American Youth Circus Festival to Hit Seattle This Summer

he American Youth Circus Organization

Seattle, WA – (July 17, 2013) –
For kids and young adults that have always dreamed of flying on the trapeze or walking the tightrope, the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) has opened the door to make that dream a reality this summer. Each year the festival rotates locations and this coming august, Seattle will play host.

Nearly 300 participants from around the world including the United States, Sweden and England, are expected to participate in the festival. The AYCO is partnering with the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) located in Seattle to support the growing circus community, and the young people that are a part of it.

The festival, which is a biennial event, provides programs for circus educators, young adults, young professionals, and enthusiasts to gather and socialize with their peers. Participants can choose from over 150 workshops and participate in social events and showcases. Intensives are also offered in contortion, tumbling and acrobatics, aerial techniques and creative acts.

AYCO, and the event, benefits and educates the circus community, and provides a way to support and inspire youth circus programming throughout the United States. This year’s location in Seattle will benefit both its local circus community, as well as the city as whole.

“The benefits of the festival go far beyond learning how to juggle,” explains Amy Cohen, Executive Director of AYCO. “It does, of course, teach participants how to master many circus acts, but it also promotes social skills, self-discipline, and commitment. It promotes self-esteem, provides a creative outlet, and helps kids stay fit and succeed in school. The festival does not just help young people become better circus performers – it helps them become better individuals and community members as well.”

The benefits of the festival also extend to the local community and economy. It sheds light on Seattle’s growing circus community, and strengthens its influence worldwide. The city boasts the largest circus school in the United States and its pre-professional program is one of three in the nation. With the event bringing in so many participants, the local economy will benefit from the traffic and pull of the American Youth Circus Festival.

This year’s event will be held at the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) in Seattle, WA. The event will be held from August 14 – 18, 2013. Registration is open to the public.

For festival information, applications, & registration please visit

Diabetes garden plant give away

Didi Garlow, Master Gardener helps fill planters to take home.Photo by Monica Brown

Didi Garlow, Master Gardener  at the Diabetes Garden helps fill planters to take home.
Photo by Monica Brown

By Monica Brown, Tulalip News Writer
TULALIP, WA – The Diabetes Garden at the Karen I Fryberg Health clinic gave away, to their attendees, planter boxes with plants. The Diabetes Garden is a place where patients and community members can come to learn more about plant and garden care for a healthier future.

Community members and patients were invited to come out and fill a planter box to bring home so they can start a small garden. The planter boxes were filled with an assortment of vegetable, herb and flower plants and each person was given a fresh bag of soil to bring home.

This garden event will run until 1:00 pm Tuesday, July 16. But will continue during future, to be announced, garden and health clinic events.

Roni Leahy on right, sorts out plants to take homePhoto by Monica Brown

Master Gardener, Roni Leahy on right, sorts out plants to take home
Photo by Monica Brown

Planter boxes, plants and soil were given to each person.Photo by Monica Brown

Planter boxes, plants and soil were given to each person.
Photo by Monica Brown


The Evolution Of U.S. Tribal Healthcare Centers

July 15, 2013 by Kristin D. Zeit

Healthcare Design Magazine



In the early 1990s, James Childers attended the groundbreaking of the Redbird Smith Health Clinic in Sallisaw, Okla., five miles north of the little town where he lived. Redbird Smith was the first clinic built from the ground up by the Cherokee Nation and—Childers was surprised to see—it was a huge improvement over the typical Indian clinics he was used to.

As an architect, Childers had been doing healthcare projects primarily with the Sisters of Mercy system since 1980. He’d never pursued any government- or publically funded healthcare projects—but the Redbird Smith project got him thinking.

“The architect for that clinic was out of New Mexico,” Childers says. “And that’s what caught my attention. I thought, there’s no need for them to be going to Albuquerque to do clinics in Oklahoma.”

The building, staffing, and maintenance of healthcare facilities for federally recognized Native American tribes have fallen under the jurisdiction of Indian Health Service (IHS) since that department was established in 1955. Traditionally, these IHS clinics haven’t exactly been design-driven, nor have they been particularly reflective of the cultures they serve. Built to meet strict federal guidelines that could be easily replicated from site to site, most of these clinics “were just boxes,” Childers says. “They’re just very functional government buildings.”

Over the past two decades, however, tribes have begun investing more and more money earned through their businesses in improving healthcare for its members. Fueled by joint ventures between the tribes and IHS, healthcare facilities are getting the attention they deserve, with bigger footprints (to better serve the number of patients and house more varied services); thoughtful innovations based on wellness research; and culturally significant touches to celebrate the rich histories of the tribes and provide a positive community resource.

Since 1992, Childers (a member of the Cherokee Nation himself) has been a prolific contributor to these new facilities. Of the 19 joint venture projects between IHS and tribes across the country, Childers has designed seven of them—all publicly bid and awarded separately by each tribe.

