RENO, Nev. (AP) _ Drummers and dancers from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in northern Nevada are among more than two dozen artists worldwide who appear in a music video remake of a song rock musician Peter Gabriel first recorded four decades ago protesting racism.
Gabriel recently re-released the 1980 song, ``Biko,'' which the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer originally wrote as a tribute to South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, who was killed in police custody in 1977.
``For us to be included in this project, it's such an honor,'' tribal Chairwoman Janet Davis told the Reno Gazette-Journal. ``This song is still very relevant. People all around the world are still oppressed and the racism that once was hidden has come back to the surface. We have a long way to go.''
The video features dancers dressed in traditional Paiute regalia stepping to the beat of the drum, being pounded by a local drum group. The scenes were filmed at the powwow grounds at Big Bend Ranch in Wadsworth, about 30 minutes east of Reno.
Others who appear on the video include world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Cape Town Ensemble, Beninese vocalist and activist Angelique Kidjo, Sebastian Robertson, and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello as part of Playing for Change's Songs Around the World initiative.
Tribal member Dayann Harrison, who has been dancing since before she can remember, said she was in awe of the video. It seamlessly weaved together so many different types of dance and song, from Japanese drumming to bagpipe to her own traditional Paiute style of dancing.
``It made me feel really proud. There's a lot of focus on the larger tribes in the country, not just in the news but in history books,'' said Harrison, who is seen dancing in a teal and purple dress. ``This is a reminder that we're still here.''
For Wakan Waci Blindman, a drummer featured in the video, he had no idea the video would be seen by so many. On YouTube, it has close to 600,000 views.
``We're kinda way out here. There's a lot of people that it would have been easier to get to,'' Blindman said.
Blindman, who has been playing the drum since he was about 12, learned about the opportunity through a friend who'd seen a casting call from a Los Angeles group called Playing for Change. The group, which filmed the video, enlists musicians to shed light on global and national human rights issues.
He signed up his drum group, Echo Sky, and a film crew from Southern California visited in October for about an hour of filming. Neither Blindman nor most of the tribal members had heard the song before, but they learned the beat quickly and played and danced to a recording, which is seen in the video.
Blindman's mother and 5-year-old daughter are seen dancing in the video. Music is a binding cultural thread in the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Blindman said, and is for all members, no matter how young or old. The drum, he said, is the heartbeat of that music, of Mother Earth.
The video, originally released on National Human Rights Day in December, was promoted this month in honor of Black History Month, according to Playing for Change's website. The segment filmed on Pyramid Lake Paiute land was filmed on Indigenous Peoples Day, otherwise known as Columbus Day, Blindman said.
``The fact that this is being played around the world, and the world will see us, I didn't think it'd be so big,'' Blindman said. ``It means the world.''
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, EPA Sue Phosphate Mine Company
By REBECCA BOONE
BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ The Environmental Protection Agency and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have each sued a phosphate mining company owned by Monsanto over toxic waste that experts believe has poisoned plants, water and animals in eastern Idaho.
The government entities filed the lawsuits against P4 Production LLC over waste at the Ballard Mine site near Soda Springs earlier this week, along with a proposed clean-up agreement that could settle the case.
Under the proposed agreement, P4 Production LLC wouldn't admit fault, but would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the EPA, the Tribes and other agencies to cover the costs of responding to toxic waste releases from the mining site. P4 Production would also have to make an additional $89 million available to the EPA as a guarantee that the cleanup work will be completed.
The proposed agreement states the cleanup work would include putting a cover on more than 500 acres of the site where waste was left behind, installing barriers to intercept and treat contaminated groundwater and building wetland treatment cells to clean up any contaminated seepage or springs.
William Myers III, the Boise attorney representing P4 Production, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Southeastern Idaho contains large phosphate deposits and there are several mines in the area that have operated by different companies over the last 100 years.
Investigations into the possibility that waste from the phosphate mines in the region could be hurting humans began in 1996, after several horses pastured in the area developed selenium poisoning and had to be put down. Environmental regulators began examining each of the mining sites to determine the impact of any waste.
Ultimately, the investigation found that the mines left dangerous contamination behind, including toxic substances such as selenium, arsenic, uranium, radium and radon. During the last century those wastes have run into the region's water sources, concentrated inside some of the plants in the area and exposed insects and amphibians through the waterways and sediment.
Some of the toxic waste can cause cancer or other illnesses in humans, and investigators found that Native Americans in the area were at risk of being exposed to the toxins at rates far higher than the maximum acceptable levels set by the federal government.
Seasonal ranchers were also deemed at increased risk because they may eat beef from cattle that grazed on plants and drank the water in the region. The investigation concluded that the area was safe for recreational campers and hikers, however, because they likely wouldn't be exposed to dangerous amounts of the toxins.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes has worked with the EPA to monitor and respond to toxic releases from the Ballard Mine when they occur. The Tribes contend in one of the lawsuits that they haven't been fully reimbursed by P4 Production for that work, and they want a judge to order that they be compensated for past and future work at the site.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Asked to Block Statewide Mask Order
By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ A new legal challenge to Gov. Tony Evers' latest mask mandate is before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, filed less than a week after the Legislature struck down a previous order and the governor quickly issued a new one.
Prominent Republican donor Jere Fabick asked the court late Tuesday to issue a temporary injunction to block the mask order Evers issued on Feb. 4, just after the GOP-controlled Legislature voted to repeal an earlier order. Fabick's lawsuit challenging Evers' authority to issue multiple emergency orders remains before the Supreme Court, which heard arguments in November but has yet to issue a ruling.
Republicans and Fabick contend that the Democratic governor exceeded his authority by issuing multiple public health emergencies due to the coronavirus pandemic. Evers tied the mask mandates to each emergency order.
Fabick and the GOP-controlled Legislature argue that Evers must get legislative approval to extend a health emergency beyond 60 days if it's for the same event. Evers contends the changing nature of the pandemic warranted him issuing new health orders.
Fabick's attorneys argued in the filing Tuesday that the Supreme Court needed to take ``immediate action'' to stop the latest order from Evers. Republicans in the Legislature have said they are awaiting a court rule before taking any action to strike down the latest mask order, which runs until March 20.
Nearly 60 organizations opposed repeal of the mask mandate, including groups representing hospitals, doctors, nurses, EMTs, school administrators, businesses, children, unions, Milwaukee schools, American Indian tribes, pharmacists, firefighters, local health departments, senior citizens, churches and dentists.
Fabick is a board member and policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank, and also the president of a multistate Caterpillar equipment and engine dealer. He has given more than $350,000 to Republican or conservative candidates in Wisconsin between 1994 and the middle of 2020, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
Wisconsin's COVID-19 cases have been trending downward since mid-November. The seven-day average of new cases on Wednesday was its lowest in five months and the state ranks 11th nationally in the percentage of its total population that has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Wednesday, there were nearly 552,000 positives cases to date and 6,129 deaths. Wisconsin ranked 40th in new cases per capita over the past two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University.
On Wednesday, Evers announced that the state's first free community vaccination clinic would be at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville. The clinic will open for vaccinations on Tuesday. It is projected to be able to vaccinate up to 250 people per day, with a goal of ramping that up to 1,000 per day, depending on availability of the vaccine.
The UW Health System reported Wednesday that thanks to wearing masks and other coronavirus precautions, cases of influenza are ``practically nonexistent.'' As of Wednesday, there had been one positive flu test at UW Health. That compares with 1,183 at this point last year and 149 in 2019, the health system said.
Netflix to expand production hub in New Mexico
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Netflix plans to establish one of the largest production hubs in North America with an expansion of its existing studio complex in New Mexico and a commitment to an additional $1 billion in production spending, government and corporate leaders announced Monday.
Ten new stages, post-production services, offices, mills, backlots and other infrastructure would be added to Netflix's growing campus on the southern edge of Albuquerque. Aside from construction jobs, the project is expected to result in 1,000 production jobs over the next decade.
Netflix first marked its presence in New Mexico in 2018, when it announced it was buying Albuquerque Studios and pledged $1 billion in spending over a decade. At the time, government officials saw the move as a transformative victory for a state that has struggled to lessen its reliance on federal funding and oil and gas development.
``I am glad Netflix has chosen to double-down on its commitment to our state, and our partnership will continue to grow for the benefit of New Mexicans across the board,'' Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos pointed to the proximity to Los Angeles, the crew base and local talent as reasons for the continued investment.
``It allows us to be more nimble in executing our production plans while cementing the status of the region as one of the leading production centers in North America,'' he said.
A total of $24 million in state and local economic development funding will be funneled toward the expansion, and industrial revenue bonds will be issued by the city of Albuquerque to help reduce some taxes for Netflix.
The footprint of the production hub will grow with a private land purchase and a lease involving state trust land.
The Albuquerque Development Commission signed off on the proposal Monday. The City Council still must give its approval.
Over the last 20 years, the film and television industry has become an economic force in New Mexico, with direct spending topping $525 million in the last fiscal year.
``This is all outside money coming into the state, which would not be here otherwise,'' state Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes told the commission during a meeting.
She said the partnership with Netflix should send a signal that New Mexico is the place to be for film and television production. Businesses have cropped up around the state to support the industry, she said, and data from the state film office suggests 40% of production budgets go to small, local vendors.
``So it really is trickling through our economy,'' she said.
As part of the proposed investment, Netflix has committed to providing training programs in partnership with the New Mexico Film Office, local universities and industry organizations. Netflix also has committed to supporting Native American, Latino, Black and other underrepresented content creators and filmmakers.
Since coming to New Mexico in 2018, Netflix said it has spent more than $200 million, used more than 2,000 production vendors and hired more than 1,600 cast and crew members.
Netflix is in production in New Mexico on the original films ``The Harder They Fall`` and ``Intrusion`` and is expected to soon begin filming ``Stranger Things 4`` in Albuquerque.
Pennsylvania Town to Remove 'Squaw' From Streets, Trails
FOX CHAPEL, Pa. (AP) _ A western Pennsylvania town council has voted to remove "squaw'' from street and trail names after objections to the word as a derogatory term for Native American women.
The Fox Chapel Council took the action Monday, months after several citizens objected to its use.
The council will develop new names for Old Squaw Trail, Squaw Run Road and Squaw Run Road East by March.
WTAE-TV reported council member Betsy Monroe said the word was a problem.
"The overwhelming evidence that we got from the largest and most respected Native American organizations in the nation demonstrated that there is a fact that this is a slur,'' Monroe said.
Navajo Energy Company to Acquire Shares in Coal Power Plant
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ The Navajo Nation would expand its investment in coal-fired electricity generation as part of a plan announced Monday to acquire more shares in one of the Southwest's last remaining coal power plants.
The Navajo Transitional Energy Co. has negotiated an agreement in which Public Service Co. of New Mexico would divest from the Four Corners Power Plant in 2024 with the tribal company taking over PNM's 13% share. The agreement would call for the utility to pay to $75 million to the tribal company for breaking current coal contract obligations at Four Corners.
If approved by state regulators, the transaction would preserve jobs at the plant and the adjacent tribally owned mine for at least a few more years as the tribe and the Four Corners region _ spanning parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado _ adjusts to a changing energy economy and mandates for more renewable energy.
Many of the workers at the mine and the power plant are Navajo.
The deal also would allow the New Mexico utility a faster exit from coal. PNM already has regulatory approval to exit the neighboring coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in 2022. The workforce there also includes many tribal members.
PNM said in a statement issued early Monday that it plans to file with New Mexico regulators early next year its proposal for abandonment and securitization of the unrecovered investment in the Four Corners plant.
PNM has predicted its customers could collectively save about $100 million on their bills with the utility's exit from Four Corners seven years earlier than planned. However, customers would still pick up the costs of pending liabilities after 2031, plus the cost of replacing Four Corners electricity with other resources.
``This is a major step in our vision to create a clean and bright energy future and achieve our industry-leading goal of emissions-free energy by 2040,'' Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM Resources' chairman, president and CEO, said in the statement.
NTEC officials said the primary goal is to facilitate an orderly and successful exit by PNM, thereby preventing near-term job and revenue losses for the Navajo Nation.
Ensuring the plant remains open until 2031 is ``completely aligned with NTEC's charter and responsibility to preserve jobs and revenue for the Navajo people,'' the company said in a statement. ``The contemplated deal does not increase the planned operating life of the facility and does not increase liability to any of the owners, including NTEC.''
NTEC also said it has kept the Navajo leadership updated on negotiations for the past year.
In an Oct. 16 email, NTEC CEO Clark Moseley indicated that PNM would remain liable for its share of future plant decommissioning and that an audit would be performed to ensure the utility can fund its portion of final mine reclamation expenses.
PNM officials confirmed during a news conference that the utility will retain liability for coal reclamation and plant decommissioning, which could total about $45 million.
NTEC is owned by the tribal government but run independently by a non-Native executive team in Colorado. It has invested heavily in coal in recent years _ acquiring the Navajo Mine in 2017, its current 7% stake in Four Corners in 2018 and three coal mines in Wyoming and Montana last year.
Arizona Public Service Co. is the owner and operator of the Four Corners plant, with a 63% stake. The Salt River Project owns 10% and Tucson Electric Power has 7%. PNM's stake represents 200 megawatts that make up less than 10% of the utility's generation portfolio.
Under New Mexico's Energy Transition Act, PNM must replace its coal and natural gas plants with renewables over the next two decades.
The law also allows the utility to recover investments in abandoned fossil fuel plants through bonds that would be paid off by customers. The bonds could include about $16 million in economic development assistance for the Four Corners area to offset job and tax revenue losses.
``This is a big step for PNM and for New Mexico,'' said Tom Fallgren, vice president of generation. ``Our step out of coal though is not a step out of communities that we have been serving and have been a part of for so long. We will continue to identify innovative ways to support economic development in those areas impacted by this transition.''
An early exit also would meet conditions included in PNM Resources' recently announced plan to merge with Avangrid, a U.S. subsidiary of global energy giant Iberdrola.
Environmentalists have concerns about the Four Corners proposal, saying it would deepen the Navajo Nation's reliance on fossil fuels.
Alabama Archives Faces its Legacy as Confederate 'Attic'
By JAY REEVES
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ Hundreds of memorials glorifying the Confederacy had been erected by the time Marie Bankhead Owen built what may have been the grandest: The Alabama Department of Archives and History, which cataloged a version of the past that was favored by many Southern whites and all but excluded Black people.
Owen used taxpayer money to turn the department into an overstuffed Confederate attic promoting the idea that the South's role in the Civil War was noble rather than a fight to maintain slavery.
Now, amid a national reckoning over racial injustice, the agency is confronting that legacy in the state where the civil rights movement was born. In June, leaders formally acknowledged the department's past role in perpetuating racism and so-called lost cause ideals.
``If history is to serve the present, it must offer an honest assessment of the past,'' Director Steve Murray and trustees said in a ``statement of recommitment.''
Confederate relics have come under renewed scrutiny since the police killing of George Floyd in May sparked outrage about the history of racism in the U.S. The wave of protests that followed toppled some monuments and cities removed others as schools decided to part ways with their Confederate names.
Murray said the department wanted to offer more educational resources after Floyd's killing in Minneapolis and issued the statement after realizing it had to acknowledge ``that our agency was responsible in many ways for some of the intellectual underpinnings of the development of systemic racism in Alabama.''
``The response has been overwhelmingly positive,'' said Murray. Aside from acknowledging its racist past, the agency recommitted itself to recruiting additional minority staff and telling a more complete history is the state in the future.
Self-taught genealogist True Lewis, who is Black and was born in Pennsylvania, was apprehensive when she first visited the agency about two decades ago to search plantation records for information about her ancestors, who were enslaved in southeast Alabama. Workers were helpful, she said, but the only other people in the building who looked like her were on the janitorial staff.
