Tuesday, August 20, 2013

For Sam, From All His Relations

His “contemporary traditional Indian art” is iconic, showing people who grow like trees from their deep roots into the stars; people who are proud, strong, protective of their community of life and filled with humor and compassion. In a thousand ways, these people are just like Anishinabe artist and activist Sam English, who transformed from alcoholic despair into one of Native America's most highly regarded artists. Thirty years after embracing sobriety, the diabetes he has fought for a decade has taken its toll. Sam's energy to continue producing his extraordinary works of art is exhausted.

Sam’s gratitude for his recovery and recognition inspired him to give generously of his time and artwork to causes that support Indian Country’s recovery from historical trauma. In the PBS documentary Colores, he says, “My being an artist gives me the freedom to be involved with community. It gives me an opportunity to interact with my community. That gives me the energy to be creative about my community. It’s given me access to life, to be able to do this. To have people look at my art and like what I do, that grounds me. Reminds me of where I came from. Reminds me that I have a contribution to make to my community.” Indeed, there is hardly a single cause—from domestic violence and child protection, to alcoholism and diabetes—that Sam English has not given to and created art for.

Today Sam’s community, including Anglos, HispaƱos and Indians, is just waking up to the fact that he has reached the time of his much-deserved retirement. In retirement, as during all the years of his working life, an artist's income is totally dependent on selling his art. Planning for the future, Sam has salted away paintings over the years in the hopes that they would provide a steady income in his golden years.

The collected paintings of Sam English constitute an unparalleled treasure trove of public art, created by the Native artist in cooperation with countless government agencies and non-proft organizations, as well as many original pieces. True to his legacy in community activism, each image makes a strong statement about Native American strengths and how we can help each other to build a better future. 

Sam hopes that selling his life’s work will provide him with an adequate retirement income, but he is hoping to find a single buyer for the collection, like a large museum, a tribe, or a private collector.

As a man who never turned away from an open hand or a good cause, it's up to us—all his relations—to step in for him, by helping to find a buyer for his magnificent life's work. Some of us might know acquisitions directors who might take up the cause. Some of us might be able to write letters to the Heard, NMAI, tribal leaders or private collectors and let them know how important Sam's art is to you.

Sam said of his art, “I want Indian people to look at it and say, ‘Hey, this is a good rendition of who we are and invokes all the things that make me feel good about myself.’” Anyone enjoying Sam’s art, or his company, is inspired both to feel good and to do better for each other.

Recommending Sam's art to your friends with money: Free

Sam English coffee table book: $47.98

Sam English signed Tribute to Wilma Mankiller: $335.00

Original Sam English paintings: Price available on request

Helping Sam create the retirement he deserves: Priceless

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Parents, Tribes Not Enthused About Legal Marijuana

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in two states and for medical use in 19 states plus Washington DC (as of this writing).  Investors are excited about opportunities to create a "clean American brand" for legal marijuana, and to invest in marijuana-laced edibles, a fast-growing sector. But lots of people from tribal governments to parents, are worried about the effects of legal marijuana.

Tribes can pass laws to decriminalize marijuana, but so far most tribes firmly oppose marijuana use on tribal land, even though legalization has created something of a jurisdictional nightmare for tribal police. Tribal members can use legal or medical marijuana outside tribal borders but not on tribal lands. In the absence of specific laws prohibiting use, non-Indians can use medical marijuana on tribal lands without fear of reprisal, since the Justice Department is refraining from prosecuting medical users.

However, that hasn't stopped the Salt River Maricopa-Pima Indian Community from seizing vehicles driven by state-licensed medical marijuana patients. The tribe released a statement saying,"People who transport drugs in any jurisdiction face the possibility that they will be arrested, prosecuted, and that the vehicles they use to transport drugs may be seized." The Northern Cheyenne Tribe refused an exemption for a medical marijuana user awaiting trial. Some tribes are even going head to head with states over local prohibitions against marijuana dispensaries. Other tribes, like the Navajo Nation (which lies in two medical marijuana states), are still debating decriminalization. The tax advantage of selling legal marijuana would benefit Washington tribes in the same way that tobacco sales do, which might be more appealing if tribes weren't so thoroughly tired of cartels running grow operations on tribal lands.

Tribal officials aren't the only one who want to put the brakes on legalization. A survey of parents in Washington and Colorado show that although a majority of parents support legalization, they want to ensure that legal marijuana stays out of the hands of children, and is not advertised or used in places where children can see it. Poison control experts who sounded an alarm about the dangers of children ingesting medical marijuana have advocated in favor of childproof containers, and education programs that advise parents to treat medical marijuana the way they would any prescription drug-- secured and away from kids.

