The Power of Serendipity

“Serendipity refers to looking for one thing and stumbling over something else that proves to be of greater value.”


The CBS News article, The Power of Serendipity, gives fascinating examples of instances of serendipity that span numerous fields of interest, including the entertainment industry, medicine and science, food, toys and much more.  Click on the link below to read the full article. 

Native American Suzan Harjo to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Native American Suzan Harjo is best known for her work on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the American Indian Religious Act, but she is also a writer, curator and activist who has advocated for improvement of Native American lives.  In recognition of her work and contributions, she has been chosen as an honoree to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

President Barack Obama named 19 honorees on November 10 to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.  These individuals are those who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

The awards will be presented at the White House on November 24.

Read the full article from Indian Country Today Media Network at:

Alaska Governor signs bill recognizing 20 Native languages as official state languages

At the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention on October 23, 2014, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell signed House Bill 216 – legislation designating 20 Native languages as official languages of the State of Alaska.  Before that legislation, Alaska had just one “official” language: English.  The governor signed the bill before hundreds of cheering Alaska Natives.  The mood was emotional and jubilant. 

Alaska Dispatch News provides more information in their news article:   


Seattle changes Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Seattle joins a growing number of cities officially recognizing Native American history.
Columbus Day will now be known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Seattle.

The Seattle City Council on Monday unanimously approved the re-designation, which acknowledges that Native Americans were living in North America well before Christopher Columbus “discovered America” in the 15th century, Reuters reports.

The change, which will go into effect before the Oct. 13 holiday this year, marks the second major city in the U.S. to officially re-designate the day, after Minneapolis’ vote in April. (Though the city of Berkeley, California, ceased observation of Columbus Day in 1992.)

“Nobody discovered Seattle, Washington,” said Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp in remarks to the council. “This action will allow us to bring into future and present a day honoring our rich history.”

The change faced some opposition from some members of Seattle’s Italian-American community, who view the day as a celebration of their cultural heritage (Columbus hailed from Genoa, Italy).

The Seattle School Board voted last week to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Columbus Day on the same day in public schools.

Original article from Time,


Native American law professor named as Fellow of MacArthur Foundation

Sarah Deer, a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota and a member of the Muscogee Creek Tribe, has been named as one of 21 Fellows of the MacArthur Foundation for 2014 to receive a “genius grant.”  Each Fellow will provided with a grant of $625,000 over a five year period to spend as they wish on work and research.  

Sarah Deer’s focus has been on violent crime on Indian reservations and has documented in academic scholarship the historical and ideological underpinnings of the failure to adequately protect victims of physical and sexual abuse in Indian Country.  She played an instrumental role in the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, as well as testimony which is credited with the 2010 passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act.  

She has stated that she would likely spend the stipend she receives from the MacArthur Foundation on a project involving native women who have been victims of sexual assault.

For more information, please visit the KGOU website, which is part of the NPR digital network:

To learn more about the MacArthur Foundation, with a listing and bio of all 21 Fellows for 2014, visit the MacArthur Foundation website at:

International Tribunal on the Abuse of Indigenous Human Rights


The Blue Skies Foundation will host a forum for and about Indian boarding school survivors – the first event of its kind in the United States – on October 22nd through the 25th, 2014, at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, in Oneida, Wisconsin.  The forum is co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center; Human Rights Action Center, Washington, DC; and others.

The forum will focus on the experiences of Native children who were forced at early ages to attend Indian boarding schools.  A panel of qualified Native judges will be listening to the witnesses as they provide first-hand testimony of the abuse and mistreatment they suffered at the hands of the federal government and religious institutions while being forced to live away from their families and Nations.

The forum will provide boarding school survivors the opportunity to share their stories with the public, as well as a panel of distinguished judges who will provide conclusions and recommendations at the end of the tribunal.  Testimony also will be filmed to create a permanent record of survivors’ accounts.  The Foundation will host a live stream of the forum from its website.

The event is open to the public and admission is free.

For more information on this event, please visit the Blue Skies Foundation website at:


Native American Billy Mills To Be Honored At Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon

The fourth running of the Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon set Sept. 14 will honor the 50th anniversary of Billy Mills’ victory in the 10,000 Meter Run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Mills remains the only American ever to win the Gold Medal in this distance running event.

