Master Planning Underway for Battlefields State Park

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Culpeper Star-Exponent

CULPEPER, Va. (AP) _ Master planning is now underway to establish exact parameters of the future Battlefields State Park in Culpeper County. It will encompass over 1,700 acres owned by American Battlefield Trust at the relatively still untouched sites of the Civil War Battles of Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain.

July 1, 2024 is the formal launch date for the state park, according to a recent presentation to the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors from Chuck Laudner, president of the Friends of Culpeper Battlefields coalition group. Culpeper Tourism Dept. Director Paige Read introduced him.

Local coalition leaders are working with officials from Virginia Dept. of Conservation & Recreation to finalize details of lands to be included in the history-themed state park for which the General Assembly included funding in the fiscal year budget.

The idea to commemorate and formalize the historic grounds dates back years, Laudner told the board of supervisors.

``My very first visit to Culpeper was in 1987,'' said Laudner, a strategic consultant with American Battlefield Trust. ``I was living in D.C. at the time, a history buff, came down to Brandy Station. There was just the one marker there.all those years ago to be where we are now, a lot has been invested.''

Brandy Station Foundation, Friends of Cedar Mountain, Germanna Foundation, Museum of Culpeper History, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Piedmont Environmental Council and others have all been partners to the $17 million investment thus far in the land preservation by ABT, Laudner said.

That doesn't include maintenance, education, interpretation, tours and communications already expended in making the historic places destinations.

``None of this would have been possible without you the board,'' he added, noting early county government support of a state park resolution.

A change in the administration in Richmond reinvigorated the future Battlefield State Park initiative a year and a half ago, Laudner said. He stated the previous administration informed them a state park would not be possible without strong local support, that they wouldn't even consider it.

Friends of Culpeper Battlefields, formed several years ago, has endeavored to be that group DCR can rely on, Laudner added. Since the state park was approved by the legislature earlier this year, state officials have made several site visits to Culpeper County and have been in no rush to leave, he said.

The lands that will encompass the park are certainly scenically located and still mostly untouched from the battles that raged there more than 150 years ago. Historians, tour guides and land scape architects with the Friends group are all working with the state to draw out the park boundaries.

It's land ABT will continue to maintain through 2027 at no cost to the state, and well beyond, Laudner said.

Sites like St. James Church and Fleetwood Hill in Brandy Station will be points of interest in the future state park along with primitive camping sites, equestrian and walking trail and access to the Rappahannock River, including where refugees fleeing slavery once crossed.

The future Battlefields State Park is expected to attract 75,000 visitors in its first year, generating over $1 million in fresh money from tourists, Laudner told the board.

It will take five years to complete the land transfer from ABT to DCR for the state park and the facility will grow with preserved lands even beyond that, he said. The state is talking about hiring staff over the next 18 months as well as finalizing locations for visitors' centers.

While Civil War Battlefields will be the ``big ticket'' for the state park, the area has other history as well_African-American and Native American, Laudner said. The Board of Supervisors can help the project by being aware of the proposed property lines that will encompass the state park, he said.

Listing those lands as protected in the comprehensive plan is appropriate as well as facilitating a surrounding view-shed compatible with the state park, Laudner suggested.

``That is our big ask,'' he said.

Brandy Station faces a myriad of development pressures with a variety of data centers and big solar facilities already approved or in the works. Neighbors and the friends groups have been showing up at public meetings for several years now asking county government to keep rural areas rural.

The future Battlefields State Park will be centrally geographically located to D.C., Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley so as to draw a maximum number of visitors, Laudner said.

``There are a lot more stories to tell that will bring people here from outside of the county,'' he said, noting the process toward the state park would happen fast.

Salem Supervisor Tom Underwood said he looked forward to the state park opening. He noted the board of supervisors is in the process of updating its comprehensive plan. The planning commission, in fact, recently completed its multi-month review of the plan with extensive public input and hearings_all with a slant toward keeping rural areas rural and green areas green.

Underwood said some areas of the county would remain relatively undisturbed, but not necessarily near major roads, utility lines or other large infrastructure already in place or in a county-designated technology zone.

Chairman Gary Deal asked Laudner to expand upon his statements about ``telling the full stories'' at the state park, including Black history.

Laudner responded the lands date to colonial times. In fact, some in the Stevensburg District are prehistoric.

He mentioned the iconic Timothy O'Sullivan Library of Congress photo taken on a late summer day in 1862. It shows fugitive African-Americans fleeing Culpeper County across the Rappahannock River at Remington as the Union army withdraws to Fauquier County after being beaten in the Battle of Cedar Mountain on Aug. 9, 1862.

It's one of the sites the Friends group and the Trust is most proud of, Laudner said. There were other battles and skirmishes, those stories will be told, including the charge down the street in the Battle of Culpeper Courthouse. That 1863 skirmish happened in the center of town between Union cavalry and Confederate soldiers, during the long war that occupied Culpeper.

The June 9, 1863 Battle at Brandy Station covered the farm fields in northern Culpeper and it's still the largest-ever cavalry battle fought in North America.

The future state park lands also encompass undisturbed Native American sites, Laudner said, noting no dearth of fascinating stories.

``So yes, it will be Culpeper Battlefields, but we know there is so much more,'' he said. ``There is no limit to the stories we can tell.''

Massachusetts Panel Explores Changes to State Seal, Motto

By MARK PRATT
Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) _ The commission appointed to come up with a new state seal and motto for Massachusetts to replace the current ones that critics decry as racially insensitive to the state's Indigenous communities discussed some early ideas, but made no firm decisions, at a meeting Tuesday.

The Special Commission on the Official Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth, made up of lawmakers, members of Indigenous tribes, historians and others, also disclosed plans to solicit feedback with a survey and several virtual and in-person public forums.

The current seal that appears on state flags, which dates to the late 19th century, features a depiction of a Native American man beneath a colonist's arm brandishing a sword, which critics say is a reference to English colonists' cruelty to local tribes centuries ago.

A new seal should not depict a human, said Donna Curtin of the commission's research and design subcommittee.

``While a majority of state seals do include a human figure, the subcommittee's feelings were that the design for the new seal should not include a human figure as it was felt it could not reflect the full diversity or identities of either Indigenous peoples or of the whole peoples on the Commonwealth,`` she said.

Some ideas include symbols or elements from nature that might better reflect the state.

``We're on the same page that we want to see a completely new design here,'' said Commission co-Chair Brian Weeden.

The state's Latin motto that translates as, ``By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty,'' dates to about 1659 and is attributed to English politician Algernon Sydney, according to the secretary of state's office.

A new motto should reflect concepts such as liberty, peace, justice, equity and educational opportunity, said Michael Comeau of the commission's history and usages subcommittee.

It should also be easier to understand.

``It was suggested that the motto should be recognizable and be transferrable and should not require explanation to the general public,'' he said.

Commission members stressed that all the ideas are in the early stages and nothing has been finalized.

The 20-member commission was created by the state Legislature and was supposed to complete its work by the end of this year, but has asked for an extension until next March.

Record Spending Over California's Legal Gambling Initiative

By MICHAEL R. BLOOD
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The campaign that could bring legalized sports betting to California is the most expensive ballot-initiative fight in U.S. history at about $400 million and counting, pitting wealthy Native American tribes against online gambling companies and less-affluent tribes over what's expected to be a multibillion-dollar marketplace.

A torrent of advertising has buffeted Californians for months, much of it making promises far beyond a plump payoff from a game wager. Some ads coming from the consortium of gambling companies barely mention online betting.

Instead, the ads tease a cornucopia of benefits from new revenues _ helping the homeless, aiding the mentally ill and providing financial security for poorer tribes that haven't seen a windfall from casino gambling. Further clouding the issue: There are two sports betting questions on the ballot.

The skeptics include Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who hasn't taken a position on either proposal but has said Proposition 27 ``is not a homeless initiative'' despite the claims in advertising.

Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney said ``something for nothing'' promises have been used in the past to sell state lotteries as a boundless source for education funding. It's political salesmanship, ``not a cure-all,'' he said.

With the stakes high, over $400 million has been raised so far - easily a national record for a ballot initiative fight, and nearly doubling the previous mark in California set in 2020 -- with another seven weeks to go until balloting ends on Nov. 8.

``They are spending hundreds of millions because billions are on the line,'' said longtime Democratic consultant Steven Maviglio, referring to potential future profits from expanded gambling in the state of nearly 40 million people.

``Both sides stand to really get rich for the long term,'' said Maviglio, who is not involved in the campaign. It could become ``a permanent funding source for a handful of companies -- or a handful of tribes.''

All of it could be a bad bet.

With the midterm elections approaching, voters are in a foul mood and cynical about political sales pitches. And with two similar proposals on the ballot, history suggests that voters are inclined to be confused and grab the ``no'' lever on both.

``When in doubt, people vote no,'' Pitney said.

In California, gambling now is permitted on horse races, at Indian casinos, in cardrooms and the state lottery. But the state has been something of a laggard in sports betting, which has been spreading across the country.

The two proposals would open the way for sports betting, but in strikingly different ways.

Proposition 27 is backed by DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel _ the latter is the official odds provider for The Associated Press _ and other national sports betting operators. The proposal would change state law to allow online sports betting for adults over the internet and on phones or other mobile devices.

Multistate operators would be required to partner with a tribe involved in gambling, or licensed tribes could enter on their own. However, the tribes argue they would have to surrender some of their independence to enter the deal. A tax would cover regulatory costs, with the bulk of the remainder earmarked for homeless programs, and a slice going to tribes not involved in online betting.

A rival proposal backed by many tribes, Proposition 26, would let people wager on sporting events in person at retail locations _ casinos operated by tribes and the state's four licensed horse racing tracks. A portion of a 10% tax would help pay for enforcement of gambling laws and programs to help people who have a gambling addiction. It also could open the way for roulette and dice games at tribal casinos.

A handful of political committees are in the center of the fight, raising funds and dueling for public support.

The Yes on 26, No on 27 committee, sponsored by more than two dozen Indian tribes, has raised about $108 million through this month, state records show. Among the major donors: Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria ($30 million), the Pechanga Band of Indians ($25 million) and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation ($20 million). All have been enriched by their own casinos.

Another committee seeking to defeat Proposition 27 is backed by tribes including the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and has pulled in about $91 million.

Their main rival, the Yes on 27 committee backed by sports betting companies, has generated about $169 million in loans and donations.

A committee opposing Proposition 26, backed by card clubs, has piled up over $41 million for the fight. The proposition includes changes in enforcement that the clubs see as an attempt to give tribes a virtual monopoly on all gaming in the state.

Despite the lofty claims about new income for the state, it's not clear what the fiscal benefits might be with either proposal.

With Proposition 27, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office concluded its effect on revenues and costs are uncertain, in part because it's not known how many entities would offer betting or how many people would place bets. It's possible it could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

But the office also concluded some of the income would not be new dollars since people could shift their spending habits, placing sports bets rather than buying lottery tickets or shopping at the mall.

The state analysts also found the fiscal impacts of rival Proposition 26 are unclear, in part because it's not known how state-tribal compacts would be modified to allow for sports betting. They found the proposition could increase state revenues, possibly by tens of millions of dollars each year, but would increase costs for enforcement and regulation, too.

A muddle of political endorsements are in the mix. The California Republican Party opposes both proposals. State Democrats oppose Proposition 27, but are neutral on Proposition 26. Major League Baseball is backing Proposition 27.

Voters are witnessing a deluge of competing claims.

The No on 26 committee says wealthy tribes are looking to game the system to gain unprecedented gambling income and political influence.

Rob Stutzman, a spokesman for the No on 27 committee, warned that up to 90% of the profits from the proposal could go to the gambling companies and ``you know a measure is bad news when both the Democratic and Republican parties oppose it.''

Navajo Mystery Series 'Dark Winds' Seeks True Storytelling

By LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Robert Redford and George R.R. Martin are the big names behind ``Dark Winds,'' but they're not the most important.

That distinction belongs to the Native American creators and actors who ensured the AMC mystery series rings true to the Native experience and enduring culture, which largely has been snubbed or recklessly caricatured by Hollywood.

This time the storytelling is ``an inside job,'' said director Chris Eyre, resulting in what he describes as a ``Native American, Southwestern film noir.``

Based on Tony Hillerman's admired novels featuring Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police, AMC's ``Dark Winds'' puts the newly teamed lawmen on a double-murder case that could be linked to a brazen armored-car heist.

The investigation and what underlies it is gripping but, as with Hillerman's books, what distinguishes ``Dark Winds'' is its intricate blend of nuanced characters and relationships, spiritual traditions and the devastating toll of entrenched inequality.

The last aspect is painfully illustrated by a midwife's warning to a pregnant woman to avoid a hospital birth or risk unwanted sterilization, a reflection of what Native Americans faced in the series' 1970s setting, the producers said. (A 1976 U.S. General Accounting Office study found that women under 21 were being sterilized despite a moratorium, among other issues.)

``A lot of our history is based on oral tradition, said Zahn McClarnon, who stars as Lt. Leaphorn. ''We've been telling our stories for thousands of years.....I think that the television business is finally seeing that, and realizing that we have our own stories, and that they're rich, deep stories.``

``Dark Winds,'' debuting Sunday on AMC (9 p.m. EDT) and on streaming service AMC+, is imbued with the stark grandeur of New Mexico, where it's largely set and was shot.

``In the daytime, the landscape is just beautiful. In the nighttime, it turns into something else, it becomes intimidating that there's so much land out there,'' said Eyre. ``That's what the series is about, this beautiful paradox of this world we haven't seen before, this mystery.''

The series counts actor-filmmaker Redford and Martin, of ``Game of Thrones'' book and TV fame, among its executive producers. Viewers may recall a 2002 miniseries featuring Leaphorn and Chee, which Redford produced. Martin is new to the mix but not to Hillerman's work _ both New Mexico residents, they were part of a writers' circle that met regularly in Albuquerque.

The PBS series, ``Skinwalkers: The Navajo Mysteries,'' made before authenticity gained serious traction in Hollywood, was notable for its Native American cast and a Native director _ Eyre, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, who shared directing duties.

But ``Dark Winds'' also boasts a a nearly all Native writing staff, with one exception. Eyre (``Friday Night Lights,`` ``Smoke Signals'') directed the full series, and creator and executive producer Graham Roland is Chickasaw.

The cast features prominent Native actors including McClarnon (``Fargo,`` ``Longmire''); Kiowa Gordon (``The Twilight Saga`` franchise) as Chee; Jessica Matten as police Sgt. Bernadette Manuelito, and Deanna Allison as Leaphorn's wife, Emma.

Their resumes and performances refute longstanding industry complaints about a lack of experienced Native actors.

``I've heard that excuse before,'' said Roland. ``What we found when we went about casting this was the Native talent pool is a lot deeper than even I realized....Everybody in the show is amazing.''

Roland (``Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan,`` ``Fringe'') was connected with the proposed series in 2019, before the recent boomlet of Native-inclusive shows including ``Reservation Dogs'' and ``Rutherford Falls.''

``What was unique about it was the opportunity to tell a story in the Native community without a white character bringing you into the community and experiencing it through the white character's point of view,'' Roland said. Instead, the perspective is that of the Native character ``who grew up there, lived there, and polices that environment.''

U.S. television has been slow to the diversity game but is a welcome addition, said the Canadian-born Matten, who is Red River Metis-Cree.

``Canada has been very, very generous in giving Native storytellers a platform for about a decade now. However, the kind of reach we have is very limited, compared to what the USA can give,`` she said. ``To be a part of `Dark Winds' means a lot because, finally, I get to be a part of something that does have that reach.``

For Gordon, the show is a chance to ``shatter all these expectations and stereotypes that have always been attributed to us.'' He said the trailer's release alone has drawn blood pressure-raising comments that slam the show as unreal because it avoids hackneyed Native depictions.

``We're trying to portray these people (characters) as nothing that we've seen before, so it's a great opportunity,'' the actor said.

The decision to leave the story in the 20th century proved the right one for Eyre and Roland.

``When you drill down into the soil of the reservation proper....there are places that don't have electricity to this day. There are communities that don't have water, that don't have cell service,'' Eyre said. ``It's ironic that so much has changed, and so little has changed.''

Tribe Grapples with Missing Women Crisis on California Coast

By GILLIAN FLACCUS
Associated Press

YUROK RESERVATION, Calif. (AP) _ The young mother had behaved erratically for months, hitchhiking and wandering naked through two Native American reservations and a small town clustered along Northern California's rugged Lost Coast.

But things escalated when Emmilee Risling was charged with arson for igniting a fire in a cemetery. Her family hoped the case would force her into mental health and addiction services. Instead, she was released over the pleas of loved ones and a tribal police chief.

The 33-year-old college graduate _ an accomplished traditional dancer with ancestry from three area tribes _ was last seen soon after, walking across a bridge near a place marked End of Road, a far corner of the Yurok Reservation where the rutted pavement dissolves into thick woods.

Her disappearance is one of five instances in the past 18 months where Indigenous women have gone missing or been killed in this isolated expanse of Pacific coastline between San Francisco and Oregon, a region where the Yurok, Hupa, Karuk, Tolowa and Wiyot people have coexisted for millennia. Two other women died from what authorities say were overdoses despite relatives' questions about severe bruises.

The crisis has spurred the Yurok Tribe to issue an emergency declaration and brought increased urgency to efforts to build California's first database of such cases and regain sovereignty over key services.

``I came to this issue as both a researcher and a learner, but just in this last year, I knew three of the women who have gone missing or were murdered _ and we shared so much in common,'' said Blythe George, a Yurok tribal member who consults on a project documenting the problem. ``You can't help but see yourself in those people.''

___

The recent cases spotlight an epidemic that is difficult to quantify but has long disproportionately plagued Native Americans.

A 2021 report by a government watchdog found the true number of missing and murdered Indigenous women is unknown due to reporting problems, distrust of law enforcement and jurisdictional conflicts. But Native women face murder rates almost three times those of white women overall _ and up to 10 times the national average in certain locations, according to a 2021 summary of the existing research by the National Congress of American Indians. More than 80% have experienced violence.

In this area peppered with illegal marijuana farms and defined by wilderness, almost everyone knows someone who has vanished.

Missing person posters flutter from gas station doors and road signs. Even the tribal police chief isn't untouched: He took in the daughter of one missing woman, and Emmilee _ an enrolled Hoopa Valley tribal member with Yurok and Karuk blood _ babysat his children.

In California alone, the Yurok Tribe and the Sovereign Bodies Institute, an Indigenous-run research and advocacy group, uncovered 18 cases of missing or slain Native American women in roughly the past year _ a number they consider a vast undercount. An estimated 62% of those cases are not listed in state or federal databases for missing persons.

Hupa citizen Brandice Davis attended school with the daughters of a woman who disappeared in 1991 and now has daughters of her own, ages 9 and 13.

``Here, we're all related, in a sense,'' she said of the place where many families are connected by marriage or community ties.

She cautions her daughters about what it means to be female, Native American and growing up on a reservation: ``You're a statistic. But we have to keep going. We have to show people we're still here.''

___

Like countless cases involving Indigenous women, Emmilee's disappearance has gotten no attention from the outside world.

But many here see in her story the ugly intersection of generations of trauma inflicted on Native Americans by their white colonizers, the marginalization of Native peoples and tribal law enforcement's lack of authority over many crimes committed on their land.

Virtually all of the area's Indigenous residents, including Emmilee, have ancestors who were shipped to boarding schools as children and forced to give up their language and culture as part of a federal assimilation campaign. Further back, Yurok people spent years away from home as indentured servants for colonizers, said Judge Abby Abinanti, the tribe's chief judge.

The trauma caused by those removals echoes among the Yurok in the form of drug abuse and domestic violence, which trickles down to the youth, she said. About 110 Yurok children are in foster care.

``You say, `OK, how did we get to this situation where we're losing our children?''' said Abinanti. ``There were big gaps in knowledge, including parenting, and generationally those play out.''

An analysis of cases by the Yurok and Sovereign Bodies found most of the region's missing women had either been in foster care themselves or had children taken from them by the state. An analysis of jail bookings also showed Yurok citizens in the two-county region are 11 times more likely to go to jail in a given year _ and half those arrested are female, usually for low-level crimes. That's an arrest rate for Yurok women roughly five times the rate of female incarcerations nationwide, said George, the University of California, Merced sociologist consulting with the tribe.

The Yurok run a tribal wellness court for addiction and operate one of the country's only state-certified tribal domestic violence perpetrator programs. They also recently hired a tribal prosecutor, another step toward building an Indigenous justice system that would ultimately handle all but the most serious felonies.

The Yurok also are working to reclaim supervision over foster care and hope to transfer their first foster family from state court within months, said Jessica Carter, the Yurok Tribal Court director. A tribal-run guardianship court follows another 50 children who live with relatives.

The long-term plan _ mostly funded by grants _ is a massive undertaking that will take years to accomplish, but the Yurok see regaining sovereignty over these systems as the only way to end the cycle of loss that's taken the greatest toll on their women.

``If we are successful, we can use that as a gift to other tribes to say, `Here's the steps we took,''' said Rosemary Deck, the newly hired tribal prosecutor. ```You can take this as a blueprint and assert your own sovereignty.'''

___

Emmilee was born into a prominent Native family, and a bright future beckoned.

Starting at a young age, she was groomed to one day lead the intricate dances that knit the modern-day people to generations of tradition nearly broken by colonization. Her family, a ``dance family,'' has the rare distinction of owning enough regalia that it can outfit the brush, jump and flower dances without borrowing a single piece.

At 15, Emmilee paraded down the National Mall with other tribal members at the opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. The Washington Post published a front-page photo of her in a Karuk dress of dried bear grass, a woven basket cap and a white leather sash adorned with Pileated woodpecker scalps.

The straight-A student earned a scholarship to the University of Oregon, where she helped lead a prominent Native students' group. Her success, however, was darkened by the first sign of trouble: an abusive relationship with a Native man whom, her mother believes, she felt she could save through her positive influence.

Later, Emmilee dated another man, became pregnant and returned home to have the baby before finishing her degree.

She then worked with disadvantaged Native families and eventually got accepted into a master's program. She helped coach her son's T-ball team and signed him up for swim lessons.

But over time, her family says, they noticed changes.

Emmilee was uncharacteristically tardy for work and grew more combative. She often dropped off her son with family, and she fell in with another abusive boyfriend. Her son was removed from her care when he was 5; a girl born in 2020 was taken away as a newborn as Emmilee's behavior deteriorated.

Her parents remain bewildered by her rapid decline and think she developed a mental illness _ possibly postpartum psychosis _ compounded by drugs and the trauma of domestic abuse. At first, she would see a doctor or therapist at her family's insistence but eventually rebuffed all help.

After her daughter's birth, Emmilee spiraled rapidly, ``like a light switched,'' and she began to let go of the Native identity that had been her defining force, said her sister, Mary.

``That was her life, and when you let that go, when you don't have your kids ... what are you?'' she said.

___

In the months before she vanished, Emmilee was frequently seen walking naked in public, talking to herself. She was picked up many times by sheriff's deputies and tribal police but never charged.

The only in-patient psychiatric facility within 300 miles (480 kilometers) was always too full to admit her. Once, she was taken to the emergency room and fled barefoot in her hospital gown.

``People tended to look the other way. They didn't really help her. In less than 24 hours, she was just back on the street, literally on the street,'' said Judy Risling, her mother. ``There were just no services for her.''

In September, Emmilee was arrested after she was found dancing around a small fire in the Hoopa Valley Reservation cemetery.

Then-Hoopa Valley Tribal Police Chief Bob Kane appeared in a Humboldt County court by video and explained her repeated police contacts and mental health problems. Emmilee mumbled during the hearing then shouted out that she didn't set the fire.

She was released with an order to appear again in 12 days after her public defender argued she had no criminal convictions and the court couldn't hold her on the basis of her mental health.

Then, Emmilee disappeared.

``We had predicted that something like this may ... happen in the future,'' said Kane. ``And you know, now we're here.''

____

If Emmilee fell through the cracks before she went missing, she has become even more invisible in her absence.

One of the biggest hurdles in Indian Country once a woman is reported missing is unraveling a confusing jumble of federal, state, local and tribal agencies that must coordinate. Poor communication and oversights can result in overlooked evidence or delayed investigations.

The problem is more acute in rural regions like the one where Emmilee disappeared, said Abigail Echo-Hawk, citizen of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and director of the Urban Indian Health Institute in Seattle.

``Particularly in reservations and in village areas, there is a maze of jurisdictions, of policies, of procedures of who investigates what,'' she said.

Moreover, many cases aren't logged in federal missing persons databases, and medical examiners sometimes misclassify Native women as white or Asian, said Gretta Goodwin, of the U.S. Government Accountability Office's homeland security and justice team.

Recent efforts at the state and federal level seek to address what advocates say have been decades of neglect regarding missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Former President Donald Trump signed a bill that required federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement agencies to create or update their protocols for handling such cases. And in November, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to set up guidelines between the federal government and tribal police that would help track, solve and prevent crimes against all Native Americans.

A number of states, including California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona, are also taking on the crisis with greater funding to tribes, studies of the problem or proposals to create Amber Alert-style notifications.

___

Emmilee's case illustrates some of the challenges. She was a citizen of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and was arrested on its reservation, but she is presumed missing on the neighboring Yurok Tribe's reservation.

The Yurok police are in charge of the missing persons probe, but the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office will decide when to declare the case cold, which could trigger federal help.

The remote terrain where Emmilee was last seen _ two hours from the nearest town _ created hurdles common on reservations.

Law enforcement determined there wasn't enough information to launch a formal search and rescue operation in such a vast, mountainous area. The Yurok police opted to forgo their own search because of liability concerns and a lack of training, said Yurok Tribal Police Chief Greg O'Rourke.

Instead, Yurok and Hoopa Valley police and sheriff's deputies plied the rain-swollen Klamath River by boat and drove back roads.

Emmilee's father, Gary Risling, says the sheriff's office failed to act on anonymous tips, was slow to follow up on possible sightings and focused more resources on other missing person's cases, including a wayward hunter and a kayaker lost at sea.

``I don't want to seem like I'm picking on them, but that effort is sure not put forward when it becomes a missing Indian woman,'' he said.

Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal declined interview requests, saying the Yurok are in charge and there are no signs of foul play. O'Rourke said the tips aren't enough for a search warrant and there's nothing further the tribal police can do.

The police chief, who knew Emmilee well, says his work is frequently stymied by a broader system that discounts tribal sovereignty.

``The role of police is protect the vulnerable. As tribal police, we're doing that in a system that's broken,'' he said. ``I think that is the reason that Native women get all but dismissed.''

Emmilee's family, meanwhile, is struggling to shield her children, now 10 and almost 2, from the trauma of their mother's disappearance _ trauma they worry could trigger another generational cycle of loss.

The boy has been having nightmares and recently spoke everyone's worst fear.

``It's real difficult when you deal with the grandkids, and the grandkid says, `Grandpa, can you take me down the river and can we look for my mama?' What do you tell him? `We're looking, we're looking every day,''' said Gary Risling, choking back tears.

