“Yellowtail” | Indian Country News | #ICWA | Food Insecurity

Yellowtail from Keenan Wetzel on Vimeo.

“Yellowtail” by Keenan Wetzel

A poetic short by Detroit-based director Keenan Wetzel, “Yellowtail” tells the story of a young Native American cowboy (Stephen Yellowtail) searching for purpose amidst a chaotic lifestyle. (previously featured here). Shot in Wyoming and the Crow Reservation in Montana, “Yellowtail” tells the story of a young Native American cowboy (Stephen Yellowtail) searching for purpose as his chaotic lifestyle begins

READ: Premiere: “Yellowtail” by Keenan Wetzel – BOOOOOOOM TV – A daily selection of the best short films, music videos, and animations.

You will recognize that narrator’s voice – it is John Trudell!

In the News

The Navajo Nation and Utah Governor signed an inter-governmental agreement Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, to strengthen and further protect the Indian Child Welfare Act for the benefit of Navajo children in the State of Utah. Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer met with Governor Gary Herbert to make it official at the Utah State Capitol during the annual American Indian Caucus Day.

Read why ICWA is so important

GOOD NEWS: Navajo Leaders Boost ICWA with Utah | News for Page Lake Powell Arizona

Let’s take a quick look at the erratic history of federal Indian policy.

In the early republic, the federal government made treaties of friendship with Indian tribes east of the Mississippi. In the 1830s, it stopped feeling friendly and removed the eastern Indians to the West. It set up reservations for eastern and western tribes and solemnly promised in treaties that the land would be theirs forever. In 1871, Congress decided there would be no more treaties, because Indian nations were no longer sovereigns; the courts soon confirmed that Congress could void any treaty without the consent of the tribes that had signed it. Next, from the 1880s until the 1930s, came the “allotment era.” The government decided to break up the reservations and “allot” much of the land to individuals, who could sell them. By the 1930s tribes had lost 60 percent of their previous land base. The New Deal was a brief respite: Allotment ended and tribes were allowed to re-form their governments. Then in 1953 came the “termination era,” when Congress decided that the federal government would no longer provide services to tribes, or deal with their governments. It sold off some tribes’ reservation lands and proclaimed that those tribes no longer existed.

BIG READ: Herrera v. Wyoming: Can U.S. Void Any Tribe’s Treaty? – The Atlantic


No records of the size of Native American populations before 1492 and the arrival of Europeans survive. A new study has found answers.

WOW: European colonisation of the Americas killed 10% of world population and caused global cooling


University College London researchers estimate that settlers killed 56 million indigenous people, causing farmland to be reforested. That increase in vegetation resulted in a massive decrease in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

WOW: European slaughter of Native Americans changed the climate, study says – CNN

I call this the (his)story “We’re Not Supposed to Know”



But they conceal another side of Columbus: the exploitation and repression of Native Americans, said the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. It is a “darker side of this story, a side we must acknowledge,” Jenkins said in a letter Sunday.

READ: Notre Dame to cover 19th century Columbus murals due to portrayal of Native Americans | CBC News



In December 2018, the Trump administration plotted to gut SNAP, the food assistance program more than 40 million Americans rely on to feed themselves.  (I have friends and relatives on SNAP, what used to be food stamps).  This attack on the poor would impose oppressive work requirements that will have a devastating impact on our nation’s most vulnerable and the “food insecure.”    This rule will drive 755,000 poor folks deeper into poverty across the country over the next three years.  It’s a cruel and cynical attempt to chip away at our social safety net by defining who is and who isn’t suffering in our nation.  Read about the Poor People’s Campaign.

Food insecurity is very real and a war on the poor.  And when the climate fails and disaster hits, what new countries start a new land grab?  Will they hit Third World Countries? Indian Country?  Will they take children to accomplish this again?  History repeats itself over and over until we get it right…and so we are entering a dangerous new age of food insecurity… and climate change.

If I were in charge, I’d have two priorities: ending poverty and improving the existing infrastructure.

