By ELLEN KNICKMEYER
President-elect Joe Biden selected New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as his nominee for interior secretary on Thursday, a historic pick that would make her the first Native American to lead the powerful federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation's tribes for generations.
Tribal leaders and activists around the country, along with many Democratic figures, cheered Haaland's selection after urging Biden for weeks to choose her to lead the Department of Interior. They stood behind her candidacy even when concerns that Democrats might risk their majority in the House if Haaland yielded her seat in Congress appeared to threaten her nomination.
With Haaland's nomination, Indigenous people will for the first time in their lifetimes see a Native American at the table where the highest decisions are made _ and so will everyone else, said OJ Semans, a Rosebud Sioux vote activist who was in Georgia on Thursday helping get out the Native vote for two Senate runoffs. ``It's made people aware that Indians still exist,'' he said.
Haaland, 60, is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and, as she likes to say, a 35th-generation resident of New Mexico. The role of interior secretary would put her in charge of an agency that has tremendous sway not only over the nearly 600 federally recognized tribes, but also over much of the nation's vast public lands, waterways, wildlife, national parks and mineral wealth.
Haaland tweeted after the news was made public that ``growing up in my mother's Pueblo household made me fierce.
``I'll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land,'' she pledged.
Biden plans to introduce Haaland _ and other picks for his Cabinet _ at an event Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware.
Her selection breaks a 245-year record of non-Native officials, mostly male, serving as the top federal official over American Indian affairs. The federal government often worked to dispossess Native Americans of their land and, until recently, to assimilate them into white culture.
``You've got to understand _ you're taking Interior full circle,`` said Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and a champion of Haaland for the job. ``For years, its legacy was the disenfranchisement of the Native people of this country, of displacement, of cultural genocide.``
With Haaland's nomination, ``that in itself is a huge message,'' Grijalva said.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez called it ``truly a historic and unprecedented day for all Indigenous people.''
``I am SO ELATED,'' the head of progressive Democrats' Sunrise Movement, Varshini Prakash, tweeted. ``This will be the first time an Indigenous person - and a badass climate champion woman at that - will hold any presidential cabinet position. Congratulations to (at)JoeBiden for making history.?
Get-out-the-vote activists believe their efforts, and the Native vote, helped flip Arizona in particular for Biden and secure the presidency.
``There's a feeling something is changing,'' said Ashley Nicole McCray, a member of the Absentee Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma and of an indigenous environmental coalition. ``Finally, we've come to this point where Indigenous sentiment is no longer being silenced.``
But Biden's pick could further deplete, at least temporarily, the narrow majority Democrats maintain in the House. Biden has already selected several lawmakers from the chamber, including Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond and Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, to serve in his administration.
Some on Biden's transition team had expressed concerns about dipping further into the already thinned Democratic House majority for another senior administration posting. But Biden decided that the barrier-breaking aspect of her nomination and her experience as vice chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources made her the right pick for the moment.
The president-elect has been methodically filling the posts in his Cabinet, adding North Carolina environmental official Michael Regan as his nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Biden introduced former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg earlier this week as his transportation secretary and announced Thursday that former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was his nominee for energy secretary.
In a statement Thursday night, Biden said he had assembled a ``brilliant, tested, trailblazing team'' that ``will be ready on day one to confront the existential threat of climate change.''
``They share my belief that we have no time to waste to confront the climate crisis, protect our air and drinking water, and deliver justice to communities that have long shouldered the burdens of environmental harms,'' the president-elect said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear Wednesday that Biden had her blessing to choose Haaland, saying she would make an ``excellent choice'' as interior secretary. South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House and a close Biden ally, also supported Haaland for the job.
Haaland is one of the first two Native American women in the House. She told The Associated Press before her nomination that see the difference her position in Congress made for ordinary Native Americans who came to her with business before the federal government.
``They felt comfortable just launching into the issues they wanted,'' Haaland told the AP in an interview before her appointment. They would say, for example, ``Oh, we don't have to explain tribal sovereignty to you,'' meaning tribes' constitutionally guaranteed status as independent nations.
Haaland previously worked as head of New Mexico's Democratic Party, as tribal administrator and as an administrator for an organization providing services for adults with developmental disabilities.
Born to a Marine veteran father and a Navy veteran mother, Haaland describes herself as a single mother who sometimes had to rely on food stamps. She says she is still paying off student loans after college and law school for herself and college for her daughter.
New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, who is retiring after 22 years in Congress and was initially considered the front-runner for interior secretary, congratulated Haaland on her selection, calling it ``momentous and well-earned.''
Previously, the highest-ranking administration official known to have Native American heritage was Charles Curtis, who served as Herbert Hoover's vice president and whose mother was one-quarter Kaw tribe.
Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani in Wilmington, Del., and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.
Navajo Nation Health Director Named to Biden COVID-19 Board
PHOENIX (AP) _ The executive director of the Navajo Nation Department of Health has been named a member of President-elect Joe Biden's COVID-19 advisory board.
Dr. Jill Jim was among the board members announced Saturday as part of Biden's transition team preparing to implement the president-elect's coronavirus containment plans, KPHO-TV reported.
Jim's work has focused on preventing chronic diseases and addressing healthcare and health disparities involving Native Americans and Alaska Natives, a statement from the transition team said.
The Navajo Nation member served urban and tribal communities for 18 years in nonprofit, state and federal agencies.
She most recently served as a cabinet member in the administration of Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer.
``I look forward to working with fellow members of the advisory board to help prepare an urgent, robust, and professional response to the global public health crisis, for President-elect Biden to lead with on day one,'' Jim said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some _ especially older adults and people with existing health problems _ it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Florida's Seminole Tribe Reclaims Ancestors, Artifacts
By BROOKE BAITINGER, South Florida Sun Sentinel
CLEWISTON, Fla. (AP) _ For decades, Florida's Seminole Tribe has been fighting to reclaim their ancestors who were stolen from burial sites across the state during the height of colonialism in North America.
Now, thanks to a brand new policy at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, they'll have the chance to bring their ancestors back home.
The conflict stemmed from imprecise labeling and record keeping when the remains and artifacts were exhumed from burial grounds.
Throughout the 1900s, the Smithsonian obtained human remains and archaeological artifacts through donations and acquisitions _ including nearly 1,500 Seminole ancestors and tens of thousands of archaeological artifacts that had been exhumed from burial sites across the state, according to the tribe.
In some cases, archaeologists said they weren't sure which native tribe the remains belonged to. They labeled them "culturally unaffiliated.''
Those remains ended up on display at the Smithsonian but weren't tied to any specific tribe. And because legislation such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act didn't apply to the Smithsonian when it was passed in 1990, the museum didn't have to set up a framework for native tribes to reclaim their ancestors to bring them back to their rightful resting place, according to the Seminole Tribe.
Facing mounting pressure from many native tribes, including the Seminoles, the Smithsonian changed course and decided to allow the tribes to reclaim their ancestors, even if archaeologists hadn't said the remains came from a specific tribe.
The victory opens the door for native tribes to begin that process and remedies some of the damage inflicted upon Native American tribes by the legacy of colonialism, said Paul Backhouse, historic preservation officer for the Seminoles.
"It's hugely significant right now for Indian Country in general and for the Seminole tribe in Florida,'' he said. "It's a huge victory for indigenous rights.''
Other native tribes have also been fighting for the change, Backhouse said. The policy needed to be updated to give equal weight to tribal knowledge and oral histories that could identify their ancestors, even when archaeologists could not.
"That's a big issue for Native American tribes who always have known who they belong to, because they're their ancestors,'' Backhouse said. "Just because there wasn't an object buried with them that indicates they're Seminole doesn't mean they're not ancestors of Seminole and Miccosukee populations that still live in Florida.''
For years, Native American groups have been seen as the ``other,'' as objects of examination rather than characters in their own story, Backhouse said.
Many other tribes have fought for the same goal for years, but the Smithsonian turned them away, said Bill Billeck, the museum's head of repatriation. Now that the Seminole Tribe has won, the museum will inform the rejected tribes of the policy change, he said.
The new policy, officially adopted Oct. 5, affects Native American tribes, Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian organizations.
As for the archaeological artifacts, those could be anything native-made or even trade items from contact with Europeans, Billeck said. Backhouse said it's anything that the ancestors had with them when they died.
That could include pottery, jewelry, hand-carved bone tools, arrowheads, and wooden effigies.
The Smithsonian has returned about 6,200 ancestors and over 200,000 artifacts that they know belonged to certain tribes and were so deemed "culturally affiliated'' with that tribe. Now, when tribes request to reclaim their ancestors who have been labeled ``culturally unaffiliated,'' Billeck's staff will have to handle it on a case by case basis, he said.
Tina Osceola, a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and associate justice for the tribal court, said the victory had been a long time coming and was generations overdue.
"I hope that the nation and world will shift their beliefs that our culture and people are only valuable when owned, displayed or studied,'' she said.
The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Museum in Clewiston posted about the victory on Facebook, and shared a photo from when tribe members visited Washington, D.C., to push Congress to change the policy. They shared the social media hashtag related to their efforts: (hash)NoMoreStolenAncestors.
In the Seminole language, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki means a place to learn and a place to remember.
DOT Secretary Chao Announces New Self-Governance Program
Chao’s remarks can be viewed HERE.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (the Department) announced the creation of the Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Program (TTSGP). This new program will provide a flexible, effective framework for the Federal government and Indian Tribes (Tribes) to work collaboratively to improve transportation infrastructure delivery in Indian Country.
“The Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Program will strengthen transportation infrastructure and reduce administrative red tape for Tribes receiving funding from the Department, boosting prospects for economic growth and enhancing quality of life,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The TTSGP will streamline the Department’s distribution of transportation funding to participating Tribes to improve the quality of life in Indian Country.
The program recognizes the unique government-to-government relationship between the Tribes and the Federal government and will improve the way the Department does business with Tribes. Participating Tribes will attain greater autonomy in the management and delivery of transportation programs, including an enhanced ability to determine internal priorities, redesign programs, and reallocate resources to better meet their needs.
The TTSGP is the result of a successful multi-year negotiated rulemaking process among representatives of Tribes, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of the Interior. Head Councilman Joe Garcia of Ohkay Owingeh and former Chief Kay Rhoads of the Sac and Fox Nation served as Tribal co-chairs on the Department’s TTSGP negotiated rulemaking committee.
The final rule laying the foundation for the TTSGP was published in the Federal Register on June 1, 2020.
Indigenous Communities in Alaska Harder Hit by Coronavirus
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Alaska state health data indicate Pacific Islanders and Alaska Natives are more likely to contract the coronavirus and be hospitalized with the illness.
Beyond underlying medical conditions, culture and economics contribute to the disparity, Alaska Public Media reported Tuesday.
Data indicate Pacific Islanders in Alaska have contracted COVID-19 at about eight times the rate of the rest of the population and are more than four times as likely to be hospitalized with the virus.
Alaska Natives are more than one-and-a-half times as likely to contract the coronavirus and have been hospitalized almost twice as much.
Pacific Islanders, Alaska Natives and American Indians, who also have been more susceptible to the virus, are more likely to live in crowded, multi-generational housing where the virus can easily spread.
Dr. Bob Onders, medical director of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, said multi-generational housing can create a higher risk for these groups in urban and rural areas. Many homes in rural Alaska also lack adequate sanitation, another factor contributing to virus spread.
Lucy Hansen, president of the Polynesian Association of Alaska, said physical closeness is customary for the Pacific Island community.
``We're a culture that we love to hugs and we love to kiss. It's the way we show our love and affection,'' Hansen said.
Social gatherings have been a conduit for virus transmission and Hansen has asked community and church leaders to spread the message that meeting in person can be dangerous.
Hansen also has translated health information resources into Samoan and Tongan for community members who do not speak English as a first language.
``We just have to remind each other that it's very real,`` Hansen said. ``It's not something that you joke around with.''
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some _ especially older adults and people with existing health problems _ it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Thousands of Navajo Nation Homes Without Plumbing Amid Virus
By VIDA VOLKERT
CHURCH ROCK, N.M. (AP) _ Seventy- six-year-old Louise Johnson made a plea for help in her cellphone voicemail message.
``My name is Louise Johnson. I live in the Superman Canyon (area). I need food and woods.''
Earlier this year, when the pandemic hit the Navajo Nation, she found herself unable to leave her home to go to town for groceries and other essentials for fear of being exposed to COVID-19.
Since she recorded the message in late March or April, her family and friends have been delivering goods to her home, a one-bedroom hogan without a bathroom or running water located in a rural area northwest of Church Rock known as Superman Canyon because that's where scenes of the 1978 ``Superman'' movie were filmed.
``I heard it on the radio. They advised us to do that,'' Johnson said about the idea of recording a request for help on her voicemail. She has not deleted the message, despite her brother's request, because the number of Navajo elders dying from COVID-19 continues to increase, and she feels she is still at risk and does not know when the crisis is going to end.
Johnson's needs go beyond ``food and woods.''
At 76, she takes sponge baths and uses an outhouse for her necessities. Her biggest challenge is water. Even though her hogan was built approximately 50 feet away from a waterline, she has not been able to connect the structure to the line because she lacks a bathroom, one of the requirements for the Indian Health Service to connect the home to plumbing.
According to Church Rock Chapter records, Johnson applied for financial assistance through the chapter to build a bathroom in 2018. All 110 Navajo chapters have an annual budget to assist the community with home repairs and bathroom additions.
LaVera Morgan, the chapter's community service coordinator, said turnover in management over the years has delayed requests for various types of assistance.
Morgan said since Johnson's plight was featured in the news earlier this year, the chapter passed an emergency resolution to immediately grant Johnson's request and she was awarded about $3,000 to pay for lumber and other materials to build the bathroom addition. She also told the Gallup Independent that three volunteers, two of whom had construction experience, offered to assist in building the bathroom.
The project is still in the works. Johnson said she visited the chapter recently to find out what's going on and was told not to worry, that ``it's being taken care of,'' she said.
Morgan said she is working with the Navajo Engineering Construction Company on getting Johnson's bathroom and plumbing. She added Johnson is one of about 300 families in Church Rock in need of a bathroom.
``About 50-60% of our families need bathroom additions,'' Morgan said. ``The majority of the families need bathroom additions or new bathrooms because their systems are old and their septic tanks collapsed or their bathroom fixtures got depleted. Some of these homes or bathrooms were built back in the day, when bathroom construction was not efficient or they used to cut corners.''
The cost to build or replace a bathroom varies, but the chapter typically awards $3,000 per member in need of assistance for lumber and material. Funds, however, are limited and awarded based on priority and need.
Rex Kontz, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority deputy manager, told the Independent in May that about 15,000 homes on the Navajo Nation lack running water for different reasons that include the lack of a bathroom or plumbing.
``After unofficial inquiry I understand roughly 50 percent need plumbing,'' he said. ``But some also need an addition to create space for a bathroom or what is referred to as a bathroom addition. . Some homes may have been pre-plumbed when built and some may be mobile homes that came with plumbing.''
Jenny Notah, a spokeswoman for the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, said the agency can provide bathroom plumbing for homes when it is constructing water and sewer facilities at those homes. But the burden lies on others.
``Bathroom additions must be built by either the homeowner, the chapter, the Navajo Nation, or by others,'' she said in an email to the Independent on Tuesday. ``When IHS can fit bathroom plumbing, which usually includes a sink, a toilet, a shower-tub and a hot water heater, in a home without an addition, then we do. However, many older homes and hogans typically do not have room in the existing home for bathroom plumbing. When a bathroom addition is necessary, the IHS typically coordinates with the homeowner and chapter on the need for bathroom additions long before a water/sewer project begins in order to give the homeowners and chapters time to build the necessary bathroom additions.''
Notah couldn't say how many homes are on a list of funded projects. Hundreds of others are in need of bathroom additions, she said.
The agency has worked with the Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority to install approximately 88 homes with plumbing, including toilets, and showers or tubs so far this year, according to Notah.
Alaska Native Children's Television Show Wins Peabody Award
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ The first nationally distributed children's series to feature an Alaska Native as the lead character has been awarded a prestigious Peabody Award.
KTVA-TV reported Monday that PBS program ``Molly of Denali`` won the award in the children's and youth division.
The show focuses on the cartoon character Molly Mabray, an Alaska Native of Gwichin, Koyukon, Dena'ina, and Athabascan heritage.
The program, which first aired in the summer of 2019, depicts the 10-year-old helping her parents run the Denali Trading Post while promoting Alaska Native values and literacy.
