Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch

AP/Tom Williams

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation on March 21, 2017.

Tribes Support Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court Nod as Democrats Plan Filibuster

Native American Rights Fund: ‘[T]he conclusion drawn is that Indian tribes will likely have a better chance on their cases with Gorsuch on the court’

Exhibiting a split with Democratic allies in Congress, several tribes are going on record supporting Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to become an associate justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, despite coalescing Democratic plans in the Senate to filibuster him.

“Judge Gorsuch’s record includes a great number of decisions involving tribal governments, tribal people and tribal interests, and he has consistently demonstrated not only a sound understanding of Federal Indian Law principles, but a respect for our unique and closely held cultural values,” wrote Alvin Not Afraid Jr., chairman of the Crow Tribe Executive Branch, in a recent letter to Senate leadership.

“The importance of having a sitting Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court who understands Federal Indian law and treats tribes fairly cannot be overstated, since it is this Court that is all too often called upon to define, recognize, and in some cases, limit the rights we wield as separate sovereigns within the context of this great nation we all live under.”

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Added Mark Azure, president of the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council, in another recent letter to Senate leaders: “[W]hile we do not expect that Judge Gorsuch will agree with tribal interests on every issue, we also believe that he is immensely well qualified and we are confident that Judge Gorsuch is a mainstream, commonsense Westerner who will rule fairly on Indian country matters.”

Gorsuch, a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit since 2006, needs 60 votes to be confirmed, but Senate Democrats have expressed consternation about a variety of his past rulings, and they are especially concerned about whether he would rule to overturn Roe v. Wade. Democrats are widely angry, too, that Republicans did not allow a vote on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016 after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Many, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – a major tribal champion of late – have said they will vote against his nomination.

Because Gorsuch, 49, can’t get to 60 votes without Democratic support given the current makeup of the chamber, it is not likely under current Senate rules that he would be confirmed.

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority could overturn the requirement for 60 votes and choose to go for a simple majority of 51 votes. That action – known as the “nuclear option” – would overturn long-standing tradition in the Senate, but Republicans are willing to do so, they say, after Senate Democrats in 2013 when in control of the chamber changed the rules to make it easier to confirm federal appointees of Obama that had been stalled due to Republican opposition. President Donald Trump is supportive of the nuclear option in the case of Gorsuch.

Tribal allies of Gorsuch, including leaders with the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund, have made clear to the White House and Senate that they fully support Gorsuch because they see him as a pro-tribal sovereignty judge.

“When compared to Justice Scalia’s Indian law record, the conclusion drawn is that Indian tribes will likely have a better chance on their cases with Gorsuch on the court,” the Native American Rights Fund offered in a recent analysis of Gorsuch’s record.

Gorsuch himself pointed to his past work on tribal and Indian cases during his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee the week of March 20.

“Tribes are, as you know, sovereign nations,” Gorsuch said. “Our constitutional order affords this body considerable power in dealing with those sovereign nations by treaty and otherwise.”

He later added: “Our history with Native Americans is not the prettiest history.”

According to paperwork the judge submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as highlighted by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Gorsuch lists Yellowbear v. Lampert as one of the 10 most significant cases over which he has ruled. That case saw the judge uphold an American Indian prisoner’s right to access to a sweat lodge.

“Neil Gorsuch will be a fair Supreme Court Justice for all of America, including Indian country,” Hoeven said in a statement issued March 15 after he and a group of tribal leaders visited the White House to share their support.

“Judge Gorsuch has a strong track record and considerable experience dealing with federal Indian law, having written the opinion on 18 Indian law cases,” Hoeven added. “He has shown respect for Indian religious freedom and tribal sovereignty.”

Hoeven said that the following tribal nations and groups were represented at the White House meeting on Gorsuch and tribes: Navajo Nation, Chickasaw, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Choctaw Nation, Caribou Tribe, as well as the Native America Rights Fund and the National Congress of American Indians. The press was not invited to cover the meeting, according to Hoeven’s office. The White House has not responded for requests for comment about the meeting.

On March 27, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) announced that the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation, as well as the Fort Belknap Indian Community and the Crow Tribe had endorsed Gorsuch.

Osage Nation Congresswoman Shannon Edwards, 10th Circuit Representative to the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, also testified in favor of Neil Gorsuch in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings last week.

A broken water pipeline has damaged the Big Pine Paiute Tribe economy. Los Angeles agreed to repair it after one commissioner was so moved she offered to pay for the repair herself.

Courtesy Big Pine Paiute Tribe

A broken water pipeline has damaged the Big Pine Paiute Tribe economy. Los Angeles agreed to repair it after one commissioner was so moved she offered to pay for the repair herself.

Big Pine Paiute Tribe Pressures LADWP Into Fixing Broken Pipeline

City commissioner offered to pay for pipeline repair that cost tribe more than $1 million in lost water

LOS ANGELES—The Big Pine Paiute Tribe won an important battle last week in its five-year struggle with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to repair a broken pipeline that has cost the tribe half its irrigation water during a deep drought. Failure to repair the pipeline resulted in losses of more than $1.26 million in irrigation water in 2015 and 2016, according to data supplied by LADWP.

Tired of being ignored, last week Chairwoman Shannon Romero and a delegation of Paiute elders, youth and community members made a 500-mile round trip to Los Angeles to demand action during the March 21 meeting of the LA Department of Water and Power Commission.

“The Big Pine Paiute Tribe is being placed in a state of emergency,” Romero told the commissioners. “The lack of irrigation water since 2012 has put additional strain on the tribe’s aging infrastructure, and our citizens must now utilize domestic water to make up for the lack of irrigation water. The pipe is owned by LADWP, it’s on their land, and the language in the law is clear that it’s their responsibility to repair it. LADWP has stalled on repairs, and is now trying to manipulate the Tribe into unfair terms to diminish our water rights in order to receive repairs.”

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With posters, a local drum group, and dozens of supporters gathered outside LADWP headquarters, nearly 40 Paiute citizens were among those testifying before the commission. Grandmothers, tribal officials and children told how they watched trees, shrubs, vegetable gardens, alfalfa fields, and traditional foods and medicines wither away while water gushed from the broken pipe.

