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Showing posts from August, 2017

Wildfire Sweeps Past Sacred Sites — The Story in Pictures

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The pickup truck rocked over boulders and rolled through dips and rises in the rough dirt track, as we approached 3,200+ acres of ancient sacred sites, recently deeded to the Western Shoshone by the gold-mining company Klondex Mines. The northern Nevada landscape that photographer Joseph Zummo and I traversed, with Battle Mountain Band official Joseph Holley at the wheel, was a grim brown-black. A massive wildfire that swept through the high desert the previous month had left little more than charred tree trunks and tufts of grass to interrupt a view that ended in dark, distant mountains.


The sacred sites we were seeking—prayer circles, shrines and more—are at the heart of an even larger cultural landscape encompassing tens of thousands of acres. Archaeologists have dated artifacts indicating that Native people have camped and held ceremonies here for at least 14,000 years. Medicine man Reggie Sope, of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, dismisses that figure. “We arose there,” he said.

We …

Joseph Zummo Photo Wins NAJA Award

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Joseph Zummo's photo of Puyallup tribe canoe practice in Puget Sound, in preparation for the annual multi-tribal canoe journey, just won an award from the Native American Journalists Association, of which he is an associate (non-Native) member. For Puyallups, it's about cooperation, caring and connection with the water. When Joe got this shot, he was in the support boat, which follows the canoe and assists when necessary.

Conflict Flares Over Sioux Voting Rights

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Not good enough, said Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Chairman Brandon Sazue, when the state of South Dakota and Buffalo County revealed that Crow Creek reservation voters would have minimal ballot-box access in 2018. The county’s auditor, who is tasked with conducting the election—renting space, training pollworkers and the like—had asked the state for federal Help America Vote Act funding to cover just 11 days across both the primary and general elections. That is far cry from the 94 days available in other parts of the state, Sazue pointed out. 
Native voters have long struggled to get to the polls in Buffalo County. In 2004, a federal court ordered the county to redistrict after an ACLU lawsuit showed that its three commission districts were grossly gerrymandered. Almost 1,500 Natives were packed into one district, while a few hundred additional county residents, Native and white, were split between two more. This allowed whites to control the local government and its resources.

Crow Creek …

Native Rights Two-Step—Tribal Voting Access Inches Forward for Sioux in South Dakota

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Missouri River view from the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe's South Dakota reservation
South Dakota is a state where a former attorney general called applying the Voting Rights Act to Native Americans an "absurdity" and advised the top elections official to ignore it. Where some counties prohibited tribal members from voting and holding non-tribal offices until the 1980s. Where counties may set up polling places far from reservations. Where a sheriff slouching in a precinct doorway in 2014 chilled Native voter turnout.

Where a local elections official dismissed barriers to the Native vote, saying, “A person has to make an effort.”

Polling-place doors have cracked open in recent years, thanks to federal lawsuits and civil-rights complaints, Department of Justiceintervention, and the hard work of Four Directions, a civil-rights organization headquartered on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. Officials in the state, including Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, have have helped push the…