``And then he says, `What happens if we can't find her?'''

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Associated Press video journalist Manuel Valdes in Seattle contributed to this report.

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Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus

Cherokee Creators Produce Groundbreaking Music Album

Horton Records, in collaboration with Cherokee filmmaker and creator Jeremy Charles, announced today production of a groundbreaking Contemporary album of original music performed entirely in the Cherokee language. The debut album, titled Anvdvnelisgi (pronounced Ah Nuh Duh Nay Lees Gi), represents diverse Contemporary genres, including Folk/Americana, Country, Pop, Reggae, Heavy Metal and Hip Hop.

Anvdvnelisgi, which translates to Performers in English, is being led by citizens as part of a wide-ranging commitment to preserve and expand the Cherokee language. The album will be distributed by Horton Records, a non-profit 501c-3 dedicated to providing support and tools for Tulsa-area musicians to broaden their reach, and funding was provided by the Zarrow Families Foundation Commemoration Fund.

“This music will shine a spotlight on Cherokee artists and speakers, and increase exposure to our culture and language on a worldwide scale,” said Jeremy Charles, Cherokee filmmaker and creator. “Most importantly, we’re hoping this album is an inspiration to Cherokee language learners that will lead to more Contemporary music being made in the future.”

Slated to launch in conjunction with the 2022 Cherokee National Holiday over Labor Day weekend, Anvdvnelisgi will feature 12 Cherokee emerging and seasoned artists ranging in age from 14 to 50 years. More information about the artists may be found at hortonrecords.org/cherokee. Participating musicians are as follows:

  • Aaron Hale - Psychedelic Singer/Songwriter
  • Agalisiga Mackey - Country
  • Austin Markham - Pop
  • Colby Luper - Metal
  • Desi & Cody - Rock
  • IIA (Lillian Charles) - Pop
  • Kalyn Fay - Folk/Americana
  • Ken Pomeroy - Alternative Folk
  • Medicine Horse - Metal
  • Monica Taylor - Folk/Americana
  • Travis Fite - Reggae
  • Zebadiah Nofire - Hip Hop

Lillian Charles (IIA), an eighth grader at Tulsa’s Carver Middle School and the daughter of the album’s producer, Jeremy Charles, contributed the Goth-pop song, “Circus,” a song she originally wrote in English when she was 12 years-old.

“It's an exaggeration of what goes on in my mind because I would describe my mind as a circus. It's always filled with silly stories and characters that I put into songs or short stories,“ she says.

IIA, who knew a few words in Cherokee prior to this project, worked with translators Kathy Sierra and Bobbie Smith to express her lyrics in Cherokee. She was pleased with the results. “There weren’t any revisions, and it really did flow,” IIA, says. “I have realized how beautiful the language is. It's amazing.”

Born and raised in Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, 25-year-old Zebediah Nofire worked with producer Kawnar to find the perfect beats for his Hip Hop song, “The Baker.”  A fan of the genre since childhood, Nofire is a comedian who regularly incorporates original Hip Hop parodies in his standup routine. He considers this to be his first “real” musical venture. A graduate of the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program and an employee at the Cherokee Immersion School, Nofire enjoyed the experience of writing lyrics in the language.

“It's the first song I've written in Cherokee, so that was an interesting experience,” Nofire says. “The rhyme schemes are different, and the rhythm of the language is different, so it was really challenging, but fun.”

For Nofire, crafting a Cherokee Hip Hop song is not only a chance to express himself musically, but also a chance to show others that the language is contemporary and relevant.

“I think it’s not only the outside people who have put us in a box culturally. I think we have put ourselves in one,” Nofire explains. “This project is a good way to show people that we can do different things outside of just hymns, which is about as far as our musical genres go in the Cherokee language. I hope that maybe I'll help get the ball rolling, and someone could say, ‘Hey, I can write a song,’ and it would be good and outside of the genres, as well. I hope to expand different outlets for our culture.”

"An indigenous language is lost every two weeks around the world. With less than 2,000 living fluent Cherokee speakers, we are looking for ways to keep our language current and accessible,” said Howard Paden, executive director of the Cherokee Nation Language Department. " This endeavor brings a modern approach to language revitalization.  Thanks to the support of our first language Cherokee speakers, the musicians dedicated to performing in their native language and the vision of Cherokee creator Jeremy Charles, we’ll have people jamming out in Cherokee in no time!"

Although there is a rich history of gospel music in the Cherokee language, original Contemporary music performed in the Cherokee language is a rarity. The songs on this compilation album will remind listeners that the Cherokee language endures, and the Cherokee culture continues to thrive and adapt. While two artists are Cherokee speakers, 10 artists worked with fluent Cherokee speakers over 10 months to develop their language skills for the album.

“The Commemoration Fund is proud to support Horton Records and Jeremy Charles on this historic project. Founded in 2020, the Commemoration Fund was established through the Zarrow Families Foundation to boldly respond to racial injustices in our community. Injustice can be social, political, or economic, but it can also be cultural. Our Board especially seeks to focus its grantmaking on innovative and collaborative projects, and the album is a one-of-a-kind collaborative,” said Clarence Boyd, Program Officer of the Commemoration Fund.  “When the Commemoration Fund was presented with the proposal for this project, it was an opportunity to represent many core values within our original mission. Since its inception, this project has captured the Board's interest, and we are so excited to see this come into reality.”

“A lot of people are going to hear the Cherokee language in a new context for the first time. I hope it will spark an inspiration for Cherokee citizens and artists alike,” Charles added. “I imagine people singing along as they blast the album in the car, reading along with the lyrics with their headphones on, and it reinforces that being Cherokee is special, and it’s cool. And I hope projects like this will contribute to the Cherokee Nation’s expansive efforts to preserve the language into the future.”

Horton Records will provide artist support, promotion and distribution of the album. Charles is seeking additional funding to produce future compilation albums, music videos and full-length releases by individual artists.

“Many artists on the Horton Records label are Cherokee citizens, and we are honored to support both established and emerging Cherokee musicians through the launch,” says Brian Horton, president of the Tulsa-based nonprofit label. “Our focus has always been: musicians first, community always. We believe this project embodies that.”

About Jeremy Charles

Jeremy Charles is an award-winning, Cherokee filmmaker based in Tulsa.  His mission is to promote language and cultural preservation through his work. Jeremy is a co-creator, director and producer for the 13-time Emmy winning docuseries Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People, creator of the animated series Inage’i (In The Woods), which is performed in the Cherokee Language, and makes films in the language.  His inspiration is rooted in the Tulsa music scene where he spent a decade documenting concerts and creating promotional imagery and music videos for musicians and bands.

About Horton Records

Horton Records is a volunteer-based, non-profit 501(c)(3) Tulsa music organization. Its mission is to provide services that develop and support musicians in the Tulsa area, while fostering community with other creative partners and building on the rich musical heritage in the region. Horton Records organizes and promotes showcase events, provides booking services and management support to artists, supplies business and financial support for recording and distributing music worldwide, and supports educational efforts for all ages. This mission directly aligns with city and state efforts to enhance the image of Tulsa and the surrounding area as a creative hub and music destination that attracts and retains visitors, as well as current and future residents.

Horton Records has officially released more than 120 titles from Oklahoma artists and distributed more than 150,000 physical units worldwide. Each year, it books more than 100 shows on behalf of Oklahoma artists, free of charge, with approximately $50,000 annually being paid directly to musicians. For more information, visit www.hortonrecords.org.

Remains of Massacred Ancestors Returned to Wiyot Tribe

By BRIAN MELLEY
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The most vulnerable members of the Wiyot Tribe were asleep the morning of Feb. 26, 1860, when a band of white men slipped into their Northern California villages under darkness and slaughtered them.

Many of the children, women and elderly slain in what became known as the Indian Island Massacre had their eternal rest disturbed when their graves were later dug up and their skeletons and the artifacts buried with them were placed in a museum.

After nearly 70 years of separation from their tribe, the remains of at least 20 of those believed to have been killed have been returned home.

``They're going to be at peace and at rest with our other ancestors,'' Ted Hernandez, the Wiyot Tribe's historic preservation officer, said Tuesday after the repatriation was announced. ``They'll be able to reunite with their families.''

The return is part of an effort by some institutions to do a better job complying with federal law that requires giving tribes back items looted from sacred burial sites.

Grave robbing was yet another indignity suffered by Native Americans and their descendants long after they were driven from their lands or killed. Hobbyists, collectors and even prominent researchers took part in the desecration of burial sites. Skulls, bones and antiquities were sold, traded, studied and displayed in museums.

Cutcha Risling Baldy, a professor of Native American studies at Humboldt State University, said returning the sacred items provides healing to tribes.

She criticized museums and universities that warehouse items that objectify Native Americans and reduce them to historical objects and artifacts rather than people.

``From a spiritual perspective, from a cultural perspective or even a human perspective, it's hard to imagine the graves of your ancestors being dug up and then put into a museum,'' Risling Baldy said. ``It kind of creates a mythology around Native people that we are somehow specimens, rather than people and human beings.''

The bones of the Wiyot were recovered in 1953 after being discovered near where a jetty was constructed outside the city of Eureka, 225 miles (362 kilometers) north of San Francisco, according to a notice last year in the Federal Register.

A team from University of California, Berkeley collected the remains and put them in storage with 136 artifacts buried with them _ mainly beads and ornaments made from shells, an arrowhead from a broken bottle fragment, a sinker for a fishing net, bone tools and an elk tooth.

The gravesites were where the Wiyot buried some of their dead following a devastating series of mass slayings at a dozen of their villages over the course of a week in 1860.

The unprovoked killings occurred in the midst of the tribe's World Renewal Ceremony, a 10-day peaceful celebration with food, dance and prayer to return balance to the Earth, Hernandez said.

After the ceremony, the tribe's men left for the night, paddling from the island to the mainland to hunt and fish for food and gather firewood for the next day's feast.

In the early morning, raiders arrived by canoe across the bay and stabbed, beat or hacked the victims with knives, clubs and hatchets. Several other attacks were carried out that night, and more killings occurred over the next five days, said Jerry Rohde, a Humboldt County historian.

More than 50 people were killed on the island, and as many as 500 may have been killed in the course of the week, Rohde said. An account in the New York Times put the death toll at 188.

The group of vigilantes were dubbed the ``Thugs`` but never named publicly or held accountable.

A young Bret Harte, who would go on to become one of the most popular writers of the day, wrote a scathing editorial about the bloodshed in The Northern Californian, a newspaper in the city just to the north.

``When the bodies were landed at Union, a more shocking and revolting spectacle never was exhibited to the eyes of a Christian and civilized people,'' he wrote.

But that was not the popular opinion in the area, Rohde said. The Humboldt Times editor had advocated for the removal or extermination of Native people. Harte fled to San Francisco after death threats.

Some of the men said to have bragged about the killing went on to be elected to the state Legislature, Rohde said.

The Wiyot began seeking return of their ancestors in 2016 under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The act made it illegal to steal from the graves and required government institutions to return items in their possession.

But getting those back has not always been easy.

UC Berkeley, which held the remains at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology, denied the request, citing lack of evidence, said Tom Torma, the university's repatriation coordinator.

Torma was aware of the case because he submitted the request as the Wiyot's historical preservation officer at the time.

A 2020 state audit found the University of California had an inconsistent policy in how it repatriated remains. While the University of California, Los Angeles had returned most eligible remains, Berkeley had returned only 20%.

UC Berkeley, which houses remains of 10,000 Native Americans _ the largest collection in the U.S. _ also regularly required additional evidence that delayed returns, the audit said.

The campus has had a racial reckoning with the past in recent years, including its history with Native Americans.

Last year, the university stripped the name of Alfred Kroeber from the hall housing the anthropology department and museum. Kroeber, a pioneer in American anthropology, collected or authorized collection of Native Americans remains for research.

He was best known for taking custody of Ishi, called ``last of the Yahi,`` who emerged from the wilderness in 1911. The man performed as a living exhibit for museum visitors, demonstrating how to make stone tools and crafts.

The university system revised its repatriation policy, based in part on input from tribes, last year. A new committee at UC Berkeley took a more proactive approach and determined there was enough evidence to return the Wiyot items, Torma said.

The repatriation was jointly made with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was responsible for the jetty construction that may have unearthed the remains.

For the Wiyot Tribe, the repatriation last fall came two years after the island known now as Tulawat, was returned to the tribe by the city of Eureka.

It's now up to tribal elders to determine what to do with the remains, Hernandez said.

The dead are already a part of their ceremonies. When the dancing and praying is done, the sacred fires are left burning for their forebears.

``They'll be able to continue the ceremonies in the afterlife,'' Hernandez said.

For the First Time in Generations, Snoqualmie Tribe has Land

By DIANA OPONG
KUOW

SEATTLE (AP) _ The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe has purchased thousands of acres of ancestral forestlands in east King County, land that holds special meaning to the people who have been without a reservation for generations.

``This means a whole new level of connection,'' Jaime Martin, a tribal member and executive director of governmental affairs, told KUOW.

They have named the land the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Forest.

``The land is is not just a place, it's connected to us as people,'' Martin said. ``And so I think including our ancestors in that title is really critical and important, and speaks to the tribes values in this transaction.''

At the end of 2021, the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe closed on the sale of 12,000 acres (4,856 hectares) of land in East King County. The purchase concludes a decades-long effort to reclaim ownership in an area that's enormously important to the Tribe. The property holds environmental, economic, and historic value.

``For perspective, when I was 12, was when the Tribe was re-recognized,'' Martin said. ``And at the time, the Tribe could not own land. We didn't own land. We operated out of spaces that we could rent or that were donated to us.''

The land purchase is so ``monumental'' that Martin finds it difficult to fully express what this moment means to her and the Snoqualmie. From her ancestors to the Tribe's elders, a lot of work has gone into this effort. The product of that work is that, within one generation, the Snoqualmie Tribe went from not owning any land to overseeing 12,000 acres in their ancestral territory.

``Space to connect''

Martin notes that much of the Snoqualmie's historic territory is highly used for outdoor recreation. One of its most sacred sites, the Snoqualmie Falls, is a popular tourist destination. With the newly acquired land, the Tribe has hope that it will provide healing for its members.

``Having this space for future tribal members, but also current tribal members, to be able to have the space to connect with this land, and the plants and the animals is just going to be very healing for us,'' Martin said.

``The reason that this location is so special to the Tribe is that it's very close to property that was originally promised to the Tribe by the U.S. government in the 1930s, for our original reservation,'' she said. ``And despite them never having delivered on that promise, through resiliency, we have claimed that land, and repurchased that land, now in 2022.''

The land has been used as an industrial timber site in past years. The Snoqualmie Tribe already has plans for how they will manage and work the new property.

``The Tribe's plan is to care and steward the land in a way that makes our ancestors proud and future generations proud,'' Martin said. ``Through sustainable harvesting, we're going to be generating the revenue necessary to fund the work required to steward the land in a way that really supports the diversity of native plants and the characters the wildlife populations that are there, which include a few endangered species.''

Coal to Clean Power: Hopi Tribe Rewriting Its Energy Story

The Economic Development Administration awarded funding to Hopi Utilities Corporation to support the Tribe's transition to a clean energy economy focused on workforce development and quality jobs on Reservation.

When the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) closed in 2019, it left the Hopi Tribe in incredible economic distress. The Tribe received payments for supplying coal to the NGS, representing 85% of Hopi's revenue. When these payments and jobs vanished, it left the Tribe in dire need for economic development.

Today, Hopi is rebuilding its economy with renewable energy.

"We are honored to have been selected by the Economic Development Administration as a finalist for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. This represents an enormous opportunity for Hopi to rewrite our energy history by investing in a brighter future for our Tribal Members," said Hopi Tribal Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma.

The coalition is led by the Hopi Utility Corporation (HUC) and aims to invest in a large-scale solar project that can fill the void of lost revenues and jobs related to the NGS closure while mitigating climate change by creating clean energy.

"The Hopi Tribe is now seeking phase 2 funding of up to $100 million to support project implementation," said Hopi Utility Corporation President Carroll Onsae. "This is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Tribe to write a new chapter in its energy story."

If provided an implementation grant, this large scale solar project proposes to support the growth and enhancement of HUC and Hopi Telecommunications, Inc., as well as provide technical training for Tribal members to obtain good-paying jobs. The coalition also proposes to carry out three additional projects, which include a workforce development program tied to the construction of the solar project; a planning effort to strengthen the Hopi's organizational capacity to build future infrastructure projects; and several smaller-scale infrastructure projects focused on reliability, resilience, and supporting new business development across Hopi villages.

2 Artists Charged with Faking Native American Heritage

By GENE JOHNSON
Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) _ Two artists are facing federal charges that they faked Native American heritage to sell works at downtown Seattle galleries.

Lewis Anthony Rath, 52, of Maple Falls, and Jerry Chris Van Dyke, 67, also known as Jerry Witten, of Seattle, have been charged separately with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which prohibits misrepresentation in marketing American Indian or Alaska Native arts and crafts.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Rath falsely claimed to be a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, and Van Dyke falsely claimed membership in the Nez Perce Tribe. The goods included masks, totem poles and pendants sold in 2019 at Raven's Nest Treasure in Pike Place Market and at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront.

``By flooding the market with counterfeit Native American art and craftwork, these crimes cheat the consumer, undermine the economic livelihood of Native American artists, and impair Indian culture,`` Edward Grace, assistant director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, said in a news release.

Rath and Van Dyke were due to appear in U.S. District Court on Friday afternoon. Their attorneys, federal public defenders Gregory Geist and Vanessa Pai-Thompson, said in an email Friday they did not have any immediate comment on the charges.

Authorities said the investigation began when the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, an Interior Department agency that promotes Native art, received complaints that the two were fraudulently holding themselves out as enrolled tribal members.

Rath is charged with four counts of misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. Van Dyke faces two counts of the same crime.

Rath also faces one misdemeanor count of unlawfully possessing golden eagle parts, and one of unlawfully possessing migratory bird parts.

According to charging documents, an employee of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, which has been in business for more than a century, told investigators that she wrote an artist biography of Rath based on information he provided about his tribal affiliation.

Matthew Steinbrueck, the owner of Raven's Nest Treasure, told investigators that the artists told him they were tribal members and that he believed them, according to the documents. He said he did not knowingly sell counterfeit Indian products.

``I've been doing this on good faith for many years _ for more than 30 years,'' Steinbrueck told The Associated Press on Friday. ``Our whole mission is to represent authentic Native art. We've had more than 100 authentic Native artists. I've always just taken their word for it.''

He said his family had a long appreciation for American Indian culture, dating to when his great-grandfather adopted a tribal member. Steinbrueck's father, Victor Steinbrueck, an architect credited with helping preserve Pike Place Market and Seattle's historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, brought him up to revere Native culture, he said.

Van Dyke told investigators that it was Steinbrueck's idea to represent his work as Native American.

Steinbrueck denied that, saying Van Dyke appeared to be trying to lessen his own culpability. He called Van Dyke ``a fabulous carver'' who made art in the style of his wife's Alaska Native tribe, including pendants carved from fossilized mammoth or walrus ivory.

Neither Ye Olde Curiosity Shop nor Raven's Nest has been charged in the case.

Gabriel Galanda, an Indigenous rights attorney in Seattle who belongs to the Round Valley Tribes of Northern California, said that if shops offer products as Native-produced, they should be verifying the heritage of the creators, such as by examining tribal enrollment cards or federal certificates of Indian blood.

``There has to be some diligence done by these galleries,'' Galanda said.

Indian Tribes Seek Return of Remains, Artifacts from Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) _ Leaders of several American Indian tribes are asking the University of Alabama to return nearly 6,000 human remains and artifacts from the school's archaeological park and museum.

The Oklahoma-based Muscogee Nation has tried for six years to get the remains back, but bureaucratic red tape has slowed the effort, said RaeLynn Butler, the Muscogee Nation's historic and cultural preservation manager.

The situation is no different than if someone dug up a family graveyard and took the remains for study, said Del Beaver, second chief of the Muscogee Nation.

``And then if somebody asked for their grandma back and we said `No, there's too much red tape,''' Beaver told the news site Al.com. ``Just give us our people back.''

Communications with the university slowed during the pandemic, frustrating tribal leaders who believe the remains and artifacts at the university's Moundville Archaeological Park should be reburied, Butler said.

Next week, a federal review committee is scheduled to consider the evidence linking the seven tribes to Moundville and will rule on whether they can claim the remains as their own. However, the committee can't force the university to turn over the remains and artifacts, Butler said.

``The University of Alabama is honored to serve as the steward of Moundville Archaeological Park, one of the nation's premier and best-preserved cultural heritage sites,'' according to a statement provided by university spokeswoman Diedre Stalnaker.

University officials this week made leaders of the Muscogee Nation aware of the school's ``desire to further collaborate on their most recent joint request related to Moundville,'' the statement said.

The Muscogee Nation and a half-dozen other tribes sent a joint claim to the university under the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The 1990 law requires institutions that receive federal funding to return remains and the artifacts buried with them to the tribes where they belong.

The Muscogee Nation was forced out of Alabama in the 1830s during the Trail of Tears. The loss of the remains at Moundville compounds the tragedy, Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill said.

``We didn't even get to do proper burials for those lost in the Trail of Tears,'' Hill said.

``Why do they need all these items in the museum?'' Hill added. ``It's never too late to do the right thing. That's all we want. Just return them back.''

Other tribes involved in effort include the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Chickasaw Nation, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town.

Dakota Language and Culture Teacher Honored For His Work

By RANDY DOCKENDORF
Yankton Press and Dakotan

NIOBRARA, Neb. (AP) _ As he sits alone in his classroom, Redwing Thomas can feel the eyes of the Santee Sioux Nation upon him.

Thomas, a tribal member himself, teaches the Dakota language and culture for grades K-12 at the Isanti (formerly Santee) Community Schools. This year, he also teaches those subjects at the Santee campus of the Nebraska Indian Community College (NICC).

Along two walls of his classroom, portraits of tribal leaders represent the Santee Sioux history, from its original Minnesota homeland to the forced 1860s relocation of members to the current reservation in northeast Nebraska.

``These are our great ancestors,'' he said. ``I recount that trail so people understand why we're here at Santee today. People have got to know it.''

In honor of his work, Thomas was recently recognized as the 2021 recipient of Launch Leadership's Ron Joekel Award. Uncomfortable with the attention, he hadn't planned to attend the awards ceremony but changed his mind at the last minute.

At the awards program in Lincoln, he spoke of the efforts of the entire Santee school and community. In addition, he addressed the importance of embracing and celebrating cultural differences, the Yankton Press and Dakotan reported.

While Thomas wasn't seeking it, he had caught the attention of state officials. Lane Carr with the Nebraska Department of Education met Thomas during a visit. Carr also serves on the Launch Leadership board and nominated Thomas for the Ron Joekel Award.

The award recognizes an educator who elevates student voices and who creates leadership opportunities and advocates for them, according to Carr. In particular, Carr noted Thomas' use of hands-on experiences in the classroom.

Larry Baker, the school's secondary principal and athletic director, described Thomas as a ``1% person'' because of his unique talents as both an educator and individual. Thomas sees his work as a mission, not a job, and has traveled long distances to sing at funerals or lead traditional healing prayers, the principal said.

``There is urgency for Redwing. He is determined not to let the language and culture die,'' Baker said. ``We have maybe three or four (residents) on our reservation who speak the language. We're lucky to have him here.''

As one of Thomas' hands-on projects, students are filling a wall with their images of what makes up Indian Country.

``It is more than a place. It's its own world with its own functions, its own culture and its own protocol,'' Thomas said. ``It's a world that's mostly misunderstood, but it's something that is a very beautiful place.''

One project went far beyond his expectations when students produced a mini-documentary _ reflecting their perspective _ about the Santee Sioux history. They conducted all the research and production, even working weekends and holidays.

``I wanted them to be proud, and they showed it with this particular project,'' he said. ``They're always told how bad it is with Santee, what's wrong with Santee. They get pushed down, and our kids are pushing back and pushing each other up. Everything is about going up and not down.''

While painful, it's important for students to learn about the Santee Sioux forced relocation and other tribal struggles, Thomas said. ``We're survivors, and we can take that survival instinct and push back and become the best we can,'' he said.

Thomas teaches the Dakota language, which is offered as the cultural language rather than one of the European languages. He takes no credit, but he was pleased when the school district changed its name from ``Santee'' to the traditional ``Isanti'' name in recent years.

Not all of the history and culture is taught in the classroom.

Last July, a procession passed through the reservation carrying the remains of nine children who died from 1880-1910 at the government-run boarding school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. A procession escorted the children to their traditional burial ground on the Rosebud Sioux reservation in western South Dakota.

During the procession, the vehicles and escorts stopped briefly at the Ohiya Casino outside Santee and the Fort Randall Casino near Pickstown for prayer, honoring and remembrance. The Isanti school recently held a Day of Remembrance for the children who died in the boarding schools.

``It's very painful, but it's a very important part of the process to have our ancestors back. They are our grandmas and grandpas, our great-grandmas and great-grandpas,'' he said. ``Yes, they were children at the time, but having them back now is so very important. It's closure, it's healing and it's strength all wrapped up in grief. It's a mix of emotions, and there is beauty in all of that.''

The story about the boarding schools and the children's remains is just unfolding and has gained tremendous momentum, he said.

Thomas is making an impact on today's young tribal members, according to student Octavia Blue Bird.

``I believe he is a good teacher because of how involved he is with the class he teaches. He makes sure you understand it, and if you don't, he will tell it in another way,'' she said. ``He is very one-to-one with you. He is very real, too. Thomas will tell it how it is, and he will also give his experiences.''

Thomas holds a great gift of story telling, Blue Bird said.

``He knows how to keep everything interesting and intriguing. Along with how good of a teacher he is, he also has a big impact on us children,'' she said. ``He inspires me with different things every day. He pushes us to do our best. He is the best because he wants the best. He advocates for the betterment of not only ourselves but everyone around us. He is very caring and just overall a great teacher.''

Thomas admits he didn't plan to serve as a Native American cultural instructor. For that matter, he didn't even plan to remain on the Santee Sioux reservation.

After high school graduation, he attended Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. College didn't work out, and he returned to Santee, finding himself unsatisfied with life.

``I knew I wanted more. By then, I was a young father, 18 years old with my first child. It was tough, and I couldn't have done it without my parents,'' he said. ``I remember looking at (my son), he was just a baby. I wanted to get my life on track.''

Thomas saw an advertisement for a language teacher for a program serving Native Americans. Intrigued, he applied and was selected from among 200 applicants. The five chosen for the work were sent to schools across Indian Country, conducting programs across the United States and Canada.

He began teaching in 2003, first at the nearby Marty Indian School in South Dakota for two years. He developed a passion for working with children and sharing the culture in which he was born and raised.

The Native American culture can be found in many ways, such as the regalia at powwows, Thomas said. ``This isn't novelty dress up or some show we're putting on. This is our people and their culture and language that need to be celebrated,'' he said.

