By SCOTT SONNER
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ A federal judge has denied environmentalists' request for a court order temporarily blocking the government from digging trenches for archaeological surveys at a mine planned near the Nevada-Oregon line with the biggest known U.S. deposit of lithium.
U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said in an 11-page ruling late Friday in Reno that four conservation groups failed to prove the trenches planned across a total of one-quarter acre (.10 hectare) would cause irreparable harm to sage brush that serves as critical habitat for imperiled sage grouse.
She said she plans to rule later this week on a request from a Nevada tribe to join the legal battle as a co-plaintiff and seek a similar restraining order based on claims the digging would disturb sacred burial grounds.
Du emphasized she has placed the overall case on an expedited schedule and intends to issue a ruling on the merits by early next year. She noted any construction of the mine itself is unlikely to begin before the snow melts in the spring of 2022.
``Given the limited, speculative evidence of imminent harm plaintiffs presented, they have failed to meet their burden to show they will be irreparably harmed in the absence of a preliminary injunction as the parties await the court's merits decision,'' she wrote.
Lithium Nevada Corp.'s proposed Thacker Pass mine is emerging as a key battleground in the debate over environmental trade-offs tied to President Joe Biden's push for renewable energy.
Lithium is a key component in electric vehicle batteries.
Opponents say the U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated several environmental laws in a December rush to approve the mine in the final days of the Trump administration.
The mine is planned on 28 square miles (72 square kilometers) of federal land above an extinct volcano formed millions of years ago about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of the Nevada-Oregon line.
Global demand for lithium is forecast to triple by 2025, Lithium Nevada said in recent court filings. The proposed mine is the only one in the nation on the drawing board that can help meet that demand, the company said.
Western Watersheds Project, Great Basin Resource Watch and others said in their lawsuit filed earlier this year that some of the region's most essential and irreplaceable sage grouse habitat could be lost if the mine is built. They say the bureau also has dismissed potential harm to golden eagles and destruction of pronghorn antelope habitat.
John Hadder, executive director of the resource watch, said Monday they were disappointed in the judge's ruling.
``But mine construction is not slated to begin until next year and the court stated that it would rule on the merits of the case by then,'' he said in an email to The Associated Press. ``Due to the various legal errors in the BLM's review and approval of the mine, we look forward to briefing on the merits of the case in the coming months.''
A spokesman for Lithium Nevada said Monday they were preparing a response.
Justice Department lawyers representing the Bureau of Land Management told Du during a hearing last week the company can't begin construction of the mine until it completes a historic properties treatment plan in conjunction with the agency and obtains several outstanding permits from the state of Nevada.
Du said in her ruling that the plans for excavations and collection of data at 21 historic properties calls for two to 25 holes to be dug by hand at each site _ along with seven mechanical trenches at some sites up to a few meters deep and 40 meters (130 feet) long.
She said the harm described by opponents ``is more speculative than specific and not specifically tied to any of the actual sites that may be excavated'' in conjunction with the historic properties treatment plan.
They assume the digging will involve destruction of sagebrush, ``but that is not necessarily true,'' Du wrote, especially because they don't know the specific location of the planned trenches because the sites have been kept confidential.
She also noted that Lithium Nevada has committed to provide 60 days advance notice before it commences any significant ground disturbance at the mine site.
Lawyers for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Western Watersheds Project said in new a joint motion last week the agency also is violating the National Historic Preservation Act by failing to consult with tribal members about plans to the dig the trenches at the site where Native Americans were slaughtered in the late 1800s.
US to Transfer Federal Property for Hawaiian Home Lands
By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
HONOLULU (AP) _ The U.S. is giving Native Hawaiians surplus land as compensation for acres that were meant for homesteading but used instead by the federal government. The land transfer also attempts to help right wrongs against the Indigenous people of Hawaii, officials said Monday.
The 80 acres (32 hectares) in Ewa Beach formerly used for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center will eventually provide up to 400 homes while helping fulfill terms of a settlement authorized by Congress in 1995 to compensate Native Hawaiians for 1,500 acres (607 hectares) that were set aside for homelands but subsequently acquired and used by the federal government for other purposes, officials said.
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's voice choked with emotion while making the announcement Monday.
``Yes, it's a happy day, but it's also a sad day because we remember the tragedy that befell the Native Hawaiians throughout their tumultuous history,'' said Haaland, the first Native American woman to lead a U.S. Cabinet agency. ``Since that time, our country has learned a great deal. And now we are in an era where we recognize the importance of healing the generational traumas that caused pain and heartache.''
The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 was meant to provide economic self-sufficiency to Hawaiians by allowing them to use land to live on. Those with at least 50% Hawaiian blood quantum can apply for a 99-year lease for $1 a year.
The transfer of land to Hawaii's Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is a step in the right direction, but there's a long way to go, said U.S. Rep. Kaiali?i Kahele, noting that about 11,000 are waiting for residential homes on Oahu. Overall statewide, there are 28,788 on a waitlist for land, according to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
It's exciting to see Haaland leading the department, said Kahele, who is Native Hawaiian.
``You hear the passion in her voice,'' he said. ``She understands the generational trauma that has been caused to Indigenous peoples in this country by the federal government over the last 100 to 200 years.''
The transfer ``helps to right the wrongs of past policy,`` U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves said.
There is no timeline yet for development of the properties.
Senate GOP Hails New Interior Deputy as 'Voice of Reason'
By MATTHEW DALY
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate easily confirmed former Obama administration official Tommy Beaudreau as deputy secretary at the Interior Department on Thursday, a rare bipartisan moment in an increasingly bitter fight over President Joe Biden's policies on energy production and climate change.
Beaudreau, a lawyer and former Interior chief of staff, is widely seen as a moderate and was selected in April after Biden dropped plans for a more liberal nominee who faced key Senate opposition.
His nomination was approved on an 88-9 vote. Forty-one Republicans supported Beaudreau, along with 47 Democrats.
Beaudreau grew up in Alaska and is politically close to the state's senior senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, a former chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who holds great sway over oil drilling, endangered species and other department issues. Murkowski and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who now heads the energy committee, said they were concerned that Biden's initial choice, Elizabeth Klein, was overly hostile to the oil and gas industry.
The two lawmakers told the White House that Klein, a progressive who is a favorite of environmental groups, would not be a sufficient counterweight to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a former Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico who has criticized the oil and gas industry.
Haaland was confirmed on a narrow 51-40 vote in March, becoming the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy panel, said he has been impressed with Beaudreau, who was the first director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, an agency created to oversee offshore drilling following the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
``It's clear Mr. Beaudreau understands America's need for an all-of-the-above energy strategy,'' Barrasso said, adding that he hopes Beaudreau ``can serve as a voice of reason in an administration that is waging a war on American energy workers.''
Murkowski, who was one of four GOP senators who voted in favor of Haaland, had made no secret of her support for Beaudreau, citing his Alaska background and knowledge of Interior Department issues.
Beaudreau ``knows what goes on within the department. He's grounded in just kind of the management and operation side of things, as well as the policy side,'' she told E&E News.
Manchin also praised Beaudreau, saying he understands Interior's ``dual mission of preserving and protecting our national parks and public lands and providing a large part of the energy and mineral resources that we need to power the nation.''
Interior has emerged as a flashpoint in the early days of the Biden administration, with Republicans frequently complaining that Biden's policies hurt energy production and jobs. Most Democrats support those same policies as necessary to combat climate change and encourage conservation of public lands.
The conflict came to a head this week as a federal judge blocked Biden's suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, a move GOP lawmakers hailed as overdue. Haaland said her department is reviewing the judge's opinion and consulting with the Justice Department.
Beaudreau's nomination was widely seen as an attempt by Biden to win favor with Murkowski, Manchin and other moderates who are vital to a host of Biden's priorities, including his sweeping infrastructure and clean energy package.
The overwhelming vote for Beaudreau comes as Biden's nominee to oversee federal lands in the West faces Republican pressure to withdraw over her ties to environmental activists convicted of trying to sabotage a national forest timber sale more than 30 years ago.
Tracy Stone-Manning, nominated to lead Interior's Bureau of Land Management, should be disqualified over her collaboration with ``extreme environmental activists,'' Barrasso said.
As a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of Montana, Stone-Manning sent a letter to federal officials in 1989 saying spikes had been inserted into trees in Idaho's Clearwater National Forest. The profanity-laced letter warned ``a lot of people could get hurt'' if logging proceeded, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press from federal archives.
Spiking trees involves inserting metal or ceramic rods into trunks so they can't be safely cut down, and the tactic has sometimes been used to halt timber sales.
Stone-Manning testified against two friends who were convicted in the case. She was granted immunity and was never charged with any crime.
Stone-Manning did not respond to telephone and text messages last week seeking comment. An administration official who wasn't authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity said officials knew about the criminal case and Stone-Manning's testimony prior to her nomination.
Associated Press writer Matthew Brown in Billings, Mont., contributed to this report.
Nathan Davis Named Director of Indian Affairs Commission
By JAMES MacPHERSON
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday named a Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa tribal leader as director of the state Indian Affairs Commission, saying his leadership experience and ``bridge-building skills'' will be valuable in the position.
Nathan A. Davis, 35, who also is a descendant of the Spirit Lake Nation, begins the job July 1. He succeeds Scott Davis, who had been executive director of the commission since 2009, when he was appointed by then-Gov. John Hoeven. Scott Davis plans to join Sanford Health as head of Native American outreach.
``Nathan Davis brings the leadership experience and bridge-building skills we need to continue fostering tribal engagement and strengthening our state-tribal relationships built on mutual understanding and respect,'' Burgum said in a statement. ``His passion for improving the health, education and well-being of the members of the five tribal nations with whom we share geography will serve all of North Dakota's citizens well.''
The Indian Affairs Commission's director acts as a liaison between the governor's office and North Dakota's tribal governments. The director works with the state's American Indian tribes on various projects, and assembles data about North Dakota's five reservations.
Nathan Davis has served as a council representative of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa since December 2018, representing tribal members on the local, state and federal levels. Burgum said he has assisted in the efforts of a multimillion-dollar recovery center, managed the purchase and design of a tribal mobile health unit, and served as the tribal health liaison for the tribal government during the COVID-19 pandemic. Davis previously served as community education officer for an American Indian diabetes program.
Scott Davis, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, served three governors. Burgum in October placed Davis on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations of misconduct.
The Republican governor reinstated Davis three weeks later with no discipline. A statement by the governor's office said investigators found that ``Davis did not misuse his position of authority when engaging in a personal relationship with a state employee from a different agency with whom he had no formal work relationship.''
The Indian Affairs Commission has four employees, including the director, and a two-year budget of just over $1 million. The Indian Affairs Commission itself has nine members, including the governor, and the chairmen of North Dakota's five American Indian tribes: the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation; the Standing Rock Sioux; the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa; the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate; and the Spirit Lake Nation.
Nathan Davis will be paid $98,000 annually. Scott Davis' annual salary was $115,000.
NYC Schools Try Compromise on Columbus Day, Displeasing Some
By KAREN MATTHEWS
NEW YORK (AP) _ In a possibly futile effort to please both Italian Americans who celebrate Christopher Columbus and racial justice advocates who accuse him of genocide, the New York City public school system has designated Oct. 11 as Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People's Day.
The double-naming of the school holiday happened Tuesday after a calendar for the 2021-2022 school year was initially posted with Oct. 11, which is Columbus Day, a state holiday, labeled simply Indigenous Peoples' Day.
The change, which was made without the knowledge of the city's mayor, drew swift condemnation from elected officials, including Democratic state senators Diane Savino and Joe Addabbo, who called the renaming of Columbus Day ``block-headed`` and said it did ``terrible disservice to a difficult and complex conversation.''
The city Department of Education then backtracked and changed the name again.
``Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People's Day will celebrate the contributions and legacies of Italian Americans and recognize that Native people are the first inhabitants of the land that became our country,'' department spokesperson Danielle Filson said in a statement.
That compromise then drew fresh condemnation Wednesday from New York's Italian American governor, Andrew Cuomo, who said it was divisive to force the two groups to share a holiday.
``I support an Indigenous peoples' holiday, but I also support Columbus Day. You can have an Indigenous peoples' day without intruding on Columbus Day,`` Cuomo said. ``Why insult or diminish the Italian American contribution? Why? There's no need and it's unhealthy for the body politic.''
Cuomo, a Democrat, said Columbus Day will remain a state holiday. It is also a federal holiday.
The legacy of Columbus has drawn scrutiny in recent years, with cities and states around the country renaming the second Monday in October to honor the Indigenous populations that were decimated by violence and disease after Europeans arrived in the Americas.
Some states have created a holiday for Indigenous people on a separate date. Oklahoma did the opposite, recently moving its existing Native American Day so that it would fall on the same day as Columbus Day.
``New York is leagues behind other states and cities,'' said Cliff Matias, cultural director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, which presents educational programs about Native American culture in New York-area schools.
Matias called the Columbus Day renaming compromise ``just another crude attempt by the powers that be in New York City to go against the tide in this country.``
But Columbus has fans in New York, where tens of thousands of Italian Americans march through Manhattan in a show of ethnic pride every Columbus Day.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he backed the compromise.
``We have to honor that day as a day to recognize the contributions of all Italian Americans, so of course the day should not have been changed arbitrarily,'' de Blasio said.
The Democratic mayor, who speaks frequently of his own Italian heritage, said that neither he nor Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter was consulted about the initial switch to just Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Asked about the matter at a virtual news briefing, de Blasio said the process of changing the name wasn't right, ``but the end result, it's going to be a day to honor Italian American heritage, a day to honor Indigenous peoples, I think that's a good way forward.''
Associated Press writer Marina Villeneuve contributed from Albany, New York.
Interior drops Trump proposal for Arctic offshore drilling
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ The U.S. Interior Department said Friday it would not pursue a Trump administration proposal that critics said would have weakened rules for exploratory oil and gas drilling in Arctic waters.
A statement from the department said existing regulations released in 2016 remain in effect and ``are critical to ensuring adequate safety and environmental protections for this sensitive ecosystem and Alaska Native subsistence activities.''
Leah Donahey, Alaska Wilderness League legislative director, said the rules that have been in place incorporated lessons learned from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
She said there has not been a public push by companies showing interest in the region.
Changes to rules proposed under the Trump administration were not finalized.
According to conservation group Oceana, 37 exploratory wells have been drilled in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas since the 1970s, with many of those drilled on leases that have since been relinquished.
First Lady Jill Biden to Visit Albuquerque, Navajo Capitol
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ First lady Jill Biden's office announced Saturday that she will visit the U.S. Southwest in the coming week, with stops planned in New Mexico's most populous city and the Navajo Nation's capitol in Arizona.
The announcement said Biden will travel to Albuquerque on Wednesday and visit Window Rock, Arizona, on Thursday and Friday.
The announcement did not elaborate on the scheduled visit but said additional information will be forthcoming.
News Outlet Indian Country Today Has a New Owner: Itself
PHOENIX (AP) _ Indian Country Today, an online news publication and daily broadcaster covering tribes and Indigenous peoples, has changed ownership.
The outlet has been operating as a limited liability company under the National Congress of American Indians since 2017, when the Oneida Indian Nation donated it to the nation's oldest and largest tribal organization.
It will now operate as an independent company.
NCAI on Friday transferred its interests in Indian Country Today LLC to IndiJ Public Media, a newly incorporated Arizona nonprofit.
``This is a new day for ICT, which has a long history as a premier source of news for and about Indigenous communities, written and produced by Indigenous journalists,'' said Karen Michel, Ho Chunk, president and CEO of IndiJ Public Media. ``As IndiJ Public Media's name implies, our focus remains on Indigenous journalism while emphasizing our expansion into broadcasting.''
NCAI President Fawn Sharp called the change an ``exciting time for Indian Country Today to become fiscally independent and to continue its tradition of an autonomous free press.''
Indian Country Today is headquartered at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. It was on the brink of closure before NCAI took it over, and was relaunched under the leadership of editor Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock.
According to a release, over the past four decades, the organization has evolved from the weekly Lakota Times, to a national magazine, to a digital publication and a daily half-hour newscast ``reporting on the ground from - and for - Indian Country about the critical issues impacting Native nations and peoples in the United States and around the globe.''
Corps Wants Delay on Hearing to Shut Down Dakota Access Line
By DAVE KOLPACK
FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday asked a federal judge to delay a hearing on a temporary shutdown of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, citing the changeover in personnel with the new administration.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg asked the Corps to outline its plans after an appeals court two weeks ago backed Boasberg's order for an extensive environmental review on the project and essentially confirmed that the pipeline was operating without a key permit. The hearing on the permit issue is scheduled for Wednesday.
Boasberg last summer revoked the easement that allows for the river crossing and ordered the pipeline shuttered until its environmental soundness was proven. However, the shutdown never happened because an appeals court ruled that Boasberg had not justified it.
The Corps said in its motion filed Monday that more time is needed to brief the new administration officials who will be required ``to learn the background of and familiarize themselves with this lengthy and detailed litigation.'' Biden has yet to address possible leadership changes in several government agencies.
Matthew Marinelli, attorney for the Corps, did not return an email message sent Monday night by The Associated Press.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which more than four years ago sued the Corps for granting permits that led Donald Trump to approve pipeline construction, and three other tribes serving as plaintiffs agree with the request for a 58-day delay _ even though the tribes and other opponents have called for an immediate shutdown.
A letter sent Monday asking President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to stop the flow of oil was signed by numerous activists and leaders representing environmental groups, Native Americans, politics, entertainment and one prominent sports figure, quarterback and NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
``The administration has to make a choice. Will it honor the treaties and the law, or will it allow the continued operation of an illegal and risky pipeline,`` Jan Hasselman, the EarthJustice attorney representing Standing Rock and other tribes, said Monday night. ``President Biden must reverse Trump's illegal actions authorizing DAPL.``
Biden to Review Trump's Changes to National Monuments
By BRADY McCOMBS and PATRICK WHITTLE
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ President Joe Biden said Wednesday he plans to review the Trump administration's downsizing of two sprawling national monuments in the American Southwest, including one on lands considered sacred to Native Americans who joined environmental groups in suing when the boundaries were redrawn in 2017.
The new Democratic president also plans to ask the Department of the Interior to reassess a rule change that allowed commercial fishing at a marine conservation area off the New England coast. The move was heralded by fishing groups and decried by environmentalists.
The moves are part of Biden's expansive plan to tackle climate change and reverse the Trump administration's ``harmful policies,'' according to fact sheet issued by the administration on Biden's inauguration day.
Biden vowed to also use executive orders to put a temporary moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in what had been virgin Arctic wilderness, direct federal agencies to start looking at tougher mileage standards and other emission limits again, and revoke Trump's approval for the Keystone XL oil and gas pipeline.
The plans drew praise from conservation groups.
The land monuments Biden will reassess are the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments in southern Utah. President Bill Clinton created Grand Staircase in 1996, and President Barack Obama created Bears Ears in 2016. The cuts made by Trump paved the way for potential coal mining and oil and gas drilling on lands that used to be off limits, though activity was limited because of market dynamics.
The marine monument is called the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean and one of just five marine monuments nationwide. President Obama issued the order establishing the conservation area in 2016.
