Montana Native Storyteller Awarded National Arts Fellowship

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ A Montana Native American storyteller is expected to be honored as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Billings Gazette reports traditional Crow storyteller Grant Bulltail is one of 10 people chosen by the NEA to receive a 2019 fellowship.

Bulltail is expected to be honored in Washington, D.C., with the presentation of the fellowship, which includes a $25,000 award.

Bulltail says the award money will be put toward hiring an editor to work with him on a novel presenting a story of the Crow people.

He has previously shared his stories at state and national parks and places of significance to the Crow people.

Bulltail has also taught at Utah State University, which is building a collection of his work.

Information from: The Billings Gazette,


ACLU Creates New Position Focusing On Indigenous Issues

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) _ The American Civil Liberties Union is creating a new position in South Dakota to focus on indigenous issues, spurred in part by the state toughening laws ahead of possible Keystone XL pipeline protests.

ACLU director of campaigns Sabrina King said the position will be modeled on the organization's indigenous justice program in Montana. King will supervise the new South Dakota position.

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported the ACLU has long wanted to build on its work on indigenous issues in the state. The idea took on new urgency after South Dakota this year passed laws aimed at potential Keystone XL protests.

With memories fresh of disruptive protests against the Dakota Access pipeline that cost neighboring North Dakota nearly $40 million and led to hundreds of arrests beginning in late 2016, South Dakota pushed the laws through late in this year's legislative session just days after they were proposed by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.

The laws require pipeline companies to help pay extraordinary expenses such as the cost of policing during protests and aim to pursue money from demonstrators who engage in so-called ``riot boosting,'' which is defined in part as encouraging violence during a riot.

The measures sparked opposition from Native Americans tribes who said they weren't consulted.

The ACLU is challenging the laws in federal court, arguing they are unconstitutional.

King said the person in the new position will build relationships with indigenous people throughout the state and ask the question, ``What are the issues that are affecting your community that the ACLU needs to be working on?'' King said.

It has become clear that the basis of organizing is building relationships rather than hiring more attorneys or policy directors, she said.

They already know there are topics that need focus, including missing and murdered indigenous women and the Keystone XL pipeline. But the ACLU knows there are other areas that it's missing, and the new position will allow the ACLU to work on those issues in partnership with indigenous people in South Dakota, she said.

``Across the ACLU, we're focusing a lot more on indigenous communities and really wanting to build relationships and be in conversation with folks,'' especially in places like Montana and South Dakota where the indigenous justice organizers can work in a more focused way, she said.

Information from: Argus Leader,


Conservation Groups Sue To Block Road In Alaska Refuge

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Nine conservation groups are suing the U.S. Interior Department over a proposed Alaska land swap that could lead to a road through a national wildlife refuge.

The groups seek to block a road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula.

The refuge contains internationally recognized habitat for migrating waterfowl.

Residents of the village of King Cove for decades have sought a land connection through the refuge to Cold Bay, which has an all-weather airport and better access to emergency flights.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013 concluded a road would damage the Izembek watershed.

A federal judge in March rejected a previous land swap. In July, the King Cove Native Corp. proposed the new land swap, which is the basis for the lawsuit.


Agreement Calls For Shield's Return To Tribe In New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ A settlement agreement filed in U.S. District Court in New Mexico calls for a Paris auction house to return a ceremonial shield to a Native American tribe that considers it sacred.

Under the agreement, the EVE auction house is to release the artifact to the U.S. Embassy in Paris for transport to Albuquerque by a federal agent.

The auction house previously listed the shield among many Native American items for sale.

Those signing the agreement included Acoma Pueblo Gov. Brian Vallo and Jerold Collings, a resident of rural western New Mexico who has said he inherited the shield from his mother.

The tribe has pressed for repatriations of ceremonial items from galleries, auction houses and private collections, and Vallo called the shield's return homecoming ``critical and highly sensitive.''


Sports, Horse Betting Bill for Cherokee Gets Final Approval

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ North Carolina's only federally recognized American Indian tribe could soon offer sports and horse wagering to patrons at its two casinos.

The General Assembly gave final approval to a measure that would give the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians the authority to offer the additional types of betting. The House voted 90-27 for the measure that had already cleared the Senate three months ago.

The bill now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk. Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said the governor will review the bill before making a decision on whether to sign it into law.

The sports-book option took shape after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that made most sports gambling illegal last year. State law already lets the Eastern Band offer live poker, slot machines and video-style games.

Eastern Band Principal Chief Richard Sneed said in an interview MonDAY night that the new options would provide more amenities at the tribe's Harrah casinos in Murphy and Cherokee, but downplayed them as big money-makers.

Sneed said the tribe projects an additional $14 million annually by offering sports and off-track horse betting, of which $1 million annually would go to state coffers. State government already receives regular funds from Eastern Band gambling operations.

``People are excited about it, (especially) for a lot of folks that haven't done sports betting besides office pools,'' Sneed said. ``We're just excited to be able to offer it'' if it becomes law, he added.

Rep. Kevin Corbin of Macon County, who was shepherding the bill, told colleagues on the House floor the measure wouldn't expand geographically where tribal gambling could occur. Although conservative Christians warned lawmakers in committee about the societal dangers of more gambling, nobody spoke out against the measure.

Eastern Band members benefit from casino-related jobs and payments of about $12,000 annually for its share of gambling income. The Eastern Band is also one of the state's top political contributors.

A separate measure now before the Senate to create a new state gambling commission would direct the proposed panel to study the feasibility of authorizing sports betting and steeplechases in the state. Sneed said he's excited about the study proposal, given that the tribe has been involved in casino gambling for more than 20 years.


New Escape Room Teaches Connecticut's Native History

The Connecticut-Post

WASHINGTON, Conn. (AP) _ Griffin Kalin has a very particular set of skills.

They were passed on in childhood from his parents, who own a business recreating the material culture of prehistoric Native American life.

And they made him an especially suitable candidate for the unusual task he was handed in February 2018: Create a Wigwam escape room at the Institute for American Indian Studies, in Washington, that puts players into the pre-European-contact world of the Native Americans who once inhabited the region.

``Probably the biggest challenge, in terms of designing it, was trying to find ways around the fact that there was no written language, there was no metal for the most part. A lot of the norms for building escape rooms were outside of the realm of what we could do because of the context we chose to put it in,'' Kalin says, on a recent Wednesday, standing in the 20-by-20-foot room located within the museum's Research Center, beside the wigwam he built and his creative partner, Lauren Bennett.

Kalin, the museum's creative director, and Bennett, the Wigwam Escape coordinator, are high school friends who linked up last year to oversee the room, which is an attempt by the museum to attract a more diverse group of visitors.

According to Executive Director Chris Combs, in its early years, the small museum, tucked in a remote section of the Litchfield Hills, would draw upward of 20,000 visitors annually. But that the opening of Mohegan Sun and Foxwood casinos, including the latter's Mashantucket Pequot Museum, on the other side of the state in the 1990s precipitated a drop off. Now, Combs says, the museum is mostly visited by school groups and people over 65. So he sought to attract new demographics.

``We opened the escape room basically because of demographics I saw,'' Combs says. ``Millennials like escape rooms, parents like escape rooms.''

Combs enlisted Kalin, who, in addition to primitive skills, has an interest in gaming and exploration-style learning, and Bennett. They in turn brought a fellow Nonnewaug High School graduate and artist, Jesse Stevens, and opened the room in December.

``Jesse was around and could paint the walls, and Lauren was thinking of coming back around. Lauren's really good at facilitating dialogue, guiding people through things and talking about experiences. Jesse had been working on sets of movies for a while, so he and I had some really interesting ideas about how to construct some of the wall stuff,'' Kalin says. ``We had the people we needed, which was super cool.''

The game mirrors other escape rooms in that players have 60-minutes to complete a series of tasks and exit the room. It's meant to induce an empathetic response to history through immersion, Bennett says.

In addition to the wigwam, native flora and fauna native and objects common to an Algonquin village of the time dot the room. Stalks of corn were fashioned out of masking tape painted green and plastic gourds were 3-D printed in the University of Connecticut Maker Studio. Stevens' mural depicts mountain laurels, mushrooms, lush forests and a native village. In one corner, a stuffed deer peers over some brush. Played on the loudspeakers are the calls of hawks, loons and, as the end of the challenge is approaching, owls. The clap of thunder signals that Bennett and Kalin, who track the progress of participants from a monitor outside of the room, want to offer players a hint.

Before entering, all visitors must forfeit their technological devices. They'll find no clocks or timers on the inside _ instead, time is told based on a light display that simulates the passing of a full day. The tasks force players to think critically about how people living in that place, at that time, would've interacted with their environment and secure the resources they needed to survive.

``You're going to find yourself in the year 1518 in a Native American village in the Eastern woodlands. You've recently received word from a neighboring village of Metachiwon that they're being affected by an illness and they're asking for help,'' Bennett explained. ``So the main part of the game is gathering supplies for that journey. You need water, two different kinds of cooked foods and medicine.''

The hour ends with popcorn, a traditional Native American snack, and a debriefing in the Research Center lobby, which is meant to reinforce the cultural and historical lessons learned over the course of the hour.

``It's rewarding when we talk to people, because our mission of educating people is coming through,'' Combs says.



Information from: Connecticut Post,


Colorado Bison Herd Growing Much Faster Than Expected

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) _ A bison herd in northern Colorado is growing much faster than expected.

The herd at a natural area north of Fort Collins began three years ago as 10 genetically pure descendants of bison in Yellowstone National Park.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports the herd now numbers 76 animals, including a dozen calves born just this year. The natural area doesn't have enough room for more than 100 bison.

Herd managers expect to reach that number soon.

Colorado State University, the city of Fort Collins and Larimer County hope to raise enough genetically pure, disease-free bison to give or trade to American Indian tribes and conservation organizations.

Herd managers recently sent two bison bulls to a zoo in Oakland, California.


Information from: Fort Collins Coloradoan,


Famous Tree Fights For Survival After More Than 300 Years

Tree outside the Indian Steps Museum 

By FRANK BODANI, York Daily Record

AIRVILLE, Pa. (AP) _ The most famous tree in York County looks only half alive.

