167 billboards | No Joke! | Be The Good

Something interesting in going on in Canada’s parks in 02018:

Mohawk curator and scholar Lee-Ann Martin has participated in all of these modes of support in the past. But this summer, she is taking a very different approach—namely, putting the art of 50 Indigenous women artists on 167 billboards from coast to coast to coast.

National billboard project

Coast to coast to coast… 01 June 2018 – 01 August 2018…  Interactive map and full website launch on 01 May 2018

I saw this unforgettable artwork years ago at the PEM in Salem, MA.

How do you make the work of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women artists in Canada more visible? Some people write research papers. Some people build collections. Some people advocate for funding.  Mohawk curator and scholar Lee-Ann Martin has participated in all of these modes of support in the past. But this summer, she is taking a very different approach—namely, putting the art of 50 Indigenous women artists on 167 billboards from coast to coast to coast.

“Having Indigenous women’s art writ large in public…along the country’s roadways and in urban centres” is vital, says Martin. “I really see the project as synonymous with Indigenous women’s work as defenders of the land,” she notes, with “the other, more practical intent [being] for people to realize the breadth, depth and diversity of Indigenous women’s art and how important it is today.”

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A Complete List of the 50 Artists in “Resilience” :  KC Adams, Kenojuak Ashevak, Shuvinai Ashoona, Rebecca Gloria-Jean Baird, Mary Anne Barkhouse, Christi Belcourt, Rebecca Belmore, Jaime Black, Lori Blondeau, Heather Campbell, Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Lianne Marie, Leda Charlie, Hannah Claus, Dana Claxton, Ruth Cuthand, Dayna Danger, Patricia Deadman, Bonnie Devine, Rosalie Favell, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Lita Fontaine, Melissa General, Tanya Harnett, Maria Hupfield, Ursula Johnson, Bev Koski, Nadya Kwandibens, Mary Longman, Amy Malbeuf, Teresa Marshall, Meryl McMaster, Caroline Monnet, Lisa Myers, Nadia Myre, Jade Nasogaluak Carpenter, Marianne Nicolson, Shelley Niro, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Nigit’stil Norbert, Daphne Odjig, Jane Ash Poitras, Annie Pootoogook, Sherry Farrell Racette, Sonia Robertson, Pitaloosie Saila, Jessie Short, Skawennati, Jackie Traverse, Jennie Williams, Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, Gid7ahl-Gudsllaay Lalaxaaygans

GO LOOK: Nationwide Public Art Project to Feature 50 Indigenous Women – Canadian Art

*** Letter to an Emerging Indigenous Writer

Writing in all its forms is a scary act; it makes us vulnerable and exposes our softest parts to a world not known for its gentleness. But there’s magnificent power in that vulnerability, and it’s deserving of acknowledgment. And I’m filled with such deep joy each time another powerful voice joins the Indigenous literary world. I hope you’ll think of these words as an honoring and a hope for the important work you’re about to undertake.

In both Canada and the US the mainstream literary scene tends to hold up one or two Indigenous writers at a time, while leaving the rest to fend for themselves. It’s important to help one another, to uphold one another’s work, to celebrate successes and grieve losses, to engage in this beautiful struggle together.

READ: Letter to an Emerging Indigenous Writer | Literary Hub

***

By LT (no April Fools jokes here!)

I’m sure you have had enough of the political news (no joke) so I humbly attempt to bring you something new and different like the stunning billboards above.  Of course there is lots going on, including more and more conspiracy theorists online, end days scares, A.I. has won (crapola),  and what is up with all the mermaid stuff (dear god no no no).  OK, some days I don’t even want to sit at a computer.

I do follow many many many blogs but I do want you to read Asshole Watching Movies and their latest coverage of SXSW: Isle of Dogs.

Flat earthers are looking at the end times. This is it. Really. It’s for real this time. No really, this is the end. Fox News will rise up into obscurity when they lose all of their advertisers, leaving the believers behind to think for themselves and the nonbelievers free to live in peace without the believers trolling them online, at church, in the bar, or at potlucks. – SPIKE on Medium

I also want to make you aware of Spike Dolomite, and her Daily Crime Report — sarcastic cliff

I cannot wait to see this!

notes of yesterday’s breaking news. I cannot stop reading her jabs, laughing loudly. (Laughter is the best medicine these days. ((No Joke!))

But I have always wondered about the men and women behind bars in prison and how they are living out their lives. I had no idea how they cope. THIS podcast Ear Hustle opened my eyes!

And I am doing this daily: Raising my vibration… (if it’s TV or any other media, if it feels dark to you, turn it off. NOW, please.)  Military Propaganda? See the blurb below.

This might be the best series on the affects of adoptees of First Nations I have ever heard: You must listen to this series about Cleo (10 segments so far) : http://www.cbc.ca/radio/findingcleo/click-here-to-listen-to-missing-murdered-finding-cleo-1.4557887

 

I send each of you LOVE. Get out in the sunshine and laugh!

don’t forget – this is truth!

 

 

 

And just as the fighting was privatised, so too was the propaganda. In 2016, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that the Pentagon had paid around half a billion dollars to the British PR firm Bell Pottinger to deliver propaganda during the Iraq war.  Bell Pottinger, famous for shaping Thatcher’s image, included among its clients Asma Al Assad, wife of the Syrian president. Part of their work was making fake Al Qaeda propaganda films. (The firm was forced to close last year because they made the mistake of deploying their tactics against white people). (No Joke!)

