5 Native American Tribes You Should Know

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Native American Tribes You Should Know

Long before Europeans showed up in North America, Native Americans had been living here for centuries in every corner of the country. Just as the landscapes of the continent are vastly diverse, so too are the land’s native residents. Every Native American tribe has its own unique culture, customs, and history, all of which deserve a full deep dive. Today, the U.S. government officially recognizes 562 different tribes; here are five major ones you should know.

Aerial view of Monument Valley in Navajo Nation with clouds in sky
Credit: Beth Ruggiero-York/ Shutterstock

The Navajo tribe (sometimes spelled “Navaho”) live in the southwestern United States around New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Navajo Nation extends for more than 27,000 square miles with almost 300,000 people, making it one of the largest Native American reservations in the country and the second-most populous behind the Cherokee.

It’s believed that the Navajo moved to the area between 1100 and 1500 CE. They were originally hunters and gatherers, but once they arrived in the Southwest, they adopted farming practices from the nearby Pueblo tribe and settled down.

During World War II, the United States was in need of a new secret code that couldn’t be deciphered by the Japanese or Germans. The Navajo people stepped up. They spoke a completely different language, a language that the nobody in any other country knew how to speak. They could send messages in their Navajo language, without any code at all, and the enemy wouldn’t be able to understand it. The brave Navajo Code Talkers, as they became known, were instrumental in the war effort. Without them, the U.S. would not have been so successful.

Wampanoag

Pokanoket Wampanoag tribe member with traditional clothes and feather headdress
Credit: MyTravelCurator/ Shutterstock

“Wampanoag” means “People of the First Light,” which is perfect for a tribe that lives in Massachusetts and Rhode Island as they were literally one of the first people on the continent to see the sunrise every morning. The tribes were semi-sedentary and would typically move between two fixed camps depending on the season and hunting availability.

In the 1600s as many as 40,000 Wampanoag people lived throughout what we now call New England. Most notable was the high chief Massasoit. When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, Massasoit made a treaty with them, and with the help of his interpreter, Tisquantum, who is better known as Squanto, they essentially saved the Pilgrims’ lives by helping them through their first harsh winter.

In 1621, the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims had a feast to celebrate their first year’s harvest. It’s now known as the first Thanksgiving. Today, around 5,000 Wampanoag still live in New England. Most of them live in the Martha’s Vineyard area.

Apache

View of the Bosque del Apache national wildlife refuge in the southwest, New Mexico
Credit: Joe Y Jiang/ Shutterstock

The Apache tribe dominated the Southwest across modern-day New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, and northern parts of Mexico. They were a nomadic people that relied on the buffalo for food and clothing. Based on their language, it’s believed that they moved to the Southwest from western Canada around the year 1100 CE.

After Europeans arrived on the land, the Apaches were one of the first tribes to adopt from them horseback riding as their primary mode of transportation — and adopt it they did. Despite their short time around horses, the Apaches quickly became some of the best riders in the West.

They originally attempted to befriend the Spanish, Mexicans, and Americans in the 17th century, but that relationship quickly dissolved when Spanish slave traders attempted to capture Apache people for work in the mines. The Apaches began raiding encampments throughout the area, and their fierce fighting abilities became legend. In 1861 an official confrontation between the U.S. military and the Apache people began. For 25 years, they battled back and forth for the land. Eventually, the Apache surrendered and moved to a reservation in New Mexico.

Even though the conflict was technically over, some Apache leaders refused to give up their nomadic lifestyle and continued to raid the United States. The Apache leader Geronimo was probably the most feared and influential warrior during this time.

Shoshone

Mountains and desert in Wyoming under blue skies
Credit: Evgeny Dubinchuk/ Shutterstock

Shoshone tribes lived in the western part of the U.S. in the areas now occupied by Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, and California. In 1845, there were an estimated 4,500 Shoshone people living in the United States.

One of the most famous Shoshone individuals, and Native Americans in general, is Sacagawea. When Lewis and Clark began their famous expedition to explore the West, they enlisted the help of a local Native American who could speak English. She served as their translator and guide on the voyage. It’s likely that the trip wouldn’t have been a success without her.

Sioux

Close view of Sioux tribal Lakota Nation flag waving in the wind against a sunset
Credit: Aleks_Shutter/ Shutterstock

The Sioux people are actually an alliance of three separate tribes that speak different dialects. The Lakota people lived in North and South Dakota, the Dakota in Minnesota and Nebraska, and the Nakota in the western Dakotas and Montana.

Sioux tribes were mostly nomadic and followed the buffalo around the plains. They were also fierce warriors. The men earned prestige for their families based on how many scalps they could take in battle. Religion played a major role in everyday life. They believed in one god, called Wakan Tanka, who controlled everything.

Red Cloud and Crazy Horse are two of the most notable Sioux leaders who led campaigns against the encroaching settlers looking for gold. As the conflict escalated, the U.S. government sent 300 men led by General George Custer to resolve the conflict. Sitting Bull famously defeated General Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.

