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2011 Retrospective: February

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Guilty of Being an Indian

The shocking shooting death of woodcarver John T. Williams, who was merely crossing the street when killed, could be the tragedy that finally forces the Seattle Police Department, which has a long history of intolerance to the city’s large Indian population, to stop abusing minorities.

The Language of Savagery

A spate of insults to Indian country—including New York Mayor Bloomberg’s suggestion that Gov. Paterson “get yourself a cowboy hat and shotgun” to enforce a law on cigarette taxes sold on reservations—spurred a loud protest against the pervasive insensitivity in the media to hateful language that denigrates Indians.

Nez Perce Oppose Mega-Loads

They are three stories high, as long as a football field, weigh 300 tons and have 96 tires—and they may soon be rumbling a mere 50 feet from the birthplace of the Nez Perce people. These monster trucks will haul huge pieces of mining equipment through Nez Perce territory.

Free to Be Intolerant

Freedom of religion may be in the U.S. Constitution, but it isn’t guaranteed on all reservations. A Christian Cree community tore down a sweat lodge built by one of its members, and banned traditional Cree practices and ceremonies. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Canada Fights TB Scourge

Nunavut’s tuberculosis rate is 62 times the national average, with at least 100 active cases diagnosed in 2010, up from 58 in 2008. This has spurred health officials to call TB the territory’s most pressing public health issue. On January 13, the federal government allocated $800,000 for a public outreach, education, diagnosis and treatment program. Health workers will go door to door to diagnose and treat latent TB infections. They will also educate the public through meetings, focus groups and social media to stave off the potentially fatal infection.

B.C. Chiefs Blast Infant Death Report

Aboriginal leaders and other officials were expressing shock, sorrow and anger recently at ongoing conditions that contributed to the deaths of 21 infants over a two-year period, 15 of them aboriginal. All the children were under age 2, most lived in extreme poverty and all died under unsafe sleeping conditions.

Tearing Down the Wall Around Wall Street

NativeOne Institutional Trading, LLC stands in line to become the first Native American-owned member of the New York Stock Exchange. According to Donald Lyons, founder and CEO of NativeOne and member of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, NativeOne’s entry into the stock market symbolically represents American Indians breaking down the wall originally built by Dutch colonists in lower Manhattan. Erected in 1653, according to the PBS documentary film The Center of the World, the wall blocked the New Amsterdam settlement from British and Native American invaders. In 1699, the British knocked down the wall, paving a lane called Wall Street.

Chevron Nailed for $8.6 Billion

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A judge in Ecuador declared Chevron guilty of widespread contamination in the Amazon and ordered it to spend $8.6 billion to clean up the mess. Chevron will appeal.

Native Education Saved from House Cuts

Education programs for Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians were protected from inclusion in the sweeping $61 billion cut to the federal budget approved by Republicans of the U.S. House of Representatives February 19.

The Trust for America’s Health has issued its 2015 report on obesity in the U.S., and there’s no good news for the American Indian/Alaska Native community.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price

Native American Goalie Standout, Carey Price

Goaltender Carey Price (Ulkatcho First Nation), has amassed a stellar career with the Montreal Canadiens. He was the fifth pick in 2005, named to the 2007-2008 NHL All-Rookie team and was a starter in the 2009 NHL All-Star Game. He was first in the NHL to reach 21 wins that year, making him just the seventh goalie in NHL history to post three 20-win seasons before his 24th birthday.

Shoni Schimmel, Superstar

It’s safe to say that University of Louisville freshman superstar point guard Shoni Schimmel is one of the best female basketball players in the country. Period. ESPN likened her exploits on the court to basketball legend Pistol Pete Maravich. The freshman averaged 15.8 points and 5.7 assists per game in the ultra-competitive Big East Conference. “We’ll be sitting in the team computer lab looking at Shoni YouTube clips, and she’ll walk in,” junior Becky Burke said to The Courier-Journal. “It’s a little embarrassing that we’re YouTubing one of our teammates.”

A European Vacation 1,000 Years Ago?

Agnar Helgason, an associate research professor at the University of Iceland discovered that a small group of Icelanders—roughly 350—carried a genome usually seen only in Asians and Native Americans, and transmitted from mother to daughter. “We figured it was a recent arrival from Asia,” said Helgason. “But we discovered a much deeper story than we expected.”

Students Protest Outrageous Legislation

High school students and community members are protesting an Arizona bill that aims to eliminate ethnic studies programs. It prohibits schools from offering courses at any grade level that “advocate ethnic solidarity, promote overthrow of the U.S. government, or cater to specific ethnic groups,” and requires the dismantlement of all Arizona’s Mexican-American studies programs.

Dan Snyder Tackled for Racism

Dan Snyder, owner of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, filed a lawsuit charging that a free weekly alternative newspaper had published “lies” in a November cover story involving Snyder’s business dealings. Accompanying the article was a doctored photo of Snyder with a beard, horns and bushy eyebrows penciled in. Soon after that publishing, Indians learned they had some friends in new places, including snarky New York blogs, wonky policy publications, and popular sports rags nationwide. The calls of support for Native Americans seemed to be everywhere. NPR, The Huffington Post, and many Facebook and Twitter messages lit up with a common message to Snyder: Change the name of the team, and quit being such a hypocrite.

(Click hereif you missed yesterday's January 2011 retrospective.)