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Showing posts from June, 2012

Apache Chef Nephi Craig Plans Native-Foods Conference

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A version of this article first appeared in Indian Country Today in June 2012.

Nephi Craig, executive chef of the fine-dining restaurant at the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Sunrise Park Resort Hotel, has put out a call for proposals for an early-November indigenous food-and-culture conference at the resort, near Greer, Arizona. The setting is the glorious high-desert mountains of northern Arizona, with vast, gaping valleys and soaring mountains dotted with juniper and cacti.
Craig,  shown center left with his staff, is White Mountain Apache and Navajo. He has classical-French training and worldwide experience as a chef and hopes the conference will attract a range of community members and outside folks interested in exploring many aspects and applications of Native foodways. “Native foods are not a trend,” says Craig,. “They are a way to recover our communities and decolonize ourselves.”
Craig says Native people are emerging from what he calls “the Great Interruption” in their foodway…

Summer Events in Ohio's Ancient Earthworks

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A version of this article appeared in Indian Country Today in June 2012.
Deep inside the borders of what is now Ohio sits a complex of ancient earthworks so precisely aligned with the rise and set of the moon that modern surveying equipment could not do better. And this summer, lots of public events means you can enjoy and marvel as the ancients must have done.
The 2,000-year-old site in Newark, Ohio is the largest geometric earthworks complex in the world, with approximately 12-foot-high, grass-covered earthen walls outlining huge circles and other forms. Arising gently from its surroundings, the place--including the tiny portion of the 30-acre Great Circle shown at left--is both a massive modification of the landscape and a masterpiece of subtlety.
Built two millennia ago, one basket-load of dirt at a time, the biggest enclosures would swallow up several football fields; Stonehenge could be tucked into a tiny corner of one of these gigantic shapes. Newark and other Ohio earthworks--Ser…

Dancing with the Stars: Powwow in Ohio’s Celestial Earthworks

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A version of this article appeared in Indian Country Today in June 2012.

A rainy night gave way to a bright, sunny day for the opening of the 30th annual Selma Walker Memorial Day Weekend powwow, sponsored by the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio (NAICCO), in Columbus. This year’s location was extraordinary, emphasizing the deep history and powerful spiritual connections of Native people in Ohio. As head veteran Richard Brings Them, Hunkpapa Lakota, led the grand entry into the arena, the brilliant colors of the dancers’ regalia stood out against the grass-covered earthen walls of the nearby Great Circle, shown below, a 30-acre enclosure that’s part of the 2,000-year-old Newark Earthworks, in Newark and Heath, Ohio.
“This our first spring powwow here,” said Carol Welsh, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, NAICCO director and an organizer of the three-day event (below with Richard Shields, director of Ohio State University's Newark Earthworks Center). “It’s an honor to be at the G…

"Thick Dark Fog" Wins Black Hills Film Festival Award

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A version of this article appeared in Indian Country Today in June 2012. 

During the audience discussion after The Thick Dark Fog, we hardly finished answering one question before someone would break in with another,” said Walter Littlemoon, Lakota, shown above with his wife, Jane Ridgway. “People said, ‘I just didn’t know. I heard the horror stories, but I couldn’t believe them until I saw this movie.’”
Littlemoon and Ridgway had just returned home to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation after a screening at the Black Hills Film Festival of the documentary: the story of Littlemoon’s recovery from the debilitating effects of the abusive boarding schools he attended as a child. “After the Q-and-A, people just swarmed us,” said Ridgway, who also appears onscreen in the film.
Director Randy Vasquez based the one-hour movie on Littlemoon’s memoir, They Called Me Uncivilized: The Memoir of an Everyday Lakota Man from Wounded Knee (iUniverse, 2009), a collaboration with Ridgway. Both book and m…

The Heritage Center on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

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A version of this article appeared in Indian Country Today in June 2012.


TheHeritageCenterof Red Cloud Indian School, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is already one of the country’s most important exhibitors of Native American art, despite its small size and remote location, and it’s poised to get bigger and more influential. As many as 12,000 visitors a year already visit its sleek, white-walled little gallery, shown above, to view historical and modern works by leading Native, primarily Lakota, artists.
The center’s biggest draw, attracting some 70 percent of viewers, is the annual summer Red Cloud Indian Art Show, now in its 44th year. Other exhibits draw on the permanent collection of some 10,000 pieces dating as far back as the early 1800s, while a 2010 special show, Making New Traditions, took thought-provoking modern works to the Dahl Center, in Rapid City, and other institutions in the region. One recent VIP visitor was Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment fo…

Ready for Takeoff: Pine Ridge Reservation Economy Revs Up

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A version of this article appeared in Indian Country Today in June 2012; the tourism information at the end—Shop, Eat, Stay—was updated in November 2014. 
Visiting businesses around the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation these days is like sitting in the cabin of a jet plane just before it streaks down the runway. Though the U.S. Census has repeatedly dubbed the community one of the poorest in the nation, its rolling, pine-fringed hills are also dotted with something that seems to elude the official figures: many creative enterprises, run with enthusiasm, energy and an eye on a better future. Some are tribally owned, like the new East Winds Casino on Highway 18 in Martin, South Dakota, established to drive job creation on the eastern side of the reservation. Other businesses are owned by tribal members, who operate everything from myriad home-based crafts operations to restaurants, B&Bs, motels, gift shops, galleries, adventure outfitters, gas stations, convenience stores and the latest…

Carnage on the Plains, part 1

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Part one of an article that appeared in Indian Country Today in June 2012.


The Oglala Lakota elder spread out the map on her kitchen table. It showed the dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where possessing, consuming or selling booze can land you in jail. “People living in the western part of the reservation can get alcohol in the border town of Oelrichs, South Dakota, where carryout is available [shown left]. I hear a second bar has just been built,” she said, sweeping her hand across the left side of the map. “If you live on the eastern side, around Allen, for example, you can drive over to Martin to drink or buy carryout. In the northern part of the reservation, you can go to Interior. And of course, there’s Whiteclay, to the south of us in Nebraska.” 

Though the town of Whiteclay, shown right, is the most notorious of the tiny, alcohol-soaked border towns surrounding the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, there are plenty of places where booze is easily available to Oglala Sioux Tribe m…