Good news and Bad News in Indian Country

Friends texted and emailed me this yesterday to tell me that Mary Peltola, a Yup’ik
Alaskan Native, had won election in her state for the short remainder of a congressional term. She’ll run again for a full term in the fall. Even the short term marks a win for the Democrats, for women, and for Natives. And I will add her name to the celebratory list of Native achievements and achievers that I seem to be assembling—Chuck Sams, head of the National Park Service; Jaime Pinkham at the Defense Department; Shelly Lowe at the National Endowment for the Humanities; Marilynn Malerba, Treasurer of the United States; and Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior. Read The Article

It’s in the—Native—water

I was in Portland a couple of weeks ago for a mini family reunion. My brother lives in Portland now, and my sister drove up from Sacramento. We were celebrating a granddaughter/niece going to Japan on a student exchange, and other, younger, grandchildren just for being who they are.

My siblings are all retired, but I am still working. Having worked in non-profits most of my life, with a 12-year hiatus running a bookstore that didn’t bring much profit, I work because I have to. But I also work because I want to, because I learn something new every day, and because my work with Native Americans is amazingly rewarding. Read The Article

Biden gets it right (With help from Deb Haaland)!

In today’s paper I read that President Biden reversed Trump yet again, effectively returning to a 2014 policy that forbade the use of antipersonnel landmines in all but the defense of South Korea. It seems that a lot of what Biden does reverses previous government policy. And nowhere as much—or as effectively—as with Indian affairs, where the reversals overturn decades and even centuries of American government policies. Read The Article

Help from the Natives

It’s a heavy job to give to Indians—and I use “Indians” here in deference to older tribal people who still use that term comfortably—but I don’t know who else we turn to. Young white men are killing African-Americans and Asian-Americans. Young Blacks are killing each other on the streets, and I don’t know about today but know that in the past Latino and Asian gangs also killed their own. Read The Article

It’s the Land!

This weekend “media tycoon” Byron Allen told a TV audience that he now owned the Weather Channel and intended to bid on the Denver Broncos. While the NFL is in a dispute over the lack of Black coaches in the league, Allen intends to be the first African-American owner of an NFL team. NFL rosters have, of course, long been filled with African-American players. The league is more than 60 % Black, but coaches are few, and owners none.

In another, quieter announcement this week, President Joe Biden nominated Harvard University Native American Program Executive Director Shelly C. Lowe to serve as the 12th chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lowe is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and grew up on an Arizona reservation. The National Endowment for the Humanities is our national institution that celebrates “culture.” Read The Article

Indians and Pandemics

Chuck Sams is the incident commander for coronavirus response on the Umatilla Reservation. He recently told Oregon Public Radio’s “Think Out Loud” that

“The tribes [Umatilla, Cayuse, Walla Walla] have faced pandemic before; our last one ended in around 1860, but that cost us nearly 90% of our tribal membership — lost to the measles between 1780 and 1860. That memory still lives on in many of us.” Read The Article