OXFORD, Miss. (AP) _ Work has begun on the most recent outdoor mural in Oxford.
Artist Anna Murphy has begun the painting of Princess Hoka, a Chickasaw woman who once owned the land that is now the City of Oxford, The Oxford Eagle reported.
Murphy worked closely with members of the Oklahoma-based Chickasaw Nation to ensure the accuracy of the design, including the facial features, jewelry, and clothing depicted, the newspaper reported. The flora and fauna in the design are native to the area, and the animals featured hold special meaning to the Chickasaw Nation.
Members of the Chickasaw Nation traveled to Oxford to bless the wall and those involved in the process before painting began.
``Anna's talent and ability to paint hyper realistic large scale murals is incredible,'' said Earl Dismuke, a Mississippi artist who has been working with Murphy since 2019 on the design of the mural. ``I am thankful we live in a city where public officials and members of the community embrace opportunities like this one.''
Murphy, a visual artist living in Chicago, has been painting murals since 2016. Her mother Paula Murphy, also an artist, assists in the painting, the newspaper reported.
The downtown mural will be 1,600 square feet, the newspaper reported. ``Princess Hoka'' will be painted in Murphy's signature blue and white, similar to porcelain china, on a background of gold.
The mural will take about four to six weeks to complete.
Those involved in the project say members of the public are invited to stop by and meet the artist during the process of creating the mural.
Business owner Helen Overstreet of Mike Overstreet Properties LLC commissioned the artwork.
South Dakota Film to Feature Native American Elders' Voices
By MICHAEL NEARY
Rapid City Journal
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ Urla Marcus has hoped for a long time to preserve the voices of area elders in a carefully crafted, artistic format. Now Marcus, director of the Center for American Indian Studies at Black Hills State University, will help to shape a documentary to do just that.
Staff members at the Center for American Indian Studies at Black Hills State University are preparing to work on a documentary - and to bolster many of the Center's services - by drawing from a $242,769 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that took effect earlier this school year. The grant was made possible by the American Rescue Plan.
The university announced earlier this month that it had been awarded the grant ``to restore and expand BHSU Center for American Indian Studies (CAIS) public programming.''
Marcus, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, said the grant facilitated the hiring of Tiarra Little as program manager of the Center for American Indian Studies. Little, a member of the Oglala Lakota Oyate who grew up in the Pine Ridge and Oglala areas, began her position on Nov. 1 and will play a key role in shaping the documentary, the Rapid City Journal reported.
Little earned her master's degree in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University, and she's slated to work for a year in the Center for American Indian Studies as she prepares for Ph.D. studies.
``She's going to be spearheading the documentary, and she's going to be looking at our American Indian Studies program, specifically at our assessment,'' Marcus said.
The position was added, Marcus said, after the Center's assistant director's post was frozen in March.
The grant will also be used to sustain and grow CAIS programs such as the annual Wacipi, or Powwow; American Indian Awareness Week; a speaker series and various course work, according to an announcement from the university.
Little, in addition to her master's degree from Harvard, brings a bachelor of arts from Stanford University in comparative studies in race and ethnicity, with an emphasis on education, access, and equity.
``I was heavily involved in the Native communities at Stanford and Harvard during my time at school,'' she said. ``I think it's a strength to be able to tap into those experiences as I contribute to student support at BHSU.''
At Stanford, during her sophomore year, she co-taught an alternative spring break course - part of a service learning program - designed to help students make contributions to various communities during spring break. The course focused on Native American and rural education, and she traveled to Pine Ridge during spring break, with the students and the other co-teacher, to perform service.
``We visited with organizations to hear first-hand about Indigenous education,'' she said. ``That was the very first time that I saw the behind-the-scenes part of my home community. It was stepping into the professional side of Indigenous education for the first time.''
Little has worked on a sprawling array of other service projects, as well, including those in several countries around the world. Much of her experience working with people, though, hits close to home.
``I come from a big family, a blended family, and so just being able to mentor and give advice to my younger relatives has been a constant,'' she said.
She said her work at the Center for American Indian Studies will encompass a wide swath of tasks.
``So far it's been giving pep talks,'' she said. ``Sometimes it's giving people a ride back home - people who need a ride home during the break.''
She said she also wants to help people stay connected to ``what's happening in our communities back home'' and to consider ``how that connects with what's happening here at school.''
She noted the importance of working with Lakota Omniciye, a student organization on campus, along with other activities.
For the documentary, Marcus said the Center has tapped three consultants: Jace DeCory, professor emeritus at BHSU, along with filmmakers Kenn and John Little - not related to Tiarra Little. The two brothers created the film ``More Than a Word,'' a project described at http://morethanawordfilm.com/.
Both are members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that straddles the South Dakota and North Dakota border.
DeCory is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.
``She's an elder herself,'' Marcus said of DeCory. ``She's very well-known, not only in our state but in our region.''
Marcus lauded DeCory's expertise and said DeCory will be conducting much of the interviewing in the documentary, Marcus explained.
Marcus said people from the Center for American Indian Studies have recorded the voices of speakers before, including at BHSU's celebration of American Indian Awareness Week. But the documentary moves a step further.
``We've always wanted the opportunity to capture what these speakers are saying - and what our elders, more specifically, are saying - in a professional way,'' she said. She added that ``we can use (the documentary) in our classes and make it more widely distributed so the public can use it as well.''
Marcus said plans are in the works to visit with five elders.
``We're going to travel to their home and do (the interviews) in their home communities,'' she said.
Marcus noted that this has been a trying, and in some cases a devastating, time for elders in the community.
``We lost so many of our elders due to the pandemic, and we didn't have the opportunity to get their information and hear their stories,'' she said. ``We always listened to them, but we never really had the opportunity to record them.''
This will be the first time the Center for American Indian Studies has produced a documentary, Marcus said.
``This is brand new,'' she said. ``That's why it's important for us to work closely with John and Kenn. They have done documentaries, and we're relying heavily on them to guide us.''
In January, she said, the Littles, who both live outside of the area, will come to campus and help train interns and to establish groundwork for the film. Later, they'll work with the material that's been recorded.
``We're going to be sending them all the footage, and Kenn specifically will be piecing it together working with his equipment,'' Marcus said.
Marcus mentioned plans to conduct interviews in February and March and then assemble the film during the summer. She said the film will likely be available online, and she noted the possibility of a public showing.
``We would like to have a release,'' she said.
The grant is also sponsoring five interns to work in the Center for American Indian Studies, and they will also be contributing to the documentary.
Marcus reflected on some of the other activities that the NEH grant will help to sustain and develop, as well. She said two interns will be working this spring on the annual Wacipi, or Powwow, doing planning, fundraising and organization. The Wacipi has been canceled the past two years due to the pandemic, she added.
``It's a large cultural event, and a lot of our community participates,'' she said.
And Marcus said a key function of the grant would be its funding of Tiarra Little's position as program manager.
``It's really important for us to have our assistant back in the Center to work with the students,'' she said. ``She's from Pine Ridge, and so she shares a lot of the background with the students. She's a recent (university) graduate herself, so she knows the challenges our students are facing, and she also knows how to celebrate their successes.'
Iconic Western Starring Clint Eastwood Dubbed in Navajo
By FELICIA FONSECA
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ Manuelito Wheeler isn't sure exactly why Navajo elders admire Western films.
It could be that many of them were treated to the films in boarding schools off the reservation decades ago. Or, like his father, they told stories of gathering around a television growing up to watch gunslingers in a battle against good and evil on familiar-looking landscapes.
Whatever the reason, Navajo elders have been asking Wheeler to dub a Western in the Navajo language ever since ``Star Wars IV: A New Hope'' was translated into Navajo and released in 2013.
The result? ``Beeso Dah Yiniljaa''' or ``A Fistful of Dollars,'' an iconic Western starring Clint Eastwood who plays a stranger _ known as ``The Man With No Name'' _ entering a Mexican village among a power struggle between families. The 1964 flick is the first in a trilogy of spaghetti Westerns produced and directed by Italians.
Unlike many other Westerns produced in the U.S., it has no Native Americans in it. That appealed to Wheeler, the director of the Navajo Nation Museum.
``Usually in Westerns, there are inaccurate if not offensive depictions of Native people, so this one had no Natives, period,'' Wheeler said. ``That just eliminated that aspect for me.''
A premiere for the crew and all-Navajo cast of voice actors is scheduled Nov. 16 at the movie theater in Window Rock, Arizona _ the first showing since the venue shut down in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Limited seats are available to members of the public who are vaccinated against COVID-19 and consent to a rapid test on site.
It will be screened for free later this month at other places on or near the Navajo Nation, which extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
Other popular films dubbed in Indigenous languages include ``Bambi'' in Arapaho, ``Frozen 2'' in Sami, and ``Moana'' in Maori. The cartoon series ``The Berenstain Bears'' was translated into the Dakota and Lakota languages.
At least 20 Indigenous languages are spoken in films that are being showcased by the National Museum of the American Indian in November during Native American Heritage Month, program manager Cindy Benitez said Thursday. Indigenous people increasingly are producing and directing their own stories, she said, including some entirely in Indigenous languages.
``We have films from all gamuts, from all places,'' she said. ``It really gives me hope that these filmmakers are using that as a tool for language revitalization.''
``A Fistful of Dollars'' is the third major film dubbed in Navajo, an effort financed by the tribe to preserve the language. Elbert Jumbo voiced Bruce the shark and another fish in the Navajo version of ``Finding Nemo,'' released in 2016.
Jumbo, who retired from the U.S. Army and lives in Many Farms, also voices Ramon in the Western film. The character calls the shots, terrorizes the town and believes he's untouchable. Jumbo said he nailed the over-the-top super villainous laugh that is characteristic of spaghetti Westerns.
Jumbo speaks, writes and reads Navajo, a result of growing up in a home where that was the only option.
``People feel a little more pride in knowing that we've come a long way with our language,'' said Jumbo, 47. ``It's sad to say but some of it we're losing to the younger generation. But at the same time, I think movies like this inspire them to learn, even if it's just a little word here and there.''
It was supposed to be released last year, but it was delayed because of the coronavirus.
The Navajo Nation Museum teamed up with the New York-based Kino Lorber film distribution company and the Indigenous-owned Native Stars Studios in Gallup, New Mexico, for the film.
``I can't wait for my uncle to see this, for my dad to see this,`` Wheeler said. ``The other feeling is I wish that those who have gone would be here to see this.''
NTI-Telescope Protesters Oppose US Attorney Pick for Hawaii
By AUDREY McAVOY
HONOLULU (AP) _ Some Native Hawaiians are objecting to President Joe Biden's choice for U.S. attorney in the 50th state, saying Clare Connors treated dozens of elders like criminals when her office prosecuted them for blocking a road while protesting the construction of a telescope in Hawaii.
``She has acted aggressively towards the Hawaiian people during all of our stand for Mauna Kea,'' said Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the protest leaders.
Pisciotta and other Native Hawaiians who oppose the telescope believe the summit of Mauna Kea is sacred. They say building the Thirty Meter Telescope on the state's tallest mountain would further desecrate a place already defiled by a dozen other observatories.
The 38 Native Hawaiian elders prosecuted for obstruction were in their 60s through 80s and many of them are community leaders. Four were found not guilty in August. One was found guilty last month after a separate trial, fined $500 and sentenced to one day in jail, which he won't have to serve if he avoids further violations for the next six months. The other cases are pending.
Pisciotta said she's concerned about Connors being named U.S. attorney because Native Hawaiians have been deprived of their land and their right to self-determination since the U.S.-backed overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.
``I think of her as a danger to many situations in Hawaii because she doesn't have to seem to have the compassion or the aloha that is needed considering our political situation,'' Pisciotta said.
Connors, Hawaii's state attorney general since 2019, said she is honored by the nomination but declined to comment further on the pending confirmation process.
However, Gary Yamashiroya, a spokesperson for Connors, said prosecutions of the protesters arose ``from a deliberate effort to block access to Mauna Kea for the purpose of preventing lawful construction of a project permitted by the Hawaii Supreme Court.''
``Blocking a public road is a crime and the Department of the Attorney General will prosecute such conduct consistent with its duty to uphold the rule of law,'' Yamashiroya said.
U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz of Hawaii, both Democrats, recommended Connors to Biden. Spokespeople for both senators declined comment on the Native Hawaiian opposition to Connors' nomination, referring to a joint statement that they issued when the appointment was announced on Sept. 28.
That statement said she was exceptionally well-qualified and that they were confident she would serve the people of Hawaii well.
Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, and multiple prior U.S. attorneys for Hawaii have also praised her nomination, as have attorneys Connors worked with in private practice.
U.S. attorneys are the chief federal law enforcement officers in their districts.
The Thirty Meter Telescope would be one of the world's largest optical telescopes. The $2.4 billion observatory is being planned by universities in California and Canada with participation from the governments of China, India and Japan.
The Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory planned to begin construction in 2019, a year after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled the project had a valid permit.
But protesters, who identify themselves as ``kia'i,'' or protectors of the mountain, began camping out on and near the lone road to the Mauna Kea's summit in July 2019.
Demonstrators remained even after the arrests of the elders, with their numbers at times reaching into the thousands.
By December 2019, the Thirty Meter Telescope consortium said it wasn't prepared to go ahead with construction because the state and Hawaii County hadn't shown they could provide ``safe, sustained access'' to Mauna Kea. TMT said it didn't want to put its workers, the people of Hawaii and protesters at risk. A small group of protesters remained until March 2020, when they left amid coronavirus concerns and confidence TMT wasn't going to build immediately.
The observatory has selected a site in Spain's Canary Islands as a backup site if it's not able to build in Hawaii. But the nonprofit organization has said it still prefers Mauna Kea, where the weather is among the world's best for viewing the skies.
State Officials Narrow Suburban Chicago Casino Bids to 2
CHICAGO (AP) _ A new casino in Chicago's south suburbs is one step closer.
State regulators have narrowed the number of proposals down to two, with one near the border of Homewood and East Hazel Crest and another in Matteson, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The backers are due to make a presentation to the Illinois Gaming Board in the coming days. The final selection for the casino license will happen next year.
The casino is part of a major gambling expansion that Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed in 2019 and will add six casinos to the state's current 10. Casinos proposals in Rockford and Williamson County have received initial approval. There'll also be one in Danville. Chicago is seeking proposals for a massive casino and pushed back the deadline for proposals to Oct. 29.
The Matteson bid is led by Hinsdale businessman Rob Miller and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a Native American tribe which runs nearly two dozen casinos. They're proposing a $300 million venue which would include a 123,000-square foot casino and a 200-room hotel.
``We are pleased and extremely excited,'' Matteson Village President Sheila Chalmers-Currin. ``I think the Gaming Board saw the commitment to diversity and the community in this project.''
The proposal for the Homewood area is led by Alabama-based Wind Creek Hospitality, which is part of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which runs several casinos nationwide. They're pitching a $300 million, 64,000-square-foot casino with a 21-story hotel.
``This development promises to be the best in and for the entire Southland region _ with job creation, economic and community investment, sustained operational excellence, and a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion in all phases of construction and operation,'' Wind Creek CEO Jay Dorris said in an email.
Separately, the state regulators are looking at two finalists for a new casino license in the Chicago suburb of Waukegan.
Series Based on Hillerman Novels to be Set on Navajo Nation
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ Production of a six-episode television series based on crime novels by the late author Tony Hillerman is underway in New Mexico, the State Film Office announced Tuesday.
A psychological thriller set in the Four Corners region of the Southwest, ``Dark Winds`` centers on two Navajo Nation police officers trying to solve a double murder in the Four Corners region.
It's a production of AMC Networks.
Hillerman's acclaimed books featuring officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee were characterized by vivid descriptions of Navajo rituals and of the vast reservation.
The series will be shot on the actual reservation, in Santa Fe and other locations through November. It's expected to premiere next year, the State Film Office said.
``We are ecstatic that AMC is being so intentional about telling this story in an authentic way by creative talent whose work speaks for itself, with a Native American director from New Mexico, as well as Native American writers, actors, and locations,'' said Amber Dodson, the Film Office's director.
Chris Eyre, who directed the movie ``Smoke Signals,'' is directing the pilot. The series stars Zahn McClarnon, Noah Emmerich and Kiowa Gordon.
Hillerman died in 2008.
Judge Won't Let San Francisco School Mural Be Covered
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The San Francisco school board violated state law when it voted to cover up a 1930s mural that critics said is racist and degrading in its depiction of Black and Native American people, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo said the board failed to conduct an environmental impact review before it voted in 2019 to cover up the sprawling mural at George Washington High School that depicts the life of George Washington, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The 1936 mural was painted by Victor Arnautoff, one of the foremost muralists in the San Francisco area during the Depression. In addition to depicting Washington as a soldier, surveyor and statesman, the 13-panel, 1,600-square-foot (149-square-meter) mural contains images of white pioneers standing over the body of a Native American and slaves working at Washington's Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.
New Deal scholars have argued that Arnautoff, a Russian-born communist and social critic, critically depicts unsavory aspects of American history in his work. But as early as the 1960s, some students at George Washington High School have argued that the mural's imagery is offensive and racist.
Supporters argued it could play a role in educating people about America's racist past and covering it up would be censoring art and history.
The board first moved to paint over the entire mural but later decided to cover it with panels or curtains. The projected cost of the project has mushroomed to about $900,000, the Chronicle said.
In her ruling, Massullo said the board was required to order an environmental impact review that included studying alternatives before making its decision.
``The hallmark of our system is that whether it concerns the President of the United States or a local school board, the rule of law _ the process _ is more important than the result,'' Massullo said in her ruling.
She said ``a result-oriented board was determined to take down all 13 panels'' of the mural and ordered the board to set aside its votes.
``California as a matter of long-standing public policy places enormous value on its environmental and historical resources,'' she wrote in her ruling.
District officials told the Chronicle that they were reviewing the decision. Members can't take any further action until at least September.
The ruling is the latest setback for a board that has been plagued by scandal and controversy. After a public outcry, the board this year suspended plans to strip 44 schools of names ranging from U.S. presidents to Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The effort was blasted for historical inaccuracies and shoddy research as well as poor timing.
The board also has faced numerous lawsuits, a looming budget deficit and public outcry about getting children back into classrooms after months of online learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
California Ethnic Studies Debate: Whose Stories Get Told?
