Professor Looks At Evolution Of American Indian Education


By Samantha Sonner,

New Mexico is a state rich in American Indian culture and history, but the way American Indian children are educated has changed drastically over the years. This was the topic of a recent discussion at the Branigan Cultural Center.

Tad Conner, Assistant Professor of Government at New Mexico State University says when most people think of American Indian Education they remember the boarding school era that tried to force assimilation. He says a lot has changed since then.

“Tribes kind of reasserted themselves,” Conner said. “Preserving their languages, preserving their traditions and their customs, but also to try to create positive change and reform in public schools and in public education. And so today I think that’s why we’ve seen sort of a role reversal, away from assimilationist policies but more toward this era of self-determination.”

He says New Mexico is a good example of American Indian history and culture being taught in the classroom.

“I think New Mexico is actually one of those states that’s really kind of taken a lead,” Conner said. “In trying to create at the state level some type of coherent image of instituting an American Indian education curriculum, and traditional kind of cultural programs in public schools that are not only going to benefit native children but are also going to benefit non-native students as well.”

He says it’s important for non-native children to learn more about native culture.

“It’s never a bad thing to learn more,” Conner said. “Especially about your state, and especially in New Mexico when the history of the pueblos, and tribes, and apaches are intimately connected with the experience of non-Indians in this state. So, I think it’s really important for New Mexico’s students in terms of learning the history of the state to be familiar with the history of the tribes, the tribes that are in this particular region and the rights of those particular groups.”

He says there are a growing number of schools on American Indian territory.

“With the tribally controlled schools it gives the tribes a little bit more control over the curriculum,” Conner said. “In terms of being able to bring into the classroom things that are unique. Not only to American Indians as a whole, but unique to their particular groups historical experience as well, especially with regards to the language.

He says there is still a long way to go in the evolution of American Indian Education.

New Mexico lawmakers to take testimony on proposed gambling compacts for tribal casinos

By The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — New Mexico lawmakers are facing a hard deadline as agreements that allow a handful of American Indian tribes to operate casinos approach their expiration date.

Gov. Susana Martinez’s office has spent the last three years working with tribes to craft a new gambling compact that supporters say would bring stability to New Mexico’s gaming industry, protect jobs and increase revenues to the state.

However, some lawmakers say New Mexico is veering off course.

Senate Finance Chairman John Arthur Smith suggests the state has deviated from its initial plan nearly two decades ago of trying to strike a balance among horse racing tracks, American Indian communities seeking economic development and the state lottery.

Tribes and the public will have a chance Saturday to testify on the proposed compact before the Legislature’s compact committee.

Floods Hit 50 Navajo Nation Chapters Across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah this Week

Source: Native News Network

WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA – Since Monday, nearly 50 chapters have called for assistance in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Chinle was hardest hit by the floods as 22 people had to be evacuated from their homes. The floods continued downstream to Many Farms and Rock Point where another 40 people were either evacuated or rescued. In Tonalea, Arizona, officials reported that 20 homes were damaged due to flooding.

Navajo Nation floods

Most of the flash flooding happens after short bursts of intense rain.


“I want our people to know we are working with several different agencies to ensure that our people are safe and their basic needs are met,”

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said, In an attempt to calm concerns.

“Though we are thankful for the rain we have received, I want our people to know that the Navajo Nation programs and departments are responding to calls regarding flash flooding. Please be careful and don’t drive or cross flooded roadways. We want everyone to make through the rains safely,”

President Shelly said.

President Shelly has been getting regular updates about flooded communities throughout the week.

“We need everyone to exercise caution and be alert to their surroundings. Though it might not be raining in your area, it can be raining in areas upstream,”

said Navajo Department of Emergency Management Director Rose Whitehair.

Whitehair added that it is difficult to predict what areas would experience flash flooding since most of the flooding happens after short bursts of intense rain.

“And with the long term drought, the ground is hard so there is nowhere for the water to go,”

Whitehair said.

County and state emergency departments have all been coordinating efforts with the Navajo Department of Emergency Management along with the Red Cross, the Hopi Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“I want to thank all the first responders and agencies for working together. I know you are all working hard but remember the work you are doing is for the good of all the people in need. We are a strong nation and we will endure through these difficult times,”

President Shelly said.

Since July nearly 60 chapters have reported to the Navajo Department of Emergency seeking assistance for damages occurred as a result of flooding. Issues have been from road washouts, road closures, rescue operations, shelter for flood victims and road clearing.

President Shelly signed a declaration of emergency in August regarding the flooding and plans are to update the declaration for recent flood events.

Navajo Department of Emergency Management and chapters are working according to a declaration of emergency that President Shelly signed in August.

For those unfamiliar with the Navajo Nation, a chapter is a unit of local government most similar to townships found in most midwestern and northeastern states of the US and Canadian provinces.

Judge blocks planned horse slaughter at 2 plants

Associated Press, source: Washington Times

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge on Friday temporarily halted plans by companies in New Mexico and Iowa to start slaughtering horses next week.

U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo issued a restraining order in a lawsuit brought by The Humane Society of the United States and other groups in case that has sparked an emotional national debate about how best to deal with the tens of thousands of unwanted and abandoned horses across the country.

Armijo issued a restraining order and scheduled another hearing for Monday in a lawsuit by The Humane Society of the United States and other groups that are strongly opposed to the idea of resuming horse slaughter for the first time in seven years in the U.S.

The groups contend the Department of Agriculture failed to do the proper environmental studies before issuing permits that allowed companies in Iowa and New Mexico to open horse slaughterhouses. The companies had said they wanted to open as soon as Monday.

The horse meat would be exported for human consumption and for use as zoo and other animal food.

Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M., has been at the fore of the fight, pushing for more than a year for permission to convert its cattle plant into a horse slaughterhouse. Its plans ignited a divisive debate over whether horses are livestock or domestic companions, and how best to deal with all the neglected and often-starving horses.

After more than a year of delays and a lawsuit by Valley Meat, the Department of Agriculture in June gave the company the go-ahead to begin slaughtering horses. USDA officials said they were legally obligated to issue the permits, even though the Obama administration opposes horse slaughter and is seeking to reinstate a congressional ban that was lifted in 2011.

Another permit was approved a few days later for Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa.

The move has divided horse rescue and animal welfare groups, ranchers, politicians and Indian tribes about what is the most humane way to deal with the country’s horse overpopulation.

Some Native American tribes, including the Navajo and Yakama nations, are among those who are pushing to let the companies open. They say the exploding horse populations on their reservations are trampling and overgrazing rangelands, decimating forage resources for cattle and causing widespread environmental damage. The Navajo Nation, the nation’s largest Indian reservation, estimates there are 75,000 horses on its land, many of which are dehydrated and starving after years of drought.

On the other side, actor Robert Redford, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, current Gov. Susana Martinez and Attorney General Gary King are among those who strongly oppose a return to domestic horse slaughter, citing the animals’ iconic role as companion animals in the West.

“Horse slaughter has no place in our culture,” Redford said in a statement last week in announcing formation of a foundation that has joined the fight. “It is cruel, inhumane, and perpetuates abuse and neglect of these beloved animals. We must oppose it with all of our might.”

Supporters of domestic slaughter point to a June 2011 report from the federal Government Accountability Office that shows cases of horse abuse and abandonment on a steady rise since Congress effectively banned horse slaughter by cutting funding for USDA inspection programs in 2006.

They also cite USDA statistics compiled by the Equine Welfare Alliance that shows the number of U.S. horses sent to other countries for slaughter has nearly tripled since domestic horse slaughter ceased, with many of those being shipped thousands of miles to points south of the border to be slaughtered in unregulated and inhumane facilities.

They said it is better to slaughter the horses in regulated and humane domestic facilities than to let them starve or be shipped to Mexico.

Navajo Nation will support NM horse processing plant

By Rob Nikolewski, New Mexico Watch Dog

The Navajo Nation is about to wade into the heated debate over a horse-meat processing plant in Roswell and will support Valley Meat Co. becoming the first horse slaughterhouse in the U.S. in seven years.

