Choctaw Artist Jeffrey Gibson Confronts History at US Pavilion as its First Solo Indigenous Artist

By COLLEEN BARRY Associated Press

VENICE, Italy (AP) — Jeffrey Gibson’s takeover of the U.S. pavilion for this year’s Venice Biennale contemporary art show is a celebration of color, pattern and craft, which is immediately evident on approaching the bright red facade decorated by a colorful clash of geometry and a foreground dominated by a riot of gigantic red podiums.

Gibson, a Mississippi Choctaw with Cherokee descent, is the first Native American to represent the United States solo at the Venice Biennale, the world’s oldest contemporary art show. For context, the last time Native American artists were included was in 1932.

Gibson, 52, accepts the weight of the honor, but he prefers to focus on how his participation can forge greater inclusion going forward.

“The first is not the most important story," Gibson told The Associated Press this week before the pavilion’s inauguration on Thursday. “The first is hopefully the beginning of many, many, many more stories to come."

The commission, his first major show in Europe, comes at a pivotal moment for Gibson. His 2023 book “An Indigenous Present" features more than 60 Indigenous artists, and he has two major new projects, a facade commission for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and an exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Gibson’s eye-catching exhibition titled “the space in which to place me," features text in beadwork sculptures and paintings taken from U.S. founding documents, music, sermons and proverbs to remind the viewer of the broken promises of equity through U.S. history. The vibrant use of color projects optimism. In that way, Gibson’s art is a call to action.

“What I find so beautiful about Jeffrey’s work is its ability to function as a prism, to take the traumas of the past and the questions about identity and politics and refract them in such a way that things that realities that have become flattened … can become these beautiful kaleidoscopes, which are joyous and celebratory and critical all at the same time," said Abigail Winograd, one of the exhibition’s curators.

“When I see people walk through the pavilion and kind of gasp when they walk from room to room, that’s exactly what we wanted," Winograd said.

Entering the pavilion, the beaded bodices of sculptures in human form are emblazoned with dates of U.S. legislation that promised equity, the beading cascading into colorful fringe. A painting quotes George Washington writing, “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth," in geometric letters that meld into a colorful patterned background.

By identifying specific moments in U.S. history, Gibson said that he wants to underline that “people who are fighting for equity and justice today, we’re not the first.

“This has been a line in the history of American culture. But I’m hoping that people will think about why … some of these things … have either been revoked or have not come into fruition,” he said.

Craft is at the center of Gibson’s art, both in defiance of past denigration of craft and as a way to confront “the traumatic histories of Native American people,” he said.

“There is something very healing about the cycle of making," Gibson explained.

The pavilion’s intricate beaded sculptures owe a debt to Native American makers of the past without imitating them, employing couture techniques to create something completely new. In the way of his forebears, Gibson uses beads sourced from all over the world, including vintage beads from Japan and China, and glass beads from the Venetian island of Murano.

Paper works incorporate vintage beadwork purchased from websites, estate and garage sales in mixed media displays that honor the generations of Native American makers that preceded him.

Gibson's themes fit well into the message of inclusion of the main Biennale exhibition, titled “Stranieri Ovunque -- Strangers Everywhere,” which runs in tandem with around 90 national pavilions from April 20-Nov. 24.

His personal history has placed him firmly in what he calls the “diasporic history of Indigenous people.” His father's job took his family abroad when he was a child to Germany and then South Korea, and he later studied in Chicago and London. His partner is Norwegian artist Rune Olsen.

Through all of this, Gibson has picked up traditions and practices that go beyond his Indigenous background.

“I’ve looked at op art, pattern and decoration. I've looked at psychedelia, I have taken part in rave culture and queer culture and drag and the whole spectrum," Gibson said.

"And so for me, I would not be telling you the whole truth if I only chose to speak about indigeneity. But my body is an Indigenous body — it’s all funneled through this body,'' he said. ”And so my hope is that by telling my experience, that everyone else can project their own kind of intersected, layered experience into the world.”

Tribes in Washington are Battling a Devastating Opioid Crisis. Will a Multimillion-Dollar Bill Help?

By HALLIE GOLDEN Associated Press

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Evelyn Jefferson walks deep into a forest dotted with the tents of unhoused Lummi Nation tribal members and calls out names. When someone appears, she and a nurse hand out the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone.

Jefferson, a tribal member herself, knows how critical these kits are: Just five months ago, her own son died of an overdose from a synthetic opioid that’s about 100 times more potent than fentanyl. The 37-year-old’s death was the fourth related to opioids in four days on the reservation.

“It took us eight days to bury him because we had to wait in line, because there were so many funerals in front of his,” said Jefferson, crisis outreach supervisor for Lummi Nation. "Fentanyl has really taken a generation from this tribe.”

bill before the Washington Legislature would bring more state funding to tribes like Lummi that are trying to keep opioids from taking the next generation too. The state Senate unanimously approved a bill this week that is expected to provide nearly $8 million total each year for the 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington, funds drawn in part from a roughly half-billion-dollar settlement between the state and major opioid distributors.

The approach comes as Native Americans and Alaska Natives in Washington die of opioid overdoses at five times the state average, according to 2021-2022 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that includes provisional numbers. The rate in Washington is one of the highest in the U.S. and more than three times the rate nationwide — but many of the Indigenous nations in the state lack the funding or medical resources to fully address it.

Lummi Nation, like many tribes, faces an additional challenge when it comes to keeping outside drug dealers off their land: A complicated jurisdictional maze means tribal police often can’t arrest non-tribal members on the reservation.

“What do we do when we have a non-Lummi, predatory drug dealer on our reservation with fentanyl, driving around or on their property and are selling drugs?” said Anthony Hillaire, tribal chairman.

Against the backdrop, tribes such as the Lummi Nation, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Seattle, say the proposed funding — while appreciated — would barely scratch the surface. The tribe of about 5,300 people on the shores of the Salish Sea has already suffered nearly one overdose death a week this year.

Lummi Nation needs $12 million to fully finance a 16-bed, secure medical detox facility that incorporates the tribe's culture, Hillaire said, and money to construct a new counseling center after damage from flooding. Those costs alone far exceed the annual total that would be designated for tribes under the legislation. The Senate has proposed allotting $12 million in its capital budget to the facility.

“We’re a sovereign nation. We’re a self-governed tribe. We want to take care of ourselves because we know how to take care of ourselves," he said. "And so we usually just need funding and law changes — good policies.”

The proposed measure would earmark funds deposited into an opioid settlement account, which includes money from the state's $518 million settlement in 2022 with the nation’s three largest opioid distributors, for tribes battling addiction. Tribes are expected to receive $7.75 million or 20% of the funds deposited into the account the previous fiscal year — whichever is greater — annually.

Republican state Sen. John Braun, one of the bill's sponsors, has said he envisions the funds being distributed through a grant program.

“If this ends up being the wrong amount of money or we’re distributing it inequitably, I’m happy to deal with this," he said. “This is just going to get us started, and make sure we’re not sitting on our hands, waiting for the problem to solve itself.”

Opioid overdose deaths for Native Americans and Alaska Natives have increased dramatically in the past few years in Washington, with at least 100 in 2022 — 75 more than in 2019, according to the most recent numbers available from the Washington State Department of Health.

In September, Lummi Nation declared a state of emergency over fentanyl, adding drug-sniffing dogs and checkpoints, while revoking bail for drug-related charges.

The tribe has also opened a seven-bed facility to help members with withdrawal and get them on medication for opioid use disorder, while providing access to a neighboring cultural room where they work with cedar and sage. In its first five months, the facility treated 63 people, the majority of whom are still on the medication regimen today, said Dr. Jesse Davis, medical director of the Lummi Healing Spirit Opioid Treatment program.

But truly thwarting this crisis must go beyond just Lummi Nation working on its own, said Nickolaus Lewis, Lummi councilmember.

“We can do everything in our power to protect our people. But if they go out into Bellingham, they go out anywhere off the reservation, what good is it going to do if they have different laws and different policies, different barriers?” he said.

The tribe has urged Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and President Joe Biden to declare states of emergency in response to the opioid crisis to create a bigger safety net and drive additional vital resources to the problem.

In the encampment in Bellingham, Jefferson estimates there are more than 60 tribal members, some she recognizes as her son’s friends, while others are Lummi elders. She suspects many of them left the reservation to avoid the tribe's crackdown on opioids.

When she visits them, her van filled with food, hand warmers and clothing to hand out, she wears the shirt her niece gave her the day after her son died. It reads, “fight fentanyl like a mother.”

“It’s a losing battle but, you know, somebody’s got to be there to let them know — those addicts — that somebody cares,” Jefferson said. “Maybe that one person will come to treatment because you’re there to care.”

Energy Department Conditionally Approves $2.26 Billion Loan for Huge Lithium Mine in Nevada

By SCOTT SONNER Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) — President Joe Biden's administration has conditionally agreed to loan more than $2 billion to the company building a controversial lithium mine in Nevada with the largest known U.S. deposit of the metal critical to making batteries for electric vehicles key to his renewable energy agenda.

The U.S Energy Department agreed on Thursday to provide the $2.26 billion conditional loan to Canada-based Lithium Americas to help cover costs at its open pit mine deeper than the length of a football field near the Oregon line.

The loan would help finance the lithium carbonate processing plant at the Thacker Pass mine about 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of Reno — "the largest-proven lithium reserves in North America,” DOE said in a statement.

“Thacker Pass is a treasure trove of lithium — key to strengthening U.S. energy security and electrifying America,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a message posted Friday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“By presenting this $2.26B conditional loan, we’ll help level the global playing field and supercharge clean energy manufacturing nationwide,” she said.

The Energy Department said the loan is contingent on its Loan Programs Office's review of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Biden’s renewable energy agenda aimed at easing U.S. reliance on fossil fuels so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is expected to be a key issue in his reelection bid against ex-President Donald Trump, who has said he would focus on drilling for more oil.

The department said lithium carbonate from Thacker Pass could support the production of batteries for up to 800,000 electric vehicles annually, avoiding the consumption of 317 million gallons (1.2 billion liters) of gasoline per year.

“Today’s announcement reinforces the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to strengthening America’s critical materials supply chain, which is essential to building America’s clean transportation future and enhancing our national and energy security,” DOE said Thursday.

Lithium Americas said the loan would cover the vast majority of the first phase of the Thacker Pass project, which is now estimated to cost $2.93 billion. Last January, General Motors Co. conditionally agreed to invest $650 million in the project.

The conditional commitment to the government's loan “is a significant milestone for Thacker Pass, which will help meet the growing domestic need for lithium chemicals and strengthen our nation’s security,” said Jonathan Evans, president and chief executive officer of Lithium Americas.

“The United States has an incredible opportunity to lead the next chapter of global electrification in a way that both strengthens our battery supply chains and ensures that the economic benefits are directed toward American workers, companies and communities,” he said.

Environmental groups and leaders of three tribes spent nearly two years fighting the mine, which they say borders the sacred site of a massacre of more than two dozen Native Americans in 1865.

But a federal judge in Reno dismissed the latest challenges in December and the chairman of the Reno Sparks Indian Colony at the forefront of the legal battle said weeks later they were abandoning any future appeals.

The acting chairwoman of the Nevada tribe closest to the mine said her members support the project.

“Thacker Pass will provide important economic and employment opportunities for members of our Tribe," Larina Bell of the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe said in a statement.

Lithium Americas said site preparation has been completed, including all site clearing, the commissioning of a water supply system, site access improvements and site infrastructure.

The company said the latest estimated total cost of phase one construction has been revised upward to $2.93 billion based on several factors, including the use of union labor for construction, updated equipment pricing and development of an all-inclusive housing facility for construction workers.

The company said it spent $193.7 million on the project during the year that ended Dec. 31. Mechanical completion of phase one is targeted for 2027 with full production anticipated sometime in 2028.

DEI Opponents are Using a 1866 Civil Rights Law to Challenge Equity Policies in the Workplace


NEW YORK (AP) — Opponents of workplace diversity programs are increasingly banking on a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to challenge equity policies as well as funding to minority-owned businesses.

Section 1981 of the act was originally meant to protect formerly enslaved people — or Black people specifically — from economic exclusion. But now the American Alliance for Equal Rights — a group run by Edward Blum, the conservative activist who challenged affirmative action in higher education and won — is citing the section to go after a venture capital fund called the Fearless Fund, which invests in businesses owned by women of color. A federal appeals court temporarily blocked funding for Fearless Fund's grant program as the case proceeds.

Conservative activists have brought lawsuits using the 1981 section against other companies and institutions, including insurance company Progressive and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The cases are being monitored carefully as the battle over racial considerations shift to the workplace following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling ending affirmative action in college admissions.

While the 1981 section had been used well before the latest affirmative action ruling to prove reverse discrimination, Alphonso David, Fearless Fund's legal counsel who serves as president & CEO of The Global Black Economic Forum, said that there's a “coordinated use of Section 1981 now that we did not see before.”

Here's what's happening and what the impact could be:

What is Section 1981?

The 1866 Civil Rights Act is a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, and ethnicity when making and enforcing contracts. Section 1981 specifically grants all individuals within the U.S. jurisdiction the same rights and benefits as “enjoyed by white citizens” regarding contractual relationships.

However, the Supreme Court’s 1976 McDonald v. Santa Fe Trail Transportation decision broadened those protections, ruling Section 1981 prohibits racial discrimination in private employment against white people as well as people of color.

“It’s a very clever game plan,” said Randolph McLaughlin, a civil rights attorney and law professor at Pace University, referring to the use of the 1866 law. “They want to turn civil rights law upside down."

The standard of proof for the 1981 section is high. That’s because of the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in Comcast v. National Association of African American-owned Media establishing that the plaintiff who sues for racial discrimination under the section bears the burden of showing that race was the central cause in denying a contract opportunity — as opposed to merely a motivating factor.

Why not rely on Title VII instead?

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. If the plaintiff opts to sue via Title VII, then he or she needs to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That's a process that takes up to 180 days. After that, the plaintiff can file a lawsuit. Choosing the 1981 route is much quicker.

Section 1981 is also broader than Title VII, which generally applies to employers who have 15 or more employees, legal experts said. Also under Title VII, a plaintiff can recoup only up to $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages total. Section 1981 has no limitation.

Title VII does have a lower standard of proof than Section 1981. Plaintiffs only have to show race was a motivating factor, not a central cause.

Why is the case against the Fearless Fund potentially significant?

In its lawsuit, American Alliance For Equal Rights seeks relief by arguing that the fund’s Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, which awards $20,000 to Black women who run businesses, violates Section 1981 by excluding some people from the program because of their race.

Attorneys for the Fearless Fund have argued in court filings that the grants are donations, not contracts, and are protected by the First Amendment.

David, the Fearless Fund's legal counsel, says that if these types of grants are considered contracts, one can make the argument that grants issued in many other forms and contexts could also be considered contracts.

“Think of every foundation out there that issues grants,” David said. “They issue grants to people of different demographic groups. They issue grants only to women. They issue grants to survivors of earthquakes. Are those all contracts?”

Angela Reddock-Wright, an employment and Title IX attorney and mediator based in Los Angeles, believes it is “very possible” that the case could end up at the Supreme Court.

“Ideally, the court would decline to hear this matter on the grounds that Section 1981 was not intended to cover matters such as this, but this court appears to operate under different rules and standards,” she said.

What impact have similar lawsuits had?

Some companies have already changed their criteria for their diversity fellowship programs.

Law firms Morrison Foerster and Perkins Coie opened their diversity fellowship programs to all applicants of all races in October, changes the companies said were in the works before Blum filed lawsuits against them. He subsequently dropped them. Previously, the programs for first year law students had targeted students in historically underrepresented groups.

Morrison Foerster's fellowship program now caters to students with demonstrated commitments to equity and diversity. Perkins Coie announced that it had opened its fellowship programs to all applicants, regardless of their race, gender or LGBTQ identity. In a statement, Perkins Coie said the changes arose as part of updates to its diversity and inclusion policies following the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action.

Last February, Pfizer dropped race-based eligibility requirements for a fellowship program designed for college students of Black, Latino and Native American descent. A judge had dismissed a lawsuit filed by the conservative nonprofit Do No Harm, which claimed Pfizer's program violated Section 1981, but Do No Harm is appealing the ruling.

“What would work in (companies') favor is to lower their profile,” said University of Virginia's Distinguished Professor of Law George Rutherglen. “Which means they do not explicitly consider race in making these decisions. Look to other conditions and requirements that might achieve the same objective.”


AP Business Writer Haleluya Hadero in New York contributed to this report.

Native American Translation Are Being Added To More US Road Signs To Promote Language And Awareness

Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) __ A few years back, Sage Brook Carbone was attending a powwow at the Mashantucket Western Pequot reservation in Connecticut when she noticed signs in the Pequot language.

Carbone, a citizen of the Northern Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island, thought back to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she has lived for much of her life. She never saw any street signs honoring Native Americans, nor any featuring Indigenous languages.

She submitted to city officials the idea of adding Native American translations to city street signs. Residents approved her plan and will install about 70 signs featuring the language of the Massachusett Tribe, which English settlers encountered upon their arrival.

"What a great, universal way of teaching language," she said of the project done in consultation with a a member of the Massachusett Tribe and other Native Americans.

"We see multiple languages written almost everywhere, but not on municipal signage," she said. "Living on a numbered street, I thought this is a great opportunity to include Native language with these basic terms that we're all familiar with around the city."

Carbone has joined a growing push around the country to use Indigenous translations on signs to raise awareness about Native American communities. It also is way to revive some Native American languages, highlight a tribe`s sovereignty as well as open the door for wider debates on land rights, discrimination and Indigenous representation in the political process.

"We have a moment where there is a search for some reconciliation and justice around Indigenous issues," said Darren Ranco, chair of Native American Programs at the University of Maine and a citizen of the Penobscot Nation. "The signs represent that, but by no means is that the end point around these issues. My concern is that people will think that putting up signs solves the problem, when in fact, it`s the beginning point to addressing deeper histories.``

At least six states have followed suit, including Iowa, New York, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Signs along U.S. Highway 30 in Iowa include the Meskwaki Nation`s own spelling of the tribe, Meskwakiinaki, near its settlement. In upstate New York, bilingual highway signs in the languages of the Seneca, Onondaga and Tuscarora tribes border highways and their reservations.

In Wisconsin, six of the 11 federally recognized tribes in the state have installed dual language signs. Wisconsin is derived from the Menominee word Weskohsaeh, meaning "a good place" and the word Meskousing, which means "where it lies red" in Algonquian.

"Our partnerships with Wisconsin's Native Nations are deeper than putting up highway signs," WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said in a statement. "We are proud of the longstanding commitment to foster meaningful partnerships focused on our future by providing great care and consideration to our past."

Minnesota has put up signs in English and the Dakota or Ojibwe languages on roads and highways that traverse tribal lands, while the southeast Alaska community of Haines this summer erected stop, yield, 'Children at Play' and street name signs in both English and Tlingit.

Douglas Olerud, the mayor at the time, told the Juneau Empire it was healing for him after hearing for years from Tlingit elders that they were not allowed to use their language when sent to boarding schools.

"This is a great way to honor some of those people that have been working really hard to keep their traditions and keep the language alive, and hopefully they can have some small amount of healing from when they were robbed of the culture, " he said.

In New Mexico, the state transportation department has been working with tribes for years to include traditional names and artwork along highway overpasses. Travelers heading north from Santa Fe pass under multiple bridges with references to Pojoaque Pueblo in the community's native language of Tewa.

There have also been local efforts in places like Bemidji, Minnesota, where Michael Meuers, a non-Native resident, started the Bemidji Ojibwe Language Project. Since 2009, more than 300 signs in English and Ojibwe have been put up across northern Minnesota, mostly on buildings, including schools. The signs can also be found in hospitals and businesses and are used broadly to spell out names of places and animals, identify things such as elevators, hospital departments, bear crossings __ "MAKWA XING" __ and food within a grocery store, and include translations for welcome, thank you and other phrases.

"Maybe it's going to open up conversations so that we understand that we are all one people," said Meuers, who worked for the Red Lake Nation for 29 years and started the project after seeing signs in Hawaiian on a visit to the state.

The University of Maine put up dual language signs around its main campus. The Native American Programs, in partnership with the Penobscot Nation, also launched a website where visitors can hear the words spoken by language master Gabe Paul, a Penobscot pronunciation guide.

"For me, and for many of our tribal citizens and descendants, it is a daily reminder that we are in our homeland and we should be "at home" at the university, even though it has felt for generations like it can be an unwelcome place," Ranco said.

But not all efforts to provide dual language signs have gone well.

In New Zealand, the election of a conservative government in October has thrown into doubt efforts by transportation officials to start using road signs written in both English and the Indigenous Maori language.

Waka Kotahi, the New Zealand Transport Agency, earlier this year proposed making 94 road signs bilingual to promote the revitalization of the language.

But many conservatives have been irked by the increased use of Maori words by government agencies. Thousands wrote form submissions opposing the road sign plan, saying it could confuse or distract drivers.

The effort in Cambridge has been welcomed as part of what is called the participatory budgeting process, which allows residents to propose ideas on spending part of the budget. Carbone proposed the sign project and, together with a plan to make improvements to the African American Heritage Trail, it was approved by residents.

"I am so excited to see the final products and the initial run of these signs," Carbone said. "When people traveling around Cambridge see them, they will feel the same way. It will be just different enough to be noticeable but not different enough that it would cause a stir."

Carbone and others also hope the signs open a broader discussion of Native American concerns in the city, including representation in the city government, funding for Native American programs as well as efforts to ensure historical markers offer an accurate portrayal of Indigenous people.

When she first heard about the proposal, Sarah Burks, preservation planner at the Cambridge Historical Commission, acknowledged there were questions. Which signs would get the translations? How would translation be handled? Would this involve extensive research?

The translation on streets signs will be relatively easy for people to understand, she said, and inspire residents to "stop and think`` about the Massachusett Tribe and to ``recognize the diversity of people in our community."

"It will be attention-grabbing in a good way,`` she said of the signs, which are expected to go up early next year.


Associated Press writers Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska, contributed to this report.

New Law Returns Native American Remains for Reburial in Illinois

Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) __ For centuries, Europeans carving up the prairie to suit their own idea of settlement dug up the graves of Native Americans as they conquered lands and pushed tribes to the West.

Now, Native Americans whose ancestors` remains ended up held for study in sterile, nondescript boxes on shelves in educational facilities or displayed in cultural locales hope a new Illinois law will speed their recovery for proper reburial in their homeland.

"I always have a bit of unease because I know if I'm going to a university or to a museum ... that chances are pretty high that we've got some ancestors sitting in a basement or in a closet somewhere," said Raphael Wahwassuck, tribal preservation officer for the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in Mayetta, Kansas. "I hope that this (law) will help ease those concerns, knowing that we are working on correcting that and taking care of our ancestors to put them in a good resting place."

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed The Human Remains Protection Act last month, which updates a rudimentary 1989 state statute. It also complements a federal law adopted a year later, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. It requires the return of human remains and funerary, sacred and cultural objects unearthed in the past 200 years by plows and bulldozers, by archeologists, or by profiteering marauders to the associated tribe.

Key to the measure is first-time authority for tribes to rebury recovered remains in Illinois, which they much prefer to relocating them to states to which the U.S. government forced their relocation nearly two centuries ago.

The Illinois State Museum, which holds remains from about 7,000 individuals, is prepared to reunify 1,100 of them with their tribes, according to Brooke Morgan, the museum`s curator of anthropology. Overall, institutions in Illinois can identify nearly 13,000 individuals that must be repatriated.

What the soil produced often ended up in scholarly institutions across the state, from Chicago`s Field Museum to Southern Illinois University, as well as the state museum.

Illinois is the nation`s fifth-largest repository of human remains, according to the National Park Service, which administers the repatriation program. And large numbers of remains recovered from Illinois are held by institutions in other states. Nationally, the remains of nearly 209,000 individuals have been reported to the federal government and must be surrendered to descendants.

Information about past cultures and lives lived gleaned from anthropologists` study of the remains is not without merit, Morgan said, but research must be "ethically informed."

"While there's a lot that can be learned, it's not it's not without consequences or outcomes that could be damaging to modern communities," Morgan said.

The law also toughens monetary penalties, including required restitution, for disturbing human remains and items buried with them or for displays __ something the Illinois State Museum did at Dickson Mounds in Lewistown, 200 miles (322 kilometers) southwest of Chicago, before disbanding the feature in 1992.

While repatriation in Illinois during the federal law's first three decades has been sluggish, at best, in 2020, the late Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, the museum's director, pushed her staff to gauge interest with Native American tribes in repatriating the Dickson Mounds holdings.

Now, the museum is on the cusp of returning the remains of 1,100 individuals from Dickson Mounds to 10 tribes whose ancestors were laid to rest there, Morgan said. The process has wrought stronger relationships with affected tribes, which could prove critical as the new state law requires consultation __ meaningful dialog among holding institutions and tribes about handling and transferring remains __ rather than simple notification.

"It can be emotionally taxing. It can be really traumatic to learn about how their ancestors have been studied or how they've been housed or how they've been cared for or not cared for," Morgan said.

What scholars now call a period of ethnic cleansing began with President Andrew Jackson`s signature on the Indian Removal Act of 1830. It forced indigenous people to move west of the Mississippi River, clearing the eastern United States for white settlers, particularly for expansive cotton cultivation in the south.

Prior to the new law, "repatriation" meant turning remains over to tribes who had little choice but to take them back to the states to which they were forcibly removed.

"The tribes that I talked to __ one, specifically, the Cherokee of Oklahoma __ said, that is like recreating the Trail of Tears," said the legislation`s sponsor, Rep. Mark Walker, a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights. He was referring to the 1838-39 westward death march which claimed the lives of 4,000 Cherokee.

Walker said the Cherokee told him, "`Our ancestors were buried where our ancestors wanted to be buried. And now you`ve dug up their bones and you`re going to bring them to where we were forced to go."

Walker said negotiators have compiled a list of 30 potential sites for burial. Tribes will ultimately choose which sites will be used.

Matthew Bussler, tribal historic preservation officer for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi in Dowagiac, Michigan, said the practice and ceremony of final rites differs by tribe. Generally, he said, it is critical to see that ancestors are returned "to the womb of Mother Earth" not only so they may continue their journey in the hereafter, but to "redeem all of the pain and the suffering" of their tribe, especially their descendants.

There are costs associated with repatriation, of course, for the tribes as well as the state. The law provides money for travel and other expenses the tribes incur. The account is partially funded by fines for desecrating burial grounds, including for the first time, restitution to cover collecting, cleaning and reburying remains illegally taken, just as other remains before them had been for centuries.

"Those human remains were never treated as human beings...," Bussler said. "Those who had been deceased for hundreds of years who are just being found, or your grandmother who just passed away __ we need to treat them all with utmost respect."

Tribal Nations Face Less Accurate, More Limited 2020 Census Data

Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M (AP) __ During the 2020 census, Native American leaders across the U.S. invested time and resources to make sure their members were tallied during the head count, which determines political power and federal funding.

But the detailed data sets from the 2020 census they will receive this month are more limited and less accurate than they were in the previous census __ and it isn`t because the COVID-19 pandemic severely limited outreach efforts.

Rather, it`s due to new privacy methods implemented by the U.S. Census Bureau in order to protect the confidentiality of participants, one of which introduces intentional errors, or "noise," to the data.

At stake is the availability and accuracy of data helping tribal leaders make decisions about where to locate grocery stores or schools and estimate future population growth. Census numbers determine funding for social programs, education, roads and elderly care for tribes that have been historically undercounted.

"It was never clearly articulated to them by the Census Bureau that this would be the case, that they wouldn't receive the level of data that they received from the previous census," New Mexico State Demographer Robert Rhatigan said. "In those tribal conversations it was never made clear that the data would not be available, or that it would be so noisy in these smaller areas."

In fact, more than 80% of tribes in the U.S. won't receive the full suite of detailed demographic data from the 2020 census at tribal-area levels they had in the 2010 census because of the changes, according to a report released in August by the Center for Indian Country Development, which is part of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Many leaders in Indian Country are unaware they are going to get fewer tables when the detailed data sets are released Sept. 21, said Brandi Liberty, a consultant who helps tribes get federal and state grants.

"It's going to be difficult for a lot of tribes when they need the data," said Liberty, a member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska.

The 2020 census put the American Indian and Alaska Native alone population at 3. 7 million people; it was 9.6 million for those who identified as American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with another race. The Census Bureau provides detailed data for 1,200 American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages.

The privacy changes to the detailed census data "will harm the ability of self- governing tribes to meet the needs of their citizens," the Federal Reserve report said.

The Census Bureau told The Associated Press that it doesn't comment on outside reports but acknowledged the number of tables for tribes in 2020 were reduced from 2010 because of the privacy concerns.

The privacy changes arrive during heightened sensitivities about who controls data from Indian Country.

"The concept of tribal data sovereignty and just data sovereignty in general has been kind of elevated. In a sense, this is their data," Rhatigan said. "You can say that it's a problem for the smaller tribal communities that won't even get the detailed age data. It's possible that the bigger problem comes from the tribes that do receive the data. Nobody knows ... how inaccurate those data are."

That`s because of the privacy method, known as "differential privacy," uses algorithms to create intentional errors to data by adding or subtracting people from the actual count in order to obscure the identity of any given participant in a particular area.

The Census Bureau has said the differential privacy algorithms are needed because, without them, the growth of easily available third-party data combined with modern computing could allow hackers to piece together the identities of participants in its censuses and surveys in violation of the law.

The statistical agency already has released 2020 census data used to draw political districts and determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets.

Differential privacy`s impact on accuracy is greatest when population totals are broken down by race, age and sex, making it harder to understand demographic changes in individual tribal areas, the Federal Reserve report said.

Also complicating the availability of detailed tribal census data are new population thresholds by the Census Bureau. The thresholds determine how much data tribes, or racial or ethnic groups, get for a particular area.

In 2010, in order to protect people`s identities, a tribe or a racial or ethnic group in any particular geography like a county needed at least 100 people to get all 71 available data tables. In 2020, "dynamic population thresholds" are being used, with the size of the tribe or racial or ethnic group in a location determining how many data tables they get.

For national or state level data, the 40% of all tribes with less than 500 people across the U.S. will receive only country or state-wide population totals, keeping them from getting the more detailed data they got in 2010. At the tribal-area level, 80% of tribes will only receive population totals instead of breakdowns of age data reported by sex, according to the Federal Reserve report.

In New Mexico, for instance, only the Navajo Nation __ the tribe with the largest reservation, extending into Arizona and Utah __ will receive the full suite of data with almost two dozen age categories by sex. Sixteen of the state's 22 populated tribal areas are likely to receive limited data sets breaking down populations into only four age groups per sex. Two Native American pueblos will receive no age breakdowns at all, Rhatigan said.

American Indian or Alaska Native people on reservations were among the most undercounted populations in the 2020 census, with an estimated 5.6% of residents missed, according to an evaluation by the Census Bureau.

The COVID-19 pandemic severely limited the outreach efforts many tribal communities had planned. Many tribes closed their borders in an effort to stop the virus` spread, severely restricting the ability to get a head count. Plus, the digital divide in some tribal communities made responding to the head count difficult during the first census, in which participants were encouraged to answer census questions online.

It might have been worse. The Census Bureau earlier contemplated eliminating detailed tribal tables altogether, said James Tucker, a voting rights attorney for the Native American Rights Fund.

"It could have been really bad,`` said Tucker, who is a former chair of a Census Bureau advisory committee. "But they took it to heart to make the data as accurate as possible while balancing that against the privacy concerns."


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Journalist Group Changes Its Name To The Indigenous Journalists Association To Be More Inclusive

Associated Press

WINNIPEG, Canada (AP) __ The Native American Journalists Association announced Friday it is changing its name to the Indigenous Journalists Association in an effort to become more inclusive and strengthen ties with Indigenous journalists worldwide.

"We need young, Indigenous people to be telling stories in their own communities, and so having a name that can be inclusive to all Indigenous peoples, especially First Nations and Inuit, Métis and Canada, who don't identify as Native American -- So that was really part of it," Francine Compton, citizen of Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation and associate director of the journalists association, told The Associated Press.

The group that was founded in 1983 and now includes more than 950 members, mostly in the U.S., announced the name change at its annual conference in Winnipeg, Canada. The decision was made after Indigenous members voted 89-55 in favor of the name change. About 400 Indigenous members were eligible to vote.

The organization also updated the logo from NAJA with a feather to a stylized "IJA."

The name change has been in consideration for a few years, as the association sought to give its members time to voice their support and any concerns, Compton said.

It also wanted to honor the association`s legacy and those who led it, including board presidents who were gifted a beaded medallion with the NAJA logo on stage Friday, with drumming and song filling the room.

The change also reflects terminology used by the United Nations and other multinational organizations.

"We live in a time when it is possible to connect and create deep, meaningful relationships with Indigenous journalists no matter where they are, and we look forward to helping them find each other to share their knowledge and support," Graham Lee Brewer, a Cherokee Nation citizen and the association's president, said in a statement.

It also represents an evolution in how Indigenous people see themselves.

"It's part of this larger movement that's happening in Indigenous people, just reclaiming everything that's theirs that should be theirs," board member Jourdan Bennett-Begaye said ahead of the vote. "Since contact, decisions have been made for us and not by us."

But other members of the organization did not agree with the change.

Roy Dick said the change doesn't align with how he identifies as a citizen of the Yakama Nation and as Native American. He voted against it.

"Indigenous is good for the young people, but we're old school, and that's how we've been going," said Dick, a morning DJ at the tribally owned KYNR radio station in Toppenish, Washington.

He noted the work ahead in assuring the organization's bylaws and other guidelines are consistent with the new name.

"It's a lot to think about for these new leaders that are in there now," said Dick. "They have to do a lot of reading to see if that name will grab on."


Golden reported from Seattle.

A Vermont Museum is Gifted a More Than 200-Piece Collection of Native American Art

By LISA RATHKE Associated Press

SHELBURNE, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont museum has acquired a more than 200-piece collection of Native American art and is planning to construct a $12.6 million facility to house the pieces that make up a rare national collection in the Northeast.