``You always had that feeling of, `You aren't supposed to be in this space,''' Lewis said.
The agency's recommitment was meaningful to her because it acknowledged sins of the past.
``It was like they heard my whisper when they said that,'' she said.
Founded in 1901, the year Alabama adopted a white supremacist constitution that's still in effect, Archives and History opened with Owen's husband, Thomas Owen, as its first director. Located in the state Capitol, where Southern delegates formed the Confederacy in 1861, the department focused on gathering Confederate records and artifacts.
With the country's first publicly funded, independent archive, Alabama soon became a national model for collecting public records, according to retired Auburn University historian Robert J. Jakeman, who wrote about Marie Owen. Other states of the old Confederacy followed suit.
``What Owen did definitely started a chain reaction across the Southern states,'' said Daniel Cone, who teaches at Auburn and wrote about Tom Owen.
Marie Owen took over the department in 1920 after her husband's death. The agency already had amassed far more items than it could safely store or catalog, and the problem got worse under ``Miss Marie.''
In a more spacious, white-columned building dedicated in 1940, Owen led the agency even more in the direction of becoming a storehouse of cultural items and Confederate relics that excluded the history of the Black people enslaved on Southern plantations, following her pattern of extolling the Confederacy and disregarding minorities.
The Ivy League-educated historian John Hope Franklin, an African American, wrote of meeting Owen during his first research visit to Montgomery in the mid-1940s in his autobiography ``Mirror to America,'' published in 2005. Owen used a racial slur in asking whether he'd seen a Black man from Harvard who was supposed to be in the building.
``Before I could recover myself sufficiently for a reply, a voice reached us from the outer room. It was the secretary, who could hear everything, since the door was open. `That's him, Mrs. Owen, that's him,''' Franklin wrote.
The agency, which includes a museum, began changing after Owen retired in 1955. But generations of schoolchildren remember it in large part for its Civil War displays, which included old weapons, flags and uniforms.
Edwin Bridges took over as director in 1982 and began shifting the department's focus away from the ``lost cause.`` Today, its museum displays tell more a complete history that includes Native Americans, the horrors of slavery, the Civil War and the modern civil rights movement, which began with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and '56.
Some have questioned whether the department would jettison its Confederate holdings, considered among the most extensive in the nation, but Murray said that won't happen.
``We see the process as being one of broadening the scope of our effort and our work, telling a full story of Alabama's history,'' he said.
A bust of Marie Owen is located prominently in the Archives and History building, and Bridges said she and her husband deserve credit for what they built, even with its flaws.
``They were driven to focus on Southern history, Confederate history, because that is what white leadership, the white voters of Alabama, cared about from the 1920s through the 1970s,'' Bridges said.
Historians are watching to see whether the department further breaks with the legacy of Owen and pro-Confederate narratives or falls back toward the long-accepted path in a mostly white, Republican-controlled state.
Frazine K. Taylor, a former employee of the department and the first Black president of the Alabama Historical Association, said making the statement ``took courage,'' but Archives and History still needs a more diverse staff and additional collections to tell the ``complete story'' of Alabama.
``In the next year, we'll look back and see if some of that has been accomplished or it was just something that was said at the time, at the heat of the moment,'' Taylor said.
Northern Arizona Military Site Eyed for Economic Development
BELLEMONT, Ariz. (AP) _ A low-profile military base first established during World War II is being eyed as a potential site for future economic development projects in northern Arizona.
Pending legislation in Congress would allow the U.S. Army to transfer about 4.7 square miles (12 square kilometers) of land at Camp Navajo to the state Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.
The sprawling installation at Bellemont about 11 miles (16 kilometers) west of Flagstaff is currently used and run by the Arizona National Guard, which is part of the state Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.
The transfer is a provision in the annual defense authorization bills approved by the House and Senate. Those bills essentially must be melded on final version to be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.
A bipartisan trio of Arizona lawmakers _ Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic Reps. Tom O'Halleran and Ruben Gallego _ worked to include the Camp Navajo transfer in each chamber's bill.
Transfer supporters say management of the land by the state would make it easier for businesses to locate in and around Camp Navajo.
The legislative process has taken nearly five years after originally starting with the help of the late Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
``This is like a miracle to have this happen,'' said Julie Pastrick, president of the Northern Arizona Military Affairs Council and CEO of the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce.
The land transfer would encourage private investment in the area ``and that will definitely shape the future and that landscape,`` Pastrick said. ``We have fought for economic diversifications for so long.''
Arizona already has a large defense industry, but most of its jobs are centered in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.
Camp Navajo's location along a both a major rail line and Interstate 40 makes it an attractive location for many businesses.
Camp Navajo itself could be an asset because many of its nearly 800 concrete igloo bunkers built to store munitions and other sensitive material could be useful to defense industries.
Travis Schulte, legislative liaison with the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, said the transfer also could contribute to forest restoration.
Last year, Northern Arizona University tested the viability of a wood chipping operation at Camp Navajo and showed that it could be profitable. The college took materials from local forest thinning efforts and shipped and sold them to a company in South Korea.
Schulte said authorization of the land transfer would be followed by surveying , finalization of exactly which acres would be included and a detailed study of environmental factors and economic development opportunities.
According to the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, Camp Navajo was established in 1942 as the Navajo Ordinance Depot to support U.S. forces fighting Japan in the Pacific during World War II. Its name changed to the Navajo Army Depot in 1965, Navajo Depot Activity in 1982 and Camp Navajo in 1993.
The installation has been under the Arizona National Guard's operational control since 1992. The Guard and other military service branches use the site for training.
Maine Groups Get Help Assisting Marginalized During Pandemic
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ A Maine organization is distributing more than $200,000 in grants to benefit marginalized communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Maine Initiatives said the funding boosts bring the total amount it has provided to more than $500,000. The group has given the grants to more than 50 organizations.
Maine Initiatives said one of the grants is going to Cambodian Community Association of Maine, which is delivering food to immigrant families affected by a coronavirus outbreak at a food processing facility in the state. Another is designed to aid the Wabanaki Women's Coalition in its effort to support Native American women who are victims of domestic abuse.
Maine Initiatives said the organizations it is supporting ``understand what a moment of crisis requires and they are adapting and organizing to respond.''
Company's Bid to Build Dams on Tribal Land a Step Closer
TUBA CITY, Ariz. (AP) _ Federal regulators have accepted a Phoenix-based company's application for a preliminary permit to look further into building hydro-powered dams on tribal land.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission confirmed the acceptance in a letter Tuesday to Pumped Hydro Storage LLC, opening the door for public comment on the controversial proposal on the Navajo Nation.
The move by the commission gives the company three years to study the site in Big Canyon west of Tuba City but doesn't authorize land disturbance.
The company developed the idea after getting pushback for initially floating projects on the Little Colorado River. Manager Steve Irwin said he received overwhelming criticism that building dams on the river would disrupt the habitat of the endangered humpback chub. The company secured preliminary permits to study those sites but will scrap the proposals if the Big Canyon project goes forward.
The Big Canyon proposal includes four dams to generate electricity using groundwater. The canyon is a tributary to the Little Colorado River.
Environmental groups, including the Grand Canyon Trust, believe the project will threaten the water and habitat along the river.
The proposal to move water between upper and lower reservoirs to generate power when the demand is high would need the blessing of the Navajo Nation. Tribal President Jonathan Nez has previously said he would not support development without the approval of nearby Navajo communities.
Activists Work to Increase Montana Reservation Census Count
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Native American activists are working to increase the number of Montana reservation residents counted in the 2020 national census.
Outreach workers hired by Montana Native Vote are promoting participation in the upcoming federal count, The Billings Gazette reports.
U.S. Census Bureau officials hope to increase the number of applications to work on Montana's seven reservations from 775 already received to 1,500.
Outreach efforts include distributing census pledge cards, which are postcards filled out by residents to be mailed to them as reminders shortly before the census begins April 1.
During the past decade, the state received about $2,000 per year in federal money for every resident counted in the 2010 census, The Montana Complete Count Committee said.
Census projections show Montana could gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives if its residents are fully counted.
Representation for Native people is at risk of being diluted if they are undercounted, Montana Native Vote Program Manager Ta'jin Perez said.
``It gives away their political voice, their power to advocate what's important for their communities and their families,'' Perez said.
Rangers' Videos Share Yellowstone's Wonders During Crisis
By MICHAEL WRIGHT
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) _ In the middle of the 17th minute of the Facebook Live video, Mark Miller reached for his guitar.
The park ranger, fully clad in green and gray, had been laying out the history of Yellowstone National Park, which he was standing in. He had talked about the Native American tribes that called the park home, the Lewis and Clark expedition and John Colter, the first European to explore what would become the world's first national park.
Miller had talked about how some didn't believe Colter's stories of the future Yellowstone and how the mountain man was ridiculed. And Miller had asked the audience _ stuck at home all over the world _ to contemplate why people explore new places.
Now it was time for a song.
``Once there was a mountain man with strange stories to tell ...,'' Miller sang, beginning a tune he wrote called the ``Mountain Man Tribute Song.''
It's meant to honor the likes of Colter and Jim Bridger and the tribes who called the area home first, crediting them with recognizing the value of Yellowstone.
Two-and-a-half joyful minutes later, he put the guitar down and picked up his history lecture somewhere in the 1860s.
The video, posted to Yellowstone's Facebook page in early April, was the second in a series the park's education rangers have been producing while the park is closed to visitors. Twice a week, rangers have used the videos to explain complex science and history to people, giving them a window into the park.
``It's a way to share the wonders of Yellowstone in this time we're all in,'' Miller said.
The series grew out of the ashes of canceled educational programs. Bob Fuhrmann, supervisor of Yellowstone's youth programs, said 30 school groups were scheduled for programs in the park this spring and would have encountered rangers like Miller. But with the closure, the programs were all canceled.
So Fuhrmann and the staff who were going to work on those programs had to adapt. They shifted their focus to enhancing the park's ``distance learning'' offerings, including live virtual visits with classes on different online platforms and recording some of their programs.
Facebook Live became one of the tools they were using for that. Fuhrmann said it gets their work in front of more eyes _ not just teachers and students.
``It's a great way to engage with a larger audience in an easy way,'' Fuhrmann said.
The first Facebook Live video featured two rangers standing in the snow outside the Albright Visitor Center, talking about the ways animals adapt to winter. Since then, rangers have given presentations on birds, geysers, bison, the microbes inside the park's thermal features and more.
A lot of people tune in. The video of Miller talking and singing through the park's history has been viewed more than 120,000 times, and the comments come from all over the world.
``Watching from Mississippi,'' one commenter wrote.
``Thank you for bringing Yellowstone to Germany!'' wrote another.
Some weren't strangers.
``Your Mom and Dad watched you from Minnesota, Ranger Mark!''
Miller has been a seasonal ranger in Yellowstone since 2017. He lived a couple different lives before that. The native Minnesotan first worked in the wood products industry for about a dozen years, then in ministry and Christian music for about a dozen years. He worked on staff at a few large churches and produced records and wrote songs under the label Vineyard Music.
He and his wife hit ``empty nesthood'' in their 40s and decided to move west. He picked up seasonal ranger jobs at a few different parks before landing in Yellowstone three years ago. He's been here ever since.
He's been stationed at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone the past few summers. He'd been hired as a seasonal education ranger for the spring educational programs, which is how he finds himself in front of the camera for some of the Facebook Live videos.
His songwriting talent has been handy. He had written part of the ``Mountain Man Tribute Song'' to sing at evening programs at the canyon and developed it further this spring. He has another called ``Hey Bear'' _ more than a few Facebook commenters requested that song during his live video.
``It's part of my creativity, and like all of us education rangers, we're in a period where we're needing to get more and more creative in providing educational opportunities for people all around the planet,'' Miller said.
The sight of a park ranger holding a guitar surely convinces more people to stop scrolling. At the end of the video, after he'd traced Yellowstone's history to its designation as a park in 1872, Miller was asked what his favorite song is.
He picked the guitar back up and launched into one just about everybody would know.
``Give me a home,'' Miller sang, ``where the buffalo roam...''
US Grants Navajo Nation Authority to Use Unassigned Airwaves
PHOENIX (AP) _ The federal government is giving the Navajo Nation temporary authority to use unassigned airwaves to provide wireless broadband service over the tribe's sprawling reservation that includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
The Federal Communications Commission said its wireless telecommunications bureau granted the requested authority for 60 days to help the tribe's emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to the commission, the authority should help the tribe ``during this challenging time`` as reservation residents work from home and increasingly rely on telemedicine and remote learning.
Many residents in remote areas without broadband service sit in vehicles parked near local government centers, fast-food restaurants and grocery stores to connect to Wi-Fi.
President Nixon and the Sacred Lake: Bill Preserves History
By MORGAN LEE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ It was 1970, the U.S. president was Richard Nixon and members of a small Native American community in northern New Mexico traveled to Washington to press their case for reclaiming a sacred alpine lake from federal control.
The story of the return of Blue Lake and 75 square miles (195 square kilometers) of surrounding national forest land to the people of Taos Pueblo _ finalized with Nixon's signature in December 1970 _ is being retold 50 years later, as tribal leaders and state legislators look for ways to preserve documentation and memories of the landmark victory for indigenous rights.
A legislative proposal would devote $350,000 from the state general fund to help preserve photographs, transcripts and news articles and develop exhibits and educational lessons about the campaign to reclaim Blue Lake, a site prized as an integral part of Indian pueblo culture and ceremonial traditions. The lake is perched in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains more than 2 miles (3 kilometers) above sea level at the headwaters of the Upper Rio Grande.
Bill sponsor Sen. Bobby Gonzales, a Democrat from the adjacent town of Taos, described the decades-long effort to reclaim the Blue Lake site _ culminating in the halls of Congress _ as a battle of persuasion and public relations. The area first fell under direct U.S. management as forest land in 1906.
In testimony to a state Senate panel, Taos tribal council member Gilbert Suazo said the return of Blue Lake was a turning point in his people's history. He said it's a milestone in the 20th century Indian rights movement toward greater autonomy in governance and education.
``It was not like a radical kind of thing. It was actually a tribal cause, a tribal matter, and that's the way we worked it,`` said the former Taos Pueblo governor, who testified before a congressional committee in the summer of 1970.
A breakthrough came after a meeting with U.S. Rep. Manuel Lujan Jr., a newly elected New Mexico Republican who would go on to serve as Interior secretary under President George H.W. Bush.
``I'll look into it, I'll let you know''' was the initial answer, said Suazo, a man in his mid-20s at the time. ``And then he actually wrote a letter back. ... He said, `I will do what my heart tells me to do and I will support this.'``
Taos claims to ancestral lands were competing for attention with movements to reclaim land grants dating back to the Spanish-colonial era and Mexican rule.
``He was a Hispanic congressman, and there were Hispanics that were against the return. For him to step out like that was very significant,'' Suazo said.
Newly proposed state legislation would provide funding for commemorative celebrations, a short documentary film and educational materials that eventually may reside at a heritage center at Taos Pueblo.
Tribes Break Ground on Hatchery That Aims to Restore Salmon
MILTON-FREEWATER, Ore. (AP) — The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation has broken ground on a long-awaited hatchery in the Walla Wall River basin.
During a ground-breaking event at the South Fork Walla Walla Chinook salmon spawning facility outside Milton-Freewater,
Tribal Board of Trustees Vice Chair Jeremy Wolf said at the ceremony last week that the spring Chinook hatchery, a more than $20 million project funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, is anticipated to open in the spring of 2021.
