American Indian Fry Bread Hints

Fry bread is an incredibly popular food; everyone who tried them loves them. You might love it, but did you know it originated in a painful way?


American Indian Fry Bread
American Indian Fry Bread


Source: Native American Encyclopedia

If you have ever attended a Native American PowWow you have probably noticed vendors selling a large doughy piece of bread called fry bread. Fry bread is an incredibly popular food, very much like an unsweetened funnel cake. American Indian fry bread might seem like a traditional food but it originated in a painful way. The most helpful hint that you can be given about Native American fry bread is to understand how and why this food came about. Native American fry bread may be a symbol of their culture. However, its beginning was steeped in tragedy.


Fry bread was first made approximately 144 years ago after the United States forced the Navajo to complete the “Long Walk,” which was a 300 mile walk where many people lost their lives. These Navajo people were moved to a land that was not fertile for traditional vegetables and beans. They were then forced to live on government canned goods: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, powdered milk and lard. The Navajo people began using what they had and they created fry bread. Fry bread became a symbol of their survival and is always present at PowWows.


Fry bread is made from very simple ingredients. In order to make a dozen fry breads you will need: 2 cups sifted flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon shortening, approximately 1 cup water, and approximately one cup of oil. The recipe, as well as the style of cooking, has remain unchanged.


First sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Then add the shortening — a helpful hint is to use a pastry blender which will help incorporate the wet and dry ingredients. If you don’t have a pastry blender use butter knives. The next step is important, add just enough water to make a soft dough. If you add too much your dough won’t have the right consistency. Knead dough until smooth. Roll dough into small balls. Cover dough with a damp towel for ten minutes. Roll the ball in your hands until each ball flattens into a 4-inch round discs. It is important that you cook the dough in a skillet to keep the right texture of fry bread. Pour oil in the skillet and heat, ensure that you have at least an 1 inch of hot oil. Fry each round of dough until it becomes a light golden brown, turn it over once. The bread will puff up as it fries. Drain the fry bread on a paper towel when it’s done.


Fry bread is delicious by itself or you could serve it a multitude of ways. Drizzle the fry bread with a tiny bit of honey and powdered sugar or just add a little bit of jam. Many people cut a slit through the fry bread and stuff it with different foods including ground beef and beans. Another traditional recipe is the Indian Taco, the fry bread replaces the corn tortilla of a traditional taco. Fry bread is a very good bread but you should be mindful of what you are eating. Remember that this food is a story of resiliency and survival .

Language factors into race for Navajo president

by FELICIA FONSECA, Associated Press


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – Chris Deschene says he has the resume to preside over the country’s largest American Indian reservation. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, served in the Marines, owns a private law practice, and aims to defend tribal tradition in the Navajo Nation’s top elected post.

But his critics say he’s missing at least one thing, and it’s crucial. They say he doesn’t know how to speak Navajo fluently and should be disqualified from the presidential race because it is a requirement for candidates under tribal law. Deschene says fluency is a matter of opinion and that his language skills are getting better every day.

The issue came to a head when several Navajo citizens and presidential candidates filed grievances against Deschene, saying he shouldn’t appear on the ballot in November’s general election. The challenges were dismissed this week as being untimely or lacking standing, but they can be appealed to the tribe’s Supreme Court.

The Navajo language is a vital part of the tribe’s culture, most commonly spoken among elderly Navajo people as their first language and less so among younger generations. Most tribal members grow up hearing it at home and in prayers and songs recited during ceremonies. It is perhaps most well-known outside the reservation for its use during World War II in a code that the Japanese couldn’t break.

When Navajos sign up to run for tribal president, they attest to being fluent in the language. Kimmeth Yazzie of the Navajo Election Administration says the document is taken at face value, and election officials aren’t allowed to investigate the qualifications. That authority is delegated to the tribe’s Office of Hearings and Appeals when candidates for the same office file a challenge within a certain timeframe.

Deschene, 43, said he has never misled voters into believing he thoroughly knows the language. He speaks Navajo in online advertisements, in the homes of elders and says he’s well-versed in traditional songs and ceremonies.

“I’ve made a commitment to the language, and I’ve stated a number of times that my personal goal is to be completely fluent by the end of my first term,” said Deschene, of LeChee on the western side of the reservation.

Percy Deal, one of Deschene’s critics on the language issue, commended Deschene for his willingness to learn Navajo but said he should become fluent and seek office again in four years. Deschene should understand as a lawyer, former Democratic nominee for Arizona secretary of state and onetime state representative that he shouldn’t skirt the law, Deal said.

