Charles Eastman and the Reformers | I’m reading | The Big Isms

By Lara Trace

I hope you are all enjoying the winter … (I’m FREEZING HERE) … and do avoid politics as much as you can. (yeah, sure… kidding)

My research project on the reformers in Indian Country (and Dr. TA Bland) must take more of my time so please excuse my absence from blogging.  Still I will have some history to curate and share of course…(see my note below)

Here’s a sample of what I am working on:

   Probably the best known American Indian reformer was Charles Eastman, a Santee Sioux. After being sent to a Christian boarding school like most of the reformers, Eastman “blazed a path of distinction” through an Ivy League college and then through medical school. He was an agency physician at Pine Ridge, S.D., had a private medical practice in Minnesota and co-founded the Society of American Indians, which published the Quarterly Journal, the main vehicle for American Indian commentary.  Eastman also wrote nine books, including a popular and influential autobiography.    “His books brought traditional Native American culture before a broad non-Indian audience and played a crucial role in cultivating a sympathetic audience for Native concerns,” Hoxie wrote in the book, “Talking Back to Civilization: Indian Voices From the Progressive Era.”  In addition to criticizing the actions and policies of the Indian Office and other federal programs, Eastman and his peers proposed many alternatives for bringing Indians to “civilization.”

The Reformer Charles Eastman

Charles Alexander Eastman was a Santee Dakota physician educated at Boston University, writer, national lecturer, and reformer. In the early 20th century, he was “one of the most prolific authors and speakers on Sioux ethnohistory and American Indian affairs.” 

Charles Eastman and his wife separated in August 1921, possibly because of opposing views regarding the best future for American Indians.  Elaine Goodale Eastman stressed total assimilation of Native Americans into white society, while Eastman favored a type of cultural pluralism in which Indians would interact with white society while retaining their Indian identity, beliefs and customs. (this is only one theory on why they separated…)

More at Wikipedia

I’m reading

During 49 of the 72 years between 1789 – 1861 the Presidents were Southerners.  All of them were slave holders.  Two thirds of the Speakers of the House and President pro tem of the Senate were Southerners.  At all times prior to 1861 the majority of the Supreme Court were of Southern origin.  Six of the eight Supreme Court Justices appointed by the Tennessean Andrew Jackson (The Indian Killer) and his hand-picked successor were Southerners, including Justice Roger Taney, author of the notorious Dred Scott decision.

Taming the Antislavery Revolution
James Oakes, Dec. 11, 2017, Jacobin
Review of Adam I. P. Smith, The Stormy Present: Conservatism and the Problem of Slavery in Northern Politics, 1846-1865 (Chapel Hill, 2017)

By any reasonable standard, the violent overthrow of the largest, wealthiest slave society on earth ought to qualify as a revolution. Four million slaves were liberated during the American Civil War and with that the labor system of the South was radically transformed. Abolition was immediate and uncompensated. The “Slave Power” was overthrown, ending decades in which the South held disproportionate sway over the federal government. The Constitution was fundamentally restructured by three amendments that abolished slavery, redefined citizenship, banned racial discrimination in voting, and forever altered the relationship between the federal government and the states. The revolution secured the triumph of wage labor, paving the way for the Industrial Revolution of the late nineteenth century and with it a Gilded Age of capitalist plutocracy.

How did this happen? Ask a random group of American historians what caused the Civil War and they’re likely to reply in unison, “slavery.” Push them to elaborate and they’ll probably cite the southern secessionists who were as clear as could be that they were leaving the Union to protect slavery.  But protect it from what? Was the North actually threatening slavery? Ask those questions and the same historians are likely to break out into rival and occasionally angry camps. On one side are those who insist that when the war began, northerners had no meaningful antislavery convictions to speak of. Emancipation was forced on an unwilling North and a reluctant Abraham Lincoln, either by the slaves themselves or by the exigencies of war. A few years back one historian of the secession crisis actually claimed that the slaves were freed “inadvertently.”

On the other side are those who see the rise of antislavery politics, culminating in the triumph of the Republican Party, as a major cause of the Civil War. Different historians stress different aspects of this  process, but there is widespread agreement that antislavery politics not only split the nation, it also divided the North. Republicans ended up fighting a two-front war — against the South, obviously, but also against northern Democrats. This conflict within the North was epitomized in the famous series of debates between Abraham Lincoln and his Democratic rival Stephen Douglas. continue…



We picture archives as airtight troves of information. But with redactions, codes, and scribbles, there are plenty of ways for mystery to wriggle in.


Check out the Intercept podcast – it will blow your mind too!
I had other blogs going but now they are done/gone/history.  (Some were for my mental well being)

Starting in January, I’ll be posting just once a month. I have more work to do.


I’ll be starting a new website: The Big Isms (facing racism and sexism) in January 2018 (an offshoot of THE MIX) :

Beyond Mascots and Casinos #NativeLivesMatter

By Trace

This is not a media bash or “poverty porn.” This story reflects how things are… As sovereigns, it’s up to the tribes to decide what to tackle, fix or change. Have a good weekend everyone! XOX

13 Issues Facing Native People Beyond Mascots And Casinos

These are the problems you’re not hearing enough about.

Most of the recent headlines about indigenous Americans have had to do with a certain D.C. football team, or a surpassingly dumb Adam Sandler movie, or casinos of the kind operated by the fictional Ugaya tribe on “House of Cards.” And we’re not saying these issues don’t matter. But beyond the slot machines, the movie sets and the football fields, there are other problems facing Native communities — insidious, systemic, life-or-death problems; the kinds of problems it takes years and votes and marches to resolve — that aren’t getting nearly as much attention.

There are 567 tribes, including 229 Alaska Native communities, currently recognized by the federal government. The Bureau of Indian Affairs — the primary federal agency in charge of relations with indigenous communities — is also considering extending federal status to Native Hawaiians.

