Protecting natural resources protects our communities — access to clean air and water, the quality of our neighborhoods, and an irreplaceable cultural legacy that gives sacred meaning to the places we live.

The Santa Clara River, named Utom (“phantom river”) in Chumash, is one of those sacred places threatened by decision-making that prioritizes profits over our health, heritage and the future of our communities.

Calpine Corp. has applied to the California Energy Commission to build the Mission Rock Energy Center, a 275-megawatt, natural gas-fired power plant on the banks of Utom.

To prevent approval, the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, a Native-led environmental nonprofit, in partnership with Earthjustice has intervened. Wishtoyo and Earthjustice are working to ensure the animals, plants and people who depend on Utom are represented throughout the review process.

Utom is more than the stretch of open space off the side of Highway 126. It is a sacred place where Chumash people have lived since time immemorial, building villages, holding ceremonies and burying loved ones.Today, we still honor our river and remember a time, not long ago, when Utom was healthy and abundant and people lived in reciprocal relationship with its resources.

The plants along Utom’s banks are still gathered traditionally for baskets, medicine and other culturally significant purposes. The quiet and isolated banks provide a place for reflection, escape and appreciation of nature — the sound of clear, flowing water over the rocky river bed and thick beds of willow make you forget the existence of the highway.

Such a place is increasingly rare in a time when most inland waterways are confined to concrete channels surrounded by chain-link fences. Calpine’s dirty power plant would permanently change the landscape of the Santa Clara River Valley and destroy Utom’s ecosystem, destroying the ability of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to experience a pristine place in their own home.

You can smell Utom in the air. However, if approved, the power plant would emit a variety of harmful toxins, including 400,000-plus tons of carbon dioxide emissions, into the air every year. That’s the same as burning over 400 million pounds of coal. The plant would likely be the largest source of toxic emissions in Santa Paula (which already fails to meet state and federal air standards and is a state-designed environmental justice community).

The health and success of populations of endangered animal species, like the southwestern willow flycatcher and the Least Bell’s Vireo — riparian birds that nest along the banks of Utom near the proposed project site — would be jeopardized by pollution emitted from the facility and transmission lines built for it.

How can we stand by when a project threatens the health of our community and the survival of an entire species? At a time when California is moving toward clean, renewable energy, why would we knowingly take a step backward toward obsolete fossil-fuel infrastructure?

To protect Utom, the commission must deny Calpine’s application, just like it recently did in Oxnard with NRG’s application to build the Puente Power Project. Here, just like there, a power plant is unnecessary.

Wishtoyo and Earthjustice are committed to protecting Utom, but we can’t do it alone. With the well-being of our communities and future generations’ quality of life at stake, the risks are too great to stay silent.

Make your voice heard. Submit public comment about the CEC’s Preliminary Staff Assessment at an upcoming public workshop in Santa Paula. Demand that the CEC deny Calpine’s application to build this dangerous and unnecessary power plant. Join us in the fight to protect Utom.

Mati Waiya, a Chumash ceremonial elder, is founder and executive director of the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation.

"As a Native American student the opportunity to study at Oxford was one of the greatest blessings in my life"

In 2016 the University of Oxford commissioned a portrait of Kelsey Leonard, the first Native American woman to earn a degree from the institution. The portrait was unveiled in the exhibition 'The full picture: Oxford in portraits', which runs through January 7, 2018. After the exhibition the portrait will be moved to a permanent location in the Exam Schools. This is the first portrait of its kind and the first portrait of a Native American alum by a Native American artist to be unveiled at the university.

A portrait of St Cross alum Kelsey Leonard has been included in the Bodleian's exhibition 'The full picture: Oxford in portraits', which features more than 20 paintings, drawings, and photographs commissioned earlier this year as part of the Diversifying Portraiture project led by the University's Equality and Diversity Unit.

In its information about the exhibition, the Bodleian states, "Hundreds of portraits of exceptional individuals hang on the walls of the University of Oxford: shaping our past, making visible our values for the future, and helping shape the present environment. 'The full picture: Oxford in portraits' displays new portraits of a diverse range of people selected from over a hundred nominations of living Oxonians."

