This week in Indigenous news

Suicide among Native youth declared “a state of emergency”

Suicide arrives in waves on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

On Christmas Day, a 15-year-old Lakota girl took her own life. Soon afterward, a boy, just 14, took his.

Since then, a young man and six more girls, one as young as 12, have followed as this current wave continues to swell. There have been numerous additional attempts in the last few months on this South Dakota reservation of about 28,000 people.

The rate of suicide among Native youth in the United States is more than three times the national average. Very often that rate climbs even higher.

In March 2010, then president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Theresa Two Bulls declared a suicide state of emergency after a rise in the number of suicides. Current President John Yellow Bird Steele has now declared one yet again.


Navajo zoo receives permit to provide protected eagle feathers

For hundreds of years, Native Americans have used eagle feathers for religious and cultural purposes. But the government closely regulates the ability to obtain such feathers, sometimes leading to black market activity.

“We use a lot of the eagle feathers to help us with our spirituality,” said Anderson Hoskie, a Navajo medicine man. “It is part of our ceremonies, our healing and it is also in a lot of our Navajo stories.”

The Native American community can legally obtain eagle feathers through a federal depository, but it’s an arduous process.

The distribution system is backlogged, and numerous people are on the waiting list, said David Makisic, coordinator for The Navajo Zoo and Botanical Park in Window Rock. He said it could take three to four years to get a feather.


Rescued out of slavery: Indigenous workers freed from work camps in Mexico

Last month, Mexican authorities rescued 200 Tarahumara men, women and children from an agricultural work camp in northwestern Mexico where they were held against their will and subjected to inhuman working and living conditions.

Federal legislators then voted to push the country’s attorney general and human rights commission to conduct thorough investigations into this case and to fine those responsible for the violations, as well as to create policies to prevent these types of abuses in the future.

On Mar. 16 Secretary of Labor and Social Oversight Alfonso Navarrete announced that authorities had rescued the 200 Tarahumara people from two work sites belonging to the El Cerezo Rural Production Society Limited in the southern part of Baja California.

“More than 200 Tarahumara indigenous people were tricked and transported 560 miles away from their communities into shameful, illegal conditions for miserable salaries,” Navarrete said.


Help the Tsleil-Waututh Nation stop Kinder Morgan’s trans mountain pipeline

Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan wants to put North America’s coastline and communities at risk — all for more profit from yet another flawed tar sands pipeline. And the 500-person Tsleil-Waututh Nation — an Indigenous community based on British Columbia’s west coast — is standing in its way, with unwavering opposition and legal rights that could stop this project in its tracks.

Last week, we travelled to Wall Street with the Tsleil-Waututh’s Chief Maureen Thomas and met with investors from some of the biggest firms on Wall Street, from Vanguard to Goldman Sachs. We’re making sure these investors know what’s at stake with this disastrous pipeline project — and we know we’re having an impact.


Apache tribe occupies sacred land to be destroyed by mine, refusing to leave

Oak Flat-once part of an Apache reservation-is considered sacred space by the local tribe but it was awarded to a copper mining company through a defense bill in 2014 and will be completely destroyed. Now the tribe has occupied the land in Arizona and refuses to leave, claiming their freedom of religion is being infringed upon.

Photo: Poster designed to spread the awareness about Oak Flat Campground and to raise money for the Apache Stronghold, who are occupying and staying at Oak Flat. To purchase posters go to: (via Saving Oak Flat Campground/FB)


Andrea Perkins
Andrea Perkins

"I am a stay at home parent and grad student. I work as a freelance writer. I write about subjects that matter to me or I find interesting. I'm Indigenous and Black and sometimes I will write about topics that impact my community."