In the half century since his victory, Mills has raised over $100 million to benefit Native American children through his foundation Running Strong for American Indian Youth.

Running Strong provides in-kind support for the Santa Fe nonprofit Global Running Culture’s programs to improve the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education.

Global Running Culture focuses its programs in three communities where running continues to be a vital part of the local culture: Matunget, Kenya, Copper Canyon, Mexico and Northern New Mexico.  The volunteer-run nonprofit founded the Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon in 2011 as its primary fundraiser and as a destination event, which last year attracted runners from 30 states and seven countries to Santa Fe.

“I am proud to be associated with an organization that shares my commitment to helping the next generation have the opportunity to succeed,” Mills said in a press release.  “I have participated in the Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon and encourage runners to experience the unique cultural features and beautiful downhill course.”

Winners will receive autographed copies of Patricia Mills’ painting, Wings of an Eagle.  Her works are displayed in the World Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Global Running Culture will donate a portion of race proceeds to Running Strong in Mills’ honor.

Story from —

For a full bio on Billy Mills, visit the California Indian Education website at:

Carlisle Journeys: American Indians in Show Business

carlisle journeys1

Image from


How The Carlisle Indian School Influenced The Entertainment World Yesterday And Today

The Cumberland County Historical Society is planning the first in a series of “Carlisle Journeys” biennial  conferences for the Fall of 2014 entitled “Carlisle Journeys:  American Indians in Show Business.”   The Carlisle Indian School students who made their way into films, shows, and theatres will be discussed by their respective biographers.  The influence and banning of the Wild West Shows is another area to be explored in the conference.  Contemporary entertainers will also share their own experiences, including the influence of the Carlisle and other boarding schools, on their craft.  

Speakers at the conference include:

  • The 1941’s, a Native American sketch comedy group
  • John Sanchez who recently served as the Academic Director of the American Indian Leadership program at American University in Washington, DC.  He now teaches in The College of Communications at Penn State University where his research interests are focused primarily at the intersection of contemporary American Indian cultures and the American News Media. 
  • Larry Sellers who is a Native American actor/stuntman.  He commonly portrays Native American characters such as his role on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman as Cloud Dancing.
  • Dovie Thomason, a storyteller of traditional stories that are the cultural “heartsong” of community values and memory.  Dovie unfolds the layers of her indigenous worldview and teachings with respect, humor and rich vocal transformations.  Her work, “How the West was Spun” will be featured at the conference.      
  • Linda M. Waggoner is an independent historian and former lecturer in American Multicultural and Native American studies at California State University Sonoma.  She is the author of books and publications focused on Native American history.

The conference is to be held October 10-11, 2014 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  Attendance to the conference and tours are free, but registration is required.

For more information, please click on the link to Carlisle Journeys:

New rules proposed by Obama administration would help more tribes become federally recognized

 thunderbird1Image from

There are currently 566 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.  However, there are still well over 200 tribes that remain unrecognized by the federal government.  That might change under the proposed new rules by the Obama administration that would give more tribes a faster track at joining the ranks of the recognized by making it easier to prove their legitimacy.

For more information, click on the link to the Seattle Times to read the full article:

Street newspapers

real change

Image by Jerry Gay from

I love street newspapers.  The definition of street newspapers, according to Wikipedia, is that they are newspapers or magazines sold by homeless or poor individuals and produced mainly to support these populations.  In addition to being sold by homeless individuals, many of these papers are partially produced and written by them.  

Most street newspapers provide coverage about homelessness and poverty-related issues, although the local street newspaper here in Seattle, which is called Real Change, also covers local, regional and sometimes even national and international stories.   The quality of journalism of a street newspaper may surprise you and they cover interesting stories from a different perspective that may not get much attention from the mainstream media.  

I have found the street newspaper vendors that I have come into contact with to be friendly, courteous and grateful.  I always buy a copy of the local street paper when I can because not only is Real Change a great newspaper, I also am helping a fellow human being create a better life for himself or herself.  

So the next time you see a person selling a street newspaper, consider buying a paper.  You can enjoy reading the news and also feel really good inside, knowing that you were part of a constructive avenue for a struggling person to provide for themselves.         

Click on the link to access the website for the Seattle street paper, Real Change: