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Changing Alaska

Denali_National_Park
Denali, the Great One!
Picture credit: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA

 

President Obama will be in Alaska today for an Arctic Global Climate Summit.

He is the first US President to visit the Arctic while still in office.

His primary objective is likely to shore up support for climate change programs.

But another more important reason is about a majestic mountain called McKinley.

Today it will officially become Denali and for many Alaskans, it is about time.

You see, the locals have already been calling it Denali since the 1970’s.

The bitter battle over this name change has been going on for many years, those who live in Ohio where President McKinley, for whom the mountain was originally named is from, do not want it changed, but the Alaskan Natives do and today, they will get their way!

Denali is the highest peak in the United States at just over 20,000 feet.

This name change is very personal for the thousands of Indigenous, or Native Alaskans, as it is their name for the mountain in their Native tongue and it means the Great One. “

A separate, but equally important ongoing issue here, is that many of the Indigenous or Native Alaskans in this area, are being forced out of their homes on Kivalina Island, due to recent climate change, namely glacial melting and rising seas.

These Native Alaskans have been desperately trying to save not only the land that they live on, but their Ancestral way of life as well.

Over the years, they have been severely impacted by the Global Warming that has decimated their hunting and fishing abilities.
It has also affected many wildlife species that have either completely disappeared, or been reduced beyond recovery and the situation is alarming to all.

Their culture is just about all that they have left right now and they are determined to protect it.

Global Warming, accompanied by the resultant glacial melting and rising seas, have caused them much pain and grief and given them much to fear for the future.

These people are not at all happy about the way that their Alaska is changing.

 

Places to learn more:

Denali – Wikipedia

Obama renames nation’s highest mountain

Sinking into the Sea

Global Warming

Impacts of global warming in Alaska

Meeting the Global Threat of Climate Change

Arctic Peoples and Ecosystems

Climate Impacts in Alaska

 

 

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Vivir es Increible

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Triqui/Trique Indian boys basketball team
Picture credit:  Unknown

Orlando was blessed to have many fine young athletes in town this week for a Basketball event, and one of the teams that made the news this morning on our local station, WESH TV was from Mexico.
Nothing new here, or was there?
This team of fairly small boys, as far as basketball players go, played without shoes.
But, this is not unusual for them, as they nearly always do so.

These boys come from one of Mexico’s poorest regions, a tiny place in the mountains of Oaxaca, that range from 4,000 to nearly 10,000 feet and the inhabitants are called the Trique/Triqui people, a blended group of Mixtec,   (place of cloud-people), who are known for their beautiful weavings.

This area and these people, are not new to me, as one of my favorite Anthropology Professors at CSUN, had related his summers there, for the past 20 plus years.
Every year, he would travel down to Oaxaca to spend a month with the people, then wrote and brought back what he learned about them to his students.

Years later, when I traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I felt that there were strong similarities between it and many places in Oaxaca.
They were both poverty stricken areas, that few outsiders came to and even fewer cared much about.

This young team makes news every time they play, mostly for their lack of shoes, but what people don’t understand is that their lack of shoes, are the least of their worries.
So many where they come from, are desperately poor, with food, shelter and personal safety at the top of their daily wants/needs list, and going without shoes, much lower on it.

Native or Indigenous Mexicans, are at a poverty level of about 80%, compared to the National level in the upper 20’s.

Many of these young players must walk two hours or more, on rough mountain roads just to get to their practices, and Basketball is about the only sport that can be played in such a difficult terrain.

For me personally, the hardest part of relaying this story to all of you, is in knowing that the country where these brave young players live, is in constant turmoil from outside political pressures.

A friend from school traveled down there years ago, quite concerned about the way the people were being treated and was never seen again.

“Accidents” can happen, to those who ask too many questions, or get too curious about local politics.

Just playing their games, must seem like great relief after enduring the conditions that surround them.

Whenever the team travels, they basically have become ambassadors for their people, and the state of Oaxaca, and Global generosity to them and their town, have followed them everywhere.

Their Head Coach Sergio Zuniga, was interviewed by WESH and his pride in their achievements was clearly evident as he spoke.

This week in Orlando, not only was the team gifted with shoes, so was their entire town.

