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2007 Native American News Archive
Native American news and events that occurred in Indian Country in 2007.
— Billionaire donates $5 million to Crazy Horse Memorial
— Montana’s Blackfeet Tribe celebrated in Smithsonian exhibit
— Old Indians mounds claimed by Eastern Cherokee tribe
— Duck Valley Indian Rez without water, running low on food after fire destroys village
— Crow Tribe wants to exploit coal
— Makah tribal member kills whale without permits or tribal sanction
— Multibillion-dollar Canadian residential school settlement passed
In a program designed to provide financial support for California Native
American students statewide, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians provides a
scholarship program unique in the state. Seven Indian students will be the
recipients of this innovative effort this Friday when the Morongo tribal
council presents them with $70,000 in scholarship funds.
The presentation of scholarships will take place at a 2:00 p.m.luncheon at the tribal hall located just north of the tribal administration at 11581 Potrero Road. The tribe will also be honoring nine members and descendants who have been awarded their college degrees.
Many tribes have created scholarship programs to assist their own members and there are some federal scholarship programs, however Morongo is the first tribe to create an academic scholarship program available to any enrolled member of a California Indian tribe who is a full-time student at
an accredited college or university.
Applicants are only required to have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75
They must complete 60 hours with a designated
California Indian community agency; and be actively involved in the Native American community.
“Education is such a serious priority for all Native Americans that we
felt it was important to make scholarship funds accessible to all qualified
Indian students no matter what tribe they were from,” said Morongo tribal chairman Robert Martin. “Education opens the door to having choices in life and we wanted to help open the doors to tribal youth from all California
According to Morongo scholarship administrator Curt Walch, the tribe received more than thirty applications from more than a dozen tribes when it published its scholarship application in March.
Seven recipients were selected to receive the Morongo funds:
Wendy Schlater, a member of the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians, is studying holistic health science. Hillary Eagle-Eye Renick, a member of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians, is enrolled in the University of Oregon’s College of Law. Theodore Aswet Taylor, a member of the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, wants to become a commercial airline pilot. William Madrigal, Jr., a member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians, is pursuing studies in anthropology and archaeology.
Tabitha Whipple, a member of the North Fork Mono Tribe of California, is studying astronomy and physics at San Diego State University. Amber Gibbens Tyner, a member of the Yurok Tribe is aiming to become a school psychologist. Christina Ann Brown, a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, is pursuing a medical degree from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine.
“Self-reliance is making education possible for Indian tribes,” explained Walch.
“Right now Morongo is graduating more high school students than ever before. We operate a HeadStart program for pre-schoolers, provide tutoring programs for elementary and high school students; offer adult education classes and university degrees through a scholarship program for tribal members. Establishing this academic scholarship program for a broader spectrum of Native Americans seemed like the logical next step.”
The Rodney T. Mathews, Jr. Memorial Scholarship program is named in honor of Morongo tribal member Rodney T. Mathews Lyons who passed away in 2003. Mathews was a graduate of Hastings Law School and served as a judge pro tem for more than a decade.
The program provides up to $10,000 per student each academic year.
It was established to assist California Indian students with the pursuit of their education through the granting of competitive and meritorious based financial scholarships. Scholarships are granted to eligible applicants on
a yearly basis and each award is for a 12-month period, renewable for a second year pending demonstration of exceptional progress.
In addition, the tribe will be honoring tribal members and descendants who have completed their college degrees. These include Carolyn Lorraine Horsman who obtained a Bachelors of Science Degree in Information Systems from the University of Redlands; Kim Schoenborn, who received a Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing from Loma Linda University; Dennis Miller, who received a Masters of Arts Degree in Business from Norte Dam De Nemur University; Michael Gonzales who was awarded a Diplome in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts from the California Culinary Academy; Michelle Mathews, an Associates of Arts Degree in Business from Western International University; Jeffery Bisonette, a Bachelors of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Portland; Lauren Miller, an Associates of Arts Degree in Geography from Irvine Valley College; Amanda Marquez, an Associates of Arts Degree in Nursing from the College of the Desert; and Lisa Buenting, a Masters of Science Degree in Nursing from Loma Linda University.
Morongo Band of Mission Indians
WHAT: 109th Annual Arlee Celebration Pow Wow
WHEN: July 3-9
WHERE:Arlee Powwow Grounds, Arlee, Montana
PUBLIC: The Public is welcome
CAMERAS ALLOWED: Yes, except for a few very sacred dances where they are prohibited. These instances will be announced.
SPECIAL RULES: No alcohol, drugs, motorcycles or unleashed dogs are allowed on the grounds.
Tuesday, July 3 – Campers Day, Memorial at 7 p.m.
