Beaded Vans Slip-ons by Standing Rock Sioux Artist Charlene Holy Bear featured in VOGUE

Standing Rock Sioux Artist Charlene Holy Bear has found herself thrust into the national spotlight. Her beautifully beaded Vans slip-on tennis shoes are now being featured in VOGUE magazine.

In the article Holy Bear told VOGUE that she made the beaded Vans tennis shoes four years ago as a last-minute consideration when going to the Gathering of Nation’s Powwow in Albuquerque.

The beaded Vans tennis shoes were an immediate hit and went viral as the readers shared the article.

Artist Charlene Holy Bear, a member of the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Tribe, has become a viral fashion sensation after creating traditional powwow wear for her son out of a pair of Vans.

— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) February 6, 2018

Holy Bear told VOGUE she hadn’t had any time that year to prepare regalia for her family but wanted her 4-year-old son Justus to look cool wearing the slip-ons. “He had a new pair of slip-on Vans and I suddenly had an idea, looking at the checkerboard design,” said Holy Bear.

The process took Holy Bear three days. As a result of the exposure at the powwow, Holy Bear now has a long line of customers wanting their own pair.

“Those Vans really reminded me of traditional moccasins… I braided my son’s hair, put on those shoes and he was the coolest little guy at the powwow. People were stopping us to take photos, he made such a splash.”

And another pair is completed and heading out today…! Similar to another pair finished last month. My hands and back are protesting but I beaded them in record time!

A post shared by c.holybear (@c.holybear) on Jan 9, 2018 at 12:56pm PST

The photos of Holy Bear’s shoes made their way to social media. Amanda Miller, the communications director at PayPal contacted Holy Bear for a pair of the beaded Vans, even the Vans tennis shoe company sent the artist an entire pallet of sneakers to work on.

Holy Bear has been an artist her entire life, she crafted traditional dolls at five-years-old and won a second place ribbon at Santa Fe Indian Market. She studied fine art in college at the University of New Mexico.

You can check out Charlene Holy Bear’s website (there are also beautiful beaded earrings and jewelry in addition to the beaded Vans) here –


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

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Native Trailblazers Announces 2017 Native Trailblazers Music Awards Winners: Country Star Teagan Littlechief Wins #1

Native country music artist Teagan Littlechief has just been announced as the overall top indie artist for the 2017 season’s Native Trailblazers Music Awards. The announcement was made on the Native Trailblazers Radio Show on Friday February 3rd.

The announcement of several Native indie music award winners were made on the Native Trailblazers radio program that airs each Friday at 8pm est. Winners included Brendt Diabo, Shawnee Talbot, Simon Moya-Smith, Rob Saw, Witk0 and more. The submissions were played back in 2017 for a Native indie music showcase and the names of the musicians were posted on the Native Trailblazers website where listeners could vote.

The number one indie artist, Teagan Littlechief, was recognized Friday and will receive PR support and a show segment on Native Trailblazers.

Native Trailblazers Radio Announces:
2017 Native Trailblazers Music Award Winners – Teagan Littlechief Wins #1

List of winners here:

Make sure to check out the @NativeTrailblaz radio show every Friday at 8pm est!

— Native Trailblazers (@Nativetrailblaz) February 3, 2018

The additionally-named top five indie artists were Indian City, Twin Flames, Brendt Thomas Diabo, Rob Saw (Both Diabo and Saw tied for third,) Simon Moya-Smith and Shawnee Talbot.

For the past eight years, the Native Trailblazers radio program—an online radio show that has featured Native American topics and is hosted by Delores Schilling, Vincent Schilling and occasional co-host Michael Bucher—has had an annual series of shows highlighting today’s independent Native artists from every genre to include folk, hip-hop, country and electronic, traditional and more.

In addition to the Native Indie artists, the Native Trailblazers radio show has also featured a long list of Indian country notables to include Smoke Signals director Chris Eyre, Indian country icon Buffy Sainte-Marie, Mr. Las Vegas Wayne Newton, political leaders in the U.S. and Canada, tribal leaders, tribal elders and much more.

Since first airing in November 2009, Native Trailblazers has entertained hundreds of thousands of listeners. The show was also nominated in 2011 and 2013 for an Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards, now called the Indigenous Music Awards or IMA’s.

Native Trailblazers is on BlogTalkRadio, an online radio site that receives millions of visitors daily. For more information about the Native Trailblazers radio show which airs Fridays at 8 pm EST, visit the website at or listen Fridays at

The show’s 437 episodes are also available anytime on the BlogTalkRadio site in archives or as a free downloadable podcast on iTunes.

Here is the list of the 2017 Season Native Trailblazers Music Awards winners:

Native Trailblazers Music Awards TOP ARTIST

Teagan Littlechief (Country) –

Top 5 Native Trailblazers Music Awards Winners

Indian City – (Contemporary Rock) –

Twin Flames (Contemporary Rock) –

(Tied for third place)

Brendt Thomas Diabo – (Contemporary Rock) –

Rob Saw (Drum / Native Americana) –

Simon Moya-Smith (Alternative Rock) – /

Shawnee Talbot (Alternative, Electronic) –

Native Trailblazers Music Awards Crowd Favorite

Witk0 (Hip Hop) –

Native Trailblazers Music Awards Artist To Watch

Roger Cultee (Contemporary Rock) –


You can follow the show and hosts on Twitter:

Delores Schilling –
Vincent Schilling
Michael Bucher –
Native Trailblazers Radio Show

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A Conversation with Jennifer Podemski: ACTRA Toronto’s 2018 Award of Excellence Recipient

Actor, Director and Producer Jennifer Podemski, known for such award-winning feature productions as Empire of Dirt (2013) and Dance Me Outside (1994) and has had roles on such hit series as Moccasin Flats (2003), Cardinal (2018), Blackstone (2014-2015) and a featured recurring role as Ms. Chantel Sauvé in Degrassi: The Next Generation (2003–2010,) is being honored this month with the highly coveted ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence for 2018.

Jennifer Podemski is Israeli (her father was born in Kfar Saba) and her mother is Saulteaux (Bear/Thunderbird Clan, from Muscowpetung First Nation in Saskatchewan.) As a woman who embraces her culture, she is being honored by ACTRA, the largest organization of cultural workers in Canada.

As described on their website, ACTRA Toronto (the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), is the largest branch of ACTRA, the union representing performers in the film, radio, television and new media industries. ACTRA Toronto’s jurisdiction includes all of Ontario and represents over 15,000 of ACTRA’s 22,000 members.

The 16th Annual ACTRA awards will take place Saturday, February 24th in Toronto at The Carlu venue. According to the ACTRA awards site, ‘The annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto recognizes outstanding performances by ACTRA Toronto members and celebrate accomplishment and excellence in our industry.’

In a conversation with Podemski, the actress and producer told Indian Country Today how it felt to be honored, a bit about pursuing her dream of working in the film industry, and what the career trajectory of a dancer, producer and actor is all about.

Last week I flexed the #director muscle.#setlife?

A post shared by Jennifer Podemski (@jenniferpodemski) on Nov 15, 2017 at 2:13pm PST

Ok, admittedly an introductory standard question, but certainly relevant. How does it feel to be honored by ACTRA?

It really is such an honor and I have to say I was kind of shocked. As I have said in other interviews as well, sometimes as an artist we become so immersed and so deep into our work, we don’t often think of recognition and it catches you off-guard. This award is coming at a great time as I have been feeling sometimes haggard with my work.

This is a message from the universe to keep going. Yes, it is coming at a good time.

You have advanced in your career so much since The Diviners (a TV movie in 1993) and Big Soul Productions. In terms of acting and then directing, what were your fondest memories in each of these two professions?

Just to clear up the trajectory, I began as a performer, mostly as a dancer, and I went to the high school of performing arts in Toronto for dance. That’s where I got the so-called acting bug.

I started off as extra and I would work weekends beginning in grade 9. I loved performing until it started to become all about auditioning—when I was in grade 11—then it slowly became clear to me that I was put in a box—the “native” box—and that’s where I would stay.

It worked for me to some degree. I got a lot of great work, The Diviners, Dance Me Outside, The Rez etc etc. But it was the in between of those projects where I was really struggling to be seen.

Getting into producing was partly out of frustration due to the lack of work for native actors and storytellers and part out of the desire to create more of an industry of indigenous people behind the scenes.

It bothered me that over the first 10 years of my acting career I rarely, if ever, saw any native people working on the crew, or as producers and directors. It bugged me because all the work I was doing was native stuff. So I decided to become a producer. I was 25 when I opened Big Soul Productions with Laura Milliken.

We dedicated every waking hour to building a production company rooted in authentic indigenous stories and perspectives while training a new generation of talent both behind the scenes and in front of the camera.

So in short, my two careers are not actually separate. They are one. I’m a storyteller and I will take whatever position has to be taken to honor the story and get it made.

Among the impressive body of work you have created in your career, one stand out is Degrassi TNG, which still airs all over the world, Why do you think such a show that discusses real-life issues of our youth stays so relevant?

I think Degrassi: The Next Generation was a success because it told real stories. From the beginning, even when I was a kid watching the original, it was the only place to watch stories that teens could relate to. I was so happy to be a part of that series for so long. I was a super supporting role but it was a long gig and I loved it. Especially the stories I got to be a part of, playing the guidance counselor I got to be a part of some pretty brave storytelling.

Can you discuss any other project in your past that resonates with you or that you feel passionate about?

As an actor I’ve done some really amazing work. I feel so grateful for some of the opportunities that came my way and allowed me to explore parts of myself that I had never been able to expose on TV or film.

For example, the movie Bogus (although my entire part was cut out) gave me the opportunity to work with the genius behind Cirque du Soleil, Franco Dragone. He picked 11 of 1,500 us out of a two day audition of dance, singing, clowning and movement. For two weeks we learned how to clown by the clown-master. That was one of my most favorite things ever.

Then there was the Indigenous-made series called Moose TV, where I got to do slapstick comedy and play many different characters. I feel I’ve been very, very lucky with the work I’ve done and the roles I’ve had.

As a producer I feel the same. But definitely Moccasin Flats has to be the most important and incredible experience I’ve had. Although there were many projects after that, including Empire of Dirt, there was something about the process of making that series, that was one-of-a-kind experience that I will forever be grateful for.

When we did the short film of Moccasin Flats and got into Sundance, and brought all the kids from the movie, I just had the most incredible time. I could go on and on.

You had massive success with the matriarchal cinematic story Empire of Dirt—which received the 2014 ACTRA Award in Toronto—and you were the recipient of the 2016 Nell Shipman Award, which honors a female producer. What does your work and accomplishments say about the power of sacred Indigenous women?

I don’t know if I have an answer to that question. Maybe that we, Indigenous women, have the incredible ability to transform and overcome, we have immediate reference of women who were rendered voiceless and therefore feel the power and sometimes the desperation to do something, say something, BE something.

