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In 1542, the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez de Cabrillo sailed along the coast of California. While he really didn’t discover anything, he did encounter the Chumash Indians who occupied the three northern large islands of the Santa Barbara archipelago and the shoreline from Malibu Canyon to Estero Bay. The Chumash were a coastal people with a maritime lifestyle.

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Tue Mar 31, 2015 at 06:26 PM PDT

ICWA - Good News from South Dakota

by meralda

Reposted from meralda by navajo Editor's Note: Victory! -- navajo

In a sweeping victory for Indian families, a federal court has ordered South Dakota officials to stop violating the rights of Indian parents and tribes in state child custody proceedings on several grounds according to a release today.

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The Central Plains lie south of the South Dakota-Nebraska border and north of the Arkansas River. It includes Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, southeastern Wyoming, and eastern Colorado. At the time when the Europeans began their invasion of this area it was the home to a number of agricultural Indian nations such as the Ponca, Omaha, Osage, Otoe, Quapaw, Iowa, Missouria, Kansa (also known as Kaw), Pawnee, and Wichita. Some of the migrations of the tribes of the Central Plains are briefly described below.

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Reposted from DIVA by navajo
New county line sign for Oglala Lakota County
New county line sign for Oglala Lakota County
I'm hoping this photo brings you as much pride as it did me. You all helped get out the vote to change the name of Shannon County to Oglala Lakota County in South Dakota.

This past December I wrote about the Daily Kos Community's many progressive accomplishments in 2014. One of those achievements was raising $163,739 to fortify GOTV efforts on South Dakota reservations! This campaign helped to build a long-term American Indian voter infrastructure that will pay off in the future of this state with a long, long history of suppressing the Native vote.

Excerpts of a statement from State Representative Kevin Killer who organized the South Dakota NDN Election Efforts PAC:

The efforts of the SD NDN PAC in the 2014 elections made a tremendous impact at the Federal, State and Local levels. With the generation [of] contributions from the Daily Kos community, we were able to hire organizers on 7 of 9 reservations and the urban areas of Sioux Falls and Rapid City. As South Dakota's voter turnout declined statewide, the only increases in turnout were in the Native communities of South Dakota.

[...]The turnout in the 2014 Senate race was higher than what Sen. Tim Johnson received in 2002 and Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin received in 2010. With investments in off election years and voter registration, the Native Vote will be prepared in 2016 and beyond to make their voices heard at all levels of government.

[...]History was also made this election with the voters of Shannon County approving changing the name to Oglala Lakota County by a 4 to 1 margin with thanks to the support from the Daily Kos community. [Shannon helped take land away from the Oglala Lakota in the 1800s.] This was the first time in over 100 years this happened in South Dakota. This successful campaign has helped spark conversation for other Native communities in South Dakota to consider chaining their county names and provides an opportunity to engage a new generation of voters to make history in their communities.

Shannon County is entirely within the Pine Ridge reservation and was named for a white guy who was key in grabbing the land away from the tribes in the late 1800s. Residents of Pine Ridge were very motivated to change the name to Oglala Lakota, the name of their tribe. Pine Ridge has the largest population of all the South Dakota reservations. The votes there and on the other reservations can be critical in elections in which the winning margin might be only hundreds of votes.

As you know, these motivators are not enough. Traditional get-out-the-vote methods are needed, and their grassroots efforts were supported by this community and shared with your networks. This was critical for folks who live on reservations where their homes are often several miles apart. Many don't have transportation. GOTV takes money and there's not much of that on the reservations, especially at Pine Ridge. It's important to reach out to disenfranchised communities in your state. They often can be huge voting blocks.

Thanks once again for supporting our reservation efforts. You helped raise that new sign above.

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The stereotype of the American Indian adopted by the entertainment industry and by some educational textbooks is based on the horse-mounted, buffalo hunting Plains Indians of the nineteenth century. However, the Plains Indians were not the only ones to adopt the horse and the lifestyle changes that came with it. The Indian nations in the eastern Plateau region also adopted the horse.

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For most people the mention of ancient Mexico brings up images of the Aztecs, the Mayas, and perhaps the ancient city of Teotihucán. Ancient Mexico, however, also includes some sites which are much older than these and which are not tourist attractions. One of these is Tlatilco in the Valley of Mexico.