It could bring more than 2,000 adult salmon back to the Walla Walla Basin by 2025, he said. According to the BPA, it could eventually return 5,000 adult salmon to the basin each year.
“This is going to benefit the entire system of Walla Walla, and the whole state,” Wolf said.
It’s a project that has been a part of an overall comprehensive program related to the health of fish and water in the Walla Walla Basin for more than 30 years now. The site already has a spawning facility for salmon and steelhead released into the Umatilla Basin, and the addition of an onsite hatchery will allow the tribes to localize the egg-rearing process.
Prisoners Raising Money for Native American Crime Victims
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ Prisoners at the South Dakota State Penitentiary are trying to raise money and awareness about Native American women who are crime victims.
The non-profit organization. `Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women' says Native American women are more than twice as likely to experience violence than any other demographic.
The inmates made 200 pairs of earrings and made $5,000 which they donated to Urban Indian and Health of Sioux Falls and Rapid City.
Connie Hopkins, vice-president of prisoner support, tells KELO-TV the money will be used in a variety of ways to bring awareness to what some say is an epidemic when it comes to Native American women.
``It's going to help them get more media out there or pay for fliers or to help people travel to go look for these women,'' Hopkins said.
The U.S. Department of Justice found that American Indian women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average.
Senators Want to Restore Native Plants to US National Parks
BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) _ A pair of U.S. senators believes restoring native plants in national parks around the country could help beautify and improve some of America's most beloved public places.
The effort is led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington. They've called the bill the Native Plant Species Pilot Program Act and said it would encourage the National Park Service to increase use of native plant materials on land the service stewards.
The use of native plants would benefit wildlife, human health and the environment, Collins and Cantwell said. Collins said the proposal would be especially beneficial for Acadia National Park in Maine.
``Acadia's native plant communities includes many species such as the blueberry barrens near the mountain summits, the towering white pines in older forests, and the cranberry bogs along Northeast Creek that contribute to Maine's iconic landscape,`` Collins said.
Greta Thunberg's North Dakota Photo is at National Library
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ A photo of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg at a Native American reservation in North Dakota has been archived at the Library of Congress in Washington.
Shane Balkowitsch, who took the photo, preserved the image on a glass plate and titled it ``Standing For Us All.'' Balkowitsch told the Bismarck Tribune that it's his ``most important work to date.''
The photo shows 16-year-old Thunberg looking into the distance during a visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. It was preserved using a method known as ``wet plate collodion,'' which involves wetting glass with various chemicals before inserting the plate into a camera and developing the photo.
``I wanted to give nature its due respect on the plate,'' Balkowitsch noted.
The photographer said the image ``wasn't supposed to happen,'' but it's the one that Thunberg chose to share with the world. Thunberg posted it on Twitter when she left North America on Nov. 13.
Balkowitsch had heard Thunberg would be at the reservation and made plans to meet her there, since she wasn't able to come to his studio. He recalled being told he only had 15 minutes.
Library of Congress visitors can request to view the plate. Balkowitsch said the plate will outlast any other printed photograph of Thunberg because it's made using silver, which does not fade over time.
``This plate will be here long after her and I are gone,`` he said.
Another image, a close-up Thunberg's face, will be featured at the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
Father, Son Plead Guilty in Black Market Eagle Trafficking
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ A father and his adult son have pleaded guilty in South Dakota to federal charges in a widespread case that offered a glimpse into the illegal trafficking of eagles and other protected birds.
Troy Fairbanks and his son, Majestic Fairbanks, were among 30 people and pawn shops indicted in 2017 as part of a two-year investigation into the black-market trade of eagle carcasses, eagle parts and feathers.
Prosecutors say they found more than 100 eagle carcasses or eagle parts in the Fairbanks' Rapid City home, according to the Rapid City Journal.
Eagle heads or wings can fetch hundreds of dollars, though sellers sometimes exchange the eagle parts for other animal parts, such as bear claws, buffalo horn caps or animal hides. The eagle parts are often used in Native American-style handicrafts.
Undercover investigators say they purchased protected bird parts from suspects in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and Iowa.
Troy Fairbanks pleaded guilty in federal court in Rapid City to wildlife trafficking conspiracy, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. Majestic Fairbanks pleaded guilty to violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which is punishable by up to one year in prison. Last month, Majestic's brother, Troy Young Fairbanks, pleaded guilty to violating that act.
Art Exhibits at Albuquerque Airport Draw Attention
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Albuquerque's airport is getting international attention for its current display of art.
The Sunport's Lowriders and Hot Rods Car Culture exhibit has landed a spot on the latest list of top airport exhibits in the world by the quarterly publication ArtDesk.
The current exhibit features an array of photos and a 1964 Chevy Impala.
The airport also has a permanent collection of more than 100 pieces that include Native American, Hispanic and Southwestern works overseen by Max Baptiste, who has taken on the airport's newly added role of art curator.
Baptiste tells Albuquerque television station KRQE he's not surprised about the recent recognition since New Mexico is what he describes as ``an amazing arts community.''
He says the aim is to create a sense of pride and that airports are a great spot for doing that.
Native American Football Enjoys a Rebirth in South Dakota
By STEPHEN GROVES
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ When the Kul Wicasa Oyate of Lower Brule High School meet the Crow Creek Chieftains in the first All Nations Football Conference championship in South Dakota, only one team will fulfill its dream of claiming a league title.
But for many players in this new Native American league, where students defy both athletic and socio-economic statistics and dream of playing in a championship game at ``the Dome'' at the University of South Dakota, simply getting onto the field has provided a personal victory.
Tribal schools in South Dakota formed their own 9-man league this year, a move that coaches and players say has rejuvenated the sport in Native American communities statewide. Some coaches saw their existing teams grow by two-thirds; two schools are fielding their first teams ever.
Supporters say the teams are giving students a reason to stay in school and out of trouble, and communities are coming together to rally around the teams. Reservations in South Dakota suffer from high rates of crime and drug use, and many schools struggle to keep students from dropping out.
``There's a lot of negative stuff that goes on on the rez,'' said Scott Obago, Lower Brule's 17-year-old quarterback. ``Staying at practice, staying with friends keeps you away from all that stuff.''
Football has historically been played widely by Native Americans, dating to the days of greats like Jim Thorpe. But in recent years, many smaller schools found themselves overmatched by schools with larger rosters and bigger players.
Leonard ``Yamni'' Jack, the athletic director at Lower Brule, said reservation schools often don't have the money to build weight rooms, fields, and equipment needed to compete with better-funded public schools. Participation in football also sometimes suffered on reservation schools, where basketball is king and some potential players didn't want to risk injury.
Last year, the Lower Brule staff came up with a plan to form their own league, open to schools with at least 50% Native American students and to both Native American and non-Native American athletes. Twelve schools joined, including two that had never had a football team.
Organizers say the first season was a success. Two schools from Nebraska are planning to join next year.
``Football has been reinvigorated in the tribal communities,'' Lance Witte, Lower Brule's superintendent, said.
With fewer injuries than in previous years when they were part of statewide competition, coaches have seen a surge in interest. Lower Brule coach Zeke Prado said some of the students who tried out had never played football, and he relished the chance to teach them new skills and encourage them to keep their grades up, so they would be eligible to play.
The team's success this year has also been a source of pride and involvement from the community. The rivalry between tribal schools can be intense because many of the athletes have relatives and friends who go to schools that may be separated by just a few miles. Jack, the athletic director, said the pep rally before the championship game drew the most parents he's ever witnessed.
It's not just the winning teams that call the new league a success.
Takini High School in Howes formed a team for the first time this season and didn't win a game. But coach Donald Schroeder said he's expecting more students to come out next year _ including a few girls.
``We could have something here really special,'' Schroeder said.
Native American Population Grows in Clark County
LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Nevada's Clark County has one of the fastest growing Native American populations in the country but local leaders say they're struggling to receive the recognition they deserve.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that between July 2017 and 2018 the number of Native American people living in the county that includes Las Vegas grew at a faster rate than any other large county in the nation. In fact, among counties with populations of 20,000 or more, Clark County had the fastest annual growth rate of Native American people in three of the past five years.
Experts told the Las Vegas Review-Journal more Native Americans are moving to Clark County because of its strong economy, employment opportunities and proximity to reservations in Arizona, Utah and Southern California.
Rulon Pete, the executive director of the Las Vegas Indian Center, has seen an uptick in demand for his nonprofit's employment programs for Native Americans. Unemployment rates on tribal lands are higher than the U.S. average, and Pete said many of the 150 to 200 people he assists each year have moved to seek employment in construction, health care and hospitality.
``Vegas presents itself as a place you can be able to have a good paying job and where people can sustain a decent lifestyle,'' said Pete, who is a member of the Cedar Band of Paiutes in Utah. ``They stay around and find out there are better opportunities here, and they spread the news back home.''
Today about 50,000 people who self-identify as Native American live in Clark County, according to census statistics. Close to half are multiracial and most live in urban areas. Census officials report less than 1,000 live on reservations for the county's two federally recognized tribes, the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe and the Moapa Band of Paiutes.
Despite the population growth, Native Americans still represent only about 2% of the county's population.
Pete and others say they feel like they are still fighting to be recognized by the community at large.
That was the feeling in September, when the Clark County Commission punted voting on a resolution to designate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples' Day. Commissioners disagreed whether to hold the new celebration on the same day as Columbus Day, a reasoning some Native Americans see as a continuation of their historic marginalization.
Similar measures have been adopted by state and local governments across the nation, some of which have opted to stop celebrating Italian explorer Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the Americas.
``The (Columbus Day) celebration was the discovery of America, but there were millions of people who were here,'' said Las Vegas resident Mercedes Krause, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation of South Dakota who serves on Nevada's Commission on Minority Affairs. ``I think it's a step toward recognition. We are here. We're part of our community.''
County Commissioner Tick Segerblom said he plans to improve the proposal and try again next year.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com
New Chairman Brings Tribal Perspective to Business Group
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Mike Canfield is the first tribal member to serve as board chairman for a business advocacy group that covers New Mexico's largest metropolitan area.
Canfield is a member of Laguna Pueblo and will lead the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.
As CEO of Indian Pueblos Marketing, Canfield previously led an ambitious effort to reshape the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center with $70 million in new development. He also headed the Laguna Industries manufacturing operation.
He tells the Albuquerque Journal that as the chamber's board chairman, he wants to give a voice to a perspective that hasn't always been well represented in Albuquerque's business community.
``We have a lot of (tribal) community members here, in business and otherwise, and it's nice to have that perspective,'' he said.
Canfield took over in July. Since then the chamber has moved into a new downtown office, revamped its logo and website and thrown support behind a bond measure that would, among other issues, establish a homeless shelter that supporters say would help address persistent crime and homelessness issues.
Canfield said it's important as tribal members to be involved where they can.
In 2017, the state's 19 pueblos brought more than $608 million into New Mexico, according to a study conducted by the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research.
Canfield's focus has been on helping businesses as well as working with chamber staff on city-wide issues.
Terri Cole, president and CEO, said the Albuquerque chamber looks at its mission a bit more broadly, focusing on systemic issues that affect the city's business community.
Cole said the chamber has identified ``bold issue groups,'' or BIGs, facing the city: public safety, downtown transformation and education reform. She said the chamber has partnered with a wide variety of groups to make headway on each of those issues.
``We focus on making the community a better place,'' Cole said. ``So being community-minded is a priority.''
Canfield said he also wants to work on addressing Albuquerque's persistent negative image. While he acknowledged that Albuquerque still has significant problems, he said he'd like to work on positive messaging, broadcasting some of the elements that make Albuquerque unique, rather than harping on negative aspects of the city.
``We're not Denver, we're not Phoenix, we're not Dallas, and I don't think we ever want to be,'' Canfield said.
Finland Agrees to Return Native American Remains to Tribes
CORTEZ, Colo. (AP) _ Finland has agreed to return to Native American tribes ancestral remains and artifacts taken more than a century ago from what is now Mesa Verde National Park in the Southwest United States.
The White House announced the agreement during a news conference in Washington on Wednesday. The agreement involves the remains of about 20 people and 28 funerary objects.
The remains and items were excavated by a Swedish researcher in 1891 and later became part of the collection at the National Museum of Finland.
U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says President Donald Trump and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto acknowledged the sanctity of the items to the two dozen tribes that are culturally connected to the Mesa Verde region.
That list includes tribes in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Texas.
Michigan State Students Push for Multicultural Meeting Space
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ Michigan State University students are advocating for a new multicultural facility on campus to house minority organizations and provide meeting spaces and resources for students from marginalized communities.
University data indicates MSU welcomed its most diverse class to date in fall 2018. And yet minority organizations are spread across campus in small basement offices, according to the Council of Racial and Ethnic Students, which represents black, Latino, Native American and Asian student groups.
``Some of the spaces we have been provided with, like the Mosaic, can only fit about 72 to 76 (people),'' said Sarah McConville, an MSU junior and chief diversity and inclusion officer for the Residence Halls Association. Culturas de las Razas Unidas _ which aims to promote Latino/Chicano awareness at MSU _ has hosted more than 100 attendees at its meetings, she said.
``They don't understand why our spaces aren't enough,'' McConville said.
McConville, an organizer for Students for a Multicultural Building, told the Lansing State Journal that she started a petition last spring to win support for an inclusive facility to serve as a collaborative space where members from all communities can meet, grow and learn.
Dr. Terrence Frazier, vice president of MSU student affairs and services and interim director of Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions, said he supports the idea of a multi-ethnic center.
``A lot of the organizations are centered in the Mosaic in the union or OCAT and across campus,'' said Frazier. ``Having a building would be an additional resource to come together and learn about one another and have a more informal way of networking.''
The drive for such a center on campus dates back to the 1960s, according to the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions website.
Miracle Chatman, another student working for the establishment of a multicultural center, said she hopes the efforts of Students for a Multicultural Building achieve their long-held goal.
``There have been students in the past who have advocated for the building, but it died out,'' Chatman said.
The organization is examining how other schools, such as University of Michigan, opened their multicultural spaces. The group is preparing an official proposal to present to MSU's administration, Chatman said.
Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com
Researchers Search For Bigfoot In Kisatchie National Forest
By MELINDA MARTINEZ
Alexandria Town Talk
ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) _ In the middle of Kisatchie National Forest, a Bigfoot researcher who calls himself ``Tex-La'', lets out four howls in an area that he and another researcher, Claude, say has visible signs of Bigfoot activity.
Several seconds go by with only the sounds of insects heard all around.
Then, it happens. In the distance, four howls answer back.
Tex-La and Claude discuss the howls and from which direction they came. Tex-La then calls out again with another four howls. After several more seconds, those howls are also answered back.
It is up to those that hear the howls to decide for themselves if they believe the howls came from Bigfoot, a forest animal or a human.
``It is what it is. If you choose to believe that's great. If you choose not to believe, that's great, too,'' said Tex-La.
He recorded the howls and will study them later. He says everything has its own distinct sound _ even Bigfoot.
Claude and Tex-La have left audio devices camouflaged in the trees. Sometimes cameras are left to record nighttime activity. Those recordings, which are hours long, are studied and analyzed.
To avoid harassment and ridicule from those who don't believe in Bigfoot, Tex-La and Claude from Baton Rouge don't want to disclose their full names or the locations in Kisatachie National Forest where they are researching.
``A lot of people don't want to come forward because they don't want to be intimidated,'' said Tex-La about other Bigfoot researchers.
Most don't like to discuss their interest in Bigfoot for fear of repercussions in their jobs or social standings in the community. They also want to avoid those who want to prank them. And Tex-La has had his share of pranks played on him over the years.
``It's something you have to approach with an open mind,'' said Tex-La about researching Bigfoot.
