Putting The Yurok Tribe First (profile)

Putting the Yurok Tribe First; Judge Abinanti Reflects on Her Career

In 1974, Yurok tribal member Abby Abinanti became the first Native American woman to be admitted to the State Bar of California. Over the next 40 years, she served as a San Francisco Superior Court commissioner, acted as judge or magistrate for several Western tribes, and established the Yurok Tribe’s fishing court. Today, she is the tribal court’s chief justice.

It’s been an auspicious career for a woman who, as a youngster, never dreamed of donning a judge’s robe. Born in San Francisco in 1947 and raised on the Yurok Indian Reservation, which lies 45 miles from the Pacific Coast along California’s Klamath River, Abinanti originally wanted to be a journalist.

“I developed that interest in high school,” reflected Abinanti, 66. “The journalism teacher befriended me and worked with me during a difficult time in my life, and he gave me a scholarship.” With a laugh, she added, “I think he sort of made it up so he could give it to me.”

 While Abinanti was studying journalism at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, she came across a flyer for the University of New Mexico School of Law. The flier addressed programming specifically for Native American students.


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James Luna contemporizes American Indian art (arts/profile)

Much of James Luna's work is distinctly Native American, but the contemporary artist isn't churning out traditional pottery or Kachina dolls. The edgy, half-Mexican, half-Luiseño artist is known for his politically charged, often humorous installations and performance art. His best-known work includes the controversial "Artifact Piece" that he originally staged in the late '80s for the Museum of Man in Balboa Park. Dressed in a loin cloth, he lay in a glass case for hours as museum visitors ogled him, reading informational cards describing the source of scars on his body, mostly results of alcohol-fueled incidents.

"Physically, spiritually and mentally, that piece was devastating, because you're so vulnerable being looked at like that," Luna recalls, giving CityBeat a quick preview of I Con, his new photography exhibition opening with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 20, at Mesa College Art Gallery, alongside an exhibition by former collaborator Richard A. Lou. Lou will discuss his work, and Luna will present a 20-minute performance piece immediately after the reception in Room G101.

Like much of Luna's work, "Artifact Piece" carried a message about how mainstream culture chooses to include or ignore Native American culture. He wanted to draw attention to the way museums tend to treat native cultures as if they're a collection of artifacts from dead people, focusing on their history without acknowledging their place in contemporary culture.

The photographs in Luna's new show continue to prod at the notion of mainstream culture's inclusion and exclusion of American Indians, asking viewers to dig deeper into the meaning behind his whimsical work. He calls the photos in the show "Performographs"—performance art captured with a camera. Many of the pieces start with a written script or concept. He boils it down to a solitary moment and then freezes it in a stylized, narrative photo.

In one series, for example, Luna, who lives on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in North County but rarely shows locally, juxtaposes images of himself next to historical photos of Ishi, the last member of the Yana tribe of Northern California.

"The point of the work is, if you don't know about this man, you should," Luna explains. "If you want to know more, go look it up. I'm not going to spoon-feed people."

Champions for Change (profile/news)



The Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) will announce its second class of Champions for Change, a youth leadership program inspired by a White House initiative. These five youth, ranging from 16 to 23 years old, from Indian tribes from Washington to Oklahoma, are being honored for making a positive impact in Native communities.

Center for Native American Youth is dedicated to improving the health, safety and overall well-being of Native American youth through communication, policy development and advocacy. Founded by former US Senator Byron Dorgan in February 2011, CNAY is a policy program within the Aspen Institute, headquartered in Washington, DC. The CNAY works to strengthen and create new connections as well as exchange resources and best practices that address the challenges facing Native youth, with a special emphasis on suicide prevention. Visit CNAY’s website for a comprehensive list of resources available to young Native Americans, tribes, and the general public. For more information, visit www.cnay.org

The Aspen Instituteis an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visitwww.aspeninstitute.org.