Healthcare Design spoke with Childers about the legacy he’s building, as well as the process behind designing facilities that proudly demonstrate the tribal values and cultural wealth of a historically underserved population.

Healthcare Design: Your first tribal project was the Wilma P. Mankiller Clinic in Stilwell, Okla., in 1992. How did you approach that job?
James Childers:  That was an Indian Health Service facility. And as we went through the IHS program, we figured out that what it produced was the typical Indian clinic you might walk into anywhere: too small, overcrowded, no waiting room, no people amenities. Indian Health Service did a fantastic job of getting the most out of its square footage, but there were really no provisions for waiting areas.

We’re in a very rural area here in Oklahoma; these people might drive 40-50 miles for healthcare. And when they did, they brought Grandpa and Grandma and the kids. Everybody came. As a result, you’d go into these clinics and the corridors would just be lined with people.

The IHS design guidelines dictated that you be within 10 percent of their square footage limitations. So what we ended up doing was reducing the square footage in the mechanical rooms. By selecting the right kind of systems and putting a lot of this equipment on the roof instead of on the floor, I ended up under their program on total square footage.

So what they allowed me to do—after many meetings and discussions—was to take that additional square footage and put it into circulation. We increased the widths of corridors and increased the size of waiting rooms. This was all an effort to get Indian healthcare environments compatible with private care.

Read more here.


Tribes in Western U.S. Use Water to Assert Sovereignty

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana stand to become the first tribes in the country to own a major hydroelectric dam. In Colorado, tribes are managing parts of hydro projects. All are examples of tribes regaining control of resources on their land. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Credit Marci KrivonenThe Kerr Dam in Northwest Montana was built in the 1930's on the Flathead Indian Reservation. It's been owned by non-tribal companies since it was built.

Credit Marci Krivonen
The Kerr Dam in Northwest Montana was built in the 1930’s on the Flathead Indian Reservation. It’s been owned by non-tribal companies since it was built.


July 15, 2013

Aspen Public Radio

In Colorado’s southwest, the Ute Mountain Ute tribe co-manages part of the Dolores Water Project. And, near Durango, the Animas/La Plata project is partially managed by the state’s two tribes. Ernest House directs the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.

“Not only do these water projects strengthen tribal sovereignty, but they also solidify a treaty obligation to the Utes here in Colorado. I think that by the tribe’s involvement in a lot of these projects, it provides a very important tool for future economic development, especially, specifically, water,” he says.

While the project is different, the goals are similar in Montana. When the tribes take over the dam there, they say, their sovereignty will be strengthened.

Jordan Thompson of Energy Keepers Inc. stands high above the Kerr Dam outside of Polson, Montana. The tribes in this area are preparing to take over the hydro project in 2015.

The massive Kerr Dam in Montana is near snowcapped mountains, close to ancient buffalo hunting grounds. Emerald green water violently sloshes over the lip of the dam and into the Flathead River. To say the area’s beautiful, is an understatement.

A 19th century treaty created the Flathead Indian Reservation, and later, white settlement brought agriculture. The massive dam was built on tribal land by a local power company in the 1930’s to quench the thirst of newly planted farms.

“This is a place of great spiritual significance for the tribes, and so when the dam was being built, they really resisted, they were trying to not have that dam built,” says Jordan Thompson.

Thompson’s with the tribally-run company that’s preparing to take over ownership of the dam. Despite tribal protests in the 30’s the dam was built and has been producing electricity ever since..

“There were just a bunch of people who built it, over 1200 people at one point. Ten tribal members were killed during the construction of it. It was built because the tribes were just powerless to do anything to stop it,” Thompson says.

Over the years, the dam supplied millions of dollars worth of power. The tribes received a small portion, as rent. Fish habitats were damaged, as the dam continued to generate electricity.

Now, the dam is about to change hands. A treaty signed in 1985 transfers ownership of the dam to the Salish and Kootenai.

“This is significant because it’s an assertion of the tribes sovereignty over the resources they’ve used for their entire existence,” says Sarah Bates with the University of Montana.

She studies water, natural resources and tribal lands. She says what the Salish and Kootenai are doing is a model for other tribes in the U.S.

“It’s happening around the country, this is something that tribes have the capacity to step up and play not just a stakeholder role, but actually an owner and management role. When they aren’t just participants in a process, but actually gain authority over those facilities, that’s a major step forward in asserting and realizing their sovereignty.”

Tribes in Oregon and New York state are now attempting to gain control of hydroelectric projects.

The 1000 foot boardwalk takes you to an overlook of the Kerr Dam, which stretches 540 feet across and 200 feet high.

The Kerr Dam is run by the company PPL Montana and the tribes are still negotiating the purchase price. PPL Montana values the dam at about $51 million, while the tribes say the number is closer to $16 million. Once the issue is resolved, tribal members plan to take over the dam in September of 2015.

This story is the result of an environmental fellowship put on by the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources.

