Feed aggregator

Indigenous-designed blanket shares history and meaningful gift giving

CBC ABORIGINAL NEWS - June 24, 2019 - 8:00am

A Siksika family-owned business incorporates Blackfoot history to create a ceremonial blanket that's turning heads

Categories: CANADA

Supreme Court makes Indian Country wait for decision in closely-watched case

INDIANZ.COM - June 24, 2019 - 7:55am
Is the nation's highest court on Indian time? It sure looks like it, judging by the wait for a decision in a highly-anticipated case.

Treaties, teaching, and reconciliation: What's on the agenda for the Dehcho Assembly

CBC ABORIGINAL NEWS - June 24, 2019 - 7:00am
Gladys Norwegian, chief of Jean Marie River First Nation

Grand Chief Gladys Norwegian says the Dehcho First Nations have much to discuss in their annual assembly, including Treaty 11.

Categories: CANADA

Unwelcome at Home: Borders challenge Haudenosaunee identity, sovereignty

INDIAN COUNTRY MEDIA NETWORK - June 24, 2019 - 7:00am

Indigenous people who live along the Canadian-American border find it hard to cross as officials often refuse to recognize the Haudenosaunee passport


Unwelcome at Home: Borders challenge Haudenosaunee identity, sovereignty

INDIAN COUNTRY MEDIA NETWORK - June 24, 2019 - 7:00am

Indigenous people who live along the Canadian-American border find it hard to cross as officials often refuse to recognize the Haudenosaunee passport


'It was powerful': Cree babies are 1st to be born through Chisasibi midwifery program

CBC ABORIGINAL NEWS - June 24, 2019 - 6:00am
Snowboy family

For Louisa Snowboy, giving birth in Chisasibi meant being back in her own bed, with her healthy newborn and her older children, just four hours after giving birth — rather than having to stay for several weeks in a town almost 1,000 kilometres from home.

Categories: CANADA

Colville Tribes weigh possible casino on ancestral territory

INDIANZ.COM (gaming) - June 24, 2019 - 4:15am
The Colville Tribes are looking to work with local governments as they pursue economic development options in Washington state.

Mescalero Apache Tribe enters into partnership for sports betting

INDIANZ.COM (gaming) - June 24, 2019 - 3:32am
The Mescalero Apache Tribe is joining other Indian nations in New Mexico in offering sports betting.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation reopens most of casino after historic flooding

INDIANZ.COM (gaming) - June 24, 2019 - 3:02am
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation welcomed visitors back to its flagship gaming facility nearly a month after being shut down.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin: America deserves a better trade deal

INDIANZ.COM - June 24, 2019 - 2:13am
Every day we delay approving the agreement, we hurt American farmers, ranchers, workers, manufacturers, and businesses.

Rep. Tom Cole: Democrats go too far with demands for Trump documents

INDIANZ.COM - June 24, 2019 - 1:21am
When you litigate, it indeed becomes much harder to legislate.

US Navy to Name Newest Rescue Ship the ‘Cherokee Nation’

NATIVE KNOT - June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The U.S. Navy is naming its newest rescue ship the “Cherokee Nation” to honor the service and contributions the Cherokee people have made to the Navy and Marine Corps.

The ship is expected to be built in July 2021.

“The Cherokee Nation is extremely honored that the U.S. Navy is recognizing our tribal nation and the generations of Cherokee men and women who have bravely and humbly sacrificed for our freedom today,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Our Cherokee people have contributed to every major battle and war ever fought in this country and continue to serve in the Armed Forces in some of the highest rates per ethnicity. Cherokees are a strong, resilient people, and we are privileged to have a U.S. ship at sea that reflects both our country and tribe’s history and values.”

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer announced on Thursday the newest $64.8 million contract award for the towing, salvage and rescue ship, named the Cherokee Nation.

The ship will serve as an open ocean towing vessel and will additionally support salvage operations and submarine rescue missions. 

