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Returning to the Oceti Sakowin Tipi in Winter #NativeJournalism #StandingRock #NoDAPL

So, I am heading back to Standing Rock next week—and bringing my husband and son, too! And yes, I'm crowdsourcing my work there. Please help in any way you can either by donating or sharing. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated so far!

Here is a link to the campaign: Fund Native Journalism! #DAPL #StandingRock

The latest update on the campaign with photos from my last visit:

It was a sunny day in October when we set up the tipi at my tribe's camp, the Ihanktonwan (Yankton Sioux) in the Oceti Sakowin camp. I had asked them what they needed and they told me tipi poles. They had a cover, but no poles. Driving through the camp, I spotted an entire set of tipi poles lying next to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's camp. When I asked if I could purchase them, they invited me to drink coffee and eat stew with them and we talked about all sorts of things for a couple of hours. Finally, they decided it was time and four of the men loaded the poles up on a flatbed trailer and drove them over to the Yankton/Lower Brule camp. There, the Lower Brule chairman, Lewis Grassrope helped us tie the poles together.

It was a good day to put up a tipi, sunny and beautiful, but this week, seeing the snow that has blanketed the camp, I often wonder now how the tipi is doing.

When the cover went on I was surprised—I hadn't realized it was painted with the seven council fires. The sight of those seven fires blazing, the very image of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) that we all had gathered to see reborn from all our suffering this past 160 years. As we prayed over the prayer flags, I told a family story, an Ihanktowan story, from the time just before the Americans came. It's about a boy named Matowi (Red Bear) and a horse that could not be tamed and the last visit of the White Buffalo Calf to our people. My Lala had told it to me growing up. When he would finish telling it he would tell us that it was our family's duty to tell the story to the people, so they would not lose hope and would be able to make it through this long winter of our people. As I told the story, I hoped it would do what he said it would, and help our Dakota people today make it through this literal winter, the first in a long time we have camped together as one Oyate (nation).

I thank you all for your donations in helping me return to see this tipi. I look forward to returning next week with my son, Joneya Matoska (White Bear)—who at 13 years old is about the age the boy-hero Matowi was in the story when he did his miraculous deeds. Pidamaya ye (thank you) to all of you for helping to make this happen for myself and for all of the Oceti Sakowin.

Photos I took from the tipi-raising at the Ihanktonwan camp:
The poles being loaded at the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's camp

Bringing in the poles.
The Yankton Sioux Tribe camp laying out the canvas cover.
Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Chairman Lewis Grassrope directs us.
Tying the poles tight.

Tipi poles converging.

Last tipi pole
The Seven Council Fires on the canvas.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe flag!

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Together We Rise — #NoDAPL and Expanding the Hoop

Yankton Sioux Tribe camp with 7 Council Fires Tipi (at Oceti Sakowin camp) photo by J. Keeler

As I watched the water protectors charge up the hill yesterday, heading up to protect the graves of the two Lakota grandmothers buried on that hill, former owners of Cannonball Ranch--recently sold by a white rancher to the Dakota Access Pipeline--a pipeline which will plow through their bodies and upon which the heavily armed police stood waiting for these souls before them ready for them with giant bottles of mace and other weaponry, I thought, what drives these amazing people up that hill?

Not all of them are from Standing Rock, or even Native, yet there is still that desire to charge up that hill, to stop desecration in the name of profit. And it made me think, we are still Dakota and alive and perhaps the hoop is expanding. Perhaps something has shifted in the balance of who has won the West.

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On "More Important Things" and #NotYourMascot and #NoDAPL

Andre Cramblit, EONM member protesting at a Washington NFL game in Santa Clara, CA in 2014.

During my Native America Calling pre-interview (I was on the show this week talking about Cleveland at the World Series) the host asked me about criticism that EONM's success with our hashtag #NotYourMascot took away from other "more important" movements.

#NotYourMascot trending nationally during 2014 Super Bowl
I disagreed and pointed out that the fight against Native mascotry helped grow the networks (connections with each other, sophisticated use of social media, connections built with media/reporters) that are undergirding the fight against DAPL. And we were able to achieve success (sadly, #NotYourMascot is still the ONLY Native hashtag to trend nationally) because we were affecting something Americans wore on their heads (sports team caps) — something that affects them personally. I know it is a sorry thing to say that concern about Native issues has to start out of self-interest, but that is my observation. And now, we are capitalizing on those connections that were built.

In light of that, I would like to sing the praises of EONM core members of our strategy team who are out there fighting the #NoDAPL fight:

Yolonda BlueHorse protesting at the Dallas-Washington NFL game in Dallas

Yolonda BlueHorse​ (Lakota) in Texas is working with Natives there to keep the #NoDAPL issue in front of Energy Transfer Partner CEO Kelcy Warren's face in his hometown. He agreed to meet with them after they cornered him at a public meeting and abstained from a Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner vote on a pipeline because of protests.

Yolonda helping coordinate protests at DAPL owner's Dallas headquarters

Desiree Kane at Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota

And Desiree Kane​ (Miwok), who has been living continuously at the camp since July doing the thankless volunteer work that so many are doing who are not in front of the cameras but that is absolutely necessary to make the Oceti Sakowin camp run. Please read her recent piece, "The Standing Rock Victory You Didn’t Hear About" in Yes! Magazine that gives a vision of hope in the midst of all this suffering our people have endured.

