Pronouns and Tribal Affiliations are Now Forbidden in South Dakota Public University Employee Emails

By MARGERY A. BECK Associated Press

A new South Dakota policy to stop the use of gender pronouns by public university faculty and staff in official correspondence is also keeping Native American employees from listing their tribal affiliations in a state with a long and violent history of conflict with tribes.

Two University of South Dakota faculty members, Megan Red Shirt-Shaw and her husband, John Little, have long included their gender pronouns and tribal affiliations in their work email signature blocks. But both received written warnings from the university in March that doing so violated a policy adopted in December by the South Dakota Board of Regents.

“I was told that I had 5 days to remove my tribal affiliation and pronouns,” Little said in an email to The Associated Press. “I believe the exact wording was that I had ‘5 days to correct the behavior.’ If my tribal affiliation and pronouns were not removed after the 5 days, then administrators would meet and make a decision whether I would be suspended (with or without pay) and/or immediately terminated.”

The policy is billed by the board as a simple branding and communications policy. It came only months after Republican Gov. Kristi Noem sent a letter to the regents that railed against “liberal ideologies” on college campuses and called for the board to ban drag shows on campus and “remove all references to preferred pronouns in school materials," among other things.

All nine voting members of the board were appointed by Noem, whose remarks in March accusing tribal leaders of benefitting from illegal drug cartels and not properly caring for children has prompted most South Dakota tribes to ban her from their land.

South Dakota's change comes in the midst of a conservative quest to limit diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives gaining momentum in state capitals and college governing boards around the country, with about one-third of the states taking some sort of action against it.

Policies targeting gender pronoun use have focused mainly on K-12 students, although some small religious colleges have also restricted pronoun use. Houghton University in western New York fired two dorm directors last year after they refused to remove gender pronouns from their work email signatures.

But some fear the South Dakota policy could signify a creep of such efforts into public colleges and universities.

“Quite frankly, this is the first I've heard of a state university choosing to use branding standards to eliminate what obviously had become a practice of including pronouns and tribal affiliations to emails,” said Paulette Grandberry Russell, president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. “But I'm not surprised, given the current climate we're in.”

Grandberry Russell referred to the conservative push limiting transgender rights and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts as a “testing ground” to see if discriminatory laws will be tolerated.

“It is a steady progression,” she said. “This comes in the form of communications and branding standards. Is that going to be the next frontier in sanitizing the realities of our differences? "

The college faculty advocacy group American Association of University Professors is not aware of any other faculty at a public university in the U.S. being required to drop their preferred pronouns in official correspondence, spokesman Kelly Benjamin said. “Anecdotally I'll say, because I live in Florida and have seen what's happened with all the anti-wokeness and targeting of education here, I know this is part and parcel to a longer-term agenda,” Benjamin said.

A spokeswoman for the University of South Dakota declined to answer questions about whether its administrators or the University Faculty Senate had been consulted before regents adopted the policy, referring questions to the Board of Regents.

Shuree Mortenson, a spokeswoman for the regents, said all six universities under the regents board umbrella were given the opportunity to review the policy, “but ultimately, the Board of Regents made this decision.” She declined to say whether other faculty at any of the five other schools had received warnings about not using gender pronouns, tribal affiliation or other identifiers, but defended the new policy as providing “consistency to safeguard the brand."

Mortenson did not answer questions about whether the inclusion of tribal affiliation in official public university signature blocks had been considered by the regents before adopting it or whether tribal leaders in the state had been consulted.

When the policy was announced to faculty in January, Little said he and Red Shirt-Shaw asked schools administrators how the new policy would impact the inclusion of tribal affiliations.

“It was clear that they had not considered that this would impact Native employees,” Little said.

The U.S. had long tried to eradicate Native American communities and cultures through warfare, assimilation and other means before recognizing tribes' inherent right to govern themselves. Indigenous children, for example, were taken from their communities and forced into Native American boarding schools, which systematically abused students.

Red Shirt-Shaw said in social media posts that being told she could not list her tribal affiliation as part of her signature felt like further erasure of Native people in South Dakota.

“The ability to share my tribal affiliation as well as gender pronouns signals that I am a person who values the lived experiences of others,” she said.

Both she and Little have begun listing their tribal affiliation and pronouns in the body of their emails, which the university currently is allowing.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota said it has heard from faculty and students at the University of South Dakota who are concerned about the new policy. The ACLU is considering next steps to address it.

“Maybe their intent was to suppress pronoun usage in email signatures, but as is often the case with any limitation or suppression of free speech, there's always unintended consequences,” said Samantha Chapman, an advocacy manager for the ACLU South Dakota. “There is also a component here of double erasure. There are plenty of queer Indigenous folks in South Dakota.”


Associated Press journalist Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona, contributed to this report.

Wild Horses to Remain in North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Lawmaker Says

By JACK DURA Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Wild horses will stay in North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park amid fears from advocates that park officials would remove the beloved animals from the rugged badlands landscape, a key lawmaker said Thursday.

Republican U.S. Sen. John Hoeven said he has secured a commitment from the National Park Service to maintain wild horses in the park, though the number remains to be determined. Roughly 200 horses now roam the park.

Hoeven said the Park Service will abandon its proposed removal of the horses under an environmental review process begun in 2022 and will continue to operate under an existing 1978 environmental assessment that calls for a reduction in their numbers.

“They’ve committed to me that we will have a thoughtful and inclusive discussion on how many horses they keep in the park,” Hoeven told The Associated Press. There is no timeline on that, he said.

In a statement, the park said its decision to terminate the review “was made after careful consideration of the information and public comment received during the (environmental assessment) process.” In a text message, park officials acknowledged an email seeking comment but didn't immediately provide one.

Park visitors, much to their delight, often encounter the horses while driving or hiking in the rolling, colorful badlands where a young, future President Theodore Roosevelt hunted and engaged in cattle ranching in the 1880s in what was then Dakota Territory.

“People love horses,” Hoeven said. “And where do you go to see wild horses? I mean, it’s not like an easy thing to do, and most people don’t have horses, and they love the idea of wild horses. They see it as part of our heritage in America.”

Earlier Thursday, Hoeven's office said in a statement the decision "will allow for a healthy herd of wild horses to be maintained at the park, managed in a way to support genetic diversity among the herd and preserve the park’s natural resources.”

The horses roam the park’s South Unit near the Western tourist town of Medora. In 2022, park officials began the process of crafting a “livestock plan” for the horses as well as about nine longhorn cattle in the park’s North Unit near Watford City. Park officials have said that process aligned with policies to remove non-native species when they pose a potential risk to resources.

“The horse herd in the South Unit, particularly at higher herd sizes, has the potential to damage fences used for wildlife management, trample or overgraze vegetation used by native wildlife species, contribute to erosion and soil-related impacts ... and compete for food and water resources,” according to a Park Service environmental assessment from September 2023.

Proposals included removing the horses quickly or gradually or taking no action. Park Superintendent Angie Richman has said the horses, even if they ultimately stay, would still have to be reduced to 35-60 animals under the 1978 environmental assessment. The park will continue to manage the longhorns as done previously, according to Hoeven’s office.

Thousands of people made public comments during the Park Service review, the vast majority of them in support of keeping the horses. North Dakota’s Republican-controlled Legislature made its support official in a resolution last year. Gov. Doug Burgum offered state help to maintain the horses.

The Park Service reached out to the five tribal nations in North Dakota to find out if the tribes want to be involved in managing the horses, Hoeven said. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe indicated interest, he said.

The senator’s announcement comes after Congress passed and President Joe Biden recently signed an appropriations bill with a provision from Hoeven strongly recommending the Park Service maintain the horses. The legislation signaled that funding to remove the horses might be denied.

Chris Kman, president of Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates, said she was in tears when she read Hoeven's announcement. She said she plans to pursue federal protection for the horses and explore potential state legislation.

“If they don't have federal protection, then they're at the mercy of the next administration that comes in or whatever policy they want to pull out and cite next time and try to get rid of the horses again,” Kman said by phone from the park.

The horses descend from those of Native American tribes and area ranches and from domestic stallions introduced to the park in the late 20th century, according to Castle McLaughlin, who researched the horses as a graduate student while working for the Park Service in North Dakota in the 1980s.

Barbie Doll Honoring Cherokee Nation Leader Is Met With Mixed Emotions

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) __ An iconic chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, inspired countless Native American children as a powerful but humble leader who expanded early education and rural healthcare.

Her reach is now broadening with a quintessential American honor: a Barbie doll in the late Mankiller`s likeness as part of toymaker Mattel`s "Inspiring Women" series.

A public ceremony honoring Mankiller's legacy is set for Tuesday in Tahlequah in northeast Oklahoma, where the Cherokee Nation is headquartered.

Mankiller was the nation`s first female principal chief, leading the tribe for a decade until 1995. She focused on improving social conditions through consensus and on restoring pride in Native heritage. She met with three U.S. presidents and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

She also met snide remarks about her surname __ a military title __ with humor, often delivering a straight-faced response: "Mankiller is actually a well-earned nickname." She died in 2010.

The tribe's current leader, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., applauded Mattel for commemorating Mankiller.

"When Native girls see it, they can achieve it, and Wilma Mankiller has shown countless young women to be fearless and speak up for Indigenous and human rights," Hoskin said in a statement. "Wilma Mankiller is a champion for the Cherokee Nation, for Indian Country, and even my own daughter."

Mankiller, whose likeness is on a U.S. quarter issued in 2021, is the second Native American woman honored with a Barbie doll. Famed aviator Bessie Coleman, who was of Black and Cherokee ancestry, was depicted earlier this year.

Other dolls in the series include Maya Angelou, Ida B. Wells, Jane Goodall and Madam C.J. Walker.

The rollout of the Barbie doll featuring Mankiller wearing a ribbon skirt, black shoes and carrying a woven basket has been met with conflicting reactions.

Many say the doll is a fitting tribute for a remarkable leader who faced conflict head-on and helped the tribe triple its enrollment, double its employment and build new health centers and children`s programs.

Still, some Cherokee women are critical, saying Mattel overlooked problematic details on the doll and the packaging.

"Mixed emotions shared by me and many other Cherokee women who have now purchased the product revolve around whether a Wilma Barbie captures her legacy, her physical features and the importance of centering Cherokee women in decision making," Stacy Leeds, the law school dean at Arizona State University and a former Cherokee Nation Supreme Court justice, told The Associated Press in an email.

Regina Thompson, a Cherokee basket weaver who grew up near Tahlequah, doesn`t think the doll looks like Mankiller. Mattel should have considered traditional pucker toe moccasins, instead of black shoes, and included symbols on the basket that Cherokees use to tell a story, she said.

"Wilma's name is the only thing Cherokee on that box," Thompson said. "Nothing about that doll is Wilma, nothing."

The Cherokee language symbols on the packaging also are wrong, she noted. Two symbols look similar, and the one used translates to "Chicken," rather than "Cherokee."

Mattel spokesperson Devin Tucker said the company is aware of the problem with the syllabary and is "discussing options." The company worked with Mankiller`s estate, which is led by her husband, Charlie Soap, and her friend, Kristina Kiehl, on the creation of the doll. Soap and Kiehl did not respond to messages left by the AP.

Mattel did not consult with the Cherokee Nation on the doll.

"Regrettably, the Mattel company did not work directly with the tribal government`s design and communications team to secure the official Seal or verify it," the tribe said in a statement. ``The printing mistake itself does not diminish what it means for the Cherokee people to see this tribute to Wilma and who she was and what she stood for."

Several Cherokees also criticized Mattel for not consulting with Mankiller`s only surviving child, Felicia Olaya, who said she was unaware of the doll until about a week before its public launch.

"I have no issues with the doll. I have no issues with honoring my mom in different ways," said Olaya, who acknowledged she and Soap, her stepfather, are estranged. "The issue is that no one informed me, no one told me. I didn`t know it was coming."

Olaya also wonders how her mother would feel about being honored with a Barbie doll.

"I heard her once on the phone saying, 'I'm not Princess Diana, nor am I Barbie, '" Olaya recalled. "I think she probably would have been a little conflicted on that, because my mom was very humble. She wasn't the type of person who had her honorary degrees or awards plastered all over the wall. They were in tubs in her pole barn."

"I'm not sure how she would feel about this,`` Olaya said.

Still, Olaya said she hopes to buy some of the dolls for her grandchildren and is always grateful for people to learn about her mother`s legacy.

"I have a warm feeling about the thought of my granddaughters playing with a Wilma Mankiller Barbie," she said.

California Unveils Native American Monument at Capitol, Replacing Missionary Statue Toppled in 2020

Associated Press/Report for America

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) __ An eight-foot-tall bronze statue of a late Native American leader known for preserving cultural dances now stands surrounded by trees in a historic park outside of California`s state Capitol building, replacing a statue of a Spanish missionary that protesters toppled it in 2020.

California lawmakers, tribal leaders and hundreds of others on Tuesday celebrated the unveiling of a statue depicting Miwok leader William J. Franklin, Sr., in recognition of the Native American tribes whose ancestral lands are now the grounds of the state Capitol.

"Finally, the California Indian people will have a monument here on the Capitol grounds for all those visiting to know that we are still here," said Assemblymember James C. Ramos, the first Native American in the state Legislature. "We`re here because of the resiliency of our elders and ancestors. "

It is one of several moves that California lawmakers have made in recent years to acknowledge the history of Native Americans in the state. In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a formal apology for the state`s legacy of violence against Native Americans, saying it amounted to genocide. Newsom has also signed laws to promote the teaching of more Native American history in schools and to remove a derogatory slur from sites across the state.

The new statue comes after racial justice protesters in 2020 tore down a decades- old statue of Junípero Serra, an 18th century Catholic priest and missionary who has been criticized for destroying Native American tribes and cultures. The monument of Serra was torn down at a time when protesters across the country targeted statues of historic figures __ including Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia __ whose legacies came under heightened scrutiny in the wake of George Floyd`s murder.

In 2021, Ramos authored a bill that Newsom later signed into law authorizing tribes to plan the construction of a Native American monument on the grounds of the state Capitol.

One of the lead proponents of Ramos` bill, Jesus Tarango, chair of the Wilton Rancheria tribe in Sacramento County, said erecting the monument was not about trying to erase history.

"Today's unveiling signifies the start of a new era here in California at our state Capitol __ one where we stop uplifting a false narrative and start honoring the original stewards of this land," Tarango said.

California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas said he hopes the monument will "cultivate a deeper understanding`` of Indigenous communities and their contributions to California.

Andrew Franklin, a grandson of William J. Franklin, Sr., said the man he knew as "Grandpa Bill" was always a big figure in his life while he was growing up in Sacramento. Franklin, who now lives in Southern California and formerly chaired the Wilton Rancheria tribe, said it was "hard to put into words" what it meant for the monument to be erected.

"We`ve always grown up holding our culture, very high in regard and respecting each other, respecting our culture. That was always huge for us," he said. "This is just very surreal."


Sophie Austin is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Austin on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: @sophieadanna

New Nonprofit to Support Indigenous Artists in Minnesota

A soon-to-be nonprofit aims to support Indigenous artists in Minnesota so that they can become self-sustaining and self-determining in their arts careers.

The artist collective known as Dream Warriors is currently undergoing the transition to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

“Our hope is that the artists we serve will pay it forward by using their gifts to uplift their families, tribes and communities,” said Leech Lake Band member Paul Wenell Jr., who is leading the effort. “We intend to equip Indigenous artists with several tools that will empower them in this work, from workshop facilitation strategies, public speaking skills, and a space to create and showcase their work, to the resources needed to support their businesses, such as website development, photography, branding, and much more.”

Wenell Jr. said the outlook for Dream Warriors is promising.

“We, as artists, have already been engaged in creative community building for years and our nonprofit entity will help us further our work exponentially,” he said. “We know what we want our impact to be and we're blessed to have multiple supporters assisting us in bringing our vision to life.”

Dream Warriors is under the umbrella of The InteRoots Initiative for now. The InteRoots Initiative is a community-led nonprofit that works on roots-up projects in communities.

“Becoming its own nonprofit will further cement and establish Dream Warriors as an entity supporting Indigenous artists to reach their full potential,” said Scott Frank, executive director of Denver-based The InteRoots Initiative.


Dream Warriors is an artist-led collective working to establish 501(c)(3) nonprofit status as a way to uplift the work of Indigenous artists, primarily in Minnesota for now. Their long-term goal is to positively impact Indigenous artists and communities throughout Turtle Island (North America).


InteRoots is a U.S.-based initiative that partners with projects both domestically and internationally. The nonprofit organization works with communities – on their own terms – as they develop and implement sustainable solutions for self-identified needs. For more information, please visit

Maine Calls to Restore 19th Century Tribal Obligations to the Constitution. Voters Must Now Decide

Associated Press

Voters in Maine will be the ones to decide whether to restore long removed language about the state`s obligations to Native American tribes to printed versions of its constitution.

The Maine Legislature gave its final approval on Tuesday to a proposal to restore the language that requires Maine to honor treaties the state inherited from Massachusetts when it became its own state more than two centuries ago. The language has always applied, but was removed from printed versions of the constitution in 1876.

Statewide voters would have to approve of the change to the constitution for it to take place. The date of the referendum has not yet been set.

The restoration of the language to the printed constitution would improve transparency and illuminate Maine`s debts to Native American tribes, said Democratic House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross. The language is not in the official online version of the Maine Constitution either, though it can be read elsewhere, such as in the Maine State Library.

"For decades, the history of the state's treatment of the Wabanaki people has been concealed and disregarded - even in our most formal and guiding documents,`` Ross said. "Transparency is critical to truly have an elected government that decides on how we live, what the norms of our society are, and ultimately who gets to participate."

Lawmakers easily approved the proposal earlier in the legislative session and cast a final vote on Tuesday as the session neared a close.

The language compels Maine to "assume and perform all the duties and obligations of" Massachusetts upon becoming a state, which it did in 1820. It does not make reference to specific obligations.

Lawmakers are preparing to send the constitutional change to voters at a time when tribes in the state are seeking greater autonomy. The legislature voted in June to let most federal laws apply to Wabanaki tribes in a move designed to put them on equal footing with other federally recognized tribes in the U.S.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills opposed that proposal and vetoed it, saying she feared it could lead to lawsuits. Mills also opposed the restoration of the treaty language to the printed constitution. Her office said in testimony that the change had the potential to create confusion.

Tribal groups have urged passage of the restoration of the language and characterized it as overdue. John Dieffenbacher-Krall, executive director of the Wabanaki Alliance, said in testimony that restoration "would make our Maine Constitution more transparent increasing the likelihood current and future residents of this state do understand the obligations of the State of Maine to the Wabanaki Nations."

Indigenous Artists Help Skateboarding Earn Stamp of Approval

By TERRY TANG Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) - Years ago, skateboarding was branded as a hobby for rebels or stoners in city streets, schoolyards and back alleys. Those days are long gone.

Skateboarding, which has Native Hawaiian roots connected to surfing, no longer is on the fringes. It became an Olympic sport in 2020. There are numerous amateur and professional skateboarding competitions in the U.S. And on Friday, the U.S. Postal Service is issuing stamps that laud the sport - and what Indigenous groups have brought to the skating culture.

Di'Orr Greenwood, 27, an artist born and raised on the Navajo Nation in Arizona whose work is featured on the new stamps, says it's a long way from when she was a kid and people always kicked her out of certain spots just for skating.

"Now it's like being accepted on a global scale,'' Greenwood said. ''There's so many skateboarders I know that are extremely proud of it.''

The postal agency ceremoniously unveiled the "Art of the Skateboard'' stamps in a Phoenix skate park as a skateboarding competition was going on nearby.

The stamps feature skateboard artists from around the country, including Greenwood and Crystal Worl, who is Tlingit Athabascan. William James Taylor Jr., an artist from Virginia, and Federico ''MasPaz'' Frum, a Colombian-born muralist in Washington, D.C., round out the quartet of featured artists. Everyone but Taylor was in attendance.

"Over time skateboards themselves have become works of art highlighting artists' creativity, boldness and energy," William Zollars, of the USPS Board of Governors, told an audience of city officials and supporters. "As an American institution older than the country itself, the Postal Service is always looking for ways to highlight and honor stories and histories that are unique to the United States."

The stamps underscore the prevalence of skateboarding, especially in Indian Country where the demand for skate parks is growing.

The artists see the stamp as a small canvas, a functional art piece that will be seen across the U.S. and beyond.

"Maybe I'll get a letter in the mail that someone sent me with my stamp on it," said Worl, 35, who lives in Juneau, Alaska. "I think that's when it will really hit home with the excitement of that."

Antonio Alcalá, USPS art director, led the search for artists to paint skate decks for the project. After settling on a final design, each artist received a skateboard from Alcalá to work on. He then photographed the maple skate decks and incorporated them into an illustration of a young person holding up a skateboard for display. The person is seen in muted colors to draw attention to the skate deck.

Alcalá used social media to seek out artists who, besides being talented, were knowledgeable about skateboarding culture. Worl was already on his radar because her brother, Rico, designed the Raven Story stamp in 2021, which honored a central figure in Indigenous stories along the coast in the Pacific Northwest.

The Worl siblings run an online shop called Trickster Company with fashions, home goods and other merchandise with Indigenous and modern twists. For her skate deck, Crystal Worl paid homage to her clan and her love of the water with a Sockeye salmon against a blue and indigo background.

She was careful about choosing what to highlight.

''There are certain designs, patterns and stories that belong to certain clans and you have to have permission even as an Indigenous person to share certain stories or designs," Worl said.

The only times Navajo culture has been featured in stamps is with rugs or necklaces. Greenwood, who tried out for the U.S. Women's Olympic skateboarding team, knew immediately she wanted to incorporate her heritage in a modern way. Her nods to the Navajo culture include a turquoise inlay and a depiction of eagle feathers, which are used to give blessings.

"I was born and raised with my great-grandmother, who looked at a stamp kind of like how a young kid would look at an iPhone 13," Greenwood said. ''She entrusted every important news and every important document and everything to a stamp to send it and trust that it got there."

Skateboarding has become a staple across Indian Country. In Oregon, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs will reopen a refurbished skate park March 29 thanks to a partnership with pro skateboarder Tony Hawk's nonprofit, The Skatepark Project. Skateboarders on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in eastern Arizona recently got funding from there, too. A skate park opened in August on the Hopi reservation. Youth-organized competitions take place on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Dustinn Craig, a White Mountain Apache filmmaker and "lifer" skateboarder in Arizona, has made documentaries and short films on the sport. The 47-year-old remembers how skateboarding was seen as dorky and anti-establishment when he was a kid hiding "a useless wooden toy" in his locker. At the same time, Craig credits skateboarding culture as "my arts and humanities education."

So he is wary of the mainstream's embrace, as well as the sometimes clique-ish nature, of today's skateboarding world.

"For those of us who have been in it for a very long time, it's kind of insulting because I think a lot of the popularity has been due to the proliferation of access to the visuals of the youth culture skateboarding through the internet and social media," Craig said. "So, I feel like it really sort of trivializes and sort of robs Native youth of authenticity of the older skateboard culture that I was raised on."

He acknowledges that he may come off as the "grumpy old man" to younger Indigenous skateboarders who are open to collaborating with outsiders.

The four skateboards designed by the artists will eventually be transferred to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, said Jonathan Castillo, USPS spokesperson.

The stamps, which will have a printing of 18 million, will be available at post offices and on the USPS website beginning Friday. For the artists, being part of a project that feels low-tech in this age of social media is exciting.

"It's like the physical thing is special because you go out of your way to go to the post office, buy the stamps and write something," Worl said.


Terry Tang is a member of The Associated Press' Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at

Report: 2020 US Census Helped Guide Distribution of $2.8 Trillion in Annual Government Spending

Associated Press

The head count of every U.S. resident in 2020 helped guide the distribution of $2.8 trillion in annual federal spending, underscoring the importance of participating in the once-a-decade census, according to a new report released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

There were 353 federal assistance programs that used the Census Bureau data in 2021 to steer the allocation of the federal funding, up from 316 programs accounting for $1.5 trillion in 2017 when a similar study was conducted, according to the report.

The federal funding is distributed to state and local governments, nonprofits, businesses and households. In 2021, it helped pay for health care, education, school lunch programs, COVID-19 relief, child care and highway construction, among other things.

"The Census Bureau's new, more comprehensive report shows that an accurate decennial census is critical to the fair distribution of federal nondefense spending," said Andrew Reamer, a George Washington University research professor who helped produce the report.

The Census Bureau, which conducts the U.S. censuses every 10 years, doesn't determine how the federal funding is distributed.

The breadth of the programs and the amount of money at stake underscore how some communities can miss out on funding opportunities if they aren't counted. The 2020 census was among the most difficult in recent memory because of obstacles posed by the spread of COVID-19, which in the U.S. coincided with the head count.

Adding to the difficulties were hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, wildfires in the West and unsuccessful efforts by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the census questionnaire, which critics say may have scared off immigrants and others.

Black, Hispanic and American Indian residents were missed at higher rates in the 2020 census than they were in the 2010 census, with the undercount 3.3% for the Black population, almost 5% for Hispanics and 5.6% for American Indians and Native Alaskans living on reservations.

Besides helping guide the distribution of federal funding, figures from the census determine how many congressional seats each state gets and are used for redrawing political districts.


Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at @MikeSchneider

US Tribes Get Bison As They Seek To Restore Bond With Animal

Associated Press

GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) - Dozens of bison from a mountain park outside Denver were transferred Wednesday to several tribes from across the Great Plains, in the latest example of Native Americans reclaiming stewardship over animals their ancestors lived alongside for millennia.

Following ceremonial drumming and singing and an acknowledgement of the tribes that once occupied the surrounding landscape, the bison were loaded onto trucks for relocation to tribal lands.

About a half-dozen of the animals from Colorado will form the nucleus of a new herd for the Yuchi people south of Tulsa, Oklahoma, said Richard Grounds with the Yuchi Language Project.

The herd will be expanded over time, to reestablish a spiritual and physical bond broken two centuries ago when bison were nearly wiped out and the Yuchi were forced from their homeland, Grounds said.

He compared the burly animals' return to reviving the Yuchi's language - and said both language and bison were inseparable from the land. Bison were "the original caretakers" of that land, he said.

"We've lost that connection to the buffalo, that physical connection, as part of the colonial assault," Grounds said. "So we're saying, we Yuchi people are still here and the buffalo are still here and it's important to reconnect and restore those relationships with the land, with the animals and the plants."

The transfers also included 17 bison to the Northern Arapaho Tribe and 12 to the Eastern Shoshone Tribe - both of Wyoming - and one animal to the Tall Bull Memorial Council, which has members from various tribes, city officials said.

Wednesday's transfer came two weeks after U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued a bison conservation order meant to further expand the number of large herds on Native American lands. Haaland also announced $25 million to build new herds, transfer more bison from federal to tribal lands and forge new bison management agreements with tribes, officials said.

American bison, also known as buffalo, have bounced back from near-extinction in the 1880s but remain absent from most of the grasslands they once occupied.

Across the U.S., 82 tribes now have more than 20,000 bison, and the number of herds on tribal lands have grown in recent years. The animals have been transferred to reservations from other tribes, from federal, state and local governments and from private ranches.

Tens of millions of bison once roamed North America until they were killed off almost entirely by white settlers, commercial hunters and U.S. troops. Their demise devastated Native American tribes across the continent that relied on bison and their parts for food, clothing and shelter.

The animals transferred to the tribes Wednesday descend from the last remnants of the great herds. They were under care of the Denver Zoo and kept in a city park before being moved to foothills west of Denver in 1914.

Surplus animals from the city's herd were for many years auctioned off, but in recent years city officials began transferring them to tribes instead, said Scott Gilmore, deputy executive director of Denver Parks and Recreation.

Gilmore said the land acknowledgement statement read out loud during Wednesday's ceremony underscored the historical importance of the area to the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Ute and dozens of other tribes that once lived in the area. But he added those were just "words on a piece of paper."

"What we're doing is putting action to those words for Indigenous people. Buffalo are part of the land, they are part of their family,'' Gilmore said. ''They are taking their family members back to their ancestral home."

To date, 85 bison from Denver have been transferred to tribes and tribal organizations. City officials said the shipments will continue through 2030.

Padilla, LaMalfa Urge BLM to Engage with Tribes under Tribal Parity Act

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.-01) wrote a letter to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) urging them to conduct extensive outreach to Tribal governments as they implement their Recreation & Public Purposes Tribal Parity Act, which President Biden signed into law earlier this year.

Senator Padilla and Congressman LaMalfa’s Recreation & Public Purposes Tribal Parity Act ensures that Tribal governments have parity with state and local governments in participating in the Recreation and Public Purposes Act (R&PP). This existing program previously only allowed BLM to sell and lease certain public lands to state and local governments and qualifying non-profits, often significantly below market value, if those lands were used for recreational use or other public purposes. But unlike state and local governments, Tribal governments were omitted when the R&PP first became law in 1926.

