EVERYONE is welcome and please join us each morning at 7:30 AM PACIFIC
to tell us what you're working on, share your show & tell, vent, whatever you want...
...this is an open thread. Nothing is off topic.
We have a slightly abbreviated version this morning, but it's all in service of a good cause.
Later today, I'll be posting a diary announcing this year's blogathon to fight hunger in America. And this year, we're taking a bit of a different approach: We're focusing on food justice specifically for underserved populations, including those in Indian Country, and on local community programs designed to help provide nutritious food raised in sustainable ways. It's a two-fer: fighting hunger while supporting food sovereignty and food justice.
We know from the experiences described by Native Kossacks that national and international programs often fail miserably at both. We've heard about established groups, founded, funded, and run by outsiders, whose idea of "charity" is to drop off cases of soda at some of our most economically-depressed reservations. We've heard about the nationally acclaimed "anti-hunger" organizations whose state affiliates supply local food banks, who often had nothing available by candy, chips, and soda for Okiciyap, which serves a population devastated by diabetes. And we know that the big programs routinely impose from without, rather than helping local underserved communities as the fight to serve their own specific needs.
So this year, we're going to bring some of those local programs, and their organizers and activists, to you. You'll get a chance to learn about what they do, and how you can help. And this week, you can make a real difference in supporting food justice and food sovereignty. And you can help save lives.
As noted in last week's edition, the National Congress of American Indians [NCAI], the nation's oldest and largest organization dedicated to tribal nations, held its 70th Annual Convention & Marketplace last week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At each annual convention, the NCAI chooses its leadership for the coming year. This year, NCAI delegates chose Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chair Brian Cladoosby as their 2014 President.
Mr. Cladoosby has long been an activist on environmental, sovereignty, and treaty rights issues. He also has extensive experience with tribal governance, having spent 29 years in the Swinomish Senate and 17 as the Community's most recent President. He has a background in intertribal relations, serving a recent three-year term as president of The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, as well as a stint on the NCAI Board of Directors, on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Tribal Operations Committee, and on Washington State's Skagit Council of Governments.
"Chairman Cladoosby has just what it takes to run NCAI. I just watched Brian in action last week as he ran the annual summit between Washington’s 29 tribes, Governor Jay Inslee, and his agency heads," said Chris Stearns, a Navajo lawyer with Hobbs Straus and advisor to former NCAI President Tex Hall. "He did a masterful job and it shows that he not only has the respect of some of the country’s most important leaders but that he knows how to get work done and do so in a way that makes everyone walk away feeling empowered."Once he made the decision to run for the office, Mr. Cladoosby did so with his usual dedication to certain causes. He issued a statement explaining some of his reasons for running, which he posted on his Facebook page and which Indian Country Today Media Network reproduced in part in its coverage of his candidacy:
"I believe that we live in historic times. When my grandfather's grandfather signed the Point Elliott Treaty [in 1855], he probably could not have imagined the world that we live in today, but he thought about my grandchildren, Bella and Nathaniel. They are the seventh generation since our treaty was signed. Today, we are called to think about the seven generations to come and the world we will leave for them."The challenges, of course, are legion. Economic disparity and poverty present an ongoing enormity, one that threatens to worsen in the very short term for many tribes as winter approaches and funding sources remain out of reach. Environmental degradation and climate change are very real threats to all tribes, but for some (including some in Mr. Cladoosby's part of the country), they present an actual, imminent existential crisis. And as resources grow ever scarcer, we can expect increasing attacks on sovereignty and on treaty rights across the board. And if 2013 is any indicator, American Indians will be faced with major battles in the halls of both the U.S. Congress and the SCOTUS, to say nothing of the 50 states.
Mr. Cladoosby appears to be one of those rare individuals who has truly been able to walk in two worlds: He brings a sense of vibrancy, youth, and progressivism to the organization and its agenda, while remaining a traditional through and through, one who already enjoys the respect afforded to tribal elders. His election is exciting and encouraging, and should make Indians look forward to his 2014 term with hope for a "new day" for Indian Country, as well.
