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13 Issues Facing Native People Beyond Mascots And Casinos | HuffPost
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With the civil rights movement, however, came a rebirth in self-determination. Groups such as the American Indian Movement were founded to put political pressure on the federal government. They began contributing back to their original communities. This summer, I decided to document the experiences of some of the , Native Americans who call the Bay Area home.
Chah-tah Gould: ‘ Even the ones who are into gangs, they still go to powwows’
While I do recognize that a sizable chunk of our populations are solidly middle class, every Native person I know has either experienced poverty or has a family member who is. Housing and homelessness remain at the top of the list of challenges. Sometimes, his friends will go to the mall and forget about his relationship with the land — he always asks them to stop so he can get out of the car. Chah-tah, a lifelong Oakland resident, is one of few Ohlone tribal members left. The Ohlone went nearly extinct after generations of slavery and colonization by Spain, Mexico, and the US; they are currently petitioning for federal recognition.
His mother, Corrina Gould, has been one of the lead organizers against the construction of the mall.
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While some graves were interred, many believe that hundreds of graves and human remains still lie underneath the development. On Black Friday every year, Native people gather to protest outside the mall and inform shoppers about the history of the place. It happens a lot, even to non-city Natives. They grow up around their culture.
You know, to be cool, you start drinking, you start smoking, all this other stuff. I got into some stuff like that. Luckily for me I got away from all of it. I ask him how he stays away from negative influences. Out here you have to deal with life — you know, the American-type life; taxes, jobs, everything like that. So it gets to a point where you have to choose.
Materialistic things can become the priority and you miss out on the whole experience of what your people are about. I met Michelle and her son in a homeless protest camp in Berkeley, underneath the Bay Area Rapid Transit line Bart , which can be seen screeching by above her. It was reminiscent of a miniature Standing Rock camp, with protest signs against corporate greed along with an upside down American flag and a Veterans for Peace flag. He was recently at the Oakland Planning Commission to speak on behalf of a recurring sweat lodge ceremony — a Native spiritual tradition — which was banned by the city after a group of neighbors complained about the smoke from the fire used to heat rocks for the lodge twice a month some of the complainants can be seen in the first and second rows behind him.
Well over supporters showed up to testify on behalf of allowing the ceremony, citing the American Indian Freedom of Religion Act. The planning commission overturned the ban. Patricia St Onge owns the property on which the contested sweat lodge is built. She is a descendant of the Mohawk Tribe, as well as adopted Lakota. I visited Patricia at her home, which also serves as a community spiritual space for local spiritual practitioners.
Contemporary Native American issues in the United States
I married an African American man, and we had kids. The overwhelming experience of racism that we experienced as a family in New England was so transformative. From the time my kids were little, we had neighbors petition our landlord to evict us. After a series of moves to various urban localities in the late s, they finally moved to Oakland so Patricia could go to graduate school.
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We became really close as a family because of all of this. So we started going there and getting involved. Patricia went on to become the founding director of Habitat For Humanity Oakland and worked as a nonprofit consultant. About five years ago the complaints about the sweat lodge began, eventually leading the city to ban them. I met Decoy Gallerina after she gave testimony about how traditional Native ceremonies have helped her heal from abuse and trauma. In the past, when she would travel on her own, she would always return.
This time, she simply disappeared from my life and my whole world changed. I lost not only my connection with her, but all the presence, love and acceptance of hundreds of relatives in Mescalero and Oklahoma. When she was 15, Decoy was raped by an year-old man. She became almost completely silent and withdrawn.
Contemporary Native American Cultural Issues
Among American Indian and Alaska Native women, I have been blessed to have the ability to absorb and produce almost any artistic form. Creator chose me as a vehicle for these things, is all I can say.
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Side by side with that I am a courageous, tenacious, kind and ferocious spirit.