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Native Americans

Abusive Priests On Indian Reservations Leave ‘Profound Wound’

Jan 28, 2016
Attorney Vito De La Cruz in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Until the 1960s, Catholic boarding schools forcibly took Native American children from their families.

Ever since a tense, armed standoff near Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch in 2014, a vast and sensitive piece of federal public land adjacent to the Grand Canyon has gone unmanaged and unpatrolled.

It's safe to travel into the area called Gold Butte so long as you're not in a federal vehicle, according to Jaina Moan of Friends of Gold Butte, which wants to see the area federally protected.

The last time there was any known federal presence was last summer, when scientists under contract with the Bureau of Land Management were camped here, gathering field research.

When new signs go up on the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge this year changing it to bear the name of Billy Frank Jr., he won't be there to see it.

But his son takes solace in knowing that lots of other people will.

"People will drive through the Nisqually area, a stone's throw from where my dad was raised, and see my dad's name for the rest of time," Willie Frank, Billy's son, said. "He's never going to be gone."

In the Navajo culture, teachers are revered as "wisdom keepers," entrusted with the young to help them grow and learn. This is how Tia Tsosie Begay approaches her work as a fourth-grade teacher at a small public school on the outskirts of Tucson, Ariz.

For Navajos, says Begay, your identity is not just a name; it ties you to your ancestors, which in turn defines you as a person.

"My maternal clan is 'water's edge'; my paternal clan is 'water flows together,' " she explains. "Our healing power is through humor and laughter, and I try to bring that to my classroom."

With the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon in its fifth day, a local Native American tribe says the militants are "desecrating sacred property."

Oregon Public Broadcasting's Amanda Peacher tells our Newscast unit that Burns Paiute tribal leaders denounced the militants and demanded that they leave. "The 190,000-acre wildlife refuge is within Paiute ancestral lands," Amanda says.

Tribal Chairperson Charlotte Rodrique says that she is "offended by occupiers' statements about returning the land to its rightful owners," Amanda reports.

About 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, the latest statistics suggest, and it's probably about as common on Native American reservations as anywhere else. But a diagnosis in Indian Country is rarer, say mental health workers. That's likely at least partly because of a cultural belief — many Native American communities don't recognize dementia as a disorder.

Congress has adjourned for the year without authorizing the Klamath water agreements. And now the locally-negotiated compromises will expire at the end of the year unless signees decide to extend.

The three agreements would have provided a degree of peace in the Klamath basin water wars. But they needed congressional approval to move forward.

Supporting groups will meet Monday, Dec. 28, to decide whether to wait around yet another year for Congress to act. But some parties are already indicating they want out.

US Supreme Court
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The US Supreme Court heard opening arguments today in a case that could drastically limit that power of tribal courts. David Hyde talks to Robert Anderson, director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington, about the case and how it would affect tribes here in Washington state.

Shane Underwood (left) and his son, David, stand at the Quinault Indian Nation’s seafood plant in Taholah, Washington. The loss of the largest glacier that feeds the Quinault River and rising seas are threatening the tribe’s way of life.
Ashley Ahearn, KUOW/EarthFix

TAHOLAH, Wash. - A big question is confronting international leaders in the Paris climate talks: How do they help poor, island and coastal nations threatened by rising oceans, extreme weather and other climate change-related risks?

In the Northwest, sea-level rise is forcing a Native American tribe to consider abandoning lands it has inhabited for thousands of years.

'Tribal fishing below Horn Rapids Dam'
Flickr Photo/Scott Butner (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1Of6aXq

Bill Radke speaks with Maria Hinojosa, host of NPR's Latino USA, about the recent episode "Reservations," which features the Yakama Nation in Eastern Washington. Yakama tribal members there are now outnumbered three to one by Latino immigrants. Hinojosa said the increasing number of Mexican farm workers are pushing the tribe toward an existential crisis.  

Latino USA airs on KUOW Tuesdays from 11 p.m. to midnight. 

Heavy rains have flooded the one road in and out of La Push on the Washington coast. That means the 300-400 residents of the Quileute Indian Reservation are cut off.

A South Puget Sound tribe is planning a grand opening at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday for what it believes is the nation's first marijuana store on a reservation.

A totem pole stolen by actor John Barrymore in 1931 that later ended up as a yard decoration for actor Vincent Price was returned to Alaska tribal members on Thursday.

The Associated Press reports that the stolen pole was one of more than 100 that once stood in the old village of Tuxecan on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, which was inhabited by the Tlingit people.

The Yakama Nation will have more control with its tribal police and courts over crimes committed on the nation’s reservation. That’s according to the federal Interior Department this week.

Matt Remle drafted the resolution adopted by the Seattle City Council recognizing the ongoing negative consequences of the American Indian boarding schools
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

On Oct. 12, the Seattle City Council voted to acknowledge the trauma caused by the government’s American Indian boarding schools. Matt Remle, an educator and member of the Lakota tribe, talked about the lasting impacts with KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel.

