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July 25, 2013

Cara Cowan Watts, Cherokee Nation Tribal Council

In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native peoples today. —Dennis Zotigh, NMAI 

Please introduce yourself with your name and title.
 

My name is Cara Cowan Watts. I am an elected member of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. 

Can you give us your Native name, its English translation and/or nickname? 

ᎨᏩ (Gewa) is the Cherokee approximation of Cara. 

Christy Kingfisher and Cara Cowan Watts Cherokee National Holiday Powwow 2012-2a
Cara Cowan Watts (right) and Christy Kingfisher at the Cherokee National Holiday Powwow. Talequah, Oklahoma, 2012. Photo courtesy of Cara Cowan Watts.

What responsibilities do you have as a tribal leader? 

The Tribal Council per the Cherokee Nation Constitution has the power to establish laws which it shall deem necessary and proper for the good of the nation, and conducts other business which will further the interests of the Cherokee Nation and its citizenship. Basically, the council has the power of the purse strings with approval of the budget and any monthly budget modifications as well as the passage of laws (Acts and Resolutions). 

In addition to the formal roles defined by the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, I am in the community every day meeting constituents, attending meetings, developing relationships with city, county, state, and federal government officials and entities. Without staff to assist, I answer several hundred emails, Facebook messages, snail mail letters, phone calls, and Tweets each day. Each councilperson serves approximately 7,500 people without staff assistance in our 17-person Legislative Branch. 

To learn more about me, I invite you to visit my website. I am active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. I use social media to share what I do on a day-to-day basis as a tribal councilwoman. 

How did your life experience prepare you to lead your nation? 

My Cherokee mother and maternal grandparents ensured I knew who I was as a Cherokee citizen since my earliest memories. My family instilled in me a sense of responsibility to participate in my government by being informed and voting. I have voted in every tribal election since I turned 18 years old, even when I was living outside of the Cherokee Nation. My greatest tie to the Cherokee Nation is my Clan, passed down through my Cherokee mother, Beverly Cowan. 

Who inspired you as a mentor? 

Wilma Mankiller was significant to me. She broke down any remaining barriers for Cherokee women in our modern leadership. Chief Mankiller assisted me in my early campaigns by endorsing me, advising me, and attending many of my campaign events. I am thankful for the time I was able to spend with her and the candid advice she gave me at critical times in my tenure on the Tribal Council. 

Wilma assisted me with my public life of service to the tribe, but my Cherokee mother, Beverly Cowan, and my extra Cherokee mother, the late Marti Aleshire, gave me the day-to-day advice I needed as a young woman and professional. 

I have always been attracted to strong Indian women and especially strong Cherokee women (and men) who continue to help raise me, so to speak, and make sure I am on a path which serves the entire Cherokee Nation and not just a few. I have a number of mentors throughout Indian Country who have made me a stronger person and a stronger tribal leader. 

Are you a descendant of a historical leader? If so who? 

I am an eighth-generation resident of Rogers County, Oklahoma—or what is now known as Rogers County, Oklahoma. I am a direct descendant of Old Settler Cherokee Chief John Rogers, who lived in the Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation, which included what is now Rogers County prior to Oklahoma statehood. Rogers was the nephew of former Cherokee Nation Chief Tahlonteeskee and Chief John Jolly, who served the nation prior to removal on the Trail of Tears. Chief John Rogers is buried in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. 

I am a direct descendent of Tiawah, Indian Territory, resident Dempsey Fields Coker, councilor and solicitor for the Cooweescoowee District in the late 1870s. One of my ancestors is Scottish trader Ludovick Grant, who married into the Cherokee Nation and makes me part of the Scottish Clan Grant. My great-great-grandfather was Danish and helped keep the Oaks Indian Mission open by writing to the Danish Lutheran Church and asking them to take control when the Moravians had to abandon the mission. The Oaks Mission is still a critical organization within the Cherokee Nation today. 

Where is your nation located? 

The Cherokee Nation is located in all or part of 14 counties in northeastern Oklahoma, and our tribal jurisdiction (which is not a reservation) is approximately 7,000 square miles. I live in Rogers County. The tribe’s capital is Tahlequah, Oklahoma, which is in Cherokee County and more than one hour from Rogers County. All of Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Nowata, Craig, and Mayes counties are within the Cherokee Nation, and a portion of Delaware, Rogers, Ottawa, McIntosh, Muskogee, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington counties are within the Cherokee Nation. 

Where was your nation originally from? 

Cherokee lands included parts of West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Today, only three Cherokee governments remain: the Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians

Does the Cherokee Nation have a functional, traditional entity of leadership in addition to your modern government system? 

Cherokees still have traditional ceremonial grounds with traditional chiefs and other leadership separate from the public tribal government. 

What is a significant point in history from your tribe that you would like to share? 

The Trail of Tears, followed closely by the U.S. Civil War, almost destroyed our tribe through epidemic diseases, internal and external war, massive land loss, forced removal, allotment (the Dawes Act), and the breakup of Cherokee families. It is amazing we are still here and a testament to the resiliency of the Cherokee Nation. 

