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Boujou!

Today's edition is going to be a bit different: We're going to focus on one story, and one story only, because it's deadly serious stuff. I'm in no mood for April Foolery, or for GOP foolery or racist foolery or violent foolery. After reading, I think you'll see why.

Kossack scarletraven (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) was the first person to send this to me last week, and it's incredibly disturbing, but not — to me, at least — at all surprising.

And that is even more disturbing.

Some people who read this today are likely going to dismiss out of hand the first-hand account offered by a Native woman, herself a survivor of violence, who was not only present but was made into a target. Such readers, who have no personal experience of these situations, will find it all too easy and comfortable to decide that it's an unverifiable he-said/she-said, and refuse to believe the account presented here.

Please step back a moment, and suspend your cultural disbelief.

I'm here to tell you that this account not only rings wholly true, but that I have zero doubt that it's replicated all across the country on a regular basis. Women (of any ethnicity) who work on these issues are all too familiar with the dynamics involved here. Native women (like other women of color) live this, on a routine basis. I've experienced it myself, watched it happen to other women, held the hands and hugged the shoulders of those who have been such targets.

Yes, I know you're tired of me harping on this. Believe me, you're not even 1/1000th as tired as I am of having to harp on it. But until this stops, it's my job to put it front and center, every damn day, if need be, until people get it. And getting it means doing something about it.

Because we're not done yet. Not by a long shot.

AT MEETING TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, GOP US REP TELLS SURVIVOR HE WANTS TO "WRING THE TRIBAL COUNCIL'S NECK AND SLAM THEM AGAINST THE WALL."

 photo MelissaMerrick_zps7a96ed5f.jpg I'd like you to meet Melissa Merrick. She's the Director of Victim Assistance for the Spirit Lake Nation. In that capacity, she serves as a member of multiple coalitions dedicated to ending violence against women, including the North Dakota Council on Abused Women Services (NDCAWS), the state's umbrella coalition of organizations formed to further that goal.

She's also an Indian woman.  

She's also a survivor of violence.

Last Tuesday, NDCAWS held a meeting of its coalition members and stakeholders, a group that included representatives of both tribal and non-tribal entities, individual organizations, smaller coalition groups, and public officials. The meeting was held one day before the state's official Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Action & Awareness Day, including an event designed to kick off its upcoming campaign for April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month.

On Thursday, Ms. Merrick posted an account at lastrealindians.com detailing her experience in that meeting.

It was horrifying.

 photo KevinCramer_zps81cbdcd6.jpg Meet Congressman Kevin Cramer (Racist-ND). He was one of the attendees at the meeting. He knew that the purpose of the meeting was to allow those who were effectively the "boots on the ground" in the fight to end violence against women to voice their concerns and let their programmatic and other needs be known. But when it was his turn to speak, he hijacked the entire meeting.

Knowing that Cramer spoke out openly against the constitutionality of the Tribal Provisions in VAWA, I thanked him for his support and proceeded with my concerns including how the Tribal Sexual Assault Services Program (TSASP) was taken out of the CTAS grant solicitation that went out to Tribes.  I said that our state, because of the oil boom, has been impacted negatively.  I mentioned that the program in Fort Berthold, for example, has seen drastic changes.

Cramer cut me off and said, "Do you know how much Fort Berthold received in oil taxes last year?"

I calmly responded, "No, I am from Spirit Lake.  We don’t have oil.  We have water… from all the flooding."

Then he began to state how many warrants were in the Standing Rock Tribal Court that haven’t been acted on.

Again I told him, "I am from Spirit Lake, I can only speak on Spirit Lake."

After I spoke, Cramer began what turned out to be roughly 20 minutes verbal attacks directed at me and meant for all Native people.

 

What followed began as an attack on the constitutionality of the VAWA reauthorization, but soon degenerated into Cramer's expression of atavistic, race-based fear of losing his privileged status. Ms. Merrick recounted the next exchange:

I shared that I am a survivor, and that the Tribal provisions would have benefitted my own story, and that these incidents do happen.