There were 60 nominees chosen this year for the Peabody Awards from nearly 1,300 entries spanning radio and podcasts, digital platforms and television.
The shows covered a broad range of issues from the criminal justice system, to the (hash)MeToo movement and immigrant rights.
``Molly of Denali'' creator and executive producer Dorothea Gillim accepted the award on behalf of the show.
``Stories are so important,`` Gillim said. ``They help us make meaning of who we are, of our experiences.''
The stories children hear or watch ``informs their sense of self and their outlook on others,'' Gillim said.
Indigenous children need to see themselves depicted onscreen as heroes, while non-indigenous children should learn about cultures that have been stigmatized and marginalized over time, Gillim said.
The show's producers said 20% of Americans believe indigenous people no longer exist.
The Peabody Awards, founded and based at the University of Georgia, are decided by a jury that includes industry professionals, media scholars, critics and journalists.
NFL's Washington Redskins Will Change Name and Logo, Team Says
By Homero De la Fuente and Wayne Sterling, CNN
The National Football League's Washington franchise will change the Redskins name and logo, the team announced Monday.
The new name was not revealed.
The announcement comes just days after the team said that a "thorough review" of the name would be conducted. The name has long been denounced by Native American groups as an ethnic slur.
"That review has begun in earnest," the team's statement said. "As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward. Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review."
Rivera told The Washington Post in an interview he was working with Snyder on a name that would honor both the military and Native Americans.
Following weeks of protests denouncing racism and as the country continues to confront systems of oppression more directly in recent weeks, the Redskins are the first team to announce a name change.
Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians have also pledged to reexamine their name. The team's manager said he believes it's time to change the name and "it's time to move forward."
The decision to re-examine the Washington name also came amid mounting pressure from several corporate sponsors, including FedEx, who have the naming rights to the team's stadium.
Other brands, including Nike and Amazon, have removed the team's merchandise from their online stores.
CNN's Alisha Ebrahimji contributed to this report.
Redskins to Have 'Thorough Review' of Name Amid Race Debate
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Washington Redskins began a ``thorough review'' of their name Friday, a significant step toward moving on from what experts and advocates call a ``dictionary-defined racial slur.''
Even though owner Dan Snyder had shown no willingness to change the name since buying the team in 1999, the recent national conversation on race has renewed opposition to the name and prompted sponsors to speak up. With support from the NFL, it may finally lead to a new moniker for the long-struggling storied franchise with long-ago Super Bowl success.
``In the last few weeks, we have had ongoing discussions with Dan, and we are supportive of this important step,`` Commissioner Roger Goodell said.
In a statement, the team said recent events around the U.S. and feedback from the community prompted the formal review.
``This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,`` Snyder said.
Native American advocacy groups have tried for decades to force a change, and a peer-reviewed UC Berkeley study released earlier this year revealed 67% of those surveyed who strongly identify as Native agreed or strongly agreed the name was offensive. The death of George Floyd in Minnesota and other examples of police brutality against Black people in the U.S. sparked protests worldwide and changes to various brands considered racially insensitive.
Asked last month about the name, a spokesman said the team had no comment. But this week marked a possible sea change on the issue with investors writing to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors hoping they would influence change.
FedEx was the first to act publicly. The title sponsor of the team's stadium in Landover, Maryland, FedEx said Thursday, ``We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.'' FedEx paid $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to the stadium.
On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store. Nike said Friday it has shared its concerns with the NFL over the name and is ``pleased to see the team taking a first step towards change.''
PepsiCo, a sponsor since 2017, expressed a similar sentiment and said, ``We believe it is time for a change.'' Sponsor Bank of America said it has ``encouraged the team to change the name'' and welcomed the organization's review.
Coach Ron Rivera, who said in a recent radio interview now is not the time to discuss the name, called it ``an issue of personal importance.'' Rivera, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent and is the only Hispanic head coach currently in the NFL, added he'd work closely with Snyder during the process.
``There is no reason not to immediately announce that the team is changing the mascot, since any real review will lead to the inevitable conclusion that the deeply offensive and racist name of Washington's NFL team must go now,'' said Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, leader of the ``Change the Mascot'' campaign. ``Dan Snyder can stand on the right side of history and create a new, positive legacy for his team, or instead continue embracing a bigoted slur that denigrates Native Americans and people of color.''
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said recently the name was an ``obstacle'' to the team building a stadium in the District. The current lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and the old RFK Stadium site in Washington is one of several options for the team's new headquarters, along with locations in Maryland and Virginia.
The team in late June removed racist founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame. A monument of Marshall was also removed from the RFK Stadium site.
Marshall's granddaughter supported those moves and recently told The Associated Press she's fine with the team changing its name.
``I think if anybody's offended that they should change the name,'' Wright said. ``I've always felt that way.''
Maine Groups Get Help Assisting Marginalized During Pandemic
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ A Maine organization is distributing more than $200,000 in grants to benefit marginalized communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Maine Initiatives said the funding boosts bring the total amount it has provided to more than $500,000. The group has given the grants to more than 50 organizations.
Maine Initiatives said one of the grants is going to Cambodian Community Association of Maine, which is delivering food to immigrant families affected by a coronavirus outbreak at a food processing facility in the state. Another is designed to aid the Wabanaki Women's Coalition in its effort to support Native American women who are victims of domestic abuse.
Maine Initiatives said the organizations it is supporting ``understand what a moment of crisis requires and they are adapting and organizing to respond.''
First Nations Announces Covid-19 Funding Resources
First Nations Development Institute recognizes the devastating impact the pandemic is having on Native communities, and the hardships it is creating now and going forward. They hope you are staying healthy and safe with strength and resilience.
To support its grantee partners, they are sharing this Funding Resource Document of various external funding opportunities not associated with First Nations.
Please access the document, along with additional coronavirus resources, here.
First Nations continues to respond to the needs of Indian Country through its Emergency Response Fund as efforts shift from response to recovery during and after this crisis.
If you have any questions, or would like further information, please contact First Nations.
About First Nations Development Institute
For 38 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.firstnations.org.
South Dakota Plans Mass Testing in Elder Care Facilities
By STEPHEN GROVES
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ South Dakota health officials are planning to test everyone in nursing homes and assisted living facilities over the next month, Gov. Kristi Noem announced Thursday.
The Department of Health will be working with facilities that care for the elderly to test over 26,000 people in the coming weeks. Nursing homes have been most susceptible to deaths from COVID-19, with one Sioux Falls facility recording 20 deaths, according to the Argus Leader.
``It's a foundation for us and our response moving forward,'' said Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon.
The state has acquired more supplies needed for tests, allowing them to hold mass testing events. Health officials also plan to conduct random testing among vulnerable people to try to catch infections before they spread.
Malsam-Rysdon said the state is also planning to hold mass testing events in Native American tribal communities, starting with a mass testing event with the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate next week.
Noem has feuded with two tribes over coronavirus checkpoints they set up on federal and state highways last month to keep unnecessary visitors off the reservations. On Friday, she threatened to sue the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe if they did not remove highway stops within 48 hours.
The governor backed away from that plan this week, offering to negotiate on the issue if they would take them off of U.S. and state highways. Noem said both tribes responded to letters she sent, saying they would consider the plan. But they have not taken down the checkpoints.
Still, Noem said it was encouraging they didn't reject the plans outright. She said she hoped the conflict could be settled out of court.
``We are working through our process,'' Noem said. ``I'm hopeful that we can come to a resolution.''
But the Rosebud Sioux Tribe announced on Wednesday it will be setting up highway checkpoints to enforce a lock down on the reservation after 14 people tested positive for the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, health officials recorded four more COVID-19 deaths and 60 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday.
The new figures bring the state's death toll to 43 and its confirmed case count to 3,792. State officials said the count does not reflect the total number of infections because many people may not display symptoms or have not sought testing if their symptoms are mild.
All of the deaths reported Thursday were in Minnehaha County, the state's most populated area. About 80% of cases in the state have come from the county.
The economic fallout from the global pandemic has also continued to cause layoffs in the state, according to the Department of Labor and Regulation. State officials reported that 5,131 people made new claims for unemployment last week. A total of 23,791 people are receiving unemployment benefits, according to the latest available count.
``About eight weeks ago, it was like a light switch was flipped,'' said Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman. ``Claims instantly and to a degree never-before-seen began to hit our system.''
Washington Tribe Traces New Outbreak to Children Playing
SEATTLE (AP) _ A Washington state American Indian tribe has seen a spate of new coronavirus infections that health officials traced to children playing together.
Sixteen new cases were announced between Wednesday and Friday by the Lummi Nation health department _ the tribe's first new infections in weeks.
Tribal officials said it was apparent from the outbreak that families and children were not following orders to limit their interactions and practice social distancing.
The Lummi Indian Business Council extended its stay-at-home order through May 31 and added a curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. for residents of the reservation about 90 miles north of Seattle.
After several weeks without new cases, people had become complacent, said Dr. Dakotah Lane, the Lummi Nation's health director, told The Seattle Times. Lane said the outbreak was traced to some kids playing together, but it couldn't be determined where the initial infection came from.
``You feel things are going well, and then, boom, this happens,'' Lane said.
The Lummi were among the first to enact a strict stay-home order, on March 22, to slow the virus's spread. The tribe also took early steps to obtain testing supplies and educate its roughly 5,300 members about keeping apart.
Those Without Broadband Struggle in a Stuck-at-Home Nation
By TALI ARBEL and MICHAEL CASEY
NEW YORK (AP) - In Sandwich, New Hampshire, a town of 1,200 best known as a setting for the movie "On Golden Pond," broadband is scarce. Forget streaming Netflix, much less working or studying from home. Even the police department has trouble uploading its reports.
Julie Dolan, a 65-year-old retiree in Sandwich, has asthma. Her husband has high blood pressure. Dolan doubts her substandard home internet could manage a remote medical appointment, and these days no one wants to visit the doctor if they can help it. That leaves 19th-century technology -- her landline phone. "That is all I would have," she says.
As schools, workplaces and public services shut down in the age of coronavirus, online connections are keeping Americans in touch with vital institutions and each other. But that's not much of an option when fast internet service is hard to come by.
Although efforts to extend broadband service have made progress in recent years, tens of millions of people are still left out, largely because phone and cable companies hesitate to invest in far-flung rural areas. Government subsidies in the billions haven't fully fixed the problem.
Many more simply can't afford broadband. U.S. broadband costs more than in many comparable countries - an average of $58 a month compared to $46.55 across 29 nations, according to a 2018 Federal Communications Commission report.
Such disconnected people "already have to work harder to tread water," said Chris Mitchell, who advocates for community broadband service at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "I don't think people appreciated the magnitude of the problem."
Even in cities, the high cost of internet access means many go without. Low-cost local alternatives such as libraries and cafes have shut down.
In St. Louis, Stella Ashcraft, 63, lives from check to check and can't afford internet. Her senior center, where she plays bingo, does puzzles and gets lunch five days a week, is closed. So is her church and the library where she checks email. She's gotten texted photos of her newborn grandchild, but forget about a Zoom call to see the baby.
"I feel very withdrawn, isolated, alone," she said.
There are no definitive numbers on those without broadband. The FCC puts the number at 21 million, but its data is faulty and most likely undercounts the problem. An independent group called BroadbandNow pegs it at 42 million. The digital divide disproportionately affects rural areas, African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans on tribal lands.
Phone and cable companies have pledged not to cut people off if they can't pay bills and opened their Wi-Fi hotspots to the public. Some are expanding low-cost programs for poor people and lifting data caps so more people can get and stay connected.
Millions of Americans working from home are learning to use online video in place of face-to-face meetings, but that's not an option for those with only a trickle of data service.
Brie Morrissey, who owns a building outfitted with broadband in Dublin, New Hampshire, would prefer to maintain social distance by working from home. But she keeps heading into the office for the connection, and as a result, is constantly cleaning the place -- wiping down door knobs, the bathroom sinks and "every inch of the building," she says.
Morrissey avoids other tenants and won't rent space to anyone else. Most people recover from the virus, but the elderly and those with underlying conditions are more likely to get seriously ill or die.
"I have to tell people to stay home and that we can't accommodate them, which is a hard thing to do for a small business owner in a small town," she said. "You obviously want to help. But following guidelines means for the most part we can't."
Students, meanwhile, struggle with a "homework gap" when they can't get or submit assignments, much less watch online lectures or participate in discussions. Online schoolwork is now the norm, but the millions of students who don't have home internet or access to computers at home require creative solutions as schools shut down.
In rural western Alabama, less than 1% of Perry County's roughly 9,100 residents have high-quality internet at home, so online lessons are out. County teachers spent three days manually loading scanned images of math worksheets and other materials on to iPads and Chromebooks for the system's 1,100 students to take home while out of class, said Superintendent John Heard.
A New York City family shelter has no Wi-Fi and 175 school-age children, only 15 of whom have laptops. City schools are sending some kids tablets equipped with internet service. But Estrella Montanez, who runs the shelter, worries that kids will have trouble managing remote work.
"Many families are not so tech-savvy," she said.
Lawmakers want the federal government to send schools and libraries more money to lend out Wi-Fi hotspots to students. But the FCC says it's not authorized to do that under current law and is discussing a solution with Congress.
On Navajo Nation, the country's largest Native American reservation, it's common to see people sitting in their vehicles at night outside local government centers, fast-food restaurants and grocery stores to connect to Wi-Fi. Diné College is lending laptops to students and asking internet providers to improve service.
Digital-access advocates hope that this crisis propels the government to do more to get people connected. In some places, relief was expected later this year. But that's too late to help with the current crisis.
A cable company is supposed to start servicing Berkshires town Peru, Massachusetts, later this year. State Rep. Paul Mark has only satellite internet now, though, and that doesn't let him videoconference. Even Facebook video is a strain. And, like many others in his area, he also has unreliable mobile service at home. To help his constituents, he has to get in his car and drive around to get on calls and go on local TV and radio.
"It's a hassle," he said during a recent phone interview from his car as he drove to the Boston statehouse. Then the line went dead.
AP writers Jay Reeves contributed from Birmingham, Alabama; Anthony Izaguirre from Charleston, W.Va.; Michael Casey from Boston; Wilson Ring from Stowe, Vermont; and Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona contributed to this report.
Gathering of Nations, Other Events Canceled
Following the tempo of countless Native American planned events across the nation, the Gathering of Nations has postponed its annual Pow Wow, known to be one of the biggest events in New Mexico. Last year, the three-day event drew more than 80,000 people to Albuquerque and had a $24 million economic impact on the city. To read the official statement from Gathering of Nations, click here.
Native American Activists Launch Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign
By JAMES MacPHERSON
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ Native American activists in North Dakota are launching a voter awareness and turnout drive just weeks before the state's presidential preference caucuses.
It's an effort to build on work begun years ago when American Indians challenged the state's voter identification requirements as an unfair burden and an attempt to suppress the Native American vote, said Nicole Donaghy, executive director of North Dakota Native Vote.
The privately funded nonprofit will focus on the state's five American Indian reservations and some urban areas of North Dakota, and will consider issues that affect tribal communities, she said.
``Our heart is on the reservations,'' said Donaghy, who is from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border.
Advocacy groups credited an intense effort in 2018 to ensure a strong American Indian vote by offering free qualifying IDs and rides to the polls, though it wasn't enough to influence a key U.S. Senate race. Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who won her seat six years ago with the help of the Native American vote, was beaten by Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer.
Scott Davis, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission and a member of Republican Gov. Doug Burgum's staff, said the state helped by visiting tribal leaders and reservations to make people aware of voting requirements. North Dakota Democrats targeted American Indian communities in a get-out-the-vote campaign last year that included helping tribal members satisfy new proof-of-identity requirements needed to cast a ballot, including having a street address.
American Indians tend to vote for Democrats and it's common for the party to visit reservations to encourage tribal members to vote.
Changes to North Dakota's voter ID laws came just months after Heitkamp's win in 2012 by fewer than 3,000 votes with the help of Native Americans, who make up about 5% of North Dakota's population.
The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa sued the state in 2016 over the ID requirements that many tribal members believed were aimed at suppressing their vote. The Republican-controlled Legislature said that had nothing to do with the change.
North Dakota law has always required street address identification, but before 2013 voters who didn't have one could sign an affidavit attesting to their eligibility. Now they must show ID with their residential address. American Indians argue that such addresses are not always evident on reservations, that many tribal members don't know their address, don't have a provable one because they're homeless or stay with friends or relatives, or can't afford to get an updated ID with a street address.