Approximately how many citizens are in your tribe? 

As of the 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR, pages 109–110), we have approximately 318,000 tribal citizens registered with the Tribal Registrar. 

What are the criteria to become a citizen? 

To be eligible for Cherokee Nation citizenship, individuals must provide documents connecting them to an enrolled direct ancestor who is listed on the Dawes Roll with a blood degree. CDIB [Certificate of Decree of Indian Blood]/tribal citizenship is traced through natural parents. In cases of adoption, CDIB/citizenship must be proven through a biological parent to an ancestor registered on the Dawes Roll. 

The Tribal Registrar maintains a Cherokee Nation citizenship webpage to provide information and services. 

Is your language still spoken on your homelands? If so what percentage of your people would you estimate are fluent speakers? 

Out of more than 318,000 Cherokee Nation citizens worldwide, a survey by the tribal government about ten years ago indicated we have 3,000 to 5,000 fluent Cherokee speakers remaining and many who are conversational in Cherokee. But even fewer are literate in the written Cherokee syllabary. 

The Cherokee Nation website includes a Cherokee/English word-search page and a link to download the Cherokee syllabary as a computer font. 

What economic enterprises does your nation own? 

Cherokee Nation Businesses, L.L.C. (CNB), is the economic engine of the Cherokee Nation and creates jobs for tribal citizens and revenue for the tribal government to expand and create new programs beyond those supported with federal dollars. CNB owns more than 27 companies in the gaming, hospitality, personnel services, distribution, manufacturing, telecommunications, and environmental services industries. These tribal businesses have revenues of nearly $750 million every year and earn nearly $100 million in profits. 

CNB by tribal law keeps 65 percent of the profits for job development and creation. The remaining 35 percent of profits goes to the tribal government as a dividend: Five percent is set aside by tribal law to cover contract health service needs not funded by the federal government through Indian Health Service (IHS) funds; the remaining 30 percent is budgeted in the annual budget process and each month when the tribal budget is modified by the Executive & Finance Committee and then passed to the chief for signature after the meeting of the full council. 

CNB is supposed to be at arm's length from the government and elected officials, with a Board of Directors who are typically Cherokee Nation citizens nominated by the chief and approved by the Tribal Council. The board oversees the CEO of CNB. The chief and Tribal Council are representative shareholders of CNB on behalf of the Cherokee people’s government. 

What annual events does your nation sponsor? 

The Cherokee National Holiday was begun in 1953 to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the 1839 Cherokee Constitution. Each year, the tribe hosts more than 90,000 visitors from across the world with entertainment, cultural, and athletic events over Labor Day Weekend. 

Some of my favorite activities at Cherokee National Holiday are the chief’s State of the Nation address and the Cherokee fiddlers’ contest. 

What attractions are available for visitors on your land? 

The Cherokee Nation has approximately 70,000 acres of history and culture since the Old Settler Cherokees and Cherokees on the Trail of Tears formed a single Cherokee Nation government in Oklahoma. Historical sites spread throughout the tribe include the Cherokee Heritage Center & Museum, Diligwa (Ancient Village), Cherokee Courthouse, Cherokee National Prison, Cherokee Capitol Building, Will Rogers Memorial Museum & Birthplace Ranch, Murrell home, and Sequoyah’s cabin. Every art gallery and gift shop supports our Cherokee artisans, including the Cherokee Art Market, Cherokee Arts Center, and Cherokee Gift Shop

How is your national government set up? 

The Cherokee Nation is a constitutional tripartite government. The three separate but equal branches of government are the Executive Branch (principal chief and deputy chief), Unicameral Legislative Branch (17 councilmembers), and Judicial Branch (District Court and five Supreme Court justices. The Cherokee Nation Constitution was written at a Constitutional Convention consisting of Cherokee citizens and voted upon by Cherokee citizens. 

How often are elected leaders chosen? 

Elected leaders in both the Executive and Legislative Branch serve four-year terms. A new constitution was adopted in 2003, so now the Legislative Branch has staggered terms with about half the council being elected every two years. Our next tribal election will be in June 2015 and will include the positions of chief and deputy chief, as well as eight Council seats. 

The Cherokee Nation has an independent Election Commission with two members appointed by the Tribal Council and two members appointed by the chief. The four members appoint a fifth member for a total of five tribal election commissioners. All five must be publicly approved by the Tribal Council and the chief through the committee and full council process. 

Cherokee Nation citizens are required to register to vote and maintain their current address with the Cherokee Nation Election Commission to be eligible to vote in tribal elections. Voter registration is possible regardless of where a Cherokee Nation citizen lives, and everyone is able to vote by mail through the absentee ballot process. 

How often does the tribal council meet? 

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council meets once a month in full council, at 6 PM on the Monday following the second Saturday of each month. The council has six standing committees with every councilmember required by law to be a member of two. Each committee typically meets for two days once a month in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. 