For more about issues with prescription drugs and drug endangered children in Indian Country, join us at our upcoming two-day training in Spokane, WA!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Public Safety Hit Hard by Federal Cutbacks

The impact of sequestration is hitting public safety in Indian Country hard. Tribes have been cutting law enforcement positions and closing mental health programs. The horror stories are rolling in: The Oglala Sioux are down to one officer on duty at any time. The Navajo can't staff a jail that they built. The Red Lake Band of Chippewa are losing 22 BIA employees, mostly law enforcement officers. At Pine Ridge, where someone tries to commit suicide nearly every day, they have had to cut two counselor positions. Cuts to IHS programs have gone far deeper than expected, shuttering clinics and limiting emergency services.

While hundreds of millions have been cut from IHS and SAMHSA (mental health) programs, cuts to smaller programs are also having an impact. Programs designed to turn life around for kids have been decimated, from Headstart to the Tribal Youth Program, which had been helping kids discover alternatives to drugs and gangs. Tribal police are having more and more trouble staying ahead of the curve. As one officer explained, "It's really hard to be proactive when you don’t have enough staff."

What can be done? The National Congress of American Indians has already passed a resolution stating that sequestering funds for tribal activities amounts to a treaty violation, which still doesn't get boots on the ground or doctors in the clinic. Some tribes are cushioning the impact with funds from gaming, grant funds that have already been awarded or settlements. Some tribes are seeking partners in or out of the tribal community to help make up the gap. Join the discussion at our SafeRez group on LinkedIn to share ideas on how we can pull through this difficult time.

Friday, May 31, 2013

More Prosecutions, More Transparency, Better Relationships

A report for the Attorney General on Indian Country highlights the improvements that TLOA has wrought. Federal prosecutions for crimes committed on reservations is up 54% since 2009. Tribes and feds are also working together to decide whether cases should be tried in tribal courts or in federal courts, resulting in building trust and respect on both sides.

 Declinations are still high in some areas, but in others, they're down to about 20%. In the past two years, declined cases were overwhelmingly due to a lack of evidence. Tribes and prosecutors alike insist that the declination rate doesn't matter so much as long as everyone is working together. Grant Walker, the tribal prosecutor for the Standing Rock Sioux, said, “Declinations aren’t really a big deal anymore to us because we know what the case is, and if the federal government declines we’ve already had a chance to prosecute that case too. So it’s not like the ball is hidden, and the prosecution’s office doesn’t know about it.”

Have you been seeing a difference in your community? Join us at SafeRez to talk about justice, health and improving our tribal communities.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Are You Ready For Fire Season? It's Here!

When a wildfire swept through this mobile home park early one morning, residents had no time to think about what they wanted to take with them, they just had to run for it, before everything they had burned to the ground. Even small shifts in the weather can make a wildfire grow in unpredictable ways and travel faster than people can mobilize to stop it.

Devastating wildfires are, unfortunately, a fact of life these days. Drought across the West, combined with bad beetle infestations and a century of fire suppression have created a kind of perfect storm of conditions. This year, the wildfire season is starting months early, with fires burning this week in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Florida, and Alabama.

The approach to emergency planning for wildfires is the same as for any other emergency:
Assemble a Kit-- get together something you can grab as you go, containing clothes, medication, documents, and other things you may need (including food and medication for pets!)
Make a Plan-- talk with other family members about what to do and where to meet
Stay Informed-- stay aware of local conditions

There's also plenty you can do to keep your house safer.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Top Ten Ways to Control Pain Without Drugs

No one wants to live with pain from injury or from chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or back pain, yet the Institute of Medicine estimates 116 million adults suffer chronic pain. An injury that causes chronic pain can be hard to live with, but it's even harder to be dependent on painkillers to get through your day.

Prescription pain pills are not only addictive and a leading cause of overdoses, they are expensive and getting harder to obtain. As a result, many people who have developed opioid addictions are turning to heroin. Before you accept a prescription from your doctor, consider using some of these tried and true natural remedies:

1) Diet: add foods with anti-inflammatory properties, like tumeric, fish oil, olives and olive oil, tart cherries, ginger, red peppers.

2) Alternating heat and cold: use compresses on sore or spasming muscles.

3) Stress reduction: use yoga, tai chi, meditation or similar techniques to gently exercise your body and control pain.

4) Massage: massage therapists take different techniques to treating different conditions or injuries, so ask around to find one who can help you.

 5) Soaking: a hot bath is a good start, but you can add mineral salts (kelp or red seaweed is ideal) and essential oils (like rosemary or holy basil) to amplify the healing effects.

6) Topical herbs: depending on your condition, you might find relief from arnica or capsaicin cream.

7) Physical and occupational therapy: regular guided therapy can relieve pain associated with a sports injury and restore strength and range of motion.