Trudell said it best in an interview I have in my new book Mental Midgets | Musqonocihte :

“I called the album Blue Indians because there is a kind of spiritual and cultural genocide perpetrated on everyone that is poor in this country,” Trudell said. “The advance of technology has put all of us on a kind of reservation.  These are the people who can’t educate their children, or afford health care. They’ve been robbed of life, which is what happened to Native people, so in that context, we’re all Indians.”

I follow up in a few weeks with my doctors… See you soon! xox


Missionaries in Hawai’i | More Attacks on ICWA | Is Tulsa Indian Country? | MMIWG epidemic

Sending you all a big thanks for reading this news roundup and Happy Turkey “Big Food” Day tomorrow… Lara/Trace

An Exhibition Critically Explores the History of Missionaries in Hawai’i

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — In August 1806, five students on the campus of Williams College took refuge from a sudden thunderstorm beside a haystack and vowed to commit themselves to spreading the Gospel around the world.  This is Ground Zero of the American overseas missionary movement.

For many people, this moment marked the start of an outpouring of generosity and benevolence that saved souls and brought distant lands into the modern world.  Only recently has another narrative been recognized — one of shameless spiritual imperialism that trampled native cultures and eventually devolved into explicit political and economic oppression.

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The unexpectedly deep connection between the college in Williamstown and the Pacific islands, 5,000 miles away, is outlined with an extensive timeline along a wall, which highlights what was happening in each place. It mentions figures such as Sanford B. Dole, the son of missionaries who came to Williams in the 1860s, where he and other missionary descendants called themselves “the Cannibals,” and were active in the Lyceum.  Dole and two others from that group would help draft the “Bayonet Constitution” of 1887, which accelerated the process of undermining native Hawaiian leadership. When the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, Dole would serve as the Republic’s first president, until completing the handover to American power a few years later.

READ: An Exhibition Critically Explores the History of Missionaries in Hawai’i


The Indian Child Welfare Act is vital to our continued survival. (There has been much written on this blog about ICWA and the book series Lost Children)

BIG READ: Why conservatives are attacking a law meant to protect Native American families – The Washington Post


How can that be? In 1832, President Andrew Jackson pushed through the policy of “removal” of Indian nations from the eastern U.S., which destroyed the historic land base of the “civilized tribes.”  He promised the tribes new land in the West to be theirs “as long as the grass grows or the water runs, in peace and plenty.”  After the Trail of Tears, the U.S. signed a treaty that “solemnly guarantied” the new reservation lands in what is now Oklahoma. Many tribes elsewhere have found to their regret that Congress is permitted to decide that the grass ain’t growing any more. It can abrogate some or all treaty obligations—and even “terminate” a tribe altogether. But case law says there is a “clear statement” rule: If Congress wants to end a reservation, it has to say so.

READ: Supreme Court Must Decide If Tulsa Is ‘Indian Country’ – The Atlantic


Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG)

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) highlighted the report in a press event in Washington, DC, this week where she talked about the importance of addressing the MMIWG epidemic. Murkowski was joined by U.S. senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI 4th District), and Juana Majel-Dixon (Pauma Band of Mission Indians), Executive Board Member and Recording Secretary of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). The UIHI report identified the state of Alaska as the fourth-leading state for number of cases of MMIWG. Also, in the top ten states are New Mexico, Washington, Arizona, Montana, California, Nebraska, Utah, Minnesota and Oklahoma.

NEWS: New Report Identifies 506 Urban Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & girls – Native News Online


Mental Midgets | Musqonocihte: “…it’s a miracle we’ve survived this far…”

How is that for a book title? I just published a “short” book – I call it short because our attention spans are short… 🙂 LINK

An Exclusive Look at the Greatest Haul of Native American Artifacts, Ever

Plunder of the Ancients photo

In a warehouse in Utah, federal agents are storing tens of thousands of looted objects recovered in a massive sting

