Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lenny Foster on “Make No Bones About It. 2-7-2016, 4pm



In May of 1972, a group of spiritual leaders involved in the American Indian Movement (AIM) went to Minnesota’s Stillwater prison to perform a traditional Native American Pipe Ceremony. For 23-year-old Lenny Foster, one of the youngest AIM participants, this powerful experience would set the direction for his life’s work. “It had a profound impact on me,” he says. “I could see the hope on [the prisoners’] faces. I felt so good that I could pray in my native tongue. That was fate. Destiny.” Recognizing the importance of traditional Native American religious practice as a source of strength and a necessary means of cultural preservation, Lenny has spent the last 28 years fighting to ensure that incarcerated Native Americans have the right to worship with access to their traditional ceremonies.

Lenny grew up in Fort Defiance, Arizona, with his mother and his father, a Navajo code talker during World War II. Lenny attended an Indian school as a day student and lived with his grandparents on a traditional Navajo sheep camp over the summers. “This traditional upbringing serves as a foundation of who I am today,” he says. “I’ve made it my calling to go to institutions where Native Americans are incarcerated and share it with those who didn’t have the opportunity to learn the traditions and to draw strength from their spiritual heritage.”

After trying out unsuccessfully for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm team, Lenny went to Arizona Western Junior College and then to Colorado State University. In college, he had his first exposure to the civil rights movement. “People were talking about riots in Detroit and Malcolm X and Martin Luther King,” Lenny says, “and I was wondering—where do I fit in?” Lenny joined the American Indian Movement.

In 1970, he was involved in the occupation of Alcatraz and, in 1972, in the Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan and the Bureau of Indian Affairs take-over in Washington, D.C. He took part in the 71-day protest at Wounded Knee in 1973. In 1978, he participated in the Longest Walk, a seven-month journey from Alcatraz to Washington, D.C., to protest proposed legislation that would eliminate the federal government’s fiduciary responsibilities to American Indian nations.

In 1981, as a graduate student in public administration, Lenny volunteered in the Arizona State prisons, where he constructed the first prison sweat lodge in the Southwest. Eventually he realized that his heart lay in this work, and he left his graduate program to pursue it full time. In 1983, the Navajo Nation tribal government began to support his efforts to provide spiritual counsel to incarcerated Native Americans. Today, as the Spiritual Advisor and Director of the Navajo Nations Corrections Project, he is responsible for the traditional spiritual guidance of 1500 inmates in 89 state and federal penitentiaries. “Many prison administrators don’t want Indian people to succeed. They are threatened by the return to spiritual beliefs and want to deny Indians the right to rehabilitate themselves through spirituality,” he says. He is troubled by the high rate of suicide among Native American prisoners, especially juveniles. “We’ve been made to feel ashamed—our long hair has been cut, our sweat lodges have been bulldozed, our eagle feathers have been broken—this results in so much pain and anger.”

Lenny draws strength from the growing support of the outside world for his cause. “I was overwhelmed to hear that Petra Shattuck, a German-American from the East Coast, was working for American Indian rights. I can say this much better in Dine,” he says, “but to be, through her life, drawn into a warrior society that believes in peace and dignity—for the red nations to join in this arena and share this solidarity means a great deal to me.”

Lenny has authored and co-authored legislation protecting the rights of incarcerated Native Americans in four states in the Southwest. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on several occasions. He has been a board member of the International Indian Treaty Council since 1992. In January, 1998, Lenny’s testimony on the overlooked rights of American Indian prisoners was accepted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Later that same month, the Association of State Correctional Administrators accepted his proposal to develop standards for American Indian religious freedom within all correctional facilities.

A member of the Grand Council of AIM since 1992, a member of the Native American Church and an active Sundancer, Lenny is active in the protest of the forced relocation of the Dine people in Big Mountain, Arizona.