 

 

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Change Is Coming: Youth Suicide Pacts, Canada’s Move Away from the 141 Year Old Indian Act and more news

By Lara Trace Hentz

I am still on my hiatus, of course, but these stories I have covered on this news blog before (kinda). I will be back later in 2017. That is, if we don’t suffer a nuke someday soon.

***

From August 11, 2017 at Indian Country Today

Wawatay News reported that the Canadian Army responded to a declaration of emergency by the government of Wapekeka, an Oji-Cree community of about 400, located about 375 miles north of Thunder Bay. The emergency was an epidemic of youth suicide. The First Nation asked for outside help after the third suicide by a 12-year-old girl this year and discovery of suicide pacts among some youngsters.

The Army sent a unit of Rangers—an all-indigenous unit of part time reservists—with an assignment to conduct night patrols and daytime activities for at risk youth.

Chief Brennan Sainnawap commented in extending thanks to the responding Rangers:

There were no suicides after the Rangers arrived. There were attempts but no suicides. The Rangers coming in helped our staff on the ground and the whole of the community to have a chance to rest. We were traumatized and exhausted. The Rangers gave us breathing room.

The Rangers did not approach the assignment as policing. They spread out in the community and tried to get to know the kids, but they did take custody of some suicide paraphernalia. They made lots of referrals to suicide counselors. A few kids were airlifted for emergency treatment.

As the government was able to bring in more civilian help the reservists withdrew as a unit, but individual friendships remain. If Chief Sainnawap’s evaluation is correct, the Rangers hit the sweet spot of signifying to the kids that the government cares without becoming an oppressive force.

Cousin Ray helpfully pointed out once more that the responding unit was indigenous, and it might have been harder for a unit made up of settlers to find the sweet spot even with the best intentions.

***

For First Nations, the end of the Indian Act is an opportunity to return to tradition and empower indigenous female leaders

Sandra LaFleur • August 12, 2017

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s historic announcement of a move away from the 141 year old Indian Act had to have left some Assembly of First Nations (AFN), and provincial Indigenous leaders scratching their heads. Indigenous activist leaders (land protectors, water protectors, suicide watch groups), Native Women’s Association of Canada {NWAC}, Idle No More {INM}, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), grassroots people and the average non-indigenous Canadian are also likely, wondering what a life beyond the Indian Act means and how the move will affect them in their day to day lives.

… Let’s use Monaco as an example

The Treaty of Versailles is an agreement between France and Monaco similar to that of First Nations treaty’s with the Crown (Britain’s representative; Canada), is eerily similar in basic foundation….

Monaco has its own law enforcement similar to what is already implemented on most First Nation communities. And the near two mile sovereign state also has a Constitution of Monaco (adopted in 1962 and updated to reflect government power and legislative changes). Furthermore and somewhat, simplistically, Monaco’s agreement with France came in part by Monaco’s cessation of land to (similar as First Nation’s and the Crown’s agreement on land), France and in return, an agreement was reached wherein, a part of France’s obligation is a responsibility to militarily protect Monaco.

There are many more similarities however; the Treaty of Versailles could be a starting point in building First Nation, nation-to-nation legislation, with Canada.

First Nation government leaders, activists, FN women’s groups and all affected parties need to start the process.

The process could be as simple as surveying individual First Nation members on who they would like to see sit at the helm; in mediating the drafting of new legislation.

Read the entire Op-ED: Change Is Coming: Canada’s Move Away from the 141 Year Old Indian Act – Indian Country Media Network

 

***

A new Navajo law criminalizes human trafficking on the country’s largest American Indian reservation.

READ: Navajo Sign Law Criminalizing Human Trafficking – Indian Country Media Network

 

***

U.S. House appropriators did what they could before recess to limit dramatic cuts to American Indian programs proposed by the Trump administration.

READ: Trump’s Proposed Cuts to American Indian Programs Still in Play – Non Profit News For Nonprofit Organizations | Nonprofit Quarterly

 

***

Museums Move to Return Human Remains to Indigenous Peoples – The New York Times

top photo

 

The Secret Path on Remembrance Day

 

From Jay at Assholes Watching Movies:

You may have noticed there was a day this summer when Canada “went dark.” It was August 20th, the day the Tragically  Hip performed for the last time. Hip lead singer, front trudeau-the-hip-concert-kingstonman extraordinaire, Canadian superstar Gord Downie had recently announced that he had a brain tumour and was terminally ill.  Since making music has always been his passion, he and the Hip went on a farewell tour and despite the ravages of cancer, he performed full-throttle at each and every show, somehow finding the energy and the courage to power through.  Their final trudeau-downiedate was in their hometown of Kingston Ontario, just a little ways down the road from Ottawa.  Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was in the front row, and spoke for all of Canada when he thanked Gord and the whole band for their decades of artistic serviced to the country. It was a stirring night. The end is coming for Gord and he knew it, you could see it in his eyes, feel it every time he was overcome by emotion, but instead of making it about him, he chose to use this spotlight (and believe me, about 32 out of our 33 million strong l3z58mkrpopulation were tuned in one way or another) to speak on behalf of Canada’s indigenous population.