By JOCELYN GECKER
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Race and ethnicity can be tricky topics to discuss, especially in the classroom. But the California Department of Education had no idea how heated the debate would get when it set out to draft a model ethnic studies curriculum for high schools statewide.
The process took over two years, multiple versions, and drew nearly 100,000 public comments.
In one ongoing conflict, Jewish and pro-Arab groups have accused each other of discrimination and trying to silence each other's histories.
Several authors of the original draft have demanded their names be stripped from the final version, saying it's watered down and substandard. Their draft was criticized for taking a left-wing, biased and a politically charged view of history, including terms like ``hxrstory'' and ``herstory.'' It defined capitalism as a system of oppression and drew complaints from Jews, Koreans, Sikhs, Armenians and other ethnic and religious groups who said it left out their American experiences.
This week, the State Board of Education is expected to approve the final draft, an 894-page tome whose own history illustrates the challenges of crafting an ethnic studies curriculum at a time of racial reckoning and national division.
It also highlights some of the difficult questions educators will face in an era when America is redefining its heroes and asking whose stories should be told. More than three-quarters of California's 6.2 million public school students are nonwhite.
``We've worked to bring justice to what we believe the ethnic studies movement to be about,'' state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond told reporters.
The ethnic studies movement has its roots in California, where students protested in the late 1960s at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley to demand courses in African American, Chicano, Asian American and Native American studies.
The proposed course materials focus on those four groups so students can ``learn of the histories, cultures, struggles, and contributions to American society of these historically marginalized peoples which are often untold in U.S. history courses.''
There are four chapters with more than two dozen lesson plans that schools can pick from to fit their student communities.
It suggests conversations on the Black Lives Matter movement could start with a local or national incident of police brutality. Other lessons ask students to study poetry and art by Japanese Americans put in internment camps during World War II to better understand their trauma. Another urges students to interview Korean Americans and Blacks who were in Los Angeles during the 1992 riots to examine tensions that exploded into deadly violence.
An appendix features lesson plans on Jews, Arab Americans, Sikh-Americans and Armenian Americans who are not traditionally part of an ethnic studies curriculum ``but have experienced oppression and have a story to tell,'' Thurmond said.
Those groups also objected loudest to being left out or misrepresented in the original draft, completed in spring 2019 and immediately panned. It was written by a committee of ethnic studies teachers and professors appointed by the Department of Education after a 2016 state law that passed the Legislature with opposition from Republicans.
California's legislative Jewish Caucus complained it included content that denigrates Jews and erased the American Jewish experience. It cited course materials that referred to the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which is anti-Israel, as a global social movement but left out ``any meaningful discussion of anti-Semitism.''
Pro-Arab groups and several of the original authors have asked for their names to be removed from it and are drafting a competing curriculum.
Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center in San Francisco, says education officials bowed to political and right-wing pressure.
``They have not only relegated a whitewashed Arab American lesson plan to an appendix, alongside a pro-Israeli Jewish lesson plan, but they have also gutted the entire curriculum,'' Kiswani said during a recent webinar. Others criticized the removal of Palestinian narratives.
Nadine Naber, an Arab studies expert and professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, called it an effort ``to silence our histories and our stories,'' which she called ``colonialist tactics of elimination.''
Democratic Assemblyman Jose Medina, a member of both the Latino and Jewish legislative caucuses, was among those who supported expanding the curriculum beyond people of color. Still, he says the latest draft is a vast improvement on the original and ``strikes the balance that is needed.''
Amid the controversy over the curriculum, his bill last year to make ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The original law did not define what the course materials should include, which gave the initial drafters no clear direction, said California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, a Democrat and academic who created an ethnic studies program at San Diego State University in the 1970s.
In the absence of clarity ``it got very, very complicated and contentious,'' said Weber, a former lawmaker who has authored separate legislation to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement throughout the California State University system. The first-in-the-nation proposal sailed through the Democratically controlled legislature last August without controversy, partly she says, because it focuses on the four core ethnic groups and didn't try to please everyone.
``There was plenty of pressure for me to add a whole bunch of other people. I chose not to. I stuck to what was defined 50 years ago as ethnic studies,'' Weber said. She sees the model curriculum an adequate starting point that will ``begin a process of opening the eyes of kids.''
Archaeologists Dig Hilltop Over Plymouth Rock One Last Time
By WILLIAM J. KOLE
BOSTON (AP) _ Archaeologists are giving a grassy hilltop overlooking iconic Plymouth Rock one last look before a historical park is built to commemorate the Pilgrims and the Indigenous people who once called it home.
Braving sweltering heat, a team of about 20 graduate students enrolled in a masters program at the University of Massachusetts-Boston began excavating an undeveloped lot on Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts, this week.
The National Historic Landmark site _ which contains the first cemetery used by the Pilgrims after they arrived from England in 1620 and was a Wampanoag village for thousands of years before that _ has been poked and prodded numerous times over the past century.
But now, as historical organizations reboot pandemic-stalled plans to construct a permanent memorial they're calling Remembrance Park, this could be the last chance to mine the soil for Native and colonial artifacts.
``Cole's Hill is among the most sacred land we've got,`` said Donna Curtin, executive director of the Pilgrim Society & Pilgrim Hall Museum, which owns the tract. ``We want to make it more than just a grassy, empty lot. We want to engage people. And the archaeology is deeply wedded to the site.``
David Landon of UMass-Boston's Fiske Center for Archaeological Research, who's leading the effort, said he's confident his team will recover items of interest from the site.
``You don't always get the opportunity to do work at sites that are so significant,'' he said. ``We know we're going to find stuff _ there's no question about that. Anytime you start digging in Plymouth, you find interesting stuff.``
Less than 48 hours into the excavation, which is scheduled to run through July 1, the team recovered what Landon calls ``the debris of daily life``: a few Wampanoag artifacts, broken pieces of 1800s pottery, and the bones of cows and pigs _ leftovers of a colonist's dinner.
There are hopes for more. A few small homes once stood on the area where they're digging, including an early 1700s mariner's house.
To be built atop the hill overlooking Plymouth's waterfront, Remembrance Park originally was conceived to mark 2020's 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim's 1620 arrival, the founding of Plymouth Colony and the settlers' historic interactions with the Wampanoag people. But then the coronavirus pandemic hit, idling many commemoration events as well as construction.
The newly reimagined park will highlight three periods of epic historical challenge: The Great Dying of 1616-19, when deadly disease brought by other Europeans severely afflicted the Wampanoag people; the first winter of 1620-21, when half of the Mayflower colonists perished of contagious sickness; and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
Linda Coombs, a Wampanoag tribal leader and activist, said she's glad attention is being paid to what's largely a forgotten chapter of history.
``People are unaware that the Great Dying happened,'' she said. ``At school, you're pounded with the story of 50 Pilgrims dying during their first winter. But during the Great Dying, about 50,000 Wampanoags died, as well as who knows how many other tribal people to the north in what's now Maine. It's kind of nice to see those numbers lined up side by side.''
Construction is expected to begin late next year or early in 2023 on the park project, said Curtin, whose Pilgrim Hall Museum is partnering with Plymouth 400 Inc., a nonprofit group.
``We want to create an interpretive space here where people can engage,`` she said. ``The park is intended to acknowledge and preserve what we've all lived through in 2020. It's an opportunity to bring the past and present together in ways we never could have foreseen.''
If the archaeologists make any transcendent finds, Landon said he's confident they'll be given more time to complete their work, if only because the townspeople share a sense of stewardship over Plymouth's rich history.
``We'll learn what we need to learn from the site before any construction takes place,`` he said.
Quila Selling Interests in Copper and Gold Deposits
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Aquila Resources says it's selling its interests in copper and gold deposits in northern Wisconsin to a start-up company for about $5.8 million.
The Toronto-based company plans to focus on building its Back Forty mine near the Menominee River. If approved, Aquila would receive nearly $2.5 million in cash and an ownership share of the new company worth about $3.3 million.
Aquila spokesman Dave Carew says additional details about the buyer will become available once the parties reach a definitive agreement within the next 45 days.
Carew says the buyer intends to raise additional money for exploratory drilling at the Bend and Reef sites, as well as publicly list its company on a Canadian stock exchange, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
Aquila first explored the Bend and Reef mineral deposits in Taylor and Marathon counties about a decade ago. According to the state Department of Natural Resources, the Reef deposit in Marathon County contains 454,000 tons (411,861 metric tonnes) of high-grade gold reserves while the Bend deposit in Taylor County contains about 4 million tons (3,628,736 metric tonnes) of mostly copper and gold.
Environmental groups, Wisconsin tribes, and those living near the mineral deposits are concerned sulfide mining will impact water quality or quantity.
DA: No Jail Time for 7 in New Mexico Monument Vandalism Case
By CEDAR ATTANASIO
Associated Press / Report for America
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ Seven of the protesters charged with tearing down a historical marker in the Santa Fe plaza last fall have agreed to a diversion program that will spare them jail time, the district attorney said in a statement Thursday.
As part of the deal, they agreed to perform community service and participate in restorative justice mediation.
``The Obelisk case defendants meet the criteria I set out for diversionary programming. We have reached a resolution after months of careful investigation and negotiation between defendants, their attorneys, and my office that ensures justice while working toward community healing,'' said District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, in a statement citing a promise to divert non-violent and first-time offenders.
The restorative justice program aims to ``shape a resolution that is agreeable to all parties'' between defendants and victims, DA spokeswoman Jennifer Padgett Macias said. Police, city employees and other community members will be invited to join the program.
Defendant and art gallery owner Steven Fox did not accept the deal.
Around 40 people participated in the destruction of the stone obelisk Oct. 13, as part of a nationwide protest against atrocities committed against Indigenous people.
The monument was erected to honor Union troops who battled the Confederacy during the Civil War and fought with Native American tribes.
One face of the monument honors ``heroes'' who died in battle with ``savage Indians.'' The word ``savage'' was chiseled out by an activist in the 1970s and never replaced.
Statues of Spanish conquistadores long venerated by many in New Mexico's Hispanic community have been removed from public view in the past year out of fear they too would be destroyed.
Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow Attanasio on Twitter.
Northern Nevada Tribe Co-stars in Peter Gabriel Music Video
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ Drummers and dancers from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in northern Nevada are among more than two dozen artists worldwide who appear in a music video remake of a song rock musician Peter Gabriel first recorded four decades ago protesting racism.
Gabriel recently re-released the 1980 song, ``Biko,'' which the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer originally wrote as a tribute to South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, who was killed in police custody in 1977.
``For us to be included in this project, it's such an honor,'' tribal Chairwoman Janet Davis told the Reno Gazette-Journal. ``This song is still very relevant. People all around the world are still oppressed and the racism that once was hidden has come back to the surface. We have a long way to go.''
The video features dancers dressed in traditional Paiute regalia stepping to the beat of the drum, being pounded by a local drum group. The scenes were filmed at the powwow grounds at Big Bend Ranch in Wadsworth, about 30 minutes east of Reno.
Others who appear on the video include world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Cape Town Ensemble, Beninese vocalist and activist Angelique Kidjo, Sebastian Robertson, and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello as part of Playing for Change's Songs Around the World initiative.
Tribal member Dayann Harrison, who has been dancing since before she can remember, said she was in awe of the video. It seamlessly weaved together so many different types of dance and song, from Japanese drumming to bagpipe to her own traditional Paiute style of dancing.
``It made me feel really proud. There's a lot of focus on the larger tribes in the country, not just in the news but in history books,'' said Harrison, who is seen dancing in a teal and purple dress. ``This is a reminder that we're still here.''
For Wakan Waci Blindman, a drummer featured in the video, he had no idea the video would be seen by so many. On YouTube, it has close to 600,000 views.
``We're kinda way out here. There's a lot of people that it would have been easier to get to,'' Blindman said.
Blindman, who has been playing the drum since he was about 12, learned about the opportunity through a friend who'd seen a casting call from a Los Angeles group called Playing for Change. The group, which filmed the video, enlists musicians to shed light on global and national human rights issues.
He signed up his drum group, Echo Sky, and a film crew from Southern California visited in October for about an hour of filming. Neither Blindman nor most of the tribal members had heard the song before, but they learned the beat quickly and played and danced to a recording, which is seen in the video.
Blindman's mother and 5-year-old daughter are seen dancing in the video. Music is a binding cultural thread in the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Blindman said, and is for all members, no matter how young or old. The drum, he said, is the heartbeat of that music, of Mother Earth.
The video, originally released on National Human Rights Day in December, was promoted this month in honor of Black History Month, according to Playing for Change's website. The segment filmed on Pyramid Lake Paiute land was filmed on Indigenous Peoples Day, otherwise known as Columbus Day, Blindman said.
``The fact that this is being played around the world, and the world will see us, I didn't think it'd be so big,'' Blindman said. ``It means the world.''
Park Service Denies 2021 Fireworks at Mount Rushmore
Source: AP - AP Wire Service
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ The National Park Service has denied South Dakota officials' request to shoot off fireworks over Mount Rushmore again this year.
Fireworks returned to Mount Rushmore last year for a Fourth of July celebration that included a campaign stop by then-President Donald Trump. It was the first time Mount Rushmore has hosted a fireworks show since 2009.
But NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost wrote a letter to state tourism officials on Thursday saying the NPS would not grant their request for fireworks again this year, KOTA-TV reported on Friday. The denial was first reported by political website The Hill.
Frost said the parks service is still evaluating the risks from the 2020 show and he's concerned about both the park and employees' safety. He added that the service's tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the monument and the large crowds such an event would draw would make social distancing difficult if not impossible.
Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted in response that the best place to celebrate America's birthday is Mount Rushmore.
OFCCP Announces Commitment to Native American Workplace Inclusion
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and its Indian and Native American Employment Rights Program (INAERP) are committed to supporting federal contractors’ efforts to foster outreach and inclusion of Native Americans in the workplace.
In September 2019, OFCCP conducted a successful Native American Outreach Town Hall event and identified three action plan items to increase program awareness, provide compliance assistance and identify contractor resources. The agency made these deliverables a priority for Fiscal Year 2020 and is pleased to announce the new INAERP landing page, which highlights the following:
The new page highlights the following:
1. The Indian and Native American Employment Rights Program has updated its webpage to easily find information and resources to assist contractors with their outreach efforts with Native Americans.
2. A list of “Best Practices” was added for creating an inclusive workplace for Native Americans that includes strategies to make your diversity and inclusion programs successful. It also includes an excellent reference of stakeholder resources.
3. Also added is the new “Indian Preference Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)” that responds to stakeholder questions received during the town hall event. The FAQs will be updated regularly to add new questions received from stakeholders.
OFCCP’s INAERP staff are available to answer questions and help employers locate Native American recruitment sources that align with employment needs. Contact INAERP directly at 1-844-206-1836 or OFCCP-INAERP@dol.gov.
To learn more, click here.
Arizona County Leads in COVID-19 Cases on Navajo Nation
Arizona's Apache County has now surpasses neighboring McKinley County in New Mexico as having the most COIVD-19 cases on the Navajo Nation.
Health officials reported 141 additional COVID-19 cases with eight additional deaths on the tribe's sprawling reservation that has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.
Officials reported a total of 3,632 positive cases and 127 deaths as of Thursday, with preliminary reports indicating that approximately 515 people have recovered from COVID-19.
Tribal officials said Apache County had 948 positive cases as of Thursday, while McKinley County had 928. Arizona's Navajo County had 757 cases and New Mexico's San Juan County had 428. Six other counties in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah had smaller numbers.
McKinley County's outbreak prompted a since-ended lockdown of the city of Gallup.
Tribal officials said the Navajo Nation's total cases newly include 99 cases that were added this week and that previously weren't reported due to jurisdictional challenges and ``longer than normal verification processes.``
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Pandemic Scuttles Market for Folk Artists From 50 Nations
By MORGAN LEE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ Artists and artisans from more than 50 nations will lose a key source of income and engagement after the International Folk Art Market canceled its annual open-air bazaar in New Mexico due the coronavirus pandemic, event organizers said Tuesday.
Market CEO Stuart Ashman announced the suspension of this year's June market in Santa Fe that typically brings together about 160 overseas artists for a three-day brokered sale of textiles, paintings, jewelry and other items.
The coronavirus has derailed all three major summer arts markets in Santa Fe, including Santa Fe Indian Market, that are engines of the local economy and support a vast cottage industry across the American Southwest and internationally.
Ashman said his organization is brainstorming about ways to provide a financial lifeline to faraway artists that might involve charitable giving, sales or online storytelling _ even as its own boutique for pop-up consignment sales and artists' presentations in Santa Fe has been closed by a statewide shutdown order for nonessential businesses.
``We're really mindful of what this means to the artists most of all,'' Ashman said. ``We as an organization are going to survive ... but we're really concerned about the well-being of the artists _ not just their health but their financial stability.''
The folk art market puts an emphasis on international cultural exchange, providing language interpreters for non-English speakers along with a crash course in entrepreneurship for first-time vendors.
Ashman said folk artists return home with an average of $14,000 _ a significant sum in developing or war-torn economies.
New Mexico health official have reported nearly 800 COVID-19 infections and 13 related deaths across the state of 2.1 million residents.
Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber is bringing together organizers of the city's three largest summer art markets this week for a meeting that could generate a coordinated online presence to help sustain artists and artisans, Ashman said.
The coronavirus pandemic has cast a shadow over New Mexico's vibrant arts scene, shutting down world renowned public and private museums devoted to things such as low-rider car culture to Georgia O'Keeffe paintings, while scuttling classes at the federally chartered Institute for American Indian Arts college.
Wells Fargo Third Major Bank to End Arctic Oil Investment
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Wells Fargo & Co. became the third major U.S. bank to announce it will not support financing for oil and gas projects in the Arctic.
The bank identified the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Alaska's North Slope as an area where it will not invest, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.
Well Fargo joined The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. in the decision not to provide future investment funding for Arctic oil projects.
Well Fargo said the decision was ''part of a larger 2018 risk-based decision to forego participation in any project-specific transaction in the region.``
``Our policy applies only to project finance in the region,'' the San Francisco-based bank said in a statement. ``We have ongoing business relationships with numerous companies involved in the oil and gas industry in the Alaska Arctic region and expect to continue those relationships long into the future.''
The disclosure comes as the Trump administration takes steps to lease tracts in the refuge's coastal plain, setting the stage for drilling approved by Congress in 2017.
