#NativeVote18 Candidates Boosted By An Electorate Ready For Change

A special election in Pennsylvania is a good sign for Native American #NativeVote18 candidates running for office. Why? Because this cycle is already favoring out-of-power Democrats and, quite possibly, independents. It’s hard to peg any constituent group more out-of-power than those who would represent Indian Country in the Congress of the United States.

First, the news from Pennsylvania, then we will look at the map. Democrats are claiming victory in a special election for that state’s 18th Congressional District. Perhaps. Officially, the race is too close to call between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone. It’s a practical tie with Lamb holding a tiny lead. But Lamb has claimed victory and Democrats are celebrating no matter what happens next because this is a district that favors Republicans, it was won by President Donald J. Trump by 20 points. So even normally red districts are up for grabs come November.

Or as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (New Mexico) posted Tuesday night: ““These results should terrify Republicans. Despite their home field advantage and the millions of dollars … We have incredible candidates with deep records of service running deep into the map this year, and it’s clear that these Republican attacks are not going to stick.”

Back to the map: Sharice Davids, who is running in Kansas fits that storyline precisely. She is running in a district that Republicans should win easy. Rep. Kevin Yoder won re-election in 2016 with an 11-point margin. But remember the Pennsylvania 18th favored Republicans by 20-points.

Davids is Ho-Chunk, an attorney, and she worked in the Obama administration. This is pretty much an anti-Trump-agenda resume’.

The most immediate boost from Tuesday’s vote should be more campaign donations.

Another #NativeVote18 candidate who could benefit from a re-imaging of the election landscape is Amanda Douglas in Oklahoma. After Lamb claimed victory in Pennsylvania she tweeted: “Yes! his is exactly what I’m talking about!!! I can’t wait to work with newly elected Congressman @ConorLambPA!”

YES! This is exactly what I’m talking about!!! I can’t wait to work with newly elected Congressman @ConorLambPA!

— Amanda Douglas (@Amanda4Congress) March 14, 2018

Douglas, Cherokee, is running in the state’s 1st Congressional District. Two years ago Democrats did not field a candidate in that race. It’s rated as a “plus-17” Republican district — in other words, awful similar to the Pennsylvania 18th.

In another part of Oklahoma, two Cherokee Nation citizens could both potentially be on the fall ballot. Rep. Markwayne Mullin is running for his fourth term as as Republican. Democrat Jason Nichols, the mayor of Tahlequah, is running as a Democrat. Mullin won 70 percent of the vote in his last election bid.

Rep. Tom Cole (Chickasaw) is also running for re-election as a Republican in Oklahoma’s 4th congressional district.

Rep. Tom Cole is also running for re-election as a Republican in Oklahoma’s 4th congressional district. Cole, Chickasaw, also earned more than 70 percent of the vote in the last election.

One #NativeVote18 candidate who had a good week before the Pennsylvania election was running in New Mexico.

Campaign Photo

Former New Mexico Democratic Party Chair and candidate for Congress Debra Haaland.

Haaland’s challenge is to win the Democratic primary in June because, unlike most Native candidates, she’s running in a district that favors Democrats.

Last weekend Haaland was the top-vote getter at the state’s party convention, winning nearly 35 percent of the vote in a crowded field. She told delegates: “Congress has never heard a voice like mine.”

Haaland, is Laguna Pueblo. Congress has never elected any Native American woman to its ranks since voting began in 1789.

Haaland, Davids, or Douglas could be the first.

The Pennsylvania race also raises questions for the #NativeVote18 candidates who are Republicans. Former Washington State Sen. Dino Rossi would be at the top of that list. Rossi, Tlingit, is hoping to succeed a moderate Republican, Rep. Dave Reichert, in Washington’s 8th congressional district. That district has been trending Democratic.

The president’s popularity is reflected by Rossi’s own words. He told The Seattle Times that he is “not running to be ‘The Apprentice.’ I am running to be the congressman from the 8th Congressional District. The way I am going to treat Donald Trump is just the same way I would have treated George W. Bush or Barack Obama. If I agree with them I agree with them, and if I don’t, I don’t.”

One #NativeVote18 candidate who is not running away from President Trump is Gavin Clarkson in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. His campaign website proclaimed “the best way to help President Trump stop the swamp and protect New Mexico is to run for the Republican nomination to make sure we retain this Congressional seat in November.”

Then this Southern New Mexico district is changing too. The seat is now held by Rep. Steve Pearce is running for governor — making this an open seat. Pearce won easily, capturing 60 percent of the vote. But the district is now 54 percent Hispanic and in a wave election, it could be the ideal seat for a Democratic pickup. Trump won the district by 10 points, half of the margin in Pennsylvania.

There are also three #NativeVote18 candidates running as independents or on third-party lines. Eve Reyes Aguirre is running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona on the Green Party ticket. Aguirre is an Izkaloteka Mexican Native.

She recently tweeted that she is an “unconventional politician” and is rounding up signatures to make the ballot. Henry John Bear is running as a Green Party candidate in Maine’s 8th Congressional District. Bear is a citizen of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. And, finally, in Minnesota, Ray “Skip” Sandman is running in the 8th Congressional District as an independent. Sandman is Ojibwe.

Can an independent or third party candidate win in this environment? It’s hard to say, there is no real evidence yet. But as the Pennsylvania results show, this is an election cycle where anything is possible.

Be sure to follow the hashtag #NativeVote18 to keep alerted about the Native American candidates running for office.@IndianCountry editor Mark Trahant @TrahantReports will be providing updated coverage.

— Indian Country Today (@IndianCountry) March 14, 2018

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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“Best Year Of My Life” Last Year’s ‘The Voice’ Top 3 Finalist, Brooke Simpson, Talks With ICT

Hailing from the great state of North Carolina, Brooke Simpson, 27 (Haliwa-Saponi) never realized she would be sitting on the top of the finalist platform for last season’s The Voice as the main contender on “Team Miley.”

Simpson’s love of music started at age seven when she started singing with her parents at church services. Years later, Simpson defeated nearly insurmountable odds to rise as one of the finalists out of 60,000.

Simpson is still going strong and working on her music career full-time. She took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling.

Schilling: You made it to the top three in the last year’s season of The Voice. This must have been some wild ride for you.

Simpson: Oh my gosh, It has been a wild ride. It’s amazing 60,000 people have tried out for the voice and I remember attending the blind auditions there were about 90 of us there, and we were all there for one month together. I remember thinking wow out of 60,000 people, we are the top 90. Now to not only say that, I am able to say I was in the top three out of 60,000 people, it’s truly unbelievable.

Schilling: Wow, that’s amazing. It’s like the Olympics.

Simpson: (Laughs) Yeah, the vocal Olympics!I

Schilling: Can you tell me a bit about the journey you went on?

Simpson: The blind auditions started in June of last year, and everything started airing in September 2018. My initial involvement on the voice started in January of 2017. I literally spent my entire year with The Voice. I initially auditioned about five years ago. I first tried out in Atlanta, Georgia I was in college and was dating my now husband. I was trying to figure out my way as an artist. I got through the initial audition, but I only made it past that round. I had also tried out for American Idol as a teenager, and I had told myself I was finished with the auditioning thing. In January 2017, someone from The Voice emailed me. They called me on an old telephone number which was my dad’s number, and they said ‘We saw your audition tape from four years ago, we would love for you to come give it another shot. When this all happened, I didn’t think it would go too far just because of what had happened in the past.

Schilling: I can imagine it’s hard to have a positive attitude when you are facing such a magnitude of odds against you.

Simpson: Exactly, but to make it as far as I did, I just really had no idea that when I went to that audition in February, that my entire life would be changed.

Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC

THE VOICE — “Live Finale” Episode — Pictured: (l-r) Brooke Simpson, Miley Cyrus.

Schilling: What is it like to go from an audition alongside your peers, to a world filled with stages and lights and cameras and be thrust into the public eye?

Simpson: You have a million things happening and people are asking you a million questions, and they are asking about the things you are doing every single week. On top of this you are trying to focus on one song to sing week to week. Then you are also thinking about the song you are going to have to sing in the upcoming week. And then you have a vast number of people and fans and supporters calling out you on social media, it’s unbelievable. I could not have asked for a better year. It was the best year of my entire life.

Schilling: What are some of the cool moments that stick out to you over that year?

Simpson: One thing that sticks out are all the amazing fans. They do so many amazing things. For example I had a meet and greet in my hometown in North Carolina, I just put it out there on social media, and the reaction was absolutely nothing that I expected. I thought a few of my hometown folks and friends would show up, and it would be nice to share some hugs and laughs. But over 800 people showed up, a lot of them were from out of state, and they just came to say hello and give me a hug. It was incredible to hear how some of the people said my music has helped them, comforted them and that my interactions on social media help them feel better. It was so overwhelming in the best way. The one wonderful thing about people who are fans, is they talk to me as if I am reachable and can speak with them on a personal level. They talk to me like we are best friends and that is very cool.

So happy I got to do my first meet and greet in my hometown. Thank you all who came for the love, the hugs and the gifts? I love you all very much ??✨

— Brooke Simpson ? (@brookesimpson) January 3, 2018

Schilling: How does it feel as a Native woman representing Haliwa-Saponi and Native culture in general at this level?

Simpson: it is such an honor. I told myself before all of this began to if I can do just one small thing to help represent my culture and my tribe and let the world know that we as Native people do exist, because a lot of times I do feel that we as native people are forgotten people — I thought it would be awesome if I could play a small role in doing something to bring more exposure. The reactions I have got from tries all over the US and Canada, has been amazing. It is such an honor to represent not only my tribe but Native people all over. I’m so happy to have played an even larger role than I expected in all that.

Schilling: You were on Team Miley. What are your reactions with Miley Cyrus? Her and her family claims some Cherokee heritage.

Simpson: The whole experience was incredible. I picked Miley because I loved her and I love her music. She was a coach I knew that I wanted to go with. When one time we went backstage, I met her mom. It was great to hear how much they loved Native culture, it felt like a ‘God thing.’

Schilling: After making it to the top three in The Voice, what’s next for Brooke Simpson?

Simpson: This whole experience has brought forward what was a faraway reality to pursue my musical career full-time. Now I know that this is a reality for me. I am ready for whatever the future has for me. But what I am focusing on for 2018 is building a team of knowledgeable and trustworthy people, I would love to start touring All over the US and even outside of the US. I want to record an album. I have a lot of songs that I have written before and during The Voice.

I’m looking forward to the future.

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Why Should Native Americans Vote? Protecting Sacred Sites Is One Answer

PUEBLO OF ISLETA— Why should Native Americans vote? Linda Yardley from Taos Pueblo had one answer at a field hearing of the Native American Voting Rights Coalition Friday.

She said Taos Pueblo fought for more than a century to have the United States return its sacred Blue Lake. The land had been taken by the U.S. Forest Service in 1906 and a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (and therefore head of the Forest Service,) Clinton P. Anderson, was by the late 1960s a U.S. Senator from New Mexico. The Pueblo eventually won, when President Richard Nixon agreed to return Blue Lake.

But Anderson never changed his position. “He told our tribal leaders: ‘I’ll be dead before you ever get your land back.’ And that was our U.S. Senator,” Yardley testified. “If our people had been voters, registered voters, Clinton Anderson probably would not have had the ability to say that. This is why it’s so important for me personally because I don’t want our people to go through the hardship that we did to secure our tribal lands, our sacred lands, back to us.”

Archives photo

Senator Clinton P. Anderson, 13th Secretary of Agriculture, June 1945 – May 1948.

The Native American Voting Rights Coalition has been holding hearings across the country since last September to document the unique needs and challenges faced by Native voters. The coalition said witnesses include a wide range of tribal leaders, advocates, and voters.  They are sharing their experiences with voter registration and voting in federal, state, and local (non-tribal) elections.

Issues being identified in the hearings include access to voter registration and voting sites, early voting, poll worker opportunities, treatment at the polls, voter identification requirements, redistricting, language barriers, and other obstacles that might prevent Native Americans from being able to participate fully and effectively in the political process.

In earlier hearings, testimony from tribal members, elected officials, and community advocates, documented persistent suppression of the Native vote in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. This included a number of barriers to equal voting rights including “unreasonably long distances to polls and inability to access transportation keep Natives from voting.”

Jacqueline De León, Voting Rights Fellow for the Native American Rights Fund said in a news release, “Tribal members should not have to expend precious resources getting to distant polls all the while doubting whether or not they will be allowed to vote. I was shocked by the wide range of arbitrary and unreasonable requirements that make Native Americans feel unwelcome or keep them from voting altogether. This is true voter suppression.”

The voting coalition said testimony from several hearings documented serious hurdles that Native voters had to face in order to vote:

  • Dismal conditions at reservation voting polling locations, one of which included a dirt floor chicken coop that did not have restrooms.
  • Restrictions on the number of voter registrations that one can submit to the county clerk’s office, requiring repeated trips to the office.
  • County employees chastising organizers submitting voter registrations for being a “nuisance” and “making more work” for the county office by submitting Native American registrations.
  • Notifications sent to reservation residents that incorrectly informed them they are no longer residing in the district where they had registered and failing to identify the correct district.
  • Being turned away at the polls because a tribal identification card did not include a street address.
  • Poll workers who fell silent whenever a Native American entered the polling location.

At the Albuquerque hearing, Laurie Weahkee, executive director of the New Mexico-based Native American Voters Alliance, said the efforts to register voters began in the early 1990s to try and protect sacred sites. “At the time a lot of us were young organizers and never voted before and sort of thumbed our noses at politics and politicians …  but as we remained in our effort to protect petroglyphs we found ourselves losing votes after votes. City council votes, public information type votes, and so it became important for us to figure out which candidates, which people were going to really support Native American people. This went beyond sacred sites.”

Weahkee said the alliance was spending a lot of time in the state legislature and paid attention to issues such as taxes, bonds, and roads. And Native American projects were rarely included in that process. So the alliance worked to register 5,000 Native American voters in Albuquerque in 2007. Weahkee is Zuni, Cochiti and Navajo.

Campaign photo via Twitter

Debra Haaland is a candidate for Congress from New Mexico as a Democrat. She is a member of the Laguna Pueblo and, if elected, would be the first Native American woman ever elected to Congress.

Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, is now running for the U.S. Congress to represent Albuquerque, but has worked on voting rights issues in the state for many years. “I come at this issue as a grassroots organizer,” she said. “I felt like we needed more Native Americans voting so I went to the campaign offices of candidates I liked and asked for Native American lists so I could start calling those folks on the phone. That eventually turned into on the ground, show up, and canvas every single house on Laguna Pueblo in 2010, and drive many, many times to Zuni Pueblo to knock on every door and make sure that every opportunity to vote.”

Haaland recalled a Saturday morning visit to a home in San Felipe Pueblo in 2008 where she registered seven people to vote. She said the last person to register was a man, probably in his mid 50s,  “stood up, shook my hand, and said, ‘thank you so much, I have always wanted to vote but I never knew how.’ If that does make you feel like we have a lot of work to do in New Mexico, I don’t know what will.”

The Native American Voting Rights Coalition is a non-partisan alliance of national and grassroots organizations, scholars, and activists advocating  for equal access for Native Americans to the political process. The Native American Rights Fund founded the coalition in 2015. Hearings will continue next month in Sacramento on April 5 and in Tuba City in the Navajo Nation on April 25. The Native American Rights Fund will accept testimony from those who cannot make the hearings by email at


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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100 Years Documentary on Elouise Cobell Coming To PBS – Director Talks With ICT

The award-winning documentary 100 Years is coming to PBS’: America Reframed on March 13th. The film is based on the story of Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet) who fought a 30-year battle against the U.S. Government for its gross mismanagement of funds impacting more than 300,000 Native individuals.

Melinda Janko is producer, director and writer of 100 Years. She graduated cum laude from Emerson College in Boston, Mass.

Janko told Indian Country Today via email that after moving to Southern California in 2003, she formed Fire in the Belly Productions, Inc., after discovering the story of the broken Indian Trust Fund and the Cobell lawsuit.

Outraged by the injustice, Janko says she vowed to bring 100 Years to the world and spent two years researching and building relationships of trust with Elouise Cobell and Native American leaders.

Janko traveled throughout the U.S. with Cobell for some four years and was granted exclusive access to Cobell’s story. Filming began in Washington, DC and also continued into eight states and many Tribal lands. Janko was later granted access to high-level officials of the Department of the Interior who had previously declined to talk.

She has interviewed senators, congressmen, the presiding federal judge, the lead attorney, and many Native American beneficiaries of the Indian Trust Fund.

As a result of the success of 100 Years, Janko has been interviewed by the BBC Radio, NPR, Indian Country Today and wrote a special feature article about Elouise Cobell for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Magazine. 100 Years is her Directorial debut.

Courtesy '100 Years' / Melinda Janko

Director Melinda Janko with Elouise Cobell during the making of ‘100 Years.’

The film has won many awards to include the 2017 Big Sky Documentary Award, it was shortlisted for a Best Song for the 2017 Academy Awards and listed as one of the top 100 Films of 2017 by film critic, Kam Williams.

100 Years will have its broadcast premiere on PBS, America ReFramed on March 13 and release on Netflix, March 21.

100 Years Official Trailer

In an interview with Indian Country Today, Janko explained how she felt that the film has managed to garner so much recognition, what it means to Indian country, and what’s to come in the future.

Schilling: How does it feel to have come this far in the filmmaking process?

Janko: I am very proud of the work that my team and I have done to bring Elouise Cobell’s story to the world. This has been a 14-year journey for me. We started filming in 2004 and released the film in the fall of 2016. Our tribute song, On Ghost Ridge, was shortlisted for a Best Song Academy Award in 2017, we won the Big Sky Documentary Award that same year. 100 Years was also listed as one of the top 100 films of 2017 by film critic, Kam Williams. The Montana Public Schools have 300 copies, and wrote their curriculum around the film.


I00 Years Movie Poster

Schilling: There is no mistaking the amazing work of Elouise Cobell, but I am curious, why did you wish to make this film in the first place?

Janko: I made this film because I was outraged by the U.S. Government’s gross mismanagement of the Indian Trust Funds that belonged to 300,000 Native Americans. I wanted to know why Native people who owned mineral rich lands were living in abject poverty without running water and electricity? I found it odd that the largest class action lawsuit ever filed against the U.S. Government was not front page news. It was, in fact, a little known story tucked away from the public.
Schilling: Well, it has certainly made an impression and will assuredly continue to do so. That said, what’s to come?

Janko: We are extremely excited about the upcoming broadcast premiere of 100 Years on the PBS series, America ReFramed on March 13th and the March 21st release of the film on Netflix.  I have been on the speaking circuit since the release of the film and I am still out there bringing 100 Years to colleges, universities, public schools, government agencies and more. Our goal is to get the film in public schools, law schools, colleges and universities.

For more information and television listing times, visit the 100 Years website or PBS’ site at

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Regarded Native American Performance Artist James Luna Has Died at 68

Known for his artwork that challenged the public perception of Native Americans and indigenous cultures, the highly regarded performance and installation artist, photographer and writer James Luna has died at age 68.

Luna, well-regarded for his ‘in-your-face’ art that questioned stereotype and colonialism and who was often referred to as ‘one of the most dangerous Indians alive,’ in the arts world, died from a heart attack at University Hospital in New Orleans on March 4th, 2018. Luna was attending a residency at the Joan Mitchell Center.

In terms of his artistic work, Luna was lauded for his brazen humor and shocking tactics. One of his most known art installations was in 1987 and titled Artifact Piece. The installation took place at the San Diego Museum of Man, and Luna shocked visitors as he laid in a loincloth and was surrounded by ‘Indian artifacts’ such as political buttons, divorce papers and music recordings. He also had labels pointing out scars from wounds he received from when he was ‘drunk and fighting.’


James Luna’s the ‘Artifact.’

Another of Luna’s installations was in 2010 in which he created a “Take a Picture With a Real Indian” performance on Columbus Day standing in front of in front of Washington, D.C.’s Union Station.

In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine after his performance, Luna expressed the sentiment behind the world’s romanticism of the American Indian.

“The people are getting up there to have their picture taken with an Indian, just like they would have their picture taken with the bull statue on Wall Street. It’s there for the taking. Indian people always have been fair game, and I don’t think people quite understand that we’re not game. Just because I’m an identifiable Indian, it doesn’t mean I’m there for the taking. But in the long run I’m making a statement for me, and through me, about people’s interaction with American Indians, and the selective romanticization of us.”

According to Luna’s biography on his website, he garnered over 30 years experience with a multitude of exhibitions and performances and resided on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in North County San Diego, California.


James Luna created an art installation in 2011 humorously emulating Northwest Coast tribal masks in, ‘We Become Them.’

His website reads: “Since 1975, he has had over 41 solo exhibitions, participated in 85 group exhibitions and has performed internationally at venues that include the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, and Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Santa Fe, NM. In 2005, he was selected as the first Sponsored Artist of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presented at the 2005 Venice Biennale’s 51st International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy.”

As Luna told Smithsonian Magazine regarding his ‘take a picture with an Indian’ piece, it was much more than a social media selfie opportunity, he was sending a message. Though some of his work might have incorporated humor, it went much deeper.

“People want to put their arms around you, or want you to break that stoic look and smile. Or they say insulting things. After a while I just want to run out of there. But I’m there for a purpose and so that’s part of, I guess, being an artist,” said Luna.

“I just think that people should know that this isn’t a joke.”

For more of James Luna’s work visit his website here.


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

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Who Should Run The Indian Health Service? This Is No Longer the IHS We Grew Up With

Who should run the Indian Health Service? Not “who” exactly, but what kind of leader? What kind of skills and experience would be the most useful?

This question is more important than ever. The Trump administration has withdrawn the nomination of Robert Weaver to lead the agency. Weaver, a member of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, has a background in private insurance working with tribes to set up plans to cover tribal members.

Weaver’s nomination was sidetracked after The Wall Street Journal reported serious misstatements on his resume’ both in terms of education and work experience. A representative of the Department of Health and Human Services said, “Mr. Weaver is no longer the Administration’s nominee for Director of the Indian Health Service.”

The Trump administration has withdrawn the nomination of Robert Weaver, Quapaw, to lead the IHS.

For his part, in a letter to tribal leaders, Weaver said the president has been an “ardent supporter of fixing Indian health throughout this process.” And he said, “he will fight to give voice to the change needed at IHS until the mission is complete … the delivery of timely, high healthcare for Indian Country no matter where you live.”

And Weaver went further in an op-ed for Native News Online. He said he wanted to be IHS director for the “sole purpose” of being a part of the solution.

“… many tribes supported me from around Indian country. Why? I think because they know that babies are being born on IHS hospital floors. They know that people are dying of heart attacks because the crash carts at their IHS hospitals don’t have the proper medications. They know that some of the places where they live don’t have running water. They knew that I was the right person to start addressing these abuses because I’ve been an unwavering advocate for our peoples’ health and wellness for the past decade and I was willing to meet and listen,” wrote Weaver.

The key word is “mission.” The mission of the Indian Health Service has become so confused that even policy makers cannot or will not articulate the challenges ahead. Two U.S. Senators, for example, recently talked to National Public Radio and Kaiser Health News about the agency’s leadership and its lack of resources.

NCAI courtesy

Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in a speech on the Senate floor last month said, “the IHS cannot engage in long-term planning without a permanent director at the helm.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in a speech on the Senate floor last month said, “the IHS cannot engage in long-term planning without a permanent director at the helm. It cannot efficiently fix problems at hospitals that failed inspections  and where Medicare and Medicaid funding is in jeopardy. It cannot move as decisively to ensure that IHS facilities stay open.”

Montana Democrat Jon Tester told NPR, “It’s well documented that IHS has been underfunded now for decades, and you can’t get blood out of a turnip, you can’t get health care out of an agency that doesn’t have enough money to be able to do the job that they’re required to do. Congress also needs to do its job and make sure IHS has the dollars it needs, no more, no less, to do the job that’s required, and that’s to take care of the Indian people.”

However Montana Republican Steve Daines told NPR, “throwing more money at it isn’t going to solve the fundamental problem of lack of accountability and lack of leadership. You need to prioritize and look at where we spend the money,” Daines said. “One of the areas we need to address is to insure that the compensation structure for the health professionals that serve, the folks that are right there on the front line, delivering healthcare in Indian Country, that the wages they’re provided are competitive, so that we can attract and retain good health care professionals. That is an area that needs to be addressed, and that’s what we need to prioritize.”

What’s missing from this conversation? Medicaid.

Medicaid is a growing part of the Indian health system budget. (A trend that is not reflected in the actual budget that Congress enacts every year.)

The discourse about the Indian Health Service continues to be about a federal agency that delivers health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives. And, within that story, there are so many clinics and hospitals that only require more order and funding in order to carry out even basic health care.

Only the IHS story is much more complex. We need to think differently about the IHS. (As I have written before: I would even change the name to the Indian Health System to reflect what the agency now does.)

Most of the Indian Health system is managed by tribes or non-profits. There are 26 IHS hospitals, and 19 tribal or or non-profit hospitals.

But, and this is huge, there are 526 clinics, health centers and stations run by tribes and non-profits and only 91 by IHS.


Health Centers

Alaska Village Clinics

Health Stations











The federal role is changing. The Indian Health Service still does operate health care delivery and it sets standards. But it’s also a major funding source–and even that is misleading–because Medicaid is also a significant funding source for tribal and non-profit facilities.

This is important because Medicaid has been under attack by the Trump administration from day one. The administration claims it’s protecting the Indian Health Service budget–all the while proposing deeper and deeper cuts into Medicaid–as Sen. Warren pointed out.

There is a disconnect. And it’s visible in the budget. The line item for “collections,” that is, money from Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance, is roughly $1.2 billion. That’s a number that has not changed much despite a huge expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This number should have been growing dramatically. But it’s not because it does not capture the amount of dollars collected tribes and non-profits, only the money that goes into IHS direct services.

This is misleading because when you talk to tribal and non-profit administrators, as I have, there is a different story to tell. Medicaid is now more important to local budgets than the IHS itself.

The expansion of Medicaid also explains a lot about the shortages within the Indian health system. The federal Indian Health Service will take Medicaid funds, but it’s not growing the pot. Tribes and nonprofits have done that. And so there is more money for Indian health in states that have expanded Medicaid.

This is not the Indian Health Service we grew up with. And the next director of the Indian Health Service needs to acknowledge this complexity and own the new story. The next IHS director ought to have a solid background in public health, medicine, management, and now more than ever, Medicaid.


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

(Some of this material was previously posted on Trahant Reports.)

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Santa Fe Days in the Park Announces Their 2018 Featured Artists, Violet and Tony Duncan

The 14th Annual Santa Fe Days in the Park by the Indigenous Institute of the Americas is a family-friendly event featuring two days of interactive festivities celebrating Native American Indian culture and knowledge through jewelry, crafts, dance, music, food, games, seminars, storytelling and hands-on teaching from respected Native educators.

The event is March 17th and 18th, 2018, from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm each day.

Santa Fe Days in the Park features over 70 American Indian artists from at least 40 Nations and is the only authentic Native American Indian art market in North Texas.

The 2018 Santa Fe Days in the Park featured artists include five-time world champion hoop dancer and internationally-recognized Canyon Records flute player Tony Duncan (San Carlos Apache, Arikara, Hidatsa) and his wife Violet Duncan (Plains Cree and Taino,) a championship winning fancy shawl dancer and author.

We hope everyone will come out Thursday night March 15 to greet the Duncan family before Santa Fe Days starts….

— Santa Fe Days (@santa_fe_days) February 22, 2018

In addition, Santa Fe Days in the Park will host championship pow wow dancers and the Mitotiliztli Yaoyollohtli Aztec dancers from the Dallas Ft. Worth community. Bows and Arrows Radio celebrity, Harold Rogers (Navajo/Diné) will serve as Master of Ceremonies alongside of Head Singer, Lance Tahchawwickah (Comanche/Nʉmʉnʉʉ.) The host drum is STR8 South.

The Duncans, Violet and Tony, with their children, will give storytelling, flute and dance performances and lead hoop and fancy shawl dance workshops.  A literary exhibition will highlight children’s books by Native authors and Violet Duncan will be signing her books.

According to Annette Anderson, secretary of the Indigenous Institute of the Americas, Santa Fe Days in the Park is not so much a pow wow, but a Native American Indian cultural exhibition and educational event.

“We do have a grand entry on Saturday March 17 at 10:45am and all dancers are welcome. We  follow powwow protocol, but it mixes with cultural demonstrations. We do have a Tiny Tot contest on Saturday for ages 4 to 10,” wrote Anderson in an email.

“This year our Grand Entry honors “PJ” James, a retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant and a former POW/MIA of the Vietnam War. He was the first Navajo Marine to become a Marine Drill instructor, caretaker/bearer of the Navajo Code Talkers’ Guidon, is a direct descendant of Navajo Code Talkers, and a is a lifetime honorary member of the Navajo Code Talkers.

Anderson said the theme this year is Cherish Turtle Island. “We have a true turtle protector Michaela Mullen, who is a herpetologist in the Dallas Ft. Worth area. Also, our children’s crafts will include learning about the Turtle’s knowledge that was gifted to Native people,” wrote Anderson.

In addition to the performances of the Duncan family, other offerings at Santa Fe Days in the Park include honoring the Navajo Code Talkers and Native Veterans, a sacred tree walk, and Native stickball and lacrosse demonstrations and exhibition games. There will also be children’s craft and learning centers with such offerings as a ‘Three Sisters Seed Hands-on Learning’ display a ‘Did all American Indians live in Tipis?’ game, a dance-stick and dance-purse crafts booth for children, and a beading booth.

Santa Fe Days in the Park will host ‘six of the best American Indian family cooks in the four-state area,’ offering traditional dishes such as Indian tacos, frybread, corn soup, and meat pies for purchase.

