Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Northern Cheyenne in Montana and into Wyoming

From War Paint Pilot Susie...

The Tribal Road Tour is in it's last week on the road. The energy and warm welcome at our events are non-the-less. Today we visited the Northern Cheyenne people at Lame Deer, MT. A local voice/personality set up the loud speakers and music to draw attention to our visit and information tables. It did just that. So many folks came to visit and tell us they have been counted, or they haven't and wanted to know what to do. Tribal Census folks came to chat and tell us how happy they are to be helping to make their tribe count! The Tribal President, Leroy Spang, attended to accept a plaque from the Census and stayed to visit with Johnel and me. The tribe had a huge tent put up for us and had the weather cooperate with sun and light winds.

Later, in Sheridan, WY I was stopped in the grocery store parking lot by a Girl Scout leader who said her troop was working on the Census badge and how she wished we could have been there to speak to the Scouts. We gave her a stack of beautiful posters to give to the girls while they work on their Census badge. This is the pay it forward into the future. These young women will know about and appreciate the need for accurate census in the future.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Some of the cast of 1000s...

Who have made this tour possible.

While we're getting set up on the Crow tribal nation in Montana, I can take a moment and recognize some 0f the fabulous efforts along the way. I was most impressed with volunteers from the Omaha Nation Housing Authority. They even had their own Census Road Tour shirt printed!

Below: Presenting the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska their certificate from Tribal Partnership. Gina Grant, Darlene Lee, Karen Wilde & Lori McAlister. (These photos are courtesy of Lori McAlister)

Below: In Lincoln at the Indian Center. Lori McAlister, Andy Pederson, Karen Wilde, Director Clyde Tyndall, Regina Grant and Orval Poor Bear, WIA Program Assistant.

Kids please don't try this at home. Yes, those are our dedicated people handing census bags out in the middle of the street. The Tribal Road Tour wouldn't be near as successful without this kind of insanity help.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pine Ridge Reservation Welcomes the Tribal Road Tour

Pine Ridge Reservation

Back to South Dakota...Rosebud, Pine Ridge and Rapid

Before we get to the Northern Cheyenne and Crow in southern Montana, and eventually the Wind River in Wyoming, we're stopping in the expansive Rosebud and Pine Ridge tribal nations. We're wrapping up our stops in Rosebud today. The first at their tribal building and the second at the Rosebud Casino.

Here's Rosebud Sioux member Robert Moore with his hopes for his Sioux brothers and sisters.

KOLN TV Lincoln Nails It

From the concerns on tribal lands to the importance of being counted, this story gets it all in 60 seconds.

A big thank you to the Clyde Tyndall, Director of the Lincoln Indian Center, for his time and hospitality. Among its many services, the incredible people at the Indian Center serve lunch everyday to anyone who shows up.

oh, just watched it again...still a great story but they get the door-to-door census dates wrong. It's going through July 10th, not May 30.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wild Turkey and Driving do not mix

From War Paint Pilot Susie:

It was a beautiful day for an outdoor event at Santee Sioux community center. Families stopped by to ask about their Census forms. Others told us they have been counted. After school the children stopped to see what we were doing. A good time was had by all.

The highlight of the day: Karen Wilde had never seen a wild turkey and I kept pointing them out as they were driving in South Dakota and Nebraska. Karen just couldn't see them. Until near sundown on the Santee Reservation a big old tom turkey decided to take off right at the vehicle and he could have made it by us if not for the car top carrier he did not judge for clearance - Karen got to see a wild turkey up close and personal, missing the windshield by inches.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cheyenne River and Radio Power

War Paint Pilot Susie says:

April 14 - TRT drove into South Dakota and visited Eagle Butte where the Cheyenne River Sioux make their tribal home. Even there we heard from folks who heard us on KLND yesterday. About half of the people we talked with have already filled out their forms and we assured the others that Census workers will be visiting them soon, if not we explained who to contact to be sure they are counted.

Home of Sitting Bull and Chaz

War Paint Pilot Susie says:

April 13 - TRT visited Standing Rock Sioux people at McLaughlin and Ft. Yates, ND. Wind was constant sand blasting everything but the weather otherwise was beautiful. We stayed at the Prairie Knights Resort hotel at Ft. Yates and what a beautiful facility it is. they are expanding currently and doubling the size of the resort and casino. It sits on one of the highest hills on that prairie and has a view from any window that is amazing.

Charles Shoots The Enemy of Redhorse Productions and KLND-fm followed us to the events and broadcast live remotes on-air. Almost everyone came because they heard about us on the radio. Thanks to KLND and "Chaz"!