Prehistoric art, Lewis and Clark Trail in path of federal power project

A Bonneville Power Administration transmission-tower construction project has been on hold for more than a year as a landowner tries to defend ancient Indian archaeological sites and stops on the Lewis and Clark Trail.

By Lynda V. Mapes

July 15, 2013

Seattle Times staff reporter


The BPA wants to finish a project near an ancient-village site on land that runs past this bridge and around the bend on the Columbia River.STEVE RINGMAN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The BPA wants to finish a project near an ancient-village site on land that runs past this bridge and around the bend on the Columbia River.

WISHRAM, Klickitat County —

All he was looking for was a little retirement property. But Robert Zornes, a Forks RV-park owner, wound up with quite a lot more.

“I kept seeing this property, 122 acres on more than a mile of the Columbia River for a quarter-million dollars, then it’s lowered to $100,000. And I am thinking, ‘This has to be a practical joke,’ ” Zornes said. So he bought it, right off a real-estate website, without ever talking to the property owner.

Then came the big surprise: He had purchased one of the most historically and archaeologically sensitive pieces of property in the state.

Home to a campsite and portage route on the Lewis and Clark Trail. A cave, with prehistoric Indian rock art. Indian burials, petroglyphs and story stones. And some of the last upland vestiges of an important Indian village near Celilo Falls, once one of the greatest Indian salmon fisheries, gathering grounds and trading areas in North America.

“I wanted a pig, a horse and a cow, or maybe a dog,” Zornes said. “I wasn’t looking for a historical property. I just wanted some place to retire.”

But since he purchased the property in 2011, Zornes often can be found in what he calls his war room: a study in his double-wide by the river, packed with historic photos and books — and documents from two years of frustrating correspondence with the Bonneville Power Administration.

2021400527The federal agency — which sells power from the dams on the Columbia and Lower Snake rivers — is in the middle of construction of a 28-mile, more than $200 million transmission line. Construction started right about when Zornes bought the property — and he soon received a letter from the agency informing him the BPA was about to cross the river and replace a tower near the cave. The new tower would be taller, wider and require blasting to construct — which he feared would destroy the cave and its ancient art.

And Zornes, as it turns out, is a history buff. As he put two and two together, he came to understand just how special the landscape he had purchased was. “BPA starts talking about a bulldozer and we kind of freaked out.”

BPA informed him in a 2012 letter that if he didn’t grant access across his property, the agency would dynamite an alternative access road, doing potentially more damage. The fight was on.

Zornes denied access across the easement on his property, saying it was granted to a different federal agency for another purpose, and since expired. He filed trespass claims. He invited the Yakama Indian Nation to revisit sacred lands on his property. He cold-called the lead preservation officer for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in Omaha and invited him to come have a look.

Zornes’ efforts so far have helped shut down construction of the project on his property at a cost of $2 million and counting. The agency contends its easement is valid, and that it can and will proceed with the project. Zornes is just as adamant in his opposition.

“You think the government is your friend,” Zornes said. “But they are more like the kid that beat you up for your lunch money.

“I’m not a senator, I am not a congressman. Here we are, two uneducated, lower- middle-class people in Forks,” he said, speaking of himself and his wife. “We have held them up more than a year. I think that’s significant.”

Bonneville officials say the agency has wanted to listen to all sides to reach agreements in the dispute, and stopped construction in order to do so.

“It’s a sensitive site, and we are trying to be extra careful,” said Lorri Bodi, BPA’s vice president for environment, fish and wildlife. She acknowledged there have been “bumps in the road.”

“We have discovered additional things, and certainly we have made some mistakes along the way,” she said. Those include a BPA contractor mistakenly bulldozing and destroying a prehistoric relic documented as a burial cairn on Yakama lands, despite promises to protect it.

Bodi contended the agency has made up for those mistakes and is working hard to minimize the damage by the project.

Preservation concerns

State records show a continuing pattern of frustration in getting the right answers from Bonneville, or any at all.

When the contractor bulldozed the cairn, the agency did not seem to appreciate the seriousness of the matter, state assistant attorney general Sandra Adix wrote Bonneville last summer.

Repeated attempts by the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to gain specific information about the agency’s construction and its ongoing and potential effect on archaeological resources “seem to have fallen into a black hole,” Adix wrote in other correspondence.

The agency also has not included the National Lewis and Clark Historic Trail as a full partner in the consultation process, said Dan Wiley, chief of stewardship. “We have gotten short shrift and have continuously tried to bring to the table the recognition that this a unique site, a special site, and it deserves protection from further negative impacts.

“I don’t know if it is too late or not. That is really up to BPA and whether or not they have real concern about cultural resources, and protection of cultural resources.”

Wiley would like to see the transmission line located miles to the east. As planned, it will be in view from Columbia Hills State Park, with its petroglyphs, as well as the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail, and from across the river at the Confluence Project art installation planned at Celilo Village by internationally known artist Maya Lin.