A federal appeals court last year ruled that the voter identification requirements are constitutional, siding with state officials who argued that not requiring street addresses could lead to voter fraud and people voting in the wrong district.
Groups that monitored tribal voting sites estimate the number of voters who experienced identification problems last year totaled only in the dozens due to efforts to ensure a strong Native American turnout.
There are no high-stakes races in the offing yet this year but it is no less important to get out the Native American vote, said Wes Davis, a member of North Dakota Native Vote.
Davis said the goal is to inspire tribal members, from youth to elders, to vote, and to show them how and where.
``We want to make them visible when the whole system has made them invisible,'' said Davis, a member of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.
Biggest Solar Project in US Outside Vegas Nears End of Study
LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Federal authorities have opened a final protest period about a proposed solar power array and battery storage plant near Las Vegas that would be the largest in the U.S. and among the largest in the world.
The Bureau of Land Management said it will accept protests until Jan. 27 of issues raised during planning for the Gemini Solar Project off Interstate 15 near the Moapa River Indian Reservation and Nevada's scenic Valley of Fire State Park.
The project by Solar Partners XI LLC has drawn concerns from environmental groups including Basin and Range Watch about threats to rare desert plants and endangered species in the approximately 11-square-mile (28.5 square kilometer) site.
The developer says the site would produce up to 690 megawatts of electricity for sale in Nevada, Arizona and California, and would create 2,000 jobs during construction.
It would be more than twice as big as the nearby 250-megawatt Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project that was commissioned in March 2017 on a little more than 3.1 square miles (8 square kilometers) of tribal land.
A bureau environmental study, completed in June 2019, is posted online.
New Chief Justice, First Native American Member Sworn In
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ The Washington Supreme Court on Monday swore in a new chief justice as well as its first Native American justice ever.
The Spokesman-Review reports Justice Debra Stephens became the court's 57th chief justice. A former Appeals Court judge and adjunct professor of law at Gonzaga University, she called it ``the greatest privilege I can imagine.''
Raquel Montoya-Lewis, a former Whatcom County Superior Court judge who is a member of the Pueblo Iselta tribe of New Mexico, was sworn in at the same ceremony. Montoya-Lewis is the first Native American to serve on Washington's highest court, and only the second to serve on any state supreme court in the nation. Stephens called it a historic day.
Stephens was elected chief justice by other members of the court after former Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst announced she was resigning to concentrate on fighting cancer. Gov. Jay Inslee last month named Montoya-Lewis, a Whatcom County Superior Court judge, to fill the open seat on the court.
Inslee said Monday was a day when ``a daughter of Spokane ascends to chief justice,'' and the court gets Lewis-Montoya, a ``judicial superstar'' who is a good listener, decisive, caring and compassionate.
New Mexico GOP Courting Latinos, Native American Voters
By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ New Mexico Republicans will embark on an aggressive strategy to win over Hispanic and Native American voters in 2020 as the party experiences its most diverse primary races in recent history, state chairman Steve Pearce announced.
Pearce said the state party will appoint Hispanic and Native American outreach coordinators in all of the state's 33 counties. He is also urging all candidates to travel to Democratic strongholds instead of just focusing on the GOP's traditional base.
``I am excited about minority candidates saying more broadly for the first time, `I am Republican, and I'm going to run as a Republican,''' Pearce said. ``That is pretty powerful.''
Native Americans and Latinos are running in two GOP primaries for U.S. House seats and for the U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico.
Anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez, a Latina Republican and member of Navajo Nation, is seeking the GOP nomination for an open U.S. Senate spot. Among her opponents are Louie Sanchez, a Hispanic shooting range owner, and college professor Gavin Clarkson, a member of Choctaw Nation.
``This is something that is energizing to me because Republicans really have not done a good job at reaching into Hispanic communities,'' Pearce said.
The Democratic Party of New Mexico has faced criticism for not reaching out to Hispanic voters enough and for maintaining mostly white leadership. Latino Democrats in the state Senate created a Hispanic Caucus in 2017 after fellow Democrats elected an all-white leadership team.
In 2018, however, New Mexico elected an all Democratic, all minority U.S. House delegation for the first time.
Asked what the party would do to reach out to Hispanic and Native American voters, Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Marg Elliston said it would seek to attract as many voters as possible.
Elliston later told reporters the party was looking into hiring a Native American statewide outreach coordinator.
New Mexico has the largest percentage of Hispanic residents in the nation and a sizable Native American population.
President Donald Trump has said he intends to win New Mexico's five electoral votes and his campaign has set up offices in the state.
Pearce said a Trump rally in September drew a diverse crowd of supporters.
Elliston said Democrats intend to focus on Trump's past remarks about immigrants and other groups, which she said was based on ``hate.''
Trump has drawn criticism throughout his presidency for making racist comments about Latinos, Muslims and other people of color.
Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press' race and ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/russcontreras
Milwaukee Program Fosters Friendship Among Diverse Students
By ANDREA WAXMAN of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ When students graduate from the Indian Community School, located on a wooded campus in Franklin, they leave a close-knit environment, where Native cultures, languages and values are woven into their education. They spread out to high schools across the Milwaukee area, where they are thrown into contact with students from different cultural, racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Last year, through a program called Repairing Together, the classmates learned about the lives of Jewish, Latinx and African American students.
Jason Dropik, the head of the Indian Community School, believes the program will help his K-8 graduates make friends and more easily navigate the transition to high school and beyond.
Dropik said ``people can be placed in groups and pitted against each other, and there can be a sense that you have to isolate to really thrive.'' But getting people together to know and accept each other helps them to be more empathetic, more forgiving and more patient, he said.
Repairing Together was launched by founder Elsien Crawford at the beginning of the 2016 school year. Eighth graders from Milwaukee College Prep's 38th Street campus, where most students are African American, and seventh and eighth graders from the Milwaukee Jewish Day School were the first to participate. Repairing Together is now a program of the Milwaukee Jewish Day School.
The program brings students from different backgrounds and neighborhoods together to work on service-learning activities. The goal is to give them opportunities to share their own experiences and to provide a forum for understanding one another's world views.
The nonprofit news outlet Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.
Crawford, a native of the Netherlands, moved to Milwaukee after marrying a local man. She is multilingual and grew up valuing her experience with diverse friends she met at school and while traveling.
Starting with 80 eighth graders, she used professionally prepared evaluation tools to measure shifts in attitude and empathy and discovered the biggest impact showed up among the youngest students.
The following year, Bruce Guadalupe Community School, whose students are mostly Latinx, joined the program, and it expanded to more grades.
By the end of this school year, Crawford expects more than 1,500 will have participated.
Her goal is to start with K4 students at all four schools and take them through eighth grade so that they will have spent 10 years together by the time they enter high school.
``By then, people of other traditions, cultures and races won't hold any mystery or fear anymore,'' said Crawford, who's enlisted the help of service organizations.
Organizations that have participated include the Victory Garden Initiative, Serve 2 Unite, Urban Ecology Center and Arts (at) Large.
On a recent morning, Native American and Jewish eighth graders gathered at the Indian Community School. In small groups, they rotated between activities _ a food justice activity at the nearby Hunger Task Force Farm, an exercise on how different social rules in different cultures affect people's interactions and a third in which students used art to talk about the top issues on their minds.
Mark Denning, a lacrosse coach and professional educator, led the art project. Together students painted images that represented their concerns on an 8-foot fiberglass polar bear. Some of the images were joyful and others worrying, Denning said. They included allusions to bullying, the impact of cancer among family members and the importance students placed on love.
``We can get into some serious conversations by using art rather than sitting in a circle and saying `please share your deepest concern,''' Denning said.
In a game led by diversity educator Reggie Jackson, another group of eighth graders separated into the Rebas and the Amblers, two fictitious cultural groups with different social behaviors.
After briefly learning their group's social rules, they reassembled at a ``party'' and attempted to socialize. Rebas, who value being outgoing and friendly, showed it by shaking hands, standing very close and looking deeply into the eyes of whomever they were talking to. Amblers, on the other hand, believe that proper behavior includes being quiet and reserved.
The exercise concluded by asking participants to consider how their interactions made them feel, how diversity can create communication barriers and how they might overcome these barriers and communicate effectively.
Nicole Becker, a third-grade teacher at Milwaukee College Prep, whose class participated with students from the Milwaukee Jewish Day School and Bruce Guadalupe Community School last year, said the students were shy at first.
``They didn't know quite what to do, but through prompting and questions and different experiences, they were able to relate to each other.''
The nonprofit news outlet Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.
Montana Tribe's Long Recognition Struggle Clears Congress
By MATTHEW BROWN
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ U.S. lawmakers granted formal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and directed federal officials to acquire land on the tribe's behalf, following a decades-long struggle by its members scattered across the Northern Plains of the U.S. and Canada.
A provision to recognize the tribe and make it eligible for millions of dollars annually in federal assistance was included in a defense bill approved in the Senate on a vote of 86 to 8. The measure now goes to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.
Most of the tribe's more than 5,000 members are in Montana, descendants of Native Americans and early European settlers.
They have a headquarters in Great Falls, Montana but have been without a recognized homeland since the late 1800s, when the tribe's leader, Chief Little Shell, and his followers in North Dakota broke off treaty negotiations with the U.S. government. Tribe members later settled in Montana and southern Canada, but they struggled to stay united because they had no land to call their own.
Formal government recognition gives cultural validation to a tribe whose members have long lived on the fringes of society and were sometimes shunned by whites. More practically, it makes its members, many of them poor, eligible for government benefits ranging from education and health care to housing
``It's truly amazing. I'm almost speechless that this has finally come to fruition for us,`` Little Shell Chairman Gerald Gray said. ``Besides the dignity part and us fighting for this for over 150 years, it's going to provide access to services our people have never had access to but have always deserved.``
Providing services to the tribal members through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service would cost roughly $40 million over five years, or about $8 million a year, the Congressional Budget Office said in a March report. That figure was based on an enrollment of roughly 2,600 members, a number that Gray said was outdated and too low.
Tribal leaders first petitioned for recognition through the Interior Department in 1978. Members trace their other attempts back to the 1860s, when the Pembina Band of Chippewa signed a treaty with the U.S. government.
Recognition was granted by the state of Montana in 2000, but denied by the U.S. Interior Department in 2009.
Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, said he worked with Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines to convince Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get language recognizing the tribe into the defense bill.
``There were no deals cut here,'' Tester said moments after Tuesday's vote. ``This happened because Leader McConnell made it a priority.''
Daines said the Senate vote marked a ``historic day for the state of Montana`` and had been one of his main priorities.
Legislation recognizing the tribe was approved by the House last year but later blocked in the Senate.
Tester said a similar measure was the first piece of legislation he introduced after being first elected in 2006. Daines and Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, Montana's sole member of the House, also took up the Little Shell's cause after taking office.
The House passed the defense bill with the Little Shell provision included in a vote last week. It calls on the U.S. Department of the Interior to acquire 200 acres (80 hectares) for the Little Shell's members that could be used for a tribal government center, health clinic, housing or other purposes.
Gray said the tribe will work in coming months to identify the location of that land. The legislation says is must be within a four-county area of north-central Montana that includes Great Falls.
``It's going to take some time,`` Gray said. ``We want to build a nation and you've got to get it right.``
Sanders Announces $150B Plan to Expand Broadband Access
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is promising to invest $150 billion to bring high-speed internet to ``every household in America'' while breaking up and better regulating monopolies he says currently limit access to drive up their profits.
The Vermont senator unveiled a plan providing that funding in infrastructure grants and technical assistance to states and municipalities through Green New Deal climate-change fighting initiatives _ allowing them to build what he called ``publicly owned and democratically controlled, co-operative or open access broadband networks.''
Sanders also wants to set aside $7.5 billion to increase high-speed broadband in Native American communities nationwide and increase funding for the Federal Communications Commission's Office of Native Affairs and Policy.
Citing FCC data, Sanders said that in rural areas, about 30% of Americans lack access to broadband internet access.
The senator also says that, as president, he'd require all internet service providers to offer a ``Basic Internet Plan'' providing ``quality broadband speeds at an affordable price.'' He also vowed to break up internet service provider and cable monopolies, prohibit service advisers from providing content and wipe out ``anticompetitive'' mergers.
``It is outrageous that across the country millions of Americans and so many of our communities do not have access to affordable high-speed internet,`` Sanders said in a statement.
He isn't the only Democratic presidential hopeful promising to improve internet access in rural areas and other under-served communities. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to create a ``public option for broadband'' managed by a new Office of Broadband Access using an $85 billion federal grant. Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a plan to revitalize rural America that includes a $20 billion investment in rural broadband infrastructure.
Center Told to Stop Cultural Sage Burning at Rapid City Mall
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ A Rapid City mall has banned a Native American cultural practice following health complaints.
Rushmore Mall security recently gave the I Am Legacy youth outreach center a letter saying it could no longer burn sage because it was jeopardizing people's health.
The center's founder, Erik Bringswhite, calls the order ``a bit hurtful'' and says they didn't mean to harm anyone by burning about a nickel-sized amount of sage twice a day.
KOTA-TV reports the mall's general manager Sandy Brockhouse says the burning smell has sickened some people. Both parties verbally agreed to sage burning before the center moved in, but only when there is proper ventilation. And so far, that ventilation system has not been installed. Brockhouse says the center could burn it outside.
Information from: KOTA-TV, http://www.kotatv.com
Study: Native Hawaiians Have Fewer Healthy Years Than Others
HONOLULU (AP) _ A public health study says Native Hawaiians experience fewer years of good health compared with other ethnic groups in the state.
The study by University of Hawaii researchers published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health found Native Hawaiians have 14 less years of healthy life than other groups.
The study is based on a self-reported survey calculates the number of healthy years among the state's indigenous people and those with white, Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese heritages.
The study finds Native Hawaiians have 62.2 years of healthy life expectancy, compared with 75.9 years for Chinese, 74.8 for Japanese, 73.3 for Filipinos, and 72.1 years for white Hawaii residents.
The authors say the analysis provides a more complete estimate of population health than life expectancy studies.
Navajo Nation Woman to Seek GOP Nod for US House Seat
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ A northwestern New Mexico woman has announced she is running for an open U.S. House seat in New Mexico and wants to become the first Republican Native American female in Congress.
Karen Bedonie recently filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to seek the GOP nomination for open U.S. House seat in northern New Mexico.
The Navajo Nation businesswoman promises on her campaign website site to ``lift the government burdens off our shoulders." She also says a robust Second Amendment could address the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in the U.S.
Bedonie joins a crowded field of Republican and Democratic candidates running for the seat.
The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who is running for U.S. Senate.
First Nations Development Institute Seeks to Fill Three Positions
First Nations Development Institute (www.firstnations.org) is a Native-led nonprofit organization working to strengthen Native American economies to support healthy Native communities. For nearly 39 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of a wide range of assets they own – whether land, human potential, cultural heritage, natural resources, etc. – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities.
Lead Grants Officer
The Lead Grants Officer plays an essential role in all of First Nations’ grantmaking activities as well as assisting program officers with oversight of community grant partners. Primary responsibilities include overseeing the administration and implementation of First Nations’ grantmaking activities, managing First Nations’ grantmaking database, and working with program officers and others to ensure First Nations’ programs are following policies, procedures and best practices in all aspects of grantmaking.
The Senior Program Officer (SPO) is responsible for the strategic planning and management of multi-year, complex projects. The SPO will often direct the efforts of program officers and program associates to implement aspects of various projects. The SPO is also responsible for the management and supervision of direct reports (i.e., consultants, grantees and fellows) providing direction, setting goals, giving feedback and coaching, and ensuring professional development and training.
The SPO will work in close collaboration with other First Nations staff, including the leadership team, senior program officers, program officers and coordinators; the finance department to ensure accurate accounting for grant-related income and expenditures; and First Nations’ development and communications staff members. Overall, the SPO is responsible for ensuring timely, high-quality implementation of assigned programs, which meet budget parameters and evaluation expectations.
The Program Officer’s primary responsibility is to provide assistance and support to Senior Program Officers or Director of Programs in the administration and implementation of First Nations’ projects. In this capacity duties will include coordination of technical assistance and training, participation in onsite visits, grant management, monitoring consultant work that may include but not limited to developing consultant agreements, monitoring deliverables, and organizing files.
Program officer duties shall be performed in a timely manner, with documents, presentations and material developed in high quality in keeping with First Nations brand. Responsibilities also include organizing and maintaining program files; assist with grantee technical assistance needs and reporting, coordinate convenings, and work in close collaboration with First Nations’ Senior Program Officers and the finance department to ensure accurate accounting for grant related income and expenditures.