The collection donated to the Shelburne Museum is comprised of late 19th and early 20th century pottery, beadwork, clothing and weavings predominantly from Plains and Southwest communities, and combined with its existing Native American collection represents nearly 80 tribes, the museum said.

''Together, the two collections are over 500 items and that's a center of gravity, which is fairly important for northern New England,'' said museum director and CEO Thomas Denenberg.

The 9,750-square-foot (906-square-meter) building - called the Perry Center for Native American Art - will be designed by Adjaye Associates, an internationally known firm that designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The building is slated to open in the spring of 2026 and ''planned to be a highly sustainable pavilion designed to support the culturally appropriate interpretation and care of Indigenous material culture,'' the museum said in a statement.

Museum officials have consulted on the project with the leaders of the four bands of the state-recognized Abenaki tribes in Vermont.

"The museum's collaborative approach to stewardship of the Native American collection and construction of the Perry Center for Native American Art is commendable," Don Stevens, chief of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation, said in a statement. "Like the museum, we see this project as an opportunity to bring more people to Shelburne and the region from across the country and internationally to study, learn about and experience Native American art and material culture."

Some of the pottery is currently on display at the museum in an exhibition that opened last week. The pieces include water jars, grain storage vessels and big bowls, painted with geometric and other patterns. They, along with the rest of the 200-piece collection, were donated by Teressa "Teri" Perry in memory of her late husband Tony Perry, a noted businessperson in Vermont with a deep connection to the region, according to the museum.

"Tony was always drawn to the multi-dimensional nature of Native American art,'' Teri Perry said in a statement. "He appreciated that this material not only surrounds you in beauty and history, but it also invites a sense of contemplation and spirituality."

John Stomberg, director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, who visited the current exhibit, called the pieces "stunning."

In northern New England, the origins of the Native American collections at the Hood Museum and the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine, tend to be more related to anthropology and archeology, Denenberg said. They can also be more local while this collection is national, he said, comparing it to the 116-piece Charles and Valerie Diker Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

"In both cases these major gifts have transformed the museum in a way that it tells the story of North American art and culture. They share that. The Perry collection is a top notch collection," Stomberg said.

The new building in Vermont will be the 40th at the 45-acre museum of American Art and Material Culture. The gift was announced in May.

"Bringing these collections together presents an opportunity to collaborate with Tribes in the study of both historical and contemporary Indigenous material culture and art in a manner accessible to students, scholars and visitors," Denenberg said a statement.

Things to Know About the Supreme Court Ruling Upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act

Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) - The Supreme Court has preserved a federal law giving preference to Native American families when it comes to adopting Native children in foster care. The court's 7-2 ruling Thursday leaves in place the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, which aims to reverse centuries of government-sanctioned efforts to weaken tribal identity by separating Native American children from their families and raising them outside their tribal cultures.

Here are some things to know about the law and the issues around it:



The law requires states to notify tribes when adoption cases involve their members or children eligible for tribal membership, and to try to place them with their extended family, their tribe or other Native American families. It was enacted to address historic injustices: Before the law took effect, between 25% and 35% of Native American children were being taken from their families and placed with adoptive families, in foster care or in institutions. The majority were placed with white families or in boarding schools in attempts to assimilate them. A series of scandals involving the long-closed boarding schools shed light on government-sanctioned efforts to wipe out Native culture by cutting their hair and forbidding them from speaking their languages.



Native American leaders are celebrating the ruling as a huge win. A joint statement by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Morongo Band of Mission Indians Chairman Charles Martin, Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill and Quinault Indian Nation President Guy Capoeman said they hope it will "lay to rest the political attacks aimed at diminishing tribal sovereignty." Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren called it a victory for "all Indigenous children and all Indigenous Nations in the United States." The Native American Rights Fund said 497 tribal nations, 62 Native organizations, 23 states, 87 members of Congress and 27 child welfare and adoption organizations signed onto Supreme Court briefs supporting the law.



Justice Neal Gorsuch set the ruling in the context of a sweeping history of the relationship between tribal nations and state and federal governments, noting that past Supreme Court rulings at times were confusing or contradictory. "Often, Native American Tribes have come to this Court seeking justice only to leave with bowed heads and empty hands," Gorush said. "But that is not because this Court has no justice to offer them. Our Constitution reserves for the Tribes a place - an enduring place - in the structure of American life. It promises them sovereignty for as long as they wish to keep it. And it secures that promise by divesting States of authority over Indian affairs and by giving the federal government certain significant (but limited and enumerated) powers aimed at building a lasting peace."



Three white families and several Republican-led states including Texas claimed the law is based on race in violation of the equal protection clause and puts the interests of tribes ahead of what's best for the children. They also argued that the law gives the federal government excessive power over adoptions and foster placements, which are generally overseen by states, and challenged whether Congress even has the authority to pass laws addressing Native American issues. The lead plaintiffs, Chad and Jennifer Brackeen of Fort Worth, Texas, adopted a Native American child after a lengthy battle with the Navajo Nation, one of the two largest tribes in the U.S. The couple wants to adopt the boy's 5- year-old half-sister, who has lived with them since infancy; the Navajo Nation opposes it. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented, with Alito writing that the decision "disserves the rights and interests of these children. "



Justice Brett Kavanaugh cautioned in a separate concurring opinion that the court didn't address the merits of whether the law provides an unconstitutional racial preference for Native foster and adoptive parents. "In my view, the equal protection issue is serious," Kavanaugh wrote, and suggested the court should revisit the issue with plaintiffs found to have proper standing in a state court. Attorney Mathew McGill, representing the Brackeens, said he would press just such a claim. McGill runs the gaming practice for the Gibson Dunn law firm and successfully argued Murphy v. NCAA before the Supreme Court, which gave all states the ability to legalize sports betting to the detriment of tribal casinos around the country.

Tribes Want US Protection For Areas Next To The Grand Canyon

Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) - Tribal leaders in Arizona said Tuesday they hope to build on the momentum of President Joe Biden's recent designation of a national monument in neighboring Nevada to persuade the administration to create similar protections for areas adjacent to the Grand Canyon, which they consider sacred.

"This designation is of the highest priority to the Hopi people," said Timothy Nuvangyaoma, chairman of the tribe in northern Arizona. "We have to protect the beauty and grandeur of this place many tribes call home."

Tribes in Arizona are looking to persuade Biden to use his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make the designation for a little more than 1 million acres (404,686 hectares), or about 1,560 square miles (4,000 square kilometers).

The announcement during a virtual news conference came days before Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is scheduled to visit Nevada. The state is home to Avi Kwa Ame, a newly designated monument on a desert mountain northwest of Laughlin - the largest community in the remote southern tip of the state - that some Native Americans consider sacred. Haaland will join Nevada's congressional delegation and tribal leaders Friday in Las Vegas to celebrate the move.

Biden last month also granted national monument status to Castner Range, located on Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and moved to create a national marine sanctuary in the central Pacific Ocean around the Pacific Remote Islands.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, a ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee and a Democrat representing southern Arizona, said the effort to have lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon named a national monument called Baaj Nwaavjo I'tah Kukveni is part of a sustained effort to protect Indigenous sacred and cultural sites.

"Baaj Nwaavjo'' means "where tribes roam," for the Havasupai people, while I'tah Kukveni translates to "our footprints," for the Hopi tribe.

Grijalva in 2008 introduced legislation to withdraw about 1,560 square miles (4, 000 square kilometers) around the park from mineral development, after uranium prices spiked in 2008 and more than 10,000 mining claims were filed on public lands.

That move prompted the Interior Department to launch an environmental analysis of uranium mining in the area, leading to a 2012 moratorium on new claims on those miles of federal land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.

Grijalva said that although the 20-year ban remains in effect, the national monument designation is needed to offer permanent protections against mining that could damage areas import to tribes as well as the environment.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent, and local elected officials also backed the campaign to have the Grand Canyon made a national monument.

Tribes and conservationists were startled in 2020 when a $1.5 billion proposal by then-President Donald Trump's administration to prop up the country's nuclear fuel industry emboldened at least one company to take steps toward boosting operations at dormant uranium mines around the West, including outside Grand Canyon National Park.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

AG Creates Council to Advise on Missing Indigenous People

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ Attorney General Mark Vargo has created a council to advise him on missing and murdered indigenous people.

The Rapid City Journal reported Wednesday that a disproportionate percentage of missing people in South Dakota are indigenous. They make up only 9% of the state's population but 60% of people listed on the state's missing person's clearinghouse.

The council consists of advocates, prosecutors and law enforcement representatives for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tribal and state agencies as well as state lawmakers.

The council will advise the attorney general's office on what protocols to create for the state's new Missing and Murdered Indigenous People office. The office currently employs one person, coordinator Allison Morrisette, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She started in the position at the end of November and is based in Rapid City.

The council is scheduled to meet for the first time on Feb. 14. On June 30, they'll deliver a list of goals and objectives for the MMIP coordinator and then meet at least annually after that to receive a report from the coordinator, according to a press release.

Most council members' names haven't been released. Vargo spokesman Stewart Huntington said Vargo wants to give the council time to reach a consensus on goals before announcing the full membership.

Montana Lawmaker Wants to Revisit Idea of Reservations

Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ A white state lawmaker in Montana is questioning whether land set aside long ago for Native Americans should exist anymore.

Republican Sen. Keith Regier is proposing asking Congress to study alternatives to reservations. The measure, submitted this week and riddled with racial stereotypes, is unlikely to pass and would have no practical effect if it did. But it's causing tensions to surface at the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature that kicked off this week.

Native American lawmakers say they're now spending time responding to the proposed resolution rather than focusing on their own legislative priorities, including extending the state's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force for another two years, creating a grant program to train community-based groups to search for missing people and encouraging the state to determine the economic impact of reservations on the state's economy.

``I hate spending energy and time on this kind of stuff because I feel like it sidetracks us,'' state Sen. Shane Morigeau, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, said Thursday. ``But at the same time, it clearly signals to me that we have a lot of educational work to do in this state.''


Regier said the language in the resolution was written by Mark Agather, a retired businessman who is involved in conservative politics in Kalispell near the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana.

Reiger has submitted the draft to legislative staffers, but he did not respond to an email Friday asking if he would formally introduce it.

Agather didn't respond to inquiries from The Associated Press, including on whether he sought input from tribal members.

The draft resolution argues that reservations have ``failed to positively enhance the lives and well-being'' of Native Americans, led to substance abuse, domestic violence, welfare dependence, poverty and substandard education. It also argues tribal members who don't own land have the highest poverty rate and lowest life expectancy of any ethnic group in America.

It also argues reservations are ``not in the best interests of either the Indians inside our borders or for our common Montana Citizens.''

Morigeau said that if legislators want to consider any alternative, it should be ``giving the land back that was taken in the first place, not robbing the last bit of land and resources that we have.''


Floyd Azure, chairman of the Fort Peck Tribe in northeastern Montana, said the draft resolution perpetuates racial stereotypes about life on the reservation when social ills, such as addiction, exist nationwide.

``Why exaggerate the reservations?” he said. He thinks some people ``make themselves feel better'' by attacking Native Americans.

Morigeau said the federal government over decades has failed to stamp out tribes, their culture and language through relocation programs and boarding schools. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is from Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, repeatedly has acknowledged the harm those policies that no longer exist caused and sought ways to address the trauma.

``I'm tired of hearing what other people think is best for us,'' Morigeau said. ``Consult and seek the advice of Indian people,'' rather than imposing on tribes.

The solution to any social issues on reservations, including addiction or disproportionate rates of health problems, is not to diminish reservations, Morigueau said. ``We should be building tribal sovereignty up.”


More than half _ or 326 _ of the 574 federally recognized Native American and Alaska Native villages in the U.S. have land set aside that's categorized as federal trust land. Often the land is referred to as a reservation, but also as rancherias in California and pueblos in New Mexico.

The largest reservation is the Navajo Nation, which spans 27,000 square miles (69,000 square-kilometers) into parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Other reservations are tiny.

All but one of Montana's seven reservations were established prior to statehood.

Federal policies at various points in history sought to disestablish reservations and force Native Americans into cities. Today, more than 70% of Native Americans live off reservation.

Momentum has grown in recent years to restore land to Native American tribes. The Interior Department under Haaland also has opened the door for Alaska Native villages to seek trust land status.


The resolution argues that Native American reservations were created based on race. The U.S. Constitution recognizes tribes as sovereign governments, which is a political classification.

The federal government set the boundaries for reservations under the auspices of lessening conflicts between Native Americans and white settlers.

The same race-based language used in Reiger's draft resolution has shown up elsewhere. Most notably, from critics of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act who have argued the law is unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection clause.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling this year in a case challenging the law, which gives preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings of Native children. Tribes fear widespread impacts if the court attempts to dismantle their status as political sovereigns.

The race-based language also appeared in a case challenging tribal gambling operations in Washington state.


During the 2021 legislative session, Native American lawmakers saw discrimination and racism in legislative actions, such as tabling a bill to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day and threats to eliminate funding for a Native American language preservation program that was later restored.

The Republican-controlled Legislature also passed bills similar to earlier laws that had been declared unconstitutional after a judge found they made it more difficult for Native Americans to vote. And the state Senate removed a member of the Montana Human Rights Commission, leaving it without Native American representation for the first time in at least 16 years.

``Legislators, including the Indian Caucus, make every attempt to be civil. However, it's hard when the Indian people are attacked over and over, day after day,'' Democratic Sen. Susan Webber said at the time.

Republicans denied any legislation was discriminatory.

Public Viewing at Palace for 'Last Hawaiian Princess'

Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) -- The casket bearing the 96-year-old heiress long considered the last Hawaiian princess went on public display Sunday in the downtown Honolulu palace that benefited from her wealth.

Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa's casket, handcrafted from a 165-year-old koa tree that fell during a 2021 storm on the Big Island, arrived at ?Iolani Palace in a hearse. It was greeted by a traditional Hawaiian wailing and a chanting of her lineage before being carried by members of a law enforcement honor guard up the palace's front stairs and into the throne room.

Family spokesperson Caroline Witherspoon called the procession ``extremely emotional,'' saying, ``The wailing _ it was just beautiful. It just caused a visceral reaction for me. I started to cry.''

The palace is America's only royal residence, where the Hawaiian monarchy dwelled but which now serves mostly as a museum. Kawananakoa was the palace's largest single benefactor, according to her publicists, and even paid its electricity bills for many years.

Members of the public were allowed to line up to view her casket and weren't required to wear the shoe coverings that palace visitors normally have to wear as a preservation precaution. A carpet for mourners to walk on was temporarily installed for the viewing.

The viewing was scheduled to end at 8 p.m. local time.

Kawananakoa diedat her home in Nuuanu, near downtown Honolulu on Dec. 11. She passed away ``peacefully'' with her wife, Veronica Gail Kawananakoa, 70, at her side, according to a news release.

``Abigail will be remembered for her love of Hawaii and its people,'' her wife said in the release, ``and I will miss her with all of my heart.''

Kawananakoa held no formal title but was considered a princess because her lineage included the royal family that once ruled the Hawaiian islands. She was a reminder of Hawaii's monarchy and a symbol of its national identity that endured after the kingdom was overthrown by American businessmen in 1893.

In 1895, an unsuccessful attempt by Hawaiian royalists to restore Queen Lili?uokalani to power resulted in her arrest. She was put on trial before a military tribunal in her own throne room. After she was convicted, she was imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom of the palace for nearly eight months.

Kawananakoa inherited her wealth from her great-grandfather, Irish businessman James Campbell, who made his fortune as a sugar plantation owner and one of Hawaii's largest landowners.

He had married Abigail Kuaihelani Maipinepine Bright. Their daughter, Abigail Wahiika`ahu`ula Campbell, married Prince David Kawananakoa, who was named an heir to the throne. Their daughter then went on to give birth to Abigail.

After the prince died, his widow adopted their grandchild, Abigail, which strengthened her claim to a princess title.

She received more Campbell money than anyone else and amassed a trust valued at about $215 million.

In 2017, a court battle began over control of her trust after she suffered a stroke. In 2018, Kawananakoa attempted to amend her trust to ensure that her wife would receive $40 million and all her personal property, according to court records.

Three years later, a judge ruled that Kawananakoa was unable to manage her property and business affairs because she was impaired.

Kawananakoa gained notoriety when she sat on an ?Iolani Palace throne for a Life magazine photo shoot in 1998. She damaged some of its fragile threads.

The uproar led to her ouster as president of Friends of ?Iolani Palace, a position she held for more than 25 years.

In addition to the palace's upkeep, Kawananakoa funded various causes over the years, including scholarships for Native Hawaiian students, opposition to Honolulu's rail transit project and protests against a giant telescope. She also donated items owned by King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi?olani for public display, including a 14-carat diamond from the king's pinky ring.

On Friday, Gov. Josh Green ordered that U.S. and Hawaii state flags be flown at half-staff at the state Capitol and state offices through sundown Monday for her funeral services.

A private funeral service is scheduled for Monday at Mauna ?Ala, also known as Royal Mausoleum State Monument, which is the burial place of Hawaiian royalty.

Kevin Costner: Returning 'Yellowstone' is a Hit on Own Terms

AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ While a healthy slice of America awaited Sunday's return of the hit series ``Yellowstone,'' star Kevin Costner was in Moab, Utah, scouting locations for yet another Western epic, ``Horizon.''

Costner's 60-some film credits, among them ``Field of Dreams,'' ``The Bodyguard,`` ``JFK'' and ``Bull Durham,'' are an eclectic mix of dramas, baseball-centric tales and the occasional comedy. But the West's history and land have proven his creative bedrock.

His breakout role came in 1985's ``Silverado,'' followed by starring roles in ``Dances with Wolves,'' his Oscar-winning directorial debut; ``Wyatt Earp,'' and ``Open Range,`` which he also directed. He's donning the actor-director Stetson again for ``Horizon,'' planned as a four-film saga about pre- and post-Civil War western migration.

The Paramount Network's contemporary ``Yellowstone,'' created by Taylor Sheridan (``Hell or High Water''), already has generated a successful prequel, ``1883.'' A second, ``1923'' (formerly titled ``1932''), with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren as its headliners, is set for a Dec. 18 release.

In its fifth season, ``Yellowstone'' opens with Costner's Montana rancher John Dutton awaiting the outcome of his reluctant run for governor -- a big-swing effort to shield his family's vast land and business against challenges from developers and empowered Native Americans.

Dutton's populist-style campaign promised to safeguard Montana values, or likely those that dovetail with the interests he's gone to extremes to protect. Would Costner himself consider seeking office? ``No, I don't think so,'' he said.

In an interview with The Associated Press, he discussed why ``Yellowstone'' has gained a following, the series' portrayal of Native Americans, and his long-held regard for the Western genre done right. Remarks have been edited for brevity and clarity.


AP: When you joined Taylor Sheridan on the drama series, what made you think it could work?

KEVIN COSTNER: I thought it had a chance to be relevant, in that this work is still going on in America and most people kind of take it for granted how stuff ends up at their dinner table. We intuitively know, and we don't really know. The show is able to highlight at times the beauty of ranching, and it certainly talks about how difficult it is. We're set in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I think the idea of mountains and rivers captured people's imagination. But it's a working ranch. It's how it's still done. I think it spoke well of that, with its kind of heightened sense of drama.

AP: While John Dutton says he's no politician, he's seeking power and there's more than a suggestion he intends to use it for his own ends. How do you see the character?

KEVIN COSTNER: He's not naive. He's no politician in the sense that he wants to collaborate. I think he's capable of hearing the best idea, but he's not looking for middle ground. It's not how he's conducted his life. What's maybe good for his ranch might be good for all the rest of the ranches in Montana as well _ the preservation of a way of life, less expansion. His ranch is highlighted, he says it out loud. But I think he sees this working for other ranchers.

AP: `Yellowstone' prominently includes Native Americans, as did `Dances with Wolves.' How do you view the series approach to the characters?

KEVIN COSTNER: I think they show it's all complicated. For them, everything has been stripped away, and they've had this little niche called gambling and even that's being nibbled at, being pawed over. Anytime there's money, there's going to be disputes no matter what culture you're dealing with. So you see power plays inside the Native American community. You see ambition, you see selfishness. It's really normal behavior. We might flinch at it, we might be embarrassed by it, but it exists on all levels. The political machinations of what happens on the rez (reservation) are equal to what happens on our national stage. There's bitterness, there's resentment. There's good ideas, there's bad ideas. So who gets left in the lurch? Generally speaking, it's the people.

AP: The series received a Screen Actors Guild nomination for best ensemble drama but has been largely overlooked by the Emmys. Could that reflect a bias against Westerns?

KEVIN COSTNER: I'm not sure, because we're a very verbal show. We're not reduced to `yep' and `nope.' It's very literate in its expression. You can be minimalized, you can be marginalized, you can be ignored. But we've been able to create a show that didn't start out being popular but did it on its own terms.

AP: You've said that watching the 1962 movie `How the West Was Won' as a youngster made you a fan of the Western. What chord did it strike and why does the genre continue to resonate with you?

KEVIN COSTNER: When it's done well, you realize how vulnerable (people) were. We see freeways and cities now, but if you roll back about 120 years, you were out here by yourself. How you made it or didn't would depend sometimes on your decisions and most of the time on just luck. There was no law, there was no army, we were taking away land from people that have lived there for thousands of years. I think to myself, `My God, what made people keep coming West?' They sometimes didn't share the same language, they were from different countries in Europe. When I see it in its rawest form, I'm inspired by it, I'm in awe of it. I realize that what made people cross the country was nothing but hope of something better than where they came from.

First Native American Woman in Space Awed by Mother Earth

AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ The first Native American woman in space said Wednesday she is overwhelmed by the beauty and delicacy of Mother Earth, and is channeling ``positive energy'' as her five-month mission gets underway.

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann said from the International Space Station that she's received lots of prayers and blessings from her family and tribal community. She is a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Northern California.

Mann showed off the dream catcher she took up with her, a childhood gift from her mother that she's always held dear. The small traditional webbed hoop with feathers is used to offer protection, and she said it's given her strength during challenging times. Years before joining NASA in 2013, she flew combat in Iraq for the Marines.

``It's the strength to know that I have the support of my family and community back home and that when things are difficult or things are getting hard or I'm getting burned-out or frustrated, that strength is something that I will draw on to continue toward a successful mission,'' Mann told The Associated Press, which gathered questions from members and tribal news outlets across the country.

Mann said she's always heeded her mother's advice on the importance of positive energy, especially on launch day.

``It's difficult for some people maybe to understand because it's not really tangible,'' she said. ``But that positive energy is so important, and you can control that energy, and it helps to control your attitude.``

Mann, 45, a Marine colonel and test pilot who was born in Petaluma, California, said it's important to recognize there are all types of people aboard the space station. It's currently home to three Americans, three Russians and one Japanese astronaut.

``What that does is it just highlights our diversity and how incredible it is when we come together as a human species, the wonderful things that we can do and that we can accomplish,'' she said.

While fascinated with stars and space as a child, Mann said she did not understand who became astronauts or even what they did. ``Unfortunately, in my mind at that time, it was not in the realm of possibilities,'' she said.

That changed later in her career. Now, she's taking in the sweeping vistas of Earth from 260 miles (420 kilometers) up and hoping to see the constellations, as she encourages youngsters to follow their dreams.

As for describing Earth from space, ``the emotions are absolutely overwhelming,'' she said. ``It is an incredible scene of color, of clouds and land, and it's difficult not to stay in the cupola (lookout) all day and just see our planet Earth and how beautiful she is, and how delicate and fragile she is against the blackest of black that I've ever seen _ space _ in the background.''

Mann rocketed into orbit with SpaceX on Oct. 5. She'll be up there until March. She and her husband, a retired Navy fighter pilot, have a 10-year-old son back home in Houston.

The first Native American in space, in 2002, was now-retired astronaut John Herrington of the Chickasaw Nation.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

South Dakota Settles With Tribes to Ensure Voting Rights

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ The South Dakota secretary of state will implement a voting rights coordinator and train state agencies to comply with federal voting rights laws as part of a settlement with two Native American tribes.

The settlement comes after U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol of South Dakota in May sided with two tribes, the Rosebud Sioux and the Oglala Sioux, and the Lakota People's Law Project in a lawsuit accusing the secretary of state of not adhering to the National Voter Registration Act.

The judge ruled that the state's agencies didn't provide enough opportunities to register to vote or update voter registration information at places such as motor vehicle and public assistance offices in areas near Native American reservations. The law requires the agencies to help people register to vote at such offices, including ones that provide public assistance or serve people with disabilities.

The secretary of state's office also agreed to pay $625,000 in attorney's fees to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.

``This agreement requires South Dakota establish training and accountability mechanisms so voters, including Native voters, actually receive the legally required opportunities to register to vote,`` Oglala Sioux Tribe President Kevin Killer said in a statement.

Film Academy Apologizes to Littlefeather for 1973 Oscars

AP Film Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Nearly 50 years after Sacheen Littlefeather stood on the Academy Awards stage on behalf of Marlon Brando to speak about the depiction of Native Americans in Hollywood films, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences apologized to her for the abuse she endured.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on Monday said that it will host Littlefeather, now 75, for an evening of ``conversation, healing and celebration'' on Sept. 17.

When Brando won best actor for ``The Godfather,'' Littlefeather, wearing buckskin dress and moccasins, took the stage, becoming the first Native American woman ever to do so at the Academy Awards. In a 60-second speech, she explained that Brando could not accept the award due to ``the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry.``

Some in the audience booed her. John Wayne, who was backstage at the time, was reportedly furious. The 1973 Oscars were held during t he American Indian Movement's two-month occupation of Wounded Knee in South Dakota. In the years since, Littlefeather has said she's been mocked, discriminated against and personally attacked for her brief Academy Awards appearance.

In making the announcement, the Academy Museum shared a letter sent June 18 to Littlefeather by David Rubin, academy president, about the iconic Oscar moment. Rubin called Littlefeather's speech ``a powerful statement that continues to remind us of the necessity of respect and the importance of human dignity.''

``The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified,'' wrote Rubin. ``The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.''

Littlefeather, in a statement, said it is ``profoundly heartening to see how much has changed since I did not accept the Academy Award 50 years ago.''

``Regarding the Academy's apology to me, we Indians are very patient people _ it's only been 50 years!'' said Littlefeather. ``We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It's our method of survival.''

At the Academy Museum event in Los Angeles, Littlefeather will sit for a conversation with producer Bird Runningwater, co-chair of the academy's Indigenous Alliance.

In a podcast earlier this year with Jacqueline Stewart, a film scholar and director of the Academy Museum, Littlefeather reflected on what compelled her to speak out in 1973.

``I felt that there should be Native people, Black people, Asian people, Chicano people _ I felt there should be an inclusion of everyone,`` said Littlefeather. ``A rainbow of people that should be involved in creating their own image.''

Native Students Exercise Right to Wear Regalia at Graduation

Associated Press

CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) _ She walked up a red carpet and crossed a stage to accept her diploma wearing an eagle feather beaded onto her cap that her mother had gifted her.

Amryn Tom graduated this week from southern Utah's Cedar City High School. Her family cheered.

For the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah and other Native Americans, eagle feathers of the variety Tom wore are sacred items passed down through generations, used at ceremonies to signify achievement and connection with the community.

``This is from your ancestors,'' Tom said her mother, Charie, told her.

One year ago, students in Tom's school district would have been barred from wearing any form of tribal regalia along with their traditional cardinal-colored caps and gowns.

Not this year.

In March, Utah joined a growing list of states in enshrining Native American students' rights to wear tribal regalia at their graduation ceremonies.

In Iron County, where the school district tried to bar two graduates from wearing regalia at last year's ceremonies, Tom and other Native American students savored the hard-won right.

``It's kind of huge,'' said Paiute tribal member Brailyn Jake, an eagle feather and beads dangling from her turquoise cap. Her cousin was one of the students stopped from donning beads last year.

``People don't understand our culture, the meaning behind it and how, when you're turned down for something this big, it's kind of like, wow,`` Jake said.

Students across the U.S. often sport flower leis or flashy sashes at graduation with little controversy. But the rules governing tribal regalia at high school graduations have emerged as a legislative issue in several red and blue states after reports of students being prevented from wearing attire like Jake and Tom's.

Arizona, California, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington all recently enacted laws that either enshrine students' rights or bar schools from enforcing dress codes banning tribal regalia. After passing through the legislature, a bill with similar provisions is being sent to Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

In Utah, Paiute Chairwoman Corrina Bow brought the issue to state lawmakers after last year's two Iron County incidents. The district had no formal rules prohibiting Native American students from donning regalia.

Bow noted the graduation rate for Native American and Alaskan Native students was 74% in 2019, the lowest of any demographic group, and told lawmakers that guaranteeing students statewide the right to wear regalia would allow them to ``honor their culture, religion and heritage.''

Similar controversies have occurred at schools in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, suburban Chicago and elsewhere, with graduates being barred from wearing everything from beadwork and moccasins to sealskin caps. The incidents pit Native American students and their parents against administrators who say they want to maintain uniformity at graduation ceremonies.

Emalyce Kee, who is Navajo and Rosebud Sioux, was one of the two students told not to wear a beaded cap or plumes to her Cedar City High School graduation ceremony last year. She did it anyway.

Before walking across the stage to accept her diploma, Kee switched out her plain cap for one with a plume and beadwork by her uncle. Half a dozen family members in the front row applauded.

``I hadn't felt that powerful before that moment, standing up with my diploma, with my Native cap on and then shaking my principal's hand,`` Kee said.

At a high school that used ``Redmen'' as its mascot until 2019, Kee and her mother, Valerie Glass, said it stuck with them how the principal had argued beaded caps would set a precedent to allow all students to decorate their graduation attire.

``It's not `decorative' regalia. It's traditional beaded regalia. How can you have the Cedar Redmen for so long and not honor your Native American students?'' Glass said.

Iron County Superintendent Lance Hatch was not available for comment.

Hoksila Lakota gifted his nephew Elijah James Wiggins, who is of Lakota ancestry, an eagle feather in honor of his graduation from Cedar City High School on Wednesday. He said eagle feathers _ called wamblii wakan in Lakota _ are fundamental to celebrating once-in-a-lifetime achievements, with many believing they hold a connection to God.

``These aren't something you find on the floor and do whatever with,'' he said. ``These are sacred items given from grandfather to son or uncle to nephew.``


Metz reported from Salt Lake City.

Yellowstone Flooding Rebuild Could Take Years, Cost Billions

Associated Press

Created in 1872 as the United States was recovering from the Civil War, Yellowstone was the first of the national parks that came to be referred to as America's best idea. Now, the home to gushing geysers, thundering waterfalls and some of the country's most plentiful and diverse wildlife is facing its biggest challenge in decades.

Floodwaters this week wiped out numerous bridges, washed out miles of roads and closed the park as it approached peak tourist season during its 150th anniversary celebration. Nearby communities were swamped and hundreds of homes flooded as the Yellowstone River and its tributaries raged.

The scope of the damage is still being tallied by Yellowstone officials, but based on other national park disasters, it could take years and cost upwards of $1 billion to rebuild in an environmentally sensitive landscape where construction season only runs from the spring thaw until the first snowfall.

Based on what park officials have revealed and Associated Press images and video taken from a helicopter, the greatest damage seemed to be to roads, particularly on the highway connecting the park's north entrance in Gardiner, Montana, to the park's offices in Mammoth Hot Springs. Large sections of the road were undercut and washed away as the Gardner River jumped its banks. Perhaps hundreds of footbridges on trails may have been damaged or destroyed.

``This is not going to be an easy rebuild,'' Superintendent Cam Sholly said early in the week as he highlighted photos of massive gaps of roadway in the steep canyon. ``I don't think it's going to be smart to invest potentially, you know, tens of millions of dollars, or however much it is, into repairing a road that may be subject to seeing a similar flooding event in the future.``

Re-establishing a human imprint in a national park is always a delicate operation, especially as a changing climate makes natural disasters more likely. Increasingly intense wildfires are occurring, including one last year that destroyed bridges, cabins and other infrastructure in Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California.

Flooding has already done extensive damage in other parks and is a threat to virtually all the more-than 400 national parks, a report by The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization found in 2009.

Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state closed for six months after the worst flooding in its history in 2006. Damage to roads, trails, campgrounds and buildings was estimated at $36 million.

Yosemite Valley in California's Yosemite National Park has flooded several times, but suffered its worst damage 25 years ago when heavy downpours on top of a large snowpack _ a scenario similar to the Yellowstone flood _ submerged campgrounds, flooded hotel rooms, washed out bridges and sections of road, and knocked out power and sewer lines. The park was closed for more than two months.

Congress allocated $178 million in emergency funds - a massive sum for park infrastructure at the time - and additional funding eventually surpassed $250 million, according to a 2013 report.

But the rebuilding effort once estimated to last four to five years dragged out for 15, due in part to environmental lawsuits over a protected river corridor and a long bureaucratic planning and review process.

It's not clear if Yellowstone would face the same obstacles, though reconstructing the road that runs near Mammoth Hot Springs, where steaming water bubbles up over an otherworldly series of stone terraces, presents a challenge.

It's created by a unique natural formation of underground tubes and vents that push the hot water to the surface, and would be just one of many natural wonders crews would have to be careful not to disturb, said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Along with the formation itself, there are also microbes and insects that thrive in the environment found almost nowhere else. And the park will need to avoid damaging any archaeological or cultural artifacts in the area with a rich Native American history.

``They'll have to look at all the resources the park is designed to protect, and try to do this project as carefully as possible, but they're also going to try to go fairly quickly,'' Hartl said.

Having to reroute the roadway that hugged the Gardner River could be an opportunity to better protect the waterway and the fish and other species that thrive there from oil and other microscopic pollution that comes from passing vehicles, Hartl said.

``The river will be healthier for it,'' he said.

The Yosemite flood was seen by the park as an opportunity to rethink its planning and not necessarily rebuild in the same places, said Frank Dean, president and chief executive of the Yosemite Conservancy and a former park ranger.

Some facilities were relocated outside the flood plain and some campgrounds that had been submerged in the flood were never restored. At Yosemite Lodge, cabins that had been slated for removal in the 1980s were swamped and had to be removed.