Nicky Parkhurst directing EONM's 2015 Super Bowl protest in Phoenix

And Nicky Parkhurst (Diné/Lakota) whose mom's family is from Cannonball and who is fundraising to help her community deal with the fallout of the assaults by the state of North Dakota. Please support her Gofundme!

Native people in the Southwest had strong feelings about being mascotted
Yes, there was a police presence

Nicky's husband supporting his wife

Morning Star (on left) at prayer circle before Washington NFL team protest
And Morning Star Gali​ (Pit River) who is also living at the camp and working hard to revise Executive Order 13007 that provides cultural access and protections for our people. This revision will ensure protection for all threatened sacred sites located on Federally managed lands. Here is a link to the proposal. Please advocate for it!

Morning Star (in skirt) marching outside stadium of Washington-49ers game 
All of these women have been central to the work of EONM. They have stuck by me when others have not. I admire them tremendously. I know they don't want to be singled out — they prefer to do the work that needs to be done and not be on camera.That is our people's way, after all. But they are amazing.

Morning Star's mom demonstrating what a real RedSk*n is to Washington fans

Trolls often chide us that we should work on the "more important issues" and we always say we do it all: #Simultaneously. It's not chance that these women, central to EONM, are also on the frontlines of #NoDAPL. And look at the face of Kelcy Warren, yet another billionaire these amazing Native women have helped put in the hot seat. Priceless.

Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren under pressure

Hechetu Ye (Dakota for this is the truth)

PS: Here is my latest article at TeleSUR English about Standing Rock which is my way of contributing!
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Preserving Indigenous Cultures and Indigenous Spaces- Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for Bears Ears

Please support the Edge of Morning Kickstarter here:

What is the value of culture versus the resources that can be exploited from the land? This is at heart the question raised when Indigenous peoples lay claim to the land because of their cultural connection to it--often in defiance of corporate and settler colonial desires to fully exploit the resources of that land. What is the best use of the land by human beings? Is it the cultural heritage of the Indigenous people or is it the successful exploitation of the oil, coal, water, etc. to create wealth?

This is at heart the question posed by the unique proposal brought forward by five Native American nations, Indigenous grassroots community members and environmentalists. What value does the past hold? Does it matter that antiquities and ancient sites be undisturbed? Is there more value in mining and the right to ride ATV’s over thousands of archaeological sites?

Jonah Yellowman, Utah Diné Bikeyah
“We're here to look after it, we're here to preserve it. When our medicine people, when they go to get something for a to do a ceremony they go there and either talk to the plant or whatever they're going to use, either they're going to cut it, they always put corn pollen there, they put it back together. Wherever they dig around, they smooth it out. Leave it like the way it is they walk away from it. We don't just dig it out and leave a big hole. We don't do that. So that's how we are as Native American Indian people.We are here to take care of it. If you take care of it and look after it--it's going to take care of you. You're going to be healed from it. It's going to heal the land, too.”
Jonah Yellowman, Diné, Utah Dine Bikeyah, spiritual advisor

And not only are 100,000 archaeological sites endangered, but so is Navajo (Diné) culture. The Navajo Nation is one of the largest Native Nations within the United States. Its landbase is the size of Ireland; it has 350,000 members--a population equal to that of Iceland; it is also larger than more than 20 member states of the United Nations. Over 125,000 Navajos speak their language fluently--the most of any Indigenous language in the United States. However, the culture depends on isolated communities like those found in San Juan County, Utah to continue to survive.

Navajo Community members at Bears Ears

Traditional Navajo communities and their elders have borne the brunt of energy development in the Southwest since World War II when the Navajo Nation’s uranium resources were used to win the war. To this day there are hundreds of open uranium mines that have not been cleaned up, which poison the water and health of the  people. At Black Mesa, coal strip mining has led to the forced removal of thousands of more traditional Navajo. Many families were “relocated” to the Puerco River, the site of the largest uranium spill in U.S. history. The coal is transported by slurrying a process draining precious  drinking water from the Navajo-Hopi aquifer--the only slurry line in North America. The Public Lands Initiative presented by Rep. Bishop (R-Utah) in congress this week, will open up more Navajo communities to be the victimized by mining.

Putting a Price on Cultural Exchange

And what value do intact culturally-intact Navajo communities provide to America? One need only look at American history to see the huge impact that cultural exchanges between American colonists and intact Indigenous nations like the once powerful Iroquois Confederacy gave to the world.

Modern Democracy--the product of cultural exchange

It has been well-documented that it was the Iroquois that urged the 13 colonies to unite like the 6 nations of their confederacy had done to bring peace and stability to the region. The Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) was also a living example the colonists could see first hand of a working democratic government.

Women’s Rights

It is no accident that the first women’s rights conference was held in Seneca Falls, New York--adjacent to a Seneca village. The Seneca were one of the 6 nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. White women observed daily the greater rights Iroquois women enjoyed. At a time when American women were legally dead, the Iroquois Confederacy, which was matrilineal and ultimate power over the leadership was held by clan mothers, was a vision of another world for European American women. The exchange gave them the courage to challenge thousands of years of patriarchy that dehumanized women. In their speeches, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott exclaimed that they wanted the rights they saw Seneca women had.

