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January 27, 2012

Indian Country in the News: Jan. 20 - Jan. 27, 2012

This week's news highlights include the trial of Guatamala's ex-leader for his role in the massacres of entire Mayan villages in the 1980s, the discovery of 46 new species in South America thanks to a team of indigenous people and scientists, one tribe's plans for online gambling, a dangerous drought for one of Mexico's Native communities and the 2012 State of Indian Nations address by NCAI President Jefferson Keel:

  • BBC: Guatemala ex-leader Rios Montt to face genocide charge - "Ex-Guatemalan military leader Efrain Rios Montt is to be tried for genocide and crimes against humanity. Gen Rios Montt, 85, was in power from 1982-1983, when some of the country's worst civil war atrocities occurred. Whole villages of indigenous Mayans were massacred as part of government efforts to defeat left-wing rebels. Gen Rios Montt, who has denied ordering massacres, refused to comment in court. But a judge ruled he had a case to answer, placing him under house arrest."
  • BBC: Suriname team find 46 new species in tropical forests - "An expedition to a tiny South American country has revealed more than 40 species that scientists believe to be new to science. The expedition to the pristine tropical forests of Suriname was led by the charity Conservation International. The collaboration between scientists, indigenous people and students recorded 1,300 species in total. The team is now working to confirm which of these weird and wonderful creatures are newly discovered species."
  • NPR: Conn. Tribes Hope To Win Big With Online Poker - "Connecticut has two casinos that generate millions of dollars a year for the state. Following a recent change in the interpretation of regulations against online gambling, casino operators and state officials are closely watching to see what kind of impact online poker will have on their revenue. Even though it's a weekday, there are plenty of people sitting at slot machines or playing table games at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Mohegan Tribe Chairman Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum looks with pride at the main gaming floor. He's sitting a level above the action inside a trendy bar called Womby Rock."
  • AFP: Hunger, drought affect Mexico's Tarahumara people - "The indigenous Tarahumara people of northern Mexico, famed for their abilities to run long distances, are struggling to survive chronic hunger resulting from one of the most severe droughts ever to strike their remote homeland. The Tarahumara, or Raramuris, are no strangers to food shortages. However the drought, combined with freezing temperatures, has forced thousands out of their mountain communities to seek food handouts."
  • C-SPAN: The "State of Indian Nations" Address Examines Native American Issues - "The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Jefferson Keel delivered the annual "State of Indian Nations" Address Thursday morning, just two days after President Obama's "State of the Union" Address. Mr. Keel spoke to a live studio audience of tribal citizens and leaders, Congressional employees, federal government officials, students and advocates, including Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation."

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January 26, 2012

2012 State of the Indian Address

2012 NCAI State of the Indian address

Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw), president of the National Congress of the American Indians (NCAI), and Jacqueline Johnson Pata (Raven/Sockeye Clan of the Tlingit Tribe), NCAI executive director, during the presentation of the 2012 State of the Indian address. Photo by Molly Stephey, NMAI.

Washington, DC—The 2012 State of the Indian address was delivered today by Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw), president of the National Congress of the American Indians (NCAI), before a live audience of tribal leaders, national American Indian organization leaders, and U.S. Congressmen. Approximately 300 people witnessed the address inside the Newseum’s Knight Studio, located in downtown Washington, D.C. This address is the National Congress of the American Indians' response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

“President Obama outlined a clear path for the economic future of America in the State of the Union. We support these efforts as Indian Country is integral to revitalizing the American economy. We call on the Administration and Congress to free our economies and create a more flexible government that honors the ability of tribal nations to determine our own future,” said President Keel. “Members of both parties in the House and Senate have shown that issues affecting tribes are nonpartisan. The president has shown outstanding support of tribes. The time to act is now; in our national address we will outline legislation and action the federal government can take, right now, to make Indian Country even stronger.”