Trump acted in December 2017 to shrink the Utah monuments on the recommendations of then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who was tasked with reviewing 27 national monuments around the country.
The monument review was based on arguments from Trump and others that a law signed by President Theodore Roosevelt allowing presidents to declare monuments had been improperly used to protect wide expanses of lands instead of places with particular historical or archaeological value.
Trump's decision to downsize Bears Ears by 85% and shrink Grand Staircase-Escalante by nearly half earned him applause from Utah's Republican leaders, who considered the monuments an example of federal government overreach.
The state's current Republican leaders, including U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney and new Gov. Spencer Cox, expressed concern with Biden's plan in a joint statement Wednesday evening in which they demanded Utah leaders be involved in the review.
``A review in name only with predetermined results, which ultimately leads to a unilateral executive order enlarging the monuments' boundaries, will not solve the root of the problem and will only deepen divisions in this country,'' they said.
Environmental, tribal, paleontological and outdoor recreation organizations have pending lawsuits to restore the full sizes of the monuments, arguing presidents don't have the legal authority to undo or change monuments created by predecessors.
Pat Gonzales-Rogers, executive director of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, said the group has told the Biden transition team the monument should first be restored to the size Obama created and later to a larger size tribes originally requested.
The lands are sacred to tribes in the coalition: Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Indian Tribe, he said. The area includes thousands of archaeological sites on red rock lands including cliff dwellings. The Bears Ears buttes that overlook a grassy valley are particularly sacred.
``The Bears Ears is a church and the place of worship for many of our tribes,`` Gonzales-Rogers said. ``It should be viewed with the same type of gravitas and platform that you would view the Cathedral of Notre Dame.''
Bruce Adams, who stood next to Trump cheering at the Utah Capitol in 2017 when he signed the declaration shrinking the monument, said Wednesday he thinks it's a foregone conclusion Biden will restore Bears Ears to the size Obama created, if not make it larger. Adams is county commissioner in the area where the monument is located and said the impact on the county of having to clean up trash and rescue unprepared visitors outweighs any benefit from people spending money at local hotels and restaurants.
``I don't think it's fair for the federal government to come in and do a huge land grab,'' Adams said. ``I just wish they would attach some dollars so the county can deal with the impact.''
An estimated 425,000 people visited Bears Ears in 2020, down slightly from the year before because of pandemic closures in the spring, according to the Friends of Cedar Mesa organization that runs a Bears Ears Education Center near the monument.
The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts conservation area comprises about 5,000 square miles east of New England. It contains vulnerable species of marine life such as right whales and fragile deep sea corals. The monument was the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean.
Trump issued an executive order in June 2020 that reopened the monument to commercial fishing. He said at the time that Obama's move to ban fishing in the area was ``deeply unfair to Maine lobstermen,'' although lobster fishermen from the state don't fish in the area.
Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen's Association, said Wednesday that fishermen opposed Obama's creation of the monument because of the lack of feedback from the industry.
``It was closed without fishery input, and then it was open, and I suppose it's going to be closed again without fishery input,'' Porter said.
Whittle reported from Portland, Maine.
Surgeon General commends Montana for reducing virus spread
By IRIS SAMUELS
Associated Press/Report for America
HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Montana Gov. Steve Bullock was joined by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams Thursday as they commended residents for reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the state even as the number of cases in other parts of the country is on the rise.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Montana has declined in the past two weeks while testing numbers have remained steady, Bullock said. The governor attributes the decline to new restrictions that went into place Nov. 20, expanding an existing mask mandate to the entire state and requiring bars and casinos to close by 10 p.m.
Confirmed cases in Yellowstone County, which has seen the state's largest outbreak, are down 36% since Nov. 20, the governor said.
While the number of hospitalized individuals remains relatively high _ with 488 individuals reportedly hospitalized with the virus on Thursday _ Bullock said he expects the number to drop after local data is reconciled with the state's reporting system.
Adams, who is visiting Montana to launch a testing facility in Fort Peck Indian Reservation, said Montana ``has proven that these mitigation efforts work.''
The surgeon general's endorsement of mask use comes as Republican state legislators declined to mandate mask use in the state's capitol during the legislative session slated to begin next month.
Adams urged confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine. The first 9,750 doses of the vaccine are slated to be delivered to Montana next week if it receives emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
``Whether it's required or not, you should be raising your hand and saying, `I want to get vaccinated,' because that's going to allow you to more freely go about your business,`` Adams said.
The first doses will be delivered to 10 major hospitals in the state's seven largest communities. Doses delivered to the state in subsequent weeks will be reserved for rural health care workers and staff and residents of nursing facilities.
The governor and surgeon general warned against complacency even once vaccine distribution begins, saying that mask wearing and social distancing should continue.
Bullock said 284 contracted health care workers are currently deployed in the state to assist in hospitals seeing a large number of COVID-19 patients. Close to 200 health care workers in the state are in isolation or quarantine due to exposure to the virus.
More than 70,800 people across Montana have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since March, including 779 new confirmed cases reported Thursday. The true number is likely far higher because not everyone is tested and some people can be infected without showing symptoms.
The state has reported 781 deaths due to the virus.
That death toll includes a 71-year-old inmate at the Montana State Prison, who died Dec. 8 at the Community Medical Center in Missoula. This marks the fifth COVID-19-related death of an inmate in the state.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for some _ especially older adults and people with health problems _ it can cause more severe illness and death.
In other virus-related news, the Flathead county health department hired Joe Russell to serve as public health officer beginning next week, after interim health officer Tamalee St. James Robinson resigned from the position, citing the county commissioners' and board of health's lack of support for mask use and other COVID-19 health restrictions. Russell headed the county health department from 1998 until his retirement in 2017.
Scottsdale Tribe Builds 5-acre Memorial to USS Arizona
PHOENIX (AP) _ The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has built the 5-acre memorial near Scottsdale as a tribute to those who were aboard the USS Arizona when it was attacked and sank at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
The USS Arizona Memorial Gardens honors each of the ship's 1,512 crew members, including the 1,177 who died in the explosion caused by one torpedo and eight bombs hitting the battleship.
One survivor of the attack was Paul Howard Egan. He died in 1992 at age 71 and his ashes were interred on the USS Arizona in 1993.
"He's actually inside the ship now,'' his son, John Egan, told The Arizona Republic. "I know he missed his shipmates. . I felt he was at peace, finally.''
John Egan, 69, lives in the Phoenix area and has visited the monument at the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens.
"The memorial is a really neat thing. It's really peaceful and serene,'' he said.
The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community funded and built the gardens, which opened in February.
The venue honors each of those who were aboard the USS Arizona at the time of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service's attack with metal monuments of stacked blocks with names and ranks engraved on them, according to the Republic.
The newspaper said the garden's perimeter spans the length and width of the ship, with each column representing a person aboard the ship.
There are quotes from survivors on benches along pathways that end with flagpoles that mark each branch of the military.
The site's design is the exact size of the 608-foot-long (185-meter-long) ship.
Most of the columns light up at night to represent the lives lost during the attack.
According to the Republic, the gaps between the columns are designated for survivors of the attack like Paul Egan.
The site incorporates the community's existing veterans circle.
In 2007, Salt River community members sought to obtain a flag that was once flown over the sunken battleship.
They wound up getting a piece of the ship's original boat house.
John Egan said he appreciates the years of effort the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community put into creating the site.
When it's safe to travel again, he hopes to bring his sons, who are in their early 40s, to see the memorial.
He also has made a $250 donation to become an "illumination partner'' to support the cost of lighting the gardens every day.
Work Remains to Wrap Up Long-Running Water Rights Case
By T.S. LAST
SAN ILDEFONSO PUEBLO, N.M. (AP) _ The beginning of the end of one of the longest-running water rights cases is underway. But the end is still at least eight years away and some loose ends need to be tied, including securing funding to complete a $400 million-plus project and an unsettled dispute over access to roads on pueblo land.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation contractors have begun work on the first phase of what will become the Pojoaque Basin Regional Water System serving approximately 3,900 homes and 9,921 tribal members and non-tribal residents from San Ildefonso Pueblo to Santa Fe.
It is the crucial piece in the decades-old Aamodt water rights case, which quantifies water rights for San Ildefonso, Nambe, Pojoaque and Tesuque pueblos and sets rules for non-Indian well-users to either tie into the system or rely on their own wells. Area residents use the water for drinking and to irrigate crops and gardens.
``This project is incredibly important for all the different communities that will receive water from this system,'' said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman, who recently visited San Ildefonso Pueblo to tour construction sites.
Burman understands the project from different perspectives. Not only does she head the federal agency in charge of building the water system, but also she's a University of Arizona law school graduate so she understands the complexities of the Aamodt case, a lawsuit brought by the New Mexico State Engineer against all who claimed water rights in the Pojoaque Basin. While parties reached an initial settlement agreement in 2006 and an amended agreement in 2012, a final decree wasn't issued until 2017.
There are still unresolved issues, such as where the funding will come from. A bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico to provide an additional $137 million _ bringing the federal share of costs to more than $243 million _ is awaiting action in the U.S. House.
The state of New Mexico is contributing about $100 million. Santa Fe County expects to contribute about $16 million, though that figure depends on the construction schedule and an indexing factor.
The county's funding comes from proceeds derived from the sale of water rights and gross receipts taxes earmarked for the project.
The work being done now is part of a ``limited construction'' phase that provides $12.5 million through the end of 2021 for initial work on San Ildefonso Pueblo.
Currently, about $210 million _ only about half the overall cost _ has been authorized for the project, Burman said. She's confident the rest of the funding will go through.
``We've been very lucky because this administration is one that cares about Western water. That's why I'm here,'' said Burman, who served as the bureau's deputy commissioner and deputy assistant secretary for water and science in the George W. Bush administration. ``Even though we're in the process of getting the final funding, we're absolutely committed to finishing this project.''
Under the agreement, the water system is to be completed by 2028. The first phase, which began in June, involves building transmission lines, a water treatment plant, a mechanical/electrical building, water storage tanks and several collector wells that will draw water from beneath the Rio Grande, almost all of it on San Ildefonso Pueblo.
``I think it's the longest-running water case, and we hope this will satisfy it and provide water to tribal and non-tribal members in the area,'' said San Ildefonso Pueblo Gov. Perry Martinez, who joined Burman on the tour, along with the governors of Nambe and Tesuque.
The first phase will serve San Ildefonso and the northern part of Pojoaque Pueblo.
Tom Kline, a supervisor with contractor CDM-Smith, said the wells currently under construction along the river are dug 35-40 feet deep and hold about 40,000 gallons of water. Then, four lateral lines will be drilled to make way for the 12-inch pipe that will run up to 170 feet under the river from which water will be drawn.
``Then it gets pumped four miles up the road to a central treatment plant and sent out for distribution,'' he said, adding that a series of water storage tanks are also part of the project.
Kline said the project is designed to have as little impact on the bosque and other work sites as possible.
``Because the land is sacred to the pueblo, we're only working in certain corridors that are 36 feet wide,'' he said.
Initially, the wells will be able to extract 2,500 acre-feet, or nearly 815 million gallons, of water per year. They will eventually be able to draw 4,000 acre-feet, more than 1.3 billion gallons, per year.
The water rights are a combination of Native water rights, water allocated from the San Juan-Chama Project, an interbasin transfer of water from Colorado and water rights secured from the Top of the World farm north of Taos.
The second phase, still in design, will serve the rest of Pojoaque, Nambe and Tesuque pueblos. It will also include transmission lines and storage tanks. The final phase, which is administered by Santa Fe County, will then connect the system to homes.
In all, the project involves about 150 miles of pipeline and seven miles of electrical lines.
Well-users had the option of connecting to the system or not, which carries some risk should their wells fail. Those who connect are required by the state to install a water meter at their homes, which costs around $400. They will also pay a monthly service charge, a portion of which is fixed, with the rest based on usage.
Santa Fe County sent out a survey to well owners close to the pipeline and found that 932 such owners were interested in having their connection costs paid for by filing an acceptance of the settlement agreement and a notice of well election in U.S. District Court.
``Those opting to connect to the County Water Utility as soon as service is available are eligible to have all connection costs paid for from the $4 million Pojoaque Valley Water Utility Connection Fund to be established by the state of New Mexico,'' the county said in a statement. ``Connection costs include the line from the distribution line to the customer's home and any utility meter.''
The county says 184 well owners so far have elected to connect as soon as the system is up and running. Six more elected to do so after the transfer of property.
The county says based on notifications from the Office of the State Engineer, 159 well owners have elected to keep their well, but limit the amount of use in accordance with the settlement agreement.
The end of the road
There's one more issue that remains a hang-up in the settlement agreement _ roads.
In 2013, the president of the federal Bureau of Indian Affair's Northern Pueblo Agency sent a letter to Santa Fe County alleging that the county was in trespass on roads on tribal land. The county responded that some of the roads have been in use for more than 100 years and pointed to a 1989 agreement that grants the county right-of-way on the roads in question.
The dispute clouded titles for homes and diminished property values for people living in the ``exterior boundaries'' _ a legal term for lands that once belonged to San Ildefonso Pueblo but later passed into private hands.
Santa Fe County threatened to withhold its share of funding for the regional water system until the conflict was settled. That led to years of negotiations with all four pueblos. Separate agreements have been reached with each pueblo, but require approval from the U.S. Interior Department.
Film on Historical Trauma Set for National Release
The documentary film, Dodging Bullets--Stories from Survivors of Historical Trauma, is a cumulation of seven years of work that was produced with the help of over 350 people. The voices are from Blackfeet to Santee to Meskwaki to Ojibwe country. From a Blackfeet youth living with trauma to the storytelling of veterans of Wounded Knee, and it all ends with in Ho-Chunk Country following a youth group running for suicide prevention.
Rain Marshall says “The film brilliantly wove together a positive path to healing through ceremony and cultural identity.”
Click here to learn more about the critically acclaimed film.
Fans Hope Marvel Comic Book Improves Native Representation
By TERRY TANG
Past portrayals of Native American or Indigenous comic book superheroes would often follow the same checklist _ mystical powers, an ability to talk to animals and a costume of either a headdress or a loincloth.
``Poor research was done. They were just going off of TV and film,'' said artist Jeffrey Veregge of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe in Washington state. One of his biggest complaints is that mainstream ``heroes from every place else had actual costumes`` while Native characters weren't represented well.
Growing up reading comic books on his tribe's land outside Seattle, Veregge related more with non-Native heroes like Iron Man or Spider-Man. Now, he's ``living a dream,'' overseeing a Marvel comic book about Native stories told by Native people.
Marvel Comics announced this month that it's assembled Native artists and writers for ``Marvel Voices: Indigenous Voices (hash)1,'' an anthology that will revisit some of its Native characters. It's timed for release during Native American History Month in November.
Native comic book fans hope it's a new start for authentic representation in mainstream superhero fare. Marvel says the project was planned long before the nation's reckoning over racial injustice, which has prompted changes including the Washington NFL team dropping its decades-old Redskins mascot.
``It's correcting a problem that started a long time ago,'' Veregge said of the comic book project.
Veregge, who has drawn more than 100 covers for Marvel and other major comic book publishers, was a natural fit to lead the project. In February, he wrapped up an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York City. ``Of Gods and Heroes'' was his interpretation of Marvel protagonists like Black Panther and Thor, integrating shapes and lines inspired by tribal art styles.
``You want to make sure people recognize the characters themselves, but I also want them to see it's a Native voice behind that,'' Veregge said.
Lee Francis IV, owner of Red Planet Books & Comics in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and an independent publisher of Native comics, helped find up-and-coming Native artists to join the Marvel anthology. An organizer of an annual Indigenous Comic Con who's descended from the Laguna Pueblo, Francis said comic books aren't far off from some tribes' storytelling traditions.
``I don't want to speak for all Native folks, but I think there's a visual acuity and storytelling sense that aligns perfectly with the comic book medium,'' Francis said. ``Not only words and writing, but this visual storytelling that harks back to our own stories and petroglyphs _ rock art _ ties it back to our ancestors.''
Racist stereotypes found their way into the medium because comic book artists often relied on what they saw in movie and TV Westerns, Francis said. And before Westerns, political cartoons dating to the 1700s demonized or ridiculed Native people.
For so long in comics, Native Americans have either been the villain or the stoic sidekick. It's frustrating when a genuine ``Indigenerd'' sees ``everybody else gets spandex and you get a headdress,`` Francis said.
Dezbah Evans, meanwhile, always identified with Marvel's ``X-Men.`` The series about young mutants struggling with powers while being persecuted by society seems to parallel how America treats Indigenous communities, said Evans, a 24-year-old comic book fan and cosplayer from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who's Navajo, Chippewa and Yuchi.
She's looking forward to the Marvel book because it will feature one of her favorite mutants _ Danielle Moonstar, a Cheyenne heroine who conjures illusions based on people's fears.
``It's very validating that these are my peers, these are people I see at conventions and I've had relationships with,'' Evans said of the writers and artists creating the book. ``I'm really proud they're able to get to this level.''
She hopes it's the beginning of an expansion of the comic book world _ not just the Marvel Universe. Mainstream pop culture still has far more Native male superheroes than female ones.
``Whenever I think of super Native women, they're all mothers _ my mom, my grandma. They're the first heroes in all of our lives,'' Evans said. ``It would be really interesting to have a modern Indigenous mom living and being a superhero.''
Verland Coker, 27, a comic book fan of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma, calls Marvel's endeavor a step in the right direction but says comic books could go further.
It's rare, for instance, to see Native superheroes talk in their own language. Incorporating some language would be an opportunity to educate non-Natives and promote tribes _ many of which are struggling to preserve their language for younger generations, said Coker, who lives in Albuquerque.
``My worry is that we can occasionally lean into the monolith myth, and while any representation is great, we often only get a select few tribes,'' Coker said via text. ``I just would like to see more Native artists on mainstream products.''
That may not be far off based on the reception Veregge gets. When he meets children on the reservation where he grew up or at comic book conventions, their parents like to point out his work for Marvel. It's an interaction he takes seriously.
``I get to tell kids: `I grew up on this reservation, too. You can do this, too,''' Veregge said. ``I know who I'm representing. ... I carry them wherever I go.''
Tang reported from Phoenix and is a member of The Associated Press Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ttangAP.
COVID Put Powwow Season on Hold and Online
By DAN GUNDERSON
Minnesota Public Radio News
MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) _ When Labor Day weekend rolls around this year, Brenda Child will miss an event that's been a part of her life for as long as she can remember.
She lives most of the year in the Twin Cities now _ she's a professor at the University of Minnesota _ but grew up on the Red Lake Nation, with fond memories of powwows. She's even written a children's picture book about powwows.
``My favorite powwow of the year comes Labor Day weekend, when there is a singing contest up in Ponemah, Minnesota,'' she told Minnesota Public Radio News. ``Every year, I take my children to Ponemah and we sit there by the lake and we listen to the music. I think I'll be really sad on Labor Day weekend.''
For Child, powwows are energizing and contemplative. They're about music, dancing, food, hours visiting with family and friends _ and time thinking about relatives no longer at the powwow.
``My mother or my grandmother or my uncles who've passed on, so it's not just something that I share with my children, but it's a time to really be immersed in Ojibwe culture,'' she said.