So what is the value of such exchanges with Indigenous cultures? Cultures that contain ideas long lost in the rest of the world? As seen by these two examples, the exchange produced ideas that have made lives better for literally billions of people in the world.

What cultural ideas exist in traditional Navajo communities? The land contains not only beauty, history, and energy resources, but the cultural resources that represent human intelligence and the source of ideas that make life better in ways we cannot predict today.

In light of this, the Edge of Morning looks at the work of Native Americans to fight for their cultural places and spaces both at the grassroots level at Bears Ears (Origin Stories - Interviews with Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition organizers) and by Navajo activists and thinkers across the Navajo Nation (For this Land, For the Diné Bikéyah – The People’s Land - Navajo Activists and Academia Speak for Bears Ears), but across the United States (“In Our Usual and Accustomed Places” - Indigenous leaders on Bears Ears and the Fight for Cultural Preservation and Access to Public Lands in the United States).

The fight for our traditional communities and cultural access to our traditional homelands and sacred sites is a monumental effort being conducted by Indigenous communities in a variety of ways. Bears Ears is unique and promising by being such a unified effort by several different Indigenous Nations. It is also unique in the creation of a national monument proposal that represents an unusual degree of collaboration with Indigenous communities.

National Monuments are meant to celebrate the beauty and richness of the our American experience--and nothing encapsulates that more than the cultural exchange with Indigenous people and the gifts that exchange has given to the world.

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Poetically Fighting for Sacred Sites and National Monuments

I was happy when my copy of National Monuments by Ojibway poet Heid E. Erdrich came in the mail! The book is perhaps best known for her awesomely comic poems about Kennewick Man dating online, but I was interested in how she handled the issue of sacred cultural sites and how little power Native people have to protect these sites--and how little understood the issue is by the powers that be.

The fight for public lands has been in the news all year since the Bundy's took over Malheur in January and taken a greater urgency on Monday as the GOP voted to include language in it's 2016 Platform to demand Congress "return" federal lands to states immediately.

In contrast, President Obama has been using his executive powers under the Antiquities Act to preserve more and more public land as National Monuments. On Saturday, July 16th, Secretary Jewell will be holding a public meeting in Bluff, Utah on the proposed Bears Ears National Monument, proposed by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Please attend if you can and share any information coming out of the meeting to your networks via social media. The area of Bears Ears in southeastern Utah, containing more than 100,000 cultural sites, is the most significant unprotected cultural and archaeological area in the US, and sacred ground to the tribes proposing and supporting this national monument.

Also contribute if you can and/or share the Bears Ears anthology "Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears" Kickstarter to help bring greater awareness of Native voices on the issue of preservation of cultural sites.

With that in mind, the two poems that caught my eye--and will be included in the Edge of Morning (thank you Heid!)--are “Guidelines for the Treatment of Sacred Objects” and "The Theft Outright" (shared below).

The Theft Outright

By Heid E. Erdrich

            after Frost

We were the land's before we were.

Or the land was ours before you were a land.
Or this land was our land, it was not your land.

We were the land before we were people,
loamy roamers rising, so the stories go,
or formed of clay, spit into with breath reeking soul—

What's America, but the legend of Rock 'n' Roll?

Red rocks, blood clots bearing boys, blood sands
swimming being from women's hands, we originate,
originally, spontaneous as hemorrhage.

Un-possessing of what we still are possessed by,
possessed by what we now no more possess.

We were the land before we were people,
dreamy sunbeams where sun don't shine, so the stories go,
or pulled up a hole, clawing past ants and roots—

Dineh in documentaries scoff DNA evidence off.
They landed late, but canyons spoke them home.
Nomadic Turkish horse tribes they don't know.

What's America, but the legend of Stop 'n' Go?

Could be cousins, left on the land bridge,
contrary to popular belief, that was a two-way toll.
In any case we'd claim them, give them some place to stay.

Such as we were we gave most things outright
(the deed of the theft was many deeds and leases and claim stakes
and tenure disputes and moved plat markers stolen still today . . .)

We were the land before we were a people,
earthdivers, her darling mudpuppies, so the stories go,
or emerging, fully forming from flesh of earth—

The land, not the least vaguely, realizing in all four directions,
still storied, art-filled, fully enhanced.
Such as she is, such as she wills us to become.

Source: National Monuments (Michigan State University Press, 2008)
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Oregon's Poet Laureate is Hapa Navajo: Elizabeth Woody

Elizabeth Woody (Courtesy Oregon Cultural Trust)

I need poetry to live sometimes. Yesterday, I went to Powell's bookstore hungry for it and found three books of poetry that I could not live without. 

One was Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry, the second was Luci Tapahonso's Blue Horses Rush In and the third was by my own state's poet laureate, Elizabeth Woody, Seven Hands, Seven Hearts.