Since that night, as Downie inches closer to his final days, he’s still pouring his last energies into speaking up for our Aboriginal people.  His latest endeavor is a tribute to Chanie Wenjack – in music, graphic novel, and animated form.  10 poems were turned into an album, which was turned into a graphic novel, which was turned into an animated film (above).  They all tell the story of one boy, who represents the many, many more just like him, our first nations children ripped from the arms of their mothers, out of their communities, and into residential schools.  Residential schools were run by church and state with the sole purpose of ‘civilizing’ the savages. gord-downie-sheila-north-wilson Prohibited from speaking their languages, practicing their spirituality, or honouring their cultures, teachers stripped them of their identity.  Many children suffered terrible abuse, but all of these kids were deprived of their childhoods, and all of the families suffered terribly as I’m sure you would if your child was removed, perhaps never to be seen again, or if you were lucky enough to be reunited, we can only hope that you can find a common language in which to communicate.  Communities were destroyed in what many Aboriginal people refer to as a genocide.  It’s a dark part of Canadian history that wasn’t acknowledged until very recently.  Today our First Nations peoples often live in poverty and other consequences of this intergenerational tragedy.  Healing is not an Aboriginal problem, it’s something we need to address as an entire country.  Gord Downie is doing his part.

If you are so inclined, The Secret Path can be streamed here for free (or in fact, watch on youtube above). I hope you take the time to do so, and to share it with a friend. The images are haunting, but the lyrics will punch you in the gut. I was in tears by the third track.

…Source: The Secret Path

(Remembrance Day  greetings today to my friends and relatives in Canada.. Trace)

At age nine, Wenjack and three of his sisters were sent to Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, more than 600 km away, where he was given the name “Charlie.” On October 22, 1966 near Kenora, Ontario, Chanie Wenjack died when he walking home to the family he was taken from over 400 miles away.  Fifty years later, Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie has taken Wenjack’s story and turned it into the Secret Path project, including a solo album, a graphic novel and an animated film. BACKGROUND on Chanie HERE

Wenjack has become a symbol of resistance to the power of colonization in Canada. In 1972, Indigenous students and members of Trent University’s Native Studies department lobbied for the university to name its newly built college after Wenjack.  Ultimately, a theatre in the college was named “Wenjack Theatre.”

Wenjack has inspired several artistic tributes, including the song “Charlie Wenjack” by Mi’kmaq artist Willie Dunn (1978) and the painting Little Charlie Wenjack’s Escape from Residential School by Anishinaabe artist Roy Kakegamic (2008). He has also inspired the creative works of author Joseph Boyden and filmmaker Terril Calder.

Suggested Reading

  • P. Bush,“Charlie Wenjack and the Indian Residential School System,” Presbyterian History vol. 58, no. 2 (2014): 4–5; J.S. Milloy, A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879–1986 (1999); The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future (2015).

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/CBCArtsWeb

Ghosts

ZOOLOOZ STORE OWNER
Me in my store Zoolooz in Portland, Oregon (1990) – yes that is a blow up shark!

By Lara Trace (called Lala by her sister in Austria)

Am I the only one?

 

Every. SINGLE. DAY…  I feel like I’m overreacting to an insane horror flick.  YEEGADS, what the hell is going on in this world?  It’s like a very very very bad movie, between X RATED and profane.  If I turn on the TV I end up swearing like a sailor.  (I do get fined $$ when I swear.) Don’t hand me that TV remote. I’ll end up watching Ancient Aliens as a marathon again.

(We had a freak meteor shower on May 17 and I still have insomnia.)

The photo is me when I had a store in Portland in the late 80s.  Yes, I liked and sold crazy shit. Yes, that is a blow up shark, dinosaur and cactus. I am eccentric. I still like crazy shit, though I don’t have those blowups anymore.

OH, the new book STOLEN GENERATIONS is out and it’s doing well.  I did a radio interview (see link below)

Something I’m working on… I am doing a talk in San Diego in a few weeks with other adoptees.

Here are some basics:

If the Native population was just 2 million and one quarter of all children were removed before the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, then (on-paper) 80,000+ children were removed from their families during the early to mid-1900s. If the population was 3 million, then over 100,000 were removed and so on…

I did pretend to be someone – and live a lie – because I’m adopted.  Ask any adoptee who has Native American ancestry.  If you are not told, you’re just another dead Indian, at least on record or on tribal rolls.

America is like that.  Adoptees, of all skin colors in the United States, are now estimated to number between six and ten million.  They’d prefer every one of us to live as an American citizen as if none other were as good or as important.  America forgets it’s very new by all standards; it just acts like its old.

Indian Country is ancient.  Our cells are identical to those of our ancestors of 30,000 years ago.  Indian kids who are adopted and raised outside Indian country eventually get it – more or less.  We get that less Indians around is best.  We get that America didn’t respect us or our culture.  We get that America tamed us, stole our land, and revised our history.  We get that more Americans prefer us tucked away somewhere.  They’ll teach us their version of our story.  We get that it’s wrong, but it’s America (or Canada).  It’s been this way a long time.

(Thirty+ years ago I opened my adoption.  Having to start this story somewhere, I started with a chronology, first the steps, opening my adoption, how I handled it, good, bad, etc.  It seemed to take forever.  What I encountered – besides shock – was me, barely alive, what I’d call living dead.  Let me explain.  I started to see that I was usually caught up in other people’s lives just to avoid living my own.  Under layers of denial, I conveniently forgot what I didn’t like to remember.  I had stopped caring about the past but it had me, all of me.)

