Magic moment as Canadian politician speaks Mohawk to last living Mohawk code talker Levi Oakes

Last week, Canadian Politician and Quebec Liberal MP Marc Miller, the first Canadian politician to speak Mohawk in the Canadian House of Parliament, stopped at the home of the last living Mohawk code talker Levi Oakes to present him with a medal to honor his service as a code talker. He also read Oakes a letter of thanks in the Mohawk language.

Miller was traveling to speak with tribal representatives about cannabis and wished to pay Oakes the visit. Miller is from the Montreal community and works in the House of Commons serving Montreal and the surrounding areas.

When at the home of Oakes, Miller presented the code talker with a symbolic medal to recognize his efforts. Miller also read a letter in the Mohawk language.

The only press on scene was Kaniehtonkie from the Indian Times, who wrote an article describing the meeting between Miller and Oakes, described the moment Miller read the letter as special. It “made Levi’s eyes light up, showing he understood every word Miller said.”

Miller told the Indian Times: “It was a personal honor to meet Levi Oakes. The role of the Code Talkers in WWII has long been an interest of mine and I wanted the Government of Canada to recognize Mr. Oakes. The spirit and success of the Code Talkers was hidden for so long.”

“Even before entering politics I have always been fascinated with languages, learning Swedish as an adult, but there is such richness to Mohawk and it is very difficult to learn,” he said.

In Akwesasne today, I had the immense pleasure to recognize a hero in Levi Oakes, last remaining Mohawk Code Talker. A secret even to his family until very recently, Levi’s use of Kanien’kéha code during WWII saved lives and remained unbroken by the enemy. #cdnpoli @HarjitSajjan

— Marc Miller (@MarcMillerVM) May 9, 2018

During the meeting, Oakes surprised everyone in the room and revealed he had recently received an official letter from the U. S. Department of Defense stating he was free to share what actually happened in WWII.

“Before that, no one, including his family, had any idea the role he had during the war,” said the Indian Times.

When Miller finished reading his letter, Oakes responded in Mohawk with Tsi nika’shátste, meaning “It is so strong,” a reference to the strength of the Mohawk language.

Video of the meeting by the Indian Times.

« Tsi nika’shátste » (Kanien’kéha) « it’s so strong » was Levi’s answer to the last part of the note I read which translates to « You showed them how strong the language is ». #kanienkeha #mohawk @SenSincmurr #codetalker

— Marc Miller (@MarcMillerVM) May 12, 2018

In January of 2017, the Rochester Knighthawks professional lacrosse team honored the last Oakes, 92, Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk) in front of a crowd of 6,000 at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY.

See related: Last Living Akwesasne Mohawk Code Talker Honored in Rochester

Oakes served as a code talker in the South Pacific during WWII and was awarded the Silver Star for his service. The silver star is the third-highest military award for valor given for showing gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.

After the war, Oakes worked for 30 years as an ironworker in Buffalo, NY and later worked in the highway department at the Mohawk territory in Akwesasne, New York before retiring.

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A Happy Mother’s Day wish from Indian Country Today – All types of moms included

Mother’s Day is a wonderful way to remember those mothers in our lives that have contributed so much.

Certainly the day was created as a marketing ploy to boost sales of various mom-related items and greeting cards. But, so what. With all of the trouble we gave our poor moms, don’t they deserve a day of recognition?

But with any marketing ploy, Mother’s Day has for much too long appealed to the sterile definition of the word ‘Mother’ and for that same ‘much too long’ period of time, all of those beautiful people who in this world who have dedicated their lives to us – yet may not have actually given birth to us – have been too sadly neglected.

This Mother’s Day wish – is to ALL of the Mothers out there. You are not forgotten. You are loved. You are appreciated.

To ALL the Moms: Happy Mother’s Day

First of all…HOW did you do it? We must have driven you wacky with all of our antics in life so far. You are amazing, you were there when we needed you, treated us like we were the best even when we felt like we were the worst.

You loved us even when we thought we were unlovable. You are phenomenal.

To all the Mom’s of our four-legged and winged children: Happy Mother’s Day

Some mothers out there are loving to our sacred and beautiful animal children. Our puppies, dogs (including wolf-hybrids,) cats, kittens, birds and more also have thrived because of your love to them. These animal children have needed to eat, a warm place to sleep, to play, to be petted and to be mothered by you. You are an amazing Mother to them and made their lives happy.

To all the Stepmoms or Significant other moms: Happy Mother’s Day

You were given a gift to love a child or children that was brought into your life through marriage or a long-time partner. You honored us, loved us and helped us to be the best we can. Your gave us band-aids, love, warmth and more. You are as much as a Mother as the birth giver.

To all the Two-Spirit and LGBTQ Moms: Happy Mother’s Day

You may not have fit into the mold of Mother’s Day, and certainly don’t see a greeting card section dedicated to you. But those Mothers in the Two-Spirit and LGBTQ community are 100% every bit as much a mom as every single other mom in this world. You give love, you teach loving values and work hard in the midst of judgement and criticism to be a Mom. You are sacred and deserve to be recognized.

To all the Mom’s who wanted to have children, but could not: Happy Mother’s Day

First let me say, YOU ARE STILL A MOM! There is tremendous truth in the old sentiment, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I can’t not even begin to express how many wonderful moms like you have helped us to be greater people in the world. We can’t always go to our first moms. But you, our sacred other moms mold us, guide us and advise us in ways that stay with us forever. You are sacred, honored and a critical part of our lives as another mom.

To all the Moms who have crossed over: Happy Mother’s Day

Before you left us, you gave everything to us and this world, You left a legacy behind that will define us for the rest of our lives. We appreciated you so much and never quite realized how much would be gone once you left. Thank you for giving so much while you were here with us.

To all the Mother-in-laws: Happy Mother’s Day

You didn’t even have a choice about getting us as a part of your life, but here we are. You are entrusting us with the most important person in your lives, your child. And though things may not have always been perfect between us (laugh) you do the best you can to welcome us. Thank you. We really do love you…you created the most important person in our lives.

To all the Foster Moms: Happy Mother’s Day

You are taking in a child in hopes to improve their lives, You give perhaps to exhaustion and receive little in return. But though it might not seem like it at times, giving with love, can help to improve the lives of those that might seem lost. You deserve to be honored for your hard work.

To all the Adopting Moms: Happy Mother’s Day

You are the type of mom who had a choice to bring a child into your life…that is a most incredible gift to someone. Sometimes children are not wanted in life, but you are the antithesis of this. A child that is adopted was brought into your life by choice. Thank you.

To all the Moms who may not be in our lives for some reason: Happy Mother’s Day

Some mothers are not in our lives. Sometimes this is temporary, sometimes this is not. Sometimes it is by choice. Some mothers in life make poor choices or are abusive or victims of abuse themselves. None of this means we do not love them. But sometimes it is ok not to have these mothers in our lives so that everyone can heal in their own ways.

Inasmuch as there is happiness and joy to some, there is also pain and sadness to others. But we can still acknowledge that the Creator has put us into life situations for a number of reasons.

This said, though some mothers may not be in our lives, we still wish the best for them, love them as best as we can and try to live a great life for those that are around us today. We still wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.

To all the single Father’s or Grandparents who had to step forward: Happy Mother’s Day

Sometimes the Mother may not be a part of the child’s life for a multitude of reasons, for those fathers or grandparents who have had to take on the mom role… thanks to you. You are also to be honored on this day.

To ALL the Moms out there – You are amazing, you are loved and you are appreciated.

Happy Mother’s Day.
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Martin Sensmeier tackles ‘Bears Ears’ controversy tonight on the EPIX series ‘America Divided’

Native actor Martin Sensmeier is hosting the second episode of season 2’s EPIX: America Divided. As described by EPIX, America Divided is an original limited docu-series executive produced by Common, Norman Lear, and Shonda Rhimes, and features narratives around inequality in education, housing, healthcare, labor, criminal justice and the political system.

Tonight’s episode Who Controls the Land features correspondent Martin Sensmeier, and is produced by Sterlin Harjo and Lucian Read.

In the episode, Sensmeier travels to San Juan County, Utah, to investigate the controversy over the Bears Ears National Monument. While there, he uncovers the decades of struggle for equality by the county’s Native citizens.

A still from the EPIX series ‘America Divided” episode ‘Who Controls the Land’ with correspondent Martin Sensmeier. The episode airs starting Friday May 11th.

Sensmeier told Indian Country Today he “was extremely excited about the episode and was looking forward to it airing on EPIX.”

In an email, producer Lucian Read said he was proud of the episode and grateful to have such input from the Native community to include Sensmeier and Sterlin Harjo. “I’m one of the show’s three creators and the director and showrunner. This season I was joined by an amazing group of producers — Sterlin Harjo, Shoshana Guy and Rebecca Teitel.”

“America Divided is really a show about facing injustice and inequality. In our second season, I wanted the show to tell stories about the people who have been marginalized in this country since sometimes even before its founding — Native Americans, African Americans, rural whites, women, immigrants. Unfortunately, in our country today, as our divisions have deepened, understanding and talking about this history is growing more difficult even as it grows more necessary. But, we’ve tried to feature voices of hope, voices of reconciliation — in addition to our wonderful correspondents like Martin — to show that there are ways forward even as we acknowledge that our past and present are filled with wrongs we must face.”

“What we really wanted to do was go deeper than what became the national story about Bears Ears — which seemed to be mostly a story about politics and Trump and environmentalists. San Juan County has been a place of conflict since the first settlers arrived and has continued on that way for more than a century. The Bears Ears conflict is really only the most recent battle in what has been a long-running struggle by Navajo and Ute people in the county to regain control of the land and control of the lives from what has to be seen in many ways as a hostile white power structure. Native people their have had to fight for the right to vote, for decent schools, for electricity, for water, for decent roads. They’ve had their ancestral sites looted sometimes on an industrial scale. They’ve had to live with radioactive waste. They’ve been excluded from good jobs. It goes on and on and on. And, of course, these struggles play out across Indian Country, as Jacqueline Keeler says in the piece. This is the story we wanted to tell. This is the story that we thought a national audience needed to see, needed to understand,” said Read.

The show airs tonight at 9pm est.

To watch the show:

Those who are not currently subscribers to EPIX can access the website for streaming America Divided: is currently promoting a 14-day free trial. Anyone wishing to sign up can head to to get the offer. Once they have their account these users can activate any of the EPIX apps or on Roku, Apple, etc…

Here is the schedule:

Episode 1 Fri. May 4th — the premiere — Washington’s War on Women with executive producer and correspondent Gretchen Carlson, produced by Rebecca Teitel and Shoshana Guy. Carlson takes viewers to the halls of Congress to uncover a pervasive culture of sexual harassment held in place for decades by a deeply flawed system.

Episode 2 Fri. May 11 — Who Controls the Land with correspondent Martin Sensmeier, produced by Sterlin Harjo and Lucian Read. Sensmeier travels to San Juan County, Utah, to investigate the controversy over the Bears Ears National Monument. While there, he uncovers the decades of struggle for equality by the county’s Native citizens.

Episode 3 Fri. May 18 — There Has to Be a Better Way with correspondents Diane Guererro and Nick Offerman, produced by Lucian Read. In Part One, Diane Guerrero travels to Houston, Texas and discovers the hidden victims of this anti-immigrant era. In Part Two, Nick Offerman travels to eastern Kentucky to investigate the collapse of the coal industry and meets voices calling for a different future.

Episode 4 Fri. May 25 — Whose History? with executive producer and correspondent Jussie Smollett, produced by Shoshana Guy. Smollett travels to Tennessee to witness the growing movement to bring down Confederate monuments and commemorate the deaths of thousands of African-Americans lynched during decades of racial terror.

For more information visit-


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Countdown Begins: Indian Country Today will unveil new digital platform and logo June 4th

Indian Country Today will launch its new digital platform and an updated logo on June 4th, 2018 at the morning session of the National Congress of American Indians’ Mid-Year Conference and Marketplace in Kansas City, Missouri.

The event will be livestreamed and the platform will go live that morning. (Details coming soon.)

“Indian Country Today is ready for its next chapter, leading in the digital, mobile space,” said editor Mark Trahant. “Our primary focus will be the mobile phone, a platform where our readers are already migrating. We are eager to deliver the best journalism content and technology. It wasn’t that long ago when our readers waited at the post office for the next version of the ‘paper.’ Now news is delivered instantly.”

Trahant said there is a lot of activity now behind the scenes creating this new kind of “paper.”

Associate editor Vincent Schilling also offered comments about the shift to a new platform and how changes would reflect embracing the digital age yet still maintain traditions and a nod to Indian Country Today’s past.

“Indian Country Today has come so far in the years since it first began as a physical newspaper. Our new logo is a nod to this legacy that still embraces how we as Native people are moving forward. This is definitely going to be an exciting moment in Indian Country Today’s history on June 4th.”

The web address will be and remain

In addition to the new platform, Indian Country Today is creating a new business model for indigenous journalism. The digital enterprise is owned by the National Congress of American Indians, but acts independently. That model is a “public media” venture that includes a mix of financial support from readers, advertisers and grants from foundations, corporations, and tribes. All of the content produced by Indian Country will be free for readers — and available for distribution by tribal newspapers, radio networks, and digital publications.

Indian Country Today’s spring membership drive is open for one more week. This will be the only opportunity for readers to become “Founding Members” of the Indian Country Today.  At the NCAI event, the first “Founding Member, 001” will be honored and thanked for jumping in so early with a significant financial contribution.

“I want to personally thank so many people who have wished us well — and pledged a contribution representing the giving nature of tribal communities and a culture of coming together to support a cause,” Trahant said. “We cannot do this without our readers’ support. And even those who could not pledge money helped us by spreading the word via social media. In the end, though, this is not about the money. It’s about the journalism. And reader support is what makes that happen.”

Watch for the hashtags:  #ICTReveal and #ICTSocks

Conference Details

The National Congress of American Indians

2018 Mid Year Conference & Marketplace

Marriott Kansas City Downtown
200 W. 12th Street
Kansas City, MO 64105

Registration is now open. Click this Register Now link to register online.

You can also visit the NCAI conference registration page here:


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Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter

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Mohawk Brothers Detained By Police On Colorado Campus Tour Gain National Attention

On April 30th, two Native American brothers, Mohawk, brothers attended a Colorado State University college campus tour. Because they were wearing heavy metal band t-shirts and kept to themselves, one of the woman in the tour group felt nervous and called 911. The boys were detained and missed the rest of the tour.

Deemed racial profiling, the incident has since received national attention.

The American Indian Graduate Center, the largest Native American scholarship provider in the nation with 50 years of service to Native scholars said in a press release that they are “saddened and disappointed by the recent Colorado State University incident and questioned, ‘Are schools doing all that is necessary to protect and affirm Native students, or are they merely accepting their tuition dollars?’”

Additionally, the Mohawk brothers, themselves in a heavy metal group called Snot Goblin, have gained mainstream attention for their musical tastes. People are expressing appreciation for their music videos as  and the Heavy Metal Band Cattle Decapitation gave the brothers guest list access for life since one of them was wearing their t-shirt.

The initial story received went viral when the Associated Press’ Mary Hudetz first covered the story. According to Hudetz’ article, the brothers drove seven hours from New Mexico to the campus on April 30th. They got lost on the way and arrived 45 minutes late to the campus tour.

As the brothers told the Associated Press’ Mary Hudetz, they were quiet and kept to themselves, but a woman in the group called 911 and said the boys looked suspicious and said they were “definitely not” part of the tour. The brothers were detained, patted down, missed the rest of the tour and eventually drove home.

CSU Police Bodycam Footage

Heavy Metal To The Rescue

In addition to mainstream media attention, the news has reached other targeted-audience media outlets to include the Heavy Metal music site Metal Injection, who featured the young men’s story.

Because the two brothers were wearing t-shirts from metal bands Cattle Decapitation and Archspire, Cattle Decapitation posted the story on their Facebook page.

The band tagged the two brothers on the page, and offered them free guest list spots to their shows for life.

Thomas Gray has since commented on the post:

“Thank you everyone for the support. We love everyone. It’s really hard to come up with a proper reaction to everyone’s help. Its very overwhelming but nonetheless, I hope this teaches a lesson to everyone that is going through any sort of discrimination or racial acts. Keep yourself going. What happened was wrong in so many ways and we wish this on no one else.”

Snot Goblin Video

The School Apologizes – Posts the Police Body Cam Video and 911 Call Audio

The incident, largely criticized as racial profiling. Since that time, the Colorado State University President Tony Frank has since written a lengthy apology.

“Two young men, through no fault of their own, wound up frightened and humiliated because another campus visitor was concerned about their clothes and overall demeanor, which appears to have simply been shyness,” Frank wrote Friday. “The very idea that someone — anyone — might “look” like they don’t belong on a CSU Admissions tour is anathema. People of all races, gender, identities, orientations, cultures, religion, heritages, and appearances belong here.”

Anyone who is “uncomfortable with a diverse and inclusive academic environment” should find another campus “elsewhere,” Frank added.

Thomas Gray, a student at Northern New Mexico College, told the Associated Press, “I guess that was scaring people … that we were just quiet.”

The young men’s’ mother, Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray, said listening to her son recount the experience reminded her encounters with police that reach mainstream media. “I am lucky my sons are both still alive,” she said on Facebook.

In a Facebook message to Lorraine Gray, the tour guide said she did not believe the young men were suspicious and apologized for not realizing what had happened until after the incident had occurred.

Gray told The Washington Post — who called the boys ‘shaggy-haired teens — it was ridiculous that someone was suspicious of her sons because they were too quiet.  

“They were trying to listen. Why should it be a crime to listen and not engage in a conversation?”

American Indian Graduate Center Responds

In a release, the American Indian Graduate Center says ‘they are deeply saddened” regarding the incident where the two young Native American brothers were stopped and questioned by university police while attending a campus tour, but offer their full support “to the young men and their mother and genuinely hope that they are receiving the appropriate remedy for their hardship.”

Their release fully states their commitment to students of color and 2 million in scholarships at CSU.

An incident such as this is not isolated. It is a direct reflection of the racism and discrimination experienced by Native American students and other students of color every day on campuses across the United States. Every day, our young Black and Brown scholars are questioned, doubted, and threatened simply for their racial and ethnic backgrounds. It is a frustrating reality that college campuses- where we send our children to live what are supposed to be the best years of their lives- are far from immune to the difficulties and trauma of racism.

As a resource for Native scholars, we want to communicate that Native students should not be subjected to higher scrutiny and suspicion for the simple act of existing. We want to challenge colleges across the country to consider how all of their policies affect students of color. Too often, racist views and actions- like the call that pointed out two innocent Native men on that campus tour- do not face repercussions and consequences while the affected parties must deal with the trauma and humiliation caused by such incidents. We hope that Colorado State University will take the lead in making sure that Native students are never again subjected to such a blatant disregard for their rights.

The American Indian Graduate Center takes seriously its role as a partner to Native students. We stand committed to pursuing equality in access and opportunity for our scholars across the nation. As we support our Native youth going into college, we hope that universities will work with us in ensuring the safety and well-being of our students. We have provided $2 million in scholarships for students at Colorado State University alone and this incident leads us to ask- are schools doing all that is necessary to protect and affirm Native students, or are they merely accepting their tuition dollars?

For more information on the American Indian Graduate Center visit


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Notah Begay III Foundation and Shakopee tribe team up to promote healthy beverage consumption in Native communities

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) announced today a $250,000 grant to the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation to expand its Water First! healthy beverage initiative. Awarded through the SMSC’s Seeds of Native Health campaign, the new funding will expand the initiative, which focuses on reducing Native American children’s consumption of sugary beverages and increasing their access to and intake of safe drinking water. The SMSC’s contribution augments funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and other contributors.

“The Notah Begay III Foundation is a champion for Native youth and is doing impressive work to improve the health of our next generation through its Water First! cohort and other national campaigns,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “Our tribe’s Seeds of Native Health campaign is proud to join the NB3 Foundation in helping solve Indian Country’s dietary health crisis by addressing the overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.”

