Almost 65 per cent of aboriginal Manitobans smoke – one of the highest rates in the world.

Health Canada had approved more than $500,000 for on-reserve tobacco-control programs this year. However, about $300,000 of that money is being redirected by the regional office to pay for other health costs, forcing First Nations to scale back tobacco-reduction programs and lay off staff.

Del Assiniboine, a health advocate with the Southern Chiefs Organization, is disappointed the money won't be spend on desperately needed quit-smoking programs. He says the decision is short-sighted, because Health Canada will have to pay later for many costly health problems related to smoking. full article

Still battling for survival
Indigenous Colombians caught between factions
By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Globe Staff  |  November 16, 2004
NABUSIMAKE, Colombia -- Caught in the crossfire of a conflict not of their making, Colombia's indigenous tribes say they are fighting the greatest threat to their survival since Spanish colonizers reached their shores 500 years ago.

Deadly attacks against Colombian Indians have steadily worsened as their land has become a war zone in the battle between the government and left-wing rebels.

This month alone, a 70-year-old high priest of one tribe and the 50-year-old governor of another and his son were executed in their homes by presumed members of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. A governor of a third tribe and three other indigenous men were kidnapped in the last few weeks. full article

Studies offer glimmer of hope but mostly bad news
One in five tribal members in Oklahoma have diabetes

Sam Lewin 11/15/2004
A series of unrelated health studies offer differing opinions on what it means to be Native American and live in Oklahoma.

First the good news: the United Health Foundation has reported that the Sooner State saw its best-ever performance in 2003, with average health increases of more than five percent, including headway in public health spending, exercise and disease prevention.

There continue to be discrepancies among racial groups. Both African and Native Americans reported the most health problems leading to what the study called "premature death." This was true even in the healthiest states, like Minnesota, New Hampshire and Vermont. full article

Reporter's notebook: On the road with the Zapatistas
Posted: November 16, 2004
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today
A fragile peace in Chiapas
Part two
MADRE DE CARACOLES, Chiapas - In the extreme heat of Sonora's midsummer, with suffocating temperatures up to 118 degrees in the desert, Maria and Jose Garcia once again headed out of Tucson, Ariz., for Chiapas in their non-air-conditioned car. Before going to the southeastern state of Chiapas, they drove down the other side of Mexico, down the western coast to pick up the Mayo leaders in the struggle for autonomy.

At sunset in the Mayo's coastal village, on clean swept dirt roads, a gentle Mayo man came over the hill with a goat cradled in his arms.

Then, Mayo leaders told how the Mexican government had already arrested one of their leaders in the movement for sovereign Indian rule and how Mayo wanted jobs and to live in dignity.

After the rugged trip to Chiapas, at the Zapatista command center in the high mountains of the Lacandona jungle near the border of

Guatemala, Maria once again made tamales, stripping the banana leaves from the trees, and laughing as she worked with the young Mayan women of the Zapatista women's cooperative. With their white cotton handbags embroidered with masked Zapatistas and parrots spread out on the wooden benches, they worked over an open fire. full article


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