“They’re eating up the land and drinking all the water,” Erny Zah, spokesman for Navajo Nation President Ben Shelley told New Mexico Watchdog of the feral horses on Navajo Nation land that encompasses 27,425 square miles, including parts of Arizona and Utah as well as a large section of northwest New Mexico.

Zah estimated there are 20,000 to 30,000 “feral horses on our lands,” and that Navajo Nation lawyers in Washington, D.C., are in the process of finalizing a letter that Shelly will sign in support of the horse slaughter facility “with the next couple of days.”

COMING OUT IN FAVOR: The Navajo Nation is about to come out in favor of a controversial horse slaughter facility in Roswell, NM. Photo from Facebook.

COMING OUT IN FAVOR: The Navajo Nation is about to come out in favor of a controversial horse slaughter facility in Roswell, NM. Photo from Facebook.


“I’m sympathetic to the native nations but all this is going to do is make New Mexico the slaughter state,” said Phil Carter of Animal Protection New Mexico, one of the facility’s opponents. “We have to move forward beyond this outdated and cruel slaughter model.”

The debate over the facility in Roswell has sparked heated arguments that extend beyond state borders.

Opponents of the facility include Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, former Gov. Bill Richardson, state Attorney General Gary King and State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, as well as actor Robert Redford and animal rights groups. The Humane Society of the United States is one of a slew of plaintiffs seeking an injunction to stop the company from opening its slaughterhouse operations.

Supporters say that given the rising cost of hay, horses have been abandoned and left to starve. They argue it’s better to have unwanted and dying horses killed in a federall -inspected facility in the U.S. than have them sent to plants in places like Mexico, where they often meet gruesome deaths in unsanitary conditions.

“Which would you rather do, put them down in a humane fashion or let them starve to death,” the facility’s attorney Blair Dunn said earlier this month.

The debate has become more intense as Valley Meat Co. hopes to open as soon as Aug. 5. A federal court hearing is set for Friday in Albuquerque

Last Saturday, a fire broke out at the company and officials suspect it may have been deliberately set. The blaze burned part of the exterior of Valley Meat Co.’s building and damaged a refrigeration unit. A Chaves County sheriff’s lieutenant described the fire as “very suspicious.”

“It was an act of domestic terrorism,” Dunn told the Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership Tuesday.

Zah said the Navajo Nation’s decision to weigh in on the matter is “more economic” than anything else.

“We’re already in a drought,” Zah said. “We already have our registered cattle and sheep and registered horses to care for. We’re concerned about water and vegetation” being eaten by feral horses.

Zah said a horse slaughter facility in Roswell is simply closer and more cost-effective.

“We need some place to take them,” he said. “There are other options but they are more costly … The plant Roswell provides us this opportunity.”

But Carter says there are other options, including injecting horses with contraceptives, gelding stallions and euthanizing them.

But isn’t that expensive?

Carter points to the New Mexico Equine Protection Fund that his group administers and says the cost to tending to feral horses has been reduced to about $200 per head. “And there’s no reason those costs couldn’t come down more,” Carter said.

“They’re sacred animals,” Zah acknowledged but added, “We also have a kinship with our land. There’s a delicate balance there. Everything is related, everything is intertwined. When one is out of balance, we have to take care of that delicate balance.”

Supporters of the plant have estimated there are 9,000 feral horses on Mescalero Apache land in southern New Mexico. Numerous phone calls from New Mexico Watchdog to Alfred LaPaz, acting president of the Mescalero tribe, seeking comment have gone unanswered.

World’s Largest Gathering of Nations Celebrates 30 Years of Celebrating Native and Indigenous Peoples and Cultures

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

All photos courtesy Gathering of NationsGrand Entry at the Gathering of the Nations
All photos courtesy Gathering of Nations
Grand Entry at the Gathering of the Nations

Born out of humble beginnings, the Gathering of Nations, the world’s largest gathering of Native American and indigenous people, will celebrate its 30th anniversary in Albuquerque, New Mexico April 25-27.  Considered the most prominent pow wow in North America, it will host tens of thousands of people and more than 700 tribes from throughout the United States, Canada, and around the world honoring three decades of Native American culture and traditions through dance, music, food and indigenous dress.