No one is exactly sure how many Indian children were taken, but thousands are gone, probably living on the fringe as an urban Indian. That is how I see myself.

[Adrian who is my brother sent me this:  One can never tame that which is genetically wild and free….. Like the WolfDogs I love and raise,they adapt to me out of love and pack mentality….,But they will always be Wolves and if not respected as such, will turn back to that which they are genetically,born to be……………We are like The Wolves.]

*******

And here’s what is happening up north – my 60s Scoop brothers and sisters are leading the way… (top photo of Solidarity Rally)

via Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau Call for Action for ‘60s Scoop Adoptees | Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare

The history of the United States and its treatment of American Indians is very similar to Canada’s history in that there was a “necessity”, from the Federal Government’s standpoint, to deal with Indian Tribes for treaties to keep the “Peace” and to gain “Dominion” over Indian lands so that the Federal Government could carry out the theory/doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”. Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/05/22/non-status-indians-us-part-2-daniels-v-canadacrown

********

My recent interview with Native Solidarity:  https://soundcloud.com/user-633130202/trace-hentz-interview

********

Leland and I will be in San Diego. He gave Stolen Generations to a Hopi Federal Judge in Boston recently.
Leland and I will be giving a talk in San Diego. He gave Stolen Generations to a Hopi Federal Judge in Boston recently. He’s a great guy and Navajo adoptee- actor-jewelry designer!

Hey, your blogs are wonderful, by the way.  I’ve been reading you all like I’m holding onto you for dear life.

I will be back… as in writing again mid-June. I’m here in spirit.  Like a ghost.

Save

Save

Stolen Generation

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Image: The Indian Residential School hockey team of Maliotenam, Quebec, circa 1950 (Library and Archives Canada; Flickr.com/The Commons/)

 

Austalia’s national broadcaster ABC news on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the parallels to the experiences of Aboriginal peoples in Australia during the Stolen Generation.

Posted by Touchstones of Hope on Monday, January 4, 2016

 

***The new anthology Stolen Generation I’m helping to edit is underway, focusing on writings of First Nations adoptees in North American… Trace

 

At Yale in Connecticut:january 27

Soul Wound: The Legacy of Native American Schools

Soul Wound

The Legacy of Native American Schools

U.S. and Canadian authorities took Native children from their homes and tried to school, and sometimes beat, the Indian out them. Now Native Americans are fighting the theft of language, of culture, and of childhood itself.

By Andrea Smith

A little while ago, I was supposed to attend a Halloween party. I decided to dress as a nun because nuns were the scariest things I ever saw,” says Willetta Dolphus, 54, a Cheyenne River Lakota. The source of her fear, still vivid decades later, was her childhood experience at American Indian boarding schools in South Dakota.

Boys pray before bedtime with Father Keyes, St. Mary’s Mission School, Omak. © Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane, WA

Dolphus is one of more than 100,000 Native Americans forced by the U.S. government to attend Christian schools. The system, which began with President Ulysses Grant’s 1869 “Peace Policy,” continued well into the 20th century. Church officials, missionaries, and local authorities took children as young as five from their parents and shipped them off to Christian boarding schools; they forced others to enroll in Christian day schools on reservations. Those sent to boarding school were separated from their families for most of the year, sometimes without a single family visit. Parents caught trying to hide their children lost food rations.

Virtually imprisoned in the schools, children experienced a devastating litany of abuses, from forced assimilation and grueling labor to widespread sexual and physical abuse. Scholars and activists have only begun to analyze what Joseph Gone (Gros Ventre), a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, calls “the cumulative effects of these historical experiences across gender and generation upon tribal communities today.”

“Native America knows all too well the reality of the boarding schools,” writes Native American Bar Association President Richard Monette, who attended a North Dakota boarding school, “where recent generations learned the fine art of standing in line single-file for hours without moving a hair, as a lesson in discipline; where our best and brightest earned graduation certificates for homemaking and masonry; where the sharp rules of immaculate living were instilled through blistered hands and knees on the floor with scouring toothbrushes; where mouths were scrubbed with lye and chlorine solutions for uttering Native words.”

Sammy Toineeta (Lakota) helped found the national Boarding School Healing Project to document such abuses. “Human rights activists must talk about the issue of boarding schools,” says Toineeta. “It is one of the grossest human rights violations because it targeted children and was the tool for perpetrating cultural genocide. To ignore this issue would be to ignore the human rights of indigenous peoples, not only in the U.S., but around the world.”

The schools were part of Euro-America’s drive to solve the “Indian problem” and end Native control of their lands. While some colonizers advocated outright physical extermination, Captain Richard H. Pratt thought it wiser to “Kill the Indian and save the man.” In 1879 Pratt, an army veteran of the Indian wars, opened the first federally sanctioned boarding school: the Carlisle Industrial Training School, in Carlisle, Penn.

“Transfer the savage-born infant to the surroundings of civilization, and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit,” said Pratt. He modeled Carlisle on a prison school he had developed for a group of 72 Indian prisoners of war at Florida’s Fort Marion prison. His philosophy was to “elevate” American Indians to white standards through a process of forced acculturation that stripped them of their language, culture, and customs.