To learn more about these positions or to apply, please visit www.firstnations.org/our-values/jobs.
To apply, submit a cover letter, resume and three references via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note either "Lead Grants Officer" “Senior Program Officer” or "Program Officer" in the email.
Governor Appoints New Director of Nevada Indian Commission
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) _ A former public relations officer for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony has been named the new executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission.
Gov. Steve Sisolak announced the appointment this week of Stacey Montooth.
Montooth is a member of the Walker River Paiute Nation. She replaces longtime director Sherry Rupert, who resigned earlier this year to become director of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association.
Sisolak says Montooth has extensive experience in tribal relations in Nevada and a thorough understanding of the issues facing Nevada's 27 tribes. She starts her new job Sept. 1.
Wisconsin Native Americans Granted Funds For Green Projects
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Two Native American tribes in Wisconsin are receiving federal grants for renewable energy projects that tribe members say will help reduce costs and lead to energy independence.
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Odanah received a nearly $1 million grant, while the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Crandon got a grant for more than $1.5 million. The grants, announced last month, will be used to install solar panels at tribal buildings.
The Wisconsin tribes are among 12 nationwide that received a total of 14 grants from the federal Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs worth a total of $16 million, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
``These projects will unleash sovereign Native American and Alaska Native energy development however each tribe believes is best for their community,'' U.S. Undersecretary of Energy Mark Menezes said in a statement.
The Bad River Band will use the money, in addition to about $1 million in cost sharing, to install solar panels at the health and wellness center located in Ashland, the wastewater treatment plant in New Odanah and the Chief Blackbird Center in Odanah.
The federal Department of Energy said projections show the tribe will save about $841,000 in energy spending over the next 25 years.
Dylan Jennings is a tribal council member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a public information officer for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. He said going green is one way the tribe is preparing for the future, noting that the tribes aren't against oil or coal.
``We firmly realize that we need to be doing our part in adapting to better and more efficient ways of living that are healthy for the environment,'' Jennings said.
Daniel Wiggins Jr., an air quality technician with the Natural Resource Department for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said the tribe's plan is to reduce current energy costs by 10% by 2025 and generate 10% of the tribe's electricity with renewable technology by that year.
The Forest County Potawatomi Community's grant will be used to install solar panels at eight tribal facilities in Milwaukee, on the tribe's reservation lands in Crandon and on its community center. Annual savings at the community center are expected to be more than $100,000 over 30 years.
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org
Indian Community School Connects Students With Culture
By MARK DOREMUS of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Mark Powless strolled the grounds of the Indian Community School in Franklin as its end-of-the-year powwow unfolded.
Drums pounded and dancers swirled in the afternoon light as parents, students, teachers and community supporters joined the festivities in June.
Powless is a member of the Oneida Nation and the director of Our Ways, the school's cultural curriculum.
``Powwows have come about over the years as a way of gathering, to understand each other even though we come from hundreds of different Native nations,'' he said. ``It's a celebration of all that's been accomplished and a look forward to what is coming up in the future in a social atmosphere.''
The powwow tradition is just a small but important part of the cultural programming at the Indian Community School, where the Our Ways initiative supports the school curriculum by connecting students with traditional practices and ways of life. The school, founded in 1969, serves 372 students from the greater Milwaukee American Indian community.
The nonprofit news outlet Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.
Our Ways focuses on Native American language, cultural values, history and sovereignty.
The powwow is not a formal part of the curriculum, but it does incorporate some of the same values, Powless said.
At a powwow, ``you should see people being brave, trying out something new, getting out there in front of their peers,'' Powless said. ``Always working on being humble. Trying to take the teachings of our elders that have been passed down to us about specific kinds of dances or how to maintain ourselves, being wise about those things, living an authentic life in the honest way that the Creator intended us to be.''
Audra Williams has two children enrolled in the school. She was an early advocate of the Our Ways initiative, which took several years to develop starting in 2015.
``It's amazing that it's happening now,'' Williams said. ``For those kids that are coming in, they're lucky. They're going to get so much, and that's who we need to get to, those younger minds where it'll set in and become their way of life.''
The Our Ways curriculum emerged from more than 800 interviews with Native people, Powless said.
The school's goal is to prepare students with an ``understanding of living in two worlds,'' said Head of School Jason Dropik. ``For us, it's just acknowledging the fact that both parts make up who they are, our students are not just Native, they come from many different cultures, and being urban that's a culture in and of itself, so that is also part of who they are.''
Senate Seat Passes To Granddaughter Of Navajo Code Talker
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ The granddaughter of the late World War II Navajo code talker and state legislator John Pinto will serve out the remainder of his term in the state Senate through 2020, New Mexico's governor announced.
Navajo Nation member and educator Shannon Pinto was appointed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to represent a district that extends from the Four Corners to Gallup.
John Pinto died in May at the age of 94 after serving over four decades in the Legislature.
He voted this year in favor of a successful bill to expand background checks on gun sales and was a supporter of abortion rights.
In a news release, Shannon Pinto said she will fight as a senator for common sense gun violence prevention measures and be ``a champion for efforts that support women and their personal health care decisions.''
New Mexico's Democrat-controlled Senate this year voted down legislation that would rescind the state's criminal ban on most abortion procedures. The law could be enforced if the Supreme Court were to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision.
Shannon Pinto has worked as a middle and high school math teacher in the town of Tohatchi.
Feds Missed 2nd Deadline for Congress' Tribal Safety Bills
By MARY HUDETZ
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ U.S. officials tasked with carrying out federal public safety policy for tribes missed a deadline to provide input on legislation to curb violence against Native American women for a second straight month.
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, had set a July 8 deadline for Interior and Justice Department officials to offer positions and guidance on a slate of bills that aim to stem domestic violence, homicides and disappearances of Native Americans on tribal lands.
Hoeven, who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, had set the deadline for both departments after criticizing officials for filing late testimony and saying they arrived at a hearing in June unprepared to fully discuss the merits of legislation.
A week after the new deadline passed, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Udall said that Justice officials had yet to provide positions on the legislation, while the Interior only provided ``partial comment.'' Udall, D-New Mexico, is a co-chairman of the committee with Hoeven.
An Indian Affairs committee spokeswoman said in response to inquiries from The Associated Press that the Interior's guidance on bills had been sent after the July 8 deadline, though she did not say which day. She and Interior officials would not release the documents that had been sent to the committee.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Justice Department told the AP that the department is working as quickly as possible to provide positions on the bills, and had provided a status update to the committee chairman's office.
``I was deeply frustrated when DOI and DOJ showed up completely unprepared to our committee's hearing on these critical bills,'' Udall said in an emailed statement. ``Weeks later, the administration still has not delivered on its promised `renewed commitment' to tribal public safety, failing to meet this deadline even after being granted an extension.''
Lawmakers need feedback from the Trump administration in their effort to take legislative action to address public safety for Native Americans, Udall said.
In recent months, a wave of bipartisan legislation in Congress has sought to boost coordination for crime-fighting among federal agencies and expand tribes' ability to prosecute non-Native Americans in sex assault cases and crimes against law enforcement and children.
The bills come in response to a national movement to build awareness of the deaths and disappearances of Native American women, who are victimized at alarming rates.
The most recent federal figures show more than half have encountered sexual and domestic violence at some point during their lives, with advocates saying the population is left vulnerable in part because their safety has been disregarded or ignored over the years.
In May, Attorney General William Barr visited Alaska, where tribal representatives told him about the lack of law enforcement in villages and slow response times to calls.
At last month's committee hearing, Tracy Toulou, director of the Justice Department's Office of Tribal Justice, said that visit had led the department's leadership to express a renewed commitment to public safety among tribes and Alaska Native villages.
Toulou also apologized to senators for the late testimony, explaining that the bills are complex and require wide review within the Justice Department. The review and clearance process can be lengthy and span multiple agencies.
Charles Addington, the director of the Office of Justice Services, which falls under the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs also apologized for the late filing of testimony at the hearing. He said at the time that his comments had been held up during a clearance process.
The Senate's Indian Affairs committee has been seeking immediate comment from federal officials on five specific bills, including Savanna's Act.
It proposes to increase tribal law enforcement's access to criminal databases, increase data collection on cases for missing people and set new guidelines for law enforcement's response to reports of missing Native Americans.
Associated Press writer Rachel D'Oro in Anchorage, Alaska, contributed to this report.
Nebraska Schools Could See New Debate Over Indian Mascots
By GRANT SCHULTE
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska schools with Native American mascots could see a new debate over their team names and logos if some state officials have their way, but quick action on the issue seems unlikely.
Members of the Legislature's State-Tribal Relations Committee are looking into whether Nebraska should require schools to replace such mascots and may hold a hearing later this year. Some committee members said they don't see the need for statewide changes but would like school officials to discuss the issue.
Any proposed ban on Native American mascots would only apply to nontribal public schools, and the idea is certain to generate debate among the dozens that call themselves ``Braves,'' ``Warriors,'' ``Indians'' and ``Chiefs.'' The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs is looking into the issue, and the chairman of one of Nebraska's four recognized tribes said he'd support a state mandate.
``As much as people say it's meant as an honor, a lot of Native people see no honor in it,'' said Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. ``They're stereotypes. If you put other races of people into a mascot caricature, it wouldn't be acceptable.''
Several lawmakers on the State-Tribal Relations Committee said they would oppose any state mandate but want to encourage schools to talk about it. Sen. Anna Wishart, of Lincoln, said she'd support state assistance for schools that change their mascots to help cover the cost of new logos and letterhead.
``I think this is an issue best addressed in a grassroots way,'' Wishart said. ``I think it's important to make sure Nebraska is a welcoming place for everybody, especially in our schools.''
Sen. Robert Hilkemann, chairman of the State-Tribal Relations Committee, said he wouldn't mind a public debate but would rather leave the decision to individual schools, in part because the issue can divide people.
``If communities want to change their mascots, then that's fine. Let them do it,'' said Hilkemann, of Omaha. ``I don't want us a state to go in and start ordering schools to change the names.''
Matt Belka, a spokesman for the Nebraska Association of School Boards, also said name changes should be left to local districts.
Nebraska has more than 40 schools with Native American mascots. Although a few have retired them, none have done so recently. Omaha's Millard South High School switched from the Indians to the Patriots in 2000. In 1971, the University of Nebraska at Omaha changed its mascot from the Indians to the Mavericks.
In May, Maine became the first state to ban the use of Native American mascots in its public schools and colleges. The measure passed unanimously in the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills, but the debate was mostly moot because the last public school with a Native American mascot had already retired it a few months earlier.
Advocates who want to replace Nebraska's mascots say they perpetuate stereotypes about Native Americans and can hurt the self-esteem and academic performance of Native children.
``They weren't created to make Native Americans feel bad,'' said Jose Soto, a Lincoln activist and vice president for access, equity and diversity at Southeast Community College. ``I agree with that and would never argue that point. However, the important focus for me is the impact it has on those who are targeted. It's like, `You didn't mean to insult me, but you did.'''
Soto, who is Puerto Rican, said minorities who protest such depictions are often criticized for being too sensitive. Soto plans to present the issue to the Nebraska State Education Association, which represents public school teachers.
Left unchallenged, Soto said the stereotypes can lead to other actions, such as face-painting or wearing feathers and war whoops that Native Americans might view as mocking.
``It starts to feel very uncomfortable,'' he said.
But not all Native Americans agree.
Sen. Tom Brewer, of Gordon, the state's only Native American lawmaker, said none of Nebraska's school mascots offended him and he considered the issue a waste of time.
``When we go down rabbit holes on these little issues, we miss the opportunity to do things that could really help the Native population,'' said Brewer, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. ``A lot of the mascots in Nebraska represent a way of honoring the warrior spirit. If you're a school and you want a good mascot, you want to be the chiefs or the warriors. You don't want to be the fighting turtles.''
Follow Grant Schulte at https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte
FCC Proposal Could Boost Broadband Internet on Tribal Lands
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ The Federal Communications Commission has proposed giving rural Native American tribes a priority filing window for licenses that could expand internet access on their land.
The FCC has been working to revamp the way it issues licenses for the 2.5 GHz-band Educational Broadband Services spectrum.
It recently proposed eliminating the educational use requirement and letting tribes apply for licenses before they're auctioned.
The FCC will vote on the proposal July 10.
The spectrum largely is unassigned in the U.S. West and is seen as key to expanding 5G access.
The FCC says granting licenses to rural, federally recognized tribes would help establish or boost broadband coverage in underserved areas. Tribally owned entities, including tribal colleges and universities, also would be given priority for licenses.
The proposal won't affect existing license holders.
Echo Park Hasn't Changed Much Since Expedition 150 Years Ago
By ELEANOR C. HASENBECK
Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ In the time since the members of John Wesley Powell's 1869 expedition yelled at the canyon walls of Echo Park, an untold number of people have heard their own voices echo off Steamboat Rock eight, 10 or 12 times.
And before Powell got there, perhaps Native Americans and trappers lobbed their own voices at the cliffs to hear the phenomena.
On a map, the Yampa River twists downstream from its headwaters in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, cross-country through Routt and Moffat counties, until its flows mix with the Green River at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument.
Members of the 1869 Powell expedition were the first to make that map, and according to Powell's journal, they reached Echo Park on June 17, 1869 _ 150 years ago.
Powell and his men filled in one of the few remaining blank spots on the map of what is now the United States and, along the way, gave many landmarks their names, including Echo Park and the Gates of Lodore. At the time, the Colorado River was a line of best-guess drawn on maps of the West.
``They knew the Colorado River progressed down generally to Las Vegas, but the Grand Canyon north up to Moab _ most of that area was just blank on the map. They didn't have any real understanding of what was out there,'' said Ray Sumner, a Colorado River historian and anthropologist, who happens to be the great-great-grandson of Jack Sumner, the man who served as Powell's lead boatman on the 1869 expedition.
While maps were lost to whitewater on the 1869 expedition, Powell's later expeditions built upon what was learned in the first expedition to produce the first complete maps of the Colorado River.
After 150 years, Echo Park looks much the same as it did when Powell passed through. You can look out from a ledge above the confluence and watch the river wind around the ``foot of a rock about 700 feet high and a mile long,'' as Powell described the rock in his journal. And still, just as Powell wrote, ``willows border the river, clumps of box elder are seen and a few cottonwoods stand at the lower end.''
``These are words that were written 150 years ago, and we still have the ability to go back into very specific locations and see the direct inspiration for those words, and in many places, especially within Dinosaur National Monument, there are very little changes,'' said Sonya Popelka, a park ranger at Dinosaur.
``We can still experience the same experiences as well,'' she continued. ``Not just standing in the same place, but hearing the bird choruses. Seeing stars in the canyon. Hearing our words echo off those same rocks. Having that thrill and danger of rapids. That's something I think is really powerful. It's not just the words. It's the experiences of 150 years ago that have also been preserved here.''
For a thousand years, humans have passed through the cliffs of Echo Park, but that nearly wasn't the case.
Petroglyphs in the area point to the fact that humans were in Echo Park a thousand years ago. The first inhabitants were the Fremont people, who lived there 800 to 1,200 years ago. More recently, Ute and Shoshone tribes lived there. Many still live in the area today.
By the 1770s, Catholic priests passed through the area as they travelled to missions that had just been established in California. In the 1800s, the remote canyon lands attracted outlaws looking for places to lie low, while beavers and their pelts brought trappers and mountain men to the area. One group of them, trappers working for William Ashley's Rocky Mountain Fur Company, might've been the first Europeans to see Echo Park. Ranchers started trying to raise cattle on farms at the bottom of steep cliffs.
The National Monument was established in 1915, six years after fossil beds were discovered in what's now the western portion of the park, according to the National Parks Foundation. In 1938, the monument's boundaries expanded into the canyon lands it now occupies on the border of Colorado and Utah.
Echo Park also marked a turning point within the modern environmental movement.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation explored damming the Yampa and Green rivers just below Echo Park, which would've inundated the Yampa to its confluence with Little Snake River. Environmental groups fought the dam, arguing that placing a dam within the monument would violate the National Park Service Act of 1916.
The plan was abandoned in 1955, and the Bureau of Reclamation instead built a larger than originally planned reservoir on the Colorado River at Glen Canyon.
``Echo Park became that rallying cry for a lot of different conservation organizations that fought that proposal and got the dams removed out of the Colorado River Project, which protected that area in the way that we see it today,'' said Dan Johnson, chief of interpretation and visitor services at Dinosaur.
