The power of the individual to unite

Navajo-Hopi relief fund delivers help to Navajo and Hopi Elders. Vision Maker Media celebrates 45 years. Protesters bring attention to Enbridge Line 3 that will carry 760,000 barrels of oil per day, including tar sands, from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. Google honors Zitkala Sa.
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Ethel Branch saw a need to help Hopi and Navajo elders get much needed supplies to the remote reservations. She created the Navajo-Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates called Branch one of the seven unsung heroes for leadership during the COVID crisis.

With humble beginnings in a Lincoln, Nebraska basement, the Blythe Family (father and daughter) reflect on 45 years of service to Native Media.

Mary Annette Pember reports on contentious pipeline issues in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Yvonne Russo, Rosebud Sioux, brings us a PBS animation on Zitkala Sa, who was featured on the Google homepage in honor of her birthday.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • The Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus pandemic relief bill includes $20 billion targeted to tribal governments and another $8 billion will increase federal programs spending at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and other Indian programs.
  • Nez Perce Tribal Council member Jamie Pinkham has been named as the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, one of two positions in the U.S. Army that oversees the work of the Corps of Engineers.
  • The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ruled this week in a unanimous decision that the language “by blood” is void, and should be removed from Cherokee Nation’s constitution and laws.
  • Carthage College in Wisconsin is the latest school to rebrand its athletics department due to rising awareness of racial justice and cultural appropriation. The new name for the liberal arts college in Kenosha Firebirds--a vibrant creature featured in Russian and Slavic mythology.
  • A painting created more than 17,000 years ago by Aboriginal artists is being identified with a little help from some ancient wasp nests. The BBC reports the rock art is more than six feet long and features a kangaroo. It’s on the sloped ceiling of a rock shelter in Western Australia's Kimberley region.

Quotes from Friday’s show:

Ethel Branch, Navajo interim director of the Navajo-Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund.

“Some of the first women I reached out to were Hopi, and there was a lot of excitement within our group about having it be a joint Navajo and Hopi effort because people are so tired of the division between the two tribes. And many of us were raised with stories of cooperation. Like my mom taught me that you know, why Hopi is located in the center of Navajo is because we were their protectors. And our family had huge farms. We would bring our farm goods up to Hopi and mutton and do trading. And so there was this really beautiful reciprocal relationship. And many of the folks on my team have similar stories as well.”

Frank Blyther, Eastern Band of Cherokee and Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota, is the founding director of Vision Maker Media.

“We started out basically as a station membership organization, public television station. So they impetus behind our, our initial organization. They got us together at the time. There were about six native Americans working in public television in our public media.”

Francene Blythe-Lewis, Dine and Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota is the executive director of Vision Maker Media.

“We put our film festival that was in-person in Lincoln, Nebraska every other year. We put it online last year and it kind of blew the visibility of native story and vision micro media out of the world water worldwide. We received more than 164,000 streams to watch our film festival. We had subscriptions increase up to 15,000 more and feedback was just, people really had no idea that native Americans were so abundant, successful and struggling, but also thriving within our cultures and communities on all kinds of social topics.”

Shania Matteson, water protector, Palisade, Minnesota.

“There's a way that it feels like it's putting me in conflict with people that I care about and people in my community. And it seems sometimes like there isn't common ground anymore because it's, you know, the pipeline is ripping through the community. And a lot of people here believe that it's like, like they'd said, it's a done deal. It's inevitable. Why are we bothering to protest? Are we just causing problems and that kind of thing.”

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

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