If for no other reason than to fill the void left when the women who came before us were silenced.

What are you doing these days?

I’ve spent the past couple of years on a TV series that I created with Kris Nahrgang and produced and directed called Future History. It will air on APTN sometime in 2018.

I directed Future History. It is a series committed to exploring the diversity of perspectives and knowledge within the Indigenous community and sharing it with our viewers, in an effort to create a deeper understanding about our shared history while looking forward to a brighter future, anchored by the hashtag we are using: #IndigenousKnowledge.

Where is Jennifer Podemski headed in the film industry?

I’m really not sure, but if someone has the answer please let me know.


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

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Tribal Leadership Unified on Land Recovery, A Moral Obligation of the United States

Letter to the Editor: From NCAI President Jefferson Keel and NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens

Tribal Leadership Unified on Land Recovery, A Moral Obligation of the United States

January 30, 2018

The Department of the Interior has embarked upon changes to Federal Indian policy that could negatively impact our tribal nations for generations to come.

Interior’s draft regulations on Tribal Land recovery would increase considerably the barriers standing in the way of tribal sovereignty, and give an increased role to state and local governments in deciding whether tribes are eligible to claim and restore lands that have been stolen from us.

We strongly urge tribal leaders to attend consultation sessions in your area to demonstrate Indian country’s unified resolve to oppose these regulations and equitably restore the land base of every tribal nation.

(Full list of consultation sessions are also listed below)

Interior’s draft regulations are built on a mistaken assumption that tribes generally have adequate reservation land bases. Tribal nations must present the facts, and share their stories and histories at these consultation sessions.

Many tribes have only scattered parcels; many have extremely small or diminished reservations or are entirely landless; many are geographically land-locked by surrounding federal lands, or mountains, or bodies of water; and many have important cultural resources or population service areas that are located off-reservation. Most have a reservation insufficient as a viable land base for their people.

Creating a heavy presumption against taking land into trust would have a devastating impact on tribal nations and was clearly not the intent of Congress in the Indian Reorganization Act.

The new regulations are contrary to every goal of the Trump Administration to decrease federal regulatory burdens. Moreover, they would inject gaming matters into the broader land-into-trust process, which is prohibited by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. This is wrong, and we need to make our voices heard.

Gaming only occurs on trust lands acquired after 1988 and under very limited statutory conditions – these limited conditions should not be driving the tribal land recovery process which is critical to restoring our tribal nations.

It is particularly troubling that this is taking place while the Senate has yet to confirm an Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. The Assistant Secretary is primarily responsible for carrying out the Department’s trust responsibility to tribal nations and helping to set this Administration’s policy agenda for Indian Affairs.

We cannot have confidence in policies developed while key political appointees remain unconfirmed.

Land acquisition is the most important power that the Secretary of the Interior has to assist tribal nations and peoples. Congress intended to redress the effects of land loss and its devastating impacts on our communities, economies, cultures, and tribal government authority.

NCAI, NIGA, and all tribes will work together to protect the legal responsibility and the fundamental moral obligation of the United States to restore tribal lands.

For additional information, please see the NCAI’s webinar on Fee-To-Trust Consultations video to learn how the land into trust process is carried out.

Full list of consultation sessions Tribal Consultation Session on Fee-to-Trust Regulations

02/20/18 – 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM local time

Heard Museum 2301 N. Central Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85004 Tribal Consultation on the Native American Children’s Safety Act (NACSA)

02/21/18 – 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM local time

National Indian Training Center 1011 Indian School Road, NW Albuquerque, NM Tribal Consultation Session on Fee-to-Trust Regulations

02/22/18 – 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM local time

Miccsukee Resort & Casino 500 S.W. 177th Avenue Miami, FL 33194 Tribal Consultation on the Native American Children’s Safety Act (NACSA)

02/27/18 – 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM local time

Mystic Lake Casino Hotel 2400 Mystic Lake Boulevard Prior Lake, MN 55372 Tribal Consultation on the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act

02/27/18 – 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM local time

Mystic Lake Casino Hotel 2400 Mystic Lake Boulevard Prior Lake, MN 55372 Tribal Consultation on the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act

03/1/18 – 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM local time

TBD Portland, OR Tribal Consultation on the Native American Children’s Safety Act (NACSA)

03/6/18 – 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM local time

Conference Call Number: 877-716-4291 Passcode: 6919058 Eastern Time, Tribal Consultation on the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act

03/8/18 – 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM local time

Conference Call Number: 888-324-7176 Passcode: 3730875 Tribal Interior Budget Council, March 20-22, 2018

03/20/18 – 9:00 AM to 03/22/18 – 5:00 PM local time

Washington Plaza Hotel 10 Thomas Circle, NW Washington, DC 20005

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Native Feature Film: Neither Wolf Nor Dog Celebrates Record Breaking Year for 2017

With a theatrical run of 49 weeks, Steven Lewis Simpson’s adaptation of the bestselling novel, Neither Wolf Nor Dog, which opened in January 2017, is celebrating the longest theatrical run of any movie released in 2017.

The main boasting point for Neither Wolf Nor Dog is that the film is an independent audience-financed and self-distributed release. The film was launched in small towns and went on to outperform Hollywood blockbusters in numerous multiplexes.

According to the film’s producer and director, Simpson, ‘No other filmmaker distributed movie has performed anywhere near as well in 2017.”

Hugh Wronski, Senior Publicist for Lagoon theaters in Minneapolis, MN said, “The Lagoon’s opening weekend of Neither Wolf Nor Dog was the best weekend gross in the entire country. It’s nice to see that beautifully told stories can still find an audience.”

In addition to the outpouring of support for the film in theaters, the Rotten Tomatoes movie site scored the film 4.7 out of 5 stars, which Simpson says is “a higher number than any Hollywood blockbuster in 2017.”

The filmmakers of Neither Wolf Nor Dog  also cited a higher proportion of Native-owned cinemas playing the film than any film before. “Around 10% of theaters were owned by tribes, or tribal members, including the Ak-Chin in Maricopa,” said Simpson.

“Hollywood has a simplistic view of the U.S. audience,” said Simpson. “I flipped the usual model of major cities first to first land the film in the heart of its audience. I knew we could be a big fish in a small pond rather than a minnow in an ocean. Thanks to a remarkable groundswell of audience support, we’re no longer perceived as a minnow.”

Simpson also says Neither Wolf Nor Dog has been a big hit with schools, particularly the Bureau of Indian Education schools that have taken up to 200-300 pupils to see the film in a day.

Neither Wolf Nor Dog is a film based on the best-selling Native American novel by Kent Nerburn that takes audiences on a road trip through contemporary and historical Lakota life and culture. The film is worth noting for its simplicity and attention paid to Native culture. The film had 18 shooting days on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, a crew of 2 and a 95-year-old lead Native American actor, Dave Bald Eagle.

Courtesy InYo Entertainment

Native American actor, Dave Bald Eagle sizes up Kent Nerburn in the film ‘Neither Wolf Nor Dog.’

Bald Eagle, died at the age of 97 in 2016. For a time, his obituary was the most-read story in the world on the BBC. NPR’s All Things Considered team debated whether Bald Eagle was “the world’s most interesting man.”

Schools and other groups that would be interested in setting up a showing of the film can email Those waiting for the DVD release can join the mailing list for information

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And Now There Are 573! Six VA Tribes Get Federal Recognition as President Signs Bill

After a near two-decade long fight for federal recognition through legislation, President Donald Trump has signed legislation, known as the Thomasina Jordan act, to grant federal recognition of six Virginia Indian tribes.

The last tribe to receive recognition was also a Virginia tribe, the Pamunkey. With the passing of this final legislation on Monday, the number of federally recognized tribes in the Commonwealth of Virginia now stands at seven. The amount of federally recognized tribes now stands at 573.

In February of 2017, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, introduced H.R. 984, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017. The House of Representatives passed the bill by a voice vote in May, and the Senate approved it with unanimous consent on Jan. 11 with the strong support of Senators’ Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both former Virginia governors.

After the president signed the legislation on Monday, Rep. Rob Wittman announced the results on Monday evening immediately after giving tribal leaders of the six tribes — the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Nansemond and Monacan — the good news.

Wayne Adkins, first assistant chief for the Chickahominy, told the Richmond Times, “It’s definitely a historic day for the tribe and for the commonwealth … We’re really looking forward to planning the future of our tribe.”

Courtesy Office of Senator Mark Warner

Senator Tim Kaine (left) Chief Stephen Adkins (Chickahominy), Chief Lee Lockamy (Nansemond) and Senator Mark Warner (far right) share a moment of congratulations.

In a prepared statement, Rep. Wittman said, “Today, we celebrate a decade of hard work. This is an issue of respect … Federal recognition acknowledges and protects the historical and cultural identities of these tribes.”

Senator’s Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement: “Today closes a chapter on a decades-long pursuit of justice for Virginia’s tribes. Virginia’s tribes have loved and served this nation, and today our country is finally honoring them with the recognition they deserve.”

In addition to the statements from Rep. Wittman and Sens. Warner and Kaine, the National Congress of American Indians also issued a statement of congratulations to the six tribes.

“The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) congratulates the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond tribal nations on the recent passage of H.R. 984, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017.”

“This is an important moment in U.S. history,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel. “As the U.S. government continues to correct the mistakes of the past, we look forward to seeing the federal government honor its trust obligations to these six tribal nations in Virginia and all tribal nations.”

After many years of hard work by these six tribal nations in Virginia, there are now 573 federally recognized tribes recognized by the U.S. government. This status provides for a government-to-government relationship between the six nations and the U.S. Government, and endows them with greater ability to create and enforce their own laws and manage their lands and resources.

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What We Learn About Indian Country in the UK, from Journalism Student, Darcy Brown

In my daily workings as an editor and journalist at Indian Country Today, I receive a fair share of inquiries from people all over the world who are curious, or have insights to share about Indian country. One such inquiry came from a young journalism student in Northern England by the name of Darcy Brown.

She asked—as young student of journalism—if she might be permitted to share her experiences as a student in regards to Native Americans.

I was admittedly curious as to what students from other countries outside of Turtle Island might be taught, so I agreed to her inquiry. I found Miss Brown’s writings to be insightful and thought-provoking and I appreciated the insight she offered. Thanks to her letter, I was able to see a bit of perspective into her world as a young student in the United Kingdom.

Here are her words to Indian country, I hope readers of ICT might also gain some insight to her world.

I’d also like to say thank you to Miss Brown for taking the time to share her respectful and heartfelt words.

Vincent Schilling
Editor / Journalist
Indian Country Today


My name is Darcy Lily Rachel Brown, I’m 17. I’m from South Yorkshire in Northern England, where I study journalism and creative media in the city of Sheffield. In my attempt to learn a bit about Native culture, I’ve even been learning a little bit of the Lakota language.

