Entries in Indigenous (22)


Indigenous and Inclusive: 46th Annual Stanford Powwow

The Stanford American Indian Organization (SAIO) and the Stanford Powwow Planning Committee hosted the 46th Annual Stanford Powwow on May 12-14, 2017. This "Student Reflections" video profiles several students involved in producing the event and the teamwork involved in hosting the largest student-run powwow in the nation. 
What strikes me about these bright students is their inclusive approach to celebrating and honoring indigenous cultures from around the world. Held annually on Mother's Day weekend, the Stanford Powwow honors our mothers and mother earth.  
Surrounded by the beauty of Stanford University Eucalyptus Grove, this annual event that reminds me of what makes Stanford so special to me the "intertribal" community of people. 
Congratulations to all the students who made this year's Stanford Powwow a success.
Video music: Intertribal Song by Black Lodge. 

Stanford Powwow: Water is Life

Original artwork by Jack Malotte and edited by Bernardo Velez.

As the largest of the college powwows, and one of the top 10 in the nationStanford University sees 10,000 visitors a day and 250 dancers for the annual Mother’s Day weekend event. This is the university’s 46th year hosting the event and it is entirely run by students who are part of the Stanford American Indian Organization, which was created in 1972 to abolish the “Stanford Indian” mascot.

The Stanford Powwow will be held in the Eucalyptus Grove at Galvez and Campus Drives.  All events are open to the public and overnight camping spaces are available. Donations for parking are welcome.

The Stanford Powwow begins on Friday, May 12 at 7:00 PM with the first Grand Entry of dancers and continues until 10:00 PM.  On Saturday, May 13, the 21st Annual Stanford Powwow Run, a 5K race and 1 mile youth run, will begin at 8:00 AM.  Registration for the run ends at 7:40 AM. Dancing will continue from noon until 10:00 PM.  On Sunday, May 14, dancing will continue from noon until 6:00 PM.  Also open throughout the three-day event are more than 100 arts and crafts, souvenir, information, and food booths. As a celebration of sobriety, no drugs or alcohol are allowed.

As a proud alumnus of Stanford's Native American Cultural Center, I look forward to this annual event and hope to see you there!


San Francisco Native Nations March

Idle No More SF Bay and Tribal Nations in the west are in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Indigenous grassroots leaders who are calling on our allies across the United States and around the world to peacefully March for Native American rights on March 10th. We ask that you rise in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of the world whose rights protect Mother Earth for the future generations of all.

The march will begin at 5:00 p.m. at the Federal Building at 7th & Mission. There will be a short rally there before the march to the Civic Center. The rally at the Civic Center will include a traditional California Indigenous opening with Corrina Gould, speakers on the history of Native Americans and the Federal Government, Native American leaders, and others.

This event is co-sponsored by Idle No More SF Bay and the International Indian Treaty Council

RSVP on Facebook. 

A Visitor Center for the Presidio of San Francisco

This morning the Presidio Trust, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and National Park Service celebrated the opening of the new Visitor Center at the Presidio of San Francisco. 

The Presidio of San Francisco is a 2.347 mi2 (6.08 km2) park and former U.S. Army military fort on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The park is characterized by many wooded areas, hills, and scenic vistas overlooking the Golden Gate BridgeSan Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1962. -Wikipedia

"A Park for Evenyone"

Today's festivities were truly reflective of San Francsico's diverse communities, as the opening remarks declared that this is "A Park for Everyone." The schedule of activies began with an Ohlone Welcome Dance by the Costanoan Rumsen Carmel Tribe, a portion of which is shared above and below. Other highlights included performances by the Loong Mah Dragon and Lion Dancers (portions of which are shared below); a ranger-led history walk, Buffalo Soldiers: Gone but not Forgotten; Latin fusion music by Peregrinos Cosmicos; and many other activities, including lawn games and whiffle ball!

Given all of the events outside and the beauty of the day, I didn't even make it inside the new Visitor Center. I'll have to come back and check it out another day!

Acorn Song honoring the plants and trees

Dragon Performance

Lion and Dragon Performance


Tribal Leader Advocates for Public Lands

For James Holt, Nez Perce tribal member, #OurWild is his homeland. "People need those places. They need open spaces. We can't let it get shut off." Join the movement to protect #OurWild from privatization at

For additional information and expert resources on the public lands takeover please go to WILDERNESS.ORG.


Time to Protect Bears Ears

In the southeast corner of Utah, the region known as “Bears Ears” covers nearly 2 million acres of dramatic mesas, canyons and arches (and the namesake sandstone-fringed buttes).

With more than 100,000 Native American archaeological and cultural sites, Bears Ears provides a unique connection to the ancient world. Perhaps nowhere in the United States are so many well-preserved cultural resources found within such a striking and relatively undeveloped natural landscape.