Gone are the days when the American holly along the Susquehanna River stretched strong and stately some 65 feet tall.

The tree near the Indian Steps Museum has been photographed and documented for more than a century. Hand-written accounts claim it was a sapling alongside Native American fishing camps, primarily the Susquehannocks, more than 300 years ago.

Some have called it the largest holly north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

But those who run the museum along a winding, wooded road in Lower Chanceford Township worried that it might have to be cut down. It does look to be fighting for its life, once again.

The curious condition of a tree being barely held together

A few of its enormous, dense limbs have been sheared off by wind and ice storms. Its insides were once patched together with cement in an effort to stave off decay _ wire and mesh still showing through the trunk in one cavity.

The tallest stretches of its trunk are dead wood.

And yet it's not necessarily dying, after all.

That was the recent observation of Longwood Gardens arborist Scott Wade, who evaluated the tree that is about to give up its long reign as a state champion for size.

Wade visited Indian Steps in March to take cuttings from the holly in hopes of propagating it among the historical collection at Longwood.

His status report is that the tree is ``changing'' in old age.

Though lopsided in appearance, one side of it remains green and vibrant and is pushing new growth. Some pruning and propping could help this legend maintain, if not even recover to a point, Wade said.

And even if the main trunk of the tree is lost, the root system should continue to grow _ evidenced by a pair of fast-sprouting shoots from the bottom of the trunk.

A natural wonder that `would be considered an antique'

It could begin over again, in a sense.

``It has so much great history to it. It's been written about for a hundred years. Just its legacy is something that's interesting. It draws people down here,'' Wade said.

This holly has been listed among the Penn Charter Trees _ any tree documented to have been alive when William Penn arrived to claim this territory in 1682. However, the tree has long been hollow _ Wade pushed a stick through a crevice and out the other side _ so its growth rings can never be counted.

That means its precise age may never be accurately determined.

Robert Bair, executive director of the York County Conservation Society, said he remembers the tree from a second-grade field trip to Indian Steps. He's 60 now.

``It's the sense of history. You can stand there and realize that this has been around with any of our parents, any of our grandparents,'' he said. ``You can't feel that any other way. You can't fathom it, almost.

``In another realm this would be considered an antique.''

The tree's many lives

The Indian Steps holly tree nearly came to end nearly a century ago.

In the early 1930s, the Pennsylvania Water and Power Company, which built the Holtwood Dam across the Susquehanna River, planned on removing the tree, according to the book, ``75 Years of Conservation: The Story of the Conservation Society of York County.''

The Conservation Society reportedly petitioned PWP to save the tree, and it was granted.

It is a survivor from an era when nearly everything was clear-cut for timber, agriculture and tannins to make leather. Loggers even cleared those steep hills around Indian Steps that run headlong toward the river.

Arrowheads and tools have been found near the holly that are 10,000 years old, said Debbie Saylor, museum curator and research director. Native Americans associated the holly with courage and defense, often placing sprigs of it on their war shields.

As the holly grew, the Susquehannocks morphed into the Conestoga tribe. They moved to the Lancaster side of the river and eventually vanished in the 1700s.

``We know our predecessors were actually there,'' Bair said. ``It does give you a sense of connection, if you will. When folks go down to Indian Steps you you can feel that ...''




Information from: York Daily Record,


Warm Springs Water Crisis Continues

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (AP) _ Schools, businesses and homeowners in Warm Springs, Oregon, are into their second week of a water crisis that is forcing residents to boil water before consumption, the most recent in a string of water problems plaguing the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

The Bulletin reports a boil water notice initiated on May 30 remains in effect until further notice, due to loss of pressure in the distribution system.

The tribal council was expected to address the issue in meetings earlier this week, but results have not been announced.

Warm Springs - one of Oregon's poorest communities with poverty rates double the state average - has struggled to maintain its infrastructure, create jobs and provide affordable housing. Access to clean and safe drinking water also compounds a health crisis in an area suffering from soaring rates of diabetes and cancer.


North Dakota Tribe Defends Its Rights To Minerals From State

Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ For nearly two centuries, the federal government has repeatedly assured a Native American tribe in North Dakota that it has rights to a reservation river and the issue stayed relatively quiet until oil companies figured out a way to drill under the waterway, which is now a man-made lake.

With an estimated $100 million in oil royalties waiting in escrow to be claimed and future payments certain to come, the state has become more involved in seeking ownership rights. It successfully lobbied the U.S. Interior Department to suspend a last-minute Obama-era memo stating that mineral rights under the original Missouri River bed should belong to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, which is also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes.

The Interior Department put the minerals issue on hold last summer and ordered a review of the ``underlying historical record.'' The state maintains that it assumed ownership of the riverbed when North Dakota became a state in 1889, citing a constitutional principle known as the equal footing doctrine.

The state's immersion in the issue isn't sitting well with tribal members, who say it's between them and the Trump administration.

"They obviously didn't care that much before,'' the tribal chairman, Mark Fox, recently told The Associated Press. "Now that there might be $100 million there, all of a sudden the state really cares, right?''

The January 2017 memo by former Interior Department Solicitor Hilary Tompkins, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, is one of numerous federal declarations since the 1820s that have confirmed the tribes' ownership of the river, which was altered when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Garrison Dam in the 1950s and created Lake Sakakawea.

In her ruling, Tompkins cited both a 1936 opinion by the Interior Department that granted the tribes ownership of a Missouri River island and a wider-ranging 1979 conclusion by the Interior Board of Land Appeals that the entire bed of the river within the reservation boundaries didn't pass to North Dakota's control when it became a state. The state didn't appeal the 1979 decision, which Tompkins said rejected the relevance of the equal footing doctrine.

Tribal officials have recently taken to social media and penned op-eds asking state leaders to come out in support of the tribes' ownership rights, much like they did during the last legislative session regarding an oil and tax agreement with the tribes.

"I hope our elected officials will join us once again in supporting our lawful property rights to the minerals under the Missouri River on the Fort Berthold Reservation,'' Fox wrote in an op-ed kicking off the campaign.

The opinion by Tompkins, who said her conclusions are backed by a 2001 Supreme Court opinion giving an Idaho tribe ownership of submerged lands, came out two days before President Donald Trump's inauguration. Although Trump held a meeting later that year to pledge his support to Native American leaders in oil country, including Fox, state government officials in Republican-dominated North Dakota have found receptive ears at the Interior Department.

State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem wrote a letter in October 2017 to James Cason, associate deputy secretary in the Interior Department and longtime conservative operative, stating that the Tompkins opinion has flaws and asking that it be withdrawn or suspended. "I wholeheartedly support a `re-set' and encourage discussions that have as their objective an amicable resolution to the title question,'' Stenehjem wrote.

Principal Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani complied with that request in June 2018, after which the National Congress of American Indians passed a resolution urging the Interior Department to complete title and mapping work of the riverbed and scrap Jorjani's opinion.

Stenehjem told the AP that Fox's op-ed focusing on strong relationships between tribal and state governments should be a "means to resolve any of these issues.'' Asked if that meant sharing some of the royalties, the attorney general said, "Conceivably, yes.'' He added that those conversations would go through Republican Gov. Doug Burgum.

Burgum's spokesman, Mike Nowatzki, said in a statement that Burgum is committed to partnering and engaging in productive dialogue with "all tribal nations for the benefit of all North Dakotans,'' but added that any public statements on the riverbed minerals issue would be premature. The Interior Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Fox said tribal elders have told him to "fight and fight hard for what our people died for over hundreds of years.'' He said he believes it's his responsibility to right some of the wrongs, including "one of the greatest devastating blows to our people,'' the construction of Garrison Dam.

"We have a connection to the river that goes back thousands of years,'' Fox said. "It's not just cultural, it's not only spiritual, it has also historically been our economic foundation of who we are.''

Fox said the tribes have spent their oil money wisely. He cited a new courthouse, $130 million worth of road repairs, construction of more than 400 homes, a new drug treatment facility, health insurance for 7,000 enrolled members, improvements in law enforcement, a $20 million education fund for students, and $200 million in infrastructure upgrades, among other things.

Tribal elder Austin Gillette, 72, who was in first grade when his town of Elbowoods was flooded out by Lake Sakakawea, and 90 percent of reservation residents were forced to relocate, remembers it as the first time he saw adults cry.

"Water is life,'' said Gillette, a former tribal chairman and council member. "We just want the state to go away on this issue.''


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Grizzlies on the Move in US Rockies as Hunting in Limbo


Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Grizzly bears are expanding their range in the U.S. Northern Rockies, spreading from remote wilderness into farmland amid a legal fight over proposed hunting.

New government data from grizzly population monitoring show bruins in the Yellowstone region of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho expanded their range by about 1,500 square miles (3,900 square kilometers) over the past two years.

They now occupy almost 27,000 square miles (69,000 square kilometers), a range that has grown 34 percent in the past decade.

That means more bears on private lands where they can encounter humans and attack livestock, said Frank van Manen with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Run-ins with bears are happening in agricultural areas where the fearsome animals hadn't been seen for decades, raising tensions in communities over the grizzly's status as a federally protected species in the U.S. outside Alaska

"Not all grizzly bears are livestock killers, but of course it only takes a few to do potentially quite a bit of killing,'' van Manen said.

Wyoming and Idaho officials proposed grizzly hunts last year, but they were blocked by a judge's ruling.

Government attorneys asked an appeals court to overturn part of that ruling. The case could take months or even years to decide, even as there's no end in sight to the trend of bears getting into more conflicts at the periphery of their range.

An estimated 700 bears live in the Yellowstone area. Biologists say that's a conservative figure and doesn't include grizzlies that are outside a designated monitoring area that's centered on Yellowstone National Park.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contends the animals no longer need federal protection. State officials say hunting would give them a tool to better manage their numbers, but that it would be limited to sustainable levels.

In his ruling that blocked hunting, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said in part that officials had not given enough consideration to how lifting protections for Yellowstone bears would affect other grizzly populations in the Rockies.

The government conceded that point in their court brief, saying officials already had started working on the topic and would explain the impact that lifting protections would have on other bears.

But U.S. Justice Department attorneys pushed back against the judge's further contention that a "comprehensive review of the entire listed species'' was needed. That would require officials to look more closely at the status of other bear populations, beyond the impacts of a decision to lift protections around Yellowstone.

