A tweet from the White House hasn’t completely derailed Indian Country. But it caused significant damage.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation gave nearly half a million dollars to 136 rural Oklahoma fire departments Monday night during the tribe’s annual Volunteer Firefighter Ceremony at the new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah.

Each year, rural fire departments rely on fundraisers, membership dues and the help of good Samaritans to maintain their operations.

To honor them, Cherokee Nation provided each department with a check for $3,500, totaling $476,000, to help with equipment, fuel or other items needed to protect lives and properties of families in rural northeastern Oklahoma.

The funding is set aside in the tribe’s budget each year.

“Volunteer fire departments and the men and women volunteer firefighters who serve in them are protecting lives and property each and every day,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “They deserve the continued thanks and support of the Cherokee Nation, and that’s why the tribe proudly invests in rural fire departments every year. These funds ensure they can be better equipped to protect our families, our homes and our property.”

Kansas Fire Department in Delaware County and Keys Fire Department in Cherokee County were both recognized as 2019 Volunteer Fire Department of the Year.

Kansas Fire Department offers a strong level of service and support to its community and to neighboring fire departments. Firefighters with the department are known for reaching out to victims of a tragedy to assist in their recovery, placing their community members first. They are also quick to assist other fire departments in times of need.

“I have an awesome team, and I wish we knew who nominated us for this award. We are shocked,” said Kansas Fire Chief Jason Martin.

In the aftermath of a tornado in 2018, the Keys Fire Department was able to assist a neighboring department in conducting a systematic search during the rescue and recovery efforts. The fire department is also proactive in its community, working with local schools throughout the year to teach fire safety and ensuring the department is represented at community events.

“This is quite an honor,” said Keys Fire Chief Yogi Cole. “We’re really proud of what our department has accomplished and really shocked that we got this award with so many good departments in the Cherokee Nation. The Keys Fire Department has had a good couple of years with a lot of improvements and growth. We’re progressing quite well. We’ve been working to gain new members and personnel, and that really helps our department.”

The Cherokee Nation also selected five recipients for the 2019 Volunteer Firefighter of the Year awards:

Brandon Qualls, of the Keys Fire Department, for his quick response to emergency calls during his 20 years with the department. Qualls is known as a leader in the department and is always one of the first to respond. Recently, Qualls arrived at a structure fire and rescued a German Shepherd. Qualls found the dog during his initial search inside the burning home. Qualls secured the canine, which was uninjured, inside a tanker truck until the homeowner arrived at the scene.

Debate opened on the Violence Against Women Act amid doubts about its future in a Congress divided along party lines.

WASHINGTON —  On March 6, 2019, during its annual Impact Week in Washington, DC, the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes (MAST) hosted an honoring of the long-time tribal leader, Frank Ettawageshik. Frank is a renowned artist, storyteller, tribal leader, friend and advisor to many, as well as a formidable defender of tribal sovereignty, and an avid cultural preservationist. Additionally, a donation establishing a new initiative, named in honor of Frank, was initiated in collaboration with the Association on American Indian Affairs to promote indigenous cultural resources protection.

Frank is the former Chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. During his 14-year tenure as Chairman, Frank was instrumental in the adoption of the Tribal and First Nations Great Lakes Water Accord in 2004 and the United League of Indigenous Nations Treaty in 2007.

Frank now serves as the Executive Director of the United Tribes of Michigan and wears many other hats including the Board President of the Association on American Indian Affairs, the Chairman of the United League of Indigenous Nations Governing Board, a Co-chair of the National Congress of American Indians Federal Acknowledgment Task Force, and an advisor to the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET).

His 40+ years of public service has included serving on the Executive Board of the National Congress of American Indians, the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, the Historical Society of Michigan, the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, the Michigan Climate Action Council, the Little Traverse Conservancy, the Michigan Travel Commission, the Public Interest Advisory Group for the International Joint Commission’s Upper Great Lakes Study, the Michigan Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council, the Great Lakes Water Quality Board, and the Michigan Water Use Advisory Council.