I've been fortunate to meet her a few times since I've lived here in Oregon and hear her read. Like me, she's half Navajo (which I like to call Hapa Navajo) and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She is enrolled in the Warm Springs Tribe here in Oregon (her other half). I admit, reading her work I was immediately drawn to the poems about her Navajo-side. And yet, when I first moved to the Southwest (which is ostensibly my homeland) after college, the lack of water (the Rio Grande was not grand--just a trickle in the desert) was a shock to me and every night, I had intense dreams of salmon swimming in the river I grew up on, the Columbia or as she describes it in her book Chewana. The salmon of my dreams were always showing themselves in close-up with their multi-colored scales glinting as they crowded together into a writhing mass. I was experienced in my dreams fully the fear I had of living in a world without water--an environment so stark that my husband and I used to play a game of chasing rainclouds in our car out in the open desert just outside of Albuquerque. We'd park our car under a particularly dark one overhead and wait for the rain to fall on us. We'd laugh when only a few thick sandy drops would reach us as the rest evaporated in the sky above us never reaching the ground. 

So I connected deeply with her poem "In Memory of Crossing the Columbia" and I'd like to share it here:

In Memory of Crossing the Columbia
For Charlotte Edwards Pitt and Charlotte Agnes Pitt

My board and blanket were Navajo,
but my bed is inside the river.
In the beads of remembrance,
I am her body in my Father's hands.
She gave me her eyes
and the warmth of basalt.
The vertebrae of her back,
my breastplate, the sturdy
belly of mountainside.

"Pahtu," he whispered in her language.
She is the mountain of change.
She is the mountain of women 
who have lain as volcanoes 
before men.

Red, as the women much loved,
she twisted like silvery Chinook
beyond his reach.

Dancing the Woman-Salmon dance,
there is not much time to waste.

This next poem is named after the Navajo city of Chinle. My husband loved the phrase "a River woman walking in dust." This poem captures so well the experience of having ties to two very different lands and to two very different Native nations.

Chinle Summer

Loneliness for me is being the daughter of two landscapes,
distant from the horizon circling me.
The red earth completely round.
The sky a deep bowl of turquoise overhead.
Mother and father. Loneliness
rising up like thunderheads. The rain pours over
the smooth rocks into the canyon that is familiar.

This is the road that leads to my father's home.
After twenty years I stand on the threshold of his mother's hogan.
Grandmother sits in the cool dark, out of the light 
from the door and smoke hole. She talks softly
in the Diné language.

Talking to me as I grew in her warmth, my mother
lowered herself in this canyon, barefoot and unafraid.
She walked miles in high heels to church by this road
that runs alongside Canyon de Chelly.
She was a river woman walking in dust.

The Recumbent Woman whispers inside different languages.
I am one story. Beauty walked South and then North again.
Beauty sparked physical creation.

A strong and wild will draws up the land into the body.
My journey circles back, unraveling, unmaking itself
like the magnificent loom work of my grandmother's center.
My grandfather once told me, "Lizzy, I was busy singing
over were here. So I came home to see you."
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Washington Post 'Redskins' Poll and Who is Native American?

Native family at an anti-Redsk*ns protestors in Minneapolis in 2014--Washington Post poll claims they and the 5,000 others Natives at this protest were an aberration in their community.
I have been pushing for more of a political definition of Native American identity in line with nationality for several years now. I think it is the fuzziness of Native American identity that makes it so easy to assume by others. It also causes a great deal of distress to Native youth. The fact is, any American can walk up to a Native person and tell them they are “not Native enough” to suit them. It happens all the time and this is traumatizing to youth and adults.

This identity “fuzziness” was purposefully done and is the result of hundreds of years of policy carried out by both colonial and U.S. governments to erase the political existence of Native American nations. These Indigenous nations because they have claims to the land and resources constitute a very real threat to the political integrity of the United States and any settler colonial state. So our true identity as pre-existing and persisting nations of North America is clouded as a matter of national policy.

This policy is evident in the denial of infrastructure to our remaining sovereign lands which drives Native families from their homelands to seek economic and educational opportunity. It can also be seen in the wholesale remove of Native youth from their families, both in the boarding school years and now, under the guise of foster care and adoption. The mass removal of children from an ethnic group constitutes an act of genocide under the Geneva Convention.

The pollsters could have also used the definition the United Nations and the International Labour Organization have outlined a few characteristics of an Indigenous person:

● Descended from the pre-colonial/pre-invasion inhabitants of a region.
● Maintain a close tie to land and both cultural and economic practices.
● Suffer from economic and political marginalization as a minority group.
● A group is considered Indigenous if it defines itself that way.

Native protestors at a Washington Redsk*ns game in Santa Clara, California
The survey would also have had to provide proper line of questioning to be certain that the respondents’ understanding of Native American identity is what the pollsters mean. This was not done and the Post editor who answered our questions before The Nation article came out stated that he did not believe anyone would lie about their identity, so they certainly did not structure the survey for that contingency.

I think this whole poll brings to light very clearly the nature of misrepresentation of Native people in the United States. It also shows how far apart we are that '9 out of 10’ would seem remotely credible to the Washington Post staff.

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On Ethics in the Newsroom & the Washington Post 'Redsk*ns' Poll

My article came out on Wednesday in The Nation about the poll the Washington Post released last week which claimed that out of 28,000 folks they called a little over 450 said they were "not bothered" by the ethnic slur 'Redskins.' These folks claimed to be Native, although the Post failed to verify this.