Yes, back home things are very difficult, but as their Team jackets say, ” Vivir es Increible, life is incredible.”

Places to learn more:

Mexican youth basketball team plays shoeless in Orange County tournament

Hoop dreams of Mexico’s indigenous youth provide hope in ‘forgotten’ region

It’s Triqui to play around: Shoeless Mexican team plays exhibition match in LA

Youth Mexican Basketball Team Wins Big Playing Barefoot

Mexican Shoeless Basketball Champions Prove It’s About How You Play, Not What You Have

Trique People – Wikipedia

A History of the Triqui People

 

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Sí, se puede!

Habana_P3

Beautiful Havana, the capital of Cuba
Picture credit: Vgenecr

 

In a move that I believed would never happen in my lifetime, resuming relations with a tiny country just 90 miles offshore from Florida, the President of this Country, has just changed the political status of our two countries once again.

The Island Nation of Cuba has until today, been rejected, cut off and shunned by us for more than 50 years.

This has always struck me as two-faced, as we have had, although frosty at times, relations with other Communist Countries, like China, Russia and Viet Nam  for many years and this seemed  a pretty cold-hearted way to treat this once much admired and loved Island Nation just to our South.

In our efforts to punish the Castro Regime, we ended up instead, mostly hurting only the people.

Yes, there will still be problems, diplomatic and political issues to be worked out, but with this new thinking, the thousands of Cubans who already live here, may soon be able to finally go home and see family that they had lost all hope of ever seeing again.

The fact that we should be willing to treat Cuba as well as we do the others, was so long in coming for some fairly ugly reasons, they did not, as do the others  we have kept relations with, have anything that we want.

We tend to only ” forgive” those who have a product or “other”  that we can use to our benefit.

As for this day, today people were exchanged, secrets were kept secret and assurances may have been made.

Will this be the first step in Global efforts to embrace our differences with the other smaller nations who like Cuba,  offer us little more than trade benefits?

Hopefully other big Nations will begin to think about the Humanitarian reasons to also engage.

As President Obama said today, none of the reasons for cutting our ties with Cuba have had either much impact, or truly changed the situation.

America’s total and complete embargo of Cuba, failed to achieve the desired results.

So, millions have suffered for more than fifty years, for little more than pride and vanity on both sides.

The Castro Regime and the Americans at the helm here, both dug in their heels and innocent people on both shores have suffered.

Each and every week here in Florida, boats are washed ashore with those who risk all, just for the chance to either be free, or to rejoin other family members here.

Historically, the impact of Cuban people here in America is legendary.

They have representation in every imaginable aspect of our Culture from the arts, in  film, and music, and especially in sports, they are extremely well represented in all professions and every corner of our American society.

They are also quite well represented in our political forums and as with all who come here, the great joys of political freedom, also comes with tinges of pain, when thinking of those that are left behind.

Now, on this day, President Obama, working with many others including the Government of Cuba, has changed all of this.

For the people from Cuba, more than fifty long and painful years will hopefully soon come to an end and Cubans can rejoice with those of us who have friends and family from the Cuban Nation.

It is looking good just now because starting today, we will renew a friendship that has been painfully put on hold.

Once again America and Cuba can be allies for their people with a potential prospect for Peace.

Let freedom ring.

I for one, am thrilled at the imminent good things yet to come.

Yes, we can,  America and Cuba,  Sí, se puede!

 

Places to learn more:

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

Cuba releases American Alan Gross, paves way for historic easing of American sanctions

President Obama’s statement on Cuba policy change

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

 

 

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Winona LaDuke

winonababy
Winona LaDuke

 

For those of you who are not familiar with her, Winona LaDuke is the Executive Director of a group called Honor the Earth.

Last week they began a new campaign  called   “Love Water, Not Oil,”  that is vital, no critical,  to all Americans, not  just Native Americans.

What Fracking and Oil pipelines have done and will continue to do to the environment of this country, should be high on everybody’s agenda.

Once our water supplies and land are contaminated, it will take thousands of years to make them safe again.