In his honoring speech, Frank gave credit to Tom Maulson, former Chairman of Lac du Flambeau Chippewa, for imparting the confidence to wear his ribbon shirt and beads when visiting members of Congress because it’s important that people remember who we are when they see us. He said that it also helps keep us aware that by our words and our deeds, we are representing our people. Frank recollected his relationship with Dale Kildee, former Congressman from Michigan and the positive impact that he had on Frank. The Congressman always carried a pocket copy of the United States Constitution highlighting the important areas regarding Indian tribes. This inspired Frank to carry around a pocket copy of his Tribe’s Constitution, making those available to members of the US Congress when he visited with them.

Frank spoke about Congressman Kildee’s work on the founding of the Congressional Native American Caucus which helped better organize the advocacy for Indian Country priorities. It became the largest informational caucus in the United States Congress. Frank also talked about the work of the Association on American Indian Affairs as an avid defender of tribal cultural resources for almost one hundred years. Frank concluded by giving honor and praise to his wife, as well as his children and their mother for the sacrifices they made, and the support they gave so that Frank could walk the path the Creator had in store for him.

The Honorable Aaron Payment (Chairman of the Sault St. Marie Tribe; Vice President of MAST; First-Vice President of National Congress of American Indians; President of United Tribes of Michigan), recounted his first meeting with Frank as a happenstance cab ride. He credited Frank with teaching him how to stand in unity with other Indian tribes and to live his life in a way that strives for unity. “He is humbly setting new directions and changing paradigms…” said Payment.

During the honoring, Frank received several wonderful gifts symbolic of his leadership over the years. Jamie Edwards (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe), gifted Frank with a beautiful Pendleton blanket. From the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe in North Carolina, Frank was gifted with a breathtaking piece in the form of a turtle adorned with Haliwa-Saponi symbols created by Senora Lynch (Haliwa-Saponi) Living Traditions Pottery. Entitled: “Bearing Gifts: Blackberry Winter.” the gift represents that Tribe’s story about the time of the year black bears come out from hibernation, and contains items indicative of the spiritual talents the Creator provides to people. Earl Evans (Haliwa-Saponi) serving as the master of ceremonies for the honoring, explained how the story depicted by the pottery, and each of these different spiritual talents, represent the way Frank has shared his spiritual talents with him and others in Indian County.

Ernie Stevens, Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, gifted Frank with an Eighth Generations blanket, and Stevens honored Frank’s wife Rochelle with a beaded necklace. He likened this to Frank teaching him that if it were not for the patience and love of his family, he would not be able to dedicate so much of himself to Indian Country. Stevens then warmly recounted attributes that make Frank such a profound leader, cultural steward, and protector of indigenous rights. “He can be a gentleman, he’s a statesman, but if something’s going wrong you don’t have to go far to hear it, he is a very, very powerful leader, he doesn’t have to be loud to make his point. If Indian Country is at risk he is on the front line, he is one of the greatest leaders of modern times….” said Stevens.

Honoring luncheon co-sponsors and champions in the cultural preservation field such as Gray & Pape Heritage Management and Red Cedar Solutions were present to support the recognition of Frank’s work. Co-sponsors Bold Concepts was also on hand for the auspicious occasion. “We are proud to have the opportunity to recognize Frank’s work,” said Gary Bailey, Director of Client Development at Bold Concepts.

Frank’s speech was a reminder that each of us is someone’s seventh (7th) generation. He instructed us about considering the consequences of our actions forward for seven generations. With that said, Frank simply stated that “we should all strive to be good ancestors.”

To continue honoring Frank’s legacy of cultural preservation, as well as help, keep the modernization of cultural heritage protection at the forefront of the Indian Country agenda, a check was presented to the Association on American Indian Affairs to help inspire a new collaborative initiative to sustain that conversation. According to Gray & Pape’s President, Kevin Pape “We all want the same thing, responsible action. If we can bring everyone together to talk more frequently,
we can bridge the communication gap about how we [tribes, industry & the public] work together to have better outcomes regarding the fate of America’s irreplaceable indigenous heritage. Frank is the kind of person that understands this and has achieved so many successes by communicating across sectors and interests.”

The Big Fire Law and Policy Group promises to fight for tribes and their rights.

TULSA, Okla. — Season five of “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People” debuts April 7, bringing even more documentary-style profiles on the people, places, heritage, history and culture of the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee people.

“The power of storytelling is deeply ingrained in Cherokee culture, and nothing is more powerful than having the opportunity to tell our own story,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “OsiyoTV is our collective story, featuring our people, told in our voice. We couldn’t be prouder of this show and all it has done over the previous four years to help build an understanding and appreciation for the Cherokee Nation, its people, and its rich culture.”