“The laws have to apply to everybody,” he said. “Nobody is above the law.”

Determining whether a person is fluent isn’t easy, said Michele Kiser, who teaches Navajo at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She said teachers can take a proficiency test that includes speaking, reading and writing, but there is not a set of defined parameters for determining fluency.

“Fluency is a continuum, really,” she said.

Some 169,000 people speak Navajo at home, more than any other American Indian language, according to census figures released in 2011. But Kiser said that data doesn’t show how many are considered fluent speakers.

Deschene came in second to former Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. in the tribe’s primary election last month among 17 candidates, earning him a spot in the general election. Traditional, conservative voters tend to choose candidates who can speak Navajo, understand them and who have a strong cultural upbringing, said Manley Begay, who is Navajo and a professor in applied indigenous studies at Northern Arizona University.

“Clearly there were some of the traditionalists supporting Chris Deschene, partly because of his appeal and youthfulness and also some of his ideas and thoughts might resonate with them,” Begay said.

The grievances filed against Deschene were the first over the language requirements, said Richie Nez, chief hearing officer for the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

Other presidential candidates have been challenged on term limits and residency, though living or having a continual presence on the reservation is no longer required.

Shirley lost a bid four years ago to seek a third, consecutive term because Navajo law limits presidents to two back-to-back terms. Shirley argued that Navajos have the right to freely choose their leaders under traditional law.

A presidential candidate in 2002 argued that he met residency requirements for the job despite living off the reservation because his umbilical cord was buried there, forever tying him to the land. Edward T. Begay’s name was placed on the primary ballot as a matter of fairness, after the tribe’s high court determined all candidates were not treated equally.

Poor Oral Health Remains Major Problem Among American Indian Tribes

By Leah Martinez, Delta Dental

The Navajo Nation is the largest tribal group, and indeed, the largest reservation by land mass in the United States at 25,000 square miles. The reservation occupies the historic “Four Corners” region where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah all meet. This vast land is challenged with many obstacles and disparities. One particularly disturbing finding creates a lifelong health divide for Navajo children. They have poorer oral health. A new study from the University of Colorado shows that it remains a major problem.  Preschool-age Navajo children show rates of untreated decay than are 3 to 4 times higher than their peers.

While the percentage of Navajo children with untreated tooth decay appears to have declined overall in the past decade, down from 82.9 percent in 1999, it’s still extremely high. The study is particularly concerning to Arizona, as our state has many urban and rural Native American communities. In fact, Arizona is home to 22 Federally recognized Indian tribes. Additionally, the city of Phoenix is home to more than 43,700 Tribal members, making it the U.S. city with the third highest number of Native Americans.

Published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, the study looked at a large and broad group of 981 children enrolled in Head Start. The study showed that 69.5 percent of Navajo children have untreated tooth decay which is extremely high when compared to the 20.48 percent to the national average among all other racial and ethnic groups.

There are multiple factors contributing to this severe rate of dental decay in young Navajo children including the physical and social environments, health behaviors and access to dental services.  Access to services is difficult as the Navajo Nation only has 22 dental clinics for its 225,639 residents, making its dentist-to-patient ratio the lowest in the country. The lack of public transportation also plays a key role in many rural and isolated areas.

The study suggests that a multi-prong approach to reducing dental disease for Navajo children could include effective preventive services paired with culturally appropriate oral health instruction and easier access to dental care.

Download the full study here: RC2BaselinePaper (1)

Teens Murder for Fun; Smash Heads of Homeless Men with Cinder Blocks

Courtesy Albuquerque Police DepartmentAlex Rios, 18, Nathaniel Carillo, 16, and Gilbert Tafoya, 15, are suspects in the brutal deaths of two homeless Navajo men in Albuquerque on July 21.
Courtesy Albuquerque Police Department
Alex Rios, 18, Nathaniel Carillo, 16, and Gilbert Tafoya, 15, are suspects in the brutal deaths of two homeless Navajo men in Albuquerque on July 21.


Alysa Landry, 7/24/14, Indian Country Today


Navajo President Ben Shelly is calling for answers in the gruesome murders of two homeless Navajo men last weekend in Albuquerque.

The victims, whose names have not yet been released, were beaten so brutally with a cinder block and other objects that they were unrecognizable. Their bodies, one lying on a mattress and one on the ground, were found Saturday morning in an open field in northwest Albuquerque.