In the State of the Union address, President Obama referenced American Indians by highlighting Native Americans' record of military service—the highest record of service per capita of any group of Americans, currently and throughout the 20th century. Prior to his address, President Keel was introduced by Lt. Col. T. Jay Hunting Horse (Kiowa–Choctaw), a U.S. Marine on assignment in the Pentagon. “Very few Americans know the story of the hundreds of thousands of tribal members who have served in the United States military, as far back as the Revolutionary War. As a war veteran myself, I want to thank Lt. Col. Hunting Horse and 24,000 active-duty American Indian and Alaskan Native service members serving today to protect the sovereignty of the United States and the tribal nations of North America,” acknowledged Keel.

Highlighted topics in this year’s address, with brief excerpts, include:

  • Strong Indian nations: “I am honored to speak to you all, but especially to address representatives of the more than 5 million Native people and the 566 tribal nations in Indian Country.”
  • The Native vote in this election year: “Indians don’t just vote ‘D’ for Democrat or ‘R’ for Republican. For us, it’s ‘I’ for Indian!”
  • Opportunities for Congressional action: “For all of the partisan challenges of the past year, the Congress has found common ground for Indian policy.”
  • Government flexibility: “We need the federal government to put decision-making power back in the hands of the people who live in Indian Country—the people who know best because these are our homelands, these are our people.”
  • A moment of opportunity: “This message comes directly from tribal leaders: ‘We need freedom at the local level to best use our limited resources. We know what’s best because we live in Indian Country.’”
  • A new era for the trust relationship: “Enforceable consultation means we must talk about another idea: tribal consent. There would be a public outcry if the federal government tried to impose policy on a state without its consent.”
  • Our America: “As the oldest governments in America, tribal nations understand what is required to overcome stark economic conditions. Perhaps more than any other time in our history, our nations must stand together, empowered to make profound and permanent improvements in the lives of our people. Our nations are committed to the success of the United States of America. Let us realize that future together so that our nations thrive today and forever.”

Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, provided the official Congressional response. “The first Americans in the country are the last Americans. This needs to change. We are symbolically on a long walk back to returning our sovereignty,” said Representative Cole.

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Vice Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, added, “I believe the message today is to tear down barriers and remove obstacles for success [in Indian Country].”

The purpose of State of the Indian address—which usually takes place each year shortly after the State of the Union—is to highlight critical issues facing tribal nations while outlining Indian Country's vision for the year and beyond.

Jefferson E. Keel was re-elected President of the NCAI in November 2011; he previously served two terms as NCAI’s First Vice-President. He is also serving his fourth term as the Lieutenant Governor of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. President Keel describes himself as firmly committed to the service of Indian Country and to actively supporting the self-reliance of Indian people. His goals for the NCAI include establishing a clear path for tribal leaders, citizens, advocates, and political leaders to improve tribal communities, enhance Native culture, and protect tribal sovereignty.

For more information, and to view a rebroadcast of the 2012 State of the Indian address when it is posted, please visit the National Congress of American Indians website.

—Dennis Zotigh, NMAI

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I appreciate reading the profound intent presented herein.

very interesting article

Thank you for this article. That’s all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something special. You clearly know what you are doing, you’ve covered so many bases.Thanks!

nice article,
thanks for sharing.. :)

This years State of the Indian Address is great to emphasize the role of the American Indian in serving the US military from way back during Revolutionary war.

Very enlightening to hear that the President has shown outstanding support to the tribes to make Indian Country much stronger.

Thank you for the information.

Interesting article.

The purpose of State of the Indian address—which usually takes place each year shortly after the State of the Union—is to highlight critical issues facing tribal nations while outlining Indian Country's vision for the year and beyond.

