2005 Native American News Archive
Native American news and events that occurred in Indian Country in 2005.
2005 Native American News Highlights
—The Red Lake massacre was an incident of spree killing that occurred in two places on the Red Lake reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota, United States. The first murders began on the morning of March 21, 2005, when 16-year-old Jeffrey Weise killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend.
He later drove his grandfather’s police vehicle to Red Lake Senior High School, where he shot and killed seven people on the school campus, comprising five students, one teacher and an unarmed security guard, and wounded five others. The shooting ended when Weise committed suicide.
This year’s edition of the Big Foot ride began Thursday
from a camp on the Grand River where American Indian Chief Sitting Bull was
killed 115 years ago. In two weeks, riders plan to arrive at the site of the
Wounded Knee Massacre.
Those who have been on the ride before say it is among the saddest and most fulfilling experiences of their lives.
By the time they reach Wounded Knee on Dec. 29, the 23 riders that left
Thursday will be more than 125 strong, organizers say.
Sina Shaw has been on the ride before. “Our leaders fought so hard. We do this so our children’s children’s children know we’re worth something,” Shaw said.
Included among the riders are a half-dozen children.
The memorial ride began in 1986 when Birgil Kills Straight and four other
Lakota riders decided to follow the December 1890 trek across South Dakota taken
by Minneconju leader Big Foot and his followers.
They fled the Standing Rock reservation when Sitting Bull was arrested and
killed and had hoped to spend the winter in safety with the Oglalas in the
Badlands. They were intercepted by the Seventh Cavalry outside Wounded Knee, and
an estimated 300 were massacred when the encounter erupted into violence.
As the riders left Thursday, each spent a moment at a monument to Sitting
Bull. Each rider declared who he or she would ride for, a loved one, or for the
After Sitting Bull was killed, his followers fled to Pine Ridge, more than
200 miles on foot in the cold of early winter. After they arrived, many found
death at the hands of the U.S. Army.
The riders who left the camp Thursday will feel some of the cold the original
riders felt – even though they have insulated caps, coats and warm food and
shelter awaiting them at the end of each day.
Ron His Horse Is Thunder, the new Standing Rock Sioux chairman and descendant
of Sitting Bull, has ridden from Sitting Bull’s death marker to Wounded Knee
every year. But not this one.
His mouth and lip remain swollen from dental surgery.
His Horse Is Thunder saw the riders off on their journey.
“You will feel pain on this ride,” he told them. “When it is over, you will
be wiser. You will be better Lakota.”
To the American Indians who hold them sacred, the seven rocks in the way of
Paseo del Norte’s westward expansion aren’t inanimate stones.
They’re alive. They’re connections to their sacred earth that can’t be
replicated 100 feet away.
Which is why the city’s plans to relocate the rocks decorated with ancient
petroglyphic markings – even if they’re in the same orientation as they were
found – is disturbing, said Lorene Willis, director of the Jicarilla Apache’s
cultural affairs office.
“They can’t move those rocks,” Willis said. “It loses its significance once
it’s been moved.”
“I don’t know if the city can understand that.”
The state Cultural Properties Review Committee in June granted the city a
permit to collect data from the roadway path but wanted the city to consult with
tribes before the permit took effect.
On Monday, the committee said the city can start the work after Dec. 21. In
the meantime, the city must consult with tribal officials from the Jicarilla
Apache Nation of Dulce and the Picuris Pueblo of northern New Mexico and then
report back to the committee Dec. 2 on its findings.
Committee member Craig Hoopes said the permit has been granted and that,
after Dec. 2, he doesn’t expect any more discussion on the issue.
Gerry Raymond, a city-contracted archaeologist with Parsons Brinkerhoff, said
his staff has dug test pits to search for pollen that could tell them what
plants were used in ancient rituals. They’ve found little to indicate they’ll
find much more, he said.
The issue sets the city’s infrastructure needs against American Indian
Albuquerque voters last fall approved a bond package that included $8.7
million to extend Paseo some 1.6 miles west from Golf Course Road through a
portion of Petroglyph National Monument.
Last month, state District Court Judge Linda M. Vanzi ruled that the city
followed procedure in determining whether extending the West Side road through
the monument was the best option in handling future traffic demands.