In their letter, the lawmakers applaud BLM for supporting the Recreation & Public Purposes Tribal Parity Act and for recognizing the inequity of not including Tribal governments in the original R&PP. The lawmakers also specifically recognize that passage of their legislation will enable the transfer of property from the Chico State Enterprises to the Susanville Indian Rancheria.

“This law can have a much more widespread impact for Tribal governments in California and across the nation, which is why we write to ask that the BLM conduct extensive outreach to Tribal governments about the opportunities for land acquisition and conveyance under the R&PP,” the lawmakers wrote. “While state and local governments have been leasing and purchasing public lands for recreational or public purposes for over a century, it is unlikely that Tribal governments across the country are aware of the opportunities under R&PP following enactment of our legislation. Conducting this outreach would also help BLM fulfill its trust responsibility to Tribal governments.”

Under the Recreation & Public Purposes Act, conveyed lands have become locations for historic monument sites, campgrounds, schools, courthouses, parks, firehouses, law enforcement facilities, municipal facilities, landfills and water treatment plants, fairgrounds and hospitals. Thanks to enactment of Padilla and LaMalfa’s legislation, Tribal governments will now have the same opportunities as other governments do to use public lands for beneficial public purposes.

Navajo Tech First Among Tribal Universities to Offer PhD

Associated Press

A university on the largest Native American reservation in the U.S. launched its accredited doctoral program, becoming the first among more than 30 accredited tribal colleges and universities across the country to offer such a high level degree.

The program at Navajo Technical University will be dedicated to sustaining Diné culture and language. Diné is the Navajo word meaning "the people" and is commonly what tribal members call themselves.

A celebration is planned on the Crownpoint campus in western New Mexico in April, and the school already started accepting applications for the fall semester.

The offering marks a milestone for the university, which already has more than 30 degree and certificate programs spanning science, technology, engineering, business and liberal arts, Navajo Tech President Elmer Guy said.

Guy told The Associated Press on Friday that he believes the program in which students will receive a Ph.D. in Diné Culture and Language Sustainability will have a profound impact on the future of the tribe's language and culture. He said he's excited to see how students shape their dissertations.

The idea was to create a program that would lead to employment opportunities and effect change for Navajo communities on the reservation that stretches into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

"I thought it would be important to make that connection," Guy said, explaining that it's a step beyond the call by tribal leaders for their people to learn the language and stay engaged with their culture. "Individuals will get a degree and they'll be professionals. You have to make it applicable. By making it more meaningful, people will have an interest in it.''

The effort is paying off. About 20 students have applied so far and will be vying for five coveted spots in the inaugural class, said Wafa Hozien, an administrator who helped with the program's creation.

A collaboration with other academic institutions and community partners, the doctoral program was developed with the help of tribal elders, university professors and linguistic experts. Community-based research and internships will be part of the curriculum so students gain practical experience they can apply in the real world.

Guy said he's hopeful this inspires other tribal colleges and universities to create their own programs.

Hozien said Navajo Tech's program represents a paradigm shift in that learning through a Diné lens - with culture and language - creates leaders who can advocate for their people in the judicial system, education, land management, business, technology and health care, for example.

Guy said the work done by the university to train court reporters to document Navajo testimony and translators to help with reading ballots during election season already has addressed some of the pressing needs within communities.

The possibilities will be even greater as students earn doctoral degrees, he said.

"They will be part of solving problems," Guy said. "These students have energy and creativity, and our job is to give them the tools."

Judge Affirms Placing Massachusetts Tribal Lands Into Trust

BOSTON (AP) _ A federal judge has ruled against a group of Taunton residents who sued the federal government in an effort to prevent the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe from building a casino in the city.

The judge's decision in U.S. District Court in Boston on Friday granted summary judgment to the U.S. Department of the Interior, which had placed 321 acres of land in Mashpee and Taunton into trust. The tribe, which has about 2,600 enrolled citizens, was an intervenor-defendant in the suit.

Although establishment of the reservation returned only a small fraction of the tribe's ancestral territory, Tribal Chair Brian Weeden said in a statement Monday that ``this reservation is crucial to our ability to exercise our sovereign right to self-governance, to preserve our language and culture, and to provide for our people.''

The anti-casino plaintiffs argued in the suit filed in February 2022 that the Biden administration's decision affirming the tribe's reservation was arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful because the tribe isn't eligible for a reservation since it wasn't an officially recognized tribe in 1934, the year the federal Indian Reorganization Act became law. The Mashpee Wampanoags were not federally recognized until 2007.

They also said that Taunton was not part of the Cape Cod-based tribe's historical domain.

The judge's decision, however, said that the ``historical record indicates that the Mashpee have had a robust connection to the designated lands for over four centuries,'' and have called the area of southeastern Massachusetts home for thousands of years long before their first contact with Europeans, including the Pilgrims in 1620.

A voicemail seeking comment was left Monday with an attorney for the anti-casino Taunton residents.

The decision was the latest in a yearslong legal battle spanning three presidential administrations over tribal land and whether the tribe has the right to build a casino.

Plans to build a $1 billion resort casino remain on hold. The tribe in 2016 broke ground on what was to be called the First Light casino, which was to include a hotel and shopping, dining and  other entertainment options.

But the gambling landscape in the region is much different now. Massachusetts has two Las Vegas-style resort casinos as well as a slots parlor, and the state last month started allowing sports betting.

Oklahoma Court Says Kickapoo Reservation Was Disestablished

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday ruled the historic Kickapoo Reservation in the central part of the state was disestablished more than a century ago and no longer exists. The court's decision involves a case in which a citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma challenged his state conviction on four counts of lewd acts with a child.

Attorneys for Aaron Charles Buck, 52, argued that because of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 2020 McGirt ruling on tribal land in Oklahoma, the state lacked criminal jurisdiction because the crimes occurred within the historic boundaries of the Kickapoo Nation. The reservation was located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Oklahoma City near the town of McLoud in Pottawatomie County.

But the court agreed with a lower court's ruling that the reservation had been ceded back to the United States in 1891 in the form of land allotments and cash payments to tribal citizens. Under that agreement with the government, each of the estimated 300 Kickapoos at the time were allotted 80 acres of land and cash.

Buck was sentenced to more than 130 years in prison. His attorney did not immediately respond Thursday to a message seeking comment.

A message left Thursday with the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma was not immediately returned.

Santa Fe Indian School Joins Community Schoolyards Program

Santa Fe New Mexicans

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- Christie Abeyta envisions Santa Fe Indian School as a thriving campus, filled with spaces that foster Indigenous culture, art, language and teachings, something that's closer to reality now that the school has been selected to receive a newly developed schoolyard through a federal pilot program.

``We want to remain in line and in tune with place, as place is significant to Native people. Everything revolves around your place in this world,'' Abeyta, the school's superintendent, told the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The campus' open-air environments _ a community garden, outdoor classrooms with facilities to prepare traditional meals and plazas where students interact, dance and sing together _ are a start, she said. But she said she believes the school community and tribal elders will have even more ideas on ways to enhance the campus as the school joins the Tribal Community Schoolyards Pilot Program, a new partnership between the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education and the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.

Santa Fe Indian School is one of nine Native American schools across the country _ and one of two in New Mexico _ selected to receive the upgraded schoolyard.

Danielle Denk, the community schoolyards initiative director for the Trust for Public Land, said the new program is designed to transform vacant or drab schoolyards in Indigenous communities into vibrant spaces for outdoor learning and play.

The Trust for Public Land has constructed more than 200 community schoolyards in the past 25 years, she said, adding the yards improve community health outcomes by providing space for outdoor activities and climate resilience by reducing the effects of urban heat islands and conveying water to prevent flooding.

Community schoolyards also improve educational outcomes, Denk said, because the outdoor environment offers a stimulating space for learning.

In many places, the outdoor schoolyards also have decreased behavioral incidents. Denk noted one Philadelphia school in which student suspension rates dropped from 30 per year to zero after the Trust for Public Land constructed a new schoolyard.

The Tribal Community Schoolyards Pilot Program is intended to offer the same benefits in tribal community schools, Denk said.

``At the Department of the Interior, we have a solemn duty to honor and strengthen the federal government's nation-to-nation relationships with tribes,'' Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico's Laguna Pueblo, said in late November when she formally announced the program. ``Today's announcement affirms that commitment and will bring increased and much-needed resources to Indigenous communities.''

The program marks the beginning of an effort to shift Native American boarding schools away from their traumatic history and instead create spaces that embrace Indigenous traditions and students as assets rather than deficits, Abeyta said.

The Trust for Public Land and Bureau of Indian Education selected the nine participating schools based on maximizing benefits for local people, Denk said, saying the agencies decided ``when we do this, let's be intentional about where we work to have the biggest impact.''

Sites were selected based on two primary criteria. First, officials used localized data _ including the proportion of the population that identifies as people of color; the percentage of low-income households and children living in poverty; and the number of adults with less than a high school education _ to generate an environmental justice score. Then they generated a health score based on factors like the local COVID-19 death rate, the number of days per week people experience mental unhealthiness and levels of physical inactivity.

These scores generated a short list of schools, from which the Trust for Public Land and Bureau of Indian Education selected the finalists _ a mix of residential and day schools operated by tribes and by the Bureau of Indian Education.

Wingate Elementary School in Fort Wingate was the second New Mexico school to participate in the pilot program, joining schools in South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Arizona and Wisconsin.

Students, teachers, school and tribal leaders and community members will assist in designing and creating the yards, Denk said.

``With tribal and Indigenous voices leading the design, creation and activation of these schoolyards, there's amazing potential to infuse centuries of knowledge into these schoolyards to connect tribal and Indigenous communities to their culture and inspire future generations of tribal and Indigenous leaders,'' Trust for Public Land President and CEO Diane Regas said in a news release.

With assistance from the University of New Mexico and input from students and staff, Santa Fe Indian School officials have planned out their ideal campus footprint, Abeyta said.

Abeyta hopes to see the construction of new walking paths for students with signs offering historical and cultural information, outdoor classrooms that lend themselves to discussions of ecology and natural catchment systems to limit flooding on campus.

Collaboration with tribal leaders and the school community was the most important aspect of the process, she said: ``What do they envision for the build out of our campus? What does the ideal schoolyard look like for a Pueblo, Navajo, Apache student who comes to Santa Fe Indian School? In that thought, there's so much that potentially could be considered.''

The outreach and design phases of the project will double as an applied learning project for students at Santa Fe Indian School, Denk said. Throughout the process, students will create a survey for fellow students, parents, teachers and community members and analyze its results, examine budgetary constraints and learn to compromise.

Fundraising for the nine new schoolyards _ which are expected to cost $16 million _ will be led by the Trust for Public Land and begin in 2023. The trust expects to raise most of the projects' funding through public sources supplemented by private philanthropic donors.

Abeyta is excited about the possibilities.

``The potential is endless. I think that we've done an awesome job so far in doing it for ourselves with limited to no resources. Now that we have funding and resources, it can only get better,'' she said.

Law Protects Export of Sacred Native American Items from US

Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Federal penalties have increased under a newly signed law intended to protect the cultural patrimony of Native American tribes, immediately making some crimes a felony and doubling the prison time for anyone convicted of multiple offenses.

President Joe Biden signed the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act on Dec. 21, a bill that had been introduced since 2016. Along with stiffer penalties, it prohibits the export of sacred Native American items from the U.S. and creates a certification process to distinguish art from sacred items.

The effort largely was inspired by pueblo tribes in New Mexico and Arizona who repeatedly saw sacred objects up for auction in France. Tribal leaders issued passionate pleas for the return of the items but were met with resistance and the reality that the U.S. had no mechanism to prevent the items from leaving the country.

``The STOP Act is really born out of that problem and hearing it over and over,'' said attorney Katie Klass, who represents Acoma Pueblo on the matter and is a citizen of the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma. ``It's really designed to link existing domestic laws that protect tribal cultural heritage with an existing international mechanism.''

The law creates an export certification system that would help clarify whether items were created as art and provides a path for the voluntary return of items that are part of a tribe's cultural heritage. Federal agencies would work with Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians to outline what items should not leave the U.S. and to seek items back.

Information provided by tribes about those items would be shielded from public records laws.

While dealers and collectors often see the items as art to be displayed and preserved, tribes view the objects as living beings held in community, said Brian Vallo, a consultant on repatriation.

``These items remain sacred, they will never lose their significance,'' said Vallo, a former governor of Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. ``They will never lose their power and place as a cultural item. And it is for this reason that we are so concerned.”

Tribes have seen some wins over the years:

In 2019, Finland agreed to return ancestral remains of Native American tribes that once called the cliffs of Mesa Verde National Park in southern Colorado home. The remains and artifacts were unearthed by a Swedish researcher in 1891 and held in the collection of the national Museum of Finland.

That same year, a ceremonial shield that vanished from Acoma Pueblo in the 1970s was returned to the tribe after a nearly four-year campaign involving U.S. senators, diplomats and prosecutors. The circular, colorful shield featuring the face of a Kachina, or ancestral spirit, had been held at a Paris auction house.

In 2014, the Navajo Nation sent its vice president to Paris to bid on items believed to be used in wintertime healing ceremonies after diplomacy and a plea to return the items failed. The tribe secured several items, spending $9,000.

In 2013, the Annenberg Foundation quietly bought nearly two dozen ceremonial items at an auction in Paris and later returned them to the Hopi, the San Carlos Apache and the White Mountain Apache tribes in Arizona. The tribes said the items invoke the spirit of their ancestors and were taken in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

The STOP Act ties in with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act that requires museums and universities that receive federal funds to disclose Native American items in their possession, inventory them, and notify and transfer those items to affiliated tribes and Native Hawaiians or descendants.

The Interior Department has proposed a number of changes to strengthen NAGPRA and is taking public comment on them until mid-January.

The STOP Act increases penalties for illegally trafficking Native American human remains from one year to a year and a day, thus making it a felony on the first offense. Trafficking cultural items as outlined in NAGPRA remains a misdemeanor on the first offense. Penalties for subsequent offenses for both increase from five years to 10 years.

New Mexico U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, who introduced the House bill, said time will tell whether the penalties are adequate.

``We should always look at the laws we pass as not static but as living laws, so we are able to determine improvements that can be made,” she said.

Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, the former cultural preservation director for the Hopi Tribe, said the enhanced penalties are helpful. But he wants to see countries embrace a principle of mutual respect and deference to the laws of sovereign Native American nations when it comes to what's rightfully theirs. For Hopi, he said, the items are held by the community and no one person has a right to sell or give them away.

The items can be hard to track but often surface in underground markets, in museums, shows, and auction house catalogs, Vallo said.

He said Finland, Germany and the U.K. shared intentions recently to work with U.S. tribes to understand what's in their collections and talk about ways to return items of great cultural significance.

``I think if we can make some progress, even with these three countries, it sends a strong message that there is a way to go about this work, there is a mutual reward at the end,'' he said. ``And it's the most responsible thing to be engaged in.''


Fonseca covers Indigenous communities on AP's Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter: (at)FonsecaAP

Scientists Declare 2 Hawaii Volcanoes Have Stopped Erupting

Associated Press
HONOLULU (AP) – U.S. scientists declared Tuesday that two active Hawaii volcanoes – one where lava destroyed hundreds of homes in 2018 and another where lava recently stalled before reaching a crucial Big Island highway – have stopped erupting.

“Kilauea is no longer erupting,” the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a statement Tuesday, followed by a separate one saying, “Mauna Loa is no longer erupting.”

Alert levels for both volcanoes were reduced from watch to advisory.

Mauna Loa, the world's largest volcano, began spewing molten rock Nov. 27 after being quiet for 38 years, drawing onlookers to take in the incandescent spectacle, and setting some nerves on edge early on among people who've lived through destructive eruptions.

It was Mauna Loa's longest period of repose, said Ken Hon, the observatory's scientist in charge.

Lava-viewers in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park enjoyed the added rare marvel of being able to see Mauna Loa's smaller neighbor, Kilauea, erupting at the same time.

Kilauea had been erupting since September 2021. A 2018 Kilauea eruption destroyed more than 700 residences.

Mauna Loa lava didn't pose a threat to any communities, but got within 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) of a major highway that connects the east and west sides of the island.

Hon called the two-week spectacle, which is a typical timespan for Mauna Loa, “my favorite eruption.”

“It was a beautiful eruption, and lots of people got to see it, and it didn't take out any major infrastructure and most importantly, it didn't affect anybody's life,'' he said at a briefing Tuesday.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Talmadge Magno said a one-way route that opened to manage traffic from throngs of people watching the lava would close Thursday.

Magno and other county officials had warned that slow-moving lava could force the closure of Saddle Road, also known as Route 200 or Daniel K. Inouye Highway. That prompted motorists to brace for upheaval from a closure that could add hours to commute times on alternate coastal routes.

“Whatever it is – luck, chance – this is probably the best situation that we could ask for from Mauna Loa,'' Magno said.

For Native Hawaiians, volcanic eruptions have deep cultural and spiritual significance. During Mauna Loa's eruption, many Hawaiians took part in cultural traditions, such as singing, chanting and dancing to honor Pele, the deity of volcanoes and fire, and leaving offerings known as “hookupu.”

Lava supply to a Mauna Loa fissure ceased on Saturday, the observatory said, and volcanic tremor and earthquakes associated with the eruption “greatly diminished.''

“Spots of incandescence may remain near the vent, along channels, and at the flow front for days or weeks as the lava flows cool,'' the observatory's activity summary said. “However, eruptive activity is not expected to return based on past eruptive behavior.”

Lava supply to Kilauea's Halema?uma?u lava lake ceased on Friday, the observatory said: “Potential remains for resumption of this eruption or initiation of a new eruption at or near the summit of Kilauea.”

The observatory will continue monitoring the volcanoes for signs of renewed activity.

Despite the definitive statements, Hon said there's generally a three-month “cooling off” period before scientists consider the eruption over.

But there's been no history of a Mauna Loa rift eruption pausing and restarting, he said, “So we feel pretty confident that this eruption has in fact, paused and is probably over.”

It was unclear what connection there could be to the volcanoes stopping their eruptions around the same time. The volcanoes can both be seen at the same time from multiple spots in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park near Kilauea's caldera.

“So, Kilauea may have been diminishing already and the Mauna Loa eruption may have caused enough physical changes to stop it, or it may have just been headed to stop on its own,'' Hon said. “So we don't have a really good answer for that right now.”

“Scientists will look at data to study the relationship between the two volcanoes”, he said.

Panel Approves Name Change of Colorado Mountain Tied to Massacre


Associated Press


DENVER (AP) _ A Colorado state panel recommended Thursday that Mount Evans, a prominent peak near Denver, be renamed Mount Blue Sky at the request of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.

The Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board voted unanimously for the change. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will weigh in on the recommendation before a final decision by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

Thursday's vote comes as part of national efforts to address a history of colonialism and oppression against Native Americans and other people of color after protests in 2020 called for racial justice reform.

The proposed name change recognizes the Arapaho were known as the Blue Sky People, while the Cheyenne hold an annual renewal-of-life ceremony called Blue Sky.

The 14,264-foot (4,348-meter) peak southwest of Denver is named after John Evans, Colorado's second territorial governor. Evans resigned after an 1864 U.S. cavalry massacre of more than 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne people _ most of them women, children and the elderly _ at Sand Creek in what is now southeastern Colorado.

Fred Mosqueda, a member of the Southern Arapaho tribe and a Sand Creek descendant, said during Thursday night's meeting that when he first realized Mount Blue Sky was a possible alternative, it ``hit me like a bolt of lightning. It was the perfect name.''

``I was asked once, `Why are you so mean to the name Evans?''' he recalled. ``And I told them, 'Give me one reason to be nice or to say something good. Show me one thing that Evans has done that I as Arapaho can celebrate.' And they could not.``

Mosqueda, who has been actively involved in Mount Evans' renaming process, said Evans was in the perfect position as territorial governor to give the tribes a reservation, but ``instead he went the genocide route.''

Polis, a Democrat, revived the state's 15-member geographic naming panel in July 2020 to make recommendations for his review before they are forwarded to the federal group.

Last year, the federal panel approved renaming another Colorado peak after a Cheyenne woman who facilitated relations between white settlers and Native American tribes in the early 19th century.

Mestaa'ehehe Mountain, pronounced ``mess-taw-HAY,'' honors and bears the name of an influential translator, also known as Owl Woman, who mediated between Native Americans and white traders and soldiers in what is now southern Colorado.

The mountain 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Denver had been known as Squaw Mountain. Its renaming came after U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the nation's first Native American cabinet official, formally declared ``squaw'' a derogatory term and announced steps to remove it from federal government use and rename other derogatory place names.

Squaw, which is derived from the Algonquin language, may once have simply meant ``woman.'' But over generations, the word changed into a misogynist and racist term to disparage Indigenous women.

University Returning 1,500 Artifacts to Oneida Indian Nation

Associated Press

Colgate University is returning to the Oneida Indian Nation more than 1,500 items once buried with ancestral remains _ a collection of culturally significant items that includes pendants, pots, bells and turtle shell rattles, some dating back 400 years.

The ``funerary objects'' were purchased in 1959 from the family of an amateur archaeologist who collected them from sites in upstate New York and have been housed at the university's Longyear Museum of Anthropology. Their repatriation ceremony will be held Wednesday at Colgate, which is located on the Oneida's ancestral territory.

``It's making things right again. It's correcting a wrong,'' Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said in an interview. ``The acquisition of these items, it's quite an indefensible practice. They've been absent. They're not where they should be ... on the land back with our people.``

Halbritter said this is one of the largest single repatriations in the state and praised the cooperation from Colgate, which began a series of transfers in 1995 with the return of seven sets of remains and funerary objects.

The 1,520 returned items are called funerary objects because it's reasonably believed they were placed with individual human remains either at the time of death or later.

The items being returned to the Oneidas also include glass beads, ceramic pottery, knives, harpoons and a stone pipe. They were collected by Herbert Bigford Sr. during excavations of eight sites between 1924 and 1957, according to repatriation records Colgate filed with the federal government.

A man by that name was the treasurer in 1952 for the local Chenango Archeology Society, whose members went on ``digging tours'' each summer and met in each other's homes for programs on Native American archaeology, according to a story in the Sunday Press of Binghamton on the society's plans for school presentations.

Some of the repatriated items date as far back as 1600. And more than 900 of the items came from a single excavation site in Stockbridge, south of the Oneida's current reservation in central New York. That includes 286 Wampum, 106 shell beads, 179 glass beads and 68 wolf teeth, according to records.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act requires federally funded institutions, such as universities, to return remains and cultural items.

Nationwide, some 870,000 Native American artifacts _ including nearly 110,000 human remains _ that should be returned to tribes under federal law are still in the possession of colleges, museums and other institutions, according to a recent Associated Press review of data maintained by the National Park Service.

Colgate officials said the ongoing repatriations involving the university are a step toward repairing relationships with Native American communities.

``This is important work, and it will continue until we are confident that all sacred items that can be traced back to their rightful owners are returned,'' Colgate President Brian W. Casey said in a statement.

Some of the items being returned by Colgate had been on display or used for teaching in the past, though the university placed restrictions on their use for those purposes starting in 1994.

Representative of the Oneidas, Colgate and the museum will attend the repatriation ceremony Wednesday at the university.

The items will be safely stored while the Oneidas decide what to do them, whether it's returning them to the earth or some other option, Halbritter said.

``Our ceremonies to repatriate these items will help ensure that our story is going to be told in our own voices,'' Halbritter said, ``and for generations to come.''


AP Researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed.

Tribal Sovereignty Effort Faltering, for Now, in Maine

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ With a Democratic governor and a Democratic-controlled Legislature, Native Americans in Maine saw this year as their best shot at changing a landmark settlement to win sovereignty from the state.

The tribes now reluctantly accept that sweeping change is unlikely to happen because of a threat of a veto by the governor.

Five tribal leaders responded to the Legislature adjourning without taking final action on the bill, saying they didn't have enough votes to override the veto. But they said they're not giving up and plan to continue to press for full sovereignty.

``The evidence is clear that when tribal communities prosper, so do the surrounding communities. Wabanaki sovereignty is good for all of Maine,'' the chiefs said in the statement Tuesday night.

The veto threat represents the latest setback for efforts to alter the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1980. That landmark agreement put Native Americans in Maine on a different path than the other 570 federally recognized tribes across the country.

The law treats reservations like municipalities, subject to state law, giving rise to disputes and lawsuits between the tribes and the state over environmental, fish and wildlife rules.

Native Americans in Maine were put into a squeeze back in 1980. They could either take the $81.5 million deal to settle land claims, and give up some autonomy, or risk losing everything ahead of a presidential election. They chose the deal, and President Jimmy Carter signed the agreement.

Four decades later, on the brink of changing that agreement, lawmakers and the governor put the tribes in a similar position.

The Maine Legislature approved a bill giving control of mobile sports gambling to the tribes _ a lucrative deal _ but the tribes feared they could lose that funding if they continued to press their sovereignty effort.

In the end, the tribes declined to be pressed into a corner like they were in 1980 by trading rights for money. So they declined to provide any guidance to legislative leaders on how to proceed. Lawmakers could either push the bill through and let it be vetoed, or they could heed the governor's request to simply delay further action this session.

The proposal's failure either through legislative inaction or a veto is a bitter pill to swallow for the Wabanaki Nations _ the Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy tribes at Indian Township and Pleasant Point, Houlton Band of Maliseets, and Mi'kmaq.

``Permanent sovereignty restoration remains the legislative priority for the Wabanaki Nations, and it will continue to be our priority moving forward,'' the tribal chiefs said.

Despite their frustration, the tribes said they're heartened by the strongest support they've ever received for change at a time when, on the national stage, the Biden administration is looking to partner with tribes.

Hundreds of people rallied outside the Maine State House on their behalf, and 1,400 people submitted testimony to the Legislature.

The Legislature approved _ and the governor signed _ a bill that lets the Passamaquoddy at Pleasant Point regulate their drinking water, working with the U.S. Environmental Agency instead of state regulators. That bill addresses decadeslong water quality problems.

And the bill that funnels mobile sports betting revenue to tribes further provides a framework for greater collaboration with the state along with some tax relief for tribal members and businesses.

The governor also has signaled she might support an effort to ensure Maine tribes aren't excluded from benefits of future federal laws.

But the immediate future for sovereignty is unclear.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has asked the legislative and tribal leaders to delay the wider sovereignty bill to avoid her issuing a veto that could inflame passions and divide her party in an election year. Mills faces a tough reelection battle against former Republican Gov. Paul LePage. And midterm elections generally are not kind to the party in power in the Legislature.

Tribal leaders said they're taking the long view toward changing the law, and righting a social and economic injustice.

``Time is on our side. Our people have lived with the negative consequences of the settlement act for over 40 years,'' they said. ``Our fight for sovereignty restoration will not end today,'' they said.

Indigenous Representation Lacking on US Corporate Boards


PHOENIX (AP) _ Mary Smith had a plan: She was going to serve as a member of a corporate board. She already had the resume. Smith is an attorney, and she had worked as the chief executive officer for the U.S. Indian Health Service, a $6 billion-a-year operation.

``I think for most people, you're not going to get a call out of the blue,'' she said. ``You have to put yourself out there so that people know that you want to be on a corporate board because there are recruiters that recruit for corporate boards. But, the vast majority of board seats are still filled through networking.''

Smith's planning was deliberate. She ``very intentionally treated it like a full-time job.'' That included learning about corporate governance and board responsibilities and developing a ``board bio'' to highlight attributes boards are looking for, such as experience with regulatory agencies. She also hired coaches to sharpen her pitch.

``I didn't want to look back and say, `Oh, I wish I had done X, Y or Z.'''

Smith has made a place for herself at a table where few Indigenous people have historically been invited.

There are some 4,000 companies traded on Wall Street through the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ. Each of them has professional board members who are responsible for corporate governance. The number of American Indians and Alaska Natives represented on those boards is far less than one-tenth of 1%.

Smith, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, now serves on the board for PTC Therapeutics Inc., a publicly traded global biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the ``discovery, development and commercialization of clinically differentiated medicines that provide benefits to patients with rare disorders.''

She is paid a board fee of $30,659, according to the company's report with the Securities and Exchange Commission. She also is awarded both options and stocks that depend on the company's success and could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Smith says there is more to serving on a board than showing up to four meetings a year.

``That sounds like an easy gig, but, no, it's actually a lot of work,'' she said. There are documents that must be reviewed, a duty of care and loyalty. One poor decision could result in liability.

``So, yes, you have to be very thoughtful and exercise your fiduciary duties to the corporation.''

According to the corporate search firm Spencer Stuart and its annual report index, the total average compensation for a board seat is $312,279. This average reflects actual director compensation, including the voluntary, and usually temporary, pay cuts some boards took during the height of the pandemic. More than three-quarters of boards provide stock grants to directors in addition to a fee.

