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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 26, 2002 - Issue 54


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Indian Gifting

by Vicki Lockard
credits: Storyteller by Leland Bell

To recognize the end of our second year of publishing Canku Ota, I decided to write an article about the generosity of Indian Country. It seems that so often we only hear, and write about, the negatives. So, now, let us celebrate the unsung heroes.

Most of us have heard stories of the great Indian leaders. Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph, Geronimo, and on and on. But, do we know what it really takes to become a leader?

A true leader, in Indian Country, gives. He gives of his time, his advice, and his "worldly goods." Traditional leaders often live in poverty because of their giving. Sharing with others is the responsibility of every tribal member. If someone is in need, help is found, and given.

That tradition has continued into this century. Over the past few months, there have been some wonderful stories of giving to those in need.

September 11

Within hours of the attack of the World Trade Center, donations from Indian Country began to flood in.

Within 24 hours, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians council met with the American Red Cross to donate $25,000 to enable them to fly their disaster team to New York.

Others soon followed suit with cash donations, including: Agua Caliente, $250,000; Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, $100,000; Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, $100,000; Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians, $200,000; Mooretown Rancheria, $25,000; Table Mountain Rancheria, $25,000; Tulalip Tribes, $100,000; San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, $500,000; Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, $25,000; Viejas Tribal Council, $25,000; Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, $25,000; Forest County Potawatomi Community, $100,000; Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, $25,000; and Mohegan Tribe, $1 million. (This is only a partial list; check Victor Rocha's Internet News Digest,, for updated information.).

Santee Sioux

Then, there's the story of the Santee Sioux tribe in Nebraska. The following is an excerpt by Roger Trudell, Tribal Chairman of the Santee.

"The Department of Justice (DOJ), has seized all available non-trust assets of the Santee Sioux Tribe to pay fines imposed on our tribe for operating Class III gaming without a tribal-state compact. (To date we have been unable to obtain such a compact with the state of Nebraska, and the state refuses to consent to a judicial resolution of this issue). We have had to appeal to our brother and sister tribes this season for assistance with food and clothing for our elders and children.

The DOJ seized nearly everything, including the tribal grocery store account, the bake sale proceeds for our elder care program, and even funds from a tribal Head Start program for child education. The Justice Department also initiated an unsuccessful federal trial to imprison our tribal council members, and unilaterally blocked the processing of federal grant applications submitted by the tribe for things such as law enforcement and tribal courts.

Also brutally devastating has been the Justice Department’s repeated refusal of our urgent requests to stop seizing loans, grants, and other assets that the tribe could acquire for non-gaming economic development. As a result, for over two years no person, bank or other institution will do business with the Santee Sioux Tribe for fear that any assets devoted to tribal projects will be seized by the DOJ to pay fines.

In an effort to gain relief from this life-threatening stranglehold, the Santee Sioux tribe, acting on the express advice and support of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), ceased its class III gaming, and began offering Class II pull-tab dispensers and Class II paper bingo. The NIGC responded by promptly rescinding its closure order that had been issued against the tribe."

The reality of this action was that the Santee had no operating money. With the holidays approaching, other tribes decided to act, and help. Here is a copy of the letter that went out.

Dear Tribal Friend:

The Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska is in dire need of our help for the Christmas holidays.

As you probably may know, the Department of Justice seized the Santee Sioux tribe’s bank accounts and sued to close the tribe’s gaming operation because the tribe has been unable to get a tribal-state compact.

What you may not know is that the Department of Justice took everything.
Not only did they seize tribal bank accounts but they took the funds from a tribal grocery store, their bake sale funds for their elder care program and a fund used to pay for child car safety seats!!

It is a daily struggle just to ensure the basic necessities for their children and elders and getting through Christmas will be especially hard.

There is one thing you cannot do – you cannot send money directly to the tribe or it will just be taken away.

Write check to: "Tribal Relief Fund"
Send check to:" Tribal Relief Fund" c/o Mr. Roger Meyer, Casino Morongo Accounting Department, 49750 Seminole Drive, Cabazon, CA 92230.