Kisatchie National Forest spans 600,000 acres across Central Louisiana. Tex-La and Claude are investigating an area between Georgetown and Jena where there have been reports of Bigfoot sightings.
Claude does research during the day when he can see tracks, but there are times when he might do a night trek.
``Finding a spot is the luck of the draw,'' said Claude. ``This area here is in the middle of highly visible eyewitness activity.''
Claude said he got fairly good results at the first place he researched. He was able to get photos of a Bigfoot tracks in that area.
``Nothing remarkable, nothing to write home about. But they were _ to my way of thinking _ good tracks.''
But Claude doesn't claim to be an expert.
``Anybody that claims to be an expert is full of it,'' he said. All evidence is based on circumstances.''
Claude became interested in researching Bigfoot while he was at Jedediah Smith State Park in Northern California. While sleeping in his vehicle, he could smell one that was trying to look in through a dark window.
It was the stench that permeated the vehicle that woke him.
``It smelled like 50 gallons of stale urine and an old pile of wet dogs,'' said Claude. ``This is about the most rank odor you can imagine.''
He awoke from a sound sleep wondering what could smell that bad.
As he sat up, he said aloud, ``What is that odor?''
``And suddenly, it disappeared,'' he said. He realized that odor outside his vehicle belonged to Bigfoot.
``That really piqued my curiosity,'' said Claude of the encounter. ``So when I got back here _ realized I didn't have enough money to go roaming back to California again _ I looked up `Bigfoot in Louisiana' and this area is one that's shown predominately over the years, Bigfoot sightings and things like that.''
On this trip, Claude and Tex-La hike to an area where they have found signs of what could be Bigfoot activity.
Some signs of Bigfoot that they look for include twisted tree limbs wound around other tree limbs and marker formations make from branches and sticks.
``There are a lot of interesting tree formations that don't normally occur in nature,'' said Claude.
One such formation involves a ``tree teepee'' he came across. It involves four trees with three bent towards the fourth.
``Limbs are twisted and wrapped around each other,'' said Claude pointing to the section where the trees come together.
Sometimes the way the branches are twisted together could indicate that it is a marker or barrier.
Claude said it could also be a way to get other animals to move to a certain area.
``Bigfoot can make its own game trail,'' said Claude. ``It's interpretative.''
``One thing you have to look out for is the way they are pulled down and pinned so they don't stand up,'' said Claude.
Bigfoot roam, said Claude, and migrate to where game are. Claude and Tex-La said there is also a water source close to the area.
Another sign Claude observed were sticks forming an ``X'' lying on a branch. Another sign includes three parallel sticks lying perpendicular to another stick.
``It's one of the first things I noticed,'' said Claude. ``It is typical of a symbol that Bigfoot uses.
``It's the small things you really have to look for. They are too conform to be natural for the most part.''
Other signs Claude and Tex-La notice include the packed-down pine straw and leaves in the area. This could be from Bigfoot walking in the area, explained Claude.
There is no crunching sound made here as there is in other parts of the forest where the pine straw and leaves aren't packed down, Claude pointed out.
In another area, Tex-La found a tree that looks as if it had been pulled down on purpose. The tree's bark bears an abrasion that Tex-La said could have been made by a hand that was holding the tree while pulling it down.
``You have to be analytical and skeptical of everything you see,'' said Claude.
He does his homework to figure out if trees can naturally do some of the things he's seen or if the weather were a factor.
``You have to be educated yourself,'' said Claude.
He has also left gifts such as a jar of peanut butter hanging eight-feet from a rope in a tree next to a trail, which Claude says is used by Bigfoot.
The peanut butter jar has been hanging in a tree for a while.
``It's a little disappointing that a squirrel or something didn't get it,'' he said.
Asked why he left peanut butter for Bigfoot, Claude replied, ``All animals like peanut butter.''
On previous excursions, he's left apples that were nibbled on by other forest animals.
Tex-La and Claude say there are different species of Bigfoot around North America.
The one in Louisiana is said to be about 6 to 7 feet tall with dark shaggy hair like a sheep dog.
Tex-La said there are primates on other continents, so why couldn't there be one like Bigfoot living in North America?
Even Native American tribes have their own lore and names for Bigfoot or Sasquatch.
But he said people don't want to believe there is a 6-foot gorilla roaming the woods where they camp, hunt or hike.
People reason that if Bigfoot were real, there would be deer or other animal carcasses lying around the woods because Bigfoot would have to eat.
But Tex-La counters with: ``How many dead deer carcasses have you seen walking through the woods?
``There's been scat found with parasites only known to be in primates,'' he said.
Also, a Bigfoot group he belongs to has had DNA samples collected from hair that indicate it is primate in origin.
Sometimes people who walk along a trail may hear something that sounds as if they are being followed, said Tex-La. He explains that this could be Bigfoot shadowing or escorting the hiker.
``To make sure you leave,'' added Tex-La.
But Bigfoot isn't the only reason researchers head into the forest.
``A lot of times it's nice to get out and enjoy what God gave us,'' said Tex-La. ``It makes us get out and explore.''
About 90% of a Bigfoot researcher's time is spent walking in the woods looking for evidence, he said.
After 20 years of research, Tex-La said he still don't know everything. He goes by what he reads or what he views on YouTube.
He says the evidence is there to support that Bigfoot does exist but the world wants more proof.
``It's going to take a body for the world to accept it,'' said Tex-La. Even scientists will want a body.
``But they'll still be skeptical,'' he added.
``It may never be solved in our lifetimes,'' said Tex-La about the Bigfoot mystery.
It is up to the individuals to make up their own minds about about whether to believe in the existence of Bigfoot.
Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, http://www.thetowntalk.com
Scorsese Visits Osage Nation Ahead Of Filming
PAWHUSKA, Okla. (AP) _ Director Martin Scorsese has visited Oklahoma and met with the principal chief of the Osage Nation to discuss filming his upcoming adaptation of ``Killers of the Flower Moon.''
The Tulsa World reported that Scorsese and others involved in the film met with Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and other Osage representatives for about two hours to discuss how the movie will accurately portray the tribe's culture, history and language.
The movie is an adaptation David Grann's nonfiction book ``Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.'' It documents the 1920s slayings of wealthy Osage tribal members after the discovery of oil on their land.
Standing Bear said Scorsese told him Robert DeNiro will play cattleman William Hale. Leonardo DiCaprio is also set to star.
Protest Decries Plan to Detain Migrant Kids at Oklahoma Base
LAWTON, Okla. (AP) _ More than 100 demonstrators are protesting in withering heat outside of an Oklahoma Army base against the Trump administration's plans to detain migrant children there.
Japanese Americans and Native Americans are among those taking part in SaturDAY's march to Fort Sill and rally in front of one of its entrances. Demonstrators are chanting ``Close the camps'' and carrying signs with messages including ``Human Rights Matter'' and ``Liberty and Justice For All.''
The protest comes after a similar rally on June 22 .
Fort Sill was used to house hundreds of Japanese and Japanese Americans by the federal government during World War II. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement recently announced plans to temporarily detain up to 1,400 migrant children at the base near Lawton, which is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of Oklahoma City.
Fort Sill was also used to house migrant children in 2014 during the Obama administration.
Moon Landing, Women's Suffrage Exhibits Open in Bismarck
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ New exhibits on the moon landing and women's suffrage are opening at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck.
The Bismarck Tribune reports that bbjects commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing will be on display until the end of July. The exhibit includes fragments of moon rocks and small state flags that were flown to the moon.
The women's suffrage exhibit will be open until summer 2020. Women first gained the right to vote in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was enacted. American Indian women were granted voting rights with citizenship in 1924.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
Red Rock Canyon Crowding Has Land Managers Studying Changes
LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Federal land managers are considering several ways to address overcrowding at a scenic natural area just a 30-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, entrance fee station upgrades and a cutoff road to return motorists to the visitor center without driving an entire 13-mile one-way loop are among options being studied.
Officials say they're also working to boost cellphone coverage and provide public Wi-Fi service at the visitor center and entrance station.
Visitor numbers have exploded in recent years. More than 3 million people visited Red Rock Canyon in 2018. Before 2013, it never logged 2 million in a year.
The area features hiking trails and rock-climbing routes, towering red and white sandstone cliffs, sheltered canyons with waterfalls, Native American petroglyphs and geologic features.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com
Political Opposition Grows To Nuclear Waste Storage Plan
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Plans by a New Jersey-based company to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors in the New Mexico desert is running into more political trouble, as some of the state's top elected officials are raising red flags.
Congresswoman Deb Haaland became the latest member of the delegation to weigh in Friday, sending a letter to the U.S. Energy Department and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The first-term Democratic lawmaker suggested existing railways weren't built to withstand the weight of the special casks that would be used to transport the high-level waste from sites around the country to southeastern New Mexico.
Haaland said there are no plans for new construction or renovations as part of the project proposed by Holtec International and that cities and states shouldn't bear the cost of the infrastructure improvements needed to ensure safe transportation.
``I believe such a facility poses too great a risk to the health and safety of New Mexicans, our economy and our environment,'' Haaland wrote.
Holtec is seeking a 40-year license from federal regulators to build what it has described as a state-of-the-art complex near Carlsbad.
Holtec executives say the project is needed because the federal government has yet to find a permanent solution for dealing with the tons of spent fuel building up at nuclear power plants.
Members of a U.S. House subcommittee visited Southern California earlier this month for a hearing that centered on the need for a permanent disposal option and the 3.5 million pounds (1.59 million kilograms) of nuclear waste stranded at a defunct nuclear power plant in that state.
The topic of storing nuclear waste will be on the agenda again when the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets next week.
The development of a proposed long-term storage site at Nevada's Yucca Mountain was halted during the Obama administration, although the Trump administration has moved to restart the licensing process despite stiff resistance in Nevada.
Haaland in her letter echoed the concerns of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan. Without a permanent repository, they say the waste could end up stuck in the state indefinitely.
``There must be an open and transparent process that allows for input on what's best for our entire state,'' Heinrich said.
Congressman Lujan said broad support from the state, local communities and any affected Native American communities should be a requirement of any interim storage site.
Holtec spokeswoman Joy Russell said Friday the company appreciates the views of the elected officials and will continue to work with local leaders to ensure it meets all regulatory requirements.
In her letter, Haaland pointed to past studies done by the Energy Department when it was considering Yucca Mountain. She said modeling predicted rail accidents at a rate of 1 in 10,000 shipments.
She also said the agency has found that a severe accident involving one cask of radioactive waste has the potential to contaminate dozens of square miles and result in hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup costs.
State and industry officials also have concerns about potential effects on oil and gas development, as Holtec's proposed site is located within the Permian Basin _ one of the world's most prolific energy production regions.
Exchange: Shoshone Artist's Work Inspires Tribal Activism
By JENNIFER KANE
Reno Gazette Journal
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ There's an American Indian man in oversized reflective sunglasses sitting in the center of a painting. Over his shoulder, there's a mess of dated electronics stacked under a cluttered television set. On the other side, a figure is immersed in a spiritual ritual below an eagle and a sky of billowing clouds.
The painting is a self-portrait of Jack Malotte, a Shoshone and Washoe artist who grew up on the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony reservation and has since made a career of creating prints, posters and paintings that have inspired both environmental and social activism nationwide.
``It's what my living room looked like then,'' the Reno native said of the piece entitled, ``It's Hard to be Traditional When You're all Plugged In.'' ``I was going to sweat lodges, but then too I had all these tangled cords in my home. I drew myself in between these two worlds.''
Much of Malotte's work, now on display at the Nevada Museum of Art, is often about juxtaposition, whether it's tradition versus modernism, or nature and technology.
``While his work celebrates the beauty of the Great Basin landscape, it also tackles important issues related to land use, natural resource extraction, militarization, and legacies of colonialism,'' Nevada Museum of Art David Walker said of Malotte.
Walker called Malotte one of the most significant working artists in Nevada today.
Malotte's depiction of himself in the 1983 ``Plugged In'' self-portrait is stone-faced, but the artist himself is large and jovial. He has thick silver hair and a warm smile. It's hard to tell he harbors any bitterness at all, until you look at his work, which is often dark, biting commentary on how modern technology and military policy have had an impact on Native American culture and livelihoods.
The Nevada Museum of Art this week is opening ``Jack Malotte: Sagebrush Heathen,'' an exhibition that will include many of his earliest works, some of his more recent works and even a mural painted by Malotte this past week on the museum's south wall. The exhibition runs through Oct. 20.
``I'm always trying to figure out how to mix it up,'' said Malotte.
Malotte has been creating art since he was a child. He grew up always doodling, he said, and always admiring his uncle, a draftsman for the local power company in the 1960s.
Inspired, Malotte took drafting classes in high school and went on to study art at what is now the California College of the Arts in Oakland. he spent summers as a wildland firefighter, taking in rare glimpses of untouched Western landscape that later informed his technicolor skies and mountains.
``When you're out there all the time, that's all you think about,'' Malotte said, explaining that nature was always top of mind during his youth.
It wasn't until the late 1970s and early 1980s that his art, and his love for the great outdoors, met a greater purpose. Malotte at the time began to ally himself with variety of grassroots organizations, many of them intent on bringing environmental justice to Native American tribes: Western Shoshone Sacred Lands Association, Seventh Generation Fund and various nuclear testing resistance groups.
From campaigning to preserve Pyramid Lake to protesting toxic waste dumping in the Mojave Desert, Malotte put powerful images to the issues that continue to be hotly debated today. Many of his landscapes feature the horizons of the Great Basin.
``Jack's work brings powerful visual representations to the vision and voices of the Indigenous rights movement. We proudly wear his work on t-shirts, and adorn our posters, publications and letterhead with his graphics,'' said Debra Harry, a gender, race and identity program professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. ``His work transmits our call to protect our land and treaty rights, stop militarization, and promote self-determination.''
Malotte's style was distinct. The colors were molten, taken straight from a Nevada sunset. His media was mixed -- watercolors, ink, acrylic, whatever gets the job done. He used paint splatter, bold text, but also traditional Native American patterns and symbols, such as the eagle, moon and whirlwinds, or what he calls ``that spirit that follows me.''
In many paintings, Malotte depicts environmental travesties: sewage spilling into rivers, birds of prey soaring alongside military jets, and lava-red mushroom clouds exploding in a high desert.
In other works, he depicts stark realities of daily life on the reservation. In one piece, a billboard with a Native American man drinking ``Pow Wow Beer'' hovers above the scene of a car crash in the desert, a tossed beer can spilling onto the roadway.
Malotte wasn't exactly primed to be the visual voice for all Native Americans. Malotte's grandmother used to discourage him from playing with children who were of different tribes, particularly children who were Paiute, even though the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony was made up of three tribes: Shoshone, Washoe and Paiute.
But Malotte knew better. He played down by the river with those kids, and they all grew up talking a little bit of all three languages, not knowing which words were Shoshone and which were Washoe or Paiute.
``My generation, we didn't see ourselves as one or the other,'' said Malotte. ``We saw ourselves as one tribe.''
When Malotte looks at his own work, he can't remember a lot of it. He's produced so much of it, he'd guess thousands of pieces. And he's still creating, as evidenced by the ink under his nails and the paint on his T-shirt.
He not sure what to hope for the future of the environment, but he's happy in his home of two decades now, Duckwater, a community west of Ely. It's 290 miles (466 kilometers) from Reno.
It's wide open, but not without proximity to sites that cause him heartache. He's only a short drive to a number of open-pit gold mines and military installations. A weapons ammunition storage facility and the nation's largest nuclear test site are several hours away. He can see military jets flying over from his home.
``I hope we can keep it together,'' he said.
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com
Montana's Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force Named
HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Attorney General Tim Fox has appointed 11 members to the Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force.