Serving on a corporate board is a good gig, yet there are a few prominent Indigenous board members. Cherie Brandt serves on the board of TD Bank in Toronto. She is both Mohawk from Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and Ojibway from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Indian Reserve. She was appointed last August. Kathy Hannan, Ho Chunk, serves on Otis Elevator and Annaly Capital Management.

A number of Indigenous people also serve on regional bank boards, utility companies, across the energy sector.

Overall the data reveals movement related to diversity. The 2021 U.S. Spencer Stuart Board Index shows white directors fell slightly in 2021 yet still account for eight of every 10 board members, and six of the 10 are white men.

The index also found directors from historically underrepresented groups accounted for 72% of all new directors at S&P 500 companies, up from 59% in 2020. Female representation increased to 30% of all S&P 500 directors.

``Despite the record number of new directors from historically underrepresented groups, the overall representation of some demographic groups on S&P 500 boards falls short of their representation in the U.S. population,'' Spencer Stuart reported. ``For example, although 42% of the U.S. population identifies as African American, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian/Native Alaskan or multiracial, those groups make up only 21% of S&P 500 directors.''

The 6th edition of the Missing Pieces Report: The Board Diversity Census by the accounting firm Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity is a multiyear study that found public companies are making slow progress appointing more diverse boards. The goal of the Alliance is to have women and minorities make up 40% of all corporate board seats, up from 17.5% in 2021.

And the thing is, the Alliance for Board Diversity says based on the skillset of new board members, women and people of color are more likely than white men to bring experience with ``corporate sustainability and socially responsible investing, government, sales and marketing, and technology in the workplace to their boards.''

In other words: If the new framework is sustainability, especially Environment, Social, Governance, or ESG, then people of color who are appointed to boards are more likely to be prepared for the task ahead.

Native Americans are largely absent from corporate leadership.

The numbers are striking. According to Deloitte, less than one-tenth of 1% of all corporate board members are in the ``other'' category. There are so few Indigenous people in corporate boardrooms that there is not even a measurement. (The Spencer Stuart Board Index simply reports less than 1% for American Indian and Alaska Native representation.)

There are a couple of initiatives trying to change that. The first comes from the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, or NASDAQ, a computerized system for trading stock. In August 2021 a Board Diversity Rule was established that requires companies to use a standard template for board representation and ``have or explain why they do not have at least two diverse directors.''

And in California, a 2020 law requires companies headquartered in that state to have one to three board members who self-identify as a member of an ``underrepresented community,'' which includes Asian, Black, Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander individuals, as well as those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The law allowed the secretary of state to fine companies that did not comply. Then in May 2022 a Los Angeles court struck down the law as unconstitutional; its application is on hold until the appeal process is complete.

But companies are acting anyway. Four years ago nearly one-third of public company boards in California were composed of all men. According to the most recent report from the California Partners Project, today fewer than 2% are. This year two-thirds of California public companies have three or more women directors _ six times as many as in 2018.

``I think it's very important to have representation, especially from the Native American community,'' said Assemblyman James Ramos, D-San Bernardino. Ramos is a citizen of the Serrano/Cahuilla tribe, and is the first California Indian to be elected to the state Assembly. ``It serves two different folds, one to make sure that representation of not only California's first people, but that the nation's first people has a voice in driving the economics of our community, of our state, and of our nation.''

Ramos said it's also aspirational, demonstrating opportunity.

``When you're putting statistics and data together, we hear it all the time: Latino population, right? Statistics and data. African American, statistics and data. And yet we're talking about people of color and diversity and not even mention Native American people or even California Indian people in general.''

There have been a significant number of Native Americans serving on philanthropic boards.

Sherry Salway Black, Oglala Lakota, has served on a number of such boards and says she heard the narrative often that only one or two Native Americans served on private foundation boards. So she did a ``quick and dirty'' survey and found at least 28 Native people serving on 13 private foundations, and nine Native people on the boards of seven community foundations.

One area where there is a lot of Native board action is for Community Development Financial Institutions that are mission driven and focused on community building and access to capital. There are dozens of such lending institutions, and it's been especially important in the agriculture sector.

Carla Fredericks, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, is chief executive officer of The Christensen Fund, a $300 million foundation. She said it's important to be intentional about how board members are appointed.

``This is long overdue,'' she said. ``Even as we've tried to get additional board members for our board, we are certainly aware that while there's incredible leadership experience in Indian Country, there's not a lot of board experience that people have. So it's really important to build that.''

Fredericks said it can be a self-perpetuating problem if boards require previous experience but don't explore translatable experiences.

``We took a broader lens to looking at candidates,'' Fredericks said. ``I also think that we had a really intentional lens to recruit Indigenous people to the board.''

ICT has been building a list of Indigenous representation on corporate boards, government-sponsored enterprises, university boards and major nonprofits, illustrating the deep talent pool already available. When members of Congress, for example, retire or even lose an election, they are often sought after as corporate board members. The process is not the same for tribal leaders who have been managing multimillion-dollar enterprises, especially large tribes such as the Navajo Nation or the Cherokee Nation.

One part of that equation is how boards recruit new members. The report Missing Pieces, a 2021 census compiled by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, said there is an immediate impact after placing women and minorities into key positions, such as on the nominating committee. ``After two years, these boards are more likely to have higher percentages of women or minorities.''

Mary Smith, the Cherokee Nation citizen on the PTC Therapeutics board, said there is a need to expand the network beyond former chief executives into other areas of experience, such as tribal leadership.

``I would love to see more Native Americans on boards. And I hope that some people would start to say, `Yeah, I could do that.' And then try to put themselves out there to be on the radar,'' she said. ``People in the Native community have a lot to contribute to corporate boards.''

Fuel in Water Deepens Native Hawaiians' Distrust of Military

Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) _ A well-known adage in Hawaiian, ola i ka wai, means ``water is life.''

Native Hawaiians revere water in all its forms as the embodiment of one of the Hawaiian pantheon's four principal gods.

The resource is so valuable that to have it in abundance means prosperity. The Hawaiian word for water _ wai _ is repeated in the word for wealth _ waiwai.

So when the Navy confirmed petroleum from one of its fuel tank facilities had leaked into Pearl Harbor's tap water, many Native Hawaiians were not just concerned, they were hurt and offended.

``This has been the most egregious assault on a public trust resource in the history of Hawaii,'' said Kamanamaikalani Beamer, a former trustee of the Commission on Water Resource Management.

Nearly 6,000 people, mostly those living in military housing at or near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, got sick after petroleum-laced water came pouring out of their taps late last year. Residents worry fresh water for broader Oahu also is in danger because the aging tank system sits above an aquifer that provides drinking water to most of the island and has a history of leaks.

The Navy is working to address the problem. But many say it has deepened a distrust in the military that dates to at least 1893, when a group of American businessmen, with support from U.S. Marines, overthrew the Hawaiian kingdom. More recently, Native Hawaiians fought to stop target practice bombing on the island of Kahoolawe and at Makua Valley in west Oahu.

``The military has a long history of poor stewardship of Hawaii's natural and cultural resources,'' Carmen Hulu Lindsey, chair of the board of trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said in an email in response to questions. ``Time after time the people of Hawaii have been left to clean up after the military ravages our sacred lands _ from unexploded ordnance and toxic waste to the loss of cultural and historic sites and endangered species _ without even appropriating resources to finance these efforts.''

For some, the water contamination was the last straw.

The crisis has ``shattered people's trust in the military,'' said Kawena?ulaokala Kapahua, a Native Hawaiian political science doctoral student and one of the activists pushing to shut down the tank facility.

``I think this is really pushing people to the edge because we all need water to live,'' Kapahua said. ``And I think it's a very scary thought for people that their children or their grandchildren may never be able to drink the water that comes out of the tap.''

Navy officials seemed aware of the distrust when they testified to members of Congress in January.

``I understand the deep connection that the people of Hawaii, particularly the Native Hawaiian community, have with the lands and waters of Hawaii,'' Rear Adm. Blake Converse, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said while noting he lived in Hawaii off and on for more than eight years.

Rear Adm. John Korka, commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, also noted his connection to the islands, sharing which church he worshipped in and the Catholic school his children attended while living in Hawaii. ``This is a personal issue for me, and I'm sorry.''

Using 2019 Census data, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs estimates that 3,439 Native Hawaiians across the United States serve in the armed forces, which is 0.8% of the total Native Hawaiian adult population in the U.S.

Many see value in the state's relationship with the military, which also provides civilian jobs that are considered desirable alternatives to service work in the tourism industry.

Native Hawaiian Vietnam War veteran Shad Kane said he is troubled by the contaminated water, but it hasn't tested his faith in the military. His trusty pickup truck bears special Hawaii license plates indicating he's a combat veteran. He plans to transfer the plates to his new Toyota Tacoma.

``Yes, I'm bothered by that, but I also know the Navy has a greater responsibility,'' Kane said. ``The Navy wants to do the right thing.''

The Navy hasn't determined how petroleum got in the water. Officials are investigating a theory that jet fuel spilled from a ruptured pipe last May and somehow entered a fire suppression system drain pipe. They suspect fuel then leaked from the second pipe Nov. 20, sending it into the drinking water well.

The Navy has been trying to clear petroleum from the contaminated well and pump it out of the aquifer. Officials are also flushing clean water through the Navy's water system _ which serves 93,000 people in military homes and offices in and around Pearl Harbor. In the meantime, the Navy put up affected military families in Waikiki hotels.

Beamer, the former water commission trustee, had been calling for the decommissioning of the tanks since 2014, when more than 27,000 gallons (102,200 liters) of fuel leaked from one of tanks.

The Navy ``promised us nothing like this would possibly happen,'' he recalled. ``They would never risk the lives of their own. ... They drink out of the same aquifer.''

After initially resisting, the Navy said in January it would comply with Hawaii's order to remove fuel from the tank facility, which is used to power many U.S. military ships and planes that patrol the Pacific Ocean. But in February, the Navy lodged an appeal in court.

Rear Adm. Tim Kott, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, said in a statement this week that Navy officials will continue to work with, listen to and learn from the Native Hawaiian community.

``We know we have a lot of work ahead of us to gain the trust of the communities across the island, and in particular Native Hawaiians,'' he said. ``We will continue to work tirelessly to restore community trust and the safe drinking water of our families and neighbors.''

U.S. Rep. Kaiali`i Kahele, a combat pilot who serves as an officer in the Hawaii National Guard, has invoked the Hawaiian word hewa, which can mean sinful or wrong, to describe the Navy water contamination. He has also called it ``crisis of astronomical proportions.''

He traces his Native Hawaiian family's roots to a small fishing village near the southern tip of Hawaii's Big Island where there's no running water and residents rely on catching rain.

Elders instilled in him that every drop is precious.

``All life originated through having healthy, fresh water,'' Kahele said.


Associated Press writer Audrey McAvoy contributed to this report.


Crypto Mining Company Building Headquarters in North Dakota

FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ A crypto mining company that aims to use renewable energy announced Wednesday that it plans to make North Dakota its headquarters and hub for all North American operations.

Bitzero said that within three years it intends to build 200 megawatts of data centers in the state and is involved in a joint venture to become an assembly and distribution hub for graphene battery technology. Those two proposals alone could represent up to a $1 billion investment, the company said.

In addition, Bitzero said it will partner with the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation to buy power from the proposed data center to heat the tribe's greenhouse project.

Bitzero is backed by strategic investor and ``Shark Tank'' star Kevin O'Leary. He said that naming a North American headquarters was a ``crucial strategic piece'' for Bitzero. Although Wednesday's announcement was made in Fargo, a specific site has not been selected.

O'Leary called data ``the new oil.''

Crypto mining requires a great deal of energy and many miners seek cheap alternative s like coal at the expense of the environment. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum touted the state's capacity to store greenhouse gas underground and its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

North Dakota ``is emerging as the location of choice for clean energy data centers supported by reliable, affordable electricity produced with environmental stewardship,'' Burgum said.

Bitzero's headquarters will employ up to 20 people, the company said, as well as partner with Three Affiliated Tribes to buy power for the tribe's greenhouse project.

Initiative Aims to Give Medical Training to Native Americans

Minnesota Public Radio News

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) _ Medical student Fred Blaisdell has a few months to go before anyone calls him doctor, but the Oneida Nation tribal member's already learned one lesson around the importance of Native physicians serving Native patients.

During a recent psychiatry rotation at a Minneapolis clinic, he introduced himself to a patient who lit up when she heard him speak Ojibwe.

``After that, the patient really opened up and started to talk about a lot more things that she hadn't really engaged with us before,'' recalled Blaisdell, 27, who's from the Detroit area but chose the University of Minnesota's medical school in Duluth for its national reputation training doctors from Native populations.

School leaders say the need for doctors like Blaisdell is huge and growing in an era of COVID-19 and other health worries. It's led the university to launch a new effort to boost the number of Native physicians and other care workers in Minnesota and across the country.

Last year, nearly 21,000 students graduated from medical schools in the United States. Only 160 of those new doctors _ fewer than 1 percent _ were Native American, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

``It's not just physicians, right? We don't have enough Native PAs (physician assistants). We don't have enough Native nurses. We don't have enough Native pharmacists,'' said Dr. Mary Owen, director of the U's Center of American Indian and Minority Health. ``We tend to work in teams, so it's hugely important that we develop all these different health professions.''

Owen and others seeking to recruit Native students for medical schools say part of the challenge is to create better pathways between two-year tribal colleges and four-year institutions.

``Students have a history of feeling like the university isn't for them. They doubt that jobs are for them, because they don't see themselves in careers,'' said Anna Fellegy, vice president for academic affairs at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet, Minnesota.

``And so it takes a different type of service to (get) the students to just allay some of that fear,'' she said, ``take the mystery out of processes and get the ground firmly underneath their feet.''

The work also needs to start much earlier. In Minnesota, only about 56 percent of Native high school students graduate in four years.

Dr. Arne Vainio, a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe who has practiced on the Fond du Lac reservation for the past 24 years, said he's always encouraged young people to pursue careers in medicine but now he starts even earlier.

``I talk to newborn babies about medical school,'' he said. ``The parents always listen. But I make sure that I'm talking directly to the baby about that. And, you know, let them know they have options. And then when they come in for visits, we talk about that again.''

When young people see him, a Native American doctor, it allows them to envision themselves in the same position, he said, adding that when he was a little kid, a lot of the Native men he saw were truckers. ``And that's all I wanted to be.''

He credits a group of people who always encouraged him and held him accountable. ``They're the ones that derailed my dream of being a truck driver, and I ended up in medical school instead.''

Owen, 56, said her journey to become a physician began when she was a patient at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, in the late 1980s. ``I didn't see any Native doctors or even Native nurses at that time,'' she recalled.

A member of the Tlingit Nation in Alaska, Owen said that played a role in pushing her to go to medical school. ``That anger propelled me, actually _ anger at our lack of representation.''

She went on to earn her medical degree from the University of Minnesota. She then returned to Alaska to serve her tribal community. She came back to the University of Minnesota in 2014 in part to address the same issue she recognized 30 years ago.

Last year, Owen assembled hundreds of Native American health professionals for a summit on the issue. That led to the creation of regional hubs that are working to grow the number of Native health care professionals in specific areas around the country.

That's critical because some areas have more severe shortages than others. For example, she says Indian Health Service facilities in the Upper Midwest have a nearly 50 percent vacancy rate for physicians.

``I think if we can grow, if we can get more Native students from this area, through school, into practice, they're more likely to serve and stay in this area,'' said Owen, who's also board president of the Association of American Indian Physicians. ``We know that Native students like to go to school in areas closer to their homes.''

That includes University of Minnesota medical student Genevieve Bern, who counts Vainio as a mentor. Watching how he interacts with his young patients has inspired her to also encourage young patients to pursue careers in health care.

``That's something that I hope someday I'll be able to have those conversations with Native youth,'' she said.

Bern, 28, grew up in Worthington, Minnesota. She's Native Alaskan, but she said her culture wasn't a big part of her childhood growing up. She's since enrolled in her tribe and started to learn the language, and when she graduates, she plans to work in some way with Native people.

``It's part of who I am,'' she said, ``and it just has always felt like it's like what I'm supposed to give to my community.''

Menominee Actresses Star in New Marvel 'Hawkeye' Series

Green Bay Press-Gazette

KESHENA, Wis. (AP) _ Alaqua Cox was hesitant at first to audition for a role starring in a new Marvel series on Disney+, according to her relative, Lindsay Besaw.

The studio was looking to cast a young Native American actress who is deaf opposite to Jeremy Renner, who plays Clint Barton _ the former Avenger Hawkeye.

Cox, 24, is a citizen of the Menominee Nation and has a lot friends in the deaf community who told her she fit the role perfectly, Besaw said.

Without any acting experience, she took her shot and landed the role in the Hawkeye series currently streaming on Disney+, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.

``Alaqua is an adventurer,'' Besaw said. ``She's traveled the world for her young age.''

The studio also was looking for an actor to play the child version of Cox's character for flashback scenes and the casting director asked Cox if she had any child relatives who look like her.

Besaw received a call from Cox's mom asking if her daughter, Darnell, now 8, would be willing to audition.

``I never thought she would have this opportunity,'' Besaw said. ``She's very quiet and introverted. . I initially said `No, I can't see her doing that.'''

She thought it would be too much stress for her young daughter.

A few days went by and Cox's mom called again, and this time Besaw said they'd ``give it a whirl.''

Cox sent videos to Darnell showing her how to use sign language as her character would have to do.

Darnell made it past the audition and was cast as young Maya, starring alongside another Indigenous actor, Zahn McClarnon, who plays Maya's father on the show.

``It was definitely an adventure,'' Besaw said. ``It took her out of her little shell.''

Darnell's filming was this past spring in Atlanta, and the first episode streamed on Nov. 24.

``There's no way to describe it,'' Besaw said. ``There's an overwhelming sense of pride.''

Back on the reservation, Besaw said Darnell is taking well to her newfound celebrity, as everyone wants to take photos with her.

``She's a little star in her community now,'' Besaw said, describing how everyone is proud to see a little girl from Menominee make it big. ``A lot of people get pretty emotional about it. People get choked up and teary-eyed.''

And she said not only is Cox an inspiration for Indigenous people, but also for those in the deaf community.

Cox also has a leg deficiency and is an amputee with a prosthetic leg, which comes in handy during a fight scene on the show.

Cox's great uncle, Douglas Cox, is the vice chairman for the Menominee Nation. He said the two Menominee actors are an inspiration and a source of pride for Indigenous people throughout Indian Country, not just on the Menominee Reservation.

He said their celebrity helps the Menominee tribe and all Indigenous tribes be recognized and represented.

Cox's father, with whom she was very close, recently passed away and she is in mourning. But Besaw said Cox plans to move to Atlanta within a few months to start filming for a spin-off series called ``Echo,'' with Cox as the main star.

Mississippi State Receives Grant to Return Native Remains

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) _ A new National Park Service grant will help Mississippi State University assess human remains found at a historically significant late prehistoric Native American mound near campus and return them to their decedents.

The $90,000 grant is part of a larger $1.9 million in federal funds dispersed by the National Park Service through 11 grants across the U.S. supporting the transportation and return of cultural items.

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

Located in the Black Prairie region of northeastern Oktibbeha County, Lyon's Bluff is a large Native American mound and village complex a few miles from Mississippi State University.

Throughout the process, the university team will consult with all Native American nations who have cultural and historical connections to Mississippi, said Shawn Lambert, principal investigator and an assistant professor in MSU's Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures.

Lambert said the process will strengthen tribal collaboration and develop a better understanding of Mississippi's cultural heritage.

``More importantly, this project showcases the value of respecting and implementing tribal cultural protocols into archaeological practice,`` he said.

Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures faculty members Anna Osterholtz said students will be able to see the process unfold from start to finish and ``experience the benefits of ethical cooperation.''

Wells Fargo Releases Native American Labor and Economic Report

The jobless rate among Native Americans soared as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to a newly released economic report by Wells Fargo’s Corporate and Investment Bank, a growing population, increasing entrepreneurship and more federal resources could give the community a much-needed economic boost.

As part of the financial institution’s Native American History Month activities, the Wells Fargo Economic Group examined labor market trends and challenges facing Native Americans. Among the findings:

  • The jobless rate among Native Americans living outside metro areas rose to nearly 20%, thanks in large part to service jobs disappearing and casinos in tribal communities shuttering to slow the spread of COVID.
  • The indigenous community stands to gain political clout that can lead to more funding. The number of Americans identifying as indigenous increased by over 27% during the last decade compared to a 7.4% uptick in the overall population.
  • The number of tribal-owned businesses beyond casinos has also been rising. While the gaming industry has been an important source of job creation, there is a recognition that the employment base of the Native American community needs to be broadened.

Approximately two years ago, Wells Fargo created a historic 50-million-dollar fund, its purpose to support America’s Native populations, and Native American service organizations which benefit the community, at large.

Chippewa Cree Tribe Welcomes Bison Return to Tribal Lands

Great Falls Tribune

BOX ELDER, Mont. (AP) _ Hundreds of Chippewa Cree tribal members clung to a barbed-wire fence, cheering and high-fiving as the community welcomed the return of 11 bison to tribal lands.

``They're here!'' Dustin Whitford, the tribe's language preservation officer, shouted to the crowd. Montana Cree, a local drum group, played the Chief Rocky Boy song as the bison were released into a 1,200-acre pasture.

Jason Belcourt, the tribe's sustainability coordinator, hugged everyone in sight. He smiled as he high-fived and shook hands with people in the crowd. Nearly everyone wore masks.

``The buffalo wanted to come home,'' he said Tuesday.

In partnership with the tribe's buffalo board and council, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the American Prairie Reserve, Belcourt worked for two years to return bison (or ``pahskahmotos'' in the Cree language) to the tribe.

The American Prairie Reserve, a nonprofit that promotes conservation and public land access, donated six bison to the tribe, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes donated five. The Chippewa Cree Tribe's buffalo board will care for the animals, the Great Falls Tribune reported.

Bison haven't roamed the Rocky Boy Reservation, home to the Chippewa Cree Tribe, since the early 1990s. Native people used bison for food, clothing, shelter and cultural ceremonies. But in the 1800s, settlers and white traders and trappers killed millions of bison. The American military also ordered troops to kill bison to devastate Native communities that relied on the animal for food.

``There was 40 to 60 million buffalo here, on this land, and there was 40 to 60 million Natives on this land. They wiped out the buffalo and wiped the Indians out, too,'' Belcourt said.

Belcourt said he hopes the bison will restore a sense of pride and identity in the tribal community.

``As (the bison) come back and flourish, so too will our people,'' he said. ``We live in some crazy times. Here in the Rocky Boy community, we're having a tough time: COVID-19, death, suicide, just loss. We're lost because we don't know who we are because years ago, it was stripped _ the language, the culture. So now we have to find out who we are, and once we do, we're going to be all right. And this (bison return) is a big part of that.''

Ashley Young, a member of the tribe's buffalo board, said the tribe hopes to expand the herd and build a visitor center.

``We have big plans. We want to do this big,'' she said. ``Our dream is to expand. From there, it would be OK to slaughter one if we need for ceremonies or to feed our people.''

Young said she hopes the return of bison will transform the community.

``We were taught that buffalo have a lot of power to heal. So to me, I think our community could use some healing and some education about what buffalo mean to us. It's why we're bringing them back. It's part of our culture, and they're powerful beings,'' she said.

About 200 students from Rocky Boy and Box Elder schools attended the event. Organizers said they wanted young people to witness the historic event and feel inspired to learn more about the tribe's connection to bison.

``This is for all of you, our children,'' Whitford said to the crowd. ``This is for the future.''

Sauk-Suiattle Tribe Sues Seattle Utility Over Green Stance

SEATTLE (AP) _ The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe has filed a class-action lawsuit against the city of Seattle on behalf of its members and the public, saying the electric utility's green power claims are misleading and hurting the tribe.

The lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court Friday seeks to stop Seattle City Light from claiming that it's a fish-friendly, green and environmentally responsible utility until Seattle provides fish passage at its three Skagit River dams.

``Until that happens, they are not as green as they say they are,'' said Nino Maltos, chairman of the tribe.

More than 80% of City Light's energy comes from hydropower, which doesn't directly emit climate-warming carbon dioxide.

The city of Seattle is in the midst of a re-licensing process for it the dams. The tribe insists the utility can't claim its dams are green while they block salmon passage on the region's premier salmon river.

Julie Moore, spokeswoman for Seattle City Light, said the utility won't comment on litigation. But she said the re-licensing process ``gives us the opportunity to update the research and determine what additional measures may be necessary to protect fish moving forward. This includes looking at fish passage.''

Native wild Chinook salmon, steelhead and resident bull trout within the Skagit River drainage all are threatened with extinction and are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

FDIC Launches Mission-Driven Bank Fund

WASHINGTON – The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) announced the launch of a new Mission-Driven Bank Fund, a capital investment vehicle being developed by the FDIC to support insured Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). As anchor investors, Microsoft and Truist Financial Corporation will lead the investment Fund. In addition, Discovery, Inc. will join as a founding investor in the Fund bringing the combined initial commitment to $120 million, with additional investments expected.

MDIs and CDFIs are banks, savings banks, and savings associations that provide critically needed capital and financial services to minority, lower income, and rural communities. The FDIC designed the framework for the Mission-Driven Bank Fund to channel private capital and other resources to these institutions, allowing them to amplify the impact of investments in the communities they serve.

“Microsoft and Truist have answered the call to become anchor investors and to assist the FDIC in developing this Fund for the benefit of mission-driven banks and, most importantly, the people and places these institutions serve,” said FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams. “It is our hope that with the commitment of these industry leaders, more private equity investors will join the growing ranks of those committed to building opportunity and prosperity where this support is needed the most.”

“Supporting mission-driven banks aligns perfectly with Microsoft’s commitments to address racial injustice and inequity. The Mission-Driven Bank Fund will enable banks to more effectively manage risk, leverage innovative technology solutions, and directly increase funds to diverse and underrepresented communities,” said Anita Mehra, Corporate Vice President of Global Treasury and Financial Services. “We look forward to the seeing the continued opportunities this will help provide for mission-driven banks and the communities they serve.”

“The partnership with Microsoft and the FDIC, as an anchor investor in the Mission-Driven Bank Fund, is a direct investment in advancing our purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities,” said Truist CEO William H. Rogers Jr. “MDIs and CDFIs play crucial roles serving the needs of minority and rural neighborhoods, and Truist has an established history of partnering with these organizations. We’re extending this commitment through an innovative approach to capital investments and we believe this will significantly enhance these institutions’ ability to provide positive outcomes for our communities.”

David Zaslav, President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery, Inc., said, “Our investment in the Mission-Driven Bank Fund advances the goals of RISE, our global commitment to reducing inequality and supporting empowerment, by providing minority and rural communities with much needed access to capital and resources.  We are proud to be an initial investor in this fund and hope that by joining forces with other private funders, we can drive real opportunity and make a difference in people's lives and in the communities we serve.”

About the Fund

The Mission-Driven Bank Fund is a collaborative investment framework to drive capital investment and other funding to FDIC-insured MDIs and CDFIs that support low- and moderate-income, minority, and rural communities, enabling them to build size, scale, and capacity to in turn allow them:

  • To provide affordable financial products and services to individuals and businesses;
  • To stimulate economic and community development; and,
  • To build opportunity and prosperity.

In designing the framework of the Fund, the FDIC engaged approximately 70 Chief Executive Officers of MDIs and CDFIs and their trade groups as well as potential investors, investment consultants, and philanthropic organizations. The creation of the fund supports the FDIC’s commitment to preserving and promoting mission-driven banks. The FDIC will retain an advisory role to support the fund’s mission focus, but will not contribute capital to, manage, or be involved in investment decisions of, the fund.

Wyoming Memorial Honors Native American Military Veterans

Casper Star Tribune

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) _ Decades before he became an Eastern Shoshone leader, John St. Clair was a soldier fighting in Vietnam.

The draft found St. Clair in 1966, and while he survived the war, he returned with post-traumatic stress disorder, though he didn't realize it until many years later.

When St. Clair and other soldiers returned to the Wind River Reservation, many didn't identify as veterans because of the stigma. They encountered protests and were shunned. Many people assumed that every soldier that fought in Vietnam agreed with the government.

``It wasn't true at all. I was drafted, but we had a choice after we were drafted,'' he said. ``Do we go to Canada, or do we do what we were drafted for? Most of us, especially Native people, went ahead and went to the military.''

Like many Native soldiers, St. Clair's service went largely unrecognized at the time. And for all that time, despite multiple generations of Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho veterans, Wyoming lacked a memorial to honor their service.

On Thursday, that finally changed, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

The Path of Honor, a memorial dedicated to Native American veterans, opened Thursday at the Frank B. Wise Business Center in Fort Washakie, where stones along a winding red path symbolize courage and commitment to living a purposeful life.