The Sandy Lake Amusement Park admission is $2.00 per person and includes parking and access to Santa Fe Days in the Park. A detailed schedule of events available at and/or

Santa Fe Days in the Park
Sandy Lake Amusement Park
1800 Sandy Lake Rd
Carrollton, TX 75006

Facebook –
Facebook Event Page:

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Utah Rep. Proposes 631-mile Donald Trump Highway Traversing Through Grand Staircase

Utah Republican lawmaker Mike Noel has recently proposed Utah House Bill 481 that would change the name of 631 miles of the Utah National Parks Highway to the Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway.

The bill was introduced by Noel as a gesture of appreciation to Trump who reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments and opened them up for potential mining and oil-drilling.

“I think he’s done a tremendous amount, and I think with seven more years we can turn this country around,” Noel said during the hearing of House Bill 481, which passed with a vote of 9-2. “I think it’s a small price to pay to name a highway after him when he does in fact protect public lands.”

In 2017, President Trump removed an approximate 1.1 million acres from Bears Ears, reducing it by 85 percent. He reduced an additional 800,000 acres from Grand Staircase-Escalante, reducing it by 46 percent.

“You get people who stand up and say that he took away protections of these lands. It’s absolutely false,” said Noel during the committee hearing.

See Related: Trump Slashes Two Million Acres off of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase: Tribes To Sue

A story from The New York Times titled Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears Ears Monument, Emails Show, showed that Bears Ears reduction was all about oil development, and undermines Noel’s statements.

“Even before President Trump officially opened his high-profile review last spring of federal lands protected as national monuments, the Department of Interior was focused on the potential for oil and gas exploration at a protected Utah site, internal agency documents show,” reads the article in the New York Times.

State Sen. Jim Dabakis (D) has been openly opposed to the bill introduced by Noel. Dabakis took to Twitter threatening If the House passes the bill, he would attach an amendment to rename the road that runs along the proposed Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway.

HB 481, “Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway Designation” passed House Committee 9 to 2. If it gets to the Senate, I will present an amendment that the frontage road be designated as the Stormy Daniels rampway in commemoration of Trump’s affair with the adult film star.

HB 481, “Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway Designation” passed House Committee 9 to 2. If it gets to the Senate, I will present an amendment that the frontage road be designated as the Stormy Daniels rampway. #utpol

— Jim Dabakis (@JimDabakis) March 5, 2018

The Navajo Nation Olijato Chapter president James Adakai, has issued a statement of protest to the renaming of the highways which traverse 631 miles of roads through southern Utah and includes Zion National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Canyonlands National Park.

In a letter to Utah Congressman John Curtis, President Adakai asked the congressman’s support in helping to block the bill.

“The highway goes through or to the five national parks in Utah as well as several national monuments. All of it is land where Native Americans have lived for a millennia, and President Trump has not shown respect for tribal nations. As your constituent and a member of the Navajo Nation, I ask that you block efforts to rename this highway for President Trump,” writes Adakai.

Courtesy Navajo Nation, Olijato Chapter

Navajo Nation letter to Congressman Curtis opposing the proposed Trump highway.

Utah Rep. Joel K. Briscoe (D) said during the committee hearing Monday, out 300 emails he received regarding the bill, only one was in support of renaming the highway in Trump’s honor.

CNN’s Jeanne Moos did a humorous report on the proposed highway

The cost to replace signs according to Democrat lawmakers was $124,000.

The possibility of Dabakis’ amendment is far-fetched as the republicans greatly outnumber the democrats in a vote. The probability of Bill 481 passing is currently uncertain.

One interesting comment on Twitter factors in an expense perhaps not considered by Republicans.

The tweet read: “Tell me those road signs won’t be the most stolen or vandalized in history.”


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Donations Needed For Montana Communities Suffering From Severe Winter Weather

Governor Steve Bullock today encouraged Montanans across the state to assist Montanans in need suffering from the impacts of severe winter weather across the state. Governor Bullock Tuesday declared a winter storm emergency in Northwestern and Southeastern Montana, including on the Blackfeet, Fort Belknap, and Northern Cheyenne reservations and in Glacier and Golden Valley Counties.

“In Montana we lend our neighbors a helping hand in times of need. Right now Montanans across the state are dealing with the impacts of severe winter storms and snowdrifts. So whether its food, firewood, hay or a small monetary donation, let’s make sure our fellow Montanans stay safe and warm this weekend,” said Governor Bullock in a release.

Governor Bullock has set up a Donations Management website to assist those in need.

Montanans and other interested people can donate through this link:

According to the release, items in greatest need include non-perishable food, firewood, and hay. Cash donations are welcome. Areas in Northern Cheyenne and Blackfeet also welcome assistance from area contractors for snow removal.

Video News Report KXLH News

Organizations listed on the website are verified and are working with Donations Management to provide relief to those who need it in Montana.

According to weather reports in the area such as, “the epicenter of winter has been in Montana this year.
The higher elevations of the Rockies have seen more than 40 feet of snow this season and Montana has been in the bullseye for winter storms nearly all season long.”

In addition to Governor Steve Bullock’s cal for donations, he expressed thanks to Montanans who worked to send a five-day supply of food to the Cheyenne Reservation.

He wrote in part, “Thanks to all those who joined the Montana Food Bank Network and stepped up to send a 5-day supply of food for 600 families on the Northern Cheyenne reservation impacted by Montana’s severe weather. In Montana, we lend our neighbors a helping hand in times of need.”

In addition to the Governor’s call, Montana-based reported that tribal nations in the state were in desperate need of hay due to the extreme winter weather conditions.

“Severe winter weather has strained farmers and ranchers on the Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations,” stated the news report. “The Montana Hay Hotline is calling for donations for both reservations.”

For more information, visit the Montana Hay Hotline website.


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‘It Was Loosely Choreographed Chaos,’ Wes Studi Shares His Experience At The Oscars

On October 4th, 2018, Native American actor Wes Studi, who most recently portrayed Chief Yellow Hawk in Hostiles, wowed audiences all over the world by speaking Cherokee while presenting a tribute to military veterans at the 90th Annual Academy Awards.

Indian country has been blasting social media in the past few days with a wave of positive responses regarding Studi’s appearance.

Studi, still feeling a sense of elation from his glamorous experience at the 90th Oscars, spoke with Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling about his evening, and discussed some of the backstage antics involved, which he called, ‘loosely choreographed chaos.’

Vincent Schilling: It goes without saying there was a tremendous response from Indian country regarding your appearance on the Oscars.

Wes Studi: It has overwhelmed my emails, texts and stuff, yeah. (laughs) It has been great.

Schilling: What are you feeling in the aftermath?

Studi: Well, the awards season is more or less over and I am starting to calm down a bit now. (laughs) It was a very exciting and hectic backstage. There was so many things going on back there and it really was just very exciting. It was nice to eventually hit the stage.

Happy Oscar Day! I ran into the immortal @SamuelLJackson at a pre-event last night. #BucketList #Oscars

— Wes Studi (@WesleyStudi) March 4, 2018

Schilling: Statistics-wise you are among the sincerely elite. Very few people in the world will ever do something like this, and factoring in the Native populus, makes this even more of an exclusive club to which you belong. Online a few people have been speaking of Will Rogers who took part in the Oscars in 1934, Sacheen Little Feather, Graham Greene and and Buffy Sainte-Marie who were part of the Oscars. But this was a first in your instance, as an identified Native American presenting.

Studi: I really do think the show itself got a lot more viewers from what I’ve heard beforehand—by message, text, on my website and you name it—that people said they were going to be watching just because a Native guy was going to be on there for the first time in a good long while. (laughs)

Schilling: Weren’t you supposed to present the Oscar for sound editing?

Studi: Yes, at first they had made a different announcement of what I was going to present. The first announcement is that I was going to present for sound editing. After the first announcement, they decided to do the tribute. Later, they said, ‘let’s keep this quiet.’ They don’t like to announce what the schedule will be, and who is giving out what. We had to quietly apologize about this, but we moved forward with my solo homage. It was very good for me, though I would have loved to present with Laura Dern as well. I did see her when we were putting together the show.

Schilling: Can you walk us through what you experienced on the red carpet and backstage before you presented?

Studi: (Laughs) It was pandemonium. It is loosely choreographed chaos. Once you hit that red carpet, the publicists will take you up and down with your name on a placard, they check to see which press is interested and they guide you along and sort of stick you in front of someone with a camera and boom. When the camera is in front of you, you definitely have to be prepared with an answer or two. It is fun, it really is fun.

Schilling: I’ll bet. I saw you on the red carpet and said out loud, there’s Wes Studi!

Studi: (Laughs) There are several sections to the red carpet. I think the last people that I interviewed with were from a military news organization. From that point on, you have press on one side, and there is a big stand of people that shout your name and you wave at them and they go ‘wow’ and make noise. (laughs) And oh it is loud, it is loud. It is a relief to finish up. They take you back to green room of sorts and at that point they begin seating people. Then you sit and wait for a handler to come get you as you get ready for your stage time. They have a very nice green room back there where you wait. Stage managers are running here and there, and getting this person ready, they are exclaiming ‘quiet, get ready for the next cue, next cue.’ It is definite pandemonium back there, and it is loosely controlled.

Schilling: Did you bump elbows with anyone?

Studi: I had a nice conversation with Helen Mirren, Christopher Walken was also back there at that time. Everyone was about the same as myself in terms of feeling a bit jittery about going on. Many of them have been onstage many, many times. But this was my first one right? (laughs)

See our related coverage:

What Did Wes Say? First Native Presenter Wes Studi, Speaks Cherokee Language At Oscars

Schilling: What was going through your mind just before you presented the military homage?

Studi: I was really glad that there was a teleprompter involved. (laughs) I was right there in the wings and I didn’t really hear when to come out. We had rehearsed the day before of course. I did not hear an introduction of any kind. All of a sudden the guy tapped me on the shoulder, and said ‘go!’ I thought ‘really?’ Then kaboom! I hope I hid my surprise at the time, as it came out a bit shocked. (laughs) I got a cue and walked on out.