The attorneys said such a detailed review exceeds what's required under federal law.

Environmentalists argue that it's too soon to lift protections first imposed in 1975, especially because conflicts between humans and bears remain a prime cause of bear deaths. Also, Yellowstone bears are isolated from other populations, which has raised questions about their long-term genetic health.

"For us it's never been a numbers game,'' said Andrea Santarsiere with the Center for Biological Diversity. "For grizzly bears to really be recovered, we need to see those populations connected.''

A coalition of American Indian tribes wants Congress to protect grizzlies permanently. They say the animals are sacred and play a role in many ceremonies and traditions.

Yellowstone became a refuge for the species last century after hunting and trapping killed off bears across most of their range.

The park remains a grizzly stronghold. But younger, male bears search for territory of their own outside the park, with females soon following behind, van Manen said.

A similar dynamic has played out in Northwestern Montana, home of more than 1,000 grizzlies. The area includes Glacier National Park and the vast Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Bears in recent years have attacked livestock dozens of miles outside those wild areas, on the open plains of central Montana where ranches and cropland occupy the landscape.


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Two Oklahoma Tribes To Build A Bison Meat Processing Plant

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Two Native American tribes in Oklahoma are planning to build a meat processing plant in an effort to take a more active role in bringing the nations' bison herd to the marketplace, a tribal business official said.

Nathan Hart, business director for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, noted an eatery at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum currently being developed in Oklahoma City could sell the meat plant's first bison entrees.

Hart said the U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected processing plant being built in El Reno will be chiefly for bison, but the planned 150-acre (around 60-hectare) site will also take in cattle and wild game, The Journal Record reported.

``When we started this, we had a smaller processing facility in mind,'' Hart said. ``But as we've stepped out and let more people know what we're doing, the plan expanded up to 3,000 animals per year. ``This won't just be for our processing purposes, either. We're in contact with a lot of other producers in western Oklahoma to fill a need for production there.''

The tribes' farming program already has supply chains for bison meat to be sold in dozens of the region's stores.

Its bison flock stands at roughly 400 head, mostly in Concho. Hart said his tribes' leaders are crafting the legal framework to turn the processing plant into a business unit under a corporate holding company. A viability study will also be instituted.

The Cheyenne & Arapaho aren't the first tribes to cultivate bison herds for internal and profitable uses. The Quapaw Cattle Co., for instance, contributes around 20,000 pounds (around 9,000 kilograms) of beef and bison to Quapaw Public Schools, while also donating to area food banks, day care centers, churches and Quapaw Tribe Title VI nutritional programs to provide protein for a healthy diet.


Information from: The Journal Record,


Anchorage Gathering Planned to Remember Missing Native Women

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Alaska advocacy groups are hosting a public weekend ceremony in Anchorage to remember missing and murdered indigenous women.

The free Saturday afternoon event at the Alaska Native Heritage Center is being held to coincide with the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls, to be observed Sunday.

The Anchorage event is billed as a community gathering and ``heartbeat of drums.'' It will feature dance and drum groups, speakers and traditional Alaska Native foods, including moose and seal soup.

The event comes amid a national crisis _ the disappearances of hundreds of Native American and Alaska Native women and girls from across the country. Native women experience some of the highest rates of murder, sexual violence and domestic abuse.


A Baseball Branding Bonanza, and 2 Guys Helping It Happen

AP National Writer

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) _ On a spring evening in eastern Pennsylvania, upon a bluff overlooking the Lehigh Valley, a carnival of baseball and pork products is at hand.

From loudspeakers, swine-like sounds reverberate. Vendors roam the stands in clothing festooned with outsized strips of bacon. And yes, there is also a baseball game going on _ featuring players wearing jerseys that say, across the chest, ``BaconUSA.''

No matter that the decade-old Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A team, are named for the pig iron that is a byproduct of the steel this region is renowned for producing. This is branding and marketing at its best.

The pugnacious strip of breakfast meat, introduced as the team's alternate identity five years ago, hardly stands alone.

Up in New England, there are yard goats. In the Deep South, there are spacebound raccoons. A wider scan of the American map reveals a menagerie of unlikely characters, from quarrelsome jumbo shrimp to menacing thunderbolts, from in-your-face rubber ducks to aggrieved prairie dogs. It's nowhere near the history-soaked dignity of the Yankees or the Dodgers, and that's the point.

Across America, a golden age of minor league baseball branding has unfolded, bursting with exuberance and calibrated localism. And two guys from San Diego, born six days apart and best friends since kindergarten, have helped teams find the way.


``You look at our stuff, and you'll see a lot of pigs, squirrels, ducks looking to punch above their weight. These are American stories,'' Jason Klein says.

He and his partner, Casey White, are the 39-year-old founders of Brandiose, a California design studio that pushes minor league baseball branding into fresh frontiers. Partnering with nearly half the approximately 160 minor league clubs that dot the continental United States, they have spent most of their adult lives helping teams build new storylines.

The recipe goes something like this:

Take modern microbrewing's eclectic localism. Add a character-based American advertising tradition that points back to Count Chocula, the Green Giant and Messrs. Clean and Peanut. Top it off with an optimistic Disneyland sensibility that marries midcentury roadside signage with the kinetic creativity of Bill Veeck, the team owner who, in 1951, sent a 3-foot, 7-inch tall adult man up to the plate for a major league at-bat (he walked, of course).

The resulting civic cocktail? Minor league teams bursting with personality and verve, saturated in the culture of the communities they represent _ and ready to sell you loads of quirky merch.

``It's a very exciting time for colloquial, niche and unique stories,'' White says. ``We're accentuating stories that were lost for a long time, that people were told were stupid and they should be more cosmopolitan.''

Brandiose and a minor league club will discuss what's wanted _ from some tweaks to a total rebrand or new-team launch _ and set to work. Klein and White will travel to the community and immerse themselves, asking questions and trying to figure out what makes the region tick.

Possibilities will be narrowed, presentations made, naming contests sometimes held. But if Brandiose is involved, it's likely a team won't be steered toward the safe choice. They embrace the counterintuitive _ like the IronPigs, with whom they have been involved since 2008, when the team became the metallic, truculent hogs they are today.

``We got skewered in the media, the fan base: `This is the worst name ever. We're never coming to a game,''' says Chuck Domino, who was running the IronPigs then and is now chief executive manager of the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

``Within a couple months,'' he says, ``we had grandfathers wearing plastic pig noses to games.''

Or consider the Rocket City Trash Pandas.

When the BayBears of Mobile, Alabama, the Los Angeles Angels' Double-A team, came under new ownership and moved 350 miles north to the Huntsville area for 2020, they brought in Brandiose. ``Moon Possums'' and ``Comet Jockeys'' emerged as contenders, but despite trepidations about the word ``trash,'' the Trash Pandas _ slang for raccoons _ prevailed.

Why? Because a scrappy raccoon reaching for the stars resonated in the Huntsville-area community, with its deep aerospace heritage. So a scavenger in a trash-can spacecraft it became.

Says Klein: ``Raccoons break locks, get into things. What if a raccoon created a rocket ship? What would it look like? It'd be created out of trash! And that metaphorically speaks to these engineers: `I don't know how we're going to do this. We gotta get people from here to the moon!'''

The team did $500,000 business in Trash Pandas merchandise in the 30 days after the October unveiling, Klein says.

Particularly appealing to fans are teams' ``alternate'' identities _ a swag-sales play, sure, but also an opportunity to dig deeper into the community. One expression of that: Copa de Diversion, in which teams temporarily deploy names and logos designed to resonate with Latino/Hispanic fans. This year, 72 minor league clubs participated.

Often a team will express its alternate identity through local food, from Rochester, New York's ``garbage plates'' to asparagus in Stockton, California. Thus did the IronPigs one summer switch meats temporarily, rebranding themselves as the Cheesesteaks, an ode to the fans of their major league team 60 miles southeast.

Like the best of such gambits, it calibrated the dance of local flavor and national interest perfectly.

``We had orders from all 50 states in 24 hours,'' says Kurt Landes, the team's president and general manager. ``You want to do things from a local standpoint, and that's important to us. But sometimes there's a small twist that makes things go viral.''


Minor league ball dates to the 1800s, as does its idiosyncratic regionalism: By the dawn of the 20th century, the Wheeling Stogies were playing in West Virginia's cigar-making northern panhandle and the Grand Rapids Furniture Makers were taking the field in Michigan.

Today's version of it, which comes after years of teams styling themselves after MLB counterparts, plays to a specific notion: that minor league baseball isn't merely the big leagues in miniature.

Because the ``on-field product'' _ the players _ are mostly just passing through en route to the majors (or in the other direction), it's hard to market personalities. So teams tend to emphasize the off-the-field experience.

``We have no control of the team, no control of the players,'' says Jim Pfander, president of the Fast Forward Sports Group, which owns the Akron RubberDucks and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. ``They get called up and there's nothing you can do about it.''

Both teams _ formerly the Akron Aeros and the Jacksonville Suns _ enlisted Brandiose to help reboot what they considered unfocused identities.

For Akron, whose history is intertwined with the rubber industry, ``a tough, gritty duck that's really got that blue-collar ethos to it'' was an ideal choice for both adults and kids.

In Jacksonville, White and Klein learned that lots of the East Coast's shrimp passes through the Port of Jacksonville, and that the community saw itself as a ``little big city.'' The oxymoronic Jumbo Shrimp were born.

``They had been the Suns forever. But by the end of the (first) season, people were leaving with armloads of gear,'' Pfander says. More saliently, attendance jumped nearly 29 percent in Jacksonville the season after the rebrand; for Akron, it was 27 percent.

A more subtle example of brand tweaking came from Brandiose's work with the Spokane minor league team, known for 116 years as the Indians. At the outset, Klein recalls, Brandiose was asked to follow ``one rule _ stay away from the Native American stuff.''

Instead, they did the opposite. They all went to meet with the Spokane Tribe of Indians, for whom the team was originally named. The two groups learned about each other and agreed to incorporate tribal icons and the tribe's fading language, Salish, into the team's narrative.