Tribal Partnership Specialist Jeff Baker and KLND's Chaz talk about the Tribal Road Tour.

Monday, April 12, 2010

If you ever wanted to know strength...

Minnie Two Shoes and Wilma Mankiller

Over the past few days Native America, and America herself, has lost two great American Indian leaders.

Minnie Two Shoes was an Assiniboine Sioux from the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. A publicist for the American Indian Movement from 1970-1976 she later worked endlessly as a team member of the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) starting in 1994 to help unlock information regarding the 1975 murder of Annie Mae Pictou-Aquash. She served several terms as a board member of NAJA, was an editor for Native Peoples from 1996-98 and in Canada for several publications, and had previously worked with the Wotanin Wowapi at Fort Peck as a writer and columnist for ‘Red Road Home’ specializing in stories on water rights, air quality, environment, oil and gas and economic development. She also a contributing writer for News From Indian Country.”

“As journalists, we are very special people, and have a very serious responsibility,” Two Shoes says. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun along the way.”

Wilma Mankiller was the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. She passed last week. Many of the staff working with the Tribal Road Tour knew Wilma well. Recently, on War Paint Pilot Susie's radio show Alter-Native Voices, guest host Karen Wilde share stories of Mankiller. As Susie says, "We could hear the emotion in Karen's voice as she told the stories and said good bye to Wilma."

Mankiller's story also made NPR, here's a rebroadcast of a 1993 interview on Fresh Air.

Mankiller was a recipient of dozens of awards, most notable the Medal of Freedom for meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States presented to her by President Bill Clinton.


From War Paint Pilot Susie:

Sunday TRT was treated to a bingo afternoon at Wakpala, SD by the Standing Rock Sioux folks. A fun afternoon was had by all, many prizes were donated for the bingo games and we gave bags of goodies to everyone there. The ladies prepared a fabulous late afternoon meal for everyone that really hit the empty spot. Some mentioned they have already been visited and filled out the Census form for the household. We are glad to hear so many are being counted and telling others about it.

Wanna Wakpala? Here's an event we found at

August 18-20:
Wakpala Traditional Pow-Wow.
Location: Wakpala Community, Wakpala, SD, Standing Rock Reservation
Contact: Wakpala District Chairman, P.O. Box 85, Wakpala, SD 57658
Info: 701-854-7201

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spirited Spirit Lake

From War Paint Pilot Susie:

Today TRT was handing out answers and goodies at the Boys and Girls Club Community Center at Ft. Totten, ND. When only a few of the local folks came into the center, Jeff Baker (Turtle Mt.) Census Partner, took the goodies to the people. He and two helpers went out to the street with shopping bags of goodies and stopped the cars and trucks to chat about Census 2010. Susie stayed inside rolling posters and filling the bags with hats, pill boxes, yo-yo's, stress balls, flashlights, key rings, lapel pins, posters, lunch bags and fans. Many folks said they had filled out their forms and returned them.

Friday, April 9, 2010

North Dakota: Fort Berthold to Turtle Mountain to Spirit Lake

From War Paint Pilot Susie:

Today was a busy day in Belcourt, ND on Turtle Mountain Reservation. TRT was stationed at the grocery store parking lot and the wind was 30mph but some 350 persons came by to get information and find out when their forms would arrive. Since all the TV commercials are directed at urban addresses the reservations and rural folks have some confusion about how they will be counted.* The local Rez Radio announced our arrival and hours several times and everyone listens to their radio up here.

*The Update/Enumerate (U/E) operation is a method of data collection conducted in communities where many housing units may not have house number and street name mailing addresses. This method will be used on American Indian reservations, colonias (usually rural Spanish-speaking communities) and resort areas with high concentrations of seasonally vacant living quarters. The U/E enumerators canvass assignment areas to update residential addresses, including adding living quarters that were not included on the address listing pages, update Census Bureau maps and complete a questionnaire for each housing unit during the same visit

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"It's been an opportunity of a lifetime."

"War Paint' census tour in Great Falls

Tribune Staff Writer

An earnest effort to encourage the Rocky Mountain region's Native American population to fill out census forms and be counted during this year's tabulation effort brought the "War Paint" tour to Great Falls on Saturday.

The 2010 Census Denver Region Tribal Road Tour, nicknamed War Paint, complete with a bright yellow and orange vehicle with feathers and an eagle painted on it, is stopping on reservations and in towns with large populations of urban Indians in an effort to inform them about the importance of being counted. Saturday's stop was at the Great Falls Housing complex on Chowen Springs Loop.

Johnel Barcus, tribal partnership specialist for the Denver Regional Census Center, said the response among Native Americans in Montana has been impressive so far.