“We are simply asking LADWP to fix the pipe on their land to deliver the tribe’s share of water per the 1939 Land Exchange Agreement,” said Romero. “The tribe has in good faith attempted to resolve this issue and has been met with red tape and negotiation tactics that threaten our rights. We are now taking a public stand because this treatment of our people can no longer be tolerated.”

Romero said the elders, youth and families on the Big Pine reservation are continuing cultural traditions of gardening, harvesting and preparing foods that promote healthier lifestyles in order to reduce diabetes and other diseases. For Paiute people, Paya (water) is life, and tribal citizens are questioning why their water is being withheld and given to others.

Big Pine Paiute Chairwoman Shannon Romero points to dying vegetation.

Courtesy Big Pine Paiute Tribe

Big Pine Paiute member Margaret Romero points to dying vegetation.

“These are the traditional homelands of our Paiute people in the Sierra Nevada,” she said. “For countless generations, we have farmed and cultivated this valley through the use of irrigation water. In fact, it was our Paiute people who created the first irrigation system in the valley to feed our people, crops and livestock. This agreement was put in place to protect the sovereignty of our people and our resources. We are being deprived of our water rights and are being held hostage until we agree to LADWP’s terms to fix a broken pipeline on their land.”

Jesse Archer, director of the Big Pine Paiute Economic Development Corporation, said the loss in water undermines the tribe’s efforts toward self-sufficiency.

“LADWP’s refusal to fulfill their legal obligations would essentially halt any economic development projects we currently have, including a travel plaza and food sovereignty and agriculture projects, because it all depends on the delivery of our water,” Archer said. ”This is an outright attack on our ability to exercise our economic sovereignty.”

LADWP Commissioner Christina Noonan was so moved by the Big Pine Paiute's water plight that she offered to pay for the pipeline repair out of her own pocket.

Jesse Archer

LADWP Commissioner Christina Noonan was so moved by the Big Pine Paiute’s water plight that she offered to pay for the pipeline repair out of her own pocket.

Commissioner Writes a Check

Following testimony during public comments, Department of Water and Power Commissioner Christina Noonan surprised everyone by offering to write a personal check to cover repair costs. The amount of Noonan’s check wasn’t disclosed, but repair costs have been estimated to be about $250,000.

A statement released by LADWP said Commissioner Noonan “was so moved by the heartfelt stories and concerns for the welfare of the tribal members that she offered to personally cover the cost of the pipe repair in order to make water available this irrigation season.

“As a long-time representative of the City of Los Angeles on the LA-Inyo Standing committee, I understand both sides of the issues, and I am concerned that poor communications between the parties is prohibiting much needed action, so I am ready to resolve this today,” she said.

After the meeting, LADWP General Manager David Wright directed staff to take immediate steps to fix the failing pipeline without using the commissioner’s generous donation.

“Both the LADWP and the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley are concerned that the pipeline be repaired as quickly as possible to prevent another year of major losses due to leakage,” Wright said. “While LADWP had already previously offered to pay to fix the pipe as part of a mutual agreement, it is clear that we cannot wait to resolve broader issues surrounding future responsibilities quickly enough. In the spirit of cooperation, we will expedite the repair or replacement of the failing portions of the irrigation pipe at our own cost, as we had originally offered. We will continue discussions with the tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs regarding the underlying ownership, maintenance responsibilities and other issues at a future time.”

Romero offered sincere thanks to Noonan and to the many people who supported the tribe’s efforts to resolve the water crisis.

“The day was an amazing show of solidarity with people uniting to demand that LADWP do the right thing. The letters, prayers, public statements and words of encouragement were heard by the commissioners,” Romero said. “I’m happy to report that the next day, March 22, the tribe was informed that LADWP will fix the pipe within the next six weeks, so that our community will receive irrigation water in time for the 2017 growing season.”

Paya Is Life

As they wait, vigilance is needed to ensure LADWP carries out the pipe replacement in a timely manner, and ongoing consultation is needed to resolve long-term water rights issues, Romero said.

“Tribes in Owens Valley continue to struggle with establishing a meaningful working relationship with LADWP,” she said. “The Big Pine Paiute Tribe has unmet consultation needs and unresolved water rights issues. It concerns us that commitments critical to life and the future of Owens Valley tribes—which were spelled out in the 1939 land exchange agreement between the City of Los Angeles and United States of America—may no longer be a priority for LADWP.

“The Big Pine reservation is adversely affected by ongoing impacts due to LADWP’s water gathering activities, including the excessive amount of groundwater pumping from the Big Pine area, and LADWP’s apparent apathy toward fulfilling decades-old mitigation obligations. The Tribe is committed to continuing in its efforts to work with LADWP leaders to develop ways to move forward cooperatively and resolve problems in a streamlined, non-confrontational manner.”

Reflecting on this week’s win, the Big Pine Paiute Tribe said it hopes that LADWP, and Los Angeles in general, see that tribal nations stand together to protect water and the environment. In September 2016, the City of Los Angeles issued a resolution in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe recognizing “the rights of Native American Tribal Nations to protect their sovereign resources.”

“We’re asking the Mayor, the City, and the Board of Commissioners to please honor that resolution and continue standing in solidarity with Indian Nations to protect sacred water and the rights of tribal nations,” Romero said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Lake Oahe easement-DAPL

Courtesy Dr0ne2bewild Shiyé Bidziil/Vimeo

Energy Transfer Partners drill pad for tunneling under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, in November 2016.

Oil Placed Under Lake Oahe After Tribe’s Religious Appeal Denied

Court appeals continue by Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes to block Dakota Access Pipeline

EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated 2 p.m. with comment from Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II.

Energy Transfer Partners stated in a filing with the D.C. District Court on March 27 that oil has been placed in the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and that the company is “preparing to place the pipeline into service.”