It also will further clutter views of the Columbia River Gorge, but BPA already has obtained a promise from the Friends of the Columbia River Gorge not to sue in return for a payment of $1.8 million. The BPA also in December paid a more than $2 million settlement to the Yakama Indian Nation to allow the project to continue despite impacts to its culturally sensitive lands.

Conflict still unsolved

At Bonneville, there’s not at present a willingness to consider another alignment, top officials say. Because there is already a utility line across the river, landing on a tower dating to the 1950s near the cave. That alignment, chosen through a lengthy public review process as part of an environmental-impact statement, is preferred by BPA.

“It’s much like repaving an old highway; are you better off moving it, or leaving in the same place?” said Larry Bekkedahl, senior vice president for transmission services at BPA. “In this case we have chosen using the existing line, because it had lesser impacts than trying to find other routes that would move the line on both sides and have a new river crossing, as well as time delays. So the bottom line is we would reuse the existing line and not relocate it to another location.”

But what Bonneville has in mind is nothing like the impact of what is already there today, historic preservationists say.

“This is not just repaving,” said Allyson Brooks, Washington’s State Historic Preservation Officer. “It is the equivalent of taking a two-lane road and making it a superhighway. It is not the same thing. Maybe in essence, but in size and impact, it is greater.

“One of the reasons these are public processes is so people get to say what the impact is, it is not a unilateral decision. That is democracy.”

2021400534Bonneville has committed to moving the tower 20 feet farther north of the cave with its prehistoric rock art. But it will be a bigger, higher tower — 243 feet tall, compared with the 190-foot-tall tower near the cave today, with 22 lines instead of three. The new tower also has a much larger and taller footing, and requires controlled blasting to set it in the basalt cliffs above the river.

BPA assures the blasting won’t destroy the cave. But that’s still under review — and the agency’s credibility has been dented by historic sites and archaeology overlooked and even destroyed as construction got under way.

“We are still working on damage assessment for the cairn, and the impacts for the Lewis and Clark Trail are unresolved,” Brooks said. “If we could lessen the direct and visual impacts, we would certainly prefer that happening. It’s been difficult. It feels rushed, and in the rush the time hasn’t been taken to really balance things the way they should be balanced.”

To Zornes, the fact that one transmission line is there today doesn’t justify building another, it argues for backing off a place that already has been altered by industrialization. First came the railroad. Then the inundation of Celilo Falls to build the Dalles Dam in 1957. Then the transmission towers built that exist today — to be superseded now by even larger towers, with more lines.

“Our preference is no new towers,” Zornes said. “Two wrongs don’t make a right. The first tower should not have ever been placed on this historic and culturally rich and highly scenic bluff.”

Bonneville has since written Wiley to state the agency doesn’t believe the trail merits listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which would afford it more protection — a decision blasted by Washington’s Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, and Johnson Meninick, Yakama Indian Nation cultural resources program manager.

The conflict remains unresolved.

“What is left is intact”

Wiley said it wasn’t until he came here in person that he understood just how significant this place is.

“You can only see so much from your desktop,” he said.

Once on the site, he walked the same sands that bedeviled Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery as they portaged around the roaring falls at Celilo, one of the greatest fisheries in the aboriginal world.

Just above on the cliffs is the very spot where William Clark likely stood to draw the famous Codex H map of what he called “the Great Falls of the Columbia” — Celilo Falls, with Indian lodges and fish-drying racks along the banks.

“It is a highly significant location for the two cultures of the Pacific Northwest and their intersection,” Wiley said. “What is left is intact. The palisades that are above the water are described in the journals. The walkway that Lewis and Clark took on the north bank, that is pretty much intact, and there is no other place on the planet that the events of Oct. 22 and 23 and 24, 1805, could have taken place.”

Just above Lewis and Clark’s portage route is the cave, used for tribal vision quests and other religious and spiritual rites for centuries untold. Inside, the light is soft, and drawn figures with outstretched arms keep an enigmatic vigil on the cool rock walls.

Through its narrow opening, the cave looks to a view not seen in all the centuries people have stood here: the transmission towers Bonne-­ ville already has built in its chosen alignment, just across the river.

STEVE RINGMAN / THE SEATTLE TIMESPrehistoric Indian art on a cave on Robert Zornes’ property.

Prehistoric Indian art on a cave on Robert Zornes’ property.

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or

Native American tribes’ lawsuit could decide who controls Senate in 2015

By Jordy Yager – 07/16/13

A high-profile lawsuit on the voting rights of Native Americans could help determine control of the Senate in the next Congress.

A group of 16 Native Americans, nine of whom are military veterans, is waging a protracted legal battle against Montana’s Democratic secretary of State and county administrators, arguing for improved access to voter registration sites.

The case will be significant for Democrats in 2014 as they vie to keep control of the upper chamber by holding retiring Sen. Max Baucus’s (D-Mont.) seat. Republicans need to pick up six seats to win back control of the Senate.

The litigation is moving forward at the same time as a recent Supreme Court decision that no longer requires a number of jurisdictions to get advance federal permission in order to make changes to their election laws.