You are five years old. You are literally taken from your home. There was no choice. You have somebody coming to your door to take you away to these boarding schools.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will hold public meetings the week October 12 in Richland, Washington, about opening Rattlesnake Mountain to the public.

This wildfire season has hit northwest tribal lands particularly hard. Firefighters’ first priority is “life and property.” But some tribal members wonder why protecting some kinds of property—like farms and even second homes— comes before tribal forest land.

Halibut catch in Alaska.
Flickr Photo/Jay Cross (CC BY 2.0)

Jeannie Yandel talks with Lee van der Voo, a Portland-based investigative reporter for Investigate West, about her reporting on how some sustainably-certified pollock and sole fisheries are actually harming small, Native halibut fishing communities in western Alaska. 

Fewer than 20 miles north of Portland, Ore., off Interstate 5 in southwest Washington state, sits a 150-acre former dairy farm. The Cowlitz Indian Tribe eyed the grassy field as the future home of a casino, and a developer purchased the land for the tribe more than a decade ago.

"It will be a good attraction for the whole community here, drawing thousands of people daily but also providing thousands of jobs," says Bill Iyall, the Cowlitz tribal chairman.

Artist Lois Thadei in woven hat, photographed at Ginger Street in Olympia during Art Walk.
Courtesy of Kay Shultz

Lois Thadei’s full name is Lois Chichnikoff Thadei.

But everyone calls her Louie. She says white people have a hard time pronouncing her name.

Christian Cultee, a student at the Northwest Indian College, with a rocket that broke the sound barrier.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Chris Cultee will have a close-up view when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flies past Pluto on Tuesday.

Cultee, who attends the Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham, is an intern at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center this summer. He tweeted Monday about his experiences at @NASASunEarth with the hash tag #RaceOnTech. 

First lady Michelle Obama spoke to Native youth at the White House last week, saying their customs, values, and discoveries "are at the heart of the American story."

"Yet as we all know, America hasn't always treated your people and your heritage with dignity and respect. Tragically, it's been the opposite," Obama continued.

Obama addressed the inaugural White House Tribal Youth Gathering, which brought together more than 1,000 youths from around the country. The conference featured sessions on safety, health and education, moderated by young people.

Duwamish Chairwoman Cecile Hansen, left, stands with family and supporters at the tribe's longhouse.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Duwamish tribal members say they'll keep fighting after the federal government denied their longstanding petition to be recognized as a tribe.

Duwamish tribal chairwoman Cecile Hansen hold her great-grandson, Maximus Pearson in this photo from May 2013.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

A long journey for Seattle’s Duwamish Tribe appeared to have hit a dead end Thursday. The federal government rejected the tribe’s decades-long fight for official recognition -- and many benefits that come with it. KUOW’s Liz Jones reports.

Voices of Youth Keep Lushootseed Language Alive

Jun 24, 2015
Maria Martin teaches Lushootseed to preschoolers at the Tulalip Montessori School.
KUOW Photo/Ben Gauld

In Maria Martin's preschool classroom at the Tulalip Montessori School, the children were learning to count to 10. 

"Two!" they shouted.

But this lesson wasn't in English. "In Lushootseed!" Martin instructed her class.

"Saliʔ!" their tiny voices rang out.

Makah whalers celebrate atop a dead gray whale after a successful hunt seen in this May 17, 1999, file photo, in Neah Bay, Wash.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Ross Reynolds talks to historian Joshua Reid about his new book, a history of the Makah tribe  titled, “The Sea is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs."   

The Makahs' tribal land occupies  the Northwest corner of Washington state.  They gained worldwide attention in 1999 when they resumed the traditional practice of hunting for grey whales. Reid's book takes a fresh look at the controversy seen through the  history of the Makahs.

Reid, a member of the Snohomish tribe, was born and raised in Washington. In the fall he’ll be at the University of Washington as an associate professor of history and American Indian Studies.

Christian Cultee, a student at the Northwest Indian College, with a rocket that broke the sound barrier.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It started out as a joke. 

The students at Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham were launching little rockets made from recycled water bottles as a way to do some hands-on science.

The University of Washington's Intellectual House.
Screenshot from YouTube

Jeannie Yandel talks with Ross Braine, the University of Washington's tribal liaison, about his big dreams for the University's brand new Intellectual House, a space for Native Americans on campus.

Marcie Sillman talks to author Christine Dupres about her new book "Being Cowlitz: How One Tribe Renewed And Sustained Its Identity." 

Guns line the walls of the firearms reference collection at the Washington Metropolitan Police Department headquarters in Washington, D.C.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

For years, Tulalip tribal officials have been pressing for better access to criminal databases. Then the shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School last fall made the reason all too clear.

Tribal records should have blocked the purchase of the gun used in the shooting. But the records never traveled the seven miles between the Tulalip Tribal Court and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

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