Conservation groups and Gwichin tribal members have pressed banks to reject support for investments in the refuge as part of a larger plan to combat climate change.
Other Alaska leaders, including Inupiat tribal leaders, have urged the banks to refuse those pleas, citing Alaska's environmental standards and the state's economic dependence on oil development.
Some oil industry professionals in Alaska expressed concern that reduced financial support for Arctic drilling could threaten future projects.
Goldman Sachs announced its policy in December, and JPMorgan followed in February.
Alaska leaders angered by the Goldman Sachs decision removed the bank from the state's billion-dollar bond plan. The administration of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is also reviewing JPMorgan's relationship with the state.
Tribal Police Take Over Duties from Bureau of Indian Affairs on Pine Ridge
RAPID CITY, S.D (AP) _ Tribal police have taken over law enforcement duties from the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Tribal Police Chief Robert Ecoffey told the Rapid City Journal said the tribe wasn't getting ``enough resources in terms of manpower'' from the BIA.
The move is allowed under the 1975 Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act, which allows tribes to manage federal programs that impact their communities.
Charles Addington, director of the BIA's Office of Justice Services, said the agency supports the move.
Tribal officers will take control of the BIA's $1.3-million budget, property, equipment and responsibilities, which include investigating higher-level crimes on the reservation, Addington said.
Ecoffey said the BIA allocates nine positions to the reservation and nine of his officers have now been promoted to detective. Two of them will focus exclusively on drug investigations and the department will maintain 53 officers in addition to the nine detectives.
Ecoffey said the BIA agents were good at their job, but there just weren't enough of them. Recently, there have been just two agents as some have retired and the BIA hasn't filled the open positions due to the transition.
New Leader of Indigenous Museum is Educator, Tribe Member
BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) _ The new executive director of a museum dedicated to the indigenous people of Maine is a professional educator and member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
The Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor will be led by Christopher Newell, the museum's trustees announced this week. The museum documents Wabanaki culture, history and art.
Newell was born and raised in Indian Township, Maine, and worked for five years as education supervisor for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Connecticut. He also served as senior adviser on the documentary Dawnland, which focused on the Maine-Wabanaki State Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The Abbe Museum was founded in 1926 and is also the site of the annual Abbe Museum Indian Market in Bar Harbor.
Native American Curriculum Rolls Out in Oregon Classrooms
By JORDYN BROWN
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) _ This month, Oregon's Department of Education finally rolled out the first pieces of new statewide curriculum on the history and culture of Native Americans in Oregon after lawmakers passed Senate Bill 13 in 2017 with the hope of remedying years of incomplete or inaccurate teachings.
This school year is the first time districts are required to implement the change in classrooms _ but the curriculum is not yet available for all grades.
Because the department is ``behind,'' it decided last week to do a soft roll-out this year with a hard implementation starting this summer, said April Campbell, the advisor to deputy state superintendent on Indian education.
But despite the delay in full implementation, local educators are excited for the positive impact the new curriculum will have on Native communities in local schools when it arrives.
``It just warms my heart and makes me happy. It makes me smile,'' said Brenda Brainard, who is a member of the Confederated Tribe of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. ``Having worked in Indian education for 25 years, I never thought this would happen _ I never dreamed.''
SB 13 is short and clear in its purpose: to ensure that all of Oregon's public schools have curriculum related to ``the Native American experience in Oregon, including tribal history,'' according to the bill language.
Rachel Hsieh teaches fourth grade at Malabon Elementary School in Bethel School District. While waiting for the state's new curriculum, she and other fourth grade teachers at the school researched and dove deep into social media to find books highlighting Native American culture and history while still being suitable for young readers.
Here are some of the books related to tribal history she has in her classroom:
. ``At the Mountain's Base'' by Traci Sorell
. ``Bowwow Powwow'' by Brenda J. Child
. ``Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code, A Navajo Code Talker's Story'' by Joseph Bruchac
. ``Fry Bread, A Native American Family Story'' by Kevin Noble Maillard
. ``Gaawin Gindaaswin Ndaawsii, I Am Not A Number'' by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
. ``Go Show the World, A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes'' by Wab Kinew
. ``In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse'' by Joseph Marshall III
. ``Many Nations, An Alphabet of Native America'' by Joseph Bruchac
. ``Nibi Emosaawdang, The Water Walker'' by Joanne Robertson
. ``The People Shall Continue'' by Simon J. Ortiz
. ``Unstoppable, How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army'' by Art Coulson
This encompasses the history of topics such as sovereignty issues, Native culture, treaties and current events. The teachings must be historically accurate, ``culturally relevant,'' and community-based.
This law follows similar mandates to teach tribal history enacted in Washington state in 2015 and Montana in 1999.
The state department's responsibility per the law was to work with the nine Native American tribes in Oregon to develop 45 lesson plans across all disciplines and grades, Campbell said. . The department also is required to provide professional development trainings to school districts about how to teach this curriculum.
The laws says districts are responsible for implementing in their schools a minimum of 15 of the 45 lessons available.
Although the curriculum is not yet available for all grades, the lessons that are available _ for fourth, eighth and 10th graders _ were put out by the department this month.
``We were hoping to have all 45 lessons up before the beginning of this school year and now we're just putting up some of the lessons this month,'' Campbell said.
There was supposed to be a hard rollout of the material _ which is distributed through the department website _ this year.
The primary delay on the curriculum development was due to extra time working with Native leaders to create the ``Essential Understandings of Native Americans in Oregon,'' which are nine foundational topics, such as as sovereignty, treaties, genocide and identity, they decided the curriculum should be built on.
The law only states that the implementation of the curriculum must first start during the 2019-2020 school year, but does not dictate any other deadline within that year.
``We're encouraging districts to look at the lesson plans as they can,'' she said. ``We've been doing professional development since last summer. ... There's still a significant need to continue to do professional development,'' so more will be provided this summer.
The state developed the curriculum with the input of Native leaders for 18 months, Campbell said.
``It's a 50,000-foot level (look) _ critical, essential concepts that they wanted to make sure lesson plans were aligned to,'' she said. ``These concepts are sovereignty, identity, federal laws and policies and genocide. So those essential understandings were developed with the intent as a framework as the lesson plans were created.''
They purposely tried to form the curriculum around unraveling stereotypes and misconceptions about Native Americans and provide professional development that would reinforce to educators why this is important and instrumental in teaching a full image of history.
Native American curriculum can be taught in every class, educator Brainard said, beyond just social sciences and history.
As the director of the Natives Program in Eugene School District for 25 years, Brainard has taught on topics such as Native American dance in physical education classes, Native foods in health, basket weaving and totem carving in art, and native storytelling in language arts.
Last year she taught more than 500 lessons across all disciplines and grades, she said.
The history piece is, of course, still a major pillar of lessons, Brainard said. There's still much to be taught on topics such as restoration and termination, Native American housing, tribal comparisons and, of course, the expedition of Lewis and Clark.
``So much of our history here in Oregon, but for the whole United States is always East looking West,'' she said. ``It's this magnificent expansion, and we rarely look at the West viewing what happened to the East.
``I always tell my students, that I want to be very clear that I think Lewis and Clark (are) heroes _ but so is Sacagawea,'' Brainard said. ``There are some inaccuracies, but there are also missing points _ the wonderful contributions of the Indians, of the Native indigenous people that were here.''
Bethel School District also has been working on incorporating tribal history since last year ahead of the state's rollout.
Rachel Hsieh teaches fourth grade at Malabon Elementary School. A teacher for 10 years, she has taught at Malabon for six, and worked this year to integrate conversations about tribal history with the direction of curriculum developed by Oregon's Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.
``A lot of times, students still come in with pictures of braids and feathers and not a lot of clothing, so we do a lot of `What do Native Americans look like?''' Hsieh said, about dispelling stereotypes.
She has introduced new reading materials, territory map projects and information about Oregon's nine tribes.
``Kids just come in and are naturally so open-minded,'' Hsieh said. ``I think it's our grown ups who have a harder time. ... Kids see the injustices faster.''
Incorporating accurate Native American history and curriculum has helped students understand and recognize those injustices and struggles, she said.
While some districts, such as 4J and Bethel, already have been bringing a Native American perspective into some classrooms ahead of the law, there is still an anticipation and excitement among teachers and students for the new curriculum.
``We've been talking about it for two years now, and our students are just hungry for it,'' Brainard said. ``The Native students, they're just waiting for it.''
Students keep asking ``When is it going to happen?'' she said.
Since the curriculum hasn't rolled out in entirety yet educators haven't seen what kind of impact it may have, but are already hearing from students that they're excited about it. Native students also say they are ready to see themselves in Oregon's history.
``Our students perpetually say, `Where's my place? In this history, where are we?''' Brainard said.
Hsieh has heard some of the same comments from students, which is why she has worked to incorporate perspective and materials by not only Native Americans, but also African Americans and Asian Americans.
``My classroom is very diverse so it's important for me to make sure they know they have a spot in the world and belong,'' she said. ``A lot of our curriculum just isn't made with diverse perspectives ... To me, to not do this would feel like a disservice. So to me, it wasn't an option not to (teach the tribal history).''
Hsieh and Brainard are heartened by the fact that this curriculum will eventually be implemented in all grades and be more comprehensive than it has been in the past.
``Indian students say Indian history is taught fast. It's like one day or one minute or one class, and so the balance has been very lopsided,'' Brainard said. ``And in addition to requiring authentic and accurate Native American history, this law put the focus on local tribes. So, it will give a real opportunity for students to understand the contributions and the fact that tribal people are still here right now ... right where they live.''
Educators hope Native students will be able to see themselves in the history of Oregon and the U.S., and foster their own sense of identity as a Native student included in school discussions and activities.
``Having grown up in a kind of town where my tribe was _ Coos Bay _ it always talked about everybody else, and there was never a place for me,'' Brainard said. ``I am so excited for our children to hopefully have the opportunity to find their place. I'm so happy the curriculum is finally out. It's almost not real.''
Pine Ridge's Tokata Iron Eyes Turns Superhero in Marvel Show
By TANYA MANUS
Rapid City Journal
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ Marvel's Hero Project is out to prove that superheroes live among us. One of those superheroes is activist, public speaker and high school student Tokata Iron Eyes of Pine Ridge.
Tokata, 16, is featured in a recent streaming episode of Marvel's Hero Project. Her superhero moniker is ``Thrilling Tokata.'' The show is available exclusively on Disney+. Marvel Entertainment, the powerhouse behind superhero movies and comics, launched this new non-scripted reality series to showcase ordinary kids accomplishing extraordinary things.
``It's a very surreal thing. Disney is a huge media outlet and there's not a lot of representation for indigenous communities anywhere. It's such a profound honor,'' Tokata told the Rapid City Journal. ``It shows progress in a special way. We deserve to be the heroes of our own stories again.''
Marvel's Hero Project highlights 20 kids ages 11 to 16. Some are overcoming disabilities. Some, like Tokata, are activists. Some see problems around them and find creative solutions, such as growing an urban garden to feed the hungry. In every episode, Marvel surprises these young heroes who dedicated themselves to performing selfless acts of bravery, kindness and betterment by welcoming them into Marvel's Hero Project.
``These kids are really special, and totally typical. They're all regular kids who decided to do something and are passionate about something, and that's all it takes,'' said John Hirsch, executive producer for the series. ``With the encouragement of their families and love of their families . these kids are changing the world. It's awesome, awesome, awesome to see.''
Tokata is included in Marvel's Hero Project to empower indigenous youth. Last fall, Tokata gained international attention when she invited Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to western South Dakota. The teens appeared together at a climate rally and march in Rapid City, at Standing Rock High School in North Dakota and on the Pine Ridge Reservation, speaking about climate change and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Tokata's environmental activism began years earlier. Tokata was 12 when she spoke in a video, advocating for action in Standing Rock Sioux Nation's battle against the proposed route of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. The video helped start the ``Rezpect Our Water'' social media campaign, which played a role in attracting thousands of national and international visitors to Standing Rock to fight the pipeline.
``For me, public speaking was an accessible way . to stand up for myself and our people and our rights,'' Tokata said. ``In general, I would consider myself a representative of indigenous youth. I feel like our perspective needs to be included in conversations. For a really long time, we didn't have any say.
``I think the real message (of my episode) is really indigenous people and young people's stories are so important and they need to be told. They are so instrumental to building a world everybody would want to live in,'' she said.
Tokata continues to hold rallies, host letter-writing campaigns and make videos to raise awareness. Her goal is to inspire and empower other indigenous youths to be heard. Yet she's also a junior at Red Cloud Indian School, and she's thinking about college and tentatively planning a career in which she continues public speaking.
Filming for Tokata's Marvel's Hero Project started in January 2019. It continued for six months, mostly on the Pine Ridge Reservation, at Tokata's home and school, in the community and at some of Tokata's speaking engagements.
Each episode ends with a reveal, as Marvel surprises the kids with their very own comic book in which each kid is immortalized as a superhero. Tokata's comic book will be available for free starting Jan. 17 in Marvel Unlimited and the Marvel Digital Comics Store. The online comic book has an audio description option for visually impaired users.
Tokata received physical copies of the comic book she can share with friends. Later, she was presented with a framed copy of her comic book cover, Hirsch said.
``Some of the best editors in Marvel are working on the show. With Tokata's comic . we were really careful in creating a comic book using one of her favorite stories and incorporating that into her comic book,'' Hirsch said. ``She appreciated it and her family appreciated it.''
In December, Hirsch traveled to Pine Ridge to show the episode to Tokata and her family. Her father is Chase Iron Eyes, a Native American activist, attorney, politician and a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Her mother, Dr. Sara Jumping Eagle, is an Oglala Lakota. She's a pediatrician at Standing Rock, and an environmental activist.
``It was cool,'' Hirsch said. ``Her family appreciated it and thought it was done in the right way, and that to us as producers was the most meaningful thing of all. . I think she knows the episode could be a big deal for her community and that's what it's all about for her.''
``When we got to see the episode for the very first time, it was very beautiful in the way it merged these two worlds I've been living in of being a spokesperson and being a kid,'' Tokata said. ``It's show a true portrait of who I am and what life looks like.''
Tokata believes her episode highlights the resiliency of indigenous people and the value of young people's ideas.
``That trauma and those deep hurts weren't very long ago. Those were our grandmas and great-grandparents. To recognize the strength of these communities is imperative,'' Tokata said.
``One thing that should always be said . is we need to start listening to our children in all capacities. We're at a stage in this world where we need everyone's voices and stories listened to. We need to really start recognizing each other on a very human basis . if we're going to create real change together,'' Tokata said. ``Being able to recognize the power children have in their dreams and the ability to care and be compassionate, those are skills the adult world is often lacking.''
3 Plead Guilty in Case of Native American Jewelry Knockoffs
PHOENIX (AP) _ Federal prosecutors say two retailers and a third person face up to five years in prison after pleading guilty in a conspiracy to import jewelry knockoffs made from the Philippines and then misrepresent the goods as made in the United States by Native Americans.
Laura Marye Wesley, 32, pleaded guilty in U.S. District court in Phoenix to conspiracy, wire fraud and other charges while Waleed Sarrar, 44, and Christian Coxon, 46, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, prosecutors said.
Wesley admitted having jewelry made in the Philippines and then arranging to have it smuggled into the United States and delivered to retail outlets in multiple states, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
Sarrar misrepresented imported jewelry as made by Native Americans at his store in Scottsdale, Arizona, while Coxon made similar false claims involving his store in San Antonio, Texas, the statement said.
Group Wants Custer's Name Removed from Bismarck Park
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ A group is working to rename Custer Park in Bismarck because of the ``historical trauma'' it says is associated with its namesake, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.
Custer, as a military officer, served during the Civil War and fought against Native Americans on the Great Plains in the 1860s and 1870s before leading his men to death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. He spent several years stationed at Fort Abraham Lincoln in Mandan before his death.
Two Bismarck women representing the group say the Native American community has negative views of the Custer name.
``What we want to do is come together as one whole community and begin that healing process,'' said Ali Quarne, the mother of two Native American children.
- Angel Moniz, a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, said she was born in Bismarck and was ``baffled`` after she moved back in 2005 to find places in the area named after Custer, according to the Bismarck Tribune.
The two women said they are representing a few hundred people in the community who support stripping Custer's name from the park. The Park Board will consider the request.
'Baby Shark' Creators Plan Navajo Version of Popular Video
By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Creators of the popular video ``Baby Shark,'' whose ``doo doo doo'' song was played at the World Series in October and has been a viral hit with toddlers around the world, are developing a version in Navajo.
Pinkfong, a brand of the South Korea company SmartStudy, announced last week it is working with the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona, to create a new version of the widely popular tune about a family of sharks.
The project was launched after museum director Manuelito Wheeler reached out to SmartStudy in September about translating ``Baby Shark'' into Navajo. The museum previously had lobbied for Navajo versions of the movies ``Star Wars'' and ``Finding Nemo'' that were eventually made.
``I was surprised by their enthusiasm and excitement about getting this started,'' Wheeler said Tuesday. ``We have been looking for something aimed at preschoolers.''
SmartStudy has translated the ``Baby Shark'' tune of the viral video in 19 languages, including English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, Arabic, and Bahasa-Malay.
The company hopes its latest project will spark interest in the Navajo language among the tribe's young generation, SmartStudy marketing manager Kevin Yoon said in an email.
``We're happy to play a role in raising awareness of and preserving a language that's in danger of vanishing through what we do best _ creating fun, stimulating content to provide entertaining learning experiences to children worldwide,'' Yoon said.
The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American reservation in the U.S. The Navajo word for shark is loo hashkehe, which translates to ``angry fish.''
The company is seeking voice actors to portray the roles of Baby Shark, Mommy Shark, Daddy Shark, Grandma Shark, and Grandpa Shark.
The original `` Baby Shark Dance '' video has garnered more than 4 billion views on YouTube.
``Baby Shark'' has been around for a few years, but took the world by storm last year when the song and video went viral with the nursery-school set, with little kids imitating the handclapping dance that went along with the video.
Books, plush toys, and other merchandise inspired by the song became hot-ticket items for the holidays and the ``Baby Shark'' tour was soon hatched.
A second North American leg of the ``Baby Shark'' concert tour is launching in March.
During the World Series, Washington Nationals fans adopted ``Baby Shark'' as the team's rally song.