3 Countries in North America No One Remembers – But Should

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Countries in North America No One Remembers – But Should

When you think of North America, you probably focus on the three nations that currently occupy the continent — Canada, the United States, and Mexico — from top to bottom. And for the most part, these are the only official countries that have claimed a part of this landmass since explorers began venturing across the pond. But the reality is, many people called this continent home long before the first European scientist realized that the Earth was round and one’s ship wouldn’t fall off the side at the end of the ocean. Here are three former countries, or rather lands, that predate the current North American nations.

Cherokee Nation

A beautiful mountain valley
Credit: anthony heflin / Shutterstock.com

To be clear, while we’re highlighting countries that no longer exist, there’s a bit of ambiguity around the Cherokee Nation. The original Cherokee Nation that we’re discussing in this article references an autonomous tribal government that lived in what is now the American South before being moved to Northern Oklahoma and existed between 1794 and 1907. In addition to being composed of Cherokee Native Americans, the nation also included Cherokee freedmen (former slaves), people of the Qualla Boundary, and other Native Americans who relocated either voluntarily or were forced to because of the Trail of Tears.

After relocating to Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation relied on cattle ranching to maintain its economy and autonomy from the U.S. government. But federal interference and refusal to lease land to Cherokee cattlemen had a negative effect. This was part of an effort to undermine tribal infrastructure and dissolve the Cherokee claim to the land so that it would be ceded back to Oklahoma during their quest for statehood. Eventually, the original Cherokee Nation government was dissolved in 1906. However, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a new tribal government for the modern Cherokee Nation, which still exists today, was ratified in 1938 after the passing of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

Vinland

A lighthouse on a cliffside overlooking a sunset over the ocean
Credit: Scott Heaney / Shutterstock.com

Long before the British, French, Portuguese, and Spanish empires laid claim to North America, the Vikings were braving the elements to explore beyond their original homelands in Scandinavia. While not a formal country, Vinland deserves recognition because it was a settlement spearheaded by the famous Viking Leif Erikson some time around 1000 CE. To be clear, even today archeologists and historians aren’t sure where exactly Vinland existed. Experts theorize that the settlement could have been located somewhere in Eastern Canada, including Newfoundland and areas flanking the St. Lawrence Seaway.

There are conflicting theories about exact locations, and a lot of that is because of the name Vinland. In Old Norse, it translates to “Wineland.” But in the case of Newfoundland, there aren’t — nor have there ever been — any grapes growing in that region. However, there’s better evidence to suggest that areas around the St. Lawrence Seaway such as Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick are more likely options because they have thriving grape crops. Still, Vinland was a short-lived Viking experiment as references to hostile locals and the extreme distance from their homeland caused the settlement to be abandoned 10 years after its founding.

Toltec Empire

Ruins of a Toltec Empire pyramid
Credit: Lukiyanova Natalia / Shutterstock.com

Let’s move a bit south to Mexico and discuss one of the most influential Pre-Columbian cultures from the Mesoamerica period. Also known as the Toltec Kingdom, the Toltecs existed between 674 and 1122 CE. While the Toltecs don’t get a lot of attention in traditional world history classes, they impacted many of the surrounding Pre-Columbian cultures, not just in Mexico but in Central America. Most notably, many of the characteristics that we associate with Aztec culture were influenced by the Toltecs. And their architectural style of building pyramids can be found in some Mayan settlements.

The Toltecs were expert architects, weavers, metal workers and artisans. According to many historians, even their name “Toltec” came to be synonymous with “artisans.” Unfortunately, aside from the remaining ruins of their former cities like the capital of Tula (northwest of Mexico City) and artwork, little is known about the inner workings of the society. Like many cultures of this period, their writings were based on a hieroglyphic system that isn’t found on surviving buildings or artifacts.

Each of these cultures represent a fascinating aspect of North American history. And although western education tends to focus on the achievements of our European descendants, it’s important to remember the ancient cultures that came before.

NAVAJO NATION PROCLAIMS “NAVAJO NATION CODE TALKERS WEEK”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NATIVE NEWS ONLINE.NET)

 

NAVAJO NATION PROCLAIMS “NAVAJO NATION CODE TALKERS WEEK”

) Speaker of the 24th Navajo Nation Council Seth Damon, President Jonathan Nez, and Chief
Justice JoAnn Jayne at the signing ceremony for “Navajo Nation Code Talkers Week” at the Navajo Veterans
Memorial Park in Window Rock, Ariz. on Aug. 12, 2019.

Published August 12, 2019

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, 24th Navajo Nation Speaker Seth Damon, and Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne signed a proclamation on Monday to recognizing Aug. 12 to 16, 2019 as “Navajo Nation Code Talkers Week.”

The Navajo Nation Code Talkers Week acknowledges and commemorates the invaluable contributions of the Navajo Code Talkers in collaboration with the annual “Navajo Code Talker Day” on Aug. 14, to honor the brave Navajo men who protected our people, freedom, and land.

“Today is a remarkable day for the Navajo Nation as we recognize and honor our great, selfless, and brave Navajo warriors and their families and communities. Many of our Code Talkers have gone on, but we are blessed to have several that remain with us to this day. Our Navajo Code Talkers deserve a salute for their bravery and courage to defend and protect our country using our sacred Diné language,” said President Nez.