With this new funding, the NB3 Foundation will provide micro-grants to tribes and Native-led organizations in Minnesota and Washington to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increase water consumption in their communities. It will also help expand the Foundation’s Zero to 60 Challenge to encourage the switch from sugary drinks to water across Indian Country.

“We started the Water First! initiative several years ago, with the goal of connecting community partners with effective and efficient resources to support their meaningful work of encouraging Native youth and families to make healthier choices to improve their lives,” said NB3 Foundation President and CEO Justin Kii Huenemann. “We are thankful to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for their continued support, and with these resources we look forward to expanding our program so it reaches more Native children across the country.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sugar-sweetened beverages – including soft drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened milk or milk alternatives – are the most common source of added sugar in children’s diets. Frequent consumption is associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and tooth decay. Because more than 45% of Native American children ages two to five years old are obese, reducing the consumption of unhealthy, sugary beverages in Native communities is critical to reducing this obesity epidemic.

The SMSC’s contribution will also help build awareness and educate practitioners about model practices that support water consumption and healthy nutrition. In addition to developing informational resources for tribes, schools, and community organizations, the NB3 Foundation will host two Healthy Beverage Summits in fall 2018 and 2019. This conference series brings together community members, organizations, and agencies to advance knowledge, best practices, and partnerships. The Foundation will also add healthy beverage-related sessions to its national Healthy Kids! Healthy Futures! conferences in 2019.

The NB3 Foundation is one of the SMSC’s original strategic partners in the Seeds of Native Health campaign, re-granting $1.1 million in SMSC funds to 24 tribes and nonprofits across the country for projects relating to childhood nutrition.

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Native American tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to Native American tribes and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise, and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County.

About Seeds of Native Health

Seeds of Native Health is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s philanthropic campaign to improve Native American nutrition and food access. Launched in 2015, the $10 million campaign has provided grants to local communities and funded research, education, and capacity-building efforts. Partners include the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Better Way Foundation, First Nations Development Institute, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, the Notah Begay III Foundation, the University of Arkansas School of Law’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and the University of Minnesota. More information is available at:

About the Notah Begay III Foundation

The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation is a national, award-winning Native American nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing Native American childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. The NB3 Foundation invests in evidence-based, community-driven, and culturally relevant programs that promote health, physical activity and nutrition, ensuring healthy futures for Native American children and their communities. The foundation is committed to ensuring that all Native American youth live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. Learn more about the NB3 Foundation at:

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‘American Gods’ on Starz: Now Casting for 18-20’s Native Female Character Sam Blackcrow

The American Gods television series — based on the novel written by Neil Gaiman and developed by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for the premium cable network Starz — is currently looking for an actor to portray the Native female character Sam Blackcrow.

According to Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, Blackcrow has a white mother and Oklahoma Cherokee Nation father. She is a University of Wisconsin-Madison that catches a ride with one of the show main characters.

Author Neil Gaiman responded on Twitter that he was delighted to see the character being cast. He also said via Twitter, “I was adamant when Starz and Fremantle first wanted to make American Gods that the racial background of characters in the book would be respected and maintained. This is an example of their commitment to that.”

And the main comment would be that I was adamant when Starz and Fremantle first wanted to make American Gods that the racial background of characters in the book would be respected and maintained. This is an example of their commitment to that.

— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) May 9, 2018

Debra Zane Casting put out a notice that they are currently searching for First Nation / Native American actresses age 18 to mid-20’s to play the role of Sam Blackcrow in the Starz original series.

Casting Director Debra Zane, who has casted for such blockbusters as The Hunger Games (2012) Catch Me If You Can (2002) and American Beauty (1999) told Indian Country Today that the qualities most helpful in the search are professionalism and experience.

“There are two episodes in Season Two that Sam Blackcrow has parts in, but considering how the show might develop, there could be more of her looking forward.”

The announcement by Debra Zane Casting is as follows:

​I​f interested in auditioning, please send a photo and resume (if available) to  

  • Those who seem well-suited for the role will be invited to audition.
  • This role will shoot in Toronto from June through August 2018. Participants must be available for the entire span of time.
  • Sam Blackcrow Description: Female; First Nation / Native American; over 18 to play college-age; she’s confident, engaging, headstrong and has a free spirit personality.

For more information about American Gods on Starz visit –

For more information about author of American Gods Neil Gaiman visit –


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Tara Sweeney Nominated: Would Be First Alaska Native Assistant Secretary For Indian Affairs

Tara Sweeney’s confirmation hearing for the post of Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs was almost a celebration Wednesday. Sweeney introduced her family. Senators praised her work in Alaska. And Senate Indian Affairs Chairman John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, pointed out that her “tribal leaders are not able to join us today as they are busy in their whaling season, but they also send their support for Ms. Sweeney’s nomination.”

The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs is the highest ranking Native American in the government and Sweeney is breaking new ground. She would be the first Alaska Native to hold the post. And only the second woman.

“As Alaska Natives, like our American Indian counterparts, we are reaching for the same future, with very similar tools,” she said. “Tribal governments to govern our respective social needs and traditional and cultural ways, and tribal corporations, to engage in the economic opportunities of our great country.”

She said the Department of Interior (DOI) “is very much a part of our past, our lives today, and will be in the future of generations yet born. The DOI is a reality with which every Native American lives.”

“I have to tell you, seeing you at the table with your family … seeing so many friends. I am just like, bursting with pride,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. She said the appointment gives so much hope and promise across Indian Country because Sweeney is a “strong, strong female Native leader ready to take charge. And believe me, we need someone to take charge within the BIA.”

I am absolutely certain there is no one who will work harder for the rights, for the economic empowerment, and for the culture of America’s First Peoples than Tara Sweeney.

— SenDanSullivan (@SenDanSullivan) May 10, 2018

Sweeney repeated several times that her idea is to spend the first 180 days listening and consulting with tribes and corporations and then figure out how to be an advocate in the federal government for Indian Country.

If that sounds easy, just look at the budget. On the plus side of the ledger, the Trump administration is proposing a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund to pay for repairs and improvements in national parks, national wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools.

On the other hand, the Administration is proposing major budget cuts to programs ranging from climate adaptation to social services. The National Congress of American Indians says the president’s budget represents nearly a 16 percent decrease from the current spending levels. “Nearly every line item in the BIA budget would see reductions in the FY 2019 budget request,” NCAI said.

Sweeney would not be the first Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to walk into the job after key decisions were already made. Even the first person to hold the job, Forrest Gerard, had to rework President Jimmy Carter’s water policy.

“My management style is a lot of transparency. I work to build a high caliber team. I also hold my employees accountable and provide a metric for success,” she said. “When you talk about balancing the needs with the funds, first and foremost, I want to be boots on the ground. I want to go out and consult with tribal leaders on what their needs are both in terms of funding but also the tools that Indian affairs needs to provide so they can exercise their right to self-determination.”

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat and vice chairman of the committee, asked Sweeney if she would be an advocate within the administration for issues such as protecting important cultural sites such as Bears Ears and Chaco Canyon. She said she would champion the tribes perspective after an active consultation.

Udall also pressed  Sweeney to clearly recuse herself from any matter that could benefit the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation — something she said she had already done with the Department’s ethics officer. Udall said that included any  oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge which would benefit the regional corporation.

Several Senators asked Sweeney about sexual harassment at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education. Sweeney said she would have a zero tolerance policy.

The Senate Indian Affairs committee must still vote on Sweeney’s nomination before sending it to the full Senate for consideration.

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter

The post Tara Sweeney Nominated: Would Be First Alaska Native Assistant Secretary For Indian Affairs appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

VA and Navajo Nation To Host Event For Veterans With Disabilities Eligible For VA Pension

On May 10, 2018, the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Navajo Nation will host a claims event focused on identifying Native veterans with presumptive disabilities. These conditions may qualify for VA compensation payments.

A presumptive disability is a condition that the VA presumes are related to military service, although the condition may first appear after discharge from the military.

Throughout 2018, the VA is launching a nationwide campaign to roll out veteran disability enrollment claim events collaboratively with 21 tribal communities. The campaign, titled “Your Service. Our Mission: Bringing VA Benefits Home” occurs in St. Michaels, Arizona. Tribal communities in eleven states have already confirmed their participation.

Courtesy image

Photo of Veterans Readjustment Counselor (Robertson Yazzie) and Veterans Readjustment Supervisor (Veronica Duncan.) Veteran in photo is Jackie Burbank, Navajo.

The VA expressed in a news release that they realize reaching these veterans could have a direct, tangible impact on the lives of thousands of previously unreached veterans and their spouses. This will help the VA enhance and improve the experience for all Veterans and their families.

“With the focus on veterans with presumptive disabilities and those who are pension eligible, VA is hopeful we can help Indian Country veterans access the full range of benefits they have courageously earned through their service,” said Stephanie Birdwell, director, VA’s Office of Tribal Government Relations.

In addition, spouses may be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) when a veteran dies as a result of these presumptive disabilities.

During the event, health information and other benefits will be available provided by New Mexico VA Health Care System, VHA Vet Center, VBA Native American Direct Loan Program, Arizona Department of Veterans Services, and others. VA will have staff on hand to review claims on the spot, with the goal of completing the claim same day.

The claims event is free.

“Your Service. Our Mission: Bringing VA Benefits Home”  

Date and Time:

Thursday, May 10, 2018 – 8 a.m. to 4:30 pm

St. Michaels Chapter House
Hwy 264
Bldg. 29A South Cress Road
St. Michaels, AZ 86511

Contact Lorae HoMana Pawiki at 928-776-5306 and or Ms. Bobbie Baldwin at 928-871-7307 and for additional information.

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National Native American Hall of Fame Is Coming In 2018 – Take The Nominee Survey

Ten years ago, James Parker Shield, Little Shell Chippewa and Cree, started thinking about a potential organization that could recognize Native Americans after visiting a Cowboy Hall of Fame and a Country Music Hall of Fame. Realizing there wasn’t such a place, he decided to come out of retirement to establish the National Native American Hall of Fame.“I just felt that so many Natives that had done so much for Indian Country were being overlooked and possibly forgotten,” Shield told Indian Country Today.