Cramer stated that, "Tribal Governments are dysfunctional. Tribal Courts are dysfunctional, and how could a non-Native man get a fair trial on the reservations?"

Cramer said there would be no due process.  I asked him if he had ever been to the reservation.

"Yes," he said.

I then asked, “Have you been to the Tribal Court?”

"No," he said.

I said, "Well, that’s not fair for you to say that if you have never been there.  How could you know?"

At this point, I felt uncomfortable.  The tension in the room was heavy, so I stopped speaking.  I looked away because the tone and condescension in his voice was very apparent.  No one spoke.  He asked for questions.  No one spoke.

Congressman Cramer then demanded, "Tell me about Spirit Lake!"

Cramer's demand was an old and all-too-common tactic, designed purely to put Ms. Merrick on the defensive. He followed it up by asking her opinion of her own nation's tribal council — in a way that made it impossible for her to answer. Of course, the point was never an honest exchange of information, nor was it to identify and resolve problems. It was to make a point — at the expense of Ms. Merrick, of Spirit Lake Nation, of Indians generally, of Indian women specifically. So when Ms. Merrick noted that members of her own tribal nation had been engaged in efforts to bring about positive change, he declared, in front of a roomful of anti-violence activists, two of whom were Native women survivors:
"[I want to] wring the Tribal Council’s neck and slam them against the wall."
Story continued below the fold.
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Latest Updates on Kossack Regional Meet-Up News Below the Frybead Thingey

As Cramer continued to rant, meeting participants began to leave. One who stayed was the only other Native woman in the room, who, with tears in her eyes, tried to protest. According to Ms. Merrick:
At this point, I couldn’t even talk anymore.  I was so disgusted and offended.  I grabbed my phone and began to look at it.  The Director then tried to redirect the conversation and politely end it.  Cramer would not stop.  He asked for any questions or comments, but nobody spoke.  Nobody would look at him.  As he got up to leave, Cramer saw how upset the other Native woman in the room was.  He grabbed her without her consent, hugging her. Then he said, "I love you."
Seriously.

Touching a woman — in a familiar manner — without her consent. Threatening violence toward Native men and women, via a verbal attack on a Native woman survivor of violence, at a meeting for the purpose of ending violence against women.

The irony is positively deadly.

Cramer, of course, has spent the last few days backpedaling furiously. He disputes Ms. Merrick's account, but I have yet to see any of the other attendees either contradict Ms. Merrick or line up to support his version. I have, however, begun to see criticism of his behavior filter into more mainstream, dominant-culture sources. Jezebel, for one, called it like they saw it:  Horrid Congressman Threatens Tribal Council With Violence at Hearing for Abused Women Services:

If you're at all like North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer, you'll know that the best way to comport yourself in a hearing at which a deeply disenfranchised population is attempting to redress the systematic injustices it has endured for centuries — with a focus on the disproportionate rate of murder and sexual assault its female population faces — is to belligerently ignore all of the presenter's comments, publicly threaten her people with violence, and, if you reduce a woman in attendance to tears with your vitriolic ignorance, it's best to seize her and embrace her against her will. You know! Just crushin' some Congressman business, nothing to see here.

If you're not like North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer (which is to say you are in possession of at least a minute amount of social grace and the faintest glimmer of a soul), you'll most likely be horrified by his behavior.

Spirit Lake Nation has declined to accept his "apology," preferring instead to answer with its own public statement, which reads, in part:
In addition, to his misinformed comments about the VAWA, Congressmen Cramer reportedly stated his belief that Tribal governments are dysfunctional and that he wanted to "ring the [Spirit Lake] Tribal council’s neck and slam them against the wall." The Tribe takes these threats of violence seriously and finds them particularly inappropriate given the audience Congressmen Cramer was addressing. A threat of violence is exactly the wrong way to send a message- His comments are beneath the dignity of his office and the relationship that his government has with the first Nations of this country, who are among his constituents. The Tribe is concerned that the Congressmen’s intemperate statements reflect his negative views of his Tribal constituents as a whole.

