In their Wounded Knee, South Dakota home, Walter Littlemoon looks at the book his wife, Jane Ridgway, helped him write over the course of four years. “Something was wrong with me, and I couldn’t function like what I thought a human being should.” The words he used to describe his problem became the title of a documentary. “I didn’t know the medical words. So I called the problem what I knew it to be: the thick dark fog.” (Used with permission/Kahlil Hudson/Image courtesy of Vision Maker Media. © 2012 High Valley Films)
Documentary filmmaker Jonathan Skurnik listens to Walter Littlemoon at Walter's house in Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Littlemoon is the focus of “The Thick Dark Fog,” which are the words he used to describe memories he blocked of years about the abuse he received in a federal Indian boarding school. (Used with permission /Kahlil Hudson/Image courtesy of Vision Maker Media. © 2012 High Valley Films)
Unfortunately, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the government often actively suppressed Indian culture by banning certain spiritual practices on reservations. It was only in 1978, with the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, that the government formally established a policy to protect Native American Sacred Sites and traditional forms of worship.
In federal Indian schools, children were often not allowed to be Indians – to express their Native culture or identity in any way was to risk being severely humiliated or abused. Many Native Americans lived with this trauma well into adulthood. More than 100,000 Native American students attended these schools from 1879 to the present. Although a few of the schools still exist, attendance is no longer mandatory.
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FRTEP extension agents and a Colville Confederated Tribe representative in Washington State with invasive Scotch thistle. Infestations of this noxious weed can reduce forage production and land use by livestock. Photo by Daniel Fagerlie, Washington State University Extension Tribal Relations Liaison Regional Specialist and Project Director of APHIS PPQ
Helping American Indians develop profitable farming and ranching businesses, engaging tribal youth in 4-H, enhancing natural resources on reservations, and reaching out to tribal communities about topics that are of interest to them are just some of the activities supported by the Federally-Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP). FRTEP is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and conducts education programs on Indian reservations and Tribal jurisdictions through partnerships with the 1862 Land-Grant institutions. FRTEP extension agents serve as liaisons between the Tribes and USDA programs and services. The purpose of the FRTEP program is to support extension agents who establish extension education programs on the Indian Reservations and Tribal jurisdictions of Federally-Recognized Tribes. Program priorities reflect the following areas: 1) Development of sustainable energy; 2) Increased global food security; 3) Adaptation /mitigation of agriculture and natural resources to global climate change; 4) Reduction of childhood and adolescent obesity; and 5) Improved food safety.
Later this month, FRTEP agents will meet in Fort Collins, Colorado, to receive an overview of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), its programs, and expertise. APHIS is a multi-faceted Agency that is responsible for protecting U.S. animal and plant health, and animal welfare. Read more »
Members of the Round Valley Indian Tribe retrace the 1863 route of the Nome Cult walk, a forced relocation of Indians from Chico, Calif., to Covelo, Calif. (U.S. Forest Service)
Many of us may think of the forest as a place to reflect upon times long past. There may even be a bit of nostalgia in those ruminations. Yet for members of the Round Valley Tribes, a recent walk through the Mendocino National Forest in California was more than a time to contemplate—it was a time to remember an agonizing event in history.
This autumn marked the 150th anniversary of the Nome Cult Walk, a forced relocation of 461 Native Americans from Chico, Calif., to the Nome Cult Reservation, near Covelo, Calif. Only 277 of those completed the forced march that passed through what is the heart of today’s Mendocino National Forest. Those who did not complete the journey were too sick to go on, some escaped, and others were killed. Read more »