Native Americans | KUOW News and Information

Native Americans

Tow boat captains, wheat exporters, and the directors of the farthest inland ports in the Northwest are breathing easier today.

The people who live in the northwest corner of New Mexico consider Darlene Arviso to be a living saint.

"Everybody knows me around here. They'll be waving at me," she says from behind the wheel of the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission water truck. "They call me the water lady."

That's because Arviso hauls water for tribe members of the Navajo Nation, where, on average, residents use 7 gallons a day to drink, cook, bathe and clean. The average person in the U.S. uses about 100 gallons a day.

Washington Tribe Wants Feds To Halt Coal Project

Jan 5, 2015

LUMMI RESERVATION, Wash. -- The Lummi Nation issued a letter Monday to the U.S. government seeking to end the project's permitting process for a coal-shipping project encircled by their Puget Sound fishing grounds.

When the federal government decided to make plutonium in southeast Washington, early farmers and whole villages of Native Americans were kicked out. Now, a new collection of oral histories tells some of these stories of the Hanford site.

Mural near the Fisherman's Cove Marina and Lummi Island Ferry on Lummi Nation.
KUOW Photo/Jeff Emtman

After a visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in North Dakota, President Barack Obama announced an initiative to help Native American youth.

Obama's proposal aims to provide culturally appropriate education at tribal schools, access to mental health providers and peer counseling and better preparation for college and careers. KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel spoke with Gyasi Ross, a writer, attorney and member of the Blackfeet tribe. He lives on the Suquamish reservation north of Seattle.

“You can see it in Obama's face, you can hear it in the words that he speaks -- he actually has a passion for trying to do something proactively for Native people," Ross said. "I knew that it was coming from a good place.”

The U.S. Department of Justice this week opened the door to a legalized pot market on tribal land.

The Yakama Nation and neighboring tribes are strongly objecting to a Congressional move to offer public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain, a place tribal members consider sacred.

NW Tribes Bring Coal Concerns To National Conference

Dec 4, 2014

Northwest tribes took part in a national gathering Wednesday for native leaders in Washington, D.C., where top federal officials told them they stand together in opposing climate change and supporting treaty rights.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was among those who addressed the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference.

"There’s a saying: 'we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.'" she said. "So that’s what climate change is all about. We have an earth that is in trouble."

Jewell’s comments were met with applause.

The Native American Music Awards recognize indigenous musicians from the U.S., Canada and Latin America. It is considered to be the Grammys of Native American music.

HBO is planning a new six-hour miniseries on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Ross Reynolds talks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about the ramifications of last week's shooting in Ottawa and the British Columbia government's apology for hanging six native leaders 150 years ago.

Ross Reynolds sits down with Matt Remle, a Marysville educator and a member of the Lakota Tribe, to learn the back story of the drafting of Seattle City Council's resolution to establish the second Monday in October as Indigenous People's Day.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Today is Columbus Day, a federal holiday. But in Seattle officials plan to declare today to be Indigenous People's Day.

Wyoming Offers Northwest Tribal Leaders A Free Trip To Coal Country

Oct 7, 2014

Treaty fishing rights give Northwest tribes extra clout when it comes to the future of proposed coal terminals on the Columbia River and Puget Sound.

That's not lost on the governor of Wyoming, a big proponent of coal exports.

Gov. Matt Mead is inviting Northwest tribal leaders on an all-expenses-paid trip to coal country in Northeastern Wyoming, according to an email obtained by EarthFix.

The governor's invitation went out to tribes in Oregon and Washington, including the Umatilla, Yakama, Swinomish and the Lummi.

Swinomish Tribe Prepares For A Changing Climate

Sep 26, 2014

La Conner, Wash. -- The Swinomish people have lived near the mouth of the Skagit River north of Seattle for thousands of years. Now, climate change threatens their lands with rising seas and flooding.

The Obama administration recently awarded the tribe a large grant to help cope with climate change.

The entire Swinomish reservation is pretty much at sea level, on a spit of land tucked into Skagit Bay.

Flickr Photo/Chris Blakeley (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Kenneth C. Davis, author of "Don't Know Much About History," about the story behind Columbus Day. 