Lenny Foster is concerned that today’s American Indian youth are less exposed to the traditions that gave him strength. “The responsibility we have as Indian people to teach our children and youths is great—alcoholism, drugs, broken homes are everywhere—you don’t have the role models my generation had.” By offering those most in need of support the kind of spiritual guidance he had as a boy, Lenny Foster shoulders his responsibility to pass on tradition and, in so doing, to pass on strength.

Cheyenne Randall shares about his artwork on Make No Bones About It, Jan. 3rd, 2016 at 4pm


“Coyotes Lair” mixed media on panel piece of art that Cheyenne made for John and his family “Celebrate Love. Celebrate Life” damn what an amazing dude.
-Cheyenne Randall

(art created by Cheyenne Randall)

The 36-year-old Seattle artist, who has been practicing Native American artwork for years, brings a special brand of creativity to classic images by Photoshopping uniquely American tattoos onto whatever skin is visible on the subjects. A Tumblr page called Shopped Tattoos showcases the artwork, as does an Instagram feed that includes more of Randall’s work and photographs. Cheyenne Randall, has created a bundle of iconic personalities from a parallel universe. One of his lates is Coyotes Lair in honor of the John Trudell.

Other sites to learn more about Seattle based artist, Cheyenne Randall.


Olympia’s first Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration set for Oct. 12 -From Olympian Newspaper

Victory Song

Victory Song

Staff writer

Olympia’s first Indigenous Peoples’ Day will be celebrated Monday with a tribute to the area’s Native American heritage.

The family-friendly event will run from 4-8 p.m. at Sylvester Park, located at Capitol Way and Legion Way in downtown Olympia. Representatives from local tribes, including Lummi, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin, Quileute and others, are scheduled to speak.

Olympia recently joined a short list of cities to declare the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This date is typically observed as Columbus Day, a legal holiday in some states that honors the arrival of European explorer Christopher Columbus in the Americas.

However, history often glosses over the atrocities associated with the arrival of Europeans: slavery, genocide and the brutal exploitation of Native Americans.

“Most Americans are in complete denial of what happened here in the Americas,” said Brian Frisina, also known as Raven Redbone, who hosts a weekly radio program about indigenous peoples on KAOS-89.3 FM. “It was a big step for the city of Olympia to make that move toward healing and reconciliation with the tribes.”

The seeds for the local Indigenous Peoples’ Day were planted in October 2014, when organizer Lucas Anderson and several supporters urged the Olympia City Council to rename Columbus Day.

One year later, Anderson is amazed at the way Olympia has embraced the concept. He hopes to see the movement spread across Washington.

“That shows a lot of people are more educated and aware of some of the things that are misportrayed in history,” he said. “Olympia is really smart to just go ahead and do this now.”

Monday’s event will start with a welcome from the Nisqually and Squaxin tribes along with songs from the Squaxin Island Drum Group, according to organizers. Other participants will include:

▪ Nancy Shippentower-Games, a tribal leader with the Puyallup Nation.

▪ State Sen. John McCoy, a Democrat from the Tulalip Nation who successfully pushed for teaching tribal history in the state’s public schools.

▪ Swil Kanim of the Lummi Nation, who is a violin virtuoso, native storyteller and actor.

▪ DouGlas Skarhoniatai of the Mohawk Nation, who will share songs and debut “Uncle Billy Says.”

▪ Olympia resident Ben Sittingbull of the Lakota Nation.

▪ The Native Student Alliance from The Evergreen State College.

▪ Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum and Mayor Pro-tem Nathaniel Jones.

Read more here:

Ta’Kaiya Blaney shares her heart on “Make No Bones About It.” at 5:30pm on 6/15/2014


12 year old Ta’Kaiya Blaney is Sliammon First Nation from B.C., Canada. Along with singing, songwriting, and acting, she is concerned about the environment, especially the preservation of marine and coastal wildlife. She travels and speaks on protecting indigenous lands worldwide from unsustainable development.


More about Ta’Kaiya Blaney