Lyle Wadda of American Legion Post 81 spearheaded the project that began in 2008 after the Wind River Development Fund and Post 81 partnered to create the business center. Still, even after the building and memorial's completion, Wadda found himself in disbelief when it was finally dedicated to the public in a ceremony attended by Gov. Mark Gordon, Rep. Andi Clifford, D-Fremont County, and other dignitaries.

Wadda's goal was to create a space where everyone is welcome.

``We accept anyone in this post,'' Wadda said at the dedication ceremony. ``You don't have to be Native American or part of another tribe. Business is open to everyone.''

St. Clair, the chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, pointed to the dedication and bravery of Native Americans who served as volunteers in the Spanish American War and in World War I, before Native Americans were granted U.S. citizenship.

``Major General Lee Gilstrap, who trained 2,000 Natives for WWI stated _ and I'm quoting, these are not my own words _ `the Indian is the best damn soldier in the Army,''' St. Clair said.

At the Wind River Reservation alone, close to 900 tribal members have served in conflicts ranging from World War I to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While Wyoming's first memorial dedicated to Native Americans is now open, there is still more work to be done, said Jordan Dresser, chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council. He's commended the veterans bringing awareness to trauma and mental health within Native communities.

``The fact that a lot of the veterans here today mentioned (mental health awareness), it's been very welcoming and promising,'' Dresser said. ``It shows that it's something to talk about publicly, and there's no shame in it. There's no shame in admitting that you need help.''

PTSD is a difficult subject to talk about for Felicia Antelope, commander of American Legion Post 96 and a Northern Arapaho Tribal member who spoke at Thursday's dedication.

After deploying to Iraq in 2004 _ a mission she openly objected to with her sergeant _ she was injured and left mentally and physically traumatized. Since then, she's learned to live with PTSD and how to talk openly about her struggles.

However, serving in the military was always a dream for Antelope. Her father served, along with most of her uncles. In a way, she almost felt destined for service.

``My parents talked me out of it at 18, so I ended up going to college first,'' Antelope said. ``After college, I decided to volunteer. My parents really didn't say anything then because I had my own life and my own apartment, but they tried talking me out of it again . but they were really happy.''

She graduated at the top of her class, earned sergeant stripes and made it to the Commandant's List by achieving perfect scores in all her training.

Antelope went into the military because of a sense of duty, but she also did it for future generations.

``I think that ties in a lot with the Arapaho,'' she said. ``Because we're always thinking ahead. How can we make this place better for the next generation?''

The company says its plan could be worth $10 billion over time. Profits and money already in the company's coffers would be used to abate the opioid crisis, funding treatment programs and education campaigns.

The value of the deal also includes the value of drugs Purdue is developing to reverse overdoses and inhibit addiction.

A portion of the money would also go to individual victims and their families. Payouts are expected to range from about $3,500 to $48,000.

Ed Neiger, a lawyer representing victims, said ahead of the hearing that he would tell Drain that it's better to approve the settlement plan than to have years more of court battles with Purdue and the Sacklers.

``The plan must be analyzed in light of the alternative, not a comparison to the ideal,'' Neiger said in an interview. ``Five hundred thousand people have died as result of the opioid crisis thus far. If we go the all-out litigation route, another 500,000 might die before we see a penny from the Sacklers.''


Associated Press video journalist Ted Shaffrey in White Plains, New York, contributed to this report.

Tribe Becomes Key Water Player with Drought Aid to Arizona

Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ For thousands of years, an Arizona tribe relied on the Colorado River's natural flooding patterns to farm. Later, it hand-dug ditches and canals to route water to fields.

Now, gravity sends the river water from the north end of the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation through 19th century canals to sustain alfalfa, cotton, wheat, onions and potatoes, mainly by flooding the fields.

Some of those fields haven't been producing lately as the tribe contributes water to prop up Lake Mead to help weather a historic drought in the American West. The reservoir serves as a barometer for how much water Arizona and other states will get under plans to protect the river serving 40 million people.

The Colorado River Indian Tribes and another tribe in Arizona played an outsized role in the drought contingency plans that had the state voluntarily give up water. As Arizona faces mandatory cuts next year in its Colorado River supply, the tribes see themselves as major players in the future of water.

``We were always told more or less what to do, and so now it's taking shape where tribes have been involved and invited to the table to do negotiations, to have input into the issues about the river,'' first-term Colorado River Indian Tribes Chairwoman Amelia Flores said.

Lake Mead on the Nevada-Arizona border has fallen to its lowest point since it was filled in the 1930s. Water experts say the situation would be worse had the tribe not agreed to store 150,000 acre-feet in the lake over three years. A single acre-foot is enough to serve one to two households per year. The Gila River Indian Community also contributed water.

The Colorado River Indian Tribes received $38 million in return, including $30 million from the state. Environmentalists, foundations and corporations fulfilled a pledge last month to chip in the rest.

Kevin Moran of the Environmental Defense Fund said the agreement signaled a new approach to combating drought, climate change and the demand from the river.

``The way we look at it, the Colorado River basin is ground zero for water-related impacts of climate change,'' he said. ``And we have to plan for the river and the watersheds that climate scientists tell us we're probably going to have, not the one we might wish for.''

Tribal officials say the $38 million is more than what they would have made leasing the land. The Colorado River Indian Tribes stopped farming more than 15 square miles (39 square kilometers) to make water available, tribal attorney Margaret Vick said.

``There's an economic tradeoff as well as a conservation tradeoff,'' she said.

While some fields are dry on the reservation, the tribe plans to use the money to invest in its water infrastructure. It has the oldest irrigation system built by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, dating to 1867, serving nearly 125 square miles (323 square kilometers) of tribal land.

The age of the irrigation system means it's in constant need of improvements. Flores, the tribal chairwoman, said some parts of the 232-mile (373-kilometer) concrete and earthen canal are lined and others aren't, so water is lost through seepage or cracks.

A 2016 study conducted by the tribe put the price tag to fix deficiencies at more than $75 million. It's leveraging grants, funding from previous conservation efforts and other money to put a dent in the repairs, Flores said.

``If we had all the dollars in the world to line all the canals that run through our reservation, that would be a great project to complete,'' Flores said. ``I don't think that's going to happen in our lifetime.''

The tribe is made up of four distinct groups of Native Americans _ Chemehuevi, Mohave, Hopi and Navajo. The reservation includes more than 110 miles (177 kilometers) of Colorado River shoreline with some of the oldest and most secure rights to the river in both Arizona and California.

While much of the water goes to farming, it also sustains wildlife preserves and the tribe's culture.

``We can't forget about the spiritual, the cultural aspect to the tribes on the Colorado River,'' Flores said. ``Our songs, clan songs, river and other traditional rites that happen at the river.''

The tribe can't take full advantage of its right to divert 662,000 acre-feet per year from the Colorado River on the Arizona side because it lacks the infrastructure. It also has water rights in California.

An additional 46 square miles (121 square kilometers) of land could be developed for agriculture if the tribe had the infrastructure, according to a 2018 study on water use and development among tribes in the Colorado River basin.

``One day,'' Flores said. ``That's the goal of our leaders who have come behind me, to use all of our water allocation and develop our lands that right now are not developed.''


Fonseca is a member of The Associated Press' race and ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at

Fight over Canadian oil rages on after pipeline's demise

Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ The Keystone XL is dead after a 12-year attempt to build the oil pipeline, yet the fight over Canadian crude rages on as emboldened environmentalists target other projects and pressure President Joe Biden to intervene _ all while oil imports from the north keep rising.

Biden dealt the fatal blow to the partially built $9 billion Keystone XL in January when he revoked its border-crossing permit issued by former President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, sponsors TC Energy and the province of Alberta gave up and declared the line ``terminated.``

Activists and many scientists had warned that the pipeline would open a new spigot on Canada's oil sands crude _ and that burning the heavily polluting fuel would lock in climate change. As the fight escalated into a national debate over fossil fuels, Canadian crude exports to the U.S. steadily increased, driven largely by production from Alberta's oil sands region.

Even before the cancellation, environmentalists had turned their attention to other projects, including Enbridge Energy's proposal to expand and rebuild its Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, the target of protests this week that led to the arrest of some 250 activists.

``Don't expect these fights to go away anytime soon,'' said Daniel Raimi, a fellow at Resources for the Future, an energy and environmental think tank in Washington. ``This is going to encourage environmental advocates to do more of the same.''

Bill McKibben, an author who was arrested outside the White House while protesting the Keystone XL in 2011, said its defeat provides a template to kill other pipelines, including Line 3 and the Dakota Access Pipeline from North Dakota's Bakken oil field.

Describing Keystone XL as ``a carbon bomb,'' McKibben said Line 3 is the same size and ``carries the same stuff. How on earth could anyone with a straight face say Line 3 passes the climate test?''

Enbridge said the cancellation of Keystone XL will not affect its projects, describing them as ``designed to meet current energy demand safely and in ways that better protect the environment.''

A second TC Energy pipeline network, known simply as Keystone, has been delivering crude from Canada's oil sands region since 2010. The company says the line that runs from Alberta to Illinois, Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast has moved more than 3 billion barrels of oil.

Canada is by far the biggest foreign crude supplier to the U.S., which imported about 3.5 million barrels a day from its neighbor in 2020 _ 61% of all U.S. oil imports.

The flow dropped slightly during the coronavirus pandemic but has largely rebounded. Import volumes have almost doubled since the Keystone XL was first proposed in 2008, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said Thursday that it expects no immediate effect on production from Keystone XL's cancellation, but the group predicted more oil would be moved to the U.S. by rail.

A series of fiery accidents occurred in the U.S. and Canada after rail shipments of crude increased during an oil boom on the Northern Plains, including a 2013 incident in which 47 people were killed after a runaway train derailed in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic.

The dispute over Keystone XL and other lines raised diplomatic tensions between the two countries, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adopted a conciliatory tone with Biden, who canceled the pipeline on his first day in the White House.

Canada uses much less oil than it consumes, making it a huge exporter, and 98% of those exports go to the U.S., according to the Natural Resources Canada.

Trudeau raised Keystone XL as a top priority with Biden while acknowledging that the president had promised in his campaign to cancel the line.

Both leaders have taken heat at home over Keystone, with Republicans slamming Biden for shutting it down while construction was underway, costing hundreds of jobs. The project was meant to expand oil exports for Canada, which has the third-largest oil reserves in the world, and provincial officials in Alberta wanted Trudeau to do more to save it.

The White House declined to comment on the cancellation. Spokesman Vedant Patel declined to say if Biden plans to address increased crude exports from Canada or intervene in other pipeline disputes.

His action on Keystone ``signals at least some appetite to get involved,`` but pipelines that have operated for years would be tougher targets, Raimi said.

Winona LaDuke, executive director of the Indigenous-based environmental group Honor the Earth, called on Biden to withdraw an Army Corps of Engineers permit for Line 3 and to order a new study.

``He could stop the project,'' she said. ``Don't ask us to be nice to Enbridge. They're all over our land. They're hurting us.''

The Biden administration has been ``disturbingly quiet'' on Line 3 and the Dakota Access line, said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. He urged the administration to declare both unacceptable.

Fiercely opposed by Native Americans, the Dakota Access pipeline was the impetus for protests that were quashed by law enforcement. The Biden administration has not sought to stop the line, and it's still in court after a judge revoked its permit but allowed oil to keep flowing.

Alberta sank more than $1 billion into Keystone XL last year to kick-start construction. Officials in the province are considering a trade action against the U.S. to seek compensation.

Keystone XL's price tag ballooned as the project languished, increasing from $5.4 billion to $9 billion.

Another question: What to do with pipe already in place at the U.S.-Canada border and other infrastructure along its route.

Jane Kleeb, a pipeline opponent in Nebraska, said state regulators should revoke the permit they approved for a route through the state. Otherwise, she said, TC Energy might try to sell the easements to another company.

Until the state acts, farmers and ranchers will continue to face TC Energy attorneys in court, ``protecting their property from an eminent domain land grab by a foreign corporation,'' she said.


Daly reported from Washington and Flesher from Traverse City, Michigan. Rob Gillies contributed from Toronto and Grant Schulte from Omaha, Nebraska.

Robotic Ship Sets Off to Retrace the Mayflower's Journey

Associated Press

LONDON (AP) _ Four centuries and one year after the Mayflower departed from Plymouth, England, on a historic sea journey to America, another trailblazing vessel with the same name has set off to retrace the voyage.

This Mayflower, though, is a sleek, modern robotic ship that is carrying no human crew or passengers. It's being piloted by sophisticated artificial intelligence technology for a trans-Atlantic crossing that could take up to three weeks, in a project aimed at revolutionizing marine research.

IBM, which built the ship with nonprofit marine research organization ProMare, confirmed the Mayflower Autonomous Ship began its trip early Tuesday.

Charting the path of its 1620 namesake, the Mayflower is set to land at Provincetown on Cape Cod before making its way to Plymouth, Massachusetts. If successful, it would be the largest autonomous vessel to cross the Atlantic.

The new Mayflower's journey was originally scheduled for last year, part of 400th anniversary commemorations of the original ship's voyage carrying Pilgrim settlers to New England. Those commemorations were set to involve the British, Americans, Dutch _ and the Wampanoag people on whose territory the settlers landed, and who had been marginalized on past anniversaries.

The Mayflower project aims to usher in a new age for automated research ships. Its designers hope it will be the first in a new generation of high-tech vessels that can explore ocean regions that are too difficult or dangerous for people to go to.

The 50-foot (15-meter) trimaran, propelled by a solar-powered hybrid electric motor, bristles with artificial intelligence-powered cameras and dozens of onboard sensors that will collect data on ocean acidification, microplastics and marine mammal conservation.

Its launch has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, and more recently, bad weather throughout May, IBM spokesman Jonathan Batty said.

But Batty said the delay allowed for the fitting of a unique feature on the ship: an electric ``tongue'' that can provide instant analysis of the ocean's chemistry, called Hypertaste.

``It's a brand new piece of equipment that's never been created before,'' Batty said.

The cutting-edge, 1 million pound ($1.3 million) ship could take up to three weeks to voyage across the North Atlantic, if forecasts for good weather hold up.

The ship is also carrying mementos from people at either end of the journey, such as rocks, personal photos, and books. People can follow its journey online.

Nominee to Oversee Indigenous Affairs has Widespread Support

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ President Joe Biden's nominee to oversee Indigenous affairs at the Interior Department said Wednesday he won't impede tribes as they seek to improve infrastructure, public safety and the economy on their lands.

Bryan Newland appeared before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, where he received widespread support to become assistant secretary for Indian Affairs. Tribes, too, have endorsed him as someone who is well-versed in the issues they face and as a tribal advocate.

Newland said the work will require collaboration across federal agencies, driven by tribes. He recounted how federal policies and laws impacted his childhood and his path to becoming chief judge in the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan and being elected tribal president.

``I know the first-hand connection between public service and the lives of others,'' he said. ``When you live with the people you serve, you can't escape that connection.''

If confirmed by the full Senate, Newland would be responsible for maintaining the political relationship that 574 federally recognized tribes have with the federal government. Leaders of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Office of Indian Gaming and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education would report to him.

Newland currently serves as principal deputy assistant secretary at the Interior Department and served in the agency during the Obama administration. In the new role, he would advise Secretary Deb Haaland broadly on tribes.

Senators asked Newland to ensure the Interior Department would respond with urgency to an epidemic of missing and slain Native Americans, preserve tribes' rights to develop oil and gas, expand broadband, help seek funding for tribal water settlements and keep in mind that not all Indigenous groups are similar in structure, culture and economics, including Native Hawaiians.

``The job is not an easy one,'' said Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the vice-chair of the committee.

Some tribes have been frustrated over the years at the lack of funding for tribal police and the dozens of Bureau of Indian Education schools that are among the worst-performing in the nation, along with the bureaucracy in getting a home or road improvements on reservations.

Newland said the Interior Department is starting to look at what could be the root of the police shortage, whether it be the challenges of the job or the pay.

Tribes and tribal organizations overwhelmingly supported Newland's nomination, citing his experience, diplomacy and expertise in federal law regarding Native Americans. They called on the Senate to swiftly confirm him.

``At a time when America is reckoning with its past, Mr. Newland is the right person to meet this moment and deliver meaningful change for Indian Country,'' one letter read.

Monument to Slain Shoshone Chief Re-Dedicated in Harrisville


HARRISVILLE, Utah (AP) _ The smell of burning sage wafted over a crowd of around 100 people gathered on Harrisville Road as Darren Parry, the former chairman of the Northwestern Band of Shoshone, invoked a blessing: ``Oh Great Spirit ... let us speak to each other today and always with medicine words.''

Representing his tribe, Parry was charged with unveiling a refurbished monument to slain Northwestern Shoshone Chief Terikee alongside a descendant of the man who is said to have killed him, the Standard-Examiner reported.

Over 170 years ago, in a cornfield near what is now Highway 89, Urban Stewart, a pioneer settler, shot Terikee. The chief was returning home from a visit with Lorrin Farr, another Mormon pioneer and the first mayor of Ogden. The rest of the story is unclear, though there are conflicting accounts describing the moments that led up to the killing.

A rededication of the monument commemorating Terikee and the circumstances under which he was killed was organized by Harrisville City, in partnership with the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation and the Weber County Heritage Foundation.

The original monument _ a large boulder with a plaque on it _ was put in place in 2010 by Harrisville City Councilman Max Jackson, along with a couple of others. Jackson said he and some neighbors were irrigating farm fields when they began talking about what happened to Terikee.

``If we don't do something to preserve that history, it's just going to get forgotten,'' Jackson said. ``So we set out to put this monument together.''

Over the years, the plaque faded and was marked with indents from BB bullets. The revamped monument has a new bronze plaque to match those on monuments to pioneer settlers in the surrounding area.

Harrisville, for its part, also donated a painting of Stewart standing over Terikee's body, which Jackson described as ``gruesome,'' to the Northwestern Band of Shoshone. It will be housed in a museum near the Bear River Massacre site.

''(History) always offers us a way to move forward, especially in a circumstance like this with the Stewart family, with this community, to move forward in a way that connects us not in the prettiest of ways, but to move forward to a new relationship,'' Parry said.

He continued, saying it is a relationship that will be based on respect _ ``respect for the truth and what happened in that past moment, because that's when you get the possibility for reconciliation, and that's why we're here today.''

Stewart's great-great-grandson, Stewart Cowley, traveled from Grover to speak at the event. He talked about some of his forebears' journal entries and what happened to him following the killing.

``He realized I can't stay here, that just would not be good for the situation,'' Cowley said. ``So he made arrangements for his wife and his two small children and then he quickly left.''

Not long after the incident, Stewart's wife left with one of his daughters and moved to California. He later married four other wives and had a total of 33 children.

At one point, Stewart was called by Brigham Young to serve Native Americans in what is present day Nevada as part of the White Mountain Mission _ a proposed mission that never came to fruition. He moved around several times, eventually settling in Grover.

``Knowing what we know now, it's easy to say that it was a mistake for Urban Van Stewart and his co-worker to fire shots when they heard rustling in the corn field,'' Cowley said. ``I believe that in hindsight, Urban Van would agree.''

One of the factors that led to the killing, Cowley held, was the difficult position white settlers put Native Americans in by moving onto their land. He said it created tension and excluded Indigenous people in a way they shouldn't have been.

``I think the failure to think of the native people, their way of life, their needs, was certainly not fair in the way all of the settlement in this area played out,'' Cowley said.

Parry said he's grateful for the efforts to reach out to the tribe, talk about what happened and work toward healing, as well as the large crowd of people who attended _ some of whom live Harrisville, and others who drove longer distances to get there.

``My grandmother always told me, `Darren, no one has ever wanted to hear our story. One day you will have to make them listen,' and I don't feel like I've had to make anybody listen,'' Parry said. ``I think the time's right, I think it's time we come together and hear each other's stories.''

Indiana Abstract Art Exhibit Inspired by Rorschach Inkblots



TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) _ What might this be?

That's a basic question asked of people taking a Rorschach inkblot test.

The same question could be asked for the Psychodiagnostik exhibit on display through May 9 at the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute.

Psychodiagnostik celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Rorschach Test by presenting abstract art in the Swope's permanent collection.

While the works in the exhibit are not actual inkblots from the test, they are abstract and ask the observer what can be seen in the art.

``After 100 years of use, the Rorschach test is still one of the most researched measures of personality,'' said Edward Trover, the Swope's curator of collections and exhibitions.

``The inkblots are abstract paintings in their own right. Using the framework of the test, expressing what you see in other works of abstract art can show more of yourself than your conscious self can see, in turn giving better insights into underlying motivations of your current issues and thoughts.''

The test was created by Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach and released in 1921 in his book ``Psychodiagnostik.'' The book contained the results of Rorschach studies on patients, and 10 inkblot cards became the foundation of that test.

Dr. Elizabeth O'Laughlin, a licensed psychologist and professor at Indiana State University, has been teaching a course on the Rorschach test since 1995. It remains a valuable assessment tool for people with personality disorders, she said.

O'Laughlin led an online presentation about the test in February, and shared how the Swope exhibit relates to elements of the test.

A booklet created by Trover explains elements of the exhibit, and how the test is administered. It also contains a brief biography of Rorschach and his work on the test.

Trover said the exhibit was curated because the inkblot test has become a cultural icon. He selected abstract works that could apply the properties of the Rorschach analysis.

``It's just another angle of looking at art, through another lens,'' Trover said.

The Swope Art Museum is open noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

For more information, visit

US-Opioid Crisis-Purdue - Advocates, Some AGs Wary of Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Plan

Associated Press

Some state attorneys general and opioid addiction activists pushed back Tuesday against a settlement offer from OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, saying it didn't include enough money and goes too far in protecting the company and family members who own it from future liability.

A group of nearly half the state attorneys general said it was disappointed in the plan Purdue filed late Monday night in federal bankruptcy court and some said they would seek changes. The lukewarm reaction from them and others raised doubts about how soon the company could emerge from bankruptcy and begin to compensate victims.

``We think it's a step in the right direction, but we've got a long way to go,'' said Joe Rice, one of the lead lawyers representing local governments that have sued Purdue and other companies over the toll of opioids.

The $10 billion plan calls for turning the Connecticut-based pharmaceutical giant into a new company, with its profits going toward efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Members of the Sackler family who own Purdue would contribute about $4.3 billion.

A new public health-oriented arm of the transformed company would produce addiction treatment and overdose antidote drugs, and a trove of company documents would be made public.

Most of the money would go to trusts that would distribute it to state and local governments. They would be allowed to use it only on initiatives that address the opioid crisis, which has contributed to more than 470,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, a Republican, offered only tentative support Tuesday for Purdue's plan. He said details remain to be ironed out on exactly how much money will go to state and local governments.

``While the Purdue Pharma plan filing represents a significant step toward providing crucial opioid abatement resources, Tennessee's support is still contingent on remaining unresolved issues,'' he said.

Some activists whose families have been hit hard by opioid addiction are upset about a provision of the plan that would prohibit lawsuits over opioid claims against the company, its owners and others, though protections like this are common in some areas of law, such as class-action cases. The list of who would be shielded from litigation over the toll of opioids was still in the works and not included.

Cynthia Munger, of Wayne, Pennsylvania, said Purdue's plan is too focused on providing legal protections for members of the Sackler family. Her son is in recovery from an addiction that began more than a decade ago when he was prescribed OxyContin for a shoulder injury as a high school baseball player,

``The bankruptcy plan is a complete travesty!'' she wrote in an email Tuesday.

Purdue has been negotiating its future through bankruptcy court for a year and a half with state and local governments, Native American tribes, groups representing individuals harmed directly by opioids and others. When it filed its reorganization plan late Monday night, Purdue said it has support from many of those interests.

A group representing victims in bankruptcy court is among those agreeing to the plan.

``Today marks an important step toward providing help to those who suffer from addiction,'' members of the Sackler family said in a statement. ``And we hope this proposed resolution will signal the beginning of a far-reaching effort to deliver assistance where it is needed.''

One of the major changes since Purdue sought bankruptcy protection in September 2019 is that it is now backing a fund to make payments to individuals harmed previously by opioids. Under the plan, victims and their families would share a pool of $700 million to $750 million. Checks would range from $3,500, which most children who were born in opioid withdrawal would receive, to $48,000 for survivors of those whose deaths were linked to OxyContin.

Scott Bickford, a lawyer representing the children, said he opposes the plan filed Monday because it does not spell out the process for determining which of his clients and other victims would qualify for payments.

``They say, `We're not going to tell you who's eligible and who qualifies,''' Bickford said. ``That's fundamentally unfair.''

State attorneys general have long been divided over whether to support Purdue's plans, with nearly all the Republicans in favor and nearly all Democrats opposed.

On a Facebook Live video Tuesday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, said the payment from Sackler family members was too little. She said it's possible the family would emerge with more money because of their extended payment schedule of up to 10 years.

``They shouldn't be allowed to keep their OxyContin fortune and walk away from this richer than they already are today,`` Healey said.

In recent letters to a congressional committee, Sackler family members said those who previously served on Purdue's board of directors had combined net assets of $1.1 billion. That's just a fraction of the $12 billion to $13 billion family members received in transfers from the company over the years, according to earlier court filings. A lawyer said much of the transferred amount was consumed by taxes and reinvested in the company.

Healey said she intends to try to force Purdue, which pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges last year over its role in the opioid crisis, to amend its plan.

The plan is subject to approval from a bankruptcy court judge. Groups with claims against Purdue can vote on it by July 14, but there is no clear threshold for how much support it needs.

Follow Mulvihill at

Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Grant $250,000 to Sonoma County Secure Families Collaborative

The disproportionate impact of COVD-19 in the Latinx, BIPOC and indigenous language-speaking community has created a crisis in Sonoma County, California. The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (FIGR or Graton Rancheria) is providing a $250,000 grant that allows Sonoma County’s Secure Families Collaborative Fund to provide needed legal and social services for the underserved.

“2020 was an especially difficult year for Sonoma County immigrants,” said Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris. “The pandemic laid bare deep social inequities. As members of an underserved population, FIGR feels a responsibility to help those we identify with. Our hope is that this grant will ensure that all persons – documented and undocumented – have access to mental health services and legal advice.”

FIGR has been a supporter of Sonoma County Secure Families Collaborative Fund since its inception, contributing $200,000 in 2020 and $100,000 for the launch of the fund in late 2018. Since then, the Collaborative partners, including VIDAS Legal Services, University of San Francisco Law School’s Immigration and Deportation Clinic and Catholic Charities, have worked to provide free legal immigration services to local immigrant families across Sonoma County. The Collaborative has assisted more than 600 Sonoma County community members in the last two years and provided culturally appropriate mental health services.

“The generous grant from the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria is a cornerstone of support for our efforts this year. It will help us meet the daunting challenge to assist Dreamers and others who may be eligible for immigration relief under the new Administration,” said Margaret Flores McCabe, Sonoma County Secure Families Collaborative Executive Director. “The gift is an example to other Sonoma County governments and businesses of the leadership needed to support our immigrant families. This support really is the difference between life and death, particularly for many of those we represent who are seeking asylum.”

“The County appreciates the strong partnership with the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria. They help us support the Collaborative to stand with our immigrant communities against the oppressive immigration policies of the Trump administration. Now in 2021, we can help Sonoma County Dreamers’ dreams become a reality,” said Lynda Hopkins, Chair, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “We look to the business community and our local government partners to join us in supporting the Collaborative and its non-profit partners. Together, we can provide critical legal and support services to our immigrant community members who are integral to Sonoma County’s social and economic vitality.”

About the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria

Graton Rancheria is a federally recognized Indian tribe comprised of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo Indians. Legislation restoring federal recognition to the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria was signed into law in December 2000. Tribal lands are located in Rohnert Park, Sonoma County, CA. For more information about FIGR, visit

About Sonoma County Secure Families Collaborative

The Sonoma County Secure Families Collaborative Fund is a trustee-advised fund of the Community Foundation of Sonoma County. Core partners provide critical services our immigrant neighbors need to maintain family unity and community togetherness to ensure sociocultural and economic vitality. The Sonoma County Secure Families Collaborative Fund partners with Catholic Charities, VIDAS and the USF School of Law Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic to provide critical services and protect the community’s economic and cultural vitality. For more information about the Sonoma County Secure Families Collaborative, visit

USDA Puts Brakes on Land Transfer for Arizona Copper Mine

Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ The Biden administration is pulling back an environmental review that had cleared the way for a parcel of federal land held sacred by Apaches to be turned over for a massive copper mine in eastern Arizona.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that it likely will take several months to further consult with Native American tribes and others about their concerns over Oak Flat and determine whether the environmental review fully complies with the law.

The agency cited President Joe Biden's recent memo on strengthening relationships with tribal nations, and regularly consulting with them in a meaningful way.