Native Americans hold an awareness of their culture, but they have been forbidden to practice it over the years and have been punished for it, Thomas said. He wants to bring back those practices for all generations.

``It's something that's been kept from us over time,'' he said. ``It's the process of rebuilding, reclaiming and renewing interest.''

The learning process isn't limited to Native Americans, Thomas said. He noted the controversy surrounding mascots and stereotypes.

However, Thomas also stresses to his students that the historical actions of one group toward another doesn't define today's individuals. Also, he reminds them that they can hold racist attitudes toward others.

``I don't want our kids to hold a historical grudge,'' he said.

The students also need to realize they represent the Santee Sioux wherever they go, Thomas said.

``When you go to Yankton, show them the beauty of who you are, because it reflects on the whole tribe,'' he said. ``You are there as an individual, but people watch your behavior and it reflects on all of us.''

Thomas credited a team effort for recent successes at the school, but he does believe the students, staff and tribal members have responded positively to his classes. ``I think, when the culture became a big part of it, you could see a flip. When the culture was set free, a big turnaround happened,'' he said.

At the Launch Leadership ceremony in Lincoln, Thomas said he noted that diversity brings strength to the nation. ``I like to see us as a big jigsaw puzzle, where everyone is a special piece. When you put it all together, you form a beautiful picture.''

However, Thomas realizes much work remains beyond his lifetime. ``It took three or four generations to take it out of us, and it will take three or four generations to get it back.''

As he reflects in his classroom, Thomas thinks about himself as the young man who once left the reservation in search of something else.

``I love Santee,'' he said. ``I left, came back, left again and then returned. I'm here for good. I want to be here and it's where I belong.''

Museum Showcases Indigenous Boarding School Experience, Art

By SIERRA CLARK
Traverse City Record-Eagle

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) _ Two temporary exhibits are now on display at the Dennos Museum Center that explore the off-reservation boarding schools for Indigenous children and contemporary Anishinaabek art.

``Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories'' and ``Close to Home: Contemporary Ansihinaabek Artists'' will run until the end of October. Both exhibits are intended for visitors to explore and immerse themselves in the complex histories that surround U.S government-funded residential schools, and the current trends and connections of traditional practices through Anishinaabek artists in the region.

``Away from Home'' is the updated installation of the long-running boarding school exhibition, ``Remembering Our Indian School Days: The Boarding School Experience'' at the Heard Museum, in Phoenix Arizona.

The six-week exhibition is made possible by the NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reports.

According to Heard Museum, the exhibition was developed with an advisory committee of scholars and culture bearers from Indigenous communities nationwide and presents diverse perspectives that highlight personal stories.

Through the compelling collections of archival materials, photographs, art, and first-person interviews from former boarding school students, visitors will witness a kaleidoscope of voices in a series of interactive timelines and immersive environments including classroom and dormitory settings.

The exhibit explores the impact that the schools have had on Indigenous communities, and how those impacts are felt today through historical education panels.

In a statement made by the Heard Museum, ``It is a story that must continue to be shared and one that is central to remembering the nation's past and understanding its present.''

Jason Dake, deputy director of museum programs and learning at the Dennos Museum Center, said he put in the request for the exhibit more than two years ago in an effort to open up representation in the community.

He sought out perspectives from people that aren't from the ``mainstream majority'' and requested the six-week exhibit to fall with Indigneous Peoples' Day, which is officially observed in Traverse City on Oct. 11th.

He was unaware that the timing would coincide with the recent horrifying news of the remains of thousands of Indigenous children discovered at former residential schools' property sites.

In addition, the museum worked closely with Eric Hemenway, director for the department of reparations, archives and records at the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, to supplement the exhibit.

The Dennos Museum will feature additional panels with educational information about Holy Child, which, as previously reported by the Record-Eagle, was a government-funded and Catholic-ran residential boarding school that operated in Harbor Springs until closing in 1983.

``It is important to localize the stories,'' Dake said, adding that the museum in the past has not been fully engaged with the Native American community in the Grand Traverse region.

He said that he wants to hopefully make it clear that the museum is listening and wants to open up the dialogue on how to better it.

``We want to have conversations on how to better improve to serve the Indigenous community,'' Dake said.

Adjacent to the exhibit is ``Close to Home: Contemporary Anishinaabek Artists.''

This includes Indigenous art from the region, including work by 2-spirit Anishinaabe artist Jamie John, 20, a citizen with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

John wanted his artwork available for visitors to see Native art in the 21st century.

``I feel when people think of Native American art, it's not representational to our contemporary work,'' John said.

He added that he wants visitors to think outside of baskets, or weaving.

``Though those are vital pieces of our culture, we are also print makers, painters, and fashion designers.''

Pieces from his collections, ``Unceded Ancestors'' and ``The Invisible'' will be on display in the exhibit. Both explore the ongoing effects of colonialism and how it has intertwined in the way society treats the land and each other, especially in Indigenous communities.

He dedicated his ink paintings, ``The Invisible,'' to his Aunt Teenie, who passed away last year.

He stated that through these paintings his hope is to bring awareness to the medical abuse that Indigenous peoples face within the hospital system.

``It's important to talk about these issues, because of the ongoing and silent genocide that Indigenous communities are going through today, the issue is so big and I want people to see that connection,'' John said.John's work has been featured in the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center as well as a current exhibit in the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum.

His work will be alongside featured Anishinaabek artists including Renee Dillard, Jenna Wood, Yvonne Walker Keshick and Kelly Church until Oct. 31.

Madison Libraries Start Native American Storytelling Program

By MOLLY DeVORE
Wisconsin State Journal

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Andi Cloud has ``always, always'' loved stories.

Growing up, Cloud was tucked into bed with a story told by her ``gaga,'' which means grandma in Ho-Chunk. For Cloud, storytelling is more than a calming nightly ritual _ it's part of her culture.

``As you grow up you hear these stories and you take them with you,'' Cloud said. ``When we hear each other's stories we become connected in a way that you can't get on a YouTube video, you can't get it through film, you have to be there, you have to be present.''

Generations ago, the Ho-Chunk would use long winters to pass down tales of creation and life lessons, Cloud said. As the days become shorter and the air becomes colder in Madison, Cloud is continuing tradition by filling Madison's many public libraries with storytelling.

Cloud, whose Ho-Chunk name is Nizuwinga meaning rain woman, was selected as the Madison Public Library's first Native American Storyteller-in-Residence. An enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Cloud saw an ad for the new program in her tribal newspaper and, after ``marinating'' on it, decided to apply.

Using the internet and stories she grew up hearing as her guides, she planned story times, presentations and traditional skill sharing events that will take place in libraries throughout Madison.

The residency, titled ``Ho-Chunk Through Story: The Origin, The Wayz, and The Life,'' kicked off on Oct. 11, Indigenous People's Day, and will end on Dec. 18.

The Ho-Chunk, also known as the Hoocak, have inhabited the region where Madison now sits, traditionally known as Teejop or Dejope which means Four Lakes, ``since time immemorial.'' Cloud said it is important Wisconsin residents understand the Indigenous history of the region because ``it is a part'' of them.

``There are bridges out there, we just need to make them stronger and we need to come together and learn each other's stories,'' Cloud said. ``When you understand something, you have a better appreciation for it . just like we're proud of our Packers and our Brewers, Native people are a part of Wisconsin too.''

Created through a partnership with Ho-Chunk Gaming, the Storyteller-in-Residence program was inspired by a similar residency created in 2008 at Vancouver Public Library. Neeyati Shah, community engagement librarian with Madison Public Library, observed the program while completing her master's degree in Vancouver, inspiring her to bring it to Wisconsin.

Shah said when she moved to Madison it was clear there was an ``appetite'' for education on Indigenous culture. She thought the Native American residency program would be a perfect fit, especially because the Madison Public Library already does programming around different heritage months.

``The library has all these community spaces and people who come to us to learn,'' Shah said. ``A residency is an opportunity to really dig-in deep . we're just providing the space, the promotion and whatever support we can give (Cloud) for her to tell her stories on her terms.''

After selecting Cloud from about eight other applicants, library staff worked with her on finalizing events throughout September. The residency also allows storytellers to be compensated for the work they do. Shah said Cloud was given a stipend of $900 a month for the three-month program.

Because the residency is still in its infancy, Shah said she is unsure if it will be offered in the exact same form next year. She said the library wants to continue partnering with local tribal nations and will be collecting community feedback throughout the residency, using it to shape future programming focused on Indigenous cultural education.

The residency's initial events lay the groundwork, teaching attendees about the history and structure of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

For a Storytime hosted recently at the Pinney Library patio, Cloud wore one of the many ``wajes'' or ``women's dresses'' she has sewn. During the event she taught attendees about the 12 Ho-Chunk clans. Cloud, a member of the Thunder Clan, used hand-crafted collages to illustrate the different animals and tribal roles associated with each clan.

Continuing the oratory tradition of the Ho-Chunk also helps keep the tribal language and skills alive. Though Ho-Chunk can mean either ``People of the Big Voice'' or ``People of the Sacred Language,'' Cloud said today only a few elders still speak the Ho-Chunk language.

``My mom and her mother used to say that when we lose our language, that will be the end of the world,'' Cloud said.

Incorporating both traditional names and skills into the residency will help ``sustain'' Ho-Chunk culture, Cloud said. One event will teach basket making, a ``fading art'' Ho-Chunk women used to do on roadsides, selling the baskets for income, Cloud explained.

While all of the stories and skills included in Cloud's residency are unique to the Ho-Chunk, she said going forward, the program should be expanded to other tribes and regions.

``There needs to be more programming like this across the state and across the nation,'' Cloud said. ``All these tribes, they have their own stories, they have their own language, their own style of dress, their own clan systems and kinship systems and it's beautiful.''

California to Replace Toppled Statue with Memorial to Tribes

By ADAM BEAM
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ More than a year after protesters toppled a statue of a Spanish missionary on the grounds of the California Capitol, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law on Friday to replace it with a memorial for the state's Native Americans.

A statue of Father Junipero Serra had stood in Capitol Park since 1967. He was a Roman Catholic pries who established a string of missions from San Diego to San Francisco in the late1700s and used them as centers to convert members of nearby tribes to Christianity.

But many natives were forced to live and work at the missions and subjected to beatings and other abuse. Thousands died.

Serra was given sainthood by Pope Francis in 2015, a controversial decision that brought sharp criticism from those who see Serra as a colonialist who destroyed Native American tribes and their cultures.

Last summer, the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer prompted nationwide protests over racial injustice. On July 4, 2020, protesters tore down the Serra statue on the Capitol grounds. Protesters also tore down Serra statues in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Assemblyman James Ramos, a Democrat from Highland and a member of the Serrano/Cahuilla tribe, authored a bill to replace the statue on the Capitol grounds with a memorial for Native Americans in the Sacramento area. It's one of several laws Newsom signed on Friday dealing with Native American issues.

``Today's action sends a powerful message from the grounds of Capitol Park across California underscoring the state's commitment to reckoning with our past and working to advance a California for All built on our values of inclusion and equity,'' Newsom said in a news release announcing the signing.

Last year, Bishop Jaime Soto of the Diocese of Sacramento called it the statue's removal an ``act of vandalism that does little to build the future.'' He wrote there is ``no question'' California's indigenous people suffered during the colonial period but said Serra denounced the system's evils and worked ``to protect the dignity of native peoples.''

``His holiness as a missionary should not be measured by his own failures to stop the exploitation or even his own personal faults,'' Soto wrote.

The law allows tribal nations to plan, construct and maintain the monument. But it could be awhile before the monument is built.

The law says the tribes need permission from the Joint Rules Committee before they can begin construction. The committee has imposed an unofficial moratorium on new memorials until the Department of General Services develops a master plan for the Capitol Park grounds, according to a legislative analysis of the law.

Capitol Park contains at least 12 memorials, including ones honoring veterans and firefighters. Last year, state officials removed a statue from the rotunda of the Capitol depicting Christopher Columbus. The statue had been the centerpiece of the rotunda since 1883, donated by a banker who had advocated for California's Capitol to be built in Sacramento.

Legislative leaders removed the statue of Columbus because they said it was out of place ``given the deadly impact his arrival in this hemisphere had on indigenous populations.''

Tesla Builds 1st Store on Tribal Land, Dodges State Car Laws

By CEDAR ATTANASIO
Associated Press/Report for America

NAMBE, N.M. (AP) _ Carmaker Tesla has opened a store and repair shop on Native American land for the first time, marking a new approach to its yearslong fight to sell cars directly to consumers and cut car dealerships out of the process.

The white-walled, silver-lettered Tesla store, which opened last week, sits in Nambe Pueblo, north of Santa Fe, on tribal land that's not subject to state laws.

The electric car company can only sell and service its vehicles freely in about a dozen states, while it faces restrictions in others. Some, like New Mexico, ban Tesla from offering sales or repairs without going through a dealership. In January, the company struck a deal with Michigan to resolve a 2016 lawsuit, a symbolic victory that allowed it to sell in the backyard of the nation's largest carmakers.

Supporters of Tesla say the shop in New Mexico marks the first time the company has partnered with a tribe to get around state laws, though the idea has been in the works for years.

From Oklahoma to Connecticut and other states, consumers can't buy Teslas because the company won't partner with dealerships and hasn't been successful in winning over the courts or lawmakers to allow its direct sales model.

``These states have lots of sovereign Native American nations in them that could be interested in Tesla,'' said Brian Dear, president of the Tesla Owners Club of New Mexico. ``I don't believe at all that this will be the last.''

Supporters say dealership laws protect middle-class jobs and force dealerships to compete, lowering prices. Critics say people can get information online and direct sales would lower costs.

New Mexico, Alabama, and Louisiana have the strictest bans, barring Tesla from both operating dealerships and repair shops. That makes repairing a Tesla more expensive and more of a hassle. Owners have to get their cars serviced in neighboring states or through traveling Tesla technicians who fix problems with what they have in a van.

The New Mexico Tesla shop, built on the site of a former casino, is nestled between two gas stations along a highway about an hour and a half north of Albuquerque, where most of the state's Tesla owners live, Dear said.

While sales are prohibited in neighboring Texas _ where the company plans to make its pickup trucks next year _ repair shops are allowed. New Mexico Tesla owners have been traveling to El Paso, Texas, or other out-of-state cities to get repairs.

To buy a Tesla, they have to drive hours to pick them up or pay thousands of dollars to have them shipped.

``We drove a gas car _ Volvo station wagon _ to Denver and then I was the `lucky one' who got to drive the gas-powered car back,'' said Howard Coe, a filmmaker who works for a laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, about 30 minutes from Nambe and about five hours from the nearest Colorado Tesla store.

Coe drove his wife's Tesla sedan to the new store in Nambe on Tuesday to ask if an SUV he ordered can be delivered there. The store told him it's not accepting deliveries for the foreseeable future and won't do repairs until later this month.

Tribal officials who brokered the deal over a two-year period say it lines up with business interests and cultural values like caring for the environment.

The tribe ``has the responsibility to the land where we have resided for over 1,000 years,'' said Carlos Vigil, president of the Nambe Pueblo Development Corporation, calling Tesla's service center ``a renewable business that lines up with our belief system.''

Car dealership advocates say they respect the tribe's decision but that they hope customers will buy electric cars from companies that follow state rules, arguing dealerships compete to lower prices and can service vehicles in more parts of the state.

``We have competition, we have the expertise, we're in your local communities,'' said Ken Ortiz, president of the New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association. ``We contribute to the taxes.''

New Mexico has tax treaties with the tribe for sales, gambling and gasoline taxes. But tribal and state officials say it's unclear if Tesla will have to pay vehicle sales taxes or how the revenue would be split between them.

Tesla, which dissolved its public relations department and generally doesn't answer media inquiries, did not respond to a request for comment.

In response to a Tweet complaining of wait times in the Northeast last month, CEO Elon Musk wrote, ``Tesla will expedite service center openings.``

___

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 him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/viaCedar

Dept. of Labor Funds 4 Million to Assist Cherokee Workforce

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor announced the supplemental award of $4 million, with $1.3 million released initially, to the Cherokee Nation to support continued disaster-relief employment and workforce development in response to the pandemic’s impacts on its people.

In July 2020, the department awarded a $3 million National Dislocated Worker Grant to the Cherokee Nation. Today’s initial release of supplemental funding brings the total released to the Cherokee Nation for this DWG to $4.3 million.

The Cherokee Nation will use funding to deliver employment and training services and provide humanitarian support to eligible individuals. It is the largest tribe in the U.S., with more than 390,000 tribal citizens worldwide, with approximately 114,000 residing in northeastern Oklahoma.

The award is one of 64 National Dislocated Worker Grants made by the department to help address the coronavirus public health emergency impacts on the U.S. workforce. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act provided $345 million for Dislocated Worker Grants to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2020, emergency declarations issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency enabled the Cherokee Nation to request this funding.

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, DWGs temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large and unexpected economic events that cause significant job losses.

Warming Rivers in US West Killing Fish, Imperiling Industry

By DAISY NGUYEN
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Baby salmon are dying by the thousands in one California river, and an entire run of endangered salmon could be wiped out in another. Fishermen who make their living off adult salmon, once they enter the Pacific Ocean, are sounding the alarm as blistering heat waves and extended drought in the U.S. West raise water temperatures and imperil fish from Idaho to California.

Hundreds of thousands of young salmon are dying in Northern California's Klamath River as low water levels brought about by drought allow a parasite to thrive, devastating a Native American tribe whose diet and traditions are tied to the fish. And wildlife officials said the Sacramento River is facing a ``near-complete loss'' of young Chinook salmon due to abnormally warm water.

A crash in one year's class of young salmon can have lasting effects on the total population and shorten or stop the fishing season, a growing concern as climate change continues to make the West hotter and drier. That could be devastating to the commercial salmon fishing industry, which in California alone is worth $1.4 billion.

The plummeting catch already has led to skyrocketing retail prices for salmon, hurting customers who say they can no longer afford the $35 per pound of fish, said Mike Hudson, who has spent the last 25 years catching and selling salmon at farmers markets in Berkeley.

Hudson said he has considered retiring and selling his 40-foot (12-meter) boat because ``it's going to get worse from here.''

Winter-run Chinook salmon are born in the Sacramento River, traverse hundreds of miles to the Pacific, where they normally spend three years before returning to their birthplace to mate and lay their eggs between April and August. Unlike the fall-run Chinook that survives almost entirely due to hatchery breeding programs, the winter run is still largely reared in the wild.

Federal fisheries officials predicted in May that more than 80% of baby salmon could die because of warmer water in the Sacramento River. Now, state wildlife officials say that number could be higher amid a rapidly depleting pool of cool water in Lake Shasta. California's largest reservoir is filled to only about 35% capacity, federal water managers said this week.

``The pain we're going to feel is a few years from now, when there will be no naturally spawned salmon out in the ocean,'' said John McManus, executive director of the Golden State Salmon Association, which represents the fishing industry.

When Lake Shasta was formed in the 1940s, it blocked access to the cool mountain streams where fish traditionally spawned. To ensure their survival, the U.S. government is required to maintain river temperatures below 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 Celsius) in spawning habitat because salmon eggs generally can't withstand anything warmer.

The warm water is starting to affect older fish, too. Scientists have seen some adult fish dying before they can lay their eggs.

``An extreme set of cascading climate events is pushing us into this crisis situation,'' said Jordan Traverso, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Wildlife and Fish.

The West has been grappling with a historic drought and recent heat waves worsened by climate change, stressing waterways and reservoirs that sustain millions of people and wildlife.

As a result, the state has been trucking millions of salmon raised at hatcheries to the ocean each year, bypassing the perilous downstream journey. State and federal hatcheries take other extraordinary measures to preserve the decimated salmon stocks, such as maintaining a genetic bank to prevent inbreeding at hatcheries and releasing them at critical life stages, when they can recognize and return to the water where they were born.

Fishermen and environmental groups blame water agencies for diverting too much water too soon to farms, which could lead to severe salmon die-off and drive the species closer to extinction.

``We know that climate change is going to make years like this more common, and what the agencies should be doing is managing for the worst-case scenario,'' said Sam Mace, a director of Save Our Wild Salmon, a coalition working to restore wild salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.

``We need some real changes in how rivers are managed if they're going to survive,'' she added.

On the Klamath River near the Oregon state line, California wildlife officials decided not to release more than 1 million young Chinook salmon into the wild and instead drove them to hatcheries that could host them until river conditions improve.

Much is riding on this class of salmon because it could be the first to return to the river if plans to remove four of six dams on the Klamath and restore fish access to the upper river go according to plan.

Across the West, officials are struggling with the similar concerns over fish populations.

In Idaho, officials recognized that endangered sockeye salmon wouldn't make their upstream migration through hundreds of miles of warm water to their spawning habitat, so they flooded the Snake River with cool water, then trapped and trucked the fish to hatcheries.

And environmentalists went to court this month in Portland, Oregon, to try to force dam operators on the Snake and Columbia rivers to release more water at dams blocking migrating salmon, arguing that the effects of climate change and a recent heat wave were further threatening fish already on the verge of extinction.

Low water levels are also affecting recreational fishing. Officials in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and California are asking anglers to fish during the coolest parts of the day to minimize the impact on fish stressed from low-oxygen levels in warm water.

Scientists say the salmon population in California historically has rebounded after a drought because they have evolved to tolerate the Mediterranean-like climate and benefited from rainy, wet years. But an extended drought could lead to extinction of certain runs of salmon.

``We're at the point where I'm not sure drought is appropriate term to describe what's happening,'' said Andrew Rypel, a fish ecologist at the University of California, Davis. He said the West is transitioning to an increasingly water-scarce environment.

Hudson, the fisherman, said he used to spend days at sea when the salmon season was longer and could catch 100 fish per day.

This year, he said he was lucky to catch 80 to sell at the market.

``Retiring would be the smart thing to do, but I can't bring myself to do it because these fish have been so good to us for all these years,'' Hudson said. ``I can't just walk away from it.''

___

Associated Press writer Gillian Flaccus in Portland, Oregon, and Jim Anderson in Denver contributed to this report.

Keystone XL pipeline nixed after Biden stands firm on permit

By MATTHEW BROWN
Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ The sponsor of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline pulled the plug on the contentious project Wednesday after Canadian officials failed to persuade President Joe Biden to reverse his cancellation of its permit on the day he took office.

Calgary-based TC Energy said it would work with government agencies ``to ensure a safe termination of and exit`` from the partially built line, which was to transport crude from the oil sand fields of western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska.

Construction on the 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) pipeline began last year when former President Donald Trump revived the long-delayed project after it had stalled under the Obama administration. It would have moved up to 830,000 barrels (35 million gallons) of crude daily, connecting in Nebraska to other pipelines that feed oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Biden canceled the pipeline's border crossing permit in January over longstanding concerns that burning oil sands crude could make climate change worse and harder to reverse.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had objected to the move , raising tensions between the U.S. and Canada. Officials in Alberta, where the line originated, expressed frustration in recent weeks that Trudeau wasn't pushing Biden harder to reinstate the pipeline's permit.

Alberta invested more than $1 billion in the project last year, kick-starting construction that had stalled amid determined opposition to the line from environmentalists and Native American tribes along its route.

Alberta officials said Wednesday they reached an agreement with TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, to exit that partnership. The company and province plan to try to recoup the government's investment, although neither offered any immediate details on how that would happen.

``We remain disappointed and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding the Keystone XL project, including the cancellation of the presidential permit for the pipeline's border crossing,`` Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement.

The province had hoped the pipeline would spur increased development in the oil sands and bring tens of billions of dollars in royalties over decades.

Climate change activists viewed the expansion of oil sands development as an environmental disaster that could speed up global warming as the fuel is burned. That turned Keystone into a flashpoint in the climate debate, and it became the focus of rallies and protests in Washington, D.C., and other cities.

Environmentalists who had fought the project since it was first announced in 2008 said its cancellation marks a ``landmark moment'' in the effort to curb the use of fossil fuels.

``Good riddance to Keystone XL,'' said Jared Margolis with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of many environmental groups that sued to stop it.

On Montana's Fort Belknap Reservation, tribal president Andy Werk Jr. described the end of Keystone as a relief to Native Americans who stood against it out of concerns a line break could foul the Missouri River or other waterways.

Attorneys general from 21 states had sued to overturn Biden's cancellation of the pipeline, which would have created thousands of construction jobs. Republicans in Congress have made the cancellation a frequent talking point in their criticism of the administration, and even some moderate Senate Democrats including Montana's Jon Tester and West Virginia's Joe Manchin had urged Biden to reconsider.

Tester said in a statement Wednesday that he was disappointed in the project's demise, but made no mention of Biden.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, was more direct: ``President Biden killed the Keystone XL Pipeline and with it, thousands of good-paying American jobs.''

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on TC Energy's announcement. In his Jan. 20 cancellation order, Biden said allowing the line to proceed ``would not be consistent with my administration's economic and climate imperatives.''

TC Energy said in canceling the pipeline that the company is focused on meeting ``evolving energy demands'' as the world transitions to different power sources. It said it has $7 billion in other projects under development.

Keystone XL's price tag had ballooned as the project languished, increasing from $5.4 billion to $9 billion. Meanwhile, oil prices fell significantly _ from more than $100 a barrel in 2008 to under $70 in recent months _ slowing development of Canada's oil sands and threatening to eat into any profits from moving the fuel to refineries.

A second TC Energy pipeline network, known simply as Keystone, has been delivering crude from Canada's oil sands region since 2010. The company says on its website that Keystone has moved more than 3 billion barrels of crude from Alberta and an oil loading site in Cushing, Oklahoma.

Boom in Native American Oil Complicates Biden Climate Push

By MATTHEW BROWN and FELICIA FONSECA
Associated Press

NEW TOWN, N.D. (AP) _ On oil well pads carved from the wheat fields around Lake Sakakawea, hundreds of pump jacks slowly bob to extract 100 million barrels of crude annually from a reservation shared by three Native American tribes.

About half their 16,000 members live on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation atop one of the biggest U.S. oil discoveries in decades, North Dakota's Bakken shale formation.

The drilling rush has brought the tribes unimagined wealth -- more than $1.5 billion and counting -- and they hope it will last another 20 to 25 years. The boom also propelled an almost tenfold spike in oil production from Native American lands since 2009, federal data shows, complicating efforts by President Joe Biden to curb carbon emissions.

Burning of oil from tribal lands overseen by the U.S. government now produces greenhouse gases equivalent to about 12 million vehicles a year, according to an Associated Press analysis. But Biden exempted Native American lands from a suspension of new oil and gas leases on government-managed land in deference to tribes' sovereign status.

A judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked the suspension June 15, but the administration continues to develop plans that could extend the ban or make leases more costly.

With tribal lands now producing more than 3% of U.S. oil and huge reserves untapped, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland _ the first Native American to lead a U.S. cabinet-level agency _ faces competing pressures to help a small number of tribes develop their fossil fuels while also addressing climate change that affects all Native communities.