``The flood took them all out like a precision strike,'' Dean said. ``I'm not going to say it's a good thing, but providence came in and made the decision for them.''

Yellowstone's recovery comes as a rapidly growing number of people line up to visit the country's national parks, even as a backlog of deferred maintenance budget grows into tens of billions of dollars. The park was already due for funding from the Great American Outdoors Act, a 2020 law passed by Congress that authorizes nearly $3 billion for maintenance and other projects on public lands.

Now it will need another infusion of money for more pressing repairs that Emily Douce, director of operations and park funding at National Parks Conservation Association, estimated could hit at least $1 billion.

The southern half of the park is expected to reopen next week, allowing visitors to flock to Old Faithful, the rainbow colored Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its majestic waterfall.

But the flood-damaged northern end may not reopen this year, depriving visitors from seeing Tower Fall and Lamar Valley, one of the best places in the world to see wolves and grizzly bears. Some days during the high season, an animal sighting can lead to thousands of people parked on the side of the road hoping to catch a glimpse.

Whether some of these areas are reopened will depend on how quickly washed-out roads can be repaired, downed trees can be removed and mudslides cleared.

Maintaining the approximately 466 miles (750 kilometers) of roadway throughout the park is a major job. Much of the roadway originally was designed for stagecoaches, said Kristen Brengel, senior vice-president of public affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association.

``Part of the effort of the last couple of decades has been to stabilize the road to make it safe for heavier vehicles to travel on it,'' she said.

Located at a high elevation where snow and cold weather is not uncommon eight months of the year and there are many tiny earthquakes, road surfaces don't last as long and road crews have a short window to complete projects. One recently completed road job created closures for about two years.

``I think it'll probably be several years before the park is totally back to normal,`` Hartl said.

Tribes Seek More Inclusion, Action from U.S. Officials

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ It was a quick trip for U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland with stops to hike through desert scrub near the U.S.-Mexico border and to marvel at the jagged Organ Mountains before soaking in what life was like in one of the oldest settlements along a historic trade route.

For Haaland, the time spent in West Texas and New Mexico over recent days helped to highlight the work being done to conserve parts of the borderlands.

But it also marked an opportunity for Haaland _ as head of the agency that has broad oversight of tribal affairs _ to deliver on promises to meet with Native American tribes that have grown increasingly frustrated about the federal government's failure to include them when making decisions about land management, energy development or the protection of sacred sites.

Haaland's selection as the first Native American to serve in the position opened a door for tribes who pointed to a history fraught with broken promises.

``I want the era where tribes have been on the back burner to be over, and I want to make sure that they have real opportunities to have a seat at the table,'' Haaland said on March 17, 2021, her first day on the job.

Haaland has since met with nearly 130 of the nation's 574 federally recognized tribes as she seeks to overhaul a federal system that has limited Native American relations to a check-the-box exercise.

And while some tribes say her aspirations are admirable, others remain skeptical they will see real change and say they have yet to experience meaningful dialogue with the federal government or key decision makers.

Haaland's department has developed a plan for improving formal consultations with tribes and established an advisory committee that will aid with communication once it's up and running. In an effort to make consultation a hallmark of her tenure, Haaland has said she wants integration of tribal input to become second nature for her employees.

There has been some success as tribes felt heard when the Biden administration restored the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and when the U.S. Department of Agriculture pulled back an environmental impact statement that paved the way for an Arizona copper mining operation to consult further with tribes.

But frustrations persist among tribal leaders who say their conversations with the federal government have not resulted in action on the ground.

For the Ute Indian Tribe in Utah, those frustrations lie in management of the Colorado River basin as western states grapple with less water amid a megadrought and climate change. Tribes were not included in a century-old compact that divvied up the water, and the Ute tribe says it's seeing the same exclusion now.

The tribe's Business Committee has spent hours in meetings and preparing formal comments and says it's tired of having to reiterate its position that the federal government must protect the tribe's water rights or support development of water infrastructure to serve the reservation.

Committee Chairman Shaun Chapoose said he's seen proposals, but ``actual where-the-rubber-meets-the-road stuff hasn't occurred yet, and the drought gets worse.''

There are similar sentiments among Navajo Nation lawmakers who are concerned about Haaland's plans to make oil and gas development off-limits on federal land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico.

Advocacy groups sent a letter to Haaland on Thursday, saying more needs to be done to include tribes as her department charts a path forward for protecting culturally significant areas in northwestern New Mexico.

The Interior Department said more meetings with the Navajo Nation and other tribes are planned in April and that Navajo-language translators will be present.

In Nevada, several tribes and the National Congress of American Indians have asked the Interior Department and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to uphold a duty to engage in ``robust and adequate'' tribal consultation regarding plans for a massive lithium mine at Thacker Pass. So far, the tribes say that hasn't happened.

Under the U.S. Constitution, treaties and statutes, the federal government must consult meaningfully and in good faith with Native American and Alaska Native tribes when making decisions or taking action that is expected to impact them.

However, a 2019 report from a government watchdog found some federal agencies lacked respect for tribal sovereignty, didn't have enough resources for consultation or couldn't always reach tribes.

Another top complaint from tribes is that they are brought in when a course of action already has been set, instead of including them in the earliest phases of planning.

``The federal government says all the right words, but their mentality is one in which they are not really doing this in a way that reflects the proper government-to-government relationship that I think tribes are orienting to when they enter into these conversations,'' said Justin Richland, a professor at the University of California-Irvine School of Social Sciences who specializes in Native American law and politics.

Consultation doesn't always lead to action or create any substantive rights on the part of the tribes, making it somewhat of a ``toothless tiger,'' said Dylan Hedden-Nicely, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation who directs the Native American Law Program at the University of Idaho.

He said it's reasonable, although incorrect, to think things would move quickly with Haaland _ a member of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico _ because she had a base of knowledge about Indian Country when she took the office. But the groundwork is still being laid to effectuate real change, Hedden-Nicely said.

``It's not immediate, but it's going to be worth the wait, I'm hoping,`` he said.

During Haaland's confirmation hearings, Interior staff consulted with tribes on how to improve the process.

``Secretary Haaland and the entire department take our commitment to strengthening tribal sovereignty and self-governance seriously, and we have affirmed that robust consultations are the cornerstones of federal Indian policy,'' department spokesman Tyler Cherry said in a statement to The Associated Press.

President Joe Biden issued a memo during his first month in office, reaffirming previous executive orders on tribal consultation and directing federal agencies to spell out how they'll comply. That set in motion Haaland's efforts to give tribal leaders a direct line of communication to the Interior Department.

A congressional committee is scheduled next week to consider a bill by Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona that would codify a framework for tribal consultation that supporters say would insulate the process from changes in administration.

The legislation faces an uphill battle, and some tribes want to ensure that it includes a pathway not only for the federal government to initiate consultation, but for tribal leaders to start conversations, too. Similar legislation introduced in the past has failed.

For Amber Torres, chair of the Walker River Paiute Tribe in Nevada, consultation should be more than a generic letter or email.

``I want true, meaningful, face-to-face dialogue with a timeline, intent and follow-up and next steps agreed by both parties,'' she said. ``Making the tribal consultation process a law is long overdue, and it would be a step in the right direction to ensure tribal nation sovereignty is protected.''


Fonseca reported from Flagstaff, Arizona.

Virginia's Patawomeck Tribe Seeks Federal Recognition

By JAMES BARON, The Free Lance-Star

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) _ Ancestors of a local Native American tribe hope Congress will help them achieve federal recognition.

``Our native ancestors were the first people here,'' Patawomeck Chief Charles ``Bootsie'' Bullock said. ``It's time to be recognized, just as the other ones are today.''

The Bureau of Indian Affairs lists 574 federally recognized Native American tribes scattered across the U.S. Seven of them are located in Virginia, including two Chickahominy tribes, along with the Monacan, Nansemond, Pamunkey, Rappahannock and Upper Mattaponi tribes.

The Patawomeck tribe, which first settled in Stafford County near present-day Marlborough Point in the early 1300s, has more than 2,600 descendants and is one of 11 state-recognized tribes. Local tribal members say 70 percent of them reside in southern Stafford's White Oak area.

Bullock said federal status could open up opportunities for tribal members to receive education, housing and medical benefits, while Chief Emeritus John Lightner said the Patawomeck tribe would finally achieve its sovereignty.

``It gives the tribe the right to self-government without interference from the state (government),'' Lightner said. ``(It) was actually guaranteed to the tribe by the English in treaties.''

Minnie Lightner, the Patawomeck tribe's administrative assistant, said although it took the Pamunkey tribe 33 years to gain federal status by a combination of legislative and administrative efforts through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, it took about half the time for the other Virginia tribes to gain the same federal status working through Congress.

``My feeling is, those other six tribes have already gone the congressional route. It should be easier and quicker for us because they've already gone through the process,'' Lightner said.

Fredericksburg-area Rep. Rob Wittman, who is assisting the Patawomeck along the long legislative path, said although going through the BIA is tedious, time-consuming and demanding, the route through Congress isn't a cakewalk, either.

``It's tremendously difficult to do this legislatively because the bill has to, from the very beginning, make it through committee and it has to have support from folks on both sides of the aisle,'' Wittman said. ``That's the challenge to be able to do this.''

Wittman said that, like the Patawomeck, the now federally recognized Pamunkey tribe also attempted the congressional route, but ultimately filed its application through the BIA channel.

``All six tribes went through that process that took that number of years, but there was not an active application by the Pamunkey tribe before the BIA for that full 33 years,'' Wittman said. ``Some of that 33 years was taken up waiting for legislation to get passed.''

Bullock said the Patawomeck may eventually consider applying for federal status through the BIA, which requires tribes to prove they have had no breaks in tribal existence.

``Perhaps that option may come,'' Bullock said. ``The last six tribes that went in, four of them could not go through the BIA, but we've got documentation showing that yes, we existed back in the 1600s or even further.''

Another roadblock that hinders Virginia tribes from gaining federal recognition is the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which served to classify all Virginia residents into either white or colored categories. The act not only classified all Native Americans as colored, but vital tribal records were seized by the government and destroyed. Bullock said those records are essential to satisfy the BIA's tribal continuity requirement.

The act, which was ultimately invalidated in 1967 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case involving the interracial marriage between Caroline County couple Richard and Mildred Loving, was drafted by physician and public health advocate Walter Plecker, who served as the first registrar of Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics from 1912 to 1946.

``Other than the two native tribes that had reservations_the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi_(Plecker) singlehandedly just about eradicated Native Americans in the state of Virginia,'' said Bullock. ``It was tough, and it's tough now.''

Bullock said Plecker visited Stafford County during his tenure in office after receiving a tip about a large Indian community concentrated near White Oak. Bullock said fortunately that night, White Oak residents were warned in advance of Plecker's approach.

``The White Oak area has always been a Native American community,'' Bullock said. ``Plecker had made that gap virtually impossible for us to maintain at a consistent basis.''

In August 2019, Stafford County officials turned over the 17-acre Little Falls Farm at 638 Kings Highway to the Patawomeck tribe under a 10-year, $1-per-year lease agreement for use as the tribe's museum and cultural center. The farm was originally donated to Stafford by Fredericksburg businessman Duff McDuff Green Jr., along with the adjacent park that bears his name.

As a federal tribe, the Patawomeck would be able to gain access to artifacts from a five-year archaeological exploration that took place at the tribe's original town site at Marlborough Point from 1935 to 1940.

That dig, conducted by Judge William J. Graham and T. Dale Stewart of what is now the Smithsonian Institute, netted tens of thousands of Patawomeck artifacts, including skeletal remains, pottery, jewelry, tools and hunting weapons. Many of those items still under the care of the Smithsonian could one day be released to the tribe for display at its Little Falls Farm cultural center.

DHS’ Native American Tracking Unit in Arizona Could Be Expanding

Arizona Republic

PHOENIX (AP) _ The Shadow Wolves unit, Homeland Security's only Native American specialized tracking team, is ready for a change after nearly 50 years of patrolling the Arizona desert.

Bills that seek to strengthen and expand the Shadow Wolves' authority were approved unanimously by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security in the past month.

If the bills move forward, they will allow Homeland Security to reclassify the Shadow Wolves from tactical enforcement officers to special agents and expand the program to other tribal jurisdictions.

Since 1974, the elite unit has tracked smugglers across the 2.8 million acres of the Tohono O'odham Nation in southern Arizona and the 76-mile stretch of land bordering Mexico.

The unit is world-renowned for its skill for ``cutting sign,'' or reading physical evidence in the landscape: spotting a weft in the desert thicket, the edges of a mark in the sand, or the inside color of a broken twig.

As part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement task forces in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Shadow Wolves are a key component in interdiction and investigative efforts that lead to arrests and seizure of illegal drugs and guns.

They took part in an investigation that led to the capture and conviction of 18 members of the Sinaloa Cartel near the Tohono O'odham Nation in 2019.

As of this year, the unit is composed of nine members from tribes including the Tohono O'odham, Blackfeet, Sioux and Navajo.

If the Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act moves forward through the House and Senate, it will further a strategy to retain and recruit agents in the Tohono O'odham Nation and expand the program to other tribal nations near the U.S. international borders in the north and south.

The reclassification to special agents would mean current and future Shadow Wolves would go through a criminal investigator training program and special agent training.

The upgrade also would help counter technology advances used by criminal organizations and improve collaboration in multijurisdictional investigations. It would provide new tools to agents while preserving the legacy of the unit.

The bill was first introduced in March 2020 and backed unanimously by the Tohono O'odham Legislative Council the same month. Then it was reintroduced in July, adding the expansion of the program to other tribal jurisdictions.

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who sits on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, is a primary sponsor of the bill.

``Reclassifying Shadow Wolves as special agents entrusts them with more authority to investigate illegal border crossings, patrol the border, and keep Arizona families safe and secure,'' Sinema said.

The Tohono O'odham have lived in the Sonoran Desert for millennia. In the mid-19th century, when international boundaries were redrawn with the Gadsden Purchase, their land and people were split.

Border enforcement transformed life for tribal members in Arizona, limiting their own cross-border movement to conduct ceremonies or visit relatives south of the international border, and eventually placing them in the midst of the fight against drug trafficking and irregular migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Tohono O'odham Nation spends about $3 million in tribal revenue on border security operations, according to 2019 testimony given to Congress by the tribe's former chairman. The tribe also investigates and funds autopsies for the deaths of dozens of migrants who perish trying to cross the reservation undetected.

The seed for the Shadow Wolves was sown in 1974 when the Tohono O'odham Nation allowed the now-dissolved U.S. Custom Services to build an office in Sells. The agency, in turn, hired 25 tribal members as patrol officers. About 10 years later, the unit gained its unique name.

Verlon Jose, governor of the Traditional Tohono O'odham Leadersof Mexicoand former vice chairman of the Nation, said Shadow Wolves are ``protectors'' and ``warriors'' with a unique personal commitment in what they do.

The men and women who commit to track smugglers and stop the flow of drugs have a vested interest in their community, he said.

In the late 1960s, Mexico was the major source of heroin in the U.S., and by the 1970s Mexican-based traffickers controlled three-fourths of the market. The Nation was seeing large amounts of drugs moving through the community.

``It was truly about protecting the people,'' Jose said, pointing out that the international border placed them at the forefront of the trafficking route. ``We're on the front lines before anybody else. But in a sense, that is the front line of America.''

Although the efforts to expand the program are seen as a way to facilitate collaboration between federal agencies and tribes, the nature of border enforcement in sovereign Native American territory remains complex.

When the Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the reorganization placed Shadow Wolves under the U.S. Border Patrol.

The federal government failed to consult the Tohono O'odham Nation on such reorganization, violating federal agreements.

Eventually, the unit was reassigned under ICE's Homeland Security Investigations in 2006. By then, the Shadow Wolves program had lost several experienced trackers who stated that Border Patrol's chain of command limited their patrolling grounds and investigative operations.

The number of officers has shrunk from 25 to nine in recent years.

Jose said greater support for the Shadow Wolves program had been delayed because of bureaucracy and the failure of lawmakers to talk to the people on the ground.

Even as the bill aims to expand the Shadow Wolves program to other tribal lands intersecting with U.S. international borders, the tribes themselves have collaborated for years.

Leaders from the Tohono O'odham and Blackfeet nations _ the Blackfeet jurisdiction has about 50 miles bordering Canada _ have worked together and made visits to learn from each other, Jose said.

But the long-standing presence of Border Patrol agents, internal checkpoints and surveillance equipment on tribal land have created an environment of tension.

The Tohono O'odham Nation cooperates with Homeland Security's operations but opposed then-President Donald Trump's border wall project, as it would further divide O'odham communities and have profound ecological consequences.

With $16 billion from U.S. taxpayers and diverted military funds, the former administration completed 452 miles of the border wall although the 76-mile swath of land between the Nation and Mexico has only a waist-high vehicle barrier.

Cannabis Bust on Indigenous Land Highlights Legal Divide

Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ A federal raid on a household marijuana garden on tribal land in northern New Mexico is sowing uncertainty and resentment about U.S. drug enforcement priorities on Native American reservations, as more states roll out legal marketplaces for recreational pot sales.

In late September, Bureau of Indian Affairs officers confiscated nine cannabis plants from a home garden at Picuris Pueblo that was tended by Charles Farden, a local resident since childhood who is not Native American. The 54-year-old is enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program to ease post-traumatic stress and anxiety.

Farden said he was startled to be placed in handcuffs as federal officers seized mature plants laden with buds _ an estimated yearlong personal supply.

New Mexico first approved the drug's medical use in 2007, while Picuris Pueblo decriminalized medical pot for members in 2015. A new state law in June broadly legalized marijuana for adults and authorized up to a dozen home-grown plants per household for personal use _ with no weight limit.

``I was just open with the officer, straightforward. When he asked what I was growing, I said, 'My vegetables, my medical cannabis,' '' Farden said of the Sept. 29 encounter. ``And he was like, `That can be a problem.' ''

The raid has cast a shadow over cannabis as an economic development opportunity for Indigenous communities, as tribal governments at Picuris Pueblo and at least one other reservation pursue agreements with New Mexico that would allow them to open marijuana businesses. The state is home to 23 federally recognized Native American communities. It's aiming to launch retail pot sales by April.

More than two-thirds of states have legalized marijuana in some form, including four that approved recreational pot in the 2020 election and four more by legislation this year. The U.S. government has avoided cracking down on them, even though the drug remains illegal under federal law to possess, use or sell.

The September raid has some scrutinizing its approach on tribal lands like Picuris Pueblo, where the Bureau of Indian Affairs provides policing to enforce federal and tribal laws in an arrangement common in Indian Country. Other tribes operate their own police forces under contract with the BIA.

In a recent letter to Picuris Pueblo tribal Gov. Craig Quanchello obtained by The Associated Press, a BIA special agent in charge said the agency won't tell its officers to stand down in Indian Country _ and that marijuana possession and growing remains a federal crime, despite changes in state and tribal law.

``Prior notification of law enforcement operations is generally not appropriate,'' the letter states. ``The BIA Office of Justice Services is obligated to enforce federal law and does not instruct its officers to disregard violations of federal law in Indian Country.''

Officials with the BIA and its parent agency, the Interior Department, declined to comment and did not respond to the AP's requests for details of the raid and its implications. Farden has not been charged and does not know if there will be further consequences.

President Joe Biden this week ordered several Cabinet departments to work together to combat human trafficking and crime on Native American lands, where violent crime rates are more than double the national average.

He did not specifically address marijuana, though he has said he supports decriminalizing the drug and expunging past pot use convictions. He has not embraced federally legalizing marijuana.

Portland-based criminal defense attorney Leland Berger, who last year advised the Oglala Sioux Tribe after it passed a cannabis ordinance, notes that Justice Department priorities for marijuana in Indian Country were outlined in writing under President Barack Obama then overturned under President Donald Trump, with little written public guidance since.

``It's remarkable for me to hear that the BIA is enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act on tribal land where the tribe has enacted an ordinance that protects the activity,'' he said.

Across the U.S., tribal enterprises have taken a variety of approaches as they straddle state and federal law and jurisdictional issues to gain a foothold in the cannabis industry.

In Washington, the Suquamish Tribe forged a pioneering role under a 2015 compact with the state to open a retail marijuana outlet across Puget Sound from Seattle on the Port Madison reservation. It sells cannabis from dozens of independent producers.

Several Nevada tribes operate their own enforcement division to help ensure compliance with state- and tribal-authorized marijuana programs, including a registry for home-grown medical marijuana. Taxes collected at tribal dispensaries stay with tribes and go toward community improvement programs.

In South Dakota, the Oglala Sioux in early 2020 became the only tribe to set up a cannabis market without similar state regulations, endorsing medical and recreational use in a referendum at the Pine Ridge Reservation. Months later, a statewide vote legalized marijuana in South Dakota, with a challenge from Republican Gov. Kristi Noem's administration now pending at the state Supreme Court.

The U.S. government recognizes an ``inherent and inalienable`` right to self-governance by Native American tribes. But federal law enforcement agencies still selectively intervene to enforce cannabis prohibition, Berger said.

``The tribes are sovereign nations, and they have treaties with the United States, and in some cases there is concurrent jurisdiction. ... It's sort of this hybrid,'' he said.

In late 2020, a combination of state, federal and tribal law enforcement cooperated in a raid on sprawling marijuana farms with makeshift greenhouses in northwestern New Mexico with the consent of the Navajo Nation president. Authorities seized more than 200,000 plants. At the time, New Mexico limited marijuana cultivation to 1,750 plants per licensed medical cannabis producer.

At Picuris Pueblo, Quanchello said the cannabis industry holds economic promise for tribal lands that are too remote to support a full-blown casino. Picuris operates a smoke shop out of a roadside trailer and is close to opening a gas station with a sandwich shop and mini-grocery.

``We're farmers by nature. It's something we can do here and be good at it,'' Quanchello said. ``We don't want to miss it.''

He described the BIA raid as an affront to Picuris Pueblo, with echoes of federal enforcement in 2018 that uprooted about 35 cannabis plants grown by the tribe in a foray into medical marijuana.

State lawmakers in 2019 adopted uniform regulations for medical marijuana on tribal and nontribal land.

In legalizing recreational marijuana this year, New Mexico's Democratic-led Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham emphasized the need to create jobs, shore up state revenue and address concerns about harm inflicted on racial and ethnic minorities by drug criminalization.

Judith Dworkin, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based attorney specializing in Native American law, said tribal cannabis enterprises confront less risk of interference from federal law enforcement where states have robust legal markets for pot.

``It's a lot easier for a tribe to take a position that they want to do something similar'' to the state, she said. ``It's still a risk.''

Quanchello said he sees federal enforcement of cannabis laws at Picuris Pueblo as unpredictable and discriminatory.

``We as a tribe can end up investing a million dollars into a project, thinking it's OK. And because of a rogue officer or somebody that doesn't believe something is right, it could be stopped,'' he said.

Project Aims to Preserve an Arizona Tribe's Cultural History

Mohave Valley Daily News

MOHAVE VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) _ Hidden away in Christmas Tree Pass near the Arizona-Nevada border, more than 700 petroglyphs can be found at Grapevine Canyon.

The petroglyphs, which were carved into the canyon rocks sometime between 1100 and 1900 AD, are a reminder that the history of the Colorado River extends long before Davis Dam made its mark on the landscape.

The Pipa Aha Macav, or ``The People By the River,'' once occupied lands stretching from Utah to Mexico, and east to west from modern-day Santa Barbara to Prescott.

Now known as the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, the group's land was reduced by settlers and now stretches from Mojave City to Topock, and straddles the Nevada, California and Arizona borders.

Fort Mojave was established as a United States military outpost in 1859 to give safe passage to American immigrants.

Ruins of Fort Mojave still exist on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River, just south of the boundary of present-day Bullhead City.

The reservation follows alongside the Colorado River, as the Fort Mojave tribe holds the river sacred to its traditions.

``The whole world was formed here, according to our creation story,'' said Nora McDowell, former chairwoman of the Fort Mohave Indian Tribe.

McDowell is the manager of the Topock Remediation Project, which is cleaning chromium contamination in the groundwater near Topock Maze.

The Topock Maze is a more than 600-year-old geoglyph that is spiritually important to the Mojave, as it is a place where spirits transition to their next life.

Also sacred to the Mojave are the Avi Kwa Ame and Avi Vas Qui (Boundary Cone).

According to tribal tradition, the world was created at just below modern day Hoover Dam, at Avi Kwa Ame, the highest point in the Newberry Mountains.

Today, the peak is known as Spirit Mountain.

Many Bullhead City and Mohave Valley locals likely see the words ``Avi'' and ``Spirit Mountain'' every day without realizing their significance, as two tribal casinos in the area share the names.

The tribe is working to establish the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, which will protect 380,000 acres of public land in southern Nevada if the proposal is granted.

Nine other tribes _ Hualapai, Yavapai, Havasupai, Quechan, Maricopa, Pai Pai, Halchidhoma, Cocopah and Kumeyaay _ also hold the area sacred.

``This is our home, and there are a lot of cultural resources we have to look after, even if we no longer own the land,'' McDowell said.

On Oct. 11, President Joe Biden officially recognized Indigenous Peoples' Day to celebrate and honor Native American peoples. It is celebrated on the second Monday of October, falling on the same calendar day as Columbus Day.

University of Southern California to Name Building for Tribal Historian Joe Medicine Crow

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A University of Southern California building that had been named for a former president who was a eugenicist will be renamed for the late Joseph Medicine Crow, a USC graduate who became the tribal historian for the Apsaalooke (Crow) Nation and published influential works on Native American history and culture.

The Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs will be dedicated in a ceremony in spring 2022. USC President Carol L. Folt also announced Thursday a scholarship program for Native American students in his name.

``This building serves as a crossroads for different cultures and communities from around the world, and it is a gathering place for our students,'' Folt said. ``We wanted to rename it for an individual who embodies the qualities we strive for at USC, and when we asked the university community to nominate people for this honor, the selection of this beloved and inspiring figure -- one of our most cherished alumni -- became clear.''

The landmark building, which has a distinctive tower topped by a globe, was previously named for Rufus von KleinSmid, who was USC's president from 1921 to 1947. His name was stripped last year because of his support for California's eugenics movement, which led to a 1909 state law that forced sterilization of people deemed ``unfit.''

Medicine Crow, who died at age 102 in 2016, was raised by his grandparents in a log home on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana, hearing stories during his childhood from direct participants in the Battle of Little Bighorn.

A member of the Whistling Water clan, his grandfather trained him to be a warrior.

He received an associate degree from Bacone College in Oklahoma, where he pitched on the baseball team, and then pursued as degree in sociology and psychology at Linfield College in Oregon.

Medicine Crow came to USC on scholarship in 1938 and earned a master's degree in anthropology in 1939. His thesis was titled, ``The Effects of European Culture Contacts Upon The Economic, Social and Religious Life of the Crow Indians.'' His pursuit of a doctorate at USC was interrupted by World War II.

Serving in the U.S. Army, Medicine Crow completed the deeds necessary to earn the title of war chief, including stealing horses from an enemy encampment and engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a German soldier whose life Medicine Crow ultimately spared.

Upon his return from the war, Medicine Crow was designated tribal historian by the Crow Tribal Council, a position he filled for decades _ all the while cataloging his people's nomadic history by collecting firsthand accounts of pre-reservation life from fellow tribal members.

Medicine Crow received four honorary doctorates during his life and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

New Translation of New Testament Aims at Native Americans

Religion News Service

(RNS)  It's a Bible verse familiar to many Christians _ and even to many non-Christians who have seen John 3:16 on billboards and T-shirts or scrawled across eye black under football players' helmets.

But Terry Wildman hopes the new translation published Tuesday (Aug. 31) by InterVarsity Press, ``First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament,'' will help Christians and Indigenous peoples read it again in a fresh way.

``The Great Spirit loves this world of human beings so deeply he gave us his Son _ the only Son who fully represents him. All who trust in him and his way will not come to a bad end, but will have the life of the world to come that never fades away, full of beauty and harmony,'' reads the First Nations Version of the verse.

This content is written and produced by Religion News Service and distributed by The Associated Press. RNS and AP partner on some religion news content. RNS is solely responsible for this story.

In the First Nations Version, ``eternal life,'' a concept unfamiliar in Native American cultures, becomes ``the life of the world to come that never fades away, full of beauty and harmony.'' The Greek word ``cosmos,'' usually translated in English as ``the world,'' had to be reconsidered, too: It doesn't mean the planet Earth but how the world works and how creation lives and functions together, said Wildman, the lead translator and project manager of the First Nations Version.

They're phrases that resonated with Wildman, changing the way he read the Bible even as he translated it for Native American readers.

``We believe it's a gift not only to our Native people, (but) from our Native people to the dominant culture. We believe that there's a fresh way that people can experience the story again from a Native perspective,'' he said.

The idea for an Indigenous Bible translation first came to Wildman nearly 20 years ago in the storeroom of the church he pastored on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona.

Wildman, who is Ojibwe and Yaqui, was excited to find a Hopi translation of the New Testament in storage. He wanted to hear how that beloved Scripture sounded in Hopi, how it translated back into English.

But, he said, while many Hopi elders still speak their native language and children now are learning it in schools, he couldn't find anyone able to read it. That is true for many Native American nations, he added, noting that at the same time Christian missionaries were translating the Bible into Native languages, they were also working with the boarding schools in the United States and Canada that punished students for speaking those languages.

It occurred to the pastor that ``since 90-plus percent of our Native people are not speaking their tribal language or reading their tribal language, we felt there needed to be a translation in English worded for Native people,'' he said.

Wildman, a licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church, has been working on translating the Bible into words and concepts familiar to many Native Americans ever since.

He first began experimenting by rewording Scripture passages he was using in a prison ministry, giving them more of a ``Native traditional sound,'' he said _ a sound he'd learned by being around Native elders and reading books written in a more traditional style of English by Native Americans like Oglala Lakota spiritual leader Black Elk.

He and his wife, Darlene, who have a music ministry called RainSong, also recorded readings of those passages over music in an album called ``The Great Story from the Sacred Book.'' It won a Native American Music Award in 2008 for best spoken-word album.

Wildman was encouraged by the reactions he received as he shared his rewordings across the country at tribal centers, Native American-led churches and powwows.

``They just loved listening to it because it didn't have the church language. It didn't have the colonial language. It had more of a Native feel to it _ as much as possible that you can put in English,'' he said.

Many Native people asked what Bible he was reading from.

Young people have told him it sounds like one of their elders telling them a story. Elders have said it resonates with how they heard traditional stories from their parents and grandparents.

As others encouraged him to turn his rewordings into a full translation of the Bible, Wildman published a children's book retelling the Christmas story, ``Birth of the Chosen One,'' and a harmonization of the four Gospels called ``When the Great Spirit Walked among Us.''

Then, on April Fool's Day 2015, he heard from the CEO of OneBook Canada, who suggested the Bible translation organization fund his work. The offer wasn't a prank, he said, it was ``confirmation from Creator that this was something he wanted.''

``Everybody hears English a little differently,'' Wildman said.

``We have all of these translations for that purpose to reach another generation, to reach a particular people group. But we had never had one for our Native people that has actually been translated into English.''

Wildman began by forming a translation council to guide the process, gathering men and women, young and old, from different Native cultures and church backgrounds. They started with a list of nearly 200 keywords Wycliffe Bible Translators said must be translated properly to get a good translation of Scripture.

With that foundation, Wildman got to work, sending drafts to the council for feedback. He looked up the original Greek text of the New Testament. He checked to see how other English translations rendered tricky passages. He consulted Dave Ohlson, a former Wycliffe translator who helped found OneBook Canada, part of the Wycliffe Global Alliance.

The Indigenous translation uses names for God common in many Native cultures, including ``Great Spirit'' or ``Creator.'' Names of biblical figures echo their original meanings in Greek and Hebrew: Jesus becomes ``Creator Sets Free'' and Abraham, ``Father of Many Nations.''

``We believe it's very important that the Gospel be kind of decolonized and told in a Native way, but being accurate to the meaning of the original language and understanding that it's a different culture,'' Wildman said.

Over the years, he and his council have published editions of the Gospel of Luke and Ephesians and a book called ``Walking the Good Road'' that included the four Gospels alongside Acts and Ephesians.

A number of ministries already have started using those translations, including Foursquare Native Ministries, Lutheran Indian Ministries, Montana Indian Ministries, Cru Nations and Native InterVarsity, he said.

Native InterVarsity, where Wildman serves as director of spiritual growth and leadership, has distributed earlier editions of the First Nations Version at conferences and used the Indigenous translation in its Bible studies for Native college students for several years.

Megan Murdock Krischke, national director of Native InterVarsity, said students have been more engaged with the translation, hearing the Bible in a way they're used to stories being told.

``Even though it's still English, it feels like it's made by us for us. This is a version of Scripture that is for Native people, and it's indigenized. You're not having to kind of sort through the ways other cultures talk about faith and spirituality,'' said Krischke, who is Wyandotte and Cherokee.

``It's one less barrier between Native people and being able to follow Jesus.''

Earlier this month, The Jesus Film Project also released a collection of short animated films called ``Retelling the Good Story,'' bringing to life the stories of Jesus, or Creator Sets Free, feeding the 5,000 and walking on water from the First Nations Version.

Wildman said the response from Native peoples and ministries to the First Nations Version has exceeded any expectations he had when he first began rewording Bible passages.

He hopes it can help break down barriers between Native and non-Native peoples, too. He pointed out the suspicion and misinformation many white Christians have passed down for generations, believing Native Americans worship the devil and their cultures are evil when they share a belief in a Creator, he said.

``We hope that this will help non-Native people be more interested in our Native people _ maybe the history, understanding the need for further reconciliation and things like that,'' Wildman said.

``We hope that this will be part of creating a conversation that will help that process.''

Blackfeet Continue Work to Defend Badger-Two Medicine

Associated Press

Heart Butte, Mont. (AP) _ The fight to protect the Badger-Two Medicine defends not so much a place as a way of living.

On a map, this jumble of mountains, rivers, hunting grounds and petroleum deposits is surrounded by the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

In legal briefings and management plans, the Badger-Two Medicine represents federal leases illegally proffered, potential national monuments and recreation areas where four-wheelers and non-motorized users duel for dominance.