Three teenagers, Alex Rios, 18, Nathaniel Carrillo, 16, and Gilbert Tafoya, 15, are each being charged with two open counts of murder, tampering with evidence, three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and robbery. The teens likely will be tried as adults and all could face life in prison.

During their first appearance in court Monday, bail was set at $5 million for each of them. But even with suspects behind bars, New Mexico’s largest city and the neighboring Navajo Nation are still reeling from the attack.

President Shelly has requested a meeting with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, during which he hopes to discuss ways to assist the city’s homeless population. The teens charged in the murders claimed to have attacked as many as 50 other homeless people during the past year, according to court records.

“Innocent men do not deserve to be murdered in their sleep,” Shelly said in a press release. “It’s beyond senseless that these teens would attack homeless people in this manner.”

The Albuquerque Police Department, which is under federal Justice Department scrutiny because of its high number of officer-related shootings – including a March incident during which an officer shot and killed a homeless Native man – was appalled by the violence of the recent attack, spokesman Simon Drobik said.

RELATED: What the Hell Is Wrong With Albuquerque Cops?

RELATED: Recent Police Shootings in Albuquerque Draw Federal Investigation

“My stomach turns when I think about it,” he said. “When all you know is that two people are dead and juveniles are in custody, it’s hard to wrap your brain around it. It was such a heinous crime and the nature of violence was so traumatic.”

The teens told police that they went out after a party looking for “someone to beat up,” according to the criminal complaint. Tafoya reportedly was upset because he recently broke up with a longtime girlfriend.

They tied black T-shirts around their faces in an attempt to conceal their identities then walked to a field near two of the teens’ homes, where they found three subjects sleeping on mattresses. One of the victims managed to run away, but the teens repeatedly beat the other two men with their hands and feet, as well as cinder blocks, wooden sticks and a metal fence post.

According to Tafoya’s statement to police, the teens “took turns picking cinder blocks over their heads and smashing them into the male subjects’ faces.” Tafoya admitted to using the cinder block as a weapon more than 10 times.

Drobik called the case “specifically brutal” because it involves two vulnerable populations: teenagers and homeless.

“Kids are killing transients,” he said. “My initial response was: who failed these kids? How did they get to this point in life where they thought this was an acceptable thing to do? It’s heartbreaking for everyone involved.”

The victims’ bodies were transported to the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator. A spokeswoman for that office confirmed the men were Native, but declined to release their names. It could take up to 90 days for autopsy reports to be complete, she said.


Bedding, clothing and broken glass litter a homeless encampment in Albuquerque, Monday, July 21, 2014, where three teenagers are accused of fatally beating two homeless Navajo men. (Jeri Clausing/AP Photo)
Bedding, clothing and broken glass litter a homeless encampment in Albuquerque, Monday, July 21, 2014, where three teenagers are accused of fatally beating two homeless Navajo men. (Jeri Clausing/AP Photo)




Kill the Land, Kill the People: There Are 532 Superfund Sites in Indian Country!

by Terri Hansen, Intercontinental Cry

Of a total of 1,322 Superfund sites as of June 5, 2014, nearly 25 percent of them are in Indian country. Manufacturing, mining and extractive industries are responsible for our list of some of the most environmentally devastated places in Indian country, as specified under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the official name of the Superfund law enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980.

Most of these sites are not cleaned up, though not all of the ones listed below are still active. Some sites are capped, sealing up toxics that persist in the environment. In cases like the Navajo, the Akwesasne Mohawk and the Quapaw Tribe, the human health impacts are known because some doctors and scientists took enough interest to do studies in their regions. Some of those impacts may persist through generations given the involvement, as in the case of the Mohawk, of endocrine disrupters. Read on.


1. Salt Chuck Mine, Organized Village of Kasaan, Alaska


The Salt Chuck Mine Superfund site in southeast Alaska operated as a copper-palladium-gold-silver mine from 1916 to 1941. Members of the Organized Village of Kasaan, a federally recognized tribe, traditionally harvested fish, clams, cockles, crab and shrimp from the waters in and around Salt Chuck, unaware for decades that areas of impact were saturated with tailings from the former mine. As if that weren’t enough, Pure Nickel Inc. holds rights to mining leases in the area and began active exploration to do even more mining in summer 2012, according to Ground Truth Trekking.


2. Sulfur Bank Mine, Elem Band of Pomo Indians, California



The Elem Band of Pomo Indians, whose colony was built on top of the waste of what would become California’s Sulfur Bank Mine Superfund site in 1970, have elevated levels of mercury in their bodies, and now fear for their health. According to an NBC News investigation, nearby Clear Lake is the most mercury-polluted lake in the world, despite the EPA’s spending about $40 million over two decades trying to keep mercury contamination out of the water. Although the EPA cleaned soil from beneath Pomo homes and roads, pollution still seeps beneath the earthen dam built by the former mine operator, Bradley Mining Co. For years, Bradley Mining has fought the government’s efforts to recoup cleanup costs.


