Archives for October 2006

Government may stop handling Indian trust

(Created: Friday, October 27, 2006 1:16 PM MDT)

JENNIFER TALHELM Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — The government would end its long and controversial responsibility for managing American Indian trust lands under a proposed change to a bill settling a decade-old lawsuit by Indians against the government. Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and Vice Chairman Byron Dorgan, DN. D. , filed the bill last year to overhaul the trust system and end the lawsuit. The senators had discussed settling for $8 billion as recently as July, but they have struggled to find a plan all sides can accept. The latest proposal, posted this week on the committee’s Web site, is endorsed by the Bush administration. Indians claim in their classaction lawsuit that the government has mismanaged more than $100 billion in oil, gas, timber and other royalties held in trust from their lands dating back to 1887. The litigation, filed in 1996 by Blackfeet Indian Elouise Cobell, deals with individual Indians’ lands. But several tribes have also sued claiming mismanagement of their lands. The proposal would end, over a period of 10 years, most of the government’s responsibilities to manage Indian lands. The lands would remain in trust, but the landowners would make almost all the decisions about land use and all revenues would go directly to the owners. The proposal also would consolidate ownership of Indian lands, which are now often held by many people. And it would resolve all tribal claims against the government for mismanagement. McCain and Dorgan have not agreed to the changes but have asked their aides to gather input from Indians during ongoing meetings around the country. But a committee memo explaining the proposal cautions that to gain support for a multibillion- dollar bill Indians may need to agree to significant changes in the trust system. Spokesmen for the Indian plaintiffs said it was unacceptable. “It is simply one more act of bad faith and part of an obvious scheme to kill any reasonable legislation that could have resolved this case,” said Dennis Gingold, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has said he wants to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the litigation that would be “full, fair and final.” Department spokesman Shane Wolfe said the new proposal fulfills those principles.

Organization of Mothers Craft Cooperative

Above: A few of the members of the women’s craft cooperative, The Organization of Mothers, in Santa Rosa de Dinamarca with Village Earth representative.

A Village Earth representative met with The Organization of Mothers this past July. The Organization of Mothers (Comite de Artesanos Senen Kena in the Shipibo language) was formed in 2002 when the women of Santa Rosa de Dinamarca realized the value of organizing the many artisans in their community for the benefit of working together , sharing materials, creating marketing plans and proposals, and also as a point of connection in order to access resources. Unfortunately, the group has been self-funded by the women and has not had access to the necessary resources to grow their organization into the self-sufficient artisan cooperative they envision for the future. Village Earth has been working with this community in planning and organizational development for the past 1 ½ years and was asked by The Organization of Mothers to help connect them to outside resources so they can grow their business.

The Organization of Mothers is an organization of 32 women between the ages of 15-60. Currently, most craft production occurs in the home but they prefer to work together and are, therefore, in the process of creating a community artisan center where the women can meet and work collectively. They share a few materials and tools within their group, however, most materials are gathered independently. When the women can afford to travel to Pucallpa, all of the women will send money and lists of materials with the women traveling to Pucallpa. Many materials are gathered from the river and surrounding forests and women usually gather these items together in small groups for both safety and social reasons.

Crafts are sold all over Peru mainly in major tourist centers such as Cusco and Lima, nearby cities such as Pucallpa and Tingo Maria, and also to the few outsiders who travel to Santa Rosa de Dinamarca. Traveling to these far away destinations to sell their crafts is very difficult for the women because of the expense and also because the women must leave their families behind for weeks at a time. They are currently working on a tourism program for their community in hopes of increasing the number of tourists to their community to which they hope to market their crafts. The women are also working with contacts in Canada and the United States to increase international export of their crafts.

They believe that increasing their craft production business will have a very positive impact on the whole community. They believe that through their traditional crafts they are asserting their rights to indigenous self-determination and reinforces what they describe as their endangered culture. By working together and increasing production they believe the quality of their crafts will improve as they work to market their crafts more to tourists and internationally. The income gained through the increased sale of women’s crafts will have a profound effect on the whole community as women are many times the sole cash income earners for their families. Currently, this community has many health problems and they believe that increased income from their craft sales will, in turn, lead to more money for health projects such as better quality health center and educational programs for the youth. They also believe that increased craft production will be of benefit to the natural world surrounding them because the women must care for the plants and animals they use in their craft production.

