Good News, But


Remain vigilant 

Sunday—a day punctuated by football games and family dinners—is a poor timing choice for breaking important news, but the US Army Corps of Engineers announced today it “would not approve permits for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a dammed section of the Missouri River that tribes say sits near sacred burial sites,” according to The New York Times.

The Times sent me a text this afternoon—Pacific Coast Time—that authorities need to “explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

The decision comes at the eleventh hour, when tribes face a deadline Monday—tomorrow—to vacate the encampment where activists have protested construction of the pipeline, designed to span more than 1000 miles and deliver crude oil to North Americans.

Here in Portland, Oregon, protest rallies have been planned for tomorrow—Monday—to coincide with the deadline given the tribes to leave the encampment.

So: what happens next?

Many will see the announcement as a victory for indigenous peoples.

But key issues remain unresolved. Continue reading

Posted in american indian, Dakota pipeline, democracy, Indian, Indian relocation, journalism, press, science communication, social justice, social media | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Dread: locked and loaded

cannonball_sacred_stone_camp_-_photo_provided_by_terry_wiklund__lightboxWhen Paralysis Takes Hold

I am filled with dread as November comes to a close.

November should have been cause for celebration: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a substantial margin and American Indians brought attention to craven injustices surrounding citizens’ water and land use.

And November honors Indians with National Native American Heritage Month: one attempt to recognize that we have not vanished.

We are still here.

At last count, seven thousand activists are “hunkered down” in the frigid cold of North Dakota, according to the New York Times.

Activists hope to prevent construction of a 1,300-mile pipeline destined to channel crude oil across several states in North America.

And across Indian homelands usurped by the federal government, who then sold off parcels to settlers and investors in the 19th century.

Anyone with cash could buy property—anyone except American Indians, who were forbidden from buying back their lands.

Why? Continue reading

Posted in american indian, Dakota pipeline, Indian, national native american history month, native american, Native American Heritage Month, native press, Native Science, new york times, science communication | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Leatherstocking Tales

& The Last of the Mohicans


N.C. Wyeth’s illustration of Last of the Mohicans

How did my wedding anniversary become embroiled in the Leatherstocking Tales?

How does my husband conjure up James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans?

My story is innocent.

I swear.

Readers may remember that I pledge every November to write about life through the lens of indigeneity.

Today the Indian narrative crept in without effort.

Our wedding anniversary falls in November—same as National Native American Heritage Month—two events that are purely coincidental.

While my heritage is French, American Indian (Osage and Sioux), and British, my husband’s ancestry is British and Russian Jew. Continue reading

Posted in american indian, James Fenimore Cooper, Last of the mohicans, manifest destiny, national native american history month | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Time to Move the Pipeline

Today’s New York Times Editorial


New York Times photo of Phil Little Thunder Sr. Photo by Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

A major shift in news coverage occurred this summer as citizens gathered in North Dakota to protest construction of a 1,134-mile oil pipeline.

And, for once, mainstream news media witnessed and reported on the events.

While non-Indian media have failed to attend to critical issues from an Indian perspective—favoring scientists over culture over the bones of Kennewick Man and cheering on businesses that dig copper, silver and gold mines on sacred lands—the proposed pipeline drew media in droves.

And today, November 4, 2106, during National Native American Heritage Month, the New York Times editorial board states:

It’s time to move the pipeline.

The decision about where to place the pipeline plays out like a case study in society’s prejudices.

The pipeline—which will run through four states in North America and deliver crude oil—was scheduled to be built near North Dakota’s capital, Bismarck.

The Times reports that the pipeline was rerouted because regulators saw a “potential threat to the city’s water supply.”

Instead the pipeline is now slated to run through Indian territory, close to Sioux land (less than a half-mile from one reservation) and “under the Missouri River,” which provides drinking water to residents.

And the Indians are standing up to government agencies and private business interests that made decisions favoring the denizens Bismarck over the indigenous people of North Dakota.

The Times editorial notes construction of the crude oil pipeline is one among a boatload of decisions impacting indigenous people, who “pay the price for white people who want to move environmental hazards out of sight, out of mind and out of their water faucets.”

Now is the time for a “meaningful discussion of the pipeline’s merits,” the editorial notes.

About time indeed.

4 November 2016

Photo credit: Phil Little Thunder Sr., from the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota, carries water from his hometown for the sacred ceremony to the burial ground in North Dakota. Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Celebrating National Native American Heritage Month



# Nationalamericanheritagemonth

Posted in american indian, Dakota pipeline, native american, Native American Heritage Month, native press, new york times, risk, sioux, SKeleton, social justice, writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to be authentic

National American Heritage Month



Osage relatives

November comes on the heels of several events that focus attention on North American Indians.

That’s good news. And bad news.

The good news is that the spotlight reminds us that critical, life-changing events impact American Indians now. Today.

Bad news is that the more frivolous—but still important—issues make headlines that distract us from core issues.

November ushers in National American Heritage Month, a time when I shift my gaze through the prism and examine life through a Native lens.

The exercise began in 2010 when I started my blog while serving as a fellow at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Continue reading

Posted in american indian, authenticity, communication, Dakota pipeline, journalism, native american, Native American Heritage Month, native press, social justice, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Look deep enough and you will find Indigenous footprints


What news coverage reveals about Indian Country

Yesterday, news outlets reported that the group which travelled to Oregon earlier this year, armed with rifles and pistols to take control of a federally protected wildlife area, was found, “not guilty of conspiring to keep federal employees from doing their jobs,” according to the Portland-based Willamette Week newspaper.

On hearing the news Thursday (27 October), American Indian reporters, activists, tribal members and relatives took to Twitter, Facebook and other internet outlets and let off steam.

Anger on social media rose when the treatment of the protesters in Oregon—who were given an acquittal—was compared to North Dakota protesters who had been handcuffed and carted off to jail, also on Thursday: about 141 souls in all, according to Reuters.

Writers juxtaposed the two events side-by-side, asking why the protestors in Oregon were treated differently from the protestors in North Dakota, who argue that a proposed oil pipeline will desecrate Indian lands and impact water, wildlife and humans.

How is it that a handful of protesters equipped with firearms were able to take over the wildlife center in Oregon, and prevent public access to the refuge located on federally protected land, and then receive a “pass” by a jury?

Look deep enough and you will find Indigenous footprints.  Continue reading

Posted in american indian, Dakota pipeline, Lakota, sioux | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Have we lost our moorings?

censorFor weeks our local public radio station had urged us to consider what the American Dream means.

I discovered when I spent part of one summer talking with faculty and students in Amman, Jordan—as part of an exchange–the denizens we met clearly considered the United States a democracy.

They wanted to know how our free press works, and asked what it’s like to live in a democracy.

In Jordan, citizens are ruled by a dual system overseen by a king and a prime minister: a parliamentary monarchy.

Although Jordan hosts elections for some political seats, the prime minister is appointed by the king. Continue reading

Posted in american indian, censorship, democracy, election, native press, politics, press, social media | Tagged , , | 1 Comment