According to the U.S. Navy, this is the fifth U.S. ship to be named in honor of the Cherokee people. Previous ships include:

  • USS Cherokee (1859), a blockade gunboat during the American Civil War

  • USS Cherokee (SP-1104), a steam yacht built in 1903 and commissioned as a patrol ship in the Atlantic during World War I

  • USS Cherokee (SP-458), built in 1891 but commissioned as a tug during World War I

  • USS Cherokee (AT-66), a World War II-era tug

Thousands of Cherokee Nation citizens served in the Navy, including the first Native American to graduate from the Naval Academy, Joseph James “Jocko” Clark. Clark went on to command the USS Suwannee and USS Yorktown during the Battle of Midway in World War II.

For more about the Navy ship, visit www.navy.mil/local/secnav/.


EC certifies vote, determine runoff order

NATIVE KNOT - June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission on June 3 certified vote counts for the June 1 general election, then confirmed those race outcomes on June 20.

A total of 13,870 of the tribe’s 72,781 registered voters cast ballots for a 19.06 percent turnout, according to the EC.

The official election report is as follows:

Principal Chief
Chuck Hoskin Jr.:7,933 (57.51 percent)
Dick Lay: 3,856 (27.95 percent)
David Walkingstick (disqualified): 2,006 (14.54 percent)

Deputy Chief
Bryan Warner: 8,060 (58.88 percent)
Meredith Frailey: 5,630 (41.12 percent)

District 1
Rex Jordan: 672 (57.88 percent)
Ryan Sierra: 489 (42.12 percent)

District 3
Wes Nofire: 310 (29.47 percent)
Debra Proctor: 306 (29.09 percent)
Billy Flint: 124 (11.79 percent)
RJ Robbins: 113 (10.74 percent)
Jim Cosby: 103 (9.79 percent)
Larry Dean Pritchett: 79 (7.51 percent)
Brandon Girty: 17 (1.62 percent)

District 6
Daryl Legg: 794 (56.71 percent)
Gary Trad Lattimore: 466 (33.29 percent)
Ron Goff: 140 (10 percent)

District 8
Shawn Crittenden: 603 (83.4 percent)
Ralph F. Keen II: 80 (11.07 percent)
Jodie Fishinghawk (disqualified): 40 (5.53 percent)

District 12
Dora L. Smith Patzkowski: 215 (32.92 percent)
Phyllis Lay: 197 (30.17 percent)
Todd M. Branstetter: 150 (22.97 percent)
Don Scott: 91 (13.94 percent)

District 14
Keith Austin: 579 (56.82 percent)
Cara Cowan Watts: 440 (43.18 percent)

Julia Coates: 994 (44.75 percent)
Johnny Jack Kidwell: 679 (30.57 percent)
Steve Adair: 371 (16.70 percent)
Pamela Fox: 143 (6.44 percent)
Wanda Hatfield (disqualified): 34 (1.53 percent)

Runoff election
Three races will be decided July 27 in a runoff election for Dist. 3, 12 and an At-Large seat.

The top two vote-getters in Dist. 3’s seven-candidate race were Debra Proctor with 29.09 percent and Wes Nofire with 29.47 percent. Proctor will be listed first on the ballot, then Nofire based on a random draw for positioning by the EC on June 20. The winner will replace David Walkingstick, who will term out after having served eight years in office.

In Dist. 12, there were four candidates. Phyllis Lay and Dora L. Smith Patzkowski took the top spots with 32.92 percent and 30.17 percent, respectively. Based on the ballot draw, Patzkowski will be listed first. The victor will replace Lay’s husband, Dick Lay, who is terming out after eight years in office.

The At-Large seat drew five candidates, one of which, incumbent Wanda Hatfield, was disqualified prior to the June 1 general election. Johnny Jack Kidwell, with 30.57 percent of the vote, and Julia Coates, with 44.75 percent, will face off in the runoff election. Coates will be listed first on the ballot.

The EC planned to have an estimated 5,000 absentee ballots printed June 20, then mail them on June 24-25.

Voters who received an absentee ballot for the general election will be sent an absentee ballot for the runoff, according to the EC. For those who did not receive an absentee ballot for the general election, the deadline to request one was June 17.

All winning candidates will take their oaths of office on Aug. 14.

