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Celebrating Indigenous ingenuity

It's time once again for another weekend edition of Indian Country Today

From the anniversary of one tribe's federal recognition, to flying drones, incorporating iconography into art, and celebrating the first Indigenous foods restaurant. Our guests run the gamut of fully realized Indigenous ingenuity. 

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Ron Allen is the tribal chairman and CEO of the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe. In fact, he was the first tribal chairman and has served in that position since the tribe was recognized, he joins the show to discuss the progress of his tribe and what he has planned for the future.

W. Ron Allen, tribal chairman and CEO of the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe. (Courtesy photo)

Ron Allen:

"This was in 75 and in 77 I became the chair and I started leading the charge. I picked up the charge on becoming federally recognized in the late seventies, mid seventies, late seventies is when the federal recognition process was unfolding in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And so we quickly got our petition together, got in the queue list back in that time around 75, 76 we became the 19th application and as they kept unfolding, the rules and criteria kept changing because of the strength of ours and the support that we had in our region here in the Northwest."

"Well, first of all, Medicaid quite frankly, it doesn't work for most of mainstream healthcare. The rates just don't work, for us it does, we can make it work and we've turned our healthcare program and clinic into business. And to make it work you have to be able to generate revenue or you can't recruit and secure, retain high-level professionals from the doctors, from the nurse specialists, RNs and the specialist healthcare, et cetera."

The Aleut community of St. Paul in Alaska is putting itself on the map by training their citizens to become drone pilots among other things. We are joined by Dylan Conduzzi, who is working to manage this important project.

Citizens of the Aleut community of St. Paul in Alaska learn to become drone pilots.

Dylan Conduzzi:

"Education is very important to the community. The capacity for education onsite during the needs assessment. And at that time was fairly limited basically limited to K through 12 a good chunk of students go offsite for either their high school education or post-secondary education. And so given those basics it made a lot of sense to me that education would be a priority and specifically development of education opportunities onsite."

"Back in 2017 we partnered with a company called Advanced Aerial Education who facilitated a 107 class drone training and onsite in St. Paul. Primarily we use those for monitoring wildlife and environment and doing some survey work as well. But we really wanted to build that capacity within the community as part of economic diversification. So we trained pilots and instructors in that course and put those skills to work onsite and also through educating others."

Sandra Hale Schulman recently profiled two artists who are bringing the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people to fashion and fine art. Her article, 'The powerful image of a red hand print' was recently posted on our website. Sandra joins us to talk about her story and the images that are being created by artists like Dante Biss-Grayson. 

Turquoise skirt with red hand print and crosses, Cerruti Chiffon, inner layer is Poly French Crêpe. From Sky Eagle Collective. (Photo courtesy of designer Dante Biss-Grayson)

Sandra Hale Schulman:

"His story was really fascinating to me. He is a war veteran. He did several tours of Iraq and Kuwait and Afghanistan and he said, he came back to the Southwest and he had so much trauma from what he saw in those tours that he wanted to do something immediate that could be creative but could also be socially helpful. So being an artist which is unusual that he would come out of a war situation like that and immediately turned to art."

"He latched onto the image of the red hand print and decided he could translate this into something that would be beautiful, but also make people socially aware or curious. So he digitally printed a red hand print onto these beautiful skirts, large, very large, and made a line of 400 skirts that is almost sold out. He's donated many of them. And it's a beautiful way of getting the message out, but also something wearable and gorgeous."

Next, we turn to culinary art. Sean Sherman is the Sioux Chef in Minneapolis, Minnesota. From the Oglala Lakota nation, Sherman gives us a preview of a new restaurant opening this spring. 

Sioux Chef Sean Sherman, left, and Neftali Duran, an Oaxacan chef, plate an Ojibwe salad during a cooking demonstration.

Sean Sherman:

"My name is Sean Sherman. I am the CEO and founder of the company, The Sioux Chef based here in Minneapolis. And we are in the future of the restaurant Owamni - By The Sioux Chef, which is going to be opening very soon. And we're going to be serving a lot of healthy Indigenous food. That's relevant to this area. And being able to tell a lot of story with our food."

"We prioritize purchasing from Indigenous vendors around us first, and we're just going to do a very regionally based menu. That's going to be really focused on the foods and the flavors of right here. We're just really excited to create a menu that's going to center around that. It's just going to be an amazing project to be able to create something that is Dakota inspired on Dakota land, and really tell the history of this land, right where we're standing."

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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. Follow her on Twitter @rosebudshirley She’s based in Nebraska and Minnesota.

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