Nickelodeon has a ``Baby Shark'' cartoon series in the works.
Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press' race and ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/russcontreras
Coal Plant on Tribal Land to Close After Powering US West
By FELICIA FONSECA
ALONG THE BLACK MESA AND LAKE POWELL RAILROAD, Ariz. (AP) _ Ron Little nestles into a familiar seat aboard a train locomotive and slides the window open, leaning out to get a better view of dozens of rail cars that stretch for a mile behind and the landscape he knows so well.
The heavy steel wheels roll along a dizzying pattern of concrete railroad ties that snake through sandstone formations, boulder-laden arroyos and grasslands. Little points to a rock formation named for the reddish dirt that Navajos use to dye wool for rugs and another with a cutout like the handle of a milk jug.
``It's beautiful scenery you just go live with every day,'' he said.
Every day until recently, when the last of the trains he's operated for more than half his life pulled up to a power plant with thousands of tons of coal.
Before the year ends, the Navajo Generating Station near the Arizona-Utah border will close and others in the region are on track to shut down or reduce their output in the next few years. Its owners are turning to cheaper power produced by natural gas as they and other coal-fired plants in the U.S. face growing pressure over contributing to climate change.
Those shifts are upending people's livelihoods, including hundreds of mostly Native American workers who mined the coal on tribal land, loaded it from a roadside silo and helped produce the electricity that has powered the American Southwest since the 1970s.
Two tribes each will lose millions of dollars in income, while workers like Little are forced into early retirement. Some employees will stay on to restore the land, while others aren't sure what's next.
Ted Candelaria, a fourth-generation railroader who voted for President Donald Trump in hopes he would be coal's saving grace, said the change is bittersweet.
``I got all emotional, started tearing up. It's kind of sad because I love what I do,'' Candelaria said from the driver's seat of his pickup truck, looking toward a line of locomotives. ``Where else does a guy get to come to work and ride on an electric train?''
The Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad was one of only three 50-kilovolt electric lines in the world. The rail yard boasted some rarities, including a 1976 locomotive with a faded blue body and a rusty red front end that led the final journey from the coal silos to the power plant in late August, effectively shutting down the mine that fed it.
The power plant was built in the late 1960s on land leased from the Navajo Nation, one of two coal-mining Native American tribes that has the largest land base, spanning parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
The plant was a compromise to keep more hydroelectric dams from being built through the Grand Canyon and to power a series of canals that deliver water to Arizona's major cities, allowing them to grow. At the time, the U.S. was facing a natural gas shortage and utilities turned to coal to feed the electric grid.
Now, utilities increasingly are shifting to renewable energy, setting standards to wean themselves off coal, an industry Trump has tried to prop up. The country gets about 25% of its electricity from coal-fired plants, down from 40% five years ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
U.S. utilities announced the retirement of nearly 550 coal-fired power generators since 2010, the agency said. More are planned.
Two other coal-fired plants operate on or near the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico and have a majority Navajo workforce. The San Juan Generating Station is slated to close in 2022, and the nearby Four Corners Power Plant by 2038.
One unit at the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona shut down in September. Decommissioning the other two is expected to take two years, with the smokestacks coming down in 2020.
The coal reserves are vast beneath the land belonging to the Navajo Nation and the neighboring Hopi Tribe. The plant has burned 24,000 tons of coal a day for nearly 50 years, and the Navajo Nation estimates it still has a 100-year supply.
Without extending the rail line beyond the 78 miles (126 kilometers) between the power plant and the silos at the Kayenta Mine, the coal has nowhere to go.
``It's disappointing to us,'' said Randy Lehn, the mine's acting general manager. ``We tried harder than anyone else to try to keep this thing going.''
Peabody Energy, which owned the mine, launched a bid to save the Navajo Generating Station last year with rallies, ads and a ``Yes to NGS'' campaign. Residents of the Navajo community of LeChee, closest to the plant, wrote to Trump asking for help.
It didn't work. The Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe now are hard-pressed to come up with a way to make up for the losses, including money for student scholarships and road maintenance.
The Hopi Tribe is losing $14 million a year in coal revenue, or 82% of its general budget that pays for human resources, information technology and financial staff, court programs and legal counsel. More than $3 million goes to Hopi villages.
Tribal members who gathered coal from the mine to heat their homes or used it for ceremonial fires will have to look elsewhere, a similar concern for thousands of Navajos.
``(It's) the main concern right now because we're in that part of the season of the year now,'' Hopi Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva said. ``Religious are finally realizing: `What are we going to do for heating? How are we going to survive from here on out?'''
The Hopi Tribe plans to cut government services where it can, possibly switching workers to a four-day workweek.
``Everybody is concerned as far as what the future looks like,'' Tenakhongva said.
Economic development is difficult for the Hopi Tribe, which is landlocked by the much-larger Navajo Nation and doesn't get as much tourist traffic. Hopi officials plan to lobby Congress for funding and to fulfill what it says are land obligations to the tribe.
U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran, an Arizona Democrat who represents both tribes, recently introduced legislation that would temporarily help replace lost coal revenue and create training and educational programs for displaced workers.
At the height, mining operations in the region employed 700 mostly Native American workers. The power plant had more than 500 employees, 90% of whom were Navajo.
Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the tribe will lose between $40 million and $50 million annually from coal revenue and lease payments _ money being replaced temporarily with interest from a trust fund it developed in 1985 to replenish lost revenue from coal, timber, gas and oil.
The interest is enough to cover the losses each year, but the tribe would have to consider approving that method in budget talks going forward.
Mine and power plant workers are being encouraged to start their own businesses and bid on tribal projects, Nez said. His administration also has encouraged members to spend their money on the reservation.
Tourism, solar plants, a call center and manufacturing facilities could help make up lost revenue, tribal officials said, but no single venture will replace the money coal brought in.
``There is potential for a lot more as far as diversification when we look at renewable energy as well as our enterprises of the Navajo Nation that pay back funds to the Navajo Nation,'' tribal economic development director J.T. Willie said.
The tribe will have access to the transmission lines that carried power from the plant to customers in the U.S. West and will keep a warehouse, offices and the train tracks, which Willie said could be used for tourism or sold.
Gerald Clitso, sitting in the control booth of a coal silo above the railway recently, is not convinced he would have as lucrative of a job opportunity elsewhere in the Navajo Nation.
``Our leadership, they just don't have the vision, the foresight to see into the future to see what can sustain our economic conditions here on the Navajo reservation,'' he said. ``With the plant going down and the coal mine going down, we'll end up going back to the days of using Coleman lanterns.''
He peered through a window above the train that slowly rolled into the towering concrete silo along U.S. 160, his fingers jostling the controls that fill each car with 1,000 tons of coal delivered from the mine 18 miles (29 kilometers) away.
Behind him, Navajo workers talked about lost money for scholarships that helped with school and about the relationships formed over decades of working together, reminiscing about exchanging grilled mutton for fried chicken with other people at the silo.
The same conversations are happening along the railroad and at the power plant in Page, where a trio of concrete stacks rise 755 feet (236 meters) above the desert, lights flashing to warn planes.
The plant isn't far from popular tourist attractions like Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend, where the bluish-green water of the Colorado River takes a 270-degree turn.
Lyle Dimbatt, a former Page mayor who grew up there with other power plant employees, said the region still will benefit from tourism, but the economy will take a hit from losing the power plant and mine.
Dimbatt, who is not Native American, still has one kid in school and isn't ready to leave his job as the nighttime train supervisor.
``If I'm honest with you, I'm not happy about it, but can't do nothing about it,'' Dimbatt said, shrugging. ``I'm just glad I'm not walking out of the door with nothing, because some of them are.''
Over half the workers at the mine qualified for retirement, said Lehn, the general manager. A few will stay for cleanup work. The others are out of jobs.
Phoenix-based Salt River Project, majority owner and operator of the power plant, has offered transfers to employees who want them, but that means leaving the reservation.
Schoolchildren would rather not move to a bigger city where they have no family, friends and few open spaces, Pauline Begay said from her office at the LeChee Chapter, a local government of the Navajo Nation, within view of the power plant.
For Little, he will miss the paycheck that helped put his kids through college. He rose from utility man to train operator, passing up the chance to be a supervisor because he liked the serenity aboard the train.
The locomotives and train cars are destined for the scrap pile.
Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan contributed to this report.
Tulane Project to Aid United Houma Nation
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A $2.1 million research project at Tulane University is aimed at helping members of an American Indian tribe in Louisiana cope with climate change and economic inequality.
In a news release, Tulane says the project aims to benefit the United Houma Nation . Challenges facing the south Louisiana tribe include coastal land loss that threatens fishing, trapping and even some homes.
Part of the project will involve examining how tribal citizens move within and outside the state to manage these and other challenges.
Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine was awarded the project by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine's Gulf Research Program.
Oglala Sioux Ban E-cigarettes on Pine Ridge Reservation
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council has banned the sale, possession and use of e-cigarettes on the Pine Ridge Reservation amid a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related illnesses.
The tribal council approved the ban last week, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported. The maximum penalty for violating the ordinance is a fine of $250 or 30 days in jail.
``The health of our people, including our youth, is of the utmost importance and our tribe has always strived to take a leading role in addressing the health issues of our people,'' the ordinance states.
There have been six confirmed cases of vaping-related illness in South Dakota, according to the South Dakota Department of Health, and over 800 across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 12 confirmed deaths in other states.
The CDC says most of the patients reported using products containing THC, the chemical that produces marijuana's high, or both THC-containing products and nicotine-containing products. Some patients reported using only nicotine-containing products. The CDC recommends refraining from using vaping products, particularly those containing THC, while the investigation is ongoing, and against buying these products off the street.
Tribal President Julian Bear Runner heralded the vaping ban as a ``bold action'' and used the occasion to call for further action to regulate all forms of tobacco and nicotine on the reservation.
``In the near future it would empower us to adopt additional legislation related to the cultivation and sale of all forms of tobacco and nicotine, as those industries have profited from our misery since we can remember,'' Bear Runner said in a statement. ``It is to our benefit to authorize only tobacco the Oglala Sioux Tribe has sanctioned.''
The Pine Ridge Reservation has a population of roughly 20,000 in southwestern South Dakota.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com
Montana Native Storyteller Awarded National Arts Fellowship
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ A Montana Native American storyteller is expected to be honored as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Billings Gazette reports traditional Crow storyteller Grant Bulltail is one of 10 people chosen by the NEA to receive a 2019 fellowship.
Bulltail is expected to be honored in Washington, D.C., with the presentation of the fellowship, which includes a $25,000 award.
Bulltail says the award money will be put toward hiring an editor to work with him on a novel presenting a story of the Crow people.
He has previously shared his stories at state and national parks and places of significance to the Crow people.
Bulltail has also taught at Utah State University, which is building a collection of his work.
Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com
ACLU Creates New Position Focusing On Indigenous Issues
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) _ The American Civil Liberties Union is creating a new position in South Dakota to focus on indigenous issues, spurred in part by the state toughening laws ahead of possible Keystone XL pipeline protests.
ACLU director of campaigns Sabrina King said the position will be modeled on the organization's indigenous justice program in Montana. King will supervise the new South Dakota position.
The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported the ACLU has long wanted to build on its work on indigenous issues in the state. The idea took on new urgency after South Dakota this year passed laws aimed at potential Keystone XL protests.
With memories fresh of disruptive protests against the Dakota Access pipeline that cost neighboring North Dakota nearly $40 million and led to hundreds of arrests beginning in late 2016, South Dakota pushed the laws through late in this year's legislative session just days after they were proposed by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.
The laws require pipeline companies to help pay extraordinary expenses such as the cost of policing during protests and aim to pursue money from demonstrators who engage in so-called ``riot boosting,'' which is defined in part as encouraging violence during a riot.
The measures sparked opposition from Native Americans tribes who said they weren't consulted.
The ACLU is challenging the laws in federal court, arguing they are unconstitutional.
King said the person in the new position will build relationships with indigenous people throughout the state and ask the question, ``What are the issues that are affecting your community that the ACLU needs to be working on?'' King said.
It has become clear that the basis of organizing is building relationships rather than hiring more attorneys or policy directors, she said.
They already know there are topics that need focus, including missing and murdered indigenous women and the Keystone XL pipeline. But the ACLU knows there are other areas that it's missing, and the new position will allow the ACLU to work on those issues in partnership with indigenous people in South Dakota, she said.
``Across the ACLU, we're focusing a lot more on indigenous communities and really wanting to build relationships and be in conversation with folks,'' especially in places like Montana and South Dakota where the indigenous justice organizers can work in a more focused way, she said.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com
Conservation Groups Sue To Block Road In Alaska Refuge
By DAN JOLING
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Nine conservation groups are suing the U.S. Interior Department over a proposed Alaska land swap that could lead to a road through a national wildlife refuge.
The groups seek to block a road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula.
The refuge contains internationally recognized habitat for migrating waterfowl.
Residents of the village of King Cove for decades have sought a land connection through the refuge to Cold Bay, which has an all-weather airport and better access to emergency flights.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013 concluded a road would damage the Izembek watershed.
A federal judge in March rejected a previous land swap. In July, the King Cove Native Corp. proposed the new land swap, which is the basis for the lawsuit.
Agreement Calls For Shield's Return To Tribe In New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ A settlement agreement filed in U.S. District Court in New Mexico calls for a Paris auction house to return a ceremonial shield to a Native American tribe that considers it sacred.
Under the agreement, the EVE auction house is to release the artifact to the U.S. Embassy in Paris for transport to Albuquerque by a federal agent.
The auction house previously listed the shield among many Native American items for sale.
Those signing the agreement included Acoma Pueblo Gov. Brian Vallo and Jerold Collings, a resident of rural western New Mexico who has said he inherited the shield from his mother.
The tribe has pressed for repatriations of ceremonial items from galleries, auction houses and private collections, and Vallo called the shield's return homecoming ``critical and highly sensitive.''
Sports, Horse Betting Bill for Cherokee Gets Final Approval
By GARY D. ROBERTSON
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ North Carolina's only federally recognized American Indian tribe could soon offer sports and horse wagering to patrons at its two casinos.
The General Assembly gave final approval to a measure that would give the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians the authority to offer the additional types of betting. The House voted 90-27 for the measure that had already cleared the Senate three months ago.
The bill now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk. Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said the governor will review the bill before making a decision on whether to sign it into law.
The sports-book option took shape after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that made most sports gambling illegal last year. State law already lets the Eastern Band offer live poker, slot machines and video-style games.
Eastern Band Principal Chief Richard Sneed said in an interview MonDAY night that the new options would provide more amenities at the tribe's Harrah casinos in Murphy and Cherokee, but downplayed them as big money-makers.
Sneed said the tribe projects an additional $14 million annually by offering sports and off-track horse betting, of which $1 million annually would go to state coffers. State government already receives regular funds from Eastern Band gambling operations.
``People are excited about it, (especially) for a lot of folks that haven't done sports betting besides office pools,'' Sneed said. ``We're just excited to be able to offer it'' if it becomes law, he added.
Rep. Kevin Corbin of Macon County, who was shepherding the bill, told colleagues on the House floor the measure wouldn't expand geographically where tribal gambling could occur. Although conservative Christians warned lawmakers in committee about the societal dangers of more gambling, nobody spoke out against the measure.
Eastern Band members benefit from casino-related jobs and payments of about $12,000 annually for its share of gambling income. The Eastern Band is also one of the state's top political contributors.
A separate measure now before the Senate to create a new state gambling commission would direct the proposed panel to study the feasibility of authorizing sports betting and steeplechases in the state. Sneed said he's excited about the study proposal, given that the tribe has been involved in casino gambling for more than 20 years.
New Escape Room Teaches Connecticut's Native History
By JUSTIN PAPP
WASHINGTON, Conn. (AP) _ Griffin Kalin has a very particular set of skills.
They were passed on in childhood from his parents, who own a business recreating the material culture of prehistoric Native American life.
And they made him an especially suitable candidate for the unusual task he was handed in February 2018: Create a Wigwam escape room at the Institute for American Indian Studies, in Washington, that puts players into the pre-European-contact world of the Native Americans who once inhabited the region.
``Probably the biggest challenge, in terms of designing it, was trying to find ways around the fact that there was no written language, there was no metal for the most part. A lot of the norms for building escape rooms were outside of the realm of what we could do because of the context we chose to put it in,'' Kalin says, on a recent Wednesday, standing in the 20-by-20-foot room located within the museum's Research Center, beside the wigwam he built and his creative partner, Lauren Bennett.
Kalin, the museum's creative director, and Bennett, the Wigwam Escape coordinator, are high school friends who linked up last year to oversee the room, which is an attempt by the museum to attract a more diverse group of visitors.
According to Executive Director Chris Combs, in its early years, the small museum, tucked in a remote section of the Litchfield Hills, would draw upward of 20,000 visitors annually. But that the opening of Mohegan Sun and Foxwood casinos, including the latter's Mashantucket Pequot Museum, on the other side of the state in the 1990s precipitated a drop off. Now, Combs says, the museum is mostly visited by school groups and people over 65. So he sought to attract new demographics.
``We opened the escape room basically because of demographics I saw,'' Combs says. ``Millennials like escape rooms, parents like escape rooms.''
Combs enlisted Kalin, who, in addition to primitive skills, has an interest in gaming and exploration-style learning, and Bennett. They in turn brought a fellow Nonnewaug High School graduate and artist, Jesse Stevens, and opened the room in December.
``Jesse was around and could paint the walls, and Lauren was thinking of coming back around. Lauren's really good at facilitating dialogue, guiding people through things and talking about experiences. Jesse had been working on sets of movies for a while, so he and I had some really interesting ideas about how to construct some of the wall stuff,'' Kalin says. ``We had the people we needed, which was super cool.''
The game mirrors other escape rooms in that players have 60-minutes to complete a series of tasks and exit the room. It's meant to induce an empathetic response to history through immersion, Bennett says.
In addition to the wigwam, native flora and fauna native and objects common to an Algonquin village of the time dot the room. Stalks of corn were fashioned out of masking tape painted green and plastic gourds were 3-D printed in the University of Connecticut Maker Studio. Stevens' mural depicts mountain laurels, mushrooms, lush forests and a native village. In one corner, a stuffed deer peers over some brush. Played on the loudspeakers are the calls of hawks, loons and, as the end of the challenge is approaching, owls. The clap of thunder signals that Bennett and Kalin, who track the progress of participants from a monitor outside of the room, want to offer players a hint.