Each of the federally recognized tribes is a nation unto itself — sovereign, self-determining and self-governing — that maintains a government-to-government relationship with the United States. In addition, the rights of all indigenous peoples, including Native Hawaiians, have been affirmed in a 2007 United Nations declaration. Each indigenous nation has a distinct history, language and culture. While many face concerns that are specific to their government, state, or region, there are certain issues that affect all Native communities throughout the United States — from Hawaii to Maine, and Alaska to Florida.

Here are 13 such issues that you probably aren’t hearing enough about.

Native Americans face issues of mass incarceration and policing.

Thanks in large part to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has insisted that demands for justice and equality for the black community remain part of the national conversation, there is now growing momentum to address the issues of policing and mass incarceration. But while the brutalization of black Americans at the hands of police, and their maltreatment within the criminal justice system, have garnered national headlines, similar injustices against Native Americans have gone largely unreported.

Earlier this month, Paul Castaway, a mentally ill Rosebud Sioux tribal citizen, was shot and killed by Denver police. His death led to protests in the Denver Native community, and has shed light on the shocking rate at which police kill Native Americans — who account for less than 1 percent of the national population, but who make up nearly 2 percent of all police killings, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Native peoples are also disproportionately affected by mass incarceration. In states with significant Native populations, Native Americans are wildly overrepresented in the criminal justice system. In South Dakota, for example, Native Americans make up 9 percent of the total population, but 29 percent of the prison population. In Alaska, Native people account for 15 percent of the total population and 38 percent of the prison population. And Native Hawaiians are only 10 percent of the state’s population, but 39 percent of the incarcerated population.

The issue of mass incarceration in Native communities is complicated by overlapping and unresolved conflicts between tribal, federal and state jurisdictions. If a crime is thought to have occurred on a Native reservation or within a Native community, it’s not always clear which agency is going to be in charge of prosecution. That’s determined by a complex set of factors, including the severity of the charges and the races of the victims and alleged perpetrators. The overlapping jurisdictions of federal and tribal sovereignty also mean that Indians who commit crimes on tribal lands can be punished twice for the same offense: once under federal jurisdiction and again in tribal court. Lastly, aside from cases of domestic violence, tribal courts are not allowed to try major crimes as defined under the Major Crimes Act. This means that suspects in most felony cases are prosecuted in federal courts, where sentencing tends to be more severe.

In February, building off the momentum of Black Lives Matter, the Lakota Peoples’ Law Project released its “Native Lives Matter” report, which gives an overview of the inequities faced by Native Americans in the criminal justice system. The report, like the voices of Native peoples in general, has been largely ignored in the growing national conversation about policing and criminal justice reform.

Native communities are often impoverished and jobless.

Native peoples suffer from high rates of poverty and unemployment. Seventeen percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and 27 percent of all self-identified Native Americans and Alaska Natives live in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

However, the national figure distorts the prevalence of poverty on Indian reservations and in Alaska Native communities, where 22 percent of Native people live. In 2012, three of the five poorest counties in the U.S., and five of the top 10, encompassed Sioux reservations in North and South Dakota.

Last year, President Barack Obama visited the Standing Rock Sioux on the border of North and South Dakota, where the poverty rate is 43.2 percent — almost three times the national average. The unemployment rate on the Standing Rock Reservation was over 60 percent as of 2014.

The federal government is still stripping Native people of their land.

The U.S. was built on land taken from Indian nations, and indigenous peoples across the country are still living with the reality of dispossession. Right now, members of the San Carlos Apache Nation in Arizona are fighting the sale of their sacred Oak Flat site to foreign mining conglomerates.

The Kanaka Maoli in Hawaii are fighting to protect their sacred mountain Mauna Kea from the construction of a 30-meter, $1.4 billion telescope. Many Hawaiians are now questioning the legality of the state’s annexation, which took place after a group of business interests, most of them American, overthrew of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893.

And in the heartland, the Great Sioux Nation has refused a $1.3 billion settlement as payment for the government’s illegal seizure of their sacred Black Hills in South Dakota in 1877. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are etched into the Black Hills at Mount Rushmore.

Exploitation of natural resources threatens Native communities.

Throughout the history of North American settlement, the territorial dispossession of indigenous peoples has gone hand in hand with natural resource exploitation. In the 1800s, Indian nations in the West clashed with miners pouring into their territories in search of gold.

Today, from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to the Tar Sands in northeastern Alberta, Canada, Indian nations often stand on the front lines of opposition to hydraulic fracturing and pipelines that pump oil out of indigenous communities — violating treaty rights, threatening the environment and contributing to climate change in the process.

Other groups, however, such as the Ute Tribe in Utah and the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota, have tried to make the most out of the economic opportunities presented by oil and natural gas extraction. For the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, the rush to cash in on oil has resulted in a mess of inadequate regulation and corruption — including allegations of murder for hire.

Violence against women and children is especially prevalent in Native communities.

Native American communities — and particularly Native women and children — suffer from an epidemic of violence. Native women are 3.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted in their life than women of other races. Twenty-two percent of Native children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder — a rate of PTSD equal to that found among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Often, this violence comes from outside the community. The nonprofit Mending the Sacred Hoop, citing 1990s data from the CDC and the Department of Justice, reports that “over 80% of violence experienced by Native Americans is committed by persons not of the same race,” a rate “substantially higher than for whites or blacks.”

However, some progress has been made. This year, despite staunch GOP opposition, tribes won the right to prosecute non-Native men who commit crimes of domestic violence or dating violence or who violate orders of protection against Native women on Indian reservations. Tribes have continued to push for control over justice systems on sovereign Indian land, in spite of resistance from state, local and federal lawmakers and law enforcement authorities.

The education system is failing Native students.

