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

The Generational Wreckage of Boarding Schools

It was the week after Albert and Veronica Redstar, brother and sister elders of the Joseph or Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce from the Colville Reservation in Washington, talked about 140 years of exile. The audience was 45 workers and board members from Wallowa County’s government agencies and non-profits. The exile dated to the Nez Perce War of 1877, which took the Wallowa Band across the Snake River in spring flood on an unwanted journey to a reduced reservation in Idaho. An uprising of young Indians against cruel white settlers set off a war, a fighting retreat that ended five months and almost 1400 miles east and north, 40 miles from the Canadian border at Bear’s Paw, Montana. From a famous surrender there the Indians were herded to Bismarck, North Dakota, and then to Kansas and Oklahoma Indian Territory.

Eventually, through the extraordinary diplomatic efforts of their leader, Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, known to us as Chief Joseph, they were allowed to Read The Article

Loving the Game, the Rez Game

I’ve not followed professional basketball—or even college basketball—much over the past few years. The “posting up” business is boring, and the spectacle of who might be the most athletically talented individuals in the world running up and down a court that seems too small for them, dunking basketballs in a hoop that seems too low for them, just didn’t stir me.

Mary Stewart of Nixyaawii Golden Eagles (credit: East Oregonian)

But I have watched a lot of high school basketball, where the size of the court and the height of the rim seem to be in proper proportion. And this year I’ve taken special interest with my freshman grandson playing at Joseph High School. One of the treats has been watching Nixyaawii Community School, the boys and girls teams from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. Both beat Joseph handily, with great ball control and great three-point shooting, and both went on to take third place in the state Read The Article

Martin Luther King Day, 2013: embracing the dream


George Fletcher, Pendleton  Roundup

In 1968, fresh back from my Peace Corps stint in Turkey, I got involved with the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington D.C. I was a bit player, a soldier carrying cautionary words—the Campaign would go on and would not be violent—to suburban churches and returning with food from them to mostly old Black citizens in the city isolated by the riots that followed Martin Luther King’s assassination. The campaign did go on, and my indelible memory is a service in a black church with Coretta Scott King, Ralph Abernathy, Hosea Williams, and one heavy set white woman at the podium and a mostly black audience linking arms and singing “We Shall Overcome.”
Like most Americans, I had grown up away from conscious racial conflict, unconscious of the role and meaning of race in America. Diversity meant six Lutheran churches in one small Minnesota town, a California high school
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