Football season has kicked off another round of scrutiny over how professional sports teams use Native American mascots. But in eastern Washington, a minor league baseball team has earned the approval of its native namesake.

Avista Stadium in Spokane is full of the familiar sights, sounds and smells of baseball. And then, there are things that might make you do a double take.

Re-branding in two languages

The ongoing California drought has pitted wild salmon against farmers in a fight for water. While growers of almonds, one of the state's biggest and most lucrative crops, enjoy booming production and skyrocketing sales to China, the fish, it seems, might be left high and dry this summer—and maybe even dead.

Oregon regulators plan to decide Monday whether to deny a permit for a coal export dock in Boardman to preserve tribal fishing on the Columbia River.

The Morrow Pacific coal export project needs a permit from the Oregon Department of State Lands to build a dock for coal barges. The project would ship nearly 9 million tons of coal from Wyoming and Montana to Asia. It would transfer coal shipments from trains to barges in Boardman, and load the coal onto ships at a dock in Clatskanie, Oregon.

(Editor's note: The audio introduction to this story incorrectly states that developers want to build a casino on the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon as part of a new development project. In fact, a casino is not part of the project.)

About 100 miles north of Flagstaff, Ariz., a long dirt road ends at a precipice. Thirty-five-hundred feet below, the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers meet at the floor of the Grand Canyon.

The Tangled Web Of Payday Lenders On Tribal Lands

Jul 30, 2014

David Hyde talks with financial consultant Shawn Spruce, a member of the Pueblo tribe in New Mexico, about the intersection of payday lenders and Native American tribes.

Payday lenders are increasingly situating themselves on tribal lands across the country to skirt state laws, ensnaring Washington residents. Many tribes are working to save their members from unscrupulous loans.

Tribes: Fishing Rights Not For Sale

Jul 11, 2014

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have a message for coal shippers: their fishing rights are not for sale.

This blunt response comes after two years of talks between the tribes and Ambre Energy – the company that wants to build a coal export terminal on a part of the river that the tribes consider historic fishing grounds protected by their treaty with the federal government.

Finding an address on a map can be taken for granted in the age of GPS and smartphones. But centuries of forced relocation, disease and genocide have made it difficult to find where many Native American tribes once lived.

Aaron Carapella, a self-taught mapmaker in Warner, Okla., has pinpointed the locations and original names of hundreds of American Indian nations before their first contact with Europeans.

Flickr Photo/Keith Allison (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Jay Rosenstein, journalism professor and producer of "In Whose Honor?", about the history of Indian mascots and the significance of the U.S. patent's office cancelation of the Washington Redskins' trademark.

Yakama Nation Protests Coal Export Terminal

May 21, 2014

BOARDMAN, Ore. -- Yakama Nation tribal members took to the Columbia River Tuesday to protest a proposed coal export facility in eastern Oregon. The tribe says the export facility would cut fishers off from treaty-protected fishing sites along the river.

More than 70 people held signs and waved flags on the banks of the Columbia River, just downstream from the proposed Morrow Pacific coal export terminal.

 Billy Frank Jr., a legendary champion of tribal treaty rights and Northwest salmon restoration, died Monday. He was 83 years old.

After 180 years, it is not too late to say thank you. That is what a Japanese delegation did last week as it retraced the history-making path of three  castaways to the Makah Indian Reservation on the Washington coast.

EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Tribal leaders in the Puget Sound area gathered on Bainbridge Island Thursday for a summit about top issues in Indian Country. They were joined with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to discuss federal priorities.

Hydropower dams built without fish ladders have blocked migratory fish from the upper reaches of the Columbia and Snake Rivers for decades.

EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Editor's note, 5/5/2014: Billy Frank Jr., who led the "Fish Wars" of the 1960s and '70s, has died. He was 83. Below is an interview with Frank, conducted in March by KUOW's Steve Scher and Arwen Nicks. We also featured Frank in a series on tribal fishing.

Billy Frank Jr. helped secure Indian fishing rights through protest and legal action in the 1960s and '70s. The 83-year-old Nisqually tribe member has been arrested about 50 times over the years; the first time was in 1945 when he was 14, for fishing.

Pages