Government officials found the Carlisle model an appealing alternative to the costly military campaigns against Indians in the West. Within three decades of Carlisle’s opening, nearly 500 schools extended all the way to California. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) controlled 25 off-reservation boarding schools while churches ran 460 boarding and day schools on reservations with government funds.

Both BIA and church schools ran on bare-bones budgets, and large numbers of students died from starvation and disease because of inadequate food and medical care. School officials routinely forced children to do arduous work to raise money for staff salaries and “leased out” students during the summers to farm or work as domestics for white families. In addition to bringing in income, the hard labor prepared children to take their place in white society — the only one open to them — on the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder.

Physical hardship, however, was merely the backdrop to a systematic assault on Native culture. School staff sheared children’s hair, banned traditional clothing and customs, and forced children to worship as Christians. Eliminating Native languages — considered an obstacle to the “acculturation” process — was a top priority, and teachers devised an extensive repertoire of punishments for uncooperative children. “I was forced to eat an entire bar of soap for speaking my language,” says AIUSA activist Byron Wesley (Navajo).

The loss of language cut deep into the heart of the Native community. Recent efforts to restore Native languages hint at what was lost. Mona Recountre, of the South Dakota Crow Creek reservation, says that when her reservation began a Native language immersion program at its elementary school, social relationships within the school changed radically and teachers saw a decline in disciplinary problems. Recountre’s explanation is that the Dakota language creates community and respect by emphasizing kinship and relationships. The children now call their teachers “uncle” or “auntie” and “don’t think of them as authority figures,” says Recountre. “It’s a form of respect, and it’s a form of acknowledgment.”

Native scholars describe the destruction of their culture as a “soul wound,” from which Native Americans have not healed. Embedded deep within that wound is a pattern of sexual and physical abuse that began in the early years of the boarding school system. Joseph Gone describes a history of “unmonitored and unchecked physical and sexual aggression perpetrated by school officials against a vulnerable and institutionalized population.” Gone is one of many scholars contributing research to the Boarding School Healing Project.

Rampant sexual abuse at reservation schools continued until the end of the 1980s, in part because of pre-1990 loopholes in state and federal law mandating the reporting of allegations of child sexual abuse. In 1987 the FBI found evidence that John Boone, a teacher at the BIA-run Hopi day school in Arizona, had sexually abused as many as 142 boys from 1979 until his arrest in 1987. The principal failed to investigate a single abuse allegation. Boone, one of several BIA schoolteachers caught molesting children on reservations in the late 1980s, was convicted of child abuse, and he received a life sentence. Acting BIA chief William Ragsdale admitted that the agency had not been sufficiently responsive to allegations of sexual abuse, and he apologized to the Hopi tribe and others whose children BIA employees had abused.

The effects of the widespread sexual abuse in the schools continue to ricochet through Native communities today. “We know that experiences of such violence are clearly correlated with posttraumatic reactions including social and psychological disruptions and breakdowns,” says Gone.

Dolphus, now director of the South Dakota Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, sees boarding school policies as the central route through which sexual abuse became entrenched in Native communities, as many victims became molesters themselves. Hopi tribe members testified at a 1989 Senate hearing that some of Boone’s victims had become sex abusers; others had become suicidal or alcoholic.

The abuse has dealt repeated blows to the traditional social structure of Indian communities. Before colonization, Native women generally enjoyed high status, according to scholars, and violence against women, children, and elders was virtually non-existent. Today, sexual abuse and violence have reached epidemic proportions in Native communities, along with alcoholism and suicide. By the end of the 1990s, the sexual assault rate among Native Americans was three-and-a-half times higher than for any other ethnic group in the U.S., according to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Alcoholism in Native communities is currently six times higher than the national average. Researchers are just beginning to establish quantitative links between these epidemic rates and the legacy of boarding schools.

A more complete history of the abuses endured by Native American children exists in the accounts of survivors of Canadian “residential schools.” Canada imported the U.S. boarding school model in the 1880s and maintained it well into the 1970s — four decades after the United States ended its stated policy of forced enrollment. Abuses in Canadian schools are much better documented because survivors of Canadian schools are more numerous, younger, and generally more willing to talk about their experiences.

A 2001 report by the Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada documents the responsibility of the Roman Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the federal government in the deaths of more than 50,000 Native children in the Canadian residential school system. (SERIAL KILLERS? I think these church officials were and should have been indicted… Trace)

The report says church officials killed children by beating, poisoning, electric shock, starvation, prolonged exposure to sub-zero cold while naked, and medical experimentation, including the removal of organs and radiation exposure. In 1928 Alberta passed legislation allowing school officials to forcibly sterilize Native girls; British Columbia followed suit in 1933. There is no accurate toll of forced sterilizations because hospital staff destroyed records in 1995 after police launched an investigation. But according to the testimony of a nurse in Alberta, doctors sterilized entire groups of Native children when they reached puberty. The report also says that Canadian clergy, police, and business and government officials “rented out” children from residential schools to pedophile rings.

The consequences of sexual abuse can be devastating. “Of the first 29 men who publicly disclosed sexual abuse in Canadian residential schools, 22 committed suicide,” says Gerry Oleman, a counselor to residential school survivors in British Columbia.

