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Homes and hearts opened to Katrina victims

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  • Homes and hearts opened to Katrina victims

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    Homes and hearts opened to Katrina victims

    (javascript:PrintWindow();) Posted: September 06, 2005 by: _Brenda
    Norrell_ ( / Indian Country Today
    From Tahlequah to Washington state, American Indians respond in the
    spirit of compassion

    NEW ORLEANS - American Indians opened their homes and pocketbooks, while
    others boarded buses and fire trucks as medics and firefighters, to help in
    Louisiana and Mississippi, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and its storms.

    Cherokee Nation Firedancers from Tahlequah, Okla., departed for New Orleans
    Aug. 29, the day the hurricane struck.

    ''They will help out with the cleanup and pass out food; they'll do anything
    that is needed,'' Mike Weaver, dispatcher for the Cherokee Nation
    Firedancers, told Indian Country Today. Weaver said the men and women of the
    inter-tribal team will serve two weeks in New Orleans aiding in recovery efforts.

    Coushatta Casino Resort, 25 miles northeast of Lake Charles in southwestern
    Louisiana, provided funds, food and supplies to hurricane victims and
    evacuees pouring into the region. The Coushatta Tribe's casino is donating a portion
    of the proceeds from upcoming special events, while providing food and water
    to shelters in Kinder on a daily basis.

    ''What we saw on the news was total devastation. Many men, women and
    children will be without homes, food and clothing for weeks to come. Our casino
    associates were quick to reach out to those who sought shelter in Allen Parish,''
    said Stuart John, interim general manager at Coushatta Casino Resort.

    American Indian tribes across the country are now sending water and supplies
    and raising funds for disaster relief. The aid is also coming in a personal,
    heartfelt manner from across Indian country.

    One-quarter of a million refugees arrived in Texas, where Steve Melendez,
    Pyramid Lake Paiute and president of the American Indian Genocide Museum, and
    his wife, Cheryl, were among those lending a helping hand in Houston.

    ''Steve and I live down the street from the George R. Brown Convention
    Center. It breaks my heart to hear the concerns of these mothers and fathers,''
    Cheryl told ICT.

    ''I look around the center and think, 'Is this America?' and maybe it is.
    Here we are the real people, not government. The real people from all races,
    all religions, caring for our fellow human family; just doing the right

    Robert Free Galvan, longtime American Indian activist, opened his home to
    Mississippi Choctaw who are homeless since the hurricane and willing to
    relocate. ''We could probably take in 10 to 15 people,'' Galvan said of his
    two-story family residence in Seattle.

    ''It would be a bit crowded, but a large family and friends could be
    together. It's better than some hot, muggy area in a crowded hotel somewhere.

    ''I am offering to Natives first, to allow cultural comfort as part of
    healing and recovery. Even though I am unemployed, my rooms and home could be put
    to use to help in time of need and there are schools close by.''

    Galvan said even though he is unemployed, at least he still has a home.

    In the spirit of compassion, the Sweetgrass Cinema Native Film Festival at
    Northern Michigan University, Sept. 14 - 16, will be raising funds for
    Hurricane Katrina victims.

    Festival organizer and Native poet Allison Hedge Coke, Huron/Tsa La Gi and
    NMU English faculty member, received an unexpected King-Chavez-Parks project
    grant to host the festival, after returning from the XV International Poetry
    Festival in Medellin, Colombia.

    Coke said the Sweetgrass Foundation and Sigma Tau Delta are working together
    to raise funds for Katrina relief throughout the film festival.

    ''It is homecoming week and there is a diversity institute held
    simultaneously, so we are hoping to have an abundance of people attending and on-hand to
    donate while enjoying Native films and being thrilled by the Native
    filmmakers,'' Coke told ICT.

    ''Rick Schroeder just e-mailed with his blessing,'' Coke said of the
    producer of ''Black Cloud,'' among the films at the festival, on Labor Day. Film
    presenters include Chris Eyre, Randy Red Road, Brent Michael Davids and Sterlin

    On Sept. 5, Robin Carneen was hard at work to help. Carneen is a Swinomish
    freelance journalist who broadcasts on NAMAPAHH First People's Radio from the
    Skagit Valley Community College in Mt. Vernon, Wash. With youth co-host
    Jerome Edge, Swinomish descent and enrolled Upper Skagit, Carneen hosts a
    bi-weekly Native American news and music program.

    ''We pride ourselves on keeping up on the 'Indian Times' on and off the rez
    and we offer local, national, no-borders and international focus on our
    program at NAMAPAHH First People's Radio,'' Carneen told ICT.

    ''We wish to express our heartfelt wishes for speedy and immediate relief
    for the victims of Katrina. I have set up a special message board for those who
    are looking for ways to help or can offer help and where media/radio folks
    can find out information and helpful PSAs.''

    The message board is located at
    [email protected].

    In Washington state, the Tulalip Tribes and Tulalip Amphitheatre organized a
    Hurricane Aid Benefit and Barbecue for Sept. 11 at 3 p.m., with all ticket
    proceeds going to hurricane relief. The Tulalip Tribes pledged to add matching
    funds of 100 percent. The American Red Cross is designated as beneficiary.

    The concert includes blues greats Curtis Salgado, Duffy Bishop, Nicole
    Fournier and Lee Oskar. Local vendors, including Staffpro, Seattle Stage Lighting
    and Equipment, Rhino Labor, Hollywood Lights and Point Source Audio, agreed
    to donate their services at the event.

    Tulalip Tribal Chairman Stan G. Jones Sr. responded to the needs of the
    hurricane victims.

    ''The victims of this disaster are in desperate need. Those of us who are
    more fortunate must do what we can to help. We are grateful to the musicians
    and their production crews for donating all proceeds to the Hurricane Katrina
    relief efforts of the American Red Cross. We have pledged to match every
    dollar raised at this event.''

    For more information on the event, visit

    The Tunica-Biloxi in central Louisiana at Marksville responded immediately
    and opened their convention center to 500 refugees. The Seminole Tribe of
    Florida also responded immediately, sending an emergency crew, ambulance and fire
    truck to the Mississippi Choctaw, departing from southern Florida Aug. 29,
    the day the hurricane struck New Orleans.
    Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic

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