Hopefully, you will keep this in mind, when you go to the polls to Vote this week and next:

” which candidates are supporting Fracking and Oil Pipelines and which ones are opposed to them? “

The condition of the water and land that you will  have this time next year depends on it.

Here is a brief Bio that I wrote about Winona several years ago.

She was and is,  an amazing woman, that I have the utmost respect for.

A side note that I find interesting about Winona, she and Robert Redford share the same birthday, August 18th!

Winona_duke_dream_reborn
Winona LaDuke at Dream Reborn Conference  April 6, 2008
Picture credit: Eclectek

 

Winona LaDuke, who was born in 1959 and grew up in Los Angeles,  is Anishinabe/Anishinaabekwe – Ojibwe and an enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg of the Makwa Dodaem – Bear Clan of the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.

Her father, an Ojibwe was a supporting actor in westerns as well as an Indian activist and her mother, a Russian Jew from New York, was an art professor.

As a teenager LaDuke addressed the United Nations on mining issues.

After graduating from Harvard in 1982, she took a position as the principal of the High School on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.

LaDuke is a Program Director of the Honor the Earth Fund and works nationally to promote and assist Native Environmental groups.

She is a Founding Director for White Earth Land Recovery Project: a reservation-based non-profit organization focusing on land, cultural and environmental issues.

LaDuke co-chairs the Indigenous Women’s Network and is Program Director of the Environmental Program at the Seventh Generation Fund.

LaDuke ran with Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000 as his Vice-Presidential candidate for the Green Party and worked to increase Native American voter registration and activism.

She has written on environmental racism and is the author of several books including: Last Standing Woman and  All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life

LaDuke spoke at the International Women’s Conference in Beijing, China on August 31, 1995.

Read excerpts from her speech

LaDuke teaches courses on Native Environmentalism at the University of Minnesota and other colleges and has campaigned for the reduction of nuclear waste.

In 1994, she was named by Time Magazine as one of America’s 50 most promising leaders under 40 years of age.

She currently lives with her two children on the White Earth Reservation.

 

Places to learn more:

Native Americans Launch ‘Love Water Not Oil’ Ride To Protest Fracking Pipeline

Winona LaDuke – Wikipedia

Honor the Earth Website

Winona’s Facebook Page

Love Water Not Oil

First Nation Ride For Mother Earth Forms Norwegian/Indian Alliance

An Interview with Winona LaDuke

Honor the Earth – Wikipedia

 

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Making Marrow Matches!

navymarrowdrive
Capt. Todd A. Zecchin
June 28, 2006 – Mayport, Florida, during the ship’s Bone Marrow Drive
U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Adam Herrada

 

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

This is a very difficult subject for me personally to write about, as our beloved Airedale,  Sabrina died of T-Cell lymphoma just three years ago. She was fairly young, at six years and very healthy, it took us by surprise, and went so fast. Her disease and her suffering were unbearable for all of us. Blood cancers don’t only kill people, they kill our beautiful pets as well.If you suspect a symptom with your pet, if you have any questions, or doubts, ask your Vet!”

 

For over ten years, locating a Bone Marrow Organization specifically directed towards assisting Indigenous People, Native Americans, or Alaskan Natives, in this Country has eluded me.

Much needed media attention, hype and hyperbole, was showered on the various Blood Cancer and Bone Marrow Groups, by the recent airing on GMA of Robin Robert’s illness, treatment and eventual Bone Marrow transplant.

She put a public face on a relentless, vicious,  killer disease and gave those also suffering from it, hope!

Robin was one of the lucky ones, as her sister turned out to be a perfect match, but for millions of Americans in this Country, there is/was no happy ending, no perfect match for them.

Many Native People on remote Reservations in America,  have two factors that can delay or detract  from them getting the treatment that they so desperately need,  a local Doctor to recommend them and just basic everyday, ordinary access to them.

Often Native Elders have no access to transportation,  or a local Doctor who is able to refer them to the next level of care, or treatment, on their particular Reservation.

This can make getting the help that they need, nearly impossible.

Right now, there are Native People who are suffering in silence and dying,  without ever getting to the help that they need and that is available to them.

According to a graph on the site below,  once Native Americans do get to the Bone Marrow Organizations, their chance of finding a match is right at 90%.

