Warriors who change the world

On this weekend edition of Indian Country Today, we’ll hear from warriors changing the world in different ways.
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First Nations Development Institute president and CEO Michael Roberts is on the show discussing investing in Native communities.

Paul DeMain, the retired editor of News from Indian Country joins us to talk Great Lakes treaty rights.

Bull riders are a particular kind of warrior and Dakota Louis, who is on the show today, is at the top of his game.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • First lady Jill Biden is wrapping up her trip to the Navajo Nation today. 
  • Minnesota’s state senate briefly had a new president, and she’s Native American. 
  • A new law in Oklahoma will help state and federal law enforcement agencies investigate missing and murdered Indigenous people. 
  • A city park in Richmond, California is honoring the Ohlone people. 
  • The deadline for an American Indian College Fund scholarship is fast approaching. 
  • Even though the official Earth day was Thursday you can still celebrate it this weekend.

Find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Michael Roberts, Tlingit

Michael Roberts, Tlingit

First Nations Development Institute believes that strong American Indian economies support healthy Native communities. They’ve made over two thousand grants since 1993 including $3.4 million last year in Covid-19 emergency grants. Joining us to talk about the impact of this investment is Tlingit citizen Michael Roberts, its president and CEO. The organization has invested quite a bit in agriculture and food systems, as well as building communities and youth programs.

"First nations has always been interested in a wide range of asset based development issues. I think that the ag and food space is right along that same line. When you look at what people spend money on, even even poor folks, food is a big part of that household spending, you know? So when you look at folks in Indian Country spending 40 percent of their household income on food and most of it leaving reservation economies into border towns, you started to figure out there's a huge potential impact from an economic development perspective on food and household spending."

"I would say two things, I think from the perspective of homegrown Indian philanthropies, their game is getting to be more and more, and they're getting to be healthier and healthier. The grandmother, grandfather of them all is Seventh Generation funding. We've been doing this for quite awhile and we're not too far behind them. But you have new entrance in the field. Not so new, but newer, the Potlatch Fund and very new, like the NDN Collective. And so from that perspective, I think you're seeing a lot more of that, that re-grantors who are doing great work."

Paul DeMain, Oneida and Ojibwe

Paul DeMain, Oneida and Ojibwe

Ojibwe hunting and fishing rights are guaranteed by treaties. They are the highest law of the land, even above federal law. However, there has been conflict on many of the lakes between tribal citizens and non-Native residents over fishing rights. Paul DeMain, Oneida and Ojibwe, is the former editor of News from Indian Country. DeMain joins us to give context to the controversy.

"And that became the beginning of what is known as the Voigt case or the Lac Courte Oreilles tribe versus the state of Wisconsin, which certified that off reservation hunting and fishing rights still existed. And that Ojibwe citizens had a right to access those resources on public lands in Northern Wisconsin at a rate of a 50 percent of anything that could be allocated out. But there's been disputes over sentences. State of Wisconsin was nowhere ready to face those judgements. And in fact, I think that everyone was so assured that the state of Wisconsin was gonna win, that they were totally unprepared. We were then faced with the media headlines that had to be rebutted."

"And that was the Milwaukee journal Sentinel on that day issued a headline to rows deep that said a judge gives Indians unlimited, right dot and fish in Wisconsin. It, the judge didn't give the Chippewa Indians anything they didn't already have and had reserved. And it wasn't just Indians. I'm a member of the United nation not no giveaway, a treaty descendant. Therefore I didn't have a right to hunt and fish in an unlimited manner. And so we've had to work as a community to adjust those perceptions from the very beginning. And a lot of it has led to disputes in Northern Wisconsin and made exercising those rights, whether it's something fishing or gathering medicines in the woods, a dangerous situation, some cases."

Dakota Louis, Northern Cheyenne and Blackfeet

Dakota Louis, Northern Cheyenne and Blackfeet

The International Professional Bull Riding Competitions had their first meet this weekend. Dakota Louis, who is of both Northern Cheyenne and Blackfeet descent is one of the top Native American riders in PBR. He joins us today to speak about what bull riding means to him and his family.

"I was born and raised in a rodeo family out on a ranch raising cows and raising horses. And my family, they did all the events. My dad, he was a world champion Indian bull rider. So growing up he was my hero and I didn't want to really do anything else besides be a cowboy. So I'm just blessed to be able to live the dream. It's so awesome for us. I mean the amount of opportunity we've been given to be able to ride bulls for a living at such high level. It's just a blessing for us really. I mean to be able to go against the absolute best guys in the world and the best animal athletes, I mean, for a bull riders, it's the definitely the cream of the crop. So I'm just so blessed to be able be a part of it and to be considered one of the best in the world."

"Oh you definitely have to make time for yourself throughout your whole journey of what you got going. I mean, a lot of people think we're just crazy guys to go out there and hang on tight for however long. Well, I mean, you definitely have to be in the best shape you can be in because them 2000 pound bulls, they don't really care who you are, what you do, they want to buck you off. So, to go on it day in and day out, you have to be mentally prepared. We have barrels and we have practice bulls and I'm one of the guys who ride horses a lot. I ranch. So, we definitely stay active and just do a lot of the mechanics of what it takes to stay on."

Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Shirley Sneve, Sicangu Lakota, is vice president of broadcasting for Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter @rosebudshirley She’s based in Nebraska and Minnesota.

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider

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