When I was a little girl, I remember clearly during a daily walk to my primary [elementary] school, my grandmother mentioning to me about the Indigenous peoples in the United States. It was the first time my awareness was brought to the American Indian.

“It wasn’t just the cowboys who lived in the United States,” said my grandmother. “The American Indians were pushed off their lands by the cowboys, the settlers.”

My then eight-year-old mind was rather puzzled. ‘Pretty much every child across the world must know all about the gloriously-fictionalized cowboy,’ I thought. “But why had I not ever heard about these ‘Indians’?”

I now realize I surely heard ‘cowboys and Indians’ at intermittent times, though I simply had no picture in my mind of the latter. I could have inquired about Indians, yes. But for whatever reason, I didn’t ask.

Upon reminiscing about primary school with a close friend, she recalled a time when we had a dress-up day, the theme being cowboys and Indians.

Though I had no memory of this, she said none of the kids in our class came dressed as an ‘Indian.’ Of course, I’m very pleased that was the case, as I have since read many times about Native people angered by people using regalia as a costume inspiration.

I wonder whether as children, we were influenced to respect and revere the cowboys much more than the Indians. Maybe none of us wanted to be seen representing the people who had been portrayed by the media as people to be pitied, in a negative way.

From a kid’s perspective, none of us wanted to be seen representing the ‘weaker’ group portrayed by history.

So by now, I had a very general idea about what an American Indian was and looked like.

I had seen a couple of children’s Western films, such as Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, which meant I only associated Native Americans with the plains stereotype.

When I’d talk to relatives about the Old West (the only geographical area I associated with American Indians), they pretty much all referred to Natives as ‘Red Indians.’

This made me very confused about why that term was used and as I would later learn, my older relatives were not certain, either. ‘It was simply a generational thing,’ they told me. Everyone their age referred to Natives that way.

Fast forward seven years to the beginning of studies for my end-of-high-school exams. I was quite intrigued that part of one history course was The American West, c.1845-1890.

Courtesy Darcy Lily Rachel Brown

Text from the workbook of 7-year-old journalism student Darcy Lily Rachel Brown.

Delving into the past of my nation’s royal family, as well as daily life for the ‘peasants’ had been fascinating enough. However, it seemed well overdue that we were to study the past of another part of the world.

One topic of study was the ‘Plains Indian way of life,’ which focused largely on the Lakota.

We covered the significance of the conical structure and composition of the tipi according to a nomadic lifestyle, the way in which all parts of the bison were used for survival and how vastly different intertribal warfare was in comparison to the Europeans with all their ‘guns blazing’ – literally.

I was in awe of how the Lakota could make use of every single component of the bison’s anatomy to aid their survival in an area with ‘extreme weather and conditions’, we learned.

When it came to looking at how homesteaders tried to build a life on the plains, I remember finding it quite ironic that white folks would criticise Natives for ‘not living in proper structures’ –  when they were forced to build sod houses because there wasn’t really an alternative.

Our teacher certainly made the revision process fun, with a short, snappy quiz at the start of each lesson.

“What was the most significant shape to the Indians?”

“The circle!”

“How many buffalo hides were used to construct a tipi?”

“Between ten and twenty.”

“What was the most prestigious act a warrior could do in battle?”

“Counting coup.” (Counting coup refers to the winning of prestige against an enemy by the Plains Indians of North America.)

Being an animal lover, I admired the Lakota hugely for their symbiotic relationship with the bison.

As our teacher told us: “The bison were revered as a friend, father and a brother. So much that when the animal was hunted to close-extinction, the Lakota struggled immensely to cling to a way of life that revolved around the bison.”

My teacher brought history to life. The classroom was not bland like every single other one in this newly built school. With its wartime propaganda posters, postcards, timelines, maps, you could see something to do with a historical period in each direction.

Quotations from Red Cloud and Chief Seattle, even a huge photo canvas of Chief Sitting Bear, helped us visualise true Native American figures, instead of fictional stereotypes.

As a side note, she also gave her final year students the option to cover their work folders with faux leopard print. I loved that! This was a rare privilege for us, as exercise books were expected to be kept pristine.

Courtesy Darcy Lily Rachel Brown

A school textbook containing a ‘Tipi village of the Comanche tribe,’ belonging to 17-year-old journalism student Darcy Lily Rachel Brown.

I adored my teacher and the subject she instructed in. Not only did she teach the real story, she let us express ourselves, unlike my other instructors. Lessons were always varied. One day, we’d have aching wrists from all the ink flowing from our pens, another, we’d be set free with felt-tip pens to create spider diagrams.

I still have ‘Beryl the buffalo’ — as I named it—a drawing we made, then labelled with what each part was used to make: horns for drinking vessels, tongue for hair-brushes, sinews for thread, to name a few.

The only contradiction to my confidence in trusting what we were taught about Native history was that we were told to annotate a map of the Bering Strait with: “The Indians crossed the land bridge between 1400 and 1500 AD.”

Consequently, I decided to learn some things on my own.

Once I began to research Native history independently, I recalled the above with disbelief. We’d been taught that Native Americans were arriving on Turtle Island around and even after its alleged ‘discovery’ by the man Christopher Columbus?

I thought to myself: ‘How were Native Americans less new to America than bloody Columbus?’

Despite this incredible misinformation, I oftentimes wondered—perhaps correctly—whether myself and fellow students were becoming better informed about some of America’s original inhabitants than kids across the pond.

Our studies included the many groups of encroaching whites during the latter half of the 19th century and ended with the reservation system and the ways in which the culture of the plains people was intentionally destroyed.

I felt very heartbroken that people from my nation had been a large part in this destruction.

Quite haunting words from my teacher were: “Reservation life was very similar to concentration camp life, minus the gas chambers.”

A vast number of Brits don’t believe, I quote: ‘that Native Americans are still a thing.’

In other words, some think that today in North America, there are no longer any Native Americans in existence.

Though I must say, it’s a bloody disgrace that the number of Americans who are plagued with education-induced ignorance seems, from things I’ve read on social media, even higher.

I don’t know this for certain, though to me, it seems apparent that some Americans also do not recognise the resilience of the Native population.

Another issue is there is a lot of appropriation of Native culture here in the UK. Kids’ play tent tipis are not exclusive to stores in the US. People also think it’s acceptable to dress up as an Indian.

I remember on a recent trip to London how uncomfortable I felt upon seeing a woman at a hen [bachelorette] party dressed as a Native Plains woman. I almost pitied her. She had no idea how much she was misrepresenting real Native women.

It was upsetting because people should at least understand that clothes worn by another culture are not intended to be misinterpreted in this way for ‘fun.’

Regarding the average Brit’s knowledge of Native America today, it would be daft (a term we use for ‘silly’) to exclude the fact that overall, the extraordinary, just, rightful DAPL resistance certainly did allow my tiny, rainy land to gain an insight into continued struggles for Native people.

I felt a surge of hope when the BBC and other UK news organizations reported on the events at Standing Rock.

I wanted everyone in the UK to become aware as I had, for there to be progress in understanding that Native Americans are still here and are still the stewards of this planet as they always have been.

Even though some of my fellow students are still perhaps completely unaware of anything happening in Native America since 29th December, 1890 (Wounded Knee was the final event we covered in this study), I feel we were extremely lucky to have this opportunity to learn the truth behind America and its first inhabitants.

I thank you for reading.

Darcy Lily Rachel Brown
Instagram: darcy_lily28

The post What We Learn About Indian Country in the UK, from Journalism Student, Darcy Brown appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

NO MORE WAHOO: Cleveland Indians To Discontinue Chief Wahoo Logo in 2019

While Cleveland Indians’ fans may express a fondness for the cartoon caricature Chief Wahoo, many voices in Indian country have long fought against the stereotypical logo. On Monday, Major League Baseball (MLB) made an announcement that the Cleveland Indians will discontinue the use of the Chief Wahoo logo starting in 2019.

The decision was a mutual one between the MLB and the Indians franchise who have been in the spotlight the past several seasons due to their appearance in the MLB World Series’ games.

“Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a release. “Over the past year, we encouraged dialogue with the Indians organization about the club’s use of the Chief Wahoo logo. During our constructive conversations, [Indians owner] Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a long-standing attachment to the logo and its place in the history of the team.

We’ve announced changes to our uniform for 2019.

— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) January 29, 2018

“Nonetheless, the club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan’s acknowledgement that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course,” said Manfred.

Cleveland Indian Logos Since 1928

Since 1928 – A Pictorial History of the Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo Logos

Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan also issued a statement / response: “We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion,” said Dolan.”While we recognize many of our fans have a long-standing attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”

The MLB and the Cleveland Indians have made the decision to have Chief Wahoo removed from the on-field uniforms starting 2019, yet the logo will have a minor retail presence in order for the Indians to maintain the trademark. This is a legal maneuver to ensure another group cannot seize it and profit from the Chief Wahoo logo.

According to the MLB site, the Cleveland Indians may consider a new logo in the future, but will promote the capital letter C for now. There are no current plans to change the Indians’ team name.

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

April 8, 2002, file photo, fans hold up Chief Wahoo signs as they celebrate the Cleveland Indians’ win over the Minnesota Twins, in Cleveland, Ohio.

A strong force in Indian country, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) have already released a statement applauding the decision by the MLB and the Indians team owner.

“NCAI applauds today’s announcement by Major League Baseball that the league’s Cleveland franchise will retire the Chief Wahoo mascot and logo in 2019. NCAI has advocated for the eradication of offensive Native American-themed imagery from sports since 1968, and today’s announcement represents an important milestone for Indian Country in this effort.”

“NCAI has worked to educate Major League Baseball about this issue in recent years, sending several letters to the league highlighting the importance of removing this harmful mascot and logo, which resulted in a meeting with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred last year. Damaging imagery like the caricature of Chief Wahoo denigrates Native people and is harmful to their self-esteem, particularly for Native youth. Commissioner Manfred recognizes this fact, and thus kept his word, fulfilling his commitment to work with the team to retire the Chief Wahoo logo. NCAI commends Major League Baseball and Commissioner Manfred for choosing to stand on the right side of history.”

Vincent Schilling

Jefferson Keel NCAI President

“Today’s announcement marks an important turning point for Indian Country and the harmful legacy of Indian mascots,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel. “These mascots reduce all Native people into a single outdated stereotype that harms the way Native people, especially youth, view themselves. Today’s news is a big step in the right direction, but much work remains, and NCAI will press on with this struggle until every single one of these harmful mascots is gone from the sports landscape.”


The NCAI also asserted that the MLB is setting an example for how professional sports leagues can and should respect Native peoples.

“NCAI encourages all major professional sports leagues to follow the lead of Major League Baseball by retiring all offensive Native American-themed mascots, names, and imagery.”