Speaking of last week's NCAI Convention, the group took the unusual step of honoring Dusten Brown [Cherokee], the father of now-stolen Baby Veronica, in a special ceremony on Tuesday evening.
The ceremony also recognized and honored Mr. Brown's status as a warrior: A veteran of the Iraq War, he is currently attached to a unit of the Oklahoma National Guard.
During a ceremony that featured drumming and Native American songs, tribal members wrapped a brightly colored prayer quilt around Brown. The gift is intended to comfort him on the days he misses his daughter. Brown was also presented with an eagle feather to honor his service in the military.As also noted in last week's edition of this series, Mr. Brown and his family were at last forced by circumstances to drop their battle to save his daughter. It has to be difficult for a warrior to engage in what must feel like a retreat, but a military strategist has one eye firmly on the long-term result, and in this case, that was trying to do what was best for his daughter.
Sandy White Hawk, who works on Native American adoption cases, called on attendees to pray for Brown and for Matt and Melanie Capobianco, Veronica's adoptive parents.According to reports, Mr. Brown did not speak throughout the entire ceremony.
This community knows well the power of quilts. Perhaps the prayer quilt wrapped around him will keep both Dusten and Veronica enfolded in each others' hearts until she's old enough to return on her own.
More "This Week In American Indian News" & Latest Updates on Kossack Regional Meet-Up News Below the Frybead Thingey
I wrote here two weeks ago about the effects that the Republicans'
In addition to direct federal assistance for foster care, health, education and other programs, many of them rely on the U.S. government to oversee and disburse revenues generated by reservation activities such as oil and gas development. Those funds, too, were tied up by the shutdown because the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs lacked the manpower to process payments.Now that the government has re-opened, for most of the country, it's back to business more or less as usual. But for too many Indian nations, that's not the case.
Many Indian tribes are among the nation's poorest demographics already. As I noted on Labor Day, at least 15 tribal nations have unemployment rates of more than 80%; two exceed 90%. The so-called "Great Recession of 2008" (a/k/a the Bush Recession) has had grossly disparate negative impacts on American Indians, whether living on or off a reservation. The percentage of Native Americans reported as part of the national labor force is the lowest of any ethnic group, as is the percentage classified as "employed"; they have the second-highest rate of unemployment (as defined by federal standards) of any ethnic group in the country, second only to that of African Americans.
Against this backdrop, this year's sequester has been devastating for many tribes. In many areas, the cuts have decimated — and in some cases, have utterly destroyed — programs to feed the hungry; protect women, children, and elders from domestic violence; provide care for children and elders in need; maintain housing and furnish heat; provide basic medical care; keep suicide prevention programs running; and even keep schools open. Now, the shutdown has left in its wake an even greater swath of destruction of basic services.
On Montana's Crow Indian Reservation, about 30 home health providers were among employees that remained furloughed Thursday with no word on when they might return to work, said Todd Wilson, director of the tribe's health department.In places like Spirit Lake, already suffering from devastating economic poverty and struggling to survive under the microscope of white Republican politicians looking for any excuse to steal their children and their sovereignty, the shutdown has worked to keep families apart, just as it has for a catastrophically ill Crow child:
Three children from the Spirit Lake Tribe will not be reconciling with their mom this week because the Bureau of Indian Affairs social worker required to be present at a custody hearing on Friday had been furloughed. A boy from the Crow Tribe with a rare form of cancer can expect his parents to be with him at the hospital for just one month of his six-month treatment regime because the tribe’s medical assistance program does not anticipate having enough money to keep them in a Ronald McDonald House any longer.This was entirely predictable. Among Indians, it's safe to say that it was expected.
"When things like this happen, it usually trickles down to the poorest of the poor, and Native Americans, per capita, are in the lowest spectrum of income in the U.S.," said Brian Cladoosby, president-elect of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of Washington state's Swinomish Tribe."Government by chaos" is being generous. It's actually government by vendetta.
Tribal leaders are relieved that the shutdown is over for now, but they realize the risk that another one may be inflicted on the country in a matter of months. It makes planning difficult, particularly when winter is on the way (and in some areas, apparently already here).