The three Montana counties now being sued have historically lost Section 2 Voting Rights Act cases. However, for the state’s overwhelmingly poor and geographically isolated Native Americans — who vote predominantly for Democrats — the Montana fight is deeply personal. Tribal leaders say it is an issue of fundamental fairness.

Image from Think Progress

Image from Think Progress

An estimated 50,000 Native Americans are eligible to vote in Montana. Many of them live on reservations throughout the sprawling 550-mile-wide state, which means driving more than 100 miles for some to reach polling sites established long before Native Americans got the right to vote.

It’s the distance equivalent of voters in Washington, D.C., having to drive to Gettysburg, Pa. and back to complete their late registration forms or cast early in-person absentee ballots.

If the state allowed more voting stations, known as satellite offices, on reservations, more Native Americans would have the ability to vote by a factor of 250 percent, a group supporting the lawsuit argues.

This group, which is providing strategic and financial support to the plaintiffs, includes Four Directions, a nationally known voting rights organization, and Tom Rodgers, the Native American lobbyist who blew the whistle on former lobbyist Jack Abramoff for charging Native American tribes exorbitant fees on lobbying.

Together, they have spent about $335,000 waging the legal battle, which began in the months leading up to the 2012 election. They have also offered to pay the cost of establishing the satellite offices, which could run up to $8,000 apiece for each location.

The Department of Justice, Montana tribal leaders, the ACLU and the National Congress of American Indians have all backed the plaintiffs in the legal dispute.

The origin of the lawsuit began when Rodgers, a member of Montana’s Blackfeet tribe, received a phone call that U.S. Army Spc. Antonio Burnside, a fellow Blackfeet member whose tribal name was Many Hides, was killed last year in combat on Good Friday in Afghanistan.

In late April 2012, after raising the money to help celebrate the soldier’s life, Rodgers said a feeling of rage overcame him.

He noted that Native Americans have the highest percentage of military enlistees of any ethnic group.

“Some of the poorest of the poor can fight a war and die for you on a hellish moonscaped mountainside and then when they return home in a flag-draped coffin, you seek to diminish their native brothers’ and sisters’ ability to vote. Young dead soldiers do not speak. They leave us their deaths. It is us who must give them meaning by remembering them,” Rodgers said. “We got tired of the dark lies in rooms of white marble. Now the plaintiff warriors will take their faith in justice by acting with justice to other rooms of white marble: the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and Congress.”

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who won reelection last year, said that poverty and unemployment levels on reservations are higher than in the rest of the state, and that many Native Americans don’t have access to transportation or can’t take time off from work.

“Native Americans are about 6 percent of the population, so it’s absolutely significant,” said Tester.

“Everybody who’s entitled to vote, we ought to give them every opportunity to vote,” Tester said. “We shouldn’t be limiting participation, we should be encouraging it.”

The suit might have an impact beyond Montana as well. If it goes as far as the Supreme Court, major Native American populations in Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevada, California, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon and Alaska could see their voting rights greatly expanded or restricted.

Democrats are facing challenging elections in four of those states next year.

Native Americans have played a crucial role in electing Democratic senators, including Tester and Sens. Tim Johnson (S.D.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Al Franken (Minn.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Mark Begich (Alaska.). All have won elections by fewer than 4,000 votes.

But for now, Montana — where Democrats are scrambling to find a candidate following ex-Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s surprise decision not to run — is the central battleground.

Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch (D) says she supports the Native Americans’ demands, but that the lawsuit is misdirected.

At a video-recorded meeting with the tribes earlier this year, tensions between the two sides were palpable as they failed to negotiate a compromise after a nearly hour-long discussion.

“I care that the people at this table have equal access, and what is in my power as secretary of State to do, I can do,” said McCulloch. “What I do not have the authority over is establishing county clerk offices. That authority belongs to the county governing body, the county commissioners.

“We will support and assist any county whose governing body has made a decision to open a second county clerk election office that can offer services such as registering voters and issuing absentee ballots. You have my unwavering commitment to that.”

A spokeswoman for McCulloch, citing the ongoing litigation, declined to comment for this article.

The plaintiffs and tribal leaders rejected McCulloch’s remarks. They said Montana’s secretary of State should join the tribes by officially standing with the plaintiffs and leading the county commissioners to create the satellite offices.

J. Gerry Hebert, who worked on voting rights issues for more than 20 years in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, doesn’t agree with McCulloch’s assessment either, saying that this type of case falls directly within her office’s jurisdiction.

“The secretary of State is the chief election officer and as such has the overall responsibility to ensure that all the state laws are complied with,” said Hebert, now the executive director of the Campaign Legal Center. “And in this case, which is typically the case, a plaintiff will file a lawsuit and bring it against both local and state election officials, because it is both of their responsibilities.”

Although the issue has been in the local press for nearly a year, the Montana Democratic Party has not weighed in on the lawsuit, saying only that it supports greater access to polling sites and will continue aggressive “get out the vote” efforts.