After 10 years of hard work — which included selecting a location and calling upon a group of all-Native board members to help in the selection process of possible inductees — Shield’s dream has become reality. 

Though there is not yet a physical location for the National Native American Hall of Fame, a non-profit organization, Shield and other board members will host its Inaugural Induction Ceremony on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at the Phoenix Indian School Memorial Hall in Arizona. Up to 20 prominent living and deceased Native Americans will be recognized. 

Shield, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the National Native American Hall of Fame told Indian Country Today the reason for selecting an Indian School as the location for the ceremony was important for healing and empowerment.

“The location for the ceremony was chosen because I felt that overcoming the trauma of the boarding schools was part of the overall story of many Natives achieving great things, in spite of the many barriers and challenges,” said Shield.

“The Phoenix Indian School is a historic place that is important to many Natives, and we will be making history there on October 13th with the induction of our initial group of honorees into the National Native American Hall of Fame.”

Bohonus VR Photography

Though there is not yet a physical location for the National Native American Hall of Fame, a non-profit organization, Shield and other board members will host its Inaugural Induction Ceremony on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at the Phoenix Indian School Memorial Hall in Arizona.

According to Shield, the final inductee selection process will be conducted by a board of directors and board members at the Native American Hall of Fame, however, the public is first invited to participate in a survey of the 2018 nominees.

There are 14 selection categories, including: Art, Education, Entertainment, Athletics, Advocacy, and others. The organization has an all-Native board of directors with members from several nations, including Akwesasne Mohawk, Blackfeet/Wichita, Comanche, Ojibwe, Northern Cheyenne and Sac and Fox, who developed the eligibility criteria.

“The mission of the National Native American Hall of Fame is to recognize and honor the inspirational achievements of Native Americans in contemporary society,” said Board of Directors Chair Liz Hill, Red Lake Ojibwe.

“The National Native American Hall of Fame’s focus is on the period from the U.S. Civil War up to the present day,” said Board of Directors Member Harlan McKosato, Sac and Fox. “We will induct Native people of notable achievements – individuals who sacrificed for the greater good and those who made significant contributions to Indian country over the years.”

“The Board of Directors feel it is important for Native Americans to participate and provide their input by indicating their choices for this honor,” said Board Member Laura Harris, Comanche. “We don’t want this to be just a popularity contest of well-known Native Americans – we want the Native public to be a part of the process.”

According to the board, there will be a matrix-based selection process in order to select inductees. Such factors include survey-solicited public opinion from Indian Country, reputation, geographic balance and more. (See survey below)

Ten years ago, James Parker Shield, Little Shell Chippewa and Cree, started thinking about a potential organization that could recognize Native Americans. Out of his efforts came the National Native American Hall of Fame.

“The survey results and the matrix scoring will greatly assist us in narrowing down the list and making the final decision on this first class of inductees,” said Board Member Walter Lamar, Blackfeet/Wichita.

“We are looking forward to inspiring our Native relatives everywhere and hope that the National Native American Hall of Fame also will shed light on issues, such as stereotyping and cultural appropriation,” said Hill. “In addition to inspiring and motivating our young people – especially girls – we are striving for the National Native American Hall of Fame with its message of uplifting our people to become part of the solution in confronting substance abuse and other social ills in our Native communities. This will be an historic event.”

Though the National Native American Hall of Fame does not yet have a physical location, Shield says he has his sights set on something memorable. He is hopeful for potential offers to host the Hall of Fame, but is also open to a partnership with a tribe or Native organization. 

“Within a few years my goal is for us to raise enough funds through a capital campaign to construct a building for the Native American Hall of Fame. This is an exciting journey we are on right now. I want us to also think out of the box when it comes to the Hall of Fame facility. I would like it to be a destination, or attraction much like the Seattle Space Needle, St. Louis Arch or the Statue of Liberty,” says Shield.

“I want a place that conveys a sense of achievement and honor in, and of itself. A place where the visitor is treated to spectacular  and informative exhibits.”

Additional future plans for the National Native American Hall of Fame include a traveling exhibit and an educational curriculum for youth focusing on the vast array of accomplishments by Native Americans in modern times.

Potential 2018 Inductees

This year’s list of potential inductees (before the results of the survey is reviewed and board decisions made–and whose descriptions are listed in the survey) are as follows:

David W. “Famous Dave” Anderson – Ojibwe/Choctaw
Dennis Banks – Ojibwe
Ryneldi Becenti – Dine’
Lionel Bordeaux – Sicangu Lakota
Sam Bradford – Cherokee Nation
Elouise Cobell / Yellow Bird Woman – Blackfoot
Ben Nighthorse Campbell – Northern Cheyenne
Vine Deloria, Jr. – Standing Rock Sioux
Louise Erdrich – Turtle Mountain Ojibwe
Tiokasin Ghosthorse – Cheyenne River Lakota
LaDonna Harris – Comanche Nation
Ira Hayes – Akimel O’odham
John Herrington – Chickasaw
Allan Houser – Chiricahua Apache
Winona LaDuke – Mississippi Band of Anishinaabe of the White Earth Reservation
Gary “Litefoot” Davis – Cherokee Nation
Wilma Mankiller – Cherokee Nation
Philip Martin – Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
Russell Means – Oglala Lakota
Billy Mills – Oglala Lakota
N. Scott Momaday – Kiowa
Carlos Montezuma “Wassaja” – Yavapai-Apache
Elizabeth Peratrovich – Tlingit
Lori Piestewa – Hopi
Redbone – Pat and Candido “Lolly” Vasquez-Vegas, Yaqui/Shoshone/Mexican
Shoni Schimmel – Confederated Tribes of Umatilla
Ernie Stevens, Sr. – Oneida Nation of Wisconsin
Wes Studi – Cherokee Nation
Maria Tallchief – Osage
Jim Thorpe – Sac and Fox

The 2018 Potential Inductee Survey

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Visit the National Native American Hall of Fame website at

Sponsorships for the Inaugural Induction Ceremony are available.

Contact Executive Director James Parker Shield at or (406) 590-1745.

Disclosure: Vincent Schilling serves as an advisory board member

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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The State of Indian Gaming: An Exit Interview With NIGC Chair Jonodev Chaudhuri

Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, Muscogee Creek, was nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed to the National Indian Gaming Commision (NIGC) by the United States Senate in April, 2015. He is now coming to the end of his term as chair and Indian Country Today has asked him to reflect on the state of Indian gaming today.

Prior to his service with the NIGC, Chairman Chaudhuri was appointed to the Commission by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and served brief appointments as Vice Chair and Associate Commissioner.

Before the NIGC, Chairman Chaudhuri was also Senior Counselor to the Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs providing guidance to national policy issues including Indian gaming, economic development, energy, Alaskan affairs, and tribal recognition.

Chairman Chaudhuri has practiced law for more than 15 years representing tribal nations and commercial entities and also served as a judge on five different tribal courts, including Chief Justice of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Supreme Court, the highest court of the fourth largest tribe in the Nation. Chaudhuri also has served as a community organizer, adjunct professor, public defender, legal services director, and author.

Originally from Tempe, Arizona, but very much tied to his family roots in Oklahoma, Chairman Chaudhuri graduated in 1993 with a B.A. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Cornell Law School in 1999. Chairman Chaudhuri’s volunteer and lifetime service has been spent on many issues regarding underrepresented communities.

In 2018, Chaudhuri finished his commitment in serving the NIGC, and he says he now anticipates that his “next move will grow out of my and my family’s longstanding commitment to serving Native people and underrepresented communities.”

In an exit interview with Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling, Chaudhuri addressed the state of Indian gaming today and what to expect in the future for Indian country.

Vincent Schilling: Chairman Chaudhuri, in your service as Chairman of NIGC, what did you seek to accomplish in your position for your term of office?

I joined the NIGC to help strengthen tribal nations. I became Acting Chairman in October 2013 – the same month as the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, (IGRA.) Having served Indian country as an educator, attorney, and a judge, and coming from a family that has advocated for Native people and underrepresented communities for generations, I understood the profound impact of gaming on Indian country and its enduring power to provide Tribes with critical resources and fund programs.  My broad goal when I started was to take every opportunity I could to advance the cause of tribal self-determination.

I recognized at the outset that the NIGC is first and foremost a regulatory agency, and significantly, one that grew out of IGRA’s compromise between tribal nations that sought to preserve their exclusive right to regulate all gaming on tribal lands and states and other non-tribal interests. But regulation is not an obstacle to self-determination and economic success. In fact, in a business such as gaming, where the reputation and integrity of the operation are so vital to its success, thorough and transparent regulations are a key component of the economic success of an operation.   

Moreover, the pressures between tribal and non-tribal interests have ebbed and flowed over the years, but they have never disappeared. Despite IGRA’s constrictions on tribal sovereignty, IGRA preserved the tribes’ roles as primary regulators of their operations. The presence of the NIGC as a viable regulator is an important buffer between Indian gaming and non-tribal interests who otherwise may seek even greater infringements on tribal sovereignty.

With advancing self-determination as the overall goal, I sought to promote an agency culture and develop guiding principles and initiatives that would allow us to perform our day-to-day functions in a way that supported Indian country to the greatest extent possible while still remaining true to our statutory mandate, and while my general goal was to support tribal self-determination, I understood the importance of NIGC’s viability to the success of tribal nations operating within the IGRA framework, and as such, I knew the paths forward for advancing self-determination at the agency would sometimes be counterintuitive.

With that in mind, I set out certain guiding principles to steer the agency’s direction toward supporting tribal sovereignty and self-determination as much as possible while maintaining its credibility as a regulatory body. These principles can be summarized as engaging in sound regulation without unnecessarily inhibiting the entrepreneurial spirit of tribes; to swiftly act on anything that jeopardizes the health and safety of the public at gaming establishments including employees and patrons and finally to protect against anything that amounts to gamesmanship on the backs of tribes.