Today, one jersey spells out ``Spokane'' in Salish; the word ``Indians'' is gone. Signs in both English and Salish dot the ballpark, and the tribe's leaders are stakeholders in how the team frames its message.

``We said, `What's important to you?''' says Otto Klein, the team's senior vice president. ``A lot of minor league teams are realizing that we don't have to throw a dart against a wall and see where it sticks. We can look at our own community and find the gems that make us special.''


There is a saying in minor league baseball circles, often attributed to Chuck Domino: ``We're not in the baseball business. We're in the circus business.'' But many people think of a circus as chaos, when in fact it is, as Domino says, a choreographed extravaganza.

It is business. It is mythmaking, and in particular that ``farm team'' brand of it that speaks to the American desire for baseball to have come from the heartland, from the small towns and tinier cities. Most of all, it is that curious collision of nostalgia and capitalism and quirky carnival-barkerism that helped build America, rewritten for the 21st century.

``Minor league ball has always had this aura, accurate or not, of a more innocent time, a more innocent approach to the game,'' says Paul Lukas, whose blog, UniWatch, has showcased his expertise in athletic uniforms and consumer culture for nearly two decades. ``I do enjoy the embrace of local culture at a time when so many things are homogenized. . There is still stubborn regionalism. We learn about these places through these teams.''

Baseball today is under threat by glitzier, faster-moving, entirely personality-driven sports that are something minor league ball will never be. But as teams and Brandiose have proven, they can lean into the exact opposite aesthetic.

``When you put on a minor league baseball hat,'' Klein says, ``it's the story of your town and the story of what it means to be an American.''

Overstating things? Perhaps a bit. But in a landscape of trash pandas and rubber ducks and flying squirrels and sod poodles, would you really expect anything less?


Ted Anthony, director of digital innovation for The Associated Press, writes frequently about American culture. Follow him on Twitter at (at)anthonyted.


Casino-Operating Tribes Influence Sports Betting Debate


Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Native American tribes have emerged as key players in the legislative debates over whether states should legalize sports betting, with some opposing the idea because it could threaten their casinos and others supporting legalization but only if they retain a monopoly.

In many states, tribes are fighting sports betting or taking a go-slow approach because they worry it might force them to reopen decades-old agreements that give them exclusive rights to operate casinos and offer certain forms of gambling.

``The tribes have a major-league seat at the table,'' said Bill Pascrell III, a lobbyist for gambling interests that are seeking legalized sports betting across the country.

Six states have joined Nevada in allowing sports gambling since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year opened the door to its expansion. Legalization is being considered in more than 20 others.

In Minnesota, a bill seeking to legalize sports betting cleared its first hurdle earlier this year, passing a committee in the state Senate. But that's likely to be as far as it goes, in large part because the state's politically potent tribes oppose it.

Gambling ``is the only successful economic development tool the tribes have ever had,'' John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, told the committee.

The tribes, which operate 21 casinos and have given millions in campaign donations, are especially concerned about allowing sports betting on mobile devices, which they fear could invite wider internet gambling that could threaten their casinos.

In Texas, the only sports betting bill is almost certain to die. It was introduced by a Democrat, the minority party, in a state where casino operators from neighboring Oklahoma and Louisiana have donated millions to keep gambling out. Two Oklahoma tribes, the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations, have given more than $5 million to Texas officeholders and candidates since 2006.

Sports betting measures introduced in Arizona and Washington state are also considered longshots, mostly because of tribal ambivalence or opposition.

In some states where tribal gambling is prevalent, sports betting bills have not been introduced at all. That's the case in Oklahoma, as well as California and Florida, which are home to politically influential tribes that have been cool to the idea.

But elsewhere, casino-operating tribes are the ones leading the legalization efforts.

The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have exclusive rights to casino gambling in Connecticut and are working with the governor's office to add sportsbooks. Two tribal casinos in New Mexico began running sportsbooks after the Supreme Court decision, even though the tribes never received explicit permission from the state.

In North Carolina, a bill pushed by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians would allow the tribe to offer betting on sports and horse races at its casino near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, without forcing it to make any substantial concessions.

Conservative religious groups have warned about the dangers of more gambling, but the legislation has so far sailed through committees in the state Senate. The tribe is one of the state's top political contributors.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Jim Davis, lauded the tribe for bringing jobs to an otherwise distressed portion of western North Carolina.

``They've been incredibly good stewards of the revenue, and it's transforming that community,'' he said.

Like other powerful interest groups, tribes ensure they have access to lawmakers and governors through political contributions. Tribal governments have contributed more than $114 million to state-level candidates and political committees over the past decade, according to an Associated Press analysis of data compiled by the National Institute on Money in Politics.

In some states, including California, allowing sports betting would probably require a constitutional amendment. That and tribal reluctance means the NBA's Sacramento Kings will have to wait longer, perhaps indefinitely, to allow gambling in a suite the team dedicated for that purpose inside the Golden 1 Center arena.

Arizona is the rare example of a state where tribes are the key players in the legalization debate but are on opposite sides.

The Navajo Nation is pushing for a measure that would give tribes the exclusive right to operate sports betting off their reservations in exchange for sharing winnings with the state. Tribes could put betting kiosks in non-tribal bars and private clubs.

But other Arizona tribes oppose the legislation, saying it could hurt existing casinos on reservations.

Lawmakers in many states are not eager to push the issue without support from tribes, said Hilary Tompkins, a former solicitor with the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

``It's not worth the pain of engaging in a fight with the tribes in their states,'' Tompkins said. If states ``open the door to non-tribal sports betting, the tribes are going to say, `We're going to reduce our revenue to you.' And that could end up in court.''

Minnesota state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, chairman of the tax committee that passed this year's sports betting bill, acknowledged that it will be virtually impossible for the measure to succeed without backing from the tribes.

``They've got momentum and are telling folks they don't want it to go anywhere,'' he said. ``I think that's a little unfair, but we're willing to talk with them and protect their interests.''


Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix; Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona; Susan Haigh in Hartford, Connecticut; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this article.


Follow Karnowski at and Mulvihill at


Native American Student Wins $10K Grant to Build Lakota Game

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ A Native American student at Dakota State University has been awarded a $10,000 grant to design a computer game to teach the Lakota language.

Carl Petersen, a DSU junior, will travel to Washington, D.C., later this month to accept his grant award from the national Dreamstarter program, which aims to help Native American youth launch community projects.

Petersen told the Argus Leader that he wants to create a tool ``that would allow people to hear conversational Lakota'' and could be implemented in schools.

He's planning to develop a computer game called Tipi Builder, which will teach conversational Lakota while engaging players to build a tepee. The project aims to protect the language and ensure that future generations can speak it.

``If it dies then that part of the people is gone and then you have no more culture,'' Petersen said.

The 21-year-old studied Lakota while growing up on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in Parade. When he left the reservation for university, he spoke his ancestors' language at a grade-school level.

Petersen said Tipi Builder will be more interactive than other software models that are traditionally used for learning new languages.

He plans to release the game in 2020 and hopes to make it available on mobile platforms in the future.


Information from: Argus Leader,


Enbridge Seeks to Replace Section of Reservation Pipeline

PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Enbridge Energy is asking state regulators to replace a section of its oil pipeline that crosses the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation in northeastern Minnesota.

Enbridge has filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission to replace a 10-mile, above-ground section of its Line 4 pipeline with a new section that would run under ground. The Fond du Lac Band supports the replacement, saying the above-ground section disrupts the natural water flow across the reservation and is a physical barrier to resources.

Minnesota Public Radio News says Line 4 was built in the 1970s and some sections were constructed above ground because of heavily saturated soil. Over the years some of that soil has eroded.

Enbridge says the replacement would cost $100 million.

The proposed project comes as Enbridge is also seeking to replace its Line 3 pipeline across northern Minnesota, which has drawn heavy opposition from tribes and environmental groups.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News,


EPA Pledges $16M Per Year for Tar Creek Superfund Cleanup

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The Environmental Protection Agency has pledged more than $16 million annually for the continued cleanup of toxic mine waste at the heavily polluted Tar Creek Superfund Site in northeastern Oklahoma.

Superfund is a law that gives the EPA funding and authority to clean up contaminated sites. Tar Creek, in Ottawa County, covers a 40-square-mile area and is one of the nation's oldest, most complex Superfund sites.

The EPA, in collaboration with Oklahoma and the Quapaw Nation, announced Monday that their plan is open for a 30-day public evaluation, the Tulsa World reported. The plan provides an update on the cleanup's progress and establishes a framework for how the EPA, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, the Quapaw Nation and the community will work together to clean up mining waste in Ottawa County over the next five years.

``This plan renews our focus, further propels the cleanup progress, and ultimately achieves greater results for Ottawa County,'' EPA Regional Administrator Anne Idsal said in a news release.

The plan states that Tar Creek was placed on an ``Administrator's Emphasis List for Immediate, Intense Action'' in 2017 due to its status as one of the most challenging Superfund sites in the nation. New EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler reaffirmed its position on the list in 2018.

The site was listed to expedite cleanup there and to require the EPA and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to work with the Quapaw Nation to establish the tribe's ability to gain institutional controls on its properties, according to the release.

``We look forward to continuing our work with EPA and ODEQ toward bringing back much of this land to pre-mining conditions,'' said John Berry, Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma.

The plan creates guidelines for progress with near-term objectives, set by 2021, and long-term moves for 2022 and beyond. Near-term goals include administrative actions such as removing 5,000 acres of the site from the National Priorities List and issuing a new strategy for watersheds. Longer-term ideas include exploring new technologies to accelerate cleanup and re-evaluating land uses after reclamation.

The EPA is expected to release a final Tar Creek Strategic Plan this summer.


WSU Researchers Discover Oldest Tattoo Tool in North America

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) _ Scientists from Washington State University have discovered the oldest known tattooing tool in western North America.

The tool was made around 2,000 years ago by the Ancestral Pueblo people in what is now southeastern Utah.

The tool has a handle of skunkbush and a cactus-spine point.

Doctoral candidate Andrew Gillreath-Brown found the pen-sized instrument while taking an inventory of archaeological materials that had been sitting in storage for more than 40 years.

School officials say his discovery pushes back the earliest evidence of tattooing in western North America by more than 1,000 years.