“The contributions our Navajo Code Talkers and veterans made for our country are beyond immeasurable. Their precise use of our language as a code demonstrated the power of Diné Bizaad in restoring balance, peace and security to our homeland. Afterward, many continued their service after their return from the war as Councilmen for the Navajo Tribe. Today, the Navajo Nation signs this proclamation for Navajo Nation Code Talkers Week in recognition of the unfailing service that all Navajo Code Talkers carried out for our People,” said Speaker Damon.

Chief Justice JoAnn B. Jayne said, “We are blessed and grateful for the Navajo Code Talkers who have given us freedom. Our language has always been paramount to our sovereignty and our survival as a people. We must continue to honor the legacy of the Navajo Code Talkers by speaking Diné Bizaad every day and teaching our language to our children.”

During the signing, President Nez highlighted the historic proclamation signed by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan that designated August 14 as the National Navajo Code Talkers Day. President Reagan’s proclamation allowed the Navajo Code Talkers to be properly recognized after decades of secrecy around the Navajo Code Talkers program. The Navajo Nation made a similar declaration in 2006.

In 1942, the Navajo Nation answered the call of the United States of America during World War II and sent brave men and boys, known at the Navajo Code Talkers, to defend the Navajo people, Navajo Nation, and the country. The young Navajo Marines helped to devise an impenetrable code based on Diné Bizaad, the Navajo language, that is widely acknowledged as the deciding factor in the Pacific Theater of the war effort.

“We ask our people to take time during the week to remember those who have passed on and their families who continue to honor them. Most of us will never experience what the Navajo Code Talkers and their families went through, but we can thank them by honoring their duty and our sacred language,” added Vice President Lizer.

Navajo Code Talkers Day events are scheduled for August 13 and 14, 2019 in Window Rock, Ariz. The events include a family-run, parade, storytelling, recognition and gourd dance. For more information regarding the events, contact Yvonne Kee-Billison at (928) 871-7000.

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Every Democratic Presidential Candidate Has Proven They Are Racists To Their Core

Every Democratic Presidential Candidate Has Proven They Are Racists To Their Core

 

Most of the day I have been trying to think of a catchy title that would fit in the box provided and the above is what I settled on. Now, you may well be trying to figure out why I said such a thing, and that answer is simple, at least to me. After watching the debates the last couple of nights and listening to several of the candidates talk about how our government should give from 100 billion dollars up to one trillion dollars to the descendants of slaves as restitution for them being kidnapped from Africa and brought here against their will to become white folks slaves, I say no. I realize that some of you who don’t know me are probably saying things like “what a racist ass this guy is” but that is because you don’t know me. Yes I am a southern white male yet I know that neither me nor any of my descendants were ever wealthy enough to have owned anything, not even any land back in those days. Yes, we were all just poor white trash in many folks eyes. I do hope that if anyone of my descendants had been in a financial position to ‘own’ a slave that they through basic morals would not have done so, but I do not know that for a certainty.  I have always been of a financial class as my descendants were, working poor, always having a ‘bossman’ and a ‘landlord’ looking over us. I am sure that they, just like myself have always worked right alongside people of all races. So I don’t feel that I should have to pay for what happened to black folks hundreds of years ago.

 

Now, the main crux of what this letter is all about. I am a believer in the reality that if you give the very wealthy tax breaks or a financial windfall that they tend to just stick it into one of their bank accounts, usually offshore and do nothing to help the economy. Give that same trillion dollars to the poor, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian or any other Nationality and they will spend it, thus getting themselves out of debt which helps banks and businesses in their local economies. If our government were to give let us say 500 billion dollars in cash just to Black folks this is what most of the folks would do, spend it in their local economies which helps everyone. But, this is an issue that would further divide this Nation and cause a lot of physical hate and crime. There is the issue not only of racism rising even worse against Black folks from non-blacks but you would have a lot of Black on Black hatred because what about all the Black folks who can’t PROVE that their personal descendents were slaves who would get nothing? Personally if this 500 billion or maybe a trillion dollar fund would be used to help raise up the minority (meaning Black) neighborhoods then I believe that for the purpose of helping ALL OF these folks get to a better lifestyle that the money should go toward rebuilding the inner cities. Fix the streets, tear down the slums and build new housing, fix the cities plumbing and water supplies. Bring in as many National Guard Military Police as is necessary to clean out the drug gangs, make their streets safer.

 

But, yet I say the Democratic Presidential Candidates are racists because they are only trying to smooze up to the Black voters and to me their is the racism. Here is what I personally believe should be done FIRST, I didn’t say only, just first. All of the White folks distant relatives as well as the Black folks, even those brought over here in slave ships, all of the Asians and the Hispanic and everyone else are Illegal Aliens, even the Trump clan. What I am saying is that these Democratic candidates NEVER SAID ONE WORD about funding help for the Native Americans that are still alive that our ancestors didn’t murder when they stole all of their land. Have you ever been on an Indian Reservation? You should go take a look at how these Native Americans are living, it is pathetic what their living conditions are. First, bale these folks out of their third world poverty then and only then talk about any other bail out plans. The reason, at least in my belief that these Presidential candidates skip right over the rightful owners of North America is because they are a much smaller voting block. You see, these candidates don’t give a damn about the Black folks of our Nation, they only care about getting them to vote for them, at least that is my belief.