Montana lawmakers created the task force to identify jurisdictional and communication barriers among law enforcement agencies that prevent adequate investigation of missing Native Americans and ways to improve collaboration.
The task force also will oversee a grant program to fund efforts by tribes to identify, report and find missing Native Americans.
The task force members include representatives of all eight Montana tribes along with Deputy Attorney General Melissa Schlichting, the Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse Manager Jennifer Viets and a Montana Highway Patrol trooper.
The task force is scheduled to hold its first meeting on June 11 in Helena. The next day, the Montana Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office are holding a missing persons training in Helena.
Interior Secretary, Tribes Meet Amid Drilling Fight
CHACO CANYON NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, N.M. (AP) _ U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt met with leaders of the Navajo Nation and Pueblo tribes at Chaco Canyon National Historical Park on Tuesday, saying the remote, ancient site that's been central to a yearslong dispute over oil and gas development had "blown him away.''
The meeting at the site near the northwestern corner of New Mexico came at the urging of U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich. He has sponsored legislation with other members of New Mexico's all-Democratic congressional delegation to establish a formal buffer zone around the park held sacred by tribes.
Oil industry representatives say robust protections already are in place within the park and beyond, while Berhardt underscored during his tour that the Interior's Bureau of Land Management has a "complex mission'' of managing a range of land uses.
Berhardt's meeting with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Acoma Pueblo Governor Brian Vallo and others marked his first visit to the park. The Farmington Daily Times reported that he said he expected it would have some influence on the decision-making process as the BLM and Bureau of Indian Affairs work on revamping the resource management plan for the San Juan basin, which includes Chaco Canyon. A draft is expected in a few months.
"This was a major, major effort by humanity and we need to be thoughtful about that,'' Bernhardt said of the cultural site.
A thousand years ago, Chaco had been an economic and ceremonial hub for the ancestors of Pueblo people, whose present-day villages are situated throughout much of New Mexico.
A world-heritage site, the park's stone walls, staircases and other architectural remnants stand against a backdrop of cliffs and rocky outcroppings. Smaller archaeological sites and individual Navajo Nation family allotments can be found beyond the park's boundaries.
Accessible only by rough dirt roads, Chaco takes effort to reach, and supporters say they want to protect the sense of remoteness that comes with making the journey.
The bill that supporters say will protect the Chaco area's archaeological and sensitive landscapes would halt new oil and natural gas lease sales on federal holdings within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) buffer zone around the park.
The Bureau of Land Management in recent years has deferred leasing parcels within that zone, but those who support the protections say legislation is needed to formalize that practice and put it into law.
In January, the Interior's Bureau of Land Management had quietly confirmed on its website that it would push forward with the sale of nine parcels within the informal buffer zone before eventually reversing the decision.
After Long Journey, Bear Spared by Governor Returns Home
By HOLLY RAMER
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ A bear whose life was spared two years ago by New Hampshire's governor has returned to her home turf near Dartmouth College after traveling thousands of miles since her relocation last June.
The state's Fish and Game Department had decided to euthanize the female black bear and three of her young offspring in 2017 after repeated problems with them feeding from trash and bird feeders culminated with two bears entering a home in Hanover. But after a public outcry, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu ordered the animals relocated instead.
The three yearlings were moved that year, and one of them was killed by a hunter in Quebec, Canada, within a few weeks. The mother bear, dubbed "Mink'' by locals, left town to mate and wasn't captured until last year, after she returned with four new cubs last spring. She was tagged, fitted with a tracking collar and moved about 120 miles (193 kilometers) north to a sparsely populated location near the Canadian border.
But last week, Mink made it back to Hanover after traveling a looping route through New Hampshire and Vermont. Andrew Timmins, the bear project leader with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, said Monday that he's been in regular contact with the governor's office and a local bear rehabilitator - and all agree there's no need to take further action at this time.
"This bear has shown us where she wants to be, so let's see if we can do a better job coexisting with her by being more vigilant with food attractants,'' Timmins said.
Officials favoring euthanasia had argued the animals were no longer afraid of humans and likely would find new neighborhoods to frequent if moved, or would eventually find their way back to Hanover.
"We certainly had seen that in other bears in the past. It actually took her longer than we've experienced in the past,'' Timmins said, referring to Mink's journey home.
According to her tracking collar data, Mink spent the winter in a den in Pomfret, Vermont. She was back on the move by April, crossing the Connecticut River to get back to New Hampshire less than two weeks ago. Authorities have gotten few calls about the bear in the last year, and none reporting any trouble, Timmins said. As Mink currently has no cubs, it's possible she may spend more time away from downtown Hanover in search of a mate.
"My sense is she'll wander off and find another bear to hang out with,'' said Sununu, who stands by his decision to intervene.
"We always knew there was a chance that she was going to come back. Fish and Game has been tracking her, and we just hope the people in those towns understand their responsibility in not feeding the bear or unintentionally attracting the bear,'' he said. "In talking to Fish and Game, it's understood that they're going to treat that situation as they would with any bear, making sure that health and human safety is first.''
Sununu isn't the first governor to get involved in wildlife issues.
In 2011, then-Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed an executive order to temporarily block the impending slaughter of hundreds of Yellowstone National Park bison. The Democrat worried transporting the animals could spread disease to Montana livestock. Two years ago, current Gov. Steve Bullock cited Schweitzer's order when he, too, blocked the slaughter of hundreds of Yellowstone bison during a dispute with the state Department of Livestock over plans to ship 40 bison in a quarantine program to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources in 2011 planned to euthanize an orphaned fawn from a chronic wasting disease area before Republican Gov. Scott Walker intervened. Two years later, he told the agency to find less controversial ways of handling captive deer following a public outcry when agents seized and euthanized a deer from a Kenosha animal shelter.
More recently, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned on ending the state's bear hunt in 2017. Since taking office, the Democrat has only curtailed hunting on state-owned land, which accounts for about 40% of the area where black bears are hunted. Murphy said he lacks the unilateral authority to end the hunt and would have to work through the regulatory process.
And just last week in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown slapped down the state wildlife department director's stance backing a proposal to take the gray wolf off the endangered species list. Brown, a Democrat, told federal officials she wanted to "clarify and correct'' Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Curtis Melcher and declare the state and its agencies oppose the proposal.
Associated Press writers Matt Volz in Helena, Montana; Todd Richmond in Madison, Wisconsin; Michael Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey, and Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon, contributed to this report.
Catawba Indian Nation Revives Festival
ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) _ The Catawba Indian Nation is bringing back the Yap Ye Iswa, or Day of the Catawba, festival after a 12-year hiatus.
The free festival is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Catawba Cultural Center.
The festival dates back to 1990 as a way to connect the tribal and non-tribal communities with the Catawba Indian Nation.
Festival-goers will get a taste of the tribe's culture through performances by drummers and dancers to authentic Catawba songs. There also will be traditional art by Catawba artisans, pottery and beadwork demonstrations and traditional Native American food.
The Herald reports the Catawba Indian Nation is the only federally recognized tribe in South Carolina. Its reservation sits on about 700 acres (1.09 square miles) east of Rock Hill.
Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldonline.com
New Mexico Students Help Redesign Jemez Historic Site
LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) _ A group of New Mexico college students is helping redesign the Jemez Historic Site visitor center using multimedia tools.
New Mexico Highlands University announced this week that 15 of its media arts students are creating floor-to-ceiling video projections of historic images and oral histories at the Native American site. The students also are adding interactive touch-screen computer tablets that focus on artifacts and an event called ``Light Among the Ruins.''
Supervisory archaeologist Ethan Ortega says the students used oral histories and texts written by Jemez tribal members to create the new components.
The Jemez Historic Site includes the stone remains of a 500-year-old village and the San Jose church, which dates to 1622.
It is located at Jemez Springs, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Albuquerque.
Bill Making Casino Nights for Charities Lawful Gets Final OK
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ A bill heading to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's desk makes clear charities aren't breaking the law by holding occasional casino ``game nights'' as fundraisers as long as they follow new restrictions.
The House agreed 95-17 on Monday to changes the Senate made on legislation making legal what some nonprofits already have been doing.
Bill supporters say enforcement of the current ban on these events has been uneven, and it would be better to allow nonprofits and some employers and trade associations to hold them, with alcoholic drinks permitted and prizes awarded by raffle. The bill still only applies east of Interstate 26 to comply with Cherokee casino agreements.
Cooper vetoed a casino night measure in 2017, worried it could attract video poker. Lawmakers say those concerns have been addressed.
Artificial Reef to Protect Historic Native American Mounds
MONTEGUT, La. (AP) _ An artificial reef has been created near the Louisiana coast to protect several historic Native American mounds from erosion and rising sea levels.
NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports the Montegut reef was built this month by the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and volunteers. About 200 tons of oyster shells were collected from New Orleans-area restaurants and repurposed to build the partially submerged reef.
This is the second such reef built in Louisiana by the coalition, which started its oyster shell recycling program in 2014. In 2016, the coalition used about 4,000 tons of recycled shells to build a half-mile-long reef in St. Bernard Parish.
Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com
Pace of Bering Sea Changes Startle Scientists
By DAN JOLING
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Yupik Eskimo village of Kotlik on Alaska’s northwest coast relies on a cold, hard blanket of sea ice to protect homes from vicious winter Bering Sea storms.
Frigid north winds blow down from the Arctic Ocean, freeze saltwater and push sea ice south. The ice normally prevents waves from forming and locks onto beaches, walling off villages. But not this year.
In February, southwest winds brought warm air and turned thin sea ice into “snow cone ice” that melted or blew off. When a storm pounded Norton Sound, water on Feb. 12 surged up the Yukon River and into Kotlik, flooding low-lying homes. Lifelong resident Philomena Keyes, 37, awoke to knee-deep water outside her house.
“This is the first I experienced in my life, a flood that happened in the winter, in February,” Keyes said in a phone interview.
Winter storm surge flooding is the latest indication that something’s off-kilter around the Bering Strait, the gateway from the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean. Rapid, profound changes tied to high atmospheric temperatures, a direct result of climate change, may be reordering the region’s physical makeup. Ocean researchers are asking themselves if they’re witnessing the transformation of an ecosystem.
The Bering Sea last winter saw record-low sea ice. Climate models predicted less ice, but not this soon, said Seth Danielson, a physical oceanographer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
“The projections were saying we would’ve hit situations similar to what we saw last year, but not for another 40 or 50 years,” Danielson said.
Walruses and seals use sea ice to rest and give birth. Villagers use sea ice to hunt them. Sea ice is the primary habitat of polar bears. Algae that clings to the bottom of sea ice blooms in spring, dies and sinks, sending an infusion of food to clams, snails and sea worms on the ocean floor — the prey of gray whales, walruses and bearded seals.
Sea ice also affects commercially valuable fish. Sea ice historically has created a Bering Sea “cold pool,” an east-west barrier of extremely cold, salty water at the bottom of the wide, shallow continental shelf. The wall of cold water historically has concentrated Pacific cod and walleye pollock in the southeastern Bering Sea.
“It tends to extend from the Russian side to the northwest,” said Lyle Britt, a fisheries biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It kind of comes down almost like a little hockey stick shape … through the center of the southeast Bering Sea.”
However, when Britt and other NOAA researchers last year conducted annual fish and ocean condition surveys, they got a big surprise: For the first time in 37 years, they found no cold pool.
Researchers found high concentrations of Pacific cod and walleye pollock in the northern Bering Sea. But the species that was supposed to be there, Arctic cod, was hardly found.
More than half the fish landed in U.S. waters come from the North Pacific, and most are caught in the Bering Sea. Chad See, executive director of the Freezer Longline Coalition, a trade association of vessels that target Pacific cod using baited lines, said members caught their quota last year but had to travel farther north.
“Does that mean that the stock is declining, is suffering because of the warming temperatures? Or is it that they’ve moved north and it’s still a vibrant fishery?” See said.
It’s too soon to conclude that atmosphere and ocean changes are due simply to climate change, said NOAA physical oceanographer Phyllis Stabeno, who has studied the Bering Sea for more than 30 years. The southern Bering Sea since 2000 has undergone multi-year stanzas of low and extensive ice, she said.
When sea ice in November began forming as usual, she expected a bounce-back this winter. Instead, warm winds in February mostly cleared the northern Bering Sea of sea ice through the Bering Strait into the Chukchi Sea.
“We’re in winter,” she said. “This is all supposed to be frozen.”
Formation of the cold pool is again in doubt. It could return in the future, but temperatures are trending upward with the rate of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.
Scientists say figuring out the ocean physics is far less of a challenge than projecting the biological ramifications.
“We sort of opened up this whole Pandora’s box of not really knowing how the ecosystem as a whole is going to adjust to that,” Danielson said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service early last summer detected trouble. Resident called with reports of emaciated and dead seabirds.
Common murres, which can use up fat reserves and starve after three days without eating, fly hundreds miles to find fish schools or krill but were washing up dead on shore. Forktail storm petrels, fulmars, shearwaters, kittiwakes, auklets and puffins also died.
No one can say why. Seabird experts wonder whether the presence of more pollock and Pacific cod, which have voracious appetites and are far more efficient hunters of forage fish than seabirds, was a factor.
Dean Stockwell, a research associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a specialty in phytoplankton, said the ocean changes have the potential to affect plant life at the bottom of the food web but it’s too soon to know.
Of immediate concern is whether warmer water will allow harmful algae containing toxins to stay viable long enough for shellfish to eat them and pass toxins to marine mammals and people. Toxins are being carried to the Arctic, Stockwell said.
“The question with global warming types of things is, ‘Can it get a foothold? Can they do damage?’” he said.
Seabird experts wonder if toxins played a role in recent seabird deaths by affecting their ability to forage.
No one has connected the dots, said Britt, the NOAA fisheries biologist.
“At the moment, nobody’s sitting with in-hand a comprehensive research study that covers the birds and the mammals and the fish and the zooplankton all in one synthesized report,” he said, adding that it will take researchers more time to figure out what’s going on.
Meantime, Kotlik resident Keyes is researching climate change effects in her coastal village of 650 as project coordinator for a team working under a Bureau of Indian Affairs program.
The absence of sea ice since mid-February meant taking land routes to visit nearby villages, she said. And seal hunters this spring found bearded seals to harvest but not near the village.
Like the cod fishermen, “They had to go farther north,” Keyes said.
Walz Administration Renews Challenge to Line 3 Oil Pipeline
By STEVE KARNOWSKI
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Gov. Tim Walz said Monday that his administration has renewed its challenge to a regulatory panel's approval of Enbridge Energy's plan to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, saying he wants to let the legal process play out.
Walz told reporters the Commerce Department refiled its appeal last week with the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which had dismissed earlier appeals in the case on procedural grounds. The independent Public Utilities Commission last month gave its final reaffirmation of its earlier approvals of the project, clearing the way for the department and the environmental and tribal groups to refile appeals that began under previous Gov Mark Dayton's administration.
``We think that that appeal should simply be heard, and that's fair,'' he said.
The Democratic governor said the state's appeal doesn't delay the timeline for the permitting process for or construction on the replacement pipeline because the state isn't seeking an injunction. Regulators have told Enbridge that they expect to certify all remaining state permits by November. The company hopes to put the new pipeline into service in the second half of 2020.
Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge wants to replace Line 3, which was built in the 1960s, because it's increasingly prone to cracking and corrosion. Native American and environmental groups argue that the project risks oil spills in pristine areas of the Mississippi River headwaters region, and that the Canadian tar sands oil that the line would carry accelerates climate change.
Enbridge said in a statement that it believes the courts will affirm the commission's decisions, ``which were made in accordance with the law based on full and complete evidence developed and presented over years of open and transparent regulatory and environmental review processes.''