The portrait of Kelsey is unique in many ways, but one that cannot go unmentioned is the biography of the artist, her sister, Courtney Leonard. Courtney is an artist and filmmaker, whose work is an exploration and documentation of historical ties to water, whale and material sustainability. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and her artistic practice investigates narratives of cultural viability as a reflection of environmental record. It was a perfect choice by the Diversifying Portraiture project to select Courtney to paint the portrait of her sister Kelsey, the "water scholar" to fully capture their Indigenous culture as Shinnecock, which means "People of the Shore".

Kelsey Leonard represents the Shinnecock Indian Nation as the Tribal Co-Lead on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body of the U.S. National Ocean Council. This planning body consisting of tribal, federal, and state entities is charged with guiding the protection, maintenance, and restoration of America's oceans and coasts. As a Shinnecock citizen and environmental leader, Kelsey strives to be a strong advocate for the protection of Indigenous waters through enhanced interjurisdictional coordination and meaningful consultation.

She has been instrumental in protecting the interests of Tribes with the development of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan and building a sustainable ocean future by valuing Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge. This unprecedented partnership with Tribal Nations for regional ocean planning is a testament to tribal sovereignty but also an important step towards ensuring federal trust responsibilities. She received a Peter Benchley Ocean Award in May 2017 for 'Excellence in Solutions' for her contributions to the U.S. National Ocean Policy and regional ocean planning.

Kelsey Leonard explained the significance of her portrait, stating: "As a Native American student the opportunity to study at Oxford was one of the greatest blessings in my life, but it came with many challenges. One of the greatest challenges was leaving my family and Indigenous community to live and learn at an institution where I was the only Native student. Oftentimes, I was the first Native American many Oxford faculty and peers had ever met. After becoming the first Native American woman to graduate from the University there are now scholarships for Native students to attend Oxford where none previously existed. The portraiture project is the next step in building an Oxford that is representative of the global student body so that we may see ourselves reflected throughout the University's symbolism. Moreover, I hope my portrait inspires other Native scholars to pursue studies at Oxford and for those who do end up walking its storied hallways I hope they find comfort in the portraits knowing they too belong and are not alone in their journey."

Kelsey is the first Native American woman to earn a degree from the University of Oxford. She matriculated at St. Cross College in 2010 and studied Water Science, Policy, and Management at the School of Geography and the Environment. Prior to attending Oxford, she received her B.A. (2010) in Anthropology and Sociology from Harvard University. After Oxford, Kelsey Leonard went on to receive her Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law. In 2016 she was recognized by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development as an emerging leader in Indian Country for her leadership, initiative, and dedication.

Leonard blends her Indigenous rights advocacy with water scholarship at McMaster University where she is a distinguished Philomathia Water Policy Fellow. Leonard's current research examines the norms, dynamics and mechanisms that underlie the management structure, composition, and politics of Indigenous water governance and how Indigenous Nations bordering Canada and the United States build resiliency in response to ecological changes and altered human activities. Leonard's work is centered in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin and investigates the interjurisdictional coordination of Indigenous Nations, the United States, and Canada for transboundary water governance.

The Leonard sisters are enrolled citizens of the Shinnecock Indian Nation.

The exhibition is running in Blackwell Hall in the Weston Library until 7th January 2018. Admission is free and no booking is required.


“She was looking at the sunglasses and the chips. I was laughing so hard” “About 30 minutes later, here comes the deer again with her whole family”

Three weeks ago, a mother deer wandered into a Colorado store, and left Lori Jones with the most amazing up-close wildlife shots.

Jones, who works at Horsetooth Inn and RV Park in Stout, CO, said she was at the store when the mother deer waltzed in to check out the offerings. After perusing the sunglasses rack and the potato chips, Jones was able to “lure her outside with a peanut bar,” she told 9NEWS.

Jones thought that was the end of the curious deer, but she was in for a surprise.

Later, Jones was “in the office checking the store stock,” she wrote to 9NEWS. “I walked out and there she was with her twins and a lone buck that she nursed. I just used my phone to snap the pics.”