3. Leviathan Mine, Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California



The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California requested EPA involvement in the cleanup of an abandoned open pit sulfur mine on the eastern slope of California’s Sierra Nevada that became the Leviathan Mine Superfund site. The Washoe Tribe had become concerned that contaminated waters were affecting their lands downstream, causing impacts to culture and health, environmental damage, remediation, monitoring and testing, posting of health advisories, drinking water, effects on pregnancy, and cancer. Aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, iron, manganese, nickel and thallium have been detected in surface water and sediment downstream from the mine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that exposures could result in cancerous and non-cancerous health effects.


4. Eastern Michaud Flats, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Idaho



The abandoned FMC phosphorus facility occupies more than 1,000 acres of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes’ Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho, and lies within Eastern Michaud Flats Superfund site. The primary contaminants of concern at the site are arsenic, elemental phosphorous and gamma radiation. FMC left a legacy of contamination in the air, groundwater, soil and the nearby Portneuf River, which threatened plants, wildlife and human health on the reservation and in surrounding communities. The Shoshone-Bannock have long asked for a cleanup of contaminated soils, but instead the EPA’s 2012 interim remedy is to cap and fill, including areas containing gamma radiation and radionuclides.


5. Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex, Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Idaho



The Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical Complex Superfund site, located in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin, is one of the largest environmental and human health cleanup efforts in the country.

Its contamination, the result of decades of mining, milling and smelting, affected more than 150 miles of the river, lake and its tributaries. The area, listed a Superfund site in 1983, is one of the “largest and most complex” in the country, according to the EPA. Studies revealed that three quarters of children living in the area in the 1970s had unhealthy levels of lead in their bloodstream. The United States, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the state of Idaho settled with the Hecla Mining Co. in June 2011 for $263.4 million to resolve claims stemming from releases of wastes from its mining operations, an agreement that will protect people’s health by ensuring the cleanup of areas heavily polluted with lead, cadmium, arsenic and other contaminants.


6. Rio Tinto Copper Mine, Shoshone Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley, Nevada



The Shoshone Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley and the state of Nevada will oversee cleanup of the abandoned Rio Tinto Copper Mine Superfund site with $25 million paid by the Atlantic Richfield Co., DuPont and Co., the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co. and Teck American Inc., all corporate successors to companies that operated the copper mine between 1932 and 1976. The agreement was worked out last year by the EPA, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. The cleanup will remove mine tailings from Mill Creek, make the creek habitable for redband trout and improve the water quality of Mill Creek and the East Fork Owyhee River.


7. Alcoa Superfund Site, Akwesasne and Saint Regis Mohawk, New York



The Alcoa Superfund aluminum manufacturing facility in Massena, New York, released hazardous substances including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) onto property and into the Grasse River, contaminating sediments in the river system to approximately seven miles downstream, a traditional area of the Akwesasne Mohawk. Analysis of fish in the Grasse River revealed high levels of PCB contamination. PCBs are linked to cancer, low birth weight and thyroid disease, as well as learning, memory and immune system disorders. When in April 2012 the EPA finalized a cleanup plan that requires dredging and capping of contaminated sediment in a 7.2 mile stretch of the river in April 2012, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe were not satisfied with the capping solution.


8. General Motors Massena, Akwesasne Mohawk



Some 4,000 Saint Regis Mohawks live adjacent to the General Motors Massena Superfund site in Massena, New York, which while in operation used PCBs, plus generated and disposed of various industrial wastes onsite. PCBs have been found in the groundwater, on- and off-site soils and sediments in the St. Lawrence and Raquette Rivers, Turtle Cove and Turtle Creek. PCBs are probable human carcinogens that can also affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems, as well as cause other health effects. Groundwater was also found to be contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are potentially harmful substances that easily evaporate in the air. Phenols have been detected in lagoons left behind.

Under an August 2010 EPA order, Motors Liquidation Co., formerly GM, and then RACER Trust became responsible for additional sampling, decontamination of the building and contents, demolition of the building, removal of PCB-contaminated soil beneath the building and restoration of the area. A controversial landfill of capped contamination will be moved 150 feet from the tribal border in 2014, EPA regional administrator Judith Enck told the Associated Press in 2012.