Many people across the state spend months preparing for powwow season, which is traditionally happening right about now. But COVID-19 has upended those plans: As states and tribal nations continue their fight against the spread of the coronavirus, many powwows this year have been canceled, leaving people pining for the community, the family and the celebration of Native culture that powwows bring.
``It's something really huge for our people when we have a powwow, because the gathering and the good feelings that happen at those powwows is something you really can't describe,'' said Gary ``Rez Dawg'' Jourdain, who traveled the powwow circuit when he was younger with the popular Red Lake drum group Eyabay.
Jourdain said he's made a lot of friends across the United States and Canada on the powwow trail, and now sees many of them only during powwow season.
There have been a few small powwows held across Indian Country this summer, but most are canceled, as tribal governments implement policies to limit the spread of COVID-19. Instead, this summer, some performers are getting creative _ and gathering virtually.
Recently, 10 singers from Eyabay gathered around a drum in Red Lake to perform live on the Facebook group Social Distance Powwow. Dancers from across the country are also posting videos online, often dancing alone on videos posted to the social media site.
``It's pretty cool, but nothing will ever replace the feeling of sitting in that arena with everyone and just watching it live,'' said Jourdain.
People have also had to get creative with another important part of powwow season: The food.
``What we're seeing around here during this lockdown time is (that) the people (who) had food stands at our powwows are setting up in their yard now,'' Jourdain said. ``They're like, `Hey, you know, we didn't get to powwow this year, but our food stand is open this weekend, come on out and enjoy some fair food.'''
Powwow history still being written
The powwows of today were shaped by U.S. government suppression. In the early 1920s, federal legislation known as the Dance Order prohibited American Indian dances. So, Child said, the people adapted.
``One of our strategies to circumvent these policies of the government was to start calling our celebration a Fourth of July celebration, and plant flags and celebrate veterans,'' she said.
Flags, flag songs and songs honoring veterans are still an important part of powwows. So are the songs and dances created by ancestors of past generations _ including the more recent jingle dress healing dance, which was born of the 1918 flu pandemic.
The powwow survived government suppression, Child said, and it will survive a pandemic. And while she misses the energy and the joy of powwow season, she's relying on the many memories to carry her through this lonely summer.
``To me, if a powwow's really good, it lasts until late at night. I often remember at Red Lake, being a kid with my uncle playing in his drum group and my mom and I dancing at the powwow, that there were nights that we didn't go home. We would go home when the sun was coming up in the morning,'' Child recalled.
Social media is filled with posts from people wishing they were at a now-canceled powwow somewhere in Indian Country. Jourdain said he thinks, when the pandemic threat eases, powwows will be bigger and better.
``If this is out of the way by next year, I'm sure you're going to see record-breaking crowds at all the powwows that are going to start back up,'' he said.
And maybe there will be a new song or dance to mark the history of this pandemic.
New Novel Relates Ojibwe History From the Mouth of a Wolf
By EUAN KERR
Minnesota Public Radio News
PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Ojibwe author Tom Peacock says he started out as a history person. He wrote Native American history books for school students and adults. But he says he had other stories in his head he wanted to get out. So, he turned to fiction _ which in time led to ``The Wolf's Trail.''
``In a way it's historical fiction, I suppose'' he told Minnesota Public Radio News. ``In a way, it's not. It's cultural fiction. I'm not sure what it is. I am not sure there's a word for it.''
So, let's say what it is: an immensely readable recasting of Ojibwe stories told by aging wolf Zhi-shay. He lives in the woods around Fond du Lac near Cloquet, Minnesota. Peacock says the Anishinaabe feel a kinship with wolves, and he wanted their perspective.
``Every one of the chapters comes from the Ojibwe story,'' he said. ``And I had to imagine, you know, our wolf relatives looking at us, and watching us, sort of live.''
The wolf Zhi-shay is his pack's story-keeper. It's his job to remember the creation stories and the histories so he can pass them on to the young wolves. That includes telling them about the people in the nearby village.
In the book, as they learn the youngsters tell Zhi-shay that relatives or not, they don't think much of humans and their trials and tribulations.
But through the succession of stories the old wolf reveals how life changed for the Ojibwe and wolves with the arrival of European settlers. Peacock relates how Zhi-shay argues the Ojibwe deserve the pup's empathy.
``In a way it's their interpretation of who we are as Ojibwe people and how we've changed because of colonization,'' he said.
As ``The Wolf's Trail'' develops Peacock draws in the Seven fires prophecy. It foretold the arrival of the outsiders and the threat of extinction they would bring. Most of the prophecy has come to pass. The final unfulfilled element raises the question about the Ojibwe's ultimate survival.
Peacock says Native fiction writers face the challenge of, as he puts it, telling secrets: talking about things usually kept within the community.
``We share things that we wouldn't normally share with non-Native people. Like our worry about what we have become, about who we are. Wondering whether we'll survive this,'' he said.
In the novel, the stories shared among a small group of wolves gathered under the trees grow to encompass the Ojibwe cosmology.
``I don't separate our spirituality or what the non-Native people would sometimes refer to as myths and legends,'' he said. ``I don't separate that from the reality of who we are.''
Peacock usually splits his time between Duluth and northern Wisconsin. However, he grew up at Fond du Lac, and its landscapes permeate the book.
``Those are the places I walked as a child with all my brothers and sisters and cousins and aunties and uncles, and parents and grandparents,'' he said.
There are also the descriptions of Madeline Island which the Ojibwe hold sacred. Peacock and his wife have been isolating on the mainland across the water from the island during the pandemic.
The book's Duluth-based publisher Holy Cow! Press had an extensive plan of appearances for Peacock tied to the publication of ``The Wolf's Trail,'' but all had to be set aside because of COVID-19.
The Wolf's Trail comes out at a time of quarantines and racial tension in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
Peacock likes to think his book might help.
``I have this saying in Ojibwe, in our language, `Imbagosendam noongoom, gawiin imbamaadin daaziin,'`` he said. ``'Today I have hope, I do not despair.'' And that is what I was thinking of for the ending of this story. And that's what we need to come away with.''
Tribes Turn to Musicians to Raise Kids' Awareness of COVID
By IRIS SAMUELS
Associated Press/Report for America
HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ The scene is the pedestrian bridge over U.S. Highway 93 in Pablo. In the midst of a gaggle of dancing children, a young hip-hop artist raps out a serious message:
``I pull my mask up to my face so I know that I'm straight. ... I wash my hands in the sink, I ain't taking no risk,'' sings KiidTruth, in the video for his new song, ``C19'' -- the first effort in a campaign against COVID-19 waged by Native American tribes in Montana.
To shield their vulnerable elders from the coronavirus pandemic, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are enlisting musicians to tell tribal youth to wash their hands and wear masks.
The song by 25-year-old KiidTruth _ also known as Artie Mendoza III _ garnered more than 1,500 views on YouTube in the four days after it was posted.
The music campaign ``is an excellent way to reach younger people,'' said 15-year-old Alishon Kelly, who lives on the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. ``I've seen a lot of my peers posting it and watching it.''
On the reservation, which has a population of slightly under 30,000, the stakes are high. If the virus spreads to the community's elders - who are at a greater risk of developing life-threatening symptoms - the local language and customs could be in peril.
``When it comes to our elders, we're always around them, we're always with them,'' said Mendoza, who grew up on the reservation. ``They're a sidewalk away.''
Said tribal Councilwoman Charmel Gillin: ``Tribal communities are very unique in many ways, but one of the ways is that we are a people with a spoken language, oral histories, and all of those aspects of our heritage are really in need of preservation. The elders in the community carry those for us.''
The reservation has not seen a significant number of COVID-19 cases. The tribes announced last week that four Flathead Reservation residents were diagnosed with COVID-19. The area has seen a total of nine cases since the onset of the pandemic, and no deaths.
But as Mendoza sings, ``My fellow Navajos been dealing with the sickness.'' Leaders on the Flathead Reservation watched with concern as the Navajo Nation's caseload mounted in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, where more than 6,000 COVID-19 cases have led to more than 300 deaths.
``We have been realizing the potential for great loss and that really puts us in a higher gear in trying to figure out what to do,'' Gillin said. ``We have a little bit of an advantage in being in this remote rural area in Montana so we can observe what's happening around us. We need to use that to our benefit.''
According to Michelle Mitchell, head of the tribes' education department, the campaign will expand to feature numerous local artists in coming weeks. Local youth who create their own videos will compete for $100 gift cards.
``Our guiding work is for the youth here on the reservation, but that doesn't mean our kids over here can't challenge the kids from Blackfeet,'' Mitchell said. ``They could launch these challenges themselves and take it in to other Indian communities. That would be pretty cool.''
Iris Samuels is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
While nonstop news about the effects of the coronavirus has become commonplace, so, too, have tales of kindness. ``One Good Thing'' is a series of AP stories focusing on glimmers of joy and benevolence in a dark time. Read the series here: https://apnews.com/OneGoodThing
New Nonprofit Tackles COVID-19 in Native, Rural Communities
By HOLLY MICHELS
Helena Independent Record
HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ A new public health advocacy organization in Montana is targeting the needs of rural and Native communities responding to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The nonprofit, called We Are Montana, was started by Cora Neumann, a public health expert who ran for U.S. Senate earlier this year, the Helena Independent Record reports. Neumann, as a first-time candidate, raised more than $643,840 and left about $200,600 in the bank when she dropped out of the race upon the entrance of Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
She's now using some of that money to kick-start the organization, which will serve as a public health information and training hub for rural and Native communities in the state.
``Getting timely and comprehensive public health information to local leaders makes a huge difference in a community's ability to respond, and to not respond from fear but grounded knowledge,'' Neumann said Wednesday.
While Neumann said the state has done a good job of getting information out in the immediate response to COVID-19, the focus needs to shift to building a strong public health infrastructure to prepare for any potential surges in cases going forward and help people adapt to the new normal.
``There's the immediate response and then there's the long-term mitigation and control and management,'' Neumann said. '' . We should have a public health infrastructure that's strong enough to handle something like this without having to shut the economy down. There is a real tension and concern between shutting down the economy as a pandemic mitigation tool.''
As the state begins to lift some of the regulations it had in place, Neumann said rural and Native communities remain at acute risk in part because of existing challenges around sufficient access to health care, the prevalence of preexisting conditions and lack of economic resources that come with their own host of health side effects.
We Are Montana will hold regular meetings on policy and to strengthen connections around the state. Neumann said the organization will also conduct a public health assessment with local and county-level leaders in frontier, small and medium-size communities, in partnership with the Montana Public Health Association.
In addition to working with local public health leaders, We Are Montana is partnering with organizations like Western Native Voice. Among early efforts of the project will be a COVID-19 relief fund, an effort led by Western Native Voice.
The relief fund has a goal of raising $50,000 to help tribal nationals in Montana meet immediate needs and acquire supplies such as personal protective equipment, food and medication.
One of the first things identified is a need for water heaters in homes on some tribal nations, said Marci McLean, the executive director of Western Native Voice. The heightened need for hand-washing has shown how many homes lack sufficient hot water. Other pressing needs are masks, gloves and cleaning supplies.
Money should also be directed toward medication delivery, McLean said. With the Indian Health Service limiting how many people can enter facilities at a time or the need for self-isolation, getting medications to those who need them can be a problem.
Another reason Indian Country faces challenges from COVID-19 are the high number of people who can share a single house and the frequency of several generations living under one roof.
``Where do you go isolate? We don't have the luxury of having a camper trailer in our driveway or vacant house or vacant room,'' McLean said. ``We need to provide isolation space should we have an outbreak on one of our tribal nations.''
McLean said while COVID-19 comes with its own set of challenges, it's also putting a bright spotlight on ongoing, long-term problems Indian Country has faced.
``One Band-Aid covers up one issue but it doesn't cover up the root cause,'' McLean said. ``A long-term accomplishment I would like to see is getting to those root causes, addressing those root causes and having that long-term plan from a public health perspective to address the root causes of the disparities in our communities. We have root causes that are being exposed and we're talking about how to address them at a broader level than just small pockets of people in some communities talking about them.''
May 30 Set For Tribal Leaders, Physicians COVID-19 Webcast
Native American leaders, including Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Brooklyn, N.Y., Borough President Eric Adams, and renowned nutrition experts from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, are coming together on May 30 to help stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2 among Native Americans, boost immunity to viruses, and treat the chronic diseases that raise the risk of complications from the virus.
In a first joint effort, the groups will lead a free, four-hour Zoom webinar on Saturday, May 30. The event is sponsored by Native Americans for Community Action (NACA), the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President, Diné Food Sovereignty Alliance and the Physicians Committee. “Cooking – And More! – To Combat COVID” will take place on Saturday, May 30, from 12 - 4 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time/ 2 - 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Learn more and register at NativePowerplate.org.
“Native people are among those hardest hit by this devastating pandemic, but there is reason for hope,” says Carrie Dallas, event organizer and project coordinator for NACA. “On Saturday, we will hear personal stories of success. Medical experts will share what they know about stopping the spread of the virus, and we will provide recipes, instruction, and more about the foods that sustained our Native ancestors, foods that help prevent and reverse underlying health conditions like type 2 diabetes.”
Brooklyn, N.Y., Borough President Eric Adams, will also speak Saturday about how he used food to lose weight and remedy type 2 diabetes. Scientific studies show that plant-based foods can help people prevent and even reverse diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.
Navajo Nation Has 2,292 Coronavirus Cases, 73 Known Deaths
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) _ Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer have finalized another agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will allow the Chinle Community Center to be used as an alternative care site to isolate positive coronavirus patients.
The move was made to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 on the vast reservation that includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
On Saturday, Navajo Department of Health officials reported 81 new coronavirus cases on the Navajo Nation but no additional deaths.
The total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 2,292 with 73 known deaths pending an update expected Sunday.
The Navajo Epidemiology Center reported that following further review, 15 cases were duplicated in a previous overall count. Therefore, the total of positive cases was reduced by 15, bringing the overall total of positive cases to 2,292.
Officials said 14,351 tests have been administered with 9,254 negative results.
The Navajo Police Department continues to enforce the tribe's weekend curfew by setting up checkpoints along roadways and issuing citations to curfew violators.
Highlights of Trump-Signed $2.2T Economic Relief Package
By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Highlights of a $2.2 trillion package to help businesses, workers and a health care system staggered by the coronavirus that President Donald Trump signed into law after the House voted final congressional approval.
-Loans and guarantees to businesses, state and local governments: $500 billion. Up to $50 billion for passenger airlines and $8 billion for air cargo carriers, half for paying workers. $17 billion for ``businesses critical to maintaining national security.`` Borrowers must be U.S.-based. Cannot repurchase outstanding stock or pay dividends until one year after borrowing is repaid, or give raises to executives earning over $425,000 annually. Must maintain employment levels of March 24, 2020, ``to the extent practicable`` through Sept. 30, and not cut jobs by over 10% from that level. Ineligible for loans if top Trump administration officials, members of Congress or their families have 20% control.
-Small businesses: Includes $350 billion in loans up to $10 million each for companies with 500 employees or fewer. Portion of loans can be forgiven if employers retain workers. Includes nonprofits, self-employed people and hotel and restaurant chains with up to 500 workers per location. Also $17 billion to help small businesses repay existing loans; $10 billion in grants for small businesses' operating costs.
-Emergency unemployment insurance: $260 billion. Weekly benefit increase of $600 for four months. Extra 13 weeks of coverage for people who have exhausted existing benefits. Also covers part-time, self-employed, gig economy workers.
-Health care: $150 billion. Includes $100 billion for grants to hospitals, public and nonprofit health organizations and Medicare and Medicaid suppliers. To spur production of needed products, gives liability protection to makers of devices like respirators. Some restrictions waived to make tele-health more accessible.
-State and local governments: $150 billion, at least $1.25 billion for smallest states.
-Direct payments to people: One-time payments of $1,200 per adult, $2,400 per couple, $500 per child. Amounts begin phasing out at $75,000 for individuals, $150,000 per couple.
-Tax breaks: Temporarily waives penalties for virus-related early withdrawals from some retirement accounts, eases required minimum annual disbursements from those accounts. Increases deductions for charitable contributions. Employers who pay furloughed workers can get tax credits for some of those payments. Postpones business payments of payroll taxes until 2021 or 2022.
-Department of Homeland Security: $45 billion for disaster relief fund to reimburse state and local governments for medical response, community services. Extends federal deadline for people getting driver's licenses with enhanced security features, called REAL ID, from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021.
-Education: $31 billion. Includes money for local school systems, higher education.
-Coronavirus: $27 billion for development of vaccines and for treatments, stockpiling medical supplies.
-Transportation: Includes $25 billion for public transit systems; $10 billion for publicly owned commercial airports, $1 billion for Amtrak.
-Veterans: $20 billion, including funds for treating veterans at VA facilities and creating temporary and mobile facilities.
-Food and agriculture: $15.5 billion for food stamps; $14 billion for supporting farm income and crop prices; $8.8 billion for child nutrition. Also money for specialty crops, livestock, food banks, farmers' markets.
-Defense: $10.5 billion, including $1.5 billion to nearly triple the 4,300 beds currently in military hospitals. Funds for states to deploy up to 20,000 members of National Guard for six months. Money cannot be used to build Trump's proposed wall along Mexican border.
-Social programs: $3.5 billion for child care and early education programs; $1 billion to help communities address local economic problems. Extra money for heating, cooling aid for low-income families and Head Start.
-Communities: $5 billion in grants to help state and local governments expand health facilities, child care centers, food banks and senior services. Extra money for programs for homeless people, low-income renters and for communities to rebuild local industries including tourism and fishing.
-Native American communities: $2 billion for health care, schools,
-Diplomacy: $1.1 billion, including $324 million to evacuate Americans and diplomats overseas. Also funds to help refugees, international disaster efforts aid.
-Elections: $400 million to help states prepare for 2020 elections with steps including expanded vote by mail, additional polling locations.
-Arts: $150 million for federal grants to state and local arts and humanities programs; $75 million for Corporation for Public Broadcasting; $25 million for Washington, D.C., Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
-Congress: $93 million, including $25 million for the House and $10 million for the smaller Senate for teleworking and other costs; $25 million for cleaning the Capitol and congressional office buildings.
Sources: Legislative text, summaries from Senate Republicans and Democrats.
California Tribe Gives $5 Million for ASU Program, Building
PHOENIX (AP) _ A California-based Native American tribe has given Arizona State University $5 million to help renovate a historic downtown Los Angeles building used by the school and set up an endowment for an Indian law program.
About half the gift from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will go toward the Herald Examiner Building. The ornate, 1914 building is part of the university's Los Angeles expansion.
The rest will go toward the endowment to support Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs that are a part of the broader Indian Legal Program at ASU's law school.
The tribe, based near the cities of San Bernardino and Highland, operates a southern California casino.
The tribe's Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena said the programs will help provide a means for tribes to achieve self-determination at a time when they're facing critical economic and governance challenges.
Maine Tribes Surprised Gov Balked at Sovereignty Proposal
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ Members of a task force that proposed recommendations about tribal sovereignty in Maine said they were surprised when Gov. Janet Mills criticized the proposal.
Mills, a Democrat, has said she's concerned about the ``sweeping nature'' of the proposal. The proposal's intended to restore sovereignty to four federally recognized tribes in Maine.