All meetings include ten-day notice to the public, including special meetings. Agendas must be posted ten days prior and Roberts Rules of Orders are followed in general for the conduct of meetings. All meetings are streamed live and archived online

To follow the meetings; track legislation, amendments, and motions; read monthly reports by department and more, citizens are encouraged to go to the Cherokee Nation Legislative Branch website

How does your tribe deal with the U.S. as a sovereign nation? 

The Cherokee Nation is a federally recognized treaty tribe that constantly consults with the federal government to better implement federal programs for our unique citizenry and needs as a tribal community. 

What message would you like to share with the youth of your community? 

Youth should become engaged in their community and day-to-day tribal government operations.  Read your tribal constitution, attend a council meeting, meet your elected representatives, and follow their monthly actions. Ask questions. Lead community discussions on issues facing your tribe on a regular basis and seek the truth or facts on all sides of issues important to you and your community. Register to vote and exercise your duty to vote. Use social media to make your tribal government more transparent and demand that facts are shared rather than rumor. 

 

2012 Will Rogers Days Buel Cara and Lee a
From left: Buel Anglen, Cara Cowen Watts, and Lee Keener—colleagues on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council—celebrate Will Rogers Days. Claremore, Oklahoma, 2012. Photo courtesy of Cara Cowan Watts. 
 
Is there anything else you would like to add? 

I have had the honor and privilege of serving with some incredible tribal councilmembers who are true patriots of the Cherokee Nation, such as Jackie Bob Martin, William "Bill" Johnson, Buel Anglen, Lee Keener, Meredith Frailey, Dr. Brad Cobb, Harley Buzzard, Jack D. Baker, Don Garvin, and Dr. Julia Coates. I want to thank them for their teamwork, leadership, and passion for the Cherokee People. 

Without my family and especially my husband, Doug Watts, I could not be of service to the Cherokee people. Every day I serve as an elected official, my family sacrifices time with me and often provides logistical support for my job as a councilwoman. 

Doug is a citizen of the Wyandotte Nation, so he and his family understand the importance of tribal citizenship and the impact our tribal governments make on our families’ daily lives. 

I hope you take time to learn more about the Cherokee Nation at www.cherokee.org

 

Other interviews in this series: 
Ben Shelley, president of the Navajo Nation
Councilman Jonathan Perry, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
John Sirois, Chairman, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
Thurman Cournoyer Sr., Yankton Sioux Tribal Chairman 
Jimmy R. Newton, Jr., Chairman, Southern Ute Indian Tribe
Scott N. BigHorse, Assistant Principal Chief, Osage Nation
Clifford M. LaChappa, chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians. 

Meet-native-america

Series banner, from left to right: Representative Ponka-We Victors (Tohono O’odham/Southern Ponca) taking the oath of office in the Kansas House of Representatives; photo courtesy of Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache) at the Sundance Film Festival; photo courtesy of WireImage. Sergeant Debra Mooney (Choctaw) at the powwow in Al Taqaddum Air Force Base, Iraq, 2004; photo courtesy of Sgt. Debra Mooney. Councilman Jonathan Perry (Wampanoag) in traditional clothing; photo courtesy of Jonathan Perry. Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee) at Blackhorse et al. v. Pro Football, Inc., press conference, U.S. Patent and Trade Office, February 7, 2013; photo courtesy of Mary Phillips. All images used with permission.
  

Comments (3)

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It is always wonderful and a joyful experience when native citizens come together.
It is a wonderful job that the Cherokee Nation did to keep in touch with the concil.

keep up the good work Clife Hiwat

this is so fantastic and very educational. As a member of the nmai since 2007 and an unenrolled cherokee african american white at large that means I live outside Oklahoma in the state of Ohio to be exact I really appriecate this. I wrote a appreication letter to Cara on all the great work she has done for the nation and she sent me a lovely card back that's the kind of woman she is simply incredible.I hope you will do one on a member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians one from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina and the United Keetowah Band of Cherokee indians of Oklahoma. Keep up the great work Dennis and equani wa'do a bing thank you in Cherokee for all that you do to make this such an invaluable site.

Wonderful...

July 18, 2013

The 2013 Living Earth Festival—Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21

LEFestLogo2013The Living Earth Festival, a signature event of the National Museum of the American Indian, will take place this weekend, July 19 through 21. This annual festival celebrates indigenous contributions to environmental sustainability, knowledge, and activism. For a full listing of events, please see the online calendar or downloadable festival brochure. Here are some highlights for visitors of all ages and many different interests.