The action comes after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on March 18 denied the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s appeal for an emergency injunction pending appeal to prevent Energy Transfer Partners from introducing oil into the Dakota Access Pipeline, which it has built and plans to manage.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s appeal followed D.C. District Court Judge James Boasberg’s March 14 denial for the same. Like that appeal, the tribe in this instance sought to prevent the introduction of oil into the pipeline based on the tribe’s belief “that the mere presence of oil in the pipeline, separate and apart from any leak in the pipeline, under their sacred waters [of Lake Oahe] will render those waters ritually impure and, therefore, unsuitable for use in their religious sacraments,” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

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Judge Patricia Millett, in her statement supporting the denial of the motion, wrote that the tribe “has not met its heavy burden of proving entitlement to the extraordinary relief of an injunction pending appeal” because the district court hasn’t yet decided whether to allow the RFRA claim as part of the tribe’s lawsuit. To do so would mean meeting an extraordinarily high bar beyond the tribe’s suffering irreparable harm, a balance of equities favoring the tribe, and public interest in supporting the stay. It would also have to demonstrate that the district court “likely abused its discretion in denying the preliminary injunction” on March 14, and that “the district court would…abuse its discretion were it not to permit [adding the RFRA claim to the suit],” she wrote.

Speaking for a three-judge panel that included Judge Robert Wilkins and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Millet wrote, “The Tribe has not made that exceptionally exceptional showing.”

Millet was also seemingly perturbed that the RFRA claim was filed so late in the process because it tied the circuit court’s hands to “exercise [its] equitable authority.”

In a statement issued by the tribe, Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, expressed extreme disappointment with the ruling.

“The shameful truth is that America can’t understand the holiness of our Grandmother Earth and her importance to our existence,” Frazier said. “But that is why we Lakota people were put on this Earth—to fight for Unci Maka when the rest of the world has forgotten her. We are not just doing this for us. We’re doing it for all of you.”

The case now moves to full appeal in the D.C. Circuit Court as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s concurrent case against the pipeline continues to also weave its way through D.C. District Court.

“While we are disappointed that our pleas to the court and current administration have thus far fallen on deaf ears, we remain committed to fighting the transmission of dirty fossil fuels through our territory and putting a stop to the flow of oil in this pipeline,” Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon March 28.

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe would like to reiterate that while this is a setback, and a frightening one at that, we will not stop at any cost,” the tribe said. “Just because oil flow is pending does not mean that it cannot be stopped by court order, and we have a strong, ongoing case in front of the courts at this moment. We will exhaust every appeal.”

Trump pitches Republicans for health care repeal vote, Indian health care

Courtesy Speaker Paul Ryan’s Official page

Smiles no more. President Donald J. Trump failed in his pitch to the Republicans who opposed the speaker’s Affordable Care Act replacement.

Affordable Care Act Remains, What’s Next for Indian Health?

Three ways to add money to Indian health and bigger fights ahead

TRAHANT REPORTS—President Donald J. Trump’s legislative agenda has crashed. The Republican promise to quickly repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Friday failed to win enough votes from conservatives to make it so.

As House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a post-failure news conference: “Obamacare is the law of the land … We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

For his part, President Donald J. Trump (who, of course, says he is not to blame for the loss) told The Washington Post, “the best thing politically is to let Obamacare explode.” He called the law, “totally the property of the Democrats,” and that “when people get a 200 percent increase next year or a 100 percent or 70 percent, that’s their fault.”

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The president and his administration can do a lot to make that happen. The Secretary of Health and Human Services has extraordinary authority under the Affordable Care Act and they can use the power regulation to gunk up Obamacare. There will be many battles ahead on the regulation front. But, and this is the good part, states will have a say in this too. And there is the potential for a few states to engage in experiments that might improve the law. The question here: Is the administration willing to work to improve insurance options for Americans or are they more interested in punishing Democrats? (Yeah, I know, but there is a political upside to answering that question correctly.)

Mark Trahant, Trahant Reports

Courtesy Trahant Reports

Mark Trahant, Trahant Reports

Here’s the thing: There is a crisis in insurance markets. And a bipartisan solution, meaning most Republicans working in partnership with Democrats, is the best way to reach a solution. There are three ways most of us get health insurance: our employers, public insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid, and the individual market when we buy our own insurance policies. Employer-based care is an accident of history (it’s a long story) and has been shrinking for the past 15 years. Public health insurance has been growing (something the conservatives in Congress really object to because it codifies the notion that health care is a right) and under the Affordable Care Act individual insurance has increased from about 10.6 million people to 15.6 million.

Individual Market Enrollment - health care

Much of the current health insurance debate is about that individual market. Even if it is the smallest part of the problem. It’s important to understand, as David Blumenthal and Sara Collins wrote in the Harvard Business Review:

Individual markets were troubled prior to the ACA’s enactment in 2010. One reason was that premiums for these policies were increasing more than 10% a year, on average, while the policies themselves had major deficiencies. They often excluded pre-existing conditions, charged higher premiums for people with health risks and for young women, placed limits on annual and lifetime benefits, or refused to renew policies for individuals who became sick. Many people who tried to buy plans were turned down. In 2010, an estimated 9 million adults who had tried to buy a plan in the individual market over the prior three years reported that they were turned down, charged a higher price, or had a condition excluded from their plan because of their health.

Thus “returning to the status quo ante – before the ACA – is not a viable option for the individual markets.”

The fix does not involve a “great mystery” according to Blumenthal and Collins. It’s simply making certain that more young people buy insurance to help pay for the higher health care costs of older Americans. The bigger the pool, the lower the cost. (Which, I should add, is why single payer works as a public policy.) One part of that solution is to increase the government subsidies so more people will buy in. That’s how the insurance market could work better.

Allocation of Indian Health Service - Indian health care

More Money For Indian Health

Enough background. Where does Indian country fit into this matrix? So there is a legal understanding that the Indian health system is federal obligation that stems from the promises made in treaties to provide doctors and nurses to reservation communities. Yet no Democrat nor Republican government has ever (as in ever) proposed fully-funding that Indian health system. Members of Congress often acknowledge the treaty responsibility, but have never followed those words with a budget.

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But the Affordable Care Act separates insurance from health care delivery. It basically makes the Indian health system (both the government-operated Indian Health Service facilities, and those run by tribes and tribal organizations) medical care that’s mostly funded by federal appropriations and funded by insurance. Nationally that mix right now is about 80 percent appropriations and 20 percent insurance. But, and this ought to be huge, the insurance side of the equation under the Affordable Care Act is unlimited. That pool of money grows every time an eligible American Indian or Alaska Native signs up for insurance. This makes full-funding of Indian health a possibility. (Even better: Insurance collections remain at the local clinic or hospital. It really is the best kind of funding.)