Runoff Precincts

District 3
Sequoyah High School Cafeteria
17091 S. Muskogee Ave., Tahlequah

Keys Community Building
19083 E. 840 Road, Park Hill

District 12
NO WE TA CN Community Center
1020 Lenape Drive, Nowata 

Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation Keeler Heights
1003 S. Virginia Ave., Bartlesville

VFW Post 7977
133169 N. Cincinnati Ave., Skiatook


Remember the Removal Bike Ride Cyclists Complete 950-mile Memorial Ride

NATIVE KNOT - June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Twenty-one cyclists from 2019 Remember the Removal Bike Ride arrived in Tahlequah Thursday, finishing their three-week journey that retraced the northern route of the Trail of Tears.

The ride began June 2 in New Echota, Georgia, the former capital of the Cherokee Nation before forced removal to present-day Oklahoma. Cyclists from the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians rode nearly 950 miles through portions of seven states.

The Cherokee Nation held a return ceremony at the tribe’s Cherokee National Peace Pavilion in historic downtown Tahlequah on Thursday, where tribal leaders, friends, and family gathered to welcome the returning cyclists.

“These Cherokee men and women have honored our ancestors by riding hundreds and hundreds of miles, from New Echota, Georgia, to the Cherokee Nation capital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Along the way they have formed new bonds with fellow Cherokees, gained a deeper understanding of what their ancestors endured, and faced their own personal adversities – only to defeat them, because that’s what Cherokees do. I am so proud of 2019 Remember the Removal cyclists and what they have accomplished.

This year marked the 35th anniversary of the inaugural Remember the Removal Bike Ride, which was held in 1984. In honor of that anniversary and to commemorate the 180th anniversary of the end of the Trail of Tears, governors in Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma issued proclamations declaring it “Trail of Tears Remembrance Week” as cyclists made the trek through their respective states. Oklahoma Secretary of Native American Affairs Lisa Billy presented Oklahoma’s proclamation during the return ceremony on behalf of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

After the original ride in 1984, the leadership program resumed in 2009. Each year, cyclists learn about Cherokee history, language and culture while gaining a deeper understanding of the hardships faced by their ancestors who walked the Trail of Tears.

“Coming home was probably one of the most monumental moments of the ride,” said Ashley Hunnicutt, a Cherokee Nation citizen from Tahlequah. “I appreciate home more than I ever have. I was just overwhelmed with gratitude and love and peace to be here. The ride was life-changing. I am a whole new person, and I’m ready to be here to share what I’ve learned with my family and my friends and the people of my community. Hopefully, that will empower them to share that with others, and our ancestors’ legacy will continue to live on.”

During the journey from Georgia to Oklahoma, Remember the Removal Bike Ride participants visited historical landmarks that were important to Cherokee people, including Blythe Ferry in Tennessee, which was the last part of the Cherokee homeland walked by Cherokee ancestors before they began their journey into Indian Territory. Cyclists also visited Mantle Rock in Kentucky, which provided shelter to many Cherokees as they waited for safe passage across the frozen Ohio River.

Of the estimated 16,000 Cherokees forced to make the Trail of Tears journey to Indian Territory 180 years ago, around 4,000 died due to exposure to the elements, starvation, and disease.

2019 Remember the Removal Bike Ride cyclists:

Cherokee Nation:

Brooke Bailey, Lost City

Joshua Chavez, Tahlequah

Marie Eubanks, Rocky Mountain

Kayli Gonzales, Welling

Shadow Hardbarger, Marble City

Elizabeth Hummingbird, Peavine

Ashley Hunnicutt, Tahlequah

Destiny Matthews, Watts

Sydnie Pierce, Locust Grove

Steven Shade, Briggs

Kevin Stretch, Fort Gibson

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians:

Tonya Carroll, Birdtown community, N.C.

Dre Crowe, Big Y community, N.C.

Zach Goings, Birdtown community, N.C.

Manuel Hernandez, Big Y community, N.C.

Danielle Murray, Painttown community, N.C.

Keyonna Owle, Birdtown community, N.C.

Micah Swimmer, Painttown community, N.C.

Skye Tafoya, Wolftown community, N.C.

Monica Wildcatt, Wolftown community, N.C.

Blythe Winchester, Wolftown community, N.C.

The 2019 Remember the Removal Bike Ride is chronicled on Facebook at www.facebook.com/removal.ride and on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #RememberTheRemoval, #RTR2019 and #RTR35.


Run Strong: A Partnership with Fox River

NATIVE KNOT - June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

Running Strong is proud to announce that we have partnered with Fox River Mills® to launch the Run Strong by Fox River® sock line.