The bodies of young Akwesasne Mohawk adults contain twice the levels of PCBs as the national average, compared to those studied by the CDC. Researchers have already established that PCBs have altered thyroid gland function in the Akwesasne community. Prior studies found lower testosterone levels and established links to autoimmune disorders.

“Endocrine disruption seems to be the effect which is most far reaching, because other effects on the reproductive system may be well tied into that,” said Lawrence Schell, a professor at the State University of New York (SUNY at Albany) and director of its Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities who was involved in an exposure research study at the St. Regis Mohawk Nation.


9. Onondaga Lake, Onondaga Nation, New York



Onondaga Lake is a sacred place. The Great Peacemaker formed the Haudenosaunee, known as the Iroquois Confederacy, on its shores.

That the 4.5 square mile lake in Syracuse, New York is spoiled is a painful thing. Sewage overflows contaminated the lake over the years, as did industrial pollutants and heavy metals such as PCBs, pesticides, benzene, toluene, xylene, creosotes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), lead, cobalt, and mercury. The Onondaga Lake Superfund site, listed in 1994, consists of the lake itself and seven major and minor tributaries. Completion of the dredging work is being performed by Honeywell International with oversight by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the EPA and the New York State Department of Health, and capping is expected in 2016. The Onondaga Nation states the Honeywell cleanup plan does not effectively contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals that will be left beneath caps in the lake-bottom sediments.

“Caps are not a reliable form of containment—they will fail, and whether it is in 10 years or 110 years, it is only a matter of time,” the Onondaga said in a statement. “And when that happens, the chemicals will be re-released into the ecosystem.”

Nor does the plan set any goals for making the lake ‘swimmable’ or ‘fishable’ they say—a requirement under the Clean Water Act, the Onondaga added.


10. Tar Creek, Quapaw Tribe



Picher, Oklahoma, part of the Quapaw’s tribal jurisdictional area, was home to productive zinc and lead mining until 1967, when mining companies abandoned 14,000 mine shafts, 70 million tons of lead-laced tailings, 36 million tons of mill sand and sludge and contaminated water, leaving residents with high lead levels in blood and tissues. The area was declared the Tar Creek Superfund site in 1983, but Picher was deemed too toxic to clean up after a 1993 study found that 34 percent of the children tested in Picher had blood lead levels exceeding the point at which there is a risk of brain or nervous system damage.  Cancers skyrocketed. A federal buyout paid people to leave. The Quapaw Tribe has cleaned up part of the Tar Creek Superfund site known as the Catholic Forty and has signed agreements to clean up two other sections of the contamination. Their goal is to make the land productive again.


11. Midnite Mine, Spokane Indian Reservation, Washington


The 350-acre Midnite Mine Superfund site on the Spokane Indian Reservation in eastern Washington is centered around a former open pit uranium mine that poses a threat to human health due to elevated levels of radioactivity and the presence of heavy metals. Years of digging for uranium from 1954 to 1964, and again from 1969 to 1981, have disturbed 350 acres, left two open mine pits and piles of toxic rock on the landscape. Under a September 2011 agreement, Newmont USA Limited and Dawn Mining Company LLC would design, construct and implement the cleanup plan for the site that EPA selected in 2006. They will also reimburse EPA’s costs for overseeing the work. The United States will contribute a share of the cleanup costs. EPA will oversee the cleanup work in coordination with the Spokane Tribe. Cleanup is expected to cost $193 million.


12-532. Uranium Mining, Navajo Nation



The legacy of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation is radioactive uranium contamination from 521 abandoned Superfund mine sites spread over 27,000 acres of Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona in the Four Corners area, leaving many homes and drinking water sources on the reservation with elevated levels of radiation. The health effects to Navajo citizens include lung cancer from inhalation of radioactive particles, bone cancer and impaired kidney function from exposure to radionuclides in drinking water. The EPA has completed on-the-ground screening of the mine sites, and with the Navajo EPA is determining the order of site cleanup. Cleanup of some sites has begun while the US EPA continues to research and identify Potentially Responsible Parties under Superfund laws to contribute to cleanup costs.

Rockstar climber Alex Honnold scales up solar in Navajo Territory



By Samantha Larson, Grist

Jimmy Chin


Sunny, high 50s, and just a light breeze: It’s a perfect California December morning for rock climbing at the Owens River Gorge and Alex Honnold has just offered to give me a belay — meaning, he’s offered to attend to the safety rope for me on a climb. The official reason I’m here is to get the scoop on Honnold’s environmental foundation. But, for a climber, getting offered a belay by Honnold is probably the closest thing we have to getting thrown a ball by Peyton Manning or LeBron James.

