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Showing posts from October, 2011

Lost children’s annual memorial march: Event called for reform of Iowa’s parental-rights laws

P ublished in Indian Country Today in November 2010. R estoration of parental rights was the theme of the Eighth Annual Memorial March to Honor Our Lost Children, organized each year for the day before Thanksgiving by Four Directions Community Center, a Sioux City nonprofit. In preparing for the event, the group’s executive director, Frank LaMere, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, encouraged participation by Native people who have had children taken from them by the Iowa child-welfare system or because of involvement with the courts. About 200 responded to his call over the course of November 24, a blustery day with freezing rain that made the start of the march — across the Missouri River bridge that connects South Sioux City, Nebraska, with Sioux City, Iowa — a challenge for young and old. “We cross the bridge because many of Iowa’s Native people came here from Nebraska in search of a better life,” explained Four Directions program director Judy Yellowbank, Winnebago Tribe of N

Alaska Native Corporations tackle criticism: An interview with Aaron Schutt, chief operations officer of Doyon, Limited

P ublished in Indian Country Today in December 2010.   T hree of the 13 regional Alaska Native Corporations got together two years ago to propose improvements to ANC participation in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) federal sole-source contracting program, said Aaron M. Schutt, Athabaskan, senior vice president and chief operating officer of one of the firms, Doyon, Limited. Joining Doyon were Cook Inlet Region, Inc., and Arc tic Slope Regional Corporation. The contracting program has now come under fire, with Senator Claire McCaskill (D.-Missouri) submitting legislation that would limit the size of contracts ANCs receive to those allowed individual small businesses. The reform coalition had suggested the changes to prevent just such attacks, said Schutt, who is an attorney. “We believe improvements in three areas — increased competition, greater accountability and enforcement of existing rules — will strengthen ANCs’ participation in the program. Had these reforms o

Changes to the SBA’s 8(a) program: An interview with Lance Morgan

Published in Indian Country Today in November 2010. T ribal economies have already been impacted by recent restrictions placed on sole-source federal contracts they obtain through the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program, according to Lance Morgan, chairman of the board of the Native American Contractors Association and CEO of Ho-Chunk, Inc., a successful company owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, of which Morgan is a member. “Contracts Ho-Chunk was negotiating are already in question,” said Morgan.             The 8(a) contracts — for tribally owned firms, Alaska Native Corporations ( ANCs) and Native Hawaiian Organizations — make up 1.3% of sole-source federal contracts, mostly originating from the Defense Department. Senate Armed Services Committee member Senator Claire McCaskill (D.-Missouri) supported the initial set of restrictions, via soon-to-be-implemented Section 811 of a defense appropriations bill.             Now, McCaskill has introduced le

Election reflections: Julie Garreau talks about her recent run for the South Dakota Senate

P ublished in I ndian Country Today in November 2010. J ulie Garreau, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, didn’t win the state senate seat she sought in the last election, but she enjoyed running. “I think I would have been a great representative for District 18, but I learned a lot during the race — about politics, campaigning, getting out the vote, and the Democratic party. I was able to shed light on issues our people are concerned about, including the Indian Child Welfare Act and protecting our sovereignty. In a recent meeting of Democratic candidates to discuss the election, I was frank about what we could have done better.” In the end, Garreau said, “I’m a better person for the experience.” In fact, she added, laughing, “District 28 lost, but I gained tremendously.” Canvassing was her favorite part of the process. Outgoing and an optimist by nature, Garreau found going door-to-door a wonderful experience. “I loved meeting people. Children became our little guides in each

Superhero Artist: He looks like a mild-mannered illustrator, but he takes on comic-book monsters and villains

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P ublished in Indian Country Today in October 2010. T hroughout Indian country, people know of Patrick Rolo’s illustrations for the Eagle Books series from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has distributed some 2 million of the children’s books, which help Native kids prevent diabetes by means of proper nutrition, exercise, and traditional beliefs. But Rolo, Bad River Band of Ojibway, wears other hats as well — including newspaper and magazine illustrator, painter and comic-book artist. He’s been a penciller (the person who draws the figures that’ll be colored in) for comics such as “Mortal Kombat,” “Iron Man” and, most recently, the “All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z.” Rolo’s first comic was “Nightmares on Elm Street” in 1991. The self-trained artist was 23 and had been submitting his work to comic-book editors and showing his portfolio at comic-book convention talent searches. “I’d been getting rejections for a year and a half, t