The Spirit Lake Tribal Council will be launching a full investigation on this incident. A report will follow.

The Turtle Mountain Chippewa have likewise issued a statement, in which Tribal Chair Richard W. McCloud demands a meeting "to make things 'right'":
​In addition, for a leader of our state and country, it is very sad that you made this statement, "[I want to] wring the Tribal council’s neck and slam them against the wall."  President Obama recently expanded protections for domestic violence victims into law, which not only include women, but Native Americans.  When you stated you would like to "wring tribal council’s neck and slam against wall", well that is a threat not only to Native Americans but to women, which there are two women who sit on my council. Shame on you. In the words of our President, if you have forgotten, acts of violence will not be taken lightly and will be addressed whether it is portrayed in verbal attacks, physical attacks or with guns.

​I am demanding a meeting with you and your staff to discuss these deprecating statements and to make things "right" and to move forward productively with the least amount of prejudice and discriminating statements as possible.

NDCAWS has issued its own statement, with a lukewarm endorsement of Cramer's attempts at damage control:
We appreciate Congressman Cramer’s support of the reauthorization of VAWA and understand he is reaching out to Melissa Merrick and has apologized for the tone of his remarks. We appreciate this gesture. Janelle Moos, the Executive Director of CAWS North Dakota, visited with the Congressman earlier today and has invited him and his staff to visit any of the 21 programs, especially those working on the reservations, in order to gain a better understanding of the challenges they face ensuring victims have access to safety and justice. We hope that this will all lead to a greater understanding of the work of victim assistance providers and to more respectful dialogue in the future.
I will note that, at least at the time of this writing, the statement does not appear to be posted on the NDCAWS Web site, which strikes me as more than a little cowardly.

Finally, Ms. Merrick has likewise issued her own response — blunt, to the point, and utterly fearless:

I read in the paper that you want to apologize for the "tone" and "style" of your comments. This is very disappointing to me and to my colleagues that fight to protect women from violence in our community. You should be sorry for your words and take responsibility for them.

You have attempted to backtrack and have gone as far as publicly questioning the accuracy of my statements in the Last Real Indians.  Let me state for the record, I stand by every word of it.

You clearly have zero interest in protecting women from violence and have not read the tribal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act, particularly the part about the protections non-Indian defendants are guaranteed in tribal court.  Your ignorant prejudices about tribal people are not only untrue, but fan the flames of racial divide, the exact opposite of what leaders do to make communities stronger.  The disdain you expressed for our tribal leaders and your threats toward them left one woman in tears and revealed how little you care about the people you have been elected to serve, particularly female victims of violent acts.

Over at lastrealindians.com, they've archived a number of responses and resources on their main page, beginning with the U.S. Department of Justice's Fact Sheet Re: VAWA’s Tribal Jurisdiction over Non-Indians.

You can contact Kevin Cramer's office here, and let him know what you think. If you do, be polite. But let him know that his behavior is unacceptable, and put him on notice that we're watching — and we vote.

I know some of you have read the statistical background to these issues many times over already — heaven knows that I've posted it enough times. But can you summon the numbers from memory? If you can't, then it's time to read it again anyway. Because what we need, Native women and allies alike, is for everyone to internalize these so thoroughly that they can put them in front of their members of Congress, their state and local officials, their stakeholders and program people and donors and decision-makers, at a moment's notice. So please, go here and read (or re-read) the numbers again. And then use them with your own Congressional representatives and other public officials. Because we need to fix this.

Chi miigwech.

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:: COMMUNITY BUILDING UPDATES ::
Let's build communities!

Every region needs a meatspace community like SFKossacks.
We take care of each other in real life.
I urge YOU to take the lead and organize one in your region.
Please tell us about it if you do and we're here for advice.


THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY

Click >>>HERE to see a list of all the regional Kossack groups that have organized for social and activism events. There are handy links to contact each organizer to join.

>>>Instructions on HOW TO FORM A NEW DAILY KOS GROUP

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:: Events Currently on the Books for ALL Kossacks ::
Paradise and Chico Kossacks regional event banner
Saturday, April 6th

Paradise & Chico Kossacks Picnic, Kite Flying and Hike

TIME: TBD
LOCATION: Table Mountain
Butte County • Northern California

ORGANIZER: Send paradise50 a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. paradise50
2. smileycreek
3. Darryl House
4. Mrs. House
5.
Maybees:
1. Caddisfly
2. Caddisfly's brother
Latest diary: [Waiting for linked diary]
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Saturday, April 6th

Kossacks Meet-up for Dave in Northridge

TIME: TBD
LOCATION: TBD
[Address] • [City]

ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. navajo
2. Dave in Northridge
3. Steveningen
4. kimoconnor
5. side pocket
6. slksfca
Maybees:
lineatus
Lorikeet
dharmasyd
Cali Scribe
Mr. Scribe
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Saturday, April 6th

Colorado COmmunity Kossacks Pot Luck

TIME: 2:00 PM
LOCATION: ColoTim's home
Address given by Kosmail • Denver

ORGANIZER: Send ColoTim a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. ColoTim
2. Frankenoid
3. Ginny in CO
4. coloradocomet
5. State Senator Irene Aguilar
6. whoknu
7. Colorado is the Shiznit
8. Badkitties
9. RockyMtnLib
10. LeftCandid
11. blind cynic
12. comoonbeam
13. uuview

Maybees:
victoria2dc
acpa
blue aardvark
KellyRN2
Denver11

Latest diary: Colorado Meetup - April 6th, 2013
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April: Post Tax Day

Southern Cal Inland Empire Kossacks Meet-up

TIME: TBD
LOCATION: TBD
[Address] • [City]

ORGANIZER: Send SoCaliana kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. SoCaliana
2. pucklady
3. Unbozo
Maybees:
Latest diary: So Cal IE Kossacks: April Meetup
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Kansas & Missouri Kossacks

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Friday, April 19th

Kansas & Missouri Kossacks Meet-up

TIME: TBD
LOCATION: Springfield Brewing Company
305 South Market Street • Springfield

ORGANIZER: Send tmservo433 a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. tmservo433
2.
3.
4.
5.
Maybees:
Latest diary: [Waiting for linked diary]
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Saturday, April 20th

Chicago Kossacks Celebrate Earth Day

TIME: Morning, see diary below for details
LOCATION: The Heller Nature Center
2821 Ridge Road  • Highland Park

Followed by pizza at broths & Mr. broths home.

ORGANIZER: Send figbash a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. figbash
2. broths
3. Mr. broths
4. Chitown Kev
5. MillieNeon
6. Railfan
7. NormAl
8. winifred3
Maybees:
bsmechanic
Tim Delaney
Latest diary: Hey Chicago - Time for a Meet-Up!
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Saturday, April 20th

LA Kossacks Monthly Meet-up with Guest Speaker, Daily Kos Featured Writer, Dante Atkins

TIME: 2:00 PM
LOCATION:  Casey's Irish Pub
613 S Grand Ave. • Los Angeles

ORGANIZER: Send Dave in Northridge a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. Dave in Northridge
2. Shockwave
3. jakedog42
4. SanFernandoValleyMom
5. Gay CA Democrat
6. susans
7. 714day
Maybees:
ducktape
Latest diary: LA Kossacks - March 23 Meetup at Casey's (and on the Red Line) - Photos
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Dkos Asheville
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Saturday, April 20th

