#GivingTuesday and Holiday Meals for Native Elders

Food in abundance and merriment during the holidays is often not the case for Native Americans, especially for communities in geographically-isolated areas where access to well-stocked grocery stores is limited. Food insecurity — an economic and social condition involving inconsistent access to enough healthy food for adequate nutrition — impacts one in four Native families.

Additionally, Native Americans endure one of the highest rates of impoverishment in the U.S., and reservation households are 400 percent more likely to report not having enough to eat than other U.S. households.

To provide a complete holiday meal at home, in remote reservation communities with limited shopping and multi-generational residences, is a financial burden that oftentimes leaves families without a special meal to gather around. To help alleviate the additional stress many Native families experience during the holiday season, Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) is participating in the Newman’s Own Foundation holiday challenge, in hopes of being one of ten nonprofits that raises the most funds on or ahead of #GivingTuesday and receive a cash prize from the Foundation.

Donations made to PWNA from Nov. 21 to Nov.28 will help provide holiday meals for Native American Elders.

PWNA partner Sharon Yazzie of Shiprock, New Mexico says, “PWNA’s help with holiday community meals helps ensure Elders not only have something to eat, but also spend the holidays in the company of others, as relatives cannot always make it home to the reservations, due to distance or circumstance.”

#GivingTuesday is a global giving initiative celebrated annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. With donations made from Nov. 21 to Nov. 28, you can help PWNA fight food insecurity and brighten the holidays for Native American Elders. Visit CrowdRise today to make a donation. (All donations must be made on this CrowdRise page to qualify for additional funding from Newman’s Own Foundation).

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American Indian Heritage Month Recap

This month, schools, organizations and communities across the U.S. are conducting events to mark National American Indian Heritage Month — and we are no different. Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) looks forward to this annual observance and this year marked a celebration of Native American students and contributions, which concluded this week. We hope it helped to expand your knowledge and appreciation of Native history, heritage and education.

We appreciate the many thousands of visits to our website, and would like to especially thank all of you who registered on our website or opted in for future updates.

To recap our celebration, PWNA awarded laptops to five Native freshman students who were also awarded scholarships through our American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) program. Congratulations to our laptop winners – we hope this important tool will only further your continuing academic success:

  • Roselynne Parker, Chippewa-Cree affiliation
  • Andrea Medina, Zia Pueblo affiliation
  • Hunter Warren, Navajo affiliation
  • Myah Red Horse, Cheyenne River Sioux affiliation
  • Deedra Cadman, Navajo affiliation

PWNA also awarded prizes through random drawings to those who registered and participated in our Native education quiz to answer questions like, why is the freshman year of college more of a challenge for Native American students, and what is the average cost of school supplies on a reservation. Cheers to our daily giveaway winners – we hope the DVDs and other giveaways you won are educational and enjoyable:

  • Linda H., Cassat, South Carolina
  • Carla M., Duncanville, Texas
  • Jessica P., Chicago, Illinois
  • Deborah P. (location pending)
  • David J. (location pending)

The winner of our grand prize, the now hard to find “American Indian Christmas” CD with beautiful and inspirational music is by Lumbee artist Jana Mashonee, was Felicia H. (location pending).

Our Heritage t-shirts and hoodies, which make great gifts, may still be ordered!  Visit www.RememberNativeAmericans.org/shirts and order by Nov. 24!

We hope you will continue to explore the significant and diverse impact of Native Americans on Western society and learn about life on the reservations PWNA serves. Follow PWNA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or visit www.nativepartnership.org.

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World Diabetes Day & Diabetes in Native Communities

Diabetes probably affects someone in your life, but what do you really know about it?  Well, heads up. It affects 423 million people worldwide, including about 30 million Americans and 1 in 10 women, and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. A very serious disease, some learn to cope with diabetes, while others are less able to cope physically or financially.