My Gripe About Georgetown University ‘Slave Reparations’ Being Charged To Students

My Gripe About Georgetown University ‘Slave Reparations’ Being Charged To Students

 

Earlier this evening I read an article on the web site of ‘Newsone’ along with that of CBS and the New York TImes about an event going on at Georgetown University that I personally am not in favor of. Back in the year 1838 the University was deep in debt and the Jesuit Priest who was in charge of the University at the time sold 272 slaves (Black Folks) to a Louisiana Plantation which gave the University the means in which to pay off their debt. There are a lot of people who say they are descendants of these 272 former slaves alive today who say that the University should have to pay these descendants $1 billion in “reparations,” what do you think about this issue?

 

Here is my take on this issue. It is said that the University has a $1.5 billion endowment fund that the University could supposedly access if they so chose to do so. So, if this is true should the University by either choice or by law take a billion dollars from that fund and use it to pay this to the descendents of those 272 slaves? My belief is that the University can pay it if they choose to, its their money, not mine, yet I do not believe that they should in any way be forced to do so. The University (in my opinion) pulled a total B.S. move when it came to this issue, they totally passed the proverbial buck completely onto the current and future students at the School. The University had the students vote on whether to pay the ‘reparations’ cost via a $27.20 added fee to every student every semester. The voter turnout was said to be %58 and that %66 of those who did vote said yes but now it seems that a lot of the Black students feel that they shouldn’t have to pay it. Seems like some voted yes with the belief that they themselves would be/should be exempt. Should they be? I don’t know, do you?

 

To give you more information to help you with your decision I offer you the main reason that I said no and still do to the University paying these descendents one billion dollars. Via the information from CBS News and the New York Times if you took the amount the University received for those 272 slaves and computed it into today’s currency the amount would be $3.5 Million, not one Billion. So, my opinion is that the University shouldn’t “have” to pay the descendents anything as the event was 181 years ago, at least a minimum of nine generations ago. If this type of thing became a law that they had to pay for this then I believe that every White, Black and Asian person in the U.S. today should have to leave this Country right now, no if and or but about it. Why would I say such a ridiculous thing you may think yet my answer is simple, they are called Indians or NATIVE AMERICANS! Should not everything be turned over to the “Red Man” who settled here first? There is one thing that I do believe though and that is if the University were to be forced by law to pay these reparations that the amount should not be more than the $3.5 million I mentioned earlier.

 

Now, for the last part of this article, a new twist for you to consider which might help you in your decision-making. Just as I was setting down to write this article to you I came across an article in “Teen Vogue” about this very issue and I would like to share some of their words with you. First in their article they said that the amount in today’s dollars would equal $3.3 Million instead of the aforementioned $3.5 Million. Their article also stated that the University says the amount collected each year would be about $380,000. Their article also stated the following which is a quote. “The money would go toward the education and health care programs in Louisiana and Maryland where according to the New York Times many of the 4,000 known living descendents of those slaves live today.” Personally I don’t have any problem with that program accept that I do not believe that the current and future students should have to pay that bill. If anyone was to be “forced” to pay out that $380,000 dollars per year it should have to be the University but I do not believe that any law should ever force them to have to pay that. The biggest reason for me saying this the fact that in 1838 slavery was legal in this country and by the laws of the time the University did not do anything legally wrong in selling their slaves. There is nothing about slavery that I agree with, the laws of the land at that time were wrong and thank the Lord they were changed. Yet when a person or business does not break the law in their actions the law should NEVER be allowed to punish descendents by making them pay for the LEGAL actions of their descendents.

 

 

Trump Administration Supports Health Programs That Will Sabotage Treaty Rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY’ NEWS AGENCY)

 

Trump Administration Supports Changing Indian Health Programs That Will Sabotage Treaty Rights

Trump administration maintains tribes are a race rather than sovereign governments and Indian Health should not be exempt from Medicaid’s ‘race-based’ work rules

The Trump administration is supporting a major policy shift on Indian health programs which could result in a loss of millions of dollars to the Indian Health Service while also sabotaging treaty rights.

A story in Politico Sunday raised the issue. It said, “the Trump administration contends the tribes are a race rather than separate governments, and exempting them from Medicaid work rules — which have been approved in three states and are being sought by at least 10 others — would be illegal preferential treatment. ‘HHS believes that such an exemption would raise constitutional and federal civil rights law concerns,’ according to a review by administration lawyers,” Politico said.

Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed in January that the Health and Human Services contends that tribes are a race as opposed to a separate sovereign government, thus not exempt from Medicaid work rules.

Administrator Seema Verma

@SeemaCMS

This survey is very insightful. Doctors know that helping individuals rise out of poverty can be the best medicine! https://twitter.com/merritthawkins/status/981252838239154178 

The Trump administration has allowed Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana to institute work-requirements in order to eligible for Medicaid. Other states are in the process of seeking similar requirements where Medicaid participants would have to work some 20 to 80 hours each month in order to continue receiving the health insurance.

A graphic on Medicaid expansion by state.

Screen capture via ‘Families USA’

A graphic on Medicaid expansion by state.