The USDA and the U.S. Forest Service acknowledged they can only do so much. Congress mandated that the land be transferred to Resolution Copper no later than 60 days after the final environmental review was published. The document was released in the last days of Donald Trump's administration.
Michael Nixon, an attorney for the Apache Stronghold group that filed tthe first of three lawsuits seeking to stop the land exchange, said the USDA's decision is welcome but doesn't have much impact without intervention from the courts or Congress.

``Oak Flat is still on death row,'' he said. ``Essentially, they're just changing the execution date.''

Dan Blondeau, a spokesman for Resolution Copper, said the company is evaluating the decision.

The parcel of land in the Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix was set to be transferred to Resolution Copper by mid-March for one of the largest copper mines in the U.S. At least three pending lawsuits have raised concerns over religious freedom rights, land ownership and violations of federal law.
Apaches call Oak Flat ``Chi'chil Bildagoteel.'' The land near Superior has ancient oak groves, traditional plants and living beings that tribal members say are essential to their religion and culture. Those things exist elsewhere, but Apache Stronghold said they have unique power within Oak Flat.

The effort to protect Oak Flat has the backing of the Poor People's Campaign, environmental groups, religious liberty scholars, the National Congress of American Indians and others. Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva said Monday he would again introduce a bill to reverse the land transfer ``to make sure this needless controversy is settled on the side of justice once and for all.''

Gov. Doug Ducey and other Republicans have touted the jobs the mine could bring to Arizona. He said Monday he's ``extremely disappointed'' in the decision to slow progress on the mine.

``An effective and predictable regulatory environment is a critical factor in Arizona's booming economy,'' he said in a statement. ``In Arizona, we follow what works. Undoing lengthy, comprehensive and already completed federal environmental studies on a whim with the changing of federal administrations doesn't work.''

The land transfer was included as a last-minute provision in a must-pass defense bill in 2014 after it failed for years as stand-alone legislation. Resolution Copper would get 3.75 square miles (9.71 square kilometers) of national forest land in exchange for eight parcels it owns elsewhere in Arizona.

San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler and environmental groups that also sued the U.S. Forest Service over the environmental review said Monday that they'll continue working to protect Oak Flat.

Resolution Copper, a joint venture of global mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP, said it has invested $2 billion so far on the project but actual mining wouldn't start for at least 10 years after the land transfer. Eventually, the mine will swallow Oak Flat.

Resolution Copper said last week that it hired a company partly owned by members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe to run a campground at Oak Flat and ensure access to trails after the land is exchanged and until it's safe for people to be there.

``We will continue to consult and seek community input as we refine and shape the Resolution Copper project over the coming years, to minimize any impacts on Oak Flat,'' project director Andrew Lye said.

Women's Hall of Fame Honors Aretha Franklin, Morrison, Lacks

SENECA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) _ ``Queen of Soul'' Aretha Franklin and Nobel laureate and ``Beloved'' author Toni Morrison will be inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame Thursday as part of a posthumous class of Black honorees that also includes Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were widely used in biomedical research; Barbara Hillary, the first Black woman to travel to both the North and South Poles, and civil rights activists Barbara Rose Johns Powell and Mary Church Terrell.

The evening ceremony will be the first in a series of planned virtual inductions meant to correct a lack of diversity among honorees, hall officials said in a news release.

``In order to openly acknowledge and amend the disparities within the nomination pool, the virtual induction series will recognize and induct other marginalized women of achievement including those from the Latinx, Asian, Native American, LGBTQ+ sisterhoods, as well as additional Black women,'' it said.

The National Women's Hall of Fame was founded in 1969 in Seneca Falls, the site of the first women's rights convention.

Franklin had dozens of hits over a half-century and her signature song, ``Respect,'' has stood as a cultural icon. She won 18 Grammy awards and, in 1987, became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at her home in Detroit in 2018. She was 76.

Morrison helped raise American multiculturalism to the world stage. She was nearly 40 when her first novel, ``The Bluest Eye,'' was published. After just six novels, Morrison in 1993 became the first Black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize, earning praise from the Swedish academy for her ``visionary force.''

In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Morrison a Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was 88 years old when she died last year.

The case of Henrietta Lacks was the subject of a bestselling 2010 book and a 2017 HBO film. It began when researchers took a sample of cancer cells without her permission while she was under anesthesia and found they could be grown indefinitely.

The so-called ``HeLa'' cells became crucial for understanding viruses, cancer treatments, in vitro fertilization and development of vaccines, including the polio vaccine. She died in 1951 at just 31.

The adventurer Hillary became fascinated with travel after retiring from a nursing career. She was 75 years old when she became the first Black woman to set foot on the North Pole, and stood on the South Pole five years later. She died at 88 in 2019.

Johns Powell was 16 years old in 1951, when she led a student strike for equal education at R.R. Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia. The students' cause gained the support of NAACP lawyers, who filed a lawsuit that would become one of the five cases that the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed in Brown v. Board of Education. The high court's landmark 1954 decision declared ``separate but equal'' public schools unconstitutional.

Johns Powell died at 56 in 1991.

Born during the Civil War, Terrell was a dedicated suffragist whose civil rights activism continued up until her death in 1954 at the age of 90.

Terrell was the first Black woman in the United States appointed to the school board of a major city, the District of Columbia. She was a founding member and the first president of the National Association of Colored Women and was a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Colored Women's League of Washington.

Biden gives boost to retiring senator’s climate change plan

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A plan championed by retiring Sen. Tom Udall to harness the nation's lands and ocean waters to fight climate change is getting a boost from President-elect Joe Biden, who has made slowing global warming a priority for his incoming administration.

A New Mexico Democrat, Udall is the last serving member of a political dynasty that has represented the West in Washington for nearly seven decades. He has urged a shift in land and ocean management away from world-beating oil and gas production to tackling climate change and preserving wilderness.

His plan calls for conservation of 30% of the country's lands and ocean waters in the next 10 years, setting aside millions of acres for recreation, wildlife and climate efforts by 2030. Biden has pledged to sign an executive order on his first day to support the plan, as part of Biden's $2 trillion program to slow global warming.

Not surprisingly, Udall, a longtime Biden friend and former aide, has emerged as a leading contender to be Biden's interior secretary. If chosen, Udall would follow in the footsteps of his late father, Stewart, a former congressman who led the Interior Department under two Democratic presidents in the 1960s.

Tom Udall is among several New Mexico Democrats being considered for the Cabinet department that manages America's vast public lands and coastal waters and works with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes. Others include Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Deb Haaland, who would be the first Native American to lead the agency, in an incoming administration that has pledged to make diversity a focus.

Kevin Washburn, a former assistant interior secretary and member of the Chickasaw tribe, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock are among others mentioned.

Udall, 72, worked for Biden in the early 1970s and says the election of his political mentor means efforts to address climate change and promote conservation and environmental justice are back on track after years of neglect under President Donald Trump.

``I don't think our planet could have survived another four years of Trump,'' Udall said in an interview covering his and his family's conservation legacy. He spoke of what he called the ``plunder'' of public lands by the Trump administration and plans by Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to slow the climate crisis.

The idea behind Udall's plan is to dedicate forests, grasslands and other undeveloped sites as natural ``carbon sinks'' to help absorb the climate-damaging gases produced from burning oil, gas and coal.

``What Joe and Kamala understand is we can't just undo the damage of the last four years. That would be like putting a Band-Aid on a life-threatening wound,'' Udall said.

No matter who is selected as interior secretary, the new administration is expected to pivot the 70,000-employee agency to focus on conservation and climate change in place of the current administration's headlong rush for oil and gas leases.

The Trump administration eliminated dozens of regulations and eased permitting for drilling, mining and other extractive industries as it promoted U.S. ``energy dominance'' as the world's top oil and gas producer, under a fracking boom that surged when Biden was vice president and then was embraced by Trump.

Oil and gas production on public lands managed by the department and other federal agencies topped a record 1 billion barrels last year, as the Trump administration dismissed scientific warnings on global warming and moved to open more public land and water to development. Biden says he wants to ban new permits for drilling on public lands and restore limits Trump moved to knock down for methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas produced by drilling.

Oil and gas produced from public lands accounts for as much as one-fourth of U.S. carbon emissions. Udall says the Biden plan would make public lands ``carbon neutral'' by 2030, meaning the lands would absorb as much carbon dioxide as they emit from energy production.

Udall's focus on carbon dioxide is nothing new. Under his father's leadership, the Interior Department issued a report warning of the dangers of carbon dioxide pollution in 1965.

A focus on conservation is a family legacy, Udall said. ``That's in my DNA from being Stewart Udall's son.''

Udall also is the nephew of the late Rep. Mo Udall, D-Ariz., and cousin of ex-Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. The family is so ubiquitous in Western politics that for many years the rallying cry among supporters was ``Vote for the Udall nearest you.''

``I feel fortunate to have grown up in a family where public service was considered the highest calling,'' Tom Udall said.

``The thing about Stewart and Mo is that both had a rare combination of moral courage and political decency,'' he said, citing his father's efforts to stand up for Rachel Carson, an early environmental leader, and force integration of then-Washington Redskins football team, which leased its stadium in the nation's capital from the Interior Department.

Stewart and Mo Udall, a onetime presidential candidate, played key roles in creation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the mid-1960s, and Tom Udall counts among his proudest accomplishments a law signed by Trump that provides permanent funding for the much-praised program.

The funding was included in a bill that would spend nearly $3 billion on conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands. The bipartisan measure is widely seen as the most significant conservation legislation enacted in decades.

The bill's overwhelming support shows that ``good politics ends up being good policy'' and that bipartisanship is possible on the environment, Udall said. Both parties also backed a 2016 law that overhauled regulation of dangerous chemicals, an achievement Udall says was one of his most satisfying in 22 years in Congress, including two terms in the Senate.

Similar achievements are possible in the next Congress, despite increased polarization, Udall said. ``You can call me overly optimistic, but I'm certainly not going to concede that the Biden agenda can't get through'' a divided Congress, he said.

As the effects of climate change continue to worsen, ``Congress will increasingly feel pressure from the public to get things done,'' Udall said.

Alaska Native Heritage Center Receives $3 Million Grant from Ford Foundation

The Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) has been named one of “America’s Cultural Treasures,” a national initiative from the Ford Foundation that provides grants to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) arts and cultural organizations severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This collective effort brings together 16 major donors and foundations to award $1 - $6 million grants to 20 different organizations across the country, including ANHC. The designation of grant recipients as “America’s Cultural Treasures” recognizes their unique and vital work, despite historically limited resources and funding streams.

In its application to the Ford Foundation, ANHC outlined several interwoven yet distinct healing-based initiatives it plans to create, expand upon and implement in the coming years, creating an intentional space of healing where the Indigenous community can connect with themselves and their culture.

Over the next four years, ANHC will receive $3 million in general operating support to enhance and support its healing, cultural, and educational programming work, and an additional $100,000 in technical services. A grant of this size and type is an unprecedented, historic investment throughout the Alaska Native community.

As the only statewide cultural and education center dedicated to celebrating all cultures and heritages, ANHC’s work has never mattered more to Alaskans, many of whom face additional struggles resulting from COVID-19 and its related economic impacts. ANHC’s work is also central to non-Native Alaskans and visitors to our state, who learn about and connect with Indigenous peoples through the lens ANHC provides.

Since opening its doors to the public in 1999, ANHC has worked with more than one million people, including Alaska Native youth, Elders, and the broader community worldwide. ANHC also serves as a gathering and healing place for the Alaska Native community and a focal point for visitors who wish to learn about Alaska Native cultures, heritages, and traditions.

Like all arts and cultures, and seasonal and tourism-related activities in Alaska, ANHC has suffered substantial economic losses. However, COVID-19 has also allowed ANHC to reimagine how the organization delivers its programming. For example, ANHC quickly pivoted to online and virtual programming, such as storytelling, cooking classes, and art classes. ANHC also created cultural boxes for K-12 students across the country.

Thanks to funders like the Ford Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and so many more, ANHC is coming out of COVID-19 stronger than ever before.

ANHC is a statewide 501 (c) (3) educational and cultural organization located in Anchorage, Alaska, whose mission is to preserve and strengthen the traditions, languages, and art of Alaska’s Native People through statewide collaboration, celebration, and education. ANHC’s Vision is, “Thriving Alaska Native people and cultures respected and valued.”

Announcement of Found Treasure Doesn't Stop Speculation


The Billings Gazette

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Forrest Fenn's hidden treasure may have been discovered in early June, but that hasn't stopped fortune hunters from speculating about where it was hidden.

When Fenn, a former art dealer from Santa Fe, New Mexico, announced the discovery he did not say who found his cache worth more than $1 million, or where they were from, other than ``back East.'' Fenn said the discovery was confirmed by a photo the man sent him.

Billings therapist David McFarland, in a June 10 Billings Gazette story, claimed he solved the riddle just before Fenn's treasure was discovered. The location, he believed, was near Woodbine Falls along the Stillwater River in Montana. After listing his solutions to the Fenn riddle, which is meant to guide seekers to the treasure, McFarland said, ``I dare anybody to figure out a better solve.''

A few folks took him up on his dare, The Billings Gazette reported.



Alpine, Utah, grandmother Janet Kaplar believes she found the hole where the treasure had been hidden _ a boggy area in northern Yellowstone National Park between Swan Lake and Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming. Using clues she found using Google Earth, an online mapping program, she arrived at the impression the second day that Yellowstone opened to travelers this spring. The park was closed for seven weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

``We're old-timers to the area, but never went into the backcountry,'' she said, instead often visiting in the winter to snowmobile.

Despite locating what she thinks is the indent where the treasure was buried, Kaplar remains skeptical. Maybe Fenn called off the search because of ``all the craziness,'' she said. Five people have died searching for the booty, and many more have required rescue after becoming lost or stranded in the Rocky Mountains.

Although some members of her family questioned her search, Kaplar said her grandchildren loved the exploration.

``I really hope that's the case,'' that someone found the treasure, she said.



Attorney Boyd Hill is certain he came close to finding the treasure last year on a foray into the Gardiner Basin, just north of Yellowstone National Park. Hill said the clues Fenn gave when viewed via Google Earth are like a pictograph, symbols painted by prehistoric humans to tell stories or recount visions.

Hill said Fenn's riddle points to stories from Norse mythology. Using those clues, he tracked the treasure to an old mining area north of Gardiner in a drainage on the west side of the Yellowstone River.

``It's a fascinating solve,'' he said. ``One that had a couple of wrinkles.''

One of the wrinkles was the presence of so many ``wild critters'' on the landscape, including wolves, cougars and bears.

Hill thinks he may have even met the person who found the treasure while exploring the area last year.

The story of the Fenn fortune appealed to Hill because his grandfather had given him books on treasure hunting he read as a child.

``I kind of felt like my deceased grandfather was urging me,'' he said.

Two years after first reading about the treasure, during a trip to Yellowstone, he began his search and became more intrigued.

``I've seen a lot of these solves, and they are crazy,'' Hill said.



Retired Greeley dairy worker Bill Dyrud got sucked into the Fenn treasure hunt after watching a YouTube video on the subject while ``lazying in bed one night.''

Lining up Santa Fe _ Fenn's hometown _ with the North Star led Dyrud to the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming and its Medicine Wheel, an ancient ceremonial stone circle used by Native Americans for centuries. To Dyrud, the wheel marked the spot where Fenn's poem said warm waters halt, the warm waters being tears shed by those coming to the Medicine Wheel for healing.

``He said it would be simple,'' Dyrud said. ``That's what I came up with.''

Telling others was a way for him to get the solve off his chest.

Boulder resident Paul Klasky thinks the treasure was hidden near him, in the small town of Cascade, Colorado. The community is home to North Pole Santa's Workshop, a themed amusement park.

In a letter to The Billings Gazette, Klasky wrote that Fenn's poem ``seemed to have the cadence of `The Night Before Christmas.''' Consequently, his reading of the clues are linked to Santa, including the passage that reads: ``The answers I already know,'' which he said refers to Santa knowing who is naughty and nice.

Cascade, Colorado, is about an hour's drive from Santa Fe, Klasky noted.



So even with the reported solving of Fenn's riddle and supposed recovery of the hidden riches, the mystery of it all continues to gnaw at treasure hunters. The Billings Gazette received emails from other seekers, including residents of Ohio and New Jersey who did not return calls seeking more information.

Was there ever a treasure? Did Fenn recover it himself because some hunters were getting close? If not, why is the person who found the treasure remaining silent? Are they afraid of being mobbed by the media or people seeking to swindle them out of their hard-found fortune?

We may never know. One Billings resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said he helped a man from Ohio find the treasure. It was buried in southwest Wyoming, he said.

Red Lodge resident Rex Buehring said his wife, Kasey, had hung Fenn's poem on her mirror to analyze the clues. They believe the treasure had been hidden in the West Yellowstone region near the Madison River. Fenn never spent any time on the Stillwater River, Buehring said, but did spend time in West Yellowstone.

When news of the treasure being found spread, Buehring and his wife were disheartened. They had planned to return to the West Yellowstone area this spring and resume their search.

``Gosh darn, we had four or five people call us,'' he said. ``It was a letdown. I'm going to go out now and look for shed moose horns.''

He also searches for golf balls near his home next to the small town's course. In his best year he counted more than 1,600 balls. One day he found 79. Given the price of golf balls, that's a valuable treasure.

After 400 Years, Native Stories at Heart of Mayflower Events


Associated Press

SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) _ Four hundred years after English colonists landed on Plymouth Rock and upended the lives of her ancestors, Paula Peters is on a quest to recover a small part of what her people have lost.

A year of trans-Atlantic commemorations marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage opens in Southampton, England, on Saturday with an exhibition centered on one casualty of colonization: the wampum belt of Metacom, a 17th-century leader of the Wampanoag Native American nation.

Woven with imagery depicting tribal history and legends, the beaded belt was ``as important to the Wampanoag as the crown jewels would be to the king of England,'' said Peters, a Wampanoag writer and educator.

In 1620, the Wampanoag, who had lived for millennia in what is now New England, helped the exhausted Mayflower settlers survive their first winter. But within a few decades, tensions had erupted into a brutal 1670s conflict known as King Philip's War. Metacom was killed, and his belt sent to England's King Charles II as spoils of war.

``From all we can tell it did arrive in the U.K., but it never arrived in the hands of the king,'' Peters said from her home in Mashpee, Massachusetts. ``We have been searching for that belt for generations of our people,''

The hunt took Peters to the British Museum, which has one of the world's largest collections of wampum belts. She didn't find it there, but she had an idea: The Wampanoag would make a new belt, then send it to England for display. It would help share their story, and might bring new leads in the search.

Wampum belts _ made with beads fashioned from the white and purple shells of whelks and quahog _ play a central role in the culture of the Wampanaog and other Native peoples in eastern North America.

The new belt includes 5,000 tiny beads and was crafted by 100 community members over more than six months. Its design tells the Wampanoag story. It features animals with symbolic importance including wolf, turtle and eagle, people from different clans holding hands, and a white pine, whose roots gave birth to the Wampanoag in the tribe's creation story.

Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America is opening in Southampton 400 years to the day after the Mayflower Pilgrims sailed from this southern England port city, bound _ after an unscheduled stop in Plymouth, England _ for a new life across the Atlantic.

Commemorations are taking place over the next year involving four nations: the U.S., Britain, the Netherlands, where the Puritan pilgrims lived in exile before their voyage, and the Wampanoag.

The coronavirus pandemic means the anniversary of the ship's departure from England will be marked with scaled-down ceremonies on Sept. 16. Major events have been pushed into 2021, including a trans-Atlantic voyage by Mayflower 400, a crewless ship.

The prominent inclusion of Wampanoag voices is a far cry from the 350th Mayflower anniversary in 1970, when a Wampanoag leader, Frank James, had his invitation to speak revoked because he planned to lament the disease, racism and oppression that followed the Pilgrims.

Jo Loosemore, who co-curated the exhibition, said it was important to tell not just the story of those who arrived 400 years ago but also ``the story of the people who were already there.''

``The exhibition is told in a Wampanoag voice throughout,'' she said. ``So it's as though, hopefully, they are talking to us.''

By eerie historical echo, in the three years before the Mayflower arrived the Wampanoag suffered a pandemic known as the Great Dying, when a disease brought by Europeans killed an estimated 70% to 90% of the area's Native population.

``When we first started talking about the Great Dying, and the impact of that pandemic on the Wampanoag people, perhaps we didn't fully understand it,'' Loosemore said. ``Now we are in the midst of our own, we understand it a lot better, and we understand the horrifying impact of it on so many people.''

The new wampum belt is intended to be unfinished, so future generations can add new chapters to the story. The hunt for Metacom's belt continues.

A search in U.K. museums and Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Collection has come up empty-handed _ but highlighted how many wampum belts have ended up in the U.K., either purchased or stolen at some point in the past. Some of the belts from the British Museum will join the exhibition at future stops in London and Plymouth over the next year.

Peters said viewing wampum belts in the British Museum on a research trip before the pandemic was an emotional experience. Some day she would like to see them back on home soil.

``The British Museum claims to be the custodians. But are they the best custodians for these materials? Absolutely not,'' she said. ``The wampum belts are really living parts of our heritage and our modern-day culture.''

The museum, which has largely resisted calls from around the world for the return of artifacts, said it ``has a duty to make collections available`` to the indigenous communities they came from.

``We do this by lending objects wherever possible, sharing the collection via our online database and accommodating visits from artists, experts, and cultural bearers,'' the museum said in a statement.

Peters knows finding Metacom's belt is a long shot, but hopes the exhibition might ``spark some memories, someone who might know something`` about where it has gone.

``It may seem like kind of a pipe dream,'' she said. ``But I felt like, wow, that would be something, if we could get that back. That would just be an incredible gift.''


Company Floats New Proposal for Hydropower on Tribal Land

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ A Phoenix-based company that was eyeing the Little Colorado River for power generation is floating a new proposal that would rely on groundwater rather than surface water to make electricity.

Pumped Hydro Storage LLC recently applied for a preliminary permit for a project adjacent to the river on the Navajo Nation. Manager Steve Irwin said the shift was in response to overwhelming criticism that building dams on the river would disrupt the habitat of the endangered humpback chub.

Approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would allow the company three years to study the site in Big Canyon west of Tuba City but doesn't authorize land disturbance. The commission approved preliminary permits for the Little Colorado River sites east of Grand Canyon National Park last week.

But Irwin said he won't pursue the dams on the river if the Big Canyon proposal moves forward. Documents filed with the federal government estimate the project will cost between $10 million and $20 million for studies, tests, surveys and maps, and to construct four earthen and concrete dams that would hold back groundwater.

The proposal to move water between upper and lower reservoirs to generate power when the demand is high would need the blessing of the Navajo Nation. Tribal President Jonathan Nez has said he would not support development without the approval of nearby Navajo communities, spokesman Jared Touchin said Tuesday.

Tribes, environmental groups, Grand Canyon National Park, state and federal agencies and others had asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deny the preliminary permits for the Little Colorado River dams or impose requirements on the company. The commission said those requests were premature because the company isn't in the licensing stage, which could be several years down the line.

Environmental groups said they're concerned the new proposal could deplete natural springs and disturb the remote, pristine region.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would take public comment if it accepts the company's request for a preliminary permit. The permits secure an applicant's priority for hydropower development.


Report: Child Disparities Highest in US South, West


Associated Press

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) _ Childhood disparities around malnutrition, graduation rates, and early deaths are worst among rural, black-majority counties in the American South and isolated counties with Native American populations, according to a new report.

Those inequities put these populations more at risk for the novel coronavirus, the report by Save the Children concludes.

``The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America's Kids'' report released Tuesday found that children in the most disadvantaged counties die at rates up to five times of children in the same state. Children in those counties also are 14 times as likely to drop out of school and are three times as likely to lack healthy food and consistent meals, the report said.

Using federal data from 2018 and examining more 2,600 counties and their equivalents, the report found that about a third of the 50 worst counties are majority African American and a quarter are majority Native American.

The counties and census areas of Kusilvak (Alaska), Todd (South Dakota), Madison (Louisana), Carson (South Dakota), and Bethel (Alaska) were the five worst-ranked, the report found. Todd County lies entirely within the Rosebud Indian Reservation and Madison Parish is 61% black.

``These are just stunning statistics,'' said Mark K. Shriver, senior vice president of U.S. programs & advocacy at Save the Children. ``Children growing up rural areas, for instance, are more likely to die before their first birthday at a rate to 20% than in large urban areas.''

The inequality comes from the lack of early childhood education, health care, and job training options in those areas, the report said.

So far, children in some of the poor counties cited in the report live among the areas hardest hit by COVID-19. New Mexico's McKinley County, which sits on the Navajo Nation _ a tribe suffering amid the pandemic _ is ranked near the bottom in child hunger and graduation rates.

According to the report, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico are the lowest-ranked states for these childhood disparities.

New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire earned the highest marks.

Save the Children recommends states and local governments invest more in early childhood education programs.

The report comes more than a half-century after the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy _ Shriver's uncle _ embarked on a tour across the country to highlight the nation's most impoverished regions. Kennedy visited Mississippi and South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and was transformed by the hunger and inequality he saw.

It also comes more than a half-century after President Lyndon Johnson's Kerner Commission report, which sought to examine urban poverty and riots across the nation.

Former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris of Oklahoma, the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission, said he's not surprised by the report since the number of U.S. residents in poverty has grown in 50 years.

``And most of that growth in poverty has been among children,'' Harris said from his home in Corrales, New Mexico. ``This is a great unfairness in our system.''


Associated Press journalist Russell Contreras is a member of the AP's race and ethnicity team. Follow Contreras on Twitter at


Alaska Native Group Sues Neiman Marcus Over Coat's Design


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ An Alaska Native cultural organization is suing luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, saying the Dallas-based company violated copyright and American Indian arts protection laws in selling a knit coat with a geometric design borrowed from indigenous culture.

In the federal lawsuit filed, Sealaska Heritage Institute maintains the retailer falsely affiliated the $2,555 ``Ravenstail'' coat with northwest coast native artists through the design and use of the term, Ravenstail.

The plaintiffs say the Ravenstail term and style has been associated for hundreds of years with Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribes. According to the lawsuit, the coat also mimics a Ravenstail coat created by a Tlingit weaver nearly a quarter century ago.

Sealaska attorney Jacob Adams said the case is part of a larger movement to recognize the rights of indigenous people to their cultural items.

``For a very long time, they've been seen as kind of resources that anyone can use,`` Adams said. ``And that goes beyond inspiration to outright violation.``

Neiman Marcus representatives did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. It is unclear if the coat is still for sale. It did not appear in a search on the retailer's website.

Nieman Marcus has 43 stores throughout the U.S., none in Alaska.

Sealaska says it discovered the retailer was selling the coat in 2019. Adams said the garment was still being sold last month.

According to the lawsuit, Neiman Marcus violated the Indian Arts and Crafts Act that requires that products marketed as ``Indian'' are actually made by indigenous people. The Juneau-based nonprofit works to preserve and enhance the culture of southeast Alaska's Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribes.

Sealaska also says the Neiman Marcus robe violates the copyright of Clarissa Rizal, a late master weaver who created the Ravenstail robe in 1996. When she died in 2016, her family obtained the rights to the robe, Adams said.

Last year, Rizal's heirs registered the robe with the U.S. copyright office, the lawsuit says. The copyright was then exclusively licensed to Sealaska, the lawsuit says.

Plaintiffs seek an injunction prohibiting Neiman Marcus or parent companies from selling the coat, as well as unspecified compensatory, punitive and other damages.


Blackfeet Work Together to Feed Kids in Time of Coronavirus


Lee Newspapers of Montana

BROWNING, Mont. (AP) _ The sound of school bus horns carried on the wind through the neighborhoods in and around this small rural town on the eastern edge of Glacier National Park, a clarion call to the community's children and families that breakfast was ready.

``I know they have kids here, I just gotta wake them up,'' said Nicklo Crossguns between beeps as her school bus idled outside a home. ``Come and get your breakfast!''

Crossguns, a school bus driver, was making her regular circuit Tuesday morning as the warming sun of a bluebird day barely made a dent in the deep snowdrifts along her route. Normally 80 kids, three to a seat, fill her bus. But this day it was all but empty, except two front seats _ one carrying a box full of brown-bagged lunches and the other a crate of kid-size milk cartons.

On the second day into a minimum two-week school shutdown ordered by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, an extraordinary measure meant to stave off as much as possible the spread of the coronavirus in the state, Crossguns turned from child-transporter to meal-deliverer, moving block to block watching small hands pull back window curtains and familiar faces peer outside at the sound of her yellow bus.

Districts around the state are adapting to feed the children who depend on their school for much more than an education. A waiver from the USDA allowed schools in the state to transition to their summer meal programs, offering grab-and-go options to keep students from gathering in a time of social distancing.

Stephanie Blackman, who normally cooks for children at Browning Elementary, knows well what a meal can mean to her students.

``What I keep in my mind is a child who came in once and said, `I'm so glad it's Monday. I didn't eat all weekend,''' Blackman said.