“Over the past four decades, NCAI, hundreds of tribal nations, and their many partners have succeeding in eliminating more than two-thirds (roughly 2,000) of the Native-themed mascots from sports at all levels (nearly 1,000 remain today). NCAI is pleased to add the Chief Wahoo mascot and logo to that long list.”

For more information, please see NCAI’s Proud to Be Initiative to learn how you can join the movement to eliminate harmful Native-themed mascots from sports.


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

The post NO MORE WAHOO: Cleveland Indians To Discontinue Chief Wahoo Logo in 2019 appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Brigette Lacquette is 1st First Nations Woman on Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey Team

For the first time in Canadian Olympic history, a First Nations woman will be on the roster of Canada’s Olympic Hockey Team. Brigette Lacquette, 25, is a member of the Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan.

“To represent Canada being the first First Nation is such an honor to me,” said Brigette Lacquette, in a CBC news article by Brad Bellegarde. According to the article, Lacquette says watching Nunavut’s Jordin Tootoo play for Team Canada in the 2003 World Junior Championships was her inspiration.

A member of the Cote First Nation, Brigette Lacquette (@briglacquette) will play defence for Team Canada at the #PyeongChang2018 Winter Games.

— Twitter Moments Canada (@CanadaMoments) January 26, 2018

Though she will be playing defense for the Canadian women’s Olympic team in Pyeongchang, Lacquette has previously represented her country in the 2015 IIHF women’s world championships.

Lacquette started playing when she was five years old and grew up in the rural community of Mallard Manitoba. She says her father was her greatest motivator. “I spent a lot of time on the outdoor rink with my dad,” she said to the CBC.

Lacquette’s family history of the Cote First Nation has strong ties to the Saskatchewan’s First Nations sports world. Lacquette told the CBC, one of her great sports memories was playing in the Saskatchewan First Nations Winter Games with the Yorkton Tribal Council.

“My late grandpa was there watching. It was always nice to have him support me. He would always make it out. I know that weekend my parents couldn’t make it so my grandpa [did,]” Lacquette told the CBC.

“Just having him there and watching the games, and spending time with him that was one of my memories.”

Lacquette expressed excitement in a tweet after the announcement last month, “Words can’t describe this feeling… So humbled and honored to represent this amazing country.”

Words can’t describe this feeling… ?? So humbled and honored to represent this amazing country?? #PyeongChang2018 @HC_Women @TeamCanada

— Brigette Lacquette (@briglacquette) December 23, 2017

In addition to her time on the ice, Lacquette also serves as a role model for a kids. As an athlete with Classroom Champions,  Lacquette participates in the charitable organization’s year-long program connecting kids in Canada and athletes who share an Indigenous heritage.

Lacquette told the Calgary Herald, “I want to be the role model for them, just be the best player, the best person I can possibly be.”

What a great day! My @ClassroomChamps from Piitoayis Family School honoured us with a traditional drum song after practice #TheyAreRockstars

— Brigette Lacquette (@briglacquette) January 18, 2018

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

The post Brigette Lacquette is 1st First Nations Woman on Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey Team appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

An Extensive Conversation with ‘Hostiles’ Movie Director: Scott Cooper

Known for writing and directing such feature films as Crazy Heart (2009), Out of the Furnace (2013), Black Mass (2015) and most recently Hostiles (2017), Scott Cooper is an American director making a serious name for himself.

In Scott Cooper’s latest film Hostiles, starring the likes of Wes Studi, Christian Bale, Adam Beach and others, he addresses the American frontier and a budding Industrial Revolution that existed in 1892. Though the film is not directly a ‘Native American’ film, Cooper says the authenticity of Native representation and the accompanying accurate story was critical.

Courtesy Le Grisbi Productions - Waypoint Entertainment

An intense moment between Captain Joseph J. Blocker portrayed by Christian Bale and Chief Yellowhawk portrayed by Wes Studi in Scott Cooper’s film, Hostiles.

In an interview with Indian Country Today via telephone, Scott Cooper discussed why he decided to do a Western film in a world where cultural awareness is increasing, why he chose the name ‘Hostiles’ and why he says, “I have never learned more on any film that I have on this.”

Thanks so much for speaking with Indian Country Today. Have you read any reviews of your film Hostiles?

I generally try not to look at reviews. People treat films like blood-sport, which they don’t quite do with book novels or music. Sometimes people are in search of a different film then you are making, and they let you know it.

Although this film has been heartily embraced by some, it hasn’t been so much by others. My work tends to be a bit divisive.

I wrote a positive review in Indian Country Today.

This is much more important to me by the way, as opposed to a review written by someone who is not Native American and what their thoughts are on the film.

See related story: Hostiles Movie Review: A Profound Respect For Native Culture, A Gut Punch of Reality

Courtesy Waypoint Entertainment

Hostiles stars Rosamund Pike, Christian Bale and Wes Studi.

I also wrote that your film was a film ‘with respect for native culture,’ yet it was a ‘gut punch of reality.’

There is a lot of truth to that. How have the readers of Indian Country Today taken to that?

A lot of folks in Indian country have stated on social media they were waiting for a review from a Native perspective on whether or not they would watch the film. The response from the Native community has been overwhelmingly positive.

That is so great to hear.

Vincent Schilling

Hostiles is a movie about the world of American soldiers, white settlers, American Indians and the world that surrounded them all in 1892. Among the most notable Native actors in the film is Wes Studi, who portrays the Cheyenne Chief Yellowhawk.

I believe this to be one of Wes Studi’s best performances.

I am so happy to hear that. That means a lot to me. This is what Robert Duvall told me as well. Duvall is a long-time admirer of Wes Studi’s work.

The film lives up to its name Hostiles and wastes no time in getting into the action. What motivated you to complete such a film?

It was important for me to explore and remind people of a dark and unforgivable past and the genocide of Native American peoples. This historical trauma is continuing today.

I just showed the film to the Northern Cheyenne people last week in Montana. I spent the day at the Lame Deer reservation. To see and hear the stories of historical trauma continuing today is heartbreaking. I will never be able to shake the images and the feeling I had of being in the company of the Cheyenne. I tried to understood as much as I can as a white man, what they are dealing with on a daily basis.

In this film, It was critical for me to understand what our past as Americans was and how it continues to be an influence on Native people today. That is why I wanted to make this film.

Why did you choose this genre? Westerns are not often well-received in today’s culturally-aware climate.

I have said, that almost any self-respecting American director at one point or another in their career probably wants to make a Western. This is simply because, as Robert Duvall once said, ‘the English have Shakespeare, the French have Molière and we as Americans have Westerns.’

Westerns are very difficult to make. They can be expensive, and people say there isn’t an audience for them. I hope our film proves that to be wrong, as so many others in the past have. It was important for me to understand where we came from quite honestly.

Distinctly, this film is not about Native Americans, nor did I make a film about the US Cavalry. I made this film about America in 1892.

What makes things difficult, is when you make a film like Hostiles, which can be much more open to criticism than most films, given the lineage of Western films, to include the politics, the racism and dealing with one of the best genres ever made, automatically have a target on your back. I’m sure I’ve taken quite a few since making this movie, but as long as people can find a bit of themselves in the story, and the truth in the story, I’ve done my job. Oscars or no Oscars …

Out of curiosity, is this film based on any sort of true story?

No, not that I am aware of. I just peppered it with things that I have read in the past that are based on truth but this is not specifically a true story, no.

Director Chris Eyre and Dr. Joely Proudfit were two Native consultants on the film. They expressed to me your concern in telling the Native aspect of the story with authenticity.

It was important for me to not pull punches in any way regarding the very real oppression the US Cavalry inflicted on Native Americans. I also did not want to shy away from how murderous some of the Comanche people could be toward American soldiers, settlers and even other Native Americans.

The title of the movie Hostiles, a reference to the United States government’s regard for incarcerated Native Americans as hostiles, the fact is, everyone in this film is a hostile in one way or another.

Courtesy Lorey Sebastian

Scott Cooper (kneeling with hat) on the set of ‘Hostiles’ speaking with Native actors. Native Director Chris Eyre and Dr. Joely Proudfit (standing in the background) were on set each day as cultural consultants.

Native people seldom see such a level of cultural consideration and dedication to be authentic, why was this important to you as a director?

When you look at so many films that are considered to be some of our great American films that deal with the American West and Native Americans–most specifically the 40s and 50s–they are not populated with Native American or Indigenous peoples. They were populated with white, Armenians or Italian actors portraying Native Americans. That is just unforgivable.

If there is anything I strive for in my work, it is authenticity. Some people tend to like this authenticity, while others tend to like an idealized version of their art. I really have no interest in the latter. It was critical for me to gain as firm of an understanding about Native American culture as I possibly could, as a white man telling the story.

It was critical that I had Chris Eyre, Dr. Joely Proudfit, Chief Phillip of the Northern Cheyenne and his wife Lynette Two Bulls, who helped me better understand their culture, their values, their moiré, their language, their dialect, symbols, gestures and behavior. I learned as much as I possibly could to help tell the story.

Even though I’m telling the story from the point of view of a US Cavalry officer, (played by Christian Bale) my hope is a young Native American filmmaker can tell the story from Wes’s point of view, from Chief Yellowhawk’s point of view, so that we can understand where they came from, their historical trauma and speak to that story

I am telling the world a story about the United States in 1892 at the onset of the industrial revolution, and these men who were becoming obsolete, and the rise of reservations in all of these sort of things.

It has been heartening to see so much Native influence in your film.

I could not have made the film without the help of Chris Eyre, Dr. Joely Proudfit, Wes Studi, Chief Phillip and Lynette Two Bulls. I wrote the film specifically for Wes Studi, Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher and more. Tanaya Beatty I had not yet been aware of, but another actor whom I greatly admire, Casey Affleck, recommended her to me.

From left to right: ‘Hostiles’ film director Scott Cooper, actors Wes Studi and Q’orianka Kilcher and consultants Chris Eyre and Dr. Joely Proudfit.

When we auditioned, I met this young actor, Xavier Horsechief who lives on the Navajo Reservation, who plays Little Bear. He was fantastic and as far as I am aware, he has never been in a film. He is a wonderful kid, just soulful. He really has a beautiful soul.

It’s no secret I appreciated the film as I wrote in my review. I literally sat on the edge of my seat during this film.

A @HostilesMovie Review from a Native American Perspective.#HostilesMovie: “A Profound Respect For Native Culture, A Gut Punch of Reality”

Review by #NativeAmerican Journalist @VinceSchilling

In theaters nationwide now.

— Vincent Schilling (@VinceSchilling) January 26, 2018

I am so happy to hear that because this film is very subjective. You have your ancestry. Then there is Chief Phillip, Chris and Joely and other indigenous peoples that have seen the film. For them to embrace the film — and yourself included — means more to me than anyone quite honestly.

