This month, ChristianPost.com wrote a blog about the Apache 8 all-women firefighting crew.
The more commonly known Navajo firefighters specialize in "hot spots" and extend their expertise nationwide when needed. The surprising team is the women from Fort Apache--the Apache 8 Crew, who also answer the call when needed across the U.S.
Formed in the mid-1970s, the Apache 8 Crew was elite, particularly since jobs were scarce on the Reservation. For the past 30-years, these women have put their lives on the line and left their families for days, weeks, months, to face the wildland fires that beckon their expertise and skill.
The can-do attitude and strategic mindset of these women proved in an unprecedented time that these when women--especially Native women--could perform the same work as there male counterparts and do so with pride and courage. These women soon laid fears and doubts of their abilities to rest. They could do everything the job required including the intense training, the long hikes with intense equipment weight strapped to their backs, and daily maintenance of the Reservation grounds to keep it environmentally safe.
This is just a quick highlight of what these amazing women represent for all women, Native culture, and history. To find out more, watch Apache 8 on DVD!
The study reports results of American Indian and Alaska Native students grades 4 and 8 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), as well as the results of a special survey of American Indian and Alaska Native students, their teachers, and their school administrators—focusing on Native language and culture related to the education of American Indian and Alaska Native students.
Here are some highlights from the report: • American Indian and Alaska Native students lag behind other racial/ethnic groups in mathematics in both grades 4 and 8. And, the mathematics score gap between non-Native and Native students is larger than in 2005.
• American Indian and Alaska Native students lose ground in comparison to Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, and Hispanic peers in reading. There was no significant change in 2011 in average reading scores for American Indian and Alaska Native students compared to 2005 or 2009.
• While reading scores in 2011 did not change significantly for American Indian and Alaska Native fourth graders who were eligible for the National Student Lunch Program (NSLP) or not eligible, the reading score in 2011 for American Indian and Alaska Native eighth graders who were not eligible was higher than the score in 2005. In 2011, 72 percent of Native fourth graders and 66 percent of Native eighth graders participating in the 2011 reading assessment were eligible for NSLP—which is higher than the percentages in 2005 (65 and 60 percent respectively).
• Almost half of American Indian and Alaska Native students attend schools in rural locations. Most Native students attend low-density public schools. (Low density schools are where less than 25 percent of the students are American Indian/Alaska Native.)
• Regarding their education plans, American Indian and Alaska Native eighth-grade students were asked how often they talked to a family member, teacher, or school counselor about what classes to take in high school or about what they wanted to do after high school. The percentages of students who spoke to someone two or more times during the eighth grade ranged from 69 percent for students attending high-density schools (more than 25 percent of the students are American Indian/Alaska Native) to 75 percent for students attending low-density schools (less than 25 percent of the students are American Indian/Alaska Native). About one-third of Native eighth graders talked to a teacher and 16 to 18 percent talked to a school counselor two or more times about their education plans in and after high school. Approximately 60 percent of Native eighth-grade students reported NEVER talking to a school counselor about their future plans.
• Fifty-seven percent of Native eighth-graders in high-density and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools, and 63 percent in low-density schools plan to go to college full-time.
You can make a difference! Be the catalyst for change. Learn more about the American Graduate initiative at www.americangraduate.org.
See how NAPT is helping to decrease the achievement gap and encouraging students to get their high school diploma in Indian Country. Visit www.nativetelecom.org/amgrad today!
The National Indian Education Study (NIES) is designed to describe the condition of education for American Indian and Alaska Native students in the U.S. The study was conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) at the request of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Indian Education (OIE).
“The purpose of this funding is to increase the diversity of voices available to PBS viewers,” says NAPT Executive Director Shirley K. Sneve (Rosebud Sioux). “We encourage Native Americans to take on significant creative leadership roles, such as director, producer and editor. We want Native voices to have creative control, and not just in an advisory capacity.”
Across the Creek Producer: Jon Cournoyer (Rosebud Sioux) Broken by the legacy of colonialism, the Lakota Tribes struggle for restoration, healing and rebuilding. This film focuses on mostly the elder generation and their reflections on the youth, specifically to family structure, spirituality and language to help reclaim their stories, values and visions for the future.
Apache Scouts: An Untold Story Producers: Velma Craig (Diné) and Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo) The U.S. Army had little to no success subduing Apache bands of the Southwest, until White Mountain Apaches enlisted as Army Scouts. This film explores the complex histories of the Scouts, their relation to Geronimo and to securing the White Mountain Apache homeland.