Only 51 percent of Native Americans in the class of 2010 graduated high school. Native Hawaiians fare better, but still underperform compared to their peers — as best we can tell from the limited data, anyway. In the mid-’00s, about 70 percent of Native Hawaiians attending Hawaiian public schools graduated in four years, as compared to 78 percent of students statewide.

For Native Americans, at least, these disparities are in large part the result of inadequate federal funding, to the point where some schools on Indian reservations are deteriorated and structurally dangerous.

Native families live in overcrowded, poor-quality housing.

Forty percent of Native Americans who live on reservations are in substandard housing. One-third of homes are overcrowded, and less than 16 percent have indoor plumbing. Housing on reservations is funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered and augmented by tribes, and has been historically underfunded, despite treaties and the trust responsibility of the federal government.

Native patients receive inadequate health care.

Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians face massive disparities in health as compared to the general population, suffering from high rates of diabetes, obesity, substance abuse and HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Although Native Americans and Alaska Natives are eligible to receive health care through Indian Health Services, nearly one in three are uninsured. Like many other federal agencies that serve Native people, IHS has historically been underfunded. Local IHS facilities often lack basic services like emergency contraception, in some cases forcing Native patients to travel hundreds of miles for treatment elsewhere.

There’s a dearth of capital and financial institutions in Native communities.

Indian nations do not own their reservation lands. Rather, the lands are held in trust by the federal government. This prevents Native Americans who live on reservations from leveraging their assets for loans, making it difficult for them to start businesses or promote economic growth in the area.

Compounding this problem, 14.5 percent of Native Americans are unbanked, and therefore lack the basic financial resources needed for economic prosperity.

Native Americans have the right to vote… but that’s not always enough.

Native Americans and Alaska Natives are often unable to vote because there are no polling places anywhere near them. Some communities, such as the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada and the Goshute Reservation in Utah, are located more than 100 miles from the nearest polling place.

These problems are compounded by high rates of illiteracy in some rural Native communities, such as the Yup’ik in Alaska, who primarily speak and read their native language because public education was not available in their region until the 1980s.

There is an epidemic of youth suicide in Native communities.

Suicide is the second most common cause of death for Native youth ages 15 to 24 — two and a half times the national rate for that age group. In February, following a rash of suicides, the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota declared a state of emergency.

Native languages are dying, and the U.S. government is doing little to help.

Native languages are struggling to survive in the United States, with 130 “at risk,” according to UNESCO, and another 74 “critically endangered.” While some communities, such as the Native Hawaiians, the Anishinaabe and the Navajo, have had success preserving and revitalizing their languages, Native communities face obstacles from the testing and curriculum requirements of No Child Left Behind. And educators who want to teach young people about Native languages and cultures have to contend with a general lack of funding and resources.

Many Native communities do not have their rights recognized by the federal government.

Native Hawaiians, and members of many other Native communities throughout the U.S., have never received federal recognition of their rights as Native peoples. This deprives them of basic services, and even of the limited rights of self-governance available to other Native communities. Many tribes spend decades wading through Bureau of Indian Affairs paperwork, only to lose their petitions for recognition.

Recently, however, the Obama administration announced that it would be streamlining the federal recognition process, making it easier for unrecognized Indian nations to secure their rights under the law.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


Author Peter Matthiessen, Chronicler of Leonard Peltier, Walks On

Associated Press
Author Peter Matthiessen, who championed the story of Leonard Peltier and Indian country in his work, walked on due to leukemia at age 86 on Saturday April 5, 2014.

Author Peter Matthiessen was a champion of Indian rights, not least of all for his controversial In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI’s War on the American Indian Movement (Viking Press, 1991) and the prophetic Indian Country (Viking Press, 1984).

But as the writer and the teacher of Zen Buddhism would no doubt tell us, it was truth he had been championing all along. And he did so with rigor until the very end. On April 5, 2014, when Matthiessen walked on at age 86 due to leukemia, his latest book—which he himself had said could be his “last word”—was about to be released. The “haunting and bewildering” novel In Paradise, as the Washington Post described it, does no less as it “ventures to Auschwitz to confront the Holocaust.”

The novel grew out of the author’s week at the Nazi death camp on a Zen retreat designed for participants to pay homage, pray and meditate in memory of the victims who had perished there. And he felt that the truths that emerged from the experience could only be presented in a fictionalized format.

Not so, of course, with his works that focused on Natives. The truth Matthiessen unearthed was hard-hitting enough that one of the books, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, was in litigation for eight years while those who did not like some of what he had to say waged a legal battle to keep it off bookstore shelves. In the end, though, the detailed examination of the American Indian Movement and the trial of Leonard Peltier that was shown by Matthiessen to be “based on widespread fraud and government misconduct,” as The New York Times noted in its review back in 1983, persevered.

“In the Spirit of Crazy Horse is one of those rare books that permanently change one’s consciousness about important, yet neglected, facets of our history,” wrote reviewer Alan M. Dershowitz in The New York Times. It is an effort that is still under way today as Peltier, given consecutive life sentences after his 1977 murder conviction on the killing of two FBI agents, remains in prison.

Soon after that would come Indian Country, equally scathing in its indictment of the environmental, cultural and psychological damage that centuries of European occupation have wrought. Matthiessen spent time with the Miccosukee Seminoles in Florida; the Hopi and Navajo in Arizona; the Eastern Cherokee in Tennessee and North Carolina, the Mohawk on the St. Lawrence River in New York; the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow and Wind River Shoshone, members of the Black Hills Alliance in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota; and California tribes including the Chumash, Yurok, Karuk, Pit River Nation, Western Shoshone and Paiute. The resulting book provides insight not only into the hurt being inflicted on Turtle Island’s First Peoples but also the injury that those who are attempting to eradicate them inflict on themselves.The author of 33 books—the only writer ever to win the National Book Award for both fiction and nonfiction—was profiled in an article in The New York Times Magazine printed just a couple of days before his death. “Peter Matthiessen’s Homegoing” does not discuss his connection with American Indians, though it does mention his reporting on the infringements upon Indigenous People’s lands and the environment in general, worldwide, and alludes to the folly of continuing along that path. Matthiessen’s words would seem to be common sense, yet the same battles are still being fought today.