I think people will see the film this weekend as it goes nationwide, I have a good feeling that it will reach a wide audience. I hope that they embrace this as you have. It would mean so much to me.

What was something you learned about Native culture in the process of making this film?

I learned a great deal, and I have never learned more on any film that I have on this as it relates to Native Americans. I learned how compassionate, understanding and supportive of each other Native people can be.

We all know that Native Americans have been an extremely large part of the development of this nation and civilization we call America. I hope Native people feel as though this is a tribute to what They’ve gone through in terms of the world that we live in today.

I could not have done that if I did not understand the compassion of the Native American peoples, the historical trauma, that is so often not taught in American textbooks — and rarely talked about in television news unless it’s stolen land. Such as the incidents occurring at Standing Rock.

Quite frankly I learned how to be a more open person, I learned to be a more compassionate person. I learned to be more at peace with my thoughts and gained an understanding of who I am. I wanted to understand what brought us to the world of 2018. I have never learned anything more than I learned from this film.

How important was the cultural consultation from Dr. Joely Proudfit, Director Chris Eyre and Cheyenne speakers?

Chris Eyre, Joely Proudfit, Chief Phillip and his wife Lynette helped me better understand, the culture, the language and more. Every day before filming began, Chief Phillip would gather us together, the entire cast and crew, and he would bless the production. That meant a great deal to me on a personal level, it showed people, what we were making wasn’t just another film.

We were making something that could speak to the trauma of Native people and how we could make for a better life for those we’ve afflicted for so long.

Courtesy Lorey Sebastian

Chris Eyre, actress Rosamund Pike and Dr. Joely Proudfit on the set of ‘Hostiles.’

How was it working with the likes of Wes Studi, Adam Beach, Rosamund Pike and Christian Bale?

Christian Bale is one of my closest pals and we work closely together. He can say so much non-verbally with one look or one glance that many other actors can’t do with dialogue. Wes Studi is I believe to be a national treasure and he was so open to help me tell the story.

Rosamund Pike completely gave herself over to the character and the grief and the tragedy she endures. Adam Beach has been so wonderful for so long and Q’orianka Kilcher have all taken these characters and completely transformed them from the page to places I never dreamed they could take it to.

That is as heartening as it gets to a filmmaker.

You say Hostiles is not specifically a Native film, but rather a picture of the U.S. in 1892, but what is the overall message you wish to share?

I would say Vincent, that the message is that we need to better understand one another. We need to overcome our prejudices with one another, we need to search for personal enlightenment and we need reconciliation because I fear that our country is headed down a very dark and dangerous path.

Unless we can come together and better understand one another and offer reconciliation and healing to one another … this racial and cultural divide, this fissure that is now breaking America, is only going to get wider.

What would you say to young aspiring Native actors and directors about becoming a successful artist?

Tell your story, understand your history, tell it as authentically as you can. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Continue, continue and continue believing in yourself, because you will meet ‘no’ at every turn.

Fantastic, hopefully we will see more respectful portrayals of Native people from you in the future.

You can definitely count on it.


Hostiles is playing theaters across the country now.

For more information visit the Hostiles movie Facebook page or visit the website at


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

The post An Extensive Conversation with ‘Hostiles’ Movie Director: Scott Cooper appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

Graceful Puppetry and Native Actors Combine in ‘Ajijaak on Turtle Island’

Lovers of the Jim Henson’s muppet’s legacy and theatrical-based stories of the Ojibwe, Lakota, and Cherokee Nation, can look forward to a performance of Ajijaak on Turtle Island.  The play, directed by Heather Henson and Ty Defoe, is produced by Ibex Puppetry, a company founded in 2000 by Heather Henson, the daughter of the iconic muppets creator Jim Henson.

Courtesy Ibex Puppetry

A scene from ‘Ajijaak on Turtle Island’ includes Native actors interacting with a giant black serpent.

In addition to the contributions of the renowned contemporary puppet creator Heather Henson, artistic contributions to the play also include Grammy Award winner and champion hoop dancer from the Oneida and Ojibwe Nation, Ty Defoe (Giizhig,) Grammy and NAMA-nominated Mohawk artist Dawn Avery, and notable Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin performer and musician Kevin Tarrant.

Photo courtesy Ibex Puppetry

Champion hoop dancer, writer, and director Ty Defoe. On the right side of this image, Defoe performs a healing crane dance in ‘Ajijaack On Turtle Island.’

Other actors include Tony Enos, Joan Henry, Wen Jeng, Curtiss Mitchell, Adelka Polak, Sheldon Raymore, Josephine Tarrant and dancers Jake Montanaro, Jennifer Sanchez, Euni Shim and Dormeshia Ward.

Courtesy Ibex Puppetry

Some of the Native actors in ‘Ajijaack On Turtle Island’ include Josephine Tarrant, Sheldon Raymore, Tony Enos and Joan Henry.

The production is currently scheduled for tour dates in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Center / Perelman Theater on Saturday Jan 27, 2018 at 7:00 pm and at the New York-based  La Mama Theatre February 8, 2018 through February 18, 2018. More dates are being considered by organizers.

The overview of Ajijaack on Turtle Island is described on the Philadelphia-based Kimmel Center website as follows:

In this coming of age story, follow our hero, Ajijaack as she learns lessons along the way from her mentors and friends: the buffalo, deer, frog, dragonfly, coyote, and a turtle activist family. On her heroic journey, pieces of the Ojibwe, Lakota, and Cherokee Nations are highlighted along with cultural rituals and practices of Indigenous Peoples’ on Turtle Island (North America). Reflecting our connectedness with all of creation, this immersive story is told through rituals and puppets, projections and kites, aerial antics and life-sized maps. Tracing the tragedies befalling cranes, of disappearing forests and lakes, this story celebrates the richness of indigenous cultures that honor and protect these majestic birds.

Courtesy Ibex Puppetry

Tony Enos, one of the Native actors in ‘Ajijaack on Turtle Island,’ maneuvers a coyote made entirely of corn husks.

Tony Enos, a two spirit Cherokee actor told Indian Country Today he was thrilled to be a part of Ajijaak on Turtle Island and has continuously marveled at the creativity of the play. He also said he was grateful for the cultural respect paid to the Native story.

“So much care was taken in making sure traditional elements were respected and woven properly into the fabric of the show. We wanted to walk through the show with honor and offer audiences a special message as Native and Indigenous individuals working to change native theater. The show is beautiful and it’s message simple: ‘Love and protect our Mother Earth, care for yourself and each other and never give up,’” said Enos.

#Philly stand up! See you Saturday night at #iPay for opening night of #Ajijaack at the #kimmelcenter email for your FREE tix now! #philadelphia #southphilly #southphiladelphia #eagles #flyeaglesfly #centercity #centercityphilly

— tony enos (@tonyenos) January 23, 2018

In addition to Enos’ comment, members of the cast and crew sent their comments to Indian Country Today via email.

Ty Defoe, an Ojibwa and Oneida actor told Indian Country Today he hoped Ajijaack on Turtle Island would inspire youth and families from all cultural backgrounds including the Native community, to tell an authentic story about Native peoples. said “I’d really like all people to experience ways to honor the past, the present, and consider how we can give to the future,” wrote Defoe. 

Joan Henry (Tsalagi/Nde’/Arawaka) said the indigenous nature of the play, which included storytelling, relations to Mother Earth, animals, and plants was important. “The endangered and revered Whooping Crane introduces audiences to contemporary Native people in real time, with real concerns.”

Actor Wen Jeng said “I really don’t know how to describe Ajijaack on Turtle Island other than some kind of beautiful, some kind of magic,” while the production’s stage manager called the play, “a magical and beautiful flight.”

“It’s amazing how these animal puppets create a world where our imaginations allow us to listen to their messages of protecting earth’s natural resources,” said actor Sheldon Raymore of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

“I’m honored to be apart of this production,” wrote Raymore.

For performance information and tickets to Ajijaak on Turtle Island, visit the following sites:

Kimmel Center in Partnership with IPAY
300 S Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19102
IBEX Puppetry: Ajijaack on Turtle Island
Saturday – Jan 27, 2018 – 7:00 PM

La MaMa Theatre Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th St, New York, NY 10003
February 8, 2018 – February 18, 2018
Thursday to Saturday at 7pm; Sunday at 2pm
$25 Adult Tickets; $20 Students/Seniors (plus $1 Facility Fee)


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

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Enjoy films for and about real Indians Natives when you download our special free report, 50 Must-See Modern Native Films and Performances!

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‘All Clear’ Called After Earthquake Threatens Tsunami off of Alaska’s Chignik Bay

A 7.9 quake off the coast of Alaska threatening a Tsunami has fallen flat and an ‘all clear’ has been called allowing evacuated residents to return home in Alaska communities. According to official reports from the National Weather Service, a powerful 7.9 earthquake hit just off the coast of Alaska and the Chignik Bay late Monday.

Initially, the quake prompted a tsunami warning for a large section of Alaska’s coast and parts of Canada.

The National Weather Service put out warnings to cellphones in Alaska, with the message, “Emergency Alert. Tsunami danger on the coast. Go to high ground or move inland.” One public station,  KMXT in Kodiak issued an urgent advisory: “This is a tsunami warning. This is not a drill. Please get out to higher ground.”

Later, the U.S. Tsunami Warning System downgraded the threat to an advisory for Alaska’s Chignik Bay.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there were several milder aftershocks after the quake and the epicenter was located about 6 miles below the surface and 175 miles southeast of Kodiak.

U.S. Tsunami Warning System

The U.S. Tsunami Warning System’s image of the offshore location of a 7.9 earthquake that prompted a possible tsunami warning.

In an NPR article, one of their member stations KTOO reported a mild result to the quake at that point, reporting only “several waves around the state of under a foot.”

After the downgrade, In Sitka, Alaska, schools converted to shelters during the tsunami warning were given the all-clear. Sitka’s evacuation affected a community of an approximate 9,000 on an island in Southeast, Alaska.

Reporter Emily Kwong of Raven Radio posted to Twitter:

“Chimes going off in Sitka, Alaska, as booming emergency voice sounds the all clear: ‘Repeat. The tsunami warning has been canceled. It is safe to return to coastal areas.’ City says school will happen today. Kids I’ve spoken with have mixed feelings about that.”

Chimes going off in Sitka, Alaska, as booming emergency voice sounds the all clear: “Repeat. The tsunami warning has been canceled. It is safe to return to coastal areas.” City says school will happen today. Kids I’ve spoken with have mixed feelings about that. #Tsunami

— Emily Kwong (@emilykwong1234) January 23, 2018

Six hours later Kwong posted: “UPDATE: No wave action reported in Sitka, Alaska. City still advising residents to remain on high ground, but nerves seem to calming at the school.”