Task force members said they didn't know how she felt about the proposal until last week despite working with her administration for months, the Bangor Daily News reported. Mills has voiced concerns about issues such as what the changes would mean for local governments and how federal laws would apply to tribal lands.
The task force has issued 22 recommendations that would mean major changes to state laws. Passamaquoddy Vice Chief Maggie Dana told the Bangor Daily News that Mills' reaction to the proposal was like a ``punch in the gut.''
The Mills administration has tried to prioritize improving Maine's relations with indigenous groups. That has led to changes such as the adoption of Indigenous People's Day in the state.
A spokesperson for Mills issued a statement that said the administration followed proceedings and is going to try to work through some of the governor's concerns with the task force group.
Utility Extends Aid for Navajo Workforce Scholarship Program
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ New Mexico's largest electric utility is making a $500,000 commitment to Navajo students in the Four Corners region to ensure they will continue to receive dedicated funding for future job opportunities.
Public Service Co. of New Mexico recently announced its pledge as the utility prepares to close the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington. In operation for decades, the power plant and the coal mine that feeds it have employed many tribal members and have been among the region's economic drivers.
PNM Resources CEO and President Pat Vincent-Collawn says the utility values its relationship with the Navajo Nation as it moves toward renewable energy and emissions-free generation by 2040. She says PNM is still dedicated to the success of the Navajo workforce and the agreement to fund the scholarship program demonstrates that commitment.
The initial five-year agreement was signed in 2013, and PNM fulfilled a commitment of $1 million in scholarships during that time. With the new agreement, PNM shareholders will invest another $500,000 through 2025.
To date, the workforce training scholarship program has awarded almost 700 scholarships, with 337 Navajo graduates earning their trade certificates, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees.
Noem Opposes Native American School Proposal
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) _ Proponents of creating schools in South Dakota focused on Native American language and culture have two weeks to rework their proposal after Gov. Kristi Noem opposed the initiative.
A Senate committee on Thursday deferred a bill that would create Oceti Sakowin schools that teach Lakota, Dakota and Nakota language and culture. Several teachers are trying to open schools in Native American communities that would attempt to address educational achievement gaps among Native American students.
``I see a system that isn't working and we're looking for something that is working,'' said Sage Fast Dog, an educator who is planning to open a school on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.
Parents testified about how children had struggled with their identity after facing teachers and schoolmates who were insensitive to the culture of the Oceti Sakowin, which is commonly known as Sioux.
Several representatives from Noem's office testified in opposition, saying that the current school system can incorporate cultural programs and that her office is working to improve education in Native American communities. Tiffany Sanderson, an advisor to the governor, pointed to Spanish-immersion schools as an example of alternative curriculums that are allowed.
Education Secretary Ben Jones said he would be working with the proponents in the coming weeks.
Several other education groups opposed the bill, saying the proposal would take money away from public schools and lacked specifics on who would be overseeing the schools.
Senate Minority Leader Troy Heinert, a Democrat from Mission, proposed an amendment to the bill that changed the term ``charter'' to ``community-based'' schools. He said that striking the word ``charter'' from the proposal may make it more palatable to legislators.
The Senate committee gave proponents two weeks to work with the governor's office to present amendments to the bill.
Attorney General Unveils Plan on Missing Native Americans
By MICHAEL BALSAMO and FELICIA FONSECA
PABLO, Mont. (AP) _ Attorney General William Barr announced a nationwide plan Friday to address the crisis of missing and slain Native American women as concerns mount over the level of violence they face.
Barr announced the plan, known as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative, during a visit with tribal leaders and law enforcement officials on the Flathead Reservation in Montana.
Native American women experience some of the nation's highest rates of murder, sexual violence and domestic abuse. The National Institute of Justice estimates that 1.5 million Native American women have experienced violence in their lifetime, including many who are victims of sexual violence. On some reservations, federal studies have shown women are killed at a rate more than 10 times the national average.
The Justice Department's new initiative would invest $1.5 million to hire specialized coordinators in 11 U.S. attorney's offices across the U.S. with significant Indian Country caseloads. The coordinators would be responsible for developing protocols for a better law enforcement response to missing persons cases.
Montana's coordinator, a former FBI agent, already has started in his position.
Tribal or local law enforcement officials would also be able to call on the FBI for additional help in some missing indigenous persons cases. The FBI could then deploy some of its specialized teams, including investigators who focus on child abduction or evidence collection and special agents who can help do a quick analysis of digital evidence and social media accounts.
The Justice Department also committed to conducting an in-depth analysis of federal databases and its data collection practices to determine if there are ways to improve the gathering of information in missing persons cases.
``This is not a panacea,'' Barr told tribal council members of the Salish and Kootenai Confederated Tribes at an event where members presented him with a blue blanket before a traditional musical performance. ``This is a step in the right direction, but we have a lot more work to do working together.''
Barr said he spoke to President Donald Trump about the initiative, which calls for some of the same things already in legislation pending in Congress. He also spoke to tribal leaders about how a surge in methamphetamine use may be influencing violence in Indian Country.
On the nation's largest Native American reservation, tribal members welcomed the extra resources and commitment to the issue but questioned how far the money will go, given how widespread the problem is.
``This is stuff we've been advocating for, it's just funding a slice of it,'' said Amber Crotty, a lawmaker on the Navajo Nation.
Crotty pointed out that the hiring of 11 coordinators assigned to federal prosecutor offices nationally as outlined by Barr could have limited value on the Navajo Nation, which is part of three separate U.S. attorney jurisdictions in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
She said tribes are looking to the federal government to fund advocates who can greet families of victims, relay information from law enforcement and provide training. She said tribal communities have resorted to organizing their own search parties and posting fliers in communities and on social media when someone goes missing because they sometimes get little or no response from law enforcement.
The extent of the problem of missing and murdered Native American women is difficult to know because of the dysfunction surrounding the issue.
An Associated Press investigation last year found that nobody knows precisely how many Native American women have gone missing or have been killed nationwide because many cases go unreported, others aren't well documented, and no government database specifically tracks them.
A report released last year by the Urban Indian Health Institute said there were 5,712 cases of missing and murdered indigenous girls in 2016, but only 116 of those cases were logged in a Justice Department database.
That study is limited in scope, however.
The report by the Seattle nonprofit reflected data from 71 U.S. cities not on tribal land. Researchers said they expect their figures represent an undercount because some police departments in cities with substantial Native American populations _ like Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Billings, Montana _ didn't respond to records requests or Native Americans were identified as belonging to another race.
Members of Congress asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office in May to review jurisdictional challenges, existing databases, federal policies, law enforcement staffing and notification systems and make recommendations for improvement. The office said the work is under way.
Bills in Congress seek to address the crisis, and a half-dozen states have vowed to study the problem.
Meanwhile, activists have held rallies at state capitols, marched in the streets, put up memorials and billboards, bought television advertising and created exhibits with space for prayer offerings to draw attention to missing indigenous women.
The movement has featured women with a red hand print over their mouths, in what activists say is a symbol of the silencing of indigenous women.
Curtison Badonie with the New Mexico-based Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women said the Justice Department's plan is a positive move in seeking justice for indigenous women and girls, and their grieving families and communities.
``Finally, they're moving forward with this and they're taking our existence seriously and are listening and knowing our sisters, our aunties, our grandmas, our nieces are important,'' Badonie said. ``They are sacred, they are human beings. We feel hopeful. We feel seen.''
But Badonie said: ``We want to see that this continues, that this is not going to be just a one-time thing.''
Tribal police and investigators from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs generally serve as law enforcement on reservations, which are sovereign nations. But the FBI investigates certain offenses if either the suspect, victim or both are Native American. If there's ample evidence, the Justice Department prosecutes major felonies such as murder, kidnapping and rape if they happen on tribal lands.
Fonseca reported from Flagstaff, Arizona.
Stars Advocate for Progress at Honorary Oscars Event
By LINDSEY BAHR
AP Film Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Inequality in the film industry got a high-profile spotlight at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 11th annual Governors Awards, where Cherokee actor Wes Studi, Italian director Lina Wertmuller and filmmaker David Lynch all received honorary Oscars on Sunday.
Dire statistics _ like the fact that Studi is the first Native American actor to get an Oscar, that only five women have ever been nominated for best director and that gender inequality is still an issue in front of the camera, too _ existed well before the stars gathered in the heart of Hollywood for the untelevised dinner event. But there is nothing quite like seeing Jane Campion stand beside Greta Gerwig _ two of the five female directing nominees in Oscars history _ and count, by 10s, the number of men who have been nominated for best director. She got up to 350.
The film academy's president, David Rubin, said there is no agenda when the 54-member board of governors selects the honorary Oscar recipients, but this year seemed to correct a few wrongs and could even signal a more promising future.
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Geena Davis asked everyone in the room to not make another movie without doing a ``gender and diversity pass'' on the script first.
While toasting Studi, his ``The New World'' and ``Hostiles'' co-star, Christian Bale noted native and indigenous people have been underrepresented on both sides of the camera but ``we're in a room full of people who can change that.''
Indeed, the Governors Awards crowd is a powerful one, featuring A-list stars, directors, producers and executives populating nearly every table: Leonardo DiCaprio, Quentin Tarantino, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, Sony Pictures Chairman Tom Rothman, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Amy Pascal were just a few of the power players in the audience.
The event has become an informal and low-pressure stop for awards hopefuls, and this year was no different, with various cast members and filmmakers behind ``Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,'' ``Little Women,'' ``Booksmart,'' ``Dolemite Is My Name,'' ``Joker,'' ``Marriage Story,'' ``Hustlers,'' ``Rocketman,'' ``Pain and Glory'' and ``A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood'' in attendance.
Even Jamie Foxx, who kicked off the evening, noted the number of big movie stars in this year's highest-profile films, calling on Tom Hanks and DiCaprio to stand up and make their presence known. Hanks did a little dance, while DiCaprio stood and gave a wave to the room. He even made Eddie Murphy come all the way up to the stage only to admit that he didn't have anything planned beyond that. Foxx just wanted to congratulate him on ``Dolemite.''
``If you really enjoy cinema this year is a special year,'' Foxx said. ``Nothing against the newcomers ... but when you see your heroes giving such great work it just feels great.''
And indeed, many chose to greet their fellow creatives instead of sitting and eating dinner before the presentations began. Gerwig could be seen speaking with Pedro Almodovar, while ``Rocketman'' director Dexter Fletcher said hello to Robert Pattinson and Saoirse Ronan embraced her ``Little Women'' mother Laura Dern.
But all eyes turned attentively to the stage for the main event, where standing ovations were common and, in the case of Lynch, sometimes even longer than the speeches.
Dern, Isabella Rossellini and Kyle MacLachlan all delivered heartfelt remarks about their beloved director, who MacLachlan said exhibits the same amount of excitement in making a perfect sandwich as dreaming up a new film.
But the 73-year-old ``Blue Velvet'' and ``Mulholland Drive'' director kept his remarks brief, thanking the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the honor, ``And to all the people who helped me along the road.''
``You have a very interesting face,'' Lynch said, before closing with a simple: ``Good night.''
His fellow honorees took a bit more time with their Oscars. Studi, for one, wasn't about to cut his historic moment short.
``It's about time,'' the 71-year-old actor said. ``I'm proud to be here tonight as the first native, indigenous American to receive an Academy Award.''
DiCaprio stood twice to applaud Studi, taking out his phone to film the actor proudly holding his Oscar.
There have been only a handful of indigenous people nominated for Oscars. In 1982, Cree musician Buffy Sainte-Marie, who was born in Canada, won an Oscar for co-writing the music to best song winner ``Up Where We Belong.''
Q'orianka Kilcher, who acted with Studi in ``The New World,'' said he ``revolutionized how indigenous peoples are portrayed in cinema, showing us all what is possible.''
Wertmuller, another trailblazer in film for being the first woman to ever be nominated for best director for ``Seven Beauties'' in 1977, was praised by the likes of Tarantino and Scorsese, as well as three of her fellow female directing nominees including Campion, Gerwig and Sofia Coppola.
``I ate her films,'' Gerwig said of Wertmuller. ``Her films turned me into an addict.''
Jodie Foster, in a video tribute, said she didn't even realize women could be directors before she learned about Wertmuller.
The petite 91-year-old filmmaker barely cleared the microphone as she stood on stage to accept the Oscar, which she tapped on the head and said, through Rossellini who was translating, that she wanted to rename Anna.
``Next time, please, not only the Oscar, but a female Oscar,'' Wertmuller said. ``Women in the room please scream, `We want Anna the female Oscar.'''
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr
Braves Plan to Discuss Tomahawk Chop with American Indians
ATLANTA (AP) _ Atlanta Braves officials say they plan to have talks with Native Americans about the Tomahawk Chop chant that has drawn complaints and stoked controversy during the Major League Baseball post-season.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports team representatives will hold talks during the offseason about the chant.
The Braves did not distribute their traditional red foam tomahawks to fans before Game 5 of their NL Division Series vs. the St. Louis Cardinals Oct. 9. Fans at SunTrust Park raise the tomahawks and thrust them forward in a chopping motion, led by music and graphics on the video boards.
The Braves removed the tomahawks for the final game of their series with St. Louis after Cardinals pitcher and Cherokee Indian Ryan Helsley said he finds the chant insulting.
DOJ Hires Missing Persons Specialist, Grant Coordinator
HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Montana's Department of Justice has hired two people to oversee efforts to better report and track missing persons cases
Attorney General Tim Fox announced MonDAY that former Glacier County Deputy Sheriff Misty LaPlant is the agency's new missing person's specialist. She is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe and was a police officer on the reservation.
Tina Chamberlain of Helena is coordinator of the Looping In Native Communities, or LINC, grant program. She is a former grants coordinator with the Montana Bureau of Crime Control.
Lawmakers created both positions along with the Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force, which is working to identify barriers to local, state, federal and tribal agencies working together on missing persons cases.
The task force will award grants to tribal colleges to better track missing Native Americans.
Navajo Nation Eyes Renaming U.S. Highway After Late Senator
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) _ Some Navajo Nation officials want New Mexico to rename a U.S. highway after one of the longest-serving Native American lawmakers in U.S. history.
A Navajo Nation legislative committee is requesting that New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham name U.S. 491 in honor of the late state Sen. John Pinto, the Farmington Daily Times reports .
Pinto, who died in May at 94, had long sought to turn the deadly U.S. 666 into a four-lane highway and to change its name to U.S. 491.
The road was nicknamed the ``Devil's Highway'' because of the significance the number 666 has for many Christian evangelicals and because of the number of people killed in traffic crashes. The highway is featured in the movies ``Natural Born Killers'' and ``Repo Man.''
The highway was named one of the 20 most dangerous in the country in 1997.
Pinto was among the state legislators and Navajo leaders who lobbied for the name change. Now, Navajo Nation Council Delegate Mark Freeland is sponsoring a bill to honor Pinto and memorialize his legacy by adding Pinto's name to signage.
``It'll be an ultimate tribute to him,'' he said. ``I hope the state gives it some consideration.''
U.S. 491 stretches about 195 miles (310 kilometers) from Gallup, New Mexico, through Colorado to Monticello, Utah.
Pinto was a Navajo Code Talker during World War II and served over four decades in the state Legislature. The tribe celebrated the hundreds of Navajos who served as radiomen in the war during an annual event that included a parade, speech and a gourd dance.
Lujan Grisham's office stopped short of endorsing the proposal for the highway last week but signaled the governor would be open to the discussion.
``The governor certainly recognizes the need to appropriately honor a singular public servant and statesman like Sen. Pinto and will always be open to exploring ways to do that,'' spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said.
Any renaming of the highway would involve a formal request and a formal proposal written up by the department, said Marisa Maez, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation. It would be then have to be presented to a state commission and approved by the Navajo Nation Council.
Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.daily-times.com
Tribal Leaders, Lawmakers Mull Changes To Tribal Sovereignty
By MARINA VILLENEUVE
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ Tribal leaders and lawmakers in Maine have begun to work together on potential reforms to a 1980 agreement in hopes of spurring economic development and addressing health, educational and social inequities on reservations across the state.
Members of the group want to start tackling such broad issues by focusing on a few specific recommendations this year, at a time when tribal leaders and new Democratic Gov. Janet Mills are trying to address decades of tense tribal-state relations. Task force chair Democratic Sen. Michael Carpenter said the group is next set to meet Aug. 9, and is set to release a report in December.
During the task force's first Monday meeting, tribal leaders said disputes over the sovereignty of Maine tribes has meant their communities have long faced too many barriers when trying to tackle issues from domestic violence to tribal-run gambling on their land.
``Every single time we try to do something within our reservation territories for economic growth, we get shot down,'' said Chief William Nicholas of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township.
Under the 1980 settlement, the tribes agreed to be subject to Maine's laws and jurisdiction, except for ``internal tribal matters'' and hunting and certain fishing rights on tribal lands.
The settlement has long been interpreted as requiring Congress to specifically state whether a federal law applies to Maine tribes.
For example, the 2013 reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act gave tribal courts limited authority to prosecute non-tribal members for domestic violence.
But the wording of the 1980 settlement has kept that law and many other federal laws from automatically applying to Maine tribes. Lawmakers passed a bill this year to rectify that, but it was held by Mills who plans to work on it and eventually sign it.
Tribal leaders have long argued it's time to take another look at the 1980 settlement's wording.
``It kind of puts us back in the Stone Age, not really being able to do anything,'' said Aroostook Band of Micmacs Chief Edward Peter Paul.
Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis said the agreement doesn't reflect today's reality of more tribal governments moving toward self-governance.
``I think we're all clear it's not working or we wouldn't be here,'' he said. ``Are we in a place to recognize the inherent sovereignty of the tribe? What would make the state uncomfortable about that?''
Chief Clarissa Sabattis, of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, said tribes in other states often help to bring up struggling communities. ``I don't want to have to become a municipality to enjoy those rights that should be ours inherently,'' she said.
Vice Chief Maggie Dana of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik said tribes should be consulted before Maine passes new laws that impact their communities.
``The tribes just want to flourish and not be limited,'' she said.
Pioneering Native American Author Honored With Peace Prize
By DAN SEWELL
CINCINNATI (AP) _ A Native American author whose writings have highlighted his indigenous culture is this year's winner of a lifetime achievement award celebrating literature's power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.
Dayton Literary Peace Prize officials selected novelist, poet and essayist N. Scott Momaday for the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. It's named for the late U.S. diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnia peace accords reached in Ohio.
A Kiowa Indian, Momaday earned the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for fiction with ``House Made of Dawn,'' about a young man returning to his Kiowa pueblo after serving in the U.S. Army. His 1968 book has been credited with leading a renaissance in Native American literature .
Born in 1934, Momaday grew up on reservations in the southwestern United States, where his parents were teachers.
He drew from Kiowa history and folk lore for ``The Way to Rainy Mountain'' in 1969 and wrote about the influence of ancestors and traditions in his early life in ``The Names: A Memoir'' in 1976.
Sharon Rab, founder and chairwoman of the peace prize foundation, said Momaday's work shows the ``power of ritual, imagination, and storytelling'' to produce peace through intercultural understanding and that it honors and safeguards ``the storytelling traditions of our nation's indigenous communities.''
Momaday said in a statement that peace is the objective of human evolution, and literature is the measure.