Split into two categories, Type 1 diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin, and Type 2 is characterized by the body’s ineffective use of insulin, without which the body cannot properly absorb sugar and low blood sugar (or hyperglycemia) can occur. Health issues related to blood sugar, blood pressure, and even poor healing of extremities can occur from diabetes.

Why bring up these facts on diabetes now? It’s World Diabetes Day and diabetes affects some of those close to me. Remember that 423 million affected? Well, the rate of diabetes in Native Americans is 15 percent, more than for any other race. And why is this?

I’ve personally heard a couple of different reasons. One is “artificial” or processed sugars, or more specifically, the rapid introduction of processed sugar into Native diets during colonization. Some say that our bodies were unable to quickly adjust to this type of sugar and became overly sensitized to it, while also becoming desensitized to the naturally-occurring insulin our bodies had always used. A second reason is the introduction of commodity foods to relocated tribes. Historically, commodity foods were heavy in sugar and carbohydrates, cheap ingredients so distributing them makes financial sense — but the families reliant on commodities were often predisposed to diabetes.

My father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2001. I remember when he used to collapse due to blood pressure issues, and a specific instance when he was hospitalized because of it. In his own words, “It took me 14 years to do anything about it. One day I just realized that if I didn’t start managing my diabetes a lot better, I wouldn’t live to be very old… One day I just woke up and said, ‘I can do better.’” Since then, my father has improved his dietary choices, exercise and regimen of medication. With the 3 critical aspects of diet, exercise and medication, his diabetes has been much more manageable since 2015.

On World Diabetes Day 2017, PWNA applauds the International Diabetes Federation for raising awareness of diabetes and championing the right of women, and everyone, to a healthy future and taking action today to change tomorrow. PWNA also applauds its reservation program partners such as the Special Diabetes Program at Sells Indian Hospital, the Ohkay Owingeh Wellness and Diabetes Program and the Acoma Diabetes Program, and is supporting their diabetes health fairs and conferences this month.

High carb foods, high sugar foods and highly-processed foods all contribute to diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle only worsens the condition. While many might see the disease as crippling, it doesn’t have to be. Type 2 diabetes is preventable, and can be managed with small steps and mindfulness, whether that is walking a mile a day, having fewer desserts, or choosing healthy foods and gardening to ensure your diet includes fresh produce. If you or someone you know is suffering with diabetes, take heed that you can manage it, and that diabetes can kill. As my father reminds me, “I can remember some friends that, after these 14 years, aren’t around anymore” due to diabetic complications.

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From Purple Heart to Master’s Degree: Journey of a Native American Veteran

November is a significant time of recognition for tribes throughout the United States; it encompasses National American Indian Heritage Month, as well as Native American Heritage Day on the Friday after Thanksgiving and, of course, Veteran’s Day. Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) is marking these important dates with some recognition of our own, including a spotlight on Native students and education through our Heritage Month campaign, and today sharing this story on a Native American student who is also a veteran and a scholarship recipient through PWNA’s American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) program.

Lawrence Wright, Jr., a Native American from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment (3/7), Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, enlisted, served 3 tours in Iraq and earned a Purple Heart, all before attending college.

Lawrence began his 1st tour in Karbala in 2002. He returned stateside in 2003 only to begin training for a 2004 deployment in hostile zone Husaybah near the Iraqi and Syrian border. There, his unit sustained many casualties and Lawrence sustained shrapnel and explosions from enemy mortar fire. Evacuated by MEDEVAC for 6 months of rehab, a piece of shrapnel remains embedded in his shoulder. Lawrence’s 3rd tour of duty began in Ar Ramadi, where he faced two close calls with IEDs and was shot at by sniper fire. In September 2004, Lawrence was awarded the Purple Heart, and continued serving until 2006 as Lance Corporal.

Once home in the U.S., Lawrence continued to support public safety. He completed the Indian Police Academy, FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center), and then graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. To support counter-terrorism, Lawrence is now pursuing a Master’s in Emergency Management and Homeland Security at Arizona State University.