Kwong also posted an image of two smiling girls sitting at at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, waiting for the ‘all-clear’ to return home.

“Valerie and Delilah Hinchman of Sitka wait for the all clear, signaling they can return to their homes. The island community was evacuated around 1 a.m., following a 7.9 earthquake off the Gulf of Alaska.”

Valerie and Delilah Hinchman of Sitka wait for the all clear, signaling they can return to their homes. The island community was evacuated around 1 a.m., following a 7.9 earthquake off the Gulf of Alaska. #Tsunami

— Emily Kwong (@emilykwong1234) January 23, 2018


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

The post ‘All Clear’ Called After Earthquake Threatens Tsunami off of Alaska’s Chignik Bay appeared first on Indian Country Media Network.

16th Annual State of Indian Nations Address To Kick Off NCAI’s Winter Session

On Monday, February 12, 2018, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Jefferson Keel will deliver the 2018 State of Indian Nations (SOIN) address, which will be followed by the Executive Council Winter Session (ECWS).

Broadcasted live from Knight Studios at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on Monday morning, President Keel’s SOIN address will outline the goals of tribal nations and their leaders, the opportunities for success and advancement of Native peoples, and the priorities for our nation-to-nation relationship with the United States.

Space is limited. Please RSVP ASAP: Press RSVP Here.

Directly following SOIN, ECWS will kick off on Monday afternoon. Held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., the conference will explore key issues facing Native American communities while providing tactical solutions primarily through legislative and policy planning and advocacy with the Administration and Congress.

The event features tribal leaders and more than 20 speakers from the White House, government agencies and Congress, including:

  • Ryan Zinke, Secretary, Department of the Interior
  • David Shulkin, Secretary, Department of Veteran Affairs
  • Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Department of Justice
  • Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA)
  • Senator Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
  • Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ)
  • Senator Jeff Merkley (OR)
  • Congressman Derrick Kilmer (WA)
  • Congressman Don Young (AK)
  • Senator Tom Udall (NM)
  • Congresswoman Norma Torres (CA)
  • Congressman Jack Bergman (MI)
  • Congressman Steve Pearce (NM)
  • Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (NV)
  • Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK)

Please review the draft agenda here.

Contact NCAI Communications Associate with any questions at


2018 State of Indian Nations (SOIN) Address

Press registration will begin at 9:15 a.m. EST at the Group Entrance on C Street NW of the Newseum. Please note all press are required to wear press badges at all times and are asked to announce themselves to the moderator of each session they plan on attending.

Executive Council Winter Session (ECWS)

On-site press credentialing for ECWS takes place on Monday, February 12, 2018 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. EST. Credentialed press have access to all plenary sessions, as well as those sessions noted for press access on the agenda.


About the State of Indian Nations:

Each year, the President of the National Congress of American Indians presents the State of Indian Nations address to members of Congress, government officials, tribal leaders and citizens, and the American public. The speech outlines the goals of tribal leaders, the opportunities for success and advancement of Native peoples, and priorities to advance our nation-to-nation relationship with the United States.

For more information, visit

About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit

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Strange Inheritance Episode Features 250,000 Indian Arrowheads Once Denied to John Wayne

A North Carolina man by the name of Jerry Williams inherited a collection of nearly 250,000 ancient Indian arrowheads. The collection will be featured on the FOX Business Network series, Strange Inheritance with Jamie Colby, premiering Monday, Jan. 22, at 9 p.m. ET.

As described on the FOX Business Network site, the collection was originally gathered by a North Carolina couple, Moon and Irene Mullins who amassed the relics over a half-century beginning in the 1930’s. Moon Mullins willed the arrowheads to his friend and caregiver Jerry Williams.

The collection has grabbed the attention of Joe Candillo, Native American historian and a member of the Pascua Yaqui tribe. “The Mullins Collection surpasses anything I’ve seen in private hands … It’s breathtaking. You’re just overtaken by the number of arrowheads.”

In the episode, Wayne Underwood, a friend of the North Carolina couple, tells Jamie Colby that Western movie star John Wayne once tried to buy it from Moon. “Not even John Wayne could convince him to part with it. Moon turned him down immediately,” said Underwood.

Underwood said the couple would “hunt all day long. They just loved life and they loved spending it together.” He said they found their biggest hauls on farms and fertile land where tribes built villages, leaving behind artifacts.

FOX Business Network

In the FOX Business Network series episode ‘Strange Inheritance with Jamie Colby,’ Wayne Underwood, tells the host Jamie Colby that the movie star John Wayne once tried to buy the collection of 250,000 arrowheads. The original owner said no immediately.

In 1982, Irene Mullins died at age 69. Jerry Williams and his wife moved in with Moon Mullins to care for him and keep the arrowheads from being lost if Mullins were to go to a resting home. Mullins died in 1987.

Wayne Underwood had hoped to buy the collection from Jerry Williams and his wife, knowing it was worth around a million dollars. But he didn’t have that much money.

Joe Candillo agrees the collection is extremely valuable. “As you go back in time, typically an arrowhead becomes more valuable. Some of the oldest points, my goodness, I have seen those go anywhere from five hundred to a couple thousand dollars.”

Watch the ‘Strange Inheritance: Indian Arrowheads’ preview video here.

Underwood and Williams struck a deal. Underwood agreed to pay one dollar from every ticket sold from his attraction and museum in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, called Mystery Hill for the rest of the couple’s lives. Once Underwood paid $300,000 he would own the collection.

To date, the Williams’ couple have received nearly $400,000 and Underwood is planning a new building to house the collection. Due to new laws making it illegal to take arrowheads from public lands Underwood’s collection may be the largest private collection ever.


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

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Oklahoma City Theatre Company Announces Open Call For Scripts: Deadline February 15

The Oklahoma City Theatre Company has announced an open call for scripts with a deadline of February 15, 2018 for potential inclusion into their ninth annual Native American New Play Festival.  The company welcomes all American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, Canadian First Nation and Indigenous Mexico playwrights to submit full-length plays written for the stage.

The Oklahoma City Theatre Company’s ninth annual Native American New Play Festival will take place June 7-9 and June 14-16, 2018 in the Oklahoma City Music Hall City Space Theatre.

The Oklahoma City Theatre Company’s 9th annual Native American New Play Festival is calling for full-length scripts written from an indigenous perspective and all themes and topics are welcomed. Though the company says plays may focus on historical or present-day issues, they are especially interested in plays that center on an Oklahoma tribe and tribal history.

The selection process will consider full length plays that are received by February 15, 2018 and will be read and evaluated by a panel comprised of Native American theatrical artists, Oklahoma City Theatre Company staff and community members.

The selection panel will select 2-3 plays for a staged reading during the festival based on originality, theatricality, and execution. One finalist will receive a staged reading with professional actors and a director during the festival and an audience discussion will follow the readings.

A full production will be awarded to one of the finalists from the readings and showcased as the featured production the following festival year, 2019. This year’s featured festival production is “Round Dance” by Arigon Starr (Kickapoo/Muskogee Creek).

Courtesy 'Round Dance' by Arigon Starr is this year's featured Courtesy Oklahoma City Theatre Company

‘Round Dance’ by Arigon Starr is this year’s featured production at the Oklahoma City Theatre Company’s ninth annual Native American New Play Festival.

Submission Guidelines from The Oklahoma City Theatre Company

All submissions must conform to a standard play-script format (one-inch margins, #12 Times or Courier font, all pages numbered). Plays that have had previous workshops and productions within the last five years are welcome.

Please include a production history if applicable. Include a title page with full contact information, (mailing address, phone numbers, email address) a draft or revision date and a character breakdown at the beginning of your script. Please provide a biography of 100 words and provide a photo of at least 300dpi. Please label all attachments as follows: Title of the play Author’s Last Name, First Initial.

To submit, email your submission materials at:

Deadline: February 15, 2018

The company accepts submissions written for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native, Hawaiian, First Nations, and Indigenous Mexico artists.

For more information about the festival, check out  or


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

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Native Actor Wes Studi Talks About His Role as Chief Yellowhawk in ‘Hostiles’

Hostiles, a movie about the world of American soldiers, white settlers, American Indians and the world that surrounded them all in 1892, is slated to release in largely western markets this Friday. Among the most notable Native actors in the film is Wes Studi, who portrays Cheyenne Chief Yellowhawk.

In addition to Wes Studi’s role in the film, Christian Bale stars as the American soldier and officer Capt. Joseph J. Blocker and Rosamund Pike potrays a homesteader Rosalie Quaid. The movie also features an array of well-known actors such as Adam Beach, who portrays Yellowhawk’s son, Black Hawk, Q’orianka Kilcher as Elk Woman and Tanaya Beatty as Living Woman. Ben Foster portrays an American soldier held for murder, Sgt. Charles Wills.

Scott Cooper as director has been praised for his efforts to use Cheyenne dialect speakers and cultural consultants Chris Eyre and Dr. Joely Proudfit who are part of The Native Networkers.

On Wednesday January 10th, the National Congress of American Indians hosted a screening of Hostiles in Washington DC. At the event, Wes Studi took a moment to chat with Indian Country Today about his role in the film.

See Related Story:
Hostiles Movie Review: A Profound Respect For Native Culture, A Gut Punch of Reality

Studi told ICT about the cultural respect paid by director Scott Cooper and his crew, discussed how Hostiles was not solely a Native American film, but rather a film about America in 1892, a time in which Native people were a large part of history and what it takes to be an actor ‘worth his salt.’

You play Chief Yellowhawk in the ‘Hostiles’ movie. The movie doesn’t pull punches in terms of the hostility between all peoples at that time.

Everyone fights for what belongs to them. We are all hostiles in one way or another.

Courtesy Waypoint Entertainment

‘Hostiles’ movie poster. Hostiles stars Rosamund Pike, Christian Bale and Wes Studi.

Can you tell me about your part in the film?

Every actor worth his salt should always play that they are doing the right thing. I always play my guy as if he is doing the right thing as far as he is concerned. Whether he turns out to be villainous in terms of the whole story, or heroic in terms of the whole story, an actor is bound to play his or her particular part as doing what they feel is the right thing.

We play the characters in film as if they are real people. We play them as much as possible as real people with the scripts that we are given, and use what we have to work with.

Your character had a great deal of humanity rather than any sort of stereotype.

This is one of the few times as an actor where I do get to smile in a film.

What do you think about Hostiles in the grand scheme of the film industry?

I think Hostiles is just another step along the way to actually getting a real Native American perspective. This story does not totally allow for that simply because it is a story about someone else. This is not an Indian film, and so many folks jump on the idea that it is an Indian film because it may have a lot of native content and subject matter. This is not an Indian film, it is a film about America in 1892.

We as Native people have always had a large part of the development of this nation and this civilization that we call America. I think this is a tribute to what we went through in terms of the world we live in today.