Walz was critical of lawmakers who've tried unsuccessfully to prohibit the state from spending taxpayer money on the appeal, calling their efforts ``a gross violation of the separation of powers.''
The legal issue at the heart of the Commerce Department's appeal is whether Enbridge provided legally adequate long-range demand forecasts to establish the need for the project. The Public Utilities and Enbridge say the company did. Walz said the statutory language is ambiguous, and that there would no basis for the state's appeal if lawmakers clarified the statute.
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said Republicans are ``incredibly disappointed'' by the decision to pursue a further appeal against a new pipeline that would be the ``safest, most environmentally friendly way'' to transport the oil and would create jobs and increase property tax revenues for communities along the route.
``What the governor is trying to do is play both sides,'' Daudt said. ``I think he's trying to say that, `Well this is ultimately going to happen, but I can at least tell the people that were against it I was with them.' And to me that's a failure of leadership.''
Congressional Panel to Tour Chaco Canyon, Hold Hearing
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ Members of Congress are gathering in Santa Fe this month to hold a hearing on the impact of oil and gas development on sites that tribes consider sacred.
The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing takes place April 15 at the state Capitol.
Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva is the chairman of the subcommittee, and New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland is the vice chairwoman.
They'll be joined by other Democratic leaders in the days leading up to the hearing to tour Chaco Culture National Historical Park near the Navajo Nation, and to meet with tribes and environmental advocates.
Native American leaders repeatedly have called on federal officials to ban oil and gas exploration around Chaco Canyon. The site features massive stone structures and other remnants of an ancient civilization.
State's Gambling Future Uncertain, Despite Federal Action
By SUSAN HAIGH
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The gambling debate in Connecticut is far from over, even though the federal government finally approved a planned satellite tribal casino in East Windsor.
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont still has the challenging task of trying to negotiate a wide-ranging gambling agreement that doesn't violate the revenue-sharing agreement between the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes and the state of Connecticut.
Lamont says he would ``love to work something out with the tribes'' that would include sports betting and other forms of gambling.
Lamont has met privately with both tribes and MGM Resorts, the casino company that says it wants to build a casino in Bridgeport and also offer sports betting. Lamont says he has also met with other sports betting companies.
Lamont says he hopes to avoid litigation, but MGM has promised to challenge the East Windsor casino.
ND Lawmakers Approve Eagle Feathers, Plumes at Graduations
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ The North Dakota Legislature has approved a bill that would allow American Indian students to wear eagle feathers or plumes at school graduations.
The Senate passed the House bill 45-0 on Monday.
Fargo Democratic Rep. Ruth Buffalo, the bill sponsor, says American Indians view the eagle feather and plumes as a symbol of honor and pride.
The North Dakota School Boards Association supports the legislation.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates the National Eagle Repository to provide Native Americans with eagle carcasses, parts and feathers.
Lawmakers Mull Eagle Feathers, Plumes at Graduations
By JAMES MacPHERSON
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ American Indian students in North Dakota would be allowed to wear eagle feathers or plumes at school graduations under a measure considered by the Legislature.
Fargo Democratic Rep. Ruth Buffalo, the bill sponsor and member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, told the Senate Education Committee on Monday that some schools in the state forbid the practice of wearing eagle feather and plumes, which are Native American symbols of strength, honor and pride.
They are presented by families or elders to recognize major accomplishments, Buffalo said.
``Students should not have to worry about whether they will be allowed to celebrate their heritage,'' said Buffalo, the first female Native American Democrat elected to the state Legislature.
``Embracing our indigenous culture and identity are essential to our survival,'' she said.
The House passed the bipartisan tribal regalia bill 90-2 last month. The Senate committee did not take immediate action on Monday.
State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and the North Dakota School Boards Association and State Superintendent support the legislation, ad
South Dakota passed similar legislation last year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates the National Eagle Repository to provide Native Americans with eagle carcasses, parts and feathers.
Carol Two Eagles, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, told lawmakers that schools that forbid the practice are violating students' First Amendment Rights.
North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission Director Scott Davis, who also is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, called the legislation ``long overdue'' and it recognizes a ``long, long, long-standing custom for us.''
Davis said in an interview he gets complaints each spring from Native American parents who have been told their children can't wear eagle feathers or plumes at high school graduation.
Sheridan McNeil, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, said her son, Drayton Kary, will wear an eagle feather given to him by his late father at his high school graduation in Bismarck this spring.
``It sends a positive message and shows our youth and the people of North Dakota who we are,'' said McNeil, who's Dakota name translated means ``Respects the People Woman.''
Vienna to Take State Grant Money to Build Amphitheater
VIENNA, Ill. (AP) _ The southern Illinois city of Vienna will use $360,000 in state grant money to build an amphitheater as well as shower facilities at Tunnel Hill park.
The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports that construction is expected to begin this summer on a project that will include a wooden amphitheater for events such as concerts and possibly interpretive history lessons related to the forced relocation of Native Americans called the Trail of Tears that reached its midway point in Vienna.
The bathroom and shower facilities will be built for the Tunnel Hill 100 race in August.
The project is one of 89 across Illinois sharing in $28.9 million from the state that will allow communities to acquire open space and develop and improve recreational facilities.
Montana Tribes Could Access Coal Fund Loans under Proposal
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) _ Montana lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow Native American tribal governments to take out loans from the state Coal Tax Fund for infrastructure projects.
Non-tribal local governments already have access to the fund, which loaned $20.6 million last year.
The Missoulian reports the bill by Democratic Rep. Shane Morigeau of Missoula would make the state's seven federally recognized tribes and the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe eligible, too.
The Montana House Appropriations Committee heard the bill on Monday.
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes council member Carole Lankford says tribal governments have few chances to impose taxes or issue tax-exempt bonds. She says the loan program would allow tribes to accomplish more.
Morigeau says the addition of the tribes would not affect other governments' ability to access the funds.
Judge Won't End Decades-Old Everglades Cleanup Oversight
By CURT ANDERSON
AP Legal Affairs Writer
MIAMI (AP) _ A federal judge on Monday refused to end a decades-old court order that oversees water quality and environmental restoration in the sensitive Florida Everglades.
Miami U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno rejected a motion by the South Florida Water Management District to end a decree signed in 1992. Among other things, the order sets thresholds for the amount of phosphorous in the Everglades, an ingredient in fertilizer from the vast sugar-growing regions to the north that promotes unhealthy plant growth in the sprawling marsh.
Moreno said among his reasons for denying the water district's motion is that its governing board is being largely replaced by new Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has made the environment a top priority. The judge also said it would require a full evidentiary hearing on complicated scientific and environmental issues to end the decree.
``This is the right thing to do at this time,'' Moreno said at a hearing. ``There's really no harm, is there?''
The order allows the water district to file the motion again in the future. The decree is not involved with other water problems that plagued Florida coasts last year, including red tide outbreaks and algae blooms.
The water district and sugar growers say the decree is outdated, thwarts projects that would benefit the Everglades and has been superseded by subsequent state and federal laws that guarantee restoration would continue. The projects include vast reservoirs that cleanse water flowing south from sugar farms before it flows into the Everglades.
``Twenty-seven years is enough. It's enough because it's unnecessary,'' said water board attorney Brian Accardo.
The U.S. government, environmental groups and the Miccosukee Indian tribe disagree, saying the decree is key to pursuing potential violations and ensuring the cleanup projects get built. They say it should remain in place until the Everglades has achieved an environmental balance close to its historical makeup. The Miccosukee reservation is in the Everglades.
``The decree is essential to protect the Everglades,'' said Anna Upton, attorney for the Florida Audubon Society. ``We're not there yet. We've come a long way.''
The decree arose out of a 1988 lawsuit filed by the U.S. against the water district claiming high phosphorous discharges were threatening the long-term future of the Everglades. The state and water district contended the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was equally responsible by moving polluted water into the area.
In 1992, the consent decree was signed involving the federal and state entities, setting goals for reducing phosphorous as well as the levels of water at the right times needed to keep the ecosystem healthy.
A key point in the settlement talks came with then-Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, showed up at a court hearing in 1991 and said: ``We want to surrender. I want to find out who I can give my sword to.''
Florida Department of Environmental Protection attorney Charles DeMonaco said about $2 billion has been spent to date on Everglades projects, with another $1 billion in the pipeline over the next four years. He said the state would also like to see the consent decree end, but only when there is an agreement on how success would be measured.
``We don't want to fight anyone. We want to end it,'' DeMonaco said.
Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt
Massachusetts Tribe Opposes Tribal Land Bill in Congress
AQUINNAH, Mass. (AP) _ A Native American tribe on Martha's Vineyard says it is opposed to federal legislation aimed at securing land for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.
The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head in Aquinnah said in a Jan. 22 letter that a bill introduced by Democratic U.S. Rep. William Keating would have an adverse impact on the tribe's ability to acquire additional ancestral land.
The Cape Cod Times reports that Keating in a statement said his legislation is tailored specifically to make sure the Mashpee tribe is protected from having its land removed from a trust.
The bill would end ongoing litigation challenging the Mashpee tribe's reservation. Aquinnah Tribal Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais says her tribe should be included in the legislation.
Keating's office says it will work with the Aquinnah tribe to address concerns.
Information from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, http://www.capecodtimes.com
Oklahoma Tribal, Congressional Leaders Praise Bill's Passage
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma tribal leaders and members of Congress are applauding the final passage of bill that will end a blood-quantum requirement they have long considered discriminatory.
The Stigler Act Amendments of 2018 were given final approval in the U.S. House last week, and the bill is now awaiting President Donald Trump's signature. The legislation applies to citizens of five Oklahoma tribes: the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations. It ends a requirement for holders of tribal allotment land from those tribes to have a certain percentage of tribal blood.
The Oklahoman reports the bill was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, a Moore Republican and Chickasaw Nation citizen. The rest of Oklahoma's GOP delegation co-sponsored the measure.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker also praised the bill's passage.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com
Japan's Whaling Decision Could Affect Alaska Native Whalers
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) _ Japan's decision to leave the International Whaling Commission could have consequences on subsistence whaling by Alaska Natives.
Alaska's Energy Desk reports Japan announced last month that it's leaving the commission to resume commercial whaling for the first time in 30 years.
John Hopson Jr., chairman of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, says Japan has been a ``strong ally'' in helping Alaska Native whalers obtain their hunting quota for the animals.
The international commission sets the quota for subsistence whaling. The commission approved a rule change last year that made the renewal of aboriginal subsistence whaling automatic.
Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission lawyer Jessica Lefevre says Japan's absence on the commission could shift the balance of power, possibly leading to the automatic renewal rule being challenged.
New Mexico Politics, Immigration Make Headlines in 2018
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ New Mexico Democrats solidified their power over state government during the midterm elections as a long-held GOP congressional seat in a key border district was flipped by a political newcomer and voters sent one of the nation's first Native American congresswomen to Washington.
Politics dominated New Mexico headlines in 2018 along with an economic turn-around fueled by oil and gas and efforts by the Trump administration to address illegal immigration and bolster security along the U.S.-Mexico border.
With Republican Gov. Susana Martinez marking the end of her two-term tenure, attention was on the race for her successor as two of New Mexico's congressional representatives faced off for the top office. Michelle Lujan-Grisham defeated Republican Rep. Steve Pearce as part of a Democratic sweep that included legislative seats and judicial races.
Las Cruces attorney Xochitl Torres Small won New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District to join fellow Democrats Debra Haaland and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in forming the first all-minority, three-member U.S. House delegation in New Mexico's history. Haaland, a former New Mexico Democratic Party chairwoman, is a Laguna Pueblo member. Lujan is member of one of New Mexico's storied political Hispanic families.
Democrats also expanded their majority in the state House of Representatives, building upon a decades-long history in which the party has dominated New Mexico's political scene.
Here are other top stories of the year:
BORDER WALL AND IMMIGRATION
A $73 million contract was awarded to a Montana company in February to design and build replacement fencing along a 20-mile section of the international border in southern New Mexico, prompting a lawsuit by environmentalists.
The work continued as New Mexico deployed fewer than 200 troops to the border at President Donald Trump's request to fight what he called a crisis of migrant crossings and crime.
Immigrant advocates voiced opposition to the increased security and raised concerns about the treatment of migrants. In one case, a transgender woman from Honduras died while in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, sparking claims that she was not provided adequate medical care. In December, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died after she and her father _ along with a group of 163 migrants _ were detained after crossing the border in a remote area in southern New Mexico.
New Mexico marked another year of record oil production, resulting in an economic boost and a significant budget surplus. That means state lawmakers and the next governor will have more options as they set spending priorities for the next fiscal year.
Prompted by previous investments from some of the largest energy companies in the U.S., oil production in New Mexico was on track to surpass 200 million barrels for the year. Federal geologists also released an assessment showing portions of the Permian Basin have the potential to double the nation's onshore oil and gas resources and keep the boom going if prices remain favorable.
With the addition of more than 18,000 jobs over the year, New Mexico saw the largest percentage drop of any state in its unemployment rate from November 2017 to November 2018.
It was billed as a landmark ruling that could reshape New Mexico's education system and how it gets funded. A state district judge in July ruled that New Mexico was violating the rights of at-risk students by failing to provide adequate funding for public schools.
The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed in 2014 by advocacy groups and school districts that accused the state of failing to meeting constitutional obligations to provide a sufficient education for all students.
The case highlighted the plight of English-language learners, Native American youth and students from low-income families.
UNM SPORTS CUTS
The University of New Mexico came under great scrutiny as regents voted twice to eliminate the popular men's soccer team along with other sports as a means to get spending under control within the troubled athletics department. The decision sparked public outcry.
The fiscal concerns came as the university also grappled with fallout from an ongoing investigation into questionable spending and violations of the state's transparency laws .
A report released by the state attorney general's office pointed to emails in which former Athletics Director Paul Krebs appeared to direct employees to destroy emails and documents related to a 2015 Scotland golf trip fundraiser where the university used around $25,000 in public money to cover private donors' expenses.
CLERGY SEX ABUSE
New Mexico's largest Roman Catholic diocese dropped a bombshell in November, announcing it would seek bankruptcy protection after spending more than $50 million over the years to settle hundreds of lawsuits alleging child sex abuse by clergy members.
Archbishop John Wester, leader of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, said he had been contemplating the action for years but that the archdiocese had reached a tipping point and he wanted to ensure there would be resources to provide compensation for victims. He described the filing as an equitable thing to do as church reserves dwindle.
National watchdog groups and attorneys for victims have said the move suggests otherwise. They pointed to money spent by the archdiocese on lawyers in recent months and the tens of millions of dollars in real estate that was transferred to parishes in recent years, effectively reducing the amount of assets held by the archdiocese.
More lawsuits claiming clergy abuse were filed in 2018. Church officials expect there will be more.
VIOLENCE AGAINST NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN
The high rates of violence that have victimized numerous Native American for decades received heightened attention in 2018 as concern grew about the cases of missing and murdered indigenous women _ including in New Mexico.
Federal officials, lawmakers and advocates called for more robust investigations into missing persons cases and the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs ended the year with a hearing that focused on the deaths and disappearances of Native American women.
Democrat Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico said factors compounding the crisis include poor coordination among the multiple law enforcement agencies tasked with investigating crimes on Indian reservations. He and other senators also shared concerns over a lack of government data to measure the scope of a problem.
NEW MEXICO COMPOUND
The search for a Georgia boy led authorities in August to raid a ramshackle compound on the high desert plains of Taos County. They found 11 hungry children living in filth, a dirt tunnel, arms and ammunition, and five adults related to a well-known imam from New York.
