August 2014

Native Newsbites – August 2014


Buwah Kwi wa Tewha Project at Santa Clara Pueblo

Guided by traditional teachings, Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE), a nonprofit organization based at the Pueblo of Santa Clara in northern New Mexico, works on cultural restoration and reclamation projects within the pueblo, and also on environmental issues within the pueblo’s ancestral homelands.

The Cerro Grande and Las Conchas wildfires destroyed 78 percent of Santa Clara’s watershed, including sacred sites, leaving the community in a precarious position in regard to some cultural teachings and experiences that must be passed on to future generations. The pueblo’s residents have been mourning their loss and looking to traditional lifeways that can be revitalized.


One ancestral practice, which included planting, growing, harvesting, processing and cooking, provided a healthy food source, but ended in the 1930s. Buwah is a form of finely ground corn made into a batter and skillfully cooked on cured cooking stones using a variety of ingredients and methods. The bread is paper thin and rolled to represent the shape of an ear of corn. HOPE is building a Buwah Kwi wa Tewha, a women’s bread house made of adobes, vigas and earthen floors, with structures for the cooking stones and a ventilation system. A greenhouse will eventually be added. The house is intended to rekindle a lifeway that can empower women and girls from the pueblos to gather, cook and recapture cultural practices.


For more information or to make a donation, contact HOPE’s director, Marian Naranjo at 505.929.2151; or


Cochiti Pueblo Receives EPA Grant for Stormwater

The Pueblo of Cochiti has received $60,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prepare a plan for integrating green infrastructure into land-use planning and improve its stormwater management. The EPA also awarded $60,000 to the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) to design a rooftop vegetable garden using rainwater for irrigation. “Investing in green infrastructure pays off for our environment and our economy,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “It reduces water pollution and energy consumption while creating jobs.” The EPA has awarded $2.2 million in green infrastructure grants to 37 communities over the past three years.


New Resource for Native Programs in New Mexico is a new website built around a searchable database of Native American nonprofits and tribal programs that serve Native communities in New Mexico. The

database is designed to help community members find services, help funders find programs they might want to support and help Native programs find others with whom they may want to partner or collaborate. The site also includes pages where Native programs can list open staff and volunteer positions and upcoming events. Native nonprofit or tribal New Mexicobased programs can register at the site. For more information, call 505.670.7900 or email


Native American Cultures in NM App Released

Did you know that a pre-Thanksgiving feast took place at Ohkay Owingeh in 1598, years before the Pilgrims made it to the East Coast? A free iPad application, created by New Mexico State University’s Learning Games Lab and funded by NMSU’s American Indian program, is the first app to offer history, geography and facts about New Mexico’s American Indian tribes. Inspired by a board game, the app is designed to offer a fun educational experience for Native and non-Native people interested in learning about the state’s 22 pueblos, tribes and nations. Officials with NMSU’s American Indian program are working with developers, so the app can be downloaded to other tablets and smartphones. It is currently available through the Apple App Store.


Navajo Language App

Native Innovation, a Native-owned technology company based in Flagstaff, Ariz., has released the Navajo Keyboard app to allow smartphone users to practice their skills in the Navajo language through text messaging and social media. The app comes loaded with all of the traditional Navajo characters and 65 phrases to help beginners through basic conversation. It can also be used as a primary keyboard. The Navajo Keyboard was first made available to iPhone- and iPad users and then released for those who use Android.


Wisdom Ways of the Grandmothers

A national project to preserve the stories, practices, herbal remedies and other traditional birth practices is being launched this summer at Taos Pueblo. Tribal elders, who maintain this knowledge, are being audio- or videotaped in their Native language, sometimes with an English translator. The recordings are then made available to tribal members. Young women interested in these practices and midwifery are being recruited from various tribes to assist with interviewing the elders. Madrona Bourdeau and Erin Bad Hand initiated the project. Bourdeau is a Haudenosaunee grandmother and midwife. Bad Hand is an author and daughter of Howard Bad Hand, a Lakota singer and medicine man. To learn more or to make a contribution in support of the project, call 575.779.7571, email or visit


Acoma Business Enterprise LLC Developing Farm Produce Plan

USDA-Rural Development has provided a $75,000 grant to Acoma Business Enterprise LLC (ABE) to create a plan for marketing produce grown by Native American farmers. The money is being used to develop a comprehensive business plan and a marketing study to create a Native Food Hub, which will be the first of its kind in the nation. The food hub will be a location where producers can deliver their goods for processing and distribution to markets. Rural Development officials say that some Native farmers find that at the end of the growing season they have a lot of unsold or unused produce.

ABE is owned by the Pueblo of Acoma, which has a casino, hotel and tourism enterprise, including a cultural center. ABE applied for the grant funding at the request of the 10 Southern Pueblos Council because of the company’s capacity to create the plan and administer implementation of marketing produce grown in the 10 pueblos.


Study Examines Birth Rates in the Ancient Southwest

A report recently released by Washington State University researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that, across the Four Corners region of the Southwest between 500 to 1,300 A.D., a time when there was extensive farming of different types of corn and beans, hunting with bows and arrows, and food storage, there was a baby boom and life spans were relatively long. The researchers were surprised to find that societies in southern areas that were dependent on river-fed irrigation had a lower birth rate than those in the north, who were dependent on dry-land farming. They speculate that people drinking from ditches might have been exposed to water-borne illnesses.

Sites like Chaco Canyon in northern New Mexico reached their maximum size in the early 1100s, just before one of the longest known droughts in the Southwest. Then, a crash followed and conflicts raged. The northern Southwest had as many as 40,000 people in the mid-1200s, but within 30 years it was empty. Tim Kohler, an anthropologist who co-authored the report said, “This offers a warning sign to the modern world about the dangers of overpopulation. Perhaps the population had grown too large to feed itself as the climate deteriorated. As people began to migrate south to the middle Río Grande and Arizona, that may have made it harder to maintain the social unity needed for defense and for building new infrastructure.”