8) Chiropractic care: this method of treatment can be helpful after a traumatic accident or sports injury.

9) Supplements: glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, white willow bark, devil's claw or boswellia can be used as directed by a natural health care practitioner.

10) Alternative medicine: patients report results from techniques including biofeedback, hypnosis, acupuncture, acupressure and relaxation techniques. If you would like to learn more about the prescription painkiller to heroin connection, sign up for our FREE webinar on this subject or one of our regional sessions to learn more about this connection.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

DOJ Issues FAQ for Prosecuting Under VAWA

click to view Department of Justice VAWA FAW for Tribes larger
Congress recently passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, or “VAWA 2013.” This new law includes significant provisions addressing tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence. These tribal provisions were proposed by the Justice Department in 2011.

Tribes will be able to exercise their sovereign power to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence both Indians and non-Indians who assault Indian spouses or dating partners or violate a protection order in Indian country. VAWA 2013 also clarifies tribes’ sovereign power to issue and enforce civil protection orders against Indians and non-Indians.

Although tribes can issue and enforce civil protection orders now, generally tribes cannot criminally prosecute non-Indian abusers until at least March 7, 2015.

Yes, tribes will be free to participate, or not. The authority of U.S. Attorneys (and state/local prosecutors, where they have jurisdiction) to prosecute crimes in Indian country remains unchanged.

Covered offenses will be determined by tribal law. But tribes’ criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians will be limited to the following, as defined in VAWA 2013:
  • Domestic violence; 
  • Dating violence; and 
  • Criminal violations of protection orders. 
The following crimes will generally not be covered:
  • Crimes committed outside of Indian country;
  • Crimes between two non-Indians; 
  • Crimes between two strangers, including sexual assaults;
  • Crimes committed by a person who lacks sufficient ties to the tribe, such as living or working on its reservation; and 
  • Child abuse or elder abuse that does not involve the violation of a protection order. 
A tribe can start prosecuting non-Indian abusers sooner than March 7, 2015, if
  • The tribe’s criminal justice system fully protects defendants’ rights under Federal law;
  • The tribe asks to participate in the new Pilot Project; and 
  • The Justice Department grants the tribe’s request and sets a starting date. 
A tribe must
• Protect the rights of defendants under the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, which largely tracks the Federal Constitution’s Bill of Rights, including the right to due process.
• Protect the rights of defendants described in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, by providing
  • Effective assistance of counsel for defendants; 
  • Free, appointed, licensed attorneys for indigent defendants; • Law-trained tribal judges who are also licensed to practice law; 
  • Publicly available tribal criminal laws and rules; and 
  • Recorded criminal proceedings. 
  • Include Indians and non-Indians in jury pools. 
  • Inform defendants ordered detained by a tribal court of their right to file Federal habeas corpus petitions. 
In VAWA 2013, Congress authorized up to $25 million total for tribal grants in fiscal years 2014 to 2018, but Congress has not yet appropriated any of those funds. However, tribes may continue to apply for funding through DOJ’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS), which can support VAWA implementation. Additional funding sources may be available through other Federal agencies.

Please contact the Justice Department’s Office of Tribal Justice (OTJ) at 202-514-8812 or Office on Violence against Women (OVW) at 202-307-6026, or visit www.justice.gov/tribal.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Teens Getting High On "Weed Candy"

Medical and legal marijuana has led to a growth industry for THC-laden food products, including a range of candy bars, lollipops, gummy candies, chocolates and hard candies that have been finding their way into the hands—and mouths—of school children. Police from Florida to Oregon, through Texas and the Midwest, have been reporting the growing trend. States near Washington and Colorado have also been reporting a sharp increase in drug arrests that also net quantities of marijuana-laced candy. The candy sells on the street for as little as a dollar a piece, but also sells briskly at as much $10 a piece. Some of the candy is made for sale in legal dispensaries, and is packaged to look like common brands of candy.

Other areas are reporting the use of weed candy that is cooked up at home, out of simple ingredients like corn syrup and powdered drink mix. Some kids attempt to make it themselves, but others buy from dealers who make the candy with dangerously concentrated THC, synthetic THC or other unregulated ingredients. The odorless candy can pack a serious punch and seriously impair driving, not to mention ability to learn anything.

In an effort to combat the appeal of marijuana for kids, Georgia has banned the sale of marijuana-flavored candy to minors, but a national measure to ban marketing controlled substances to minors died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Parents and police are being advised that even if weed candy hasn't hit your area yet, it's a matter of time. Parents and school officials can watch for unwrapped candy, candy with strange brand names, and the classic signs of marijuana use like slurred words or slowed motor control. Parents can also monitor their kids' Internet history to see if they've been researching DIY recipes.