In the memories of brothers Terry and Keith Tatsey, the landscape made them who they are. It educated them, matured them, and showed them where they fit in their Blackfeet tribal family, the Missoulian reported.

At the foot of the blocky concrete dam impounding the North Fork of Birch Creek, the Tatsey brothers spent a smoky July week reminding their friends and relations why the place matters. By the light of a battery-powered lantern (wildfire risk prohibited campfires), they swapped stories of hunting mishaps, and swimming in frozen lakes, and finding herds of elk on mountaintop meadows.

They led horse rides around Swift Reservoir with children who'd never been on horseback. They invited traditional dancers to share steps and rhythms of dances rarely seen at powwows. They sat in lines for stick games, teaching the uninitiated the subtleties of gambling on which hand held the hidden bit of wood.

``We want to make sure when future generations come here, that they follow our traditions,'' Terry Tatsey said, gesturing toward Swift Dam and the wild country beyond. ``They should stop here and ride horses or walk in. That's the only way to access the mountains. When you bring other things in, the spirits move out. They provide us with the guidance we need. We hope they stay.''

The Tatsey brothers' grandfather was Francis ``Big Man'' Bullshoe, a descendant of the Chief Bullshoe who negotiated with George Bird Grinnell over a strip of the former Blackfeet Reservation that later became the eastern half of Glacier National Park.

The Blackfeet refer to it as the ``Ceded Strip,'' and recall the deal as a 50-year lease rather than a permanent sale. While it didn't become part of Glacier, the Badger-Two Medicine region did get carved off the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Fight over drilling

In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan's Interior Secretary James Watt opened much of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and surrounding public lands to energy exploration. The federal government sold 47 leases to prospectors planning to drill for oil and natural gas in the Badger-Two Medicine.

Blackfeet Tribal Preservation Officer John Murray remembered the Tatsey brothers introducing him to the Badger-Two Medicine when they were all in grade school, and how the place had an immediate effect on him. But explaining that effect has remained culturally difficult.

``When Watt opened the Badger-Two Medicine to leases, the (Lewis and Clark National) Forest Supervisor, Dale Gorman, arranged to meet with the elders at Blackfeet Community College,'' Murray said. ``He tried to do his best. He asked the elders: `Tell me where the sacred sites are, and we'll put protections there and throw the rest open to oil and gas development.' That's where the impasse occurred. That's not the way we interpret the land.''

One of those lessees was Sydney Longwell and his New Orleans-based Solenex LLC. In 1982, he laid claim to 6,247 acres along Hall Creek, southwest of East Glacier, paying $1 an acre. He renewed his permits four times but never got around to developing them.

The Blackfeet weren't consulted on the lease sales, and mounted legal challenges. In 1993, President Bill Clinton's Interior Department suspended lease activity there. Those suspensions were also extended four times.

Meanwhile, the Lewis and Clark National Forest, which oversees the Badger-Two Medicine region, proposed a travel management plan envisioning lots of motorized recreation there. That also drew concern from the Blackfeet, who pushed for archaeological inventories of their cultural heritage in the area to oppose increased vehicle use.

Longwell and Solenex renewed their effort to explore for energy in 2013 and tried to get the suspensions lifted. That triggered the latest court battle, during which the Blackfeet convinced the National Historic Preservation Board to declare the Badger-Two Medicine a Traditional Cultural District. In 2016, President Barack Obama's Interior Department canceled the leases.

Unlike other leaseholders, Solenex refused to accept a buyout offer on its claim and continued the legal fight. A federal appeals court upheld the lease cancellations in 2020, but allowed Solenex's lawyers to offer some different arguments.

Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, who represents a coalition of conservation groups fighting the leases, said a federal judge must now decide if those arguments have been made too late.

Cultural heritage

In an unforeseen twist, President Donald Trump's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke proposed making the Badger-Two Medicine into a National Monument at the same time he was ordering reductions of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in 2017.

``I think there's a really great opportunity for the Badger-Two Medicine as the number of crowds and visitors continue to break records in Glacier (National Park),'' Zinke said at the time. ``Here's a virtually untapped area and a chance to do it right. There's the possibility of revenue from tourism and an untapped culture. I think it's deserving of monument status.''

Zinke resigned his Interior post in 2019 after numerous ethics investigations into his travel practices and official actions. He is now running for Montana's soon-to-be-created second congressional district as a Republican.

Then last year, Sen. Jon Tester introduced a bill to make a Badger-Two Medicine cultural heritage area. It would have designated 127,000 acres slightly differently than the Bob Marshall Wilderness or the Lewis and Clark National Forest, with allowances for livestock grazing and existing structures but prohibitions on commercial timber harvest, wheeled travel and new construction.

That bill has not been reintroduced in the latest congressional session. A Tester spokesman said the senator is waiting for the results of discussions between the Blackfeet and Forest Service on some management options before proceeding.

Many Blackfeet think the Badger-Two Medicine should be reattached to the reservation. Tarissa Spoonhunter teaches American Indian studies at Central Wyoming College and argues the history of the treaty negotiations indicates the Tribe never intended to sell the land.

``Look at the names on the map _ Bullshoe, Running Owl _ they're all tied to families who used the Badger-Two Medicine,'' Spoonhunter said. ``How do we restate that this is our land? It's in those names.''

In her telling, the landscape itself tried to have a say.

``We took the Forest Service in on horseback,'' Spoonhunter said. ``As we were going up we saw an eagle flying above. When we got on top of the ridge, there was a cow elk watching us. And looking down, there was a beaver dam below as we made our way to the proposal site.

``We use the eagle in all of our ceremonies,'' Spoonhunter said. ``The elk is in our food ceremonies. And the beaver is the central bundle (of sacred items for spiritual leaders). We asked the Forest Service to include the animals and plants in the cultural district, but they said no.''

Terry Tatsey was a natural resource studies professor at Blackfeet Community College in Browning when he started taking young people camping in the Badger-Two Medicine in the 1990s. His goal was to teach traditional skills surrounded by a place redolent with Blackfeet presence _ the Tribe's creation stories emanate from the Badger-Two Medicine.

He kept the camp running until 1999, when it became too much effort to sustain. The gathering this July was the first time he'd reestablished the practice in 21 years. About 60 people came to the public campground at the foot of Swift Dam, ranging from elders in wheelchairs to toddlers on mother's laps.

``I'm hoping that us doing more things like this will get more of us out here,'' said Leah Whitford, a former state senator from Browning and camp organizer. ``It's so important. Without others giving me that foundation, I wouldn't be out here.''

Season's bounty

Keith Tatsey was 9 years old when he changed from ``being a nuisance to being a resource'' _ mature enough to join his elders at hunting camp in the Badger-Two Medicine. He got to make the seven-hour horse ride up Birch Creek and over the Continental Divide to the fall elk hunt.

Terry Tatsey remembered how the older hunters were ``strict to the point of being mean,'' as they brought up the youngsters in the traditions of hard work and safety. Those too young to carry a rifle had to carry water, cut wood and tend the horses.

In Keith's telling, elk and deer were willing to provide their meat to worthy people. But they would test each hunter. Elders advised him never to take more than four shots _ a deer spirit would taunt an immature hunter into wasting his ammunition on the first day, dooming him to camp drudgery.

``It was about maintaining relationships,'' Terry Tatsey said. ``We'd go from noise-makers to worker bees and now teachers. They knew we'd eventually be responsible.''

The hunters would spend four to six weeks in the mountains hunting game, gathering berries and processing everything for winter use. They'd trim the meat off the skeletons of elk and deer, then smoke and dry it to reduce the weight.

``We hauled everything back on horses,'' Terry Tatsey said. ``When it's fresh, you can maybe get the meat of one or one and a half elk on a horse. When it's cured, you can get two elk and your personal belongings on the horse.''

The camp would move regularly so its horses didn't overgraze all the meadows. By the third or fourth week, the hunters would be almost back to the edge of the Rocky Mountain Front.

On the last week, the hunters would go after fresh kills to provision a feast. The families and those too old to ride to camp would meet them in the foothills and celebrate the camp's success with a distribution of the season's bounty.

``This place has had thousands of years of use,'' Keith Tatsey said. ``That doesn't fit into a 10-year or 25-year management plan. It's really hard for the Forest Service and National Park Service to understand our connection to that landscape, that ecosystem.''

Relating to the land

Jesse DeRosier teaches the Blackfoot language at the Cuts Wood School in Browning. Understanding how Blackfoot differs from English helps explain how the Blackfeet people relate to the Badger-Two Medicine, he said.

``In a noun-based language like English, things like time, ownership, gender and relationships are completely different from a verb-based language like Blackfoot,'' DeRosier said. ``In English, nothing is animate. Nothing has its own life except the speaker.

``In a verb-based language, everything is animate, so there's no need for ownership. Everything has its own respect and life _ the environment, the water, rocks, trees, stars. It changes the concept of time. When time is linear, you can own anything. When time is ever-moving and evolving, then the only thing we truly own is our bodies, which belong to the earth. And that's where we come from and where we go.''

Going into the Badger-Two Medicine, on foot or on horseback, without cellphones, was the point of the traditional skills camp. Finding the game trails, tasting the spring water, collecting the ripe berries was all part of the education the land had to give.

Listening to the Tatsey brothers and their fellow Blackfeet elders swapping stories under the stars offered another way to understand the difference. They did not talk of favorite places. They recalled what they did in the Badger-Two Medicine.

Cherokee Nation Reaches $75M Settlement with Drug Companies

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Cherokee Nation and three opioid distributors reached a $75 million settlement to resolve opioid-related claims against the companies, the tribe and the companies announced Tuesday.

The Tahlequah, Oklahoma-based tribe announced the settlement, the largest in Cherokee Nation history, with McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation. The settlement will be paid out over six and a half years.

``Today's settlement will make an important contribution to addressing the opioid crisis in the Cherokee Nation Reservation; a crisis that has disproportionately and negatively affected many of our citizens,`` Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement. ``This settlement will enable us to increase our investments in mental health treatment facilities and other programs to help our people recover.''

The tribe sued the three companies, along with several pharmacy companies, in 2017, alleging they contributed to ``an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse`` within the tribe and have not done enough to prevent tribal members from acquiring illegally prescribed opioid painkillers.

The three companies said in a joint statement that the settlement is a step toward ``a broader settlement with all federally recognized Native American tribes across the country.''

``While the companies strongly dispute the allegations against them, they believe this resolution will allow the companies to focus their attention and resources on the safe and secure delivery of medications and therapies while delivering meaningful relief to affected communities, and will also support efforts to achieve a broad resolution with the remaining Native American tribes,`` the statement said.

The Cherokee Nation's claims against Walmart, Walgreens and CVS are pending.

The settlement announced Tuesday is separate from similar claims brought by other tribes, as well as state and local governments, around the country, including a multi-district litigation proceeding in federal court in Ohio.

Former Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter in 2019 secured a $465 million judgment against consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson in the first such state trial against an opioid manufacturer. That case is currently on appeal.

Hunter also secured multimillion-dollar settlements with other drugmakers over the state's opioid crisis.

From 2007 to 2017, more than 4,600 people in Oklahoma died from opioid overdoses, state statistics show.

Former Hawaii First Lady Announces Run for Governor

Hawaiʻi’s former First Lady, Vicky Cayetano, announced she’s entered the 2022 race for governor. The businesswoman is President and CEO of the United Laundry Company, which specializes in providing services in the hospitality and health care industries.

Cayetano’s campaign will be focused primarily on the state’s pandemic recovery, as well other Hawaii issues connecting to the environment, climate change, and promoting tourism.

"Between COVID-19 and an uncertain post-pandemic future, coupled with the urgency to address climate change, more accurately to describe it as climate collapse, in addition to all the other important issues... We need leadership that is not afraid to face these challenges. Leadership that is capable of thinking innovatively defines resolutions to these problems," she stated at a recent press conference.

Her husband, Ben Cayetano, was Governor from 1994 to 2002.

Other gubernatorial candidates include Lieutenant Governor Josh Green and former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

(Editor’s Note: The name of the state, Hawaii, is not written with an 'okina between the two "i", because the Hawaiian Statehood Act of 1959 used the spelling "Hawaii." Thus, the name of the state is Hawaii, while the name of the island of the same name is Hawai'i.)

Pow-Wow Cancellations Leave Void for Indigenous Communities

Traverse City Record-Eagle

PESHAWBESTOWN, Mich. (AP) _ For traditional Anishinaabe dancer, Julia Martell, the feeling of stepping inside the pow wow circle is ``indescribable.''

``There's overwhelming pride in doing something that was kept from the community for so long,'' said Martell, adding that it's not just a feeling, but an element of connection with community and culture through dance and song.

Martell, a 26-year-old tribal citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, said she grew up on the ``Pow-wow trail,'' first attending when she was only 8 days old. She said she has been dancing ``since I could literally walk.''

She was blessed with dancing fancy-shawl, then cycled between that and traditional dancing before she was given a dream to dance jingle dress.

``It's so prevalent in my life,'' she said adding that dancing for her community is an integral part of who she is.

It's a part of her life that has been interrupted because of restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Martell and other Anishinaabek in Michigan have not been able to gather for pow wows as normal, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Martell said it's hard not to acknowledge the difficulty of not being able to participate in a staple of her upbringing for more than a year.

``I really miss those connections, that joy and togetherness that pow wows bring for me,'' she said.

The modern celebration of pow wows began in the early 20th century, when it still was illegal for Indigenous people to practice their culture, spirituality, including song and dance. It wasn't until The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 that protects the rights of Indigenous people to exercise traditional religions that pow wow began to gain traction in the communities. Since then, tribal nations across the nation and Michigan have ``pow wow season'' that ranges mostly in the warmer months.

In a recent public announcement, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians canceled its annual pow wow, which would have taken place in the third weekend in August.

``The COVID-19 virus first attacked our Indigenous elders, it has now turned its focus toward our children ages zero-11. There are no vaccines available to protect this stage of life from the COVID-19 virus. Our children remain vulnerable and it is our responsibility to protect our next generation. Our children's health and safety is our priority, we make this decision respectfully for them. Miigwech,'' the statement said.

Other tribal nations like the Little River Band of Odawa Indians also decided to cancel their annual pow wows this year, while some tribes like Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians delayed until later in the year. Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is planning its 43rd Annual ``Maawanj'iding Pow Wow'' from July 23-25 despite the pandemic.

The pow wow committee for GTB could not be reached for comment.

Martell said she is disappointed about the cancellation, because of other tribes' ability to take precautions for the pandemic, but she added that she understands the need ``to protect our young ones.''

Martell she plans to attend other tribal pow wows, like KBIC's pow wow in Baraga, to dance and connect with her communities again.

``It's really good medicine and I miss those immense emotions you have being among it,'' she said.


Sierra Clark's reporting is made possible by a partnership between the Traverse City Record-Eagle and Report for America.

Trudeau: Canada is Ashamed About Schools for Indigenous Kids

Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) _ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday Canadians are ``horrified and ashamed'' by their government's longtime policy of forcing Indigenous children to attend boarding schools _ institutions where hundreds of unmarked graves have now been found.

Indigenous leaders said this week that 600 or more remains were discovered at the Marieval Indian Residential School, which operated from 1899 to 1997 in the province of Saskatchewan. Last month, some 215 remains were reported at a similar school in British Columbia.

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools, most run by Roman Catholic missionary congregations, in a campaign to assimilate them into Canadian society.

The government has admitted that physical and sexual abuse was rampant in the schools, with students beaten for speaking their native languages. Thousands of children died there of disease and other causes, many never returned to their families.

``This was an incredibly harmful government policy that was Canada's reality for many, many decades and Canadians today are horrified and ashamed of how our country behaved,'' Trudeau said. ``It was a policy that ripped kids from their homes, from their communities, from their culture and their language and forced assimilation upon them.''

Trudeau said many Canadians won't be able to celebrate as the country marks its birthday on July 1.

``Canadians across the country are waking up to something that quite frankly that Indigenous communities have long known,'' Trudeau said.

``The trauma of the past echoes very much today.''

Indigenous leaders have called the residential schools a system of ``cultural genocide.''

A search with ground-penetrating radar at the Marieval school resulted in 751 ?hits,? indicating that at least 600 bodies were buried in the area after accounting for a margin of error in the search technique, said Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation, whose lands today include the school.

Delorme said the search continues and the numbers will be verified in coming weeks.

He said the gravesite is believed to hold both children and adults, and perhaps people from outside the community who attended church there.

Delorme said that the individual graves had once been marked, but that the church at some point removed the markers.

Last month the remains of 215 children, some as young as 3, were found buried on the site of what was once Canada's largest Indigenous residential school near Kamloops, British Columbia.

On Friday, the MIssionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which operated 48 residential schools in Saskatchewan and British Columbia, including those where the bodies were recently found, said it will disclose all historical documents it has.

It said in a statement that it already has worked to make the documents available through universities, archives and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but that the work is not complete because of provincial and national privacy laws.

Canadian Indigenous leaders, meanwhile, have also called for Pope Francis to apologize _ a demand echoed earlier by Trudeau.

Following that discovery of the British Colombia remains, Pope Francis expressed his pain and pressed religious and political authorities to shed light on ``this sad affair.'' But he stopped short of a formal apology.

``I know that the Catholic leadership is very actively engaged in what next steps can be taken,`` Trudeau said.

Don Bolen, archbishop of Regina, Saskatchewan, posted a letter to the Cowessess First Nation on the archdiocese's website this week in which he repeated an apology he said he made two years ago.

Nearly three-quarters of the 130 residential schools were run by Catholic missionary congregations, with others operated by the United, Presbyterian and Anglican churches, which earlier apologized for their roles in the abuse.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology in Parliament in 2008 and Canada offered billions of dollars in compensation as part of a lawsuit settlement between the government, churches and the approximately 90,000 surviving students.

A National Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued a report in 2015 that identified about 3,200 confirmed deaths at schools, but noted the schools did not record the cause of death in almost half of them. Many died of tuberculosis, an illness symptomatic of the deplorable living conditions.

In the United States, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced this week that the federal government is launching an investigation into its past oversight of Native American boarding schools there. She said it will review records to identify past schools, locate burial sites and uncover the names and tribal affiliations of students.

Navajo College Accepts Biden's COVID-19 Vaccination Goal

TSAILE, Ariz. (AP) _ A college on the Navajo Nation has accepted President Joe Biden's challenge to get students and others vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4.

Dine College Incident Command Director Velveena Davis said COVID-19 remains a threat to the Navajo Nation, ``so the college would like to do its part to expand the efforts of having our employees and students vaccinated.''

The college wants to ensure the safety and wellness of its campuses as they transition to in-person operations, Davis said.

The U.S. Department of Education on Thursday reached out to higher education institutions of behalf of Biden, asking them to play a role in reaching a 70% nationwide vaccination goal by July 4. In another development, the Navajo Nation Council on Thursday approved a resolution to reopen tribal parks, businesses in the parks and the tribal zoo and museum

The resolution now goes Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, who has 10 days to act on the measure, the Gallup Independent reported.

Justice Department Working with Tribes on Missing Persons

Associated Press/Report for America

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Jermain Charlo vanished in June 2018. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal member hasn’t been seen since.

Valenda Morigeau, Charlo’s aunt, reported her missing to the Missoula Police Department in the days after her disappearance. But Morigeau said the detective initially assigned to the case failed to take the report seriously and was slow to act, a pattern she said is common when Native Americans report missing loved ones.

“You would think that there would be more urgency to go find the person that is missing,” Morigeau said. “Here we are, three years later, because they assumed she was avoiding responsibilities.”

Charlo’s case brought the problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women to the fore in the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. Now, almost three years after her disappearance, the tribes on Thursday became the first in the nation to complete a community response plan — a Justice Department initiative aimed at creating collaboration between law enforcement agencies, including tribal police, county police and federal authorities, when Native Americans go missing on tribal land.

Still, there are major holes. Among the most glaring: There is no plan for when a tribal citizen goes missing off a reservation or outside tribal lands, as Charlo did.

In 2018, an Associated Press investigation found that 633 Indigenous women made up 0.7% of open missing persons cases despite being 0.4% of the U.S. population.

The situation is especially alarming in states such as Montana, which have large Native American populations. Native Americans make up less than 7% of Montana’s population but account for 25% of reported missing person cases.

It is not a federal crime for an adult to go missing, and the FBI generally would only step in if there was clear evidence that a crime has been committed that led to a disappearance. The federal government could lend its resources to local law enforcement officials to help in the search.

“The things that we will learn and implement from the work that the good people here have done can be utilized nationwide,” said Terry Wade, an FBI executive assistant director, at a news conference Thursday on the Flathead reservation.

The Justice Department sees its work with local law enforcement and tribal communities as a major initiative. President Donald Trump initiated a federal task force and his then-Attorney General William Barr, who visited the Flathead Reservation in Montana, committed to hiring 11 coordinators at U.S. attorneys offices across the country.

The new plan aims to increase communication among local law enforcement officials, especially in places where there is overlapping jurisdiction. For example, in the immediate area around the Flathead Reservation, there are eight police and sheriff’s departments in addition to the Montana Highway Patrol, the tribal police and federal investigators.

As part of the initiative, the police departments are now sharing dispatch information, meaning that when one sheriff’s office receives a missing persons report, it can be shared quickly and widely. Also, the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI would offer resources and make a sheriff’s office aware of how the federal government could help.

Craige Couture, police chief for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, said the plan will eventually extend to address cases that occur beyond tribal land and even in other states.

Over the past two years, the federal government has tried to put in place the tribal plans, holding listening sessions and working with tribes to “establish model protocols,” said Ernie Weyand, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person coordinator for the Justice Department in Montana.

Weyand, a former FBI official and the first coordinator to be hired, has helped to develop the protocols with other coordinators and tribes across the country.

“They are a community deeply affected by its members who have gone missing or been murdered,” Weyand said in an interview.

Officials around the Flathead Reservation are also working to create a common missing person policy, shared by all the agencies working on the reservation, and have discussed storing information on a secure information server, he said.

It seems to be working.

In early 2020, when 16-year-old Selena Not Afraid disappeared from a New Year’s party in Big Horn County, Montana, the reaction was swift and the response from law enforcement was robust. The FBI dispatched its elite child abduction team and offered its vast resources to the local sheriff’s office.

It was too late. But unlike so many others who have never been found, her body was discovered 20 days after she went missing. An autopsy found she died of hypothermia. Her family still questions how she died.

Rae Peppers, a former Montana state House member who has worked to address the crisis through legislation and nonprofit work, said several of the federal initiatives have come across as disingenuous and unproductive.

“It looks like we’re at a standstill,” she said, calling Trump’s efforts “a political move and not a compassionate move for the Native people.”

But President Joe Biden’s administration has brought the prospect of revitalized efforts. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced Thursday the formation of a new unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to address the missing and murdered Indigenous persons crisis, with a goal of coordinating different federal resources to investigate cases.

The move on the part of Haaland marks the fulfillment of a hope by Native activists, including Peppers, that the first American Indian to lead the Department of Interior would bring greater attention to the crisis.

“Violence against Indigenous peoples is a crisis that has been underfunded for decades. Far too often, murders and missing persons cases in Indian country go unsolved and unaddressed, leaving families and communities devastated,” Haaland said in a statement.

In tribal communities in Montana, hardly anyone can remain untouched by the crisis. Peppers recounts that no charges were pressed in the killing of her neighbor, who was her husband’s cousin.

Peppers said the Tribal Community Response Plan could prove effective, but it remains to be seen whether such an initiative can translate to all tribal communities and whether it brings real change.

Native Americans who have seen their neighbors and loved ones disappear agree that while the political attention may be new, the problem is not.

“It’s a crisis that has happened clear back to Columbus’ time,” Peppers said. “It’s always been, ‘Oh, another dead Indian.’ That was always the discussion, and it’s still like that.”


Balsamo reported from New York. Samuels is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Years Later, Chickasaw Remains Returning to Mississippi Home


Associated Press/Report for America

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ A man and a woman were found buried among wolf teeth and turtle shells. Other graves contained mothers and infants. Some tribal members were laid to rest with beloved dogs.

Over the last century, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History has stored the remains of hundreds of Native Americans who once inhabited the state. Most of the remains were found in the Mississippi Delta and range from 750 to 1,800 years old. For decades, they sat on shelves in the state's collections.

Now, 403 Chickasaw ancestors have been returned to their people and will be laid in their final resting place on Mississippi soil.

This initiative is the largest of its kind conducted by the state of Mississippi since the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, three decades ago.

Since 1990, federal law has required that institutions like museums and schools that receive federal funding return human remains, funerary objects and other sacred items to their Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian descendants.

``We see the repatriation process as an act of love,`` said Amber Hood, Director of Historic Preservation and Repatriation for The Chickasaw Nation. ``These are our grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and cousins from long ago.''

Through the years, enactment of NAGPRA has moved faster in some states than others. Around 83,000 remains in the U.S. had been returned to descendants as of this fall, according to data provided to The Associated Press by the National Park Service. But at least another 116,000 ancestors are still waiting to be returned.

Anne Amati, NAGPRA coordinator with the University of Denver Museum of Anthropology, said institutions in southeastern U.S. house more remains than anywhere else in the country.

Many dozens of tribes, including the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee, once lived across millions of acres throughout the southeastern U.S. They were forcibly and violently removed by the U.S. government following the Indian Removal Act of the 1830s.

Following the Great Depression, thousands of graves were disrupted by the Tennessee Valley Authority as workers constructed reservoirs.

Almost 11,500 remains from Tennessee have now been returned to descendants, but 21,200 remain in the state. More than 18,600 in Alabama have been returned, with around 10,650 still in-state.

A survey of institutions by the University of Denver in 2019-20 found that obstacles to completing NAGPRA work included funding, time and incomplete or inaccurate information in catalog records about Native American collections. There's also some fear among museum professionals, Amati said.

``I think one of the fears is that they've done something wrong,`` Amati said. ``They don't want to get in trouble, whether it's with the government or with tribes.''

Still, more and more institutions are becoming engaged in the repatriation process, Amati said.

Many remains in Mississippi were discovered by Delta farmers developing land in the 1950s to 1970s. In some instances, shell beads, stone tools, celts and vessels found in burial sites in the U.S. have been put on exhibit in museums.

Meg Cook, the MDAH's director of archaeology, said the state had not only a legal responsibility to return remains, but an ethical one. Repatriations are now the main priority for the state's archaeology collection.

``We're doing everything that we can to reconcile the past and move forward, in a very transparent way,`` she said. ``It's our responsibility to tell the Mississippi story. And that means all of the bad parts, too.``

The department has worked to create bonds with its 11 tribal partners, not only to repatriate remains but also to uplift historically underrepresented voices. A sign above the door where remains are housed in the Department of Archives and History now reads, ``This is a reverent space. Please respect the individuals that are resting here.''

There are still more than 1,000 remains to be identified and returned to tribes in Mississippi alone.

The Chickasaw Nation advised MDAH that they wished for remains and objects from their ancestors to be transported in muslin bags, which will decompose in soil when reburied. Volunteers were recruited during the pandemic shutdown to make the bags at home.

``Volunteers knew they were helping in some ways to bring these people home, to put them to rest,`` Cook said.

The state is planning to launch a new website the week of April 2. Browsers can peruse interactive maps and other resources documenting the repatriation process in Mississippi.

Willingham is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Justice Department Working with Tribes on Missing Persons

Associated Press/Report for America

HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Jermain Charlo vanished in June 2018. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal member hasn't been seen since. Valenda Morigeau, Charlo's aunt, reported her missing to the Missoula Police Department in the days after her disappearance. But Morigeau said the detective initially assigned to the case failed to take the report seriously and was slow to act, a pattern she said is common when Native Americans report missing loved ones.

``You would think that there would be more urgency to go find the person that is missing,'' Morigeau said. ``Here we are, three years later, because they assumed she was avoiding responsibilities.''

Charlo's case brought the problem of missing and murdered indigenous women to the fore in the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. Now, almost three years after her disappearance, the tribes on Thursday are the first in the nation to complete a community response plan _ a Justice Department initiative aimed at creating collaboration between law enforcement agencies, including tribal police, county police and federal authorities, when Native Americans go missing on tribal land.

Still, there are major holes. Among the most glaring: There is no plan for when a tribal citizen goes missing off a reservation or outside tribal lands, as Charlo did.

In 2018, an Associated Press investigation found that 633 indigenous women made up 0.7% of open missing persons cases despite being 0.4% of the U.S. population.

The situation is especially alarming in states such as Montana, which have large Native American populations. Native Americans make up less than 7% of Montana's population but account for 25% of reported missing person cases.

It is not a federal crime for an adult to go missing, and the FBI generally would only step in if there was clear evidence that a crime has been committed that led to a disappearance. The federal government could lend its resources to local law enforcement officials to help in the search.

``The things that we will learn and implement from the work that the good people here have done can be utilized nationwide,'' said Terry Wade, an FBI executive assistant director, at a news conference Thursday on the Flathead reservation.

The Justice Department sees its work with local law enforcement and tribal communities as a major initiative. President Donald Trump initiated a federal task force and his then-Attorney General William Barr, who visited the Flathead Reservation in Montana, committed to hiring 11 coordinators at U.S. attorneys offices across the country.

The new plan aims to increase communication among local law enforcement officials, especially in places where there is overlapping jurisdiction. For example, in the immediate area around the Flathead Reservation, there are eight police and sheriff's departments in addition to the Montana Highway Patrol, the tribal police and federal investigators.

As part of the initiative, the police departments are now sharing dispatch information, meaning that when one sheriff's office receives a missing persons report, it can be shared quickly and widely. Also, the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI would offer resources and make a sheriff's office aware of how the federal government could help.

Craige Couture, police chief for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, said the plan will eventually extend to address cases that occur beyond tribal land and even in other states.

Over the past two years, the federal government has tried to put in place the tribal plans, holding listening sessions and working with tribes to ``establish model protocols,'' said Ernie Weyand, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person coordinator for the Justice Department in Montana.

Weyand, a former FBI official and the first coordinator to be hired, has helped to develop the protocols with other coordinators and tribes across the country.

``They are a community deeply affected by its members who have gone missing or been murdered,'' Weyand said in an interview.

Officials around the Flathead Reservation are also working to create a common missing person policy, shared by all the agencies working on the reservation, and have discussed storing information on a secure information server, he said.

It seems to be working.

In early 2020, when 16-year-old Selena Not Afraid disappeared from a New Year's party in Big Horn County, Montana, the reaction was swift and the response from law enforcement was robust. The FBI dispatched its elite child abduction team and offered its vast resources to the local sheriff's office.

It was too late. But unlike so many others who have never been found, her body was discovered 20 days after she went missing. An autopsy found she died of hypothermia. Her family still questions how she died.

Rae Peppers, a former Montana state House member who has worked to address the crisis through legislation and nonprofit work, said several of the federal initiatives have come across as disingenuous and unproductive.

``It looks like we're at a standstill,'' she said, calling Trump's efforts ``a political move and not a compassionate move for the Native people.''

In tribal communities in Montana, hardly anyone can remain untouched by the crisis. Peppers recounts that no charges were pressed in the killing of her neighbor, who was her husband's cousin.

Peppers said the Tribal Community Response Plan could prove effective, but it remains to be seen whether such an initiative can translate to all tribal communities and whether it brings real change.

Native Americans who have seen their neighbors and loved ones disappear agree that while the political attention may be new, the problem is not.

``It's a crisis that has happened clear back to Columbus' time,'' Peppers said. ``It's always been, `Oh, another dead Indian.' That was always the discussion, and it's still like that.''


Balsamo reported from New York. Samuels is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Goade Becomes First Native American to Win Caldecott Medal

AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Illustrator Michaela Goade became the first Native American to win the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal for best children's picture story, cited for ``We Are Water Protectors,`` a celebration of nature and condemnation of the ``black snake'' Dakota Access Pipeline.

``I am really honored and proud,`` the 30-year-old Goade told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ``I think it's really important for young people and aspiring book makers and other creative people to see this.''

Tae Keller's chapter book ``When You Trap a Tiger,'' in which a young Korean-American explores her identity and her heritage through her grandmother's stories, won the John Newbery Medal for the outstanding children's work overall of 2020. Keller, who was raised in Hawaii and now lives in New York, drew upon Korean folklore and family history for ``When You Trap a Tiger,'' also named the year's best Asian/Pacific American literature.

``The book really did grow from the recognition of my grandmother as this full person with so much life and so many stories to tell,'' Keller, 27, told the AP. ``I also did a great deal of research into Korean folklore and Korean history. There was a lot I heard growing up, but I had never had a fuller, deeper understanding of it all. I think that was the most rewarding part of writing this book.''

Jacqueline Woodson, whose previous honors include a National Book Award, won her third Coretta Scott King Award for best work by a Black author for ``Before the Ever After.'' And a tribute to Aretha Franklin, ``R-E-S-P-E-C-T,`` received the King award for best illustration. The book was written by Carole Boston Weatherford, with images by Frank Morrison.

The awards were announced Monday by the American Library Association.

``We Are Water Protectors,'' written by Carole Lindstrom, was conceived in response to the planned construction of the Dakota pipeline through Standing Rock Sioux territory. Goade, a member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian tribes in Southeast Alaska, was sent a copy of the manuscript through her agent in 2018 and responded immediately to its political message and message of water as a universal force.

``I love how it balanced lyricism and poetry with a powerful message,'' says Goade, who used everything from watercolors to Gouache paint as she conjured moods ranging from the water's sensual blue waves to the harsh black of the snake/pipeline and the burning red of the snake's tongue.

The Newbery medal was established in 1922, the Caldecott in 1937. Goade, whose other books include ``Encounter,'' is the first Native American to win in either category. Her next book is the picture story ``I Sang You Down from the Stars,'' a collaboration with author Tasha Spillett-Sumner that comes out in April.

Goade's win was widely cheered on social media, including by Lindstrom, who tweeted to the illustrator: ``I have no words to describe how proud of you I am. I love you so so much. You are so extremely talented and just an amazing person inside and out.'' Dr. Debbie Reese, founder of the educational resource American Indians in Children's Literature, noted that previous Caldecott awards had gone to stories about Natives that were created by non-Natives, citing Paul Goble's ``The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses`` and Gerald McDermott's ``Arrow to the Sun.''