``We're one of the few tribes that have elected to develop our energy resources. That's our right,'' tribal Chairman Mark Fox told AP at the opening of a Fort Berthold museum and cultural center built with oil revenue. ``We can develop those resources and do it responsibly so our children and grandchildren for the next 100 years have somewhere to live.''

Smallpox nearly wiped out the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes in the mid-1800s. They lost most of their territory to broken treaties _ and a century later, their best remaining lands along the Missouri River were flooded when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created Lake Sakakawea. With dozens of villages uprooted, many people moved to a replacement community above the lake _ New Town.

Today, leaders of the three tribes view oil as their salvation and want to keep drilling before it's depleted and the world moves past fossil fuels.

And they want the Biden administration to speed up drilling permits and fend off efforts to shut down a pipeline carrying most reservation oil to refineries.

PIPELINE FIGHT

Yet tribes left out of the drilling boom have become outspoken against fossil fuels as climate change worsens. One is the Standing Rock Sioux about 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the south.

Home to the Dakota and Lakota nations, Standing Rock gained prominence during a months-long standoff between law enforcement and protesters, including tribal officials, who tried to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline that carries Fort Berthold crude.

A judge revoked the pipeline's government permit because of inadequate environmental analysis and allowed crude to flow during a new review. But Standing Rock wants the administration to halt the oil for good, fearing a pipeline break could contaminate its drinking water.

Meantime, attention surrounding the skirmish provided the Sioux with foundation backing to develop a wind farm in Porcupine Hills, an area of scrub oak and buffalo grass with cattle ranches.

The pipeline fight stirs bitter memories in Fawn Wasin Zi, a teacher who chairs the Standing Rock renewable power authority. She grew up hearing her father and grandmother tell about a government dam that created Lake Oahe _ how they had to leave their home then watch government agents burn it, only to be denied housing, electricity and other promised compensation.

Wasin Zi, whose ancestors followed legendary Lakota leader Sitting Bull, wants to ensure the tribe doesn't fall victim yet again to a changing world, where fossil fuels warm the planet and bring drought and wildfire.

``We have to find a way to use the technology that's available right now, whether it's geothermal or solar or wind,`` she said.

Only a dozen of the 326 tribal reservations produce significant oil, according to a drilling analysis provided to AP by S&P Global Platts.

Biden's nominee to oversee them as assistant secretary for Indian affairs, Bryan Newland, recently told a U.S. Senate committee the administration recognizes the importance of oil and gas to some reservations and pledged to let tribes determine resource development.

Interior officials denied interview requests about tribal energy plans, but said tribes were consulted in April after Biden ordered the department to ``engage with tribal authorities`` on developing renewables and fossil fuels.

Joseph McNeill Jr, manager of Standing Rock's energy authority, said a conference call with Interior yielded no pledges to further the tribe's wind project. Fort Berthold officials said they've had no offers of discussions with the administration.

ONE TRIBE'S BUILDING BOOM

Fort Berthold still reels from ills oil brought _ worse crime and drugs, tanker truck traffic, road fatalities, spills of oil and wastewater. Tribal members lament that stars are lost in the glare of flaring waste gas from wells.

Yet oil brought positive changes, too. As the tribes' coffers fattened, dozens of projects got underway. The reservation now boasts new schools, senior centers, parks, civic centers, health and drug rehab facilities. Oil money is building a $26 million greenhouse complex heated by electricity from gas otherwise wasted.

The $30 million cultural center in New Town pieces together the tribes' fractured past through displays and artifacts. A sound studio captures stories from elders who lived through dam construction and flooding along the Missouri. And one exhibit traces the oil boom after fracking allowed companies to tap reserves once too difficult to drill.

``Our little town, New Town, changed overnight,'' said MHA Nation Interpretive Center Director Delphine Baker. ``We never had traffic lights growing up. It's like I moved to a different town.''

HOPING FOR ``MORNING LIGHT''

Lower on the Missouri, Standing Rock grapples with high energy costs. There's no oil worth extracting, no gas or coal. The biggest employer beside tribal government is a casino, where revenue plummeted during the pandemic.

``There's nothing here. No jobs. Nothing,'' said Donald Whitelightning, Jr., who lives in Cannon Ball, near the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.

Whitelightning, who cares for his mother in a modest home, said he pays up to $500 a month for electricity in winter. Utility costs, among North Dakota's highest, severely strain a reservation officials say has 40% poverty and 75% unemployment.

The tribe hopes its wind project, Anpetu Wi, meaning ``morning light,'' will help. Officials predict its 235 megawatts _ enough for roughly 94,000 homes _ would double their annual revenue and fund benefits like those Fort Berthold derives from oil _ housing, health care, more jobs.

Standing Rock's power authority can directly negotiate aspects of the project. Yet it needs Interior approval because the U.S. holds tribal lands in trust.

``AN OIL FIELD TO PROTECT''

Outside North Dakota, tribes with oil _ the Osage in Oklahoma, the Navajo in the Southwest and Native corporations in Alaska _ also are pushing the Biden administration to cede power over energy development, including letting tribes conduct environmental reviews.

A Navajo company's operations in the Aneth field in southern Utah bring about $28 million to $35 million annually. Active since the 1950s, the field likely has another 30 years of life, said James McClure, chief executive of the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Co..

The company has considered expanding into federal land in New Mexico and Colorado. Biden's attempts to suspend new leases could slow those plans, and it's considering helium production as an option.

In northern Oklahoma, the Osage have been drilling oil for more than a century.

Cognizant of global warming and shifting energy markets, they are pondering renewables, too. For now, they want the Biden administration to speed up drilling permits.

``We are looking at what is going to be best for us,'' said Everett Waller, chairman of the tribe's energy regulator. ``I wasn't given a wind turbine. I was given an oil field to protect.''

Fonseca reported from Flagstaff, Ariz.

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.

Peace Medal Depicting Seneca Chief, Washington Returned

SALAMANCA, N.Y. (AP) _ The peace medal that depicts Seneca Chief Red Jacket and George Washington has been returned to the Seneca nation in a ceremony Monday after more than a 120 years of being held by a Buffalo museum.

The 7-inch (18-centimeter) silver medal was given to Chief Red Jacket by Washington to commemorate their negotiating the Treaty of Canandaigua in 1794, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.

The treaty was signed by the Haudenosaunee confederacy, which includes the Seneca Nation, and promised perpetual peace and friendship between the United States and the Haudenosaunee. It also defined the territories held by the nations, promised the U.S. would not disturb those lands and guaranteed free passage for the people of the United States through those lands.

The treaty is still in effect more than 225 years later, though the nations have lost control of vast portions of the territory they held at the time of its signing.

The medal had been in the possession of the Buffalo History Museum since 1895. The Seneca Iroquois National Museum, also known as the Onohsagwe:de' Cultural Center, received the medal at an outdoor ceremony in Salamanca, New York, and it will be on display there.

``This medal _ it represents what lives inside each and every Seneca person: the heart of a sovereign and our rightful recognition as such. This is our identity as a Nation,'' Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels said. ``It cannot be owned, bought or sold. It belongs to all of us and is passed from generation to generation so it can live forever.``

``Reassessment is not enough,'' said Melissa Brown, executive director of the Buffalo History Museum, at the ceremony. ``Action is imperative to ensure that any artifacts of cultural (importance) are returned.''

Indian Chief's Descendant Wants Harvard to Return Tomahawk

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ A Native American lawyer wants Harvard University to return a tomahawk once owned by his pioneering ancestor, Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca Tribe.

Brett Chapman, of Oklahoma, told GBH last week that he's reached out to the Cambridge, Massachusetts university's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology to return the heirloom.

Standing Bear gave the tomahawk to one of his lawyers after winning the 1879 Nebraska federal court case that made him one of the first Native Americans granted civil rights under U.S. law, Chapman said.

Standing Bear's lawyer wrongfully gave away the artifact and that others, including the Ponca tribe of Nebraska, are now also seeking its return, he said.

``My objection here is on a moral basis,`` he told the station. ``Standing Bear had no idea that what he thought was family was just going to give away this relic.''

A university spokesperson told the station the museum is open to ``conversations that could lead to repatriation,`` but that other family members and tribal representatives should be part of the discussions.

Earlier this year, a Native American group complained that the Harvard museum has not always consulted with tribes about cultural items that could be returned to them, in violation of federal law.

Colorado Is Latest to Weigh Ban On Native American Mascots

By PATTY NIEBERG
Associated Press/Report for America

DENVER (AP) _ Colorado lawmakers are considering a proposal that would ban Native American mascots in public schools and colleges amid a nationwide push for racial justice that gained new momentum last year following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the NFL team in Washington changing its name.

The measure that the state Senate Education Committee is scheduled to discuss Thursday would include a $25,000 monthly fine on public schools, colleges and universities that use an American Indian-themed mascots after June 1, 2022.

Colorado is one of seven states considering legislation that would prohibit the use of Native American mascots, according the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2019, Maine became the first state to ban the use of such mascots.

Nearly two dozen schools in Colorado still use Native American mascots such as the ``Warriors,'' ``Reds'' and ``Savages,'' according to Democratic state Sen. Jessie Danielson, one of the bill's sponsors. Two prominent high schools dropped their ``Indians'' mascot in the last year: Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs and Loveland High School in a city in northern Colorado.

The use of American Indian mascots, according to the legislation, ``creates an unsafe learning environment'' for Indigenous students by ``promoting bullying'' and teaches other students that ``it is acceptable to participate in culturally abusive and prejudicial behaviors.''

The push to remove mascots with Native American imagery began during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, according to the National Congress of American Indians, a nonprofit established in 1944 to protect Native American and Alaska Native rights.

The movement gained little attention until 2005 when the National Collegiate Athletic Association directed schools to end the use of ``hostile or abusive'' mascots and imagery in college-level sports. In later years, the conversation spread to the multibillion-dollar industry of the NFL.

After years of pressure and a federal ruling, the NFL team in Washington decided to drop the Redskins name last July and become the ``Washington Football Team.''

More than 1,900 schools across the U.S. had American Indian-themed mascots as of last week, according to a database kept by the National Congress of American Indians.

In 2020, there were 68 schools in Utah, Ohio, Michigan, Idaho, New York, Massachusetts and California that scrapped American Indian-themed mascots, the database shows.

Proposed name changes often draw pushback because getting rid of a mascot means new uniforms, signs on fields and imagery on merchandise.

Measures in Washington state and Illinois would allow the use if a nearby tribes approve a request made by the school, something Oregon has already passed. In addition to obtaining written consent, Illinois' bill also adds exemptions for schools that conduct yearly schoolwide programs on Native American culture and offer courses on ``Native American contributions to society.''

California prohibits public schools from using ``Redskins'' as a nickname or mascot.

Nieberg 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.

Students Visit Michigan Tech in Internship Program

By GARRETT NEESE
The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON, Mich. (AP) _ A Watersmeet High School student met with professors and college students at Michigan Technological University recently as part of an internship program aimed at promoting Native American interest in STEM fields.

``My science teacher actually brought it up in class, and I figured, `Why not?''' said Watersmeet 11th-grader Assiniis Chosa. ``I really do like life science, so it didn't hurt to come try.''

Because of the pandemic, Chosa had only gotten virtual presentations along with his classmates, according to The Daily Mining Gazette. Five presenters talked to them about careers in natural resources and engineering: Sarah Hoy, a research assistant professor at Tech's College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science; Joan Chadde, director of the MTU Center for Science and Environmental Outreach; Rita Mills, tribal liaison for Hiawatha National Forest; and Watersmeet graduate and mechanical engineer Aurora White.

``Last summer, they couldn't come to campus, so this is the best we could do, giving them a virtual internship,'' Chadde said.

The internship programs can give students a more in-depth knowledge and understanding of the research that goes on at Tech, and also promote interest in conservation, Hoy said.

``I think it's very important to encourage people to care about the environment, and for people to know what we do,'' she said.

The program was supported by a grant from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium, along with funding from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Forest Resources & Environmental Science and the Ecosystem Science Center.

The visit included meeting with Hoy as well as assistant professor Kristin Brzeski, who gave a tour of the building and discussed conservation genetics and mammalogy.

During lunch, graduate student Emily Shaw talked about her research with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community on pollutants in fish.

In what Chosa described as his favorite part, he learned about moose curation and the study of their teeth via samples of moose from Isle Royale National Park.

Studying the teeth of the wolves can tell how old they were when they died, and their diet, which can reveal important information about the demographics of the moose population and its health.

``It seems over the last 40 years, the moose population on Isle Royale have actually been getting smaller and smaller,'' Hoy said. ``And we try to link that to see how the changes in body size or the health of the moose population is related to what's going on with the wolf population.''

Chosa has roots at Michigan Technological University and in natural resources. His grandfather, Thomas Chosa, graduated from Tech with a forestry degree in the 1970s, and went on to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where he started the national wild land fire management program for Native Americans. His aunt also works with wildlife at the KBIC, he said.

He is considering studying life sciences at Tech, although Finlandia's nursing program is also a possibility, he said.

``I like working with animals and studying them, because I've always liked nature,'' he said.

Students also will do virtual exercises, including analysis of data collected about moose, such as their GPS movements and their diets.

``I think it's important not to just be a scientist hidden away in an office writing papers that nobody's ever going to read,'' Foy said. ``I think it is really important to try and teach people about what we do and about wildlife and try and get them excited. And so hopefully Assiniis finds it a valuable experience as well.''

Teachers have been enthusiastic about how the program has impacted students, Chadde said. She hopes at least the presentations can continue beyond the year-long grant.

``In high school, you just don't know what's possible,'' she said. ``So we're trying to show them all the possibilities.''

Tribes File Brief in Lawsuit Against Cal State University

LONG BEACH, Calif. – The Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation – Belardes and the California Cultural Resources Preservation Alliance, Inc. filed an opening brief in their lawsuit against California State University-Long Beach. The groups argue that the university violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it dumped 6,400 cubic yards of construction dirt and debris on a listed historic and sacred Native American site without conducting an environmental review of the potential impacts. The groups also claim that the university failed to consult the Tribe before dumping the debris to avoid adverse impacts to the site.

The dumping of construction dirt was the latest in a decades-long struggle between the area’s Tribes, who use the sacred Puvungna site regularly and for whom Puvungna holds historical, cultural, and religious significance, and the university, which has repeatedly tried to build on or cover over the site. The Tribal group is asking that the university end this long-standing controversy by removing the construction dirt and debris, restoring the site to its previous state, and entering into a legally-binding agreement to permanently protect this sacred land.

“The university’s recent actions again highlight the need to correct their false idea that they can do whatever they want with this land,” said Juaneño Band Chairman Matias Belardes. “We have been in this struggle for 30 years and we are tired of fighting the university. The recent desecration of our land is the last straw. We call on CSULB President Conoley, CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro, the CSU Board of Trustees, and Governor Newsom to bring this issue to a resolution now by entering into a legally-binding agreement to restore and permanently protect Puvungna.”

This 22-acre parcel of land is the most significant remaining undeveloped parcel of the Tribal group’s sacred land in Southern California. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and on the California Native American Heritage Commission’s Sacred Lands Inventory.

“Dumping construction dirt and debris on this land is fundamentally disrespectful and, what’s more, it is a continuation of the cultural genocide that has been practiced on the Indigenous people of Southern California for centuries,” said Rebecca Robles, Acjachemen Tribal Culture Bearer of the Juaneño Band. “Just as the university would not consider dumping construction debris on top of a church or on graves in a local cemetery, they should not be dumping debris on this site that holds the graves of our ancestors and serves as a place of worship and celebration for the Tribal groups across this region.”

When the university attempted to build a strip mall on Puvungna almost thirty years ago, the Tribal group sued the university. As a result of that lawsuit, the university was stopped from developing the mall, but no permanent protection was agreed upon.

Echoes of that lawsuit are being heard now, as two of the original plaintiffs – Chairman Belardes and Tribal Manager and Cultural Resource Director Joyce Stanfield Perry – are actively involved in this new lawsuit. Robles’ mother, Lillian, was also involved in the original lawsuit.

“Less than two years ago, Governor Newsom issued a formal apology to the Native Americans of California, acknowledging that the state government had committed genocide and announcing a Truth and Healing Council to work collaboratively to begin the healing process,” said Perry. “The CSU system should follow the example of our governor instead of continuing to disrespect and ignore the rights of the original owners of this land. Now is the time to set things right for Puvungna and for California’s Native people.”

The Tribe, CCRPA, and Friends of Puvungna are asking members of the public to speak up for Native land. Supporters can call and email CSU decision makers and ask that they restore and permanently protect Puvungna:

1. Call CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro at 562-951-4700 or email at CSU-chancellor@calstate.edu

2. Call CSU Board of Trustees Chair Lillian Kimbell at 562-951-4020 or email at trusteesecretariat@calstate.edu

3. Call Governor Newsom (an Ex Officio CSU Trustee) at 916-445-2841 or contact online at https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/ ; select “Education Issues” for the subject.

For more information about the lawsuit or to arrange interviews please contact Severn Williams, Public Good PR, 510-336-9566 or sev@publicgoodpr.com.

Forty CA Groups Sign On Letter to Cal State to Protect Sacred Sites

Growing controversy pits Southern California’s Native American community against state university system for dumping construction debris, planning parking lot construction on sacred site.

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Native American and social and environmental justice organizations from around California today submitted a joint letter to the California State University Trustees and Governor Newsom. The groups ask CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro, CSU Board of Trustees Chair Lillian Kimbell, and Governor Gavin Newsom to act immediately to restore and permanently protect Puvungna, a 22-acre parcel of land on the 322-acre CSU-Long Beach campus that is sacred to the area’s Native American Tribal groups.

The decades-long simmering controversy over control of Puvungna came to a boil in the fall of 2019 when the university dumped large quantities of construction debris and dirt on the land. The university also sprayed pesticides on the meadow and drove heavy equipment over ceremonial areas on the site. The Juaneño Band has argued that dumping the soil, along with concrete, rebar and other debris, on this land that holds archeological artifacts and that is actively used by local Tribal groups for ceremonies and celebrations, is not acceptable. But almost a year and a half later, the university has yet to address the damage caused to the site.

The joint letter comes as momentum around the controversy is growing between the university and local Tribal groups, including the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation - Belardes, the Gabrielino/Tongva, and other Native American people in Southern California. Puvungna holds significant religious, cultural, and historical importance to these groups and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and on the California Native American Heritage Commission’s Sacred Lands Inventory. The signees include the California Cultural Resources Preservation Alliance, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, Confederated Villages of Lisjan, San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians, Indian People Organizing for Change, Sacred Sites International, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples, Society of Native Nations, Mujeres de Maiz, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, Communities for a Better Environment, and many others.

In an attempt to protect the most significant remaining undeveloped parcel of their sacred tribal land in Southern California, the Juaneño Band and the California Cultural Resources Preservation Alliance (CCRPA) in late 2019 filed a lawsuit against the university. That lawsuit is ongoing, with the Tribe and CCRPA to file an opening brief in mid-March. The groups have asked that the university clean up the debris, permanently protect the land, and enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure adequate consultation in the future.

University leaders have made statements on social media that they have no current plans to develop this site, but the only way to protect Puvungna in perpetuity is for the university to enter into a written, legally binding agreement that would protect this land. To date the university has been unwilling to enter into such an agreement.

“This is not about what the University President says, or the Trustees or even the Governor,” said Matias Belardes, Chairman of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation - Belardes. “It’s about the actions they take and what they are actually willing to do through the law. Native Americans have been given all sorts of promises over the course of the last 250 years. But it’s the legally binding agreements that have provided some measure of protection for our lands, our peoples, our spiritual traditions and our cultural heritage.”

Internal communications clearly indicate that the university had intended to pave over parts of this last remaining parcel of sacred land to build a parking lot. At first the university publicly denied this plan; but when presented with evidence, they backpedaled and adjusted their statement to say they were no longer pursuing the idea.

Chairman Belardes added, “There is long, tragic history in California and across this continent, of oppression and cultural erasure of Native Americans. We have an opportunity right now -- with this matter of protecting Puvungna -- to right past wrongs and begin a healing process. The generation of young people going to school at CSULB support our cause and our fight for justice. I invite the leaders of CSU to stop misappropriating our sacred land and join us in this endeavor to heal and to move forward.”

The Board of Trustees is meeting next on March 23-24. The Juaneño Band’s Tribal leaders have requested that this issue of protecting Puvungna be put on the agenda. They ask that the Trustees take the initiative to end this controversy by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding and directing CSULB to restore and preserve Puvungna in perpetuity.

To speak with Tribal leaders, please contact Public Good PR at 510-336-9566 or sev@publicgoodpr.com.

Women Challenge Tribal Banishment in US Appeals Court

By COLLEEN SLEVIN
Associated Press

DENVER (AP) _ A lawyer for four women who were temporarily banned from the Ute Indian Tribe's reservation in Utah asked a federal appeals court on Tuesday to revive a lawsuit challenging their punishment.

In 2018, the tribe banned Angelita Chegup, Tara Amboh, Mary Carol Jenkins and Lynda Kozlowicz from its reservation about 150 miles (241 kilometers) east of Salt Lake City for five years over allegations they tried to destabilize the tribal government and had filed frivolous lawsuits for nearly 30 years, among other things.

The women's lawyer, Ryan Dreveskracht, told a three-judge panel for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver during a virtual hearing that courts have previously found that Native Americans have the right to challenge a banishment. He said the punishment puts 15% of the state off limits to his clients.

``This is the only land they have ever known,'' he said.

The tribe's lawyer, Preston Stieff, argued that federal courts have not found that a temporary banishment is the equivalent of being in custody, the legal standard for them to intervene in tribal discipline under the Indian Civil Rights Act. The 1968 law prevents sovereign tribal governments from infringing on the rights of members and non-members.

Tribes historically did not build jails to incarcerate people and banishment developed as a way to deal with people both accused of committing crimes and also civil offenses, said Grant Christensen, a professor at the University of North Dakota's law school who focuses on Native American law.

The Ute Indian Tribe says the women, described in their lawsuit as older, tried to disrupt federal litigation between it and Utah to stop the reservation from being reduced in size. The existing reservation boundaries were eventually upheld, the tribe said.

A federal district judge in Utah threw out the women's claim, citing a 2017 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in another temporary banishment case. It involved members of the United Auburn Indian Community in California who were banished for 10 years after they publicly accused the tribal council of financial mismanagement and claimed that tribal elections were rigged.

The court ruled that they did not have a right to challenge the banishment in federal court because of tribes' sovereign immunity to determine the makeup of their communities.

However, in 1996 the 2nd Circuit appeals court found that a federal court could become involved in a case of permanent banishment imposed by the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians in New York.

Alaska Native Medical Center exceeds coronavirus capacity

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) _ The Alaska Native Medical Center, which specializes in health care for Alaska Native and American Indian people in the state, said it is now over capacity with coronavirus patients and had to open an alternate care site to handle overflow.

The hospital's Acting Administrator Dr. Robert Onders said during a virtual town hall on Monday that the critical care unit is so flooded that it cannot hold all the Anchorage hospital's most seriously ill patients.

``So we're extremely tenuous right now,'' Onders said.

There are now multiple critical patients who require individual nursing and who are lying on their stomachs in a prone position to help them breath, KYUK-AM reported in Bethel Tuesday.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region in southwestern Alaska had the highest coronavirus case rate in the state as of Tuesday with about 273 cases per 100,000 people across the region on Tuesday.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel had urged earlier this month for every community in the region to shelter-in-place for a month in response to a spike in virus cases.

The state reported a record-high 13 deaths in a single day on Tuesday, though only five of the deaths were classified as ``recent.'' Alaska reported a record-high number of new confirmed cases on a single day on Nov. 14 with 745.

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.

About 20% of coronavirus patients at the ANMC require critical care. Onders said he expects the hospital's situation to worsen.

``Now is the time to act to reduce our case loads and try to prevent us from completely overwhelming the entire health care system,'' said Dr. Ellen Hodges, chief of staff for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation.

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.

FBI, BIA Searching for 8-Year-Old Girl Last Seen in 2019

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ A Missing and Endangered Person Advisory was issued Wednesday for an 8-year-old girl who was last seen on the Crow Indian Reservation in March 2019, the Montana Department of Justice said.

The search for Mildred Alexis Old Crow began on Nov. 19 when her non-custodial family members told BIA law enforcement in Crow Agency that they hadn't seen her since July 2018, the FBI said.

An investigation found Mildred was last seen on the reservation in March 2019 in the care of her Crow Tribal Court-appointed guardian, the FBI said in a statement.

An agency spokesperson declined to comment Wednesday on whether the court-appointed guardian has been located or interviewed, citing the ongoing investigation.

Mildred has brown hair, brown eyes and is small in stature for her age. It is possible she has physical injuries, the missing person advisory stated.

The investigation is being conducted by the BIA's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons cold case unit in Billings, along other federal and local agencies.

New Mexico Pueblo Leadership Council gets New Chairman

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ A leadership council that represents Native American pueblos across New Mexico has a new chairman.

The All Pueblo Council of Governors announced Tuesday that Wilfred Herrera Jr. of Laguna Pueblo will serve as chairman after J. Michael Chavarria of Santa Clara Pueblo submitted his resignation. Chavarria cited personal reasons for his decision to step down but didn't provide any details.

The council is considering whether to hold a special election early next year to fill the remainder of Chavarria's two-year term.

During his time on the council, Chavarria has been outspoken about issues ranging from education to the protection of cultural sites. He had testified numerous times before state and federal officials this year about extending protection to areas outside the boundaries of Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico.

Chavarria also has served in many roles within his pueblo, including several terms as governor.

USS Montana Submarine Christened in Virtual Ceremony

By PHIL DRAKE

Great Falls Tribune

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) _ She's touted as a force to be reckoned with. And after nearly a 100-year absence, a U.S. Navy vessel now bears the name ``Montana.''

And when she takes to the water, you better beware of the ``Vigilantes of the Deep.''

The U.S. Navy recently christened its newest nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, the USS Montana, at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia in a ceremony that featured some flavor of the Big Sky state.

``I christen thee United States Ship Montana!'' former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, the ship's sponsor, said Sept. 12 as she smacked a bottle of sparkling wine against the bow. ``God Bless this submarine and all who sail in her!''

The christening of the USS Montana, also known as SSN 794, was a virtual celebration due to COVID-19 restrictions, meaning the Montanans who have been watching the progress on this submarine since its inception in 2015 had to watch online. It was the first christening of a U.S. Navy ship since the coronavirus outbreak began, officials said. The event was held at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, in Newport News, Virginia. Huntington Ingalls is America's largest military shipbuilding company.

The celebration started with an honor song offered by the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes, which represented the 12 tribes of Montana. CSKT Councilman Martin Charlo noted that Native Americans serve in the Armed Forces at a higher percentage per capita than other ethnic groups in the United States.

``It's an honor to know our warrior spirit will be carried by this highly advanced and fast machine that will carry out many missions and keep our land safe,'' he said. ``We salute and send the Creator's blessings over all men and women who help build, equip, crew, train and eventually set sail in defense of our nation.''