They say it gives scientists a rare glimpse into the lives of a prehistoric people whose customs and culture have largely been forgotten.


Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun Report Dip in Slot Revenue

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut's two casinos have both reported another monthly drop in slot-machine revenue.

This is the seventh straight month that the slot take has dropped at both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.

The Mohegan Sun reported it's January take was $40.7 million, 9.4 percent less than it was the same month a year ago. That is its lowest monthly slot earning since January 2001, when it kept $39.7 million.

Foxwoods reports $31 million in slots revenue last month, an 8.5 percent decline from the same month a year ago and its lowest one-month total in 25 years.

The Connecticut casinos are facing increased competition, including from MGM Resorts' new casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, which opened its doors last August.


New Mexico Angling to Become Home of New Deal Art Museum

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ An effort is underway in New Mexico to build support for establishing a national museum dedicated to the New Deal, the Great Depression-era series of work programs and art initiatives aimed at pulling America from destitution more than 80 years ago.

Supporters say New Mexico would be an ideal home for such an institution as the state received one of the largest amounts of money per capita from the programs, resulting in new schools, post offices, visitor centers and art.

A few months after the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration started the Public Works of Art Project, more than 3,700 artists were hired and thousands of murals, paintings, crafts and sculptures were created for government buildings around the country.

An army of workers built up the national parks and community roads and water systems while musicians preserved folk music and photographers documented life in America.

The results include images from photographers Dorothea Lange and Russell Lee, early paintings by abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, and a look at pueblo life in New Mexico by Native American artist Pablita Velarde.

``It was an incredibly productive time in our history in terms of arts and culture. This would be a tremendous economic boost to not only Santa Fe but also New Mexico,'' said state Rep. Matthew McQueen, a Democrat and supporter of the effort.

Kathy Flynn, executive director of the National New Deal Preservation Association, said many examples of the work done during the era can be found around New Mexico.

She recounted for lawmakers the poverty and joblessness that had spread across the country by the mid-1930s, saying half of New Mexico's population at the time was considered destitute and the devastating dust storms that swept across the plains made life even harder in eastern New Mexico, where she grew up.

``This government program put everybody to work,'' said Flynn, 82. ``Most of you sitting here probably had a family member that was involved.''

The memorial pending in the state House of Representatives requests New Mexico's congressional delegates investigate the possibility of establishing a national New Deal art museum in Santa Fe.

The proposal sailed through its first committee and has the support of House Speaker Brian Egolf and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, whose grandfather John Gaw Meem was a well-known architect who designed many New Deal projects. Egolf and Wirth are Democrats.

The memorial suggests the museum could be located in a landmark building on Santa Fe's Museum Hill. The building was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s and for decades has housed National Park Service offices. It's currently undergoing a renovation.

Curating such a museum would likely be a monumental task, and supporters of the New Mexico effort acknowledge the legislative memorial is a first small step in bringing the idea to light.

The Smithsonian has what it describes as an unparalleled collection of artwork created for the Public Works of Art Project. It drew on that collection to put together an exhibition a decade ago that celebrated the 75th anniversary of the project.

There also are reams of material archived by the Library of Congress, including hundreds of the posters created by the Work Projects Administration. The National Gallery of Art also has watercolor renderings from the era and Roosevelt's Presidential Library and Museum highlight the New Deal as part of his legacy, but there's no museum specifically dedicated to the period's artwork.

At the University of California, Berkeley, efforts have been ongoing to create a virtual museum of sorts to catalogue all the New Deal projects and artwork that can be found around the country.

Flynn pointed to murals at Eastern New Mexico University and New Mexico Highlands University, saying preservation efforts of sites around the country could be boosted if a national museum were to be created.

``There are just so many stories,'' she said. ``It affected everybody's family for the most part during that time and there are connections we can still make today.''


Oklahoma Tourism Agency Acquires 77 Acres in Grand Lake Area

GROVE, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma's tourism agency says it's acquiring 77 acres of land next to the Honey Creek area of Grand Lake State Park to expand the popular northeastern Oklahoma recreation area.

The Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department says Honey Creek stretches across 38 acres along the shores of Grand Lake O' The Cherokees, widely considered one of the nation's best bass fishing lakes. It's one of eight areas in Grand Lake State Park and is a popular spot for boating with more than 100 RV and tent campsites.

Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, Oklahoma's secretary for Tourism and Branding, says the additional acreage will make the park an even better experience for Oklahoma travelers and help draw in tourists from out of state.

Tourism officials say the property cost $842,989.


Measure Funding Native Language Programs Supported in Alaska

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) _ Native studies officials at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are praising efforts to reauthorize federal legislation funding immersion programs for Native American languages.

Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and others this week have introduced a measure reauthorizing the funding for Native language learning initiatives, including immersion programs, language teacher training, and additional teaching materials and curriculum, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

It would also maintain two national programs and expand programs to smaller tribes, as well as lengthen grant periods.

The reauthorization measure is a positive step for Alaska Native languages, said Sandra Kowalski, the university's director of Indigenous Programs for Rural, Community and Native Education.

``There are 20 distinct and formally recognized Alaska Native languages that are in various states of decline,'' Kowalski said. ``Decades of colonialism and recent globalization have created chasms between older first language speakers and younger generations.''

But language education is on the rise, giving hope for a more culturally connected future, Kowalski said.

``Alaskan Native individuals whose first language is English have, through immersion programs, master-apprentice partnerships and some working individually, become proficient in their own Alaska Native language,'' Kowalski said. ``These second language speakers' stories have inspired interest and demand for opportunities for other Alaska Natives to learn to speak their own language at home and throughout the community.''

Culture is intertwined with language, making the revitalization of Native languages important, Murkowski said.

``We understand our past, ourselves and our relationships with our family and community through our language,'' Murkowski said in a statement. ``For Native peoples, language is truly the foundation of their cultures and their identity.''


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner,


Claims Against Tribe Stemming from Horse Roundup Dismissed

RENO, Nev. (AP) _ A federal judge has dismissed claims against a Nevada Indian tribal government over a disputed horse roundup in Washoe County.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du says even if claims the roundup swept up horses that shouldn't have been included are true, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe's status as a sovereign government shields it from legal claims.

Du says a Jan. 17 order to refrain from sending horses to slaughter while the search for Lady, a privately owned horse thought to have been wrongly herded away, continues.

Lady's owner says that in the immediate aftermath of the roundup she begged officials to allow her to search temporary holding pens for her horse, to no avail.

The case stems from an effort by nonprofit American Wild Horse Campaign to recover at least 271 horses in Palomino Valley.


Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal,


DOI and DOJ Team Up for Major Expansion of Tribal Access to National Crime Information Databases

The Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior announced a dramatic expansion of the federal government’s key program that provides tribes with access to national crime information databases, the Justice Department’s Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP).

By the end of 2019, the Justice Department will expand the number of TAP participating tribes by more than 50 percent—from 47 tribes to 72.  The Department of the Interior (DOI) will fund the instillation of TAP Kiosks at three locations where the BIA-Office of Indian Services (BIA-OIS) deliver direct service social services by the end of 2019 and DOI aims to expand TAP access at all 28 BIA-Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) operated law enforcement agencies and detention service centers.  These BIA locations will provide some degree of access to TAP for services delivered to more than 50 tribal communities that currently do not have any direct access.

“For far too long, a lack of access to federal criminal databases has hurt tribal law enforcement—preventing them from doing their jobs and keeping their communities safe,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  “With the Tribal Access Program, participating tribes will be able to protect victims of domestic violence, register sex offenders, keep guns out of dangerous hands, and help locate missing people.  This milestone demonstrates our deep commitment to strengthening public safety in Indian country.”

“I am proud to authorize the funding for the expansion of the Tribal Access Program to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make the future of justice in Indian Country stronger,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney at the 75thNational Congress of American Indians Convention today. “The Bureau of Indian Affairs is proud to grant greater access to these important databases at more locations throughout Indian Country. Performing background checks is a critical step in protecting our precious Native children in foster care, and tribal communities served by the BIA will benefit from access to this extensive public safety tool.”

“Access to information is vital to effective law enforcement,” said Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma and the Chairman of the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee on Native American Issues.  “The Tribal Access Program will enhance and improve the ability of tribal law enforcement officers to serve their communities. The Native American Issues Subcommittee is proud to support the continued expansion of this tool throughout Indian Country.

The Native American Issues Subcommittee (NAIS) is comprised of United States Attorneys with Indian Country in their federal districts. They advise the Attorney General regarding the development and implementation of policies pertaining to justice in Indian Country. The NAIS identified ‘increased law enforcement resources’ as one of four priority areas to improve justice services in Indian Country. Support for and increased dissemination of the TAP was unanimously supported by the US Attorneys at a recent NAIS meeting in Indian Country in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“We at the BIA-OJS look forward to having direct access to these vital resources,” said Deputy BIA Director for Office of Justice Services Charles Addington. “We have waited years for the opportunity to streamline how we access these critical databases and the funding authorized by AS-IA Sweeney will allow  our law enforcement officers the ability to receive the information they need to do their jobs effectively and keep them safe.”

TAP, offered in two versions, TAP-FULL and TAP-LIGHT, allows tribes to more effectively serve and protect their communities by fostering the exchange of critical data through several national databases through the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) network, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), Next Generation Identification (NGI), National Data Exchange (N-DEx), National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) as well as other national systems such as the International Justice and Public Safety Network (Nlets).   TAP enhances tribal efforts to register sex offenders pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA); have orders of protection enforced nationwide; protect children; keep firearms away from persons who are disqualified from receiving them; improve the safety of public housing, and allow tribes to enter their arrests and convictions into national databases.

TAP-FULL consists of a kiosk workstation that provide access to national systems and is capable of processing finger and palm prints, as well as taking mugshots and submitting records to national databases. TAP-LIGHT is software for criminal agencies that include police departments, prosecutors, criminal courts, jails, and probation departments. Both versions provide federally recognized tribes the ability to access and exchange data with national crime information databases for both civil and criminal purpose.  TAP is currently available to 47 tribes nationwide with over 220 tribal criminal justice and civil agencies participating.