Finding Refuge Producers: Torsten Kjellstand, Rob Finch, Jamie Francis, and Isabella Blatchford (Supiaq/Alutiiq, Inupiaq) The efforts of one dying woman to preserve her Native culture don’t end when she passes, but prompts a renewal in finding pride in that culture. She confronts the violent event over two centuries ago that began the destruction of her people and the shame that colonialism created.
Kivalina People Producer: Gina Abatemarco This film is an intimate and unique look into the public and private lives of one of America’s last Indigenous cultures trying to survive in the modern Arctic, where struggles of poverty, climate change, and culture are inextricably intertwined.
The Mayor of Shiprock Producer: Ramona Emerson (Diné) In the town of Shiprock, N.M., the harsh realities of Reservation life and the beautiful, reddened landscape of the rock formations build stories of survival and existence. Poverty and corruption have long been a struggle in the community and as the Navajo Nation looks for leadership, it is met with scandal. To make a change, a young group of men and women are taking back their community—led by 21-year-old Graham Beyale. This is the story of how one will make a difference and inspire a generation of leaders to make changes in their own communities.
Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian Producers: Sydney Beane (Flandreau Santee Sioux) and John Whitehead This documentary follows Kate Beane, a young Dakota women, as she examines the extraordinary life of her celebrated relative, Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa). Biography and journey come together as Kate traces Eastman’s path—from traditional Dakota boyhood, through education at Dartmouth College, and in later roles as physician, author, lecturer, and Native American advocate.
Rising Voices/Hothaninpi Producer: Wilhelm Meya This is the story of five young Lakotas who are on a journey to learn their language—representing a new generation transforming their world in the 21st century. Five short films by Lakota filmmakers will be integrated into 90-minute anchor film. Also, regional Native American filmmakers partnered with PBS stations will develop additional short films about each region’s Native American language.
Spirit in Glass Producer: Penny Phillips A celebration of Native American Plateau art and culture, the film emphasizes the origin and remarkable survival of the art form and culture as experienced by Native Plateau bead artists.
Yellow Fever Producer: Sophie Rousmaniere Tina Garnanez, a young Navajo woman, begins a personal investigation into the history of the Navajo Uranium Boom, examining its lasting impacts and the potential for new mining in the area. Looking at the cost of cheap energy and the future of the industry, Tina becomes an advocate, lobbyist, and a vocal proponent for environmental justice.
Young Lakota Producers: Marion Lipschutz, Rose Rosenblatt, and Heather Rae (Cherokee) This series of five short videos features leaders addressing Native American women’s health. It is an online complement to the documentary Young Lakota to be broadcast on “Independent Lens” in 2013. Distributed electronically, the videos are particularly relevant to the contemporary experience of young people, girls and women in Indian Country. Funds will be used for community engagement.
We Breathe Again Producer: Evon Peter (Neetsaii Gwich’in) One of the most difficult and tragic issues Alaska Native communities face today is suicide—with a rate six times the national average. This feature-length documentary is the story of four Alaska Natives wrestling with the impacts of suicide and illuminating a path towards healing.
About NAPT Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc. (NAPT), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) which receives major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, shares Native stories with the world through support of the creation, promotion and distribution of Native media. Founded in 1977, through various media—Public Television, Public Radio and the Internet—NAPT brings awareness of Indian and Alaska Native issues. NAPT operates VisionMaker, the premier source for quality Native American educational and home videos. All aspects of our programs encourage the involvement of young people to learn more about careers in the media—to be the next generation of storytellers. NAPT is located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. NAPT offers student employment, internships and fellowships. Reaching the general public and the global market is the ultimate goal for the dissemination of Native-produced media.
In an article by Matt Goodlett of Omaha, Neb.'s The Reader, the question is raised of "What is Uranium Mining in Nebraska Doing to Pine Ridge's Drinking Water?"
Elisha Yellow Thunder and her daughter Laila Pettigrew have a very personal reason for their research into the mining contamination. Laila was born with a number of medical anomalies--a cystic kidney, partially developed organs and a deformity in her lower spine. She also has catheter tubing located near her collarbone that is used for her kidney dialysis treatments three days a week.
As the article states, when Elisha was pregnant with Laila, she was living in Loneman, SD, near Oglala--a hotspot for uranium contamination. Elisha began to suspect that the birth defects were due to drinking the contaminated water.
Documentary filmmaker Suree Towfighnia (Standing Silent Nation) --who is shooting a film about Laila entitled Crying Earth Rise Up (image still above from film)--explores the opinions of those who oppose and support the expansion of uranium mining over the High Plains/Ogallala and the Arikara aquifiers in western South Dakota and Nebraska.
Recently, I was asked to help plan the cultural event for the National Congress of American Indians’ (NCAI) Annual Mid-Year Conference and Marketplace, June 17-20 in Lincoln, Neb.—NAPT’s hometown. It’s been a very exciting experience and I look forward to meeting all of the conference attendees. More importantly though, it is a chance for the community to engage with Tribal leaders and representatives from across the U.S.