From those principles, our core initiatives emerged, and I’m proud to say those initiatives are now formally embodied in the NIGC’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan.

Vincent Schilling: What does most of the world not know or not realize about the complexities of gaming in Indian country.

Without a doubt, Indian gaming is the most heavily regulated form of gaming in the country, with up to three levels of regulatory oversight. Tribes, of course, are the primary regulators of their gaming operations, but the NIGC has its regulatory role and, when a Tribe operates Class III gaming, the State has its limited role. Additionally, not all Tribal casinos are the same. They run the gamut; from a few gaming devices in a gas station or convenience store, to some of the biggest casinos in the world. As a result, the regulatory landscape for each and every tribe is different. That, along with the diverse and complex histories and land bases of each tribe, requires flexibility from the NIGC. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work for the Indian gaming industry. As a result, we strive to recognize the unique landscape of each tribe and try to guard against unintended consequences in all we do.

Vincent Schilling: How has gaming in Indian country changed over the past few years?

Indian gaming is always changing. The last few years have seen tremendous growth in the industry, both in the number of new facilities opening up as well as in the Gross Revenues those facilities are earning. But even outside of these last few years, Tribal gaming has traditionally been at the vanguard of technology and innovation within the gaming industry at large.  Indian country should be proud of the innovations it has brought to the gaming industry. Since I took over as Chairman, I have heard many discussions at conferences about the future of gaming. While there is a diversity of opinions about what that future will look like, one commonality I have seen is the tribal gaming industry’s eagerness to develop and utilize new technology. Technology is not only being thought of in terms of attracting new players, but the discussions also include how technology can and should be utilized to ensure compliance with Tribal, federal, and, where appropriate, state regulation.

Over the last few years, I have also seen Tribes begin to refocus on Class II gaming. Because IGRA classified types of gaming, each subject to a different jurisdiction, Indian Country has developed a booming Class II gaming industry from the ground up. And as technology has advanced, Tribes have begun to see Class II gaming as viable and attractive alternative to Class III gaming devices.

Finally, with success not only in the gaming industry, but in general, Tribes have become increasingly sophisticated and influential regarding federal tribal policy.

Vincent Schilling: What are you most proud to have overseen in terms of accomplishments by NIGC?

Whether its technology or the development of sound policy, I am proud of how we have served Indian country by positioning the agency and assisted Indian country, to meet the opportunities and challenges the next phase of Indian gaming will present. This is clearly reflected in the most recent approval of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians alternate technical standards for Class II Gaming using Mobile Devices. While the approval of the alternate standards should not be confused with the authorization to use mobile devices for gaming, it is an important step towards making mobile gaming available consistent with NIGC regulations.

Additionally, as Chairman I wanted to further strengthen Indian gaming and advocate that the success of IGRA should guide future federal Indian policy. Specifically, I wanted to build on the Agency’s work in Indian country to support a stable Indian gaming environment going forward. This goal has been the driving force behind my proudest accomplishment: developing a balanced approach to compliance while being faithful to the core tenants of IGRA. Being pro-tribal, pro-sovereignty doesn’t mean we shirk our responsibilities under IGRA. We have to recognize tribes as the day-to-day regulators and the NIGC as the federal regulator. But along with regulating Indian gaming, the Commission is also a champion of Indian country and the fundamental federal policy of tribal self-determination. This approach informs my major enforcement actions. And Indian country, as well as the industry, has recognized this and met those actions with considerable support. This buy-in has curbed many of the criticisms the Agency has faced in the past on enforcement actions.

Vincent Schilling: As with any new venture or office seat with an organization, there might be preconceived notions of what to expect, what did you learn most in your experience as chairman?

IGRA requires the NIGC to walk a fine line between serving IGRA’s goals and purposes to support tribal self-determination and economic development on the one hand, and ensuring that IGRA’s regulatory requirements are adhered to on the other. As I’ve said repeatedly, everything we do is with an understanding of the success of the self-determination policy embedded in IGRA. Case in point, when considering an enforcement action, the temptation is to take a hands-off approach or a lesser enforcement action, because this allows me to be supportive of tribal decision-making. However, because I view everything through a lens of self-determination, that approach comes at a cost; that cost being the reputation of Indian gaming is muddied or the efficacy of the tribal-federal regulatory balance is undermined.  In turn, this damage would have serious implications for self-determination policy.

It must also be remembered that although the NIGC is the Federal regulatory agency for tribal gaming, we are part of the federal family and although everyone may be working toward a common goal, like any family, we sometime have differing opinions on how a particular issue should be addressed. In my time at NIGC I learned the importance of working with those agencies; be it DOJ on a litigation matter or DOI on some issue of common interest.

Vincent Schilling: What is the foreseeable future for the world of Indian gaming?

I have no doubt that the tribal gaming industry will continue to lead the way on gaming technology and innovation. Emerging platforms will allow Tribes to increase their market base. The challenge here arises as lawmakers consider regulatory approaches and structures for these emerging platforms such as i-gaming, mobile gaming, skill based and any other new gaming innovations. It is imperative that Tribes have a voice in those discussions to ensure the longstanding federal Indian self-determination policy principles explicitly referenced in IGRA inform those discussions.

Vincent Schilling: What is next for you?

When asked this question over the last year, I have repeatedly said that I was committed to honoring my commitment to Indian country by finishing out my term as NIGC Chairman and run through the finish line free from distractions. I have been highly committed to this role, and for that reason, I have not thought about what my next position will be until very recently.

Instead, I wanted to work with the team to do all that we could in our finite time together to strengthen Indian gaming and advocate that the successes of the industry help guide future federal Indian policy. Because of this commitment, I have not actively sought out other positions post NIGC. I do anticipate that my next move will grow out of my and my family’s longstanding commitment to serving Native people and underrepresented communities. With this is mind I am confident that I will continue to serve Indian country and hopefully do so in a way that builds on my most recent experience having a front row seat to technological changes on the horizon.

Vincent Schilling: Are there any additional thoughts you’d like to share?

I have worked with extraordinary professionals day-in and day-out here at the NIGC, and for this I am honored and grateful. We have made it a point every day to promote tribal self-determination while upholding our responsibilities outlined in IGRA, a success I would like to thank all those I have been able to work with over the years. I would like to wish for continued success of the agency and the industry. I hope to see the NIGC continue to build upon vital partnerships and stay on the same track we have created during my time as Chair. I will be forever grateful to President Obama and Secretary Jewell for their confidence and support they showed me by allowing me to serve Indian Country in this capacity.  

About the NIGC

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act created the National Indian Gaming Commission to support tribal self-sufficiency and the integrity of Indian gaming.  The NIGC has developed four initiatives to support its mission including (1) To protect against anything that amounts to gamesmanship on the backs of tribes; (2) To stay ahead of the Technology Curve; (3) Rural outreach; and (4) To maintain a strong workforce within NIGC and with its tribal regulatory partners.  NIGC oversees the efficient regulation of 499 gaming establishments operated by 244 tribes across 28 states. The Commission’s dedication to compliance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ensures the integrity of the growing $31.2 billion Indian gaming industry.

To learn more, visit you can also follow the NIGC on Facebook and Twitter.

The post The State of Indian Gaming: An Exit Interview With NIGC Chair Jonodev Chaudhuri appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

#NativeVote18 Are Politics Too Partisan? Alaska Shows There’s Another Way

The American election process does not make it easy for independent and third-party candidates. And every state has different rules, so even figuring out a pathway to power is difficult and unlikely.

Then there is Alaska.

Four years ago Bill Walker, running as an independent for governor, convinced Byron Mallott, then the Democratic nominee for governor, to step off the Democratic ticket and join Walker’s independent bid. The Democrats agreed to this plan and did not run their own party nominee. The result was Walker and Mallott won. And now Mallott, Tlingit, is the Lt. Governor.

Campaign Photo

Four years ago Bill Walker, running as an independent for governor, convinced Byron Mallott, then the Democratic nominee for governor, to step off the Democratic ticket and join Walker’s independent bid.

This time around there is a different process, Walker will be running as an independent in the Democratic primary in August (and Mallott can continue to run as a Democrat.) It also means the November election will feature two main candidates for governor instead of three.

This happened because the Democratic party changed its rules to allow unaffiliated and nonpartisan candidates to run in its primary. According to the Daily News-Miner, Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg said parties have the right to associate associate themselves with the candidates of their choice, regardless of their party registration.

Mark Trahant

Mallott Campaign button

“All we’re saying here is that if you’re a registered Democrat or if you’re one of these 56 percent of the state, which is not a member of an organized political party, and you want to run and seek our nomination, you should have that opportunity,” Alaska Democratic Party Executive Director Jay Parmley told the Daily News-Miner.

As most of the country grows more partisan, Alaska voters and politicians alike have redrawn red and blue lines in more practical terms. Of course there is Walker and Mallott’s bid for the governor’s office four years ago on what they called the Alaska First Unity Ticket. And two years later the state House shifted to a coalition of Democrats and a few Republicans working together as a majority with Bryce Edgmon, Yup’ik, as the Speaker of the House. Even in the Alaska Senate, where Republicans are in charge , state Sen. Lyman Hoffman, a Democrat from Bethel, caucuses with the majority.

This reflects Alaska. There are more than 200,000 undeclared registered voters, nearly 85,000 nonpartisan voters, 140,000 Republicans and some 75,000 Democrats.

One difference in the U.S. election system with other countries around the world is that candidates can take office without a majority of the votes. President Donald J. Trump is stark example of that. He only received 46.1 percent of the vote, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 48.2 percent. In most countries that would have resulted in a runoff election — a second ballot — to ensure that a majority of voters, fifty percent plus one, were in agreement.

There are a number of independent and third party #NativeVote18 candidates on ballots this election season. And the rules governing their challenges are different in every state. If Alaska makes an independent bid possible, other states election methods make a third-party bid nearly impossible.

Graphic - Mark Trahant

#NativeVote18 Running As Independents, Green Party Ticket

California, for example, is one of three states with an open primary so that only the top two candidates are on the November ballot. This gets to the idea that a majority of voters (more than fifty percent) will pick a candidate instead of a minority. But it also limits the discourse about third party candidates because they are usually eliminated early in the process. California’s primary is June 5. The other twist in a top-two primary is that in some districts the top two candidates will both be Democrats or Republicans.