For more information on TAP, including a list and map of present TAP-FULL and TAP-LIGHT tribes, visit

For more information about the Justice Department’s work on tribal justice and public safety issues, visit:


Kansas Celebrates 30 Years of Documented Bald Eagle Nesting

Lawrence Journal-World

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ About three decades ago, a remarkable ecological comeback started in Lawrence, local eagle biologist Mike Watkins said.

For decades, Kansas had not documented a nesting location for bald eagles within its borders. But in 1989, a fisherman reported seeing America's national bird in the Lawrence area at Clinton Lake.

``I was skeptical,'' said Watkins, who served as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wildlife biologist at the time. ``Sure enough, a pair of bald eagles built a nest in some timber that had been flooded (in the lake).''

That pair of bald eagles seen in Lawrence was the first the state had recorded since the turn of the 20th century, and the state's population of the majestic bird has only grown since, said Watkins, who now tracks eagles for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

2019 will mark the 30th anniversary of bald eagles making a Kansas comeback, growing from the single bald eagle nesting pair in 1989 to 137 active nesting pairs today, Watkins said. Four of those nests are near Clinton Lake.

``They are likely year-round because they are seen on and off all summer,'' Watkins said of the Clinton Lake eagles.

The bald eagle was able to make a comeback in Kansas because of conservation efforts throughout the country, Watkins told the Lawrence Journal-World .

In the 1960s, the bald eagle was close to extinction because of habitat destruction, hunting, and the use of DDT, a pesticide that poisoned their food sources. The bird was named an endangered species in 1967 and the pesticide was also outlawed, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Shortly after, the populations in the U.S. began to grow again and the bald eagle was officially removed from the Endangered Species Act in June 2007.

Additionally, the choice to leave the timber in flooded Kansas reservoirs also helped the birds, as nests were built in them, Watkins said.

Although the bird is no longer listed as an endangered species, it is still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, a federal law that prohibits the hunting, transportation, possession, sale or purchase of the bird, whether it is dead or alive. The Migratory Bird Treaty and the Lacey Act also provide similar protections for the eagles.

Watkins said the conservation effort was a clear success.

``It's an extremely inspiring story to think that the bird was on the endangered species list and they have rebounded well because of the positive things man has done,'' Watkins said. ``It's a pretty significant achievement to get a population to rebound.''

While eight eagles make Lawrence home year-round, many more may be passing through the area this winter, heading south for the season. Watkins said 2,500 to 3,000 eagles can be seen in Kansas during the winter.

January is considered the best time to view eagles in Kansas, with many state parks hosting events to learn more and to assist in spotting them in the wild.

In Lawrence, The Jayhawk Audubon Society will host the 23rd annual Kaw Valley Eagles Day on Jan. 19.

Watkins will give presentations on the history of bald eagles in Kansas during the event. Other presentations will include the showing of live bald and golden eagles and other animals.

Those who attend the event will also have the chance to see the eagles' habitats on Clinton Lake during field trips in the morning and the afternoon.

The event is free and open to the public.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World,


Indian Casinos Across US Wary of Betting on Sports Books

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Two dozen large-screen TVs showing football and other sports line the walls. There's beer on tap, bar top seating and leather chairs. Chicken wings are on the menu. And at this American Indian casino in the heart of college-football mad Mississippi, you can legally bet on the games.

The sports book owned by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is the first to open on tribal lands outside of Nevada following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, a no-brainer business decision given the sports fans among its gambling clientele.

``We are basically two hours from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and then, we are just an hour from Mississippi State. We have Ole Miss just to the north of that, and we have Southern Miss _ they're not SEC, but they are a player. We are not that far from Louisiana,'' said Neal Atkinson, the tribe's director of gaming.

The book at Pearl River Resort is packed every college football Saturday, but remains an outlier months after the high court opened the door for expanded sports gambling across the United States by striking down a federal ban.

Tribes enthusiastically welcomed the decision in May but since then, the regulatory challenges and low-margin nature of the business have sunk in. Few Indian casinos have an enviable location like the Choctaw and many need state approval to add sports betting to their offerings.

Indian casinos started small three decades ago, but they have grown to be an annual $32.4 billion segment of the U.S. gambling industry. The roughly 475 casinos operated by nearly 240 tribes create jobs for tribal members and profits that help pay a variety of services, including health care and housing.

Some casinos only have games like bingo or pull tabs that don't need state approval. But the majority of them also have state-authorized slot machines, blackjack and other table games, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Many tribes share a portion of casino profits with state governments in exchange for exclusive rights to conduct gambling operations within their states.

To offer sports betting, the majority of tribes would have to renegotiate compacts that vary widely in cycles and the issues covered, though some tribes believe their existing agreements already give them the right to offer the new wagers.

``There's a broad spectrum in Indian Country covering two extremes: Tribal nations that would not benefit at all, and on the other end, tribal nations that would significantly benefit,'' commission chairman Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri said. ``Those are largely business decisions that each tribe will have to make given its own economic landscape and its unique market realities.''

Some federal lawmakers have also proposed regulating sports gambling more widely, adding yet another layer to a complex debate already involving commercial casinos and lotteries, plus sports leagues themselves.

So far, only the Santa Ana Pueblo near Albuquerque, New Mexico, has followed the Choctaw's effort into sports gambling. Neither tribe was required to obtain additional state approvals.

Contrary to popular belief, sports betting is a low-profit business that requires highly skilled employees. In Nevada, sportsbooks last year contributed only 2.4 percent of the gambling revenue of casinos statewide _ dwarfed by the proceeds from table games and slots. The limited payoff has tribal casinos balancing the allure of a Las Vegas-style amenity with the risks of opening compacts for negotiations.

``Tribal leadership is extremely protective of what they have because it's meant so much to us, and there's always a risk of upsetting the apple cart,'' Washington State Gambling Commission member Chris Stearns said. ``Is this going to help us? Is this going to hurt us? That's really at the heart of why you see Indian tribes gently venturing into sports betting. ... In a lot of states, tribes write a check out to the state in exchange for exclusivity. So, any time there's a new gambling product, and you ask the state to authorize it, there is a risk the state will say `Sure, but it is going to cost you.'''

The only sports book in New Mexico, inside the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel, began taking wagers in October. It offers bets on professional and college sports, but not for games involving two public in-state universities.

In Washington state, all casinos are tribally operated. Changing the state's laws to allow betting on sports would require a 60 percent supermajority vote in the legislature or a ballot initiative. Only then could sports betting be added to a tribal-state compact.

In California, where tribes have exclusivity on casino-style gambling, voters would have to approve a change to the state constitution.

Casinos are operated on and off reservations in South Dakota. Before the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe can try to to edge out its nearest competition across the state line in Iowa, South Dakota's constitution will have to be amended through a public vote.

The legislature could choose to put the question before voters or supporters could gather enough signatures to add the measure to the 2020 ballot. If the measure passes, it would open the opportunity for tribes to negotiate their compacts with the state.

Tribal councilman Kenny Weston said a sports book could attract new patrons who may also choose to play games already offered and spend nights at the hotel for big sporting events, like MMA fights.

``Normally, with the brick-and-mortar casino like we have, we attract a lot of older crowds and retired people,'' Weston said. ``I think with sports betting we can bring a different age demographic and different people ... and have the opportunity to do the same that they do in Vegas.''


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Tribe Seeks to Build Virginia's First Casino in Norfolk

Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) _ The Indian tribe that greeted English settlers at Jamestown and claims Pocahontas among its lineage said Wednesday that it hopes to open Virginia's first casino in the city of Norfolk.

Pamunkey Indian Tribe spokesman Jay Smith said the tribe is eyeing about 20 acres (eight hectares) along the Elizabeth River between a minor league baseball stadium and an Amtrak station near Norfolk's downtown. Negotiations are already underway with officials in Virginia's second-largest city.

The Pamunkey announced plans earlier this year to build a $700 million resort and casino in its ancestral region. The tribe says that area includes central Virginia near Richmond and stretches down to the Hampton Roads region, where Norfolk is located.

Robert Gray, the tribe's chief, said in a statement that ``just as this area played an important role in the tribe's past, I believe that Norfolk will play an even more important role in the Pamunkey Tribe's future.''

The Pamunkey were among the group of tribes led by Chief Powhatan in what is now Virginia. Many had lost their lands in the 1700s.

The Pamunkey were among the few tribes that held onto their reservations. It still has about 1,200 acres (485 hectares) outside Richmond.

In 2015, the Pamunkey became the first tribe in Virginia to receive federal recognition from the Department of Interior. Smith said the status allows the tribe to operate casinos without approval from the state of Virginia, which currently has none.

Nearly 240 tribes operate casinos in more than half of U.S. states under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Smith said the games in the proposed Norfolk casino and resort would offer slots as well as the usual variety of table games, including poker and black jack.

The proposed casino and resort project still must be approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Smith said. Among the factors the bureau will consider is whether the tribe is indeed proposing its casino on ancestral lands.

He said the resort and casino would create thousands of jobs and have an economic impact of more than $1 billion a year.

Norfolk sits near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and borders the coastal city of Virginia Beach, the state's largest city.

It's also not far from Jamestown, the first permanent English colony, which was founded along the James River.

Mayor Kenny Alexander said the tribe's interest in Norfolk validates the city ``as an emerging destination for tourism in the mid-Atlantic.''

The Pamunkey may open the state's first casino, but others may not be far behind.

Casinos are currently illegal under state law. But Virginia lawmakers have shown a greater willingness to discuss expanding gambling in recent years.

A businessman who wants to build a casino in southwest Virginia said he's confident about getting approval from the General Assembly, the Bristol Herald Courier reported earlier this month.

Some state lawmakers have also said they're drafting legislation to allow sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can legalize and regulate sports wagering.


New Monument Pays Respect to Tlingit Burial Ground


Juneau Empire

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Clarence Laiti stood in the cafeteria of Sayéik Gastineau Community School — which was built on a Tlingit burial ground — and reflected on times he’s visited the graves of departed relatives in cemeteries.

“You always end up talking to them,” Laiti said. “At least I do.”

On a recent afternoon, the ongoing conversation between the dead and the living was on full display at the school.

In 1956, the city paved over a Tlingit burial ground to build a highway and the school. In 1962, the city of Douglas burned down the Douglas Indian Village to make way for Douglas harbor.