California's Yurock Tribe expects to have 60 furloughed workers back on the job within 48 hours, said the tribe's vice chairman, Susan Masten. That comes after the tribe shut down a wide range of programs Oct. 7, including tutoring programs for students, funds for the elderly, college scholarships, and general assistance payments to about 50 families.And Mr. King, the President of the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes, remains worried about the consequences of taking out a loan. But they desperately need to cover their $2 million shortfall, and if things go bad in the Beltway again, the lack of this small safety net could be ruinous:
A loan would sap the tribes' budget since they would have to pay an unspecified amount of interest. But King said there was little choice, and that the money would protect against a repeat scenario should congressional budget negotiations again unravel in coming months.Meanwhile, as a result of the sequester, the Impact Aid that funds Indian schools remains out of reach. A new cycle of grant funding, on which a multitude of tribal schools and programs depend, begins November 1, but no one knows the extent to which the shutdown will effect the availability of that funding beginning next month. And with WIC funds halted during the shutdown and SNAP funds set for reduction effective November 1, Native children and families both on and off reservations are at greatly increased risk of going hungry.
And this is why what we do here — the Food Justice Blogathon, the Propane Project, raising funds for Okiciyap — is so important. When the other side is doing its best to ensure that government cannot perform its most basic functions, sometimes efforts like these are all that stand between too many people and starvation, freezing, and worse.
TO PRESERVE ENVIRONMENT, SACRED LANDS
In recent weeks, we've covered stories of multiple tribal nations fighting back hard against the rapacious land and resource consumption of extractive corporations. This week, it's the Nez Perce — or, as they call themselves, the Nimi'ipuu, the French "Nez Perce" label being predictably inaccurate anyway.
The tribal nation has resolved to take on some of the world's largest, most powerful energy companies, all in the service of protecting their lands and their rights.
US Highway 12 runs through the Nez Perce reservation and the tribe’s historic cultural territory, along the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers. It’s also the cheapest route for the Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips and General Electric corporations to transport giant oil-processing equipment, from manufacturers in Asia for use in the tar sands of Alberta, in Canada. The shipments, called “mega-loads”, are too big to fit beneath overpasses on larger highways. They take up the entire width of the two lane highway.Ms. Oatman's experience, of course, will come as no surprise to the thousands of other Native activists who have staged blockades of convoys, equipment, and other assets belonging to Keystone XL and similar corporations. Violence against the activists, including women, is by now an anticipated side effect.
But Ms. Oatman's bruises were not in vain. Thus far, that convoy was the last megaload to traverse Highway 12. Eleven days ago, a federal judge enjoined the corporations from transporting any more megaloads along highway 12 until appropriate environmental and cultural impact studies have been completed and analyzed.
It was, of course, the tribe's own Chief Joseph who, in 1877, sought to protect his surviving people by announcing: "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."
His descendants have adopted that most famous "no more" and repurposed it to protect their people once again:
"We are not gonna stand by and let this happen," declares Nez Perce tribal chairman Silas Whitman.
I have to think that Chief Joseph would be proud.
A 94-year-old white federal judge has taken up the cause of an American Indian woman from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, convicted six years ago in the death of her child and now in her sixth year of a ten-year prison sentence.
The case is not entirely what it seems from the above description, nor is its disposition — and those are precisely the points that the Honorable Myron Bright sought to make in a speech before a University of North Dakota School of Law forum on disparities in sentencing of American Indians compared to non-Indians convicted of comparable crimes.
The woman is Dana Deegan, now 40. In 1998, when she was 25, she gave birth to a son, her fourth child. Suffering from severe postpartum depression, she wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in his crib. She then gathered her other three children and left her trailer home. In the throes of her illness, she failed to return for two weeks; when she did, of course, the infant was dead.
Authorities didn't charge Ms. Deegan until several years had passed. When they did, they charged her with first-degree murder, which would have carried a sentence of anywhere from decades to life in prison. Faced with that choice, she agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder, and was sentenced to ten years in the federal women's prison in Waseca, Minnesota.
