2011 Retrospective: August
Kenny Dobbs is defying the odds—and gravity—to stand as an uplifting example for Native youth everywhere. He has overcome his violent and drug-ridden past to become one of the world’s most spectacular dunkers and now serves as a great ambassador for children and families striving for a better life.
For centuries, Indigenous Peoples were displayed around the globe as novelties, objects of wonder and ridicule and brutal lessons in imperialism. This practice was known as the “human safari,” and it’s still happening today—just ask the Jarawa, a group that lives on India’s Andaman Island.
The Inuit of Quebec will receive $3 million from the provincial government for harm caused to their way of life by the slaughter of hundreds of sled dogs in the 1950s and 1960s, according to an agreement signed on August 8 by Jean Charest, premier of Quebec that acknowledges that the killing of the Inuit’s primary means of transportation stripped them of their ability to hunt, trap and fish. During the 1950s and 1960s, Canadian authorities killed the sled dogs of 14 Nunavik communities—in some cases a village’s entire population of dogs—ostensibly for health and safety reasons.
The Taku River Tlingit First Nation and the province of British Columbia have reached an agreement that will allow for both Native stewardship of ancestral lands and responsible economic development in partnership with industry. The Atlin Taku Land Use Plan, which comes after years of strife between the Tlingit and the province, is being hailed by aboriginal leaders, Canadian authorities, the mining industry and even environmental groups as potentially precedent-setting and a model for other First Nations.
The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation is eager to begin processing oil from the Bakken Formation, a shale rock strata covering parts of Montana, North Dakota and Canada, reported the Grand Forks Herald. The tribe’s reservation in western North Dakota sits in the epicenter of the expanding oil-bearing hot spot. Today, more than 350 producing oil wells dot the reservation landscape.
“Wall Street was invented to keep certain people out. That wall is gone, and we are back,” said Dennis Smith, a co-founder of NativeOne Institutional Trading, on his way to ring the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) floor. The event marked the firm officially becoming the first American Indian–owned NYSE member firm. The room filled with applause when NativeOne’s co-founders and tribal representatives rang the closing bell.
Most people know about the thrilling accomplishments of the heroic Navajo Code Talkers, but few know that members of many tribes in all branches of the military helped win both World Wars for the Allies by serving bravely—and in secret—as code talkers.
Large-scale mining is coming to Alaska’s Bristol Bay and billions in profits are up for grabs. Many environmentalists feel this is rolling the dice, and the stakes include one of the world’s most breathtaking chunks of wilderness, an area that is the ancestral home of many Indigenous Peoples.
Leaders of the Navajo and Oneida Nations are launching a program to get all Native leaders to pull together on the major indigenous issues.
Rather than write a book about ancestral Hopi villages and migration patterns, associate professor of anthropology and sociology at the University of Redlands, Wes Bernardini, has been working with the university and the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office on mapping software, letting users travel through 3-D reconstructions of 32 Hopi villages. Esri’s ArcGIS Explorer software is an interactive tool allowing users to explore Hopi villages that used to stretch from what would eventually become Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona south to Central America.
An NCAA policy issued in 2005 targeted about 20 schools with Native American nicknames, including the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux. The school has until August 15 to retire the mascot deemed “offensive” by the NCAA.
A School of Their Own
Mapuche students in Chile have pushed for the founding of their own university, with a focus on indigenous knowledge and history to the attention of the entire nation, and have garnered support from certain Chilean leaders and government officials. Activists from the Mapuche Federation of Students occupied an abandoned school building in the city of Temuco on two occasions in mid-July and were removed by soldiers within a day of each occupation, but their publicized action led them to meetings with some of the top officials of the Chilean government.
A mix of racism and bigotry against American Indians, Palestinians, Muslims, Jews, gay people and others is the backdrop to a mass rally billed as “A National Day of Prayer” that will take place in Texas the first weekend in August. Texas governor and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry initiated the event, which is named “The Response: A Call to Pray” on its website. The event, featuring some of the most prominent figures of the Christian Right, will take place at Reliant Stadium in Houston, which seats more than 71,000 people.
—Click here if you missed our January 2011 retrospective.
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—Click here if you missed our July 2011 retrospective.