While this number appears to be quite impressive, please remember that this is, if and when they get there!

After contacting a National Bone Marrow Organization, yes the exact same one that was so vital to Ms. Robert’s recovery,  a phone conversation yesterday with their extremely helpful and dedicated, Marketing Director,  yielded much valuable information, that I am now passing along to you.

If you, or anyone you know, is in need, won’t  you please forward this on them, so that they may have a fighting chance against an insidious disease,  that does not discern between its victims, blood cancer, otherwise known as,  Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma.

Here is the asked for and kindly given,  comment from their Director of Marketing, Tanya Wright:

 

“Every four minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma. They desperately hope for a marrow donor who could give them a cure.

Be The Match® connects patients with life-saving donors. And right now, an American Indian or Alaska Native patient in your community likely needs a hero just like you, willing to give a small part of yourself to give someone a cure.

Here are some things you should know:

  • American Indian and Alaska Native patients have a harder time finding a donor than other diverse patients.
  • Patients are most likely to match someone who shares their ancestry, and American Indians and Alaska Natives combined comprise only 1 percent of the registry.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native marrow donors are urgently needed to save patients everywhere.
  • You can be the difference between life and death for someone in need.”

“You can join the national registry now to save a life by visiting BeTheMatch.org, learning more!”

Information about why diversity matters (in relation to marrow transplants)”

http://bethematch.org/Transplant-Basics/Matching-patients-with-donors/Why-race-and-ethnicity-matter/

Thank you!
Tanya Wright Strategic Marketing Specialist, Supervisor

Tanya Wright Strategic Marketing Specialist, Supervisor
3001 Broadway Street NE Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1753
Phone: (612) 627-8113  Toll Free: (800) 526-7809 Ext 8113

The cure for blood cancer is in the hands of ordinary peopleSM. BeTheMatch.org.

 

Thank you Tanya, now here are some other places to learn more about these diseases:

National Bone Marrow Transplant Link –   (this is the mother of all Cancer Links, start here)

Event tries to attract black bone marrow donors

The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation – (For Jewish Patients)

The Bone Marrow Foundation

Kinds of Blood Cancer 

American Society of Hematology

Health Resources and Services Administration

Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches

DKMS

 

 

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Father Damien, the Apostle of the Lepers

FatherDamien1873
Father Damien in 1873 arriving in Oahu.
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

If you ever have the chance to see the film about this man, it is an astonishing work:

Molokai: The Story of Father Damien.

So many biographies tend to be dull, or appear to be grasping for drama.

This man’s life did not need any more drama, it was filled to the brim with it as soon as he arrived in Molokai

I am not sure how many of us ever could, or would, have had the courage to do what he did.

I was a treatment Nurse in a Rehab Center for four years and was surrounded daily by those that society and the state of California considered to be wretched souls.

Many there were merely being housed in a state facility,  that kept them medicated just enough to be safe for the staff to work with, or somewhat controllable.

Some times however, they were not.

I ended up in the local ER three times,  as proof of this.

The third time was the end for my husband,  who said, ” you’re all done there, and you’re not going back.”

I wanted to stay,  knowing how much needed to be done there, but sadly, finally agreed to leave, knowing that he was right.

But back to the facts about Father Damien, who was said to be the inspiration for Gandhi in his struggle to make India and her people independent from England.

Jozef De Veuster was born on January 3, 1840 in Tremelo, Belgium.

He arrived in Hawaii on March 19, 1864 and began a journey of such love and courage,  that the world and its opinion of the disease he eventually succumbed to,  would be changed forever.

Disease was inflicted on the innocent people of the Hawaiian Islands,  by those who came to do business with them, mostly, sailors and traders.

By 1865,  health conditions on the Islands had reached such a crisis level,  that a law was passed to isolate those with what was considered to be the worst and fatal, Leprosy,  to Molokai in a Leper Colony and kept under strict quarantine.

When Father Damien began his work on Molokai, May 10, 1873,  it was assumed to be a death sentence.

Hawaii’s Bishop called for volunteers for this mission and Father Damien was the first to step up.

It was planned that three others would follow him.

The Island of Molokai was for those sad souls who ended up there,  a place of misery and death.