What activities can families do together? Adults and children in particular are invited to: 

Lisan wins at Santa Fe 2012 cor
Lisan Tiger Blair with the work that won him 1st place in youth sculpture at the 91st Santa Fe Indian Art Market, August 2012; photo by Dana Tiger, courtesy of the artist.
  • Help release lady bugs into the NMAI garden (outside the museum's South Entrance along Maryland Avenue) at 10 AM Friday.
  • Participate in a sculpting workshop led by award-winning young artist Lisan Tiger Blair (Mvskoke Creek) in the imagiNATIONS Activity Center. There are workshops several times each day. Please pick up free timed-entry tickets in advance at the Activity Center.
  • Join Victoria Mitchell (Cherokee Nation) for a pottery demonstration.
  • See amazing beadwork made by Peggy Fontenot (Potawatomi).
  • Enjoy an outdoor cooking demonstration by Patricia Alexander (Pawnee/Creek) or a cheesemaking demonstration by Nancy Coonridge of Pietown, New Mexico.

 

20100806_01a_eba_ps_002Farmers market and green-chile roasting, NMAI photo.

For organic gardeners, locavores, gourmet cooks, and just plain food-lovers: During the festival, representatives of tribally owned food cooperatives discuss sustainability, and local famers offer produce, meat, and traditional American Indian foods in an outdoor farmers market. The festival begins for foodies Friday morning at 10 AM with the opening of the farmer’s market and a green-chile roasting (both outdoors in the Welcome Plaza throughout the festival). Demonstrations of traditional Native dishes, including venison stew, corn soup, and grape dumplings (outdoors in the Akaloa Firepit), begin Friday at 1 PM and continue all weekend. Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 PM, Native chefs Freddie Bitsoie (Navajo) and Don McClellan (Cherokee) will compete in an Iron Chef-style cook off (outdoors in the Welcome Plaza). 

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Chefs Freddie Bitsoie (Navajo) and Don McClellan (Cherokee); photos courtesy of the chefs.


What would a Native festival be without music and dancing?
Live performances begin Friday at 1 PM with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Drum and Dance Troupe. Hawaiian music and dance by Halau Ho'omau I ka Wai Ola O Hawai'i follows at 2 PM, and at 3:30, traditional Marimba music by Pequeña Marimba Internacional. 

Saturday afternoon singer and violinist Quetzal Guerrero (noon), contemporary Six Nations rocker Shawnee Talbot, aka She KIng (12:30 PM), and the LA fusion band Ozomatli (2 PM) join the roster of performers. Saturday evening at 5 PM, the three groups will present a longer concert as part of the museum's series Indian Summer Showcase. All music and dance performances take place in the air-conditioned Potomac Atrium.

 

Quetzal Guerrero miniShe King mini   

Ozomatli

Clockwise from upper left: Quetzal Guerrero; photo courtesy of the artist. She King; photo courtesy of the artist.Ozomatl; photo copyright 2012 Christian Lantry.


Are you looking for a Friday evening program? The film series Dinner and a Movie offers cuisine from our Zagat-rated Mitsitam Café, available for purchase from 5 to 6:30 PM, followed by the movie Watershed, showing from 7 to 8:30 PM in the museum's Rasmuson Theater. Watershed highlights people who live and work in the Colorado River Basin, including Jeff Ehlert, a fly fishing guide in Rocky Mountain National Park, and Navajo Council member Glojean Todacheene. These people convey their new water ethic by sharing stories that answer the question, How do we balance the competing interests of cities, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, and indigenous communities all with rights to water? 

Colorado-River-from-Nankoweap-in-Marble-Cnyn-NPS_M.-Quinn-hi-res
The Colorado River from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon; photo by Michael Quinn, National Park Service.


At the heart of the festival each year is the Living Earth Symposium. For 2013, the symposium presents Tribal ecoAmbassadors Saturday July 20, from 2:30 to 4 PM, join us in the Rasmuson Theater to hear Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists, tribal college and university professors, and Native students describe how Native communities and individuals are developing innovative and locally relevant solutions to protect the environment and public health. Presenters include EcoAmbassadors from the Navajo Nation and the Tohono O’odham Nation who will address grassroots efforts to reduce carbon on their reservations and provide housing in their local communities.

EcoAmbassador David Stone sharp
ecoAmbassador David Stone and students from Tohono O’odham Community College take a break on a bench made entirely on carbon-negative materials; photo courtesy of the EPA.

The symposium and several other events throughout the weekend will be webcast live on the museum's website. A complete schedule of webcasts from the festival, as well as events on the webcast calendar for later this summer, is available in a separate blog post.

All programs and activities are free and open to the public. As noted above, free timed-entry tickets to the sculpting workshop with Lisan Tiger Blair are avaiable in the imagiNATIONS Activity Center; it might be wise to begin your visit there. Indian Summer Showcase concerts are always very popular and Saturday's promises to be no exception. Seating in the Potomac Atrium is first come, first served. 

We hope to see you here!

—Dennis Zotigh, NMAI

Comments (18)

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I like the work of Shawnee SheKing, Lynn Talbot (Mirror me, This is me etc). I was trying to see if there was a connection in her work with Aboriginal music. It would be great to live close enough to visit the Living Earth Festival to see such energy and creativity. Living in Australia makes it difficult. I enjoy Rap and Hip Hop and I found one of Shawnee's creations sung in that genre. That such energy and creative minds are also involved in protecting the environment, not just here but also in other countries makes me have hope for humankind. I enjoyed reading about the activities planned, with a big sigh at not being able to be there..