His Veteran’s benefits exhausted, this year Lawrence turned to AIEF and other scholarships for help funding graduate school. He shares, “Most tribes have very little funding to assist their tribal members… AIEF has helped me a great deal. We need more support, resources and scholarships like AIEF for the Native youth.”

Veterans Day is a welcome reminder of the unity and spirit of our indigenous peoples, still honored for the highest rate of military service of any ethnic group in the U.S. And Lawrence remembers this year-round. “A big part of my motivation comes from my brothers [Marines] who sacrificed their lives in Iraq. I try to make something of myself… that’s how I honor them.”

 PWNA thanks Lawrence Wright, Jr., Native American veterans, and all veterans everywhere for their service and sacrifice for this land and country. For those of you participating in the Combined Federal Campaign, look for Lawrence and our AIEF video under CFC charity code 54766.

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American Indian Heritage Month: A Celebration of Native Education and Heritage

National American Indian Heritage Month is celebrated throughout the month of November and acknowledges the many tribes throughout the country. Native Americans have made a significant and diverse impact on Western society, and this month of reflection is an opportunity to expand your knowledge and appreciation of Native history, heritage and education.

Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) is proud to work with more than 300 Native American communities annually to support positive futures for Native Americans living on remote and often impoverished reservations. As part of its recognition of Heritage Month, PWNA is awarding five additional laptops to Native students who are pursuing their freshman year in post-secondary education and receiving 2017-18 scholarships through its American Indian Education Fund program.

“Only 13% of Native American students hold a college degree. By assisting Native students through our laptop giveaway – and our scholarship program – we hope to give more American Indians and Alaskan Natives the resources and encouragement they need to complete college and succeed as future leaders,” says Robbi Rice Dietrich, President/CEO of PWNA.

At Salish Kootenai College (SKC) in northwestern Montana, out of the 800 to 1000 students enrolled, only 10-15% have laptops.

“A lot of the students can’t stay on campus in the evening because of transportation, or they can’t come back to campus to study because they have families. They don’t have computers at home or even Internet service,” said Jackie Swain, Director of Financial Aid.

Her colleague Ellie McLeod, Director of Scholarship Acquisition and Distribution, spoke to the importance of financial aid in securing education for Native students.

“I don’t know what our students would do without funding… Scholarships are critical for the success of our Native students,” she said.

PWNA also works to more accurately inform the public about life on the reservations, and invites you to grow your knowledge of Native history, education, and heritage by participating in its Native education quiz and random daily drawings this month. With 567 federally recognized Indian tribes, reservations and pueblos in more than 30 states and nearly 35 state-recognized tribes, Native American history and culture is as diverse as it is expansive.

To learn more about Native history and heritage, and join PWNA for Heritage Month education and giveaways, visit www.PWNA4hope.org.

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Recently in Native News

Partnership With Native Americans makes it our mission to help you stay informed on the top stories from Native American life and culture from across the country. Below we’ve compiled our favorite stories from the month of October for your enjoyment. Stay up to date with more articles by following us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

This Healthy Diet Has Stood the Test of Time via Bon Appetit

  • “Why isn’t the indigenous diet all the rage today? It’s hyperlocal, ultra seasonal, uber-healthy: no processed foods, no sugar, no wheat (or gluten), no dairy, no high-cholesterol animal products. It’s naturally low glycemic, high protein, low salt, plant-based with lots of grains, seeds, and nuts. Most of all, it’s utterly delicious. It’s what so many diets strive to be but fall short of for lack of context. This is a diet that connects us all to nature and to each other in the most direct and profound ways.”

Students learn to cultivate plants for Native American traditions via The Davis Enterprise

  • “These students — with connections to Native American tribes in California, Nevada, Hawaii and New Mexico — learned how to grow culturally important plants for a large-scale environmental restoration project on Maidu land in Plumas County.”