Inspired by our National Spokesperson, co-founder and Olympic Gold medalist Billy Mills, Run Strong socks are high quality running socks that support Running Strong's work building a new generation of Native American leaders who demonstrate healthy lifestyles, inspire youth, preserve their cultures, and celebrate their identities. 

$1 of every pair sold is donated to Running Strong and goes back into strengthening Native communities. 

Run Strong socks are made from 37.5® technical fiber to regulate temperature. These socks will support your run and will help lift up Native youth, just like Billy has since 1964.

"The partnership between Running Strong and Fox River is exciting. It's powerful. This is a product that represents the sacredness of my Lakota culture." -Billy Mills



NAJA selects Trahant as 2019 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient

NATIVE KNOT - June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

NORMAN, Okla. — The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) will recognize Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) as an awardee during the 2019 National Native Media Conference in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

NAJA selected Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) as the 2019 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient.

The award honors an individual who has made a lasting impact on media to the benefit of Indigenous communities and is given jointly by the Native American Journalists Association and the Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University to celebrate responsible storytelling and journalism in Indian Country.

The award honors an individual who has made a lasting impact on media to the benefit of Indigenous communities and is given jointly by the Native American Journalists Association and the Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University to celebrate responsible storytelling and journalism in Indian Country.

The award also includes a $5,000 cash prize and an invitation to the recipient to speak with Medill faculty and students on campus in Evanston, Ill., to further advance the representation of Indigenous journalists in mainstream media.

Trahant’s contributions will be highlighted during the award presentation ceremony set for Monday, Sept. 16 from 12-2 p.m. in coordination with the NAJA Membership Luncheon during the 2019 National Native Media Conference at Mystic Lake Center Sept. 15-18 in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

Conference attendees must have a ticket to attend this event. NAJA members may RSVP for free. Tickets are available for $50 each for non-members and may be purchased online in advance or on-site at the registration desk (limited availability).

His nomination was reviewed and selected by the NAJA-Medill Selection Committee based on the following award criteria:

  • Body of journalistic work during a career

  • Contribution to society through outstanding journalism

  • Recognition and respect from peers and community

  • Significant contributions to the advancement of Native Americans in the field of journalism

  • Commitment to NAJA and its values such as free press, accurate representation of Indigenous communities in media, etc.

Trahant is the editor of Indian Country Today (ICT). He reflected on the first tribal editor, Elias Boudinot (Cherokee), the namesake for another of NAJA’s top awards when reflecting on the standard for Indigenous journalism.

“[Boudinot] described his paper as ‘a vehicle of Indian intelligence.’ Even though the ink has been replaced by pixels; the task remains the same – to publish an informative daily account that’s comprehensive and adds context to the stories missing from the mainstream media.

“We have so many stories to tell. Our mission is simple but important: Solid, factual reporting. Great writing. Photography that inspires and records. Provide a real service to readers across Indian Country’s digital landscape,” Trahant said.

Trahant has exemplified this standard during his career, which includes his past work as editorial page editor of ‘The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’ and employment with the ‘Arizona Republic,’ ‘Salt Lake Tribune,’ ‘Seattle Times,’ ‘Navajo Times Today,’ and ‘Sho-Ban News.’

He has been a reporter for the PBS ‘Frontline’ series, publishing ‘The Silence,’ which detailed the sexual abuse by priests in an Alaska Native village.

Trahant is known for his election reporting in Indian Country, developing the first comprehensive database of American Indians and Alaska Natives running for office. His research has been cited in publications ranging from ‘The New York Times’ to ‘The Economist’ and most recently, ‘Teen Vogue.’

During the 2018 Election, Trahant launched a journalism initiative and as a result, more than 40 Native media professionals conducted the first ever live coverage of election night.

Six hours of TV programming was produced at the First Nations Experience | FNX studios in California and viewers were able to get reports about the dozens of Native candidates running for office during this election, which included the first two Native American women voted into Congress.

Trahant was recently elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been a professor at the University of North Dakota, the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Idaho and the University of Colorado.

He moderates his blog, www.trahantreports.com, and reports on events and trends on Facebook, Twitter (@TrahantReports) and social media.