Erik Rydberg, Pomo, is running for Secretary of State on the Green Party ticket. “As an indigenous person whose family has been living on the Sonoma coastline of California for over 10,000 years I have a deep respect for tradition,” he writes on a fundraising site. “One of the oldest traditions of this continent is Democracy. The oldest still functioning democracy in the world belongs to the Iroquois Confederacy. I intend to honor this decision making process and to honor where it came from as California’s Secretary of State. Democracy is the backbone of any just and free society and must be protected from those who would attempt to dishonor and manipulate it. Every vote must be counted, every time.”

Rydberg has said he prefers a ranked choice voting system.

Ranked choice, or an instant runoff, is a system that solves both the problem of third party representation and reaching an electoral majority. It does this by asking voters to pick their second and third choices (in case their favorite is eliminated). Maine voters in the last election approved switching to this system, but the Republican Party and its elected leaders have blocked implementation (and are suing to have the voters’ will overturned).

There is an interesting history here. In 1906 Montana voters, essentially, had this same opportunity with two at-large seats in Congress. Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress,  “She even made a point, in her campaigning, to acknowledge that voters could cast a vote for their favorite man and just put her for number two,” wrote Lily Rothman in Time. “Throughout her life, Lopach says, she championed multiple-member congressional districts as a way to open the House to candidates who might have a hard time coming in first.”

Indeed either ranked choice voting or a multi-member district could benefit Indian Country’s voters, too. Because candidate could campaign on the idea of running as a second, or even third, choice.

“I firmly think that it is necessary to loosen the grip of the perceived two party system in order allow our citizens access to equitable choices in representation,” Aaron Camancho, Band Potawatomi, writes in her campaign documents. “Doing so requires our votes go toward candidates who will stand for the People. Often candidates must overcome socioeconomic disadvantages, often succumbing to cooperate influence through gifts and monetary donations. We need to address issues with money in politics that stifle our citizen’s calls for informed decisions in reaching sustainable outcomes and beyond. We need to take the Power of the People back and place it in the hands of the ordinary citizen.”


Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter

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Harvard Bound! Native American High School Student, Eva Ballew, Accepted to 10 Colleges

After years of hard work and always believing in herself, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi tribal member and Union Grove High School student Eva Ballew says she was taken by complete surprise when her phone rang and was told she was accepted to Harvard.

“I have to admit, in some ways it hasn’t even hit me yet,” Ballew told Indian Country Today. “When the admissions representative called me it was just unexpected. But I will say I don’t think I’ve ever had such a feeling of fulfillment. I was just so happy.”

In addition to applying to Harvard, Ballew also applied to nine other highly-regarded colleges and universities, including the University of Notre Dame, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, Boston College, Georgetown, Vanderbilt, Columbia and Princeton.

In her conversation with Indian Country Today, Eva Ballew spoke a bit about her own tribal and family history. She told how her grandmother was a student at the Mount Pleasant Indian Boarding School and because she could not speak english was given the name of Elizabeth Rose. Her grandmother struggled but persisted, yet eventually died from tuberculosis.

“My grandmother’s story was my motivation to succeed,” said Ballew. “I have since learned that if you work very hard using the resources you have, you can make something with your life.”

Ballew says she also recognizes that statistics and history are not always in the favor of Native Youth.

“I think 67 percent of Native students graduate from high school which is far less than the rest of high school teens who graduate at about 82 percent. That first figure is even a smaller number when you factor in Bureau of Indian Education schools which is about 53 percent.”

(Associate Editor’s note: We double-checked recent statistical reports, and Eva Ballew stated these statistics right on the money. Look out Harvard…)

Ballew also noted Andrew Jackson’s role in the Indian Removal Act and how her tribe was affected by the “Trail of Tears” and “Trail of Death.” She also noted that Notre Dame — one of the schools she wanted to attend — was built on her own tribal lands based on promises the Pokagon would be granted free educations, a promise not held by the school.

“Notre Dame founded their University on our own land with a promise to provide an education. So we welcomed them.”

Considering she has worked so hard and maintained a 4.3 GPA, she is taking advanced placement courses, is involved in AHANA, an organization for students of African, Hispanic, Asian and Native American descent and participates on the student council. She is a member of the National Honor Society, and received a scholarship to study at Carnegie Mellon last summer. She also plays the classical piano.

“Harvard is getting a top kid,” Union Grove High School Principal Tom Hermann said to the Journal Times. “Eva embodies the traits of an accomplished scholar. She is extremely conscientious and consistently goes above and beyond on her studies. She is living proof that if you work hard, your dreams can come true.”

2018 Senior Eva B stands for a @Journaltimes pic in recognition of her acceptance to 10 schools. She committed to @Harvard this morning. So proud! @UGHSBroncosTV @UGHS_students #Ivyleague

— Union Grove UHS (@UGHSBroncos) April 20, 2018

Eva Ballew’s mother Monica Brazaeu told the Journal Times that her daughter won the Super Bowl of college admissions.

Ballew says that she recognizes Native youth come from many different backgrounds with different levels of available resources. She told Indian Country Today that they all deserved to succeed.

“For any Native youth who might hear this, the biggest thing I will say is that you deserve happiness. You deserve success, euphoria and deserve to attend a good school or to be a part of a productive and strong workforce. We have survived generations of oppression that is passed on to us,” she said.

“But we are deserving. We are worth it. We can do better for ourselves. My parents taught me — I was worth it.”

Ballew also appeared on the online radio show Native Trailblazers Friday May 4th.

We are broadcasting live on the air! Listen in 5 minutes at

Our guest is a Native High School Student @EvaBallew she is bound for @Havard!

She also got accepted to 9 other schools! That is a Native Trailblazer!

— Native Trailblazers (@Nativetrailblaz) May 4, 2018

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter


Disclosure: Vincent Schilling is a co-host of the radio program.

The post Harvard Bound! Native American High School Student, Eva Ballew, Accepted to 10 Colleges appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Wait! Before Tweeting That Powwow Pic – Twitter Suggests Updating Your Password

You might want to pause for a moment before posting a recent selfie, powwow pic or a tweet about any range of emotions. Twitter announced yesterday that hey had discovered a bug in their system that logged unencrypted passwords.

On Thursday, Twitter Support and Twitter’s Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal made announcements about the password storing error, but also maintained they didn’t suspect the bug had ever been accessed.

We recently found a bug that stored passwords unmasked in an internal log. We fixed the bug and have no indication of a breach or misuse by anyone. As a precaution, consider changing your password on all services where you’ve used this password.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) May 3, 2018

In an official Twitter blogpost, Agrwal stated Twitter account users did not need to be alarmed, but “Out of an abundance of caution, we ask that you consider changing your password. You can change your Twitter password anytime by going to the password settings page.”

He continued with a description of the issue.

“We mask passwords through a process called hashing using a function known as bcrypt, which replaces the actual password with a random set of numbers and letters that are stored in Twitter’s system. This allows our systems to validate your account credentials without revealing your password. This is an industry standard,” wrote Agrawal.

“Due to a bug, passwords were written to an internal log before completing the hashing process. We found this error ourselves, removed the passwords, and are implementing plans to prevent this bug from happening again.”

Agrawal then issued tips for account security and apology for the issue occurring in the first place:

  1. Change your password on Twitter and on any other service where you may have used the same password.
  2. Use a strong password that you don’t reuse on other websites.
  3. Enable login verification, also known as two factor authentication. This is the single best action you can take to increase your account security.
  4. Use a password manager to make sure you’re using strong, unique passwords everywhere.

“We are very sorry this happened. We recognize and appreciate the trust you place in us, and are committed to earning that trust every day.”

The post Wait! Before Tweeting That Powwow Pic – Twitter Suggests Updating Your Password appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

It’s Star Wars Day Indian Country – May the Fourth Be With You Native Style!

Today is May the 4th. To those of us Native Nerds out there who follow the world of the Star Wars movie franchise, May 4th has become a day well worthy of #MayThe4thBeWithYou trending on social media. So that said, my fellow Native Nerds – May the 4th Be With You, Native style!

This article was originally published in 2017 … but a lot has happened for Star Wars in one year. That said, have you bought your tickets to Solo, A Star Wars Story yet? I am already getting phone notifications to see it in theaters May 25. Here’s the trailer I recently saw during the previews of Avengers: Infinity War:

As a self-respecting Native Nerd, I am exceptionally proud of the fact that I had seen ‘The Force Awakens’ three times in the first few months of it’s release and own a plethora of Star Wars paraphernalia (including the original Hans Solo figure – sans lightsabre) and once owned the original Star Wars comic book.

Sadly, like many comic book enthusiasts, a few boxes of my comics, complete with plastic covers and acid-free cardboard backings, made their way to a thrift store because they took up too much space in my parents’ garage. I still, to this day, occasionally feel the stomach-ache of that loss.

But for me, May 4th is the beginning of an awesome few days. We celebrate Star Wars on the fourth, the celebration of our Mexican Indigenous brothers and sisters on the Fifth, aka Cinco De Mayo, and my birthday is on May 6th.

Also in the one year since I first wrote this article we can now all work together to generate awareness for MMIW on National Awareness Day May 5th.

So how do we celebrate May Fourth in Indian Country? Simple…pretty much like everyone else. Perhaps we watch the movies (who doesn’t have at least one DVD of one of the Star Wars movies – or even VHS tapes?)

I remember watching the first Star Wars movie in the theatre. I remember those huge yellow letters scrolling away from me in my pre-teen years as the now all too familiar Star Wars theme played through massive speakers. I remember the blasts of the x-wing fighters and the pure beauty of the scenes fought on the Death Star. The ominous flowing black cape of Darth Vader, his explosive voice and sounds of his breathing through his mask.

As kids, we replayed these scenes ad infinitum.  