Members of the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes perform an honor song for the christening of the USS Montana.

``May the Creator watch over all the new crew members and keep them from harm,'' Charlo said. ``They will be in our prayers.''

But don't pull your water wings down off the shelf just yet as officials said it could be a year or so until the $2.6 billion submarine _ the first vessel to be named after the state since 1908 _ takes to the high seas. Montana is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in late 2021.

The christening is a shipbuilder event that the vessel is ready to launch and is far different than the submarine being finished and ready to join the fleet, said Bill Whitsitt, director of the state's USS Montana Committee based in the Treasure State.

He said through the committee _ a nonprofit created by a group of Montana residents wanting to support the submarine and endorsed by the governor and Legislature in 2017 _ the state has made the commitment to support the ship for its 30-year service life.

``It was a very moving experience, he said of the ceremony, adding it was a ``major milestone'' in the ship joining the U.S. Navy fleet.

Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding and executive vice president of Huntington Ingalls Industries, offered an explanation at the christening, the first such event since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

``It is an important ceremony in the life of a ship, signaling it is water tight, ready to launch and prepared to start the next and final stage of its construction before going to sea,'' she said.

The relationship between a ship sponsor and crew is special. Jewell will also impart her spirit on the ship and her crew and will possess a spirit unique to her sponsor, Boykin said.

Jewell said she looked forward to ringing the special bell the USS Montana Committee had made for the submarine. She was selected by then-President Barack Obama to be the ship's sponsor, a title given to a prominent citizen chosen to christen a naval vessel. Jewell has spent time the past few years with the captain and crew and been in submarines.

Jewell spent a night as a guest of the Navy on another submarine, the USS New Mexico, doing exercises under pack ice of the Arctic Ocean in 2014.

``In the spirit of its namesake state, the USS Montana will explore some of the wildest places on Earth in service to us all,'' she said. ``May the magnificent fighting capabilities of this incredible submarine be an appropriate deterrent to aggressors who seek to undermine freedom and democracy for the United States and its allies across the globe.

``May the crew be well trained . and may all of our blessings carry the USS Montana and her crew to safety throughout her years of service to the American people,'' Jewell said.

Mariah Gladstone, an engineer working on her master's degree and member of the Blackfeet Nation, is serving as the submarine's maid of honor and offered a blessing.

The maid of honor can serve as a proxy at events for the sponsor.

Even the invocation was distinctly Montana, as it was given by Jason Sutton, a Montana native who now serves as director of manufacturing for Newport News Shipbuilding.

``We raised our kids to believe that although the military moved us all over the world, that Montana truly was home and the last best place,'' he said.

``. We pray as this silent sentry prepares to run deep in harsh, oceanic environments and in close proximity to a formidable foe that their purpose remain pure as they stand guard, and when called upon to wield the sword, may it strike with swift accuracy and render further violence useless to realize a peace beyond understanding,'' Sutton said in his prayer.

Capt. Michael Delaney, the submarine's commander, called the USS Montana one of the most capable warships ever built.

``To the crew, together we have the privilege and responsibility to establish Montana's legacy,'' he said at the christening ceremony. ``I am honored to lead you in this endeavor and grateful to serve with each and every one of you.''

He said over the past two years he has visited several parts of the state.

``From its natural beauty and rugged outdoors, to mutton-busting and rodeos, the thing that stood out the most was the people that we met throughout the state and the reception with which they received the crew.''

Three of its 133 sailors, who came from 33 states, reportedly call Montana home.

Virginia Class submarines are 377 feet long and have a 34-foot beam. They displace 7,800 tons when submerged and travel about 28 mph. They have 12 Tomahawk missile tubs and four torpedo tubes, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. The keel for the boat was laid on May 16, 2018 and construction of the submarine involved 4,000 shipbuilders, officials said.

The first USS Montana, ACR-13, was an armored cruiser also built at Newport News Shipbuilding and commissioned in July 1908. She served in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, landed Marines during unrest in Haiti in 1914 and escorted convoys during World War I. She was decommissioned in 1921, Navy officials said in a news release.

Construction of the current USS Montana began 2015. It is the third of the 10 Block IV Virginia Class submarines.

Virginia Class submarines navigate deep waters while doing anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces support; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions, Navy officials said.

They are replacing Los Angeles Class submarines. The Navy said in a news release the submarines are known for their stealth, endurance, mobility and firepower.

Whitsitt explained the significance of the ship's bell, saying it was from the first USS Montana, commissioned in 1908, now on display at the University of Montana.

He said the new bell for the new USS Montana is filled with historical significance. It is a historic replica of the first bell, but has the emblem of SSN 794. The new bell has the state motto ``Oro y plata'' and has gold and silver dolphin pins worn by qualified submariners and has real Montana gold and silver in it as well.

``. On behalf of all Montanans, we ask in the words of the Navy hymn ``Bless those who serve beneath the deep .,'' Whitsitt said.

The committee informs the people of Montana about the USS Montana and its role in protecting our nation, supports the commissioning of the USS Montana, provides appropriate financial support for the USS Montana not provided by the U.S. Navy because of budget or other constraints.

The keynote speaker, Acting Undersecretary of the Navy Gregory J. Slavonic, said the USS Montana will enhance the United States' fleet with next generation stealth, surveillance and special warfare capabilities.

``It sends a signal to friends and foe alike that we will maintain supremacy under the waves and extend the lethality and readiness in every domain,'' he said. ``This powerful platform is proof of an ironclad relationship between the Navy and industrial partners who form the backbone of our maritime strength.''

Montana's congressional delegation wished the ship well.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines said the day was ``long overdue'' as Montana's name had not been on a battleship for nearly 100 years.

``God bless the men and women who will serve aboard the USS Montana and may God continue to bless this great United States of America,'' he said.

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester said the Montana is a force to be reckoned with.

``In a time of new global threats and challenges, it will represent Montana and our nation in the waters by defending us around the world for decades and decades,'' he said. ``I want to thank the active duty sailors and Marines who serve on vessels like the one we are celebrating today for keeping us safe. I know you will do Montana proud. It is an incredible honor to be part of this journey.''

GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte said we live in a challenging and unprecedented time.

``Know that this submarine will always embark with the support of all Montana and any sailor who boards her will be an honorary Montanan. May God keep this submarine and her crew safe.''

Among those who viewed the christening was state Attorney General Tim Fox, who is a member of the USS Montana Committee.

He said the committee raised money for some of the finer points of the submarine, such as a Montana-themed insignia and items to the captain's quarters ``so that Montana can be part of the ship.''

The insignia, the official emblem of the USS Montana, includes a Glacier National Park scene, a gold star within the submarine's hull number, SSN 794 and the state motto of Oro y Plata (gold and silver).

It includes two eagle feathers representing the values, culture, and courage of Native American warriors and their tribes, a grizzly bear and 3-7-77, a symbol is associated with Montana's early citizen vigilantes.

Finally, the Latin inscription within the emblem's Montana border is ``May it defend our way of life.''

The Montana crew has chosen to be called the ``Vigilantes of the Deep,'' Whitsitt said, noting it is a homage to Montana's past.

Fox, who is termed out of office at the end of the year, said he hopes he can view the launch when that occurs in the next year or so.

Whitsitt said he watched the ceremony with a great deal of pride.

``I'm proud of our U.S. Navy, I'm proud of the shipbuilders in Virginia and the incredible work they did and proud of all the work everyone put into it,'' he said.

``We are very proud of the sailors,'' he said, noting the captain has made four visits to the state, sometimes with a commanding officer and crew members and then went to different parts of Montana, often staying with families.

``This boat is going to have 130-plus young sailors and carrying the name Montana and they need to know they are supported by those in their namesake state,'' he said. ``They appreciate the people back home know about, pray about them and want to be protected.

``Montanans, as you know, are patriots and want to support our military people and when go into harm's way with our blessing and with the best equipment in the world,'' Whitsitt said.

``We hope the mission is peace, but we want these young sailors to be protected.''

___

For more on the USS Montana Committee, go to: https://ussmontanacommittee.us/

 

Stitt Suggests Native and Black Oklahomans for Monument

By SEAN MURPHY

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt recommended three Native Americans and two Black Oklahomans as national heroes who should be considered for inclusion in a new National Garden of American Heroes.

The first-term Republican governor made the suggestions in a letter sent to the Trump administration this month. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on rebuilding public monuments and asked governors for their input on who should be included and where such a monument might be located.

Among Stitt's recommendations were former Cherokee Nation leader Wilma Mankiller, early 1900s humorist Will Rogers, both citizens of the Cherokee Nation, and Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe, a Sac and Fox/Pottawatomie citizen. He also suggested John Hope Franklin, the grandson of a freed Chickasaw Nation slave and a native Tulsan; Ada Louis Sipuel Fisher, who fought to become the first Black student at the University of Oklahoma College of Law; and aviator Wiley Post.

``The Oklahomans on this list embody the history, spirit, resiliency and strength of our state and people,`` Stitt said. ``They each left a legacy that has far extended past state lines and impacted our world for the better.``

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he was unaware but pleased that Stitt recommended two members of his tribe for consideration.

``They're Cherokee citizens, but in many ways they belong to the world in terms of the efforts they've put forth in their careers,`` Hoskin said of Mankiller and Rogers. ``The fact that they're Cherokee, of course, is very important to me, and it reflects an effort to add some diversity to those sort of public monuments. I think that's a wonderful thing.``

Stitt has spent more than a year locked in a messy legal dispute with tribal leaders in Oklahoma over how much the tribes pay the state for the right to operate casinos. The feud has strained relations between several tribes and the governor's office, but Hoskin remained optimistic about the relationship moving forward.

``I think the governor's actions have caused and will cause some enduring harm between the governor's office and the Cherokee Nation, but it's nothing that can't be repaired,`` Hoskin said. ``And it's nothing that can't be repaired within Gov. Stitt's remaining time in office.``

Stitt also recommended two possible locations in Oklahoma for the Trump administration to consider for the garden: Lake Thunderbird State Park in Norman and Lake Keystone, just west of Tulsa.

 

Haskell Fees Hold Steady, Despite Switch to Virtual Classes

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Haskell Indian Nations University students are complaining after learning they will still pay the same amount for a fee that typically covers housing, food and activities, even though classes will be taught fully online in the fall because of the coronavirus.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university's website shows that Haskell students will be charged $715 for the online fall semester, the same price on-campus students were previously charged. Off-campus students, meanwhile, previously paid $240 per semester.

``With the pandemic going on I was thinking that we would at least have our fees reduced or, if not, I thought I would be paying off-campus fees,`` said senior Michael King.

Haskell is a tuition-free institution, but students must pay semester fees. The university spokesman didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from the Journal-World.

Jared Nally, editor of the student newspaper, The Haskell Indian Leader, which first reported on the issue, called the updated fees a ``significant increase'' to what off-campus students normally pay. And now students who live on their own will have to pay those fees on top of paying for their own living and food expenses, he said.

Haskell's Student Government Association wrote a message to the administration expressing its ``unified frustration about the unjust fee.''

 

North Dakota Tribe to Fight Ruling Giving Minerals to State

By DAVE KOLPACK

Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ Leaders of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota and others are challenging a Department of Interior opinion rolling back an Obama-era memo stating that mineral rights under the original Missouri River bed should belong to the Three Affiliated Tribes.

The memo filed May 26 by Daniel Jorjani, solicitor for the department, said a review by Historical Research Associates, Inc. shows the state is the legal owner of submerged lands beneath the river where it flows through the Fort Berthold Reservation. That contradicts a January 2017 memo by former solicitor Hilary Tompkins, the department secretary under Obama and enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.

At stake is an estimated $100 million in oil royalties waiting in escrow to be claimed as well as any future payments. Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Mark Fox said he plans to take legal action ``ASAP,'' likely with a federal lawsuit.

``We're going to continue to fight,'' Fox said.`` I'm concerned that the state government is going to do everything that it can to get that money into their accounts and worry about litigation some distant day.``

The state successfully lobbied the Interior Department to put the issue on hold in order to review the ``underlying historical record'' of ownership of the river. That came after North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem wrote a letter to the Interior Department in October 2017 asking that the Tompkins opinion be withdrawn or suspended.

Carl J. Artman, former Assistant Secretary of Interior for Indian Affairs under George W. Bush, said he was struck by the fact that Jorjani's opinion contained two pages of historical explanation when the lack of adequate background was the reason for suspending the Tompkins memo. The first 16 pages of the Tompkins memo reviewed the history, cultural aspect and treaties involving the tribe.

Artman added that the Jorjani decision goes against three opinions, by former solicitor Nathan Margold in 1936, by the Interior Board of Land Appeals in 1979, and by Tompkins. Those memos confirmed the tribes' ownership of the the Missouri River, which was altered when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Garrison Dam in the 1950s and created Lake Sakakawea.

``That I thought was something you can rely on almost as much as concrete can hold your weight,'' Artman said. ``That is precedent. This seems almost like a taking on behalf of the federal government.''

The state maintains that it assumed ownership of the riverbed when North Dakota became a state in 1889, citing a constitutional principle known as the Equal Footing Doctrine. Under that rule, Jorjani wrote, the Three Affiliated Tribes claim ``is not dissimilar'' to one by the Red Lake Indian Reservation of Minnesota that was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

``After considering the historical record in light of Supreme Court precedent as it relates to the Equal Footing Doctrine, I conclude that the circumstances here are most similar to those cases where the Supreme Court has held that submerged lands were not reserved by the federal government,'' Jorjani said.

Fox said the Department of Interior, as trustee of American Indian lands, has a fiduciary duty to protect the tribes and its property rights. Instead, according to Fox, he was not consulted on the opinion and he was blindsided in the middle of the coronavirus crisis that has engulfed the tribe.

``You get that kind of news during a pandemic when we're struggling so hard anyway because the federal government has dropped the ball in terms of helping us ... it would be like somebody telling you when you're fighting a fire that you have been evicted from your house,'' Fox said.

Mike Nowatzki, spokesman for North Dakota Gov. Burgum, said Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford notified Fox in advance about the opinion and followed up with a call. Nowatzki said Burgum has a track record of reaching out to Fox and all the tribal chairs and cited an oil tax revenue sharing compact that Fox promoted.

Burgum is willing to talk with ``all tribal nations for the benefit of all North Dakotans, including on the topic of riverbed minerals,'' Nowatzki said. Fox said the revenue in escrow is ``non-negotiable.''

A tweet by Twyla Baker, president of the tribe's Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, kicked off a heated discussion on social media when she described the move as nothing more than a land grab.

``This furthers the dispossession of indigenous people,'' she wrote. ``This cannot be a coincidence.''

 

Navajo Nation Residents to be Under Strictest Lockdown Yet

By FELICIA FONSECA

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ Residents of the Navajo Nation will be under the strictest weekend lockdown yet, with grocery stores and gas stations closed, and even essential workers ordered to stay home.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez made the announcement after a spike in deaths that he attributed to shifting traffic patterns after the city of Gallup recently shut down to outside visitors. That lockdown in northwestern New Mexico has since ended.

On the Navajo Nation, residents will face citations, with potential fines and jail time, if they leave their homes during the lockdown, which starts Friday night and ends Monday around dawn. Nez urged people to listen and not pack their bags to head out of town during the lockdown.

``Stay home, that's the bottom line. There's nothing wrong with staying home and taking care of your home, taking care of your family members,'' a frustrated Nez said Thursday. ``We need to be able to recognize that what you do affects everybody.''

While the state of Arizona has loosened its restrictions on residents and businesses, the Navajo Nation has clamped down. The tribe already has daily nighttime curfews and requires people to wear masks when out in public. Government offices are closed or have limited services. The tribe's stay-at-home order has been extended to June 7, while Arizona's expired Friday.

As of Friday, the tribe reported 127 deaths and 3,740 positive coronavirus cases since it first began tracking the figures. More than 500 people have recovered, tribal health officials said. There were no new deaths reported on Friday.

Loretta Christensen, the chief medical officer for the Navajo-area Indian Health Service, said the reservation's three largest hospitals hit capacity last week _ in line with expected predictions _ and a significant number of patients were transferred off the reservation.

``We're still getting cases across the area, but not at the velocity we did before,'' she said in a call with reporters Thursday.

People who have tested positive but no longer need to be hospitalized are being encouraged to stay in one of three isolation centers set up in basketball gyms on and off the reservation to protect their families. Isolation tents also are available for those who would rather not leave their property, Christensen 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.

McKinley County, which includes Gallup, had been the hot spot on the reservation because of a recent outbreak at a detox center. Apache County in Arizona surpassed it with the most COVID-19 cases on the reservation, according to the Thursday figures.

Apache County had 948 positive cases, while McKinley County had 928, tribal officials said. Navajo County in Arizona had 757 cases, and San Juan County in New Mexico had 428. Six other counties in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah had smaller numbers.

The Navajo Nation's total cases include 99 that previously weren't included because they took longer than usual to verify. Tribal officials also cited jurisdictional challenges.

OFCCP’s Native American Outreach Action Plan Moves Forward

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service and Administration to host a Native American Outreach Town Hall event. The feedback from the event was both positive and informative, leading to OFCCP announcing an “Indian and Native American Employment Rights Program.”

Three areas have been identified where the program will support Native American Outreach in FY 2020:

1. OFCCP intends to provide improved guidance from its Indian and Native American Employment Rights Program on how to lawfully extend a preference in employment to American Indians and Alaska Natives. OFCCP will provide resources on its website for agencies working directly with tribes, tribal communities, and tribal organizations.

2. Development of best practices guides and frequently asked questions to address work on or near Indian reservations, Indian preference, and a model affirmative action program with an Indian preference component.

3. Implement a program to connect federal contractors to recruitment sources with Native American job seekers.

About The OFCCP

The mission of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), is to protect workers, promote diversity and enforce the law. It holds those who do business with the federal government (contractors and subcontractors) responsible for complying with the legal requirement to take affirmative action and not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.

OFCCP focuses its resources on finding and resolving systemic discrimination. The agency has adopted this strategy to: (1) prioritize enforcement resources by focusing on the worst offenders; (2) encourage employers to engage in self audits of their employment practices; and (3) achieve maximum leverage of resources to protect the greatest number of workers from discrimination.

From NAT Staff

 

Lawyer, Tribal Judge Named to Oklahoma Supreme Court

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A Tishomingo attorney who is also a Chickasaw Nation district judge has been appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Gov. Kevin Stitt announced the appointment of Dustin Rowe to the court to fill the vacancy left when Judge Patrick Wyrick was appointed a federal judge.

Lowe is a former mayor of Tishomingo, having been elected at age 18 in 1994 and serving two terms. He's practiced law in Tishomingo since 2001 and is currently a district judge on the Chickasaw Nation District Court.

Lowe is Stitt's second appointment to the state Supreme Court after he selected Judge John Kane in September to replace retiring Justice John Reif.

Rowe was chosen from among three candidates recommended to Stitt by the state's Judicial Nominating Commission.

 

Artist Sues Over Missouri's 'Indian-Made' Law

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A California woman who is a member of a tribe that is not yet recognized by the federal government is suing over a Missouri law that says only artists from federally recognized tribes can market their creations as ``Indian-made.''

Peggy Fontenot alleges that the law is a violation of her First Amendment right to free speech. She is a member of the Patawomeck, a tribe recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is seeking federal recognition, reports The Kansas City Star.

The lawsuit over the Missouri law, which was passed last year, was filed in August in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Fontenot previously sued over a similar law in Oklahoma and won.

``(The law)'s not allowing me to identify as who I am or allowing me to identify my work as what it is,'' Fontenot said. ``To me, that's violating my free speech.''

Republican state Rep. Rocky Miller, who is a citizen of the federally recognized Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, said the goal of the legislation he sponsored was to crack down on fraudulent artists.

``It is a true theft of my heritage and the other true Native Americans' heritage when you do something like that,'' said Miller, who is from Lake Ozark. ``And it's criminal if you profit off of it.''

States first passed laws limiting who can market their goods as American Indian-made in the 1970s after art in native styles experienced an uptick in popularity and counterfeit goods flooded the market. In 1990, Congress passed the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

In ruling in Fontenot's favor in the Oklahoma case, a judge noted that the federal law defines Native Americans as those who belong to state-recognized tribes, as well as federal ones.

Fontenot said that, prior to the 1990 federal legislation, she undertook the arduous process of tracing her genealogy back to the 1500s. She noted that when she exhibits her work at shows, she must show proof of identity.

``It's disconcerting that when I accomplished what they asked me to accomplish, laws like the Oklahoma law and the Missouri law are attempting to do away with that,'' Fontenot said.

Miller said he left out state-recognized tribes because states don't have a uniform method of vetting tribes.

___

Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

 

Unlikely Alliance Fighting Pipeline in Texas Hill Country

By CLARICE SILBER

Associated Press

FREDERICKSBURG, Texas (AP) _ One of the longest proposed new natural gas pipelines in the U.S. is set to run through Heath Frantzen's property in the Texas Hill Country, where more than 600 white-tailed and trophy axis deer graze on a hunting ranch his family has owned for three generations.

Fearing financial ruin and conservation risks, Frantzen and dozens of other landowners in central Texas have banded together with environmental groups and conservative-leaning city governments in opposing the route of pipeline giant Kinder Morgan's 430-mile (690-kilometer), $2 billion natural gas expressway.

``We know a lot more today about the aquifers, we know a lot more today about the endangered species, we know a lot more today about the sensitivity of the environment,'' Frantzen said. ``And putting a pipeline project through an area such as this, especially when you can compare it to some of the other places where they could put it even less expensively and with much greater ease _ this is an idiotic idea.''

But Kinder Morgan has defended its proposal, stating it's looking to ease a pipeline shortage and help drillers transport gas trapped in West Texas' thriving Permian Basin to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Now, the company is exercising eminent domain as a nasty legal battle over the path of the pipeline threatens to jeopardize future projects passing through central Texas. Opponents of the route are also challenging state regulators at the Texas Railroad Commission who gave Kinder Morgan the green light while accepting millions of dollars from the oil and gas industry.

Unlike the Dakota Access Pipeline project that sparked massive protests in 2016 and 2017 over fears it would hurt the environment and sacred Native American sites, opposition to the Texas pipeline has largely played out of public view.

Kinder Morgan's pipeline project comes as an unprecedented boom in oil and natural gas production in the Permian Basin has catapulted the nation to the forefront of the global shale market. Last year, the U.S. surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world's largest crude oil producer, according to an assessment by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Natural gas is a byproduct of oil drilling, and without the proper infrastructure to move it from the Permian Basin, companies end up burning off excess through a process known as flaring, Kinder Morgan spokesman Allen Fore said.

``That's the purpose of this project, to capture that natural gas and ship it to market,'' Fore said.

If completed, the pipeline will deliver up to 2 billion cubic feet (56.6 million cubic meters) of natural gas _ enough to fuel 31,500 homes for one day as it passes through 16 Texas counties.

Texas already has the most expansive pipeline network in the country with more than 460,000 miles (740,250 kilometers) of channels zigzagging through it.

But the project is at the center of a fight that has grounded an unlikely alliance assembled across the state's central region, where momentum has grown in calling for the company to reroute the pipeline and in urging for further industry regulation in oil-friendly Texas. Those strange bedfellows have held townhalls, formed grassroots community campaigns, and lodged lawsuits against Kinder Morgan.

Opponents of the route have pointed to the potential contamination of the region's porous Edwards Aquifer, the impact it would have on an environmentally sensitive area, and the lack of public engagement and oversight in the routing process.

Kinder Morgan has repeatedly stated the pipeline won't pose any safety threat.

There is also concern that Kinder Morgan's success would set a precedent for other companies interested in building conduits through Hill Country, said Chuck Lesniak, who serves on an advisory committee for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

``I do know that the industry is paying attention to this project, and the legal issues, because from a legal standpoint, if this goes south on Kinder Morgan, it has enormous impacts on other pipeline projects proposed for Texas,'' Lesniak said.

A judge has ruled in favor of the Houston-based company in one legal challenge attempting to block the project on grounds that the Texas Railroad Commission doesn't provide enough state oversight or regulation; that decision is being appealed.

Fore said the company has made 150 routing adjustments and is not considering changing the pipeline's set path. The company has started preliminary work, including marking the construction space and leveling the land, but no pipeline has been laid in the ground.

Clashes between rural landowners and companies seeking to seize property are not uncommon in Texas, where an estimated 95% of the land is privately owned. Although landowners are compensated for pipeline operators' use of easements, they often argue the money provided isn't enough.

Unlike the Texas Public Utility Commission rules that electric, telephone and water utilities must follow, oil and gas companies do not need to seek the approval of the Texas Railroad Commission or affected municipalities for their proposed route. They also have no formal public process to hear from affected landowners.

The commission has said it does not approve of whether a pipeline is necessary.

``We approve of whether they have met certain requirements and given us information that we need so we know this is a pipeline ... about to be constructed so we can go out and inspect and put it on our inspection schedule,'' said Railroad Commission spokeswoman Ramona Nye.

Texas' lack of oversight on the pipeline industry allows companies to make unilateral determinations about the best route, said Luke Ellis, an attorney representing roughly 40 landowners, including Frantzen, in their disputes with Kinder Morgan.

For Frantzen, it could be the end to his way of life at his 260-acre (105-hectare) ranch. He called it a sentimental moment when he picked up an array of deer antler sheds littering his ranch one day this summer.

``No one has fought (Kinder Morgan) harder and no one has fought them longer than we have in the Hill Country,'' he said.

 

Follow Clarice Silber on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClariceSilber

 

Italian Company Asks to Access Land Near Grand Canyon

By FELICIA FONSECA

Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ An Italian real estate company that has long eyed development outside the Grand Canyon's South Rim again is seeking permission to improve forest roads and run utilities to its property in the tiny town of Tusayan.

Stilo Development Group USA and Tusayan asked the U.S. Forest Service this month to grant easements to two pieces of land where Stilo plans to build a resort, an RV park and other lodging and where the town wants housing.

The Forest Service dealt a huge blow to the plans in 2016 when it said the development would ``substantially and adversely'' affect the Grand Canyon and nearby tribal lands and kept it from moving forward.

The latest proposal reflects changes in what had been major concerns _ water use and size. Stilo agreed not to pump water from the ground for commercial use, instead trucking in up to 275,000 gallons (1 million liters) a day. Groundwater still could be used for homes. The company also reduced the size of the commercial development.

``We've learned that water always was, always will be the No. 1 concern, and we'd like to address that upfront this time just to make sure that everybody understands that there is some willingness on the developer to do what's right,'' Tusayan Mayor Craig Sanderson said.

More than 6 million people a year pass through Tusayan on their way to the Grand Canyon. The town of about 600 was incorporated in 2010 as a way for Stilo to develop two pieces of land known as Kotzin and Ten-X, which together are about 360 acres (0.5 square miles). Most of the land in Tusayan is in private hands, and employees largely live in company housing.