He does a weekly commentary for ‘Native Voice One’ and is chair of the board of directors for ‘Vision Maker Media,’ which works with Native producers to develop, produce and distribute education telecommunications programs for all media, including public TV and radio.

Trahant was appointed to lead ICT as a digital enterprise on March 1, 2018, after the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) took ownership of the outlet the month before. In May 2019, ICT assumed a new legal structure and board of directors under the ownership of the non-profit arm of NCAI.

Trahant explained how this will support the outlet’s operational autonomy, a mission in line with the highest values of NAJA.

“The structure of a company does two things. First: It sets us on course as an independent, non-profit media enterprise. And second, it sets in place a governing structure to protect that independence,” Trahant said.

This year, ICT completed the first investigative series on #MeToo, begun opening a newsroom on the campus of Arizona State University and developed a national news program for PBS stations.


FEMA Declares Public Assistance Disaster for the Oglala Sioux Tribe

NATIVE KNOT - June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

U.S. Government Grants Tribal Request for Federal Disaster Declaration Two Months After Uncharacteristic Winter Storm Flooding on Pine Ridge Reservation


PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced yesterday that the White House has declared a major public assistance disaster for the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

“We are grateful that FEMA has responded to our dire situation,” said Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner. “We are very much eager to use this aid to begin our path out of poverty. We find ourselves increasingly pummeled by unprecedented weather events, and now more than ever, it’s critical that the federal government partner with tribal nations and other vulnerable communities. There must be a timely response to these climate-related disasters.”

The Midwest is experiencing a record year for precipitation in 2019, and Pine Ridge has already been hit especially hard by two “bomb cyclones” — severe weather systems which brought massive flooding to the rural reservation.

In mid-March, Winter Storm Ulmer wrought more than $10 million in devastation to Pine Ridge. Two weeks later, Winter Storm Wesley followed in Ulmer’s wake, increasing damages and delaying flood relief efforts across the reservation’s near 3,500-square-mile expanse, an area larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

Bear Runner said that his government requested the public assistance disaster declaration — which provides aid specifically to repair damage to roads, water systems, bridges, culverts, public housing, and other publicly shared infrastructure — several weeks ago.

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council chose to appeal directly to FEMA for public assistance disaster relief rather than joining with the State of South Dakota, which recently received a similar disaster declaration from the White House.

Chase Iron Eyes, public relations director for President Bear Runner, explained that, if somewhat risky, the decision to go it alone was also important. “Seeking this declaration is an expression of the inherent sovereign status of the Oglala Sioux Tribe,” Iron Eyes said. “And now we have the crucial experience in navigating the logistics of the aid process.”

According to tribal officials, this is the first time FEMA has granted a federal disaster declaration directly to the Oglala Sioux Tribe independent of the State of South Dakota.

“Our government has spent hundreds of thousands of scarce dollars in recent weeks to professionalize our emergency and disaster response,” Iron Eyes continued. “We hired FEMA experts, grant writers, tradesmen, and other skilled laborers to increase the chance of a positive outcome in our appeal for federal support. FEMA neglected our tribal nation last year when a devastating hail storm hit in July. We are pleased that now we’ll be able to fund adequate repairs for the shared benefit of all our people.”

The public assistance declaration follows on the heels of FEMA’s individual assistance declaration for the State of South Dakota on June 8. That declaration, which included Pine Ridge, is providing funds only to repair the private property.

FEMA has established a disaster recovery center in Pine Ridge, which has processed more than 300 registrations by private home and property owners for individual assistance. Tribal officials said they expect that number to grow to approximately 1,500 claims.

“We have much to do,” Bear Runner said. “I’m looking forward to making sure that every family in every one of our communities comes out of this emergency with every opportunity for an improved quality of life.”


‘We’re All Related’: Treaty Days Festival Celebrates the Homecoming

NATIVE KNOT - June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

SHIPROCK, N.M. — The Treaty Days Festival represents the “the return home,” says artist Candace Williams, whose painting with that title depicts the Long Walk home that began on June 18, 1868.

“The treaty day celebration is basically a reflection of strength, courage, and how we stand as a nation,” said Williams. “We can always look back on that, not to dwell on it, but to remember where we come from. It’s all about strength. Everybody has that inner strength.”