The three-day event includes more than 3,000 traditional Native singers and dancers competing and entertaining a capacity crowd, and more than 800 Native artisans, craftsmen and traders displaying and selling their work.  In addition, dozens of different indigenous bands will perform various musical genres on Stage 49, and vendors will offer a wide variety of food in the Native America Food Court and Powwow Alley

As part of the Gathering of Nations, a young Native  woman is crowned Miss Indian World and represents all native and indigenous people as a cultural goodwill ambassador.  As one of the largest and most prestigious cultural pageants, Native American and indigenous women representing their different tribes and traditions compete in the areas of tribal knowledge, dancing ability, and personality assessment.


“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Gathering of Nations, and we are busy planning for what we expect to be the largest and most exciting pow wow in the event’s history,” said Derek Mathews, founder of the Gathering of Nations.  “The Gathering of Nations strives to be a positive cultural experience that is exhilarating for everyone.  The pow wow features thousands of dancers performing different styles from many regions and tribes, offers the finest in Native American arts and crafts in the Indian Traders Market, a delicious variety of Native American and Southwest cuisine, and the best in contemporary performances in the arena, on Stage 49, and in Powwow Alley.”


The first Gathering of Nations was held in 1983 at the former University of Albuquerque where Derek Mathews was the Dean of Students, and a club campus adviser for the Indian Club.  Four hundred dancers competed and about 1,000 spectators attended the first year.  In 1984, the pow wow was moved to the New Mexico State Fair Grounds where it was held for two years.  Then the Gathering of Nations moved to its current location, the University of New Mexico Arena (affectionately known as “The Pit”), in 1986.  The organizers realized the Gathering of Nations had the potential to  become a larger event and decided to create the Gathering of Nations Limited, a 501 c3 non-profit organization, allowing organizers to seek financial assistance to produce the event.  Throughout the years, it grew to become the largest Native American pow wow in North America, but still honors its original intent of offering a pow wow contest that is fair to all dancers.


The Gathering of Nations is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the release of a new book and the launch of Gathering of Nations Internet Radio.  The book titled 30 Years of Gathering: Gathering of Nations Powwow is a look back at previous pow wows and is told through photographs and written memories.  The new book will be available in time for the event’s 30th anniversary in April.  Additionally, the Gathering of Nations Internet Radio was recently introduced on iHeartRadio offering Native  music of all genres including pow wow, rock ‘n’ roll and spoken word.

The 30th Annual Gathering of Nations begins Thursday, April 25, at “The Pit” with registration for singers and dancers and the start of the Miss Indian World competition.  The crowning of Miss Indian World will take place on Saturday, April 27.  The much anticipated “Grand Entry,” where thousands of Native American dancers simultaneously enter the stadium dressed in
colorful outfits to the sounds of hundreds of beating drums, begins at noon on Friday, April 26.

Gathering tickets cost copy7 per day, $34 for a two day pass, or $50 for a two day pass with VIP seating.  They can be purchased at the door, or in advance online through mid–April.  For participants and guests traveling to the 30th Annual Gathering of Nations from outside the state, Southwest Airlines has special airfare deals and Enterprise Rent-A-Car has an exclusive rental rate.  In addition, the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel – Albuquerque is the host hotel for the event, and is offering special rates for camping facilities at Isleta Lakes.

For more information about the 30th Annual Gathering of Nations, visit


A Monumental Day

Samuel Gomez, the war chief for Taos Pueblo, was in Washington, D.C., on Monday as President Barack Obama proclaimed a new national monument near the tribe’s reservation in northern New Mexico.”
Originally posted ABQ Journal
By Jackie Jadrnak / Journal North Reporter
on Tue, Mar 26, 2013

Not a single dissenting voice was heard when community meetings were called to discuss making Rio Grande del Norte into a national monument, according to Taos Mayor Darren Córdova.