Randy Fred (Tsehaht First Nation), a 47-year-old survivor, told the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, “We were kids when we were raped and victimized. All the plaintiffs I’ve talked with have attempted suicide. I attempted suicide twice, when I was 19 and again when I was 20. We all suffered from alcohol abuse, drug abuse. Looking at the lists of students [abused in the school], at least half the guys are dead.”

The Truth Commission report says that the grounds of several schools contain unmarked graveyards of murdered school children, including babies born to Native girls raped by priests and other church officials in the school. Thousands of survivors and relatives have filed lawsuits against Canadian churches and governments since the 1990s, with the costs of settlements estimated at more than $1 billion. Many cases are still working their way through the court system.

While some Canadian churches have launched reconciliation programs, U.S. churches have been largely silent. Natives of this country have also been less aggressive in pursuing lawsuits. Attorney Tonya Gonnella-Frichner (Onondaga) says that the combination of statutes of limitations, lack of documentation, and the conservative makeup of the current U.S. Supreme Court make lawsuits a difficult and risky strategy.

Nonetheless, six members of the Sioux Nation who say they were physically and sexually abused in government-run boarding schools filed a class-action lawsuit this April against the United States for $25 billion on behalf of hundreds of thousands of mistreated Native Americans. Sherwyn Zephier was a student at a school run from 1948 to 1975 by St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Marty, S.D.: “I was tortured in the middle of the night. They would whip us with boards and sometimes with straps,” he recalled in Los Angeles at an April press conference to launch the suit.

Adele Zephier, Sherwyn’s sister, said, “I was molested there by a priest and watched other girls” and then broke down crying. Lawyers have interviewed nearly 1,000 alleged victims in South Dakota alone.

Native activists within church denominations are also pushing for resolutions that address boarding school abuses. This July the first such resolution will go before the United Church of Christ, demanding that the church begin a process of reconciliation with Native communities. Activists also point out that while the mass abductions ended with the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), doctors, lawyers, and social workers were still removing thousands of children from their families well into the 1970s. Even today, “Indian parents continue to consent to adoptions after being persuaded by ‘professionals’ who promise that their child will fare better in a white, middle-class family,” according to a report by Lisa Poupart for the Crime and Social Justice Associates.

Although there is disagreement in Native communities about how to approach the past, most agree that the first step is documentation. It is crucial that this history be exposed, says Dolphus. “When the elders who were abused in these schools have the chance to heal, then the younger generation will begin to heal too.”

Members of the Boarding School Healing Project say that current levels of violence and dysfunction in Native communities result from human rights abuses perpetrated by state policy. In addition to setting up hotlines and healing services for survivors, this broad coalition is using a human rights framework to demand accountability from Washington and churches.

While this project is Herculean in its scope, its success could be critical to the healing of indigenous nations from both contemporary and historical human rights abuses. Native communities, the project’s founders hope, will begin to view the abuse as the consequence of human rights violations perpetrated by church and state rather than as an issue of community dysfunction and individual failings.

And for individuals, overcoming the silence and the stigma of abuse in Native communities can lead to breakthroughs: “There was an experience that caused me to be damaged,” said boarding school survivor Sammy Toineeta. “I finally realized that there wasn’t something wrong with me.”

SOURCE

Andrea Smith (Cherokee) is interim coordinator for the Boarding School Healing Project and a Bunche Fellow coordinating AIUSA’s research project on Sexual Violence and American Indian women.

A Deafening Silence On Aboriginal Issues #TRC

Over the weekend, author and university administrator Wab Kinew, Rwandan genocide survivor Eloge Butera, Broadbent Institute director Jonathan Sas and 19 honorary witnesses to the TRC issued a call to action, urging Canadians to “make reconciliation an election issue.” Kinew told Maclean’s he remembers NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau “immediately in front of news cameras” after the tabling of the TRC report. “When it was politically expedient to jump on the stories of my father, of our ancestors, I remember them being there.”

“At this late stage, it will certainly be difficult to insert reconciliation into the conversation,” says Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “Time’s a-wasting; and the opportunity has almost passed.

“The reality is the federal government has been largely responsible for causing this harm, and the chaos that results lies in their lap. And to a certain extent, they are a bit confused—looking for direction, continuing to dither while they try to gauge the public appetite.”

KEEP READING: A Deafening Silence On Aboriginal Issues

Witness Blanket: Carey Newman

A small collection of contributed material Master Carver Carey Newman used to create a large-scale six-foot tall and 30-feet wide red cedar installation titled Witness Blanket, designed using items reclaimed from residential schools, churches, government buildings and other traditional structures. ( Photo: CHAD HIPOLITO/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Master Carver Carey Newman holds a prototype 3×3 feet red cedar base that will be used as a template for Witness Blanket. (CHAD HIPOLITO/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/arts-video/video-artist-confronts-the-painful-legacy-of-residential-schools-in-witness-blanket/article14749585/?videoembed=true

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/news-video/video-residential-school-survivors-surprised-by-exhibit/article23171094/?videoembed=true

Headlines: trafficking, adoption, Indian Child Welfare

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, the House of Representatives unanimously approved H.R. 4980, the “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.” This bipartisan, bicameral bill reflects agreements reached between House and Senate leaders on three separate bills designed to prevent sex trafficking of children in foster care, increase adoptions from foster care, and increase child support collections for families, among other purposes.