In reply to my own comment I listened to Shawnee SheKing singing "She is King" (rap type). I hear drumming connections with Shawnee drumming and the Mohawk drums I have found on the Internet and the sounds made by Iriquois water drums. Of course this could be entirely in my own head. I also loved the haunting sounds of the Mohawk flute music from the smoke dance.

The music was AMAZING! Especially Ozomatl. I was lucky enough to see their first show back in 1995. I collect water drums- have 4 amazing ones and 1 that I am working to restore. Working on training my voice so I can do something similar like Ozomatl.

@William have you heard of a native american band called Apu?

I recently watched them whilst they were on tour of the UK the music they create is fantastic!

Many thanks
Karl

I must say - THIS WAS GREAT!
the world is so small, i watched them too on their uk tour!

really amazing and interesting!

Nice work! Keep going!

keep up the good work guys.... amazing....

The music was AMAZING! Especially Ozomatl. I was lucky enough to see their first show back in 1995. I collect water drums- have 4 amazing ones and 1 that I am working to restore. Working on training my voice so I can do something similar like Ozomatl.

I recently watched them whilst they were on tour of the UK the music they create is fantastic!

Many thanks

I collect water drums- have 4 amazing ones and 1 that I am working to restore.

Great guys! Keep on working :)

Amazing work! Keep going

really it is very interesting and amazing.thank you and good luck

good work keep it up.

Thank You for Sharing Valuable Information.i like this blog and this is very informative.

Really it is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

The music was AMAZING! Especially Ozomatl. I was lucky enough to see their first show back in 1995. I collect water drums- have 4 amazing ones and 1 that I am working to restore.

Jimmy R. Newton, Jr., Chairman, Southern Ute Indian Tribe

In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native peoples today. —Dennis Zotigh, NMAI 


Please introduce yourself with your name and title.

Jimmy R. Newton, Jr., tribal chairman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

Can you give us your Native name, its English translation and/or nickname? 

My nickname is JimBo.

TribalCouncil-JWS-June-2013-0094 cor

Jimmy R. Newton, Jr., chairman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, June 2013. Photo © Jeremy Wade Shockley/Southern Ute Drum; used with permission.

What responsibilities do you have as a tribal leader?

To be the voice for my people and carry out the responsibilities of the constitution.

How did your life experience prepare you to lead your tribe?

It starts with learning the teachings of my parents and traditional people from where I am from. Looking back at my life experience, I've always tried to be strong person and always knowing who I am as a Ute man.

Who inspired you as a mentor?

Lots of people have inspired me throughout my years, but of course my dad has been the biggest one. And also a Southern Ute councilman who taught me the traditions of the tribe and helped me learn about tribal politics.

Are you a descendant of a historical leader? If so who?

I'm not sure how far back you want me to go, but my grandpa Tom Black Newton was a council member from 1941 to 1947; he served with the second chairman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Julius N. Cloud. 

Where is your tribe located? 

The Southern Ute Tribe is located in southwest Colorado.

Where was your tribe originally from?

Our original homeland is the state of Colorado. 

Do the Southern Ute have a functional, traditional entity of leadership in addition to your modern government system?

We have traditional chiefs to lead our ceremonies.

What is a significant point in history from your tribe that you would like to share? 

We were the first tribe to acquire the horse from the Spaniards.

Approximately how many members are in your tribe?

Almost 1500.

What are the criteria to become a member?

One-quarter Southern Ute Indian blood. 

Is your language still spoken on your homelands? If so what percentage of your people would you estimate are fluent speakers? 

Our language is still spoken. It's around 10 per cent or less of the population who speak it. 

What economic enterprises does your tribe own?

The Southern Ute Tribe owns numerous enterprises: for example, in energy, the Red Willow Production Company; Red Cedar Gathering Company, Aka Energy Group, and Southern Ute Alternative Energy; in real estate, GF Properties Group and Tierra Group; and in private equity, the GF Private Equity Group.

What annual events does your tribe sponsor?  

We have our annual Bear Dance and our tribal fair. The Bear Dance coincides with the weekend just before the Memorial Day holiday. The Southern Ute Tribal Fair occurs the second weekend in September.

What attractions are available for visitors on your land? 

We have the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum and Sky Ute Casino Resort

How is your tribal government set up?

The government is set up and governed by our constitution and is made up of a seven-member Tribal Council.

How often are elected leaders chosen? 

Council members are elected to three-year staggered terms. The tribal chair is elected by the tribal membership every three years.  

How often does the tribal council meet? 

The Southern Ute Council has meetings almost every day, of which Tuesdays are action/approval days.

How does your tribe deal with the U.S. as a sovereign nation? 

We try to have a good working relationship with the federal government, but struggle at times; we try through legislative ways to deal with them and go through the chain of command. 

