New York School to Get Rid of Redskins Mascot

The members of Lancaster Central School District Board of Education in New York recently voted to get rid of the offensive Redskins mascot of a public school in the county. The decision was met with opposition among students. The president of the board of education, Kenneth Graber, stated, with a masked reference to the Washington, DC football team of the same name, that the achievements of students, athletes, and faculty did not happen “because of a word or a symbol”. You can read the entire editorial here:

Wild Grain Bars Recipe

Chef Jerome Grant from the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe kitchens at the National Museum of the American Indian was shown how to make delicious wild grain bars by a cook from Minnesota’s Red Lake Nation. The bars are gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan, and now you can try them out for yourself by following the recipe at The Washington Post, or below.

  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup roasted, lightly salted hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup hulled, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup golden flax seed
  • 3 cups dried wild rice (not a wild rice/brown rice blend)
  • 1/2 cup dried red quinoa, preferably Native Harvest brand
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, preferably full-fat
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups tart dried cherries

Pour oil into a heavy-bottomed pot to a depth of at least 2 inches. Heat over high heat to 410 degrees; it will take a while to come to temperature.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flax seed evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for 3 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice. Transfer to a large, wide mixing bowl to cool.

Pour 1 cup of the wild rice into the fine-mesh strainer. Carefully lower it into the oil for about 3 minutes or until at least half of the wild rice has puffed (showing white). Drain and immediately transfer to a heatproof bowl lined with a few layers of paper towels. Fry a second cup of rice in the same manner, and the third, adding them to the bowl. Turn off the heat.

Transfer 2 tablespoons of the fry oil to a wide skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the quinoa, spreading it evenly. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, shaking the skillet once or twice; you’ll see some of the quinoa jump, and about half of it will pop (showing white). Scrape it into the bowl with the puffed wild rice.

Generously grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with fresh oil; line with parchment paper as well, if desired.

Combine the coconut milk, honey, maple syrup and dark brown sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; cook undisturbed for about 20 minutes, until the temperature of the mixture reaches 237 degrees. To test the consistency, spoon a long, thin streak on a clean work surface; wait a few seconds, then swipe your index finger across it. When you pinch your finger and thumb together and pull them apart, the syrup should create a thin string.

Add the cooled puffed wild rice and quinoa, the salt and the dried cherries to the seed mixture. Grease a spatula with cooking oil spray. Pour half of the syrup into the bowl, stirring with the spatula to coat, then add the remaining syrup. Toss/stir until the mixture is completely coated.

Quickly transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, pressing and packing it firmly. If the mixture seems to be setting up too fast, pop it into a low-heat oven for 5 minutes.

Let cool for 2 hours before cutting into 15 or 18 pieces.

School District Removes Redskins Mascot after Boycotts

A New York school district has decided to remove its Redskins mascot, despite supporters defending it as a source of pride.  The change comes after several districts with Native American students cancelled lacrosse matches due to the mascot. Kimberly Nowak, a board member for the Lancaster Central school district, said of the issue, “There is no pride in having schools boycott playing our sports teams.”  However, many students do not support the change.  Student Torie Dombrowski remarked, “This is our school.  We are Redskins.”  Several other schools throughout the country have removed the term, as it is considered to be a racial slur against Native Americans.

To read more about it in The New York Times, click here.

Rez Ball

rez ball

Members  Fort Defiance community come out to support the Fighting Scouts.

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In an area where the population is 6,000 people, 4,500 of them fill the arena to cheer on the Window Rock High School Fighting Scouts. Reservation basketball, also known as “Rez Ball” is the highlight of the community, bringing out not only parents, but neighbors and grandparents to support the high school basket ball stars. Because the reservation in Fort Defiance, Arizona is so small, it lacks movie theaters and bowling allies, so Rez ball is their only source of entertainment.

Played slightly different from the well-known sport, rez ball is done more aggressively, transition-based with quicker scoring. The style in which its done varies based on reservation; however, it is heavily influenced by the way the original style of the sport is played. There are high school teams who are officially recognized for playing it in California, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

To read the full story about a Rez ball team in Arizona, click here.

Erica Marshall, Winter Intern

Indigenous Advocate dies from cancer at 67

The daughter of an Italian-American father and an Onondaga mother, Tonya Gonnella Frichner was a college professor, lawyer, and “global voice for Native Americans”. On February 14th she passed away from breast cancer, according to her husband Herbert Frichner.

With a mother who worked to promote a Native American curriculum and an uncle who was a chief of the Onondaga Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy, she was raised to speak against the dehumanization of indigenous peoples across all reservations. Some of the issues she advocated for were hydrofracking, and the tomahawk chop, a celebratory tradition for the Atlanta Braves. She believed that the action of invading indigenous peoples territories and “illegitimately” claiming their rights is something worth fighting for.


Tonya Gonnella Fricher speaking at Syracuse.

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As a professor at New York University, City and Hunter Colleges of the City University of New York, Frichner taught American Indian history and law, anthropology, and human rights. She also founded the American Indian Law Alliance where she served as North American regional representative to the United States Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Because of her mother’s influence, Frichner’s life to dedicated to advocating for Indigenous peoples’ right to be treated like what they are, humans.

To read the full article from the New York Times, click here.

Erica Marshall, Winter Intern

North and South Dakota U.S. Attorneys Step Down


Brendan Johnson (left) and Timothy Purdon (right) listening to a testimony in court.

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Known as the “Dakota Boys”, U.S. Attorneys Brendan V. Johnson and Timothy Q. Purdon are stepping down from their positions to go into private practice together.  Serving together as chairs for the past four years, they worked on a Justice Department panel that looks after the interests of Native Americans. Advocating to improve the conditions of the reservations that are historically known for poverty, violence, and high suicide rates. More specifically, a law is currently being promoted that allows the Navajo judicial system on reservations to prosecute non-Native Americans who commit crimes associated with domestic violence on the reservation.

For the first time in over 50 years, the Attorney General is showing genuine interest in improving conditions in all 566 reservations as he went to visit Pine Ridge, a reservation in South Dakota. While the Dakota Boys are going to be missed, the strides made for reservations under their leadership are undeniable and hopefully this train continues to move as the relations between the US and tribes slowly but surely improve.

dakotaboysTo read more about the accomplishments of the Dakota Boys and how it impacts the Navajo Nation, click here.

Erica Marshall, Winter Intern