The new policy on Medicaid work requirements “does not honor the duty of the federal government to uphold the government-to-government relationship and recognize the political status enshrined in the Constitution, treaties, federal statutes, and other federal laws,” said Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. “Our political relationship is not based upon race.”

“The United States has a legal responsibility to provide health care to Native Americans,” Mary Smith, who was acting head of the Indian Health Service during the Obama administration and is a member of the Cherokee Nation, told Politico. “It’s the largest prepaid health system in the world — they’ve paid through land and massacres — and now you’re going to take away health care and add a work requirement?”

Medicaid has become a key funding stream for the Indian health system — especially in programs managed by tribes and non-profits. Medicaid is a state-federal partnership and public insurance. The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility, but the Supreme Court ruled that each state could decide whether or not to expand. Since the expansion of Medicaid some 237,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives in 19 states have become insured.

Officially Medicaid represents 13 percent of the Indian Health Service’s $6.1 billion budget (just under $800 million).

But even that number is misleading because it does not include money collected from third-party billing from tribal and non-profit organizations. In Alaska, for example, the entire Alaska Native health system is operated by tribes or tribal organizations and the state says 40 percent of its $1.8 billion Medicaid budget is spent on Alaska Native patients. That one state approaches the entire “budgeted” amount for Medicaid.

Other states report similar increases. In 2016, Kaiser Family Foundation found that in Arizona, half of one tribally-operated health system’s patient visits were covered by Medicaid. And, an urban Indian Health program reported that its uninsured rate at one clinic fell from 85 percent before the Affordable Care Act to under 10 percent due to Medicaid enrollment.

Those Medicaid (and all insurance) dollars are even more significant because by law they remain with local service units where the patient is treated (and the insurance is billed). In Alaska more than two-thirds of those dollars are spent on private sector doctors and hospitals through purchased care for Alaska Native patients. And, unlike IHS funds, Medicaid is an entitlement. So if a person is eligible, the money follows.

A recent report by Kaiser Health News looked at Census data and found that 52 percent of residents in New Mexico’s McKinley County have coverage through the Medicaid.  That’s the highest rate among U.S. counties with at least 65,000 people. “The heavy concentration of Medicaid in this high-altitude desert is a result of two factors: the high poverty rate and the Indian Health Service’s relentless work to enroll patients in the program,” Kaiser reported. Most of McKinley County is located on the Navajo and Zuni reservations.

Kaiser Health News said Medicaid has opened up new opportunities for Native patients to “get more timely care, especially surgery and mental health services. It has been vital in combating high rates of obesity, teen birth, suicide and diabetes, according to local health officials.”

However the growth of Medicaid is resulting in unequal care for patients in the Indian health system. The benefits in some states, including those that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, are more generous. Other states not only refused to expand Medicaid and have been adding new restrictions such as requiring “able-bodied” adults to have their Medicaid eligibility contingent on work.

But the Indian health system — the federal Indian Health Service and tribally and nonprofit operated programs — are in a special case because there is a 100 percent federal match for most services. So states set the rules, but do not have to pay the bill. (Medicaid is often the second largest single item in a state budget behind public schools.)

Medicaid is the largest health insurance program in America, insuring one in five adults, and many with complex and long-term chronic care needs. The Trump administration and many state legislatures controlled by Republicans see Medicaid as a welfare program. While most Democrats view it simply as a public health insurance program.

Work rules are particularly challenging for Indian Country. Unlike other Medicaid programs, patients in the Indian health system will still be eligible to receive basic care. So stricter rules will mean fewer people will sign up for Medicaid and the Indian Health Service — already significantly underfunded — will have to pick up the extra costs from existing appropriations. That will result in less money, and fewer healthcare services, across the board.

A letter from the Tribal Technical Advisory Group for Medicare and Medicaid said American Indians and Alaska Natives “are among the nation’s most vulnerable populations, and rely heavily on the IHS for health care. However, the IHS is currently funded at around 60 percent of need, and average per capita spending for IHS patients is only $3,688.” The latest per person cost for health care nationally is $10,348 (totalling $3.3 trillion, nearly 20 percent of the entire economy).

Uninsured rate for nonelderly American Indians and Alaska Natives from 2013-2015.

Screen capture Kaiser Family Foundation

Uninsured rate for nonelderly American Indians and Alaska Natives from 2013-2015.

The tribal advisory group said it is “critically important” that there be a blanket exemption for IHS beneficiaries from the mandatory work requirements.

A report in September by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that the majority of American Indians and Alaska Natives on Medicaid already work, yet continue to face high rates of poverty. It said over three-quarters of American Indians and Alaska Natives are in working families, but that’s a gap of about 8 percent compared to other Americans (83 percent).

Income and work status for nonelderly American Indians and Alaska Natives from 2015

Screen capture Kaiser Family Foundation

Income and work status for nonelderly American Indians and Alaska Natives from 2015

The Trump administration’s characterization of tribal health programs as “race-based” is particularly troubling to tribal leaders because it would reverse historical precedence.