Held last weekend at the Healing Circle Wellness Center grounds, where Williams and other artists showcased their work, the festival was intended to celebrate the joy of that return.

From lectures to dances, art demonstrations, singing and poetry readings, participants shared the happiness of Navajos returning home in 1868, after an extended period of suffering and trauma.

Event Coordinator Anthony Lee said that the presenters delved into what it would have felt like for the people that walked out of Ft. Sumner.

“We share the history of how our relatives felt and the joy of ‘We’re going home!” exclaimed Lee. “That’s what we celebrate.”


Ancestral guided wellness: A way of life for our ancestors, will heal our bodies

NATIVE KNOT - June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

As Native people, we are very aware that the colonization of America and being stripped of our foodways was the beginning of our decline in health; it's important to utilize the teachings of our ancestors to counter this says, Donell Barlow

In the United States, we live in a society of consistent dieters. The more modernized and advanced we have become, the further we have disconnected from nature and real food. With the billion-dollar industry of mass processed food, along with popular fad diets created to slim down the physical body without acknowledging the mind, body, and spirit connection.

I have been working as a Certified Holistic Health Coach for the past seven years, with a broad range of individuals of all ages, families, and Native American communities. The common theme seems to be, not understanding our relationship to food. Our family unit and environment formed our initial connection to food, whether it was abundant or was scarce, processed or whole. Our traditional foods to be celebrated and home-cooked, or primarily processed.

As Native people, we are very aware that the colonization of America and being stripped of our foodways was the beginning of our decline in health. Our traditional foods provided the medicine and an abundance of nutrients that kept us thriving with vitality. The ceremonies around our foods prepared us to receive this medicine with and sacred understanding.

“Before eating, always take time to thank the food”

  -Arapaho Proverb

Dr. Gabriel Cousen later defined this intimate connection to our food in his book Conscious Eating. He makes some great statements in regard to his methodology when relating to the body as a whole and considering the connection of what we eat and how it affects our behavior. “ Negativity is often stored in excess fat as blocked energy, when we let go of such forms of negativity as self-loathing, guilt, grief, depression, loneliness, helplessness, anger, fear of others, fear of life, self-pity, blame, and unconscious death urges, this negative, stored energy leaves often leaves the body."

There is significant research to prove that what we eat affects our mind, mood, and behavior. Our stomach is responsible for at least seventy percent of our immune system. It has it's own working central nervous system that works like a second brain which communicates via chemical messages with our primary brain. These messages can come in many forms such as feeling depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, or in many cases bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, and low energy. 

In our culture, these important messages of discomfort are being ignored and treated with an excessive amount of over the counter and prescription medications that only treat the symptoms. This allows the individual to continue poor eating habits while increasing the risk of other health-related ailments to take shape. As a result, the gut weakens and can allow harmful bacteria, or partially undigested food into our bloodstream. This inflammation can travel to any part of our bodies. When the inflammation goes into our joints we feel the effects of arthritis. When it goes into our lungs, we experience worsened asthmatic symptoms. Our brain is affected by this inflammation with increased risk factors such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and dementia, which is also referred to as Type 3 diabetes. The sicker we become the more we rely on prescription medication, with harmful side effects, thus trapping is in a toxic cycle. Medication is not Medicine.

An example of a popular diet craze is the Keto, which is the most popular diet craze currently in our nation and in Indian country. This diet's foundation includes up to eighty percent healthy fats as a daily intake, which is meant to become your main source of fuel. By eliminating carbohydrates for several days your body goes into a state of ketosis. The body burns fat at a higher rate, which can result in significant weight loss and a steady supply of energy. Keto advises eliminating all forms of sugar, grains, legumes, below ground vegetables, and processed food.

The downside of the keto diet is the elimination of a variety of healthful foods that our ancestors ate. While sugar is the number one cause of inflammation, and the most addictive drug on the planet, honey can be very beneficial for the body, especially when sourced locally. Honey helps us treat allergies, can aid cough and give us natural energy. Grains are not created equal and some can hinder proper digestion, others are full of protein, fiber, and minerals. If our ancestors ate these grains, legumes, below ground vegetables, and higher carbohydrate nuts our bodies will recognize these foods as medicine.