The Kaibab National Forest will review the proposal to ensure it aligns with existing laws and regulations. If not, it goes back to the developer. If it checks out, the forest would do an environmental review and open it for public comment.

``We are at the very early stages,'' forest spokeswoman Jackie Banks said.

Tusayan owns 20 acres (8 hectares) on each of the two ranch properties where it wants to build housing. An off-grid development was put on hold earlier this year because the town didn't have approval to build in a flood plain or approval to exceed spending limits to maintain the construction site.

Stilo envisions paving forest roads and running water, sewer, natural gas and telecommunications lines along them to make way for commercial and residential development, with more than 2,500 hotel rooms and about 250 RV spaces. A resort, conference center, spa or dude ranch with lodging could go up on one property. The other property would be a pedestrian-friendly development that lets tourists learn about the region's geology, Native American culture and other things, Stilo spokesman Andy Jacobs said.

The proposal doesn't provide much detail about water use. But Jacobs said the commercial development could be served by water sent on the railroad and trucked in or through an old coal slurry line that served a power plant along the Nevada-Arizona border.

It's also unclear when any development, first proposed by Stilo in the late 1980s, would start.

``I would hope in the next couple of years we can get a shovel in the ground and make it through all these processes. But they're impossible to predict,'' Jacobs said. ``When you look at full build-out, that's into years and decades.''

Hundreds of thousands of people commented on the last application for easements. Sanderson said he'd rather not see one of the roads so close to the school and built so that tourists can bypass much of the town and existing businesses.

Grand Canyon National Park expressed concern about water use, noise, traffic congestion, air quality, and protecting cultural and archaeological sites.

``We will always have concerns about the integrity of park resources. That's our job,'' senior adviser Jan Balsom said.

 

Sometimes Overlooked Chicago River Museum Gets 250K Visitors

CHICAGO (AP) _ A sometimes overlooked Chicago River museum has reached the mark of 250,000 visitors.

A Monday statement from the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum says a suburban Chicago woman, Deb Lawrence, was the weekend visitor to put the facility at that mark.

Friends of the Chicago River opened the museum in a 99-year-old bridge house on the Michigan Avenue bridge in 2006. The mission was to promote a better understanding of the role the river played in city history.

There are exhibits depicting the time when Native Americans and early European settlers both lived along the river. Visitors can also see how Chicago's movable bridges work.

Friends' executive director, Margaret Frisbie, says the museum also shows how a waterway ``once primarily thought of as part of the sewage system'' is again a valuable asset.

 

North Dakota Native Awarded For Efforts To End Hunger

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ A Minnesota college student says she has raised $115,000 in a decade toward ending hunger in North Dakota.

Lauryn Hinckley was 9 years old and living in Bismarck, North Dakota, when she created Stopping Hunger One Backpack at a Time. Hinckley partnered with a United Way backpack program that offers $5 food bags to students in Bismarck and Mandan during the school year.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that volunteer coordinators say 1,300 students received food bags this past year.

Hinckley says around one in five North Dakota children go hungry, despite the state having the highest number of billionaires per capita.

The Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation awarded Hinckley a $5,000 scholarship and a $5,000 grant in June for her hunger-relief efforts. She's a sophomore at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

 

US Navy to Dub Newest Rescue Ship 'Cherokee Nation'

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) _ One of the U.S. Navy's newest rescue ships is being named the ``Cherokee Nation'' to honor the service and contributions the Cherokee people have made to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer announced that Gulf Island Shipyards has been awarded a $64.8 million contract to build the ship, scheduled for completion by 2021.

The Navy says the contract includes an option for six additional vessels, each to be named in honor of a prominent Native American or tribe.

Navy officials say it's the fifth U.S. ship to be named in honor of the Cherokee people and the first since a World War II-era tugboat dubbed the USS Cherokee.

 

Kansas Program Helps Teachers Incorporate Cultural History

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Two Kansas lawmakers are encouraging teachers to incorporate culturally relevant studies into their lesson plans.

Democratic Reps. John Alcala and Valdenia Winn have spearheaded the Kansas Culturally Relevant Pedagogy Summer Intensive program, which is in its second year, the Topeka-Capital Journal reported.

Alcala helped create the initiative after noticing a lack of representation of various ethnic groups in history text books.

The four-week-long program teaches Kansas educators about culturally relevant pedagogy, including Native American, Chicano/Latino, African American and Asian American studies. Teachers then implement the lessons in their classrooms, and share with program directors what did and didn't work.

Alcala said all teachers who participate will be certified in culturally relevant pedagogy upon completion of the program. Those educators can then share the information with other teachers, he said.

``As far as we know, this model we have created in Kansas is unique,'' said Christina Valdivia-Alcala, founder of the Tonantzin Society who also helped organize the program.

Valdivia-Alcala said the program helps educators teach students about ``important footprints across America that different cultures have made,'' as well as the importance of critical thinking.

Michelle McClaine, an English teacher at the Sumner Academy of Arts and Science school in Kansas City, Kansas, is among the educators participating in the program. She said Mexican American students make up about 60% of her students.

``Having a program like this where you can really ask those uncomfortable questions or get that info that you can be able to show all perspectives of what it means to be Americans, or what that story is of America is very cool and very empowering,'' McClaine said.

___

Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

 

California Governor Calls Native American Treatment Genocide

By ANDREW OXFORD
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Gov. Gavin Newsom formally apologized and pushed the state to reckon with California's dark history of violence, mistreatment and neglect of Native Americans, saying it amounted to genocide.

The Democratic governor met with tribal leaders at the future site of the California Indian Heritage Center, where he also announced the creation of a council to examine the state's role in campaigns of extermination and exploitation.

Throughout history, the California government was key to efforts to remove and kill Native Americans who lived on land that would become part of what is now the world's fifth-largest economy.
``Genocide. No other way to describe it, and that's the way it needs to be described in the history books,'' Newsom said.

Mark Macarro, tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, said the apology is significant.

``To hear an apology like that today from the head of this state sets a new tone. It does for me, on a personal level,'' said Macarro.

Newsom did not propose any specific changes in policy toward Native American communities, though tribal leaders raised concerns about issues such as managing natural resources, preventing wildfires and addressing the historical trauma of the government's campaigns to wipe out indigenous California residents as well as their culture.

``It was a step into healing,'' said Joseph L. James, chairman of the Yurok Tribe, which has territory near the Northern California coast.

James said that he hopes the governor maintains a close relationship with tribes, adding: ``Actions speak louder than words.''

Newsom is not the first to apologize for the treatment of Native Americans.

Congress tucked an apology into a 2009 military spending bill, acknowledging ``years of official depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of covenants by the federal government regarding Indian tribes.''

Last year, then-Alaska Gov. Bill Walker issued an apology to the state's indigenous people, listing a series of wrongs.

Other governors have apologized for specific episodes in history, from the killing of Arapaho and Cheyenne people in the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 to the forced move of Potawatomi people from Indiana to Kansas in 1838 on what has become known as a ``Potawatomi Trail of Death.''
Newsom pointed to California's efforts to remove American Indians as people flooded the state searching for gold in the mid-19th century.

California's first governor, Peter Burnett, declared to legislators in 1851 ``that a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct must be expected.''

The Legislature subsequently approved $1.29 million to subsidize militia campaigns against American Indians, Newsom's office said.

The state's objections to several federal treaties with tribes left most American Indians in California landless, said Albert Hurtado, professor emeritus at the University of Oklahoma. ``The actions of the state 150 years ago have ongoing ramifications even today,'' he said.

In using the word genocide to describe California's treatment of Native Americans, Newsom threw the weight of the state government behind a term that is heavy with emotion and still stirs debate, from California to Canada.

``I think it's really important to name it and if you don't, you don't do justice to what actually occurred,'' Newsom said. ``This was not just traditional pioneering spirit and we came into some conflict, as someone suggested. This was something completely organized and systemic.''
The governor's office said the new Truth and Healing Council will more closely explore the historical relationship between the state of California and California Native Americans.

Newsom did not directly call for any changes to the state's history curriculum or commemorations of colonialists and pioneers who have counties, schools and streets named for them across California. But the governor endorsed renaming Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, as a few states have in recent years.

Like other states in the U.S. West, California has seen renewed debate about its treatment of indigenous people.

Stanford University announced last year it would remove the name of Spanish missionary and Catholic saint Junipero Serra from some parts of campus following criticism over his treatment of Native Americans.

And in recent years, some schools have abandoned what was once a common project in elementary classrooms around California: building models of Spanish missions, which were constructed in real life with the forced labor of Native Americans.

California has the largest proportion of American Indians in the United States. About 723,000 residents identified as American Indian during the 2010 census.

 

Blackfeet Welcome The Return Of Bison To Montana Reservation

By ROB CHANE

Missoulian

BROWNING, Mont. (AP) _ The Blackfeet Indians have waited a long time for bison to return to their homeland. An extra 12 hours wouldn't hurt.

After assembling at 10 a.m. Tuesday on a former cattle ranch just south of Browning, Iinnii Days coordinator Teri Dahle learned the truck hauling a dozen yearling bison from California had broken down in northern Nevada. The yearlings, who left Elk Island National Park in Alberta as unborn calves in a group of 14 bison cows getting donated to the Oakland Zoo last year, were coming to join a growing herd of Blackfeet buffalo and complete a circle of restoration a century in the making.

More on that shortly. The delay gave members of the Iinnii Initiative a beautiful morning to accomplish another goal: sanctifying and renaming, and repurposing the ranch as the centerpiece of the tribe's return to buffalo culture.

Sacred Horn Society members Michael Bruised Head and Peter Weasel Moccasin came down from Calgary, Alberta, to lead a pipe ceremony with Blackfeet Reservation members Tyson Running Wolf and Jesse DeRosier. About 60 people made an open circle around the pipe holders; women arced to the right and men to the left with an opening gap facing the eastern Sweetgrass Hills. After songs and prayers, the four men lit and smoked two pipes, grabbing handfuls of smoke and passing it over their heads, down their bodies and into the dirt where they sat. Then they passed the pipes to the witnesses, who each took four puffs. Children too young for the ceremony received four taps on the shoulders from the pipe stem.

"It's been 130 years since the Sacred Horn Society was back,'' Bruised Head told the Missoulian after the pipes returned. "Now these hills will have a name so you can remember it - so when you drive by, these hills will have more meaning.''

The new name translates as Buffalo Spirit Hills, and drivers to Browning and Glacier National Park will pass it along the highway. Iinnii is a complex word in the Blackfeet language, meaning something that takes away hard things and gives good things in their place, the way in Blackfeet tradition the buffalo saved the starving people by giving them a resource to live off.

Its grasslands stun the imagination. Walk 10 minutes away from the headquarters building and over a few hills, and civilization vanishes. Not even a fence line can be seen for miles of rolling green, stretching seemingly all the way to the Rocky Mountain Front.

And across that prairie, for a lucky watcher, wild bison run with a thunderous noise that can be felt as well as heard. As quickly as they come they vanish in a fold of the earth, and the evening air refills with the creak of several kinds of tiny frogs in the ponds at the bottom of the hills.

A truckload of Iinnii Initiative interns spent an hour seeking glimpses of the herd, until word came that the California newcomers had unexpectedly made up time. Instead of a midnight arrival, they were suddenly at Birch Creek by 9:30 p.m.; just half an hour away.

"This is them, this is them,'' Dahle yelled to the determined crowd of well wishers. Helen Dayle put her 3-year-old son Rustin Running Crane in the truck and headed to the pasture fence. She'd been an intern two years ago when the first Elk Island buffalo shipment came directly to the Blackfeet Reservation. Now about to finish her college degree and become a science teacher, she was determined that her son would take part in the return.

Despite the hour, Rustin was wide-eyed with anticipation. When the pickup hauling the stock trailer finally pulled into the gate at 9:50 p.m. he was standing by his mother waiting for the perfect view.

The actual release took less than 5 minutes. Handlers opened the trailer gates and a dozen bison bolted into the gloom like sailors finally reaching land.

"I saw them running,'' Rustin said. "They were faster than my dog. They were faster than a triceratops.''

Oakland Zoo native wildlife program director Joel Parrott said bringing the Elk Island bison cows to the Bay Area last year has had a huge impact on wildlife enthusiasts. The project allowed the zoo to expand its traditional role of preserving and displaying remarkable animals to actively helping return them to their native environments.

To briefly explain, North America's more than 30 million bison nearly disappeared from the continent in the mid-1800s. They fell to market hunters and settlers determined to change the open Great Plains from a wildlife environment to domesticated ranches and farms, as well as to diseases brought by the imposition of cattle on their range. The transformation also stripped the culture and economy from Native American tribes that had depended on bison hunting for food, materials and spirituality.

Toward the end of the 19th century, conservationists attempted to resuscitate what was left of the species. By then, perhaps a thousand were left, many in groups of a dozen or so collected by ranchers. But one group was brought by Indians from the Blackfeet homeland to the Flathead Reservation, where they became the foundation of the herd on the present-day National Bison Range.

But before that could happen, its Salish Indian owners unsuccessfully tried to sell the herd to the U.S. government. When that failed, the Canadian government stepped in and moved most of the herd to Alberta, founding Elk Island National Park in the process.

That herd has grown beyond its landscape's capacity, so the Canadians occasionally provide culls to suitable new homes. When the Blackfeet learned of the opportunity, they arranged to adopt a new herd. It was delivered in 2016. (See related story online.)

"We've taken the model of the Iinnii to 1 million visitors a year,'' Parrott said. "We helped with the first Elk Island delivery, and that drew enormous attention. The spiritual quality of these bison brought the Indian nation together, and it brought Oakland to Montana."

Blackfeet Agriculture Department Director Ervin Carlson coordinated the official transfer. But, he said, looking at the calves, he realized the circle was far larger than a paperwork arrangement.

"These bison left as calves, and they wanted to return as calves,'' Carlson said. "I've realized that everything we've been doing with these animals happened the way they wanted it to. It's like they put themselves in storage all these years, until we were ready for them to come back.''

After the calves disappeared into the night, Leo Bird told star stories around the campfire long into the night. Just retired as a teacher for 22 years, Bird recalled how his mentors told him to be like a bison, but he didn't understand at first.

Eventually he observed how the bison alone among plains animals faces into oncoming storms, so he started facing his problems that way. He saw how the Blackfeet herd quickly changed the landscape so beaver and swans started returning. And he began building those lessons into his classroom lectures.

"You show the kids the buffalo hair stuck on the fence, and there's seeds in it,'' Bird said. "Birds take that hair for their nests so they can hatch their eggs. The seeds replenish the grass that the bison eats. We planted some in class. As soon as the kids saw the grass growing out of the hair, they understood.''

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Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com

 

BLM Seeks Vandals who Defaced Famous Archaeological Site

WASHINGTON CITY, Utah (AP) _ The Bureau of Land Management is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of vandals who spray-painted graffiti at an important southern Utah archaeological site.

Officials learned through social media that a popular mesa and sacred site to local Paiute Indians in Washington City named Shinob Kibe had been vandalized with the words "Dog Town,'' an offensive nickname for the city. Washington City is about 300 miles (482 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.

Keith Rigtrup of the BLM says local police investigated the site of the vandalism but were unable to find any leads.

He said the vandals did not paint over Native American hieroglyphs in the area. The mesa is often praised by hikers for its solitude and panoramic views.

 

Tribes, Environmentalists Battle Copper Mine In Arizona

By ANITA SNOW
Associated Press

SONOITA, Ariz. (AP) _ Scenic State Highway 83 gently curves through southeastern Arizona's wine country, past waves of blond grass dotted with orange-tipped ocotillo plants before the dark Santa Rita Mountains loom into view.

The Milepost 44 pullout offers a panorama of the range in the Coronado National Forest where a Canadian firm wants to carve out a massive copper mine near Tucson. The $1.9 billion Rosemont Mine, at a half-mile deep and a mile wide, would sprawl across federal, state and private land, leaving a waste pile the height of skyscraper.

Native American tribes and environmental groups have sued to stop Hudbay Minerals Inc. of Toronto, arguing its mine could desecrate sacred, ancestral lands and dry up wells and waterways while ravaging habitat for endangered jaguar and other species. Last week, they asked a federal judge to prevent the project from proceeding until the lawsuits are decided.

``I pray to our Creator every morning that things will work out,'' said Austin Nunez, chairman of the Tohono O'odham's San Xavier District, a piece of tribal land just south of Tucson. ``Our ancestors' remains are there, along with archaeological sites, including a ball court. We cannot risk any further harm to our ancestral heritage.''

The Tucson and state chambers of commerce are Rosemont cheerleaders, noting the project will immediately create 500 jobs and pour $16 billion into the local economy over 20 years.

The fight comes amid a larger battle across the West over using public lands for mining.

The Trump administration in late 2017 slashed about 85% of Utah's Bear Ears National Monument to allow for mining claims. New Mexico tribal leaders have pressured U.S. officials to ban oil and gas exploration near the remnants of an ancient Pueblo civilization at Chaco Culture National Historical Park. And conservationists fret over plans to reopen a gold mine in California's Castle Mountains National Monument, home to ancient rock art and a Joshua tree forest.

``You could go to virtually every state and find a push by big corporations to grab resources before it's too late,'' said Richard White, a historian of the American West at Stanford University. ``It's a resurrection of these extractive industries that were so much a part of the Old West.''

Arizona produces about two-thirds of U.S. copper for wiring and other electronics, generating about $5.38 billion in 2017, according to the Arizona Mining Association. ``Mining in Arizona represents 60,000 jobs,'' said Amber Smith, president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce. She is confident Hudbay will mitigate any potential problems by building extra roadways and employing technology to recycle water used in the mining process.

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesman Garrick Taylor said Rosemont would be among the biggest construction projects in Arizona history. ``Its impacts will be measured in the billions of dollars,'' he said.

Responding to questions in writing, Hudbay told The Associated Press that delaying the project would result in ``significant financial costs'' and ``we're proposing in the short term to move forward on aspects that don't fall under the litigation.''

The company said the current project was the result of a dozen years of review and ``it's designed intelligently and in accordance with public and policy priorities.'' It has told Tucson officials the mine would not harm water quality or affect supplies.

Still, environmentalists worry about the impacts on the Santa Rita Mountains, where white-tailed deer and black bear, bobcats and the occasional cougar roam among the Apache pines and Douglas firs. Numerous kinds of hummingbirds and woodland warblers fly through Madera Canyon, among the world's premier bird-watching spots.

Randy Serraglio, a conservation advocate with the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, predicted ore trucks would rumble down a scenic highway built in 1927 that stretches some 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Interstate 10 to the tourist hotspot of Sonoita.

``It's going to look like a nuclear bomb was set off,'' he said.

Winery owner Todd Bostock worries Rosemont could injure a tourism industry that includes boutique lodging focused on wine and the region's natural beauty.

``The mine will have a direct, negative and permanent impact on our business,'' said Bostock, whose Dos Cabezas winery annually produces some 5,000 cases of dry red, rose and white wine. ``They are gambling with our investment and our livelihood.''

Rosemont detractors also point to the yawning Lavender Pit, a former open pit copper mine outside Bisbee that still scars the landscape 45 years after ending operations.

Serraglio's group, along with Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition and the Arizona Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club this year sued to stop Rosemont, as did the Tohono O'odham Nation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the Hopi Tribe.

The environmental law firm Earthjustice filed the recent request for an injunction to stop Hudbay from revving up its bulldozers. U.S. District Court Judge James A. Soto has said he hopes to rule on the first three suits by summer's end before tackling two more recent ones filed over a Clean Water Act permit granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a mine operations plan approved by the U.S. Forest Service.

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Follow Anita Snow: https://twitter.com/asnowreports

 

Exhibit On Local Native Americans Opens At Museum

By HADLEY BARNDOLLAR
The Portsmouth Herald

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) _ As some states and communities have slowly begun to acknowledge their often purposeful erasure of Native Americans from the dominant narrative, the voices, cultures and histories of the Abenaki and Wabanaki peoples were recently given a rightful home in the oldest ``neighborhood'' of New Hampshire settled by Europeans.

``People of the Dawnland,'' an exhibit at the Jones House Family Discover Center in the 1600s Puddle Dock neighborhood, opens this month. The neighborhood, now known far and wide as Strawbery Banke Museum, did in fact have remnants of indigenous people, such as pottery, projectile points and tent holes, discovered by archaeologists, but the museum has largely focused its efforts on the colonial aspects of the early settlement.

But the narrative is changing, after a long-range interpretive planning effort targeted elevating diverse voices in their collections as a goal for the museum. Alix Martin, museum archaeologist and non-Native professor of Native Studies in the anthropology department at the University of New Hampshire, said the American Alliance of Museums issued a ``trend watch'' for the year, which included a large section about ``decolonizing museums,'' by not focusing solely on colonial and Anglo-American narratives.

The archaeological discoveries showed indigenous people have been in the region for more than 12,000 years.

The rehabilitation of two Strawbery Banke houses over the last year resulted in some exhibit movement, and a room in the Jones House arose as a proper opportunity to debut the Native American-focused display, which is interactive, incorporating hands-on activities, such as games, art and storytelling.

The exhibit was organized by the museum's education department in collaboration with Martin and Anne Jennison, a Strawbery Banke interpreter of European and Abenaki ancestry, known for her traditional Northeast Native American storytelling. Input for the exhibit was provided by the state Commission on Native American Affairs, tribes, the Berwick, Maine, Historical Society, and the Indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective at UNH.

Jennison said she asked her parents for permission to publicly identify as a Native person before she began her storytelling endeavors 30 years ago. ``If you could identify as white or black, it was better than identifying as Native,'' Jennison said. ``It was safer. It's only very recent in the history of New England that it's OK. There is a lot of scholarship about how the New England Native peoples have been hiding in plain sight.''

Detailed in a documentary last year titled ``Dawnland,'' in Maine, government agents systematically forced Native American children from their homes and placed them with white families. As recently as the 1970s, one in four Native children nationwide were living in non-Native foster care, adoptive homes or at boarding schools. The separation caused emotional and physical harm as adults attempted to erase their cultural identity.

Jennison is also a Native craftswoman, and the exhibit features her birch bark creations, corn husk dolls and bead work. A library for browsing showcases Native literature of all kinds. Various archaeological artifacts are on display, and interpretative wall panels detail Native history on the Seacoast and across New Hampshire. There is also a formal land acknowledgement, signifying Abenaki land underfoot.

The exhibit features donations from personal collections, and an Abenaki artist allowed her work to be shown on the walls. Native foodways are depicted by Indian corn, beans and squash. Jennison said the presentation draws from ``everyone's bag of tools.''

``People were curious, `Why is your history starting only with the 1600s?''' Martin said. ``I think this is a great opportunity to go way farther back and start with the very first people who lived here. And then connect these people and their connection to this landscape and their traditions to today. Native people were and are an important part of the Portsmouth and Puddle Dock community.''

Jennison grew up in Portsmouth, and had a goal that after she retired from teaching, she would approach Strawbery Banke about expanding its focus on Native American history. Jennison's master's work at UNH focused largely on the 1713 Treaty of Portsmouth, which represented an important agreement between the ``Eastern Indians'' and the English Royal government. The treaty shows pictograph signatures of tribal delegates attending the peace conference, including the Abenaki sachem, Bomoseen.

When English colonists began to arrive in the Northeast in the 1600s, bringing foreign diseases, animals and plants onto Abenaki homeland, violent conflicts across the region resulted in the deaths of Native people, and the removal of others from their homeland. But many Abenaki people remained and adapted, showing strength and resilience.

Martin said she is confident the exhibit reflects what Native Americans want to communicate, thanks to the widespread input they received in curating it. She also noted the Native population in New Hampshire is actually growing, because of new identification options offered by the Census Bureau.

``Allowing people to identify themselves as Native has brought so many more people in touch with their heritage,'' Martin said. ``For a long time it was a strategy thing, to not be allowed to identify as Native. A lot of people were erased from census records, so it's really gratifying to see people reconnecting with it. I would not be surprised if the number in New Hampshire doubled through 2020.''

Today, there are more than 7,000 Native Americans and Alaska Natives living in New Hampshire.

Martin said at UNH, it wasn't until the Indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective began to gain momentum that some faculty members began to openly identify as of indigenous descent. As a non-Native person teaching Native studies, Martin noted she tries to be extremely conscious ``of me not being the voice on Native people.''

Lawrence J. Yerdon, president and CEO of Strawbery Banke, said it has ``long been a goal of the museum to expand its interpretation of the Abenaki people.''

``Depending on how things go, it's been indicated it could grow from here,'' Jennison said. ``What we've got here is a really good beginning.''

It's estimated approximately 95,000 people visit Strawbery Banke over the course of one year.

This week, Maine officially replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, with the signature of Gov. Janet Mills. According to the New York Times, at least six states and 130 cities and towns have now renamed the holiday, which as Columbus Day, has been a federal holiday since 1934. Italian explorer Christopher Columbus reportedly committed atrocities against Native people, and many feel the holiday glorifies him over those who inhabited the land prior.

In New Hampshire, the future of the holiday isn't so certain. In February, legislators put off deciding whether Columbus Day would be renamed. House Bill 221 remains stalled. The town of Durham is believed to be the first in the state to vote in favor of the switch to Indigenous Peoples' Day.

``People of the Dawnland'' is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is included in regular museum admission.

 

Tribal College in North Dakota to End Nursing Program

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ A Native American college in North Dakota is preparing to close its nursing program this month.

The United Tribes Technical College's nursing program will end May 10, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

The college decided in December to voluntarily discontinue the program after recent resignations put it out of compliance with North Dakota Board of Nursing standards. The college saw departures from the program's administrator and three faculty members.

The college contracted with temporary staff to allow eight students in the program to complete their education in order to graduate this month, said Stacey Pfenning, the board's executive director. Officials also alerted current and prospective students last year that the program would be discontinued.

The number of students enrolled in the college's nursing program had been declining in recent years, according to the state board's annual report.

The United Tribes Technical College had 22 students enrolled in its nursing program in the 2017-2018 school year, compared to 34 in 2012-2013.

College officials attributed the decrease to the creation of two-year registered nursing programs in the area. United Tribes Technical College is the third tribal college in North Dakota to close its nursing program in recent years, the school stated.

Leander McDonald, the college's president, said ``knowing that students would have other options in the community helped in making the decision.''

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

 

Arizona History Project Displays Photos of Four Corners Region

PHOENIX (AP) _ A collection of photos taken in the Four Corners region by a prominent Arizona ranching family during the late 19th and early 20th centuries is being called a snapshot of history.

The State of Arizona Research Library says the selection of images from the Wetherill family's collection can be viewed online at http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/weth as part of the Arizona Memory Project.

Curatorial Specialist Jannelle Weakly says the Wetherills were ranchers, traders, explorers, and amateur archaeologists who participated in the discovery, excavation, research and preservation of significant sites in the Four Corners area.

The collection includes photos from John Wetherill's travels to Rainbow Bridge, Monument Valley, and Mesa Verde. The photographs also include ones Wetherill took of American Indians, including notable Navajo leaders Hosteen Luca and Wolfkiller.