“It isn’t enough to admire Indian teachings; we need them,” he wrote in the introduction to Indian Country. “We belong to this earth, it does not belong to us; it cares for us, and we must care for it. If our time on earth is to endure, we must love the earth in the strong, unsentimental way of traditional peoples, not seeking to exploit but to live in balance with the natural world. When modern man has regained his reverence for land and life, then the lost Paradise, the Golden Age in the race memories of all peoples will come again, and all men will be ‘in Dios,’ people of God.”



Disenrollment is not indigenous to Native America

(c)Marty Two Bulls

An Essay on the Federal Origins of Disenrollment

March 6, 2014

Disenrollment is not indigenous to Native America.  It is a creature of the United States.

The origins of disenrollment are traced to the United States’ paternalistic assimilation policies of the 1930s.  In 1934 the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act (“IRA”), wherein the federal government took an extremely active role in framing tribal membership rules.  The IRA contained a definition of who would be recognized as an indigenous person by the federal government: The individual must be a descendant of a member residing on any reservation as of June 1, 1934, or a person “of one-half or more Indian Blood.”  25 U.S.C. § 476.

The United States’ intent was to limit membership “to persons who reasonably can be expected to participate in tribal relations and affairs.”   Office of Indian Affairs, U.S. Dep’t of the Interior, Circular No. 3123 (1935), reprinted in 2 Am. Indian Policy Review Comm’n, 94th Cong., Task Force No. 9 Final Report app. at 334 (Comm. Print 1977).  The IRA also urged tribes to adopt a constitution and included a boilerplate that tribes were encouraged to adopt.  And because tribal constitutions were subject to federal approval, the IRA definition of “Indian,” including its blood quantum requirement or some variation thereof, as well as concepts of “disenrollment,” found their way into most tribal constitutions, even those that did not adopt the boilerplate IRA constitution.

In fact, even those tribes that opted to forego adopting a constitution were often persuaded to adopt these concepts somewhere in their organic law as a “consequence of the [federal government]’s control over federal services and tribal monies.”  Suzianne D. Painter-Thorne, If You Build It, They Will Come: Preserving Tribal Sovereignty in the Face of Indian Casinos and the New Premium on Tribal Membership, 14 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 311, 341 (2010).

Thus, “while it is true that membership in an Indian tribe [wa]s for the tribe to decide, that principle is dependent on and subordinate to the more basic principle that membership in an Indian tribe is a bilateral, political relationship” under which the United States had set the terms.  Margo S. Brownell, Who is an Indian? Searching for an Answer to the Question at the Core of Federal Indian Law, 34 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 275, 307 (2001).  The Indian Self-Determination Education Assistance Act of 1975, additionally required that tribal governments devise formal membership regulations, in order for the tribe to receive certain federal self-determination funding.  The United States suggested such regulations, which like its boilerplate IRA constitutions, included notions of blood quantum and disenrollment.

In all, for the last 80 years, the United States has set the terms of tribal membership, i.e., “Indian,” “blood quantum,” “membership,” “base rolls,” and of course “disenrollment.”  And for good measure, tribal acceptance and implementation of those unconscionable terms have been conditions precedent to self-determination funding since the 1970s.

Despite having invented disenrollment and foisted it upon tribal governments, the United States now suggests that it has no “business trampling on tribal sovereignty and self-governance” by interceding in tribal disenrollment disputes.  Or, as Nooksack Councilwoman Michelle Roberts — a member of a the Nooksack 306 — put it to Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn: “It is Frankenstein in Indian country that the United States has created, and now ignores.”

Galanda Broadman is an American Indian owned firm dedicated to advancing tribal legal rights and Indian business interests. The firm represents tribal governments, businesses and members in critical litigation, business and regulatory matters, especially in the areas of Indian Treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, taxation, commerce, personal injury, and human/civil rights.

Interesting Comment:

  1. The origins of concepts like “enrollment” and “blood quantum” can be traced back beyond the IRA era of the 1930’s to the signing of the treaties.

    Prior to removal to Reservations, strangers were often welcomed into tribes. They occasionally even became “blood brothers” and were encouraged to marry Native woman. If one was cast out of a tribe, it would typically have been due to behavior that threatened the very survival of the tribal family.

    With treaty negotiations, came a whole new set of rules. In Oregon Territory, land treaties with the United States all called for reserves to be set aside for “the Indians.” It was not until after the treaties were signed and the people were removed to their assigned Reservations that quarrels began to erupt over the definition of “Indian.” Early settlers commonly believed “anyone with one drop of Native blood should be considered an Indian.”

    On the Native side of the issue, people disagreed. Injice, Chief of the Umpqua, held the opinion that the term “Indian” in the treaty meant “full bloods” and argued that, “half breeds” and “outsiders” were not entitled to annuity payments. Other chiefs disagreed with him and ultimately, popular opinion overruled his position in the early 1860’s.

    As the years went by, other “enrollment” rules were established and dis-enrolling and re-enrolling became commonplace. By the early 1900’s, it was acceptable to leave the reservation for some length of time to work, but it was considered “abandonment” if the person did not keep in touch with friends/relatives on the Reservation or failed to acknowledge them as family. Native people defined “abandonment” as “throwing away your family” usually in favor of white society. A person successfully charged with abandonment was dropped from the roll. If a person left the Reservation to become an American citizen or make a land claim outside the Reservation, the person was dropped from the roll. However, if they returned to the Reservation, they were usually allowed to stay and their name was returned to the rolls.