Another concern I have for going full keto-diet is the financial investment. For many communities with limited resources, this is not a feasible option. The keto-diet advises eating only grass-fed beef, organ meats, cage-free eggs, expensive oils and sources of fat. While those protein options are ideal, the affordability and accessibility are only available to higher income demographics or those that are able to hunt. As a result, I see many individuals loading up on poor quality meat that is full of hormones. These animals are sick and their quality of life is poor. That negative energy is then transferred onto the consumer, leaving them increased anxiety, depression, and low-vibrational food. Factory farms are also responsible for the largest carbon imprint on the planet. We do not need to desecrate any more sacred land of our Indigenous relatives to meet the demands of these factories. I am not promoting a vegetarian diet, but I am insisting cutting meat out a few days a week would greatly reduce our carbon imprint. Get creative and utilize quality grains, legumes, and nut sources for protein sources. 

Decolonizing our diet and getting back to our traditional foods is one major component to restore balance in our health and overall and wellness. As Native people, we still have the largest number of diabetes in the country, with the numbers of our youth continuing to increase. We have to take our power back and make the change we wish to see for our people and for future generations. Our ancestors always understood the mind, body, and spirit connection and incorporated forms of self-care as just a part of their daily rituals. They ate in harmony with the seasons, which in today's world would greatly reduce our carbon imprint, and as Indigenous people are something to consider.

I recount my own personal experiences and relationship to food in my book “Medicine Tracks, A Memoir". I was raised by my single father since the age of seven, in the city, and my diet consisted of mostly processed food. My father was Ottawa, Otter clan and my mother was Yurok. I experienced traditional foods only when I visited my grandparents, and I took for granted those specially prepared meals. Years of poor eating left me consistent discomfort and eventually affected my quality of life. Modern medicine offered me so-called specialists that didn’t listen or ask "What are you eating?". The doctors advised mild prescriptions that only treated the symptoms temporarily. After a year of little to no progress, I realized it was time to do the work and invest in my nutrition. I was responsible to make any changes my body asked for. 

Keeping our inflammation in check is key to maintaining our overall health and wellness, along with incorporating some form of self-care into our daily rituals. With ninety percent of doctor visits being attributed to poor stress management, studies are showing that while a healthy diet and physical movement are not the most crucial. Stress management is the deciding factor to keep the body running efficiently.

When our bodies are in a constant state of stress, resources that are meant to fight off harmful pathogens and bacteria are depleted. When our bodies consistently release stress hormones like cortisol, inflammation can occur and weaken the entire immune system allowing harmful symptoms to manifest in the body. 

To combat this, I recommend eight forms of Self-care in my Health Coaching. Food as Medicine, Nature Medicine, Spirituality/Mindfulness, Physical movement, Creativity, Relationships, Journaling, Quality Sleep

How we manage our stress makes a huge impact not just on our quality of life, but our overall health and disease prevention. I had to learn the hard way and did not listen to my body’s signals telling me to slow down. This disconnection manifested into a series of injuries refusing to heal, including an emergency trip to the hospital. It was very unexpected considering on paper and in person, I was in excellent health.

In my memoir, I share my story of learning these lessons the hard way. “At this point, my leg had been injured for almost two solid years, with no running, fancy dancing, or any other high-impact cardio movements. I had come to the conclusion it would heal itself when I had connected my spirit in a way I had never known before. I had given it ample time to make a comeback and tried everyone known therapy available to me. The only thing that I could deduce was that his trauma didn’t come from a physical plane that it was in fact, coming from my "pain body" defined by Eckhart Tolle as a collective manifestation of pain accumulating your entire life. This stemmed from the past trauma or inherited family history that had left an imprint inside of my cells. Mine, in particular, had continued to feed on past emotions I had not yet released." 

Understanding our relationship to food is a process, and takes patience to recognize the triggers, and the tangled emotions tied to consuming certain foods. In my health coaching practice, I encourage my clients to journal about the foods they are eating and how they are feeling emotionally throughout the day. This exercise is a great way to reflect and understand what your body is telling you, and how to manage those messages with clear intent. It is important to be conscious of your role in the improvement and management of your own overall health and wellness.