What message would you like to share with the youth of your community? 

Live for knowledge and always know where you come from. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Last thing I would like to say is that the Southern Ute Indian Tribe is still here. We are a federally recognized tribe, and we have our ceremonies and language that we are trying to preserve.  


Other interviews in this series: 
Ben Shelley, president of the Navajo Nation 
Councilman Jonathan Perry, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) 
John Sirois, Chairman, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation 
Thurman Cournoyer Sr., Yankton Sioux Tribal Chairman 

Meet-native-america

Series banner, from left to right:
 Representative Ponka-We Victors (Tohono O’odham/Southern Ponca) taking the oath of office in the Kansas House of Representatives; photo courtesy of Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache) at the Sundance Film Festival; photo courtesy of WireImage. Sergeant Debra Mooney (Choctaw) at the powwow in Al Taqaddum Air Force Base, Iraq, 2004; photo courtesy of Sgt. Debra Mooney. Councilman Jonathan Perry (Wampanoag) in traditional clothing; photo courtesy of Jonathan Perry. Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee) at Blackhorse et al. v. Pro Football, Inc., press conference, U.S. Patent and Trade Office, February 7, 2013; photo courtesy of Mary Phillips. All images used with permission.
  

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July 17, 2013

2013 Living Earth Festival headlines the museum's summer webcast season


The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., museum is hosting many excellent public programs this summer for audiences of all ages and a wide range of interests. Here is a schedule of upcoming programs available on the Internet via webcast. 

Live webcasts can be accessed though the NMAI webcast page.

Not free during a program you'd like to see? Wish you had seen an earlier program? Most webcasts are archived on the NMAI YouTube Channel within a few days of the event.

Please note: Times for live performances and webcasts are given as Eastern Daylight Time.

LEFestLogo2013mini
2013 LIVING EARTH FESTIVAL 
July 19 through 21

The museum’s annual Living Earth Festival celebrates Native contributions to protecting the environment, promoting sustainability, and using indigenous plants to improve health and nutrition. Such a celebration entails much fun with art, music, dance, and cooking, as well as reports from Indian County on how Native peoples are developing solutions to protect public health and the environment.

On Friday, July 19, at 1 pm and 2 pm, the museum will webcast a fun hands-on activity for children of all ages from the imagiNATIONS Activity Center.  Muscogee Creek sculptor Lisan Tiger Blair will lead a workshop in creating animal and human forms from clay and other materials.

Saturday, July 20, will be filled with music and dance. Enjoy these performances and mini-concerts broadcast from the Potomac Atrium:

11:15 AM | Ho`omau I Ka Wai Ola O Hawai`i, Hawaiian music and dance

Noon | Quetzal Guerrero, virtuoso violin and vocals

12:30 PM | She King (Six Nations Reserve), contemporary rock out of Toronto

1 PM | Pokagon Drum and Dance Troupe (Potawatomi), traditional and fancy dancing performed at many powwows throughout the United States

2 PM | Ozomatli, urban–Latin fusion from Los Angeles

 

Studying biotoxins in fish 07-16
Tribal ecoAmbassadors at work: A Northwest Indian College project studying biotoxins in fish. Photo courtesy of the EPA


Saturday from 2:30 to 4 PM
, the webcast will move to the Rasmuson Theater to present the Living Earth Symposium: Tribal ecoAmbassadors.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists, tribal college and university professors, and Native students are conducting projects that help community residents become part of an environmentally conscious future. Learn how these Tribal ecoAmbassadors are developing innovative and locally relevant solutions to protect public healthand the environment—from creating carbon-negative and sustainable building materials to participatory air quality monitoring to exploring the impacts mercury and other toxics have on human health. 

Saturday from 5 to 8 PM,  the day concludes with an Indian Summer Showcase of musical concerts. If your musical appetite was whetted by the day's mini-concerts, be sure to tune in for the artists' feature performances. Quetzal Guerrero's music bridges many Latin and American cultures and styles. Pop artist She King from Six Nations Reserve captivates listeners with her power, passion, and seducing vocals. Ozomatli, a two-time Grammy Award–winning band, describes its sound as "urban-Latino-and-beyond collision of hip hop and salsa, dancehall and cumbia, samba and funk, merengue and comparsa, East LA R&B and New Orleans second line, Jamaican ragga and Indian raga."  

Quetzal Guerrero mini She King mini  

 

 

Ozomatli

Clockwise from upper left: Quetzal Guerrero; photo courtesy of the artist. She King; photo courtesy of the artist. Ozomatl; photo copyright 2012 Christian Lantry; used with permission.


On Sunday, July 21, from noon to 4:30 PM, the museum will webcast the Living Earth Festival’s iconic cooking face-off, Native Chef Cooking Competition. This year the competition puts the heat on Don McClellan (Cherokee) and Freddie Bitsoie (Navajo) as they cook up their gourmet entrées for the title of NMAI’s Top Chef. Like the menu of the museum’s Mitsitam Café, the chefs’ innovative recipes will be inspired by traditional Native American foods. 