Project Aims to Increase STEM Access for Native American Students via The Journal

  • “Native Americans make up 1.2 percent of the overall U.S. population, yet only account for just 0.4 percent of all engineering bachelor’s degrees, Sandia National Laboratories reports. The University of Montana is looking to remedy that situation with the help of a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.”

5 Young Native Americans On What Indigenous Peoples Day Means To Them via Huffpost

  • “Other places have also established holidays to celebrate indigenous peoples, from the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on Aug. 9 to the Day of the Indian, celebrated in countries like Mexico and Brazil on April 19. And some other U.S. cities ― like Denver, Seattle, and recently, Austin and Salt Lake City ― as well as states like Vermont and Hawaii, will also be celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day.”

Guilty Pleas Entered in Sweeping Indian-Art Fraud Probe via U.S. News

  • “A New Mexico art gallery owner and a jewelry supplier have pleaded guilty in federal court to criminal charges in the sale of fake Native American jewelry that was manufactured in the Philippines, representing the first conviction in a sweeping international investigation.”
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Thanksgiving, a Time to Remember

When most people think of Thanksgiving, an image of family, feasting, and football comes to mind. And while this national holiday is a joyous one for some, for many families in Native American communities, it is a difficult reminder of the food insecurity that is experienced year-round.

It’s an unfortunate fact that many Native communities still suffer incredibly high need, with food insecurity impacting one in four families of this population. Often, families residing in rural or geographically isolated communities do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and struggle to lay healthy food on the table on a regular basis.

In addition to this, many Native Americans experience mixed feelings when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving. Sara Fills The Pipe, a Native American Elder from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, celebrates Thanksgiving but also makes it a point to tell her children the story of Thanksgiving from the Native perspective, to help them understand why some in their community do not celebrate the holiday.

“I tell them, you listen to the Indian version and then you’ll understand why some people don’t celebrate [Thanksgiving],” she said.

Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) works to deliver meals for thousands of Native Americans annually through their program partners on the reservations. In 2016, PWNA provided healthy Thanksgiving meals that served more than 38,000 Elders and families across more than 40 reservations in the Northern Plains and Southwest.

Even though the history is fraught, many of PWNA’s reservation partners celebrate Thanksgiving as a day when they can gather for a shared meal and celebrate their community. To learn more about how you can join PWNA in supporting a positive holiday for Native families, download our free Thanksgiving publication.

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The Fall Harvest, and Harvest Moons

Moon of the Full Harvest, Hopi.
Harvest Moon, Passamaquoddy.
Moon where the Corn is Taken in, Pueblo.

Throughout the centuries, certain moons were believed to mark the harvest season — the time when most crops were beginning to reach peak ripeness and needed to be brought in for winter or the non-growing seasons.

Appearing roughly from August to October, the “harvest moons” are known to many indigenous cultures across the U.S. and beyond. This isn’t as crucial today as it once was, in part due to Thanksgiving. Read more about this in our Thanksgiving blog that will publish next week.

Like the harvest, the season of autumn is celebrated in many cultures as a time of change. Some cultures celebrate it as a new year, a time where the old dies and allows for new growth to be let in.

For those who still work the lands to grow the foods that their ancestors once ate, the fall harvest is still important. For example, some Anishinaabe still cultivate rice and harvest it at this time of year.

Some still pause this time of year, at pow wows and private celebrations, to thank the Great Spirit for a good harvest and surviving another year. Generally, this is done through ceremony or dance. The practice is not as common-place today though, because the fall harvest is not a normal happening for much of the population. Sadly, with this, many no longer stop to notice the significance of the change in the season.

In days of old, food was very much a part of the culture. In some ways, the fall or harvest season still connects all of us to our ancestors and our culture, and this is something to celebrate.

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Columbus Day: Shift the Focus

Can you tell me what the upcoming holiday is? Depending on who you are, that answer is going to change. For most, it’s Columbus Day and the history taught in school, and for others, Native American Day or Indigenous Peoples Day. Regardless of what you call it, the celebration of Columbus can be taken as an insult to those who know the larger story.