Because his crazy free-solo (climbing without ropes) ascents in places like Zion, Utah, and Yosemite, Calif., have landed him front-page features in OutsideNational Geographic, and on 60 Minutes, Honnold has probably done more than anyone else to bring the historically fringe sport of climbing into the U.S. mainstream. When he started climbing full-time in 2005, he got used to living the dirtbag life of a rock-obsessed vagabond on about $8,000 a year. Now, the 28-year-old does stuff like star in commercials for Citibank and Dewar’s Scotch.

So, in considering whether to take him up on the offer to do the climb, I’m intimidated. I step back and tell myself I’m here to learn about what he’s up to away from the crag, anyway. Through his namesake foundation, he’s dropping some of his extra cash into environmental projects like Solar Aid and Grid Alternatives.

He’s bringing a can-do attitude to it, too: Instead of looking down at how far the planet could stumble, he’s looking for the next hold. “I feel like a lot of the traditional environmental stuff is sort of depressing,” he says. “You know, ‘the world is fucked, things are going downhill, we’re going to have to drastically change our lifestyles in order to keep the world from being so fucked.’ I’m not really that pessimistic by nature … There are so many solutions that only take, like, doing it,” Honnold says.

For now, he sees the next handhold as solar power, hence his next trip: a 2.5 week tour he’s embarking on Friday that will combine climbing desert towers, biking, and working for his foundation installing solar panels in Navajo Territory. The Honnold Foundation will work with Eagle Energy to install solar power systems into the homes of 30 Navajo elders who are currently living without access to electricity, and a total of 200 solar lights into five schools.

“There’s something like 18,000 households on reservations there that don’t have access to power,” Honnold told me over the phone recently. “And, in sunny Arizona, especially, solar is the ideal solution. It seems like we should be powering people who are on the grid with it, let alone people who are off the grid.”

For the record, I did suck it up and do the climb. Later in the day, a hush came over the crowded crag — everyone around me was looking up. There was Honnold, at the top of that same climb, totally solo.

Here’s some footage I took of Honnold on the climb:


Honnold and Wright leave for their trip on Friday. Look out for their movie Sufferfest 2.0 about it next year. 

Samantha Larson is a science nerd, adventure enthusiast, and fellow at Grist. Follow her on Twitter.

Unarmed Navajo man killed at Arizona Walmart: Shooter free pending investigation


Shooter tells police he felt he was losing the brawl

Photo of Belinte Chee from his Facebook page
Photo of Belinte Chee from his Facebook page by Levi Rickert / Currents / 19 Feb 2014


CHANDLER, ARIZONA — Kriston Charles Belinte Chee, a 36 year-old Navajo, paid a visit to a Walmart in Chandler, Arizona on Sunday. Allegedly an argument broke out between Chee and Kyle Wayne Quadin, 25, at the service counter. The argument turned into a physical brawl.

According to a statement gained by the Native News Online from the Chandler Police Department, “Mr. Qaudin was losing the fight and indicated he ‘was in fear for his life,’ so he pulled his gun and shot Mr. Belinte Chee.”

Chee was unarmed.

He was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Qaudin is now free pending an investigation.

“In situations such as this we call the county prosecutor’s office who sent someone to the scene of the crime and it was determined there were not grounds to hold the shooter at this point,” commented Chandler Police Department’s media relations officer, Sergeant Joe Favazzo to the Native News Online on Tuesday afternoon.

“Several factors go into a decision by the prosecutor’s office. It was determined Quadin was not a flight risk, so we let him go,” said Favazzo.

Police were dispatched the Walmart, located at 800 West Warner Road at 4:08 pm, local time, on Sunday, February 16, 2014.

It was not determined what the cause of the argument was. Chee and Quadin reportedly did not know one another.

The state of Arizona does not have a “Stand Your Ground” law, such as Florida, where the law was used by George Zimmerman case where Trayvon Martin was killed by Zimmerman.

However, people do have a right to defend themselves if they feel their lives are being threatened, according to Favazzo.

The Chandler Police Department will review the in-store video of the incident and interview several witnesses.

Chandler Police detectives will complete the investigation and submit the case for review to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Chee is survived by his wife and son.

Arthur Jacobs contributed to the article.

