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Native Americans on Police Response to Capitol Insurrection

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 This story first appeared in Yes! magazine in January 2021. “We are unarmed” was the repeated cry of protesters at Standing Rock, who called themselves "water protectors."  PHOTO BY JOSEPH ZUMMO On Jan. 6, while Congress was certifying the 2020 election results, hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. They smashed windows, broke through doors, breached the building, and ran through it, snapping photos of themselves carting off documents and artifacts. No attacking force has rampaged through the Capitol since 1814, when British soldiers torched it during the War of 1812. Tasked with protecting lawmakers and the building, the Capitol Police’s response was wildly disorganized. Their actions ranged from shooting a woman dead to taking a selfie with a rioter. Officers were pepper-sprayed and hit with projectiles; one has died of his injuries. The Capitol Police force detained no insurgents that

Online Powwow Rallies Georgia Native Vote

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Jan 4, 2020 —“Make the vote. Catch the vote. Make the change,” rapped acclaimed hip hop performer  Supaman   (Apsaalooke Nation), seen left. With control of the Senate hanging on Georgia’s two January 5 run-off elections, Supaman, also called Christian Takes Gun Parrish, joined other Native artists and activists in a January 3 online event. Organized by Four Directions voting-rights group, the event was aimed at energizing the state’s indigenous voters.  An estimated 40,000 strong, this bloc has a chance to be as influential in Georgia as the Native vote was across the country in November 2020. Though indigenous people make up a small portion of the US population, they are clustered in states—Alaska, Montana, Arizona, Nevada, and numerous others—where for decades they have had the final word in a range of federal, state, and/or county races.    “We have Joe Biden as President because Indian country came out to vote,” said Congresswoman and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland (D-NM;

“This Is Not Our First Pandemic”: Native Communities‘ Inspiring Ideas for the Post-pandemic Future

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BY   STEPHANIE WOODARD   YES! MAGAZINE, DEC 18, 2020 In reporting on the transformative thinking Native communities are putting into action in these tumultuous times, I heard time and time again: “This is not our first pandemic.” Since the 1500s, when ever-larger numbers of Europeans began arriving in this hemisphere, disasters have come thick and fast for the First Nations, including tens of millions wiped out within a century by continual waves of unfamiliar diseases—measles, influenza, smallpox, typhus, diphtheria, and more. Village after village stood empty. Enduring shock and grief, the survivors relied on ancient lifeways to support them as new trials arose.  Here, three Indigenous communities share heritage ways to live and care for each other that they have refined during this latest pandemic. The aim now, as ever, is ensuring a safe, sustainable future for their people. The plans meet the tests of both time and extreme adversity. Native people have told me so many times it has

The 2020 Election—How Native Voters Became the Deciders

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Versions of this article appeared on the pages and in a website of  In These Times  magazine in November 2020. T he power of Native voters to decide the 2020 presidential election cannot be overstated, U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D ‑ Kan.), a Ho-Chunk Nation citizen, told the Democratic Party in August 2020. States with sizable Indigenous populations — Arizona, Minnesota and others — were in play, Davids said.    Native Americans are more involved and influential in U.S. elections than is commonly understood — fielding scores of candidates for state and national office, running presidential candidate forums and managing energetic get-out-the-vote campaigns. With around 3.7 million Native people of voting age concentrated in Western states — and this voting-age population accounting for up to 11% of the electorate in New Mexico, 12% in Oklahoma and 17% in Alas­ka, as tabulated by NCAI — Native voters can dramatically shape election results.    Tribal backing has helped many candidates to

Buffalo to the Rescue!

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This story first appeared in Rural America In These Times in June 2020. For more on topics like this, see my book, American Apartheid: The Native American Struggle for Self-Determination and Inclusion, available wherever books are sold.   Buffalo in a National Park Service park (photo NPS). “We  have always believed that bringing back the buffalo is important, but the pandemic shows that it is urgent , ”  said Wizipan Little Elk. “We are all talking about food security and what the new normal is going to be…We [at Rosebud] have to get back to our roots and provide an example for the rest of the world.” Little Elk, CEO of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), is referring to the alarming problems the pandemic has exposed in the huge, centralized systems that provides most Americans with their food. Over the last several months, numerous large meat packers closed down after workers were found to be infected with coronavirus. Supply chain problems have cau