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.

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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.''

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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
Associated Press

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.

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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.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

 

New State Capitol Exhibit Highlights New York's Diversity

By CHRIS CAROLA
Associated Press

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
Associated Press

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.''

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Information from: Gallup Independent, http://www.gallupindependent.com

 

Catholic Student Says He Didn't Disrespect Native American

By JOHN MINCHILLO
Associated Press

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
Associated Press

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.''

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Associated Press writer Lisa Cornwell in Park Hills, Kentucky, contributed.

 

Students Seen Mocking Native Americans Could Face Expulsion

By ADAM BEAM and BRIAN MELLEY

Associated Press

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
Associated Press

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.

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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.''

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

 

Trump Administration Sides with Tribes in Drilling Dispute

By MATTHEW BROWN
Associated Press

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.

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Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MatthewBrownAP

 

Trial Under Way in Long-Running Northern Arizona Water Case

By FELICIA FONSECA
Associated Press

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:

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HISTORY

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.''

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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.

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WHO'S INVOLVED?

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.

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HOPI CLAIMS

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.

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SETTLEMENT TALKS

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.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

 

Ledger Shows Intimate History of Sioux Warrior Red Hawk

By IRENE NORTH
Star-Herald

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.

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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.

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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.

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This story has been corrected to show the drownings occurred on Lake Superior, not Lake Michigan.

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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
  • Endowments
  • 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/scholarshipAll 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
Montana Standard

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
Cronkite News

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.''