By Kathleen Sharp

Smithsonian Magazine | November 2015

At dawn on June 10, 2009, almost 100 federal agents pulled up to eight homes in Blanding, Utah, wearing bulletproof vests and carrying side arms.  An enormous cloud hung over the region, one of them recalled, blocking out the rising sun and casting an ominous glow over the Four Corners region, where the borders of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico meet.  At one hilltop residence, a team of a dozen agents banged on the door and arrested the owners—a well-respected doctor and his wife.  Similar scenes played out across the Four Corners that morning as officers took an additional 21 men and women into custody.  Later that day, the incumbent interior secretary and deputy U.S. attorney general, Ken Salazar and David W. Ogden, announced the arrests as part of “the nation’s largest investigation of archaeological and cultural artifact thefts.”  The agents called it Operation Cerberus, after the three-headed hellhound of Greek mythology.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/exclusive-greatest-haul-native-american-artifacts-looted-180956959/#jybp2qtKvDmAl4X8.99


St. Ann’s Catholic Orphange: Salt Lake City, Utah

The Orphanage:Caring for the Kids

Although he was the son of poor Irish immigrants and possessed only a grammar school education, Thomas Kearns became one of Utah’s wealthiest and most influential public figures.  Like many of Utah’s earliest millionaires, Kearns made his fortune from the territory’s rich silver deposits.  In 1883, with his partners John Judge and David Keith, he developed the Silver King mine in Park City, which became one of the biggest producers in Utah history.  Eventually he served as U.S. Senator and publisher of both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Salt Lake Telegram newspapers before his death in 1918.

Mining is a dangerous occupation, and accidents in Kearns’s mine and many others left families without a breadwinner and children without parents.  Moved by compassion for those orphans, the Holy Cross Sisters opened an orphanage in 1891 in a two-story adobe building on First South and Third East.  The building was only a block south of the planned site of the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and in fact had been utilized as a rectory by Fr. Lawrence Scanlan and other priests who served the growing Catholic population in St. Mary’s church one block in another direction, west of the future Cathedral, on Second East.  When the present rectory was erected and Salt Lake City became a diocese in 1891, Bishop Scanlan gave the building to the orphans.
But the orphan population kept growing, necessitating additions to the building on two separate occasions.  In 1898, Bishop Scanlan accepted an option on a fifteen acre parcel extending to the south of Twenty-first South, with the idea of building an expanded orphanage which would have the capability of producing much of its own food on its rich farmland.  The following year, Mrs. Kearns gave Bishop Scanlan $50,000 for construction of the orphanage, which was designed by Carl M. Neuhausen, architect of the Cathedral and Holy Cross Hospital, and opened in 1900.  At about that time, the orphanage had a population in excess of one hundred children.  When wealthy miner and merchant Patrick Phelan died in 1901, he left a substantial endowment to the orphanage.

The original orphanage at First South and Third East had been Bishop Scanlan’s rectory.

St. Ann Orphanage was not only a living facility, but a school as well, educating children from the ages of five to fifteen.  Other neighborhood children enrolled too, to take advantage of the excellent nearby school.  In 1926 there were thirty-six resident boys and thirty resident girls enrolled, as well as fifty non-resident children.
Nowadays the term “orphanage” evokes mental images of Dickensian hellholes of squalor, starvation, and abuse.  St. Ann was nothing of the kind.  Surviving photographs show clean, well-clothed children apparently happy and thriving on what was then a rural acreage.  Deacon Silvio Mayo, who worked at the orphanage while a student at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, speaks with high praise of the quality and quantity of the food.

The new St. Ann Orphanage shortly after its construction on Twenty-first South. Note how tiny the trees in front were in those days!

But social welfare practices in the United States began taking a different turn in the mid-twentieth century, particularly after the creation of government agencies who could do what privately endowed programs could not.  Like the great settlement houses in the cities, orphanages like St. Ann yielded to more modern ways.  Between 1953 and 1955 St. Ann made a transition from orphanage to school, which it remains today under the auspices of St. Ann parish.

Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City Pastoral Center, 27 C Street, Salt Lake City

Road Warriors Bob and Deb

UPDATE: Bob and Deb are still on the road and now traveling in an RV! (this is not their RV)

By Lara/Trace

Are you reinventing your life?  My good friends Bob and Deb are…  I asked them some questions about their recent transition (a retirement of sorts) to becoming Road Warriors, always on the move and seeing more and more of America.

Bob emailed an update:  Sometime in July we’re off for about 10 months taking the northern route, (Badlands, Black Hills, Tetons), as far as Yellowstone then down through Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, then heading down to the Texas Gulf Coast taking Rt. 10 to New Orleans and ultimately three months on Pine Island just off the coast of Cape Coral/Ft. Meyers.  Don’t figure on coming back until May 2015 this time… We love hiking, biking, sightseeing, paddle boarding, kayaking… and seeing every amazing thing in this country… except the snow and cold.

1. Of all the places you have visited, what state surprised you the most?

BOB: I think Utah surprised us most.  There was SO much to see, so much we didn’t know about the state, so much variety.  We did Salt Lake City, the temple, the Great Salt Lake itself, Antelope Island (by bike), hiked Mt Desire, did the zip line at the Olympic Training Center.  Then we go to Moab… OMG… stunning visuals in every direction, amazing hikes and bikes and connecting with friends who also happened to be there.  Planned on a week and stayed 10 days.  And that in spite of the fact that the government had just closed down the national parks (Arches in this case).  We WILL go back during this next trip.

2. If you had to choose a location to camp out long-term, where would that be?  

BOB:  Where to camp out long-term?  SO many choices… not sure I could pick one.  We were headed for Colorado to hike for a week or two in Rocky Mountain National Park.  A visual four-scoop sundae with nuts, sprinkles and warm butterscotch drizzle.  Unfortunately, last year they were hit with huge rains and flooding four days before we got there.  We detoured through Wyoming when we heard that miles of road had washed out and the park was closed for repairs.  Climbed one of the most beautiful mountains ever in Wyoming.  As you could tell from #1, above, Moab would be right up there on the list for all the reasons I already mentioned.  We’ve booked the month of November in Tucson.  Great climate, loads to do, great mountains to hike, bike paths to ride, friends to visit.  It has a great combination of big city amenities with small city ‘feel’.  And, finally, for consistently perfect weather, lay-back, old Florida atmosphere and great biking, running, paddle boarding and hippie culture, Pine Island just off Cape Coral/Ft. Meyers.  We’ve already booked three months there (Jan – March).  Enjoy exotic fresh fruit every day!

3. Has being on wheels changed your views of America?

BOB: Has RVing changed our view of America… totally, totally, did I say totally?  We’d travelled all over Europe and much of the Caribbean and Gulf.  All of what we enjoyed outside the country and more… much more… was right here at home.  We just didn’t know that at the time.  Not sure if you know, but three years ago Deb and I biked across the northern tier of the country.  Started in Astoria, Oregon and finished at Rye Beach, New Hampshire, 3762 miles.  That was really where we discovered how little we knew about this country.  We loved and were amazed by what we saw and learned and the friendly people we consistently met.  Because we needed to average 80 miles per day on the bike we had time to look, take some wonderful pictures, but not REALLY investigate the multitude of places we’d have loved to spend a week or three at.  That led to the decision to buy the 5th wheel and big honkin’ truck and go exploring.  We love being on the road.  We’ve met the most interesting people, seen sites and learned history we knew nothing about.  This is an incredibly diverse country we live in!  We came home, contacted a rental agent, put our condo on the rental market, and can’t wait to go exploring again.

4. Favorite activities

BOB: I think it’s obvious from what I already blabbed on about that hiking and biking are on the top of the list and paddle boarding is moving up fast.  That said, I’d have to include exploring in general which sometimes includes hiking, biking, a boat trip or kayak paddle and sometimes just means talking with people and stepping out of our comfort zone… or going places on a lark. We drove from Las Vegas to Death Valley on a whim without even knowing what we’d see or exactly why we were going there.  It turned out to be like crossing into a different planet… an off-earth landscape. 