January 20, 2012

Indian Country in the News: Jan. 13 - Jan. 20, 2012

This week's news highlights include a major victory for environmental and indigenous activists opposed to a new oil pipeline across the U.S.; controversy over a new federal rule regarding Native American remains; food aid for a drought-stricken Mexican community; and an outcry in the Amazon over pollution on tribal lands:

  • CBS: Obama denies Keystone XL pipeline permit - "It's official: The Obama administration is denying TransCanada's application to build the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, a proposed $7 billion, 1,700 mile underground oil pipeline linking the tar sands fields of northern Alberta to oil refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. Critics of the pipeline say it will have a hugely negative impact on the environment and potentially put large portions of the U.S. water supply at risk. They also say it will not lower oil prices because the international market will simply adjust supply to account for increased production."
  • AP: Researchers, Tribes Clash Over Native Bones - "A recently finalized federal rule about Native American human remains held by universities, museums and federal agencies is creating friction between researchers and tribes. The rule addresses what should happen to remains that cannot be positively traced to the ancestors of modern-day tribes. Such culturally unidentifiable remains have long sat in storehouses. But museums and agencies must now notify tribes whose current or ancestral lands harbored the remains and give them a chance to claim them."
  • BBC: Mexico food aid sent to crisis-hit Tarahumara Indians - Emergency aid is being sent to northern Mexico where indigenous communities are suffering severe food shortages. The indigenous Tarahumara, famed for their long-distance running ability, have been hit by a prolonged drought and now freezing temperatures. Mexicans began donating supplies at the weekend amid reports, later denied, of suicides among the Tarahumara.
  • Forbes: Amazon Tribe Says Brazil's "Pandora" Dam Polluting River "Brazil’s Arara tribe in Para state, home to the monstrous Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, has filed a complaint with Federal Public Attorneys saying that early-phase construction of the power plant is polluting the river with mud and dirt. Para’s Federal prosecutors have grown accustomed to complaints about Belo Monte by local tribes.  Some public attorneys in the northern Amazon state have even tried to ban the construction of the dam themselves, but each case was overturned by a higher court in Brasilia, the nation’s capital."


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January 18, 2012

This Day in the Maya Calendar (January 2012)

Cholq'ij, the Maya sacred ceremonial calendar of 260 days—a cycle of 20 Day deities and 13 numbers—is the basis of the Maya spirituality that survives to this time, practiced daily among millions of Maya people, in thousands of communities. The interpretation of the days can vary from one Maya people to another. The interpretations given here are based on sustained conversations and participation over three decades with Maya Q'eqchi daykeeping families in the area of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, by Jose Barreiro (Taíno), head of NMAI’s Office of Latin America, and his wife, Katsi Cook (Mohawk).

For a more detailed introduction to this series, please see Jose's post "Living in the Practice." For further insight into the role of the Day lords in everyday life, please see the Maya Journal. For the complete year so far, please see the the Maya calendar archive

6 Kat  |  Friday, January 20, 2012 

Corresponding with January 20, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 6 Kat. Kat is Spider, also Web and Fire. 6 is a low day, but good for many types of ceremonies. Kat is the network of the sacred fireplace, the family hearth. Kat is a good day to pray for your family fireplace, the spirit of the fire that belongs in the home, the one that calls other spirits to ceremony and speaks for them. Kat is the net that hauls in fish and the net that holds ears of corn. It is a good day to help free prisoners or inmates from captivity or to request youth and power for the weak. On Kat, the unity of the people is paramount, and knowledge is deepened. Kat can bring the fruition of things and the untangling of complications. 

5 Aqbal  |  Thursday, January 19, 2012

Corresponding with January 19, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 5 Aqbal. Aqbal is the Dawn, also Bat. 5 is early number—one hand. Aqbal is clarity, separation of darkness and light as the Sun disperses the fog and obscurity of night. It is a good day to ask for a peaceful and happy daybreak, a day to find hidden and lost things and to wash away tears of sadness. Aqbal is also a good day to clean the ashes (renew the heart) of a fireplace and to present a new baby to el Mundo. On Aqbal, the sacred fire is recognized and appreciated. A potential bride or groom can be revealed on this day. Harvesting of corn can begin on this day.

Persons born on Aqbal relate in the present and are a special link between past and future. They are early risers, good workers, tranquil and kind, strong before an enemy, good researchers and finders of hidden things, often called "the candle of the home."