“Increasing access to the ballot box on reservations and throughout Montana has always been a priority,” said Chris Saeger, a spokesman for the state’s party. “We would welcome any improvements that make it easier for Montanans to have their say in elections.”

“The Democratic Party of Montana has said we have done what we could,” Rodgers said. “But hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger, for the way things are, and courage, to make a difference.”

Carole Goldberg, a professor and vice chancellor at UCLA’s School of Law who has dealt extensively with Native American legal rights, said discrimination is widespread in many states with Native populations.

“There are persistent patterns where states have criminal jurisdiction on reservations and the counties that exercise this jurisdiction locate their facilities and services in a place convenient for the non-Native population and not the Native populations,” said Goldberg, who has donated to multiple Democratic candidates.

Barring a settlement, oral arguments are expected to begin this fall.

Tanks move in around Earth’s most threatened tribe

Brazil's military has moved in to stop illegal logging around the land of Earth's most threatened tribe.

Brazil’s military has moved in to stop illegal logging around the land of Earth’s most threatened tribe.
© Exército Brasileiro

Source: Survival International

Survival International has received reports that Brazil’s military has launched a major ground operation against illegal logging around the land of the Awá, Earth’s most threatened tribe.

Hundreds of soldiers, police officers and Environment Ministry special agents have flooded the area, backed up with tanks, helicopters and close to a hundred other vehicles, to halt the illegal deforestation which has already destroyed more than 30% of one of the Awá’s indigenous territories.

Since the operation reportedly started at the end of June, 2013, at least eight saw mills have been closed and other machinery has been confiscated and destroyed.

Little Butterfly, an Awá girl. The Awá have pleaded for all illegal invaders to be evicted from their forest.

Little Butterfly, an Awá girl. The Awá have pleaded for all illegal invaders to be evicted from their forest.
© Sarah Shenker/Survival


The operation comes at a critical time for the Awá, one of the last nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes in the Brazilian Amazon, who are at risk of extinction if the destruction of their forest is not stopped as a matter of urgency.

But while the operation is making it more difficult for loggers to enter Awá territory and remove the valuable timber, the forces have not moved onto the Awá’s land itself – where illegal logging is taking place at an alarming rate and where quick action is crucial.

Amiri Awá told Survival, ‘The invaders must be made to leave our forest. We don’t want our forest to disappear. The loggers have already destroyed many areas.’

Tanks, helicopters and close to a hundred vehicles have been deployed to protect the forest.

Tanks, helicopters and close to a hundred vehicles have been deployed to protect the forest.
© Maycon Alves


Tens of thousands of people worldwide, including many celebrities, have joined Survival International’s campaign urging the Brazilian government to send forces into the Awá’s territories to evict the illegal invaders, stop the destruction of the Awá’s forest, prosecute the illegal loggers and prevent them from re-entering the area.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Brazil has taken a promising first step towards saving the world’s most threatened tribe, and it’s thanks to the many thousands of Awá supporters worldwide. This is proof that public opinion can effect change. However, the battle is not yet won: the authorities must not stop until all illegal invaders are gone.’

Sacred object handed back to Hopi tribe after ‘shameful’ Paris auction

Source: Survival International

The katsina was handed over to Hopi chairman and religious leaders by lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber and Survival International's Jean Patrick Razon (no photography was allowed during the handover itself).© Survival

The katsina was handed over to Hopi chairman and religious leaders by lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber and Survival International’s Jean Patrick Razon (no photography was allowed during the handover itself).
© Survival

In a historic handover ceremony, an object sacred to the Hopi people has been returned to Hopi after dozens of katsinam (‘friends’) were sold at a Paris auction house in April 2013 despite repeated requests and litigation.

Representatives of tribal rights organization Survival International and lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber returned the katsina to Hopi.

The katsinam are of cultural and religious significance to the Hopi, who were vehemently opposed to the auction and asked the Paris auction house Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou to cancel the sale on the grounds that the objects are considered sacred to Hopi.

After the auction house ignored the Hopi’s request, attorney Pierre Servan-Schreiber of the firm Skadden Arps (Paris) filed legal papers on behalf of Survival International and the Hopi, asking for the sale of the katsinam to be halted until the lawfulness of the collection was established.

However the Paris Court rejected all attempts to stop the auction and the sale of dozens of sacred objects went ahead on April 12, 2013, in what Hopi tribal chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa called a ‘shameful saga’.

Mr. Shingoitewa added, ‘We are deeply saddened and disheartened by this ruling … It is sad to think that the French will allow the Hopi Tribe to suffer through the same cultural and religious thefts, denigrations and exploitations they experienced in the 1940s. Would there be outrage if Holocaust artifacts, Papal heirlooms or Quranic manuscripts were going up for sale … to the highest bidder? I think so.’

After the katsina handover, Hopi and the delegation exchanged gifts.