INDIAN SUMMER SHOWCASE 
August 10 & September 21

Every summer the museum brings talented performers to the National Mall for free, public concerts. We webcast as many of these great evenings as we can. In addition to the triple-header during the Living Earth Festival mentioned above, the museum has two more concerts/concert webcasts coming up.

Rita_cooligde_flat mini+ C.J. Chenier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Rita Coolidge (left) and C.J. Chenier. Photos courtesy of the artists

On Saturday, August 10, at 5 PM, the legendary, multiple Grammy Award–winning singer Rita Coolidge (Cherokee) will perform some of her classic hits from the 1970s and '80s, as well as newer pieces.  

On Saturday, September 21, at 5 PM, just see if you can stay off your dancing feet as C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band perform their infectious Zydeco music. The band received a 2011 Grammy nomination for their album Can’t Sit Down


STORYTELLING FROM THE  imagiNATIONS ACTIVITY CENTER 
August 2, August 9 & September 21

The imagiNATIONS Activity Center is the museum’s space dedicated to interactive exhibits and fun activities for children of all ages. In addition to webcasting the sculpting workshop during the Living Earth Festival mentioned above, the museum will be bringing three talented Native storytellers to our webcast audience in the next few months.  


Mokihana Traditional Hula mini Gayle-ross tall

Mokihana (left) and Gail Ross. Photos courtesy of the artists

On Friday, August 2, at 11 AM and 1 PM, Mokihana (Missy Scalph), a graduate of Halau Mohala `Ilima, a traditional hula school in Kailua, Hawai`i, will share traditional hula, songs, and stories in an interactive program created to entertain and educate visitors about Native Hawaiian culture.  

On Friday, August 9, at 1 PM and 3 PM, the museum invites you to spend some time with Gail Ross, a direct descendent of John Ross, who was Principal Chief of the Cherokee during the Trail of Tears. Gail is the author of five critically acclaimed children’s books, a distinguished lecturer, and a master of the age-old art of storytelling. Traditional Cherokee stories will be the focus of these programs. 

Grayhawk Perkins 2On Saturday, September 21, at 11 AM, Grayhawk Perkins (Choctaw/Houma), the well-known Louisiana educator, musician, and expert on Native American and Colonial American history, will take on his role as a “tribal storyteller” and share tales of ancient cultures. 

Grayhawk Perkins.
Photo courtesy of the artist

 


SYMPOSIUM: REVEALING ANCESTRAL AMERICA
September 8 

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Ulúa River vessel depicting dancers (rollout detail), AD 750–850. Honduras. 6/1259

On Sunday, September 8, from 10:30 AM to 4:15 PM, the museum will present Revealing Ancestral Central America, a symposium co-sponsored by NMAI and the Smithsonian Latino Center. The symposium features leading voices in the interpretation of Central America’s rich cultural heritage as revealed in the archeaology of the region. The exhibitionCerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed is on view at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C., through February 1, 2015.

 

Disappointed to Miss a Program?

The museum archives most webcasts within a few days of the live event. If you have to miss one of these programs and would like to view it later, look for it on the NMAI YouTube Channel. Programs archived recently include Wahzhazhe: An Osage Balletperformed on March 23; six programs from the 7th Annual Hawai`i Festival, celebrated May 25 and 26; and 13 programs from Choctaw Days 2013, a cultural festival that took place at the museum on June 21. 

—Mark Christal, NMAI

Comments (2)

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Nice blog and pics shared by you. It may be helpful.

Great Post you have in here nice to know all of this! more blogs to come keep up!

July 15, 2013

Running for a Cause Beyond Medals, Lakota Athletes Return to the New York Marathon

Runners ed

Team One Spirit scouting the New York Marathon course. From left to right: Amanda Carlow, Nupa White Plume, Alex Wilson, Kelsey Good Lance, and Jeff Turning Heart Jr. 


Cross-country running has deep cultural roots for many Native American nations. The National Museum of the American Indian in New York recently screened Racing the Rez, a documentary directed by Brian Truglio that tells the story of Navajo and Hopi high school runners, and how their dedication to sport transforms their lives. An exciting, equally transformational story is unfolding for five Lakota athletes from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. 

On Sunday, November 3, Amanda Carlow, Kelsey Good Lance, Jeff Turning Heart Jr., Nupa White Plume, and Alex Wilson will compete in the 2013 ING New York City Marathon.  The team is training extensively for the 26.2-mile event and is determined to do well. Their lead coach, Dale Pine, has helped bring out the best in many Pine Ridge athletes since the 1980s, creating a legacy of state titles in track and cross-country. Reaching farther back, one of the Unites States’ greatest long-distance runners, Billy Mills, gold medalist in the 10,000-meter race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, got his start in Pine Ridge. One Spirit, a non-profit charitable organization that manages many projects to help alleviate poverty on the reservation, sponsors the current runners, and they have had received support from New York Road Runners (NYRR), the organizers of the New York City Marathon, as well. 