Seeing stars through Navajo eyes


STEVE LEWIS/Durango HeraldNancy Maryboy, who is Navajo and Cherokee, says Navajo Sky allows Native Americans to “examine their own astronomy from inside their culture.”
STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
Nancy Maryboy, who is Navajo and Cherokee, says Navajo Sky allows Native Americans to “examine their own astronomy from inside their culture.”

Traveling planetarium brings folklore, science into focus

By Ann Butler Durango Herald staff writer

February 07, 2014

Studying the world – and skies – around us isn’t just the purview of Western science.

On Thursday, a traveling planetarium exhibit called “Navajo Eyes” made a stop at Durango Discovery Museum. In it, two Navajo scientists, Nancy Maryboy and David Begay, shared the results of more than 25 years of research into how their ancestors studied and learned from the stars.

It was the first step in what the museum hopes will be an ongoing look at science as practiced by the first people in the Southwest, from astronomy to irrigation and agricultural techniques.

“We want to expose people to the kind of science and experimentation that was happening here,” said Nathan Schmidt, marketing and communications manager at the museum. “At the same time the Greeks were looking at the stars, Native Americans were, too.”

Maryboy and Begay, under the auspices of the Indigenous Education Institute and in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, have spent four years under a grant from NASA creating several modules about the Navajo, or Diné, understanding of the cosmos.

They collected numerous oral histories and used friends and family members to help with the voice recording.

“We had an advantage over most archaeoastronomers,” Maryboy said, “because David’s so fluent in Navajo and it’s all so embedded in the language. Navajo is a quantum language, and we had to go through layers to fully understand.”

A relative of Maryboy’s, Kenneth Maryboy, read the voice of Coyote, whose mischief disturbed the harmony of the cosmos. In his day job, he’s a county commissioner in San Juan County, Utah.

Begay and Maryboy have been invited to set up their planetarium at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian in addition to smaller museums across the country.

The similarities and commonalities between the different cultures was striking. The Greeks called the Pleiades the “Seven Sisters,” the Navajo call them the “Seven Little Boys.” When the constellation lies on its side so that the “rabbit tracks” show, it’s all right to begin hunting because the fawns are old enough to survive if they lose their parents. The seven stars also refer to the dots on the hind quarters of a fawn, reinforcing the hunting schedule.

“It’s easy for people to hear about this and think about it as folklore,” Schmidt said. “But the way it was explained to me, and it makes sense, is by looking at Chimney Rock. It required incredibly precise measurements and knowledge of the stars to so perfectly align with the summer and winter solstice. It may have been used for religious purposes, but it’s pure science.”

An incorrect address for the Navajo astronomy research project was given in an earlier version of this story.

Ellsbury and Yankees Near a 7-Year Deal


Jacoby Ellsbury, a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes  and is Navajo, one of the four tribes in CRIT.

Robert Deutsch/ReutersJacoby Ellsbury helped Boston win its third World Series title in 10 years and second since he joined the team.
Robert Deutsch/Reuters
Jacoby Ellsbury helped Boston win its third World Series title in 10 years and second since he joined the team.

By David Waldstein The New York Times

December 3, 2013

When the Yankees signed Johnny Damon away from the Boston Red Sox in 2006 — two years after he helped them beat the Yankees and win the World Series — it was a coup. Damon provided the Yankees with speed on the bases and home run power from the left side of the plate, and he helped them win a championship in 2009.

Seven years later, the Yankees are hoping to follow the same script by bringing in another gifted former Red Sox center fielder. On Tuesday night, they were close to signing Jacoby Ellsbury, who helped Boston win its third World Series title in 10 years this October and second since he joined the team, to a seven-year, $153 million deal.

Ellsbury was flying to New York from Phoenix on Tuesday night to take a physical, according to two people involved in the discussions who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the matter.

He would play center field, and Brett Gardner would move to a corner spot or possibly be used in a trade.

With the addition of Ellsbury, who turned 30 on Sept. 11, the Yankees would still have money to bring back Robinson Cano and stay under their stated goal of $189 million for their payroll. However, Cano would have to accept the club’s current price of seven years and about $170 million to $175 million. The Yankees offered Cano seven years for about $160 million and seemed unfazed Tuesday by reports that he was talking to the Seattle Mariners, who have been trying for years to add offense.

Ellsbury was only one component of a dizzying few days in baseball. Several trades, free-agent deals and general hot-stove buzz made it seem as if next week’s winter meetings had already begun.

The Red Sox also came to terms on a one-year deal for catcher A. J. Pierzynski, who is just the type of antagonizing player who could stoke the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

The Yankees are also talking to the free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who, like Ellsbury and Damon, is represented by Scott Boras, but their preference was Ellsbury.