Season five will keep viewers on the edge of their seats as they witness a Coast Guard rescue drill, learn to survive in the wilderness without supplies and meet Cherokee athletes thrilling crowds from high school to the NCAA. The new season unveils new stories featuring powerful but not as well-known Cherokee women, showcases traditional Cherokee arts such as flint knapping and basketry, and reminds viewers of the impacts of nearly forgotten events like the displacement of dozens of Cherokee families from present-day Camp Gruber.

“We’ve been inspired by every feature in this season, and we think you will be too,” said Jennifer Loren, executive producer, and host. “It is an honor to share these stories on behalf of the Cherokee people, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the support we’ve had from our loyal viewers. In just four and a half years, we have produced more than 160 short documentaries for this program, a true testament to the rich and beautiful stories our people have to tell. We can’t wait to share this season. It will not disappoint.”

The series and the short documentaries within it has earned numerous regional, national and international accolades, including five Heartland Regional Emmy awards and recognition at film festivals across the globe.

“Entering season five, it’s remarkable to look back at where we started and see how far we’ve come since,” said Amanda Clinton, vice president of communications at Cherokee Nation Businesses and creator of OsiyoTV. “We started this program to showcase outstanding Cherokees, educate those outside of our tribe and build pride in our people, but it’s become so much more than that. Our short documentaries are now being accepted into national and international film festivals and even Academy Award-qualifying film festivals. We’re taking tribal storytelling to a level not seen before in Indian Country.”

OsiyoTV is available statewide on PBS in Oklahoma and Arkansas, regionally within Tulsa on RSU-TV, in Joplin on NBC and ABC, as well as on FNX, an all-Native programming network in 20 national markets. The show is formatted for multiple platforms, including www.osiyo.tvYouTubeVimeoFacebookTwitter and more. It is funded and produced by Cherokee Nation Businesses.

For more information and to watch “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People,” please visit www.osiyo.tv.

Despite opposition from tribal leaders, bills to shield South Dakota from costs of conflicts over the Keystone XL Pipeline sailed through the state Legislature.

Pete Kaiser became the first Yup’ik musher March 13 to win the Iditarod, North America’s premier long-distance sled dog race.

Kaiser and his dog team crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska at 3:39:06 a.m. local time, completing the race in 9 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes, 6 seconds. His good friend, 2018 Iditarod champion Joar Leifseth Ulsom, finished 12 minutes 16 seconds later.

Kaiser’s win is the pinnacle of a remarkable 10-year mushing career that includes six top-10 Iditarod finishes, four consecutive Kuskokwim 300 championships, two first-place finishes in the Paul Johnson Memorial Norton Sound 450, and first-place finishes in the Kobuk 400 and the 226-mile Denali Doubles.

People from Kaiser’s hometown of Bethel drummed and danced and the crowd cheered wildly as Kaiser and team arrived under police escort and crossed the finish line under the burled arch. Kaiser embraced his family, wife Bethany, and children Ari and Aylee and then went up the line congratulating his dog team as the applause and cheers continued.

“It seems like half of Bethel is here,” an Iditarod Insider announcer said.

The anticipation of Kaiser’s win grew in Native Alaska as he got checkpoint by checkpoint closer to the finish line. Children cheered him in Elim (Pete! Kaiser! Pete! Kaiser!). Villagers in White Mountain sang a song for him; an elder put her hand on his shoulder and wished him good luck.

“This gives a lot of other younger people the confidence that with time, money and effort, they can do it too,” Iditarod veteran Chuck Schaeffer, Inupiaq, said of Kaiser’s win. Schaeffer’s daughter, Bailey, a college student who has mushed in local races, said of Kaiser’s win: “It’s pretty cool. It will definitely inspire younger Alaska Native mushers.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska even chimed in to congratulate Kaiser. “A big congratulations to Pete Kaiser of Bethel and team on his first #Iditarodwin. Your determination and motivation is one to be admired. What an incredible race! #Iditarod2019

This year’s 998-mile race gave mushers and teams plenty of challenges: teeth-jarring tussocks in the town of Iditarod, blowing snow along the coastline of Norton Sound, drifting snow that made trails disappear.

