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As the calendar year comes to a close and we reflect on all that has happened this past year, it’s important to acknowledge those who have walked on and are now among our ancestors. 

At Native News Online, we know there are many important people that have inspired us as well as paved the path for us to be here. It is necessary for us to acknowledge their lives and how others can learn about them and support their families and communities. There are times when information about someone doesn’t get to us and for all of those we didn’t get to write about, we apologize and send our condolences to all who have lost someone. 

This year, we have published over 30 memorial articles for those who have passed away. Many families lost a relative to the coronavirus, and we have heard of several stories, including earlier this year when Sergeant Michael Morris, a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, died of the coronavirus as the first American Indian, active-duty U.S. armed services member to pass, while stationed in Italy. Morris served in the Air Force.

Indian Country lost several more prominent cultural, educational, political, and community leaders known for their work throughout the world including: 

Paul Brooks, former Lumbee Tribal Chairman, passed away in late January to complications with pneumonia after recovering from Covid-19. 

Julia Kabance, 111, Prairie Band Potawatomi’s oldest citizen and World War II veteran.

Marcella Rose LeBeau, 102, Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux, decorated World War II nurse, and inductee to the Native American Hall of Fame. 

Myron Dewey, 49, Walker River Paiute filmmaker, journalist, and media professor at Duke University who was arrested for a felony crime for documenting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in 2016.

Joanne Shenandoah, 64, Oneida musician who won 14 Native American Music Awards, the most ever awarded to a single artist.

Chief Leonard Crowdog, 78, Sicangu Lakota medicine man who led prayer during the American Indian Movement’s 71-day siege of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1973. Crowdog was later arrested and imprisoned at Leavenworth for his participation in the occupation. 

LaDonna Bravebull Allard, 64, Hunkpapa Lakota historian and leaders of the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016. She testified to the United Nations on stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

We pay our deepest respects to the families of the children being discovered at various residential boarding schools in Canada as well as those here, in the United States. 

Our relatives continue to go missing and murdered. We send our respects and hearts to those known and unknown who have walked on, and to those who will be found and brought home. 

As we face a new year, we are honored to be here, and will do our best to honor those who have walked on, those who are with us now, and those yet to come. Our relatives are always in our hearts.

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The truth about Indian Boarding Schools

This month, we’re asking our readers to help us raise $10,000 to fund our year-long journalism initiative called “The Indian Boarding School Project: A Dark Chapter in History.”  Our mission is to shine a light on the dark era of forced assimilation of native American children by the U.S. government and churches.  You’ll be able to read stories each week and join us for Livestream events to understand what the Indian Boarding School era has meant to Native Americans — and what it still means today.

This news will be provided free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts.  Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a freelance journalist and based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he also contributes to Unicorn Riot, an alternative media publication. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.