There are three ways to add money to Indian health now.

First: More American Indians and Alaska Natives can sign up for Medicaid. The fact is there are many more people eligible than have signed up. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that nationwide one million American Indians and Alaska Natives lack coverage (depending on the state). Already Medicaid covers more than half of all children but 11 percent of those children remain uninsured.

Second: More American Indians and Alaska Natives can sign up for exchange plans under the Affordable Care Act. This is huge. According to healthcare.gov “If you get services from an Indian Health Care Provider, you won’t have any out-of-pocket costs like copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles, regardless of your income. (This benefit also applies to Purchased and Referred Care.).” And this benefit has essentially a permanent open enrollment.

Signing up for insurance (including plans from an employer) makes the Indian health system stronger for everyone. It’s the same principle as any insurance, the larger the pool of people who participate, the lower the cost.

Third: It’s time to make the case for Medicaid expansion in state governments that have said no. Now that the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land there remains unequal funding. States can remedy that by expanding Medicaid eligibility (even while trying some of the conservative experiments such as imposed work rules). It’s a win for Indian country when a state does this because it increases the number of people eligible for insurance. It’s a win for the state because Indian health patients are a 100 percent federal obligation so the state will be reimbursed by Washington.

Kansas is the latest state to consider expansion. And it’s likely that the Trump/Ryan failure to repeal and replace will push other state legislatures to consider this approach. Indian health patients would benefit from Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Utah, Idaho, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. A total of 19 states are on this list.

AI and AN nonelderly population - Indian health care

The Dangers For Indian Country Ahead

It’s easy to see the defeat of Trump and Ryan’s plan as a huge win. But it is also a warning sign. Make that a flashing red light with sirens. The problem is that Congress is deeply divided and cannot govern.

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The same Republican divisions that killed their health reform plan will kill President Trump’s budget (thank you). But it will also make it nearly impossible to pass any kind of budget. As I have written before the best outcome might be a Continuing Resolution, a status quo budget.

An even bigger challenge will be for Congress to pass an increase in the debt ceiling. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin informed Congress that the United States reached its limit on March 15. The Treasury is now juggling accounts so that the government can continue to pay bills.

Conservatives in Congress (actually, just about every member of Congress) hate this part of governing. But a no vote here has enormous consequences for everyone’s finances, markets. There is an absolute requirement that Congress increase that borrowing authority. It will be a nasty fight.

Of course there is one solution: Create a new coalition of Republicans and Democrats. This works in state legislatures across the country (most recently Alaska). It takes 216 votes to pass legislation in the House so a working body of 22 or so Republicans, plus the 194 Democrats in the House, could accomplish a lot together. But that would mean rethinking the role of party politics. And governing.

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports.

Seven schools in Oregon are fighting to keep their Native American mascot. The Molalla High Indians, above, is one of them.

Courtesy Molalla High School

Seven schools in Oregon are fighting to keep their Native American mascot. The Molalla High Indians, above, is one of them.

Oregon Schools Fight to Keep Controversial Native American Mascots

The Rogue River School District hopes working with a local tribe will allow its high school to keep its Native American mascot

Several high schools in Oregon are fighting to keep their Native American mascots as a deadline looms to change them.

In 2012, the Oregon State Board of Education passed a rule prohibiting the use of Native American mascots, symbols, and monikers at its public schools, and ordered that schools using such language and imagery has until July 1, 2017 to retire them. The board members at the time said they relied heavily on empirical evidence on the psychological impacts Native American mascots have on the mental health of youths.

RELATED: Houska: Regardless of WaPo Poll, Native Mascots Hurt Our Youth

“The concept of Native American mascots being hurtful and racist was not new to me,” board member Serilda Summers-McGee said when the rule passed. “However the testimony we received from students, members of the Native American community, and researchers regarding the impact of Native American mascots on student learning and self esteem was extremely illuminating.”

Now, seven of the fourteen schools required to change their school mascot are allegedly working with local tribes to barter a deal, according to reports. Administrators at the schools hope that establishing a Native American curriculum, working in tandem with the tribes, will allow them to keep their school mascot.

RELATED: Moya-Smith: This Is What the Ugly Face of American Racism Looks Like

Rogue River Jr./Sr. High School, home of the Chieftains, is one of seven schools fighting to keep theirs. Paul Young, superintendent of Rogue River School District, told NBC-Oregon affiliate KOBI5.com, that they are working with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians to create lessons on Native Americans for their students.

One alumna said she is concerned that if the Chieftains mascot is dropped and replaced it will strip the essence of Rogue River.

“I think if they took away the Chieftain mascot, they’d be taking away the heart and soul of the school,” Cheryl Martin Sund told KOBI5.com. Sund said her father was related to Chief Joseph, a revered elder and leader of the Nez Perce, and added that the mascot represents Native Americans as “proud, and strong, and brave.”

Native American mascots used by other schools in the state include the Molalla High School Indians, Banks High Braves, and more than a dozen schools with the “Warriors” mascot.

Native Nations Institute hosted a forum focused on tribal disenrollment in March at the University of Arizona.

Courtesy Murv Jacob

Native Nations Institute hosted a forum focused on tribal disenrollment in March at the University of Arizona.

Who Belongs? The Epidemic of Tribal Disenrollment

Tribal disenrollment discussed during two-day forum

The age-old question of “who are you” has developed into a 21st century conundrum of “who belongs,” the basis of a two-day forum discussing tribal kinship, Native Nation citizenship, and tribal disenrollment by exploring questions that relate to citizenship and community-belonging in Indian country. The forum was co-convened by the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the James E. Rogers College of Law and the Department of American Indian Studies.

“This is a first-of-its-kind conference to discuss the sensitive issues surrounding who has a hereditary and/or cultural right to be a part of a Native and aboriginal community,” said conference organizer Robert Hershey at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

“In many tribes, there is no word for disenrollment,” added attendee Gabriel Galanda, Round Valley Indian Tribes of California. “This gathering is an historic interaction of tribal leaders that has never happened before, anywhere or at any time, about what is plaguing us and what might mitigate that plague through discussion and debate.

