Jan 4, 2013 - The Top 10 Lastrealindians.com News Stories of 2012
Lastrealindians just celebrated its first birthday on New Year’s Eve 2012. It’s been quite a historic journey thus far. While there were many other great news stories, columns, and creative works that we published in 2012 that we hope you’ll go back and read, here’s our Top 10 Lastrealindians.com News Stories of 2012.
10. Native Legislation
In 2012, expanded provisions meant to protect Native women under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) were questioned by Republican members of the U.S. Congress, as were those concerning undocumented immigrants and LGBT victims of sexual assault. While the U.S. Senate passed the reauthorization of VAWA, the U.S. House of Representatives let it expire. This is the first time VAWA has not been reauthorized by Congress since it became law in 1994. Advocates of VAWA hope to revive it when newly elected officials take office in 2013. Ruth Hopkins, an editor and founding writer for Lastrealindians, addressed VAWA in a few columns- as did LRI guest writer Jayson Brave Heart.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) also came under fire this past year, when the Dr. Phil show featured the case of Baby Veronica. The child had been adopted out by her birth mother, but was reclaimed two years later by her Cherokee birth father under ICWA- a law meant to protect the best interests on Native children and promote the stability and security of Native families and Tribes, as well as preserve Native culture and identity. The United States Supreme Court is set to review the case tomorrow, January 4, 2013. Lastrealindians guest writers Evelyn Red Lodge and Trace A. DeMeyer wrote compelling pieces about this issue.
9. Peace and Dignity Runners
Every four years, Indigenous runners travel on foot from Alaska to Guatemala. This epic journey is approximately 6,000 miles long. The runners follow the migratory path of the monarch butterfly. The run itself represents the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor, a reunification of shared existence between and among all Indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere. It also brings attention to Indigenous concerns. In 2012, water was honored. Chase Iron Eyes, Lastrealindians, Inc. owner and founding writer, participated in the run along with other Standing Rock Nationals, as the Peace and Dignity Runners journeyed through Lakota territory in July. Lastrealindians featured his story on it.
Lakota organizers joined with Deep Green Resistance (DGR) in August of 2012 to protest the sale of alcohol in White Clay, Nebraska, a small town on the border of the Pine Ridge Reservation made up almost exclusively of establishments that sell liquor and beer. Dana Lone Hill of Lastrealindians interviewed T.R. McKenzie, a Lakota involved with DGR who was arrested during the protest, after him and several others had locked themselves together. LRI cartoonist Ernie His Forehead Shines for Him addressed White Clay, and criticism leveled against those protesting Whiteclay alcohol sales, in his own way.
A federal judge dismissed the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit against Whiteclay, but suggested that the case might fair better in state court. The controversy surrounding Whiteclay is ongoing. A protest held on New Year’s Eve protest ended peacefully after three of the four stores that sold alcohol closed early.
7. Keystone XL
One of the first news stories addressed by Lastrealindians, Inc. was the Transcanada Keystone XL pipeline. In correlation with a string of protests against the pipeline, Ruth Hopkins and Chase Iron Eyes both addressed it in early LRI works. On January 18, 2012, President Obama rejected Keystone XL when he stated that the deadline for the decision prevented him from making a full assessment of the impact Keystone XL would have. Still, an article written by Chase days later warned the fight wasn’t over. In March, Oglala Lakota Nationals prevented oil pipeline materials destined for Canadian Tar sands and/or Keystone XL infrastructure locales from being transported across the Pine Ridge Reservation. The battle continues. Transcanada submitted another environmental report in September.
6. Russell Means
On October 22, 2012, prominent Lakota activist, politician, actor, and writer Russell Means walked on after a long, hard fought battle with cancer. Means, a supporter of Lastrealindians, was a leader in the American Indian Movement, as well as an American Indian icon known the world over. Chase Iron Eyes discussed the profound legacy of the man he knew as ‘Uncle Russ’ in a column he wrote after attending his wake and funeral. Russell will be greatly missed.