The body of 3-year-old Abdul-ghani Wahhaj was found days later during a second search. Authorities said the boy, marked for an exorcism, had been denied medical treatment that he needed for seizures and other ailments.
The adults were initially detained by authorities on suspicion of child neglect. They remain in federal custody on firearms and conspiracy charges. A federal grand jury indictment alleges a man in the group helped train children for potential attacks on schools, law enforcement agencies and other institutions.
The federal agency that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile recommended in May that the production of the plutonium cores that trigger nuclear warheads be split between South Carolina and New Mexico. Officials said the plan would boost the resiliency and flexibility of weapons manufacturing by not relying on a single site.
Production of the cores had been based at Los Alamos National Laboratory _ the northern New Mexico site where the atomic bomb was developed decades ago _ since the 1990s. However, none have been turned out in years because of a series of safety lapses and concerns about a lack of accountability.
U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, both New Mexico Democrats, had pushed to keep the work at Los Alamos, given the hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars in federal funding at stake.
Two passenger bus crashes resulted in a dozen people being killed and nearly 50 injured in accidents on New Mexico's highways.
The first crash came in July along Interstate 25 just north of Albuquerque. Authorities say a bus driver tried to avoid hitting a car that had just slammed into the back of a pickup truck, but instead rolled on its side and was sideswiped by a semi-truck. Three women were killed, and 24 people injured.
The second crash happened in August east of Gallup. Nine passengers were killed, including an infant born prematurely as a result of the collision. Police said a semitrailer going in the opposite direction lost the tread on its left front tire, veered across a median and smashed into the bus. Twenty-five people were injured.
In April, Jennifer Riordan, a well-known figure in New Mexico community relations and communications died after fellow Southwest Airlines passengers said she was partially sucked out the window of a flight bound from New York to Dallas. The jet's engine had blown in midair and shrapnel hit the plane. She left behind a husband and two children.
In January in northern New Mexico, a key Zimbabwe opposition leader died in a fiery helicopter crash along with his wife and three others. Roy Bennett had won a devoted following among Zimbabweans for passionately advocating political change.
New Mexico farmers and water managers wrapped up the year hoping that El Nino would develop and save them from what could otherwise be another dry winter.
The Rio Grande marked some record-low flows in 2018, prompting federal officials to partner with the largest water utility authority in the state and others to keep the river from drying up at least through the Albuquerque stretch.
Elephant Butte, the state's largest reservoir, dipped to just 3 percent of capacity at the end of September. While there was a slight uptick since then, that marked the lowest level since the early 1970s.
Federal drought maps shows the situation has improved in a small portion of northern New Mexico and along the Rio Grande corridor, but the Four Corners region and the southern Colorado mountains that feed the river are still stuck with extreme to exceptional drought.
Associated Press writer Mary Hudetz contributed to this report.
After-School Program Helps Native American Students Succeed
By BLAIR EMERSON
The Bismarck Tribune
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ Graduation rates for Native American students in North Dakota have lagged behind those of white students by about 20 to 30 percentage points for the past decade.
Eight years ago, a local nonprofit sought to change that by starting a program for Native American students, aimed at boosting their academic performances, while also providing them a safe place to go after school.
Youthworks' New Direction program has shown great success with Native American students in Bismarck-Mandan.
``We're really looking to positively impact these young people, and it started because of the graduation rates,'' said Mark Heinert, program manager at Youthworks. ``But our reality is this: We're giving young people the opportunity to have a place they feel comfortable in, where they belong.''
The New Direction program serves 40 to 50 students each year. Students come from Bismarck High School, South Central High School, Century High School, Legacy High School and Mandan High School.
For four days a week after school, the students get rides to and from Youthworks, assistance with their homework, help with accessing services in the community and a daily meal, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
There are program mentors, typically Native American college students, who assist students with schoolwork. The program is a component of the Youth Cultural Achievement Program, which was developed in 2008 to reduce the number of Native American youth entering the juvenile justice system.
Students are referred to the program by a parent-family liaison at their school, a school counselor or social worker, a parent or a Youthworks staff member. Students in the program often have had adverse experiences in their lives, such as dealing with family issues, are in residential or foster care or have jumped from one school to the next, often resulting in an unstable education.
The program, funded by Missouri Slope Areawide United Way, has shown positive outcomes. Last year, 78 percent of youth in the program who attended after-school sessions 16 or more times passed their core classes. Seventy-eight percent of students showed academic improvement.
Though the outcomes have been good, the program is more than just providing academic support, said Pauletta Red Willow, coordinator of the Youth Cultural Achievement Program. These students need ``constant reinforcement,'' she said.
``Especially dealing with the statistics in Bismarck-Mandan for Native youth, like the high rates of juvenile calls for the police, there's a lot of substance use in our communities,'' as well as trauma and loss, Red Willow said.
``It's about giving them that sense that, you can do this, and building up their esteem,'' Heinert said.
For Julie Middletent, a sophomore at Legacy, the program has helped her make new friends, in addition to improving her grades. She switched from Bismarck High to Legacy the first semester of her freshman year, because her mother wanted her to attend the same school as her brother.
She saw her grades improve last year, increasing to As and Bs. She now has more time to get her homework done during the after-school program, and the mentors are helpful.
``I always look forward to coming here, because I get to see everyone from different schools,'' the 15-year-old said. ``I know everyone here. We're all friends, almost like family.''
Middletent said she plans to go to college and get a degree in business and become an accountant to help the tribe in which she's enrolled, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
Quapaw Tribe Acquires More Land in Kansas
QUAPAW, Okla. (AP) _ The Quapaw Tribe has acquired additional property in southeastern Kansas after gaining approval from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The tribe obtained about 210 acres (85 hectares) of Cherokee County grassland near the Oklahoma border, the Joplin Globe reported. The land is now part of the federal Quapaw Tribal Trust, giving the tribe governing authority.
The tribe faced opposition from the Cherokee County Commission and the Kansas attorney general's office over concerns the land would be used for gambling. The tribe owns Downstream Casino Resort in nearby Quapaw, Oklahoma.
The Quapaw Tribe had received a legal opinion from the National Indian Gaming Commission in 2014, determining the Kansas property could be used for gambling operations.
But John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Tribal Business Committee, said the tribe will use the land for agriculture and has no plans to expand its casino. The Quapaw Tribe already owns land in Cherokee County from a deal in 2006, which is used for grazing animals.
``We don't have any plans to expand upon our gaming operation, so we're just excited to have that land,'' Berrey said. ``We'll continue to graze our purebred bison herd and cattle on it. We'll keep it nice, clean and environmentally in shape for our future generations to enjoy.''
The state attorney general's office couldn't be reached for comment by the newspaper.
Berrey said the property acquisition ``brings more of our Oklahoma reservation, or what was at one time our reservation, back into our ownership and under our jurisdiction under federal statutes.''
The tribe owns about 5,000 acres (2,023 hectares) in Oklahoma and Kansas, Berrey said.
University Program Training Native American Educators
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ The University of Mary is getting more federal funding to continue an effort to boost the number of Native American teachers and administrators on and off reservations across North Dakota.
The Bismarck school got a $1.1 million grant from the federal Education Department two years ago to start the Native American Educational Leadership Program. It's doing so through a consortium that involves the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and its community college in Belcourt.
Fifteen students have graduated with bachelor's degrees in education from the community college, and 12 more will do so in the spring, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
``When you think about that, 27 teachers ... to go into our Native communities, that's huge,'' said Carmelita Lamb, associate dean of the University of Mary's Liffrig School of Education and Behavioral Sciences.
``That has always been something that I felt was important _ to get people of that community to commit to the children of that community,'' she said. ``Those are going to be the ones that stay.''
The university has received a second grant totaling $1.4 million to sustain the program through 2023. The school will enroll another 20 to 24 students in the program in January.
Samantha Gourd, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who currently lives on the Spirit Lake Reservation and teaches second grade in Devils Lake, will finish her master's in elementary education through the program in the spring.
``I think that whenever you're Native American teaching another Native American, you kind of understand those dynamics more,'' she said.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
Fort Berthold Reservation Landowners to Sue Oil Company
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ A group of landowners from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation is accusing a crude oil company of trespassing in a lawsuit that seeks compensation for a pipeline that crosses their land.
Former Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation chairman Tex Hall recently announced a federal lawsuit against Andeavor, formerly known as Tesoro, the Bismarck Tribune reported. Andeavor recently merged with Marathon Petroleum.
A pipeline that transports crude oil to the Marathon Petroleum Mandan Refinery crosses 64 acres (26 hectares) within the reservation, Hall said. The tribe owns about 26 acres (10.5 hectares) of the land, while the rest is owned by landowners or allottees, he said.
The company's easement agreement with the allottees expired in 2013 and talks to re-negotiate fell apart, according to Hall.
The lawsuit alleges the company is trespassing by operating the pipeline without authorization from landowners or the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
``All of these landowners have finally decided enough is enough,'' Hall said, adding that about 450 landowners are affected.
Destin Singleton, a spokeswoman for Marathon Petroleum Corp., declined to comment on the pending litigation.
The complaint seeks a jury trial to determine compensation for trespassing and other damages. The lawsuit also requests $128 million to be put into a constructive trust for the plaintiffs and allottees.
The group filing the complaint also wants a cease-and-desist order for the operation and the immediate removal of the pipeline.
``There's a huge amount of money with this size of pipeline going through,'' Hall said. ``They have the revenue and they're not negotiating in good faith. They left us no choice.''
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
Chicago's Field Museum Plans Revamp of Native American Hall
CHICAGO (AP) _ Chicago's Field Museum plans to revamp its Native American exhibits with the help of American Indians over the next three years.
Museum president Richard Lariviere tells the Chicago Tribune that its Native North American Hall faces a much needed renovation of displays dating mostly back to the 1950s. He says the project will allow the museum to better tell the history of Native Americans.
Pokagon (poh-KAY'-gun) Band of Potawatomi Indians cultural director Marcus Winchester says the displays are essentially old beadwork or baskets that don't tell the stories of Native Americans. The Pokagon Band is based in southwestern Michigan and northern Indiana.
Museum officials also want to employ Native American workers to help interpret the exhibits and make presentations.
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com
Thousands of Native Voters in North Dakota Getting Free IDs
By BLAKE NICHOLSON
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ Efforts by American Indian tribes in North Dakota to provide free identification with street addresses to thousands of members in advance of Tuesday's election are cutting into the number of Native Americans who could potentially be turned away at the polls for lack of a proper ID under recently tightened state rules.
The free programs launched with the help of groups including the Lakota People's Law Project and the Four Directions nonprofit so far have provided more than 2,000 voters on four reservations with the proper credentials. The effort to ensure a strong Native American vote comes amid uproar over what some believe is an attempt to suppress their votes.
``We're at our best in crisis,'' said Phyllis Young, an organizer on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation for the Lakota People's Law Project, adding that the issue ``is only making us more aware of our rights, more energized, and more likely to vote this November.''
Stricter voter ID rules are taking effect after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this month allowed the state to continue requiring street addresses, as opposed to other addresses such as post office boxes. Street addresses have never been important in the Native American culture, and many tribal members aren't aware of their address, don't have a provable one because they're homeless or stay with friends or relatives, or can't afford to get an updated ID with a street address assigned through the statewide 911 system.
A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Spirit Lake Sioux also alleges that the 911 system on reservations is ``characterized by disarray, errors, confusion, and missing or conflicting addresses.'' It seeks to have the residential address requirement ruled unconstitutional as it applies to Native American voters, and asks for an emergency order while the lawsuit proceeds barring the state from enforcing the requirement on Native Americans on or near reservations or who are at risk of disenfranchisement.
The nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice notes the lawsuit seeks a more limited injunction, something an appeals court indicated in an earlier lawsuit might be a more successful tactic.
State officials say not requiring street addresses could lead to people voting in the wrong district and to fraud.
The Supreme Court ruling in a lawsuit filed by Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa members in 2016 sent tribes scrambling to make sure tribal members' voices will be heard , especially in the high profile U.S. Senate race between Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer and Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp.
Changes to North Dakota's voter ID laws came just months after Heitkamp's win by fewer than 3,000 votes with the help of Native Americans in 2012, though Republicans say that had nothing to do with updates aimed at guarding against voter fraud. American Indians make up about 5 percent of North Dakota's population.
The Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Standing Rock Sioux, Spirit Lake Sioux and Three Affiliated Tribes all have launched programs to provide free IDs with street address to tribal members in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.
As of Tuesday, the programs had provided 1,050 IDs on the Turtle Mountain Reservation, more than 380 on the Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation and 440 on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The Three Affiliated Tribes had provided only 140, but the program had just been launched the day before.
The total of more than 2,000 IDs is approaching half of the roughly 5,000 Native Americans that U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland has said don't possess a qualifying voter ID under state rules. He based the figure on research by UCLA and University of New Mexico professors who have been expert witnesses in several voter ID cases across the country.
Tribes believe the number is much higher, perhaps even double the judge's estimate, though they base it in part on anecdotal evidence. They plan to continue issuing free IDs through Election Day, including stationing people at the polls to help those without qualifying ID on at least two of the four reservations.
The effort is largely being financed through donations. The Native American Rights Fund has given the four tribes a total of $50,000, and a GoFundMe site set up by the Standing Rock Sioux had raised more than $200,000 from more than 4,300 donors as of mid-day Wednesday.
Alexis Davis, 19, chairwoman of the Turtle Mountain Youth Council, has an ID with a residential street address but said many of her friends do not. The voter ID issue has made them more resolved to be a part of the election process, she said.
``It's like, oh you want to make this harder for me? Oh, you want to take away my rights?'' she said. ``It's like, no, now I'm going to fight that, and I'm going to be more resilient, and I'm going to make sure that I'm going to go vote.''
This story has been corrected to show that the number of IDs is more than 2,000, rather than more than 2,400
Follow Blake Nicholson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/NicholsonBlake
For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
Michigan, Tribal Partners Digitally Preserving Petroglyphs
CASS CITY, Mich. (AP) _ Michigan's state archaeologist says more than 100 ancient rock etchings at Sanilac Petroglyphs State Park are being digitally preserved through a partnership with tribal groups.
MLive.com reports that the Michigan Department of Transportation is using special technologies to scan the Native American petroglyphs and build digital models of them that will help document the site and track its preservation.
The project comes a year after vandals damaged some of the petroglyphs at the 240-acre park that's about 85 miles (135 kilometers) north of Detroit in Cass City.
State archaeologist Dean Anderson says some of the stone etchings could date back as much as 1,400 years. He says the bows and arrows depicted in some of the etchings were first used as technology across the Great Lakes region about that time.
Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, http://www.mlive.com
Maine Tribes Get Assistance to Improve Public Safety
PLEASANT POINT, Maine (AP) — Three American Indian tribal groups in Maine will benefit from more than $100 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Justice designed to improve public safety in native communities around the country.
The grants are also intended to assist victims of crime, stop violence against women and support youth programs in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
The Aroostook Band of Micmacs and Penobscot Nation are both slated to receive about $900,000 for programs that address violence against women. The Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Tribe is scheduled to receive about $750,000 for justice and drug and alcohol abuse programs.
The grants are being awarded to 133 American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages are other tribal groups.
Officials Warn Arizona Dam Could Fail and Flood Village
PHOENIX (AP) _ An earthen dam in Arizona's southern desert could fail and flood a small village because the lake behind it is swollen with runoff from the remnants of Tropical Storm Rosa, officials said Wednesday.
Ali Chuk, a Native American community with 162 people on the Tohono O'odham (TOH'-oh-no OH'-tum) Nation reservation, was being evacuated Tuesday night, the tribe's public safety department said in a statement.
