Acknowledging the sacred

On this weekend edition of Indian Country Today we're talking about credit cards, sacred spaces, and one family's Memorial Day quest.
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A slice of our Indigenous world

  • A bill in Arizona will help improve the process to report cases of missing children. 
  • In South America, mass protests in Colombia continue to grow, Carina Dominguez has more.
  • The National Hockey League is dealing with the racist actions of some fans. 
  • According to the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs two million women are living veterans.

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

Patrice Kunesh, Lakota descendant

Patrice Kunesh, Lakota descendant

Good news about credit card debt: Americans are paying them off these days. Yet, that good news also comes with tempting offers for more credit. Patrice Kunesh is a lawyer and has banking experience. She established the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Patrice Kunesh:

"Credit card companies will work with banks. Look at the depository accounts history over time. Are they paying on time? Do they have overdrafts? So the amazing thing is that we're revolutionizing, reforming the credit card industry, which is really important to expand the concept of predator worthiness. And the problem for the application for Indian Country is that a healthy percentage, 18 percent of Native Americans are unbanked."

"So they still may be a population that won't have access to this new offer. The other concern of course, is that the lack of, historical lack of credit in Indian Country, there really are no banks. We've been victims of predatory lending cash, checking, gouges discrimination and redlining. We haven't been able to buy houses with mortgages and cars and, and just deal with typical emergency funds."

Scott Saiki, Native Hawaiian

Scott Saiki, Native Hawaiian

To Native Hawaiians, Mauna Kea is sacred. It’s a very special place. Scientists agree and want to see the Thirty Meter Telescope built there. Before the pandemic, up to 30 thousand people camped and protested against its construction. The Hawaiian State Legislature has established a working group to discuss how the site is managed. Three of its members are leading the protest movement. House Speaker Scott Saiki joins us to talk about this House Resolution. 

Scott Saiki:

"The astronomy issue dates back to the 1960s, when the governor at that time worked with the community on the big island, the island of Hawaii to create an astronomy program. And as a part of that, the state of Hawaii issued a master lease to the university of Hawaii for the university to manage Mauna Kea, including the summit of Mauna Kea, where you now have 13 telescopes that have been built there."

"So over the years, since 1968 you know, there has been more concern about the management of Mauna Kea. The lease is a 65 year lease, so it is set to expire in the year 2033. And at that point, the state will have to make a decision on whether or not to continue the lease the master lease with the university of Hawaii or find another way of, of managing Mauna Kea."

Ivy Vainio, Ojibwe & Arne Vainio, Ojibwe

Ivy Vainio, Ojibwe &
Arne Vainio, Ojibwe

The Luxembourg American Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 5,000 World War Two soldiers. They died serving their country on foreign soil. Sgt. John Mercer is one of them. Sgt. Mercer is the great uncle of Ivy Vainio. Ivy joins us today with her husband Arne Vainio. He wrote about visiting the grave in a News from Indian Country column in 2013.

Ivy Vainio:

"I started searching and researching John and found him at Luxembourg American military cemetery. And that was so powerful to receive some information about him that my family didn't even know. So then Arnie, my husband had this great idea that we should take a trip out to Luxembourg, and that's what we did in 2013 to honor my great uncle and our family. And it was so powerful and so moving to be at the grave site."

Arne Vainio:

"It was beautiful. Ivy had already been putting up a family flag at the Grand Portage Pow Wow every year. As Native people, everybody honors their veterans. And there's a veteran song when they come out, when the grand entry is. And to know that he was so young and he did give his life for his country. To be there and to be among 5,076 white crosses in all perfect alignment and birds flying around it was a really peaceful scene. And to be able to see Ivy sitting by Johnny's grave was powerful in and of itself.

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Carina Dominguez, Pascua Yaqui, is a correspondent for Indian Country Today. Dominguez is based in Phoenix New York.  On Twitter: @Carinad7, Instagram:

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.