While it's easy to imagine Echo Park remaining the same for another 150 years, less water and changes to the habitat plants and animals use on the Yampa threatens that image.
Friends of the Yampa President Kent Vertrees explained that Echo Park serves as ``a living laboratory of modern river management,'' where the Green and Yampa meet. While there are reservoirs in the headwaters of the Yampa, the amount of water in the river still follows its natural ebbs and flows. Flows on much of the Green River are regulated by engineers releasing water out of Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
``Below this confluence and all the way down to Lake Powell, the Green River has this pulse of water at high water that is unmanaged and unregulated,'' Vertrees said. ``The Yampa is providing this level of wildness all the way down the Yampa itself and all the way down to Lake Powell.''
Johnson said this hybrid river, with its woody debris and sediment, ``restores the natural balance'' to the Green River below the confluence, which impacts everything from insects to endangered fish.
But those flows from the Yampa are seeing increased pressure, as more frequently, there just isn't as much water in the river. For a few days last year, the Yampa River dwindled down to a trickle in its sandy bed at Deerlodge Park.
Invasive species _ many of which take up more water than native plants _ are crowding riverbanks and spreading along the Yampa.
``We only manage this lower section of it,'' Johnson said. ``It's really going to take all of us who live along the entire river corridor and watershed working together if people feel this is something valuable to protect and preserve for the future.''
Information from: Steamboat Pilot & Today, http://steamboatpilot.com/
New Lakota-Translated Children's Book Honors History
By SHELLY CONLON
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ Garfield Elementary fifth-grader Jaeden Brugier has been learning to speak the Lakota language throughout the last year.
Yet for someone wanting to share the history and legends of his ancestors with his peers, he felt as though he's never had a true chance, he said.
The school library has less than five books translated in Lakota, and reading sessions often made him feel almost invisible, he said.
But a statewide effort by the South Dakota Humanities Council is about to change that by giving second graders copies of the 2019 Young Readers One Book "Tatanka and Other Legends of the Lakota People,'' the first book in the history of the Young Readers program translated in both Lakota and English, the Argus Leader reported.
The initiative comes after legislators passed a law in March to officially recognize O'ceti Sakowin, which is comprised of the dialects of Lakota, Dakota and Nakota, as the official indigenous language of South Dakota starting July 1. The law comes almost 30 years after South Dakota chose to honor its Native American heritage by forgoing Columbus Day and renaming the holiday Native Americans' Day.
The state is one of only a handful to change the holiday, and the language law also made it first state in the contiguous United States. The book depicts three legends authored and illustrated by Oglala Sioux Tribe member and Rapid City resident Donald F. Montileaux.
Students received the book this spring to read during the summer, a press release from the council states.
In the Sioux Falls School District, however, the books will go to third graders this fall through school libraries, so it's fresh in the students' minds when the author speaks at the South Dakota Festival of Books from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 in Deadwood, which hosted by the humanities council each year, said Ann Smith, the district's curriculum services program director.
Delaying the book's distribution also means getting it in the hands of more children, Garfield Elementary librarian Susan Thies said. She's been a librarian for two years and a classroom teacher for 19.
"We have such a transient population, they move (often) and have issues at home and food scarcity,'' Thies said. "So we always let the second graders know the (program) is coming up, that way in the fall this is ready to go for them.''
The book is a perfect way to give children insight into another language in a way that honors the Lakota history and connects with families who might not have a great relationship with public schools, including with those once prohibited and punished for speaking Lakota in schools years ago, Thies said.
Before this book, students who didn't feel connected to what they were reading often slumped in their chairs. Their faces drooped down or they wandered the library, not knowing what to pick out, she said. There was no emotion tied to the words they read, she said.
"This gives value to our history, to say, `I see you,''' Thies said. "When you walk into the libraries, you (often) see books about little white boys, little white girls and their dogs and cats. But do our African American students from Africa see themselves? Do our African American students from America see themselves? Our Lakota children will see themselves, they'll feel valued because the state has said this is important.''
Once she received one, Thies showed a copy of the new book to Bugier, who immediately spent time searching for the Lakota words he knew to match them with English words, she said. He immediately begged her to let him check the book out to bring it home to his family.
Unfortunately, the book wasn't ready to borrowed yet, Thies said. But that' didn't stop Bugier from being excited about the possibility, she said.
"Of course, we want children to be fluent in English, but at this age, (a book like this) opens the world,'' Thies said. "It's like a passport to different cultures and countries. And you get to know you're own country and culture better when you step out and learn about others.''
Bugier will be going to a new school next year, and though he isn't one of the third graders receiving the book, he knows the book will help bring awareness and understanding to part of his culture and current political issues in the state, he said.
And with a younger sister and cousin still on the campus, he also hopes his peers will use the books to continue a school club he started and wishes to carry it on to the middle school level, he said. Called the Circle of Courage Club, it's a club that allows anyone to teach anyone else about their culture and history, he said.
"I'm really hoping I see that book and other books that are Lakota and English, and if there is, I'll be really happy,'' Brugier said. "I'm hoping that when they learn everything, they'll be like me and try to research more and more about their Lakota history.''
For Thies, she hopes this will inspire more South Dakota authors to reach out to schools or to write and publish in indigenous languages now that the three languages are recognized, she said.
"When you read these books, the children sit up, and they sparkle,'' Thies said. "Our children who are sometimes so silent and never say anything, they can't stop praising their hand. And all of a sudden they're proud of their history. They're proud of the present.''
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com
Native Veterans Get Another Chance to Receive Land
By ALEX DeMARBAN
Anchorage Daily News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Nelson Angapak Sr. promised Sen. Ted Stevens to help Alaska Native veterans get another chance to apply for prized land allotments.
It took two decades, but the 74-year-old Yup'ik leader from Southwest Alaska has done it - with help from others, he points out.
Congress in March passed a major lands bill that opens the door for more Native veterans to apply for tracts of land of up to 160 acres. It follows a more limited application period in 1998, an opportunity that many veterans said wasn't enough.
The allotments were offered to Alaska Natives by the federal government beginning in 1906, after non-Native settlers and miners began arriving in the state and claiming Native lands.
The program's original restrictions prevented many from applying until the 1960s, as today's veterans were heading overseas during the Vietnam War era, said Kevin Illingworth, professor of tribal management at University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Nonprofit firms helped many Natives apply at the time. Applications surged. More than 13,000 allotments were awarded then, representing a tiny fraction of land in Alaska.
But the program ended in 1971, before many of the 3,000 or so Natives serving in the military returned to Alaska.
"The Native veterans never got that assistance, or they didn't know about this allotment push,'' Illingworth said.
Angapak planned to apply for the land-allotment program in his early 20s. But the U.S. Army drafted him in 1969, whisking him to Turkey to be a communications specialist for two years.
"As military personnel you get very engrossed and busy,'' he said recently. "I got drafted, and then I didn't even think about the allotments. The only contact we had back then with the village was mail, and we didn't apply.''
After he and others came home, they began advocating for a special application window for veterans.
But it wasn't until the mid-1990s that the issue got traction in Congress, after the Alaska Federation of Natives took up the issue, Angapak said. He'd risen through the ranks at the organization. He and fellow veterans began making regular pilgrimages to Washington, D.C., to testify on allotment bills submitted by the Alaska delegation.
"This has been very much a team effort, an AFN team effort,'' Angapak said.
It paid off in 1998, when Congress opened an 18-month application slot. It applied only to veterans in active duty between 1969 and 1971, a period of especially high service for Natives.
Angapak received his allotment after the 1998 law passed. It's near the village of Tuntutuliak where he was raised, not far from the land his father received around 1971. It connects him with generations to come.
"This is ours,'' he said.
Many Alaska Natives weren't so fortunate, like Bill Thomas, the former state lawmaker from Haines.
Thomas returned to Alaska from the war in 1968. A 21-year-old then, he thought only elders could apply.
"We came home and we self-medicated (with alcohol), we called it, for a while,'' said Thomas, 72 and also an advocate for the allotments. "We didn't think about filing for a Native allotment back then.''
About 250 veterans received allotments after the 1998 law passed, the Bureau of Land Management said.
The problems included the short application period and the need to prove occupancy of the land, Angapak said.
Realizing the provision's shortcomings, Angapak made his promise to Stevens, who later died in 2010.
"I told him as long as I have a little bit of breath, I'll keep working on it,'' Angapak said. "I told him we'll accept '69 to '71. And we'll keep working on '64 to '71.''
Angapak retired from AFN in 2013, a senior vice president. But with AFN's support, he joined other veterans in continuing to trek to D.C.
The efforts paid off in March, when the lands bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski passed. It included a version of a bill from Sullivan creating a new application round for those in the military from Aug. 5, 1964 - after President Lyndon B. Johnson sought congressional approval for direct involvement in Vietnam - to the end of 1971.
(Huge public lands bill signed into law will allow Alaska Native veterans to claim long-promised land, among other provisions)
Sullivan last month recognized Angapak's decades of "tireless'' advocacy, presenting him with a signed copy of the land legislation and a pen used by President Donald Trump to sign it.
"He's been one of our great Alaska Native leaders,'' Sullivan said.
The application period this time will be five years. The BLM must finalize the rules and begin accepting applications by September 2020.
Some federal lands will be off limits, including national forests and parks, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
But veterans won't need to prove occupancy of the land.
That will provide new opportunities for some, including Thomas. But there aren't expected to be many allotments available in Southeast, if any. The region is largely national forests.
Thomas will likely have to select a tract somewhere else in Alaska, he said. "A lot of people around here aren't happy about that,'' he said.
Conservation groups criticized this new round of allotments in a letter to Congress, saying it would privatize hundreds of thousands of acres for an issue that was addressed in 1998.
Angapak said he disagrees with the groups. But he supports their speaking out.
Freedom of speech is one of the liberties he and other veterans helped protect, he said.
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com
Vermont To Rename Columbus Day
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) _ Vermont has joined a handful of states in renaming Columbus Day to honor Native Americans.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill into law last week recognizing the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Half a dozen states, including Vermont, and several cities, have made the change.
The governors of Maine and New Mexico signed similar measures last month.
Native American tribes and others say celebrating Italian explorer Christopher Columbus ignores the effect that the European arrival in the Americas had on the native peoples, who suffered violence, disease, enslavement, racism and exploitation at the hands of the settlers.
Vermont's law states that ``Vermont was founded and built upon lands whose original inhabitants were Abenaki people and honors them and their ancestors.''
The act takes effect July 1.
Meet the T. Rex Cousin Who You Could Literally Look Down On
BY SETH BORENSTEIN
AP Science Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Scientists have identified an early cousin of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a pipsqueak that only reached the 3-foot height of a toddler.
The new dinosaur, found in New Mexico, is called Suskityrannus hazelae (SUE-ski-tie-ran-us HAY-zel-a), a name that uses a Native American word for coyote.
Sterling Nesbitt, a paleontologist at Virginia Tech, said this dinosaur lived about 92 million years ago _ millions of years before T. rex. It weighed up to 90 pounds, almost nothing compared to the nine-ton king of the dinosaurs.
Suskityrannus hazalae isn't the first or even smallest of the Tyrannosaurus family tree, but it provides the best example of how this family of modest-sized dinosaurs evolved into the towering horror of movies and nightmares.
The findings were announced Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
American Idol Contestant Hopeful of Future Career
By TOMEKA SINCLAIR, The Robesonian
PEMBROKE, N.C. (AP) _ Despite not making it to the live stage on the televised hit singing show ``American Idol,'' Lumbee Tribe member Alexis Jones is positive about the experience and the chance to show off her culture on a national stage.
``You can be from the swamps of Robeson County,'' Jones said. ``You can go outside of the Robeson County borders and do great things and still come home and represent your people.''
It's been a whirlwind of activity for the 23-year-old University of North Carolina at Wilmington student since she received her golden ticket to compete in Hollywood for a chance to make it as the reality show's top singing talents in the country. This was Jones' third season competing on the show, but her first time going to Hollywood.
She won the right after going through a series of auditions that led her to sing in front of celebrity judges Katie Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie in Idaho. She received three yes votes after singing ``Spotlight'' and ``All I Ask'' by Adele. The yes votes earned Jones a golden ticket to compete in the show's grueling weeding out process known as ``Hollywood Week,'' which aired March 24 and March 25 on ABC.
Jones didn't make the cut but was confident in her ability as an artist and excited about the doors that are now open.
``People were crying,'' Jones said about contestants who like her didn't survive the grueling week. ``I was like, `It's OK you guys. This is not the end of the road for me. It's just the beginning.'
``I was not upset because I knew no one in that building has what I had,'' she said. ``I knew I was the best and there was nothing that could make me think otherwise.''
One of the things that set her apart in the competition is her culture, Jones said. She was Miss Lumbee in 2015 so she has a strong cultural connection to the Lumbee tribe.
During her Idaho audition in front the celebrities, Jones had the chance to talk about heritage when Perry asked about the wampum squash blossom necklace she was wearing. The necklace is a traditional American Indian design centered by an upside down crescent and accented by large flowering silver beads or squash blossoms.
Jones said she was surprised Perry knew about the native jewelry, and was happy for the platform to teach all three judges about the Lumbee people.
``It gave me the opportunity to talk about my Native American culture,'' Jones said. ``I talked about the fact that it was made of wampum and not turquoise, and I showed off the East Coast factor of my native people. I took those three celebrities to school that day.''
Despite not making it further on the show, Jones has strong backup plans for her future.
She currently is in her final semester at UNCW and is studying Environmental Science and minoring in Geospatial Science. She is the only female intern on a Metcon site at the school and owns a makeup business. She will graduate in May and is balancing her final exam load with her newfound fame.
``Everything is getting really crazy right now but everything is going to be OK,'' Jones said. ``I'm not going to lie and say I have everything together, but I'm taking it one day at a time.''
She held an autograph-signing event in Lumberton on Friday. Jones said she hopes her success will encourage people with similar aspirations to chase their dreams.
``Whatever demographic you come from or whatever racial background you have, you can always incorporate that into whatever you want to do,'' Jones said.
Information from: The Robesonian, http://www.robesonian.com
EPA Seeks Bids to Clean Up Uranium Mines in Southwest
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) _ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking proposals from small business to clean up abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation and in northwestern New Mexico.
About 140 people attended a workshop held this week in Window Rock to learn more about the $220 million project.
The EPA expects to award multiple contracts to businesses with less than 750 employees.
The funding comes from a roughly $1 billion settlement with the successor of a company that mined the region. Companies extracted nearly 30 million tons of uranium for Cold War weaponry.
The EPA says it has funding to assess and clean up about 220 of the more than 520 abandoned mines.
Contract proposals are due May 28 for work on the reservation and around Grants, New Mexico.
Art Institute Delays Native American Exhibit Amid Concerns
CHICAGO (AP) _ The Art Institute of Chicago has indefinitely postponed a major pottery exhibit just weeks before it was due to open, citing concerns that the culture and voices of indigenous peoples aren't adequately represented.
Native American scholars against the scheduled opening said that much of the Mimbres pottery pledged to the Art Institute by one Chicago collector had come from ancestral gravesites.
``It's not art,'' said Patty Loew, director of Northwestern University's Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. ``If someone dug up your great-grandmother's grave and pulled out a wedding ring or something that had been buried with her, would you feel comfortable having that item on display?''
``Worlds Within: Mimbres Pottery of the Ancient Southwest'' was scheduled to begin May 26. The exhibit displays roughly 70 pieces of pottery from the Mimbres people. The pottery was created around A.D. 1100 in present-day southwestern New Mexico.
James Rondeau, the Art Institute's president and director, said that as the show's opening neared, it became obvious that more work needed to be done to include native voices in the project.
``The principal thing that we have not accomplished is to have an aligned indigenous perspective, scholarly and curatorial, with the project,'' he said. ``And I think that ultimately for us has been the crucial realization that our ability to reflect back what we were learning needed to be done in multiple voices, not just our voice.''
Kati Murphy, the museum's executive director of public affairs, said the delay came after officials conducted a Native American scholar's day meeting in December. The scholars gave the museum feedback about the need to collaborate with ``Native American nations who hold connections to the Mimbres people, including Pueblo leadership,'' Murphy said. The present-day Pueblos are the people believed to include descendants of the Mimbres.
The meeting was the first official discussion that included the scholars and ``was part of (the) larger process that led to our decision,'' she said.
Heather Miller, Chicago's American Indian Center executive, said she advised the museum that this issue touches a nerve and that the museum's decision to delay the opening is wonderful.