A memo last month from the law firm of Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “has ample legal authority to single out IHS beneficiaries for special treatment in administering the statutes under its jurisdiction if doing so is rationally related to its unique trust responsibility to Indians. Under familiar principles of Indian law, such actions are political in nature, and as a result do not constitute prohibited race based classifications. This principle has been recognized and repeatedly reaffirmed by the Supreme Court and every Circuit Court of Appeals that has considered it, and has been extended to the actions of Administrative Agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services even in the absence of a specific statute.”

(The National Congress of American Indians is the owner of Indian Country Today and manages its business operations. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently as a digital journalism enterprise.)

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter 

Renting A Piece Of Land From God

Renting A Piece Of Land From God

(Written On July 21st Of 2015)

My Bride and I just signed the papers to purchase our first house. We have lived in the same rented space for over ten years now and we have been married more of fifteen years. I know that some folks around the world think that all Americans are rich but almost all Americans would disagree with that statement. I know that with the rented apartment we have been living in we have been much better off than probably a third of our planets population, I am not trying to belittle these people. I see how some folks around the world are having to live and this is a worldwide plague that is crushing humanity, it’s called being dirt poor and starving. In America the so-called “American dream” is to become middle-class via being a home owner. There are millions going hungry here in America each day as a few billion worldwide are suffering through. To most of these people having our apartment along with a little food would probably make a few billion people feel quite wealthy though.

 

With this move I guess we are supposed to be graduating from the lower middle-class (those lucky enough to have a full-time job, or two) where we have been renting into a more except-able middle-class. This idea in America that this product of humans (buying land) that it somehow makes one a higher class is vain and ignorant, in my sometimes humble opinion. There are a couple of issues I have with this thought process. First, God created this planet, it is His, it’s not ours to own, this is something that Native Americans have understood for hundreds of years yet it seems that many folks in our culture still do not understand this simple fact. With each generation we can pass on that which we accumulated in our lives to give to others in our will. But remember, all the things that we buy or build can always be sold or stolen or simply pass away with age, except the land, it goes nowhere. The land, like God is a constant, the things we buy and build are like us, just temporary.

 

So, we are buying a home, sorta, really? We are I guess with the help of God, the bank, and the V.A. going to purchase a building. A house is not a home, in my still somewhat humble opinion, until the heart of all its occupants say that it is. It is a truth that no man owns any land, maybe if we could get off of the macho gig and humble ourselves a little we could more easily see that reality. If I say and believe that I own the land that I camp myself on, all I have to do is try not paying a tax to a government agency, they will take YOUR land. Yet wait, there is another view I wish you to look at. So, am I saying that the governments own all the land on Earth? No, though I am sure that many governments feel they do. If any government can pick the Earth up out of its place and move it somewhere else, then they can probably say they own it. But until the government, you, or I can do such things, we don’t own Mother Earth, God does. We my friends are only renting a little piece of it, for a little while.

Commemorating Indigenous History on Alcatraz Island

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘KQED’)

Video: Commemorating Indigenous History on Alcatraz Island

On an average day, Alcatraz Island bustles with visitors taking tours of the former federal prison. Twice a year, however, people adorned with colorful feathered headdresses and instruments in hand board the ferry hours before dawn and travel to the historic site in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

On Oct. 9, a crowd of early risers visited Alcatraz on Indigenous Peoples Day to celebrate the history and culture of native peoples.

Before the sunrise broke through the fog, people quietly circled around a fire to honor their ancestors with a sunrise ceremony, commemorating the occupation of Alcatraz Island from November 1969 to June 1971 by “Indians of All Tribes,” a pan-tribal group of Native American leaders and activists.

On that day, 46 years after the original occupation, Alcatraz pulsed with energy once again. The sound of a conch shell initiating the ceremony interrupted the silent morning. As the drumming intensified, indigenous people from across the country danced to sacred songs, moving around their elders who tended to the flames in the center of the crowd.

“I come out here because it’s who I am,” said Desiree Adams, an indigenous woman of Navajo descent. “It’s in my blood to be here and stand for my ancestors and to keep our tradition and culture alive.”

On Nov. 23, another sunrise ceremony will be held for the annual “Unthanksgiving Day” celebration.

The Land: Israel And The Palestinians: And The U.S. And The Native Indians

 

Most people in the ‘wired’ world of today know about the struggles in the Holy Lands of Israel between the Nation of Israel and the displaced Palestinian population. For those of you who do not know the back story of this issue I will try to condense this issue into just a few sentences so as to not make a book out of this article. When World War Two broke out the Ottoman Empire ruled the current land of Israel. After the war the British took control of that region but in the U.N. in 1947 a resolution was passed to recreate the Nation of Israel so that the displaced Jewish population could have a Nation of their own again, and this came about in 1948. Because of all the turmoil in the U.N. about this issue the Jewish people were only given a small sliver of the land that they used to call home for over 2,000 years. The British had made an agreement with the U.N. that they would pull out of Palestine in May of 1948 and then give this land to the Jewish people for their homeland. It is sad that the people who lived there were displaced, these folks years later became known as the Palestinians, refugees, a people with no ‘home’. These ‘Refugees’ were eventually taken in by Jordan but were kicked out in 1967, again making them homeless. The Islamic people of the Middle-East own about 99% of the land in this region of the world yet none of them (except for the short stint in Jordan) would let them into their countries. Either this issue shows that the ‘Palestinians people’ are very lousy guests, and/or the Islamic countries of the region are really lousy hosts, or possibly both? I say that because a brother is suppose to take in and to help when their brothers and sisters are in need but the Islamic Nations have not done that.