 

Cherokee Tribal Writing Inside Alabama Cave Finally Decoded

FORT PAYNE, Ala. (AP) _ Archaeologists and Cherokee scholars have collaborated to interpret tribal inscriptions written in an Alabama cave.

The inscriptions inside Manitou Cave near Fort Payne are evidence of the tribe's syllabary, which the Cherokee scholar Sequoyah developed using symbols for each sound. It was formally adopted as the tribe's official written language in 1825.

The study of the inscriptions was published in the April issue of Antiquity, an international archaeological journal. Experts say they describe secluded ceremonial activities in the years before the Cherokee were forcibly removed from the region along the Trail of Tears.

One inscription describes a particular game similar to lacrosse in 1828 when players entered the cave before the games and during intermission. Another was ``written backwards, as if addressing readers inside the rock itself.''

 

Native American Women Set Record in Rapid City Election

By MATTHEW GUERRY
Rapid City Journal

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ An unprecedented number of Native American women are running for office in the Rapid City municipal election in June.

Saying that the city council ought to better reflect the people it represents, four of them officially announced their candidacy in front of the city administration in downtown Rapid City.

``I am running because I think everyone deserves a voice at the table,'' said Cante Heart, who is running for a council seat in Ward 5.

With Rosebud Sioux member Lance Lehmann running in Ward 4, Native Americans are represented in the five city elections and the mayor's race, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Natalie Stites Means, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, is challenging two-term Mayor Steve Allender. The winner will be the first mayor to serve a four-year term.

Stites Means identified access to social assistance and criminal justice as two of the issues important to her. She said that the city council's recent adoption of an ordinance penalizing panhandling was what drove her to file for candidacy several days ago.

The council, she said, failed to recognize that the ordinance unfairly targeted Native Americans.

``I thought that was really paternalistic and really reflected a lack of sophistication on their part in terms of understanding what cultural differences are, what diversity is and what racism is,'' she said.

One of the two three-year seats in each of the city's five wards are up for grabs on June 4 as well.

Stephanie Savoy, a Rural America Initiatives employee and member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, will be running for the seat in Ward 3 to replace incumbent Jason Salamun, who is not seeking reelection. Jeff Bailie, Brittany Richman and Gregory Strommen also are running to represent Ward 3.

Two of the five Native American women running are the sole challengers of two council incumbents seeking reelection.

In Ward 1, Terra Houska is running against Lisa Modrick, who was first elected to the council in 2016. Heart, of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, is running against Darla Drew, first elected in 2014, in Ward 5.

Ramona Herrington, of the Oglala Sioux, is facing off against Bill Evans in Ward 2 to replace Steve Laurenti, who also is not seeking reelection.

In Ward 4, council President Amanda Scott, who has served on the council since 2012 and chairs several committees, is being challenged by Lehmann and Tim Johnson.

Council members Becky Drury, Ritchie Nordstrom, Chad Lewis, John Roberts and Laura Armstrong each have one year remaining in their terms.

The candidates said that while minority representation in city hall is important, the issues they see do not only affect Native Americans.

``We are prepared and I am prepared as a candidate to address the needs of all,'' Stites Means said. ``I am not interested in being the mayor of Native American Rapid City. I am interested in being the mayor of this city.''

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

 

Navajo Technical University to Honor New Mexico Sen. Pinto

CROWNPOINT, N.M. (AP) _ New Mexico Sen. John Pinto, one of the longest-serving Native American legislators in U.S. history, is set to be recognized with an honorary degree.

The Gallup Independent reports Navajo Technical University is scheduled to celebrate the 94-year-old Pinto with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service at the university's May 17 commencement.

The Lupton, Arizona-born Pinto has served in the New Mexico Senate since 1977.

Navajo Technical University president Elmer Guy says the Democrat has been a strong advocate for the Navajo Nation and the university.

Pinto served in World War II as a Navajo Code Talker.

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Information from: Gallup Independent, http://www.gallupindependent.com

 

Arizona Residents Accused of Selling Fake Native Jewelry

PHOENIX (AP) _ Three Arizona residents are among seven people charged with fraudulently selling jewelry imported from the Philippines as authentic Native American-made items.

A federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a 38-count indictment that alleges none of these jewelry items were indelibly marked with the country of origin as required by customs law.

They say 70-year-old Richard Dennis Nisbet of Peoria and his 31-year-old daughter Laura Marye Lott conspired with others to design and manufacture the jewelry in the Philippines and import it to the United States.

Lott then allegedly delivered the jewelry to retail stores in Arizona, Texas and other states and collected payments.

Prosecutors say 43-year-old Scottsdale jewelry store owner Waleed Sarrar conspired with Nisbet, Lott and others to pass off imitation jewelry manufactured abroad as authentic Native American items.

 

Scientists Observe Low Sea Ice in Bering Sea off Alaska

By DAN JOLING
Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Open water has replaced sea ice in much of the Bering Sea off Alaska's west coast, leaving villages vulnerable to powerful winter storms and adding challenges to Alaska Native hunters seeking marine mammals, an expert said Monday.

Rick Thoman of the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment & Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks said that winter storms over five weeks obliterated thin ice that had formed since December.

Wind blew ice to Russian beaches in the west and to the south side of Norton Sound south of Nome but left open water all the way to Chukchi Sea north of the Bering Strait.

``You can take your sailboat from Dillingham to Diomede today,'' he said.

Sea ice historically covers much of the Bering Sea throughout the winter with maximum coverage through March. Kotzebue Sound, a great bay northeast of the Bering Strait, already has open water, an occurrence normally seen in June.

It's the second consecutive winter for low sea ice. Last year, it was low all season. This winter, a warm November was followed by a cold December and January, Thoman said.

``Then the weather pattern changed and the ice has just collapsed,'' he said. He suspects that heat in the ocean played a factor.

Phyllis Stabenow, a physical oceanographer at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Monday that storms played a large role in the extreme low ice.

Winds from November to April typically blow out of the north or northwest and are cold, driving ice southward, she said by email. The year, warm winds in a series of storms blew out of the southwest in mid-January and especially February.

``These storms broke the ice up and pushed it north. Also some of the ice melted. So the ice is now similar in extent to what it was last year at this time and last year had the lowest maximum ice extent ever observed,'' she said.

Thoman and Stabenow did not label the unusual ice event as climate change. The Bering Sea has been warm for several years, Thoman said. The ice loss can be attributed to a warm ocean and combination of an unusual but not unprecedented weather pattern.

However, some events are unlikely to occur without climate change, he said.

Stabenow said no single event can be attributed to climate change.

``What can be said is that some climate models predict more southerly winds, which will reduce ice extent,'' she said. ``Also, an increase in southerly winds in the northern Bering Sea during the fall and winter has been observed since 2016.''

Sea ice is an important feature of the ecosystem. Its absence has implications above and below the ocean surface.

Coastal communities historically could rely on a barrier of sea ice after Labor Day to protect them from the pounding of fierce winter storms. Without an ice cover, waves erode beaches and sometimes flood villages, Thoman said.

Residents of coastal villages traditionally hunt and butcher marine mammals such as walruses and seals when the animals ``haul out'' on ice. Residents of St. Lawrence Island last year had to try to hunt in open water far from shore, Thoman said.

``Now instead of going out one mile, you have to go out 50. There's that increased cost,'' Thoman said. ``It's much more difficult to butcher an animal the size of a walrus in a boat as opposed to on ice. Much greater chance of injury to the people. Much greater chance of losing the animal altogether.''

Sea ice historically has formed a ``cold pool'' in the central Bering Sea, a barrier of cold water that sets the structure for fish. The cold pool acts as a thermal wall, keeping valuable commercial fish such walleye pollock and Pacific cod, in the southern and central Bering Sea.

In the absence of sea ice last year, federal fish biologists conducting surveys found that a 2018 cold pool had not formed and that southern species had migrated north in far greater numbers.

 

Ballpark Mustard Maker Drops Indians' Chief Wahoo Logo

CLEVELAND (AP) _ The maker of Cleveland's ballpark mustard is removing the Chief Wahoo logo from its branding and packaging to maintain longstanding ties with the Cleveland Indians baseball team.

Cleveland.com reports the Indians have told official partners like Bertman Foods Co., the maker of Bertman Original Ballpark Mustard, those relationships can't continue unless they stop using Chief Wahoo. The caricature is widely seen as racist and offensive to Native Americans.

The Indians will stop using Chief Wahoo on player uniforms starting this season. The club had been phasing out the logo for years and struck an agreement with Major League Baseball last year to discontinue its use altogether.

The team will continue to sell a few Chief Wahoo items at team shops to retain its trademark.

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Information from: cleveland.com, http://www.cleveland.com

 

Plaque That Calls Native Americans 'Savage Enemies' Removed

YARMOUTH, Maine (AP) _ A Maine town has removed a 90-year-old cemetery plaque that referred to Native Americans as ``savage enemies.''

Yarmouth Town Manager Nat Tupper says the historical marker was brought to his attention by residents who were preparing to make a presentation of the documentary ``Dawnland'' at the local library.

Tupper says the residents felt the marker was inconsistent with today's values, and it was removed from the cemetery Feb. 7.

Katie Worthing of the Yarmouth Historical Society says the sign will be archived for educational purposes.

Maria Girouard with a Wabanaki advocacy group says there are other signs with similar language around the state.

Girouard says that type of signage perpetuates stereotypes of violence, and she hopes other places will be inspired to remove it.

 

Bill Would Rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ Maine lawmakers are set to consider trading the Columbus Day holiday for a tribute to Native Americans.

The Legislature's State and Local Government Committee is set to hold a hearing on the bill Monday.

Democratic Rep. Benjamin Collings of Portland sponsored the bill that renames the state holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October to Indigenous Peoples Day.

At least five states have done away with celebrating the explorer Christopher Columbus in deference to Native Americans, though the federal Columbus holiday remains in place. A similar bill recently passed a legislative committee in New Mexico.

Several Maine communities have adopted Indigenous Peoples Day, including Bangor and Portland.

Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador Maulian Dana praised municipalities for taking such steps at Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' inauguration.

 

New Mexico Seeks Student Assessments that Reflect Culture

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ The state's newly appointed education secretary says the next version of statewide tests for student academic performance should reflect the unique cultures of a heavily Hispanic and Native American state.

New Mexico Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo told reporters Friday that a clear picture should emerge in August of the new statewide assessments for students and that the exams need to be culturally relevant.

In one of her first actions as governor, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham did away with student assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers that she pilloried as high-pressure and counterproductive. Students will take an abbreviated assessment this spring as new exams are developed.

Trujillo says assessments that include unfamiliar terms may not fully reflect a child's knowledge.

 

Sports Anglers Concerned About New Lake Superior Agreement

SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) _ Some sports anglers have expressed frustration after Wisconsin officials and two tribes settled a new agreement for managing Lake Superior's fishery.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that anglers say they were left out of the state's negotiations with the Red Cliff and Bad River Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the tribes approved the Lake Superior Fishing Agreement last month, saying the new terms will protect the Lake Superior fishery.

Apostle Islands Sports Fishermen's Association President Scott Bretting says the new agreement was negotiated behind closed doors. They're concerned that the agreement puts more pressure on the fishery, particularly a new commercial whitefish season in October.

DNR official Scott Loomans says they'll continually evaluate the new whitefish season. Loomans says the department doesn't believe the season will negatively impact the fishery.

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org

 

Maine Lawmakers to Consider Whether to Allow Sports Gambling

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ Maine lawmakers are poised to debate whether to allow Mainers to legally place bets sports games.

The Portland Press Herald reports that lawmakers could consider bills including allowing sports betting by Maine casinos or the state's American Indian tribes.

Rhode Island is one of eight states the allow sports betting, and the only New England state to do so.

The newspaper reports that at least 30 other states have such bills in the works. A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturned federal law prohibiting states from legalizing sports betting.

Few details of the Maine bills are available yet. Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson wants to prohibit gambling on Maine collegiate, minor league and high school teams.

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Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com

 

Partnership Aims to Help New Mexico Tribe Monitor its Land

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ A Native American community in northern New Mexico will soon get help from solar-powered drones to monitor its vast land holdings from above.

Under a new partnership with Santa Fe-based Wildflower International, unmanned aerial systems made by Albuquerque-based Silent Falcon UAS Technologies will assist Pojoaque Pueblo in managing its roaming bison herd, mapping cultural sites and improving fire control and search-and-rescue efforts.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the flights will begin this month.

The project will provide an opportunity for Wildflower to train its newly-formed UAS flight team. It's a new business for Wildflower, a 27-year-old information technology firm that Kimberly deCastro built into a company with more than 83 employees.

Since launching in 1991, Wildflower has relied almost exclusively on federal contracts for information technology products and services to grow its business. But given the rise of the cloud and plummeting costs for IT systems and services, profit margins are shrinking and the company is pivoting to the rapidly growing market for drone services.

``UAS operations are opening a lot more doors for us,'' deCastro said. ``It's an emerging market that we're investing heavily in.''

Wildflower partnered in 2018 with Silent Falcon, which equips its solar-powered drones with infrared cameras and other sensors for real-time surveillance and imaging. It sells the system to public and private entities worldwide, but it's now moving into service-based contracts to operate its system for customers.

It wants to break into federal contracting, said Silent Falcon CEO John Brown.

Wildflower already scored its first UAS contract to provide services with Silent Falcon drones to the U.S. Homeland Security Department starting in April. To do that, Wildflower's new six-member flight team needs to train in real-world terrain, which the Pojoaque partnership provides.

``We need to be accurate and safe and deliver the right data set to our customers,'' deCastro said. ``We need experience so when we fly for agencies it looks like the Air Force just showed up.''

Wildflower purchased two Silent Falcons, which will fly at Pojoaque.

In addition to its monitoring services, the company also will train pueblo members for UAS careers, something particularly appealing to Pojoaque Gov. Joseph Talachy.

``To be successful tomorrow, the members of the pueblo need to gain the skills for the jobs of tomorrow,'' Talachy said in a statement. ``There seems to be no doubt that unmanned aircraft is a technology that has huge growth potential.''

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

 

Wisconsin Management Area Approved to Combat Deer Disease

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ A task force has established new restrictions on Native American tribal members' transporting or disposing of deer carcasses within certain parts of Wisconsin due to the risk of spreading chronic wasting disease.

The Voigt Intertribal Task Force approved a tribal management area in parts of Oneida, Lincoln and Langlade counties to safeguard deer from being exposed to the fatal neurological disease, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The task force is comprised of members from tribes in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and recommends policies regarding tribal rights to hunt, fish and gather off-reservation.

The management area sets boundaries which tribal members will be prohibited from moving deer into and beyond because of an increased likelihood for a deer to be infected with chronic wasting disease. The new policy also prohibits tribal members from disposing of any deer carcass within the zone, except at the site of the kill, a licensed landfill or a designated collection location.

CWD is spread through deer-to-deer contact and fatally attacks an infected animal's nervous system.

The new rules come in response to two incidents this year in which deer tested positive for the disease near tribal communities in Lincoln and Oneida counties, according to Travis Bartnick, a wildlife biologist for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The move also comes after Wisconsin lawmakers in October rejected Gov. Scott Walker's emergency rule to limit hunters from moving deer carcasses from counties affected by the disease.

The tribal members ``want to do everything in their power to protect the wild whitetail deer and elk herd,'' Bartnick said. ``Even though they're such a minority of the population of deer hunters out there, they want to be able to set this example of how to do things in the right way.''

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org

 

New Mexico Rural Water Projects Get $35M Federal Boost

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Efforts to build water and wastewater systems and improve existing infrastructure in a few communities in rural New Mexico will see a $35 million infusion of federal funding.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation announced the funding this week from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

The money comes in the form of low-interest loans and grants and is set aside for tribes, colonias and rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Projects in Garfield, Socorro and San Miguel County are among the recipients.

The largest share will go to the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority in San Juan County to build a new wastewater delivery and treatment plant. The old system exceeded federal standards by releasing high rates of effluent into the San Juan River.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ A Native American college in North Dakota is preparing to close its nursing program this month.

The United Tribes Technical College's nursing program will end May 10, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

The college decided in December to voluntarily discontinue the program after recent resignations put it out of compliance with North Dakota Board of Nursing standards. The college saw departures from the program's administrator and three faculty members.

The college contracted with temporary staff to allow eight students in the program to complete their education in order to graduate this month, said Stacey Pfenning, the board's executive director. Officials also alerted current and prospective students last year that the program would be discontinued.

The number of students enrolled in the college's nursing program had been declining in recent years, according to the state board's annual report.

The United Tribes Technical College had 22 students enrolled in its nursing program in the 2017-2018 school year, compared to 34 in 2012-2013.

College officials attributed the decrease to the creation of two-year registered nursing programs in the area. United Tribes Technical College is the third tribal college in North Dakota to close its nursing program in recent years, the school stated.

Leander McDonald, the college's president, said ``knowing that students would have other options in the community helped in making the decision.''

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

 

Arizona History Project Displays Photos of Four Corners Region

PHOENIX (AP) _ A collection of photos taken in the Four Corners region by a prominent Arizona ranching family during the late 19th and early 20th centuries is being called a snapshot of history.

The State of Arizona Research Library says the selection of images from the Wetherill family's collection can be viewed online at http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/weth as part of the Arizona Memory Project.

Curatorial Specialist Jannelle Weakly says the Wetherills were ranchers, traders, explorers, and amateur archaeologists who participated in the discovery, excavation, research and preservation of significant sites in the Four Corners area.

The collection includes photos from John Wetherill's travels to Rainbow Bridge, Monument Valley, and Mesa Verde. The photographs also include ones Wetherill took of American Indians, including notable Navajo leaders Hosteen Luca and Wolfkiller.

 

Cherokee Tribal Writing Inside Alabama Cave Finally Decoded

FORT PAYNE, Ala. (AP) _ Archaeologists and Cherokee scholars have collaborated to interpret tribal inscriptions written in an Alabama cave.

The inscriptions inside Manitou Cave near Fort Payne are evidence of the tribe's syllabary, which the Cherokee scholar Sequoyah developed using symbols for each sound. It was formally adopted as the tribe's official written language in 1825.

The study of the inscriptions was published in the April issue of Antiquity, an international archaeological journal. Experts say they describe secluded ceremonial activities in the years before the Cherokee were forcibly removed from the region along the Trail of Tears.

One inscription describes a particular game similar to lacrosse in 1828 when players entered the cave before the games and during intermission. Another was ``written backwards, as if addressing readers inside the rock itself.''

 

Native American Women Set Record in Rapid City Election

By MATTHEW GUERRY
Rapid City Journal

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ An unprecedented number of Native American women are running for office in the Rapid City municipal election in June.

Saying that the city council ought to better reflect the people it represents, four of them officially announced their candidacy in front of the city administration in downtown Rapid City.

``I am running because I think everyone deserves a voice at the table,'' said Cante Heart, who is running for a council seat in Ward 5.

With Rosebud Sioux member Lance Lehmann running in Ward 4, Native Americans are represented in the five city elections and the mayor's race, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Natalie Stites Means, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, is challenging two-term Mayor Steve Allender. The winner will be the first mayor to serve a four-year term.

Stites Means identified access to social assistance and criminal justice as two of the issues important to her. She said that the city council's recent adoption of an ordinance penalizing panhandling was what drove her to file for candidacy several days ago.

The council, she said, failed to recognize that the ordinance unfairly targeted Native Americans.

``I thought that was really paternalistic and really reflected a lack of sophistication on their part in terms of understanding what cultural differences are, what diversity is and what racism is,'' she said.

One of the two three-year seats in each of the city's five wards are up for grabs on June 4 as well.

Stephanie Savoy, a Rural America Initiatives employee and member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, will be running for the seat in Ward 3 to replace incumbent Jason Salamun, who is not seeking reelection. Jeff Bailie, Brittany Richman and Gregory Strommen also are running to represent Ward 3.

Two of the five Native American women running are the sole challengers of two council incumbents seeking reelection.

In Ward 1, Terra Houska is running against Lisa Modrick, who was first elected to the council in 2016. Heart, of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, is running against Darla Drew, first elected in 2014, in Ward 5.

Ramona Herrington, of the Oglala Sioux, is facing off against Bill Evans in Ward 2 to replace Steve Laurenti, who also is not seeking reelection.

In Ward 4, council President Amanda Scott, who has served on the council since 2012 and chairs several committees, is being challenged by Lehmann and Tim Johnson.

Council members Becky Drury, Ritchie Nordstrom, Chad Lewis, John Roberts and Laura Armstrong each have one year remaining in their terms.

The candidates said that while minority representation in city hall is important, the issues they see do not only affect Native Americans.

``We are prepared and I am prepared as a candidate to address the needs of all,'' Stites Means said. ``I am not interested in being the mayor of Native American Rapid City. I am interested in being the mayor of this city.''

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

 

Navajo Technical University to Honor New Mexico Sen. Pinto

CROWNPOINT, N.M. (AP) _ New Mexico Sen. John Pinto, one of the longest-serving Native American legislators in U.S. history, is set to be recognized with an honorary degree.

The Gallup Independent reports Navajo Technical University is scheduled to celebrate the 94-year-old Pinto with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service at the university's May 17 commencement.

The Lupton, Arizona-born Pinto has served in the New Mexico Senate since 1977.

Navajo Technical University president Elmer Guy says the Democrat has been a strong advocate for the Navajo Nation and the university.

Pinto served in World War II as a Navajo Code Talker.

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Information from: Gallup Independent, http://www.gallupindependent.com

 

Arizona Residents Accused of Selling Fake Native Jewelry

PHOENIX (AP) _ Three Arizona residents are among seven people charged with fraudulently selling jewelry imported from the Philippines as authentic Native American-made items.

A federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a 38-count indictment that alleges none of these jewelry items were indelibly marked with the country of origin as required by customs law.

They say 70-year-old Richard Dennis Nisbet of Peoria and his 31-year-old daughter Laura Marye Lott conspired with others to design and manufacture the jewelry in the Philippines and import it to the United States.

Lott then allegedly delivered the jewelry to retail stores in Arizona, Texas and other states and collected payments.

Prosecutors say 43-year-old Scottsdale jewelry store owner Waleed Sarrar conspired with Nisbet, Lott and others to pass off imitation jewelry manufactured abroad as authentic Native American items.

 

Scientists Observe Low Sea Ice in Bering Sea off Alaska

By DAN JOLING
Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Open water has replaced sea ice in much of the Bering Sea off Alaska's west coast, leaving villages vulnerable to powerful winter storms and adding challenges to Alaska Native hunters seeking marine mammals, an expert said Monday.

Rick Thoman of the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment & Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks said that winter storms over five weeks obliterated thin ice that had formed since December.

Wind blew ice to Russian beaches in the west and to the south side of Norton Sound south of Nome but left open water all the way to Chukchi Sea north of the Bering Strait.

``You can take your sailboat from Dillingham to Diomede today,'' he said.

Sea ice historically covers much of the Bering Sea throughout the winter with maximum coverage through March. Kotzebue Sound, a great bay northeast of the Bering Strait, already has open water, an occurrence normally seen in June.

It's the second consecutive winter for low sea ice. Last year, it was low all season. This winter, a warm November was followed by a cold December and January, Thoman said.

``Then the weather pattern changed and the ice has just collapsed,'' he said. He suspects that heat in the ocean played a factor.

Phyllis Stabenow, a physical oceanographer at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Monday that storms played a large role in the extreme low ice.

Winds from November to April typically blow out of the north or northwest and are cold, driving ice southward, she said by email. The year, warm winds in a series of storms blew out of the southwest in mid-January and especially February.

``These storms broke the ice up and pushed it north. Also some of the ice melted. So the ice is now similar in extent to what it was last year at this time and last year had the lowest maximum ice extent ever observed,'' she said.

Thoman and Stabenow did not label the unusual ice event as climate change. The Bering Sea has been warm for several years, Thoman said. The ice loss can be attributed to a warm ocean and combination of an unusual but not unprecedented weather pattern.

However, some events are unlikely to occur without climate change, he said.

Stabenow said no single event can be attributed to climate change.

``What can be said is that some climate models predict more southerly winds, which will reduce ice extent,'' she said. ``Also, an increase in southerly winds in the northern Bering Sea during the fall and winter has been observed since 2016.''

Sea ice is an important feature of the ecosystem. Its absence has implications above and below the ocean surface.

Coastal communities historically could rely on a barrier of sea ice after Labor Day to protect them from the pounding of fierce winter storms. Without an ice cover, waves erode beaches and sometimes flood villages, Thoman said.

Residents of coastal villages traditionally hunt and butcher marine mammals such as walruses and seals when the animals ``haul out'' on ice. Residents of St. Lawrence Island last year had to try to hunt in open water far from shore, Thoman said.

``Now instead of going out one mile, you have to go out 50. There's that increased cost,'' Thoman said. ``It's much more difficult to butcher an animal the size of a walrus in a boat as opposed to on ice. Much greater chance of injury to the people. Much greater chance of losing the animal altogether.''

Sea ice historically has formed a ``cold pool'' in the central Bering Sea, a barrier of cold water that sets the structure for fish. The cold pool acts as a thermal wall, keeping valuable commercial fish such walleye pollock and Pacific cod, in the southern and central Bering Sea.

In the absence of sea ice last year, federal fish biologists conducting surveys found that a 2018 cold pool had not formed and that southern species had migrated north in far greater numbers.

 

Ballpark Mustard Maker Drops Indians' Chief Wahoo Logo

CLEVELAND (AP) _ The maker of Cleveland's ballpark mustard is removing the Chief Wahoo logo from its branding and packaging to maintain longstanding ties with the Cleveland Indians baseball team.

Cleveland.com reports the Indians have told official partners like Bertman Foods Co., the maker of Bertman Original Ballpark Mustard, those relationships can't continue unless they stop using Chief Wahoo. The caricature is widely seen as racist and offensive to Native Americans.

The Indians will stop using Chief Wahoo on player uniforms starting this season. The club had been phasing out the logo for years and struck an agreement with Major League Baseball last year to discontinue its use altogether.

The team will continue to sell a few Chief Wahoo items at team shops to retain its trademark.

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Information from: cleveland.com, http://www.cleveland.com

 

Plaque That Calls Native Americans 'Savage Enemies' Removed

YARMOUTH, Maine (AP) _ A Maine town has removed a 90-year-old cemetery plaque that referred to Native Americans as ``savage enemies.''

Yarmouth Town Manager Nat Tupper says the historical marker was brought to his attention by residents who were preparing to make a presentation of the documentary ``Dawnland'' at the local library.

Tupper says the residents felt the marker was inconsistent with today's values, and it was removed from the cemetery Feb. 7.

Katie Worthing of the Yarmouth Historical Society says the sign will be archived for educational purposes.

Maria Girouard with a Wabanaki advocacy group says there are other signs with similar language around the state.

Girouard says that type of signage perpetuates stereotypes of violence, and she hopes other places will be inspired to remove it.