``What I see in this year's winners is a respect for Native writing,'' Reese told the AP. ``We are so much more than what the mainstream understands, and slowly _ and hopefully surely as we move into the future _ editors and readers are coming to understand who we were, and who we are.''

Daniel Nayeri's ``Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story)`` won the Michael L. Printz Award for best young adult novel, and Mildred D. Taylor, known for ``Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry'' among other works, was given a ``Literature Legacy'' award.

Kekla Magoon, who has written or co-written ``X: A Novel`` and ``How It Went Down,'' won a lifetime achievement award for young adult books.

Ernesto Cisneros' ``Efren Divided`` won the Pura Belpre prize for outstanding Latinx author. Raul Gonzalez's ``Vamos! Let's Go Eat'' received the Belpre award for illustration. The Stonewall Book Award for best LGBT literature was given to Archaa Shrivastav for ``We Are Little Feminists: Families.” On the Internet:

New Mexico Trying to Organize Broadband Efforts

Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ The New Mexico Legislature is considering a bill that would consolidate the efforts of multiple state agencies to expand high-speed internet.

The effort comes a year into the pandemic that has pushed education and health care online, eroding residents' access to public services proportional to how far they are from an internet connection.

``We watched the collapse of our educational system during the COVID, and during the shutdown. And we all were watching our kids and our grandkids, dealing with this problem,'' said Rep. Susan Herrera, of Embudo, who represents residents in three surrounding rural counties north of Santa Fe.

One in five students didn't have access to the internet at all in the first months of the pandemic, according to a survey by the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority.

At-home COVID-19 testing rolled out by the state last year required participants to use video chat. Vaccine distribution efforts focus on getting residents to sign up online.

That might complicate things for residents 65 and older, who are less likely to have internet access. However, there is a workaround via phone.

The Connect New Mexico Act introduced by Rep. Herrera and four others won't solve the state's internet woes during the pandemic but could increase the rate at which broadband is expanded.

The bill made it through a House committee focused on infrastructure Tuesday in an 8-1 vote. It will next be heard in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. The state's annual legislative session started in January.

If passed, it would allocate $950,000 to create a broadband clearinghouse inside the Department of Information Technology. The new agency would distribute an existing $19 million fund to match federal broadband grants, a task currently shared by departments including DoIT.

``Most of the money that comes in for broadband is through federal grants. That's just how this works. So what we needed was a pool of money, and a staff to really get those grants in and to provide the match,'' said Rep. Natalie Figueroa, of Albuquerque.

Other bills under consideration in the house would allocate funds to expand broadband directly, including a proposal a one-time allocation of $95 million for the Native American Library Internet and Education bill.

The New Mexico Department of Information Technology estimated last year that providing internet access to all New Mexicans would cost between $2 billion and $5 billion for fiber optic cable, and under $1 billion for a combination of fiber optic and radio technology.

Worldwide, companies like SpaceX and Google are testing technologies _ satellite networks and high altitude balloons _ that could cut costs for rural broadband in the future.

``We don't specify that it has to be fiber line, it might be a dirigible in the sky, it might be a satellite, it might be a tower,'' Figueroa said.


Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow Attanasio on Twitter.

Democratic Lawmakers Push for Race Data in Vaccinations

Associated Press

Democratic lawmakers are urging federal health officials to address racial disparity in vaccine access nationwide, as data from some states show hard-hit nonwhite Americans who are eligible to receive it are not getting COVID-19 vaccinations in proportion to their share of the population.

In a letter Thursday to acting Health and Human Services Secretary Norris Cochran IV, the lawmakers said the agency must work with states, municipalities and private labs to collect and publish demographic data of vaccine recipients.

Without that information, policymakers and health workers cannot efficiently identify vaccine disparities in the hardest-hit communities, said the letter, signed by Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, all from Massachusetts.

``It is critical that the Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and immigrant communities that have been most impacted by this virus and have been more likely to contract, be hospitalized, and die from the disease have access to the vaccine,'' said the letter, first shared with The Associated Press.

The appeal comes as the U.S. recorded nearly 26 million COVID-19 cases and more than 429,000 deaths since the onset of the pandemic nearly a year ago. The virus has taken a particularly severe toll on Black populations in the U.S. Along with Hispanic and Native American people, Black Americans are dying from COVID-19 at nearly three times the rate of white Americans.

The lawmakers said the recent distribution of the approved vaccines ``is a sign of hope that much needed recovery from this pandemic is near.'' But, they said, an inadequate vaccine deployment campaign could make things worse for communities that have shouldered the greatest burden.

A spokesperson for HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. However, reducing racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 vaccination and treatment is a priority for President Joe Biden, who has appointed a White House official to oversee that part of the government's overall response.

Pressley, who made early calls for racial case data last year, said communities of color cannot afford to wait longer for vaccine demographic data to become available.

``We've learned consistently throughout history that in the face of any public health crisis, communities of color disproportionately suffer _ and this pandemic is no exception,'' Pressley said in a statement to the AP.

``That which gets measured gets done, and the first step towards ensuring we are able to effectively address these disparities and direct lifesaving resources to our hardest-hit communities is for our government to collect and publish anonymized demographic data, including race and ethnicity, of vaccine recipients,'' she said.

Dr. Uche Blackstock, CEO of Advancing Health Equity, said the data is crucial to help inform efforts to reach vulnerable populations and communities of color that distrust the medical community because of racism and structural inequities that have long existed in America.

``We're going to see a widening and exacerbation of the racial health inequities that were here before the pandemic and worsened during the pandemic if our communities cannot access the vaccine,'' said Blackstock, an emergency physician based in Brooklyn, New York.

``We could see years taken off the lives of Black Americans in this country and a worsening of life expectancy that will probably take generations to recover from,'' Blackstock said. ``There needs to be a plan and unfortunately I don't see that happening with the urgency that it should.''

A lack of transparency on who is receiving the vaccine will only foment greater distrust of health officials, the lawmakers said in the letter.

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who chairs the COVID-19 equity task force appointed by Biden, has pointed to gaps in data as one of the issues she's trying to resolve.

During a White House briefing on Wednesday, Nunez-Smith said federal officials were calling for states to ``get better, more consistent data'' on the already administered vaccinations.

``We are 100% committed to making sure that when it's your turn, that you have access to the vaccine, and we know that access in many communities that have been hard hit might be a challenge,'' Nunez-Smith said.

According to a December survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 53% of white Americans said they would get vaccinated, compared with 24% of Black Americans and 34% of Hispanics. Due to an insufficient sample size, the survey could not analyze results among Native Americans or other racial and ethnic groups that make up a smaller proportion of the U.S. population.

Nationwide, health officials in 18 states included ways to measure equity in their vaccine distribution plans last fall. But as issues in the vaccine supply chain emerged, some states have had to slow or rework distribution plans.

Still, many are keeping racial equity in the forefront.

An advisory committee in Oregon that provides recommendations to the governor and public health authorities is set to vote Thursday on whether to prioritize people of color, target those with chronic medical conditions or focus on some combination of groups at higher risk from the coronavirus.

Morrison reported from New York. Associated Press writer Kat Stafford in Detroit contributed to this report.

Biden Taps Haaland as Interior Secretary in Historic Pick

Associated Press

President-elect Joe Biden selected New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as his nominee for interior secretary on Thursday, a historic pick that would make her the first Native American to lead the powerful federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation's tribes for generations.

Tribal leaders and activists around the country, along with many Democratic figures, cheered Haaland's selection after urging Biden for weeks to choose her to lead the Department of Interior. They stood behind her candidacy even when concerns that Democrats might risk their majority in the House if Haaland yielded her seat in Congress appeared to threaten her nomination.

With Haaland's nomination, Indigenous people will for the first time in their lifetimes see a Native American at the table where the highest decisions are made _ and so will everyone else, said OJ Semans, a Rosebud Sioux vote activist who was in Georgia on Thursday helping get out the Native vote for two Senate runoffs. ``It's made people aware that Indians still exist,'' he said.

Haaland, 60, is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and, as she likes to say, a 35th-generation resident of New Mexico. The role of interior secretary would put her in charge of an agency that has tremendous sway not only over the nearly 600 federally recognized tribes, but also over much of the nation's vast public lands, waterways, wildlife, national parks and mineral wealth.

Haaland tweeted after the news was made public that ``growing up in my mother's Pueblo household made me fierce.

``I'll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land,'' she pledged.

Biden plans to introduce Haaland _ and other picks for his Cabinet _ at an event Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware.

Her selection breaks a 245-year record of non-Native officials, mostly male, serving as the top federal official over American Indian affairs. The federal government often worked to dispossess Native Americans of their land and, until recently, to assimilate them into white culture.

``You've got to understand _ you're taking Interior full circle,`` said Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and a champion of Haaland for the job. ``For years, its legacy was the disenfranchisement of the Native people of this country, of displacement, of cultural genocide.``

With Haaland's nomination, ``that in itself is a huge message,'' Grijalva said.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez called it ``truly a historic and unprecedented day for all Indigenous people.''

``I am SO ELATED,'' the head of progressive Democrats' Sunrise Movement, Varshini Prakash, tweeted. ``This will be the first time an Indigenous person - and a badass climate champion woman at that - will hold any presidential cabinet position. Congratulations to (at)JoeBiden for making history.?

Get-out-the-vote activists believe their efforts, and the Native vote, helped flip Arizona in particular for Biden and secure the presidency.

``There's a feeling something is changing,'' said Ashley Nicole McCray, a member of the Absentee Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma and of an indigenous environmental coalition. ``Finally, we've come to this point where Indigenous sentiment is no longer being silenced.``

But Biden's pick could further deplete, at least temporarily, the narrow majority Democrats maintain in the House. Biden has already selected several lawmakers from the chamber, including Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond and Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, to serve in his administration.

Some on Biden's transition team had expressed concerns about dipping further into the already thinned Democratic House majority for another senior administration posting. But Biden decided that the barrier-breaking aspect of her nomination and her experience as vice chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources made her the right pick for the moment.

The president-elect has been methodically filling the posts in his Cabinet, adding North Carolina environmental official Michael Regan as his nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Biden introduced former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg earlier this week as his transportation secretary and announced Thursday that former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was his nominee for energy secretary.

In a statement Thursday night, Biden said he had assembled a ``brilliant, tested, trailblazing team'' that ``will be ready on day one to confront the existential threat of climate change.''

``They share my belief that we have no time to waste to confront the climate crisis, protect our air and drinking water, and deliver justice to communities that have long shouldered the burdens of environmental harms,'' the president-elect said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear Wednesday that Biden had her blessing to choose Haaland, saying she would make an ``excellent choice'' as interior secretary. South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House and a close Biden ally, also supported Haaland for the job.

Haaland is one of the first two Native American women in the House. She told The Associated Press before her nomination that see the difference her position in Congress made for ordinary Native Americans who came to her with business before the federal government.

``They felt comfortable just launching into the issues they wanted,'' Haaland told the AP in an interview before her appointment. They would say, for example, ``Oh, we don't have to explain tribal sovereignty to you,'' meaning tribes' constitutionally guaranteed status as independent nations.

Haaland previously worked as head of New Mexico's Democratic Party, as tribal administrator and as an administrator for an organization providing services for adults with developmental disabilities.

Born to a Marine veteran father and a Navy veteran mother, Haaland describes herself as a single mother who sometimes had to rely on food stamps. She says she is still paying off student loans after college and law school for herself and college for her daughter.

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, who is retiring after 22 years in Congress and was initially considered the front-runner for interior secretary, congratulated Haaland on her selection, calling it ``momentous and well-earned.''

Previously, the highest-ranking administration official known to have Native American heritage was Charles Curtis, who served as Herbert Hoover's vice president and whose mother was one-quarter Kaw tribe.


Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani in Wilmington, Del., and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.

Navajo Nation Health Director Named to Biden COVID-19 Board

PHOENIX (AP) _ The executive director of the Navajo Nation Department of Health has been named a member of President-elect Joe Biden's COVID-19 advisory board.

Dr. Jill Jim was among the board members announced Saturday as part of Biden's transition team preparing to implement the president-elect's coronavirus containment plans, KPHO-TV reported.

Jim's work has focused on preventing chronic diseases and addressing healthcare and health disparities involving Native Americans and Alaska Natives, a statement from the transition team said.

The Navajo Nation member served urban and tribal communities for 18 years in nonprofit, state and federal agencies.

She most recently served as a cabinet member in the administration of Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer.

``I look forward to working with fellow members of the advisory board to help prepare an urgent, robust, and professional response to the global public health crisis, for President-elect Biden to lead with on day one,'' Jim said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some _ especially older adults and people with existing health problems _ it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Florida's Seminole Tribe Reclaims Ancestors, Artifacts

By BROOKE BAITINGER, South Florida Sun Sentinel

CLEWISTON, Fla. (AP) _ For decades, Florida's Seminole Tribe has been fighting to reclaim their ancestors who were stolen from burial sites across the state during the height of colonialism in North America.

Now, thanks to a brand new policy at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, they'll have the chance to bring their ancestors back home.

The conflict stemmed from imprecise labeling and record keeping when the remains and artifacts were exhumed from burial grounds.

Throughout the 1900s, the Smithsonian obtained human remains and archaeological artifacts through donations and acquisitions _ including nearly 1,500 Seminole ancestors and tens of thousands of archaeological artifacts that had been exhumed from burial sites across the state, according to the tribe.

In some cases, archaeologists said they weren't sure which native tribe the remains belonged to. They labeled them "culturally unaffiliated.''

Those remains ended up on display at the Smithsonian but weren't tied to any specific tribe. And because legislation such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act didn't apply to the Smithsonian when it was passed in 1990, the museum didn't have to set up a framework for native tribes to reclaim their ancestors to bring them back to their rightful resting place, according to the Seminole Tribe.

Facing mounting pressure from many native tribes, including the Seminoles, the Smithsonian changed course and decided to allow the tribes to reclaim their ancestors, even if archaeologists hadn't said the remains came from a specific tribe.

The victory opens the door for native tribes to begin that process and remedies some of the damage inflicted upon Native American tribes by the legacy of colonialism, said Paul Backhouse, historic preservation officer for the Seminoles.

"It's hugely significant right now for Indian Country in general and for the Seminole tribe in Florida,'' he said. "It's a huge victory for indigenous rights.''

Other native tribes have also been fighting for the change, Backhouse said. The policy needed to be updated to give equal weight to tribal knowledge and oral histories that could identify their ancestors, even when archaeologists could not.

"That's a big issue for Native American tribes who always have known who they belong to, because they're their ancestors,'' Backhouse said. "Just because there wasn't an object buried with them that indicates they're Seminole doesn't mean they're not ancestors of Seminole and Miccosukee populations that still live in Florida.''

For years, Native American groups have been seen as the ``other,'' as objects of examination rather than characters in their own story, Backhouse said.

Many other tribes have fought for the same goal for years, but the Smithsonian turned them away, said Bill Billeck, the museum's head of repatriation. Now that the Seminole Tribe has won, the museum will inform the rejected tribes of the policy change, he said.

The new policy, officially adopted Oct. 5, affects Native American tribes, Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian organizations.

As for the archaeological artifacts, those could be anything native-made or even trade items from contact with Europeans, Billeck said. Backhouse said it's anything that the ancestors had with them when they died.

That could include pottery, jewelry, hand-carved bone tools, arrowheads, and wooden effigies.

The Smithsonian has returned about 6,200 ancestors and over 200,000 artifacts that they know belonged to certain tribes and were so deemed "culturally affiliated'' with that tribe. Now, when tribes request to reclaim their ancestors who have been labeled ``culturally unaffiliated,'' Billeck's staff will have to handle it on a case by case basis, he said.

Tina Osceola, a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and associate justice for the tribal court, said the victory had been a long time coming and was generations overdue.

"I hope that the nation and world will shift their beliefs that our culture and people are only valuable when owned, displayed or studied,'' she said.

The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Museum in Clewiston posted about the victory on Facebook, and shared a photo from when tribe members visited Washington, D.C., to push Congress to change the policy. They shared the social media hashtag related to their efforts: (hash)NoMoreStolenAncestors.

In the Seminole language, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki means a place to learn and a place to remember.

DOT Secretary Chao Announces New Self-Governance Program

Chao’s remarks can be viewed HERE.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (the Department) announced the creation of the Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Program (TTSGP). This new program will provide a flexible, effective framework for the Federal government and Indian Tribes (Tribes) to work collaboratively to improve transportation infrastructure delivery in Indian Country.

“The Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Program will strengthen transportation infrastructure and reduce administrative red tape for Tribes receiving funding from the Department, boosting prospects for economic growth and enhancing quality of life,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The TTSGP will streamline the Department’s distribution of transportation funding to participating Tribes to improve the quality of life in Indian Country.

The program recognizes the unique government-to-government relationship between the Tribes and the Federal government and will improve the way the Department does business with Tribes. Participating Tribes will attain greater autonomy in the management and delivery of transportation programs, including an enhanced ability to determine internal priorities, redesign programs, and reallocate resources to better meet their needs.

The TTSGP is the result of a successful multi-year negotiated rulemaking process among representatives of Tribes, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of the Interior. Head Councilman Joe Garcia of Ohkay Owingeh and former Chief Kay Rhoads of the Sac and Fox Nation served as Tribal co-chairs on the Department’s TTSGP negotiated rulemaking committee.

The final rule laying the foundation for the TTSGP was published in the Federal Register on June 1, 2020.


Indigenous Communities in Alaska Harder Hit by Coronavirus

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Alaska state health data indicate Pacific Islanders and Alaska Natives are more likely to contract the coronavirus and be hospitalized with the illness.

Beyond underlying medical conditions, culture and economics contribute to the disparity, Alaska Public Media reported Tuesday.

Data indicate Pacific Islanders in Alaska have contracted COVID-19 at about eight times the rate of the rest of the population and are more than four times as likely to be hospitalized with the virus.

Alaska Natives are more than one-and-a-half times as likely to contract the coronavirus and have been hospitalized almost twice as much.

Pacific Islanders, Alaska Natives and American Indians, who also have been more susceptible to the virus, are more likely to live in crowded, multi-generational housing where the virus can easily spread.

Dr. Bob Onders, medical director of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, said multi-generational housing can create a higher risk for these groups in urban and rural areas. Many homes in rural Alaska also lack adequate sanitation, another factor contributing to virus spread.

Lucy Hansen, president of the Polynesian Association of Alaska, said physical closeness is customary for the Pacific Island community.

``We're a culture that we love to hugs and we love to kiss. It's the way we show our love and affection,'' Hansen said.

Social gatherings have been a conduit for virus transmission and Hansen has asked community and church leaders to spread the message that meeting in person can be dangerous.

Hansen also has translated health information resources into Samoan and Tongan for community members who do not speak English as a first language.

``We just have to remind each other that it's very real,`` Hansen said. ``It's not something that you joke around with.''

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some _ especially older adults and people with existing health problems _ it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.


Thousands of Navajo Nation Homes Without Plumbing Amid Virus


Gallup Independent

CHURCH ROCK, N.M. (AP) _ Seventy- six-year-old Louise Johnson made a plea for help in her cellphone voicemail message.

``My name is Louise Johnson. I live in the Superman Canyon (area). I need food and woods.''

Earlier this year, when the pandemic hit the Navajo Nation, she found herself unable to leave her home to go to town for groceries and other essentials for fear of being exposed to COVID-19.

Since she recorded the message in late March or April, her family and friends have been delivering goods to her home, a one-bedroom hogan without a bathroom or running water located in a rural area northwest of Church Rock known as Superman Canyon because that's where scenes of the 1978 ``Superman'' movie were filmed.

``I heard it on the radio. They advised us to do that,'' Johnson said about the idea of recording a request for help on her voicemail. She has not deleted the message, despite her brother's request, because the number of Navajo elders dying from COVID-19 continues to increase, and she feels she is still at risk and does not know when the crisis is going to end.

Johnson's needs go beyond ``food and woods.''

At 76, she takes sponge baths and uses an outhouse for her necessities. Her biggest challenge is water. Even though her hogan was built approximately 50 feet away from a waterline, she has not been able to connect the structure to the line because she lacks a bathroom, one of the requirements for the Indian Health Service to connect the home to plumbing.

According to Church Rock Chapter records, Johnson applied for financial assistance through the chapter to build a bathroom in 2018. All 110 Navajo chapters have an annual budget to assist the community with home repairs and bathroom additions.

LaVera Morgan, the chapter's community service coordinator, said turnover in management over the years has delayed requests for various types of assistance.

Morgan said since Johnson's plight was featured in the news earlier this year, the chapter passed an emergency resolution to immediately grant Johnson's request and she was awarded about $3,000 to pay for lumber and other materials to build the bathroom addition. She also told the Gallup Independent that three volunteers, two of whom had construction experience, offered to assist in building the bathroom.

The project is still in the works. Johnson said she visited the chapter recently to find out what's going on and was told not to worry, that ``it's being taken care of,'' she said.

Morgan said she is working with the Navajo Engineering Construction Company on getting Johnson's bathroom and plumbing. She added Johnson is one of about 300 families in Church Rock in need of a bathroom.

``About 50-60% of our families need bathroom additions,'' Morgan said. ``The majority of the families need bathroom additions or new bathrooms because their systems are old and their septic tanks collapsed or their bathroom fixtures got depleted. Some of these homes or bathrooms were built back in the day, when bathroom construction was not efficient or they used to cut corners.''

The cost to build or replace a bathroom varies, but the chapter typically awards $3,000 per member in need of assistance for lumber and material. Funds, however, are limited and awarded based on priority and need.

Rex Kontz, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority deputy manager, told the Independent in May that about 15,000 homes on the Navajo Nation lack running water for different reasons that include the lack of a bathroom or plumbing.

``After unofficial inquiry I understand roughly 50 percent need plumbing,'' he said. ``But some also need an addition to create space for a bathroom or what is referred to as a bathroom addition. . Some homes may have been pre-plumbed when built and some may be mobile homes that came with plumbing.''

Jenny Notah, a spokeswoman for the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, said the agency can provide bathroom plumbing for homes when it is constructing water and sewer facilities at those homes. But the burden lies on others.

``Bathroom additions must be built by either the homeowner, the chapter, the Navajo Nation, or by others,'' she said in an email to the Independent on Tuesday. ``When IHS can fit bathroom plumbing, which usually includes a sink, a toilet, a shower-tub and a hot water heater, in a home without an addition, then we do. However, many older homes and hogans typically do not have room in the existing home for bathroom plumbing. When a bathroom addition is necessary, the IHS typically coordinates with the homeowner and chapter on the need for bathroom additions long before a water/sewer project begins in order to give the homeowners and chapters time to build the necessary bathroom additions.''

Notah couldn't say how many homes are on a list of funded projects. Hundreds of others are in need of bathroom additions, she said.

The agency has worked with the Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority to install approximately 88 homes with plumbing, including toilets, and showers or tubs so far this year, according to Notah.


Alaska Native Children's Television Show Wins Peabody Award

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ The first nationally distributed children's series to feature an Alaska Native as the lead character has been awarded a prestigious Peabody Award.

KTVA-TV reported Monday that PBS program ``Molly of Denali`` won the award in the children's and youth division.

The show focuses on the cartoon character Molly Mabray, an Alaska Native of Gwichin, Koyukon, Dena'ina, and Athabascan heritage.

The program, which first aired in the summer of 2019, depicts the 10-year-old helping her parents run the Denali Trading Post while promoting Alaska Native values and literacy.

There were 60 nominees chosen this year for the Peabody Awards from nearly 1,300 entries spanning radio and podcasts, digital platforms and television.

The shows covered a broad range of issues from the criminal justice system, to the (hash)MeToo movement and immigrant rights.

``Molly of Denali'' creator and executive producer Dorothea Gillim accepted the award on behalf of the show.

``Stories are so important,`` Gillim said. ``They help us make meaning of who we are, of our experiences.''

The stories children hear or watch ``informs their sense of self and their outlook on others,'' Gillim said.

Indigenous children need to see themselves depicted onscreen as heroes, while non-indigenous children should learn about cultures that have been stigmatized and marginalized over time, Gillim said.

The show's producers said 20% of Americans believe indigenous people no longer exist.

The Peabody Awards, founded and based at the University of Georgia, are decided by a jury that includes industry professionals, media scholars, critics and journalists.


NFL's Washington Redskins Will Change Name and Logo, Team Says

By Homero De la Fuente and Wayne Sterling, CNN

The National Football League's Washington franchise will change the Redskins name and logo, the team announced Monday.

The new name was not revealed.

The announcement comes just days after the team said that a "thorough review" of the name would be conducted. The name has long been denounced by Native American groups as an ethnic slur.

"That review has begun in earnest," the team's statement said. "As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward. Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review."

Rivera told The Washington Post in an interview he was working with Snyder on a name that would honor both the military and Native Americans.

Following weeks of protests denouncing racism and as the country continues to confront systems of oppression more directly in recent weeks, the Redskins are the first team to announce a name change.

Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians have also pledged to reexamine their name. The team's manager said he believes it's time to change the name and "it's time to move forward."

The decision to re-examine the Washington name also came amid mounting pressure from several corporate sponsors, including FedEx, who have the naming rights to the team's stadium.

Other brands, including Nike and Amazon, have removed the team's merchandise from their online stores.

CNN's Alisha Ebrahimji contributed to this report.


Redskins to Have 'Thorough Review' of Name Amid Race Debate


AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Washington Redskins began a ``thorough review'' of their name Friday, a significant step toward moving on from what experts and advocates call a ``dictionary-defined racial slur.''

Even though owner Dan Snyder had shown no willingness to change the name since buying the team in 1999, the recent national conversation on race has renewed opposition to the name and prompted sponsors to speak up. With support from the NFL, it may finally lead to a new moniker for the long-struggling storied franchise with long-ago Super Bowl success.

``In the last few weeks, we have had ongoing discussions with Dan, and we are supportive of this important step,`` Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

In a statement, the team said recent events around the U.S. and feedback from the community prompted the formal review.

``This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,`` Snyder said.

Native American advocacy groups have tried for decades to force a change, and a peer-reviewed UC Berkeley study released earlier this year revealed 67% of those surveyed who strongly identify as Native agreed or strongly agreed the name was offensive. The death of George Floyd in Minnesota and other examples of police brutality against Black people in the U.S. sparked protests worldwide and changes to various brands considered racially insensitive.

Asked last month about the name, a spokesman said the team had no comment. But this week marked a possible sea change on the issue with investors writing to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors hoping they would influence change.

FedEx was the first to act publicly. The title sponsor of the team's stadium in Landover, Maryland, FedEx said Thursday, ``We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.'' FedEx paid $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to the stadium.

On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store. Nike said Friday it has shared its concerns with the NFL over the name and is ``pleased to see the team taking a first step towards change.''

PepsiCo, a sponsor since 2017, expressed a similar sentiment and said, ``We believe it is time for a change.'' Sponsor Bank of America said it has ``encouraged the team to change the name'' and welcomed the organization's review.

Coach Ron Rivera, who said in a recent radio interview now is not the time to discuss the name, called it ``an issue of personal importance.'' Rivera, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent and is the only Hispanic head coach currently in the NFL, added he'd work closely with Snyder during the process.

``There is no reason not to immediately announce that the team is changing the mascot, since any real review will lead to the inevitable conclusion that the deeply offensive and racist name of Washington's NFL team must go now,'' said Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, leader of the ``Change the Mascot'' campaign. ``Dan Snyder can stand on the right side of history and create a new, positive legacy for his team, or instead continue embracing a bigoted slur that denigrates Native Americans and people of color.''

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said recently the name was an ``obstacle'' to the team building a stadium in the District. The current lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and the old RFK Stadium site in Washington is one of several options for the team's new headquarters, along with locations in Maryland and Virginia.

The team in late June removed racist founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame. A monument of Marshall was also removed from the RFK Stadium site.

Marshall's granddaughter supported those moves and recently told The Associated Press she's fine with the team changing its name.

``I think if anybody's offended that they should change the name,'' Wright said. ``I've always felt that way.''


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.''


First Nations Announces Covid-19 Funding Resources

First Nations Development Institute recognizes the devastating impact the pandemic is having on Native communities, and the hardships it is creating now and going forward. They hope you are staying healthy and safe with strength and resilience.

To support its grantee partners, they are sharing this Funding Resource Document of various external funding opportunities not associated with First Nations. 

Please access the document, along with additional coronavirus resources, here.

First Nations continues to respond to the needs of Indian Country through its Emergency Response Fund as efforts shift from response to recovery during and after this crisis.

If you have any questions, or would like further information, please contact First Nations.

About First Nations Development Institute

For 38 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities.  First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit


South Dakota Plans Mass Testing in Elder Care Facilities


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ South Dakota health officials are planning to test everyone in nursing homes and assisted living facilities over the next month, Gov. Kristi Noem announced Thursday.

The Department of Health will be working with facilities that care for the elderly to test over 26,000 people in the coming weeks. Nursing homes have been most susceptible to deaths from COVID-19, with one Sioux Falls facility recording 20 deaths, according to the Argus Leader.

``It's a foundation for us and our response moving forward,'' said Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon.

The state has acquired more supplies needed for tests, allowing them to hold mass testing events. Health officials also plan to conduct random testing among vulnerable people to try to catch infections before they spread.

Malsam-Rysdon said the state is also planning to hold mass testing events in Native American tribal communities, starting with a mass testing event with the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate next week.

Noem has feuded with two tribes over coronavirus checkpoints they set up on federal and state highways last month to keep unnecessary visitors off the reservations. On Friday, she threatened to sue the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe if they did not remove highway stops within 48 hours.

The governor backed away from that plan this week, offering to negotiate on the issue if they would take them off of U.S. and state highways. Noem said both tribes responded to letters she sent, saying they would consider the plan. But they have not taken down the checkpoints.

Still, Noem said it was encouraging they didn't reject the plans outright. She said she hoped the conflict could be settled out of court.

``We are working through our process,'' Noem said. ``I'm hopeful that we can come to a resolution.''

But the Rosebud Sioux Tribe announced on Wednesday it will be setting up highway checkpoints to enforce a lock down on the reservation after 14 people tested positive for the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, health officials recorded four more COVID-19 deaths and 60 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday.

The new figures bring the state's death toll to 43 and its confirmed case count to 3,792. State officials said the count does not reflect the total number of infections because many people may not display symptoms or have not sought testing if their symptoms are mild.

All of the deaths reported Thursday were in Minnehaha County, the state's most populated area. About 80% of cases in the state have come from the county.

The economic fallout from the global pandemic has also continued to cause layoffs in the state, according to the Department of Labor and Regulation. State officials reported that 5,131 people made new claims for unemployment last week. A total of 23,791 people are receiving unemployment benefits, according to the latest available count.

``About eight weeks ago, it was like a light switch was flipped,'' said Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman. ``Claims instantly and to a degree never-before-seen began to hit our system.''


Washington Tribe Traces New Outbreak to Children Playing

SEATTLE (AP) _ A Washington state American Indian tribe has seen a spate of new coronavirus infections that health officials traced to children playing together.

Sixteen new cases were announced between Wednesday and Friday by the Lummi Nation health department _ the tribe's first new infections in weeks.

Tribal officials said it was apparent from the outbreak that families and children were not following orders to limit their interactions and practice social distancing.

The Lummi Indian Business Council extended its stay-at-home order through May 31 and added a curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. for residents of the reservation about 90 miles north of Seattle.

After several weeks without new cases, people had become complacent, said Dr. Dakotah Lane, the Lummi Nation's health director, told The Seattle Times. Lane said the outbreak was traced to some kids playing together, but it couldn't be determined where the initial infection came from.

``You feel things are going well, and then, boom, this happens,'' Lane said.

The Lummi were among the first to enact a strict stay-home order, on March 22, to slow the virus's spread. The tribe also took early steps to obtain testing supplies and educate its roughly 5,300 members about keeping apart.


Those Without Broadband Struggle in a Stuck-at-Home Nation


NEW YORK (AP) - In Sandwich, New Hampshire, a town of 1,200 best known as a setting for the movie "On Golden Pond," broadband is scarce. Forget streaming Netflix, much less working or studying from home. Even the police department has trouble uploading its reports.

Julie Dolan, a 65-year-old retiree in Sandwich, has asthma. Her husband has high blood pressure. Dolan doubts her substandard home internet could manage a remote medical appointment, and these days no one wants to visit the doctor if they can help it. That leaves 19th-century technology -- her landline phone. "That is all I would have," she says.

As schools, workplaces and public services shut down in the age of coronavirus, online connections are keeping Americans in touch with vital institutions and each other. But that's not much of an option when fast internet service is hard to come by.

Although efforts to extend broadband service have made progress in recent years, tens of millions of people are still left out, largely because phone and cable companies hesitate to invest in far-flung rural areas. Government subsidies in the billions haven't fully fixed the problem.

Many more simply can't afford broadband. U.S. broadband costs more than in many comparable countries - an average of $58 a month compared to $46.55 across 29 nations, according to a 2018 Federal Communications Commission report.

Such disconnected people "already have to work harder to tread water," said Chris Mitchell, who advocates for community broadband service at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "I don't think people appreciated the magnitude of the problem."

Even in cities, the high cost of internet access means many go without. Low-cost local alternatives such as libraries and cafes have shut down.

In St. Louis, Stella Ashcraft, 63, lives from check to check and can't afford internet. Her senior center, where she plays bingo, does puzzles and gets lunch five days a week, is closed. So is her church and the library where she checks email. She's gotten texted photos of her newborn grandchild, but forget about a Zoom call to see the baby.

"I feel very withdrawn, isolated, alone," she said.

There are no definitive numbers on those without broadband. The FCC puts the number at 21 million, but its data is faulty and most likely undercounts the problem. An independent group called BroadbandNow pegs it at 42 million. The digital divide disproportionately affects rural areas, African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans on tribal lands.

Phone and cable companies have pledged not to cut people off if they can't pay bills and opened their Wi-Fi hotspots to the public. Some are expanding low-cost programs for poor people and lifting data caps so more people can get and stay connected.

Millions of Americans working from home are learning to use online video in place of face-to-face meetings, but that's not an option for those with only a trickle of data service.