    For a time, in the assimilation era of the 1920’s, children of a Native women (tribal members) married to “white men” and living off the reservation were dis-enrolled. This rule was eventually repealed and tribal government were able to reinstate the enrollment status of these children.

    By 1934, new federal policy was advanced by President Roosevelt in the form of the Indian Reorganization Act. Two versions of the Bill were presented to Native citizens in Oregon. After reading them carefully, many Native people were suspiciously because both versions seemed “too good to be true.” When asked to take a vote to determine whether they wanted the final version of the Howard-Wheeler Bill implemented on the Grand Ronde Reservation, 145 people out of 213 voters, were found in favor of the new program.

    To say that the language of the IRA was derived by the United States is true, in so much as the federal government wrote the Act and the policies that surround it. However, terms, such as “enrollment,” “blood quantum,” “membership,” and “Indian roll/census,” were not unfamiliar to Native people of this time period. These were terms that had evolved through a long government to government relationship with the United States that was not entirely one sided.

    Most Native people believe in tribal sovereignty and self-governance, and today, want nothing more than to build strong tribal nations without federal intervention. They feel very capable of developing good governmental structures and systems that reflect the will of the people and address their needs.

    In my opinion, “dis-enrollment” is a difficult and heartbreaking Native issue that should be addressed by Native people through their Native governments and according to established Native laws.

The Invisible Crisis in Indian Country: PTSD


corruptionThe invisible crisis killing Native American youth

By Troy A. Eid

Guest Commentary The Denver Post

Nearly two dozen military veterans kill themselves every day in the United States, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often to blame. President Obama has rightly demanded better care for returning vets who suffer from PTSD. He recently invited Wayne Telford — father of U.S. Air Force Sgt. Brooke Caffrey of Grand Junction, who committed suicide in 2012 after her fourth tour of duty — to attend the State of the Union address.
Yet there’s another massive PTSD tragedy in Colorado and across our country. It generates virtually zero public attention because it concerns what may be the most vulnerable group of our citizens: Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Because they’re exposed so frequently to violent crime, an astonishing one in four Native American juveniles currently suffers from PTSD.
That’s the same PTSD rate as returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq.
We’re losing an entire generation of Native American and Alaska Natives, the fastest-growing group of young people in the United States. According to the recently released findings of a presidential commission, Native juveniles experience violent crime rates up to 10 times the national average. One in three Native American girls will be raped in their lifetimes.
In Alaska, where services to Natives are limited or non-existent, sexual assault rates are much higher.
The National Indian Law and Order Commission visited Alaska communities where every single woman reported she’d been raped. When a 12-year old girl was raped and murdered in one village last year, it took Alaska troopers four days to respond.
The commission has concluded that the federal government is overwhelmingly to blame for this tragedy.
We recently reported to the president and Congress on the unacceptable violent crime rates afflicting the 566 federally recognized Native American tribes.
The commission spent the past three years in the field as part of a congressionally ordered inquiry — nine volunteers appointed by Republican and Democratic leaders alike. We unanimously concluded it’s time for Washington, D.C., to repeal outmoded laws and policies that keep tribes from protecting their citizens, especially their youth, and to let tribes make and enforce their own laws to protect all U.S. citizens on Indian lands.
Since the 1800s, federal officials have usurped tribes’ rights to make and enforce  criminal laws, or have enlisted some state governments to do so as an unfunded mandate. The result of this federal takeover of local governments: Average life expectancies on many Indian reservations, fueled by violence and suicide, are the lowest in the Western Hemisphere.
Is it any wonder that Native youth are killing themselves in numbers that exceed all other ethnic and racial groups?
Fortunately, there’s reason for hope. In places where the federal government provides great freedom so tribal police and courts can govern themselves, violent crime rates are being cut, youth and women are finally getting more support, and the civil rights of all U.S. citizens — Native and non-Native — are receiving greater respect.
Congress is now preparing for hearings on the commission’s report, “A Roadmap for Making Native America Safer.” The tragedy in Indian country will remain invisible only if the rest of us refuse to see it.

Troy A. Eid is a former U.S. attorney for Colorado.

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:

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.

Sheila Harjo: the cycle of abuse stops now

Despite the abuse that almost took her life, Harjo now declares, “I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor. I am the First Lady of The Seminole Nation. I’m a councilwoman. I now have the opportunity to share my story and let people know it can happen to anybody. It’s not drunks. It’s not the poor people. It’s not the uneducated. It’s anybody.”

Harjo is on a mission to protect abused women and their children and to change a culture that has ignored, even accepted, abuse. What she once hid from her closest friends and family members she now shares openly with the hope of helping others.

She was a divorcee and mother of two when she married a man she had known since she was 12 years old, someone she considered “always sweet, fun loving, smiling” and someone “everybody loved.” Together they had one child.

Less than three months after they were married, her husband slapped her. “It hurt so bad,” she recalls. “It was one of those white burning fire things. My face was just burning.” In disbelief, she walked from the room. “Looking back now, I know that was my very first mistake, just letting it go, not saying anything to him. It was like it never happened. We just ignored it.”

But it wasn’t long until she was assaulted again, and again. “Each time he got mad, each time he abused me, it got a little bit worse.” Yet Harjo says she continued to live in denial, refusing to see herself as an abused wife. “I always gave him an excuse.”

After one vicious beating, she was taken to Carl Albert Indian Hospital in Ada, Oklahoma. “They asked me what happened. I lied. I told them I had a dirt bike wreck.  I did not want to believe that he had done this to me.”

Before leaving the hospital, Harjo finally acknowledged the truth:  “I realized that battered woman that you see on TV is me.  That is me.  I am a battered woman.”

Eventually she took out a restraining order and filed for divorce, actions that prompted her former husband to take his own life.

Harjo credits her friends and family with helping her not blame herself for his suicide. “I know it wasn’t me…that’s something we all have to reach at some point it time. It’s not you. No matter what you do you’re not going change them. They have to change themselves…. I reached that point.”

