Lawrence Wetsit misses the days when his people would gather by the hundreds and sing the songs that all Assiniboine children are expected to learn by age 15.
"We can't have ceremony without memorizing all of the songs, songs galore," he said. "We're not supposed to record them: We have to be there. And when that doesn't happen in my grandchildren's life, they may never catch up."
In the center of Ivy Pete’s high school’s office sits a glass case caging two Native American mascots in tribal dress. To her, they do not represent a real group of humans or a culture. They symbolize “the defeated and extinct Native American, akin to animals in a zoo,” she said.
Pete, a 16-year-old student from Spokane and member of the Paiute tribe, spoke in support of a bill introduced in the Washington Legislature to prohibit such displays in public schools, along with other Native American symbols considered by many to be insulting.
On February 11, 2012, the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits organization (BAAITS) held the first ever Native American Two-Spirit Powwow. A powwow is a cultural celebration that includes traditions like singing, dancing, and drumming. The team behind the first BAAITS Powwow sought to de-gender these traditions and bring Two-Spirit people, those who do not identify within the gender binary, together from tribes across North and Central America.
Long Hollow, S.D. – Braving bitter cold and gusting winds, nearly a dozen people said prayers in their native Dakota language as they watched a bonfire blaze through a deceased man's clothing, sending a thin trail of smoke drifting over the snow-covered hills on the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
The traditional burning of garments represented a final rite of passage for the spirit of Francis Jay Country Jr., a 66-year-old tribal elder and musician whose life was cut short this month by the coronavirus. The bonfire also culminated two days of...
January has seen major progress toward protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, thanks to the organizing power of three distinct communities—Indigenous activists, TikTok creators, and the makers of an unfinished documentary film—that came together toward a common goal.
One of the lessons of the Trump era, taught mostly through negative example, is that words matter. What we call people affects how we treat people. This is also true for the land—what we call a place affects how it is treated.
Bears Ears National Monument—the 1.35 million acres of rugged and beautiful land in southeast Utah declared by President Obama in 2016 and reduced by 85 percent a year later by President Trump in US history’s largest public lands protection downsizing—has been called many names over the years, including Hoon’Naqvut, Shash Jaa’,...
The virus took Grandma Delores first, silencing an 86-year-old voice that rang with Lakota songs and stories. Then it came for Uncle Ralph, a stoic Vietnam veteran. And just after Christmas, two more elders of the Taken Alive family were buried on the frozen North Dakota prairie: Jesse and Cheryl, husband and wife, who died a month apart.
“It takes your breath away,” said Ira Taken Alive, the couple’s oldest son. “The amount of knowledge they held, and connection to our past.”
A landmark decision delivered by the Trump administration late last month gives five oil and gas companies the green light to forge ahead in drilling 5,000 wells over the next decade in northeastern Wyoming.
Though cheered by state officials and industry groups, leaders of several tribal nations with enduring ties to the land remain concerned the development will compromise air and water quality, violate existing treaty rights and destroy cultural resources. The Oglala Sioux Tribe ...
In 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...
AMY WALKER, 79, gets emotional each time she drives from her home in Cherokee, North Carolina, to Kituwah, a sacred site just seven miles outside of town, to tend to her four-acre garden. There, in the place where her ancestors settled thousands of years ago, she plants heirloom beans and corn, the same crops they once grew.
An elder of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), Walker says the garden keeps her connected to her identity as an indigenous woman. “Down where there are 1,000 graves on the land,” she says. “Our ancestors’ spirits are there.”
Portlanders have been leading protests against racism and police brutality for more than five months after the death of George Floyd. Organizing months of ongoing direct action is one challenge, but keeping each other safe—physically and mentally—is another.