``Members of the (scholar's day group) were very adamant that this was not a good idea for them to move forward with,'' said Miller, one of the scholars. ``Now I feel great that our concerns and our issues were actually addressed by this institution.''
The postponement of the exhibit comes after the museum revamped displays of African Art in February.
This story has been corrected to show that a Chicago collector was not personally involved in the removal of artifacts from ancestral gravesites.
New Exhibit Features Recently Donated Inuit Art Collection
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ A new exhibition at the University of Michigan Museum of Art features a recently donated collection of Inuit art.
The museum in Ann Arbor is presenting ``Tillirnanngittuq'' (pronounced tid-ee-nang-ee-took), which showcases 58 works from the collection of Philip and Kathy Power that includes more than 200 stone sculptures and prints. The Powers gave the collection and $2 million to the museum last year.
The museum says the title of the exhibition translates from Inuktitut to ``unexpected.'' Most of the works on view are from the 1950s and 60s.
The term Inuit is used to characterize northern North America's native peoples.
UMMA Director Christina Olsen says in a statement that the exhibition marks ``an exciting new direction'' for the museum, which plans more Inuit art exhibitions, programs and research efforts.
Montana Tribes Renew Effort to Manage National Bison Range
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) _ The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have relaunched an effort to acquire a federal trust ownership agreement to manage National Bison Range in Montana.
The Flathead Beacon reports tribal leaders announced last week that they had notified the U.S. Department of the Interior and the state's congressional delegation of the plans to revisit a proposal to restore ownership of the 29-square-mile (76-square-kilometer) refuge.
The refuge operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is located completely within the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester says he is reviewing the proposal.
He says for the effort to be successful, it needs to guarantee public access and include local input as well as be supported by the entire congressional delegation.
Information from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com
State Bill Would Make November Alaska Native Heritage Month
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ November would be permanently declared Alaska Native Heritage Month under legislation previously in the state Senate.
The bill's sponsor, Anchorage Democratic Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, says introducing such bills is a way to show communities that lawmakers care. Gray-Jackson has also proposed permanently making February Black History Month in Alaska.
The Juneau Empire reports that former Gov. Bill Walker issued proclamations declaring November as Alaska Native Heritage Month, but those declarations weren't permanent.
Richard Peterson, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, says Walker's actions were appreciated. But Peterson says a permanent, more formal recognition would be meaningful.
Gray-Jackson says it's a priority for her to get monthly recognitions such as this secured in state law.
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com
Art Competition Brings in Diverse Collection of Artists
By KENTON BROOKS
MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ Lucille Brisson-Dickinson studies her work with a critical eye.
The 70-year-old Wagoner resident dabs a paintbrush into color and then applies it to the canvas. A fence takes shape to go along with hills, mountains and trees already on the painting. ``This fence didn't look good sitting by itself,'' she said. ``I wanted to extend it.''
Brisson-Dickinson was demonstrating her talent at the annual Veterans Affairs Art Competition, held at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center. She also entered the competition.
``I'm having a lot of fun,'' the 28-year veteran of the US Army Nursing Corps said to the Muskogee Phoenix. ``If I wasn't painting, I'd be working on crochet or knitting.''
The art competition began in 2008 and has been under the direction of Deborah Moreno, the medical center's recreation therapist and creative art coordinator, since then. Entrants can submit their work in categories that include art, creative writing, dance, drama and music.
Their work is based on the criteria of creativity/originality, skill and total presentation. Anonymous judges do the judging, and the entrant who receives the most points qualifies for the national competition in Battle Creek, Michigan, in October.
``I'm very passionate about this,'' Moreno said. ``This offers veterans ways of dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and pain. We offer the materials to get them started and see if there might be an interest.''
The art work isn't limited to painting. Crochet work was recently on display at the entry of the VA Center, but one veteran _ Jack Stafford _ proudly displayed his work in making red cedar boxes. The eight-year veteran of the Air Force and member of the Creek Nation Honor Guard made a box that held material and feathers used for a gourd dance.
``I use Eastern Red Cedar (from Tennessee) because moths and mites don't like it. It's a natural insecticide,'' the Muskogee resident said. ``There are no nails and screws used except for the hinges or the clasps.
He also takes special care with each box he makes and uses velvet for the bottom of the box. He oils the outside but not the inside.
``It's really kind of an honor to make them as they're used by Native Americans. I just love making them,'' Stafford said.
Information from: Muskogee Phoenix, http://www.muskogeephoenix.com
Alaska Native Weaving Project Honors Survivors of Violence
By BEN HOHENSTATT
Capital City Weekly
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ Lily Hope and her family are continuing her mother's work for an important cause.
The daughter of late acclaimed Chilkat and Ravenstail weaver Clarissa Rizal, Hope is an award-winning Tlingit weaver and weaving teacher who is now leading a new project called the Giving Strength Robe.
Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares to create one traditional indigenous robe, a blanket-like garment worn over the shoulders. Once completed, the robe will be given to Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE), Juneau's gender-inclusive shelter for survivors of gender-based violence.
``I think (my mother) would say, `Doesn't this speak to the generosity of spirit of the weaving community and the community as a whole?''' Hope said in a phone interview. ``We're all giving our time to make collaborative art with a purpose.''
The project is the first effort by Spirit Uprising, a new nonprofit pursuing 501(c)(3) status that Hope and her family started to perpetuate the ancient art of weaving.
Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving are complex art forms traditionally practiced by Northwest Coast Alaska Native peoples, and make use of hand-twined textiles.
Hope said she got the idea for this robe after she saw a Facebook post in a Ravenstail and Chilkat Weaving Facebook group about work dedicated to survivors of domestic violence. The purpose of the robe is to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence in Alaska, and hopefully inspire positive feelings in survivors.
``We're all touched by it,'' Hope said. ``It's in our villages and communities.''
She added, ``We want to be bringing healing to those who may put this (robe) on their shoulders.''
Hope enlisted the help of her sister Ursala Hudson and aunt Deanna Lampe to get the project going, and put the call out to artists. The response was great, she said. More than 60 weavers from all over Alaska (including artists in Juneau, Anchorage, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Klawock, Sitka, Yakutat, Kake) committed to participating. Responses came in from other states, provinces and territories, too. Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, New Mexico, British Columbia and Yukon will also be weaving squares.
Hope and her family sent out kits to the weavers that included materials, warp and west spun from merino wool. The effort was funded through contributions from weavers.
``Everybody donated or bought a kit for $50,'' Lampe said. ``We're hoping to crowdfund some kind of a booklet that could be published with every weaver's photograph and a short biography.''
So far about 16 squares have arrived in Juneau and several more are on their way to the capital city. All the squares will be in a teal, purple and white color palette.
``It's been cool to see them come in,'' Hope said.
Although this is the first project for their budding nonprofit Spirit Uprising, it's not the first time Hope and her family have done a collaborative weaving project. Hope's mother Rizal previously headed Weavers Across the Waters Community Robe project.
About 40 weavers contributed to that project, which was first used in a ceremony in August 2016 before Rizal's passing in December of that year. Hope led the completion of a bottom row and border for that robe, and it was finished in 2017.
Hope, Hudson and Lampe were all involved in that project that was
``I called my sister and said, `Isn't it about time we did another collaborative robe?'' Hope said, adding, ``We were all like, `I guess we're going to do this again.'''
She said her mother likely would have thought they were crazy for attempting such a stressful, involved undertaking again.
``I think that she would say, `Didn't you learn how much work that was last time? Ha ha ha,'' Hope said enunciating each laugh.
Weavers helping with the Giving Strength Robe were instructed by Hope to approach their work with thoughts of resilience, healing and compassion for survivors of domestic violence, rather than righteous anger directed at perpetrators of violence.
``It's important to come to weaving with grace, strength and positive thoughts,'' Hope said. ``When we are in a state of rage or coming at it with more anger than peace, we don't weave.''
Saralyn Tabachnick, Executive Director for AWARE, said she is moved by the project and its intentions.
``AWARE is deeply touched about this project, and honored to be the recipient of such generous, thoughtful and caring weavers,'' Tabachnick said. ``We are super grateful and fortunate to have Lily Hope in our community, building community and providing leadership. The depth and breadth of this project and the process is inspiring.''
Lampe said she didn't hesitate when her niece asked if she wanted to participate.
``It's for a good cause,'' Lampe said. ``We all know the stats of domestic violence. Plus, we all know somebody who knows somebody.''
An average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the U.S., according to statistics compiled by the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Nearly 30 percent of women and 10 percent of men have experienced one of those forms of domestic violence.
The robe is also meant to be a companion piece of sorts for Tlingit master carver Wayne Price's healing totem pole for AWARE, which is similarly intended to bring awareness to gender-based violence and healing to its survivors.
The pole is expected to be raised this spring, but the robe will be coming later this year.
``We wanted to have it done at the same time, but it's just not realistic,'' Hope said.
When the Giving Strength Robe is completed, Hope said there will be a reception and first dance for the garment, ``so it can come alive and have the spirit of dance put into it.''
Jicarilla Apache Nation President Resigns
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) _ The president of the Jicarilla Apache Nation has resigned.
The Farmington Daily Times report s the northwestern New Mexico tribe announced Levi Pesata resigned from office on Friday, citing personal reasons.
The tribe says Vice President Edward Velarde will serve as interim president until a new president takes office.
During a special meeting in Dulce on Friday, the Jicarilla Apache Nation Legislative Council passed a resolution to hold a special election within 60 days to fill the vacancy.
Council members also thanked Pesata for serving five terms in office and for his contributions to the tribe.
Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.daily-times.com
Taxidermists Busy Repairing Trophies Damaged by Alaska Quake
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Some Alaska taxidermists have been busy repairing animal mounts that were damaged in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck the state's south-central region.
Anchorage television station KTUU reports taxidermists also have repaired Alaska Native art and other artifacts that were damaged in the Nov. 30 quake.
Russell Knight, who owns Knight's Taxidermy in Anchorage, is among those being called to repair animal trophies.
He says his shop has taken in about 75 mounts. That includes 30 mounts that were brought in immediately after the quake.
Knight says damaged trophies included broken sheep necks and deer with horns knocked off.
He says the shop was able to repair all but two of the damaged mounts.
Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com
Oregon Governor: Feds Must Do More to Manage Fire-Prone Land
By ANDREW SELSKY
SALEM, Ore. (AP) _ The federal government needs to send more resources to do more forest thinning on public lands in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown said Thursday as she searches for ways to stem wildfires that are getting bigger and more dangerous.
One possible option Brown said she would consider is allowing some fires to burn, but keeping them away from populated areas, as well as prescribed burns and increased thinning.
``Fire is an instrumental part of maintaining a landscape, a healthy landscape,'' Brown told reporters in a conference call. But she is being cautious about the approach, citing a megafire in 2017 that wasn't immediately snuffed out and that threatened the town of Brookings on the southern Oregon coast.
``I still feel the pain of the Chetco Bar fire,'' she said, referring to the blaze that scorched 190,000 acres over several months.
Wildfire experts like John Bailey, an Oregon State University professor of silviculture and fire management, say fires make forests more fire-resilient and healthy. They advocate using prescribed burns more aggressively.
As part of her efforts, Brown announced Wednesday an executive order establishing the Oregon Wildfire Response Council, tasked with evaluating the current response system to large fires.
``We have to re-examine how we fight fire,'' Brown said Thursday, noting the current model has been used for a century. She said federal public lands have been mismanaged for many years.
Since the 1970s, there has been little timber harvesting on federal lands, with a resulting increase of 57 percent more standing timber in the United States than existed in 1953, according to a study by Donald Healy, a forestry expert from Lynnwood, Washington, who formerly worked for wood products company Boise Cascade. He said the situation has ``set the stage for disastrous forest fires.''
The council Brown established is to make recommendations in September on the future of Oregon's wildfire response infrastructure. She said Democrats and Republicans will be members as well as Native Americans, and that it will ramp up quickly.
If its recommendations require changes in state law, legislation could be prepared for the Legislature in time for its 2020 session, Brown said. Some recommendations could be handled by executive order, though determining funding could take a year or two.
Council chairman Matt Donegan should also make sure federal partners are fully engaged, Brown said.
The U.S. Forest Service doesn't currently dedicate enough resources to properly thin national forests, Brown complained in the conference call. U.S. Forest Service land comprises about 14 million acres in Oregon, or roughly one-quarter of the state.
Brown and the governors of California and Washington state wrote President Donald Trump on Jan. 8 about the issue.
``The federal government is a major landowner and a critical partner in preventing, fighting, and recovering from wildfires,'' Brown, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told Trump.
They asked the president to double the investment for managing federal forests in the three states, noting that the federal forest management budgets have remained flat in recent years.
Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., of Grants Pass, said he's encouraged by the governor's actions.
``This is a great first step, but we need to take a serious look at how we manage our forests, including creating a long term 100-year plan to prevent these massive fires from occurring in the first place,'' Baertschiger said.
Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky
Tribal Land Known for Waterfalls Won't Allow Tour Guides
By FELICIA FONSECA
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ The thousands of tourists who travel to a remote Native American reservation deep in the Grand Canyon each year to camp near a series of picturesque, blue-green waterfalls will have to do so without the benefit of professional guides.
The Havasupai Tribe has decided not to allow outfitters to escort visitors this year down the long, winding path that leads to its small, roadless reservation and on to its main tourist draw: towering waterfalls that cascade into swimming holes that are warm year-round.
Tourists can visit the waterfalls, either by reserving a room at the tribe's only lodge or by snapping up a coveted permit for one of its hundreds of camping spots scattered amid a creek. But starting in February, they'll have to find their own way to the reservation's waterfalls and caves, and carry their own food and gear.
Abbie Fink, a spokeswoman for the Havasupai Tribe, said the Tribal Council's decision isn't a reflection on the outfitters. Rather, she said the tribe wanted to manage all tourist traffic itself.
``It's not solving a problem. It's returning the enterprise to the control of the tribe,'' she told The Associated Press.
For years, the tribe has set aside spots for tour companies, which often bought permits in bulk. The outfitters paid a licensing fee of several thousand dollars, and some had elaborate setups with gourmet meals, inflatable couches and massage therapists. Most brought just the essentials.
Fink couldn't say exactly how much tour guides paid or how many licenses have been issued in the past. She said the Tribal Council would re-evaluate outfitter licenses for 2020.
The tribe relies heavily on tourism and estimates that between February and November, it gets 30,000 to 40,000 visitors per year to its reservation deep in a gorge west of Grand Canyon National Park that's accessible only by foot or helicopter, or by riding a horse or mule. The tribe does maintenance in the campground and on the trails in December and January.
The tribe doesn't allow day hikes, so visitors wanting to take in its waterfalls and other sights must reserve overnight trips in the campground or at the sole lodge.
Rooms in the lodge, which can be booked only by phone, are sold out for the rest of this year. Reservations for 2020 start June 1.
Permits for 2019 camping spots become available online Feb. 1 and are expected to sell out in minutes. People on social media have been strategizing for months about how to boost their chances, including by setting up an account early, recruiting friends and family to try to book a trip and repeatedly refreshing multiple internet browsers.
The permits are $100 per person per night Monday through Thursday, and $125 a night Friday through Sunday, slight increases over last year. The tribe grants about 300 camping permits a day, Fink has said.
Adam Henry, co-owner of Discovery Treks, books between 100 and 200 people on the Havasupai trip each year but has had to stick to offering trips in other spots of the Grand Canyon. He says that's not always welcome news for tourists intent on venturing to the waterfalls.
The hike takes tourists 8 miles (13 kilometers) down a winding trail through desert landscape before they reach the first waterfall. Then comes the village of Supai, where 600 tribal members live year-round. Another 2 miles (3 kilometers) down the trail is the campground with waterfalls on both ends.
``The blue-green water is what people want to see,'' Henry said. ``It's certainly a significant bummer for people who aren't going to be able to get out there on their own.''
Christine Miller, who works with the tour guide company Wildland Trekking, said tourists can find packing lists online and videos on Havasupai to help plan their trip. The advantage to having a tour guide is knowing how to reach the sights off the main trail, including other waterfalls, caves and swimming pools.
``There are not really any good maps out there to tell you when to cross, when not to cross'' the creek, she said.
The tribe temporarily suspended licenses for outfitters in 2016 in part to review the impact that supplies loaded onto pack animals had on the animals and the trail. Fink did not respond to questions about what came out of that review.