Before entering, all visitors must forfeit their technological devices. They'll find no clocks or timers on the inside _ instead, time is told based on a light display that simulates the passing of a full day. The tasks force players to think critically about how people living in that place, at that time, would've interacted with their environment and secure the resources they needed to survive.
``You're going to find yourself in the year 1518 in a Native American village in the Eastern woodlands. You've recently received word from a neighboring village of Metachiwon that they're being affected by an illness and they're asking for help,'' Bennett explained. ``So the main part of the game is gathering supplies for that journey. You need water, two different kinds of cooked foods and medicine.''
The hour ends with popcorn, a traditional Native American snack, and a debriefing in the Research Center lobby, which is meant to reinforce the cultural and historical lessons learned over the course of the hour.
``It's rewarding when we talk to people, because our mission of educating people is coming through,'' Combs says.
Information from: Connecticut Post, http://www.connpost.com
Colorado Bison Herd Growing Much Faster Than Expected
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) _ A bison herd in northern Colorado is growing much faster than expected.
The herd at a natural area north of Fort Collins began three years ago as 10 genetically pure descendants of bison in Yellowstone National Park.
The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports the herd now numbers 76 animals, including a dozen calves born just this year. The natural area doesn't have enough room for more than 100 bison.
Herd managers expect to reach that number soon.
Colorado State University, the city of Fort Collins and Larimer County hope to raise enough genetically pure, disease-free bison to give or trade to American Indian tribes and conservation organizations.
Herd managers recently sent two bison bulls to a zoo in Oakland, California.
Information from: Fort Collins Coloradoan, http://www.coloradoan.com
Famous Tree Fights For Survival After More Than 300 Years
Tree outside the Indian Steps Museum
By FRANK BODANI, York Daily Record
AIRVILLE, Pa. (AP) _ The most famous tree in York County looks only half alive.
Gone are the days when the American holly along the Susquehanna River stretched strong and stately some 65 feet tall.
The tree near the Indian Steps Museum has been photographed and documented for more than a century. Hand-written accounts claim it was a sapling alongside Native American fishing camps, primarily the Susquehannocks, more than 300 years ago.
Some have called it the largest holly north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
But those who run the museum along a winding, wooded road in Lower Chanceford Township worried that it might have to be cut down. It does look to be fighting for its life, once again.
The curious condition of a tree being barely held together
A few of its enormous, dense limbs have been sheared off by wind and ice storms. Its insides were once patched together with cement in an effort to stave off decay _ wire and mesh still showing through the trunk in one cavity.
The tallest stretches of its trunk are dead wood.
And yet it's not necessarily dying, after all.
That was the recent observation of Longwood Gardens arborist Scott Wade, who evaluated the tree that is about to give up its long reign as a state champion for size.
Wade visited Indian Steps in March to take cuttings from the holly in hopes of propagating it among the historical collection at Longwood.
His status report is that the tree is ``changing'' in old age.
Though lopsided in appearance, one side of it remains green and vibrant and is pushing new growth. Some pruning and propping could help this legend maintain, if not even recover to a point, Wade said.
And even if the main trunk of the tree is lost, the root system should continue to grow _ evidenced by a pair of fast-sprouting shoots from the bottom of the trunk.
A natural wonder that `would be considered an antique'
It could begin over again, in a sense.
``It has so much great history to it. It's been written about for a hundred years. Just its legacy is something that's interesting. It draws people down here,'' Wade said.
This holly has been listed among the Penn Charter Trees _ any tree documented to have been alive when William Penn arrived to claim this territory in 1682. However, the tree has long been hollow _ Wade pushed a stick through a crevice and out the other side _ so its growth rings can never be counted.
That means its precise age may never be accurately determined.
Robert Bair, executive director of the York County Conservation Society, said he remembers the tree from a second-grade field trip to Indian Steps. He's 60 now.
``It's the sense of history. You can stand there and realize that this has been around with any of our parents, any of our grandparents,'' he said. ``You can't feel that any other way. You can't fathom it, almost.
``In another realm this would be considered an antique.''
The tree's many lives
The Indian Steps holly tree nearly came to end nearly a century ago.
In the early 1930s, the Pennsylvania Water and Power Company, which built the Holtwood Dam across the Susquehanna River, planned on removing the tree, according to the book, ``75 Years of Conservation: The Story of the Conservation Society of York County.''
The Conservation Society reportedly petitioned PWP to save the tree, and it was granted.
It is a survivor from an era when nearly everything was clear-cut for timber, agriculture and tannins to make leather. Loggers even cleared those steep hills around Indian Steps that run headlong toward the river.
Arrowheads and tools have been found near the holly that are 10,000 years old, said Debbie Saylor, museum curator and research director. Native Americans associated the holly with courage and defense, often placing sprigs of it on their war shields.
As the holly grew, the Susquehannocks morphed into the Conestoga tribe. They moved to the Lancaster side of the river and eventually vanished in the 1700s.
``We know our predecessors were actually there,'' Bair said. ``It does give you a sense of connection, if you will. When folks go down to Indian Steps you you can feel that ...''
Information from: York Daily Record, http://www.ydr.com
Warm Springs Water Crisis Continues
WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (AP) _ Schools, businesses and homeowners in Warm Springs, Oregon, are into their second week of a water crisis that is forcing residents to boil water before consumption, the most recent in a string of water problems plaguing the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.
The Bulletin reports a boil water notice initiated on May 30 remains in effect until further notice, due to loss of pressure in the distribution system.
The tribal council was expected to address the issue in meetings earlier this week, but results have not been announced.
Warm Springs - one of Oregon's poorest communities with poverty rates double the state average - has struggled to maintain its infrastructure, create jobs and provide affordable housing. Access to clean and safe drinking water also compounds a health crisis in an area suffering from soaring rates of diabetes and cancer.
North Dakota Tribe Defends Its Rights To Minerals From State
By DAVE KOLPACK
FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ For nearly two centuries, the federal government has repeatedly assured a Native American tribe in North Dakota that it has rights to a reservation river and the issue stayed relatively quiet until oil companies figured out a way to drill under the waterway, which is now a man-made lake.
With an estimated $100 million in oil royalties waiting in escrow to be claimed and future payments certain to come, the state has become more involved in seeking ownership rights. It successfully lobbied the U.S. Interior Department to suspend a last-minute Obama-era memo stating that mineral rights under the original Missouri River bed should belong to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, which is also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes.
The Interior Department put the minerals issue on hold last summer and ordered a review of the ``underlying historical record.'' The state maintains that it assumed ownership of the riverbed when North Dakota became a state in 1889, citing a constitutional principle known as the equal footing doctrine.
The state's immersion in the issue isn't sitting well with tribal members, who say it's between them and the Trump administration.
"They obviously didn't care that much before,'' the tribal chairman, Mark Fox, recently told The Associated Press. "Now that there might be $100 million there, all of a sudden the state really cares, right?''
The January 2017 memo by former Interior Department Solicitor Hilary Tompkins, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, is one of numerous federal declarations since the 1820s that have confirmed the tribes' ownership of the river, which was altered when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Garrison Dam in the 1950s and created Lake Sakakawea.
In her ruling, Tompkins cited both a 1936 opinion by the Interior Department that granted the tribes ownership of a Missouri River island and a wider-ranging 1979 conclusion by the Interior Board of Land Appeals that the entire bed of the river within the reservation boundaries didn't pass to North Dakota's control when it became a state. The state didn't appeal the 1979 decision, which Tompkins said rejected the relevance of the equal footing doctrine.
Tribal officials have recently taken to social media and penned op-eds asking state leaders to come out in support of the tribes' ownership rights, much like they did during the last legislative session regarding an oil and tax agreement with the tribes.
"I hope our elected officials will join us once again in supporting our lawful property rights to the minerals under the Missouri River on the Fort Berthold Reservation,'' Fox wrote in an op-ed kicking off the campaign.
The opinion by Tompkins, who said her conclusions are backed by a 2001 Supreme Court opinion giving an Idaho tribe ownership of submerged lands, came out two days before President Donald Trump's inauguration. Although Trump held a meeting later that year to pledge his support to Native American leaders in oil country, including Fox, state government officials in Republican-dominated North Dakota have found receptive ears at the Interior Department.
State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem wrote a letter in October 2017 to James Cason, associate deputy secretary in the Interior Department and longtime conservative operative, stating that the Tompkins opinion has flaws and asking that it be withdrawn or suspended. "I wholeheartedly support a `re-set' and encourage discussions that have as their objective an amicable resolution to the title question,'' Stenehjem wrote.
Principal Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani complied with that request in June 2018, after which the National Congress of American Indians passed a resolution urging the Interior Department to complete title and mapping work of the riverbed and scrap Jorjani's opinion.
Stenehjem told the AP that Fox's op-ed focusing on strong relationships between tribal and state governments should be a "means to resolve any of these issues.'' Asked if that meant sharing some of the royalties, the attorney general said, "Conceivably, yes.'' He added that those conversations would go through Republican Gov. Doug Burgum.
Burgum's spokesman, Mike Nowatzki, said in a statement that Burgum is committed to partnering and engaging in productive dialogue with "all tribal nations for the benefit of all North Dakotans,'' but added that any public statements on the riverbed minerals issue would be premature. The Interior Department did not respond to requests for comment.
Fox said tribal elders have told him to "fight and fight hard for what our people died for over hundreds of years.'' He said he believes it's his responsibility to right some of the wrongs, including "one of the greatest devastating blows to our people,'' the construction of Garrison Dam.
"We have a connection to the river that goes back thousands of years,'' Fox said. "It's not just cultural, it's not only spiritual, it has also historically been our economic foundation of who we are.''
Fox said the tribes have spent their oil money wisely. He cited a new courthouse, $130 million worth of road repairs, construction of more than 400 homes, a new drug treatment facility, health insurance for 7,000 enrolled members, improvements in law enforcement, a $20 million education fund for students, and $200 million in infrastructure upgrades, among other things.
Tribal elder Austin Gillette, 72, who was in first grade when his town of Elbowoods was flooded out by Lake Sakakawea, and 90 percent of reservation residents were forced to relocate, remembers it as the first time he saw adults cry.
"Water is life,'' said Gillette, a former tribal chairman and council member. "We just want the state to go away on this issue.''
Follow Dave Kolpack on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaveKolpackAP
Grizzlies on the Move in US Rockies as Hunting in Limbo
By MATTHEW BROWN
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Grizzly bears are expanding their range in the U.S. Northern Rockies, spreading from remote wilderness into farmland amid a legal fight over proposed hunting.
New government data from grizzly population monitoring show bruins in the Yellowstone region of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho expanded their range by about 1,500 square miles (3,900 square kilometers) over the past two years.
They now occupy almost 27,000 square miles (69,000 square kilometers), a range that has grown 34 percent in the past decade.
That means more bears on private lands where they can encounter humans and attack livestock, said Frank van Manen with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Run-ins with bears are happening in agricultural areas where the fearsome animals hadn't been seen for decades, raising tensions in communities over the grizzly's status as a federally protected species in the U.S. outside Alaska
"Not all grizzly bears are livestock killers, but of course it only takes a few to do potentially quite a bit of killing,'' van Manen said.
Wyoming and Idaho officials proposed grizzly hunts last year, but they were blocked by a judge's ruling.
Government attorneys asked an appeals court to overturn part of that ruling. The case could take months or even years to decide, even as there's no end in sight to the trend of bears getting into more conflicts at the periphery of their range.
An estimated 700 bears live in the Yellowstone area. Biologists say that's a conservative figure and doesn't include grizzlies that are outside a designated monitoring area that's centered on Yellowstone National Park.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contends the animals no longer need federal protection. State officials say hunting would give them a tool to better manage their numbers, but that it would be limited to sustainable levels.
In his ruling that blocked hunting, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said in part that officials had not given enough consideration to how lifting protections for Yellowstone bears would affect other grizzly populations in the Rockies.
The government conceded that point in their court brief, saying officials already had started working on the topic and would explain the impact that lifting protections would have on other bears.
But U.S. Justice Department attorneys pushed back against the judge's further contention that a "comprehensive review of the entire listed species'' was needed. That would require officials to look more closely at the status of other bear populations, beyond the impacts of a decision to lift protections around Yellowstone.
The attorneys said such a detailed review exceeds what's required under federal law.
Environmentalists argue that it's too soon to lift protections first imposed in 1975, especially because conflicts between humans and bears remain a prime cause of bear deaths. Also, Yellowstone bears are isolated from other populations, which has raised questions about their long-term genetic health.
"For us it's never been a numbers game,'' said Andrea Santarsiere with the Center for Biological Diversity. "For grizzly bears to really be recovered, we need to see those populations connected.''
A coalition of American Indian tribes wants Congress to protect grizzlies permanently. They say the animals are sacred and play a role in many ceremonies and traditions.
Yellowstone became a refuge for the species last century after hunting and trapping killed off bears across most of their range.
The park remains a grizzly stronghold. But younger, male bears search for territory of their own outside the park, with females soon following behind, van Manen said.
A similar dynamic has played out in Northwestern Montana, home of more than 1,000 grizzlies. The area includes Glacier National Park and the vast Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Bears in recent years have attacked livestock dozens of miles outside those wild areas, on the open plains of central Montana where ranches and cropland occupy the landscape.
Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MatthewBrownAP .
Two Oklahoma Tribes To Build A Bison Meat Processing Plant
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Two Native American tribes in Oklahoma are planning to build a meat processing plant in an effort to take a more active role in bringing the nations' bison herd to the marketplace, a tribal business official said.
Nathan Hart, business director for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, noted an eatery at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum currently being developed in Oklahoma City could sell the meat plant's first bison entrees.
Hart said the U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected processing plant being built in El Reno will be chiefly for bison, but the planned 150-acre (around 60-hectare) site will also take in cattle and wild game, The Journal Record reported.
``When we started this, we had a smaller processing facility in mind,'' Hart said. ``But as we've stepped out and let more people know what we're doing, the plan expanded up to 3,000 animals per year. ``This won't just be for our processing purposes, either. We're in contact with a lot of other producers in western Oklahoma to fill a need for production there.''
The tribes' farming program already has supply chains for bison meat to be sold in dozens of the region's stores.
Its bison flock stands at roughly 400 head, mostly in Concho. Hart said his tribes' leaders are crafting the legal framework to turn the processing plant into a business unit under a corporate holding company. A viability study will also be instituted.
The Cheyenne & Arapaho aren't the first tribes to cultivate bison herds for internal and profitable uses. The Quapaw Cattle Co., for instance, contributes around 20,000 pounds (around 9,000 kilograms) of beef and bison to Quapaw Public Schools, while also donating to area food banks, day care centers, churches and Quapaw Tribe Title VI nutritional programs to provide protein for a healthy diet.
Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com
Anchorage Gathering Planned to Remember Missing Native Women
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Alaska advocacy groups are hosting a public weekend ceremony in Anchorage to remember missing and murdered indigenous women.
The free Saturday afternoon event at the Alaska Native Heritage Center is being held to coincide with the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls, to be observed Sunday.
The Anchorage event is billed as a community gathering and ``heartbeat of drums.'' It will feature dance and drum groups, speakers and traditional Alaska Native foods, including moose and seal soup.
The event comes amid a national crisis _ the disappearances of hundreds of Native American and Alaska Native women and girls from across the country. Native women experience some of the highest rates of murder, sexual violence and domestic abuse.
A Baseball Branding Bonanza, and 2 Guys Helping It Happen
By TED ANTHONY
AP National Writer
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) _ On a spring evening in eastern Pennsylvania, upon a bluff overlooking the Lehigh Valley, a carnival of baseball and pork products is at hand.
From loudspeakers, swine-like sounds reverberate. Vendors roam the stands in clothing festooned with outsized strips of bacon. And yes, there is also a baseball game going on _ featuring players wearing jerseys that say, across the chest, ``BaconUSA.''
No matter that the decade-old Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A team, are named for the pig iron that is a byproduct of the steel this region is renowned for producing. This is branding and marketing at its best.
The pugnacious strip of breakfast meat, introduced as the team's alternate identity five years ago, hardly stands alone.
Up in New England, there are yard goats. In the Deep South, there are spacebound raccoons. A wider scan of the American map reveals a menagerie of unlikely characters, from quarrelsome jumbo shrimp to menacing thunderbolts, from in-your-face rubber ducks to aggrieved prairie dogs. It's nowhere near the history-soaked dignity of the Yankees or the Dodgers, and that's the point.
Across America, a golden age of minor league baseball branding has unfolded, bursting with exuberance and calibrated localism. And two guys from San Diego, born six days apart and best friends since kindergarten, have helped teams find the way.
``You look at our stuff, and you'll see a lot of pigs, squirrels, ducks looking to punch above their weight. These are American stories,'' Jason Klein says.
He and his partner, Casey White, are the 39-year-old founders of Brandiose, a California design studio that pushes minor league baseball branding into fresh frontiers. Partnering with nearly half the approximately 160 minor league clubs that dot the continental United States, they have spent most of their adult lives helping teams build new storylines.
The recipe goes something like this:
Take modern microbrewing's eclectic localism. Add a character-based American advertising tradition that points back to Count Chocula, the Green Giant and Messrs. Clean and Peanut. Top it off with an optimistic Disneyland sensibility that marries midcentury roadside signage with the kinetic creativity of Bill Veeck, the team owner who, in 1951, sent a 3-foot, 7-inch tall adult man up to the plate for a major league at-bat (he walked, of course).
The resulting civic cocktail? Minor league teams bursting with personality and verve, saturated in the culture of the communities they represent _ and ready to sell you loads of quirky merch.
``It's a very exciting time for colloquial, niche and unique stories,'' White says. ``We're accentuating stories that were lost for a long time, that people were told were stupid and they should be more cosmopolitan.''
Brandiose and a minor league club will discuss what's wanted _ from some tweaks to a total rebrand or new-team launch _ and set to work. Klein and White will travel to the community and immerse themselves, asking questions and trying to figure out what makes the region tick.
Possibilities will be narrowed, presentations made, naming contests sometimes held. But if Brandiose is involved, it's likely a team won't be steered toward the safe choice. They embrace the counterintuitive _ like the IronPigs, with whom they have been involved since 2008, when the team became the metallic, truculent hogs they are today.