 

In 1948 on the day that the British completed their pull out the tiny newborn Nation of Israel was attacked by all of their Arab neighbors in an attempt to push all of the Jewish people into the Mediterranean Sea. To make a long story shorter, the people of Israel won that war but just 19 years later the Arab Nations of the Middle-East attacked Israel once again in what has become know as the Six Day War. In this war which Israel won they captured a lot more land from the Arab population who had attacked Israel. Among the lands captured was the Golan Heights in the north and they captured the rest of Jerusalem, to the south they also captured the West Bank and Gaza all the way down to the border with Egypt. The people who started the war who were in the lands that Israel recovered were also now displaced adding to a lousy situation for the Islamic people who caused the war. By my understanding it is the land that Israel recaptured in that six-day war of 1967 that has been causing the biggest conflict with the U.N. (among others). It is this land that has become known as the “occupied territories”. Some world leaders think that Israel has no rights to this land and should not build anything on it.

 

Israel was given a much larger piece of the land by God Himself somewhere around the human year of 1,800 B.C.. They lived on this land until about the year 630 A.D. when Mohammad’s army murdered their way through many countries including the land that belonged to Israel. So, here is where I want to start making some comparisons with land issues inside the U.S.. The Islamic people in Palestine had lived in what is now Israel for about 1,400 years before the U.N. gave some of it back to Israel, it is easy to understand why the ‘displaced’ people are mad at the people who now live on that land. Yet they refuse to accept the fact that there was ever a Nation of Israel before the time of Mohammad no matter how much evidence they are shown. What I am saying is the people of Israel simply took back some of what was their own in 1948 and then again in 1967. In 2005 the Israeli government in an attempt for peace gave back the ‘West Bank’ and the Gaza Strip so that the Palestinian people could have a home of their own since none of the Arab countries would ever allow them to settle in any of their countries. Land for peace is what this event was called, that concept failed, all it did was to give Israel’s haters closer Bases in which to attack Israel from. I have often wondered why if there is going to be a ‘two nation’ reality why can’t the ‘West Bank’ be given “Statehood” status? With Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip there is no way to allow them to become a State. So, who’s land is it in your eyes?

 

Now I would like to talk about the Native American ‘Indians’ and their rights to the land that we call America. A little over 500 years ago Europeans discovered North America and started settling it as if the land was barren of other human beings. Most Europeans did not consider the Indian people who were already here, and had been for thousands of years, as being humans, they demonized them as nothing but Savages. For the next 400 years Europeans kept marching west, killing the Indian people and taking their lands. By the late 1800’s America reached from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and the Native Americans had almost been exterminated. When the newspapers in the east started showing and telling the people what was being done to the Indian people they raised such a ruckus that the extermination concept ended and the concept of Reservations began. The Indian people were ‘given’ the worst of the worst lands to be exiled upon, these were lands that the white man didn’t want, so the Indian people were forced to live there.

 

I am going to make a small example for the purpose of easy clarity. There is a large Navajo Reservation in southwest New Mexico and part of eastern Arizona. I am going to use them in this example. When Europeans discovered what is today the State of New Mexico less than 300 years ago they began ‘settling’ it by removing the Native Americans who had lived there for thousands of years. If today the Navajo people decided that they were tired of living on their Reservation and told the white, black and Mexican people to move off of their land or they would be removed by the Navajo Nation, what do you think would be the result? I know this would not happen, it’s just a conversation point, but what if the U.S. Government said, okay we agree with you so all non-Indian people have to leave the state of New Mexico, what do you think would happen? Now put that concept to all of the 50 States, if the United Nations and the World Court ruled in favor of the Native Americans and they told all of us non-indigenous people to pack up and get off of the Native Americans land, where would we all go? I honestly believe that the Native American people do have the right to tell us all to get off of their land, after all it was stolen by the end of a gun from them. Now back to Israel and the Palestinian people, the Islamic people stole the land  from the Jewish people at the point of a blade, they either had to leave their homes or die. What I am saying is that there is no such thing as Israel’s “occupation” of Arab lands, there is no such thing as Israel building on occupied lands. Just as the correct thing to do here in North America is to give back the occupied lands to its rightful owners because they were well established here long before Europeans crossed the Atlantic, the people of Islam should give back all of the land that was Israel before they were stolen from them. Here in North America there is an occupation” going on right now and has been for about 500 years. In Israel the only “occupation” going on is in the lands where believers of Islam are occupying land that belongs to Israel, it is not the other way around. I hope you liked the article, I am just trying to get people to think and to consider the truth of history.