Brie Morrissey, who owns a building outfitted with broadband in Dublin, New Hampshire, would prefer to maintain social distance by working from home. But she keeps heading into the office for the connection, and as a result, is constantly cleaning the place -- wiping down door knobs, the bathroom sinks and "every inch of the building," she says.

Morrissey avoids other tenants and won't rent space to anyone else. Most people recover from the virus, but the elderly and those with underlying conditions are more likely to get seriously ill or die.

"I have to tell people to stay home and that we can't accommodate them, which is a hard thing to do for a small business owner in a small town," she said. "You obviously want to help. But following guidelines means for the most part we can't."

Students, meanwhile, struggle with a "homework gap" when they can't get or submit assignments, much less watch online lectures or participate in discussions. Online schoolwork is now the norm, but the millions of students who don't have home internet or access to computers at home require creative solutions as schools shut down.

In rural western Alabama, less than 1% of Perry County's roughly 9,100 residents have high-quality internet at home, so online lessons are out. County teachers spent three days manually loading scanned images of math worksheets and other materials on to iPads and Chromebooks for the system's 1,100 students to take home while out of class, said Superintendent John Heard.

A New York City family shelter has no Wi-Fi and 175 school-age children, only 15 of whom have laptops. City schools are sending some kids tablets equipped with internet service. But Estrella Montanez, who runs the shelter, worries that kids will have trouble managing remote work.

"Many families are not so tech-savvy," she said.

Lawmakers want the federal government to send schools and libraries more money to lend out Wi-Fi hotspots to students. But the FCC says it's not authorized to do that under current law and is discussing a solution with Congress.

On Navajo Nation, the country's largest Native American reservation, it's common to see people sitting in their vehicles at night outside local government centers, fast-food restaurants and grocery stores to connect to Wi-Fi. Diné College is lending laptops to students and asking internet providers to improve service.

Digital-access advocates hope that this crisis propels the government to do more to get people connected. In some places, relief was expected later this year. But that's too late to help with the current crisis.

A cable company is supposed to start servicing Berkshires town Peru, Massachusetts, later this year. State Rep. Paul Mark has only satellite internet now, though, and that doesn't let him videoconference. Even Facebook video is a strain. And, like many others in his area, he also has unreliable mobile service at home. To help his constituents, he has to get in his car and drive around to get on calls and go on local TV and radio.

"It's a hassle," he said during a recent phone interview from his car as he drove to the Boston statehouse. Then the line went dead.


AP writers Jay Reeves contributed from Birmingham, Alabama; Anthony Izaguirre from Charleston, W.Va.; Michael Casey from Boston; Wilson Ring from Stowe, Vermont; and Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona contributed to this report.


Gathering of Nations, Other Events Canceled

Following the tempo of countless Native American planned events across the nation, the Gathering of Nations has postponed its annual Pow Wow, known to be one of the biggest events in New Mexico. Last year, the three-day event drew more than 80,000 people to Albuquerque and had a $24 million economic impact on the city. To read the official statement from Gathering of Nations, click here.


Native American Activists Launch Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign

Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ Native American activists in North Dakota are launching a voter awareness and turnout drive just weeks before the state's presidential preference caucuses.

It's an effort to build on work begun years ago when American Indians challenged the state's voter identification requirements as an unfair burden and an attempt to suppress the Native American vote, said Nicole Donaghy, executive director of North Dakota Native Vote.

The privately funded nonprofit will focus on the state's five American Indian reservations and some urban areas of North Dakota, and will consider issues that affect tribal communities, she said.

``Our heart is on the reservations,'' said Donaghy, who is from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border.

Advocacy groups credited an intense effort in 2018 to ensure a strong American Indian vote by offering free qualifying IDs and rides to the polls, though it wasn't enough to influence a key U.S. Senate race. Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who won her seat six years ago with the help of the Native American vote, was beaten by Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer.

Scott Davis, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission and a member of Republican Gov. Doug Burgum's staff, said the state helped by visiting tribal leaders and reservations to make people aware of voting requirements. North Dakota Democrats targeted American Indian communities in a get-out-the-vote campaign last year that included helping tribal members satisfy new proof-of-identity requirements needed to cast a ballot, including having a street address.

American Indians tend to vote for Democrats and it's common for the party to visit reservations to encourage tribal members to vote.

Changes to North Dakota's voter ID laws came just months after Heitkamp's win in 2012 by fewer than 3,000 votes with the help of Native Americans, who make up about 5% of North Dakota's population.

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa sued the state in 2016 over the ID requirements that many tribal members believed were aimed at suppressing their vote. The Republican-controlled Legislature said that had nothing to do with the change.

North Dakota law has always required street address identification, but before 2013 voters who didn't have one could sign an affidavit attesting to their eligibility. Now they must show ID with their residential address. American Indians argue that such addresses are not always evident on reservations, that many tribal members don't know 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.

A federal appeals court last year ruled that the voter identification requirements are constitutional, siding with state officials who argued that not requiring street addresses could lead to voter fraud and people voting in the wrong district.

Groups that monitored tribal voting sites estimate the number of voters who experienced identification problems last year totaled only in the dozens due to efforts to ensure a strong Native American turnout.

There are no high-stakes races in the offing yet this year but it is no less important to get out the Native American vote, said Wes Davis, a member of North Dakota Native Vote.

Davis said the goal is to inspire tribal members, from youth to elders, to vote, and to show them how and where.

``We want to make them visible when the whole system has made them invisible,'' said Davis, a member of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.


Biggest Solar Project in US Outside Vegas Nears End of Study

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Federal authorities have opened a final protest period about a proposed solar power array and battery storage plant near Las Vegas that would be the largest in the U.S. and among the largest in the world.

The Bureau of Land Management said it will accept protests until Jan. 27 of issues raised during planning for the Gemini Solar Project off Interstate 15 near the Moapa River Indian Reservation and Nevada's scenic Valley of Fire State Park.

The project by Solar Partners XI LLC has drawn concerns from environmental groups including Basin and Range Watch about threats to rare desert plants and endangered species in the approximately 11-square-mile (28.5 square kilometer) site.

The developer says the site would produce up to 690 megawatts of electricity for sale in Nevada, Arizona and California, and would create 2,000 jobs during construction.

It would be more than twice as big as the nearby 250-megawatt Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project that was commissioned in March 2017 on a little more than 3.1 square miles (8 square kilometers) of tribal land.

A bureau environmental study, completed in June 2019, is posted online.


New Chief Justice, First Native American Member Sworn In

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ The Washington Supreme Court on Monday swore in a new chief justice as well as its first Native American justice ever.

The Spokesman-Review reports Justice Debra Stephens became the court's 57th chief justice. A former Appeals Court judge and adjunct professor of law at Gonzaga University, she called it ``the greatest privilege I can imagine.''

Raquel Montoya-Lewis, a former Whatcom County Superior Court judge who is a member of the Pueblo Iselta tribe of New Mexico, was sworn in at the same ceremony. Montoya-Lewis is the first Native American to serve on Washington's highest court, and only the second to serve on any state supreme court in the nation. Stephens called it a historic day.

Stephens was elected chief justice by other members of the court after former Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst announced she was resigning to concentrate on fighting cancer. Gov. Jay Inslee last month named Montoya-Lewis, a Whatcom County Superior Court judge, to fill the open seat on the court.

Inslee said Monday was a day when ``a daughter of Spokane ascends to chief justice,'' and the court gets Lewis-Montoya, a ``judicial superstar'' who is a good listener, decisive, caring and compassionate.


New Mexico GOP Courting Latinos, Native American Voters

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ New Mexico Republicans will embark on an aggressive strategy to win over Hispanic and Native American voters in 2020 as the party experiences its most diverse primary races in recent history, state chairman Steve Pearce announced.

Pearce said the state party will appoint Hispanic and Native American outreach coordinators in all of the state's 33 counties. He is also urging all candidates to travel to Democratic strongholds instead of just focusing on the GOP's traditional base.

``I am excited about minority candidates saying more broadly for the first time, `I am Republican, and I'm going to run as a Republican,''' Pearce said. ``That is pretty powerful.''

Native Americans and Latinos are running in two GOP primaries for U.S. House seats and for the U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico.

Anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez, a Latina Republican and member of Navajo Nation, is seeking the GOP nomination for an open U.S. Senate spot. Among her opponents are Louie Sanchez, a Hispanic shooting range owner, and college professor Gavin Clarkson, a member of Choctaw Nation.

``This is something that is energizing to me because Republicans really have not done a good job at reaching into Hispanic communities,'' Pearce said.

The Democratic Party of New Mexico has faced criticism for not reaching out to Hispanic voters enough and for maintaining mostly white leadership. Latino Democrats in the state Senate created a Hispanic Caucus in 2017 after fellow Democrats elected an all-white leadership team.

In 2018, however, New Mexico elected an all Democratic, all minority U.S. House delegation for the first time.

Asked what the party would do to reach out to Hispanic and Native American voters, Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Marg Elliston said it would seek to attract as many voters as possible.

Elliston later told reporters the party was looking into hiring a Native American statewide outreach coordinator.

New Mexico has the largest percentage of Hispanic residents in the nation and a sizable Native American population.

President Donald Trump has said he intends to win New Mexico's five electoral votes and his campaign has set up offices in the state.

Pearce said a Trump rally in September drew a diverse crowd of supporters.

Elliston said Democrats intend to focus on Trump's past remarks about immigrants and other groups, which she said was based on ``hate.''

Trump has drawn criticism throughout his presidency for making racist comments about Latinos, Muslims and other people of color.


Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press' race and ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter at:


Milwaukee Program Fosters Friendship Among Diverse Students

By ANDREA WAXMAN of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ When students graduate from the Indian Community School, located on a wooded campus in Franklin, they leave a close-knit environment, where Native cultures, languages and values are woven into their education. They spread out to high schools across the Milwaukee area, where they are thrown into contact with students from different cultural, racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Last year, through a program called Repairing Together, the classmates learned about the lives of Jewish, Latinx and African American students.

Jason Dropik, the head of the Indian Community School, believes the program will help his K-8 graduates make friends and more easily navigate the transition to high school and beyond.

Dropik said ``people can be placed in groups and pitted against each other, and there can be a sense that you have to isolate to really thrive.'' But getting people together to know and accept each other helps them to be more empathetic, more forgiving and more patient, he said.

Repairing Together was launched by founder Elsien Crawford at the beginning of the 2016 school year. Eighth graders from Milwaukee College Prep's 38th Street campus, where most students are African American, and seventh and eighth graders from the Milwaukee Jewish Day School were the first to participate. Repairing Together is now a program of the Milwaukee Jewish Day School.

The program brings students from different backgrounds and neighborhoods together to work on service-learning activities. The goal is to give them opportunities to share their own experiences and to provide a forum for understanding one another's world views.


The nonprofit news outlet Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.


Crawford, a native of the Netherlands, moved to Milwaukee after marrying a local man. She is multilingual and grew up valuing her experience with diverse friends she met at school and while traveling.

Starting with 80 eighth graders, she used professionally prepared evaluation tools to measure shifts in attitude and empathy and discovered the biggest impact showed up among the youngest students.

The following year, Bruce Guadalupe Community School, whose students are mostly Latinx, joined the program, and it expanded to more grades.

By the end of this school year, Crawford expects more than 1,500 will have participated.

Her goal is to start with K4 students at all four schools and take them through eighth grade so that they will have spent 10 years together by the time they enter high school.

``By then, people of other traditions, cultures and races won't hold any mystery or fear anymore,'' said Crawford, who's enlisted the help of service organizations.

Organizations that have participated include the Victory Garden Initiative, Serve 2 Unite, Urban Ecology Center and Arts (at) Large.

On a recent morning, Native American and Jewish eighth graders gathered at the Indian Community School. In small groups, they rotated between activities _ a food justice activity at the nearby Hunger Task Force Farm, an exercise on how different social rules in different cultures affect people's interactions and a third in which students used art to talk about the top issues on their minds.

Mark Denning, a lacrosse coach and professional educator, led the art project. Together students painted images that represented their concerns on an 8-foot fiberglass polar bear. Some of the images were joyful and others worrying, Denning said. They included allusions to bullying, the impact of cancer among family members and the importance students placed on love.

``We can get into some serious conversations by using art rather than sitting in a circle and saying `please share your deepest concern,''' Denning said.

In a game led by diversity educator Reggie Jackson, another group of eighth graders separated into the Rebas and the Amblers, two fictitious cultural groups with different social behaviors.

After briefly learning their group's social rules, they reassembled at a ``party'' and attempted to socialize. Rebas, who value being outgoing and friendly, showed it by shaking hands, standing very close and looking deeply into the eyes of whomever they were talking to. Amblers, on the other hand, believe that proper behavior includes being quiet and reserved.

The exercise concluded by asking participants to consider how their interactions made them feel, how diversity can create communication barriers and how they might overcome these barriers and communicate effectively.

Nicole Becker, a third-grade teacher at Milwaukee College Prep, whose class participated with students from the Milwaukee Jewish Day School and Bruce Guadalupe Community School last year, said the students were shy at first.

``They didn't know quite what to do, but through prompting and questions and different experiences, they were able to relate to each other.''

The nonprofit news outlet Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.


Montana Tribe's Long Recognition Struggle Clears Congress

Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ U.S. lawmakers granted formal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and directed federal officials to acquire land on the tribe's behalf, following a decades-long struggle by its members scattered across the Northern Plains of the U.S. and Canada.

A provision to recognize the tribe and make it eligible for millions of dollars annually in federal assistance was included in a defense bill approved in the Senate on a vote of 86 to 8. The measure now goes to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.

Most of the tribe's more than 5,000 members are in Montana, descendants of Native Americans and early European settlers.

They have a headquarters in Great Falls, Montana but have been without a recognized homeland since the late 1800s, when the tribe's leader, Chief Little Shell, and his followers in North Dakota broke off treaty negotiations with the U.S. government. Tribe members later settled in Montana and southern Canada, but they struggled to stay united because they had no land to call their own.

Formal government recognition gives cultural validation to a tribe whose members have long lived on the fringes of society and were sometimes shunned by whites. More practically, it makes its members, many of them poor, eligible for government benefits ranging from education and health care to housing

``It's truly amazing. I'm almost speechless that this has finally come to fruition for us,`` Little Shell Chairman Gerald Gray said. ``Besides the dignity part and us fighting for this for over 150 years, it's going to provide access to services our people have never had access to but have always deserved.``

Providing services to the tribal members through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service would cost roughly $40 million over five years, or about $8 million a year, the Congressional Budget Office said in a March report. That figure was based on an enrollment of roughly 2,600 members, a number that Gray said was outdated and too low.

Tribal leaders first petitioned for recognition through the Interior Department in 1978. Members trace their other attempts back to the 1860s, when the Pembina Band of Chippewa signed a treaty with the U.S. government.

Recognition was granted by the state of Montana in 2000, but denied by the U.S. Interior Department in 2009.

Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, said he worked with Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines to convince Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get language recognizing the tribe into the defense bill.

``There were no deals cut here,'' Tester said moments after Tuesday's vote. ``This happened because Leader McConnell made it a priority.''

Daines said the Senate vote marked a ``historic day for the state of Montana`` and had been one of his main priorities.

Legislation recognizing the tribe was approved by the House last year but later blocked in the Senate.

Tester said a similar measure was the first piece of legislation he introduced after being first elected in 2006. Daines and Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, Montana's sole member of the House, also took up the Little Shell's cause after taking office.

The House passed the defense bill with the Little Shell provision included in a vote last week. It calls on the U.S. Department of the Interior to acquire 200 acres (80 hectares) for the Little Shell's members that could be used for a tribal government center, health clinic, housing or other purposes.

Gray said the tribe will work in coming months to identify the location of that land. The legislation says is must be within a four-county area of north-central Montana that includes Great Falls.

``It's going to take some time,`` Gray said. ``We want to build a nation and you've got to get it right.``


Sanders Announces $150B Plan to Expand Broadband Access

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is promising to invest $150 billion to bring high-speed internet to ``every household in America'' while breaking up and better regulating monopolies he says currently limit access to drive up their profits.

The Vermont senator unveiled a plan providing that funding in infrastructure grants and technical assistance to states and municipalities through Green New Deal climate-change fighting initiatives _ allowing them to build what he called ``publicly owned and democratically controlled, co-operative or open access broadband networks.''

Sanders also wants to set aside $7.5 billion to increase high-speed broadband in Native American communities nationwide and increase funding for the Federal Communications Commission's Office of Native Affairs and Policy.

Citing FCC data, Sanders said that in rural areas, about 30% of Americans lack access to broadband internet access.

The senator also says that, as president, he'd require all internet service providers to offer a ``Basic Internet Plan'' providing ``quality broadband speeds at an affordable price.'' He also vowed to break up internet service provider and cable monopolies, prohibit service advisers from providing content and wipe out ``anticompetitive'' mergers.

``It is outrageous that across the country millions of Americans and so many of our communities do not have access to affordable high-speed internet,`` Sanders said in a statement.

He isn't the only Democratic presidential hopeful promising to improve internet access in rural areas and other under-served communities. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to create a ``public option for broadband'' managed by a new Office of Broadband Access using an $85 billion federal grant. Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a plan to revitalize rural America that includes a $20 billion investment in rural broadband infrastructure.


Center Told to Stop Cultural Sage Burning at Rapid City Mall

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ A Rapid City mall has banned a Native American cultural practice following health complaints.

Rushmore Mall security recently gave the I Am Legacy youth outreach center a letter saying it could no longer burn sage because it was jeopardizing people's health.

The center's founder, Erik Bringswhite, calls the order ``a bit hurtful'' and says they didn't mean to harm anyone by burning about a nickel-sized amount of sage twice a day.

KOTA-TV reports the mall's general manager Sandy Brockhouse says the burning smell has sickened some people. Both parties verbally agreed to sage burning before the center moved in, but only when there is proper ventilation. And so far, that ventilation system has not been installed. Brockhouse says the center could burn it outside.


Information from: KOTA-TV,


Study: Native Hawaiians Have Fewer Healthy Years Than Others

HONOLULU (AP) _ A public health study says Native Hawaiians experience fewer years of good health compared with other ethnic groups in the state.

The study by University of Hawaii researchers published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health found Native Hawaiians have 14 less years of healthy life than other groups.

The study is based on a self-reported survey calculates the number of healthy years among the state's indigenous people and those with white, Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese heritages.

The study finds Native Hawaiians have 62.2 years of healthy life expectancy, compared with 75.9 years for Chinese, 74.8 for Japanese, 73.3 for Filipinos, and 72.1 years for white Hawaii residents.

The authors say the analysis provides a more complete estimate of population health than life expectancy studies.


Navajo Nation Woman to Seek GOP Nod for US House Seat

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ A northwestern New Mexico woman has announced she is running for an open U.S. House seat in New Mexico and wants to become the first Republican Native American female in Congress.

Karen Bedonie recently filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to seek the GOP nomination for open U.S. House seat in northern New Mexico.

The Navajo Nation businesswoman promises on her campaign website site to ``lift the government burdens off our shoulders." She also says a robust Second Amendment could address the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in the U.S.

Bedonie joins a crowded field of Republican and Democratic candidates running for the seat.

The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who is running for U.S. Senate.


First Nations Development Institute Seeks to Fill Three Positions

First Nations Development Institute ( is a Native-led nonprofit organization working to strengthen Native American economies to support healthy Native communities. For nearly 39 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of a wide range of assets they own – whether land, human potential, cultural heritage, natural resources, etc. – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities.

First Nations is now hiring for three positions -- a Lead Grants Officer, Senior Program Officer, and a Program Officer.

Lead Grants Officer

The Lead Grants Officer plays an essential role in all of First Nations’ grantmaking activities as well as assisting program officers with oversight of community grant partners. Primary responsibilities include overseeing the administration and implementation of First Nations’ grantmaking activities, managing First Nations’ grantmaking database, and working with program officers and others to ensure First Nations’ programs are following policies, procedures and best practices in all aspects of grantmaking.

Senior Program Officer

The Senior Program Officer (SPO) is responsible for the strategic planning and management of multi-year, complex projects.  The SPO will often direct the efforts of program officers and program associates to implement aspects of various projects.  The SPO is also responsible for the management and supervision of direct reports (i.e., consultants, grantees and fellows) providing direction, setting goals, giving feedback and coaching, and ensuring professional development and training.

The SPO will work in close collaboration with other First Nations staff, including the leadership team, senior program officers, program officers and coordinators; the finance department to ensure accurate accounting for grant-related income and expenditures; and First Nations’ development and communications staff members.  Overall, the SPO is responsible for ensuring timely, high-quality implementation of assigned programs, which meet budget parameters and evaluation expectations.

Program Officer

The Program Officer’s primary responsibility is to provide assistance and support to Senior Program Officers or Director of Programs in the administration and implementation of First Nations’ projects. In this capacity duties will include coordination of technical assistance and training, participation in onsite visits, grant management, monitoring consultant work that may include but not limited to developing consultant agreements, monitoring deliverables, and organizing files.

Program officer duties shall be performed in a timely manner, with documents, presentations and material developed in high quality in keeping with First Nations brand. Responsibilities also include organizing and maintaining program files; assist with grantee technical assistance needs and reporting, coordinate convenings, and work in close collaboration with First Nations’ Senior Program Officers and the finance department to ensure accurate accounting for grant related income and expenditures.

To learn more about these positions or to apply, please visit

To apply, submit a cover letter, resume and three references via email to Please note either "Lead Grants Officer" “Senior Program Officer” or "Program Officer" in the email.


Governor Appoints New Director of Nevada Indian Commission

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) _ A former public relations officer for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony has been named the new executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission.

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced the appointment this week of Stacey Montooth.

Montooth is a member of the Walker River Paiute Nation. She replaces longtime director Sherry Rupert, who resigned earlier this year to become director of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association.

Sisolak says Montooth has extensive experience in tribal relations in Nevada and a thorough understanding of the issues facing Nevada's 27 tribes. She starts her new job Sept. 1.

Wisconsin Native Americans Granted Funds For Green Projects

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Two Native American tribes in Wisconsin are receiving federal grants for renewable energy projects that tribe members say will help reduce costs and lead to energy independence.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Odanah received a nearly $1 million grant, while the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Crandon got a grant for more than $1.5 million. The grants, announced last month, will be used to install solar panels at tribal buildings.

The Wisconsin tribes are among 12 nationwide that received a total of 14 grants from the federal Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs worth a total of $16 million, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

``These projects will unleash sovereign Native American and Alaska Native energy development however each tribe believes is best for their community,'' U.S. Undersecretary of Energy Mark Menezes said in a statement.

The Bad River Band will use the money, in addition to about $1 million in cost sharing, to install solar panels at the health and wellness center located in Ashland, the wastewater treatment plant in New Odanah and the Chief Blackbird Center in Odanah.

The federal Department of Energy said projections show the tribe will save about $841,000 in energy spending over the next 25 years.

Dylan Jennings is a tribal council member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a public information officer for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. He said going green is one way the tribe is preparing for the future, noting that the tribes aren't against oil or coal.

``We firmly realize that we need to be doing our part in adapting to better and more efficient ways of living that are healthy for the environment,'' Jennings said.

Daniel Wiggins Jr., an air quality technician with the Natural Resource Department for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said the tribe's plan is to reduce current energy costs by 10% by 2025 and generate 10% of the tribe's electricity with renewable technology by that year.

The Forest County Potawatomi Community's grant will be used to install solar panels at eight tribal facilities in Milwaukee, on the tribe's reservation lands in Crandon and on its community center. Annual savings at the community center are expected to be more than $100,000 over 30 years.

Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio,


Indian Community School Connects Students With Culture

By MARK DOREMUS of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Mark Powless strolled the grounds of the Indian Community School in Franklin as its end-of-the-year powwow unfolded.

Drums pounded and dancers swirled in the afternoon light as parents, students, teachers and community supporters joined the festivities in June.

Powless is a member of the Oneida Nation and the director of Our Ways, the school's cultural curriculum.

``Powwows have come about over the years as a way of gathering, to understand each other even though we come from hundreds of different Native nations,'' he said. ``It's a celebration of all that's been accomplished and a look forward to what is coming up in the future in a social atmosphere.''

The powwow tradition is just a small but important part of the cultural programming at the Indian Community School, where the Our Ways initiative supports the school curriculum by connecting students with traditional practices and ways of life. The school, founded in 1969, serves 372 students from the greater Milwaukee American Indian community.

The nonprofit news outlet Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.

Our Ways focuses on Native American language, cultural values, history and sovereignty.

The powwow is not a formal part of the curriculum, but it does incorporate some of the same values, Powless said.

At a powwow, ``you should see people being brave, trying out something new, getting out there in front of their peers,'' Powless said. ``Always working on being humble. Trying to take the teachings of our elders that have been passed down to us about specific kinds of dances or how to maintain ourselves, being wise about those things, living an authentic life in the honest way that the Creator intended us to be.''

Audra Williams has two children enrolled in the school. She was an early advocate of the Our Ways initiative, which took several years to develop starting in 2015.

``It's amazing that it's happening now,'' Williams said. ``For those kids that are coming in, they're lucky. They're going to get so much, and that's who we need to get to, those younger minds where it'll set in and become their way of life.''

The Our Ways curriculum emerged from more than 800 interviews with Native people, Powless said.

The school's goal is to prepare students with an ``understanding of living in two worlds,'' said Head of School Jason Dropik. ``For us, it's just acknowledging the fact that both parts make up who they are, our students are not just Native, they come from many different cultures, and being urban that's a culture in and of itself, so that is also part of who they are.''


Senate Seat Passes To Granddaughter Of Navajo Code Talker

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ The granddaughter of the late World War II Navajo code talker and state legislator John Pinto will serve out the remainder of his term in the state Senate through 2020, New Mexico's governor announced.

Navajo Nation member and educator Shannon Pinto was appointed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to represent a district that extends from the Four Corners to Gallup.

John Pinto died in May at the age of 94 after serving over four decades in the Legislature.

He voted this year in favor of a successful bill to expand background checks on gun sales and was a supporter of abortion rights.

In a news release, Shannon Pinto said she will fight as a senator for common sense gun violence prevention measures and be ``a champion for efforts that support women and their personal health care decisions.''

New Mexico's Democrat-controlled Senate this year voted down legislation that would rescind the state's criminal ban on most abortion procedures. The law could be enforced if the Supreme Court were to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

Shannon Pinto has worked as a middle and high school math teacher in the town of Tohatchi.


Feds Missed 2nd Deadline for Congress' Tribal Safety Bills

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ U.S. officials tasked with carrying out federal public safety policy for tribes missed a deadline to provide input on legislation to curb violence against Native American women for a second straight month.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, had set a July 8 deadline for Interior and Justice Department officials to offer positions and guidance on a slate of bills that aim to stem domestic violence, homicides and disappearances of Native Americans on tribal lands.

Hoeven, who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, had set the deadline for both departments after criticizing officials for filing late testimony and saying they arrived at a hearing in June unprepared to fully discuss the merits of legislation.

A week after the new deadline passed, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Udall said that Justice officials had yet to provide positions on the legislation, while the Interior only provided ``partial comment.'' Udall, D-New Mexico, is a co-chairman of the committee with Hoeven.

An Indian Affairs committee spokeswoman said in response to inquiries from The Associated Press that the Interior's guidance on bills had been sent after the July 8 deadline, though she did not say which day. She and Interior officials would not release the documents that had been sent to the committee.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Justice Department told the AP that the department is working as quickly as possible to provide positions on the bills, and had provided a status update to the committee chairman's office.

``I was deeply frustrated when DOI and DOJ showed up completely unprepared to our committee's hearing on these critical bills,'' Udall said in an emailed statement. ``Weeks later, the administration still has not delivered on its promised `renewed commitment' to tribal public safety, failing to meet this deadline even after being granted an extension.''

Lawmakers need feedback from the Trump administration in their effort to take legislative action to address public safety for Native Americans, Udall said.

In recent months, a wave of bipartisan legislation in Congress has sought to boost coordination for crime-fighting among federal agencies and expand tribes' ability to prosecute non-Native Americans in sex assault cases and crimes against law enforcement and children.

The bills come in response to a national movement to build awareness of the deaths and disappearances of Native American women, who are victimized at alarming rates.

The most recent federal figures show more than half have encountered sexual and domestic violence at some point during their lives, with advocates saying the population is left vulnerable in part because their safety has been disregarded or ignored over the years.

In May, Attorney General William Barr visited Alaska, where tribal representatives told him about the lack of law enforcement in villages and slow response times to calls.

At last month's committee hearing, Tracy Toulou, director of the Justice Department's Office of Tribal Justice, said that visit had led the department's leadership to express a renewed commitment to public safety among tribes and Alaska Native villages.

Toulou also apologized to senators for the late testimony, explaining that the bills are complex and require wide review within the Justice Department. The review and clearance process can be lengthy and span multiple agencies.

Charles Addington, the director of the Office of Justice Services, which falls under the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs also apologized for the late filing of testimony at the hearing. He said at the time that his comments had been held up during a clearance process.

The Senate's Indian Affairs committee has been seeking immediate comment from federal officials on five specific bills, including Savanna's Act.

It proposes to increase tribal law enforcement's access to criminal databases, increase data collection on cases for missing people and set new guidelines for law enforcement's response to reports of missing Native Americans.

Associated Press writer Rachel D'Oro in Anchorage, Alaska, contributed to this report.


Nebraska Schools Could See New Debate Over Indian Mascots

Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska schools with Native American mascots could see a new debate over their team names and logos if some state officials have their way, but quick action on the issue seems unlikely.

Members of the Legislature's State-Tribal Relations Committee are looking into whether Nebraska should require schools to replace such mascots and may hold a hearing later this year. Some committee members said they don't see the need for statewide changes but would like school officials to discuss the issue.

Any proposed ban on Native American mascots would only apply to nontribal public schools, and the idea is certain to generate debate among the dozens that call themselves ``Braves,'' ``Warriors,'' ``Indians'' and ``Chiefs.'' The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs is looking into the issue, and the chairman of one of Nebraska's four recognized tribes said he'd support a state mandate.

``As much as people say it's meant as an honor, a lot of Native people see no honor in it,'' said Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. ``They're stereotypes. If you put other races of people into a mascot caricature, it wouldn't be acceptable.''

Several lawmakers on the State-Tribal Relations Committee said they would oppose any state mandate but want to encourage schools to talk about it. Sen. Anna Wishart, of Lincoln, said she'd support state assistance for schools that change their mascots to help cover the cost of new logos and letterhead.

``I think this is an issue best addressed in a grassroots way,'' Wishart said. ``I think it's important to make sure Nebraska is a welcoming place for everybody, especially in our schools.''

Sen. Robert Hilkemann, chairman of the State-Tribal Relations Committee, said he wouldn't mind a public debate but would rather leave the decision to individual schools, in part because the issue can divide people.

``If communities want to change their mascots, then that's fine. Let them do it,'' said Hilkemann, of Omaha. ``I don't want us a state to go in and start ordering schools to change the names.''

Matt Belka, a spokesman for the Nebraska Association of School Boards, also said name changes should be left to local districts.

Nebraska has more than 40 schools with Native American mascots. Although a few have retired them, none have done so recently. Omaha's Millard South High School switched from the Indians to the Patriots in 2000. In 1971, the University of Nebraska at Omaha changed its mascot from the Indians to the Mavericks.

In May, Maine became the first state to ban the use of Native American mascots in its public schools and colleges. The measure passed unanimously in the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills, but the debate was mostly moot because the last public school with a Native American mascot had already retired it a few months earlier.

Advocates who want to replace Nebraska's mascots say they perpetuate stereotypes about Native Americans and can hurt the self-esteem and academic performance of Native children.

``They weren't created to make Native Americans feel bad,'' said Jose Soto, a Lincoln activist and vice president for access, equity and diversity at Southeast Community College. ``I agree with that and would never argue that point. However, the important focus for me is the impact it has on those who are targeted. It's like, `You didn't mean to insult me, but you did.'''

Soto, who is Puerto Rican, said minorities who protest such depictions are often criticized for being too sensitive. Soto plans to present the issue to the Nebraska State Education Association, which represents public school teachers.

Left unchallenged, Soto said the stereotypes can lead to other actions, such as face-painting or wearing feathers and war whoops that Native Americans might view as mocking.

``It starts to feel very uncomfortable,'' he said.

But not all Native Americans agree.

Sen. Tom Brewer, of Gordon, the state's only Native American lawmaker, said none of Nebraska's school mascots offended him and he considered the issue a waste of time.

``When we go down rabbit holes on these little issues, we miss the opportunity to do things that could really help the Native population,'' said Brewer, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. ``A lot of the mascots in Nebraska represent a way of honoring the warrior spirit. If you're a school and you want a good mascot, you want to be the chiefs or the warriors. You don't want to be the fighting turtles.''


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FCC Proposal Could Boost Broadband Internet on Tribal Lands

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ The Federal Communications Commission has proposed giving rural Native American tribes a priority filing window for licenses that could expand internet access on their land.

The FCC has been working to revamp the way it issues licenses for the 2.5 GHz-band Educational Broadband Services spectrum.

It recently proposed eliminating the educational use requirement and letting tribes apply for licenses before they're auctioned.

The FCC will vote on the proposal July 10.

The spectrum largely is unassigned in the U.S. West and is seen as key to expanding 5G access.

The FCC says granting licenses to rural, federally recognized tribes would help establish or boost broadband coverage in underserved areas. Tribally owned entities, including tribal colleges and universities, also would be given priority for licenses.

The proposal won't affect existing license holders.


Echo Park Hasn't Changed Much Since Expedition 150 Years Ago

Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ In the time since the members of John Wesley Powell's 1869 expedition yelled at the canyon walls of Echo Park, an untold number of people have heard their own voices echo off Steamboat Rock eight, 10 or 12 times.

And before Powell got there, perhaps Native Americans and trappers lobbed their own voices at the cliffs to hear the phenomena.

On a map, the Yampa River twists downstream from its headwaters in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, cross-country through Routt and Moffat counties, until its flows mix with the Green River at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument.

Members of the 1869 Powell expedition were the first to make that map, and according to Powell's journal, they reached Echo Park on June 17, 1869 _ 150 years ago.