``We got skewered in the media, the fan base: `This is the worst name ever. We're never coming to a game,''' says Chuck Domino, who was running the IronPigs then and is now chief executive manager of the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
``Within a couple months,'' he says, ``we had grandfathers wearing plastic pig noses to games.''
Or consider the Rocket City Trash Pandas.
When the BayBears of Mobile, Alabama, the Los Angeles Angels' Double-A team, came under new ownership and moved 350 miles north to the Huntsville area for 2020, they brought in Brandiose. ``Moon Possums'' and ``Comet Jockeys'' emerged as contenders, but despite trepidations about the word ``trash,'' the Trash Pandas _ slang for raccoons _ prevailed.
Why? Because a scrappy raccoon reaching for the stars resonated in the Huntsville-area community, with its deep aerospace heritage. So a scavenger in a trash-can spacecraft it became.
Says Klein: ``Raccoons break locks, get into things. What if a raccoon created a rocket ship? What would it look like? It'd be created out of trash! And that metaphorically speaks to these engineers: `I don't know how we're going to do this. We gotta get people from here to the moon!'''
The team did $500,000 business in Trash Pandas merchandise in the 30 days after the October unveiling, Klein says.
Particularly appealing to fans are teams' ``alternate'' identities _ a swag-sales play, sure, but also an opportunity to dig deeper into the community. One expression of that: Copa de Diversion, in which teams temporarily deploy names and logos designed to resonate with Latino/Hispanic fans. This year, 72 minor league clubs participated.
Often a team will express its alternate identity through local food, from Rochester, New York's ``garbage plates'' to asparagus in Stockton, California. Thus did the IronPigs one summer switch meats temporarily, rebranding themselves as the Cheesesteaks, an ode to the fans of their major league team 60 miles southeast.
Like the best of such gambits, it calibrated the dance of local flavor and national interest perfectly.
``We had orders from all 50 states in 24 hours,'' says Kurt Landes, the team's president and general manager. ``You want to do things from a local standpoint, and that's important to us. But sometimes there's a small twist that makes things go viral.''
Minor league ball dates to the 1800s, as does its idiosyncratic regionalism: By the dawn of the 20th century, the Wheeling Stogies were playing in West Virginia's cigar-making northern panhandle and the Grand Rapids Furniture Makers were taking the field in Michigan.
Today's version of it, which comes after years of teams styling themselves after MLB counterparts, plays to a specific notion: that minor league baseball isn't merely the big leagues in miniature.
Because the ``on-field product'' _ the players _ are mostly just passing through en route to the majors (or in the other direction), it's hard to market personalities. So teams tend to emphasize the off-the-field experience.
``We have no control of the team, no control of the players,'' says Jim Pfander, president of the Fast Forward Sports Group, which owns the Akron RubberDucks and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. ``They get called up and there's nothing you can do about it.''
Both teams _ formerly the Akron Aeros and the Jacksonville Suns _ enlisted Brandiose to help reboot what they considered unfocused identities.
For Akron, whose history is intertwined with the rubber industry, ``a tough, gritty duck that's really got that blue-collar ethos to it'' was an ideal choice for both adults and kids.
In Jacksonville, White and Klein learned that lots of the East Coast's shrimp passes through the Port of Jacksonville, and that the community saw itself as a ``little big city.'' The oxymoronic Jumbo Shrimp were born.
``They had been the Suns forever. But by the end of the (first) season, people were leaving with armloads of gear,'' Pfander says. More saliently, attendance jumped nearly 29 percent in Jacksonville the season after the rebrand; for Akron, it was 27 percent.
A more subtle example of brand tweaking came from Brandiose's work with the Spokane minor league team, known for 116 years as the Indians. At the outset, Klein recalls, Brandiose was asked to follow ``one rule _ stay away from the Native American stuff.''
Instead, they did the opposite. They all went to meet with the Spokane Tribe of Indians, for whom the team was originally named. The two groups learned about each other and agreed to incorporate tribal icons and the tribe's fading language, Salish, into the team's narrative.
Today, one jersey spells out ``Spokane'' in Salish; the word ``Indians'' is gone. Signs in both English and Salish dot the ballpark, and the tribe's leaders are stakeholders in how the team frames its message.
``We said, `What's important to you?''' says Otto Klein, the team's senior vice president. ``A lot of minor league teams are realizing that we don't have to throw a dart against a wall and see where it sticks. We can look at our own community and find the gems that make us special.''
There is a saying in minor league baseball circles, often attributed to Chuck Domino: ``We're not in the baseball business. We're in the circus business.'' But many people think of a circus as chaos, when in fact it is, as Domino says, a choreographed extravaganza.
It is business. It is mythmaking, and in particular that ``farm team'' brand of it that speaks to the American desire for baseball to have come from the heartland, from the small towns and tinier cities. Most of all, it is that curious collision of nostalgia and capitalism and quirky carnival-barkerism that helped build America, rewritten for the 21st century.
``Minor league ball has always had this aura, accurate or not, of a more innocent time, a more innocent approach to the game,'' says Paul Lukas, whose blog, UniWatch, has showcased his expertise in athletic uniforms and consumer culture for nearly two decades. ``I do enjoy the embrace of local culture at a time when so many things are homogenized. . There is still stubborn regionalism. We learn about these places through these teams.''
Baseball today is under threat by glitzier, faster-moving, entirely personality-driven sports that are something minor league ball will never be. But as teams and Brandiose have proven, they can lean into the exact opposite aesthetic.
``When you put on a minor league baseball hat,'' Klein says, ``it's the story of your town and the story of what it means to be an American.''
Overstating things? Perhaps a bit. But in a landscape of trash pandas and rubber ducks and flying squirrels and sod poodles, would you really expect anything less?
Ted Anthony, director of digital innovation for The Associated Press, writes frequently about American culture. Follow him on Twitter at (at)anthonyted.
Casino-Operating Tribes Influence Sports Betting Debate
By STEVE KARNOWSKI and GEOFF MULVIHILL
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Native American tribes have emerged as key players in the legislative debates over whether states should legalize sports betting, with some opposing the idea because it could threaten their casinos and others supporting legalization but only if they retain a monopoly.
In many states, tribes are fighting sports betting or taking a go-slow approach because they worry it might force them to reopen decades-old agreements that give them exclusive rights to operate casinos and offer certain forms of gambling.
``The tribes have a major-league seat at the table,'' said Bill Pascrell III, a lobbyist for gambling interests that are seeking legalized sports betting across the country.
Six states have joined Nevada in allowing sports gambling since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year opened the door to its expansion. Legalization is being considered in more than 20 others.
In Minnesota, a bill seeking to legalize sports betting cleared its first hurdle earlier this year, passing a committee in the state Senate. But that's likely to be as far as it goes, in large part because the state's politically potent tribes oppose it.
Gambling ``is the only successful economic development tool the tribes have ever had,'' John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, told the committee.
The tribes, which operate 21 casinos and have given millions in campaign donations, are especially concerned about allowing sports betting on mobile devices, which they fear could invite wider internet gambling that could threaten their casinos.
In Texas, the only sports betting bill is almost certain to die. It was introduced by a Democrat, the minority party, in a state where casino operators from neighboring Oklahoma and Louisiana have donated millions to keep gambling out. Two Oklahoma tribes, the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations, have given more than $5 million to Texas officeholders and candidates since 2006.
Sports betting measures introduced in Arizona and Washington state are also considered longshots, mostly because of tribal ambivalence or opposition.
In some states where tribal gambling is prevalent, sports betting bills have not been introduced at all. That's the case in Oklahoma, as well as California and Florida, which are home to politically influential tribes that have been cool to the idea.
But elsewhere, casino-operating tribes are the ones leading the legalization efforts.
The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have exclusive rights to casino gambling in Connecticut and are working with the governor's office to add sportsbooks. Two tribal casinos in New Mexico began running sportsbooks after the Supreme Court decision, even though the tribes never received explicit permission from the state.
In North Carolina, a bill pushed by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians would allow the tribe to offer betting on sports and horse races at its casino near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, without forcing it to make any substantial concessions.
Conservative religious groups have warned about the dangers of more gambling, but the legislation has so far sailed through committees in the state Senate. The tribe is one of the state's top political contributors.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Jim Davis, lauded the tribe for bringing jobs to an otherwise distressed portion of western North Carolina.
``They've been incredibly good stewards of the revenue, and it's transforming that community,'' he said.
Like other powerful interest groups, tribes ensure they have access to lawmakers and governors through political contributions. Tribal governments have contributed more than $114 million to state-level candidates and political committees over the past decade, according to an Associated Press analysis of data compiled by the National Institute on Money in Politics.
In some states, including California, allowing sports betting would probably require a constitutional amendment. That and tribal reluctance means the NBA's Sacramento Kings will have to wait longer, perhaps indefinitely, to allow gambling in a suite the team dedicated for that purpose inside the Golden 1 Center arena.
Arizona is the rare example of a state where tribes are the key players in the legalization debate but are on opposite sides.
The Navajo Nation is pushing for a measure that would give tribes the exclusive right to operate sports betting off their reservations in exchange for sharing winnings with the state. Tribes could put betting kiosks in non-tribal bars and private clubs.
But other Arizona tribes oppose the legislation, saying it could hurt existing casinos on reservations.
Lawmakers in many states are not eager to push the issue without support from tribes, said Hilary Tompkins, a former solicitor with the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
``It's not worth the pain of engaging in a fight with the tribes in their states,'' Tompkins said. If states ``open the door to non-tribal sports betting, the tribes are going to say, `We're going to reduce our revenue to you.' And that could end up in court.''
Minnesota state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, chairman of the tax committee that passed this year's sports betting bill, acknowledged that it will be virtually impossible for the measure to succeed without backing from the tribes.
``They've got momentum and are telling folks they don't want it to go anywhere,'' he said. ``I think that's a little unfair, but we're willing to talk with them and protect their interests.''
Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix; Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona; Susan Haigh in Hartford, Connecticut; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this article.
Native American Student Wins $10K Grant to Build Lakota Game
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ A Native American student at Dakota State University has been awarded a $10,000 grant to design a computer game to teach the Lakota language.
Carl Petersen, a DSU junior, will travel to Washington, D.C., later this month to accept his grant award from the national Dreamstarter program, which aims to help Native American youth launch community projects.
Petersen told the Argus Leader that he wants to create a tool ``that would allow people to hear conversational Lakota'' and could be implemented in schools.
He's planning to develop a computer game called Tipi Builder, which will teach conversational Lakota while engaging players to build a tepee. The project aims to protect the language and ensure that future generations can speak it.
``If it dies then that part of the people is gone and then you have no more culture,'' Petersen said.
The 21-year-old studied Lakota while growing up on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in Parade. When he left the reservation for university, he spoke his ancestors' language at a grade-school level.
Petersen said Tipi Builder will be more interactive than other software models that are traditionally used for learning new languages.
He plans to release the game in 2020 and hopes to make it available on mobile platforms in the future.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com
Enbridge Seeks to Replace Section of Reservation Pipeline
PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Enbridge Energy is asking state regulators to replace a section of its oil pipeline that crosses the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation in northeastern Minnesota.
Enbridge has filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission to replace a 10-mile, above-ground section of its Line 4 pipeline with a new section that would run under ground. The Fond du Lac Band supports the replacement, saying the above-ground section disrupts the natural water flow across the reservation and is a physical barrier to resources.
Minnesota Public Radio News says Line 4 was built in the 1970s and some sections were constructed above ground because of heavily saturated soil. Over the years some of that soil has eroded.
Enbridge says the replacement would cost $100 million.
The proposed project comes as Enbridge is also seeking to replace its Line 3 pipeline across northern Minnesota, which has drawn heavy opposition from tribes and environmental groups.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org
EPA Pledges $16M Per Year for Tar Creek Superfund Cleanup
TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The Environmental Protection Agency has pledged more than $16 million annually for the continued cleanup of toxic mine waste at the heavily polluted Tar Creek Superfund Site in northeastern Oklahoma.
Superfund is a law that gives the EPA funding and authority to clean up contaminated sites. Tar Creek, in Ottawa County, covers a 40-square-mile area and is one of the nation's oldest, most complex Superfund sites.
The EPA, in collaboration with Oklahoma and the Quapaw Nation, announced Monday that their plan is open for a 30-day public evaluation, the Tulsa World reported. The plan provides an update on the cleanup's progress and establishes a framework for how the EPA, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, the Quapaw Nation and the community will work together to clean up mining waste in Ottawa County over the next five years.
``This plan renews our focus, further propels the cleanup progress, and ultimately achieves greater results for Ottawa County,'' EPA Regional Administrator Anne Idsal said in a news release.
The plan states that Tar Creek was placed on an ``Administrator's Emphasis List for Immediate, Intense Action'' in 2017 due to its status as one of the most challenging Superfund sites in the nation. New EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler reaffirmed its position on the list in 2018.
The site was listed to expedite cleanup there and to require the EPA and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to work with the Quapaw Nation to establish the tribe's ability to gain institutional controls on its properties, according to the release.
``We look forward to continuing our work with EPA and ODEQ toward bringing back much of this land to pre-mining conditions,'' said John Berry, Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma.
The plan creates guidelines for progress with near-term objectives, set by 2021, and long-term moves for 2022 and beyond. Near-term goals include administrative actions such as removing 5,000 acres of the site from the National Priorities List and issuing a new strategy for watersheds. Longer-term ideas include exploring new technologies to accelerate cleanup and re-evaluating land uses after reclamation.
The EPA is expected to release a final Tar Creek Strategic Plan this summer.
WSU Researchers Discover Oldest Tattoo Tool in North America
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) _ Scientists from Washington State University have discovered the oldest known tattooing tool in western North America.
The tool was made around 2,000 years ago by the Ancestral Pueblo people in what is now southeastern Utah.
The tool has a handle of skunkbush and a cactus-spine point.
Doctoral candidate Andrew Gillreath-Brown found the pen-sized instrument while taking an inventory of archaeological materials that had been sitting in storage for more than 40 years.
School officials say his discovery pushes back the earliest evidence of tattooing in western North America by more than 1,000 years.
They say it gives scientists a rare glimpse into the lives of a prehistoric people whose customs and culture have largely been forgotten.
Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun Report Dip in Slot Revenue
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut's two casinos have both reported another monthly drop in slot-machine revenue.
This is the seventh straight month that the slot take has dropped at both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.
The Mohegan Sun reported it's January take was $40.7 million, 9.4 percent less than it was the same month a year ago. That is its lowest monthly slot earning since January 2001, when it kept $39.7 million.
Foxwoods reports $31 million in slots revenue last month, an 8.5 percent decline from the same month a year ago and its lowest one-month total in 25 years.
The Connecticut casinos are facing increased competition, including from MGM Resorts' new casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, which opened its doors last August.
New Mexico Angling to Become Home of New Deal Art Museum
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ An effort is underway in New Mexico to build support for establishing a national museum dedicated to the New Deal, the Great Depression-era series of work programs and art initiatives aimed at pulling America from destitution more than 80 years ago.
Supporters say New Mexico would be an ideal home for such an institution as the state received one of the largest amounts of money per capita from the programs, resulting in new schools, post offices, visitor centers and art.
A few months after the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration started the Public Works of Art Project, more than 3,700 artists were hired and thousands of murals, paintings, crafts and sculptures were created for government buildings around the country.
An army of workers built up the national parks and community roads and water systems while musicians preserved folk music and photographers documented life in America.
The results include images from photographers Dorothea Lange and Russell Lee, early paintings by abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, and a look at pueblo life in New Mexico by Native American artist Pablita Velarde.
``It was an incredibly productive time in our history in terms of arts and culture. This would be a tremendous economic boost to not only Santa Fe but also New Mexico,'' said state Rep. Matthew McQueen, a Democrat and supporter of the effort.
Kathy Flynn, executive director of the National New Deal Preservation Association, said many examples of the work done during the era can be found around New Mexico.
She recounted for lawmakers the poverty and joblessness that had spread across the country by the mid-1930s, saying half of New Mexico's population at the time was considered destitute and the devastating dust storms that swept across the plains made life even harder in eastern New Mexico, where she grew up.
``This government program put everybody to work,'' said Flynn, 82. ``Most of you sitting here probably had a family member that was involved.''
The memorial pending in the state House of Representatives requests New Mexico's congressional delegates investigate the possibility of establishing a national New Deal art museum in Santa Fe.
The proposal sailed through its first committee and has the support of House Speaker Brian Egolf and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, whose grandfather John Gaw Meem was a well-known architect who designed many New Deal projects. Egolf and Wirth are Democrats.
The memorial suggests the museum could be located in a landmark building on Santa Fe's Museum Hill. The building was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s and for decades has housed National Park Service offices. It's currently undergoing a renovation.
Curating such a museum would likely be a monumental task, and supporters of the New Mexico effort acknowledge the legislative memorial is a first small step in bringing the idea to light.
The Smithsonian has what it describes as an unparalleled collection of artwork created for the Public Works of Art Project. It drew on that collection to put together an exhibition a decade ago that celebrated the 75th anniversary of the project.
There also are reams of material archived by the Library of Congress, including hundreds of the posters created by the Work Projects Administration. The National Gallery of Art also has watercolor renderings from the era and Roosevelt's Presidential Library and Museum highlight the New Deal as part of his legacy, but there's no museum specifically dedicated to the period's artwork.
At the University of California, Berkeley, efforts have been ongoing to create a virtual museum of sorts to catalogue all the New Deal projects and artwork that can be found around the country.
Flynn pointed to murals at Eastern New Mexico University and New Mexico Highlands University, saying preservation efforts of sites around the country could be boosted if a national museum were to be created.
``There are just so many stories,'' she said. ``It affected everybody's family for the most part during that time and there are connections we can still make today.''
Oklahoma Tourism Agency Acquires 77 Acres in Grand Lake Area
GROVE, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma's tourism agency says it's acquiring 77 acres of land next to the Honey Creek area of Grand Lake State Park to expand the popular northeastern Oklahoma recreation area.
The Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department says Honey Creek stretches across 38 acres along the shores of Grand Lake O' The Cherokees, widely considered one of the nation's best bass fishing lakes. It's one of eight areas in Grand Lake State Park and is a popular spot for boating with more than 100 RV and tent campsites.
Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, Oklahoma's secretary for Tourism and Branding, says the additional acreage will make the park an even better experience for Oklahoma travelers and help draw in tourists from out of state.
Tourism officials say the property cost $842,989.
Measure Funding Native Language Programs Supported in Alaska
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) _ Native studies officials at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are praising efforts to reauthorize federal legislation funding immersion programs for Native American languages.
Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and others this week have introduced a measure reauthorizing the funding for Native language learning initiatives, including immersion programs, language teacher training, and additional teaching materials and curriculum, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .
It would also maintain two national programs and expand programs to smaller tribes, as well as lengthen grant periods.
The reauthorization measure is a positive step for Alaska Native languages, said Sandra Kowalski, the university's director of Indigenous Programs for Rural, Community and Native Education.
``There are 20 distinct and formally recognized Alaska Native languages that are in various states of decline,'' Kowalski said. ``Decades of colonialism and recent globalization have created chasms between older first language speakers and younger generations.''
But language education is on the rise, giving hope for a more culturally connected future, Kowalski said.
``Alaskan Native individuals whose first language is English have, through immersion programs, master-apprentice partnerships and some working individually, become proficient in their own Alaska Native language,'' Kowalski said. ``These second language speakers' stories have inspired interest and demand for opportunities for other Alaska Natives to learn to speak their own language at home and throughout the community.''
Culture is intertwined with language, making the revitalization of Native languages important, Murkowski said.
``We understand our past, ourselves and our relationships with our family and community through our language,'' Murkowski said in a statement. ``For Native peoples, language is truly the foundation of their cultures and their identity.''
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com
Claims Against Tribe Stemming from Horse Roundup Dismissed
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ A federal judge has dismissed claims against a Nevada Indian tribal government over a disputed horse roundup in Washoe County.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reports U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du says even if claims the roundup swept up horses that shouldn't have been included are true, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe's status as a sovereign government shields it from legal claims.
Du says a Jan. 17 order to refrain from sending horses to slaughter while the search for Lady, a privately owned horse thought to have been wrongly herded away, continues.
Lady's owner says that in the immediate aftermath of the roundup she begged officials to allow her to search temporary holding pens for her horse, to no avail.
The case stems from an effort by nonprofit American Wild Horse Campaign to recover at least 271 horses in Palomino Valley.
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com
DOI and DOJ Team Up for Major Expansion of Tribal Access to National Crime Information Databases
The Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior announced a dramatic expansion of the federal government’s key program that provides tribes with access to national crime information databases, the Justice Department’s Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP).
By the end of 2019, the Justice Department will expand the number of TAP participating tribes by more than 50 percent—from 47 tribes to 72. The Department of the Interior (DOI) will fund the instillation of TAP Kiosks at three locations where the BIA-Office of Indian Services (BIA-OIS) deliver direct service social services by the end of 2019 and DOI aims to expand TAP access at all 28 BIA-Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) operated law enforcement agencies and detention service centers. These BIA locations will provide some degree of access to TAP for services delivered to more than 50 tribal communities that currently do not have any direct access.
“For far too long, a lack of access to federal criminal databases has hurt tribal law enforcement—preventing them from doing their jobs and keeping their communities safe,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “With the Tribal Access Program, participating tribes will be able to protect victims of domestic violence, register sex offenders, keep guns out of dangerous hands, and help locate missing people. This milestone demonstrates our deep commitment to strengthening public safety in Indian country.”
“I am proud to authorize the funding for the expansion of the Tribal Access Program to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make the future of justice in Indian Country stronger,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney at the 75thNational Congress of American Indians Convention today. “The Bureau of Indian Affairs is proud to grant greater access to these important databases at more locations throughout Indian Country. Performing background checks is a critical step in protecting our precious Native children in foster care, and tribal communities served by the BIA will benefit from access to this extensive public safety tool.”
“Access to information is vital to effective law enforcement,” said Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma and the Chairman of the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee on Native American Issues. “The Tribal Access Program will enhance and improve the ability of tribal law enforcement officers to serve their communities. The Native American Issues Subcommittee is proud to support the continued expansion of this tool throughout Indian Country.
The Native American Issues Subcommittee (NAIS) is comprised of United States Attorneys with Indian Country in their federal districts. They advise the Attorney General regarding the development and implementation of policies pertaining to justice in Indian Country. The NAIS identified ‘increased law enforcement resources’ as one of four priority areas to improve justice services in Indian Country. Support for and increased dissemination of the TAP was unanimously supported by the US Attorneys at a recent NAIS meeting in Indian Country in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“We at the BIA-OJS look forward to having direct access to these vital resources,” said Deputy BIA Director for Office of Justice Services Charles Addington. “We have waited years for the opportunity to streamline how we access these critical databases and the funding authorized by AS-IA Sweeney will allow our law enforcement officers the ability to receive the information they need to do their jobs effectively and keep them safe.”
TAP, offered in two versions, TAP-FULL and TAP-LIGHT, allows tribes to more effectively serve and protect their communities by fostering the exchange of critical data through several national databases through the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) network, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), Next Generation Identification (NGI), National Data Exchange (N-DEx), National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) as well as other national systems such as the International Justice and Public Safety Network (Nlets). TAP enhances tribal efforts to register sex offenders pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA); have orders of protection enforced nationwide; protect children; keep firearms away from persons who are disqualified from receiving them; improve the safety of public housing, and allow tribes to enter their arrests and convictions into national databases.
TAP-FULL consists of a kiosk workstation that provide access to national systems and is capable of processing finger and palm prints, as well as taking mugshots and submitting records to national databases. TAP-LIGHT is software for criminal agencies that include police departments, prosecutors, criminal courts, jails, and probation departments. Both versions provide federally recognized tribes the ability to access and exchange data with national crime information databases for both civil and criminal purpose. TAP is currently available to 47 tribes nationwide with over 220 tribal criminal justice and civil agencies participating.
For more information on TAP, including a list and map of present TAP-FULL and TAP-LIGHT tribes, visit www.justice.gov/tribal/tribal-access-program-tap
For more information about the Justice Department’s work on tribal justice and public safety issues, visit: www.justice.gov/tribal
Kansas Celebrates 30 Years of Documented Bald Eagle Nesting
By DYLAN LYSEN
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ About three decades ago, a remarkable ecological comeback started in Lawrence, local eagle biologist Mike Watkins said.
For decades, Kansas had not documented a nesting location for bald eagles within its borders. But in 1989, a fisherman reported seeing America's national bird in the Lawrence area at Clinton Lake.
``I was skeptical,'' said Watkins, who served as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wildlife biologist at the time. ``Sure enough, a pair of bald eagles built a nest in some timber that had been flooded (in the lake).''
That pair of bald eagles seen in Lawrence was the first the state had recorded since the turn of the 20th century, and the state's population of the majestic bird has only grown since, said Watkins, who now tracks eagles for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
2019 will mark the 30th anniversary of bald eagles making a Kansas comeback, growing from the single bald eagle nesting pair in 1989 to 137 active nesting pairs today, Watkins said. Four of those nests are near Clinton Lake.
``They are likely year-round because they are seen on and off all summer,'' Watkins said of the Clinton Lake eagles.
The bald eagle was able to make a comeback in Kansas because of conservation efforts throughout the country, Watkins told the Lawrence Journal-World .
In the 1960s, the bald eagle was close to extinction because of habitat destruction, hunting, and the use of DDT, a pesticide that poisoned their food sources. The bird was named an endangered species in 1967 and the pesticide was also outlawed, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Shortly after, the populations in the U.S. began to grow again and the bald eagle was officially removed from the Endangered Species Act in June 2007.
Additionally, the choice to leave the timber in flooded Kansas reservoirs also helped the birds, as nests were built in them, Watkins said.
Although the bird is no longer listed as an endangered species, it is still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, a federal law that prohibits the hunting, transportation, possession, sale or purchase of the bird, whether it is dead or alive. The Migratory Bird Treaty and the Lacey Act also provide similar protections for the eagles.
Watkins said the conservation effort was a clear success.
``It's an extremely inspiring story to think that the bird was on the endangered species list and they have rebounded well because of the positive things man has done,'' Watkins said. ``It's a pretty significant achievement to get a population to rebound.''
While eight eagles make Lawrence home year-round, many more may be passing through the area this winter, heading south for the season. Watkins said 2,500 to 3,000 eagles can be seen in Kansas during the winter.
January is considered the best time to view eagles in Kansas, with many state parks hosting events to learn more and to assist in spotting them in the wild.
In Lawrence, The Jayhawk Audubon Society will host the 23rd annual Kaw Valley Eagles Day on Jan. 19.
Watkins will give presentations on the history of bald eagles in Kansas during the event. Other presentations will include the showing of live bald and golden eagles and other animals.
Those who attend the event will also have the chance to see the eagles' habitats on Clinton Lake during field trips in the morning and the afternoon.
The event is free and open to the public.
Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com
Indian Casinos Across US Wary of Betting on Sports Books
By REGINA GARCIA CANO
LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Two dozen large-screen TVs showing football and other sports line the walls. There's beer on tap, bar top seating and leather chairs. Chicken wings are on the menu. And at this American Indian casino in the heart of college-football mad Mississippi, you can legally bet on the games.
The sports book owned by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is the first to open on tribal lands outside of Nevada following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, a no-brainer business decision given the sports fans among its gambling clientele.
``We are basically two hours from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and then, we are just an hour from Mississippi State. We have Ole Miss just to the north of that, and we have Southern Miss _ they're not SEC, but they are a player. We are not that far from Louisiana,'' said Neal Atkinson, the tribe's director of gaming.
The book at Pearl River Resort is packed every college football Saturday, but remains an outlier months after the high court opened the door for expanded sports gambling across the United States by striking down a federal ban.
Tribes enthusiastically welcomed the decision in May but since then, the regulatory challenges and low-margin nature of the business have sunk in. Few Indian casinos have an enviable location like the Choctaw and many need state approval to add sports betting to their offerings.
Indian casinos started small three decades ago, but they have grown to be an annual $32.4 billion segment of the U.S. gambling industry. The roughly 475 casinos operated by nearly 240 tribes create jobs for tribal members and profits that help pay a variety of services, including health care and housing.
Some casinos only have games like bingo or pull tabs that don't need state approval. But the majority of them also have state-authorized slot machines, blackjack and other table games, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.
Many tribes share a portion of casino profits with state governments in exchange for exclusive rights to conduct gambling operations within their states.
To offer sports betting, the majority of tribes would have to renegotiate compacts that vary widely in cycles and the issues covered, though some tribes believe their existing agreements already give them the right to offer the new wagers.
``There's a broad spectrum in Indian Country covering two extremes: Tribal nations that would not benefit at all, and on the other end, tribal nations that would significantly benefit,'' commission chairman Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri said. ``Those are largely business decisions that each tribe will have to make given its own economic landscape and its unique market realities.''
Some federal lawmakers have also proposed regulating sports gambling more widely, adding yet another layer to a complex debate already involving commercial casinos and lotteries, plus sports leagues themselves.
So far, only the Santa Ana Pueblo near Albuquerque, New Mexico, has followed the Choctaw's effort into sports gambling. Neither tribe was required to obtain additional state approvals.
Contrary to popular belief, sports betting is a low-profit business that requires highly skilled employees. In Nevada, sportsbooks last year contributed only 2.4 percent of the gambling revenue of casinos statewide _ dwarfed by the proceeds from table games and slots. The limited payoff has tribal casinos balancing the allure of a Las Vegas-style amenity with the risks of opening compacts for negotiations.
``Tribal leadership is extremely protective of what they have because it's meant so much to us, and there's always a risk of upsetting the apple cart,'' Washington State Gambling Commission member Chris Stearns said. ``Is this going to help us? Is this going to hurt us? That's really at the heart of why you see Indian tribes gently venturing into sports betting. ... In a lot of states, tribes write a check out to the state in exchange for exclusivity. So, any time there's a new gambling product, and you ask the state to authorize it, there is a risk the state will say `Sure, but it is going to cost you.'''
The only sports book in New Mexico, inside the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel, began taking wagers in October. It offers bets on professional and college sports, but not for games involving two public in-state universities.
In Washington state, all casinos are tribally operated. Changing the state's laws to allow betting on sports would require a 60 percent supermajority vote in the legislature or a ballot initiative. Only then could sports betting be added to a tribal-state compact.
In California, where tribes have exclusivity on casino-style gambling, voters would have to approve a change to the state constitution.
Casinos are operated on and off reservations in South Dakota. Before the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe can try to to edge out its nearest competition across the state line in Iowa, South Dakota's constitution will have to be amended through a public vote.
The legislature could choose to put the question before voters or supporters could gather enough signatures to add the measure to the 2020 ballot. If the measure passes, it would open the opportunity for tribes to negotiate their compacts with the state.
Tribal councilman Kenny Weston said a sports book could attract new patrons who may also choose to play games already offered and spend nights at the hotel for big sporting events, like MMA fights.
``Normally, with the brick-and-mortar casino like we have, we attract a lot of older crowds and retired people,'' Weston said. ``I think with sports betting we can bring a different age demographic and different people ... and have the opportunity to do the same that they do in Vegas.''
Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Tribe Seeks to Build Virginia's First Casino in Norfolk
By BEN FINLEY
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) _ The Indian tribe that greeted English settlers at Jamestown and claims Pocahontas among its lineage said Wednesday that it hopes to open Virginia's first casino in the city of Norfolk.
Pamunkey Indian Tribe spokesman Jay Smith said the tribe is eyeing about 20 acres (eight hectares) along the Elizabeth River between a minor league baseball stadium and an Amtrak station near Norfolk's downtown. Negotiations are already underway with officials in Virginia's second-largest city.
The Pamunkey announced plans earlier this year to build a $700 million resort and casino in its ancestral region. The tribe says that area includes central Virginia near Richmond and stretches down to the Hampton Roads region, where Norfolk is located.
Robert Gray, the tribe's chief, said in a statement that ``just as this area played an important role in the tribe's past, I believe that Norfolk will play an even more important role in the Pamunkey Tribe's future.''
The Pamunkey were among the group of tribes led by Chief Powhatan in what is now Virginia. Many had lost their lands in the 1700s.
The Pamunkey were among the few tribes that held onto their reservations. It still has about 1,200 acres (485 hectares) outside Richmond.
In 2015, the Pamunkey became the first tribe in Virginia to receive federal recognition from the Department of Interior. Smith said the status allows the tribe to operate casinos without approval from the state of Virginia, which currently has none.
Nearly 240 tribes operate casinos in more than half of U.S. states under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.
Smith said the games in the proposed Norfolk casino and resort would offer slots as well as the usual variety of table games, including poker and black jack.
The proposed casino and resort project still must be approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Smith said. Among the factors the bureau will consider is whether the tribe is indeed proposing its casino on ancestral lands.
He said the resort and casino would create thousands of jobs and have an economic impact of more than $1 billion a year.
Norfolk sits near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and borders the coastal city of Virginia Beach, the state's largest city.
It's also not far from Jamestown, the first permanent English colony, which was founded along the James River.
Mayor Kenny Alexander said the tribe's interest in Norfolk validates the city ``as an emerging destination for tourism in the mid-Atlantic.''
The Pamunkey may open the state's first casino, but others may not be far behind.
Casinos are currently illegal under state law. But Virginia lawmakers have shown a greater willingness to discuss expanding gambling in recent years.
A businessman who wants to build a casino in southwest Virginia said he's confident about getting approval from the General Assembly, the Bristol Herald Courier reported earlier this month.
Some state lawmakers have also said they're drafting legislation to allow sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can legalize and regulate sports wagering.
New Monument Pays Respect to Tlingit Burial Ground
By ALEX McCARTHY
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Clarence Laiti stood in the cafeteria of Sayéik Gastineau Community School — which was built on a Tlingit burial ground — and reflected on times he’s visited the graves of departed relatives in cemeteries.
“You always end up talking to them,” Laiti said. “At least I do.”
On a recent afternoon, the ongoing conversation between the dead and the living was on full display at the school.
In 1956, the city paved over a Tlingit burial ground to build a highway and the school. In 1962, the city of Douglas burned down the Douglas Indian Village to make way for Douglas harbor.
When the school was being renovated in 2012, contractors inadvertently unearthed five graves. Since then, the City and Borough of Juneau has worked with the DIA to acknowledge the past and to try to heal the deep wounds that were caused by previous events.
In the past two years, a Raven totem pole was raised in front of the school and the Tlingit name for the area, Sayéik, was added to the school’s name.
The Sayéik Sacred Site Memorial, which was designed by Tlingit/Unangax multi-disciplinary artist Nicholas Galanin, includes a few main aspects. The focus of it is a ceremonial bronze fire dish, which is symbolic for the Tlingit practice of placing food into a fire to feed and comfort the spirits of the departed.
Just below the fire dish is a light, representing an eternal flame. Below that is a bronze plaque in the shape of a Tináa that explains the significance of the site and memorial. The memorial is built on a granite boulder. There’s a stone path leading from the memorial to the school’s entrance.
In front of the entrance is a large semi-circle of bronze that carries words from the late Tlingit elder Elizabeth Nyman: “You are truly precious, (you and) all the Children of the Yanyèidi, (and those whose names come) from the Taku River. Therefore I want you to see your background, your history, what happened in the past. As long as (I live) — I will not live forever, but those of you who come after will read it. If only you were taken by boat along the Taku River you could write down the whole story in a book.”
Galanin’s work has gained attention from people around the country, and he’s been heavily involved in the healing process on Douglas Island. He was the lead carver on a Wolf totem pole that went up at Savikko Park earlier this year.
Galanin wasn’t able to attend the unveiling ceremony, but many people made sure to praise his work on the memorial. University of Alaska Southeast Assistant Dean Ronalda Cadiente-Brown said it was clear from early on that Galanin was the correct choice for the project.
“He delivered in a variety of ways,” Cadiente-Brown said. “I had such a sense that the work was in the right hands and appreciated that he is now tied to this community both with the poles he was involved with and with this piece.”
The memorial was a collaborative effort between the DIA, CBJ, Juneau School District and North Wind Architects. Representatives from all of those organizations were present at the unveiling, but it was a fairly small ceremony with about 40 people in attendance.