``The history of human experience is in many ways a history of dysfunction and conflict, and literature, because it is an accurate record of that history, reflects not only what is peaceful, but what is the universal hope and struggle for peace,'' he said. ``Literature and peace are at last indivisible. They form an equation that is the definition of art and humanity.''
The award carries a $10,000 prize. Previous winners include Studs Terkel, Taylor Branch, John Irving, Gloria Steinem, and Elie Wiesel.
This year's awards gala will be Nov. 3, when Momaday will be joined by the 2019 winners of awards for fiction and nonfiction who will be announced Sept. 17.
Tribes Gain Direct Access to FBI Sex Offender Registry
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Dozens of tribes now have direct access to the FBI's National Sex Offender Registry as tribal authorities try to combat high rates of sexual violence, federal officials said.
The Justice Department announced an automated system that links a sex offender registry for tribes with the FBI's database, saying it will make information sharing seamless.
In the past, authorities had to enter the same data into the tribal sex offender registry and another federal registry if they wanted a sex offender's information to appear in both systems, said Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman.
That process could result in backlogs that kept sex offender information from quickly being shared nationwide.
More than half of Native American women have encountered sexual and domestic violence at some point during their lives, according to the most recently available federal figures. Numerous measures have been introduced at the state and federal level this year to try to address the violence.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the access to the FBI database will give tribal law enforcement officials the information they need to better prevent sex crimes.
More than 50 tribes already part of what's known as the Tribal Access Program, or TAP, will benefit from the system upgrade.
That program began in 2015 amid concerns that tribes could not enter information into federal databases to increase the chance of preventing crimes.
It allows tribes to enter data into national crime information systems and pull information from them, including missing-person reports and criminal histories.
Tribes must apply and be selected to participate in the program, which requires that they have high-speed internet access and policies in place outlining the type of tribal data that can be shared.
Haskell University Search for Next President Extended
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Federal officials are reopening the search for Haskell Indian Nations University president after an initial round of interviews failed to produce a strong candidate.
Officials with the Bureau of Indian Education said the position was reopened through Sept. 30. Agency director Tony Dearman said if the right candidate applied, he or she could be hired before Sept. 30.
The Lawrence Journal-World reports nearly 80 people applied in the first round of the search but many of them didn't have the necessary post-secondary experience.
The president's job is open after several leadership changes at Haskell beginning in November 2018, when then-President Venida Chenault left for a special assignment with the BIE.
The federal agency will appoint someone soon to be acting president for up to one year.
Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com
State: Did Flint Find Human Remains By Indian Burial Ground?
FLINT, Mich. (AP) _ Michigan officials are questioning if crews digging water service lines in Flint near an American Indian burial ground found human remains after an inspector found work was being conducted without an archaeologist.
The Flint Journal reports the inquiry in a June 18 letter from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to Flint Public Works Director Robert Bincsik.
The work appears to have been done without required professional oversight, violating an agreement between the state, Flint and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan.
The letter asks for details and plans for future work.
City spokeswoman Candice Mushatt says no human remains were found and the city is seeking an archaeologist so excavation can continue.
Bincsik and a Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe spokeswoman couldn't be reached for comment.
Information from: The Flint Journal, http://www.mlive.com/flint
Oglala, Cheyenne River Tribes To Operate Most Of Hospital
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ The Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes are set to take over most of the management of Sioux San Hospital in Rapid City from the federal Indian Health Service.
The Indian Health Service and Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board signed an agreement on May 31. The transfer is scheduled for July 21. The Indian Health Service will continue to provide health care at the hospital.
The Indian Health Service says it recognizes that tribal leaders and members ``are in the best position to understand the health needs and priorities of their communities.''
In December, the Indian Health Service said it was terminating negotiations over hospital management after the Rosebud Sioux Tribe dropped its support of the transfer to the health board.
The Rapid City Journal reports the hospital is set to undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com
Last Remaining Akwesasne Mohawk Code Talkers Dies
Louis Levi Oakes, January 23, 1925 - May 28, 2019
REGIS INDIAN RESERVATION, N.Y. (AP) _ The last of the remaining Mohawk "code talkers'' who were belatedly honored for their World War II service has died at age of 94.
The WWNY-TV reports that Louis Levi Oakes's funeral was held Saturday, June 1st, on the Mohawk reservation, which straddles the U.S.-Canadian border.
The Press-Republican of Plattsburgh report s that Oakes was one of 17 Akwesasne (og-wuh-SAHZ'-nee) Mohawks to receive the Congressional Silver Medal for his military contributions as a Native American code talker in 2016. Code talkers used their various native languages for military communications.
The newspaper said the Silver Star recipient served in the Army for six years and saw action in the South Pacific, New Guinea and Philippines theatres.
Oakes kept his role as a code talker secret for decades, even to relatives.
Montana Capitol to Install Monument to Native Americans
HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Montana will install a permanent monument on the state Capitol grounds recognizing Native American contributions to the state and nation.
Gov. Steve Bullock held a ceremonial signing of legislation to erect a monument and display the flags of the state's eight recognized Native American tribes.
The bill's sponsor, Democratic Rep. Marvin Weatherwax of Browning, called it a big honor and "well overdue.''
Bullock says the monument will be a symbol of respect and understanding, and a recognition that the Capitol belongs to everybody.
The measure was part of a package of bills Bullock signed dealing with Native American issues, including legislation meant to improve the response to reports of missing American Indian women.
Bullock, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, spent the day meeting with tribal leaders.
Congressional Medal of Honor Museum Planned in Rapid City
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ A Rapid City man who wrote a book about Congressional Medal of Honor recipients is now opening a museum to honor them.
John L. Johnson's museum will open Aug. 1 at the Rushmore Mall. It will have individual plaques for the more than 3,500 people recognized for valor in combat with the nation's highest military honor, along with seating areas for reflection and contemplation.
Johnson, who works as a research coordinator for the public school district, published a book about medal recipients that was updated in 2010, ``Every Night and Every Morn: Portraits of Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, African-American, and Native-American Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.'' He believes it is important to remember and honor a part of the nation's military history that he believes is being lost.
``I felt it was something that needed to be done,'' Johnson told the Rapid City Journal. ``We simply don't know our history.''
Museum admission will be free. Johnson is funding the effort through his own money, donations and other means.
``I plan to use my own hands, my own time and most of my own money,'' he said. ``It's a personal project.''
The Congressional Medal of Honor was first bestowed upon Union soldiers in the 1860s during the American Civil War. The museum exhibits will include 4-by-6-inch photos of each recipient with name, hometown and date of receipt, arranged in chronological order starting with the Civil War and continuing through conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com
Anchorage Students Can Wear Tribal Regalia at Graduation
By TEGAN HANLON
Anchorage Daily News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Jacqueline Morris displays the sealskin cap and mukluks that her son Tigran Andrew wore during the 2018 Service High School commencement. (Bill Roth / ADN)
Tigran Andrew walked onstage last year wearing a sealskin cap with his school-issued green gown at the Service High School graduation in Anchorage.
His mother, Jacqueline Morris, had the cap made for her son, who is Yup'ik and Inupiaq, so he could carry his culture and honor his ancestors as he received his diploma.
But there were obstacles on the way to the stage.
Andrew needed permission from the principal ahead of time to wear the sealskin cap and, even then, a staff member at graduation asked him to take it off right before the ceremony started, Morris said. It took another call to the principal to check permissions before Andrew could get his diploma, with the sealskin cap propped squarely on his head, his sealskin stole draped around his neck and his sealskin mukluks on his feet.
It meant a lot to Andrew and his family, Morris said, but ``it was an uphill battle all the way.''
The battle has played out in other states, too, as students try to incorporate traditional regalia, such as feathers and beaded caps, into their graduation ceremonies, sometimes butting heads with dress codes.
Morris, an affable 49-year-old mother of four, said she didn't want her younger daughter and future grandchildren to have to fight to wear their Native regalia at Anchorage School District graduation ceremonies.
So with the help of her family and the district's Native Advisory Committee, she started pushing for change. Nearly a year later, she got it.
Starting this year, Anchorage graduates can wear traditional tribal regalia and objects of cultural significance at their graduation ceremonies. School district administrators approved the new regulation last month.
``I think we have one of the most diverse school districts in the country and really, for us, I think it's important to recognize that,''said Kersten Johnson-Struempler, the district's senior director of secondary education. ``I'm excited to see how students express themselves at graduation this year.''
Before, high school principals generally oversaw enforcement of graduation guidelines, with the goal of maintaining a respectful and non-disruptive atmosphere, Johnson-Struempler said. That usually meant students couldn't alter their caps and gowns, but there wasn't a districtwide policy.
``We didn't want cuss words or symbols that offended people, so we were pretty strict about it for that reason,'' Johnson-Struempler said.
The new regulation comes with limits. Students can't replace the standard, school-issued cap and gown. Any adornments can't include letters, numbers or written phrases, according to the regulation. Students must also provide the district with a written notice by May 1 about what items they plan to wear.
Under the regulation, for example, students can wear leis or add sealskin or beadwork to their graduation caps, Johnson-Struempler said. But they can't replace their graduation cap with a headdress.
Morris and other advocates of the new regulation said they're happy to see progress made.
``It's a long time coming, and it makes my heart very happy,'' said Doreen Brown, the district's senior director for Title VI Indian Education.
Morris played a ``huge role'' in getting the new regulation approved, said Johnson-Struempler.
``I think she's done all the right stuff,'' she said. ``What I appreciate about her advocacy is it's not just about her kids, it's about the Alaska Native community.''
On a recent weekday evening, Morris and her 16-year-old daughter Nyche Andrew, a sophomore at Service High, sat at their kitchen table in South Anchorage, recounting the past year of work.
After the 2018 graduation ceremony, Morris said, she knew she wanted to ask the school district to fix its rules, but she didn't know where to start.
She first reached out to Western Native Voice, a social justice organization based in Montana. Montana is one of the few states with a law that protects Native Americans' right to wear traditional regalia during public events, including high school graduations.
Morris had questions about what led to the law, and what she could do to impact policy in Anchorage schools. The organization told her she would need a group of voices behind her, Morris said.
That sparked months of advocacy. Morris and her teenage daughter testified in front of the Anchorage School Board and joined the school district's Native Advisory Committee. With other committee members, they stuffed hundreds of envelopes to politicians, Alaska Native corporations and villages, Morris said.
``There were times when I didn't think it would happen because it just felt like we'd get nos all the time,'' Morris said.
Morris also helped call other school districts to learn about their policies.
Of Alaska's next three biggest school districts, just the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has a districtwide regulation that says graduates can wear ``cultural designators,'' including feathers, beaded headbands and tartan items. The school districts based in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and on the Kenai Peninsula don't have written, districtwide policies about traditional regalia, according to school officials. The Juneau School District also doesn't have a districtwide policy, but students often wear culturally significant items such as patterned stoles and leis, said Kristin Bartlett, chief of staff for the district.
Anchorage's new regulation, announced to parents this month in messages from the district, is leading some students to prepare now for their ceremonies in May.
Charitie Ropati, a 17-year-old senior at Service High and a member of the Native Advisory Committee, said she plans to wear have her graduation cap and gown adorned with beading. Ropati also helped push for the new regulation.
``We've always had to conform to Western standards and it's important when we do walk across that stage, we can wear our Native regalia,'' said Ropati, who is Yup'ik, Samoan and Mexican.
Ropati said she's glad the regulation is inclusive of all groups. She has talked with enthusiastic friends who are Chinese and Latino about ways they're going to incorporate their culture into their graduation attire.
Ropati, Morris and Andrew also said that they're hopeful celebrating Alaska Native culture at graduation ceremonies will be a factor in improving academic success, including increasing graduation rates.
``When I graduate I want younger Native students to see me in something that's familiar to them and their family and their culture,'' Andrew said. ``I want them to feel inspired.''
Last school year in the Anchorage School District, the four-year graduation rate for Alaska Native and American Indian students was about 64 percent _ up from 47 percent in 2014, but still the lowest among racial and ethnic subgroups in the district, according to data from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. Among all of the Anchorage students in the Class of 2018, 81 percent graduated in four years.
Morris said she's really happy about the new regulation, but she's not done advocating yet.
She'd like Alaska to have a statewide law similar to Montana that says students can wear regalia at their graduations. At the district level, she wants the regulation changed so her daughter can wear her Yup'ik headdress when she graduates in 2021. That's not allowed now.
The regulation has also received some pushback for requiring students to fill out notification forms.
Andrew said it's demeaning to have to ask for permission to wear traditional regalia. Johnson-Struempler said it's a way to make sure students aren't violating the restrictions.
``Remember, these are big events. There are lots of kids. There are lots of families. We want to make sure it's not disruptive,'' Johnson-Struempler said.
Johnson-Struempler said the district debated whether students could wear headdresses, ``but we wanted to start in small baby steps.''
``They're not giving us everything, but it's a start,'' Morris said. ``I am still grateful for our win.''
Even nearly a year later, as Morris talked about watching her son cross the stage in his sealskin cap to get his high school diploma, she got goosebumps. She was just so proud, she said, and she knows her ancestors were too. She can now share that feeling with more families of more graduates.
``They're honoring their past while stepping into the future,'' she said, ``and they're bringing their culture with them.''
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com
Louisiana Spring Festival to Feature Poverty Point
OAK GROVE, La. (AP) _ A spring festival in northeast Louisiana festival will celebrate will celebrate the Poverty Point World Heritage Site instead of sweet potatoes.
The prehistoric complex of Indian mounds known as Poverty Point in West Carroll Parish was made a UNESCO world heritage site in 2014. It was named after a nearby 19th century plantation but was created and used between 3,700 and 3,100 years ago and is about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of Oak Grove, where the festival is held.
``Since becoming designated as a World Heritage Site in 2014 it has seen a sizeable increase in visitors from all over the world. We look forward to celebrating the culture that was begun at this site and its contributions to our state and nation as a whole,'' West Carroll Chamber of Commerce president Rebecca Kovac Elliott said in a news release.
The rebranded Poverty Point World Heritage Festival has tentative dates next year of March 26-29. The Lamb Weston North Louisiana Sweet Potato Festival will move to the first weekend in October, during harvest season.
``This is something that I have been lobbying for, for many years. There are very few places that have the honor of claiming a world heritage site as their own,'' Oak Grove Mayor Adam Holland said.
The chamber said it will keep the festival midway and other familiar attractions but might add cooking demonstrations from Poverty Point and get local Native American tribes involved.
``We are still in the very early planning stages of how we want this event to evolve, and are looking for input and volunteers to make this largest and best festival in the region,'' Holland said.
The spring festival is associated with the Spring Bluegrass Festival at the Lingo Community Center, and the October sweet potato festival will be held in conjunction with the Fall Bluegrass festival.
New Mexico Officials Eye New Film Studio near Navajo Nation
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) _ Officials in northwestern New Mexico are hoping Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs a bill that could open a film studio near the Navajo Nation.
The Farmington Daily Times reports San Juan County is waiting for the governor to sign a capital outlay bill that includes $1 million for construction of a film studio in Farmington.
New Mexico Film Office locations coordinator Don Gray says the Four Corners' distinctive terrain gives it a leg up for filmmakers pursuing a one-of-a-kind setting.
The area has been the site of film projects like ``The Lone Ranger'' and ``Transformers,'' and the television series ``Stargate Universe.''
Northwestern New Mexico officials have been trying to identify economic development opportunities as they grapple with the potential closure of the San Juan Generating Station in 2022.
Audit: Indian Affairs Agency Misspent Funds on Gift Cards
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ The North Dakota auditor says the state Indian Affairs Commission misspent nearly $8,000 on gift cards for Native American youth attending leadership conferences in 2016 and 2017.
State Auditor Joshua Gallion released the findings on Wednesday. He says the audit also reveals the Indian Affairs Commission had not conducted an annual inventory of assets including computers, cell phones, and cameras.
North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission Executive Director Scott Davis says his agency believed the gift cards were given legally. He says it won't happen in the future.
Davis also says the agency is up to date on its required annual inventory.
Davis is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and serves in Gov. Doug Burgum's cabinet. He also served under former governors John Hoeven and Jack Dalrymple.
Native American Art Finally Arrives at Met's American Wing
By KATHERINE ROTH
NEW YORK (AP) _ For the first time, a major Native American art exhibit is being shown in the American Wing of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, rather than in Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas.
``Some visitors were confused about why Native American Art wasn't in the American Wing with other American works,'' says Sylvia Yount, curator in charge of the American Wing, which has been focused more on Euro-American traditions.
A major new exhibit, ``Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection,'' seeks to change that.
The Dikers recently promised 91 pieces to the museum with the understanding that they be placed in the American Wing and recognized as American rather than tribal art. The show includes many of these works, in addition to some already given to the museum. The show aims to reposition Native American art as a crucial and inextricable part of American art as a whole. (Other Native American works remain on view elsewhere in the museum, as well.)
The American Wing was established in 1924. It includes Colonial and early Federal decorative arts and architecture and other works through the early 20th century.
``The presentation in the American Wing of these exceptional works by indigenous artists marks a critical moment in which conventional narratives of history are being expanded to acknowledge and celebrate contributions of cultures that have long been marginalized,'' says the museum's director, Max Hollein.
The large show features a total of 116 works from more than 50 cultures across North America, dating from the 2nd to the 20th century. All were collected by the Dikers, who assembled their collection over 45 years. Featured are drawings, sculpture, textiles, quill and bead embroidery, basketry and ceramics.
``The Diker Collection is unusual for its level of connoisseurship,'' says Gaylord Torrence, a senior curator of American Indian Art at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. He is guest curator of the Met exhibit, which he organized with Marjorie Alexander, a curatorial consultant at The Nelson-Atkins. ``The Dikers looked for pieces that were in remarkable condition, and they had a real eye for quality.''
Although it includes some older pieces, the Dikers' collection is most notable for breathtaking objects from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. ``It is an assemblage of real masterworks, and really redefines American history and art history,'' Torrence says.
``In American Indian culture, there is enormous diversity in artistic traditions. This installation covers all of North America, and is a celebration of Native American art from many diverse cultures,'' he says.
The exhibit aims to display the works with ``openness and airiness,'' he says, ``and a sense of fluidity between cultures. They are treated as works of American art, not as a collector's cabinet or an ethnographic case that has a lot of stuff piled into it.''
Highlights include a detailed shoulder bag from around 1800 made of finely tanned and dyed deerskin and embellished with porcupine quills by an Anishinaabe woman, possibly in Ontario, Canada. A ceramic jar from a century later is by renowned Hopi-Tewa potter Nampeyo, from Hano Village, Arizona. And a huge woven basket by Washoe artist Louisa Keyser reveals the expert workmanship of the Carson City, Nevada, artist.
The curators credit individual artists when possible, and sometimes include comments by Native Americans providing more context.
The exhibit will remain on view through Oct. 6. The American Wing gallery in which it is on view will be dedicated to the display of Native American art for at least the next decade.
After viewing the ``Art of Native America,'' visitors can head upstairs to gain historical perspective at a complementary smaller exhibit. ``Artistic Encounters with Indigenous America,'' on view through May 13, explores how Native Americans were viewed by non-Native artists and photographers, from early European explorers on.
This exhibit features more than 40 works from the Met's collection, including drawings, prints, watercolors and photos. Against a backdrop of cultural destruction, these portrayals of indigenous America reflect more about the attitudes of the artists and societies that produced them than the realities of Native life.