New directions for Four Directions Community Center, in Sioux City

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Published in Indian Country Today in August 2010. A lready at the center of a web of activity that encompasses much of Woodbury County, Iowa, and the surrounding region, Four Directions Community Center is poised for growth. A new alliance with Siouxland Human Investment Partnerships, a 12-year-old area nonprofit, will develop Four Directions’ capabilities, said SHIP’s director, Jim France. The center’s building near downtown Sioux City is already bustling with activity. As people arrive — for parenting classes, AA gatherings, Lakota language instruction, domestic violence education, meetings of the policy group Community Initiative for Native Children and Families, a University of Iowa college-awareness program for youth, regular meetings with state officials, community gatherings, including wakes and funerals, and much more — the first person they’re likely to encounter is administrative assistant Liz White, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, who presides over the comings and goings w

Listening cure: South Dakota Senate candidate wants to hear voters’ concerns

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P u blished in Indian Country Today in August 2010. T he district candidate Julie Garreau wants to represent in the South Dakota State Senate stretches from the hilly banks of the Missouri River mid-state across rolling prairies, buttes, and pocket “badlands” to South Dakota’s western boundary. Covering more than 13,000 square miles, the rugged terrain of District 28 encompasses ranches, farms, towns, and two large Indian reservations, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock.             The area’s economic and social problems are just as big and just as rugged, but Garreau, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe whose name will be on the ballot in November, wants to fix them by listening, rather than by telling people what’s going to happen. “This is not about me. It’s about the people of this district and what they need. We need economic development that helps everyone. We want our farmers and ranchers to prosper. We want our young people to stay here and build fam

Parsing the doctrine of discovery: Lawyer examines new issues in Indian law

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P u blished in Indian Country Today in July 2010. A June 2010 ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of a new  Westminster, Colorado,   office for the Native American-owned law firm Smith, Shelton & Ragona. The year-old firm has three partners: Keith C. Smith, Navajo; Brett Lee Shelton, Oglala Lakota; and Donald M. Ragona, Matinnecock, shown above with associates and staffers.  I ndian Country Today spoke to Shelton, who also serves as council for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, about the firm’s work with tribal communities. Indian Country Today: Why did you set up shop in this area, just north of Denver? Brett Lee Shelton: It places us in the center of Indian country, keeping us in touch with Native communities and their issues. Our partners and most of our staff are tribal members who are fluent or reasonably comfortable in our home languages and cultures. As a result, we understand that important concepts are sometimes formed in tribal languages, rather than in Engli

Labor Day powwow features Sauk and Meskwaki old-time homecoming

P u blished in Indian Country Today in August 2010. O n September 4 and 5, Black Hawk State Historic Site, in Rock Island, Illinois, will host a celebrated powwow that first took place in 1940. Recently revived after an approximately 20-year hiatus, the Labor Day Weekend occasion has been dubbed the Sauk and Meskwaki Welcome Home Celebration and features the return to their traditional lands of peoples also known by their federally recognized names: the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma and the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, from the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama, Iowa. Over the years, descendents of Black Hawk, the prominent 19 th -century Sauk leader after whom the park is named, have attended the event. “Sauk and Meskwaki people told us they were thrilled to be back here and that elders recalled wonderful memories of visiting in their youth,” said Regina Tsosie, Navajo, director of the Native American Coalition of the Quad Cities. NACQC is sponsoring the powwow,

Cherokee Nation challenges Tennessee recognition of 6 tribes

P u blished in Indian Country Today in August 2010. A representative of the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation has filed a lawsuit in Tennessee charging the state’s Commission of Indian Affairs violated open-meeting “sunshine” laws when it unexpectedly gave state recognition to 6 local groups. The commission appears to have altered its rules in order to do so. It took action on June 19, about a month after the state legislature had curtailed its authority and 11 days before the date on which the legislature had slated it to go out of existence.             Commission chairperson Tammera Hicks called the event “historic” and a fulfillment of the agency’s purpose. Green-lighted groups include the Cherokee Wolf Clan, Central Band of Cherokee, Tanasi Council, Chikamaka Band, United Eastern Lenape Nation of Winfield, Tennessee and Remnant Yuchi Nation.              Principal Chief Michell Hicks, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, criticized the process. “As one of three federal