The fact that Scott Cooper and Christian Bale were supportive of the cultural aspects of Hostiles speaks volumes about today’s potential industry.

I think the entire film absolutely works well because everyone was very open the idea and concept to maintain the authenticity with cultural consultants and the Cheyenne people— as you should when you are telling a story about them— it really is as simple as that.

What would you tell directors who think I want to make a movie that has native people in it? What do they need to know?

I would tell them to go outside of the box. Do your research and deal with the people you are portraying because we do still exist.  I think that is the first step toward getting the authenticity that any writer and director will be looking for.

A lot of young native actors want to emulate the strength and success that you portray as Wes Studi, the actor. What would you say to them?

I would say do not emulate me, do it yourself.

Wes Studi stars along with such actors as Christian Bale and Adam Beach in ‘Hostiles’ directed by Scott Cooper. The film premieres in select western region theaters Jan 19 and nationwide Jan 26.


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

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Umatilla Star Jude Schimmel Shoots Hoops in Latest Nike Ad Narrated by LeBron James

Umatilla Native basketball star and Nike N7 Ambassador Jude Schimmel has appeared in a recent Nike video which shows her shooting hoops on the rez. Nike’s latest ad, promoting equality for all races — which is narrated by LeBron James — is titled “EQUALITY: Until We All Win.”

Schimmel is a former college basketball player at the University of Louisville who won the NCAA Elite 89 award for having the highest GPA of any player in the Final Four. She also played professionally in Spain and is the author of the book Dreamcatcher.

She also interviewed former President Barack Obama in 2015 at the 7th Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference held in Washington DC.

On Twitter, Schimmel said it was an honor to be a part of the Nike equality campaign alongside so many incredible athletes.

It’s an honor to be apart of the @Nike equality campaign along side so many incredible athletes.

— Jude Schimmel (@JSchim22) January 15, 2018

According to Nike’s website, the campaign is working to unite communities through sports and will work to provide mentorships. The also state athlete ambassadors “proudly stand together with these select organizations determined to fight for equality, in their communities and beyond.”

“Nike believes in the power of sport to move the world forward – We strive to break down barriers, bring people together, and inspire action,” states their site.

Facebook video of Nike N7 Ambassador Jude Schimmel

Nike’s site also features four organizations to promote increased diversity and inclusion to include BHM, celebrating Black heritage, BeTrue supporting the LGBTQ community, LHM for Latinx heritage and Nike N7, “Representing our commitment to bring sport and all of its benefits to Native American and Aboriginal communities in North America.”

For more information, visit

You can watch the video here:


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

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The Native History We Are Never Taught In School

Though I have lived in the Hampton Roads area for nearly twenty years, specifically Virginia Beach, I grew up as a young Native American boy on Compton Blvd., (Yes that Compton) in California.

My Native American tribe is Mohawk, from the Akwesasne Reserve in upstate New York. My reserve actually sits on the New York and Canadian border. It wasn’t until I was at least thirty-years-old until I discovered that my grandmother, (who spoke the Mohawk language fluently) had been taken to a orphanage along with her sister when she was a little girl. 

My great-grandmother (who did not speak english, only Mohawk) was told she could not have her children back because she had signed them over. Devastated, my great grandmother broke in late at night and stole back her children, which included my grandmother and her sister.

When my grandmother had children later in life, she and her family fled to California, fearing Canadian authorities would take her own Native children as they often did.

I only spent a little bit of time with my grandmother as a child, she would sing to me songs she knew such as “Oh my darlin’ Clementine” or “She’ll come riding six white horses” in her small kitchen in California. She watched over me when I had the chickenpox. She put mayonnaise on my head when I once got gum in my hair. But in all the years I knew my grandmother, she never told me she was Mohawk, she never shared with me the words of our Mohawk language or the songs our ancestors sang. Being an Indian meant losing your children, so she hid who she was.

In later years I discovered, she died in a hospital much too young for her age, there was suspicion she died of negligence, because the hospital did not care about some random Indian woman taking up space in a hospital bed.

It wasn’t until my late thirties (I am 50-years-old now) that my wonderful wife Delores suggested I connect back with my tribe. After only a few phone calls, I discovered all my family’s history was documented by the Catholic Church, who followed their religious conversions very closely. I was indeed a member of the tribe and I was listed on the tribal roles.

But I did not yet feel worthy to be a part of the tribe. I felt I had not contributed anything to Native culture aside from one class in college. (It was a Native Studies class, and the teacher, resentful I assume because he had a student which really was Native American — I received a D in the class. The lowest grade I had ever received in my life.) I sought to be a ‘better Indian’ than I had been in my life thus far.

I decided one day I would travel to Akwesasne, but I ‘needed to feel more connected,’ I thought. I poured myself into my own independent studies and felt ravenous to learn, which had been an unfamiliar feeling and unlike my attitude in high school. I had long ago discovered school textbooks were a horrible source for any sort of Native histories, as they were largely focused on the white side, or colonial contributions to history and little else.

In the course of my studies, I came across a book publishing company, interested in hearing about independent stories of contemporary Native people. I ended up writing four books in the Native Trailblazers series on Native and Canadian First Nations role models for kids.

I then connected with Indian Country Today as a journalist, the largest Native American news publication in the United States, over the course of several years, I have contributed well over 2,000 articles of news based on Native people. I continue to write for them today as evidenced here.

In the midst of all my research – I traveled to Akwesasne after I had obtained a contractual job through the tribe as a video / filmmaker to create a “New Employee Orientation Video.” I was elated. Not only was I coming back, I was going to learn a TON about my tribe. When I was there, I also met my extended family, who remembered my grandmother. I felt complete, and I was also asked to join the dancing celebration at the longhouse by an extremely respected elder Tom Porter.

As I have continued to learn about my culture, I have uncovered an alarming amount of hidden history that has been hidden from our children of today.

Here are just a few facts:

  • Columbus never landed in America – ever. He and his men were responsible for the genocide of untold thousands of indigenous peoples of the caribbean. Who had their hands cut off for not finding enough gold and more. In a letter to a friend, Columbus wrote nine-year-old girls were in demand by his men. 

8 Myths and Atrocities About Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day – Indian Country Media Network

  • Pocahontas never loved John Smith. She had a Native husband and a child before she knew John Rolfe, she was impregnated by a stranger after being kidnapped and John Rolfe married her to get a Native tobacco recipe.
  • My grandmother was part of the “Indian Boarding Schools” movement in which U.S. and Canadian religious authorities took by force Native children from their families and forced them to appropriate white culture. If the spoke their native language in school, they were beaten. They were victims of ALL types of abuse and later were returned home with no explanation to the families. Children and parents could no longer speak to each other.
  • According to the Weyanoke Association, approximately 80% of Black americans in Virginia have a Native American ancestor. As Blacks and Indians grew their alliances in history, Walter Plecker incorporated “Pencil Genocide” in which Native or Black, Plecker and his minions went in and physically changed birth records to “colored.
  • The Iroquois Confederacy was the pre-eminent influencer to the United States government. The tribes methodologies of internal workings were the basis of of U.S system of ‘checks and balances’ as illustrated by our Congress, Senate and the office of the President. All of this said, the term “Merciless Indian Savages” was still included in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

I hope some of what I’ve shared has opened a few eyes. We are all in this together, we all struggle, but some more than others. Those that have privilege don’t realize they have it, and will forever demand their place as the victors of war.

If you found history boring in school, it is very likely because the history you were being taught had nothing to do with your ancestry.

I once heard, “History is written by the Victors of War,” this may once have been true, but it doesn’t have to remain this way. Learn about your own history as I have been doing, it is more than empowering.


Vincent Schilling is a Native American author, journalist, radio host and public speaker. You may follow him on Twitter or Instagram via @VinceSchilling.

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Six VA Tribes Slotted For Federal Recognition as Senators Warner & Kaine Secure Bill Passage

On Thursday January 11th, 2018, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner secured the final passage of the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017.

Once signed by the President, the legislation will grant federal recognition of the following six Virginia tribes: the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond.

The bill, which has never before made it to the proverbial Senate stage, has had a long history of nearly passing. U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives from Virginia have pushed for federal recognition since the 1990s, with Senators George Allen and John Warner first introducing this legislation in the Senate in 2002.

Senators Kaine and Warner (both previous Virginia Governors) introduced this legislation in the Senate in the 113th and 114th Congresses, and Warner had introduced it in prior Congresses.

Many of these Virginia tribes include descendants of Pocahontas’ Virginia Powhatan tribe. These tribes had received official state recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but had not received federal recognition, a status which will grant the tribes legal standing in direct relationships with the U.S. government and other institutions such as museums.

As described on a release, Senators Kaine and Warner worked with Democratic and Republican colleagues to ensure that the bill made it through to final passage. U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives from Virginia have pushed for federal recognition since the 1990s, with Senators George Allen and John Warner first introducing this legislation in the Senate in 2002.

Courtesy Office of Senator Mark Warner

Senator Tim Kaine (left) Chief Stephen Adkins (Chickahominy), Chief Lee Lockamy (Nansemond) and Senator Mark Warner (far right) share a moment of congratulations.

Ahead of the bills passage on the Senate floor, Senator Kaine shared his thoughts. “This is about Virginia tribes that were here and encountered the English when they arrived in [Jamestown] in 1607, the tribes of Pocahontas and other wonderful Virginians. They are living tribes, never recognized by the federal government for a series of reasons. . . . It’s a fundamental issue of respect, and fairly acknowledging a historical record, and a wonderful story of tribes that are living, thriving and surviving and are a rich part of our heritage. This is a happy day to stand up on their behalf,” said Senator Kaine.

Senator Warner also shared his thoughts on the floor immediately after Kaine. “We and some of the folks who are in the gallery today were not sure this day would ever come, but even here in the United States Congress and the United States Senate, occasionally we get things right. And boy, oh, boy, this is a day where we get things right on a civil rights basis, on a moral basis, on a fairness basis, and to our friends who are representatives of some of the six tribes who are finally going to be granted federal recognition, we want to say thank you for their patience, their perseverance, their willingness to work with us and others,” said Senator Warner.

Watch a video from Senator Mark Warner’s Facebook page:

Assistant Chief Wayne Adkins from the Chickahominy Indian tribe, who was present at the vote, told Indian Country Today he was “feeling pretty good,” but stated through his optimism that he “knew anything could happen at this point.”

“Senators Warner and Kaine really pushed hard for us. In terms of this bill getting signed by the President, everyone we talked so seems optimistic,” said Adkins.

Courtesy Office of Senator Mark Warner

Wayne B. Adkins, (right) Chair of VITAL and Assistant Chief, Chickahominy Indian Tribe and Stephen R. Adkins, Chief, Chickahominy Indian Tribe (left) are among six tribes slotted for federal recognition.