A horrible case? Of course. A tragedy? Certainly. A crime? Ah, you see, that depends.
On what? Well, for one, on the race of the mother involved.
Keep in mind that this is not speculation. This can shown from sentencing records (and some examples appear in Judge Bright's dissent).
In often strong tones showing anger, Bright described how unjust Deegan’s sentence seems to him.When the mother is white, mitigating circumstances post-partum depression is taken into account. The whole affair is labeled a tragedy, and great care is taken that the "incident" not "ruin the mother's whole life."
When the mother is Indian, it's evidence of mens rea, of a being not merely a bad parent but a bad person, of pure criminality. There are no mitigating circumstances.
The lawyer in me — particularly, the specialist in judicial ethics that I used to be — is shocked that a sitting judge would involve himself so personally in a case that came before him.
The realist in me knows that it happens all the time in the dominant culture, in ways large and small. There's nearly always a thumb on the scale, and the race of the defendant is all too often the determining factor in whether that thumb is weighted in favor of the defendant or the system.
And the Indian in me wants to stand up and cheer because at last, someone on the bench is willing to say publicly what we've all always known privately: that that thumb is indeed on the scale, and weighting it against Native defendants. More, that someone is actually fighting for one of us.
Do not, for one moment, mistake what I'm saying here. Ms. Deegan committed a crime, and an especially tragic one. A little Indian boy who today would have been fifteen years old, very nearly a young man, died as a result of her actions. But even in 1998, we knew what severe post-partum depression could do, and had Ms. Deegan been white and living in a non-reservation environment, resources would much more likely have been readily available to protect her child and help her cope; failing that, compassion would have been shown in whether and how she was prosecuted, much less convicted and sentenced.
For the real Dana Deegan, however, a Native woman living on one of the country's poorest reservations, not only were such resources inaccessible, but she was guaranteed prosecution, conviction, and a harsh sentence.
And that is obscene.
You can read Judge Bright's dissent here, beginning on page 17 [.pdf].
Dana Deegan's family and allies have launched a petition drive seeking clemency. You can learn how to support that effort here.
Let's build communities!
Every region needs a meatspace community like SFKossacks.
We take care of each other in real life.
I urge YOU to take the lead and organize one in your region.
Please tell us about it if you do and we're here for advice.
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY
NEW GROUPS IN THE PROCESS OF ORGANIZING:These are the groups that have started since * NEW DAY * began. Please Kosmail navajo if you have started a group before that.
Send a Kosmail to the organizers and ask for an invitation to the group.• Northern Indiana Area: Kosmail Tim Delaney
• Long Island: Kosmail grannycarol
• Northern Michigan: Kosmail JillS
• Nebraska: Kosmail Nebraska68847Dem
• Westburbia Chicago Kossacks: Kosmail Majordomo
• New York Hudson Valley Kossacks: Kosmail boran2
• North Carolina Triangle Kossacks: Kosmail highacidity
• Caprock Kossacks (Panhandle/Caprock/Lubbock/Amarillo area) : Kosmail shesaid
• West Texas Kossacks (including Big Bend Region and El Paso) : Kosmail Yo BubbaNote to the above new leaders: Feel free to leave a comment any day reminding readers about your new group. Also, tell us about your progress in gathering members. Kosmail me when you've chosen a good name for your group and have created a the group. Then I'll move you to the NEW GROUPS LIST. When you've planned a date for your first event I'll make a banner for you to highlight your event in our diaries and your diaries.
NEW GROUPS LIST:
• Kansas City Kossacks - Formed Oct 15, 2012, Organizer: [Founder stepped down]
ESTABLISHED GROUPS LIST: (List will grow as we discover them)
Friday, October 25th
LAKossacks & SoCal Inland Empire See Lewis Black!
TIME: 9:00 PM
LOCATION: Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa
32-250 Bob Hope Dr. • Rancho Mirage
ORGANIZER: Send 714day a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: L.A. Kossacks, Lewis Black Fans in So Cal
Friday, October 25th
Meet the Daily Kos Editorial Staff!
