Just Announced: “A Tribe Called Red” Summer Tour Dates!

Ottawa-based Aboriginal DJ group, A Tribe Called Red, has just announced their upcoming Summer ’12 tour dates!  I am thrilled that they will be returning to New York City on May 31st for a performance at SOBs!  (I will definitely be there…let me know if you will, too!)

Here are the dates the group has scheduled so far.  I highly recommend you check them out!  An “Electric Pow Wow” is something everyone should experience at least once…if not regularly! 😉

May 3: Toronto – Drake Underground
May 4: Vancouver – W2 Café
May 12: Ottawa – Electric PowWow @ Babylon
May 26: Montreal – Festival Sight&Sounds @ Eastern Bloc
May 31: NY – SOBs
June 19: Winnipeg – Winnipeg Jazz Fest

Sign up for tour updates and newly scheduled shows on their Facebook events page.  I suggest you post a comment there and request a tour date for your city…people are already starting to do so!  Maybe ATCR will be able to stop by a venue near you!

Check out the profile piece I shot/produced/edited about A Tribe Called Red (featuring commentary from Native American arts + culture journalist, Vincent Schilling) and the growing “traditional Native culture remix” movement – I think I may coin this term 🙂 – after meeting up with the group during ImagineNative in Toronto last fall!


National American Indian Heritage Month is almost here!

Happy Native American Heritage Month!

November is National American Indian Heritage Month!

If you’ve never heard of American Indian Heritage Month or don’t know about the history of it, here’s some background, according to the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs:

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

Early Proponents

One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.

The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.

American Indian Tribes

State Celebrations

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of N.Y. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.

Heritage Months

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.

So, what are you going to do to celebrate? Here are some ideas: (They may sound trite at first, but they are really festive and could be a lot of fun!)

1. Rent or buy a movie that is by/for/about Native Americans and watch it with your family or close friends. Here are some of my favorites: Smoke Signals, Skins, and Lakota Woman.

2. Use a recipe for traditional or modern Native American foods and have a pot luck dinner with friends. For example, beans, squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, wild rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peanuts, avocados, papayas, and chocolate!

3. Take an online Native American trivia quiz. Then, tell your friends, family and co-workers to take it and see who scores higher.

4. Take a trip to a reservation near you or if you’re due for a vacation, consider visiting a reservation in another state.

5. Buy or check out from your local library a book written by a Native American author and read it. Then, pass it along or recommend it to a friend.

6. Visit a Native American museum such as the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York City or Washington, DC, The Autry National Center in Los Angeles or a museum or cultural center near you.

7. Google search Native American related events in your area. Here are some in Washington, DC.

8. Listen to Native American music.

9. Read up on modern Native American history, including political movements and activism.

10. Check out my YouTube channel and support a Native American journalist!

There are hundreds of ideas out there, but these should get your creative juices flowing. Feel free to share some more ideas in the comments section!

Happy National American Indian Heritage Month!!!


Rangel Lends Support to NY Assembly Candidate Robert J. Rodriguez

Rep. Charles B. Rangel and New York state 68th district candidate Robert J. Rodriguez (D) greet early morning commuters on Wednesday (Photo by: Amy Stretten)
“It’s a beautiful day in El Barrio,” a campaign volunteer shouted over a blaringly loud megaphone to early morning passers-by walking near the No. 6 subway line entrance. “Meet Harlem’s new dream team.”

Wearing pressed suits, snazzy ties, campaign buttons and large, unnaturally perky smiles, state assembly Democratic candidate Robert J. Rodriguez (D) and Rep. Charles Rangel shook hands with commuters while wishing them a good day on their way into the 116th and Lexington Avenue subway station early Wednesday morning.

Rangel, who had won the primary against Adam Clayton Powell IV, was there to support Rodriguez, a candidate who is running to fill Powell’s empty seat as well as campaign for his own reelection. Ironically, Powell stepped down as state Assemblyman representing the 68th Assembly district – the same seat Rodriguez hopes to fill – in order to run against Rangel. To add an even bigger twist, Rangel had supported Rodriguez’s opponent, John Ruiz, during the primaries. Ruiz is now on the Working Families ticket, though he is not expected to win the race.

While he had held meet-and-greet events with morning commuters during the primary, this was Rangel’s first appearance with Rodriguez, according to Bob Liff, Rangel’s press contact.

Rangel expressed his confidence in the duo’s campaigns. “We’re running hard and we don’t take anything for granted. That’s why we’re out here,” Rangel said. “We’re out here asking the people for their support in the general election.”

Volunteers in plain clothes only identifiable by their matching Rangel and Rodriguez campaign buttons accompanied the candidates. The squad eagerly ushered passers-by to shake hands and take photos with the two local politicians. Many hesitantly met the two men while others eagerly pleaded strangers to take a photo of them with the “dream team” despite the fact that they would probably never see the photo again.

Yale educated Rodriguez, who is a native of East Harlem and of Puerto Rican decent, made his commitment to his community clear. “State government in Albany has been ignoring the needs of New Yorkers – particularly New Yorkers in this area. I think there’s no question, the demographics don’t lie. We still have the lowest income levels, the highest rate of health disparities. We can’t continue to have the highest percentages within all of those categories and say that those issues are being suitably addressed,” Rodriguez said.

East Harlem’s unemployment rate currently rests at a staggering 14%, while the national unemployment rate is 9.5%. Rodriguez hopes to lower the community’s unemployment rate to at least that of the national average.