To add needed perspective, contemporary artist Wendy Red Star (Apsaalooke/Crow) provides interpretative labels for some of the works, often with humorous and provocative insights on stereotypes of Native Americans.
In addition to the two exhibits, as part of the museum's ``Native Perspectives'' initiative, labels with Native American comments have been added to various 18th and 19th century Euro-American representations of indigenous subjects throughout the American Wing.
Alongside the famous painting ``Washington Crossing the Delaware'' by Emanuel Leutze, for instance, Alan Michelson of the Mohawk tribe, writes:
``The boatman pictured in the stern wears Native moccasins, leggings, and a shoulder pouch, and likely represents an Indigenous member of Washington's troops. Native American warriors fought, often decisively, on both sides of the war _ British and American _ according to their nation's interest. In 1778, the United States signed a treaty with the Lenape (Delaware), its first formal treaty with an Indigenous nation. The treaty recognized Delaware sovereignty, guaranteed territorial rights, and offered the possibility of Indigenous statehood. But soon a (double) crossing of the Delaware took place: persistent treaty violations by settlers and the US government culminated in the 1782 Gnadenhutten Massacre, in which a Pennsylvania militia killed ninety-six defenseless Christian Lenape. Virtually all of America's Indigenous allies suffered similar fates.''
Oregon Seeks Participants in Summer Food Program
SALEM, Ore. (AP) _ The Oregon Department of Education is seeking schools, community organizations and Native American tribes to participate in a summertime effort to provide meals and snacks to children.
The Salem Statesman Journal reports that applications are due in April for the Summer Food Service Program that distributes free, nutritious food to children up to age 18 regardless of their family's income.
The state plans to expand the outreach effort in 15 of the state's 36 counties.
Education department officials say only 12 percent of more than 307,000 eligible children participate in the summer program.
Last year 135 sponsors served nearly 1.6 million meals and snacks at 816 locations.
The program compensates schools, nonprofit organizations, local government agencies, camps, and faith-based organizations that serve food in supervised environments.
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com
Utah Cities to Help Bring Electricity to More Navajos
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Several Utah municipal governments are planning to send city workers this spring to help the Navajo Utility Tribal Authority bring electricity to members of the Navajo Nation who have waited for years.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the test project is expected to get electricity to about 200 families. An estimated 60,000 people on the Navajo Nation live without electricity.
The Salt Lake City suburb of Murray became the latest to join then project called ``Light Up Navajo'' when its City Council voted to participate at a recent meeting.
Other cities that plan to join include: Heber, Lehi, St. George, Santa Clara and Washington.
Murray will send four workers and two utility trucks for a week in May at a cost to the city of about $26,000.
``These people down there haven't had electricity ever in their lives,'' said Blaine Haacke, Murray's power manager. ``It's kind of a daunting fact to string wires of line out to a small community out there. But man, to see that power come on for the first time is going to be pretty cool, I think.''
One of the most difficult parts of not having electricity is not being able to store fresh food, said Deenise Becenti, a spokeswoman with the Navajo Utility Tribal Authority. Most people without electricity keep it in coolers and have to continually fill them with ice.
The tribally owned energy organization was created in 1959 but has struggled amid the high costs of connecting isolated rural households to the grid and the scarcity of government loans.
``Our initial hope has been answered in that utilities are answering the call to send crews here to the Navajo Nation,'' Becenti said.
South Dakota Group Wants to Rescind Wounded Knee Medals
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ A South Dakota group is pushing to rescind medals awarded for the Wounded Knee Massacre following a tweet by President Donald Trump.
Four Directions Inc. sent letters to Trump and other federal officials last week, asking for the removal of 20 medals awarded to soldiers who took part in the 1890 massacre that killed an estimated 250 Native Americans, including many women and children.
The Rapid City Journal reports the group wants language rescinding the medals included in the next National Defense Authorization Act.
Trump made light of the Wounded Knee massacre in a tweet last month. The tweet mocked a video from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential hopeful Trump has mocked for her claim to Native American ancestry.
South Dakota's congressional delegation also criticized the Trump tweet.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com
New State Capitol Exhibit Highlights New York's Diversity
By CHRIS CAROLA
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Four years after Englishman Henry Hudson and his Dutch crew sailed the ship Half Moon up a North American river that would later bear his name, a Portuguese-African sailor born in the Caribbean arrived at what is now Manhattan and traded with Native Americans.
It was 1613, and the place that would eventually be known as New York was on its way to becoming a melting pot of races, cultures and religions. Juan Rodriguez _ or Jan Rodrigues, as he was known to the Dutch _ was believed to be the first non-native settler of what is now New York City. His story is part of a new exhibit at the state Capitol on 400-plus years of immigration and assimilation in New York state.
Located in the East Gallery of the Capitol's second floor, the yearlong ``People of New York'' exhibit features six sections that explore themes illustrating how diversity began in New York and continues today, from the American Indian tribes who first populated the region thousands of years ago to more recent arrivals seeking asylum from oppressive regimes or violence in their homelands.
The exhibit opens at a time when the Trump administration ``continues to fan the flames of division,'' Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. The Democrat added the exhibit honors the contributions of leaders from diverse backgrounds ``who made an indelible mark on their communities and the entire state.''
Upon entering the gallery, visitors are greeted by an array of life-sized black-and-white photographs of immigrants, descendants of immigrants and New Yorkers whose work aided societal changes. Among the real-life people depicted in the images mounted in acrylic frames are a Jewish family who settled in New York after fleeing Nazi Germany; Jinah Kim, a South Korean immigrant who owns a restaurant in Troy; and Alejandro del Peral, founder of Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany, whose father emigrated from Spain.
``We now employ more than 15 people from at least seven different countries, and we're all proud to call upstate New York our home,'' Kim said.
Accompanying displays include contemporary Native American artwork, photographs of historical figures and archival material detailing how the efforts of European settlers, enslaved and freed blacks, and newcomers from around the world turned a Dutch colony with a reputation for tolerance and free enterprise into what is today the Empire State.
The exhibit also spotlights New York's roles in various social justice movements _ abolitionism, women's rights, civil rights _ and how many of the key players either hailed from the state or accomplished noteworthy deeds while living here, including Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Jackie Robinson.
Other displays show how Ellis Island served as the nation's busiest immigration portal for decades and how legislation passed in Albany and Washington led the way for a more inclusive society for everyone from newly arrived immigrants to members of the LGBTQ community.
Warren Struggles to Move Past Native American Controversy
By ELANA SCHOR
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Elizabeth Warren is on the verge of launching a campaign about her vision for the future. But first, she's explaining her past.
The Massachusetts Democrat apologized again for claiming Native American identity on multiple occasions early in her career. The move followed a report that she listed her race as ``American Indian'' _ in her own handwriting _ on a 1986 registration card for the Texas state bar.
By providing fresh evidence that she had personally self-identified her race, the document resurrected the flap just as she's trying to gain momentum for her presidential bid.
Cherokee Nation: Elizabeth Warren Apologized for DNA Test
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Cherokee Nation says Sen. Elizabeth Warren has apologized for taking a DNA test to push back against President Donald Trump's taunts about her claim of Native American heritage.
Tribe spokeswoman Julie Hubbard said Friday that the Massachusetts Democrat and likely 2020 presidential contender had apologized ``for causing confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and the harm that has resulted.''
Warren released her DNA test results in October as evidence she had Native American in her bloodline, albeit at least six generations back. She had previously said her Native American roots were part of ``family lore.''
The Cherokee Nation complained then that tribal nations, not DNA tests, determine citizenship and that Warren was ``undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.''
Warren's campaign declined to comment Friday.
Program Using Storytelling Events to Save Navajo Language
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) _ A group of Navajo Nation elders is using traditional storytelling to try to pass down their native language to the next generation.
The Dine Council of Elders for Peace recently launched a campaign around storytelling events in Gallup, New Mexico, as a way to keep youth in New Mexico and Arizona engaged in the Navajo language, the Gallup Independent reports.
Organizers plan events around storytelling, games and star-gazing.
Dine Council of Elders for Peace member Mary Jane Harrison said the younger generation has lost much of the Navajo language. But, she says, telling stories is important because the stories also contain real-life lessons
Noreen Kelly, the group's program coordinator, said members hope to expand the events and make them more convenient for younger tribal members to attend.
During a winter storytelling session earlier this month, Harrison shared stories that have transcended generations of her family. A winter storm caused low attendance but Kelly said organizers were still experimenting with times and locations to draw in more youth.
Kelly said Dine elders often gathered during the winter to tell stories to youth. Dine is the Navajo name meaning ``the people.'' Winter, according to Navajo culture, is when families pay respect to the snow around them by remaining reverent and still.
``We are entrusted as Natives to have oral history, and we're given the challenge of remembering all these stories verbatim,'' Kelly said. ``That's what was given to us.''
One of the stories that Harrison told was a story about the tribe's sacred mountains.
``The way the mountains were set _ in the underworld _ as we (Navajos) were emerging, water was coming up, so people kept moving up and moving up, and when they came to a certain area, everybody sat in a circle,'' Harrison said.
``That individual had a medicine bundle and brought the mountains back up,'' she said. ``This story teaches us that everywhere you go there's a dilemma that sometimes we cannot overcome.''
Information from: Gallup Independent, http://www.gallupindependent.com
Catholic Student Says He Didn't Disrespect Native American
By JOHN MINCHILLO
PARK HILLS, Ky. (AP) _ A Catholic high school student whose close encounter with a Native American activist and a black religious sect was captured on video in Washington, D.C. says he has nothing to apologize for.
Nick Sandmann told NBC's ``Today'' show on Wednesday that he had every right to be there, as did the others who gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial. He said he wasn't disrespectful and was trying to stay calm under the circumstances.
Videos posted of Sandmann and his classmates wearing ``Make America Great Again'' hats and facing off against Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips have sparked widespread criticism. But the various sides say they've been misunderstood and that snippets of video were taken out of context.
Many saw the white teenagers, who had traveled to Washington for an anti-abortion rally, appearing to mock the Native Americans. Others interpreted Phillips' drumming and singing as a hostile act. Phillips has since explained that he was trying to intervene between the boys and a group of black street preachers who were shouting racist insults at both the Native Americans and the white kids.
Sandmann said he definitely felt threatened by the black men, who were calling them things like ``incest kids'' and ``bigots.''
``In hindsight, I wish we'd just found another spot to wait for our buses, but at the time, being positive seemed better than letting them slander us with all of these things.''
Sandmann said he isn't racist and for that matter, neither are his classmates.
``We're a Catholic school and it's not tolerated. They don't tolerate racism, and none of my classmates are racist people.''
Both Sandmann and Phillips have since said they were trying to keep the peace in a volatile situation. Phillips has since offered to visit the school and lead a dialogue about cultural understanding. Sandmann said he'd like to speak with him as well.
``I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I'd like to talk to him. In hindsight, I wish we could've walked away and avoided the whole thing, but I can't say that I'm sorry for listening to him and standing there.''
The boys' school reopened Wednesday under extra security measures after officials closed the campus Tuesday as a precaution.
A letter to parents sent by school officials said that if they don't feel comfortable sending their sons back to class, they will ``understand this viewpoint during this difficult time period.''
Native American Says He Tried to Ease Tensions at Mall
By JEFF KAROUB
DETROIT (AP) _ A Native American who was seen in online video being taunted outside the Lincoln Memorial said Sunday he felt compelled to get between two groups with his ceremonial drum to defuse a confrontation.
Nathan Phillips said in an interview with The Associated Press that he was trying to keep peace between some Kentucky high school students and a black religious group that was also on the National Mall on Friday. The students were participating in the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, and Phillips was attending the Indigenous Peoples March happening the same day.
``Something caused me to put myself between (them), it was black and white,'' said Phillips, who lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan. ``What I saw was my country being torn apart. I couldn't stand by and let that happen.''
Videos show a youth standing very close to Phillips and staring at him as he sang and played the drum. Other students, some in ``Make America Great Again'' hats and sweatshirts, were chanting, laughing and jeering.
Other videos also showed members of the religious group, who appear to be affiliated with the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, yelling disparaging and profane insults at the students, who taunt them in return. Video also shows the Native Americans being insulted by the small religious group as well.
The U.S. Park Police, who have authority for security on the Mall, were not taking calls from media during the partial government shutdown.
In a joint statement , the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologized and said they are investigating and will take ``appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.''
``We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips,'' the diocese statement read. ``This behavior is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.''
As of Sunday morning, Covington Catholic's Facebook page was not available and its Twitter feed was set to private. Calls to the school went unanswered Sunday.
According to the Indian Country Today website, Phillips is an Omaha elder and Vietnam War veteran who holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.
Phillips said it was a difficult end to an otherwise great day, in which his group sought to highlight injustices against native people worldwide through marching and prayer. He said his first interaction with the students came when they entered an area permitted for the Indigenous Peoples March.
``They were making remarks to each other ... (such as) `In my state those Indians are nothing but a bunch of drunks.' How do I report that?'' he said. ``These young people were just roughshodding through our space, like what's been going on for 500 years here, just walking through our territories, feeling like `this is ours.''
Nearby, the black religious activists were speaking about being the only true Israelites. Phillips said group members called the Native Americans ``sell-outs.''
Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee and Seminole tribes who is also known as Chief Quese Imc, said he had been a part of the march and was among a small group of people remaining after the rally when the boisterous students began chanting slogans such as ``make America great'' and then began doing the haka, a traditional Maori dance. In a phone interview, Frejo told the AP he felt they were mocking the dance.
One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting before Phillips and Frejo approached them.
Frejo said he joined Phillips to defuse the situation, singing the anthem from the American Indian Movement with both men beating out the tempo on hand drums.
During the incident, Phillips said he heard people chanting ``Build that wall'' or yelling, ``Go back to the reservation.'' At one point, he said, he sought to ascend to the Lincoln statue and ``pray for our country.'' Some students backed off, but one student wouldn't let him move, he added.
Although he feared the crowd could turn ugly, Frejo said he was at peace singing despite the scorn. He briefly felt something special happen as they sang.
``They went from mocking us and laughing at us to singing with us. I heard it three times,'' Frejo said. ``That spirit moved through us, that drum, and it slowly started to move through some of those youths.''
Eventually, a calm fell over the gathering and it broke up.
The videos prompted a torrent of outrage online. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that the footage ``brought me to tears,'' while actor Chris Evans tweeted that the students' actions were ``appalling'' and ``shameful.''
Covington Catholic High School, in the northern Kentucky city of Park Hills, was quiet Sunday as the area remained snow-covered with temperatures in the teens. The all-male school, which has more than 580 students, appeared deserted with an empty police car parked in front of the building.
The private school's website describes its mission as being ``to embrace the Gospel message of Jesus Christ in order to educate students spiritually, academically, physically and socially.''
Associated Press writer Lisa Cornwell in Park Hills, Kentucky, contributed.
Students Seen Mocking Native Americans Could Face Expulsion
By ADAM BEAM and BRIAN MELLEY
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) _ Students at a Kentucky Catholic school who were involved in a video showing them mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial after a Washington rally could potentially face expulsion, according to the diocese.
In a joint statement , the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologized and said they are investigating and will take ``appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.''
The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky.
Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American man singing and playing a drum. Other students, some wearing Covington clothing and many wearing ``Make America Great Again'' hats and sweat shirts, surrounded them, chanting, laughing and jeering.
``We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips,'' the diocese statement read. ``This behavior is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.''
According to the Indian Country Today website, Phillips is an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.
Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee and Seminole tribes who is also known as Chief Quese Imc, said he had been a part of the march and was among a small group of people remaining after the rally when the boisterous students began chanting slogans such as ``make America great'' and then began doing the haka, a traditional Maori dance. In a phone interview, Frejo told The Associated Press he felt they were mocking the dance.
One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting before Phillips and Frejo approached them.
Frejo said he joined Phillips to defuse the situation, singing the anthem from the American Indian Movement with both men beating out the tempo on hand drums.
Although he feared a mob mentality that could turn ugly, Frejo said he was at peace singing despite the scorn. He briefly felt something special happen as they repeatedly sang the tune.
``They went from mocking us and laughing at us to singing with us. I heard it three times,'' Frejo said. ``That spirit moved through us, that drum, and it slowly started to move through some of those youths.''
Eventually a calm fell over the group of students and they broke up and walked away.
The videos prompted a torrent of outrage online. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that the footage ``brought me to tears,'' while actor Chris Evans tweeted that the students' actions were ``appalling'' and ``shameful.''
As of Sunday morning, Covington Catholic High School's Facebook page was not available and its Twitter feed was set to private.
Grand Canyon Celebrates 100 Years as a National Park in 2019
By FELICIA FONSECA
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ The first European American who reached the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon marveled at what was before him: an astounding system of canyons, profound fissures and slender spires that seemingly tottered from their bases.
The scenery wasn't enough to convince Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives that anyone would visit after his group that set out in a steamboat wrapped up an expedition in 1858.
``Ours has been the first and, doubtless, will be the last party of whites to visit this profitless locality,'' he wrote. ``It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.''
That clearly wasn't the way things worked out, and the Grand Canyon in 2019 will celebrate its 100th anniversary as a national park.
Despite a federal government shutdown that has closed some other U.S. national parks, the Grand Canyon has remained open because Arizona decided to supply money needed to keep trails, shuttles and restrooms open.
It now draws more than 6 million tourists a year who peer over the popular South Rim into the gorge a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep, navigate river rapids, hike the trails and camp under the stars.
Early explorers came on boat, foot and horseback often with the help of Native American guides. The wealthy traveled by stagecoach in a two-day trip from Flagstaff to the southernmost point on the canyon's South Rim in the 1880s.
The first passenger train rolled in from Williams in 1901, but the railroad was more interested in mining copper than carrying tourists. The automobile became the more popular way to reach the Grand Canyon in the 1930s.
Early entrepreneurs charged $1 to hike down the Bright Angel Trail used by the Havasupai people whose current-day reservation lies in the depths of the Grand Canyon, developed camping spots and built hotels. Tourists paid for drinking water, to use outhouses and for curios in a tent pitched at the South Rim.
Ralph Cameron, a prospector for whom the Navajo Nation community of Cameron is named, was one of the major opponents of naming the Grand Canyon a national park because he saw how much money could be made from tourism.
President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to create the park in 1919 but Teddy Roosevelt is credited for its early preservation as a game reserve and a national monument.
He famously said: ``Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.''
Centennial events will include Roosevelt impersonators, a historical symposium, a living history week and efforts to get visitors beyond the South Rim by showcasing lesser-known sites on social media. The park's actual birthday is Feb. 26, when a celebration is scheduled at the South Rim, with other events at other locations programmed for later in the year.
Vanessa Ceja Cervantes, one of the centennial coordinators, said the park will broadcast ranger talks, the founder's day event and other virtual tours throughout the year.
``A lot of our visitors come for the day and they're drawn here for this amazing landscape,'' she said. ``But we really want to give them reasons to stay, to learn about the geology, the natural resources, cultural or historic because there's something here for everyone.''
Visitors might even learn about the Apollo 11 astronauts who trained at the Grand Canyon, a spotted skunk there who does a handstand when it feels threatened, a commercial airline crash that spurred the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration or the story of a heart-shaped rock embedded in wall for a hotel waitress.