Elizabeth Burns, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

Age: 18
Hometown: Claremore, Oklahoma

Elizabeth, a senior in high school, is passionate about promoting healthy nutrition and obesity prevention. She currently serves as the president of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council and is a mentor to youth who struggle with obesity, self-acceptance, nutrition and eating disorders. Elizabeth is also creating a blog to raise awareness to health and wellness issues impacting Native American youth today.

"I have been told that my dream of helping other Native youth is ridiculous and that I should give up. I realized that negative comments won’t hold me back. I will make my dream a reality."

Danielle Finn,
 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Age: 23
Hometown: Bismarck, North Dakota

As a recent college graduate, Danielle is a hardworking, positive role model who drives three hours twice a week to teach Head Start students, volunteers as an after school tutor, and serves as a dance teacher in her spare time. She also mentors children within her community and helps address teen pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse issues among Native Youth through her participation on the Mid Dakota Teen Clinic Advisory Board.

"Donating time to work with Native youth, no matter how much or how little, is still time that could make a huge difference." 

William Lucero,
 Lummi Nation
Age: 17
Hometown: Ferndale, Washington

William, a senior in high school, is part of the Lummi Nation’s Teens Against Tobacco Use (T.A.T.U.) group. The mission of the group is to inform youth and their parents about the hazards of smoking. Through the use of peer-to-peer education, a public service announcement, and an annual "World No Tobacco Day Event," William's peers and the younger generation have become effective enforcers in helping parents who want to stop smoking. T.A.T.U.'s presence on the Lummi Nation has exposed many Native Youth to more positive role models in their community. 

"It's time for smokers to quit for their families, our community, 
and future generations."

Keith Martinez,
 Oglala Lakota Sioux 
Age: 20
Hometown: Pine Ridge, South Dakota

As a college student, Keith works with the Lakota Children's Enrichment, Inc. (LCE) to fight against poverty and increase educational resources available on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Keith serves as the chair of the Youth Advisory Board with LCE and is also a Youth Ambassador with Youth Service America for the state of South Dakota. Through his ambassadorship, Keith raises awareness about LCE’s efforts and positively impacts hundreds of young people through organizing and leading youth summits, fundraising events, toy drives and writing/art competitions. He is a passion-driven individual who encourages his peers to obtain an education, mentor the younger generations, and get involved to make a positive difference in their communities. 

"I want to see today’s youth go out into the world, motivate others, and gain an education 
to make a true difference in their communities."

Lauren McLester-Davis,
 Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin 
Age: 16
Hometown: De Pere, Wisconsin

Lauren, a senior in high school, is passionate about providing books to children in need. At an early age, Lauren became a “reading buddy” for children at a local children’s bookstore and noticed the lack of books the children had at home. In response to this, she co-founded First Book - Greater Green Bay in 2007, a volunteer organization that provides books to children in need. First Book - Greater Green Bay serves seven Title I schools, the local Green Bay/De Pere YWCA, Boys and Girls Club of America – Green Bay, the Children’s Miracle network Hospital – Fox Valley, and community libraries. Through fundraising and donations, Lauren has successfully placed over 18,000 new books into the hands of children in need within her community.

"Learning to read is critical to a child’s success both in school and in life. I believe children’s 
literacy is the most critical priority for Native youth today."


Ishi (profile)

In August of 1911 a starving native-American man walked out of the Butte County wilderness into Oroville and became an instant journalistic sensation. He was identified by UC anthropologists Alfred Kroeber and T. T. Waterman as the last of a remnant band of Yahi people native to the Deer Creek region. The UC anthropologists immediately went north to Oroville and brought him back to live on the Parnassus campus, giving him the name "Ishi" which meant "man" in the Yahi language. During the next four years, the anthropologists and physicians at UC would learn much from Ishi, as he demonstrated his toolmaking and hunting skills, and spoke his tribal stories and songs. Newspapers frequently referred to Ishi as the "last wild Indian," and the press was full of anecdotes referring to Ishi's reaction to twentieth-century technological wonders like streetcars, theaters, and airplanes. In his writings, Waterman respectfully noted Ishi's "gentlemanliness, which lies outside of all training and is an expression of inward spirit," and the records of the time reveal much mutual respect on the part of Ishi and his scientist-observers. Each weekend, hundreds of visitors flocked to Parnassus to watch Ishi demonstrate arrow-making and other aspects of his tribal culture.

