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‘It’s just something I crave’: a young Native American finds her home in rodeo

For some Native Americans particularly those who belong to federally unrecognized tribes without reservations rodeos offer a way to stay connected to their culture and community

Rodeo is everywhere in Keira Simonsons life. Its in the 22-year-olds kitchen as a team picture pinned to the fridge. Its hanging in her bathroom as a horse-themed towel. Its decorating her truck floor as muddy boots with spurs attached. Its her weekends and her escape.

As an enrolled member of the more than 4,500-strong Little Shell Chippewa Tribe of Montana which was, until recently, federally unrecognized and without a designated reservation Simonson often felt removed from the larger Native American community and its culture. But rodeos have become her way of staying connected.

Its just something I crave to constantly be going to another one, she says.


  • Top: Simonson and her brother, Buckshot, wait for her run at the Copper Springs Ranch rodeo, just outside of Bozeman, Montana. Below: Details of the rodeo are peppered throughout Simonsons life.

For the more than 400 other federally unrecognized, landless tribes in the US, communal spaces like rodeos have become integral.

Its what Circe Sturm, a professor of anthropology and the co-director of the University of Texas at Austins Native American and Indigenous Studies program, calls a pan-Indian space. It allows people to come together to experience a sense of being Indigenous.

When you have people who have had their land base disrupted, like the Little Shell community, then those spaces become very important, said Sturm.

Simonson, who has been riding since she was three years old, regularly competes in the Indian National Finals Rodeo tour (INFR), the main Native American rodeo organization in the US. Most recently, she won the womens barrel racing tour championship for the 2019 season.

In a barrel race, the rider and their horse burst straight out of the gate, kicking up thick, russet clods of dirt. Next they head for three barrels set up in a cloverleaf pattern around the arena, turning sharply around each before charging for the finish line at breakneck speed.


  • Keira Simonson rides her horse, Diesel, during a rodeo barrel race.

The INFR, formed in 1976, sanctions more than 700 rodeos a year across the US for people ages eight to 80. Women and girls involvement in Indian rodeo has been steadily increasing since the early 1990s, says a spokesperson for the organization. And while mainstream American rodeo has long been dominated by white contestants, Simonson says that recent years have seen more Native Americans competing at pro rodeos and other open and amateur rodeos not specifically designated for Native Americans.

In the remote north-eastern plains of Montana near the Canadian border, more than 30 miles from the nearest incorporated town, Simonson awakens most days around 8am on the family ranch. She shuffles to the stables to feed her beloved horse, Diesel, the first of several chores she and her brother, Buckshot Simonson, complete around the ranch.


  • Simonson, age four, on her fathers horse.

Diesel was once described by a rodeo announcer as the fastest black horse hed ever seen. But in the days leading up to competition, Simonson rests her horse to keep him fresh. The bulk of her preparation lies in the logistics travel plans, which she organizes in a color-coordinated calendar, and readying the trailer.

Inside the black and silver gooseneck unit, there are hay bales, five-gallon buckets and jugs filled with grain and water, saddles, brushes, combs and clothing. Theres even a bed made of wood chips a foot thick for Diesel to sleep on in the horse stalls.

He loves it. Some people will walk by and be like, Is your horse alive? recalled Simonson about Diesels sleeping arrangements in the trailer.


  • Top and bottom: Keira Simonson readies for competition by resting her horse and prepping her trailer.

At the INFR events, Simonson says shes developed a makeshift family, where she can joke around using Native humor sarcastic, loud and full of laughter. She can share her Native American experience, and learn about different tribes and practices along the way, including her own.

But even at those rodeos, she says she feels white compared with everyone else. Her mother is half Little Shell, half white, while her father is white. At other rodeos, she sometimes feels acutely aware of her darker skin and hair, and the stereotypes that come with her appearance.

They probably look at me and they think, Oh, shes just Native, said Simonson.


  • Simonson jokes around with her aunt, Billie Jo, and her mother, Judy, while waiting for her brothers run at the Copper Springs Ranch barrel race.

The Little Shell Chippewa, like many Native American tribes, have a complicated relationship with identity due to European colonization.

The Little Shell Chippewa are successors of the historical Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians a part of the Ojibwe, also known as the Chippewa, tribe whose land included more than 60m acres throughout the northern midwestern US and north into Canada. In the early 19th century, French men came from the north and married into many Ojibwe families.


  • Photos from recent races hang on the wall in Simonsons home.

The absence of culture and community are common among Little Shell people as a result of being landless, says Kim McKeehan, a Little Shell Tribal Council member and mental health therapist.