But, Father Damien came and brought with him the changes that would give those afflicted, hope.

Hawaiian people are normally quite happy, loving and affectionate.

Those who ended up on Molokai, were nothing at all like their relatives on the other Islands.

The dedication, devotion, love and passion of Father Damien made those on Molokai  believe that they could do something for themselves, and because of him, many of them for the first time,  found peace.

But their peace came at a high price for Damien, who after 16 years of selfless service to these terribly sick people, finally contracted the disease that would end his life.

Father Damien continued while he was sick,  fighting with all of those on Oahu,  to do what was humane, decent and right for the afflicted people of Molokai.

Before his death on April 15, 1889 at the young age of 49, he had fought against the tyrannical Catholic dioceses and those who controlled Hawaii, who did little to help him or them and forced them to change.

His body at the request of King Leopold III, was returned to Belgium to his place of birth, in January of 1936.

In 1995, his right  hand was given back to the Hawaiian people to be buried in his grave on Molokai.

Long after his death,  Father Damien was finally made a Saint in 2009.

Never has there been one who was more deserving of this,  than Father Damien, the Apostle of the Lepers.

 

Places to learn more:

Father Damien (Joseph de Veuster)

NPS Hawaii – Father Damien

Father Damien  –  Wikipedia

Father Damien

Father Damien

 

 

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Helen Hunt Jackson

HelenHuntJackson
Helen Hunt Jackson
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

Watching the B/W version of the 1936 film  Ramona  last night, was a double-edged sword, it was such a beautiful story of love and devotion, but it was also extremely sad.

It was wonderful at last, to see the visual of the world-famous classic on the big screen.

The film starred Loretta Young as Ramona, who is completely captivating and steals every scene that she is in.

This book and the movie, spawned an annual event  that now brings thousands to the re-creation every year.

They also did so much to express the horrors of the oppressed lives of the California Mission, actually all Indians, in America at the time and the reaction to it was immediate.

Helen Hunt Jackson,  a name that she desperately tried to have removed from her writings,  as she believed it was ” rude ” to keep a former marriage name, was to become the most famous/infamous American female writer of her time, in spite of the fact that she chose a highly unpopular, even dangerous subject:  civility towards American Indians by the US Government.

One of the things that she did,  that made her unforgettable and evermore endearing to me,  was her brazen delivery to every single member of Congress,  a copy of her Cultural/Political blast,  A Century of Dishonor.

This single act made her an instant enemy to nearly every politician in America.

Her hope was that this book would expose the wrongs and help to correct them.

When this failed to achieve her goals, she went to California and became entrenched in Native life there long enough to learn all that she needed to write an even more important work that WOULD finally achieve her goal.

She wrote Ramona!

 

But I digress, here is an earlier Biography that I wrote about her when I was taking books to the masses all over this country, to enlighten the, for the most part,  poorly, culturally educated,  general public about the truth concerning the History and Culture of Native Americans.

 

Helen Maria Fiske was born October 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Her father was a strict minister/professor at Amherst College and both of her parents died when she was barely in her teens.

She was educated at the Ipswich Female Seminary and the Abbott Brother’s School in New York City.

Fellow classmate Emily Dickinson became a lifelong friend.

Although Jackson’s personal life was filled with tragedy, her first husband was killed and her two young sons both died, the strength of her legacy remains in her passionate writing about the maltreatment of Native Americans.

 

An excellent full length biography of her life is here.

 

The glass ceiling biographies, a wonderful place that has now gone away, wrote this about Helen:

“Helen wrote many books, articles, poems and stories, but her place in history was secured with her 2 most famous books,

Ramona, a romantic tragedy that quickly became a best-selling novel about a young California Indian couple and A Century of Dishonor, a searing exposé on the shameful treatment of Indians by the Government.

After completing it, Jackson delivered a copy to every member of Congress, chastising them with these words, written in red:

“Look upon your hands: They are stained with the blood of your relations.”

The book did not make her a celebrity, on the contrary, it was to be years efore it was appreciated or applauded by most of her contemporaries.

Jackson’ s writing was courageous and many women since have followed her example by also writing about contemptuous Indian issues.”

 

 

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