After the katsina handover, Hopi and the delegation exchanged gifts.
© Survival


M. Servan-Schreiber then bought one katsina at the auction to return it to the Hopi. He said, ‘It is my way of telling the Hopi that we only lost a battle and not the war. I am convinced that in the future, those who believe that not everything should be up for sale will prevail. In the meantime, the Hopi will not have lost everything since two of these sacred objects* have been saved from being sold.’

Hollywood actor Robert Redford had also pleaded for the auction to be halted. He said, ‘To auction these would be, in my opinion, a sacrilege – a criminal gesture that contains grave moral repercussions.’

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, said, ‘The sale of Hopi katsinam would never have happened in the USA – thankfully US law recognizes the importance of these ceremonial objects. It is a great shame that French law falls so far behind. We’re delighted that at least two of the katsinam have been saved, and can be returned to their rightful owners.’

A Village Invents a Language All Its Own

Linguist Carmel O'Shannessy, back left, with Gracie White Napaljarri, who is a Warlpiri speaker but children in her extended family speak both Warlpiri and Light Warlpiri. Photo: Noressa White via The New York Times

Linguist Carmel O’Shannessy, back left, with Gracie White Napaljarri, who is a Warlpiri speaker but children in her extended family speak both Warlpiri and Light Warlpiri. Photo: Noressa White via The New York Times


There are many dying languages in the world. But at least one has recently been born, created by children living in a remote village in northern Australia.

Carmel O’Shannessy, a linguist at the University of Michigan, has been studying the young people’s speech for more than a decade and has concluded that they speak neither a dialect nor the mixture of languages called a creole, but a new language with unique grammatical rules.

The language, called Warlpiri rampaku, or Light Warlpiri, is spoken only by people under 35 in Lajamanu, an isolated village of about 700 people in Australia’s Northern Territory. In all, about 350 people speak the language as their native tongue. Dr. O’Shannessy has published several studies of Light Warlpiri, the most recent in the June issue of Language.

“Many of the first speakers of this language are still alive,” said Mary Laughren, a research fellow in linguistics at the University of Queensland in Australia, who was not involved in the studies. One reason Dr. O’Shannessy’s research is so significant, she said, “is that she has been able to record and document a ‘new’ language in the very early period of its existence.”

Everyone in Lajamanu also speaks “strong” Warlpiri, an aboriginal language unrelated to English and shared with about 4,000 people in several Australian villages. Many also speak Kriol, an English-based creole developed in the late 19th century and widely spoken in northern Australia among aboriginal people of many different native languages.

Lajamanu parents are happy to have their children learn English for use in the wider world, but eager to preserve Warlpiri as the language of their culture.

Lajamanu’s isolation may have something to do with the creation of a new way of speaking. The village is about 550 miles south of Darwin, and the nearest commercial center is Katherine, about 340 miles north. There are no completely paved roads.

An airplane, one of seven owned by Lajamanu Air, a community-managed airline, lands on the village’s dirt airstrip twice a week carrying mail from Katherine, and once a week a truck brings food and supplies sold in the village’s only store. A diesel generator and a solar energy plant supply electricity.

The village was established by the Australian government in 1948, without the consent of the people who would inhabit it. The native affairs branch of the federal government, concerned about overcrowding and drought in Yuendumu, forcibly removed 550 people from there to what would become Lajamanu. At least twice, the group walked all the way back to Yuendumu, only to be retransported when they arrived.

Contact with English is quite recent. “These people were hunters and gatherers, roaming over a territory,” said Dr. O’Shannessy. “But then along came white people, cattle stations, mines, and so on. People were kind of forced to stop hunting and gathering.”

By the 1970s, villagers had resigned themselves to their new home, and the Lajamanu Council had been set up as a self-governing community authority, the first in the Northern Territory. In the 2006 census, almost half the population was under 20, and the Australian government estimates that by 2026 the number of indigenous people 15 to 64 will increase to 650 from about 440 today.

Dr. O’Shannessy, who started investigating the language in 2002, spends three to eight weeks a year in Lajamanu. She speaks and understands both Warlpiri and Light Warlpiri, but is not fluent.

People in Lajamanu often engage in what linguists call code-switching, mixing languages together or changing from one to another as they speak. And many words in Light Warlpiri are derived from English or Kriol.

But Light Warlpiri is not simply a combination of words from different languages. Peter Bakker, an associate professor of linguistics at Aarhus University in Denmark who has published widely on language development, says Light Warlpiri cannot be a pidgin, because a pidgin has no native speakers. Nor can it be a creole, because a creole is a new language that combines two separate tongues.

“These young people have developed something entirely new,” he said. “Light Warlpiri is clearly a mother tongue.”

Dr. O’Shannessy offers this example, spoken by a 4-year-old: Nganimpa-ng gen wi-m si-m worm mai aus-ria. (We also saw worms at my house.)