Schilling: Did the Oscars know you would be speaking your language?

Studi: We had a meeting before with the writers and everyone. And everything was pretty much planned out.

Schilling: There was tremendous excitement on social media, especially Native Twitter, right after you spoke Cherokee.

Studi: They invited us to live tweet, but admittedly I am not adept at tweeting. (laughs) But, yes I saw all of that. The response has been a lot of great excitement and all very positive remarks that I have seen.


— Vincent Schilling (@VinceSchilling) March 5, 2018

Schilling: Has anyone said to you, ‘Hey, you are the Native guy on the Oscars?’

Studi: (Laughs) Yes.

Schilling: What did you do after the Oscars?

Studi: We jumped into stuffed elevators and climbed staircases filled with people. There are so many people involved. Afterwards we went to the Governors Ball and we had some good food there. We went to the Entertainment Studios Gala and saw Katy Perry perform. I also met some of the activists from Standing Rock. There were a couple of girls there that were part of the activism performance at the Oscars.

Schilling: There are a lot of people applauding you for your accomplishments in presenting at the Oscars. Young people are stating that they think that someday they’d like to do this.

Studi: This is possible. I did not campaign to do this, but it certainly was a great honor to be able to invited to be part of the show. For anybody who is interested in doing this or being in show business, I think, ‘if I can do it, so can they.’

Schilling: Has this exposure given you any opportunity?

Studi: There have been plenty of responses and good comments about all of this. But it has also given me an opportunity to promote a film that we can hopefully find distribution for. We have a meeting set up for later today with a distributor who hopefully will be interested what we have to say about this film called Pipeline. It is listed on IMDb and the filmmakers are trying to get it finished up so that we can pitch it as a theatrical release.

Schilling: Any last words or an overview of this experience?

Studi: (Laughs) Well, I would love to do it again. And I’d like to get one of those little statues myself.


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Attending RES 2018 In Las Vegas? Join Indian Country Editor Mark Trahant For An ICT Q&A

This week, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (the National Center) opened its 32nd annual Reservation Economic Summit (RES) in Las Vegas. The event is being held at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

In addition to providing news coverage while he is in attendance, Mark Trahant, the new editor of Indian Country Today, will be hosting a question and answer session in the hotel’s Starbucks coffee beginning at 6 pm.

“The reason we are hosting this meet-up at with folks in Indian country at the 32nd annual Reservation Economic Summit, is because I believe sincerely in transparency. A lot of business organizations, tribal governments and journalists are asking about the new trajectory of Indian Country Today, and we want to be available to answer those questions,” said Trahant.

Trahant also said Indian Country Today intends to host additional question and answer sessions in the near future on such platforms as Google Hangouts so that the editorial staff (Mark Trahant, editor and Vincent Schilling, associate editor) can answer questions.

For those interested in attending the Q&A and meet up with Mark Trahant, no reservation is necessary.

The Q&A will take place in the Starbucks coffee shop in the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

3400 South Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Phone: 702-791-7444

Starbucks Coffee
Meet-up with Mark Trahant
6:00 pm pst

The RES 2018 conference kicked off on Monday morning with a scholarship golf tournament at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. The proceeds from the tournament are used for scholarships awarded by the National Center to deserving students.

RES 2018 will also feature time-honored programs and events such as the American Indian Artisan Market, as well as new offerings essential for any tribal or Native-owned business to be successful.

For additional details about RES 2018, see ICT’s previous detailed report: Indian Country Means Business as RES 2018 Kicks Off In Las Vegas

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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Indian Country Means Business as RES 2018 Kicks Off In Las Vegas

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (the National Center) opened its 32nd annual Reservation Economic Summit (RES) on Monday. The largest economic development event in Indian Country will last through Thursday, March 8th at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

RES brings together tribal leaders, entrepreneurs, government officials, suppliers, and many more to do business and learn more about the most important economic development topics facing businesses and Native entrepreneurs.

“RES is where Indian Country comes to do business,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center in a press release. “But RES is also the catalyst for the work the National Center does around the year to promote American Indian and Alaska Native businesses and entrepreneurs. From our award-winning Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, to our partnerships with major corporations, to federal advocacy, the National Center is a force for economic development. RES is where it all comes together, and I’m very excited about what’s in store over the next several days.”

The conference kicked off on Monday morning with a scholarship golf tournament at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. The proceeds from the tournament are used for scholarships awarded by the National Center to deserving students.

RES 2018 will also feature time-honored programs and events such as the American Indian Artisan Market, as well as new offerings essential for any tribal or Native-owned business to be successful.

Premier Economic Development in Indian Country to Take Place in Las Vegas from March 5 – 8

— The National Center (@ncaied) January 24, 2018

Highlights of RES include:

  • Sessions designed to give business owners and entrepreneurs the basics in business, as well sessions to tackle the most important business topics affecting tribes, Alaska Native and tribal corporations, and Native American entrepreneurs.
  • Keynote speeches from executives at IBM, Walmart, and Lockheed Martin, as well as a former US Ambassador to the UN and high-level officials at the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, Minority Business Development Agency, National Indian Gaming Commission, and the U.S. Department of Interior.
  • A workshop on grant writing to assist businesses on the process of procuring funds from grants and how to navigate the grant process.
  • A session on STEM fields and how the American Indian Science and Engineering Society develops culturally relevant STEM programs for Native students and communities.
  • A “Buy Native” Procurement and Matchmaking Expo to match Native businesses with corporate and federal procurement opportunities.
  • A panel session with other leading Native organizations to discuss their shared agendas and mutual initiatives to advance the interests of Indian Country.
  • Updates on Federal legislation to keep attendees informed on Federal Native American policy with key staff from the U.S. Congress.

Starting Tuesday evening, the RES business trade show will feature stages for exhibitors to feature their products and services to those in attendance. The trade show will also host a marketplace where small businesses can sell their products, from booths purchased at a discounted rate.

On Wednesday, RES will feature 2018 INPRO Awards Gala reception, where the National Center will recognize the accomplishments and contributions made by businesses and individuals that support economic and business development in Native communities. The Master of Ceremony is 2017 Miss Alaska and Miss USA contestant, Alyssa London, and attendees will be entertained by Levi & The Plateros.

All attendees will be able to download the “NCAIED Events” APP at the AppStore or Google Play. With the mobile app, attendees can manage their schedule, send speakers questions, and engage with other attendees to grow their networks. To learn more and to see a full agenda for the conference, please visit the RES home page.

About The National Center:

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. With over 40 years of assisting American Indian Tribes and their enterprises with business and economic development – we have evolved into the largest national Indian specific business organization in the nation. Our motto is: “We Mean Business For Indian Country” as we are actively engaged in helping Tribal Nations and Native business people realize their business goals and are dedicated to putting the whole of Indian Country to work to better the lives of American Indian people, both now… and for generations to come.


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‘He’s Poisonous’ Women Go Public Regarding Sherman Alexie Sexual Harassment Allegations

After issuing a public statement and apology last week admitting he had “harmed others,” Native American writer Sherman Alexie has lost a significant degree of credibility as three women have made statements publicly on National Public Radio (NPR) alleging sexual misconduct.

In an extensive report by NPR’s Lynn Neary, three women who first came forward privately on social media to Litsa Dremousis, decided to go public on the program about their experiences with Alexie. Their sexual allegations against him range from sexually suggestive comments in private and public, intimidation and sexual manipulation and overt sexual coercion.

Dremousis, an author that has admitted she has had an affair with Alexie but was not a victim, says she referred the women last week to NPR. Though three have come forward publicly, NPR says 10 women in all spoke to NPR about Alexie, a married man with children.

Jeanine Walker, who is a Seattle-based teacher and one of three women who came forward on the record, and whose stories NPR has corroborated with several sources, says she was at first excited to meet Alexie because he wanted to read her poems.

But when one day Walker went to meet Alexie for a friendly game of basketball, things turned uneasy when she went to change clothes in his office restroom.

“When I turned around he was right behind me, and just like physically very much in my space. And leaned towards me and said, ‘Can I kiss you?’ I said no and backed away, and he kept moving forward and was like, laughing and smiling and sweaty and whatever, and he said ‘It’s just, we’re playing basketball, you remind me of the girlfriends I had in high school.’ And I just said ‘Well, we’re not in high school, Sherman,'” said Walker in the NPR interview.

Alexie later apologized for an incident that Walker said, ‘just felt very wrong.’

Erika Wurth, a Native American writer who was just 22-years-old at the time she met Alexie years ago says she at first felt Alexie was a hero. She was invited to one of Alexie’s readings in Colorado and walked with him afterwards to his hotel and began chatting in the lobby. When she began to leave, Wurth says Alexie jumped over the coffee table and began to kiss her.

As a young woman, Wurth told NPR she had almost no sexual experience and went into a state of non-reality. Alexie invited her to his room. Wurth did and ended up on Alexie’s bed.

Wurth told NPR, “He’s kind of taking my clothes off and kissing me… and I’m kind of like stock still, trying to convince myself this is OK. It’s not working, and eventually I say, because I am kind of scared of this situation, ‘I’m a virgin.’ But it got really weird, because then he’s still trying to work me over, and I’m just stock still, and I think at that point, in my opinion, he realized that if he wanted to have sex with me he would have to violate me, he’d have to rape me. And he did stop.”

Wurth told NPR that she stayed in touch with Alexie, hoping he would still be her mentor or apologize. Years later, they had a second sexual encounter which also ended badly. Wurth said Alexie did give her a positive quote for her first book, and a letter of recommendation, which she now thinks was to keep her from saying anything bad about Alexie.

Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, who also came forward on NPR. Washuta met Alexie when she was going to publish her first book. When going out with a group of people that included Alexie, Washuta says she was simply chatting with him.

“Sherman told me that he could have sex with me if he wanted to,” she said to NPR. “But he used a stronger word, beginning with F. You know, he had not said it quietly, he had not whispered it. It seemed that the men we were talking to could have heard it. I couldn’t believe that somebody would say something to me like that.”