Browning Public Schools are keeping children fed and providing certainty in an unsettled time through a volunteer force of school employees on leave from their jobs, like Crossguns and Blackman, and community members who are ready to work as long as needed to get meals to kids.

Blackman filled brown paper sacks with warm soft pretzels, cheese, hard-boiled eggs and bananas in the empty school cafeteria, a radio pumping out upbeat music as she worked in the dark because the door to where the light switch is located was locked.

Finding volunteers has been a bit of a challenge as families adapt to children being out of school and try to follow social-distancing guidelines, but that didn't deter Blackman and her crew.

``We'll get it done,'' she said.

By 8:30 a.m. they'd made 300 breakfasts, then turned around to put together another 300 lunches for the students who would normally be filling the seats at the long lunch tables Blackman converted to a work station.

The process is not new for Blackman, who honed this skill during the 2019 blizzard that covered Browning in 4 feet of snow.

``We've served a lot of sack lunches and we've made a lot,'' she said.

Volunteer Laura Hall, who also works at the school, said the community has come together before and knows how to take care of each other.

``In my experience we've always been having each other's backs,'' Hall said. ``When you deal with a crisis, you help each other. It's natural. Our kids are going to be fed and we're going to feed them.''

This time, though, a pump bottle of hand sanitizer placed prominent at the end of the lunch table hammered home the message that dealing with a pandemic feels a little different.

Across the street at Napi Elementary, Philip Sure Chief was 200 ham-and-cheese sandwiches through the 500 he needed to assemble.

Sure Chief knows firsthand kids are struggling to navigate an uprooted schedule.

``They're already bored out of their minds,'' he said of his own children, ages 14, 10 and 6. His oldest, a freshman in high school, was looking forward to a track season that might not happen. It's hard to explain to the youngest why visits with friends are off the table, while his middle daughter has been FaceTiming her friends.

It took just shy of an hour for Crossguns to distribute her 30 meals, including the 7-mile drive to Starr School.

``We took routes yesterday that we know and it worked well. We know where the kids are,'' Crossguns said. ``We're pioneering it. Yesterday I had kids saying, `My bus driver's here!' They were all happy.''

Students and their families found out about the program through a mix of posts on Facebook, the Browning Public Schools' website and the benefit of living in a small town where everybody knows everybody. Throw in Crossguns' cheerful honking and one boisterous pup who howled along, and people got the word.

Cherie Bear Medicine came at the sound of the bus to collect meals for her four grandchildren. She heard about the deliveries on Facebook.

``I appreciate it, it helps a lot,'' Bear Medicine said. She's trying to keep her grandchildren occupied while following social distancing recommendations. ``We just go with the flow.''

A photo of one of Crossguns' daughters, a senior in high school, hangs above the windshield visor on the bus. The daughter was on the basketball team and played in the state tournament in Billings until it was canceled just before the finals.

Though Browning was playing for third place, Crossguns said her daughter ``still thought she'd get one more game.''

Generally, people in Browning are taking the precautions seriously. Like other communities around Montana, the Blackfeet Tribe issued orders closing bars, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about limiting gatherings of people, and urged restaurants to move to take-out or delivery only. The tribe also authorized leave for its employees to be able to adapt to students out of school and put into place a curfew, among other measures to prevent spread when the virus is assumed to arrive in this remote town.

Some think that might not happen until the summer, when people generally flock to this part of the world in awe of the Rocky Mountain Front and Glacier National Park.

``I think now we're pretty isolated, but come summertime we're not,'' Sure Chief said. ``It'll probably get here through tourists.''

Still, people are being cautious. Anyone who was at the state high school basketball tournament in Billings wasn't allowed to help package lunches. The senior meal program, which encouraged congregating, moved to grab-and-go options and home delivery. Also, on Bullock's order, the nursing home was closed to visitors.

All but one entrance at the Blackfeet Community Hospital was closed to the public. Employees screened anyone entering for symptoms and asked about their travel history. Hospital employees and administrators were not allowed to talk to reporters without permission from Indian Health Service's headquarters.

James McNeely, the public information officer for the Blackfeet Tribe, said the tribe is confident in the hospital's ability to respond to the community's needs. Administrators have been working with the tribal and Glacier County officials to implement a disaster preparedness plan.

``We're going to get through it as a tribe, as a community, as a nation, as a human race, because we all have to work together,'' McNeely said.


Navajo Company Reaches Immunity Deal with US for Coal Mines

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) _ A Navajo tribal company has reached an agreement that would allow the U.S. government to enforce environmental laws at two coal mines in Wyoming and one in Montana.

Navajo Transitional Energy Company has agreed to a limited waiver of sovereign immunity, the company announced Tuesday.

As a tribal entity, NTEC normally would be able to claim sovereign immunity and avoid being taken to court. That would prevent government agencies from suing the company to enforce environmental laws at the coal mines it bought following the bankruptcy of Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy in 2019.

NTEC's limited waiver of sovereign immunity agreement with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement would allow the federal agency to enforce laws including the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act at the three mines, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

NTEC has been operating as a contract miner since purchasing the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Wyoming and the Spring Creek mine in Montana but seeks state permits for the mines.

NTEC agreed to a limited waiver of sovereign immunity for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality on Feb. 13. Sovereign immunity talks with Montana officials are ongoing.

The company also seeks bonding for the mines after the Navajo tribe in November refused to financially back bonds to help ensure the mines' cleanup should they close. Cloud Peak's $370 million in bonding for the mines remains in place for now.


Jerry Craft, Kadir Nelson Win Honors for Children's Books

AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Jerry Craft's ``New Kid,`` a graphic novel about a 7th grader's struggle to adjust to a private school with little diversity, has won the John Newbery Medal for the year's best children's book. ``New Kid'' also received the Coretta Scott King Award for an outstanding work by an African American writer.

Kadir Nelson won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for his illustration of ``The Undefeated,'' a poetic tribute to African American history, featuring the words of Kwame Alexander. ``The Undefeated'' was also a runner-up for the Newbery prize, won by Alexander in 2015 for ``The Crossover,`` and won the Coretta Scott King prize for best illustrated book.

The prizes were announced by the American Library Association during its annual mid-winter meeting, held this year in Philadelphia.

Other winners include A.S. King's ``Dig,`` named the outstanding young adult novel, and Colson Whitehead's novel ``The Nickel Boys,'' cited as one of 10 books for adults that appealed to young people. Lifetime achievement prizes were given to Kevin Henkes, whose books include ``Kitten's First Full Moon,'' and Steve Sheinkin, author of such historical works as ``The Port Chicago 50`` and ``The Notorious Benedict Arnold.``

Carlos Hernandez's ``Sal and Gabi Break the Universe`` was the Pura Belpre Author Award winner for an outstanding Latino writer. Rafael Lopez received the Belpre illustrator prize for ``Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln.`` American Indian Youth Literature awards were given to ``Bowwow Powwow: Bagosenjige-niimi'idim'' and illustrator Jonathan Thunder for best picture book and to ``Hearts Unbroken,'' written by Cynthia Leitich Smith, for best young adult book.

Some writers from the outside book world also were honored. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor won the Schneider Family Book Award for books that ``embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.'' Her book, ``Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You,'' illustrated by Rafael Lopez, was inspired in part on her battle with diabetes.

George Takei of ``Star Trek'' fame shared a prize for best young adult literature by an author of Asian Pacific background. He, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott co-wrote ``They Called Us Enemy,'' a graphic memoir based on Takei's being held in a detention camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.


Taos 'Earthship' Community Highlights Sustainable Living

Gallup Independent

TAOS, N.M. (AP) _ It's 29 degrees in Taos this early morning in late December when Kate Noonan walks out of EVE to start up her car.

EVE stands for Earthship Village Ecologies, a self-sufficient three-story building made with empty cans, bottles and used tires that resembles a modern cathedral because of its complex structural form. It includes high ceilings held by a partial fan-vaulted wall decorated with colorful mosaics, pillars and a stair case leading to three different levels.

EVE's most unusual feature is perhaps an open space at the end of the upper level with a toilet at the center.


EVE is still under construction. When finished, it might house 25 people who will also work and grow their own food in its greenhouse and gardens. At least, that has been environmental architect Michael Reynolds' goal when he started planning and designing this building at his Earthship community in Taos more than a decade ago.

``We are talking about building a building up with things that you throw away. Over the years I ended up developing these points that I'm responding to, and they are what every village, town, city, tribe has to deal with,'' Reynolds said. ``They are in fact the issues that all of humanity is having to address. And they are not doing a very good job of it. And, therefore, we have dumps, sewage pollution, endless problems because we are not addressing these issues and we can't expect the government and corporations to address them.''

Reynolds was referring to the need for comfortable shelter, catching rain water, producing food and energy with the sun or wind, and disposing of garbage and sewage. He added, all of his buildings are self-sufficient and address these issues, and EVE would be the first to house a large number of people and address these issues and ``economics'' because the occupants will live and work at this building.

EVE has also been Noonan's home for the past 3 1/2 years.

As her vehicle warms, Noonan, 38, walks back inside EVE.

The temperature stays at 40 degrees inside the building even though there's no furnace, or electrical or gas/propane heaters inside.

The building is heated by the sun and thermal mass technology. Technically, earthships are enclosed within three walls made with used tires filled and covered with dirt, and plastered inside. This feature makes them look like bunkers, or as if they were buried underground, but they are above ground. The tires are an important component on these buildings because when the sun heats up the tires, they radiate the energy inside the building.

Ideally, when EVE is completed, the temperature in the interior rooms should not go below 60 degrees even on cold days like this. Until then, Noonan heats up her room at night with a wood stove. At the time, she is the only occupant.

``This is an experimental earthship. The temperatures are all different in the old models,'' she says walking along an indoor garden where a tomato vain is climbing over a fence and geraniums she planted a few years back are in full bloom. ``The new earthships are awesome. The temperature stays in the 70s.''

And that temperature applies for the buildings during the summer as well, as it is the case of the simple survival earthship across the street where a banana tree grows in the greenhouse at an average temperature of 40 degrees this cold day of winter, and where the main living room stays at 60 degrees.

The simple survival earthship is used to house guests, students or anyone interested in renting an earthship and experience offgrid living.

Noonan, who is originally from Michigan, moved to Taos in 2013 to take part in an internship with the Earthship Biotecture Academy, which Reynolds founded in 2011 to teach sustainable architecture to students from around the world. As part of the academy, students get to work in partnership with other nonprofit organizations on disaster relief or humanitarian projects building homes or community buildings based on the earthship concepts and teach local populations about the potential for sustainable technologies.

After her four-week internship, Noonan took a job with Reynolds' academy as the student housing caretaker, but the job is about to come to an end. In a week, she will move back to a city.

``It has been interesting _ a huge social experiment for me personally,'' Noonan said. ``I've been taking care of student housing here for 3 1/2 years now and we have 20 or 30 new people every month and all those people are like, `I'm building an orphanage in Mexico. I'm building a community center in Puerto Rico.' You know, they are carpenters and plumbers and electricians _ just awesome.''

The group of students who participated in the academy in November also had the chance to work at Zuni Pueblo helping build the veterinarian clinic, a partnership between Earthship Biotecture Planet Earth, Reynolds' nonprofit, and the Zuni Tribe.

In December, the students helped erect the clinic's interior footings and set up electrical wiring and plumbing.

The first phase of the Zuni Veterinarian Clinic was completed with donations and grants amounting about $180,000, which included funding from the Recycling and Illegal Dumping Fund and the American for Native American.

Students are scheduled to return in the spring. When completed, this will become the first sustainable vet clinic in the world built with recycled material.

``We get all kinds of different people here. It's not just the one group of people that's like, `We are gonna eat dirt and live off roots and carry water.' It's not just extremists,'' Noonan said. ``The thing that I noticed, like attracts like. So, every group comes with some common denominator. They all have something in common. That and, it's like sometimes we get middle age men and they all have trucks and tools, and they are like, `I got this, I got this.' ``Or sometimes we'll get a group with a bunch of college students who are excited about something. It's interesting,'' she continued. ``Groups have a similar feel to them, and sometimes they would have their birthdays close together, and they didn't know each other before they met at the academy. I think its a scientific thing that synergies attract, so they wind up booking at the same time.''

Noonan, who is about to complete her tenure working for Earthship Biotecture, will be moving into an apartment in the city.

``I'm moving to a very conventional apartment to save money for when I can build my own earthship. I'm so scared that I'm not going to be able to sleep in the apartment because there's this hum (from appliances and furnace), like the hum of my car right now.''


Spokane Tribe Finally Wins Compensation for Grand Coulee Dam

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ The Spokane Tribe of Indians will finally be compensated after some of their ancestral homelands were flooded by the giant Grand Coulee Dam seven decades ago,

The U.S. House approved and sent to President Donald Trump a bill that sets up yearly payments to the tribe based on a similar system for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, who also lost land when the dam and its reservoir were created.

The Spokesman-Review reported the Spokane Tribe will receive $6 million a year for 10 years, and $8 million a year after that. The money will come from revenues of the Bonneville Power Administration, which sells electricity generated by Grand Coulee and other federal dams in the Northwest.

Trump is expected to sign the bill, the newspaper reported.

Washington lawmakers tried for more than a decade to win compensation for the Spokane Tribe. This year it passed the Senate in June and the House on Monday evening.

The Spokanes and Colvilles both had reservation land flooded by the reservoir behind Grand Coulee.

The Colvilles in 1994 got Congress to approve a lump sum payment of $53 million and annual payments of $15.2 million from BPA revenues.


Michigan Tribe Awarded Grant for e-Cigarette Education

HANNAHVILLE, Mich. (AP) _ An Upper Peninsula nonprofit organization is supporting a program that educates young people in the Hannahville Indian Community about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

The Marquette-based Superior Health Foundation awarded an $11,518 grant to the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan for the Anishinaabe E-cigarette and JUUL Health Education Project.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for children and young adults.

Health educator Kelly Hansen of the Hannahville Indian Community says JUUL products also pose risks. JUUL is a battery-powered e-cigarette that generates a nicotine-laced aerosol.

Hansen says the tribal project will use a curriculum called ``Catch my Breath'' to provide teachers, parents and health professionals with information about e-cigarettes and help children make wise choices.


US House OKs Protections Near Historical Park in New Mexico

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Walls of stacked stone jut up from the canyon floor, some perfectly aligned with the seasonal movements of the sun and moon. Circular ceremonial subterranean rooms called kivas cut into the desert, surrounded by the remnants of what historians say was once a hub of indigenous civilization.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park is at the center of a decades-long debate over how to manage oil and gas development in a sprawling area of northwestern New Mexico that is dotted by sites tied to the park but that lie outside its boundaries.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation prohibiting drilling on the checkerboard of federal land that borders the park. The measure also calls for terminating existing non-producing leases in the area and suggests more studies and protective measures be taken to address health, safety and environmental effects on communities and tribal interests.

Federal land managers have been deferring interest by the oil and gas industry in parcels within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius of the park to address the concerns of environmentalists and Native American leaders. The legislation would codify that practice, essentially establishing a buffer around the park.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, a New Mexico Democrat, is among the sponsors. He remembers first visiting the park years ago when he was in his 20s.

``There's something incredible, magical, spiritual that you feel as you walk up to Chaco, touch those stones that have withstood the test of time and you think of all the people who came before us. It's emotional,'' Lujan said.

He said he is confident the legislation will have bipartisan support. He pointed to the willingness of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to defer drilling leases around Chaco while regulators prepare a new management plan for the region's resources. Bernhardt's decision came earlier this year after touring the world heritage site and meeting with leaders from the Navajo Nation and New Mexico's pueblos.

Similar legislation to create a protective zone around Chaco is pending in the Senate.

The campaign to curb drilling in one of the nation's oldest basins has spanned at least three presidential administrations. In recent years, concerns expanded beyond environmental impacts to the preservation of cultural landmarks.

The oil and gas industry has been operating in the San Juan Basin for nearly a century. Industry representatives have said existing federal laws and policies require extensive environmental and cultural reviews before drilling can happen and that any sites designated as culturally significant as a result are respected.

Tribal leaders and environmentalists have praised the legislation, saying it would better protect irreplaceable sites beyond the park.

The measure calls for withdrawing nearly 500 square miles (1,280 square kilometers) of federal land holdings, preventing future leasing of mineral rights.

However, passage would not mean development comes to a halt. Most of the land within the protection zone belongs to the Navajo Nation and individual tribal members who would retain their sovereignty and property rights.

Still, many allotment owners are concerned their holdings will be landlocked if the federal parcels are off limits. That would mean millions of dollars in lost revenue for some families on Navajo Nation, which has struggled for years with high rates of poverty and unemployment.

Environmentalists, archaeologists and Pueblo leaders from elsewhere in New Mexico for years have called for a drilling moratorium. Pueblo leaders say their cultural ties to Chaco are still strong. Some also have concerns about pollution from increased drilling.

Some leaders met with Lujan last week while in Washington, including E. Paul Torres, chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors.

``We need the buffer zone for sure,'' Torres said. ``The oil wells are getting dangerously close to Chaco right now and that's what we do not want to see.''


Alaska Native Leader Peratrovich Commemorated on $1 Coin


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ A young Alaska Native woman left an impression on Alaska's territorial Senate in 1945, delivering a speech that led to the passage of the nation's first anti-discrimination law.

Now, the late Elizabeth Peratrovich is leaving her impression on a $1 coin.

The U.S. Mint unveiled the design of the coin Oct. 5 at the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood convention in Anchorage. The 2020 Native American coin will go on sale early next year.

The coin will feature a portrait of the late civil rights leader _ composed and graceful, her hair in tight rolls _ above words that highlight her legacy: ``Anti-discrimination Law of 1945.'' An image of a raven, depicting her Tlingit lineage, soars near her.

``The coin will be a lasting tribute to Elizabeth Peratrovich and her relentless efforts to tear down the wall of discrimination against Alaska Natives,'' said Patrick Hernandez, acting deputy director of the U.S. Mint. ``Perhaps Elizabeth was like the raven, crying out until the darkness of discrimination was dispelled.''

The coin will teach the world about Peratrovich's brave acts and ``what Alaska was like'' and wants to be in the future, said Gov. Mike Dunleavy, speaking after the coin's unveiling.

``This is history in the making,'' said Dunleavy, who on Saturday also signed a bill that establishes November as Alaska Native Heritage Month. ``There will be people not just in Alaska, not just in this country, but in this world that will understand what this courageous woman did for all of humanity.''

Peratrovich and her husband, Roy Peratrovich, championed the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act depicted on the coin.

During the World War II years in Juneau, they were appalled by the ``White Trade Only'' signs they saw outside public establishments, said Jackie Pata, a Tlingit and former executive director of National Congress of American Indians.

Leaders of the Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood, the Peratrovich couple traveled to Alaska communities, building support against discrimination, Pata said. They sought help from from territorial Gov. Ernest Gruening, who signed the bill into law on Feb. 16, now Elizabeth Peratrovich day.

At the age of 33, Peratrovich uttered her memorable testimony after a territorial senator suggested that people ``barely out of savagery'' shouldn't associate with ``whites with 5,000 years of recorded civilization.''

``I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind the gentlemen with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind them of our Bill of Rights,'' she answered.

Elizabeth's passionate testimony changed the vote, Pata said Saturday. The bill guaranteed equal access in restaurants, hotels and other places nearly 20 years before Congress approved the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

``That small woman who stood there in that Legislature, had more power than those she stood amongst,'' Pata said.

Later, Elizabeth fought for health care and educational rights, and for Alaska Natives to become part of the National Congress of American Indians, Pata said.

The Native American coin program, the result of an act passed by Congress in 1997, honors a Native American person or tribe each year. One side always features Sacagawea, the Lemhi Shoshone woman who assisted the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The Mint worked with Alaska Natives to help design the Elizabeth Peratrovich coin, officials with the agency said.

It can be spent or collected, and will be produced at the U.S. Mints in Denver and Philadelphia, said Michael White, a spokesman with the U.S. Mint.

A roll of 25 will cost $32.95, a bag of 100 will cost $111.95 and boxes of 250 will cost $275.95, White said.

Peratrovich died in 1958, at age 47.

``Even at this moment, she is still speaking,'' said Paulette Moreno, grand president of the Alaska Native Sisterhood.

Information from: Anchorage Daily News,


Indian National Rodeo Finals To Be Televised On Ride TV

For the first time, the Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR) will be televised, with RIDE TV carrying the Championship Round live from South Point Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, October 26. Showcasing the action from previous rounds, RIDE TV will also air five one-hour INFR highlight shows in December on dates to be announced.

The 44th annual Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR) will once again take over the South Point Arena October 22 - 26, 2019. More than 400 Native American athletes from 50 tribes in the U.S. and Canada will compete in the Major and Junior-Senior events. PBR (Professional Bull Riders), which represents INFR’s media rights, brokered the deal with RIDE TV, the nation’s first and only television network dedicated exclusively to equestrian sports, culture and lifestyle.

“INFR is honored to join forces with RIDE TV and RidePass to host the first INFR to be carried on live television,” said Donna Hoyt, General Manager, INFR. “This has been a vision and goal for some time. We have a great media partnership with PBR, and it has made this vision a reality for our members. We are excited for INFR professional cowboys and cowgirls to have the opportunity to be on national TV as well as RidePass, the leading western sports digital network.”

“We are really excited that our great partnership with the PBR has led us to the INFR,” said Craig Morris, President, RIDE TV. “RIDE TV continually strives to put the highest quality rodeo content on the air, and this is no exception. The INFR is something that is so special and unique; we believe RIDE TV viewers are really going to love this iconic event.”

All 10 rounds of the INFR will also be carried live by RidePass, the PBR’s western sports digital network. “In representing INFR’s media rights, PBR is proud to bring another rodeo to television, increasing coverage of the sport to meet fan demand while creating new fans,” said Sean Gleason, CEO, PBR. “Natives have a rich history in rodeo and bull riding, and we will continue to work to showcase these great athletes and tell their stories. RIDE TV has been a great partner of PBR in carrying the red-hot PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, and we’re excited about their new INFR programming.”


The Indian National Finals Rodeo, Inc. (INFR) has been an important part of Indian Rodeo tradition and culture for more than 40 years. Since 1976, INFR has become the premier arena where champion American Indian cowboys and cowgirls compete against each other in the sport of professional Indian Rodeo. The INFR, which has more than 3,000 members representing 12 regions from the United States and Canada, sanctions more than 20 Tour Rodeos and close to 100 region rodeos annually, culminating at the Indian National Finals Rodeo held in Las Vegas, NV. October 22-26, 2019 and awarding more than $1 million in cash and prizes. The INFR is more than just rodeo in leading the way with diabetes awareness and suicide prevention campaigns. The nonprofit 501 c (3) organization also awards college scholarships to Native rodeo athletes. For more information visit


RIDE TV is 24-hour, high-definition television network dedicated to showcasing equestrian sports, culture and lifestyle. RIDE TV delivers high-quality programming to audiences across the nation. From live sports and documentary series to feature films, RIDE TV is the premier destination for equestrian content. To see where RIDE TV is available near you, visit

About PBR

PBR is the world’s premier bull riding organization. More than 700 bull riders compete in more than 200 events annually across the televised PBR Unleash the Beast Tour (UTB), which features the top 35 bull riders in the world; the PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour (PWVT); the PBR Touring Pro Division (TPD); and the PBR’s international circuits in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. PBR’s digital assets include RidePass, which is home to Western sports. PBR is a subsidiary of Endeavor, a global entertainment, sports and content company. For more information, visit, or follow on Facebook at, Twitter at, and YouTube at


Group Finds More Prehistoric Artifacts at Illinois Dig Site

WILMINGTON, Ill. (AP) _ A group conducting an archaeological dig in northern Illinois has found pieces of broken pottery, projectile points and other artifacts dating to the 1600s.

Two University of Notre Dame professors have been leading summer volunteers on an exploration at the Midewin (MID-ee-win) National Tallgrass Prairie. The project at the Middle Grant Creek Site is revealing how people of the Oneota culture lived in the area four centuries ago.

Earlier this month volunteers digging in a 6-foot-deep (1.8-meter-deep) pit found projectile points made of rock that would have been used for hunting. They've also found painted pottery and needles made from bones, which were likely used to weave mats from tallgrass.

The group is gathering evidence to reconstruct the environment and ecology of the last prehistoric culture of the upper Midwest.


Georgia-Based Church Group Returns Land to Native Americans

ATLANTA (AP) _ A Georgia-based church group has returned sacred land in Ohio to the Wyandotte Nation.

The United Methodist Church Global Ministries transferred the deed during a Sept. 21 ceremony and procession, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported .

``This is monumental,'' said Billy Friend, chief of the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma.

``I think when our ancestors left, they always thought that someday they would be back and, of course, that never happened,'' he added.

The land had been held in trust for 176 years by the ministries group, based in Atlanta.

The land is about 3 acres (1.2 hectares). It includes a stone church that dates to 1824 and a cemetery in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

Native American lands across the country were often taken by the government or settlers. The Wyandotte Indians were forced from their land by the federal government under the Indian Removal Act and relocated to Kansas and, later, Oklahoma. Friend called this forced removal ``our Trail of Tears.''

At the Ohio site, students, tribal members and elders have visited to gain a connection to their ancestral land and history, Friend said. The Wyandotte Nation includes more than 6,600 tribal citizens. Most live in Oklahoma.

The link between the Methodist ministry and Native Americans has gained significance over the years, said Thomas Kemper, general secretary of the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries.

It's a history that contains both admirable and regrettable chapters ``that give context to the expanding opportunities we have today to be in ministry with Native American communities,'' Kemper said.


Archaeologists Race Clock as They Uncover Colonial Fort

WINDHAM, Maine (AP) _ Archaeologists are racing the clock to dig up the remains of a fort from the 1700s.

The Maine Historical Preservation Commission says Province Fort was built during the colonial era to protect settlers from Native Americans who opposed their encroachment in what's now Windham.

The remains were covered by a road and archaeologists have a narrow window to check out the site during a road widening and repaving project.

Archaeologists have found bases of chimneys, walls, bottles and pottery.

Archaeologist John Mosher said he and others were worried that there was nothing left at the site. But he said what they've found has been ``absolutely amazing.''

Tribe At Center Of Pipeline Protests Launches Solar Farm

Associated Press

CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) _ The American Indian tribe at the center of tumultuous protests against the Dakota Access pipeline unveiled a solar farm that came about partly due to the tribe's fierce opposition to the oil pipeline's environmental impact.

Located just 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's solar project is meant as a first step toward clean energy independence and a way to power all 12 of the reservation communities in North Dakota and South Dakota. It also shows that the protests that began in 2016 and ended in 2017 weren't for naught, even though the pipeline began carrying oil more than two years ago, said Cody Two Bears, the project leader and executive director of Indigenized Energy, which promotes energy within the Sioux Nation.

Two Bears said the solar project ``pays tribute to everyone who's come to Standing Rock and all their hard work and tireless dedication toward protecting our people and land.''

The project has 1,000 panels covering about three acres of wide-open prairie near Cannon Ball, with plans to expand to 10 acres.

A night of Native American dancing, music indigenous foods and gift giving was kicked off by actress Shailene Woodley, a loyal protester who was returning to the reservation for the first time in two years. She tearfully hugged and greeted dozens of people when she arrived at the solar farm and told the group afterward that they are ``sharing their wisdom'' with the rest of the world.

``This is the beginning of something incredibly massive that I don't think anyone of us can began to fathom at this moment,'' she said.

Presidential hopeful and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard rode into the farm on horseback.

Woodley visited the protest camp several times where thousands of people lived for months and sometimes clashed with law enforcement. More than 700 people were arrested during the protests.

Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, an executive with the economic development entity of Nebraska's Winnebago Tribe, which began dabbling in solar energy a decade ago, said the national interest around the protests should translate into promotion of renewable energy.

``Tribes have always been strong advocates and set the marker to where we need to be on,'' Bledsoe Downes said. ``If there's any good from what happened at the DAPL protest, I hope that it was a catalyst to that.''

Numerous tribes have turned to solar power and other forms of green energy in the last decade as a way of creating jobs and cutting down on energy costs without harming the environment. Bledsoe Downes said the Winnebago Tribe is saving $100,000 a year, money that ``goes back into housing or down payment assistance or tribal roads or infrastructure costs or youth programming.''

Several solar energy nonprofits joined forces to build the $470,000 Standing Rock facility, and those organizations are billing it as the largest solar energy farm in North Dakota. It currently powers the Sioux Nation Community Center and Veterans Memorial Building.

Hayes Barnard, president of San Francisco-based GivePower Foundation, which made the largest donation of $370,000, said the solar farm is a ``testament to the tribe's steadfast commitment to going beyond protesting and inciting real change.''


NC Firm Fires Worker Over Invoice For 'Poka Honas'

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ A Valvoline Instant Oil Change center in North Carolina has fired a worker over an invoice that called a customer ``poka honas,'' an apparent reference to Pocahontas.