As many of you already know and recall from the documentary film Good Meat, presented by NAPT, buffalo meat is not only a traditional food way, but it is very healthy—and sadly, hard to come by in many areas.
At the June 17 cultural event, we’re planning to have a feast and a traditional powwow. Chairwoman Rebecca White of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska also sits on the local planning committee with me, as well as NAPT’s Executive Director Shirley K. Sneve and many other vital members in our Lincoln/Omaha community and neighboring cities.
When we asked Chairwoman White for the donation of a buffalo, we knew it was a big request—literally. Without this donation, we wouldn’t be able to have the feast and more importantly—provide healthy food to our 800+ attendees. When she came back to say that they could make the donation and transport the processed bison meat to Lincoln, Neb., we were ecstatic. Now, our biggest challenge is finding a freezer that can hold it :-). I believe that we all looked at each other with huge smiles and started thinking about summertime BBQ, fresh soup, bison burgers and roast.
If you haven’t had the chance to meet Beau LeBeau (Oglala Lakota) of the Pine Ridge Reservation, be sure to check him out in the documentary Good Meat. In the film, LeBeau follows a traditional diet centered around buffalo meat and exercises regularly while under the supervision of a physician and nutritionist. It’s amazing what traditional, healthy food and exercise did for LeBeau and what it can do for each of us too! Looking towards summertime and the wardrobe that comes with it, I know that I’m ready to embark on a healthier diet…and exercise too. Are you?
In 2004, thirteen Indigenous grandmothers from all four corners, moved by their concern for our planet, came together at a historic gathering in Phoenicia, New York. At this event, they decided to form an alliance called "The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers" in response to a prophecy made by their ancestors thousands of years ago.
What can we learn from this film? Plenty of things. A process four years in the making and shot on location in the Amazon Rainforest, the mountains of Mexico, North America and at an undisclosed location with the Dalai Lama in India, you'll be captivated by the vision of these thirteen women. Their visions for healing and a call for change are highly documented in their spiritual journey.
Recently, Indian Country Today Media Network published an article entitled "Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers to Trek Trail of Tears with Australian Horse Trainer." This 800-mile trek from Oklahoma to Montana is nothing but astonishing. Horse trainer Carlos Tabernaberri was discovered by Noqah Elisi (Cherokee) after a man in a vision quest told her that she was to follow in the footsteps of her grandmothers. Elisi told ABC News that she saw a balance of right relationship with Carlos that she hadn't seen in other trainers--that he is a reminder of Cherokee values.
I just finished reading an article by Cheryl Crazy Bull on behalf of Indian Country Today Media Network. The article, entitled "Education is Key to Prosperity," really struck a chord with me, and I must say that I whole-heartedly agree.
Ms. Bull calls out how many people, after watching the ABC 20/20 special, "Hidden America: Children of the Plains" which depicted the daily lives of young people on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, asked what they could do to help. Pine Ridge is just one of many poor counties in the United States that expresses some of the symptoms of poverty which can include health problems, unhealthy addictions and lack of educational resources to reach full academic potential.
In the episode, 24-year-old host Chris Bashinelli--of MTV and The Sopranos fame--exposes viewers to a positive, fresh perspective of life on the Pine Ridge Reservation. In the episode, Bashinelli drops in on the day-to-day lives of local residents to find out about life on Pine Ridge, their stories and how they see themselves in the larger context of the world.
Bashinelli commented, "It seemed like the most famous Reservation in the United States, the one that was most talked about on the news, the one that had the most negative stories. I thought, this would be a great challenge, let's flip this negative story on its head, let's put a story of hope out there."
Indian Country Today reported in their August 22, 2011, issue that a shunned Columbus statue may be erected in Puerto Rico.
The controversial statue of Christopher Columbus, built 20 years ago, was intended to commerate the 500th anniversary of his arrival in 1492. Created by Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, the 600-ton statue entitled "Birth to the New World" depicts a colossal Columbus standing in a small boat with three sails. Numerous American cities passed on the opportunity to erect the statue.
This year, NAPT's VisionMaker released the 30-minute documentary film Columbus Day Legacy, which was recently named "Best Documentary" and "Best of Classification: Moving Images (Class X) at NMAI and SWAIA's 11th Annual Native Cinema Showcase. Navajo filmmaker Bennie Klain takes viewers into the quintessential American issues of free speech and ethnic pride against the backdrop of the ongoing Columbus Day parade controversy in Denver, Colorado, asking tough questions about identity and history in America.