One exciting memory for me was when I was in my mid-twenties and I was working on a movie set as a video assistant and began speaking with one of the x-wing fighter pilots who appeared in the original Star Wars. He explained how all of the pilots shot their scenes in the same x-wing cockpit and they collectively stated they needed something to occupy their hands to shoot the scenes. The film crew installed – of all things, a normal calculator with buttons on the side of the cockpit to occupy the actors’ hands.

I was aghast and thrilled. I had found out some insider information. Few in life could ever receive such a precious gift.

Here’s a quick story about a previous article I posted in Indian Country Today.

In 2016, I worked with a former correspondent to post a Native Humor piece entitled: Native Humor: The Rez Force Awakens – You Might Be a Star Wars NDN Jedi If. (Read it here)

I created the feature image of the article by combining a Darth Vader / Stormtroopers image, with an overlay of eagle feathers. On the ICT Facebook page, there was a comment similar to “Native people can just throw a feather on something and call it Native?”

I understand the sentiment. But the idea goes much deeper than people might expect – and in my view underlies the importance of regalia, feathers, ornamentation etc.

You see, I didn’t just throw any feather onto the helmet of Darth Vader.

The eagle feather I used was a photograph I took of an eagle feather that was presented to me by a close family friend.

This family friend has just lost their son, Summer Sky. He was a beautiful young man with so much to give this world, but as a result of a very sad accident, he died. I helped the family as much as I could – as a result of my support in their time of loss, I was given one of the eagle feathers that had lain across Summer Sky’s chest before he was laid to rest.

I used this eagle feather as the image for Darth Vader’s feathers.

Everything in Indian Country in terms of regalia, ornamentation, decoration and more – has meaning. That is why we as Native care so much about appropriation.

So how is this connected to Star Wars?

Because Star Wars is so much more than just a bunch of robots, aliens and the dark or light side of the Force. It is about the beauty of imagination. It is evidence that no matter how far your mind can go, it can be re-created for the benefit of accelerating the imaginations of other people in life.

Star Wars taught me that it was ok to dream big. I laughed, cried, and applauded like crazy during these movies. I have loved Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Liea (RIP Carrie Fisher) and so many others.

Yes I own this #PrincessLeia action figure #HappyStarWarsDay #MayTheFourthBeWithYou. Check out my latest article in @IndianCountry.

A post shared by Vincent Schilling (@vinceschilling) on May 4, 2018 at 6:44am PDT

I have read the comics, listened to the records, watched the movies and have always dreamed with tremendous expectations and intrigue about the place that took place ‘a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

May the Fourth Be With You, Indian Country.

It’s Star Wars Day Indian Country – #MayTheFourthBeWithYou Native Style!

Happy #StarWarsDay from a fellow Native Nerd.

Check out the upcoming “Solo A Star Wars Story” movie trailer in my article!

via @VinceSchilling

— Vincent Schilling (@VinceSchilling) May 4, 2018

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

The post It’s Star Wars Day Indian Country – May the Fourth Be With You Native Style! appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

May 5 is National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls

As the National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls nears and taking place Saturday May 5th, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, has released a”Social Media Guidance Package” to senators, advocates, and organizations to help get them engaged.

The social media effort will employ the social media hashtags #NotInvisible #MMIW #MMIWG.

Many on social media will also be wearing a red shirt or red ribbon in remembrance of the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls and their families.

The information released by Heitkamp’s senate office is as follows:

Social Media Guidance:

“There is a crisis in Indian Country of missing and murdered Native American women that is too often unknown outside of Indian Country and too often forgotten. 84 percent of Native American women experience some kind of violence in their lifetime, and on some reservations, Native American women are murdered at 10 times the national average,” said Heitkamp in a release.

Senator Heitkamp says has been working to bring this issue out of the shadows through a social media campaign she launched in November using #NotInvisible.

“Only once we raise awareness about this epidemic can we then help implement solutions to stop these tragedies from occurring,” said Heitkamp.

The #NotInvisible social media effort builds on Senator Heitkamp’s bill, Savanna’s Act (S. 1942), that would be a starting point to tackle the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women nationwide. The bill is named in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was tragically killed in Fargo, North Dakota in August 2017.

“But you don’t need to have endorsed the bill to participate in this social media effort or to highlight the national day of awareness on Saturday,” said Heitkamp. “On Saturday, please help us raise awareness about this crisis on social media so we can then implement changes.”

Heitkamp’s office says there are several reasons for creating this awareness:

To raise awareness of the terrible tragedies of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls across the United States, and to highlight the statistics which show that indigenous women and girls are murdered or go missing at a disproportionate rate to the rest of the population.

Senator Heitkamp is asking citizens across the nation to “please message your senator’s work in addressing this crisis.”

How You Can Become Involved with the #NotInvisible, #MMIW, #MMIWG Hashtag

(MMIW and MMIWG added by Indian Country Today)

This Saturday, to help raise awareness, you can participate by taking a photo of yourself, (or senator) holding the included #NotInvisible hashtag sign or a plain sheet of paper with #NotInvisible typed out as in the examples below. If a selfie is not possible, you can also choose to include one of the attached graphics to share statistics about this crisis to help raise awareness about this issue.

On Wednesday, November 29th 2017, Senator Heitkamp led the social media hashtag effort #NotInvisible to raise awareness about the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women during National Native American Heritage Month.

Fellow senators, celebrities, organizations, journalists, and tribal leaders responded to the campaign by posting selfies along with the #NotInvisible hashtag. See a few past examples from November here:

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (@senatorheitkamp):

Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley):

Senator Cory Booker (@CoryBooker):

Senator Jon Tester (@SenatorTester):

Senator Tom Udall (@SenatorTomUdall):

Cindy McCain (@cindymccain):

Julia Jones (@JuliaRJones):

Rosario Dawson (@rosariodawson):

Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo):

Indian Country Today Associate Editor Vincent Schilling (@VinceSchilling):

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI1944):

Troubling Statistics You Can Share on Social Media Via Tweets, Facebook and More

On some reservations, Native American women are murdered at a rate 10 times the national average. It’s time to address the disproportionate rate at which Native women experience violence or go missing, so they are #NotInvisible #MMIWG

Above image: Save into computer or phone gallery and post for Facebook or Instagram.

Above Image: Save into computer or phone gallery and post for Twitter.

84% of Native American women experience violence in their lifetime. But outside of Indian Country, few people are aware of this epidemic. It’s time to raise awareness and show that these women are #NotInvisible #MMIWG

Above Image: Save into computer or phone gallery and post for Facebook or Instagram.

Above Image: Save into computer or phone gallery and post for Twitter.

There were 5,712 incidents of missing & murdered Native American women in 2016. We need to stand by the women who are experiencing staggering levels of violence and make them #NotInvisible #MMIWG

Above Image: Save into computer or phone gallery and post for Facebook or Instagram.

Above Image: Save into computer or phone gallery and post for Twitter.

The crisis of missing & murdered indigenous women urgently needs more attention and #SavannasAct would help law enforcement crackdown on these horrible crimes. We must make sure women like Savanna are #NotInvisible

Online Materials / Social References and Facebook / Twitter Graphics

Three graphics that pair with each of the above statistics are attached to this email, in formats suitable for Twitter and Facebook/Instagram.

Twitter Card – Put The Link At The End Of Your Tweet

Another alternative to a #NotInvisible selfie or statistics graphic is to include a Twitter Card with your tweet. Include this link at the end of your tweet text and it will automatically pull in a Twitter card, though it will replace any attached graphics/photos so make sure to choose only one option:

(Tip: Twitter Cards will not appear in Tweetdeck, but are fully visible on Twitter’s site & mobile apps)


Primary initiative hashtag

#MMIW (Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women)
#MMIWG (Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls)

National Statistics & Sources

On some reservations, Native women are murdered at a rate of 10 times the national average. (U.S. Department of Justice:

84% of Native women have experienced some type of violence in their lives. (National Institute of Justice:

5,712 known incidents of missing and murdered Indigenous women in 2016. (National Crime Information Center, requested data)

National Support Resources

National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC)
Provides educational and preventative resources and can help promote community awareness.
Phone: (406) 477 – 3896
Twitter/FB/IG: @niwrc

StrongHearts Native Helpline
Offers legal assistance, referrals, and advocacy.
Phone: (844) 762 – 8483
Twitter/FB/IG: @strongheartsdv

National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS)

Unfortunately, available data on missing indigenous people is scattered throughout various tribal, federal, state, and other jurisdictions. One publicly-searchable database is the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) operated by the U.S Department of Justice, though its information is dependent on data provided by various jurisdictions on a volunteer basis. NAMUS provides a search option for missing persons by race, including Native Americans.

MMIW Database

An online database started in 2015 to log cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and two spirit people. Created by Annita Lucchesi, a doctoral student at the University of Lethbridge, the database is compiled by Native advocates and community members, family members, social media, federal and state missing persons databases, and law enforcement records gathered through public records requests. Data is currently available by request only:


Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

The post May 5 is National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Native Nerd Review: Avengers Infinity War is Marvel Hardcore – Major Spoilers Included

If you haven’t seen Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, I will admittedly struggle for a lengthy part of this article in NOT revealing any spoilers to you. But truth be told I am going to have to reveal big time spoilers for me to even explain any reviewable banter.

Overall, my heart was ripped out, stomped on, thrown into a canyon and burned into ash from the sun. My brain was run over by a train and my mouth dropped open so far you could hear an echo. In short, it was awesome. But I was left with a heartache. I can’t wait to see it again.

With Avengers Infinity War, this Native American Nerd was like ‘Holy bleep,’ What did I just watch?” My heart was ripped out and I wasn’t ready for this movie to end. Yeah, it was that good.

If you love superhero movies, THIS is the movie to see. In fact, Marvel has pulled off the arguably best most comprehensive, single-most A-list actor, A-list superhero and supervillain assemblage of marvel-ous mayhem never before even conceived of in the Hollywood blockbuster film world.

Here’s the Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War Official Trailer. (Only 184 million views)

You could conceivably watch this movie if you haven’t seen any of the Marvel universe films that include Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, Iron Man, The Vision, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, The Black Panther, Captain America, Loki, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy and more, more, more! But — if you haven’t watched previous films, you’d miss out on a lot of previous history. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I also don’t want you to miss out. So I also recommend it anyway. You can always go back and play catch up with the Marvel Universe history.