From Standing Rock To Palestine Caterpillar Bulldozers Used To Destroy Human Rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MA’AN NEWS AGENCY IN PALESTINE)

From Standing Rock to Palestine, the Caterpillar Bulldozers at Work for the Colonial Project

(for links and other information, see original article)

 

 

Two Caterpillar bulldozers at work (left: Rafah, Palestine in 2002,      right: Standing Rock, ND on Native sacred burial ground in 2016)

Since April 1, 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, later followed by over 200 other Native nations, has been occupying the sacred site of Standing Rock in order to protect it against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline (named after the two American States, not the Native nation of course), which would carry Bakken crude from North Dakota to Illinois. Yesterday (September 8),  North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has called for the U.S. National Guard to intervene at Standing Rock a few hours before the ruling of a lawsuit that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has brought against the U.S. government. A few days earlier, some Native organizers had been attacked by dogs ordered by private security force, and bulldozers had demolished a sacred burial ground (see the Democracy Now report here).

In looking at the right part of the photograph above illustrating this deliberate profanation, you will recognize the well-known yellow worn by all non-customized Caterpillar construction (or rather, destruction) equipment on what appears to be D8 bulldozers. Condemning Caterpillar for actions committed in the context of a State’s infrastructural construction can appear as far fetched at first glance — we will see in the last paragraph that it is actually not — but this 90-year old American company is also renowned for its numerous contracts with the U.S. Army, and has no problem to display its support to the “armed forces” on its website:

 

The part of the Caterpillar website dedicated to “Defense” is particularly interesting in this regard and relatively generous in the information given. One might have an overview of the “Defense Product Line” proposed by Caterpillar to the U.S. army and U.S. Federal civilian agencies, including bulldozers such as the D6K or the D7R. The company however does not stop at providing military equipment to an army knowingly deployed in various parts of the world; it also offers training to military operators and provide a schedule of courses throughout the year. The website also features a list of federal agencies and branches of the U.S. army that it supplies with equipment. Under the title “Foreign Military Sales Programs,” the company lists the states of Iraq and Afghanistan as also provided with such equipment as part of the so-called “Supplemental Acquisition Program.” There is however no mention of another indirect important foreign military client: the Israeli army.

The Israeli army indeed regularly purchases Caterpillar bulldozers through the “US Foreign Military Sales Program,” which are later customized by Israel Military Industries to become an autonomous war-machine able to operate in Palestinian cities without any supporting squad. The model D9 of the Caterpillar bulldozers has been a particularly recurrent acquisition by the Israeli army for decades now. Created in 1954, it has been used in every war lead by the Israeli government since the first Sinai invasion in 1956. This ‘steel monster’ is 8-meter long, 4.6-meter wide, 4-meter high, it weights 60 tons, and is usually equipped with a 1.8-meter high blade in its front and a long plowshare in the back, which can dig a 1.7-meter deep furrow. The latter was particularly used during the Second Intifada in order to sever the Palestinian infrastructure (road, water, sewage, electricity) under the pretext of demining — an easily deniable pretext since the plowshare is situated in the back of the bulldozer. The D9 has many variations: the D9T does not need an operator to be present within the vehicle, the “Lioness” version is higher than wide and can thus penetrate in narrower street — although demolishing house to let bulldozers move forward in Palestinian refugee camps has never been a problem for the Israeli army in history… (for more on the question, I can refer to my short book, The Politics of the Bulldozer)

In March 2003, an American activist named Rachel Corrie was killed by such a bulldozer in Rafah when she interposed herself (see past article) between the military vehicle and the house that its operator intended to destroy — about 2,500 Palestinian houses were demolished by bulldozers during the Second Intifada. Although this dreadful event was legitimately relayed by Western media, we can however regret that such coverage does not extend to the many Palestinians who also died in the demolition of their houses by these bulldozers. In November 2004, Human Rights Watch issued a call entitled “Israel: Caterpillar Should Suspend Bulldozer Sales – Weaponized Bulldozers Used to Destroy Civilian Property and Infrastructure,” which remained unanswered positively, Caterpillar’s CEO James Owens saying that the company did “not have the practical ability or legal right to determine how our products are used after they are sold.”

Whether used in the desecration of Native land, in the post-invasion infrastructure of Iraq or Afghanistan, or in the demolition of thousands of Palestinian homes, for the moment, this article has only evoked what we can call the weaponizable function of the bulldozer. However, we ought to look at what a bulldozer is in its essence: it is fundamentally an instrument of absolute geoengineering control over a territory and, as such, a weapon, rather than a weaponizable tool. As argued at length on this blog and elsewhere, qualifying something as a weapon (like, say, architecture) does not necessarily means that its use should be forever proscribed. What it means is that its use is inseparable from violence itself and that, as such, it necessarily crystallizes, enables, enforces a political program. If we go back to North Dakota and, more broadly, to the ways the United States have systematically assert their genocidal claim on the land, we can see how an instrument like the bulldozer (like the barbed wire, as Olivier Razac would say) was invented in such a logic of territorial domination — the displacement of Bakken (a mineral only found in the Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) that the Dakota Access pipeline would enable on thousand of kilometers is also inscribed in this geoengineering dominating logic. Just like the bulldozer is a weapon, not a weaponizable tool; we should interpret what is at stake in Standing Rock and in Palestine not through a negotiation of the ways in which the politics involved could become acceptable, but rather through the prism of the entirety of the political ideologies at work: in both cases here, the variations of the same colonial project.

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