2011 Retrospective: October
Jacoby Ellsbury, the first Major League Baseball player of Navajo descent and a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, was named the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year. In 2011, the center fielder for the Boston Red Sox hit .321 and led the league with 364 total bases, recovering from a 2010 season in which he played only 18 games due to multiple injuries.
Following the original election day of June 25, the bid to become Cherokee Nation Principal Chief saw many recounts and appeals. But on October 19, 12-year councilman Bill John Baker was sworn in, taking over from incumbent Chad “Corntassel” Smith.
This fall, a mainstream cartoon was translated into a Native language. Public broadcasting stations in North Dakota and South Dakota presented Math?ó Waú?šila Thiwáhe, or The Compassionate Bear Family—a Lakota version of the Berenstain Bears clan created by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
The second annual Bowhunter Cup belongs to the Iroquois Nationals after a thrilling 14-13 victory over Team USA. The win evens the match-up between these two powerhouse competitors, with Team USA capturing the first Bowhunter Cup in 2010, 13-11.
Romeo Saganash, who is the Canadian Member of Parliament for Abitibi–Baie-James–Nunavik–Eeyou, will run in the New Democratic Party’s election in March for party leadership. He hopes to fill the position that the legendary Jack Layton left vacant when he died of cancer on August 22.
Half a century ago, the Miss Indian Arizona competition was introduced during Indian Day activities at the Arizona State Fair. After years of languished sponsorship, the Miss Indian Arizona Association renewed the contest with a focus on academics and community service in 2000. In this 50th anniversary year, eight contestants vied for title honors and a first-place check of $4,000.
The annual fall whale hunting season in Barrow, Alaska, the United States’s northernmost city, got underway on October 8 when a crew of Inupiat shot and killed a 28-foot bowhead with an exploding harpoon. “Whaling is a sacred, spiritual method for us,” said Edward S. Itta, the mayor of Barrow. “This is the time of year the whole community looks forward to.” Although whale hunting is forbidden in the United States, several indigenous groups are allowed to hunt, including the Inupiat. Barrow’s quota this year is precisely 22 whales, which includes nine caught during the spring hunt. The Inupiat can only hunt the endangered bowhead, which numbers about 10,000 in Barrow.
After years of toil and wrangling, the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band has been officially created, giving Newfoundland’s more than 20,000 Mi’kmaq membership as status Indians with access to provincial and federal benefits. When all the membership numbers are in, this could well be the largest First Nations band in Canada, according to Mi’kmaq calculations. The creation marks the end of a process that started in 1989 when the Federation of Newfoundland Indians initiated an action in federal court to gain recognition eligibility under the Indian Act.
Halloween is a time when “Indian” costumes for men and women—anything from an Indian maiden to a tribal princess to an Indian warrior—proliferate. But the Ohio University student group Students Teaching About Racism in Society is taking issue with such stereotypes. The group has launched a “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” campaign to inform Halloween revelers that they commit cultural degradation when they dress in blackface, as a geisha, as an Indian or as an Arab terrorist. As the posters point out, “This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”
W. Ron Allen, a major voice for tribal sovereignty in Indian country, has been named Indian Gaming Advocate of the Year 2011 by the gaming magazine Casino Enterprise Management. Allen is the longtime chairman and chief executive officer of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.
In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia revoked the Federal Aviation Administration’s determination that the Cape Wind energy project would present no hazard to the 400,000 flights that travel over Massachusetts’s Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind, which the White House has pushed as America’s first offshore wind farm, would build 130 turbines across almost 50 square miles of Nantucket Sound, where they would tower 440 feet above ocean level. This would obliterate the Mashpee and Aquinnah Wampanoag tribes’ unimpeded view of the rising sun, ruining a crucial ceremony that is central to their identity and potentially destroying the ocean bed that was once dry land where their ancestors lived and died.
Nationally renowned tribal advocate LaDonna Harris, Comanche, was honored with this year’s Spirit of the Heard Award by the Heard Museum in Phoenix, which recognizes her as a singular community leader. “My life’s work has been taking traditional Indian values and making them work in contemporary society,” said Harris, president of Americans for Indian Opportunity.
Numerous Indian reservation post offices are on the list of 3,600-plus branches that the U.S. Postal Service wants to eliminate to help fix its multibillion-dollar annual deficits. The targeted sites include outlets in the Grand Canyon on the Havasupai Nation in Arizona, on the Coeur d’Alene’s Idaho reservation and in Standing Rock Sioux Tribe communities in South Dakota.
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