Team One Spirit originally planned to run the New York Marathon in 2012, a race that was cancelled following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Instead of returning home to South Dakota, however,the Lakota team chose to stay in New York City to help victims of the storm. On the first Sunday in November, when the marathon would have taken place, they all went to Oakwood Beach, a Staten Island neighborhood hit very hard by the storm surge, to clear rubble and help people whose houses were badly damaged. 

Reliefeffort ed

SandyAid edThe running team and their coach help residents of the Oakwood Beach section of Staten Island recover from Hurricane Sandy. Above, from left to right: Coach Dale Pine, Amanda Carlow, Jeff Turning Heart Jr., Alex Wilson, Nupa White Plume, and Kelsey Good Lance. Right: Alex Wilson and Amanda Carolow.  

 


Cliff Matias of Indian Country Today asked the team about their decision at that time. “We come from a hard place to live,” Coach Pine explained. “Many of our elders go without heat, electricity, and hot water every day. We know what is needed in situations like this.”

Runner Jeff Turning Heart Jr. added, “At first I was sad the race was cancelled, but coming here and seeing all these people working together made me feel proud to be part of it. We know how to survive in desperate situations and have the skills to assist these people in need. I know I am stronger from this experience.”

Fast forward to this coming November when the Lakota Five and their coach will return to New York to finish what they planned to do last year. Like many marathon participants, they will be running in support of charity. The team will help raise funds and awareness for One Spirit Youth Programs on the Pine Ridge reservation, including the construction of the Allen Youth Center in Allen, South Dakota. The youth center is being built to provide Lakota youth with a safe space for learning, community, and athletics. 

ING NY Marathon ed

Team One Spirit returns to the New York Marathon this fall, running to represent the people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and to support construction of a much-needed youth center there. Left to right: Nupa White Plume, Jeff Turning Heart Jr., Alex Wilson, Amanda Carlow, and Kelsey Good Lance.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pine Ridge is one of the poorest areas in the United States, and its children face serious problems of poverty, including substance abuse, violence and suicide, low graduation rates, high unemployment, and teen pregnancy. The Pine Ridge runners have overcome hardships themselves to become positive examples within their community. Especially, they are role models for other young people, by stepping up to help families on Staten Island last fall, as well as through their efforts on behalf of the youth center back home. When they take part in the upcoming marathon, they will be running with the support of their entire reservation, and they will be running for a great cause.

—Margaret Sagan and Grant Moffitt, NMAI


LEARN MORE

One Spirit | NYC Marathon

 "Marathon runners show how 'Team One Spirit' inspires many," from the Native Health News Alliance blog Wellbound Storytellers

NYRR On the Run, a short video focusing on the One Spirit team, 9/26/2012

“The Lakota Five: Young Pine Ridge Marathon Runners Leave a Lasting Impression on New York City,” & accompanying photo gallery, Indian Country Today Media Network, 10/17/2012

“No NYC Marathon to run for group of Native Americans who were racing to inspire hope, raise funds for the Pine Ridge reservation,” New York Daily News, 11/3/2012 


ALSO OF INTEREST

Racing the Rez, a documentary by Brian Truglio about Navajo and Hopi high school runners

 

Margaret Sagan is Visitor Serices manager at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York. 

Grant Moffitt, a native of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, was a summer 2013 Marketing & Community Outreach intern at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York; his internship was funded by Pace University, Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Grant is pursuing a BA in marketing with a concentration in advertising and promotion from Pace. 

All photographs were taken in New York City, November, 2012, and are used courtesy of One Spirit. 

Comments (7)

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it's so great that a running team would contribute so much! great post

Its great to se youth helping so much

I wish you all the best and a good run. Your run is honorable. I am proud of you and what you represent.

I am touch with these runners who are dedicated to helping their community, as a runner and a track coach myself I have great respect for those who put self aside and run their hearts out for a cause, let me know that there are people who hold on to those words that say I am my brother's keeper. keep up the good work I hope one day that I will get to meet those runners from team spirit. please keep in touch

THE OGLALA SIOUX RUNNER (for the Lakota people and the five marathoners of One Spirit Runners)

When I run I sometimes think / of Crazy Horse, / That “Shirt Wearer” who was / not afraid / to run courageously, with a yellow lightning streak / on his face, bringing fear
to an enemy, Blue shirt or brave. / Of those who are proud enough / to run / at Pine Ridge, / There is greatness
among the rolling mixed grass prairie, / Where the wind blows sand / forming dunes. / There the vision of pines, cedar trees /and horses running / along the White River,
That is the Lakota shield.

—Luis Lázaro Tijerina, Burlington, Vermont

Love all the volunteer work you guys do. Keep up the Spirit. My child is named Spirit. Keep pushing forward and teach the younger ones the same. Good luck Team One Spirit!

Great ! articles that you write on this blog make me understand, and more. your writing does not make me confused.