Disenrollment has been referred to as an epidemic that has impacted upwards of 9,000 people in 79 tribes across 20 states. There are 567 federally-recognized tribal nations, so those tribes already dealing with the concept represent a metric of 15 percent of Indian country—and that constitutes an epidemic.”

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Native Nations Institute Executive Director Joan Timchee, Hopi, who led the keynote discussion of tribal leaders, said the forum gave the overflow crowd of 300 attendees, “an unparalleled opportunity to explore the ‘Who belongs?’ question, a foundational aspect of self-governance and self-determination for Native nations and their future.”

Describing her fellow panel of leaders as “servants of the people,” Carol Evans, first-ever Chairwoman of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, invited panelists to not be a part of the problem, but to help find a solution, even as she admitted that her tribe has been struggling with the issue for the past decade and has 21 constitutional amendments dealing with who belongs as well as procedures for tribal disenrollment.

“Who Belongs?” conference organizer Robert Hershey introduces panelists at a tribal leaders Forum about tribal disenrollment. Chairwoman Carol Evans, Spokane Tribe of Indians, is on the left, and President Bernadine Burnette, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, is on the right.

Photo by Lee Allen

“Who Belongs?” conference organizer Robert Hershey introduces panelists at a tribal leaders Forum about tribal disenrollment. Chairwoman Carol Evans, Spokane Tribe of Indians, is on the left, and President Bernadine Burnette, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, is on the right.

Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation President Bernadine Burnette has been in tribal government since 1990 and told the group that “disenrollment is not allowed in my tribe’s constitution.” She remembered that “In the past, no one asked a lot of questions about tribal membership and there was lots of room for all kinds of interpretation.”

Blood quantum requirements aside, Tohono O’odham Chairman Edward Manuel, leader of 34,000 citizens in Arizona and across the border in Mexico, drew a round of applause when he said: “Nobody can tell if you’re Indian or not. That’s up to you because only you know who you are.”

His Southern Arizona counterpart, Pascua Yaqui Chairman Robert Valencia, noted that while federal recognition in 1978 specified membership requirements, “We don’t need the government to tell us who we are.” Recent constitutional changes now allow collateral enrollment among the Yoeme peoples.

Panelist Eddie Crandell Sr., representing the California Bay area Robinson Rancheria, has been an ardent adversary of tribal disenrollment as part of an ongoing tribal power struggle since 2008. Some disenrolled members have since returned to the fold, but he calls the concept of tribal disenrollment “a powerful demon.”

In a lengthy New York Times feature story, reporter Brooke Jarvis referred to disenrollment as a form of genocide, noting that, “Outside the lands legally known as ‘Indian country,’ ‘membership’ and ‘enrollment”’ are such blandly bureaucratic words that it’s easy to lose sight of how much they matter there. To the 566 federally recognized tribal nations, the ability to determine who is and isn’t part of a tribe is an essential element of what makes tribes sovereign entities. To individuals, membership means citizenship and all the emotional ties and treaty rights that come with it. To be disenrolled is to lose that citizenship: to become stateless. It can also mean the loss of a broader identity.”

Tobias Vanderhoop (left), Wampanoag Tribe of GayHead (Aquinnah), debates a “who belongs?” tribal disenrollment issue with Kawika Riley, who is Native Hawaiian.

Photo by Lee Allen

Tobias Vanderhoop (left), Wampanoag Tribe of GayHead (Aquinnah), debates a “who belongs?” tribal disenrollment issue with Kawika Riley, who is Native Hawaiian.

In a 2016 op-ed article for Indian Country Media Network, Washington State Senator John McCoy, Tulalip, categorized the practice as an outgrowth of policies designed to suppress Native American identity—“to control us, to assimilate us, and, ultimately, to extinguish us.”

The gathering, two years in the planning, achieved its goals in the minds of its sponsors. “It created a safe and sensitive place for people to talk about what was in their hearts,” said Hershey. “You can’t continue to have discussions on ‘Who Belongs?’ unless the environment is conducive to respect. I think some tribal leaders opinions were changed and I hope they go back to their own communities and begin their own discussions, taking this groundswell of optimism into a conversation that removes factionalism and resentment.”

Tony Enos at Oceti Sakowin in front of the Two-Spirit Nation camp. Photo courtesy of Tony Enos

Courtesy Tony Enos

Tony Enos at Oceti Sakowin in front of the Two-Spirit Nation camp.

8 Things You Should Know About Two Spirit People

Two Spirit has been present for countless generations that predate LGBTQ terminology

When attempting to explain the concept of Two Spirit people in Indian country, many people may visualize images of Unicorns and Rainbows, Donna Summers and Seventies disco balls. Try to explain the concept of Two Spirit outside Indian country, and you may as well throw in war bonnets and glitter.

The term Two Spirit has been present in Native communities for countless generations that predate LGBTQ terminology. For generations, Two Spirit Native culture went underground to avoid detection and persecution.

Today the Two Spirit movement has been negatively affected by rumor, gossip, the tyranny of western religion, and an all-around lack of information.

Here are eight misconceptions and/or things you should know about Two Spirit people that may help foster a better understanding of the Two Spirit community.

Two Spirit is not a contemporary “new-age” movement

While the term Two Spirit was coined in 1990 In Winnipeg, Canada as a means of unifying various gender identities and expressions of Native American/First Nations/Indigenous individuals, the term is not a specific definition of gender, sexual orientation or other self-determining catch-all phrase, but rather an umbrella term.

Two Spirit people have both a male and female spirit within them and are blessed by their Creator to see life through the eyes of both genders.

The term does not diminish the tribal-specific names, roles and traditions nations have for their own Two Spirit people. Examples of such names are the winkte among the Lakota and the nadleeh among the Navajo people.

These names and roles go back to a time before western religion. Two Spirit is not a “New Age” movement, but rather a reclamation of Two Spirit’s rightful place in Native culture.

We have proof of Two Spirit individuals in historical photos

A historical image of Two Spirit Native people.

A historical image of Two Spirit Native people.

