Wednesday, Apr 10, 2019, 11:34 am · By Michael J. Dax
After cutting their final acres of wheat in eastern Colorado, Jim and Tracy Zeorian, the husband and wife team that make-up Zeorian Harvesting and Trucking, started the process of loading their combine, header truck, and trailer to make the journey to their next job in Jordan, Mont. Even after the two trips needed to move their equipment, they were still early. The spring wheat they planned to cut wouldn’t be ready for a few weeks, but that didn’t mean it was time to rest.
After setting up camp in the small RV park tucked away on the edge of town, Jim parked their bright yellow, New Holland combine with contact information in the windshield next to the café that marks the town’s western entrance.
Tracy, a third-generation harvester, has been coming to Jordan since 1981. In those days, there were enough custom harvesters—also known as custom cutters or “Wheaties”—that they would all set-up together on the outskirts of town in makeshift camps that would disband as soon as they moved onto the next town. Many harvesters already had work lined-up, but others arrived in hopes of finding jobs, and it was common for harvesters to park their equipment in a public place so that farmers with acres to cut could easily find and hire them.
Those days are mostly over. The large, raucous harvest camps of the past are a stark contrast to the Zeorian’s inconspicuous campsite adorned with picnic table, grill and potted flowers. Back then, Jordan might have had as many as 20 crews looking for work, but in 2018, Zeorian’s was the lone combine sitting outside town.
Thursday, Feb 21, 2019, 11:34 am · By Winona LaDuke
Manoomin (wild rice) now has legal rights. At the close of 2018, the White Earth band of Ojibwe recognized the “Rights of Manoomin” as a part of tribal regulatory authority. The resolution states, “It has become necessary to provide a legal basis to protect wild rice and fresh water resources as part of our primary treaty foods for future generations.” White Earth, the largest Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota, relies on wild rice for sustenance, not only monetarily, but as “food for the spirits." This new White Earth law is similar to one adopted by the 1855 Treaty Alliance, and reflects traditional laws of Anishinaabe people.
The law begins: “Manoomin, or wild rice, within all the Chippewa ceded territories, possesses inherent rights to exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve, as well as inherent rights to restoration, recovery and preservation.”
Monday, Dec 17, 2018, 10:02 am · By Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
Back in 2001, about 100 miles west of Kabul, in the Bamiyan Valley, the Taliban rigged two towering sandstone statues of Gautama Buddha with enough dynamite to wipe them clean from the cliff they were carved into during the sixth century. Despite an international outcry, the Taliban detonated the 1,700-year old statues. They were met with condemnation, outrage and headlines the world over.
In early 2015, videos started circulating showing Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters taking jackhammers, drills and sledgehammers to ancient artifacts in the Mosul museum. Then ISIL took a bulldozer to the Mashki and Adad Gates of Nineveh, and all but toppled the 2nd-century city of Palmyra.
In the summer of 2016, members of the Battle Mountain Band of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Tribe mounted legal action against mining operations that endangered large portions of the Tosawihi Quarries—a 15,000-year-old tribal sacred tribal site in Nevada that includes ancient-stone gathering places and an ancestral healer’s trail that qualified for the National Register of Historic Places. The mining company didn’t wait for a final ruling to begin operations and irreparably damaged the Tosawihi Quarries.
Can we derive any common denominators from the events in the Bamiyan Valley, Mosul, Nineveh, Palmyra and the Tosawihi Quarries?
Friday, Oct 26, 2018, 10:07 am · By Stephanie Woodard
Silicon Valley met Indian country in Minneapolis. Over two days in early-October, longtime software developer Deepak Puri taught tribal representatives—from Leech Lake, Red Lake, Menominee, Rosebud, Sisseton-Wahpeton, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Navajo and more—to use cheap, fast, off-the-shelf technology to supercharge voter access to the polls in Indian country.
Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018, 10:52 am · By Stephanie Woodard
A major voting hurdle for Native Americans in North Dakota used to be thought of as a kind of force of nature, sort of like gravity or sunshine: Indian reservations didn’t have named, numbered streets. And without these designations on the tribal IDs that Natives carry, they couldn’t vote in the state.
There was no way around the problem. No residential address on tribal IDs meant no ballot box access for Native people—unless they were willing to undertake prohibitively long and costly drives and other hurdles to get an alternate ID. “It is a voter-suppression technique North Dakota targets at its Native population,” accuses OJ Semans, the Rosebud Sioux co-director of Four Directions civil rights group.
In September, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in a voting-rights case brought by the Native American Rights Fund on behalf of Native plaintiffs.
The court backed North Dakota’s ID law.