Powell and his men filled in one of the few remaining blank spots on the map of what is now the United States and, along the way, gave many landmarks their names, including Echo Park and the Gates of Lodore. At the time, the Colorado River was a line of best-guess drawn on maps of the West.

``They knew the Colorado River progressed down generally to Las Vegas, but the Grand Canyon north up to Moab _ most of that area was just blank on the map. They didn't have any real understanding of what was out there,'' said Ray Sumner, a Colorado River historian and anthropologist, who happens to be the great-great-grandson of Jack Sumner, the man who served as Powell's lead boatman on the 1869 expedition.

While maps were lost to whitewater on the 1869 expedition, Powell's later expeditions built upon what was learned in the first expedition to produce the first complete maps of the Colorado River.

After 150 years, Echo Park looks much the same as it did when Powell passed through. You can look out from a ledge above the confluence and watch the river wind around the ``foot of a rock about 700 feet high and a mile long,'' as Powell described the rock in his journal. And still, just as Powell wrote, ``willows border the river, clumps of box elder are seen and a few cottonwoods stand at the lower end.''

``These are words that were written 150 years ago, and we still have the ability to go back into very specific locations and see the direct inspiration for those words, and in many places, especially within Dinosaur National Monument, there are very little changes,'' said Sonya Popelka, a park ranger at Dinosaur.

``We can still experience the same experiences as well,'' she continued. ``Not just standing in the same place, but hearing the bird choruses. Seeing stars in the canyon. Hearing our words echo off those same rocks. Having that thrill and danger of rapids. That's something I think is really powerful. It's not just the words. It's the experiences of 150 years ago that have also been preserved here.''

For a thousand years, humans have passed through the cliffs of Echo Park, but that nearly wasn't the case.

Petroglyphs in the area point to the fact that humans were in Echo Park a thousand years ago. The first inhabitants were the Fremont people, who lived there 800 to 1,200 years ago. More recently, Ute and Shoshone tribes lived there. Many still live in the area today.

By the 1770s, Catholic priests passed through the area as they travelled to missions that had just been established in California. In the 1800s, the remote canyon lands attracted outlaws looking for places to lie low, while beavers and their pelts brought trappers and mountain men to the area. One group of them, trappers working for William Ashley's Rocky Mountain Fur Company, might've been the first Europeans to see Echo Park. Ranchers started trying to raise cattle on farms at the bottom of steep cliffs.

The National Monument was established in 1915, six years after fossil beds were discovered in what's now the western portion of the park, according to the National Parks Foundation. In 1938, the monument's boundaries expanded into the canyon lands it now occupies on the border of Colorado and Utah.

Echo Park also marked a turning point within the modern environmental movement.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation explored damming the Yampa and Green rivers just below Echo Park, which would've inundated the Yampa to its confluence with Little Snake River. Environmental groups fought the dam, arguing that placing a dam within the monument would violate the National Park Service Act of 1916.

The plan was abandoned in 1955, and the Bureau of Reclamation instead built a larger than originally planned reservoir on the Colorado River at Glen Canyon.

``Echo Park became that rallying cry for a lot of different conservation organizations that fought that proposal and got the dams removed out of the Colorado River Project, which protected that area in the way that we see it today,'' said Dan Johnson, chief of interpretation and visitor services at Dinosaur.

While it's easy to imagine Echo Park remaining the same for another 150 years, less water and changes to the habitat plants and animals use on the Yampa threatens that image.

Friends of the Yampa President Kent Vertrees explained that Echo Park serves as ``a living laboratory of modern river management,'' where the Green and Yampa meet. While there are reservoirs in the headwaters of the Yampa, the amount of water in the river still follows its natural ebbs and flows. Flows on much of the Green River are regulated by engineers releasing water out of Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

``Below this confluence and all the way down to Lake Powell, the Green River has this pulse of water at high water that is unmanaged and unregulated,'' Vertrees said. ``The Yampa is providing this level of wildness all the way down the Yampa itself and all the way down to Lake Powell.''

Johnson said this hybrid river, with its woody debris and sediment, ``restores the natural balance'' to the Green River below the confluence, which impacts everything from insects to endangered fish.

But those flows from the Yampa are seeing increased pressure, as more frequently, there just isn't as much water in the river. For a few days last year, the Yampa River dwindled down to a trickle in its sandy bed at Deerlodge Park.

Invasive species _ many of which take up more water than native plants _ are crowding riverbanks and spreading along the Yampa.

``We only manage this lower section of it,'' Johnson said. ``It's really going to take all of us who live along the entire river corridor and watershed working together if people feel this is something valuable to protect and preserve for the future.''


Information from: Steamboat Pilot & Today,


New Lakota-Translated Children's Book Honors History


Argus Leader

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ Garfield Elementary fifth-grader Jaeden Brugier has been learning to speak the Lakota language throughout the last year.

Yet for someone wanting to share the history and legends of his ancestors with his peers, he felt as though he's never had a true chance, he said.

The school library has less than five books translated in Lakota, and reading sessions often made him feel almost invisible, he said.

But a statewide effort by the South Dakota Humanities Council is about to change that by giving second graders copies of the 2019 Young Readers One Book "Tatanka and Other Legends of the Lakota People,'' the first book in the history of the Young Readers program translated in both Lakota and English, the Argus Leader reported.

The initiative comes after legislators passed a law in March to officially recognize O'ceti Sakowin, which is comprised of the dialects of Lakota, Dakota and Nakota, as the official indigenous language of South Dakota starting July 1. The law comes almost 30 years after South Dakota chose to honor its Native American heritage by forgoing Columbus Day and renaming the holiday Native Americans' Day.

The state is one of only a handful to change the holiday, and the language law also made it first state in the contiguous United States. The book depicts three legends authored and illustrated by Oglala Sioux Tribe member and Rapid City resident Donald F. Montileaux.

Students received the book this spring to read during the summer, a press release from the council states.

In the Sioux Falls School District, however, the books will go to third graders this fall through school libraries, so it's fresh in the students' minds when the author speaks at the South Dakota Festival of Books from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 in Deadwood, which hosted by the humanities council each year, said Ann Smith, the district's curriculum services program director.

Delaying the book's distribution also means getting it in the hands of more children, Garfield Elementary librarian Susan Thies said. She's been a librarian for two years and a classroom teacher for 19.

"We have such a transient population, they move (often) and have issues at home and food scarcity,'' Thies said. "So we always let the second graders know the (program) is coming up, that way in the fall this is ready to go for them.''

The book is a perfect way to give children insight into another language in a way that honors the Lakota history and connects with families who might not have a great relationship with public schools, including with those once prohibited and punished for speaking Lakota in schools years ago, Thies said.

Before this book, students who didn't feel connected to what they were reading often slumped in their chairs. Their faces drooped down or they wandered the library, not knowing what to pick out, she said. There was no emotion tied to the words they read, she said.

"This gives value to our history, to say, `I see you,''' Thies said. "When you walk into the libraries, you (often) see books about little white boys, little white girls and their dogs and cats. But do our African American students from Africa see themselves? Do our African American students from America see themselves? Our Lakota children will see themselves, they'll feel valued because the state has said this is important.''

Once she received one, Thies showed a copy of the new book to Bugier, who immediately spent time searching for the Lakota words he knew to match them with English words, she said. He immediately begged her to let him check the book out to bring it home to his family.

Unfortunately, the book wasn't ready to borrowed yet, Thies said. But that' didn't stop Bugier from being excited about the possibility, she said.

"Of course, we want children to be fluent in English, but at this age, (a book like this) opens the world,'' Thies said. "It's like a passport to different cultures and countries. And you get to know you're own country and culture better when you step out and learn about others.''

Bugier will be going to a new school next year, and though he isn't one of the third graders receiving the book, he knows the book will help bring awareness and understanding to part of his culture and current political issues in the state, he said.

And with a younger sister and cousin still on the campus, he also hopes his peers will use the books to continue a school club he started and wishes to carry it on to the middle school level, he said. Called the Circle of Courage Club, it's a club that allows anyone to teach anyone else about their culture and history, he said.

"I'm really hoping I see that book and other books that are Lakota and English, and if there is, I'll be really happy,'' Brugier said. "I'm hoping that when they learn everything, they'll be like me and try to research more and more about their Lakota history.''

For Thies, she hopes this will inspire more South Dakota authors to reach out to schools or to write and publish in indigenous languages now that the three languages are recognized, she said.

"When you read these books, the children sit up, and they sparkle,'' Thies said. "Our children who are sometimes so silent and never say anything, they can't stop praising their hand. And all of a sudden they're proud of their history. They're proud of the present.''


Information from: Argus Leader,


Native Veterans Get Another Chance to Receive Land


Anchorage Daily News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Nelson Angapak Sr. promised Sen. Ted Stevens to help Alaska Native veterans get another chance to apply for prized land allotments.

It took two decades, but the 74-year-old Yup'ik leader from Southwest Alaska has done it - with help from others, he points out.

Congress in March passed a major lands bill that opens the door for more Native veterans to apply for tracts of land of up to 160 acres. It follows a more limited application period in 1998, an opportunity that many veterans said wasn't enough.

The allotments were offered to Alaska Natives by the federal government beginning in 1906, after non-Native settlers and miners began arriving in the state and claiming Native lands.

The program's original restrictions prevented many from applying until the 1960s, as today's veterans were heading overseas during the Vietnam War era, said Kevin Illingworth, professor of tribal management at University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Nonprofit firms helped many Natives apply at the time. Applications surged. More than 13,000 allotments were awarded then, representing a tiny fraction of land in Alaska.

But the program ended in 1971, before many of the 3,000 or so Natives serving in the military returned to Alaska.

"The Native veterans never got that assistance, or they didn't know about this allotment push,'' Illingworth said.

Angapak planned to apply for the land-allotment program in his early 20s. But the U.S. Army drafted him in 1969, whisking him to Turkey to be a communications specialist for two years.

"As military personnel you get very engrossed and busy,'' he said recently. "I got drafted, and then I didn't even think about the allotments. The only contact we had back then with the village was mail, and we didn't apply.''

After he and others came home, they began advocating for a special application window for veterans.

But it wasn't until the mid-1990s that the issue got traction in Congress, after the Alaska Federation of Natives took up the issue, Angapak said. He'd risen through the ranks at the organization. He and fellow veterans began making regular pilgrimages to Washington, D.C., to testify on allotment bills submitted by the Alaska delegation.

"This has been very much a team effort, an AFN team effort,'' Angapak said.

It paid off in 1998, when Congress opened an 18-month application slot. It applied only to veterans in active duty between 1969 and 1971, a period of especially high service for Natives.

Angapak received his allotment after the 1998 law passed. It's near the village of Tuntutuliak where he was raised, not far from the land his father received around 1971. It connects him with generations to come.

"This is ours,'' he said.

Many Alaska Natives weren't so fortunate, like Bill Thomas, the former state lawmaker from Haines.

Thomas returned to Alaska from the war in 1968. A 21-year-old then, he thought only elders could apply.

"We came home and we self-medicated (with alcohol), we called it, for a while,'' said Thomas, 72 and also an advocate for the allotments. "We didn't think about filing for a Native allotment back then.''

About 250 veterans received allotments after the 1998 law passed, the Bureau of Land Management said.

The problems included the short application period and the need to prove occupancy of the land, Angapak said.

Realizing the provision's shortcomings, Angapak made his promise to Stevens, who later died in 2010.

"I told him as long as I have a little bit of breath, I'll keep working on it,'' Angapak said. "I told him we'll accept '69 to '71. And we'll keep working on '64 to '71.''

Angapak retired from AFN in 2013, a senior vice president. But with AFN's support, he joined other veterans in continuing to trek to D.C.

The efforts paid off in March, when the lands bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski passed. It included a version of a bill from Sullivan creating a new application round for those in the military from Aug. 5, 1964 - after President Lyndon B. Johnson sought congressional approval for direct involvement in Vietnam - to the end of 1971.

(Huge public lands bill signed into law will allow Alaska Native veterans to claim long-promised land, among other provisions)

Sullivan last month recognized Angapak's decades of "tireless'' advocacy, presenting him with a signed copy of the land legislation and a pen used by President Donald Trump to sign it.

"He's been one of our great Alaska Native leaders,'' Sullivan said.

The application period this time will be five years. The BLM must finalize the rules and begin accepting applications by September 2020.

Some federal lands will be off limits, including national forests and parks, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

But veterans won't need to prove occupancy of the land.

That will provide new opportunities for some, including Thomas. But there aren't expected to be many allotments available in Southeast, if any. The region is largely national forests.

Thomas will likely have to select a tract somewhere else in Alaska, he said. "A lot of people around here aren't happy about that,'' he said.

Conservation groups criticized this new round of allotments in a letter to Congress, saying it would privatize hundreds of thousands of acres for an issue that was addressed in 1998.

Angapak said he disagrees with the groups. But he supports their speaking out.

Freedom of speech is one of the liberties he and other veterans helped protect, he said.


Information from: Anchorage Daily News,


Vermont To Rename Columbus Day

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) _ Vermont has joined a handful of states in renaming Columbus Day to honor Native Americans.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill into law last week recognizing the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Half a dozen states, including Vermont, and several cities, have made the change.

The governors of Maine and New Mexico signed similar measures last month.

Native American tribes and others say celebrating Italian explorer Christopher Columbus ignores the effect that the European arrival in the Americas had on the native peoples, who suffered violence, disease, enslavement, racism and exploitation at the hands of the settlers.

Vermont's law states that ``Vermont was founded and built upon lands whose original inhabitants were Abenaki people and honors them and their ancestors.''

The act takes effect July 1.

Meet the T. Rex Cousin Who You Could Literally Look Down On

AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Scientists have identified an early cousin of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a pipsqueak that only reached the 3-foot height of a toddler.

The new dinosaur, found in New Mexico, is called Suskityrannus hazelae (SUE-ski-tie-ran-us HAY-zel-a), a name that uses a Native American word for coyote.

Sterling Nesbitt, a paleontologist at Virginia Tech, said this dinosaur lived about 92 million years ago _ millions of years before T. rex. It weighed up to 90 pounds, almost nothing compared to the nine-ton king of the dinosaurs.

Suskityrannus hazalae isn't the first or even smallest of the Tyrannosaurus family tree, but it provides the best example of how this family of modest-sized dinosaurs evolved into the towering horror of movies and nightmares.

The findings were announced Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

American Idol Contestant Hopeful of Future Career

By TOMEKA SINCLAIR, The Robesonian

PEMBROKE, N.C. (AP) _ Despite not making it to the live stage on the televised hit singing show ``American Idol,'' Lumbee Tribe member Alexis Jones is positive about the experience and the chance to show off her culture on a national stage.

``You can be from the swamps of Robeson County,'' Jones said. ``You can go outside of the Robeson County borders and do great things and still come home and represent your people.''

It's been a whirlwind of activity for the 23-year-old University of North Carolina at Wilmington student since she received her golden ticket to compete in Hollywood for a chance to make it as the reality show's top singing talents in the country. This was Jones' third season competing on the show, but her first time going to Hollywood.

She won the right after going through a series of auditions that led her to sing in front of celebrity judges Katie Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie in Idaho. She received three yes votes after singing ``Spotlight'' and ``All I Ask'' by Adele. The yes votes earned Jones a golden ticket to compete in the show's grueling weeding out process known as ``Hollywood Week,'' which aired March 24 and March 25 on ABC.

Jones didn't make the cut but was confident in her ability as an artist and excited about the doors that are now open.

``People were crying,'' Jones said about contestants who like her didn't survive the grueling week. ``I was like, `It's OK you guys. This is not the end of the road for me. It's just the beginning.'

``I was not upset because I knew no one in that building has what I had,'' she said. ``I knew I was the best and there was nothing that could make me think otherwise.''

One of the things that set her apart in the competition is her culture, Jones said. She was Miss Lumbee in 2015 so she has a strong cultural connection to the Lumbee tribe.

During her Idaho audition in front the celebrities, Jones had the chance to talk about heritage when Perry asked about the wampum squash blossom necklace she was wearing. The necklace is a traditional American Indian design centered by an upside down crescent and accented by large flowering silver beads or squash blossoms.

Jones said she was surprised Perry knew about the native jewelry, and was happy for the platform to teach all three judges about the Lumbee people.

``It gave me the opportunity to talk about my Native American culture,'' Jones said. ``I talked about the fact that it was made of wampum and not turquoise, and I showed off the East Coast factor of my native people. I took those three celebrities to school that day.''

Despite not making it further on the show, Jones has strong backup plans for her future.

She currently is in her final semester at UNCW and is studying Environmental Science and minoring in Geospatial Science. She is the only female intern on a Metcon site at the school and owns a makeup business. She will graduate in May and is balancing her final exam load with her newfound fame.

``Everything is getting really crazy right now but everything is going to be OK,'' Jones said. ``I'm not going to lie and say I have everything together, but I'm taking it one day at a time.''

She held an autograph-signing event in Lumberton on Friday. Jones said she hopes her success will encourage people with similar aspirations to chase their dreams.

``Whatever demographic you come from or whatever racial background you have, you can always incorporate that into whatever you want to do,'' Jones said.


Information from: The Robesonian,


EPA Seeks Bids to Clean Up Uranium Mines in Southwest

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) _ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking proposals from small business to clean up abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation and in northwestern New Mexico.

About 140 people attended a workshop held this week in Window Rock to learn more about the $220 million project.

The EPA expects to award multiple contracts to businesses with less than 750 employees.

The funding comes from a roughly $1 billion settlement with the successor of a company that mined the region. Companies extracted nearly 30 million tons of uranium for Cold War weaponry.

The EPA says it has funding to assess and clean up about 220 of the more than 520 abandoned mines.

Contract proposals are due May 28 for work on the reservation and around Grants, New Mexico.


Art Institute Delays Native American Exhibit Amid Concerns

CHICAGO (AP) _ The Art Institute of Chicago has indefinitely postponed a major pottery exhibit just weeks before it was due to open, citing concerns that the culture and voices of indigenous peoples aren't adequately represented.

Native American scholars against the scheduled opening said that much of the Mimbres pottery pledged to the Art Institute by one Chicago collector had come from ancestral gravesites.

``It's not art,'' said Patty Loew, director of Northwestern University's Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. ``If someone dug up your great-grandmother's grave and pulled out a wedding ring or something that had been buried with her, would you feel comfortable having that item on display?''

``Worlds Within: Mimbres Pottery of the Ancient Southwest'' was scheduled to begin May 26. The exhibit displays roughly 70 pieces of pottery from the Mimbres people. The pottery was created around A.D. 1100 in present-day southwestern New Mexico.

James Rondeau, the Art Institute's president and director, said that as the show's opening neared, it became obvious that more work needed to be done to include native voices in the project.

``The principal thing that we have not accomplished is to have an aligned indigenous perspective, scholarly and curatorial, with the project,'' he said. ``And I think that ultimately for us has been the crucial realization that our ability to reflect back what we were learning needed to be done in multiple voices, not just our voice.''

Kati Murphy, the museum's executive director of public affairs, said the delay came after officials conducted a Native American scholar's day meeting in December. The scholars gave the museum feedback about the need to collaborate with ``Native American nations who hold connections to the Mimbres people, including Pueblo leadership,'' Murphy said. The present-day Pueblos are the people believed to include descendants of the Mimbres.

The meeting was the first official discussion that included the scholars and ``was part of (the) larger process that led to our decision,'' she said.

Heather Miller, Chicago's American Indian Center executive, said she advised the museum that this issue touches a nerve and that the museum's decision to delay the opening is wonderful.

``Members of the (scholar's day group) were very adamant that this was not a good idea for them to move forward with,'' said Miller, one of the scholars. ``Now I feel great that our concerns and our issues were actually addressed by this institution.''

The postponement of the exhibit comes after the museum revamped displays of African Art in February.


This story has been corrected to show that a Chicago collector was not personally involved in the removal of artifacts from ancestral gravesites.


New Exhibit Features Recently Donated Inuit Art Collection

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ A new exhibition at the University of Michigan Museum of Art features a recently donated collection of Inuit art.

The museum in Ann Arbor is presenting ``Tillirnanngittuq'' (pronounced tid-ee-nang-ee-took), which showcases 58 works from the collection of Philip and Kathy Power that includes more than 200 stone sculptures and prints. The Powers gave the collection and $2 million to the museum last year.

The museum says the title of the exhibition translates from Inuktitut to ``unexpected.'' Most of the works on view are from the 1950s and 60s.

The term Inuit is used to characterize northern North America's native peoples.

UMMA Director Christina Olsen says in a statement that the exhibition marks ``an exciting new direction'' for the museum, which plans more Inuit art exhibitions, programs and research efforts.


Montana Tribes Renew Effort to Manage National Bison Range

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) _ The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have relaunched an effort to acquire a federal trust ownership agreement to manage National Bison Range in Montana.

The Flathead Beacon reports tribal leaders announced last week that they had notified the U.S. Department of the Interior and the state's congressional delegation of the plans to revisit a proposal to restore ownership of the 29-square-mile (76-square-kilometer) refuge.

The refuge operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is located completely within the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester says he is reviewing the proposal.

He says for the effort to be successful, it needs to guarantee public access and include local input as well as be supported by the entire congressional delegation.


Information from: Flathead Beacon,


State Bill Would Make November Alaska Native Heritage Month

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ November would be permanently declared Alaska Native Heritage Month under legislation previously in the state Senate.

The bill's sponsor, Anchorage Democratic Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, says introducing such bills is a way to show communities that lawmakers care. Gray-Jackson has also proposed permanently making February Black History Month in Alaska.

The Juneau Empire reports that former Gov. Bill Walker issued proclamations declaring November as Alaska Native Heritage Month, but those declarations weren't permanent.

Richard Peterson, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, says Walker's actions were appreciated. But Peterson says a permanent, more formal recognition would be meaningful.

Gray-Jackson says it's a priority for her to get monthly recognitions such as this secured in state law.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire,


Art Competition Brings in Diverse Collection of Artists

Muskogee Phoenix

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ Lucille Brisson-Dickinson studies her work with a critical eye.

The 70-year-old Wagoner resident dabs a paintbrush into color and then applies it to the canvas. A fence takes shape to go along with hills, mountains and trees already on the painting. ``This fence didn't look good sitting by itself,'' she said. ``I wanted to extend it.''

Brisson-Dickinson was demonstrating her talent at the annual Veterans Affairs Art Competition, held at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center. She also entered the competition.

``I'm having a lot of fun,'' the 28-year veteran of the US Army Nursing Corps said to the Muskogee Phoenix. ``If I wasn't painting, I'd be working on crochet or knitting.''

The art competition began in 2008 and has been under the direction of Deborah Moreno, the medical center's recreation therapist and creative art coordinator, since then. Entrants can submit their work in categories that include art, creative writing, dance, drama and music.

Their work is based on the criteria of creativity/originality, skill and total presentation. Anonymous judges do the judging, and the entrant who receives the most points qualifies for the national competition in Battle Creek, Michigan, in October.

``I'm very passionate about this,'' Moreno said. ``This offers veterans ways of dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and pain. We offer the materials to get them started and see if there might be an interest.''

The art work isn't limited to painting. Crochet work was recently on display at the entry of the VA Center, but one veteran _ Jack Stafford _ proudly displayed his work in making red cedar boxes. The eight-year veteran of the Air Force and member of the Creek Nation Honor Guard made a box that held material and feathers used for a gourd dance.

``I use Eastern Red Cedar (from Tennessee) because moths and mites don't like it. It's a natural insecticide,'' the Muskogee resident said. ``There are no nails and screws used except for the hinges or the clasps.

He also takes special care with each box he makes and uses velvet for the bottom of the box. He oils the outside but not the inside.

``It's really kind of an honor to make them as they're used by Native Americans. I just love making them,'' Stafford said.


Information from: Muskogee Phoenix,


Alaska Native Weaving Project Honors Survivors of Violence

Capital City Weekly

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ Lily Hope and her family are continuing her mother's work for an important cause.

The daughter of late acclaimed Chilkat and Ravenstail weaver Clarissa Rizal, Hope is an award-winning Tlingit weaver and weaving teacher who is now leading a new project called the Giving Strength Robe.

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares to create one traditional indigenous robe, a blanket-like garment worn over the shoulders. Once completed, the robe will be given to Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE), Juneau's gender-inclusive shelter for survivors of gender-based violence.

``I think (my mother) would say, `Doesn't this speak to the generosity of spirit of the weaving community and the community as a whole?''' Hope said in a phone interview. ``We're all giving our time to make collaborative art with a purpose.''

The project is the first effort by Spirit Uprising, a new nonprofit pursuing 501(c)(3) status that Hope and her family started to perpetuate the ancient art of weaving.

Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving are complex art forms traditionally practiced by Northwest Coast Alaska Native peoples, and make use of hand-twined textiles.

Hope said she got the idea for this robe after she saw a Facebook post in a Ravenstail and Chilkat Weaving Facebook group about work dedicated to survivors of domestic violence. The purpose of the robe is to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence in Alaska, and hopefully inspire positive feelings in survivors.

``We're all touched by it,'' Hope said. ``It's in our villages and communities.''

She added, ``We want to be bringing healing to those who may put this (robe) on their shoulders.''

Hope enlisted the help of her sister Ursala Hudson and aunt Deanna Lampe to get the project going, and put the call out to artists. The response was great, she said. More than 60 weavers from all over Alaska (including artists in Juneau, Anchorage, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Klawock, Sitka, Yakutat, Kake) committed to participating. Responses came in from other states, provinces and territories, too. Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, New Mexico, British Columbia and Yukon will also be weaving squares.

Hope and her family sent out kits to the weavers that included materials, warp and west spun from merino wool. The effort was funded through contributions from weavers.

``Everybody donated or bought a kit for $50,'' Lampe said. ``We're hoping to crowdfund some kind of a booklet that could be published with every weaver's photograph and a short biography.''

So far about 16 squares have arrived in Juneau and several more are on their way to the capital city. All the squares will be in a teal, purple and white color palette.

``It's been cool to see them come in,'' Hope said.

Although this is the first project for their budding nonprofit Spirit Uprising, it's not the first time Hope and her family have done a collaborative weaving project. Hope's mother Rizal previously headed Weavers Across the Waters Community Robe project.

About 40 weavers contributed to that project, which was first used in a ceremony in August 2016 before Rizal's passing in December of that year. Hope led the completion of a bottom row and border for that robe, and it was finished in 2017.

Hope, Hudson and Lampe were all involved in that project that was

``I called my sister and said, `Isn't it about time we did another collaborative robe?'' Hope said, adding, ``We were all like, `I guess we're going to do this again.'''

She said her mother likely would have thought they were crazy for attempting such a stressful, involved undertaking again.

``I think that she would say, `Didn't you learn how much work that was last time? Ha ha ha,'' Hope said enunciating each laugh.

Weavers helping with the Giving Strength Robe were instructed by Hope to approach their work with thoughts of resilience, healing and compassion for survivors of domestic violence, rather than righteous anger directed at perpetrators of violence.

``It's important to come to weaving with grace, strength and positive thoughts,'' Hope said. ``When we are in a state of rage or coming at it with more anger than peace, we don't weave.''

Saralyn Tabachnick, Executive Director for AWARE, said she is moved by the project and its intentions.

``AWARE is deeply touched about this project, and honored to be the recipient of such generous, thoughtful and caring weavers,'' Tabachnick said. ``We are super grateful and fortunate to have Lily Hope in our community, building community and providing leadership. The depth and breadth of this project and the process is inspiring.''

Lampe said she didn't hesitate when her niece asked if she wanted to participate.

``It's for a good cause,'' Lampe said. ``We all know the stats of domestic violence. Plus, we all know somebody who knows somebody.''

An average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the U.S., according to statistics compiled by the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Nearly 30 percent of women and 10 percent of men have experienced one of those forms of domestic violence.

The robe is also meant to be a companion piece of sorts for Tlingit master carver Wayne Price's healing totem pole for AWARE, which is similarly intended to bring awareness to gender-based violence and healing to its survivors.

The pole is expected to be raised this spring, but the robe will be coming later this year.

``We wanted to have it done at the same time, but it's just not realistic,'' Hope said.

When the Giving Strength Robe is completed, Hope said there will be a reception and first dance for the garment, ``so it can come alive and have the spirit of dance put into it.''


Jicarilla Apache Nation President Resigns

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) _ The president of the Jicarilla Apache Nation has resigned.

The Farmington Daily Times report s the northwestern New Mexico tribe announced Levi Pesata resigned from office on Friday, citing personal reasons.

The tribe says Vice President Edward Velarde will serve as interim president until a new president takes office.

During a special meeting in Dulce on Friday, the Jicarilla Apache Nation Legislative Council passed a resolution to hold a special election within 60 days to fill the vacancy.

Council members also thanked Pesata for serving five terms in office and for his contributions to the tribe.


Information from: The Daily Times,


Taxidermists Busy Repairing Trophies Damaged by Alaska Quake

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Some Alaska taxidermists have been busy repairing animal mounts that were damaged in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck the state's south-central region.

Anchorage television station KTUU reports taxidermists also have repaired Alaska Native art and other artifacts that were damaged in the Nov. 30 quake.

Russell Knight, who owns Knight's Taxidermy in Anchorage, is among those being called to repair animal trophies.

He says his shop has taken in about 75 mounts. That includes 30 mounts that were brought in immediately after the quake.

Knight says damaged trophies included broken sheep necks and deer with horns knocked off.

He says the shop was able to repair all but two of the damaged mounts.


Information from: KTUU-TV,


Oregon Governor: Feds Must Do More to Manage Fire-Prone Land

Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) _ The federal government needs to send more resources to do more forest thinning on public lands in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown said Thursday as she searches for ways to stem wildfires that are getting bigger and more dangerous.

One possible option Brown said she would consider is allowing some fires to burn, but keeping them away from populated areas, as well as prescribed burns and increased thinning.

``Fire is an instrumental part of maintaining a landscape, a healthy landscape,'' Brown told reporters in a conference call. But she is being cautious about the approach, citing a megafire in 2017 that wasn't immediately snuffed out and that threatened the town of Brookings on the southern Oregon coast.

``I still feel the pain of the Chetco Bar fire,'' she said, referring to the blaze that scorched 190,000 acres over several months.

Wildfire experts like John Bailey, an Oregon State University professor of silviculture and fire management, say fires make forests more fire-resilient and healthy. They advocate using prescribed burns more aggressively.

As part of her efforts, Brown announced Wednesday an executive order establishing the Oregon Wildfire Response Council, tasked with evaluating the current response system to large fires.

``We have to re-examine how we fight fire,'' Brown said Thursday, noting the current model has been used for a century. She said federal public lands have been mismanaged for many years.

Since the 1970s, there has been little timber harvesting on federal lands, with a resulting increase of 57 percent more standing timber in the United States than existed in 1953, according to a study by Donald Healy, a forestry expert from Lynnwood, Washington, who formerly worked for wood products company Boise Cascade. He said the situation has ``set the stage for disastrous forest fires.''

The council Brown established is to make recommendations in September on the future of Oregon's wildfire response infrastructure. She said Democrats and Republicans will be members as well as Native Americans, and that it will ramp up quickly.

If its recommendations require changes in state law, legislation could be prepared for the Legislature in time for its 2020 session, Brown said. Some recommendations could be handled by executive order, though determining funding could take a year or two.

Council chairman Matt Donegan should also make sure federal partners are fully engaged, Brown said.

The U.S. Forest Service doesn't currently dedicate enough resources to properly thin national forests, Brown complained in the conference call. U.S. Forest Service land comprises about 14 million acres in Oregon, or roughly one-quarter of the state.

Brown and the governors of California and Washington state wrote President Donald Trump on Jan. 8 about the issue.

``The federal government is a major landowner and a critical partner in preventing, fighting, and recovering from wildfires,'' Brown, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told Trump.

They asked the president to double the investment for managing federal forests in the three states, noting that the federal forest management budgets have remained flat in recent years.

Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., of Grants Pass, said he's encouraged by the governor's actions.

``This is a great first step, but we need to take a serious look at how we manage our forests, including creating a long term 100-year plan to prevent these massive fires from occurring in the first place,'' Baertschiger said.


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Tribal Land Known for Waterfalls Won't Allow Tour Guides

Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ The thousands of tourists who travel to a remote Native American reservation deep in the Grand Canyon each year to camp near a series of picturesque, blue-green waterfalls will have to do so without the benefit of professional guides.

The Havasupai Tribe has decided not to allow outfitters to escort visitors this year down the long, winding path that leads to its small, roadless reservation and on to its main tourist draw: towering waterfalls that cascade into swimming holes that are warm year-round.

Tourists can visit the waterfalls, either by reserving a room at the tribe's only lodge or by snapping up a coveted permit for one of its hundreds of camping spots scattered amid a creek. But starting in February, they'll have to find their own way to the reservation's waterfalls and caves, and carry their own food and gear.

Abbie Fink, a spokeswoman for the Havasupai Tribe, said the Tribal Council's decision isn't a reflection on the outfitters. Rather, she said the tribe wanted to manage all tourist traffic itself.

``It's not solving a problem. It's returning the enterprise to the control of the tribe,'' she told The Associated Press.

For years, the tribe has set aside spots for tour companies, which often bought permits in bulk. The outfitters paid a licensing fee of several thousand dollars, and some had elaborate setups with gourmet meals, inflatable couches and massage therapists. Most brought just the essentials.

Fink couldn't say exactly how much tour guides paid or how many licenses have been issued in the past. She said the Tribal Council would re-evaluate outfitter licenses for 2020.

The tribe relies heavily on tourism and estimates that between February and November, it gets 30,000 to 40,000 visitors per year to its reservation deep in a gorge west of Grand Canyon National Park that's accessible only by foot or helicopter, or by riding a horse or mule. The tribe does maintenance in the campground and on the trails in December and January.

The tribe doesn't allow day hikes, so visitors wanting to take in its waterfalls and other sights must reserve overnight trips in the campground or at the sole lodge.

Rooms in the lodge, which can be booked only by phone, are sold out for the rest of this year. Reservations for 2020 start June 1.

Permits for 2019 camping spots become available online Feb. 1 and are expected to sell out in minutes. People on social media have been strategizing for months about how to boost their chances, including by setting up an account early, recruiting friends and family to try to book a trip and repeatedly refreshing multiple internet browsers.