Before Grand Canyon became a national park, the land was home to and visited frequently by Native American tribes.
As the story goes, Spanish explorers reached the canyon in the 1540s, led by Hopi guides. They descended into the canyon but misjudged its depth and vastness, turning back before they could reach the Colorado River. Their reports likely deterred others from exploring the region for centuries.
Gertrude Smith, who works in the cultural office for the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Camp Verde, said tribes continue to revere the Grand Canyon as a place of emergence and where they forage for plants and nuts, and hunted before it became outlawed.
``People do forget the Native people were the first people to dwell in these places and use the resources,'' she said.
Wayne Ranney, the immediate past president of the Grand Canyon Historical Society, moved to Phantom Ranch to work as a backcountry ranger in 1975, a job that would create a bond with his paternal grandfather who first visited Grand Canyon National Park in 1919. He worked for the railroad and could get a roundtrip ticket for $5, Ranney said.
In the years after World War II ended, the National Park Service began to modernize places like the Grand Canyon. The gorge hit 1 million visitors annually in 1956, a number that has only grown since.
``Its popularity is never diminished,'' Ranney said. ``For most people, even though it may be crowded when they visit, they still come away with a feeling of awe.''
Lincoln Indian Center Fights to Stay in Operation
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Marshall Prichard said keeping the doors open at the Lincoln Indian Center is like flying an airplane while trying to fix it at the same time.
Prichard rejoined the center’s board of directors this summer in hopes of reviving the community center in midst of financial woes. But after discovering insurmountable unpaid bills and firing the center’s former manager, Prichard learned earlier this month that the center lost a $70,000 government grant.
Prichard told the Lincoln Journal Star that though a dire task, the center is worth fighting for, because the community “thinks this place is important.”
The center, which helps feeds the elderly and provide value to the Native American community, is now fundraising and trying to rebuild its reputation in the community.
When he served as director in the 1970s, Prichard helped move the center to its current home north of Memorial Stadium. He remembers the center drawing more than 150 community members and employing at least 100 people. Now, the center has two full-time employees, one part timer and about $140,000 worth of debt.
Georgiana Ausan, appointed as the center’s interim executive director in October, said the recently lost $70,000 grant kept the heat on, lights running and trash out. A full-time administrator role for the center’s food program was cut with the loss of the grant as well.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services also terminated the Lincoln Indian Center’s role as the administrator and distribution site for the federal Commodities Supplemental Food Program. The department cited “irregularities in the financial practices and concerns about organizational capacity that have recently come to light.”
The food program — in partnership with the Food Bank of Lincoln — has been helping feed eligible senior citizens in the area for decades. The Food Bank’s director, Scott Young, said he would rather the program stay the same, “but we see the needs these seniors have.”
Ausan acknowledged that the public’s trust in the center is broken, but she said “it’s really important we keep the public aware as much as possible of what’s going on, going forward, and what are we going to do to get out of this mess.”
The center received $7,500 from a pair of online fundraisers including donations by the Lincoln Community Foundation and the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. Ausan said the center is still seeking donations through the Lincoln Community Foundation so donors know their money is being spent appropriately.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com
Congress Considers Returning Land to Minnesota Tribe
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ A measure moving through Congress would return nearly 12,000 acres of land in Minnesota to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.
The measure seeks to reverse a land seizure by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs that dates back to the 1940s, The Star Tribune reported. The Senate passed the measure but it would still need the approval of the House, which has until the end of the year to act.
Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, a bill sponsor, said the goal is to return land ``that was wrongfully taken.''
The bureau incorrectly interpreted an executive order from the U.S. Department of Interior starting in 1948 and began transferring tribal land to the U.S. Forest Service without the owners' consent. Officials determined that the transfers were illegal in the 1950s, but a Supreme Court ruling later limited tribes' ability to win back the land.
``With this legislation, Congress has an opportunity to right a historic wrong by returning stewardship of these lands to ... the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe,'' said Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
The band doesn't immediately plan to change how the undeveloped land is used and people will still be allowed to hunt, fish, hike and bike in the area, said Leech Lake chairman Faron Jackson Sr.
``It will go a long way to restore our limited land base while preserving land for future generations,'' Jackson said.
The tribe is culturally and spiritually connected to the land, said LeRoy Staples Fairbanks, a representative on the Leech Lake Tribal Council.
``In a perfect world, we would ask the federal government for every inch of Leech Lake reservation to go back to its rightful owners, but now with so many different land exchanges and ownership changes, that's probably unrealistic,'' Fairbanks said. ``But the closer we get to re-solidifying this land base and righting wrongs, the closer we move toward reconciliation.''
US Supreme Court Seeks More Details in Oklahoma Case
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The U.S. Supreme Court is asking new questions in a case that will decide whether an Oklahoma-based Indian tribe retains control over a vast swath of eastern Oklahoma.
The court on Tuesday asked attorneys for both the U.S. and Muscogee (Creek) Nation to file written answers to questions in the case that involves a Native American man sentenced to death for murder in state court.
The justices specifically asked whether any statute grants the state jurisdiction over crimes committed by Indians on Indian land, and whether land can qualify as an Indian reservation in certain cases.
The order could mean that the nine-member court is divided on the case and that the justices are looking for a way to reach a decision. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch is not taking part.
Missouri Archaeological Survey Reveals Many Artifacts
FORSYTH, Mo. (AP) _ An archaeological survey at a lake in southern Missouri is revealing a wide range of artifacts.
The survey along Lake Taneycomo covers about 6,000 acres, The Springfield News-Leader reported .
The survey is part of Liberty Utilities-Empire District Electric's dam operating license renewal, which must be renewed every 30 years through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to plant manager Randy Richardson.
Richardson said there wasn't much concern about documenting the historic sites around the dam when it was built in 1913. An archaeological survey was conducted in 1992.
The Delaware and Osage tribes requested the most recent survey. A tribal member has been overseeing the digs since work began in July.
Robin Jorcke, the survey team leader with Archaeological Research Center of St. Louis, said the company has found 40 historic and prehistoric sites.
The team has found stone tools that were made by Native Americans who lived in the area from about 3,000 years ago to 1,500 years ago. They've also discovered an ink bottle from around 1900 and two medicine bottles from the 1920s.
``We look for if someone historically lived here, if we can find prehistoric chert flakes from the stone tools they made,'' Jorcke said. ``We're looking for any evidence they ever camped here or worked in this area.''
Relics and artifacts are sent to a lab for further analysis. The artifacts will then be stored with the State Historical Society of Missouri.
``If they are associated with cultural patrimony or with sacred sites with religious significance, the tribes have the right to ask for them,'' Jorcke said. ``They have to be notified about what we find.''
Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com
Trump Administration Sides with Tribes in Drilling Dispute
By MATTHEW BROWN
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ The Trump administration plans to appeal a federal court ruling that would allow oil and gas drilling on land considered sacred to Native American tribes in Montana and Canada, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Tuesday.
Zinke said it would be inappropriate to allow drilling in northwestern Montana's Badger-Two Medicine area, site of the creation story for the Blackfoot tribes. He's asked government attorneys to appeal a September ruling that reinstated a nearly 10-square-mile (26-square-kilometer) oil and gas lease in the area bordering the Blackfeet Reservation and Glacier National Park.
The lease had been cancelled under President Barack Obama at the urging of the tribes and environmentalists before it was reinstated by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.
``I have tremendous respect for the Blackfeet Nation and strongly believe resource development in these most sacred of lands would be inappropriate,'' Zinke said in a Tuesday interview with The Associated Press.
An appeal will pit Zinke's agency against an oil and gas company's development plans _ a relatively uncommon position for the pro-energy Trump administration.
Lease owner Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, had urged Zinke to uphold its drilling rights.
``I'm very disappointed,'' Solenex attorney William ``Perry'' Pendley with the Mountain States Legal Foundation. ``What Zinke is asking for is the right of a secretary of Interior to cancel any oil and gas lease at any time for any reason.''
Solenex has held the lease for more than 30 years. It has not yet drilled because of numerous bureaucratic delays within the U.S. departments of Interior and Agriculture that prompted the company to sue in 2013.
The Badger-Two Medicine area is part of the Rocky Mountain Front, a scenic expanse of forested mountains that's been subject to a long campaign to block oil and gas development and mining.
Congress in 2006 provided tax breaks and other incentives that prompted 29 leaseholders to relinquish their drilling rights, but some leaseholders declined the offers. Fifteen leases in the area were given up voluntarily by Devon Energy in 2016, and the government later canceled what had been the last two leases in the area.
Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MatthewBrownAP
Trial Under Way in Long-Running Northern Arizona Water Case
By FELICIA FONSECA
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ A trial over water rights is underway in one of the longest-running court cases in Arizona history.
The case will determine who has rights to water from the Little Colorado River basin. The claims number in the thousands and likely exceed the water available.
The trial is expected to last years. Up first is the Hopi Tribe, which will spend the next couple of months outlining its past and present water use.
The tribe is challenging an earlier court ruling that said it has no rights to the river since it doesn't cross Hopi land or to water resources off the reservation, which is landlocked by the much-larger Navajo Nation.
Here's a look at the case:
Battles over water rights are playing out across the western United States as resources dwindle because of drought and climate change.
Arizona has two major cases in the Gila River and Lower Colorado River basins, which cover about two-thirds of the state. They date to the 1970s. Some important legal questions about jurisdiction and water law have already been decided, said Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University's Morrison Institute.
``It's important to remember that we probably have more challenges embedded in our adjudications than other states,'' she says. ``For one, we have less water and we have quite a number of tribal claims.''
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
The Little Colorado River flows intermittently through the northeast corner of the state. The basin includes most of Apache County, and Navajo and Coconino counties north of the Mogollon Rim and east of Flagstaff.
More than half the land belongs to the Navajo and Hopi tribes. Without knowing how much water is available, communities can't plan for the future. And the conflicts are plentiful.
The case will determine the rights and priorities of all water users, including cities, farmers, ranchers with stock ponds and homeowners with domestic wells.
If the Hopi secure rights to water, they still have to find money to build delivery systems to tribal villages that sit atop three mesas and other tribal land.
Under a 1908 U.S. Supreme Court case known as the Winters Doctrine, the tribes have a right to as much water as needed to establish a permanent homeland regardless of whether the water continually is used.
The Hopis' arguments will be followed by the Navajo Nation. Both tribes claim federally reserved rights that include surface water and groundwater.
While roughly 15,000 entities have staked claim to water from the basin, fewer are involved in direct litigation. The Arizona Land Department, a coalition of water users, the city of Flagstaff, the Salt River Project, the U.S. government as a trustee for the tribes, the Arizona Department of Water Resources, and the Navajo and Hopi tribes are testifying and cross-examining witnesses in the Hopi portion of the trial.
Flagstaff doesn't use water directly from the river but wants to protect a future water source below a ranch it owns near the Hopi reservation.
``We're one of the largest cities in the Little Colorado River basin, so quantifying and confirming our existing and true water rights is very, very important to us,'' said Brad Hill, the city's water services director.
The current trial is focused on past and present uses of Hopi water. The Hopi say they're the top priority because they've lived in the region longer than anyone.
The tribe will argue its future needs in another phase that will begin in late 2019. Many tribal members have no running water in their homes. They practice dry farming, relying on rain to sustain crops in areas where runoff naturally would flow.
The tribe uses about 50 gallons per person daily, but it wants more than triple that to meet domestic, commercial, municipal and industrial use estimating its population will grow from 7,000 to 50,000 in the next century.
Flagstaff uses 90 gallons per capita daily. The city also uses reclaimed water.
A 1999 Arizona Supreme Court decision in the Gila River case found that tribes have a federally reserved right to groundwater, which isn't regulated in Arizona outside the state's major metropolitan areas.
The court also broadened the standard for measuring those rights so they are no longer linked solely to land that feasibly can be farmed.
``You can understand from a self-interest perspective why it's in everybody else's best interest to minimize the Hopi claim,'' said Thayne Lowe, an attorney for Hopi who is not litigating the case.
The case has been put on hold at various times for settlement talks.
The Navajo and Hopi were close to resolving their claims in 2012 with an agreement that would have provided more than $300 million for groundwater delivery projects and protection from over pumping by off-reservation users. Navajos would have received nearly three-fourths of surface water from the Little Colorado River.
But the tribes rejected federal legislation that accompanied it, and the tentative deal fell through.
The tribes vowed in 2016 to work together but have yet to come to terms.
``We have a good relationship with Hopi, but this is an area we can't seem to agree on,'' Navajo President Russell Begaye said earlier this year.
More talks are always possible.
Colin Campbell, an attorney for the Hopi, says a settlement is unlikely unless off-reservation water is part of the equation along with money to pay for infrastructure to bring that water to the tribe.
Candidates for Alaska Governor Outline Public Safety Plans
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) _ The three candidates for Alaska governor have outlined options to improve public safety in rural areas of the state.
KYUK-AM reports the three gubernatorial campaigns presented solutions after delegates attending the Association of Village Council Presidents' annual convention last week voted that public safety is the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region's top issue.
Debra Call, Democratic candidate Mark Begich's running mate, proposed cross-training urban and rural law enforcement throughout the state.
John Moller, campaign co-chair for Mike Dunleavy, says the Republican candidate wants to form a public safety team with people that served on a similar team under Gov. Sean Parnell.
Governor Bill Walker says he wants to work with Alaska tribes to address public safety in a similar manner in how the state worked with tribes to created health organizations.
Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org
Ledger Shows Intimate History of Sioux Warrior Red Hawk
By IRENE NORTH
GERING, Neb. (AP) _ Ledger books were most commonly used to keep track of accounting, but they also had another purpose. Many American Indians drew pictures and scenes from life inside their pages, creating a unique account of history. Some of that work can be seen in a temporary exhibit at the Legacy of the Plains Museum.
One such ledger drawn by Lakota Sioux Red Hawk contains colorful drawings of life as a Sioux. Many of the drawings are of himself.
``I think it's great he drew himself and not just once. He did it several times,'' Amanda Gibbs, director of the Legacy of the Plains Museum, told the Star-Herald reported. ``It's nice that it's not just drawings of his buddies.''
On loan from the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne, ``The Miller Collection of Sioux Indian Ledger Art,'' the drawings on display are actual-sized replica copies from a leather bound ledger book purchased by the Milwaukee Public Museum. The leather-bound ledger was purchased in 1900 by the Milwaukee museum.
According to the inscription inside the book, it was, ``captured from the Sioux Indians by Capt. R. Miller on Wounded Creek, South Dakota Jan. 8th, 1891, and is a history of the Ghost Dance and the shirts worn by the Indians in the Ghost Dance. Was painted by a Sioux warrior whose name was Red Hawk and is a correct History of the Book.''
Art found in these leather books was typically done in inks and crayons creating brighter and more varied coloring than the earth colors typically used in traditional leather paintings. As such the scenes are colorful, sometimes graphic, depictions of war, creating a warrior image of the Sioux fighting in battle. There are a few drawings, such as an ``Indian Riding a Horse with an Umbrella,'' which depicts a more quiet life rather than war.
The exhibit has 36 scenes of a total of 116, drawn by the Red Hawk. In addition to warfare, the scenes also show horse stealing, peace councils, the use of Ghost Dance shirts and warriors returning to their wives. In many scenes, the warriors names are written above their heads.
While depictions of war make up 58 percent of the collection, horse stealing, which would command respect if successful, make up an additional 31 percent.
Native American art in ledger books can be found in several collections around the country. Many were recovered from battlefields.
Gibbs said it was believed that if you took the ledger book with you, it would be good luck. American Indians were often given such ledgers to draw in after being imprisoned for participating in activities such as the Ghost Dance.
``Red Hawk likely had it when he probably died,'' she said. ``Days later, as the cavalry was cleaning up after a battle, it was picked up.''
The Sioux Ledger artwork will be on display in the Community Room at the Legacy of the Plains Museum until Dec. 18.
Information from: Star-Herald, http://www.starherald.com
Wisconsin Gets $11M in Federal Funds for Bus Improvements
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Wisconsin is getting $11.3 million in federal funding to improve public transportation.
The funds will go toward four projects intended to replace old buses and improve service for riders throughout the state, especially in rural areas, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .
Janesville will receive $2 million, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin will receive $180,000 and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will receive just over $5 million. Appleton will also receive funds.
The money is part of a more than $366 million grant package the Federal Transit Association recently awarded to more than 100 projects in the U.S. to improve the safety and reliability of bus systems.
Janesville will purchase five new buses, said Rebecca Smith, Janesville's transit director. It may take the city between 18 to 24 months to acquire the vehicles, which will use clean diesel and be fully ADA-accessible, she said.
``We want to keep our fleet moving forward,'' she said. ``So we can have better fuel efficiency, lower emissions, less replacement costs and higher reliability.''
The Menominee Department of Transit Services will purchase three new buses with the funds, which will likely be operational sometime next year, said Timothy Reed, the department's director. It will help the department modernize the service that sees 200,000 riders annually, he said.
``We do have low-income, elderly and handicapped individuals, and providing the public transportation that the (Menominee transit) department provides is essential so they can access recreational opportunities, doctors appointments and just getting to work.'' Reed said.
The state Transportation Department will use its funds to purchase buses for rural transit providers. The department is accepting applications until Dec. 13. Recipients will be notified early next year.
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org
Red Cliff to Build Cell Tower in Aftermath of Drownings
RED CLIFF, Wis. (AP) _ The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa says plans are underway for a cell tower on its reservation in northern Wisconsin, a need that was underscored by the recent drowning deaths of four family members in the Apostle Islands.
The family's calls for help on Lake Superior went unanswered for hours due to poor cell coverage. Red Cliff IT director Theron Rutnya tells Wisconsin Public Radio News the tribe hopes to build a cell tower within the next five years as part of a nationwide effort to create a public safety broadband network.
Rutnya says the cell tower will cover the northern part of the Apostle Islands, the reservation and surrounding towns. He says the tragic drowning of Erik Fryman and his three children brings the need for infrastructure to the forefront.
This story has been corrected to show the drownings occurred on Lake Superior, not Lake Michigan.
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org
First Nations Launches Grants to Support Farmers, Ranchers and Scholarships
First Nations Launches New Keepseagle Fast-Track Grants to Support Native American Farmers and Ranchers
Application Deadline October 5, 2018
LONGMONT, Colorado (August 20, 2018) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today launched a new grant program to support Native American farmers and ranchers. This grant program is an outgrowth of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack case that spanned more than 18 years in federal litigation. Funding for the effort comes to First Nations from the Keepseagle-related Native American Agriculture Fast-Track Fund (NAAFTF).
First Nations’ new effort – known as the Keepseagle Fast-Track Grants to Support Native Farmers & Ranchers – falls under First Nations’ existing Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI). Under the new program, First Nations will award 17 to 20 grants averaging $30,000 to $40,000 each to organizations in Native communities, with the goal of growing and/or expanding direct services to and/or programs that serve or directly collaborate with Native American farmers and ranchers. In sum, the goal of these grants is to provide much-needed assistance to grow or expand programs and services to organizations in Native communities that serve Native farmers and ranchers.