The timeline of construction isn’t clear yet, said John Castillo, director of
the city Department of Municipal Development.
Raymond believes the rocks could be relocated from the road’s path around
There are seven rocks in the road’s path – five are actual boulders
averaging 2 feet high by 2 feet wide, Raymond said.
The last two are what archaeologists have termed “grinding slicks,” or flat
areas used to grind materials. Raymond said some of the Jicarilla officials
believe one of them is a touchstone, a stone rubbed during rituals.
The larger stones weigh “hundreds of pounds,” Raymond said. “We can’t lift
them by hand.”
Plans call for using a front-end loader-type machine equipped with a strap to
carry the boulders, he said.
The rocks would move 100 feet to the southwest and be oriented the same way
they were found, he said.
“So when moving them, marking their exact location is important because that
location may have been important,” Raymond said.
Their location is important, Willis said, but only where they sit now – not
100 feet to the southwest.
“When they talk about trying to put them in the same alignment, it doesn’t
mean anything to us. It’s just their own way of justifying what they’re trying
to do,” Willis said. “It doesn’t make sense to us if they’re going to move
them. It has no more significance to us.”
“They’ve destroyed something that would be sacred to our people.”
Both Castillo and Raymond said the method of relocating the rocks could
change after consulting with the American Indian tribes.
Willis said they have alternatives, though she declined to disclose them.
The Jicarilla were placed on their reservation in 1887. Prior to that, the
Apache lived as far away as Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle and down in Roswell.
Willis said the tribe is not opposed to the road. Members understand that
development is happening in Albuquerque, she said.
But those rocks, she said, have been placed in their locations for a reason.
They have a connection with the Earth, she said.
“But those things are living,” she said. “Everything is all connected.”
Erik Siemers can be reached at
Native American director Chris Eyre delivers an impressive
layup shot with his new film “Edge of America,” a Showtime original picture
airing later this month on cable TV, co-produced with Shelia Tousey.
The film opens as African American English teacher Kenny Williams, played
by James McDaniel, travels to his new teaching job at Three Nations High
School, located on a fictional Indian reservation in Utah.
All Williams knows about the new job is what he heard over the telephone,
but nothing could have prepared him for a world so far from his experience
– reservation life.
Williams soon finds that ignorance runs in both directions.
His long, weary drive yields to an initial meeting with the school
principal, who mistakes Williams for the new janitor. The new teacher also
is surprised to discover that the teacher housing mentioned in his contract
is a mobile home.
Upon meeting with his first class, Williams encounters insensitivity and
ignorance from one student, played by Eddie Spears (“Black Cloud”), while
other students look at him as a curiosity.
Williams does find one genuine friend in fellow educator and single mother
Annie Shorty, played by Irene Bedard.
Shorty doubles as coach of the girls’ basketball team, and the plot
develops around the team’s winless plight.
Williams admits he was an outstanding athlete in high school, and the
school principal immediately wants to involve him in helping to coach the
The new teacher is not interested, saying that high school sports got him
“nowhere that reading a book would.”
But Williams reconsiders following a near-fatal car wreck and begins
recruiting players, which improves the team’s fortunes.
At the same time, Williams’ bond with the school and community grows as he
comes to see that on the reservation, high school sports offer people hope
and a chance to make things better.
With the team on the verge of going to the state finals, Williams becomes
obsessed with winning a championship.
As he loses sight of more important values, he is confronted by some of the
players, who show how his ambition is overwhelming the team.
Once confronted by his team, Williams is forced to look deeper into himself
and the traditional Native American cultures surrounding him.
Eyre, whose earlier films “Smoke Signals” and “Skins” have made him a
much-watched director, has produced another winner with “Edge of America.”
This is a dramatic and triumphant film, one that will leave many moviegoers
reaching for the Kleenex.
In the brief-but-memorable department, look for Navajo actress Kelly Ray
Vallo, of Chinle, as the short-tempered Raylene, and the charismatic Wes
Studi as Cuch, a local mechanic who befriends Williams.
Studi’s real-life niece, Cherokee actress Delanna Studi, also has a small
The film premieres Monday, Nov. 21, on Showtime. Check your local cable
listings for times.