As Indigenous people, we do not need to seek outside sources to understand our relationship to food. Imagine the impact it would make to have a diet influenced by reducing our carbon imprint as opposed to just our weight on the scale. Imagine if we stopped supporting these corporations that supply the majority of processed food that offers poor nutrition and creates tons upon tons of waste. It is estimated that Nestle contributes eight million tons of plastic into our oceans each year. Nestle is also responsible for extracting millions of liters of water daily from the treaty lands of the Six Nations in Ontario. Meanwhile, the Indigenous residents have no access to clean water and have to travel a great distance to buy bottled water for everyday use. This is unacceptable and they have the resources to do better for their consumers, the Indigenous communities they negatively impacting, and the planet.

Understand these fad diets will continue to only work for a period of time, as they will never address the bigger picture and influence only our physical bodies. I advise you to forage and hunt when you can, grow food if it's an option, and support your local farmer's markets. This makes the best possible food more accessible and is setting the standard for a brighter future for the next generations. Honor several forms of self-care to manage your stress and make it a priority. Just as our historical trauma can be passed onto our children our current stress acts in the same manner. What is required of us is to make some effort and utilize the teachings of our ancestors? This will take time and patience but we have nothing to lose and so much to gain. 

Donell Barlow is Yurok and an enrolled member of the Ottawa tribe, Otter Clan. She currently resides in Spokane, WA working as a certified Holistic Health Coach, yoga teacher, hairdresser, and author. Her deep passion for working with the Native Youth utilizing traditional foods as medicine has been at the forefront for most of her work. Her current projects and past work will be featured in the current issue of Where Women Create Work available nationwide. Please visit donellbarlow.com for more information including recipes, cooking videos, and contact information. 


Indigenous People & Allies Tell Congress to Declare a Climate Emergency

NATIVE KNOT - June 24, 2019 - 1:00am

BERKELEY, Calif. — A group of Indigenous activists is telling Congress it is time to declare an emergency on the climate.

Here is a press release sent by Pennie Opal Plant of Idle No More SF Bay:

We are in a climate and ecological emergency. We urgently need a massive effort to reverse global warming and protect humanity and the natural world from collapse. It’s time for Congress to join the United Kingdom and nearly 600 cities around the world in telling the truth about the climate.  Today is the release of the petition to demand that Congress declare a climate emergency.

In order to avert the worsening climate impacts, the United States must mobilize people, resources, and companies on a scale larger than that of World War II to reverse global warming and prevent catastrophe. This must be a wide-scale, inclusive and equitable transformation and rebuilding of our society to one based on renewable energy, employment, and economic opportunity.

Idle No More SF Bay, a group of Native Americans and allies working on climate justice in the Bay Area, has joined with a coalition of groups including Movement Rights, The Climate Mobilization, Extinction Rebellion, Earth Uprising, Mothers Out Front and the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma to petition Congress to Declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency.

“We must recognize that, while climate chaos affects the living environment of all people, certain communities have suffered much more damage than others. These are the communities affected by fossil fuel extraction, transport, refining as well as other extractive industries”, said Alison Ehara-Brown, Cofounder of Idle No More SF Bay, “These communities are mostly indigenous tribal communities, urban people of color communities and rural communities. The job of detoxifying land and air and water must prioritize reparations for the cleaning up of these hardest hit communities so they are safe for the generations to come.”

The Climate Emergency Petition to Congress includes:

  • Democratically transition to zero greenhouse gas emissions and zero fossil fuel economy in ten years or less.


  • This must be a just transition for workers and frontline communities.


  • Hold a national People’s Assembly on the climate emergency


  • Protect the entire web of life by working to end the sixth mass extinction. Protection of biodiversity is critical to our survival.


  • Prioritize funding to repair the damage caused by fossil fuel and other extractive industries, so that Indigenous tribal communities, communities of color, and rural communities hit hardest by environmental injustice can have clean land, air, and water.


  • Declare a Climate Emergency and protect all Americans, all humanity, and all living things, so that we can be safe for generations to come!

The petition can be seen at www.climateemergency.us.

“We encourage everyone concerned about the future of life on Earth and future generations to sign the petition and ask their members of Congress to join us for a survivable future”, said Pennie Opal Plant, Cofounder of Idle No More SF Bay and Movement Rights, “We have already lost so much, thousands of species, lives, homes, and more to climate chaos.  The time to act is now.  Join us.”



Subscribe to Cleveland American Indian Movement aggregator