A quick google search will render black and whites from decades ago with Two Spirit tribal members from various nations, such as We’wha, a very well-known and documented Two Spirit of the Zuni people, who crossed over in 1896.

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Gay is not an interchangeable term with Two Spirit

Two-Spirit Dancers prepare, from the film Two Spirits

Two-Spirit Dancers prepare, from the film Two Spirits

Being a gay native is oftentimes confused with being Two Spirit. While the two may have parallels and intersections, they are not the same. Gay specifically is about attraction to a person of the same sex. Two Spirit is more about the embodiment of two genders residing within one person.

A Two Spirit person may be gay, but a gay person is not necessarily Two Spirit. Claiming the role of Two Spirit is to take up the spiritual responsibility that the role traditionally had. Walking the red road, being for the people and our children/youth, and being a guiding force in a good way with a good mind are just some of those responsibilities.

The Two Spirit Road is a road of long held traditions, prayer and responsibility   

Out of the 250 groups invited to participate in this year's 46th annual SF LGBT Pride Parade, the Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits (BAAITS) was a crowd favorite. - two spirit people

Facebook BAAITS community

Out of the 250 groups invited to participate in the 46th annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade, the Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits (BAAITS) parade participants were a crowd favorite.

Living as a Two Spirit is not all pride parades and hot pants. To be of service to our elders and youth with our very particular medicine is paramount. If we lose our traditions, our songs, our medicines, and our languages, and make no effort to restore what was lost, we doom ourselves.

In 2016 Two Spirit nation at Oceti Sakowin built the Cannonball River prayer pier, to be used for water ceremonies. Knee deep in mud on a cold 2016 November morning, the Two Spirit camp worked till sundown, so that our women and elders could have a place to pray the following morning. Actual events such a this are now part of our modern history as Two Spirit people and should never be minimized. As with all of Native culture, Two Spirit is also a living culture.

Two Spirit people held significant roles and were an integral part of a tribal social structures

Two Spirit people held a meaningful place in the sacred hoop.  In many tribes Two Spirits were balance keepers. Thought to be the “dusk” between the male morning, and the female evening. As the role has evolved over time as necessary, the tradition is still alive. At Two Spirit gatherings and communal events, we can be found saying prayers that have needed to be said for decades, and fostering healing to all present. Restoring much needed balance to spirit.

Two Spirit Does Not Indicate Colonized Boxed Definitions of “L”, “G”, “B”, “T” or “Q”

We can be all of these, or none of these. A western mindset categorizes based on standards of ‘norm’ and ‘other’ in a kyriarchal (to rule or dominate) type structure. This mindset imposes a series of boxes to fit into (you’re either gay, you’re a lesbian, etc.) rather than being comfortable with gender fluidity, Two Spirit acknowledges the continuum of gender identity and expression.

Two Spirit is a term only appropriate for Native people

Wanting to capture the essence of a Two Spirit people relationship and decolonize homophobic attitudes, Saskatchewan-based producer, filmmaker, and photographer, Marcel Petit (Metis) created a photo essay of Two Spirit couple Warren Ibister (Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation) and Don Bear (Peter Ballantyne of Cree Nation) wearing traditional regalia in women’s Cree style.

Marcel Petit

Wanting to capture the essence of a Two Spirit relationship and decolonize homophobic attitudes, Saskatchewan-based producer, filmmaker, and photographer, Marcel Petit (Metis) created a photo essay of Two Spirit couple Warren Ibister (Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation) and Don Bear (Peter Ballantyne of Cree Nation) wearing traditional regalia in women’s Cree style.

Two Spirit is a role that existed in a Native American/First Nations/Indigenous tribe for gender queer, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming tribal members. If you don’t have a tribe, you can’t claim that role.

Two Spirit People face compounded trauma’s on top of inter-generational trauma

Imagine going from your nation where you’re a celebrated Two Spirit individual, to a boarding school where you’re assigned your gender, with any push back about it being beat out of you. For a lot of our boarding school survivors (and those who didn’t survive), this was their reality. As a result, there is still healing from much internalized socio-political stigma, phobia, and lateral oppression to be done in the Two Spirit community.

The resilience, strength, and sheer indomitable will of Two Spirit people is something to be shared with all nations. When you watch the sun rise every day, the sun set every evening, and the moon come out each night, remember the miracle of Two Spirit people. Not unnatural, not evil, or perverse, just all things in balance, and everything in divine order.

 

Follow Tony Enos on Twitter at @TonyEnos

Charles Kader

Grass Roots Legal Concepts Intentionally Forgotten in Modern Indian Law Rulings

Do Indian law rulings spell the end of federal recognition?

Historically, when Native American tribes entered into treaties with the United States, there were no lawyers to assist the communal interests in negotiating the greatest good. Yet today, a recent legal ruling discourages non-lawyers from representing non-federally recognized tribal groups, while not addressing such pro se appearances on behalf of federally recognized tribes. Does this spell the end of federal recognition for tribal groups unable to pay for legal counsel to advance their political aspirations? Is this action another form of divide and conquer?

The ruling, by a federal magistrate in Robinson v. Jewell (E.D. Cal), appears to be modeled on a previous decision from the Southern District of Ohio, according to an individual there affected by that ruling. Marshall Lucas, of Logan, Ohio, goes by the name of Dancing Elk. As the Chief of the unrecognized historical Notoweega Nation, Dancing Elk has reviewed the latest ruling and sees little difference in his treatment versus the one involving David Laughing Horse Robinson, Chairman of the Kawaiisu Tribe of Tejon in California.

“The battlegrounds facing Native people today routinely look less like Standing Rock and yet quietly, and more destructively, carve up American Indian sovereignty on a day-to-day basis, one decision at a time. At some point, the distress flag has to be raised. When we try to take these fights to the court system, as the Golden Hill Paugussetts did for so long in Connecticut, the outcomes rarely take our positions under serious consideration to even render a fair judgment. The trend of these rulings would make even a casual observer take pause, let alone lose faith in the system,” Dancing Elk told me.

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Both of the rulings reflect a continuing uphill battle for unrecognized tribes. Without an economic base to offset the overhead expense of entering into the recognition process, many dedicated individuals of Native heritage are left standing alongside the Red Road, hat in hand, with slim prospects for the continuity of their culture officially.