All monies collected will be used to purchase food and necessities through local stores or to be shipped to the tribe. Here is the request list they sent us that we are using as our guide:

FOR ELDERS (79 Tribal Elders) : Turkeys, hams, food baskets, winter coats, gloves

FOR YOUNG CHILDREN (540 Children): Apples, oranges, gloves, winter coats and candy

FOR THEIR TEENS (121 Teens): Gloves, stocking caps, winter coats

It gets bitterly cold in Nebraska and so warm coats, blankets, sweaters, gloves will be especially precious. We are coordinating a central effort so as to ensure minimal duplication. If you have any questions, you can call Damon Sandoval at 909-849-4697 or Waltona Manion at 800-937-7692.

All tribes who send contributions will be listed in a summary we are sending to the Santee Sioux and we will provide the names of donating tribes and individuals to the media and for posting on Victor Rocha’s website

Thank you in advance for your generosity to a tribe who will be deeply grateful for your assistance. And this comes with our best wishes for a happy holiday season you will have made better for Santee Sioux tribal families.

With sincere appreciation,

Damon Sandoval, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, California
Anthony Miranda, Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, California
Tracy Burris, Chickasaw Nation, and Chairman, Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association
James Starr, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
Wilson Pipestem, Otoe-Missouria Tribe, Oklahoma

And, here's a partial list of the contributions that flooded in to help the Santee.

Morongo Band of Mission Indians (CA) donated $27,000 ** The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians (Temecula, CA) donated $10,000 ** NIGA donated $1,000 ** Walkyrio Amorim (Los Gatos, CA) donated $20 ** Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, LLP (Washington, DC) donated $500 ** Prairie Island Indian Community (Welch, MN) donated $10,000 ** Alyssa Sandoval (Banning, CA ) donated $250 ** Harriet & Christina McNally donated $100 ** Ken & Debbie Krol donated $20 ** Kent Appel donated $200 ** Victor Rocha (Los Angeles, CA) donated $200 ** Monteau & Peebles gave $50,000 in services ** Ietan Consulting, LLC donated $1000** Americash donated $500 ** Seneca Cayuga Bingo Hall donated $500

Trust Fund Monies

And, then, there's the story of the Indian Trust Fund. As reported in previous issues, the Department of Interior shut down all of their computers. This action meant that ALL funds were cut off. The story below is another example of gifting.

RAPID CITY - In black jeans, a blue-gray flannel shirt and black baseball cap, Michael Jandreau, chairman of the Lower Brule Sioux, hardly looks like Santa Claus. But he and the tribe were overflowing with the Christmas spirit of generosity in December.

A Dec. 5 federal court order stemming from the Cobell v. Norton class action suit against the Department of the Interior shut down computers used to pay Indian trustees when it became apparent hackers could enter the network used to track the assets of 300,000 Indians.

The shutdown meant $15 million in trust payments were held, including funds for social programs for the poorest northern plains tribal members.

"The payments aren't much, less than $400. But it was really heart-breaking to think these people would not get any money before Christmas," said Cora Jones, regional director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Aberdeen. "I have never been through anything so heart-wrenching."

Into the breach stepped the Lower Brule Sioux, who underwrote about $500,000 in payments to trust recipients. "We agreed to do it as a service to others," Jandreau said. "In our culture, an essential part of it is what you must do for each other, in spite of the differences between you."

He said the tribe wrote 4,600 checks to trust recipients in North and South Dakota. "We did have the money to cover that until we were reimbursed," he said. "We have a decent financial system, and we could pursue this quickly."

Jones called it a godsend.

"They have a great financial system out there," Jones said. "We were looking at every which way for help we could. Then they came along ... To me, the gesture was just outstanding."

American Indian College Fund

Then, there's the story of how the Shakopee Mdewakanton's have just donated to the American Indian College Fund:

... Last week, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Prior Lake, Minn., donated $900,000 to the college fund, marking the first tribal donation in the fund's history.

"This gift is very significant in Indian history, because it marks the first time a tribe has committed to supporting scholarships for American Indian students across the country," said Richard Williams, the Denver-based fund's executive director. "We deeply appreciate the care and generosity of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux to support education for all Indian people."

Canku Ota (Many Paths)

And, finally, but certainly not of less importance is the generous help that people from all over Indian Country have contributed to us. Your help is allowing us to share your writings, art and music has allowed us to celebrate another year of publishing. Additionally, the help of those who promote us is invaluable. Lastly, the support of you, our readers, keeps us keeping on. It seems that the tradition of gifting is enduring, even in these hard times.

Pidamaya yedo to all of you.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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