A snow and wind storm between Shaktoolik and Koyuk shook up race leader Nic Petit’s team early March 11; it was the same place where his team stalled in 2018, yielding the lead to Ulsom and team.

“We took off out of Shaktoolik like a rocket,” Petit told Iditarod Insider early March 11 as his team rested off the trail en route to Koyuk. “I was really surprised … All of a sudden they had the speed they didn’t have before Shaktoolik.” Then, a couple of dogs on the team got into a tussle and the team “wouldn’t go anymore, anywhere, so we camped here. We’ll see what happens.”

By 7 p.m. that day, Petit withdrew “in the best interest of his team’s mental well-being.”

After Petit’s departure, the race was between Kaiser and Ulsom, who had been trading the lead with Petit for most of the race. Kaiser arrived in Koyuk, 171 miles from the finish line in Nome, one hour before Ulsom. In Koyuk, Kaiser described the challenging conditions.

“It’s crazy how the weather over there was so calm, and here it’s so calm, and then in the middle of that it was pretty wild,” he told Iditarod Insider. “It was probably blowing 30 right down the pipe, 35 maybe in some spots. Snowing, drifting the whole trail was drifting. Some spots, it was just marker to marker.”

Then, Koyuk to Elim, then Elim to White Mountain. Kaiser arrived at White Mountain, 77 miles from Nome, with ice caked on his beard. “Leaving Koyuk, it was windy crosswind and no trail,” he told Iditarod Insider. “Two or three inches of loose snow on the trail. It felt like it took forever to get to Elim.”

For musher and dogs, the Iditarod is about training, endurance, and strategy. Kaiser and team took shorter, more frequent rests; Ulsom and team took longer, less frequent rests. Kaiser and Ulsom took their mandatory 24-hour rests in Takotna, 329 miles into the race. But Ulsom took his mandatory eight-hour rest in Shageluk (mile 487), while Kaiser and his team took their mandatory eight-hour in Kaltag (mile 652). All mushers are required to rest in White Mountain (mile 921) before pushing on to Safety and Nome. Ulsom had to wait for 431 miles for that rest, Kaiser 269.

Kaiser found his advantage in Elim. He arrived there almost one hour before Ulsom and rested his team for 2 hours 44 minutes before moving on to White Mountain. That compelled Ulsom to cut his rest short and leave Elim five minutes later, after a 1-hour 59-minute rest. Kaiser and team maintained a pace of 6.22 mph to Ulsom’s 5.75 to White Mountain, enough to build some distance between them. Ulsom tried to make up the difference en route to Safety and Nome, averaging 6.95 and 7.10 mph to Kaiser’s 6.90 and 6.17 mph.

Other Alaska Natives in the race. Richie Diehl, Dena’ina Athabascan, was in a solid 11th; Martin Apayauq Reitan, Inupiaq, was in 33rd place. Robert Redington, Inupiaq, scratched in Kaltag (mile 652); his brother Ryan scratched in Shaktoolik. Each made the decision to do so out of concern for the well-being of his team, the Iditarod reported.

Reitan, the son of Iditarod veteran Martin Reitan, proved to be a newcomer to watch. He finished the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest a month ago—winning Rookie of the Year honors—and finished his debut Iditarod faring better than four other rookies and five veterans, and 10 more mushers who wouldn’t finish the race. 

Kaiser’s win boosts his career Iditarod earnings to just over $300,000. As the 2019 champion, he receives about $50,000 and a new Dodge Ram 4X4. For being the first musher to reach Kaltag, he received from the Bristol Bay Native Corporation a check for $2,000, a certificate for 25 pounds of Bristol Bay salmon filets, and artwork by Alaska Native artist Apayo Moore. For being the first musher to reach White Mountain, he received from Northrim Bank a check for $2,500 and an art print by Anchorage artist Marianne Wieland.

And, of course, he wins a place in the history books.

“[It’s been] a lot of hard work over the last 12 years of really seriously working at this specifically,” Kaiser told Iditarod Insider in White Mountain. “It’s gratifying to know the hard work has paid off. I have such a huge support system, just for them to get some validation of their support and see this all come full circle and work out.”

He added, “I’m very lucky. Especially in Bethel and all up and down the Kuskokwim River I’ve always had tons of support. I’ve said it before, that’s been a large motivating factor to me to go out and put our best foot forward with all our training and racing, and try to represent this area the best we can.”