FILM: Ishi-The last Yahi


Century's Greatest Athlete (profile)

James Francis "Jim" Thorpe (Sac and Fox) Wa-Tho-Huk, translated as "Bright Path";[ May 28, 1888 – March 28, 1953)[2 was an American athlete of both Native American and European ancestry. Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals for the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played football (collegiate and professional), and also played professional baseball and basketball. He lost his Olympic titles after it was found he was paid for playing two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics, thus violating the amateurism rules that were then in place. In 1983, 30 years after his death, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) restored his Olympic medals.

In a poll of sports fans conducted by ABC Sports, Thorpe was voted the Greatest Athlete of the Twentieth Century out of 15 other athletes including Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, Wayne Gretzky, Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan

Crazy Brave (profile/arts)

Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. Her seven books 


of poetry, which includes such well-known titles as How We Became Human- New and Selected Poems, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, and She Had Some Horses have garnered many awards.  These include the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas; and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. For A Girl Becoming, a young adult/coming of age book, was released in 2009 and is Harjo’s most recent publication.Her seven books of poetry and five award-winning CD's.


Charles Eastman (profile)

Dr. Charles Eastman, a Dakota, hears reports of a battle. Despite a blizzard and Army efforts to delay him, three days later he arrives with 85 Lakotas and 10 to 15 white civilians who plan to bury the dead at Wounded Knee. Although he had been told that the incident was a battle, Eastman writes that it was massacre, in which those who fled were “relentlessly hunted down”. Amid the destruction he finds a baby girl, named Zinkala Nuni by Lakota survivors, who is adopted by an Army officer.

Full Story at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices/timeline/378.html

Colville Chairman John Sirois (profile)

Meet Native America: NMAI Interviews Chairman John Sirois

Indian Country Today

June 27, 2013

Please introduce yourself with your name and title.

Iswkwistsay’ ay’. My name is John Sirois. My title is chairman of the Colville Business Council, informally called the tribal council.

Your Native name, its English translation, and/or nickname?

My Indian name is say’ ay’, given to me by my maternal grandmother. say’ ay’ is one of those names that do not translate well into English. However, it describes my eyes and the vision that comes with my eyes.

Read more at http://bit.ly/JohnSiroisColville

Passing of a Patricia Locke (profile)

Patricia A. Locke, who worked for decades to preserve American Indian languages and became a pioneer in an effort to grant the tribes greater authority in the education of their children, died on Oct. 20 at a hospital in Phoenix. She was 73 and lived in Wakpala, S.D., on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

The cause was heart failure, said her daughter, Winona Flying Earth.

Ms. Locke, of Lakota and Chippewa heritage, won a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1991 for her work to save tribal languages that were growing extinct throughout the United States.

The award followed more than two decades of her advocacy for better education of Indians. In the 1970's, she was appointed to the Interior Department Task Force on Indian Education Policy, and eventually helped write legislation granting tribes the authority to set up their own education departments instead of following state requirements.

Education departments and tribal education codes were ultimately created among more than 30 tribes around the country, and Ms. Locke also helped 17 tribes establish colleges they controlled.

Patricia Ann McGillis was born on Jan. 21, 1928, on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1951. She married Charles E. Locke in 1952; they divorced in 1975.

Ms. Locke taught for more than 40 years, from elementary to university level, and lectured on Indian issues throughout the United States. She worked to protect sacred Indian sites and, starting in 1993, was national coordinator of a coalition that pushed for passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments, federal legislation adopted in 1994 that allowed use of peyote for religious purposes.

Ms. Locke's Indian name was Tawacin Waste Win, which, her daughter said, means ''she has good consciousness -- compassionate woman.''

Besides her daughter, who lives in Wakpala, she is survived by a son, Kevin Locke, also of Wakpala, a performing artist who works to preserve Lakota music; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.


FilePatricia Lockejpg