The Asheville Citizen Times reports the business's invoice shows the customer's address as Raccoon Trail, a street that doesn't exist in Asheville. A woman who says she's a friend of the customer posted the invoice on social media. She says the customer is a person of color. The newspaper says the customer wasn't available to comment.

Valvoline spokesman Sean Cornett says the service center immediately fired the worker and apologized to the customer. He says the company doesn't tolerate discrimination.

President Donald Trump has called Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren ``Pocahontas'' since she said a DNA test showed she has Native American ancestry.


Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times,


Native Hawaiians Say Telescope Represents Bigger Struggle

Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) _ Walter Ritte has been fighting for decades to protect Native Hawaiian rights, inspiring a new generation of activists trying to stop construction of a giant telescope they see as representative of a bigger struggle.

In his early 30s, Ritte occupied a small Hawaiian island used as a military bombing range. Now at 74, he's still a prolific protester, getting arrested this week for blocking a road to stop construction of the one of the world's most powerful telescopes on Hawaii's tallest peak, which some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

For activists who say they're protecting Mauna Kea, the long-running telescope fight encapsulates critical issues to Native Hawaiians: the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, clashes over land and water rights, frustration over tourism, attempts to curb development and questions about how the islands should be governed.

It's an example of battles by Native Americans to preserve ancestral lands, with high-profile protests like Dakota Access pipeline leading to arrests in southern North Dakota in 2016 and 2017.

For Native Hawaiians, opposition to the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope isn't universal _ some support the educational opportunities from the project and are facing backlash from those questioning their identity.

Ritte's first taste of activism came during a resurgence of cultural pride and identity that began in the late 1960s and 1970s. He and other Native Hawaiian men hid on the small island of Kahoolawe that the military used for bombing practice. They were arrested, but the U.S. eventually stopped the training.

``We didn't know anything about ourselves as Hawaiians,'' Ritte said of his youth. ``When we got involved with Kahoolawe, we had no language, no history.''

The young people leading the fight against the telescope grew up learning about his experiences and speaking Hawaiian amid an ongoing cultural renaissance. A 30-year-old leader of the telescope protest, Kaho'okahi Kanuha, credits Ritte and the Hawaiian movement for allowing him to grow up rooted to his culture.

``Uncle Walter can talk about not knowing the language and not knowing the history. But he knew how to stand up, and he knew how to fight,'' Kanuha said. ``Because of the things they did, the results were Hawaiian language programs. The results were revitalization of the culture and of understanding and of awakening.''

At Mauna Kea, Kanuha wears a traditional battle helmet as he speaks Hawaiian with protesters and negotiates with law enforcement. Thanks to the movement, he said he was able to learn Hawaiian at an immersion preschool and eventually earn a bachelor's degree in Hawaiian language from the University of Hawaii.

He's fighting a project that dates to 2009, when scientists selected Mauna Kea after a global campaign to find the ideal site for what telescope officials said ``will likely revolutionize our understanding of the universe.'' The mountain on the Big Island is revered for its consistently clear weather and lack of light pollution.

The telescope won a series of approvals from Hawaii, including a permit to build on conservation land in 2011. Protests began during a groundbreaking in 2014 and culminated in arrests in 2015.

Last year, the state Supreme Court upheld the construction permit, though protesters are still fighting in court and at the mountain.

Thirty-four people, mostly elders, were arrested this week as officials try to start building again.

The swelling protest is a natural reaction to the pain Native Hawaiians have endured and the changes the islands have seen, said Glen Kila, program director of Marae Ha'a Koa, a Hawaiian cultural center.

``The pain began when they took people off the land,'' he said. ``And then they took governance and stewardship of the land, like Mauna Kea.''

The battle is bigger than the telescope, said Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a teacher and cultural practitioner.

``The TMT and Mauna Kea is just the focal point. For me it's just a galvanizing element,'' she said. ``It goes back to the role that foreigners played and continue to play in Hawaii.''

From 18th century explorer James Cook's arrival in the islands, to laborers brought to plantations and today's tourism, the telescope is another example of outside interests overtaking Hawaiian culture, she said.

``They capitalize and commercialize our culture,'' Wong-Kalu said. ``They prostitute the elements that make us Hawaiian. They make it look pretty and make it look alluring in an effort to bring more money into this state.''

But not all Native Hawaiians see the telescope as representative of past wrongs.

``My family feels that they're trying to use the TMT to boost their sovereignty issue,'' said Annette Reyes, a Native Hawaiian who supports the telescope project. ``I want sovereignty for the Hawaiian people. I want them to have their country back. But TMT shouldn't be the lightning rod for it.''

Reyes pointed to telescope officials' pledge to provide $1 million every year to boost science, technology, engineering and math education. She said opponents have called her a fake Hawaiian for supporting the project.

For some, it's not just a political issue. It's spiritual for Kealoha Pisciotta, who's long fought the telescope.

``The problem is being Hawaiian today is a political statement,'' she said. ``We have to take political action to practice religion.''

Mauna Kea is a ``living entity'' that ``gives life,'' Kila said.

``So that's a different philosophy from the scientific world, that it's just a mountain that can be used for an observatory. It can be developed. For us, that's sacrilegious,'' he said.

For Ritte and others, the telescope is the latest battle over Hawaiian culture. He spent 11 hours MonDAY lying attached to a grate in the road leading up to Mauna Kea's summit with seven other protesters.

``We protected and saved Kahoolawe from the United States military,'' Ritte said. ``Now we have to save and protect the rest of our islands.''


Presidential Hopefuls to Address Native American Issues

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) _ A presidential campaign event focused on Native American issues is being planned in Sioux City, Iowa, next month.

Several groups are working together to plan the forum on Aug. 19 and Aug. 20.

O.J. Semans of the voting rights group Four Directions says it would be a mistake for candidates to ignore Native American voters.

The Sioux City Journal reports that organizers are working to get firm commitments from candidates to attend.

The event is named in honor of activist Frank LaMere, who died last month after battling cancer. He was a Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska member who fought for a variety of causes. He lived in South Sioux City, Nebraska.


Longtime Nebraska Native American Activist Frank LaMere Dies

Frank LaMere, March 1, 1950 - June 16, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ A longtime Democratic activist who spent his life fighting for Native American causes in Nebraska has died.

Frank LaMere's son says the 69-year-old died Sunday, June 16, after a bout with cancer.

LaMere was known nationally for his decades-long effort to close four beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska, that were blamed for alcohol-related problems on the neighboring Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Regulators shuttered the stores in 2017.

He also was a prominent critic of the Omaha Police Department's handling of Zachary BearHeels, a mentally ill Native American man who died in 2017 after officers punched and shocked him with a Taser.

LaMere served on the Democratic National Committee from 1996 through 2009 and was a delegate for multiple party conventions. He was a member of the American Indian Movement.

Trump Expresses Condolences After Navajo Code Talker's Death

John Pinto, December 15, 1924 - May 24, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ President Donald Trump is expressing condolences following the death of New Mexico Sen. John Pinto, a Democrat and Navajo Code Talker, who died last week at age 94.

Trump tweeted Friday, May 31, that he was saddened to hear about Pinto's death. A funeral for the longtime senator, who died May 24, was held Thursday, May 30, in Gallup.

Pinto was a World War II-era Marine who was among hundreds of Navajo Code Talkers - radio men who translated American coordinates and messages into an indecipherable code based on their language.

Trump called them "true American HEROES,'' while also noting Pinto's life of public service.

Pinto served in the New Mexico Senate for more than four decades, making him the longest-serving senator in state history.


WWII Code Talker and Longtime NM Lawmaker Dies at 94


Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ John Pinto, a Navajo Code Talker in World War II who became one of the nation's longest serving Native American elected officials as a New Mexico state senator, has died. He was 94.

Senate colleague Michael Padilla confirmed Pinto's death in Gallup on Friday, May 24, after years of suffering from various illnesses that rarely kept him from his duties.

After serving as a Marine, Pinto was elected to the Senate in 1976 and represented a district that includes the Navajo Nation for more than four decades. The region is one of the poorest in the country.

"Words cannot express the sadness we feel for the loss of a great Dine warrior,'' said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, using the indigenous word for Navajo. "He dedicated his life to helping others.''

Born in Lupton, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation to a family of sheep herders, Pinto didn't start formal schooling until he was nearly a teenager.

"At the age of 12, I was in kindergarten,'' Pinto told the Albuquerque Journal in a 2007 interview. "I guess I did all right.''

Pinto also recalled that his grandparents told of being forced at gunpoint from their land in the 1860s by the U.S. Army in the forced relocation of the Navajo people on foot to southern New Mexico.

After serving as a Code Talker - a group of radio men who translated American coordinates and messages into an indecipherable code based on the Navajo language - Pinto had to take an English test four times before he was finally admitted into the University of New Mexico's College of Education.

He graduated with a bachelor's in elementary education at 39, and eventually earned his master's, becoming a teacher and a truancy officer in Gallup.

Pinto delved into politics to address the needs of impoverished indigenous populations. The Democrat won a seat in state Senate in 1976 as one of the state's first Native American senators.

An unassuming appearance and manner belied Pinto's political determination that carried him through 42 years in the Legislature. Laurie Canepa, the senior librarian for the Legislative Council Service, said that made him the longest serving senator in state history.

Manny Aragon, the state's one-time Senate president, tells the story of driving to the Statehouse in a January 1977 snowstorm and picking up a middle-aged Navajo man who was hitchhiking in Albuquerque. The hitchhiker was newly elected Sen. Pinto.

"I just thought he was a transient,'' Aragon said.

In the Legislature, Pinto advocated for education reform and anti-poverty programs. Receiving a lifetime achievement award in 2016, Pinto recalled going hungry at times as a child while his parents juggled odd jobs and said the experience influenced his work on issues of homelessness as a lawmaker.

Every year, Pinto would sing on the Senate floor the "Potato Song'' - a Navajo song about a potato, planted in the spring and visited in the summer until it is harvested. Fellow senators, staff and aides clapped along to Pinto's rendition.

Lenore Naranjo, the Senate's chief clerk, says Pinto taught her bits of Navajo language over the decades.

"A beautiful man is all I can say,'' Naranjo said.


Associated Press writer Russell Contreras contributed to this report from Albuquerque.

(Editor’s Note: Mr. Fleming Begaye, Sr., a fellow code talker passed away on May 10, listed below.)


WWII-Era Navajo Code Talker Fleming Begaye Sr. Dies at 97

CHINLE, Ariz. (AP) _ The Navajo Nation has announced that World War II-era Navajo Code Talker Fleming Begaye Sr. has died.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says Begaye died Friday in Chinle, Arizona. He was 97.

The cause of death was not disclosed.

Begaye was among hundreds of Navajos who served in the Marine Corps, using a code based on their native language to outsmart the Japanese.

According to the Navajo Nation, Begaye served as a Code Talker from 1943 to 1945 and fought in the Battle of Tarawa and the Batter of Tinian. He spent a year in a naval hospital after being wounded.

Begaye later ran a general store in Chinle.

President Donald Trump honored Begaye and two other Navajo Code Talkers at the White House in November 2017.


Native American Group Opposes Draft Social Studies Standards

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Native American education advocates are raising concerns that Nebraska's proposed social studies standards fall short of teaching a comprehensive history of Native Americans.

The newly formed Nebraska Indian Education Association wants the statewide standards that were unveiled this month to better disprove misconceptions about Native Americans and emphasize local tribes, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

The Nebraska Department of Education is seeking public input on the drafted education guidelines.

Derek LaPointe, executive officer of the Santee Sioux Nation tribal council, said Nebraska schools focus on teaching the period of disruption, relocation and war after 1850.

``That's a blink of an eye in the lifetime of the tribe,'' said LaPointe, who's also an organizer for the association.

The group wants schools to teach about tribal sovereignty and Indian science and horticulture. They're also pushing for more instruction about the centuries before European settlement when their civilization thrived.

LaPointe said teachers focus on certain events such as the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 in South Dakota, without considering tragic events that occurred closer to home.

There's ``so much focus on Oklahoma and the Trail of Tears, but we've all had our share of the Trail of Tears,'' he said.

The association formed this year in response to Native American youths' persistent low-achievement rates in Nebraska schools.

Association leader Marian Holstein said teaching about tribal history could help address an identity crisis that many Native American youth face, which has affected children's self-esteem and their academic performance.

``There's never been teaching about our native people, and how intelligent we were,'' said Holstein, who's also a board member of Winnebago Public Schools. ``It's always been the savages, the heathens, that we were less than men. That has trickled down.''

John Witzel, president of the Nebraska State Board of Education, acknowledged that the proposed standards' approach to Native American topics is ``pretty general.''

``We appreciate their inputs, and are going to seek more inputs, and we've got time to make changes, adjustments, revisions, whatever's necessary,'' he said.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald,


Mills Could Restore 'Neglected' Tribal-State Commission

Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ Maine's governor could restore a long-neglected tribal-state commission that saw seats go unfilled under the previous administration.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' spokesman Scott Ogden said she plans to nominate new members of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission ``as soon as possible.'' Such nominations would require hearings and Senate confirmation.

Mills has pledged to address long-tense relations between state government and tribes in Maine after facing criticism for her role as former attorney general in legal action concerning tribal fishing and water quality rights. So far, Mills has spoken out against Native American mascots and appointed a former Penobscot Tribal Council member as a senior adviser.

She has called the inter-governmental commission ``neglected'' and her campaign website promised she'd work to enhance its authority to handle disputes.

``Gov. Mills believes the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission has the potential to improve and strengthen the relationship between the state and Maine tribes,'' Ogden said.

The inter-governmental commission, which dates back to the 1980 tribal land claims settlement, is supposed to have 13 members, including six state representatives and a chair. The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Indian Nation each appoint two members.

But the commission last had a full slate of members in early 2013 and gradually became less operational as slots for state representatives went unfilled, according to Managing Director Paul Thibeault. He said that the commission hasn't been fully operational for several years.

``When state members left for one reason or another they were not replaced and state members with expired terms were not re-appointed,'' Thibeault said.

Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage signed a 2011 executive order recognizing a ``relationship between equals'' among Maine tribes and the state. But the state and tribes later came into conflicts over tribal fishing and other issues, and in 2015, LePage rescinded that order.

He claimed his administration's efforts had been ``unproductive because the state of Maine's interests have not been respected in the ongoing relationship between sovereigns.''

In past years, the commission's focus has ranged from high school mascots to land-use disputes and disagreement over salt-water fisheries involving the lucrative elvers industry. Commissioners also have jurisdiction over fishing rules for certain waters in or near Passamaquoddy or Penobscot territory.

The commission can air out issues and make recommendations, but it lacks the formal authority to resolve disputes.

Thibeault said the first step to bolstering the commission is ensuring it has 13 members as required by statute. Thibeault also estimated a commission with more authority would need another $115,000 in annual funding, doubling the budget, for another staff member or consultants.

Mills has shown a commitment to doing so, Thibeault said. In April, the commission sent Mills a list of potential nominees, he said.


Bill in Congress would Resolve Large Utah Water Rights Claim

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ Federal legislation has been introduced to settle one of the largest outstanding water rights claims in Utah.

The settlement would give the Navajo Nation 81,500 acre-feet annually of Utah's unused share of water from the upper Colorado River basin.

Utah and the Navajo Nation reached the agreement in 2016, but it needs congressional approval.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney introduced the bill earlier this month. Arizona's two U.S. senators signed on as co-sponsors.

The bill would provide the Navajo Nation with $210 million for water infrastructure projects, including wells, pipelines and water treatment plants. Utah agreed to chip in $8 million.

The Navajo Nation originally claimed twice as much water as the settlement includes. Tribes often settle claims in exchange for funding to put the water to use.


Grand Canyon Watchtower to be Maintained as Cultural Site

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) _ Officials at the Grand Canyon say they're expanding programming at a historic watchtower where visitors can learn about Native American culture.

The National Park Service's Intermountain Region signed off on the plan last month.

The Desert View Watchtower near the east entrance of Grand Canyon gives visitors expansive views of the painted desert and the Little Colorado River Gorge. It had housed a gift shop up until 2015 when the Park Service turned it into a cultural heritage site.

The Grand Canyon is planning to add demonstrations, exhibits and opportunities for visitors to interact with tribal members and artists there.

The 70-foot (21-meter) watchtower was built in the early 1930s by famed architect Mary Colter. Stone covering the National Historic Landmark hides the building's steel frame.


Nevada, Utah Tribes Join Protest Against Plutonium Shipments

RENO, Nev. (AP) _ Thirteen tribes in Nevada and western Utah are urging President Donald Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry to suspend any shipments of weapons-grade plutonium to a site north of Las Vegas.

Tribal leaders say they share the state's concerns that they were not informed or consulted about a half metric ton (1,102 pounds) of the radioactive material the government secretly shipped to Nevada over the state's objections last year.

Las Vegas Paiute Tribe Chairman Chris Spotted Eagle says his tribe has two reservations in downtown Las Vegas and the northwestern part of the Las Vegas Valley that sit along the transportation routes that may have been used to truck the plutonium to the Nevada National Security Site.

Energy Department officials confirmed last week they are working with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto to expedite removal of the plutonium from Nevada.


Grant to Help Michigan Tribe Boost Environmental Reporting

BARAGA, Mich. (AP) _ A Michigan-based Native American tribe has received a federal grant to modernize its environmental data reporting system.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded $195,000 to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Baraga.

Regional administrator Kathy Stepp says the funding will enable the tribe to join an online data exchange network.

The network is used by the EPA, state, tribal and territorial partners to share environmental and health information. Officials say it will provide the tribe with better access to a number of data systems including a nationwide inventory of toxic releases.

Tribal President Warren Swartz Jr. says it will help the tribe make well-informed decisions, while boosting openness and public participation.

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community expects the project to be operational in spring 2020.


Cherokee May Regain Control of Sacred Mound After 200 Years

FRANKLIN, N.C. (AP) _ Ownership of an ancient mound in North Carolina may return in part to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, two centuries after European settlers took the land.

News outlets report the Franklin town council voted this month to move forward with plans to deed control of the Nikwasi Mound to the nonprofit Nikwasi Initiative. The town currently controls the land, but the transfer would split control among the town, the tribe, Macon County and Mainspring Conservation Trust.

Franklin Vice Mayor Barbara McRae says the move is an opportunity to ``reverse that wrong'' by allowing the tribe some representation in the mound's management. Calling the plan ``amazing,'' Cherokee representative Juanita Wilson says nobody would lose anything.

The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources says the mound was built around 1000 A.D.


South Dakota Senate Passes Governor's Pipeline Protest Bills

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) _ South Dakota senators have passed Gov. Kristi Noem's last-minute bills to prepare for potential protests over the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The Senate voted Thursday to send the measures to the House, which was to debate them later that day. The push comes late in session, and critics have panned the administration's lack of consultation with Native American tribes .

The Republican governor's bills would require pipeline companies to chip in on protest-related expenses and create a way to pursue money from those who fund destructive demonstrations. Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, a supporter, says the bill going after protest funders seeks to protect families and communities who would be victims of ``terrorist conduct.''

Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert, an opponent, says he thinks it has ``constitutional issues'' and suspects it will be challenged in court.


New Yellowstone Superintendent Lays Out His Priorities

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) _ Cam Sholly didn't expect to be here. Not when he was finishing high school in Gardiner, not when he was clearing backcountry trails after leaving the Army, not when he returned to the National Park Service for good.

He doesn't recall a time when he was aspiring to the top jobs of the agency, despite his family history _ a grandfather who served as superintendent of Badlands National Park, a father who worked as Yellowstone National Park's chief ranger.

But here he is, settled into the superintendent's office inside the 110-year-old administration building at the nation's first national park, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported .

``Becoming superintendent of Yellowstone was beyond my wildest dreams,'' he said recently, sitting in an armchair in his office. ``It wasn't planned.''

Saying it wasn't planned sounds like an understatement. After holding a few different high-level jobs within the Park Service, Sholly became director of the agency's Midwest Region in 2015. He was based in Omaha, Nebraska, and he oversaw 61 park units in 13 states. He thought he'd be there a while.

Then came a controversial reassignment plan, one that resulted in former Yellowstone superintendent Dan Wenk saying he was being forced out of the agency. Sholly was selected to take his place.

He has been here since October. On his second day, he appeared at a field hearing in Gardiner with Republican Sen. Steve Daines. He met with Gov. Steve Bullock, too, and county commissioners and other people with a stake in the park. The five-week government shutdown interrupted his indoctrination, but he's seen enough to get ideas of what can be done better and what he wants to keep rolling along.

He talks of the nobility of the mission of the National Park Service, which is the preservation of natural and cultural resources of the park system. In Yellowstone, that largely means the ecosystem itself. He comes with a rosy view of its state, pointing to the recovery of wolves, grizzly bears and other animals. But he has no illusions that it's invincible.

``It is an ecosystem under threat,'' Sholly said. ``Whether that's climate change, whether that's increased visitation. It's under threat but it is in good condition, and we need to continue to do everything we can to understand and respond effectively to those challenges in the future.''


Sholly, 49, has been mulling a suite of priorities for the park, and near the top of the list is taking care of its staff. Among the top priorities for the near future: employee housing.

``Yellowstone employee housing is, for the most part, as a whole, embarrassing,'' Sholly said.

There are employee homes all over the park, including near places like Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake. There are a total of 445 units, Sholly said, and 60 of them are trailers.

Already in his short tenure he's heard horror stories _ rodent infestations, broken stove burners and more. It's not everywhere, he said, but it's not nowhere, and some of the problems are hitting those who live deepest inside the park.

``These people are in the interior protecting this park in isolated conditions,'' Sholly said. ``The least we can do is do better with housing.''

He comes to this challenge and every other knowing what it's like to grow up in national parks. His father worked in a few different parks before Yellowstone. Sholly has memories of growing up in Yosemite, Crater Lake, Hawaii Volcanoes.

He finished his last year-and-a-half of high school in Gardiner, graduating in 1987. Immediately afterward, he joined the U.S. Army, and he ended up being deployed to Operation Desert Storm in 1990.

Sholly was out of the Army by 1991 and back in Montana. He worked in maintenance in Yellowstone for a couple of summers, his first job with the park service, and he gave college a try at Montana State University. He didn't finish his degree there, instead moving to California to work at Yosemite.

After a few years at Yosemite, he joined the California Highway Patrol. He stayed with the state police force for six years. It also nearly killed him.

One night in August 1999, he and a partner were patrolling south of San Francisco when they started chasing a car going well over 100 mph.

Sholly was in the passenger's seat. His partner was driving, trying to overtake the car. He lost control.

The patrol car hit a guard rail at more than 100 mph, Sholly said, the full impact going to the passenger side.

Extrication took more than 40 minutes, Sholly said. His back and pelvis were broken in multiple places. He was 29.

``It's at that point you kind of realize you want to have other options and alternatives in life,'' he said.

He decided to finish his undergraduate degree at St. Mary's College after the wreck. He stayed with the highway patrol for three more years, until the park service drew him back.

``It was a good chapter in my life,'' he said. ``I think the nobility of the park service mission is a draw. It was something I wanted to migrate back to.''


Yosemite is where the return began in 2002. After serving as chief ranger of operations there, he moved upward. A job in the park service's Washington, D.C. office, then superintendent of Natchez Trace Parkway in the southeast, then back to D.C., followed by the move to Omaha.

Stephanie Adams, of the National Parks Conservation Association, said moves like that are normal for agency employees, and that Sholly appeared to build a good reputation along the way.

``It seems like Cam has built a really strong track record within the park service,'' Adams said.

He joined the ranks of the Senior Executive Service, an elite group of park service employees who can be easily transferred within 60 days notice. Such a reassignment comes with two options _ accept or leave the agency.

His assignment to Yellowstone was reportedly part of a broader shuffle involving seven people in all. At least three people who were asked to accept new jobs, including former superintendent Wenk, retired instead.

The reassignment disrupted Sholly's idea that he might be in Omaha for a few years. While he moved to Yellowstone, his wife and son stayed there. He visits when he can, including while on furlough during the shutdown. They plan to join him here later this year.

Sholly was fully aware of the possibility that he could be reassigned at the drop of a hat when he joined the Senior Executive Service. Such moves aren't uncommon, he said, and he can't say how long he'll be in Yellowstone. But he's happy to be here.

``My job coming in here is to keep the good things going, try to keep good momentum in places where we had momentum going, and work on areas (Wenk) didn't get to,'' Sholly said.


At the time of the reassignments, Wenk cited a disagreement with the Trump administration over bison management. He later said he was told that wasn't the reason he was asked to leave Yellowstone.

Still, it fueled speculation that Sholly would arrive in Yellowstone with orders to significantly reduce the bison population, which was estimated at near 4,500 last fall. Bison are the one animal the park culls, through its ship-to-slaughter program, and some wondered if the Interior Department wanted Sholly to bring numbers down.

No such order was given, according to Sholly.

``Never happened,'' he said. ``Never has happened.''

His vision for the park's bison isn't much different from Wenk's. He said the population is at a place where they can try to keep it relatively stable, with post-calving numbers in the low- to mid-4,000s.

He also wants to see the quarantine program advance. Under Wenk, the park proposed quarantining bison for brucellosis at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in north central Montana.

Certifying bison as brucellosis free allows them to be moved more freely, and potentially released to join other wild herds or establish new ones. The park proposal was meant to help restore bison to other parts of the country and reduce the number slaughtered each year. Many conservationists support it, but some see it as the park domesticating wild bison and caving to the beef industry, which fears the spread of the disease.

The program is running now, but not at Fort Peck. Yellowstone has almost 80 bison in two quarantine corrals now going through what's known as phase two of the process _ months of brucellosis testing and time spent isolated from any wild animals. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also has five bulls it says could go to Fort Peck for the final phase of quarantine, known as assurance testing.

Fort Peck tribal officials want to be involved at phase two, and they have corrals that meet federal quarantine requirements. But state and federal agriculture officials have concerns about moving the bison out of the Yellowstone area without first completing that round of testing.

Sholly said he wants the tribes involved earlier, too, but that he understands the concerns of the livestock officials. Part of the reason he wants the tribes involved at that stage is capacity. His corrals can only handle so many bison at once, meaning only so many bison can be restored to new places if the program is successful.

``We are going to need to determine how do we establish a quarantine infrastructure that can facilitate a larger number of bison to enter the quarantine process and ultimately get put out onto larger landscapes,'' he said. ``It's something that's a work in progress and that we need to think about. It's not a pure National Park Service responsibility.''


Sholly has inherited the issue of ballooning visitation. In 2018, the park counted more than 4 million visits for the fourth consecutive year. The total was more than 20 percent higher than the total in 2013.

Many conservationists are concerned about the growing crowds, and they're wondering how many is too many.

``We certainly are paying attention to summer visitation issues and crowd management,'' said Scott Christensen, conservation director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

Sholly recognizes that it's growing, but he's not ready to jump to a conclusion on how it should be managed. He wants more data on how people use the park. He is sure of one thing _ the park is not considering a visitor cap right now.

Even if they were, he doesn't see how a park-wide number would work with Yellowstone's vast size and its five separate entrances.

``When a huge amount of your visitation is over in Old Faithful and West,'' he said, ``are you really going to say you can't come in at Cody or you can't come in at Cooke City?''

He added that shuttle services in specific areas may be an option, but even those could get complicated.

``I think there's a lot of conversations to have,'' he said.

He is also having conversations about the park's budget, which he said could be managed better. He wants to make sure employees are taken care of, that they have a good work environment. And he's serious about improving housing.

The park is working on a 5-year housing plan, and he hopes to bring in more money for housing improvements. Plans and funding are already in place for new housing at Lake Village. Work on new seasonal housing for concession employees is in its early stages, too.

It's something he sees as a crucial part of his job, ensuring decent living conditions for the people on the front lines of preserving the wild and magnificent for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.

As for the ecosystem itself, he wants to be ready to respond to the challenges of visitors run amok or climate change or anything else. He wants to avoid a situation like what happened to the Yellowstone cutthroat in Yellowstone Lake.

Illegally introduced lake trout decimated the cutthroat population. Numbers fell to 10 percent or less of historic highs, according to the park.

Upon the discovery of non-native lake trout, which gobble up cutthroat, park officials got aggressive. Since 1994, more than 2.4 million lake trout have been killed by gill-netting. They're starting to see declining numbers of lake trout, and Sholly plans to keep the program going for the foreseeable future.

To him, it's both a success story and cautionary tale.

``For me, I think the biggest issue is, how did we almost allow a species like the cutthroat to blink out before we took the actions that we took?'' he said.


Multicultural Education Reforms Advance in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ Bills designed to improve academic achievement among Native American and Hispanic students and to revitalizing local cultural traditions including indigenous languages are advancing at the New Mexico Legislature.

A House panel on Monday endorsed bills that would expand training for teachers of English as a second language and bilingual instruction, while enlisting the help of education cooperatives.