Before my article was published The Washington Post responded to emailed questions about its poll. I found the Post's responses disappointing in the extreme and responded in an email point by point--however, there was not enough room for my responses in The Nation article, so I am sharing it here.

From: Jacqueline Keeler
Date: May 24, 2016 at 6:46:45 PM PDT
To: "Clement, Scott" <>
Cc: Dave Z.
Subject: Re: Questions 
Thanks Scott, I appreciate your answers. The U.S. Census does allow self-reporting of Native American identity but its own population estimates of Native Americans are 29% lower. Should 29% be struck from the total? 
Misreporting, whether purposefully or not, is very common when it comes to Native American ancestry. It is not always mean-spirited or malicious but the result of the history of this country, genocide and the romanticization of Native American people that has occurred. See how Elizabeth Warren has been lambasted for proudly believing a family story of Cherokee ancestry that it turned out had no basis in fact. 
Also, you did not check to see what respondents understood “enrollment” to mean. Their understanding of the terms provided is essential to the value of their answers. They may have assumptions that are not what you expect. 
Also, your number of respondents is too small to allow for oversampling or undersampling by age or region. 
Fully 50% of the Native American population is under the age of 29. Native Americans have the lowest life expectancy—Native American men in particular. How can you account for, even with weighting, fully 54% of the respondents being over the age of 50?
As only 76 respondents were under the age of 29 and 274 were over 50 years old, how many more phone calls would you need to make to achieve a significant number of respondents under 29? I understand 28,000 calls were made to achieve the 76. Social scientists I spoke to felt that 1,500 respondents would provide a better picture. Since it took 28,000 calls to receive 504 self-reported Native Americans, wouldn’t that require 90,000 or more phone calls? And even then, that would only at this rate provide you with 228 respondents under the age of 29. Doesn’t it seem like there are more effective ways to reach the Native American community? 
Also, 35% of the respondents were from the South--an area with few Native Americans since most of the tribes were force marched out of the region during the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. This seems like a gross oversampling. And the percentage of college graduates (25%) does not match that of the Native American population—9%. It’s 150% more. 
Professor Fenelon’s study was a qualitative one and not a quantitive one, this is true. But social scientists have developed accepted mathematical tools to analyze the data. His work was presented at the American Sociological Association and qualitative surveying is regarded as acceptable in social science as is quantitative methods like phone calling. Perhaps more so in this case because with your survey you have no idea whether the respondents are truly Native or not. Also, the 12 you chose to feature in your paper, was a qualitative sampling of data obtained quantitatively. This is not acceptable social science practice without clearly stating the methodology for selecting these 12 and giving real reason why to provide more weight to their opinions. 
Your response to NAJA’s statement, which clearly cites the APA resolution still ignores the harm mascotting at this level causes to Native Americans and to all Americans (as recent studies have shown-University of Buffalo 2015) and is to abrogate a trust to minimize harm to your readers in your coverage. An example of this care can be seen in the coverage of individual suicides. Studies show that such coverage causes a copycat effect and so most newspapers do not cover suicides individually to protect their readership. Likewise, the science clearly demonstrates the negative, cumulative effect of mascotting on the Native American population. A Stanford study also found that Native Americans who claimed to be okay with mascotting actually suffered measurably greater loss of self-esteem after being exposed to Native American mascots than those that said they were not okay with such mascots—the exact opposite of the inference you have drawn from your survey. How can you ignore findings that directly negate the very meaning of your findings? 