House Committee on Ways and Means sealRead the full press release at Chairman Dave Camp’s website.

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Alaska Supreme Court sides with Interior tribe in child custody, sovereignty case

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled Friday in support of an Interior tribal court in a child custody and tribal sovereignty Native American Rights Fund logocase that was contested by Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration.

The case, Simmonds v. Parks, started almost six years ago as a custody dispute in the Village of Minto, a town of 200 people about 130 road miles northwest of Fairbanks.

Read the full article at the NewsMiner.com website.

Learn more about the case at the Native American Rights Fund website.

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Why Are These Indian Children Being Torn Away From Their Homes?

Imagine entering family court and knowing that what’s at stake is the person you hold most dear – your child. Now imagine having a judge tell you that he’s removing your child from your custody, from your home. When you ask him why, the judge’s replies, “I honestly can’t tell you.” The judge then signs an order giving custody of your son to Social Services.

You might think that such a court proceeding could never happen in the United States – but you’d be wrong.

Read the full article by Stephen Pevar at the ACLU website.

 

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SOURCE

The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes (NRC4Tribes) is one of the new resource centers within the Children’s Bureau Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) National Network. The NRC4Tribes joins the Children’s Bureau’s Child Welfare Training and Technical Assistance Network (T/TANetwork) which is designed to improve child welfare systems and to support States and Tribes in achieving sustainable, systemic change that results in greater safety, permanency, and well-being for children, youth, and families.

The Children’s Bureau is located within the Administration for Children,Youth and Families (ACF) of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Tribes continue to be able to access training and technical assistance (T/TA) through various national resources centers within the Children’s Bureau national T/TA Network.The NRC for Tribes is the focal point for coordinated and culturally competent child welfare T/TA for Tribes within theT/TA Network.The NRC4Tribes works collaboratively with Tribes and the T/TA Network to assist Tribes in the enhancement of child welfare services and the promotion of safety, permanency and well-being for American Indian/Alaska Native children and families.

STORY:

“Those are Our People and That’s our Family” written by Erika Bjorum

August 7, 2014

“Those are Our People and That’s our Family”, written by Erika Bjorum, who conducted a graduate research project with Maine-Wabanaki REACH, is published in the latest edition of Journal of Public Child Welfare. Her study examined the perspectives of Wabanaki community members and child welfare staff on state child welfare involvement in Wabanaki communities.

In the acknowledgements, Erika states, “The author gratefully acknowledges the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Convening Group and the staff from the Muskie School of Public Service for their partnership in developing and carrying out this project, as well as their valuable contributions to the editing process.”

Not Forgive: Why anger is necessary to heal

Is forgiveness always necessary, or even possible?

Many people believe that forgiveness is necessary if we are to put the past behind us and move on. Twelve-step programs teach the philosophy that we should forgive others because they, like us, were doing the best they could at the time. Many religions teach that forgiveness is the only fair and compassionate thing to do, since we have all sinned and we have all hurt others. Many psychotherapists also believe that forgiveness is necessary in order to heal. But as wise as spiritual leaders and therapists are concerning the importance of forgiveness, sometimes forgiveness is not possible. Unfortunately, we have not been given permission to choose not to forgive. It is my belief that forgiveness is not necessary for healing, and in some cases may not be the healthiest thing to do. This is especially true when forgiving is tantamount to giving permission to hurt you again.

Sometimes we need to hold onto the very thing that prevents us from forgiving in order to cope and survive — angerAnger can be a powerful motivator, especially for those who have been victimized. Anger can help us rise above the victimization and to fight our way back from the most devastating of traumas. For example, research shows that female victims of rape who allowed themselves to express their rage about being raped were able to recover from the trauma much better than those who never got angry. It is often anger that motivates a victim to continue facing the pain.

In the case of child sexual abuse, it is often anger that helps victims feel separate from their abuser (victims of incest, in particular, often feel too enmeshed with their abuser) since anger separates us from others. Victims also need their anger in order to ward off feelings of shame and guilt (victims of all forms of abuse, especially sexual abuse, tend to blame themselves for their own victimization).

Hopefully, there will come a time when a victim no longer needs her anger. When this happens she or he will be more able to look at forgiveness as a viable option. But each person needs to come to this point on his or her own and not be pressured to forgive because it is the “politically correct” thing to do.

From Lara: Soon I will be writing about a recent conference at Yale about Indigenous Slavery and Incarceration. One of the speakers mentioned forgiveness and that it is NOT what we want or need as Indian People. That would be ridiculous considering the history of atrocities and abuses that have happened to First Nations and American Indians in the name of Christianity and by the Nations Builders who perpetuated these crimes against our humanity and still do. The denial of our history is systemic; genocide and colonialism around the world is the cause of continued anger. Rightly so.

I have anger about many things. I am not going to forgive Human Trafficking or worldwide genocide or Slavery… my concern is we end it, not forgive it.

haplotypes and migrations

Mitochondrial DNA haplotypes for dummies. | Mathilda's Anthropology Blog.