4 Iq  |  Wednesday, January 18, 2012 

Corresponding with January 18, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 4 Iq. Iq is Wind, also Moon. 4 is full balance. Wind is powerful, violent, driven of itself. A day of strong emotion, Iq is a cleansing, healing day. 

Iq is one of the four Yearbearers, or mams. It is a creator that helped finish the world and put breath (essence) in human beings. Persons born on the Iq are inclined to follow spiritual ways and to tap impulsively into cosmic sources. Good wind is nutritional for human minds; it is the mystic breath and vital inspiration of nature. Iq is a good day to appreciate all of Creation. On Iq, a breeze or wind coming to split against your face is a blessing, a cleansing to take your ills and purge your head and body. Respiratory ills are prayed over on this day.

Continue reading "This Day in the Maya Calendar (January 2012)" »

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I think government should look out for TZI people and employee them in the army, they sound quite determined and fearless.

I'm really enjoying this series.

Maya calender is really very very difficult to understand it. Because it is from ancient times and its hard to understand and to deliver.

Wow, the mayans were amazing. Wish I was around when they were flourishing.

I read this and found it interesting:

6 Batz | Saturday, January 7, 2012

Corresponding with January 7, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 6 Batz. Batz is Monkey. 6 is a low middle number, steady. Monkey braid, monkey fingers, monkey tail, Batz is the grasp of the hand of monkey so tight and braided that the fist will not let go, even in death. Batz is a good day for beginnings, and for some Maya day-keepers, Batz begins the twenty days. Batz is unity, a good day to tie things together. A good day for a marriage or to start a construction, a good day for initiation into the ways. Batz is the thread of Time that rolls out from under the earth, weaving life until it is cut, weaving Time into History. People born on Batz are calm and self-confident; they make good spiritual guides and leaders, good-hearted architects.

Monkeys are my favorite exotic pets and I got a chuckle at the thought of monkey imagery!


January 13, 2012

Indian Country in the News: Jan. 6 - Jan. 13, 2012

This week's news highlights include an interesting approach to protecting the bison through teen education, a tribe's protest against a new oil pipeline in Canada, the changing Native demographics of Los Angeles and state recognition for two Piscataway communities in Maryland:

  • USAToday: SD tribe looks to teenagers to revive bison demand - "It seems an unlikely concept: teenagers forgoing the immediacy of a McDonald's Big Mac to learn how to cook their own lower-fat version. But that's what some students at the Flandreau Indian School in South Dakota are doing, and it has a deeper significance. The experience is teaching them about bison, an animal considered sacred in their Native American culture. The students are part of a pilot project started by the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe and South Dakota State University researchers to restore the cultural significance of the animal and consumption of bison meat among community members, particularly young people."
  • AP: Aboriginal chief questions Canada’s commitment to environmental review of Pacific oil pipeline - "The chief of an aboriginal community that stands to be most affected by a proposed pipeline to Canada’s Pacific coast called the Canadian government’s environmental review of the project a song-and-dance on Tuesday. Haisla First Nation Chief Ellis Ross questioned whether the Conservative government already has plans to approve the pipeline just as the review gets under way. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has ratcheted up support for Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would allow Canadian oil to be shipped to Asia. Harper’s new staunch public support for the pipeline comes after the United States delayed a decision to approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that would take oil from Canada to the U.S Gulf Coast."
  • NPR: Urban American Indians Rewrite Relocation's Legacy - "Los Angeles County is home to the largest urban American Indian population — more than 160,000. In 1952, the federal government created the Urban Relocation Program, which encouraged American Indians to move off reservations and into cities such as Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles. They were lured by the hope of a better life, but for many, that promise was not realized."
  • O’Malley to sign order formally recognizing 2 American Indian groups native to Md. - "Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to formally recognize two American Indian groups indigenous to Maryland. O’Malley, a Democrat, will sign executive orders Monday formalizing the Maryland Indian Status of the two groups. The ceremony follows a process established by the General Assembly to formally recognize American Indian tribes, bands or clans. According to the Census, Maryland has 58,000 people who identify themselves as having American Indian heritage."

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