TIME: 6:00 PM
LOCATION: Daily Kos HQ
Address given privately to RSVP'ers • Berkeley
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
You will need to bring Potluck.
HQ will be providing the main course; Salvadoran pupusas queso y loroco, (thick corn masa tortilla stuffed with cheese & Salvadoran vegetables and served with curtido & salsa) tamales de sal, (chicken tamales with potato & gravy steamed in plantain leaves) tamales de elote, (white ground corn served steamed) fried yucca and plantain.
Please volunteer for beverages & side dishes needed below.
- POTLUCK SIGNUP -
20 bottles of wine [13 down, 7 to go]
16 six-packs of beer [9 down, 7 to go]
8 six-packs soft drinks [1 down, 7 to go]
6 six-packs bottles of water [6 complete]
5 appetizers, anything goes here. Whatcha' got? [3 down, 2 to go]
4 green salads needed, each to feed 10 [4 complete]
3 black bean side dishes needed, each to feed 10 (need Salvadoran inspiration?)
3 rice side dishes needed, each to feed 10 (need Salvadoran inspiration?)
6 desserts, a dozen hand-held desserts each [5 down, 1 to go]
ANNOUNCING: A Carved Pumpkin Contest with 1st, 2nd and 3rd Prizes. Feel free (or not) to bring an already carved pumpkin complete with candle. They will be placed on the tables for decoration and then voted on by attendees. Remember, a PRE-carved pumpkin.
2. Susan Gardner
3. Meteor Blades
4. Joan McCarter
6. Faith Gardner
7. Will Rockafellow
8. Jen Hayden
9. Paul Hogarth
10. Chris Bowers
11. Rachel Colyer
12. Michael Langenmayr
13. Jason Libsch
17. navajo + large ice chest with ice + 4 bottles of red wine
18. Lusty + dessert
19. side pocket + four 6pks beer + 2 wines + stuffed mushrooms appetizer
20. paradise50 + four 6pks beer
21. smileycreek + 4 wines
22. citisven + beer + beet dip
23. norm + pumpkin bars
24. Lorikeet + big bowl of fruit
25. kimoconnor + appetizer
26. remembrance and TLO + 1 wine
27. Glen the Plumber + Pasta Mystery Dish
29. dharmasyd + brownies
30. ceebee7 + green salad
32. Dave in Northridge + 2 bottles of wine
34. LinSea + six 6pks of bottled water
38. justiceputnam + grilled balsamic veggies
40. exlrrp + souvenirs ;) !
41. shanikka + salad
44. jpmassar + dessert
45. PatG + dessert
46. LaughingPlanet + one 6pk of juice drinks
47. Mrs. side pocket
Saturday, October 26th
Drinks and Dinner at Lefty O'Doul's
TIME: 5:00 PM
LOCATION: Lefty O'Doul's
333 Geary St • San Francisco near Union Square
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
6. Glen the Plumber
9. Dave in Northridge
Saturday, October 26th
Houston Kossacks Meet-up
TIME: 1:00 PM
LOCATION: Cafe Mezza
6100 Westheimer Road • Houston
ORGANIZER: Send Chrislove a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: Houston Area Kossacks: Meet-Up Scheduled for Saturday, October 26!
3. Mr. suesue
Saturday, October 26th
New England Kossacks Meet-up
TIME: 10:30 AM
40 Washington Avenue • Portland, ME
ORGANIZER: Send nhox42 a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: C+J Kossack Fall Meetup (Updated 9/25/13)
3. Portia Elm (a potential mileage winner!)
6. Bill in Portland Maine
7. Common Sense Mainer
15. Jane in Maine
SFKossacks BBQ in the Wine Country
We will also be honoring Día de los Muertos with an altar, feel free to bring something to place there.
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
1. Andrew McGuire
6. Hunter/elfling offspring
14. Mr. dksbook
17. side pocket
18. Mrs. side pocket
20. ceebee7's sister
21. leema (will carpool from Marin)
22. Meteor Blades
23. Glen The Plumber
Send navajo a kosmail if you post a diary about an event so we can update our round-up.
Okay. Floor's open.
Tell us what you are doing on this NEW DAY?