Rodriguez, who’s campaign website gives only a few pieces of information about the candidate, comes from a political family. His late father, Robert Rodriguez Sr., represented City Council district 8. In 2009 Robert J. Rodriguez unsuccessfully ran for his father’s seat.

As chairman of Community Board 11, Rodriguez helped pass the East River Plaza mall project in hopes of bringing jobs to East Harlem. Campaign volunteer, Emma Jackson, believes that projects such as this do bring jobs to East Harlem – but to outsiders – not to community members. She hopes Rodriguez will change things for the better.

“He’s young. He’s got energy. He comes with the least amount of personal and professional and political baggage, which means he doesn’t have to give into a lot of things that some of the other candidates have to,” Jackson said. “And, I think he can be more open and listen to the people and hear their concerns.”

Michael Steele Cancels NABJ Appearance Last Minute

Sign posted outside the ballroom at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego where the plenary pannel discussion was going to take place


I was shocked not really that surprised to see that RNC Chairman, Michael Steele, was not going to be at this afternoons’s plenary. After spending the early part of my day attending one workshop after another and spending what seemed like forever in the career fair, I really wanted to skip the event altogether and take a nap. But I had a nagging feeling that some sort of drama would ensue – and I wouldn’t miss that for the world! I thought it rather funny (ironic) that Steele backed out and almost hilarious that his people attributed his absence to “food poisoning.” Come on…really?? Give me a break!

Check out the press release NABJ just sent out below:

Michael Steele, RNC Chairman Cancels NABJ Appearance

July 30, 2010 – San Diego, CA – National Association of Black Journalists Convention Convention Chair, Elise Durham was informed by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s advance team earlier that Michael Steele was cancelling his panel discussion scheduled for 4:00 p.m. today because of food poisoning.

The RNC statement reads, “While traveling out West the Chairman came down with a bad case of food poisoning. He is disappointed to miss the opportunity to take part in this valuable dialogue and looks forward to engaging with NABJ in the very near future.”

Steele was scheduled to appear at NABJ one day after former USDA Regional Rural Director Shirley Sherrod indicated that she will take legal action against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who she said caused her to lose her job. Sherrod, who appeared before hundreds of journalists at the NABJ Convention yesterday, was forced to resign after Breitbart posted a video excerpt of a speech she gave to the NAACP and accused her being a racist.

Steele is scheduled to appear at a RNC fundraiser with Breitbart in California next month.

When asked by Durham if there was any relationship between his cancellation and the fundraiser, Special Assistant to the Chairman, Joey Smith said, “We don’t comment on our finance events and never have.”

This begs the question, “Is Steele really suffering from food poisoning or is he trying to avoid speaking to a room full of hungry journalists waiting to pick him apart?”



Native American Journalists Association thanks conference goers for a successful event

2010 Native American Journalists Association Conference Logo

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – In an e-mail to it’s members, NAJA says thank you for helping make the 2010 Native Nations Media Conference a success:

We would like to thank all of our members, presenters, mentors, students and everyone else who contributed to our successful 2010 conference. It was great to see new and familiar faces in St. Paul, and we look forward to meeting with you all again next year!

Thank you!

For a list of the winners of this year’s Native American Journalists Association awards, click here.


Native Journalist meets the US Surgeon General at Families USA Health Action 2010 Conference

Amy Stretten, Dr. Regina Benjamin, and Reza Clifton at Health Action 2010 in Washington, DC

I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Reza Clifton (Blogger, New Media Producer, Radio Program Host, and DJ) who was at Health Watch 2010 representing UrbanHealthWatch.net. We were both very excited to meet US Surgeon General, VADM Regina M. Benjamin who gave a very uplifting and inspirational closing speech. Here’s a video of her speaking about obesity. She, along with Michelle Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (who also spoke at Health Action 2010) announced plans on January 28th to “help Americans lead healthier lives through better nutrition, regular physical activity, and improving communities to support healthy choices.” (HHS) In her speech at Health Action 2010, Benjamin called for all Americans to focus on being physically fit at any size and not focus on being too thin. This is a much more realistic goal for many (especially younger women and girls) who tend to fall prey to the latest diet trends that, while they may cause a loss of weight, are anything but healthy.

“Americans will be more likely to change their behavior if they have a meaningful reward–something more than just reaching a certain weight or dress size. The real reward is invigorating, energizing, joyous health. It is a level of health that allows people to embrace each day and live their lives to the fullest without disease or disability.” – VADM Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., Surgeon General


Final Day of Health Action 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – Today is the last day of the Families USA Health Action 2010 conference. Also today, at 10:30am is the American Indian Health Policy workshop called “Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going.” From the conference agenda:

American Indians and Alaska Natives experience some of the most significant health disparities in the United States. This workshop will discuss the state of Indian health care today, health reform provisions that will address these disparities, and how these changes will be implemented.

Donald Warne, Oglala Lakota (of the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairman’s Health Board) moderated the discussion and Jennifer Cooper (National Indian Health Board) and Cara Thunder (American Indian Community House) presented.

Moderator Donald Warne (Oglala Lakota/Sioux), Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board

Video of Cara Thunder speaking:

Video of Jennifer Cooper speaking:


Amy Stretten, Winner of the 2010 Consumer Health Advocate of the Year Award!

Consumer Health Advocate of the Year Award

WASHINGTON, DC – Families USA awarded me the Consumer Health Advocate of the Year award at the Health Action 2010 conference!…Well, me and the other hundreds of registrants who were in attendance, to encourage us all to continue to advocate for health care reform.