Showing posts from 2020

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

BY   STEPHANIE WOODARD   YES! MAGAZINE, DEC 18, 2020 I n 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 ha

The 2020 Election—How Native Voters Became the Deciders

This article appeared in  In These Times  magazine in 2020. For more on topics like this, see my book, American Apartheid: The Native American Struggle... 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 result s.   

Buffalo to the Rescue!

This story appeared in Rural America In These Times in 2020. For more on topics like this, see my book, American Apartheid: The Native American Struggle... .   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 caused many farmers to have to kill and dispose of millions of pigs and chickens, du

Enhance Your Food Supply: Advice from Native American Master Gardeners

Yes! magazine published this article in 2020. For more on topics like this, see my book,  American Apartheid: The Native American Struggle... . In the Cheyenne River Youth Project garden, excellent soil and hard work produce great veggies M any Americans are now experiencing an erratic food supply for the first time. Among COVID-19’s disruptions are bare supermarket shelves and items available yesterday but nowhere to be found today. As you seek ways to replace them, you can look to  Native gardens  for ideas and inspiration. “Working in a garden develops your relationship to the land,” says Aubrey Skye,  a Hunkpapa Lakota gardener . “Our ancestors understood that. Look at the old pictures. It’s etched on their faces. When you understand it as well, a sense of scarcity and insecurity transforms into a feeling of abundance and control—something we all need these days.” For several years, Skye ran a  CDC-sponsored gardening program  on Standing Rock, a reservation that stradd