When the school was being renovated in 2012, contractors inadvertently unearthed five graves. Since then, the City and Borough of Juneau has worked with the DIA to acknowledge the past and to try to heal the deep wounds that were caused by previous events.

In the past two years, a Raven totem pole was raised in front of the school and the Tlingit name for the area, Sayéik, was added to the school’s name.

The Sayéik Sacred Site Memorial, which was designed by Tlingit/Unangax multi-disciplinary artist Nicholas Galanin, includes a few main aspects. The focus of it is a ceremonial bronze fire dish, which is symbolic for the Tlingit practice of placing food into a fire to feed and comfort the spirits of the departed.

Just below the fire dish is a light, representing an eternal flame. Below that is a bronze plaque in the shape of a Tináa that explains the significance of the site and memorial. The memorial is built on a granite boulder. There’s a stone path leading from the memorial to the school’s entrance.

In front of the entrance is a large semi-circle of bronze that carries words from the late Tlingit elder Elizabeth Nyman: “You are truly precious, (you and) all the Children of the Yanyèidi, (and those whose names come) from the Taku River. Therefore I want you to see your background, your history, what happened in the past. As long as (I live) — I will not live forever, but those of you who come after will read it. If only you were taken by boat along the Taku River you could write down the whole story in a book.”

Galanin’s work has gained attention from people around the country, and he’s been heavily involved in the healing process on Douglas Island. He was the lead carver on a Wolf totem pole that went up at Savikko Park earlier this year.

Galanin wasn’t able to attend the unveiling ceremony, but many people made sure to praise his work on the memorial. University of Alaska Southeast Assistant Dean Ronalda Cadiente-Brown said it was clear from early on that Galanin was the correct choice for the project.

“He delivered in a variety of ways,” Cadiente-Brown said. “I had such a sense that the work was in the right hands and appreciated that he is now tied to this community both with the poles he was involved with and with this piece.”

The memorial was a collaborative effort between the DIA, CBJ, Juneau School District and North Wind Architects. Representatives from all of those organizations were present at the unveiling, but it was a fairly small ceremony with about 40 people in attendance.

DIA Tribal Administrator Andrea Cadiente-Laiti did much of the moderating during the ceremony, but DIA Secretary Barbara Cadiente-Nelson and Tlingit elders David Katzeek and Paul Marks also spoke at length. Katzeek and Marks, who often team up to speak at important Tlingit events and ceremonies, spoke just before the memorial was unveiled.

They talked about their personal experiences with the school and the area and about how important it is for the children attending the school to understand the significance of the land they’re on. Katzeek spoke at length about the example that the totem pole and memorial are setting, but more importantly he spoke about the example that the people working together to put them up are setting.

“We’re holding each other up, encouraging each other,” Katzeek said. “Our children need to see that. This nation needs to see.”


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire,


Utah School District Eyes Revamped Native American Lessons

PROVO, Utah (AP) _ A Utah school district is working to revamp its lessons around Native Americans to tackle stereotypes.

The Daily Herald of Provo, Utah, reports the Provo City School District has been setting up meetings with schools about curriculum development and questioning sources teachers have been using.

Meredith Lam, the Native American specialist and Title VI coordinator for the Provo City School District, says around 90 percent of the lessons plans about Native Americans teachers have shown her this year have needed to be reworked. She says it's part of the process to give students a complete picture.

Lam says she'd like to see an American Indian history class offered as an elective to the older grades to give students the opportunity to learn the other half of U.S. history.


Information from: The Daily Herald,


White Supremacy Signs Placed on Montana College Campuses

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Signs bearing the name of a white supremacist group have been left on two college campuses and elsewhere in Montana's largest city.

The Billings Gazette reported Monday some signs had a drawing of Uncle Sam with the words ``Thank you, veterans!'' and the group's name, Identity Evropa, in smaller type. The group's triangular logo appears on Uncle Sam's lapel.

The signs appeared at Montana State University Billings and Rocky Mountain College, as well as at some city intersections.

One was placed beside a display honoring veterans set up by the Native American Achievement Center at Montana State Billings. Reno Charette, director of the center, said she hadn't heard of the group but alerted campus police when she learned what it advocated.

It wasn't clear who placed the signs. Both colleges condemned them.


Information from: The Billings Gazette,


Facebook Adds Alaska's Inupiaq as Language Option

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Britt'Nee Brower grew up in a largely Inupiat Eskimo town in Alaska's far north, but English was the only language spoken at home.

Today, she knows a smattering of Inupiaq from childhood language classes at school in the community of Utqiagvik. Brower even published an Inupiaq coloring book last year featuring the names of common animals of the region. But she hopes to someday speak fluently by practicing her ancestral language in a daily, modern setting.

The 29-year-old Anchorage woman has started to do just that with a new Inupiaq language option that recently went live on Facebook for those who employ the social media giant's community translation tool. Launched a decade ago, the tool has allowed users to translate bookmarks, action buttons and other functions in more than 100 languages around the globe.

For now, Facebook is being translated into Inupiaq only on its website, not its app.

``I was excited,'' Brower says of her first time trying the feature, still a work in progress as Inupiaq words are slowly added. ``I was thinking, `I'm going to have to bring out my Inupiaq dictionary so I can learn.' So I did.''

Facebook users can submit requests to translate the site's vast interface workings _ the buttons that allow users to like, comment and navigate the site _ into any language through crowdsourcing. With the interface tool, it's the Facebook users who do the translating of words and short phrases. Words are confirmed through crowd up-and-down voting.

Besides the Inupiaq option, Cherokee and Canada's Inuktut are other indigenous languages in the process of being translated, according to Facebook spokeswoman Arielle Argyres.

``It's important to have these indigenous languages on the internet. Oftentimes they're nowhere to be found,'' she said. ``So much is carried through language _ tradition, culture _ and so in the digital world, being able to translate from that environment is really important.''

The Inupiaq language is spoken in northern Alaska and the Seward Peninsula. According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, about 13,500 Inupiat live in the state, with about 3,000 speaking the language.

Myles Creed, who grew up in the Inupiat community of Kotzebue, was the driving force in getting Inupiaq added. After researching ways to possibly link an external translation app with Facebook, he reached out to Grant Magdanz, a hometown friend who works as a software engineer in San Francisco. Neither one of them knew about the translation tool when Magdanz contacted Facebook in late 2016 about setting up an Inupiatun option.

Facebook opened a translation portal for the language in March 2017. It was then up to users to provide the translations through crowdsourcing.

Creed, 29, a linguistics graduate student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, is not Inupiat, and neither is Magdanz, 24. But they grew up around the language and its people, and wanted to promote its use for today's world.

``I've been given so much by the community I grew up in, and I want to be able to give back in some way,'' said Creed, who is learning Inupiaq.

Both see the Facebook option as a small step against predictions that Alaska's Native languages are heading toward extinction under their present rate of decline.

``It has to be part of everyone's daily life. It can't be this separate thing,'' Magdanz said. ``People need the ability to speak it in any medium that they use, like they would English or Spanish.''

Initially, Creed relied on volunteer translators, but that didn't go fast enough. In January, he won a $2,000 mini grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum to hire two fluent Inupiat translators. While a language is in the process of being translated, only those who use the translation tool are able to see it.

Creed changed his translation settings last year. But it was only weeks ago that his home button finally said ``Aimaagvik,'' Inupiaq for home.

``I was really ecstatic,'' he said.

So far, only a fraction of the vast interface is in Inupiaq. Part of the holdup is the complexity of finding exact translations, according to the Inupiaq translators who were hired with the grant money.

Take the comment button, which is still in English. There's no one-word-fits-all in Inupiaq for ``comment,'' according to translator Pausauraq Jana Harcharek, who heads Inupiaq education for Alaska's North Slope Borough. Is the word being presented in the form of a question, or a statement or an exclamatory sentence?

``Sometimes it's so difficult to go from concepts that don't exist in the language to arriving at a translation that communicates what that particular English word might mean,'' Harcharek said.

Translator Muriel Hopson said finding the right translation ultimately could require two or three Inupiaq words.

The 58-year-old Anchorage woman grew up in the village of Wainwright, where she was raised by her grandparents. Inupiaq was spoken in the home, but it was strictly prohibited at the village school run by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, Hopson said.

She wonders if she's among the last generation of Inupiaq speakers. But she welcomes the new Facebook option as a promising way for young people to see the value Inupiaq brings as a living language.

``Who doesn't have a Facebook account when you're a millennial?'' she said. ``It can only help.''


Online: Facebook translations,


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Tribes Write Letters Opposing Keystone Oil Pipeline

EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. (AP) _ American Indian tribes have written letters to South Dakota's Public Utilities Commission, expressing their opposition to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe and a grassroots group called Dakota Rural Action wrote letters seeking more information about developer TransCanada's compliance with permit conditions.

The tribes say ground-disturbing activity near the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and the Rosebud Sioux Reservation prompted the letter. It says that if TransCanada's actions are found to be unlawful, the commission should order that construction be stopped.

The tribe says the pipeline would run through Great Sioux Nation homelands.

A TransCanada spokeswoman has said previously that its site near the reservation is a pipe yard, one of four being prepared in South Dakota before planned construction next year.


Haskell Foundation Welcomes New Executive Director

Lawrence, Kan. - The Haskell Foundation is pleased to announce that Aaron Hove has joined the organization as Executive Director.

Hove provides key leadership skills and will oversee support services for the foundation's efforts to financially promote Haskell Indian Nations University, an institution of higher learning for members of federally recognized Native American tribes in the U.S.

Aaron earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Kansas, and also earned a Juris Doctorate from University of Kansas School of Law. For 25 years he acted as an attorney for Payless Shoesource; lastly as the Vice President of International Legal, with significant involvement in International operations. During his career at Payless, Aaron developed the business organization skills and integrity that the Executive Director position requires.

As an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Haskell Foundation provides means for other organizations, tribal communities, foundations, agencies and individuals to contribute monetary support to Haskell Indian Nations University.


Oklahoma City Mayor Proclaims Oct. 8 Indigenous People's Day

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt has proclaimed Oct. 8 as Indigenous People's Day, adding the city to dozens around the nation that acknowledge Native Americans on the day known nationally as Columbus Day.