The permits are $100 per person per night Monday through Thursday, and $125 a night Friday through Sunday, slight increases over last year. The tribe grants about 300 camping permits a day, Fink has said.

Adam Henry, co-owner of Discovery Treks, books between 100 and 200 people on the Havasupai trip each year but has had to stick to offering trips in other spots of the Grand Canyon. He says that's not always welcome news for tourists intent on venturing to the waterfalls.

The hike takes tourists 8 miles (13 kilometers) down a winding trail through desert landscape before they reach the first waterfall. Then comes the village of Supai, where 600 tribal members live year-round. Another 2 miles (3 kilometers) down the trail is the campground with waterfalls on both ends.

``The blue-green water is what people want to see,'' Henry said. ``It's certainly a significant bummer for people who aren't going to be able to get out there on their own.''

Christine Miller, who works with the tour guide company Wildland Trekking, said tourists can find packing lists online and videos on Havasupai to help plan their trip. The advantage to having a tour guide is knowing how to reach the sights off the main trail, including other waterfalls, caves and swimming pools.

``There are not really any good maps out there to tell you when to cross, when not to cross'' the creek, she said.

The tribe temporarily suspended licenses for outfitters in 2016 in part to review the impact that supplies loaded onto pack animals had on the animals and the trail. Fink did not respond to questions about what came out of that review.


Pennington County Gets $300,000 Grant for Justice Overhaul Work

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ Pennington County has been given a $300,000 grant for a leadership circle to advise the county on criminal justice overhaul efforts.

The Rapid City Journal reports that Lis Hassett, coordinator for the county's overhaul efforts, says the funding will be used to compensate a very ``diverse, well-rounded, supported group of individuals.'' The grant is from the MacArthur Foundation.

The goal is to tackle the issues of overburdened leaders and the lack of Native Americans and other minorities in decision-making roles. The new funding comes after the county received $1.75 million in 2017 to start programs to cut the jail population.


Information from: Rapid City Journal,


Davenport Museum Adds 'Really Cool' Works to Collection

Quad-City Times

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) _ Looking at the photo, one can hardly believe it's real. An abandoned farmhouse rises from the middle of a rutted expanse of land in which absolutely nothing is growing.

There's only the house and the land, both barren.

Titled ``Abandoned Farm, Tractored Out,'' the photo of a Texas farm in 1938 is one of hundreds taken by Dorthea Lange (1895-1965) when she worked for the Farm Security Administration. She captured landscapes and faces directly affected by the Dust Bowl and the economic Depression.

This photo is one of 63 works acquired by Figge Art Museum in 2018 as the Davenport cultural institution continues to build its collection in key and affordable areas.

The number isn't as big as in 2017 when 182 works were acquired, but there is ``really cool, important stuff, nonetheless,'' said Andrew Wallace, director of collections and exhibitions.

Key collecting areas include works by women _ because they are underrepresented _ as well as pieces by Midwesterners, photography in general and contemporary and Regionalist art, Wallace told the Quad-City Times .

The museum also added four hugely colorful Haitian paintings to complement the collection started by gifts from the late Dr. Walter Neiswanger and its first piece of street art.

About 40 works were donated and the remainder were purchased, Wallace said. Money for purchases comes from an acquisitions-only endowment fund set up nearly 90 years ago by the former Friends of Art.

Two of the new works are in display now, a 1936 photo of the Brooklyn Bridge and an oil painting, both by women.

The photo by German-born Ilse Bing (1899-1998) is in the gallery that contains Regionalist works of the 1930s. Her urban scene is considered a good counterpoint to the more agrarian-themed works by Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry, Wallace explained.

While Wood was revolting against the city, ``the reality was that artists were flocking to New York because that's where you went to work and study,'' he said. It was a place of new ideas.

The painting titled ``High Wind, High Tide'' is in the space off the second-floor elevator. The oil by American Jane Wilson (1924-2015) consists of different shades of green with white highlights and is painted in such a way that it is difficult to tell where the sky ends and the water begins.

In addition to being a woman, Wilson gets bonus points for being born in Iowa.

Other highlights in the 2018 acquisitions:

_ A color photo called ``Main Street Laundromat'' taken in 2012 by Kathya Maria Landeros (1977 -). It is one in a series exploring Mexican-American identity and the immigrant experience. The laundromat is in the state of Washington where migrant workers come to pick apples and pears, Wallace said.

_ A 1936 picture of sand dunes by American photographer Edward Weston (1886-1958), whose works are known for their contrasts in texture and light. His work is found in most major American museums.

_ A picture of Half Dome in California's Yosemite Valley, taken by William E. Dassonville (1879-1957) in 1906, more than a decade before the more famous Ansel Adams began his work.

_ ``Wooden Indian,'' a painting by Native American artist Fritz Scholder (1937-2005) who broke new ground in the way Native Americans are portrayed in fine art. His goal was to ``paint the Indian real, not red.''

Scholder ``is extremely well-known in collections all over the world,'' Wallace said. ``He is an important American painter, important abstract painter, important figurative painter. We're happy to have this hugely important work by him.''

_ ``XOXOXO'' by Puerto Rican-American artist Dan Monteavaro (1975- ), aka Moncho 1929, is the Figge's first example of street art-inspired work.

Large red X's and O's are painted against a background that looks like a blown-up comic book page.

_ ``Great Wall of Poverty'' is a large work by African-American artist Michelangelo Lovelace (1960- ) who is being collected by museums throughout the country, Wallace said.

The painting shows a street scene with a large wall dividing the ``haves,'' represented by skyscrapers, from the ``have nots,'' represented by about 75 people engaged in drug dealing, pick pocketing and soliciting for prostitution.

A child carries a sign that asks ``Where's Daddy?'' and a billboard advises to ``Play the lottery, it's your only hope.''

The artist ``intentionally made his work look child-like, but his themes are weighty,'' Wallace said. ``We like it because you can show it to kids and you can talk about these things, but it's not so graphic as to be disturbing.''


Information from: Quad-City Times,


Granddaughter Works to Save Barry Goldwater Photo Collection

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — In Alison Goldwater Ross’ earliest memories of her grandfather Barry Goldwater, there’s always a 35mm camera hanging from his neck.

The senator photographed more than 15,000 images of Arizona’s landscapes and Native Americans over his lifetime. Twenty years after Goldwater’s death, Ross wants to preserve the Republican icon’s photographs, with some newly digitized images showcased this month in Arizona Highways magazine and next month at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.

The project was launched after Ross discussed her grandfather’s work with her uncle Michael Goldwater, the family historian since the senator died in 1998 at the age of 89. Now 55 and living in Atlanta, Ross said she adored accompanying her “bigger than life” grandfather on the Arizona campaign trail and meeting celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor. Like his other grandchildren, she called him by the nickname “Paka.”

“I practically had an anxiety attack just thinking about what was happening to the images. They had been sitting around for so long,” said Ross, the daughter of Joanne, the oldest of the four Goldwater children.

After consulting with family members, Ross in January formed the Barry & Peggy Goldwater Foundation, which holds the rights to the photographs. The project came together with funding from the Salt River Project, a water and power provider that supports local arts and culture.

All photographic film deteriorates as it’s exposed to moisture and heat, and Michael Goldwater said preserving the images had long been a concern.

“She’s really doing a great job getting interest in the project,” he said of his niece. “We totally support her. My father wanted his work saved for future historians and researchers.”

His father Barry was born in 1909 in Arizona Territory three years before statehood and took his first pictures as a boy with his mother’s Brownie, a popular box camera that introduced photography to the masses.

After his wife, Peggy, gave him a camera on their first Christmas together, Goldwater documented the diversity of Arizona’s tribes and landscapes, mostly in black and white with view cameras like the Graflex and Rolleiflex. Those images included the dramatic cliffs and sculpted mesas of places like the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, the deeply lined face of an elderly Navajo man, and two young Navajo girls tending their sheep in the snow.

Goldwater made color photos of his family with the 35mm and had a movie camera as well.

“You can go anyplace in that state,” Goldwater said in a 1985 interview about the best location in Arizona to take pictures. “Anyplace. From the Mexican border clear up to the Utah border, it’s all photogenic. In the south you have the desert. You have the biggest stand of pine trees in the world in the central part. ... You can literally spend your life out there and never quite get it all.”

Goldwater’s work earned him a lifetime membership in the Royal Photographic Society and the praise of noted landscape photographer Ansel Adams, who described the senator as a “fine and eager” amateur photographer who was as accomplished as any professional.

Another granddaughter, Anna Goldwater Alexander, the daughter of Michael and director of photography at Wired magazine, called the senator a “statesman who recorded Arizona history through the lens of a camera” in Arizona Highways’ December issue.

“When I go back through his archive today, I can’t help wondering whether he realized his beautiful photographs not only documented history, but also revealed the sensitive side of his dynamic personality,” Alexander wrote.

As a politician, Goldwater wrote the best-selling “Conscience of a Conservative” and in 1964 famously declared that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” when accepting the Republican nomination. The man known as “Mr. Conservative” lost the presidential race in a landslide to Democratic incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson.

Goldwater served five terms as a senator, from 1953 to 1965 and 1969 to 1987, and was succeeded by John McCain. The former Air Force pilot who served in WWII was also known as the elder party statesman who persuaded Richard Nixon to resign in 1974 when it became clear the president would not survive the Watergate investigation.

Arizona Highways regularly showcased Goldwater’s photographs over the decades, and this month’s special collector’s issue with 46 of his photographs quickly sold out.

“I never had the privilege of meeting the gentleman, but I feel like I know him,” said Arizona Highways Editor Robert Stieve. “He has been a big part of our history since 1938.”

Most of the photos showcased in the special edition also go on display Jan. 6 through June 23 at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West as Photographs by Barry M. Goldwater: The Arizona Highways Collection.

Although many images remain with the family, big parts of the collection are also housed in three institutions: the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the Hayden Library at Arizona State University in Tempe and the Heard Museum in Phoenix. Ross said the family commissioned the first bit of digitization, but the photography center next year will also start digitizing the hundreds of large format images there, with repair of each negative taking from two to eight hours.

Goldwater also was an avid collector of kachina dolls, wood carvings of Hopi spirits. He donated 400 of them to the Heard Museum in 1969.

Tricia Loscher, the western museum’s assistant director and chief curator of the Goldwater exhibit, said that as a Heard intern in the 1990s she was tasked with cataloging his kachina dolls. With the photo show, “I feel like I’m coming full circle,” she said.

Like Goldwater, Loscher is a lifelong Arizona resident, and she said she appreciated his photographs of the Southwest, images she said “could never be replicated in the Midwest, Northwest or any other place in the world.”

The photographs, she said, “reflect his own brand of sensitivity and clarity, which came from being a native of Arizona, the time in which he lived and the love and respect he had for life.”


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Woman Admits Embezzling from Blackfeet Head Start

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) _ A Montana woman has admitted her role in a scheme in which employees at the Blackfeet Tribe's Head Start program falsely claimed a combined 7,800 hours in overtime pay.

The admission by 60-year-old Denise Sharp of Browning in federal court in Great Falls comes after four other defendants previously pleaded guilty in the scheme involving $232,000 in unearned pay.

A sixth defendant died while her case was pending.

Sharp's guilty plea must be accepted by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris. Sentencing was set for March 20. She faces potential prison time and $38,711 in restitution.

Two defendants already sentenced in the case each received two years of probation and were ordered to pay restitution.

Prosecutors said the tribe repaid the federal government over $250,000 for disallowed overtime and other costs.


Oglala Sioux Tribe's New Police Chief Revamps Department

Robert Ecoffey. (Photo Credit: Rapid City Journal)

PINE RIDGE, S.D. (AP) _ The Oglala Sioux Tribe's new police chief has revamped the department six months into the position, bringing new ideas and programming to the law enforcement agency that was lacking leadership and manpower.

The tribe's police chief Robert Ecoffey tells the Rapid City Journal that the biggest impact the last six months has been the number of officers the department has spread throughout Pine Ridge Reservation. He says the Oglala Sioux Tribe's police department now has 54 police officers, compared to 24 officers in April.

Ecoffey says he's assigned three full-time officers to work on enforcing the tribe's drug and alcohol laws on the reservation.

Many people thought illegal alcohol sales would decrease after the border town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, shuttered its beer stores, but Ecoffey says he's seen more bootlegging.


Information from: Rapid City Journal,


400 Years Later, Natives Who Helped Pilgrims Gain a Voice

Associated Press

PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) _ The seaside town where the Pilgrims came ashore in 1620 is gearing up for a 400th birthday bash, and everyone's invited _ especially the native people whose ancestors wound up losing their land and their lives.

Plymouth, Massachusetts, whose European settlers have come to symbolize American liberty and grit, marks its quadricentennial in 2020 with a trans-Atlantic commemoration that will put Native Americans' unvarnished side of the story on full display.

``It's history. It happened,'' said Michele Pecoraro, executive director of Plymouth 400, Inc., a nonprofit group organizing yearlong events. ``We're not going to solve every problem and make everyone feel better. We just need to move the needle.''

Organizers are understandably cautious this time around. When the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing was observed in 1970, state officials disinvited a leader of the Wampanoag Nation _ the Native American tribe that helped the haggard newcomers survive their first bitter winter _ after learning his speech would bemoan the disease, racism and oppression that followed the Pilgrims.

That triggered angry demonstrations from tribal members who staged a National Day of Mourning, a somber remembrance that indigenous New Englanders have observed on every Thanksgiving Day since.

This time, there's pressure to get it right, said Jim Peters, a Wampanoag who directs the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs.

``We'll be able to tell some stories of what happened to us _ to delve back into our history and talk about it,'' Peters said. ``Hopefully it will give us a chance to re-educate people and have a national discussion about how we should be treating each other.''

The commemoration known as Plymouth 400 will feature events throughout 2020, including a maritime salute in Plymouth Harbor in June, an embarkation festival in September, and a week of ceremonies around Thanksgiving.

The Mayflower II , a replica of the ship that carried the settlers from Europe to the New World four centuries ago, will sail to Boston in the spring. That autumn, it will head to Provincetown, at the outermost tip of Cape Cod, where the Pilgrims initially landed before continuing on to Plymouth.

Events also are planned in Britain and in the Netherlands, where the Pilgrims spent 11 years in exile before making their perilous sea crossing.

But the emphasis is on highlighting the often-ignored history of the Wampanoag and poking holes in the false narrative that Pilgrims and Indians coexisted in peace and harmony.

An interactive exhibit now making the rounds describes how the Wampanoag were cheated and enslaved, and in August 2020 tribal members will guide visitors on a walk through Plymouth to point out and consecrate spots where their ancestors once trod.

There are also plans to invite relatives of the late Wampanoag elder Wamsutta ``Frank'' James to publicly read that speech he wasn't allowed to deliver in 1970 _ an address that includes this passage: ``We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end.''

``The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans,'' the speech reads.

Dusty Rhodes, who chairs a separate state commission working to ensure the commemoration has a global profile, said she hopes it all helps make amends for centuries of ``mishandled and misrepresented'' history.

``The Pilgrims were the first immigrants,'' said Plymouth 400's Pecoraro. ``We're in a place in this country where we need solidarity. We need to come together. We need to be talking about immigration and indigenous people.''

Plymouth, nicknamed ``America's Hometown,'' is sure to draw a crush of 2020 presidential candidates who will use its monuments as campaign backdrops. With President Donald Trump, Queen Elizabeth II and other heads of state on the invitation list, state and federal authorities already are busy mapping out security plans.

Wampanoag tribal leader and activist Linda Coombs, who's helped plan the commemoration, is skeptical that anything meaningful will change for her people.

``It's a world stage, so we'll have more visibility than we've had in the past,'' she said. ``We'll see if it's enough. It'll be a measuring stick for all that has to come afterward.''


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9/11 Museum Honors Mohawk Ironworkers with Exhibit

Skywalkers: A Portrait of Mohawk Ironworkers at the World Trade Center opened on Friday, November 16.

Generally unknown to the public, Mohawk ironworkers helped shape the New York City skyline, including the twin towers and the newly rebuilt World Trade Center. Because of their connection to the towers, some of these ironworkers volunteered in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks.

The exhibition revolves around Melissa Cacciola’s tintype portraits of Mohawk ironworkers, exploring the connection between these ironworkers and the World Trade Center site. It will help illuminate the immense contribution generations of these men have made to the city, especially in its darkest moment.

To accompany the portrait photography, the Museum team is also recording an audio guide in the Kahnawake and Akwesasne dialects of the Mohawk language. “We are very proud of this particular initiative to really engage the diverse, multi-faceted community of those impacted by the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” stated a Museum spokesperson.

To preview the exhibit, visit Melissa Cacciola’s website.

To attend a special informational event on December 16th with the artist, Kahanwake Council Chief Lindsay LeBorgne and Local 40 Business Manager Robert Walsh, visit 9/11 Memorial & Museum.


OSU Hopes to Attract Native American Students to Sciences

The Oklahoman

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A group of Native American high school students handled human bones and organs during a recent field trip designed to spark their interest in science and medicine.

Taking the students on a tour of the 206 bones in the body was Brandon Postoak, a first-year medical student at Oklahoma State University's Center for Health Sciences.

Postoak is Chickasaw and Choctaw, which makes him an important role model, said Kent Smith, a paleontologist and anatomy professor.

The lack of Native mentors is the greatest barrier to recruiting Native American students to careers in science and medicine, said Smith, who is Comanche and Chickasaw.

``We're the overlooked minority, but the largest one in Oklahoma at 12 percent,'' he told The Oklahoman .

Smith _ associate dean in the Office for the Advancement of American Indians in Medicine and Science at OSU's Center for Health Sciences _ heads the Native Explorers program to introduce Native students to science.

Recently, about 40 high school students attending the national conference of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society at the Cox Convention Center took a field trip to OSU-OKC to hear Smith and others talk about careers in medicine.

Of the 30,000 students who graduated from medical school last spring, only about 100 were Native Americans, Smith told the students.

``There are just not many applying,'' he said.

OSU-OKC President Brad Williams, a member of the Choctaw Nation, said he invited the students to campus to promote health careers.

Williams asked them to think about ``your talents and skills, and how can you use the gifts you have for the greater good.''

Celine Cortes, an OSU graduate student in biomedical sciences, showed the students normal and diseased human organs.

``It looks like a pork chop,'' one student said when Cortes displayed a heart.

The brain drew the most interest.

``What's this?'' Cortes asked, pointing to the lower brain.

``It's the medulla oblongata,'' she said, warning the students to be careful not to injure theirs. ``It controls your breathing and heart rate.''

After her presentation, the students were invited to put on gloves and closely examine the organs.

``We have a keen interest in all of you,'' said Tom Anderson, a Cherokee who is executive director of the Association of American Indian Physicians.

``You have an inherit responsibility as a tribal citizen to make the world better for those coming after you,'' he said. ``Remember your heritage and your culture.''


Information from: The Oklahoman,


Native American Graduation Rate Improves in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ The high school graduation rate for Native Americans in North Dakota is rising, but a significant disparity persists when compared to the overall student population.

Data recently released by the state's Department of Public Instruction show that the 2017 graduation rate for Native American students was 67.3 percent, up from 65.2 percent in 2016. Findings also show that dropout rates have decreased for Native American students, which represent about 10 percent of the K-12 student population in North Dakota.

But the report identified a 23 percent gap in 2017 graduation rates between Native American students and their white counterparts, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler called the Native American graduation rate increase a ``good start,'' but said that there's ``a lot of work ahead of us.''

North Dakota education officials identified the need to improve Native American graduations rates a few years ago, Baesler said. The state analyzed how instruction could be provided differently to Native American students both on and off the reservation, adding a cultural component to the K-12 curriculum called Native American Essential Understandings.

``Once you get past the idea of identifying there's a problem, you can start to begin to work on a solution,'' she said.

The Department of Public Instruction met twice with tribal leaders on all five of the state's reservations last year, Baesler said. The meetings were part of the state's compliance with federal education law Every Student Succeeds Act, which includes a section about tribal engagement.

Baesler said the meetings ``broke down some barriers'' between the department and tribal government.

The department will also continue to administer its Native American Needs Assessment Survey, said Lucy Fredericks, director of the department's Office of Indian/Multicultural Education. The agency will send out a survey next month.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,


Ranchers, U.S. Square Off Over Fencing at National Preserve

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Miles of fencing separating a national preserve from forested grazing pastures in northern New Mexico have been compromised over the years by wildfire, falling trees and herds of elk.

Cattle have found their way through the porous border of Valles Caldera National Preserve, their numbers escalating over the dry summer months to what park managers described as ``critical mass'' despite attempts by some owners to herd the livestock out on horseback.

Park rangers initiated a roundup last week after getting complaints from visitors and anglers, prompting a showdown with ranchers who say cattle were held with little food or water and it's up to the federal government to mend the fences.

Chris Lovato said he spent much of the summer gathering cattle that had wandered out of his grazing allotment on the adjacent Santa Fe National Forest in search of grass and water in an area hit hard by drought.

``It became a revolving door because 80 percent of the fence is down,'' the 70-year-old rancher said.

Each time, he called park rangers and forest managers to let them know he would be riding in on horseback. He also asked whether the fence would be fixed.

The answer, he said, was no.

In New Mexico, state law puts the burden on landowners to erect fences if they want to keep out trespassing animals. Before Valles Caldera was turned over to the Park Service, the trust that managed the expansive property handled the maintenance, and forest officials say it's generally a shared effort among neighboring property owners.

But officials at Valles Caldera say federal courts have upheld the principal that state fence-out laws are generally pre-empted by U.S. regulations requiring livestock owners to keep their animals off certain federal lands.

``While we will continue to do our part to maintain our boundary fences, there's no obligation for the Park Service to fence out potential trespass livestock under state laws,'' preserve Superintendent Jorge Silva-Banuelos said. ``The adjacent livestock owners do have a role to play in the maintenance of their allotment fences that border the preserve.''

Rather than issuing citations or fines, preserve officials said they wanted to handle the trespassing cattle informally by rounding them up and calling a state brand inspector to identify the owners so they could be trucked out.

Ranchers argue that the preserve should have posted a notice of their intention to impound the animals. They say more than 300 cows, calves and some bulls were corralled without hay and with little water for days until they could make the 300-mile (483-kilometer) roundtrip to trailer the livestock home.

One cow died, and ranchers have reported that the animals were in bad shape.

Lovato made multiple trips last weekend to move eight loads of cattle after he was told he wouldn't be allowed to herd them by horseback less than 2 miles back to his allotment.

``The federal government, instead of helping us, they're just punishing us after what we faced this summer,'' he said, referring to the challenges of the drought.

Silva-Banuelos said trespassing livestock have long been a problem at the preserve and federal regulations spell out how it must be handled.

``It's a pretty routine activity, but as we start getting more and more complaints from visitors and anglers, it's something that we have to make sure that we're upholding our obligations to protect and preserve the resources that Congress established as a national park,'' he said.

Dubbed the ``Yellowstone of the Southwest,'' Valles Calderas is home to vast grasslands, the remnants of one of North America's few super volcanoes and one of New Mexico's most famous elk herds. The bear claw-shaped ring of mountain peaks that form the caldera is culturally significant to neighboring Native American tribes.

Gary Ziehe, who was the first executive director of Valles Caldera after the federal government bought it, said the fence has been difficult to maintain since some stretches cross remote and rugged territory.

Ranchers hope a solution can be found, and Silva-Banuelos said he plans to meet with some of them.

``We want to be good neighbors,'' Ziehe said.


Oil Company Facing Tribal Opposition Proposes More Wells

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ An oil company facing tribal opposition to drilling wells on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation close to Lake Sakakawea has proposed 23 more wells near the Missouri River reservoir.

The federal Bureau of Land Management is reviewing drilling permit applications from Slawson Exploration, some for wells less than 1,000 feet from the lake, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

A federal judge last year halted the drilling of proposed wells when the Three Affiliated Tribes argued they should be farther from the lake under tribal policy that requires a 1,000-foot setback and tribal approval for drilling within half a mile of the lake.

The lake is the tribe's primary source of drinking water, and also a tribal cultural and recreational resource.

The company challenged the order and the judge reversed it . The company is drilling on private land on the reservation in northwestern North Dakota and developing minerals under the lake that are not owned by American Indians. The company said those wells should be complete by late November.

``There's no application of that tribal law to these projects,'' said Eric Sundberg, Slawson's vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs.

The tribe continues to fight the earlier ruling, maintaining that tribal regulations should apply to all oil development within its reservation boundaries.

``If there's a contamination or impact to occur ... we're all going to be impacted one way or another,'' tribal Chairman Mark Fox said.

The BLM is accepting comments on the new drilling permit applications through Oct. 5.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,


BIA Law Enforcement Seizes 17 Lbs. of Heroin & Methamphetamine on Pueblo Reservation

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke applauded the efforts of a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Office of Justice Services (OJS) K-9 Police Officer who recently took more than 17 pounds of deadly drugs off the streets. The BIA officer was monitoring vehicle traffic on Interstate 25 on the San Felipe Pueblo Indian Reservation when he conducted a traffic stop resulting in the arrest of an individual, and the seizure of approximately 15.9 pounds of methamphetamine and 1.25 pounds of heroin.

A field test of the substances was conducted and returned positive results for the presence of methamphetamine from one of the fifteen packages and heroin from the one of packages. One package did test positive for heroin and had an approximate weight of 1.25 pounds (567.67 grams). On Thursday, August 30, 2018, a Criminal Complaint was filed in the District of New Mexico and the suspect was held for further court proceedings.

"Our Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officers are the front line in America’s ongoing fight against opioids," said Secretary Zinke. "I applaud their fine efforts today and every day. Opioids have had a disproportionately negative effect on American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and as Secretary of the Interior, I understand how imperative our efforts are on this urgent issue. The DOI Opioid Task Force is doing a great job. I thank President Trump for his great leadership in helping us find creative ways to solve this crisis, and I look forward to a day when opioids no longer claim the lives of so many of our citizens."

"Thank you, Secretary Zinke and the hard working BIA-OJS officers on the ground, for helping to keep Indian Country safe," said Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney. "The President's Initiative is directly impacting the families within our tribal communities."

The Department of the Interior is committed to making available resources required to fight drug abuse, and earlier this year Secretary Zinke established the Department of the Interior’s drug fighting Joint Task Force to help achieve President Donald Trump's mission to end the opioid epidemic and make America safe. So far, the task force has made 155 arrests and confiscated approximately 1,155 pounds of illegal drugs. Secretary Zinke has continually worked with tribes to carry out President Trump’s directive to stop the drug and opioid crisis, conducting dozens of tribal visits to see the affected communities, while listening and learning about how to fight the crisis on the ground.


Wisconsin Commercial Fishing Operations Record Numbers

BAYFIELD, Wis. (AP) _ Commercial fishing operations near the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior are reporting record numbers of whitefish and a strong recovery of lake trout since a decline in the early 2000s.

Craig Hoopman of Lake Superior whitefish told the state's Natural Resources Board that he's seeing record numbers of young whitefish and a strong rebounding of lake trout numbers, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .

Fishing has been exceptional so far this year, said Hoopman, who chairs the state Department of Natural Resources Lake Superior Commercial Fishing Board.

``We're averaging between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds of whitefish per day in the traps right now and releasing thousands of sub-legal fish,'' said Hoopman. ``There's just multiple year classes of fish.''

White fish is the most sought-after species, but Hoopman said he's also seeing strong numbers of lake trout after a decades-long population decline that began in 1950s.

``There's around three year classes of lake trout that I'm seeing daily that are extremely large,'' he said. ``Very nice, beautiful-looking fish, healthy, the whitefish, the lake trout, all the species that I'm seeing every day, they are feeding well, there just healthy-looking fish.''

Lake trout populations crashed during the 1950s and 1960s due in part to the introduction of invasive sea lamprey, said DNR fisheries biologist Brad Ray.

The DNR, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission have worked for decades to reduce the numbers of lamprey to reduce, which has allowed the lake trout populations to recover, according to Ray.

Hoopman credited refuges near the Apostle Islands for letting the whitefish and trout populations boom.

``We have a fishery that is protected here,'' he said. ``It is of such utmost importance of our restricted use areas and the refuge that we have in place that have been there for a long time to protect these fish and also our closed season dates.''

If the younger whitefish and lake trout are able to grow to maturity, the Apostle Islands and South Shore region of Lake Superior could become a national sport fishing destination, Hoopman said.


Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio,

Groups to Discuss Vatican Edicts' Impact on Native Americans

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (AP) _ Members of the Six Nations of the Iroquois and experts in Native American legal and civil rights issues are hosting a conference in central New York for discussions on 500-year-old Vatican edicts whose impacts are still felt today.

The conference being held Saturday and Sunday at the Great Law of Peace Center outside Syracuse focuses on how Native American tribes were impacted by what's known as the Doctrine of Discovery.

The term refers to papal bulls issued by the Catholic Church in the 15th century as Europeans were setting out to explore the New World. The edicts gave explorers the right to claim lands for their Christian monarchs.

The Iroquois Confederacy has called on the Vatican to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery for having a negative impact on indigenous people.

Illinois Black Hawk Statue Secures Restoration Funding

OREGON, Ill. (AP) _ Efforts to restore a 107-year-old statue in northern Illinois have received financial backing this summer from the state and a local business.

The Rockford Register Star reports that heavy-duty trailer manufacturing company E.D. Etnyre & Co. donated $100,000 this week for the Eternal Indian statue, colloquially known as Black Hawk.

The project in Oregon, Illinois involves recreating the statue's original mix of concrete and red granite to keep it standing for many more years.

Company owner Edward D. Etnyre was starting the business in 1910 when he furnished artist Lorado Taft with supplies for the 48-foot-tall (15-meter tall) icon.

The state Department of Natural Resources received a $350,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in May.

The Black Hawk Restoration Team is also raising funds for the restoration.


Information from: Rockford Register Star,


Car Dealership Removes Native American Statue After 50 Years

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ A North Carolina car dealership has taken down a 23-foot fiberglass statue of a Native American that has drawn complaints over its 50-year history.

The Asheville Citizen Times reports that Harry's On the Hill was prompted to take down the statue known as ``Chief Pontiac'' partly because of a bad experience by a female customer who's a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The newspaper said an employee was fired after sending an offensive text message to the customer in June. Even before that, some Native Americans had complained about the statue.

The statue was removed Friday with a crane. It's being donated to the Pontiac-Oakland Transportation Museum in Michigan.

Pat Grimes, owner of Harry's, said he received offers to buy the statue but felt that the museum was best for it.

WWII Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tom Holiday Dies at Age 94

GEORGE, Utah (AP) _ Samuel Tom Holiday, one of the last surviving Navajo Code Talkers, died in southern Utah Monday surrounded by family members who raised money through a crowdfunding campaign to be by his side.

He was 94.

Holiday was among hundreds of Navajos who used a code based on their native language to transmit messages in World War II. The Japanese never broke it.

He was 19 when he joined the Marine Corps and became a part of operations in several locations across the Pacific during the war, according to The Spectrum. A mortar explosion left him with hearing loss, but he would later tell family that he always felt safe during battle because of a pouch around his neck holding sacred stones and yellow corn pollen.

He received a Congressional Silver Medal, a Purple Heart and other recognition for his action during the conflict.

After the war, Holiday returned to the Navajo reservation and worked as a police officer, a ranger and later started his own equipment company. He married Lupita Mae Isaac and had eight children.

In 2013, Holiday co-wrote a book about his experience as a Code Talker called ``Under the Eagle.''

Fewer than 10 Code Talkers are believed to be alive today. The exact number is unknown because the program remained classified for several years following the war.

Holiday spent his later days living at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins, Utah.

Shortly before his death, family members turned to the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to raise $4,000 to be able to visit him in hospice care. The Navajo Nation said he was surrounded by friends and family when he died.

There will be a viewing at the Hughes Mortuary in St. George, Utah, on Thursday and funeral services in Monument Valley on Friday, according to the Navajo Nation Council.

Holiday will be buried at a veterans' cemetery in the Navajo community of Kayenta, Arizona, next to his wife.

The library at the Kayenta Middle School is named for Holiday.

He is survived by six children, 35 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.


This story has been corrected to say Holiday is survived by six children, not five.

Photo Credit: Samuel T. Holiday Facebook Page

Murkowski: Bill Would Create New Native Corporations

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) _ Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski says a proposed bill would give 100,000 acres of federal land in total to Native groups in five Southeast Alaska towns.

The Ketchikan Daily News reports the proposed legislation _ also called the ``Alaska Native Claims Improvement Act of 2017'' _ looks to mitigate issues with the original Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that was passed almost a half century ago.

A major component of the legislation involves the formation of Native corporations in five Southeast Alaska communities _ Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee and Haines.

Murkowski says these five communities were never granted village or urban corporations.

The bill says upon incorporation, each of the five new corporations would receive ``one township of land (23,040 acres).''

Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News,


School district votes to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day

 SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) _ A Long Island school district has voted to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day for the coming academic year.

The six-member Southampton School Board voted 4-2 in favor of adopting next year's calendar which designates the new holiday on Monday, Oct. 8. Newsday reports the board had previously adopted a generic calendar for the past three years that didn't list holiday names.

Southampton students had asked the board to take Christopher Columbus' name off the holiday in 2016.

Board Member James McKenna, who voted no, says he feels the decision to change the name slights Italian-Americans.

Board Member Roberta Hunter, a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, says she disagrees with McKenna's reasoning on the vote.


Information from: Newsday,


 Navajo Prep students win $10K for Gold King Mine spill study

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) _ Students at Navajo Preparatory School researching the lasting impacts of the 2015 Gold King Mine spill have won $10,000 for their work.

The Farmington Daily Times reports seven sophomores and juniors in a gifted-and-talented program at the school entered the Lexus Eco Challenge with a project that involved testing green onion roots for iron and zine after they had been submerged into the Animas River. The work won them $8,000 in scholarships, and $2,000 for school equipment.

They now are competing in a second phase of the competition.

More than two years ago, the EPA accidently released 3 million gallons of mustard-colored water from southwestern Colorado's Gold King Mine into the Animas River. The spill tainted water in three states, as well as the Navajo Nation.


Information from: The Daily Times,