Harjo also found support, strength, and hope at her Hitchitee Church, a place filled with joyful memories for her. “I grew up here. I could come here and feel secure. I could feel safe. This is home … this is just a building, but to me it’s sacred ground because so much has gone on here in my life.”

Harjo has been a driving force in helping her tribe establish a domestic violence program and a shelter for abused women and their children.  In six years, the shelter has grown from one-and-a-half staff members to 14. The program, beginning with children, seeks to stop the cycle of abuse.

Teaching a small child who hits another child that everything can be made right by saying “I’m sorry” is unacceptable, she says. Her own abuser did that. “No,” she exclaims, “telling me you’re sorry is not all right. Don’t hit.”

Harjo tells women not to blame themselves for their abuse. “Anything you do does not give him the right to beat you, to hurt you, to abuse you… . Help yourself. Help your children. Get out of the situation at the first sign. Don’t be silent. Tell somebody.  Leave. Stand up for yourself. That first slap can lead to so much more. Just stop it there.”

SHEILA HARJO is a survivor and out-spoken public advocate for victims of domestic abuse. As First Lady of The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and Councilwoman, she has helped her tribe establish a shelter for abused women and their children and develop a program to break the cycle of abuse she says is all too common among Native families.

New Video Campaign on Ending Violence Against Women and Redefining Native Love

COMMENTS: spam or real?

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

By Trace/Lara

I have tons of comments (30+ on some days) which hit the spam folder saying things like “how do I design a blog like this?” and “How do you find the information you include?” (some are gibberish while others are trying to sell us shit.)

Well, I have been an editor (for newspapers mostly) since 1996 and prior to that I was a writer-in-training and in pursuit of writing full-time. (I have unpublished stories and plays and poems to prove it, truly).

The articles I choose for this blog are either in the news or relevant to what I am researching. I love film and photography. I want to keep learning so I am posting what I learn about human trafficking and modern day slavery and the most important one to me: Adoption! (I am an adoptee) Other hot topics (for me) are Indian Country and news affecting all Native Americans.

I have two books out on adoption (a memoir One Small Sacrifice and an anthology Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects) (and a poetry chapbook SLEEPS WITH KNIVES) and I do constantly read other blogger’s writing: to be smarter, more compassionate and understand other viewpoints.

And I am a publisher for other Native writers so that keeps my mind and hands extra busy doing BLUE HAND BOOKS.

Thanks for commenting on this blog – some are so wise and very appreciated, others were spam but some were questions I did want to answer….

PS: I have other blogs:

I am still learning, how about you?

Lara Hentz is Trace DeMeyer



slave traders(Yup, I am a really big reader)

We are still here

9781479318285_COVERI wrote the following preface for my anthology TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects:


All of our lives the adoptees in this book have lived under an “adoptee stigma” of assimilation. We are often called transracial adoptees because we were raised outside our culture and by non-Indian parents. With a book, our sense of self-worth would rise, knowing many of us shared this (sometimes difficult) journey. Our success in finding our tribes could make big waves in the adoption world.

Most who read history are aware it is interpretation, told by the same conquerors who declared victory and Manifest Destiny. Indians cannot and do not rely on stories told by non-Indians isolated in their institutions. Some published scholars never visited a reservation or even know an Indian. It is their interpretation of who they think we are and that is very dangerous because we are not dead. We are still here.

Even the Smithsonian Museum, an institution called America’s national treasure, kill us again with vulgar displays of our bones and skulls, our medicine bundles, our sacred pipes, our masks and our drums. This treatment and disregard for what is sacred to our values and us can hardly be called understanding of tribal cultures. We are not relics. We are not the past. We are still here.

What about adoptions? Those who interpret its value to society protect their agenda and myths, spouting benefits for the adoptee. But we are called the Stolen Generations for a reason. Children did not ask to be removed. It is undeniable our assimilation was the government’s answer to Manifest Destiny, to make us non-Indian prototypes of American citizens.

Adopting out Indian children would be as destructive as a war but it would last longer: it’d last a lifetime. The adoption program idea was not officially signed like other treaties made in Indian Country. These unique adoption program records were sealed and not made public. (It was acknowledged in an apology I heard in 2001. Read the Ultimate Indignity in this book.) The goal was adoptions would be permanent and closed, therefore adoption was used as the ultimate weapon. Native children adopted by non-Indians would be Americans and unable to open their records; and our tribal parents and grandparents were victims since they would never see us again, or be able to find us.

My close friend Adrian Grey Buffalo, a wise adoptee elder who has returned to his Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (People) calls us adoptees the lost drums and pipes who were locked away from culture, and stored in Americans homes. We are the people who need to be repatriated back to our nations. Adrian believes now is the time. Our People need us back.

With the creation of Indian Adoption Projects and Programs, this grand scheme didn’t make headlines. Their plan was not a war, not a signed treaty, but an idea they hoped would catch on and spread. Selling Americans and others on adopting Indian kids would be quite effortless. Essentially all social workers had to imply to parents was, “you’ll save these poor Indians kid’s lives.”

Judgments fell on First Nations and Indian Country in a very big way. This heavy-handed treatment and their adoption idea blanketed North America in every direction. In Canada it’s called the 60s Scoop. It was the same idea for single women who had an illegitimate baby. Women were told to forget they had the baby. Indians were not told anything. Indian children simply disappeared at the playground or from their backyard or babies were taken from hospitals. Some of our mothers were too poor and were pressured not to keep us. A big black government sedan was reported in many abduction stories and it was not against the law or illegal. Some Native children were removed to residential boarding schools. Others were placed in orphanages and foster homes, and others would be adopted.

But by the grace of Great Spirit, it failed. Indians who were adopted do find their way home. The writers in this book are living proof. We are still here and with these new stories, we make new history.