I highly recommend that you watch the film Columbus Day Legacy. As you can see, although not a parade, we are faced with decisions of what to celebrate or honor as depicted in the article about the Columbus statue.
Lincoln, Neb.: Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc. (NAPT) awards up to $500,000 combined annually to a select handful of production and research & development projects by filmmakers across the nation to produce documentaries for PBS stations.
“The goal of the open call is to increase the diversity of voices available to PBS viewers,” says NAPT Executive Director Shirley K. Sneve (Rosebud Sioux). “We encourage Native Americans to take on significant creative leadership roles, such as director, producer and editor. We want Native voices to have creative control, and not just in an advisory capacity.”
The five films recommended for funding from FY2012’s submissions include:
Roadman Producers: Bennie Klain (Navajo) & Leighton Peterson Production Company: TricksterFilms, LLC Status: Research & Development A view of the Native American Church (NAC) through the lens of practicing Navajo roadmen, Roadman follows NAC spiritual leaders in Navajo land as they travel to the peyote fields in Texas, dealing with the Federal government and protecting their religious freedom from both Navajo and outside forces. Apache Scouts: An Untold Story Producer: Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache) Status: Research & Development The U.S. Army had little to no success subduing Apache bands of the Southwest until White Mountain Apaches enlisted as Army Scouts. The motive for this service was political strategy to secure homeland for posterity of White Mountain Apaches and had little to do with allegiance to the United States.
Rising Voices Producer: Wilhelm Meya Status: Research & Development A nation-building issue in Indian Country is the rescue and revival of Native American languages. Lakota youth, in particular, are eager to re-appropriate the language and its embedded concepts of place, ethics, action and purpose on their own terms—sometimes in ways that clash with others expectations or the status quo.
My Louisiana Love Producer: Sharon Hong Status: Completion A young, Native American woman returns to her Houma community in Southeast Louisiana to find a man-made environmental crisis threatening her people’s way of life. She must overcome the loss of her house, her father and her documentary partner and redefine the meaning of home.
The Dull Knifes: My Father and Me Producer: Eli Cane Status: Production A mix of observational documentary and animation explore the experience of growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation through the eyes of fifteen-year-old George Dull Knife, over the course of a momentous and difficult year.
About NAPT: Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc. (NAPT), a non-profit 501(c)(3) which receives major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, shares Native stories with the world through support of the creation, promotion and distribution of Native media. Founded in 1977, through various media—public television, public radio and the Internet—NAPT brings awareness of Indian and Alaska Native issues. NAPT operates AIROS Audio, offering downloadable podcasts with Native filmmakers, musicians and Tribal leaders. VisionMaker is the premier source for quality Native American educational and home videos. All aspects of our programs encourage the involvement of young people to learn more about careers in the media—to be the next generation of storytellers. NAPT is located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. NAPT offers student employment, internships and fellowships. Reaching the general public and the global market is the ultimate goal for the dissemination of Native-produced media.
Recently, I read a health article about 9 smart ways to keep your relationship healthy at any age.
A few of the recommendations that the website (Health.com) gave that stuck out to me include:
1. Watch your waistline. Just because you're in a relationship, doesn't mean you can skip the gym, taking walks and watching what you eat.
2. Have a financial plan. The study stated that nearly 40% of people have lied to their partner about a purchase. To avoid this, the article recommends discussing and setting ground rules before you tie the knot.
3. Be flexible. Life changes from when you're in your 20s, 30s, 40s and so on. Be willing to be flexible and adjust to changes that life throws your way as a couple.
4. Stay active as you age. The article stated that this doesn't mean just staying active as an individual, but as a couple by engaging in activity that gives you time to socialize and spend quality time with each other, such as hiking a trail together.
5. Be a conscious caregiver. A serious illness could affect anyone at any age. The article stated that partners who assume the role of "caregiver" sometimes feel burdened and thus their health diminishes. The article stated that if you need help, do not be afraid to ask when it is truly needed.
Reading these five statements that will encourage a successful relationship reminded me of Sterlin Harjo's (Seminole/Creek) feature-length film, Barking Water.
If you haven't had a chance to see it yet, I highly recommend that you do. The plot focuses on Frankie (Richard Ray Whitman), a Native man who is first seen leaving a hospital and speeds off in an older station wagon. Irene (Casey Camp-Horinek), is the woman who has loved Frankie for many years, but hasn't forgiven him for the many times before in their relationship when he has left her feeling hurt.
Frankie is making his last journey home to try to make amends, confronting the past, emotions of love and self-discovery. The film interweaves flashbacks to Frankie and Irene decades earlier, putting their lives and this journey through Oklahoma in context.
A tale of love and relationships, Barking Water is very real and engages you through the pit stops of a fractured relationship.