Adkins told Indian Country Today he was caught a bit off guard when the chairman announced the bill had passed. “It was surreal after 18 years of working. It definitely was not a let down, but when you put it so much work after so many years, it was strange to be such a brief moment,” he said.

Congressman Wittman said in a release, “Today we have taken a critical step forward in correcting the Federal Government’s failure to recognize the ‘first contact’ tribes of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Decades in the making, federal recognition will acknowledge and protect historical and cultural identities of these tribes for the benefit of all Americans. It will also affirm the government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Virginia tribes, and help create opportunities to enhance and protect the well-being of tribal members. I want to thank Senators Kaine and Warner for their support to give these tribes the recognition they have long deserved.”

This version of the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act, which originated in the House of Representatives and was introduced by Virginia Congressman Rob Wittman, previously passed in the House unanimously in May.

Once signed by the President, federal recognition will allow Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government.

Further, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act will allow tribes to do the following as a federally recognized tribe:

  • Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes.
  • Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains.
  • Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care.

These tribal leaders were in attendance in the Senate Gallery for the vote last Thursday:

W. Frank Adams, Chief, Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe
Stephen R. Adkins, Chief, Chickahominy Indian Tribe
Wayne B. Adkins, Chair of VITAL and Assistant Chief, Chickahominy Indian Tribe
Dean Branham, Chief, Monacan Nation
Lee Lockamy, Chief Nansemond Indian Tribe
Frank Richardson, representing Chief Anne Richardson, Rappahannock Tribe
Gerald A. Stewart, Assistant Chief, Eastern Chickahominy Indian Tribe

Courtesy Office of Senator Mark Warner

Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner stand with tribal leaders were in attendance in the Senate Gallery for the vote last Thursday.

When the bill is signed into law, the amount of U.S. federally recognized tribes will go from 567 to 573.
Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter

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20th Anniversary Screening of ‘Smoke Signals’ and 8 Indigenous-Made Films Premiering at Sundance

As just announced on the Sundance Institute website, this year, eight Indigenous-made films will be premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, January 18-28, in Park City, Utah. In addition, there will be a special 20th Anniversary Archive Screening of Smoke Signals, directed by Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho) with the screenplay by Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene).

In addition to the screenings of these Indigenous films, the Sundance Institute has introduced their Native program’s filmmaker fellows for the coming year.

Following founder and President of the Sundance Institute Robert Redford’s vision in creating Sundance, the Institute states on their website that they “remain committed to supporting Native American artists throughout the Institute’s history.” Redford’s vision has since supported more than 300 filmmakers through labs, grants, mentorships, public programs, and the platform of the Sundance Film Festival itself.

The Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program has a global focus and through its work strengthens Indigenous cinema. Filmmakers supported over the years include: Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Muskogee), Taika Waititi (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui), Billy Luther (Diné/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo), Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq), Aurora Guerrero (Xicana), Sydney Freeland (Diné), Ciara Leina’ala Lacy (Kanaka Maoli), Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr. (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians) and Shaandiin Tome (Diné).

Here are the list of films and fellows recently announced by Sundance:

Genesis 2.0

On the remote New Siberian Islands in the Arctic Ocean, hunters search for tusks of extinct mammoths. When they discover a surprisingly well-preserved mammoth carcass, its resurrection will be the first manifestation of the next great technological revolution: genetics. It may well turn our world upside down.

Directors: Christian Frei, Maxim Arbugaev (Yakut/Buryat), Producer: Christian Fre.

We the Animals

Manny, Joel and Jonah tear their way through childhood and push against the volatile love of their parents. As Manny and Joel grow into versions of their father and Ma dreams of escape, Jonah, the youngest, embraces an imagined world all his own. Cast: Raul Castillo, Sheila Vand, Evan Rosado, Isaiah Kristian, Josiah Santiago.

Director: Jeremiah Zagar, Screenwriters: Daniel Kitrosser, Jeremiah Zagar, Producers: Jeremy Yaches, Christina D. King (Creek and Seminole Nations), Andrew Goldman, Paul Mezey.

Sweet Country

An Australian western set on the Northern Territory frontier in the 1920s. Justice itself is put on trial when an aged Aboriginal farmhand shoots a white man in self defense and goes on the run as posse gathers to hunt him down.

Director: Warwick Thornton (Kaytej Nation), Screenwriters: Stephen McGregor, David Tranter (Alyawarra Nation.)

Short Films

Mud (Hashtł’ishnii)

On her last day, Ruby faces the inescapable remnants of alcoholism, family and culture.

Director and screenwriter: Shaandiin Tome (Diné.)

The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets

An urgent reflection on Indigenous sovereignty, the undead violence of museum archives and post-mortem justice through the case of the “Kennewick Man,” a prehistoric Paleoamerican man whose remains were found in Kennewick, Washington State in 1996.

Directors and screenwriters: Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Jackson Polys (Tlingit.)


The oil boom in North Dakota has brought tens of thousands of new people to the region and with that has come an influx of drugs, crime and sex trafficking.

Director: Michelle Latimer (Métis/Algonquin.)

I Like Girls

Charlotte, Mathilde, Marie and Diane reveal the nitty-gritty about their first loves, sharing funny and intimate tales of one-sided infatuation, mutual attraction, erotic moments and fumbling attempts at sexual expression.

Director/Screenwriter: Diane Obomsawin (Abenaki.)

Documentary Premieres

Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock

Standing Rock, 2016 was the largest Native American occupation since Wounded Knee. Thousands of activists, environmentalists and militarized police descend on the Dakota Access Pipeline in a standoff between oil corporations and a new generation of Native warriors. This chronicle captures the sweeping struggle, spirit and havoc of a people’s uprising.

Director: Cody Lucich, (Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe of Enterprise Rancheria), Producers: Heather Rae, Gingger Shankar, Ben-Alex Dupris (Colville.)

20th Anniversary Archive Screening

Smoke Signals

The chronicle of athletic and charming Victor Joseph from the Salmon Indian Reservation really begins when he learns of his father’s premature and sudden death. With no money, he accepts the offer of his quirky and garrulous childhood buddy, Thomas-Builds-the-Fire, to pay for the trip, but only if he goes along. Their ensuing odyssey becomes an exploration of social and personal being, but this is not a typical account laced with angst and despair. Eyre and Alexie have fused their cultural legacy with a cinematic vision that is fresh, honest, and deeply cynical of the trite images and ideas about what it is to be Indian in America.

Director: Chris Eyre (Cheyenne /Arapaho); Screenwriter: Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene.)

Native Filmmaker Lab Fellows

These two fellows participated in the Native Filmmakers Lab with their projects in May 2017 and will end their year-long fellowship at the Sundance Film Festival with ongoing support, screenings, guided film discussions, and networking events.

At the lab, these fellows worked with a cast and crew to practice shooting scenes from their short films under the expert creative mentorship of program alumni, creative advisors and program staff. This fellowship encourages Native filmmakers to hone their storytelling and technical skills in a hands-on and supportive environment. Following the lab, fellows receive a year-round continuum of support.

Shaandiin Tome (Diné), Mud (Hashtł’ishnii)

Erin Maile Lau (Kanaka Maoli), Ka Mahina a me Ka Pō (The Moon & the Night)

Full Circle Fellows

The Full Circle Fellowship Program, which began in 2014 with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is a year-long program for 18-24 year-old Native filmmakers from New Mexico and Michigan.

These fellows receive an immersive experience in the world of independent film and attend screenings, participate in guided film discussions, and connect with leaders of the Indigenous film community. The fellowship—which has its launch at the Festival—focuses on developing these Native youth filmmakers through workshops and training opportunities and links talented young storytellers to education and career pathways across fields of independent filmmaking, using structural strategies where Native communities heal by telling their own stories.

Mandolin Eisenberg (Taos Pueblo) is a mixed-media artist. Since starting college she has focused her efforts on film. From a young age, Eisenberg says she has been inspired by creation, initially taking up drawing and then discovering a love for writing. Her passion for writing and art turned into a deep love for stories and storytelling. As a filmmaker and storyteller, she hopes to create new realities that will impact the world. She currently attends the University of New Mexico, where she studies in the Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program with a concentration in directing and writing.

Kaitlin Lenhard (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians) is a recent graduate of Michigan State University with degrees in media and information and global studies in the arts and humanities. Lenhard’s film interests are largely centered in film language and how film language can be used as a bridge for Indigenous communities that have been denied their languages through colonization.

Nick Sowmick (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe), 18, is a student at Beal City High School in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. His interests include listening to music, watching and making films, and helping his local and tribal community.

Joseph Ernest Wemigwans (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe), 18, has loved films all his life and, especially, paying attention to the details of how they are crafted.

Time Warner Fellows

Jhane Myers (Comanche/Blackfeet), Time Warner Story Fellowship

Jhane Myers is a Time Warner Native Producing Fellow in the Native American and Indigenous Program at the Sundance Institute. She was selected for the Fellowship with the project Words From A Bear, a documentary currently being directed by Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa) on the life of Pulitzer prize winning Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday (House Made of Dawn; The Way To Rainy Mountain).

Jennifer Akana Sturla (Kanaka Maoli), Time Warner Producer Fellowship

Filmmaker Jennifer Akana Sturla was Born to a Hawaiian beauty queen and an aerospace engineer from New Jersey. Her film work has frequently examined her Native Hawaiian heritage and her USC thesis film Kamea won top prizes including Best Short at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival. She is the recipient of the 2018 Time Warner Native Producer Fellowship with her project The Untitled “IZ” Project.

Lauren Monroe, Jr. (Blackfeet), Time Warner Producer Fellowship

Lauren Monroe Jr. is an accomplished visual artist, filmmaker, and is currently in development on the six-part docuseries Horse Nations with ZPZ Productions (Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Mind of a Chef, MeatEater). He previously worked on the films Walking OutThe Ballad Of Lefty Brown, and 2016 Oscar Nominee Winter Light. He is the recipient of the 2018 Time Warner Producer Fellowship with the project Horse Nations.

Merata Mita Fellowship

At the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute will announce the recipient of our annual Fellowship named in honor of the late Māori filmmaker Merata Mita, New Zealand’s first Indigenous female filmmaker. The Fellowship honoree will be announced Monday, January 22nd.

Additional Fellows

These Fellows are being supported with grants and fellowships from other programs within Sundance Institute and the Native American and Indigenous Program.

Zack Khalil (Ojibway), The Art of Nonfiction Fellowship

Adam Shingwak Khalil (Ojibway), The Art of Nonfiction Fellowship

Razelle Benally (Diné/Lakota), Feature Film Development Fellowship

Philip Sanchez (San Felipe Pueblo), Rauschenberg Fellowship, Sundance Documentary Film Program

Sky Bruno (Kanaka Maoli), Ignite Fellowship


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

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