5. Native Appropriation (Paul Frank/ The Gap’s Manifest Destiny/No Doubt/Victoria’s Secret)
Besides the usual atrocities of stereotypical ‘Native inspired’ Halloween costumes we’re forced to endure, October and November brought on a barrage of mainstream attacks against Native identity, with an appropriation frenzy kicked off by a racist Paul Frank fashion show featuring B-list celebrities in faux feathers with war paint, that took us through a battle against international retailer ‘The Gap’ and their tee shirt that sang the praises of Manifest Destiny- and ended with the hypersexualization of Native women in a third rate No Doubt video, along with Victoria’s Secret model Karlie Kloss dressed in a floor length fake warbonnet and little else, parading down a catwalk. These travails all proved one thing: Natives with internet access are a force to be reckoned with. All of the aforementioned examples of heinous Native appropriation were halted, and apologies were given- some seemingly more sincere than others. Lastrealindians writers Chase Iron Eyes, Colby Tootoosis, Dana Lone Hill, Ruth Hopkins, Linda Tioleu, and Michelle Shining Elk each took on the trouble with Native appropriation in 2012.
4. The Native Vote
Lastrealindians encouraged Indian Country to get out and vote in 2012. September and October were filled with a series of columns discussing the importance of the Native Vote from Chase Iron Eyes, Ruth Hopkins, Renee Holt,Twyla Baker-Demaray, and LRI guest writers: Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) President Rhonda LeValdo, and North Dakota Native Vote Director Prairie Rose Seminole. Combined with other efforts, our hard work bore fruit. Election results showed that Democratic candidates for Congress, in particular Montana Senator Jon Tester and newly-elected North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, received record support from counties with high populations of Natives, albeit by slim margins.
3. The Vern Traversie Case
In April, Evelyn Red Lodge wrote about the plight of Vern Traversie, a member and resident of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota who came home from a 14-day stay in the hospital to find he had been horribly mutilated. In a shocking photograph taken the day after he came home, three Ks can be seen that were carved or burned into his abdomen. Vernon Traversie, is completely blind. He said his nightmare began when he had a heart attack while at the Heart Doctors office in Rapid City in August 2011. They immediately sent him a few blocks away to Rapid City Regional Hospital for emergency surgery, where it is suspected that the incident in question occurred. Within days of his story being publicized, there was a public outcry demanding justice for Vern. Concerned Natives mobilized in conjunction with Lastrealindians, Inc. and a march was held in May 2012 in Rapid City. Evelyn wrote an additional follow-up article about the Justice for Vern March. Litigation concerning Vern’s injuries continues.
In August, Chase Iron Eyes wrote about Pe’Sla, a sacred site used by the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) to conduct essential, predestined ceremonies for time immemorial, as well as several other Tribes. The site is also part of Lakota legend and history, and contains artifacts. Lastrealindians had discovered that the land, containing just under 2,000 pristine acres, was going up for auction by month’s end. While LRI and others maintained that Pe’Sla, as well as the Black Hills, still belongs to the Lakota, we realized that if the land were sold to a party other that the Oceti Sakowin, there was a high likelihood that it would be developed, and that a road would be put right through the heart of it. Lastrealindians worked with Oceti Sakowin Tribes and grassroots efforts to raise funds to buyback Pe’Sla, while also raising awareness. Lastrealindians core writers Renee Holt, Dana Lone Hill, Twyla Baker-Demaray, and Ruth Hopkins also wrote about Pe’Sla- as did guest writers Autumn White Eyes and Sol Guy. LRI’s initial fundraising campaign raised $388,000, and the second one raised over $70,000. Combined with money contributed from a private donor, Lastrealindians was able to contribute $900,000 to save Pe’Sla, with Oceti Sakowin Tribes kicking in the remainder needed to seal the $9 million dollar real estate transaction. Pe’Sla, The Heart of Everything That Is, was saved. The Oceti Sakowin closed the deal on November 30, 2012.
1. Idle No More
Wait! We’ve saved the biggest news story for last. December 2012 brought us the Idle No More movement. Idle No More started with a reaction by First Nations Indigenous to an attack on Indigenous treaty rights by the Harper government, including Omnibus Bill C-45, and has grown into an international movement as Indigenous peoples throughout the world hold flash mob round dances, set up blockades, and protest in support of Idle No More and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who has been on a hunger strike for 24 days. We were first alerted to this First Nations resurgence by First Nations Lastrealindians- founding writer Colby Tootoosis, and Lastrealindians 2012 Contest Winner, Sarah Koi. Both wrote about the Idle No More movement, as did LRI guest writers Delores Schilling and Patricia Stein. Renee Holt, Chase Iron Eyes, and Ruth Hopkins have also written about Idle No More, and the movement continues…
*We thank our dedicated and talented team of writers, staff, and artists, as well as you, our readers and supporters. We couldn’t have done it without you. 2013 will be even better.