Eventually, Washuta and Alexie became colleagues at the Institute of American Indian Arts. One time, on a work trip to Santa Fe, Washuta says Alexie tried to lure her into his hotel room.

Later, after a disagreement over an essay of Washuta’s, Alexie implied she had plagiarized his work. She later decided to leave the IAIA, because Alexie was a prominent member of the faculty.

“I think we did some really good work there. And I’m sure they continue to do really good work there. But I’m not a part of it. And that feels so lonely. I’m incredibly sad about it.”

When searching his former Twitter handle @Sherman_Alexie, Alexie’s account has either been deleted or had its name changed.

Since that time, the IAIA has made a gesture regarding allegations against Alexie. Last week, the Institute changed the name of its Sherman Alexie Scholarship to the M.F.A. Alumni Scholarship.

Additionally, Alexie has deleted or changed the name of his Twitter account, and his website at has been adjusted so that his landing page is his apology letter.

Alexie, nor his representatives have responded to Indian Country Today’s requests for comments on the allegations.

Read our previous coverage: Sherman Alexie Called Out For Sexual Misconduct For Over A Twenty-Year Period.


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What Did Wes Say? First Native Presenter Wes Studi, Speaks Cherokee Language At Oscars

Just before 11:00 pm est last night, Wes Studi made Oscars history as the first Native American presenter at the 90th Academy Awards. As a solo presenter, Wes Studi talked about his time in the service and introduced a film montage thanking military service members. Before the montage, he spoke Cherokee.

Studi (who played Chief Yellowhawk in Hostiles) spoke about his time in the Vietnam War. “I’m proud to have served there for 12 months with Alpha Company of the 39th Infantry. Anyone else?” Studi asked the audience to a silent response.

“As a veteran, I am always appreciative when filmmakers bring to the screen stories of those who have served. Over 90 years of the Academy Awards, a number of movies with military themes have been honored at the Oscars. Let’s take a moment to pay tribute to these powerful films that shine a great spotlight on those who have fought for freedom around the world.”

Studi ended by speaking in Cherokee.

So #WhatDidWesSay on the #Oscars last night? As Vietnam Vet @WesleyStudi introduced a montage of military movies, he said in our Cherokee language
“Hello. Appreciation to all veterans & Cherokees who’ve served. Thank you!” Learn more Cherokee here! Wado!

— CherokeeNation (@CherokeeNation) March 5, 2018

ABC also posted the full clip featuring Wes Studi on Twitter:

The 90th #Oscars honor the men and women of the United States military.

— ABC Network (@ABCNetwork) March 5, 2018

When Indian Country Today posted that Studi spoke his language at the Oscars using the hashtag #IndianCountryAtTheOscars, thousands responded with positive excitement. First Nations actor Michael Greyeyes tweeted: “That made me jump out of my seat! Clapping & yellin’ #RepresentationMatters #Indigenouslanguages #cherokee

Charlotte Issyvoo‏ tweeted, My husband and I turned to each other with the same question: “Did we really just hear that?” One woman @Bernadette4858 remarked, A proud moment and true role model for our youth … a true warrior.”

Thousands responded to Wes Studi at the 90th Academy Awards.


— Vincent Schilling (@VinceSchilling) March 5, 2018

List of Winners

The entire list of winners as posted by the Oscars website is as follows:

Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
  • Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
  • Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
  • Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Winner
Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick, Darkest Hour – Winner
  • Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard, Victoria & Abdul
  • Arjen Tuiten, Wonder
Costume Design
  • Jacqueline Durran, Beauty and the Beast
  • Jacqueline Durran, Darkest Hour
  • Mark Bridges, Phantom Thread – Winner
  • Luis Sequeira, The Shape of Water
  • Consolata Boyle, Victoria & Abdul
Documentary Feature
  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
  • Faces Places
  • Icarus – Winner
  • Last Men in Aleppo
  • Strong Island
Sound Editing
  • Julian Slater, Baby Driver
  • Mark Mangini and Theo Green, Blade Runner 2049
  • Richard King and Alex Gibson, Dunkirk – Winner
  • Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira, The Shape of Water
  • Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Sound Mixing
  • Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin, and Mary H. Ellis, Baby Driver
  • Ron Bartlett, Dough Hemphill, and Mac Ruth, Blade Runner 2049
  • Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landarker, and Gary A. Rizzo, Dunkirk – Winner
  • Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern, and Glen Gauthier, The Shape of Water
  • David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, and Stuart Wilson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Production Design
  • Beauty and the Beast (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer)
  • Blade Runner: 2049 (Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Alessandra Querzola)
  • Darkest Hour (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer)
  • Dunkirk (Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis)
  • The Shape of Water (Production Design: Paul Denham Austerberry; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin) – Winner
Foreign Language Film
  • A Fantastic Woman (Chile) – Winner
  • The Insult (Lebanon)
  • Loveless (Russia)
  • Body and Soul (Hungary)
  • The Square (Sweden)
Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya – Winner
  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
  • Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
  • Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
Animated Short Film
  • Dear Basketball – Winner
  • Garden Party
  • Lou
  • Negative Space
  • Revolting Rhymes
Animated Feature Film
  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner
  • Coco – Winner
  • Ferdinand
  • Loving Vincent
Visual Effects
  • Blade Runner 2049 (John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, and Richard R. Hoover) – Winner
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, and Dan Sudick)
  • Kong: Skull Island (Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, and Mike Meinardus)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan, and Chris Corbould)
  • War for the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, and Joel Whist)
Film Editing
  • Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos, Baby Driver
  • Lee Smith, Dunkirk – Winner
  • Tatiana S. Riegel, I, Tonya
  • Sidney Wolinsky, The Shape of Water
  • Jon Gregory, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Documentary Short Subject
  • Edith and Eddie
  • Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 – Winner
  • Heroin(e)
  • Knife Skills
  • Traffic Stop
Live Action Short Film
  • DeKalb Elementary
  • The Eleven O’Clock
  • My Nephew Emmett
  • The Silent Child – Winner
  • Watu Wote: All of Us
Adapted Screenplay
  • James Ivory, Call Me by Your Name – Winner
  • Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist
  • Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green, Logan
  • Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game
  • Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, Mudbound
Original Screenplay
  • Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out – Winner
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
  • Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Roger A. Deakins, Blade Runner: 2049 – Winner
  • Bruno Delbonnel, Darkest Hour
  • Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk
  • Rachel Morrison, Mudbound
  • Dan Laustsen, The Shape of Water
Original Score
  • Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk
  • Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
  • Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water – Winner
  • John Williams, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Carter Burwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Original Song
  • “Mighty River,” Mudbound
  • “Mystery of Love,” Call Me by Your Name
  • “Remember Me,” Coco – Winner
  • “Stand Up for Something,” Marshall
  • “This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman
  • Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
  • Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water – Winner
Actor in a Leading Role
  • Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour – Winner
  • Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Actress in a Leading Role
  • Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  • Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Winner
  • Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  • Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
  • Meryl Streep, The Post

Best Picture

  • Call Me By Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Post
  • The Shape of Water – Winner
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


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

The post What Did Wes Say? First Native Presenter Wes Studi, Speaks Cherokee Language At Oscars appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Native Legislators in Minnesota Call For Task Force to Stop Violence Against Indigenous Women

Today in St. Paul, Minnesota, two of four Minnesota Native American legislators, Rep. Kunesh-Podein, a descendant of the Standing Rock Lakota Tribe and Rep. Becker-Finn, a descendant of the Leech Lake Ojibwe, called for a Governor’s Task Force to stop violence against Indigenous women.

Nationwide, Native women suffer from violence at a rate two and a half times greater than any other group. In some regions of Minnesota, Native women are murdered at rates that are more than 10 times the national average.

Representative Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL–New Brighton) called for a Governor’s task force at a press conference this morning to exclusively address the crisis in Minnesota.

I’m calling on @GovMarkDayton to create a task force to exclusively address the endemic crisis of Missing and Murdered Native Women in Minnesota. The violence against our Indigenous women is staggering and heartbreaking-time to remove the invisibility cloak! #mnleg #MMIW

— Mary Kunesh-Podein (@mkuneshpodein) March 2, 2018

“The violence against our Indigenous women is staggering and heartbreaking,” said Rep. Kunesh-Podein. “These are our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, our aunts, our colleagues, and our neighbors. These women are Minnesotans and we are failing to protect them. No family should watch a loved one walk out the door and not know if they will see them again.”

“My cousin, Rebecca Anderson, was murdered in 2015 in South Minneapolis,” said Korina Barry, a member of the Leech Lake Ojibwe at the press conference. Rebecca Anderson was also a member of the Mille Lacs/Leech Lake Ojibwe.

“Today, her children live without their mother. Our family has not received justice. Rebecca’s story is one of many missing and murdered Indigenous women in Minnesota,” said Barry.

According to Rep Kunesh-Podein’s office, there is no system in place to collect comprehensive data on missing and murdered Native women in Minnesota. The task force will cost less than a $1 million a year and work with the Commissioner of Public Safety, state, tribal, federal, and non-governmental agencies to develop appropriate methods for tracking and collecting data, including better providing a better definition to the coordinated efforts to end the violence against Indigenous women.

The task force will also provide analysis regarding the systemic causes behind the number of missing Native American women in the state to law enforcement, policymakers and the public.

“Violence disproportionately inflicted on Native women is not a new trend,” said Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville). “This problem has existed for centuries, with sadness and trauma spanning generations. Each one of our Native sisters taken from us had a family and community who is affected by this loss. This violence and loss continues today and it is long past time we do something about it.”

“Today, I want to remember my sister and friend Ingrid Washinawatok, who was murdered 20 years ago,” said Sharon Day. “Also my two-spirit sisters, Marsha Gomez and Faye Wennell, both artists, and Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, transgender. And finally, my blood sister Debbie Porter, stabbed to death in Duluth. There is not one of us who hasn’t felt the grief of losing someone to violence. It’s time for this to stop.”