Monday, Oct 1, 2018, 2:00 pm · By Kaolin Sewell
Once every five years, the farm bill reauthorizes farm and nutrition programs nationwide, covering programs such as healthy food access for low-income Americans and protecting our environment.
The current version – set to expire on September 30 – took two years to finalize and cost nearly $1 trillion in its final form. The 900-page legislation set food policy for the next decade but is usually renewed every five years.
The implementation of the farm bill began in 1933 as a slice of then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. The farm bill aims to fulfill three goals – keep food prices reasonable for consumers, make sure there is sufficient food supply and to protect our natural resources.
Congressional leaders from the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives are continuing to reconcile their versions of the 2018 Farm Bill, a nearly $870 billion spending plan for programs such as trade, commodities, food stamps and conservation.
Friday, Aug 17, 2018, 12:00 pm · By Stephanie Woodard
The United States District Court for Utah has issued a powerfully worded order in favor of restoring Willie Grayeyes’s right to vote in San Juan County, as well as his right to run for a county commission seat there. Calling county officials “double-tongued,” “thimble-riggers,” and more, the court held that they had stripped fundamental civil rights—voting and candidacy—from Grayeyes, a Navajo Nation enrolled member and a long-time resident, voter, local official, and cattle rancher in the county.
It had done so with illegal means, according to the order. These included backdated files, unsigned “reports,” unidentified hearsay sources, racial bias, out and out lies, and multiple additional actions that flouted the law in an exceptionally flagrant fashion. This was consistent with decades of denying Natives meaningful access to the ballot box, said the Utah District Court.
Thursday, Aug 9, 2018, 4:00 pm · By Dani Burlison
It’s late spring, and I’m hiking Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Sonoma County with therapist, ecopsychologist, and California naturalist Mary Good. A mist is drifting down, and we have the park mostly to ourselves. In October 2017, 80 percent of Sugarloaf’s 3,900 acres of oak woodlands were scorched by the firestorms in California’s North Bay. But today, most of what stretches out before us is green and vibrant, brushed with the last signs of a wildflower superbloom that erupted from the ash earlier this spring.
A dozen miles west in Santa Rosa, contractors are rebuilding some of the more than 5,000 homes destroyed there. The last of 2.2 million tons of fire debris has been hauled away from the 383 square miles of charred land in the region. And therapists like Good continue seeing fire survivors pro bono, helping them navigate the aftermath of the disaster.
“It was an absolute trauma for everybody involved. The fire is over, but the grief may last a long time,” Good says. “We live in a time where these natural disasters are going to be happening more and more. How do you develop resilience? What do you do to feel like you can be safe in the world again?”
Friday, Aug 3, 2018, 1:00 pm · By Debbie Weingarten
By July, farmers’ markets across the country are in full swing. But for many farmers’ market managers, the mid-season momentum turned to confusion and scramble on July 9, after The Washington Post reported that a change in government contracts could leave 1,700 farmers’ markets without the ability to accept SNAP dollars from low-income customers.
Nova Dia Group, an Austin-based tech provider, processes up to 40 percent of all farmers’ market SNAP transactions nationwide. But two weeks ago, they announced they would discontinue the service on July 31 (this deadline has since been extended by another month). While Novo Dia has largely received the brunt of everyone’s frustrations these last two weeks, it hardly seems their fault. Instead, the debacle exposes a tangle of federal, state, and private entities and a failure to coordinate government technology in a rapidly evolving landscape.
SNAP customers use Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards just like a credit card. When a customer pays for groceries with an EBT card, the transaction information is sent from the grocery store to the state processing agency, and funds are deducted from the SNAP customer’s account. With the emergence of programs aimed at encouraging SNAP customers to spend their benefits at farmers’ markets, a mobile solution for card processing had to be created. That’s where Nova Dia’s MobileMarket Plus app comes in—it’s currently the only app that works on Apple systems.
Thursday, Aug 2, 2018, 11:00 am · By Christopher Walljasper
Animal slaughtering and processing operations make up a large portion of the total jobs available in rural America, meaning these jobs are some of the best options for some Americans where steady, full-time work can be scarce.
Slaughterhouses employ a half-a-million workers in more than 7,000 facilities across the U.S., and 38 percent are classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as “butchers and other meat, poultry, and fish processing workers.”
These are the people on the floor, taking live animals and turning them into the record amount of meat Americans are expected to consume in 2018. The USDA estimates more than 200 lbs. of read meat and poultry will be consumed per person this year.
While these jobs are available across the country, the largest employers operate facilities with thousands of employees in rural areas, what the BLS refers to as “nonmetropolitan areas.”