People dont have a place to practice cultural practices or build an economy. Those are the things that really create community, said McKeehan.

McKeehan explains that the lack of community can permeate into individuals sense of identity and belonging, too. But she says its also made Little Shell people incredibly resilient and independent.

Just because cultural traditions and languages were washed out of the mouths of our grandmothers and beaten out of our communities doesnt mean that theyre not ours still. We can reach back and get them.

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Former Baltimore mayor faces fraud and tax evasion charges

Federal indictment implicates Catherine Pugh of utilizing her Healthy Holly kids books to promote her profession and fund mayoral run

The disgraced previous mayor of Baltimore has actually been charged with scams and tax evasion including sales of her self-published kids’s books.

An 11-count federal indictment unsealed on Wednesday implicates Catherine Pugh of utilizing her Healthy Holly kids’s books to improve herself, promote her political profession and fund her run for mayor.


The Department of Justice stated the grand jury prosecuted Pugh on federal charges of conspiracy to dedicate wire scams, 7 counts of wire scams, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and 2 counts of tax evasion. She is anticipated to give up to United States Marshals prior to a preliminary look and arraignment on Thursday prior to Judge Deborah K Chasanow in Baltimore.

Also unsealed on Wednesday were the guilty pleas of the previous Baltimore City workers Gary Brown, Jr and Roslyn Wedington. Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax scams.

“Corrupt public staff members dupe the taxpayers and weaken everybody’s faith in federal government,” stated United States lawyer Robert K Hur in a statement of the charges. “Our chosen authorities should put the interests of the residents above their own.”

Pugh resigned in early May after authorities started examining whether she set up bulk sales of Healthy Holly books to camouflage numerous countless dollars in kickbacks.

FBI and IRS representatives robbed her workplaces, houses and other places in late April and took a number of products, consisting of cash transfer invoices, a laptop computer, cds and a $100,000 check from the University of Maryland Medical System to Pugh’s Healthy Holly business.

The first-term Democrat ended up being mayor in late 2016.

Pugh has actually remained in privacy because early April, when she took a leave from the mayor’s workplace due to what her legal representative referred to as bad health following a bout of pneumonia. Lawyer Steven Silverman at that time asserted that Pugh was so vulnerable physically and psychologically that she was not able to make “significant choices”.

Federal, state and regional examinations have actually been checking out doubtful monetary plans that for many years netted Pugh approximately $800,000 for her hard-to-find books. The books were implied to be offered to schools and day care centers, however it is uncertain where 10s of countless copies wound up.

The Democrat ended up being mayor in late 2016 after having actually served in the state legislature because 2005.

Pugh, 69, ended up being the 2nd mayor of Baltimore in less than a years to step down since of a scandal. Previous Mayor Sheila Dixon left workplace in 2010 as part of a plea offer for misusing about $500 in present cards implied for clingy households.

A long time city board member, Bernard “Jack” Young, took control of the function of mayor after Pugh resigned. He acquired a city with stopping working schools, a prospering controlled substance market and among the country’s greatest rates of violent criminal offense.

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Amy Klobuchar: ‘I will reverse Trump abortion policies in the first 100 days’

The Democratic governmental prospect, who is increasing in the Iowa surveys, puts reproductive rights at heart of project

Amy Klobuchar , among couple of feasible ladies staying in the Democratic governmental race, has actually pledged to reverse Donald Trump’s crucial anti-abortion steps in her very first 100 days in workplace were she to dominate in next year’s impressive fight for the White House.

Klobuchar, the senator from Minnesota who is approaching in the surveys in the crucial first-to-vote state of Iowa, set out aggressive actions she would require to support reproductive rights were she to win the Democratic election and defeat Trump.

In an interview with the Guardian she stated she would right away reverse essential Trump financing cuts for household preparation and reverse the global and domestic “gag guidelines” that make it harder to gain access to abortion info and services. She would likewise make abortion rights an essential concern in making judicial visits.

“In the very first 100 days I will get rid of Trump’s ‘gag guidelines’, which I can do without any requirement of congressional participation,” she stated. “I will reverse financing choices right now, and ensure that we just choose judges for verification who follow the law” of Roe v Wade. When he got in the White House in January 2017, #peeee

Klobuchar’s promise to promptly strengthen reproductive rights echoes Trump’s own actions– in the opposite instructions–. Among his very first acts as president was to prohibit by executive fiat any federal financing of global groups supplying info about, or access to, abortions.