Last month, the Yankees signed the free-agent catcher Brian McCann, who agreed to a five-year, $85 million deal Nov. 23.

The Mariners are also interested in Carlos Beltran, according to a National League executive who has spoken to the team about its plans. Seattle may be willing to offer Beltran four years, but he was in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, visiting with the Royals, his first team, and could also end up in Boston or Texas on a three-year deal.

The Yankees have interest in Beltran, too, but do not want to give him three years, and two years will probably not be enough to get him.

Limiting the number of years on free-agent contracts has been a priority for the Yankees and many other teams, too. The burden of Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year contract and the evidence of long-term mistakes with Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder have made teams wary of committing similar costly blunders.

If the Yankees bring back Cano, it could mean they will not have enough money to add a free-agent pitcher other than Hiroki Kuroda, who is deciding whether to come back to the Yankees.

Kuroda was concerned last year, amid the talk about the Yankees trying to keep their payroll less than $189 million for luxury tax purposes, that the team might not be competitive in 2014, but their aggressive pursuit of McCann and Ellsbury demonstrates their resolve.

Ellsbury was a key figure during his seven years in Boston, playing center field and batting leadoff since he came up as a rookie in 2007, hitting .353 in 33 regular-season games and .438 in his first World Series.

A career .297 hitter with a .353 on-base percentage, Ellsbury is one of the more dynamic players in baseball, combining speed and power. His wins above replacement, a statistic designed to show a players value over a typical replacement player, was 5.8 last year and 8.1 in 2011, perhaps his finest season.

He finished second to Justin Verlander in the American League Most Valuable Player award voting in 2011 after he hit .321 with 364 total bases, 32 homers, 105 runs batted in, 119 runs, 46 doubles and 39 stolen bases — a breathtaking display of all-around productivity. Injuries have been a problem at times, with rib cage and shoulder problems limiting him to 18 games in 2010 and 74 in 2012. But even at the ages of 29 and 30 in 2013, he still managed to lead the A.L. in stolen bases with 52, the third time he topped that category. He also led the league with 10 triples in 2009.

In 38 postseason games, he has batted .301, including .325 in 10 World Series games with a .386 O.B.P.

Other than in 2011, he never hit more than nine home runs, but the Yankees envision his power numbers rising with the short porch in right field, always inviting to left-handed hitters like Ellsbury and McCann.

With Curtis Granderson all but gone, the Yankees needed to shore up their outfield. What better way to do it than to take a good player away from the Red Sox? It’s worked before, and more than once.

General managers, agents and players are not waiting idly for the big industry convention in Florida next week. In the last few days, the off-season action heated up significantly, with teams making trades and offering contracts to free agents at a dizzying pace.

Word filtered out Monday that the Detroit Tigers had traded starting pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for three players in a deal that had many general managers scratching their heads.

On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays added a relief pitcher and a catcher by acquiring closer Heath Bell from the Arizona Diamondbacks and catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Cincinnati Reds in a three-team deal. The Houston Astros picked up center fielder Dexter Fowler from the Colorado Rockies for the right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes.

The Oakland Athletics announced that they had traded outfielder Seth Smith to the San Diego Padres for the right-handed pitcher Luke Gregerson.

The free-agent market, stirred up first by the Yankees, was percolating, too. Closer Joe Nathan was said to be nearing a deal with the Tigers, which may explain why they needed to trade Fister, to shed the money to sign Nathan. Detroit has been desperate to add a closer.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was closing in on a three-year deal with the Miami Marlins after his successful tenure with the Red Sox.

The Washington Redskins Had An Incredibly Awkward Tribute To Native American Veterans

navajo-code-breakersCork Gaines, November 26, 2013, Business Insider

The NFL is using the month of November to salute members of the military and veterans.

The Washington Redskins decided to use this as an opportunity to honor both the military and Native Americans during the Monday Night Football game.

During a commercial break, a video tribute (see video below) was shown honoring the Navajo Code Breakers of World War II. The video, which was only shown in the stadium and not on ESPN, included old clips of both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush speaking about the veterans. After the video, four of the veterans were shown on the field.

The timing of the tribute raised a lot of eyebrows as it felt like a forced moment in the middle of the current controversy surrounding the team’s continued use of a name that many deem to be racially insensitive. The inclusion in the video of a Native American reciting “Hail to the Redskins!” felt scripted and the veterans on the field wearing jackets with Redskins logos added to the awkwardness of the moment.

Here is video of both the clip shown in the stadium and the scene on the field…