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Attack Upsets Schedules Through Indian Country As Well as Rest of U. S.

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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. -- The terrorist attacks of September 11 are disrupting plans throughout Indian country along with the rest of the continent.

Days of mourning, suspension of air travel and interruption of communications are putting a hold on gala openings, conferences and performances, as well as normal life in general.

The most direct impact is falling on the tens of thousands of urban Indians in New York City, although to date none have been identified as victims of the attacks.

"It's a pretty horrible situation," said Rosemary Richmond, executive director of the American Indian Community House, located on Broadway near the East Village about three and a half miles northeast of the Twin Towers.

The AICH and the George Gustav Heye center of the National Museum of the American Indian at the southern tip of Manhattan are the two Indian-oriented institutions closest to the disaster zone.

Because of the distance, said Richmond, AICH hasn't felt the physical impact "other than the odor when the wind is blowing in this direction." But, she said, "a lot of our staff was stranded."

AICH offices were in the shut-down zone of the city for about three days, said Richmond, "but we stayed open with a skeleton crew and served our clients."

Community House performances have been postponed, she said, "although it's not a really busy time of year."

Perhaps the most significant event on several levels is a work called "The Eagle Dance" originally set to be performed by the Lotus Music and Dance academy on Saturday, September 22. It has been rescheduled to March 16, 2002. The piece, a combination of modern and traditional dance, honors the Mohawk high steel workers, now prominent in the rescue effort.

The Native American Music Association, also located in Manhattan, announced a one-week extension of the voting deadline on this year's Nammy awards. Paper ballots, which were due by September 24, will now be accepted through October 1, said president Ellen Bello. "Everyone in New York lost a week," she said.

The Nammy awards will still be held as scheduled on October 20 at the Sandia Casino Amphitheater in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Balloting also continues through the website.

The Mohegan Tribe in Uncasville, Connecticut, is going ahead with the opening of its new Casino of the Sky on Tuesday, September 25, but it has cancelled the planned festivities, including a gala party and fireworks.

"It's not a time for celebration," said Tribal Chairman Mark Brown. "We will have a soft opening with a ribbon cutting and the doors will open."

Another open house was postponed in Nashville, Tennessee the day after the attack. The event would have marked the opening of the Eastern Regional office of the BIA, relocated from Arlington, Virginia. James T. Martin, executive director of the United South and Eastern Tribes, said a new time "would be announced at a later date."

The BIA office is moving to space in the headquarters building of USET in Nashville.

Martin noted that the attack also caused rescheduling of a National Indian Health Board conference in Denver. "This [attack] has had major impact on tribes interacting with government," he said, "as we realize more pressing priorities."

The attack also caused cancellation of a national seminar of 200 Indian leaders sponsored by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. The meeting, scheduled for Santa Fe, New Mexico on the weekend following the disaster, would be "too celebratory" to be appropriate at this time, said coordinator Andrew Lee. In addition, he said, travel would be almost impossible given the national shut-down of air service.