At least three Oklahoma cities, Tulsa, Norman and Tahlequah already recognize the day, but efforts to do the same in Oklahoma City have failed.

Holt, who is a member of the Osage Nation, wrote that arguments over whether to declare an Indigenous People's Day in the city was unfortunate due to the city's indigenous population and that other cities have already done so.

The Oklahoma City Council repeatedly turned down requests for the day in recent years. City spokeswoman Kristy Yager says Holt's proclamation eliminates the need for the issue to go before the council again.


New Culture Center to Honor Shoshone Killed in 1863 Massacre

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ The chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation is on a mission to make sure hundreds of tribal members who were killed by U.S. troops in the 1863 Bear River Massacre are never forgotten with a new cultural center in southeastern Idaho.

Darren Parry said he developed a deep respect for the site from frequent visits with his grandmother.

``She would say that if you're here at just the right time in the evening sometimes you can hear the cries of the little ones for their mothers,'' he said. ``She instilled in me a love for my people.''

Parry and other tribal council members are working with GSBS Architects in Utah to develop the Boa Ogoi (Big River) Cultural Interpretive Center, the Deseret News reported earlier this month.

He hopes the center will teach others about Shoshone history, so they can appreciate it the way he does.

The tribe purchased about 1 square mile (3 square kilometers) of the massacre site for $1.75 million last January, two days before Perry and the Shoshone Nation commemorated the 155th anniversary of the Bear River Massacre. Between 250 and 500 Shoshone men, women and children were killed by Col. Patrick Connor and his federal troops on Jan. 29, 1863.

The site is designed to be minimalistic by being built into the earth.

Michael Gross, a tribal councilman and Parry's cousin, said incorporating the landscape into the design was key. He thinks it will help to foster education and understand his people's story.

``Everything they did was based off the land. That's how they survived. The land was of great importance for a lot of reasons,'' Gross said. ``The design encapsulates everything we're about.''

The Shoshone Nation is also working with the Utah State University College of Natural Resources to clean up the site and return it to the state it was in in 1863, with more willows and vegetation.


Information from: Deseret News,


US House Backs Bill Giving Montana Tribe Federal Recognition

Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ The U.S. House passed a bill Wednesday that would give federal recognition to Montana's Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians following a decades-long effort.

Federal recognition would validate the Little Shell's identity and make its roughly 6,000 members eligible for government benefits ranging from education to health care. The tribe was recognized by the state of Montana in 2000.

Little Shell Chairman Gerald Gray said he was optimistic a companion measure would now advance through the Senate and be signed into law.

``I feel very optimistic. It's the first time we've ever had a House bill come out of the chamber,'' Gray said.

The bill was approved by a voice vote. A companion bill was endorsed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in May 2017 but has yet to receive a vote from the full Senate.

Montana U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, the first-term Republican lawmaker who sponsored the bill, said it became clear to him after his election that the Little Shell had suffered an injustice in being denied recognition.

``This is a big milestone,'' Gianforte said. ``This recognition is really due them through a treaty arrangement that dates back a long period of time.''

Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester issued a statement calling on the chamber's Republican majority to take up the measure with ``no strings attached.''

Both the House and Senate versions would require 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, housing or other purposes.

The Little Shell evolved from a group of French and Indian hunters and trappers affiliated with the historical Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians.

The tribe has been without a recognized homeland since the late 1800s, when 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.

Tribal leaders first petitioned for recognition through the Interior Department in 1978. Gray and other members trace their other attempts back to the 1860s, when the Pembina Band of Chippewa signed a treaty with the U.S. government.

The Interior Department gave preliminary approval to recognizing the Little Shell in 2000 but rescinded the move in 2009. The agency denied recognition for the Little Shell again in 2013.

There are more than 500 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.


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Sculpture Planned for Native American Cemetery to be Moved

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) _ A new sculpture planned for the entrance of a Native American burial site in western Michigan is being relocated after a tribe raised concerns it would disturb sacred ground.

Construction was already underway to place the 16-foot (4.9-meter) granite sculpture titled ``All My Relations'' in the Old Indian Cemetery in Muskegon. The sculpture was crafted by Anishinaabe artist Jason Quigno.

Members of the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians recently expressed disapproval of the decision and advocated for a different location.

Cemetery caretaker Joseph Genia says the cemetery is a sacred place to the Ottawa people. He says placing a statue in the cemetery would ruin its integrity.

City Manager Frank Peterson says groups reached a consensus to find a new location for the sculpture. The new site is expected to be announced soon.


River Raisin National Battlefield Redevelopment Begins

MONROE, Mich. (AP) _ The River Raisin National Battlefield Park in southeastern Michigan is undergoing an estimated $100 million redevelopment to turn the historical site into a tourist destination.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and private partners will fund the redevelopment project in Monroe at the location of the Battle of Frenchtown, an important battle in the War of 1812, The Detroit Free Press reported .

The project launched Monday will begin with the purchase of 20 houses that will be demolished to make room for a recreation of historic Frenchtown and a $20 million education center.

Officials estimate the changes will attract more than 1 million visitors annually, including 100,000 school children. The area had 239,000 visitors last year, said Park Superintendent Scott Bentley. Monroe has a population of about 20,000 and lies 35 miles south of Detroit.

``Fourteen million people live within three hours' drive of the park,'' said Mark Cochran, Monroe development coordinator. ``We've been working on gearing our economy more toward tourism. We've got Lake Erie, the River Raisin, the battlefield and a heritage trail.''

Bentley said the Battle of Frenchtown was an important moment in U.S. history that went on to shape U.S. policy toward Native Americans and led to westward expansion.

``It was the greatest defeat for the U.S. in the entire War of 1812,'' he said.

Native American tribes fought alongside British and Canadian soldiers to capture Fort Detroit before taking over Frenchtown. The Canadian and Native American troops later withdrew from the town. The Native American tribes brought about 500 U.S. prisoners with them during the retreat and killed between 20 to 100 soldiers who couldn't walk.

Bentley said that event led to the forced removal of native populations.


Information from: Detroit Free Press,

Advocates: Ruling Holds Promise for Native American Students


Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ It's being billed as a landmark ruling that could reshape New Mexico's education system and how it gets funded.

And some advocates say Native American students are among those who could benefit the most as the state has been tasked by a district judge to follow through with promises made years ago under New Mexico's Indian Education Act.

Adopted in 2003, the act calls for an equitable and culturally relevant learning environment in schools that serve Native American students.

Regis Pecos with the Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School says the recent court ruling provides a monumental opportunity for tribes to define their vision of education in New Mexico and elsewhere.

State officials plan to appeal, arguing that spending on education has increased. They also say Native American students are now seeing record academic gains.

Solicitor General: Supreme Court Should Hear Crow Case

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ A top official within the U.S. Department of Justice says the U.S. Supreme Court should review a case in which a Crow tribal member and game warden from Montana is asserting his treaty right to hunt elk in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming.

Clayvin Herrera was found guilty of killing an elk in the forest in January 2014. He was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $8,080.

The Wyoming Supreme Court declined to hear his case, saying the issue was decided by a federal appeals court in 1995. That ruling was based on an 1896 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said tribal treaty rights ``are irreconcilable with state sovereignty.'' The 1896 Supreme Court ruling has since been overturned.

The Billings Gazette reports U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco said Idaho and Montana recognize tribal hunting rights and the Supreme Court should resolve the disagreements.


Information from: The Billings Gazette,

Postage stamp to honor Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore 

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) _ Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Michigan will be honored with a postage stamp being released this year.

The illustration features a sweeping view of a sandy beach, lapping Lake Michigan waves and towering dunes for which the park is famous.

The U.S. Postal Service says the Priority Mail Express stamp will cost $24.70.

ABC's ``Good Morning America'' named Sleeping Bear Dunes the nation's most beautiful spot in 2011. More than 1.1 million people visit annually to wander the park's 35 miles of shoreline, climb the dunes, hike forest trails and tour historic structures including former lifesaving stations.

The park also includes the North and South Manitou Islands, both popular with campers.

Its name was inspired by a Native American legend of a mother bear and her two cubs.


Ancient DNA gives glimpse of ancestors of Native Americans

AP Science Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ DNA from an infant who died in Alaska some 11,500 years ago is giving scientists the best look yet at the genetics of the ancestors of today's native peoples of the Americas.

Decoding the infant's complete set of DNA let researchers estimate the timing of key events in the ancestral history of today's Native Americans and indigenous peoples of Canada and Central and South America.

Expert said that while the new work doesn't radically change the outlines of what scientists have thought, it provides more detail and better evidence than what was available before.

The infant girl was buried about 50 miles southeast of Fairbanks, and her remains are the earliest known in the far north of North America, said anthropologist Ben Potter of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He reports the analysis along with others in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature.

The first Americans were descended from Asians, and they reached the New World by way of Beringia, a now-submerged land bridge that used to connect Asia to Alaska. Recent research suggests they followed the shorelines of Beringia and the Pacific Coast as they spread into the Americas by at least 15,000 years ago.

The new paper supports a theory that the migrants from Asia spent thousands of years in isolation, either in Beringea or Asia, before entering the Americas. During that time they developed unique genetic signatures that are now found in natives of the Americas.

The DNA analyzed by Potter and his colleagues came from a skull bone. The infant's remains, along with remains of a fetus, had been uncovered in 2013 in a circular pit that showed signs of ritual burial. The fetus was related to the infant, perhaps a cousin, but contained too little DNA for a full analysis of it.

By comparing the genetic details of the infant to those of genomes from other populations, the researchers were able to estimate the times of key events in the ancestral story of today's indigenous Americans. For example, they calculated that the ancestors completed their split from Asians by about 25,000 years ago.

Ancestors of the Alaskan girl split away from this group about 20,000 years ago. So her DNA allows a direct glimpse of the ancient population that led to today's native peoples, said Jennifer Raff of the University of Kansas, who didn't participate in the study

Much of the research in this area has been based on DNA that tells only about a person's maternal ancestors, she said. A complete genome is more informative and allows scientists to have more confidence in their time estimates, she said.


Follow Malcolm Ritter at (at)MalcolmRitter His recent work can be found at