Dancing Elk asserts that tribal groups seeking federal recognition should be extended funding to make their compelling cases best until a decision or a successful appeal is rendered in a valid claim. Possibly the funds could be repaid thru tribal economic enterprise once the recognition process is formalized.

Barring this unlikelihood, these tribal groups may be experiencing an ongoing violation of the 14th Amendment. Furthermore, no other distinctive heritage than Native Americans finds itself in this precarious position. That would seem to set these struggles singularly apart from African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, or any other population segment engaged in ongoing litigation with the United States. Any pro se involvement with their respective lawsuits does not seem to warrant targeting like the affected Native lawsuits.

“This seemingly trivial matter may likely be a U.S. Supreme Court-level argument,” Dancing Elk explained to me. “There is a contradiction, whether literal or actual in nature, which reduces the burden for previously recognized tribes. That recognition serves the U.S. government’s agenda, best shown by the 1823 Supreme Court ruling in Johnson v. M’Intosh, establishing that American Indians only hold a “right of occupancy” upon the land they reside on, due to the ruling and the American Revolution outcome.”

The Doctrine of Discovery was cited by then-Chief Justice John Marshall in Johnson v. M’Intosh, in the first of three rulings which constitute the “Marshall Trilogy” which much of contemporary American Indian law is based. It is also a concept that has been increasingly railed against by Native scholars such as Steven Newcomb. These concerns have been taken to the Vatican itself, but despite the ensuing publicity and some lip-service by the Catholic Church, the status quo outcome straddles the Age of Exploration to the era of Big Government in America.

To anyone reading this and only hearing the words unrecognized tribe, the implication is that they lack something in their federal recognition application. Hence they are not “real” North American Indians. Yet, in some states like Ohio or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there are no formally recognized tribal groups despite the prodigious amount of Native history in each. Nothing slipped through the cracks in either example. The attitude was to marginalize any mounted Native land claims, let alone allow exclusions to such state rule by even tolerating tribal governments in their midst.

How and why sane Native activists would even consider entering the field of Indian Law but that is exactly the path that Dancing Elk is taking these days. He laughs a little in a tired way as he explains that if he cannot get through his current semester of pre-law studies that the dreams of the Notoweega Nation followers to achieve federal recognition are at risk. His attempts to generate the elusive legal funding, to eventually qualify for the Department of the Interior appropriation, have also been ordeals. Whether through tobacco sales or even computerized bingo sweepstakes, Dancing Elk took a now-familiar path in his tribal business planning. Those failed results have been exacerbated by the DOJ asset forfeiture of his personally-owned property and a dogged effort by Ohio prosecutors to minimize his proceeds.

Apparently, a lot of Ohioans in the southern part of the state subscribe to being part of the Notoweega heritage. That left an impression on me that I just cannot look past. I was aware of a group that I ran into in Pennsylvania years ago, which eventually ended up in Ohio that also sought federal recognition. Their followers were much more concentrated among very few family bloodlines, and their form of government seemed to model at best a benevolent autocracy replete with animal skin clothing and stone tool craft sales. They brought their own fire with them wherever they ended up. Conversely, Notoweega heritage stretches into West Virginia, Kentucky and sprawls into the Appalachian Trail.

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Working against such groups is that the longer your membership base has to survive in a mainstream setting, the less likely the bloodlines of the culture-bearing families will be able to maintain a level of blood quantum in their population of initial core tribal member applicants. Thus, idle time itself kills a lot of the potential of these fledgling tribal groups, valid application or otherwise.

As far as Dancing Elk himself, he keeps busy as a working actor in a number of motion pictures and television features; both completed and in production today. For anyone saying that he is a turkey-feather chieftain and a publicity hound, they are missing the point.

“I know all sorts of people that I have worked with whose names are known to the general public, making them technically famous. After talking to them about the basics of some of these issues, even they can agree that a miscarriage of justice, as well as political prosecution, have occurred to derail a federally recognized Notoweega Nation government. Our people in Barbour County, West Virginia, proclaimed a Federal Indian Reserve in 1763, only got electricity to our homes in 1978. That was only 40y years ago. Those that moved to Zanesville, Ohio, living on ceded land reserved under treaty rights, they only got running water a few years ago. For all of the good that a tribal government could do here in bringing people together, we also could advance the regional economy in ways that local government cannot. We want the best outcome for the greatest number, not just our Native families.

The fine line between successful federal recognition and extinguished tribal fires is very thin. The California ruling on pro se representation may be the closest thing to a full bucket of water being thrown over the hopes and dreams of a smoldering, marginal Native population, deprived of their cultural destiny by a self-serving policy of exclusion and Nineteenth-century thinking.

Charles Kader (Turtle Clan) was born in Erie, Pennsylvania to a World War II veteran. He attended Clarion University of Pennsylvania, earning degrees in Communication and Library Science, as well as Mercyhurst College where he earned a graduate degree in the Administration of Justice. He has worked across Indian country, from the Blackfeet Community College in Browning, Montana (where he married his wife) to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, and now resides in Kanienkeh.

The early Choctaw Native American diet consisted of some 60 to 80 crops and many different types of orchards, including wild plums like these, but the Choctaw were not the first vegetarians, as has been rumored.

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The early Choctaw Native American diet consisted of some 60 to 80 crops and many different types of orchards, including wild plums like these, but the Choctaw were not the first vegetarians, as has been rumored.

Was the Pre-Colonial Choctaw Native American Diet Vegetarian?

Choctaws were not the first vegetarians but their traditional Native American diet was mostly plant-based

The Choctaw long have been recognized as the best agriculturalists in the Southeast, with historical accounts detailing a rich, plant-based Native American diet. But were they also the first vegetarians? According to Rita Laws, the answer is no.

Laws, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology and writes about history and nutrition, tackled this misconception more than 20 years ago. While the Choctaw have spent thousands of years cultivating corn, pumpkin and beans, they were not traditionally vegetarians, she said—or at least not on purpose.

“Agriculture was so important to our ancestors that they really focused on that to the exclusion of meat,” she said. “It wasn’t so much a health-conscious decision, but we ate what was available, and that was what we grew. Eating meat was more the exception than the rule.”