It is easy enough to see several nouns derived from English. But the -ria ending on “aus” (house) means “in” or “at,” and it comes from Warlpiri. The -m ending on the verb “si” (see) indicates that the event is either happening now or has already happened, a “present or past but not future” tense that does not exist in English or Warlpiri. This is a way of talking so different from either Walpiri or Kriol that it constitutes a new language.

The development of the language, Dr. O’Shannessy says, was a two-step process. It began with parents using baby talk with their children in a combination of the three languages. But then the children took that language as their native tongue by adding radical innovations to the syntax, especially in the use of verb structures, that are not present in any of the source languages.

Why a new language developed at this time and in this place is not entirely clear. It was not a case of people needing to communicate when they have no common language, a situation that can give rise to pidgin or creole.

Dr. Bakker says that new languages are discovered from time to time, but until now no one has been there at the beginning to see a language develop from children’s speech.

Dr. O’Shannessy suggests that subtle forces may be at work. “I think that identity plays a role,” she said. “After children created the new system, it has since become a marker of their identity as being young Warlpiri from the Lajamanu Community.”

The language is now so well established among young people that there is some question about the survival of strong Warlpiri. “How long the kids will keep multilingualism, I don’t know,” Dr. O’Shannessy said. “The elders would like to preserve Warlpiri, but I’m not sure it will be. Light Warlpiri seems quite robust.”

Why climate change has Darwin down for the count

Chris Mooney, Grist

Brian Gratwicke

Brian Gratwicke

If you live near water in the American Southeast, you may have run across the green tree frog – or at least heard the species as it croaks (in a sound that kind of resembles rapid fire quacking). It’s a small frog that’s often found in pet stores. It’s the state amphibian of Louisiana and Georgia. And it’s one of many species of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and even mammals that may be incapable of evolving fast enough to keep up with what global warming has in store.

That’s the upshot of a new study in the journal Ecology Letters, whose authors used a vast body of data on 540 separate species’ current climatic “niches,” and their evolutionary histories of adapting to different conditions, to determine whether they can evolve fast enough to keep up with the changing climate. More specifically, the study examined “climatic niche evolution,” or how fast organisms have adapted to changing temperature and precipitation conditions in their habitats over time.

Under normal circumstances, the answer is very slowly. On average, the study found that animals adapted to temperature changes at a rate of less than 1.8 degrees F per million years. By contrast, global warming is expected to raise temperatures on the order of 7.2 degrees F in the next 100 years.

“It seems like climate change is too fast, relative to how quickly the climatic niches of species typically evolve,” explains evolutionary biologist John Wiens of the University of Arizona in Tucson, who conducted the research along with a colleague at Yale University.

Take the green tree frog. According to data provided by Wiens, the annual mean temperature in the species’ range across the U.S. Southeast is about 66 degrees F. For its closely related “sister” species the barking tree frog, meanwhile, it’s 65.3 degrees. The two species diverged some 13.4 million years ago, and their common ancestor is estimated to have lived in mean climatic conditions somewhere in between these two numbers, at 65.5 degrees.

The rate of evolutionary change in response to temperatures for these frogs is therefore extremely slow — “about 100,000 to 500,000 times slower than the expected rate of climate change within the range of the species from 2010 to 2100,” says Wiens.

Even if you take a species that evolved much more rapidly in relation to changing temperatures, the conclusion remains the same. The species still didn’t change fast enough in the past for scientists to think that it can evolve to keep up with global warming in the future.

An example of a faster-evolving species would be the Northern banded newt, which lives at relatively high altitudes in a range that spans from Russia to Turkey. Annual mean temperatures in its habitat are about 50.4 degrees F; but for a closely related species, the Southern banded newt, the average temperature is vastly different — 65.7 degrees. The two species’ common ancestor is estimated to have lived only 350,000 years ago, amid mean temperatures of about 59.5 degrees. Adaptation to new climatic conditions among these newts thus happened much faster than among tree frogs — “but still about 1,600 to 4,700 times slower” than the kind of changes we expect from global warming, according to Wiens.

In the new paper, Wiens and his coauthor apply a similar analysis to several hundred other species, ranging from cranes to crocodiles and from hawks to turtles. And none adjusted to temperatures in the evolutionary past at anything like the rate at which temperature change is now coming.

This does not mean that each and every species will go extinct. Some may shift their ranges to keep up with favorable temperatures. Some may perish in certain locales but not others. And some may find a means of coping in a changed environment. Just because these species have never experienced what climate change is about to throw at them doesn’t prove that they’re incapable of surviving it.

Nonetheless, the new research as a whole validates a striking statement made recently by the renowned climate scientist Michael Mann of Penn State University. At a Climate Desk Live event in May, Mann remarked that there is “no evidence” from the planet’s past to suggest that life can adapt to changes as rapid as the ones we’ve now set in motion.

Wiens’ data add an exclamation point to Mann’s statement. And it also raises an unavoidable question: What is going to happen to the species responsible for all of this, namely, humans?

“Humans will be fine,” says Wiens, “because we have things like clothes and air conditioning.”