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The Starry Spacewalks of Commander Herrington

Before boarding the space shuttle Endeavour to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) in 2002, Cmdr. John Herrington had a Native American engineer at the Kennedy Space Center smudge him with sweetgrass and sage outside of the astronaut crew quarters, appropriate for the first Native American to fly in space.

And when he went into orbit, Herrington, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, brought two treasured objects with him: an eagle feather and a flute. Read more…

Blackfoot LIGO Researcher and Lead Operator Shares in Excitement of Gravitational Waves Detection

An artist's impression of gravitational waves generated by binary neutron stars.

An artist’s impression of gravitational waves generated by binary neutron stars.

After 100 years of scientific inquiry into whether cataclysmic astrophysical events unleash gravitational waves into the fabric of space-time as theorized by Albert Einstein, scientists announced their detection of these ripples of gravity on September 14, 2015, using a pair of giant detectors known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). They announced their momentous discovery to the world on February 11.

Mother Earth Journal illuminates this wondrous event in a conversation with Corey Gray, a Siksika Nation (Northern Blackfoot) member and physicist at the LIGO located at the Hanford Observatory in Washington state, one of two such facilities in the United States. The other is in Louisiana. Read more…

Q&A with Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on Rights of Indigenous People

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People (Wikimedia)

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

When Filipino Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Igorot) was appointed the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People June 2, 2014, she became the first woman and the first indigenous person from a developing country to hold this three-year position. As such, she brings unique perspectives to the UN’s human rights mandate to assess the condition of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read more…

Blackfeet Battle Oil & Gas Developer for Sacred Badger Two-Medicine Site

FB-WatersoftheBlackfeetThe Blackfoot Confederacy, opposed to energy development in the sacred Badger–Two Medicine area, located at the wild intersection of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex in Montana finally won.

Home to the Blackfeet origin story, the Badger–Two Medicine cradles sacred mountains with powerful names such as Morning Star, Scarface and Spotted Eagle—names drawn straight from the beginnings of Blackfeet culture.

It’s a place of power, where America’s prairie runs headlong into the Rocky Mountains, and it is known as Miistakis, the Backbone of the World, where the Blackfeet began. This is the place of the Sun Dance, the Medicine Lodge, the wolf and wolverine, and the grizzly bear.

“It’s a wild, undeveloped landscape in a very sensitive area of wildlife habitat,” said Tim Preso, an attorney with the ecology law firm Earthjustice. Read more…

Ocean’s Rising Acidification Dissolving Shellfish Tribes Depend On

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The ancestral connections of tribal coastal communities to the ocean’s natural resources stretch back thousands of years. But growing acidification is changing oceanic conditions, putting the cultural and economic reliance of coastal tribes—a critical definition of who they are—at risk.

It’s a big challenge to tribes in the Pacific Northwest, said the late Billy Frank Jr. (Nisqually) back in 2010, addressing the 20 tribes that make up the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

“It’s scary,” he said in a video posted at the fisheries commission website. “The State of Washington hasn’t been managing it. The federal government hasn’t been managing it. We’ve got to bring the science people in to tell them what we’re talking about.” Read more…

Choose Your Poison Carefully

Navajo elder drinks contaminated water. Courtesy Forgotten People

Navajo elder drinks contaminated water.

 

Arsenic Link to Diabetes Strengthens With Each New Study

Arsenic, even for a poison is one nasty brew. Long-term ingestion of the metallic substance can result in thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, numbness in hands and feet, partial paralysis and blindness. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies inorganic arsenic as a Group A human carcinogen, and since the ‘90s, exposure to it has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes mellitus. Read more…