Wednesday – Snake Dance, 2 p.m.; Veterans Memorial
Thursday – Grand entry, 7 p.m.
Friday – Grand entries, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; dancing competition starts in evening
Saturday – Grand entries, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday – Grand entry, 1 p.m.
Monday – Celebration ends at 8 a.m.
Sometime after the dancing starts at the 109th annual Arlee Celebration this week, an eagle feather will fall. It’s a special moment each year.
“When the first eagle feather drops during the powwow, we do a lost article dance,” said Troy Arlee, arena director at the Arlee event. “For that one and some other dances, we ask people not to record or take pictures.
“Those songs are real old and sacred, and we don’t want some of them getting out.”
Arlee, a student at Salish Kootenai College, is the youngest son of Johnny Arlee, a spiritual and cultural leader of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and descendant of Chief Arlee, the last war chief of the Salish.
When subsequent eagle feathers fall during the week, he explained, they are picked up and blessed by Octave Finley, war dance chief.
The Arlee Celebration, held each year during the week of the Fourth of July, starts Tuesday at the Arlee Powwow Grounds and wraps up at 8 a.m. next Monday. It includes five full days of traditional, grass, fancy and jingle dancing for men, women and children.
More than $50,000 of prize money will be awarded to those who choose to dance competitively starting Friday night. Winners in the adult and senior categories will receive $1,000 each. Another $10,000 will be divided among the winners of the drum groups.
The Arlee powwow is the signature event each year for Montana’s Salish and their close relatives, the Pend d’Oreille. Kootenai Indians host their own powwow at Elmo on July 20-22. Both include tribes from throughout the Northwest.
Arlee’s is among those powwows that don’t charge an entry fee to dance. Prize money comes from fundraisers and the tribal council. It’s significantly more than a year ago, Troy Arlee said, because “it’s also based on gas prices.”
While there’s no telling when the lost article dance will occur, it’s certain the snake dance starts up at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. The dance is performed only on the Fourth of July.
“The reason we dance in the snake way is when we’d have the soldiers coming back from a raid, they wouldn’t just come in the camp in a straight line. They’d weave back and forth and look like a snake,” Troy Arlee said.
Thursday’s slate includes some traditional Indian games during the day. New this year is one called shinny, a game like field hockey but played with sticks and a buckskin bag the size of a baseball.
The celebration honors Mary “Doly” Linsebigler and Harriet Whitworth, tribal elders who’ve attended and helped out at the powwow for years.
Once again the Head Woman of the celebration is Oshanee Kenmille, 91, a master teacher of hide tanning.
The outgoing Miss Salish-Pend d’Oreille is Sarah Finley. Shanae TwoTeeth was named Little Miss Salish-Pend d’Oreille last year, but that title has been discontinued. It will be replaced with an altered age limit for the Miss Salish competition and a new category for boys called Young Salish Warriors. Both awards are for youth ages 12-17.
Visitors can also see and perhaps play the mesmerizing and almost continuous stick games. There’s a tournament for youth 17 and under. Someone will be named most valuable lead singer, and there’s a hand drum singing contest.
As always, food booths and displays of Indian arts and crafts will fill the grounds. There’ll be no gaming machines on the grounds, but blackjack and Texas Hold ‘Em will be played. The tribe will also provide a shuttle service from the grounds to the new, tribally owned Grey Wolf Peak Casino at the former Joe’s Smoke Ring on Evaro Hill.
Editor’s Note: The Arlee Celebration kicks off the Montana “High Line” Pow Wow Circuit, where there is a northern pow wow ot two open to the public every weekend for more than a month. There is also another Pow Wow circuit in Montana known as the “Low Line.” See the full Montana pow wow schedule for July and August.
The wildfires roaring across Southern California have burned more than
17,200 acres of land on the Yuina, Rincon, La Jolla, San Pasqual and Pala
reservations, said Jim Fletcher, superintendent for the BIA in southern
Another 8,960 acres have burned on the Capitan Grande, Mesa Grande, Santa
Ysabel, Barona, Jamul and Inaja-Cosmit reservations.
The fires have caused at least $1 billion in damage in San Diego County
alone and have led to the largest evacuation in state history. At least
500,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, including thousands of
All Don Magee could see was darkness when he looked outside
his office on the Pala Band of Mission Indians reservation Oct. 24.
The sky above the reservation 55 miles northeast of San Diego was covered
in a thick fog and ashes were “falling all over,” said Magee, the tribe’s
“You can’t see the sun,” he said by telephone.
Fletcher has called a meeting with tribes and federal officials Oct. 30 to
assess the damage and coordinate the relief effort.
“Mesa Grande is a poor tribe and La Jolla does not have gaming operations,”
he said. “Those folks need a lot of help.”