Alaska Native winners of the Iditarod

2019: Peter Kaiser, Yup’ik, 9 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes, 6 seconds.

2011: John Baker, Inupiaq, 8 days 18 hours 46 minutes 39 seconds.

1976: Gerald Riley, Athabascan, 18 days 22 hours 58 minutes 17 seconds.

1975: Emmitt Peters, Athabascan, 14 days 14 hours 43 minutes 45 seconds.

1974: Carl Huntington, Athabascan, 20 days 15 hours 2 minutes 7 seconds.

TUBA CITY, NAVAJO NATION, Ariz. — From now until April 26, 2019, Change Labs is accepting applications for its inaugural “Artist Rezidency” program in Tuba City, Arizona. All practicing Native American visual artists over the age of 18 are eligible to apply for this unique 1-year rezidency program. The selected rezident artist will receive:

●        48 hours of entrepreneurial training and ongoing business counseling

●        100-square-foot studio space in Tuba City throughout the rezidency

●        Up to $5,000 in art supplies

●        $40,000 stipend

Change Labs is an organization that supports and enables Native entrepreneurs starting businesses on tribal lands. Many Native entrepreneurs across the Navajo and Hopi nations struggle with the day-to-day tasks of operating and growing a small business. In addition to the lack of infrastructure, many small businesses lack marketing collateral such as a business logo, business cards, a web presence, or professional signage. In response, Change Labs seeks visual artists who want to use their artist talents to benefit tribal communities by:

●        Supporting a small group of Native American startups with their creative expression and marketing collateral

●        Creating one public artwork that illustrates the intersection of entrepreneurship and Native American culture

The inaugural Change Labs Artist Rezidency Program is in partnership with Catapult Design and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and is one of 60 NEA “Our Town” grants awards supporting projects across the nation. “The variety and quality of these Our Town projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”

“For the past four years Change Labs has engaged Navajo and Hopi artists to support our entrepreneurship events,” says Jessica Stago, director of business incubation at Change Labs. “Native artists create signs for entrepreneurs in our program, help them refine their logo or craft a business card. These seemingly small activities make the world of difference for our business owners. Some entrepreneurs tell me that seeing their new logo or sign is the first time they actually feel like a small business owner. Instilling pride in our people and helping them reach more customers is critical and this inaugural program is an opportunity to build on the relationship between Native artists and small business owners in our communities.”

The deadline for applications is Friday, April 26, 2019. Applications will be accepted online through the Change Labs website or via email. For more information and to access program guidelines and application, visithttps://nativestartup.org/rezidency

MANISTEE, Mich. — Organizers of the Anishinaabe Family and Culture Camp are looking for presenters for this year’s camp that will be held in Manistee, Michigan on July 26 – 18, 2019.

Each presentation will be approximately 1 ½ hours long. Provisions can be made if you have a presentation that requires a longer amount of time to accommodate your workshop.

Interested parties should submit a presentation outline and a biography. Included in the outline should be the target age group of presentation and any applicable demographic. Also, let organizers know if your workshop is total Anishinaabemowin immersion, if you will have a translator or if you will be presenting in the English language with some Anishinaabemowin. Please note that if you have handouts for your presentation, you are responsible for making sure you have enough copies because there are no copiers on site.

Most of our guests do not speak Anishinaabemowin and some understand it but do not speak it yet.  For some of the camp guests, this is the only time that they get to hear Anishinaabemowin being used.  It would be appreciated for all of the presenters to remain visible throughout the camp and to be available to speak in Anishinaabemowin.

Along with your presentation outline and biography, please state if you require lodging. Please send all of the information by email as soon as possible.  It would be appreciated if your presentation outline and biography could be sent as separately attached documents in the email. It’s just easier for us when we process our program book. (Phone calls are accepted to state your interest in presenting, but the written information is required by the deadline for consideration.) Please feel free to call Kenny Pheasant at 231-398-6892.

If you know anyone who may be interested in presenting at the Camp, by all means, please forward this letter to them and have them state in their email who recommended them to present.

The deadline for all of this information is May 10, 2019.

Send information to:

Kenny Pheasant, Anishinaabemowin Language Coordinator. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

Email: kpheasant@lrboi-nsn.gov