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Dancing for the People

Learn about the Jingle Dress Project and the Heard Museum’s Hoop Dance Competition. Cherokee Scholar looks to the treaty for guidance on Freedmen’s citizenship. In Minnesota, courts look to restorative justice.
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Navajo photographer Eugene Tapahe and his daughter Erin share their Jingle Dress project with an eye towards healing during a pandemic.
When a Native American activist tipped over a Christopher Columbus statue in front of the Minnesota state capitol last summer, prosecutors faced a dilemma: how do you fairly try a man who broke the law but also stood up against injustice? Reporter Stewart Huntington looks at peacemaking.

Who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation? Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. weighed in on that earlier this month, when the candidacy of a descendant of Cherokee freedmen was challenged by another office seeker. Joshua Nelson, a Cherokee citizen, is an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma brings context to the rights of Freedmen.
Diné dancer Kailayne Jensen wins the Teen Division at the Heard Museums’s hoop dance competition. Tony Duncan wins overall.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • The Bemidji City Council just got more Indigenous. Dan Jourdain, Red Lake Ojibwe, is the second Native American elected to the City Council in northern Minnesota. With the win, Jourdain joins a 7-person council that includes his mentor and friend Audrey Thayer, who is White Earth Ojibwe.
  • Correspondent Carina Dominguez has more on Representative Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren. The new lawmaker was recently sworn in at Arizona’s state capitol. Blackwater-Nygren is Dine and at 25, is the youngest member serving in the modern era.
  • The Louis Riel School Division in Winnipeg is using Minecraft to teach students about Manitoba’s Anishinaabe culture. It’s a first of its kind tool that uses an educational version of the game. Creating the game took 14 months of development with stakeholders located in Canada, the United States, and Australia.

You'll find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show

Eugene Tapahe | Diné

Eugene Tapahe | Diné

Photographer, Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project

“In my dream, I was in a place where I find peace all the time--Yellowstone National Park. In my dream, I was sitting in a field of green grass and watching bison graze in the sunset. All of a sudden I heard the jingles from jingle dresses and out of the sides of my view, all these jingle dress dancers started coming onto the grass. And they just started, really started dancing. And to me at the time, it sound, it looked like they were dancing with the bison. This peace and this hope, and this feeling of healing actually overcame me.”

Erin Tapahe | Diné        

Erin Tapahe | Diné        

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Jingle Dress Dancer

“Me and my sister, the day before we ran a marathon and we were really worried that our feet and our bodies weren't going to be able to keep us dancing the whole song, but then as we were dancing, I felt that like my body was healing and it was just a really great time. And there was this feeling of like, this is what we're supposed to do. This is where we're meant to be in this moment in time. So it was really, it was really special.”

Mark Trahant | Shoshone-Bannock

Mark Trahant | Shoshone-Bannock

“When a Native American activist tipped over a Christopher Columbus statue in front of the Minnesota state capitol last summer, prosecutors faced a dilemma. How do you fairly try a man who broke the law but also stood up against injustice? They found an answer using an ancient tool: Peacemaking talking circles.”

Joshua Nelson, Ph.D. | Cherokee

Joshua Nelson, Ph.D. | Cherokee

Some of the conversation happens on social media. I'd venture to say most of it happens there, and unfortunately as we've seen in other places, those conversations are not always taking advantage of a wealth of historical background material. There's not a lot of room for nuance. There's not a lot of room for complexity. There's a lot of room for anger and vitriol. I think the nation--Cherokee and the U.S.--is faced with a challenge about how to carry on a civil conversation with greater depth and complexity. I think we would do well to engage in a more robust kind of journalism. Perhaps we can figure out ways that we can build it out and insist on some civility in our conversations as we open up new spaces.”

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

Shirley Sneve, Sicangu Lakota, is a producer/writer for Indian Country Today. Twitter: @rosebudshirley Sneve is based in Nebraska.

Carina Dominguez, Pascua Yaqui, is a correspondent for Indian Country Today. Twitter: @Carinad7 Dominguez splits her time between Phoenix, AZ and New York, NY.

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