"We're doing really good," she said.

Since Montana's reservations opted to have residents counted through a door-to-door method that began March 22, the goal of the tour's stops in the state is to let people know that the census process is safe, important and easy. The 10-question form is the key to getting funding for Native American communities, Barcus said. Susie Aikman, the producer and driver for the Denver Regional Tribal Road Tour, said that many Native Americans she has talked since the tour began Feb. 8 have been receptive to filling out the form.

"Mostly positive," she said of the reception she has received. "They understand that this is important to get federal dollars that Native people have been left out of for 500 years."

Both Aikman and Barcus said that Native Americans are traditionally grossly undercounted in the census, which is conducted every 10 years to determine the country's population, the appropriation of House seats and the disbursement of federal dollars.

Barcus said that in addition to teaching people about the importance of the Census, the tour helps Native Americans learn how to properly fill out the form. One of the crucial elements is that after marking the box by "American Indian or Alaska Native" under question nine, which asks for the respondent's race, Native Americans should write in any and all tribes they belong to. She noted that though the Little Shell tribe based in Great Falls is not federally recognized, it is recognized as a tribe for census purposes.

Aikman said that as she travels the region and teaches people about the census, she learns how Native Americans live on various reservations in different states. She already has logged more than 6,000 miles in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Montana.

"We've been in sandstorms, snowstorms, rainstorms — we've got caught in a cattle drive," she said, laughing.

"It has been exciting and exhausting," Aikman added. "It's been an opportunity of a lifetime."

Census Workers Welcomed Warmly in MT

From War Paint Pilot Susie:

Today TRT visited Ft. Peck folks at Poplar, MT and yesterday Ft. Belknap and Rocky Boy. The door to door Census has started on these reservations and a few folks told us of their positive experience with the Census workers. One elder said they were at his house for 2 hours. We ask was there a problem? He said on no problem, I cooked a meal for them and we all visited! Several folks were concerned that they have not received the form. We assured them the count has begun and someone would be visiting them at their home soon with their Census form. One elder at Poplar told us she has lived in the same home since 1969 and has never before been counted in a U.S. Census. She was very proud to be counted this year.

Driving east in Montana the highway follows the railroad and a train painted the same color as War Paint sounded his whistle as we passed.

Thanks to Johnel Barcus and Elenore Yellow Robe the events in northern Montana have been very successful. We look forward to returning to southern Montana and Wyoming at the end of April.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

War Paint Gets Great Falls' Attention

By Kay Rossi/KRTV News

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Native American population has been drastically under-counted in past census counts, so this year the Bureau is making an extra effort to get every tribal member counted.

As part of a national tour, the Bureau brought a tribal road tour vehicle named "War Paint" to the city of Great Falls on Saturday.

The vehicle will travel to ten states, including Montana, Arizona and North Dakota.

Census staff will visit each city to answer questions and encourage Native Americans to be counted.

Johnel Barcus, the Census Tribal Partnership Specialist, said, "It's not far along the lines of the Indian vote in the state and how powerful that is. Along these lines we can realize our power through numbers too. We know there are a lot more Native Americans than what has been counted."

The tour already stopped in Missoula, Flathead and the Blackfeet Reservation.

On Monday staff will visit Rocky Boy and Fort Belknap Reservations.

Barcus says being counted means more money for tribes and can even help with situations like the Little Shell Tribe that is fighting for federal recognition.

Friday, April 2, 2010

More places to visit: Missoula and Flathead, MT

From War Paint Pilot Susie:

Today, April 1, is Census Day USA. the Tribal Road Tour had a morning event at the Missoula Indian Center and the afternoon at Salish Kootanai College in Polson, MT. The local partnership folks grilled hot dogs for the crowd and even the Flathead elder who is an enumerator at 81 attended and greeted many of the attendees. It was certainly an honor to meet him and hear how excited he is to work with the Census 2010.

This week we have driven through blizzards, sand storm, sunshine, high mountains and deep canyons to visit our Native people. At one point we helped heard hundreds of black cows with real cowboys in chaps on horseback. Renee Hardin (Paiute) has been with the Tour this week and has been an exceptional support person. Thank you Renee!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Owyhee and off through Idaho to Montana

From Warpaint Pilot Susie:

Today we added an afternoon event at Owyhee, NV tribal grocery store. Winds were about 50 mph and bitter cold. Folks at the store were helpful and welcoming. PA Jolene worked with us and helped to answer local questions folks ask. Tribal liason stopped by to welcome us and tell us stories of all the Census years since 1990. It was a good day in northern NV.