 

Bill Would Rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ Maine lawmakers are set to consider trading the Columbus Day holiday for a tribute to Native Americans.

The Legislature's State and Local Government Committee is set to hold a hearing on the bill Monday.

Democratic Rep. Benjamin Collings of Portland sponsored the bill that renames the state holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October to Indigenous Peoples Day.

At least five states have done away with celebrating the explorer Christopher Columbus in deference to Native Americans, though the federal Columbus holiday remains in place. A similar bill recently passed a legislative committee in New Mexico.

Several Maine communities have adopted Indigenous Peoples Day, including Bangor and Portland.

Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador Maulian Dana praised municipalities for taking such steps at Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' inauguration.

 

New Mexico Seeks Student Assessments that Reflect Culture

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ The state's newly appointed education secretary says the next version of statewide tests for student academic performance should reflect the unique cultures of a heavily Hispanic and Native American state.

New Mexico Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo told reporters Friday that a clear picture should emerge in August of the new statewide assessments for students and that the exams need to be culturally relevant.

In one of her first actions as governor, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham did away with student assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers that she pilloried as high-pressure and counterproductive. Students will take an abbreviated assessment this spring as new exams are developed.

Trujillo says assessments that include unfamiliar terms may not fully reflect a child's knowledge.

 

Sports Anglers Concerned About New Lake Superior Agreement

SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) _ Some sports anglers have expressed frustration after Wisconsin officials and two tribes settled a new agreement for managing Lake Superior's fishery.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that anglers say they were left out of the state's negotiations with the Red Cliff and Bad River Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the tribes approved the Lake Superior Fishing Agreement last month, saying the new terms will protect the Lake Superior fishery.

Apostle Islands Sports Fishermen's Association President Scott Bretting says the new agreement was negotiated behind closed doors. They're concerned that the agreement puts more pressure on the fishery, particularly a new commercial whitefish season in October.

DNR official Scott Loomans says they'll continually evaluate the new whitefish season. Loomans says the department doesn't believe the season will negatively impact the fishery.

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org

 

Maine Lawmakers to Consider Whether to Allow Sports Gambling

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ Maine lawmakers are poised to debate whether to allow Mainers to legally place bets sports games.

The Portland Press Herald reports that lawmakers could consider bills including allowing sports betting by Maine casinos or the state's American Indian tribes.

Rhode Island is one of eight states the allow sports betting, and the only New England state to do so.

The newspaper reports that at least 30 other states have such bills in the works. A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturned federal law prohibiting states from legalizing sports betting.

Few details of the Maine bills are available yet. Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson wants to prohibit gambling on Maine collegiate, minor league and high school teams.

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Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com

 

Partnership Aims to Help New Mexico Tribe Monitor its Land

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ A Native American community in northern New Mexico will soon get help from solar-powered drones to monitor its vast land holdings from above.

Under a new partnership with Santa Fe-based Wildflower International, unmanned aerial systems made by Albuquerque-based Silent Falcon UAS Technologies will assist Pojoaque Pueblo in managing its roaming bison herd, mapping cultural sites and improving fire control and search-and-rescue efforts.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the flights will begin this month.

The project will provide an opportunity for Wildflower to train its newly-formed UAS flight team. It's a new business for Wildflower, a 27-year-old information technology firm that Kimberly deCastro built into a company with more than 83 employees.

Since launching in 1991, Wildflower has relied almost exclusively on federal contracts for information technology products and services to grow its business. But given the rise of the cloud and plummeting costs for IT systems and services, profit margins are shrinking and the company is pivoting to the rapidly growing market for drone services.

``UAS operations are opening a lot more doors for us,'' deCastro said. ``It's an emerging market that we're investing heavily in.''

Wildflower partnered in 2018 with Silent Falcon, which equips its solar-powered drones with infrared cameras and other sensors for real-time surveillance and imaging. It sells the system to public and private entities worldwide, but it's now moving into service-based contracts to operate its system for customers.

It wants to break into federal contracting, said Silent Falcon CEO John Brown.

Wildflower already scored its first UAS contract to provide services with Silent Falcon drones to the U.S. Homeland Security Department starting in April. To do that, Wildflower's new six-member flight team needs to train in real-world terrain, which the Pojoaque partnership provides.

``We need to be accurate and safe and deliver the right data set to our customers,'' deCastro said. ``We need experience so when we fly for agencies it looks like the Air Force just showed up.''

Wildflower purchased two Silent Falcons, which will fly at Pojoaque.

In addition to its monitoring services, the company also will train pueblo members for UAS careers, something particularly appealing to Pojoaque Gov. Joseph Talachy.

``To be successful tomorrow, the members of the pueblo need to gain the skills for the jobs of tomorrow,'' Talachy said in a statement. ``There seems to be no doubt that unmanned aircraft is a technology that has huge growth potential.''

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

 

Wisconsin Management Area Approved to Combat Deer Disease

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ A task force has established new restrictions on Native American tribal members' transporting or disposing of deer carcasses within certain parts of Wisconsin due to the risk of spreading chronic wasting disease.

The Voigt Intertribal Task Force approved a tribal management area in parts of Oneida, Lincoln and Langlade counties to safeguard deer from being exposed to the fatal neurological disease, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The task force is comprised of members from tribes in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and recommends policies regarding tribal rights to hunt, fish and gather off-reservation.

The management area sets boundaries which tribal members will be prohibited from moving deer into and beyond because of an increased likelihood for a deer to be infected with chronic wasting disease. The new policy also prohibits tribal members from disposing of any deer carcass within the zone, except at the site of the kill, a licensed landfill or a designated collection location.

CWD is spread through deer-to-deer contact and fatally attacks an infected animal's nervous system.

The new rules come in response to two incidents this year in which deer tested positive for the disease near tribal communities in Lincoln and Oneida counties, according to Travis Bartnick, a wildlife biologist for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The move also comes after Wisconsin lawmakers in October rejected Gov. Scott Walker's emergency rule to limit hunters from moving deer carcasses from counties affected by the disease.

The tribal members ``want to do everything in their power to protect the wild whitetail deer and elk herd,'' Bartnick said. ``Even though they're such a minority of the population of deer hunters out there, they want to be able to set this example of how to do things in the right way.''

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org

 

New Mexico Rural Water Projects Get $35M Federal Boost

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Efforts to build water and wastewater systems and improve existing infrastructure in a few communities in rural New Mexico will see a $35 million infusion of federal funding.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation announced the funding this week from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

The money comes in the form of low-interest loans and grants and is set aside for tribes, colonias and rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Projects in Garfield, Socorro and San Miguel County are among the recipients.

The largest share will go to the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority in San Juan County to build a new wastewater delivery and treatment plant. The old system exceeded federal standards by releasing high rates of effluent into the San Juan River.

Oklahoma's Choctaw Horses Connect to Mississippi

Choctaw horses. (Photo Credit: returntofreedom.org)

By JANET McCONNAUGHEY
Associated Press

POPLARVILLE, Miss. (AP) _ Six foals sired by a cream-colored stallion called DeSoto scamper across a pasture in southwest Mississippi _ the first new blood in a century for a line of horses brought to America by Spanish conquistadors and bred by Choctaw Indians who were later forced out of their ancestral homelands.

Choctaw horses were thought to be long gone from this region, disappearing when their Native American owners were expelled from the U.S. Southeast by the government. But the surprise discovery of DeSoto on a farm in Poplarville 13 years ago led to a plan to help the dwindling strain survive.

``That really gives us a shot in the arm,'' said Bryant Rickman, who has been working since 1980 near Antlers, Oklahoma, to restore the line. He estimates he has bred more than 300 of the horses from nine mares and three stallions. But having so few stallions led to a bottleneck, because the gene pool was so small.

Choctaws saw great power in horses. Ian Thompson, tribal historic preservation officer for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, said their word for horse, issoba, means ``like a deer'' _ and the deer was the tribe's most important animal, both economically and spiritually.

``So naming the horse after the deer was really saying something,'' Thompson said.

Choctaw horses are descended from those brought to the United States in the 1500s and later by Spanish explorers and colonists, said Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

It's one strain in a breed called Colonial Spanish horses, often referred to by the misleading term ``Spanish mustang.'' Colonial Spanish horses are among the world's few genetically unique horse breeds, and are of great historic importance to this country, Sponenberg said.

The Choctaw nation lived in much of what are now Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Choctaws owned tens of thousands of horses by 1830, when Congress gave President Andrew Jackson the power to force Indians out of lands east of the Mississippi, Thompson said.

The relocation of Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee, and Seminole Indians to Oklahoma, which has come to be known as the ``Trail of Tears,'' took decades. Thompson said more than 12,000 Choctaw people made the journey but an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 died along the way. In Oklahoma, the Choctaw and their horses were part of the cattle-ranching economy.

The horses are small but tough and durable.

``They're very people-oriented. They're just as docile as your favorite dog,'' said Rickman.

DeSoto was discovered in 2005 when Sponenberg visited Poplarville to check out small cattle descended from Spanish colonial stock. He was surprised to find Spanish colonial sheep, there, too. Then came the day's biggest surprise.

``Out of the woods came this horse, single-footing,'' he said, referring to a smooth gait between walking and galloping, rather than the bouncing trot common to most horses.

Bill Frank Brown was 14 when he inherited the Poplarville farm that Sponenberg visited in 2005. The farm had been in Brown's family since 1881 and the livestock there, even longer. Brown had three stallions back then, including DeSoto. He called them pine tacky horses. The Texas A&M veterinary school tested samples of the stallions' DNA, and they matched those of Rickman's Choctaws.

Two of the stallions have since died, leaving only DeSoto. Sponenberg picked the mares that would be the best genetic matches for DeSoto, and they were brought to Mississippi last year. The Browns say some of the offspring will remain in Mississippi while others will go back to Oklahoma, along with pregnant mares.

 

Bass Pro Shops Pulls Trail of Tears Rifle Amid Complaints

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Bass Pro Shops pulled a used 1978 Winchester rifle commemorating the Cherokee Trail of Tears from one of its Arkansas store's shelves and apologized to the tribe after a photo of the gun led to calls to boycott the outdoor gear chain.

A customer in Rogers, Arkansas, posted photos of the rifle on Twitter, leading to accusations that Bass Pro was profiting from the tragic forced relocation of the Cherokee Nation that began in 1838. More than 4,000 Cherokee died during the more than 1,000-mile walk to what is now Oklahoma in what is known as the Trail of Tears.

The company's communications director, Jack Wlezien, told The Tulsa World that the rifle was acquired from a trade-in and is not part of the store's standard stock.

``It's a niche product that came in on a trade,'' Wlezien said. ``As you can imagine, there are a wide range of firearms traded on a regular basis, and there wasn't much deep consideration about the individual gun from a merchandising standpoint by our (sales) associate, but now we are taking steps to be sure we're dealing with it appropriately.''

Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. applauded the company's decision to remove the rifle and ``for using the incident as a teaching moment.''

``The story of the Trail of Tears is one of survival and the ability to adapt and survive in unimaginable circumstances,'' he said. ``We hope in today's environment companies will reach out to Native tribes to better understand our history.''

The Tulsa World reported that according to the website winchestercollector.org, a .30-30 or .22-caliber Winchester Model 1894 ``Cherokee Carbine'' that matches the image of the Bass Pro Shops rifle was one of dozens of Winchester rifles manufactured from 1964 to 2006 that annually commemorated people and historic events, including Bat Masterson, John Wayne and the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

 

Program for Tribes to Access Crime Databases Expanding

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ A federal program for Native American tribes to access national crime information databases is expanding.

The number of participants in the Tribal Access Program is expected to rise from 47 to 72 by the end of 2019.

The tribes can use the databases to do background checks, and see outstanding warrants and domestic violence protection orders.

The U.S. Justice Department and the Department of the Interior said Monday the expansion will help solve crimes and make communities safer.

The Justice Department provides funding for either kiosks that can process prints, take mug shots and submit records or for computer software.

Three of the 25 tribes that are part of the expansion are in Arizona. Others are in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.

Cherokee Nation Responds to Senator Warren’s DNA Test

Chuck Hoskin Jr.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. issued the following statement Monday in response to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test claiming Native Heritage:

"A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America," Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. "Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation. Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage."

To learn more about the Cherokee Nation, visit www.cherokee.org

 

Virginia's Indian Tribes Celebrate Federal Recognition

By MARIE ALBIGES
Daily Press

WEROWOCOMOCO, Va. (AP) _ On land once occupied by their ancestors, members of seven Virginia Indian tribes gathered Wednesday to celebrate being formally recognized by the federal government.

It was an emotional day for tribal leaders, who partook in traditional Native American dances with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, representatives from the Virginia governor's and U.S. Senate's offices, and officials from the National Park Service.

``It's been a long time coming,'' Nansemond Chief Lee Lockamy said on the grounds of Werowocomoco, the former home of Chief Powhatan and Pocahontas, in Gloucester.

The elected officials, whose crisp suits looked out of place next to the colorful regalia worn by tribal members, called the recognition _ which makes the tribes eligible for federal funding and services_ long overdue.

``We all sometimes lamented and said, `Is this ever going to happen?' `` Wittman said. ``Through faith, through dedication, today is indeed here.''

The Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Chickahominy Eastern Division, Monacan, Nansemond, Rappahannock and Upper Mattaponi tribes have been trying to get federal recognition for decades, both through bills and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

In 2015, the Pamunkey became the first in the state to receive federal recognition from the bureau. The effort involved painstakingly assembling the documentation needed to meet seven standards set by the government, including extensive genealogical records showing that their current members descended from the historical tribe.

That federal recognition paved the way, in part, for the Pamunkey to get into the gaming business and to plan a $700 million casino on land approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that was once part of Pamunkey territory.

The federal recognition of the six other tribes came through the signing of the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act, spearheaded by Wittman and signed into law in January.

Unlike the Pamunkey, those six tribes are specifically barred from launching gambling enterprises. But they're still eligible for steps like taking back historical and cultural tribal artifacts, consulting on federal agency actions and receiving federal funds for housing, education and medical care.

Zinke, who was appointed to his position in 2017, said he wanted to make sure the government is in partnership with the tribes.

``My job is to make sure the tribes are sovereign. And sovereignty means something _ that the destiny of every nation is theirs to decide. And in many ways, it's to get the government out of the way so the tribes can decide.''

For Rappahannock Chief Anne Richardson, it felt good to finally see the work of generations of tribal members come to fruition.

``This is liberty for us. This is justice for us,'' she said. ``And we're finally seeing the promises that are inherent in our constitution that we've been left out of all these years.''

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Information from: Daily Press, http://www.dailypress.com/

 

7 People Sentenced in Colorado Tribe's Financial Scam Case

CORTEZ, Colo. (AP) _ The U.S. attorney's office says seven people have been sentenced in a financial scam case that resulted in $1.1 million in federal funds found stolen from the Ute Mountain Ute tribe.

The Cortez Journal reports 13 people have pleaded guilty to charges related to the scam that involved employees of the tribe's Financial Services Department who fraudulently dispersed checks to people they selected between 2011 and 2015.

According to court documents, the people who received the checks, including non-tribal members and inmates, would cash them, and then usually share the cash with the employees.

The sentences handed down this summer in federal court in Durango ranged from 15 months in prison to years of probation. All were ordered to pay restitution in amounts that ranged from $22,000 to $142,000.

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Information from: Cortez Journal, http://www.cortezjournal.com/

 

Bismarck's New Police Chief Looks to the Future

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ For Bismarck's new police chief, law enforcement is in his blood.

Dave Draovitch has worked his way up through the ranks to the Bismarck department's top spot, just like his father did in Minot years ago, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

``This is all I've really known, as far back as I can remember, is being around law enforcement,'' he said.

Draovitch has spent nearly three decades with the department, working from police officer to K-9 handler to sergeant, until 2013 when he became deputy chief. The Bismarck City Commission offered him the top police job last month.

``From (an) internal (appointment) like Dave, you've got a very good knowledge and understanding of the complete setup of the agency, all the employees and positions they're working,'' said Dan Donlin, the former police chief.

Donlin said one adjustment to being chief is to build relationship with city administration and department leaders, and taking care of employees while being available to residents.

``I know he'll do a good job,'' he said.

Draovitch said some of his goals in the new position include addressing disproportionate contact with minorities and remaining engaged with youth. He said he's also reached out to leaders in the local Native American community to hear their concerns.

``I think it's a powerful practice to reflect on what we're doing, and I think it's important to recognize the minority groups that we have in the community and make sure that we are serving them to the same level as we're serving everyone in our community,'' said City Commissioner Shawn Oban, who calls the focus on Native Americans ``vitally important.''

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

 

Kah-Nee-Ta Resort Will Close Wednesday

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ The tribal-owned and operated Kah-nee-ta Resort & Spa will close for good Wednesday.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council voted last week to move forward with a plan to close the resort, ending speculation that the tribes could find a way to keep the facility and its 146 workers in business.

The golf course will also close.

The resort sits on the Warm Springs Reservation 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Bend. The confederated tribes include 5,300 members from the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes.

According to a statement from the tribal government, the decision to close the resort was far from unanimous among the 11-member tribal council. Three members voted yes, five abstained from voting and the chairman did not vote.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

 

Kah-Nee-Ta Resort to Close, 146 Employees to Lose Jobs

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ One of Oregon's biggest resorts is set to close this summer and 146 employees will lose their jobs.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and Spa, which operates on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in central Oregon, announced Friday that it will shutter all operations Sept. 5.

An announcement sent from interim general manager Marie Kay Williams says the decision came as the ``the resort cannot continue operating below a self-sustaining level.''

She wrote that closing the resort is necessary to protect the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs from further financial risk.

With the closing of the resort, 146 employees will be laid off. That includes spa, restaurant, maintenance, room service and administrative workers.

Williams didn't return calls for comment on the decision.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

Marker Honors Native Americans Who Drove Out the KKK

MAXTON, N.C. (AP) _ North Carolina's latest historical highway marker commemorates the Lumbee Tribe driving the Ku Klux Klan out of their county in 1958.

The Robesonian reports the Battle of Hayes Pond sign was dedicated Thursday, during the 50th Annual Lumbee Homecoming in Robeson County.

The marker honors the confrontation between the Lumbee and Klansmen who showed up for a rally on a January day 60 years ago. The outnumbered Klansmen fled in the face of gunfire from the Lumbee. There were no casualties on either side.

The marker idea was proposed by students at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, who sought the tribe's approval before proceeding.

Thursday's dedication was attended by Woodrow Dial, who was 17 when he accompanied his father to confront the KKK.

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Information from: The Robesonian, http://www.robesonian.com

This post will remain active until August, 29, 2018

Environmental groups complain about Atlantic Coast Pipeline

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ A coalition says North Carolina failed to protect the civil rights of residents of color when it approved permits for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The groups want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's civil rights division to require the state Department of Environmental Quality to rescind the permits and perform a more thorough analysis.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported first on their complaint, which accuses the state and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of failing to consider the health and environmental impact. It also says the state obscured the route's disproportionate impact on blacks and Native Americans by comparing demographics within a mile of the pipeline to the rest of each county, rather than the rest of the state.

``The State agencies appear to have relied on FERC's flawed analysis of environmental justice without any separate analysis,'' the groups said in the letter. ``Just because there is a low population concentration does not mean people of low income or people of color would not be disproportionately impacted.''

The letter also noted FERC and the state failed to compare the preferred route with alternatives, noting that a route under early consideration would have passed through ``wealthier and predominantly white communities near Raleigh'' as the $5 billion project carries fracked natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina.

FBI offering reward in Pine Ridge killing investigation

PINE RIDGE, S.D. (AP) _ The FBI is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information in a slaying on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation last fall.

Twenty-four-year-old Raymond Waters Jr. was found dead inside a burned mobile home in Allen on Oct. 16. The FBI says an autopsy concluded he had died before the fire, likely from ax blows, and the fire might have been an act of arson intended to conceal the killing.

The Rapid City Journal reports a juvenile has been charged with second-degree murder in Ray's death. Water's uncle, 45-year-old Nathaniel Waters, was charged in March with being an accessory and lying to federal investigators. He has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities have not said if they are seeking additional suspects.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

Irish prime minister thanks Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma

DURANT, Okla. (AP) _ The prime minister of Ireland has visited members of a Native American tribe in Oklahoma to thank them for a gift sent 171 years ago.

Members of the Choctaw Nation collected $170 in 1847 and sent it to Dublin to help feed the Irish during a potato famine. The money would be worth about $4,400 today.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar met with tribal members in the southern Oklahoma city of Durant as part of a weeklong trip to the U.S. He said the gift is a sacred memory and bond.

The gathering included Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who said she was supporting the Choctaw Nation and Oklahomans.

Choctaw Chief Gary Batton visited Ireland last year to attend the unveiling of a sculpture called Kindred Spirits that commemorates the relationship between the tribe and Ireland.

New Mexico teacher develops braille code for Navajo

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) _ A public school teacher in a New Mexico town situated near the country's largest American Indian reservation has developed a braille code for the Navajo language.

Carol Green, who began developing vision problems as a child and is now a teacher for blind and visually impaired students in Farmington, developed a system of raised dots that enables people to read and write the Navajo language through touch, The Daily Times reported .

The Navajo braille is based off the English code but it eliminates certain letters. The new braille also adds a prefix code for vowels and how to pronounce them.

``The advantage of having this code for the reader is that they can distinguish and pronounce everything properly,'' Green said.

Learning the basics of the Navajo language from her grandparents, Green said that exposure started a lifelong interest in learning more of the language.

Green learned how to read and write braille in 2009 after her vision continued to deteriorate. Green said that she wanted to advance her learning of the Navajo language, so she inquired with the Braille Authority of North America in 2013 to discover a braille code for Navajo did not exist.

Green went to work and developed the first code for Navajo.

Before joining the Farmington Municipal School District in 2010, Green also taught at schools in Shiprock and Red Mesa, Arizona.

Green also created the new braille code so the Navajo students she teaches could have an opportunity to learn the language, she said.

``I thought if I am going to develop it for myself, then I might as well share it so these children have that opportunity. The same as their peers,'' Green said.

In a resolution approved in October 2015, the Navajo Nation Board of Education adopted the Navajo braille code to teach to blind and visually impaired tribal members.

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Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.daily-times.com

Native American identity absent from urban Oklahoma schools

By BEN FELDER
The Oklahoman

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Most of Oklahoma's nearly 130,000 Native American students attend school in small towns, often in communities where their tribe's history is woven into the town's patchwork.

But for the 20 percent of Native students who attend a school in the state's two largest metro areas, cultural connections can be harder to find, especially when it comes to a specific identity.

``Our Native program doesn't include Native language because I have 77 tribes represented (throughout the district), so if I pick one language someone is going to be upset or left out,'' said Star Yellowfish, director of Native American student services for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

The state Department of Education counts more than 1,100 American Indian students in the Oklahoma City school district. But that number represents students with a variety of different tribal affiliations, the largest being Choctaw, Cherokee and Creek.

While Oklahoma City schools have more Native students than most districts, those students are spread out among nearly 100 schools, which can make it tough for a student to see others who share the same cultural identity.

Connecting Native students with each other can be especially important in an urban school system, said George Shields, director of Indian Education for Putnam City Schools.

``In a rural setting, a lot of Native kids are going to get to see grandma and grandpa, uncles and aunts, and feel more connected to their family and their heritage,'' Shields said. ``Our kids don't get that. A lot of the (Native American) families in my district have moved here for a job and it might involve taking that student out of their culture.''

School districts with Indian Education programs, like Putnam City, often provide tutoring, mentoring, test preparation workshops and cultural classes for Native American students.

Districts use parent committees and advisory groups to make decisions on how to disburse funding from Title VI and the federal Johnson-O'Malley Program.

However, some of the federal funding was frozen based on Native American student counts in 1994, even though most school districts in the area have seen their Native American student populations significantly increase since then.

The adjustment to a large urban school is a challenge for some Native American families, especially if the parents' own experience was attending a tribal school when they were younger.

Sheril Thompson, director of Indian Education for the Mid-Del school district, said she often works with Native American families who recently moved to the city and struggle with getting acclimated.

``A lot of your rural schools are sitting in a tribe and they have so many resources right there. Whereas we are up here with not a whole lot,'' Thompson said.

Jillian Palomino, who is Cherokee, is one of around 55 Native American students at Del City High School. But she said it's hard to know those other students because of the school's large size.

``I'm sure if I lived in Tahlequah my heritage would be more of a part of my life,'' said Palomino, referring to the capital city of the Cherokee Nation. ``But being here in the city it's not as much a part of your life.''

Logan Seeley, a senior at Carl Albert High School who is Choctaw, said he'd like to see his classes go deeper with Native American history, especially in a community where there aren't as many chances to learn about the culture outside of school.

His great grandfather's skin was dark and he faced racism because of it. Logan wants to know that history and he wants to learn it in the classroom.

``In Oklahoma history we went over how tribes got here, but that's about it,'' Seeley said.

Phil Gover grew up in the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony in Nevada and he now wants to create a school in Oklahoma City that not only teaches Native American history, but incorporates a Native perspective in all curriculum areas.

``We have a critical mass of Native students in the city that we can serve with a very different take on curriculum and content,'' said Gover, who is leading an effort to launch the Sovereign Community School.

Gover's group is awaiting a response from the Oklahoma City Public Schools after filing an application to open the proposed charter school in 2019, the Oklahoman reported . The application sets a goal to serve 500 mostly Native students within a few years of opening.

``Underlying our school is the notion that Native students will learn better because they are given access to a curriculum that shows Native people in classes outside of history,'' Gover said. ``We are going to read awesome books in our literature class, but we are going to read books by Native people that talk about Native experiences.

``The real idea is you see yourself reflected in the things you are learning about and that raises your engagement.''

Nationally, American Indian students are often highlighted as an academically underachieving student group, especially within the federal government's Bureau of Indian Education school network, where many students have had to overcome generations of forced disenfranchisement.

But there is evidence American Indian students in Oklahoma's public school system perform well, especially compared to other states.

In early 2017, the state Department of Education highlighted Oklahoma's nation-leading scores in fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading for Native students.

In Mid-Del schools, Thompson said over 200 of the district's Native students participate in a gifted and talented program.

The Oklahoma Indian Student Honor Society is a program that not only celebrates academic success among Native American students, but it also offers a chance for students to connect with their heritage in deeper ways, Thompson said.

``In order to get cultural points for the Oklahoma Indian Student Honor Society, many of our (Native) students go out and read to our elementary school kids ... from culturally relevant books the district purchased,'' Thompson said.

Gover said the challenge many Native students in an urban school system face is connecting to their cultural identity, rather than conforming to the world around them.

``Among urban Indians, at least this was my experience ... if you are not already very closely tied to your culture (when you enter school) it can be really hard to keep that part of you,'' Gover said. ``Everything about our system and our schools ... pressures them to conform, to assimilate, to become less like their cultural identity is and become more of the mainstream culture.''

Gover hopes he can prevent a whole new generation from losing their Native American culture, especially those growing up in Oklahoma City.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com