It should be no surprise, then, that the Taos County Commission Chamber was full to bursting with some 150 residents applauding Monday’s signing of the presidential proclamation declaring the 242,555 acres in Taos and Rio Arriba counties a national monument.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., hosted that local gathering, while the official signing ceremony itself took place in Washington, D.C. Area residents who joined President Barack Obama in the Oval Office included former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who was credited with spearheading the preservation of this land; Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Questa Mayor Esther Garcia; and Taos Pueblo War Chief Samuel Gomez.

“This is a great day for New Mexico,” Bingaman said in a news release. “I’m glad that President Obama found northern New Mexico’s landscape so compelling that he was willing to make the Río Grande del Norte his largest monument designation to date.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the community, which has strongly supported this effort, will benefit from the conservation and cultural protections that come with this designation,” he said.

Vice President Joe Biden, center, reacts after President Barack Obama signs legislation under the Antiquities Act designating five new national monuments on Monday in the Oval Office. From left are Samuel Gomez, war chief for Taos Pueblo, Biden, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. (susan walsh/the associated press)

Vice President Joe Biden, center, reacts after President Barack Obama signs legislation under the Antiquities Act designating five new national monuments on Monday in the Oval Office. From left are Samuel Gomez, war chief for Taos Pueblo, Biden, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. (susan walsh/the associated press)
Vice President Joe Biden, center, reacts after President Barack Obama signs legislation under the Antiquities Act designating five new national monuments on Monday in the Oval Office. From left are Samuel Gomez, war chief for Taos Pueblo, Biden, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. (susan walsh/the associated press)

That local consensus was key in moving the project forward, Heinrich said in a telephone interview last week. Without it, action on the federal level often is stalled, he said.

“It’s one of those really special places,” Heinrich said, adding that in the mid- to late 1990s, as director and an outfit guide with the Cottonwood Gulch Foundation, he took kids all over the Southwest, including to raft and explore the Rio Grande Gorge.

That gorge is only a piece of the new national monument, which stretches to the Colorado border. Obama’s proclamation lists the riches found in the area, including canyons, volcanic cones, natural springs and native grasslands.

“The river provides habitat for fish such as the Río Grande cutthroat trout, as well as the recently reintroduced North American river otter,” the proclamation reads. “The Río Grande del Norte is part of the Central Migratory Flyway, a vital migration corridor for birds such as Canada geese, herons, sandhill cranes, hummingbirds and American avocets. Several species of bats make their home in the gorge, which also provides important nesting habitat for golden eagles and numerous other raptor species, as well as habitat for the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher.”

Besides bald eagles and other birds, the area includes Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, pronghorn and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, and rare Gunnison’s prairie dogs, as well as the ringtail, black bear, coyote, red fox, cougar and bobcat, according to the proclamation.

Petroglyphs, some dating as far back as 7,500 B.C., are found concentrated near hot springs in the gorge, along with a number of artifacts tracing ancient habitation. The Rio San Antonio gorge also contains such historic reminders, while San Antonio Mountain is thought to be the source of dacite used to make stone tools, states the proclamation.

Ute Mountain, at 10,000 feet, is the tallest of the extinct volcanic cones that dot the area. Remnants of homes and people who settled the area right after World War I can be found on the slopes of Cerro Montoso, while other artifacts throughout the area mark the passage of Spanish explorers and settlers.

“The Río Grande del Norte has long supported our cultural traditions in northern New Mexico, such as hunting, irrigation and grazing,” said Udall. “As a permanently protected national monument, it will drive even more economic progress and job growth through tourism in communities that desperately need it.”

The Rio Grande Gorge, looking north from the Taos Gorge Bridge is now part of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument near Taos, NM, photographed on Monday March 25, 2013. (Dean Hanson/Journal)
The Rio Grande Gorge, looking north from the Taos Gorge Bridge is now part of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument near Taos, NM, photographed on Monday March 25, 2013. (Dean Hanson/Journal)