Many folks living in America and Canada still see Indian Country as a foreign land, alien like some other planet. In some non-Indian families, racism and ignorance about tribes is/was very strong. Opinions about Indians was never great to begin with and gets even more damaged and complicated with Indian reservations ravaged by poverty, alcohol and North America’s neglect.

For the past century, parents living on reservations could not prevent children from being stolen for boarding schools and adoption. Governments made rules and paid agencies and churches to remove and Christianize children, to civilize and train children, and raise them to be non-Indian. This truth is not widely acknowledged in history: the government’s plan was to ethnically cleanse an entire population of Indian children. Removing culture of Native children would not only destroy future generations of Indians but adopted children would not have treaty rights. Adopted children would disappear.

It’s probably a fact that our adoptive parents had no idea as to the motive or why there were so many Indian kids put up for adoption, or why governments ran these programs with public and private adoption agencies who could supply infants and children to non-Indian families.

By the 1970s, Indian leaders took these serious concerns to the U.S. Senate, leading to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. First Nations in Canada enacted their own law. In this book, we share what one Indian leader said in his congressional testimony.

I know I was stunned to hear it was government policy to run these various adoption programs. Many adoptees claim their adoptive parents never knew anything about this. Mine surely didn’t and would have scoffed at the idea.

When an adoptee becomes an adult, some question whether their family or their tribe will accept them back. Some were unsure which tribe or if it’s more than one tribe. Some did not know they had been enrolled in their sovereign tribal nations, filed earlier by relatives. Some learned their parents and tribal relatives were assimilated too, in boarding schools or in relocation programs, severely scarring them. It’s a painful cycle of loss in this past century.

The “adoptee stigma” of assimilation does leave adoptees lodged between two worlds. Can we be Indian enough when raised by non-Indians? Can we return to learn tribal culture and customs? Can we take back our identity? Can we be reverse-assimilated? Can we attend ceremony and get our Indian name? I tell them, “Yes.”

But neither adoptee or Indian parent will find government help in reconciliation or repatriation in America. It’s up to the adoptee and parents. It’s up to tribal communities to spread the truth of the Indian Adoption Projects and begin to look for their lost children.

Victims of these adoption programs have not received a formal apology in the United States. Few politician’s know or acknowledge it happened. With sealed adoption and closed birth records (in 2012), this will prevent full disclosure, which is why this book was planned and written. Politicians and lawmakers need to know our birth certificates were amended and falsified. Judges must abide by the Indian Child Welfare Act and not allow non-Indians to adopt Indian children.

The adoptees I know are some of the strongest-willed humans on the planet. They got around laws and sealed records, and as you will read in Two Worlds, many built their own bridge between the two worlds.

Gathering these stories changed me, enlightened me, haunted me and astonished me. I only ask that you share these stories with your children so these governments never attempt this idea again. The adoptees in this book are my friends and relatives now. They are warriors though they may not call themselves that. Their courage and spirit shines through their words. I knew these stories would make us our own tribe, a unique band of survivors and warriors.

“A nation that does not know its own history has no future,” is a quote I read recently by activist Russell Means, Oglala Lakota.

So how do we write the story of North American Indian and First Nation adoptees when so many people know nothing about this history?

We gather round the adoptees and listen as they share their story, in their own words, in their own voice.

The only way we can change history is to write it ourselves….. and our truth shall finally set us free.

–Trace A. DeMeyer (Shawnee-Cherokee-Euro)
Author of One Small Sacrifice: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects

Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women #VAWA

Seal of the United States Department of Justice
Seal of the United States Department of Justice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the  Federal Advisory Task Force on Research on Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women Living in Tribal Communities

Washington, D.C. ~ Friday, March 8, 2013

Thank you, Bea, for that kind introduction and your leadership on this task force and in our Office on Violence Against Women.

It’s a great privilege to be here and on behalf of all of us at the Department of Justice, I want to thank all of you, for your dedication to addressing violence against Native American women.

We have had a lot to celebrate the last couple days, and yesterday I was proud to witness President Obama sign the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act into law.   The reauthorization not only includes the provisions that Vice President Biden fought so hard for 20 years ago to protect all women, but it also includes the critical tribal jurisdiction provisions to help Indian tribes combat violence against Native women.   From the time non-Indians first came to this continent, and right up through the founding of our Nation, Indian tribes routinely exercised authority over all individuals who committed acts of violence on Indian lands.   In 1978, in the Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe case, the U.S. Supreme Court took that power away, holding that tribes lacked criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians, absent express authorization from Congress.   Last week, thanks largely to your efforts, we got that authorization, and now perpetrators of domestic and dating violence will be held accountable, whether they’re Indian or non-Indian.   And countless Indian women will enjoy safer lives as a result.

I know that no one has fought harder for Native American women than the people in this room and serving on this Task Force, so I congratulate you on this landmark occasion.

Now, our challenge, our collective challenge, is to make sure that this new law is well implemented.   This is important for at least three reasons.   First, it will benefit public safety.   Second, it will protect the legitimate rights of the accused.   And third, it will maximize our ability to protect this law from challenge.   So we’ve already begun to meet with tribes to talk about how we can best prepare tribal judicial systems for successful implementation.

This is also a great chapter in our government-to-government relationships.   You and your colleagues raised these issues with Senator Obama when he was running for President in 2008, and you raised it with Justice Department officials in a long series of formal and informal tribal consultations.   And we heard you, and we took action – just as the President promised more than four years ago.   In July 2011, the Department proposed the very language that, with a few tweaks, has now been enacted by Congress.   And every step of the way, we profited from the strength of tribal leaders and Federal officials, working hand in glove, in a true partnership.