On May 24, 2016, at 6:07 PM, Clement, Scott <> wrote: 
Dave and Jacqueline, 
Below are our responses to your questions. 
1) Why no verification of tribal enrollment, just taking people at their word that they are Native American?
The survey of Native Americans was conducted as part of five months of ongoing weekly surveys of U.S. adults conducted on cellular and landline phones by Social Science Research Solutions, a firm in Media, Pa. During those surveys, which interviewed more than 25,000 adults overall, respondents were asked what race they consider themselves. The 504 individuals who identified as Native American were immediately asked our poll’s questions about tribal enrollment, the Washington Redskins’ team name and Native American imagery in sports. 
Self-identification is a survey technique that is accepted, common and time-tested in measuring personal attributes -- in political polls as well as official surveys covering a wide range of other issues. The Census Bureau uses self-identification to measure race, and this method is also used in surveys reporting on health and other characteristics of the Native American population. 
The Post survey used self-identification as a starting point for compelling methodological reasons. This approach made it possible to compare the demographic makeup of the survey’s sample with Census Bureau statistics, allowing us to identify and correct for differences, which is a best practice in the survey industry (Described here). Using self-identification was also important to conducting a systematic national sample of the population, 95 percent of which can be reached through conventional or cellular telephones. 
To analyze whether attitudes differed among relevant subgroups, the Post poll asked respondents whether they were members of a tribe and, if so, which one. It also collected information on whether respondents lived on or near reservations. As it turned out, there was little variation in the responses to questions about the Redskins’ team name given by those who said they were enrolled in a tribe and those who said they were not. Similarly, there was little variation in responses from those who lived on or near reservations and those who did not.
We see little reason to suspect respondents would intentionally misreport their racial identity or tribal status to a confidential survey. The overall poll results suggest respondents understood a distinction between racial identification and tribal membership, given that a majority of self-identified Native Americans said they were not enrolled. The substantive questions about the team’s name came at the end of polls on other subjects and after survey respondents already had self-identified, leaving no motive (or even opportunity) for individuals to self-identify as Native American when they learned that the questions would center on the team’s name.
2) Given how young the Native American community is, why speak to no one under 18? 
Our national surveys typically interview the adult population both for its relevance to voting and political participation and practical difficulties in reaching respondents who are younger than that age (i.e. ethical considerations about obtaining parental permission to participate). 
[My Response: This lack of representation should have been noted, as 50% of Native Americans are under the age of 29 and the data qualifed with that statement. Qualitative studies of Native American youth's feelings on the subject are available and could have been used to balance out the conclusions. In my article I note the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education report which contains testimony by hundreds of Native youth about the difficulties they face in school--including their feelings about being mascotted.  2,000 American high schools still mascot Native Americans.]
3) Why we're only 12% from mountain region where 18 out of 20 most populated Native reservations live?
The unweighted percentages of respondents by region are a function of the share of respondents who identified their race as Native American. Because of the geographic concentration of Native Americans in certain regions, the Post survey was weighted to match 2014 American Community Survey benchmarks for the population’s regional makeup. While the survey employed a weighting protocol designed to correct for relevant demographic and regional differences from the Native American population, the impact of weights on findings was minimal. In this case, respondents in the Mountain region were among the most likely to report enrollment with a tribe (67 percent did so), but the share who said the Washington Redskins’ team name was offensive was little different from the overall results (8 percent).
4) Why no mention of James Fenelon's survey, after he says he was contacted by reporters and asked if his was biased because he had Native Americans doing poll?
Dr. Fenelon’s survey was not based on a systematic national or regional sample of any population, but among a sample of attendees at selected pow wows and related events in the Cleveland area, as reported by Indian Country Today. We cannot use results from an unsystematic sample to make generalizations about the Native American population at-large.
5) how do you respond to NAJA statement? " “By framing this story as simply a matter of public opinion,” the NAJA/UNITY statement says, “the Post has willfully ignored the harm – referenced by the APA – that will inevitably result from its coverage. The reporters and editors behind this story must have known that it would be used as justification for the continued use of these harmful, racist mascots. They were either willfully malicious or dangerously naïve in the process and reporting used in this story, and neither is acceptable from any journalistic institution.”
The Post pursued this poll without any idea as to how it would turn out and had no vested interest in the outcome. When activists argue that Native Americans are offended by the name – and when debate over the name is at the center of a major public policy debate -- it’s entirely appropriate for a news organization to conduct a survey to test any assertions made about the breadth and depth of offense among Native Americans. This is customary for any other public policy issue.

From: Dave Z.
Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 11:17 AM
To: Clement, Scott
Cc: Jacqueline Keeler
Subject: Questions 
Hello Scott. Thank you for agreeing to respond to Jackie's article. 
The questions are as follows. We are on deadline. Please get back today if at all possible. Jackie, please add questions if I am missing anything. 
1) Why no verification of tribal enrollment, just taking people at their word that they are Native American? 
2) Given how young the Native American community is, why speak to no one under 18? 
3) Why we're only 12% from mountain region where 18 out of 20 most populated Native reservations live? 
4) Why no mention of James Fenelon's survey, after he says he was contacted by reporters and asked if his was biased because he had Native Americans doing poll? 
5) how do you respond to NAJA statement? " “By framing this story as simply a matter of public opinion,” the NAJA/UNITY statement says, “the Post has willfully ignored the harm – referenced by the APA – that will inevitably result from its coverage. The reporters and editors behind this story must have known that it would be used as justification for the continued use of these harmful, racist mascots. They were either willfully malicious or dangerously naïve in the process and reporting used in this story, and neither is acceptable from any journalistic institution.”
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AIM Central Texas Announces Boycott of 'Indian Country Today'--Calls for Free Press

I would like to thank AIM Central Texas for releasing this letter last night calling for a boycott of Indian Country Today Media Network, the largest Native American news site in the country.

The letter cites the termination of my relationship with ICTM and censorship as reasons for the boycott and says,
"We have since learned that ICTM is owned by Ray Halbritter who had previously gained control of the Oneida Tribe using unethical tactics. Jacqueline was fired by Chris Napolitano, the former editor of Playboy Magazine. The majority of the salaried positions at ICTM are held by non-natives in New York City and the Native reporters are columnists paid per story or not at all."
Here is the letter:

When I first found out that the editor-in-chief of the nation's largest Native American news site was non-Native (Chris Napolitano whose title is "Creative Director") I suspended judgement. I don't believe that only Native people can do a good job at anything--that would be a ridiculous proposition and swept aside those concerns willing to see what I can learn from this editor.  I Googled him and found that his primary experience as an editor was at Playboy Magazine from the mid-1990's to the early 2000's and read that he had received accolades for bringing in talented short story writers.

I now must admit I wonder how much editing mostly white male short story writers in Playboy magazine prepares one for editing the largest Native American newspaper in the United States serving some 566 federally-recognized tribes (and many more who are not federally-recognized) each with unique cultures and circumstances. It seems like an entirely different thing to me.