Abortion is most likely to be among the most popular problems in the 2020 governmental election in which Trump, looking for re-election on a virulent anti-abortion ticket, will deal with intense resistance from the ultimate Democratic candidate. To include fuel to the fire, the United States supreme court is presently hearing its very first abortion case under its brand-new Trump-appointed conservative bulk.

The court, now sitting with the Trump-nominated justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, is thinking about in June Medical Services v Gee whether abortion physicians need to have confessing advantages at regional health centers. It is anticipated to rule in the middle of election year.

Klobuchar Klobuchar speaks outside the supreme court as pro-choice activist rally in Washington in May. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Following the withdrawal from the Democratic race of Kamala Harris previously this month, Klobuchar is among the only female prospects left besides Elizabeth Warren who can contend for a top-tier location. After a sticky start in which she was implicated of bullying her personnel , Klobuchar has actually been acquiring traction in current weeks in Iowa, which holds the very first Democratic survey at its caucuses on 3 February.

The RealClearPolitics tracking survey has her in 5th location behind Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Warren.

At the last Democratic governmental arguments in November she made an effect by mentioning that female prospects for the White House were held to a greater requirement than males. “Otherwise we might play a video game called name your preferred female president.”

Klobuchar talked to the Guardian at a current project occasion arranged by the Teamsters and sponsored by the Guardian and the Storm Lake Times in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She yielded she had actually fought with constructing a nationwide profile.

“I have actually got to get my name ID up. Here in Iowa I have actually been doubling my assistance, we are rising, and we have had some excellent surveys in New Hampshire.”

The senator stated she was the only prospect in the Democratic field with a tested performance history of winning elections in conservative states won by Trump in 2016. “I am the only one who has not simply talked the talk of bringing individuals with me, however who has really won in extremely red districts that Trump took by double digits.”

Though she has actually placed herself as a moderate in the mold of Biden, she has actually staked strong positions on ladies’s problems. She has actually led efforts to close the so-called “sweetheart loophole” that enables individuals who locally abuse their dating partners to get weapons and sponsored legislation to fight unwanted sexual advances in Congress.

Now she is amongst the Democratic governmental prospects promoting a turnaround of Trump’s attack on abortion rights. She informed the Guardian that she would no longer back efforts by Republican-controlled states to trim access to abortions.

u-responsive-ratio”> Senator governmental prospect online forum in cedar rapids arranged by the teamsters and co-sponsored by the storm and the guardian lake times.”src= “″/> Senator Amy Klobuchar appears at the Presidential Candidate Forum in Cedar Rapids arranged by the Teamsters and co-sponsored by the
Guardian and the Storm Lake Times. Picture: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

She indicated an Alabama law , passed in May, that threatens medical professionals who carry out abortions with as much as 99 years in jail. “That law remains in location today,” she stated (though the legislation has actually been briefly obstructed by a federal judge pending appeal).

To secure reproductive rights versus such state-based attacks, she stated that a Klobuchar administration would use up a policy originated by Kamala Harris to need any regional procedures on abortion to be authorized beforehand by the federal justice department. Such “pre-clearance” would be designed on the system that ran up until 2013 versus citizen suppression.

She would likewise attempt to prevent any damage done to reproductive rights by the conservative bulk on the United States supreme court by codifying Roe v Wade, the court’s landmark 1973 judgment that stated abortion to be constitutionally safeguarded. “We do not understand what the supreme court will do, so we need to protect a lady’s right to pick” by legislating through Congress, she stated.

Klobuchar firmly insisted that when it pertained to reproductive concerns, “the American public is on my side. Over 75% of individuals supports Roe v Wade– some individuals may be pro-life themselves however do not think their views need to be troubled others. Over 95% believe there ought to be access to birth control.”

She berated the Trump administration for pursuing policies that are having the precise opposite effect to those mentioned by the president. Research studies have actually revealed the worldwide gag guideline– likewise referred to as the Mexico City policy– has actually had the perverse result of increasing abortion rates around the globe.

The domestic gag guideline which Trump restored in May 2018 obstructs federal financing of any household preparation center offering abortion services. It entered into impact in August and right away resulted in Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest service provider of reproductive and sexual health care in the United States, taking out of the federal household preparation program.

Klobuchar stated the guideline modification was illogical. “We were relocating the ideal instructions– paradoxically in the last years we have actually seen a decrease in teenaged pregnancies and abortions which’s a good idea. This administration appears determined on making it more challenging by restricting birth control, defunding Planned Parenthood and taking away a female’s right to pick,” she stated.

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