You can help to support the Organization of Mothers by:

  • Making a financial contribution which will support the bulk purchase of craft materials and so they can finish their communal artisan center.
    By donating through Village Earth, all donations are 100% tax-deductible. You can send a check or money order to:
    Village Earth
    P.O. Box 797
    Fort Collins, CO 80522, USA
    Or you can donate with a credit card by calling: 1-970-491-5754
    Or online through Pay Pal on the
    Village Earth website
    **Please indicate that you wish to donate to the Organization of Mothers





Self-Determination through Artisan Cooperatives

The Shipibo-Conibo have one of the most elaborate and intriguing polychrome pottery designs in the world. The geometric designs are called quene, literally “symbols of ethnic identity”. For centuries these geometric designs have been a symbol of Shipibo identity and have differentiated them from other surrounding indigenous groups .

The designs are codes for songs and chants that relate to their spirituality and shamanic visions during healing ceremonies. Female shamans “see the songs” and “hear the designs” at the same time in a phenomenon known as synesthesia – the blending of the senses. These melodic designs are then recorded into cloth or on pottery in the form of these geometric designs.

Most of the pottery, today, is made for the tourist industry and export markets. However, many community leaders expressed an interest in bringing traditional pottery back into everyday use instead of buying mass produced cheap plastic goods in Pucallpa.

The Shipibo-Conibo have been organizing themselves into artisan cooperatives for the sake of cultural and economic self-determination. Not only do the self-motivated craft co-ops help the Shipibo to retain their cultural identity, but they are also economically empowering because of the high export value of well-made Shipibo crafts. “The Shipibo artisans are an example of how we can combine the skills of our ancestors and the customs of everyday life,” says Chanan Meni of Dinamarca. “This project reaffirms our cultural identity in its different aspects: elaboration of our art, designs, and songs by facilitating the infrastructure and adequate spaces for the artisans’ activities.”

“What the west has to offer is good, but we want something different, because we are different” says Chanan Meni when talking about reviving traditional Shipibo artwork.

Pictures From the Oct. 15th Buffalo Release

Nadine and Henry Red Cloud with Ken and Kathy Danylchuck and their children at the Buffalo Exchange reception at the El Pueblo History Museum Oct. 13th in Pueblo, Colorado.

The Buffalo awaiting delivery in the corral on a sunny October morning.

The gate swings opens….

And the buffalo charge out (with tails up) into the herd. To learn more about this program, click here!

Lakota buffalo caretakers to visit El Pueblo Museum

Delegation is returning to Pueblo to accept third donation of buffalo from Rye ranch. (Article in Pueblo Chieftain)

(originally published Tuesday Oct. 10th)

Representatives of the Adopt-A-Buffalo program at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, S.D., will visit Pueblo this week to accept a third donation of bison from a Rye rancher.

The Pine Ridge delegation of buffalo caretakers will host a reception and an informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the El Pueblo History Museum, 301 North Union. The program will include a slide presentation about the project, which is working to build the number of buffalo on the reservation. A silent auction also will be held to raise funds for the project.

The Adopt-A-Buffalo program is administered by former Puebloan David Bartecchi of Village Earth, a Fort Collins-based nonprofit.

This will be Village Earth’s fourth delivery of buffalo that have been used to help establish two new bison ranches and expand an existing one, according to Bartecchi.

The Adopt-A-Buffalo program also helps Lakota buffalo ranchers with technical support, grants and small loans for equipment needed to care for the buffalo and land.

Twelve buffalo yearlings that will be delivered on Saturday were donated by Ken and Kathy Danylchuck from their buffalo ranch in Rye.

The silent auction will feature tepees made by Henry Red Cloud; Lakota quill and bead work; and works of local artists including Joe Adamich, Doug Candelaria, Antonio Lefebre, Ed Posa, Carla Romero, and Kay Singleton.

For more information about the reception or if you are interested in attending the buffalo release on Sunday on the Pine Ridge Reservation, contact David Bartecchi at [email protected] or call 970-491-8307. For more information about the reception or if you are interested in attending the buffalo release October 15th on the Pine Ridge Reservation please contact David Bartecchi at [email protected] or call 970-491-8307.