It became clear to me after awhile that all the editors, Native and non-Native deferred to him. He had final say on everything that appeared on the news site. And it also became apparent to me that he was directly under the direction of Oneida Nation CEO, Ray Halbritter. The Oneida Nation owns Indian Country Today having purchased it from its founder, the venerable Tim Giago, a Lakota newspaper man of note in Indian Country.

I soon saw that the editors and even business manager I was emailing were mostly non-Native and I could see on LinkedIn many were formerly of Playboy magazine. The office, once actually in Indian Country in South Dakota under Giago, was now ensconced in New York City, far from most of the bulk of the remaining large Native reservations and communities in the West.

When I first started in 2013 there were two still two Native editors. One an opinions editor who is extremely frail and was too sick to work perhaps half the time I wrote for them and is nearing retirement. That was perhaps for the best, as I had to demand he stop editing my editorials after he rewrote one of my pieces as a rage-filled diatribe and published it under my byline without my consenting to the extreme edit. I demanded he take it down and he literally taunted me over email and I forwarded these to Napolitano who finally took down the piece. I published it as it was meant to be here: Big Mac and the Redsk*ns: On Leadership and Sovereignty, Fumble and Fame. His version is still at which re-posts articles from other Native publications. His behavior was entirely unethical.

The other is, I believe, the only Native woman on staff at Indian Country Today. She is also nearing retirement and is not an active editor. She oversees special publications handed out at conventions paid for by wealthy casino tribes and attends gala dinners to represent the news site. A non-Native writer who went to the ICTM offices in New York City said the white staff referred to her as their "figurehead".

The social media accounts are (according to emails I had with an editor) run from the New York City office and overseen by a non-Native editor there.

The staff consists of these editors in the New York City office, and now, a couple of new male Native editors who appear to be more "at large" while the main staff do the nuts and bolts work. All pieces signed "ICTM Staff" are written by the New York City staff.

Then when I began referring other Native writers to Indian Country Today I began hearing back they were not paid. I urged them to invoice and gave them what I had been told were the going rates. One who invoiced received a phone call from the opinions editor who berating him and tried to intimidate him into rescinding the invoice. The writer held strong and would not rescind the invoice and was finally paid. Another had submitted more than one article and did not know she could be paid, I urged her to invoice. She did and was finally paid (initially ICTM refused to pay for her first piece). These experiences were troubling to me.

Since I've come forward with my concerns many Native contributors have messaged me to say they had not been paid at all and were unaware they could be.

Recently, ICTM has come out with articles obliquely addressing my concerns. Two featured Native women writers of Indian Country Today their faces arranged in Brady Bunch collages. None of these writers are on staff and none are salaried. It didn't occur to me but when I spoke to another Native woman writer she told me many Native women journalists she spoke to were insulted by the first article. None of the women were journalists or trained as journalists. They were all commentators.

In today's media climate the percentage of journalists of color is falling in newsrooms around the country. In The Investigative Fund's announcement of the new Ida B. Wells Fellowship they note,
"People of color constitute less than 13 percent of all newsroom jobs, according to an annual survey by the American Society of Newsroom Editors, and 10 percent of supervisors; their presence is even smaller on investigative teams. 
Women represent 37 percent of newsroom jobs and 35 percent of supervisors. 
Survey data indicates that fewer than 10 percent of journalists come from a working class background."

What is sad is that these numbers are just as bad--if not worse--over the past several years at one of Native America's largest news sites' newsroom. A news site that gets more than 1.8 million unique visitors per day. Those numbers outstrip any of their competitors. And I can't help but feel they are running on the fumes of what Indian Country Today used to be, when it was a real newspaper that my family used to get in the mail when I was growing up with news from home and that filled us with such pride. It's these memories that made me want to get my byline there in the first place.

And beyond the issue of equality in the workplace there is the issue of the lack of an independent and free press in Indian Country. Many tribal papers operate under the thumb of tribal government and Indian Country Today Media is no different. Ray Halbritter has not instituted any firewall between himself and the news site. Editors I spoke to, particularly, Chris Napolitano cited Halbritter's wishes constantly. One editor even told me Halbritter refuses to pay legal fees for his writers so they cannot do real investigative work at all.

More disturbingly, when I interviewed Oneida Nation dissidents who claim Halbritter took over their government, they said his main tool in establishing his rule was disenrollment. In fact one said there is, "horrible horrible corruption going on" and that "disenrollment started here in Oneida I know it did."

Disenrollment is a serious issue going on in Indian Country today. The kind of reporting required to investigate such allegations, however, is nearly non-existent. I was repeatedly told by Oneida and other members of the Iroquois Confederacy (of which Oneida is a part) that it would be very dangerous to my own well-being to do on-the-ground journalism in New York state concerning these accusations against Halbritter. I was told that he is a dangerous man and a billionaire who buys off his opposition and has even imprisoned dissident tribal members in a federal prison he contracts to in Pennsylvania. His all non-Native Oneida tribal police force are also federally deputized. This video shows tribal members who opposed him having their homes destroyed in a manner reminiscent of Palestinian homes by the Israeli government.