Across San Diego County, gaming tribes are continuing to assist those whose
reservations are being devastated by wildfires.
More than 1,400 homes have been destroyed in the 18 fires raging in seven
counties, according to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
At least 41 homes on the La Jolla reservation have burned along with 65 on
the Rincon reservation and five on the Yuina reservation, Fletcher said. To
the southeast, a fire swept through a 900-acre parcel where the Mesa Grande
tribe keeps a herd of 45 bison.
The bison are now loose, Fletcher said, but tribal members must remain
evacuated. The Jamul Indian Village and the San Pasqual casino have also
Fires have melted water lines on the La Jolla reservation, causing water
mains to burst. A well has been lost and the tribe is working to have the
reservation declared a disaster area, according to the Native American
Environmental Protection Coalition.
The lack of water has also been an issue on the reservation of the Campo
Band of Kumeyaay Indians, 60 miles east of San Diego. Nearby fires have led
to power outages that have disrupted the electrical power pumps, said
tribal administrator Lisa Gover.
Less violent winds offered some hope to the more than 8,800 firefighters
Oct. 24, but more homes remained on the path of the fast-moving fires
driven by furious Santa Ana winds across drought-stricken lands, burning
more than 426,000 acres thus far.
The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services attributed at least one death
to the wildfires, while some news reports placed the number at five. State
officials were continuing to order mandatory evacuations Oct. 24.
More than 50 shelters statewide were housing more than 22,000 people.
Thousands have streamed into San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, which is being
praised in comparison to the conditions of shelters set up at the Louisiana
Superdome and Houston’s Astrodome during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
President Bush has signed a major disaster declaration for California that
will provide long-term federal recovery programs to assist state and local
governments, families, individuals and nonprofit organizations.
Meanwhile, gaming tribes are housing tribal evacuees and donating food,
supplies and funding for emergency response crews.
On the morning of Oct. 23, evacuees being housed at the Pala hotel were
evacuated once again, along with about 400 Pala tribal members, to homes of
relatives and free hotel rooms and RV spaces offered by the Pechanga Band
of Luiseno Mission Indians in nearby Temecula.
The Pechanga are providing hotel rooms for about 250 tribal members from
the La Jolla, Mesa Grande, Santa Ysabel, Pala and Pauma bands, said Jacob
Mejia, public affairs director for the Pechanga Development Corp.
The 522-room hotel is now full, so the American Red Cross has provided
cots, he said. Council members are purchasing clothing and toiletries for
people who left their homes quickly without any belongings, and the tribe
is providing free meals to evacuees.
“It’s really bad out here,” Mejia said. “We’re doing everything we can for
people who come this way.”
The tribe assisted in similar efforts during the Cedar Fire in October
2003, known as the worst California wildfire of the past decade. It killed
15 people and burned nearly 300,000 acres in San Diego County.
Rumors of destroyed homes from the current wildfires are worrying evacuees,
but fire officials in north San Diego Country have yet to prepare a list of
homes affected, Mejia said.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that the winds are going down, but it raises
other risks because that creates the opportunity for the fire to change
directions,” he said.
The Santa Ana winds begin in eastern deserts and whip quickly over
mountains and through canyons to reach southern California communities.
The summer fire season lasts through October, though officials consider the
season to be almost year-round in southern California because of continuous
Don Hankins, a geography professor at California State University at Chico
and a member of the Miwok Tribe, says the problem could be alleviated with
a return to traditional burning techniques to clear brush.
“Prior to the curtailment of Native burning, there weren’t these large
fires that consume hundreds of thousands of acres in one fire,” he said.
“They were frequently quite patchy and ranged in scale from an individual
plant to perhaps a few thousand acres.”
As wildfires continue to rage, Sonny Skyhawk, a member of the Rosebud Sioux
in South Dakota who lives in Pasadena, is helping to coordinate relief
efforts there on behalf of the Oneida Indian Nation in New York. (The OIN
owns Four Directions Media, parent company of Indian Country Today.)
He said 60 rooms have also been offered by hotels owned by the Agua
Caliente and the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.
Another wealthy gaming tribe, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians,
previously contributed more than $1 million to the American Red Cross and
is now funding two Red Cross emergency response vehicles, said tribal
spokesman Waltona Manion.
The reservation has not been affected by wildfires, but some tribal members
who live outside remain worried about their homes.
Tribal member Emeline Laiwa said her 19-year-old nephew had to evacuate a
home he recently purchased for $1 million in Alpine, about 30 miles
northwest of San Diego.
“He said, ‘I left my sprinkler on and my hose running,'” she said. “We’re
keeping our fingers crossed; we’re just praying for him.”
For more information on the wildfires or how to help:
* The San Diego Foundation’s emergency fire relief fund for tribes