Laws, Choctaw, adopted a vegetarian diet in 1979 and now advocates for a return to healthy diets that include traditional plant-based foods. Her quest to understand the Choctaw diet began as a personal journey to take control of her own health and combat obesity.

“I was trying to figure out why obesity is such a big thing among Oklahomans with Indian blood,” she said. “I found that it is tied to the nutritional memory of our bodies and the way we have strayed from our ancestral diets.”

Laws discovered that the Choctaw rarely consumed meat prior to 1492. She also found that, after European contact, indigenous people began moving toward animal-based diets while the settlers began moving toward vegetables.

“This is more evidence of how our culture was badly injured after the Europeans arrived,” Laws said. “Prior to European settlement, interior tribes like the Choctaw had a tendency to eat little or no meat because they simply lacked the technology to move toward an animal-based diet.”

In fact, Laws estimates that as part of their Native American diet, the Choctaw grew 60-80 different crops while the Europeans brought seeds for only 10-15.

Factoring in the different strains of each crop increases that estimate exponentially, said Ian Thompson, historic preservation officer for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. For example, Natives likely grew hundreds of different strains of corn while the Europeans had access to only a few.

“For a specific community like the Choctaw, we may have grown a dozen or more kinds of corn,” Thompson said. “But we also had orchards of native trees: persimmon, pawpaw, hickory, walnuts and wild plums. And our agricultural systems supported strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and mulberries. If you consider all that, we had a whole lot more than the Europeans.”

But Europeans brought firearms, gunpowder, metal blades and other weapons, forever changing the landscape of North America and devastating the Native American diet and nutrition, Laws said. They also introduced domesticated animals like sheep, goats, cows, chickens and pigs, which made animal products accessible without hunting.

“After those things were introduced and catching meat was easier, indigenous people started eating a lot more meat,” Laws said. “Obviously some tribes were more dependent on meat before colonization—like the areas with lots of buffalo—but the tendency overall was to eat less meat and focus on a plant-based diet.”

Although the Choctaws’ transition from a hunter-gatherer society to sedentary lifestyle was gradual, the effects of the “modern diet” are obvious today, Laws said. She is pushing for a return to historic foods as a way to reverse unhealthy trends.

“Where obesity seems to be so bad among the indigenous, if they identify historic foods and reintroduce those, cooked the way our ancestors cooked it, it has a positive effect,” Laws said. “And, of course, eating less meat will make us healthier and live longer.”

A return to traditional foods also means a step toward food sovereignty, Thompson said. For 15,000 years, the Choctaw have made a home in the southeastern United States, where they weathered climate and cultural changes.

Before European contact, the Choctaw relied on a seasonal Native American diet that revolved around agriculture, Thompson said. The Choctaw traditionally planted in the spring, harvested throughout the summer and hunted during late autumn, but they did not rely on meat as a staple.

“The only time meat was the main course for Choctaws was in the hunting camps,” he said. “Even after European contact, they would preserve the meat and trade it, but they lived on the produce from the harvest and ate meat very sparingly.”

That changed as the Choctaw grew more adept at hunting. Through colonization and Indian removal policies, the Choctaw lost even more of their agricultural expertise, Thompson said.

“When our real health problems began, it was through commodity foods,” he said. “Instead of natural diets full of fruits and vegetables, we moved to a new diet that was high in calories and saturated fat, and low in nutrients.”

Like Laws, Thompson recommends returning native crops to the Native American diet. “Native foods are an important part of who we are, the core of our relationship with the earth,” he said. “If we’re suffering from colonial diseases like diabetes and obesity, that’s the ultimate bondage.”

Miss Lumbee has partnered with Arrow Educational Solutions to improve reading and literacy in North Carolina.

Courtesy Arrow Educational Solutions

Miss Lumbee has partnered with Arrow Educational Solutions to improve reading and literacy in North Carolina.

Miss Lumbee Working to Improve Literacy

Reading proficiency and education important to pageant winner

Lindsey Krisian Oxendine, Miss Lumbee 2016-2017, and Arrow Educational Solutions have partnered to improve the reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension skills of children and adults in Robeson County, North Carolina.

While competing in the Lumbee pageant, Lindsey was asked what her mission would be if she won, her response was “Mentoring to Motivate.”

“I didn’t choose this empowerment tool, but rather it chose me,” she explained when asked why she chose this platform. “Mentoring has always been my passion, seeding a positive mind-set into the lives of our youth is vital in today’s society.”

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“In my local church, Harvest Church, I have served as a trained student leader since the age of 16,” Lindsey said. “As a student leader I provide guidance and support to the youth of our church in varied areas. Now that I am Miss Lumbee, it is my desire to expand my mentoring skills outside the walls of my local assembly.

“Other student leaders within our assembly have agreed to unite with me in my initiative,” she said. “We plan to receive the necessary training to properly carry out our mission.”

Lindsey chose reading and literacy as part of her mentoring program partly because she was approached by a mother who said her daughter admired her, and that her daughter gets bullied at school for being a slow reader. She told the mother that “as Miss Lumbee I am going to personally work with your little girl as part of my Mentoring to Motivate platform by helping her with her reading. Further, if during my reign I am provided the opportunity to visit your little girl’s school, I will make it a point to use her in my demonstrations in hopes this will discourage the bullying.”

One of Lindsey’s long-term goals is to achieve early reading proficiency among Lumbee youth, and to encourage them academically, socially, and economically for success in the years ahead.

Lindsey first heard about Arrow Educational Solutions when its owner, Dr. Reginald Oxendine Sr. spoke to Harvest Church youth. His compassion for educating children, especially Lumbee youth, captured Lindsey’s attention as he provided literacy statistics. He told the group that 66 percent of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade end up in jail or on welfare, and that 78 percent of children who lack reading proficiency by fourth grade will likely never possess reading proficiency.

Arrow Educational Solutions has been, according to its website, creating and distributing phonics and literacy reading materials for both the home and school market for the past 12 years. Their web-based products can be used to improve literacy.

This story was originally published December 17, 2016.

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Tribes Support Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court Nod as Democrats Plan Filibuster

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