Over the last four years, this Administration has cultivated that partnership, and under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, we at the Justice Department have worked hard to strengthen tribal sovereignty and improve tribal safety.   We have established the Office of Tribal Justice as a permanent component within the Justice Department.   We’ve created the Tribal Nations Leadership Council to facilitate consultation and advise the Attorney General on issues critical to tribal governments.   Under the leadership of Leslie Hagen, we’ve launched a National Indian Country Training Initiative, which has trained more than 2,000 criminal-justice professionals.   And we’ve assigned additional federal personnel to investigate and prosecute cases on Indian lands, including a dozen FBI Indian Country Victim Specialists.

So we’ve made some excellent progress.   While we celebrate the past and current successes, we must also look toward the future.   Our work in Indian country is far from over, and if we’re to build on that progress and tackle the uniquely difficult challenges that tribal communities still face, we cannot rest.

We cannot rest as long as crime rates in many tribal communities remain far above the national average.   We cannot rest as long as tribal members suffer disproportionately from violence, property offenses, and other criminal acts.

As I have stated many times in the past, there is an urgent need for more and better research, evaluation, and data, and the Department is committed to making this happen.

At the heart of our research efforts is NIJ’s research program on violence against women that will collect information from enrolled American Indian and Alaska Native women living in Indian country and Alaska Native villages.   This is the first comprehensive national research program of its kind.   NIJ’s groundbreaking program of research aims to achieve the mandates outlined in the the 2005 reauthorization of VAWA to decrease the incidence of violent crimes against Indian women; to strengthen the capacity of Indian tribes to exercise their sovereign authority to respond to violent crimes committed against Indian women; and to ensure that perpetrators of violent crimes committed against Indian women are held accountable for their criminal behavior.

Once again, I would like to thank each Task Force member for your participation. Your expertise and insights are invaluable, and this partnership–much like our partnership in the reauthorization of VAWA with critical tribal jurisdiction provisions–has been pivotal to developing, and now, implementing this much needed program of research.

NYTs: Timothy Egan on Indian Country Crime (“Science and Sensibility”)

For American Indians, living nearly invisible lives on archipelagos of native culture, irrational Republican philosophy has been particularly cruel. There are more than 300 reservations throughout the land — nations within a nation, sovereign to a point.

Non-Indians are responsible for most of the domestic violence in Indian country. The tribes can’t prosecute them — without the blessing of Congress — and the distant and detached feds usually won’t. Thus, the need for the change written into the renewed Violence Against Women law.

“We have serial rapists on the reservation,” Charon Asetoyer, a Native rights health advocate in South Dakota, has pointed out, “because they know they can get away with it.”

Oh, but bringing these brutes to justice in the jurisdictions where they commit their crimes would be unconstitutional, says Representative Eric Cantor, the House Majority leader. A jury of Indians, well — they’re incapable of giving a white man a fair trial. Such was the view expressed by Senator Charles Grassley, the mumble-voiced Iowa senator known for his 19th-century insight.

Both men voted against the act, and both are flat-out wrong in their interpretation. The Sixth Amendment guarantees the accused a right to a jury trial in “the state or district” where the crime was committed. It says nothing about ethnicity. The latest census found that almost half of people living on reservations were non-Indians. And more than half of Indian women are married to men who are not tribal members by blood.

Turtle Talk


An excerpt:

For American Indians, living nearly invisible lives on archipelagos of native culture, irrational Republican philosophy has been particularly cruel. There are more than 300 reservations throughout the land — nations within a nation, sovereign to a point.

Non-Indians are responsible for most of the domestic violence in Indian country. The tribes can’t prosecute them — without the blessing of Congress — and the distant and detached feds usually won’t. Thus, the need for the change written into the renewed Violence Against Women law.

“We have serial rapists on the reservation,” Charon Asetoyer, a Native rights health advocate in South Dakota, has pointed out, “because they know they can get away with it.”

Oh, but bringing these brutes to justice in the jurisdictions where they commit their crimes would be unconstitutional, says Representative Eric Cantor, the House Majority leader. A jury of Indians, well — they’re incapable…

View original post 99 more words

Passage of the Violence Against Women Act

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement today on the Senate passage of the Violence Against Women Act:

 “I am extremely pleased the Senate has passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which contains important new provisions to expand access to justice for all victims of violence and strengthen law enforcement and prosecutorial tools to hold accountable those who commit these crimes. Notably, the tribal provisions included in the VAWA reauthorization and originally proposed by the Department of Justice, will close a significant jurisdictional gap that has left too many Native American women, precisely because they are Native American, exposed to violence for far too long.  The status quo is simply unacceptable and the Senate has today acted courageously on behalf of our society’s most vulnerable, who deserve not only equal justice but also our unquestionable resolve to protect them.  As the House of Representatives now moves to consider reauthorizing this critical law, I urge lawmakers to come together, as they have historically, to pass an improved and strengthened VAWA that continues its 18 years of progress towards ending the scourge of violence against all victims in our society.”

Salon: How Abusers Get Away with Targeting Indian Women

Salon: How Abusers Get Away with Targeting Indian Women.

Deborah Parker
Deborah Parker

“We have serial rapists on the reservation — that are non-Indian — because they know they can get away with it,” said Charon Asetoyer, executive director of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center in Lake Andes, S.D. “Many of these cases just get dropped. Nothing happens. And they know they’re free to hurt again.”

We know these rape cases are hard to prosecute anyway, much less getting defendants to the federal courts, which are often hundreds of miles away from tribal areas,” says Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes in Washington state and herself a survivor of and witness to sexual abuse. “Those living on the reservation and have domestic partners know that there’s a jurisdictional issue. They know that the law essentially doesn’t apply to them. They walk away without any repercussions.

Big Horn Medicine Wheel

English: The Bighorn Medicine Wheel is a medic...
English: The Bighorn Medicine Wheel is a medicine wheel located in the Big Horn Mountains of the U.S. state of Wyoming. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

click on the link:

You will enjoy these photos – thank to my friend Robbie…..