A begging we shall go, because the Koch brothers demand it. Walker working to make it SO!

Koch political puppet WI. Rep. Gov. Scott Walker has stated that direct deposit will no longer be available to the Democratic State Senators. They will have to appear in person at the Capital building in order to pick up their paychecks from the Majority Leader.  It is not clear from the statement if this also applies to himself and the Republican State Senators.  What word best describes this latest Republican strategy? Bribe? Blackmail? Bait?

 Oh  the Koch brothers want their union busting bill vote and they want it BAD! 

 Walker is having a cozy fireside chat with Wisconsin residents this evening. I’m sure it will be a revelatory one-sided monologue suitable for future Koch backed  Republican Governors’ handbooks for dealing with  vocal working class people exercising their right to freedom of speech and assembly.  

On at Each Little World there are more excellent photos by Mark Golbach.  I think this one captures everything at the core of the protests.   

Click Mark Golbach's photograph to view more at Each Little World.

Stolen Sisters: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

On Tuesday 15 February 2011 Native America Calling will broadcast a radio talk show regarding Missing and Murdered Women in Vancouver.  The third annual Stolen Sisters Memorial March was held on February 13.  Heads up, we’re not talking about 5 or 6 women who have gone MIA. There are nearly 600 Indigenous women on the list compiled by the Native Women’s Association. Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest is just one of several high kill zones for Indigenous women along the Canada/United States border and the Mexico/United States border. Hundreds of unsolved murders and disappearances of Indigenous women go unsolved, seldom reported in the mainstream media, and ignored by the general population.  Amnesty International has investigated this continuing violence against Indigenous  women.  The question arises of what if these women were white and middle class? Would there then be widespread awareness and public outcry for all the crime prevention units to produce some serious results for ending this murder industry? I don’t know. 

At any rate, Native America Calling’s show will include Angela MacDougall (director of Battered Women Support Services) and Marlene George who organized the annual march. The show is broadcast live 1-2 pm Eastern Time–and will be available online afterwards.  The show streams live online. 

                          http://www.nativeamericacalling.com/

For Amnesty International’s report: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women In Canada:

              http://www.amnesty.ca/stolensisters/amr2000304.pdf

Click photo to see more images by Adrian Lam, Time Colonist

What will this winter bring to Pine Ridge?

Many of you have read and viewed the photographs posted from a 1922 Social Survey done on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.  I’ve repeatedly stated my purpose of informing and educating others about the living conditions on the reservation in 1922.  A variety of images and texts have motivated comments about this ‘history.’  Well this ‘history’ is ongoing, it has not ended as a some of you have noted via the Cheyenne River Youth Project links and posts.  Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart-Jordan has written extensively about the ongoing consequences of historical events upon Lakota people. In “Return to the Sacred Path” she outlined her theory of intergenerational unresolved trauma and continuous grief within Lakota culture. She also created and implemented a culturally centered method to attempt to effectively address these ongoing issues. But the breadth and depth of the issues involved is vast and there are no quick fixes.  

Today I’d like to share the ‘scribblings’  of a friend currently living on Pine Ridge.  What follows is a small portion of shared current experiences from a caring individual with no agenda for any personal gain.

J’s  “Scribblings”:    

Accidents involving loose animals are very common on the rez.  “John” once totaled a car when he hit and killed a horse sending its blood and guts through the broken windshield all over him.  Do I make you feel that you would like to visit me???!!  Why am I so drawn to this place with all its problems?  All I know is that I am and that I will try my hardest to make a difference if and when I can.

