If you haven’t been summoned back to the office after the pandemic disruption, you likely will soon. The threat from COVID-19 has receded. President Joe Biden declared the pandemic “over”, even though scientists like Dr. Anthony Fauci say the reality is much more nuanced than that. Tribal offices, casinos, and businesses have a wide range of policies to address the ongoing health of their employees and patrons. Monday on Native America Calling, Shawn Spruce finds out what’s changed and what still needs to when working face-to-face with Tamara Henderson (Laguna Pueblo), chief operating officer for the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA); Montoya Whiteman (Cheyenne and Arapaho), senior director of marketing for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES); Rick Waters (Kiowa and Cherokee), executive director for the Denver Indian Center; and Lynnette Toya (Jemez Pueblo), senior human resources generalist for Amerind.
Practitioners in the Native American Church (or as we like to call it, the other NAC) officially won the right to use peyote as a religious right in 1994. Now they are working to secure environmental protections for the plant that is losing habitat to development, land use policies, and climate change. Among other things, NAC representatives call for setting aside land where peyote grows. Tuesday on Native America Calling, Shawn Spruce looks at the practice and the politics of peyote with Jon Brady (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara), president of the Native American Church of North America; Dr. Martin Terry, board member for the Cactus Conservation Institute and professor emeritus of Sul Ross University; elder Steven Benally (Diné), founding member of the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI) and co-organizer of the Annual Spiritual Pilgrimage; and Sandor Iron Rope (Oglala Lakota Oyate from the Pine Ridge agency), founding IPCI board member.
Hurricane Ian caused catastrophic damage, but most tribal members and communities weathered the storm, although they still require federal assistance. Wednesday on Native America Calling, Shawn Spruce gets an update on recovery efforts and looks at how other tribes are preparing for impending disasters with Jake Heflin (Osage and Cherokee), president and CEO of Tribal Emergency Management Association (iTEMA); Adam Weintraub, communications director for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency; and Monse Torres, radio producer and activist.
The COVID pandemic challenged every tribal leader to keep their citizens safe. Any plans they may have had for economic advancements or structural reforms were quickly replaced with life-and-death decisions about public health, business shut-downs, and conflicting priorities with surrounding government leaders. Thursday on Native America Calling, in the first of a series of discussions with tribal leaders, Shawn Spruce hears how the pandemic changed things for the foreseeable future with former White Mountain Apache Tribal chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood; Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez; and Donald Dardar, second chairperson for the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe.
Chelsea Hicks (Osage) includes her tribal language throughout the short stories assembled in A Calm and Normal Heart. She is winning praise for her debut collection described as both dark and humorous. The new detective novel Dance of the Returned by Devon Mihesuah (Choctaw) puts tribal tradition into a suspenseful contemporary light. Friday on Native America Calling, Shawn Spruce hears from both authors as they discuss works for our Native Bookshelf.
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