Dkos Asheville's First Meet-up

TIME: 1:00 PM
LOCATION: The Bywater
796 Riverside Dr. • Asheville

ORGANIZER: Send randallt a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. randallt
2. davehouck
3. Otteray Scribe
4. eeff
5. people power granny
6. Joieau
7. LamontCranston
8. cultjake
9. GordonNC (UID 5123 & City Councilman)
10. DawnN
11. SteelerGrrl
12. SteelerDude
13. Captain Sham
14. Sandy on Signal
15. gulfgal98
16. gigihopes
17. Jeff Messer, local radio host - 880 AM
18. Audri
19. Mr. A

Maybees:
polecat
Land of Enchantment
jnhobbs
alicia (plus two)
Nic Goodman
ecthompson
emmasnacker
TexDem
VeloVixen

Latest diary:Dkos Asheville Open Thread

From randallt: "DKos Asheville is hosting a meet up and we've managed to cast a wide net! Asheville NC is the epicenter of cool progressive in the heart of the mountains and we have folks traveling from Eastern Tennessee, the Southern Highlands and Charlotte. So don't let the distance keep you away, come to Asheville, sign up today! You know you want to."

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Sunday, April 28th
NYC Kossacks Brunch and a Show!
ORGANIZER: Send sidnora a kosmail to attend.

 Whym Restaurant NYC
Brunch:
TIME: Noon (with Show at 3PM)
LOCATION: Whym
889 9th Avenue (between 57th & 58th) • NYC
RSVPs:
1. sidnora
2. Denise Oliver Velez, Guest of Honor
3. devtob
4. LuLu
5. MBNYC
6. friends of LuLu
7. mconvente
8. joanbrooker
Maybees:
Batya the Toon
belinda ridgewood
thankgodforairamerica
kathny
 PlayBill Ann Richards
Theater:
TIME: 3:00 PM
LOCATION: The Vivian Beaumont Theater
150 West 65th St. (Broadway) • NYC
RSVPs:
1. sidnora
2. Denise Oliver Velez, Guest of Honor
3. devtob
4. LuLu
5. MBNYC
6. friends of LuLu
Maybees:
Latest diary: NY Metro Meetup: Theater Party, Sunday 4/28!!
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Peach State Kossacks regional banner for meet-ups in Georgia
Potentially in April or May

Atlanta Area Kossacks Kick-off Meet-up

TIME: TBD
LOCATION: TBD
[Address] • [City]

ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. One Pissed Off Liberal
2. racheltracks
3. annrose
4. nawlinscate
5. Burned
Maybees:
pragmaticidealist
xxdr zombiexx
eeff
Ashaman
lam2b2g
Latest diary: Atlanta Area Meet-Up
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New York Hudson Valley Kossacks

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boran2
DATE TBD

NY Hudson Valley Kossacks' First Meet-up

TIME: TBD
LOCATION: Hudson House
2 Main Street • Cold Spring, NY

ORGANIZER: Send boran2 a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. boran2
2. thankgodforairamerica
3. betson08 (if event is in April)
Maybees:
Latest diary: [Waiting for linked diary]
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Netroots Nation Header
Netroots Nation 2013 in San Jose: Plenary Session Table Reservations
June 20th - 23rd  •  REGISTER HERE