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American Indians occupied, utilized, and developed the peninsula known as Florida for thousands of years. Our knowledge of the ancient past—of Florida, from 2,000 years ago until about 1,000 years ago—comes primarily from archaeology. Unfortunately, archaeology tells the story of the past based on material remains, which means that these remains must have endured for more than a thousand of years, then be found, and finally interpreted. As a result our picture of ancient Florida is not complete, but rather a series of seemingly disjointed snapshots. Briefly described below are some of the archaeological findings from Florida from 1 CE through 940 CE.

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Reposted from Dan Bacher by navajo

On March 12, the Pit River Tribe and their Native American and environmental allies optimistically left the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco following oral arguments in their long legal battle to protect the Medicine Lake Highlands from geothermal destruction and desecration.

The Pit River people, the lead defendants in the case, are fighting in court to defend the Highlands, known to them as “Saht Tit Lah." The Pit River, Wintun, Karuk, Shasta and Modoc Nations hold the Medicine Lake Highlands sacred, and have used the region for healing, religious ceremonies and tribal gatherings for thousands of years.  

The Tribe and their supporters appeared at the hearing with their attorney, Deborah A. Sivas, Director of the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, in the case of the Pit River Tribe vs. US Bureau of Land Management, Department of Interior, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, & Calpine Corporation, Defendants-Appellees. The Tribe's supporters included the Native Coalition for Medicine Lake Highlands Defense, Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, Save Medicine Lake Coalition, and Medicine Lake Citizens for Quality Environment.

“The struggle to protect the sacred Medicine Lake Highlands has been a long one, but over the years, we have only learned more and more about the importance of the landscape to Native Americans and California more generally,” said Deborah Sivas, who represents the Tribe and environmental organizations in the lawsuit. “I was happy to see that the court understood our arguments that the Tribe has a deep, abiding connection to the area.”

"The judges asked really good questions and we are optimistic about the outcome,” stated Morning Star Gali of the Pit River Tribe. “At one point Calpine said that nobody had the authority except for themselves to challenge the leases. This showed total disregard for the Tribe's utilization of the sacred lake and highlands for over 10,000 years."  

Pit River Tribal Chairman Mickey Gemmill said, "Medicine Lake is a sacred place and it needs to be protected at all costs. We’re trying to preserve our culture and Medicine Lake is part of the beginning of our people. If we allow these corporations to come in and frack, we could lose that chance to bring back that part of our culture. So we’re asking the Calpine Corporation to step back and leave the Medicine Lake Highlands alone.”

The event began at 7 am with a sunrise prayer vigil and ceremonial gathering at Yerba Buena Gardens near the courthouse. Gorrina Gould, Ohlone leader, started the vigil with a prayer to welcome people in Yalamu territory. That was followed by a  prayer and song by Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, and Radley and Louise Davis of the Pit River Tribe, according to Gali.

At around 8 am they began a "Protect Water and Sacred Sites, Defend Human Rights March" from Yerba Buena Park to the James R. Browning US Courthouse and then held a rally with speakers and a song by Radley Davis outside the courthouse. The court hearing lasted from 11:30 AM-12:30 PM and was followed by a press conference on the steps of the courthouse immediately after the hearing.  

Representatives of Native Nations and environmentalist supporters went before the U.S. Court of Appeals to argue their case that the energy leases were renewed illegally by federal agencies in 1998 for industrial development on national forest lands in the Medicine Lake Highlands, a near-pristine area about 30 miles northeast of Mount Shasta that has been designated a “Native American Traditional Cultural District.”

The Native American and environmental plaintiffs assert that industrial energy development would "desecrate and pollute" the beautiful area and pose unacceptable risks to California’s largest fresh water aquifer. They said that contrary to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other laws, the federal agencies never evaluated the threshold question of whether industrial geothermal development is even appropriate for this landscape.

“What was never considered is whether development is even appropriate for the Medicine Lake Highlands in the first place, given the area’s high benefit in holding California’s largest pure underground aquifer," said Michelle Berditschevsky, senior conservation consultant for the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center.  

Berditschevsky said the panel of three Ninth Circuit judges will take the case under advisement, and a decision can be expected within three to nine months, or perhaps even longer depending on the backlog of cases. To read her legal commentary, go to: http://mountshastaecology.org/...    