Halbritter claimed he destroyed their homes because they were not up to code but tribal members in interviews with me that he requires them to sign loyalty oaths to him personally in order to receive new homes. When they refused to sign, they were offered Section 8 housing far from the reservation in a dangerous neighborhood in Syracuse.

The dissident I spoke to said, "There’s nothing nation--there’s no community it’s totally destroyed. It’s horrible. People are afraid to talk to each other."

My source, who asked their identity be kept secret because they claimed they feared retaliation, also claimed that the few homes left on "32"--the 32 acres that was all the land left to the tribe before the casino was built, are patrolled every 15 minutes by Halbritter's hired non-Native police force.

There are many Haudenosaunee writers who have written about Halbritter's alleged authoritarian rule. Notably, John Kane in March at his blog "Let's Talk Native" where he claims, "Halbritter used some of the influential Onondaga icons to seize power as the sole leader of the "Oneida Indian Nation (OIN) of New York" back in the late 1980s. He then rewrote Oneida customs by crafting his official enrollment list of Oneidas (that list includes "Oneidas in good standing" and those who aren't). Along with his new list was his new list of enrollment requirements which include…, you guessed it, blood quantum."

An editor of Indian Country Today responded in the comments saying, "You offer no tangible examples, just a series of leftist statements aimed at no one other than Halbritter."

Also, Doug George, founder of the historic Native newspaper Aweksasne Notes, wrote for another Native newspaper News From Indian Country about Halbritter's reputed bungling of Oneida Nation land claims (he also lays blame at other Haudenosaunee leaders) in article titled "Factionalism Destroys Our Land Claims" where he says, "Skennenrahowi bundle of arrows was unraveled by Arthur Raymond Halbritter of the Oneida Nation of New York." His wife's mother was the clan mother Maisie Shenandoah who Halbritter reportedly had "her voice taken" before he dismantled the traditional clan system of government led by clan mothers and instituted his own "men's council."

Some of this has been covered by Halbritter's enemies on the Native American mascot issue. Halbritter has taken a leading role funding Change The Mascot and demand the Washington NFL team change their mascot from the "Redsk*ns." His activism has been dogged by claims that his mascot-fighting is a cover for his allegedly brutal takeover of his tribe. An article at the conservative American Thinker with a lurid headline, "Race-Baiting Oneida Nation Leader Has Problems of His Own" recounts Halbritter's rise to power. These articles are often discounted by Native readers because of the vitriol towards misappropriation also voiced in these takedowns. However, none of the Haudenosaunee I have interviewed disagree with the descriptions in this American Thinker piece as to the details describing how Halbritter took over the Oneida Nation in New York.

Yet we will never know if any of these serious allegations are true about Ray Halbritter or countless other tribes across the country now facing an epidemic of disenrollment because we lack an independent free press to investigate them on the ground.

This is necessary because disenrollment is seriously undermining the hard-won gains towards sovereignty won in the 1970's. Disenrollment is often used to silence opposition or to simply get rid of other families profit (such as per capita payments) or for payback. The fight against disenrollment even has its own hashtag #StopDisenrollment.

After hours of interviews with Iroquois people who claimed Halbritter harmed them and destroyed their dream of a nation, I posted this on Facebook. My own call for a truly free and independent press for our people:

And to top this all off (as if what is above is not enough) I received information regarding Ray Halbritter's participation in the Karl May Festival in Germany that is put on by German hobbyist groups who camp out as "Indians" and call themselves Indianers. This festival is put on by the Karl May Museum which has refused calls by Native American activists to return scalps belonging to the Ojibway people. Halbritter is the headliner at this year's event and will be featured in an event moderated by well-known German author and cultural appropriator Kerstin Groeper, identified on the program as an "Indian writer."

"Kerstin Groeper is a German woman who writes novels about natives," Red Hair Crow told me. He wrote extensively for ICTM about the Karl May Museum's holding of Native scalps. "Very, very stereotypical bad ones, culturally appropriating and is considered an 'expert'. Basically the German JK Rowling, but far worse and longer at it."

In a strange contrast, many of Halbritter's freelance Native writers are wonderful and respected voices on the issue of cultural appropriation.

Hair Crow, who lives in Germany, says that Halbritter is treated like a celebrity in Germany and his attendance is interpreted as supporting the cultural appropriation. He claims that after he questioned ICTM editors about Halbritter's activities they stopped accepting his articles. He also claims, "they edited/inserted advertisements/promos for Halbritter & certain Oneida interests in Germany as if I wrote it and without my permission. I was furious and we had it out over it, but it had been published. Halbritter is very problematic here because he supports and is in league with events like the Karl May Festival, and very rich hobbyists clubs who are some of the worst offenders. In cooperation with the NAAoG (Native American Association of Germany), we continue efforts to educate and inform about any who use "nativeness" for profit. Hobbyists use Halbritter's suppport and friendship as validation to excuse their activities."

All this boils down to one thing: Native people need an independent press nationwide and accountability in hiring. We do not have it now--not even in our largest news site.

To revisit why my relationship with Indian Country Today was terminated please see my blog at TiyospayeNow: Fired by Indian Country Today--Native Journalist Silenced

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