“When you hide behind who is right or wrong—while another life is taken or goes missing—speaks volumes of how broken this justice system truly is,” said Mary Lyons, an Ojibwe Elder. “The aftermath, the fallout of what happens to the people, the children, the communities they leave behind, they continue to live and breathe the pain. A special investigation unit would cost less than the foster care or adoption costs that will incur for years. The pain of one woman missing or murdered never fades, it is just buried for eternity or until another life is taken or goes missing.  This is a cycle that can be broken if we work together in harmony.”

According to Kunes-Podein’s office, the task force will report annually to the legislature, providing recommendations to reduce and end violence against Indian women and girls in Minnesota, including any proposed legislation that may be needed to confront the problem. When Rep. Kunesh-Podein’s proposed legislation is signed into law, the task force could go into effect as early as July of this year.


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

The post Native Legislators in Minnesota Call For Task Force to Stop Violence Against Indigenous Women appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Amanda Douglas is the latest candidate for #NativeVote2018 in Oklahoma

Across the country more women than ever are running for office, including Congress, statewide posts, and legislatures. That’s the case in Indian Country, too. So is it a record year? It sure looks to be so. Amanda Douglas is the latest candidate.

“Northeastern Oklahoma is so skewed that not a single non-Republican candidate has officially registered to run for the 1st District in the coming 2018 election,” she wrote on her campaign web site. “Most agree that this is because it is historically a heavily Republican district– it hasn’t seen non-Republican representation since 1987. The thought is that there isn’t enough support for anyone other than a Republican to even bother running.”

Douglas is bothering to run. (This gets to my favorite rule in politics: You gotta run to win.) Two years ago no Democrat bothered to run and the incumbent, Rep. Jim Bridenstine picked up 100 percent of the vote. Not bad, right? He is not running for re-election because he is President Donald J. Trump’s choice to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). That means the district will be an open seat.

Amanda Douglass campaign site at

Douglas and her family are citizens of the Cherokee Nation from Glenpool, Oklahoma, and she’s a graduate of Oklahoma State University.

“Yes, I know,” she writes. “I am not exactly drowning in political experience; however, I want you all to know that I consider that an advantage over other candidates at this point. We need fresh air in Washington. We need representation in Congress that is NOT part of the club– someone who is there for the good of the PEOPLE, not for financial gains or exploitable opportunities.”

There are now three Native American women running for the U.S. House. Deb Haaland in New Mexico, Sharice Davids in Kansas, and Douglas in Oklahoma. All are Democrats. In Arizona, Eve Reyes Aguirre is a candidate for the U.S. Senate running on the Green Party line. There are two Native American women running for state governors, Paulette Jordan in Idaho, and Andria Tupola Hawaii. And Peggy Flanagan is running for Lt. Gov. Minnesota. There are also six Native Americans running for Congress.

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

The post Amanda Douglas is the latest candidate for #NativeVote2018 in Oklahoma appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Sherman Alexie Called Out For Sexual Misconduct For Over A Twenty-Year Period

The Native American Carnegie Medal award-winning writer of 26 books and writer and producer of the movie Smoke Signals, Sherman Alexie (Spokane-Coeur d’Alene,) has been accused of sexual predatory behavior and sexual harassment by several dozen women. Since last Saturday, allegations against the author have reached a fever pitch on social media.

Litsa Dremousis—a close friend of Alexie for over 15 years—says Alexie has been committing unwanted acts for years, to include kissing women that were not expecting it, making sexual innuendos, grabbing or fondling breasts and imposing himself in private situations.

In addition to Alexie making unwanted advances to women, Dremousis told Indian Country Today, “In multiple instances, he explicitly threatened to end women’s careers if they told anyone he had sexually harassed them… It seems—at least so far—that he targeted Native American women writers particularly hard.”

On Wednesday, Alexie issued a public apology amid the allegations of sexual misconduct stating, “Over the years, I have done things that have harmed other people, including those I
love most deeply. To those whom I have hurt, I genuinely apologize. I am so sorry.”

“I reject the accusations, insinuations, and outright falsehoods made by Litsa Dremousis, who has led charges against me. Ms. Dremousis has portrayed herself as simply being a friend of mine. She has withheld from the public the fact that she and I had previously been consenting sexual partners.”

Dremousis says she learned from colleagues and online posts back in October that eight Seattle women and a woman in Los Angeles were claiming Alexie had sexually harassed them.

“I first started hearing in October that he had been harassing women in Seattle, and then two weeks later I heard he had harassed a woman in Los Angeles. I thought, ‘Okay, we now have eight women in Seattle, one in Los Angeles. There are going to be more.’”

Dremousis said women were afraid to confront Alexie due to his prominence in the world of literature. She confided in friends that because she knew him, she would volunteer to confront him.

“People were afraid to confront him so I volunteered. I sent him an email and asked, ‘What are you doing?’ He did not get back to me, which I didn’t expect him to. Within one day, he took his assistant’s contact information, his literary agent’s contact information and his speaking agent’s contact information off his website. He then also blocked me from his fan page on Facebook,” said Dremousis.

“Four days later a press release went out from Seattle Arts and Lectures announcing that Alexie had canceled the upcoming season of his Sherman Alexie Loves lecture series,” she said.

Alexie states Dremousis is only telling a partial truth and claims he has no recollection of making threats. “There are women telling the truth about my behavior and I have no recollection of physically or verbally threatening anybody or their careers. That would be completely out of character. I have made poor decisions and I am working hard to become a healthier man who makes healthier decisions.”

In addition to his apology, Alexie discussed his alleged affair with Dremousis and explained interactions between the two of them that included Dremousis taking food to his home uninvited, and sending an email to his wife and posting on her Facebook page.

“Ms. Dremousis has continually tweeted and spoken in public about my behavior, making accusations based on rumors and hearsay and quoting anonymous sources,” wrote Alexie.

He finished his statement with, “Again, I apologize to the people I have hurt. I am genuinely sorry.”

Where It All Began – Public Tweets Go Viral

On Saturday February 24th, Dremousis tweeted publicly about the series of allegations she had heard since October. In her tweet she wrote: “For those who are learning about what are now several dozen allegations against Sherman Alexie—all of which are 100% credible—go to my TL [timeline] &/or search for his name on Twitter. Others are sharing their stories, too.”

Good morning, all.

For those who are learning about what are now several dozen allegations against Sherman Alexie–all of which are 100% credible–go to my TL &/or search for his name on Twitter. Others are sharing their stories, too.

Here’s what I’ve learned since last night:

— Litsa Dremousis (@LitsaDremousis) February 24, 2018

Within two days of sending out her tweets to the public. Dremousis said email inbox and Twitter direct messages became overloaded with women claiming Alexie had been inappropriate in a number of ways. She now estimates there are between 60 and 70 women who have told her their stories.

Dremousis told Indian Country Today, “Many of them thought they were the only one. Right now so many women are terrified of him, they don’t want to talk at all, they are sharing their stories with me.”

“One of the Native authors in question was a woman 20 years younger. He boxed her in on all sides, he sexually harassed her and said, ‘if you tell anyone I will end your career.’ One woman said, ‘you are going to have to rape me because it is no.’ He stopped and apologized.”

“It is so sad to read story after story after story but the one thing that keeps coming up most often is that he was manipulative. This is infuriating and it is so much worse than I thought. I knew this was awful, but I did not know he was a full-on monster.”

Reactions To Allegations

As a result of Dremousis’ tweets and a flurry of discussion on social media, Professor of American Indian Studies at University of Illinois Debbie Reese, (Nambé Pueblo) has made a public announcement that her organization, American Indians in Children’s Literature, will no longer list Alexie as an author and she has begun removing Alexie from 11 years of posts.

“Based on private conversations I have had, I can no longer let his work sit on AICL without noting that he has hurt other Native writers in overt and subtle ways, including abuse, threats, and humiliation,” wrote Reese on her website.

“I’ve been studying and writing about children’s and young adult books about Native people since the 1990’s. There’s been so little growth in all those years. Learning of his actions tells me that rather than helping grow the numbers of Native writers who get published, he’s undermined that growth.”

In addition to Reese’s claims to remove traces of Alexie from her site, there have been a slew of tweets and posts on social media of people ridding themselves of the works of Alexie.

Washington DC-based bookstore Duende District has stated they will also no longer be carrying Alexie’s books. They tweeted, “About Sherman Alexie. We learned of his predatory behavior a few months ago. We have not carried his books since. Duende District is a WoC-owned business & our mission is to uplift voices of color, esp. women of color, & we do not separate Alexie’s work from his actions.”

About Sherman Alexie. We learned of his predatory behavior a few months ago. We have not carried his books since. Duende District is a WoC-owned business & our mission is to uplift voices of color, esp. women of color, & we do not separate Alexie’s work from his actions. #MeToo

— Duende District (@duendedistrict) February 24, 2018

Sherman Alexie as a Public Speaker Advocating for Indigenous Women

Dremousis told ICT that she was also dismayed by the fact the Alexie often went on speaking engagements and after speaking about Native Women’s issues, would target the women.

“Sherman and I had more than one discussion about native women facing incredible obstacles, and all the while he was harassing and threatening native women. When he did press last year for You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, at every stop he said he wrote the book to honor his mom and honor indigenous women. It turns out he was harming indigenous women the whole time.”

“There are conversations we had where he was looking me in the eye about the incredible harms done to Native women and he was lying through his teeth. He fooled me.This is a man who spends his career on the road. If he is that reckless in Seattle—and now I know several dozen women outside of Seattle—there is no reason to think he was less reckless on the road.”

Dremousis said Alexie always asked for Indigenous attendees in the audience to stand to be recognized. “At every college he asked the native students to stand up for round of applause.”

In a National NPR interview regarding his latest book You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, Alexie said, “You know, indigenous women in Canada and United States are the single most vulnerable people in terms of domestic violence, in terms of assault, in terms of murder. And my mother was not spared from feeling that powerless against the world – not only against whiteness and colonialism, but against some of the villains inside our own tribe.”

Blaming Actions Based on Mental State

Dremousis says that though Alexie suffered from assault in his own life. It is not a reason for taking the actions he did.