Fort Sill Apache Receive New Mexico Recognition

In April 2014, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the state to recognize the Oklahoma-based Fort Sill Apache Tribe, formerly known as the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apaches. They—including Geronimo—had been forced from their tribal land in New Mexico in 1886. Currently, 147 New Mexico residents identify themselves as Fort Sill tribal members. The tribe owns 30 acres along Interstate 10 near Deming, where a restaurant and smoke shop are located. The tribe has tried to start gambling operations there.

Governor Susana Martínez’s office issued a statement disagreeing with the ruling. The Governor’s Office view’s the tribe’s bid for recognition as a step toward opening a casino, which would compete with existing Native American–owned casinos in the state. Tribal Chairman Jeff Haozous has said, however, that the primary goal of the lawsuit that resulted in the ruling was to be able to join other tribes at the annual state-tribal summit, where it can plead its case for resources to improve human services and infrastructure to benefit its members. Haozous said he also hopes the ruling will encourage younger generations to relocate to New Mexico.


Legislators Challenge Navajo Water Rights Settlement

A 1948 compact among New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming allocated San Juan River water to members of the Navajo Nation living in New Mexico. Despite the agreement, the Navajos have never received the water. In 2010, a settlement was negotiated based on the compact and signed by then-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Attorney General Gary King. The agreement gives the Navajos rights to an additional 130,000 acre-feet of water for farming, above and beyond the 195,400 acre-feet they already use.

In August, 2013, a district judge in San Juan County approved the deal, but in May, 2014, three state legislators—Sen. Steve Neville (R-Farmington), Rep. Paul Bandy (R-Aztec), and Rep. Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe)—and Jim Rogers, a farmer and officer of the San Juan Agricultural Water Users Association, filed suit in the New Mexico Supreme Court seeking to invalidate it, charging that it should have been presented to the state Legislature for approval. Amy Haas, chief counsel for the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, has disputed that interpretation.


Infrastructure Needs on Tribal Lands

Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project Underway

According to a report that the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department presented to the state Legislative Finance Committee last month, when it comes to developing infrastructure on tribal lands in New Mexico, the greatest need is buildings for administration, cultural activities, seniors and daycare. Other infrastructure needs are related to water, wastewater and solid waste. Sixty-one percent of Navajo Nation chapters need those services.

One result of the Navajo Nation San Juan River Basin Water Rights Settlement is that the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project will deliver water from the San Juan River to eastern sections of the Navajo Nation, a portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the city of Gallup. The Obama administration’s proposed budget calls for an $80 million investment in the 10-year project. In April 2014, $20 million was awarded for construction of the first pumping station, to be built in the Twin Lakes area over the next two years. Two additional segments are scheduled to go out to bid this year. The state of New Mexico is providing a large cash match toward the federal obligation for the main pipeline, but, according to New Mexico Secretary of Indian Affairs Arthur Allison, it will be the responsibility of the Navajo Nation and its 54 chapters in New Mexico to cover the tremendous—and unknown—cost of building pipelines to distant communities.


Native American Treatment Center at Taos Pueblo

Native American youth rank high in teen pregnancies, suicides, unemployment and substance abuse. A new, 25-bed, adolescent residential treatment center is now operating at Taos Pueblo under the auspices of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council (ENIPC). It is a place where Native youth, primarily from the eight northern pueblos, can recover from problems with substance abuse and mental health. Many of the youth will be court-ordered to the center for 90-day stays. Treatment there will be culturally specific, reflecting Native beliefs, and the staff is Native American. Native community members are invited in to teach skills. Outpatient programs that include families follow the youths after their release. ENIPC’s Circle of Life program also operates a 14-bed substance abuse residential treatment program for men, New Moon Lodge, at Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo.


New Santa Ana Pueblo Wellness Center

In an effort to combat rising rates of obesity, diabetes and other health problems that plague Native American communities, in April 2014, Santa Ana Pueblo broke ground on a $20 million health and wellness center. The pueblo, along with corporate and private donations and state capital outlay, has funded the project.

Native adults are twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. American Indians and Native adults are 60 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites.

The health and wellness center will offer a fitness center, basketball courts and a family recreation area as part of the first phase of a wellness project. There will also be a room for childcare and a commercial kitchen and demonstration area where healthy eating habits will be taught. A computer lab and library are planned for a later phase of the project. The center has been designed so it can also serve as an emergency shelter during disasters such as wildfires and flooding.


First Native American on a Major-Party Ticket for Governor

Debra Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo tribal member, is the Democratic Party’s nominee for New Mexico lieutenant governor, on the ticket with Gary King, who is running for governor. She would be the first Native American to hold statewide gubernatorial office if the Democrats win on Nov. 4.


Haaland, 53, is chair of Laguna Development Corporation’s board of directors, the first woman elected to that position. She is also a tribal administrator for San Felipe Pueblo, where she manages a variety of programs and departments while directing and assisting the tribal administration’s interests.


Haaland is a member of the 2014 class of Leadership New Mexico. She graduated from law school at the University of New Mexico and formerly chaired the Native American Democratic Caucus of the state Democratic Party. She is a member of the party’s Platform and Resolutions Committee and was the author and primary advocate of the successful, 2005 NM Senate Bill 482, which provides in-state tuition to enrolled New Mexico tribal members regardless of residency. During the 2012 election cycle, Haaland was the state Native American vote director for Organizing for America New Mexico. As a grassroots community organizer, businesswoman and administrator, she says she brings to the campaign a passion for the state and an understanding of its people and their problems. Her website is




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