A separate bill would add two administrative posts at the Public Education Department to oversee progress among Hispanic students and better tailor teaching to local cultures.

The bills respond to a state district judge's findings that New Mexico fails to provide an adequate education to students from low-income and minority communities, especially children who speak Spanish or Native American languages at home. A court order gives lawmakers until April to provide solutions.


City Changes Paid Time Off from Columbus Day to Election Day

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) _ An Ohio city has decided to switch the paid day off previously given to city employees in observance of Columbus Day to Election Day.

The Sandusky Register reports city commissioners in Sandusky recently authorized the change. The shift of paid time off from Columbus Day to Election Day takes effect this year. Columbus Day is on the second Monday of October. Election Day typically falls on the first day of November.

City Manager Eric Wobser said the swap gives employees a day off to vote. He says the switch also was made because Columbus Day has become ``controversial.''

Some places have abolished Columbus Day which critics say honors the mistreatment and colonization of Native Americans while celebrating explorer Christopher Columbus.

Sandusky is roughly 60 miles (97 kilometers) southeast of Toledo.


Information from: Sandusky Register,


Lawmakers Want Detroit Fort Site Designated as National Park

DETROIT (AP) _ Two lawmakers are pushing to have the site of a military fort in southwest Detroit designated as a national park.

Democratic state Sen. Stephanie Chang and Detroit City Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez want the city to deed Historic Fort Wayne to the federal government. Nearly 3,000 signatures have been gathered on a petition to support the initiative.

The star-shaped fort was built between 1842 and 1851 and features an 1848 limestone barracks building, commanding officers house, Spanish-American War guard house and a Tuskegee Airmen Museum. The grounds also contain a Native American burial site dating back more than 1,000 years.

The fort is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chang said in release that as a national park, Historic Fort Wayne would receive ``dedicated funding and resources.''


Chaco Canyon-Drilling - APNewsBreak: US Oil Lease near Sacred Park Pushes Forward

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ U.S. land managers will move forward in March with the sale of oil and gas leases that include land near Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico and other areas sacred to Native American tribes.

The sale comes as Democratic members of Congress, tribal leaders and environmentalists have criticized the federal Bureau of Land Management for pushing ahead with drilling permit reviews and preparations for energy leases despite the recent government shutdown.

With limited staff over the last month, the critics complained that they were locked out of the process because the agency didn't release any information about the sale. They also questioned whether the agency would be able to adequately review the land that's up for bid and whether it would consider protests to the move.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall told The Associated Press in an email that he's concerned about the latest attempt to lease potentially culturally significant land in New Mexico without a more comprehensive plan in place.

``It's a mistake that while critical public services were shuttered for 35 days during the government shutdown, BLM still moved forward with this opaque process,'' the New Mexico Democrat said.

Agency spokeswoman Cathy Garber said officials decided to push back the lease sale by a couple of weeks to accommodate a public protest period that was delayed because of the shutdown. The agency quietly confirmed on its website that it would accept comments starting Feb. 11 and that the sale was scheduled for March 28.

Depending on the outcome of the protests, it's possible for the agency to put off or withdraw nine parcels of land that are within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of Chaco, a world heritage site with massive stone structures, kivas and other features that archaeologists believe offered a religious or ritualistic experience.

Accessible only by rough dirt roads, Chaco takes effort to reach, and supporters say they want to protect the sense of remoteness that comes with making the journey. For tribes, the fight is centered on preserving what remains of a ceremonial and economic hub that dates back centuries.

In all, more than 50 parcels in New Mexico and Oklahoma will be up for bid.

``We cannot help but protest what appears to be an intentional bias in the favoring of oil and gas development over other interests,'' former Acoma Pueblo Gov. Kurt Riley said last week during a congressional forum.

Riley and others said the shutdown exacerbated an already tense situation over the expansion of oil and gas development in northwestern New Mexico.

In recent years, land managers have declined oil and gas exploration on land near the park, creating somewhat of an informal buffer. In early 2018, then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke halted a lease sale over cultural concerns after hundreds of people protested.

The battle over energy development around Chaco, which is bordered by the Navajo Nation and a checkboard of state and federal land, has been simmering for years. Government officials visited the region In 2015 in hopes of brokering a way forward for the tribes and energy companies.

The Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs began working together on revamping the resource management plan for the San Juan Basin, which covers a larger portion of northwestern New Mexico and parts of southern Colorado.

The partnership was meant to ensure tribes would be consulted and that scientific and archaeological analysis would be done to guarantee cultural sensitivity.

Udall argued that the repeated pursuit of land near the park and the lack of a final management plan have resulted in ``a scattershot, shoot-from-the-hip approach.'' He called for the upcoming lease sale to be delayed.

The nine parcels near the park are on the outer edge of the informal buffer zone, but critics say it's possible oil equipment could be visible from some places in the park if those areas were leased. Whether the hum of the equipment could be heard would depend on the direction of the wind. There are also concerns about light pollution affecting Chaco's revered night sky.

Paul Reed with Archaeology Southwest said the informal buffer should be adopted as part of the management plan because scientists have barely scratched the surface when it comes to studying and understanding Chaco.

``Aside from the sites that everyone knows about in Chaco, there are a number of communities that exist within the 10-mile zone that we think need a greater level of protection,'' he said.


Notre Dame to Cover Up Murals of Columbus in the New World

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) _ The University of Notre Dame will cover murals in a campus building that depict Christopher Columbus in America, the school's president said, following criticism that the images depict Native Americans in stereotypical submissive poses before white European explorers.

The 12 murals created in the 1880s by Luis Gregori were intended to encourage immigrants who had come to the U.S. during a period of anti-Catholic sentiment. But they conceal another side of Columbus: the exploitation and repression of Native Americans , said the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame.

It is a ``darker side of this story, a side we must acknowledge,'' Jenkins said in a letter Sunday.

The murals in the Catholic university's Main Building are painted directly on walls. Jenkins said they will be covered, although they still could be occasionally displayed. A permanent display of photos of the paintings will be created elsewhere with an explanation of their context.

``We wish to preserve artistic works originally intended to celebrate immigrant Catholics who were marginalized at the time in society, but do so in a way that avoids unintentionally marginalizing others,'' Jenkins said.

In 2017, more than 300 students, employees and Notre Dame alumni signed a letter in the campus newspaper that called for the removal of the murals.

The president of the Native American Student Association praised Jenkins' decision.

``This is a good step towards acknowledging the full humanity of those native people who have come before us,'' said Marcus Winchester-Jones of Dowagiac, Michigan.


Idaho Company Steals from South Dakota Tribe, Alaska Natives

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ An Idaho company that sells posters to raise money for schools has admitted to defrauding a South Dakota tribe and at least two organizations tied to Alaska Natives.

The Idaho Statesman reports attorney Scott McKay says its client, All Around Sports, in Boise, and its owner, Chris Hoshaw, have ``reached an agreement with the Department of Justice in South Dakota to resolve the matters set forth in the legal pleadings.''

McKay says the company and Hoshaw ``accept responsibility for these matters.'' He says the company ``has implemented changes to its business practices to ensure this does not occur again.''

Federal prosecutors say All Around Sports devised a fraud scheme that it used between December 2015 and December 2016 to take more than $360,000 from the victims.


Information from: Idaho Statesman,


South Dakota County Preps for Keystone XL Pipeline Protests

BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. (AP) _ Officials in a South Dakota county are preparing for the possibility of protests over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline by securing more jail cells.

The Black Hills Pioneer reports that the Butte County Commission approved an agreement last month to use Falk County's jail systems if necessary.

The move comes as TransCanada plans to start construction on the oil pipeline this year. Many environmental groups and Native American tribes have sought to block the project because of environmental concerns.

Butte County currently holds its inmates at the Meade County Jail in Sturgis. The pipeline will also run through that county.

Butte County Sheriff Fred Lamphere says he's concerned that the jail would fill up quickly should civil disturbances occur.


Information from: Black Hills Pioneer,


Murkowski to Revive Bill Meant to Help Native American Women

FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she plans to reintroduce a bill intended to help solve crimes against Native Americans. The bill received unanimous Senate approval after being introduced by North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp but was blocked by the outgoing chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte said he agreed with the intent of Heitkamp's bill, which sought to expand tribal access to federal crime databases, set standards for law enforcement's response to cases of missing or slain Native Americans, and instruct the Justice Department to increase its data collection on crimes against Native Americans.

But he said the bill would have hurt some agencies that have no link to tribal communities because they wouldn't be able to compete for Justice Department grants that the bill sought to create, The Roanoke Times reported.

Goodlatte, a Republican who is retiring after 13 terms in office, said only a limited number of law enforcement organizations are eligible for those funds ``so every other law enforcement organization in America is opposed to it, and the Fraternal Order of Police and groups like that because they're getting a cut in order to do that.''

With the House adjourned until further notice, it appears that the measure known as Savanna's Act will expire at the end of the year. Murkowski, also a Republican, has said she will take up the measure when lawmakers return to Washington.

``It's disappointing that one Republican member of Congress blocked Savanna's Act from passing this year,'' Heitkamp, a Democrat, said in a statement. ``But fortunately, Rep. Goodlatte won't be around to block it in the new Congress. I've talked with Sen. Murkowski about Savanna's Act and I'm so proud that she will reintroduce my bill in the new year.''

The bill is named for Savanna Greywind, a slain North Dakota woman whose baby was cut from her womb.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents the Greywind family, told The Associated Press on Friday that the bill asks for ``a minimal level of accountability'' and the notion that it is too onerous for law enforcement is ``absurd.''

``If that's the case then this bill should be introduced as is and let them come and testify before Congress about why they don't want an incentive for providing the appropriate data that is needed and that this bill requires,'' Allred said. ``Let's see who they are. If there are any they shouldn't be hiding behind some elected official.''


Information from: The Roanoke Times,


First Nations Announces Agriculture Biz Workshops

The Business of Indian Agriculture & Business Planning Development
Training Workshops

March 12-14, 2019
Denver, Colorado

Do you run a ranching or farming operation in your community and want to move it forward? Are you looking to build a sustainable tribal ranching or farming enterprise? Do you desire to increase your business knowledge and fundamentals of running and maintaining a successful agricultural business?

Have you started to create a business plan and would like a team of professionals to help you finalize it? Or have you been interested in taking that first step in developing a business plan for your agribusiness?

If so, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has a 2-1/2-day, producer-focused The Business of Indian Agriculture training and a Business Planning Development training just for you. These will be held in Denver, Colorado, March 12-14, 2019, at the Hotel Indigo. Participants will receive copies of First Nations’ The Business of Indian Agriculture curriculum and Business Planning Development workbook.

Day 1 & 2: The Business of Indian Agriculture producer-focused training is designed to help farmers and ranchers succeed in managing their businesses. It covers useful topics like how to develop a business plan, how to set up bookkeeping systems, agribusiness economics and marketing, and land use and management. It also covers important topics like risk management, personal financial management, and using credit wisely. The two-day training offers attendees the opportunity to expand their understanding and knowledge of agriculture business and the opportunity to network with other producers.

Day 3: The optional third day of training will provide business planning development assistance through a half-day workshop providing a hands-on, interactive experience with a team of professionals who will assist participants in developing a draft business plan, a whole farm/ranch goal, as well as both financial and marketing plans.


Hotel Indigo Downtown Denver
1801 Wewatta St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 623-4422

Please register here:

To Request a Scholarship, fill out application here:


New Mexico Lawmakers Seek to Rename Columbus Day

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ The state of New Mexico may have celebrated its last Columbus Day.

A legislative proposal to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day has cleared its first hurdle in the New Mexico Legislature with a unanimous committee endorsement.

Sandia Pueblo tribal member and Democratic state Rep. Derrick Lente is preparing a bill for the coming legislative session that renames the state holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October.

He told fellow lawmakers that it is fitting that the tribute to Christopher Columbus be dropped in a state with 23 designated Native American communities.

Tributes to European conquerors are fading or being rewritten out of consideration for Native Americans in many New Mexico communities amid enduring expressions of pride in the state's Spanish colonial heritage.


Pokagon Band Invests $25 Million for Health Services Expansion

DOWAGIAC, Mich. (AP) _ The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is investing $25 million to expand health services in southwestern Michigan.

The project is expanding the Pokagon Health Services' Rodgers Lake campus, the South Bend Tribune reported .

The health service has 2,200 registered members, up from 700 in 2014, said Jason Wesaw, tribal government manager. Tribal members get health care services at no cost.

Keeping members healthy is a priority for the tribe of about 6,000, Wesaw said.

``The life expectancy of a Pokagon is 60 compared to the national average of 76,'' Wesaw said. ``Even Native Americans as a whole have a higher life expectancy than us.''

The 35,000-square-foot health services building currently offers family medical clinic, pharmacy, workout facility, counseling, and optical and dental care, Wesaw said. There is also traditional healing that involves medicinal plants and herbs.

The facility will nearly double in size with the addition of a Pokagon Family Center. It will host the annual tribal meeting, dances, indoor powwows and other large gatherings.

``The big thing for us is expanding our dental,'' Wesaw said. ``We need to have more chairs to meet the demand.''

Money will also be used to install a new water system for the buildings that sit on the 300-acre reservation, as well as to construct a new 30,000-square-foot justice center, which will house tribal court and tribal police headquarters.

``We're combining the two but they're separate, so there's a clear distinction between court and law enforcement,'' Wesaw said.

About 50 police officers from an office south of Dowagiac would move onto the reservation land, he said.


Blackfeet College Building Named in Honor of Elouise Cobell

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) _ The Blackfeet Community College has named its new health science and education building in honor of Elouise Cobell, a tribal elder and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Great Falls Tribune reports the $7.5 million building in Browning is named the Oahtkwii Piiksakii Iikohkon-Yellow Bird Woman Lodge for Cobell.

Cobell led a 15-year legal fight against the federal government over mismanagement of Native trust funds, ending with a $3.4 billion settlement.

President Barack Obama posthumously recognized Cobell in 2016. She died in October 2011.

Officials say they hope the future health care workers and teachers trained in the building will be a step toward improving access to health care and other services on the Blackfeet Reservation.


Information from: Great Falls Tribune,


First Native American Women Elected to U.S. Congress

From left: Future Congresswomen Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids. (Photo Credit: New Indian Express)

Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico and member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, and Sharice Davids, a fellow Democrat from Kansas were elected to the U.S. Congress during the mid-term elections. They are the first Native American women to be elected to Congress and both have promised reforms, to benefit their constituencies.

Haaland and Davids join Congressmen Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Tom Cole (R-OK), totaling four Native Americans currently serving in the House of Representatives. Rep. Mullin is Chair of President Trump's Native American Coalition and sits on various subcommittees, including House Energy and Commerce, Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, and Health. Rep. Cole is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. His other committee assignments are Defense and Interior.

Davids graduated from Johnson County Community College, earned her law degree from Cornell, and worked as a White House Fellow during the Obama-Trump transition. Haaland is a former Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico and earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of New Mexico. She obtained her Juris Doctor in Indian Law from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2006 and served as the Tribal Administrator for the San Felipe Pueblo Tribe.


Extra Effort Saves Indian Artifacts Threatened by Storm

The Robesonian

PEMBROKE, N.C. (AP) _ The selfless efforts of a local educator helped save rare American Indian historical artifacts that were threatened when heavy rains from Hurricane Florence poured into the Indian Education Program Museum.

``I got a text that the roof was off the building. I jumped in my vehicle during the hurricane and came with my husband,'' said Connie Locklear, director of the Public Schools of Robeson County Indian Education Program. ``We went running in there to salvage as much as we could. We got drenched when pulling all this stuff out. Everything was falling in.''

Her voice cracked and tears flowed down as she spoke of Sept. 15, a Saturday and Day 2 of Florence's visit.

``It was so emotional. It was like you were losing a part of who you are. That is what these artifacts mean to this community,'' she said. ``It's their identity, our identity. It's who we relate to. It's who we are.''

A tarp was placed over a section of the art gallery, adjacent to the main room, which was filled with works created by American Indians from Robeson County.

``You are pulling this stuff out and you think, `This was somebody's grandparent's item over here. Somebody donated this over here.' You want to protect that `cause it means so much. Some of them, we were able to keep and some were damaged.''

Some yearbooks from the 1940s, a school registry from the 1800s and stories written by American Indians were damaged, Locklear said.

``I don't think people really understand, unless you are from this community, when you walk in you feel the people,'' she said. ``This is our history.''

Help came from the state's Cultural Resources Emergency Response Team, which brought in a team with expertise and equipment to clean and repair artifacts. The CREST team is trained in soot removal, photograph salvage, freezing techniques, and textile cleaning, for temporary or long-term conservation and storage, according to Adrienne Berney, an administrator with CREST.

``Most of the objects in the Indian Education Program Museum, we have been able to clean or stabilize on-site. At our next workday, we will finish cleaning some oversized objects and organize archival materials for Digital NC,'' Berney said. ``That is another free service to cultural heritage organizations based at UNC.

``They will send a team down in the near future to digitize photographs and tribal records. Conservators at the NC Museum of History plan to work on two damaged objects, a drum with water damage and a vest with significant mold growth.''

The vest is believed to be more than 100 years old, she said. It is on loan from a private citizen.

Locklear was able to proect many historical pieces by moving them into a room not affected by the rain.

``She was amazing. I don't know how she did it,'' Berney said. ``It's because of Dr. Locklear most items were salvageable.''

The museum, located at 808 W. Third St. in Pembroke, is more than a building, said Kenneth Clark, the museum's cultural enrichment specialist. He is charged with the upkeep, inventory and description of each artifact housed in the museum.

``We are oral people, we like to tell our stories orally. We want to pass it down. That's what we do, `` he said. ``When, especially children, visit the museum, history is told through objects made by our people.

``Some items that were damaged can, maybe, be reproduced. Fortunately some of those artists are still alive, so we might be able to get as close as we can to what we lost,'' he said. ``Unfortunately some things we can't replace. We've got some baskets that were from an individual that is no longer alive.''

Cleveland Jacobs, a well-known basket weaver, taught children the art of basket-making, he said.

``You look at a piece he made 50 years ago. You can't replace it after he is gone. He passed on his skills. Hopefully we can get as close as we can get to what he made,'' Clark said. ``When he taught the kids how to make these baskets, he taught them their culture and about their history, about being Indian.''

The buiding itself is historical.

``This was the first American Indian high school during the segregation period. It was built to create jobs as part of the `New Deal' in 1939 during the Franklin Roosevelt era after the Depression,'' Clark said. ``It was built for that purpose, then it became a place to educate our people.''

County natives often return with their children to share with them their customs, traditions and the historical events they experienced.

``We got a lot of people coming through here. One guy was in here with his grandchild and said, he was standing right there in that spot when he heard about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy,'' Clark said. ``His grandkid stood there and cried with him.''

Clark has a photo, hanging in his home, of his mother on the front steps of the museum, he said. Talking about that photo brought tears to his eyes.

``This building meant a lot to my mother. I am a part of her. It means a lot to me,'' Clark said. ``Heritage meant a lot to our ancestors.''

Craig Lowry, county school board member, said his concern is to make sure the building is structurally sound.

``It's important to make sure to preserve artifacts and items that we have because, they are one of a kind,'' Lowry said. ``They (children) would lose, to me, part of their identity if these items were lost.

``These items are from 30, 40, 70 years ago, some more than 100 years. Just like everybody has a history, this is ours. Instead of somebody telling you about it. You can see it which is very important.''

Susi H. Hamilton, Natural and Cultural Resources secretary, expressed the importance of preserving the history of North Carolina through relics.

``It's not necessarily the first thing people think of in a disaster, but our cultural and historical treasures are also at risk following events such as floods or hurricanes,'' Hamilton said. ``This amazing team is trained to recover and restore artifacts of every kind after almost any type of disaster. I am so very proud of the vitally important work that they do in protecting our state's heritage.''


Information from: The Robesonian,


On Exhibit: Washington's Hair, Rib of Woman Killed in 1777

TICONDEROGA, N.Y. (AP) _ A display of Benedict Arnold's hair at Fort Ticonderoga this year proved so popular that curators dug into the museum's vast collection to see what other 18th century curiosities they could find.

Among the items they turned up: locks of George Washington's hair and a rib bone from a woman killed by British-allied American Indians during the Revolutionary War's 1777 Saratoga campaign.

Those artifacts, Arnold's hair and five other items make up ``Pieces of Eight: Curiosities from the Collection,'' a new exhibit opening Friday and running through April at the tourist attraction in the southeastern Adirondacks.

Curators say the rib bone came from Jane McCrea, who was engaged to a loyalist officer when she was killed near Saratoga. It's believed someone took the bone as a souvenir.


Navajo Tech Gets $1M for New Workforce Training Center

CROWNPOINT, N.M. (AP) _ More than $1 million is being awarded to Navajo Technical University to build a training center to help displaced workers from the energy sector develop new skills.

The Metrology and Materials Center at the Crownpoint campus will specialize in industries that include 3D metal printing, machining, robotics and advanced manufacturing.

The funding comes from the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration. Officials there estimate that the effort could attract $15 million in private investment.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan says it's important for Navajos have high-tech tools within their communities to train the next generation of workers.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich said the center has the potential to bolster job training across the region, which has been home for decades to oil and gas development and mining.


Tribal Official: Medical Marijuana Possession Still Illegal

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) _ A Cherokee Nation official says medical marijuana won't be legal on the Oklahoma-based tribe's property even though the state's voters approved use of the plant.

The Cherokee Phoenix reports Cherokee Nation Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo says the tribe must adhere to its own laws as well as federal regulations, and that Oklahoma law does not apply. Nimmo says possession and sale of cannabis remain illegal under tribal and federal law.

Nimmo says some of the tribe's funding is conditioned on prohibiting the use of marijuana in any form.

Oklahoma voters in June approved use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The state health department is accepting applications from potential patients, growers, dispensaries and caregivers.


Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation to Examine Poultry Operations

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A new council will study the expansion of poultry operations in northeastern Oklahoma as some residents in the region complain of pollution from such facilities.

The Coordinating Council on Poultry Growth will be co-chaired by Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese and Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced the council's formation on Wednesday.

Critics of large poultry operations say the study is a good start, but that more must be done to reduce pollution from waste produced by chickens, which can get into the watershed.

``Talk is cheap; we want to see some action,'' Tahlequah resident Ed Brocksmith, a co-founder of the group Save The Illinois River, a watershed in the area, said. ``These are factory farms we're talking about. (We) see the dust and feathers, chicken feathers in swimming pools.''

Hill said she doesn't know how many birds are currently being grown in the area. But Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry records show about 200 permits have been issued in the past year for new houses that could hold more than a million birds, many with contractors of Simmons Foods.

In statement to The Associated Press, Simmons said it supports creation of the council.

``We care about the communities where our contract grower farmers operate and welcome efforts to address meaningful, science-based solutions, studies and research,'' according to the statement.

Officials with the governor's office, the Cherokee Nation and the attorney general's office say the council is not related to an unresolved 2005 lawsuit filed by then-state Attorney General Drew Edmondson against a dozen Arkansas poultry companies.

Edmondson, the Democratic nominee for governor, said he was not aware of the council until seeing media reports. He added: ``There was no reason to reach out to me. I'm not in elective office.''

The council is to include staff from the Cherokee Nation, the Oklahoma Department of Food, Forestry and Agriculture, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the Grand River Dam Authority, and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.


New Report Sheds Light on Reservation Hospital's Woes

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ A hospital serving the Rosebud Indian Reservation failed to give patients appropriate medical care or ensure their safety, including a man who died in the hospital after being pepper-sprayed and restrained, according to new federal reports.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently released inspection reports that detail why the federal agency threatened to pull critical funding this month from the Rosebud Indian Health Service hospital, The Argus Leader reported . The reports were compiled from an investigation conducted in July.

One incident cited involved a drunken 12-year-old girl who tried to hang herself while left alone. The report found that the patient wasn't property triaged and should've had a monitor throughout her visit. It also found that there was a faulty call button in her room.

Another incident involved a 35-year-old man who was hallucinating while on methamphetamine and died of a heart attack in the emergency room after being pepper-sprayed and restrained.

Hospital administrators said they take the report ``very seriously'' and have submitted an improvement plan.

Employees are now trained to test and monitor call lights every 12 hours and maintain a log of their use. Staff members have also reviewed restraint policies and protocols for treating minors. Employees will review high-risk cases within 24 hours of their occurrence, the proposal said.

The hospital's deficiencies identified in the inspections triggered the federal agency to issue a warning last week that the hospital will lose funding if it doesn't fix the problems by the end of the month. The hospital would be unable to bill Medicare and Medicaid if it fails to enact its improvement plan by the Aug. 30 deadline.

The notice comes more than two years after the hospital was cited for similar shortcomings, which resulted in the seven-month shut down of its emergency room and the closure of the facility's surgical and obstetrics and gynecology units.


Information from: Argus Leader,


Stolen Tomahawk Linked to Washington is Back, Displayed

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ A long-missing tomahawk given to a Seneca Indian leader by President George Washington in 1792 will go on display at the New York State Museum.

The Times-Union of Albany reports that the tomahawk given to the Seneca leader Cornplanter was stolen from the museum between 1947 and 1950. An anonymous collector returned the combination tomahawk and pipe to the Albany museum last month.

Meetings between Washington and Cornplanter in the 1790s led to the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, which established peace between the United States and the Iroquois Confederacy.

The tomahawk will be exhibited July 17 through Dec. 30.


Information from: Times Union,


Minnesota Tribe Seeks Farm Bill Funding

PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (AP) _ Minnesota Native American leaders are part of an initiative to bring more farm bill funding to Indian Country.

More than 30 tribes across the country have formed the Native Farm Bill Coalition, Minnesota Public Radio reported . Minnesota's Shakopee Mdewakanon Sioux Community is leading the effort. The National Congress of American Indians, the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative and the Intertribal Agriculture Council have partnered with the coalition.

``Indian tribes have been either ignored or overlooked or been the victim of policy changes since we can remember, that's just a fact of life,'' said Keith Anderson, vice chair of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

The lobbying effort is an outgrowth of programs to improve health and expand access to health food for Native Americans. The coalition illustrates a long term commitment to giving Indian tribes a louder voice, Anderson said.

``The effort of the Native Farm Bill Coalition represents the very first time such a concerted effort has been made on behalf of all of Indian Country and only Indian Country,'' said Zach Ducheneaux, of the Intertribal Agriculture Council.

The farm bill could help tribes strengthen their agriculture economy by funding projects that add value to livestock or crops produced by Indian farmers and ranchers, Ducheneaux said.

``There's really no part of a reservation community that the farm bill will not impact. Everything from the electricity to the water that you use, the food on the grocery store shelves, the buildings that you're going to house your community activities in,'' said Ducheneaux. ``It's absolutely critical that Indian Country realize how big of a player this could be in their game.''

The United States Department of Agriculture says more than 56,000 Native Americans operate farms and ranches across the U.S.

The new bill is expected to provide nearly $500 billion in funding over the next five years.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News,

World War II Navajo Code Talker Dies at 92

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) _ A Navajo Code Talker who used his native language to confound the Japanese in World War II has died.

The Navajo Nation says Roy Hawthorne Sr. died Saturday. He was 92.

Hawthorne enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at 17 and became part of a famed group of Navajos who transmitted hundreds of messages in their language without error.

The code was never broken.

Hawthorne was one of the most visible survivors of the group. He appeared at public events and served as vice president of a group representing the men.

He never considered himself a hero.

Hawthorne later served with the U.S. Army.

He's survived by five children and more than a dozen grandchildren.

A funeral service is scheduled Friday.

Photo Credit: Our Navajo Code Talkers Facebook Page


Navajo Nation approves $2.4 million for veterans facility

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) _ The Navajo Nation has given approval to help fund a veterans facility in New Mexico that will prevent patients from having to travel far for care.

Navajo Nation council members voted 19-0 this week to give $2.4 million toward the construction of a service center for veterans in the community of Thoreau.

The center, which will be about 33 miles (53 kilometers) east of Gallup, will offer physical therapy as well as medical services.

Thoreau Chapter Veterans Committee Commander Lester Emerson says they will work with the state Department of Veterans Services to hire a doctor to be based there.

Emerson says the hope is that veterans will no longer have to make the two-hour journey to Albuquerque for medical services.

The facility also will have a space for events and meetings.


Navajo Nation latest to sue over opioid epidemic in US

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ One of the country's largest American Indian tribes is the latest to sue pharmaceutical companies and drug distributors, alleging their conduct caused the opioid crisis.

The Navajo Nation's lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees.

The tribe says American Indians have suffered disproportionately from opioid dependency or abuse, leading to death, family dysfunction, poverty and social despair.

The tribe says it has helped cover costs of treatment for opioid abuse, and for law enforcement and social services to respond to the epidemic.

One of the defendants denied the allegations. Others say they are working to help combat the opioid epidemic and have reported suspicious orders to the federal government.

Others declined to comment or did not reply to requests for comment.