“Sherman has discussed publicly about his rape when he was eight or 10 years old, a few years later he was sexually assaulted by an older teen who later raped and murdered and set fire to the bodies of two women. I thought he was acting out, he has bipolar disorder OCD and PTSD he’s very public about all of that. I told him, ‘you are in therapy, but you are not getting the help you need.’”

Dremousis says there is no excuse. “I have a woman author friend who wants to remain nameless that said, ‘I am a rape survivor, but the sum total of other people I have harassed is zero.’”

What Happens Now

As of yet, there have not been any women who have come forward to Indian Country Today publicly, but Dremousis says this is only temporary. She said there are a few women who are currently speaking with other news outlets that have already agreed to go public.

Dremousis informed Indian Country Today via phone that National Public Radio has the largest reach in the country and she sent several victims of Alexie to NPR who have agreed to come out against Alexie publicly.

Several journalists have confirmed NPR will be the first outlet to give reports first-hand from the victims of Alexie.

She also surmises that Little Brown Publishing would most likely not publish a sequel to Alexie’s award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. She also doesn’t think there will be a movie based on the book which is now in pre-production.

“Part-time diary sold 2.5 million copies, but how are you going to support the next book? I question how Little Brown could stand by him in a sequel. How do you market a YA author who has now been accused of sexual harassment? He is tainted from here on out. There is no way in hell colleges are going to hire him to speak.”

“The film version with Hugh Jackman and Fox Searchlight? As one of my friends in Los Angeles put it, ‘Kevin Spacey is over and he won two Oscars.’ They won’t let Sherman direct anything,” says Dremousis.

“He was being an absolute monster. This story has to come out.”


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

The post Sherman Alexie Called Out For Sexual Misconduct For Over A Twenty-Year Period appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Community And Alaska Native Leaders Travel To Juneau, Call For Better Salmon Habitat Protection

Community leaders from around the state of Alaska visited with legislators last week urging them to pass House Bill 199, “The Wild Salmon Legacy Act.”

The bill would update Alaska’s law governing the development of salmon habitats and would also encourage responsible salmon habitat development. Earlier that week, a separate group of community leaders provided testimony against Pebble Mine in a legislative hearing, citing the harmful impacts the mine would have on wild salmon.

The bill was introduced by Fisheries Committee Chair Rep. Louise Stutes (R – Kodiak) at the request of the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

The conversations with legislators highlighted an issue that has become one of the top priorities for Alaskans during this year’s legislative session.

“Wild salmon are everything to me, to my family and to my community,” said Thomas Tilden, First Chief of the Curyung Tribal Council.- in a press release. “We are not saying no development, what we want is development done responsibly. We are asking for an update to a 60-year-old law that has not been adjusted since statehood.”

Community leaders traveling to Juneau in favor of House Bill 199 included Tom Tilden from Nunamta Aulukestai in Dillingham; Tim and Mary Wonhola, New Stuyahok Elders; Mike Friccero, a Kodiak and Bristol Bay commercial fisherman; former State Senate President and backcountry guide Rick Halford from Chugiak and Aleknagik; and Jasmin Ieremia, a Petersburg teen advocate who commercial fishes with her family and other community leaders from Talkeetna, Anchorage, Sitka and Homer.

Tens of thousands of Alaskans from across the state have voiced support for improving salmon habitat protections, an issue that unifies all users – from urban anglers to rural subsistence communities to commercial fishermen.

About Stand for Salmon

Stand for Salmon is a diverse group of Alaska-based individuals, businesses, and organizations united in taking immediate steps to ensure that Alaska remains the nation’s salmon state for generations to come. Learn more at

The post Community And Alaska Native Leaders Travel To Juneau, Call For Better Salmon Habitat Protection appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

It’s Official: Indian Country Today Is Back in Business

Indian Country Today has new leadership and will be fully back in business soon. At the beginning of this month, the ownership of the digital platform was transferred from the Oneida Indian Nation in New York to the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C.  Indian Country Today has been on a hiatus since September.

Heading up the Indian Country Today editorial team is Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) as Indian Country Today Editor and Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) as Associate Editor. The digital publication will continue on “publishing lightly” until this spring when there will be a build up of its operation, a shift to a new web platform, and an increased staff.

Mark Trahant, 60, brings a wealth of experience to Indian Country Today as a well-known publisher of Trahant Reports, and is a multi award-winning Journalist and is a faculty member at the University of North Dakota.

Mark Trahant, 60, brings a wealth of experience to Indian Country Today as a well-known publisher of Trahant Reports, and is a multi award-winning Journalist and a faculty member at the University of North Dakota. He will join the staff full-time at the conclusion of the spring semester.

As the former editor of the editorial page for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Trahant chaired the daily editorial board, directed a staff of writers, editors and a cartoonist.

He has also worked at The Seattle Times, Arizona Republic, The Salt Lake Tribune, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, the Navajo Times, Navajo Nation Today and the Sho-Ban News. Trahant is also former president of the Native American Journalists Association.

He has been a jury finalist for the Pulitzer Prize as well as a judge for the Pulitzers. This fall, Trahant was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“We are excited to have Mark Trahant on board to help us lead this next chapter for Indian Country Today,” stated NCAI President Jefferson Keel said in a news release. “Mark is respected in and out of Indian Country for his professionalism and journalistic skills.”

NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Pata said: “We are eager to add to this important platform for Indian Country. We will work to make sure that this next chapter of Indian Country Today is both sustainable and useful while maintaining the primary goal of dedicated service others have forged before us.”

Trahant said, “Schilling has been doing a remarkable job of keeping Indian Country Today vital during the transition. This is important and will make it that much easier to build the next journalistic platform.”

As Associate Editor, Vincent Schilling, 50 brings his 10 years of experience with Indian Country Today as a former Arts and Entertainment, Sports and Powwow’s Editor as well as many years experience as a contributor, photographer and membership in the White House Press Pool.

As associate editor, Vincent Schilling, 50, brings his 10 years of experience with Indian Country Today as a former Arts and Entertainment, Sports and Powwow’s Editor as well as many years experience as a contributor, photographer and as part of the White House Press Pool.

Schilling is also a former contributor to such publications as MSNBC, NBC, Arthritis Today, Woman’s World, Winds of Change, The Tribal College Journal, Children’s Digest, and The Virginian-Pilot, Inside Business and Tidewater Parent in Virginia, an author of four books promoting role models in Indian Country and a U.S Army veteran that served as a Lieutenant in Field Artillery.  

He shared his excitement with the rebooting of what he has long called Indian Country Today, “a much needed voice for Indian country.”

“A lot of readers out there noticed that I was still contributing to the site with breaking news and I want to sincerely thank them for their continued words of support over the past few months.”

“I also want to say thank you to the NCAI for their great work behind the scenes and for making an excellent choice with Mark Trahant as editor. He brings a world of knowledge to Indian Country Today and to be part of such a team as this in incredibly exciting,” said Schilling.

Indian Country Today plans to share its content with tribal newspapers, radio stations, and websites, at no cost with proper credit attribution.

Please also read ICT Editor Mark Trahant’s latest introductory piece and welcoming back to Indian Country Today.

A Letter From The Editor, Mark Trahant: Indian Country Today Enters a New Stage, is Back in Business and We Are Ready to Serve.’

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter

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

Follow Indian Country Today on Twitter

The post It’s Official: Indian Country Today Is Back in Business appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

A Letter From The Editor: Mark Trahant – Indian Country Today Enters a New Stage

Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) is editor of Indian Country Today.

Many years ago Richard LaCourse and I would sit around and toss ideas about what the perfect Indigenous newspaper would look like. LaCourse, at the time, was trying to create a new publication in Washington, DC. Imagination was his currency. What was possible?

LaCourse had a lot of experience answering that question. He had helped build the American Indian Press Association. He had edited or written for several tribal newspapers, including his own, The Yakama Nation Review. He launched a one-person crusade to raise the standards of Native American journalism.

I even remember the first time I heard him do that. It was on Feb. 24, 1977, at a workshop in Spokane. A workshop speaker was telling tribal editors that they worked for tribal councils and should slant the news accordingly. LaCourse stood up. Angry. Shaking his finger. “Are you aware of the 1968 law that guarantees freedom of the press in Indian Country? Indian newspapers should be professional, straight reporting operations, and your assumptions about cheerleaders for a point of view has nothing do do with the field of journalism. Why are you making this presumption?”

I am thinking of Richard LaCourse as we begin Indian Country Today’s third chapter. The goal is to build on the legacy of LaCourse—as well as from the first two chapters of Indian Country Today. The publication was founded by Tim Giago in South Dakota in 1991 and was followed by the ownership of the Oneida Nation of New York.

It’s hard to think of a better word than legacy, actually. The word is from the 14th century Latin legatus, an ambassador, envoy, a deputy sent with a commission. A century later the word had shifted and become associated with property, a gift. Both definitions fit. The gift is all of the work done before. The commission is the tasks ahead.

Indian Country Today is owned by the National Congress of American Indians—but we will act independently. We are creating a framework to ensure that. But our primary task is the same as LaCourse’s vision: Professional, straight reporting that tells stories about Indigenous people and our nations.

I’d like to thank the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) for engaging in this experiment. It would have been easy to say, “well, “no.” Especially when the challenges of independence are factored into that equation. The NCAI has a long history of working with the Native press (even while our missions are different.) One of the great journalists of her generation, Marie Potts, a Maidu, and editor of California’s Smoke Signals best writing in Washington while on working on a fellowship with NCAI during the late 1960s.

The best way I know how to demonstrate our independence is to produce solid, thoughtful journalism. Every day. So there is a lot of hard work ahead. (And we will need some time to make this so.)

But Indian Country Today is back in business and we are ready to serve.

Our goal is to hire a team in Washington, create (and fund) reporting fellowships around the country, and build capacity for freelance contributors. We want to be partners, not competitors, with tribal newspapers, public media, and web publishers.

I have been teaching journalism for the past seven years and I am always telling students that this is a time of great opportunity. The digital world means that we can reach our audiences instantly. We can communicate ideas. We can explain a complicated process. We can expose wrongdoing. Or write a story of pop culture that makes us smile.

We can invent a new kind of news organizations, one built on the currency of imagination.

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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