DIA Tribal Administrator Andrea Cadiente-Laiti did much of the moderating during the ceremony, but DIA Secretary Barbara Cadiente-Nelson and Tlingit elders David Katzeek and Paul Marks also spoke at length. Katzeek and Marks, who often team up to speak at important Tlingit events and ceremonies, spoke just before the memorial was unveiled.
They talked about their personal experiences with the school and the area and about how important it is for the children attending the school to understand the significance of the land they’re on. Katzeek spoke at length about the example that the totem pole and memorial are setting, but more importantly he spoke about the example that the people working together to put them up are setting.
“We’re holding each other up, encouraging each other,” Katzeek said. “Our children need to see that. This nation needs to see.”
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com
Utah School District Eyes Revamped Native American Lessons
PROVO, Utah (AP) _ A Utah school district is working to revamp its lessons around Native Americans to tackle stereotypes.
The Daily Herald of Provo, Utah, reports the Provo City School District has been setting up meetings with schools about curriculum development and questioning sources teachers have been using.
Meredith Lam, the Native American specialist and Title VI coordinator for the Provo City School District, says around 90 percent of the lessons plans about Native Americans teachers have shown her this year have needed to be reworked. She says it's part of the process to give students a complete picture.
Lam says she'd like to see an American Indian history class offered as an elective to the older grades to give students the opportunity to learn the other half of U.S. history.
Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com
White Supremacy Signs Placed on Montana College Campuses
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Signs bearing the name of a white supremacist group have been left on two college campuses and elsewhere in Montana's largest city.
The Billings Gazette reported Monday some signs had a drawing of Uncle Sam with the words ``Thank you, veterans!'' and the group's name, Identity Evropa, in smaller type. The group's triangular logo appears on Uncle Sam's lapel.
The signs appeared at Montana State University Billings and Rocky Mountain College, as well as at some city intersections.
One was placed beside a display honoring veterans set up by the Native American Achievement Center at Montana State Billings. Reno Charette, director of the center, said she hadn't heard of the group but alerted campus police when she learned what it advocated.
It wasn't clear who placed the signs. Both colleges condemned them.
Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com
Facebook Adds Alaska's Inupiaq as Language Option
By RACHEL D'ORO
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Britt'Nee Brower grew up in a largely Inupiat Eskimo town in Alaska's far north, but English was the only language spoken at home.
Today, she knows a smattering of Inupiaq from childhood language classes at school in the community of Utqiagvik. Brower even published an Inupiaq coloring book last year featuring the names of common animals of the region. But she hopes to someday speak fluently by practicing her ancestral language in a daily, modern setting.
The 29-year-old Anchorage woman has started to do just that with a new Inupiaq language option that recently went live on Facebook for those who employ the social media giant's community translation tool. Launched a decade ago, the tool has allowed users to translate bookmarks, action buttons and other functions in more than 100 languages around the globe.
For now, Facebook is being translated into Inupiaq only on its website, not its app.
``I was excited,'' Brower says of her first time trying the feature, still a work in progress as Inupiaq words are slowly added. ``I was thinking, `I'm going to have to bring out my Inupiaq dictionary so I can learn.' So I did.''
Facebook users can submit requests to translate the site's vast interface workings _ the buttons that allow users to like, comment and navigate the site _ into any language through crowdsourcing. With the interface tool, it's the Facebook users who do the translating of words and short phrases. Words are confirmed through crowd up-and-down voting.
Besides the Inupiaq option, Cherokee and Canada's Inuktut are other indigenous languages in the process of being translated, according to Facebook spokeswoman Arielle Argyres.
``It's important to have these indigenous languages on the internet. Oftentimes they're nowhere to be found,'' she said. ``So much is carried through language _ tradition, culture _ and so in the digital world, being able to translate from that environment is really important.''
The Inupiaq language is spoken in northern Alaska and the Seward Peninsula. According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, about 13,500 Inupiat live in the state, with about 3,000 speaking the language.
Myles Creed, who grew up in the Inupiat community of Kotzebue, was the driving force in getting Inupiaq added. After researching ways to possibly link an external translation app with Facebook, he reached out to Grant Magdanz, a hometown friend who works as a software engineer in San Francisco. Neither one of them knew about the translation tool when Magdanz contacted Facebook in late 2016 about setting up an Inupiatun option.
Facebook opened a translation portal for the language in March 2017. It was then up to users to provide the translations through crowdsourcing.
Creed, 29, a linguistics graduate student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, is not Inupiat, and neither is Magdanz, 24. But they grew up around the language and its people, and wanted to promote its use for today's world.
``I've been given so much by the community I grew up in, and I want to be able to give back in some way,'' said Creed, who is learning Inupiaq.
Both see the Facebook option as a small step against predictions that Alaska's Native languages are heading toward extinction under their present rate of decline.
``It has to be part of everyone's daily life. It can't be this separate thing,'' Magdanz said. ``People need the ability to speak it in any medium that they use, like they would English or Spanish.''
Initially, Creed relied on volunteer translators, but that didn't go fast enough. In January, he won a $2,000 mini grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum to hire two fluent Inupiat translators. While a language is in the process of being translated, only those who use the translation tool are able to see it.
Creed changed his translation settings last year. But it was only weeks ago that his home button finally said ``Aimaagvik,'' Inupiaq for home.
``I was really ecstatic,'' he said.
So far, only a fraction of the vast interface is in Inupiaq. Part of the holdup is the complexity of finding exact translations, according to the Inupiaq translators who were hired with the grant money.
Take the comment button, which is still in English. There's no one-word-fits-all in Inupiaq for ``comment,'' according to translator Pausauraq Jana Harcharek, who heads Inupiaq education for Alaska's North Slope Borough. Is the word being presented in the form of a question, or a statement or an exclamatory sentence?
``Sometimes it's so difficult to go from concepts that don't exist in the language to arriving at a translation that communicates what that particular English word might mean,'' Harcharek said.
Translator Muriel Hopson said finding the right translation ultimately could require two or three Inupiaq words.
The 58-year-old Anchorage woman grew up in the village of Wainwright, where she was raised by her grandparents. Inupiaq was spoken in the home, but it was strictly prohibited at the village school run by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, Hopson said.
She wonders if she's among the last generation of Inupiaq speakers. But she welcomes the new Facebook option as a promising way for young people to see the value Inupiaq brings as a living language.
``Who doesn't have a Facebook account when you're a millennial?'' she said. ``It can only help.''
Follow Rachel D'Oro at https://twitter.com/rdoro
Tribes Write Letters Opposing Keystone Oil Pipeline
EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. (AP) _ American Indian tribes have written letters to South Dakota's Public Utilities Commission, expressing their opposition to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe and a grassroots group called Dakota Rural Action wrote letters seeking more information about developer TransCanada's compliance with permit conditions.
The tribes say ground-disturbing activity near the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and the Rosebud Sioux Reservation prompted the letter. It says that if TransCanada's actions are found to be unlawful, the commission should order that construction be stopped.
The tribe says the pipeline would run through Great Sioux Nation homelands.
A TransCanada spokeswoman has said previously that its site near the reservation is a pipe yard, one of four being prepared in South Dakota before planned construction next year.
Haskell Foundation Welcomes New Executive Director
Lawrence, Kan. - The Haskell Foundation is pleased to announce that Aaron Hove has joined the organization as Executive Director.
Hove provides key leadership skills and will oversee support services for the foundation's efforts to financially promote Haskell Indian Nations University, an institution of higher learning for members of federally recognized Native American tribes in the U.S.
Aaron earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Kansas, and also earned a Juris Doctorate from University of Kansas School of Law. For 25 years he acted as an attorney for Payless Shoesource; lastly as the Vice President of International Legal, with significant involvement in International operations. During his career at Payless, Aaron developed the business organization skills and integrity that the Executive Director position requires.
As an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Haskell Foundation provides means for other organizations, tribal communities, foundations, agencies and individuals to contribute monetary support to Haskell Indian Nations University.
Oklahoma City Mayor Proclaims Oct. 8 Indigenous People's Day
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt has proclaimed Oct. 8 as Indigenous People's Day, adding the city to dozens around the nation that acknowledge Native Americans on the day known nationally as Columbus Day.
At least three Oklahoma cities, Tulsa, Norman and Tahlequah already recognize the day, but efforts to do the same in Oklahoma City have failed.
Holt, who is a member of the Osage Nation, wrote that arguments over whether to declare an Indigenous People's Day in the city was unfortunate due to the city's indigenous population and that other cities have already done so.
The Oklahoma City Council repeatedly turned down requests for the day in recent years. City spokeswoman Kristy Yager says Holt's proclamation eliminates the need for the issue to go before the council again.
New Culture Center to Honor Shoshone Killed in 1863 Massacre
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ The chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation is on a mission to make sure hundreds of tribal members who were killed by U.S. troops in the 1863 Bear River Massacre are never forgotten with a new cultural center in southeastern Idaho.
Darren Parry said he developed a deep respect for the site from frequent visits with his grandmother.
``She would say that if you're here at just the right time in the evening sometimes you can hear the cries of the little ones for their mothers,'' he said. ``She instilled in me a love for my people.''
Parry and other tribal council members are working with GSBS Architects in Utah to develop the Boa Ogoi (Big River) Cultural Interpretive Center, the Deseret News reported earlier this month.
He hopes the center will teach others about Shoshone history, so they can appreciate it the way he does.
The tribe purchased about 1 square mile (3 square kilometers) of the massacre site for $1.75 million last January, two days before Perry and the Shoshone Nation commemorated the 155th anniversary of the Bear River Massacre. Between 250 and 500 Shoshone men, women and children were killed by Col. Patrick Connor and his federal troops on Jan. 29, 1863.
The site is designed to be minimalistic by being built into the earth.
Michael Gross, a tribal councilman and Parry's cousin, said incorporating the landscape into the design was key. He thinks it will help to foster education and understand his people's story.
``Everything they did was based off the land. That's how they survived. The land was of great importance for a lot of reasons,'' Gross said. ``The design encapsulates everything we're about.''
The Shoshone Nation is also working with the Utah State University College of Natural Resources to clean up the site and return it to the state it was in in 1863, with more willows and vegetation.
Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com
US House Backs Bill Giving Montana Tribe Federal Recognition
By MATTHEW BROWN
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ The U.S. House passed a bill Wednesday that would give federal recognition to Montana's Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians following a decades-long effort.
Federal recognition would validate the Little Shell's identity and make its roughly 6,000 members eligible for government benefits ranging from education to health care. The tribe was recognized by the state of Montana in 2000.
Little Shell Chairman Gerald Gray said he was optimistic a companion measure would now advance through the Senate and be signed into law.
``I feel very optimistic. It's the first time we've ever had a House bill come out of the chamber,'' Gray said.
The bill was approved by a voice vote. A companion bill was endorsed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in May 2017 but has yet to receive a vote from the full Senate.
Montana U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, the first-term Republican lawmaker who sponsored the bill, said it became clear to him after his election that the Little Shell had suffered an injustice in being denied recognition.
``This is a big milestone,'' Gianforte said. ``This recognition is really due them through a treaty arrangement that dates back a long period of time.''
Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester issued a statement calling on the chamber's Republican majority to take up the measure with ``no strings attached.''
Both the House and Senate versions would require the U.S. Department of the Interior to acquire 200 acres (80 hectares) for the Little Shell's members that could be used for a tribal government center, housing or other purposes.
The Little Shell evolved from a group of French and Indian hunters and trappers affiliated with the historical Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians.
The tribe has been without a recognized homeland since the late 1800s, when Chief Little Shell and his followers in North Dakota broke off treaty negotiations with the U.S. government. Tribe members later settled in Montana and southern Canada.
Tribal leaders first petitioned for recognition through the Interior Department in 1978. Gray and other members trace their other attempts back to the 1860s, when the Pembina Band of Chippewa signed a treaty with the U.S. government.
The Interior Department gave preliminary approval to recognizing the Little Shell in 2000 but rescinded the move in 2009. The agency denied recognition for the Little Shell again in 2013.
There are more than 500 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.
Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at www.twitter.com/matthewbrownap
Sculpture Planned for Native American Cemetery to be Moved
MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) _ A new sculpture planned for the entrance of a Native American burial site in western Michigan is being relocated after a tribe raised concerns it would disturb sacred ground.
Construction was already underway to place the 16-foot (4.9-meter) granite sculpture titled ``All My Relations'' in the Old Indian Cemetery in Muskegon. The sculpture was crafted by Anishinaabe artist Jason Quigno.
Members of the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians recently expressed disapproval of the decision and advocated for a different location.
Cemetery caretaker Joseph Genia says the cemetery is a sacred place to the Ottawa people. He says placing a statue in the cemetery would ruin its integrity.
City Manager Frank Peterson says groups reached a consensus to find a new location for the sculpture. The new site is expected to be announced soon.
River Raisin National Battlefield Redevelopment Begins
MONROE, Mich. (AP) _ The River Raisin National Battlefield Park in southeastern Michigan is undergoing an estimated $100 million redevelopment to turn the historical site into a tourist destination.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and private partners will fund the redevelopment project in Monroe at the location of the Battle of Frenchtown, an important battle in the War of 1812, The Detroit Free Press reported .
The project launched Monday will begin with the purchase of 20 houses that will be demolished to make room for a recreation of historic Frenchtown and a $20 million education center.
Officials estimate the changes will attract more than 1 million visitors annually, including 100,000 school children. The area had 239,000 visitors last year, said Park Superintendent Scott Bentley. Monroe has a population of about 20,000 and lies 35 miles south of Detroit.
``Fourteen million people live within three hours' drive of the park,'' said Mark Cochran, Monroe development coordinator. ``We've been working on gearing our economy more toward tourism. We've got Lake Erie, the River Raisin, the battlefield and a heritage trail.''
Bentley said the Battle of Frenchtown was an important moment in U.S. history that went on to shape U.S. policy toward Native Americans and led to westward expansion.
``It was the greatest defeat for the U.S. in the entire War of 1812,'' he said.
Native American tribes fought alongside British and Canadian soldiers to capture Fort Detroit before taking over Frenchtown. The Canadian and Native American troops later withdrew from the town. The Native American tribes brought about 500 U.S. prisoners with them during the retreat and killed between 20 to 100 soldiers who couldn't walk.
Bentley said that event led to the forced removal of native populations.
Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com
Advocates: Ruling Holds Promise for Native American Students
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ It's being billed as a landmark ruling that could reshape New Mexico's education system and how it gets funded.
And some advocates say Native American students are among those who could benefit the most as the state has been tasked by a district judge to follow through with promises made years ago under New Mexico's Indian Education Act.
Adopted in 2003, the act calls for an equitable and culturally relevant learning environment in schools that serve Native American students.
Regis Pecos with the Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School says the recent court ruling provides a monumental opportunity for tribes to define their vision of education in New Mexico and elsewhere.
State officials plan to appeal, arguing that spending on education has increased. They also say Native American students are now seeing record academic gains.
Solicitor General: Supreme Court Should Hear Crow Case
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ A top official within the U.S. Department of Justice says the U.S. Supreme Court should review a case in which a Crow tribal member and game warden from Montana is asserting his treaty right to hunt elk in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming.
Clayvin Herrera was found guilty of killing an elk in the forest in January 2014. He was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $8,080.
The Wyoming Supreme Court declined to hear his case, saying the issue was decided by a federal appeals court in 1995. That ruling was based on an 1896 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said tribal treaty rights ``are irreconcilable with state sovereignty.'' The 1896 Supreme Court ruling has since been overturned.
The Billings Gazette reports U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco said Idaho and Montana recognize tribal hunting rights and the Supreme Court should resolve the disagreements.
Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com
Postage stamp to honor Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) _ Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Michigan will be honored with a postage stamp being released this year.
The illustration features a sweeping view of a sandy beach, lapping Lake Michigan waves and towering dunes for which the park is famous.
The U.S. Postal Service says the Priority Mail Express stamp will cost $24.70.
ABC's ``Good Morning America'' named Sleeping Bear Dunes the nation's most beautiful spot in 2011. More than 1.1 million people visit annually to wander the park's 35 miles of shoreline, climb the dunes, hike forest trails and tour historic structures including former lifesaving stations.
The park also includes the North and South Manitou Islands, both popular with campers.
Its name was inspired by a Native American legend of a mother bear and her two cubs.
Ancient DNA gives glimpse of ancestors of Native Americans
By MALCOLM RITTER
AP Science Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ DNA from an infant who died in Alaska some 11,500 years ago is giving scientists the best look yet at the genetics of the ancestors of today's native peoples of the Americas.
Decoding the infant's complete set of DNA let researchers estimate the timing of key events in the ancestral history of today's Native Americans and indigenous peoples of Canada and Central and South America.
Expert said that while the new work doesn't radically change the outlines of what scientists have thought, it provides more detail and better evidence than what was available before.
The infant girl was buried about 50 miles southeast of Fairbanks, and her remains are the earliest known in the far north of North America, said anthropologist Ben Potter of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He reports the analysis along with others in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature.
The first Americans were descended from Asians, and they reached the New World by way of Beringia, a now-submerged land bridge that used to connect Asia to Alaska. Recent research suggests they followed the shorelines of Beringia and the Pacific Coast as they spread into the Americas by at least 15,000 years ago.
The new paper supports a theory that the migrants from Asia spent thousands of years in isolation, either in Beringea or Asia, before entering the Americas. During that time they developed unique genetic signatures that are now found in natives of the Americas.
The DNA analyzed by Potter and his colleagues came from a skull bone. The infant's remains, along with remains of a fetus, had been uncovered in 2013 in a circular pit that showed signs of ritual burial. The fetus was related to the infant, perhaps a cousin, but contained too little DNA for a full analysis of it.
By comparing the genetic details of the infant to those of genomes from other populations, the researchers were able to estimate the times of key events in the ancestral story of today's indigenous Americans. For example, they calculated that the ancestors completed their split from Asians by about 25,000 years ago.
Ancestors of the Alaskan girl split away from this group about 20,000 years ago. So her DNA allows a direct glimpse of the ancient population that led to today's native peoples, said Jennifer Raff of the University of Kansas, who didn't participate in the study
Much of the research in this area has been based on DNA that tells only about a person's maternal ancestors, she said. A complete genome is more informative and allows scientists to have more confidence in their time estimates, she said.
Follow Malcolm Ritter at (at)MalcolmRitter His recent work can be found at http://tinyurl.com/RitterAP