I wonder seriously about this science knowing what I know now about Human Trafficking and the Atlantic Slave Trade and migrations. I just attended a conference at Yale that discussed this intensely. One thing: Every slave ship carried Indigenous People from the Americas to Europe, Africa, France and beyond. This would skew the results of what is a European blood or DNA since mixing of people happened in the 1600s and after, which makes this science less than exact as to true origins. Consider Indigenous people populated Europe in ways most people do not consider. This was before measuring of blood. So what do we truly know about slavery and First Nations and their migrations since they were not recorded in journals as other explorers? It’s something that needs much more investigation and truth!

Who is to say that South America was developed and a civilization prior to Egypt – you’d have to read “1491” and other books about many new theories about the beginning of humans.

What was amazing to me – Native scholars are digging up records and hidden documents about colonial New England that will put most of our so-called “history” in the trash heap.

Who wrote history? The conqueror. Why write their accounts in books? Hiding the truth about conquest and Manifest Destiny and making themselves the “discoverer” which irks me to no end….Trace/Lara

Read this blog: http://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/mitochondrial-dna-haplotypes-for-dummies/

First Nations Helps Ensure the “Dream”

Sneak Preview of TV Spots That Will Air in November and December!

You can get a “sneak preview” of two new television spots for First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) that will begin airing Nov. 17 on Comcast/Xfinity cable TV systems in 13 markets around the United States.

The previews are available at this link: http://www.firstnations.org/psa/psa.html

The Comcast Foundation and Comcast provided First Nations with a $20,000 grant to produce the video public service advertisements (PSAs), plus $1 million worth of airtime to broadcast the PSAs. Between Nov. 17, 2013, and Dec. 15, 2013, the 30-second spots will appear numerous times on various cable channels in 13 of Comcast’s market areas in the U.S. Those markets are:

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Houston, Texas
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Northern New Jersey
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Rockville, Maryland
  • San Francisco, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Washington, D.C.

First Nations is headquartered in Longmont, Colorado, near Denver, and serves Native American communities throughout the United States. First Nations sincerely thanks Santo Domingo Pueblo and the Institute of American Indian Arts, both in New Mexico, for their assistance in producing these PSAs.

Canada crimes against First Nations was genocide

First Nations children hold letters spelling out ‘goodbye’ at Fort Simpson Indian Residential School in 1922. (J.F. MORAN/LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA)

By PHIL FONTAINE AND BERNIE FARBER

Special to The Globe and Mail

On Monday, Oct. 14, we have the unique and historic opportunity to meet with Professor James Anaya, the Special United Nations Rapporteur for Indigenous People. It is our conviction that Canada’s history with First Nations people was not just dark and brutal, but in fact constituted a “genocide” as defined by the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide. Unresolved issues regarding genocide can have the effect of holding back real progress in economic development in any community.

Genocides rarely emerge fully formed from the womb of evil. They typically evolve in a stepwise fashion over time, as one crime leads to another and another.

The Holocaust is the undisputed genocide of all genocides, and it has been argued passionately by many historians that no other dark period in human history quite compares to it. Although qualitatively true in some aspects, modern historians no longer need to rely on shades of darkness in order to analyze genocide.

The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) was adopted on Dec. 9, 1948. It gives a very clear definition of what is and what is not a genocide. Stated another way, since 1948, social scientists have had the necessary tools to determine if genocide has occurred. It should also be pointed out that under the CPPCG, the intention to commit genocide is itself a crime, and not just the act of genocide.

It’s clear that Canada’s first prime minister Sir John A. MacDonald’s policy of starving First Nations to death in order to make way for the western expansion of European settlers meets the criteria of genocide under the CPPCG.

Similarly, the entire residential school system also passes the genocide test, in particular if you consider the fact that the Department of Indian Affairs, headed by Duncan Campbell Scott, deliberately ignored the recommendations of Peter Bryce, Canada’s first Chief Medical Officer, regarding the spread of tuberculosis in the schools. Such willful disregard for the basic principles of public health constitutes an act of genocide by omission, if not deliberate commission.

Finally, we have the very recent and painful memory of forced removal of First Nations children from their families by Indian Agents which occurred in the 1960s, also known by the popular term “Sixties Scoop.” This is an act of genocide that clearly meets the CPPCG test, and also fell outside of the residential school system.

Our conviction is that Canadian policy over more than 100 years can be defined as a genocide of First Nations under the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.

We hold that until Canada as represented by its government engages in a national conversation about our historical treatment of the First Nations; until we come to grips with the fact that we used racism, bigotry and discrimination as a tool to not only assimilate First Nations into the Canadian polity, but engaged in a deliberate policy of genocide both cultural and physical; we will never heal.

The fact that Canada’s Aboriginal peoples have not been wiped out, and are indeed growing in numbers, is not proof that genocide never occurred, as some would have us believe. The historical and psychological reality of genocide among our Aboriginal communities is very much alive and a part of living memory. The sooner we recognize this truth, the sooner both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians will be able to heal from our shared traumas.

This is adapted from a letter to the United Nations Rapporteur for Indigenous People delivered by Phil Fontaine, a former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Bernie Farber, senior vice-president of Gemini Power Corporation and former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress. It is also signed by Elder Fred Kelly, a spiritual elder and member of the AFN Council of Elders, and Dr. Michael Dan, president of gemini Power Corporation.

An estimated 16,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families as a result of the 60’s Scoop

An estimated 16,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families as a result of the 60’s Scoop.

 

“We are still here”… Watch this video… Trace/Lara

Benjamin Bratt on Native community, mothers