This dramatic picture was takean from Green River overlook, at Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah.
This dramatic picture was taken from Green River overlook, at Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah.

So readers, are you reinventing your life? If you are, drop me an email: larahentz@yahoo.com and let me interview you for this blog! I am reinventing my blogging and how I see the world…

Embattled Utah adoption center loses its license

(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Terry Achane of South Carolina and his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Teleah, on Jan. 25, 2013. Achane was united with his daughter, who placed for adoption at birth without his knowledge or consent. His then-wife claimed Achane had abandoned her and had no interest in the child. A 4th District Court judge made it official during a hearing in Provo.
Background story:

Father is ready to turn page on Utah adoption horror story

Utah courts • Judge orders adoptive parents to return child to father, who is ready for new life with daughter.

By Brooke Adams The Salt Lake Tribune, December 3, 2012



Note from Trace/Lara: I do believe this is a sign of the shift in adoption practices which has taken years to materialize.

Abstinence Education Teaches Rape Victims They’re Worthless, Dirty, And Filthy

Elizabeth Smart Speaks About Overcoming Trauma
Elizabeth Smart Speaks About Overcoming Trauma (Photo credit: KOMUnews)

By Tara Culp-Ressler http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/05/06/1967591/elizabeth-smart-abstinence-ed/?mobile=nc

Elizabeth Smart became a household name after she was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, UT at the age of 14 and held in captivity for nine months. She was forced into a polygamous marriage, tethered to a metal cable, and raped daily until she was rescued from her captors nine months later. Smart was recovered while she and her kidnappers were walking down a suburban street, leading many Americans who followed her story on the national news to wonder: Why didn’t she just run away as soon as she was brought outside?

Speaking to an audience at Johns Hopkins about issues of human trafficking and sexual violence, Smart recently offered an answer to that question. She explained that some human trafficking victims don’t run away because they feel worthless after being raped, particularly if they have been raised in conservative cultures that push abstinence-only education and emphasize sexual purity:

Smart said she “felt so dirty and so filthy” after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn’t run “because of that alone.”

Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value,” Smart said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.”

Now in her mid-twenties, Smart runs a foundation to help educate children about sexual crimes. She now believes that children should grow up learning that “you will always have value and nothing can change that.”

Social psychologists and sexual abuse counselors agree that comprehensive sex education can help prevent sexual crimes. Teaching children about their bodies gives them the tools to describe acts of abuse without feeling as embarrassed or uncomfortable, and it also helps elevate their self-confidence and sense of bodily autonomy. A shame-based approach to genitalia and sexuality, on the other hand, sends kids the message that they can’t discuss or ask questions about any of those issues.

Nonethless, abstinence-only education programs have a long history of imparting harmful messages that shame youth about their sexuality instead of teaching them the facts they need to safeguard their health. A high school in West Virginia recently made national headlines after hosting a conservative religious speaker who allegedly told students “if you take birth control, your mother probably hates you” and “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.” In Smart’s home state of Utah — which is home to a large religiously conservative Mormon community — sex education is currently mandated, but lawmakers have repeatedly pushed to weaken the state law and reinstate an abstinence-only curriculum.

Utah – hopeful news…but still not holding my breath…

Utah waking up? (adoption news)

The adopted ones blog

Wes Hutchinsthe president of the Utah Adoption Council resigned Tuesday.  Not only did he resign, he also spoke out very specifically, on camera (video in link below).

Utah Adoption Council president resigns amid fathers’ rights controversy

SALT LAKE CITY — The president of the Utah Adoption Council resigned Tuesday amid controversy over claims the council is working to undermine the rights of birth fathers.

Wes Hutchins was to serve another month as president of the Utah Adoption Council (UAC) — a group consisting of adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, families, and birth mothers and fathers. Instead, he’s founded a new nonprofit organization he says will work in the best interests of all parties in adoptions.

There was certainly friction in Tuesday’s council meeting, as some representing adoption agencies accused Hutchins of having his own agenda. In turn, he pointed fingers at them for not acting ethically in administering adoptions.


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