SFKossacks:
1. side pocket [First Lieutenant]
2. mrs. side pocket
3. kimoconnor
4. citisven
5. lineatus
6. Cali Scribe
7. Glen the Plumber
8. remembrance
9. jotter
10. Mrs. jotter
SFKossacks:
1. Lusty
2. mrsgoo
3. norm
4. boran2 (Honorary)
5. Lorikeet
6. FogCityJohn
7. slksfca
8. madhaus
9. boatsie
10. maggiejean
SFKossacks:
1. Kamakhya
2. dharmasyd
3. Ebby
4. Bustergirl
5. BeninSC (Honorary)
6. sfbaytransplant
7. Senor Unoball
8. paradox
9. slouching
10. shanikka
Native American Netroots:
1. navajo
2. Meteor Blades
3. 4Freedom (maybe)
4. no way lack of brain
5. translatorpro
6. Kitsap River
7. Charles Curtis Stanley
8. TheFatLadySings
9. TFLS's guest
10. TFLS's guest
Central Valley Kossacks:
1. tgypsy
2. cooper888
3. gotmooned
4. paradise50
5. smileycreek
6. Caddis Fly
7. Kestrel
8. peregrine kate (honorary)
9. ProvokingMeaning (honorary)
10.
Lone Star Kossacks:
1. nomandates
2. texasmom
3. texasdad
4. doraphasia
5. krwheaton
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Cheers & Jeers:
1. Bill in Portland Maine
2. Common Sense Mainer
3. vicki
4. Sharoney
5. Spousal Unit
6. cskendrick
7. brillig
8. mik
9. K1
10.
Los Angeles Kossacks:
1. Shockwave
2. jakedog42
3. susans
4. murphy
5. Dave in Northridge
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
NYC and beyond:
1. sidnora
2. belinda ridgewood
3. belinda ridgewood's guest
4. Jimdotz
5. theroaringgirl
6. thankgodforairamerica
7. hayden
8.
9.
10.
Community Quilt Project:
1. Sara R
2. winglion?
3. loggersbrat
4. ramara (Arizona)
5. Horace Boothroyd III
6. linkage
7.
8.
9.
10.
Military Community Members:
1. DaNang65
2. drnatrl
3. angelajean (Maybe)
4. exlrrp (Maybe)
5. ccasas
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Misc. registered Kossacks + regions:
1. edrie, will add to SFKossacks new table when i have more personal bandwidth
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Hopefully we can put together whole tables for them.


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Community Quilt Project

Community Quilt Project NN13 Flash Mob Photo


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smileycreek is organizing and asking all Community Quilt recipients to bring their quilts to NN13. We'll assemble at a pre-designated location and time for a group photo with one of the NN13 professional photographers. It will be a group hug celebrating one of the most beloved community building projects we have here at Daily Kos with Sara R and winglion at the center of it. navajo and Glen the Plumber are going to scout out and select a location in advance for all to meet with their quilts for a memorable photo opportunity. Stay tuned.
Date: TBD Time: TBD
1. paradise50
2. Dave in Northridge
3. remembrance
4. BeninSC
5. mimi
6. cskendrick
7. DaNang65
8. llbear (not attending, quilt only)
9. Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse (may not attend)
10. Smoh (not attending, quilt only)
11. slksfca
12. belinda ridgewood
13. Ebby
14. Bustergirl
15. Kitsap River
16. Charles Curtis Stanley
17.
18.
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Glacier National Park
June 27- June 30th

Glacier National Park Kossack EPIC Meetup!

TIME: 24/7
LOCATION: Glacier National Park
402 9th St W • Columbia Falls, Montana

ORGANIZER: Send arizonablue a kosmail to attend.

RSVPs:
1. BlueJessamine
2. arizonablue
3. Mr.arizonablue
4. Truman
5. Ojibwa - arriving for the weekend
6. MTmofo
7. figbash!
8. spottedbear
9. jakedog42
10. Oke
11. cooltraveler
12. Mr.cooltraveler
13. state of confusion
14. Lute the Norwegian
15. Josh Blue
16. Thinking Fella
17. Blu Gal in DE

Maybees:
Joan McCarter
slksfca
Ed in Montana
BoiseBlue
BoiseBlue GF
Dave in Northridge
NormAl
winifred3

Latest diary: Glacier National Park Check In! Glacier National Park Meetup - Part II w/ lodging and campground info!
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Send navajo a kosmail if you post a diary about an event so we can update our round-up.

Okay. Floor's open.
Tell us what you are doing on this NEW DAY?

Originally posted to Connect! Unite! Act! on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Native American Netroots, SFKossacks, and Barriers and Bridges.

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