Pennington County Gets $300,000 Grant for Justice Overhaul Work
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ Pennington County has been given a $300,000 grant for a leadership circle to advise the county on criminal justice overhaul efforts.
The Rapid City Journal reports that Lis Hassett, coordinator for the county's overhaul efforts, says the funding will be used to compensate a very ``diverse, well-rounded, supported group of individuals.'' The grant is from the MacArthur Foundation.
The goal is to tackle the issues of overburdened leaders and the lack of Native Americans and other minorities in decision-making roles. The new funding comes after the county received $1.75 million in 2017 to start programs to cut the jail population.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com
Davenport Museum Adds 'Really Cool' Works to Collection
By ALMA GAUL
DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) _ Looking at the photo, one can hardly believe it's real. An abandoned farmhouse rises from the middle of a rutted expanse of land in which absolutely nothing is growing.
There's only the house and the land, both barren.
Titled ``Abandoned Farm, Tractored Out,'' the photo of a Texas farm in 1938 is one of hundreds taken by Dorthea Lange (1895-1965) when she worked for the Farm Security Administration. She captured landscapes and faces directly affected by the Dust Bowl and the economic Depression.
This photo is one of 63 works acquired by Figge Art Museum in 2018 as the Davenport cultural institution continues to build its collection in key and affordable areas.
The number isn't as big as in 2017 when 182 works were acquired, but there is ``really cool, important stuff, nonetheless,'' said Andrew Wallace, director of collections and exhibitions.
Key collecting areas include works by women _ because they are underrepresented _ as well as pieces by Midwesterners, photography in general and contemporary and Regionalist art, Wallace told the Quad-City Times .
The museum also added four hugely colorful Haitian paintings to complement the collection started by gifts from the late Dr. Walter Neiswanger and its first piece of street art.
About 40 works were donated and the remainder were purchased, Wallace said. Money for purchases comes from an acquisitions-only endowment fund set up nearly 90 years ago by the former Friends of Art.
Two of the new works are in display now, a 1936 photo of the Brooklyn Bridge and an oil painting, both by women.
The photo by German-born Ilse Bing (1899-1998) is in the gallery that contains Regionalist works of the 1930s. Her urban scene is considered a good counterpoint to the more agrarian-themed works by Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry, Wallace explained.
While Wood was revolting against the city, ``the reality was that artists were flocking to New York because that's where you went to work and study,'' he said. It was a place of new ideas.
The painting titled ``High Wind, High Tide'' is in the space off the second-floor elevator. The oil by American Jane Wilson (1924-2015) consists of different shades of green with white highlights and is painted in such a way that it is difficult to tell where the sky ends and the water begins.
In addition to being a woman, Wilson gets bonus points for being born in Iowa.
Other highlights in the 2018 acquisitions:
_ A color photo called ``Main Street Laundromat'' taken in 2012 by Kathya Maria Landeros (1977 -). It is one in a series exploring Mexican-American identity and the immigrant experience. The laundromat is in the state of Washington where migrant workers come to pick apples and pears, Wallace said.
_ A 1936 picture of sand dunes by American photographer Edward Weston (1886-1958), whose works are known for their contrasts in texture and light. His work is found in most major American museums.
_ A picture of Half Dome in California's Yosemite Valley, taken by William E. Dassonville (1879-1957) in 1906, more than a decade before the more famous Ansel Adams began his work.
_ ``Wooden Indian,'' a painting by Native American artist Fritz Scholder (1937-2005) who broke new ground in the way Native Americans are portrayed in fine art. His goal was to ``paint the Indian real, not red.''
Scholder ``is extremely well-known in collections all over the world,'' Wallace said. ``He is an important American painter, important abstract painter, important figurative painter. We're happy to have this hugely important work by him.''
_ ``XOXOXO'' by Puerto Rican-American artist Dan Monteavaro (1975- ), aka Moncho 1929, is the Figge's first example of street art-inspired work.
Large red X's and O's are painted against a background that looks like a blown-up comic book page.
_ ``Great Wall of Poverty'' is a large work by African-American artist Michelangelo Lovelace (1960- ) who is being collected by museums throughout the country, Wallace said.
The painting shows a street scene with a large wall dividing the ``haves,'' represented by skyscrapers, from the ``have nots,'' represented by about 75 people engaged in drug dealing, pick pocketing and soliciting for prostitution.
A child carries a sign that asks ``Where's Daddy?'' and a billboard advises to ``Play the lottery, it's your only hope.''
The artist ``intentionally made his work look child-like, but his themes are weighty,'' Wallace said. ``We like it because you can show it to kids and you can talk about these things, but it's not so graphic as to be disturbing.''
Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com
Granddaughter Works to Save Barry Goldwater Photo Collection
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — In Alison Goldwater Ross’ earliest memories of her grandfather Barry Goldwater, there’s always a 35mm camera hanging from his neck.
The senator photographed more than 15,000 images of Arizona’s landscapes and Native Americans over his lifetime. Twenty years after Goldwater’s death, Ross wants to preserve the Republican icon’s photographs, with some newly digitized images showcased this month in Arizona Highways magazine and next month at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.
The project was launched after Ross discussed her grandfather’s work with her uncle Michael Goldwater, the family historian since the senator died in 1998 at the age of 89. Now 55 and living in Atlanta, Ross said she adored accompanying her “bigger than life” grandfather on the Arizona campaign trail and meeting celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor. Like his other grandchildren, she called him by the nickname “Paka.”
“I practically had an anxiety attack just thinking about what was happening to the images. They had been sitting around for so long,” said Ross, the daughter of Joanne, the oldest of the four Goldwater children.
After consulting with family members, Ross in January formed the Barry & Peggy Goldwater Foundation, which holds the rights to the photographs. The project came together with funding from the Salt River Project, a water and power provider that supports local arts and culture.
All photographic film deteriorates as it’s exposed to moisture and heat, and Michael Goldwater said preserving the images had long been a concern.
“She’s really doing a great job getting interest in the project,” he said of his niece. “We totally support her. My father wanted his work saved for future historians and researchers.”
His father Barry was born in 1909 in Arizona Territory three years before statehood and took his first pictures as a boy with his mother’s Brownie, a popular box camera that introduced photography to the masses.
After his wife, Peggy, gave him a camera on their first Christmas together, Goldwater documented the diversity of Arizona’s tribes and landscapes, mostly in black and white with view cameras like the Graflex and Rolleiflex. Those images included the dramatic cliffs and sculpted mesas of places like the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, the deeply lined face of an elderly Navajo man, and two young Navajo girls tending their sheep in the snow.
Goldwater made color photos of his family with the 35mm and had a movie camera as well.
“You can go anyplace in that state,” Goldwater said in a 1985 interview about the best location in Arizona to take pictures. “Anyplace. From the Mexican border clear up to the Utah border, it’s all photogenic. In the south you have the desert. You have the biggest stand of pine trees in the world in the central part. ... You can literally spend your life out there and never quite get it all.”
Goldwater’s work earned him a lifetime membership in the Royal Photographic Society and the praise of noted landscape photographer Ansel Adams, who described the senator as a “fine and eager” amateur photographer who was as accomplished as any professional.
Another granddaughter, Anna Goldwater Alexander, the daughter of Michael and director of photography at Wired magazine, called the senator a “statesman who recorded Arizona history through the lens of a camera” in Arizona Highways’ December issue.
“When I go back through his archive today, I can’t help wondering whether he realized his beautiful photographs not only documented history, but also revealed the sensitive side of his dynamic personality,” Alexander wrote.
As a politician, Goldwater wrote the best-selling “Conscience of a Conservative” and in 1964 famously declared that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” when accepting the Republican nomination. The man known as “Mr. Conservative” lost the presidential race in a landslide to Democratic incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson.
Goldwater served five terms as a senator, from 1953 to 1965 and 1969 to 1987, and was succeeded by John McCain. The former Air Force pilot who served in WWII was also known as the elder party statesman who persuaded Richard Nixon to resign in 1974 when it became clear the president would not survive the Watergate investigation.
Arizona Highways regularly showcased Goldwater’s photographs over the decades, and this month’s special collector’s issue with 46 of his photographs quickly sold out.
“I never had the privilege of meeting the gentleman, but I feel like I know him,” said Arizona Highways Editor Robert Stieve. “He has been a big part of our history since 1938.”
Most of the photos showcased in the special edition also go on display Jan. 6 through June 23 at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West as Photographs by Barry M. Goldwater: The Arizona Highways Collection.
Although many images remain with the family, big parts of the collection are also housed in three institutions: the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the Hayden Library at Arizona State University in Tempe and the Heard Museum in Phoenix. Ross said the family commissioned the first bit of digitization, but the photography center next year will also start digitizing the hundreds of large format images there, with repair of each negative taking from two to eight hours.
Goldwater also was an avid collector of kachina dolls, wood carvings of Hopi spirits. He donated 400 of them to the Heard Museum in 1969.
Tricia Loscher, the western museum’s assistant director and chief curator of the Goldwater exhibit, said that as a Heard intern in the 1990s she was tasked with cataloging his kachina dolls. With the photo show, “I feel like I’m coming full circle,” she said.
Like Goldwater, Loscher is a lifelong Arizona resident, and she said she appreciated his photographs of the Southwest, images she said “could never be replicated in the Midwest, Northwest or any other place in the world.”
The photographs, she said, “reflect his own brand of sensitivity and clarity, which came from being a native of Arizona, the time in which he lived and the love and respect he had for life.”
Follow Anita Snow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/asnowreports
Woman Admits Embezzling from Blackfeet Head Start
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) _ A Montana woman has admitted her role in a scheme in which employees at the Blackfeet Tribe's Head Start program falsely claimed a combined 7,800 hours in overtime pay.
The admission by 60-year-old Denise Sharp of Browning in federal court in Great Falls comes after four other defendants previously pleaded guilty in the scheme involving $232,000 in unearned pay.
A sixth defendant died while her case was pending.
Sharp's guilty plea must be accepted by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris. Sentencing was set for March 20. She faces potential prison time and $38,711 in restitution.
Two defendants already sentenced in the case each received two years of probation and were ordered to pay restitution.
Prosecutors said the tribe repaid the federal government over $250,000 for disallowed overtime and other costs.
Oglala Sioux Tribe's New Police Chief Revamps Department
PINE RIDGE, S.D. (AP) _ The Oglala Sioux Tribe's new police chief has revamped the department six months into the position, bringing new ideas and programming to the law enforcement agency that was lacking leadership and manpower.
The tribe's police chief Robert Ecoffey tells the Rapid City Journal that the biggest impact the last six months has been the number of officers the department has spread throughout Pine Ridge Reservation. He says the Oglala Sioux Tribe's police department now has 54 police officers, compared to 24 officers in April.
Ecoffey says he's assigned three full-time officers to work on enforcing the tribe's drug and alcohol laws on the reservation.
Many people thought illegal alcohol sales would decrease after the border town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, shuttered its beer stores, but Ecoffey says he's seen more bootlegging.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com
400 Years Later, Natives Who Helped Pilgrims Gain a Voice
By WILLIAM J. KOLE
PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) _ The seaside town where the Pilgrims came ashore in 1620 is gearing up for a 400th birthday bash, and everyone's invited _ especially the native people whose ancestors wound up losing their land and their lives.
Plymouth, Massachusetts, whose European settlers have come to symbolize American liberty and grit, marks its quadricentennial in 2020 with a trans-Atlantic commemoration that will put Native Americans' unvarnished side of the story on full display.
``It's history. It happened,'' said Michele Pecoraro, executive director of Plymouth 400, Inc., a nonprofit group organizing yearlong events. ``We're not going to solve every problem and make everyone feel better. We just need to move the needle.''
Organizers are understandably cautious this time around. When the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing was observed in 1970, state officials disinvited a leader of the Wampanoag Nation _ the Native American tribe that helped the haggard newcomers survive their first bitter winter _ after learning his speech would bemoan the disease, racism and oppression that followed the Pilgrims.
That triggered angry demonstrations from tribal members who staged a National Day of Mourning, a somber remembrance that indigenous New Englanders have observed on every Thanksgiving Day since.
This time, there's pressure to get it right, said Jim Peters, a Wampanoag who directs the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs.
``We'll be able to tell some stories of what happened to us _ to delve back into our history and talk about it,'' Peters said. ``Hopefully it will give us a chance to re-educate people and have a national discussion about how we should be treating each other.''
The commemoration known as Plymouth 400 will feature events throughout 2020, including a maritime salute in Plymouth Harbor in June, an embarkation festival in September, and a week of ceremonies around Thanksgiving.
The Mayflower II , a replica of the ship that carried the settlers from Europe to the New World four centuries ago, will sail to Boston in the spring. That autumn, it will head to Provincetown, at the outermost tip of Cape Cod, where the Pilgrims initially landed before continuing on to Plymouth.
Events also are planned in Britain and in the Netherlands, where the Pilgrims spent 11 years in exile before making their perilous sea crossing.
But the emphasis is on highlighting the often-ignored history of the Wampanoag and poking holes in the false narrative that Pilgrims and Indians coexisted in peace and harmony.
An interactive exhibit now making the rounds describes how the Wampanoag were cheated and enslaved, and in August 2020 tribal members will guide visitors on a walk through Plymouth to point out and consecrate spots where their ancestors once trod.
There are also plans to invite relatives of the late Wampanoag elder Wamsutta ``Frank'' James to publicly read that speech he wasn't allowed to deliver in 1970 _ an address that includes this passage: ``We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end.''
``The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans,'' the speech reads.
Dusty Rhodes, who chairs a separate state commission working to ensure the commemoration has a global profile, said she hopes it all helps make amends for centuries of ``mishandled and misrepresented'' history.
``The Pilgrims were the first immigrants,'' said Plymouth 400's Pecoraro. ``We're in a place in this country where we need solidarity. We need to come together. We need to be talking about immigration and indigenous people.''
Plymouth, nicknamed ``America's Hometown,'' is sure to draw a crush of 2020 presidential candidates who will use its monuments as campaign backdrops. With President Donald Trump, Queen Elizabeth II and other heads of state on the invitation list, state and federal authorities already are busy mapping out security plans.
Wampanoag tribal leader and activist Linda Coombs, who's helped plan the commemoration, is skeptical that anything meaningful will change for her people.
``It's a world stage, so we'll have more visibility than we've had in the past,'' she said. ``We'll see if it's enough. It'll be a measuring stick for all that has to come afterward.''
Follow Bill Kole on Twitter at https://twitter.com/billkole
9/11 Museum Honors Mohawk Ironworkers with Exhibit
Skywalkers: A Portrait of Mohawk Ironworkers at the World Trade Center opened on Friday, November 16.
Generally unknown to the public, Mohawk ironworkers helped shape the New York City skyline, including the twin towers and the newly rebuilt World Trade Center. Because of their connection to the towers, some of these ironworkers volunteered in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks.
The exhibition revolves around Melissa Cacciola’s tintype portraits of Mohawk ironworkers, exploring the connection between these ironworkers and the World Trade Center site. It will help illuminate the immense contribution generations of these men have made to the city, especially in its darkest moment.
To accompany the portrait photography, the Museum team is also recording an audio guide in the Kahnawake and Akwesasne dialects of the Mohawk language. “We are very proud of this particular initiative to really engage the diverse, multi-faceted community of those impacted by the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” stated a Museum spokesperson.
To preview the exhibit, visit Melissa Cacciola’s website.
To attend a special informational event on December 16th with the artist, Kahanwake Council Chief Lindsay LeBorgne and Local 40 Business Manager Robert Walsh, visit 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
OSU Hopes to Attract Native American Students to Sciences
By K.S. MCNUTT
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A group of Native American high school students handled human bones and organs during a recent field trip designed to spark their interest in science and medicine.
Taking the students on a tour of the 206 bones in the body was Brandon Postoak, a first-year medical student at Oklahoma State University's Center for Health Sciences.
Postoak is Chickasaw and Choctaw, which makes him an important role model, said Kent Smith, a paleontologist and anatomy professor.
The lack of Native mentors is the greatest barrier to recruiting Native American students to careers in science and medicine, said Smith, who is Comanche and Chickasaw.
``We're the overlooked minority, but the largest one in Oklahoma at 12 percent,'' he told The Oklahoman .
Smith _ associate dean in the Office for the Advancement of American Indians in Medicine and Science at OSU's Center for Health Sciences _ heads the Native Explorers program to introduce Native students to science.
Recently, about 40 high school students attending the national conference of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society at the Cox Convention Center took a field trip to OSU-OKC to hear Smith and others talk about careers in medicine.