No further details were available Wednesday on the evacuations. Tribal officials planned to inspect the dam and lake by helicopter.
Water levels were within a foot (0.3 meters) of topping Menagers Dam, which could give way and flood Ali Chuk, the National Weather Service said.
The area near the Mexico border got between 3 and 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of rain on Tuesday. Flooding from runoff made roads impassable.
There were no reports Wednesday of additional rain.
The tribal safety department said 30 people had been evacuated from another village on the reservation because of flooding.
Elsewhere in the state, forecasters warned of more possible flooding in Phoenix and other areas.
The weather service said up to 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain had fallen in parts of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, and that flash flooding was expected.
A separate flash flood warning was issued for Yavapai County north of Phoenix due to high water in a creek in Cornville and for a small part of the Tohono O'odham (TOH'-oh-no OH'-tum) Nation's reservation in Pima County in southern Arizona.
The weather service said a record 2.35 inches (5.97 centimeters) of rain had fallen at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as of Tuesday night.
That made it the rainiest October day since records have been kept, topping the 2.32 (5.89) inches recorded on Oct. 14, 1988.
It also marked the eighth-rainiest day in Phoenix history for any date.
The storm was also expected to dump rain on Utah and Colorado.
Haskell to Celebrate Native American Vets of World War I
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Haskell University's Cultural Center and Museum is planning to celebrate Native Americans who served in World War I.
The center's director, Jancita Warrington, said 415 Haskell students, faculty and alumni enlisted in the war, even though they could not claim citizenship until six years after the war ended.
The celebration, ``Keeping Legends Alive,'' will be held Sept. 21 and 22, hosted by the center and the city of Lawrence.
The Lawrence Journal-World reports the event will include a celebration of veterans, a powwow and several other activities. It also will remember the 1926 dedication of Haskell Memorial Stadium, which was one of the biggest events in the city's history.
At the time, Haskell Institute was a boarding school for Native American children. It became accredited in 1927.
Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com
Last Reminder! L.E.A.D. Institute Conference Begins 9/26
Last Reminder: L.E.A.D. Conference is Sept. 26-27, 2018
First Nations Development Institute will hold its 22nd Annual First Nations L.E.A.D. Institute Conference at Morongo Casino & Resort in Cabazon, California, September 26-27, 2018. (Invitation-only pre-sessions will be held on September 25.) Register now to reserve your space. This is the last notice we're sending.
For 38 years, First Nations has worked with Native nations and organizations to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities. As an extension of this mission, the L.E.A.D. Conference is designed to help emerging and existing leaders in Indian Country network, grow professionally, share ideas and learn new skills related to asset-building.
Training Tracks Offered
- Track 1: Language & Cultural Revitalization
- Track 2: Strengthening Tribal & Community Institutions
- Track 3: Protecting Natural Resources
Attendees have the option of attending sessions in just one track, or they may customize their experience by selecting from any of the sessions that interest them.
Who Should Attend
- Native American nonprofit professionals
- Native Americans interested in launching or expanding nonprofit and/or philanthropic organizations
- Tribal leaders or those who work in tribal organizations
- Anyone interested in Native American nonprofits and philanthropy
- Anyone interested in Native American food sovereignty
- Tribal economic development professionals
Please go here for more information: http://www.cvent.com/d/fgq84t
Alaska Looks for Panelists to Discuss New Roads in Forest
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ Alaska Gov. Bill Walker's administration is looking for Alaska residents to serve on an advisory committee that will discuss the Alaska shape the future of the Tongass National Forest.
KTOO-FM reports the U.S. Forest Service announced last month that it would be considering building new roads in the wilder parts of the Alaska forest.
The committee will discuss which areas in the Tongass, the largest national forest in the United States, could have new roads. Alaska's congressional delegation has said having enough access to timber and mining opportunities is a priority.
The governor's office says it's seeking applications for a ``diverse'' panel of up to 13 people, including Alaska Native regional corporations and tribes, local governments and environmental groups as well as interests from tourism, mining, energy, timber and fishing.
Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org
Boston Celtics Star Irving Honored by Mother's Sioux Tribe
By BLAKE NICHOLSON
FORT YATES, N.D. (AP) _ Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving has officially become a member of the Standing Rock Sioux.
Irving and his older sister, Asia Irving, took part Thursday in a traditional Native American ceremony recognizing their tribal heritage and support for the tribe's long battle against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. They were honored with Lakota names during a ritual in a packed auditorium that tribal spokeswoman Danielle Finn said ``is a very special rite of passage for a Lakota person.''
Tribal Chairman Mike Faith said: ``We're welcoming home two of our own.''
The Irvings' late mother, Elizabeth Ann Larson, was a member of the tribe and lived on the reservation until her adoption at a young age.
Kyrie Irving, who won an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, was born in Australia and he grew up in New Jersey.
This post will remain active until September 13, 2018
1770s Cartoon Commemorating Boston Tea Party to be Auctioned
BOSTON (AP) _ A political cartoon published shortly after the Boston Tea Party is hitting the auction block.
Heritage Auctions says the rare print celebrating the Dec. 16, 1773, act of rebellion is expected to fetch $24,000 in the Aug. 25 auction. The print is called ``Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression.''
The copper-engraved cartoon shows British politicians and merchants standing with the devil on one side and American colonists, some disguised as Native Americans, on the other side.
Heritage Auctions says the print was published between late December 1773 and April 1774. The Dallas-based auction house says it knows of only six other copies.
The print is attributed to Philadelphia and New York engraver Henry Dawkins, who later was arrested and accused of counterfeiting currency.
Reward Rises to $20K for Info Leading to Stolen Artifacts
MOUNDVILLE, Ala. (AP) _ The reward for information leading to the recovery of more 260 artifacts stolen from Moundville Archaeological Park decades ago has been increased from $15,000 to $20,000.
Dr. Jim Knight, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Alabama, said several private citizens who hope to see the artifacts returned are offering the reward.
Al.com reports Knight said 264 pottery vessels and other artifacts were stolen from the Erskine Ramsay Archaeological Repository in 1980. An appraisal revealed the artifacts _ jars, bottles, bowls, ornaments and jewelry _ are worth around $1 million. Since the theft, none has shown up for sale or trade, leading Knight to believe the collection may still be intact.
``With the availability of the internet, it is now possible to distribute these photographs much more widely than was previously feasible. Also, Native American pottery vessels are now routinely sold in internet auctions,'' Knight told The Tuscaloosa News . ``These can be monitored by a public aware of this 40-year-old crime and the great need to reunite these rare artifacts with the citizens of Alabama and the South.
``The reward, together with advancements in technology that allow for the rapid dissemination of information by news outlets and social media, offer new hope in an effort to recover the artifacts.''
At the time, the stolen items represented about 70 percent of the museum's exhibit-quality artifacts and 20 percent of the entire Moundville vessel collection that was curated by the Alabama Museum of Natural History. Experts believe the thieves were knowledgeable about the artifacts because they targeted the highest-quality pieces.
Excavated in the 1930s, the artifacts are high-quality engraved or painted ceremonial pots and bowls, some which held food offerings that were buried with the dead. Others were ordinary cooking pots, bottles and shell jewelry. Many of the vessel engravings depict supernatural creatures, such as the flying serpent, which would guard a person's passage into the afterlife. The designs were highly distinctive of Moundville, which is considered a world heritage site. The Mississippian Indians settled in what is now the Moundville area at the beginning of the 11th century. The area reached its peak activity and population around the year 1300 when it had about 1,000 residents. About 10,000 resided in the entire Black Warrior Valley floodplain at the time.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act makes it illegal to sell human remains or cultural artifacts of Native Americans unless a person legally owns the item. Collectors pay millions for antiquities such as the Moundville vessels, Knight said in a 2003 interview with The Tuscaloosa News.
The Alabama Museum of Natural History has established a tipline at 205-348-2800 that will allow those with information about the thefts to leave confidential messages or information.
For more information, including photographs of the artifacts, visit www.museums.ua.edu/oas/stolenartifacts.
Discovery of Native American Remains Increase in Nantucket
NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) _ The discovery of Native American remains has been increasing in one town on Cape Cod.
A flux of development means many previously undisturbed parts of Nantucket are being dug up, revealing hints of the town's first inhabitants.
The most recent occurred this spring, reports the Cape Cod Times, when a contractor uncovered a skull while digging a hole for a new foundation. The skull was determined to be one of the island's Native occupiers. An exact number of town discoveries and locations have not been made available by the state.
Nantucket police say that in recent years, they've gotten calls up to six times a year about remains. Purposely disturbing a Native burial site, or failing to report one found is a violation of the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990.
Information from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, http://www.capecodtimes.com
Pamunkey Tribe Considering $700 Million Casino in Virginia
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Pamunkey Indian Tribe is considering whether to build a $700 million resort and casino in Virginia.
Media outlets report that the tribe is looking at potential sites for the project but has no definitive plans.
The Department of Interior granted federal recognition to the Pamunkey in 2015, allowing the possibility of casinos through a separate approval process. Virginia currently has no casinos.
The Pamunkey's bid for federal recognition was opposed by MGM Resorts, which runs a new casino just outside the nation's capital in Maryland.
The tribe was considered the most powerful in the Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom, which greeted the English settlers at Jamestown, and claims Pocahontas among its lineage.
Native corporation to work for the Navy at Guantanamo Bay
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ An Alaska Native corporation will soon provide support services for the U.S. Navy in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Tlingit Haida Tribal Business Corp. won the $18 million contract earlier this month, CoastAlaska News reported .
The corporation will manage maintenance services, port operations and waterfront administration for the base. The corporation announced a similar, $44 million contract about a week earlier for the U.S. Marine Corps air station in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Tlingit Haida Tribal Business Corp. officials said it employs about 600 people. Most of the jobs are in other parts of the country. But the corporation's hiring policy includes a preference for tribal members.
Tlingit Haida Tribal Business Corp. is owned by the Juneau-based Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. The council lists more than 30,000 tribal members in Southeast, the rest of Alaska and around the nation and the world. Its business operations are separate from those of Native corporations formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
Corporation CEO Richard Rinehart said the corporation continues to seek more work.
``I look at it as it's like long-lining,'' Rinehart said. ``We have all these lines out with lots of hooks. And we're out there fishing and by having more lines in the water, we're hopeful to bring more home.''
University groups keeping indigenous languages alive
By KATHERINE LONG
The Seattle Times
SEATTLE (AP) _ When Alyssa Johnston and members of her tribe speak to one another in Quinault, they are often moved to tears by the knowledge that, at the turn of the century, the language was all but dead.
The last person who spoke fluent Quinault passed away in 1996. By using recordings of those who spoke the language in the 1960s, a handful of people in the Olympic Peninsula tribe are slowly and painstakingly piecing it back together _ and teaching it to a new generation.
Last year, Johnston was the first person in recent memory to earn a world-language credit at the University of Washington by showing she had achieved ``intermediate low-level proficiency'' in that language.
``It's everything to me,'' Johnston said of the importance of reviving her tribe's native tongue. ``Language is culture,'' she said, and the tribe ``right now is literally making history'' by bringing it back.
That history is also being written on the UW's Seattle campus.
Every two weeks, two separate groups gather around a table in one building or another to practice one of two indigenous languages: Southern Lushootseed, the common tongue of the Native American tribes that lived in this region, and Hawaiian, the native language of the indigenous people of Hawaii.
Chris Teuton, chair of American Indian Studies at the UW, hopes students eventually will be able to learn both those languages in for-credit courses, joining the 55 other languages already taught by the university.
In the meantime, the informal classes are a labor of love for the volunteers who teach them. Nancy Jo Bob, a member of the Lummi Nation, and Tami Kay Hohn, of the Puyallup Tribe, both drive up from Auburn every month to offer several hours of language instruction, using a system they devised that helps students think and speak in complete sentences from the outset.
Lushootseed was revived by Upper Skagit author, teacher and linguist Vi Hilbert, who died in 2008 at the age of 90. Hilbert taught Lushootseed for credit at the UW until her retirement in 1988, and it has been taught intermittently at the university since then, along with Navajo and Yakama.
Lushootseed's sentence structure is different from English, and includes sounds that don't exist in English.
``It's like my tongue is tap-dancing,'' one speaker marveled during a recent language table session.
Sentences start with a verb, rather than a subject, and the form the verb takes, gives information about the manner and time of action, said UW English Professor Colette Moore, who is taking part in the language table.
``By the time a speaker gets to the subject in a Lushootseed sentence,'' she said, ``he or she has already given a lot of other information.''
The language's history in the Puget Sound area dates back thousands of years. English, in contrast, has been spoken around here for fewer than 250.
``Sometimes it can be a perspective shift for students to see English as an immigrant language,'' Moore added, ``but, of course, it is.''
America's past is threaded with a long, ugly history of white settlers separating Native Americans from their languages and cultures. In the 1900s, many Native American children were sent to boarding schools, where they were forced to speak only English.
Johnston, of the Quinault tribe, says her grandfather spoke the language, and her mother asked him to teach it to her. But he refused _ the older generation feared their children wouldn't be successful if they spoke a Native American language, she said.
``By revitalizing languages, that's part of the healing process,'' said Teuton, who is Cherokee and began learning that language at the University of North Carolina, where he taught before he came to the UW. ``We are trying to recover from that colonial history.''
Native American knowledge, he said, ``is really grounded in our language _ the grounding of stories, our storytelling traditions, our words for the natural world, words that describe our social relations.''
Language is also a vital cultural connection for many Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, said Manuhuia Barcham, a UW lecturer who helped organize the Hawaiian language table. Barcham hopes to also start one for Samoan and Chamorro, which is spoken in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Both Pacific Islander and Native American populations have low levels of enrollment in higher education, and part of the goal of teaching languages is to make the UW ``a more open and friendly space for our youth and our community,'' he said.
Among the state's other higher-education institutions, Lushootseed has been taught at Pacific Lutheran University and at the UW Tacoma, as part of a summer institute. Wenatchee Valley College in Omak teaches Salish; the Northwest Indian College in Bellingham teaches Native American languages.
Johnston learned Quinault from Cosette Terry-itewaste, a linguist who is her tribe's most fluent speaker, and who was able to administer the test that allowed Johnston to get UW credit for knowing that language.
The UW requires entering students to have completed two years of a foreign language in high school, and to take a third quarter while in college _ or to demonstrate that they have acquired ``intermediate low-level proficiency'' in a language other than English.
The university had to create a new way to test proficiency in languages that are not commonly taught.
``This provides an academic incentive and establishes it as an equal language, a world language,'' said Russell Hugo, a linguist in the UW's language learning center. ``Hopefully more students can do this, so we can build stronger ties of support and recognition'' for local indigenous languages.
Because she lives on the Olympic Peninsula and works full time with two young children at home, Johnston earned her undergraduate degree from the UW mostly online. She's certified as a language apprentice, and she will be helping the Quinault tribe launch family language classes in January.
While some tribal members grew up knowing the Quinault words for colors and other nouns, these language classes aim to teach them how to have simple conversations.
``It's amazing how it's been almost lost,'' Johnston said. ``I can feel it getting back to normal, and that's a really sacred thing.''
Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com
Restoration of protections for Yellowstone grizzlies urged
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Conservationists and a Montana Indian tribe have asked a judge to restore protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears in light of a recent ruling in a case involving Great Lakes wolves.
The request by three conservation groups and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe was lodged on Monday in U.S. District Court in Missoula.
Federal officials in December announced a review of their July 31 decision to lift protections for an estimated 700 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park. The review was prompted by the Great Lakes wolf ruling, which indicated in part that more consideration needed to be given to a species' loss of historical territory.
Attorneys for the conservation groups and tribe say the grizzly review is being improperly used as an after-the-fact justification for lifting protections.