In July of 2015, leaders from five Tribes founded the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, representing a historic consortium of sovereign tribal nations united in the effort to conserve the Bears Ears cultural landscape. The five nations are committed to working together. A total of 26 Tribes have expressed support for protecting the Bear Ears region for future generations of Americans. Native American peoples are also seeking active engagement in future management of the area.

The members of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition are:

This vast stretch of wildland is arguably one of the most culturally significant places in the country, and one of the least protected. The rock art etched and painted into the steep-walled canyons and the ruins, kivas, and other artifacts—that still exist in their original context—don’t just tell a story of the ancient world, they also contribute to what makes Bears Ears a sacred place for Native American tribes to this day.

Despite its irreplaceable value, Bears Ears is under attack—threatened by looting, vandalism and development. Some politicians in Utah see this remarkable landscape as just a place to exploit, which could destroy a physical chronicle of millions of years of natural and human history.

Please ask President Obama to #ProtectBearsEarsNow


Save the Arctic Refuge

Local Alaskans speak about why it's critical to preserve the Arctic Refuge as designated wilderness.


Alcatraz Occupation Honored at Thanksgiving Sunrise Gathering

Photo credit: Alison Taggart-Barone/National Park Service

The annual Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering at Alcatraz Island was held today to commemorate the 1969-1971 occupation of Alcatraz.

There are typically two such services each year on Indigenous People's Day (a reclaimation of Columbus Day) and Thanksgiving. However, this year the first observance was cancelled due to the federal government shutdown, which closed the island to all visitors. Unfortunately, it was the first time that this event was cancelled in nearly 30 years. 

Held annually since 1975, the Alcatraz ceremony honors the protest events of 1969-1971 when the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement (ARPM) occupied the island. Currently, the annual ceremony is organized by the International Indian Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts.

I've attended this ceremony every year since I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004. Each year, I choose to celebrate thankful giving and refute thankless taking. While many American Indians outright protest the holiday, I prefer to take the time to focus on my own perspecitve of gratitude and giving values that are fundamentally inherent in my personal and professional work in philanthropy.

Checkout this slideshow of images from this morning that I took on my iPhone and happy holidays to all!


San Francisco American Indian Film Festival

I discovered this song at the opening weekend of the San Francisco American Indian Film Festival. Inez Jasper is a Canadian artist who explains that the video was filmed at her home and on her reservation, expressing self-determination in spite of a long tradition of surpressing the culture and traditions of Canada's native peoples. She's not just talking about social descrimination-- she sings to real Canadian policies and laws that forbid cultural expression under threat of arrest for decades. 

UPDATE (11/10/2013): Jasper won the award for Best Music Video. Congratulations!

A clip of the song and video promote the 38th Annual San Francisco American Indian Film Festival, which opened this weekend and runs through November 10th. The festival is held by the American Indian Film Institute (AIFI), a media arts nonprofit organization established in 1979 to foster understanding of the culture, traditions and issues of contemporary Native Americans through film.

One of the films I had the great pleasure of viewing was produced, written, edited, and directed by a colleage from NatureBridge, Miho Aida, founder of the If She Can Do It, You Can Too Project. Her film, The Sacred Place Where Life Begins, documents  Gwich’in women from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

She explains that the area is a birthing and nursing ground for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, on which the Gwich’in people who are native to this region have depended for millennia. In their language, they call this land “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins“ and since 1986, has been threatened by oil and gas development. In the film, Gwich’in women speak out for their sacred land and inspire audiences around the world to action.

One of the great things about watching the film at the festival was that Miho was able to speak at a Q&A session after the film. She shared that the entire film was made on a flip camera and iMove on her MacBook-- "Not even a MacBook Pro," she emphasized. It's encouaging to see her sharing an important message and reminding us that, if she can do it, maybe we can too?

Watch the trailer below, but also be sure to buy a copy of the DVD to see the full film, catch a screening, and most importantly, take action!


A River Runs Through It - Again

Our national parks are spectacular classrooms that change lives and fundamentally link our national and natural heritage. They remind us that people and places evolve interdependently, evident in the nation's largest dam removal project in the heart of Olympic National Park

According to a recent story on QUEST, featuring field science educators from NatureBridge, "The Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, which has relied on the river for sustenance and its spiritual traditions for thousands of years, has been fighting for nearly 100 years to have the dams removed. In the early 1990s, Congress finally authorized dam removal as a way to help restore the river and its salmon runs."

With funding secured two decades later, the dam removal process has become a learning process for scientists and water experts, as aging infrastructure across the nation will result in many more dam removals in the near future. 

The story is also an inspiring tale of resilience, for the entire ecosystem, from the salmon, to the landscape, to the local tribes and visitors that admire the stunning beauty of Olympic National Park.

Checkout these photos from my most recent visit to Olympic National Park in May 2013. The album includes pictures I took on the banks of the Elhwa River. It was remarkable to see how the water clarity changed from the headwaters to the delta. I also hiked Mount Storm King, the shores of Lake Crescent, and Marymere Falls, taking lots of pictures on my iPhone of the natural beauty of the Olympic Peninsula.