Of the 30,000 students who graduated from medical school last spring, only about 100 were Native Americans, Smith told the students.
``There are just not many applying,'' he said.
OSU-OKC President Brad Williams, a member of the Choctaw Nation, said he invited the students to campus to promote health careers.
Williams asked them to think about ``your talents and skills, and how can you use the gifts you have for the greater good.''
Celine Cortes, an OSU graduate student in biomedical sciences, showed the students normal and diseased human organs.
``It looks like a pork chop,'' one student said when Cortes displayed a heart.
The brain drew the most interest.
``What's this?'' Cortes asked, pointing to the lower brain.
``It's the medulla oblongata,'' she said, warning the students to be careful not to injure theirs. ``It controls your breathing and heart rate.''
After her presentation, the students were invited to put on gloves and closely examine the organs.
``We have a keen interest in all of you,'' said Tom Anderson, a Cherokee who is executive director of the Association of American Indian Physicians.
``You have an inherit responsibility as a tribal citizen to make the world better for those coming after you,'' he said. ``Remember your heritage and your culture.''
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com
Native American Graduation Rate Improves in North Dakota
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ The high school graduation rate for Native Americans in North Dakota is rising, but a significant disparity persists when compared to the overall student population.
Data recently released by the state's Department of Public Instruction show that the 2017 graduation rate for Native American students was 67.3 percent, up from 65.2 percent in 2016. Findings also show that dropout rates have decreased for Native American students, which represent about 10 percent of the K-12 student population in North Dakota.
But the report identified a 23 percent gap in 2017 graduation rates between Native American students and their white counterparts, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler called the Native American graduation rate increase a ``good start,'' but said that there's ``a lot of work ahead of us.''
North Dakota education officials identified the need to improve Native American graduations rates a few years ago, Baesler said. The state analyzed how instruction could be provided differently to Native American students both on and off the reservation, adding a cultural component to the K-12 curriculum called Native American Essential Understandings.
``Once you get past the idea of identifying there's a problem, you can start to begin to work on a solution,'' she said.
The Department of Public Instruction met twice with tribal leaders on all five of the state's reservations last year, Baesler said. The meetings were part of the state's compliance with federal education law Every Student Succeeds Act, which includes a section about tribal engagement.
Baesler said the meetings ``broke down some barriers'' between the department and tribal government.
The department will also continue to administer its Native American Needs Assessment Survey, said Lucy Fredericks, director of the department's Office of Indian/Multicultural Education. The agency will send out a survey next month.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
Ranchers, U.S. Square Off Over Fencing at National Preserve
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Miles of fencing separating a national preserve from forested grazing pastures in northern New Mexico have been compromised over the years by wildfire, falling trees and herds of elk.
Cattle have found their way through the porous border of Valles Caldera National Preserve, their numbers escalating over the dry summer months to what park managers described as ``critical mass'' despite attempts by some owners to herd the livestock out on horseback.
Park rangers initiated a roundup last week after getting complaints from visitors and anglers, prompting a showdown with ranchers who say cattle were held with little food or water and it's up to the federal government to mend the fences.
Chris Lovato said he spent much of the summer gathering cattle that had wandered out of his grazing allotment on the adjacent Santa Fe National Forest in search of grass and water in an area hit hard by drought.
``It became a revolving door because 80 percent of the fence is down,'' the 70-year-old rancher said.
Each time, he called park rangers and forest managers to let them know he would be riding in on horseback. He also asked whether the fence would be fixed.
The answer, he said, was no.
In New Mexico, state law puts the burden on landowners to erect fences if they want to keep out trespassing animals. Before Valles Caldera was turned over to the Park Service, the trust that managed the expansive property handled the maintenance, and forest officials say it's generally a shared effort among neighboring property owners.
But officials at Valles Caldera say federal courts have upheld the principal that state fence-out laws are generally pre-empted by U.S. regulations requiring livestock owners to keep their animals off certain federal lands.
``While we will continue to do our part to maintain our boundary fences, there's no obligation for the Park Service to fence out potential trespass livestock under state laws,'' preserve Superintendent Jorge Silva-Banuelos said. ``The adjacent livestock owners do have a role to play in the maintenance of their allotment fences that border the preserve.''
Rather than issuing citations or fines, preserve officials said they wanted to handle the trespassing cattle informally by rounding them up and calling a state brand inspector to identify the owners so they could be trucked out.
Ranchers argue that the preserve should have posted a notice of their intention to impound the animals. They say more than 300 cows, calves and some bulls were corralled without hay and with little water for days until they could make the 300-mile (483-kilometer) roundtrip to trailer the livestock home.
One cow died, and ranchers have reported that the animals were in bad shape.
Lovato made multiple trips last weekend to move eight loads of cattle after he was told he wouldn't be allowed to herd them by horseback less than 2 miles back to his allotment.
``The federal government, instead of helping us, they're just punishing us after what we faced this summer,'' he said, referring to the challenges of the drought.
Silva-Banuelos said trespassing livestock have long been a problem at the preserve and federal regulations spell out how it must be handled.
``It's a pretty routine activity, but as we start getting more and more complaints from visitors and anglers, it's something that we have to make sure that we're upholding our obligations to protect and preserve the resources that Congress established as a national park,'' he said.
Dubbed the ``Yellowstone of the Southwest,'' Valles Calderas is home to vast grasslands, the remnants of one of North America's few super volcanoes and one of New Mexico's most famous elk herds. The bear claw-shaped ring of mountain peaks that form the caldera is culturally significant to neighboring Native American tribes.
Gary Ziehe, who was the first executive director of Valles Caldera after the federal government bought it, said the fence has been difficult to maintain since some stretches cross remote and rugged territory.
Ranchers hope a solution can be found, and Silva-Banuelos said he plans to meet with some of them.
``We want to be good neighbors,'' Ziehe said.
Oil Company Facing Tribal Opposition Proposes More Wells
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ An oil company facing tribal opposition to drilling wells on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation close to Lake Sakakawea has proposed 23 more wells near the Missouri River reservoir.
The federal Bureau of Land Management is reviewing drilling permit applications from Slawson Exploration, some for wells less than 1,000 feet from the lake, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
A federal judge last year halted the drilling of proposed wells when the Three Affiliated Tribes argued they should be farther from the lake under tribal policy that requires a 1,000-foot setback and tribal approval for drilling within half a mile of the lake.
The lake is the tribe's primary source of drinking water, and also a tribal cultural and recreational resource.
The company challenged the order and the judge reversed it . The company is drilling on private land on the reservation in northwestern North Dakota and developing minerals under the lake that are not owned by American Indians. The company said those wells should be complete by late November.
``There's no application of that tribal law to these projects,'' said Eric Sundberg, Slawson's vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs.
The tribe continues to fight the earlier ruling, maintaining that tribal regulations should apply to all oil development within its reservation boundaries.
``If there's a contamination or impact to occur ... we're all going to be impacted one way or another,'' tribal Chairman Mark Fox said.
The BLM is accepting comments on the new drilling permit applications through Oct. 5.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
BIA Law Enforcement Seizes 17 Lbs. of Heroin & Methamphetamine on Pueblo Reservation
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke applauded the efforts of a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Office of Justice Services (OJS) K-9 Police Officer who recently took more than 17 pounds of deadly drugs off the streets. The BIA officer was monitoring vehicle traffic on Interstate 25 on the San Felipe Pueblo Indian Reservation when he conducted a traffic stop resulting in the arrest of an individual, and the seizure of approximately 15.9 pounds of methamphetamine and 1.25 pounds of heroin.
A field test of the substances was conducted and returned positive results for the presence of methamphetamine from one of the fifteen packages and heroin from the one of packages. One package did test positive for heroin and had an approximate weight of 1.25 pounds (567.67 grams). On Thursday, August 30, 2018, a Criminal Complaint was filed in the District of New Mexico and the suspect was held for further court proceedings.
"Our Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officers are the front line in America’s ongoing fight against opioids," said Secretary Zinke. "I applaud their fine efforts today and every day. Opioids have had a disproportionately negative effect on American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and as Secretary of the Interior, I understand how imperative our efforts are on this urgent issue. The DOI Opioid Task Force is doing a great job. I thank President Trump for his great leadership in helping us find creative ways to solve this crisis, and I look forward to a day when opioids no longer claim the lives of so many of our citizens."
"Thank you, Secretary Zinke and the hard working BIA-OJS officers on the ground, for helping to keep Indian Country safe," said Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney. "The President's Initiative is directly impacting the families within our tribal communities."
The Department of the Interior is committed to making available resources required to fight drug abuse, and earlier this year Secretary Zinke established the Department of the Interior’s drug fighting Joint Task Force to help achieve President Donald Trump's mission to end the opioid epidemic and make America safe. So far, the task force has made 155 arrests and confiscated approximately 1,155 pounds of illegal drugs. Secretary Zinke has continually worked with tribes to carry out President Trump’s directive to stop the drug and opioid crisis, conducting dozens of tribal visits to see the affected communities, while listening and learning about how to fight the crisis on the ground.
Wisconsin Commercial Fishing Operations Record Numbers
BAYFIELD, Wis. (AP) _ Commercial fishing operations near the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior are reporting record numbers of whitefish and a strong recovery of lake trout since a decline in the early 2000s.
Craig Hoopman of Lake Superior whitefish told the state's Natural Resources Board that he's seeing record numbers of young whitefish and a strong rebounding of lake trout numbers, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .
Fishing has been exceptional so far this year, said Hoopman, who chairs the state Department of Natural Resources Lake Superior Commercial Fishing Board.
``We're averaging between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds of whitefish per day in the traps right now and releasing thousands of sub-legal fish,'' said Hoopman. ``There's just multiple year classes of fish.''
White fish is the most sought-after species, but Hoopman said he's also seeing strong numbers of lake trout after a decades-long population decline that began in 1950s.
``There's around three year classes of lake trout that I'm seeing daily that are extremely large,'' he said. ``Very nice, beautiful-looking fish, healthy, the whitefish, the lake trout, all the species that I'm seeing every day, they are feeding well, there just healthy-looking fish.''
Lake trout populations crashed during the 1950s and 1960s due in part to the introduction of invasive sea lamprey, said DNR fisheries biologist Brad Ray.
The DNR, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission have worked for decades to reduce the numbers of lamprey to reduce, which has allowed the lake trout populations to recover, according to Ray.
Hoopman credited refuges near the Apostle Islands for letting the whitefish and trout populations boom.
``We have a fishery that is protected here,'' he said. ``It is of such utmost importance of our restricted use areas and the refuge that we have in place that have been there for a long time to protect these fish and also our closed season dates.''
If the younger whitefish and lake trout are able to grow to maturity, the Apostle Islands and South Shore region of Lake Superior could become a national sport fishing destination, Hoopman said.
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org
Groups to Discuss Vatican Edicts' Impact on Native Americans
LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (AP) _ Members of the Six Nations of the Iroquois and experts in Native American legal and civil rights issues are hosting a conference in central New York for discussions on 500-year-old Vatican edicts whose impacts are still felt today.
The conference being held Saturday and Sunday at the Great Law of Peace Center outside Syracuse focuses on how Native American tribes were impacted by what's known as the Doctrine of Discovery.
The term refers to papal bulls issued by the Catholic Church in the 15th century as Europeans were setting out to explore the New World. The edicts gave explorers the right to claim lands for their Christian monarchs.
The Iroquois Confederacy has called on the Vatican to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery for having a negative impact on indigenous people.
Illinois Black Hawk Statue Secures Restoration Funding
OREGON, Ill. (AP) _ Efforts to restore a 107-year-old statue in northern Illinois have received financial backing this summer from the state and a local business.
The Rockford Register Star reports that heavy-duty trailer manufacturing company E.D. Etnyre & Co. donated $100,000 this week for the Eternal Indian statue, colloquially known as Black Hawk.
The project in Oregon, Illinois involves recreating the statue's original mix of concrete and red granite to keep it standing for many more years.
Company owner Edward D. Etnyre was starting the business in 1910 when he furnished artist Lorado Taft with supplies for the 48-foot-tall (15-meter tall) icon.
The state Department of Natural Resources received a $350,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in May.
The Black Hawk Restoration Team is also raising funds for the restoration.
Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com
Car Dealership Removes Native American Statue After 50 Years
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ A North Carolina car dealership has taken down a 23-foot fiberglass statue of a Native American that has drawn complaints over its 50-year history.
The Asheville Citizen Times reports that Harry's On the Hill was prompted to take down the statue known as ``Chief Pontiac'' partly because of a bad experience by a female customer who's a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The newspaper said an employee was fired after sending an offensive text message to the customer in June. Even before that, some Native Americans had complained about the statue.
The statue was removed Friday with a crane. It's being donated to the Pontiac-Oakland Transportation Museum in Michigan.
Pat Grimes, owner of Harry's, said he received offers to buy the statue but felt that the museum was best for it.
WWII Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tom Holiday Dies at Age 94
GEORGE, Utah (AP) _ Samuel Tom Holiday, one of the last surviving Navajo Code Talkers, died in southern Utah Monday surrounded by family members who raised money through a crowdfunding campaign to be by his side.
He was 94.
Holiday was among hundreds of Navajos who used a code based on their native language to transmit messages in World War II. The Japanese never broke it.
He was 19 when he joined the Marine Corps and became a part of operations in several locations across the Pacific during the war, according to The Spectrum. A mortar explosion left him with hearing loss, but he would later tell family that he always felt safe during battle because of a pouch around his neck holding sacred stones and yellow corn pollen.
He received a Congressional Silver Medal, a Purple Heart and other recognition for his action during the conflict.
After the war, Holiday returned to the Navajo reservation and worked as a police officer, a ranger and later started his own equipment company. He married Lupita Mae Isaac and had eight children.
In 2013, Holiday co-wrote a book about his experience as a Code Talker called ``Under the Eagle.''
Fewer than 10 Code Talkers are believed to be alive today. The exact number is unknown because the program remained classified for several years following the war.
Holiday spent his later days living at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivins, Utah.
Shortly before his death, family members turned to the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to raise $4,000 to be able to visit him in hospice care. The Navajo Nation said he was surrounded by friends and family when he died.
There will be a viewing at the Hughes Mortuary in St. George, Utah, on Thursday and funeral services in Monument Valley on Friday, according to the Navajo Nation Council.
Holiday will be buried at a veterans' cemetery in the Navajo community of Kayenta, Arizona, next to his wife.
The library at the Kayenta Middle School is named for Holiday.
He is survived by six children, 35 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
This story has been corrected to say Holiday is survived by six children, not five.
Photo Credit: Samuel T. Holiday Facebook Page
Murkowski: Bill Would Create New Native Corporations
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) _ Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski says a proposed bill would give 100,000 acres of federal land in total to Native groups in five Southeast Alaska towns.
The Ketchikan Daily News reports the proposed legislation _ also called the ``Alaska Native Claims Improvement Act of 2017'' _ looks to mitigate issues with the original Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that was passed almost a half century ago.
A major component of the legislation involves the formation of Native corporations in five Southeast Alaska communities _ Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee and Haines.
Murkowski says these five communities were never granted village or urban corporations.
The bill says upon incorporation, each of the five new corporations would receive ``one township of land (23,040 acres).''
Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com
School district votes to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) _ A Long Island school district has voted to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day for the coming academic year.
The six-member Southampton School Board voted 4-2 in favor of adopting next year's calendar which designates the new holiday on Monday, Oct. 8. Newsday reports the board had previously adopted a generic calendar for the past three years that didn't list holiday names.
Southampton students had asked the board to take Christopher Columbus' name off the holiday in 2016.
Board Member James McKenna, who voted no, says he feels the decision to change the name slights Italian-Americans.
Board Member Roberta Hunter, a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, says she disagrees with McKenna's reasoning on the vote.
Information from: Newsday, http://www.newsday.com
Navajo Prep students win $10K for Gold King Mine spill study
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) _ Students at Navajo Preparatory School researching the lasting impacts of the 2015 Gold King Mine spill have won $10,000 for their work.
The Farmington Daily Times reports seven sophomores and juniors in a gifted-and-talented program at the school entered the Lexus Eco Challenge with a project that involved testing green onion roots for iron and zine after they had been submerged into the Animas River. The work won them $8,000 in scholarships, and $2,000 for school equipment.
They now are competing in a second phase of the competition.
More than two years ago, the EPA accidently released 3 million gallons of mustard-colored water from southwestern Colorado's Gold King Mine into the Animas River. The spill tainted water in three states, as well as the Navajo Nation.
Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.daily-times.com