Marvel Studios

The team up in Wakanda!

Marvel history may not be important to some, but stuff like comic book history seriously matters to a Native Nerd like myself.

(Minor) Spoiler – Lots of Team-Ups

It is brilliant to see team-ups never seen before, Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor, Doctor Strange and Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow and the Black Panther and again more.

Marvel Studios

Thor and Rocket the Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy. Thor lovingly calls him ‘rabbit.’

It was pure ecstasy but pure frantic heartache watching a lot a stake battling the anti-heroic forces of Thanos and his horrible Black Order minions Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glave and Black Dwarf.

Marvel Studios

Thanos, the big purple alien, never hesitated to destroy anything in his path to capture the infinity stones that would grant him ultimate powers over all universes.


But’s let’s take a moment to talk about Thanos. Thanos is a huge purple alien and goliath of a villian — that even without his metal glove filled with infinity stones, which will give him all powers over all universes should he get all of the stones hidden and protected all over the far reaches of the universe — still manages to beat the hulk to unconsciousness in moments. Something, I as an utter comic nerd, have never seen in my nearly 51-years of age. The Hulk is beaten so badly, he refuses to surface again for Dr. Bruce Banner, who resorts to fighting with a hulkish version of the Iron Man metal suit.

But Thanos … and yes, he is the most formidable of opponents the Marvel Universe has ever seen… has a sinister plan to cut the Universal needs in half and will stop at nothing to obtain it. He cannot be beat. Although I have to hand it to Ebony Maw, a member of Thanos’ Dark Order, who gives Iron Man, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange a long movie run for their money. He very nearly wins.

Marvel Studios

Doctor Strange, Tony Stark, Wong and Bruce Banner go to kick some Ebony Maw butt … or do they?

Throughout this movie, I felt like a kid in a candy store and admittedly in a state of disbelief that I was getting to see so many superheros and villians in one movie. Avengers: Infinity War started blasting a few minutes in and never let up. My mind was racing, my eyes were frantically darting back and forth to keep up.

Marvel Studios

In order to most appropriately describe this photo, I can only say: “I am Groot.”

And somehow I was able to take it in. For a while, I was able to take a few of some pretty major surprises, but by God, Marvel, how much can this Native Nerd take?

After awhile, I sat watching open-mouthed … and shook to the core.

I thought, “by God Marvel are you really doing this?” I also thought, “Is all of this really happening?”

This is why.

They freaking killed everybody!

It started with Loki, one of my favorite characters played by Tom Hiddleson, who bit the bullet (well, rather choked on Thano’s dinosaur head sized hands) within minutes of the movie starting. Thanos came for the Space Stone, and then just crushed Loki to death by the throat, after beating the Hulk into unconsciousness. Heimdall, the awesome gatekeeper on Asgard also gets stabbed and dies.

Damnit! This is about ten minutes in.

Then, in order for Thanos to get the Soul Stone, he has to exchange a soul of someone he loves for the Soul Stone, and he throws his own adopted daughter Gamora (the green assassin from Guardians) off the cliff!

NO! Another favorite character of mine!

So later Thanos travels to where Doctor Strange is, who holds the Time Stone. Thanos beats the heck out of everyone and stabs Iron Man in the chest and is about to finish him off. Then, Doctor Strange bargains for Iron Man’s life in exchange for giving Thanos the Time Stone. The stone that controls time… uh oh.

Thanos then only needs the Mind Stone to finish off the Universes.

The Avengers realize that Thanos will be coming for the yellow Mind Stone, which rests on the forehead of The Vision who has traveled to Wakanda. Vision is my other favorite. (Off-topic, I am noticing a lot of green characters in my favorites.)

Marvel Studios

The Vision has no idea his forehead — which hosts the Mind Stone –is about to be ripped out by Thanos.

When Thanos comes for the Mind Stone, the Scarlet Witch zaps it and destroys it in (her lover) The Vision’s forehead. The Vision dies. Multi-Universal tragedy avoided right?

Nope, and guess what Marvel, you didn’t fool me, because I realized Thanos had the Time Stone, so he just reverses time, the Mind Stone goes back together, The Vision is alive … and THEN Thanos rips the stone out of The Vision’s head, killing him a second time.

So now the Vision is dead twice, my heart was throbbing with heartache.


Thanos drops the last stone into his Infinity Glove and snaps his fingers, in order to end half the lives in the Universe. He does this because his planet failed from not enough resources. He thinks the Universes will provide for half as much.

Sounds beautiful right? NO!

Everyone starts crumbling into ash! The Black Panther, Bucky Barnes, Groot, Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Doctor Strange, Mantis, Drax, Star Lord … and then the end credits with Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury … yes, ashes.

Marvel Studios

Spidey, Star Lord, Mantis, and Drax!!! … sniff. (There must be a piece of dust in my eye, yeah, that’s it.)

The last message from Marvel? “Thanos Will Return”

Are you breathing hard? Were you doing the movie?

This Native Nerd was breathing hard for sure.

Now I know that due to the situation involving other movies planned to air in the future to include the next Avengers movie, the upcoming Black Panther and others, it simply doesn’t make sense that all of these characters will remain gone forever. But the Marvel Universe can be a fickle thing and stories in the comic book world have long been showing themselves as poor guidelines for outcomes in the Marvel movie universe.

But there will be no doubt quite a bit of cleaning up to do. But the question to ask is how much cleaning up? What is going to be changed forever? Who is never coming back?

Will there EVER be a Native American character — like Danielle Moonstar in the upcoming New Mutants — in the Avengers franchise?

All I can say Marvel, is “What the bleep.”

Are you serious @Marvel? Regarding #AvengersInfinityWar … What The BLEEP?
Admittedly awesome … but Holey Moley!
Check out my #NativeNerd review in Indian Country Today

— Vincent Schilling (@VinceSchilling) May 3, 2018

In terms of my ultimate recommendation, “What are you waiting for, go see this movie!”

And for God sakes people that leave before the credits are over, This is a Marvel Movie – it is 2018! Stay until after the credits are over! The movie isn’t finished yet!

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, and in this case – huge Native Nerd, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

The post Native Nerd Review: Avengers Infinity War is Marvel Hardcore – Major Spoilers Included appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Exhibit At Ganondagan’s Seneca Art & Culture Center Honors Women As Sacred Creators

The newest exhibit at Ganondagan State Historic Site is open to the public. According to the site staff, the exhibit, titled “Hodinöhsö:ni’ Women: From the Time of Creation,” examines the many ways in which Hodinöhsö:ni’ women have acted as positive forces in our world, and demonstrates how, from the time of Creation to the present, Hodinöhsö:ni’ women continue to provide guidance, wisdom, healing, joy, sustenance, hope, peace and love to the world.

“There is a strong connection between the American suffrage movement and the Hodinöhsö:ni’,” said Seneca Art & Culture Center Curator and Interpretive Programs Assistant Michael Galban. “Using Hodinöhsö:ni’ art, both historic and contemporary, this exhibit outlines the
reasons why Hodinöhsö:ni’ people—and particularly Hodinöhsö:ni’ women—have had an impact on the way we, as modern people, regard access to justice and find balance.”

Amy Blum

Seneca Moccasins by Samantha Jacobs, Turtle Clan, made from deerskin are decorated to represent the dancing Sky Woman who moved along the great sea turtle’s back.

The exhibit, which opened in March, 2018, the first new addition since the opening of the Seneca Art & Culture Center in 2015. The exhibit touches on five important moments in time when Hodinöhsö:ni’ women have had a major impact.

These moments, as described by the organizers, are exhibited as follows:

Women in Creation

David Mitchell

Two men observe with respect at the Women in Creation and Mother of Nations exhibit.

According to the Hodinöhsö:ni’ creation story, women are the pathway to unfolding life here on Mother Earth. These feminine elements continue to inspire Hodinöhsö:ni’ artists with the power and beauty of their message.

Jigöhsahsë’ – The Mother of Nations

Long ago, Jigöhsahsë’ lived along the “warriors path” between the Seneca and their direct western neighbors the Kahkwa, the Erie and the Petun. The first person to embrace the Peacemaker’s message, Jigöhsahsë’ was instrumental in the formation of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Akino’ënh – “Our Mothers”

At the time of Ganondagan (17th century), and throughout the colonial period, Hodinöhsö:ni’ women have guided and sustained their people as leaders in agriculture, maternity, spirituality and government.

Euro-American vs Haudenosaunee rights

Sisters in Spirit

Leaders like Matilda Joselyn Gage, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony had direct and personal contact with Hodinöhsö:ni’ women which had a significant positive impact on their fight for equality. Largely ignored and untold, history has recorded the impact that Hodinöhsö:ni’ women and culture had on the minds of these leaders of the Women’s Rights movement in the United States, but indirectly.

Walking in Two Worlds

Seven powerful examples of contemporary Hodinöhsö:ni’ women are featured here, demonstrating how they have chosen to make a difference in our world.

Amy Blum

Natasha Smoke Santiago with her belly cast. Santiago, Mohawk Turtle Clan, cast her own belly during pregnancy and used the mold as a canvas to portray the Iroquois creation story to include the image of Sky Woman.

It’s an honor to be included among the stories of our Hodinöhsö:ni’ women,” said Michelle Schenandoah (Oneida, Wolf Clan), an inspirational writer, speaker, thought leader and one of the seven women featured in the “Walking in Two Worlds” section of the exhibit. “Taking time to learn what it means to be a lifegiver from our Hodinöhsö:ni’ point of view; is the sacred role of being of a woman—which the United States omitted in the formation of its government that is based on our Hodinöhsö:ni’ life ways.”

Amy Blum

Michelle Schenandoah with mom Diane at the exhibit.

The exhibit will be open for regular hours 9 am to 4:30 pm, and then will follow regular Seneca Art & Culture Center hours, Tuesdays through Sundays.

The exhibit designer is Johnson/Hehr Associates and exhibit fabricator is Hadley Exhibits.

For more information visit:–from-the-time-of-creation

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