For these grants, First Nations is conducting a two-phase application process. Applicants will first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) application that is due no later than Friday, October 5, 2018 (go here for information). From the Letter of Intent applications, First Nations will then select from 40 to 50 applicants to submit a more-complete full proposal, which will be due in December 2018.
Full information can be found at this link: https://firstnations.org/grantmaking/2018NAFSIKeepseagle
Types of eligible applicants include, but are not limited to:
- Federal- and state-recognized tribal governments and departments (including but not limited to heritage departments, economic development entities, natural resources, agricultural departments, etc.)
- Native-controlled 501(c)(3) nonprofits
- Native-controlled community organizations with fiscal sponsorship
- Native §7871 organizations
- Note: Organizations that received direct support from the Native American Agriculture Fast-Track Fund are NOT eligible to apply.
Selected grantees under this opportunity must use the funding to support projects in Native communities with the goal of growing and/or expanding services or programs to Native American farmers and ranchers. Examples of allowable activities under this funding opportunity include, but are not limited to:
- Native farmer and rancher trainings
- Capacity and skill-building services offered to producers
- Cooperative management programs
- Projects that focus on multiple producers
- Intergenerational or youth-focused farming and ranching programs
- Engaging farmers and ranchers in plans for local food-system control
- Program focused on increasing business operations or access to capital
- Projects connecting farms to market opportunities, technical assistance and more.
Examples of unallowable activities under this funding opportunity include:
- New building construction
- Scholarships or tuition assistance
- Films, television and/or radio programs
- Development campaigns
- Funding for individuals
- Purchase of real estate
- Support of lobbying activities or drafting legislation
- Support of litigation
(For general background about the Keepseagle v. Vilsack case and the subsequent distribution of funds from the settlement, please see our recent announcement at this link.)
Apply Now for Native Agriculture & Food Systems College Scholarships
Applications Due October 4, 2018
First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is now accepting applications for the fifth year of its First Nations Native Agriculture and Food Systems Scholarship Program that aims to encourage more Native American college students to enter the agricultural sector in Native communities.
First Nations will award five scholarships of $1,000 each to Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian college students majoring in agriculture and related fields, including but not limited to agribusiness management, agriscience technologies, agronomy, animal husbandry, aquaponics, environmental studies, fisheries and wildlife, food production and safety, food-related policy and legislation, food science and technology, horticulture, irrigation science, nutrition education, and sustainable agriculture or food systems.
Complete information and a link to the online application can be found at www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/scholarship. All applications must be completed and submitted by 5 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Thursday, October 4, 2018.
To be eligible, applicants must:
- Be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student majoring in an agricultural-related field, or be able to demonstrate how their degree program relates to Native food systems.
- Be tribally-affiliated and able to provide documentation.
- Have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.75.
- Demonstrate a commitment to helping his or her Native community reclaim local food-system control.
Applicants will be asked to complete an online application and provide other required information, including proof of tribal affiliation, college enrollment verification, unofficial transcripts, a letter of recommendation from a faculty member, and a short essay submission of 250 to 500 words.
First Nations believes that reclaiming control over local food systems is an important step toward ensuring the long-lasting health and economic well-being of Native people and communities. Native food-system control has the potential to increase food production, improve health and nutrition, and eliminate food insecurity in rural and reservation-based communities, while also promoting entrepreneurship and economic development. The purpose of the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Scholarship Program is to encourage more Native American college students to enter these fields so they can better assist their communities with these efforts.
About First Nations Development Institute
For 38 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.firstnations.org.
The Nez Perce Gather for Battle of the Big Hole Anniversary
By MADDIE VINCENT
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) _ A man and his wife woke to the sound of gun shots early on August 9, 1877. The wife told her husband to get his gun and fight. He told her to grab their 2-year-old daughter and run for the willows.
The woman's child wasn't in the tipi. She frantically searched through the animal skins for her daughter. When she stepped outside of her home, she found her _ the little girl was walking toward the soldiers and their flashing rifles. The mother sprinted toward her, but before she could get there, her little girl was shot.
This is the story a nimi-pu, or Nez Perce, tribal elder told to start off the open microphone portion of the Annual Commemoration of the Battle of the Big Hole, earlier this month. The story took place 141 years ago, but the elder tells it like it was yesterday.
``I can see this happening,'' he says through a portable microphone, sitting in a lawn-chair circle with other tribal elders on the same soil their ancestors were sleeping on that day in August. ``I can see the little girl walking, see the toddler get shot, see the woman grab that child and take a bullet in the back. But she survived. And she buried her child two days later somewhere on the trail at an unmarked grave.''
The two great-granddaughters of the mother that survived stood up at the end of the man's story. To commemorate this story specifically, the elders asked for a young nimi-pu girl, close to 2 years old, to come to the circle at the front of the gathering. Sage tiwiiwasas Campbell and her mother came forward. The elders and tribal leaders gave her a chair and a small gift, encouraging her and the rest of the tribal members present to remember the sacrifices their ancestors made over one hundred years ago.
This story, along with the several others shared, weighed heavy on the 40-plus people who came to the Big Hole Battlefield, which is now managed as a Nez Perce Historical Park by the National Park Service. Most were tribal members, but the leaders stressed that the battle is Montana history and important for all Montanans to understand.
Historically, the nimi-pu people moved throughout about 7.5 million acres of land in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Wyoming, where they would fish, hunt and trade. Then, in 1855, the Nez Perce agreed to give the U.S. government their tribal land, so long as it was protected as the tribe's exclusive reservation, according the Nez Perce Tribe's website. An 1860 gold discovery on the reservation led to a second treaty in 1863, which took away protection of 5 million acres. The nimi-pu outside of the small reservation left were considered non-treaty Nez Perce and refused to endorse this ``steal treaty.'' Their defiance led to the Nez Perce Flight of 1877, a 126-day, 1,170-mile, 8-battle run from the U.S. Army.
The Battle of the Big Hole was a turning point in this flight, according to the national battlefield's website. The non-treaty nimi-pu, about 800 people and 2,000 horses, had passed peacefully through the Bitterroot Valley near Missoula and believed the U.S. Army was not pursuing them _ that the fighting was over. They arrived at the soon-to-be battlefield near present-day Wisdom on August 7, 1877, to rest before heading to buffalo country.
Two days later, army soldiers made a surprise attack at dawn. Between 60 and 90 nimi-pu were killed.
``Looking around, I can think of many reasons why our ancestors stopped here,'' Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Chairman Shannon Wheeler said through the microphone. ``I can feel the deep, heartfelt sadness of this place.''
Wheeler talked about how he carries the same nimi-pu name his great-grandfather carried through the 1877 battles. He said his people just wanted to be people, to be left alone to live their lives _ a desire and challenge the nimipu still face today as Indian people, Wheeler said.
``Every time I have to make a difficult decision, I think of the ultimate sacrifice my ancestors made,'' Wheeler said. ``I hope we can make similar sacrifices and go on for our people. I never want to forget who I represent.''
While the descendants of the Battle of the Big Hole spoke, the sweet smell of their sacred pipes wafted from the center of the tribal circle. In between stories and speeches, singing and drumming honored this history and six nimi-pu horses circled the gathering, both riders and animals decorated with colorful beadwork. Many of the stories were of sadness and heartbreak, but many were also of hope.
``We are a living history. We have an unbreakable connection with Mother Earth and with our ancestors,'' Casey Mitchell or Sun Necklace said, secretary of the tribe's executive committee. ``This is where we were supposed to be, where the Creator intended us to be. No matter how much time goes by, we will always have this connection.''
Information from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com
Choctaw Student Connects with Mississippi Roots
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) _ He has never lived in Mississippi. But the state is home in a way much deeper than his own birth.
``This is my homeland,'' said Thomas Olive, standing at the Natchez Trace Visitor Center on a recent day in Tupelo. ``I always get goosebumps when I talk about it.''
Olive, 24, is from Durant, Oklahoma. He is also Choctaw. Alongside Alyson Chapman, who is Chickasaw, he completed an internship from June through the end of July at the Natchez Trace Parkway, working in Ridgeland and Tupelo.
Through research and educational outreach, Olive and Chapman helped the parkway make real the story of the people who first called Mississippi home.
Even in the early years after statehood in 1820, the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes still held as much as two-thirds of the land in Mississippi. The federal Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced the Chickasaws and almost all Choctaws to accept relocation to Oklahoma.
Natchez Trace Parkway Ranger Jane Farmer in Tupelo was instrumental in coordinating the summer internship.
She saw the presence of Olive and Chapman as a way to interact more meaningfully with the history and culture of Mississippi's native inhabitants.
``It helps us learn more about the heritage of the people rather than just having to read it in a book,'' Farmer said. ``They can teach us. We can experience it.''
Olive spoke in a like-minded way. He hopes that his very presence at a place like the Natchez Trace is an emblem of the way Native Americans remain a vital and ongoing part of the American story and the Mississippi story.
``I think the Trace is heading in the perfect direction to not only keep the culture behind the glass window but to literally let people experience it when they are here,'' Olive said. ``It's not archaic. It's living and breathing still today.''
Among their summertime contributions, Olive and Chapman conducted research for a temporary panel display on the uses of fire. Olive's contributions to the panel delve into the use of fire in the traditional cultivation of river cane, while Chapman's contributions highlight fire's cultural significance for Native Americans in the area.
Other information on the display will highlight the ongoing use of fire as a forest management tool.
The temporary exhibit should go on display at the Natchez Trace Visitors Center in Tupelo sometime in the next couple of days and will be up through the middle of September, Farmer said.
Some of the research on river cane and fire will also make its way into a pamphlet under development by the Trace, Farmer said.
Olive, 24, is a student at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. Credit hours earned during his internship at the Trace will allow him to complete a bachelor's degree in Native American studies.
Up next for Olive is a master's degree in Native American leadership at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
He is considering a career in the National Park Service or Choctaw leadership.
But wherever his future leads, his Choctaw identity will define him and Mississippi will remain a touchstone of that identity.
``The Natchez Trace has definitely become a part of my life,'' Olive said. ``It's an amazing trip to the mother land, an eye-opener, literally a cultural enlightenment.''
Indian Kids' Art Heads Home to Arizona from Louisiana Attic
By HENRIETTA WILDSMITH
The Shreveport Times
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) _ When antique dealer Ray Stevenson first saw the Chinle Boarding School student artwork in an attic at a Shreveport garage sale in 2000, he had no idea what he was looking at. All he knew was that he was drawn to the children's drawing.
``You need to get this,'' he told himself.
So he purchased the folder, which was filled with about 60 drawings, a 1964 yearbook and several black-and-white photos.
All he knew at the time that the items had belonged to a ``Mr. Palmer.'' One photo inside the folder depicted a man who was thought to be ``Mr. Palmer.
Stevenson then stored the folder in an old trunk in his house. And there it stayed for the next eight years.
Meanwhile, Stevenson's love of antiques morphed into a love of history, especially a love of African American history. Stevenson thought there was much about this history that was untold. He saw it as his mission to preserve as much as he could.
It was with this new perspective that Stevenson reexamined the Chinle art and saw that it was more than just children's art.
Many of the pictures had pieces of white paper on a corner identifying them as entries in the 12th annual arts and crafts show at Chinle Boarding School in Many Farms, Arizona. The labels bore each artist's name and age, the medium in which the art was created, and its sale price. An example: Arlene Nez's chalk drawing of a profile of a Native American man with long hair and feather was priced at 20 cents.
The closer Stevenson looked, the more he wanted to learn. After researching Native American boarding schools, he saw parallels between their history and the civil rights movement of the 1960's.
``Each culture has a struggle, and each has its own story,'' he said. ``Although we are all in the story together, each is different.''
One thing Stevenson learned was that the Native American schools were created by Christian reformers to mold children to be more ``western.'' An article in a 2014 Navajo Times article summed it up this way:
``These boarding schools would, as Carlisle Indian School founder Richard Pratt would so famously put it, `kill the Indian in order to save the man.'''
Stevenson reached out to the Navajo Times with his find and, in 2012, the newspaper published an article along with his contact information. He hoped to find some of the students whose artwork he now owned.
It worked. Stevenson learned that Mr. Palmer was a math teacher at the Chinle boarding school during the 1960's. Former students and teachers told Stevenson that they remembered Mr. Palmer as a wonderful person.
Stevenson contacted the Navajo Nation Museum in Arizona, and secured a showing of several pieces of the art for October 2018.
Stevenson then connected with Native American artist Elmer Yazzie, who stopped by the Stevenson's shop, Big Mamas Antiques and Restorations in Shreveport, on a recent trip to Louisiana to look at the art. Yazzie helped choose 12 student artworks to be shown at the upcoming show. Together, Yazzie and Stevenson made mats for the art and discussed how to present them.
As a former boarding school student and then as an art teacher for several years, Yazzie had a unique perspective.
While his boarding school experience was positive, Yazzie is aware of the schools' historical and not entirely positive significance.
``The boarding schools were a follow-up to the conquest of the West,'' Yazzie said, adding that the intent was to ``change the minds of the native students to become more Americanized.''
As Stevenson and Yazzie looked at the several pieces of art, Yazzie talked about the land depicted.
``This is so valuable because it tells a bit of their experiences that they have and appreciation they have for the land, the earth and the animals, and appreciation for human life.'' Yazzie said.
Stevenson is happy the art is going back to Arizona for the upcoming show.
``I think it is wonderful that the work will be going back to where it once started,'' he said.
Buffy Sainte-Marie headlining Detroit's Concert of Colors
DETROIT (AP) _ Folk music veteran and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is among the headliners of a festival celebrating the musical and cultural diversity of Detroit.
The Canadian singer and Native American activist, who was part of the 1960s North American folk scene, is scheduled to perform July 15 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center as part of the 26th Concert of Colors .
Sainte-Marie shared an Oscar in 1983 for the original song, ``Up Where We Belong,'' which was featured in ``An Officer and a Gentleman.'' She continues to release music and garner awards.
The multi-day, multi-venue event will run July 11-15. It again features the Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue led by Was, a nationally renowned musician and producer with Detroit roots.
All performances are free and open to the public.
International clothing company exhibits Santa Fe-based art
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ An international clothing company based in San Francisco is introducing a spring fashion line that exhibits Native American-inspired art and designs, including a collaboration with the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and work by Santa Fe-based artist Gregory Lomayesva, who is of Hopi and Hispanic heritage.
The company, Tea Collection, explores a different culture around the world each season and creates children's clothes using designs inspired or created by local artists of that region. For 2018, the company decided to focus on the United States, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported .
Laura Boes, vice president for design, said it felt important for the company to tell the story of the cultures that make up the U.S.
Boes visited New Mexico in 2017 and her team worked with different pueblos and the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, eventually asking Lomayesva and other Native artists in the U.S. to create graphics that could be reproduced.
By commissioning local artists or creating designs inspired by these cultures, Tea Collection tried to translate motifs and styles distinguishing the culture in a way children can enjoy, Boes said.
``Making the foreign familiar and bringing that into the lives of children is really special,'' she said. ``I hope that everybody in Santa Fe or with connection to the museum feels proud of our collection.''
Lomayesva said he has taught himself how to create all his art since he never went to school.
The contemporary painter and sculptor often uses aspects of his Hopi and Hispanic heritage in his works. More recently, Lomayesva has started creating vacuum tubes for different sound equipment used in recording studios and branching into photography.
When Tea Collection approached him about the fashion line, he said he had to do a lot of tweaking before creating designs suitable for children's clothes.
``It was nice to chill out and stop trying to be some hot . artist and just return to the craft,'' Lomayesva said. ``It's so fun.''
He said working on this project took him in a different direction than his other works, one with more vivid colors and happier meanings.
``It opened doors to a place in my brain I wasn't using,'' he said. ``I really look forward to the future of what this has brought to me.''
Boes said she and her team worked with representatives of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture so that as the company looked to pueblo pottery for inspiration, it was not disrespecting the culture.
``A lot of clothing brands have appropriated Native American art,'' Boes said. ``We wanted to make sure we were telling the story in the right way.''
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com
Tribes say 'no thanks' to plan for scaled-back Bears Ears
By KYLEY SCHULTZ
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Leaders of five tribes accused lawmakers Tuesday of ``cherry-picking'' tribal members to support an 85 percent reduction in the Bears Ears monuments, and said proposed tribal management of the new monument would be in name only.
The testimony from Navajo, Hopi and other leaders contradicted lawmakers from Utah and some local tribal officials. They said plan to reduce the size of the 1.35 million acre monument designated by President Barack Obama in 2016 _ and reversed by President Donald Trump in 2017 _ was a response to a grassroots movement from tribes in the area.
``If you want the best results, you need to look at the local response, which is that they don't want this monument as big as it is,'' said former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who testified before the House Natural Resources Committee Tuesday.
``National and local tribes and Utahns know the culture is rich in history, but it is vital we get the structure and management right,'' Chaffetz said. ``This bill allows for increased ability to have tribal communications and an increase in participation of tribal management.''
But leaders of five tribes from the region dismissed those claims, calling the plan to reverse the monument designation a ``gross overreach for personal and private interests'' that want to open the lands to development.
``The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation but to many tribes in the region,'' said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye.
``The monument would be created by Trump appointees with consultation of the Utah delegation, who cherry-pick only a fraction of actual tribal members to be on a council,'' Begaye said. ``The `tribal management' depicted in this bill is tribal in name only.''
They were debating the Shaash J'aa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act, new monuments on 226,000 acres that would remain of the 1.35 million acres that were designated the Bears Ears National Monument by Obama before he left office.
Carleton Bowekaty, a Pueblo of Zuni council member, said the proposed reduction in the size of the monument ``desecrates much of the sacred land our ancestors cherished.''
All the land in Bears Ears was already owned by the federal government, but supporters said the monument designation was needed to protect important natural and cultural sites. But critics called it an overreach by the president that ignored local residents' desires.
Besides slashing the footprint of the monument, the bill also creates the Shash J'aa Tribal Management Council of tribal and local officials to oversee the new monuments that the bill's backers said will give needed local and tribal control.
San Juan County Commission Vice Chair Rebecca Benally said the bill is ``critical'' to allowing more local involvement in control of the lands.
``By supporting H.R. 4532, you are listening to a group who has been silenced for too long,'' Benally said in her testimony. ``The grassroots efforts in San Juan Country stand up for the old and the new, and I'm disheartened for current tribal members to discredit grassroots efforts to stand up.''
But other witnesses said the new management council would replace legitimate tribal voices with officials handpicked by local tribal members.
``Nothing about this council reflects actual tribal management,'' said Tony Small, a member of the Ute Indian Tribe's Business Committee. He testified that the local tribes that would be represented on the council are ``simply private citizens expressing their opinion. They do not represent the view of the federally recognized tribal governments.''
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, urged lawmakers to listen to the officially represented tribal councils, rather than local residents and lawmakers.
``We need to listen to the duly elected representatives who were chosen to speak on behalf of their tribe and we need to uphold a democratic process,'' Gallego said. ``We need to really understand what is at stake here.''
Gallego said that skipping the tribal governments is ``somewhat of a shame.'' But Chaffetz said there has been no attempt to circumvent the tribal governments.
``We've had well over 1,200 meetings over the course of four years discussing the potential monument and tried multiple times to keep in open contact with tribal officials,'' he said. ``Simply speaking, 1,200 meetings should have been sufficient to have an open dialogue.''