For Native Americans, the day is often a reminder of a turning point in our history that did not treat us well. The events that took place following the years after Christopher Columbus discovered the “New World” could have been handled differently. Though to have a say in it, I think it’s necessary to redress the topic.

Christopher Columbus was a sailor sponsored by the Spanish Monarchy. Between 1492 and 1504, he traveled back and forth between Europe and an area within the Caribbean, around Cuba and South America. He discovered new lands, and with it, new peoples. Unfortunately, following the years of their discovery, Columbus and his men committed a number of crimes against them, ranging from slavery to murder. Following his return to Spain, Columbus was tried and found guilty for his crimes and stripped of his titles. Today, however, Columbus is recognized less for his crimes and more for his discovery. For some, this topic can be difficult to address, and it’s hard though not impossible to find supporting evidence for some of the more drastic crimes of Columbus.

In 1937, Columbus Day was instituted as a U.S. Federal holiday. though it was celebrated in some places as early as the 18th century. This “holiday” is no stranger to opposition from many groups, especially Native American and Indigenous peoples, who have been part of push to transform Columbus Day into a day not commemorating Christopher Columbus.

In California and South Dakota, Native American Day has already replaced Columbus Day, and in more states still, such as Alaska and Hawaii, Indigenous Peoples Day has replaced it. These new declarations take into account the recognition of past wrongs and instead celebrate Native and indigenous peoples.

For all of my life, Columbus Day has been recognized, but when Native American Day was first established in South Dakota, I remember believing it was a good change in a right direction. Hopefully, some day, Columbus Day will shift to a holiday that can focus on triumphs over the past rather than the past itself, can help close a gap between different cultures, and can hold a moment to celebrate the Native cultures that are still here despite the past.

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Recently in Native News

In pursuit of our goal to keep you informed of the top stories about Native life from across the country, Partnership With Native Americans has compiled our favorite stories from the month of September for your enjoyment. Stay up to date with more articles by following us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Trump’s Border Wall Could Carve Path Through Native American Lands via NBC News

  • “Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward Manuel is determined to prevent President Trump’s proposed border wall from carving a path through his tribe’s lands — a move which he said would separate members from much needed resources and disrupt the community’s way of life. The nation, which is about the size of Connecticut, is a federally recognized tribe that has land and members on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.”

Native American Journalists Debate Future of Media in Indian Country via VOA News

  • “The collapse of a prominent Native American media network has triggered debate over how Native media can best serve the interests of communities across Indian Country and counter stereotypes and misinformation in the mainstream press. Native American journalism dates back to the Cherokee Phoenix, founded in 1828 to advocate against the U.S. government policy of assimilation and forced removal. Many newspapers have since come and gone, victims of high costs and low revenue.”

Bears Ears is sacred to Native Americans. But heritage isn’t all equal for Trump via The Guardian

  • “Bears Ears is one of the most powerful and historic cultural and spiritual centers of the first peoples of the south-west. The monument, established in the twilight of the Obama administration, stands just next door to Canyonlands national park, north of the San Juan river and east of the Colorado. The rock formation after which the monument is named comprises twin buttes standing high above the piñon-juniper treetops, carved canyons, and majestic mesas – like the head of a bear emerging from the south-west landscape.”

Compromise Reached in Boycott of Native American School via The New York Times

  • “A dispute over who should lead an elementary school that serves almost exclusively Native American children has been resolved, just in time for the start of classes next week.”

How Native Americans and Immigrants Are Coming Together to Define the Future of Resistance via Splinter News

  • “One thing was clear, though: it would take a vast amount of work to create a sustainable coalition that can actually change things, up to and including rewriting the story we tell ourselves as a country. But given that so many attendees were already individually working towards progress, a powerful collaboration seemed like it could actually happen.”
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