Last week I discovered that a Lakota friend was about to have her electricity cut off.  She had just returned to work after months of recovering from an accident in which her leg was run over by a car and fractured badly.  There was no sick leave or unemployment benefit.  She has children at home and also takes care of several young grandchildren, two of whom require electric nebulizers to help them breathe.  I heard her on the phone trying and failing to get help.  Lacreek, the white-owned electricity company, is notorious for its unwillingness to work with people and the tribal groups she contacted said they had no resources to help her.  I already knew that her partner had died in her arms during an asthma attack a few weeks ago.  She had given him CPR, but when she called 911 the ambulance was responding to another emergency and did not make it to her house in time.  Eventually I got up the courage to ask her what was happening and she was willing to talk.  She told me that she owed money, but had had no income while recuperating in order  to pay that and other bills.  I spent the next day contacting non-profits and foundations and managed to get her power bill paid by two groups and a promise to fill her empty propane tank from another.  What is really sad is that I know she is only the tip of an iceberg and there are many others in dire need that have already been cut off.  And winter hasn’t even begun yet!

 Yesterday I found out that my friend’s  propane tank was still empty.  She had called the company (white-owned again) repeatedly and the customer service person insisted that there was no payment on record.  This was entirely untrue as money had been sent electronically.  After a lot of back and forth the president of the non-profit finally got someone on the phone who agreed that the money had been received and said that they would deliver the gas later in the day.  I will have to check today that it actually happened.  Apparently the charity has had this problem with the Lakota Plains Propane Company on several occasions.  What is wrong with everyone here?  There is no choice for utility providers and no-one at the existing ones seems to care at all.

My Lakota friend asked if the charities could also help also her relative.  It turns out that her relative has had no power for seven months.  The children are having to stay with their grandparents as the house is too cold.

Several people have asked me how they can help.  A number of charities purporting to support Native Americans are actually only self-serving and get very bad ratings on the independent watchdog service www.charitynavigator.com.  One of these is National Relief Charities.  It operates under several different entities, most notably American Indian Relief Council and American Indian Education Fund (I think the latter is its correct title).  This organization has fantastic sob-story marketing and sends out massive quantities of worthwhile sounding appeals, but more than 50% of its $20 million plus annual income is spent on fundraising, the executive staff salaries are very high, and only a tiny fraction actually makes it to fund their programs.  It is not right that they and other similar groups attract people who want to help relieve this crippling poverty and then misuse their donations.  The wasted money is desperately needed by those simply trying to survive in conditions that should be totally unacceptable in modern America .

 The two groups that helped my Lakota friend are ONE Spirit (www.nativeprogress.org) and Hearts of the Sacred Spirit (www.heartsofthesacredspirit.org).  Both are 501(c)(3) organizations and donations to them are tax-deductible.  Neither is large – in fact the latter is run by a husband and wife out of their home.  Both are all volunteer groups and no-one gets paid a salary.  Both work only on the Pine Ridge Reservation and have contacts here that inform them of the local needs.  Money goes directly to the needy without red tape or delays.

There is another organization that lists many Lakota-run groups and the reservation schools and runs donation drives for their specific needs.  (www.friendsofpineridgereservation.org.  It does an amazing job of providing school supplies, clothing, books, sewing supplies, etc., etc.

A big organization that is very active on this and other reservations is Running Strong for American Indian Youth, which has a top rating from BBB.  Their spokesman is Billy Mills, a Lakota man who won an Olympic gold medal in long distance running.  I saw him and met a number of the group’s officials at a community garden run by Roots and Shoots a couple of months ago.  They were visiting the reservation to check on the programs that they fund.

Life is uncertain from day to day.  I love the children that I work with and try to give them the attention that they crave.  People (especially teenagers) commit suicide at an alarming rate and desperately need jobs and hope.  Both are in very short supply.  Change must come from within, but those trying to improve the situation (and I have come across a number of them) need help and support (without religious or other outside agendas attached) so that they can implement the good ideas that they have.

Clicking on the photograph will take you to the Eagle Nest Center’s website for more information about Pine Ridge.

For another persepective consider viewing the work of Aaron Huey.

Aaron Huey is a photographer who has worked extensively on Pine Ridge. His work can be viewed at: http://www.aaronhuey.com/#/photo-galleries-1/pine-ridge/PR_web001

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