Jones said she “laughed so hard” seeing the inquisitive brood perusing the store. But between her laughs, she was able to snap some incredible close-ups of the deer mom and her babies.

Image credits: Lori Jones 

The four-legged customers probably aren’t that unusual for Jones – especially in a town that boasts an unofficial population of 47 1/2.

Ernie LaPointe, Sitting Bull's lineal great grandson, tells his great grandfather's oral history. In this film clip he tells who the family holds most responsible for the death of Sitting Bull.

Full two part DVD series available at This clip is from part two of 'The Authorized Biography of Sitting Bull By His Great Grandson".

Throughout history, the name “Sitting Bull” stands out. But Ernie LaPointe lets his audience know that this is a created name and that his great grandfather’s true name, Tatanka Iyotake, is actually Buffalo Bull Who Sits Down. In his presentations, Mr. LaPointe introduces himself and traces his connection to the famous, but incorrectly remembered, Lakota (“Allied to All Living Things”) leader and medicine man.

Then Mr. LaPointe, answers audience questions about ceremonies whose meaning and protocol he continues to perform and perpetuate. And he shares stories and cultural values passed down to him from his mother, a medicine woman. For example, in the Lakota language, there is no word for freedom because it is already here. And there is no word for goodbye.

The Lakota culture is learned through storytelling, being shown by example, and by looking and listening to the elders. Raised in the 1950’s, when it was against the law to burn sage or sweet grass or even sing sacred songs, the culture went underground.

 In 1992, when Ernie LaPointe was told it was time to speak, he “came out of the shadows” to talk about his ancestors and his culture.

Since then Mr. LaPointe’s presentations have been standing-room-only, including his lecture series in Germany and Finland, speaking to anthropologists and professors at Toledo University, addressing Native American groups at the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame, and appearing for the Smithsonian Associates in Liberty, New York: “Yours is the only presentation to receive a standing ovation from college professors and high school history teachers. You really educated the educators about Lakota culture.” Wally Mertes.


The Navajo Nation mourns the loss of Navajo Code Talker Teddy Draper Sr. and offers condolences to his family. Draper passed away shortly after 7:00 a.m. this morning in Prescott, Arizona. Mr. Draper was 96.

The news of his passing comes a little more than a week after the Nation lost Navajo Code Talker George B. Willie Sr. With the tragic news today and with the passing of each Code Talker, our Nation is reminded of the importance of our warriors. As of this time, there are 10 Navajo Code Talkers still remaining.

“The Office of the Navajo Nation President and Vice President offer condolences on behalf of the Nation to the family of Code Talker Draper,” President Russell Begaye said. “With the passing of each Code Talker, our Nation mourns these heroes and living treasures.”

Draper was born in Canyon Del Muerto and resided in Chinle, Arizona. He was part of the 5th Marine Division, fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima and received a Purple Heart as well as a Congressional Silver Medal.

“The Navajo Code Talkers used our language to save this country during World War II,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “This is an example of the importance of passing down our language to our children. We are grateful and remember Teddy Draper not only for his efforts on the battlefield but in the classroom as well.”

Draper was known as a proponent of the Navajo language and taught language classes at Rough Rock Community High School. His legacy in language preservation is handed down in the materials he produced that have become a part of Navajo language curriculum in schools like Navajo Preparatory School and Dine College.

President Begaye recognized the Draper and the Code Talkers as great Navajo Warriors who deserve all the recognition they receive. The Nation and Navajo people need to highlight their heroic accomplishments by creating a museum in their honor, he said.

“As a nation, we need to dedicate ourselves to make this happen,” he said.

Although the Nation mourns the recent passing of two Navajo Code Talkers, President Begaye calls on every Chapter to celebrate the legacy of the Code Talkers by continuing to support their efforts.

“Whether it’s on the Nation or internationally, let’s support all they do, however, we are able to,” the president said.

The Nation will fly the flags at half-staff to honor the life and legacy of Teddy Draper Sr.

Details as to funeral arrangements are not known at this time, however, more information will be provided as it is received.