Medicine Lake is a small high mountain lake, located at an elevation of 6,680 feet, that lies within the Medicine Lake caldera, a depression near the summit of the Medicine Lake volcano. Medicine Lake offers boating, camping, fishing, hiking and swimming and other recreation. It is known for its abundant brook and rainbow trout that anglers pursue with an array of angling methods.

Five new geothermal power plant projects proposed by the Houston-based Calpine Corporation threaten to poison the waters of Medicine Lake, according to the Tribe and their supporters. A report by Dr. Robert Curry, a registered hydro-geologist and professor emeritus at the University of California-Santa Cruz, assessing the potential impacts of geothermal development suggests, “the processes that Calpine were trying to use, required chemicals to try and reach hot rock, as opposed to hot mud...were fairly experimental, probably inefficient, and would without doubt lead to contamination of the water supply.”

The Highlands are home to many unique plant and wildlife species that depend on clean water to survive. "Every day during the summer, bald eagles and osprey can be seen diving into Medicine Lake for fish. Deer pass through the campgrounds and occasionally an elk or black bear can be seen crossing one of the roads leading to the lake," said Gali.  

“Geothermal development in the surrounding national forest would increase traffic, noise, water and air pollution and would fragment wildlife habitat, turning the remote landscape into an industrial wasteland and threatening a reliable source of pure water,” said Janie Painter, executive director of the Medicine Lake Citizens for Quality Environment, consisting of Medicine Lake cabin owners and recreationalists.  

Jason George, a certified Law student in the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, noted, "It was great to see such a big turnout by tribe members at the hearing. We were gratified to represent the tribe and fight for the future of the Medicine Lake Highlands in the 9th Circuit."

As California enters its fourth year of a record drought, the Medicine Lake Highlands hold tremendous and critical value as a water supply to California's fish, wildlife and people from the summit of the caldera to the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary.

Gali pointed out how the water from the aquifer travels from Medicine Lake and the Highlands to the Fall River, Pit River, Sacramento River and then finally to the imperiled San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary. "If Calpine is given the green light, this will definitely be a big detriment to the fish and the entire fragile ecosystem,” said Gali.

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, commented, “The tribal attorneys did a fine job today. The questions the judge asked Calpine Energy forced their hand, and were quite direct. You know, these courts really weren’t built for us, for native peoples, yet we rely on them when development and economics override Mother Earth."

“If the Pit River Nation prevails, it will be a win for everyone in California. Somewhere there must be someone who can stand up for Mother Earth. As I took photos today of the children who traveled here with parents, I was praying that this fight would not continue in their lifetime,” added Chief Sisk.

The case proceeds through the courts as Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast-track his Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the Peripheral Tunnels, considered by many to be the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history. The $67 billion plan will hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, while imperiling the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

The court arguments may be archived at:  http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/... https://www.youtube.com/...

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In 1850 California was admitted to the United States as its 31st state. As with some other states, Native Americans were not seen as desirable inhabitants of the state. For the first decade of its existence, the State of California carried on a series of privatized wars of extermination against the Native American population. California’s first governor, Peter Burnett, openly called for the extermination of Indian tribes.

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Sun Mar 08, 2015 at 08:15 AM PDT

Ancient America: Florida, BCE

by Ojibwa

With exciting new finds coming from the OldVero Ice Age Site in Florida which are providing evidence of human occupation 14,000 years ago, this is a good time to review some of the ancient (before 2,000 years ago) archaeological sites in Florida.

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Thu Mar 05, 2015 at 07:52 AM PST

Indians 101: The Gros Ventre

by Ojibwa

At the time the first European explorers and fur traders were entering the Northern Plains in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the Indian tribe known as the Gros Ventre (Atsina) were living in the Milk River drainage of Missouri River in what is now Montana. Like the other Northern Plains tribes of Montana and Alberta they had developed a lifeway which involved hunting buffalo.

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With the formation of the United States in the late eighteenth century, policies toward American Indians generally followed the British colonial model in which Indians, like wolves, bears, and trees, were viewed as impediments to the taming of the wilderness. The British did not seek to incorporate American Indians into their colonial culture, but to isolate and segregate them and/or to exterminate them.

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